Requiem

I’m sure you are all slightly misty eyed to be reading my last travel blog post, but I know what will cheer you up…

A STORY ABOUT ME GETTING MUGGED!!!

Metaphorically of course (I’m like Lue Ferigno or Adam Ayash next to everyone in these countries). That being the case I have received a metaphorical mugging from my life style here. First of all, I’m not exactly fueling my body with vitamins and minnerals as I’m pretty confident I have set a world record for Pad Thai consumption. I am litterally the reason the “street food” sector of Thailand’s economy has gotten out of the world recession. As Thialand has been setting my body up with a nutritional jab Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam have followed up with haymakers to the face, leg, and body respectively.

The face:

Laos is popular for it’s “tubing” which is popular for being one of the most deadly parties in the world that takes place every day (lots of people drown). Therefore Phil and I went twice. It seemed that the quintessential drinking deck was stacked against me as I have lost most all my drinking tolerance after living in Australia, “tubing” goes all day, you get all the free snake whisky shots you want, and there are 30 foot rope swings everywhere. Yada yada yada, I woke up the next day with a black eye, and without the ability to turn my neck. Naturally we went a second day. Other stuff happened… but I assure you it was nothing morally or ethically questionable… just questionable.

The leg:

At some point in Cambodia I acquired a massive infection on my leg that made it incredibly painful to do most anything involving said leg. The worst part was removing Kris Kross “Jump” from my “DJames j4mz: Azo 2K-Zen” playlist (I still wore my cloths backwards in tribute to them anyways). Can’t tell you how I got it because, like Magic Johnson was to AIDS, I was to biological infection… just way to many opportunities. Luckily pharmacies here let you self prescribe anything, so I’m better now (just addicted to methadone). Also here is a riddle: what do anti-malaria pills, anti-biotics, and Cambodian food all have as a common side effect?

The body:

Similar story to the face, but this time I was doing back flips off of a 30 foot tall boat, and now my entire chest and abdomen hurt like hell. Instead of repeating the face fiasco and going out again the next night, I slept for about 14 hours. I’m all better now.

Other news:

I did in fact go to Bangkok where the first thing a cab driver asked me was “do you want to riot?”

I went to watch Muay Thai fighting at the stadium in Bangkok. It is not really as much a sport as it is a gambling venue. I lost every bet I made.

An opium den is much less plush than anticipated.

Dog is not man’s best friend, but rather man’s most delicious friend.

“After 15 years as a monk, today is my last day” is the greatest pick up line ever. If that guy wasn’t actually a monk he is still clearly in gods favor.

“James, lets shave ridiculous mustaches for all of Laos.” Turned out to be the same as Phil saying “James, lets not have friends.”

While in Delat, Vietnam Phil convinced me to purchase a cake with him in the middle of the night. As we walked down the street with our treat, two well weathered street vendors emphatically asked if “you wa chicken?” and to this Phil said “you wa cake?” Everyone answered yes. I was holding a bunch of trash and asked one of the women if there was a rubbish bin around. I must have forgotten I was in Vietnam, but the women quickly reminded me by taking my trash and hurling it into the center of the street. So we all sat down together to a lovely dinner of chicken, cake, and laughter. A 10 year old boy in a Winnie the Poo jumpsuit soon joined us as translator. Here is a riddle for you: What do late night Vietnamese street chicken, anti-malaria pills, and anti-biotics all have as a common side effect?

Laos sleeper buses should be renamed to Laos “why don’t you two go get glued with sweat to that pleather mat in the back with those two smelly ass Laos people and try not to hit your head on the ceiling as the bus bucks you fully airborne every 20 seconds” buses.

Well this needs to be the end of my (last?) blog. Why? Simply answer my riddles.

-DJames

PS: I get home June 22nd. If any of you are ever going to 5-guys, chipotle, Buffalo Wing University, any Mexican place, any fast food place, or any grocery store: please call me first because I want to go.

The Massacre

Let us pick up where we left off…

BECOMING THE EXCLUSIVE BARTENDER FOR THE GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY OF SYDNEY’S NORTHERN BEACHES

Yes this is one of my prouder accomplishments as the gay community is a picky one, and exceptionally aware or what makes a “smart cocktail.” I was asked to become, “the bartender for all future private events held by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Sydney’s Northern Beaches” while bartending one of their private functions held at my bar (Henry Africa’s).

A gay and lesbian dream team was assembled to make them more Mai Tai’s then they knew how to handle. Bartending was myself, and “sugar James” aka “Gay James.” When a gay and straight James team is assembled, there is no cocktail that can’t be made (with sas!), and no interior that can’t be redecorated. When their president asked for my number so that I would be their private bartender, I was nearly moved to tears… one of the happiest moments of my life. Not even “gay James” was offered this job, and the first word of his nickname sounds like it would be a prerequisite for the job.

BECOMING A MASTER THAI CHEF (with a certificate to prove it)

This happened.

REACHING “ADVANCED” SCUBA DIVER STATUS

Also took place

DODGING ABORIGINAL PEOPLE

So it turns out Aboriginal people are no fun. No fun at all. While traveling through the Australian outback, Rachel and I happened upon the town of Alice Springs. This was to be a place that I now consider to be the worst place on earth. Employment as well as belt-wearing seems to be completely optional, and most residents have opted for the “no thank you” approach to both. So there are a lot of people and a lot of asses simply hanging out. Another fun fact about Alice Springs is that there is a banner proudly waving above the entrance to the hospital reading “Smoke free since July 2009!!!” This was a banner I assumed most hospitals had hung proudly a few decades ago. I guess I should have known not to expect a bustling cosmopolitan metropolis in a place whose main attraction is a big rock (granted this rock was very very cool).

