18 March 2010

Barfin' 2: Electric Booze-aloo

Burp. Upchuck. Burp. Flush.

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Ireland, everybody!

06 March 2010

Agnetha Brian Bjorn Ani-Frid

So I flew last weekend to London to meet up with Brian to celebrate his birthday. We had a pretty fantastic time. First night in town we went out and about, no real idea of where or what to do. We ended up in a sports pub then at a delicious curry restaurant. After that, we decided to try to pub crawl our way home, stopping at any places we found interesting. Not sure how we did it, but we walked for 35 minutes from Victoria Station in the direction of our hotel and couldn't find a single pub. We were in the land of rich houses, hotels, and embassies. Then, when we had almost completely given up hope, we saw a group of people smoking outside of a pub. We'll take it! Once inside, we realized that we were at karaoke night at a gay pub in Chelsea called The Queen's Head. Brian, maybe the world's most awesome person, was like, "Let's do it! I want a drink!" He didn't care that he was spending his first night listening to old British queers mangling Lady Gaga. He is such a good travel partner; if you get a chance to take a trip with Brian, do it.

Side note: Have I talked about Hen Parties yet? They're the European name for Bachelorette Parties, and the women go all out. Sometimes they dress thematically (Cowboy Night, 70s Night, Black & White Night) so it already plays to my love of mass public costume. But these bitches travel in hordes up and down the streets, jumping pub to pub, doing crazy dances and playing crazy games and just being all-around fantastic. I've become a little obsessed with them and whenever I see one at a pub I go nuts and try to not stalk the hens but it doesn't always work. Anyway, because I'm so fascinated with them, I end up talking about them fairly frequently and I like it when people get just as excited as me about them.

Well I saw this old fag hag with her table of queers and she struck me as someone who would be totally fabulous (I saw her get all sassy with someone holding the door open and letting a draft in). So, relying on my Dutch courage, I went over to her. "Can I ask you a question? What do you think of hen parties?" She gave me a cold stare and said, "What? Oh, hen parties? They came from America and are ruining England." I tried to let her know that I didn't know everything about them but that what I had seen and experienced they looked fun and silly. She replied, "No one had hen parties 20 years ago. Now they're everywhere. All these girls are complete trash." I had hoped she would be cuntabulous, but it turns out she was just a raging cunt.

First, no one in America even knows what hen parties are. So to claim that they came from America means that this bitch just heard my accent, and decided to throw that back at me. And, second, they are NOT ruining anything. That would be like saying Jell-o shots are ruining anything, or that fun is ruining anything. They may not be your cup of tea, but get over yourself. She even had her table of groupthink queens back her up on this. Any homosexual who doesn't like the idea of putting on a tiara and gloves and then running around town playing drinking games is just a bad gay.

As the pub is closing (yes, we closed down the bar) we stopped by a group of fags and hags smoking fags and I decided to try my luck again. I talked to them about hen parties and they were much more approving. And after chatting for a while, they even invited us back to their apartment for champagne and dancing to Michael Jackson CDs. It was a really fun group and they renewed my faith in British people (although I then found out that 2 were Irish, 1 was Scottish, and only one was actually from England). But our first night in the UK resulted in us getting home at 4:30am, which I hear is late for London.

The next day we went to... wait for it... wait for it... ABBAWORLD. Again, Brian is the best travel partner because very few other people would be into catering to my whims like this. And this was a big deal. The day I flew to London, the earthquake happened in Chile, and the day that I actually went to ABBAWORLD there was a huge aftershock. I am seismically connected to Abba. My love for them is tectonic. As my friend Michelle stated prior to me heading to London, "Tom going to ABBAWORLD will result in something similar to Ben moving the Island." It's basically an exaggerated museum with some glorified video game aspects (Sing along with hologram Abba! Make your own music video!) but it's also strangely glorious. I mean, it's impossible not to be happy when listening to 2 straight hours of Abba music.

My advice, if ABBAWORLD comes to your town (I'm looking at you Melbourne, Australia) then you should check it out. But make sure you have an insane love of Abba.

