Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Well a very Happy New Year to you, upright reader.
I have a couple of very funny stories to tell you, but I am currently very busy with New Year's stuff (we are running a Pub Crawl in Munich.. Stress!!!), so I don't have time to write it. But, to give you a sneak peek: The monotony of my Dachau tours came to an end thanks to an old drunk dude, and later that night I hung out with a girl who reaffirmed the idea that I will eventually find "that one". Though she was not "the one" she was pretty friggin close (and hot and Brazilian).

With that, look forward to a post tomorrow morning and pray that I survive the night.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"Hidden Dragon, Lying Tiger" or "Taddle Tails"

Call me insensitive, but this news report is kind of funny. I am usually that guy who laughs at inappropriate times, especially those times that involve unfortunate and strange circumstances of death. As you know, my filter on what is appropriate and inappropriate often fails. This story made me choke on my breakfast beverage:
What's funny is not that a young guy was killed. That's terrible. But read this report on CNN and marvel that it was actually printed.

First, look at the picture. THAT'S the police chief? You mean, she is in charge of taking down murderers and rapists? My God, I bet Stephan Hawkings could beat the crap out of her with the electricity turned off.

Second, I love the line about halfway down the page: "According to the logs, zoo personnel initially told police that two men reporting the escaped tiger might be mentally disturbed and "making something up," though one was bleeding from the back of the head."
HOLY DOG SHIT! Not only is a tiger on the loose, but it's mentally disturbed! I don't know about you, but I always live by the maxim: Angry tiger + Daddy issues= SHOOT HER (Jurassic Park style). And if having a mentally disturbed tiger on the loose wasn't enough to loosen your bowels, this fucking tiger is "making something up". Dammit, it's playing mind games with us now. Fine mentally unstable tiger, go around slashing people's throats... but when you start making shit up, now you've gone too far. But hell, I can cut you some slack, seeing as how one of you is bleeding from the back of the head. That probably hurts like hell. Shit, I'd make stuff up too just to put myself out of misery.

Lastly, another priceless line: "Police said Friday that they had completed their investigation on zoo grounds and that investigators "found absolutely no evidence of an intentional release."
Well praise Jesus and the lambs, at least we don't have insane tigers convincing impressionable passers-by to open up the gates. I'm glad police figured that one out. I will continue paying taxes.

And in closing, you and your children may rest easy tonight because "Meanwhile, at the Oakland Zoo, officials have said they plan to raise the height of the walls surrounding their tiger enclosure to avoid any escapes like the one in San Francisco."

Fuck you San Francisco Zoo.
The Oakland Zoo

Enjoy your day,

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Grizzly Adams

Chuck Norris, eat your heart out.

(Note: If you are reading this Mr. Norris, please don't eat my heart out. I would never question your omnipotent destruction capabilities and humbly bow my head in submission to said abilities. I, just as the entire world, knows that you don't sleep at night. You wait.)

I am rocking a full on beard right now. One of my finest in these 22 years since my birth. Its full, thick, and wonderful to pensively stroke. I can't be a faux-intellectual until I have at least some piece of distinguishing hair. Hemingway had a beard. Freud had a beard (and cute glasses to boot!). Einstein had the crazy just-electrocuted hair. Dammit, I need it too. Luckily, I have a little patch of white hair that I have on my chin that just screams sophistication (when I shaved a few weeks ago, I realized that it is not the hair that is white, but that I actually lack pigment on that part of my skin. There is a white patch of skin when the beard is absent). And besides, it just feels good. I enjoy the formidable forest of man-foliage surrounding my smile. It keeps me safe.

I have a theory that I should always wear a beard in the winter. I feel like it is natural. Our ancestors didn't shave! Pish tosh! They ate with their bare hands raw flesh that was plucked off a fresh bleeding corpse! Ok, maybe I'll leave that part out. And everything else related to neanderthals. Except the beard.

Besides a symbol of sophistication, the beard also helps keep me warm. It shields my baby-bottom skin from the frigid cold, the bone-chilling rain, and unsightly blemishes. Even the snow likes the beard, as it clings lovingly along for the ride.

But on the whole, the beard is man's real best friend. It grows, matures, needs grooming, needs training and attracts ladies better than any drooling mutt can (that's a lie. A cute dog is unbeatable and a great conversation starter).

So yeah. Grow a beard if you can. Feel the magic.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Look, Part 2

And now we continue with your regularly scheduled program: "The Look, Part 2"

And there I sat, spaghetti carbonara in front of me and a tall glass of weissbier at my side; its stiff foamy head remaining suspended in mid-air, refusing to spill over the lip of the glass. I drink slowly from the weissbier, lest I should bury my nose in the foamy deliciousness. Savoring each tender moment, the brew and the boy exist in complete harmony. If my beer were a woman, we would be in love. If I were a beer, we would be in the same glass. The history of beer dates back to Babylonian times when a baker accidently left a loaf of bread in the rain and...

"blahblahblah schmekkktt?" (It means "did you like the meal?" in German)

My day-dreams had been interrupted by the waitress. Pulling myself out of my virtual ecstasy, I glance up to observe the origin of the rather sensual voice that has just awakened me...

Whoa momma.

This girl is beautiful. Like whoa. But that's not the point of this story. Lots of beautiful girls out there. I see them everyday. Nice, but not noteworthy. No. This chick had something else. She had style. She had class. She got moxy. But most importantly... she gave me "The Look" (My heart rate is reaching dangerous levels just writing this).

This chick shot me a look that might have killed a man who was more in touch than reality than I. I am going to try to describe exactly what happened. I am bound for failure, because this description is a lesson in futility. I cannot possibly capture the moment. But here is my best shot:

She was leaning over, palms on the tabletop, her head was cocked slightly to the left. Her body language screamed confidence and sexuality. Her eyes were adorned in black eye-liner, further accentuating the dark brown irises. Her hair was blonde. Her bod was killer. She was hot. She is hot. When I looked up at her, she gazed back down at me refusing to break eye contact. Bitch. When our eyes met, I saw her actually recognize the fact that she knew what she was doing. She has done this before. She is good. Here is a brief rundown of the following feelings and sensations I felt:

Step 1: Complete isolation. I felt an impending sense of doom. Think how Captain Kirk feels when the shields are down and a Romulan warbird is on the viewscreen (without magnification) and they are refusing to answer the hail. Hull breach imminent. I was in a state of catatonic disbelief. Running away was out of the question. I was too stupified. You know how animals start running away before an earthquake hits? They got the right idea.
Duration: 0.5 seconds

Step 2: Imagine being slugged in the chest with a cattle prod. Now scoff at how easy the cattle have it, multiply it by seven and send it coursing through all my veins. There is a feeling of electricity that runs through my body. I feel it most vividly in my calfs, chest, and elbows. I tense my muscles. The electricity is not instantaneous. It is like reaching the crest of a wave, and the descent is impending, slow, then faster, then complete. Heart rate accelerates. Breathing more rapid and shallow. Sweat forms on my forehead, back, and palms. I turn (more) pale.
Duration: 0.7 second

Step 3: You know the look on a little boy's face when he sees boobs for the first time? That.
Duration: 1.5 seconds

Step 4: Attempt speech. Fail.
Duration: Four trys

Step 5: Mumble incoherent German and offer an awkward smile and fumblings, giving the "A OK!" hand signal. Continue repeating "ser gut, ser gut" ("very good") until desired effect is achieved, namely, hottie walking away with a smile on her face.
Duration: 4 seconds

Step 6: Deep breath. The creeping sense of shame covers my body. I put my head in my hands and quietly laugh to myself.
Duration: 8 seconds

Step 7: Whip out my notebook and record the past 17.2 seconds.
Duration: the rest of the meal

Right now, 24 hours later, I can still see her face in my mind. The Look is something that I have seen before. It is the sense of mystery that emanates from it that attracts me so. However, the attraction is tempered by my realization of the attraction which in turn evolves into panic. My only hope is that eventually I shall become de-sensitized or immune to its disasterous effects. Time will tell.

The Look

Natalie recently pointed out that I live my life according to my next meal. Time is tracked according to which meal has just passed and my mood is dictated by my satisfaction or disgust with my gastronomic condition. Pity used to point this out as well, saying that I get cranky when I'm hungry. Whenever I was not in a talkative mood, he would yell out to me "Matty! Eat a sandwich!"

I think this is true, as I am currently eating breakfast (fruhstueck consisting of assorted breads and cheeses and a fine cup of coffee) in one of Munich's oldest cafes and I am quite content. Such was the case last night. I was in my favorite round-the-corner cafes where I usually order a small pasta dish (I have been on a mushroom kick this past week and can't get enough of the fungus. When I found out that the Roman emperor Claudius's favorite dish was mushrooms, I've been hooked. I guess I am an impressionable kind of guy. Or perhaps, just a friggin loser) and a tall glass of weissbier. Everything was going according to routine: I find a table against the wall (being in the middle makes me feel too exposed. I feel like I am on display and will often move all my stuff and my meal if a spot opens up against the wall), I break out my book (Paris: A Biography), and casually glance at the menu. Hmmm.... I know I will be drinking heavily tonight, so something hearty is best. Pasta carbonara. Perfect.

"Uhh... spaghetti carbonara und ein weissbier please.. uhhh.. bitte." (I purposely slip an English word in there to get the point across that I don't speak good German and that any sort of awkwardness in my speech is a result of said lack of ability. These little tricks have saved me many an accussing glance... I think).

CRAP. I have a tour in 15 minutes. Why is this post called "The Look"?? FIND OUT NEXT TIME!


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Quick post: Merry Christmas!

I spent my day giving a tour of Dachau concentration camp making people cry and my night at the Bavarian State Opera watching an opera in German and not understanding any of the plot! Actually, I had a blast. But I have to go, as I have another tour of Dachau in a half hour.


ps. I have not had internet access in a while, so the last two posts were written days ago but I could only post them today.

Do the Right Thing

Last night was supposed to be a quiet, contemplative night spent in solitary bliss, crawled up with my history of Paris book, warmed by the fluffy down comforter and the thoughts of successes to come. In bed by 10:30, I would awaken refreshed and motivated for my first city tour of Munich in 3 months. Opening my window, I would lean out and greet the new day with a hearty “Gut Morgen!” and proceed to powder my nose in preparation for the day’s events.

