Tired of spending your hard-earned vacation money on some popular destination, only to find out that it’s so yesterday?  Wouldn’t you like to be in the avant-garde for once, instead of bringing up the rear on a pokey donkey, as always?  Well, now you can!  There is a place that is not yet on tourists’ radar but will be before long.  That place is Snuol, Cambodia (or, as it is also called, Angk Snuol). 

    Conan O’Brien calls it “the most brilliant unknown vacation spot on earth.”  And you will, too.  Happy Cambodians are eagerly awaiting your arrival.  They love Westerners.  Angelina Jolie found her first adopted baby in Snuol.  And now Madonna says that Snuol is her next stop if things don’t work out in Malawi.  They’re in the know!

    You’ll fly to Kratie and then ride south by bus on Highway 7 about fifty miles to Snuol.  (Keep your camera ready for the fabulous Temple of Golonka, half-way along, on your left.  It was one of the locations used in the 1970 movie Horror of the Blood Monsters.)

    If you could float above Snuol and look in all directions, you would see an amazing array of environments: to the north, forested hills of cedar, mahogany, and baobob; to the east, endless fields of artichokes, pumpkins, strawberries, barley, and beets; to the south, a wind-swept mesa populated by penguins; and to the west, a painted desert of cacti, vultures, and gila monsters.  The area around Snuol is a zoologist’s dream, hosting many rare species, including the flying moose squirrel, the red elephant goldfish, Swanson’s screaming bat, the pink-nosed iguana, the tiger anteater, the worm hawk, the trumpet-eared monkey, the Mimico diving giraffe, the Hungarian zipper snake, the Corinthian warthog, the barking sand toad, the gunga viper, the buzzsaw moth, the wild buffalo chicken, Hondo’s chameleon mole, Corman’s monster crab, and the blue-speckled burping manatee.  Exotic fauna are too numerous to list, but visitors will not want to miss the Snuol Museum of Slime Mold, which was established by a generous grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    On the outskirts of Snuol, Donald Trump will be breaking ground later this year on a 50-story condominium/hotel/casino complex, which will be the tallest building in Cambodia.  Until that’s finished, you can avail yourself of the more-than-satisfactory amenities of the Park Inn, Snuol’s only hotel.  Manager Betty Liu was hired in 2006 to clean the place out after the Giant Spider Invasion and now confidently promises, “No spider you will see, or your room it will be free!”  Liu is an enthusiastic booster of Cambodia: “Very honest country.  Very progressive government.  No corruption.”  Rooms at the Park Inn are only $55 U.S. per night.  Cheap!

    Snuol people are friendly.  And most of them speak some English.  But you’ll make a really grand impression on them if you use these handy phrases in Khmer:

    “I am happy to meet you.”  (“Choi ch’kai anh.”)

    “It is very pleasant here.”  (“Choi k’det anh.”)

    “I am looking for the toilet.”  (“Choi k’doi anh.”)

    “I will see you later.”  (“Choi mai misa pang.”)

    “Thank you.”  (“K’daw.”)

    “You’re welcome.”  (“K’doi.”)

    “I would like this one, please.”  (“K’doi mai vi’en.”)

    Don’t be surprised to see warthogs on the streets.  (I’m referring to the common Cambodian warthog, not the rare Corinthian one.)  People have been feeding them for years, so they have lost their fear of people and now walk into town, expecting to be fed.  But don’t feed them!  There is now an ordinance against it. 

    Snuol’s great urban myth is the existence of videos of women having sex with warthogs.  Some people say they were produced by the Khmer Rouge to raise money.  Others say they were produced by friends of former King Sihanouk.  And still others say they were produced by officials of Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (an allegation they hotly deny).  Almost everyone swears these videos exist, but no one claims actually to have seen one (perhaps because there are very few VCR’s in Snuol). 

    Well, even if you can’t feed the warthogs or watch videos of warthogs fucking women, you can at least eat warthogs — at The Tusk, one of Snuol’s restaurants.  The owner is an American expat, Justin Franchi Solondz, who is a self-taught cook.  The food is, shall we say, interesting.  The “warthog with truffles” is served with a gravy containing brown clumps that we sincerely hope are the truffles, or at least some kind of mushroom.

