I spent so much time finishing my travelogue that I haven’t talked tv in awhile so here’s the season wrap up:
Lost- Four seasons and it’s as strong as ever. I made nine predictions about the finale and I was thrilled to get eight of them correct. Ok, they weren’t exactly tough (Sawyer calls somebody by a nickname, Jack barks orders at someone, Kate gets rescued by either Sawyer or Jack, Hurley drips sweat, Sayid repairs something, Desmond says “brother,” Aaron cries, Michael dies and the one I missed, Locke rubs his head) but it always fun to guess anything correctly with this show. Actually, some earlier predictions of mine also came to fruition, namely that Locke was in the casket and that Penny would rescue the O6 (though, I thought Desmond would die minutes before that happened), so it wasn’t the sort of shocking season finale I’ve become accustomed to with Lost. But I’m glad to see the future of the show will apparently include Ben because he seriously rocks.
The Bachelor- I thought this guy was the best bachelor ever. He was a real-life Mr. Big- a tall, gorgeous, international financier. Seriously dreamy. But, not surprisingly, he chose the blonde sex kitten (who happens to be Lorenzo Lamas’ daughter) over the funny chick. I thought blondie was all right but I would have thought their hometown date with her mother would have scared him. It was a frightening glimpse into what she was going to look like in 25 years, that is, unless the surgeon who mutilated her mother’s face is put behind bars as he should be. Even though I don’t think he made the right choice, I do think these two will get married. But I also think they’ll get divorced soon after popping out a couple of freakishly beautiful children.
Survivor- I love it when a show can bring one of its best seasons ever in its 16th season. And Survivor succeeded in doing this, at least for the second half of the game. Watching all these boys stumble over their erect penises was awesome. And Erik… OH. MY. GOD. Earlier in the season I thought he was destined to be one of those quickly forgotten players, remembered only as “the dude with the awful Leif Garrett hairdo.” Little did I know. As much as I love a good blindside, I have to admit that watching the ladies devour him the way they did was actually painful for me. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I would have with a guy who wasn’t so damn nice. But it frightens me that people as dumb as Erik are allowed to move freely about this country and even worse, vote. I thought Cirie played a great game her first time around and an even better one this time so she was my favorite to win but I think Parvati played the second-best game so I was happy to see her rewarded over Amanda “The Doe-Eyed Choker.”
American Idol- The finale answered the burning question: who is the worst dancer in the world, David Archuleta or Brooke White (answer: Brooke White by a mile-long moonwalk).The fact that David Cook won over the heavy favorite David Archuleta has restored a little bit of my faith in America’s taste (or maybe it just confirmed America’s sheep-like mentality when it comes to Simon Cowell, who made no secret about his desire for Cook to win). Don’t get me wrong, little David is a great singer and he’s unbelievably adorable. In fact, I want two David Archuleta dolls, one at his current size, the one where I pull the string when I’m feeling down and he says, “Aw, shucks. Life is just so wonderful,” which is the one I would have been all googly over at age 12. I’d also like the full size David A. doll, aged by about 20 years because I know it would look seriously hot on my bed. But I’m pleased with David Cook’s win because he’s only the second contestant (after Chris Daughtry) and the first winner ever whose music I would actually seek out. And first on the list will be his covers of “Hello” and “Billie Jean” which I thought were incredible.
The Hills- A few months ago I joked that a guy was too young for me if he’d ever watched The Hills. I honestly didn’t even know what The Hills was, just that it was on MTV. Then while I was traveling I read a bunch of magazines and every other page seemed to mention somebody from the show. Even John McCain said he never missed an episode and that Heidi was a great “actress.” It got to the point that I had to know if I was on Team Lauren or Team Speidi. Thanks to the raping this tv season took due to the writers’ strike, I had some room in my viewing schedule to check it out. Holy shit it’s addicting, mostly because it’s supposed to be a reality show but every scene is so obviously staged that it’s a complete train wreck. Basically, it’s a female version of Entourage except the stories primarily focus on a group of girls who repeatedly return to some pathetic excuses for men. It’s worth tuning in just to find out what a Justin Bobby is. But there’s also Spencer Pratt. What a piece of work this one is. He is the epitome of lameness and the saddest part is that because he’s good looking and on television, he’ll always be able to get laid despite his lameness. So whose team am I on? I’d probably be on Team Heidi if she showed enough sense to drop that fool Spencer. Lauren’s all right but she needs to learn how to let go of a grudge, particularly over something as insignificant as a little rumor. Whitney seems like a nice girl, though someone needs to teach her that words that end with a “g” END with a “g” and not with a “guh” (like “bringuh” or “thinguh”). Yeah, it’s nitpicky but it kinda bugs me. Audrina is just plain vapid so that leaves me on Team Lo, the girl who shoots her mouth off without really thinking. She sort of reminds me of somebody…
(Oh, and if you’re planning on voting for McCain, watch The Hills and tell me if a guy who claims to never miss an episode is someone you want to have access to the red button).
