Thursday, November 18, 2010


Brovic - Blogging since 1903


KHUK KHAK, Thailand - A lot of days, you'll find me sitting on my ass, reading a book, or going over daily ops.

Happy day next door, as in, Myanmar, with Aung San Suu Kyi's freedom. A great day for humanity, not unlike the universal joy expressed at the release of Nelson Mandela. We'll see what happens next, Liu Xiaobo.

Interestingly, all those Nobel Prize winners were former or current political prisoners. Xiaobo in jail, and Obama, of course, who is still being held under House arrest.

You see where the boys at CERN, the guys with the 10 billion-dollar atom smasher, had a breakthrough creating an anti-matter atom? Why, hell, I can do that right here in my kitchen, at my place.

Hey. I'm looking at my money and the calendar, seeing how many days it is until next pay day, and thinking, 'Geeeeeeeee, that's going to be a stretch.'
That ever happen to you? More than once?

I've never forgotten the expression of Ben Corley, a basketball teammate with whom I was trying to hoop our ways to an undergraduate degree, and was riding to work at our 2nd shift shit summer jobs in the press room at General Tire & Rubber Co. in Wabash, Indiana, and one Sunday night, after being paid on Friday, Ben opened up his wallet and stared at it for the longest time before slowly saying in wonder, 'Where...did all my muhfuckinmoneygo?'

You ever ask yourself that question, maybe not in those words?

'Let's see...we went to the gas station...the garage sale...Mickey D's...and the bar.'

One of the Myanmar gardeners, the unreliable one, came by here today, holding out five baht, the equivalent of 20 cents, in his palm, no eat, he indicated, making a gesture of a spoon to his mouth and shaking his head, looking pitiful, pathetic, begging me for work.

I looked around. Some sweeping up leaves, I guess. I told him okay, sure.

Not today, he said. Tomorrow.


That incredibly self-absorbed person I was telling you about, the non-Thai, stopped by here to continue her story. While listening, I remembered to show her the shot of me in space, hanging onto the ISS, here on the blog.

"Here. I wanted to show you this," I said, turning the laptop toward her. "Iko Nakamura, Japanese guy, took the shot," I mumbled nonchalantly.

She took out her reading glasses and peered at the photo for a moment. "I just bought these today," she said. Putting the glasses back in their case, and the case to her purse, she continued with her story.



at what?

yeah, sure, the story went on to say the obvious, but that was my initial reaction to the headline.


Wouldn't You Say?

"How do you turn off the insects?"

"What do you mean, 'How do you turn off the insects?'? Everybody knows you can't turn off the insects. Please elaborate. You're being too vague."

"What about underwater?"

"What about underwater? Put the insects underwater?"

"No. Your head. What if you still hear the insects underwater?"

"Well, if you still hear them underwater, then they're probably...they're probably in your head. Wouldn't you say?"


Post-game Collegiate Football Radio Interview Pt.2

"I mean, you know, like, any team can, you know, way the ball bounce, I mean, like, hats off, you know, they, sometimes your way, you know, and sometimes, like, you know, go back out there, you know, I mean, any given day."

"Thanks, Coach."


Freedom & Feardom*

You flown lately? Prepare yourself for genuine sexual molestation. If it was you or me, doing this to someone we didn't know, we'd surely be facing criminal charges.

'Invasive' is the word being used. Highly invasive. I experienced the new enhanced groping procedures at a connection in Guangchou, China, where the young plastic-gloved girl ran her hand up my thighs to my crotch, causing me to exclaim in surprise, 'OHHHHHHHHHHH?' with a head-clearing shake of my head to full and maximum full-trottle alertness. Code red.

My spontaneous outcry caused everyone in the vicinity to pause and look. At that point, I wanted to ask her to remove her gloves and proceed, and maybe could we have dinner together.

It usually takes flowers, dinner, and sitting through a ballet performance to get a girl to go that far on the first encounter.

'Arousal' isn't the word. 'Publicly Violated' is more fitting. Like one humiliated passenger said, 'It would be considered sexual harassment if it was anybody but the government.'