Anywho… upon leaving this waist-beltless wonderland Rachel and I are cruising down the highway excited for another 3000 kilometers of mindless driving. It is just past sunset when we spot some commotion ahead on the highway. Rachel slowed down our whip as we approached and we were delighted to find that the highway was filled by an old fashioned Aboriginal street fight. Several cars were pulled over, and people were throwing fists all over the highway. Naturally I tucked my head down between my knees and emerged only after Rachel assured me we had successfully dodged them. About 200 meters later, we find several more cars pulled over, and a group of Aboriginal people outside of them hailing us down to get them to stop. Again I entered my “safe place” and began dreaming about all of the cocktails I could make the gay community of Sydney… what new and fantastic garnishes might they enjoy? But I didn’t dream for long, because again Rachel successfully slammed on the gas, and blew past whatever doom was waiting for us there.

FIGHTING MONKEYS

Monkeys suck… just want to get that out in the open first. None of that hippie pro-monkey sentiment here.

Phil and I kayaked to “monkey beach” were we expected a warm friendly monkey welcome. I planned to leave the beach with a nice servant monkey, who would subsequently train more monkeys to take care of me on the rest of my travels. I ended up leaving hungry and scarred (I was only emotionally scarred, Phil was physically scarred).

Within 2 seconds of landing our kayak on the beach this little punk monkey ran right past me, past Phil, onto the kayak, and then ran off with our Oreo cookies. He dropped a few cookies behind him, and I swallowed my pride and gathered the scraps he left behind in his thievish wake. I was soon confronted by more angry monkeys, and I quickly surrendered my remaining treats. The monkeys picked my cookies up off the sand, looked them over, brushed off the sand (something I hadn’t even thought of. I was just going to eat the whole thing sand and all), and then concluded it was too sandy. So the monkey separated the cookie into two, and licked off the sand free cream filling.

Phil and I later sat down near the monkeys, but it turned out they wanted my bottle of water as well, so a little one jumped onto the bench we were on, and scratched Phil. We both ran off and I screamed “we are being attacked by small wild monkeys.” I never gave them the water (James 1 Monkeys 1), and I’m pleased to see that when I’m in a crises, I respond by very vocally, and accurately describing my predicament.

MODELING IN NEW ZEALAND

It has always been my dream for people to pay money to look at me (extra fees for direct eye contact), and I’m proud to say that I have taken a small and insignificant step closer to that goal. While Rachel and I were traveling through New Zealand we were growing a little tired, and agreed to stop off at a beach and just look good for a while. After an afternoon of looking good we strolled along the beach back towards our station wagon/house, and somebody took notice.

A strange man with a large tripod and film camera came up to us and asked to film us. Naturally I assumed he was in the pornography businesses, but when I realized he wasn’t… I grew suspicious. Don’t worry Mom, I remembered what you told me, and kept safely behind Rachel while talking to strange men.

It turns out he is actually making a 30 minute promotional video for southern New Zealand, and wanted to film Rachel and I walking along the beach. He took our information and said he would mail Rachel a copy of the DVD. If this ever happens I’ll rent out a movie theater, and have an exclusive showing for whoever is reading this right now. Yes, I will stick around for a few minutes after the screening to answer questions.

BECOMING FAMOUS

“I really enjoyed your Oz post. I miss it there. My blog is looking for travel photos. If you have the time, email us some at dirtyhippiesblog@gmail.com or check us out at dirty-hippies.blogspot.com Continued fun on your travels, Eric”

This is an actual comment posted onto my blog from an actual stranger. This is how it begins people, first Eric starts following my blog, then an unsuspected facebook friendship emerges between us… it turns out Eric and I have much in common… it turns out Eric IS INSIDE MY HOUSE!!!

Perhaps it may not go that far… perhaps, but between this comment and the fame I’ll soon garner in Southern New Zealand there is no telling how big I’m about to get. I’m picturing myself in 5 years having authored something featured on Oprah’s book club, and having invested wisely in a small frozen yogurt chain.

So Eric (I know you are reading this): let’s talk figures. This blog I’m doing is already pro-bono, and now you want me to send pictures too? I don’t think so. Please don’t even waste my time with your first offer. I have been bartering on the streets of Thailand while you sit in your parent’s basement scouring the net for more “dirty hippies.” It’s not about free love/blogs for me… I just watched a boot legged copy of “Get Rich of Die Trying,” and I’m jacked as hell to start “make’n dat paper.” So go ahead and double your first offer, and contact my management/legal team of Dickstein Jain & Lloyd.

-Ja ja ja Ja ja ja JAMES UNIT!

That’s Not Sexy

Youuu Wah Massaaaaaaaaaaahh? No I don’t want a massage (as you may already know I’m very ticklish, and the prospect of an oil massage represents a squirmy hell for me), but regardless of the incessant offers for a “Cheap Cheap” “Massaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh” I’m having a lovely time here in Thailand.

As you have likely already realized, while on my travels I am constantly accruing new skills, talents, and deadly arts knowledge. I know that is hard to fathom seeing that I was already a master coin flicker, free body diagram drawer, polo match heckler, and “Toad Jam & Earl go to Funkatron” player. So the thought of me realizing even more skills is arguably terrifying, or possibly terra-frying as the earth may spontaneously erupt into flames as such a versatile master passes over it. So brace yourself, and try to imagine me returning home able to…

CRASH MOTOR BIKES INTO EVERYTHING

Yes, I am likely the worst motor bike driver of all time. My first full day in Thailand was spent driving motor bikes around Phuket with Phil, two guys we met the night before, and a Thai women who served as our tour guide. Interestingly enough, the same women served as a prostitute for one of the two aforementioned guys the night before.

We went to rent the motor bikes for a full day for 300 Baht (roughly 9 US dollars), little did I know the price I would actually pay for the bike would be grotesquely more at the end of the day. They wanted me to leave my passport as a deposit for the bike, but this was something I was not too keen on, so instead I left my Virginia drivers license. At the time there was no way of knowing that I would later be stopped by the police, and fined another 300 Baht for driving without a license.

But back to the beginning, I’m just getting onto my bike, and I have no idea what I’m doing. Nobody asks if I have ever driven one before, or if I know what I’m doing. When I don’t know how to start the damn thing, however, I am given some minimal assistance. So now my motor is running, and I still have no idea what I’m doing… this is a bad combination. In an attempt to inch forward I turn the throttle just a hair and rocket my bike into the bike of the prostitute/tour-guide’s bike. I fall over, break my sandle, cut up my feet and knees pretty bad, and take a lot of paint off of the bike. Everyone starts laughing at me and I feel every once of pride, confidence, self-worth, manliness, and ability to complete simple tasks drain out of my body.