This story had me almost in tears:
BERLIN (AP) — German parents post baby on eBay for 1 euro
Authorities in southern Germany said Saturday they have taken custody of a 7-month-old boy after his parents posted an ad on eBay offering to sell him for one euro, the equivalent of $1.57.
Peter Hieber, a spokesman for police in the Bavarian town of Krumbach, said the baby was placed in the care of youth services in the southwestern Allgaeu region, although the child’s 23-year-old mother insisted the ad was only a joke.
Authorities have launched an investigation into possible child trafficking against the baby’s mother and 24-year-old father, neither of whom was identified.
“Offering my nearly new baby for sale, as it has gotten too loud. It is a male baby, nearly 28 inches (70 cm) long and can be used either in a baby carrier or a stroller,” police quoted the ad as reading.
No offers were made for the child in the two hours and 30 minutes the ad was posted on Tuesday. EBay later deleted the posting, but assisted police in tracking down the parents.
Several people who saw the ad alerted police. (source)
That’s the sort of stunt I would pull, with the same unfortunate repercussions. My younger nephew was collicky for his first couple weeks and numerous times I suggested we exchange him. Luckily for everybody I didn’t think of eBay or who knows what would have happened (and despite the rocky start, he’s turned out to be pretty cool).
Last week I put a bid on Rupert from Survivor‘s house and at $5 I was the high bidder for a few hours. It’s fortunate I didn’t see the baby ad or I totally would have bid on it and probably would have ended up in jail for child trafficking (or worse, the owner of a $2 baby).
What’s lame about this story is that not only did several people report the ad to the police but then child services removed the child from his home. I mean, come on, I didn’t have to read the mother’s claim that it was a joke to know that was the case. Doesn’t anybody have a sense of humor anymore? On the bright side, the kid has an awesome lifelong story to tell and, by my estimation, some rather funny parents.
It seems only fitting that I should finally finish this on Memorial Day with some tributes to the soldiers. I met many awesome soldiers in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan who went out of their way to try and make me as comfortable and the trip as enjoyable as possible. And I felt kind of guilty when people asked where I was going next and I told them I was heading to Paris. So I decided that with every cocktail I’d say a little toast to a soldier I’d met along the way. I didn’t take pictures of every drink I had, partly because my camera disk only holds 4GB and partly because I sometimes felt awkward sitting alone and taking pictures of my drink. But with every cocktail I consumed I did think of one of the many soldiers I’d met and here are just a few…
Corby Carter was the main point of contact for the trip. He’s based in Germany and handled all our arrangements to, from and through Ramstein Air Force Base. He’s the one that had to listen to me giggle every time I saw the word ahsfart.
Sergeants Stovall and Allen are a couple of saints. They’re the ones who had to babysit us through our countless flight delays at Bagram. Sometimes that meant getting up at 3 am then again at 6 am then again at 9 am to check flight availability. In between they had to pick us up for meals at the DFAC and Sgt. Stovall was kind enough to accompany me to the bazaar. Sgt. Allen’s wife is stationed at Kandahar base and they have a one-year-old son living in the states with family. Stories like that made me appreciate the soldiers’ sacrifices all the more.
Captain Jen Mack was our MWR (Moral, Welfare and Recreation) contact at Camp Eggers. I don’t have a picture of her but she looked like she was about 23 so either she’s very youthful looking or she zoomed up the ranks to Captain. She gave us the option to either sleep in the soldiers’ quarters or to share a private room together. For some reason I agreed to the private quarters even though I thought Ira looked like a snorer (which he confirmed to be true) but luckily some other people’s stuff was in the room so Capt. Mack arranged for us to be in the ultra-VIP quarters where we had individual rooms, each with its own toilet and shower! To most people reading this the exclamation point may seem funny but out there, that was the sort of luxury that made me do a happy dance.
These toasts went out to Andy, Courtney and Gaylord from Camp Blackhorse. They were three of the very cool soldiers on one of our convoys. The fourth member of our convoy was Steve who took me to dinner at the hot interpreter’s place, which was one of the highlights of the trip for me (and no, not simply because he was hot).