    Oddly enough, all the restaurants in Snuol are run by non-Cambodians.  The Oriental Garden (pretty good mainstream Chinese) is run by Harris Dempsey Ballow.  Bagelicious (Kosher, fair-quality, cheap) is run by Chaim Yehuda Reich.  Seventh Heaven (good but overpriced soul food) is run by Odowa Roland Okuomosa.  The Olive Tree (Italian, not the best) is run by Juris Teteris.  Khmer Pizza, run by Fernando  Grijalva, is reasonably good, but avoid any toppings that are still moving before they hit the oven.

    Snuol’s most unusual attraction is the Elvis Park — a large, complex maze of hedges with statues of American music stars scattered throughout.  It’s an odd collection.  In addition to Elvis Presley, you will find the Everly Brothers, Black Sabbath, the Beach Boys, Ricky Nelson, Chuck Berry, Alice Cooper, Neil Sedaka (a god in Cambodia!), the Supremes, Eddie Van Halen, Bobby Darin, the Big Bopper, Bill Haley, Johnny Cash, and Frank Zappa.  (Rumor has it that Adam Lambert will be next!)

    I met Kem Sopranei, Cambodia’s leading Elvis impersonator, who comes home to Snuol between big-city gigs.  He’s an e-mail pal of Miley Cyrus and Julianne Hough.  He wants them to come over to Cambodia so he can fuck them.  “You Westerners have a strange misconception about Asian women,” he insists.  “You think they know all these secret sexual techniques.  They don’t.  They’re duds compared to American women.  American women are the best at every sort of sex.  Cambodian women are only good for cooking.”  An expert speaks!

    The Mayor of Snuol, Parthasarathie (“Call me Perry”) Kapoor, took me on a terrifyingly high-speed motorcycle ride into the country to show me the fields of artichokes (Snuol is the artichoke capital of Asia).  We also stopped to look at Angelina Jolie’s estate, which is vacant most of the year but nevertheless well-maintained by admiring volunteers.  Perry is a fearsome card player, by his own account, and he claims to have cleaned out Heng Samrin and Chea Sim, two high-ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party, in an all-night poker game.  They threatened to have him killed, but he’s sure they didn’t mean it.  (Perry also confided to me that he had made a great deal of money investing with Bernard Madoff.  And where is it now?  In a bank in Panama.)

    Don’t go home without loading up on Cambo Cigarettes.  They are excellent and very cheap.  I smoke them, and so should you.  Give them to your children, too.  And if you’re returning to New York City, you can shove a pack up Michael Bloomberg’s ass.

    For now, Snuol is the cheap and brilliant vacation — cheaper than anything advertised in the Travel section of your newspaper.  But once the word gets around, it’ll cost more, so don’t wait!

    Recommended vaccinations: Hanta virus, Zabunga virus-A, swine pseudorabies.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

Advertisements

    Ten years ago, if you had told a travel agent you wanted to go to Darfur, he would have given you a clueless look.  This western region of Sudan was unknown to the traveling public.  Today it’s one of the hottest, trendiest tourist destinations on earth.  And the Number One go-to spot in Darfur is the beautiful, vibrant city of Nyala.

    A huge surge of opportunity-seekers has transformed what was once a modest, dignified little town into a colorful urban spectacle, spreading out in all directions beneath the warm, benevolent African sun.  Its skeptics have been silenced, its believers vindicated.  Nyala is a city on the move, generating excitement and eliciting the awe and envy of an entire continent.

    As you approach Nyala’s international airport, which handles sixty flights a day to and from all points of the compass, you are struck by the dramatic development radiating outward from the “Old City” — freeways, shopping centers, condos, commercial high-rises, luxury estates, rich fields of grain and vegetables, orchards, cattle and sheep ranches, and the Water World theme park.  Maybe not Paradise, but darn close!

    Tourism is very important to Nyala, of course, but the economy is diverse.  The city boasts the largest call center in Africa, serving such clients as IBM, British Airways, Pfizer, Hudson Bay Master Card, Domino’s Pizza, and Humiliation PhoneSex (West Bromwich, U.K.).  Manufacturing spans the spectrum from hockey pucks to rocket engines.  And Interstate Bakeries recently opened the largest bakery in Africa, from which it supplies the whole continent with Wonder Bread and Twinkies.  Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, which is one of the two most popular hemispheres in the world.

