"I did my best, it wasn't much . . .
GrandpalaceBKK
teflpimpone
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch.
I told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah."
(original Cohen lyrics, not to be heard in most other people's versions)

My book is done, and at the print shop. Today, I expect to finish compiling (photocopying) 2 more (resource kit, grammar book), exoskeletons already done. I'm ripping most of it directly from 2 grammar/worksheet books by Raymond Murphy, Cambridge U. press (yeah, British English). One's bilingual, English/Thai. There's a meeting between the mysterious "Managing Director" and the university tomorrow. Since we still have no students, I doubt the mystery man can save the program. But they will have the materials to run a TEFL course by the end of the day if its the last thing I do. It might be, at least here. Luckily for me, the Wandering Jew subtype is immortal till we die. Free agency isn't so bad, even if the pay sucks.

Let's get it on, one last time.

-N

I don't even own a raincoat
GrandpalaceBKK
teflpimpone
"You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record . . ."

Those words always meant a great deal to me, since I first heard them on a CD of Cohen's "greatest hits" (up to 1974 - he kept going for another 30 years, and still is). I knew, from at least late adolescence, that my life would be meaningless. Love will not redeem me, and probably will continue to reject me till this incarnation is over. I will have no children. My "art" will remain uninspiring to the masses, or even the "privileged" few. I will not save the whales, the starving children, the oppressed, or the world. I'm not even ever going to hit the point of satisfaction or happiness. It's mostly gonna be isolation, hopefully with a few more breaks. You're all safer that way, as I put it in a song one or two people might have heard but nobody else probably understood (it was terribly produced, and many of the lyrics were inaudible).

I suppose all meaning comes from either love or creativity. But love requires the Other. The Other doesn't want me, and I have learned to hide myself and keep moving. Perhaps seven years ago, my lack of discipline made finishing anything seem impossible, and I drifted through life, using mostly anaesthetics and motion to keep the demons from cornering me. They taught me that they can change my environment faster than my environment can change me, so we cut a deal. They can have their way with me, but I need to make stuff, before I die.

I started with teaching, which is a performance art (as anyone who's ever been on that side of a class knows). Blood sacrifice allowed me to experience love, briefly, in a way that showed me how unlikely it was to ever happen again. It's too ephemeral, though, and the best lessons last only in memory. When the love went away for good, the demons upped their price. I had to do the impossible. I edited 3 anthologies and recorded two albums, a well a a half-finished philosophy book. Not enough. I tried to rescue the doomed, and all I had managed to eke out became hollow and empty. I ran away, so none would see what I had become. The demons came along, of course, but I could at least keep performing to give me back a sense of identity, and there was no audience for the One Endless Night. But the demons need more.

So, I'm writing a book now. I'm finishing this one. It's just a coursebook for a course that will never happen, but it's a book. It will help me keep my record. It may provide material for more of the story, using the informative parts as a frame for the ugly ones. But the draft is 80% done now, and will be complete within nine days, or so I have promised. Then, I have to face reality and go find another teaching job. But I will have upheld my end, O demons. For this year, at least.

Motion is required, but it isn't enough. Anaesthetic is required, but it is not enough. Performance is required, but it is not enough There must be a record. There must be proof that I existed. That I tried, a least a little. If the Universe is a good teacher, then I'm sure it grades on effort. A C - (or even a D+, which is probably my current grade) will do, but I want to pass. I am sure I do not want to repeat this life again. So, work must be done, even if it is unseen, poor quality, and futile. I suppose conquering my addictions might qualify, but that just means the effort takes the form of resisting a lifetime of temptation for no reward - pain for it's own sake. I don't think Poe or Coleridge lived worthless lives, even if it felt that way to them. I'm no great artist, but I would rather leave something behind than not. I finished Chapter 16 out of 20 today, and did the research for 17. Another turd will drop soon. And then it starts again, the search, the empty motion, the struggle to bring forth anything, and maybe one day catch just an instant of the holy fire . . . before I become the smoke I breathe.

-End transmission

Regress Report
GrandpalaceBKK
teflpimpone
"I am healthy, I am whole, but I have poor impulse control.
And I want to go home . . . but I am home." - (see 'music')

In the last couple of weeks since I bothered putting anything on here, I've written 220 pages of the rough draft for a TEFL coursebook, between endless hours of spaced out eyelid movies and Civilization V. I've withdrawn almost completely from the outside world, with the exception of regular visits to 7-11 for supplies and the local coffee shops for take-away fuel.

