Saturday, November 22, 2003
Dammit, Stop Licking That -- I'm Getting Creeped Out!
Well, this whole door thing has just gotten ridiculous.
If you were paying close attention, then you noticed in my Friday post that I broke my front door key off in the lock on Friday evening. And you'll also know that I complicated matters by taking the lock apart, trying -- and failing -- to get the key out, and then screwing the lock back into the door.
Where it stuck. And I couldn't get it back out to replace it.
So I jammed a screwdriver in the lock, and used it to twist it off. Well... partway off, at least, where it stuck again. Except now, the outside of hte lock was all screwed up and stripped where the screwdriver had slipped. Nice.
Finally, I got the bright idea to try some WD-40 to loosen the thing up. Fine. Only we don't have any WD-40, so I did the next best thing. Or what I thought was the next best thing. Look, how the hell was I supposed to know that you can't substitute olive oil for WD-40? I've tasted plenty of Italian dishes where it seems the chef did the same thing in reverse. I thought it would work.
But no. All I got was a slippery doorknob and a dog that wanted to lick it. (You know, sometimes I find myself writing the strangest sentences when I'm talking to you people. That one sounds like something out of 'Penthouse Pooches'. Eek.)
Anyway, I went through all the lubricants I could find -- baby oil, Crisco, toothpaste, peanut butter... okay, yeah, by the end, I was stretching it a little, all right? But some combination of the stuff must have worked, because I finally was able to shimmy the lock cylinder out of the door.
Now we had a door with no knobs, no lock, and no way to get it open if it closed. So what did we do? We pulled the door nearly-but-not-quite shut, and took the bits and pieces of our lock to a hardware store, and asked for help. They found us a substitute cylinder, complete with keys, and we came back home. We opened the screen door... and the inrush of air pulled the front door, and it shut, with us still on the other side. Bitches! Screwed again!
So, we trundled around the back, let ourselves in, and went to work on the door. Me on the outside, my wife on the inside. We opened a window, so we could pass tools and doorknobs and advice back and forth, and got started. After ten minutes or so, we got the doorknobs hooked up, and got the damned door open. Which was good, because I'm not sure she'd have let me back in the house otherwise.
After that, the work moved quickly -- I screwed the faceplates back on, tightened the knobs, and installed the lock cylinder.
See, I screwed the cylinder in -- with plenty of WD-40 help this time -- as best I could. But it's still sticking out of the door by about an eighth of an inch. Which means that the little locking doohickey on the back doesn't reach the mechanism inside the door. Which further means that it's a useless piece of crap that you can turn a key in -- for fun, if you're amused by such things -- but which will not, under any circumstances, actually lock or unlock the damned door.
So, finally, after a full day of farting around with the stupid thing, we called a professional locksmith. He said he'll get back to us. That was early this afternoon. Apparently, he meant 'I'll get back to you ever', not 'I'll get back to you today'. Again I say, 'Bitches!'
And here we are, with a door that still doesn't work, a lock that won't install, and no prospect of any help for the rest of the weekend. It's a damned good thing our house is on a hill -- otherwise, we might as well just put out a 'Come and Steal Our Shit!' sign on the front porch. As it is, it's damned inconvenient. I'm not happy about this, to say the least.
I'm not sure there's anything left to do but wait. My wife says I've done 'enough damage' already. Still, I think I might take one more shot at getting that new lock in there. Since we don't want to ruin this one, I suppose I should eschew the use of a screwdriver, or hammer, or plastic explosives to get the thing moving. That means I'm back to the lubricants. I just hope I can remember where we put that can of WD-40 -- the last thing I need is to have the dog licking olive oil off my doorknob again.
Um... yeah. I think I'll just quit while I'm behind. No good can come from that.
You'll Take This Crappy Thing, and You'll Like It
I'm always a bit uncomfortable about those commercials that offer you something that 'you deserve'. You know the ones:
'Get the extra money you deserve'
'Are you getting the essential vitamins and minerals you deserve?'
'Thinking about ordering the mail-order bride that you so richly deserve?'
The question I'm always left with is: how do they know? How exactly do they determine how much cash, or nutritional attention, or which rent-a-wife I warrant? I'm just a bit wary of any method that they'd use to make these sort of value judgements about me.
Of course, I'm a thousand times more worried about what the results would be. You people know me by now -- I'm pretty damned sure I'm not gonna be at the top of the 'deserving' scale. Somehow I don't see anyone doing an assessment -- jamming a probe in me, or whatever the hell they do -- and reading the Deserv-O-Meter and saying,
'Well, yes... this is a bit odd. I've never seen a reading so high. I'll have my assistants prepare your gold bullion bath, and the blowjobs will commence as soon as you're ready. All hail our new king!'
Yeah, that's just not in my future. Actually, I'm afraid that things would careen in the other direction, and the bastards would say that I have more money than I deserve, and try to collect the shit from me. And dammit, I don't care if they've got the fuckin' pope in the other room, waiting for all the good shit he deserves -- they're not getting it from me. (Well, okay, they can try taking the blowjobs I've had back. I'm not sure exactly how that would work, and I'm a little curious. I'm just saying.)
Anyway, it probably doesn't work like that. I bet those advertising bastards are just lying to us. (Yeah, that'd be a friggin' first, wouldn't it?) But I think they just tell us that we'll get what we deserve, and then they just give the same old shit to everybody. They probably don't even try to figure out what we deserve -- how fucked up is that? It's one size fits all -- that's not cool. How does that work?
'Get the lawn flamingoes you deserve. You, sir -- you're a school teacher? Great -- have a flamingo, only one ninety-nine. How about you, ma'am? Oh, you're a nurse; well, here's your flamingo. That'll be a buck ninety-nine. And you -- yeah, you with the chainsaw, slicing off the nurse's arm, and beating the teacher over the head with it -- you wanna flamingo, too? For you, just a dollar ninety-nine. Cheap, cheap, cheap!'
So, I don't know. I just steer clear of the whole frigging mess. Anytime someone offers me something I 'deserve', I tell them to go fly a kite. (Well, unless they're telling me I deserve 'a knuckle sandwich', or to be 'put out of my misery'. Then, I just run. You never know who's gonna whip out a chainsaw and go postal on your ass.)
