Wednesday, November 21, 2007

That Time Of The Year

A beautiful holiday centerpiece! Now with wings!

Have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy getting fat. See you next week.

[LINK – Tampon Turkey Centerpiece]

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Diary Of A Workday Without The Internet

12:32 – In the middle of reading an article on CNN.com, the internet stops working. Unfamiliar with legitimate news sites, I wonder if I’ve broken something.

12:35 – Panic begins to set in. Normally, resetting the modem fixes everything. But like a hunted animal, I sense that something different is happening here. I fire off an email to technical support.

“No internet. Matter of survival. Please, hurry.”

It doesn’t go through. I call them instead. Internet – 1, Me – 0.

12:40 – No word back from technical support. This isn’t good. I try refreshing the page 50 or so times, thinking perhaps I’m not concentrating hard enough. Like the final scene in Far and Away where Tom Cruise’s dying soul returns to his body when Nicole Kidman says, “I love you.” I lean in close to my computer and whisper, “I love you.” I hit refresh. Nothing.

12:50 – 18 minutes have elapsed since I last had an internet connection. What emails am I missing? Has my bank balance changed? I imagine that some tragedy has struck the world in those 18 minutes, and the worst part is not that I am unaware of my impending doom, but that everyone else knew about it before me.

12:54 – I check in on technical support. I see them in the back supply closet on the phone with Verizon, fiddling with wires. I think, “Let me guess, you’re unplugging the modem, unplugging the router, waiting 30 seconds and then plugging them back in.” In technical support parlance, this is the equivalent of a yo mama joke. Every time a technical support person tells me to do this, I imagine him gesturing to his co-workers with a jerking off motion.

1:01 – After determining that there is nothing fun my computer can do with the internet, I decide to employ diversion tactics. First, a trip to the bathroom.

1:02 – How could a trip to the bathroom only waste one minute? Are you kidding me? Could I possibly be that quick? Does time stop in the bathroom?

1:18 – Official word is in: There is an internet outage in our area. This is both comforting and maddening. Comforting because at least the problem has been discovered. Like alcoholism, it’s the first step. But a general outage means that there is absolutely nothing I can do to hasten the return of the internet. I am a castaway, and not only does my boat have a hole in it, but my boat just sank.

1:22 – The reality has set in. Like accepting the death of a relative (who will be dead for at least the next couple of hours) I move on to acceptance. I contemplate doing actual work, with a pen and paper like the cavemen did. I wonder if cavemen had any kinds of laws. I laugh at the idea of a drawing showing a caveman clubbing another caveman’s wife with a big X through it and decide to Wikipedia “cavemen laws” to see if I am right. “Server not found.” That one snuck up on me.

1:25: – People are starting to get cranky and irrational. Everyone suddenly seems lethargic and sleep-deprived. You hear conversations like:

Guy #1: “I need that contract, email it to me.”
Guy #2: “I CAN’T EMAIL IT TO YOU.” (soft sobbing)

If the Devil came to Earth, this would be his racket: trading souls for working internet connections.

1:44 – Just finishing lunch. I tried to eat slow knowing that once I was done there would be nothing left for me, but I was just so excited to have something to do that I couldn’t help myself. One guy has left the office. He walked out mumbling, “I’ll put up with my wife as long as there’s internet there.”

It is an orgy of information.

1:53 – I feel like I am in a dark, spooky mansion where a murderer has cut all the power lines, only my version is brightly lit and full of non-threatening people in business casual v-necks. Although now that I take notice, people do have a murderous look in their eyes. I feel like I am in Clue.

1:58 – I think a game of dice has broken out in the conference room. We are devolving.

2:10 – Stockholm Syndrome is setting in. People are saying things like, “Give Verizon a break – it must be hard to manage this many internet servers. I’m sure they’re doing the best they can.” If Verizon showed up right now, I’m pretty sure Kim the office slut would try to sleep with him, although she might in any event if he bought her dinner.

2:16 – It’s worse than I thought. People have resorted to talking to one another. Not just comments about what everyone’s eating for lunch, but actual conversations. Right now, I overhear a conversation between a Christian and a Jew, and they seem to be trying to understand each other’s religion. They aren’t even screaming.

2:39 – ITUNES. Good God, for a moment I forgot it existed and didn’t require an internet connection. At least if I’m going to die here I’ll go down with some good background music.

3:03 – Brooke just called me in response to the text message I sent her about my situation. “So there’s no internet? What are you doing? I don’t get it.” I told her I was writing a blog post about it. She told me to fax it to her. She laughed; I didn’t.

3:15 – The lengths to which people will go to amuse themselves: I just batted a water cap back and forth between my two index fingers for over a minute. Halfway through it became a hockey game, and when my right index finger scored, I felt happy, and then very, very sad.

3:22 – The oldest employees have begun telling stories of the 70’s when people used carbon copies and ditto machines – you know, the ones that made the great smelling tests in grade school? I’ve never seen what they look like because they were kept away in a “teachers only” area, but I imagine it being a machine with a big crank that churns out copies wet with ink. The big shocker? No one gives a shit. The copy machine works.

3;38 – Genius moment on “The Office” a few weeks ago: The staff is sitting in a meeting and Michael is giving a presentation. On the TV behind him there is a screensaver bouncing around. Everyone waits in anxious anticipation for the bouncing logo to land perfectly in the corner of the screen, and they all cheer when it does. That’s what I’m doing right now.

