Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Season's Beatings

Christmas time is here, and yours truly is fighting the force-fed holiday cheer. While the typical regiment of lights viewing, ornament hanging, and presents wrapping begets its own joys, it’s been somewhat quelled by the media’s persistent projection of our impending economic doom. Santa’s here at FAO Schwarz to ask all the little boys and girls what they’d like for Christmas but also to remind them not to get their hopes up! As much as I’d like to ride a float and yell via megaphone “LIGHTEN UP, PEOPLE!!!,” I readily admit that there are some seasonal traditions and festivities that I will never get into. Among them, egg nog. I’m pretty sure nog is not a word, but rather a sound you make while drinking it or a racial slur of some sort. It's offensive any way you slice it. And unfortunately the promise of brandy is not likely to change my disposition and justify consuming its other questionable, sallow constituents.

Part of me wonders if my holiday season funk is due to an aversion to most if not all Christmas music. And before you crucify me over being entirely out of sync with the rest of rosy-cheeked, doe-eyed, wreath-hanging America, I challenge anyone to try and endure a single track from any of Manheim Steamroller’s god awful albums. If you’re wondering what this listening experience is like, let me save you the sonic assault on your eardrums. It sounds like Satan decided to join Wham! and play rhythm keytar. It also doesn’t help that everyone and their mother has a Christmas CD recorded. Forgive me for being less than enthusiastic over The Jonas Brothers’ jaunty rendition of “Santa Baby.” I’m also perturbed by everyone’s perennial insistence to perform Handel’s Messiah, which is actually an Easter piece.

No, it appears that the only seasonal music I can endure for any length of time is the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. Sure it’s depressing as all get out, but it’s musical Lithium in my opinion and quite possibly the only thing that can procure patience when stuck behind the Duggar family’s 18 squawking offspring in the check-out lane. Hi I’m Santa’s liaison, and he’s seen fit to give you condoms this year. Merry Christmas, mom and dad. Welcome to the exciting world of prophylactics. Please refrain from procreating any further, and give your uterus and pocketbook a break.

It’s not the kids themselves that make me want to drink. As an uncle of two lady killers in training, I can attest to the fact that children make the holidays worthwhile. Their first Christmas dinner, first snow, and first pants-pissing on Santa’s lap all make for indelible memories. No, it’s the parents who have the potential to derail the Polar Express. Their commercial bloodlust is matched only by their hatred for other consumer parents, also vying for hard to find Nintendo DS games. This year alone, I’ve seen not a few pack mothers adopting the facial expressions of the wolfman, Shaun Ellis.

Truth be told, I would probably rival Clark Griswold’s enthusiasm were Christmas not so stressful. A fact cemented this year by the trampling death of a Wal-Mart employee on Black Friday, all in efforts to acquire $400 HDTVs. Anyone who scheduled Christmas in Pamplona can apparently save a trip. The only appropriate response is, “Are you f$%king kidding me?!” And yet I’m not surprised. This is just another product of a culture that froths at the mouth over all things Hannah Montana. I’m disturbed not so much by 6-yr olds wanting shower gel that will make them smell like Miley Cyrus as I am the not exactly target audience of middle-aged men exhibiting similar fanaticism.

The fact remains that a holiday season proposing selflessness and goodwill toward others is repeatedly anything but. For some reason, we as humans consistently feel the need to outdo each other, even in our seasonal charity. The very fact that banks have Christmas Club savings accounts proves that we spend too much money on each other. Nothin’ says I love you like credit crippling debt, schnookums. Thanks to Rent a Center, we can have this 42” big screen TV that we’ll pay for at least 3 times due to the 29% APR. Maybe one day we’ll get a house together, and it’ll hold all our hopes, dreams, and possessions that we have yet to pay off. Merry Christmas babe! If you hear a stir in the night, let’s hope it’s Santa and not the repo man!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Riot of Passage

There was a time for me when staring the 10 year high school reunion in the face was a mortifying thought. Our culture’s freakish obsession with youth aside, there’s room to blame my guidance counselors. Perhaps not par for the course as far as vocational counseling goes, my high school experience was nothing short of force-fed optimism and unrealistic notions of limitless opportunities on the other side of the diploma. You can be anything you want to be! While I certainly understand their desperation to compel youth against the grain of an assured tenure at the WIC office or an untimely end via Astrovan meth lab explosion, the baseless motivational speaking throughout the years has been too much to take.

Simply put, adults and younglings alike cannot hide how badly they hate growing up. After the fleeting excitement of our three-tiered rites of passage at 16, 18 and 21, cheaper car insurance at 25 is a veritable slap in the face. Women’s cosmetics are inundated with anti-aging agents that are somehow supposed to mysteriously and magically abate the reaper. Let’s not mention that the most fashionable form is botulism that’s injected into your face. But my favorite exercise in denial is the often employed euphemism: He ages gracefully, which is offensive on so many levels. You might as well say: He decomposes at a less alarming rate than most.

My disdain for the mourning-for-loss-of-youth camp notwithstanding, I haven’t exactly endorsed run of the mill adulthood. That is to say, at 27 years old, I’m still not a homeowner. *gasp* And it’s not on account of insurmountable debt, deficient credit, a lack of monetary means or any of the other well-worn paths to financial freedom. Just good ole indifference. And it hasn’t mattered to me that I’ve just been throwing my money away as a renter, as I’ve been frequently told. Equity, schmequity. I realized pretty soon after graduating college that there are just certain aspects of adulthood that will never appeal to me. Among them, complying with an HOA’s onerous regulations. That’s right. I find no interest in the color of brick, nor do I espouse the urgency of addressing maverick homebuilders. The way I see it, a 30 year financial raincloud over your head warrants some measure of autonomy.

As of late, however, my avid disinterest in home ownership has turned to nominal curiosity in other residency possibilities. I’ve never been one to drive around looking doe-eyed at the 5,000+ square foot behemoths in doctorville, but my time in the land of tenants has run its course. Though there’s something to be said for paying to have a good landlord take care of you, there’s absolutely no appeal to living within a whisper of a few dozen people. Similar to the college experience, I am constantly bombarded with mystery smells that generally fall into the categories of ethnic food or BM, which themselves are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish. Though I have a back yard, it’s barely big enough for my dog to be able to bend a biscuit. It also must have a sign that says “City Dump” because sidewalk litterers and my generous upstairs neighbors have seen fit to dispose of the following: half of a cell phone charger, an OSU-orange condom, a month’s worth of cigarette butts, a partially unwrapped tampon, an impromptu abortion rusty wire hanger, an iced honey bun wrapper, an empty pack of Newports and a rogue racquetball.

