Bullitt's Bros

Saturday, July 03, 2010


You know those Kung-Fu movies where an old master can send a younger upstart sprawling seemingly without moving a finger? That's Aikido, the art of using your opponents energy against them. My dad is the Aikido master of passive aggression and today he sent me flying through a plate-glass window without moving a muscle. Metaphorically.

As is usual, he woke me up early to ask about where I'd want to go for breakfast... Or more accurately, where he wants to go for breakfast while pretending I wanted to go there.

"Where do you want to go, Daddo?"
"Oh it is fine. Wherever you would like to go."

This line means the opposite of what it says.

"So where would you like to go?"
"Perhaps Burger King?"

Crap. I do not want to go to Burger King. But, this being the master of passive aggression, I don't exactly know how to get out of that.

"If we go to Burger King, though, I want to get it to go. I don't want to eat in a Burger King."
"Perhaps Bob Evans?"

Okay, this is much better. I actually like Bob Evans and it's fast and I have to go for a meeting in not too long.

"Great, let's go to Bob Evans."

So in the car, Dad makes his move... Bob Evans was just a head fake as it turns out.

"Burger King is closer than Bob Evans."

This translates into, "You are more likely to walk on the sun than eat at Bob Evans today."

Fine. Whatever. I really don't want to go to Burger King but he's set on it so I can deal with it for one day.

"Fine. But we are going to the drive through."

So at the drive through I order.

"I'll take a... number four, I guess. With coffee. Can I get anything else than coffee?"
"Orange juice or soda."
"Okay, fine. Coffee. Dad, what do you want?"
"Oh, nothing."

Wait a second...

"Nothing? Are you having trouble reading the drive through window?"
""No, I ate breakfast at home."

So there it is... Dad didn't even want to eat at Burger King but he forced me to go there anyway. Dad is the gold medalist of passive aggression. No one else is even close.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time-Warner, put-upon little guy!

I recently received the following email from Time-Warner Cable. My comments are interspersed with theirs. See if you can tell who's who!

You’ve probably heard the news by now. In a few short days, some of your favorite shows could disappear from your TV.


At Time Warner Cable, we’re not happy about this – and we know our customers aren’t happy about it either. But we want you to have the facts, and we want you to be prepared.

Oh shit. Like, earthquake prepared? Like, I'm gonna need water?

Even in today’s economy, some television networks are demanding massive price increases for their programming – up to 300% more than the current price we pay. And with our agreements with these networks running out at the end of December, some networks have threatened to pull the plug on their sports, entertainment – even family holiday specials – at midnight New Year’s Eve.

I'd miss the post-New-Year's-Eve family holiday specials? No more Captain January? No more MLK, Jr. Power Hour?!


We know prices keep going up. We’ve had to announce a few price increases of our own and we know no one’s ever happy about that. But up to 300%? That’s going too far!

I could have lived with 290. But 300%?! Those monsters!

Please be assured that we will continue negotiating for a fair agreement that protects our customers’ pocketbooks. But if the TV networks follow through on their threats – we’re ready. You’ll find a helpful guide to alternative sources for programming at RollOverOrGetTough.com, so you’ll still be able to watch many popular shows even if a television network pulls the plug.

Guys, Time Warner is literally begging the TV companies to keep their shows on Cable, but Time Warner can't help but to cease carrying all their signals if their begs are ignored!

Don’t let them hold your TV hostage. Go to RollOverOrGetTough.com now and let us know what you think.

Don't roll over, Time Warner! I know you can get tough with them! Why, you've gotten tough with me almost every time we've done business together!

Together, we just might make a difference in what America pays for TV.

If anyone knows a district Time Warner can be congressman of, please let me know!

I want them to fight for me.

And my right to pay only $104 a month for non-premium cable.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Our Disturbing Cats

Our cats have a bad habit. They scratch bits of the rug off their cat tree and then eat the carpet-leavings. I assume all their carpet-munching is due to the fact that they were raised by lesbians.


[Note: this post has been edited.]