Luckily, this is Thailand so instead of taking the bike away from me, they stand it back up for me, and tell me to have a nice day, and to just be gentle on the gas. I’m free to continue my rampage through Phuket, but now I’m barefoot.

Long story short, I crash the bike twice more. Once at a crowded intersection, and once into a ditch. I returned my bike missing a lot of paint and feeling like a new, vastly inferior man. Again I’m laughed at profusely by Thai man, and I barter for a while and end up paying another 1,200 Baht (roughly 36 US dollars) in damages.

Sadly I have much more to say, but some Brazilian dude, Bernardo, wouldn’t stop talking to me while I was writing this, and now I need to catch my bus to some other fantasy island. I will conclude this with more skills/accomplishments such as.

BECOMING THE EXCLUSIVE BARTENDER FOR THE GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY OF SYDNEY’S NORTHERN BEACHES

BECOMING A MASTER THAI CHEF (with a certificate to prove it)

REACHING “ADVANCED” SCUBA DIVER STATUS

DODGING ABORIGINAL PEOPLE

FIGHTING MONKEYS

MODELING IN NEW ZEALAND

BECOMING FAMOUS

And I know there is some more cool stuff. I’m just doing so much cool stuff, I can’t even remember some of the cool stuff…, but trust me… lots of cool stuff is happening.

I have to credit my travel/life partner Phil Sukys for the title of the blog. He said it in observation of some people we were talking to while buying street food at 3 in the morning. It was very appropriate then, and sums up much of our travels.

-James

“The plan is to get in, make dance, and get out”
-Julia Calabrese

On the road again, but this time my ears are bleeding

That’s right nerds I’m finally leaving Sydney, and my right ear is mysteriously bleeding. But first things first, I need to back up a little bit and answer the dozens of questions I have imagined have been pouring in from all those people who actively follow my blog and care about what is happening to me.

Question 1: “I don’t understand James, why are you homeless and living in a van? Maybe in your next entry you can explain that?”

I especially like this question because it is the only question that was actually asked and I have not invented for the purpose of this blog (thank you Charlotte). The blog Charlotte just couldn’t wait to hear more about was all about my misfortune while traveling in New Zealand. This is an adventurous country very near Australia. Sheep out-populate people 7:1 and Hungarian hitchhikers talk to you for 30 minutes on the subject of pig slaughter. Did you know that you can use the blood to make a wonderful breakfast called “scrambled blood”? I didn’t know that either. We got him back, however, as we dropped him off even further from his destination than where we pickedhim up.

Did that answer your question?

Brothers from another mother

Brothers from another mother

Question 2: “Bungi jumping was invented in New Zealand and Queenstown is considered the adventure capital of the world, did you try anything extreme?”

Not scared just concerned about the wetness of my pants

Not scared just concerned about the wetness of my pants

This is a stupid question because the way I eat sandwiches is extreme for most people. I lead a high-octane, cost-effective life. Yes I did go bungi jumping, and yes I did chose to jump off of the highest one in all of

Australasia. 143 meters of pure terror. Please reference the pictures of me pissing myself before jumping (I’m not a fan of heights if you didn’t already know that).

Nothing garnishes a gin martini with a lemon twist like a terrible mustache

Nothing garnishes a gin martini with a lemon twist like a terrible mustache

Q 3: “Why don’t you shorten it from ‘Question’ to ‘Q’ for efficiency?”

Way ahead of you.

Q 4: “James, you have long prided yourself on your ‘bourgeois’ status. What have you been doing in Sydney to further distance yourself from the working class?”

Living above the poverty line : Rachel and I dressed up and appropriately went to a casino, where I won 65 dollars. I attribute these winnings to my wonderful red tie I was sent for Christmas -Thanks mom.

Living above the poverty line : Rachel and I dressed up and appropriately went to a casino, where I won 65 dollars. I attribute these winnings to my wonderful red tie I was sent for Christmas -Thanks mom.

I do in fact feel strongly that we should all strive to separate our lives as much as possible from the lives of those in “the lower classes.” To openly support this effort I recently attended the Sydney Philharmonic’s performance of Beethoven’s 9th symphony in the simply decadent setting of the Sydney Opera House (if you have the means, I highly recommend it).

I have also been know to sit down at several of the “high roller” tables at the Sydney casino. Not only do these 5-10 dollar stakes assert my higher status, but an evening at the casino affords me the opportunity to wear some of the fantastic cloths my mother sent me for Christmas. These items include a red tie, and several white Hanes t-shirts.

Q 5: “Back state-side you were often mistaken for a small girl. Have you done anything to man-up a little bit”

Yes and no. No because I never ended up competing in an amateur boxing match, and no because I’m currently wearing jean shorts, and no because I’m listening to a lot of “Destinies Child” right now.

Yes because I just rented a 4WD Land Rover for $1 a day, and illegally took it to Frasier Island. This is the largest all-sand island in the world, and can only be accessed by 4WD vehicles. I traveled there for 3 chest hair building days with Rachel, Phil Sukys, and a refreshing blast from the past, Nick Menchel. This was arguably the coolest thing I have ever done in my life. We are lucky we didn’t break the car, as both Phil and I had to learn how to drive off road as we went.
The whole trip was one big Land Rover commercial as we all cheered and laughed as we blew through streams, cruised across beaches, and climbed mountains. If you ever go to Australia this is something you must do.

Nick, Phil, Rachel and I shared some of the most manly adventures in this sick whip. Except for the one time we needed to get towed out (I got us stuck), we largely embarrassed nature.

Nick, Phil, Rachel and I shared some of the most manly adventures in this sick whip. Except for the one time we needed to get towed out (I got us stuck), we largely embarrassed nature.

Q 6: “Did the Easter bunny find you in Australia?”