    All the hotels are good by Western standards, but the best by far is the Sheraton Centre.  Manager Tony Dunn, former bass player for the Flaming Monkeys (U.K.), loves to talk about the celebrities who have stayed there.  “One of my chambermaids surprised Martin Clunes in bed with Miss Sudan of 2007, Deborah Nyameer Nyuon.  He claimed he was helping her look for a contact lens!”  According to Dunn, the beauty queen has big tits but probably does not engage in sex with dogs or severe ass whipping.  He has equally interesting gossip about William Shatner, Senator (now V.P.) Joseph Biden, Barry Bonds, Fran Lebowitz, and Ivana Trump (with whom he went skiing on nearby Mt. Gahbah).  Other famous guests have included Chinese pop stars Liu Yifei, Cai Yilin, Li Yuchun, Tang Jiali, and the group S.H.E., Bollywood stars Bobby Deol, Sunil Shetty, Madhuri Dixit, Arjun Rampal, Diya Mirza, and Raveena Tandon, British fashion designers John Galliano, Rhona Nampijja, Stella McCartney, and Hussein Chalayan (gay), French film stars Andy Gillet, Karine Viard, and Emmanuelle Beart, international arms dealers Jean Bernard Lasnaud, Leonid Minin, Monzer Al Kassar, and Sarkis Soghanalian, Russian mafiosi Marat Balagula, Viktor Bout, Vitali Dyomochka, Vyacheslav Ivankov, Vladimir Kumarin, and Boris Nayfeld, German politician Katina Schubert (dyke), strippers Kayla Kleevage, Candy Cantaloupes, Justa Dream, Tiffany Towers, Fantasia, and Minka, and Toronto Star publisher Jagoda Pike, who does not fuck dogs or suck big, black dicks.  Rooms at the Sheraton Centre run from $175 US to $500 US per night, and the maid leaves a complimentary Yorkie Bar on your pillow every morning.  The beds are all equipped with orgasm climax handles, which are exactly like coffin handles.

    The better restaurants in Nyala include Jahanshah Javid (Korean-Mexican fusion), Koss Umak (traditional Sudanese), Zag’s (burgers), and The Manyak (homosexual art food).

    The most popular nightclub in town is the Dromedary Club, where women with big breasts wearing minimal bras and panties are catapulted into a big net.  The “wardrobe malfunctions” are inevitable.

    The Sexy Car Wash is another attraction of this broad-minded city.  Drivers pay $25 to have their cars washed by naked women covered in soap, who crawl all over the car and spread their pussies on the windshield, while the driver sits inside and masturbates.  This was the inspiration for the popular Italian TV show Sexy Car Wash.

    The Water World theme park is made possible by the large underground lake far beneath the bedrock of the city.  In addition to surfing and water-skiing, the park features a long, twisting water slide well-suited to women with big breasts and skimpy bikinis.  By the time the slider has reached the bottom, she is completely naked and will be reaching for one of the big penis-shaped flotation devices.  Another pool allows naked women to ride on very tame lemon sharks.  The rough texture of the shark’s skin encourages the woman to hump herself to orgasm.  There is also a ride for daredevils that simulates the experience of waterboarding, as practiced at Guantanamo.

    On the outskirts of Nyala is the biggest campground in Sudan.  It’s always full, mostly with native Sudanese, who love the outdoors.  You’ll notice that they are all remarkably slim — a reflection of their self-image as fashionable and health-conscious.  There’s plenty of parking space for trailers and RV’s, and all the comforts Westerners prefer.  But don’t be afraid to go on foot and camp like a Boy Scout.  You can fish for trout in the streams and hike through the only forest of pine trees in Africa.  One other thing: nude sunbathing is permitted!

    Every November, Nyala gears up for the Sudan 1000 car race.  The best drivers from around the world compete in this challenging event, which begins in Nyala and finishes in Port Sudan, a thousand miles away.  This year’s participants will include Mario Andretti, Mario Moraes, Danica Patrick, Scott Dixon, and last year’s winner, Oriol Servia (who almost spun out when he swerved to avoid a pygmy hippopotamus, which is a protected species).

    Nyala is justifiably proud of its South Darfur State University, whose football team, the “Fighting Camels,” have won over forty consecutive matches in the East Africa Division 1.  Team captain Ibrahim Kanteeth has a 12-inch cock that has been photographed for medical textbooks.  The university also boasts the Asbat Al-Ansar Centre For Islamic Peace Studies, a graduate program in dishwasher repair, and the world’s largest collection of scorpions.

    The more serious, contemplative visitor will enjoy a tour of the centuries-old Sheikh Muti Monastery, where ascetics and mystics once sat in the underground vaults to commune with God and purify their souls.  This experience is now yours.  You will be left in complete darkness, with nothing to eat or drink, and foul air for eight hours.  On the way out, you will be given a souvenir t-shirt with the logo “Muti.”  The cost for this experience is $40 US.

