Sunday, April 30, 2006

There are some things you just don't want to know

Some of you may have noticed that I've become a grumpy old man lately.

I've criticized the U.S. tax system which is pretty embarrassing (ANYONE and EVERYONE has made fun of the I.R.S. That was completely lame of me and I do apologize...), I've claimed to have lost my sanity (Thanks Jama...I tried both the St. John's Wort and vodka. Both worked equally well in different capacities) and I've ignored pretty much everyone in my life.

But there is a reason: Our bed is killing us.

Imagine sleeping on a hammock made of chain-link fence. That is what our bed is like. I haven't slept through the night in about a year. I'm not joking. (I'm typing in short sentences because I keep falling asleep in this oh-so comfortable upright faux leather crappy desk chair...oh man, it's comfy!)

We've been saving up for a house or maybe a surprise trip back to the States to visit family, but since both of our jobs pay what I like to call "peanuts" none of these options are likely to happen this year. So we decided that if the two of us were actually sleeping through the night that maybe, just maybe we'd become successful and rich. To do that, we figured we'd better pony up and buy a new mattress.

(A fun fact for you: Did you know that the average person sweats out 1/3 of a pint of fluid each and every night? That means every 9 days each individual sleeping in the bed is leaking out 3 full pints of yummy sweat. If you're married that's 6 pints every 10 days or 18 pints a month! That's 216 pints a year! Is this making you sick yet? It should!)

Anyway, the new mattress has been ordered and should be here in a week or so. Personally, I can't wait. I really, truly, desperately need a good night's sleep.

(Also, Jett pointed out to me during the last recording of LTA that I don't pronounce the word "both" correctly. I say "Bolth" with an "L". I feel very self-conscious of this at the moment but I'm not gonna blame it on my hillbilly upbringing...I'm blaming it on not sleeping properly. But if I'm still saying it after May 10 (when our mattress is due to arrive) I'm gonna blame it on all that nasty sweat I've slept in over the years.)

(Seriously, does anybody else say 'Bolth' or is it just me? I honest to god never noticed that I said it that way until this weekend. I'm a bit freaked out.)
This is a shot from Newsomethingortheother Monestary (or Nendrum Monestary if you're into specifics...We drove out here today because the weather was a bit dreary and we didn't feel like going on a full-on hike. I gotta say, there's a lot to be discovered in Northern Ireland and it truly is one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived. I'm glad I'm here...Even if I'm crazy....)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Resistance is Futile.

You know you want it. Find it here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


This week I have mostly been trying to regain my sanity.

I'll let you all know how that goes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My train of thought...

As I was riding the train this morning I noticed that I have secretly named most of the regular commuters and I’ve compiled a pretty healthy list over the last 10 months or so.

The early commute tends to have the more colourful characters. (Dammit, Spell Checker and your British Dictionary setting! I said colourful….ARGGGGGGHHHH! It did it again!). I realize that very few people are at their best first thing in the morning and I should cut them some slack. But then again, that's their baggage, not mine. I’m the very picture of happiness and good will all friggin day.

I’m inclined to think that a certain part of my brain gets unduly bored watching the stops come and go each and every morning and each and every night and each and every morning and each and every night and has to entertain itself somehow when the battery on my Nintendo goes dead. Unfortunately, my ID or Super ID or Super Duper ID is a bit antisocial and that I might be a good candidate for anti-psychotic drugs.

(Pop Quiz: How many of you, when you’re walking down the street, look at passing people and rate them according to a “Punch” or “Trip” category? Is it just me? Really?)

Or maybe I secretly (or not so secretly) despise most everyone on the planet and I feel it is my duty to pigeonhole them into inferior sub-classes NOW so I know who will be best suited for future psychological enslavement and torture when I fully evolve and take over the universe. (I have BIG plans, people. It’s best you get on my good side now. You have been warned.)

Maybe, and I’m going out on limb here, I’m just an asshole.

Either way, the list begins with:


Jitterbug irritates me the most because her problem is the most easily solved.