Callie, Max and Sgt. Perry were the MWR folks at Kandahar. I should have a picture of them because they took me on a meet-and-greet where Max, the photographer, took about a million pictures but unfortunately I never got any of them. Max and Callie took me on the tour of the base in which the little Afghan girl opened our door. There was also a cute Canadian soldier along for the ride and I swear I couldn’t help but laugh every time he said “out” or “about” or “eh?” I don’t know why that’s so funny to me but it is- I really need to grow up. Sgt. Perry took me and Ira to some little shack where I smoked my first Cuban cigar, which the Dutch sell. Seriously overrated (the Cuban cigar, that is. Sgt. Perry was great as I’m sure are the Dutch).
Johnny Johnson was our man at Camp Jalalabad (I still love that word). This was one of the bases that never gets entertainment so things weren’t exactly smooth. They didn’t have a microphone (luckily Ira brought one) and the show was in the DFAC with a 6:30 start time so people were still eating. But it ended up being a good crowd and afterward Johnny let me use the Internet connection in his office. Sure, it took me 45 minutes to send TWO emails, but that’s how it is out there.
This toast went out to the Persco folks at Manas in Kyrgyzstan (I don’t know what Persco means but they handle the flight stuff). Ira had some kind of problem with his ATM card and couldn’t withdraw money throughout the entire trip. When we got to Manas, we each had to pay $35 for a visa and I only had $50 on me so I couldn’t cover his and one of the girls paid for his visa with her own money. I didn’t think it was cool to have her pay and I knew the tour booker wouldn’t be happy about that so she agreed to take me to the nearest ATM, which was at the commercial airport next to the base. It was kind of a hassle getting on and off the base and through the Kyrgy security at the airport so it was all very generous of her. And yeah, that’s what I was doing until 4 am the night before Ira caught a flight out of Manas, after which I was stranded there for five days.
Sgt. Bennett was the manager of the bar called Pete’s Place in Kyrgyzstan. When he learned I was a standup comic, he asked me to perform in between a country band’s sets the next night so I agreed to do it. He then cleared it with his boss who asked him to find out if my material was appropriate. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond because people have wildly different ideas of what’s appropriate. For the Afghanistan portion of my trip I was told I couldn’t do a lot of clean material that touched on controversial topics however, I could do all the dick jokes I wanted. But usually when a booker wants a clean show it’s the other way around. I checked back the next afternoon to see if it was a go and he hadn’t been able to contact his superior yet so he said for me to do my set and he would take responsibility if there were any problems. I wasn’t too keen on that and when I arrived at showtime, the room was packed with soldiers shooting pool, watching videos and playing cards. And there was a large contingent of Italian soldiers who had just arrived- not exactly the ideal setting for a comedy show. I was just about to back out of the show when Major Friersen came along…
Maj. Friersen wasn’t the person in charge of the bar but he was a higher rank than the person in charge and he gave the go ahead for me to perform. And he was so full of enthusiasm and appreciation that I’d be performing that I could hardly back out. So I reluctantly did my set and surprisingly the room quieted and the show went much better than I expected. Afterward, Maj. Friersen personally took the time to accompany me to the PAX terminal and beat them down to get me on a flight (now that I think about it, maybe he wasn’t assisting because he liked my show but because he hated it and wanted to get me the hell out of there. Hmm…). I want to add that high ranking officers are supposed to have reps for being hardasses but in my various tours I’ve met quite a few Majors, Colonels and even a General and they were all extremely cool guys.
In closing, thanks to all the soldiers who assisted me personally and most of all, thanks for all you do for our country!!
Ok, so the travelogue that never ends is down to this post and one more with some drink tributes to the soldiers.
– The Eiffel Tower is just a heaping pile of scrap metal. I remained just long enough to take this picture then I went looking for a bar.
– The Arc de Triomphe is lovely- for about five minutes, three if it’s rainy, cold and windy (which it was). I snapped a picture then hit a bar.
– I visited the Cathédrale Notre Dame and La Basilique du Sacré Coeur and didn’t burst into flames at either church so if there is a God, I suppose that’s a good sign. I went to Sacré Coeur close to sunset when dark clouds covered the sky so it had a very spooky vibe to it, which I thought was kind of cool. Outside there’s a panoramic view of the city, which I checked out for about five minutes then I headed to a bar (are you seeing a pattern here)?
