Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Subscribe to our RSS feed:
Shakespeare didn’t do this

Kip Tobin Archive

Kip Tobin

The Athiest and the Believer

November 8th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

LA RIOJA, SPAIN

The atheist and the believer walked together on the path that followed the highway, looking for light.

Everything visible was dampened gray, as if some colossal waterlogged blanket was thrown on top of their sky and hung there, dripping. Incessant raindrops had been pricking their faces for over two hours, and the cutting wind foretold the road ahead without visible end. The others had gone ahead, and they couldn’t see anything except for the highway to their right, the miry path directly in front and the snow-quilted fields to the left that were melting reluctantly in the cold rain.

The panorama was muddy, leaden, soppy.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

Curiosities, Absurdities and Other General Silliness Overheard In and Around the Greater Dayton Area Between June ‘08 and October ‘09

October 12th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

BROOKVILLE, OH

Summer ‘08

“Sleep yourself tight.” –Alice Tobin

“Hey Jim, this headstone says W. A. Goner. That’s funny.” –AT, to Jim Tobin while walking through a cemetery. The headstone actually read “WAGONER”.

“I deserve a paper plate that’s as strong as I am.” Paper plate commercial

“I’m a connoisseur of my own taste”.— AT

“Next thing we’re gonna get is a miniature one of these that has the attitude of a rabid lion.” –Overweight, overly-friendly 50-year-old man talking to a young woman in reference to the chihuahua she’s petting on her lap, which was clearly already pretty miniature, at O’Hare airport, Terminal G, gateG1A. The woman smiled flatly in response, and then, after a second the man added, “Ah-heh-heh”, somewhat nervously.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

“So I Was Just About To Fall Asleep, You Know, Right In That Nebulous Spot Between Being Conscious and Totally Slipping Off Into the Other Side, When the Phone Rings.”

October 4th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

BROOKVILLE, OH-

“It was 2 am on Sunday, my last week in Guadalajara and also higher education hell week when all your papers have to be finished, exams gotta be taken and your stress level is already pressing down a little further on your already-painful digestive system, strained from daily dense Mexican food and a second bout with that bastard Montezuma.”

(more…)


Kip Tobin

A Short Irony-free Correspondence to DFW from Yet Another Howling Fantod

September 13th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

Dear DFW:

One year ago today, you put a rope around your neck and willingly jumped.

For me, the void was immense for weeks on end. Due to academic obligations at the time, I was never really able to deal with it properly, which, of course, is kind of odd because I never met you.

But it remained there for a good half year, and I had to come to grips with the fact that you, my favorite writer —and ironically the only one whose writing made me feel like I should never even really try to write because it seemed like you had said it all— were dead.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

Mil Palabras: Guadalajaran Trees

August 30th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

August 30, 2029

GUADALAJARA, Mexico

In those days, I was finishing up a degree in the Spanish language in Guadalajara, Mexico, riding the wave of what was left of my mid-life postponement, wedged between two countries, two languages, girlfriends, professions, et al. I remember I turned 36 there, straddling the fence between youth and middle-age, having just moved from Madrid where I had lived for almost six years, and the six weeks in Mexico was an understated adjustment, preceded by the initial shock that Mexico was not even second but third world.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

The Electrifying Conclusion to One of the Sloppiest International Moves in Recent History, or Everything (Supposedly) Happens for a Reason

June 16th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

MADRID, SPAIN-

“Passport?” At 3 am I jolt upright in bed. “Where’s my passport?” In 12 hours I’m to get on a plane on an international flight back to the US–to move back after living her for six years–and at that instant a something massive and visceral smacks me awake. I hadn’t seen my passport in a few days. Inés wakes up, asks what’s wrong, says she’ll always lucky at finding things and that she’ll help me look for it. From 3 to 4 am we search all three pieces of luggage and every corner, shelf and nook throughout the apartment. Nowhere. It’s gone. A numbness covers me, because as I think about when I last saw it and where it should be, I can only deduce that I most likely threw it away, inadvertently. Because this final move consisted of giving away, disposing of or recycling all the surplus, I conclude that I either tossed it in the trash, gave it to a friend in some heap of a donation, or it went in the paper recycling bin along with hundreds of other papers that didn’t make the cut.

That’s right, I threw away my passport and realize it 13 hours before my flight.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

Reflections on the Land of Sunshine and Joy

May 29th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

MADRID, SPAIN

Dear I-

In the several week run up to my exit here from your beautiful country, many people, including yourself, have asked me what I will miss about Spain. The main reaction of those who find out I’m leaving resembles this: “You been here how long - six years? Shit man. That’s a long time. Damn.” Most follow with “Why are you leaving?”.