I suppose I might be missing out on some good stuff, but it's just too much bother. Am I worth it, am I not -- do I deserve it, or don't I? Forget it -- I'll just stick with the crap that gets doled out to everyone, regardless of merit. Hey, speaking of which, maybe I'll go pick up one of those lawn flamingoes I'm always seeing. I hear those things are cheap... and they'll sell 'em to anyone. Score!
Friday, November 21, 2003
The Good, the Bad, and the 'What the Hell Are You Doing, Dude?!'
Have you ever done something, and then wondered exactly where you stood, and looked up, and realized you were still on the good side of 'the line'? I mean really stood back and taken stock, and decided that you were in the right, that you'd done nothing questionable, and that you could sleep with a clear conscience? Maybe you had a little doubt -- maybe you crept near the line -- but you were undoubtedly on solid ground? Ever had a moment like that?
And more importantly, what did you do then? Did you stop there, secure in your decision? Or did you go just a little bit further, pushing the envelope until you looked up again and realized to your horror that 'the line' was then behind you? That you'd crossed over to the dark side, gone too far, and done one of those things that 'people just don't do'?
And, again, what came next? Did you decide to cut your losses at that point, ashamed and chagrined? Did you learn your lesson, or did you go still further? Once over the line, did you throw caution to the wind and see just how heinous you could be? Once you've shocked and disgusted those around you, why stop there, right?
Right. At least, that's how it seems to go for me. At some level, I'm dimly aware that I'm out of line, and should put on the brakes... but the rest of me is plugging away, full steam ahead. Sometimes, I just don't seem to be able to stop myself.
And so, for your perverted amusement, I offer up these examples of a few of my Good, my Bad, and my 'Dude, what the fuck?' moments. See for yourself how I get near hot water, and then in hot water, and finally just cook myself altogether. It's not pretty, folks. Strap in; here we go.
Good: Driving to work on Thursday, I smiled as I passed a 'mammogram van'.
Bad: I couldn't help giggling as I thought that it would be better called a 'booby bus'.
Dude, WTF?: I nearly hit a lamppost as I considered whether I could get away with driving a 'mammo-gropy van', and telling the women who came in, 'Hey, it's not my fault; you should have read the sign more carefully.'
Good: I have been known, on occasion, to watch an episode of the Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network.
Bad: I sometimes quote lines from the show at inappropriate times, notably crying out, 'You big fat poopy doo-doo-head! during a meeting at work last week.
Dude, WTF?: I have, on the weekends, taken to dressing like one of the girls myself. Bubbles is my favorite, of course, but I look sooo much better in green, so I usually go the Buttercup route. Whoosh!
Good: After dinner, I sometimes have a dessert of low-fat ice cream.
Bad: My wife might be a bit unsettled to know that I eat my portion right from the carton.
Dude, WTF?: She might be further...um, miffed to know that I don't actually use a scoop. Or a spoon. Or even my hands. Um, yeah... let's move on.
Good: It's probably not so bad that the 'Froggy Went a-Courtin' song stuck in my head after I heard Bobby Hill sing it on King of the Hill a few weeks ago.
Bad: It's not so good that it somehow morphed in my head into 'Froggy Went a-Crotchin', which then turned up in the blog a few days later.
Dude, WTF?: It's definitely unhealthy that I'm still thinking about it, and now have a whole chorus worked out:
'Froggy went a-crotchin, his pants did ride, uh-huh, uh-huh;
Froggy went a-crotchin, his pants did ride, uh-huh, uh-huh;
Froggy went a-crotchin, his pants did ride --
His froggy camel toe he could not hide;
Froggy went a-crotchin', his pants did ride.
And, clearly, it's even worse that I just told you about it. *sigh*
Good: Like most men, I pee standing up, even though that leaves me open to the possibility of splashage around the toilet.
Bad: Like a lot of men, I might -- in a dire emergency -- resort to taking a surreptitious whiz in the shower. But only if I really have to.
Dude, WTF?: Like some men I know... no, I can't back that up. Look, just don't eat anything that's been in our vegetable steamer, all right? Trust me on this one.
Good: I work with two native Spanish speakers.
Bad: I naively believe that my two semesters of high school Espanol allow me to 'shoot the shit' with them.
Dude, WTF?: Yesterday, in the middle of their conversation, I blurted out:
'Su cucarachas trabajan en el bano. Ay, chihuahua!'
Loosely translated, I think it means 'Your cockroaches work in the bathroom. Hey, dog!' Or something.
Good: After many, many trying episodes, I finally broke my door key off in the front lock tonight. Damn!
Bad: In a quixotic fit of optimism, I took the lock apart, but I couldn't get the key fragment out. Shit!
Dude, WTF?: Without really thinking about it, I reassembled the lock... and now can't get it out to replace it. Fuck!
Anyway, that's just a tiny peek into the scary world that is Chez Charlie. Just be glad you don't have to go through the shit that I do. Now besides all the rest, I've got to get a locksmith in here to help replace the front door lock tomorrow. I just hope he doesn't speak Spanish... or ask for ice cream, or steamed broccoli. Man, when did my life get so goddamned complicated?
Thursday, November 20, 2003
Why Yes, I Will Have Another! How Could I Not?
Folks, I've got to admit -- I'm pooped. I've got a few things lined up for you, but I just don't have the gas left in the tank tonight to bring you anything too elaborate or ridiculous. And so, in lieu of that, I'll tell you about what I did on Tuesday night. Maybe it'll be fun; maybe it won't. But it's a post, and tomorrow I'll be better-rested. So try this on for size, and I'll get back to shit that never actually happened next time. Have fun.
So, on Tuesday night, I attended my second -- not first, but second -- 'Guinness Believer' event. Now, I don't know how many of you out there drink Guinness stout, or go to these little soirees, but I'll tell you this -- if you do one, you most certainly must do the other. These things are the shit on a stick.
(Not just 'shit on a stick', mind you. That's not particularly good, as far as I can see. Especially depending on which end of the sticl you happen to be holding. But 'the shit', and -- even better -- 'on a stick'... well, that's good. Damned good, and then some. We're talking variable-speed massage shower head good.
Not necessarily in a sexual way, either. But not necessarily not in a sexual way, either. That's how good it is. I'm not fucking around here.)
