PLACES TO GO
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
I HATE COFFEE
Today, for the millionth time, my boss made me go down the block to get him a cappuccino from Starbucks. (We have a fancy coffee maker in the office, but it's not not fancy enough for my boss.) I've long since realized that even if I act grumpy and annoyed when he asks me to do this, it's not going to stop him from asking. But I still act grumpy and annoyed anyway.
What made today worse was the fact that after going all the way there and coming all the way back (about a ten minute trip), I walk into the conference room to give it to him and end up tripping and dropping the damn coffee all over the floor.
And thus began a downward spiral of degradation. Let's chronicle the factors which contributed to my shame, shall we?
My boss isn't a total jerk. Whenever I get coffee for him, he offers to buy me one, too.
But I don't drink coffee.
SCHWARZENEGGER... OR SPAM?
Here's a fun game for readers 18 and older. (The rest of you can play one of these instead.)
See if you can tell which of the following quotes are from Arnold Schwarzenegger's now-infamous 1977 interview with Oui and which are subject lines from spam I've received in the last two weeks.
1. "I really dig your body and I want to fuck the shit out of you."
2. "Please plead your case as to why you need to lick me down there."
3. "Instead of staring at the ceiling I figure I might as well find somebody and fuck."
4. "Everybody jumped on her and took her upstairs."
5. "This guy thinks I'm a girl. Wait 'till he sees my package. "
6. "We had girls backstage giving head."
7. "This guy started fingering me on the dance floor."
8. "Some think that they don't have a big-enough cock, so they can't get a hard-on."
9. "I was an innocent boy from a farm town."
10. "If she's a good fuck, she can weigh 150 pounds, I don't care."
ANSWERS: #1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 10 are all Arnie. (To be fair, #1 was taken slightly out of context, as it was spoken as a hypothetical. Arnold's quote is as follows: "If a girl comes on strong and says, 'I really dig your body and I want to fuck the shit out of you,' I just decide whether or not I like her. If I do take her home, I try to make sure I get just as much out of it as she does.")
Monday, September 29, 2003
I TRY MY DARNEDEST NOT TO CORRUPT A CHILD
Anyone who thinks four-year-olds are not sexually aware has not met Chloe.
Chloe is Drew's goddaughter, child of his best friends Margaret and Christian, whom he sees every week and who loves Drew like an uncle.
Chloe loves me, too, but more like a boyfriend.
Yes, she's got what we call "a case of the Jerrys". This weekend, Drew and I stopped by Margaret and Christian's for a dip in the pool, and when we got out, Chloe raced through the house after me and threw open the door to the bedroom where I was about to get changed back into my dry clothes. "I just want to watch you," she said.
"But I need to get changed."
"Okay. I just want to watch you."
She stood blocking the door, eyes wide, smiling innocently. I said about a hundred different things to get her out of the room. She said the same thing over and over. "I just want to watch you."
So, I realized two things at that moment. One, somebody needs to have a talk with this girl. And two, it should be somebody other than me. I'm generally reluctant to give any Big Talks to someone else's child, especially one where there are so many sticky issues involved. If you don't say it right, the kid could get some warped message about body image and shame or who knows what. I don't know what. I'm not a parent. I don't know how to give these talks. When I have a kid, I'll talk to them, but there's a reason I don't have kids yet, and it's because I'm not ready to give these talks. So I got Drew to distract her, ran back to the bedroom and changed faster than I've ever changed in my life. (There are no locks on any of the doors in their house.)
Now, you might think, as I did, that there can be only one Awkward Moment of Budding Sexuality per child per day. Wrong. Apparently, these things come in clusters. Only a few minutes later, as we were baking cookies, Drew came up behind me, hugged me and kissed my neck.
Chloe burst out laughing. "He's not a girl, silly!"
Okay, this was a talk I DEFINITELY didn't want to have.
Margaret's jaw dropped. Chloe had known Drew her whole life, but clearly, this issue had never come up before. Margaret didn't waste any time explaining to Chloe that "sometimes, boys marry boys".
It was hard not to imagine what it would be like if Drew and I did have kids someday. Would it work in reverse for us, with us having to explain why some other families had this person called "a Mommy" in them. Or that when they grow up, they might want to marry someone of the opposite sex, and that that was perfectly okay. We would have to give a lot of big talks in our house, and I'd have to be ready for that.
Drew was much better at tackling this issue head-on. He decided to demonstrate. "I love Jerry," he told Chloe, "so I'm going to give him a kiss." And he kissed me.
Chloe just watched, a little puzzled, a little jealous, a little disinterested.
I guess it wasn't really what she wanted to watch me doing that day.
I'M SURE THERE'S AN ALLEGORY FOR THE MIDDLE EAST IN HERE SOMEWHERE
Interesting internet find of the day: Some Bay Area smartass played Radiohead music for a fifth grade class and had the children draw their impressions of what they heard. Result: some very disturbed and annoyed children.
Drew and I saw a sneak preview of School of Rock at the Grove on Saturday night, but the real show came before the movie started. Some stooge came in, put a bunch of paper towels down on two seats and asked the strangers sitting further down the row to watch the seats for him. Cut to: 25 minutes later. The theater is packed, the movie is about to start, and the guy still hasn't come back. The seat savers are tired of shooing everyone away for a complete stranger, so they take the paper towels off and free up the seats. A man and a woman sit down, unaware that they are on contested territory. And then the Paper Towel Man, who I would assess to be certifiably insane, returns and sees that someone is in his seats.
The couple refuses to budge. They didn't see any paper towels. There's a standoff. Paper Towel Man implores the people he put in charge of his seats to take his side. They refuse. They didn't even know if he was coming back – how long did he expect them to hold the seats? Where's Judge Judy when you need her? Quiet chatter among the spectators (i.e., everyone within five rows) seems to me to deliver a clear consensus: if you want to save seats, at least one person from your party has to be there. The insane man hovers over the couple, insanely. Quiet chatter among the spectators delivers a new consensus: when you're fighting against crazy, crazy will win. The couple comes to this conclusion on their own and eventually moves, taking single seats in different rows. Then we all sat back and enjoyed the movie.
If you only finished reading this piece hoping for a review of School of Rock, here you go:
Thursday, September 25, 2003
... AND THIS IS MY GIRLFRIEND'S BOYFRIEND
On Tuesday night, I went with Drew, Victoria and Gavin* to see a showcase-type thing called "Mortified" in which people read aloud from various things they had written when they were teenagers. We all agreed that the best ones were the woman who shared her diary of the three and a half months she spent in England and the guy who made notes on how to do Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance. Overall, it was a very entertaining show, and if you live in LA, they're doing a few more, so you should definitely check it out.
But here's the weird part. After the show, we were hanging out outside the theater and we all wanted to tell the show's creator/director how much we enjoyed it. It just so happens Drew knows him (Drew knows everyone), so he introduced us. We complimented the guy and exchanged nice-nice for a minute or so, then he invited over a woman whom he introduced as his girlfriend.
Okay, perfectly natural. So we're talking to both of them, and then she invites a guy over and introduces him as her boyfriend, Drew. (Not to be confused with my one-and-only boyfriend, also named Drew.) And then the show creator, his girlfriend and her boyfriend all continued talking to us as if this was all perfectly normal.
