Proctor, Vermont: Flooded Quarries and Forbidden Castles

April 16, 2021. Proctor, Vermont.
Soundtrack: Wind Rose – Diggy Diggy Hole

Vermont is peopled, not with people, but with quarries. You can’t spit without hitting one, and the rare few that are not still in operation because they, what, ran out of rocks? – have gone on to be repurposed into subterranean ice skating rinks and swimming holes, the use of which are deeply, deeply illegal.

Fortunately, the police are (arguably) people, and you can’t be arrested if there’s no one around to arrest you. Which, there isn’t. The entire state is an arboreal wasteland.

“Beefton!” I said. “Do not leap into the quarry!”

“I tire of this life!” Beefton called back over his rippling, comically oversized deltoid. “The time has come for the next great adventure!

We were shouting because there was some kind of bird going absolutely bananas up along the wall in what had to be the most obnoxious, least effective mating display I’d ever seen. And I spent a good deal of time at the West Chester Landmark.

If anyone knows what this loser bird is, leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail. It haunts me to this day.

My attorney approached the ledge again, heaved in a breath, steadied his nerves.

“Farewell, Bastard. Witch. I’ll never forget all you’ve taught me.”

It was at that point he recognized that the quarry was full of water, and he resolved to live another day. Beefton is highly avoidant of swimming, and if a light drizzle wets his fur he goes frothing mad and barrels through the house as fast as his densely packed, efficient little body will go, smashing into every available surface.

There are times I’m thankful he’s more pitbull than labrador, and most of those times are when we’re near a body of water in 40 degree weather. Do you think purebred a chocolate lab would hesitate, for even an instant? There might be ducks in there.

We loaded back into the wagon and resumed our traversal of the woodland wasteland, hoping to find somewhere to eat. In our travels, the universe provided me with a gift to ensure that my conduct was right and in accordance with my destiny.

Astoundingly, the giant gorilla dumbbell shoulder pressing a car was not on Atlas Obscura, but Wilson’s Castle was. Wilson’s Castle was also closed off to the public under penalty of law.

Not very defensible,I decided. Minimal ramparts, no murder holes to speak of. There’s tactical value in the elevation, but you just couldn’t muster a sufficient force of archers on that balcony to deter an invading force. Especially with the ground-level windows!

Disgusted at the misleading designation of this large, butt-ugly house, as well as at the Orwellian hellworld we occupy that forbade me from getting closer to pass still more cutting judgment on its strategic worthlessness, we wheeled the wagon around, returned my legal representation to the humper haunted airbnb, and drifted into Rutland proper, whereupon I learned what risotto is.

It’s this.

Outside the restaurant, I found an excellent mural of a peregrine falcon. Since a fungal encounter with a falcon in the dead of winter in my picaresque early twenties, I take raptors as universal signposts from Athena assuring me that I’m on the right track.

“Okay,” I told her. “I’ll learn a risotto recipe.”

Love,

B.

Postcard from the Fringe: Maze of Darkness

The Maze of Darkness, a classic from my initial transatlantic jaunt. Home to ghosts, wax demons, and Vlad the Impaler.

Obviously, this blog is anonymous, but we were fortunate enough to find this handsome Irish stallion to play the role of your humble narrator.

Let me know what you think. Or let Mr. Death know what you think. I imagine we’re about equally interested.

Love,
BT

The New Hotness: Postcards from the Fringe

Your boy is branching out from book reviews and Bourdainposting to break into the virgin market of théâtre.

Bastard Travel is collaborating with Death Science, the pet project of a bone sculptor and close personal friend of mine named Mr. Death. No, really. We were in a band together.

Select adventures are going to be filmed in spooky campfire story format and hosted on Death Science TV. The segment will be called “Postcards from the Fringe”, as they absolutely are.

I’ll add them as they go up, or you can track them and other mortality-themed infotainment straight the source at www.deathscience.tv

Love,
BT

London: The Broken Clock

September 26, 2019. London, England.
Soundtrack: Ghost – Monstrance Clock

Fortified by fine English porter, I leapt majestically over a puddle and then diverted my attention to another gaudily overwrought imperial legislation building. Despite my incredible agility, catlike poise, and natural grace, this led to me not looking where I was going, and I tripped on a loose cobblestone.

Just a little stumble. Not even a tumble! I never lost my footing due to the aforementioned podracer reflexes, even GABA inhibited as I was.

