Sunday, February 1, 2015

February is a Suitable Month for Laughing


February is a suitable month for laughing at life in America. 


Paul Hogan and beer (1972)

The Deflategate scandal in the National Football League gets roasted on Saturday Night Live, there are way too many Republican candidates for President to fit onto one podium at the same time, liberal and conservative movie goers are still exchanging fire about the moral integrity of American Sniper (yawn), and the "Alberta Clipper," a fast moving area of low-pressure which generally affects the central provinces of Canada and parts of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, is battering the East Coast in a repeat of last year's polar vortex. Good thing then that I'm wrapped up warm in Atlanta, the city too busy to care. 

Paul Hogan as Crocodile Dundee (1986)

But living in the Capital of the Old South, as a male trailing spouse, there are times when I feel just like Paul Hogan's character in Crocodile Dundee. The plot of the 1986 film is simple, amusing, and not very original. After living in the Australian Outback, a hunter has problems adjusting to urban life with his American journalist girlfriend in New York City. There are lots of silly fish-out-of-water gags about America, and though our man seems naive, he is highly adept at taking care of himself and charming the pants off total strangers. 


Morning beer for the Male Trailing Spouse? No comment.

There is a great scene in the inferior sequel when Crocodile Dundee leaves home at the same time his journalist girlfriend goes to work. Being a red blooded, unemployed, Australian male, he heads straight to the pub for a morning beer. I wondered, watching this alleged comedy, at a time of night when I should have been tucked up in bed, how many male trailing spouses have done the exactly the same thing? 


Fancy a trip to Holland?

Later on in the same scene, Crocodile Dundee addresses the regulars, asking for work. 10 years ago, in Bangkok, I once put myself on the local job market much the same way. An offer of gainful employment came quick from a seedy looking Australian with a tiger-striped silk shirt and a grey, walrus mustache. Would I take a Thai girl to Japan posing as husband and wife for 20,000 Baht? In the true tradition of English journalism, the Male Trailing Spouse made his excuses and left. Some years later, I found out that the same gentleman was busted for trafficking a Thai lady to Holland.  After a period of incarceration in a Dutch holding facility, he returned to Bangkok, brushing off the incident as "a miscarriage of international justice" and a slur upon his "good name."


Federal prosecutors allege that Evgeny Buryakov (right) worked with agents of Russia's foreign intelligence service, the SVR, by posing as an employee in the Manhattan office of a Russian bank.

Thankfully, there are no such types in the bars of Atlanta, looking for slow-witted recruits to the wicked, wicked world of human trafficking. However, it must be said, I do miss these colorful cads and scoundrels, and Bangkok had an abundance of them. But what of New York City where Mr. Dundee lives? The FBI just busted a three man Russian spy ring up there. The men from the SVR, Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, were on the hustle for trade secrets and pukka gen from local sources.  But the NOCs had cocked up royal.  The Feds had them wired and what they had to say for themselves was highly amusing. 


Anna Chapman: 1 of 10 male and female Russian spies busted by the FBI in 2010. 

One of the men,  27 year old Victor Podobny, explained how he went about recruiting Americans. Podobny courted a New York consultant with “cheating, promising favors" and then discarded him as a source. “This intelligence method to cheat,” Podobny said, in broken English, is to “promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go fuck himself.” What a charmer. He will go far. In any business.

No pix of Podobny and Sporyshev but here's Anna Chapman instead!

Another member of the alleged  SVR spy ring, 40 year old Igor Sporyshev, complained about American women he had tried to recruit as sources. “I have lots of ideas about such girls,” he told Podobny, but they were not very feasible. “In order to be close you either need to fuck them or use other levels to influence them to execute my requests.” He ends by advising Podobny, the younger man in the spy game, “so when you tell me about girls, in my experience, it’s very rare that something workable will come of it.” The case continues.


Another plug for my first book...

This week saw the return of my aged 2007 MacBook from the local repair shop on North Highland. For some reason, beyond my Luddite comprehension of basic computer maintenance, I was locked out of Word and unable to do any proper work. Now that the Mac is back, with a tuned up hard drive and another 2-3 years of extended life, I am thinking of doing a Graham Greene and writing two books at the same time. Last year, in the middle of putting out and promoting my first book, I wrote two screenplays on the side.  It damn near killed me. Never again, I said, never again!


Ah, those Russian girls... THOSE RUSSIAN GIRLS!

But February has begun in earnest, and I am laughing at life in America just like Crocodile Dundee. Let's see if I can carry like this for the rest of the month. 


Spy Brass: Anna Chapman "sizzles" (if you like trashy Russian women in Victoria's Secret underpants) on November 2010 cover of Maxim