The Blogging Affairs Desk

When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

Best of The BAD: NYC 101

Another ‘Best of’ this was originally posted this past summer after reading an article in the NYTs about twin blonde-haired sisters trying to “make it” in NYC as college grads.  The article, aside from making me shake with rage, seemed to be sympathetic towards two white chicks living on the UWS, spending their days baking cookies and hanging out in Starbucks waiting for oppertunity to just waltz right in through the front door.

As a former NYer, who literally had to eat cat food off of crackers for sustenance at one point, I thought I’d inject my feelings on the article, which was originally title “Surviving NYC”.  So here it is, rebroadcast for your enjoyment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go give my wife the wake up pipe.

Enjoy.

***

It seems that nothing much in the news or in the world has gotten me very fired up lately.  Boston sports is pretty much a numb limb; an arm lifted high for so long that the blood’s drained out of it, and the body proper can no longer tell what the fingers are doing.  Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have been sniping at each other with the typical deft of an over grown four year old.  A war toils on in a waste land, etc etc etc.

So this morning – Sunday – I was flipping through the Times, when I came across this article.

If you don’t want to wade through three pages of mind numbing and frustrating bullshit, I’ll sum it up for you.  The Barry Twins, Kristie and Katie (aww) have been “struggling” to find long-term work in NYC for the last 18 months, and are starting to get discouraged by their lack of results.

Freshly out of college, the Ohio transplants have degrees in Journalism, which is akin to having a degree in Latin or VCR Repair.  It’s a useless degree in a field that shrinks daily in size like a puddle under the sun.  They aspire to be sports broadcasters, tv talk show hosts, or anything else related in the field.  According to the article they’re “flexible.”

They’ve submitted untold resumes along with freshly baked cookies.  They sit in bars or Starbucks, whining about how ‘tough” getting work in NYC is.

I don’t know where to begin.

I’ve read the article three times now, and each time I get a little more bullshit.  The first time I read through this slapped together feature piece, I thought it was a satire; some fiction to help illustrate the effects of our economy and rising unemployment rates on college kids finally entering the real world.  The Twins share an apartment with their college-attending brother and his artist friend on the Upper West Side to the tune of  nearly 3000 dollars a month.  One of the twins works three nights a week as a bar tender and rakes in 800 bucks.  The other used to bar tend, before getting fired for keeping the music “too loud.”  Now they spend their days browsing job posts on craigslist, sucking down 6 dollar Starbucks coffees, and playing the saxophone on subway platforms not for change, but for business cards.

It’s almost adorable, the naivety.

The second and third times I read through the article, I was just making myself more and more upset and flustered.  I mean, really girls?  You pull in 800 bucks a week, working three nights at a bar, and you’re not even really cute.  You should count your blessings on that alone, where the average 24 year old out-of-towner probably pulls in a fraction of that amount busting his or her ass at three jobs for a total of 60 hours a week.  I should know, because I used to be one of those 24 year olds.

The UWS apartment?  It’s a “cozy, fourth floor walk up.”  I lived in East Bumfuck Queens in a 1000 dollar a month hole in the ground with slits for windows that had a total square footage of a public bathroom, and smelled just as bad.  Starbucks and drinks at the bar?  I ate cat food off of saltines for a period of time, because I had no money.

I actually considered mugging people.

The Twins come up with cutesy ideas to try to get noticed, like sending home-made cookies with resumes, and the aforementioned sax playing for business cards.  Bitches, lesson one about living in NYC:  Cute doesn’t cut it.  NYC is the majors, it’s serious chemistry with all the charm of a dead hooker.  People literally live and die by the decisions they make in that terrible gray piss-soaked metropolis, and you’re sending cookies to HR reps?

Here’s how that’s likely going over:

HR Rep:  Hey, what the fuck are these?  (smells) Cookies?  And what’s this they’re stuck to, a resume?  Huh, not much on here to work with.  Well, I guess I’ll stick these in the break room, maybe someone will eat them.

Girls, don’t whine that in 18 months you’re not getting any bites on that ‘dream job.’  ESPN is not going to come knocking down your door because you’re the next best thing since white bread.  You have to work and earn your place in the pecking order of NYC, you are owed literally nothing.  Yes, you have friends, according to the article, that hook you up in various ways, so utilize that.  It’s called “networking.”  You meet people who know people and you keep adding them to that list.  You don’t sit on your ass all day baking treats and scanning job listings online.  You beat the pavement, you wear second hand clothes and you sure as hell don’t live ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE!