3:41 – A side note to the office culture – It would be interesting to study the correlation between the popularity of the internet and the popularity of the interoffice romance. My guess is that they are inversely proportionate; the rise of the internet was the fall of the interoffice romance. If anyone here was mildly attractive I would be on them like . In fact, I’m starting to think that I’ve been unfair to Marge in human resources simply because of her name. It’s probably short for Margery, which is totally hot, right? Right?

3:52 – Brooke and I just had this text message exchange:

Brooke: OMG! I hate not being able to email you. This day is dragging. What do you want for dinner?”
Me: “The internet.”

3:59 – All hope for a leisurely holiday-week workday has been dashed, although everyone has accepted their circumstances and is now trying to make the best of them. In fact, it’s almost like a snow day. Everyone has this wild look in their eye like they want to get drunk and do something crazy like go see a movie on a work night (they’re still old after all). But the experience has been bonding, as though we needed to strip each other of the internet to bare our souls.

4:25 – But wait! Like a big, black knight in shining armor, a Verizon technician just showed up at our office. I can’t imagine what he must have thought. The scene he walked into closely resembles a preschool right after nap time. People are drinking soda and aimlessly walking around the office. Some people have taken their shoes off, as though that has something to do with having internet service. But when he opened the door, everyone stopped and looked at him in amazement. It’s as if we all forgot that the front door actually opens and we are free to come and go as we please. We thought we were trapped by our own circumstances, doomed to a diversionless workday full of personal interaction, but what we learned is that, in the end, we chose to stay. To interact. To embrace this opportunity to, even if just for a day, hark back to a simpler time when people communicated by exchanging ideas, not links. We were all a bit stunned, to be honest, at how touching the moment really was, how we all detected just a tinge of regret that perhaps he would solve the problem, and our snow day would be over.

4:37 – Guy can’t fix it. I’m out of here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Worst Date

If you haven’t been paying close attention, and why would you what with all that self-righteousness clouding you egotistical tunnel vision (kidding, I love you guys), you might have missed that tomorrow is the one year anniversary of [redacted]. In some ways this makes me happy, and in some ways it makes me sick to my stomach. On the one hand, it’s another 150 posts I’ll be able to show my children someday when it’s time for them to understand why their daddy ran off to Thailand with the robot dog when they were only five years old. That’s noble. On the other, though, what have I achieved? A whole year – 365 opportunities to do something truly great like win the lottery or work at a soup kitchen, and all I have to show for it is a nice apartment, a beautiful girlfriend, a loyal dog, steady income, a modicum of praise and adulation and excellent health. Basically I’m no closer to meeting George Clooney now than I was one year ago, so what’s the point?

In celebration of my anniversary, I did the same thing I did for my last blog’s anniversary. I went through my “drafts” folder (which is a glorified “ideas” folder, containing snippets like “I wish I could write like an architect, instead it’s more like a kid with a disability”) and cleaned it out. I got rid of everything that wasn’t good (99%) and was left with this: an account of the worst date of my life. I had written it some time ago as an email to my friends but never posted here. So I figure why not retell the story here? We’ll call it closure – both on the horrific memory, and on another year of putting the English language to bad use.

The date took place in the summer of 2004. I was in the midst of a three-month long break-up with my girlfriend at the time. I met the girl (let’s call her “Penny”) through a friend one night at a bar. Penny seemed nice enough. She was cute and blonde and most people who are cute and blonde can never really be "bad" because they're starting out at 50% with cute and blonde. Unless they kill puppies and vote republican. Then, sure, they can degrade themselves exponentially. Turns out she votes republican. I was scared to ask if she'd ever killed a puppy.

Anyway, my friend told me that Penny thought I was cute and wanted to go on a date with me. Penny randomly called me a week later. I had just gotten back from an exhausting bike ride, and she asked if I was doing anything for the night. Now, anyone who knows anything about the human body will tell you that the worst time for a man to be asked out on a date that he doesn't really want to go on is directly after having endured a strenuous workout. Not only is your heart-rate sky high, but your adrenaline is pumping and your pheromones are escalated. Plus you have that overwhelming sense of accomplishment that makes you want to go out and conquer a woman because you're so strong. So I didn't want to go on the date. But in essence I said, "Sure, let's go to dinner [and then bang because I’m a man damnit]."

I take a shower and meet her downtown. I let her pick the place because it's her hood (Union Square area) and I know little to nothing about it except that there's a park there where odd people hang out and Adam Duritz is somewhere nearby, so the restaurants must be good (fatty). She ends up taking me to this bar/lounge/restaurant with one of those trendy one-word names like "Lettuce" or "Doody." It was actually a really cool place, if not a little pricey. But I figure it's the first date and I’m not in love with this girl so she'll offer to pay for her half at the end of the night and I won't fight back. By me writing that sentence, you already know that when the check came she looked at me like a child looks at their father when the check comes at Friendly's, that look being the here's-where-daddy-does-that-cool-thing-with-his-wallet look. If she even had a purse with money in it, it never saw the dim light of the corner booth. My credit card laughed at me as I put it in the bamboo box that the check came in. I, retaliating the only way I knew how, poured he rest of the wine in my glass and downed it. Ha! I showed her. I got more wine.

