Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Safari Rage!

Yeah, that makes sense.



I'm going on a safari in a few short days, delicious reader(s)- this jungle escapade will be followed up by a New Year's rager in Tanzania (feel free to swing by, I assume I will have beer and some kind of salty snack).  I have no idea what to expect whilst on safari but I assume that at some point I'll meet that dude from The Gods Must Be Crazy.  

Looking back, I've had a pretty good New Years run over the last few years- partying cliff side in Santorini, dancing until sunrise with those two Russian girls in Boracay, almost getting blown up by an M80 in Chang Mai last year . . .  I feel blessed.  And also a bit wobbly.

If I don't get eaten by hippopotamuses, swallowed whole by anacondas, or kidnapped by Dr. Moreau, I will be posting about my amazing adventures in January.  Tune in and feel the love.

Happy Holidays, and give your significant other a fanny pat for me.





Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Greasy Kid Story, Part The Second

Like my grandma always said, never trust a girl with a mallet.

I have a vast array of talents, dear reader.  Along with my powers to ruin, via karaoke, any song ever written, replace a zipper on my pants with a stolen paperclip, and write gripping, thoughtful stories that are read by almost ten people, I have always been pretty good at getting along with kids, mostly of the sub-vocal variety.  This ability came to the fore a few days ago when visiting my fellow lock down inmates, the Grimsruds.  They have two lovely children, Eli (whose orgiastic adventures with me and the Bonobos were immortalized here) and Lulu, their adorable little girl.

I dunno how old she is- I'm pretty bad with ages.  Either one, or three, or six or something.  Anyways, she hasn't yet got to the complete sentence stage, but she has two things going for her- she loves the fist bump action, and she was NOT named after that horrendous Lou Reed/Metallica collaborative project (incidentally, one of the greatest crimes against humanity perpetrated by musicians since Joey Lawrence had that album out like 15 years ago).

So anyway, I was playing with her at their house.  Said play consisted of poking random bits of the couch and making "boop" noises.  We probably did this for about 30 minutes or so, and, luckily for me, before her mother could hit me with a chair Lulu got up and pulled me into her room.  She showed me her "jumping on the bed" superpowers and then, climbing down, her pacifier fell out of her mouth.  

She looked down at it, with that uniquely infantile expression of either confusion or complete french style malaise.  Her gaze locked onto mine and she uttered one word.

"Dirty."

Before I could respond, and without taking her eyes off me, she reached down and grabbed the pacifier.  Still maintaining eye contact, she grabbed my shirt (my At The Gates "Syd Barret" one- chick magnet for sure).

She wiped off the pacifier using my awesome shirt firmly clenched in her tiny little fingers.

This task accomplished to her satisfaction, Lulu smiled and held it in the air.

"Clean."

She popped the pacifier into her mouth and toddled back into the living room.

 


Greasy.





Saturday, December 3, 2011

Revolution! Or something.

Somehow, somewhere, shit just got real.



So here I am, dear reader, in Kinshasa, sitting on my porch.  It is the eve of DRC election results being posted to the public.  This is being done, of course, with all the expectation of violence, hurt feelings, shouty noises, and jagged pointy bits flying through the air which that kind of thing normally entails.  

I have a beer in one hand and an air raid siren in the other.

At The Gates' Slaughter of the Soul (great album) is playing on my stereo.

Just in case, I'm wearing pants.  According to Amazon.com, the color of these pants is labeled as "trunk", which opens up a different set of questions entirely.

What strikes me as funny is this: not only am I in this position, but this is THE THIRD TIME.
In the past six years, on three different countries, I have had the distinct pleasure of bearing witness to a country going completely bat shit crazy, with the aforementioned jagged bits flying fast and furious.

Allow me to give you a small taste of the madness I have seen over the years.

Four years ago I was sitting in some greasy back alley in Bangkok, drinking a beer on  a small sofa bar whilst munching down a hearty repast of pig face and scorpions, when suddenly a mob of angry red shirts (unfortunately not the Star Trek kind) ran down the alley screaming, waving sticks, and looking generally ill intentioned.  Shortly thereafter we had the watermelon fights, leading to the acid attacks, and ending up with the always popular "grenade thrown into a crowd of people" maneuver.  The latter tactic won't win any friends, but seems to be a popular way of forcing one's opinion into a 25 foot radius.  After a month of violence, elections were called for the following year.

The year before I was in Myanmar, in a taxi.  I was heading towards a food store with a serious case of creepy Asian doughnut rage when, cresting over the hill, a mob of people came running towards me.   I had stepped out of the cab and tried to get back in, only to see the driver peel out down the road, his betel stained teeth flashing apologetically.  The crowd came towards me and I insensitively balled my fist but  was happily ignored.  They surged around me, paying me no mind, which was pretty confusing until I saw the reason why:  two large jeeps, loaded with soldiers and anti aircraft guns, came barreling down the street at the group.  They were shooting into the air, I think (hope).  Luckily, a nearby, off the road beer station gave me shelter and beers (and those weird fish crackers Myanmar people frikkin love) for a few hours until the roads were clear enough to get back home.  Now, five years later, the US Secretary of State is visiting their new, "civilian" government. 

Both times I remember thinking, damn, I'm too old for this.  Dying alone due to grenade attack would be a rather lame way to go (unless you're that guy from that one kick-ass A Team episode).  In spite of that, though, here I am again.

Watching the walls.

At least this time I have better music (In Myanmar I was stuck with The Eagles).

On the one hand, I know I should feel privileged to have been able to witness people fighting, desperately, against all odds, for their freedom, for their voices to be heard.  It has really given me insight to both the nobility of man and the inherent, painful transience that is the sum of human existence.  To watch people stand up and say, with one voice, "enough!" is evocative of that line from The Grand Historian: "With one fist raised to the sky, the world is changed."

I think The Sex Pistols stole that, by the way.

 In that sense, it's completely empowering, and I am honored to be able to bear witness to the changing tides of history.  On the other hand . . .


I know, I know, everyone has seen this picture.  But man, it's still funny as hell.






Sunday, November 20, 2011

BEER!

When I arrived in The Congo, at 11:30 at night, this bottle was in the fridge.  And I knew I was home.


Man, I love beer.

One of my favorite things about being a globe trotting, high rolling, occasional pants wearing son of a bitch is being able to check out the local beers in all the countries whose borders I have darkened.

