Archive for September, 2011

30
Sep
11

The Ugliest Girls in Geneva are Only Cute

(This isn’t a re-post. It is a re-model. The original was very ugly-angry. During my last days at the hopeless hospital I’d written the original. I pulled most of the nastier barbs off, but I left a couple little ones just for kicks.)

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I am very glad C-Jane sometimes works in Switzerland. All the women in Geneva look out-standing, and at the very worst, they are only cute. As cute as she is, every time C-Jane comes backfrom Switzerland, the magic in the water has turned her super-hot. But this time, I got to go meet her in Geneva, and drink from the fountain of super-hotness!

When I asked Calamity Jane, she said it wasn’t the water. It is normal in Geneva to walk, and walk, and walk some more. I mean like all over the place. No one needs a car. Unlike here in Las Vegas, the busses are very efficient and can take you near anyplace you need to go. If the weather is nice, there is no need to take a bus – just walk.

Walking? Isn’t that a little barbaric? I thought Jesus died for freedom, so we could all have cars, and eventually ride on motorized scooters?

On that note, I don’t recall seeing any scooters in Switzerland. I ask C-Jane, “Where are all those Walmart-people and their motorized wheelchairs?”  Perhaps the Swiss are not wealthy enough to have such luxury. (Geneva is one of the richest cities in the world. It is probably because of the cost of train fares.)

As a nation, the United States is 235 years old, and has already begun its decent into self-destruction and/or some sort of Orwellian-mutation. Geneva, on the other-hand, has stood for over 2200 years. People were still waiting for Jesus to come for the first-time – Geneva was already a small town. When the Roman Empire was expanding, the town served as a port in Lake Geneva. When Rome fell, Geneva was still standing. Resilient are the Swiss.

Remember that thingy called the Geneva Convention? Yup, also in Switzerland; but first here is something about warfare in the bad ole’ days. Before 1859, when war was being waged, the wounded on the battlefield were left for the crows. Screw those dudes. Crow-food might be the easy way out; prisoners were treated at the discretion of their captor.

“Henry Dunant (founder of Red Cross) was shocked by the terrible aftermath of the battle, the suffering of the wounded soldiers, and the near-total lack of medical attendance and basic care. He completely abandoned the original intent of his trip and for several days he devoted himself to helping with the treatment and care for the wounded. He succeeded in organizing an overwhelming level of relief assistance by motivating the local population to aid without discrimination.”  — Wikipedia

This was the beginning of the International Red Cross, which is based in Geneva.  The Red Cross also pushed for rules of engagement in battle; below is a list of the first countries to sign the Geneva Convention.

On August 22, 1864, the conference adopted the first Geneva Convention “for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field”. Representatives of 12 states and kingdoms signed the convention: Baden, Belgium, Denmark, France, Hesse, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Switzerland, Spain, and Württemberg.”—Wikipedia

 

The U.S. did not sign the first declaration. It wasn’t until the American Civil War, when an American woman by the name of Clara Barton introduced the American Red Cross as adopted and incorporated with the original Red Cross. It wasn’t until after WWI when the U.S. adopted the Geneva Convention as a rule.

Gitmo Bay is a violation of the treaty our leaders promised to uphold.

Also in Geneva is the United Nations.  We were walking past the United Nations on a cold February morning and came upon a large group of German-Iranians on a peace march. They were calling to the attention of delegates to intercede in the human rights violations happening in Iran.

I found it to be a strange sight. In the early 80’s when Iran became a Religious Theocracy, the media at the time had shown Iranians as dirty people who burned American flags and shot bullets at the air in anger. But in real life, they looked pretty normal to me. Just regular people wanting the same things all people crave, the right to be treated fairly by their keepers.

The League of Nations under Woodrow Wilson was also in Geneva. I wouldn’t be surprised if the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the League of Super-Best Friends is also somewhere in Geneva.

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(FYI- ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ was a terrible Sean Connery movie made in the nineties. The ‘Super-Best Friends’ was an episode of ‘South Park’ featuring Seaman and his birdy-pal, Swallow.)

26
Sep
11

Negative Five Celsius

(This is a continuation from Big J vs. the Terrorist.)

Travelling by train through Switzerland is the best way to see the country.  In the month of February, the temperature holds at about twenty to thirty degrees Fahrenheit.  The roads you travel over have frequently been shoveled with snow that is neck-high.  There is a moisture in the air; frost, snow, or fog, which modifies visibility to about a quarter mile radius. Everything you see as your train speeds by is white and varying shades of gray.  Tall pines are frosted with snow, and as the mountains gradually get further from sight, they mesh with the gray haze, contributing greatly to a snow globe reality.

