Friday, February 28, 2014

Vacay

I'm in the Maldives with the Girlfriend until the eighth of March. I highly recommend the Maldives if you're looking for a place for a romantic getaway and have any interest in marine life and snorkeling, and have five or ten thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket.

Girlfriend loves beaches but like a lot of Russian girls she is rather afraid of water and boats.

We had a typical exchange today.

"I saw a sea turtle!" I exclaimed, stepping from the turquoise waters, mask in hand.

"Were you scared?" She asked with wide eyes.

After I stopped laughing I said, "Turtles aren't dangerous."

"They are! My cousin had a turtle named Styopa and it bit my granny on the finger once!"

"She probably made it angry."

"She was feeding it cabbage!"

"I won't feed them," I promised.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

English Teacher X and Almond Eyes Discuss Globalism and Revolution

Sometimes I make drafts of posts which I then forget about. This is a conversation I had with Almond Eyes back in 2011. I re-discovered it a couple of times but since the big protests in Russia and America had stopped it seemed irrelevant.

But now -- in honor of the Olympics as well as the violent street protests in Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela -- here's a discussion about globalism, revolution, and the eternal cycle of it all I had with Almond Eyes.




English Teacher X
so, revolutia budit skora v Rossia? (Will there be a revolution in Russia soon?)
07.12.11

Almond Eyes
as if  ;-)
07.12.11

English Teacher X
more than 300 arrested in Moscow and Piter yesterday, in protests
07.12.11

Almond Eyes
Whateva!
07.12.11

English Teacher X
haha.
i suppose you survived the worst, back in the 90's, it can't get much worse than that
07.12.11

Almond Eyes
they all assholes at the government. or they pretend them to be, thus.. who cares, nothing will change, will only get worst and worst, or stay the same at least
07.12.11

English Teacher X
protests many places, even in America
07.12.11

Almond Eyes
then collapse 2012
but who will win?
07.12.11



English Teacher X
yeah, that's a good question
07.12.11

Almond Eyes
not possible every single person become rich
07.12.11

English Teacher X
i saw article, similar things happened in world in the late 1800's, 1930's, and 1960's
07.12.11
bascially what happens -- a lot of globalism, some people become very rich, other people become poor
there is a lot of social unrest
protests and riots,
and often huge wars
and then, countries close borders, travel and trade is restricted
and then, people start to protest THAT

Almond Eyes
as I told you - will be only worst
07.12.11

English Teacher X
and then it all starts over again
07.12.11

Almond Eyes
nothing principally changes
yeas
everything is ever again )
07.12.11

English Teacher X
the endless cycle
look at Russia -- Bolshevik revolution against the rich, and then in 1980's, revolution against communist control
07.12.11


Almond Eyes
we will all die )
07.12.11

English Teacher X
yes, one day we will all die -- hopefully not too soon!
i will die before you, I'm 15 years older than you
07.12.11

Almond Eyes
well, man die earlier )
I hope when we will 60 we will be sitting at the beach smoking weed )
there in miami
in front of our big house
07.12.11

English Teacher X
yeah, that would be nice
if Miami isn't under water at that time!
07.12.11

Almond Eyes
if america is not the third word country
by that time
07.12.11

which i debate
50-50
07.12.11

English Teacher X
it already is, in many ways
if you look at "quality of life" listings
america always in the middle
07.12.11

Almond Eyes
:-)
07.12.11


English Teacher X
3rd world countries are more fun to live in, though
in my experience
Russia was a LOT more fun back in 2000-2005
07.12.11

Almond Eyes
)))))))) welllllll................................
exotic style of life )


* * *

As I mentioned, Almond Eyes is a new mommy now. Time she truly is a river. 

Almond Eyes in my kitchen, 2007



Read about Almond Eyes (and numerous others) in my memoir VODKABERG: NINE YEARS IN RUSSIA. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

That's So Gay: Russia Then and Now


Yeah, it strikes me as pretty ironic actually, the Russian anti-gay propaganda laws.

Because when I was there back around 2001, 2002?

It was really fucking cool to be gay there.

Seeme like half the people I knew back then were gay or bisexual.

There were no less than THREE very popular raging gay bars in Vodkaberg, a town that probably had no more than eight or nine bars at that time.

(Here's a link to an old story about one, on the first ETX Angelfire website.)

The place we hung out was amazing-- bisexual university chicks, married girls getting away from their husbands by saying "We're just going to the gay bar to dance!" and a few flaming drag queens and such. Then also, some English teachers, African students, a handful of French teachers, and when our presence became known, a bunch of girls who worshipped foreigners.

