Friday, June 11, 2010

Broken Toes, Conan and Chair Basketball

That could very well be the most bizzare, intriguing, confusing title I have ever written for a blog post. However, it will all make sense soon enough. Let me just get a few things out of the way:
1) Its finally nice here. Not metaphorically, or emotionally, but sunny, warm, and with copious amounts of daylight.
2) I forgot how to read or write for 8 months. Excuse me.
3) The official countdown has begun: 4 months left.

Ok, with that out of the way, June, has been very cruel and kind to me. I was blessed with two of my favorite people, Neil and Ashely, (or Nashely for the tabloids)for a visit to K-town. The way this trip started? Neil called and asked: "Do you want to two personal chefs?". Phenomenal time, and the world has introduced to the next great pizza creation: The Conan (recipe at the bottom). However, when life is up, it must come down. This cruel twist of fate was played out by my toe, which is now broken and was kind enough to leave a contusion in the arch of my left foot. So that sucks. I coach basketball 6 days a week, and this week I went to practice, set up a chair at the free throw line, and shot a couple hundred times. Kids actually thought this was better, and set up numerous chairs around me to participate. Good times with the kids.

BUT, you are still asking yourself: whats up with Conan? Well, Hollywood came to town. The big budget remake of the 1982 classic "Conan the Barbarian" was filming in Kavarna for a few days. Completely by chance I stumbled across the set, and was lucky enough to meet number 28 on the Maxim Hot 100 List, Rachel Nichols. Some times it just pays to be a peace corps volunteer,...

Conan Calzone

Buffalo wing sauce, 1 cup
Chicken breast 16 ounces
Diced onions, 1/2 cup
Blue cheese, 1/4 cup
Be a Barbarian

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Peter Pan Paintball

(Actual Conversation. I was saving this for my memoirs, but times change)

hey homie
never....ever....ever....wear a pair of mini shorts with cut out sides
i had this dream that you and I were meeting up to go paintball
and you showed up absolutely smashed
to go paintballing>

Neil: yea, so we were supposed to meet up to go paintball
me: ok,...
Neil: and then you showed up completely smashed and said that some british dudes got you drunk and made you dress up as peter pan
then you wanted to go buy candy to throw at greg, so you bought hard candies and we found greg in an arcade
me: ...
Neil: he was playing a motor cycle game which i begged to join in as the side car/gun operator man
and Jamie was there playing a rambo game
then otis jumped on my head!
and that woke me up

Friday, October 2, 2009

When Dogs Attack or Stare For an Uncomfortably Long Time

My daily run/run away from my troubles took place at a soccer field conveniantly located behind my bloc apartment. Usually my jog consists of willing myself to do 30 laps, but on a cold thursday in october, I had an unwelcome visitor. As I rounded the corner of my bloc, I hear what I think is a human walking, but with really noisy, hard bottomed shoes. What do my wandering eyes come upon but a dog the size of bethoveen (st. bernard, not deaf musican). Stray dogs are nothing new in my line of work, so I do a double take then be on my way. But no. This dog starts to mimick me. I go left, it (not he or she) goes left. I start to walk backwards but it keeps the same distance between us. My mind goes to straight to FOX's 'When Animals Attack" and every grizzly youtube video there is. In my arsenal at this moment I have 1) a house key 2) baggy running shorts, thanks in no small part to the prolonged case of food poisoning. And thats it. All I can think of at this point in terms of strategy is coughing really loud and shuffling my feet (damn sting rays). I am truly inbetween a rock and a man-eating monster. What could make this better? Three kids ride up on bikes, look at me, the bear, and decide they should stick around for the outcome. They sit down and stare. Popcorn could of been served and I would not have been surprised. Next thing I know, a 60 year old woman is behind me, and with no greater concern that an ant, she shoos the 'thing' away. Gives me a toothless smile, and walks away. Yeah,...thats Tuesday. Can't wait for Wednesday.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

When Hibernation Ends

Sometimes life can sneak up on you. Other times you can get food poisoning, a fever and all kinds of stomach aliaments which rhyme with Maria, and be stuck in bed for a week. Then, life hits you hard, like haunted house you didn't pay for or know about in advance. With that in mind, here's a run down of what has transpired since I became good friends with Pepto-Bismal:

'And the clouds doth parted, with golden rays illuminating all they touched as if from the hand of Jordan thine self"
Translation: The Athlethic Complex is finally finished making my life so, so wonderful. There is two full basketball courts, volleyball court and a tennis court. Dreams do come true.

I had no idea it would finish so quickly, almost being completed over a course of a long weekend. Then a few more things snuck up on me...

This next one was genuinely completed in one weekend andd took me by surprise.

Oh snap, the 'wind' of change has arrived in mural form. The Cold War is totally scared right now.

Life can't much better, unless someone decided to update the favorite ride of my childhood (and teenage years, and my 20's,..)

Star Tours II? Say what?

Well thats just freaking incredible...
And the single funniest tv show of all time is coming back with a 5th season?