Instead I got drunk and woke up with a hangover.

There is a fantastic German tradition called “Stammtisch” which consists of old friends getting together every week or so and basically drinking themselves into oblivion. Philipp meets up with his friends at a cute little Bavarian restaurant in their home town (something that I realized about Bavarian culture/climate is that it closely resembles Vermont. The houses are mostly built out of dark woods, snow is perpetually falling in the winter, the mountains are easily accessible, and you need to be liquored up to stay warm). Luckily, I was able to attend this week’s Stammtisch with Natalie. After a hearty meal and a number of Munich’s finest brews, we ended the night in a sort of community center that Philipp had basically founded when he was younger. The place is in the basement of some building that I was too drunk to look at, and once downstairs there was a dancefloor, music, and naturally… more beer. Natalie and I have a civic duty to dance and sing (it’s in our contract) and make everybody else feel bad about themselves because we are so cool (either that or make them laugh hysterically due to our complete lack of social concern). After rockin to the beats of Michael and Justin, we called it a night and I freakin passed out.

Not before sending myself a text message though (kind of creepy waking up to a message I sent myself). It reads as follows: “key to the future, intermarriage”. Hmm. A rather profound thought for an inebriated brain. I am not sure why I thought of that at that moment, or quite what it means. My best guess is that I meant that a way to end racism, intolerance, bigotry, etc. is to mix the supposed “races” to show that the entire idea of “race” is complete bullshit that is a remnant of the 19th century. Through intermarriage, we can show that “race” is not concrete and a useless term which illustrates nothing and only serves to divide people. Take me for example: What “race” am I? I don’t know! My grandmother is Puerto Rican, and my grandfather is Russian Jewish, and on the other side it is a mix of German and Irish. Well… fuck. I don’t fit any “race” category. If you really want to dig deep, I am even part African! [Puerto Rico, along with most of the Caribbean, was populated by extinct native groups of people (“Caribs”, though maybe one island has a small population of descendants… I kind of remember reading that) who were wiped out by the colonizing Spanish (Christopher Columbus). The land was then resettled by African slaves and Spaniards, Dutch, English, etc. Therefore, Caribbean people today are a mix of African and European peoples.] “Race”=antiquated crap. “Culture” or “Heritage” or “Background” or “Descendants”= totally cool and actually useful terms. People look different, different colors, different clothes and foods… that’s culture. “Race” is indefinable and I guess is supposed to represent what area of the world people are from, but there is only one “race”… which is of course, the human race.

In conclusion, I had fun with my tour today and hate the idea that people should stay within their own “race”, because “race” does not exist.

Merry Christmas!

Large and In Charge

“With great power comes great responsibility.” Very true. However, with great power comes great urges to wield great power. Sometimes those urges are overwhelming. Sometimes… just sometimes… with great power, comes soiled undies.

It’s been weird having a degree of authority over people who I used to work with. Just a few months ago we were equals, collectively bitching and moaning about the mindless babblings of management and questioning their illogical projects. Solidarity was born through mutual misery. Suddenly, though, I am the man. I am management. Nothing really has changed with me or my personality, but currently there is a necessary degree of separation between the other employees and myself. This makes me uncomfortable. I haven’t changed, per se, but the situation has. Now, being friendly with your employees (which I guess they are now) is not always a good idea, especially if you have to eventually fire them, discipline them, etc.
Eh. I have an awful taste in my mouth. I’M A MONSTER! (Arrested Development… anybody?) But at the same time, I know that I can learn from my boss’s past mistakes (namely, insensitivity). I’ll just have to keep on truckin’ and do the best I can.

But hell, when I go to Paris in a few weeks, my job, as told to me by the owner, is to basically begin the Great Tour Guide Purge 2K8. I am to go in as the outsider, access and analyze the current tour-guides and then take necessary actions (you know what that means). I don’t have a relationship with any of them so I guess this is the best way for a company to fire people. The owner actually suggested that I read Machiavelli’s “The Prince” as a guide. Holy crap.
Basically, according to our Italian Renaissance friend, I should go in there as an asshole, fire people, burn them at the stake, pillage and chop off some heads, then ease up, grant amnesties and relax my iron-fisted grip. The piss-ants will think me magnanimous and worthy.
The alternative is to be the nice guy at first, making friends with the piss-ants, then possibly fire some… subsequently being viewed as an asshole. I don’t know about you, but I want to get the asshole taste over with as soon as possible. I don’t want a lingering taste of asshole (Note to Father: Don’t read this post to grandma).
“How many assholes do we have on this ship anyhow?” “Keep firing asshole!”

So I saw a nun on the train today. She cut all the zippers off her backpack. I guess nuns don’t care for advertising.


Friday, December 21, 2007


My Lord have I been busy. We have so much to cover and so little time! I think that the best way to bring you, lovely reader, up to date on my joyous journeys is through vignette form. Here are a few select instances in the past week that stick out in my mind:

1. I sat down for a wonderful European breakfast at this trendy little cafe the other day in Berlin (when I say "trendy" what I mean is that the service sucks, the people pretentious, and the portion size particularly puny, but the coffee is killer). To me, a European breakfast consists of an assortment of breads, cheeses, and maybe a little fruit. Everything the body needs! So, I order it up, wait for way too long, and then the waitress bring it over. Hoorah! A veritable orgy of proteins and carbohydrates awaiting consumption! Methinks I am a happy boy. I pick and sample, combine and spread, drink and eat. Ohhh... what is this? Obviously this is a European cheese I have not tried yet! Experimentation galore! I shall test it.... Hmmm... it's very soft and a bit slimy. I like that. It's kind of salty. Interesting. Try a bit more... wait a second. This isn't cheese. Shit. I just ate about a half a stick of butter.

2. I went out to a party with a co-worker of mine. It was a birthday party for his friend and I spent the next two hours sitting in a chair (a chair that was too good for me. We were all sitting in a room and I happen to pick the best chair in the entire house. I felt extremely uncomfortable. People are sitting on the lamanated wooden floors, and here I am, King Matthias I, seated atop his throne; I felt like an idiot), not saying a word. I couldn't understand anything. I just sat, like a moron, trying to gauge if a joke was told, to which I would slightly jiggle in faux-laughter. Torturous. We ended up going to a bar afterwards. A very Berlin underground bar. But, thanks to that wonderful Social WD-40 known as alcohol, pretty soon the entire room was speaking English like we were at the Queen's court. I made friends with a dude who spoke terrible English and tried to help him through it. Even in his barely comprehensible state, he made a profound statement. Something along the lines of "all we everybody needs is food, drink, house, and sex." It's poetic in it's simplicity. Regardless of Muslim, Jew, Indian, or Eskimo, we all need the same things. What is left after that is just icing on the cake, but it also goes by another name... "culture".

3. I blew it with the flate-mate situation. Big surprise.

4. I am reading Moby Dick for the first time. Wow. The classics used to scare me. They were an inaccessible myth. Something that only English majors read. How wrong I was! This is fantastic! Poetry in every paragraph! I often have to put the book down for a few moments in between sentences, just so I can reflect and savour what I just read. Magnificent.

5. I flirted with a waitress at a chic cafe the other day. She gave me the "ask me what I'm doing later" eyes (the kind where she doesn't break eye contact as she walked away from my table). Hot. Her smile... let me tell you about her smile. It was the kind of smile that can bring a strong man to his knees, lift his gaze skywards, and thank God for his worldly existence. The kind of smile that makes me think that love at first sight is a reality. The kind of smile that can bring world peace. The kind of smile that can start wars. She had the face that could launch a thousand ships. I kind of fancied her. But, I am in this funk where I acknowledge that I am leaving a given place soon, so I am unwilling to even explore a potential "situation" because I am afraid that I will actually really like her and then have to leave.

THIS JUST IN-- There has been a sudden scarcity of balls in Matt's pants. If you find any, please send immediately.

6. I took a road trip from Berlin to Munich. I loaded a mini-van-type thing with tour guide crap in Berlin, hopped in, turned on the radio, and took off. Let me tell you: The autobahn ain't worth the hype. Most people go at around 70 mph or so. Yeah, occasionally some Audi TT will blaze by at 150mph, but it's rare and fleeting. In my sexy man-van, I was chuggin at 73mph. More than that and I would have been on the evening news. I arrived in Munich in one piece, more familiar with the German countryside (beautiful), German radio (better than the US), and German drivers (worst on the planet).

That's all for now. I am in Munich doing all sorts of administrative crap. I enjoy it though. The business world gives me a little adrenaline boost. Must conquer and destroy competition. American imperialism at it's best. I'm off to a lunch date. Have your people call my people.


ps. I actually heard somebody in Berlin say, with disgust, "I fucking hate Pikies." I smiled with glee. If you have not seen the movie Snatch... go rent it right now.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hiatus Apologies

Hey Everybody,

Sorry for the lack of posts for the past few days. It has been crazy. In brief:
1. Partying with Germans
2. Drinking with tour guides
3. Solo road trip from Berlin to Munich, driving down the autobahn singing "She's A Maniac".
4. I'm back in Munich.

I am stressed right now due to work, but I will finish it tonight. Therefore, I must respectfully bow out and promise that, like MacArthur, I shall return.

Look forward to a post tomorrow!

Monday, December 10, 2007

All I Want For Christmas...

If I could have anything for Christmas this year, it would be a pair of balls.

I think I lost mine.

This is textbook "How Not to Attract The Opposite Sex." The saga continues: You remember that there is this girl, who is currently my flatmate, who I kind of fancy. Nothing deep, I just like the cut of her jib. Two nights ago we stay up until 4:30 talking about times past, the wonderful present, and the bright horizon of wonderful things to come over a nice bottle of 5 euro red wine (Spanish rioja), simultaneuously being seranaded by the soulful sounds of Miles Davis. Sounds nearly picturesque, right? Ended in a night of passionate exclamations of unending bliss? No. She asked if I wanted to use the bathroom first (that could be dirty out of context, but she meant did I want to brush my teeth before I went to bed, alone, first).