Still, this temporary loss of face was enough to send a couple of fancy lads behind me into screaming hysterics. Real middle school hours, right in their mid twenties! Could this be hooliganism?

I whirled on them, equilibrium restored.

“Hey,” I said. “Where’s the big clock at?”

“Wot?” one said, in the same voice and tone I use for peasants in D&D.

“The big clock?” the other asked. “You mean Big Ben?”

“Unless there’s another one.”

“Right there,” one pointed. We were mates now. “It’s under construction, though.”

“Cheers,” I said.

I turned the corner and gazed upon the legendary Big Clock, the iconic building that serves as Britain’s biggest tourism draw.

My laughter was perhaps a little mean-spirited.

I stood on the bridge over the Thames and looked at the big broken clock. I admit to being mildly raucous. Raucous enough for a local to overcome the nation’s stereotypical self-reservation.

“It is what it is,” she told me without slowing her pace. “Whole country’s under construction, innit?”

“So I see!”

(The words you can’t make out are “scenic vista of the mighty Thames”).

I also checked out a big ferris wheel which, I was told, is also a big draw to London. I’d never heard of the big ferris wall until I was in the city and Google Maps told me it was a landmark. I guess it’s been pushed up to number 1.

Just messing with you. We all know there’s only the one reason to go to London.

I was well and fully cashed on this particular city. The Mayflower was making more sense by the second. I got one last eyeful along the river and headed back to my hostel.

Love,

B.

Madrid: Hangin’ in There

November 1, 2017. Madrid, Spain.

I think I was so enchanted by Barcelona because it was such a cosmopolitan cultural hub. Walking down the street, you’d find eight different kinds of food in the same block and people speaking as many different languages.

Madrid is different. There’s not a lot of culture to see here. There’s a handful of museums (pic related), but nothing really novel, nothing that you’d go out of your way to hunt down unless you’re on a school field trip. For the record, the line to get into the Prada museum seemed to be comprised mostly of school field trips, and it wrapped around the block. I’ve been going to coffee shops to write every morning; this morning, I had to resort to a Starbucks because Spain doesn’t open until 10 AM.

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This is breakfast, in a bare minimum kind of way. Dasayuno mediterraneano, which is some bread, olive oil, tomatoes fresh out of the blender, and salt. Bone apple teeth.

The statuary seems likewise confused as to why I opted to spend four days here. I tried assuring them it was for proximity to airport and affordability of tickets, but they weren’t convinced.

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After a week in Spain, I finally got my hands on some paella. The hostess assured me it fed a minimum of 2 people, and I assured her “Nuh-uh”. It turned out, I was right. It wasn’t bad, but it was a pound of buttered rice with seafood and chicken bones in it. I feel like the travel writers (including this dude) might have overhyped this one.

The fact of the matter is, the Spanish economy is not doing so hot. That’s why everything costs at least $5 more than it does in the real world and probably why the inhabitants seem to subsist entirely on tapas. It’s not a problem in and of itself, but you can see it in the infrastructure, and how everybody is always coming at me with little grabby-hands, begging and demanding and pan-handling and whoring. I can’t stand grabby-hands.

Rome in 2 days. Staying the course. Gonna try to get belligerently drunk tonight, that oughta get things a little more mezclado. Silver lining, I’m getting plenty of Spanish practice. I think if I got a job where I needed to use it, I’d be fluent inside of a month. My working vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds each day. Hopefully I can skive the same deal with my strictly literary knowledge of Italian once I get to Rome in 2 days.

I also bailed out of the worst hostel in Europe that doesn’t kill you and into a much nicer place called SafeStay Madrid, which is, by the fact they need to put “safe” in the name, somewhat ominous. It’s a huge, clean, pleasant place, though. Hot water and everything! They’ve also got a giant movie room where I spent most of yesterday marathoning Stranger Things. I still can’t believe Sam Gamgee is shacking up with Winona Ryder.

Love,

The Bastard

 

Madrid: A Bastard’s Intermission

October 31, 2017. Madrid, Spain.

WoOoOoOo lads! What kind of spooky things are you doing this Halloween? I’m trying to survive in Madrid.

First, let me say of the 8 hour train ride that got me here: Beautiful, but never again. The Spanish countryside is incredible for the first three hours or so. Then it’s a bunch of gorgeous bullshit Don Quixote hills. Here are other things I have learned they don’t have on the Spanish supertrains: Potable water, electrical outlets, Wi-Fi. My laptop died, then my phone almost died, so I looked at a hell of a lot of landscape. Bring a friend and a bottle if you’re doing that for more than 3 hours. And maybe some Windex, either for the window or for the chaser after hour 6.

