A three hour tour, a three hour tour…
If that were me, I would use it as a Viking vessel, rowing from storefront to storefront to pillage and raid. I would recruit other Styrofoam vikings and create a vast Styrofoam Viking Armada, and we would rule the flooded city that is New Orleans. With our speedy flotation devices and umbrella oars, we could strike anywhere at any time. Prepare yourself, Coast Guard!

katrina_foam.jpg

God, I’m an asshole.

Whores invade high school

August 25, 2005

In other news, cheap sex is available in Canton, Ohio.

CANTON, Ohio — Shocking school administrators and others community members, fully 13 percent of the female students at an Ohio high school currently are pregnant.

According to a report in the Canton Repository, 65 girls of the 490 females at Timken High School are with child – a number confirmed by Principal Kim Redmond.

“This has gotten to horrible proportions,” said Redmond. “I wish I knew the answer to why it’s happening.”

The irony of this entire thing is that they are the Timken High Trojans. But seriously, who is surprised by this? This is America, home of the vain, where fake tits and nose jobs dominate the landscape. It’s what we live for, to look good & make money. Do you want to know why there are 65 pregnant girls at your daughter’s highschool? Because they’re whores! While your daughter is at home getting finger fucked by Bobby the Quarterback and flipping through Seventeen Magazine for tips on better blowjobs, you’re at the PTA meeting trying to figure out what’s gone wrong…and it’s really not that complicated. Our culture is shit. Look at Sex In the City: 90% of the females in this country identify with that show and it’s about a bunch of narcissistic women sipping cappucinos, discussing the new shoes they bought at Barney’s and the new penis-with-legs they fucked last night. I don’t know why anybody is trying to get to the bottom of it. Your little girls are skanky cretins living in a morally bankrupt society.

I hate computers. I’ve been forced to learn things about them over the years out of necessity (I can now put one together, for instance), and I think that has caused me to hate them even more. I’m constantly using one for music, communication, or blowing shit up in video games, but I still can’t quite convince myself that they’re worth the time or effort. I think I’ll just run this one into the dirt before I think about shelling out the cash for another. Even then I might decide to just strip myself naked and run out into a forest somewhere to live off of rabbit meat. What a pain in the ass these things are.

Long story short, I had two hard drives in my PC die. I didn’t lose that much music or digital pictures because I back things up religiously, but good god, I don’t like dealing with this crap. I asked around and was told that it might be the drives overheating, so I got a program to look at my temperatures. What do you know, my hard drive is running at 66C or 150 FUCKING DEGREES (scientific measurement). The reason being that I have no extra fans in my computer. I was trying to get by like the cheap bastard I am, and I failed.

NewEgg.com sent the two huge fans I ordered pretty quickly, but to actually get them into my computer today I had to basically disassemble my entire case. Then I couldn’t get the screws in. Why should it take a motorized screwdriver and 25 pounds of pressure to screw a piece of metal into god damn plastic? How is that neccessary? It’s made in China, for crying out loud! I finally got them in there – one sucking in, the other pushing out. The result? The temp had gone down a whole 10 degrees – if that. Now I want to kill somebody. I think I’ll end up taking this drill to my head to give myself a proper lobotomy. Either that, or I’ll end up punching a bunch of holes into the side of this desk to get more air in there.

Should it be this complicated? No, but I don’t want all of my music to up and vanish one day because my pc is too hot, and that means I either have to deal with this shit or cram my room full of CDs. I’d have quite a few CDs to purchase if I abandonded my computer, which is why I’m so unwilling to do so. I wonder how many thousands of dollars that would run me, only for the man to turn around and make DVD-Audio widely available, forever nullifying my Compact Discs. This is why having an obsession, whether it be music or movies or anything else, is BAD.

I wish I could ween myself off of my love for these things and go live in a fucking Buddhist temple or something, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon. After all, how lost would my reincarnated soul be without its mp3 player? Talk about limbo.

I’ve had a couple of ideas for t-shirts over the years, but I’ve never really known of any way to go about bringing them to life. Well, thanks to the wonder of the internet, things have changed, and I have a creation. Sort of. I mean, it doesn’t physically exist, and the odds of anyone purchasing it are slim, but I had to see it done. I would buy my the shirt from myself, but I have no money.

I present to you: Save Hollywood Kill A Baldwin!
killabaldwin.jpg
Click here for my shop

When I added my own images to the shirt, the price went through the roof (ink prices and what not?). I know that if anyone ever decides to buy this, no matter how unlikely, they are not going to pay $20 for it… so I opted not to use my better pistol and I used a stock image provided on their website. But the text is all mine, baby.

Hunter S. gets his wish

August 21, 2005

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In the documentary Fear & Loathing In Gonzovision, Hunter S. Thompson explains that upon his death, he would like to be cremated and shot out of a 150 foot tall cannon brandishing a two-thumbed Gonzo fist. He is seen visiting a funeral parlour along with Ralph Steadman to make the drawings and plans, all in a very serious manner – and that was in 1978. The man clearly had a plan. (If you’re lucky enough to have the Criterion Collection version of Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, you can find the documentary in the extras.)

Well, yesterday he got his wish. He was blown sky-high along with some impressive looking fireworks. I do wish I was there, if not to just see the explosion and sip on a little bit of rum. Thompson picked a rather respectful way to go out, in my humble opinion. As I’ve said before, I find nothing wrong with choosing when and where you die. You should at least have that much control over your destiny. Thompson knew that. He also knew that there was no point in going on the way he was with his health problems, so he ended it. And then he had one hell of a funeral.