But the absolute worst aspect of apartment life has to be laundry management. Having been burned by the college variant, I tend to never trust a coin-op washer and dryer. There’s a learning curve that costs about $8.25 and whatever the price tag to replace 2 to 3 loads of your clothes. Just so you know, “Warm” means “Center of the earth magma hot” and “Dryer” means “Warming dampifier.” I guess the powers that be are maximizing their profit margins by not replacing the heating coils but every 25 years. So in light of such lackluster facilities, I often appeal to local friends and family for laundry support. One particular morning a couple weeks ago, I had a three-part horrifying realization. A) At 7:40, I was running the risk of being late to an 8:00 meeting at work. B) I had left a heaping basket o’ laundry in my backseat the night prior, and it needed to be transported to my apartment stat. C) An impromptu monsoon had made its way to landlocked Oklahoma that very morning. Cue the Benny Hill music and what commenced was a humorous exercise in futility. For me, rock bottom was chasing my dress socks down the gutter as the rain carried them into a busy intersection. It was at that moment that I considered it more honorable to begin planning who will wipe my senior ass than to parade my knickers in front of unsuspecting commuters.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Breakfast of Champions

Nothing can make me laugh harder (and simultaneously cringe) than a well thought out commercial. Their metropolitan antics coupled with raucous recitation of dubious statistics always incite sadistic glee on my part. But I’m reminded that I probably enjoy not so much the truth of as I do their megaphone style presentation of such startling facts as: Did you know that pregnant mothers who smoke cause complications for their babies in the womb? 6 out of 10 people who smoke die younger than they wanted to! Their horrific demonstrations have escalated to the height of artistic pretentiousness. Ice sculptures of pregnant mothers melting in the sun eventually fall to pieces and expose their unprotected unborn. Très tragique. The avant-garde demonstrations only cement the fact that there’s a future in activism for vocationally stymied students with liberal arts degrees. The exploits have reinforced the notion that you can scare someone into caring for themselves, when the truth alone isn’t sufficient. The crowds of asterisk-faced onlookers are more likely to acquiesce to cessation in the hopes that these hippies will stop interrupting traffic with their sidewalk sit-ins.

Though not a smoker, I’m not the best at maintaining this vessel of inner light. My latest foot in the grave is a complete and utter abandonment of morning nutrition. I don’t have anything against breakfast, but I grow weary of its enthusiasts. Anytime that I mention that I’m not a breakfast person in a relatively crowded setting, there’s always at least one helpful dietician who has to chime in that it’s the most important meal of the day. Thank you, ma’am, for your fervent elucidation on searing hot, obvious truth and your abiding endorsement of our nation’s dairy farmers. What’s that you say? Cigarettes are bad too? What do you mean MSG can encourage heart disease?

It’s not that I don’t like breakfast food. Quite the contrary. I’d like to thank IHOP, Perkin’s and Cracker Barrel for giving America all the fried eggs it can handle after 10:30 AM. But even the eggs of free range chickens aren’t immune from the disdain of breakfast train bandits. I’m sure that not even buying the nauseating milk carton full of de-shelled, magically cholesterol free “yechs” will assuage their wrath. Cereal is no longer fun or colorful and is hardly palatable these days, having entered the arena of equine cuisine. I’m convinced that Kashi should be sold not so much in a box as it should a feedbag. I maintain that people generally have to be tricked into willingly betraying their taste buds to eat healthy. The once incorruptible Quaker has had to be sexed up with artificial flavoring and coloring to make oatmeal even remotely appealing to children.

My lack of interest in AM dining, I fear, is far less attributable to the decline in food choices. From 6 to 10 o’clock every morning, my level of consciousness is slightly above that of PVS patients. Beyond the chore of self-grooming, the additional task of heating a pan and cracking an egg is unthinkable. I’m just too lazy and I love sleep too much, which is probably why energy drinks will be the final nail in my coffin. I had originally thought Taurine was a gasoline additive, supported by the fact that it’s currently in 75% of beverages purchased at gas stations. And being that there’s a convenience store halfway between home and work, my breakfasts as of late have become quite a shameful display of malnutrition. There was a time when moon pies, trail mix and iced honey buns would have been inconceivable as road trip rations, let alone breakfast.

My disgraceful regiment would not be complete without the purchase of an additional energy shot at the register. Housed in travel shampoo bottles, these overly marketed whores promise 5-6 hours of energy by way of 8,333% recommended daily value of vitamin B12. Admittedly, my consumption of these marvels is not due to a personal energy crisis as much as it is a raw curiosity as to how someone can legally purchase liquid crack, ingest it and not die. If anything, I’d think that they’d bestow me with superhuman powers. But absent the ability to fly, I'll settle for their ability to jar me out of a coma and usher me into the drone of a productive 9 to 5.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Short Fuse Chronicles - Pt. 2

There is a current blight on restaurant establishments. I’m not sure what’s so difficult about filling a cup, but I’ve encountered an endemic lack of drink lid etiquette. Or lidiquette. There’s a series of escalating offenses, which I’ll enumerate with all the arraigning heat I can muster.

  • Third Degree LD (Lidiquette Deficiency) – Also known as Negligent Pantslaughter. It entails the offender carelessly filling the drink, letting soda drip all over the sides so that there is no safe way to hold the cup. Studies show that the messier the cup, the less inclined the offender is to offer napkins to clean up their mess. It almost always results in a beverage-to-clothing transfer, which makes yours truly look like he soiled himself. It also assures an afternoon of sticky handshakes.

  • Second Degree LD – The Overfill. Do not mistake a food worker’s inattentiveness for generosity. The only reason you received 44+ ounces is because Maggie Methhead was recounting her weekend exploits at the county jail to her coworkers. Said transgressors should probably be barred from drawing their children a bath. Without fail, cups filled to the brim overflow onto the lid after the drinking straw is employed, creating an unwelcome, carbonated reservoir susceptible to spills. And who doesn’t love the oh-so-graceful lid slurp?

  • First Degree LD – The ISL (Improperly Secured Lid). The ISL is the gravest of all drink trespasses and warrants criminal lidigation. Cue laugh track. In all seriousness, nothing can get me fired up faster than a false gesture of security. In true psych! fashion, the ISL reveals its injurious nature approximately 0.5 seconds after the drink hand-off. The truly priceless moment occurs just after the cup's contents soak your crotch. The worker stares at you with an expression saying Whaa happened? like it was entirely your fault.
There are 3 words that make me cringe like no other. You’ve all been there, sitting and enjoying a nice family dinner while watching Everybody Loves Raymond reruns, completely unaware of your immanent danger. And then you recognize a familiar whistling ditty and you think “No, not again. Not now!” Then those 3 words break into your home and pillage the innocence of your Cleaveresque family unit. Natural male enhancement. Record scratch. Is there anything more awkward? Nothing can kill a family time vibe like an ED prescription commercial. It’s hard enough for parents to explain to their kids where babies come from, let alone why Bob can’t keep from smiling. How many first dates meeting the parents have been ruined by the endless marketing for pecker pills? Fathers attempting to suppress the eagerness of their daughter’s date find their threats supplanted with a call for more libido. Is that really a pressing concern for humans in general? In rebuttal, I submit as Exhibit A the population of Calcutta. Do they have NME (I can’t bring myself to type it again) in India? The numbers speak otherwise. And the longstanding incumbent Viagra apparently just isn’t doing the trick anymore. It doesn’t matter if it’s Levitra, Cialis, Enzyte or Dr. Weinerstein’s Wang Bang Juice. The sheer volume of pills attests to their obvious inefficacy. If they did work, half of America would walk around with carpet rolls stowed away in their pants, because men don’t know when to stop feeding their locker room insecurities. And it’s fitting, I suppose, that priapism is a common side effect (if not the consequence of what I’m sure is frequent overdose). You want libido? You’ve got it… for 24 hours. Have fun and avoid all casual and professional settings, as well as loose fitting clothing.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Blackbird Fly

Yesterday at work began like any other day, that is, until I overheard someone telling our manager that there was a “big, black bird” in the office. Being the nosy concerned person that I am, I had to investigate this development and personally assess the situation. There were two assumptions that I made upon hearing the bird news, (1) that the bird had flown into our lobby through the front door and was therefore a public concern, and (2) despite rumors of bulk, any blackbird would be easily herded back through the front door. After craning my neck through a few windows, birdzilla was nowhere to be found. It appeared that his reputation and nuisance were grossly exaggerated.

