Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fucking Disgusting

I don't generally get political and definitely don't get into Israeli stuff on this blog- i leave that to Yaeli but this story caught my eye earlier. It's about a lad named Samir Kuntar. Samir, a famous freedom fighter, struck a blow for his oppressed brothers by, as the blogger Sandmonkey puts it,

the coastal town of Nahariya, the terrorists shot dead a policeman and
forced their way into an apartment building, where they captured Danny
Haran and his daughter, Einat, 4.

While the terrorists rampaged
through the apartment, firing weapons and detonating grenades, Haran's
wife Smadar hid in a crawlspace above the couple's bedroom together
with their other daughter, two-year-old Yael, and a neighbor.

an effort to prevent Yael from crying out and alerting the terrorists
to their whereabouts, Smadar kept her hand over the child's mouth, and
accidentally smothered her to death.

Meanwhile Kuntar and his group took Danny and Einat Haran to the beach.

according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so
that his death would be the last sight she would ever see," Smadar
wrote later.

"Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar."

Two years ago, Samir's pals kidnapped three Israeli soldiers, and have been proposing a trade. No, not exchanging the soldiers for Samir: Rather, as CNN put it ""We'll have a final answer when they are returned," Regev said of whether they were alive or dead." In other words, Samir's release will secure information on whether these guys are even alive. What a deal! I could understand [not accept]. releasing Samir in exchange for the soldiers. They have families after all. But that's not the deal. The deal is releasing Samir in exchange for confirming whether the soldiers are even alive. Assume, best case, that they are. Will they be released? No. But maybe, somewhere, another child killer can be released in exchange for the soldiers.

If they haven't died by then.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I want what they have

So after eating some sushi in the Japanese restaurant that employs the other resident Heeb of Lafayette, I settled in to watch Harold and Kumar go to white castle. Take it from someone who has never touched a joint, it was still an awesome movie- and one I could definitely relate to. There is a moment when Harold and Kumar watch their Jewish neighbors scarfing down some hot dogs and Harold says "I want what they have." It's what Jews said 40 years ago. And no, its not about the hot dogs.

A good many years ago (not 40), I went to a fast food place that was similar to the hot dog joint in the movie. The food sucked, but that was beside the point. Everything was a production: from getting a drink ("Water please." "Wa...what?") to a menu ("You want a menu?") to ordering. Actually, I didn't get to ordering because by that time I was so pissy, I just up and left. And, partly because of that day and partly because of many, MANY similar days, I never set foot in Johnny Rockets again. But yeah. I want what they have.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose: at least here

My quasi reintegration began when the great state of Louisiana, ecstatic over a bit of unexpected state funding, posted an ad on Linguistlist, hoping for a few adventurous souls to hop on down and do a Ph.D. Yours truly, then sampling Slovakian cuisine, was one of the applicants. This was so since he wanted a doctorate very muchly and the offer- free tuition and a graduate assistantship stipend- was greatly to his liking. However, your intrepid reintegrationst was mindful of the fact that because the docs didn't do such a hot job at his delivery and left him with hand tremors and a shitty memory, he would need accommodations to make it through school. In fact, Northwestern U. had mentioned that he should stay away from them for this exact reason. And so, taking the risk that he would be left to munch on carbs for another year, he sent off his many medical documents with his application.

But behold, if you will, a letter of acceptance which led to a hastily arranged departure from the quasi-motherland, leaving behind his 90something grandmother [whom he was very fond of- a rarity for him] to sample the delights, savory and otherwise of his newly adopted home state. Of course, he was used to adopting new homes, but that's neither here nor there.

And so it is, that he arrived on a rainy summer day, to the warm southern hospitality of the only other New York Jew on the premises, an anti-social lad who liked the idea of helping much more than helping. And in 2 days time, faced, again, with homelessness, he secured a place on campus, but not the place that most locals thought an "international student" [which he is not- which is neither here nor there] should occupy. Though a grad student, he was given a roommate- another international student. [The university housing survey's first item? Ethnicity. The Louisiana voter registration form's penultimate question? Religious affiliation.]

Sadly, all was not entirely well in La La Land. That accommodation thingie? Never happened. Of course there was a chat or three with one of the professors, which is how your intrepid academic wanker learned, much to his surprise, that his English may not be good enough for graduate school. The first semester ended on a definite downer, having secured a C+ average- not what grad school calls for by the way- and nearly getting kicked out.

Fear not though, for a letter high on legal mumbo jumbo earned a trip back to the cauldron of higher education. Sadly, some were displeased by this show of gumption and responded by saying many mean things about yours truly, and, much more importantly, setting about screwing him over grade wise. Which he does not appreciate. At all. So, for example, when his class ended after ten weeks without a single grade, only to learn, one day before the deadline, that he had failed, your newly minted Louisianan got grouchy enough to file all sorts of papers. (He got even more grouchy when learning that the lad who admitted him has been demoted from his position and that a friend of his was threatened by the faculty.)

And so it is, that your earnest blogger is once again on the outside of the tent, pissing in, rather than inside the tent, pissing out. This is quite liberating however. For example, I now wear a yarmulke, confident that my situation here can't detoriate any further. Should anyone ask why I do not live with the international students, or why I haven't been to church, or where I am from and when am I leaving [all questions I have gotten] I am free to respond with a stream of dirty words I have not previously uttered but very much wanted to, especially to the young man who still does not know my name but insists that I attend bible study.

Freedom rocks. The insecurity that brings about said freedom? Meh.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Another close one?

I don't have any stories like this myself- and for this i am incredibly, incredibly grateful- but my godfather had a bunch and now a former classmate of mine is on his very own pregnancy death watch.