I frequently have to remind myself that this is what I want to be doing. I WANT to be hermetically sealed in my own little world, with minimal interference from others right now. Perhaps I would have more pride in myself and my work if I stayed clean and focused . . . but clean does not mean focused. More often, clean means naturally wired to the gills with nowhere to put all the excess nervous energy. Maybe the book would be easier to write with that energy, but I have trouble finishing an entire sub-heading without a break when I'm completely straight. It's more likely that cutting off my escape routes would lead to a nervous breakdown, in this isolated situation, and the work might be done more quickly but the process of doing it would be nerve-wracking. With cannabis to put between me and the world as a reward for writing, and valium to keep me on a 24 hour schedule when I am not naturally suited to do this, the work is getting done. I will have a book in a couple of weeks.

Whether I have a course to go with it is another story, but I am no salesman. We need full-time marketing for this to work, and marketing is not my forte. It is my partner's, but he's Thai and has a newborn son. The first means that he is naturally laid back, and extremely lazy by Western standards. It also means that his English is too poor to deal with Western universities, or even answer most of his e-mail from westerners. The second means that he'll never be free mornings or nights, so he'll never make all the international calls that need to be made. I've seen his inbox: all black. And I know he doesn't usually read MY e-mails. This course won't be profitable without international marketing, but that really doesn't matter to me.

Sure, I'd like to try being a TEFL trainer, teaching my own program from my own textbook. But writing the book is an end in itself, and the job is the means to do it. I'm not writing the TEFL book I want to write: that book would be much less like a polite, diplomatic, positive textbook and much more like what Anthony Bourdain did for the restaurant biz with 'Kitchen Confidential', the book which initially made him a celebrity chef. But I'm writing my first, complete book-length work, and no matter what happens with the course, I will retain the manuscript for my own use. I can tell my own seedy story, as Bourdain (a former junkie, for those who only know him from TV) did, and adapt all of my TEFL advice to my story the same way he adapted his advice on how to run an effective kitchen to his. I can cannibalize my own writing freely, which is why it is objectively beautiful that I am being paid to sit here and do it.

Nobody is giving me deadlines except myself, and I know that Nop's expectations are totally unrealistic without someone to sell this thing. I don't see how he can't see that, but he's Thai. In the last month, while I've written 2/3 of a textbook (and that's while being stoned and lazy), he's put out a couple of local ads in ajarn.com and the Bangkok Post, which I wrote. If there was any response, he didn't respond to it. And we both agreed that anyone already in Thailand who wants a TEFL certificate probably has one, or can get one from anywhere, including the open forgery shops on Khaosan road. If they're in Thailand and need a job (we do job placement, too) they probably don't have the extra cash to take a TEFL course to get one. Local ads just won't get us trainees. We need international marketing, and international marketing research.

At first, I thought Nop and I could do the marketing. Now, I know we can't. I probably could, if I was in an office every evening (it would have to be evenings, because of the time difference) with someone watching me. I know nothing about marketing, but I'd figure it out, after a bunch of fruitless phone calls.

However, the office opens at 10 and closes at 4. Nobody will watch me, or would understand what I was doing; I don't rightly know how to go about marketing research myself. I have a company phone, but no credit for endless international calls (or any calls at all), which i would have to be an idiot to pay for on my own. And I have a textbook to write, not to mention the other course materials. My salary is approximately equal to that of an American 7-11 clerk, and i always get paid late. I'll take charge of writing the course and teaching it, but not marketing as well. And Nop, unfortunately, is proving useless when it comes to dealing with people who aren't Thai. He is, however, excellent at dealing with Thais, and it's really his program. The program is based on a class, though, and the class is all me.

So, he's organizing it. I'm creating it. And nobody is selling it. He was supposed to get this South African guy I know from Surat up here to help, but I have no confidence that's actually gonna happen, 'cause I know the people involved. B isn't going to be our marketing guy. And without one, we got nothin'.

