Thursday, November 08, 2007

Best Spam Ever

So I'm checking the spam folder of my AOL account today and I discover this little gem:

FW: Satanic ecological VIAgRA $1.30

Satanic. Ecological. Viagra.

So, um, does this mean you're hard-on will be sustainable throughout the entire sacrifice of your neighbors cat?

This effing green trend is even taking over the Viagra spam market.

(BTW, I'm all for saving the earth. I'm just tired of hearing about everything being green. Spare me. Half the people preaching this crap could care less, they just heard about it on TV from some asshat like John Mayer.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gimme my CoCo

I cannot tell you how excited I am for this upcoming event. (Scroll'll see what I'm talking about.)

Ice-T's beautiful and talented wife CoCo will bring her (Well, I've never heard her speak, but I know she's gonna be a nautral) subtly nuanced acting abilities to a guest starring role on Law and Order: SVU.

That's right. Ice-T and CoCo. Together! On television and not just on my computer or in my dreams!

Do you think they would let me attend Thanksgiving at their house?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What goes on sometimes in my neighborhood

I like being able to walk out of my apartment building at 12:04 and still catch such chaos on film.
That's gotta be Schilling's ginger son.

No more helicopters

In about 25 minutes, I'll take my camera outside and photograph the masses coverged upon my neighborhood to see the Red Sox go by in duck boats. Yes, I'm a fan. I'm glad they won, although I am a bit saddened to see today's children grow up to only know a time where their sports teams dominated the field and there was little question over such domination. A person can't really live without experiencing a decent amount of pain and frankly, the same holds true for professional sports. It's safe to say in 20 years, teetering-on-adulthood Yankees fans will be more well adjusted and more able to adequately deal with heartache than their New England counterparts.

Child psychology aside, I really just want these damned helicopters to quit circling overhead. It's getting old. I suspect Oskar is losing his mind, judging from his behavior over the past week. Or maybe not. But I'm getting a bit tired of the constant background noise.

Boring blog post for a Tuesday morning. Because Tuesday is a rather dull day if you think about it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wanna write a convicted criminal?

I swear I've been productive today, but I did take a small break from productivity, watching a true crime show on A&E. Which led me to Crime Library. Which then led me to wondering about prison pen pals.

No. I do not want a prison pen pal, but I've always been curious about the people who seek out the incarcerated for online friendship. Born-again Christians intent on saving a soul or meeting like-minded individuals? Lonely women who would eagerly engage in coital activities with the Ted Bundys and Scott Petersons of the world?

So I began perusing some of these pen pal sites. There are quite a few of them out there. I wasn't so much looking for the profiles as I was sifting through the pages which lead to the actual profiles, for information about how they operate.

I then stumbled upon the most peculiar marketing photograph.

Just look at it. I imagine, judging by the model's attire, it's meant to suggest she is a prisoner longing for a pen pal. But wait. Is it the image of a woman who wants to write to an incarcerated man? She's in full make-up, her hair is styled and she dons semi-ornate earrings. Are the bars in the background to suggest she is in prison or do they serve as a simple metaphor for lonely women with a yen for dangerous men? Judging by the crude graphic design and model's appearance, it appears to have been created over a decade ago because brings to mind the opening credits for Saved By The Bell.

I just found this to be amusing. And now I'm wondering if it is stock photography found under the search term "prison" and the ilk. Who was the creative director on this shoot?

Why am I fascinated?

Ok. Must stop this inane curiosity. The productivity is slipping...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Even Oskar has had it with me

A red wine-induced hangover got Tuesday off to a less-than-auspicious start and things went downhill soon after I awoke. The laundry is still not done and my living room floor is covered in a massive pile of travel literature accumulated in Croatia.

Even Oskar has had enough of me. He no longer wants to sit in the same space, gazing up adoringly at me in between naps. He is hiding somewhere, my sweatpants and glasses-clad personage has become persona non grata in the scruffy orange commie cat's eyes.

He wants me to get a life. Perhaps then I can return to his good graces. But he best come around in the meantime. I'm the hand that feeds him.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Yo, asshat. Did you pass high school history?

<-- (I may be only 15, but I'm plump 'n' pure pirate booty in fetish boots)

As a person open to attending gatherings sometimes referred to as alternative by the general public, I have often wondered about the ye olde renaissance fair. This year, I was finally able to attend the King Richard's Faire in Carver, MA on its final day of the season.

Ok. Renaissance. That's French for rebirth. It refers to a period of time between the 14th and 17th centuries (or 1300–1600). It was a cultural rebirth following the middle or dark ages.

When I think Renaissance, I think, oh, Shakespeare. Some Michangelo. The last vestiges of knighthood, perhaps. A new beginning for philosophy after forced Christianity and stupidity. A rediscovery of things thought lost since the Greek and Roman empires.

I don't think PIRATES.

Pirates. Um, yeah. First off, popular culture does not depict the "golden era" of the pirate until extensive European exploration of the Caribbean. These pirates we tend to think of, in all their glory, really didn't come into their own until the early to mid 1700s.

That's not the effing Renaissance. So why the eff are you, an adult, running around a Renaissance fair in full pirate attire? Why is it I am forced to hear someone say ARRRR every 10 goddamn minutes?

Pirates, in the traditional sense, as perceived by popular culture or manufactured by Disney and Jerry effing Bruckheimer, that's something entirely different. I get that a vast number of men with nary a homosexual tendency what to speak of would drop the soap for Johnny Depp (or at least want to be him, whichever you prefer), and his Jack Sparrow character is today's ultimate personification of all things pirate.

I'm not saying pirates aren't cool, at least the romanticized concept of the pirate — whether Long John Silver or even Han Solo. (I also think there has always been piracy since the dawn of humanity, but whatever, such is not the point I am trying to make.)

But screw the ride at Disney. Forget the movie. Forget Johnny Depp. Forget all other pirate legends and lore. YOU WANT TO BE A GODDAMN PIRATE SO YOU CAN GO AROUND SAYING ARRR ALL THE GODDAMN TIME.

That's what makes you an asshat. Not only do you sound like an asshat, going around, saying ARRR all the goddamn time, you're dressed like a pirate at some silly little festival typically celebrating a period of time which ended at least 100 or more years before your idealized pirates commanded the seas. Therefore, you've proven you didn't learn the slightest thing in your high school western civilization class and get your history from Netflix. You're just looking for an excuse to dress like a goddamn pirate and say ARRR. You think you have some sort of pirate ancestry because you enjoy downloading your music from Limewire?

Do you think actual pirates in the 1700s went around saying things like ARRR? No, seriously, do you? The first documented incidence of any "pirate" saying ARRR was in the 1950 Disney film Treasure Island. (Again, Disney had something to do it...)

I think I should mention, however, that the organizers of King Richard's Faire do offer pirate shows. According to the schedule, Pirate 101 and Pirate 102 are offered in the kiddie area. Ok. So I get you're trying to make it all family friendly when you have a bunch of women offering up cleavage they really shouldn't be offering up outside of their completely darkened bedroom. I could point out your bastardizing history at a young age, but whatever. I guess children need something to do and obviously, everyone likes pirates. But can't you offer something like Plague 101 and teach about hygiene as to not repeat the mistakes of the dark ages (or perhaps just do your part in preventing more nasty little grubby children)? I don't know.

I get it. Renaissance fairs are not supposed to be historically accurate, educational events. They are pure entertainment, a reason for adults to dress up in random costumes of whatever age they choose. I didn't think I was going to learn anything upon attending this little festival.

Wait. I did learn something. People who walk around saying ARRRR all the goddamn time are asshats.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stupid Surveys

I used to sometimes like these things via email. Now they're always used in MySpace bulletins. I hate posting MySpace bulletins. But I figured, with my intentions of writing more on this damn thing...I would do a stupid bulletin.

