Monday, December 30, 2013

Disgusting Bar Room Conversation Regarding Three-Ways

This was a conversation that Crazy Bob and another Vodkaberg alumni and I had in Dubai a few weeks ago.












Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Christmas, what's that? Some kind of infidel holiday?

BAH HUMBUG

We got the following e-mail at work today: 

Teachers are expected to abide by local custom and treat December 25th as a normal working day with no deviation from pacing schedules.
It is considered inappropriate to raise the following subjects, and it is expected for teachers to prevent on-going discussions should they be raised by trainees:
1.       Christmas
2.       Nativity
3.       Carol singing (or singing Happy Birthday)
4.       Wishing anyone “Merry Christmas”
5.       Classes, or activities in classes, on any festive season themes
I hope this e-mail will be taken in the spirit with which it is intended - to protect teachers from causing unnecessary offense to citizens of their host country. 

So that's where all my decisions in life have brought me; this is the culmination of all I have chosen: Christmas is fucking illegal. 

Anyway, how am I? 

Money is piling up at an astounding rate; enjoyable experiences, not so much. 

I'm working in the evening now, 3:00pm - 11:00pm and it's slightly more bearable than working in the mornings, but this is still one of the worst jobs I've ever had. I'm paid enormous amounts of money to go in and stand around while the students refuse to work, for the most part. Five 40-minute classes per day now (after doing a large amount of nothing the first three months I was here) but we have to sit around the office when we're not working.

And as I said: I live in a trailer park. 

So what would YOU do for $8000 a month?  

Got my first two-week holiday in February; the Girlfriend and I are going to the Maldives in one last attempt to work something out with our relationship. I'll be working on Christmas and New Year's, but that's hardly anything new so I don't think I'll sit home and cry or anything. 

SOME CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

You can read CHRISTMAS IN BANGKOK for FREE on Amazon this week:



Or you can just read the original story here:


And here are some other old international Christmas stories you can peruse. 



So what am I going to do?  

I'm going to Dubai next weekend, but on Christmas day I think I'll watch this: 


or this is a reliable holiday choice:  


Merry Christmas, and to all a good night!

COMING: Disgusting bar conversation with Crazy Bob RE: Three Ways. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Interview with the TEFL Tradesman

Whoops, I've kind of been neglecting to talk more about English teaching, here in the English Teacher X blog. Here's an interview I did with Sandy McManus last year. 


INTERVIEW WITH SANDY McMANUS
Sandy McManus is like ETX -- a venerable veteran TEFLer. Half-Irish, half-Scottish, and all mad, he vents his rage about the worst aspects of the TEFL industry on his blog, http://tefltradesman.blogspot.com.

How long have you been teaching, and where?

My first teaching post was in Spain in the mid 1980s, and since then (25 years ago!) I have worked in France, Turkey, Russia, and a few other places in the Gulf. Now I’m back on my native soil (hometown, in fact). All bad pennies roll back home, I guess.

What made you decide to become a teacher in the first place?

Lack of ambition, I suppose; combined with a desire to keep travelling, moving around the world, and generally not settle down. Yes, I was in thrall to my itchy feet! I also had a keen desire to experience the constant anxiety that is a feature of the genteel poverty of the less employable middle classes, rather like Mr. Micawber in Dickens’ great classic, David Copperfield. So it was literature too that got me into this game!

Which places did you like the most, and the least? 

I do harbor an ambition to return (retire) to Spain one day, as I enjoyed the teaching and the lifestyle there so much, but please don’t mention this to my wife, as she is entirely fed up with so much globe-trotting. I would never go back to the Gulf countries, unless you paid me ultra-handsomely and allowed me to do virtually diddly-squat all day.

Who have been your most venal and incompetent employers?

Which ones aren’t?

Which students have you found the most difficult and thankless to teach? 

The rich and the stupid (in many cases, especially in the Gulf, they exist together in the same body – very handy!). I enjoy failing the ultra-wealthy ones and humiliating the dimbos – it’s one of the few perks of this job. Actually, I don’t really object to lazy students – they make my job so much easier!

When and why did you decide to start the TEFL Tradesman website?

I think version 1 kicked off in early January 2005, when I actually found myself with enough free time on my hands to start a blog. I had long had a burning desire to dump on this profession’s shysters, ridicule the whacky so-called “methods” of teaching, and highlight the many degenerates and social retards that typically haunt the staffrooms of the least desirable “schools,” and setting up a blog seemed the best way to do it. It’s gone through a few different versions and mutations since those early days – usually due to threats of legal action or physical violence – but my current site dates from 2008 (or maybe 2009) I believe. To date I have suffered no acts of grievous bodily harm, and no financial misfortunes have befallen me via the courts. But there’s still time, I guess!!

Where do you stand on the issue of having sex with students?

It’s better lying down than standing, I reckon, although the anal variety, so I am told, can be successful in the upright position when tackled with care and integrity. No, actually my wife was one of my students, so how can I possibly be against the idea? However, shagging a colleague’s students is a complete no-no, as it only provokes jealousy in the staffroom.

Who's the most fucked-up teacher you've ever met? 

There are far too many to mention, but most of them have found their way into the TEFL Tradesman blog at some time or other, either as a composite or an individual portrayal. The ugly British Council bulldog? She’s there, along with the alcoholic Director of Studies and the callous, dismissive small-time school Proprietor who actually thinks he’s running the next …

What would be your main advice for someone who wanted to get into TEFL?

See a doctor, or ring The Samaritans. It’s a very nice way to see the world for a couple of years or so, but no more than that – a ticket to ride. Working in a language school in the UK must be the suckiest job imaginable, which is why I avoid them and am so keen to pan them. If you do return to your native country and want to remain in teaching, you should train properly and become a state school teacher or college lecturer. Otherwise, you condemn yourself to a lifetime of insecurity, bad pay, and socially inept colleagues.

What are your hopes or plans for the future? 


I no longer have hopes – “those who live on hope die of hunger,” I believe an important American once said. Now I just expect the worst, and remain pleasantly surprised when things turn out well. So I just plan to survive now – until I can retire at the ripe old age of … ooh, 50?