Such a perfect way to say goodbye; almost mocking the entire idea of life and death. Maybe even celebrating how fantasticly strange it all is. We come from dirt and back into the dirt we will go, but not without some explosions first. I wouldn’t mind something along those lines at my funeral. A cannon might be a bit grandiose for me, but I wouldn’t mind a parade of black men from New Orleans playing kazoos & throwing my ashes around in the air like so many Johnny Appleseeds. That would be ok. That would be my style. Or, maybe I could just get someone to clump me into a coffee can and throw me off of a cliff somewhere pretty. Dingle, Ireland was one of the more beautiful places I’ve ever seen, so that sounds pretty good to me.

Here’s some NPR coverage on the story [link]. Here’s the Gonzo tower:

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Was flippin’ around and came across the Carolla show earlier. It was surprisingly good. He managed to point out two things that I think should be discussed further.

1. Dubya is right now, as I type this, on a 30 day vacation. What justification does the man have to take a vacation for 30 consecutive days? There are people out there working their asses off at shitty minimum wage jobs who are trying to support their families, who never get vacation time. Those who are lucky enough to get some time off may get a week or two, not an entire month. Bush takes nearly a year off when you tally up all of his vacation time. 320 fucking days. The man put in charge of the superpower in the world, the strongest country, the man who is supposed to lead us in these very turbulent times, is fishing somewhere in Texas right now. On top of that, his term is only 8 years out of his 59 year lifespan – why the hell does he need nearly a year of that time spent milling around his ranch in Texas? I don’t care if he’s doing phone conferences while he’s there. He shouldn’t have time to bike with Lance Armstrong and run around in his woods like the redneck he is. I’m all for him being out of office… but if it is his job, he could at least be up there trying to fix some of the shit he’s screwed up. While he’s vacationing, people are getting their guts blown out in Iraq.

The president departed Tuesday for his longest stretch yet away from the White House, arriving at his Crawford ranch in the evening for a stretch of clearing brush, visiting with family and friends, and tending to some outside-the-Beltway politics. By historical standards, it is the longest presidential retreat in at least 36 years.

The August getaway is Bush’s 49th trip to his cherished ranch since taking office and the 319th day that Bush has spent, entirely or partially, in Crawford — nearly 20 percent of his presidency to date, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS Radio reporter known for keeping better records of the president’s travel than the White House itself. Weekends and holidays at Camp David or at his parents’ compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, bump up the proportion of Bush’s time away from Washington even further.
Washing Post

2. Twist off beer caps vs. pull off beer caps. I had to agree with Carolla on that one too. Something should be changed about those god damn bottle caps. I wish I knew the official stance on the twist off cap by Europeans. Do they claim that it effects the beer some how? Is it too easy for them? Too American? Why should I need a tool to open a bottle of beer? Why should I be reduced to stumbling around my kitchen half drunk, in the dark, trying to find a bottle opener? I can’t imagine that there’s any difference at all in the freshness of the beer – get rid of those pull off’s already.

I enjoy news items about strange people, because they make me feel less abnormal. So here are a few of those.

First off is this link to a website filled with fetishy stories and haikus all about Roy Orbison being wrapped in cling film. I do not know the motivation for this website or why anyone would be interested in wrapping Roy Orbison in what I understand to be plastic wrap, but I find it very amusing.

‘I hear I owe you my life,’ he says. ‘Please accept these concert tickets.’

I bow politely. ‘There is something you perhaps should know. While you were in a coma I was forced to wrap you entirely in cling-film.’

Oh, internet. You sure are whacky. What could be whackier than that, you may ask. Well, this for one:

Police seek diaper-clad man who pesters women

LONDON (Reuters) – UK police said Monday they were searching for a man wearing just a diaper, who approaches women late at night and asks: “Are there any baby changing facilities around here?”

Cleveland police in northeast England said the latest incident occurred around 11 p.m. Sunday when he surprised a women[sic] walking her dog in a play area in Eaglescliffe, near Middlesbrough.

Police said no one had been assaulted by the man but described his behavior as bizarre and a cause for concern.

“There have been several reports of him having been seen in Eaglescliffe dressed only in a nappy and we are keen to trace him and speak to him,” police said.

Reuters

I also enjoyed this story:

Man fires shotgun near Bush ranch, protesters
‘This is Texas,’ neighbor says when queried by a reporter

CRAWFORD, Texas – A man fired a shotgun into the air as about 60 anti-war protesters held a religious service on the road to President Bush’s ranch.

Sheriff’s deputies and Secret Service agents in the area of the demonstration site Sunday rushed to the home of Larry Mattlage after the shots were fired but did not arrest him.

“I ain’t threatening nobody, and I ain’t pointing a gun at nobody,” Mattlage said. “This is Texas.”

Mattlage said he was sympathetic toward the demonstrators at first, but they have blocked roads in the area and caused traffic problems.

He said he fired his gun in preparation for dove-hunting season but when asked if he had another motive, he said, “Figure it out for yourself.”
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MSNBC

I would really like to visit Texas some day. That’s all for now.

Michael came down on Thursday for a weekend visit. We ended up lying around binge drinking, playing River City Ransom, and farting a lot. We demonstrated that we are indeed the kings of Sloth and Gluttony. We are the unclean beasts lurking in the shadow.

At this moment I feel very bloated, which, judging by my appearance in the mirror, is a great description of myself in general. I also feel sleep deprived and slightly ill. I think the both of us went through about 47 beers in 3 nights. On the last night, Michael ended up with a headache and opted to take medicine and go to sleep instead of drink another cold beer to soothe his head like a real man would, so I was forced to up our total number of beers drunk to somewhere around 53 on my lonesome.