One gay male acquaintance told me that NOBODY was easier to get into bed than these Alpha Male beedla Russian flatheads when they were drunk. I believe it. Crazy Bob told me about an evening of drinking with some male Russian students who finished off the evening by stripping down to their underwear and sleeping like spoons.

Of course these two little trollops, TATU, were the harbingers of lesbian chic:



(I prefer the music mix to the American version -- it's a bit more rocking.) They came out in Russia in 2000 and had a smidgen of international success around 2002 and 2003. Back then, most Saturdays my kitchen was full of Russian teenage girls making out with each other.

Ironically T.a.t.u played at the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Probably the laws have some kind of exemption for hot girl-on-girl action.

But in general the early '00s was just a time in sexual revolution and sort of unbridled lust, as evidenced in this song by a pleasantly flaming Boris Moeseev from 2002 or so:



And what person that hates gays is really so cold-hearted as to hate hot blonde chicks making out? REFLEX here was also from the early '00s --



A bit more easy to pick on a freaky type like Shura, who was and is openly gay --



So you know, it's probably just a backlash, like the strict laws about drinking on the street and smoking in public and buying vodka after 10:00pm and so forth. Just the "old" New Russia versus the "new" New Russia. We're a civilized country, not some anarchic Sodom and Gomorrah.

But you know, as for the Alpha Male President over there -- methinks maybe he protests a bit too much. All that chest-thumping is pretty homoerotic at its base, of course, primarily designed to impress males.

(I came across this mention on Wikipedia of Bonabos apes rubbing their scrotums together to make up after fighting over a woman.)

I mean look at all the shirtless pictures the guy posts. No matter how many ballerinas he supposedly impregnates, don't you think he's maybe turned out a punk or two in his day?  Perhaps only as punishment for something?









Sunday, February 09, 2014

Activate the Passive (An Excerpt from GRAMMAR SLAMMER)

Kind of busy to write an original entry this week so rock out with this excerpt from my recent book GRAMMAR SLAMMER. 



Get it here for the Amazon Kindle (US) / Amazon (UK) / Amazon (Canada)

GRAMMAR SLAMMER is available FREE from Feb 10 to Feb 15.

Get it here as a paperback at Amazon US / Amazon (UK)

Get it here as a paperback at Createspace.


ACTIVATE THE PASSIVE

This is very important. It’s the difference between fucking somebody, and being fucked by somebody. When we use the passive, we swap the position of the subject and object, and fiddle the verb a bit. The time referred to doesn’t change, and neither does the general meaning; just the focus of who’s doing what changes.

A brief overview:
PRESENT SIMPLE ACTIVE
John Wayne Gacy kills a male prostitute
PRESENT SIMPLE PASSIVE
A male prostitute is killed by John Wayne Gacy.
PRESENT CONTINUOUS ACTIVE
John Wayne Gacy is killing a male prostitute.
PRESENT CONTINUOUS PASSIVE
A male prostitute is being killed by John Wayne Gacy.
PRESENT PERFECT ACTIVE
John Wayne Gacy has killed a male prostitute.
PRESENT PERFECT PASSIVE
A male prostitute has been killed by John Wayne Gacy.
PAST ACTIVE
John Wayne Gacy killed a male prostitute.
PAST PASSIVE
A male prostitute was killed by John Wayne Gacy.
PAST CONTINUOUS ACTIVE
John Wayne Gacy was killing a male prostitute.
PAST CONTINUOUS PASSIVE
A male prostitute was being killed by John Wayne Gacy.
PAST PERFECT ACTIVE
John Wayne Gacy had killed a male prostitute
PAST PERFECT PASSIVE
A male prostitute had been killed by John Wayne Gacy.
FUTURE ACTIVE
John Wayne Gacy is going to kill a male prostitute.
FUTURE PASSIVE
A male prostitute is going to be killed by John Wayne Gacy.
FUTURE PERFECT ACTIVE
John Wayne Gacy will have killed a male prostitute.
FUTURE PERFECT PASSIVE
A male prostitute will have been killed by John Wayne Gacy.

HOW TO PRESENT IT

Board:
Mercedes cars are made in Germany.

You: So what about this sentence? What tense is this?

Students: (analytically) Well … ARE, that suggests present … MADE, that’s the third form of the verb … but it’s not present perfect …

You: So what’s the subject of this sentence?

Students: Mercedes cars?

You: Ah, but look carefully at the verb … did the cars make something?

Students: TEACHER! ENOUGH OF THIS TORMENT!