Every morning, she stands too close to me. (It’s a big platform. There’s plenty of room about 50 yards away where she could hover to her heart’s content, for Pete’s sake.) But this subconscious violation of my personal space doesn’t irk me as much as her constant shuddering.

No matter what the temperature is—no matter how cold/wet/hot/humid it is—she wears the same damn cotton overcoat. And every time a train passes or a mouse farts somewhere in Bartlesville, Oklahoma she shivers like a hypothermic epileptic bowl of jell-o.

She’s a professional looking woman. She dresses smart and, from what I can tell, she isn’t sacrificing buying a new, warmer coat so that her 18 special needs children won’t go hungry. (Just a guess...) Is this petty of me? (Be careful now. Your answer may be held against you.)

All I can say is, "Buy a fucking heavier coat!"

Problem solved.

Well, it seems I won’t get to the rest of my list today. There simply isn’t time to tell you all about:

Napolean Shithead
Gag Bag
Tidy Doffer
The Stern Lesbo
Napolean Angst (no relation)
The Ogre Twins
Dr. Valium
Nurse Ta-Ta
Joan Rivers Fashion Disaster
Stupid Head
Blind Bang Bangs
Mullet Mistress
Princess Yoo-Hoo
The Chav Chumps


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Audit this...Assholes.

Sorry folks, I'm in the process of completing my U.S. tax return (yes, I KNOW they were supposed to be sent off about a week ago...what? Do you work for those sick I.R.S. bastards? Too damn bad! They'll be finished when they're finished!)

Besides, if I mis-read my tax forms correctly I have an extra two months to file before I'm penalized for not filing on time, even though I'm do a refund (we're poor, apparently). Isn't the American tax system special? You get penalized for not filing on time even though the shitheads in the U.S. Government are making interest on the money they owe ME.

Imagine, for a moment, if I hadn't paid any taxes all year long. I just took my paycheck and deposited the whole thing into a checking/savings account. Well, I'd be earning money on the money I didn't pay to the assholes in D.C. And then, let's say, that at the end of the year I just paid the taxes that I owed but kept the interest that I had earned. That would be ok, wouldn't it? Except for the fact that those shitheads ('Shithead' is my favorite word at the moment. It rolls quite pleasantly off the tongue) charge me taxes on my fucking interest!!!!

I'm pretty wound up at the moment so I'm going to stop.

Suffice it to say that I have yet to find a government/tax system that works. I will say that the U.K. tax system works a little bit better than the U.S. and doesn't screw you over with bullshit paperwork at the end of each fiscal year. (They just screw you silently all year long on a soft bed of ignorance while plying you with heavily taxed boozed to get you in the mood.)

All this is enough to drive a poor guy crazy. I'm going for a bike ride to clear my head and inflame my hemmorhoids. I think that's quite fitting for what the U.S. tax system does to so many....

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ulster Folk Museum Part III

OK, a quick refesher: We (my wife and I) were at the Ulster Folk AND Transport Museum. These pics are obviously from the Transport part. We (my wife and I. Are you keeping up, people?) spent the better part of the day at the 'Folk' part and only had time for a quick walk through the 'Transport' area. All in all, it was a great day and I highly recommend this museum to anyone who visits Northern Ireland.
(Ignore the man behind the reflective not the guy screaming and pointing his finger...I'm talking about me...Oh, you know what I mean...)
(I HATE nuns. They've scared me ever since I was a child... Stupid Penguins.)

(I show you this only because I fear the nuns had something to do with the iconography of most Northern Ireland facilities(because they're evil). My understanding of this sign above the 'loo' is: 1. Man and Woman Enter Toilet. 2. They Snap a Child's Neck. 3. Child is Destined to a Life in a Wheelchair.)
(Some people think Delorean's are cool --they were built in Belfast after all...)

(But those people would be the French...and they are sooooo NOT cool.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ulster Folk Part II

Doors are VERY small over here...