The highlight of this weekend was probably our trek to the local bars. I had scouted our first shithole, the aptly named Bayou Pub, at some point previously. It stood out to me because it is all but a tiny shack you’d find in a stinking swamp in the backwoods of Louisiana. It is one very small room filled with smoke and a small group of miserable people that compose the city of Niceville. They converge there to drink beer and play shoeless pool, and also to holler or eye with contempt anyone who dares enter their cramped abode. Inside, we ordered two bottles of ye ol’ Silver Bullet, then sat down. I was content with looking around and breathing in the filth of an exceptional dive bar (my first, in fact), but Michael informed me there was a heated game of pool going down, so I re-positioned my chair. That’s when I saw the pair of shoes sitting at my feet. I was careful not to disturb these shoes so I wouldn’t be stabbed by the obese, barefoot woman I suspected of placing them there – the same woman who was just starting in on the intense game of pool with a mexican man.

When I first saw the delapidated leather shoes sitting neatly below me, I knew that I was probably sitting in someone’s chair. Someone had marked their territory with their shoes, forcing me to become alert. What kind of barbarian marks their territory with their shoes? Someone who would have no quarrel with unseating me, no doubt. “Let me get my shoes out of your way,” someone said from behind me. I flexed my muscles and gritted my teeth, preparing myself for the battle to earn the rights to my new seat at the bar. Instead of attack me, however, shoeless Joe swept her black leather sneakers out from under my chair with her pool cue and went back to her game. I shifted awkwardly. It was then that Michael’s cell began buzzing and we decided to get out of the stinking hole that is The Bayou Pub. Exciting.

I wanted to run the gamut, so we decided to travel back to Crestview and visit another horrible watering hole known to us veterans as The Rock – or The Holi-Rock to you scum. The Holi-Rock is what put us on the map. It’s Crestview’s Niagara Falls. I’ve had a hankering to visit it for some time, because I have heard it is the happening place in Crestview. That translates to real entertainment, the kind of entertainment you can only find in shitty country towns with shitty country people. We payed $5 at the door for this experience. Upon reflection, it was probably worth it. After all, I discovered that I will no longer have to travel to San-Destin to see middle aged, drunken women dance obnoxiously to bad 80’s music – I can do it right here. On top of that, should I ever want to contract Gonorrhea from one of these aforementioned middle aged women, I could take any such prospective lays to a room at the attached Holiday Inn. It all works out.

No animals were harmed during our tour of these bars. Several mullets were identified and tagged at The Holi-Rock and then released back into the wild. In 6 months we will check back on their status to see how they are doing. Our local mullet population is counting on us! In the end, I would wager that nothing uncommon to The Rock happened in The Rock, so there’s not much else to comment on. People were hoola-hooping, there was bad music playing, and Michael managed to give the place some ambience by knocking over a chair and then spilling someone’s drink, which may have been unintentional, but we won’t tell anyone.

It’s a news post!

August 10, 2005

I don’t necessarily like the idea of suing someone, or a party, or whatever, unless it is absolutely necessary. It seems like something that sparked up in America and should have died down long ago. You kicked my hyperactive child while I was walking him on his leash at the park? SUED! You didn’t bother to tell me my coffee was hot after you handed me the styrofoam coffee cup with “HOT HOT HOT” printed all over it and I burned my genitalia? SUED! However, Microsoft sued someone recently and I sort of…I sort of enjoyed it!

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp. has settled a lawsuit against Scott Richter, whom it identified as a former “spam king,” as part of its ongoing efforts to curb the spread of unsolicited e-mail messages, the world’s largest software maker said on Tuesday.

Microsoft said that as part of the settlement Richter and his company, OptInRealBig.com Llc., agreed to pay $7 million to Microsoft.

Finally, Microsoft does something just about everyone can agree is good.

Also in the news: somebody has actually done it. I had my eye on it for a while, but decided it wasn’t worth the plane ticket. A bank containing $68 million in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil was robbed. These sophisticated sons o’ bitches tunneled under the bank and stole the money, like something out of a movie. In fact, the local police-guy agreed, it was rather Hollywood:

“It’s something you see in the movies. They dug a tunnel … that goes underneath two (city) blocks. They’ve been digging for three months,” police investigator Francisco Queiroga told Reuters by telephone.”

As that dick-comedian Dane Cook once said in some form or another, one of the few things men want aside from sex is to participate in a heist, Heat style. You know you wish you were a part of that shit in Rio, just for the kicks. The money takes a back seat to feeling like a super bad ass who robbed a bank. You could actually say, “I robbed a bank,” and there’s nothing worth more than that.

Since I’m making this a big news posts, I’ll also point out that there’s some weird fucker in Oregon – a coach, in fact – that has been caught licking wounds on the bodies of the high school atheletes he was instructing. He told them, in some sort of disgusting pep talk, that a coach somewhere licked someone’s wounds and the wounds healed quickly. Then he began licking. Well, sounds convicing to me!

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – The Oregon teachers’ board reprimanded a high school football coach for licking the bleeding wounds of student athletes, school officials said on Friday.

The Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission placed Scott Reed, 34, on two years of probation and ordered the coach, who is also a science teacher to attend a class on the risks of blood-borne pathogens.

Last summer, Reed gave students at Central Linn High School near Eugene, Oregon, 100 miles south of Portland, a pep talk about a coach who had licked and healed players’ wounds so that they could rejoin the game. After the talk, he bent down and licked a cut on a track athlete’s knee, the commission said.

Mars inc, or whoever, are coming out with hujungous M&M’s. They claim that their huge candies will not further childhood obesity, because they are using adult color coatings. I have no idea what colors are considered adult, and know of no fat child that would turn down any color, if the color contained peanut, chocolate, and sugar inside of it. I damn well know that when I was 10, I was scarfing those things down like Rush Limbaugh was scarfing Oxycontin, and they helped not one bit. 2x cannot be good.

“It broadens our portfolio so there’s something for everyone,” Buyce said.

The new M&M’s are available in milk chocolate and peanut varieties and come with an “adult-oriented” color scheme that includes teal, beige, maroon, gold, brown and blue-gray.