How old will you be in 13 months?

Do you think you'll be married by then?

What do you look forward to most in the next 3 months?
I can't think of a thing. Let me get back to you.

Who was the last person to text you?
Aural Lice

Do you prefer call or text?

Do you have any pets?
Oskar! The scruffy orange commie cat with dog-like tendencies

What were you doing at 12 am last night?
Uh, sudoku and watching Degrassi: The Next Generation. Shoot me now.

Do you like carrots?
I am carrots.

When is the last time you saw your mom?
December 29, 2007

How many houses have you lived in?
10 (including apartments)

How many city/towns have you lived in?

Do you prefer shoes, socks, or bare feet?
Huh? Depends on what the eff I'm going to be walking on, you eff-nut.

Are you a social person?
I can be.

What was the last thing you ate?

What is your favorite color?

What are you doing for your next birthday?
I don't even know what I'm doing next week.

What is your favorite TV show?
Battlestar Galactica, South Park, Entourage, Flight of the Conchords, ANTM

What kind of jelly do you like on your PB & J sandwich?
Sometimes you feel like grape jelly. Sometimes you feel like strawberry jam.

Do you like coffee?
Sure. But I'll make sure to have someone slip a note in its locker during study hall to see if it likes me.

What are you listening to?
Relative silence peppered with white noise

Do you sleep on a certain side of the bed?

Do you know how to play poker?
Yes. But there are several forms of poker so I think this question has a much too general scope.

What are you thinking about right now?
Why am I doing to ridiculous survey?

Any plans for this weekend?
Cleaning. Laundry. Shoot me now.

Have you ever been in an ambulance?
Once. Valentine's Day 1998. Lake Ozark, MO. Very glamorous.

Do you prefer an ocean or pool?
One should not be made to choose.

Do you know how to drive a stick shift?
Bit rusty, so probably not anymore. But I'm a quick learner.

What is your favorite thing to spend money on?
Airfare. Clothing. Origami.

Do you wear any jewelry 24/7?
A pair of earrings and a ring. And often a necklace.

Who is the funniest person you know?
I tend to surround myself with funny people. Why choose?

Do you sleep with stuffed animals?
The Stay Puff Marshmellow man is technically not an animal, but a character. He hangs out, ok? I'm a grown woman. He doesn't travel with me, but he hangs out. Don't judge me, you sick honkey.

What is the main ring tone on your phone?
Call Me by Blondie

What is the color of your bedroom walls?
White. I rent.

Do you shut off the water while you brush your teeth?
Actually, I do. Or I try to because it saves X many gallons. Does this make me green?

Do you wish someone was with you right now?
I would like to shower first.

Are you mad about anything?
Mambo. Max.

Are you taken or single?
Why are you asking?

And another one for good measure...

Who was the last person you hung out with, actual one-on-one?

Do you think you're approachable?

How do you feel about the person you kissed last?
I did good.

Do you regret doing anything in the past several weeks?
Christ, no.

When was the last time you had alcohol?
Wednesday evening

Are you a partier?
When the mood strikes

What do you think of when you hear the word "slut"?
John Mayer

Do you have a dirty mind?
It's the one thing I refuse to clean up.

Would you ever work as a stripper if it were the only available job for you?
I suppose I have the skills, but I'm not a very good liar. Donning a polyester "evening gown" and
lapdances would probably get me fired on my first night out.

Have you been pressured to do anything recently?
Pressuing. How all after school specials begin.

Who's the sweetest person you know right now?

Do you know anyone with a serious illness?
I know a few people with serious mental problems.

Do you like your name?

Is anyone interested in you right now?
Who knows

Who is the 5th text in your inbox from?

What's your favorite number?

Would you ever cross-dress?
According to those in the Pentecostal faith, I already do.

Do you have a Facebook?

Do you hate anyone?
Don't be a hater

When was the last time you went to the movies?
A month ago, to review some crap called The Brothers Solomon

Are you a good speller?

What's your worst habit?
I don't need to make a list

Are you listening to any music? What song?

Would you ever give your number out over the Internet?

What's your shoe size?
7–8 in US sizes

Do you still talk to the person you last had a thing with?
That's a complicated question

Do you love someone?
My black heart is overflowing with love

Have you ever lost the person you loved?
Huh? Another much too general question.

What would you do if you found out your ex is engaged?
Which ex?

Would you ever cheat on your bf/gf with a really hot guy/girl?
I'll decide should I ever get myself in such a situation

Would you rather feel pain or be numb?

Do you like competition?
Depends on the game

Would you ever stay with someone, just because you didn't want to break their heart?

Have you ever taken anyone/anything for granted?

Do you hate being alone?
Everyone needs to be alone sometimes

Has anyone ever broken your heart?

Last time you went swimming in a pool?
A little over a week ago in Dubrovnik

Where was the last place you went shopping?

How do you feel about your hair?
That I want to know what its feeling.

Christ, I feel so gay right now. I just remembered why I never do these things.

Jesus Built My T-Shirt

Christian clothing fascinates me for some reason, typically pentecostal, ankle-length skirts paired with high-collared blouses, that sort of thing. But it can extend further than the obvious, especially as this emerging subculture of Christian hipsters appear to be exposing themselves outside the confines of acoustic youth ministry rock bands.

Do you call them Chipsters?

Call me a heathen, but I didn't understand some of the designs. Maybe I didn't look closely enough, but this Jesus Branded line is just um, I guess its sort of like those guys I went to high school with who sported pothead attire with floppy hair and chonging wood crosses around their necks. You always scratched your head when you saw them, because they seemed to be stoned. Or were they just high on Christ...I suppose I will never ever know. And I'm okay with that.

Friday, October 19, 2007

In hip hop, this is called a shout out

You may notice some design / template changes and some adds to my links sections. The template change is just an experiment, but I wanted to add some great new people / sites to my random links list.

In any case, if you feel my opinion has any sort of worth whatsoever, I'm gonna direct you to checking these out whenever you have a chance.

Adventure Girl — This is an amazing new friend of mine from LA, Stefanie Michaels. We traveled through Croatia together as part of the press tour. She's smart and gorgeous and funny and has done all sorts of incredible things (for instance, she MUSHED in the Iditarod. Mushing has been a long-time dream of mine). Stefanie and I went off on our own a couple of times during our trip to do more adventurous activities. We also had a knack for stumbling into unbelievable jewelry stores and blowing cash we should not have been spending.

Aural Lice — Aural Lice and I have been close friends for over a year now. When we were first introduced by a mutual friend, I was excited because I needed to do a profile on someone "interesting" for a feature writing class I was taking. I discovered Aural Lice loves audio in ways extending far beyond enjoying the ability to hear sounds. For instance, he's saved every voice mail he's received for the last eight years. So I'm REALLY excited AL is back to getting creative these days because he's one of the most visionary people I've ever met. His blog and podcasts chronicle a lot of the bizarre things people discuss on a daily basis. And yes, he tapes people with their knowledge so there's no Linda Tripp action going on. Keep checking, because he has some upcoming posts that are absolutely amazing. You will definitely want to subscribe to his podcast.

On The Globe — This is a longtime travel website written by Andrew Princz. Princz was also on my press tour of Croatia. He recently moved back to Montreal after spending the last eight years in Budapest. He was also an author for the Frommer's Budapest and the Best of Hungary guidebook, as well as contributed to the Wall Street Journal's international edition. He's a great writer and talented guy. I also like to refer to him as The Cleaner, because he just reminds me of the guy you call in after a botched hit job (e.g., La Femme Nikita, Pulp Fiction).

Kling Bags — My cousin, Natasha, makes these incredible handbags out of vinyl and duct tape. Check out her goods, they're quite extraordinary. If you're like me and would rather carry something original than a big designer label, this is definitely up your alley.

