Monday, May 24, 2010

Paradise City


One of the biggest thrills in my otherwise mundane life is the short walk from my car to my apartment building. I often get home late, so that adds to the excitement of being offered crack by a dealer who could probably get away with robbing me if he really wanted to. Obviously, this is an unsafe risk, but it's risks that makes my heart pound and my fists clench.

Everything else in my life – aside from that short walk – is safe, comfortable and familiar. Those feelings aren’t something I particularly enjoy. I want things to be unexpected, occasionally outside of my comfort zone, with just a hint of actual danger. I’m too young to be getting soft and travel might help me fight this feeling. There are so many places in the world I absolutely have to see, and not going to these countries is unfathomable. The only thing holding me back is time and money. Fortunately, I’m fairly clever. I can make it happen. Maybe. 
Bagan, Myanmaar: Two mind-boggling numbers stand out for this archeological park: 26 square miles and 2,200 temples and pagodas. Nestled within this historic place are massive temples, which are fine to me, but it’s the thousands of obscure ones that appeal to me. Renting a bike or a motorcycle and doing some Tomb Raider-like exploration would be a dream. Maybe seeing all the temples will jog my memory with what I learned from taking a course in Southeast Asian arts.


New Zealand: Almost everything I know about New Zealand comes from Flight of the Conchords and Peter Jackson’s earlier films, so I can’t really name any particular locations or attractions that appeal to me. In the case of New Zealand, I think it’s just the total package. Unspoiled wilderness in the middle of nowhere, friendly people that speak English and the fairly affordable living expenses all sweeten the deal.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Last Temptation of Doctor Who

He's like fire and ice and rage. He's like the night, and the storm in the heart of the sun. He's ancient and forever. He burns at the center of time and he can see the turn of the universe and... he's wonderful.

Doctor Who is an unflappable optimist who often becomes giddy when he encounters new alien technology, an undiscovered species or a genuinely dangerous situation. He always has a clever quip or two when trying to save the world, his companions, random strangers or himself. At times, he bounces around almost like a caffeinated cartoon. All of this helps keep the demons away.

He’s a lonely man, and why shouldn’t he be? As the sole survivor of his home planet and the last of the Time Lords, he’s been haunted by loss and the fact that the pain will never go away due to his immortality. He regularly seeks out companions to travel through space and time on his ship, knowing full well that he will outlive them. He has fun, saves the day, but in the end, he’s all alone. All those comical adventures and entertaining partners are just a Band-Aid to his deep emotional wounds, and the more he travels, the more death he sees. Still, he keeps on moving forward despite the suffering. Somebody has to right all the wrongs throughout time, and it’s the Doctor that carries that burden. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The top five 80s songs about foreign places

We live in a list-crazy society. Long, drawn-out lists are pretty much the only thing that airs on VH1. At the end of the year, newspapers became almost unreadable because of all the lists about top stories of the year filling those gaping news holes. The good news (pun?) is that the papers will be dead in a few years so that won’t be a problem any more (I kid, I kid. I love newspapers and think they’ll be around for at least 20 more years). If someone comes up with a thought-provoking well-reasoned article, nobody will read it. If all those nuggets of information are picked apart and put in list format, everyone will. It's just the way things are.

Here’s my contribution to the ADD generation with a list that hasn’t been done before, at least according to a quick Google search. Not just the best songs from the 1980s. Not just the best songs about foreign places, either. Rather, this is the best of both worlds: the top 80s songs about foreign places.

Honorable mentions
Istanbul by They Might Be Giants: It’s technically a cover, and conflicting information says that the song came out in either 1989 or 1991. Still, it’s a great song and was immortalized in an episode of Tiny Toons.

Jerusalem by Alphaville: The lyrics are a bit incomprehensible, like many of the German band’s songs, but still pretty powerful. I’m not Jewish and I’ve never been to Israel, but for some reason this song fills me with nationalistic pride for the country.

Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses: This song doesn’t exactly fit the criteria of the list, although I suppose it can be argued that it does. All I know is that I've never been where both the grass is green and the girls are pretty.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Poland Has Not Yet Succumbed


When I think of the Katyn Forest massacre, I find it hard to imagine a time time when something so catastrophic could happen.

Quick history lesson: When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Russia did the same. Theeir goal was to slice up the country, with bits going to the German invaders and other parts going to their communist allies. Everyone knows about the horrific crimes committed by Poland’s western neighbors, but few seem to know about what the nation on the east did.

In Poland, able-bodied people are required to serve in military. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professor, a lawyer, an artist or a factory worker. The most educated people – the leaders of society – are typically the officers. When World War II broke out, the fighting Polish soldiers came from all walks of life since they weren’t volunteers.

In 1940, 22,000 Polish prisoners of war were executed by Russian authorities. I’m not saying one of these events is worse than the other, but here are some other massive tragedies for comparison. On 9/11/01, 2,752 people were killed in the World Trace Center. In Pearl Harbor, 2,350 people died. In the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. history, 6,821 American troops were killed. About 18,000 Japanese also perished.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Slaying the Dragon Called Sometimes-Snooty NY Times Writers

I’m one of the biggest supporters New York Times out there and I truly believe that the product they deliver is a true service to humanity. Unlike most people, I might even pay for it once the Web site is no longer free later this year. I’ll have to forsake some groceries to do so, but who needs tortilla chips when you can find nourishment in some of the best news articles out there? That being said, the way they over-analyze some of my favorite things in life can be quite amusing at best and utterly pompous at worst.

Recently, I read an article focusing why New York City has always been such a central focus of comic books. Fascinating bits of history and background were woven into an entertaining story about a medium I love, but the real reason for the popularity of New York in Batman, Spider-Man, Watchmen and other comics without “man” or “men” at the end of the title was somewhat buried in the story. Obviously, most publishers were/are based in the city that populates all these panels, yet this was practically a footnote in the article. That’s like wondering why Dostoyevsky’s works always seem to feature Russia in one way or another. For that matter, what's the deal with Herman Melville often writing about sailing?

Another over analysis appeared on March 8, when Muse’s performance at Madison Square Garden was reviewed in an article titled “Slaying the Dragon Called Subtlety with Large-Scale Heroics.” The writer laments that Muse is over the top, while offering slight praise such as “When taken too seriously, Muse is as kitschy as it is impressive. It’s better to just let each showstopper build to its inevitable, satisfying wallop” while later in the article, saying Muse would not exist without Queen (another favorite band of mine, but an unfair and ignorant statement nonetheless).

I’m a proud superfan of Muse, and if they had a card for such a title, I would indeed carry it. Accompanied by my compatriot Matt Wadleigh (who has a blog he never updates here), I had a different take on the show. The special effects, from lasers to inflatable floating eyeballs to several digital screens in the form of towers, were unlike anything I had seen at any other concert (including the 2007 Muse concert I attended Gdynia, Poland). In this sense, I somewhat agree when the article that states:

Even the ballads went boom when Muse performed at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.

The second part of the lead paragraph takes back what might be construed as praise.

Muse, a three-man English band formed in the early 1990s, never misses a chance for melodrama.

Wadleigh and I, both writers, usually don’t have any problems expressing our thoughts on a variety of subjects, and this concert was no exception. As another song completed, Wadleigh told me “I just want to punch something.” Indeed, by the end of the show I had similar adrenaline-fueled feelings. As we walked towards the stairs to go leave the arena, I confided in Wadleigh that “I could probably headbutt a wall right now.”