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Certifiable Confusions

So, in case you didn't know, my mom is a proud birther. Today we had this conversation:

MOM: He's not a citizen because his father wasn't a citizen when he was born. Both your parents have to be American citizens for you to have citizenship.
ME: Wait...so I'm not an American citizen?
MOM: What? No! Uh...wait. Look, it's not...look, he's trying to be president!
ME: Wait...so I can't be president?
MOM: Ha! No! Look, Bobcat, his father wasn't a citizen. He was a student when Obama was born.
ME: But Dad was a student when I was born.
MOM: No, but he was a resident alien.
ME: So your parents have to be resident aliens?
MOM: Look, I don't remember all the things, I'd have to do research, but things changed between then and now. Anyway, why can't he just show the damn certificate?!

I wish he would!

Later on, we talked about what to get my brother for his birthday.

MOM: I think we should get him a gift certificate.
ME: I agree, but we have to be careful that it's a real gift certificate and not a certificate of live gift.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thai Food

I would have offered this post on Thai food earlier, but I wanted to wait until about the last day to get an overview of things. This strategy has an advantage: I have a fairly clear impression about Thai food, which is the hard-won fruit of my eating a whole bunch of stuff. On the other hand, there is a disadvantage: I don't remember half of what I ate, at least in any detail. Nonetheless, I'll give it the old grad school try.

I start with some disappointment: by and large, the Thai food in restaurants is, in my opinion, nothing special. Wife and I went to some recommended restaurants in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ko Lanta, and Ko Samui, and almost none of them blew my socks off. Generally, the fancy restaurants are pretty pricey--say, $100 for two people, which is a lot in Thailand--and in most cases they're not the kind of place you'd rave about to a friend.

Now, I want to qualify this "nothing special" assessment. The food in many of these restaurants is still Thai food, and Thai food is delicious. So I don't want to give the impression that the food is not good. It's very good, if you like Thai food, but it doesn't blow away the Thai food in the States. With one exception: the mango sticky rice here is to fight over. Wife and I had several sticky rice wars, in fact, with us usually evenly dividing the spoils. Some of the mangoes here are very fresh, the sticky rice is always well-cooked, and the sauce they put on the whole concoction--heated coconut milk with melted palm sugar and sesame seeds--is divine. It's salty, sweet, and gives the dish a soupçon of yumminess. More than just a soupçon, actually; more like three to five soupçons.


There is a flip-side to this disappointing verdict: while the restaurant food is nothing special, the street food surely is.

Just in case you don't what I mean by street food, I'm talking about small vendors with carts, frying pans, portable heaters, etc., who cook up one or more kinds of dishes and charge a small fee (between 30 cents and $5) for them. There is a lot of street food in Thailand. Like, it bespeckles the streets and is available at most every hour of the day. There's a fair number of mango sticky rice vendorsa--always worth a trip--and lots of people selling roti filled with bananas, or honey, or chocolate, or jam, or some combination of the above. In most cases, the roti were like a cross between crepes and pancakes. Thicker than crepes, but chewier than pancakes (and greasier. Yum!). Never more than $1 either.

The most impressive areas for food, though, were in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. In Bangkok the place that thrilled was the food court of the Siam Paragon, reputed to be the fanciest mall in Bangkok (and, I assume, Thailand). There were, first of all, all manner of restaurants: portuguese chicken purveyors, Thai-Italian fusion, Thai-French fusion, Mexican food, Japanese food, Indian food, New Zealand food; but there was also a strange semi-circle of booths, each of which sold intriguing food. There were white, boiled chickens (headless), as well as red, long-cooking ducks (headful) hanging from hooks; lots of stews, most of them clear, but at least one dark, and floating with crispy pork; coils of fried noodles; lots of dumplings, some steamed pale, some fried brown, all apparently filled with deliciousness; and all manner of vegetables. Today, I ate at Siam Paragon, and had some dynamite chicken Tikka Masala and garlic naan. The naan was buttered, and the chicken was charcoaly and high-quality, while the sauce was mild but still had a bit of kick. To wash it down, I had, first, a guava juice, and second, a blueberry smoothie.

Siam Paragon is good--I plan on having some more later today--but the place where the street food really sang was Chiang Mai's Sunday Walking Market.