Whats next; my favorite baseball team somehow teaming up with my favorite film franchise to produce an evening of unrivaled nerdom and amazing food? (the following is from the Dodger's Team Website)

                 "Join the Dodgers for a special celebration of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Saturday October 3rd when the boys in blue battle the Rockies. The festivities will include appearances by Star Wars and Clone Wars characters before and during the game and the entertainment will feature Star Wars trivia and clips throughout the night.

Sit in My Town on Star Wars Night and you'll enjoy an all inclusive menu featuring Cloneburgers with Cheese, R2-BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Ice Sabers (popsicles) plus you'll also receive a limited edition MY TOWN THIS IS t-shirt featuring Yoda! Space is limited in My Town so purchase your tickets today and may the force be with you.

Fans are encouraged to dress in their own STAR WARS costumes and for this special night only, are permitted to wear STAR WARS masks only in the My Town section.
Lightsabers will not be allowed into Dodger Stadium. "[emphasis added by me,...because that is the first time in pro sports history that sentence has been used]

With that said, all I can say is....(sound of person running down stairs, hailing a cab, pulling up to an airport, plane taking off...)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Duck and Cover

(Background on today's entry: I spent 13 years living in Orange County, between the formidable years of 8-21, which, before I arrived from the sunny skies of Seattle, Washington, was Earthquake country. I moved into my house 2 weeks after the infamous Northridge Earthquake, and 1/3rd of elementary school was spent 'preparing' for the big one. Jumping under my desk at the slighest sisemic movement was like watching Simpsons sunday, at 8pm: clockwork. However, I had the unusual experience of never actually being in an earthquake. During not one but THREE earthquakes I was out of the state. The one time there was supposedly a quake, I was in my pool, and naturally assumed with my preadolescant mind that my cannonball was just that awesome. Secondly, I was involved in a tremor during my college years at the UC Santa Cruz, and to be fair, was friday night, mid-way through a third game of beer pong. All I remember is my friend and roommate looking confused, and running for a door frame, while myself and my other roommate continued playing BP, not entirely sure if the Natty Ice was kicking in a little more than usual. With this resume of earthquake activitiy, the following story can commence)

(Oh, and I've been on the Earthquake ride at Universal Studios at least 15 times)

Time line: 10:30am- I am up at the crack of 10am, ready to start my day. Snooze button has only been hit twice, with 45 minutes intervals.

10:40- Omlette is cooked to perfection, or enough to satisfy my morning craving for anything eatible.

10:43-, feeds my other craving.

10:45- My world begins to shake, violently.

10:45:02- My mind tells me "hey, dude, this is an earthquake"

10:45:04- The following phrases go through my mind "Stop, drop and roll", "Point, aim, shoot", "Only you can prevent forest fires"....but nothing relative to Earthquake safety.

10:45:09- I realize that my apartment has no table to hide under, and is essentially the cabin of the SS Minnow.

10:45:11- Door frame! I jump out into the hall, do an Atlas pose in the doorway and hope for the best.

10:45:13- DAMNIT, my dvds are falling. Hours and hours spent alphabetizing...Arrested Development is now nestled next to X-Files,...years of theraphy will be needed to erase this.

10:45:15- Phew, the tectonic plates have stopped gettin' their grove on. The world returns to normal.

10:45:17- I realize what I am wearing: Boxer briefs,...and only boxer the hallway of my apartment building.

Official report: According to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center, the earthquake was of the magnitude of 4,7 on the Richter scale with an epicenter 61 km east of Varna, 24 km east of Kavarna and 20 km southeast of Shabla.

[The DVDs are now safely back in their there place. Let's call take a deep breath]

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Week That Was

Few things can stop me in my track: A hundred dollar bill, a Swedish Super model with a film question, two tickets to the Superbowl, OR......A poster for "Bangkok Dangerous" Bulgarian. There is one lonely DVD rental store in town, and its open about once every 4 days. However, they do a pretty good job keeping a new rotation of posters in the windows, and on July 15th, a ray of light in the form of Nic Cage rained down from Heaven. I simply stared at this poster in the window for a solid 30 seconds, went into the store to find a) it was actually open, b) posters inside were even more amazing and c) a 14 year old girl was the sole employee. I politely said, in my best Bulgarian, "I want that poster". She looked at me...there was a brief second of awkwardness,...she replied "this one?" And then as soon as I answered, it was rolled up in front of me. She wouldn't even let me pay for it. She just smiled, and said "enjoy".

Bruce Willis has crossed the Pond,...and all of Europe to arrive in Bulgaria, in the form of a new billboard for Vodka. (Picture coming shortly) But until then, imagine Jon McClaine with his trademark smirk, black leather jacket, and leaning on,...a giant medieval sword. Priceless.

In the rolladex of my friends, I can add one very important piece: special agent. I met someone who works for the Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration, and sure enough when he handed me his card, it said "Special Agent".

On when of my frequent trips to the beach, I noticed an american football laying next to an umbrella (this is a rare occurance, like Sasquasch). I got a little excited over the prospect of an american, or just someone who is a fan of the old pigskin/synthetic leather. I am within 10 feet of the ball, when two kids run over, and start playing with the ball,...with there feet,...and proceed to kick it around for a solid 20 minutes. NFL Europa, why did you leave us??