Indeed, the meal would turn out to be the only memorable moment of the night, because this girl started talking right after the bread was put down and didn't stop talking until I got up to go to the bathroom right after paying the check. I wouldn't be surprised if she kept on talking after I left. Talking about what? Name any interesting topic you can think of . . . Not that. Her situation with her ex boyfriend? Check. The free haircuts she gets at the salon she works at? Check. Driving up a snowy hill in Vermont in a front wheel drive car? Double check. She told that one twice. There were moments (now blurred by the next-day haze of drinking) where I distinctly remember hearing her say something and saying to myself, "Remember that so you can tell someone she said that. They won't believe you. They will be so amazed . . ." From what I can remember, we established the following truths over the course of our meal:

It is a long way between 5th and 6th avenue in midtown.

Her ex calls her sometimes, then doesn't call her sometimes. And she doesn't get this.

Having a job is good, because not having a job means you have no money.

Her roommate has Diabetes. (She refused to comment on my question as to whether there could ever be a singular "Diabete.")

She has a friend that lives in California, and a friend that lives in Florida, and a friend that lives in Texas and a friend that lives in Michigan.

There's no way that the guy who cut her hair only took off 3 inches. He definitely took off more than 3 inches.

She doesn't like shellfish but she likes salmon, shark, mahi mahi, Chilean sea bass and flounder. Not tuna.

Regardless, by the end of the night I was pretty drunk and I had just spent a lot of money on this girl so she owed me sex, or at least a blowjob. So we leave the restaurant and I don't play games:

Me: "I’ve got to get home. Want to come?"
Her: "Sure."

We hop in a cab and head up to my place. Unfortunately, she keeps on talking and by 50th street I realize I’ve made a huge mistake. I don't like this girl at all. I mean, it's not just that I don't want this girl to be my girlfriend; not just that I don't want to go on a second date with this girl; it's that I don't like her as a person, as a human mass, as a product of some offshoot of evolution. And she's coming to my home. With me.

It only gets worse from here, because we get to my place and she sits on the couch and picks up a magazine. It's my own fault really, for leaving magazines out.

It's 12:30 and I make myself a drink because I can't handle this anymore. I'm trying to calculate in my head what's an adequate amount of time this girl can sit on my couch before it's acceptable for me to say, "It's been really fun, I have to get up early tomorrow." I come up with half an hour, and then look at the clock and realize that in a half an hour it will be 1:00. Somewhere inside me I cry a little and, as she reads aloud some quote from the magazine she found particularly funny, all I can do is stare at the empty wall in front of me and wonder, "Would my neighbor hear her scream?"

12:55 rolls around and this is supposed to be over. It's supposed to be over. But at some point in the night this date turned into an assignment, or more appropriately, a tour of duty in Afghanistan. She is a terrorist and her WMD is this: "Do you mind if I stay the night? I'm beat." Perfectly timed and executed. She's dumb as a rock but her military IQ is phenomenal. I should have known she was autistic. If only she'd go into a somatic state and I could just put her in the closet or something.

All I can do is whimper and say OK, and there's even a part of me that is rejuvenated by the thought that after the lights go out and she stops talking that maybe she’ll take her shirt off and we’ll finally make a meaningful connection. But if you've been reading this story and can make even basic insights into the human condition, you know that I didn't get my rocks off and, instead, I fell asleep with my hand on her thigh (maybe my thigh) listening to her talk about her ex boyfriend.

An upside? I wasn't just on time for work the next morning. I was early. Couldn't get up and out fast enough. Corporations should hire this girl to make sure their executives are on time for all the big meetings. Just stick her with them the night before and they will be so happy to go to the meeting they'll be half an hour early and show up with a box of Krispy Kreme too.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dangerous Toys: Dangerous? Or Just Toys?

Earlier this week, I was introduced to the watchdog organization known as W.A.T.C.H., which stands for “world against toys causing harm.” (More like W.A.F., “world against fun.” Right?!) Their founder states the organization’s purpose on their website:

My introduction to the frightening world of dangerous toys came about in the course of my work as a lawyer. In my investigations of the toy industry on behalf of Congress and clients, I became painfully conscious of the risks to our children when their playthings unreasonably expose them to grave physical and psychological harm. Their toy boxes are secret havens for death traps.

(Death Traps™, coincidentally, is what I named my prototype of a children’s toy I invented. It was a game made for two or more players where one child left the room and the other child put something into a box. Then the other child came back into the room and had to eat whatever the first player put into the box. If it was something toxic, all the players would should “Death Trap!” and giggle.)

Anyway, W.A.T.C.H. puts out an annual list of the ten most dangerous toys of the year. In theory, this is a helpful list. If I had a child, I would want to know if their “Pure Lead Cannonball Shooter™” toy was unsafe. Or if their “Mostly Edible Knife Collection™” was maybe teaching them some sort of unforeseeable bad habit. But in perusing the list for 2007, I couldn’t help but think, “Our kids are fucked.” And not because they’re going to choke on Harry Potter’s quiddich ball, but because we’re raising them to be pussies. It’s the same reason I won’t allow my future children to use anti-bacterial soap – the best anti-bacterial soap is a strong immune system.

Besides, when I was growing up we never had anti-bacterial soap. We had regular soap. If you wanted something sterilized you sprayed Lysol on it. For example, when my sister and I were sick, my mom would follow us around spraying Lysol on everything we touched. (The only thing stopping her from spraying us with Lysol was the warning label on he bottle, which she surreptitiously called “merely a suggested usage.”)