That's OK, because the second semester starts in November and the course starts in October (it was supposed to start in September, but that ain't gonna happen). I should get paid for spending August writing, and September is up in the air: I can probably get paid if Nop's optimism remains intact. If we can't get it together, and the money stops trickling, I'll find a real teaching job come October. In the meantime, I'll write, because that's what I'm getting paid to do and that's what I want to do. The company can have my first draft, which will probably remain unread. I'll keep the manuscript and use it for my own ends. I know I'm not working as hard as I could be, but nobody else does. Not one other person involved could write a TEFL textbook or teach a TEFL class, even if they had years. So, I give them the book on my time, and if there's no money and no students, I go fish and I have a text to rework. Game plan.

I just needed to write that out. I can't live like this forever, and I wouldn't want to, but I can do it for one more month and its worth doing. After that, we shall see. Said the blind man.

Top 10 Geriatric Rock Stars
GrandpalaceBKK
teflpimpone
(Note: this is an homage to livejournal of yore, in a place where it will safely not be seen. If you are reading it by mistake, know that I'm just settling my morning coffee and ascertaining my ability to type before going back to work.)

1. John Cale. The most under-rated man in Rock History, attach whatever degree of irony you wish to those caps. Half of the creativity of the Velvet Underground. The only surviving member of same (I think Mo Tucker's dead, right? Sterling and Lou are.) Producer of the greatest protopunk records of the 60s and 70s. The Stooges, Ramones, Patti Smith, etc. Horribly under-rated solo artist who never stopped making music for 50 years, and never got a fraction of the respect he deserved for it. And isn't even complaining.

2. Leonard Cohen. Check out his 2012 album. Remember that LC was a major poet and novelist prior to entering popular music, and thus is in his eighties while most of the others are in their 60s or 70s. He wrote, and writes, timeless. In the eighties and nineties, he summoned up the persona of a biblical prophet for his comeback, and fit it well. His regular Zen retreats and getting all his retirement cash stolen simply let him keep going as a long haul artist. Is there going to be one more? Maybe. LC deserves to retire, but look at his recent live footage. Like the old bluesmen who are the models of the geriatric rockers, he does not weaken, but adds age to his authority. He is now given the respect he is due. Well, most of it. He should be taught in schools - and he is.

3. Iggy Pop. James Osterburg. Keith Richards normally is the model for the indestructible rocker, but people fail to appreciate the distinction between doing a shit ton of drugs and being able to make it onto stage for 40-50 years, and doing a shit ton of drugs and being able to command a stage on the strength of raw power for 40-50 years. KR really only had a decade of greatness. Iggy made the first punk rock album - The Stooges self titled, produced by John Cale. Nothing prior had both the nihilism and the deliberate simplicity/energy to embody that, though the velvets (and even Dylan) were nihilistic enough and numerous garage bands had the sound. He invented crowd surfing and stage diving, to the best of my knowledge. And masochism as musical theater. More importantly: as of 60-65 years of age, Iggy is 20 times the performer "Sir" Mick is. He doesn't stop. He didn't crap out (we'll forgive him the mid 80s). He still does it, as far as I know. With the same force. respect.

4. Dylan. No one needs to give Bob any more kudos. He earned his primary place in the mythology, and then some. He invented modern song lyrics -that is, the idea that the words of a tune can mean something you actually have to think about. But we all know that. He influenced (directly or indirectly) everyone. He proved, from 97 on, that he had not lost his power to write great songs, although I think he had to take LC as a model for how to do that, as LC took him for a model on how to turn a poetry career into pop stardom. His latest album is both original and good. Greatest living songwriter? Possibly, taking his entire career into account. Greatest songwriter of all time? Possibly so. No one could ever fuck with Dylan, and anyone claiming any throne must acknowledge the one guy who built it. Elvis was the King, but Dylan was the prophet of the world's most popular religion, whether he is recognized as such or no. He needs no more praise, but the combination of influence and persistence guarantees the man a spot here.

5. Dick Dale. He might be dead, now. I doubt it. Unlike Iggy, et al, Dale never invited the demons to help him rock from the 50s through the present. Oldest man on the list. and one of the mightiest performers. Certainly the mightiest guitar player. He just - stayed young. Even though he might be older than Leonard.

Honorable mention: Neil Young, Tom Waits, David Byrne, David Bowie, Nick Cave, Stan Ridgway, Frank Black. All past 50. All sustained their greatness, with weak or silent periods. All still alive, I think. John Darnielle has a decade left before he's officially geriatric.

There are still others, but there's my top 10. A pointless list, except for finger exercise.
Luckily, the chances it will be read are minimal.

