Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Hill

The long, long, long, long hike up a skazillion Himalayan mountain stairs is going to take about 9 days going up, 6 days coming down.

The maximum elevation to the base camp will be 5,500 meters more or less, which is about 3,000 meters short of the start of the climb to the summit. It's that last 3,000 meters where you earn your stripes and I'll only ever see them in National Geographic.

My online sherpa guide tells me the trek will be "moderate to strenuous". If he were to factor in the five nights a week I flop my butt on the sofa for two hours of brain benumbing syndicated sitcoms, glass of red and a bag of bagel crisps by my side, he'd more accurately describe the trek as "extremely strenuous to what the fuck have I gotten myself into?"

I'm not too worried about the trek itself. It's just walking a lot really. Actually, it will be the flights between Kathmandu to Lukla, the staging area, I dread the most. You fly in one of these
infernal prop jobs--

Whenever I board a single or twin engine prop plane (after the Valium, on top of the double gin and tonics) I do my best to convince myself that the pilot probably has a loving family that he hopes to see again soon, so even if he doesn't care about the human cargo he's hauling, he is looking out for number one, and he's made sure all the nuts and bolts are tight, there's plenty of fuel in the tank and the tail winds are in his favor.

Trek highlights not only include the views of course and dining on Sherpa cuisine, there will also be along the way a hot springs, Tarzan movie rope bridges, a day spent acclimatizing and convincing your body to get by with less oxygen in the provincial capital of Namche. There's supposed to be a bazaar there--which is bizarre because why would anyone want to add any extra weight to the burden you're already carrying? I'll probably pick up an "I've been there and you haven't" t-shirt.

It's also a place where I can check my Email and blog my last will and testament. I'll visit a monastery or two. And put rum in my hot chocolate if my toes start to go numb.

I probably won't take a camera. I'll go to Google images. A hill is a hill is a hill.

I hear one can also get roasted toasted on black tar temple balls if one so chooses, although from what I've read about altitude sickness, the effects are quite similar to a good buzz, so I might just turn in early each night, put some 13th Floor Elevators and Bubble Puppy on the Ipod playlist and set the clock for 5 to catch the sunrises over the peak.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blue States

I'm making preparations to do the trek of treks--the Mt. Everest Base Camp trek in January. No mountaineering involved. As far as Everest adventures go, it's a 2.5 on a scale of 5 (one being a flyover. 4.5 trying to climb and getting killed along the way, 5 making it to the top).

I don't climb. But I do know how to walk up a flight of stairs, and basically, that's what the Everest Base Camp trek is--walking up stairs (actually rocks cut into the sides of hills)--a whole lot of them over two wintry Himalayan weeks. Sounds like a great calorie burner. No pharmacies. No semi-pro conjugal surrogates. Maybe some black tar temmple balls and the occasional snifter of raksi. But mostly good clean exhilirating fun complete with bragging rights. (and might be able to rip that maple leaf off my backpack by then).

Anyway, until it is decided for me which package best suits our budget, I've not much more to say about it. Stay tuned.

I received an amusing mass forwarded Email this morning, and like all mass forwarded Emails, I suspect I may be one of the last persons to have seen it. But just in case--here it t'is. A letter from the Blue states to the Red states.

"Dear Red States:

If you manage to steal this election too, we've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware, that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get Walmart. We get Harvard. You get L.S.U.

We get 85% of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs.

You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up after all, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80% of the country's fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92% of the nation's fresh fruit, 95% of America's quality wines, 90% of all cheese, 90% of the high tech industry, 95% of the corn and soybeans (thanks, Iowa!), most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92% of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the war, the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then us lefties. Finally, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gotta keep a hold on my sanity

Friday night I hit the boards again to sing a few tunes alone and then I'll be joined on stage by a couple of friends.

The tunes we're doing are druggy old hippy shit, some CSN and Y, Grateful Dead, Byrds, like that. I really don't mind druggy old hippy shit when I get to solo a lot using relatively simple scales that make me sound way more talented than I actually am.

But there has to be a balance in life, no? So I'm doing four by Ray Davies to wash the mellow out of my ears. "Stop Your Sobbing", "Apeman" "Twentieth Century Man" and "Victoria".

Davies was never a hippy. Long haired, beer guzzling smart ass, yes, free markets proponent, you bet, anti-labour, anti-socialist bootstrap programs--without a doubt. If he were an American, he'd probably have voted for Reagan. But I forgive him because he's so effing good.

"Stop Your Sobbing" is a satirical, ironical number--the central theme is "Enough already, I'll stick around only if you promise to shut the fuck up."

"Apeman" actually mocks sophisticated strict vegetarians and intellectual hippy types.

"20th Century Man" is dedicated to luddites everywhere.

"Victoria" doesn't so much lampoon British imperialism-it seems to me to be more a nostalgic anthem in favor of it--I mean "favour".

I wonder if the 30-something British crowd at the pub even knows who Ray Davies is? How could they not? If their parents reared them properly, they should have a surface knowledge of him.

This Youtube performance below kicks ass--I mean arse. I think I saw him on this tour in New Orleans yadda-yadda years ago when they opened with "You Really Got me", revamping it in a way that told Van Halen fans that this is how it's really supposed to be played, we're reclaiming it so piss off.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Four More Years (of telling taxi drivers I'm from Canada)

I crawled out of bed at 4:57 Friday morning (Thursday, 8:57 PM ET) to watch the VP debate, hoping to witness an historical gaffe or goof, a jaw dropping blunder of Biblical grandness--live, as it happens. I made sure my bladder was completely empty before going downstairs to sit in the dark with the TV on a low volume.

In November, 1963, when all TV programming was preempted for three days after Kennedy was shot, I watched with my father on a Saturday morning as Lee Harvey Oswald was being escorted from the jailhouse, and thought it boring. A little put off about my cartoons not airing, I left my father alone in the living room. I had to pee anyway. Climbing the stairs to the bathroom, I heard Dad holler, "Holy shit! Would you look at that!" Bang.
Ah fuck. I missed it. History.

In January, 1986, I sat drinking beer and smoking pot with my brother, channel surfing when he stopped clicking the remote to watch a space shuttle launch. Seen one, seen them all. I had to pee. From my brother's john I heard him yell out "Holy shit! Did you see that!" Boom.

Fuckity fuck.

What I was hoping for last Friday morning was to see "it" live, to have a cerebral orgasm as I witnessed live and in color a gimmicky political trick backfire, go kablam!.

I sat through 90 minutes waiting for the meltdown, for her to say it's so, it's true, to tell us that the world is only 6,000 years old, that Adam and Eve ran with dinosaurs, that in case of rapture, her car will not have a driver, that a final shoot out in the Middle East is a good thing because that's gonna bring back Jesus. Madam guvneh, would you define abomination for us? Sister Sarah, please do or say something so incredibly stupid that you could out-Bush Bush in the same heart beat you'll be away from the presidency. W
ould you show us your tits already?

Maybe there wasn't the instantaneous frozen in time "where were you when it happened" moment I'd hoped for, no gun shot in a parking garage or a great fire ball exploding against a sea blue sky, but it was still, for me, an historical, tragical holy shit, I can't believe my eyes moment nonetheless. A moment of epiphany anyway.

Y'know? Y'betcha by golly, I think the Republicans are going to pull it off.

I'm related to some exceedingly white people living in some exceedingly white suburban neighborhoods. They have a whole lot of friends. They certainly outnumber me and my ilk. They have watched their kids from the sidelines. They vote.

So Bang. Kaboom. Gotcha. Shit.

Want to see a blind kitten living in Sharjah?