Home Sickeningly Sweet Home

A mere week ago, I was having a perfectly nice time in Zagreb, stopping over to visit friends at the conclusion of a week-long press tour of the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia. I was constantly referred to as an American Journalist, which made me sound semi-cool and as if I had unlimited job prospects.

A week later, here I sit on my computer, in my apartment, sometimes gazing at my scruffy orange commie cat, Oskar. My time is now spent going through general bouts of wanting to slam my head against the wall, perusing photos of both my time in Croatia and the previous week in Oregon wine country, sobbing internally with each phone call or email query I make regarding any open copywriting positions, and slapping myself for feeling like an ungrateful asshat after I've just spent two weeks seeing some of the most beautiful places and things a person could imagine.

The life of a copywriter / travel journalist should be a bit more glamorous, right? To go from getting a nightly knock on my hotel room door asking if I want chocolate to wondering if any educated 30-year-old woman should be contemplating ramen for dinner and if anyone will ever hire me is sick & twisted. Especially in the span of days. While I was prepared for this to happen, it was easy to put it out of my mind while I was getting fed copious amounts of homemade chardonnay in a tiny bar in Korcula while singing along to Guantanamera with the bar owner and two bike tour guides. It was easy to put these frightening thoughts aside when I was driving an ATV through the hills in Trogir, surrounded on each side by the Adriatic. It was easy to forget I had no real job to return to while I was walking the wall in Dubrovnik.

But all good things have to come to an end. And reality is always right there where we left it.

It's a cruel world. Wait. Allow me to amend. It's a beautiful cruel world.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Random thought of the day

Why to kids with bowl-shaped haircuts only appear in tv and movies? Especially in films with single parents. Bowl-shaped haircuts look ridiculous on anyone and it makes children look completely stupid. Because in real life, if your kid went to school with a bowl-shaped haircut, they would live a life of misery and ridicule.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Tween Culture is Scary

I have no idea what High School Musical is, except that I often wondered what it was whenever I saw it as the number one most downloaded album on iTunes last summer. However, I have now only recently discovered it was a popular Disney Channel movie because even the curiosity of wondering what it was last summer and why I kept seeing the title everywhere did not make me actively seek out such knowledge. (I really need to call my nieces about this, because I have a feeling at least one of them could recite the film's entire script even if it stars neither Orlando Bloom nor Dakota Eff-ing Fanning.)

Anyway, I guess there is a sequel to this supposed cultural phenomenon. And I guess the male lead is some sort of teenaged sex symbol? Huh? He looks like Clay Aiken. His name is Zac Efron. I recognized him from some of those gossip sites I sometimes peruse . He is one of the people I scroll past really quickly because I have no idea who he is or what he does. And I don't like his eyes.

So this got me thinking about "teen hearthrobs". Now I was never into New Kids on the Block, nor did I watch Beverly Hills 90210. When I was 13, my celebrity crush was Alec Baldwin. I made fun of Kirk Cameron before he became Jesus Christ's biggest groupie. I've never been one for overtly pretty boys, even as a child.
My current knowledge of teen pop culture only extends itself to Canada's prized export, Degrassi: The Next Generation, which I have faithfully watched since 2003. I cannot tell you why I enjoy Canadian adolescent melodrama, but I do, even through several cast changes. Since last season, there has been a main character named Peter who embodies the ultra-Aryan look I have typically only witnessed in a handful of Brazilian young men who also have Italian citizenship because that's where their grandfather was from. Peter is a petulant brat whose mother is the school principal. He is portrayed by a kid named Jamie Johnston.

(I just looked this up, too, which says a lot about how much this kid irritates me because I typically remember useless information about show credits without my knowledge. This can sometimes be useful in the scheme of things, as I discovered in Prague when I planned my exodus with an actor whose name I remembered from the credits of a recent Law & Order episode.)

Jamie Johnston is a terrible actor and while I typically ignore him while watching the show, I felt myself unavoidably creeped out by him during the season finale. Those creepy eff-ing big blue eyes. I can't explain it, but that look just skeeves me out. It made my skin crawl, to be honest, and I was forced to send a text to my good friend Adam (a fellow Degrassi fan) about this while watching. Of course, I forgot about being skeeved out within a few minutes after the show's conclusion, so no harm done, I suppose. I get skeeved out at least once a week in my neighborhood 7-11. You can't let these things control your life.

But I started thinking about this kid after reading the aforementioned article in the New York Times on High School Musical. Because I was forced to learn who Zac Efron is and why he is, in some circles, famous. I realized that there are pre-teen (er, tween) girls from Toronto to Tennessee wallpapering their rooms with these guys' photos. And this scared me. Perhaps because I have nieces and a nephew hovering in these age brackets. Particularly my nieces. Do I want them to grow up thinking wide-eyed pretty boys with strategically mussed hair are the way to go? It's not so much that I have never been into this particular look in men, but maybe more so that when I see such boys with such cartoonish features (Neither Efron nor Johnston look entirely unlike characters found in Anime), I automatically think "future date rapist" much more so than "closet case"? Or maybe this look has long been appealing to young girls, and I am now just so far removed from those years of my life, I don't actively recall such information?

I'm not quite sure what the answer is and hopefully, this is the last I will ever think about such nonsense.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Jesus would shop here

I had forgotten about this incredible online find until a friend sent me a link for Wholesome Wear .(A "swimwear" company which claims to be the only swimwear retailer that designs to draw attention to your face. I wonder if anyone has drown while wearing such wholesome ensembles to the beach.)

But this is not only one of the greatest web retailers I have ever stumbled upon, but it also has the most RIDICULOUS url in, quite possibly, the history of the Internet.

The site even includes a Statement of Modesty, pledging to uphold the standards of good old J.C. and those necessary morals.

For this reason we DO NOT sew: sleeveless, slit skirts, mid-rifts, low cut neck lines, or low backs. We apologize if this offends anyone but our goal is to help both ladies and men keep from inciting lasciviousness (wrong lusts). We view this as a sewing ministry and only want to plant good seeds.
Explore this beautiful thing. Touch it. Love it. And if you've ever had a thing for modestly-clad chicks holding a metal pail while hanging with their horse, look no further.

Friday, August 03, 2007

You should do this

Random thought for Friday morning:

This weekend, you should go see The Bourne Ultimatum. Because I say so. Plus, its just really effing good. I saw it on Tuesday because I'm cool (Actually, I just have cool friends). And now I must go to Tangier.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday's Conscientious Writing Effort

I should try and write something everyday, regardless of how mundane or inconsequential to anyone or myself. A close friend told me I should do this, even when I do not feel like writing anything at all.

I need a break from looking at this work garbage. Let's play the tired "shuffle songs" game on the iPod.

1) Always — Erasure
I have had a soft spot for the very gay British duo since 1992's Abba-esque. This song is making me sad. The Abba-esque CD is in some unknown place, somewhere in my parents' house. (My mother did something with the big book of CDs I had been accumulating since I was 10 when they remodeled/cleaned after I moved away. Its been 6–7 years now. I still have hope.)

2) Just Can't Get Enough (Schizo Mix) — Depeche Mode
I guess I have a thing for Asexual Brit Pop from the early 80s. Isn't that the same as New Wave...sort of? But this song sort of bothers me. Too bouncy. You have to be in the mood for something so bouncy. While the "Schizo Mix" gives the song more of a multi-layered fluency in the middle, it's still too bouncy for me. At least right now. I've had enough.

