Archive for May, 2014

Crave

Bow before the Philly Cheesesteak.

Bow before the Philly Cheesesteak.

I woke up in a mood. Yes, a mood. It’s really just a taste in my mouth. Then I made the mistake of going to Google images and looking at photos of food. I am one ravenous bastard. Even the cat scurried under the couch when I started drooling and visually fitting her for a bun and covering her in lettuce and a tomato.

For most of the year, I am fairly good at keeping my cravings at arm’s length. I don’t think about American food because it’s too far away. Sort of like how you don’t think about sex when it’s been more than a few months or you don’t think about Christmas in July.

It’s around this time of year that I begin really craving the food I am going to have in the U.S. It’s surely due to the fact that I will be eating it in 7 weeks. I can almost taste the buttery goodness, see the oversized portions, feel the pounds attach themselves to my waist, suffer the shame and arousal that come immediately afterwards as I wander around a mall or a Barnes & Noble.

Don’t get me wrong, the Czechs do pretty good food. But they don’t do U.S. food. And if you are Czech and reading this and rolling your eyes, I will remind you that when most of you travel you a) bring all of your own food and b) carry all of the ingredients to make Czech bread. So shut up.

This morning, as I choke down a bowl of Muesli and a drinkable yogurt, here’s what I wish I was eating.

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My Spooky Irish Adventure

Jake and Damien return to Ireland...by dolphin!

Jake and Damien return to Ireland…by dolphin!

Ever since I was a kid, I have been enamored of all things spooky – creepy houses, ghost stories, twisted tales, eerie sounds in the woods. If it sent a shiver up my spine and made my hair stand on end, then I liked it.

These spooky things made my mind reel with imagery and ideas and, as a result, my first short stories were born of them. A cabin in the woods had a disturbed past, a little girl standing on a path near a farm involved a macabre tale. Everything was subject to my dark imagination. In hindsight, I probably should have been sent to a psychologist.

The first time I visited Ireland, I fell in love immediately. Around every bend in the countryside there is another misty view of a castle, a green patch growing through a burned out cottage, or a farm on a distant hill. In every tiny hamlet there’s a Celtic cemetery, a 200-year-old pub, or some Druid ruins. Ireland is the place where your dark imagination is meant to run free.

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The Break up

no me termines en un café starbucksWith an hour to kill and a desperate screeching coming from my belly, I hit my favorite kebab joint in Andel. It’s a cheap, quiet place that offers huge portions of Turkish food that quells my need or interest in human partnership.

I order, then carry my heavy plate through the bustling middle room and into the nearly empty backroom. There are three tables, I sit at the back one. Besides myself, there is a couple huddled together at the far table, murmuring to each other in that imperceptible language that only couples speak in.

I pray to Gluttovia, the Sumerian goddess of the gluttony that is about to visit my table. Just then, the woman explodes into a shit storm of tears and sobs. The man looks morose, holds her hand.

Crap. They’re breaking up.

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This Week in Bizarre Holidays

Big bloody apple, this...I have recently become fascinated by the hundreds of seemingly random holidays that usually go unnoticed by the average Joe. To illustrate, let’s look at May.

May is National Hamburger Month and National Blood Pressure Month. This is good because most of the people who celebrate National Hamburger Month are going to need blood pressure medication. May is also National Salad Month and National Barbecue Month, which seems another doomed pairing. And, just for those who go too overboard with barbecues, hamburgers, or blood pressure, it also happens to be National Recommitment Month.

Each week is dedicated to a cause as well. The second week of May is Wildflower Week, the third week is National Police Week, and the fourth is Emergency Medical Services week.

Every day in May – and every other month – is dedicated to some unusual celebration. There is Star Wars Day (May 4th), No Diet Day (May 6th), Clean Up Your Room Day (May 10th), Fatigue Syndrome Day (May 12th), and Dance Like a Chicken Day (May 14th). Let us hope that the EMTs don’t celebrate too hard during their week or people suffering injuries during the chicken dance might have to go without attention. I am fairly certain that my students celebrate Fatigue Syndrome Day every day of the year.

But it has occurred to me that we are getting ripped off here. All I celebrate is Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, VE Day, my birthday, the anniversary of the first time I touched a boob, Jenna Jameson’s birthday, and Pizza Day. Otherwise, there is a whole, giant world of holidays that we are missing.

But not anymore!

This week I have decided to observe each holiday in some way. Here’s my plan.

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How to Write to Impress

paranoiaThis autumn you (yes, you) are going to get your first university writing assignment. And whether that assignment is a research paper, an argumentative essay, or a report, your problem is the same: how do I impress my professor with my academic writing? In order to do well, you need to impress your professors. To achieve this goal, I recommend three points: avoid stating a clear argument, do not organize your paper, and use big and complicated words.