The BBC reports that cheerleaders in Michigan helped solve a crime by reciting a cheer. The cheer leader coach knew she would not remember the number on the license plate of the car that ran from a wreck, so she told her team of idiot savants, who then created a cheer – because it seemed like a good idea. This reminds me of that raver guy in Spaced who would dance to any combination of thumps or clanks. According to the news:

“So, when I ran down the street and got the plate number, I yelled to the girls: ‘Remember this’!”

Senior team captain, Kimmie Ostrowski, recalled: “The coach just said it and we were saying it over and over, and then it just turned into a big chant since we kept repeating it.”

And uh, I think that’s it. It’s a wonderful, crazy world. If Louis Armstrong’s decaying bones were here, they would attempt to sing “What a wonderful world” and they would fail horribly, because his bones would not contain any form of voice box or vocal chords. Just so you know.

It’s adventure time

August 8, 2005

I feel like going on an adventure. I just have that feeling, that wanderlust. I would like to strap on my shoes and perhaps a backpack filled with essentials including, but not limited to peanut butter, a first aid kit, and toiletries, and then go barreling off down some back road in search of various beasts or magnificent sites. I want to observe different people and drink different alcoholic beverages from a flask tucked away in my coat pocket. You know how that goes. You want to be Indiana Jones for a day, you want to go somewhere and be chased by gigantic boulders or be threatened by a snake only to survive by the skin of your teeth, what not and so forth. Even a relatively mild adventure would be acceptable to me right now. Slippery rocks in a creek bed where I almost fall down would be considered mild, but enough to make my heart race because I do not want to get my pants or socks wet. This would be acceptable. Does anyone know of any creeks around my location? I also wouldn’t mind a situation where the water collected from a nearby faucet may or may not be suitable to drink. A discussion would take place between my traveling partner and I about whether or not the water appears to be safe to drink. We would finally conclude that it is not worth chancing, so we would continue on with parched and weary throats, smacking the last droplets of water out of our canteens with the palms of our hands. This would also be classified as mildly exciting, if only because the water where I live is sanitary and I can drink it any time I like, which can become boring.

Seeing as I have no obligations at this moment and I have come to terms with the fact that I am not an ambitious or productive person, I’ve decided I’m going to save some more money and go somewhere. That is, as long as I have a home to retreat to once I’m done.

Where will this place be? I don’t know. I need some ideas. I wanna do something. I want to build a motherfucking mud hut for a family of eight. I want to make something with my hands. I looked into volunteering in some foreign country so I wouldn’t have to spend so much money, but I wonder if it would even be worth it. It is an option. I could also visit friends or family somewhere and that would save me some money. Ted’s in Korea for I-don’t-know-how-long. Sam’s in San Diego. Jonathan will be in Vancouver. But will there be adventure? Slippery rocks? Who knows. I think I’ll spend the rest of today looking around on the internet at places like VFP.org.

Korean powahouse

August 7, 2005

I watched Tae Guk Gi, The Brotherhood of War tonight. It’s a Korean movie about, you guessed it, the Korean War. There definitely aren’t enough of those. In fact, I think I’ve only ever seen one, and that was about Americans fighting the Chinese in Korea, not S. Koreans fighting N. Koreans. Tae Guk Gi is about two brothers who are drafted – one the collegiate pride of the family, and the other a shoe shiner. The fighting scenes themselves were on par with the best war movies I’ve seen, whether it be Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, Black Hawk Down – it’s impressive. Gory, depressing, but impressive…like it should be.

Maybe Seoul is becoming the Hollywood of Asia or something. I already own My Sassy Girl because it is the only love story I’ve ever been able to stomach, and on top of that it’s a good film (god, the remake for that is going to suck balls). Then, a few months ago, I was lucky enough to hear about OldBoy (god, the Hollywood remake for that one is going to suck balls too). OldBoy is one of the best movies I have ever seen, period. I urge you to go check it out – do not go and read about it or you’ll spoil everything. Just know that it’s really, really good. The plot twists in that one alone would easily get you to forget about The Usual Suspects.

Then there was that movie Joint Security Area, or J.S.A, which is also incredibly good. It’s mostly about the interaction between the North Korean/South Korean military at the DMZ. Go see that one too.

Of course, I’m obliged to talk about how sad it is that some assholes in Hollywood feel they need to go out and rip off these perfectly fine movies and re-release them over here, but what’s new? The only reason they could possibly be doing it is for money. After all, you can’t release a Korean movie over here in our theaters and expect it to go anywhere, especially when you’re asking the average American to sit down and read subtitles on the screen (oh no, now I have to think!) But really, how can you go and invalidate somebody else’s work like that, especially when the original work was so good? The movies were made two years ago, it’s not like they’re ripe for an upgrade. Bleh.

Ah, and while I’m on the topic of movies, check this shit out: Vin Diesel stars as HANNIBAL. Yes, the brilliant tactician who defeated the Romans several times and ruled the Italian countryside is Vin Fucking Diesel. Are you kidding me?! While they’re at it, why don’t they get Hulk Hogan to star as Napoleon? That would make just as much sense. Jesus Christ.

I made sort of a travelogue for my last trip to Ireland so I wouldn’t forget what happened a couple years down the road. My memory has a habit of fading. Here is only some of my rambling. And I do ramble. It’s very long.

A few months before going on the trip, I booked the cheapest ticket I could find, which was with Virgin Air out of Orlando. When you order a non-refundable ticket through Priceline, your trip is pretty much solidified – you are going, unless you want to bend over and take one from the entire Priceline.com staff because your ticket is non-changeable and non-refundable and non-swappable. Ted, my traveling buddy on this adventure, told me the lowest fares would probably be found going into London first, so I went with that. He was a lying bastard in retrospect and I let him know that many times on the trip, especially when I wanted him to buy me a pint. In the end, I connected flights 3 times and I think tickets must have cost about $800 or more, which is more than it is to fly directly into Shannon or Dublin. So, that was a bad start.

