Monday, November 30, 2009

Should Have Taken LSATs with You

(Hipster points if you "get" the pun in the title)

Don't you love it when a blogger begins a post with "So I haven't written in a while" as though you are totally incapable of keeping track of time? Also, don't you love the phrase "don't you love"? Is that dead yet? Can we not use that forever?

I am sensitive to cliches right now because I am reading Bonfire of the Vanities...and for a guy who is supposed to be a "great American writer," Tom Wolfe sure does lean heavily on cliches and pre-constructed phrases. But I guess that if I was going to write an 900 page novel that would be laughably-irrelevant within fifteen years, I would use a lot of cliches to pad the pages, too.

Anyway, I haven't written in a while, and the reason is, I got my hands ripped off by my pet chimpanzee. No just kidding. Close though! He's looking at me right now...sucking in air like a dying fish...


The reason is my parents, my sister (25), my best friend (since the age of 5), and his parents (ages unknown, by anyone (including God)) were in Thailand and I was playing host/tour guide/dead person.

We are going to do this remembrance thing backwards, just like Memento, except funnier and with more 1920s minstrel show-style racism.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30 - Part 1 : Should Have Taken LSATs with You

I woke for good this morning at 6:30 A.M., to take what would officially be my third diarrhea of Monday November 30 (1st: 12:15, 2nd: 2:30--and yes, both times I woke up from sleep to go liquid bum-spray). (Also like Memento, you have to wait to see why I had diarrhea--SPOILER ALERT: exhaustion/dehydration can come with diarrhea (side-note: so can butt pain)).

Post-flush I staggered out onto the beach at Koh Ngai, a tiny island off the coast of Trang, which itself is a small undeveloped town about four hours from Phuket (pronounced Poo - ket, like a combination of "poo bucket," which is essentially my opinion of Phuket). I watched the sun rise over the high rock formations and the aqua green water--I and four Germans, of course--before I had to retreat back to the bathroom. By that time, though, Gregg had emerged to watch the sunrise too, so the beautiful damn thing wouldn't go unwatched by American-made eyes (Ford tough, heaviest doors on the pickup truck market)

Quick buffet breakfast, caught the 8 AM 45 minute speed-boat from the island back to the mainland of Trang. Our minivan picked us up and sped away toward Phuket Airport, driving on the wrong side of the road at all opportunities (to pass cars, to pass trucks, to avoid running over leafs, etc.) but no one really minded. The van ride back to Phuket Airport was much more enjoyable than the van ride from Phuket Airport, during which I curled up into a ball, all of my limbs sore and stiff, my lungs in too much pain to breathe through, and I slept feverishly the entire way, waking up once, getting at Doctor Mom's urging a bottle of water which I never drank and a carefully selected pack of crackers that my sister ended up eating because I couldn't/wasn't hungry despite having eaten only half a soft pretzel all day.

Friday's post is going to be fun!

Anyway, much more enjoyable ride back to Phuket than leaving Phuket. Greg was listening to some kind of farm noise sampler, as far as I could tell from his headphones. I managed to fall asleep for about thirty minutes. I dreamed about being rich, like I always do. I woke up having to go diarrhea. I had eaten one of Leslie's anti-diarrheal pills earlier, and I am here to declare that ANTI-DIARRHEAL PILLS ARE BULLSHIT, MAN. Because I took two pills and I went diarrhea more than twice afterwards.

After interrupting the janitors clean-up service in the men's room toilets at Phuket International (sorry, ladies, for everything), I met up with the family and Greg (his parents had already gone to Bangkok) for a final meal. We chose Chester's, which was chosen despite, or perhaps because of, my description of it as the Thai Denny's. I got a chicken filet sandwich. It tasted like Checker's, I guess. I gotta eat. I also gotta diarrhea afterwards.

Are you catching the leitmotif here? Or perhaps it's more of a darkmotif--a brown-motif--a Shite-motif, if you will.

We hugged goodbye. No one cried in front of anyone else that I know about. Though I know there was crying.