What’s more, our toys were 10 times as dangerous as the ones on this list. I mean, I may not be remembering this properly, but I’m pretty sure that I had a toy that used actual gun powder. And look at me – I turned out fine. I have a blog for Christ’s sake.

So I decided to make a list comparing the so-called “dangerous” toys of today with the most dangerous toys of my youth, to show these W.A.T.C.H. people what danger actually is and to hopefully persuade parents everywhere to put their children in harms way a little more often. It’s called “natural selection,” and it’s worked well-enough so far. Don’t stop now.

Go, Diego, Go Animal Rescue Boat vs. Disc Shooter

Go, Diego, Go Animal Rescue Boat: Apparently the boat’s orange and yellow paint has excessive amounts of lead in the paint. So if the child was left alone with it for days on end and used its barely formed baby teeth to gnaw away at the surface, eventually the kid might be a little dimmer than the other kids.

Disc Shooter: How about a gun that shot coin-sized, plastic disks at a high velocity with minimal predictability? This wasn’t just a hazard to me, this was a hazard to my mom, my sister, the dog and, as I imagined it in my head, the monster in my attic, which is why I sometimes slept with it at the foot of my bed. Bitch monster never messed with me. (Note to Monster: If you somehow come across this, you know I’m just kidding about the bitch thing, right?)

Sticky Stones vs. Sponge Capsules

Sticky Stones: These small stones with magnetized centers could be ingested and easily passed, unless you eat so many that they become magnetized into a giant cluster in your small intestine.

Sponge Capsules: I see your magnet cluster and raise you my sponge capsules – colorful pills that looked exactly like Mike & Ikes that, when put in liquid, would blow up into big sponge creatures. In other words, ingest one of these seemingly delectable capsules and suddenly there’s a Brontosaurus in your stomach. But hey, at least he’s not a big scary magnet.

Jack Sparrow's Spinning Dagger vs. Slip ‘N Slide

Jack Sparrow's Spinning Dagger: This dagger, which the child can strap to its wrist, spins with the push of a button making it a potential hazard if the kid sticks his wrist in his eye.

Slip ‘N Slide: Here’s a more plausible scenario: You go running down a wet lawn, jump belly first onto a thin sheet of plastic and slide uncontrollably for 25 yards. But it’s cool, you definitely cleared out all the rocks from the lawn first, right? And you moved the swing set? And there aren’t any trees in your back yard, right? I mean, come on, kids are responsible; they take the proper time necessary to ensure safety when setting up toys. Otherwise you run the risk of breaking your wrist and poking your eye out with the protruding bone.

Dora the Explorer Lamp vs. Lamb Chop Sing-a-Long Talking Book

Dora the Explorer Lamp: The exact wording from the W.A.T.C.H. website: “This product is not marketed as a toy. It is marketed as a lamp and it even says that it is an electronic device. However, when in a child's room, it looks like a toy. A colorful Dora sits atop a light. A child may want to play with Dora and there are risks of fire and burns.” OoooK.

Lamb Chop Sing-a-Long Talking Book: Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture for this one. I searched for this thing so deep into Google that I got to the sexual results. Like this:

Oh and maybe I should note this wasn’t my toy. It was my little sister’s. And it wasn’t inherently dangerous, but my friends and I made it dangerous. It was a talking book where you created the story. You would press one button for the subject of the sentence, one for the predicate and one for the direct object, and when you were done the book would read it back to you in Lamb Chop’s voice. So you could make lines like, “Lamb Chop . . . stuck a paw into . . . a bucket!” My friends and I thought it was funny to make up lines like, “Hush Puppy . . . stuck a paw into . . . Charlie Horse!” We would stand the book on a table and video tape it, and at the end of each sentence we would knock it over in some way, be it with a punch from off screen or a bowling ball or a golf club. (The thing was amazingly resilient.)

Anyway, the dangerous part came when we got so excited about it that we took it out in the driveway and programmed it to speak and then hit it with our car. We laughed and laughed and laughed, but the truth is someone could have really gotten hurt.

(Ed. Note: One of my dreams that I will never follow through on is to find that videotape, wherever it may be, and convert it to DVD so I can upload it to YouTube. It’s times like these where I wish I had follow thro–

Lil "Giddy Up" Horse vs. Easy Bake Oven

Lil "Giddy Up" Horse: The toy comes with a "Pet Sak" that, when securely placed over a child’s head, can restrict their air flow. Ironically, this sort of unnecessary overprotection is sometimes referred to as “suffocating” your child.

Easy Bake Oven: THIS WAS A GODDAMN OVEN, PEOPLE. You’re talking about a Pet Sak over here meanwhile kids were playing with OVENS. I’m 28 years old and I’m still not allowed to play with the oven.

Spider Man 3 New Goblin Sword vs. Hot Wheels Slot Cars

Spider Man 3 New Goblin Sword: With a push of a button, the blade expands to over 3 feet long. Sounds pretty cool, I actually want one.

Hot Wheels Slot Cars: So with your Goblin sword, you’ve got what, a 3 foot radius of danger? Try a 10 FOOT RADIUS OF DEATH. These cars zipped around the track so fast that on sharp turns they would literally fly (like birds of prey) through the air, regardless of how many babies’ underdeveloped craniums were standing in the way. I once saw one of these go through a Sheetrock wall. I’m only half kidding.