I was more nervous in Pensacola, my starting point, than I was while waiting in the other airports or while flying. There’s all of that built up anxiety, not to mention airports aren’t my favorite places. I just wanted to get it all over with. There’s too much going on in airports at any given time – people running here and there, flights to catch, overall stress. The day of departure, I sat with my parents in the lounge of the Pensacola Regional Airport and had a beer with my father. I don’t think it was even 12pm at that point, but we said what the hell. Something has to kill those butterflies fluttering about in your stomach and it might as well be beer.

Before D-Day I had e-mailed Ted to get everything straightened out – things like where were we going to meet, what the back up plan was if one of us wasn’t there, whatever. That frayed my nerves a little, because a lot of things depended on other things. That’s not the way I operate. I want to know where I’m going along with what time I will be leaving when it comes to transportation. Yet, despite all of my preparation, there were flights that were going to be missed, tickets that were going to be wasted, and Ted would fly in from Italy a day before me by accident, meaning I had to meet him in Ireland instead of at an airport in England.

My wait in Pensacola was pretty short, along with the flight; one hour or so on a mini-jet. In Orlando I did have to wait. I sat around sweating for a while, then decided to take two aspirin so I wouldn’t succumb to the dreaded Deep Vein Thrombosis (otherwise known as Economy Class Syndrome). I would be damned if I was going to fly half way around the world, stand up once we landed, and die immediately from a clog in one of my vessels. DVT is most commonly reported to happen to men and women over 40, but I’m unlucky and if anyone under 40 is going to die from something so unusual, it would be me. An annoucement finally said the plane was ready for boarding and people began collecting their things. The plane had been late, which wasn’t good for me, because I had a connecting flight to catch later on. After chatting with the man at the desk, I knew I was screwed. I asked if I could get a seat near the exit so that I wouldn’t be stuck in line once we landed, but he said it wasn’t up to him. He also said I probably wouldn’t make my flight. Thanks for that encouragement! I abandoned all hope, preparing myself for flying 8 hours across the Atlantic only to sit in an airport for another 8 hours once landed.

I eyed my fellow passengers waiting in line with me. Please, lord, don’t let me be seated next to those beautiful girls in front of me. All I need is to sit next to two attractive European females while reeking of sweat to kill my soul and confidence forever. Don’t do it, god damn it! My wish was granted and I ended up being seated next to an elderly British couple, who were probably no more impressed than the females would have been. But being old means you get the shaft, so that was that. I kept my arms down, jacket on, and tried to stay awake as the stewardesses mulled over safety instructions. I focused on the TV in my seatback. This is already better than US Air, I told myself. We had no fancy gadgets there, just pain and boredom and darkness! This screen showed real time stats, along with where we were in the world with a little airplane icon. Neato.

I awoke at some point with a grunt of astonishment and despair, startling the old woman next to me. My TV was off, so I instinctively started groping for the remote. I did my best to avoid brushing arms with the woman, as one should never touch the person next to them on a flight, for it is bad airplane etiquette. Keep your oils and limbs to yourself. I glared at the gay flight attendant with too much cologne on and Rod Stewart-hair. How dare he turn off my seatback TV? It was my only comfort, the cruel bastard. I checked to see our position on the GPS and discovered we were in the middle of the ocean with a few hours left to go. I flipped back to Ray so I would have something to watch while stewing in my own body odor. The smell of airplane food drifted through the cabin and I wondered if I had been passed over while sleeping. My stomach was empty and with a five hundred and fifty dollar plane ticket I was damn well going to get something. I thought about what I would do should I not receive the mediocre in-flight meal. Something drastic, I told myself. A stewardess, perhaps sensing the volatility of the situation, approached and asked gently which I would rather have: the vegetarian lasagna or the beef something or other. Beef what, I wondered? I couldn’t hear the rest of what she said, but also knew well that beef was superior to all other forms of food. A pound of raw beef is a suitable meal for the prince of any foreign land! “Beef,” I told her, knowingly. I was handed a platter covered in aluminum foil.

We landed in London several hours later. Gatwick Airport wasn’t as horrible as I expected it to be. I had to go through immigration, where I was given strange looks because the agents wanted to know where I was going and if I knew where I was going to stay, and I didn’t. I had told them “around Ireland,” and that I “didn’t know.” They don’t like that. They generally want to know what you’ll be doing and that you’ll be out of their country in 3 months so they don’t have to track you down and shoot you with a dart gun. At the very least, you should know what you’ll be doing. The woman looked me up and down, stamped my passport, and then I scampered off.

I struggled with a payphone once into the airport and called the Italian phone number I had written down in a book. My contact would be waiting. I am Bond. Don’t get excited — my contact was just Ted, and he is not a super secret agent or Pussy Galore. I told him that I had missed my flight and he didn’t seem very concerned at all, and this made me hate his Korean guts. Then the line cut off. I called him again, got two words in, and it died again. I gave up. I joined the never ending crowd of people racing past with luggage in toe.

Time actually went by quickly, for the most part. I journeyed upstairs into the lounge area to buy a couple of bottles of water to get re-hydrated, which cost approximately MY SOUL. The exchange rate over there is not good, at all. I regretted even buying the water when I needed money later, but what can a man do? I think I ended up going through 3 huge bottles, which brings me to the airport bathrooms. I tried to find the least visited one, which to me, seemed to be the one tucked behind the arcade. The average sane person, I had thought, would see the “restrooms” sign pointing towards the arcade, give Virtual Cop 2 a glance, and then just decide to play that instead. No go. Apparently, other people have a greater attention span than I do. Privacy would not be mine, but to be honest, it was an international airport and I’m not sure I really expected any.

