cockfights, Serious Shit

Dear Jerk,

Image ganked from this blog, which is actually a really nice post.

Image banked from this blog, which is actually a really nice post.

You probably saw me stammer through my phone number as I talked with the clerk at the T-Mobile counter. I was wearing a pair of jeans with an untucked button-up shirt. My wife had a maroon skirt and a simple top and our baby was wearing a blue striped zip-up and smiling her face off.

You, I remember it clearly, you had on a pair of black cargo pants and a white t-shirt, which you had tucked in. It strained to contain your tummy. Your hair was swept back, a month or two past the due date for a trim.

You stood at the counter talking politely, but firmly with the staff. At your hip a holstered pistol.

And I did it, I foisted a stereotype upon you.

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cockfights, Holy crap

There is a Zoo in Addis Ababa

“So what’s worth seeing in Addis Ababa?”

I queried an expat couple joining us for dinner. Following four days in the coffee lands near Yirgalem, Ethiopia, I had a full day ahead to wander the streets of one of Africa’s busiest capital cities before my flight took off at 2 a.m. They mentioned the usuals, including the orthodox church where Haile Selassie was interned, the Lucy Museum and more, but my interest was captured when they mentioned the Addis Ababa Zoo.

“I mean, you should see the animals there. It’s like they’re barricaded in. They aren’t even really cages.”

Of course this caught my interest. They went on to explain how bad they felt, the sad state of the animals, including the monkey doing push-ups who seemed to be suffering from some kind of mental illness brought on by small confines and limited diversions.

My reaction to the zoo reminded me of the old ‘Shitty Soup’ sketch from the Kids in the Hall. If you haven’t seen it, please watch below and join me after the jump.

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beefjerky, cockfights, hell, petpeeve

Trust

The guys in the center are the guys

“Stupid Mother F%#k! Denk an die Kinder! Stupid! Die F#$ker!”

It was a sunny, hot day in Vienna. After three coffee conference days filled with cappuccino quaffing followed with beer drinking, we headed across the Danube to the Old Danube, an oxbow of the river where Viennese gather to swim, row and sun bathe.

“So you think I can change here?” I asked as people milled around on the crowded beach, no changing rooms in sight.

My friend Anna (a Finn living in Vienna) replied in the affirmative. “Yeah, I don’t see why not. We do it all the time.”

And so I quickly yanked off my pants and in the blink of an eye pulled up my swimming trunks – literally, blink -of-an-eye, no extra jiggles, nothing – and sat back down in the grass between my friends. We began talking about the hotel where my friend stayed on the weekend and the prostitutes that gathered down the road.

All the while, in the background I could hear someone muttering.

“Mother F*#ker! F&#*ing sh*t!”

I thought they were referring to me, but it was hard to tell. Anna assured me that it was fine what I had done. There were women wandering around topless. Naked kids all over the place, and men in Speedos that left less to the imagination than if they wore nothing at all.

But the cursing got clearer and closer. Continue reading

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cockfights, duh, Holy crap, protest

Dudley writes back

Every Sunday as we trundled out of the long nap commonly known as church, the whole family would eagerly board the Blue Behemoth – our Ford station wagon – and head for Roundy’s grocery where we had our choice of candy (on some Sundays this treat was supplemented by a sweet roll of the Long John variety). When I was younger I tended toward the Skittles (when there was just one variety), Mambo or one of those other chewy, sugar concoctions.

I can’t remember when it happened, but my taste eventually matured I started looking for things with more complexity. And so it happened. Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll came into my life. A combination of sugar and salt, crunch and chew, nougat and nut that kicks the ass of nut roll competitor, Payday (don’t trust the review though, not even close).

This amazing painting by Thomas Ojanpera comes up if you search for ‘Salted Nut Rolls in history’.

According to Pearson’s random, marginally dated website, the salted nut roll “was introduced in 1933 at the height of the depression and soon changed its name to the Choo Choo Bar in an effort to distinguish it from its competitors.” Mysteriously, this amazing name was changed back to the generic Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll to help confused customers find it among a sea of competing salted nut rolls.