* * * 
Of course for more lowdown on TEFL as well as a dozen or so interviews with real teachers, check out the 2013 edition of ENGLISH TEACHER X GUIDE TO TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD. 
Get it here as an e-book on Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Smashwords 
Get it here as a paperback at Amazon / Createspace



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hacks Hacking Hacks



As I am bemused by the attempts to use the term ALPHA to apply to rootless, drunken misanthropes, roaming around fucking drunk sluts and supporting themselves with dodgy internet ventures, so am I equally beginning to be amused by the attempts to use the term HACK to denote a superior way of accomplishing things. "Life Hacks" "Travel Hacks" "Hacking Your Job" "Hacking Ukrainian Babes" and so forth.

This usage seems to have originated with Mr. 4-Hour Work Week -- when I was a kid we just called it cheating, but there you go -- I understand that it's supposed in this case to mean something like an easy shortcut to productivity.

But again, did anybody bother to look in the dictionary?  Apart from idea of using a computer to gain unauthorized access, and the idea of cutting, chopping or slicing crudely, we have some of the following definitions of it as a verb:

to damage or injure by crude, harsh, or insensitive treatment; mutilate; mangle: The editor hacked the story to bits.

to reduce or cut ruthlessly; trim: The Senate hacked the budget severely before returning it to the House.

More damning, using it as a noun gives us some of the following wonderfully on-the-nose definitions:

a person, as an artist or writer, who exploits, for money, his or her creative ability or training in the production of dull, unimaginative, and trite work; one who produces banal and mediocre  work in the hope of gaining commercial success in the arts: As a painter, he was little more than a hack.

a professional who renounces or surrenders individual independence, integrity, belief, etc., in return for money or other reward in the performance of a task normally thought of as involving a strong personal commitment: a political hack.

an old or worn-out horse; a jade

A few other definitions of interest as verbs:

to make trite or stale by frequent use (as in hackneyed)

to take a poor, awkward or ineffective swing at the ball (especially in tennis) 

and of course:

to cough harshly in short, repeated spasms

Just a little semantic thought-of-the-day from ETX. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll get back to my hack writing projects.





Thursday, December 05, 2013

Safety Message

Everybody thinks terrorism when you mention that you work in the Middle East; but in point of fact you're at WAY bigger risk of getting killed in a car accident than to of getting involved in an awful compound massacre.

People drive like fucking lunatics. Some combination of bottled-up aggression, sexual frustration, cheap gas, and extensive empty highways cause the residents to love driving fast. The young guys particularly love drag racing and drift racing. The Kingdom has one of the highest rates of death from motor vehicle accidents in the world.

We are called upon in my job here at the Big Corporate Entity to give safety messages to the trainees; these often involve exhorting them to drive safely.

Here was this week's safety message.









Rest in peace, Paul Walker. He drift races with the angels now.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday - What the Fuck, It's Only a Buck

In my attempts to get back in touch with the American normal-person zeitgeist, here's a special Black Friday offer for you, so you can stay home and not get stabbed or trampled.

This latest edit of TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY has a couple of new chapters in the section about Bangkok -- I always thought the book was a bit brief about that very eventful part of my life. (The new chapters are based on blog posts / old journal entries I made here, by the way, so it's not entirely new material or anything.) Also hopefully weeded out the last few typos, and given it better and clearer formatting including a hyper-linked table of contents and well organized front- and back-matter.


Here's a coupon to get it here at SMASHWORDS in the e-book format of your choice for 99 cents. Coupon Code: YK46M

And this latest "director's cut" edit of VODKABERG has a new short section or two, plus a new line-edit (though I suspect a few stubborn typos are stuck in the cracks), a hyper-linked table of contents to each year, better-organized front- and back-matter, and links to "bonus material," specifically the Return to Vodkaberg posts I made this year.


Get it here at SMASHWORDS in the e-book format of your choice for $1.00. Coupon Code: EM73V

Why was I spending time doing that, when I should be working on my next memoir? Well, I had to get that voice back in my head again, right. And refresh my mind on the contrast between the young X and the middle-aged X, because both of them are going to be in the next book.

Oh and another bonus track: don't forget that HOW TO SURVIVE LIVING ABROAD is still free on Amazon and also free on Smashwords, new edition with contributions from well-known bloggers and average anonymous shmoes alike.





Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Doin' Dubai with Crazy Bob

"Hey X! Come check out my Chinese whore!" shouted Crazy Bob from the hallway. It was about 4:30 am.

I was dozing drunkenly on the sofa of his expensive apartment overlooking Dubai Marina. Bob had been working in the Emirates since the previous October, and had gotten the nice apartment at Dubai Marina in hopes of bringing his Russian wife and daughter there, but his wife had eventually declined to move there, describing Dubai as "hot and uncivilized." Bob had been unable to get any job in America except for day labor, however, so he was sticking with the Emirates.

Would you pay $2000 a month for this view? Sure why not.

"I CAN'T BE POLITE OR FAITHFUL WHEN I'M DRUNK, EITHER." 

I'd arrived that evening, October 31st, and we'd celebrated Halloween in relatively good style at the Barrasti beach bar at the Raddison. There were plenty of costumes and Halloween cheer, only perhaps hampered by the 80% - 20% male / female ratio. (And the $10 beers, maybe, but we're men of the world with decent salaries now.)

Bob had been a little pissed that an Indian girl he'd been banging had blown him off for the evening, instead running off with a tall Dutch guy. "Crazy slut," he said. I was returning with the beers I'd waited in line for ten minutes with and had missed all the drama. "She's drunk all the time. Her friend just tried to tell me that she was out of town for the weekend but then I saw her with that big tall fucker."

"She sounds like your soul-mate," I said.

"I can't be polite or faithful when I'm drunk, either, that's one thing we have in common."

We drank and hung out. The bar sprawls out of a couple of levels onto a beach with a number of tables and a stage, with interesting view of all the Blade Runner style buildings towering overhead.