A bit deflated, I joined the coworker who voiced the complaint, only to find her staring at a gaping hole in our ceiling. Two ceiling tiles had been moved on account of a leak and there, perched on a cubicle wall two feet from my head, was the biggest ass pigeon (BAP) I’d ever seen in my life. For the record, BAP was not black but a very dark gray. But critiquing someone’s capacity to recount details took a back seat to the task set before us, that of depigeoning the office. You would think it not too difficult to persuade our guest that he had not happened upon a new, suitable habitat. But BAP was oblivious to that which was apparent to the prairie-dogging heads of every coworker tipped off by his arrival. He simply did not belong in cubicle world, a fact proven by everyone’s immediate and decisive revulsion.

As an aside, Wal-Mart could take a page out of our book. I’ve noticed that their cathedral-like ceilings have enabled avian squatters. I can coexist with nature like anyone else, but I highly doubt that your hourly mistings can effectively cleanse the produce of bird shit. Be it a sonic frequency emitter or a pre-recorded loop of birds of prey, a little action on your part can prevent citrus from becoming shitrus.

Thus, what ensued was a good half hour of chasing the big ass pigeon from one end of the office to the other, in the hopes that he would see the light of an opened door. The constant flutter of wings and the characteristic pigeon cooing preceded heads dropping and several Oh Jesus!! and Oh my gawd!!s. What began as mildly entertaining quickly devolved into an annoying and unproductive marathon of animal control. Here is a sampling of a few ineffective techniques:

  1. Hands up in the air in mock surrender (given that there’s a 2-3 feet between fingertips and ceiling that he can fly over)

  2. Hands up in the air holding a jacket / sweater / tarp to give the appearance of a larger, more threatening predator

  3. Making the Tch tch tch (or however you transcribe the inhaling, pet-beckoning noise people make) You’re okay… Pretty bird… tch tch tch

After several rounds of this nonsense and an oddly sympathetic smack into window glass, it was evident that none of us were bird whisperers. All the hours I’ve logged watching Animal Planet yielded nothing of benefit for Operation Office Oust. Our best bet was to try and frighten this thing into freedom. So the delegation began, and coworkers took to their posts. I can’t say that there was a method to the madness, but for some reason jumping and frantic waving of the arms sent BAP in an opposite direction. Somewhere along the way I had time to snap a few low-res cell phone pics of the feathery fiasco, which I say is a testament to the duration of the humans/animal kingdom standoff and in no way indicts me of a lack of team spirit. Eventually, BAP saw the light through the glassy alcove on the west end of the building. His freedom immanent, he endured another unceremonious faceplant into the glass, a premature celebration perhaps, before yours truly shepherded him through the door, his flight path following a rather wobbly trajectory.

Returning to an industrious state of mind proved to be problematic. A hilarious sequence of events, yes, but germ paranoia quickly erupted. Is there poop on my desk? Is there poop on me? Several hand washings commenced, followed by full body baths in hand-sanitizer. Those weathering the stressors of their normal workday found themselves now preoccupied with CDC’s report on the immanence of Avian flu.

In retrospect, the morning’s antics had all the makings of a great video montage. Despite the misnomer, I found myself humming The Beatles’ Blackbird and trying to invent a witty revision to the lyrics. Striking out, I figured that the original song was funnier. McCartney’s rising-above-adversity subtext was all it took to transform the office hullabaloo into pigeon empowerment. Take these broken wings and learn to fly… All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Hero Falls

Designer of the Pringles packaging system, Fredric J. Baur, died May 4th at a hospital in his home town of Cincinnati. In commemoration of his life’s work, Baur’s wishes were that a portion of his remains be buried in one of his iconic tubular canisters. Memorial services were restricted to family and coworkers and experienced a temporary delay due to the need to empty the cardboard urn of crumbs. Excess ashes were raffled off as mementos in commemorative Snack Stacks.

Proctor & Gamble catered the family meal, which according to some sources lacked a lot to be desired. In addition to the potato crisps, attendees partook of various P&G products, including Head & Shoulders, Noxzema, Eukanuba, Tampax, Vicks and Swiffer. Said one distant uncle, “I think I’ll pass on the Folgers and try the Febreze.” Reflecting on her father’s long-standing heart condition, Linda Baur stated, “Once it stops, you just drop.” She then wiped her tearful face with a Puffs Plus tissue.

In efforts to lighten the mood, Mr. Julius Pringles, the company mascot, appeared in big head fashion, spreading good morale and Grab and Go! packs. A mechanical bull was also present graveside, which appeared to be in celebration of the potato crisp’s unique hyperbolic paraboloid saddle shape, though it was hardly used. Chairman and CEO A.G. Lafley commented, “This is no laughing matter. This is a funeral, not a company picnic. What idiot planned this thing?”

In memoriam, Pringles has announced 2 additional flavors to hit the 2008 summer market:

Sour Cremains ‘N Urnion
Kickin’ the Bucket BBQ

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Keffiyeh Kerfuffle

Ladies and gentlemen, the terrorists are at it again. What kind of world do we live in when even our deep-fried confections aren’t safe? In case you hadn’t heard, Dunkin’ Donuts recently pulled a web ad featuring Rachael Ray in which the celebrity’s paisley scarf was mistaken for a keffiyeh. Despite objection from the company, conservative commentators and blogging pundits such as Michelle Malkin maintained that sporting such equivocal apparel “offers symbolic support for Muslim extremism and terrorism.” It’s times like this when I’m so glad that others are willing to think for me. I would have hated to have turned a blind eye to what was clearly jihadi chic and mistakenly endorsed Palestinian terrorism with the purchase of an iced coffiyeh coffee. Maybe the reason I missed Rachael Ray’s clear gesture of Palestinian solidarity was that the keffiyeh is generally worn over the head by women and men alike, or that it has also been worn by non-terrorists and U.S. troops.

But since the issue’s been tabled, I’ve had suspicions of Rachael Ray’s Islamic sympathies for a while now. Months before she decided to don terrorist couture, I thought her book titled More Ideas for 30-Minute IEDs was particularly suspect. Not to mention, her recipes as of late have called for an exorbitant use of gunpowder and malice. Just the other day, I could have sworn that instead of her trademark slogan Yum-O!, she let slip a rather Middle Easterny Blam-O! Check out her latest “Gaga for Gaza” menu:

  • Arafat-free falafel and fennel

  • Hamas humvee hummus

  • “You go kaboom” baba ghanoush

  • Spicy intifada frittatas

  • Talibananas foster
It’s hard to say whether said controversy speaks more to corporate pussification or to how some individuals’ degree of sensitivity is matched only by their ignorance. Suppose Rachael Ray actually wore a keffiyeh. How does it follow that a perky celebrity as American as apple pie is giving credence to Palestinian apologists? Does anyone make political statements with their attire these days? (Note to self: reconsider the Windsor since it’s Cheney’s knot of choice) Saying that all people wearing keffiyehs are terrorist sympathizers is like saying all people who wear glasses and tweed jackets are college professors. It just doesn’t follow. Surely more time can be spent dealing with legitimate domestic concerns instead of the potentially insidious marketing of a donut franchise. Then again, the ass fattening of America may be at the top of Al Qaeda’s agenda. That way, when they finally cross our shores, we won’t be able to run to safety without rolling a cankle.

Now this would be justifiable cause for concern.

Friday, May 30, 2008

There Is No Vacuum, Only Zuul

Paging Dr. Venkman and his Ghostbusting entourage. It seems that someone has misplaced or hocked their proton pack (I personally think it was Egon), and it has consequently fallen into the unskilled hands of our office cleaning lady.