Anyway, let me tell you about these little slices of heaven. First of all, they last for about two hours. The one on Tuesday went from six to eight at night. (Because six to eight in the morning would just be foolish.) There are three segments in each event, namely:
- The Warmup
- The Pep Talk
- The Wrapup
Let's take a look at each of these in turn, shall we? Oooh, plus a bonus, surprise segment at Tuesday's party -- I can hardly wait to hear about that! Aren't you just oozing with anticipation? Well, let's clean ourselves off and get started, then. We'll get under way with:
The Warmup: This is the best part. This is where nattily-attired tap jockeys deliver pint after pint after glorious pint of Guinness -- or Harp, or half-and-half, for the lighter drinkers in the crowd -- and serve them up for free to all in attendance. No lines, no waiting... well, okay, a little waiting, I suppose. After all, it takes a few minutes to pour a Guinness properly, and these are professional bartenders we're talking about. They're not gonna rush the job, and serve up inferior pints to honored guests. And if that means that there's a little tiny bit of waiting between glasses, then... well... actually, the thing to do is grab three or four at a time. So really, if you're smart, there's still no waiting. If you're smart.
There are also appetizers served during the warmup. Again -- and I can't stress this enough -- free appetizers. Now, there was a bit of difference in the two events I've attended, with respect to the food. The first had rare, delicate delectables -- boiled shumai, fried stuffed wontons, and scallops wrapped in bacon. In bacon; did you hear me? We're talkin' Rockefeller shit, here, or Kennedy fare. Unfortunately, there wasn't much of the stuff; if not for the bottomless pints of beer, we might have walked away hungry that night. (Or walked away at all. Damn, that was a lot of beer.)
Anyway, on Tuesday, the hors d'oeuvres were a little more mainstream -- chicken fingers, potato skins, wings, and the like -- but there was plenty for the dozens of people in attendance. We went back to the well several times apiece, and wanted for nothing. By the end of the night, I couldn't even look at a chicken wing. And it was all free -- did I mention free? A veritable hedonistic wet dream, it was. Well, wet with beer, anyway, which is frankly better than most wet dreams. And less messy, too. Ick.
This warmup time lasts close to an hour, after which the attendees are ushered to their tables, and asked to open their ears for:
The Pep Talk: This is when the Guinness folks pay some schmuck to grab a mike and tell us everything he knows about Guinness. To be fair, the schmuck at the first event was pretty entertaining, and knowledgeable, and even engaging. The schmuck at Tuesday's get-together, on the other hand, was... well, a schmuck. He didn't seem to know much, and what he did know was scarcely audible over the rowdy audience. They would have been better served sending a troupe of clowns up there, or an Irish version of the 'Swedish bikini team'. That would have been more memorable, at least, and we wouldn't have had to feel sorry for this chatty goober for an hour, either.
Still, the pep talk is a lot of fun, too. You're either learning, or laughing at the boob trying to hold the room's attention. And either way, the staff brings out big buckets -- that's right, buckets -- of fresh Guinness bottles and/or cans. So even if the entertainment's lacking, you can still find a way to occupy your time. (And your liver. Bonus!)
And just when it seems that the good folks at Guinness couldn't be nicer to you, there's:
The Wrapup: This is the 'cooldown' period, where you're asked to finish your beer, and grab those last dregs on the appetizer trays, and prepare to get the hell out of there. But you won't leave empty-handed -- oh, no. Rather, you're showered with swag -- bottle openers, magnets, T-shirts, and more. You'll stagger out of there with shit under each arm, and -- if you're anything like our group -- with glasses tucked in your purses, coasters in your pockets, and quite possibly beer slopped on your shirt. Or in your hair, or down your pants. Really, anything can happen, if you're a Guinness Believer.
And at Tuesday's bash, we even got little credit card doohickeys that were packed with ten bucks apiece, to be used in the video games on the second floor of the bar we were at. So we spent an extra hour, continuing to 'believe', drinking pints and virtual-shooting, -golfing, -driving, and -getting-the-shit-kicked-out-of-us, once again -- and I never get tired of saying this -- for free.
Anyway, that's my story. Maybe not as overtly humorous as many posts around here, but hopefully, you enjoyed it. Or you're at least able to see the beauty of it all, and live vicariously through me for a night. And hey, maybe you can get in on the hootchie-cootchie yourself -- check out the Guinness website, or even better, the Guinness Believer RSVP site, where you can sign up to attend. (I'm not sure whether the winter events are still being held, or the full list of venues, but check out the site, and you'll find out. I'm not gonna do all the work for you, now, am I?)
So, there you go. A long, winding, blathery post about a Tuesday night beerfest. But not just any beerfest, as I hope you'd agree by now -- this was a tour de force, a smorgasbord, a plenary feast for Guinness drinkers, and the invited guests who love them. Really, I've never been to anything quite like it. And I can't wait to go again. I'm getting thirsty just thinking about it. Yum!
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Be Careful What You Ask For, When You're Really Just Trying to Be Nice
Well, you people asked for it.
Okay, that's not really fair. Only a couple of you people actually asked for it... and frankly, now that I've got it, I'm not sure how easy it's gonna be for you to get it. Assuming you want it, that is. And you probably don't.
But such trivialities mean little to me -- I laugh in the face of reason. 'Ha!' I say. 'Ha hah!' (This usually pisses reason off, though, and he ends up poking me in the eye, or jabbing me in the ribs. Reason's a little sensitive about such things. And I guess I deserve it -- nobody likes to have their face laughed in, or even near. I can be kind of a weenie when I want to be.)
All right, enough stalling. Here's the thing -- for any of you out there who are interested in seeing a grainy, shoddily-reproduced, shot-from-three-rooms-away, horrifying, grimly unfunny MPEG movie (or soon, an AVI clip) of my very first standup comedy set, performed this past Sunday night at the Comedy Studio here in the Boston area... all I have to say is: 'You poor, misguided, tortured soul, you.'
Well, that, and 'Um, okay, here it is.' (Hey, I said you were misguided; I never said that I was gonna look out for your best interests. What am I, your frickin' mother, now? What else you wanna do -- smoke, drink, run around naked in traffic? Knock yourself out. I'm not your keeper.)