Why I didn't finish Chapter 2 today
GrandpalaceBKK
teflpimpone
It is difficult to write anything substantial about the Thai educational system, all opinions on that subject aside. It is simply difficult to get basic facts that are not outdated or flat out wrong. What the MOE says is not what happens in schools. I've worked in schools. But I can't tell you nearly enough about them for a textbook chapter. There are huge gaps in my knowledge, the internet doesn't fill them: for example, a simple question SHOULD be "what are the subjects in the required curriculum?". Is there one? Yes. Do schools follow it? Usually. What is it, at the moment? Beats me. And Google. You get long winded translations, and find out they're six years old any everything's been reformed since then. Stare at ten different pages like that, with different dates, saying different things, at different levels of clarity. And adding the date to the search doesn't help much.

It is relatively easy to write about anything else.

It is also fairly easy not to write at all, to allow solitude and indolence to join forces, since nobody at all is watching me. I don't punch a clock, go to work, or have anyone waiting for anything from me on a daily basis. There isn't any separation of work/life or scrutiny. I could hand Nop anything, and he'd take it, although I won't.

I have come to realize I need an audience to produce results, because I fundamentally don't care enough, even if its my job to. My audience is theoretical, this time, but potentially real enough. If someone is watching me or waiting for something, I can write a page to order in minutes. If I'm typing freehand, as I am now, I can do the same. But with this? No. I wish I could just summon a Thai to stare at me and nod and be impressed as I pounded out page after page. But the research gives me a fucking headache. And no one's looking at me. And I have weed. And it's a boring subject to write about. I lose motivation quickly, without supervision or an audience. And I despise supervision, which is why I have a job like this. I just work best when I can see the people I'm trying to impress, not from within my vacuum, tailored over six (at the very least) years to be a refuge from contact with the outside world. Who theoretically pay my bills.

And no one reads this either.

Quite frequently, I doubt my own existence. I don't think this is uncommon. I think it happens naturally in isolation. Buddhist monks, in theory, use isolation for this exact purpose. But they don't have deadlines, or anything to prove, I try to remember that I do.

Cue Thai national anthem
GrandpalaceBKK
teflpimpone
Well, I wasn't paid my full salary today -Nop insisted I take 10,000 baht from his pocket and gave me a blanked out general labor contract to fill out, so I can get the rest next Monday. Finished Chapter One, decided one chapter per day is appropriate, since the coursebook has 12 chapters. Next one is on .. . The Thai Educational System. Which is very difficult to talk about, from the perspective of having a dual audience of young Western college students who are going to teach in these schools and a Thai university. Just the facts, ma'am. I'm sticking to the facts, and straight description.

But, awkward as it is to speak honestly about anything Thai without criticizing it (except a certain undefinable characteristic that supplies the uplifting side of the Thai national character, a glorious laziness), I owe this country a great debt. It saved me from irrelevance.

America kicked my ass every time, no doubt about it. Too many rules, and my natural skills were unmarketable. Thailand is the reverse. I woulda killed for a gig like this in the US, assuming the money was relative to the prices. And all the rules here were meant to be broken. The real rules are unwritten, but generally let you get away with a lot if you don't piss off the wrong people.

What's more, America does not need English in spite of a huge bureaucratic structure preventing it, with top down initiatives using the buzzword "ASEAN" (like us) being totally blocked by the middle (the teachers in Thai schools, doing things the same way for 20 years, such as teaching English in Thai and not requiring any degree of fluency to be an English teacher). Thailand does. I can be a rebel and work for the Man at the same time here. And I can train commando teachers, fighting the odds, to break down the establishment, which is what the other level of the Establishment wants and the country needs. It's a required subject for 12 years of every student's life, but almost nobody writes and/or speaks it fluently.

And, yes, I do believe Thailand should learn English. De facto, the battle for linguistic imperialism was won long ago, and globalization makes our only competition speak Spanish or Chinese, and the great dragon is strong enough to stand alone China needs nothing from nobody, although it's a quite large TEFL market also. It's a quite large world power. And English is the world language in too many fields to ignore, for reasons it probably takes a history book to do justice to. I don't have to do justice to it; all I have to do is mercy. I don't need to supply the conflict here. I need to train people to teach English in a country too wonderfully lazy to learn it.