Unless there has been a surge of paranormal activity in the dregs of Oklahoma (not entirely unwarranted), why is such a sophisticated piece of equipment in the employ of janitorial services? Posing as a vacuum, no less. As an aside, does anybody else feel that awkward tension as a stranger empties the trash that you're perfectly capable of taking out yourself? Hey... sorry... let me just... move my... chair.
Well in any case, kudos to the Ghostbusters for designing a nuclear accelerator with uses other than removing ectoplasm. Your form meets multi-functionality approach should secure a moderately successful QVC stint. Which is more than I can say for the last Ronco product I purchased. I think a good trademark phrase you could use is Whether Poltergeist or dust, it's a must! but it's a bit marble-mouthed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

But I Still Love Technology...

Filling up at $3.79 per gallon hurts. I don’t care if you drive a weed eater to work, you’re going to pay through the nose for gas. People seem to automatically assume that because I drive a hybrid (ahem, Mr. Snooty McSnobberson), I’ve somehow managed to slip through the grip of the oil tycoons. Not so, mein freund. Hybrids are a means of appeasement. They use gas and electricity. Contrary to popular belief, I can’t coast around town on fumes for two weeks. Gas mileage is always a selling point for dealerships, and they wave that 48* MPG under your nose like fresh-baked brownies. There’s always an asterisk. In this case, it means *test conditions achieving 48 MPG were downhill, on ice, in neutral, and being pushed by a tsunami.

The ‘Brid’s über-cool, Earth-huggyness is tempered by several factors. Next to nil horsepower. Strike one. Next to nil capability of transporting large objects. Strike two. A horn that trumpets like Babar, the infirm and emaciated baby elephant. Strike three. I noticed this the other night as I tried to reprimand some idiot who crossed over two lanes of traffic with the urgency of a tranquilized giant sloth. “You freakin idiot! Take this!!!” eeeeeeeEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!! [the horn mysteriously changes pitch, sounding remarkably like Flipper in puberty]

Heaven forbid that I need some work done on the bath toy on wheels. The singular local Honda dealer charges double for oil changes on hybrids, and their service reps remain consistently heavy handed in their douchebaggery. No surprise. With a name like Milo Gordon, you can expect a level of customer service akin to Dell’s outsourced technical support. Have you try turn de computer on? They also come equipped with the personality of potted meat. Hey Dudley Do-Nothing, don’t take it out on me because your boss hasn’t upgraded your OS since Windows 3.0. You’ve still got Minesweeper.

So I was not excited about taking the Brid in when my CD player went kaput last week. It wasn’t 30 minutes and they had called me back, “Yeah, looks like that CD player’s shot. For us to order you a new one… Well, that’s gonna run you $867. But if you want us to take out your current one and send it off to have it looked at, that’ll cost about two and a half.” I had to stifle my laughter. Wait, they were serious. $867 for an ’04 factory stereo whose functions were limited to playing CDs and picking up local radio stations. It’s a few circuits more than a glorified alarm clock. And aesthetically speaking, the same LCD was top of the line in 1996 when the TI-83 streamlined Trigonometry class work. And how gracious of them to offer to send it away for the slight possibility that someone could fix it. For only $250. Pocket change.

I realize that a CD player is nothing more than a creature comfort. But a week and a half of doing without has reminded me why I hate radio. There’s only so many morning shows and Way Back Wednesdays that I can take. If anything, I tune in to listen to music, not to listen to you yarn about American Idol contestants. I tried to give it a shot. I swear I did. But it appears that they haven’t considered supplementing their four-song playlist. I even got semi-excited at the prospect of being caller number nine and winning Toughman tickets. Imagine the buzzkill when I was instructed to “just call 53-MAGIC,” only to find myself stymied by a QWERTY keypad. I guess if I still had a Nokia 3310 or owned a landline this wouldn’t be an issue, but no such luck. And after working out the number in my head, fate would have it that I was caller number ten. The gods must be smiling at my misfortune.

The rain cloud parted, though, when I made the executive decision to go to Best Buy, the Mecca of technology. Techa for short. There’s no other place that consolidates my entertainment and gadgetry interests while simultaneously outing my inner geekdom. Yes, I am a card-carrying member of the Geek Squad. In no time flat, they offered a beefy replacement for the substandard wind-up toy currently sitting in my dash.

“Do you want an iPod hookup?”
“Heck yes.”
“Satellite radio capability?”
“Maybe, I hadn’t really thought about…”
"I don't have..."
“HD Radio?”
“I don’t even know what that...”
“Don't worry, it's all included. That’ll be $129.”
“Are you in a committed relationship?”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Slutbucks, Inc.

The surplus of controversy lately amuses me. Given the dictum, "Choose your battles," it's as if some have said, "Oh I will. And I'll pick many more meaningless squabbles along the way." So I wasn't surprised yesterday when I read that Starbuck's new logo had come under fire. Not having noticed the change after several previous visits, I had to Google it to see the source of the latest threat to America's moral fiber. *sigh* I knew where this was going. Oh how I love Christian media watchdog organizations. They give you so much material to work with. True to form, those expecting the sanctity of their coffee cups have called for a national boycott of Starbucks on account of the new logo.

“The Starbucks logo has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute," explains Mark Dice, founder of the group [The Resistance]. "Need I say more? It's extremely poor taste, and the company might as well call themselves, Slutbucks."

It’s nice to know that our moral battles have been downgraded to denigrating beverage containers. I’ll overlook the misnomer of "legs," even though it’s instrumental to Mr. Dice’s pornographic indictment of the alleged mersluts. What’s more interesting is how the asinine commentary continues. "The woman is actually a siren, not a mermaid, which in Greek mythology lures people to them with their beautiful songs, and then kills them," explains Mark Dice.

There’s a shard of truth in the last statement. The Starbuck’s logo is a picture of a siren, albeit a two-tailed siren. And it’s here that one realizes Mark misses the corporation’s intentional maritime imagery: the Melville reference of the company name, being based out of Seattle, etc. While Greek sirens were bird-women of sorts, mermaids of lore sang to sailors, lulling them to a shipwreck on rocky shores. Sure there’s something to be said of Starbucks success and lure, but the image is far less malicious than it is a humorous commentary on a cultural lack of moderation.

But let’s suppose the charges are true. If I was a developing company wanting to implement the proverbial “sex sells” marketing strategy, I think that I would venture away from fish porn. Nothing makes men go gaga for coffee like half-naked half-fish half-women. Right. I’m not ruling out that there are certain types of people that would go for that sort of thing, but I’m willing to bet that they’re on the fringes of society. These are the people who are probably holding out for Princess Ariel to rebel against her child star image and do a Playboy spread.

The new logo is hardly new, since it is a revision of Starbuck’s pre-1987 logo. An unnecessary chronology reveals that Ms. Starslut’s seductively sinister fins and breasts are in most incarnations. So why the hubbub now? The prosecution’s case hinges on what is most likely Mark Douche’s junior high memories of peeking at the Kama Sutra. Or his unhealthy fascination with Ron Howard's 1984 romantic comedy Splash.