Here's how I fcuked it up: I just can't seem to make a move. I am paralyzed by pathetic ponderances. Overthinking every word she mutters, I am psyching myself out. Does that mean go in for the kill? Does this mean I should offer my first born son? Maybe this means it's time to consider a life of solitude scratching my hairy parts in a remote outcropping outside Lake Titicaca.

If I had those cherished balls for which I so dearly pine, I would walk into her room right now (she is less than 20 feet away from me on her cell phone) seize her arm (in a manly/romantic Humphrey Bogart fashion) lift her from her chair (she would clutch my bulging bicep to steady herself) and say "Hey kid, sorry about last night. **SMOOCH** (my fedora partially obscures the shot) It won't happen again." Then I would board the last departing plane and not look back. But she would run after me, her USO uniform flapping alluringly in the propeller draft, her high heels clicking on the wet tarmac, "But Matt, we barely knew each other." Then I'd turn around (the camera zooms fast to my face as I turn. I have a "I knew you'd say that" smirk) "We can fix that right now." After that, I throw her over my shoulder and slap her buttocks repeatedly, shouting "I'M THE KING OF THE MOUNTAIN, HEAR ME ROAR!"

Maybe I'll change that last part. Probably not.
In all seriousness, I feel like I have made it abundantly clear that I am interested. But then again, I can think big but often come up short. I need to be like "Listen, you know I'm asking you on a date right now, right?" But that seems forced.

I think my friends Jemaine and Bret explain the situation perfectly:

Enjoy my misery,

Sunday, December 9, 2007

No Man's Land

I hate it when I am sitting down in the streetcar, and then, uninvited, another rider sits opposite me. Well there goes my ability to thoughtlessly gaze about completely unobstructed. Now I have to not look in the direction of this other passenger. It is perfectly kosher to shoot an introductory glance; a "I'm making sure you're not packing heat" look. But after that, any eye contact whatsoever is strictly off limits. If I ever catch another passenger looking at me, I actually feel like I can declare a minor victory. Gotcha you sonofabitch.

But now I have this other passenger across from me, seated facing towards me. The situation couldn't be more awkward. We are looking right at each other, but can't actually look at each other. I can only glance to either side of their head (and the head has an associated buffer zone on either side where I can't look either). This makes for awkward transitions when I have to cross the Romulan Neutral Zone as quickly as possible to get to the other side of their head, to look out the opposite window (did I just unknowingly admit that I was/am a Star Trek nerd? Thanks dad).

I usually end up fumbling with my hands to pass the time. Or I scribble notes to make the other person nervous (when travelling, I always keep a little note pad and pen in my coat pocket in case I suddenly think of something to write in this blog. When I was sitting there, I realized the humor in this situation and jotted down a little note to help me remember, but simultaneously freaked out the girl sitting across from me. Here's this sketchy looking dude who laughed out loud to himself, whips out a pen and pad and scribbles jibberish on it).

Just had to vent,

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Schmoozin' and Boozin'

Dark suits. Cold hands, wet with drink perspiration. Transparent smiles. Group huddles around small pieces of furniture. Promises soon to be forgotten.

Shoot me in the kidney. I'm becoming a businessman.

I didn't realize it at first. Things seemed a little different, but I shrugged it off and dismissed it merely as "I'm in a new environment and it's natural to feel uncomfortable." But then I started detecting subtle changes. For one, I was shaking a hand every fifteen minutes. I started rubbing elbows with the upper management. However, it didn't really hit me until a friend of mine (an extremely funny Irish girl. When I say Irish, I'm not talking Colin Ferrell Irish {is he Irish?}, but I'm talking Michael Flatley Irish. This chick is fluent in Gaelic for christ's sake. Her accent is absolutely charming, with my favorite pronounciation being that she doesn't say "Third Reich" but instead "Turd Reich" {That would be a great band name}) said to me that I was now the company's "little toy". Then it hit me like a 1-2 from Lennox Lewis (random choice of boxer): I am no longer one of the little guys. I am officially "middle management."

Horrifying! Being a little guy was fantastic. Things were easy. You show up, do the tour, make money, go home. Done. Not any more.

I was finishing up my dinner at a quaint little Berlin restaurant last night (they have one of my favorite beers there: a Dunkels Hefe, which is basically a darker wheat beer) when I get a call from one of my managers. Naturally, when his name pops up on my cell phone I have a panic attack. I did something wrong and I don't even know what, and worse yet, he is going to tell me exactly what that mystery thing is. Dammit. There goes my post-dinner high.

But no, he is not calling to reprimand me. Instead, he invites me to a party that is serving free booze. I start to run. I have a 1 in 360 chance that it is in the right direction. I'll take that chance. It turns out that this party is special though. Only certain people can go. I tell him that I am about to meet up with my Irish friend, but he says "You should be here now. And Matt, don't bring the Irish chick." Whoa. Lesson #1: Don't be too friendly with those that work for you. Ouch. That reeks of capitalist indifference. I'll hold my breath.

I show up to the party and everybody is in a suit or dress, with a security blanket drink in one hand, and shaking free hands with the other. The owner of the company calls me over and I realize that this is not a party. This is a freakin' business affair. I have to be on my best behavior (but at the same time fully appreciate the free booze. I'm just thinking economically here). He introduces me to "one of our most important partners." Oh great, what the hell am I supposed to say to this dude? "Hi I'm Matt, may I felate you?"

My job as far as I see it is to schmooze. I mingle, make small talk, subtly hit on the ladies, talk about the ladies with the dudes. I behave myself when appropriate and make dirty jokes when called for. I am a corporate geisha, at the service and disposal of my masters.

How was your day?

ps. Later that night I got tanked (way too much) at a co-worker's party. I knew you would want to hear how the story ended. Somebody go revive my mother.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Matt's Basic Mis-Guidance, Part II: The Over Share

Now hold on a sec! Are you telling me that you are still making it with the ladies? They have not run in fear, spilling their valuables onto the pavement in a vain attempt to escape your blumbering attempts at conversation? Well have I got news for you! Here comes Basic Mis-Guidance Part II: The Over Share.

For reasons unknown, I have the annoying habit of spilling all my beans way too early in a conversation with a new person. Things that should not be revealed for years (if ever) I have the need to tell right away. My guess is that I am trying to be free and honest, but I know that it comes off as strange and sketchy. Combine that with tense nerves and raging hormones and disaster is usually to follow. Here are a few brief examples of things I shouldn't ever discuss, but enthusiastically bring up in the first ten minutes of conversation:

1. Love of musical theatre
2. Love of dancing
3. Love of singing
4. Love of history
5. my mother

Well now isn't that great? She is going to think I am a gay, dork, momma's boy. Honestly I don't know how she is possibly keeping her hands off me at this point. I must be irresistable. Not quite...

In conclusion, if you are looking to scare a good girl away, feel free to expand on my list with these other juicy morsels:

Current girlfriends
Irritating rashes
Sexual fetishes
Current medications
Violent thoughts
Voices in your head
Talking toothbrushes

If she isn't running scared after that... you should be.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Matt's Basic Mis-Guidance to Dating

So you want to lose with the ladies? Looking to have them run away in fear/uncontrollable laughter? Well you are in luck, because I have the insider knowledge that will have you on the fast track to a restraining order in no time!

To bring you up to date: I was sort of intrigued by my boss's flatmate recently (update: I am living temporarily in my boss's apartment while he is away for a week in Paris). After building up my courage like the cowardly lion I am, I got up the guts to ask her out for a drink. That's what I do. We "go out for a drink." It's very neutral. There aren't any expectations. She knows it won't be a candle-lit dinner, which could be very intimidating. But at the same time it's not "2 for 1 Ladies Night" at the local honky tonk saloon. No, it's "a drink" which, to me, usually means a nice, dimly/perfectly lit restaurant or wine bar, where there is audible music (preferably a light droning electro/mood music) to cover possible awkward silences, and the possibility of conversation is very high. The wait-staff is wearing all black and the bar area is under-lit in soft neon glow. You know the place. Right there.

But first... the pitch. You need to seal the deal. Here's how I did it this time (and, unfortunately, how I all too often do it): I ask what she is "up to" tonight. Innocent question. Here's where I totally f*ck it up:
"Hey ____, what are you up to tonight?"
"Oh nothing much, my..."
(interrupting)"Cool, would you want to maybe get a drink?"
(overlapping) "...Dad is coming tonight to help me move a sofa."
(recovering too enthusiastically)"Oh cool! (voice raises an octave and sweat appears on the palms) Do you need a hand?"
(getting weirded out)"No thanks. That's sweet. We'll be..."
(interrupting)"Rockin' {one of my favorite phrases that should have stopped being used in the late 80's}. Maybe afterwards?"

Here's the problem. At this point, any of my "game" has gone out of the window. Oh sure, before this I was full of charm and elegance. I knew the perfect moments of when to look her in the eye and when to cast my glance aside. I knew that precise instant where it would be killer if I just jokingly nudged her on the shoulder, breaking the touch barrier. I owned that. But now there's a problem. All the energy that I built up in the pre-pop-the-question minutes is now finding rapid release. I am losing it! My cool is gone.

I am no longer trying to ask her on a date.
I am solving a friggin' problem.
And that problem is me wanting to get her to say "yes" to a drink.

Unknowingly at that moment, my only goal was for her to say "sure." Or even a "I'll let you know." Her indecisivness/polite rejection was coming up on my radar as "First option destroyed. Proceed to Plan B."

After a few awkward moments she agreed to "have a drink" that night, and we did and it was nice. But that's not what this story is about. This is about how freakin' funny it is when I get as rambunctious as a seven year old with ADD eating a sleeve of Fun Dip. Social norms? Forgotten. "Game"? Out the window. Self respect? In the gutter.


ps. In case you aren't aware, self-deprecation is one of my forms of humor. I am certainly not down on myself. It's just in good fun. However, she didn't know that. She asked me why I put myself down. All I could do is chuckle to myself, hope this was just a cultural thing, and basically explain this was just my awkward way of breaking the ice. Which leads me to "Matt's Basic Mis-Guidance to Dating, Part II: The Over-Share." See you next time!