3) Hung Up — Madonna
Is Madonna still culturally relevant? Does it even matter? I don't think there is a person on the planet who doesn't like at least one Madonna song. I've enjoyed a lot of her electro stuff, but her first foray into that realm, Ray of Light, is by far the finest. I think her music from the early to mid-90s is terrible, with the exception of Justify My Love. I find Vogue bland and This Used To Be Our Playground is one of the most grating and uninspiring ballads I have ever heard.

(Does this fit into the British Electro Pop category since she sometimes talks with that British accent? Nah.)

4) As You Are — Travis
Scottish band. Non-electro. Some people refer to them as "Radiohead Lite". I love them and own every album. I am furious I did not get tickets for last week's show at the Pavillion. They haven't toured the U.S. since 2001, a double-ticket with Dido. This song is from The Man Who, which is known in these parts for the single Why Does It Always Rain On Me? Travis never took off in this country like they did in the UK, but I'm okay with that. Because I can still buy their albums. While doing a live radio show, they ended up performing this amazing cover of Britney Spears' Baby One More Time which was later released on a B-side. It's awesome and I say this without the slightest hint of irony.

5) Around The Way Girl — LL Cool J
Ok. Who doesn't love cool James? Exactly. Besides smooth rhymes, that man has amazing abs, too. Did you see him do sit-ups on Conan O'Brien back while promoting S.W.A.T. in the summer of 2003? Probably not. I have no idea why I thought of that. But it was amusing, Conan and LL, doing sit-ups.

6) Nancy (With the Laughing Face) — John Coltrane Quartet
I have been into John Coltrane since 8th grade. I was babysitting for this yuppie family and they had the Giant Steps CD. I played it after the kids went to sleep one night and was hooked. I then went out and bought a few jazz CDs at Best Buy. The only reason I enjoyed babysitting for this family was because I loved their house. I wish they would have let me borrow their VHS of Blue Velvet, though. They wanted parental permission. Hey, I was totally curious about David Lynch at age 13. I swear (Duh. I liked Twin Peaks.)

7) Song For The Lonely — Cher
Shut up. I love Cher. Not all of her songs, but I love the woman. You think Madonna is ever going to win a Best Actress Oscar? Doubt it. This woman was hawking crap on QVC without any shame and dating men 20 years her junior before it was the "cool" thing to do. I'm still sort of bummed I missed her farewell tour, even though it came to this area about 15 times. There's always Vegas.

8) Joey (Acoustic) — Concrete Blonde
I love this song. An all-time favorite, yet I cannot remember when I first fell in love with it because it was so long ago. I downloaded the acoustic version last summer because I was listening to the original so much. The lyrics and Johnette Napolitano's vocals are amazing ("Because if you're somewhere drunk and passed out on the floor..." and so on).

9) Somewhere Else — Travis
More Travis. From the 12 Memories album.

10) Sublime — Supreme Beings of Leisure
Their self-titled album is from 2000 and its sort of that ambient mellow lounge sound. I bought it after hearing Strange Love Addiction, the first song (and strongest) off the album. Wow. Upon looking them up on Wikipedia, I discovered that they wrote the theme song for Frontline / World.

11) Pueblo Nuevo — Buena Vista Social Club
Great documentary. Great soundtrack.

12) The New Year — Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab is the musical equivilent of a Slurpee. When you get in that particular mood, you have to have one and you will accept no substitutions. And then buy the really big one because you have to have it. Then you just end up with a brain freeze but you rationalize it somehow and continue to drink the Slurpee. What I'm trying to say is that a person often to listens to Death Cab when they're in a crap mood because they just want to lay there and be in that crap mood. Misery's first love isn't company. It's music.

13) I Do — Jude
This guy is to kind-of-attractive-guitar-driven songwriter-dude-who-writes-music-chicks-dig as Jon Secada was too 1999's Latino invasion. Both were just a few years too early. All those lame John Mayers and James Blunts and similar honkies took the same thing a few years later and made it more palapable for adult contemporary stations. This song is kind of sad, all about a guy who gets a wedding invitation from his long-lost love. I'll admit. The first time I heard it was on Dawson's Creek. Anyway, he's got a few decent tracks off that album. And he's not John Mayer. And if most people have anything at all going for them, its that they're not John Mayer.

14) There'll Be Another Spring — Dianna Reeves
From the Good Night and Good Luck soundtrack. She has a lovely voice and the soundtrack is relatively enjoyable, but I've never been one for a lot of vocal jazz. So I can never listen to the album as a whole.

15) Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall — Dianna Reeves
Spring. Rain. Stop it, damn you. Stop it. I think my iPod wants me to listen to this album more. Whatever. I'll thwart your plans, iPod, because I have the power. Next.

16) Fire & Rain — Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
This band does punk versions of classic songs. For some reason, I love them because they're just fun. Simple as that. We used to listen to this album when I worked at a store/tattoo & piercing parlor back in college. Spider, the resident tattoo artist, got me into this group. Spider wore all black and only drank Yeagermeister. You, too, would do that if your real name was Lyle.

17) We Looked Like Giants — Death Cab For Cutie
No, Death Cab. I am not going downstairs to get that Slurpee. Not today. Not now. But your guitar strains are reeling me in. And the sky is grey...

18) Who's That Man — Toby Keith
Random, right? Yeah, this song is from 1994. Maggie liked this song. I think it was during her country phase. She may have had a hat. While we fully understood it was a sad song about divorce, for some reason, we got a kick out of it. While driving around and singing it. Hey, come on. I was a senior in high school. Not all country is bad. I don't know that many songs, but I know the lyrics of the ones I do enjoy.

19) Denis — Blondie
I love Blondie. Plus, I can sometimes sing One Way Or Another and it doesn't sound too terrible. There are only a few songs I can sing and not offend the greater population. This song is kind of fun, a throwback to early 60s girlsounds, but you know, done by Blondie.

20) Some Unholy War — Amy Winehouse
I love Amy Winehouse. Saw her live back in May. Amazing.

I'm now bored with this exercise and have to get back to work. Hey, I wrote something "creative" today. Mission accomplished.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Typing is to easy, but that's the way it is

So here's the story from A to Z...

I want to say it was a morbid curiosity which forced me to turn on NBC's Victoria Beckham: Coming To America. But it was more that I was curious about her speaking voice. Sure, back in 1997, I owned the Spice Girls CD. But I don't think I could distinguish between Posh, Scary, Sporty, Ginger or Baby even after listening to Wannabe 100 more times. I've seen numerous pictures of Posh Spice, but I wasn't sure if she spoke. For all I know, removing one's vocal cords is akin to that urban legend of removing one's ribs in order to have a small waist.

(On a side note, I've never quite understood the whole "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends" lyric. Now in college, there was some overlapping as the years went on, yet you never made it "forever" let alone 2 weeks with one of those. Maybe they meant that you just had to like their friends? I'm not sure. But it is a catchy song. And I still talk to all my close college friends, so maybe friendship never ends? And the Spice Girls are doing that whole reunion tour now. Oh, I don't know...)

I turned on the show late, when Ms. Beckham was attempting to drive and get her license at the Los Angeles DMV. Her handlers did her makeup for the photo. She asked if they did retouching. Cut to the commercial break. I want this woman dead.

I continued watching and I have so say that she doesn't look as scary as she does in photos. The situations she entered were completely staged and contrived, and I still think evading the "dreaded paparazzi" could be much easier than some elaborate plot involving a blow-up doll. (Couldn't one get a room at a hotel, put on a modest disguise and then leave without anyone following? I would hope this would even be possible at the Chateau Marmont, but I have not been to L.A. since 1999.)