Said controversy suggests the high possibility that, given the reaction to a coffee cup, there are some individuals who couldn’t abide the nudity of even classical art. It’s a slippery slope from Boticelli to skin mags, my friend. Or so says the teachings of various polygamist sects. These would make the most intolerable parents at PTA meetings, and God forbid someone suggest a field trip to The Met for an afternoon of Renaissance areola gazing. But it begs playing out, so if you’ll indulge me…

Honey, I’m going to take my hands off of your eyes, and what you’ll see might scare you. Some people call this art, but we call it smut. This one was painted by Peter Paul Rubens during the Baroque period. Maybe that's why he went broke. Haha, you liked daddy's joke didn't you? Mr. Boobens, er, Rubens titled this one “Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus.” And that’s exactly what happens when you show boobs. People get raped. You don’t want anyone to get raped, do you honey? No, I didn't think so. Me neither, and that’s why daddy only drinks Maxwell House now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Short Fuse Chronicles - Pt. 1

What follows is the first installment of things that really get my goat. And I don't even own a goat.

Why was I watching 60 Minutes? That’s beside the point. What matters is that Andy Rooney has somehow managed to abate death well into 2008. I’m amazed that the squawking buzzard of a man still finds things worth berating. Shouldn’t he be more concerned with estate planning or that lump that has mysteriously appeared on his lip? It’s evident that he’s scraping the bottom of the barrel to find fresh objects of derision. This particular night, he decided to turn the customary disdain on his fans and their oh-so-bothersome gifts that they shower on him. Two solid minutes of “I don’t care for this” and “I don’t care for that.” “This is a really nice work of art, Dave, but NO I will not have lunch with you any time soon.” What an ungrateful old codger. He should restrict the critiques to his sphere of influence, not sparing the cooks who plan menus at his assisted living facility. I get it that producers intend him to be some sort of comic relief from the 58 other minutes of real, palpable news. But parading an octogenarian’s senility is just in bad taste. Funny, yes, but my laughs would become increasingly repressed if cameras were to follow him as he got lost on the subway or confused in the check-out lane. How dare you, CBS. How dare you.

Is child mobility a pressing concern? It must be for someone to have invented shoes with wheels. No, not like Xanadu. I’m not talking about roller skates. I’m talking about Heelys, the sneakers with one or more retractable wheels in the heel. The new craze is called “heeling,” (not healing, like Locke on LOST island) which is a derivative of skating and all things X-Games. I call it Extreme Walking. Anyone in the vicinity of a heeler must engage in defensive walking and/or driving. I realized this the other day, as a pre-pubescent bullet ricocheted off my shopping cart. For all their novelty, Heelys don’t come equipped with a requisite braking mechanism. Either that or the transition from hot wheels to a decelerating run is too much to ask. It’s as if heeling has transformed our youth into the Wheelers from the über-creepy movie Return to Oz. Highway patrol officers motivated by their quotas would have a field day snagging all the Road Runners as they zip and weave through lanes of consumer traffic. All I’m saying is that from now on, I'll have to go shopping with a radar gun and spike strip in hand.

In my opinion, Japanese steakhouses are of the upper echelon of dining out. Sure, you may lose your eyebrows to the flames, but wasn’t it worth it for the terrorized look on the kids’ faces? From the culinary acrobatics to the eggcorns, it’s just top notch. But nothing can diffuse my anticipation faster than a Caucasian hibachi chef walking up to our table. I’d say that in the last year, I’ve had an 85% chance of being served by John Smith (aka privileged student from local community college). There's a guidance counselor somewhere who has vocational considerations of her own to work out, because something is seriously wrong with this picture. I don’t go to Los Tres Amigos to order a shawarma. Neither do Bedouin women frequent Abercrombie & Fitch. So why should I expect a corn-fed farm boy to know how to handle a Mahi-mahi filet? No matter how percussive he got with his utensils, it was clear that John’s asian persuasion was limited to his forearm tattoos. Unless of course he secretly nursed an interest in Hello Kitty and Manga. People, stick to what you know.

Speaking of which, what does a 19 year old know about running a city? What's this you say? That's right. The AP just announced that a college freshman was elected as mayor of Muskogee, OK. He wasn't running against the incumbent, but he did square off against a former mayor of Muskogee and still walked away with 70% of the popular vote. Really? I might expect this of a town sporting a double-digit population, not a town of 38,000 people. Was there no one more qualified than some kid sweating the pressures of rush week? I mean, I'm not expecting some Poli Sci major to spring out of what I'm sure is a predominantly agrarian community. But is Boy Wonder going to pencil in city council meetings between the Biology labs and intramural tournaments? Perhaps you can RSVP for his inaugural celebration via Facebook, and the event would remind you to bring supplies for beer pong. I don't think it's too much to ask for someone with more (dare I say it?) experience. *gasp* Surely a neighboring city could loan a mayor for a few months while Muskogee got their shit in gear. Who's going to be patting themselves on the back over their Guiness record-breaking when their still acne-prone wunderkind tries to dodge the bullets of commercial zoning ordinances and multi-million dollar school bonds? I'm sure that stretching $50 to cover a semester's worth of Ramen is more than enough prep for a job of this caliber.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mamase Mamasa Mamakosse

A very Happy Mother's Day to all of you who now cringe when someone says the word "crowning." You're a stronger human than I. If you haven't already, spend some time with your respective matriarchs. Your mother could be June Cleaver in the flesh. Or it's possible that another few years of you being under her roof would have turned her into Andrea Yates. Whatever the case, find a way to show honor with a nasty glittery card, celebratory cookie cake, or if your lazy ass can't think of anything, send a chintzy ecard.

And apropos of nothing, I decided to post my latest playlist. Namaste.

Dance of the Knights - Prokofiev
Hysteria - Muse
The End - My Chemical Romance
Don't Hold Back - The Sleeping
Why Do I Keep Counting? - The Killers
Gotta Be Somebody's Blues - Jimmy Eat World
Never There - Hoobastank
Inside the Fire - Disturbed
Say (All I Need) - OneRepublic
Hallelujah - Paramore
The Poet Acts - Philip Glass
What If - Coldplay
A Bad Dream - Keane
The Fallen - Franz Ferdinand
Paralyzed - The Used
Satellite - Guster
Make This Go On Forever - Snow Patrol
Not Enough - Our Lady Peace
My Mathematical Mind - Spoon
Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend
Breath - Breaking Benjamin
Attack - 30 Seconds To Mars
Prelude 12/21 - AFI
Can't Take It - The All-American Rejects
Hide and Seek (Ciaran Hamilton remix) - Imogen Heap
Inevitable - Anberlin
Island - The Starting Line
Headlights - The Classic Crime
Spiders - Lovedrug
Right Where It Belongs - NIN

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Good Morning, Malady

Last week it was evident that my least favorite time of year was in full swing. Spring usually typifies growth, birth, life after death and renewal. You know, happy fun stuff. But after having to categorize my sneezes on the Fujita scale, enough was enough. Every year since my early 20s, I’ve accepted that I’ll have to endure two solid months of upper-respiratory hell. And yet, I always seem to get caught off guard by Mother Nature’s coup de main. It’s as if I wake up one morning mysteriously transported to the dankest, dustiest house imaginable.

So I suffer from hay fever, aka allergic rhinitis. It’s not the end of the world. Believe me, I’d rather take a temporary hit to liveliness than have to tolerate a chronically spastic colon. But still, the torment seems disproportionate when considering nature’s harassing agent: pollen. Recalling my 5th grade science class, what exactly is pollen again? The male gametes of plants. That’s right. What a comforting thought that for two months, I get the privilege of lining my sinuses with flora’s man-seed. It’s nice to know that even in nature males fail to exercise sexual discretion or restraint. Way to go, nature. Thanks for perpetuating stereotypes and retarding steps toward gender equality.

Daddy, when did you and Mommy decide to have a baby?