To do America justice, we did conquer the world linguistically, with considerable aid from the nation/former Empire whose name the language bears. We did it through mass media, after World War II. We did it through rock and roll, and later hip-hop. And the tireless efforts of printing presses. And Silicon Valley. We brought you television and the internet, and English with it. Damn us for our unnecessarily difficult, irregular, patchwork language as you will. Academically, the war for pole position world language was won in the 19th century, by the Brits. But it took mass media and globalization to make English important. Now, it is, regardless of first language. Unless, of course, its Chinese (Mandarin), which has thousands of pinyin and 7 tones. World language for us idiots? Hell, no. Chinese learn English 'cause they admit we can't all learn Chinese. As for Spanish, and French, they had their day . . . but Wellington won the Battle of Waterloo, and Napoleon didn't have television, and Hitler was a psychopath, we nuked the Japanese, the Soviet Union collapsed . . . etc. Consult your history books for the rest.

End transmission/lecture to no one.

FC Pinson

A Gun to My Head . . .
GrandpalaceBKK
teflpimpone
I promised, yesterday, to deliver a complete 200-300 page TEFL textbook for our new course. In 2 weeks. Yes, I am expected to use, paraphrase, and plagiarize source material. No, I don't plan to copy the whole thing. I plan to write at least half of it and paraphrase/copy the rest. Copyrights don't apply very much, cause I live in Thailand and this is a Thai university, a Thai business, and Thai standards apply. Thai standards allow the use of un-cited sources, to the point where the very concept of "plagiarism" does not exist here, and needs to be explained.

Having this kind of deadline (not to mention the other 4 books for the course, which I will happily steal the material for, including photocopying the the copyright pages!) is a lot of pressure. I've never written a textbook before. Every writer uses sources; most have to disguise them better then I will need to, but they usually have the time to do this. I don't. I need results, ASAP.

So, why am I writing to the ether? I have work to do . . .

Lyrics
GrandpalaceBKK
teflpimpone
I was going to post my own lyrics, and I still might . . . but first: this is what I wanted to say to "Darby Honeywell", who is almost definitely not going to read this and is more full of shit then she ever was before. For those who know or knew her, that statement becomes appropriately impressive. I am not an adequate lyricist to say the right thing here. But Jaime Meline (El-P, former head honcho of Def Jux records), is. When he wrote this song, he made it clear he was talking to and about himself. That makes the lyrics no less valid, and there is a large part of "Darby" in me.

So, from 'Poisonville Kids No Wins', the last track on the album I'm playing:

[Verse 3]
"To answer the question, yes - the city wants you gone
And that's the only thing connecting us, but the connection is so strong.
So, how dare you assume that I'll sleep when you're dead?
This is well outside the boundaries of acceptable behavior
I will not give you the go ahead and you will not be remembered fondly
I'm throwing down the gauntlet, fuck you this isn't your decision
And for all the holy fuck I give, your little spectacle is ended
But don't think for just one second you've honored your obligations to me
I'm serious, look in my eyes, I don't find this funny
Or whatever you imagine poetry and justice feels like when you combine them.
I am not going to allow this on my watch buddy, nobody's impressed
With your imagined sacrifice device or insurmountable regret.
You are not uniquely pained, and if you go we won't be sorry.
And who the hell are you to put me through the banality of watching this?
Cause many better (men) have gone for clearly better reasons, and I
Starkly must remind you that you have not even been trying.
And that's the only thing remarkable about you, stop me if I'm lying.

We are always outnumbered, but we were never out militia'd
There's no dignity for criminals, no ministry for the wicked
In this town if you make a sound you're the leper with the most fingers
The League of Extraordinary Nobodies, the other teams bringing in ringers
No faith in the majority, no hope for the little ones
Sally pulled a pistol out, Billy got a blunderbuss.
So what the fuck are you feeling that makes your struggle so wondrous?
Enough to arrogantly pull what's left of the rug out from under us?
I think not, you're in the same barrel all us other crabs are caught.
And if I have to live, you have to live; whether you like this shit or not."

Dedicated to the drowning, and the noble futility of the desperate friends forced to watch
(Never again)
And to my good friends who refused to allow it to happen to me
(Never again)
You know who you are, you know what I'm talking about
(Never again)
Believe me, man
I promise.

(Please note that the lyrics to El-P's most recent releases are mostly about drug binges. Check "Run The Jewels", an excellent album he did for free in 2012 with Killer Mike, for examples.)

And here are some of mine, to make El look more profound . . .