I’m almost willing to bet that they won’t even look for work outside of Manhattan.  I bet they’ve never been to Queens.  They went to Brooklyn to check out a trendy hipster bar, once.  And they probably took a cab.

The comment thread has been 50/50 where people are either supportive of the girls, or bleakly realistic.  A lot of would-be NYers, (like myself) have weighed in with their own experiences, detailing how the city eats people alive.

Again, I did three years, one of which I was pretty much on my own.  I started off by staying at a dorm while I was taking classes near Fordham, then moved into a two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with two other guys I knew from school.  I basically turned the living room into my own room, which sucked because every morning I had to turn it back into a living room again.  When that situation fizzed out about two years later, I got the aforementioned apartment in Queens while picking up work at a generic office building.  I had my own little broom closet sized office and I wore a suit every day to the tune of 11 bucks an hour with no health insurance.

But it all came to an end and I realized I couldn’t do ‘this’ anymore so I packed my shit and went back home.  And here we are today.

I admire these girls for having the balls to at least try, and I don’t necessarily blame them for being so utterly naive.  There’s no class in college that breaks it down for soon-to-be-grads.  No one to stand there and be like “oh hey, by the way, this degree isn’t going to mean jack shit in the real world.  You’re going to be bussing tables til you’re about 29, so try to keep your head up.”

NYC is for self starters and these girls certainly have the potential, however they need to head in the right direction and pay their dues.  There’s doctors and lawyers who have been living in NYC for the better part of twenty years who don’t have an UWS apartment.

My advice to The Twins:  Dye your hair brown, cut out the cutesy self entitled bullshit, stop going to Starbucks (coffee at the diner down the block is like 65 cents, there’s little to no waiting, and you won’t be surrounded by smug assholes.  This is where the real NYC winners tend to gravitate towards.  Starbucks is for tourists and college kids), and start getting guys to buy your drinks for you at bars.  You’re both female; there’s no reason why any woman in New York City should be buying their own drinks, unless she’s an ultra feminist lesbian.

Move to Brooklyn, there’s plenty of nice places for half of what you’re paying in rent, close enough to the city that you’ll be actually forced to take a bus some places.  And for the love of Christ, stop sending out cookies with resumes.

Advertisements

February 14, 2010 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Being Late for a Wedding Can be a Good Thing

There was that air of tension for a brief second where I knew, before she even said it, that we were going to have to turn around.

My wife Ang and I were on our way to my Cousin Jaime’s wedding in Maine this past weekend.  I’d been at a training school for work all week and on Friday after school we took off to Maine.  Everything was fine.

But sometime during the night, when the temperatures in Southern Maine dropped down below zero, Ang’s Prius decided to do what any wild beast would do in those temperatures a have a fucking stroke.  The next morning, the (thankfully) less expensive of the two Prius’s batteries had shit the bed.  We found this out half-way to the wedding.

First off, a compliant:  Who the hell has a late-morning wedding?  When I woke up that morning, obviously not knowing what time the wedding was, I called Jaime’s father Uncle John (she probably refers to him as “dad” but…) to ask what time the wedding was.  I was shocked that at 9 in the morning he told me it was at “eleven, but you might want to get there at 1030ish”.  Damnit!

So we rushed, got showered and dressed at my mom’s house a few towns over and took off.  We were halfway there when I realized I didn’t have any dashboard read out.

If you’ve never piloted a Prius before, it’s all digital read outs on the dash.  No dials.  At first I thought I had the little dimmer switch turned down for some reason, but that wasn’t it.  Then I thought it might’ve been an optical illusion produced by my polarized sunglasses and the sun or something, and when I pulled my shades down, all I saw was black.

The car was still running though, and we pulled over to the side of Main Street to see if it was something we could fix if we just turned the car off and back on again.  I pushed the ignition button and got no response.  Queue panic from my wife.

God bless her, but if anything happens to her car she wigs out.  So now it’s all tense, we need to be at this wedding, very little time to spare and Ang says “turn back to your mother’s.”

Fuck!

We get back and, knowing nothing about cars, let alone Hybrids, I start googling “Prius + Problems + Cold Weather” and get a bunch of Toyota forums about people in high altitude/cold weather areas having significant ignition and battery problems with their Priuses(i?)

Ang takes the more direct approach and calls the dealership from where she bought the car directly.  After a few minutes of on-the-phone diagnostics, we discover that one of the two batteries the Prius runs on is likely dead or close to it.  We need to get to a dealership, stat, to replace said battery.