The thing that stood out for me most upon arriving in the DRC, the big difference between Asian and Africa (or at least The Congo's corner of Africa) was how much better the beer was.  I don't know if it is because they normally brew with rice in Asia, or whether African beers use darker ingredients, or what.  I will say, though, that I haven't tasted a beer with as much thunder as Tembo since I left the states.  Taiwan wins in the name department, though, hands down, as evidenced by the greatest name for beer of all time:

 Poetry.  And foam.


Beer, to me, is like a delicious, frosty mnemonic device.   I can remember the first beer I had the night I arrived in Myanmar- my first time out of the USA, about to start a new teaching job, having left behind all my friends and family, at 9pm I walked out of my hotel and  down the rotted, shattered street to a "beer station".  I couldn't understand the language, everyone was staring at me, and I was equal parts tired, excited, and terrified.  But once I was firmly ensconced on the cheap plastic stool that I would soon learn was a universal object in Asia, I managed, through much pointing and money waving, to order a glass of their beer (Tiger Beer, which is actually from Singapore, but Myanmar had their own brewery).  Halfway through I felt better.  That could have been the formaldehyde they add to beers in Asia, but I won't question the result.

I remember my first beer in Vietnam.  Thailand.  Cambodia.  Athens.  Mallorca.  Santa Fe.  

I remember the last beers I've had with good friends- that last night rocking it in Santa Fe, the all night farewell KTV rager in Yangon, PJs in Taichung.

Last Thanksgiving, after my eye surgeries, I was sitting alone in my house.  Blind, incidentally, and pretty bored. Crying bloody tears, which looked bad ass but cut down my social life for a while. A knock at my door  and two minutes of fumbling and tripping later, I was holding a bottle of Taiwan Stout in my hand, courtesy of the guard from downstairs.  He even opened it for me and told me not to spill it in my eyes.

Helpful advice.

So what's my point?  I dunno- maybe that I drink too much beer.  These days, though, it's more than beer.  For me, that simple drink is laden with memories and meaning.  I can't drink a Heineken without recalling the first time I saw Fight Club.  A Sam Adams reminds me of leaving the hospital after The first Deathmatch and having Dagny scrape coagulated blood out of my hair.  Fat Tire summer beers make me think of Santa Fe, sitting with Carl rocking the bonfire, while dodging the nails which always shot out of the stolen pallets (yoinked from the cable building- the same location where we filmed the infamous Channel 70 Movie- cheap plug!) as they heated up.  And Coronas, of course, take me back to the days of the Gene Hackman feud, and the rage.  That sweet, sweet rage.  

Some people keep photo albums, or have old letters.  For me it's beer and music (which will be another column).  So drinking beer is like drinking my past.  It has its own history, like a long Island Ice Tea without the spray on tan and spiky hair. 

So to all my friends and family, past and present, I'll have a beer tonight and think of you.   Come by and share one! I have a great beer drinking porch now- it's deliciously white trash.






Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chicks Dig Me In Poland

Oh, yeah, Bogdana, you know you want some.


So my last entry cast a steely eyed gaze towards Latvia, where I assume my greatest fan(s) are/is.  When I picture this erstwhile soul, I envision a gigantic mountain of a man wearing an awesome Russian style hat with my face on it, knuckleduster rings that spell out "LIPPART", and parts of his (or her- that'd be kick ass) clothing smoldering for no immediately identifiable reason. 
When I turn my attention to another country though, the land of sausages, Ivan Putski, and Behemoth, I get the distinct impression of a massive swarm of women roaming around the country wearing nothing but sparkly blue high heels and an over sized Inebriation T Shirt.  For some reason a few of them are riding lawn mowers, but that is neither here nor there.
What's Inebriation, you ask?  See that logo on the top of this blog entry?   
Go on, look.  
Savor it.
Yeah, that’s the stuff.
Why would a gorgeous Eastern European woman, so recently plucked from the iron hand of communism, or something, wear a shirt with a logo like that?   
Simple.  That's my old band, and the chicks dig me in Poland.  Without any solid evidence to back this up, I will state categorically that I am to Poland as David Hasselhoff is to Germany.  And before you scoff and mock me for comparing myself to The Night Rocker (great album), remember, dear reader: he gave a concert on the Berlin Wall, and it was torn down shortly after.  Or during.  I don't know, I was young.  My demo goes on sale in the back streets of Poland, and, now, post Inebriation, when was the last time you heard a Polish joke?
Case well and truly rested, your honor.
So how did this happen?  How did I become such an icon to the Poles?  Like most things involving me, the whole thing doesn’t make very much sense.  Read on . . .
The story has more twists and turns than those weird linked sausage things, but basically is this.  During my formative years in high school, nearly twenty years ago now (goddamn) I was in Inebriation, a kick ass death metal band from New Jersey.  We were pretty young, and quite stupid, but what we lacked in creativity or musicianship we made up for in our quantity of black t shirts and poorly judged facial hair.  We did two demo tapes over the span of almost four years and played tons of shows, some of them in front of more than ten or fifteen people. 
What did we sound like?  Click here and listen to our most well loved song, a stirring exploration of the perils of faith in a world of low production quality.
As is the destiny of all super groups, we eventually broke up my senior year of high school due to creative differences over the use of my girlfriend at the time.  The drummer took the guitarist, the name, the songs, and the girlfriend. The new Inebriation, sans my awesome bass playing and kick ass vokillz, played one show without me and faded into oblivion (I think we had that song title back in the day).  As for me? I went on to the kind of solo career only matched by the dude from Music and Lyrics.  I worked on other things over the years, put out some demos, played a few shows, but for all intents and purposes left the rock star lifestyle behind, except for the chaps.  
Until a few years ago when a polish record store owner/magazine publisher tracked me down for an interview.  For whatever reason, our second demo had made a bit of a splash on the polish death metal scene, and some people were releasing it and selling it in the stores out there.  According to him, there were almost three hundred sold out of his store (we originally made 50 and I think most of those were left on the floor of The Stone Pony).  He asked for an interview with me, sent me some flyers and pictures of the store (with the Inebriation demo advertised- so cool).  For a while we talked about me flying over and playing an Inebriation reunion show, consisting of me and whatever drunk Polish guys wanted to learn the songs.  Since we only used like two chords it wouldn’t take long.  Financing, timing, and my job got in the way, but for a brief flicker of time I had the delicious fantasy of becoming a very minor underground polish rock star. 
Which probably meant I would need to buy a new jacket.  Maybe one with extra zippers.
I never saw any money from this, of course, but I never see any money from anything so no big deal.  Doing the interview and seeing those pictures was cool enough to satisfy my massive ego.
The point of the story?  That you never know.  We recorded that demo when I was seventeen and now, nearly twenty years later, while sitting in Burma, someone from yet another country gets in touch with me (he said it took him a few months to track me down) to let me know that my old, forgotten music had reached a new audience.  I have made the conscious choice to picture the aforementioned audience as beautiful twenty five year old women, sexy in a vaguely gothic kind of way (at least one of those three hundred probably was, anyway- I mean, it’s just math in the end) but even if they’re not, like maybe they’re really 35 or something, it’s still a great story, and underscores how you never know in what way your actions will change the world you live in.
Even if nobody buys your t shirts.

