Thursday, January 31, 2008

Like Kate, I Know A Thing Or Two About Delayed Gratification

In what may turn out to be the saddest turn of events since my mom “tried something different” with a carrot cake for my 8th birthday, I am not going to be home to watch the two-hour season premier of “Lost” tonight.

This means a few things, mainly that everyone I know must avoid all contact with me until I do watch it. Note that I’m not just saying “Don’t talk to me about ‘Lost’.” I’m saying “Avoid me altogether.” I can’t risk that you’ll let something slip, that we’ll be having a nice, non-topical conversation about your favorite Starbucks barista and it’ll slip how she looks just like Evangeline Lily and how CAN YOU BELIEVE SHE FUCKING DIED ON THE SEASON PREMIER. Granted I know that’s not going to happen: If she died the show would be pointless, and if Starbucks baristas looked like her I’d be so jacked up on caffeine I wouldn’t be able to type this.

Still, I can’t risk it. I’ll be able to see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice and read it in between your lines. Granted, it’ll be a bit awkward at first to associate with my co-workers, eyes averted, walking quickly past them in the halls, covering my ears and humming a tune to myself when they speak to me like Brooke once did during a movie preview for a book which she was halfway through reading at the time, sending out emails and filtering all replies directly into my trash. But, sweet Lord, it will be worth every ounce when tomorrow night I can sit in front of my TV and watch two hours of brand new fantastic TV.

In the meantime, let’s talk about something entirely different to distract ourselves:

This guy is a really great drawer!

Seriously, if he was my dad I would stand him in front of a dry-erase board and make him doodle all day. And not just like if I was a kid growing up, I mean like now. Like over the holidays I’d be all, “OK, now make the plane into a giant oak tree! With a dog! Now add a sunset! Make it in outer space!” Eventually I’d be like, “Give her boobs! No, naked ones! Bigger nipples!” and it would get weird. But all father-son relationships are.

(Ed. Note: UPS guy is also kind of an awesome enforcer. I had him deliver this message to everyone I know. I’d listen to him. Something tell me he’s a bit crazy.)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Looking Over The Photos Of The “Updated” Miss America Pageant

Brooke: "Oh, look how updated they are! So modern, in their Talberts jeans! I mean, I used to love the Miss America pageant when I was little. This is what it’s come to?"

Me: "Wait, did you just call it Talberts?"

Brooke: "Yeah. Talberts. Where poor people shop."

Dan: "You mean Talbots?"

Brooke: "Whatever. I'm Jewish."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Some Ultra-Professional Ideas For My Totally Unnecessary Business Cards

The reason I haven’t posted so much lately is that I’ve been so busy with a business I started selling homemade jellies and jams.

OK, I just wanted to see how that would look in print, though the real reason is just as arbitrary, and just as delicious. Thanks to a serendipitous run-in with an old college professor I am now an assistant editor working on Food & Wine’s 2009 Wine Guide.

I won’t lie, my initial reaction when I was first proposed the job was, “But it’s barely even 2008 . . .” But once they explained all the complexities to me, I decided I was the right man for the job. Or even if I wasn’t, I would pretend I was. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you almost get picked up during your job interview. You can’t buy that kind of cross-over appeal.)

Basically, the writer of the book, my old college professor, came to me and said, “I’m looking for someone who will do a lot of work and is willing to be paid in wine.” I tried to play it cool as I ran the notion through my head several times trying to decipher it. It seemed as though when he said it that he was trying to sell me on an unpopular idea. I’m worried I’m being tricked here, so I try to imagine why someone wouldn’t want to be paid in wine. Wine is alcoholic, right? The delicious stuff that comes in dark and light, right? Is this a trick? Is wine really not delicious and I’ve been fooled by trade magazines and over-aggressive French waiters my entire life?

But before I could resolve any of this, I said I’d do it.

Now, after weeks of writing and asking myself new and uncharted questions like, “Is citrusy a word?” today I finally have my first official wine tasting. It’s at this hotel called the Waldorf Astoria – you may have heard of it if you ever wore an ascot or date-raped a sorority girl and got away with it. It’s a big affair where we’ll be tasting hundreds (not sure if that’s true) of wines from France’s Bordeaux region. I’ll be meeting a lot of important people involved with the publication of the book, meaning that there are two important things to remember:

1. The “x” is silent; and
2. Business cards.

Why people still use business cards, I’ll never know. We have effectively replaced MAIL and CHECKS and TAKING A GIRL TO DINNER BEFORE SEEING HALF-NAKED PICTURES OF HER, but we still hand each other little cardboard squares with our names printed on them? Where is the technology to just point our cell phones at each other and shoot the information wirelessly? Regardless, I don’t have business cards. And unless I want to be writing my phone number on the palms of lots of smartly dressed people, I figured I should get some.

