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At last!

Finally! We've got a working phone line (and thus internet access) in our apartment (in Fremantle, Western Australia). Once again, we're plugged into the wired world. We had a cable modem at Cult Headquarters; fast as a jack rabbit and always on, so Lara and I were used to having Google ready at hand to satisfy our every passing curriousity. The lack of internet access has been about the hardest transition for us.

Now we've got dial up access in our home pad, so while it's not broadband, our internet fast has made us appreciate this modest 56k window on the world.

Here's something I wrote while we were still in Thialand but never managed to get posted:

I’m writing this at four in the morning on October 30, 2002. I have no idea when I’ll get the chance to post it. We’re in the sea-side town of Pritchuip Kiri Khan (definitely mis-spelled), staying at the Golden Beach hotel. Had it not been for Mike we never would have seen this part of Thailand, with its beautiful wat (temple) perched on the hilltop with the monkeys scampering around the foot of the LONG stairway that leads up to the temple complex.

Lara and I got extremely lucky when Mike decided to drive down to Bangkok from Chiang Mai. Mike has lived here for more than fifteen years, speaks Thai, and knows the ins and outs of the country and its people. While in Bangkok, he helped us buy used cell phones and get them set up and working. Had we purchased them new from some place with friendly, English-speaking staff, we could easily have paid five times what we did with Mike’s assistance.

With Mike’s help, we have dined on ultra-cheap eats from places that do not have farang-accessible menus, and more importantly, instead of riding from our Bangkok hotel to the airport to catch a flight to Phuket, a journey on which an English speaking Thai is never out of ear-shot, we are taking a road trip in Mike’s car, the Rig, and seeing parts of the country we NEVER would have seen otherwise.

I’m sitting cross-legged on the couch with the laptop perched on top of its back-pack carrying case. The room is dark. Glancing up, I can see my reflection in the desk mirror across the room. The light from the screen casts my shadow, spectrally tall and thin, on the featureless white wall behind me, as if some Dementor were hovering over me, just waiting for me to type the wrong word.

There’s much more to tell, but Logan is up and has taken an interest in my laptop, so I’ll sign off for now.

Wednesday, 13 November, 2002
2:27 AM

I’m typing in the dark in our room at the Suriwongse Hotel, in Chiang Mai. We’re on the 4th floor, and, as usual in Thailand, when I stop to listen, the sounds of air conditioning and traffic dominate my auditory field. The Chiang Mai night bizarre has ended for the evening, and I can hear the rattle of carts and stalls as the last of the merchants pack up their wares. A car alarm sounded for a few seconds. It’s the first car alarm I recall hearing in Thailand.

I haven’t stayed up till half past two. Rather, I woke up, probably due to my irritated eyes, and then got to thinking; always a mistake when what I want to be doing is sleeping. This happened to me the other night when we were staying at the Metropole in Phuket Town. I woke up in the wee hours, started thinking about this and that, and so worked myself into a mode in which sleep became more and more unlikely. That night, I dug out my reading light and my copy of Conscilience, and read for a while, thinking that E.O. Wilson’s ornate writing style and fairly dense subject matter would prove fatiguing. It didn’t, and soon Logan woke up and, seeing me with an open book, climbed into my lap so that I could read to him. Then Lara woke up and the whole family facilitated our mutual sleeplessness.

Lara and I came to Thailand thinking we would stay six months to get a feel for the place and then move to Costa Rica and see which we liked better. After a week, we modified our plan, thinking that we would stay just long enough for Lara to complete her dental work before moving on. Now, we’ve decided that we will not even require a single visa extension beyond the initial thirty day allowance we received when we arrived in Bangkok nearly three weeks ago. Lara’s new teeth will wait until we reach Costa Rica. We find Thailand a beautiful country and the Thais a beautiful people, but we have decided that we don’t want to live here. Not now, anyway.

Mike, our friend and local guide, shared with me the unspoken rule about westerners who settle in Thailand: only people with an interest in having sex with Thais opt to stay here indefinitely. Otherwise it’s too alien.

I hold an image of myself as an adaptable person who thrives on variety and who can easily stretch beyond the psychological confines of my own culture, and so the thought that I would retreat from Thailand because it is “too alien” rubbed me the wrong way at first, but now I’ve made peace with that idea. As a vacation spot and a setting for exploration, I find Thailand “exotic.” As a place to settle and put down roots, I think the adjustment would require more time and effort than I care to expend, and in that respect I no longer have a problem with the judgment that Thailand is too alien. I’m sure I’ll return, but my immediate destiny lies elsewhere.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 10th, 2002 11:20 am (UTC)
it's divine to be connected to all of the world again, isnt it?..:) how long will you be staying in oz? its probably summer down under. if you can afford it, you should take a peek into antarctica. its sinfully dear from this part of the world, but since the final leg of the trip to antarctica starts from there and the fact that its probably tourist season now, prices may be affordable...also, trips that dont go too deep into the frozen continent(you probably dont need to do that...it doesnt matter if its winter or summer..its brutal deep inside..) and merely graze around the edges with a view of its wildlife should be lighter on the pockets....

love to lara and logan.

p.s. i was thinking about you the other day when i saw this and i thought to myself...hey! kevin could do that! what do you think?
Dec. 10th, 2002 11:36 am (UTC)
Re: this
I'm intrigued, because when I click on the "this" link, I get a message saying the page cannot be displayed. Someone is trying to stand between me and one of my possible destinies. I will not be denied! The URL seems pretty telling, though. Something to do with cartooning?

