I’m exhausted from double checking plans, worrying about plane schedules, talking with Ted and getting the last few things I need into my backpack for the trip. Bastards at Cracker Barrel have me working until Sunday, which means I have one day off before I leave. I’ll be ready for a break, I just hope this trip doesn’t turn out to be more stressful than it is relaxing and fun. It’s nice to imagine yourself in another country, care-free in the open air with a beer in your hand, but it’s entirely different when it starts to creep up on you…

I think most people who have traveled or who have traveled alone can tell you that. It’s great in your mind, but when it comes down to the day before departure, you start to get alert and anxious.

You have to keep your head on your shoulders while traveling, really. You have x amount of money that you’ve worked your ass off for and you must use it wisely. You have to keep your eyes open because if someone nabs that passport of yours or any of your money, or anything else, you are fucked. You have to make sure you don’t snooze off and miss a flight or bus and you have to make sure that you can actually get some sleep before you get that bus or flight so you aren’t in a horrible state when you finally reach your destination. Alarm bells start ringing…

I’m more concerned about the first day than anything. I have to catch two flights, one of which is overnight and 8 hours, so I have to force myself to sleep a little in an economy seat. Then I land and catch a plane with 15 minutes to go, which I probably can’t do. I’ll miss it and wait 8 hours for my next flight wishing somebody would shoot me in the head. Then I fly into Ireland, bus an hour to Ennis and meet Ted.

Everything was planned, including bus schedules and plane schedules by yours truly, but Ted wanted to change a few things. Can’t blame him, it’s his trip too, but some planning would have been nice, god damn it! I’m the one who gets to look up all the bus schedules and coordinate it. Not to mention our bad start. He booked his tickets too early and he’ll be there a day ahead of me, which fucks a lot up. We’ve rolled with the punches and will meet elsewhere, but it is stressful trying to improvise and come up with new ideas.

Now I’m just trying to forget about it and drink some beers. Let’s hope alcohol and hate for my present situation can pull me through this. What happens, happens. All I’ve got to do is get through one more day of busting my ass and tell myself just that…there’s nothing to do but let it happen.

Make your flights, sit in your chair, close your eyes and go with it.

Booyakasha!

April 27, 2005

I came in a bit late on the Ali G wave and I’ve just recently watched one of his shows. That’s mostly because I watch tv sporadically and when I do it isn’t HBO. Most “edgy” HBO originals seem to last a few episodes and then sort of continue on for the sake of continuing, like they’re propelled by their own hype, which bores the hell out of me. Band of Brothers had a true story to tell and Curb Your Enthusiasm is basically a (very good) sitcom, but stuff like The Sopranos and Deadwood just seem to float along and end up no where. Each episode has just enough drama to lead up to the next episode, like a soap opera, and then it gets boring.

Ali G is definitely not the typical HBO original. First of all, it originally aired in the UK. It ended once Cohen was well known and couldn’t get away with his shenanigans any longer. Secondly, it’s a comedy, and an original one at that. Sasha Cohen plays three characters: Ali G – a British wigger, Borat – a clueless tourist from Kazakhstan, and Bruno – a gay, Austrian fashion expert. Each of them is done incredibly well, so it goes without saying that he’s a pretty intelligent and quick witted guy. I saw Borat for the first time on Conan O’Brien and almost had a hernia. Cohen’s got the stereotype of a clueless eastern man in a complicated western world down pretty well. Then there is Ali G, who I had heard about but never looked into until a rather cocky British guy I know started to recite lines from the show. The lisp and wanna-be slang made me laugh and so I checked it out. It’s now one of my favorite shows.

Part of me loves Cohen’s comedy because he has that “nothing is sacred” mentality – anything and anyone is open to laughing at, because life is short and cruel and you might as well just laugh. Nothing is worth taking seriously, etc. Not everyone agrees with that, of course, but it’s part of the fun. The show is made to get a reaction, and it does that very well.

For instance, in one episode, Borat manages to get a bar full of country western fans to sing “Throw the Jew down the well,” a song about ridding the Jews from his home country. This caused the Anti-Defamation League to get up in arms along with a lot of Jewish people. The Jews were angry not because Cohen (who is Jewish himself) made the song, but because the rednecks were actually up to singing along with him.