From the moment my plane landed at Zürich Flughafen, I knew I was in for an education.  “The temperature right now is negative five degrees,” says the Captain as we pull into our gate.  I’m still thinking in terms of Fahrenheit, since that is what we use, here in the United States.  All the same, when I step off the plane, I know I didn’t dress appropriately. At McCarran International, 16 hours earlier, the temperature was around 60*F, and from Zürich it will be a long cold trip to Geneva at -5*C.

For the first time in my life, I understand how it feels to be ignorant and illiterate. While in the tram to the main terminal and customs entry, overhead, the voice of the intercom welcomes in German, then in French, and mercifully, once in English.  Their speaking in English is of course hospitality, like here in the South-Western United States at J.C. Penny’s when the intercom speaks in English.

The Northern Swiss are very polite.  They tolerate my ignorance far better than most North Americans tolerate our Mexican invaders. Perhaps it is because the Swiss know I’ll be going home eventually.  At the Money Exchange, I humbly request 200 Swiss Francs, and the lady inquires how long I’ll be in Switzerland.  I tell her four days and my wife has an apartment in Geneva.  Politely she lets me know that Switzerland is a little pricey.  I exchange for 500 Swiss Francs and it is a good thing too, for my train ticket to Geneva cost 276 Francs.

At the airport train station, for a mere five Francs you can buy a cup of coffee.  What is more interesting is that the young woman, who sells the coffee for five bucks, fluently speaks German, French, Italian and English.  Teasingly, I boasted that I knew a little Spanish, which humbly, she replied, she knew nothing about Spanish.  If I spoke four languages fluently, I would not be serving coffee with a smile.

The peculiar thing about the airport and train station is the noise level.  It is almost what a library is supposed to be like.  Both of these places are busy, but everyone just does what they are doing quietly.  If noises or voices are loud, you have found the United Statians.  The Swiss appreciate silence so much that in the first class section of the train, they have the quiet car.  Even my wife thought I was kidding when I informed her that they have a train car designated to silence, and if you break the serenity, you will be chastised and asked to leave.  I watched it happen to someone else; personally, I liked the silence.

When I finally arrived to Geneva, I found a pay phone and called my wife at her work.  It was freezing cold and it was clear that I didn’t know how to dress for negative five Celsius.  I had traveled far from Zürich where the German speaking Swiss didn’t mind speaking English.  I was now with the French speaking Swiss who didn’t like speaking English. Shivering in the hallway of the freezing train station was where my wife found me, which is where the Geneva posting will resume.

(See, I can be nice sometimes. I hope to write more posts like this in the future. I’ll post part 3 before the weekend.)

23
Sep
11

BigJ vs. the terrorist

(This post was written over a year ago, February 2010 if I remember correctly. This was the first of the Switzerland posts. It is one of my best early posts and I’m glad it is being reposted.)

I’m at JFK International Airport and my layover is for two hour.  We, who don’t live in New York, cannot begin to understand the ethnic and cultural diversity of the city.  I recall New Yorkers I’d met in the past, the things they had said about their home city, and I was now grateful that I had listened closely.  I realize I am still clueless of both the enormity and the diversity of this incredible city. Someday, I will need to see NYC from the ground as well as from the sky.

Eating at the terminal in a place named O’Neal’s, I enjoy a couple glasses of wine.  The wine was just enough to relax me, barely even a buzz.  I don’t love to fly, and generally have rather morbid visions of emergency doors blowing off and getting sucked out by pressure lost, or of flight control putting us on the wrong runway and being hit by another plane, etc.  The wine doesn’t stop my imagination; it merely slows it down a little, and if I drink a little more, then my visions of horrible agonizing death become funny. What I’m saying is I like to get good and sauced before climbing on any planes, even the ones at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.

Waiting around in our boarding area with about two hundred other people, I watch the crowd.  In the crowd I see a young Muslim man reading out of his holy book, the Quran.  I don’t think much about it, I understand the old American right for free religion. I am merely observing the man reading a book.  As a writer, that is what I do; I observe and stow the thoughts away until they are useful again.

They begin to herd us onto the plane.  I shuffle along and find my seat towards the back of the plane.  A 767 is a decent sized plane, about the biggest I’ve ever flown and I’m resenting that I don’t have a window seat.  My luggage is stashed, and I’m ready for the mile-high bar to roll me into oblivion.

Picture this; two seats, then an aisle, three seats, another aisle, and then two seats.  I’m in seat three, row thirty-six, and from here I can watch everyone getting onboard. Sub-consciously, I notice the Muslim-man sitting aisle seat number two, in row fifteen, just before first class.  I would have completely forgotten that detail if the strange man who was about to sit two chairs to my right had sat anywhere else on the plane.

