Why didn’t anyone tell me about them?

Any questions?

Maybe I need a testosterone patch. I’ve heard that falling hormone levels make middle-aged men cranky. But 43 isn’t middle-aged, is it? I’m still so young! Maybe I just need a vacation. We’ll be in the Seattle and Portland area for a couple weeks starting next week, visiting the relatives. Maybe that will do the trick.

Until then, do any of you have any questions? I’ll answer anything, but reserve the right to be facetious. This occurred to me a couple days ago during an IM conversation with someone in France, that there’s a lot I never talk about, about daily life here. Like, Austrian drivers’ licenses are printed on pink card paper, folded several times, and never expire. So you get old people with pictures of themselves at 18 on their licenses. 18 used to be the minimum age for driving here; it’s since been lowered to 16 or 17, but you only get a restricted license until you’re 18, whatever a restricted license is. Also you are required to attend an expensive driving school in most cases; and cannot simply transfer your American license (at least not from most states; a few individual states have agreements with Austria, most don’t).

Today, though, I wanted to mention a reason for Americans to be glad they don’t live in Europe: Euro-shite. Euro-shite is the bad European pop music played on the radio here. Every country in Europe produces it, but a few small countries such as Holland, Sweden, France, and to an extent Italy seem to be the main offenders.

Euro-shite is distinct from that found in the British Islands, usually known as Brit-shite, and your regular shite heard in the United States, as well as other varieties such as Latino-shite and Global-shite aka Ethno-shite, not to mention Celtic-shite, etc etc.

It’s a pervasive and horrible music and I used to think the international success of Abba was to blame but the music is far older. It all started in the late 50’s or early 60’s when Europeans first adopted American pop music, or maybe earlier when they started playing jazz, who knows.

I will not link any of these guys ‘n gals or give a list of names, I refuse to concentrate on them for as long as that would require. Also I’m supposed to be working. It just really sucks, believe me. And if you don’t believe me – and of course you have no reason to – you’ll just have to come over here and listen for yourself.

Falco. Falco is maybe an example of a European pop singer who rose above Euro-shite. Just imagine really bad Falco. Or have someone send you a tape of the Euro-Vision Song Contest participants.

Anyway: send me questions.

The Accidental Stalker

    Billegible recently posted a couple interesting things about stalkers and molesters. They got a lot of comments so I thought I’d try it here.

It is summer here, and as I drove home it occurred to me that my eyes were scanning the sidewalks and crosswalks classifying the pedestrians into groups. According to some sort of Darwinian triage system, anyone identifiably male was exempted from further scrutiny after the first glance; females were then classified and it was not, “Intelligent/dumb” or “good sense of humor/no sense of humor”.

A man I know who was taking a lot of steroids during a bodybuilding phase told me that during that time, he would, when driving, look at each woman and think, “she fuckable? Fuckable? Mmm, fuckable?” So maybe it is a hormonal thing. His case was an extreme, I think, but maybe all males are like this to a certain degree.

I’m not saying I know. One thing, though, I think that whatever impulses a person has, they have them and they are natural and normal. Trying to be a “good person” and not have these impulses is pointless, I think now. You only end up castrating yourself, or otherwise denying parts of your personality that are there.

What matters, is whether or not, and how, you act on those impulses. Like, don’t grab women’s asses, dude. I asked Alpha if men had ever molested here. She said a lot. It was like, background noise. A week or so ago in Italy, someone pinched her ass and she turned around to slap him, and saw it was a toothless old man.

I was riding in a Tokyo subway at rushhour once, and counted 7 people squished up against me. High season for gropers, who are called “chikan” in Japanese. I made an effort not to grope people on the subway. I got groped once, but was unable to relax and enjoy it because I couldn’t tell who was doing it. Japanese women, at least when I was there, seemed to put up with it rather than make waves; foreign women – I heard lots of stories about “anyone know whose hand this is? I found it on my ass,” and women dragging chikan off to the police.

Stalking, though. My personal curse is unintentional stalking. That is, I find myself, quite often, going the same place as some Lone Woman who is walking in front of me. I have to turn left up ahead, she turns left before me. I have the choice of letting her think I’m following her, or taking a different route.

Once I was going to a music store in Vienna to look at a low whistle they had just gotten in. A woman got off the bus in front of me, and went everywhere I did. Left turn, right turn… I went around some trees in the park to get away from her, but she ended up in front of me again, and it looked as though I’d hurried around the trees to stay up with her. It turned out she was going to the music store, too. To look at the very same low whistle.

I ended up buying the whistle, but I swear to god, not because it had her spit on it. I saw her again too, at a whistle workshop. I felt bad.

Worst was a winter several years ago when I was walking with a pronounced limp because I had fallen on the ice and hurt my hip. I am not huge, but wrapped in an overcoat, wearing heavy boots and a thick layer of winter fat, I’m not small either. Every evening, in the dying light, walking to the train station from work, there they were: Lone Women walking to the train station too. Right in front of me. A little slower than I wanted to walk. Meaning I always caught up with them. But couldn’t pass them easily on the narrow sidewalks piled with snow. I tried everything in my efforts not to scare them – because, imagine a limping (i.e. Mad Hunchback) guy huffing and puffing behind you on a dark, deserted street – crossing the street to get away with them (because at first they were crossing the street to get away from me), taking different routes, anything I could think of. I couldn’t walk slower or I’d miss my train… But everywhere I went, there was another Lone Woman. I finally started taking the bus.

Bad Scrabble Hands

We’ve all been waiting for this: Bad Scrabble Hands.

[via jess]

New at Raising Hell

Drowning the kid.

Also: Raising Hell is looking for your hellish summer stories. Go look.

Mean streak a mile wide

We went for a walk. The kids were at their grandparents’ and we went for a walk through the fields surrounding the village. The sun was setting behind the coal-fired power plant, it was beautiful.

Alpha stopped me. “Ssh.” A bunny.

A little bunny by the side of the path hadn’t noticed us yet. This had happened the week before, too. Long eared skinny little guy noticed us at the last moment, ran off into the corn field.

But this one was different. He stuck around even after he noticed us. He looked different too.

“That’s no wild rabbit,” Alpha said.
“You’re right.” He was a fat, short-eared little domestic rabbit, running loose.
“Someone must’ve set him out,” she said.
I walked closer. I wanted to see how close I could get. I got within a yard of him. “Maybe we could take him home to play with the cats?” He looks as though he’d let me pick him up.
“Maybe he has rabies,” she said.
“Rabies – you know how they act weirdly friendly with rabies.”
“Rabies.” Rabies. I take a sloow step backwards.
“Or maybe they just let him loose because he was a biter. I just read about a rabbit biting someone.”
“Biting.” I take another step backwards. I stand up straight and return to my wife.
“Cute little guy, though.”