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The Bay Area Brit Travel Guide Presents: The Greek Islands

Here at The Bay Area Brit, we do not have an actual budget per se. We have pretty much alienated every potential corporate sponsor. As a consequence, this week’s Travel Section article about a trip to the idyllic Greek Islands is comprised entirely from a dream that I had last night, as I have never been there. Enjoy!

In my sleep I read the brochure and knew it was the place for me:

“You’ll come for the sun, the beautiful scenery and the sights and sounds of a different world; you’ll stay because you have been summoned to Mount Olympus and chosen by Zeus to fight Cerberus, the three-headed dog-dragon that eats bushy eye-browed babies and nubile young women bearing vowel-less names.”

On the isle of Mykonos, after unwinding in our sun-drenched chalet, my traveling companion and I walked the cobbled pathway to the pier to find repast at one of the restaurants. We had seen the fishing trawlers come back to port as dusk moved in, and had been told that restaurant owners bought fish fresh from the boat. We made ourselves comfortable at a table near the water and I ordered an anisette-based aperitif called Ouzo. My companion ordered Retsina: a white wine that tastes of pine needles. Our waitress approached, and bizarrely it was a woman called Mrs. Eleanor Firstein who was my piano teacher when I was nine years old. She used to have a freckle on her cheekbone that was shaped like a caterpillar. Strangely, the freckle had grown and was now shaped like a butterfly.

         I ordered the anchovy and feta salad and suddenly heard a bellowing growl come from the horizon. The restaurant’s windows cracked and the olive trees in the grove nearby bent in half. I rubbed my eyes and watched in horror as Poseidon himself, silhouetted as he rose from the water, began to advance towards the shoreline. He was the size of a forty-storey building. I knew what I had to do…

I was suddenly awake and needed a pee. I padded to the bathroom, did my business and trudged back to bed. I gradually drifted back to sleep so that I might continue my sojourn in the Greek Islands.
It was the next day, and we were kicking around in the rubble at the Acropolis in Athens. My travel companion informed me that I had defeated Poseidon (who was disgruntled after eating an iffy kebab) by making the “God of The Sea’s” head explode after singing an off-key rendition of “Ain’t Misbehavin.’”
The Acropolis’s tour guide looked exactly like Abraham Lincoln…except, for some reason, he was completely naked but for his tall hat and a pair of bright red stilettos. I asked him why he wore no clothes and he told me that former Presidents that have been dead for a century and-a-half shouldn’t have to wear garments if they didn’t want to. I joked to him that it was all well and good, but I had no desire to see that porker Taft in the nude, and then Lincoln stepped on my foot with his high heels and then smeared chunks of pineapple all over my face.

I was awake again! My 4 month-old kitten had jumped on the end of the bed and woken me up by first landing on my feet and then cantered up the bed to lick my face like it was made of tuna. I had a gash on my foot from her needle-like claws. I put some Hydrogen Peroxide on my wound and hobbled back to bed.

Damned! I was going to need another vacation after this trip.

After a heated conversation with a three-legged goat regarding the pros and cons of pasteurization while I was in Corfu, I woke up in a cold sweat.

I’d had enough of Greece and the Greek Islands. For it was a silly place. And I decided that I would travel around the U.S. a bit more, as,
a) it was within my budget, and b) because (to the best of my knowledge) nothing strange or bizarre ever happens in the United States of America.

Unless of course you count something as insane as dressing up your four year-old to look like Miss America.

The World Wide Wank

       Back in porn’s golden age (which for the sake of argument we’ll call the 1970s and 80s) if you were pretty good looking, had a decent body, and were able to have (or realistically fake) at least five orgasms a day you could be a porn star. Providing you didn’t catch a disease, or die from the drugs, you could have had a career for as long as ten-to-fifteen years in the industry. That is of course until your body parts inevitably drooped and sagged and then you’d watch enviously off-camera as the new kid on the block took over your porno pool party.

