Monday, September 29, 2014

Big Time!

  • This is it baby! The big time! My latest memoir has reached #3 in SENIOR TRAVEL!

I'd like to thank all the little people, who allowed me to rise to these stupendous heights with appreciation of my awesomeness. 


Get it HERE on Amazon US /  HERE on Amazon UK / Get it HERE on Amazon CA
Get it HERE on Amazon AU

A few songs I listened to while I was writing it, to get you in the proper mood: 

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014

    REQUIEM FOR A VAGABOND Available Now as an E-Book on Amazon

    All right, my latest memoir, the third book in my "burnout trilogy," REQUIEM FOR A VAGABOND is currently available as an e-book on Amazon. It highlights the last five years, most of which I spent in the Middle East, and my Girlfriend Experience.

    Get it HERE on Amazon US /  HERE on Amazon UK / Get it HERE on Amazon CA

    The blurb:

    "A funny thing happened to me, when I moved to the strictest Islamic country on earth, shortly after my 40th birthday, my life stripped of drugs, alcohol and women: I felt happy." 

    In middle age, English Teacher X makes a major life change: He leaves behind a life of debauchery, darkness, drunkenness and devoshki in Russia, and takes a job in the strictest Islamic Kingdom in the Middle East. 

    His life suddenly full of sunshine, sand, sobriety, and an adult-type salary, he also unexpectedly finds himself in a long-distance relationship with a sweet and loyal yet oh-so-stubborn and provincial Russian girl. With plenty of money and a new optimism, finally it seems that a "normal life" is within his grasp... 

    However, things rarely run smoothly in the world according to ETX, and he soon finds himself adrift again, returning for the first time in many years to his homeland, a very troubled, and sick America, with a new career as an independent author of "erotica" and an untoward yet timely interest in survivalism. 

    More alienated than ever and haunted at the image of being the oldest guy in the club or one of the younger guys at the whorehouse, X bounces around exotic destinations (including Cyprus, Costa Rica, and return visits to his old home of Vodkaberg in Russia) and struggles to find a place for himself in a rapidly changing world. 

    But a new high-paying job in the Middle East looms, which might be the best thing that ever happened to him ... or the worst ... 

    Packed with eccentric English teachers of all ages and plenty of sexy-but-difficult Russian women, set against a backdrop of the Arab Spring and the Mayan Apocalypse, X's latest memoir is another dystopian look at the profession of TEFL, expat life, and the myth that travel broadens the mind. 

    WARNING! Contains bad language, graphic content, middle-aged white guy angst, and a complete lack of authentic cultural experiences..

    * * * 

    The beta readers I used were a bit divided in their reaction to this, which is essentially of course focused on getting older. One said he liked it better than VODKABERG in that it was more varied, and that it was my "most optimistic" book, while another found it "considerably more racist and misogynistic" than my other books. Hey, an artist has to grow, right? 

    It's about 100,000 words vs. 50,000 words for my first memoir, TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY and 120,000 words for my second memoir VODKABERG, and features return appearances by numerous characters from VODKABERG, including Crazy Bob and Pterodactyl Girl (and the city itself.)

    My original plan was to have a middle section with all my backpacking and youthful adventures; that didn't happen, as I ended up writing more about my 2012- 2013 sojourn in America and my friends and family there. The youthful adventures will be a next, separate book, I guess. 

    Despite the author mostly being sober and isolated and / or hitched up the last five years, I hope there are enough whacked-out colleagues and entertaining bad behaviors (mine and other people's) and slutty Russian chicks (a half-dozen or so) in there to hold most people's attention despite the general theme of entropy, failure, impotence, illness, and death.  


    (It's on sale now for the full price -- $3.99 -- but I'll be having a countdown promotion the week before Halloween, so if you can wait, you can get it for 99 cents. I'd start it like that now, but Amazon won't let me. You can get it free in that Kindle Unlimited deal, also, And hell if you really can't pony up $3.99 just e-mail me and I'll give you one.) 

    Saturday, September 13, 2014


    Often ,when I was out traveling the world and banging hot international babes, I wished I was an alpha male.

    You know, a REAL alpha male -- a guy with practical skills and knowledge; a reliable, responsible, trustworthy protector and provider. Not some doofus that all the guys in the gym and all the sluts in the club look up to because they never had good father figures. 

    To that end, I started taking a variety of survival training,programs a few years ago; the last one was a SERE course where I spent the night sleeping under a fallen tree in the hail after being pepper sprayed and tasered and interrogated.

    (I probably could have hired a dominatrix to give me the same experience more enjoyably; perhaps that's a project for another time.)

    So anyway, I just finished what will probably be the swansong of my survival courses -- a seven-day survival hike in the mountains and canyons of Utah. (For once I will link to the company.) It was more of a hippie "primitive living" style thing, not the paramilitary themed stuff I did previously.

    I walked across this entire canyon. Seriously. 

    We hiked more than ten miles a day (on average) through spectacular scenery -- pine forests, sage brush fields, mountains and canyons -- and ate nothing but berries and plants for the first 30 hours. We drank river water, though we did treat it with Aqua Mira drops. We slept under improvised shelters made from rain ponchos and wool blankets and paracord, and started our own fires with bow drills.

