On the Road

On the Road: 2002

The Original XXX
21 November 2002

"Where are we going?" I asked.
"I'm going to kill you," Lina responded.

That was how Wednesday started.

We were looking for a flipchart to use during a training class and this hilarious (in my opinion) little moment came out of nowhere. I keep trying to tell people the movie XXX is a semi-biographical account of my life story; moments like this one with Lina, a Russian with a part-time attitude, only add credibility to my claim. After all, before XXX there is MMM.

As for XXX, a group of us went to see the American blockbuster one evening. It had some moments of high entertainment, but it was incredibly depressing to think Vin Diesel now commands $20 million U.S. for his... umm... acting ability. He proved once and for all he is a total bonehead. His performance in Saving Private Ryan? An aberration. After all, Steven Spielberg is the master of getting fantastic performances from child (childish?) actors.

The rest of the actors weren't much better. Some of them, particularly those buxom bombshell airheads hanging out at XXX's massive loft, probably had nothing more than pornos on their C.V.

That Asia Argento chick has a future in the movies, though. She's a honey baby.

Anyway, getting back to the training, the students, a group of beautiful, bright Kazakhstanis, were asked to draw pictures representing what they learned during the previous day's training.

One team made a great drawing of a boat sailing through icebergs, breaking them up in order to proceed. The central part of the team's collage was a clever reference to our ice breaker exercise.

Another team also drew several different images, including an off-the-wall take on Malevich's Black Square (an historic Russian painting I quickly dismissed in That Explains the Windmills). One square on the flip chart grid was colored blue. That's right. Shapabayev's Blue Square.

They also drew a head that looked like it was exploding with exclamation points... And the body attached to it? It was wearing a U2 T-shirt.

Even as I joke about using training as a way of shaping and forming young minds, it appears they understand the goal is ed-u-ca-tion!

Later that day, one of the visiting Italians wanted to take group photos. I made my typical comment about how my hair was a mess, only to be informed by one of the Kazakhstani girls that my hair is always a mess.

Ahhh... It was this day in particular that made me realize my past as a clean cut, somewhat smartly dressed, cubicle-bound J.D. Edwards guy were long gone. The realization was a relief; those by-gone days are not missed. And the World's Largest Lemonade Stand has a solid foundation.

That evening featured dinner at Havana followed by several shots and a couple beers at the Buddha Bar.

Our waitress at Havana was named Kittie. She's a funny, friendly, outgoing, cute, quasi-hippie girl with a lot of energy. She's been working on a degree at a sports academy for the past five years. She said she did mostly kick-boxing and ballet. It seems like an odd combo, but I suppose one can actually serve the other. She was also proud to say she excelled in ballet.

She said she did mostly kick-boxing and ballet? Yep. She gave up the sports part of sports academy four years ago now she's hanging out and having fun... For the past four years at the sports academy? OK. Ummm... After these past six months, that actually makes some sense.

I understand, sister.

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