When Crazy Bob gets drunk, he usually can't control his urges and begins groping the asses or breasts of random women. This kind of maneuver might get you some anger from an Eastern European girl, but will tend to drive a British girl, of whom there were many in the bar, into complete hysterics, and indeed that happened, when Bob ran his hand up the leg (right to the crotch) of a British girl in a sexy nurse's outfit standing near our table. (The girl herself was not particularly sexy, I should add.)

Amazingly we didn't get our asses kicked; the security guards only asked him to move to a different table.

"British girls, god I fucking hate them," he bemoaned. "They come over here and think they're princesses. The Emirati guys will fuck anything, and they buy them tons of shit. And the Emiratis don't work so they don't have anything to do but lift weights and exercise all day."

"It seems to be mostly British engineers in here," I said.

"Yeah, they'll fuck anything, also."

"They're not discriminating like you," I say.

He mentions that good-lucking Persian girls we'd met a few weeks previously, on another visit. "That girl had the plumpest, silkiest pussy I've experienced lately."

"Silkiest ..."

"Kind of really like, slick and smooth, you know?"

"As opposed to full of gravel, like usually?"

"No, you know, really like moist and ... plump, that word comes back to me. It really like forms around you, you know?"

"Actually I think I do know what you're talking about. Real smooth and silky on the inside, I think I do know what you're talking about. Why don't you call those girls tonight?"

"Jesus Christ, you don't want that. We don't want to spend that much money." He mentions that he'd taken one of them to a nearby bar and spent over 1000 dirhams (about $266) on her, just a few drinks and some smoked salmon appetizers.

"Well that says more about the bar, maybe, not the girl. You can't just invite them over for tequila shots?"

"Jesus no. They're used to being driven around in Ferraris and shit. It's really disgusting. Completely the opposite of Russia."

"Yeah, for our sins, I guess. That's why I wanted to come here. Cleanse myself."

Crazy Bob is ten years younger than I am. "I certainly don't feel cleansed. I'm drinking maybe a bit more than I did in Russia actually. You know, you get a lot of middle-aged British women coming over here for sex tourism now."

"Really?"

"Oh yeah. Most of the teachers I work with are middle-aged women. And take a look at all those would-be cougars over by the bar there."

"Mmm, indeed. Now that you mention it, one of the guys I work with was telling me about working as a TEFL teacher in London, and all the men working there were involved in acrimonious divorces with their Eastern European wives, and all the women there were involved in acrimonious divorces with their Middle Eastern husbands."



"WHERE THE WHORES ARE?"

When they finally kicked everybody out of the bar at 3:00 am, Bob said he wanted a whore.

"Come on, there's a parking lot near here."

"Where the whores are?"

"Not exactly," he said. We charged over to a nearby parking lot and he began scouring the ground. "See, the escort agencies put these little business card things under people's windshields, and then they throw them on the ground ... ah! Here are a few. Koreans, that's what I want, but they always have Chinese and try to pass them off as Korean."

"Is there some big difference between a Korean and a Chinese?" I ask. "I've never noticed that much difference. I mean, I've had sex with a number of women and the vagina always runs in a vertical direction. Find me a horizontal one, that might interest me."

He showed me a few business cards with pictures of sexy Asian nymphs and phone numbers offering "in home massage service."

"Don't you have any of these cards at home?" I asked.

"No, because I get disgusted with myself and throw them away."

"Doesn't that mean you'll probably regret this?"

"Yeah, of course," he says. "Let me use your phone, I don't have any time left on mine."

So at 4:30 am the whore rang the door bell.  She seemed to be okay looking, and I squinted at her, trying to focus my blurred middle-aged myopic eyes. I knew you'd need to check out her stomach and ass though, to get a real idea about her, but they were hidden by her tight clothes.

"I asked for a Korean but I'll bet you anything she's Chinese," said Bob, standing there in his boxers. the girl doesn't comment. I'm wearing cargo shorts and black socks, so we probably looked like (yet another) bad orgy in the making.

I took a glass of salty Dubai tap water. The stuff on Bob's kitchen counter tells a number of stories: broad-spectrum antibiotics, a tub of protein powder, vitamins, a coffee mug imprinted with a picture of Bob's daughter, now nearly 2 years old.

"You're just going to sleep?" asks the Chinese hooker.

"Yeah, I'm just going to sleep. I'm an old man and I need my rest," I say.

I climb back onto the sofa, cover my face with a t-shirt, and immediately go back to sleep.



"YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY NEED YOUR AMYGDALA DESTROYED A BIT." 

I'm awakened by Crazy Bob asking: "Hey X, you want a beer?"

I check my watch; it's 9:30 am.

"I couldn't sleep," he says. He cracks a beer for both of us and I take a grateful swig, rubbing the sleep muck out of my eyes. The pervasive and purifying Middle Eastern November sun is streaming into the room.

"How was your Chinese whore?"

"Oh man, not worth it at all. Why didn't you stop me?"

"You wouldn't have listened. How much?"

"She charged 350 dirhams (about $95) but of course she didn't have change so she just took 400. Barebacked her too, in the end. The condom fell off, and I didn't bother to put it back on. I hope I don't get the clap again."

Bob is well known for his refusal to wear condoms. "Even here, you get it? I thought they had to pass medical tests to get in the country, it would be safer here."

"Jesus, no, I got something so virulent all the skin on my leg and hands turned red, just a few hours after banging some whore. There's all kinds of awful STDs around here."

"Well, you can be comforted that Vietnamese Black Rose Syphilis is just an urban myth. Your cock isn't going to turn black and burst open like a flower of rotten flesh. That's just a myth."

"The people at the clinic are starting to know my name," he said.

"Like back in Vodkaberg."

"That doctor at the clinic in Vodkaberg really got mad at me the fifth or sixth time I went in there." He stands up and imitates the middle-aged female doctor. "Presevatif nada, panyatna?"

"Did the hooker look okay when you got her unwrapped?"

He makes a face. "Not particularly. She had a gunt."

"Stretch marks?"

"Yeah."

"Well at least you can hope the money goes to a good cause; her kid back in China."

"The money could have been going to my kid back in Russia, which is a better cause."



We discuss money a bit; he says that he sends half his salary to them every month, but other than that manages to not only blow all of it but also rack up some credit card debt every month.