How many terrorists are Americans? Why subject every single citizen to this treatment when one's citizens aren't the threat?
'For everyone's safety', we recognize and understand, but wait until you experience its humiliating public personal intrusion.

The Fourth Amendment reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Replace the 'i' with an 'e' in Rapiscan, the company that produces the X-ray body scan used at airports, and you have a more accurate description of its function. RAPE SCAN.


You seen where the prospect of having their retirement stretched out two additional years had the French in the streets? What're they at now, a three-day work week already? The corporate world has learned efficiency to the point of making your job unnecessary, an overall belt-tightening reaction around the world. A fully-staffed foreign news bureau is obsolete, replaced by the internet and 12-year old Naji with his cell phone, you and your apps.


Slipped the buddha around my neck for the first time, after being asked why I hadn't been wearing it, headed out the door, and hopped on the bike. At the entrance to the highway, I turned left toward the Cape Pakarang 7/11 instead of turning right to the Khuk Khak 'Seven', three kilometers closer, don't ask me why.

Just as I was leaving 7/11, a northbound motorcyclist had his transit interrupted by a truck entering the highway intersection from Cape Pakarang road. He slammed the truck with a resounding crash and went skidding diagonally across the road. I was the second guy immediately on the scene, the first man directing the heavy traffic.

The cyclist, a Thai guy, had a broken ankle, for sure, and a nasty open gash to the bone. Slight abrasions on the knees and hands. While an angel of a little Thai girl appeared and held his leg, I packed his wound with gauze and wrapped his ankle with an elastic roller bandage, then we held his leg elevated until the ambulance arrived. We could have used a splint to immobilize his leg, but under the circumstances, we just waited for the certified crew.

When they got there, I told the first guy who rushed up that the guy had a broken ankle, held the leg as he put on plastic gloves, then stepped back as he unwrapped the wound, looked at it, and immediately reapplied fresh bandages from his kit, and wrap it again with a new roller bandage. He just re-did what I did, re-opening the wound. I stood watching in silent bewilderment thinking, 'Load him up, man! He's good to go! GO!'

It was hot. I was soaked with perspiration, and disgusted. A crowd had gathered. Traffic backed up both ways. I gathered my small kit bag and slipped through the crowd to my bike, a cop now directing traffic snaking by the scene, another spray-painting an outline on the asphalt around the bike, the Thai emergency crew huddled over the injured man. A lady who had been standing there watching, looked up at me and smiled.


Shrinking Man

Last time I went in for a physical they measured my height at 6 feet. 'Can't be right,' I said. 'I'm six-foot, two.' We double-checked. Six feet.

Gee, the high school football roster, the college basketball lineup, the circus highwire poster, boot camp, all had me at six-foot, two. I used to b...

In the mirror, that guy's skin seems to be getting looser. Take time to stretch. Saltwater float in the Sea. Nowhere to go, but just be. The water was choppy, but good therapy.

Thinking of who we used to be reminded me of Lupe' on Pine Ridge, one day saying emphatically, 'I used to be...I was one of the...I was the BEST.'

Never mind about what he was the best at. Whatever he was doing at the time, he was the best. Same with you and me. Did I tell you I embarked upon the International Space Station, and ended up making shields? The best shields, and some of the worst.


Batfink got poisoned. That's what they said, she got poisoned. Batfink ('because her big ears make her look like a bat', said Damon, who named her) was a typical Thai dog that came around here looking for food, and to escape the Myanmar camp just up the road at that time. Medium-sized rat-like bitch, short hair, black as the ace of spades. Wouldn't let you lay a hand on her. Understood only Burmese. Ignored you if you spoke Thai or English.

Then she had pups, and that changed her whole attitude, and she became One Fine Dog, learned English, guarded the complex and did her job, along with Sugar ('Chu-gah'), her mother, who earlier, also got poisoned, they said.

Batfink, who you couldn't see in the dark, could scare the hell out of you, coming up on you silently from out of nowhere to nuzzle your hand, especially with those long pointed ears, long pointed nose, and yellow eyes that gave her the appearance of Satan's Helper, or something goosebump scary.