Now, if you’ve had to look after your own luggage in an airport and have had to use the bathroom, you know that it is a pain in the god damn ass. I had to partake of one of the stalls and my backpack was too heavy to hang from the door, so I slung my jacket up there and then looked at the ground for a safe place to put the backpack. There wasn’t one and the floor was damp with god knows what. I took a bunch of toilet paper, strategically placed it on the floor, and then put my backpack on that. In the end, none of that helped. My backpack still slightly reeked of other men’s piss. To reassure myself, I concluded that a “hardened traveler” has to smell a little bit like piss, because piss is unavoidable in this world and if you’re going to travel the world, you ought to smell like urine. It seemed like a reasonable thing to think after a day without sleep, anyway.

I’m against shitting, by anyone, in public places because I feel that they are not places one should take a shit. There are several reasons for this, but I shouldn’t have to elaborate. I just think one should shit in their own home, in privacy. I would think most people could handle waiting for home, unless they’re some sort of sick serial shitter and have to shit anywhere and everywhere and are comfortable with doing that. I am not, but alas, my home was 4,000 miles away, so I was forced to do the age old “toilet paper delicately placed on toilet seat” routine. I decided squatting was a dangerous maneuver and now was not the time or place to utilize it, so the toilet paper was my only choice. I wondered if the other guys around me were struggling with the same circumstances or if they were veteran airport shitters and had it all down and covered.

While in the stall, I noticed that the Gatwick Airport was the most overstaffed airport in the world. This is because a cleaning crew composed of Nigerians attack the bathrooms every 30 seconds. The guys don’t fucking stop. There seems to be an entire team of them that assault the bathrooms in unison with various mops and spray bottles. When I finished up, one of the cleaners bolted into my stall like his mission in life was to clean up whatever I had left behind on my toilet paper tangent. He was blitzkrieging the bunker that was my filth.

Beyond my bathroom expeditions, most of my time was spent sitting around and wishing I could take a shower, or wandering around clueless. I eventually set up post on some couches in one of the hallways where no one else was sitting. Two Canadian girls – I could tell because of the huge flags stitched into their backpacks – came around and sat down across from me at some point, giving me something to look at. When you’re not spreading your seed to supple Canadian females, you ought to be thinking about it, so this is what I did for several hours. I defiled you, whores, know that! There was maple syrup involved and your screams of joy will echo in my head for all eternity! And I didn’t even speak to you. Ah, the power of the mind. Why didn’t I approach them? Because there was nothing to talk about and also because I wasn’t sure that they would agree with me on the whole “smelling like piss is good” thing. Plus you just don’t approach random people in an airport on little to no sleep. They don’t want to be bothered and neither do you. One of the girls brought out an inflatable neck pillow, put it on, pulled her hoodie over her head and fell asleep. She obviously knew what she was doing. I did not, so I just kind of sat around and listened to my mp3 player until a couple of hours before my flight was to take off.

I had been worrying a lot about something simple – if my backpack would fit in the overhead bin on a Ryan Air flight. I asked the ticket man if it would have to be checked and he sort of looked at it.
“Do you want it to be checked?”
“No, but isn’t it too big?”
“Eh…” he said, waving me on. It was obviously a lot bigger than the baggage-bin-tester, but if the man was ok with it then I was. After passing through security, I saw the rest of Gatwick, which was huge. Food shops and duty free shops were everywhere. I was antsy and tired of sitting, so I wandered around staring at 2 for 1 Beef Eater and Johnny Walker Red. Some man from the store approached me at some point, asking where I was headed to. I told him I was going to Ireland and he said I couldn’t buy anything from duty free. “OK, I won’t” I said. “Just looking…that’s all.” He sort of lingered in the area and stared me down for a few minutes rather blatantly as I continued looking around. I can’t stand starers. I wanted to grab a bottle and break it over his head, then stab him with the remaining shards of glass, but I did not. I did not.

You are not given a gate to wait at in Gatwick. You sit and wait around for your flight information to show up on one of the mounted television sets in the shopping area. It sits at something akin to “Shannon, Ireland…Please wait” for an hour as you stare at it in desperation and then eventually, it switches to “Boarding at Gate 34,” so you gather your stuff and run through one of the many doors in the area with a sign next to it that says “Gates 1 to 1,000,000” and head down a long and winding ramp towards where your gate is supposedly at. A herd of other travelers briskly walk along side you, hoping to get a good seat, or a place in line, or perhaps just a thigh bone to chew on. We’d been waiting for 8 hours and we had smelled meat. Now it was OUR turn. I made it down to a lounge area and saw that it was drizzling outside. A cold wind was blowing in through an open door behind the ticket counter. I took a seat near it so I could hop up quickly when the woman wanted to see our tickets, but alas it did not work and I was entered into the side of the line instead of in the actual thing. I think I was forced to cut in front of someone, and I’m almost sure an Irish woman nearby verbally expressed her disappointment about this, but I didn’t care. I was not being stuck in some shitty seat next to some 400 pound fatty, if there were any present other than myself. My American instinct had kicked in, something you don’t really need much over in Europe, because people don’t commonly eat McDonalds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Either way I made it onto the airplane, securing a row of my own. I thought I was lucky, but I would later regret my choice in seating when the incredibly annoying Irish child behind me began knocking the back of my seat and going into various bratty hysterics. I thought about buying a small bottle of liquor, breaking it over the child’s head, and stabbing it with the remaining shards of glass, but I did not. I did not.

Ryan Air is Ireland’s cheap, dirt bag airline and they know this. They have no shame. Here is a snippet from BBC News:

“The objective is to get rid of hold baggage altogether,” said Mr O’Leary, with passengers restricted to carry-on baggage only. This could cut its airport costs by a third within two to three years, it said.
“If you want to carry more, then fly with more expensive airlines,” he said.

“But you can save so much with Ryanair you can buy your hair dryer when you arrive.”