If by “find me in Australia” you meant to say “hop on up to you and poop on your life” then yes, the Easter bunny absolutely found me. Rachel and I arrived in Byron Bay (our first stop after leaving Sydney) Easter morning at 6am. We were loaded down with way to much stuff (2 days later we threw away a lot of our stuff to lighten our loads), but we managed to hobble down to the beach where we planned to relax for a few hours before our next bus.

I would like to digress for a moment and say that it is very difficult to convey how annoying it is to move around at all when you are carrying a camping pack that is full to the brim, and another back pack that is filled with more “Travel Australia” books than you know what to do with. In fact it is quite infuriating. I want to go on for a while about this, but I’ll spare you. Just remember that for the remainder of “Q 6,” Rachel and I hate every step we take. Back to the story…
So we “planned” to relax, but I swear to god, the exact moment we had finally set our stuff down, got our swimming cloths out, put them on, put our old cloths away, set our towels down, and lied down… it started to rain. So we spent the next few ours under an awning outside a bakery. We mostly sat quietly and tried to ignore the old scary hippies who tried to talk to us while waiting for their blues festival to begin.

We caught our bus, and saw some sights that afternoon before we returned again to Byron Bay for Easter night. Again we went to the beach to relax for a few hours before our next bus. Bummer, it was too late for me to rent a surf board so we set our towels out, and you guessed it… started raining again. So we spent the next 3 hours huddled under another awning, waiting for another bus, shedding another tear, enjoying another Easter.

Well, more later. I need to run to pick up our next 4WD. We are really breaking the bank since this one is costing $5 a day. We drove 2700 kilometers to get here to the middle of nowhere (Alice Spings). Now Rachel and I are heading to see a big rock (Uluru), and then we drive another 2500 kilometers north to Darwin. I’ll be out of touch till then (the 20th). Also Rachel and I almost died on the way here, but more on that later. Also, we went camping in the blue mountains and I almost stepped on a 3 foot long Tiger Snake (worlds 3rd deadliest snake). Also I have been surrounded by wild dingos on multiple occasions (the last one Nick chased them off with a stick).

-James

Mom, I talk about Hugh Jackman in this one!!!

Unrelated, but right now I'm eating pudding for breakfast.

Unrelated, but right now I’m eating pudding for breakfast.

WARNING: This post is all about my last stand up routine. It may be boring to some readers, and offensive to others.

I preformed one more gig since my last post on the subject. I was pleased with my first performance, but not all that happy with it. After this most recent performance, however, I was ecstatic. So this post is not about me failing, but actually about my success as I am proud of my performance, and am definitely inspired to continue stand up comedy when I get back to DC.

The whole premise of the joke was inspired by Colin Lloyd. Just before leaving for Australia I was ranting about how beautiful all the Australian women would be and how they would love my American freedom loving antics, but Colin was quick to inform me that Australia was actually the fattest country in the world, and while this would make the women of Australia easier to locate and chase down, it would unfortunately make them less please’n for the look’n at. It turned out Colin does not have “a big mouth on a fat face on a whales body,” as I originally explained to every non-Colin I knew, but is actually reasonably proportioned and literate. With a simple google search, Colin managed to shatter my dreams. He found a 2008 report titled “Australia’s future fat bomb,” which states that Australia has in fact surpassed America as the worlds #1 fattest country.

Long story short (all involving my sophisticated comedic process that you all not in ‘the biz’ could never understand) I ended up rewriting a joke about Australia being fatter than the US about 12 hours before the show, while riding the train to pick up Rachel from the airport (she got in the morning of the show). I purposely left areas where I needed to improv on stage, because I thought that would liven up my act, and in the end most of it needed to be improved because I had hardly memorized what I had written by the time of my performance (I was busy with Rachel arriving in Sydney, and my best buddy Chris leaving).

For whatever reason, several of the acts that were on before me were American, so I felt the need to talk about that. I honestly have almost no memory of what happened from the time the MC called my name to the time I sat back down in my seat, but much of it has been retold to me by others in attendance.

I ended up improving the first minute or so talking about how all the comedians doing stand up there that night were American and how there must be no room for comedy in the US and how we have to export all of our comedians. I went off about how Virginia’s 3 biggest exports are now ham, tobacco, and comedy, and then talked about the homemade Star Wars t-shirt I was wearing (thanks Julia). Finally I got into the joke I had written which largely involved angry ranting about how I was tricked into coming to Australia, and how they had no idea what it took to be fat and how America would soon be number one again.

One top moment was my impersonation of an Australian challenging me to a “eat-off” in which “Me and the yank would head on down to me flat in Wallamaloo and have the misses set out a coupl’a knifies and forkies, and we’ll just see who’s still standing after all of the fried dingo with tozl-toozl sauce we can handle.” (imagine an over the top, insultingly Australian voice).

Another crowd pleaser was my impersonation of myself as a freedom loving frat-star excited to travel to Sydney (before learning from Colin that Australia was all too literally the land of milk and honey). Thank you Sigma Pi for suppling the inspiration for this character. I spent more time than you would expect just shouting into the microphone (as I pretend to pack for Sydney), “WOOOOOO… going to SYDNEY! The big Syd… The big S.Y.D….. syd, SYDNEY! WOOOOT WOOOOT… the ladies are gona love this Americana… gona dig this Americana anaconda, WOOOOT WOOOOT!” etc, etc.

My finishing line was partially inspired by my mother and her timeless love for Hugh Jackman. I said that the only way to settle who was fatter, the US or the OZ, was to turn to celebrities for guidance, as we should do at all times. I explained how the US not only has fat celebrities, but we take sexy celebrities and turn them fat. I talked about Marlon Brando, and Elvis Presley (Saying “Elvis” at some point in the act was a requirement for the competition). I then said “now look at your Australian celebrities. Do you think Hugh Jackman is going to let his figure slide? The guy did all of his own singing and dancing in the movie production of ‘Oklahoma’ for christ sake (thanks for that nugget mom). He is going to be doing ‘Wolverine’ sequels into his 70’s. What about Heath Ledger? Do you think he is going to let himself go? Ohhhhhhhhhh.” I then put the mic down and walked off without another word. After stunned silence (in case you’ve been living under a rock Heath Ledger recently died) everyone started laughing and I snapped back into consciousness.