Monday, December 3, 2007



So How Bout Them Yankees?

There is a guy in our company who intimidates me. He is one of my many bosses and whenever he is around, my eyes scan the room for the closest window in case it is necessary to take a safety leap. He is one of those guys who doesn't need to say anything in order to find fault with others. He lets you do the incrimination. In conversation, he often stares at me without speaking, mid-conversation, forcing me to break the awkward silence with non-intelligable banter. Panic overcomes my normal thought processes during these situations and I just start talking about anything my feeble mind can puke up. Weather, traffic, bird migrations, bowels... anything to stop the deafening silence. After thoroughly humilitating myself, I usually walk away shaking my head and muttering outloud "You are a f*cking idiot Matt" multiple times. A favorite past time of mine is to mime shooting myself in the forehead. Literally, I will do this when nobody is around. It's a nice release.

As of now, I still can't find a solution to this problem. When he stops talking and starts staring, I can't just join in with him. Staring at a dude in silence isn't exactly my idea of a good time. There has to be a solution. Maybe I can create an imaginary illness that affects me at random and use it as an excuse to excuse myself (Excuse me?). Nah, that stuff can be investigated and revealed. Unfortunately, I cannot reasonably pre-plan a conversation to start up once this situation arises. Once there is silence, panic overcomes my body and my brain instantly transforms to moldy cottage cheese.

My only defense now has to be awareness. He is an incredibly smart guy and is probably fully aware of what he is doing. In fact, I see a faint smile run across his face when I start fumbling for words. Okay. It's time to apply the military maxim "Use an enemy's strength against him." (I need to get a life. By the way, I was assigned to spy on one of our tour guides today to see if he did a good tour, and you can't imagine how excited I was. I'm surpirsed I didn't apply for a gun permit.) Now, the next time I see him, and this thing starts to happen, I am going to pull an "I'm too cool for school" and instead of vomit-talking, I will just pull up the closest chair (or lean back if already seated) and bring up sex. Side-note: This guy is obsessed with himself and sex, and the combination of the two. This is perfect. What is the best way to avoid a monster? Throw one of the fat guys in front of it. Feed the monster. Turn the conversation from Moron Matt into Hey That New Tour Guide is Pretty Hot. I might not actually think that, but no matter. The attention has been diverted and I am saved. Praise the gods. Let's hope this goes according to plan.

Famous last words?


"Hell, these people are cleaner and a damned sight friendlier than the French. They're our kind of people." - A liberating G.I. refers to the German people.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Berlin, First Impression, Second Movement


Mention the city name, and images start to come to mind: The Wall. Hitler and the Nazis. Rubble. David Hassellhoff. Take any event of significance in 20th century politics and realize that it probably happened in Berlin. World War I, World War II, the Cold War. The history is overwhelming. If you can't already tell, I sort of dig this place.

Let it be known that I have not abandoned my first love, dear old Munich. No, I shall forever hold Munich close to my heart. But Berlin is different and I am growing to appreciate that.

Munich: spotless. sophisticated. chic. conservative. welcoming. relaxing. "gemutlichkeit". (one of those fantastic words that doesn't have a direct translation in English {how friggin pretentious do I feel right now [and I'm loving it]}. Gemutlichkeit is sort of that idea of a community which feels like a family. "Warmth" is one way of putting it. Here's an example: Walk into a restaurant and you immediately feel at home as the other patrons smile pleasantly at you and the waiter gives a hearty "Gruss Gott!" You know that feeling when you walk into a bakery or barbershop and you just feel like you belong, almost as if they were waiting for you? That is gemutlichkeit. Live it.)

Berlin: new. edgy. modern. grungy. liberal. underground.

But, I have still only been here for about four days, so I will not make any judgements yet. Just know that as of now, I can see the allure and how the city lives up to its hype.

As of now I have just been taking tours of the city with our company, trying to learn all of the details of the various buildings, memorials, and streets. I have a test on Tuesday, so keep your fingers crossed.
Right now I am living in my boss's apartment, as he is going away on business for a week. Thought the hostel wasn't too bad, it is incomparable to life with privacy. For those of you who don't know, I am a very private person (I say that with a cheeky wink, as this blog is evidence to the contrary). But honestly, I need my space and need the opportunity to escape from public life to my only little sanctuary. If denied this basic human right, I start to get progressively crankier (Hmm, a thought just entered my head: what are the basics that I, Matt, need for survival. What I mean is, given food and water, what else would I need in order not to lose my mind? What little quirks do I need to satisfy? Well, first off is hot water. I friggin' need hot showers to survive. It is my personal form of meditation. I could go without showering for days if not weeks if necessary {overshare?}, but give me a cold shower and I will out to kill. I also need good sleep. Those nights of crashing on some friend's couch with only my blazer to cover me are forever etched in my brain as a prelude to Hell.).

But enough about that, let's talk about sex. Give the people what they want, right? Well, a funny thing happened about ten minutes ago that I figure you would enjoy: So I am living at my boss's apartment right? He has two flatmates who I have not met yet... Until now! He has a very cute, very single (she made that clear) flatmate who lives in the room next to me. (Cue the "bow chica bow wow").

Watch me cower in the corner and soil myself,

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I'll Take a De-Caf

Chalk up my first foreign friend in this, my second European excursion. On my flight to Vienna, I happen to sit next to a delightful Swedish man and we talked for much of the nine hour plane ride. I knew things were going good when he asked another passenger (an American) where row 30 was in German, and I answered back to him in that wonderful language. “Drei-zig ist hier.” Ahh, feels just like the old times. I’ve still got it. Pigeon-German is my specialty.

Anyway, we sat down and got to chatting. He is originally from Sweden, but has lived in Vienna, Paris, New York and various other important cities all his life. Currently he is an antique dealer in Manhattan (and has sold merchandise to Brad Pitt {who is charming and down to earth}, Whoopi Goldberg {a personal friend}, Barbara Streisand {a bitch}, Robert de Niro {unpleasant}, and Harrison Ford {a micro-managing perfectionist}). We talked about history, Lafayette, politics, music, theatre, French wines, yachting, etc. (Let it be known that I had to bullshit my way through half of our conversations. I might like wine, and I can tell a good wine from a bad wine, but that’s about it. And yachting? Please. Not all Trinity grads have been yachting. But he doesn’t know that.). Well, this trip has started wonderfully!

Then my luck ran out. Dammit. This was bound to happen. I got out of the airport, searched for the city trains, and eventually found my way to the center of Vienna… kind of. First, I got lost for about two and a half hours. It seems that in my attempt to get to the city center, I walked in the completely wrong direction. Like, the exact opposite of correct. After multiple “do you speak English?” (In German, of course. I just don’t know how to spell “Sprechen zie English” {that might be right}) queries, I finally found my way there. A wonderful city. Very charming. Not touristy like Prague, yet still has that old city feel. However, I found that I don’t quite have my walking legs anymore and I had to sit down rather often. The problem with that, however, is that whenever I want to sit down I have to sit at a café (it’s too cold to sit outside). That means I have to order a drink. Four cups of coffee and two cappuccinos later, compounded by not sleeping for 26+ hours, I am about to have a friggin’ heart attack. Totally tweaking out over here. My ears are ringing and my legs are quivering (I don’t know if that’s the caffeine or the exercise). Plus, I am burning through money faster than MC Hammer circa 1991. In a vain attempt to remedy the situation, I have barricaded myself in an airport bar where I am drinking terrible Austrian red wine (they are known for their whites apparently. My bad.). Let’s see how long I can keep this up.

Oh, and to top it off, I went to re-load my cell phone with minutes at a place here and ended up accidentally buying an Austrian SIM card. Bottom line, I wasted about 10 euros or so for no reason whatsoever. Fantastic. I’m an idiot. Then the battery died. It took a piece of my soul with it.

No matter. My flight to Berlin is in a few hours and I my blood sugar will hopefully have mellowed out by then. Another glass of the red please.


It Starts...

Hey Guys! These next two posts are outdated, as I didn't have internet access when I wrote them. But, look forward to new posts with current information shortly:

The familiar smells of sanitation, the sound of shuffling feet and jingling change, restless travelers nervously clutching their essential documents and double checking the gate number. Ah, yes. We are back in the airport; one of the few places on Earth where the international community gets along and respects each other. You know, it’s sort of like Mutually Assured Destruction (the idea that nobody will launch a nuke because then everybody else would launch their own). Here, the majority of people are on edge and only worried about themselves and their schedules. Nobody has time to worry about or really take into consideration the dilemmas of those “others” that abound. Therefore, we all get along! We’re in this together.

I like to sit back and quietly observe the rest of my fellow travelers as if they were the subjects in my giant lab experiment. I sit back with my last American beer in hand (Sam Lager) and ask: How do they interact? What do they sound like? To me, all I really hear above the hum of conversation are the percussive “s” and “t” (It kind of reminds me of those times in my youth when I used to go to church with my family. During the Lord’s Prayer, I always got a kick out of the repetitive “s” and “t” sounds in the following passage: “And forgive us our Lord, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and deliver us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” I wonder if they did that on purpose? Mark, Luke, Paul, John… Ringo. You sly devils.)

Sitting down in the more comfortable-than-I-remember chairs next to my gate (faux-leather and all), I suddenly remember how I dearly hate wireless internet terminals that charge for the service. They are sadistic a-holes. I swear, these terminals are fed on pain, despair, and tears. Here’s why: I open up my laptop and am overwhelmed with joy to discover that I have a signal. Joyous cherubs alight! I have a friggin’ signal! I think I shall check my email and watch videos of Peter Frampton concerts from 1973 (Do You Feel Like We Do?). Double clicking the Internet Explorer, my toes are wiggling with anticipation. But to my disgust, the page asking for credit card information pops up. Immediately I ponder if I have the technical wherewithal to hack past this crap and give Boingo Wireless (no joke, that’s the name) a firm, erect middle finger. Then I remember that I broke my iPod by leaving it in the rain. Right. I think I’m going to be stumped by this one. You win Boingo. You always do.