The flight attendants wear horrible outfits retrieved from the set of some 80’s show which must have been about parking attendants or bellboys, because they are all dressed like they are waiting to park your car somewhere. They wear grim faces like they know that one day, this tin-with-wings airplane they are inside of will crash and they will die in their horrible outfits, without ever having parked or retrieved anyone’s car. They appear to be very bitter about the whole thing. The in-plane music which you are treated to is, from what I can tell, Nintendo music. It is literally a bunch of beeps and boops from some game I apparently haven’t played. I sat waiting for the Cabal or Mario Brothers soundtrack to kick in, but I was not so lucky on this flight.

In Shannon, Ireland, I was accosted by the immigration people again. I told them I was headed to meet a friend in Ennis.
“You’re staying in Ennis?” they asked.
“No, I’m just meeting him there. We’re doing the backpacker thing.”
I turned sideways so the agent could see my backpack and I gave a half smile. He looked at me and then stamped. This went better than my last trip to Ireland, where I was alone…
“You’re going where?” the man asked.
“Doolin.”
“With who?”
“Just me.”
“You’re going to Doolin alone?”
“Yeah… is that bad?”
“No.” He paused for moment. “Good effort.”
I looked at him and tried to read his face to see what kind of shit I was getting myself into, but I found nothing and went on my way, determined to continue my exodus into the promised land of jolly old drunkards and beautiful red-haired Irish maidens. Good effort, indeed, you poor, poor fool.

Surprisingly enough, everything was in the same place and I remembered the lay out of Shannon Airport. I felt good, prepared. I was back. “I know how to do all of this,” I told myself. “Easy going.” I needed cash desperately, so I headed over to the ATM to retrieve some Euros. I tried to get a low denomination, but it was apparently out of anything under 50E. I had a mild panic attack. Visions of holding up the bus line and an old Irish coach driver scolding me for ruining his schedule swirled in my head. He would kick me off of the bus to leave me in Shannon for the night only after calling me a “stupid American pig.” I could see it clear as day. “Did you think I would have change for a 100 euro bill? Jeezus!” he would bellow, speeding off at 100KPH.

The bank in the airport was unattended, so I headed to the tourist shop and asked them if I could exchange some of my monopoly money for more monopoly money in lesser denominations. The woman put up a fight and was obviously not impressed with me or the ATM machine. “Normally, we would have you buy something,” she said. I made a face and looked around at their products. She continued lamenting on how there were 50 Euro bills everywhere, but 20s were scarce because of all the travelers like myself. Then she told me she would give me change. My mention of needing it for the bus must have forced her to pity me. Praise the lord, for today will not be my undoing by the Bus Eireann man. I had to wonder exactly how scarce the lower-denominations really were. Were people rationing them? Was there some sort of mix up at the printing press in Dublin? Was the cashier hoping to raid the register later, exchange her own cash, and head home proudly to show her family the bounty of low-denomination bills? Whatever. I had my money.

The bus ride to Ennis reminded me of my last trip. I started out in the same place and then went on to the same town — Doolin. My Bus Eireann coach driver was like every other one I had ridden with. . . he hauled ass down the road like an insane man let loose from an asylum who just so happened to find an empty bus on the side of the road. These men are Ireland’s Indie 500; their feats impress me every time I join them for a nauseous, blurry trip around the Irish countryside.

Believe it or not, Ted was actually waiting for me at the bus stop. He came through. I was positive that he was not going to be there, that for some reason he was going to be held up – trampled by a horse, drunk in an alley, glory holing in a public bathroom somewhere – but he was at the bus stop waiting for me. I gave a smile and hugged him as the bus stop people looked on with those looks of bus stop dread. It was chilly out, we were in Ireland, and we hadn’t seen each other in a year or so. What a hell of a place to meet.

From Ennis, the plan was to head on to Doolin, since I was somewhat familiar with it and because it’s a nice base of operations for the Cliffs of Moher. Ted demanded to see the cliffs, but I had already been. “You don’t go to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower,” he told me in an e-mail. Later in the trip a savvy Irishman at a bed and breakfast stated that he “wouldn’t piss off of the Cliffs of Moher.” Word – although they’re awesome, that’s not what Ireland is about to me. You don’t go out of your way to gawk at one thing when the entire country is beautiful and there are so many other things to do. Still, I didn’t mind the idea of seeing Co. Clare again. You might as well see the Cliffs if the option is available.

Admittedly, I was a bitchass punk that first day. I was totally exhausted. I was hungry, cold, tired, and sort of depressed to be in a foreign country while feeling all of those things. When you feel that shitty, you want to be at home in your bed, not trying to find a bed half way around the world. We walked off the bus and stood around on the side of the road like lost children. It took me a few minutes to get my bearings. Doolin is literally a town of two streets and a harbor; it is not big by any means. The bus trundled off down the road behind us. I wondered what we looked like standing on the side of the road with our backpacks and raincoats on, confusion on our faces and guidebooks in our hands. Ted read off a list of places to stay. I had remembered from the first time I was in Doolin that the Aillie River Hostel had gotten some praise, but I really did not want to stay in a hostel for my first night in Ireland. I felt bad. I wanted to take a hot shower in privacy, leave my stuff without worrying about it, get drunk and then go to bed. Ted agreed but suggested we go check out the hostel anyway, so we went over and looked around. Some Swiss-German or other form of hot Eurogirl greeted us inside with a huge grin. Had I been alone, I would have mistaken her friendly smile for something more and then stayed there in one of the cramped rooms hoping to hit it off. I wasn’t alone, though, and the place didn’t look like anything special, so we continued to shop around. Hostelling could come later when we were low on cash. I worked my ass off for months to get to Ireland, so I figured I might as well enjoy it. It’s a vacation, not boot camp, I told myself.