  

             Then along came the Internet. In the last few years, cyberspace has become saturated with porn. There are so many sites dedicated to the bizarre and obscure, it’s difficult to know what really defines porn any more. The age-old question of “Is it art or is it pornography?” has been seduced and abandoned. Porn has gone from “the absurd” to the “OMFG WTF?”
Thanks to industry standard plastic surgeries, the ever-increasing accessibility to porn via the Internet, and the growing diversity in our generations’ sexual quirkiness, anyone can become a Porn Star.

        And that means you!

         Yes, regardless of your age, size, or ethnicity you too could have a career in Internet Pornography. Have you ever heard anyone say this: “My grandmother was a porn star in the Seventies.” You probably haven’t, but it’s more than likely that someone, somewhere had grandparents who starred in classic movies from “Porn’s Golden Age.”
But now, thanks to websites like “www.MatureGrammies.com,” your grandson can boast to his friends, “My grandma is a porn star and she is in her seventies.”

        British and want to show off your hard drive? Not a problem, go to “www.NiceAccentShameAboutTheTeeth.com.”

        Vertically challenged? Well you guessed it; even littler people than you are getting into the action at “www.HornyLittlePeople.com” Watch out for the puppy, unless you’re into that, then you should cock your leg and whiz all over “www.HornyLi’lPups.com.”

         Exhibitionist? Well thanks to the digital age, you can get your naked-on in your local supermarket as unsuspecting shoppers buy their groceries in the next aisle over, at “www.SupermarketAisleSex.com.”
“Security, we’ve got a lurker in the Produce Department.”

          Has your porn career been temporarily sidelined by a pregnancy? Then fear not, at “www.EightMonthsIn.com” you too can keep making films until your water breaks…Uh-oh, clean up on Aisle 3.

       What about the disabled? Don’t they want to get in on the act? Who doesn’t love a little hot “wheel-on-chair” action? Hobble or wheel yourself over to “www.MyBlueErogenousParkingSpot.com.” It’s a great place to meet different sex partners of every kind of disability. Amputee? No problem, even the short-of-limb are getting in on the act at “www.DoingItOnAllThrees.com.”

         Are you a man trapped inside a woman’s body that thinks it’s a llama? Perhaps a llama that feels the need to stomp on young men’s testicles? Then we have the site for you, at “www.AngryTransgenderLlamas.com.” Saddle up and go there now!

       If you’re into watching mice having sex with multiple partners of the mice-like variety dressed as 11th Century Roman emperors. Be sure to check out those naughty little cheese-munchers at “www.LittleRodentCaligulas.com.”

        Have a desire to get your business on with inanimate objects? Oh yeah, if you know how to serve up a salacious salad or like to punch fruit with your private parts. Then check out “www.PhallicFruitPhuckers.com.”

      Ladies, ever make it with your car’s gearbox? Don’t forget to use your handbrake at “www.ICannotBelieveI’mHavingSexWithMyCar.com.”

          Yes if you’ve got a bizarre sexual kink there are hundreds of thousands of websites. Do you get turned on watching the rain get the pavement all wet? Like watching trees blowing up against each other in gale force winds? Do you drool when branches shed their leaves while swaying their inhibitions in the breeze? Then check out all the action on http://www.TheWeatherChannel.com.

        Oh, wait.

Okay, as you were, chaps.

Take A Bath With The Bay Area Brit

I get remarkable things accomplished in the bathtub. Admittedly I’m not learning to speak Swahili, baking a truffle soufflé, or taking the test one needs for a license to fly the Space Shuttle. (Imagine flashing that to a Highway Patrol Officer when caught speeding.) No, my accomplishments are kind of boring comparatively, but are important to my daily existence. I’m talking about plucking something from the air and turning it into something that might briefly entertain someone.

The most common question asked of artists (of all kind) is a variation of this: “Where do you get your ideas?” My answer to this strange question is always this, “My inspiration comes when I’m in a bathtub.”

Most of my writing and cartoon ideas evolve while I’m soaking in hot water. The reason is super-obvious…and no it’s not because I’m a Human Bean. It’s because there are usually far fewer distractions in the tub…unless of course one is not alone. (Pass the soap.)

When my mind is in that place of calm and tranquility, anything can happen. This is how I write: I think randomly, and without censoring myself I write down everything that I think is funny. On one page in one of my notebooks I found these examples.