Now, before you get all sweaty-palmed and make with the clicky-clickys (or strip down and head for the closest interstate), let me just tell you this: in an effort to keep the movie file reasonably small, I condensed the original footage a bit. So it's not all that clear, or crisp, and I'm not sure how well the sound carried through. I just bought the software today (and the camera this weekend); I'm still experimenting here.
(And any expert advice -- other than 'hey, don't quit your fuckin' day job -- would be appreciated. If I can find a way to save this shit so the camera's zoomed right in on my mug, is crystal clear with THX sound, and downloads in thirty seconds or less, then I'll be happy to deliver. I don't know how to do so, just at the moment, but I'm willing to learn. Teach me to pluck the pixel from your hand, o sensei. I am your digital grasshoppah.)
Also, when I say I kept the file size 'reasonably small', what I really mean is that it's 'actually pretty fucking huge'. (Sort of the opposite as the way we men talk about our penii, if you catch my drifticles.) Anyway, be warned -- the clip, which comes in just under five minutes long, is about a 25MB download. And -- just cuz I loves ya -- it's hosted here on my home machine. ('Cause who else would waste that kind of bandwidth on my lame attempt at knock-knock jokes?) I do have a 128m/s pipe flowing up out of here -- or so I'm told; again with the penis references, no? -- so theoretically, at around eight seconds per meg, and twenty-five megs... carry the four, add six, jump back and kiss yourself... that's what, somewhere under five minutes to download? But of course, that's theoretical speed -- your bandwidth may vary. A lot. And good luck, if you happen to be trying to grab the thing at the same time the Pulitzer committee is downloading my 100
Things Posts for another of their award booklets. (Yeah, happens all the time. Hey, they mean well -- I hate to kick them out.)
Anyway, my advice to you -- if you really have your heart set on checking this train wreck out -- is to start the download, and then go make yourself a sandwich. Hopefully, by the time you get out the bread, flop your lunchmeat down (that's actual lunchmeat, folks, not your proverbial 'lunchmeat', all right; if you're looking for penis euphemisms, you're a couple of paragraphs too late), scrunch your Fritos in there, slather on the mayo and relish and goose liver pate, and gobble the thing down, then maybe -- just maybe -- the download will be done. Or almost done. Or halfway done. Or -- look, if it's not ready yet, then go have another sandwich, or clean up the mess you left in the kitchen, or something. Just be patient, dammit! I'm not gonna plan your whole damned life out for you!
Okay, so let's assume that you've made it this far. (Because otherwise, I'm talking to myself again, and I'm pretty sure the meds are supposed to be taking care of that. So I'll assume you're still with me.) So there's just one more thing I need to mention, and it's about the first 'joke' on the tape. Unfortunately, my wife didn't get a chance to start the camera until I'd already gotten on stage. And I stepped up making all sorts of loud, excited noises, the way some comics do. But that's not on the tape. So, what you'll need to do is imagine me, whooping and yelling, just before the tape starts -- just picture me walking up, going,
'Woo! All right! Yeah! Whoo! Yes! Woo hoo!'
Of course, if you've never actually seen me before, you'll have a hard time with this part. So you might want to watch the clip once first, just to get a feel for my appearance -- and that's about all you'll get from this blurry footage, I'm afraid; I'm really far less blobby in real life, I promise. Well, around the face, anyway. I can't really speak to the relative blobbiness of some of my other parts. Or if I can, I'm not going to. Shaddup.
Anyway, watch the thing once, see what I more or less look like, if you were seeing me underwater in a fog bank at dusk, and then rewind the movie and watch it again, this time properly prefacing it with the hooting and cavorting that I provided above. Really, the whole thing will be so much funnier that way. No, really.
(Look, you're probably not going to get the first joke, anyway, unless you're from this general area. It has to do with commercials for a local beer, and -- while it's distributed nationally -- I'm not sure the media blitz that we got about it reached the rest of the world. So if you don't know what the first bit is about, just move on and get to the crotch stuff, or whatever tickles your sensitive spots. Though if it's not crotches, then you're probably not gonna like much of any of this clip. So be warned.)
So, there you go. Just another example of the give-and-take we enjoy, dear readers. I say I'm going to do a standup act, you feign mild interest. So I go buy hundreds of dollars' worth of video equipment and tape it, and you raise a collective eyebrow in mock curiosity. I buy another several dozen dollars' worth of software, and voila -- all that's left is for you to pretend you like it, and we'll all be happy. Really, it seems fair, now, doesn't it? I think you're getting off pretty damned easy here, frankly.
In any case, check it out, and let me know what you think. (Or just tell me you like it, regardless -- hey, I'm gonna do more shows, anyway. Your snarky opinion's not gonna stop me.) As I amass more shows (or at least the other one scheduled for December 3rd), I'll post those, too. I'll probably go to the trouble of starting a little section on the sidebar for them, so look for that, if you're into that kind of thing.
In the meantime, I gotta go work on my new material. Hey, you people didn't think I could really just leave it at five minutes' worth of stuff, did you? If you've suffered through even a tiny fraction of this florilegium in front of you, then you know me better than that. I can do quantity, folks. Now I've just gotta work on that other thing. Woo!
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Jeez, Nobody Told Me I'd Have to Make Decisions!
I'd like to give people the benefit of the doubt; I really would.
But the doubt is growing. The evidence is quickly mounting that your average person is either not very bright, or not very considerate, or both. People seem to be caught unaware and unprepared for events that ought to be pretty damned easy to predict, as far as I can tell.
I'm not talking about the big, not-completely-inevitable things, either. I can give a little leeway on those -- sure, if you live in California, you should probably expect to have the occasional earthquake -- but if the big one hits, and you're caught sleeping, or showering, or picking your nose (which I imagine could lead to some very painful, and hard-to-explain, injuries during a tremor), I can understand that. You simply can't keep your guard up all the time. (Though you can reduce your risk by keeping your damned fingers out of your nose; that's nasty, dude.)
Similarly, I wouldn't say 'well, duh!' to someone from the Carolina coastline who's just had a hurricane pick up their house and smoosh it into a sand dune. Sure, it's eventually gonna happen, and you should probably see that coming, but should that really stop people from hitting the beach and working on their tan? These things are so unpredictable.