Seriously, who could resist this?  Rock on, sweet prince.







Thursday, October 13, 2011

Latvia Rager- a tribute.

I don't know much about geography, but based on this I will assume all Latvians have superpowers.
 
I have managed to become such a blogging expert, in such a truncated time frame, that I have figured out how to identify where people who read my blog hail from.  This only took me six months, to find the well hidden "audience button".  That bastard.  It is interesting to ponder how many people, all over this wide world, are reading about my adventures with insects, pants, celebrities, and firearms.  The audience list breaks it down by country, and there has been one consistent reader (or readers, I dunno), following the ups and downs, ins and outs, rages and sorrows, that make up the life of The Lippart and its various offshoots.  This reader comes from a place I know nothing about- Latvia.
 
Latvia.  The name itself sounds badass, like where vampires go when they get tired of eating peasants in Wallachia (is that still around?)  And, as shown above, they have remarkable levitation powers, reaching almost five feet off the floor at times.  But beyond that, I know nothing, so I did some research, and in honor of my most exotic reader, wanted to share them with you.  Of course, being a lazy, drunk bastard, I culled all my facts from the government's web site, so if they are anything like our government in the USA, not only is it a lie, but the website itself was outsourced to another country and was all stolen from wikipedia anyways.

Awesome fact one- almost half on Latvians play an instrument or sing.  That is kickass, and means that, according to Newtonian Mathematics (as proven in book two of The Principia), 23% of them are breaking into powerslides as you are reading this blog.  The remaining 27% are either a) doing bed straddling air guitar licks or b) fist pumping in time with "Any Way You Want It." 
 
Delicious. 
 
Awesome fact two- they play a sport called floorball.  It looks like floor hockey with a "wiffle ball" feel.  At first, seemed a bit small beer to me, but then I found this picture:



Goddamit, let's play some frikkin floorball, boys.
 
In summary, Latvia sounds like a sweet place to visit.  And I will assume they have good beer, because everywhere I have been in the world has good beer, except for Utah, which just sells bottled shame instead (tastes more like Fanta).  I hope they have windmills there, because I always wanted to roll around Don Quixote style.  I'll have to come by and see what it is about Latvia that makes them the only European country (other than the Germans, but they are probably just gathering intel) where people care about what's happening with my groin and so forth. 

Kudos to you, Latvia, you magnificent bastard.  I will have a Tembo tonight and ponder your mysterious and Euro-flavored ways.

tune in next week, where I talk about my massive popularity in Poland.







Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Best of times, worst of times.

It was just like this, except there were like ten more.  With guns.

I purchased new speakers the other day and they are patently ridiculous, deliciously so.  They have a remote control, Karaoke inputs, and an FM radio built in.  When I turn up the volums the speakers flash blue in time with the bass notes, which makes listening to Fear Factory a seizure inducing experience (even more so than usual).  They tower over my television set, two collossi staring down at the rest of my paltry living room with judgment writ large on their conic features.  I think I am in love with them, especially the blue lights.

Also, my school is going to buy me a new couch tomorrow, due to my current one being prone to slide offs and severe back pains if sat on for more than five minutes.  I asked what the price range was, and they said "oh, just pick what you want", so now I am on a quest to find the only couch in Kinshasa that has cup holders, foot rests, a refrigerator, and a hot tub built in.

Why am I telling you this, dear reader?  Well, mostly to have you wallow in a fit of jealous rage, but also to explain what I was mulling over in the shower this morning, happily polishing my gorgeous abs to a healthy shine.

Okay, not so much gorgeous abs as a faint suggestion of abittude, a glimmer of years (beers) gone by.  A possibility, if you will, of abs to come.

At any rate, while rocking out Ferris Bueller style and rubbing my belly with odd purple soap, I looked down and saw a centipede.  Having been told that the centipedes here were poisonous, and sting like a sumbitch, I immediately squealed and pointed my shower thingie at the little bastard, flexing to myself as he went down the drain.

Confident in both my quick thinking and the fact that no one heard me scream, except for the gardener who has already seen me naked twice, I resumed my soap action.  I saw a movement in my periphrials.

The centipede was coming back out of the drain, stalking towards me.  As I watched, horrified and a bit sudsy, another one rose from the depths and followed its Lovecraftian companion.  

Then another.

And another.

I would say it was a cavalcade but there were no fuzzy hats.

I don't know what they hell I did, but they were sure pissed off.  I rinsed off while standing in the far corner, my eyes on the insects as they crept towards me, surely with hate in their segmented eyes.  As soon as I could I jumped out, ran down the hall, and put on pants.  

I haven't been back home since.  I hope they didn't steal my speakers.

I will say this, though- I learned something today:  There is quite possibly nothing in the world less masculine than a 34 year old naked man frantically shaking a sputtering shower head at a bunch of insects while covered in purple soap.

except for Curling.

There, I said it.  Damn Canadians.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Home Sweat Home

My palace in the heart of darkness.  I have not one, but two porches.  Sweet.


As I was walking to school the other morning, passing by the random orange lizard things as they chased down the random gray lizard things (those sneaky bastards), listening to the ponderous creaking of the vertiginous patches of bamboo that are strewn all over the place, I realized something: this place feels like home to me.

Which got me thinking, in that thinky way I have, about homes I've had.  I've lived in many places over the years but I would call very few of them home, as in a place I have that sense of belonging with, a place I would feel comfortable dropping elbows and randomly flexing at the sunrise, Lion King style.  I would say, when I look back, I have had four places I would actually call home: my Grandma's and Aunt Chrissy's houses (those cozy bastards), St. John's College (that saucy bastard), Myanmar (that greasy bastard) and now, here in Kinshasa (Goddamn it's hot out here.)