– I strolled through the Ritz Carlton (on my way to the bar, naturally) but the drink menu didn’t include prices and I was scared that one cocktail would force me to sign over ownership of my car so I turned tail and ran.
– On my first night I met a guy who’s a director at the Louvre. He offered to give me a private tour and since he looked like David Duchovny with glasses I accepted. I decided to go on a Wednesday when it’s open during the evening and I gussied up for the occasion- I wanted to look like I was there to buy. Unfortunately, any convincing swagger I might have exuded was lost somewhere between my hotel in the ghetto and the cramped Metro ride. At the last minute I decided against the private tour. Even though museum geeks are kind of sexy, he was a bit too serious and I was worried I might get stuck hanging out with him after the tour. So I did it alone and right off the bat made a beeline to the most famous of all the Louvre’s paintings, Dogs Playing Poker.
Just my luck it was out for restoration so I settled for the Mona Lisa instead. I don’t know what I expected of the Mona Lisa, perhaps it would be in its own dark room where the glory of the painting illuminated itself while bullet-proof glass allowed you to get close and personal with the big ML. Nah, it’s in the middle of a big bright room with guard rails that keep you back about 15 feet. It’s one of the smallest paintings in the Louvre and I had a better view of it in my program.
After the Mona Lisa, I headed over to see the Venus de Milo, which looked no more spectacular than the plaster replicas you can buy at those street shops that also sell Jesus candles and tiger print seat covers. From there I whisked through the gay porn section (which would be almost every section). It’s amazing that gays are still fighting for equal rights when clearly there were plenty of ‘mos all the way back to the Renaissance. I actually lasted over an hour at the museum, although the last 20 minutes of that were spent trying to get out because apparently at the Louvre the French word for exit (sortie) means “Here’s yet another gallery to bore you.”
What I’ve finally come to accept after this trip is that I don’t have much interest in merely looking at things, particularly when viewing something up close isn’t any better than seeing it in a picture or on video. I did appreciate the spectacular architecture but that was something I could check out on my way to or from the bars. I suppose to some my bar hopping may seem like a waste but I met so many different characters and thoroughly enjoyed the Parisian experience that way. And if anybody ever wants to know about the nightlife in any Paris area, I can tell you about ALL of them (Bastille was my favorite).
When I’m home I very rarely get injured or sick aside from the occasional migraine but of course on vacation I had a couple problems. About midway through the trip, I poked my eye and scratched my cornea. I was comfortable self-diagnosing it because it happened once before, which was probably a good thing because it saved me from wasting an afternoon in a French hospital. If you’ve never had the pleasure, it feels like you have a big piece of sand in your eye and the slightest eye movement is excruciating. Luckily it healed very quickly this time but for two days I was sporting one completely bloodshot eye with constant tears streaming from it (but bless those horny Frenchies, even that awful look didn’t deter them).
On my last day, I woke up with a bad sore throat and I had the chills. By this point, I was exhausted and I just wanted to go home and I dreaded the 16 hours of travel ahead of me. I took the high-speed train to Frankfurt then I had to switch to another train for the short ride to the airport. It was a tight squeeze to make the second train and even though I’d piled all my luggage on pieces with wheels, it was still a lot to handle. Two women ahead of me boarded the train and then they stood there. I didn’t know the German word for “excuse me” so I said it about 10 times in three other languages but the bitches wouldn’t move. Even if you didn’t understand what someone was saying, wouldn’t the loud repetition of a word make you turn around and see what’s up?? I was afraid the door would close on me so I started to wheel my carry on bag into an open space and what I didn’t realize was that the entrance sloped downward. So my bag rolled down the ramp and pulled me with it and as I attempted to get my footing on the train, my leg slipped between the platform and the train and I bashed my shin on the side of it. Sure, THAT’s when the ladies jumped out of the way. At least if I’d gotten the 7-10 split with my luggage I would have derived a little pleasure from the situation. Instead, I ended up with a massive black bruise and a big bloody gash that six weeks later hasn’t completely healed. Between this incident and the one with the smoker blocking my entrance and one or two others I’ve heard about, I’ve come to the conclusion that Germans and trains are not a good combination.
I have never been so happy to return from a trip in my life. It was so great to return to warm weather and go to my familiar 7-11 where I could speak English to the Pakistani cashier who doesn’t speak English but dammit, I didn’t have to feel guilty for not speaking his language. And it felt wonderful to sleep in my own bed with my own down comforter that I could freely touch without worrying about its festering semen content. It was good to be home.
Twenty four hours later I was on the horn trying to book another trip. What can I say?