Now, Batfink's gone, and so is her daughter, Caramel, who come up missing three weeks ago after being on the scene here for two years. We all just shrug our shoulders, look off, eyes searching the road. Poisoned, I guess, since they're all road-wise. Nobody gets hit.

So now, there's just 'Gruffy', or, 'P. Thai', to the Thai, a black, wiry-haired guy with a white beard and great disposition. He's lying out my back door, having just eaten a whole fried chicken from the market, head, feet, and all. The whole ting.


'Let's go down to the bah,' said Damon in his heavy British accent. 'The band's playin' an' Claudia's singin'.' Couldn't say no to my bad boy motorcycle four-doors-down neighbor. He'd just fed me dinner. 'I'll go down for a coke,' I told myself.

'You can keep up with me,' he said, hopping on the yellow motorbike he's been riding since he sold his big bike for the cash.

'Ain't no way,' I told him.

'Yeahh you can,' he said laughing, zooming off.

He waited for me at the intersection to the highway, then we crossed over to the left side and headed south through Khuk Khak and Bang Niang to his bar halfway to Khao Lak, 14 kilometers away, Damon winding out the gears and leading the way like a bat out of hell, 'full bat'** at night, riding the center stripe and flying by people and passing cars, which only crazy or impatient people on motorcycles will attempt.

I backed off the throttle north of Bang Niang when I swung out to pass the three vehicles Damon had just gone around, and a guy coming the other way flashed his lights and swung out to pass a slower northbound vehicle. Both he and Damon stayed on their respective sides of the line, but the distance between their mirrors was close enough to hear a voice say, 'Old man, you're not in that big of hurry.'

And he's right, that guy inside my head who sometimes overrides the insects.

'Lead, follow, or get out of the way,' they say in the Marine Corps. The same is true on motorbikes.


*you can see this material is dated. However, note this was before the Thanksgiving uproar.

**everybody knows you never go full bat.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Here Now

Here Now

KHUK KHAK, Thailand – Hey, anybody can make a mistake. That’s what Saddam said. He came back from the dead to testify in defense of Tariq Aziz, his buddy till the end. Turns out, the current ruling clique don’t see him (Aziz) as innocent as the international community does, being the sort of folk who take revenge seriously, leveling upon him a death sentence.

Maybe you don’t care about that, or anybody else. Maybe we’re just merely attempting to advance and preserve our own interests, however twisted, convoluted, or direct our approach may be. What is your prime motivator? Perhaps Aziz, like everybody else, was simply trying to not be hungry. Remember the war?

Which one?

Sat at Don Muang airport in Bangkok, the 3 p.m. departure to Phuket delayed until 20:50, said the status monitor behind the three frustrated girls behind the counter, trying to address the three-deep throng impatiently demanding what was going on. They (‘One-Two-Go’ Airline’) didn’t have a plane for us at the moment, they said.

One-Two-Go. They’ve changed the name to ‘A…uh…something ‘Thai’…and right now, I can’t for the life of me, remember the name of the carrier*, but they’re still the same people who had a crew attempt the short-field runway and run off into the sea, and worse, tried landing in a super bad rainstorm and crashed, with some of the survivors staggering away from the craft on fire, one’s worst nightmare when flying, except maybe having some kind of failure over the ocean.

I try not to think of that shit, but you can’t help it, especially when you know already you’re with some kind of fly-by-night operation who offer really really cheap seats. I’d change the name, too, wouldn’t you, after a couple of spectacular disasters, both of which were human judgment errors? But anybody can make a mistake.

I always ask for an exit row, that way I can be the first guy off the plane. You’re supposed to perform some kind of heroic your-fate-is-in-my-hands scenario by reading the card in advance and acknowledge your understanding of your duties to the flight attendant, and if need be, remove the door, stash it in the row in front or behind, up to you, then exit, and assist other passengers in de-planing.

There’s more legroom on the exit row. Everybody knows that.

Partly to escape that Thai airport cop’s incessant whistle, and trying to burn five more hours at the airport, after already showing up two hours early as they demand, I re-traced my route back through security and across the street to the designated smoking area and sat for a half hour or so with a couple of Thai guys and the Ethiopian women’s 400-meter relay team, pretty much absorbed in awe of the people you see in a city of 12 million people, and what kind of condition my place would be after six months absence.** Only ran across four beggars in three days. Two crippled guys and a couple of old ladies. Out of 12 million people, that’s not many asking you for spare change.