Monday, April 17, 2006

An Easter Adventure

As you can see from the beautiful dot-matrix printed ticket above, my wife and I decided to visit the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum this past Saturday. We had been to the museum 8 years ago--just a couple of days before our wedding (Wow. Time flies).

Anyway, we went out for a drive Saturday morning and we were trying to think of a cool place to walk when we suddenly exclaimed, 'What the hell? We're a couple-a-crazy kids! Why not spend part of our long Easter Holiday at a museum?!?! And it has nothing to do with the fact that we're driving past the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra! Which is only 5 minutes away from the centre of Belfast! Ulster Folk and Transport Museum..they show you old shit and it's perfect for us!'

So that's what we did.

Enjoy. (Sorry! I accidently uploaded a completely different photo than I thought I was uploading but, you know what? I still think this pic is funny so I'm gonna leave it in. In fact, I'm going to go minimalist on the rest of this posting and not interject any dumb ass comments. I'll let the photos speak for themselves. If you have any questions, I will gladly answer them but otherwise I'm just gonna let this one ride...)

(This is enough for today. I wouldn't want to overstimulate you all at once. Part II is on it's way...)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fun with Google

Today, I am conducting a little experiment. I’m going to tell a short story, translate it to German and then translate it back to English to see how accurately Google Language Tools can handle the task. I’m going to make the story as simple as possible (as soon as I think of one)…

Ok, here we go.

One morning, our hero Wayne (extra) Ordinary American, woke and rubbed the sleepy-crunch-globs from his bloodshot little eyes.

“Ah, morning! My most favourite time of day!” said our hero. “Each day is like a little gift from the Thetan warlords who will me to do their bidding. I can’t wait to see what crazy misadventures are in store for this brisk, rainy Tuesday! Well, I’ll be! Isn’t that freezing rain and sleet mixed? Why, it is! Hooray! Walking to the train station will be a slippery challenge!”

Then our hero stumbled to the kitchen, flipped the switch for the hot water, brushed his teeth, took a shower, caught the train and went to work where he accomplished many a splendid thing.

Then he went home and fell asleep on the sofa watching “Pop Idol” or maybe it was “Beauty and the Geeks” or some such shit.


And now in German:

Ein Morgen, unser (Extra) gewöhnlicher Amerikaner HeroWayne, weckte auf und rieb das Sleepyknirschen-globs von seinen kleinen Augen des bloodshot. "Amperestunde, Morgen! Die meine meiste Lieblingszeit!", besagt unser Hero. "jeder Tag ist wie ein kleines Geschenk von den warlords Thetan, die ich ihr Bieten tun. Ich kann nicht warten, um zu sehen, was verrückte misadventures im Speicher für diesen lebhaften, regnerischen Dienstag sind! Gut bin ich! Wird nicht dieser das Einfrieren Regen und Sleet gemischt? Warum, es ist! Hooray! Das Gehen zur Zugstation ist eine glatte Herausforderung!", Dann stolperte unser Hero zur Küche, schlug den Schalter für das Heißwasser, gebürstet seinen Zähnen leicht, nahm eine Dusche, verfangen dem Zug und ging, zu bearbeiten, wo er viele eine herrliche Sache vollendete. Dann ging er nach Hause und fiel schlafend auf dem Sofaaufpassen "Knall Idol", oder möglicherweise war es "Schönheit und das Geeks" oder etwas solche Scheiße.


And now back to English:

Today I lead a small experiment. I will explain, translate a short history her to the German and translate her then back to English, in order to see, how exactly tools Google Sprachdie task can touch. I will as simply form history, as possible (as soon as I think of one)..., here we go to o.k..

One morning, our (extra) usual American HeroWayne, woke up and rubbed Sleepyknirschen globs from its small eyes bloodshot.

"ampere-hour, mornings! My most favourite time!", means our Hero. "each day is like a small gift of the being lords Thetan, which I their offering do. I cannot wait, in order to see, what crazy misadventures in the memory for this lively, rainy Tuesday are! I am good! Isn't this mixed freezing rain and Sleet? Why, it is! Hooray! Going to the course station is a smooth challenge!"