The reasons why I would think of these as homes would be far too long and self aggrandizing for this type of drunken blog, and only interesting to those people who are working feverishly on my autobiography (hopefully titled A Man and His Guns: Lippart, a Life Lived).  I will say, however, that the stories I can tell about life in those places run the gamut from terrifying to heartbreaking to uplifting to incredibly awesome.  In other words, I basically rip off the plot from Toy Story 3.  With a bit of The Muppet Movie thrown in for extra spice.  But most of us, I would guess, have stories like that; maybe that's what having a home means.  Either that, or digital cable.

So what's the point of this rant?  I guess just this, dear singular reader:  if you have a home now, I hope you realize how awesome that is.  And, if you are looking for a place to call your own, a place where powerslides (or whatever it is you do instead) are not frowned upon, good luck, and feel free to swing by during your search and have some beers.  You can have a free random gray lizard thing as a welcome gift.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reflections, Refractions.

This picture has nothing to do with the blog entry.  But man, good times.

So, I am sitting here, sans pants, getting ready for our big "Let There Be Light" rager down here in the heart of darkness, and am in a reflective mood, perhaps due to the fact that my St. John's homecoming was last week.  Or, maybe more logically, because I have been drinking greasy Sangria for the past 45 minutes, which is like one step removed from Swish, itself a minimal improvement on fish liquor.

Either way, the point is this:  Ten years ago I was graduating from college (my third college, man I'm fickle), and wondering where life would take me, how would I survive, and what sort of pants would people wear in the future.  I am here to say that life has taken me to both the farthest corners of the earth and the strangest cubbyholes around those corners (mostly containing illicit footwear and weird bangly things).  I have survived quite well, and in the future they still haven't moved into star trek style onesies.  Hopefully soon.

How did I get here?  How did I get to a point in my life where, at 34, I am living in the DRC, drinking greasy Sangria, and getting sexually aroused by the sound of my generator kicking in?  

The answer may surprise you, dear reader.  It was because of one man- John Balkcom, the former president at St. John's.  He had given us a speech a few months before graduation where he said that if we needed any help, come to him.  Three weeks after that, with my Peace Corps service fallen through, I had no idea what I would be doing when the day came to leave that delicious nest.  After the Valentines Rager I had approached him and asked drunkenly for help finding a job.  I thought nothing of it until he called me on the following Monday.  I came to his office and sitting on his desk were two applications.  They were spaced about a foot apart, like flat, typeset crossroads extending into the very distant (hopefully) future.

He looked up at me and in that sexy bass voice said "Okay, Matt.  I made some calls, and I am pretty confident I can get you into either of these programs.  What would you rather do?"

One was an enrollment application for a teacher certification course through UNM, and the other was a job working at the Coppola Wineries (yeah, the Godfather dude).  I had never thought about teaching before, but have always enjoyed basking in the reflective glow of vague celebrity associations (as my Gene Hackman feud and award winning elbow throwing performance in "Chasing Amy" attest).  Conversely, though, I knew nothing about wine.  So I pondered.  After I was all pondered out, I asked him what he thought.  Here is the reply I will never forget, the reply that set me on my life long journey into madness and random shirt tearing:

"Well, Matt, you have a lot of charisma and seem to be a very thoughtful, diligent person.  I believe a career in teaching would be well suited for you.  And I haven't been here long, but I think that if you worked the winery, you might end up drinking too much."

He laughed.  So did I.

And so here I am.  The world is a strange place sometimes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jersey Girls and Bloody Curls- The Reality Deathmatch Part 1


(note- If anyone out there has any pics from this event, I'd love to put them up- I will exchange photos for beer!)
I was leaning against the wall, hidden safely behind a tarp by the bell tower. Brian Vail, that villainous son of a bitch, was giving a promo to the Reality Weekend crowd. He was mid way through his speech, a tirade involving swatting me as if I were a fly, invoking the wrath of the churlish, drunken crowd, when it hit me like a chair to the head.

Goddamn I love this place.

I looked around at my Jersey Posse. Noah smiled while holding a door in his hand. Neoma, Araminta, and Lauren, wearing identical bikinis made out of duct tape (that was a fun fitting session, I'm sure) were standing close by, either nervous, excited, or drunk as fuck, I was never sure. My hands tightened around my barbed wire baseball bat (as seen in the omnibus Hackman anthology, click here to rock it) as "Edgecrusher" by Fear Factory started to blast through the speakers. We walked through the building and made our way to the ad hoc ring/stage as a combination of my nerves and the hot Santa Fe sun cast everything in stark relief.

The audience (my first reaction- so many! Damn. My second reaction- you drunk bastards.) broke into applause, catcalls, and random incoherent screams as we took our place up front. Lauren waved at everyone while perched atop Noah's shoulders (nice touch by the way, guys). I hugged the Jersey Girls for Jersey luck, stood in front of the crowd, and flexed my arms Hogan style. Cheers washed over me as the pounding drum beat vibrated through the ground.

Goddamn I love this place.

The acclaim was cut short when dastardly Vail hit me with a lighting tube (those long sumbitches that turn every office into a stygian hell), shattering it over my back and spraying glass into the mass of onlookers. I turned around and took a garbage can to the head three times before falling to the concrete, clutching my rapidly bruising forehead. As he reached down to pull me up, only one thought went through my mind:

Goddamn I love this place.

Most of the match was a blur for me, especially when the pure evil but wicked handsome Krishnan Venkatesh, Greek teacher, martial arts guru, and impartial referee, turned on me. He smashed my skull with a frying pan, chokeslammed me through a pile of light tubes, and smashed a VCR over my head.

The second attack caused nerve damage I still feel to this day, the third created a 10 minute gap in my memory that I have never recovered, but the first one broke my heart.

Venkatesh, you magnificent bastard.

In the end, after trials and tribulations that would have made Aeneas give up and buy a motor home instead, my arm was raised in triumph. My enemies slunk away to lick their wounds in the darkness, like Sarah Palin post interview. Blood poured out of the wound in my back, mingling with the blood covering my chest, hair, and sexy wrestling pants. Araminta came over and grabbed my biceps flirtatiously while whispering sweet nothings in my ear: "We have to get you to a hospital. Now."

