Friday, January 23, 2009

Q&A Friday!

Q&A Friday!

A list of things topics that won’t be discussed this edition:

On to the questions.

Dear Dan,

I have recently been struggling with my career choice. I had a great conversation with a person at a bar who said that I basically have 3 choices: Change your attitude, Change the situation, Get out of it.

Is this good advice?

I work from home so I am crazy anyway

Take solace in the knowledge that you’re starting in the right place: the bar. Or as I like to call it “The Place Where Problems Go to Die.”

That being said, I’m not so sure about the company you’re keeping at said bar. Maybe he’s not the sharpest knife in the tool shed, or maybe those delicious chocolate martinis really are made of liquor, but by my count you’ve only got two options: Change your attitude or change your situation. “Getting out of it,” while technically an option, isn’t really an option, though it could be an explanation for why this man has so much free time to give out advice at bars. So yes, this is very bad advice – the guidance equivalent of “shit or get off the pot,” which is not only short-sighted, but gross as well.

Basically, the thing to remember is that it’s never too late to do what you want with your life. Unless you’re 35, in which case it’s definitely too late. The problem is, if you want to change career paths, the initial derivation won’t be easy. There’s pay downgrades, lousy responsibilities, zero respect, and a bevy of women dressed in tight Oxfords who are eager to laugh at the 30-year old receptionist guy. Your job? Forget all that. Go full Zen, and focus on the end goal of recreating yourself into a person you like more, respect more, and who is happier in their skin. But (and this is important) never, ever forget all the hard work, strength, and diligence it took to get you where you wanted to be. That way, when you start to regret your second career choice you’ll have sort of a guidebook for doing it all over again.
Hello Dan,

Love your blog! I will make it short & sweet. I am interested in sponsoring your blog with a link on the sidebar.

Please let me know if you might be interested. If we can come to a fair price, I will pre-pay for 1 year.

Many thanks, cheers!

All the best,
Cassie :)

I got this e-mail many, many months ago during a time when I was very busy and preoccupied. I had recently started experimenting with homemade mojitos. It’s actually a very complex process involving just the right amount of muddling, shaking, squeezing, etc. For weeks and weeks I tried different rums and sugars, tirelessly striving for the perfect cocktail.

Eventually it got to the point where I could consistently crank out a top-notch mojito in no time. I was very proud of myself, and happy that I could now count “makes a great mojito” on my List of Things I Like About Myself and Others Should, Too.

And that, my friends, is why this blog will never have a sponsor.
There’s a woman in my office who sends every single e-mail with one of those red flags because apparently everything she has to say is SO FRIGGIN URGENT. This annoys me to no end. Help?

Boy, she sounds like a real douchebag. You could always try sending all of your e-mails to her with one of the red flags, ones that read like “URGENT – My chopped salad was so good today. Yum!” But then you’re just fighting douche with douche, and they’ll cancel each other out and leave you feeling unfresh all over again.

Instead, here’s what you do. Strike up a conversation with her and steer it towards people who make bad choices. “So my friend got pregnant by her drug dealer,” is a good opener. Then go on to relate this cautionary tale:

There was a girl named Suzie who lived in the woods. And Suzie always sent e-mails using the urgent flag. It made everyone in her office very mad because they would drop everything to respond to her, only to find out that the issue was not in fact pressing, but rather some trivial matter involving reality television or photos from her last vacation. Eventually, everyone became fed up. Then one day Suzie was being raped, and she sent an urgent e-mail for help. But no one responded.
Remember when you wanted to adopt Knut? Well, guess what, your chance has come: Turns out the Zoo spent all the money they made with him (remember when CNN showed up to cover the fantastic news story of a polar bear being born in the Berlin Zoo and then thousands of random polar bear lovers from all over the world showed up in Berlin?) so they can’t afford a bigger place for him and now he has got to be sold.

zoological gossip girl (what?) jule

Though I love the idea of a zoological Gossip Girl (“Hey Upper East Siders. Looks like some chimp’s been passing his banana out to strangers. Who says there’s no pleasure in monkey business?”), I’m afraid my Knut time is past its prime. It’s like when you have a crush on a girl in high school, and then you Facebook her ten years later and she just looks . . . fat different. You just prefer to remember them the way they were.