We started to slow for our final stop and it was… just… slums. Not the classy, romantic kind out in the country with the drying lines hung out the orange-tan windows and the children jugando el futbol out on the rolling hills. The kind where you’re like, “Oh! I can buy crack here!”

The train slowed to a stop for upwards of 20 minutes, somehow. It’s on a track, fam. Not a huge margin for error here. When we finally pulled into the station, it turned out to be 4 miles outside of center city, which was an especially sharp twist of the knife because typical proximity to center city of large metropolitan areas is the reason I went by fucking train.

Wi-Fi in Spain is like water in the desert, and it was in the Madrid train station that I learned Barcelona wasn’t just the country’s economic oasis. I tried to download a map to my phone and it took a half hour. I ate a bocadillo that cost around $1.50 more than any of the better ones Catalonia-side, then hopped a bus to the heart of Madrid.

It looked less like the setting of an inspirational movie where a free-spirited teacher helps a bunch of at-risk youth learn to enjoy school and find themselves through the power of dance, but not much. Since Wi-Fi is impossible, I walked to a hostel that was full up, so I had to crouch outside a Starbucks and steal their internet in order to book one called Motion Hostel, outside of a classy restaurant where an old dude was playing My Heart Will Go On violin-style and killin’ it.

The place was a 9-story disaster with an elevator that only ran up to the 6th floor, broken doorknobs, weird pleather mattresses, and no hot water. The guy at the desk was kind of a dick. The Wi-Fi login seemed to be a Ponzi scheme; you give it your e-mail and they give you 15 minutes free browsing time to go confirm it, then they’ll send you a username and password to log into the Wi-Fi. Instead, they gave me 15 minutes, sent me nothing, then sent me 3 different confirmations, none of which logged me in. Then the entire internet disappeared. Poof.

So, I was destined to spend Mischief Night like the pioneers. All righty. I did that the first ten years of my life, no big deal. I went out into the streets to find soap, which was easy, and food, which was hard. Everyone was selling food but they had priced it at twice its actual value because the Spanish economy is sunk. The beggars are aggressive, flailing and pointing at you as you pass like proselytizers.

In the center of one of the largest plazas, a stout, punkish-looking girl flagged me down. We made Spanish smalltalk until my Spanish failed, and then she asked, “English?” in what sounded like a Russian accent.

“God, yes,” I said.

“Sex?” she asked.

Select any three-second close up of Martin Freeman from any of the hobbit movies, and that was the iteration of faces I made.

Disculpe?” I said, because I say that a real lot out here.

“I have a place not far from here. It is 35 euros for 20 minutes. You come?”

I told her I appreciated the offer, but I was all right. As I walked away she asked, “We go?”, but no, we do not. Later, on a much darker and more abandoned corner, a slight man in a collared shirt offered me business cards with mostly naked women and comparable price tags printed on them.

I guess not all of Spain’s economy is in shambles.

Truth told, I was kind of offended. I’m a strapping young man! I’m in the prime of my life, give or take a decade. Yeah, the glue factory’s definitely on the horizon, but I’m not there yet. This isn’t a damn pay-to-play situation! POEMS have been WRITTEN-

No, forget it. Listen, I don’t know how regularly I’ll get to post from this Wi-Fi wasteland. Maybe I’ll have better luck at the next hostel. If so, I’ll update you then.

Del yermo con amor,

The Bastard

 

Barcelona: Círculo del Arte

October 26, 2017. Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. 

The first Arte you gotta know about was the magnificence you’re gonna encounter as you make your way through the cramped pigeon warrens that surround the Gothic quarter.

Simply breathtaking.

Hold on. Do you know about bocadillos? We should talk about bocadillos.

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They’re this European miracle where you give someone like $3 and they give you a baguette jammed full of… something. In this case it was tuna. Since discovering them, I’ve eaten almost nothing else. The chorizo one was incredible, but I had a hot one full of garlic sauce, onions, and chicken breast called a “pollastre” that changed my life.

So, eat your bocadillo, then try not to get divebombed by pigeons. If you’re lucky, on your way to the Picasso Museum, you might happen upon the skeevy back alley that leads into the Museo Europeano de Arte Moderno (MEAM), or as I like to call it, the Font of Madness.