As soon as we got in our car to leave, it was the first thing we talked about. Was someone lying? Or had someone maybe used "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" in a more casual sense than it seemed? Or perhaps this was some weird new form of urban polyandry we would soon read about in all the trend-setting magazines...?
As the one with a connection to the guy, we sent Drew to investigate, and he fired off an email to the apparent woman-sharer (mad props to Drew for having the guts to write this):
[Note: Nobody said any such things about grammar school when I was around. I think Drew was being overly polite and diplomatic and hoping to give him an easy out to an awkward inquiry. You might say Drew didn't want him to become "mortified".]
So this is the response Drew got in return:
Twin sister? Okay, well, thanks. That clears everything up. No, wait. It makes things twice as confusing. Huh?!?!?!?
So did he mistake the sister for his girlfriend? If so, wouldn't she have corrected him rather than accept the "girlfriend" label? (i.e., "I'm not Tina, I'm Mina!") Why would his girlfriend die laughing at the news that her boyfriend couldn't even tell her apart from her sister? Or if he's not admitting to mixing them up, how does he explain why he called her his "girlfriend"? We heard "girlfriend". Does he call both twins his "girlfriend"? And what did he mean "hebe"? Can we trust someone who misspells his own self-deprecating racial slurs?
I guess this is just one of those mysteries for the ages.
* This marks Gavin's first official appearance in the blog, a moment he has long hungered for and simultaneously feared. See, I didn't bash you, did I, Gavin? Welcome aboard!
Okay, it was cute when Arnold announced he was going to run for governor. The thought of him saying boneheaded things and passing dum-dum laws and basking in the neverending media attention he'd get sounded like a fun way to mark time until the next real election. But now that the election is less than two weeks away and he's got a real shot at winning, I'm scared. No, not scared, mad. Who does this guy think he is?
Believe me, I understand the frustration people feel with career politicians. They're either boring wonks (Gray Davis, Al Gore, Joe Lieberman), incompetent dopes (Davis, George W.), unlikable weenies (Davis, Cruz Bustamante, all Republicans), or corrupt scumbags overly reliant on special interest money (everyone). Many of them are driven by a sense of entitlement, a lust for power, or pure slimy, grimy greed. Even when I agree with their politics, I sometimes find it hard to support them. Something is wrong with our electoral process when we have candidates like these in election after election. But are outsiders really any better?
Sure, outsiders think outside the box, and there's a benefit to that. Sometimes there are creative solutions to common problems that people who deal with those problems every day just can't see. But you know what? The box isn't so bad. A lot of the answers are in the box. Outside the box, there's a little bit of inspiration and a whole lot of craziness. Remember Ross Perot? Not a box-thinker; not a man I'd want anywhere near Washington, D.C.
What makes Arnold think he's qualified to be governor? Or, for that matter, what makes Wesley Clark think he can be president? Neither of them has any political experience, which shows constantly as they campaign. They flip-flop on their positions, make stupid campaigning faux pas and dodge questions that they don't know how to answer. None of that hurts anybody, but what's really scary about these novices is what might happen when they get in office, when they have actual power to screw up more than just their own public image. There's a reason there are such things as career politicians, why people like Al Gore spent their whole lives training and preparing and learning before trying to move into the executive office. It's because neither the presidency of the United States nor the governorship of California is an entry-level job.
For all the flaws career politicians may have, what character traits would make a person with no experience think that they should hold one of the highest political offices in the country, or the world? What kind of person says, "Well, my acting career is over, so I'll be governor"? Or "Time for a career change. I think I'll be President"? If either Schwarzenegger or Clark really wanted to serve their country, they'd start small. They'd run for a local office first -- hell, at least start at the House of Representatives like Fred "Gopher" Grandy did. If they wanted to make the world a better place, they'd train themselves in their newly chosen profession and work their way up. Nobody applies to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company if they've spent the last ten years washing cars for a living. Now replace "CEO of a Fortune 500 company" with "Governor of California" and "washing cars" with "pretending to be a robot from the future". Does that make any more sense?
Fine, Clark was drafted, so maybe his problem is just believing his own hype. Schwarzenegger's problem is that he's all hype. Outsiders running for high political offices aren't motivated by a desire to serve the public or to fix the problems other politicians supposedly created. They don't know how to do those things. They're motivated by ego and hubris and self-delusion.
Is that really better than the motivations of the people they're trying to replace?
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Music used to be the thing that made me feel hip. It was the one thing I knew more about than everybody I knew (okay, TV shows, too, but that's another blog entry). But these days, things have changed. Today, music makes me feel old and out of touch (TV shows, too, but that's another blog entry).
I had a huge scare today when I went over to Billboard.com and realized that I knew more songs on the Adult Contemporary chart than the Modern Rock chart. Yes, I've heard the new Phil Collins song. No, I don't know "Bottom of a Bottle" by Smile Empty Soul. Checking the Hot 100 was even more terrifying. Jay-Z seems to perform on at least 75% of the songs, and I've never heard a single one of them except for that damn Beyonce song, which will be echoing uncontrollably in my head until the day I die. (There should be a law banning songs for being too catchy.) Is Jay-Z planning any collaborations with REM or Rufus Wainwright so that I might finally appreciate his ubiquitous handiwork?
The whole chart is full of names I don't recognize. Chingy? Murphy Lee? The Ying Yang Twins? Who are these top ten hitmakers? What does "Damn!" by YoungBloodZ Featuring Lil Jon sound like? How did it become the #11 most popular tune in the country without me ever hearing it? I remember when "Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora was #11. I knew that song by heart!
Not only do I not recognize these artists, but some of them don't seem to recognize each other. A song called "Into You" (currently #5) is credited to "Fabolous Featuring Tamia or Ashanti". What do they mean Tamia OR Ashanti? Does even Fabolous himself have trouble telling today's cookie cutter R&B divas apart?
I'm not trying to slam hip-hop, only hip-hop I don't recognize. What happened to Ini Kamoze or Kriss Kross? Okay, their last hits were a while ago, and maybe they've gone their separate ways, but why aren't they getting in on this collaboration bonanza? Why not Jay-Z Featuring Kriss, or P. Diddy Featuring Kross or Ashanti? Did I miss the dueling Kriss Kross solo albums? Talk about wiggity-whack!
The last time I felt like I had my finger on the pop pulse was when I bought Hanson's debut album the day it came out. I was one of the first to get hooked on "MMM-Bop" and one of the first to uncover their true gender identity (they're boys). But it would seem their days of harmonizing and home schooling are far behind them, and the Hanson boys have surrendered control of the pop charts to P. Diddy and his many, many, many friends. Come back, Hanson! We need your squeaky-voiced songs of adolescent glee. Oh, wait. They're older, too. Their voices have changed, and they've cut their hair. Hanson have moved on; I haven't.
When pop radio stopped playing music I liked, I moved over to alternative, but now that's full of stuff I don't like either: ponderous metal, shitty rap-rock hybrids and lame punk wannabes. Realizing that some of my favorite bands, like the Beautiful South, Danny Wilson, Pet Shop Boys, Blur and yes, even REM, were bigger in England than over here, I wondered if maybe I was more in line with British music tastes and had been born in the wrong country. But then I found this site, where you can look up the U.K. chart positions of any song. Sorry, but I can't live in a country where "Lay Your Hands on Me" by the Thompson Twins didn't even crack the top 10, and where the Go-Go's and Corey Hart had no hits at all. (Well, technically, the Go-Go's lame 1995 comeback attempt "The Whole World Lost its Head" went to number 29, which doesn't help England's case in my opinion.)