It was one of the best feelings of my life and I now plan on continuing it as a hobby when I get home. Several strangers and comedians complimented me on my act, and seemed genuenly surprised to hear it was only my second try at stand up. I was also told that I said the ‘F’ word about 50 times including once when I just said it out of the blue and then apologized for a while for my unnecessary profanity. I’ll try to tone it down in the future.

-James

Nothing beats the hobo life

Rachel: “should we get tuna… wow look at all the different flavors”
James: “buy them all!”

James: “I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited to eat cold spaghetti-o’s out of the can every night”
Rachel: “why do you keep doubting my commitment to living like a homeless person?”

“Let’s get a station wagon so we can sleep in it”
– Rachel

These were all quotes from our first days in New Zealand. We didn’t realize the consequences that would result from the decisions we were making that day. They have lead to fun quotes such as:

“you should just write about how we are never prepared for anything… nothing… not one thing. Or you could write about all that awful tuna we bought.”
– Rachel

“Ahhh, I slept in the same clothes I went hiking and swimming in”
– James

Rachel: “what are you going to wear tonight?”
James: “the same clothes I have been wearing for the past few days”

“We are awful at this”
– Rachel and James (many times)

“Why are we so bad at this?”
– Rachel and James (many times)

“It is better to eat the spaghetti-o’s in the dark, because at least then you don’t have to see what you’re eating”
– James

“I promise… we are going to survive”
– James

Living as a hobo is less glamorous than originally anticipated. Actually, I didn’t anticipate living as a hobo at all, so my current situation is actually far far less glamorous than originally anticipated. I’m not constantly living as a hobo, it is just that when I do go hobo, I hit it pretty hard. It is now day 13 in New Zealand I have lost my shaving cream and along with it I have lost most of the respect I once had for up keeping my general living condition.

New Zealand exists in two absolute forms of Heaven and Hell. My life in New Zealand jumps me back and forth between these biblical worlds and it seems that St. Peter simply decides where I am by changing the weather. When it is sunny here, New Zealand is hands down the most incredible, beautiful, and awe inspiring place I have ever visited. No mater where you are here if it is sunny you can look in any direction and be amazed. Most things literally don’t even look real. I feel like I’m on Pandora. Sadly, this is all boring to write about.

Luckily for my blog, however, much of my time here has been spent in misery. It doesn’t much matter that I’m traveling through some of the most pristine countryside in the world when Rachel and I are shivering in the back of our station wagon trying to settle down for bed (bed is the back of the station wagon) while eating cold spaghetti-o’s out of the can, and furiously scratching mosquito bites (the bites were mostly suffered by Rachel… luckily).

Not every night is this bleak. One night we managed to spend a few hours sitting on the floor of an empty room that contained a sink and a hot plate. We managed to create what Rachel named “deluxe hobo chili” (this was an upgrade over the “hobo chili” we made a few nights earlier). After sleeping in the car that night guess what we had for breakfast in the morning. Leftover deluxe hobo chili. That day we visited the Frans Josef Glacier. It was raining, and neither of us wanted to go. We arrived at the “glacier” to find a massive dirty pile of snow.

Valentines day was spent in a beautiful setting. By “beautiful setting” I of course mean to say, “mosquito infested hell hole.” We hiked across a tidal basin in low tide to come onto a camp site where naturally, we had made no reservations. After setting up camp we met the understandably angry park ranger, but luckily for us there was nothing he could really do. The tide was coming in and the only exit from the site was flooded. We thought we were so clever, and giggled at the thought of our cleverness, but then night fell, and the tidal basin begins to act as the perfect mosquito haven. I’m comforted by the fact that Rachel likely had the most memorable Valentines day of her life. We had ants on a log for dinner, and then she got to watch me sleep peacefully as she furiously scratched her bug bites all night long (the mosquitoes went nuts for Rachel, but they hardly bothered me).

The technical New Zealand term for the way Rachel and I are living right now is “tramping.” Mom, don’t worry, it is far less “sex-worker” related than it sounds. But it isn’t much more glamorous.

We have, however, fought back. Signs such as “Don’t disturb the seals” have been blatantly ignored. I’m proud to say that I have now in my life scared several seals off of their protected, native nesting grounds. Other rules such as “no shouting in the casino” have also been neglected. Sorry, but I listen to Wesley Snipes for all of my gambling advice so I “always bet on black” and when my $5 bet on black is a winner I can’t contain myself. Our dealer calmly repeated “no shouting please” as I rang out with cries of “Woooooooo… that’s what you call a Woo bet because every time it wins it makes you shout Wooooooooooooo.”

I’m cold,
James

I’m funnier than Even Ferguson and Andrew Werczyk combined

I’m preparing to give a speech at Henry Africa’s on my 23rd birthday. I ended thanking my father for denouncing Catholicism to marry an Episcopalian, and creating me 23 years and 9 months ago.

I’m preparing to give a speech at Henry Africa’s on my 23rd birthday. I ended thanking my father for denouncing Catholicism to marry an Episcopalian, and creating me 23 years and 9 months ago.

The Internet sort of says I’m a comedian:

————————————-
“One of Western Australia’s leading funny men, John Robertson will also be on the bill to MC the very first heat of Quest for the Best ’10, Australia’s richest open mic competition in which the eventual winner takes home $5000.
Contestants will be:
• Sue Thomas
• Kathy Smith
• James Colley
• Andrew Werczyk
James Calabrese
• David Burke
• Sean Ticehurst
• Evan Ferguson
Word of the week is Elvis.
Tickets are $15 and available through Moshtix.
Show starts at 8pm.”
—————————————-

Go to http://www.comedyontherox.com.au/ to see it for yourself. The show is Feb 3rd (tomorrow).