It was 1:20. My parents and family went to their flight. My ticket counter didn't even open until 2, and my flight was at 4. I sat down next to an old Thai person in the ticketing terminal at Phuket International Airport, and I waited, hoping that no liquid would leave my body in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

News and Notes, Febtober Eleventieth

-Last night I skateboarded over to the CMU reservoir to catch the meteor shower. There were clouds all over the sky though, so I couldn't see the stars from any angle, no matter which way I Leonid.

-On the skateboard ride home, going downhill at a pretty good speed, I ran over a pebble. My skateboard stopped but I did not. I landed on my left knee first, followed by my hips and hands, followed by stomach (OOF). I screamed Oh shit, but there was no one there to corrupt.

The last time I can remember similar pain was back when I was 14 or 15, on the trampoline in the backyard (Here comes a story you never heard, Mom and Dad!). I was trying to do a gainer--like you jump forward into a back flip--which I did all the time. So I positioned myself at the edge of the trampoline, facing inward toward the center, and I got good air and jumped up to do my backflip. Problem was, I didn't also jump forward so that I would land in the middle of the trampoline...I just jumped straight backward. I landed feet first on the ground next to the trampoline...and simultaneously stomach-first on the metal frame of the trampoline. OOF. Luckily, my intense, intense pain was not captured by videocamera, or else surely this would have won a prize on America's Funniest Home Videos, or its Sagetless cousin, YouTube.

Anyway, I was able to skateboard home with some effort (neither the board nor I are in great shape at this point), but today, um, I could barely walk without intense pain in my knee. Stairs are out of the question...I sort of have to skip or hop, with lots of momentum to get up them. I am most comfortable sitting with my leg outstretched, which is problemaic when eating with someone or near anyone.

I walk like an old man now--slowly, holding onto railings, pooping my pants whenever I feel the urge.

-I saw 2012 today in theaters. Did you know it was 3 hours long? I did not know it was going to be 3 hours long.

My thoughts? It was about what I expected: the greatest movie of all time.

-A noodle stand lady today thought it was hilarious that I didn't know the Thai word for "dumplings." Har har har.

-If you have ever wondered what a Guangzhou traditional old dwelling looks like, I now have professional photographic evidence as to what a Guangzhou traditional old dwelling looks like.

So here's to Guangzhou traditional old dwellings: and here's to my Guangzhou traditional old fellow.

By whom I of course mean Gristle.

Friday, November 13, 2009

And now this happens

Just as Elena and I were talking about how much we are going to miss Chiang Mai: this happens.

I wrote about those almost daily indelible classroom moments in yesterday's post (moments frozen in time (no, I will not think of that Lightman story (No, I will not let this make me eat (linked nesting dolls (have you read Lost in the Funhouse? And do you like the band Sunn0)))?))))), and then today I had another one.

I was talking to some freshymen before class about Sports Day (Thai: Sah-Port Daaaay), which is tomorrow, and which features all of the students divided by department in a university-wide intramural athletic competition.

Now, if you don't play one of the sports--and most don't--you are a cheerleader, so you have to learn dances and songs with your group.

I had heard that the departments learned really weird songs--Mass Communications, for example, learned "All That Jazz" and "Hey, Big Spender"--and so I asked my nursing freshymen what songs they had learned. They had learned 3:

1. Hush, Hush - The Pussycat Dolls
2. Single Ladies - Beyonce
3. A Whole New World - Aladdin

Now, I don't know if they are actually using these songs to cheer on their classmates--I can't imagine anything less inspiring than trying to complete a long running race and hearing "I can SHOW you the world..." coming from the finish line--but I do not that they know all the words to said song.

I asked them to sing for me--they were reluctant at first, but then I told them they could leave early if they sang--and they absolutely wailed out "A Whole New World," and it was sooooo precious, these 20 little freshymen (18 girls) rocking back and forth in their desks, and holding hands, and occasionally clapping on the 1s and 3s, and just eyes-closed BELTING this Disney classic.

It was so cute, you guys.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Unforgettable, That's What You Are. Also, A Pedophile.

So I had a couple of moments at CMU (note to Googlers: not Carnegie Mellon or Central Michigan) that I do not think I will ever forget.