So I live in the past. Yes, I ran right out and bought the new Bangles album yesterday. (And yes, there's a new Bangles album, for those of you who were unaware of that fact, i.e., everyone except me and the Bangles.) Early review: it's pretty good. The girls are older, but the music sounds the same as when they were walking like Egyptians or walking down your street. They don't get as much exercise these days, but they still like to fall in love. It's good music, and it's familiar.
And that's very comforting to me in my old age.
A MINOR MYSTERY SOLVED
Now I know why someone was googling "springsteen franken lie!"
I just accidentally stumbled across a reference to Sprinsteen plugging the book at a recent concert. (And just for fun, here's another amusing plug of the book, courtesy of alfrankenweb.com.)
I still don't know why they used the exclamation point.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
ISSA'S $1.6 MILLION MISTAKE
Darrell Issa's back, and he's saying stupid things again.
Now he thinks voters should reject the recall -- you know, the one he started and paid $1.6 Million of his own money to fund.
See, with two viable Republicans running against one viable Democrat, Issa finally did the math and realized that his $1.6 Million investment is about to buy him a more well-liked, more liberal version of Gray Davis.
Of course, if this were really about punishing Davis for his ineptitude, the top priority would be ensuring that Davis was removed from office. Thank you, Darrell, for revealing that was never your top priority.
What Issa really wants at this stage is to pressure Tom McClintock into backing out of the race in order to ensure a Republican victory. All of a sudden, the absurd guidelines for this stupid recall, which allowed Issa to push it through in the first place, are working against his goal of installing a Republican in Sacramento.
Best case scenario at this point: Davis is recalled, Bustamante wins and then EVERYONE agrees California's recall laws need to be drastically revamped to ensure something like this doesn't happen again.
Otherwise, what's to stop Issa from trying to recall Bustamante for his "ineptitude" six months from now?
A sense of common decency and restraint, you say?
Monday, September 22, 2003
GOOGLE ME THAT!
Since I don't have time for a real post today, here's something that always amuses me: a list of recent search terms that have led people to this blog. (I know, this only encourages more people to search these things and end up here, but what can I say... it's a vicious but amusing cycle.)
These are listed exactly as they were entered -- including quotation marks and exclamation points [bracketed comments are mine]:
"brad garret" gay [twice, and sorry, guys, he's married]
nontraditional families sitcom
movie brown bunny/chloe sevigny [about a zillion variations on this one -- usually they want pictures of the infamous fellatio scene, which I don't have and don't want to see -- ever]
1940's clothes in South Carolina [my site comes up 129th if you search this on Yahoo, which indicates somebody is doing INTENSIVE research on this topic if they actually got to me]
gossip "Queer Eye" "secretly straight" [...which would be the best rumor ever, and I only WISH I started it -- but don't get too excited, this google search returned only three listings, all of which were really about Boy Meets boy and only tangentially mentioned Queer Eye]
springsteen franken lie! [Apparently, Google searches faster if you include an exclamation point!]
everything about homosexuality on spongebob show [Sorry, I've got nothing. And as a side note to whoever's graduate thesis topic this is... enjoy your time in school. You won't have a job when it's over.]
secondhand machinery dealers 2003 [If you're looking for 2003 goods, what are the odds they're already secondhand?]
"photos of disaster scenes"
allyce beasley bathing suit [Uh... yikes]
doubting riley [This came up a bunch of times... and this is just about the only search I think I was actually helpful on]
rockets hilarious uniform [my site comes up 7th of 922 results on this bizarre search]
discounted cotton candy makers
cost of notarizing at mailboxes etc
... and of course, there are the usual Angelyne and depantsing searches.
All of this just goes to prove that nobody's using the internet for anything productive at all.
Or at least that this website isn't.
Friday, September 19, 2003
It probably won't surprise anyone who knows me, but I loved last night's Survivor premiere. The pirate theme, which could've been spectacularly cheesy, was pretty well executed, and I loved the bartering trip through the fishing village (though it did make you question just how "remote" this year's location really was). Already, the cast looks like it's full of freaks (I love them freaks!), and there are lots of budding conflicts which seem likely to bubble over in weeks ahead.
I love how there's always one tribe that has its shit together and another that's in complete disarray. How did Mark Burnett manage to find seven people dumb enough to leave the fishing village without spending all their money? (Poor Ryan S. He's smarter than all of them put together.) And how do you not know that the location of the fresh water is printed on your map? It's on the map EVERY FREAKING SEASON!
Now, I'd like to make a very bold prediction.
Ryan S. will win.
Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I'm going to look really stupid next week. But I get a sneaking suspicion that the way the show was edited was all part of a big ruse. Everyone knows that typically, whoever gets the most screen time in Episode One is bound to get the boot. And last night, Skinny Ryan was the most visible castaway by far. Nicole didn't even register until after the immunity challenge, which made her seem like the obligatory red herring. But stunningly, it was Nicole who got sent packing. All through the episode, the editors worked really hard to make Ryan look like an underdog. His only friend is the one person on his tribe who's a bigger oddball than he is. His ideas, no-brainers like making a plan for how to spend their money, not letting extra money go to waste, and stopping for a moment to establish some tribe morale, went unspoken or ignored. He was the only guy on the tribe who didn't needlessly get naked. It sure didn't seem like he fit in. And what was with that speech Probst gave about not counting yourself out of the game too soon? They're setting us up! If Lillian goes next and Ryan hangs around until some kind of tribal switch happens, he could find himself with a lot more power than he has now. That would be a startling, unpredictable twist. Except that I'm predicting it right now.
According to the previews, someone begs to leave next week. I think it's Big Lill. They probably want us to think it's Ryan, but Lillian seems more discouraged than he does at being an outcast. Which begs the question: Has she really gotten through her entire life wearing a boy scout uniform and never being shunned before? I liked Lillian a lot more than I expected. She actually seemed like a really nice woman who was just learning a lesson about assimilation a little late in life.
I also liked Sandra. From what little I saw of Sandra before last night's episode, I thought she looked bossy and irrational. But as it turned out, she was bossy and hilarious. I agreed with almost everything she said, especially about Jon being annoying. Sandra's my favorite so far.
The ones I don't like: moronic, unfunny Jon. Shrill, temperamental Tijuana. Andrew, who foolishly thought taking a leadership role would help him in the game. (The last "leader" to win was Rich, in Season 1.) And especially Osten, who fawned over his "Nubian princess" and let himself get led around by the penis rather than the thirst for a million dollars.
Ah, Thursday nights have meaning again. Welcome back, Survivor.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
HOW TO PLACE A BUSINESS PHONE CALL
Part of my job consists of answering phones for my boss. This is not my ideal field of employment, so you'll have to excuse the sad, bitter tone of what I'm about to write. See, my boss -- let's call him "Asshole Jerkwad" -- gets a lot of phone calls. I'm resigned to the fact that 90% of my day consists of me saying, "Asshole Jerkwad's office" over and over again. It's okay, really it is. They pay me pretty well, and I know that someday, oh someday, I will have my revenge on cruel fate. So I've chosen to focus my rage not on my boss himself but on his many callers. Most of them, you see, are idiots.