As you can see, I have finally accomplished the almost impossible dream of having my name appear somewhere in the World Wide Web. How many of you can say the same? There does not seem to be a Wikipedia page on my yet, but I guess they are just doing background research on my childhood, and influences and whatnot. For now I’ll settle for my name appearing not on the real internet, but merely on the phony Australian “.com.au” internet. It is a start though, one day I’ll make it onto the “.com” internet.

This will actually be my 2.5ishth stand up performance, and I’ll really have to branch out for some new material on this one. My last 1.5ish gigs have featured a lot of jokes that directly insult (and intimidate) the venue in which I perform. You know… I’m pretty raw and out there. That’s just my style of comedy. Some people have been saying that I’m too real and that the general public isn’t ready for it, but that is the only way I know how to perform my art. Uncompromising, raw, fierce… merciless…… jackhammer.

My first half of a gig took place at my bar’s employee Christmas Eve party. After dinner I did about 10 minutes to the staff and managers of the bar. (note that there are almost no black people in Australia, but 3 black guys work at my bar) I opened with the line “Is this bar called Henry Africa’s because it employs the only black people in Australia?” This joke was received with general discomfort. I looked to the black guys, because if they laughed then everyone else would know it was okay to laugh… they were not laughing. So I decided to loosen up the crowd with a stock bar joke (mom stop reading now).

“Two condoms walk past a gay bar, the first condom turns to the second condom and says, ‘hey man, do you want to get shit faced tonight?’”

This joke went over much better, as it always does. Now that the crowed was warmed up I began systematically attacking all of the foreigners surrounding me. I mostly focused on the fact that there are no real Swedish people that work there. One of the Swedish guys is Iranian, and the other is like 5’5” and has dark hair. I also did my impersonation of a Swedish person. I simply recreate the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. I flail my arms in the air and say “shmerden florben globen glueben.” The only people who look Swedish are actually these three Danish people, and I made fun of them for being bargain-brand, knock-off Swedish. I then made fun of the management for buying all of these bargain-brand, knock-off pirate goblets that we use for some of our drinks on our tiki-themed Sundays (notice how I tied those two jokes together with the bargain-brand, knock-off idea. Just like a real comedian!). I explained how these pirate goblets looked like they were so cheap, that we found them in the rubbish bin (rubbish = garbage in Australia) behind a party store. I said that all the kids in Manly would start having their 9th birthday parties at Henry Africa’s, and that they would get a “neat-o” pirate goblet to take home in their goodie bag.

If you can imagine how awkward it was after my opening “black” joke, then multiply that by 100 and you have an idea of what it was like after that quip about the goblets. It was dead silent and everyone simply looked down at the floor as if they were pretending that they didn’t even hear what I said. I looked at the manager/owner (who bought the goblets and created the tiki night) and he gave me a look that made me about 60% sure I was going to be fired.

I then finished with a joke I have written for actual stand up about the difference between Breasts and Bosoms. I rant about how no girl has a bosom now, but all women have breasts. The breast is cold, and hands off, while the bosom was very functional and nurturing. That is the concept of the joke, and it is actually the one I preformed at my first real comedy gig.

My first real gig was at the Manly Boatshed. (See how I again tie stories together with these linking concepts? And to think that I have absolutely no professional training!) I did the bosom vs. breasts joke for about 3 minutes, but I opened with, you guessed it, two minutes of insulting the Manly Boatshed. The Manly Boatshed is like The Matrix in the sense that no one can be told what the Boatshed is, you have to see it for yourself. I would post pictures, but I broke my camera on my 23rd birthday, which is a different story entirely. So to imagine the Boatshed, just imagine a coal mine, imagine it being partially collapsed, and now add a small stage with a microphone. That’s it pretty much.

For 2 minutes I talked about how the Boatshed has found a niche as the exact opposite of all the other “beach bars” in Manly, since it has no natural light, beachfront views, no ocean breezes. I explained that the Boatshed was designed in a “snuff film” motif kind of like the bat cave, but without all of the cool stuff. I also explained that the qualifications you needed to work there are the exact same qualifications you have to meet to work as a dominatrix. All of these jokes actually went over really well. I also did an impersonation of an Australian that got huge laughs (I actually had to stand there waiting for it to die down so I could continue). Sadly, however, most of my bosom vs. breast joke was very poorly received.

So I experienced some of the exciting highs and lows of the stand-up comedy world, and I’ll let you all know how my gig goes tomorrow. I plan on making fun of Australia for competing with America for the title of the fattest country in the world. I have yet to begin practicing, and I’m predicting a massive failure.

Hopefully before I go on tomorrow I’ll get some help from the MC. Before I went on at the Boatshed I was at the bar with some friends having a few drinks to build up my confidence, and the MC came up to me and our conversation went like this:

MC: You’re James right?
James: Yea
MC: This is your first time doing stand up?
James: Yea. Any words of advice?
MC: You shouldn’t drink. It will not help you at all and it will only make you forget your lines.
James (as the MC walks away): Thanks for building up my confidence.

To top it all off, I had to be the first comedian on after the MC warmed up the crowd. The only funny thing that happened during his “warm up” was when the audience started heckling him. He was not funny at all, and after a particularly painful heckle he decided to bail and call me onto stage. He told everyone that it was my first time ever doing stand up, and then he did in impersonation of how nervous I must be and how tight my ass-hole was at that moment. I was not very happy with him. When I got on stage I thanked him anyways, because that is what I rehearsed doing, and I was so nervous that my heart was almost beating out of my chest, and I couldn’t think of anything else to do.

In conclusion, stand up is weird.

As always, there is much more to tell, but this blog post is already way too long and upon re-reading it is pretty terrible.

I’m going to go home now to:
a) put cream on the jelly fish sting I got surfing yesterday
b) put cream on the big patch of skin I’m now missing from my chest (I lost it surfing today)
c) figure out how to fix my camera
d) figure out how to get new house keys because I lost mine in the ocean today while I was… you can guess
e) buy more cream

I hate surfing,
James

what WHAT?