Hip Hoppa vs. Hungry, Hungry Hippos

Hip Hoppa: This is a modern day pogo stick, which is clearly thousands of times more dangerous than the pogo sticks children have been playing with for centuries. (Yes, centuries.) Next year’s list will probably include “Jumping: Jumping has been determined to cause damage to the knees, and it is possible that children may lose control of their emotions and squeal with delight, which could damage their vocal chords.”

Hungy, Hungry Hippos: Innocent game of hippos gobbling up marbles? Or fucking crazy winner-takes-all slamfest of kids punching plastic levers as fast as their little hearts can beat? Have you ever seen the look in a child’s eye when they are playing Hungry, Hungry Hippos? It’s deranged. Like at any moment they could snap and just start shoving the marbles into their own mouth.

B'loonies Party Pack vs. Castle Grayskull

B'loonies Party Pack: Because of its bright colors, this toy may seem edible, when in reality it is not. (Quick toy idea: Edible toys. How much of a mind-fuck would that be to kids. Like a transformer that is normal in every way except that you can eat it.)

Castle Grayskull: Sure, the slime that came with this may not have been too appetizing, but it was dangerous in a totally different way. I mean, this toy was fucking scary. I had nightmares about Skeletor raining slime down upon He-Man. What was the slime? Where did it come from? Did it burn? How could He-Man, with all his strength, escape from a substance which can’t be fought?! Plus, the castle snapped shut real tight and you could totally get your sister’s hair caught in there. Trust me.

My Little Baby Born vs. Slap Bracelets

My Little Baby Born: There is a pink pacifier that is attached to the doll with a ribbon, meaning that a child could remove the pacifier and choke on it. My simple solution? Make the pacifier the size of an actual friggin pacifier. You know, the kind that are made to go in kids’ mouths. OR, stop buying your babies toys of themselves. It’s creepy.

Slap Bracelets: It’s kind of the same danger really, a little pink pacifier and a sharp fabric-coated bracelet of doom. The entire point of these things was to do exactly what was most dangerous – to slap them hard against your flesh. Honestly, it’s like marketing a saber as a “Tag-You’re-It Rod.” (Hmm . . .) And they were the coolest thing around. I’ll never forget the time Jennifer Cappiobianco let me slap bracelet her. (I’ll leave it at that.)

Rubber Band Shooter vs. Sky Dancers

Rubber Band Shooter: Actually, this one is pretty hard to beat. My dad made me a rubber band gun when I was young and it was one of my favorite things. Granted, if it misfired and you were holding the gun up to your face to aim it at something, the rubber band snapped back square into your eye. But I fought through the adversity – there were plastic cups that needed to be knocked down, and I was the man that had to do it.

Sky Dancers: Perhaps the most dangerous toy ever. (Again, not my toy. I had two sisters. I could only play with the plastic cups for so long.) Basically, you loaded the Sky Dancer into the base and then you shot her spinning into the air. Her wings were made of hard plastic and I swear she spun at something like 2000rpm. Of course, being a boy, instead of shooting it up into the air I liked to shoot it at people. Luckily, I never actually hit anyone. Except those plastic cups, who had it coming.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Framed For A Crime . . . of Passion!

together

Sometimes I wish that my blog was more helpful. You know, that I came up with suggestions on how people could improve their lives or directed readers to eBay auctions for ultra-hip items they never knew they wanted. You look at the hardships being suffered in places like Pakistan (that’s the one with all the “unrest” right now, right?) and then you look at yourself in the mirror in the bathroom and it’s like, “How can I help?”

So today I’ve decided to infuse my blog post with a lesson. And the lesson is this: “If you’ve ever thought about taking a poster to a frame shop to get framed, don’t take a poster to a frame shop to get framed.”

Everyone here should know how this started. One year ago, in one of the most romantic gestures in history, I stole Brooke’s Marc Chagall poster from her old apartment. I intended on surprising her by having it framed and hung in her new apartment, except instead I accidentally left it on the subway on my way home. Oops. Sorry. I guess I was distracted by the huge, beating heart on my sleeve.

Anyway, Brooke wrote this post about it. My mom, ever the peacemaker, read the post, and the following week I received a package in the mail from Art.com. Some people may call this “meddling,” whereas I just call it “free stuff.” One of the few rules I strictly follow in life is to never refuse anything that’s free. Some people may stand up for things like honor and dignity. For example, if someone punched you in the face and then offered you $100 in compensation, some people would say, “I don’t want your blood money!” I would take the money, and then when he wasn’t looking I would throw a garbage can at him.

Now, of course, it falls to me to follow through on my original loving intentions and have this poster framed. On Saturday, Brooke and I walk to the frame store around the corner. In protest of the increasingly cold weather, this is one of the few trips outside I will allow myself. I try to explain to Brooke how this heightens the romance, but she isn’t buying it. We arrive at the store and it seems run down in every way. Cluttered, dusty, unorganized. I think, “It must be hard to run a business of framing things . . .”

We browse the various frame styles. I prefer something gold and ornate; Brooke likes her frames like she likes her men: black and simple. We spread the poster out on the table and immediately the owner of the shop begins speaking to us in a tone of voice that was equal parts creepy and condescending, as though he were a ghost who didn’t put much stock in our knowledge of frames. (At one point, mid-sentence, he glances down at the print and mumbles, “God, he loved his wife.” I’m not sure if he’s talking about Chagall or himself, remembering a happier time before he murdered his wife.)