I decided it wasn't so much Victoria Beckham that frightened me by the end of the show, but more so the feracity in which photographers seem to be everywhere in L.A. I have close friends living there and they sometimes talk about being places where the paparazzi is staked out, but I began thinking about how anyone with a decent SLR can seemingly metastisize a career out of such a thing. And how a continuous regimen of plastic surgery will inevitably lead to L.A. becoming a virtual zombie state, if the Beverly Hills Socialites are any indication (For some reason, I found Posh Spice almost charming during this scenario, as it reminded me of those orientations for college or grad school and how you spend the day with the first people you meet, who will most likely become the people you despise more than anything by the time you graduate. But mainly I wanted to know where one gets an oil painting of George Clooney circa the between Facts of Life and Roseanne era).

Don't worry. I'm not a fan. I'm sure she's already taking Scientology courses. And I could ramble on and on about the decline of journalism and how celebrities are covered more than real news, how this is just another sign of a cultural apocalypse, blah blah blah. But its Monday and I don't feel like it at the moment.

Now this Age of Love show is on. Back in 1997, I thought Mark Phillipousous was hot. At that time, he clocked the fastest serve on record. I suppose he still is someone I wouldn't exactly deny, but the idea of this show disgusts me. For starters, any Bachelor-esque show is despicable and always will be. I find it amusing how these women get so broken up over discovering the guy that they, and 10-20 other women are "dating", may have screwed around with one or every other one. Hello? Why wouldn't you? Its the closest most men come to having their very own harem. You take advantage of it. I've seen some men do wonders with less and nary a rose to hand out.

I'm actually not watching the show. I'm typing. It's on in the background. I'm just wondering that about the whole premise. If women in their 20s are "kittens", and the around-40-year-olds are "cougars", at 30, what does that make me? Am I simply a cat? Would I eat the Indoor Formula Iams for adult cats — as opposed to the bag of kitten chow providing extra nutrients for growing felines or the mature cat formula, which prevents against bone density loss?

Oh, I don't feel like thinking about such nonsense anymore. I'm going to go finish my book. And listen to Oasis or the Verve Pipe, or maybe the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack. Things were a lot simpler when I was 20. And I know no one is picking me up for Monday night's $1 Rolling Rock and Ouzo shots at George's in a few minutes. (BTW, I never liked Rolling Rock, but the Ouzo would go down a few times by 12:45am.) But that's fine.

I would rather be a cat than a kitten. But I still really wanna zigazig ahhhhh.

Happy Monday

Its Monday and I'm in a semi-foul mood.

Here are some things you shouldn't be paying attention to while wasting time at work today:

Why is this "celebrity wedding" news? I would rather sit next to "Lard Ass" at that pie-eating contest than attend (or even) read about these nuptials.

Definition of irony. You know you don't want to admit it, and you feel bad doing it, but you read this article and sort of snickered to yourself. More of a snicker than a giggle. And you only did it once.

While that whole never-ending Iraq / Middle East debacle rages on, the U.S. has also managed to pretty much screw things up with Russia. Remember them? They're that really big country responsible for a bunch of dominating pairs figure skaters, Victoria's Secret models, mediocre tennis-playing blond sexpots and vodka. They also still have all those bombs that whole "Cold War" thing.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Look @ My Photos

I know. I suck and don't write very often. And when I do write, I promise I'm going to write more and it never happens.

But I am alive...and I have been taking pictures. Check them out.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


One of my dearest friends, Katelyn (aka KB), has a charming and alluring younger brother named Manzo. Manzo's biggest dream is to be on VH1's I Love New York 2.

Within the next 12 days, he needs to make the Top 5 to make the show. PLEASE vote for
Manzo every single day and make this young man from Philly's dream come true. He just wants to love this gal.

You can't not want to help this kid's dream come true after seeing his heartfelt video.

This is news?

Ah, the Boston media does it again. For the last several days, the city has responded in outrage and horror after the publication of one shocking & disturbing photo.
Yes, close your eyes. Patriots’ Quarterback Tom Brady is strolling the streets of Manhattan with his Brazilian supermodel girlfriend…wearing a Yankees hat.
The last time I checked, Tom Brady played for the Patriots. A football team. Football & baseball are two different sports played in two different seasons. But the city is reeling in horror because Tom Brady is not wearing a Red Sox hat.

I remember the last time a picture like this emerged, back during the 2004 playoffs. Seems one of the Northern California-bred Brady’s good friends from his NCAA days in Michigan plays for the boys in pinstripes. That bastion of journalistic excellence, the Boston Herald, warned Brady that one should not wear a Yankees during “high season” in these parts.

Over two years later, he’s done it again. Who the hell cares? I certainly don’t — and I don’t even like Tom Brady. We’re the same age, Brady and I, and while I can admit he is attractive in that All-American quarterback kind of way, every time I look at him, I am taken back to the mid-90s. He’s the kind of hot football star in your AP History class who you might have a pleasant if tipsy five-minute conversation with at some parents-are-out-of-town party because you’re sharing a joint with his not-going-to-play-collegiate-sports, weed-smoking buddies. And for those pleasant if tipsy five minutes, you briefly entertain the thought of going on a date with this guy, riding with the windows down in his slightly-used GMC Jimmy as Blues Traveler plays on the car stereo. But then you snap back to reality because you know the teenage caste system was pre-determined by the second week of 7th grade, and gals like you, the ones that resisted the Rachel haircut and never even tried out for any sort of cheerleading squad, just don’t get that sort of dating option. You know on Monday, he’s not going to recall your pleasant if tipsy conversation when you get to AP History. He will take his seat next to the short obnoxious kid who is his good friend only because he was grandfathered into that particular crowd because he had two soccer star brothers who went on to Princeton, and they will laugh at the short obnoxious kid’s jokes which are loud yet never funny.

Honestly, I do not suffer from any high school caste system scars, but there are some truths that remain universal. Perhaps it is because we are the same age, but every time I see Tom Brady, this is my association. Wait. I will amend that statement. Brady does get props for the Digital Short he did while hosting SNL last year. It’s all about sexual harassment in the workplace and it too provides another universal truth which people never want to admit.

Maybe I don’t think it’s a big deal that Tom Brady was wearing a Yankees hat because I, too, am not originally from this area. I’m from St. Louis, where our baseball fanaticism runs as deep or deeper than that of Red Sox fans. Sure, I can finally admit that in 2004, I really did want the Red Sox to win. I was conflicted about my devotion, yes, but you couldn’t not want the Sox to win after watching the incredible comeback against the Yankees in the ALCS. I also knew the Cards would win it within the next couple of years and the Sox would possibly have to wait another 76, so hey, my rationale makes perfect sense. And for all the fanaticism that runs rampant in St. Louis, I can never recall a situation where a Blues or Rams star player was publicly chastised for his support of another city’s baseball team.

I don’t understand why Sox fans expect a player from another team in another sport, one that doesn’t even make Boston his off-season home, to be a die-hard fan. It’s stupid, yes, but the truly annoying thing about the “situation” is the media’s eagerness to cover it. They’re the ones that created this nonsense, and I understand it even less than I do the need for St. Louis sports fans to wear cheap plastic beads for any home game (and "rally", parade, open-air mass gathering and apparently whenever anyone wants to sit down and take a crap) when it is not Mardi Gras and New Orleans is a 14-hour drive south.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

best quote of the day

Overheard while sitting outside:

"You probably saw my brother-in-law the news. He stabbed his cousin right after Christmas."

I heard the rest of the story, too. I guess the family has foregiven him. And he got manslaughter 2.

Civic duty continued

Still sitting. Tired of reading. Also did Globe crossword. Impressed by depth of makeshift snack hut in hallway, even though I didn't order anything. Took 3 minutes to get stench of cheap perfume out of nose after walking by offending woman on way to restroom. I also need a nail file bc I tend to destroy my nails & cuticles while bored & sitting.

Another break. They have 5 more sessions left to fill. I'm not leaving.