First, I ran into one of my old freshymen, a little plumpster named Bo, outside one of the dining halls and we were talking about how she didn't like her teacher because he talked too fast. I was giving her suggestions on how to ask him to slow down, when all of a male freshman in his little purple tie comes up to me and goes, "Excuse me, can I help you?"

"With what?" I asked.

"Who are you?" he asked me, suspicious.

"I am her old teacher."

"Oh!" he said, then he bowed quickly and ran away.

Just another in an ego-crippling series of incidents in which people mistake me for a child molester.

But what I will really never forget happened in the class, and I am happy to announce that, for once, I made it through a class without being accused of pedophilia.

So today I started playing the songs from the Pitchfork Top 500 of the Last Decade. And in the first class that I did it, I totally surprised them--they thought we were doing straight workbook activities--and they were super happy. So I dimmed the lights, projected the lyrics to "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" onto the screen, and played The Arcade Fire.

It was a special moment. Lazy sports columnists always talk about electricity in the air, and it is all I can think of, too. Just tons of giggling and absolute astonishment--at the quality of the song or at the fact of the exercise, I don't know. But it felt great.

I haven't gotten the results back yet, but my predictions:

First Place: Beyonce "Crazy in Love"
Last Place: Radiohead "Idioteque" headline: "Women and children last."


Some other images from today I can't get out of my head:

Prae in the front row, in the semi-darkness, mouthing the words "Four words and adobe slats...for my girls" each time they were sung in the Animal Collective song.

The way Nim pointed at her watch to complain about how long "One More Time" by Daft Punk was; the way she started dancing in her seat when Crazy in Love came on.

Oh, also, today I used the projector that attaches to the computer in one of my rooms for the first time ever, as the Whiteboard was out of markers.

What a mistake to have never used it early:

When I started typing, my students started FREAKING OUT at how fast I was typing. Nop was doing his best impression of me--sitted straight up, my fingers moving a thousand miles an hour, the keys making a noies like "Bop bop bop bop bop"--and for an awful reason I could only think of Sacha Baron Cohen in the opening credits to the TV version of Borat, when he shows how to use a cell phone, and there are no wires ANYWHERE AROUND IT, you can just talk!

Anyway, they looked at me like I was a wizard, a genius. I think I am going to use that contraption every class from now on, just to remind them all who is boss, and who can type really, really fast.

Ajarn Jason, bitch.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Forget Print Media: Maybe News Is Dying

Here is the Main Headline and Other Highlights for right now, according to my International Edition of

Main Headline
"Death shows footballers are human too"
[Life continues to prove that they are robots?]

Other Site Highlights (I am not cherry-picking: these are all six)
"When actresses dress down"
"'Possessed' flock to Kenya pastor"
"Mood mapping and bipolar disorder"
"Latest sports news in 60 seconds"
"Rugby spurned as Kiwis go soccer crazy"
"Carrie Prejean takes your questions"

Note: Carrie Prejean is apparently a former Miss California who may have lost the Miss America pageant just because she hates gay people. When asked what she thought of gay marriage:

Well I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And, you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman.

Do you think it's great that people can choose one way or another?

To paraphrase Colin Quinn on Weekend Update: Thank you, Carrie. We all look forward to hearing the rest of your opinions at the next boat show.

Now, you may be thinking, "All of this fluff is presented only because nothing significant is happening in the World on this November 11 eve. Slow news day."

Right? [Seriously, when is Venezuela not declaring war on people and mobilizing their military? They're like the boy who cried Lobo] [I wonder what Carrie Prejean's favorite brand of yogurt is?] [Whatever, this happens all the time.] [A minor coup.]

Really though, what does happen when actresses dress down? Does it cause a mudslide that kills 130 people in El Salvador?




Wait, I love this, from the Wikipedia page on Carrie Prejean:

On June 15, 2009, the Empowering Spirits Foundation, a national LGBT civil rights organization issued a press release asking for the LGBT community to "move forward and engage in respectful dialogue." A. Latham Staples, the foundation's executive director, was quoted as saying, "Demeaning Carrie Prejean or others by using terms such as bigot will not advance our cause of civil rights and social justice. The LGBT community must use this period of heightened attention on LGBT issues by engaging others in positive ways.” Staples went on to wish Prejean "much success in her future endeavors."[20][21]

Prejean returned the favor by thanking A. Latham Staples and fully reciprocating his warmth, identically wishing him "much success in his own future endeavours."