Not much else to say about that, except the dollar has depreciated noticeably against all foreign currencies. Over here, everybody is working.

I say ‘over here’, because some of you thought I was here already, but I wasn’t. I was still home, home on the rez, but now I’m not there, I’m here now. Same as you. We’re always ‘here’, aren’t we? Unless we’re somewhere else.

Did I tell you about ‘It’s Me’, my radio program?

The lady was apparently trying to impress me, when during the course of conversation, I’d mentioned skiing, and she raised her eyebrows, looked away and said she’d skied ‘Mt. St. Something Or Other’, in France. To ‘over’ on her, I said I’d been aboard the International Space Station.

“In France?” she asked.

“In space,” I replied. “You can check it out on my blog.”

Registering absolutely no surprise or other impression, she continued with her story. I expected some sort of reaction, like, “WHAT?”, or “Really?”, or “Oh? As a scientist or teacher or billionaire space tourist?” or “You liar,” but she just continued with her story.


*now, I remember; ‘Orient-Thai’

** apart from the typical scum, mold and gecko shit, the only other remarkable thing was finding the skin of a snake across the shoulders of a hanging shirt. Unsettling to say the least. Yeah, no shit. I was wondering the same thing.

Good thing was, the garden is glorious, the six-year palms over the roof. A particularly extended wet season, they say, here, while Indonesia is getting hammered, first by an earthquake, then a tsunami, and now, a volcano. You want to go?

In response to a break-in three years ago, during which the thieves removed all the copper wiring and fixed themselves some of my noodle soup, I made the place here impenetrable. I’ve got the keys, and I couldn’t even get in. Had to do some climbing and squeezing and falling from about six feet, busting my ass in the process. Then the interior door disintegrated in my hands from a termite infestation.

Turned out, the one key I didn’t try was the one that opened the burglar-proof iron gate, I found out after I had already busted my ass in the fall. What’s a guy supposed to think of himself after some shit like that? Manas told me I was too old to be climbing around.

Well, it feels good to be back, just like it does when I’m there, and not here. It feels good to be anywhere.


Pine Ridge, SD

Slim Buttes – Meant to tell you about the radio show. It’s hosted by me, out of my place here, doing all manner of innovative against-the-brain irreverence atypical of contemporary broadcasting formats, working in a few comedy sketches, poetry readings, music from Africa and the Caucasus, self-promotion, wise-cracking, and functioning essentially as a pirate station, broadcasting at 50,000 watts.

Fifty? Yeahhhh. They say on a clear night, they can pick me up in Nashville.

Did I say ‘against the brain?’ My bad. Freudian slip. I meant to say, ‘against the GRAIN.’ Although I never use my name, given name or stage name, you’d know it’s me. That’s how I identify myself on the air, like someone at the door, or over the phone; “It’s me.”

Oh. Almost forgot. KNRBbbbbandit, somewhere around 610 or fifteen on the am dial, give or take a couple frequencies. Sometimes you may find me up around 1650…nearly off the band at both ends.

Friday nights, nine eleven to 1 a.m., give or take a half hour, depending on how quickly I may need to shut down and close up shop. With that kind of transmitting power, I can override most stations, so you should be easily able to pick up the show. If they ever triangulate my position, I’m dead meat.

You wonder where all the oil went? Me, too, there for a while. Then we got shifted over to miners in Chile and election stuff, and forgot alllllll about that oil. What did they say? Vaporated? WHAT? Yes. Magical, magical. Poof. It’s gone.

‘Annnd now…we’ve got 31 guys trapped a mile undergroun, my friends…’

That sort of trapped-in-a-mine shit happens like clockwork in China, alllll the time, and nobody cares, except the families. In fact, it did. They had a cave-in at the same time, the guys over there, speaking Chinese of course, asking the world, fixated at the moment on Chile, ‘Hey, you guys. What about us?’