Well son, when a man reaches a certain age, he realizes that he loves someone. And the most responsible thing he can do is to encase his sperm in cellulose and disperse it to wherever the wind may blow. It just so happened that Mommy happened to be a few miles north, and even though we’d never met, we had something special the moment my pollen landed on her pistil. Yes, your germination was an act of indiscretion, but the important thing to remember is that Mommy and Daddy loved each other.

Apparently a perk of joining the pollen platoon is a cosmetic overhaul of your face. We’ll call it Extreme Makeover: Assface Edition. Benefactors will receive allergic shiners and edema of the eyes. Google it. It’s just as pleasant as it sounds. Both of which render yours truly as a younger but equally haggard sibling of Emperor Palpatine. As tempting as the dark side was, the Sith reneged on the promise of Force Lightning. I’m still bitter about it. Then there's the curious phenomenon of an itchy nasal cavity and throat, a sensation I'm sure I could only replicate by snorting a line of Pop Rocks. It's an impossible itch to scratch and after several unsuccessful and obnoxious snorts, I've seriously considered recruiting the Scrubbing Bubbles to do the job.

There seems to be no medical consensus on what prescription to use when your eyes adopt the texture of congealed pudding. Having moved several times, every doctor I’ve seen has prescribed something different. The least favorite of which were milky white eye drops, and they tasted disgusting. How do I know how they taste, you ask? Because I was unwillingly educated in how the lachrymal ducts drain into the sinus cavity. All those years of watching Ripley’s freaks shoot milk from their eyes finally made sense.

Whether Zyrtec, Claritin-D or even your first generation anti-histamines like Benedryl (aka elephant tranquilizers), allergy medication is damage control at best. But some insist that taking bee pollen or honey from local hives can eventually result in long-term tolerance to the nuisance. Really? Let’s see what happens when we apply that logic to rattlesnake venom. Such a suggestion also demonstrates the scholastic ineptitude of pollen enthusiasts. They’d have to explain why bees have suddenly traded their interest in brightly colored, fragrant plants for that in ragweed, trees and various grasses. That is to say, insect-pollinated plants are not the problem, so honey derived from which could not effectively “cure” you of your allergies.

Electron microscope renderings actually shed light on pollen's abrasive personality. Is it a ball with countless, pointy barbs that hook into the lining of your sinuses? Or is it a miniature version of the new breed of "toys" that now fill the crane vending machines at the local mall? Whatever the case, I find them both irritating to the core.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Survival of the Dimmest

When I was a child, power outages were exciting, mysterious and a bit frightening when severe weather was involved. They became an opportunity for family bonding, initiating the ever popular scavenger hunt for candles and matches. When the powers that be tarried a little longer than usual, evenings without electricity suggested the remote possibility of setting up camp in the living room. That is until the lights flickered and everyone scattered to their proper beds.

As an adult, I now consider power outages to not only be annoying but quite possibly the one thing that could reduce humanity to primordial soup faster than you can say electrolytic capacitor. I observed the seeds of devolution at work this week as the electric utility tapped out like a bitch. My coworkers and I collectively sighed and stared blankly at our lifeless computer monitors. Our simian-like demeanor suggested that Kubrick’s 2001 had happened in reverse. It wasn’t the first time it happened, and it certainly won’t be the last. But it always makes me laugh how it’s never convenient when an outage does occur. I’ve never overheard, “Well I’m sure glad I just saved that Word document” or “I was going to thaw out those steaks anyway!”

As the minutes pressed on, I realized that this wasn’t like Monopoly, where everyone avoids purchasing Water Works and Electric Company. No, when the utilities really go out, life comes to a screeching halt. There’s only so much manual work to be done in cubicle world. I could see it in the eyes of a few that this inconvenience robbed them not so much of their productivity as it did the ability to maintain an appearance of work. After 5 more minutes of desk organization, I joined my colleagues at the windows to see if some witless dolt had careened into a telephone pole. Further discussion gave way to newer mysteries, such as how the phones continued to ring despite the absence of volts, watts and amps.

The growing crisis prompted some unique social hurdles as well. Reticent office hermits struggled to make small talk to ease their agitation. So, umm… how’s your mom? She had that thing with her… uh, stomach, was it?... Didn’t she have some sort of invasive surgery to… No? Oh, she’s been dead for 5 years… My mistake… You and Susan thought about having kids yet? I mean, it’s been… Oh really? 12 and 8?... You don’t say. They grow up so fast. Well, time fli… oh look, the power’s back. Good catching up with you Stan, er… Steve. And the ant colony buzzed back to life. I’m pretty sure that a few minutes longer would have yielded a bonfire of folders and various buffalo drawings on the walls.

An afternoon in an office without power played out like a bad apocalyptic movie. But there was no gladiatorial combat in a Thunderdome, nor were we brainstorming how Earth could dodge a Texas-sized meteor. The office wouldn’t have become more interesting had it flooded to the rafters and Kevin Costner sailed right by, showing us his gills. No, our end of the world thriller would be titled “Our Stuff Doesn’t Work Anymore,” and it would feature riveting dialogue such as “Your components work yet?... Nah, mine neither… Guess we’ll just wait some more.”

I’ve never been more convinced that mankind has a veneer, a sheer suggestion, of intelligence as a species. I’m pretty sure that our entire social equilibrium hangs on the ingenuity of history’s handful of geniuses. And it’s this membrane of decency that encapsulates the less than cerebral masses, myself included. By a show of hands, who all knows how to fix a cell phone when it goes rogue? I didn’t think so. My fear though is that were some global event to strip us of our technological advances, our demise would be far more shameful. The populace would concern themselves with how to mill pepper and grind coffee, much less forging a weapon to kill their dinner. Which is why when the power grid fails next time, my first priority (in between taking phone calls) is to construct an instrument of death from rubber bands, tape and paper clips.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Devil In the Retail

Are you a person who sees the signs of the times? The other day I received compelling evidence of an immanent apocalypse. I had previously thought that a global, centralized political juggernaut would emerge and subsequently serenade the nations into oblivion. But behold! The craggy jowls of the earth have opened to swallow the miscreant and reprobate into her fiery bowels! The twisted serpent has found his avatar not as the descendent of an unbroken lineage of fornicators, but as a moderately successful fried chicken restaurant franchise. Imagine my surprise when I was handed this receipt in the drive through.

My hands burned after almost inadvertantly receiving the Mark of the Beast. Or is it Breast? I promptly disposed of the iniquitous meal and cleansed myself with a grilled cheese bearing the visage of the Blessed Virgin.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wokie, Talkie

As I approached the tag agency, I should have seen the signs. Renewing your tag is a fairly routine if not mundane task. But being that I also work in the public sector, I’m aware that certain employees can (how shall I put it) unfairly assume that everyone knows the ins and outs of their 9 to 5. So I spent an extra five minutes in the car to prep for an encounter with someone bearing all the warmth and sympathy of Nick Burns. I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Approaching the door, I remembered that they didn’t accept credit cards. Strike one. Scratch that, they take Discover. Really? Does anybody carry Discover? But my saving grace was the mental note I made last year that most tag agencies have an ATM. Which make them slightly less dirty than gas stations in my book, but I digress.

The minute I stepped in the door, Hawkeye shot a beckoning look at me from the gap in the 70s era wood paneling and the ripped and curling tax notices circa the Great Depression. If the state hadn’t prioritized the upkeep of their lobbies, then the same was probably true of their employees’ salaries. Strike two. My insurance verification in hand, Hawkeye thrust her hand out to me in “gimme” fashion. Another step in and I realized she was cradling the phone between ear and shoulder, so what was initially perceived to be enthusiasm was revealed to be impatience. A customer? Not another one of these…

She wagged her hand at me like a phone-bound mother petitioning her toddler for the dangerous toy he had no business handling. I quickly motioned toward the ATM, not wanting to audibly disturb what was clearly a matter of life and death.