Hope Springs Eternal (first draft)

Mounted on a horse at a standstill, you weep tears of blood.
You weep tears of blood, for what can last?
[from the I Ching, hexagram 3]

The cauldron is overturning.
So long, Captain, it's been emotional.
Someone should throw in the towel, the gauntlet, the optional extras
Put those roses on your grave like the needles through your neck,
That last breath lasts forever.

And hope springs eternal.
Hope springs eternal.

Some spirals are stronger than love.
Some spirals are stronger than life.
Summer spirals take your soul down
whether or not you stand on hollowed ground
and profane your cheap exit with the echoes of your ghost.

And hope springs eternal,
don't forget it, babe.

Hope sends you places where you can't be saved
We've all gotta worship, just like the man said.
Our footsteps stain the one-way streets we paved.
And hope springs eternal.

Light one up for me.
Hope springs eternal.
End to endless vacancy.
Hope springs eternal.
There's no one listening to me.
Hope springs eternal.

And you take your water with you when you die.
I bear your mark forever, in and outside.
And if you're going down, to that wretched well-laid ground
Remember it's thirsty by this lonely riverside.

These scars will remain on my arms and in my brain
And hope springs eternal

Hope springs eternal from the holy killing ground, all around, not a sound
And never more than a shadow's step away.
Hope springs eternal and dries up infernal
A desert in your mouth, from Sinai to the oasis, take your places, take your places.
Hope springs eternal.

It's a barren wasteland everywhere, alone we make the perfect pair
Bob Hope glazed with Iggy's eyes, we open up and bleed my dear
Each last drop of poisoned water, crops that never disappear
Hope springs eternal.

Eternal, I tell you. Eternal, I sell you.
Time is lost behind the times, shining rhymes on a mind that no one's trying to find
No one's looking in the right place, no one sees your real face
Not even you, we both know that its true
And hope springs eternal.

Dare to stand weightless in patterns of gravity
Sleeping dogs lie in the maw of depravity
Chew and digest your sweet tooth's rotten cavity.
Hope springs eternal

Is Bob in town?
No, man, I'm hopeless. Staring straight at the butcher's block
A cleaver, you see, is a strange source of glee
Amputate your legs and try walking the walk.

Hope springs eternal, oh yes it does,
Somewhere where you'll never be.
In a place you'll never see.
It gives birth in its youth to a promise whose truth
leaves the stump of a slashed and burned tree.
And hope springs eternal.


Justice and Mercy

We've covered every angle now, we've left no turn unstoned.
There is no need to show us how each dark heart burns alone.
Justice and Mercy, Justice and Mercy
Tighten the noose to be free
And know that its true, if there's justice for you
There can never be mercy for me, oh no,
There can never be mercy for me.

We have our scars, tattoos, and marks, you can bet that we'll honor them well.
The prophet has spoken and every ear harks to the inevitable screams straight from hell.
Justice and Mercy, Justice and Mercy
Invocations to see us both through.
And set yourself free, if there's Justice for me
Or there won't be no Mercy for you, oh no,
There won't be no mercy for you.

(Bridge)
Twinned are the pillars and twined are our hearts
Distorted and ravaged by all these dark arts
Lust lost in confusion, lives wrapped in illusion
A great hole is the sum of its parts

We bridged the abyss with our fire, leaving each other's ash in our wake
I felt justified,strong,and inspired. Now there isn't much more I can take.
Justice and Mercy, Merciful Justice
Heaven's bent from its axis, God can't even trust us
If Justice descends, takes us both to our ends
His mercy alone will have crushed us.

I pray every day the Lord doesn't exist.
You pray you'll be meeting him soon.
Through a spike in your vein or a blade up your wrist.
It's time to see which. It's high noon.

Mercy and Justice, Justice and Mercy
Bow to the throne or just practice your curtsey.
Your mysterious ways are just too dark to see.
So find your own light and grant mercy to me.
Oh, babe, oh Lord, grant mercy to me.

(music changes, increase tempo, major chords)

And I've got joy, joy, joy in my exile tonight
Yeah, you've got joy, joy, joy in your bloodstream alright
Watch for karma on the road, if there's justice we'll explode
If there's Mercy then we might turn out alright
If there's mercy then we might turn out alright
If there's mercy someone might tun out the lights
And we'll have joy, joy, joy, joy, joy.
We'll have joy, joy, joy, joy, joy.