"Unless those future endeavours involve getting married to another man," she clarified. "In which case, fuck you."

And the Wahn are not Im enough, Part 2

Isn't it funny how life passes you by? Like, one day you look down, and when you look up, a song by "The Richman Toy" called "Grapbao Baan Fan Yim" was your most-played song for the month of October?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Good Morning PiA

I want to start off by saying Good Morning! to PiA staff, who have known about this blog all the time! I am Keyser Soze! Spoiler alert!

Now, they had been silently following this blog for several months, but PiA employee/musical theater triple-threat Megan McGowan revealed to me that she was an Internet wizard and had been reading this not-necessarily-complimentary blog for some time. Luckily, they are not my actual employers, so they can't terminate my contract for the many moral and ethical lapses I've shown on this site.

Or maybe they can? I don't know.

Well, Megan, continuing the theme of surprising emails, I wanted to find an email from you from awhile back, and, well, I had frankly forgotten that our years in Triangle overlapped for about four months. And because our years in Triangle overlapped for about four months, I also have about four months of Triangle Spam from you.

This is favorite:

Hey Party People - Big ups to the cast, crew, writers, and Louis of the spring show [Rude Olympics 8] - it was awesome!!  Bring your friends/roommates/potential hookups - it's the most sexual thing Triangle has produced in a while.  And hysterical!

Mmm...all this fantastic musical theater makes me thirsty.  Somebody tell me where/when I can get shittarded in your honor this weekend :)

Congrats!  You should all be really proud!
Love, Meegs
I post this not to embarrass Megan, because she seems fairly unembarrassable, but because I want to ask other PiAers reading this blog: can't you see, in this email, the seeds of how Megan would fit in EXACTLY with Anastasia and Leslie? How often did we hear about "potential hookups" at orientation? Or about drinking a lot?

Also, I wrote for Rude Olympics 8, and I can say with some certainty that I had nothing to be proud about, and that it was most certainly not hysterical.

It was super sexual though. Remember when Rory as Freshman girl got humped from behind by Laundry Room Rapist James Park? That was me! Meeeeeeee!!

What will be, will be. Or, uh, what was, is.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What the Berlin Wall Means to Me, Jason Gilbert

"What the Berlin Wall Means to Me, Jason Gilbert"

I know there was a wall, and a fall,
And an East and a West,
And good guys and bad guys.

I know one of the sides wore hats,
Or combed their mustaches a certain way,
Or had stars on their bellies.
That's why they needed a wall.

There was a question about it on a history test
I took when I was in high school
When we had to know about these things.
I can't remember the question, exactly:
Something about a metaphor.

Oh, one time I watched part of a documentary about the Berlin Wall.
Geraldo Rivera stood next to it for a few hours,
Reporting live from East Berlin, or West Berlin.
Apparently he thought that when the wall finally fell
There was going to be treasure on the other side.

There wasn't any treasure, but you couldn't tell by
The way people were celebrating.

Boundary Collapse

So the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago, and to commemorate (cash in on?) it, the New York Times got some notable international poets to pen some words.

New Jersey poets don't fare well---there is something inauthentic about Mark Doty's poem, and does anyone else find C.K. Williams' piece to be almost unreadable? And that his overwroughtness ["So we raised even more walls!" spake Zarathustra]  is made silly-looking by Vera Pavlova's understated, almost flip tone directly beneath?--but Europe does. As we all know, literature is about endlessly comparing and ranking writers and their works in terms of object greatness, so I am going to go ahead and say that my favorite is "The Missing Language," followed by "Rememberance of a Yugoslav."

The whole project is for nought, though. The best poem about the Berlin Wall was written 50 years before the wall's construction. Something there is that doesn't love histrionic poetry...

Mending Wall
Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'

Some Absurd Highlights from Thailand Today

-Talking with Molly Z, (Frida Mahlo) I realized that not only do I have a student nicknamed Poon (and oh, do I ever have a student named Poon, ya'll), but that her proper first name is Passaporn.