The first way to impress a professor is to avoid stating a clear argument. Clear arguments are straightforward, boring, and simply tell the professor exactly what you are writing about. Rather, the main idea of your essay should be a mystery. This allows the professor to spend hours studying your essay in search of the mysterious argument and main point. Aren’t you always more impressed with a movie that keeps you guessing? Well, approach academic writing the same way: clear writing is boring. Be mysterious.

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Bad Mother’s Day

you´re pregnant !?Sunday is Mother’s Day. And if you didn’t know that, then you are not on Facebook or you are just a bad child. Anyway, most of you – hopefully – bought flowers, cooked dinners, made phone calls, or remembered that your mommy carried your lazy ass around for nine months, ruined her uterus bringing you into this world, and then put up with your shit for two decades.

Now, my mom rocks. She brought up four kids who have become somewhat reasonable adult human beings. She was a working mom, who cooked, cleaned, mediated, troubleshot, put out fires (sometimes literally) and yet didn’t once stab any of us. If you have met me or any of my siblings, you know that this last bit of restraint entitles my mom to breakfast in bed, a box of cookies, a Law and Order marathon, and a massage every day for the rest of her life.

No doubt your mom does too. Well, maybe not Law and Order, but you get the gist: our moms deserve a lot more than one day of recognition.

But that’s Sunday, what about Monday? Since Monday is the most-hated day of the week, I am assigning it Bad Mother’s Day, for those mothers throughout history who just shit the bed in one way or another.

Here are some bad mommies.

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How to Celebrate Victory in Europe Day

Lieutenant Colonel Lyle Bernard, Colorado, 30th Infantry Regiment, 1943Today is Victory in Europe day or Day of Liberation in the Czech Republic (Den osvobození). As there is no school today in the CR, I have been thinking of ways to celebrate this hallowed day. And, though it couldn’t possibly carry the gravitas of Houseplant Appreciation Day (January 10th) or Pistol Patent Day (February 25th), maybe we should take a few minutes to commemorate today in some way.

Party Like it’s 1945

OK, you’re a young GI, you’re in Europe, you’ve just been cured off the syphilis, Hitler is dead, the kid probably isn’t yours, and the war is over, how do you celebrate?

You. Drink.

That’s right folks, raise a Pilsner, a bourbon, or a glass of milk in commemoration. It’s a good excuse, anyway.

I woke up this morning to find two receipts from two different pubs in my pocket, a vague recollection of stuffing money into a G-string, and a bone yard of chicken bones in a cardboard bucket with The Colonel’s face on it.

In other words, mission accomplished.

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The Village Life

96 Maison de FéeOur moods are high. It is Saturday night. We have just eaten fried sticks. And we are on our way to the village pub, The Slaughtered Lamb. Things couldn’t be better.

I have decided on a visit in order to escape Prague and, more specifically, the ass monkeys who live next to me and can’t resist the urge to drill into their walls and hit things with a hammer. Still, without the ass monkeys, I thoroughly enjoy coming to the village and enjoying the quiet village life for a day.

We walk down a cobbled street that has no stop light, no commercial activity, and no cars. The only sound is the kvaking of what must be hundreds of frogs in a little pond in the forest. Yes, kvaking. Czech frogs don’t say ribbit, they say kvak. It’s mildly unsettling and one can’t help but imagine a late night frog attack. A neighbor of Lee’s rides by on a bicycle and says hello.

If you’re from the U.S, then you really don’t see villages like this one unless you travel to Europe or watch The Hobbit. And with expanding globalism, you are hard pressed to find a place without a McDonald’s or a Starbucks. At the very least in most towns you find a gentrified pub with all the dull attributes that signify “modernity.” This includes sleek tables, expensive beer, and a glossy menu.

But not here.

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A Tom Waits Easter

Happy EasterIt’s like being let into a secret club. Neither Collin nor I even notice the neon sign until our friend stops and knocks on the metal door beneath it. Three precise knocks: rap rap rap. We are on a side street in Vinohrady. It’s 11 pm on Easter Night.

We check our coats, walk down the stairs, the beats of club music growing louder with each awkward step. Collin laughs. Our friend orders us beers and whiskies, pays for everything. He has dragged Collin and me here after a double cheeseburger, almost strategically waiting until our brains lacked the blood supply to argue.

We sit at a high top in the corner. The room fills with a steady stream of men. I am surprised to see two women. I jot a note:

Drinking Whiskey at a Gay Bar on Easter Sunday

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