And lastly, I have a new addition to "Ways you can butcher the name 'Tobias'". I spent a good 6 hours getting to know someone last weekend, and at the conclusion of the day, the customary "hey, let me get your number" comment came up, and I punched in my digits in this persons phone, and after a slight pause typed in my name. I took a quick glance to see if the number was correct and saw before me "Thabayas".

Thats all for now. Hope all is well and good in the homeland

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


To summarize: The best and most effective way to meet 70's era rock stars is to join Peace Corps Bulgaria.

Super nice guy, that John Lawton. The Youth Center I work at created a mosaic for him (only 7,000 individual pieces) and I happened to be having breakfast in the same restaurant. My co-worker casually asks me "Would you like to meet John Lawton?" I wieghed my options, realized I had finished eating, looked at my confused friends all mouthing to each other "who is John Lawton" and went for it....all for you blog readers.

(and in case you were wondering, take a look at this 'Spinal Tap'-esque clip)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Drafting Dreams

Remember when watching the NBA Draft still left a feeling of "one day, that could be me"? Those days before the spirit crushing of 'cuts' in high school sports, or a time before 'playing time' became an issue. A simpler time when playing was just playing; not trying to impressive or prove your manhood on every single posession. With the NBA Draft taking place this morning (or night for those lucky few in the Pacific Time Zone,...not GMT+2) I had a profound sensation of years past, and the wonder and awe that came with seeming giants walk on to a stage, hold a randomly colored jersey and an ill fitting hat. The mystery and allure it created was enough to get any kid away from SNES and in the drive way shooting jump shots until his arms went numb. Of course, the sheer reality of poor genetics, ashtma, or just plain lousy athletic ability squashed many of these dreams right around the time when you started to notice girls. But this morning, seeing flashbacks to previous drafts, even highlights of Charles Barkley walking to the podium in a burdandy suit, or big Shaq Diesel looking like the happiest kid, and even the rain man, Shawn was like being 8 again, thinking that one day that could be me.

And then Stuart Scott had to say this: "Number 5 pick, Rick Rubio is the first player to be selected who was born after 1990"

Well, thanks Stu. I don't feel old at all.

And in a completely unrealted topic, I've told all the kids I coach in basketball to only refer to me as "Coach Bombay" and we repeatedly chant "2018 is our time to shine"

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Daye Tok r Jobbbss"

Random notes from a week of Intrigue and Suspense

-Bulgarian with excellent English skills asks "Are you from Utah?". I said no, and asked why he made this assumption. He told me "Everyone from Utah is coming to Bulgaria to take our jobs".....and then stunned silence.

-Was told I look like a hippie and offered a 100 lev to cut my hair. However, the man offering the money was rocking a glorious Billy-Ray mullet, with more than its fair share of "party".

-Saw 'Terminator: Salvation". Final count of scenes with Christian Bale yelling: 11

-Danced with a babba, showed bulgarians how to do the salt shaker move (thats all I got) and then was freaked by another babba.

-Met a Canadian paratrooper on shore leave from Afghanistan....ay

-In Bulgaria, before you drink it is customary to toast with the words "Nas Gravi", which translates to "to your health". In a particulary occurance, Bulgarians like to show off their foriegn language skills and say "cheers" around me. Now, on the basketball court, whenever I sneeze, the kids say "cheers".

And its summer offically. Take it easy everyone; the calendar says so

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"You guys want to basket?"

Roughly 1/3rd of my life is consumed by by the semi-religion known as basketball. Luckily, I have discovered a group of like minded individuals who live and breathe b-ball (or as it is commonly referred to as "let's play basket"). I've been playing 6 days a week (Sunday is 'Grey's Anatomy' day) and there is a constant 6-10 people playing with me. Some days I will play with kids born after Y2K, other times it will be high schoolers and even a few guys older than myself. No matter the age range, its good times. A few highlights:

- Some one asked me "Who is better: Kobe or Lebron?" and I started to break down their respective games, when a boy walked by and said with complete confidence "Jermaine O'Neal".

- Middle of a game, tied up, 2 points away from the end, and someone casually walks off the court, lights up a cigarette, takes a couple puffs, and rejoins the game.

- Playing with the 2 foot terror squad aka 3rd graders, I dribbled around one then went for a lay up. One kid, Mitko, demanded the ball, proceeded to jump up and down, dribble as fast as he could and throw the ball somewhere in the vicinity of the hoop. And then proclaimed "As sum Tobeee!" ('I am Toby). Which led to everyone else on the court trying to dribble wildly, and anoint themselves "As sum Tobe 2!", "As sum Tobe 3!", etc. I was told I could have 'Tobe 0".

- A new verb has sprung up: 'I kobied that!"

- No matter how many years pass, fake retirements, bad movies or new stars emerge, one constant shall remain in Eastern European basketball courts: Michael Jordan is still king.

[I always forget to bring my camera, so I don't have any pictures. This image seems to do a good job illustrating my job in teaching basketball....or not, just makes me laugh] Hope all is well across the pond, in it, and all around it.

p.s. Its Panda-monium!

[Care of "warmingglow"]