(I have to say, though, that I draw the line with these dimbulbs who set up shop in trailer parks in the midwest. Those hellholes aren't called 'disaster magnets' for nothing. It's not that any one thing in particular should drive them off -- the chances of each are still relatively slim -- but when you put together all the catastrophes that are likely to happen in a trailer park, from flooding to twisters to appearances on Jerry Springer, I think you've got to connect the dots and get the hell out. But that's just me.)
Anyway, those sorts of things aren't really what I'm talking about. Rather, it's the little things in life that bewilder and befuddle people which really baste my Christmas hams. (Um... that's a bad thing, by the way. At least, it's supposed to be. Now, I'm just hungry. And strangely excited, thinking about 'hams' being 'basted'. Damn. I've gone and made myself uncomfortable again. Creepy.)
I'll give you an example of people getting on my nerves, when no such annoyance is necessary. I work in a hospital a couple of days a week, and I ususally eat lunch in an adjacent food court. Specifically, I end up at Subway more often than not. It's a way I can eat fast food while still pretending that I'm being moderately healthy.
(Behold the power of my self-delusional fantasies.
And you just know they liposuctioned the shit out of that Jared freak... nobody gets thin eating those sandwiches every day, unless they're hurling them up in the bathroom ten minutes later. It's all a scam.
I'm still convinced that we'll see an expose of the whole thing on Dateline or 60 Minutes some night -- they'll find out that 'Jared' is really 'Bob' or 'Joe', and that the real Jared is bigger than ever, living in Texas somewhere, and spending all the 'hush money' he's getting from Subway on Popeye chicken and tubs of Ben & Jerry's. I'm serious. Just you watch.)
But my real problem is that it's not 'fast' food at this place. It's excruciatingly slow food -- unless I have lunch at ten in the morning or three in the afternoon, it takes a frigging half an hour to get a damned sandwich out of those people. Christ, I could kill the chicken, bake the bread, and slice the damned veggies myself in the time it takes to get through the line and out the other end with my food. You'd think someone was birthing the damned things in the back somewhere, it takes so fricking long. I'm all about eating 'fresh', but if the thing comes with a side of placenta, I think I'll hit the Au Bon Pain instead, thanks so much.
(Um... okay, I may have gone too far there. Sorry. I know when I feel myself typing 'placenta' in a post that I'm dangerously close to the line. 'Assmonger', fine. 'Fuckmuffin', sure. But 'placenta' -- well, I'll try to scale back a bit for the rest of this entry. So sorry.)
Anyway, some of the wait is the fault of the folks behind the counter, of course. These aren't rocket scientists, to be certain, and you'll see the occasional error that gums up the works for a while. They'll mishear 'tomato' as 'mayo' and have to start a sandwich over from scratch, maybe. Or they'll decide that 'everything but onions' really means 'oh, just everything', and they'll have to pick the offending veggies off the order. But generally, the employees are not the root of the problem; they do their jobs, as best they're able, and keep the line moving in the right direction most of the time.
The real hangups come from the damned customers. And before I get my little tirade started in earnest, let me assure you that these are not patients, or even family members, in these lines. (Unfortunately for them, most of the hospital visitors don't even know about the food court. They end end up shackled in the cafeteria, down in the bowels of the hospital building, chewing their rubbery salads and chipping their teeth on the day-old muffins. If they weren't sick when they walked in the place, they will be soon.)
Rather, it's the hospital employees who stand in the Subway line -- doctors, and fellows, and clerical staff, and phlebotomists -- chatting and clucking and gibbering amongst themselves. For twenty minutes or more, they'll stand in line, talking about their weekend, and that hot new receptionist, and how they were finally able to get their insurance to pay to have that boil on their ass removed. Basically, flapping their lips and their brains over anything they can think of. Anything, that is, except what kind of goddamned sandwich they want to eat.
So, when they finally get to the counter... they've got nothing. 'What,' you can almost hear them ask. 'Sandwich? Oh, it's time to order a sandwich. Well, lookee there, Maude, what do you know?' So now they're taking three more minutes of my precious, fleeting lifetime asking 'What's on the BMT?', or 'Do you have wheat bread?'
Do they have wheat bread? Do they fricking have fricking wheat bread? No. Of course they don't. It's only a sandwich shop, and wheat bread is only the most popular kind of bread on the damned planet, and you've been staring at the sign that says they have wheat bread for the last half a freaking hour, and -- ORDER YOUR FUCKING SANDWICH BEFORE I SHOVE AN ONION UP YOUR ASS, YOU CLUELESS YAMMERING SHITBAG!
(I don't know; is that a bit brusque of me? And no, I don't work in the customer service industry. Whyever would you ask?)
But the nightmare doesn't end there. Oh, no. Not at Subway. Because at Subway, you not only have to order your sandwich from one person, you then have to tell a second person what you'd like on your sandwich. And this is when these assmaggots really get to shine. So many choices, so many variables! It's a veritable playground for the annoy-the-piss-out-of-others set, and they take full advantage. I'm regularly subjected to sphincter-constricting nonsense like this:
Subway Dude: What would you like on your sandwich, sir?
Cluetard Customer: My what?
Subway Dude: Um, your sandwich?
Cluetard Customer: Sand-wich. Oh! Right! My sandwich! Well, um... what do you have?
Subway Dude: All of our ingredients are here on the counter, sir.
Cluetard Customer: Where?
Subway Dude: On the counter... in front of you... lower... lower... little to the left...
Cluetard Customer: Oooh! Look at 'em all! Far out.
Subway Dude: Er, yes sir. 'Far out'. So, what would you like?
Cluetard Customer: Well, lessee... what's that green, shreddy-looking stuff?
Subway Dude: That's lettuce, sir.
Cluetard Customer: Lettuce? I see... And the round, reddish things there, with the seeds?
Subway Dude: Tomatoes, sir. Those are tomato slices.
Cluetard Customer: Fascinating! And the green, sort of peppery things?
Subway Dude: Do you mean the green peppers, sir?
Cluetard Customer: I might. You tell me.
Subway Dude: *sigh* Yes, sir. I think you do. Would you like green peppers, sir?