-I also realized that I have a ladyboy named Nut. It is the fourth week of class. It took me four weeks to realize that one of my students is a ladyboy named Nut. How long have I been living in Thailand?

-For some reason one of the books mentioned the 1960s pop song "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." I was walking out of class listening to my iPod, and I put on that song. One of my students, a big guy named Wat ("Temple") was smiling at me, so I asked him if he wanted to listen to "Can't Take My Eyes Off of Y ou"

"No thank you, Teacher," he said, waving me off. "I prefer Slipknot."

-If you ever wondered what my Thai students thought of Pitchfork's Top 10 songs of the last 10 years, you are in luck. I found an open day in my schedule this week. Preliminary prediction: get ready for some real Radiohead hatred.

-This one is for a different Molly (hint: her last name rhymes with absolutely nothing, like all of the girls named Molly I know (appr. 70)): I took some more dog photos. After the jump:

Oh hello.

Guardian of the TOEFL gate.

Night ranger.

Unlike every dog in the history of Thailand, this one likes the smell of my skateboard.

I spot a dalmatian!

You can run, but you can't hide! Unless you run, in which case I have no chance.

Sad eyed doggie of the lowlands.

Stop it.


Ah, me too.

I'm just gonna let that one bathe in the moonlight (anyone?) and call it a night. Later, skaters.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Upon Later Reflection

I forgot to ask an important question at the end of my overly snarky Taxonomy of Losers post, which climaxed with a series of queries as to the origin and disposition of the disgusting White Man in Farang.

What do these men think of me?

Warped Perspective

This is what Thailand has done to me:

Today I was at the Sunday Walking Street, a large market with many foreigners, and--where there's smoke--foreigners with young Thai wives.

I was sitting down getting a foot massage, facing out toward the street and people-watching, when I saw an older white man, balding, gray hair shaved around his baldness, looking at some stalls with his young Thai wife. But this girl was so young that I was particularly disgusted. From the side, she had the not-yet-formed breasts and scrawny legs and arms of a ten-year-old--I suddenly feared that she was a bought child bride.

And then they looked toward me. The girl was white, too. Her mother was standing right behind her. She was the daughter of the white man. They were just a family of three, tourists on vacation in Chiang Mai.

I shook my head and leaned back in my chair and sank into self-pity: who is more to blame, me or the city?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Now That the Venom is Gone...

Now that the venom is gone, let's get lighthearted.

Ther other day I saw one of my students who is also my friend on Facebook. Apropos of nothing, she asked me:

"Mr. Jason! I saw on your Facebook that you give the speak at Class Day. But why was everyone laughing?"
"Why was everyone laughing? I think it was supposed to be a funny speech. Did you understand?"
"I understood...some words. Like, you say something about eating something three times a day?"
"...Yes, at Princeton, we have a beer called Beast..."
"Yes, Beast."
"Good. So we have a beer called Beast, and it is free, and everyone drinks it all the time. So I made a joke about that."
"What is Beets like?"
"It's like Chang, except it does not taste as good. Very cheap."
"Why do people drink Beets?"
"I don't know. Because it's free."


"Why did you give a speech? Are you an important man?"


"What do you want to be when you leave Chiang Mai?"
"I think I want to be a writer."
"I think you should be a newsanchor."
"No, I am not beautiful enough to be a newsanchor."
"I know, but you have a good voice."


Anyway, here is once again my greatest only accomplishment, which I will never pass on an opportunity to share.

Taxonomy of Losers

I took advantage of being really drunk early in the afternoon tonight by not drinking that much on a Saturday evening, and thus, Leigh, I was able to observe, with equal parts repulsion, shame, and ashamed repulsion, the various white man-creatures that arrive in Thailand in hopes, I can only assume, of finally finding out what a woman's skin feels like.