His apartment is pretty bare; Bob lives without media. He has no TV and no internet connection at home. He checks the internet at work occasionally, he says, though it's heavily blocked, and sometimes goes up on the roof where he can pick up an unprotected wifi signal. "But there are some security guards up there so I can't watch porn or anything."

We discuss the TED talk about how porn destroys the amygdala. "For most people," I say, "that's a bad thing but I think you might actually need your amygdala destroyed a bit."

"You know, actually," he says, "when I want to jerk off I often go to the beach and do it in the water."

"Really?"

"Yeah man, it's awesome. Find some girl I like in a bikini and swim around somewhere I can get a clear view of her and let one go. It never takes long, and nobody can see what I'm doing."

"That's pretty crazy even by Crazy Bob standards."

"Haven't you ever jacked off outside anywhere? It's great, I really feel like I'm sort of ... one with nature."

"I mean, I guess I have on camping trips. Oh, and driving. I used to have to drive five hours to see my dad a lot, and I'd do it while I was driving sometimes."

He thought that was pretty funny, and said he'd never done that.


"JUST STARTED CRYING AND COULDN'T STOP"

We bitch about our jobs a little bit; I'd been trying to get on with the outfit he works for last year, but my mother being diagnosed with cervical cancer had made me unable to start when they'd needed me in January.

I mention that the woman -- managing director of the English program -- I'd been corresponding with about the position had been surprisingly snippy when I'd told her about my mother's illness, and he says that she was a well-known alcoholic who was now in a mental hospital.

"Really?"

"Yeah, complete breakdown at work, just started crying and couldn't stop."

"I know that feeling," I say and he laughs as we crack a couple more beers. "Anyway, they offered me the job in the Kingdom in January and I thought it would be a big step up professionally, but it's just another shitty TEFL job. At least they pay well."

"Yeah, my job really sucks but yours sounds worse."

"Yeah, at least you can have some semblance of a life," I say. "You know what I can do in the evening where I live?"

"Jack off?" he suggests.

"Yeah. I can't even go to the supermarket unless I know for sure when the prayer times are, otherwise I have to stand on the street for thirty minutes. I'm seriously thinking of quitting, by the way, and looking for a job here."

"The worst part of this one is just that they move us from Emirate to Emirate all the time, there's all kinds of political bullshit." He'd worked in Sharjah, Fujeirah, and now was back in Abu Dhabi. "That wouldn't be a problem except I have to change my registration address for the visa. I'm supposed to have a legal address in Abu Dhabi. I had to go get fake papers at a camp full of human-trafficked construction workers. You wouldn't believe what those guys pay to live in those places, by the way."

I think of the $600 a month I'm paying to live in an old trailer park down the road from the sewage-treatment center. "Yeah, I would."

"Anyway," he says. "Let's go get some breakfast."

We walk down to a trendy cafe full of tanned expats, expensive cars slowly prowling by on the street outside, and sit and eat our omelets and drink strong coffee and bemusedly watch the world go by.




Monday, November 11, 2013

The Accidental Pornographer, Part Two: The Fall of the Pornographer

READ PART ONE OF THE SAGA HERE: THE ACCIDENTAL PORNOGRAPHER PART ONE: THE PORNOGRAPHER RISES



I guess it was about August 2012 when the first of my porno stories got blocked on Amazon.

I'd been churning out porn e-book stories steadily all spring and summer, and was at that point receiving monthly deposits of $1000 or more from Amazon, and quarterly deposits of $200 - $400 from Smashwords. (I think my best month total was about $1600) My girlfriend had been turned down for a student visa; that left us plotting a holiday for September and me stuck in America.

Sure, I saw my friends and family and ate barbecue and all that; but I also wrote porn.

I went to work, baby. I researched all the tags, jargon, and abbreviations popular porn authors used; I guerrilla marketed my shit in the Amazon Kindle erotica forums. I spent hours researching the best-selling "erotica" titles and then the various fetishes they portrayed. I read about and watched documentaries about sex slaves, BDSM, spanking, and other things still more vile.

And fapping incessantly, I must admit. Not masturbating while I wrote erotica seemed like cheating, somehow. If I didn't, how could the reader?


IN VIOLATION OF OUR CONTENT GUIDELINES

Then I got the first e-mail from Amazon, that went a little something like this:

Hello, 

We’re contacting you regarding the following book(s) that you submitted for sale in our Kindle Store: 

(REDACTED)

During our review process, we found that your book contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines. Our content guidelines apply to the book interior, as well as cover image, title and/or product descriptions. As a result, we will not be offering this book for sale. 

Our content guidelines are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing website. To learn more, please see: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A1KT4ANX0RL55I 

The "guidelines" for defining what is obscene or pornographic are hopelessly vague, on Amazon's website and on any level they've ever tried to be decided -- the best the Supreme Court managed to come up with was "offensive by local community standards" which could conceivably include anything from a rerun of THREE'S COMPANY to Japanese snuff porn.

So one of mine got blocked. I'll spare you the details, but it involved a woman being extorted for sex by a policeman, a rather popular sub-genre of the BDSM world.

I have a feeling that it basically worked like this: Amazon would sell anything, as long as it didn't involve the depiction of minors in sex acts. BUT. There is a button on each book's page that allows interested readers to "report inappropriate content."

I think that if Amazon got any reports of inappropriate content, they'd block you. "Offensive by community standards"? Check.

But then I discovered -- if you got blocked, you could just re-upload the thing again, with a different ISBN or ASIN number, and it usually got through just fine. Even the reviews would be intact when it went back up. So all my stuff stayed up, and the money continued to roll in.



EVERY GIRL'S DREAM

So I went to Cyprus with the Girlfriend in September, then to Costa Rica. Girlfriend knew I was making money from "erotica" stories, and didn't have any particular problem with it -- but when I invited her to  move to Cyprus (or somewhere else) with me, and live off e-book proceeds, she didn't think that sounded too good at all.

Gosh, can't imagine why! "Okay, honey, you give up your steady office job and we'll move to Cyprus and I'll write porn and you can be a baby-sitter or something. Every girl's dream, right?"