Wearing white cotton pants and a light grey hoodie with the hood pulled tightly over his head, he has a wild and penetrating stare, and he is looking down at me. Clearly, English is not his native language, and he points at his seat number, 36g. To avoid confusion, on the bigger planes, the seats go a-b-c-e-g-h-i. E is the center seat, so g is on the inside inner isle. I point to his seat and he grumbles something and pushes by.

He doesn’t sit down. He stands in the opposite isle and whips out a white holy book and starts to read while shaking slightly. I look up the isle at Muslim man who is also reading out of his holy book.  Both have strategic placements in the plane to gaining control if they are strong enough.  I wonder, is there a man unseen, reading out of a Quran in the first class section?

Hoodie-man stuffs his book into the pocket of the seat beside me and whips out a second prayer book from out of a clear plastic bag and starts reading.  Now I’m suspicious, I look and confirm it is some-sort of middle-eastern text.  Yup, terrorist shit for sure! 

Coolly, as to not arouse the terrorist’s attention, I look through my carry-on bag as I think, ‘God Damn TSA!  I could have had nail-clippers or toothpaste to defend myself with, but now all I have is a dull toothbrush.’  Fucking National Security, now we can’t even protect ourselves.  So now I’ll just need to kill him with my bare hands.  Holy fuck!  How am I going to kill a trained terrorist with my bare hands?

Then this kid squeezes past the standing/praying terrorist to sit in seat e. He’s a college aged kid who speaks heavy accented German.  Jesus, can you give me a break!  How am I going to kill this terrorist with only my bare hands with this boy sitting between us?  Christ, maybe this is my destiny, to die on a plane in a terrorist plot.  It all makes sense now, my fear of flying.  Bar-wench! Bring me more ale!

Hoodie terrorist whips out book number three, and starts to pray again.  German kid tugs on the sleeve of Hoodie terrorist and asks him something, maybe even, “Hey mister, are you going to take over this plane and kill all us infidels?”  By body language and intensity I know the answer is no.

So the kid turns to me and asks in German if I speak German. Then, in rough English he asks if I would trade seats with his girlfriend.  That’s what he must have asked the terrorist.  “Sure”, I nod. 

From row 44, I will now be 8 rows behind the terrorist when the shit goes down.  As I walk past the stewardess, I say, “That guy in 36g is acting rather strange, you might want to check on him.” She asks what I mean and I tell her all I can.

Very casually, she walks up and starts talking to Mr. Hoodie Terrorist.  She smiles, and nods once or twice, then comes back by me and whispers, “Thanks, he is weird.”  She meets with the other stewardesses and then the senior stewardess goes and talks to him.

The captain of the plane drives all over the runway.  He drives in circles, around and around and around. No one notices this but me. We drive in circles around JFK International for better than a half an hour.

Finally, TSA informs the Air Crew that the guy in question is actually Jewish. Although Israel is a major reason for terrorism, this man most likely is not a terrorist.  The captain comes on, speaking in an exasperated voice, “Sorry for the wait, some dumb fucker at the back of the plane can’t tell the difference between the Torah and the Quran, or Hebrew from Arabic.  We will leave now, (sigh)”

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(Disclaimer—Unlike FOXNEWS, this story is true. I did not fabricate anything except the last line. Mr. Hoodie looked more like a terrorist than the Muslim man. I’m just saying.)

18
Sep
11

Karate at the Zoo

C-Jane’s dojo went to San Diego last weekend for beach training. See two postings back for pictures of beach training; this post is going to be about Karate at the zoo. This post is not meant as mockery, or insult, this is intended as humor – a different type of Karate.

‘Sensei J’ conditions his students to be like Ninja Warriors, but with Karate instead. Wisdom, like a grasshopper, showed that there may have been foul play involved with the raw sewage spill on the beach. At the zoo that same weekend was the Tokyo Godzilla Road Show. Sensei J knows how to speak Japanese, so to get some answers, we went to the zoo.

The dojo bows, offering respect to the giant lizard that mauled Tokyo in the early fifties. Like the respectable samurai he is, Godzilla also bows, wanting no trouble with ‘Sensei J’ or his Ninja-like skills. C-Jane translates since she’s smarter than me.

Sensei J asks, “Honorable Godzilla, why did you dump poop along the San Diego beaches? That wasn’t honorable, you are a guest here.”

“Godzilla says, “Do not trust your eyes, Sensei J. You must clear my name, or else our school be shamed. I also train under Master Khe Nobi. I don’t know who dropped dookie into the bay, but I heard from a good source that the elephants know.”

After thanking Godzilla, we went to lean on the elephants a little, you know, like find out what they knew. I stayed where it was safe, in the back behind C-Jane. I’m not fighting any elephants, hell no not me.

Pulling along the points of his mustache, Sensei said, “Elephants are slow, dumb creatures – send in a white-belt to handle this one.”