“Nah wah,” she mumbled.
“I’m sorry, what was that?”
“ZZzzzzzznot WOR-KIN.” I had never witnessed a lazier display of the English language. Or a more efficient display of laziness for that matter.
“Ok, I guess I’ll go find a working AT—“ I hadn’t even finished talking before she waved me off and resumed what I’m sure was an enlightening discourse on the judiciary loopholes her boyfriend continues to slip through.

Not wanting to waste any more of my 30 minute lunch, I decided to head next door to the culinary delight that is Hot Wok. Admittedly, it is one of my favorite lunch spots, but I had been on a several month hiatus for no particular reason. One foot in the door and I was greeted with the aromas of duck sauce and peanut oil, which was preferable to the cigarettes and despair I had endured earlier.

“Long time no see.”
“I know, it’s been a while.”
“You want Chicken Mixed Vegetable?”
“Yeah, sure. I’ll go with the regular.”
“With 2 cokes?”
“Yup, just like always.”
“That’ll be $5.70”
*3 minutes later*
“Here you go, come back see us more often.”
“You bet your sweet leeks I will.”

It was that moment that made me reconsider my stance on immigration policy. I realized that I would much rather suffer hours of Engrish and failed attempts at subject-verb agreement than have to deal with Susan B. Apathy. How is it that someone from another country can come to the states and be so industrious and happy with minimal job security, while some U.S.-borns brandish their slothfulness like it was secured in the Bill of Rights? Like it’s as American as apple pie? I can just hear our forefathers now… Life, liberty and the pursuit of… not a damn thing, man. I propose that Congress consider an emigration policy. The particulars I haven’t ironed out yet, but it would operate on a type of rewards system. If you work hard, you get to stay in the country. If not, hello Jakarta.

Mam, I realize that the first thing to touch you and your afterbirth was U.S. soil, and you have accordingly developed an inflated sense of worth. But it appears that your affinity for naught but spider solitaire will serve you best in the Republic of Chad. Yeah, they’re in need of someone to swat flies off of the eyeballs of children and based on your work history, and we’re being flexible here with our definition of work, you’d be a perfect fit. Your citizenship is considered to be on probation, so let’s put on a good face and act like we’re happy to be here! Not doing so will result in further sequestering in new and exciting locales, all of which will strain your definition of “bathroom facilities.”

Friday, April 25, 2008

Breath Cancer Awareness

I now know that God hates me. This theological certainty was made manifest when I had to endure a 45 minute car ride with the 2008 winner of the Miss Worst Breath in the Cosmos pageant. For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call her Halle. Halle Tosis. And ladies and gentlemen, it was bad. I’m not talking about your basic run of the mill self-consciousness due to post-lunch breath. This brand of stank had its origins in the gut, which raised an eyebrow as to the true business end of a colonoscopy. And unfortunately, Halle’s degree of rankosity was matched only by her penchant for chattiness.

Equally horrifying was the fact that she was (or appeared to be) completely oblivious to my mortal peril. Completely unaware of a mouth so dirty that even Orbits couldn’t clean it up. I’m talking about breath that could contaminate formaldehyde. No, this was an evil that refused to be exorcised despite the aid of a young priest and an old priest. I had half a mind to send her unclean self to New York in the slim hopes that she would touch the pope’s garment.

The seemingly endless drive threw me into a state of paranoia. I continually glanced at the side view mirrors, half expecting to see a train of black SUVs that would whisk us away to some abandoned warehouse. After subsequent hours of waterboarding and ruinous questioning, they would still fail to see that I was unintentionally trafficking WMDs. Biological warfare notwithstanding, somehow I think we were more inclined to tip off the Ghost Hunters. And maybe it was just the way she looked at me, but I’m pretty sure she’s housing the Smoky Monster from LOST.

Despite the limited oxygen supply, I clearly surmised that this abomination was not something that the human body would just let happen. An olfactory fuss of this magnitude had to be actively pursued to create such a visceral revulsion in all five senses. So I present to you a proposed To-Do list for a day in the life of an ass-mouth:

  • Wake up. Why waste your morning BM? Make a turd smoothie.
  • Go to hair appointment. Get a perm. You hate it, so shave it off, set it on fire and consume the evidence.
  • Turn compost pile. Keep hands germ free by using your mouth.
  • Have a mid morning snack of Feces Pieces.
  • Clean up local swamp by skimming pollutants off the surface with open mouth.
  • Make out with Courtney Love.
  • Indulge in your favorite chewy snack, zombie fetuses.
  • Alleviate troublesome allergies with several breathing treatments of donkey farts.
  • Return the favor by licking your pug’s open wounds.
  • Head to Hunan’s for your favorite lunch, the pu pu platter.
  • Avoid city fines by draining your stagnant backyard pond with a siphon.
  • Remove hair clogs from sink with teeth.
  • Tide yourself over with a gym sock sandwich.
  • Conserve water by cleaning out public ashtrays with saliva.
  • Celebrate Earth Day by consuming hot garbage from the dump.
  • Transform taxidermy field by disemboweling roadkill with innovative “balloon blowing” technique.
  • Get taste of Courtney Love out of your mouth with urinal cake.
  • Prepare romantic dinner of seared beef butthole with cheesy smegma risotto, sautéed toenails and stinkbugs, boiled quarters, and a refreshing pitcher of iced sweat.
  • Relax from a hard day’s work with a vodka and turpentine.
  • Brush teeth with pigeon droppings, rinse with baby spit-up, and gargle with dog piss before turning in for the night.

But all is not lost, Halle. The addition of a lisp, while initially horrifying, could only result in a lucrative paint-stripping enterprise. We’ll call it AerASSol Conglomerate. And I hear that the Alien movie franchise is always looking to increase the realism of their acidic spit. While I’m thinking about it, I’m going to submit your name to HGTV as a guest expert on antiquing furniture, since you have what many have come to call “The Anti-Midas Touch.” You also have a potentially bright future in the field of sandblasting. The erosive quality of your simple "Hello"s has enough pressure to carve text into headstones. And let's face it, that'd be an ironic albeit small consolation to the world for all those you've sent to an early grave.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Bunch of Moist, Yummy Caca

Every January, the American Dialect Society elects a Word of the Year. Most of the time, nominees have emerged out of pop culture and are thereby confirmed and inducted into the vernacular. Past winners include plutoed, truthiness, purple state, and metrosexual. If we as Americans are so eager to expand our vocabulary, I propose that we also trim the fat. There are parts of speech which, whether inherently deplorable or due to their frequent and vile employ, must be vetoed… excuse me, plutoed. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a wake-up call to the atrocities now ravaging the English language not to mention my eardrums.

1. “Unch” words

Lunch, munch, crunch, hunch, bunch, punch, brunch, scrunchy

Ladies, you just might get a punch to the face for every time I have to hear about you losing your scrunchie (or is it scrunchy?). Or if I have to hear you chewing your Crunch 'N Munch. You make me want to lose my lunch.

2. “My” words

Yummy, gummy, crumby, rummy, scummy, tummy, shimmy, mummy (sorry British kids)

Yummy in the tummy could be just about the worst thing you could ever say out loud.