Blogging via CrackBerry

The gig is up. After going nearly 12 long years, I have finally been called for jury duty. Its nice to see that my peers are such a wrecked bunch. I would take pictures if I could, but that seems a bit unethical. Perhaps they're pissed about being here, too. No one wants to do jury duty. I can't tell if I am as wrecked as the motley crew or just groggy from the bottle of Bogle syrah & 7 clove cigarettes.

Oooh. We are now watching a video narrated by some dignified female judge with one of those regional accents that's somewhere between Conneticut & Kennedy. I'm surprised they don't have Sam waterston doing these across the country. Maybe on a federal level? It would fit, honestly, especially since this whole process is beginning to remind me of waiting in line at EPCOT. You wait in line. You watch a video with some random personality, be it Gary Sinese or Steven Tyler. So far, its kind of like that except not as visually stimulating & I'm pretty sure no ride is awaiting me in the next room.

If they pick me, can I run for foreperson? Do they really have to explain what a trial is? If I was on trial, I wouldn't want anyone on my jury who just learned what a trial was in the pre-selection video.

I am babbling on about absolutely nothing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Open Letter to the British

More than anything, the British fascination with crap escapes me, not because it’s complete crap but because it makes absolutely no sense. You’re British. I expect MORE of you. You’re more cultured than us. You’re smarter. You have better fashion sense and let’s face it, the dollar is so not the leading currency in the world (Just over $2 = 1 British Pound) these days. You have Amy Winehouse. We have Jessica Simpson. You have Robbie Williams. We have Justin Timberlake (well, we got you beat on that one). You gave us Ab Fab. We gave you Madonna past her prime. Your game shows are infinitely more interesting, as your version of Wheel of Fortune was the only time I was able to sit through an entire episode. Your models, like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell provide interesting news copy. Tyra Banks makes headlines when caught eating a doughnut.

Your high-level government sex scandals are the stuff legends are made of. The best we have done involves cigars, PG-13 instant messages and a boat called the “Monkey Business”.

However, in this celebrity-obsessed world we currently live in, I will give us some credit where credit is due.

In the U.S., we at least have the good sense to send reality TV sensations back to where they belong after the show’s finale. We don’t allow them to put signature fragrances on the shelves of Selfridge’s after they rolled around in pig slop on national television. They move to L.A. for awhile, maybe end up on a couple of VH1 or MTV vehicles, and inevitably end up going home to wherever they came from if they don’t get hired by the TV Guide Channel for temporary work.

I was over there at the beginning and end of your Celebrity Big Brother. I even watched the finale. I was thinking that you guys learned something because your beloved
Jade Goody and her signature fragrance were over with once she called Shilpa Shetty “Shilpa Poppadum”. You just can’t give these reality TV stars any real sort of fame (However, Shilpa is a real find and very big back in Bollywood. You should keep her around. Does she have her own fragrance yet?).

I know that you like to make bigger celebrities out of has-beens and G-listers, too. While watching the CBB finale, I did forget about Dirk Benedict’s tantrum regarding Starbuck being cast as a woman in the (vastly superior) modern update of Battlestar Galactica. Jermaine Jackson, you and all your I-read-Buddhism-For-Dummies wisdom was sort of endearing, too, and I didn’t think about the fact your created-in-a-test-tube-and-medical-assistant nieces & nephews are one day going to write books that make Christina Crawford’s Mommie Dearest look like a novel by Nicholas Sparks. Come on, you guys stick this stuff on BBC. We stick it on VH1. You’re a smaller country. Me, for one, would prefer watching Verne Troyer get bombed and then piss on a wall but the American public seems to prefer situation comedies starring Jon Cryer (Duckie!) and Charlie Sheen. I get your fascination with B-list voyeurism more than I do semi-wholesome one-liners recited by Heidi Fleiss’s most valued customer.

You British, you’re sneaky. I know we brought you into this whole Iraq thing. I’m really sorry. It’s not my fault. I’m sure Prince Harry will be fine (Plus, anyone who knows anything about your country knows that you couldn’t give a crap about the royal family.), however, you stuck us with Posh & Becks. Oh, not that the second Vietnam and football trash even compare, but they both are blatant symbols of the Western economic powers’ inherent need to show off the size of their cojones. People think the Beckhams are cool in your country, too. I know better. You were glad to be rid of them. Of course, not only do they come here and take up space in our celebrity gossip rags, they have become the BFF to TomKat, our most obnoxious celebrity couple in the history of scones. At first I thought Posh only had that copy of Dianetics because she was hungry and the pages have fairly few calories, but now I think she’s reading it. I hear they’re going to get their own reality TV show on NBC, too. I guess TomKat didn’t warn them that in this country, reality TV does not earn you the sort of A-list status as it does in the UK. Oh, and you think they’re gonna show up on your show to boost ratings? Probably only if you show the four of you going the Celebrity Centre for a little auditing, but you know that closeted mo-fo ain’t going to let cameras capture you and his faux wife shopping at Barney’s b/c you and your show are small screen.

You gave us Heather Mills. We didn’t embrace her — Vegas oddsmakers began taking money on the how good the chances are that her prosthetic leg will go flying while ballroom dancing. We give you David Gest (he couldn’t even make VH1 after Liza kicked him to the curb like an empty bottle of gin) and you guys adore him. We get Robin Leach and make him the poor man’s Reege.

I love the irony of it all. We give you crap and you turn it into your gold. For some reason, our not-even-on-the-list celebrities land at Heathrow and their dollar value actually increases. Your semi-famous types come here and are lucky if they make it on Perez Hilton because of their bra size or drunken antics. I don’t know about the Beckhams yet, but I bet you 20 quid that Posh is going to be hawking her fashions on QVC within 2 years. Of course, I’m sure she will come crawling back to your side of the pond once her sales are outdone by those Marie Osmond dolls. And you, Great Britain, will certainly have a place for her on Celebrity Big Brother.

Cheers, M

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Summing it all up a month & a half later...

It was a bit difficult to make proper blog posts once I left Prague, so I'll sum up a bit of my trip before posting on anything else. Since I promised to do so. (It's a good thing I don't necessarily believe in promises.) Obviously, I will probably get a bit more verbose as I get into it, so just try and keep up.

First Detour in Austria (Vienna)
Recommendation: Go to Prague for 2-3 days. If you're there for a 4th day, you will want to get the hell out of there at some point, even if it means slitting your wrists. Perhaps that is too extreme, but even when I ended up at the wrong train station in an effort to get to Ljubjana (Slovenia), I still took a train to Vienna, just to get the hell out of there. Unfortunately, mine was the last train that night and I would not be able to get to Slovenia until morning. Finally found a hostel after roaming the red light district. I slept for a few hours. I showered. I took some pictures on my way back to the Sudbahnof. Had no idea Vienna was so big. Already a bit sick of hearing Mozart.

The train ride from Vienna to Ljubjana was beautiful, just as one would picture the European countryside. The hills. They were totally alive. Since I got into Ljubjana in the evening, I decided to stay the night and depart for Rijeka the following day.

Stayed at the Hostel Celica, the "hippest hostel in the world" according to Lonely Planet. Very cool and incredibly nice. It's a coverted former military jail. There is a nice bar and restaurant, plus an art gallery. Went downstairs for dinner and had some dark beer. Met some Slovenes. They go there because it is supposedly one of the few places in town with dark beer. Hung out. Learned about why the E.U. isn't that great an idea and that people actually do miss socialism (they don't like us to know these things in the U.S.). Still don't understand why an unofficial national anthem of sorts is a remixed, electro version of John Denver's Country Roads (in Slovenia, not just like in Prague where they played it in English).