These people do not know how to place a business phone call, and that makes my job harder. It makes their job (i.e., getting through to my boss) harder as well, but they don't seem to care about that. They apparently have plenty of time to waste making boneheaded, improper or inefficient business calls. So let's not pretend I'm doing this for their sake. I'm doing it for mine. Herewith, I propose some simple guidelines to follow when placing a business call.
1. Identify yourself.
I can't stress this enough. You know how after you dialed my boss' phone number and heard that ringy sound, the next thing you heard was me saying, "Asshole Jerkwad's office"? See, what I was doing was identifying him. Now it's your turn. You know who he is. It's only fair. Let him know who you are.
2. Identify yourself, you stupid moron.
Okay, maybe you don't realize this, but the reason my boss has me pick up his phone for him is to screen his calls. He's a busy man, and he doesn't always have time to talk to everyone who'd like to talk to him. He needs to know who you are before he picks up your call so that he can manage his time efficiently. A lot of people respond to hearing me say, "Asshole Jerkwad's office" with "Yes, I'm calling for Asshole Jerkwad." See, I already know that. In fact, I just told you that that's who you're calling for. Let's not repeat ourselves. It's time to move forward.
3. Identify yourself, you clueless, brain-dead nitwit.
A lot of people, after hearing me say "Asshole Jerkwad's Office" will say, "Is Asshole there?" Well, maybe. Maybe not. But don't pretend you don't know why I answered the phone on his behalf. You're not going to get by me without identifying yourself. Don't even try. Asking me questions that do nothing to identify you, questions like "Is Asshole there?" or "Can I talk to Asshole?" or "Is this Asshole Jerkwad's Office?" is only going to delay the process of completing your call. Please don't waste my time and yours. Tell me who you are, and once I have that information, I'll let you know if Asshole wants to talk to you. Can you guess why that is? Well, it's because whether he wants to talk to you depends on who you are. Is this starting to make sense?
4. Identify yourself properly, you evasive twit.
Okay, so you've told me who you're calling for, you've asked your stupid questions, you've done a lot of things to delay the inevitable, and so I finally presented you with a real stumper: "Whom may I tell him is calling?" Don't panic. This is an easy question, and I guarantee you know the answer to it. Your job now is to supply me with information that will allow my boss to recognize you once I relay the information to him. You want him to say, "Oh, yes. I know who that is" and then be able to make a decision about whether he wants to take your call. Which leads me to...
5. "Properly" almost always means with a last name.
"This is John" is not a suitable way to identify yourself. If your name is John, you've probably noticed that you do not have a unique name. Sometimes you'll be waiting for your table at a restaurant, the hostess will call out your name, and another party will simultaneously try to be seated. No, that other guy isn't an obnoxious jerk trying to muscle ahead of you in line. He isn't stealing your identity. No, it's just that that man is also named John. It's a common name. So if my boss asks me who's calling and I say, "It's John", he still does not have the information he needs to decide if he wants to take the call. And I'm not just talking to you, John. I'm talking to Frank and Dwayne and Heidi and Lisa and almost everyone who calls. My boss knows lots of people. And your name is probably more common than you think. So don't assume you're unique. You're not. Deal with it. Give your last name. If your name is Hiroshito, maybe you can get by without giving me your last name. My boss doesn't know many Hiroshitos. If you were calling Sony, maybe you'd need to give more information than just Hiroshito. Likewise, if this were Tokyo, perhaps identifying yourself as "John" would suffice. But we're not in Tokyo, this isn't Sony and odds are you share your first name with plenty of other people who may be calling. So tell me your last name.
6. If you know my boss won't recognize your name, give your company name as well.
There are many people my boss deals with on a day-to-day basis, and it's safe to say he'll recognize those people from hearing their full name. But there are other people who call less frequently. Some people call only in regard to a certain project and then never call again. When you place a call, you probably know which category you fall into. So if you're not someone who calls every day, you might want to toss in some extra information. Let's say someone told you you had a phone call from "Roseanne Q. Winterplatt". Would you drop everything you were doing and take her call? Probably not, because you don't know any Roseanne Q. Winterplatt. You're too busy to talk to complete strangers, so before you talk to Ms. Winterplatt, it would help to know what she's calling about. If she said she was "Roseanne Q. Winterplatt of Destination Travel", then you'd know it was about that swingin' Club Med jaunt you were planning, and you'd be most delighted to talk to her. So if you're Roseanne, why not tell people where you work so they'll be more likely to take your call? Remember, when you place a phone call, your objective is to talk to someone. If you don't get the person you're calling on the line, you have failed.
7. Don't try to outsmart me.
Maybe you're a telemarketer. Maybe you're that lowlife scumbag who screwed up that deal that my boss was working so hard to push through. Maybe you figure that if my boss knows who you really are, he'll never take your call. So you're going to try being sneaky to get past me. My advice to you: give up now. I'm smarter than you. Oh, you don't think I am, but I've been doing this a long time, and I can spot a phony. If you think you can fool me, you're in way over your head. One trick undesirable callers use is to pretend that they're too important to give their full name. "It's John," they'll say, in a big huff. Then, when I ask for more information, they cut me off with something like, "He knows me." Then comes the hard sigh, like they're soooo annoyed this lowly assistant is hassling them and wasting their time. They want me to think they're a real big shot and that my boss is going to be pissed off at me that I was so rude as to ask this obvious Fortune 500 CEO type person to identify themselves. Well, guess what. Big shots don't have to be evasive. They know that when they drop their full name, they get treated better. When Ted Turner or Bill Gates tells someone they're calling, their call gets through about a thousand times faster than if they play games with the assistant. And real big shots don't have time to waste. So give it up, pal. You're not a big shot. You're just an evasive jerk. Big shots didn't get to be big shots without knowing how to place business calls.
I don't know why people play these games. Most of them, as I've suggested, are just not very intelligent. But they're not the dumbest people I deal with. Yes, it's true, there are people even more dimwitted than the ones who won't identify themselves. As I've said, I answer the phone "Asshole Jerkwad's Office". There are slightly different varieties of this greeting in use in the business world, but it's fairly standard. Usually, when you place a call to someone who has an assistant, you'll get something very much like "Asshole Jerkwad's Office". Still, some people come back at me with, "Is this Asshole?" Or even worse, they'll just start talking. "Hi, Asshole, I'm calling from XYZ Corp and I wanted to ask you about the merger with blah blah blah I'm a big dumb jerk." Hey, buddy, I tuned you out a long time ago. If I were Asshole Jerkwad, wouldn't I have a simpler way of answering the phone than by saying "Asshole Jerkwad's Office"? Say, maybe, "Hello"? Look, you can't handle this. Please stop using telephones. Write letters. Send smoke signals. Tackle a technology you can handle.
Now that you're armed with all the information my hostile, self-destructive sarcasm can drum into your tiny little brain, let's review how a typical phone call should proceed.
ME: Asshole Jerkwad's office.
YOU: Hello, this is Courteous Caller. Is Mr. Jerkwad available?
ME: Just a moment. [I place you on hold. To Asshole:] It's Courteous Caller on Line 1.
ASSHOLE JERKWAD: That fucking son of a bitch? I hate that scumbag! Tell him to go to go suck Hitler's cock in Hell!
[I pick up the phone.]
ME: I'm sorry. He's unavailable right now. Can I have him call you back?
COURTEOUS CALLER: That would be wonderful. Goodbye.
ME: Goodbye. Have a pleasant day.