Edgecrusher was playing, the audience was cheering, and I fell to my knees, fighting the urge to throw up. I looked up and saw the Dean of St. John's College in the audience.

Goddamn I love this place.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Life sucks sometimes


Yeah, the one that fell on my head looked just like this.


An incident occurred today, dear reader, that I feel needs to be described to all one of you who wonders how I am rolling in The Congo. But first, a bit of back story involving the curse of the liquor.

Last weekend I decided to stock up on booze in an effort to entice people into my parlor, spider to fly style. On first arriving here I had naively assumed that my lack of food, propensity for oddly timed nudity, and meat sweats would be an instant golden ticket, and the world would be clamoring to see what my oompa loompas looked like.

That's what she said.

But she also went on to say many insightful things about the need for booze, so I went out and purchased a plentiful supply and brought them home, quickly falling into the deep, blameless sleep known only to the just. Or those dudes in Awakenings.

Turned out the liquor was cursed like the frogurt in that Simpsons episode. The morning after, I awoke to a flooded house due to a faulty pipe in my home. Three days and one burned out Wii system later, the plumbing was repaired just in time for the generator to grind to a halt. So the floods were replaced by the darkness.

The next one should have been snakes, or blood, or something, but what arrived turned out to be much less manly and far more annoying- leeches.

This morning, as I showered in near darkness, I felt something drop on my head. With a feeling of dread I haven't felt since my 3 am White Castle trips, I grabbed the spot and touched something squishy, which also seemed to be moving a bit. I squealed like a girl covered in leeches, yanked it off my head (which caused blood to run down my wrist and squirt on the far wall of the bathroom), and jumped out of the shower onto the floor. The leech, not very much the worse for wear, started to slide up out of the tub and come towards me. I looked up and there were three more on the ceiling waving their foetid mouth parts like lobbyists at a PAC meeting.

I ran out of the room completely naked, wet, and with a bloody palm, grabbed my phone, and almost called the school nurse, whose son explained the vagaries of love in a previous post (click here to read). I hesitated, realizing A) that this probably wasn't my blood, and B) I really needed to put some pants on so that the gardener outside the large living room window would stop waving at me.

As I was pondering, I saw a sizable gecko dart into the bathroom. I closed the door behind him, put a towel up against the gap between door and floor, and told him how much trash those leeches had been talking about him. Now I will go home to see if he was victorious or if there is a dessicated lizard mummy left on my floor, perhaps as a warning.

And that, dear friend, is how we roll in The Congo.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Congo Strongo


If this tree doesn't come to life and topple Saruman's tower, I'm gonna be pissed.



So here I am, three weeks into my grand Congo adventure, and I haven't seen either Tim Curry or Joe Don Baker anywhere, although I did spot a greasy bastard who may or may not have been Andy Dick. In spite of that disappointment, I have had some good to great times and learned quite a few things about this country that Joseph Conrad never bothered to mention:

1) There are hundreds of people here selling the same three pairs of sunglasses.

2) Congolese bass players make me wanna kick my own "skills" in the neck.

3) I like being called "Pappa" in a non sexual way.

4) When Congolese people dance, they essentially morph into one gigantic pelvis. Much like The Judge from that scene in Pink Floyd's The Wall, but without the lipstick.

5) Pilie Pilie sauce is the second best thing to ever happen to my mouth.

6) That's what she said.

Tune in next weak when I finally begin my oft delayed Reality Deathmatch memorial tour!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

From the mouths of babes . . .

God,you adorable little sumbitch.


So I was walking around the Bonobo camp in Kinshasa (weird how life twists and turns around you, isn't it?) in the company of a five year old boy, Eli, a wonderful lad, filled with curiosity and a bottomless knowledge of invisible monsters. We approach a group of these furry bastards and of course they are all having feverish disco style sex, like Abba on crystal meth without the track pants. What follows is our verbatim exchange:

"Why are they fighting?"

"They're not fighting, buddy."

"Then what are they doing?"

"Well, Eli, that's . . . that's how they show their love for each other."

Eli pauses for a few minutes before responding.

"Love hurts sometimes."

Yes it does, li'l pimp, yes it does.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Congo Bongo

I can't wait to fight Joe Don Baker in that volcano.


So as a quick update- today I am off for The Congo. I will arrive late on Sunday and start my new gig Monday morning. Mallorca was awesome (stories to follow) and I hope you loyal readers or three follow me along to my next adventure. If that movie is any indication, there will be albino monkeys attacking me at every turn, with Tim Curry whispering sweet nothings into my ear, preferably whilst wearing fishnet and eyeliner.

Sweet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reality Deathmatch: a 10 year retrospectacle.

So, in light of the epic series on Gene Hackman (read the entire five part masterpiece here), I have been asked many questions. Chief among them, what the hell kind of college would allow something like this to go on? What august institution would condone that type of behavior? The answer is easy. The same one that also sanctioned this:


man, arterial spray is so hot.

It was a crazy time, my friends, and now when I am in a pondering mood, ten years after the last pinfall on that final deathmatch, sometimes I am still baffled by the fact that we were allowed to do this.

So what happened? Who was involved? How did we get permission? What caused that injury? Why did those jeans fit so well?

Looking back at my life, it seems that, for better or for worse, it's a life filled with stories. Like that guy from the movie Big Fish, only without those sexy Siamese twin chicks.

It's been a decade since the curtain fell, and now this story is ready to be told.

Stay tuned . . .



Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mallorca, You Sexy Bastard

good ponder action.

I have been in Mallorca for almost three weeks now and I can officially say that this place is kick ass, in the true Jack Blackian sense of the word. During the day, an island paradise with beautiful weather and gorgeous views. At night, the same wonderful vistas, with the addition of unbelievably attractive Spanish women in spandex mini skirts and six inch wedges throwing up everywhere. This is truly a land of contrasts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mallorca Cavorta

Like Goatse, except not the worst thing in the world.

I am in Mallorca for one month, and will be leaving behind all thoughts of censorship, Gene Hackman, and mindless rage. As good stories occur to me, I shall post them here, dear reader (all two of you).
But first, a quick "why Mallorca is great" story (Other than the topless beaches, of course)- our first day of class we had a coffee break at 10:30 am. As we entered the coffee shop, I saw an old guy drinking a pint of beer (so early- what a trooper). He was wearing a "Go Canada" shirt and a knee brace. It was like a white trash trifecta . . . made me think of home . . . sniff sniff.