Other updates: My last day at work is March 19, but my company has kindly allowed me to stay in the apartment until March 31, so that's when I'm flying home. But this gives me some time off, so I figured I'd fill it with a vacation since I'll probably never have the opportunity to visit Europe from Europe. After much deliberation and investigation, but ultimately decided in the spur of the moment, I'm going to Prague for 5 days. I was checking out flights and in one hour the price dropped significantly and it said it was the last ticket available (who knows if that's even true) so now I get to go to the Czech Republic for $88 round trip. Say what?!?!!?

Anyone who has been there that has suggestions, send them my way! This is going to be my first time in a big city all by myself, and I do not speak Czech. It's going to be an adventure!

27 February 2010

On the wings of my dreams

Speaking of 80s sitcoms (someone, somewhere must be doing so at this very moment) yesterday at work I had been emailing back and forth with one of our supplier reps named Jonathan, and every time a new email came in, I did my best Micelli and said, "Jona-TIN! Sah-man-TA! Mo-NA!" None of my co-workers got it at all. They've never even heard of Who's the Boss? Isn't that kind of sad? If you do an impression of Tony Danza and no one there gets it, did you make a sound? The answer is yes, and it's embarrassing and everyone thinks you went temporarily insane.

Also yesterday, a co-worker said, "Isn't it sad that so many young celebrities are dying lately?" And I looked at her computer and she was reading about Andrew Koenig. I said, "Oh, yeah, Boner from Growing Pains!" A few people gave me odd looks and she was like, "Um, I guess?" (It was a good reminder to always be careful when shouting "boner" at work, no matter what the context.) So I clarified: "That guy, the one whose dad was on Star Trek that you're reading about, he was on a sitcom and his name was Boner. Have you ever seen that show?" And she just said, "No, but doesn't it feel like more and more celebrities are dying really early? Heath Ledger died, then Brittany Murphy, now him." I smiled, loving that Boner got equal billing with that company.

Oh, and the other night, I we went out with some people from work and were talking about our favorite drinks and of course that got me on the subject of champagne. And I mentioned that the best way to drink champagne is at a slumber party in your PJs watching episodes of Saved by the Bell. Blank stares. Europe just has no idea this show even exists. So now in edition to bringing the Electric Slide to Ireland, I know have to the whole gang from Bayside. I feel like I have my work cut out for me. Even St. Patrick only had to bring Christianity.

26 February 2010

Yi Yi

1 Thing I Like About Ireland: They edit American Idol's 2 hour shows down to about an hour. They get rid of half of the commercials (Ryan says, "We'll be right back" and then is immediately introducing the next singer!) they edit out all the instructions on voting and the annoying parts where the contestants hold up how many fingers it takes to vote for them, and they edit out all the clips of their journey so far. It's just the songs, and the judges' comments. It's exactly what everyone wishes American Idol would be.

1 Thing I Dislike About Ireland: My washer/dryer combo is not very good at the drying part. Don't get me wrong, the clothes aren't wet when it's done, but they're wrinkled as all get out. And I don't like ironing. But I have to iron practically everything that comes out of that bitch except for underwear and socks. Have you ever ironed jeans? It feels so wrong. It also doesn't help that I don't have an ironing board and have to iron on my glass kitchen table. But if that's the biggest dislike, then I'm in pretty good shape.

Time for bed. I've got to catch a plane to London tomorrow to celebrate Brian's 7 1/2 birthday.

21 February 2010

Rosey Rosey Red Red

So today I got creepy in Ireland using my weird ability to accidentally come across as a pedophile.

I haven't gone to a movie yet in Ireland, and today was a lazy day so I decided to go see Ponyo-- it was the closet start time of the movies I wanted to see. But it wasn't starting for 30 minutes so I figured I could run across the street and grab a sandwich. I went into the Subway and immediately heard children shrieking. Not a normal Subway sound. Before I even saw the bread choices, I saw a ball pit. There was a wall painted with Sponge Bob characters and a row of skeeball machines. There was an Agrocrag-esque structure with a sign above it stating "Space Kidz". Apparently this Subway is attached to Cosmo's Fun World. So I'm alone eating my sandwich in the middle of an Irish Chuck E Cheese feeling really awkward because due to the layout of the building the only thing to look at is either a wall or a playing child. I ate quickly and headed to the theatre.