“You inexplicably know lots of awesome people even though you are repulsive yourself”
-Michelle Young

what WHAT indeed you ‘awesome people’. Everyone’s top 15 favorite polluter of the blogosphere is back with his long delayed and marginally anticipated 10th blog. Time for more gut wrenching tales of misadventure? Perhaps I have lost a limb, or I choked to death and curiously left this 10th blog with an attorney as my last will and testament.
Wrong. The last 9 blogs have sucked you in for my first (and only?) blog about my successes here in OZ. Even I, the charmingly befuddled Virginian, have made a few right moves here in this backwards country.

Success #1… Surfing:

Many of you may be surprised to hear that I have actually improved considerably at such a cool and sexy recreational activity. I have already upgraded to a more advanced board once (from my original red board I named “Darth Shred” to a more aggressively shaped blue board named “Natasha”). Now I have just put up adds to sell “Natasha” so that I may upgrade to a significantly more advanced and unnamed board.

Other surfers out on the water have even taken notice. Where they used to say things like “Get the hell out of the way” and “beginners should surf further south on the beach” now I hear things like “nice wave blue board” and “do you know what time it is?” The first complimentary quote I have heard a few times including once by this really nasty Japanese guy (he was really good, and I also find that Japanese people look the coolest of all surfers). The second one I have heard a few times, and because it is not an insult, I’ll take it as a compliment.

I have even earned the nickname “Cutback Calabrese” from a small but distinguished group of surfers (and by small I mean to say that Chris Morgan is the only person who has ever called me that, and by distinguished I of coarse mean to say ugly).

Success #2… Not Vomiting:

I tried sparring for the first time the other week and did not vomit. I worked out with Luke Griffen, a 30 year old amateur boxer who considered going pro back in Whales. I may have to revise my theory that Whales sucks (reference blog #3) because Luke is a really good guy when he is not punching me in the face. He did punch me in the face quite often; however, I still think he is a good guy.

We went for 5 rounds, 2 minutes each. On several occasions I had to plan seriously on where I would go to vomit. Could I make it to the trash can in time, or should I just run to the window? I learned that being punched in the face is extremely annoying, and the best way to make someone stop is to punch them really hard in the face. I actually succeeded at doing this several times. Luke said that I did not panic when I was being hit, and that I can throw a really hard right hand. How about that for a success?

I could hardly keep my hands up the last few rounds and I’m pretty sure Luke was shouting at me to keep going, but it was hard to understand his ridiculous accent. He began hitting me pretty hard in the body by the end, which conveyed a message to keep going that I easily understood. That contributed mightily to my desire to vomit, but again I did not. Hence success number 2.

I joking asked him to show me some dirty techniques just in case, and he actually took my request very seriously. We spent 5 minutes working on how to look like I’m throwing a right hand to the head, but to actually swing my elbow down like an axe across his face. Along with some pad work, Luke had me do a cool down of some “light skipping.” I thought this would be okay, as I had been doing a lot of jump rope on my own at the gym. He then set the timer for 8 minutes, which in my opinion at the time was an ungodly amount of time to skip. 8 minutes later I again was planning out where I would vomit, but again I did not. Success.

Sadly I will not succeed in finishing this blog entry (ironically), because I just got a call from the gym to come in to work early today. The blog has gone on long enough anyways.

So look forward to “what WHAT” part two. I will also include some pictures.
I would like to thank Benjamin Heriaud for supplying me with the title of this blog, and for Michelle Young for providing the introductory quotation (as painful as it was, funny is funny). I would also like to apologize to Chris (I actually think you are a very handsome man, I was just joking).

-James

3 Simple Rules to Live By

So my life was going pretty well for a while, and therefore I did not update my blog during that time. I would have loved to, trust me; nothing would have made me happier. I began to write several blog entries, but they were all about my success, and happiness, two things I realize few if any of you care at all to hear about. Luckily, however, I had some inspiration when I returned to yet another night of work at the bar, and within the first hour slaving away there I felt a deluge of inspirational misery which ended my joyful writer’s block.

Bartending 101:

Rule #1… Always be dancing. You must dance for two reasons. The first being that it is the only way to maintain sanity: As I watch hundreds of different happy people throughout the night enjoying drinks and loud thumping euro/house music, I slowly go insane with a potent cocktail of misery, jealousy, sweatiness (good god you can’t imagine the sweatiness), and raw anger.

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills there, because everyone else seems to love that damn house music. They all jump and rave and dink and make out.  All to this obnoxious music that melds the same 8 hit songs with mind numbing synthesized beats. I then realized the other day that I’m actually the only person who is NOT on crazy pills. I’m sane and everyone else is crazy. More accurately stated, I’m sober, and everyone else is on Ecstasy. This is a shockingly true statement. The frequency of use of this drug is reflected in the name. In the USA these pills are called “Ecstacy”, here they are simply called “pills.”

So I try to dance along with the rest of them. Normally if you are at a bar and are happy you dance. I’m attempting to trick my mind and reverse this sequence of events by forcing myself to dance in the hopes that this makes me happy… success has been limited.

The second reason you have to dance is because it keeps you light on your feet. I rarely go 10 seconds without being pushed, shoved, tapped, bumped, stepped on, spilled on, or kneed violently in the ribs (this actually happened once). Dancing allows me to dodge or at least lessen most of these blows.

Rule #2… Hit harder than they do. My first few weeks working I thought every bartender working with me was a jack ass. I was not accustomed to all the pushing and shouting (as explained above), so I thought everyone was just mean. I soon realized that the pushing was simply necessary, and I developed rule #1 (see above). The incident where I was kneed in the ribs, however, made me realize that dancing was simply not enough. With the exception of Mac (a man who is a terrifying combination of massive black Ghanaian DNA and German upbringing), all the other bartenders are little Euro/Auzzi men who’s weight is practically doubled every morning when they meticulously apply hair gel.

The moment I was kneed I realized that things were backwards, and that everyone should fear me when I pass by. Now when I’m walking behind someone to drop some glasses off and they step back, they get blasted out of my way as I grin an American grin. This bothers them some, but their hair remains unaltered, so they seem to be okay with it.