There's an animation studio here in Fremantle. I plan to check into the possibility of hooking up with them. If not as an employee, then perhaps as an intern. We'll see.

How long will we be down under? Right now, we're thinking six months. Our visas are good for a year, and we have an apartment, a car, and memberships to a nearby gym, so we're in no hurry to pick up and move again.

Antartica, eh? I'll check into it.
Dec. 10th, 2002 11:39 am (UTC)
Re: this
thats not right...try here


it's old, it seems..but its still up there...snipped it for ya...

(begin snip)
We're Looking For A Clever, Irreverent Cartoonist
To Create A New Regular Feature For MAD:
Could That Person Be YOU?

July 17, 2002

Dear Potential Contributor,

The headline above says it all! We've begun a nationwide search for a cartoonist to create a new monthly feature for our moronic magazine. The feature will appear in the space previously filled by Dave Berg's "The Lighter Side Of…" which for more than 40 years poked fun at American life and its foibles. Dave Berg passed away in May.

Keep in mind that we are NOT looking for Dave Berg imitators! We're looking for a fresh talent, someone with their own unique comic voice and offbeat view of the world.

Like the "The Lighter Side Of…" the feature to be developed will be "panel-driven," though its look and tone will be totally different, creating an all-new contemporary universe of characters and situations.

If you want to put yourself in the running for this unique opportunity, please carefully follow the instructions below:

1) Send at least six examples (2-4 panels each ) of what you envision for a monthly MAD comic feature. Remember, we are most interested in reflecting and poking fun of everyday American life - families, schools, the media, current events, sports, hot trends, etc. (PLEASE NOTE: We are not interested in seeing your art samples, previously published work, etc.)

2) You MUST sign and return our official Submissions Agreement with your work samples. Print the agreement out, sign it and include it with your materials. Or, if you are submitting via email, sign your hard copy, scan it, and email it to us. We will not review any material that is not accompanied with a signed agreement

3) Those submitting via standard U.S. mail should send their material to:

Cartoonist Search
c/o MAD Magazine
1700 Broadway
NY, NY 10019

Those submitting via email should send their material to:


All electronic samples must be submitted as 72-dpi jpeg files only.

We do not accept fax submissions.

4) All materials are non-returnable. Due to what we're sure will be an overwhelming response, we will only contact you if we are interested in publishing your work.

Thanks for thinking of us and for submitting your material to MAD! Good luck!

Dec. 10th, 2002 11:42 am (UTC)
Re: this
the second part of the page includes..

i can download the submission agreement thingy and send it as an attachment to your email, if you want to take a looksie


Contact: Peggy Burns
MAD Magazine
(212) 636-5450

MAD Magazine Launches Nationwide Talent Search For Irreverent Cartoonist To Join
"The Usual Gang Of Idiots"

"No Intelligence Required"

NEW YORK - MAD Magazine has begun a nationwide search for a new cartoonist to create a monthly feature for the nation's longest-running humor magazine. Editors are seeking a visual humorist whose outlook on modern life is clever and sharp and one who doesn't mind having his reputation ruined by working for a lowlife publication like MAD.

For 40 years, MAD's mainstay, " The Lighter Side of…," poked fun at American life and its foibles. The feature's creator, Dave Berg, passed away in May. While knowing it's impossible to replace the late, great cartoonist, the editors are seeking someone who shares MAD's comedic and satiric view of our twisted society.

"We're looking for a cartoonist whose unique voice and offbeat view of the world will transform the feature into a MAD classic for a new generation," said co-editor John Ficarra. "A background in ballroom dancing is not mandatory but an obvious plus."

Similar to the "The Lighter Side" the feature to be developed will share the original's mission of commenting on contemporary culture, but with a new cast of characters and situations. The cartoonist will be selected based on the originality of his content and style, and willingness to suck up to the staff. (Holiday hams and cheese wheels are especially prized.)

For more information on how to join "the usual gang of idiots," please visit the MAD website at madmag.com.

# # #

(end snippet)
Dec. 10th, 2002 05:06 pm (UTC)
Re: this
Generally, these contests that ask struggling unknowns to send in their hard-won brain children include a fine print clause that says something to the effect of, "Even if we don't pick you as the winner, we have the right to get some hack to crank out something pretty much identical to what you've created and publish it without giving you an iota of credit or one thin dime."

If the Mad Submissions Agreement contains no such clause, then I would be happy to send them some stuff. Otherwise, I'll continue to work in obscurity.
Dec. 10th, 2002 07:18 pm (UTC)
Re: this
ahhh..hah! thats the catch...

(begin snip)

MAD Magazine Editorial Staff:

In exchange for E.C. Publications, Inc.'s review of my writing and art samples, ideas, and concepts in connection with its search for new talent to contribute to MAD Magazine, I acknowledge and agree as follows: E.C. Publications, Inc. ("EC"), its agents, artists, writers, representatives, and/or licensees may now have similar work, concepts and ideas in development and/or may independently develop and use similar work, concepts and/or ideas; any similarity between any materials that I submit to EC and/or any materials already in development or independently developed hereafter by EC and/or any of its agents, artists, writers, representatives, or licensees shall be coincidental; and I shall have no rights whatsoever in or to, nor shall I make any claim against, any work, concepts or ideas already in development, or that may hereafter be independently developed, by EC, its agents, artists, writers, representatives and/or licensees notwithstanding any similarity to any materials that I have submitted to EC.

I further acknowledge and agree that EC shall have no obligation to return any materials that I may submit to EC for review and no obligation to provide me with any response to my submission. I affirm that I am at least 18 years of age.

(end snip)

oh well...
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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