Monday, June 20, 2011

All Good Things (Hackman You Bastard- The Conclusion)

Read Part 4!

Read Part 3!

Read Part 2!

Read Part 1!


And with one voice . . .

After I told everyone about my revelation the word spread quickly. Perhaps it was the beer, perhaps it was the stress brought on by our Senior Papers coming due, or perhaps it was just our natural aversion towards a bastard like Hackman. Whatever the reason, within a few days we had a regular group of people who would make the journey to our balcony and yell at Gene Hackman's house, nestled in the mountains like a festering middle finger in the middle of our dreams.

It caught on. There were times when we would have dozens of people involved. The act of yelling at him brought on a catharsis, a sense of inner peace not unlike the end of the first Superman movie. But instead of having to fly against the rotation of the earth and turn back time, we just needed to drink a few beers and scream about how ridiculous the plot of Enemy of the State was. Bad grades on your latest paper? Fuck you, Gene Hackman. Girlfriend broke up with you? Fuck you, Gene Hackman. Can't win a round of Goldeneye? Gene Hackman, you son of a bitch.

When the balcony wasn't enough, we started climbing the bell tower and screaming from the top. The cries of "Fuck you, Gene Hackman, you bastard!" Could be heard throughout the campus and up into the mountains beyond.

Were there complaints? Oh, indeed. Fellow dorm dwellers got pretty upset at times, until we invited them up to yell and then they saw the light. Occasionally the police were called, and one time I had to meet with the Dean in regards to a harassment complaint from Mr. Hackman himself. That bastard.

But we were on a mission from God. Or Beer. And we had a lot of time on our hands, since 2nd semester senior year all classes are cancelled except for Art. Some people spent that precious time working on their papers, some people made plans for their future, and some people lost themselves to sordid debauchery.

I used my time to yell at Gene Hackman.

But nothing lasts forever.

It came to a head one day in late Spring. I was on the balcony, yelling, when all of the sudden, from the other side of the arroyo, I heard a voice emanating from the house.

"Screw you, Lippart."

I responded in my usual quick witted fashion.

"What?"

The voice mocked me as it flew across the dessicated landscape.

"You heard me the first time. Screw you, you goddamned pussy. You don't have the balls to say that to my face."

Maybe it was the rage, maybe it was the heat of the morning sun, or maybe it was the 5 beers I had consumed. Looking back, I am not sure. All I knew then was that now was the time. It had finally happened. He was answering my call. I grabbed my barbed wire baseball bat and stormed off, across the dried river bed and over to the hated spot.

I charged up to the gate and hit the intercom button. There was no answer so my first reaction was to accept the challenge. I yelled at him to come out, to look into the eyes of the guy he ran off the road so many years before. There was no response, and my initial exuberance was replaced by a buzzed confusion. I had also cut my hand on the bat, in my haste, so that tampered my mood somewhat.

I heard laughing and saw some of my college buddies nearby. Ah-ha, the old "pretend you are Gene Hackman challenging me to a fight so that I run across the desert with my bat" trick.

I felt quite foolish after that and thought that, maybe, it was time to let the Hackman feud die. I trundled back up to the apartment, cleaned the blood off my bat, and had a forlorn beer. It tasted of impotence and wasted years. Then I realized I was drinking Milwaukee's Best Ice.

In a normal world, that would be the end. Thankfully the world is far from normal.

Two years later, Hackman was arrested in LA for some road rage incident. A morning radio show in Florida was discussing the arrest when a listener called in and told them the St. John's "Hackman" story. A few days later one of them tracked me down and did an interview. I told them everything. They thought it was a great, so the following Tuesday they had a "yell at Hackman" segment, where people called up and blamed Hackman for things like cars not working or marriages failing. It stuck, and for a while the Hackman hate lived on.

Every once in a while I go back up to campus, and someone always asks me "hey, were you that guy who hated Gene Hackman? What was that about?". So I tell the story, and inevitably they ask to go up to the balcony and give it a shot. Sometimes we even climb the bell tower again.

And so it goes. People might say this whole story is stupid, absurd, and one of the most useless things they have read. And they would be right. For a while, though, up on that mountain, we tapped into something, some sort of primordial force that bonded people together. I am sure there are many people who will never forget the moment when they climbed the outside of a bell tower at 3 in the morning to scream away their troubles at an actor they had never met. It was like a baptism, only with beer and rage replacing holy water and servitude.

Hackman, you son of a bitch.

Monday, June 13, 2011

From Hell's Heart, I Stab At Thee (Hackman You Bastard Part 4)

Read part 3!

Read Part 2!

Read Part 1!

Even this baby knows you're dead inside.


And then it happened.

After years of searching in vain, of grasping at it in my dreams, getting so close, only to wake up with the rusty taste of rage in my mouth, I saw it.

His SUV.

That son of a bitch.

I was coming home from the same place (Owl's Liquors) on the same day, and he came into view. Its like the universe lined up so that I could make things right. This time, however, he was in front of me, so I wasn't victimized.

Instead I followed him. Up the windy road, keeping what I thought was a safe distance, until the demonic vehicle came up to a gate. I saw Gene Hackman, the man himself, get out of his car and say something into the intercom (probably cursing at babies or making jokes about the state of the Rainforests). The gate opened and he drove in. I didn't follow because even filled with rage I wasn't filled with crazy, but I did get a good view of the house.

I was giddy on the way back to school. I parked my car recklessly and ran up the stairs to the apartment shared with four other seniors. They were all engrossed in Starcraft so I grabbed a beer and headed for our kick ass balcony, which had a great view of the arroyo and mountain range behind the college.

And on that balcony, with the Fat Tire sweating away in my hand and the electronic beeping noises emanating through the doorway, the universe opened up. Everything became clear. It felt like time itself had stopped. Across the arroyo, sitting for all the world like a festering boil on the face of the mountain, I saw his house.

The white hot rage welled up inside of me and burst forth. I raised my hands to my face and my face to the heavens. I screamed out the words that I had waited almost 4 years to say. It was obvious that the fates themselves wanted this to happen, like they had woven our two threads into the most random and stupid of knots.

"Gene Hackman! You son of a bitch! I hate you, Gene Hackman, you goddamned bastard!"