Yes, I went to a bar populated fairly heavily by loser Farang. I was there with Thai people, though, so it was okay that I was there; and also, let's face it, compared to these other Chunks (from "The Goonies"), I'm freaking Shaft. So allow me some superiority while I snark it out here on the old blog:

First there was a man about thirty years old, in a white button down shirt tucked into his khakis, who would have looked normal--nay, even good-looking, by Thai standards (cheat sheet: he was skinny and didn't have a harelip)--if he hadn't taken it upon himself to dance to the live music and reveal himself to be the spazziest nerdlinger this side of Dorkville. Watching him dance, it looked like his neck was independent from the rest of his body, which I didn't even think was possible. Also, maybe he was like the kid from Rookie of the Year, but he seemed incapable of dancing with his arms below his head, constantly opting for the "Shaking Two Maracas Next to My Ears" move that is so flattering to---uh--monkeys, maybe.

Anyone who is that bad at dancing, who voluntarily dances by himself, in Thailand, cannot possibly have any social skills whatsoever, right, and must be the laughingstock of the club, right?

Wrong. You've met the Fonz, now meet Richie Cunningham...'s baby with Down Syndrome.

I always thought that Shrek was based on a flight of fancy, but based on two of the men I saw at Riverside tonight, now I'm not sure. It's not because they looked like ogres, which they did, nor because they were fat with their bellies hanging out over their cargo shorts, which they were, but because when they moved they left a slime trail behind them, which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Shrek that I recall, but bare with me, because these are the men--and I wish I had a Kodachrome for you, Thomas--that ruin Thailand.

Edmund White talked often about dialogue and descriptions being too "on the money," which, contrary to most of our economic beliefs, is a bad thing. When a snatch of conversation or a character is too "on-the-money," it means that it is too perfect, or cutesy, or staged--that a character like that could not exist, or that thing could not be said in real life, or that you have written a stereotype.

Out of what page of cliched high school drivel did these mutants crawl? What bubbling ooze created such men, with their focused, head-bobbing leers, their corner-lurking, their petite dissatisfied girlfriends and wives with the longing looks and the death countdowns--when did certain parts of Thailand become the enactions of  an Upstate New York Summer Writers Workshop?

Or maybe I should not be so Gabby Garcy, drop the magic and keep the realism and ask:

What produced these men? What really, really, really caused them to happen? And how, how can we stop it, these awful conditions, those contemptible paths of life, these men, these men, these men?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Check out my package(s)

Guess what arrived in the mail, not a fortnight late?

A translation, for those of you who don't speak French like I do (from left):

Lady 1: Garsh! Quit the quacking, Dork.
Lady 2: Illness is a trope, but my foot is a banana.
Old Man: He's toying. The point of this lane is to nest my ham Air Conditioner.
Big Caption: Bone Annie!! (too soon, Callie?)

Not pictured: the 7 Baht delivery charge I had to pay. I will assume that 21 cents is C.O.D., Fannie and Andrew?

You may be laughing, but that is actually 15% of my monthly salary.

So, now, before I do it in private, I want to publically thank Janet P. Dobkin, Calliope the Fervorous, and Fannie and Andrew, for their kind, excellent, and in some cases (okay, one case) delicious. When I received these packages, they seriously made my day--oh, there must be a better descriptor for it--when I received your packages, I smiled, and I felt light, and I continued to smile and feel light for many many hours afterwards. Thank you.

As for the rest of you: I will still accept the embarrassingly slow Thai postal system as an excuse for why your presents have not arrived yet. But only for about three more weeks, at which point you can start feeling guilty.

I hope they don't ask for ID

Last night at Berlin Bar, one of my favorite local holes at which to water, I ordered 3 Chang Beers, as is my wont. They brought out the first two beers, and I was working on those two when the bar closed. Because Berlin is awesome, they gave me a voucher for another beer that I can use whenever.

Um, unfortunately, I believe I confounded those poor waitresses with my first name...

My two waitresses, by the way, were third-year students at Chiang Mai University. One of them, Bamboo, was complaining to me that she had gotten a D in her English class the previous semester. I had told her that I was sure she would have gotten an A in my class because her English was so good.

Now I am not so sure.

Irrelevant Asshole Pitchfork Quote of the Day

From Ian Cohen's review of Maps' Turinng the Mind:

"I could go on trying to nail down what his electronically composed, beat-minded UK singer-songwriter format seeks to accomplish, but I'll just leave it at this: I've heard no less than three of his songs at a Banana Republic or someplace similar."

God forbid.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm about to make an expensive mistake.