If these people would get over themselves I think they would see that most of the people who were singing were probably drunken rednecks who wanted nothing but to cheer on this poor, mislead, ass backwards Ay-Rab for actually having the balls to get up and sing a song in front of them. He clearly had no concept of what real country music was and so it looked to me like they wanted to humor him – not that they were out to hate some Jews. Do the people that are complaining really believe the average southerner even comes in contact with a member of the Jewish faith very often? That they care? Get over yourselves. I sure haven’t run into many stein’s or berg’s in my neck of the woods, nor have I met many Jews in any of the other small country towns I’ve lived in. Anti-Semitism isn’t a big issue, if only because there aren’t many Jews around to hate. The fact is that those country bumpkins probably did not care at all, or didn’t know any better, or again, they were probably drunk. Maybe they were racists. Who cares? When I first saw the clip I was positive that they’d start to throw bottles at him ala The Blues Brothers, if not partially because he was an Arab man, but they sang along and I was sort of happy that they did. Even I would have sung along because it was so ridiculous and funny and I’ve nothing against Jews – at least nothing more than the followers of any other religion. Sorry. Either way, I really wish that some people, like those at [this site] would stop being so god damn sensitive about things like that. Cry me a river, would you?

Cohen claims he plans it all, that he likes to get people to let their guard down around someone as naive as Borat so that they will show their true colors.. but that sounds iffy to me. I can’t believe it was his mission in the first place. I’m sure he knew something interesting was going to happen – putting a man like that in a room full of people like that – but I don’t think it was his goal. Part of the fun is the reaction, is it not? You never know what it will be, but it’s probably going to be outrageous and entertaining. Something tells me he didn’t do it to show the plight of the average Jew.

That said, the other half of me does sort of feel a little pity for the people Cohen attacks. For instance, he interviews completely oblivious and in some cases, innocent people, who give him the benefit of the doubt and who patiently answer all of his questions, no matter how moronic they might be. He wasn’t well known at the time of the making of the series and so he could sneak in interviews with people like Buzz Aldrin, James Lipton, the former Secretary General of the UN, a Catholic priest, and ask them all completely ignorant but seemingly sincere questions like “Will man ever walk on the sun?”, “Is acting for the gays?”, “What is the funniest sounding language?”, and ““Isn’t God just an over hyped David Blaine?” These people assume that he is just another misguided fool and one of today’s corrupt youth, a victim of a culture gone bad – because there are very stupid people out there and some of them do host tv shows. When you put yourself in their positions, you have to feel a little bad. They got duped; all the while being kind enough to humor him… it says something about being a nice person. The highlight is that he mostly interviews people who deserve to be duped and either way, that’s the nothing is sacred policy – nothing should be taken too seriously. Hopefully, people like Aldrin laugh it off. That is…if they ever discover it’s all fake.

I’ve yet to see the Ali G movie, mostly because of the bad reviews it gets, but Borat, which is coming out this year, is something I’m definitely going to watch. The director of Old School quit the project because of a near riot at a rodeo caused by innocent little Borat himself.

After telling the crowd he supported America’s war on terrorism, he said, “I hope you kill every man, woman and child in Iraq, down to the lizards … And may George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq.” He then sang a garbled version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The Roanoke Times reported that the crowd turned “downright nasty.” One observer said “If he had been out there a minute longer, I think somebody would have shot him.”

Sounds like good stuff to me.

Let’s hope none of this will involve playing a game of battleship with Death.

20+ emails later and after bitching at Ted endlessly, we finally have a set itinerary. I didn’t want to spend much time in Dublin, nor did I want to spend 7+ hours in a bus to get to see the Cliffs of Moher/Arans, but he didn’t really want to hike 5 days straight at 12 miles a day in Dingle, and I doubt he even knows where the Sherkin Islands are located. So we have compromised and now we’ve got an ad hoc plan. It’s all rather ballsy considering we don’t know if half of our transportation is reliable, but if we get stuck somewhere I’ll have a story to tell and I’ll get to punch Ted in the stomach, which is sure to make me happy.

As it stands, here is our trip:

May 4: Fly from London – Shannon. Bus to Doolin. Chill there, get early sleep.

May 5: Early Morning: Ferry to Aran Islands, Return by late afternoon. Hike and see Cliffs of Moher with beers during sunset (This was Ted’s romantic and fabulous idea. This is also where I will probably get piss drunk. I’m bringing Pepto this time, don’t worry.) Return to hostel.

May 6: Morning: Bus or drive to Dingle Town. Check out 50+ pubs. Hooray!