3. “Double consonant, L” words

Supple, nipple, dapple, apple, bobble, bubble, kibble, nibble, goggle, giggle, juggle, jiggle, wiggle, diddle, piddle, waddle, muddle, noodle, puddle, doodle, griddle, drizzle, kettle, scuttle, whittle, trickle, knuckle, chuckle

Head over to Google (also painful to say), search for The Wiggles and this is what you'll see:

Could there be a more disgusting and fitting name for an all men, children's entertainment group? Yeah, The Fuggles.

4. Onomatopoeia

I blame comics, Adam West and Wham! Nothing bugs me more than having to figure out how to transcribe or explain some random noise to my mechanic. “No, it was more like a THWIPP-RIP-RIP-RIP… GESHUGA… Yeah, you’re right. Probably a fan belt.”

5. Words that insinuate something shadier than I intended

Moist. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

6. Caca

No explanation necessary.

7. Words that don’t exist but that people think are cute

Scrumptious, splendiferous, itty-bitty, cutesy-wootsy, teeny-weeny

Don't believe Merriam Webster's lies. Scrumptious and splendiferous are not legitimate words. Could anyone take you seriously if this verbal excrement were to exit your lips? I'm gonna say no. And I will plot your untimely departure from this world if you utter the superlatively putrid scrumdiddlyumptious while in my presence.

All of this linguistic hullabaloo finds its culmination in rancid word combos. For example, yummy cake, jazzy pie, and itty bitty giggles. Ok I'm through. I have to go throw up in my mouth to cover the taste of these unpalatable syllables.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wii Have a Problem

Not too long ago, I walked by a 6-year old that was texting in the movie theater. The objections were all but vomiting out of my mouth: Why do you have a cell phone? Why are you casually operating it in a movie theater? Where are your parents? Why aren't you watching Ratatouille? In that definitive moment, I realized how ridiculous we've become as a civilized people. I'd like to speak with Mr. & Mrs. Can't-Say-No and demand one remotely rational explanation for why a first grader needs a cell phone. Probably because her Sidekick's getting fixed. Could you do me and the rest of society a favor? Send her a text message that says, "Go outside."

Unfortunately this obsession with technology is not limited to our mobile devices. Perhaps you've read recent articles about the immanent possibility of retinal implants. That's right. In your eye. If the surgical procedure itself doesn't turn your stomach, consider the consequences… Sure the scientific advance of a bionic eye would be masked in philanthropy. Sight to the blind and all that. But we know where this is going. Ours is a society where necessity is not necessarily the mother of invention. Superfluous extravagance is. I'd like to thank Xhibit and the boys at GAS for reinforcing the notion that every tricked out Expedition needs no fewer than 23 LCD panels. And 5 of those are so your pets can watch Animal Planet. And here's how this would pan out: As if it isn't enough trouble trying to figure out if strangers at the convenience store are talking to me or to their Bluetooth device, now I have to worry about whether someone's watching the road or watching Oprah. It'll be called the iEye, and it'll also be able to stream all your mp3s directly to your inner ear. All it costs is your soul and a blood sacrifice to Steve Jobs.

Never in a million years did I think that Nintendo would revolutionize physical therapy for seniors. But it's true. In the wake of the Wii's success, an unforeseen result has been the high occurrence of Wii Sports tournaments at nursing homes. We'll call it wiihab. And apparently the geriatrics are lining up for a chance to flex their virtual bowling skills in a low-impact environment. Am I an awful person for wanting to witness this in person? You swing like my dead grandma! Oh wait… And no one needs more ribbing than Nintendo themselves. Let's go to the source: "Wii sounds like 'we', which emphasizes that the console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii." You're right. Apparently language doesn't matter, because Wii has no linguistic antecedent. It looks like it could be the plural form of something, but nothing comes to mind. Let's see… Alumnus, alumni. Cactus, cacti. Virus, virii. Radius, radii. Wus, wii? As in why is this word not pronounced like anything else? Nintendo, you also shoot yourself in the foot when it comes to marketing. You say that the Wii is for everyone. But imagine my reaction if two Japanese men showed up on my doorstep, saying "We would like to play." [awkward silence preceding the door slam]

Friday, April 18, 2008

Anita Fajita

Anyone who's worked in a retail environment can feel for those still under the man's pressure to upsell the customer. My sympathy notwithstanding, the barrage of questions made it increasingly difficult to conceal my growing impatience at the drive-thru. Here's how it went down:

"Hi, welcome to Rosa's. Take your time and order when ready."

"Thanks. I'll have the No. 9 and… a large Coke. And that'll be it.*"

"A beef fajita plate and a large Coke? May I interest you in some chips and salsa or chips and queso?"

"Nah, that's alright.**"

"How about some of our carrot cake, sopapillas or any of our other dessert items?"

"No thank you. That'll be all.***"

"Would you like some additional sauces to go with your beef fajita plate?"

"No, I think that's all that I want.†"

"Can I interest you in some extra flour tortillas for your fresh fajitas? They're fresh too."

"No. Nein. Nyet. Fin. Seacrest out.‡"

*First attempt at finality.
**Slightly amused at the standard proposal.
***Bewildered. Also functions as "Isn't it too early for dessert, b***h?"
†The dagger/cross. As in pause to pray or break into psalm before you make a scene. The thought enters my mind that ordering from the drive-thru may have been Christ's 15th Station of the Cross.
‡Double dagger. Two daggers exit my eyes in unappeasable wrath and fury, aimed at the relentlessly petitioning box. Rosa's would erupt into flames were I to tap into my inner Charlie McGee.
«»Guillemets. Another handy, infrequently-used punctuation mark, apropos of nothing.

The endless offer of more food and drink items sounds completely ridiculous in retrospect. Suppose I was a witless yes-man who caved to any commercial inquiry. Would her brazenness see no end, when my simple lunch order for one miraculously transformed into catering for an impromptu rehearsal dinner? You know ma'am, I came here prepared to just tide myself over until dinner. But now that you've asked, I feel like building up my fat reserves in case humans start hibernating tomorrow.

"Hey Jim, this is Erik. What are you doing right now?... Yeah, right now... You're gonna come over to my place for food, that's what you're gonna do… Yeah, I realize there's nothing on right now… I don't care if you just ate. Look, just… Quit being such a baby and get over here. I've invited the entire office… Yes, Dwight will be here, but you don't have to talk to him… Why? Because I… felt like entertaining all my coworkers… all of a sudden… over the weekend… Look, here's the deal. I went through the drive-thru at Rosa's, and this girl had an affable tone and demeanor… She sounded as if I would crush her hopes and dreams if I said no to the tapas… I don't know, I think they're like taquitos but flatter… No, you're thinking of flautas. Those are fried, but taquitos aren't… They are not the same, douchenozzle... Why are you being such a twat over free food?... You know what, I'll remember this, you ungrateful asshat. Don't even think about calling next time you want to watch GameDay in HD."

The source of my tension here simply lies in an inability to be a jerk. You just can't say, "I DON'T WANT ANYTHING MORE THAN I TELL YOU, SO DON'T ASK!!!" I know it's just her job. And in her defense, how many brainless buffoons does she have to endure each day, who gaze aimlessly at the menu as if it will magically make up their minds for them sometime before the weather turns? But that doesn't make my experience any preferable to being someone's personal doormat. I'm the guy who welcomes the vacuum salesman into my home and apologizes for not having enough dirt on the carpet for his demo. I'll let the telemarketer assault me with her decision tree of prearranged responses, even throwing in an occasional "Oh really?" or "That's interesting." It's my way of letting them know their 9 to 5 isn't completely pointless. And I'd like to think that some bit of kindness plays its part in abating what could be a seething, ready-to-blow sociopath who hides beneath the veneer of a well-rehearsed shtick.