Cluetard Customer: Well, I don't know. I haven't had time to think about it yet. How about beets? Do you have beets?
Subway Dude: No, sir, we don't carry beets. We do, however, close in three more hours. If you could speed it up, just a bit, sir.
Cluetard Customer: Okay, okay, don't rush me, kid. How about bananas? I could go for a banana right now.
Subway Dude: Bananas, sir? On your sandwich?
Cluetard Customer: On my what?
Subway Dude: Your sandwich, sir -- we were discussing what toppings you'd like on your sandwich?
Cluetard Customer: Sand-wich. Oh! Right! Okay, I'm with you.
Subway Dude: Great. So what can I --
Cluetard Customer: Oooh! Look at all those toppings! Hey, what's that green, shreddy-looking stuff, anyway?
Subway Dude: *groan* Beets, sir. The green shredded stuff is beets.
Cluetard Customer: Ooh, boy! I'll have some of that!
Subway Dude: Fine. How about these green, peppery bananas? Some of those, too?
Cluetard Customer: Oh, yeah! I love bananas! Give me double green-peppery bananas!
Subway Dude: Very good, sir. You're all set. Please go bother the cashier now.
Cluetard Customer: Fantastic! Can I pay in pennies and Canadian quarters?
Subway Dude: Knock yourself out, sir. You're her problem, now.
Cluetard Customer: Woo hoo!
So, anyway, I'm not sure why these things happen, just that they do. All the time, and seemingly always when I'm in a hurry. Maybe these people are just too self-absorbed to care about keeping things running smoothly, or maybe they're too easily distracted by idle chit-chat and shiny jewelry they see on people passing by. Honestly, I have no idea.
All I know is that I can't take it any more. I'm gonna start buying my sandwiches when I come to work in the morning, or maybe I'll get the next day's lunch when I leave at night. But even that's not guaranteed to work. With my luck, I'll get into a line with just one frigging guy, but he'll be the one who wants to know whether the pickles were organically grown, or the olives are Grecian, or whether he can substitute extra turkey for a bag of chips in the meal deal. Bitch monkeys!
Shit. Maybe I'll just start bringing my lunch every day. I'm no huge fan of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but anything has got to be better than this! Grrr.
Monday, November 17, 2003
An Evening at the Improv Facsimile
Okay, let's see if I can make the first time on stage for a new comic sound entertaining in the slightest. Tough task here. Tough, indeed.
So, first I should set the 'offstage stage', so to speak. For those of you who haven't been paying close attention -- or who have a really short memory -- I made my comic debut last night, along with six other students in the 'Standup Comedy 101' class I've been taking. The club we were at in Cambridge (Massachusetts) has a habit of allowing graduates of our class to get their feet wet every year. (Or, as they so sweetly put it on the programs, they regularly 'sacrifice virgins'. Charming.)
Anyway, we 'fresh meat' sorts of folks were asked to show up a bit early on the night of our, um, 'deflowering'. (Oh my.) We all drew out of a hat to find out where in the lineup we'd be thrown to the lions. (Or the hookers, or whatever the hell you sacrifice virgins to -- look, there's only so much material I can milk out of one metaphor, all right?) I drew a '2', which ended up meaning that I'd second overall -- a veteran comic would go on first, and then me. Eek.
(Actually, they interspersed nearly a half-dozen 'pros' throughout our show, ending with the guy who taught our eight-week 'How to Be Funny Like Me' class. I suppose the seasoned standups were supposed to exert some kind of 'hegemony of hilarity' over us, raising us up to their lofty yuk-yuk levels. Maybe it worked, and maybe it didn't; I was too busy trying not to wet my pants to bother with piddly details like that.)
So, the first guy went on, and -- just like I was told to do -- I made my way to one side of the stage to get ready for my entrance. That meant that I couldn't actually see the comic onstage, and frankly, I didn't hear much of his act, either. Something about monkeys at one point, I think, and he may have talked about his high school math teacher. Or maybe my mind was just wandering, back to my trig class taught by Mr. Peepers. I really couldn't say. I don't think that even makes any sense. Sorry.
Back to what really happened. (For the moment, at least.) The first guy wrapped up his set, and I went on. I was told to do five minutes, and not to go over. Apparently, the host/owner at the comedy bar gets upset when people go over their time slots. Fine -- that's good to know. So for a while, I considered preparing about seventy seconds worth of material -- one setup, maybe a punch line or two, and a wave goodbye. But that seemed a little paranoid, so I beefed it up to just over four minutes. In practice, that is -- in the mirror, it was four minutes. In the car, four minutes. In the shower... well, to be perfectly fair, I do tend to get rather distracted in the shower. Something about being naked and wet at the same time, I suppose. So in the shower, it might take eight minutes, or even ten. And on one notable Saturday, most of the afternoon. But we're not here to talk about that. Let's try and focus, shall we?
So, when I went up, I was told that there'd be a digital clock on the front of the stage that I could check, to make sure I wasn't going over my time. Great. So I looked as I stepped onstage. The clock said: '|-:-L'. Seriously. Three-quarters of the little lines that make up the numbers were burnt out -- I'd be better off trying to deduce the time by staring at the damned Matrix than this stupid clock. So, I took a deep breath, and said those four little words that I always try to remember in these situations, the ones that always calm and soothe me. You know the ones:
'Oh, just fuck it.'
Anyway, long story... uh, still long, really -- I did the bits that I'd planned. And it went well, I thought. I didn't stutter, or lose my voice, or forget any of my jokes. I didn't even wet my pants! And I got some laughs... though honestly, it's a bit hard to tell whether the audience was giggling with me, or at me.
(Seriously, when my crotch, Joe Camel, and the Elephant Man are all involved, it can be tough to put your finger on what exactly is amusing people. Or disgusting people, for that matter. I think my material may be like a loud fart in a crowded room, or a pile of baby poop -- some people will get a kick out of it, others may be offended, and the rest will just try to get the hell out of range. I'm not sure what all of that means, but I'm pretty sure it's not good.)
But I got through my set, and could then relax and watch the rest of the show, just like anybody else. Well, except that they don't let the comics actually sit, of course. We're not paying customers, after all, so we've got to stand in the back. (So I guess I could watch the rest of the show like anybody else, as long as 'anybody else' is a bouncer, or a late arriver. Or maybe a pervert who just stands back there in his raincoat, trying to look down the waitresses' shirts. Yeah... I miss grandpa.)