Ted dispatched of my worries about having to stay in run down hostels for two straight weeks by offering to pay for nicer rooms with a credit card if I ran out of money. He said I could just pay him back later, which made me feel better. Always nice to travel with someone who has good credit. B&B’s sounded too high priced for our blood, like something newlyweds do, but we gave it a shot and we lucked out. We managed to find a house where a woman was offering 25 Euro per night, per person, including breakfast. Factoring in that Irish breakfasts are huge, you have your own shower, and you get a place to safely store your stuff, we decided it was a great deal – better than we found anywhere else in Ireland.

We went out for Guinness at McGann’s, a pub down the road, where some musicians were preparing to play. I’ve read that the further away you get from Dublin, the worse the Guinness tastes. I think I believe it…it’s phenomenal stuff, something to travel back for. Along with the music at the pub, we also got a singing rendition from some random pudgy American girl from Wisconsin, which made me feel sort of uncomfortable. This isn’t American God Damn Idol. There was an elderly Irish man sporting a fluffy white beard sitting at our table, and he turned to look at me as the girl sang. I raised my eyebrows in a form of apology. Sorry, we’re Americans, this is what we do. I didn’t want to make fun of the girl, after all, she had the guts to sing into a microphone in front of a bunch of drunkards, but her singing was bad and it was butchering the mood. The mood I speak of was a good one before the Wisconsin girl came into the scene, because a local had been putting on a show for everyone with her acoustic guitar. She had a great voice and ended up playing quite a few songs. I don’t think she was even being paid, unlike the two guys who gave up their seat for her. She finished up and then sat down at our table next to her dad, mentioning something about playing Beatles songs all night and being tired of performing. Ted then asked “Do you enjoy the Beatles?” to which she responded “Yes, I do.” I cringed and tried to think of something else to say. Ah, awkward talk. Never fails to move me. I didn’t really bother trying to communicate, because nobody would understand me anyway. I’m not one to raise my voice and pubs are not known to be quiet. In fact, I had a misunderstanding with the bargirl when trying to order food, so I came back empty handed. Ted, who had only eaten the scraps off of some soccer hooligan’s plate earlier in the day, was apparently ravenous, so he went up there himself and managed to get an order of toasteds for us, AKA grilled cheese sandwiches. We ate those, drank a lot of beer, got drunk rather easily, and then headed outside.

We decided it would be a great idea to walk (in pitch black) down to the light house that appeared to be miles from our location. We were about half of a mile out when I told Ted that I thought we might be run over by a car and that I thought the lighthouse was on one of the Aran Islands across the ocean anyway. If I remember, his sloppy response was that he wanted to “keep going,” because he wanted to “make a campfire on the beach.” I was against this because from what I knew, there was no beach and setting a fire on this beach, wherever it might be, didn’t seem like a good thing to do at this hour. Besides, as I quizzed him drunkenly, “Where would we get firewood?” Where, indeed. We made it back to town, only to see a car go speeding off down the direction we came from. What fun that would have been, fibulas and spleen all over the place. I’d had enough bad experiences with cars, thorns, explosive diarrhea and small country roads in Doolin, so I wasn’t interested in wandering around out in the dark.

That’s all I wrote. The rest of this will be continued on later when I’m motivated, which is probably going to be never. It also depends on if anyone actually bothered to read this entire thing.

War and Pancakes

August 4, 2005

I ate at a Denny’s yesterday. A Denny’s. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve made a pilgrimage to that beautiful place with its beautiful, laminated menus filled with beautiful, cholosterol-laden foods? Years.

Denny’s holds a special place in my heart because of the memories, and also because I’m fat. When I was young and was vacationing in Florida, Denny’s was always a stop, and it was always good. For $6 you can order more breakfast food than you know what to do with. You could make a family of Somalians asphyxiate on their own buttery pancake vomit and still have an omelet and hashbrowns left for yourself. And some toast. God damn Grand Slam brings a tear to my eye. I really wish there was a Denny’s in my town. I would eat there every day and become so morbidly obese that I would have to use a motor scooter to get there. I would wear Nike Pumps and jogging shorts along with a large mesh tank top and I would be feared by many a man.

Alas, that was mostly the highlight of that road trip, aside from seeing my relatives. Given you don’t have to drive, the occasional 6 hour journey can be a fun thing. You get to sit and listen to each of your CDs at least 5 times whereupon you get sick of them, your ass flattens completely, you doze off like a heroin addict and then wake up angry that you fell asleep, tell yourself it won’t happen again, then doze off again, etc. Ah, the road. It’s nice to get that out of your system every once and a while.

And now, completely unrelated to stuffing yourself like a pig bastard or road trips, here’s a neat military blog written by some guy named Michael Yon: http://www.michaelyon.blogspot.com/.

46 Marines have died in the past two weeks in Iraq, so there’s still plenty going on over there, for better or worse. This blog in particular interests me, because Mr. Yon tells you what it’s like to be a journalist/soldier on the ground in Iraq and you get your news from a reliable source instead of from some shitty reporter on TV. If you read his entry from today, August 4th ’05, you’ll find four pictures showing insurgents riding through a roadblock past US troops, US troops chasing and opening fire on the insurgents, and the insurgents’ vehicle plowing into a wall after it was riddled with bullets – all from 10 or so feet away. That Yon fellow seems to be right in the thick of it a lot of the time. Good on you, Yon, and the writing ain’t bad either.

And that brings me to that new TV show, Over There. I don’t really like it, and that’s coming from me, the big warmonger. I keep hearing about how “realistic” of a portrayal it is, and that makes me unhappy, because it’s anything but, from what I’ve seen. I don’t know any squad leader who would stand up and run at a fortified enemy position with only 10 or so men to support him while yelling things like, “We didn’t come here for your oil, we came here to kick your ass!” and shouting stuff to his squadmates like “Hey Angel, why don’t you sing us a song?” Why don’t you get off of my FX and give me some more King of the Hill or Rescue Me instead? Enough of that noise