I could feel the words sailing way across the dead river bed and into the windows of his house. My hands were tingling. There was no reaction but I knew he heard me. I felt like a weight had been lifted, like Simon himself had come down and taken my burden back to Cyrene with him.

I walked back into the apartment and saw the faces of the two girls sitting on the living room couch. There would be some explaining to do. I knew that. But I also knew this was only the beginning.

To be concluded in part 5: For Hate's Sake, I Spit My Last Breath At Thee.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I Built This Rage Come Death (Hackman You Bastard Part 3)

Part Two

Part One



For a long time after that, nothing happened. Nothing, that is, except for the seething rage, the vivid red color of injustice, which festered inside me. I told my college buddies about the incident. They didn't believe me, or they believed me but didn't care. Most told me to let it go or told me Gene Hackman didn't live in Santa Fe anyway, and that I was a drunken idiot. While this was assuredly a truth, it wasn't the only truth. For them, life went on.

How lucky they were. For me, everything had changed that dark day. I no longer could watch Enemy of the State in ignorance. The antics of Lex Luthor ceased to bring a smile to my face. Hoosiers caused me to grind my teeth at every shot of his beautiful blue eyes- a window to his dark soul lurking behind, laughing at the world outside.

Two years passed by. I lived, I loved, I learned, while a part of me, separate from the rest, hated. It had no relief, though- nowhere to turn.

Until spring of Junior year.

It was then that the local paper wrote a story about a bunch of celebrities going to court against another celebrity over the rights to build a house higher on the mountain which, coincidentally enough, overlooked St. John's College. The rich and famous had always had palatial residences up there, and there was continual bickering about zoning and so forth. But this particular day, one celebrity had decided she would build her house higher and bigger than the rest. This could not stand, obviously, so the other mountain dwellers filed suit. In the article was a list of names. Among them, buried in the middle: Gene Hackman.

That son of a bitch.

Now I knew he was there- that it had been him all along. Not only was it him, he had been hiding in plain site, like a plot twist from one of his more turgid films: this whole time he had been living behind the school that I called home (and occasionally called other things involving steel chairs and barbed wire baseball bats). I showed the article to my friends, and the taste of vindication was sweet. But what to do? How to proceed? How could my blinding anger finally be put to rest?

A chance encounter four months later gave me the opportunity.

To be continued . . .

Friday, May 20, 2011

God Damn It, Gene Hackman, You Scum Sucking Bastard

for part 1, click here
It wasn't the beer that did it, but it was the beer that kept it going.

I was coming back from the store with a few six packs of beer in my car and a happy smile on my face. Driving under the warm glow of a mid afternoon Santa Fe sun, thoughts of Monday's seminar bubbling in my head as Amorphis (Elegy!) rocked the stereo. I turned a corner off the main road and onto Camino Cruz Blanca as the school crested into view.

Suddenly a car swerved into view behind me, a big, gas sucking SUV, honking its horn and riding up on my ass like a hopeful high schooler at the Winter Formal. Instinctively I sped up, to no avail, as the car came around and cut me off, actually forcing me off the road onto the gravel alongside. I slammed on my breaks, heart racing, as the monstrous truck slowed to a stop in front of me and then backed up, languidly rolling towards my front bumper. When it got within 10 feet, the car stopped. In my head, all sorts of crazy scenarios went off- was it the West Side Locos? Some random serial killer? Those jerks from the art college? Those damn soccer kids that I was always yelling at?

The window rolled down and a hand reached out. It slowly extended a middle finger and held it up against the sky. I was confused, but only for a moment. Its owner leaned his head out of the car and glared at me with an expression I had seen many times before, but never in real life. After a few moments passed he extended the finger even higher and took off, tires squealing, leaving a trail of dust as he passed St. John's and sped off towards the mountains behind the college.

For a moment, everything was clear. There was only me and him. Everything else passed into the background, washed away by the sheer hatred and rage that suffused his features- those cold eyes burning into my mind where they would remain to this day, 14 years later.

I would never forget that finger.

Or that face.

Gene Hackman, you son of a bitch.



But it wasn't over . . .

To be continued

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gene Hackman You Son of a Bitch

I will be the first to admit, I've done my fair share of stupid and/or ridiculous things over the years. Most of them will, of course, make great stories at either my funeral or coronation, depending on which way the destiny cookie crumbles. There is one tale, though, that needs to be told now- the story of an innocent, naive youth and a broken, bitter man. A blood feud that spanned six years, three time zones, and too many cases of cheap beers. This, then, is the story of Gene Hackman; what happened when he pushed too hard and an entire community pushed back. Of voices that refused to be silenced, of barbed wire that refused to be left in a closet, of bad film choices that refused to be ignored.

It all started, as most things do, with a beer run.

To be continued . . .

Sunday, May 1, 2011

When Censorship is Awesome, Part III

My Rock Calls Forth The Sun

Click here for Part I

Click here for Part II

"No! No! You are demon!"

The censor glared at me censoriously and yelled at the gathering crowd in Burmese. They did what comes naturally to crowds everywhere: managed, against all physical laws, to collectively hide behind each other. The gun toter leaned against the wall, toting away calmly.

The engineer came up the steps and a hurried conversation ensued. After a few minutes and many hand gestures he turned to me.

"He say he cannot go back in with you. He say you demon. Bad luck."

I was torn. On the one hand, I was happy that my awesome vokillz had literally scared the hell out of this man- a military goon in the employ of the ruling Junta- a government as ugly as the name sounded (True story- their acronym used to be SLORC. Way greasier than COBRA). On the other hand, I wasn't allowed to record without him there. My mountain of rock was in danger of becoming a rather sissified molehill of instrumental ditherings. The crowd was pointing at me. In a corner I saw a little boy wearing no pants and a shirt that said "Orgasm Donor" (why someone would give that to the Red Cross to donate I don't . . . okay, I do. Who am I kidding? That was brilliant.) Looked at me and headbanged wildly.

Awesome.

Long story short, the censor refused to go back and our recording was delayed for a day while a replacement oppressor could be found- one who was immune to my demonic influences. All went well until, after four songs were finished, the government changed their mind. Suddenly, while finishing up "You Look Hot In That E String", the studio was rushed by MPs, a gun was pointed to my head, and I was told the recordings were "Finish."

Indeed. I managed to sneak 4 songs (out of 8) out of the studio and make 50 copies. The rest were left in the studio, which was destroyed by flooding a few months later. And thus ended my attempt at Myanmar Death Metal.