You: (professorially) Who made the cars?

Students: Uh … Mercedes company? Turkish guest workers?

You: See, that’s the thing. In this case, we are focused on the object, and don’t wish to repeat 
ourselves by saying “Mercedes company makes Mercedes cars in Germany.” This is called the present passive construction. Everybody know what passive means?

Students: Relaxed, not aggressive.

You: Yeah. But that probably can’t help you remember anything about this tense. How did we make it here?

Students: The object is in the subject position. The verb BE plus the third form of the verb.

You: Plus IN a place or AT a time, usually. Now, what would be the question for this answer?

Students: (Weeping gently and quietly)

You: Question word, plus BE, plus object, plus third form of the verb.

Students: Where … are … Mercedes cars … made?

Board:

Deadly viruses are created in secret laboratories.

 You: All right, make this bad bitch past tense.

Students: Deadly viruses WERE created in secret government labs.

You: Oh yeah.

Board:
My wallet was stolen!

You: So why did I use passive here?

Students: You don’t know who stole it, I guess!

You: Well, maybe I don’t know, maybe I don’t care, maybe it’s just not my main point of interest in the sentence. I can put the subject after BY however.

Board:
My wallet was stolen by a Panamanian coke whore.

You: So what’s the object?

Students: Wallet? But in the subject position here … TEACHER! YOU ARE A HATEFUL LIAR!

You: (shocked) I’m not!

Students: You teach us about subjects being before the verb, now you teach us a way to completely twist that around!

You: (Sternly) Oooh, is the little baby gonna cry? Little baby wants some milk? You have some poop in your Pampers there, little baby? I AM TEACHING YOU MANY VARIATIONS TO ALLOW YOU TO EXPRESS YOURSELF WITH THE AUTHORITY OF A SHAKESPEARE OR A WORDSWORTH! TO UNLOCK THE SOUL OF THE POET WITHIN YOU!

Students: (Drying eyes) Oh … well … in that case …

You: It’s most often used in writing, anyway, the passive. Okay, back to this one. Past, present now give me future!

Students: Deadly viruses will be created in government labs? Deadly viruses are going to be created in government labs?

You: That’s it. Both are possible.

Students: Any difference?

You: No, pretty much the same?

Dorky Student: So, WILL and GOING TO are different, in the future simple, but not in the future continuous, future perfect, or future passive?

You: Uh … yeah! You nailed it. But we have some other passives to worry about, I’m afraid.

Board:
The drunken English teacher is writing a test.

You: What tense is this?

Students: Present continuous! Aka present progressive!

You: So make it passive.

Students: The test … is … BEING WRITTEN … by … the drunken English teacher.

You: Beautiful.

Students: It’s like doing a puzzle! An incredibly fun puzzle composed of pure joy!

You: Uh … yeah.

Board:
Excessive drinking has ruined my liver.

You: What tense is this?

Students: The dreaded present perfect.

You: MAKE IT PASSIVE! This is much harder.

Students: Teacher. We surrender.

You: Object plus has / have + BEEN + THIRD FORM.

Students: Insane! The vagaries of the English language are driving us mad!

You: Cease your prattle and produce the present perfect passive!

Students: My liver … has … BEEN RUINED … by excessive drinking.

You: Now it’s a short trip from there to the PAST perfect passive.

Students: My liver HAD BEEN RUINED by excessive drinking.

You: See there? It’s not so hard as all that. Future perfect!

Students: My liver WILL HAVE BEEN RUINED by excessive drinking.

You: Bravo.

Students: So now tell us the present perfect continuous passive … hold on, let us all bend over, first …

You: (Beaming benevolently) You can relax. The present perfect continuous passive is theoretically possible, but almost never used.

Students: It won’t be on the test?

You: No.

Students: Glory to the Elder Gods.

You: Bless you my children.

HOW TO PRACTICE IT

DRILLS

Drills are useful for this particular form:

You: Okay, I’ll make an active sentence, you make it passive.

Students: 10-4.

You: Cats eat mice.

Students: Mice are eaten by cats.

You: Shakespeare wrote poems.

Students: Poems were written by Shakespeare.

You: Huge corporations have ruined the environment.

Students: The environment has been ruined by huge corporations.

You: Right on, man. You cats are indoctrinated!

SPEAKING

Questions in the passive are occasionally a bit awkward but you can do them in a sort of a quiz show format:

Who was SHOWGIRLS directed by?
Where are Toyota cars made?
Who was FUCK THE PAIN AWAY sung by?  
Etc.


As always, be sure and choose questions your students probably know the answers to.