See how simple that was?
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
MISC. ETC. & ABBREV. INC.
I've seen that jumbled-word thing I posted a few days ago in about a hundred different places now, and I've received a bunch of hits from people searching "Aoccdrnig to rscheearch" and "Elingsh uinervtisy". One guy has even created his own word jumbler.
Sorry, but to me, Corea just doesn't look right.
THEORY: Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne and voiceover actor Billy West (Stimpy, Fry of Futurama) are the same person.
I'm really enjoying the Al Franken book, especially for how well-researched it is. Unlike a lot of other partisan commentators, Al knows more how to do more than just push buttons. He knows how to make convincing arguments.
Drew and I are both hooked on a $10 Boggle computer game we picked up in the markdown bin at Best Buy. He has 7 of the top 10 scores, damn him!
THEORY: Tupac is alive; Young MC is dead.
I got a very brief email from my ex-roommate who I saw at the wedding over the weekend. He said it was good to see me and that he felt like an outcast at the wedding. I haven't written back yet. I've suffered his "friendship" a lot in the past, and even though I feel sorry for him, I'm not sure I want to welcome him back into my life.
Why isn't anyone joining my Survivor pool? I know the premiere is still two days away, but don't people want the early bird points? This is going to be the weakest turnout ever!
Monday, September 15, 2003
So after all that, I didn't have to give my speech.
Too bad. It was a good speech. As usual, I was struck by inspiration just moments before I left. So I scrawled something down on a sheet of note paper and prepared to rock the mic. But even though there was no Official Best Man, it turned out I wasn't even the Kinda Sorta Best Man. I wasn't even the Next-Best Man. Eric was asked to position the four groomsmen in order of how close they got to stand to him during the ceremony, and I ranked third.
He didn't deserve my damn speech anyway.
The wedding itself was really nice, but there was definitely a Ned Flanders quality to it. Eric warned me jokingly ahead of time that it would be a religious ceremony, "Like, you know, they'll probably mention God in it and stuff." (Eric teases me about religion occasionally, and I tease him about it relentlessly.) He should've warned me more specifically about the guitarist he hired to perform a Christian rock ballad during the ceremony. It was one of those songs that sounds like a typical cliched love song until it hits the bridge. Then out comes "'Cause I died on the cross for your sins!" (I swear, every Christian rock song I've ever heard has the exact same bridge.)
Then there was the reception. The invite said that wine and sodas would be provided. I thought I was reading between the lines when I heard "cash bar" in that statement, and I assumed they were trying to save money. Fair enough. Turns out money wasn't the issue. The bar in the reception hall didn't even serve anything besides wine and sodas, and when a couple of my friends tried to smuggle in drinks from the restaurant's bar, they were told the hosts had specifically requested no hard alcohol be allowed inside. The strange thing was that when the father of the bride gave his toast, he started off with, "If you're not drunk by the end of this speech, you're not drinking enough." Since he's the guy who paid for the wedding, I assume he was aware of the prohibition policy. So I guess he did want us to get drunk, just... slower? This is why I've long since given up on religion.
Although the wedding was performed in what I'd heard was a reasonably moderate Presbyterian church, I knew Eric was raised Southern Baptist, and I'd heard a lot of negative things about that particular denomination, especially in respect to their views on gay people. So I naturally spent a lot of time before the wedding worrying that Eric's religious friends and family would be weirded out by Eric's gay friend and Eric's gay friend's gay date (that's me and Drew, respectively). But everyone was extremely nice to us, especially Eric's extremely nice family, who spent the entire weekend making both of us feel extremely welcome and extremely well-respected in addition to extremely sober. (Two out of three ain't bad.) And as someone with a finely-tuned insincerity detector, I can safely say that all the niceness was extremely genuine. I loved Eric's family.
Weddings are always full of people you've lost touch with, and this one was no exception. Eric invited a lot of our former co-workers from a company both of us used to work for. He was obviously a more sociable employee, as I didn't even remember most of these people's names, and there were a couple of people I didn't recognize at all. There were a few awkward moments of, "Jerry? Remember me?" "Um… of course! Hi!" Unfortunately, other people have finely-tuned insincerity detectors as well. I never feel as yucky as when my lack of social skills becomes obvious.
Also at the wedding was my former roommate, whom I haven't seen in at least two years... by choice. Once a regular part of my circle of friends, it had been a few years since any of us had seen him... by choice. Even Eric hadn't spoken to him in quite a while... by choice. Why did we all choose to remove this person from our lives? To put it gently, let's just say he's more full of shit than anyone I've ever known. Okay, so that wasn't gentle. The gentle way would be to say he's a pathological liar, but I got stuck talking to him for half an hour, so fuck being gentle. I was hoping he had changed since I'd seen him last, but he ended up being crazier than ever. He has a lie for every occasion, a tall tale for every topic. As my friend Nick once put it (again, not gently), he's "the Forrest Gump of bullshit." At least this guy served as a reminder that there was someone there with even worse social skills than mine.
Not surprisingly, at the opposite end of the social skills spectrum was Drew, who would probably have won the award for Most Popular. It's so great to know that we can be apart from each other at a function like that, and he'll do just fine on his own. He gets along terrificly with my friends -- and now, with Eric's family as well. The way they were chatting, I wouldn't be surprised if Eric's sister has put him on speed dial.
Foolishly, maybe, I attempted to organize a group wedding gift from my friends. I figured we'd let other people cover the registry. If we all chipped in, we could get something really great. There's an inevitable problem with organizing large groups, in that everyone has a different idea of what constitutes "chipping in", and everyone has a different idea of what constitutes "something really great". (Yes, I shot down Janice's suggestion that we spend several hundred dollars buying kitschy appliances like cotton candy makers and hot dog cookers at Target. When you're spending $30, maybe those things are goofy fun. When you're spending $500+, it's kind of a waste.)
As for "chipping in", I've heard the rule for wedding gifts is that you're expected to cover the cost of your plate. So I figured $50 each, or $100 for couple, was probably in the right neighborhood. Maybe I overestimated what my friends were willing to pay, because quite a few people undershot my request. Okay, not quite fair when everyone's getting equal billing on the card, but at least they told me in advance. On the wedding day, I thought I had raised $600, so I picked up a Big Ass Gift Certificate from Best Buy (after getting a small amount of input from a couple of the others, I decided that was the best option). But thanks to an apparent misunderstanding on what constitutes a "couple" (note to you-know-who-you-are: two people is a couple), I may personally need to make up a slight shortfall in the actual amount collected. Making matters worse, my antisocial ex-roommate somehow got his hands on the card and signed it, making him look like part of the gift. (It's okay, Michael. Not a big deal.)
But nobody screwed up bigger than I did, because after all that effort organizing, after all that (semi-successful) whip-cracking to get people to bring their cash on Saturday, after the hour I spent on my computer designing the card and the trip to Best Buy to pick up the gift, I forgot to leave the damn envelope on the gift table. Sorry, everyone. I called Eric to apologize and promised to deliver the gift as soon as he gets back from his honeymoon. The bright side of this is that I can now exchange the gift card for a slightly smaller one so I don't end up covering the difference, and I can cross the liar off the card. So it actually worked out better for me in the end. Sure, I had to put up with getting dissed on the Best Man front, trying to get drunk on 7 Up, talking to an insufferable loser and dealing the headaches of group gift purchase. But ultimately, none of my hassles was very big, and, more importantly, I think Eric and Julie had just the wedding they wanted.