The problem was, I had no idea what to put on the card. Besides having no classy ring to it, “Daniel Murphy – Paralegal” just seems kind of inapplicable. And sad. Like you might hand someone the card and they would look back up at you like, “Alright, cool. If I ever need a” (looks back down at the card) “paralegal, I’ll be sure to give you a call.”

So then what? I actually wrote and email to the writer of the book (my defacto boss) and asked him for his advice. He confirmed my fears:

“Writer sounds pretentious, journalist too gritty, sommelier laughable, and renaissance man preposterous. So, just use your name, address, email, cell and website.”

Still, I wasn’t comfortable with a business card that just said “Daniel Murphy.” As though I was some kind of brand. Since when did I deserve to be on a card, handed out to other people? “Hi, I’m Daniel Murphy. I’m a commodity. Here’s my card. It has my name on it.” My biggest fear is that people will stick my card in their jacket pocket only to find it five months later at some anniversary dinner party all covered in lint. They’ll pull it out of their pocket and think, “Who is Daniel Murphy?” People will randomly call me saying they found my card in their pocket. “Were you the plumber I used for that leaky drain pipe?” I guess at worst I can pick up some odd jobs to supplement my income of rare and expensive wine.

Brooke, ever the supportive girlfriend, wasn’t satisfied with the situation. In an attempt to allay my insecurities and fears of having my name run solo on the cards, she came up with a list of possibilities. They are:









In the end, I sucked it up and just used my name. While I’m sure it would stimulate much more conversation to tell people about my future career as a riverboat captain (“I plan on throwing people overboard if they get rowdy or play with the life preservers”), I’m sure I’ll have enough to worry about just remembering to drop the “x.”

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hanging In There

Things around here have been a bit unbearable lately. (GET IT?) Seriously though, have you ever killed someone and then gone crazy trying to cover up your tracks? Well if you have you know how much stress I’m under right now. I’ve been incredibly busy. [redacted] has suffered, and as sure as a jury of mildly competent men and women won’t convict with tainted DNA evidence, it will continue to suffer some more. But I promise, it is only for a limited time. And then [redacted] is going to take off like a Tom Cruise rocket ship running on crazy fumes. Just be patient. I beg you.

In the meantime, here’s some video filler.

Haha. Scientific data, philosophy, cooking tips and gossip. Suuuuure. That’s what I call OLD NEWS.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It’s All The Patriot Act’s Fault

Despite the irony of me writing this in my blog, I’m actually a very private person. It’s not that I keep secrets, it’s just that I prefer to keep things to myself. I think it all started back in 7th grade when I asked a friend for advice. It was about how to get a girl to like me, and he suggested I make her a mix tape. So I did, and I put a lot of thought into it. The girl was kind of eclectic and I knew she liked Jurassic Park, Elvis and Madonna. I had also once heard her say that she liked classical music. So I ended up making her a mix tape including “You Were Always On My Mind,” the theme song to Jurassic Park, Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and “Material Girl.” It didn’t go over well. I gave it to her on the school bus one morning and I watched her listen to it. Every so often her face would curl up in a confused wince, presumably when a new song (like The Beach Boys, another one of her favorites) came on. We didn’t talk much that year, and last I heard she married someone much older, presumably someone with more experience making mix tapes.

Ever since then, I’ve remained an introvert. Sure, I’ll share bathroom stories on my blog for the world to read, but most of the time I’m just hiding my fear and disillusionment behind measured words and punch lines. In short: I’ll invite you into my stories about the bathroom, but I won’t invite you into the bathroom itself.

This morning, though, my privacy was attacked. I was having some trouble sending emails, and my office’s tech support got me on the phone with Verizon customer service. I was speaking with a nice woman with a friendly accent who ran me through all the usual drills to locate the problem. No luck. Finally, she asks me if it would be alright for her to “access my computer.”

I have no idea what this means. In my small mind, I assume this is some sort of terminology that is lost in translation – like she was asking to look at my account history or do a credit check or something. All I know is that I can’t send email and I have a really funny response to an email from my friend that has to get out ASAP.