These reactions naturally force you to consider the reality of your exit. These final days have been flashing before me like a movie reel, unable to to see one frame and appreciate it. As I type these words, I can already feel the credits starting to roll.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

El Camino de Santiago: The Essence of Pilgrim

May 26th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

GALICIA, SPAIN-

I awake at 7 am, mostly from unwieldy nervousness. Before I have time to pause and consider what is to come, I strap on my 20 pound backpack, leave the pilgrim’s shelter in Sarría and ascend a firm incline for about 45 minutes into a Tolkien dream sequence.

Once inside, the misty mountain top has no visible exit; white pulpy air hangs still upon all scenery within a 100-foot diameter.

The path levels out, my head soaking in frosty sweat; I feel like am in the heart of a chilly other world, alone.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE COW

March 19th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

MADRID, SPAIN-

Two months ago over a hundred cows were set up one night in Spain capital. Just like that. One day the corners are simple, everyday Spanish-capital corners and the next, every other one is adorned with a myriad  of fiberglass cows painted every sort of design and color imaginable.

This naturally makes the tourists smile and sparkle and snap their photos standing next to these fake plastic  cows.

They clearly don’t read or care about the sign at the bottom of each cow that lists the artists’ name, the title of the piece and the little label that reads in capital letters: PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE COW.

Most of them touch the cow.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

Riveting Movie Critic Quotes, Larry King and You

January 11th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

DAYTON, OH-

Two Christmases ago I sat through DeNiro’s “The Good Shepherd” and watched a sluggish two-hour story put on cruise control until it eventually died, silently, from its own boredom around three hours long.

In knee-jittering, nicotine-withdrawal anxiety, I eagerly nibbled on my nails like nachos waiting for an assassination, unexpected death, gun or fist fight and, around the 2:50 minute mark, I resorted to settling for an argument with the actors throwing things at each that would’ve sufficed as a climax.

But nothing came at the end other than collective sighs by the audience as the credits rolled. I walked out of the theater and saw the billboard poster for the movie.

Larry King, CNN’s famed interviewer, exclaimed “Best spy movie ever!”

Larry King is a jack ass as a movie critic, and his movie critic quote (MCQ) inclusion in this poster was the first time I really noticed how different films are being packaged in the poster format in the internet age.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

Reflections on Freedomland

September 12th, 2008
by Kip Tobin

MIDWEST, USA-

Dear L:

Before I left Madrid this past June, you had sent me a correspondence which had this as its final paragraph:

Please write. Write sometime and tell me things about your crazy country, full of enormous highways, tall cities, weird people, strange drinks (like Dr.Pepper, the most disgusting drink ever made after cicuta, I guess), blonde girls, cute dogs, creepy perfect neighbourhoods [sic], great writers, great musicians, great…and a long etcetera of lights and shadows of that hard to understand country you come from.

That’s quite poetic L, right there at the end with the lights and shadows etceterrata. You must be something of a writer yourself and-being Spanish-you write quite well in English. I know because I try to write in Spanish and it is widely considered to be the final and most difficult faculty to master in any second language.

Tomorrow I return to your country.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

Se puede.

September 2nd, 2008
by Kip Tobin

MIDDLEBURY, VT-

Aquí hay dos historias: una que ya sabes y otra que no.

La que ya sabes cuenta lo que pasó primero, anoche, en un bar que se llama Dos Hermanos. Ya sabes la historia porque a lo mejor has vivido una experiencia parecida o si no, la has visto u oído alguna vez: Empieza con una cerveza y termina con demasiadas. El protagonista se llama Raúl y la noche previa fue su cumpleaños. De hecho, él, como yo entre otros, estuvimos en la historia que no te he contado haciendo lo que ya sabes.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

Glitter and Doom: Spotlight on Tom Waits

August 23rd, 2008
by Kip Tobin

COLUMBUS, OH

There are two kinds of people in my world:

Those who think Tom Waits is some sort of musical demigod and those who think he’s black.

This is not to imply they (or I) might be racist, just uninformed or unacquired.

Maybe they are afraid of his voice?

He does sound a little like Louis Armstrong’s nightmarish great grandfather might’ve sounded after a lifetime of pounding coffin nails and guzzling sour mash. (more…)


Kip Tobin

The Confusion of Red

May 28th, 2008
by Kip Tobin

MADRID, SPAIN

When I lived in Segovia, Spain in 1993 on a study abroad program, I saw my first bullfight.