A young girl, probably around 15, looked at me like I was something bizarre and to be pitied. Like the writer of the Times’ article, she was too square to understand. Just let the music take control and lose yourself. If you have the chance and the music is awesome enough, go absolutely fucking crazy. It’s human nature, unlike writing such sentences as “the science fiction continues in the lyrics, which present the singer as a romantic holdout — a revolutionary and a lover — in a dystopia of lies and mind control” about a rock band.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I can’t find the words to say. They’re overdue. I traveled half the world to say you are my Muse.

Only one band has ever made me a violent. I don’t mosh at concerts and I’m not about to get in a passionate argument about Jim Morrison’s impact on rock and roll. I may have 3,422 songs on Itunes (add 14 to that when I import the best of Alphaville album), but I’d say I’m mostly a casual music fan except for one band.

In junior year, I punched my dorm room wall because of Muse.

This British alt rock band infuriated me. It was an anger I had never felt before and it was all because they cancelled their concert at the Glens Falls Civic Center, about five minutes from where my parents live. The tickets, dated for some day March 2007, rested on my desk and I would have ripped them up if they weren’t needed for the refund.

I adore Muse. I love them. Their music, like no other band, is perfection to my ears. Their fusion of electronica, face-melting riffs, classical music and similar-but-more-coherent-than-Radiohead vocals can make me head bang, listen contemplatively and sing along all at once. I don’t even care the lead singer, Matthew Bellamy, believes 9/11 was a conspiracy perpetrated by the U.S. government. When you’re music is that good you can believe whatever the hell you want.

Muse and I have an lengthy, mostly negative, history. They cancelled the Glens Falls concert after all the roadies came down with a nasty bout of (alleged) food poisoning in 2007. In December 2007, they cancelled another concert that I was planning to see while studying in Bangkok. One time, however, the show went on. It was heavenly. It was delightful. I know it’s clich├ęd, but it was unforgettable. It was also in Poland and I was jetlagged out of my mind.

I made it into the Gdynia, on the outskirts of the Baltic city G’Dansk on June 30. It was day two of the Heineken Open’er Fest and I met up with a trio of British guys also there for the show inside the hostel. We arrived too late to see Groove Armada and got there just as the Beastie Boys were on the stage. The Beasties, one of my all-time favorite groups since about second grade, were doing their thing I didn’t even care. I just wanted Muse to play.

Everything was a blur when Muse went on and I don’t think it was because I was drinking heavily. I was euphoric from the opening song (Time is Running Out, I think) to the last (Knights of Cydonia). I have a journal somewhere which documents the night in detail. I can't seem to find it.

I stayed up for 24 more hours after Muse finished up at about 1 a.m. The adrenaline was flowing as the guys and I went to the nearby club until 6 a.m. I was covered in mud when we made it back to the hostel. I only had time to shower until I had to catch my train. I stayed up for the entire five hour ride, although not by choice. The seats were crowded and as soon as I’d nod off, I’d accidentally lean over on the lady next to me. She was not amused and glared often.

I haven’t been to a concert as good since then, but as much as I love Muse, I’m tapering my expectations for next Friday. The seats, while decent, can’t be better than being on the ground level. I already lost my Muse virginity, so the second time probably won’t be such a religious experience. While I’m excited to see them, it’s not the same giddiness I felt the first time. Still, maybe it’ll be better than that night in Poland. All I know is that the beer ($2 in Poland) won’t be quite as cheap in the Garden.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Revenge of the Nerds


It didn’t take too long. The nerds have taken over.

When I was young, most kids had a Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis or just the plain old Nintendo. They were fun, we thought, but most people outgrew them as they grew older. Video games were no longer that cool. Sure, they were popular. Loads of people upgraded to the PlayStation and later systems, but it wasn’t something you talked about in public. It wasn’t something you’d see celebrities doing unless you were watching Fred Savage in The Wizard.

My peers loved watching the X-Men and Batman cartoons on Saturday morning, though the love affair didn’t last for most. Comic books, after all, weren’t all that cool. The same could be said about sci-fi films. The Star Wars series (both new and old movies) transcended gender and age barriers, but god forbid you were one of those losers that watched Star Trek or any other television show.