This movie was, unsurprisingly, filled with children. Again, I'm the only person by myself, clearly here to watch children watch a morphing goldfish. As I walked up the stairs, one child looked at me and said, "Daddy?" And her mother said, "No no no" and sat the child in her lap. But during the moments when I wasn't self-conscious, the movie was quite good, especially the techno remix song by Bonus Jonas and Bonus Cyrus over the credits.


At least I wasn't actually accused of being a pedophile, nor did the police have to get involved. That only happens in the US when I accidentally wait for a friend to get home, parked across from her house which also happens to be an elementary school bus stop.

Meine handy

I'm watching the BAFTAs live. Weird. But I guess this will have to be my substitute since the Oscars are ultimately going to play at 1am on a school night for me.

I just wish Stephen Fry were hosting.


15 February 2010

Marcia Marcia Marcia!

I don't know what it is about the Electric Slide, but I recently came to the conclusion that it makes me immensely and inexplicably happy. Maybe it's because it's an easy dance that I know how to do and thus am not too embarrassed to perform in public. Maybe it's because in 3rd grade, my entire school (K-5) took weeks learning the dance during gym class and at the end of all that practicing we all did the Electric Slide together in the parking lot, and that was the first time I felt like I was a part of something important, something big. Whatever the reason, it's my jam sandwich and I love it.

I have also recently been having epiphanic moments of joy realizing how lucky I am to be in Ireland and what a great experience this is. Let's be honest, it's ridiculous how I got here and it's ridiculous that it happened to me. But I won't complain. I've already had some great visitors (shout outs to Sho and Christine for giving me 2 weeks of intense fun!) and at least one more lined up on the horizon (7 1/2 birthday party for Brian in London, holla!)

But now I want to combine these two joys. I want to do the Electric Slide in Ireland. I wonder if they even know that song over here? I need to ask some true Irish folk. If they don't, then this will be my one positive imperialist act: I will teach them, teach them, teach them, I'll teach them the Electric Slide (boogie woogie woogie).

Oh my god, I'm pumped just thinking about this. Is this the dumbest thing to ever get me excited?

07 February 2010

I don't wanna be friends

Tonight we were bar hopping and ended up at The Stage Door. This is the Galway gay bar, and as we entered we realized that the place was extra crowded because it was hosting the "30th" birthday party of a local drag queen, catered with sausages and chicken wings, and they were playing Alexandra Burke's "Broken Heels" (a super popular female empowerment dance single from the winner of the X Factor, basically, the UK version of "Single Ladies") and two guys had jumped on stage and were doing a choreographed dance to the song (they hadn't planned it in advance, the song is just so popular that they had both just independently memorized the dance moves from the music video). And as I watched this scene, all I could think was: Man, I wish Chrissie were here.

05 February 2010

Lightning Rounds

I am so good at Guess Who?! I think I went 5/5.

But Sho is much better than me at Connect Four. I don't know if I won a single game.

The Irish love the Dire Strait's song "Romeo and Juliet". It's played on the radio every day. I'm not joking. And I've heard it out at bars multiple times. I've been in Ireland now for 27 days, and I think I've heard this song at least 26 times. The only song they play more often is that stupid Owl City song "Fireflies" which gives "Drops of Jupiter" a run for its money in the worst lyrics ever department.

30 January 2010

€ = MC [ ]

QI is my new favorite TV show. Most of the shows that I have access to are these almost community access talent shows or, more commonly, tons of American syndicated shows. I have never seen so many Scrubs and King of Queens marathons in my life. So you can imagine why I would be thrilled to discover a show which is essentially a comedy discussion panel that covers trivia. It's hosted by the brilliant (both intellectually and comedically) Stephen Fry and has guests like Emma Thompson and Clive Anderson (yes, the host of Whose Line Is It Anyway?), as well as a ton of new favorite people of mine that I had never heard of before. I wish we had something like it in the US, but it would never be popular enough to last. I don't really have anything insightful to say about television or culture in relation to my new favorite show, but I will mention that you can watch clips of it on YouTube if you want to see what I'm talking about. It's good shit.