By the time I post this, it will be moot as I will be in Vienna or Berlin, but I just wanted to vent.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Act II

The intermission is finally over and Act II begins.

I'm heading back to the Fatherland. Break out the lederhosen, fill up the steins, and clog the arteries.

That's right. Tomorrow I start the next leg of my European adventures. Up first on the bill: I am flying Austrian Airs tomorrow from JFK to Berlin, with an eight hour lay-over in Vienna. That might sound like a pain in the buttocks, but I am actually really excited about it. After throwing my bags onto my next plane, I have a few solid hours to explore a new city. And apparently Vienna has a thriving coffee culture. I don't know if ordering a cappuccino is a punishable offense, but I'll let you know.

Now, this entire chain of events all started only one week ago. Last Wednesday, after talking to my boss in Berlin, we decided that it would be best if I returned to Germany asap. I was waiting for my French visa to go through the deepest depths of bureaucratic Hell, but found out that it would take a little longer than I previously thought. So I might as well not waste any more time in the States, living as an insatiable parasite upon my parent's bank account. No, it's time to be somewhat contributing kinda slightly to society once again by giving the best damn tour around... and drinking heavily. And telling you about it.

If I said that I was totally ready to get back into it, I'd be lying. I have this dull ache in the back of my chest, which is a feeling I am familiar with. It's the "I think something is going to go wrong but I know it won't" feeling. My guess is that I have become so acclimated to sitting on my ass for weeks on end watching episodes of LOST while eating hummus and triscuits, that the very idea of action and bodily activity is scaring me. But I want to do it. I need to. Right now, I am Jabba... but I want to be Han. Or Lando. I love Billy Dee Williams.

Either way, I am going to do it. Berlin for 22 days, then Munich for a month, then home for 12 hours, then Paris for 4 months. And of course, noble reader, you are coming along with me, because the only way I keep my sanity in a land where I don't speak the language is to talk to myself and then relay that inner-monologue to you. Thanks.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Eighth Layer of Hell

Dante ain't got nothing on the Tow Pound.

Now when I say "Tow Pound," what images come to mind: Professional wrestler? Bruised phalanges? How about the deepest inferno-pits of Heck? The latter is closer to the truth.

I was in the city yesterday (Naturally, by "the city" I mean New York City. NYC has grown on me exponentially in these past few weeks. Prioir to my triumphant MacArthuresque return to the States, I had only been to NYC about a dozen times. In these three weeks, I have been there about four or five times. Nearly every weekend. Only now am I beginning to understand the allure and the near mythic status that this city holds with many people. It truly is unique. In my humble travelling experience, there is no other city like it. My conclusion is that there is no "center" to NYC. In most cities, people gravitate towards one particular area, like the "old town" for many European cities. NYC does not have that. Every area has its own charm and appeal. A theater person? Times Square. Fashion? SoHo. Food? Little Italy (and everywhere in between). Anyway... what the hell was I writing about before? Let me end this tangent) visiting Jerome in SoHo. I park my car, try to look as fashionable as possible (pretty tough on a tour guide budget, but I think I do alright) and strut my stuff to Jerome's place. We chill, eat, drink, for about an hour and then decide to head out. Let's go back to my beloved automobile which I cherish oh so dearly!
It's sleek and sexy curves.
It's blacker than night paint.
It's slightly vomit perfumed interior (another story for another time).
It's unneccesarily large spoiler.
It's.... it's.... it's not there.

Where the hell is my car? Dude, where the F*CK is my car? It was right here! Right here. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe I parked it down the road. No. Another street. Nope. Alternate dimension. Not likely. Dammit. It got towed.

After a perilous trek through the meanest of the mean streets of NYC, Jerome and I (Jerome acting as the fearless navigator huntsman, quick on the heels of his quarry... I, acting as the wormy spineless sidekick who keeps urging my master, "Mister! Mister! We go back! Dis place haunted.") finally arrived on the West Side (literally) by the piers. We entered into.... The Tow Pound.

Imagine this: A single room painted half blue, half white filled with uncomfortable chairs circa 1982, security cameras everywhere, no clocks, a single broken vending machine, and throngs of pissed off New Yorkers (black, white, latino, asian, rich, poor: a true NY crowd) looking to get their beloved vehicles back. The tellers are behind glass. It didn't strike me as odd at the time, but upon reflection that fact rather intrigues me. If they need to be behind projectile-repellant glass, that means that there was probably a reason to put the glass there in the first place. Who would actually look to harm another precious human life because of their own carelessness?

I would... unless you give me my friggin' car back.

After an eternity of nearly an hour, and piles of a few pages of paperwork, surrounded by the most bloodthirsty friendly people on the planet, I finally was able to retrieve my car. Utterly frustrated, I spent the rest of the night visiting friends and bar hopping across that beloved island. The End.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Good Quote

Get this:

"Acknowledged ignorance is the gateway to knowledge."

I like that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Future is... ChoiceMail!

Since the last post was lame, I thought of a new one almost immediately. I am going to share with you, dear reader, my invention that I thought of a few years ago. I know that I will never pursue patenting this, and if it eventually does get "invented", you will know that I thought of it first and humanity shall reap the benefits I have sown. That's good enough for me.

So, it's called the "Cellular ChoiceMail." Did he just say "voicemail?" No, I said "ChoiceMail", because I am so damn clever (it's a stupid name and I am working on it, but it kind of makes sense. Want to know how? Turn to page 36! [do you remember those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books? For those of you who missed the greatest thing to happen to literature since Gutenberg, CYOA books had the reader reading along some plot line {usually in some scary location} and then there would suddenly be a decision to make. Something like: "Should Tom and Sally enter the Haunted House or go home in time for TV dinners?" Then, depending on which choice you made, the reader would then turn to the appropriate page {"To enter through the front door, turn to page 18. To enter through the back door, first consult your physician," etc.}. The story would continue based on your decision. Friggin sweet.] Moving on...)

Here's how it works: On your cell phone, there will be a rather large and conspicuous (preferably red) button, easily pressable, located near the top. The user will press and hold that button, and then speak into the phone and record their ChoiceMail answering service. Instead of having that generic "Hello you've reached Matt's cell phone (I've always hated that greeting. "Hey, that's funny... Matt's cell phone sounds just like Matt!" Shut up.) , leave a message after the beep", you could quickly change that to cater to different situations. For example:

You're about to enter a four hour meeting with the budget committee. You want those who call you to know that you are about to enter said meeting. Push the button. Hold the button. Say "Hey it's Matt, I am in a meeting right now. I'll be out in four hours." Release the button. Magic abounds. Then, when Mary McLady calls to talk about your dinner date, she will hear your ChoiceMail, which says you are in a meeting. "Oh, he is not ignoring me. He is just in a meeting. I eagerly await his return telephone call!"

The possibilities are endless!
"Hey it's Matt. I am at the movies right now. Call you when it's over."
"Hey it's Matt. In the bathroom right now. Send reinforcements."
"Hey it's Matt. I'm so high right now. Look at all the pretty colors. Rain is so cool."

And the only time you don't need ChoiceMail is when you are able to answer the phone! Best of all, people will no longer think you are ignoring their phone calls, even if you really are. Is that weird kid from that party last night still calling you? ChoiceMail to the rescue! Just say "Hey it's Karen. I am in Fiji right now tracking pirates. Be back in six months." Simple!

Get your's today!

Blood Sport

Sorry for the lack of blog-posts recently. In all seriousness, I am so bored here that there is not too much to write about. No crazy thoughts have entered my head (fancy that). No random encounters with poetry reciting geriatric Englishman on subways at two in the morning (did I tell you about that one? It's rather self explanatory I think). Nope, just spending my days at home watching my limbs slowly deteriorate from inactivity. Wake up at 11, take a few laps around the kitchen, then basically waste time until the evening. Fascinating and productive... I know. You must be so jealous.

No Matt, dammit, you need to keep sharp! What is there to write about? There has to be something out there that catches your fancy. Hmmm...

What's the deal with obsessive sports fans? You know: those guys who break the flat screen with a well aimed remote control because Joe McMan missed the field goal. I have never understood how people could get so frustrated over something they have absolutely zero influence and zero control over.
Perfect example: Red Sox and Yankees fans. Now, I am not a big sports fan, but I like watching football and baseball. Sure. However, I don't have a "team" per se. Except when I am watching baseball with a Red Sox fan. All of a sudden I ready to carve the "NY" symbol into my forehead with a dirty fountain pen and I am quite willing to take the lives of those around me. Why? Normally I don't care who wins or loses, as it doesn't matter, but having one person say to me "Yo, Yankees suck" gets me so aggravated and frustrated that I want to do violence.

Watching sports is the modern equivalent of gladiatorial games. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I guess my question is why the violent outbursts from the spectators? Hmm... Think about those who you know who are prone to fits of anger while watching sports. Are they prone to fits of anger in other situations in normal life? The first few people I am thinking of (I wouldn't dare name names) definitely are. Interesting, I think.

Chew on that,

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Nearly Stream of Consciousness

Well now, life in the US... not too bad. Things have been going good. I have three meals a day waiting for me in the various compartments of my kitchen. That's a welcome addition life. I get to drive my car again. If you know me well, then you know I am obsessive with driving my car. In a way, it is sort of like the Tanto to my Lone Ranger (wait, was Tanto the horse or the Indian? Dammit, I made a reference that I am too young to get...). There is no feeling comparable to the feeling of driving with the windows down, aviators on, screaming/singing with complete disregard of vocal health and the happiness of others. Invigorating.

That being said, I can't wait to get back to Germany. What I miss most (besides my friends there) is the life. I miss the city life, where I can go out on any day of the week and find something awesome to do at 11:00 at night or 8:00 in the morning. Long Island... well... it kind of sucks. Good place to live or raise a family, sure, but let me tell you: it sort of sucks. Things here (at least my area) are so homogeneous (Read: boring). There is very little diversity, in either people (mainly middle class white) or activities. There isn't that sense of internationalism, the bigger picture, that you find in say, New York City or Munich. Ahhh... Munich...