Two light bulbs playing Scrabble…one of them comes up with a triple word score and a smaller illuminated light bulb shows up above his head.  (cute kinda funny)

Two friends at an Alien Abductees Support Group fear the worst and forlornly look to the sky when they notice their friend Bob is not at the meeting.   (pretty funny)

A lonely child writes false names and well wishes on the cast of his broken leg to ease his misery.  (funny and sad)

From my dampened notebooks you’ll find the seed of an idea scrawled in black, barely legible smudges that suggests that Purgatory is hilariously bureaucratic for an afterlife station. You’ll also find notes for an idea about a germophobic teenager that discovers his grandmother’s four previous husbands died mysteriously. Both of these rambling, inky smears turned into 320 page novels.

I’ve written over a hundred or so short stories and blogs. I’ve dreamed up a couple of thousand cartoons and have three or four more book ideas with anywhere between 3 and 200 pages written (not including the two sequels to the two books I’ve mentioned.) I also co-wrote a third book (a “How to” spoof which in its current incarnation is an iPhone application created by my co-writer.) All of these weird thoughts and ideas (for better or worse) might never have existed if it wasn’t for the bathtub…and of course my avoidance of distractions.

Distractions are the enemy, oh yes. At all cost I try to avoid distractions.

I have over eighty notebooks that have been steam-wrinkled (much as I have been) by spending hour upon hour, day upon day, week upon week—dare I say month upon month—in the bath. All of these notebooks are packed with sketches, jokes, or story ideas. Some pages are funny and clever. A large percentage of them are mediocre, and some are wretchedly awful and tasteless. Even more are completely unfunny bits that just don’t work. Most of the contents of these books will never see the light of day.

But I try hard to come up with the next great idea, joke, story, or cartoon. However, I cannot do it if I’m distracted.

Yep, some men are the strong silent types. Not me. I’m the kind of guy that figures if he keeps talking and making jokes, eventually, even if it’s by accident, he’s going to say something funny or clever. It’s the infinite number of monkeys taking an infinite number of baths theory.

So yes, the bathtub is my fortress of solitude, where, for me, all the good things that make me happy start to come alive. Guess where I wrote this?

I had no choice.

Something was causing a massive distraction in my office. Distractions are the enemy, even when they’re really, really cute.

I Speak American Real Good

Most British kids grow up watching American TV and films. As a consequence, we learned to imitate the actors and movie stars we watched. As a twelve year-old I could do a pretty mean Clint Eastwood; I had the squint too. Unfortunately I was about as intimidating as a geriatric goldfish.

However, if I spoke with a genuine American accent in this country, maybe I’d be taken more seriously when conversing with strangers. I cannot do it though, an American accent is just not my default setting.

My job dictates that I talk to a lot of strangers every day, and I’m often engaged to discuss many topics of interest. When I’m asked a question, it doesn’t take long before the more intelligent of the American species can pinpoint that I speak differently from them. More often than not, they’ll notice my manner of speech right as I’m about to deliver the punchline to a joke, or finish making a socio-political comment. That’s when I’ll be interrupted by the question.

“Where’s that accent from?”

I will be temporarily thrown off from my point and look at the person and say something like, “England, but in answer to your question about Cheney’s foreign policy…” Then I’m interrupted again.

“Oh, we just love England.”

It never fails. My point (if there was one) has evaporated faster than vulture piss under the Sahara’s Desert’s midday sun. My point is I feel objectified, in as much as I’m made to feel that I couldn’t possibly have anything interesting to say because my accent is “cute” to the American ear.

You might be thinking, “So what? You’re lucky that there’s something about you that Americans find different/interesting/attractive.” Or you might be thinking, “Well maybe you were boring them to tears and they were just looking for a way to stop you from talking.” I happen to think that’s completely impossible. I have nothing but interesting opinions and hilarious jokes….ahem.

I’m also often asked if I can talk with an American accent? The answer to this, of course, is yes. The follow-up is usually one of two questions:

“Okay, can I hear it then?”

or

“Well then why don’t you speak like that all the time?”

This is then almost always followed with, “Why would you speak like you do when you can talk normally?”