Well, they’re all out now. The Chileans. I don’t know about the Chinese guys. You hear anything?


The ‘Fly The Rez’ kite contest was a fabulous success, held here on the grounds, and I can’t describe how much fun it was. We had ‘altitude’, ‘duration’, and ‘last man standing’ categories, and I won all the events.

I arranged a small harness for my opponent, the white cat,* Oscar, Chester, Casper, whatever he said his name was, that appeared here a few weeks back, but the apparatus proved to be unmanageable, with the cat invariably getting all tangled up in the string or freaking out every time the kite would lift it off the ground and carry it a few yards away, so most of the events went to me by default since there were no other contestants.

One of the highlights of the contest was duct-taping the mice into a tri-plane (as you may imagine, the cat was going absolutely nuts during this procedure) and sending them up, suspended from the kites, setting new altitude records for the 335th (Slim Buttes 335th Aviation Squadron)**, but after a couple of the pilots extricated themselves from the cockpit and fell to their deaths (no parachutes. we’re 100% legitimate, rudder to prop), we discontinued the exercise.

I didn’t witness the deaths. They were too far away and up too high. When we brought the kites in and looked into the planes, they, the mice, were gone. You can see the excited smiles fading into disappointment on the faces of me and the cat.


Ohhhhhhhh yeah, the Goldilocks Planet. Sure. How many light years? Like we’ve got someplace else to go now? Stop. Say no more.

You see the sequel? Why do they make them? You ever see a sequel that was better than the first?

Uh. ‘Fly – The Sequel’***


Why don’t people like Buddhists? Working from partial notes here; aren’t all notes partial? That’s like all those referees turning on their mics and saying, ‘After further review…’ They reviewed it, then they reviewed the review. Wasn’t the first review the review? After further review of my notes...

With all the Islamophobia floating around, someone conducted a study, you saw, on toleration in America, or lack thereof. Turns out, Americans like atheists, agnostics, Mormons and snake handlers before they like Buddhists.

Geeeee. What’s that say about us? What do they, the Buddhists, stand for? Awakening? Compassion? They wearing dynamite vests? Goes against our aggressive American grain, that compassion talk, not to mention Biblical scholarship. It’s against the spirit of gun laws, except in places nearly like San Franciso and Boulder, Colorado, of which there are none, where citizenship is defined by ownership of two bandana-wearing dogs and at least one strand of Tibetan prayer flags.

I don’t get it. We’d prefer a godless neighbor, or that person who just isn’t sure, over that guy who just sits there, doing nothing.

Smile on his face.

What’s he up to?

It’s so damned dark in here by candlelight, I can’t see my notes. Partial notes.

Here’s a bumper sticker T-shirt idea:

‘Shit Happens - as a result of prior shit happening’

There are a number of things you don’t have when you don’t have electricity, I noticed.

You don’t have:

electrical shock
electrical short circuit
electrical problems
electrical bill
electrical light
ice cubes.

What happens when you’ve used up all your words and ideas to the point where what you’re saying sounds like the shit you’ve already said? Did old man Macbeth run into that? Man on the radio proudly said he’d (not Macbeth. The guy) written 117 books. Now, that’s cranking, isn’t it?


As I was headed south across the Nebraska panhandle toward Cheyenne, I come up over a hill and holy smokes, there’s not one, but two State cops pulled over, lights flashing.

Just off the road, with the help of one of the cops, two guys were struggling to offload a huge bull elk, massive rack, obviously dead, from a pickup truck, over the barbed wire fence, and into another pickup on this side of the fence. I wondered if the animal had been poached, since the cops were there, lights flashing.

Putting my pipe out of ‘plain sight’, I braked and pulled over and stepped from my truck. Hitching up my belt as I approached the four men, I affected the puffed up manner of someone in authority.

“What’s going on here?” I demanded.

The young cop standing in the back of the pickup with blood and elk hair on his hands began, “We’re trying to ge…” before being stopped with a hand check by the clean, older, serious cop on my side of the fence.

“Who are you?” he asked, suspiciously eyeing first me and then my truck.