Chiang Mai's Sunday walking market is a delight. Every Sunday, the city of Chiang Mai cordons off one of its more interesting streets from car traffic and just lets in foot traffic. It's set up on a fairly long street, Ratcha... Rama... well, it's some massively besyllabled name beginning with an "Ra". It think it's Ratchadamuran, but I can't be bothered to find out right now. I'm writing from an Internet cafe, and time is money. Anyway, Ratchawhatever gets filled up with happy Thais and tourists interested in seeing what's all this, then? Along the way, there are wats--Buddhist temples--with Thais giving offerings, burning incense, or praying (on the night we went, there was also a 70-year old Thai Elvis impersonator sitting right outside the front of one wat; we tried to get a picture, but I'm afraid it's rather blurry), and Westerners looking at the nice designs. Most important from my point of view, though, was the food.

It was the best food I had in Thailand.

First, wife got the best roti-dessert I had ever had. It was crunchy, chewy, and filled with bananas and chocolate. It was just a step beyond all the other roti. But I got the best dish I ever had: braised, sweet pork literally pulled off the pig, laid atop a bed of rice with a soupçon of a mildly sweet sauce. Trust me when I tell you it's better than you or I. In addition, I had a perfect strawberry shake (take twelve sweet strawberries, put them in a blender with ice, and blend. It works!) and I'm sure a bunch of other stuff. Moreover, there was some really tasty-looking roasted honey chicken that I didn't have room in my stomach for, and an odd black jelly, supposedly coming from a tree if I remember correctly (and I never do), gooped onto some crushed ice and syrup. It didn't look good, but it did look weird.

So much for the Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Market. So much for street food. I just have a couple odds and ends to add.

First, worth its own mention is the Thai proclivity for juice. They love the stuff. Seemingly every foodery has fruit juice, fruit shakes, and fruit smoothies, and they come in all manner of flavor: watermelon, kiwi, guava, lychee (my favorite), mango, jackfruit (it tastes like a cross between an apple and sugarcane), orange, dragonfruit, and others. They are good. We need to do this in the States.

Second, wife and I discovered one of those delicious holes-in-the-wall you always hear about but rarely find; a place called Da's kitchen. It was an Indian restaurant in Ko Lanta run by a family of Thai Muslims, and they had maybe the best naan and certainly the best roti I've ever had. I hesitate to describe the naan as the best I've ever had because it was so different. Really chewy, not crunchy, and sharp in flavor.

Third, Thais cannot make a hamburger to save their lives. Which leads me to conclude:

U-S-A! U-S-A!!!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Superthai, Part 2: He Is Real

In my haste to write down my main findings regarding the mysterious creature known as "Mr. Sexyman", I neglected to add some other details about my hike, also important. 

1. Did I mention, for example, that he picked the lock to wife's and my room? It's true. The door had accidentally been locked from the inside before we got there, and so we couldn't open it. I don't know what he did, but he took a key--not the key to open the lock; we could have done that--and slipped it against something in the door and opened it. Not that impressive, I know, but it adds to his mystique somewhat. 

2. He's a waiter. And a very good cook. In addition to being superhuman. Not that impressive, I know, but remember, he does more besides waiter and cook. He also catches fish with his bare fucking hands. 

3. He took most of our pictures for us. I know, anyone can take pictures, but it was nice!

4. He speaks limited English. But get this: he also speaks just as limited French and German. 

5. Remember how he got no mosquito bites? Well, he also never gets bitten by leeches. His explanation? "I am too dark." 

6. Remember how he caught a chameleon with his bare hands, and it squeaked when he caught it? Well, really, the most impressive part of that is the fact that he SPOTTED. A. CHAMELEON. In fact, he spotted three, though he could only catch one. 

7. While he was catching fish, spotting chameleons, and building vine-bridges, he also smoked. Like, the whole time. Moreover, they were hand-rolled cigarettes, rolled in dried palm leaves. 

8. He honeymoons in Munich. 

9. He envied our upcoming 18-hour plane ride. His reasons: "Relax, go to bathroom, sit." 

10. After the 7 hr. 30 min. trek with wife and me, he had another trek, that night. It was a 3 hour trek. He saw some barking deer. The next morning, he had another long trek. 