At which I point I’ll make a sarcastic comment or give them my look of indignation…you know the one. If you don’t know the one, just strike up a conversation with a woman, and just as she’s about to give you her opinion of Atheism versus Agnosticism, say something like:

“Hey, lady, you have great tits–are they real?”

See what happens next, and then think of me.

A Daydream Is Like A Low-Budget Independent Movie

     Daydreaming is a wonderful thing because in our conscious state we take our mind where we want to go. You’re at your desk in your office and you see a Safeway bag flutter by the window in the wind. That bag is the star of that moment and you think to yourself That plastic bag is free. Free to do whatever it wants. You daydream the possibilities of such freedom. The plastic bag can pause for a break whenever it wants. It doesn’t have to report to a boss. The bag is its own boss.

      You’re not really thinking about the other roles the plastic bag may have had in its past, say as a moccasin to a homeless man, or the future it may hold: as the overburdened bulging receptacle of lukewarm dog crap scooped from the sidewalk dropped by a 90 pound Doberman Pinscher. You’re just in that moment in the gentle comfort of your daydream-like state.
A daydream might occur while in line at the supermarket. I really like this girl working the checkout. I wonder if she thinks I’m cute, you think to yourself. It’s not a stretch. Your daydreams are like a film you might see on IFC or The Sundance Channel. You know the sort of thing: a slow-paced but charming independent film. In the end it was a good story based in reality with no car chases and nary a building exploding, but it sure was real.

            Okay, so yeah, daydreams are kind of boring. Let’s put it this way: I’ve never rested my chin on my palm in a moment of quiet solitude and gazed out of a window at a beautiful spring morning and daydreamed of being in a plane crash. Nor have I daydreamed about being shot at, stabbed, or fallen from a great height only to wake up from said daydream in a startled manner. Oh sure, seconds later I’ll be comforted by an Austrian nurse whose eyebrows are made of explosive camembert cheese, but these moments are reserved for my real dreams when I’m asleep and anything (and I mean anything) can happen.
Night-time dreams are like high-budget action movies. Seriously, people, Armageddon is coming and I need to be at my best to save all you motherfuckers. This is a dream and I had better bring my A-game or you are all in big trouble. Seriously, who the hell is gonna save your sorry asses in my dream when those aliens begin dropping from the sky and start pollinating our planet with pod-people? You? You, daydreaming slacker. I don’t think so.
Now please excuse me, for The Bay Area Brit has a big weekend to prepare for. Emperor Hirohito, Edith Piaff, Johnny Weismuller and his dancing crocodiles, the remaining living performers from the original Cirque Du Soleil, Eskimo zombies, Lady Gaga, a Bolivian fruit bat, the element fire, Mexican werewolves, Ursula Andress, Godzilla’s deaf aunt, King Henry VIII, and a rubber fire hydrant are all scheduled to appear in my dreams.
Nighty-night!

Funny Cartoons

Bloody stereo-Typical!

      My friend Roland joked at my expense for writing about eating fish and chips the other day. What he’s not taking into consideration is the British in me is compelled to eat things that most Americans would choose to avoid, whether it be for health reasons or otherwise. I hate to admit it but I am a stereotypical Brit.
I usually hate stereotypes. It’s not because I think that they’re far too often racist-they usually are. It’s because I really am one. I’m British. And yes, I talk differently from you. My teeth aren’t perfect; I like football and beer and pub food.

       Comments about stereotypes come in two different forms: The ones that people say to your face. Often by well meaning galoots, who spend half their day hopping around while trying to remove their other foot from the gaping maw in the lower part of their face.
“You’re English; you must like fish ‘n’ chips,” they’ll say, usually with a dreadful pretend-English accent. While this is not nearly as rude as assuming that a tall African-American is good at basketball, or telling a gay man that he’d be a fabulous florist, or joking to a little person that he’d probably make a good rodeo clown, it’s usually followed by the. “It’s meant as a compliment” defense. It’s still a bit much. Then of course there are just the genuinely mean-spirited stereotype comments, which are usually hateful and something you wouldn’t dare say to someone’s face; which there’s no need to cover here.