The museum was empty, which is to be expected considering the platform 9 3/4 situation you had to go through to find the entrance. I was going to pass by, but there was really no ignoring the creepy bondage poster.

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$8 with the student discount. That’s like two bocadillas! Which is like half a hostel! Totally unreasonable, but I was in too deep to turn back now.

TWO DISCLAIMERS: I’m not sure what the rules are on posting pictures of museum exhibits in public, and I couldn’t find them online. If I’m stepping on toes, I’ll take them down. If I’m advertising… you’re welcome, I guess? Either way, they belong to their artists and the museum, all rights reserved, etc.

Also, there’s gonna be a lot of naked ladies and death imagery ahead. I’m not sure if how much of both I saw says more about the museum or about me.

semillas

This was the first one that really shook me. It’s called Semillas (seeds) by Tenaya Sims. Attached to the card is a somewhat dissonant story about when the artist was a child, he accidentally lit a ballpoint pen on fire, then spilled the burning ink onto the ground and tried to stamp it out, which just spread it around. He said that’s what inspired this. I guess art is mostly in the interpretation, because this painting gave me genuine pause. Towering over me, wreathed in burning debris, what I saw was the goddess that brought down the sky.

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The card said something about growth and propagation in this one, but I saw a whole lot of carcasses going on.

This was called Laura, I can’t find the artist but I wish I could. The realism was stunning. I really thought she was going to start smirking while I gawped up at the detail in the face, in the individual eyelashes, murmuring “shiiiiiiiiit”.

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This one from Miki Chart stands on its own, but it becomes truly devastating with the explanation card. Forgive my paraphrase, but it was something to the effect of:

“Here’s we have a mandolin, a traditional instrument that very few people play in this day in age. Atop it we see a canary. Though we may have forgotten the melody, it has not, and it is by its echoed song that it’s kept alive. It’s a reflection on importance of remembering the past.”

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I’m working on a fantasy novel, and I wrote almost this exact scene the day before I saw this painting. The dress was a different color, it was only one guard, and the presence of death was more an implication than Death the Physical Dude, but otherwise, identical to what’s going on here. Same girl, same build, same eyes, same season, same dagger. That, I assure you, is a jarring experience.

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You don’t realize how surreal this one is at first. At least, I didn’t. The longer I looked, the more weirdness happened. In my ever humble, that’s what art should be for.

20171026_075438.jpgThis is where I started to doubt my own ability to interpret art, because I know nobody else is gonna look at this and see Regina Spektor jerking the earth off onto a pile of skulls. That… couldn’t have been the artist’s goal. It’s a knife. Right? It’s a knife? It has to be a knife.

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Here we what’s left if you drive a stake through Tom Waits‘ heart.

After that, I went upstairs to the paranoid schizophrenia floor. I’m not going to try to interpret what happened here. Remember that awful movie The Cell with J. Lo? It was like a better version of that, in real life.

That about did it for me. I staggered outside, Slav-squatted against an alley wall next to turquoise merchants, and stared at my hands for 20 minutes.

If you ever get the chance, you have to check this place out. It’s like drugs. It’s like being inside drugs.

Love,

The Bastard

 

Barcelona: It’s Exactly Like in Tony Hawk

October 25, 2017. Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Let me start by saying Barcelona is nothing like in Tony Hawk. I’ve seen like 2 skateboarders, tops. Lots of bikes. It’s more like the BMX game in that respect, but no other, really.

After my airplane didn’t burst into flames I wandered aimlessly around the airport after being instructed to go “down, left”. What she meant was turn the corner, find the elevator, take it to the ground floor, then locate the correct bus. On the right, coincidentally. Fortunately, airbus or buslift or airwolf has an apparent monopoly on all of Europe, so I climbed on the same bus I did in Dublin and hoped it wouldn’t take me back.

It dropped me off a half hour later next to a gorgeous set of multicolor water fountains. The streets were flooded with humans, moving in a throng, mostly college-aged but some older folks and children, everyone totally amped to be next to the fountains in Barcelona. I found my hostel and attempted to conduct my business in Spanish. We made it about halfway. They charged me an extra 2 euros for bedsheets, but that’s how they getcha. (For those familiar with my conversion rate, that’s approximately 9.32 chicken nuggets).