We start with the gold frame. I’m liking the way it looks, and Brooke is coming around. We express our approval and ask for a price. He starts tallying things on a computer. This is the first sign that something might be wrong. He is muttering words like “backing” and “mounting” and “per square foot.” Suddenly, he looks up from his computer and says, “You’re looking at about $267.00.” I try to seem unastonished, like I am a man of the world who has had many things framed and understands the high price of the craft. Brooke vocalizes our shock before I can: “Let’s look at something cheaper.”

So he prices out the simple, black frame that Brooke choose and, after doing his calculations, says, “Here you’re looking at about $155.00.” (Just so everyone is clear, that’s a $25 poster and a $155 frame.) I wanted to scream at him, “IT’S A BLACK FRAME. HAVEN’T YOU EVER BEEN TO IKEA? THEY MAKE BLACK FRAMES LIKE COWS TAKE SHITS.” But again, Brooke took the reigns: “We’ll think about it.”

Once we got outside though it was Brooke who went on the offensive. “$250? That seems really expensive for a frame for a $20 poster. Plus that guy was creepy. He had crazy eyes. We’re not going back there.” Exhausted from all the drama, we decided to regroup and try again on Sunday.

The next day, we call a few stores and end up with one a few blocks down from us, one of the few in the neighborhood open on a Sunday. In yet another act of loving sacrifice, I stop watching football to go to the frame store. When we get there, the woman who owns it tells us that it would be at least a half an hour until she could help us. She offers to buy us a cup of coffee in the meantime. It is slowly becoming clear that framers make more money than I thought.

We decide to leave and come back later. On the way home, Brooke, who was clearly in House Modification Mode at this point, asked me if we could go to the hardware store to buy the second coat of paint for the bedroom.

“You were serious about that?”
“Of course I was. It needs a second coat.”
“I thought that was just one of those things we said at the time when we were really into painting.”
“No, it’s one of those things that we said because it’s true.”
“Oh.”

Regardless, I was already missing football to frame this poster that, maybe you forgot, I stole in one of the most romantic gestures of all time. (Maybe my second lesson from this post would be: “Execution of romantic gestures is as important as planning them.” Or maybe: “Screw romance, give good head.”)

We go back half an hour later. Before walking in Brooke reminds me that we aren’t going for any fancy gold stuff – just a basic black frame. We walk in the store and I spread the poster out on the counter. The girl asks, “So what were you thinking for this,” and without thinking I respond, “Maybe something gold and ornate?” Brooke turns to me with a look of anger and disappointment. The girl pulls a few frame samples to show us, and I choose one. Brooke interrupts our artistic musings and says, “OK, how much does that one cost?” The girl plunks some numbers into her computer just as the other guy did, only this time we hear new, more expensive sounding things like “UV glass” and “sealant.” She looks up from her computer and says, “That would be $620.40.”

Brooke: “Did you say $62.40?”
Girl, who has look of fear on her face in answering Brooke: “$624.40.”
Brooke: “Thanks. We’ll think about it.”

We get outside and Brooke explodes. “That bitch! How dare she suggest that we buy a $600 frame for a $15 poster!” (The longer Brooke argues, the cheaper the poster gets. I imagine a few more trips like this and she will be complaining, “How could they! For a poster that only cost $2!”) We head home and Brooke fixes a drink to calm herself. Ah, white middle-class problems . . .

So that’s where we stand, wounded but not defeated. I think, for the rest of her life, Brooke will have a nervous tick when someone mentions the words “UV glass.” (“Who puts UV glass on a $10 poster!?”) But on the bright side, this romantic gesture of mine has brought us together, united us in a battle against the framers of the world, who clearly are the monsters of big business, hiding out in small framing shops across America, making billions off of four pieces of wood and some glass.

Where we go from here, I don’t know. Although someone suggested we try a premade frame from K-Mart, which sounds great right about now. Who needs hand crafted frames when I can get frames made of real wood, hand chopped by some of the strongest children South America has to offer? That way, when lying in bed at night, looking up at the poster, I’ll know that not only am I a hopeless romantic, but also I can rid myself of the feeling that I haven’t done may part, because at least I know I helped.

“That kid has a job,” I’ll muse, “because of me.”

Friday, November 9, 2007

Q&A Friday!

I’ve always thought of India as a place where dreams are bigger than reality, which is why I wasn’t surprised when I read the headline earlier this week: “Indian Girl Born With Eight Limbs.” Instead of being grossed out, I thought of all the wonderful things I could do with my life if I had eight limbs. First, I would start a charity. Daniel Murphy’s Fund For People With Extra Parts. I wouldn’t discriminate between what kind of extras a person had. If you had two heads, or just two livers, you would be welcome.

Then I would start a website for people with extra parts to meet like-parted mates. It would be called www.extraheartsforextraparts.com. People from all over the world could communicate and socialize with people who understand what it means to put your pants on three legs at a time. And it wouldn’t be just an altruistic endeavor (although I might win the Nobel Peace Prize, which I would refer to as my Nobel Pieces Prize). It would make me hugely wealthy because all the people with extra parts would have their generous endowments from the Fund For People With Extra Parts with which to pay for the extra parts matchmaking service. I would be lauded as a visionary and a reformer for the handicapped, a “brother in too many arms” to the disfigured. I would be famous, and quite the handyman.

Then I read today that the Indian girl underwent successful surgery to have all the extra limbs removed. And along with her third right foot, my dream died.

