Saturday, July 30, 2005

I'm going to stop telling people...

...I went to Afghanistan.

Or at least, I'm going to stop telling drunk and/or stupid people I went to Afghanistan.

Last night at the local bar someone told a woman I recently returned from the 'stan and she started asking questions which at first were normal, but slowly started to focus on the morale of the troops. She didn't seem to accept the fact that I perceived morale to be pretty good among the people I interacted with. She went on to posit that it must be difficult for morale over there when they hear about people over here disagreeing with the war.

When I asked her to clarify what she meant, because I actually don't know many people who strongly oppose the action in Afghanistan, I began to realize that she was thinking about Iraq and not Afghanistan.

I explained that the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan were strikingly different and that I was in the latter and not the former but that didn't deter her from her pontificating. She continued to press her point of view, even mentioning that the U.S. talked about bringing troops home from Iraq in 2006, despite my constant corrections that I was actually in a different country with a different name, to wit Afghanistan.

At that point I pretended that the beer taps needed a stern talking to and walked away.

Earlier this week a different woman, also possibly drunk, said that it was terrible that the female soldiers overseas didn't get tampons.

When I kindly asked, 'what the fuck are you talking about?' she got snippy and said, 'well, you know there are women soldiers right?'

Oh no, little Ms. Condescension, I thought those were effeminate men with shaved legs and tits running around the bases I was at. I didn't bring it up because of the whole 'don't ask, don't tell' policy.

She continued by saying "they don't provide tampons."

Usually any conversation that involves the word 'tampon' this many times already makes me run away, but I had to at least mention that at the PX's I was at (a PX is a Post Exchange, a general store on base) I saw femine hygeine products readily available.

She said, "well that's on base, what about where the soldiers are?"

"Um, what?"

"Where the soldiers actually live."

"Soldiers live on the base..."

And so forth.

I realize infusing first-hand knowledge into a political discussion is not really the thing to do in this day and age, and I should stick to whatever talking points my cause has handed out. I also realize that our culture is partly to blame, we live in a world where you can watch 24-hour news channels for 24 hours and still be uninformed, but if you're only talking to hear your own opinion and not to interact with your conversation-mate, leave me out of it.

So anyway, if anyone asks, I went to the Caribbean for two weeks. Here's a pic of me at a Sandals in Gardez:

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A couple of more pics from the 'stan


Just about every kid I saw in Afghanistan either waved, smiled, or gave us the "thumbs up" sign, and yet somehow I wind up with a picture of the one kid that gave us the finger.


See? Most of 'em liked us.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Back in the U.S. of A!

I'm back in my apartment trying to recover from the 28 hours of being in transit and the 8.5 hour time change. If it had been 8 hours, or even 9 hours I would be fine by now. It's that pesky half hour that's killing me, all that math I had to do has damaged my brain.

Maybe that's why the Soviets invaded. They just wanted to force the country to pick an hour.

Here are a couple of pics, I'll be posting a few at a time

quite possibly the coolest picture that will ever be taken of me. I'm on patrol with some fine men from Airborne, checking out an N.A.I. ("Known Area of Interest" Yes it's not a perfect acronym, but K.A.I doesn't work as well)

My ride

Saturday, July 23, 2005

TDY= temporary duty

Turns out getting into Afghanistan is a lot easier than getting out. Maybe this is an elaborate recruitment scheme where they invite comics over and don't let them leave. In the meantime they take us out on patrols, qualify us on weapons and next thing you know we're enlisted.

The flight schedule is never set in stone around here, flights get diverted and cancelled frequently, and there's also a waiting list with different priorities for different people. Yesterday a flight got cancelled on us and various and assorted other things came up. We're tentatively scheduled to get out of here in about 6 hours but I keep telling the people I've gotten to know around here that I'll see them tomorrow.

I was hoping I'd have some time off in Germany before my flight back to the states but as it stands I'll probably have to get right off the transport and onto my commercial flight. Unless of course I happen to conveniently miss my flight out of Germany and then I could hang out there for a while.

I haven't had a fountain soda in two weeks and for some reason that's the first thing I'm going to get when I get back into the Western Hemisphere. Anyone know how to say "fountain drink" in German?

Mmmm, fountain drinks.

Friday, July 22, 2005

On Patrol with Airborne

Yesterday the other comic and I got to go on a patrol "outside the wire" as they call it. Aside from being in a convoy it's the first time we'd been on the ground outside of a base since we got here. The Lt. Col. of the camp was really enthusiastic about showing us what they've been working on, how they interact with the locals, what their duties are.

We went out in 2 humvees and we got to sit on the back of the truck and talk with the soldiers about whatever. Kids give the thumbs up a lot, they run up to the trucks and sometimes the soldiers give out candy or pens. The kids actually ask for pens because they're going to school and starting to learn to read and write.

We climbed up a hill with the team and got an amazing view of the creek bed we drove up. The Army is building a road to connect two cities and it pisses off the anti-coalition militia (as the taliban, AQ and other jihadists are called) but the locals are happy about the progress.

On the way back from the patrol we stopped in the center of the town at the bazaar, which is a collection of shops. We had an interpreter with us and we were able to talk to the locals a little. They're friendly, the kids are curious, and it was great to have the chance to interact with some of the people of Afghanistan outside of a military base.

