Friday, October 30, 2009


Censorship in Saudi Arabia, like many things, has evolved over time. To keep up with modern technology, most censorship of images in magazines and books is done digitally. At bookstores here you can purchase bridal magazines, but the women pictured inside all appear to be wearing long sleeved black shirts under their gowns. Likewise, fashion magazines have pictures of women wearing short dresses or skirts, yet they somehow also have long black leggings on as well.

I don't care for this new digital censorship of images, it's just a bit too slick for me. There was something much more authentic about an era where an entire building full of men scoured every media source with a black pen and scratched out anything they deemed offensive. It's really just not the same to imagine a bunch of graphic design majors carefully editing out legs and arms on Photoshop.

So I was quite pleased to find this children's inner tube package at a toy store last week. The scary giant blob next to the smiling boy is presumably his mother. Thank goodness someone took the time to completely obliterate her image; I can't imagine how offended I would have been to have seen a mother enjoying the day with her child in a swimming pool.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Out Back.

It's still a bit of a surprise, the things I find twenty feet from the back of my house. I guess we have one less wild dog roaming the neighborhood.

I assure you I had absolutely nothing to do with this. I don't even know his name.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


A well placed, highly confidential source has just given me some hot information. According to my source, the Sudanese are obsessed with Toyota Corollas. He says that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir drives a Corolla.

And for further proof, the joke goes like this. A poor Sudanese man wins first prize at a camel race and wins a brand new Lexus. All of his friends come over to him to commiserate and reassure him, "Hey don't feel bad, maybe next time you'll win a Corolla."

I have no idea.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Outlook.

Big excitement here today. For the first time in the two months that I've been living here, I saw clouds in the sky.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I came home to find a delivery menu on my doorstep. For only $8 I could have Polio Marinara delivered to me in the comfort of my living room.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More Making Believe.

I stepped outside my house to wait for my ride and the sound of children laughing drifted up the street. A half block away two little girls were playing in front of their house chasing each other around in the dust and dirt.

The smaller of the two was wearing a red checked keffiyeh wrapped around her head and hiding her face; she was holding a fake plastic shot gun and giggling while chasing the other girl around and around.

It looked like fun.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Just another evening steeped in tradition and history. By which of course I mean going to the mall and eating at Tony Roma's.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good Signs.

A clear sign that:

1. The weather is getting better (high of only 97 today)
2. I am getting used to the weather and the dryness

I went for a nice run today right at the hottest time. Rather than feeling like I was going to die, I felt like I was back in high school in Sacramento running in the afternoon after class.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Run for your Life.

It was one of those mornings, and I'm sure this happens to you all the time too, where I got up early because I had a lot to do at work and really wanted to get in to my office and get started and then I ended up watching Iron Maiden cover bands for like half an hour on YouTube and was late.

Friday, October 2, 2009

High Life.

I went to a fancy restaurant the other night.

How fancy was it?

This restaurant was so fancy that the first floor was a Ferrari/Maserati dealership.

This restaurant was so fancy that the private elevator that takes you to the 2nd floor was completely decorated with inlay pearl and hand crafted metal work.

This restaurant was so fancy, white gloved waiters hovered around me all night waiting to refill my water glass the second I drank out of it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Godfather he is not.

The entrance to the barbershop was framed by two plaster columns that gave the appearance of having been taken from some ancient roman structure, and then painted a light purple. But as I walked inside I was greeted with a much more modest, some would say dingy, shop. My barber was an older Filipino named Yacob who wore a large, jeweled pinky ring and a thin pair of glasses pushed to the very end of his nose. Without much prelude he sat me down and got to work.

My haircut was only interrupted once when Yacob's phone rang. For unknown reasons, his ringtone was not a ring at all but a woman's voice repeating over and over again, “Will the driver of the black BMW please move your vehicle from the loading zone.” He answered with a quick burst of Tagalog, listened for a moment and then hung up the phone with a short laugh. “He owes me money,” was the only explanation before he got back to the business of cutting my hair.

At the end of the haircut Yacob took out a straight razor to clean up my hairline along my neck. He put a fresh blade in, doused it with cologne and then lit the blade on fire with a match that he pulled from his shirt pocket. He waved the flame out and set to work on my neck. I choose to assume that this was done with hygiene in mind.

After the haircut was complete Yacob massaged my neck and back for about 30 seconds and then declared that he was done with me. I thanked him for his good work and was on my way back out through the columns and into the midday heat.