Next day, roamed around the city with Tim, a guy in my room who had just been through Serbia and Croatia. Ljubjana is an incredibly beautiful city, with a laid-back & youthful vibe that was much needed after those few days in Prague. The river that runs through the city center is one of the most exquisite shades of green I have ever seen. Prices are still inexpensive and they have perhaps one of the most beautiful markets of fresh food I have ever seen. Most Americans have no idea what, let alone where, Ljubjana is located. Perhaps that is a good thing, but I have definitely been recommending this city to everyone I met while traveling and since I've been back.

Rijeka, Croatia
I arrive in Rijeka, the third largest city in Croatia, following a 2.5 hour train ride. I go to the only hostel in town via a bus from the train station. This is probably the first and last time I will be the youngest person in a hostel. Ivana, the fellow pole dancer I have been communicating with since she found me on YouTube, then picks me up and takes me to the health club where she dances and works. I meet Vesna, a manager and pilates / pole dancing instructor. There is a beginning class that night. As we sit outside the gym smoking cigarettes (Yes, there were tables out there with ashtrays...outside a gym. Never in America. Love it.), Vesna informs me that I will be teaching the beginning class that evening.

So less than 3 hours after arriving in Croatia, I am standing in front of 6 or 7 Croatian women who only know some English. Vesna translates for me. They do it differently there, more emphasis on the actual moves and less on the transitions and "exotic" dancing. I have video and photos. This was definitely one of the more unique experiences of my journey.

Ivana takes me for burgers after we leave the health club. She says I must eat Croatian burgers since she has no homemade wine. We do go to some quasi-scenester bar near the water that seems to have a Sopranos theme. Literally. With posters and images of the cast located in several places. I drink the main Croatian beer, as I have been trying to drink all the beers indignous to the countries I have been in.

The next day, Ivana takes me around Rijeka. We take pictures. She is the most incredible amatuer photographer. I meet her other friend named Vesna, who also pole dances. Ivana and her boyfriend take me through Opatija and we eat the "best burgers". We then go to Trsat before I have to leave. At this point, I am sad to go and wish I could spend more time because I've had the most incredible experience, seeing how beautiful just a small part of this country is and meeting such great people. This isn't the main tourist destination in Croatia and obviously, I was traveling everywhere in the off season, but it was still one of the most beautiful places I have seen. Just walking along the clifs and touching the Adriatic was incredible.

At this point, I realize I am probably not going to get to Berlin. I am pissed, but I decide to go to Munich. I get back on the train and will have to switch in Ljubjana. It will be a 6-hour ride, overnight. Of course, nothing is that easy. On my way to Ljubjana, I share a compartment with a wonderful older man who is returning home. He owns an electronics factory. We trade cigarettes and he gives me his business card. I tell him about the magazine (and website) Wired. He thanks me profusely. He helps me out of the train with all my stuff and goes to meet his wife. Even with his limited English, we still managed to have a great conversation. I make a point to tell my mother about this, as she thinks I would be targeted by "sexual predators and / or terrorists" while traveling alone in Eastern Europe. Sorry, mother, but its been the exact opposite.

Somewhere in Slovenia / Austria
I do not get a sleeping car because I do not think the train will be that crowded. I was wrong. There are 3 other people in my compartment. I am finally starting to fall asleep when a conductor comes in and tells us, in both Croatian and then English, that there are "hurricanes" in Germany and we are being diverted to Salzberg. The man in front of me asks if I am British. I reply no, that I am American. By this point in my trip, and perhaps b/c I spent a few days living with my British friends and have been making a point to speak more clearer just so people will understand me better, I realize that I can almost fake a slight British accent when speaking in short sentences or giving one word replies. (Nicole later points out that it is because I have begun to phrase all sentences, even statements, like questions, in certain instances. Good observation.) I say, no, I am an American. He goes back to reading. I realize I am starving and there is no food cart and that I will once again be stranded in Austria. I am thinking about these things only to stop myself from asking how there can be hurricanes in a landlocked nation.

Later on in the journey, the train is forced to stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere for a couple of hours. I go in and out of sleep. I put my backpack on when I think we are there, but we stop again. The Croatian woman in my compartment nudges me to wake up. I have fallen asleep while leaning on my backpack. I am once again in Austria. It is 8am.

Second Detour in Austria (Salzberg)
I find someplace to eat and do not care that it costs me almost 10 Euro. I realize that I am eating ham & cheese sandwichs for at least 2 meals a day (You simply ask for "toast".) No one seems to have any knowledge of when the next train to Munich will be leaving. Although all service has been suspended, the departure times will not disappear from the screens. I go to a platform, hoping that I can leave. Ha. That would be to easy. It is here I meet, Tom, the first American I have spoken to in 5 days. He, too, is trying to get to Munich. We join forces and we discover that we probably will not be leaving until 3pm. It is then we decide to get beers (it is now 10am).

We have a beer and then decide to go look at things. He has already been here and says he knows of a good beer hall & restaurant. The winds are rather high, but since I live in Boston, I wasn't too amazed. I couldn't quite understand why train service was canceled, but I suppose it is better to be safe than sorry. Tom is my age and is traveling before he begins his studies at a seminary in Rome. He decided to go back to school and get his masters in theology, leaving a good job with IBM. I find this fascinating, not because I am a greedy slave to the dollar, but I wonder about why people turn to religion at certain points in their life. The beer hall is not open, but we do find someplace to eat. We talk about whether or not priests should get married and scandals in the Catholic church. He says he would be a priest but he wants a family and he thinks that priests much devote to much time to their church and the congregation to be able to do both. He says all his friends think he is going to end up a priest but that is not his plan.

Tom did his undergrad at Purdue so I ask him what it is like to go back and be in an entirely different environment. The school where he has been studying for his Masters is all-Christian. He told me stories of the dating scene there, as it is a small school and everyone knows everyone. He tells me that he thinks much of what goes on is ridiculous, as some people will not go out on second dates unless they think they will fall in love with the person. I find these stories to be absolutely hilarious. Even though I know him and I can drink beer together and talk about such ridiculous things, I don't have the heart to tell him that I am pretty much an atheist. (If he reads this, he will discover this fact and I welcome the intellectual discourse. Hope you're doing well in Rome, Tom!)

We finally get on the train at 3pm, the first one out. We hop on the U-Bahn somewhere to go to the city, but we must get on a bus for part of that trip because of what I rightfully assume is because limbs have fallen on some of the tracks. The bus ride lasts an hour. Imagine standing on a city bus with 100 other people, half of which have tons of luggage. We get on another U-Bahn train. Even though getting to Germany has been the most insane ordeal, I am already amazed at the quality of their public transportation.

Leaving the train station and entering the city was almost a shock after spending a week in Eastern Europe. It was as if I had forgotten what "Western" looked like. I am impressed with how modern this area is, as I feared being innundated with more Mozart. (Honestly, I do not need to hear Mozart for awhile. Even at this point.)

We check in to the Wombats hospital, which is only a block away from the train station. I check into a big room and Tom checks into a smaller room. Upon entering my room, I meet Yannick, a 21-year-old Austrailian guy who has been traveling for the last month. We go to the bar downstairs and meet up with some other Aussies and decide to go to a nightclub.

I have to run...but will continue the rest of the adventures shortly. I'll do my best to "promise" as much.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The European Journey (Volume 1)

I've meant to post more frequently since flying out last Monday, but I just haven't gotten around to doing it even though I've had ample internet access.

First off, I do not even want to see my mobile bill because I have been constantly texting people back in the states (35 cents/text). I've made a couple of phone calls, too (99 cents/minute) so you know, it can't be pretty (not to mention the fact that I get charged for every 1MB of emailed content or something), but how many times am I in Europe? Plus, sometimes you just need to share some random observation with those near and dear to you back home.