(no subject)
GrandpalaceBKK
teflpimpone
Spent today and yesterday doing a first pass edit on our coursebook. Somehow, Nop (the only semi-fluent English speaker aside from me at the company) sold the university a "course outline" plagiarized from at least 5 sources, none of which had anything to say about teaching in Thailand, which is the focus of the course. It was redundant, disorganized, often irrelevant, occasionally grammatically flawed (some sources were obviously NOT native speakers). I doubt anyone other than me has actually READ the whole thing - it's designed to impress people who like big words, but won't read them.

It's my solemn duty to turn this hodgepodge into a TEFL textbook, and also compile:

-A reference grammar guide for the English language (to be stolen from Entrust TEFL, Raymond Murphy, Michael Swann, and the Webster's pocket grammar dictionary).

-A resource kit of flashcards, activities, and worksheets. To be stolen mostly from Raymond Murphy, but I'm also taking a chapter of games Nop threw in the outline from the internet somewhere, all of Entrust's best worksheets, my own stuff from MWITS and ESBS, and a few pages of ESL Demystified, including their flashcard app in printed form.

- A Survival Guide to Thailand and Bangkok. Stolen from our course "outline" (in turn, stolen from wikipedia!), 2 Bangkok guides, transit maps, a book on Thai law, and an "Answers to all of Your Questions about Thailand" book.

- A Thai Language Survival kit. Copied whole from a decent pocket dictionary with decent transliterations that include tones. I may use the 'Thai Language' chapter of Nop's TEFL miasma here, too.

This is where intellectual property theft becomes both an art form, and a necessity.

Of course, it would never fly any place but Thailand. But I can probably pull it off in a month, since that's my main job right now. At least, it's new, and it's measurable. By the end of the next month, I'll either have five books or I won't. Although our clients will be able to judge them on quality, NONE of the principals involved in the program (other than me) will have a scoobie whether my work is any good or not. But it will be good. As good as I can make it. And I can always revise after the first couple printings, assuming they exist. Having the sources, the course, and doing the compilation will also be the groundwork for my own TEFL book, which will emerge far more slowly and be far more cited and less pilfered. I'm going to try to make this class work long enough to finish the book and sell it to . . . somebody. Asia Press might be interested.

The other part of my job is marketing. This is simply because Nop and I are the only 2 people with any prayer of being able to advertise this, and deal with the people we need to advertise it to. I have a nice company cell. Soon, it will be activated for unlimited international calls. If so, and you'll take my calls, expect a long chat in the near future.

OK, the first post was autobiographical, the next were a polemic describing why I don't live in America (a few of the reasons), the third was about a near-beating, this is about work . . . next, I plan to transcribe some of my recent (post-Laos) poetry and lyrics.

Of course, I have no readers other than my sister. For whom I am quite thankful. Yet, after having a captive audience most of the last 6 years, I find myself compelled to address one. One of the little-known pitfalls of a teaching career: you become addicted to having an audience pay attention to you. I shouldn't complain. If I really wanted readers, I should have swallowed my (insert unpleasant pride-like object here) and joined facebook. But I have a very strong and long-standing disdain for that service. So, until further notice, the ether will take my words. If you are reading them anyway, thank you.

Interlude
GrandpalaceBKK
teflpimpone
Remember how I said Thailand was a polite, fairly non-violent country? There are situations where this does not apply, and I just encountered one for the first time. An ugly Thai punk with a bandaged hand and a girl were riding a motorbike while I was walking back from making copies of course material. Bike fell. Guy started getting physical with girl. No police visible, no one closer than me (I was right next to them). I tried to verbally chill him out, before he hurt her. He got in my face. I asked him to stand down, and tried to get the girl a taxi. He picked up a rock and came at me. She and I grabbed his arm. He turned on her. I tried to get her away. Words were exchanged, him using his limited command of English to say "fuck you" and me using my limited Thai to tell him to "bai chok wow" (go fly a kite, or go fuck yourself). He picked up another rock. Then, I picked up a rock as well, to show that two could play this particular game. I am physically larger and stronger than him. I also rattled off his bike license number in Thai. The rocks were dropped. Stupid girl got back on the bike, surely to receive a beating when they return home. Knowing Thai law enforcement (and not having bribe money to get this asshole done properly), I'm just letting it go. Did I do the right thing? Who knows? I did what I could do.

Motto: assholes are everywhere.

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