                 However, for the sake of this blog and for the sake of Brits everywhere,  I’m going to embrace my stereotype. To such ends, Elvis and I will continue to seek out the best pub-style Fish ‘n’ Chips in the Bay Area.

          Although I already posted the first review from Barclay’s, I thought I should go over my requirements for the perfect restaurant fish ‘n’ chips. What I’m looking for: moist, flaky, clean, white fish. In Britain you’d be expecting cod, pollock, or haddock. In the U.S., snapper works well also, but if you can find fresh cod that would be the way to go. If you’re going to use a beer-batter, the trick is not to let the oil get too hot or the batter will be too crispy and a little burned tasting. However, you do want to make sure the fish is not undercooked. I’m also a big fan of the panko style bread-crumbed fish and although less traditional, restaurants will not be penalized for serving their fish this way.
Chips: not thin cut and definitely not frozen. The chips should be thick-cut and not too crispy. A bit soggy is my personal favorite. Salt and vinegar? You’d better believe it. Thinner chips lose their temperature much quicker; the hotter the chips the better.

          Fish and chips on the go should be served in plain paper, which is THEN wrapped in newspaper. Why would you let printing chemicals near your food? Bad show.

Batter and fry this up for Montgomery Burns, but don’t try to feed it to a Brit.

            Ideally I’m looking for fish and chips that come as close to the way I remember them from home as possible. I’m obviously not a professional food critic, but I have solid taste buds and know what British fish and chips is supposed to taste like. Feel free to comment and offer varying opinions, after all aren’t we all critics?

Over to you, Roland.

© Copyright Matty Stone 2010

Oh My God They Killed Matt!…You Bastards!

      As some of you may be aware, The Bay Area Brit spent the first three-quarters of his life being known as “Matt Stone.” But in 1997 a life-altering event occurred, after which, nothing would be the same.

I always thought I had a cool name, you know, kind of private detective-like: “Matt Stone P.I.”

In the mid-Nineties I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist. I entered a couple of cartoon competitions and won–most notably the top prize at The San Francisco Bay Guardian’s annual contest. I drew for a local monthly music newspaper for two years and kept improving at my craft in the hope that one day I might become a syndicated cartoonist.

     After many, many rejections, King Features eventually wanted to publish some of my cartoons, and did in newspapers from San Francisco-to-Orlando. Matt Stone the cartoonist from Britain was finally making things happen across the pond.

And then this happened…..

Trey Parker and another man (also named) Matt Stone created South Park, a cartoon about four kids living in Colorado.

What the Hell?!?!

      My phone started ringing off the hook.
“Oh, my God, Matt, I just saw your show! It was fantastic.”

“That’s not me.”

“I just loved the fat kid…’Screw you guys, I’m going home.’ Just amazing, Matt! Oh, and I love the part where you kill Kenny every week. ‘YOU BASTARDS!’ Hilarious, Matt, just great. I knew you’d make it. “

“It’s not me. I haven’t made it.”

“Oh, are you sure?”

“Yep.”

“Hunh, well that’s weird. It’s totally your sense of humor.”

“I know, but it’s not me.”

        Friends and ex-girlfriends couldn’t wait to tell me how great my show was. It sucked. I hated it. This faker, this pretender to my throne, this complete and utter bastard is running around and making cartoons using my name.

      Oooooh… I wanted to hate it, I really did, and when I finally sat down to watch it, I seethed like mad for all of about a minute. Then I started laughing and laughing and laughing.

     So loving South Park was all well and good, but I needed to change my name; after all despite the fact that I had cartoons published well before South Park came along, he was now “Matt Stone” and I would have to find another name to publish under.

       For a while I went by Matt Poe Stone and then M.P. Stone but eventually landed on Matty Stone. I have many friends whom have called me “Matty” through the years, and I kind of like it.

I embrace my “Mattyness” for you. I even have the website:

www.MattyStone.com

so I must be “THE” Matty Stone. Even though it’s taken a backseat to this site.

Matty Stone: The Bay Area Brit, trying to make a buck and a name for himself in the U.S.A.

Matt Stone as you knew him is gone, but Matty Stone lives.