Then our Hero stolperte to the kitchen, struck the switch for the hot water, brushed its teeth easily, took a shower, gets caught the course and went working on where it completed many a wonderful thing. Then it went home and fell sleeping on the sofa watching out "bang Idol", or possibly it was "beauty and the Geeks" or something such shit.


Wasn't that fun, boys and girls? Weee!

Nicht daß waren Spaßjungen und -mädchen? Weee!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Day in the Life

I'm not going to tie this posting into the most recent Letter to America podcast.

I'm going to let Chapter 30 of LTA speak for itself.

This posting is all about my totally relaxing, super Sunday. It was so nice it almost makes you believe that there is a God.

Today, we went to Castle Ward.

This is the road/walkway to where the servants and the people who did the actual work used to toil away their days. There's a mill of some sort or another down here. I don't like to think about it because if I had lived in that day and age I would've been the kid that kept the grindstone moist--probably with my own sweat and/or blood.

Here's the gateway to the sea. This is where I would have drowned if I had enough blood in my veins to crawl this far in an attempt to escape. Had I lived in that day and age, that is...

Believe it or not, Castle Ward is a building of two halves...literally. The front half (seen here) is built in the "Classic Style"...

While the back half is built in the Gothic style. (And if you peek in one of the windows you will see two stuffed boxing squirrels (honestly). I would have taken a picture of said squirrels but...well... I didn't.)

I felt compelled to take a picture of the sky for a couple of reasons:

I'm sick to death of a-holes and nay-sayers crying about how it ALWAYS rains in Ireland. This is authentic photographic proof that today was absolutely brilliant and lovely and gorgeous and cloud free. So Bpllllffooooooooop, Mr. A-hole Nay-sayer!

I only include this photograph because I don't really understand it. Obviously, it's some god like Zeus or Michael Caine but I don't understand why he's got what looks like a miniature baseball bat clutched in his hands. And why is there some sea creature arm grabbing his crotch? And why does he seem so unconcerned about it?

Ah, questions my friends. I've got nothing but questions.

Anyway, I hope you all had a good weekend and check out Chapter 30 of Letter to America and let me know what you think now that you can actually hear my voice on the recording.

(UPDATE: The blue sky was a passing thing. By the time we got home this afternoon, which was somewhere around 2 p.m. the sky clouded over and it began to rain like you wouldn't believe...that's Ireland.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It's All True

The problem with being on Letter to America is that there is a tendency for the layperson to think that Jett and I make shit up.

We don't.

Every nuance, every intonation, every syllable is simply dripping with God's Own Truth. And, if I may be blunt for a moment, it kinda ticks me off when people think otherwise. Regardless, I've received a virtual mountain of emails asking me to back up my recent story about the the Clinton/Presidential Suite. If you haven't listened to the podcast do so NOW...I'll wait. Are you finished? Good.

Anyway, I remember it like this...(insert your own mental BWOOP BWOOP BWOOP! or WEENAH WEENAH WEENAH! music that indicates that someone is telling you a story in flashback... Wow! That's what it sounds like in your head? Oh, well...whatever...)

I was minding my own business with my co-worker Allyson one day in the Europa. Belfast isn't exactly known as a "Hotspot" for international movers and shakers (though the occasional stoned pizza delivery boy does stop by and stare at the floral arrangements on the desk) so we certainly weren't expecting what was about to happen.


It's former President Clinton and he's demanding that he sleep the night away in the uber comfy Presidential Suite! But somebody else, somebody very important with steely gray hair and an enigmatic smile has already moved in! I tried to explain but it was for nothing.

"I don't give a good gal-darn who's in the Presidential Suite," he said. "I'm the former president of the United States of America (Hock! Spit!)! And what I says goes."

"I'm sorry Mr. Former President," I said, "I just can't go and kick this worldwide celebrity out on his tooshy. It just wouldn't be right!"

"Fuck 'right' I'm Bill Clinton."

Well, what could I do? I walked slowly up the stairs, breathing deeply and collecting my thoughts.