Let's start from the beginning, shall we? I landed at Heathrow early Tuesday morning. My buddy, Gaz, picked me up. I met Gaz back in 2005 when I interviewed him for a piece in Skope Magazine. We stayed in touch and he offered me a place to stay. I figured I could easily book a hostel if he was truly a freak, but he passed muster and I took up residence in a comfy spare bedroom for 3 nights. Gaz lives with his ex-wife, Sue, and they are absolutely wonderful (And yes, I love the fact that they are divorced and live together). They made me feel right at home and by the end of the first day, I felt is if I had actually been living over there for some time.

Gaz and Sue live in the "suburb" of Harrow, about 20 minutes from London. This was actually pretty cool because when I was in London before, I stayed in the city and never left. We actually only went into the city the second day I was there, which was fine, because I got to see some of the outlaying parts like St. Albans and Windsor. It was definitely a great experience staying with a family rather than a hotel, which I think everyone should get the opportunity to do at least one time when visiting another country.

Gaz let me drive his car for a few minutes. So I can now say I have driven in the UK.

I know Americans suck in many, many ways and instances, but I find it amusing that while we are seen as uncultured nitwits, the British appetite for crap culture consumption almost blows us away. For instance, reality TV stars just don't go away after their 15 minutes of fame are up. They become actual celebrities. And every tabloid rag is devoted to celebrity weight gain and loss. Everyone was talking about Celebrity Big Brother, which also features overnight coverage so you can watch the cast sleeping if you so desire. So while I find it impossible to defend my heritage in most instances, I will have to say that in terms of pop culture, the British have absolutely no right to criticize.

My new favorite slang is "camp". Camp = gay.
e.g., Tom Cruise is so camp.

Tescos and Marks & Spencer Food offer a wide array of takeaway edibles that I wish was available in the states.

On Thursday night, Gaz got me into Reading so I could meet up with Sonia, an instructor for Polestars. I attended a "teaser" pole dancing class in the basement of The Purple Turtle. It was great. I got to show the UK girls some moves and Sonia was awesome. She uses a lot of the same music I do and she taught me a couple of things I need to master when I get home. After the class, we had a beer and talked more pole. The pole dancing has actually proved to be a great hobby to have for more than the obvious benefits. Its enabled me to talk to people all over Europe. I'm actually going to Rijeka (Croatia) and meeting a girl who found me on YouTube and I'll get to attend her pole class on Tuesday night. There is also another woman who I may meet up with in Brussels, too.

Friday morning meant heading back to Heathrow and getting on a British Airways flight to Prague. Ironically, most of the people on my flight seemed to be American and I sat next to a couple from North Carolina. My friend Sandy, from D.C., was meeting me at the airport and her flight got in an hour or so after mine. I sat at an airport bar, listening to Czech radio, and drank a Pilsner Urquell while waiting. We then went over to the Hotel Josef where we've been staying ever since (This place is amazing...and the included breakfast is top notch).

Prague is absolutely beautiful and our hotel is centrally located in the Stare Mesto section of the city (near the Old Town Square and Astronomical Clock, two of those quintessential tourist meccas). At first, you just take pictures of everything because everything is just so exquisite, even if you have no idea what it is. Getting lost is inevitable, mainly because the city is mapped out crazier than downtown Boston and streets frequently change (and the street signs are on building walls). There is also the fact that the Czech language is fairly difficult, so its taken me a couple of days to figure out how to get to places without looking at a map (I was able to do this all day today). I think I can now navigate Stare Mesto and Nove Mesto with little trouble now, of course, I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon.

There are no stoplights so driving is a free-for-all. And it is incredibly cheap to eat and drink here, especially because the portions are huge. Drinking is strongly encouraged and I have definitely consumed my share of Budvar and Bechrovka (this Chai-like liquor that goes down WAY too easy). This final night was spent going back to the hotel early and drinking only Coca Cola Light. Sandy and I lost a good portion of the days because we were slightly hungover. We went to a few different places, the first of which was called U Supa and featured a jazz string quartet that played whatever our requests until the place got busier. We then met an older couple from Norway and then a young British couple who just got engaged on the Charles Bridge the night before. They were fun and we closed the place down with them. We then decide to go into the Casino Palais Saverin, but we never got a drink or did any gambling. But I wish I could have gotten some pictures because this place was great, with that lush velvet dodginess straight out of a Bond movie. This was my first European casino and there is a totally different look (much darker) than any in the states.

After the 10 minute casino visit, we decided we were hungry so we went to McDonald's. We were pretty drunk at this point, so we quickly consumed 2 McRoyal with Cheese extra value meals. What is nice about Czech McD's is that a bottle of water is included with the extra value meals, but Jesus, I feel sort of dirty about eating McDonald's in a foreign country (you know...its just so stupid American of me). After that, we find this place called 120 Days. This bar is notable because on a big-screen television, the same 3 or 4 episodes from the final season of Friends is airing at all times. We went back for a bit the second night and the same damn episodes were on. They are closed captioned in English. I had never seen these episodes because I had stopped watching that show by then, but I think I know these particular episodes line-for-line now.

Perhaps the Czechs have a fondness for American Clinton-Era culture. It seems that way, especially when you listen to the radio. A lot of the music was last heard in 1998, for instance, since arriving on Friday, I have heard that "Let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel" song 3 times. The mullet remains a popular hairstyle for both men and women. The first night, we turned on the TV after getting home and Dawson's Creek was in all its dubbed splendor for our viewing pleasure.

Tomorrow means getting up early to pack in some more sites before we go. As I said, we were mesmerized by the power of Bechrovka and that led to reduced efficiency on our parts. Tonight, after dinner, however, we did check out the Museum of Sex Machines. I would have preferred a proper gift shop to the measly postcard rack, but how can one complain when they're given the chance to view adult films from the 1920s?

Okay. I'm tired. Will write more tomorrow or when I get to Rijeka. And if any of you get bored, feel free to text message or IM me (if I'm online via the Blackberry) because I'll be on a train all tomorrow night. Yeah, that bill is going to suck but as I mentioned before, its not everyday that I traipse around Europe. I'm curious to see if all these other nations have the same abundance of KFC restaurants as both London and Prague. I had no idea this was a worldwide fast food destination. They really should have confined such nastiness solely to the states because the Colonal's gag-inducing blend of 11 herbs and spices is wrong in any nation.

(The picture is me on the stairs leading up to the dodgy casino, by the way. In case you were curious.)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

What the hell am I doing?

Its around 5:30, Sunday night. A few hours ago, it finally dawned on me that I am leaving the country for 3 weeks. Tomorrow night.

I know I'm flying into London, arriving early Tuesday morning. I was going to fly out to Budapest on Thursday, but now it looks as if I'm going to be meeting up with a couple of grad school friends in Madrid. I guess I'll figure out how I'm getting from Spain to Eastern Europe tomorrow. Or Wednesday.

That was sort of the point of this whole excursion, to be spontaneous, that sort of thing. All I know is that I have to be in Brussels on the 21st to meet Nicole (then travelling onto Amsterdam and Paris). I have a camera, my passport...oh, Melina is lending me her backpack. I'm packing lightly. I'm bringing a scarf and gloves. Maybe an umbrella. And now I'm worrying that my iPod will freak out midway through the trip and I'll have no way to update it. I need to get one of those voltage adaptor things or whatever the hell they are.
This seemed like a really good idea a few months ago. And 3 weeks didn't really seem like that long a time. I think its still a good idea and that 3 weeks probably isn't very long when you consider all the places I'm trying to go. And while it seems crazy that I am leaving work for 3 weeks without pay, I'm looking at this as an investment in my future (I sort of dig the travel writing thing) and well, I've ALWAYS wanted to do this, so...

But you know, you get kind of apprehensive and jittery when you realize you're doing this in about 24 hours. what the hell am I doing?