On the plus side, that Orgasm Donor shirt was kick ass.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Sting of the Feet


This is a tangent to our regularly scheduled story time, but I figured I would post an update for my legion of fan- I had been a quarter finalist in the ABNA contest (check amazon.com for details- and while you're there buy my book, you cheap bastards). The grand prize? A publishing contract with Penguin books and a 15K advance. You could buy a lot of chaps with that money . . . Anyway, from an initial field of 10,000 wide eyed entrants, I had survived all obstacles set in my way and lasted until the final 250. I did not make the latest round of cuts (narrowed down to 50), but did get a scathing review in Publisher's Weekly. Here 'tis:

"In this simplistic and unimaginative coming-of-age tale, 19-year-old Gidion will do anything to avoid returning to his uncle’s mushroom farm. He is a talented apprentice at Tain Pek Academy of Magic and Advanced Gardening, a wizards’ school in the land of Nud, but his lazy, inattentive behavior and bad grades result in an expulsion for one year. He is sent to the squalid town of Squid where he is expected to mature and prove himself in some way in order to gain reentry to the school. Almost immediately, as a result of his careless use of spells, he finds himself in jail. There he befriends Skuld, a troll, and gets drafted into the Lacrenian Royal Army whose evil aim is to destroy Tain Pek. Gidion takes this opportunity to save the day and his future. This derivative and shapeless novel is full of stereotypical characters. The jarringly inauthentic dialogue and clumsily spelled out morals frequently remove the reader from the story."

Sounds pretty bad, but it isn't the first time- when I ran for the school board back in 95 (hell, there's a good story to that one) I had tens of thousands of people not vote for me. And in the spirit of rejection, I wanted to share a quick story with you, my beloved audience of six or seven:

It was 1993- I was playing in some seedy bar somewhere (in Long Branch, I think it was) with my equally seedy band. We had one person in the audience. ONE. After the third song, they walked out, and the for the rest of the night (hell yeah we kept rocking) we played for the bartender. When we finished, he booed us.

So, things could be worse- at least now I don't have that bad Cliff Burton mustache anymore :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

When Censorship is Awesome, Part II

Note: This picture has nothing to do with the story- but seriously, look at this frikkin thing.

The first few riffs poured through the headphones. It was time for my vokillz, and when the song hit the first verse, I belted out my dulcet tones, my voice a tuneful mixture of Lemmy, that mummy from Bubba Ho-Tep, clogged drains, and a coffee grinder. I was rolling along, starting to get into it (it had been years since I used my gurglie growlie skills) when there was a commotion around my crotch area, not for the first time of course (hee hee).

The army dude jumped off of his stool, ran out of the studio, and up the stairs. His gun toting companion followed him out leisurely. I looked through the window at the engineer- he shrugged and stopped the music. Since I could not record without the army censor present, we waited around for a few minutes of awkward man on man silence. It became all too obvious that the man wasn't coming back. I shrugged and walked upstairs.

Outside was interesting. The army guy was yelling into a cell phone in Burmese while a small crowd of people gathered in front of the studio and pointed at me, talking quietly among themselves. The gun holder stood apart, against a wall- it seems like a prerequisite for that kind of career is the ability to look disinterested no matter what sort of madness unfolds in front of you. Kind of like when I have recess duty.

The censor looked up and saw me standing at the doorway. He pointed a finger and yelled. "No! No! You are demon!"

To be concluded in Part III: I fought the law, and the law stole my tapes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

When censorship is awesome, part 1

My second year living in Myanmar (where the above pic was taken) I decided to record some music, for the first time in years. Normally this would be a very boring story, even with groupies involved, because recording is always tedious when you get down to it. Buttons are pressed, things are flicked off and on, and little fiddly lights twinkle away to themselves. Very exciting if you have OCD, but not so great for the rest of us.

It is a different beast entirely, however, when you are trying to record a Death Metal album while under the thumb of the number 2 most oppressive regime in the world (but working hard at advancing up the ladder). This was the first Death Metal album ever recorded there, I found out, and one of the first albums recorded by a Westerner. Naturally, just getting permission to do this led to mind numbing levels of discussions, paperwork, and betel spit- most of the latter expelled during epic read throughs of my lyrics. Having to explain what the word "Cuddlebubba baby" means to a middle aged army officer in a dark room takes the edge off the music, I think. I will spare the details, but suffice to say I was given "advice" to do such things as add more cymbals because without them the music was "too angry." And that conversation led directly to the events I will unfold before you.

I was in a tiny recording booth, getting ready to rock my vocals (or vokillz, depending on your fratboy rating). It was rather cramped, and not just because of my overpowering front man presence. The one man rock machine had become a three way dance: I was hovering over the mic stand with a small burmese army man hunched up on a stool right next to me (his nose, incidentally, rather close to my crotch- thank God I left the chaps at home that day). Behind him a soldier held a tattered M-16. He was leaning against the wall, carrying the gun in that casual "resting across the left wrist" type of way, which has to be the most relaxed threatening pose ever. Due to the size of the room the business end of the weapon was about four feet from my head. Between that and the audible sniffling going on in the crotch zone I was going to need all the powers of Rock to get through the session.

The music came through my headphones, the little man on the stool started taking notes, the trigger finger finged, and my lungs filled with the heavy metal thunder. It was time . . .

Continued in Part 2- Demon Inside

Friday, April 1, 2011

Winds of Change (without that awesome Teutonic whistling)

So after 21 years, I shaved my head, to the confusion of many. It's a weird feeling- I keep reaching back to release the ponytail which is no longer there. Sometimes it's like I have ghost hair. Like phantom limb syndrome (look it up!) but without the depressing ramifications. On the other hand, Allison and Jeremiah did a good job in keeping me respectable, and I found out to my relief I don't have floppy ears, so that's good. And the money I will save on conditioner . . .

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My first blog entry! Blog rager starts now!

I celebrated the start of this blog by looking up what the word "blog" meant, so it's already paying dividends for me. I figured I would start this bastard up now so that it'll be a firm abbed, fueled up text machine by the time I moved to The Congo (4 months!). The picture on the left was taken whilst I was rocking a Johnny Cash song at my favorite KTV place ever, Shwegondine Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar. Check back for greasy Myanmar/Taiwan/Thailand stories.