Realizing I hadn’t eaten that day, I went to forage. Every other shopfront was a tapas restaurant, which I learned means “about 3 bites of food for next to no money”. Conceptually, I can get behind that, but in practicality, it’s a good thing I’m not lifting because 220g of protein are not happening through tapas.

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I found a likely looking place that promised cervezas and something called a “meat bomb”. They ushered me in and when I ordered it, the waiter assured me in rapid-fire, heavily accented English that they were out, but I could order meatballs and bravas. I assumed these were most of the components to the meat bomb. Not so much.

Three meatballs later, he puts this monster in front of me:

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It turns out this meant patatas bravas, which I’ve been struggling with the translation for since. In Spanish Spanish, brava means” “brave. In Mexican Spanish, it means “a fight”. In Italian, brava means “well done” or “good”. They were good patatas, I guess, but linguistically challenging.

And surprisingly plentiful. I found out this is because I somehow ordered like $10 worth of patatas bravas. That’s also how they getcha, but Mama ain’t raise a quitter, so I plowed through ’em and went on my merry way.

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good thing, if they’re gonna keep giving me three pounds of potatoes every time I try to order food

I made the tragic mistake of trying to find a brewery in Barcelona. Google assured me that “Cervezeria 100 Montaditos” was a brewery, and only a half mile from my hostel, so that was my next stop. Montaditos, for the record, are simple sandwiches made by cutting a half a loaf of twisty Spanish baguette in half and jamming it full of meat. This is distinct from bocadillos, which are the same thing but with standard baguettes — and they would go on to save my life.

Regarding the bar: Imagine a high school pep rally. Now take it out of the gym, and put it in a 2-story bar, and that was 100 Montaditos. Thousands of children, all shouting, all drinking the Spanish equivalent of Natty Light, a flavorless amber concoction called “Cruzcampo Glacial”, made by the Spanish branch of Heineken and receiving a whopping 12% on ratebeer.com. But they were also 1€ each. I ducked into a corner to evade all the screeching, downed it like a frat boy, and retreated to my hostel for a long-deserved shower.

The bathrooms were a shared affair. Three shower stalls, three sinks, two stalls. Standing in front of the mirrors were two middle-aged men. One was a tall, stocky German man, discernibly a dad and discernibly nonplussed with the conversation he was having with a hunched French philosophy professor who shared Sartre’s perspective, both due to his metaphysical beliefs and his lazy eye. The professor was trying his damnedest to convince the dad that he had to take things less seriously, because all of life is a derision. The dad did not know this word, and clearly wanted to just get out of the conversation and go to sleep, but couldn’t due to manners.

“All of life is a joke!” the professor insisted, laughing like a maniac. “Is a joke! None of it is real! It is a derision! You take too serious!”

The dad made a face and said, “How do you know this about me? You cannot know me.”

“I know you! I know you, you have a wife, two children. They could have been girls, you know! Is all a derision!”

“Oh, okay,” I interjected, because they were both trying to cross entirely too many language barriers here. “He means a delusion.”

The German made the same face.

“It’s like in a dream,” I said. “Something you think is real, but it’s not. And you have no way of knowing.”

“No way to know!” the Frenchman said. “I cannot trust!”

“Yeah, you’re talkin about Descartes,” I said. This helped no one.

“You mean… illusion?” the German asked me. I considered, then nodded.

“Yeah, basically.”

“Then he should just say illusion!”

The dad considered the professor distastefully for a moment, then motioned to me and said, “What about him? You know this about me, can you tell also about him?”

“Is prollity,” the professor said, and I tried to interject “probability” but they weren’t having it.

“Or are you,” the dad continued, looking at me for the word, “How do you say… psychic? Mind-reader?”

The Frenchman considered me critically for a moment.

“How about him?” the German demanded again. “Does he have family and kids?”

“No. He has no family. He is alone.”

There was a beat of silence, and the dad started laughing nervously, I imagine because he had to do something to vent his discomfort. I grinned and said, “But aren’t we all, really?”

At this point a Ukrainian teenager entered the bathroom and politely tried to figure out which shower was okay for him to use. The dad said, “This one is fine, but you must be careful, or you will be trapped for 15 minutes talking to him!” He nodded at the professor, who had removed his shirt and was now trying to explain that he had hair on his shoulders because he was “once a monkey”. I didn’t know if he meant evolutionarily or in a past-life sense, and I did as much deciphering as I was ready to that night. I bid them goodnight, took my damn shower, and went to bed.