I was back in America for Christmas, and then my mother had a hysterectomy, and I was stuck in America for January. Girlfriend got a new job at a bank back in Vodkaberg.

WITH ONE SWIFT STROKE

Amazon greeted the new year by removing its tag system.

The tag system was a feature by which readers (and authors) could affix tag words to the description of their books, allowing people to search for books that way; erotica readers used these quite often to find books related to their (often very specific) fetishes. Or combination of fetishes.

Authors had been abusing tags in various ways, such as tagging their books with the names of better known or even totally unrelated authors, just to get their books to show up in more searches; this was a problem for unsuspecting readers because a guy might be searching for a book for his kids about camping and click the "young adult" and "camping" tags and get a story about some barely-legal summer camp orgy.

Offensive by community standards indeed!

So Amazon removed the whole tag system.

My erotica sales almost immediately plummeted. (ETX sales were affected, but less so.)

At the same time, two of my best-selling erotica books  were blocked; I got them put back up, but Amazon (and Google too) had both changed their search algorhythms so porn results didn't show up so much, and they'd been knocked out of the high-ranking spots they'd occupied.

Erotica sales continued to fall on Amazon, so I spent a lot of time in January posting all my naughty stories up on Kobo and Barnes and Noble, and maximizing interior linkage and all that boring shit.  (January wasn't much fun.)

But by then I already had a job interview for a very high-paying position in The Kingdom in March; I was fairly sure I'd be offered it. I took off to the Dominican Republic for February and didn't worry too much about erotica.

Sales continued to fall on Amazon, but they started going up quickly on Kobo and Barnes and Noble.  I went to Russia and Greece in April and May of this year; by that point my $1000 a month or more in sales was back down to about $500 a month in sales, but I had hopes I could get it back up there if I wrote a few more porn stories and another couple of English Teacher X books.

In July, I came back to the Kingdom where I have, if nothing else, plenty of time to write. I finished GRAMMAR SLAMMER (which I'd long neglected mainly due to messing around with erotica) and made plans to pep up my porn empire by rebranding some of the more extreme ones as horror / thrillers ... and then ...

ORIGAMI

And then on October 13, 2013, this article about smutty e-books that 'glorify sexual violence' was in the Telegraph.

The response of online booksellers was dramatic; they folded up like origami. Most of my Amazon erotica titles were blocked; all of my titles (including the ETX titles!) were blocked from Kobo; Barnes and Nobles blocked about half of my erotica titles. (Smashwords continues to provide sleazy fetish smut a loving home, though.)

So did my books deserve to be banned? Well. If you're not going to ban 50 SHADES OF GREY or the also best-selling CAPTIVE IN THE DARK, a dark tale of sexual slavery,  my books weren't more graphic or offensive than either of those.

(My best one, a series of stories that I later turned into a novel, had more thematic similarities to THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.)



So that's probably pretty much the end of my porn empire. I made some minor changes and got most of the Amazon titles back up, but sales are minimal now. They've changed all their search algorhythms again, I'm sure.

WHAT'S THE MORAL OF THE STORY?

Smut doesn't pay, maybe? I suppose it does and always has, but only a very select few manage to make it pay off forever.

The cautionary tale here, to me, is more: don't be deluded into thinking that working at home is somehow not working. And publishing on indie e-book platforms is NOT the same thing as working for yourself; you are still, basically, a slave to a powerful corporate entity who can get rid of you at a moment's notice, for reasons of their own. And remember, Amazon took 70 percent of my porn profit, since all the books were priced less than $2.99.

In fact, the only job I can think of where you are DEFINITELY and SOLELY working for yourself is subsistence farming. Anything else puts you at the mercy of, if no one else, your customers.

WHAT DID I GET OUT OF IT?

Well, I did enjoy it, mostly. It was nice to write pure fiction after all my guides and memoirs, and I really want to do more of that. My career as a writer is just beginning, after all. I remember reading an interview with John Holmes where he said something like, "Why can't pornography be art? If art can make us laugh, cry, be moved, why can't it make us be aroused?" No doubt, there, Cockboy!

And I realized that a thriller about sex is far closer to my experience than trying to write a thriller with a lot of like espionage or military shit that I really don't know that much about.



SO WHAT NOW?

Well, I will probably wait a few months, and hopefully get my next memoir, REQUIEM FOR A VAGABOND into first draft stage, and then move forward with the plan to rebrand one of my porn series as a horror / thriller sort of thing. (Amazon doesn't seem to mind if you write about sex slaves and stuff if it's like a horror novel. Perhaps as it should be.)

I'm not going to fess up that titles yet, but as I said, some sleuthing around the Amazon pages for the ETX books would reveal some connections to them. I'll reveal them in my next memoir, I guess, a little Easter egg for you faithful out there.

NEXT WEEK: Doing Dubai with Crazy Bob. Speaking of offensive by community standards ....

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Accidental Pornographer, Part One: The Pornographer Rises


A NEW OPPORTUNITY

In 2011, I compiled many of my English Teacher X blog entries and stories into e-book format and self-published them using Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform, as well as Smashwords, and Createspace. (I also eventually used Barnes and Noble and Kobo.)

Almost immediately, they sold more than I'd imagined; in the vicinity of 25 - 50 copies a month for the first few months and then as I added two more, in the neighborhood of 75 - 100 copies a month, on a few occasions closer to 200.

I was very pleased, of course.

I've always been a bit hesitant with English Teacher X as a product, though; I worried that if it sold too many copies, there would be some kind of blowback on my "real" English teacher identity. (I worried about this not just for my own life, but the lives of my friends and girlfriends as well.)

I considered what else the market might bear, and what else I'd written that I liked; I began posting the paranormal adventure satire short stories that I mentioned in the last post, and considered whether I had it in me to write a thriller or a horror novel.


A FATEFUL DISCOVERY

One day in spring of 2012, shortly before I left my first posting in the Kingdom, I was surfing Amazon. I don't remember what I was looking for or why, but I ended up being directed to a Kindle short story of "erotica."