T, a lad with flowing auburn locks, whose Marine background prepared him superbly for the Poland-based Masters program we met in, a Masters program where we lived on the edge of penury for two years, a Masters program ran, on the local level, by a crooked priest who tried to sell us on an excellent tax evasion scheme- you know, that kind of program, the EFL kind- has, unlike most other males, stopped counting the number of women he bedded [i never even started that count but then, i AM weird]at 100. One of them was one of my former students in Poland. T, ever the student deflowerer, was also seen in the company of a well endowed lady whom i was briefly in lust with until i heard her speak. He then relocated to the swamps of New Orleans, three hours due east of my cosy spot. An amiable wanderer, he lives- in stark terror at the moment- in an elevated house in the garden district. Sharing his abode, on a hopefully temporary basis is a perky midwestern fundamentalist who, bless her sheltered heart, was taken in by his considerable non-fundamentalist charms. I thought the whole thing rather peachy- she did grate on me, at one point inviting me to "a real American church" [why not a sham one God?]- but i cut her youthful spirit some slack and am a sucker for domestic bliss anyhow.

Sadly, all is not well, as John Lennon, imagining a world with no religion, is not liked by the potential Mrs T. She IS only 22 though, so perhaps with time, she may open up to new experiences. Until then though, I gotta conceal my devil worshipping. She also imagines teaching overseas, which should be a real eye-opener for her so I totally encourage that. Not in the Medina though.

T himself seems to be running out of patience and no wonder- his whole world in perfect harmony pitch, while totally awesome from my perspective, is not going to find a happy audience with Mrs. T. But who knows? A few years in East Bumfucktownia, Africa, may do wonders. And I say this with total, absolute, sincerity. 22 is way too young to be absolutely certain of everything.I am seriously hoping that T sticks it out for a bit, because, as Uncle Kracker would say "You polished up my halo
And I dirtied up your soul"-- that would actually be healthy all around.


I always wind up surrounded by guys with names like Smitty or Bucky. I don't know why this is so. While in Memphis, I averaged a car wreck every six months and was tended to by Smitty, a jovial six foot tall tobacco chewer. Decked out in overalls and a baseball cap, he took a liking to me that was dampened only by the following convo:

"You go to church little man?"
" but I go to a synagogue if that makes you feel better."
"Nah. Go to church little man."

I declined and while we got on fine, I sensed a definite chill. The newest clone is Bucky, manager of the local computer repair shop. Since my screen is busted, I have been waiting for a replacement since mid-May. Various screen-related convos included:

"Is the screen ready?"
"Uhhh...I uhhh asked for the replacement but ordered the wrong part."
"Well my eyes are really bad and I can't read them little numbers."

"Is the screen ready?"
"Waiting for the delivery."
"Since when?"
"Why..ummm...last week."

"Is the screen ready."
"It will be. Totally."

It is moments like this- and there are many moments like this- when I consider salmon fishing in Alaska.

Oh and something educational is brewing as well, but this being an uber small town, I'll hold off on blogging it. I also have an interview next week for a Project Manager position. That's right. Being a Bossy Hermit. In Joisey no less.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My rap career is on hold

Because I can't compete with these guys.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

So true

I found this funny story online and had to post it:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family. The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs...I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?"

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your grandchildren, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A first lady, two stalkers and a pothead walk into a Korean restaurant....

True, the wicked witch of the west [or east] is gone. But in her wake, we can savor this tidbit about her marriage/business partnership:

"During the early Clinton years, political adviser Paul Begala, who had spent countless hours on the road with the couple during the 1992 campaign, told friends he had discovered the secret of their relationship: Both looked at each other in mystery at how the other person had married someone so undeserving."

In quasi-related political news, I trekked up to Memphis recently at the invitation of a friend who had taught at the same "University" [deliberate quotation marks] that I did when gathering my M.Ed. Said "University" was located in southern Poland, spread out over two campuses, one in Czestachowa and one in Gliwice. Serenly looked upon by myriad statues of Catholic figures (such as the Virgin Mary) and presided over by a crooked priest who tried to sell us on a really excellent tax evasion scheme, the "University" was endowed with a library that didn't allow books to be loaned out and an administration that had no idea what scheduling classes meant. Still, a good enough time was had by all, especially the young lady who called me at 4 AM one morn to confess her love for "teacher." Adorable in a certain psycho way. In a few years she may be fatal attraction material.

And speaking of fatal attraction, Glenn Close proved timeless when my former hometown's Congressman, Steven Ira Cohen [Yes. Really] compared Glenn's character to Hillary Clinton. I always adored how socially malfunctioning Steve was. When not showing his pot plants to reporters or comparing himself to black women on national tevee, Steve is always up for a Hillary as murderess analogy. That man rocks.

But not nearly as much as Korean food, which is one of the few (maybe only) foods to taste better outside of Korea. This was proven by my friend and I visiting a Korean restaurant on Mendenhall in southeast Memphis and lunging for tasty grub. I still refuse to eat kimchee unless it's been grilled, but the rest was outstanding. It's just that this stuff was way different in Korea because a) I had to eat it 3 times a day and b) Korea and health inspectors don't go together. (I refuse to elaborate).

The Memphis visit concluded with a trip to an excellent blues joint called Wild Bill's which is in North Memphis, exactly the kind of neighborhood where it should be. Anyhoo, good music, good grub. A fetching young lady, who only outweighted me by two hundred pounds or so, and had pupils the size of grapefruits wanted to get me on the dance floor [and in other places] but I was too flattered and terrified to move. Good thing too. Didn't we already discuss what happens with me on a dance floor?