Now, video games are as mainstream as they can possibly be, with games like Madden and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare have become the new pastime for kids. Non-traditional gamers play the Wii. You can see that any senior home.  Comic book movies – even ultraviolent “niche” ones like Sin City make tons of money. The Dark Knight, a faithful representation of the absolute best Batman can be, is the third highest-grossing film of all time. Last year, one of the biggest movies was a reboot of the Star Trek franchise featured an aged, wrinkly Leonard Nimoy telling audiences to “live long and prosper.” Just this month, Titanic was overthrown as the highest-grossing film of all time. The new king, Avatar, is about a race of blue creatures who have sex onscreen. It was almost too nerdy for me.

I have to give credit to my best friend Wadleigh for first noticing just how damn cool it is to be a nerd these days. It’s a golden age for sci-fi nerds who are into video games and comic books. I was just years ahead of the curve.

As I was flipping through comic books in elementary school, I never would have guessed that my beloved Wolverine and Spider-Man would become mainstream icons to old people, young people, girls, boys and all the other demographics. It’s gotten to the point where I’m often out-geeked by others when it comes to video games. I’m the senior staff writer at a gaming Web site, yet my nerdom doesn’t hold a candle to the millions of fanatical World of Warcraft players throughout the world.

Still, I know I’m one of them. At this point of my life, the thought of episodes of Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica waiting for me at home is more appealing than the thought of a wife, kids and hot dinner. Wait – let me rephrase something. I’m not one of them. I’m one of us. All of us.

The nerds have taken over.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Asia: The Trilogy is Complete

As much as I want to move/report/teach in Southeast Asia, I know it’s not going to be a blissful paradise free of worry, hassle and stress. Most of the time it will be the opposite. There are a number of things that will piss me off or make me homesick. Here are just a few of them.

1. I’m going to be a hairy beast. Being white with blonde hair and blue eyes has a lot of advantages (especially when out in da club), but in general, my height makes me a freak, my body hair makes me a monster and no matter how thin I am I will likely be considered fat compared to the locals.

As I’ve already learned, being the center of attention is fun for a while but it quickly grows old. There are times I just want to blend in and be ignored and that could never happen. My unique features also make me a target. If I’m walking anywhere, taxi drivers will hassle me. If I’m perusing a market, I will be hollered at and given a huge mark-up on anything I want to buy. Even the aggressive hookers are annoying.

2. I’m not sure where I want to live most, but if it’s in a city then the pollution will most likely be vile. Bangkok was in a perpetual haze that put Los Angeles to shame. Bottled water is a must. God save the poor children who swim in the rivers around there. The monstrous monitor lizards are reason enough not to dive in, but the gross amount of pollution also seals the deal. There are beautiful blue skies and undeveloped beaches to be had throughout Asia. The odds of finding a job near such things are unlikely.

3. I think I’d be a good teacher and I really enjoy kids, but from what I read a lot of schools are absolutely hellish. Spoiled rich kids don’t listen to anything. Students are expected by administrators and their paying parents to receive passing marks regardless of how they act in class. There are good batches of kids, no doubt, but the constant battle for order seems like it can be tiresome. This coupled with the hassles I might get outside of the class room isn’t too appealing.

4. I would miss my mom, my dad, my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins and, of course, my friends. I know my best friends would come visit me. My parents conceivably could do the same. If my brother moves to China as he intends to do we could meet halfway (maybe trek through Tiger Leaping Gorge in southern China or some surfing in Vietnam). Such moments would be rare. They might not happen at all. I will be a stranger in a strange land and that can be pretty depressing since I love my family so much.

5. This one is obvious and expected, but the language barrier will be tough. Since my Ultimate Goal in Life © is to be a worldly international reporter, this can be problematic. As I learned in Poland, spending a lot of time in rural areas where English is rarely spoken is a sure-fire recipe for isolation. Any translators out there?