Friday, September 12, 2003
TIHS IS RLEALY NAET
I jsut got tihs eamil:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.
So I'm now mere hours away from my friend Eric's wedding rehearsal, and I have no idea what I'm going to say if called upon to give some kind of speech.
I'm bad at speaking publicly, worse at speaking off-the-cuff and, I can only assume, extremely bad at being the gay guy at a wedding full of conservative Christians from Oklahoma. Maybe I'm wrong to assume that some of these people have never seen a real-live homosexual before, but I feel a strong burden, on behalf of the entire gay population of Earth, to get them to like me. I gotta represent.
The pressure doesn't help.
The backstory is this: Eric asked me to be in his wedding party -- an usher or groomsmen or whatever you'd call it. So, okay, just a groomsmen -- I should be able to blend nicely into the background and let the Best Man do all the hard stuff, right? Well, it turns out Eric has no Best Man, and the other two groomsmen are his sister's husband and his fiancee's brother. I'm the only "friend" in the group, thus when the crowd is waiting for the Best Man speech, I feel like, rather than face the awkward silence, I should probably step in with a few words. I've checked with at least ten people on this. Everyone agrees it's my job.
Eric, while a fairly liberal-minded guy -- liberal enough to have a gay guy in his wedding party, at least -- is pretty religious. He goes to church and, unlike a lot of other "religious" people I know, he actually, you know, believes the things they say there. He doesn't drink alcohol, and he doesn't believe in premarital sex, a fact I thought of having some fun with in my speech. "I've never given a speech like this before," I'd say. "So I'm kind of on virgin terrotory here. But in this case, I guess that's appropriate." Subtle wink to Eric. I thought about saying that, but I don't know how well it would play in a room full of people who may have had the same policy themselves, and I don't want to be the Big City Gay Guy Who Sees Something Wrong With Abstinence. I gotta represent.
I guess I'm just worried because I don't know my audience, and I don't know how I'm going to score at this thing if I can't use humor. Ah, humor, which has saved me from so many awkward moments over the years... please don't abandon me now! Seriously, what's the alternative to humor? I can't go goopy and sentimental. It's not really my style, and it's not really Eric's either. Oh, I'll toss a little of that stuff in there. You know: "Eric's a great guy." "I know you two will be really happy together." That kind of thing. But if anyone's expecting tears, I don't think I'm up to the task.
There's only one thing I know for sure right now: posting to my blog is a good way of procrastinating. What I really need to do is come up with something to say in my damn speech.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
THE SONGS REMAIN THE SAME
Everyone's been writing about the Dean-Lieberman spat over Israel and the disruptions of the Lyndon LaRouche supporters in last night's debate. Both of those are fascinating subjects indeed, but this early in the race, with this many candidates to choose from, we may just as well make our decisions based on less substantive matters. So let's be grateful that the candidates, in addition to being grilled on the Middle East and Bush's tax cuts, were also asked to name their favorite song.
And on that basis alone, I've already discounted some of them.
This was a key question for Sen. Moseley Braun. Considering she has as much chance of winning the nomination as Des'ree does of scoring another top 10 hit, Carol may just as well use her minimal time in the national spotlight to raise the profile of her favorite minimally popular mid-90's R&B divas as to discuss whatever positions she holds on the issues. In the next debate, expect Sen. Moseley Braun to set forth an economic plan built around lessons learned from Dionne Farris' "I Know".
Rev. Sharpton once again proves what makes him so vital to this campaign – his comic relief value. He not only chooses a song with some street cred, but uses the token "softball" question to take another jab against George W. Someday, I hope Al gives up politics to pursue stand-up full time. He'd have just about the same amount of impact on our nation's government, but he'd be able to make us laugh more than once every four years.
I don't know what's more disappointing: that Gephardt stole this straight off some compilation of "Songs Politicians Say Are Their Favorites When Running for Office" or the fact that, if any of the politicians who reflexively drape themselves in this song ever got past the anthemic chorus, they'd realize it's one of the most depressing and dissatisfied portraits of American life ever committed to vinyl. Dick, have some of your junior staffers buy you some Coldplay or Mary J. Blige – hell, even Blink 182. There's a whole world of music out there just waiting to be taken out of context.
Obviously, Edwards is listening to the same compilation as Gephardt. True, this guy was born in a small town (Seneca, South Carolina; population 7,652), but you don't see me claiming my favorite song is "Suburbia" by the Pet Shop Boys. Why do people from small towns like this song so much? I'm starting to wonder if maybe all of small town America has just one radio station that plays only this song over and over again. Of course, if that were true, small town people would grow to hate it. Just like the rest of us do.
Bonus points to Sen. Kerry for picking a different song off the "Born in the USA" album. But "No Surrender"?! How did he come up with that? Did he throw a dart at the track listing? There are at least eight better songs on that album. There's only one explanation I can think of: George W. Bush must've asked Congress to vote on it, and Kerry didn't want to go against a popular president. Kerry should listen to the lyrics sometime. He might learn a few things about not surrendering.
Ja-what-a? Who does this guy think he is? You can't pick songs no one knows. How can I make fun of you if I don't recognize your song? No wonder this guy's campaign is surging. He's crafty, this one.
Sen. Lieberman proves he's just as incapable of limiting himself to one song as he is of finding just one political party to buddy up to. Why not pick three songs and start seeking policy advice from Nader, too, Joe? And wasn't "Don't Stop" Al Gore's song? Don't, Joe. Stop.
John Lennon was right when he wrote this song. He's not the only dreamer. Anyone who contributes to the campaign of a guy with this low of a media profile is definitely in that camp. Memo to John Lennon: No, you're not the only one. But there are very, very few.
It's not surprising that the guy from Florida is pandering to the buffet crowd. Oh, wait, it's Buffett. Well, I guess you can take Graham's fondness for Buffett to mean... hmm... buffet? Graham? I'm hungry...
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
When I got home, I listened to that woman's voicemail again, and I could hear her a little more clearly.
First of all, it was apparently my daughter who kicked her dog.
And secondly, on a second listen, I now believe the woman's accent to be Russian. That's a little scary because I do live in a mostly Russian neighborhood.
But then again, I do not have a daughter.
And for whatever it's worth, my Caller ID says the call came from something called "Young Hollywood Act--" [the display got cut off].
If this is a joke, whoever you are, you're hilarious.
TO THE SOFT-SPOKEN WOMAN WITH THE STRONG ASIAN ACCENT WHO JUST LEFT ME THAT VOICEMAIL...
No, I didn't kick your dog.
I think you have a wrong number.
And a mental problem.
WHO SAID THAT?!
Here's a fun game. I give you a phrase, and you try to guess where it came from: my boss, or the subject line of a spam email I got today. (Well, I think it's a fun game. If you don't like it, try this instead.)
Here we go...
1. "Oh my, just because I'm Latin, the guys all want a taste of me."
2. "Where's my cappuccino?"
3. "Want to make an extra $1000 next week?"
4. "I consider us a team."
5. "I really like working with you."
6. "This is how Tara Reid looks without clothes."
7. "I really miss you."
8. "Can you guess which guy in this pic is straight?"
9. "Those guys at the airline are such fucking assholes."
10. "I lost 42 pounds and 8 inches."