So, the rest of the comics, old and new, finished up, and we newbies headed downstairs for a celebratory beer with our respective entourages. I went to the club with my wife and a half-dozen or so of our friends. (And got to meet the very cool Amber, who was nice enough to show up, and didn't even throw any rotten fruit at me! And she even brought a friend. And her friend didn't throw anything, either! How cool is that?) And my classmates were all there -- there was the vagina poem lady, and the sensitive masculine guy, and Mister Naked, and the hermaphrodite attractor, and the sweaty male babysitter, and even the red bib dude. *shudder* Yeah, don't ask about that last guy. I think he could have at least left out the part about it being a 'true story'. *wibble*
So, it's good to have the first show over with. My wife even taped me on our brandy-new, handy-dandy camcorder. I watched it a couple of times last night, scanning for awful, embarrassing, futile moments. And I gotta be honest -- I really didn't find anything to cringe over.
(At least until I tried to figure out how to transfer the video to my computer. That might take a bit more figurin'. And some cables. And a couple more IQ points. I'll get there; don't worry. If you want to see the train wreck that is my first foray into comedy, then by god, you shall be able to. Um, eventually. I'm workin' on it, okay?)
So that's my story -- thanks to all who came out to see the de-virginizing, especially Amber, who took a big risk in coming out to see a near-total stranger, and GZ, who flew in all the way from Spain to watch.
(Yeah, yeah, he said that he was coming back last night anyway... still, I like to think that he ran back just for the event, then caught a redeye back to Barcelona last night. Sure, the lie will fall apart tomorrow night, when I see him again... or maybe I'll make up something even more ridiculous to explain his presence. Dunno. Depends on how drunk I am at the time, most likely.)
Hopefully, this is the first in a long line of shows. Rotten-fruit-free shows, preferably. But shows is shows, right? So, in case anyone else out there is interested, I'll let you know when I'm able to line up more gigs. (Oooh, preview -- the first, also with the other newly-deflowered folks from last night, will be on December 3rd in Dorchester, MA. I'll post more details before the show... but this time, not the same day of the show. (Thanks for the tip, Tanya.))
Of course, I don't think I'll be paid quite as handsomely at upcoming shows as I did for this one. The owner of the club wrote each of us a nifty one-dollar check from the club. He said he wanted to be able to say that we earned our 'first dollar in comedy' at his club. Cool. Now I just have to try to make sure it's not my last. Woo!
Sunday, November 16, 2003
I Guess I'll Never Be One of the 'Cool Kids'
(Note to any regular readers out there:
...and by 'regular readers', I mean 'people who read this blog from time to time', not 'plain old regular people who read this blog'. And I certainly don't mean 'readers who are regular'. How many times you go to the bathroom a day is no concern of mine, there, skippy. Big wall! Big wall!
Um, okay, then. Back to the note -- for any regular readers out there:
If you're interested in how the standup show -- heretofore known as 'my comic deflowering' (charming, no?) -- went, I'll post a wrap-up on that a bit later today. Fear not -- you'll soon be ass-deep in the details of me making a jackass of myself on stage.
In the meantime, though, since I was too wiped out to post last night, I'm backdating this post to yesterday, so that there's something other than my show announcement that counts as 'entertainment' for the day. At the moment, Sunday is lacking in both quantity and quality, and I just can't bear to let that happen.
(I can't promise to fix both problems, but we'll see what happens. At least now you'll have to read through a few hundred words to find out I couldn't think of anything funny for the day. And that's better than what was there before. Arguably, anyway.)
So, without further ado, here's another ranty, rambling train wreck of a post about trivial crap that I'm probably making up from scratch, anyway.
Gee, it sounds so tasty when I put it like that, doesn't it?)
(UPDATE: Um, note to pretty much everybody... I guess it helps to actually backdate the frigging post when I go to all the trouble of writing six paragraphs about how I'm going to do so, huh? You know, instead of letting the post lounge around all day with the real datestamp on it... dudes, I am such a tool sometimes...)
I have to wonder sometimes whether I'm just out of touch with what the rest of the world is up to. Maybe I'm tragically uncool, or out of the loop, or just plain old; I really can't say. All I know is that I see a lot of trends out there that I just can't fathom -- people doing things, caring about things -- that just make no damned sense to me.
Take collect calling, for instance. Recently, I saw a nice little rant on Lara's blog about how the various collect calling commercials -- and John Stamos' in particular -- are annoying the shit out of her. And it's true -- from sickeningly-sweet Stamos' spots to the ads with that uppity-smug platinum-blonde 'angel', all the way to the murder-suicide-inducing Carrot Top commercials, these clips are some of the worst things on television. (This side of UPN, anyway.)
But the more fundamental thing that bothers me more about these spots is this: why, for the love of phone-sex operators, do we need all these collect-call companies, anyway? And are enough people making that many collect calls to warrant all these fricking choices and advertising dollars? Who's making all these fricking calls? Poor college kids phoning home for cash? Homeless dudes checking on the day's lottery numbers? Carrot Top, going through the list of escort services on his Rolodex? Seriously, I can't remember the last time I made or received a collect call. Do people really make them any more?
And even if they do... is it really fricking necessary to have thirty different collect-call systems, each with a dizzying array of phone numbers and plan options?
'Try 1-800-COLLECT. It's cheap and easy. Just one dollar for up to twenty minutes, then ten cents a minute after that.'
'No, no, go with 10-10-987. What could be simpler? It's twelve cents to connect, then four cents a minute for the first ten minutes, and only seven cents after that.'
'Don't be a dumbass -- 1-800-CALL-ATT is better, and even a monkey can use it. It's just sixty cents for the first nine minutes, then six-and-a-half cents per forty-eight seconds after that.'
'Forget those guys -- we know of lobotomized weasels that can use 10-10-220, and it's cheapest of all. You pay just fourteen point six cents to connect, and then it's just the square-root-of-pi cents per thousandth-of-an-hour after that.'