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I really like Barcelona.

Love,

The Bastard

 

Bog Bodies and Bad Beer

It was about time to start my cultural tour of the Emerald Isle’s most iconic city not featuring a stone you kiss, and the Irish archaeology museum seemed as a good place to start as any. Unfortunately, I missed it the first time through because the museum entrance was right next to a school which was presently being protested, in Gaelic, by dozens of children and parents. Everyone was waving signs I couldn’t read and everyone was deeply upset.

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I watched from the corner at this shouting legion of children and what I believe are called, in that part of the world, “mums”, cognizant only of the fact that they had been 21 years waiting for something. Most of them didn’t look 21 to me. My phone GPS insisted I was right on top of the archaeology museum, but that really only helped me stare blankly at said phone.

A man next to me was taking pictures with a gorgeous camera. I asked if he could tell me what the signs said, and he said “No, I am… I am French. I do not speak.” I told him me either, but then he asked the woman who’s head I accidentally photographed the back of and she told us they’ve been waiting on a new school that they paid for 21 years ago. The word “prefab” was used. I still didn’t have much understanding of what was going on, but I was relieved to find this wasn’t an abortion thing, since those are the only protests you ever see kids at back in the States. Which is… really grim, when you just put it out there. In any event, I looked into it after the fact and though this wasn’t the school, it certainly provides some context.

Another pass down the street and I evaded the children and slipped into the alley that led to the archaeology museum. I expressed surprise to the man at the desk that admission was free, and he said something that sounded vaguely barbed about how their government uses money. Yeah, preaching to the choir there, bud.

For those not acquainted with the concept, Ireland’s bogs preserve bodies really well, and in its sordid ancient history the locals were fond of mutilating human sacrifices and chucking them into the bog to appease… well, whatever needed appeasement, really. Fast forward a couple thousand years (2300, give or take) and baby, you got yourself a mummy goin’.

Most of the museum was devoted to old pots and piles of badly banged up golden bracelets. Considering that the bog bodies are the main attraction, they were really well hidden, but I imagine that was a reflection of the initial rediscovery of the bodies by what I can only imagine were fisherman or hikers.

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This was the Cashel Man, presumed to be from the Bronze Age (around 2000 BCE). He was around 25 when it happened. His arm was broken, as was his back, in two places. This should give an indication of how seriously the early Irish took their appeasements.

In the past I’ve made reference to poking around, exploring places said to be spiritual, like the Sedona vortexes. Vortices. Vortexi. This is all smug nihilist posturing, of course, just like the rest of my personality.

I could feel the bad juju coming off the Clonycavan man, though.

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He was an Iron Age king from around 2300 BCE. They think he was murdered; you can still see the gashes from the axe wounds through his face. Others were along the back of his head, and brain matter had been found in them, but it was the blow that split the bridge of his nose that killed him.

Once upon a time, I knew a punk rock girl who took acid and insisted on reading my aura. We sat down on a friend’s apartment floor and she touched my palms and closed her eyes and when she opened them again they were big and shiny, pupils dilated far beyond the point you’d think that amount of LSD would permit.

“It’s just mouths… screaming.”

At the time I said something like, “Yeah, try livin’ with it.” But now I think I have some frame of reference. Maybe it was the uncanny aspect of his split face, being able to read the expression on it, or maybe it was vengeful Irish ghosts, but something about that exhibit shook me. I had to talk myself into taking a picture, as my old witch friends back in the day assured me that’s the quickest way to drag malevolent spirits around with you.

I also found a tasteful medieval Irish cowboy hat.

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I beat feet out of the museum and thought it was about time to try the oft-vaunted Irish beer. I found a likely pub, settled in, and ordered a local craft porter, as I am of the unpopular opinion that Guinness is undrinkable garbage water.

Don’t mistake me for a beer snob. I will happily drink Lionshead and PBR, I keep my fridge stocked with Yuengling to go with dinner. I even like Murphy’s stout, and that barely makes the cutoff for being beer.

The Russian bartender started pouring it, then frowned.

“Doesn’t look like a porter,” he said, and he was right, it was several shades too light. In Ireland, I learned there’s a particular way of pouring I never saw stateside where they fill it near the top, let the foam fizzle down, then fill it the rest of the way. I tried to take it after what looked like he was done pouring and he was flabbergasted.

“It is not done,” he said. “Why would I give you half beer?”

I shrugged. “First beer I’ve ordered in Ireland. When in Rome, you know?”