11. "Didn't I ask for a cappuccino?"
12. "Need Xanacs without a presciption? I know a doctor who can get it for you!!!"
1. Spam - It was actually "Silly Tabitha" who said this. Silly you! (And for the record, my boss is not Latin. I believe his heritage is somewhere in Eastern Europe.)
2. My boss. He asked for a cappuccino, but didn't give me any cash. And before I could ask him for some, he picked up a phone call and started yammering. I've been stiffed too many times this way. So I finally adopted a strict policy: No cash, no coffee.
3. Spam - And believe me, the spam would be far more likely to pay off on this offer than my boss ever would.
4. My boss. Right before he yelled at me for something I screwed up.
5. My boss. Right before he told me he considered us a team.
6. Spam. Though I'll bet my boss has thought about it.
7. Spam. I believe this one was for carrot ink.
8. Spam. Okay, to be honest, this was actually some spam that Drew got today. I ran out of good subject lines of my own. I had lots of fun picturing the context in which my boss might've asked me this question.
9. My boss. He only bought one upgrade, but they charged him for four.
10. Spam. If my boss lost that much, he'd be 59 pounds and 4 foot 2. But according to his driver's license, he's 5'8" and 160 pounds. Trust me. My estimate is closer.
11. My boss. Thirty minutes with no cappuccino makes him a little testy. But he was quick to fork over the money at that point.
12. Spam. It's not that I expected anyone to be fooled by this, but it just made me wonder: why would I buy medication from someone who can't even spell the medication's name correctly? Sure, no unlicensed Mexican doctor has ever done me wrong PERSONALLY, but still...
Monday, September 08, 2003
AN UP AND DOWN DAY
Fresh Links on the Blogger home page can be a good place to check out random blogs. But sometimes, you find extremely disturbing things there.
People, please. If you're going to be suicidal on your blog, at least be comment-ready or give us some kind of email link so we can try to contact you. I hope somebody gives that girl a hug VERY soon.
Okay, after that, you could probably use a good laugh.
Just in case you don't get the joke, here's what's funny about that.
Again (from a slightly less reputable source).
Okay, I'd better not say too much about this, lest I get a certain boyfriend of mine in trouble. But I've seen the footage, and while she's no angel, she's definitely getting a raw deal. And there was no scratching whatsoever.
Sad item, funny item, sad item...
Yes, today this blog is a real roller coaster ride. (How scary is that? Note the sparks under the engine's tires.)
In anticipation of the REM concert at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday, I've been playing their old CD's to prep myself. I've mostly been trying to listen to the stuff I don't know as well, especially their crummier albums. Why does it feel like I'm cramming for a test? I'm sure I'll still enjoy the show even if I don't know all the words to "Chorus and the Ring". (When looking for that link, I also found this bonehead, who had the lyrics wrong. Maybe he shouldn't copy from Leo, who's obviously not the smartest kid in the class. It's one thing to transcribe the lyrics wrong when you're trying to decipher Michael Stipe's mumbly, slurry voice, but quite another when the band gives them to you. Hey, guys, next time, check the liner notes.)
Wait a second. Did that Mother Jones timeline say Bush went on a date with Tricia Nixon?!?
Friday, September 05, 2003
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
Allow me to put on my concerned citizen hat for a moment.
If you live in Los Angeles County, the bad news is that touchscreen (i.e., computer) voting will NOT be ready in time for the October 7 circus/recall election. Okay, I can forgive that; it's not like anyone expected to have an election in October. That means when you arrive at your polling place, you'll still be handed an old school punch card, which, you know, won't be confusing or anything with 135 candidates. At least now everyone knows to double-check their chads... don't we????
The good news, if you're willing to vote a bit early, is that touchscreen voting will be available from September 24 through October 3 at 12 locations throughout the county. All registered voters are eligible to take advantage of this option. You can find a location by clicking here:
It's your chance to register another small vote of protest against the Florida 2000 fiasco by refusing to use a system fraught with problems -- and to be on the front lines as California slowly updates from 1940's voting technology to 1980's technology!
Good. Now everything's better.
Because no one ever has problems getting computers to work properly.
Thursday, September 04, 2003
DOUBTING JONES (PART 2)
Part 4 of Pete Jones' online diary is up.
More teasing about his sexuality.
Also, his movie apparently has ninjas.
AFTER THE BEEP
So not only did I lose my tennis match last night...
And not only did a couple of the guys from my tennis league come up to me afterward to cheer me up...
But apparently, as I was packing up my things, I must've accidentally hit a few buttons on my cell phone, which proceeded to dial the first name in my address book.
And so my friend Adam discovered a two-minute voicemail on his phone this morning of the entire pep talk.
Them: "You're hitting really well."
Me: (pouting shamelessly) "If only I could start winning!"
Them: "You'll start winning, just you wait."
Me: (pouting AND whining shamelessly) "I've BEEN waiting! FOREVER!!!!!!"
Great, huh? Because, you know, losing wasn't humbling enough in itself.
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
MORE SURVIVOR SCOOP!!!
All this stuff about old newsgroup postings has taught me how remarkably easy it is to search google for postings linked to any given email address. So I did quick searches on Christa and Ryan. Of course, all the juicy stuff has been reported a million places already. But here are the completely uninteresting details you probably won't find anywhere else!!!!
Did you know...
Remember, you heard it here!
Oh, yeah, and according to TV Guide, the new cast killed a pelican and walked around naked a lot.
CONGRATULATIONS ANDRE AGASSI
Congratulations to Andre Agassi, who was named the Diet Pepsi Player of the Day at yesterday's US Open.
Due to heavy rains, Andre's was the only match all day that was played to completion, and he won after his opponent Taylor Dent had to withdraw due to an injury.
I'm sure it's a proud moment in his illustrious career.
Congratulations, Andre. Diet Pepsi and I salute you!
In other news, the front-runner for today's award is Lou, the umbrella salesman outside the main gate.
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
If you're thinking of buying lemonade from the little girl on the corner of Franklin and Spaulding, don't.
I know 25 cents a cup seems like a bargain, but man, she's really watering that shit down.
LABOR DAY FUN
Drew spent all week teasing me with some secret mystery activity he was planning for the weekend. It might be great, or it might be lame, he warned me. It might be an all-day thing, or we might not stay very long at all. It was less than an hour's drive from LA, and it did not involve swimming, music or food. Well, maybe food. Those were my clues. I guessed we were going to a monastery, and Drew said I was freakishly close.
It was the Festival de San Gabriel Mission!
Yes, on Sunday, we drove out to the San Gabriel Mission for a carnival celebrating the mission's anniversary, which had something to do with the first settlers in Los Angeles a certain number of years ago. I didn't go to elementary school in California, so I don't know the history. But I do know there were rides, games and plenty of carne asada!
Okay, the rides were rickety old carnival-type rides operated by scary-looking carnies. We only went on two rides, the Lame Bobsleds and the Dirty Burlap Sack Slide. The Lame Bobsleds, which one carnival worker told us was their "new" ride (in the sense, I guess, that New York is the new York), were operated by a man who is probably the guy Freddy and Jason see in their nightmares. (Casting directors, take note!) Drew and I were going to ride together in the same car, but we were afraid to ask if that was okay. So he rode two cars ahead of me and periodically turned around to mouth something I couldn't understand, but which I assumed to be about how scary the ride operator was. We were the only two people on the ride.