    Want to see more of the Dark Continent in luxury?  Take the Sub-Sahara Express train from Nyala to Timbuktu, Mali.  The trip features gourmet meals, a bar, a casino, a lingerie fashion show, and Russian hookers who are into anal and oral sex.

    Recommended vaccinations: West Nile Virus, Rift Valley Fever, polio.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

    What do you think of when you hear “Afghanistan”?  If you’re like most people, you probably think of mindless death and destruction, suicide bombers, roadside bombs, terrorists, the Taliban, Muslim fanatics screaming “Death to America!”, poverty, ignorance, disease, filth, backwardness, and stupid, barbaric men beating, mutilating, and murdering their women because they want to enroll in a typing course.  Sure, all of that does exist — but mainly in the south.  The northern part of the country is very different, which is lucky for you because that’s where you’re going.  That’s right.  You’re heading for the exotic city of Qonduz — the Jewel of Afghanistan, the Gateway to the North, the City That Never Sleeps!

    Just make sure your travel agent doesn’t send you to the wrong place.  Qonduz is also spelled Konduz, and it is not to be confused with Kondoz or Kunduz, which are also in the north but are different places.  You have to book your flight on Ariana Afghan Airlines (“We Make Every Flight An Adventure!”), because no one else flies to Qonduz.  Ariana won’t fly you to Kondoz or Kunduz by mistake, because those cities don’t even have airports, and the pilots are not going to commit suicide by trying to land there.  The suicidal ones are screened out in the job interview.  Or let’s hope so.

    Qonduz used to be a shabby little dump stuck in the 12th Century, but thanks to the presence of American and NATO forces, it has been pushed ahead into the 20th Century — like roughly the 1970’s.  So they’re still behind us but only by a little.  Yes, you will still find a lot of hairy men in sandals working in dirty little shops, but now you will also find modern buildings, nice stores, bright lights, fast food, and normal urban entertainments — including alcohol, gambling, and prostitution.

    There is only one really good hotel — the Radisson Plaza Admiral Qonduz, or “R.P.A.” for short.  It’s an absolute magnet for NATO troops on leave, because it has all the modern amenities, and every room costs $100 U.S. a night, regardless of the number of occupants.  So it’s Party Central!  Manager Dermot McKeown, a transplanted Londoner, is an enthusiastic booster of the new Qonduz.  “This place is more exciting than London and much safer.  Qonduz is jumping twenty-four hours a day, and you can go anywhere any time and not have to worry about getting robbed, shot, or blown up.  Qonduzers are wonderful hosts.  They love Westerners and will pick up tourists spontaneously and say, ‘Hey, you American?  I show you good time!'”

    The fellow who decided to show me a good time was a taxi driver named Ahmad, who was on his day off but offered to drive me around for a few dollars.  We stopped briefly at the Labour Exchange, where people seek any sort of work.  At the men’s exchange (there is a separate one for women), there were mostly poor, young boys.  Ahmad asked me if I liked boys, and I said no.  (It was here, by the way, that Ellen DeGeneres and her partner, Portia de Rossi, “rescued” a deformed 8-year-old boy named Yama, whom they adopted.)  The women’s exchange is largely for girls seeking employment as domestics, although they are mostly picked up by foreigners as daily “companions.”

    The Duck Pond is located in the city’s park.  It has ducks but no fish.  Old men “fish” for the ducks using simple fishing rods and pieces of bread.  If a duck is stupid enough to get hooked, it gets strangled on the spot and is then taken home and eaten.

    The city has an 18-hole golf course, which Tiger Woods has described as the most challenging course he has ever played, thanks to unexploded ordnance in the ground. 

    Qonduz also boasts the world’s second-smallest library, and a museum of amputated limbs.

    The selection of restaurants includes all the familiar Western fast-food chains, which are run according to Western standards, so they have proper toilets and no rats.  The local Afghani eateries must be treated as “high-risk” by Western visitors.  These places have unusual smells and have never seen a health inspector.

    Culinary “fusion” is provided by the popular Lentil Heaven, which offers a variety of Western foods smothered with lentils, such as lentil burgers, lentil tacos, and lentil pizza.  The place is owned by Michelle Obama, wife of President Barack Obama, through her private holding company, Bamco.