I like the feeling of vulnerability. While in Europe, the fact that I didn't know the language or the people forced me to be responsible. At home, for what it's worth, things are handed to me on a silver-handled platter. Truly, my head could be filled with fresh steamed broccoli and I could survive here because whatever I need is provided. That's nice to know, but doesn't exactly force me to be sharp. Book smarts can be learned with a bit of patience and determination. Street smarts can only be learned through experience. Somebody can't teach you to be self-sufficient, as it were (over-dramatic, but you know what I mean). You have to go out there and do it, and face the consequences of poor decisions. That's what I miss.

And sometimes-- just sometimes-- the poor decisions are the best decisions.

So what happens after my little adventure called "post-grad life"? I can't get the thought out of my head that even though this is totally crazy (running away to Europe to give tours. of all things), it's not quite crazy enough. Even in Europe, things are pretty easy. I can get by. What if I couldn't? I don't know what I am saying. Mom asked me why I sometimes feel like it is my duty to inflict hardship on myself. In true martyr fashion, I sometimes look to make things more difficult than needs be. Masochism (not the kinky kind). Who knows. My feeling is that I want to be tough (I think I just heard the entire MattyReed blog community collectively pee their pants in laughter). Not Charles Bronson or Chuck Norris tough. Unfortunately, my 160 pounds of pure fury couldn't take out Helen Keller on a good day. No, I want to be unfazed by chaotic circumstances; to abhor panic; to have absoluetly nothing frighten me. Huh. Maybe that's it.

Also, to be completely honest (as I always try to do in this blog) I do have romantic notions (read: delusions) of gallantry. Put me on a grand white steed with a flowing red cape and I'm all set. My guess is that these delusions are a product of too many military history books and movies. Often, I think that if I ever had a past life, I am 100 percent positive that I was once a soldier. I know it. I can't explain it, but I know it. I just feel it sometimes. Sometimes I even fantasize about it. I imagine what would happen if there should ever be a "call to action" as it were. Not even military in nature, but just something that called for action in some respect. I am not sure what that means, but I just want to be ready for it. In order to be ready, I need to be "tough", in my own words. In order to be tough, I need to experience hardship. In order to experience hardship, I need to leave my comfortable surroundings.

Well I'll be damned. I think I finally figured it out.
Leaving Comfort=>Experience=>Toughness=>Preparedness

Let me think about that one,

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Triumphant Return

Yes, yes... I have returned to those good ol' United States here in America. Since my passport expired and I was not quite in the mood to get deported from Germany (though that would be a great story), I chose to come home for a few weeks. Well, I didn't "chose" per se. It was the logical decision to make, but, as you have read, logic isn't always the motivating force in my life decisions. Either way, around mid-November, my travels will begin once again and take me to my next stop: Berlin. (Soon to be followed by Paris, and later Madrid.)

So far, it has been rather relaxing at home. Long days of lying in bed watching the second season of LOST (which, I delightfully forgot to mention, was the show I was watching in bed, in my underwear, when the mime called [see previous post]), trips to Hartford and NYC to visit friends, and cruising down the boulevard, windows down, sunglasses on in my gangsta-mobile.

I realized recently that I had to make the decision as to whether I should continue writing my blog, as it was originally conceived as being simply a way of sharing my travelling experiences with friends, family, etc. But, after some thought I have decided to continue writing here, as I find it rather therapeutic! So, look forward to more blog posts coming your way; chock full of imaginative detritus, random rantings, indulgent tangents, and stupid stories.

Until next time,

Sunday, September 30, 2007


I have been struggling for the past few weeks, wondering how I was going to tell you, stalwart reader, one of my favorite Munich stories. It’s so complicated that I knew it would be difficult to convey effectively. Well, while at an underground jazz club in Prague (where I met a lovely couple from Austria who bought all of my drinks for the night), it suddenly dawned on me: I am going to tell you the ending first, and then we will go back in time (Tarantino would be proud) and see how I arrived at that ending. So, here’s what happened:

I called a gay mime at midnight and told him I was in my underwear lying in bed.

If you are not cleaning up your own bodily fluids that leaked during that outrageous burst of laughter, go back and read that sentence again: I, Matt, telephoned a mime. That’s pretty funny. He’s a gay mime. That’s hysterical. I told this gay mime that I am in my bed, alone, in my apartment, in just my skivvies. That’s damn near genius. How the hell did this happen, and more importantly, what happened afterwards? Here’s how it went down:

One day, long ago, I was strolling down the boulevard whistling a merry tune, greeting elderly ladies, and giving lollipops to eager children in sailor outfits. Twas a fine summer day indeed. Whilst meandering down the lanes, I suddenly came upon a golden man. Literally, he was made of gold. My curiosity got the best of me, so I went over to investigate, only to discover that he was a local street performer who I had seen before. Rather good, as far as Munich performers go. He is one of those “Hey, I’m a statue. Hark! A small golden coin! I am now no longer a statue, but instead I shall change my position in a mechanical looking way and surprise all of my onlookers” street performers. He was smoking a cigarette in human mode, leading me to think he was on a mime break. Since I fancy myself a charming chap, I sauntered up to him and started to chat. He speaks English. Great. He is Polish. A rather fine young fellow.

Zoom ahead about two months.

I see the mime occasionally and he gives me a knowing wink every once in a while (even whilst still in statue mode! The others never detect it. The newbies…). While with Natalie and Philipp one day (actually the day we bought lederhosen) we ran into the mime again. After chatting, we discover that he is also a bartender at night. He kindly invites us to the establishment, so we decide to exchange numbers. To give me his number, he calls my phone (A Note to the Elderly: today, we have devices called cellular telephones [hereafter referred to as “cell phone” {“cell” is short for “cellular}]. Instead of remembering all cell phone numbers, we can “store” them in the phone. To do that, we call the other phone and after their phone number pops on the “screen”, we can “store” it). We continue to exchange pleasantries for a few more minutes, and then depart.

Zoom ahead three weeks

Natalie is getting a new cell phone. Hoorah! Well, she calls me to tell me that she has a new phone (the number pops up as “unknown” as her stored number did not pop up, as she was using the new phone to call me). I am delighted to input Natalie’s new number into my cell phone as “Nat New”, but not until a few hours later. After those few hours elapsed, I went into my phone and took the last missed call, which was unknown and just a series of unknown digits, and labeled them as “Nat New”. That was incredibly easy, efficient, technological, and enjoyable. I start doing a dandy dance, tip my cap, and leap with my umbrella/parachute down a nearby chimney.

Zoom ahead about two days

Natalie calls me in a panic. Philipp was out having one too many drinks, and called her to tell her he was drunk. Mid-conversation, he stops talking and all Natalie can hear is Philipp breathing heavily on the other end. She freaks out. Is he dying! Where is he! She calls me. I tell her to calm down, he probably just fell asleep in his apartment and is gong to wake up in a few hours with nothing more than a ripping hangover. In fact, Natalie, I will call Philipp a few times tonight and see if I can wake him up. And indeed, I do just that. I call him maybe three times over the course of two hours, but he never picks up. He must be very drunk. Oh well, I am sure he is fine. I call Natalie back, to tell her that I didn’t get an answer from Philipp, but Natalie doesn’t answer. Perhaps she is talking to Philipp now! Great. I am going to watch more episodes of Lost and go to sleep.

Zoom ahead a half hour

I get a call. It’s from “Nat New”. I answer the phone with something like “What up gangsta?” or some other pithy, modern phrase. It’s not Natalie. “Oh hey Philipp!” He must be very drunk, but he is calling me to tell me that he is ok and currently snuggling next to Natalie, right? Why else would he use Natalie’s phone? He asks what I am up to. “Oh nothing, just sitting in my bed in my underwear.”

Zoom ahead a tenth of a second

Wait a sec. This isn’t Philipp. Holy shit. I recognize this voice. It’s the mime. I thought his voice sounded different! I panic. I realize it is the mime, I realize I just told him I am alone in my bed at midnight in my underwear…quickly, I try to end the conversation. He invites me over to watch Monty Python. Um, no… thanks… I have, uhh…. my period. We hang up. I sit back and reflect. Did that really just happen? Oh my god. I know what happened. When I stored what I thought was Natalie’s new number as “Nat New”, I used the last missed phone call. When Natalie called me with the new number, I didn’t miss her fucking call! I answered it! FUCK. I never miss calls, because my phone is next to me at all times. My lasted missed call was from weeks ago when the friggin mime called me to give me his number! And I didn’t call Natalie before… because “Nat New” isn’t Natalie… it’s the mime! That’s why he called me: because I called him first. I am an idiot.

I have to solve this. Let’s call Natalie. Well, she cheered up upon hearing my misadventure. She told me to call him back and explain the situation. Um, no. I am not calling the mime… ever. In fact, I need to avoid him for the rest of my life on Earth and beyond. But I can’t just let it go either. What if I see him again? I might get a sly wink and a firm, open hand slap on the behind. That can’t happen. I could never live with myself again.
I decide to text message him. Basically it said: “Hey ____ (his name), sorry dude I thought you were somebody else in our last conversation. Sorry for calling you at midnight.” Succinct and not open to debate as to whether or not I was hitting on him. Loud and clear. He sends one back in broken English saying “no problem. I cant sleep now. Watching m python now. Maybe we watch m python another time.”

My life is a joke. I hope you enjoy.

ps. The mime isn’t actually gay. I think he might be, as he showed up as a big blip on my Gaydar (come to think of it, “blip” is one of the gayest words I have ever heard). But the story is a bit funnier if you imagine he is definitely gay. I can exaggerate sometimes. Sorry.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Secret Agent Man

Whenever I am traveling (as in “the act of traveling”) I like to assume false identities. No, I don’t change my name… however cool that might be (I think I’d pick “Mathias the Shark-Eater). Instead I like to assume an exaggerated persona of some stereotypical character. For example, when I took my plane flight to Switzerland, I was the “loner journalist.” In order to truly become the LJ, I accessorized by wearing a jacket with too many pockets. LJ’s always have an unnecessarily large number of pockets. They do that in order to store important things like mini-pencils, notepads, film, and flasks of Jack Daniels. I was the red wine drinking, pocket-plentiful jacket, jeans, and boots wearing LJ who snickered at the conversations of others (I purposely let other people know that I was listening. Often times, I have found, people want their conversations to be overheard. I’m just giving the people what they want) and would periodically contort my face and quickly unsheathe a folded paper on which I would rapidly scribble indecipherable gibberish. If I was a smoker, I would have been chain smoking cheap Russian cigarettes. Basically, I gave off an aura of smugness and mystery. Imagine Indiana Jones crossed with Ernie Pyle and a touch of George Clooney.

