Category Archives: Travel

Boston’s Stupid Government

The first thing you should know about Boston is that its State House, the capital of the entire state of Massachusetts, contains a thing called “the Sacred Cod.” The Sacred Cod is a large fish suspended within its House of Representatives, which is legally or at least traditionally necessary in order for their House to read more »

Boston’s Other History

Boston’s first European inhabitant was a man named William Blaxton, who hated people. Enough to move to Boston. Not that Boston is a bad place—I find it quite charming. But back in 1625 it was just undeveloped swamp. So, after having left England to get away from the English, Blaxton moved to a swamp to read more »

Yankee Porpoises: Welcome to Boston

My father hates Boston, “a city designed by drunken sailors,” but that’s because he once had to drive a car through it. If you hail from a squarish-shaped state like ours, with grid-patterned roads all neatly apportioned, Boston appears to be some kind of M. C. Escher hellscape. However if you like walking and public transportation, read more »

Las Vegas: Disneyworld for Adults

If extraterrestrials ever land on Earth, I’m going to recommend that they skip visiting France and head straight to Las Vegas. This is not only because Las Vegas has so many flickering neon lights that, even from space, it will render alien spaceships helpless with epilepsy until we can knock them from orbit with missiles read more »

I Might Be on the FBI Watch List

I’d like to go ahead and clear up why I once delayed an international flight due to a misunderstanding about smuggling pistols. If you’re a regular reader do press on, but this post is primarily written for whichever federal investigator handles the yellow sticky notes in my file folder at the FBI headquarters. In 2004 read more »

How to Talk Australian

Australians have exclamation marks and questions marks, but no concept of periods. If you end a sentence without going up at the end inquisitively, they will think you aren’t finished yet and will stand around waiting. So just say every phrase like it’s a question? Just like this? That is how Australians say everything. Australians read more »

Australians: Our Closest Cousins

You might think that Canada, or perhaps Texas, is the closest approximate to the United States. After all, both share borders with our fine republic and both of them have similar accents. But I contend that Australia is our closest cousin. This makes sense demographically, as Australia and America were both settled by people who read more »

Australia Wants to Kill You

Australian wildlife has two commonalities: everything is either deadly, or sleeping. In the guidebook I perused on the quick plane ride over, I noted the many references to deadly snakes, spiders and jelly fish. There’s even something called a “drop bear,” which sounds horrifying. Australians live in their vicious wonderland with unnerving nonchalance. When my read more »

How to Infiltrate the Canadians

Someday you may need to camouflage yourself in Canada for fun or profit. Maybe you’re an international jewel thief and you need to lay low. Perhaps you’re clandestinely hunting polar bears for your bachelor party. There are lots of reasons you might need to hide your identity north of the border. You’ve no doubt heard read more »

The Ugly American Visits Canada

Toronto is like New York if you slathered PBS all over it. It was my first trip to Canada, although I already had an inkling of Deep North culture through my many Canadian friends and accomplices. Nonetheless, despite all the Canucks I’ve befriended or captured whilst backpacking, it was nice to visit our neighbors in read more »

In Search of My Land

Score another one for Scotch: if you drink enough of it distilleries give you plots of land! Very few drinking problems result in that sort of awards system. The Laphroig Distillery sent me the deed to a square foot of land some months ago, and I decided to track it down. In case you’re curious, read more »

Time Capsule Vacation

Wagoner, Oklahoma is not the Kennebunkport of the Red States, so before I make reference to “our cabin,” kindly divest yourself of any Cape Cod imagery. In fact the term “cabin” should be met with suspicion whenever an Oklahoman drops the term, as we are often referring to a shack sprouting from some anorexic creek, read more »

Exploring Southeast Washington

  Between not posting a travel article in a while and getting a new phone with a video camera built inside, I felt compelled to go exploring. Not too far– I live in Southeast DC. The footage is jittery and the sound quality is horrific, but overall I’m impressed that my mobile phone can do read more »

Burns Suppers: Kilt, Dancing & Murder Etiquette

Today Scots celebrate Burns Night, their most prominent and least violent national holiday. If you’re visiting Scotland or have Scottish ex-pat neighbors, you may be invited to a Burns Supper. If that’s the case, it’s imperative you know proper kilt, dancing and murder etiquette. Pay attention, because kilts come with a little knife which the read more »

Roadside Splendor

Route 66 wasn’t just the main artery between Chicago and Los Angeles fifty years ago, it was an American rite of passage in and of itself. American families would shuttle back and forth on the “mother road” across half the country, stopping periodically in places like Placenta, New Mexico or Methshack, Arizona to eat at read more »

Reykjavik & The Blue Lagoon

How trusting is Iceland? Their prime minister’s home number is listed in the phone book. For those who have never answered constituent phone calls before and don’t appreciate the magnitude of that gesture, how about this: Icelanders don’t use bicycle locks. They park their bikes around Reykjavik, then retrieve them later. Nobody steals them. I read more »

Spreewald Tropical Islands

Imagine that instead of World War II the Germans had dedicated their resources and abundance of rocket scientists towards building extravagant moon bases. Got it? Now picture that moon base about an hour south of Berlin in the middle of a big field. That’s Spreewald’s Tropical Islands. The building is one of the most voluminous read more »

Heidelberg

Extracting travel advice from Germans about their homeland is exceedingly difficult. They’re afraid that if they exhibit the slightest modicum of patriotism or civic pride, we will infer they’re gearing up for WWIII. So they’re very dismissive of otherwise impressive cities and accomplishments. The German flag exists mostly as a label for produce, and you read more »

Why they Put Potatoes on Frederick the Great’s Grave

You might wonder, “Why have all these people been putting potatoes on top of Frederick the Great’s grave?” That’s an excellent question. Before we get to the whole potato-grave thing (presumably why you came to Potsdam), we ought to talk a bit about Prussia first. Pop quiz: What is the only state in the history read more »

Statue Reviews: Lübeck

I’ve seen many a statue in my travels but Germans make the most stirring ones. Most sculptors the world over bequeath to their subjects an expression of ponderously gazing into the future, as if contemplating the ramifications of the heroic deed they are about to perform. German statues all possess the same resolute expression: “I read more »