Now the other day I was weighing myself on an Irish scale, and there is nothing quite as discombobulating as seeing your weight in stones. For those who don't know (as I didn't before I asked) a stone is 14 pounds. So I stepped on this scale and freaked out, thinking that there was no gravity in Ireland or something. Once you get past that, it's pretty neat to see a working scale tell you that you weigh 1/14 of what you really do, like it's telling you your birth weight. But I feel bad that I still haven't wrapped my head around having an automatic computation of the different measurements here. I know that a kilo is 2.2 lbs, but I still have to stop and do the math when someone tells me a weight rather than having a quick general idea of what that converts to. Same with celsius and fahrenheit, and I always state that things here cost dollars instead of Euros (although I'm very aware of that conversion rate at all times). It's also sad because everything is metric over here, which makes more sense than anything we do in America, but of course the only time we ever use metric systems are in chemistry class. And I've given up trying to understand the nutritional data measurements on food out here. Oh well, I'll just come back to the US a few stones heavier.

24 January 2010

caps lock

So I experienced a few firsts last night.

1. I almost got denied entry into a pub in Ireland.
2. I puked for the first time in Ireland.
3. I met my first gay Irishman in Ireland.

In that order.

On Friday, my American roommate Julia went back to the US, so I'm officially alone in Ireland. Luckily, I have inherited one of her best friends that she made during her year here, Marie. Marie is a fun, out-going Irish lass who willingly accepted the challenge of entertaining me in Ireland (she says that she's going to make me her bitch, which I think is a fair trade). Last night she called me up and told me to meet her and some friends at the Skeff. Since I had spent all of my weekend so far either sleeping or cleaning, I figured it would be a good chance to get something fun in on the weekend. I scarfed down the better half of a pizza (due to an inadvertent 4 hour nap, I had only eaten a bowl of soup that day and knew I'd need more in my stomach if I were going to drink with Irish folk) and headed out.

I was unaware of the strict Irish dress code for weekends. You can wear practically anything you want during the work week, but on Friday and Saturday you need to get fancier. I walked up to the Skeff and the bouncer looked me over and stopped me. I thought he was going to ask me for ID and I was going to be pissed because I obviously didn't bring my passport out with me, but he just pointed to my shoes and said, "Hey buddy." I was confused and just said, "I'm sorry, what?" He heard my American accent and I think took pity on me and said, "Just remember to wear nicer shoes next week."

I got inside and met up with Marie and Co. I grabbed a Smithwicks but halfway through it I started feeling ill. I had no idea what was causing it. I had taken the Irish equivalent of a Benadryl before heading out, as well as that pizza I ate quite quickly, and thought that maybe one of those were having a bad reaction with the beer. My forehead got all sweaty and I excused myself to go outside for some air but before I got there I realized that, nope, I needed to barf instead. So I ran to the toilet and said goodbye to that pizza, allergy medication, and Smithwicks. I felt like such a tourist puking in a pub, especially since when I got out of the stall a bunch of dudes were staring at me like I was a baby who couldn't hold his pint. (I was even more a tourist than I realized because later while walking around Galway I noticed that most Irish don't puke in toilets, they puke on the sidewalk or on the sides of buildings, etc.)

We stayed at that bar for a while, and I got to realize that the Irish have inconsistent taste in music. For every ABBA or Madonna or Katrina and the Waves "Walking on Sunshine" they played, we also got the Macarena and Aqua's "Barbie Girl". Side Note I: I kept saying during "Walking on Sunshine" that they were a one-hit wonder, and Marie's boyfriend Mike kept saying that they had another big song. I just went and looked it up, and I realized that he must be talking about Katrina and the Waves 1997 Eurovision-winning song "Love Shine a Light" which explains why he would be familiar with it but not me. If you decide to YouTube this to hear it, the song isn't that great. I'd recommend checking out her 2008 Dance Remix version instead or the Xenomania Club Remix (it's so goofy!) Side Note II: Americans think that there are a ton of reality/talent shows on our stations, but it's seriously the only thing people watch out here. Today I watched about 20 minutes of The All Ireland Talent Show before having to change the channel because I realized that Ireland might not actually have any talent, and the next station up had Dancing on Ice (in the UK, they don't just make their stars dance, they make them dance on ice! It looks really dangerous.)