(Think you’ve got what it takes to have a question? Email me at

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Presidency Off to Hopeful Start, Except for Pheasants
UPDATE – The Pheasants Fight Back!

Of course there’s nothing funny about seizures (except that old joke about having an epileptic make you a glass of chocolate milk), but when I go to Fox News for awful reporting, They never disappoint:

Sens. Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd both were removed from President Obama's celebratory inaugural luncheon on Tuesday -- Kennedy after suffering seizures and Byrd after becoming "emotional."

A Republican House leadership member said Kennedy suffered a series of convulsions that lasted a while. He was taken out on a wheelchair and had to have his legs lifted up to get him out of the room. He was loaded onto an ambulance and removed.

“A while?” “Emotional?” Are these medical terms? As in: “Well ma’am, it doesn’t look good. Your husband was without oxygen for a while. The human brain can’t go a while without oxygen. I see you’re becoming emotional – I’ll prescribe something antibiotics for that.”

I don’t know how those pheasants did it, but they’re managed to kill two birds with one entree.

Touché, pheasant. Touché.

Presidency Off to Hopeful Start, Except for Pheasants

Washington, D.C. – For decades pheasants have literally flown under the radar – a forgotten poultry in a market dominated by chicken, turkey and duck.

All that changed at 2:08 p.m. this afternoon when CNN broke the news that newly elected president Obama, perhaps the most popular president in America’s history, would be dining on pheasant for his inaugural lunch.

“This is exactly what we don’t need right now,” says Bill Plume, president of the National Pheasant Organization. “President Obama is a very influential American figure. We expect pheasant sales to rise by nearly 50 percent in the upcoming weeks.”

Sources say the pheasant would be served with a sour cherry chutney and molasses sweet potatoes. Apple cinnamon sponge cake rounded out the meal.

“Damnit!” Plume responded angrily when told of the menu. “That sounds delicious.”

When informed that the meal was intended to reflect the simple tastes of Abraham Lincoln, one of President Obama’s heroes, Plume simply shook his head.

“How appropriate,” he lamented. “Because this truly is a meal by the birds, of the birds . . . and for the birds.”

Friday, January 16, 2009

My, What a Deep Tan You Have, Ms. Blanchett

Like a old-man baby coming down the birth canal, Paramount is producing a second push for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button involving all new posters.

Everyone knows how much I love this movie, so I think it’s awesome. The only problem will be when the movie starts and everyone gets confused because they thought they were buying tickets to this:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winning Isn’t Everything. (Especially If You’re A Loser.)

It’s no secret that one of my dreams in life is to win the lottery and never work again.

“But what about goals, a career, purpose?!” people say.
“Fie!” I respond.
“What?” they ask.
“Fie! It means ‘That’s nonsense!’ I believe it’s popular amongst the ogre crowd,” I reply.
“Oh,” they say.

There’s some more confusing back and forth, but the sentiment is clear: To me, ambition is like herpes – it’s okay if you have it, but every now and again it’s going to prevent you from doing something really fun.

(Incidentally, I think this is one of the most overlooked benefits of communism. Now, I’m no political scientist – I don’t even know why it’s called a science – but the way I understand it is that you may not be able to get that 50-foot yacht or the heart transplant you were hoping for, but all you have to do is stand in line and they give you all the accoutrements of life like food, water, and a goat. Think of it this way: What you’re losing in iPods, you’re gaining in apathy, which can be very relaxing.)

Ever since I learned about the concept of money (the first time my mom refused to buy me a toy because it was too expensive and I called child services to report her) I knew that I wanted a lot of it, and I wanted it now.

This was around the time I began coercing my mom to play the lotto. I figured it was a no-lose situation: She wasted her money on the tickets, but if she won we all enjoyed the spoils. Little did I realize that my mother was too smart for the lottery scam. Our family’s income went to the important things: clothing, therapists, and any food product bearing the label “NEW.”

Still, undeterred in my quest for unearned money, I discovered the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. I started in the summer of my 12th year, stuck in a weird age where I thought I was too cool to go to camp, but in fact wasn’t cool enough to do anything besides sit at home and watch TV. But then Ed McMahon showed up in my mailbox (not literally) telling me over and over how all I had to do was mail in entry forms and I, too, could win millions of dollars.