The ride operator on the Lame Bobsleds seemed to have two distinct responsibilities. He pressed a button that started the ride, and he flipped a latch on the security bar to let riders in and out of their cars. The latch would be easy enough for anyone to operate, but when the ride ended, rather than just flip it myself and jump out, I waited patiently for the scary man to do it for me. I didn't want to take away one of his jobs and risk his wrath.
Drew wisely decided not to go on the Dirty Burlap Sack Slide, which had three lanes but which never seemed to accommodate more than one rider every five minutes or so. To get to the top, you walked a very narrow, very shaky metal staircase. The slide was about two stories tall and leveled off at the bottom with about eight feet of flat surface, during which time the rider was expected to come to a complete stop. In case the rider did not stop within the eight feet, he or she would be catapulted butt-first onto a speed bump on the pavement of the carnival grounds. I don't think anyone quite mapped out the physics of this prior to constructing the ride, because I saw quite a few people hit that bump. This made the Dirty Burlap Sack Slide into probably the carnival's biggest thrill ride. I didn't scream as I went down, but when I got to the bottom and hurtled toward the speed bump, I shouted, "Stop! Stop! Stop!" as I dragged my hands on the other lanes of the slide.
Drew and I also played some games. My favorite was the Wacky Water Race, because I won it every time. Yes, I discovered a new skill. No, I do not plan to list this one on my resume. The Wacky Water Race cost $2 to play and, as the woman told us, you needed at least two players, "Because it is a race!" The object of the game is to shoot a water gun at a moving target until you fill an unseen container with some predetermined amount of liquid. While the game was in progress, music played from the game's tinny speakers. In between games, in order to catch the attention of passers-by, the speakers would play sound bites of catch phrases dating back to the 80's. Actually, I think there were just two: "I'll be back!" and "Well, isn't that special!"
The prizes were only slightly less dated. When you won the first game, you got a dusty, fist-sized plush horse. It was the kind of toy a prop department would furnish a little girl in a movie to give the impression that the kid was poor. The girl would play with the horse and name it Sally and dream of the day when Mommy would meet a new Daddy and they'd move into the Cinderella castle in Disneyland. When you won your second game, you could trade up from the horse to something slightly bigger but equally shabby.
A third win earned you your "choice" of prizes, which I assume means you could choose to go back to the horse if you wanted to, but I doubt anyone ever would. The level three prizes were the brass ring, plush toys about a foot tall. For some reason, most of them were Tweety Birds. You could choose a plain Tweety Bird, or Tweety in a baseball uniform, Tweety in a Statue of Liberty crown... Mind you, it's not like there was a selection of Warner Bros. characters available. Just Tweety. Tweety was by far the most popular prize at all of the carnival's games. Depending on what game you played, you could get Tweety on a hat, Tweety on a mug, blow-up Tweety…
After my third win, I opted for one of the few choices besides Tweety -- a Crash Bandicoot. (Yes, Drew and I played three times, meaning we paid $12 for that dumb toy.) At first I figured I'd give the doll to my niece or to Drew's goddaughter, but then I decided it was a little too shabby for a kid I knew, a kid who might judge me based on the kinds of toys I give. There was still a plastic covering on one of Crash's eyes. So Drew and I decided we'd give it away to some kid on our way out of the carnival. I figured carnival kids expected these kinds of toys.
The carnival also featured a Bingo hall, which was hard to resist. Cards were fifty cents each, and the jackpot for our first game got up to a whopping $13. This is quite disproportionate to how upset Drew and I got when we lost. When we started, we figured we'd just play one game. We ended up staying for four. We never won. I consoled myself as I left by hoping one of us would score big in the raffle. There was a $1,000 cash prize -- and that was fourth prize! The top three prizes were $5,000 cash, a cruise, and a laptop computer. Fifth prize was a lame TV/DVD combo. I have no idea how they expected to cover the cost of all those prizes given the sparse attendance, but I figure that means the odds are in my favor. I'm still waiting by the phone for my call from the prize committee.
There were not a lot of choices for lunch. Well, not a lot of good choices. Every booth had soft tacos, but nobody was selling chicken, which was a problem since Drew doesn't eat red meat. The Vietnamese booth had mystery meat on a skewer, and I guess Drew decided mystery meat was better than meat he was sure was beef, because that's what we both got. It was a combination plate that came with two eggrolls, bland dry rice and bland dry noodles. But the combo also came with a tasty barbecued corn on the cob, which was pretty much the only thing I ate. Corn on the cob and popcorn were the only foods I consumed at the fair.
There were also not a lot of options beverage-wise. There seemed to be a carnival-wide pricing structure on drinks. For $1.00, you could either get a tiny paper cup full of ice and your favorite fountain soda, or you could get a large bottle of Snapple. I decided to be cautious about how much I drank because there did not seem to be bathroom facilities that met my high standards. But my bladder always betrays me, and when I saw that the port-a-johns also had adjoining port-a-sinks, I decided to test them out just for novelty's sake. I support any and all advances in port-a-john technology.
On the way out, we decided to give away our spare ride tickets as well as the Crash Bandicoot. We had trouble finding kids who seemed like they'd be both appreciative and unlikely to run to their parents and say, "Those two strange men offered me things." We found one nice-looking bald Dad escorting two young girls through the gate, and Drew stepped up to offer his tickets. But when we got closer, I noticed that the man's head was shaved not because he was balding but rather to reveal the numerous tattoos on his scalp. Just to be safe, I checked for swastikas. We didn't think we'd find any takers for Crash until, a block away from the festivities, Drew saw a little kid ogling the toy. "Do you want him?" "That's Crash!" the kid said. We had our winner.
Drew had been very nervous about planning this event. He told me beforehand that if it wasn't actual fun, it would be fun afterward to talk about how much fun it wasn't.
I think we'd both agree that in the end, it was a little of both.
I would like to apologize to Ryan Shoulders of the Survivor: Pearl Islands cast.
In a post last week, I pointed out that in his online profile, he responded to the question on "Favorite alcohol" with "Drinking is for the boring", which I used to imply that he was "wuss[y]" and "weird".
Turns out I misread him. According to the Smoking Gun, Ryan S. is bored by alcohol because he's apparently into more adventurous substances.
And if he's looking for someone to party with, he may just have found her on the opposing tribe.
Now, I'm not one to judge, but here's my advice to you kids out there. Sure, you can use your freedom of speech to say whatever the hell you want on usenet newsgroups, but it's best not to broadcast your intent to commit illegal activities (especially using your real name, Chrsita and Ryan... tsk, tsk...) if a) you actually plan on committing those illegal activities (you don't want to give those pesky authorities any of this) or b) you plan on appearing on any reality shows.
I predict a lot of Pink Floyd will be blaring from Loser Lodge this season.
THINGS TO DO
HEAR, JERRY, HEAR
WATCH, JERRY, WATCH
READ, JERRY, READ
THAT'S MY JAM!
GOOGLE, JERRY, GOOGLE
(My favorite ways that people found this site recently)
math movie with black kid
why do people in movies have extremely large glasses
free christmas party speech for boss
why can't people fuck off
scared weird little guys "yesterday i saw the day after tomorrow"
how long until "sausage goes bad?"
"I hate charities"
Hall of Fame:
How do you draw MC Skat Kat?
harmony korine impersonators
why people should spread rumors in spanish