She has me go to a website and type some stuff in. Then all this stuff pops up on the screen, some “agreement” that I’m supposed to read, and I just click OK. Suddenly, my cursor is moving across the screen on its own. My ethnocentrism has come around to bite me in the ass – “access my computer” means exactly that. This woman with the friendly accent is IN MY COMPUTER WHILE I AM SPEAKING TO HER. (caps + bold = holy shit.)

My initial reaction is a composed panic. On the outside I am saying, “Oh, look at that! You can move around in my computer from wherever you are!” In my head I am saying, “HOLY SHIT, YOU CAN MOVE AROUND IN MY COMPUTER FROM WHEREVER YOU ARE.” I am immediately aware of everything incriminating on my computer. Granted it is my work computer, so it’s not like my wallpaper is a Lindsey Lohan crotch shot or anything. But take a closer look around and you will find the incriminating evidence. It’s like inviting a stranger into your house – maybe you didn’t leave the sex lube out on the night stand but you definitely forgot to pick up your underwear off the bathroom floor.

The woman begins clicking around on the computer with the blasé attitude of a psychiatrist who has been there, seen that. Across the bottom of my screen I have several programs running, including a web browser opened to a webpage of Japanese bug fight videos (don’t ask). Of course, she accidentally clicks on this and bring it up on the screen. I immediately scroll over to minimize it, but she moves to do the same on her end. The curser is flying across the screen, and I am making embarrassed noises like, “Whoops, haha, just, you know, videos.” The woman finally closes the window and apologizes, saying that she is having trouble seeing my screen on her end (likely because I use a very large screen at work and the resolution is so high, meaning everything is tiny on her screen). Next, she pulls up my Outlook.

I begin to sweat. It’s like she’s a police detective who casually came over for some coffee; meanwhile I’ve got dead bodies under the floorboards. The email that happens to be up in the preview screen is from, who else, Puppy.

A while back, Brooke and I created and email address for Puppy. Mainly it was to set up a new FreshDirect account so we could use a “first time customer” coupon. But then one day I was logged on Gmail as Puppy and noticed that Brook was logged on too, so I Gchat’d her, “Woof. When are you coming home? I’m hungry.” It became a source of amusement, and from time to time we send emails from Puppy to random people. This particular email was from Puppy to our neighbor asking them if they wouldn’t mind walking him after work tonight while Brooke and I were out. It read:

Hello Tracey.


My Mommy and Daddy are alcoholics. (Sad.) All they want to do is go out after work and drink. Tonight they're at it again. Can you let me out back when you get home from work so I don't have to wait until they come home stinking of sake? If not, no worries. I was thinking of peeing on the rug. (Don't tell.)


Tell Cassidy I said woof.

xo, Pupster

So this is up on the screen and this woman with the friendly accent is trying to click on menus up top but constantly missing. Finally, she decides she needs to open a new web browser page and goes back to the Japanese bug fighting video. While this is on the screen, she moves up to the address bar and instead of typing the address in, goes to the drop down menu of recently viewed sites (because she had asked me to type in the site previous to her hijacking of my computer). But of course, she can’t see for shit so she clicks on the first link even though it’s not the one she wants. What pops up on the screen but the celebrity blog WWTDD, with this picture:

Britney

Awesome. At this point, I just throw my hands up in the air like, “Hey, want to hear about when I lost my virginity?”

Back to the email from Puppy she goes and I’m kind of just chuckling at this point. I don’t know who’s regretting their decision more right now, me for letting her access my computer or her for accessing it. And even though the pangs of discomfort were many and harsh, by the end of the phone call, as the woman with the friendly accent finished fixing my computer, I was nearly at ease with her poking around in my life. I almost wanted to show her the response I got to Puppy’s email or who won the bug fight, the Scorpion or the Rhinoceros Beetle.