The man who kneed me in the ribs, and thus inspired Rule #2, is a particularly small, groomed, and foreign man named Murilo. And this brings me to my next rule…

Rule #3… When in doubt, always pick on the Brazilian. Murilo is the perfect target, as he is much smaller than me, and most importantly he speaks the least English of anyone who works at Henry Africa’s.

I actually developed this rule before any others. One of my first nights working I was being made fun of for being American. This is fine and not surprising, but what I was surprised by, and deeply disturbed by was the fact that I had no comebacks. As I was being made fun of my mind was blank. All I could think was ‘why are you not making fun of them? You have been trained your whole life for this moment. You are surrounded by hilarious foreigners who were all former ESL students, why are you not destroying them mentally right now?’

I was very disturbed by this, and I honestly thought about it frequently over the next few days. But then it dawned on me. What I was going through was exactly what a new inmate goes through in prison, and I needed to respond exactly how an inmate would respond. I decided to pick one person, and very publicly embarrass them. This would earn me the street cred (respect) that I needed. I also started sharpening the end of my toothbrush into a shiv just in case.

So during a meeting with the entire staff present I decided to make my stand (Just like Ed Norton did when he took his shirt off in the prison yard in American History X… but without all of the white supremacy connotations). Kirin, the owner/manager, had just finished making a seriously serious speech about the bartenders needing to step up their work levels, and I raised my hand. I could tell most people were rather shocked by this, because I was quite quiet during my first days at work. Kirin called on me and I said,

“Kirin… as I see it, you have a very nice bar, but what you are lacking is new blood. Some of the bartenders have been here for a while, and frankly they are getting old and losing their edge. They are the setting sun, while I, however, am the rising phoenix.”
(Now was my chance).
“Take Murilo for example…”
(Murilo stands up out of his chair).
“He has been here for over a year, and he just can’t hack it anymore.”
(time to go for it)
“And on top of that he can’t even speak English…. he pronounces ‘tips’ as ‘chips’ for gods sake”

At this point Murilo picks up his chair and motions to throw it at me. But he and everyone else just start laughing, and at that moment I knew that I asserted my position at the bar. Not as the alpha male, but certainly not as the bitch.

-James

The Hunchback of Henry Africa’s (They call me Mr. Glass)

I have come to realize that I have arguably the worst position possible at the bar (Henry Africa’s). I now understand that every day I come into work there, I am the most hated person in the bar. This is because I work behind the bar, I dress like a bartender, I help make a lot of drinks, I have soft welcoming Calabrese/Pippin fusion facial-features, but I can not make your drink. Not only can I not make you a drink, but I can not even make eye contact with you.

I am the hunchback of Henry Africa’s cursed to roam behind the bar looking down at the floor in shame at all times. When I make eye contact with anyone, they immediately get excited and lean over the bar to order a drink from me. I then try to explain that I am forbidden from making them the smart cocktails that everyone else behind the bar is making for other customers who are not being jerked around by casual eye contact.

It turns out that this really irritates a lot of people. To attempt to mitigate these uncomfortable situations I tried making light of them. When anyone asked me for a drink I would say “sorry, they don’t let me make drinks here anymore” and when they asked “why?” I would always respond, “Because the last drink I made killed a man.” I had this conversation 10 times with 10 different people and none of them ever laughed. The 11th and final time I tried this, the conversation progressed as follows:

Scene: Henry Africa’s bar where our hero has just made eye contact with an unsuspecting patron:

Patron: “hey can I get two vodka red bulls?”
The hunchback: “sorry, but you’ll have to ask one of the bartenders for a drink”
Patron: “you are a bartender”
The hunchback: “no, they actually don’t let me make drinks anymore”
Patron: “What?”
The hunchback: “the last drink I ever made killed a man”
Patron: “Fuck you”

Patron walks away and our hero drops his eyes to the floor and anticipates yet another night where he will cry himself to sleep

That is a true story and happened word for word. The only lie was the part where I cry myself to sleep at night. That is impossible because I don’t go to bed after working at the bar until 6am, so I cry myself to sleep in the morning.

Here is another true story, this time I didn’t even make eye contact to start it off:

Scene: Our hero has his eyes down as he washes glasses as fast as he can. He looks up to see three attractive women standing directly in front of him. The alpha female stands in the middle holding her middle finger up.

Alpha female: “fuck you”
The hunchback: “what the hell? Are you kidding me?”
Alpha female: “fuck you”
The hunchback: “I’m just washing glasses why the hell are you giving me the finger?”
Alpha female: “you served those other girls first”
The hunchback: “I haven’t even looked up from these glasses for five minutes”
Girl #2 with a drunken voice: “It’s her birthday”
Girl #3 with a drunker voice: “Yea it’s her birthday”
The hunchback: “well it’s my birthday tonight too, and I’m working. So stop cursing at me for no #$%@*&% reason”

I was lying because it was not my birthday, but it shut them up.

I would like to say something to any girl reading this right now who has ever stepped foot in any bar… STOP. Whatever is your instinct when you are in a bar; from now on do the exact opposite. You are all terrible to deal with. If you just do the opposite of what you normally do, everyone will be happier.

The only exception to the general rule of thumb at the bar (general rule of thumb = shit on James) occurred when I was trying to take all the empty bottles out through the dance floor the other night. Normally nobody moves out of my way, but this time there was a bridal party of some sort and everyone held up their arms and made a tunnel for me and cheered every time I had to walk across the dance floor. This was a welcome change and a nostalgic through back to youth soccer games.

Girls in wedding scenarios are nice. They are an exception to the rule.

Also I’m not called a “barback” as I would be in the states, but rather they call me a “glassy.” I find this more degrading.

“I should have known. They used to call me Mr. Glass”
-Elijah Price

PS: More bar stories that involve me triumphing to come. They involve me becoming the judge in a cocktail competition and me making fun of the Brazilian bartender incessantly so as to make myself look cooler to the group. The actually call me “Captain America” or “Maestro Calabrese” both nicknames I rather enjoy.