    Every great city has its naughty district, and Qonduz is no exception.  Its naughty district is the Batouti Bazaar (or just “Bazaar”) — formerly an area of humble shops and street stalls but now a glitzy circus of bars, cinemas, casinos, and strip clubs.  There is a highly visible contingent of hookers — all Russian. 

    The most notorious attraction in the Bazaar is a raunchy club called the No-Go, which features a woman who has sex with squids.  Her name is Nadira, but she, too, looks Russian.  She’s hot-looking and has big tits.  She comes out naked, in high heels, she lies down on this mat, and an assistant places squids on her body.  Nadira then writhes and moans and pretends to be having sex with these squids, which are sucking her breasts and pubes — sort of like Bela Lugosi pretending to struggle with the giant octopus in Bride of the Monster.  The audience is supposed to believe that the squids are alive and are actually sucking her body.  Rush Limbaugh was in the audience when I visited, and I went over to him and asked him why he was there.  He said, “I’m trying to understand how these people think!”

    Across the street from the No-Go is a strip club called Jihada-Dada, which is always packed with soldiers.  Diamanti Damons was headlining there for an entire month.

    Qonduz has a rodeo every October.  It’s called the Qonduz Stampede.  Afghani cowboys lasso donkeys, ride them, and then shoot them.  The kids love it.

    Be sure to make time for a day trip across the border to Tajikistan to visit the Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve, where many endangered species of wildlife are protected.  It was here that Dennis Rodman, while on an errand for Donald Trump, identified a Chongawarry fruit bat — a species thought to be extinct.  For this contribution to science, Rodman was awarded the Tajikistan Conservancy Medal.

    Tourists in Qonduz need U.S. dollars or euros.  No one wants the Afghani currency.  Your credit cards should be used only when necessary; otherwise, best keep them out of sight.  There is also an informal barter system, so bring a supply of women’s panties, chewing gum, cigarettes, sunglasses, and guns.

    The climate is cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  Spring and fall are pleasant.  However, Qonduz, unfortunately, is directly in the path of migrating locust swarms, which happen occasionally in the spring and fall (but they only last for a day).

    Recommended vaccinations: anthrax, dengue fever, mouse typhoid.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

    The lush city of Oymyakon, the “Garden of Siberia,” welcomes the traveler like a ripe concubine parting her legs for the conquering hero returning from his epic journey to lands unknown, raping, killing, and looting.  Take her, traveler, for she is all yours!  Do with her as you wish!  She will never complain, nor will her beauty fade!

    Ivan the Terrible planted his flag on her velvety flank in 1582.  She was fought over by the Cossacks and Koryaks.  She was celebrated in literature by the great Maxim Gorky.  And the Swedish explorer Baron Nils Nordenskjold had to be dragged away forcibly from her by his men to return home.

    Today, Oymyakon is a happy and peaceful city, enjoying its status as a tourist destination for adventurous souls searching for something different.

    Most sources describe Oymyakon as a very cold place, but this claim is disputed by its mayor, Vladimir Zaebanyi, a colorful fellow who dresses like an English aristocrat, drives a Ferrari, and owns a large herd of goats.  “It’s all Western propaganda,” he insists.  “All the jokes about Siberia being so cold.  It’s a huge exaggeration.  Everything’s relative, after all.  Yes, someone from California would say it’s cold, but to us it is brisk and refreshing, and we like it.  There is a natural hot spring nearby, which contributes warmth.   The summer is very pleasant.  You don’t need a coat.  The winter is invigorating.  We like to get out and enjoy it, just like you Canadians.  We ski, we hike, we play hockey, we fish through the ice.  And you can see the aurora borealis on many nights.  It’s breathtaking!”

    The principal item on the mayor’s agenda is the construction of an international airport, which he says would increase tourism ten-fold.  The government is considering it.  For now, travelers must fly to Yakutsk and then take a bus to Oymyakon.

    The city’s only hotel is the InterContinental (formerly known as the Hotel Oymyakon).  Its manager is Pascal Forotti, a Frenchman who visited Oymyakon in 1990 and fell in love with it.  “Many celebrities have visited here,” he says.  “We have a gallery of framed photos over the bar.  Frankie Avalon and his wife, Kathryn Diebel, spent their honeymoon at the old Hotel Oymyakon in 1963.  And Burt Reynolds and Dinah Shore stayed here in 1972.  And last year, Paris Hilton was here for a week.  She brought her chihuahua.”