Today, on my plane ride, I decided that I hate the people who clap when the plane lands. These people (shame on you if you are one of them) must be among the most pessimistic people on the planet, not to mention among the dumbest. First, are you friggin surprised we landed? Does the pilot need your encouragement to land the plan safely? If so, I am in the wrong airplane. Also, after a few hours of flying, I am usually pretty cranky and smelly. Don't fucking clap your hands. You make me hate you.

I need a vacation (sly wink),

Thursday, September 27, 2007


And so my journeys have brought me to Prague.

First Impression: eh.

I kind of like Munich more. Here's why: Prague is a very old city, which is fantastic. However, the old city is covered in touristy shit. All of the old buildings house restaurants or cheezy gift shops (my favorites sell those fuzzy hats and the dolls that fit inside of one another. The best part is that those are Russian and have absolutely nothing to do with Prague). It is sort of like using that antique mahagony nightstand to display your prized Batman action figure collection (complete with Batman bat-arangs, bat-grappling hooks, and "Oops, I crapped my pants" Robin).

The food is cheap, if somewhat skimpy on the portion sizes. I had leg of boar last night in a deliciously thick red wine sauce. The people (I know I'm stereotyping here) are a bit more cold and suspicious, especially compared to the Bavarians (heck, Bob Ross was a dick compared to most Bavarians). The first interaction I had with a Praguer was a cab driver. I learned, if a cab driver starts haggling the price before you even step foot in the car: warning. I could just tell this guy was not to be trusted. Forget you, cab driver, I'm walking! I get 10 feet down the road and start regretting my decision. It's raining and my feet are wet. I should have taken a cab. Dammit. I can't go back now or he will judge me. I don't want the Czech cab driver to hate me. Woe is me, and the sufferring I withstand. Matt the Martyr.

But on a serious note, I do like the city. I took a walking tour of it yesterday. Naturally, I can't help but be slightly critical of the "tour". I must say, her technique was all off. Talking to the buildings and not the people, not projecting to the people in the back.... freakin' rookie mistakes. But she was pretty cute, as far as Prague people go, so I'll give that to her. She wins. On the tour, I met a very cool American doctor named John. He is from California and just visiting some friends in Europe. He and I sort of hit it off, sharing travel stories and the like. We decided that that night we would do a Pub Crawl.

Bad idea. Well, I tried Absinthe for the first time. It's overrated. Tastes like black licorice. Did I say black licorice? I meant the Devil's butt juice. But, since it has such a stigma to it, I decided to drink it all anyway. We rocked out for quite awhile, but I decided that I had had enough partying relatviely early in the night and was in bed by 12:30.

Today, I wondered around the city: the Jewish Quarter, the Old Town, the New Town (where I am currently). Right now I am in a kind of sketchy restaurant with free wi-fi. Now that I think about it, I am kind of the sketchy guy, because I am huddled in a corner of the rather large floorspace typing away furiously while the other patrons enjoy their Mai-Tais (I, as you can imagine, am enjoying an oversized and overpriced cappoccino. My third of the day. It's what I do when I need to sit down.)

My waitress isn't good looking, but.... interesting. There is something weird. I can't figure it out. She sort of is incredibly attractive, but not really. She's ridiculously hot, but not at all. I'd hit on her, but I'll pass. I wonder what she is doing later, but I really don't care. I hope she likes the "on the outside kind of bristly on the inside musical theater" type, but I'd rather jab rusty spoons into my eyes.
What sixth sense exists inside of human beings that can unexplainably draw us towards each other for no good reason whatsoever? This happens all the time to me. I just sense something in certain people (both men and women, but not "like that" thankyouverymuch.) that draws me in. With this girl, I think it is the eyes. She has those very Eastern European/Slavic eyes that are filled with mystery (the heavy black eye-liner accentuates them). She will be in the next Bond film.

Well, I leave Prague tomorrow morning at 8:45am. Now the question is: do I wake up at 6 and go to the airport, or party like a rockstar and never go to sleep? Only time will tell!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Got Friends in Löwe Places

Well, I made it to Prague in one piece. It was a pain in the ass to get to my hostel, so I was therefore immediately grumpy. After a brief exploration, I went to bed early and figured I will really start the next day. That's today. I'll let you know what happens.


I think that my new goal in life is to meet as many people as possible. Not just in passing, but to actually make real friends. I have always admired those special people who can just walk into any room in any given place and immediately make a friend with a complete stranger. What a talent. It shows confidence, friendliness, and personality. All my life, I have tended to be the loner in the corner whenever I was put into new and potentially intimidating surroundings. When with friends, yes, I can be quite the ham. Perhaps too much so. But not with new people. No, I tend to withdraw into my own little twisted mind. But I want to make a conscious effort from now on to be that guy who is unafraid of others. Honestly, nobody is better than anybody else. Just different. Once that is realized, then what harm is it in approaching a stranger? None! Well, that’s not true. They might think you are the “weird guy” who goes around talking to random strangers. Then they might think that I am trying to seduce/extort/proselytize them! Holy crap, what if I am the weird guy? Am I “that” guy!? I have no idea! This started out as a concerned introspective exploration and has rapidly transformed into my usual paranoia concerning the thoughts of others. Dammit.

Oh, breifly: So, I was sitting on the train on my way to Prague. I had just said goodbye to Natalie and Philipp, which was difficult as you can imagine. Just when I am comfortably sitting in my chair, laptop out, headphones on, an extremely elderly lady enters the train and asks if she may sit next to me. Naturally, I invite her to sit down. At the exact moment that her butt hits the cushion, the song “Buttons” came through my headphones. Needless to say, I quickly turned my computer off.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Can't make it out to Oktoberfest? Lean back and let me paint a picture for you:

"Half the adventure is in the journey", and the Wiesn (as the locals call it) is no exception. Attempting to make your way to the festival grounds is like squeezing through a crowd of rowdy Australians in heat; desperate for beer, food, and sex.

Actually, that is exactly what happened.

The subway system thankfully provides more than one exit for the Wiesn, but regardless, the trains are overcrowded with smelly men in Lederhosen. With my face smushed into the sweaty chest hair of a rather jovial fellow traveler, I momentarily reflect on what I am doing with my life. No matter, the journey must continue. The Fest beckons...

Once we reach the stop, I exit the train (more like I am forced to exit, being pushed out) and take my first breath of fresh air in 10 minutes. The designer of the Wiesn train stop must be a freakin genius, as once you exit the platform you must ride a long escalator up to the ground floor. Truly, it was like ascending into Heaven. The sunlight was motioning with its cheery rays "Come. Play with me. Bask in my glory." Basketh I shall. Reaching the top, I felt like Sir Edmund Hillary. However, as I entered onto the fields, I was struck by the first impression that strikes every Fest-goer immediately like a pimp with a temper:

Dude, it's a giant carnival.

The first thing you see is literally dozens of rollercoasters and ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds (not so merry with four liters in thy tummy) and haunted houses. Bright lights and children frolicking about in funny hats and painted faces. Balloons in the sky. Hot dogs and roasted almonds in eager hands. This is seriously just a giant amusment park.

Panic strikes and my heart rate accelerates: I didn't see any beer. Where's the beer? Oh dear God, I need to taste the beer. My mouth is parched and my hands are clammy. That's WRONG. My mouth needs moisture and my hands need beer stein condensation. Must... satisfy... desires....

Hark! Mayhaps the brew is located in the tents. And when I say "tents", I mean those enormous freakin' college gymnasium-esque structures with giant, majestically rotating steins and cheerful cartoon chickens sticking forks into themselves. I am no genius, but my intuition tells me that's where the beer is. Extending my arms out and dropping my jaw, I saunter zombie-like across the field in search of my prey.

Weaving through tens of thousands of people takes longer than expected. Progress is slow and exhausting, but my goal is in sight. The tent. It's called the "Hippodrom." Maybe Russell Crowe is inside slaying a heavily armed slave-demon or Charlton Heston is racing around in a chariot brandishing a Colt .45 and a sawed off.

Nope, just lots of beer.

The inside of these tents is sort of very much like a college or high school gymnasium. Wooden plank floors with picnic tables and long benches as far as the eye can see (which, by the way, is not very far as the frat brothers in front of me block my view). The band is playing German brass band music. Everybody is singing. Thousands of people singing. It is always surprising how on pitch and in key masses people are when they are in one area and heavily intoxicated (think baseball parks, Oktoberfest, men's a cappella, etc). Every single person has a beer stein in their hands and most are standing on their benches (that's kosher, but standing on tables is prohibited). Unconsciously, I wrap my fingers around a handle and can feel the thick, heavy glass resting comfortably in my hand. We were made for each other. I love you. However, looking down, there is no beer in my hand. It was an digital illusion (get it?). I must remedy this situation immediately.

I push and shove my way through crowds of people so drunk that they have lost their nationalities. They are a homogenous mix. That's right, homogenous mix. I meant that. How can that be? Well, they are all wearing different clothes, but all sound the same and are acting the same and smell the same. Beer is everywhere. In steins, on the floor, on my shirt (oh shit, some dick just spilled beer on me...).

I find a seat outside in the beer garden. A waitress (when I say "waitress" what I really mean is a dude dressed in a dress. Not that many transvetite waitresses at Oktoberfest, but I got one. Or maybe he/she was transgender? Transsexual? I am not sure of the correct name, but all I know is that he/she was very nice, had a low baritone, and wanted to give me beer. Naturally, we hit it off.) quickly spots that I lack a beer in front of me. I order one like a pro. No second glances, no repeats in English, just a knowing nod and a scribble of the pen. I lean back and hitch up my lederhosen suspenders (did I mention? I am in lederhosen. Big fucking surprise.) in complete satisfaction. So this is Oktoberfest? Not bad. Not bad at all. I have a moment with myself. I love it when I have these personal moments of complete tranquility surrounded by unchecked chaos. I would have them at frat parties as well. Just me, with my thoughts, in the middle of a swelling sea of over-intoxicated, over-sexed co-eds.