6. I’ll definitely miss some foods because no matter where you go outside of America it’s hard to find a perfect hamburger. This isn’t a huge problem, but the other piece of Americana I’ll miss is football. Satellite TV makes it possible for a couple games to be aired no matter where you are, but it’s not just watching the Giants that I love/hate so dearly. It’s the lazy Sundays with friends where we chill out, drink beer and eat wings that I’ll miss the most. Watching games early Monday morning just isn’t the same experience. I found that out when I was in Thailand watching the Giants play (and lose) at 5 a.m.

So my life won’t be perfect. It will be fun, however. And sweaty.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Asia (The Sequel)

My last entry detailed the frontrunners in the “Where Anthony Might Move” sweepstakes, but there are some dark horses that I have some knowledge about. They’re unlikely compared to China, Taiwan and Thailand but who knows? I’ll go where the jobs/news stories are.

Cambodia
Thailand could be described as Disney Land. Neighboring Cambodia could be described as a country dealing with an unimaginable genocide. I was there for a long weekend a couple years ago and it truly was a terrifying place. Lawless, chaotic and unforgettable. Any vice –some of which would mean years in jail if indulged in back in the United States - is just a few dollars away.

Most of the weekend was spent in Siem Reap and around the Angkor temples. Phnom Penh, from what I saw, was impossible to fathom with its lack of rules and order. It was like the Wild West. The Wild Wild West. The Wicked Wild Wild West. If I were to move to Cambodia, I’d likely be based here and it seems like a miserable city to spend a lot of time in.

The plus side is that there are so many fascinating stories here form a journalistic standpoint. Every family has tales that would make me realize how blessed I’ve been in my life. There’s also the occasional border skirmish with Thailand and how foreign investments are poring into the country. The only problem would be getting around the language barrier. Khmer isn’t the easiest of language to learn or the most practical.

Ideally, I’d just be visiting Cambodia. I don’t think I could live there.

Update: My perception of Cambodia changed with this video. I want to go now. Embedding isn't allowed, but do check it out.

Vietnam
When it comes to newsworthy events, Vietnam is as interesting as Cambodia. The problem is that the communist government isn’t the most welcoming to Western reporters.

I spent a week in and around Hanoi and it just didn’t do it for me. People were up by 6 a.m. with their motorcycles honking endlessly, and by 10 p.m. the city was shut down. It was a great trip, especially since northern Vietnam was much more “traditional” than any other place I’ve been, but I don’t know how much I’d enjoy it. It’d be unfair to rule it out since I only saw practically nothing in the country. Ho Chi Minh City sounds like Hanoi on crack/speed/caffeine.

South Korea/Japan
The reason I’m lumping these two countries together is because my motivation to live in either is based on the same thing: money. Korea has the best pay when compared to living cost for teachers, and Japan also pays more than I could dream of making at a newspaper. The living costs in Japan are exorbitant, which is a bit of a downer. The reason I’d want to move abroad is to go on cheap adventures.

Still, I’d love to visit both countries but I don’t know about living in either.

Malaysia
I dated a girl from Malaysia and had vague aspirations of moving there, but it was never meant to be. It’d be fun (and super awkward) to see her again, but I think I’d be pretty useless in Malaysia. English is widely spoken (along with Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay) and reporting is often difficult thanks to yet another not-so-open-minded Asian government. Plus, it’s hotter than balls down here. Thailand is practically an arctic climate comparatively. Considering how disgusting I’d look by 1 p.m. in a typical day of class while in Bangkok, I don’t think it’s the best climate for me.

Conclusion
My heart races when I think of chasing down stories in Cambodia while dodging landmines, but the reality is I need to find a place where I can hold a steady job (i.e. teaching) and live somewhat decently until I get my feet on the ground. I’ll eventually figure out what country is the best for that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Asia (the continent, not the band)


I have a dream. It involves Asia.