"This ain't gonna be easy, but how do you say 'No' to The Man?"

I knocked on the door...

"Hello? Are you in there? I was just wondering if, by chance, I mean ya don't have-ta or nothin' but would you mind giving up your room for the President of the United States?"

"Who's there?" Elliot Gould shouted. "Which President? Bush? Reagan? Nixon?"

" sir. Someone just as popular and savvy, however. Do you remember President Bill Clinton?"

"Clinton! Did you say CLINTON??!! That bastard slept with my ex-wife of almost 20 years ago. You might know her better as Barbara Striesand, International Songbird! As far as I know she was the love of my life and he bonked her like a bumper car at a cheap county fair! Tell him to go to the Days Inn across the road! Or better yet, Jett Loe says any weirdo stranger fan can sleep on his couch. Begone, insignificant bellhop! Begone, I say!

Well, what could I do? Nothing, is what. So I slunk down the stairs and told Clinton what happened.

"Oh yeah, Babs!" he said, "I did the Humpty Dance with her all night long. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!"

Bill was so nice about the whole situation he even agreed to take a crappy single room as long as I renamed it the "Clinton Suite" in his honor, which I did.

And it had nothing to do with his secret service men threatening me with large scary weapons.

And that's the true story of the Clinton Suite at the Europa.


(special thanks to Phil)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Getting better all the time

Authors Note: Those of you with sharp eyes will recognize my red and gray flannel shirt in this pic. This was taken from a very special video that Jett shot during our latest LTA recording. It's not exactly relevant to what I'm about to say...yet it's not exactly NOT relevant, if you follow. Hit the link at the bottom and you will see one of the saddest, most truly tragic moments ever caught on video. God bless YouTube.

At the risk of unwittingly disclosing any as-of-yet undiagnosed Manic-Depressive behavior (see yesterday's post--or better yet, don't) I gotta say that I'm feeling much better today. The sky is a richer shade of blue, my flowing locks seem more lustrous than ever before and there's a certain je ne c'est quoi to the odor emminating from the lunchroom fridge.

I hate suffering the moods like the one that blindsided me yesterday. I hate it even more when I get a feverish pulsing vein in my forehead and I say things to myself like:

"The world blows! I'm gonna write an incoprehensible rant on my blog! That'll learn 'em!"

Learn who, exactly? Well, nobody but myself, apparently.

Normally, I adhere to a strict rule of blatant lies, half truths and bullshit on my posts. I tend to shy away from anything that truly affects me because:

A: I'm a private person.

B: I don't really want/need/or care to have people thinking they know the real me (exceptions apply)

C: Deep down, I'm pretty superficial.

My other rule is that after I post something (usually late at night) and it reads like the drool splattered scribblings of a semi-literate maniac in the morning, I delete it and pretend that nothing happened. It's like the perfect one night stand. Only I know it happened.

Only today, I wasn't the only one who knew. When I checked my email this morning I realized in horror that two people had already commented on my dementia (Puppies? Karma? Rants about John Calvin and Martin Luther??? WTF???) .

Oh shit.

You could say that I rode the proverbial scooter. It was fun at the time but I didn't really think people would see me. But people did. And it was worse than being caught in bed with a fat chick at a frat party.

Which, come to think of it, that actually happened to me too.

Sort of.

First of all, she wasn't fat and, second, it wasn't a frat party--it was a themed "Beach Party". It was great in a "We're in Iowa in January" kind of way. We turned the heat up to 90 and filled the bathtub with sand. This was back in the day of the Coor's Party Ball and as soon as the first one was empty we hung up some string and started a lively, if somewhat deadly, game of volleyball.

Anyway, what happened was this: my bedroom at the time lead out onto a semi-balcony overlooking an Evergreen tree. The house rule was such that if the other two bathrooms were occupied the bladder in question was allowed to relieve itself on the roof but ONLY if they aimed at the Evergreen (I believe there was a reason for this but it escapes me at the moment. I think it had something to do with not peeing in the sink.). This rule was protested by me initially until I realized the benefit to myself. I would no longer have to make the arduous journey all 11 feet to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I could just climb out my window and wee while standing on loose shingles.