I like the idea of a sea of competing salted nut rolls. And salted nut roll barons looking for every single competitive edge, slicing margins, corporate espionage all just to get ahead in the cut throat nut roll world.

I really hit that candy bar around the time of high school. The way the salt just so slightly overpowered the sugar was key. Beyond that, Pearson’s had enlisted the help one of the finest mascots the world has seen, Dudley P. Nut. My sense of irony had become more keen by the time I reached high school and I found in Mr. P. Nut a perfect foil for my sweet tooth. Continue reading

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cockfights, Germany, Holy crap

Way to go, Germany

Image

Germany is a pretty swell place. A lot of crap to see here. But the recent discovery of the completely random Crouching Tiger and Turtle in the nearby town of Duisburg is the best so far. Perched on a  hill close to the end of the line in an old, musty, industrial town, the sculpture at first site online demanded a visit. And even though it’s the only thing to see/do in this neighborhood, it’s more than worth a day trip itself. Continue reading

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cockfights, hell

Turkish Bazaar and Tourism

In the Grand Bazaar

Today while walking through my 8th bazaar in Turkey I got quite sad at what was on sale and what was on display. Same, same, same. Supposedly hand-woven rugs probably made by children in China. Small painted bowls that were the same ones we saw everywhere else. Though some bore the words ‘hand-painted’ on the bottom, a small touch conferring elevated status on that particular batch.

Same, same, same.

This issue plagues every tourist haunt I’ve ever visited. A plethora of once unique items, expressions of identity and culture, are whittled down to what sells and then repeated ad nauseum throughout every shop on every street. Variations are slight to reduce loss and ensure turnover. Prices are driven down by imported copycats of ancient art forms piled haphazardly and sold as ‘handmade in Turkey by skilled artisans’.

I eventually found one antique store in Urgüp that sold something different, things he had collected and things farmers found in fields and brought in. Hanging items forced visitors to duck as they wandered. He had ancient worn books, silver pieces from the time of Caesar and old seals for waxing envelopes.  Giant key chains filled with rusted keys for doors that don’t exist anymore. Wool combs for carding and unique serving platters hand painted by people in the surrounding villages. Every nook and shelf was jammed.

I found a small silver frame that I coveted and carried it with me as he showed me everything he had available. We looked through boxes, and cigar boxes under boxes stuffed with dusty, dirty coins and Byzantine treasures.

Tea feet

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cockfights, duh, hell, petpeeve

Something Annoying

It’s been a while since I posted a good old Andy Rooney-style (“Shining your own shoes is very satisfying”) diatribe, but I just have to ask what’s with banks not wanting to take my money?

I’ve lamented this fact to friends only to be met with a shrug of indifference. But seriously friends, when I take my bucket of coins to the bank they should accept these coins joyously. It’s because these coins are money!

But in these modern times it doesn’t make sense for the bank to have a change sorting machine that they use to count my monies. No, that will cost 3 Euros. Or maybe you will have to pay 10% to have that ‘Coinstar‘ Machine. That is because your hard collected coins are not money.

This is dumb.

So this means I would have to find 300 pennies on the street and give them to you, Bank-friend, when you have a machine that can do it. But you, Bank-friend, see this revenue stream where you can not only earn interest by holding onto my monies, but you can also charge me 300 pennies to count my money that you are earning money on (Is this even what really happens? In my seething frustration, I never bothered to check and see how banks really work.).

If I was a congressman, I would probably be one of those yokels who pushes for relatively meaningless legislation like the Freund-Johnson Count My Money, Suckas Act or something and then the banks would be held accountable.

This is another reason I am not a Congressman. The other one is probably this.


*One last Andy Rooney diatribe in honor of the COP16. Hopefully the nations get together and come up with something great. In the meantime, watch Andy. Glaciers the size of Connecticut?!?!

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