It was my first brush with bureaucratic paperwork, and I took to it as though I was executing a very important business deal. When the submission forms came in the mail, I would pour myself a glass of chocolate milk and spread the pages out over the living room coffee table. Then I would go to work deciphering all the documents stuffed in that small envelope. Once I learned that the magazine sales had nothing to do with the sweepstakes (or so my naïve 12-year old mind thought) I would sequester those pages on one side of the table, label them UNNECESSARY, and set to filling out only the pertinent forms.

I still remember receiving the notification that I WAS A WINNER, only to find out that I was merely the winner of having made it to the so-called quarterfinals. For this I was awarded more magazine order forms. Several months and broken dreams later, I gave up on sweepstakes altogether, having my first of many existential crises, concluding that if time is the one thing money can’t buy, then I wasn’t going to waste mine filling out any more forms.

But then, the internet. Like a local dog park, there was free shit around every corner. While I entered most any contest I came across (I’m still waiting on that free second-generation iPod), the contest that came to be my Moby Dick was the HGTV Dream House sweepstakes.

What more could you want out of life? Here was an opportunity to not only have a brand-new house handed to you (without going through the hassle of losing your family in a tragic wildfire like on Extreme Makeover), but also to start a new life in some quaint fishing village or rustic mountain community. Islamorada, FL (2008). Winter Park, CO (2007). And my personal favorite, St. Mary’s, GA (2004). Did you know there were islands off the coast of Georgia? Did you even know that you can live in Georgia? Well you can, and it’s beautiful.

After finding out I didn’t win the St. Mary’s home, I did some poking around and found out that the winner of that house (Kathi Nakao from Sacramento) never moved after securing her prize. Apparently, Sacramento is the cultural, financial, and intellectual hub of the modern world – a place where children grow up to be astronauts and the elderly die peacefully in their sleep while dreaming of fields of golden heather, because instead of inhabiting the 3,000sf riverfront home, she sold it and put the money towards renovating her own home.

Well pardon my southern accent, but fuck you, Kathi. (And nice name while we’re at it.) The contest isn’t called the HGTV Dream Liquid Asset Sweepstakes. I, for one, would never look a dream house in the mouth like that. Besides, not relocating is an affront to everything the contest stands for. The towns these homes are built in were chosen carefully, with the idea in mind that everyone needs to chill the fuck out a bit. These are places noted for beauty, serenity, and the fact that no one there knows that you once urinated on an ex-girlfriend’s dorm room door on a drunken dare (made to yourself).

Of course I gathered myself up and persevered, entering and losing for the next four years. And now the 2009 sweepstakes has begun. This year’s home is in Sonoma. (“Hello, Fate? This is Dan and I love wine.”) I’ve bookmarked the entry form and visit it once a day to make my submission. My expectations are in check: Hundreds of millions of entries are received, and people under the age of 50 never win these sorts of contests anyway. Yet I dream of a day when I can wake up every morning, go outside to get the paper and smell the sweet scent of wine in the morning and appreciate the fact that it’s coming not from my breath, but from those rolling hills over there . . .

Until then, I will have to be happy with the spoils I’ve won thus far. And though they may total one, and in the cash equivalency department fall about $999,850.00 short of the Publisher’s Clearing House bounty, the winnings have been plentiful:

That’s right, bitches. You’re looking at the second place winner of the Oren's Daily Roast Proof of a Superior Bean Sweepstakes. A three-month supply of gourmet coffee. You know what Kathi Nakao drinks? Folgers. What a loser.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ripped From the Headlines

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it’s every boy’s dream to one day end up in the society pages. To be included with those regal personages oozing glitz and glamour, to be privy, nay included in a world most rarely see let alone travel. A culture above such pedantic creations like paninis and the Oxygen network, where barons and celebrities co-mingle, raising funds for children and other ailments of society, or just blowing off steam after a hard day of sailing. These are the important people, the beautiful people, all festooned with baubles and smelling of brandy and expensive woods. You think, “If only some day I could have this sort of impact on the world. To have the money, the power, the influence to affect change – to be noticed and truly appreciated. Yes, if my moment ever arrives, I will be ready. I will embrace it, and I will let the world know that I, Daniel Murphy, grew up to be somebody.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Curious Case of My Disappearing $19

SPOILER ALERT! If you don’t want to know how Brad Pitt’s movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ends, don’t read any further. However it must be mentioned that if you can’t figure out how a movie about a man aging in reverse ends, your powers of deduction are woefully limited and you should see someone about that, like your mom or your third grade school teacher because you should get your tax dollars back.