This trip has been amazing and if comedy never does another thing for me in my life I'm glad it afforded me the opportunity to come here.

See you cats soon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Blackhawks Rock!

Best Blackhawk ride ever!

We flew over some gorgeous country, much greener and far more trees than anywhere else I've seen here. We followed the terrain and flew through some valleys. So bitchin'.

I also was in a seat which required me to be on headset, so I got to listen to the crew chatter. The pilots and side gunners talked about partculars to the flight, but were also damned funny from time to time. They made a few Top Gun references and even a Princess Bride reference (The MLT sandwich line, you know, where the mutton is nice and lean).

We're getting settled in here for our last show of the tour. It should be fun, the people here said that they don't get too much entertainment coming out this way.

This morning before we left the last base we went to a bakery run by a local that's just on the edge of the base. When you order your bread they take the dough and smak it up against the inside wall of the brick oven. I ordered cinammon, Pete (the other comic on the tour, who's posted some pictures on his website) ordered a couple garlic loaves which smelled good but garlic in the morning just doesn't seem right. They don't make garlic Life cereal after all.

I'll post some of my pictures when I get back. Hope you all are keeping the U.S. neat and tidy for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

commuting

In the past 24 hours I've flown on a CH-47 helicopter (the Chinook) and a Blackhawk. Each time with an Apache attack helicopter as escort. Now I'm at a base (I won't say where, I ain't Geraldo after all) where they're shooting a freakin' howitzer. I don't know at what, I ain't asking and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't tell me.

Last night's Chinook flight was at night and there's a 3/4 moon so I could see a lot of the terrain we were flying over. The Chinook is really a great way to travel. If you need to get somewhere with a couple dozen friends and you're flying over some sketchy territory, I highly recommend flying in one of these semi-trailer-sized air assets.

Today's Blackhawk flight was intense as well. We waited on the tarmac at the base we were at last night while the Blackhawk was delayed by weather. It finally showed up and we were hustled on. I feel like such a dope getting on a freakin' batlle-ready helicopter with a guitar but there it is.

Oh, and if you see my mom or sisters, don't tell them about the flights and stuff, they'll worry. I'm guessing they don't read the blog so I'm cool.

Hi Mom! Everything's fine!

Actually, things are going very well and I'm glad I'm here.

Later

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Kickin' it in Kabul

Hey kids,

Layin' back in Camp Phoenix in Kabul Afghanistan. We've done a couple of shows at other small bases, and a place that if I told you about military intelligence would kick my ass.

We take convoys from base to base here in the greater Kabul metroplex, one convey included two armored Humvees with 50 caliber machine guns mounted on top. Pretty bitchin'. Also we wear flack jackets and kevlar helmets when we travel. I don't see what the big deal is, it's not like we're playing Crown Heights.

Folks!

Sorry Crown Heights, I only have a minute on the computer and it's the only neighborhood that popped into my head. I'll post pictures when I get home.

Rock on!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Road to Afghanistan

Going to Afghanistan tomorrow.

Well, actually I'm going to Germany, I go to Afghanistan on Monday. I'll be performing for our servicemen and women at various and assorted bases throughout the country. No word yet on whether Bob Hope and Bing Crosby will be able to make it.

Things to remember to take:

Camera
passport
Pashto phrasebook
concealer in case I wind up on some reporter's satellite phone
calling card
underwear
telephone numbers to all x-girlfriends for drunk/opium dialing
sunscreen
extra socks
balloons

If I can get to a computer I'll post a hello or something, otherwise I'll see you cats in a couple of weeks.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Fantastic Four-Play

I know, terrible pun. But I had to address the fact that the marketing for the Fantastic Four movie is trying to exploit Jessica Alba's hotness. The producers pretty much shot themselves in the foot when they cast Ms. Alba as the Invisible Woman.

She should have been the Extremely Visible Woman, or the woman whose skin burns everything it comes into contact with thereby prohibiting her to wear clothes, or a superheroine whose martial art involves swinging around on vertical poles.

I'm not going to pay $11 to not see Jessica Alba, I can do that in my apartment.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I don't know if I'm coming or going

I may be leaving the country next week, may not.

It seems like a weird situation to be in but there you have it. I may be going overseas to do shows for servicemen and women, supposed to leave Thursday, but I haven't gotten the final go-ahead, green light, marching orders, etc. I'm used to being in charge of my own travel arrangements and I have that stuff nailed down well ahead of time to make sure things go smoothly, but I guess this is the way the Army works, and it's making me a little nutty.

It kind of plays into the showbiz habit of not talking about things until they're actually happening. Most folks don't like to say what's in the works because so many things can come up and scuttle the project. Some people say it's a supersition but it's really just a way to avoid having to tell the long and involved stories of why things didn't happen.

Consider:

Q: "Hey, what happened to your show?"
A: "Well, the producer took a job at another production company and she took her assistant with her, and the new guy is trying to develop a project for his girlfriend..."

But if you don't tell people what you're working on:

Q: "Hey, did that thing happen?"
A: "No."

See how easy that is? No "the A&R guy's in rehab," or "the studio got bought out by Sony." It's just a quick 'no' and you're out of the conversation.

So if I go, I'll blog from the airport overseas (not the one in the states because the flight could always get cancelled) and tell you all about it.