In re: Skateboarding around Chiang Mai:

My tolerance for being sweaty whenever I end up at a destination has reached its "tipping point," as Malcolm Gladwell would have it.

(Brief interlude, if you'll allow me to namedrop: at the Princeton Creative Writing Dinner/Bacchanalia last year, Eugenides asked us for an author that we saw a lot of Princeton students read and knew, something literary or intellectual and contemporary that most students still read. I offered up Malcolm Gladwell, as I saw a lot of people with Tipping Point and Blink, and his new book (something about genius, I think) had just come out.

Eugenides looked at me like I had just farted in his mouth. He said "Really?" and then just kept on shaking his head slowly, looking down at the table. I've often considered that perhaps the correct answer to that question was "Jeffrey Eugenides," but in all honesty Gladwell is still the first name that comes to mind for me. Anyway, moral of the story: Jeffrey Eugenides hates Malcolm Gladwell and his tipping point pop-psychology bullshit).

Uh. So I don't want to skateboard anymore. I was walking around Thaphae Gate area last night and saw an absolutely SICK motorcycle for sale. It's 20 years old, and it's a beast. Only 10,000 Baht, could probably talk it down to at least 9. Only problem is, I can't drive a manual and this is a manual.

But, you know, I have the money for it, and I came to Thailand to try new things. And I guarantee I will NEVER drive a cooler vehicle than this thing ever again. And if I pass it up I will just kick myself for the next five months for being such a wuss and not learning how to drive manual...bleh, I don't know. My boy Ohm's got an APB out for a cheap automatic motorbike (probably in the 8ish range), and if he doesn't come through big time, I think I am going to make an expensive mistake.

Let's call it the present I am buying myself for my soon-to-be premier in published media, a column in the venerable and venerated pages of the Princeton Alumni Weekly. Will update as payment/injuries commence.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

God I miss my students

From Ping (of Ping Gift and Kham fame)

hello teacher

how r u ?

Eng 204 is difficult  = ="

& i can't understand what my teacher say = =

miss you so much


have a good dream

Non Sequitur, or Funniest Comeback Ever?

Check out my Facebook status, and then my student's response:

Jason O. Gilbert I sweat for three seconds and my T-shirt smells like Cream of Mushroom soup. How does this happen?

about an hour ago ·  · 
Raknajoopjoop Joop
Merry Loykatong festival
3 minutes ago · Delete

Halloween in Thailand

My mom asked me the other day if spending my favorite holiday away from America for the first time would make me more homesick than usual; I didn't think so, but this was before I was a big white toga-wearing nipple-showing spectacle of a Farang hulking around the clubs of Chiang Mai.

Someone missed a memo here. The Thais, they KNOW it's Halloween, but they weren't dressing up; and me, I probably should have gone with something more...conservative? I don't know. The bed sheet gyro is cheap to pull off, and I found some leaves outside my apartment building that made a perfect laurel headpiece, and so I decided to go with it. When my Thai friend Van came to pick me up to go to a party at his friend's house, he saw me and said "What the fuck?!" and then said "You sure you want to go like that?"

This after riding the elevator with five snickering old Thai ladies.

Well, based on the elevator reaction, I didn't want to push my luck so I went to the Farang Halloween party, where I, um, fit in more. I rode on a motorbike with my friend Charles, who was dressed as a cowboy, and, with him in his cowboy hat and tight jeans, and me wearing a revealing toga, we were, for five glorious minutes, the two gayest-looking men in Thailand.

When we left the Farang house party and went out to greet and treat the unsuspecting populace, it was one "Look at the Farang!" after another. One drunk guy just came up to me, patted me on the shoulder, gave me a thumbs up, and then walked away. Two girls asked me if they could put makeup on me. Sure, why not. I woke up this morning with two black crosses on my cheeks and eyeliner and mascara. This may or may not have been related to the two girls putting makeup on me. Who really knows.

Overall though, if you are wondering, "Do Thai people dress up for Halloween?" or "If I am a tall fat Farang living in Thailand, should I dress up for Halloween?" I would say that the answer is No, unless you like to be pointed and generally gawked at.

Which I do, of course, because I'm a raging egoist.