    A 5-day package at the InterContinental will cost you a very modest $400 U.S. per person.  Amenities include a swimming pool, exercise room, indoor squash court, conference rooms, satellite TV, and an underground walkway to the Nedotrahanaya Department Store and Promenade, with its upscale boutiques.  Beautiful (albeit pricey) Russian escorts are also available 24/7 — a must for the business traveler!

    The city has a reputation for excellent food.  The Siber Restaurant, on Ebanutaya Plaza, is the place for haute cuisine.  Chef Yuri Ebanko, who was trained at the prestigious Ukrainian Academy of Culinary Arts, is known for his sophisticated interpretations of local ethnic delicacies, such as pan-fried reindeer testicles, deep-fried reindeer dumplings, rare Siberian truffles, and steamed salmon from the nearby Indigirka River.  A typical meal at the Siber will run you about $30 U.S. per person.  The more budget-minded can eat cheaply and happily at Ivan’s Pizza or Irina’s Bar-B-Cue, both on Avenue Volov.

    For an unpredictable shopping adventure, you have to go to the quaint Doroga Losinogo Govna, a bohemian or “poor man’s” district.  Anyone with anything to sell simply sets up a table in the street, which is blocked off to traffic.  Cartons of American cigarettes, videotapes, DVD’s, electronics, Swiss chocolates, toys, clothing, hand-crafted jewlery, paintings, steaming pots of soups and teas, sausage on a bun, stuffed birds, shrunken heads, car parts, used appliances, housewares, guns, patent medicines, busts of Elvis, scuba gear, pornography, antiques, military paraphernalia, and countless other surprises compete for your attention and your money.  Meanwhile, buskers, magicians, dancers, street artists, and people sticking needles in their bodies perform for audiences.  Some of it is not entirely legal, but it’s a summer tradition, and as long as no one makes a formal complaint, the police look the other way.

    The business district is reassuringly normal, with well-dressed people carrying briefcases going in and out of modern office buildings.  The city is becoming an increasingly important financial center.

    Oymyakon’s most notable landmark is the “Boy On The Bear” — a marble statue depicting a native boy riding atop a large white bear.  According to an ancient legend, a boy was confronted by a ferocious bear while picking strawberries.  He bravely offered the bear some strawberries, which the bear ate from the palm of his hand.  The bear became friendly, and the boy climbed on its back and rode into the forest.  People throw coins at the statue for good luck.

    The Oymyakon Strawberry Festival runs every August at the Prospect Dohloi Sobaki, the local farmers’ market.  It’s largely an excuse for people to get drunk on the local strawberry wine and dance in the streets.

    A recently-built amusement park draws many visitors, although, it, too, is only open in the summer.

    The nature walk is a year-round recreation, however.  Oymyakoners say it keeps them fit.  The natural beauties of the countryside change according to the season, but bring your camera regardless.  A well-marked path takes you along the banks of the Indigirka, and through fields, forests, and hills.  The strawberry fields are lovely, as are the many flowers and plants, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.  The bird population is highly seasonal, ranging from multi-colored species to magnificent birds of prey.  Migrating musk-oxen can sometimes be viewed at a distance.  The hauntingly beautiful and mysterious bat cave is not to be missed.  Oymyakoners are proud of these natural beauties and will never allow them to be spoiled by urban development.

    All major currencies are accepted in Oymyakon, although exchange rates may vary.  Watch out for dishonest taxi drivers who overcharge the inexperienced tourist.

    Recommended vaccinations: smallpox, hepatitis (A, B, and C), Kamchatka tick fever.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

    I have figured out how to save GM from bankruptcy.  The Chinese are going to do it for us.

    If GM goes bankrupt, the U.S. goes into a depression, and the U.S. dollar collapses.  That would be bad for the Chinese, with all the U.S. government bonds they’re holding, right?  So what they have to do is buy up all of GM’s vehicle inventory and ship it to China.  That will give GM a big cash infusion, and the shipping companies benefit, too.

    The Chinese then sell lottery tickets all over the country, with the GM cars as prizes.  They can easily absorb that many cars, and the lottery proceeds will pay for them, so the Chinese government breaks even.

    Such a lottery would be especially popular in rural regions.  The guy in the village who wins a car becomes the big shot of the village, even if he can only afford to drive his car a few times a year. 

    And think of the subtle propaganda value for the U.S. when those little Chinks sit in cars made for normal-sized Americans!

    We buy so much shoddy merchandise from the Chinese (like can openers that won’t open any can, and tape that won’t stick to anything), they really owe us anyway, don’t you think?