So it’s back to a regular old Friday, typing out a Q&A Friday with my two regular hands and my regular sized dreams of achieving fame and fortune the old fashioned way – with 1 pancreas, two arms, two knees and a penis full of hope.

Hay Dan,

Now that you are living in Brooklyn, any chance you are going to get a flock of your own? Nothing like having a few chicks in the back yard.

Here’s an excerpt from the article referenced in the email, just so everyone knows what we’re talking about:

Apparently, a bunch of Brooklynites--especially in Red Hook and Cobble Hill--are getting into chicken farming. As in, backyard coops. Today's Daily News reports that "chickens are now flocking to Brooklyn thanks to a renewed interest in eating locally grown and raised foods."

Being an animal lover, this really appeals to me. I’ve seen firsthand on the news the horrific conditions in which these beautiful animals are raised. Plus, I love the all-natural taste of farm fresh eggs, but I hate overpaying just to know that the chickens who laid them weren’t smacked around. Plus, you can’t overestimate the kitsch factor of raising chickens in your backyard. I can think of nothing more relaxing than waking up late on a Sunday morning, throwing some pants on and going out to feed my chickens.

The problem arises when it comes time to eat them. I mean, I can barely even remember to defrost the frozen cutlets before I leave for work, let alone go through all the necessary preparation to roast a whole chicken. And another thing I don’t get is how you ensure that only one of the birds dies after the cockfight? What if one dies, and you’re like, “OK, good. Dinner,” but then moments later the victorious bird also passes from mortally inflicted wounds? Then you’ve got TWO chickens for dinner. That’s a lot of chicken! I guess you could make sandwiches the next day. Or some nice chicken salad. But still, it seems like a big hassle.

Although, I do have the best chicken names already picked out: Frank, Tatum and Jezebel. There’s something about Jezebel that just screams “Eat me with a biscuit.”
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Dan,

I went on a first date with a guy the other night and the restaurant he took me to for dinner was THE WORST. He said it’s one of his favorite places. How much stock do you put in a guy by his choice of restaurant? The food was so bad that it made me like him less.

Hungry in Texas

The first time I took Brooke on a date, she emailed me beforehand saying, “You pick the place, and I reserve the right to judge you on it.” Pretty ballsy for a girl who I’d met THROUGH THE INTERNET. But it made me really work hard to find the perfect place. And you know what? I did. And you know what? She almost went home with me that night. (Well, she didn’t slap me when I asked.)

The point being, it makes a big statement on a guy’s part that he takes the time and care to pick out a good restaurant, especially for a first date. The fact that this guy THOUGHT he made that effort scores him points. The fact that he likes food that tastes like trash, however, is disconcerting. The last thing you want is to invest in this relationship only to be taken out for a “casual” meal to the back door of the local diner where they trash the leftovers from the lunch shift, where your boyfriend proudly uses the line, “Dumpster for two, madam?”

Then again, I’m a bit of a foodie. I once too a girl to Boston Market and she ordered the string beans instead of the creamed spinach. That was it for me!
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So, I was reading this article and it mentions, among other things, that "one third of people under 30 can't remember their own phone number".

Myself, I am over 30, and do not seem to have a problem remembering my phone number, except when filling out forms, then I use the phone number for the local pizza shop. So I was wondering what you thought.

I’m not sure I understand the logic behind using the local pizza parlor’s phone number when filling out forms. Like, would you use the pizza parlor as your emergency medical contact? It could be really unhelpful if you had a heart attack someday. Like:

ER Surgeon: (dialing emergency contact number while sitting on your gurney performing chest compressions)
Pizza Place: “Gino’s, please hold…”
ER Surgeon: (listening to soft rock, still performing chest compressions)
Pizza Place: “Gino’s, how can I help you?”
ER Surgeon: “DOES REGINA ROGERS HAVE ANY FAMILY HISTORY OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE!”
Pizza Place: “Who? What? Is this a delivery?”
ER Surgeon: “MY GOD MAN, SHE’S GOING TO DIE!”
Pizza Place: “OK, we can rush the order. What’s your address?”

Blah, blah, blah aaaaand you’re dead.

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Happy Birthday! How come you didn’t share it with everyone that it was your birthday? Did you get everything you wished for? (I heard there was a sale on unicorns at Kohl’s!)

I don’t like to use my blog as a place of ego stroking and self-aggrandizement. Sure, it was my birthday. But we all have birthdays. Except the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I don’t think they have the internet either. So I figured on my birthday, which was this past Wednesday, November 7th, same day as it is every year, including all the years going forward such as next year, I would just go about business as usual.

There were a few things I really wanted that I didn’t get, like this and these. But Brooke saved the day by giving me something that I have wanted for a really long time. Plus she got me this great watch. So despite the fact that there were no unicorns under my birthday tree (now that’s something I would consider raising in my back yard – I bet when unicorns fight they shoot rainbows at each other!), it was a great day. Thanks for asking.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look for some date rape toys on eBay.

(Think you’ve got what it takes to have a questions? Email me at redactedblog@gmail.com)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Daylight Savings Crime

I came across a random article the other day that linked daylight savings time to a decrease in crime rates. Apparently, since most crimes happen in the dark, when we skip an hour ahead in the Spring (essentially lengthening the day) crime rates drop dramatically.