While I like my job and all, for the past two years I’ve wanted to move to Asia. Not sure where exactly, but I have a vague plan teaching English, acclimating myself to the country and then branching off into reporting. One of the first things cut from newspapers were the foreign bureaus, so it’s up to enterprising people like me to fill the void. I already have the money saved up.

Can I do it? I don’t know.

Do I want to? Within a year.

I don’t have any place in particular that I’m set on. Right now I’m just weighing the pros and cons. I’ve narrowed it down to three possible countries, but there’s a couple wild cards complicating things. In an effort to gather my thoughts, here are the pros and cons of the main contendors

China
+I would learn how to speak Mandarin, which will be extremely useful when I begin reporting.
+China is the center of the world. No place where more is happening than here.
+There’s a good chance my brother will be living/working in China in a couple years, so it’d be awesome to be there with him.
-No Google? No blogs? No Thanks
-The awful political environment makes reporting not only frustrating, but borderline impossible. The stifling environment is not something I’d enjoy.
-The pay, while decent, isn’t the best considering the burgeoning wealth in the country
Dealbreaker: The lack of press freedom isn’t conducive to my life goal. Still, somebody has to try to do it (even if it means getting shot).

Thailand
+I’ve been here and I know that I love it. I already know that I could eat the food everyday and not get sick of it (as long as I have the occasional grilled cheese sandwich). I know how awesome the beaches/parks/nightlight can be, and it’s something I’d love to be surrounded by.
+Seeing my friends over there would be a joy, and I know that they’d help me out as I get started.
-While I could live comfortably on the pay, I wouldn’t be able to save much. I’d also spend a lot of money partying with my friends.
-Almost all of my Thai language skills have been forgotten, but learning Thai doesn’t seem like the most useful effort if I want to report in other countries.
-There are lots and lots and lots of Western people in the country, so the job market is that much more competitive. Also, there seems to be no shortage of writers. I want to go somewhere more untapped by the media. At least the press is relatively free (unless you’re talking about the royal family).
Dealbreaker: While I’d love the lifestyle and know I’d have a lot of fun, it seems harder to get into reporting here. Also, while the pay is decent, it’d be difficult to save up money. Having money would make the foray into foreign reporting easier.

Taiwan
+Once again, learning Mandarin would be incredibly useful for my foray into international affairs.
+From what I’m told, the pay is among the best in the continent. Saving money seems much easier to do here.
+They have pro baseball here. How awesome is that?
+A fair amount of press freedom, and the fascinating/frightening political situation with China would make for compelling news.
-I know some people living there, but I don’t know if they’ll be around if/when I get there. Aside from them, I have no support network there. I’d do it on my own. Thinking positively, after I do it I can say I did it my way. Still, it's a little intimidating. 
-Out of the three countries I’ve been looking into, I know the least about Taiwan. It can’t be as good as it seems. Most things aren’t.
Dealbreaker: I’m too uninformed to say. The food doesn't sound the best, though.

So I’m still nowhere near a decision. It’ll come to me sooner or later. Every Sunday night, right before work, I usually stay up until 2 a.m. doing research. The only thing holding back is how I’d miss my parents. I’m not one to get homesick, but in all my travels I always had a return ticket. That won’t be the case if this move happens.

Coming up next: I will discuss some of the wild card countries. The ones I’m not thinking of too seriously but could definitely happen. Malaysia? Cambodia? Vietnam? Korea? I don't know?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

So long, vacation

So, my vacation has finally come to an end. I spent eight days back home in beautiful South Glens Falls, N.Y., a couple nights in Albany, and the final weekend back in Connecticut. Compared to my last vacation, where I covered E3 in Los Angeles and a couple nights in Las Vegas, this was about as low key as it could get. I realized after that last vacation that I need a couple days to unwind after travelling or I don’t feel rested by the time work begins again. This time I unwound (is this is a word?) to the nth degree.