May 7-11: Hike the Dingle Way. The best part of the trip, hopefully.

May 12 – 13: Baltimore/Sherkin Islands. Pirate islands, yarrr!

May 14: Drive or Train to Dublin.

May 15-16: Dublin. Guinness plant..can’t beat that.

May 17: Depart

Let’s hope none of this will involve playing a game of battleship with Death.

20+ emails later and after bitching at Ted endlessly, we finally have a set itinerary. I didn’t want to spend much time in Dublin, nor did I want to spend 7+ hours in a bus to get to see the Cliffs of Moher/Arans, but he didn’t really want to hike 5 days straight at 12 miles a day in Dingle, and I doubt he even knows where the Sherkin Islands are located. So we have compromised and now we’ve got an ad hoc plan. It’s all rather ballsy considering we don’t know if half of our transportation is reliable, but if we get stuck somewhere I’ll have a story to tell and I’ll get to punch Ted in the stomach, which is sure to make me happy.

As it stands, here is our trip:

May 4: Fly from London – Shannon. Bus to Doolin. Chill there, get early sleep.

May 5: Early Morning: Ferry to Aran Islands, Return by late afternoon. Hike and see Cliffs of Moher with beers during sunset (This was Ted’s romantic and fabulous idea. This is also where I will probably get piss drunk. I’m bringing Pepto this time, don’t worry.) Return to hostel.

May 6: Morning: Bus or drive to Dingle Town. Check out 50+ pubs. Hooray!

May 7-11: Hike the Dingle Way. The best part of the trip, hopefully.

May 12 – 13: Baltimore/Sherkin Islands. Pirate islands, yarrr!

May 14: Drive or Train to Dublin.

May 15-16: Dublin. Guinness plant..can’t beat that.

May 17: Depart

Veni, vidi…what?

April 12, 2005

Countdown to Ireland is about 21 days from now. Noting that, and how I don’t feel very nervous or concerned much like I was last October around this time, I decided to read some of the notes I made in my pseudo-journal I kept while on the trip. I remember being bored and sitting on a stone fence, thinking about what it must be like to actually live in a place like the one I was in.

[noting the abundance of beat-up farming equipment]
I imagine what the average farmer from County Clare tries to achieve…what are his goals? More cows? Would the highlight of his life be a John Deere tractor? What would the nightly exchange be like between him and his wife at the dinner table?
“I’m going to do it,” he’d say, finally breaking the silence.
“Do what?”
“I’ll buy a John Deere Tractor.”
“Oh, but they’re so expensive.”
“That’s the price you pay to be a star, Mary.”
“Oh, jeeezus!”

It will definitely be something to travel again and to deal with all of the good and bad associated with it; being tired, jetlagged, sitting in a cramped plane — and the good — drinking Guinness in a pub while listening to trad music, exploring, meeting or seeing new and very different people from all over the world. Dealing with freaky-weird electric showers (isn’t that shit dangerous?)

At least I know this time to hold no expectations, which is undoubtedly a good thing. Just like I scribbled into my notebook with bleeding fountain pen ink: “I came, I saw, I shat my pants.” My motto has always been to expect the worst so that I’m ready for it when it happens, and so that if victory should come, it is all the sweeter. This time I’ll actually listen to myself. This time, I expect nothing more than to be tired and to see something new.

So say the headlines. I believe the important part is that nobody gives a shit.

At this point I have to wonder exactly why the royal family of Britain exists and what they actually do. They sit about and have rocky marriages and die in car wrecks, but what else? CSPAN tells me that the royal family has nothing to do with the shouting done in the House of Commons and the tabloids show that Prince William was apparently bred to be put on magazine covers, none of which seems to benefit anyone at all. I would ask why the UK puts up with all of the soap opera horseshit, but we ourselves have elected one GW Bush, and so I suppose I do not have any right to comment.

Still, they should fess up. They’re just as fucked as us. They’ve got an inbred prince with horrible ears as a puppet leader for their country. We have something close, except he’s a president not prince, and being a puppet would be an improvement on his intelligence.

Here’s a gutbuster

April 2, 2005

Today while spacing out at work I thought of a joke. Here it is:

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?

Definitely not the pope.

I hope you like it.

Honestly, it is hard to feel bad for the man. He died with thousands watching, waiting with bated breath for any word on his condition.

Most of us who are not the pope will die with no one waiting on us, or no one worth having around…