11. Unsurprisingly, after our adventure with Mr. Sexyman, I had to learn more about him. So I talked to Sherry, our friendly, well-speaking English Thai. I asked her what the deal was with Mr. Sexyman. Like, what's his real name? It's not Mr. Sexyman, is it? 
Well, yes and no. The thing is, because Thais have such a thriving tourism industry, and because Thais have enormously complicated names, many of them have nicknames. For instance, Sherry's real name isn't "Sherry". It's something complicated, but it sounds vaguely like "Sherry", hence her nickname. Mr. Sexyman's real name is "Sum Ium", which means "gentleman." Naturally, he transmogrifies it to "Sexyman." 

12. It turns out that Mr. Sexyman has been working as a guide only for a year. He's a freak of nature when it comes to trekking, and he's been doing it only for a year. How the hell is that possible? 
Well, before he was a guide, Mr. Sexyman was a hunter. In fact, his father was a very good hunter, and when Mr. Sexyman was young, he lived in the rainforest with his dad. Let me repeat: since the age of five or something, Mr. Sexyman lived in the forest. That's right, Mr. Sexyman is Blanca from Streetfighter 2
He and his dad specialized in hunting elephants. Legend has it, in fact, that one killed a man, and he and his dad walked to Burma to kill it. It's like The Princess Bride, except the six-fingered man is an elephant. 
Eventually, though, the Thai government made hunting elephants--who are the national symbol of Thailand--illegal. So he and his dad had to close up shop. After that, he hopped from island to island, working in beach resorts. Then he ended up in Khao Sok National Park, helping steward the rainforest, along with a lot of other former hunters (only he, though walked along the jagged rocks barefoot). 
13. So that explains Sexyman's super-powers. In addition, I also learned--and I admit, the details are hazy--that he rescued some German hikers who ran out of water by cutting open the right kind of vine that happened to have potable water running through it. On another occasion, he built a make-shift tent for himself out of tree-branches in the top of a tree and slept there. 

14. During the trip, he asked us where we were going to stay when we got to Ko Samui. We said "The Library", which is where we are now (it's fantastic. One of the most luxurious hotels I've ever stayed in). He said, "No...stay at King Bungalow! Very cheap!" We said sorry, we already paid for the room. He later asked us again to stay at King Bungalow. We once again declined. Later, we asked Sherry why he was so hot for King Bungalow. Turns out he wants to work on Ko Samui. So he's got a good instinct for selling!

15. One last thing: after the trip, we were dirty, wet, and tired. We each took showers. So did Mr. Sexyman--in the river. Remember, he's a legendary monster from the rainforest. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I know I promised a posting on food, but this is too good to not immediately write down. Here we go:

Ed, the father of my friend Mikey Y, is the stuff of legends. I don't remember too many specifics, but I'm pretty sure he's beaten up two guys at once and wielded a chainsaw with one arm while standing on a ladder. And, he's, like, a nuclear physicist or something. (Mikey can elaborate in the comments.) Despite Mikey's earnest claims, I never fully believed everything he said. I felt that his tales had the air of embellishment. People like Ed just don't exist, or if they do, then books are written about them and we've all heard of them (e.g., Bo Grice).

But count me a doubter no longer. Why? Not because I met Ed. No, because I met another man. His name? Mr. Sexyman.

Now, you might think that "Mr. Sexyman" is not Mr. Sexyman's real name. And you would, I'm sure, be right. But whatever his real name is, it's lost to the sands of time. For even fellow Thais refer to him as Mr. Sexyman.

So what's this guy's deal? Well, to tell you that, I have to step back and explain something about my situation.

Let me inform you a bit of my itinerary for this Thailand honeymoon. Wife and I started in Bangkok, then we went to Chiang Mai, then we went to Ko Lanta (a small island with incredible beaches--The Beach was filmed there, or somewhere very near there), and then we want to Khao Sok national park.

Khao Sok national park demarcates the oldest rainforest in the world--160 million years old. It's an ecological treasure, of course, but more important from my point of view: it has monkeys.

Monkeys are hilarious. I've seen them before in zoos and on nature documentaries, but I've never seen them when they've seen me. Along with eating really good movie popcorn, this is one of my dreams (I'm a man of very attainable dreams; wife has even more attainable dreams. Her great wish is to one day drink a margarita near the beach or a pool. She has lived the dream something like fifteen times). So, I was an interested party in Khao Sok.

When we got there, we were greeted by Sherry, the most helpful Thai I had (up to that point) ever met. She spoke excellent English and knew all about how to get from one part of Thailand to another. She hooked us up for tours and such.

