Saturday, March 22, 2014

Three Years On . . .

Hello again, you swarthy denizens of the Rage Cage.  I hope this update finds you well.  Or at least sober and reasonably clothed.  Hell, be naked, who am I kidding?  Just don't blame me if it's one of those awkward times when your father in law walks in.  In one week's time I will be firmly ensconced in Spring Break rage and surrounded by the sun, sands, and tropical breezes of Latvia, where the beer flows like wine and sidewalks are (hopefully) more than mere suggestions.


I was not planning on doing an update this week, for two reasons.  One, my crippling laziness, and two, or three, or whatever number we're on, I've been a tad busy at work.  As we shamble towards the end of Term 3, the amount of parent meetings/phone calls/emails/passive aggressive notes/etc tend to increase as those two most dreaded of words, "summer school", begin to loom over the heads of our doe eyed charges.  And not the fun 80's sort either.



Man, if only the world worked like that.


 It's a common theme among teachers that this is the time of year when certain parents, who have ignored any and all invitations to come in and talk about their precious kiddos for the entire year, now show up with bags of demands, accusations, and imploring phrases about their child's love of education.  And conversely, of course, they all have opinions on what the teachers have been doing wrong all year which they have never thought to mention until now.  It is enough to make one cynical.  Or, if one were already a bit cynical, as most Ragers are, it would drive us further into our nihilistic despair bubble, towards a place populated by over priced sandals and unicorns with crippling gambling addictions.




He knows what I'm sayin'.



So, why are we here, then?  Well, simple, to celebrate an important anniversary, a turning point in the history of the Rage Cage!


No, not mine.  Thanks though.  For future reference, however, I will accept gift cards, beers, and new socks in lieu of other forms of tribute.


Three years ago today, I unleashed my first book on an unsuspecting world.  The Learning Curve came out to no acclaim, not much hype, and a few rather unenthusiastic reviews.  At the end of the day, though, this was a book I had been working on for years.  I started it in one country and finished it three countries later. It survived feuds with Gene Hackman, cyclones, getting hit with pointy bits, and one or two violent uprisings.Getting it out of my head and onto paper was a great experience for me, both as a writer and a frothing ego maniac.  While it didn't net me any groupies, or castles on the hill, or new pants, I get nice emails from peeps every once in a while telling me they enjoyed it (well balanced by the emails calling me a scam artist) and by now it has paid for the publishing and netted me a cool $26 in profit, so that's pretty sweet.



Profit!


Since then I have written other stories, another book was published, I did a play, and I have a few projects in the pipeline, but you never forget your first time, as they say.  What, you haven't read it yet?  A pox on you- buy it here!

Ah, cheap plugs.  Get it?  He he he.



Have a good week everybody, and see you in Latvia!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Katabasis

Well here we are again, saucy readership.  In the dead zone of late February, where most schools turn into large masses of discontented students, teachers, and sexy administrators.  Maybe it's the weather, the looming awesome specter of Spring Break, or maybe it's just that, after seven months of being locked into boxes with 30 sweaty, short people (and not in a Snow White pornographic satire kind of way), everyone is ready to snap.

Lunch detention.


I myself am also feeling the urge for a bit of a breather, surprisingly enough.  We just came back from our Italy trip and while on the whole I had a good time, I would not call it much of a success.  This is a shame  because it had to be one of the most visually pleasing countries I have been to- I think they had even more fiddly bits on their architecture then Austria did, which is quite impressive.  But, before I get to the negative and start spouting that sweet, sweet venom, here are some awesome Italy pictures to make it easier to send you into a frothing, jealous rage.




Insert leaning pun here.



Insert epic line from Gladiator here.


So what went wrong?  How could a place as wonderful as this lead to such a downward spiral?  Well, many things went horribly awry, some in rather comical ways.  We should have known some kind of cosmic tomfoolery was afoot when we stepped out of the Rome airport and headed to a bus that wasn't big enough to safely transport our students and their luggage, in spite of the fact that our numbers have been finalized for months.  Good times from the very beginning, indeed- I am not sure how many details I can disclose without losing my job, but I will encapsulate everything by saying this- we had students play fighting in the Sistine Chapel.



Insert joke about boys wrestling in the Vatican here . . . too soon?


Sigh.  Or, in Italian, "Sigh . . . ooh lasagna!  Eh-yoooo!"


We had many many issues like that swirling around the trip.  When I returned here I began to ponder on where things went wrong.  Was it my fault?  Is it possible that my abs were not up to the task?  Did these massive, glistening shoulders fail to bear the weight of responsibility?  Much like watching Inception completely sober, I was left with more questions than answers.


If anyone wants to hear my favorite story from the trip, one which summed up both the highs and lows of chaperoning these kids through one of the classiest places in Europe, buy me a beer and ask me about the human centipede.  I promise it'll be worth the cost.



Yup.  I went there.


Speaking of buying me a beer (see what I did there?), I will be in Latvia in four short weeks!  Oh, Latvia . . . lands of, um, lots of things, as lovingly highlighted in my previous column.  Once it became apparent that far and away my biggest readership is from Latvia, I have always wanted to check it out.  Also, finding out that my old Inebriation albums are still sold there (along with sexy Poland), cinched the deal.  I would love to walk into a record store (hopefully they still exist), see my stuff up on the racks, and then complain about the price, leave, and use that story to talk up exotic Latvians in bars later.  It's like the hipster version of the circle of life.



Oh God, not you again.


So with the negatives come the positives.  I learned many lessons on this last trip and now, in a few weeks, I get to hang out in Riga.  If anyone out that way (especially you sexy Estonians) want to come hang out, get in touch.  Or let me know what places I should go to for beer and (I assume) awesome Latvian sausage type things.  They probably have museums or something also.  And, apparently, shirts are optional, at least while farming, so I am pretty pumped for that.


Wish I could rock a scythe like that.

Oh, yeah, and apparently this also happens:


I think I understand everything except for the bathtub.





See you soon, you crazy Baltic sumbitches!