For some reason though, I couldn’t find any data on rising crime rates when we turn clocks back in the winter. And that got me thinking: Let’s say you want to kill someone. What better time is there to do it than the night we turn the clocks back? Think about it. It’s the perfect crime. You shoot someone at 2:59:59AM and immediately it’s 2:00AM. You go home and you’re in bed by 2:15. YOU’VE KILLED SOMEONE IN THE FUTURE. Plus, when you’re grilled by the DA on cross-examination about where you were at the time of the shooting, you’re not lying when you say you were in bed sleeping.

(I’m sure I’m overlooking something, but it seems pretty foolproof to me. I almost want to kill someone to see if it works.)

Then, early this morning when I woke up to go to the bathroom and couldn’t fall back to sleep, I thought about how it would make a great idea for an episode of “Law & Order.” A man kills his twin brother on the night the clocks are turned back and nearly gets away with it because of the messed up timeline and a lack of motive. But the twist comes when Jack discovers the motive at the last minute: 40 years ago the two brothers were born on the night when the clocks were turned back, so even though the brother who committed the murder was born at 2:59AM, and technically the older brother, his twin was then born at 2:01AM, after the clocks had been turned back, and deemed the oldest. And the oldest brother stood to inherit his father’s multi-million dollar business!*

_________________________
* It seemed like an awesome idea at the time.

Monday, November 5, 2007

An Ode to Dan, and Water-Based Solvent

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Some girls dream of growing up and getting married, white weddings and white fences, three kids and four karats. Not me. I always thought I'd die young in a long, silk nightgown at the Château Marmont with only my loyal agent (a grey-haired man with mafia connections) to mourn my death, since I'd long ago been abandoned by my many lovers and my pet monkey, Sebastian, who could no longer bear to watch me waste my talent in a haze of debilitating, yet glamorous drug addiction.

Well, things don't always work out as you plan.

My agent dropped me after my forgettable turn as Kiki, the Martian secretary. No matter, his style was more Sigma Epsilon that Cosa Nostra, anyway. And slowly my childhood dream of living in a hotel died, too. But still, my nesting gene failed to take hold. Perhaps it was because I hadn't lived in one place longer than a year since I was thirteen. With one exception: I lived in an awesome apartment in LA for 18 months. At the one year mark, I planned to move. When my mom asked why, I responded, "This place is dirty." She said, "Clean it." That was a eureka moment for me. And my carpet. (Ew.) Nevertheless, you can't keep a good woman down, so six months later, I packed up.

Flash forward several years: I don't, as I once dreamed, have oodles of money and no real friends. I am not the maladjusted actress I'd once hoped. Instead I became a maladjusted writer. And then I met Dan. He was smart, and sweet, and funny, and disarmingly attractive. The kind of guy who makes a girl want to stay still. And I knew my dad was right when he said, "Don't fuck this up, Brooke." And I haven't.

So we move in together. Into a real home. Now instead of beer, batteries, and a pack of smokes, my fridge is full of food. Real food. The kind that has to go into an oven. And I find myself having conversations about the merits of the color taupe. And the necessity of pans. (Who knew?) And just as I began to think I'd done it, I'd duped 'ol Dan, pulled the wool over his eyes, I realized the jokes on me: I've been domesticated.

As evidence, a few weeks ago, we went to HOME DEPOT (!!!). Sure, I moped and whined and sat on the floor and refused to buy different doorknobs when the apartment came with perfectly good doorknobs. [Ed. Note: The doorknobs really were fine . . . in 1972.] But eventually, I got on board. Wooed as I was by the many, many colors of paint. And the shiny brass shower rods. But mostly the paint. We were going to paint! Like in a romantic comedy. I already had my painting outfit picked out: overalls (natch), hair in a bandana, and an adorable smudge of paint on my cheek. It was going to be awesome.

And after many backbreaking hours and with much help from our design guru neighbor [Ed note: Shout out to Kim “the Cutter” Upstairs Neighbor, because I don’t know your real last name], we finally finished. The lovely bedroom color is like a sage/moss hybrid if Hazelnut Coffee Mate had been poured in, making it lighter and creamy. (For the men: It's green.) It makes me happy.

The office, on the other hand, didn't go quite as smoothly. We painted it what I thought was a pale yellow. As soon as we finished, I knew I hated it. Dan said it would look different when it dried. But the hideous color taunted me. That night I had a terrible nightmare that I was being chased by angry circus clowns wearing neon yellow tracksuits. (I'd inhaled a lot of paint.) I awoke in a cold sweat and went into the office. Dan was right – it looked different. It was BRIGHT YELLOW. It looked like the Moulin Rouge had thrown up. I couldn't live like that.

Brooke: “Dan, wake up. It's important.”
Dan: (confused) “What's wrong? Are you ok?”
Brooke: “It's making me angry.”
Dan: “Who?”
Brooke: “The yellow. I feel angry. We have to paint tomorrow.”
Dan: “No. Absolutely not.”

So the next day, we painted the office again. This time Algonquin Forest*, a warm, rich brown. It makes me very happy.

And as I look around my new home, with no plans of leaving anytime soon, I realize that maybe it's not so bad being fenced in as long as it's with someone you love – and birth control. Tons of birth control. Cause I'm not going to let some filthy brat mess up our new place.

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* [Ed. Note: While in bed that night, we wondered if we could get jobs naming paints. So we made a list of possible colors. Some of my favorites were Curried Peach Schnapps, Robot Arm, Milkweed, Burnt Face, Light Black, Androgynous Water and Hairy Pony. I could do this for hours.]