Then we were shown to our room. Wow, it was terr... uh, it was rustic. It cost something like $15 a night, so we were doing pretty well. After settling in our room, we made our way to the inn where we were staying and had some food.

It was there we first met Mr. Sexyman.

He didn't seem like anything much. A very dark-skinned Thai who loved drinking and smoking. He looked fit, and he was very good at Jenga. That was pretty much all I got from him. Oh, and his English was pretty good. He informed us that he would be our guide. He also tried to convince us to go on a more demanding tour than the one we were signed up for. But since we were sick we declined.

It was a good move.

The next day, we met Mr. Sexyman in the inn, and it was off from there to Khao Sok national park. Now, Khao Sok has two areas: a path, full of small, separated rocks, and the rainforest, full of brambles, snakes, and what-not. We were informed that we'd need a lot of bug spray and good hiking shoes. We duly obliged. And what about Mr. Sexyman?

No bug spray. Barefoot.


Yup. He insisted on walking the entire time, on jagged rocks, barefoot.

It must be a Thai thing! Surely all the other guides were barefoot?

Nope. Just him.

I thought to myself, "what a badass."

As we walked further--maybe half an hour--Mr. Sexyman suddenly started up. He heard something. I heard nothing. He then started making some kind of call.

Nothing happened.

Then, about five minutes later? Monkeys.

Yup. He can call monkeys. He can also tell when they're in a 1,500 foot radius. In fact, not only can he tell when they're near and draw them out, he can see them (and point to them) when we haven't the foggiest idea what he's seeing.

Anyway, the monkeys came. Dream fulfilled. They skittered down to the forest floot, and a baby monkey scurried toward some pineapple Mr. Sexyman had cut up for them. He carried it away eagerly.

Wow. I'm starting to get very attracted to Mr. Sexyman.

Then, after walking us for about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, we took a break. I thought, "this isn't so bad." Then we got on the real trail.

This was the most treacherous, draining hike I've ever been on. Let me spoil the surprise and tell you that the hike lasted a total of 7 hrs. 30 min. And the terrain! Holy crap. The steepest inclines and declines I've ever walked up or down without having to literally climb (sometimes I had to literally climb). Mr. Sexyman walked it all no problem. In fact, throughout the course of the hike, he lost his balance just two times, for incredibly brief periods of time.

I can't communicate to you how amazing that feat is. Just trust me--the man has the balance of a land-ninja.

After about twenty minutes walking through this territory, wife and I were pouring sweat. It was wetting my shirt, dripping on my glasses, mussing up my hair, etc. Mr. Sexyman? Didn't break a sweat.


Not for the whole hike.

Then, we got to the main sight of our hike: a nice waterfall with a pool at the bottom where you can swim. So wife and I swam--we needed to cool off, and good Lord it was cold. Like, you never get warm in it, you just get numb. And while we swam (and ate lunch) Mr. Sexyman kept to himself a bit and carved something. What did he carve?

Two bamboo cups.

Yup, he just made two cups for us while we were swimming.

Then he caught a fish with his bare hands.

That's right, some real Tom-Hanks-in-Castaway-near-the-end-of-the-movie shit, he just reached his hand in the pond we were swimming in and caught a fish. In fairness, it took him three tries to do this.

After that, we took a different way back. Along the way, he swiped suddenly at a tree. I heard a strange squealing sound and then I looked into his hand.

He had caught a chameleon with his bare hands.

Then, for the topper, we took a different way back, and came to some rapids. Apparently, most people swam across these rapids, because the rocks you had to traverse were too separated to step across.

So I guess we have to swim?


Mr. Sexyman cut (with his machete) some thick vines from the forest canopy, hooked one set to the trees on our side of the river, skipped across the rocks, hooked another vine to the other canopy, skipped to the middle and tied these thick vines together with his bare hands, and made a rope hanger for us to hold on to so we could cross the rapids without getting wet.

It took him half an hour. Maybe twenty minutes.

I am not making this up.

So I believe Mike about his dad. I've met Mr. Sexyman. I might even believe that Aleks Emelienko hunted a bear with nothing but a knife. After all, I've met Mr. Sexyman.

He's not perfect, though. He asked a lot of personal questions.