Since I had puked and rallied, I started asking Marie how everyone knew each other. She pointed to John and said that he used to work with her at a pub, and he knows Mary and Brian because his boyfriend goes to blah blah blah I didn't hear anything else because I was trying to figure out if I had heard her correctly say that John had a boyfriend and that maybe I had just encountered my first gay person in Ireland. I didn't push it because there is still a bit of a language barrier and I wasn't sure if maybe "boyfriend" is a term used differently over here, and I wasn't even completely sure I had heard her correctly so she might not have even said "boyfriend". I'm very particular with trying to listen for subtle clues in determining if someone is giving me information on someone else's sexuality. A similar thing happened when my mom was talking to me about my cousin and she said that a recent sad situation happened where Ronnie's partner died from a bad reaction to a medication. I knew that Ronnie was not in a law firm, and partner is a weird thing to call a girlfriend, so I assumed she was dropping a hint that he was gay but I had to wait another year before this conversation came up again and my mom explicitly stated that it was the man that he lived with and confirmed he was gay.

A group of us moved on to another pub later that night and Marie asked me what I fancied in the people out that night. I thought that Julia had told Marie I was gay, but now I was realizing that she probably hadn't, so I told her I fancied "your mans" over "your wans". She was like, "Oh, well we'll have to get you to hang out with John and Brian because they're both gay! In fact, they went to a gay bar when they left the Skeff!" Success! Confirmed! This is going to be extremely helpful because I think you really have to rely on other gay people in Ireland to find out what's happening in this town. When I first got here, I decided to use my powers of Internet to find out if there are any gay bars or gay ANYTHING in Galway, and I did not have much luck. Marie had warned me at one point a while ago that the Irish aren't all that technology-friendly-- she said she was the only person she knows with a Facebook account. Even if you look up restaurant websites, they're normally quite rudimentary. So it's not a surprise that when I had been investigating gay bars in Galway, all the links would take me to sites that hadn't been updated since 2006 or made reference to bars that hadn't existed in over 2 years. So I figured I'd just not really experience any Gay Gaelic. But now that might be changing. But if someone wants to make a Big Gay Tour Book for Ireland, there is a desperate need for it.

So that was my first big night out in Ireland without any American assistance! The rest of it was fairly standard-- left the pub, got drunk food (Supermac's was way too busy so we got Chinese food... I got fried rice, the rest of the people got fried rice and chips, which apparently come with EVERYTHING out here).

OK, I just got a weird whiff of cat urine in my bedroom, and I don't think that's a sign of a stroke so I'm going to have to look into what could be causing this.

Also, I'm sorry that I've been negligent on new posts. The road to an inconsistently updated blog is paved with good intentions, I assure you. I'll try to be better, or at least go out more so I have more fodder.

14 January 2010

11 January 2010

Green Week

Things In My Irish Apartment That Aren't In My US Apartment

* Washer/Dryer (in the same machine! The Irish are so efficient!)
* Microwave
* Dishwasher
* Cable TV
* A porch
* Gym (downstairs)
* My own bathroom (and when Julia leaves, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms to myself, whaaaaat!?!??!)
* A towel heater (a towel holder that is heated and provides you with a HOT towel to dry off with, whaaaaaaaat?!?!?!)

Things Ireland Doesn't Have That the US Does
* Tortilla chips and salsa that aren't Ranch flavored, which the Irish call "Cool" flavored (seriously, they get their entire idea of Mexican food from blue bags of Doritos)
* Blue and green food coloring

10 January 2010

Saving our planet is the thing to do

Day 2.