As I thanked her and hung up the phone, I immediately learned the flip danger of letting people in – once they’re there, you might not want them to leave.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Five Minutes In The Boardroom With The Producers Of Live Free Or Die Hard

[Director shows clip]

Director: “So, what do you think? Pretty cool, huh? Never seen THAT before in an action movie.”
Producer: “That’s great Len. Really, very exciting stuff. But it was kind of like, you know, it was over too quickly. I think I only counted what, one big boom?” [Motioning to assistant producer] “Am I right?”
Assistant Producer: “That’s correct – just the one.”
Producer: “I think we need something with more big booms. Don’t get me wrong; this is good. We should keep this. But let’s really focus on adding big booms in the next one.”
Director: “But a car . . . took out a helicopter. How much bigger can you get?”
Producer: “Oh, I don’t know. That’s not my job. But off the top of my head, I think of trains. Trains are sometimes hundreds of cars long. Oh, and dinosaurs! Can we have a train fight a dinosaur?”
Assistant Producer: “Dinosaurs don’t exist, sir.”
Producer: “Right . . . Well, I’m sure you’ll come up with something.”

_______________________________________

[Director turns on lights in boardroom]

Producer: “Now that’s what I’m talking about! I counted at least three, four, FIVE big booms even!”
Assistant Producer: “Six actually, sir.”
Producer: “Six! This is perfect!”
Director: “This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever filmed.”
Producer: [not listening] “Just curious, were you able to find out any more about those dinosaurs?”

Friday, January 4, 2008

Q&A Friday!

Have you heard about this window-washer who fell 47 FEAKING STORIES OFF THE SIDE OF A BUILDING (click picture for actual size of building) . . . and lived? I know there’s that video of the sky diver plummeting to the earth from God knows that attitude and actually surviving, but for some reason in Manhattan things are more real. The concrete is harder, just like the people. (You can quote me on that, New York Magazine.)

I can’t even imagine what must have been going through that guy’s head. My guess is it was something along the lines of, “All this, just to clean a window.” Or, if he had a sense of humor, maybe, “I told them I didn’t do windows!” In any event, that is, without a doubt, one of the most miraculous things I’ve ever heard. Clearly 2008 isn’t this guy’s year, but the fact alone that he’ll see 2009 should give all of us pause while we give thanks for the fact that we don’t wash windows for a living.

On to the questions.

Hey Dan,

I enjoyed reading your time-related idea for a Law and Order episode and it made me think about starting a time traveling business. I've thought about installing a flux capacitor into my girlfriend's car but I'm not sure a Honda Accord would be as quantum physics-appropriate as a De Lorean. I have also considered using a Voyagers! omni but those things aren't very reliable, and a Bill and Ted's-type phone booth would prove too claustrophobic.

I suppose I could hit clients over the head and hope they are inexplicably transported through time, or wait for some Christmas ghosts to take them to the past, present, and future, but I don't deem those as very profitable methods of time travel. What do you think?

Thanks,
Arjewtino

I think time travel is (wait for it) outdated. I set my Tivo to record every single episode of the New Years Eve Twilight Zone Marathon, and you know what I realized once I started watching them back to back? An astounding number of them are about time travel. I really believe that in 1960 people thought that time travel was going to be possible at some point in the not-so-distant future..

This proves two things: People in 1960 were stupid, and time travel is a thing of the past. I’m not saying we should abandon all scientific discovery that doesn’t come to fruition right away. After all, I recently read an amazing article about how scientists believe they will be able to reverse the physical signs of aging (without creams or penis pumps or anything) within the next 20 years. Which means that if you are 25 now, in 20 years you will be able to exist as the 25 year old you in the year 2028. THERE’S your modern day time traveling.

I also think that ghosts are scary!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Dan,

I think I'm in love with my best friend. This is the first time I've been in love with a guy. What do I do?

-Dazed and confused.

I’ve never been in love with a guy except for Alex P. Keaton, so I know very little about the real-world romance of a Y chromosome. But all gender bending aside, I did once fall in love with my best friend. She was a girl, and I was a boy, and times were simpler. We would sit in the closet with a flashlight and make shadow puppets together. One day she asked me to take my shirt off. I did, but I felt a horrible, burning shame afterwards. Having up until this point garnered most of my knowledge about sex from “Married With Children,” I assumed that taking off your shirt with a woman was how you had sex. Wrangled with guilt, I agonized over whether or not I had to marry her now. I was seven years old, and my future was flashing before my eyes.

A few months later, she moved away. We never really kept in touch, although I did see her once or twice years later when I was well into my hyper-sexualized though physically awkward teenage years. And when our eyes met, neither of us looked away. We knew there was nothing to be ashamed of. It was only shadow puppets.

I hope that helps.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I must know, what kind of dog is [Puppy]? I'm assuming it's something mixed with a shihtzu?