    It was an amazing experience -- albeit an expensive one -- and anybody who thinks that hippies are unathletic or helpless needs to check out these people -- they run up and down the mountains in sandals with the agility and stamina of billy goats.

    And our highly competent, tireless, and self-sufficient "alpha" head instructor?

     A 31 year old female.

    Did it make me feel more "alpha?" Well, I suppose so -- thinking you can do something and knowing you can do something like that is not necessarily a profound difference, but it is a difference. 

    And on the last day during the graduation ceremony, the other students had to say which positive things we liked about each other -- and about me it was said, "X was always positive and enthusiastic about everything, and always seemed to be living in the moment and reminding everybody how beautiful everything around us was."

    ME! Positive and enthusiastic!

    What do you think about THAT? 

    But of course, all that living-in-the-moment stuff disappears pretty quickly once you get down from the mountain . . . 

    Tomorrow: heading off to Marmaris,Turkey to meet the refuses-to-be-ex-Girlfriend. The next memoir is getting a final polish and will be available in the next week or two. 

    Monday, September 08, 2014

    Luckless (Excerpt from REQUIEM FOR A VAGABOND)

    I get a lot of e-mail these days from people - usually older English teachers but not always - asking, `Should I go to the Middle East and teach English?`

    The answer to that, as with many things in life is `Yes, but ...`

    I will enumerate those buts in a later post, but one of them is that schools in the Middle East are just as capricious about firing teachers as any other school (that is to say, extremely) but since it is so isolated and visa laws so strict, the stakes are a lot higher.

    This is a short bit out of my upcoming memoir, REQUIEM FOR A VAGABOND, which is about the last five years, most of which I spent in the Middle East.

    High salaries and less debauchery aside, the English teachers are still pretty off-kilter there ... and here's an example of how the schools still fuck the teachers over any chance they get.

    * * *

    Some guys just can’t catch a break.

    English Teacher R was one of the younger guys there, in his early 30s; sensibly he was working towards ridding himself of the massive student loan debt that he and so many of his generation had amassed.

    He was certainly no better or worse a teacher than any of us. 

    His only mistake was being noticed a bit too much by administration.

    He had one class that was extremely recalcitrant about refusing to study, and instead of just giving up and letting them do nothing, as most of us had learned to do, he kept throwing students out and marking them absent, which led to them going to management and complaining about him.

    There were a few smaller things; once he let his students out of class to go to the computer lab; some management higher-ups were visiting the institute that day and stopped the students, asking where their teacher was. R was still in the classroom, shutting down the computer and organizing his things, and a group of angry management people descended, asking why his students were in the hallway unaccompanied.

    Thinking fast, the only excuse that R was able to come up with in a hurry was that he had to fart so had stayed behind to do so.

    “Christ, couldn’t you have told them you forgot your pencil or something?” I asked.

    “It was just the first thing I thought of,” he said miserably.

    He always just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing. Once he didn’t check his email and missed a class he was supposed to cover; another time he missed a test proctoring session he was supposed to do.

    They set him to work being the monitor in the computer lab, keeping track of people who entered and making sure no one brought in food.

    It was generally thought to be the assignment that you got before you were fired suddenly. That’s where they’d put the last couple of guys they’d fired.

    Bored there, he made a series of photoshop pictures of various teachers’ faces on the bodies of different characters from LORD OF THE RINGS. Naturally the rotund South African teacher whose face had been grafted on the dwarf Gimli's body didn’t find the joke particularly amusing, and told him to erase those before he filed a complaint with the management about them.

    “I thought it was funny! It was supposed to be a joke to raise staff morale,” he said. “I asked him if he minded if I used his picture!”

    “You gotta feel out the atmosphere,” I said. “You can do shit like that at the English First in Istanbul or Barcelona or whatever, and it would be a funny joke, but you know how on-edge people are here anyway.”

    He finally decided to have a sit-down with the principal of the unit, and asked the guy if the school was unhappy with him, and if they intended to get rid of him. If so, he assured them he would offer them his resignation with no hard feelings and begin making plans to leave.

    They assured him that there was no problem. That in fact, being monitor of the computer lab was an important job.

    He went on his second leave, two weeks in Italy with his Filipina girlfriend.

    On the day he got back, there was a message from his contractor saying his contract was being cancelled due to problems with his background check, and he should clear his desk and come to the nearby city to begin his out-processing.

    He ran around the office in flustered circles, collecting the various odds and end from his 8 months he’d been there. “Motherfuckers motherfuckers motherfuckers,” he muttered.

    “They can’t do this to you,” I assured him. “I’m with you. I’m gonna leave, too!”

    “Ha fucking ha. At least you get your end of contract bonus.”

    “Well, I got a promise that I’ll get my end of contract bonus, so far, not the actual bonus.”

    “Any advice on finding a job in Russia?” he asked.

    * * *

    Ah the losers and miscreants of TEFL. My people. How I love `em.