    Now somebody please pass the word on to Rick Wagoner and Pres. Hu Jintao — and I mean now!

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

    Like many people, I’ve been worried about global warming, although I don’t know anything about it.

    During a recent warm spell, I was standing on the corner, waiting for the light to change, and I remarked to the gentleman standing next to me, “I wonder if there is global warming.”

    “Woojathinkso!” the man replied, crossing the street hurriedly and leaving me standing there perplexed.

    Woojathinkso….Is that what he said?….Woojathinkso….I forgot all about the errand I was on and turned around to go home.  What did that fellow mean?

    As I put my key in the door, it hit me!  Wooja thinks so!  Somebody named Wooja thinks there is global warming!  Now I get it! 

    But who was this fellow Wooja?  And why did he think there was global warming?  Maybe he was a scientist.  If so, I definitely wanted to talk to him.

    I checked the phone book, but there was no listing for “Wooja.”  Maybe he had an unlisted number.  If he was a top scientist, that wouldn’t surprise me.  Scientists don’t want to be bothered by strangers when they’re in the middle of something important.  But he had to be known somewhere.  Surely at the university.  That was it!  He was probably in the physics department of the university!

    So I called the physics department.  “Do you have a Professor Wooja?” I asked.

    The secretary hesitated.  “Uh…do you mean Professor Woods?”

    Woods!  So he has an alias!  A foreigner who goes by an anglicized name!  “Yes, I think that’s the one.  I’d like to talk to him.  Is he there?”

    “I’m afraid Professor Woods retired last year.”

    Retired?  In the midst of a global warming catastrophe?  There was something fishy about this.  “Can you give me his phone number, or tell me where he lives?”

    “Oh, no.  We don’t give out that kind of personal information,” said the secretary.

    “Has he written any papers on global warming, by any chance?” I asked.

    “I wouldn’t know.  You’d have to check with the library.”

    Wouldn’t know!  Ha!  She was stonewalling me.  “So, then, I could just go to the library and read everything he’s written?” I asked.

    “Yes, of course.  Just go to the physics section on the fifth floor and ask the librarian.”

    I thanked her and hung up.

    The pieces were starting to fall into place.  This Professor Woods, who was really a foreigner named Wooja, had mysteriously retired, and his present whereabouts were being kept secret.  He must have discovered something about global warming — probably something too shocking to be made public, although that fellow on the corner knew about it somehow.  He had walked away quickly, so perhaps he was being followed.  It was still a puzzle, but maybe I’d find a big piece of it at the library.

    I had never used the university library before, so I asked the librarian in the physics section for help.  “I want to read whatever papers have been written by Professor Woods,” I said, somewhat out of breath after climbing the stairs (I should have taken the elevator).

    She eyed me curiously for a moment, then pecked away at her keyboard and looked at her screen.  “Would that be Professor Theodore Woods?”

    “Yes, I think so.  The one who just retired from the university.”

    “Theodore Woods is the only Woods we’ve got listed.  Here are his papers.”  She turned the screen around so I could read it.

    I scanned the titles of his papers….Magnetotelluric Technology Applications For Deep Earth Resistivity….Time-Domain Electromagnetic Systems….Maxwell Three-Dimensional Conductive Plate Modelling….Rotating Gradient Data Collection For Enhancement of High-Resolution Total-Magnetic Intensity Measurement….Borehole Gravity Logging Systems For 3-D Models and Measurement of Bulk-Density of Intersected Formations….Problems of Ground EM Pulse Geophysics….2-Axis Tipper EM Applications….Full-Tensor Airborne Magnetic Gradiometrics and Total Gravity Field Measurement….My eyes glazed over.  There was nothing about global warming.  Those papers had obviously been removed!  I was too late!

    Frustrated and angry, I went to the physics department to confront that secretary I had spoken to.  As I was wandering around the halls, looking for the office, a young man stopped me.  “Are you looking for someone?” he asked politely, but not smiling.

    Foolishly, I blurted out, “I want to know what Professor Woods found out about global warming!  Why is it being kept secret?”

    The young man gave me a long, suspicious look.  Finally he said, “Are you connected with the university?”

    “No….I’m…I’m just a layman.”

    “Professor Woods was not involved with global warming.”

    “And how do you know that?” I demanded.

    “I was his teaching assistant.”

    I stood there dumbly for a moment, not knowing what to do next.  “Suppose I wanted to talk to him,” I ventured weakly.

    “Why don’t you write down your name and phone number, and I’ll pass it along to him.”