“What kind of dog is Puppy?” It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times before. He’s the kind of dog that will stand by your side through thick and thin, unless he gets distracted by something jingly or some food or a fanciful whim. If he were a human he would have a dirty British accent, but know impressionist art. He would wear a bowler hat and play rugby. He would recite bawdy poetry when he was drunk. He’s the kind of dog that looks at you when he pees, half filled with pride, half filled with uncertainty that he’s doing it right. He has no interest in sex: He’ll neither kiss your face nor hump your leg. He hates bathes but loves long walks. He is the kind of dog that could wield a gun with deadly accuracy yet loathe the gun for its place in the world. He is the kind of dog that shits happiness everywhere he goes.

In short, he is the kind of dog that would balk at being classified. Sure, technically he is of the Shitzu breed. But as he’ll tell you, if he could, that a breed is just another way of losing yourself to the masses. Puppy is what he is.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

My New Year’s Resolution

After midnight on New Years Eve, just as I was done kissing Brooke (score), a series of loud bangs echoed from somewhere outside. Brooke and I and the friends we were with went into the backyard and couldn’t see any fireworks, which led me to believe that it had to be gunshots. Which is cool, I thought, because even the gang bangers are excited for ’08. Then I thought, Maybe it’s some form of resolution. Maybe they are using up all their bullets in a concerted effort to stop killing so many people in the upcoming year. And my heart went kind of melty like it does whenever I watch Dangerous Minds.

We all went back inside and people started talking about their New Year’s resolution. Personally, I think resolutions are pointless. First of all, why just on New Years? If the poster of Jesus that hung in my sixth grade classroom is right, then ever day is an opportunity to be a better person. So that means I’ve wasted somewhere north of 6,935 opportunities so far. (It was all down hill after I purposely threw the softball at Jason Rosado’s head in my fifth grade gym class because he got to play shortstop instead of me.) I’m not saying that the new year doesn’t present itself as a metaphysical “clean slate.” I think it does. I just don’t think we should go fucking up that clean slate so quickly. Why not give it a few months where you can enjoy being only nominally better than you were last year before setting ridiculously high standards like, “I’ll refrain from kicking kids who aren’t looking where they’re going on busy sidewalks”?

But then, while I was sitting at my desk today updating my “how we met” statuses on Facebook, it hit me. I know how I can make a positive difference in the world without over-exerting myself. I’ve decided on my New Years resolution: Once a week, I will answer a “Missed Connection” add on Craigslist. What I’ll do is, I’ll pretend to be the person they are looking for, e.g. “the girl in the green jacket on the L train with the nice eyes and auburn hair I wanted to run my toes through all night long.” Then I will respond to the post and let them down gently. Something like, “I have been searching for you too! Unfortunately, I am leaving tonight for upstate New York to begin my training to become a Catholic priest. But if I didn’t love God’s kisses so much, I would surely have adored yours!”

Here is why it’s nice – because the chance that this person will find the ACTUAL person they are looking for is so miniscule that there’s no harm in stepping in. Plus, the chance that that actual person isn’t TOTALLY FUCKING INSANE is slim as well. The bottom line is, if it were me I would rather erroneously think that the person I am searching for is prevented from being with me by the dint of some misfortunate cosmic circumstance than to think that they aren’t with me because they don’t meet guys through online message boards.

Below is the post from first person I have decided to help and my response. I feel better about myself already.

missedconnection1

Dear Webster Hall chick,

Holy shit, yo, I can’t believe you remember me! That night was ill crazy. You were all up in my business and I was like, “Yo, this girl is tight!”

I’m sorry I didn’t get your digits or I would be calling you now, but I guess this will have to do. So check it, you remember my lazy eye? Yeah, that shit’s been droopin from day one. Can’t even see out that thing. (I wasn’t ignoring you when you were dancing to the left of me – I just didn’t see you!) Tomorrow, I’m heading over to the West coast where they got some new kinda treatment where they can fix me up all dope, you know? It’s my dream to be a fighter pilot, and unless this treatment works I’ll never make it! Life’s like a dog fight, yo, and I gotta be scratching and clawing if I don’t want to lose.

Maybe if I wasn’t gettin this surgery, we would be like soulm8’s 4eva or something. But you know, I gotta do what I gotta do. I can’t be chillin wit 1 eye for my whole life. I gotta see what life’s throwing at me, and not just from the right side. I hope you understand. You sure are one fly girl. Maybe I’ll run into you at Webster Hall.

Peace,
Rodney