Displaying her kata of the Chicken Taunt, Student B threw down with some pre-emptive clucks and cockel-doodle-doo. Finding Student B’s presence as being frighteful, they thought it best to skedaddle. Sensei J saw this manuever two minutes before it was even an idea, and cut them off in their pen, firmly stating, “Tell us everything you know about sewage spills.”

The elephants shrugged and said, “Okay.”

Bounding from the branches of a tree, King Kong leaps down, saying “Fools, you’ll ruin everything we’ve worked for!” Kong grabbed the closest elephant by the ears before swinging it overhead wildly, like a meat club - bashing and slamming into the other elephants. It was very messy!

Before C-Jane found her opportunity to get in and stop this, both Orange and Yellow Ranger bring the fight to Kong. It is no contest as to who will win this fight, the King cannot compete with the Power Rangers. For the Power Rangers, every day they are kicking real Monster ass.

Lying in a pool of his own blood, Kong draws a sharp gurgle, somewhere lower, the sound of air bubbling though split ribs. Sensei J says, “Do not die without honor. Tell my why you soiled our beaches.” But Kong died, right there where he laid, his spilled life mixing with the elephant’s meaty pulp.

From behind, I heard an annoying voice say, “Impressive. Most impressive. Master Khe Nobi has taught you well. You have controlled your fear.”

Without looking over my shoulder, I shrieked, “Zoinks, it’s the creepy coin-collector again!”

No, it is not. It is Jack Black taunting Sensei J, “When I left you I was but the learner. Now I am the master.”

“Only a master of evil!” resends the Sensei. “Now it all makes sense, the sewage leak.”

Jack Black nods, “Yes, Yes!” His words increasingly louder, “Fart jokes and poopy humor, it should have been obvious who was the true mastermind of this dirty business.”

Sensei J points a finger, rotates his wrist, and makes a ‘come hither’ motion while winking. “There shall not be, ‘Kung-Fu Panda III.’ They launched at each other like crouching tiger and hidden panda. Kei-Ya!

As Jack Black lay there, choking on his own broken throat, Sensei J asks me, “Who is the more foolish; the fool or the fool that follows him?” I’m not answering that, I assume he was being rhetorical.

With a sassy shake of her mane, C-Jane says, “The fool that follows.”

Jack coughs out his last words, “If it weren’t for those meddling kids, I’d have gotten away with it. My Kung-Fu was no match for your Karate.”

15
Sep
11

Chuck’s Book

[This is a re-post of a book review. I’ve been on a wild streak of good fiction writing this week so this blog suffers as a result. Part two of the Karate posts will be coming soon, I expect by Sunday morning.]

I finished reading another book, Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Stranger than Fiction.’ This was non-fiction from the writer who created ‘Fight Club’ and also wrote ‘Choke.’ My personal favorite of his is ‘Survivor,’ but I admit I have not yet read Fight Club; that one I am saving for the right day.

I suspect that this collection of shorts surmise his early journalistic endeavors where he established his style. There were a few stories that I believe were written specifically to be included in this collection, meaning I don’t think they were ever bought until this book was whipped together. Most of the early stories were covered in tell-tale fingerprints, foreshadowing his novels to come. One short story even seemed narrated by the same character who told the story in Choke. Choke was a first person narrative, as was Survivor (I think all his books might be told from first person.) In some of the stories it felt like I got to see Fight Club before it ever became Project Mayhem, but more interesting still – seeing what happened to Chuck immediately after his book became a movie. Fame, hmmmm.

The first couple stories were kinda like my blog posts; raw, repetitious, and almost really good. The second story in the book seemed to go on and on and on. About the time I was ready to skip forward, I only had a page or two to go, so I pushed on, and the story ended brilliantly. It was about the dying sport of wrestling and the addictive mentality of the few athletes keeping the sport alive. I know, boring! But having seen the movie Fight Club, it was like reading one of the key insider pieces.

There was a humorous story about wearing ‘Disneyland style’ costumes with a large Paper ‘Mache headpieces around Pike’s Place in Seattle. The humor came with all the hostile problems associated to something so innocuous. In the end they almost get arrested. For what? Read the story.

Inside the bindings and deeper still was an interview with Marilyn Manson that painted him more a man and less a monster, as well as a great interview with a young Juliette Lewis about making out with Robert DeNiro. There was also an interesting story about Brad Pitt’s lips and penis pumps – classic Palahniuk reading. But from beginning to end, from average to extraordinary, and from humble to self-recognized, it is all right there, laid open and spread-eagle to the world, right where we can see that truth is stranger than fiction. Money changes the man.

[Disclaimer – Chuck Palahniuk, you still owe my wife $20 bucks for buying ‘Rant.’ That book sucked, dude. Take a break, spend some millions, and maybe get some new ideas. But first, pay C-Jane back for that awful ‘Rant.’ How is that for a rant?]




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