Its crude and amateurish cover and title struck me; I used the "look inside" feature and read the first few paragraphs, which were amazingly bad, with mangled grammar and spelling and a stupid, banal, cliched description of an older guy picking up a hot female hitch-hiker and banging her with an amazing lack of synonyms for cock and pussy.

The thing that really struck me though, was its sales ranking: it was something like 8500.

(And I'm talking on the normal Amazon rankings, not just the erotica rankings.)

The highest ranking any of the English Teacher X books has ever achieved is about 40,000.

This crude piece of shit was outselling me ... by orders of magnitude.


A FEVERED DECISION

Now since relations with women in the Kingdom are pretty much impossible, I had been having a lot of chatroom sex. I used Skype with girls I know, of course, but I'm also talking old school; mIRC. Internet Relay Chat, serving your perverse text-only cybersex needs since the mid-90s.

I had had many such chats, in a variety of scenarios, so I took the log of one that I particularly liked and turned it into an "erotica" story. I made a cool cover and formatted it; it was about 5000 words and I put it up for availability on Kindle for 99 cents.

Almost immediately, it was selling hundreds of copies, and then ... THOUSANDS of copies.  (At that price, Amazon gives the author 33 cents per sale.)

It reached the top 50 in Amazon erotica and was in the top 1000 of Kindle sales in general.

I was making hundreds of dollars a month off something it took me maybe 4 or 5 hours to write up, format, and post.

Why?

I have no fucking idea! There was a big demand for porn at that time in the wake of the success of FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY, and people were discovering you could read porn on your Kindle even in public without embarrassing yourself with a tacky smutty cover. But at the same time, there's plenty of free written porn available online, so I have no idea why people were buying so much.



And why did they buy this story?

I don't know the answer to that, either. I suppose somebody must have linked it somewhere, but I never saw where.

It sold thousands of copies every month; I immediately wrote sequels to it, which sold hundreds of copies. Then I wrote other stories, trying to gauge what kind of fetishes an stories were popular.

They sold. Almost everything sold dozens or hundreds of copies a month.

My $500-a-month e-book empire became, in summer of 2012, a $1000 + a month ebook empire, with 20+ erotica stories for sale.

A SECRET LIFE OF TORRID LUST

What are the titles?

Well, that, I'm not gonna tell. For various reasons. They ran a gamut of smut but tended, unsurprisingly to feature older men and younger women, teachers and barely-legal students, and of course bondage and spanking.

Actually, I'll go ahead and share one with you:


This was my attempt at super-hero / dominatrix porn; I think it's a pretty good story, but it didn't really sell.  BUY IT HERE ON AMAZON FOR 99 CENTS.

BUY IT HERE ON BARNES AND NOBLE FOR 99 CENTS

I threw myself into it with my customary intense obsessive zeal, and after I left my first job in the Kingdom, I devoted myself to ebooks full time.

So, fuck yeah, I became a smut merchant. Living large on the beaches of Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic (oh, okay, and my mother's attic sometimes) selling the hot wet stuff that dreams are made of.

Until it all came crashing down this year.



STAY TUNED FOR:
 THE ACCIDENTAL PORNOGRAPHER PART TWO: THE FALL OF THE PORNOGRAPHER  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Time for the Big Halloween Giveaway!



Happy Halloween, boys and ghouls!



For your sins, here is a new edition of HOW TO SURVIVE LIVING ABROAD, with five contributions from readers and bloggers about the dark side of life abroad, FREE ON SMASHWORDS  and 99 CENTS ON AMAZON. A great entry point to the bleak world of ETX, if you haven't read it.

And then I offer you this particularly Halloween-y treat, from one of the other facets of my multi-headed e-book empire:



WRATH OF THE PUMPKIN GOD by Arvin Stevens, now also available FREE on Amazon.

"Halloween. October 31st, 1986: A hideous evil is lurking in America's heartland... and the Paranormal Activities Control Squad is powerless to stop it. 

It started as a simple mission: investigate a war between a werewolf biker gang and a cult of voodoo zombie drug dealers. Child's play for the rough-and-tumble psychics and hardcases from the PAC Squad. 

But when several members of the PAC Squad find themselves captives of a crazed zealot, an ancient and unstoppable monstrosity, a true Halloween terror, is unleashed upon the parched earth... and even telekinesis and high-explosive rounds might not be able to stop it. 

This is #7 in the electrifyingly satirical and ludicrous adventures of the PAC Squad. Look for other stories on Amazon."

As mentioned, in the early 90s, English Teacher Q and I (in between bouts of massive amounts of LSD and alcohol abuse) wrote this series of stories about a group of bungling government agents who battled paranormal menaces. (Imagine SOUTH PARK or TEAM AMERICA mixed with X-FILES and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, although it was a bit before any of that stuff came out. We were a big fan of 70s / 80s numbered action novels like THE DEATH MERCHANT, REMO WILLIAMS and so forth, and those were big influences. The first book of the REMO WILLIAMS series is also free as an ebook on Amazon. More free stuff, and you didn't even have to say Trick or Treat.)

This is # 7 in the PAC Squad series, but they don't particularly need to be read in order, and in fact I haven't even posted all the numbers in the series. Part of my intensely "meta" in-joke.

This was our pumpkin last year when I was in America.
So Happy Halloween! I'm going to Dubai for the weekend to spend Halloween with Crazy Bob and Chuck and maybe I'll get some pictures of sexy Lebanese babes in cat costumes or whatever.

And when I get back, I will reveal the OTHER head of my e-book empire and its sudden tremendous rise ... and recent terrible terrible fall.

Finally, thanks to YouTube, home of the freebie, I offer you some fun Halloween viewing.




Friday, October 25, 2013

The Essence of Story (Or: Why So Negative?)

This is a vague and piddly topic for a blog entry, perhaps, but it's been on my mind.

So I know, I'm kind of negative, in the general cosmic sense.

But there's also some bit of method to it, I have to say.

See, positivity is kind of boring, dramatically speaking.

What Makes An Interesting Story 

Scanning some travel-and-sex blogs recently, I got to thinking about what makes an interesting blog entry, and what makes an interesting story.