He gave me a look that suggested we were not in Rome, which I couldn’t dispute.

The porter tasted like Guinness. Over the next day and a half, I would drink two more local, craft stouts. Both would also taste like Guinness.

Why?

On my rambling, misdirected walkabout back to the hostel to finally sleep, I saw this sign in front of a comic shop and I was given pause:

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Can you imagine seeing the absolute absurdity of seeing Captain Any-Other-Country while in America? Just walking down main street, seeing a sign for Admiral Canada? Lieutenant Scotland? Who else could get away with something like that but good ol’ USA #1?

I slept for roughly a day then spent a night out in Dublin. By the time I had gotten a beer in me, all the restaurants had closed except for a shawarma shop, so that’s what I had. It was… a cultural experience, certainly.

I reviewed my options that night and learned that if I didn’t book a plane out of Dublin the following day, ticket prices would increase 4x until the following Monday. All that remained on my Dublin itinerary was The Leprechaun Museum, and I doubted I could squeeze a full week out of that. I booked a ticket on the shadiest available airline to Barcelona.

Yesterday’s post might have seemed to end a little suddenly. That’s because I was sitting in the airport, waiting to board my flight, when a nearby plane burst into honest-to-God flames. Fortunately, they had a firetruck… suspiciously close at hand.

I’ll tell you about Barcelona later!

Love,

The Bastard

 

The Rocky Road to Dublin

October 24, 2017. Dublin, Ireland.

Another interactive post! For most authentic results, play this song over and over until you lose the ability to sleep for three days.

After my disastrous layover in Boston, my master plan was to sleep all six hours of my first intercontinental flight and then spring into action, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, upon arriving in Dublin. But you know what they say, the best laid plans of mice and men… something. Once on the plane, I traded seats with some guy so he could sit next to his “wife” or whatever, which put me next to a fellow wanderer who was very excited about backpacking Ireland. She’d been to Europe four other times so she was giving me a lot of helpful advice and asking a battery of pertinent questions, which I appreciated, even as she kept aborting my attempts to get any sleep at all in my life ever. Then again, my engines run just south of nuclear at the most serene of times, so it’s unlikely I would’ve managed to get much sleep anyway while hurtling through the sky over shark-infested waters in a giant metal tube toward the land of my foremothers.

My irrepressibly inquisitive single-serving friend and I parted ways after customs in an appropriately Irish goodbye. Thereafter, I figured out how buses work. You give them money, and they scowl at you, and then you hit the button before it gets to your stop or they’ll drop you off at the next stop.

♫ In Dublin next arrived, I thought it such a pity
to be so soon deprived a view of this fine city ♫

Unfortunately, I got off the bus in center city at 6 AM, not realizing that Ireland doesn’t open until 8. I had booked in advanced at a hostel called The Four Courts which was so closed that there was a cage in front of the door. My options had narrowed.

So like the idiot protagonist of the aforementioned folk song, I decided to take a stroll. In the rain. For two hours. Desperate for breakfast.

There was one place, called The Pantry, that opened a half hour before the rest of Dublin. I skittered in and ordered the “jumbo” breakfast, whereupon I learned jumbo means something different here than it does in America. Still, they gave me a truly devastating quantity of pig flesh.

pigs

I hadn’t realized there were so many ways to turn pigs into breakfast. You see those little disks on the right? That’s fried blood. It’s alleged that it’s “pudding”, but they have to be aware of the other kind of pudding, that rarely contains blood. I believe this known colloquially as “taking the piss”. And then one lone hash brown, in solemn remembrance.

I paid then got terribly lost, but I’m told that’s part of the experience. You’d think it would be easy to orient yourself by the giant river that cuts through the middle of town. I kept losing it. Poor visibility from the rain, I imagine, and also everyone in a car was trying to kill everyone else in a car as loudly as possible.

Four or five miles later, I found this sign that I recognized from my failed attempt at getting into my hostel earlier.

surgery
seems legit

I gained access this time by pressing a metal button. Apparently, I could have done that three hours prior too. You win this round, The Four Courts.

I’ve technically been awake for two days but my bed won’t be ready until 3 pm and there’s enough caffeine pounding through my bloodstream to reanimate a notably large corpse.

yall need anything

I think I’ll swing by the Tri-C and stock up on the trifecta: coffee, cadavers, and Christ. Y’all need anything?

Love,

The Bastard