Here’s what went down.

--- Spent a lot of time with friends and family. This was nice because I probably won’t have a day off to go home until snow melts and flowers blossom. It was the first time I saw my younger brother, Mark, since he left to study in Shanghai in August. Like me, he’s in love with the Asian country where he studied abroad. A big thanks to him for the two Yao Ming jerseys he got me for Christmas. They will be put to use, especially if my boss allows “casual Asian basketball player jersey Friday.”

---Saw Avatar.  Meh.

--- Wrote a review for Canabalt over at Thunderbolt Games. It was simplistic bliss, as the image below demonstrates.
 --- Watched an entire season of 24. I have an addictive personality, and when I start something I want it done. Such was the case with the two dozen episodes of season seven. It was the best season in years, although the bar is set fairly low with this show. I think only the odd-numbered seasons end up decent, so I’m not really looking forward to new episodes of season eight in a week.

--- Skied at Gore Mountain for a day. It was bone-chillingly cold and too crowded, but the conditions were excellent. I’ve never had the chance to ski on so much powder before. I’d make a reference to cocaine, but I can’t think of anything remotely funny.

--- Bought a bunch of camping gear for this summer. I miss the outdoors.

--- Watched the Giants shame and embarrasses themselves and their fans in two different games. My Sundays will be productive now. Also, much more boring.

--- Updated the blog a couple times. It’s something I’m going to do from now on or I’ll be mad at myself.

--- Drank Patron for the first time. That was one of several memorable nights I had with my friends.

--- Organized my apartment. Notice how I didn’t say “cleaned” my apartment. I did hang up this incredible painting my mom had framed for me as a Christmas gift. When I was working in Warsaw a couple years ago, I went to the National Museum and bought a bunch of painting for cheap. I had one framed already: “Partridges” by Josef Chelmonski, and it looks quite classy. Check it out.
The one my mom had framed for me was the Battle of Grunwald my Jan Matejko. It’s a super patriotic painting and could probably be the considered of Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze. This is what the epic painting looks like.
It’s significantly smaller than the 10 by 17 feet of the original, but it looks quite nice in my hallway. With my six Alfons Mucha copies, seven pencil sketches of Krakow and a Return of the Jedi poster with an Ewok on it, my apartment walls are looking quite classy.

Now here are some things I wish I did but never got around to.

--- Write a short biography and then have my mom translate so I can “officially” have my European Union citizenship. The world will be opened up to me once I finally get that. I’d report in strange Eastern European countries in a second.

--- Caught up with a few old friends I haven’t seen in a long time.

--- Finished my Adobe Premiere training DVD. I’m about 75 percent done and did a bunch over the vacation, but I just couldn’t finish it -  yet.

While perhaps not the most productive vacation, it was so relaxing that I almost look forward to going to work tomorrow. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow when that actually happens.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Stripping

One thing I often miss about upstate New York is the warm folksiness of the people. Random conversations with strangers aren't too uncommon in the frigid north, while down here in Connecticut people seem less inclined to talk. Today, at the Stop and Shop in Fairfield, my perception of the people of Connecticut changed a little bit.

I finished placing all my groceries on the conveyor belt: pizza, salad, Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn, and other items when a heavy set man with glasses and a mustache got in line behind me.

“I thought I’d be nice and give my niece and nephew the ultimate gift,” he said to me, and pointed towards a DVD of Pixar’s Up.

“I’m a bit jealous,” I said, since I’ve been wanted to see the movie ever since I saw the commercials.

The gentleman replied, “I had to get them something they could watch. I don’t think they’d want to see Stripper Review.”

I was caught a little off guard, and then the man elaborated on how his niece isn’t allowed to dance classes with his girlfriend of six years. The reason? His girlfriend is a stripper and teaches pole dancing. It was a very awkward conversation, and all I could think of was this recent video I saw.

After a year, I have to say Connecticut is becoming an interesting place to live.