I think of a certain colleague who was known for being a bore with his drunken rambling stories; while the stuff of his stories on the surface might seem interesting -- fucking, travel, fighting, meeting famous people -- they completely lacked any drama; they were just (in most cases scarcely believable) bits of information designed to show how awesome he was.

It comes down to information content versus entertainment content, i think.

"Five Ways to Do Whatever" posts are incredibly popular and occasionally interesting, but they're just information.

To tell an actual story, you pretty much need a dramatic arc: set up the situation, establish a conflict of some sort, there's a climax where it all comes to a head, and then there's the aftermath of what happened. That's entertainment. The conflict, that's the important part. But a lot of blogs these days seem to focus more on informational content, and that's why I generally don't find them very interesting.

I get accused of focusing on the negative, but I think it's the drama of the conflict I'm mostly focusing on. Now, the conflict can take many forms -- the traditional conflicts were man vs. man, man vs. nature and man vs. himself -- but you can also have conflicts with expectations.

Let's Look At Some Examples:

  • "I fucked a girl last night." Basically just informational content, mainly serving to impress. You and half the planet, buddy.
  • "I fucked two girls last night." Informational content DEFINITELY trying to impress, although it does mess with our expectations a little. A little.
  • "I fucked a girl last night and she had big tits and her ass tasted like blueberry waffles." -- Okay, now we're getting warmer -- the informational content is sufficiently intriguing that we want more information. Her ass tasted like blueberry waffles? Holy shit, that's unusual! It conflicts our expectations quite a bit.
  • "I fucked a girl last night using the Scorched Earth approach and the Delineated Marigold Escalating Conversation technique."  -- Now this is pure informational content, but it's very specialized and technical and greatly of interest to certain folks. And completely lacking in interest to others. (Yes, I made those up.) 
  • "I fucked a girl last night and she pissed, shit and vomited all over the place." -- Here we see the dramatic arc. We've established the characters and a conflict, mainly a conflict between expected pleasure and the unexpected unpleasantness of bodily fluids. Describe the clean-up, and you've got a story! Guys have made whole careers out of that story. (Yeah, and he doesn't need a link to it, he's made his money. We all heard some variation of it a dozen times in college, but he's the one who wrote it down, so props to him.) 
  • "I fucked a girl last night, and then I left without saying goodbye, but then I fell in love with her and went looking for her, and after many humorous incidents, we married." -- The Romantic Comedy version.
  • "I fucked a girl last night all the while supporting myself off of automated internet businesses, and for $12.00 you can buy my e-book explaining how to do that!" -- Neither informational nor entertainment, it's advertising. 
That's the problem with being an indie author -- we have to sell that shit as well, and self-promotion and advertising begins to consume all the communication that you do. (We are a Nation of Whores, we e-book authors. We become that which we despise, rather than running from it ... )

Of course, my bread and butter is telling people what they DON'T want to hear; you can usually make a few bucks doing that, also.
Anyway, there you go. A short blog entry of purely informational content.




Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Libyan Gambit

Here's an IM conversation with a colleague who recently spent a bit of time working in Libya. An action-packed tale of international adventure and intrigue, as usual.




English Teacher X:

how's the Libyan experience?
you get a holiday next week?

English Teacher M:

I left, couldnt stand the job

English Teacher X:

this one is pretty bad too
but so far we haven't done much yet
the real shit comes down in November

English Teacher M:

i was having to try to teach libyan first graders witn no english

English Teacher X :

we have students who actively refuse to do anything in class, but we're not really allowed to fail them
gee that does sound fun!

English Teacher M:

how old are they?

English Teacher X:
adults
18 - 50
they're employees here, they have to study for job training points, but they can't really lose their jobs or anything
they really hate it
most of them are welders and shit anyway, don't need to use english
where you at now?

English Teacher M:

back in the states, prob going back to iraq in november

English Teacher X:

they were recruiting like mad for this place, but now it seems they have far fewer students in november than they were planning for expecting 2000, got about 1200
there are something like 150 teachers here at the moment

English Teacher M:

damn
are they gonna get rid of some?

English Teacher X:

they were trying to make a night shift, but all the students refused it
i don't know what will happen, actually
if they offered me redundancy I'd certainly take it

English Teacher M:

money not worth it?

English Teacher X:

well, just barely
$7000 a month after accomodation expenses
but we sit around that fucking office 7:30 am to 3:30pm
not really allowed to leave
although we sometimes do

English Teacher M:

I would have made about $3600 in Libya, which is as good as it gets outside the gulf

English Teacher X:

they gave us fire and safety training last week, which I guess was kind of cool
I'm going to visit (Crazy Bob) and (Chuck) in the Emirates next week

English Teacher M:

I can prob make that in Iraq though if I pick up some extra classes at the uni

English Teacher X:

how long did you stay in Libya?

English Teacher M:

2 weeks
the whole thing was a shit show from start to finish
luggage lost en route from the US, still dont have it back

English Teacher X:

in Tripoli?

English Teacher M:

no one picked me up from airport
yeah tripoli

English Teacher X:

shit, the rebels probably got it

English Teacher M:

it never made it to Istanbul
its prob sitting in nashville or DC
speaking of rebels, my house there was next to a militia HQ
a bunch of teens with guns

English Teacher X: 

eeh, just like home

English Teacher M: 

and truck mounted anti aircraft guns in the yard
they were friendly

English Teacher X:

we have security guards with a .50 but we debate whether it's operational

English Teacher M: 

but there was gunfire every night, didnt know if it was celebrating or battling

English Teacher X: 

hell, probably both

English Teacher M: 

and a Russian woman recentkl killed a libyan there

English Teacher X:

a Russian woman??
what was she doing there?

English Teacher M:

so the libyan embassy
yeah, weird story
apparently she was a russian powerlifter/gaaddafite
no idea what she was doing there
but the libyan's family attacked russian embassy

English Teacher X:

????? sounds like a bad guy from THE EXPENDABLES

(Editor's note: The incident in question is discussed in this news story. It seems that the Russian woman in question was a bit of a Qadaffi groupie.)