I was woken up in the middle of the night around 4:50am with a fire alarm going off. It kinda freaked me out. I thought it was just in our house, and as we hadn't been cooking anything in our sleep I was very confused (my powers of deduction were also not at their peak with the just-woken-up factor and the jet lag combo). Julia shouted from her room, "It's just the fire alarm, don't worry!" Unfortunately, I still worried. I wasn't sure if it was just our apartment that was experiencing it or the whole building, and if it was just our apartment then we were definitely waking up the neighbors and they would probably be breaking down our doors and stabbing us any moment. When it stopped (after I hit a bunch of buttons and twisting knobs on random things around the apartment that didn't do anything) I went back to bed. When I talked to Julia this morning, she said this happens anytime someone smokes in the parking garage. Silly Irish!

Our water was turned off today. It seems that the Irish have no idea how to handle temperature that goes below 0 degrees Celsius. It's cute, although not very hygienic. I guess they think their pipes will freeze if the water remains on (no one told them it's opposite). Luckily when we returned from grocery shopping they had turned it back on.

Google Maps for Ireland is not as intuitive as I had hoped.

I have purchased the materials for Princess Cupcakes. I was thinking about posting the pictures as soon as they've been created (you don't "make" Princess Cupcakes, you "create" them... did Michelangelo "make" the Sistine Chapel? Did Leonardo da Vinci "make" the Mona Lisa? Did Donatello "make" the David? Did Raphael "make" the School of Athens?) I brought my camera with me for this purpose, but then realized, the first item for a list that is sure to get much longer...

Things that Tom forgot to bring to Ireland
1. The cord that uploads pictures from my camera to my computer

C'est la vie. They're going to be pretty and you'll just have to accept that as fact without photographic evidence.

I met someone! Well, Julia met someone and I got to reap the benefits! On our way to the grocery store, a girl named Emily was jumping the fence with us (it saves 10 minutes on the walk to the store). We started chatting about the silly Irish turning off our water, and she asked us if we were Americans or Canadians. She's a Fulbright scholar over here studying and will be going back in a year to teach Irish-- the language!-- at a school in California. She spent the past summer on a farm in the north in a town that had like 450 people in it, where the community gets their water from a bog, and the town has one church, one post office and three pubs (plus lots of sheep). Her boyfriend lives here too, working for 3 months at a time to avoid having to get a visa. He apparently is from Boston (small world) and she invited us over for the Patriots game and to watch her introduce her Irish friends to queso dip. Julia and I will probably also try to use this opportunity to introduce the Irish to Princess Cupcakes.


So my goal for this blog is pretty simple. I want to make sure I'm documenting my time here and able to keep my buddies informed of what's going on (blogs serve the same purpose as mass emails but are at least knowingly and admittedly impersonal). However, I need to also make sure that I don't fall victim to updating this blog instead of actually experiencing Ireland. If I start to write a blog analyzing the different kinds of potatoes but haven't written about going to a pub in the past week, feel free to viciously judge me and shame me back into international alcoholism.

So I arrived in Shannon at around 7am this morning, and took a bus over to my new apartment in Galway. The ride was beautiful and treacherous. Ireland has been experiencing abnormally colder temperatures and typically wet weather, resulting in the entire country being covered in a practically cinematic hoar frost (or, as I like to call it, slut snow). As for the flight in, it was boring and uneventful (really Aer Lingus, the best you could offer me was The Ugly Truth and Fame?) but unfortunately not soporific and thus I didn't fall asleep until about noon (which would mean that I finally went to bed at around 7am Boston time). But I will make jet lag my bitch.

First day was a success-- got unpacked, settled, and napped. Also had a great dinner with my roomie-for-2-weeks Julia, which leads me to believe that I'll be eating more oysters in Ireland than I've ever done in the US... but this is good as I've always imagined that living in Europe would be saltier, slipperier, more muscley and zinc-filled than America. I of course also made my first beer here a Guinness, served to me by an Australian.

I want to also take this opportunity to remind everyone who might want to visit Ireland that YOU SHOULD. Especially while I'm here and you have a place to stay. Don't miss this opportunity, fools!

With that, I bid Americans a good afternoon and myself a good night. I need my rest for tomorrow I bring Princess Cupcakes to a new continent.