Who the hell are these people kidding, anyway? 'Easy to use'? 'Simple'? 'Convenient'? You need a frigging degree in differential equations and a Babylonian abacus troop to compare the goddamned rates.
(No, I don't know what a 'Babylonian abacus troop' would look like, or even whether Babylonians would be more proficient with abaci than anyone else. For all I know, the Sumerian abacus squad would kick their ass. Look, I told you I was making this shit up as I went along, didn't I? I don't know what the hell you expect from me here.)
Even if you know you're gonna talk for six and a half minutes per call -- which you don't, of course -- you'd have to spend six hours and a thousand brain cells plotting out a line graph to figure out which eleven-digit 'convenient and easy' code to prefix your number with. Honestly, I just don't frigging understand.
While we're on the subject, more or less, I'm sort of perplexed about cell phones, too. Not having a cell phone, or using a cell phone -- I've got one, and I've been known to use it from time to time... usually when I'm driving, or peeing, or in the shower. So I can see how useful cell phones can be.
But it's the bells and whistles people add onto their phones that I don't get. Ring tones, for instance. I know people that change the sound of their phone every fricking week, every new ringtone more teeth-gnashingly annoying than the last. Today, it might be 'Whistle While You Work'. (Grrrr.) Tomorrow, 'It's a Small World, After All'. (Dude. C'mon -- dude!) Then, that goddamned 'I Like You, You Like Me' Barney song. (Come here, you dickhead... no jury will convict me for what I'm about to do.)
Now, just to conciliate with you ring-freaks, I will admit that my ringtone is Sousa's Liberty Bell March, better known (by some of us) as the opening theme of Monty Python's Flying Circus. So I'm not entirely without guilt in this matter, either.
But -- and this is a big, Rosie O'Donnell-sized 'but' -- I say this in my defense: for one thing, I keep my phone on 'vibrate' most of the time. And not just because it feels good in my pocket, either. (It does, but that's not why I do it.)
Secondly, that ringtone came with the phone as one of the options. I didn't spend fourteen hours online looking for it, wading through clips of fart noises and crappy Muzaked pop songs until I found it.
And third, I set the damned ringtone the day I got the phone, and that's what it's been set to ever since. I don't go changing the stupid ring like it's a frigging mood phone or something. You can't tell I'm sad because the phone tinkles out 'Send in the Clowns', or know that I'm pissed because you hear the theme from 'Halloween' when someone calls me. It doesn't work like that.
So, while I do have a custom ring, I'm not part of what I consider the problem. I've got plenty of other ways to waste my time -- current blog in point -- without combing through the internet to find a way to make my phone yell out 'Don't have a cow, man' over and over when I get a call. Who are these frigging people, anyway?
Games for cell phones make me scratch my head, too -- though I have to admit, so do GameBoys and the like. Not because I'm not a 'gamer' -- oh, I game, dude. I game. At the same time, I'm not one of those 'game snobs' you see sometimes -- young, pimply-faced kids with the latest souped-up console system, or with PCs chock full of video cards and forty-three gigs of RAM, with rings of computers set up to multicast Quake Arena or Unreal Tournament or whatever the kick-ass kill-'em-all game du jour happens to be.
I'll play a lot of those games -- and others, too -- but I do it on my crappy little home office PC, and that's just fine. I don't have to see every single spatter of blood that comes out of my character's head when I wander into a minefield, or a guard post, or I slip and fall on the virtual sidewalk. Again. I buy my games nice and late -- and therefore cheap -- and then play 'em slowly, so I never catch up. I'm perpetually two or three years behind, and the games still kick ass, so I'm just tickled pink.
But even I can't play those phone games. They're not 'soooo 2001'; they're more like, 'eek! Pong!' The screens are tiny, the keypads cramped, and the graphics laughable. Hmmm. Gee, you'd almost think that cell phones weren't actually built to play games on! Who'da thunk it? (And isn't that what Palm Pilots are for? At least there, you can see what the hell you're doing and tap right on the screen with that little plastic pencil thingy.)
Anyway, like I said, maybe I'm just out of touch. All the kids seem to like this shit, and I'm sure they'll continue to play their little crappy micro-games, and download the 'Freinds' theme song onto their phones (Double grrrrr!), and use them to punch out the forty-eight digits now needed to make a collect call. And I'll still be in the dark. Well, that's all right. I'm old, and uncool -- I don't care. I'll just keep playing my PC games from last century, and paying for the calls I make. And I'll always get a grin on my face when my phone rings.
Of course, that's usually because it's on vibrate. Hey, I love Monty Python, people, but some things are more important than having a cool ringtone. And I think a nice little 'rumble in the undies' now and then qualifies. Don't you?
A Short Break for Some Shameless Self-Promotion
Hey, all -- I know it's last-minute, but I thought (thanks to gentle prodding and encouragement from Amber of Learn to Speak Ebenese) that I'd post the details of my upcoming comedy debut. Upcoming, as in... well, tonight. (Hey, I said it was 'last-minute'. I'm not screwing around here.)
Anyway, for those of you in the Boston area who are interested in a little Sunday-night hilarity, here's the scoop:
At 8pm tonight, eight of us comic newbies are going to strut our stuff -- and wave our rubber chickens -- onstage at the Comedy Studio, located at 1532 Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square, Cambridge (on the third floor, above the Hong Kong restaurant). We each get a five-minute set, and I think there are a couple of 'pros' on the menu, as well.
(That's 'pro' as in 'more seasoned comedian', by the way, not 'hooker'. I'm not saying that there won't be hookers there, necessarily; I just don't think they'll be on stage. But I've been wrong before -- Harvard Square can be pretty liberal about such things, you know.)
Anyway, if you've got a couple of hours to spare, and want to see me -- and seven of my new friends -- make complete asses of ourselves on stage, then be sure to stop by. The doors open at 7:30; I recommend for your sake that you get there early. And for my sake, I recommend that you start ordering the scorpion bowls as soon as you get in the door. There's no better comedy audience than a liquored-up comedy audience.
So, that's my announcement. I'll be back later with your regularly-scheduled drivel for the day. Assuming I'm not buried under a stinking mound of rotting fruit and eggs onstage, that is. If it goes that badly, I might just curl up with a scorpion bowl myself, and take a night off. I know when I'm not wanted. Wish me luck!