English Teacher M:

so a pro-govt militia had to rescue the embassy
and i just read the PM was briefly kidnapped by a group over anger at his supposed collaboration in the US arrest of the al qaeda dude
which happened the day I left, thank God

English Teacher X:

yeah, I saw that

English Teacher M:

or else I would have been ripe for a retaliatory kidnapping

English Teacher X:

were there other foreigners there?

English Teacher M:

quite a few
mostly embassy personnel

English Teacher X:

did you live in a compound?

English Teacher M:

no, just a big 3 story villa withh 4 roommates
all from the UK

English Teacher X:

they were teachers?

English Teacher M:

yep
no internet

English Teacher X:

so just two weeks and thank you very much, I'm outta here
or did they give you any money?

English Teacher M:

I got about $1600 from them

English Teacher X:

plus plane ticket and stuff?
that can't have been cheap

English Teacher M:

walking around money when I arrived, visa reimbursement, and I harassed them into giving me a week's pay before I fled
yeah ticket included
my first runner


English Teacher X:

oh, you didn't tell them you were going?

English Teacher M:

nope
I felt no obligation toward them

English Teacher X:

Ah, the never-ending fun of TEFL.
Mind if I use this as a blog post interview, with the names changed?

English Teacher M:
sure
sure
title: STAY THE FUCK OUT OF LIBYA

English Teacher X:

something like that.
I thought maybe "THE LIBYAN ESCAPE"



English Teacher M:

that'll work
I have to say though the Libyan people were pretty friendly
i never felt in danger

English Teacher X:

I'll be sure and include that fact

English Teacher M:

I could have put up with the craziness of the country if the job had been tolerable

English Teacher X:

teaching first graders is never fun. big classes I bet, too

English Teacher M:

not that big, about 10 in one and 15 in another
but they had no discipline

English Teacher X:

eesh, I bet

English Teacher M:

and no academic structure at all at the school
no one knew what they were doing
in administration

English Teacher X:

had it been an operational school already or was it a new deal?

English Teacher M:

the owner was a rich construction guy who decided to open a school
I know its been open for at least a year

English Teacher X:

private english classes or full curriculum?

English Teacher M:

full curriculum
if you can call ithat

English  Teacher X:

reading and riting and rithmatic

English Teacher M:

in reality it was just trying to keep them in their seats and open the book by the time the bell rang

English Teacher X:

about the same here

English Teacher M:

that was my experience with first grade, apparently the higher grades were better
planning any trips to Russia?

English Teacher X:

next summer
I won't stay more than one year in this job, unless things change drastically
only 9 more months on the contract

English Teacher M:

it's amazing how little hold money has in the face of a shit job
can't put a price on sanity I guess

English Teacher X:

well, I mean I saved a lot already from my last gig
this is just icing on the cake
money is always useful, but now I'm worried about everything else in my life except money


Thursday, October 10, 2013

GRAMMAR SLAMMER Now Available

All right, here it is. My book about how to explain all the annoying grammar points that frequently come up in TEFL classes. 

Get it here for the Amazon Kindle -- FREE for the next five days. 

The blurb:

English Teacher X is back again, to apply his numerous years of hard-won experience (as well as his vicious cynicism and disturbed sense of humor) to one of the thorniest topics in the world of Teaching English as a Foreign Language:

GRAMMAR.

Grammar rules are of small help in learning to use a foreign language, but they are of great use in quieting anxious or know-it-all students who constantly challenge the teacher, as well as impressing bosses and managers and succeeding in job interviews for TEFL positions.

English Teacher X provides a thorough look at some of the most common grammar points which come up in TEFL classes, and gives clear and detailed explanations of them, in addition to dialogues explicitly showing how to present and practice the information in class.

Topics examined include:

PARTS OF SPEECH AND TERMINOLOGY

VERB TENSES

COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS

THINGS STUDENTS WILL TRY TO TEST YOU WITH

HOW TO PRACTICE ALL THIS STUFF

and many more.

WARNING! The book is filled with heaping helpings of English Teacher X's usual sarcasm, obscene language, and crude humor, as well as his notoriously nihilistic outlook on the profession of TEFL. Please don't buy it if that kind of thing offends you.


So do me a favor and drop me an e-mail if you see any particularly egregious typos or formatting errors, and of course if there's some bit of irritating grammar business I neglected to include.

Enjoy! And if you're not careful you just might learn something before it's done.





Friday, October 04, 2013

You Are Not a Unique Snowflake



"You are not special. You are not a unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else." - Tyler Durden in FIGHT CLUB

So I can, and will, bitch in great detail about this job, which in terms of hours, organization, materials, and student behavior is absolutely the worst I've ever had, but first let me talk about something here that has kind of intrigued me.

In a post-"Arab Sping" attempt to keep the kids off the street, the Kingdom has poured tons of money into job training and education; to that end, they've hired more than a hundred new TEFL teachers to work here at this posting.

The weird thing is how homogeneous we are, as a group.

I suppose I'm guilty of thinking I'm different than the average guy my age; certainly I use that as an excuse for my not ever attempting to have any kind of normal life or relationship.

But the guys surrounding me are in many cases so similar to me that we look like a bunch of imperfect clones, a small army of decent-looking, slim, short-haired white guys in their 40s, in good shape and looking a bit younger and with the ability to speak confidently about the vagaries of a life mostly spent abroad. The Bloated Whoremongers and the Crazy Old Guys are at a minimum here. (Although there are a few of them -- Bahrain is not far, and it's perfectly possible to bury yourself in Chinese and Moroccan hookers over there, if you so desire.)



The back stories vary in details but the common theme is of difficult long-distance relationships and / or attempts to buy a house in Country X and settle down after milking the money-cow in this job for a while.

Obviously they were looking for a certain type, but I had no idea how many people in the pool were about like ... me.



Funny that FIGHT CLUB became more of a touchstone to the generation below me, than to my generation, as I'm about the same age as those guys. But of course the idea is timeless -- "Come on guys, let's go express our individuality by looking and acting exactly like each other and some writer / singer / figure we admire!"

Anyway, GRAMMAR SLAMMER, my book on how to explain grammar, will be out this week. Stay tuned.