By the time the party got to the Excessive-Amount-of-Bladders-in-Dire-Straits stage I had suckered some poor girl up to my bedroom for a little Beach Blanket Bingo (if you get my drift. Of course you do.).

Well! Imagine her surprise when three of my housemates came strolling through my bedroom.

Here is an exact transcript of the moment:


ME: Hey guys.

NAME DELETED: Fuckers...


(*SIGH* Those were the good old days.)

I have no idea where, if anywhere, I was going with this. It seems I'm out to prove that I have no recognizable signs of shame. So what the hell... let's just add some fuel to the fire.


(Oh, and stay in school.)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Karma...Your name is Charlie

I'm not big on superstition.

OK, that's a big fat lie.

I'll believe any written word/radio broadcast/beggar on the street that says I'm destined for a good day. This is why I don't go to church or read the horoscopes. Better safe than sorry.

Hold on...I don't know what that means.

How am I "safe" rather than "sorry" if somebody tells me I'm going to have a good day? I don't know. Let's just leave this topic now, shall we?

Anyway, what I was going to talk about today was how I had a huge guilt complex over returning a very expensive remote control back to the store because it had served its purpose and was just sitting on my coffee table reminding me that I spent roughly 20 pounds (about $35 American) on a remote control that I only needed to use once.

Regular readers will know that I bought a new Sony DVD player in the hopes that it would be "Region Free" which means that we could play our DVD's from America as well as the ones we bought over here (Northern Ireland...keep up people).

Long story short... the remote was needed to "hack" the DVD player so that it would be region free. It worked. There was no need to keep it. However, I'm the worst at returning products to the store. I always feel guilty.

For example, as a male (me, that is) say I inadvertently bought a box of tampons. I have no use for said blood plugs. As a consumer, I have every right to return them at their full retail price because it was obviously some innocent error/fetish that I bought the damn things in the first place.


No matter how much I would be in the "right" on this, I would blush and stutter and probably trip on my way to the Customer Service counter because for some reason or the other I would feel it was my responsibility (which it probably was) and that I fucked up and the store owes me nothing and in fact I should pay them again for wasting their time. Is this is wrong. Is it? I don't know. Is it? Should I keep them? Pay them again? Maybe I should. You never know...

See? This is how my mind works. I'm convinced it's out to kill me. (Today, my wife actually said to me, and I quote: "If you didn't have a brain, you'd be twice as smart as you are now.")

OK. Let's tie this up before I embarrass myself any further:

I returned the remote AND I also returned a PC game that didn't work on my computer. (Yep, I know this came out of nowhere. I'm a crazy guy. Two returns in one day! Rock on!)

I gave the guy at the video game store a very sad and pathetic story and even though his store doesn't normally buy PC games (due to licensing laws), and aside from the fact that I didn't even buy the damn game in HIS store he actually gave me full price on the return as long as I bought ANOTHER game to take it's place. Which I did. I bought Animal Crossing for my Nintendo DS.

So, basically, I have nothing new to offer you people. I have had a shit on graham cracker type couple of weeks. I'm fed up, tired as all hell and I can't believe that tomorrow is Monday AGAIN, GODDAMN IT! And I give you returning shit to the store stories...sorry about that.

To be 100% honest, I'm not sure what it is I'm doing here (on this blog, that is). I'm pissed off, fed up and disgusted with everything around me. I feel guilty for asserting my rights and behaving like everyone else. (Special Thank You to Martin Luther and John Calvin for making guilt such a very personal mind fuck every time I step out the door.)

So why is Karma's name Charlie (as the title suggests)? I have no idea. They're just cute little puppies and I wish I had one now because people suck and puppies are always, ALWAYS cute.

Capricorn: Horoscope for Monday-- Life is grand. Take a chill pill and things will work out fine. And remember to tell your wife how lucky you are to have her. At the end of the day, we're all dead. Make sure the time until then matters.