I was 20 and full of post-teen angst and mid-college confusion, sympathetic to all underdogs in the world, including bulls.

I remember being nauseated by the spectacle: a bull charges into the ring and after 20 minutes is dragged out, punctured, bloodied and lifeless.

Fat Spanish men gnaw on wet cigars and yell vulgarities or praises, depending on the bull and bullfighter.

The bulls rarely stand a chance of surviving a bullfight.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

Without Tits There Is No Paradise

May 2nd, 2008
by Kip Tobin

MADRID, SPAIN

A few weeks ago weeks I was walking down Gran Vía and stumbled across a pre-screening for the final episode of the third season of a Spanish series (inspired by an original Columbian one). (more…)


Kip Tobin

How to Translate “Changed my Mind” Into Spanish, or, It Was Worth Crossing Professional Boundaries and Having Sex with a Student, Overall

March 24th, 2008
by Kip Tobin

MADRID

The message read Feliz Navidad Guapisimo!

Spaniards toss around the word guapo/a as if it were a definite article, but the extra oomph given to any noun with -isimo/a is not to be taken lightly and should be considered serious flirtation.

The number had no name attached to it, but I assumed it was from a girl, as most men don’t call other men guapisimo unless they’re gay or being facetious. (more…)


Kip Tobin

Dissecting the Viking Slap: Parts 1 - 3

January 17th, 2008
by Kip Tobin

MADRID, ESPAÑA

In contemplating this post (possibly the first all-video post on TNB?) I looked into the history of the handshake and why humans have come to do it.

While it may be of (trivial) interest to note that Sir Walter Raleigh is accredited with bringing about the modern handshake (along with tobacco and thus the cigarette, the bastard) and also that it was initially used to reveal no weapons were being held and hence it was a show of trust and so on and so forth, I realized that I am not Wikipedia, that Wikipedia itself is probably only 80% accurate and that if you, dear reader, wish to know more about the handshake, reading it via my vapid digital prose (or non-plagiarized copying from Wiki) is probably not going to wow or educate you anymore than the pertinent text of Wikipedia itself.

So, JGreen and I developed this unique greeting which has been called the Viking S (more…)


Kip Tobin

Breaking Up (With Your Cat) Is Hard To Do

December 31st, 2007
by Kip Tobin

MADRID, SPAIN (with remote editing from BROOKVILLE, OHIO)

My cat has bathroom issues.

This is my fault. I live alone, more or less, and tend to leave the door open. Whenever I go in there, El Lío follows. If I take a shower, he sits idly on the shelf under the sink and watches my blurry profile soap and rinse through the translucent shower curtain. If I stand to relieve myself, he perches himself on the shelf and watches the stream enter the toilet, like it’s a liquid string (which I guess, in a way, it is). If I sit down, he jumps into the bathtub and stares at me intently with black-bubbled pupils, wanting to play a game of finger hide-and-seek-attack .

(more…)


Kip Tobin

My Dentist is a Tantric Demi-God Nobel-Prize Winning Author Look-Alike Who Knows People That Can Explode Rocks With Their Minds. Seriously.

November 2nd, 2007
by Kip Tobin

Islas Filipinas, Madrid, Spain, Iberia, Southwestern Europe

DAY 1

After exchanging the obligatory pleasantries, I sat down across from him at his desk.

I explained to the man that I hadn’t been to a dentist since I moved here, over four years ago. I assured him that I flossed pretty regularly and had a pretty good diet and that, apart from the fact that I was in the bitter two-week psychological throes of quitting smoking, that nothing really alarmed me bucal-wise or was noteworthy. (more…)


Kip Tobin

Encountering the Spanish Bukowski Underground (take II)

October 3rd, 2007
by Kip Tobin

MADRID-

The subway train slows into the station and smooths to a soft, comfortable stop.

It’s the fourth stop on my five-stop ride.

There are no seats available and I find myself standing directly opposite the set of entrance/exit doors.

Doors open, several people exit.

In the wake of their exit stands a rugged-looking hombre in his early 40s, holding a tall-boy of Mahoua Classica in one hand–the Madrileña king of beers–and a cigarette in the other. His dark green trenchcoat is bedraggled and frayed; his well-worn jeans end to reveal a pair of once-white tennis shoes that look like they were soaked for days in asparagus-alimented piss.

At his feet lies an old typewriter. (more…)