Let me start by saying that I don’t mean to be a trendsetter (although I do take credit for the popularity of the “high and tight” haircut in my elementary school), so my point here isn’t to prevent you from seeing the movie. I’m just saying after you do see it don’t come back to me saying, “YOU FILTHY SON OF A BITCH. That’s three hours of my life I’ll never have back. NEVERRRR!” Okay?

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before Brooke doesn’t like to know what movies are about before seeing them. Going off only the title (and the fact that the movie was released just in time for the holidays) she assumed the film was about a young British boy who loses his favourite teddy bear and must search for clues to his disappearance in order to find him.

In hindsight, this would have been an infinitely better movie. Teddy bears? Cute. Boy detectives? Goldmine. British people? Clever.

But no. Instead the producers decided to go with an awkward love story about a man who ages backwards, a woman who ages forwards, and a bunch of people who don’t see very much wrong with this situation. What could go wrong!?

Umm . . .

Problem #1: When I finally told Brooke the premise so she wouldn’t bug me throughout the entire movie asking where the teddy bear was, she seemed incredulous.

Brooke: “But how is he born? Like, does he come out a full-sized old man?”
Me: “I’m sure they won’t actually show him being born. They’ll just start the movie and he’ll kind of already be there.”
Brooke: “Yeah, it’d be ridiculous to do it any other way.”
Me: “Totally.”


Act 1, Scene 1 – The baby is born an old man. Like out of a vagina. A wrinkled old-man baby that looks like a cross between George Burns and a shaved Pug. Not cool, Brad Pitt. Not cool.

Problem #2: Unless you’re making niche porn (preferably Japanese) it’s never really okay to hint at a sexual relationship between an elderly man and a pre-teen. Even if what you’re trying to suggest is that the eternal bonds of love defy age and circumstance, what you’re really doing is making everyone uncomfortable. By the time they’ve reversed rolls and the elderly woman is making out with an infant, I was practically in tears, albeit tears of shame because it was actually kind of hot.

Problem #3: You could spend the entire movie trying to do the math on how old Brad Pitt is supposed to be and never come to a definitive conclusion. I know this for a fact because it’s exactly what I did. More than once I completely zoned out trying to gauge Pitt’s age by the severity of his wrinkles, and then do some reverse math to calculate Cate Blanchett’s age.

The furthest I got in my calculations was figuring out that Brad Pitt looked way too fucking old. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story on which the movie is based is supposed to take place between 1860 and 1910. That’s 50 years. This movie starts in 1921 (liars) and supposedly goes into the 70’s. Now I get that Pitt’s character doesn’t have the benefit of modern cosmetics like under eye cream, but no one looks that old at 50. I mean, that’s like ancient Mayan 50.

(On the right)

Problem #4:

Making movies where actors look different than themselves is stupid. (Oh no! I hurt the make-up artist feelings!) Seriously though, I’m not a gay man but that doesn’t change the fact that Brad Pitt is fucking HAND-SOME and the most interesting part of the movie is when Brad Pitt looks like Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett looks like a hotter version of Cate Blanchett. (There’s a bone, make-up artists.)

What they should have done is filmed the movie over the 80-year span of Brad Pitt’s life so it was always Brad Pitt. Baby Brad Pitt, teenage Brad Pitt, studly 20-something Brad Pitt, elderly Brad Pitt – you get the idea. And that idea is that I am a genius before my time.

Problem #5: Seriously, no on thinks it’s strange that he’s aging in reverse? Scientists? Oprah? No one? I know you’re supposed to suspend reality for these things, but there’s only so far you can go with it. Like, I couldn’t make a movie called Poopman (about a man covered in poop) and not have at least one or two characters comment on how awful he smells. It just can’t happen.

All in all, the best part of the movie was when the ticket clerk charged me only $19 for two tickets – a student rate! It looks like that under eye cream is really paying off.