    So I did.  Maybe that was a mistake.  Now they know who I am!

    Back at home, I pondered the dark mystery I had unearthed.  It was very clear that this Professor Woods, or Wooja, had stumbled onto something  so terrible it had to be suppressed.  A lid of secrecy had been clamped down on the whole matter — probably emanating from the highest levels of government.  Even worse, the people responsible might think that I knew something I wasn’t supposed to know, even though I didn’t know anything — not even what I was supposed to know!

    For the sake of my personal safety, I’m giving up this whole nasty business!  I’m never going to say or do anything more about global warming!  I never should have gotten involved in the first place!

    If you think you’re the brave one who can break through this wall of censorship, I leave it in your hands.  Go ahead.  At least I’ve given you something to go on.  But I’ve just heard the latest weather forecast, and from the sound of it, it may be too late for all of us!  How much time do we have left before…it…happens?  Wooja knows.  And a few others.  But as for me, I no longer want to know!

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

A Knife In The Back

February 19, 2009

    I am a social oddity in that I have a knife sticking out of my back.  It doesn’t hurt, except a little now and then.  The doctors are in agreement that it would be too dangerous to try to remove it.  Left where it is, it is not life-threatening.  It is merely an inconvenience and an embarrassment.

    You want to know how I ended up with a knife in my back.  Who put it there, and why?  I’m afraid I can’t explain it very well.  It happened in high school.  I was in a crowded hallway, and suddenly I felt a pain in my back.  I turned around, and this guy I didn’t know was walking away quickly.  It might have been him, but I couldn’t be sure.  I was confused.  Nobody around me said or did anything.  It was as if they hadn’t noticed.  I couldn’t reach behind my back to feel what was hurting me.  I asked a girl what was on my back, and she said, “Oh, my God! Go to the nurse’s office!”

    The nurse was not allowed to do anything, so I was sent to the hospital by ambulance.  The doctors took an X-ray and sent me home, with the knife still in my back. 

    The police came to my house, but I was not able to furnish a description of the person who did it.  And there were no witnesses!

    My mother was very upset because having a knife in my back might hurt my college application, and she went to the school to complain, but nothing happened.  My father was habitually drunk and never said a word about it — ever.

    So there I was with a knife in my back, permanently.

    I sleep on my side, so sleeping wasn’t a problem.  The main problem was how to wear my clothes.  If I tried to wear my clothes over the knife, my back would look like a tent, and I didn’t want that.  So instead, I cut a slit in all my shirts and outerwear for the knife to stick through.  That was better.  Over time, I learned that certain colors and patterns would make the knife “blend in” visually and be less noticeable.

    When I go out, it’s surprising, but very few people say anything about the knife.  Maybe they’re just not paying attention, like the students in the hallway.  Some people laugh because they think it’s a novelty item I bought in a joke store.  Others have said it’s disgusting or in poor taste.  And others have accused me of seeking attention or — still worse — having a self-pitying attitude.  I don’t get into discussions or arguments with people any more.  I’ve found it’s best to keep my mouth shut.

    The other day I went into Holt Renfrew on Bloor St. to shop for a tie.  Within two minutes, a security guard came up to me and said, “I’m sorry, but I have to ask you to leave the store.”

    “What have I done?” I asked.

    “I’m not saying that you’ve done anything, but you have to leave.”

    Well, I never make a scene in public, so I walked out without saying another word.  Then I was standing at the corner of Yonge and Bloor, waiting for the light to change, and someone called me an asshole behind my back.  I didn’t turn around.  He called me an asshole again.  Then the light changed, and I crossed the street without looking back.  This sort of thing doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

    Now, if you’re expecting me to turn this into a moralistic social commentary, forget it.  I don’t have anything wise or profound to say, although others think they have something wise or profound to say to me.  I’ve been told that there are people with knives in their backs, knives in their heads, or even worse conditions, but they still lead happy, productive lives.  I guess that’s possible.  I’ve also been told that it’s all “mind over matter.”  If I obsess about it, then it’s a problem; if I don’t, then it isn’t.  Huh.  And some people have suggested various self-help therapies, such as yoga, Dianetics, or some Chinese thing I can’t pronounce.  But what relevance do any of these things have to me?

    If you had a knife in your back, what would you do?  Tell me.  Actually, I only want to know if you really do have a knife in your back.  If you don’t, then I don’t want your advice.  Can we leave it at that?  Good.  Thank you.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com