“I’m Colonel Brovvik, commander of the Slim Buttes 335th Tactical Squadron,” I said with a gruff, authoritative indignation, fully prepared to explain myself further, if necessary.

“Colonel WHO?” He didn’t buy it. Not for a minute. I was wearing sandals.

“I advise you to return to your vehicle, Sir,” he said, ‘overing’ on me in a serious tone that suggested little patience for interference with official in-the-line-of-duty Nebraska State cop business. I would either have to bluff, fold, or play it half way. There was no way I could prove my command of the 335th.

“Is there a crime here?” I asked. “Who shot the elk?”

“I got him,” said one of the men proudly, which told me the whole story. No crime, with the clean cop advising me again to return to my vehicle.

“Thought you guys might need some help,” I said, walking away. At least three of them must have thought so, too, judging by the size of the elk; six, maybe eight hundred pounds, and could have had the assistance were it not for Officer Clean. All the way to the Wyoming border, I expected him to roar up in my rearview mirror, chasing a fishy story.


No Problems Anymore – Just ‘Issues’

Have you noticed, or is it just another overused word? Nobody has ‘problems’ anymore, just issues. On the radio, I hear guys talking about car repair issues, lower back issues, issues in the defensive secondary, immigration issues, NASCAR pit stop crew issues, health issues, firearms and concealed weapons issues, eye ear nose and throat issues, deer hunting issues, jogging issues, and Johnny Cash’s daughter’s growing up issues. It sure is comforting to know people aren’t having problems anymore.

Other really overused words:

‘ExACTly’ - Used in response as an affirmation. Replaces ‘You’re right’, ‘You can say that again’, ‘uh huh’, ‘For real’, ‘preCISEly’, ‘Fucking aye’, and ‘Yes’.

‘Actually’ - Heard it used more than a dozen times in each of three separate ten minute interviews; a political commentator, a UFO researcher, and a seventh grade girl scout. Please stop.

‘I held my nose/I closed my eyes/I took a drink’****

- end

*showed up here hungrier than hell, looking like someone had tossed him out onto the gravel road at 50 mph. A white male, one blue eye, one yellow with a cataract . Who needs a cat with cataracts? “I don’t have no cat food,” I told it. “I don’t even like cats.” Looked up in the cupboards. “All’s I got’s this tuna,” I told it, opening the tin. When the smell hit him, he looked like he’d been hit with electric shock, eyes stricken with surprise, like in a Tom and Jerry cartoon.


**Fly – The Sequel
In this case, the sequel is expected to outperform the original. Did you see it? I don't know how much to give away here, and could allow you to await its release in theaters, but the gist of it is me as fly ninja assassin, the best in the world, with scenes of me giving lectures and swatter demonstrations - to a class of cadets, a round table of Chinese businessmen, Larry King, Oprah, a parenting class of 6 mo.-olds (a mother proudly exclaiming, "He's so gifted!" of her fly-swatting child), promoting the book on the Today Show, and so on, technical stuff like backhand, ceiling slap, long-range detection, recognition and interdiction...looking for a way to tie it all together, and another way to end it, and another way to make it appealing to a large audience who wouldn't instantly think the producers were insane. Who would've thought Planet of the Apes would have taken off the way it did?*****

***renamed ‘Slim Buttes 335th Tactical Squadron’

****‘Love Potion #9’. If you know the rest of the words, you have my deepest sympathy.

*****"You've given this a lot of thought, haven't you?" said Louie in surprise when I ran the idea by him. I reminded him that I'd witnessed him talking to them, he had two swatters, right there on the table, and the reasons why we hate them; they eat shit, ok? They're cannibalistic and necrophiliacs, Jeffrey Dommers of the insect world. They make maggots. They like to land on your food without washing their hands, especially after eating shit, and they like to wake you up by going up your nose, to list a few. Bo knows. Those guys live in a trailer. He knows what it's like to wake up swinging out of a dead slumber. Bolt upright out of a deep delta rhythm sleep, cursing and swinging at the air, maybe slapping himself in the face. Even my dad, a truly peaceful man, hated flies. He's the one who got me started. You get hit and land dead in the gutter, who's the first to show up? Cop? Ambulance? Bystander? No.