And that is about it. I met some friends at a table and had a good time. More details to come. For now, I have a lunch date. By the way, I may not be able to post for a few days as I am going to Prague for a few days. Should be fun. Ciao!


Friday, September 21, 2007

It Starts...

Tomorrow is the big day: the first day of Oktoberfest. I imagine tonight I will sit up in my bed all night, clutching my pillow in eager anticipation of the big day. I feel like I am eight years old all over again. It's like Christmas all over again, except instead of presents, I get beer! Instead of family, I get throngs of drunk Australians. Instead of the birth of Jesus, I get to see the pre-conception ceremonies of many a drunken couple. Riveting.

In other news, another guy died in China from a gaming binge. That's right, this guy died because he was so into a computer game that he neglected his... umm... life.

Am I going to Hell, because the only reason I read the article on is because I wanted to see what game he was playing. If it was Halo, alright dude, I'll cut you some slack.

Can you truly imagine it! This dude was like, "Hour 34 of World of Warcraft. I havn't eaten in three days. Basic hygiene has been abandoned. My mage is at level 23. Must keep going." I am almost tempted to say that this is an admirable display of willpower (or lack thereof). He actually ignored his hunger and fatigue in favor of electronic entertainment. Wow. I couldn't do that. They consider binge gaming an addiction in China (it really is), treatable at "internet addiction" clinics. How does rehabiliation work for these people? I imagine that they just open the windows in a room, "Fear not! This is light. That is sun. It is your friendly yellow friend. Go meet him." Then they throw a couple of beach balls outside and start playing "keep-away" from the fat kid. That always seems to join people together in a spirit of joviality.

*Reality check: I am sitting in a cafe, injecting cappoccinos into my veins, writing a smartass web entry. Seek help. And, while I am being honest, this is the video I am watching at the same time. I apologize to humanity for sharing this.*

Thursday, September 20, 2007

If I Became President, Part 2

Again, I wrote this very late at night and it is preachy. Excuse that. Enjoy:
How to deal with Iraq:
Listen. America messed up. That’s no secret. Ever since Vietnam, the US has protected its economic and security interests in the world by covertly (and sometimes not so covertly) tampering with the governments of other nations. I am talking about the Iran Contra, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the shipment of weapons to anti-Soviet Afghan fighters, the revolutions in many Latin American countries, etc. Those were short term solutions. They supposedly kept America safe from the danger of Communism. Well, now we are seeing the effects of those actions. Many countries hate us. Can you blame them? Not all the people living in these countries were bad people, and here comes the US to overthrow their government and support violent and bloody revolutions. Part of the blame for the problems we see today should lay on the CIA and other US organizations throughout the Cold War (60’s-80’s). That’s why so many people hate us. That, and the current situation in Iraq. Heck, we were pretty damn popular during the Clinton years! So, here is my solution:
Fire all the old white guys who some how convinced America that this was the right thing to do. All of those Vietnam era guys who enjoy “the game” of politics; who like scheming behind the scenes. This isn’t the Cold War. We don’t need to worry about provoking the USSR anymore. We learned that all this scheming comes back to bite you in the ass. They need to go.
We are in Iraq. Pick up any history textbook and you will see that if we leave that country right now and completely withdraw all of the troops in a short amount of time, there will be a bloody civil war. That is a fact. It might be a civil war or a war that is influenced by another outside power (Iran, anybody?), but it will occur. No questions asked. If we left quickly, there would be a power struggle for the vacuum left by the American army. To leave now would be one of the most selfish acts ever committed in history. We went into their country under false pretenses, deposed their leader (which might be the only good thing that happened there. No doubt, Saddam needed to go. That was Bush Sr.’s big mistake), destroyed their capital and killed many thousands of their innocent people. We screwed it up, and dammit, we better fix it. My plan would be to directly address those who are blowing themselves up, trying to kill American soldiers and good Iraqi people (the majority of Iraqis, for that matter). I would say, you want us to leave? We won’t leave yet. We will leave when we clean up our mess. I propose we treat Iraq like we treated Europe and Japan after WWII. The Marshall Plan called for using that most powerful American tool: Industry. Re-build Iraq using American money and American companies. Let the Iraqi’s actually supply labor. That way, they get a new, state of the art infrastructure and the dignity of building their own houses and highways. America makes money, Iraq makes money. Also, all of the bidding and contracts will be open to public scrutiny. None of this Halliburton crap. The companies that get contracts should be regulated, scrutinized, investigated, and applauded as they are going to fairly help re-build Iraq in Iraqi style. We don’t need to build American apartment buildings, but Iraqi architects can design the buildings in Iraqi fashion, with America supplying the heavy machinery and materials. We have the experience, let’s use it. It might take a long time, but heck, the Iraqi people deserve it.

...and stepping off of the soapbox

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

If I Were President, Part 1

I wrote this last night and for some reason I was in a preachy mood. Please excuse the preachy-ness. Here goes:

Here is what I would do in an ideal world:
It is hard to hear criticism of the US, as the immediate reaction is to defend our actions. I am very guilty of this. But one of the most important lessons that everybody can learn is that it is extraordinarily important to not react to different opinions or ideas with aggression. Listen to the opposite side. It is important. When one hears an idea different from one’s own, consider the new alternative and then re-assess. The worst thing one can do is get angry or defensive when a differing opinion is heard. At that moment, intellectual investigation stops and is replaced with egotistical banter. That’s why if I were President, my Cabinet would be as diverse as possible: I want the Noam Chomskys and the Ralph Naders (very liberal) along with the Bill O’Reillys and Tucker Carlsons (very conservative) in the same room. If you have an informed, well considered, fact-based opinion, and are willing to hear the opinions of others without getting angry, your opinion should be heard as well. What is the good in surrounding yourself in a room full of people who think the same as you? We don’t need advisors to parrot each other or the President, because then there is no diversity of opinions. I want to have an Advisory Board of Harvard graduates and truck drivers. Give me a room of 15 men and women who are interested in weighing options and finding solutions; who are interested in hearing an opinion that is completely opposite of their own because they are looking for the positives in other opinions so that a new, better opinion can possibly be formed. Give us a bottle of wine, a chalkboard, pens and paper, comfy chairs, snacks, good lighting, and a fine view out the window.
Some might say that that Advisory Board is Congress. That makes sense, but it has always confused me how the President is not allowed to attend sessions of Congress. We are all on the same team! Maybe that’s why I respect the British style of politics, where the Prime Minister has to actually address the representatives of the people. But, I think Congress and Parliament are too big to facilitate true intellectual debate and consideration. In a room with dozens of people, group mentalities take over an individual’s reason. Cliques form and stick together, no matter the given subject, or just vote/speak as they are instructed from above. In my Cabinet meetings, there should be times of silence in the room when everybody is individually thinking about a solution to the problem at hand. Ego must be left at the door. No political parties and no representatives of organizations: only diverse individuals tackling a problem with their intellect and reason.

What I Wish I Could Do:
Make “lobbying” illegal. I hate the idea of lobbyists. The fact that tobacco companies, the NRA, the Restaurant Owner’s Association, the Center for Happy Laughing Babies, or any group whatsoever can pay a member of the government to represent their views is completely unacceptable and is honestly only a legalized form of bribery. If the loudest voices heard are the voices of those who possess the most money, then there is something truly wrong with the system. Lobbyists can write letters expressing their views. They can even request meetings with politicians. But the moment a gift, whether that be monetary or material (baseball game tickets, a teddy bear, or a night at a strip club) is exchanged, it is illegal. That is bribery. The same goes for those running for election, and not in the government yet. I guess this falls under the category of “campaign finance reform.” Whatever.

Dismantle and destroy Guantanamo Bay detention center. It is a concentration camp, no way around that. By definition, it is a facility that detains people without trial for an indefinite amount of time. It is unfair and a human rights violation. We know the conditions are harsh. We see the pictures. Time to give those held there a trial and either imprison them or release them. If there are criminals there, detaining them will only strengthen their resolve once they leave. The purpose of this is simple: improving America’s ethics will improve America’s international reputation, which will, undoubtedly, decrease international security threats. This is addressing the cause of international threats rather than the effects. Rather than chasing and eliminating “terrorists”, we address the root of terrorism: why do some people wish to harm the US?

Tune in tomorrow, dear reader, to see how Matt single-handedly solved the entire problem in Iraq!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tall Paul

No matter what you are doing... stop.... and watch this video. It is enlightening, entertaining, energizing, and electrifying. My boy has grown up.... way up. He can even walk in slow motion.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bad Dream

Spooky. I had a dream last night that I died. I never die in dreams! It is kind of fuzzy (as dreams usually are) but I remember that I was voluntarily dying for some reason. I chose to die. I don't know why. But all I remember is that I was not afraid to die and that I welcomed the near martyr experience... until it was just about to happen. As I am writing this the dream is sort of coming back to me. I remember being in this dark house, sort of run down. Actually, if anybody has seen the video of Saddam Hussein being hanged (it's freakin crazy. Some guy took the video on his cell phone and it was all over the internet. I am sure you can still find it), it looked a lot like that. I was going up a stair case and then my mind started racing and I was deathly afraid. All of a sudden, I didn't want to die. I remember thinking, "I want to grow old. I want to be an old man some day." Also, I kind of remember thinking about other people like friends and family. No one in particular, just the idea that life was ending and I wouldn't see them. OH yeah, interestingly, the idea of re-incarnation went through my mind. I remember thinking that I did not want to "come back" to Earth. I wonder, did I think the thoughts that everybody who is going to die/dying thinks? Who knows. Then I woke up. Kind of a traumatic experience.

For some reason my last two posts have been rather morbid. Honestly, it is just a coincidence. I am doing great! Work, friends, leisure... It's all going great. No need to worry (mom!)
Have a nice day!