So about ten minutes going the opposite direction, we get to a dealership and all is taken care of.  By the time we’re back on the road, the ceremony is definitely over.  We can still make the reception, which I guess is at the same place as the wedding.

At this point, I should tell you about the funny feeling I get when I have to deal with my extended family.

Things have always been a little awkward with my dad’s side of the family, even from when I was a kid.  I don’t really understand why this is, and I simply accept it.  The family is large and I hardly know any of my relatives except the “cool ones” who have achieved this status either by showing some signs of kindness towards me or just by giving me butt-loads of cash during the holidays.  Whenever I come around, I feel like I have nothing to say, and things suddenly become very awkward.  Instantly, the tough-talking, ass-kicking, moderately successful man with the swagger of a guy who gets paid to knock people out is diminished to that clumsy, mush-mouthed 13 year old from fifteen years ago any time my Aunt Peggy comes around.  I can’t explain it.

We pull up to the reception hall and I’m instantly relieved that I listened to my wife’s advice and didn’t wear my three piece suit to this thing, and instead opted for a cashmere sweater and slacks: nearly everyone was in denim and sweatshirts, save a few adults who managed to put on some business-casual button-down shirts.  The only ties were being worn by members of the groom’s wedding party; they were dressed in rental black and red three pieces and looked more Ska band than Groomsmen.

Likewise, bridesmaids were dressed in some sort of Katy Perry-like tube dresses and black lace fingerless gloves with red lace accents.  My cousin did look gorgeous in her white wedding gown, complete with a pair of black and white Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

Oh yeah, and everyone was shitfaced.

As soon as we walked in, I was greeted by the bulk of my extended family.  Hugs were had all around, our gift was taken from us, and slowly, like a spreading pool of blood, the awkwardness set in.

First I had to apologize about a million times for being late.  Next I had to explain why I was wearing hiking boots and not decent shoes (I had forgot to pack them) when nearly everyone else was in loafers at best, gym shoes at worst.  To compound things, the inevitably and albeit obligatory questions about my mother and father started to surface:

“Is your mom going to make it?”

“How’s your father?”

“What’s going on with them?”

These weren’t the usual questions asked out of absenteeism.  No, they knew exactly what’s going on with my mother and father and the nasty separation/divorce.  The know all about my father’s self-exile to some remote campground out in NH and my mother’s slipping sanity.  They just wanted the gossip.

“Oh, I see your mother all the time at the Shaw’s” one of my aunt’s said.  “Awesome?”  I say in return.  I mean, what else can I say?   Then Jaime finally made her way over.

Blitzed, she punched me in the chest and with thick tongue said “you missed the wedding, ass.”  I felt about >< this tall.

To make matters worse, her younger brother Josh, whom I haven’t seen in YEARS swings by and gives me a hug.  I don’t recognize him and it’s not until later that Ang points him out to me.  Again, I feel about as tall as my boot laces.

We eventually sit with a pair of watered down beers at a table away from my family.  Joining us is a remote friend of Jaime’s whom she used to work with, and her husband Greg.  The woman (I can’t remember her name) came across like Sarah Palin (she disclosed that she went as Palin for Halloween this past year) only drunk.  Both couples had a lot in common and I could see Ang and I becoming this couple in roughly five years.  I kinda wish now I had gotten their contact info.  They were cool.

After nursing our one beer each (we had no cash for tipping at the open bar, and I felt like a shitheel for not tipping on the two watered down Natty-Ice’s) and eating some finger food, we left, promising we’d see everyone at the “after-party.”  Obviously, we didn’t intend to be at the after party.

The more distance I put us between my family the better I felt.  I knew the night before this wedding wasn’t something I wanted to really be a part of, but out of love for my cousin, who I treat more like a distant sister, I manned up.  For forty minutes.

In the end, being late for the wedding should’ve come across as some sort of omen; being late should’ve told us to phone it in, send out the gift via certified first class mail and send a heart-felt apology letter.  It would’ve been easier on my psyche.

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion, Those Crazy Politicians | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fat Lil’ Fucker

Lately, I can’t really comment on health and fitness.  The holidays are rough even on the most ultra-religious Nazi fitness fanatic.  Every where you turn there’s home-baked this, chocolate-dipped that.  Hell, just the other night, Ang and I made like 50 M&M cookies to bring into my work (full disclosure, I didn’t know I was supposed to leave some behind, naturally, I got an earful of this all week).

So I haven’t exactly been on my game.  As I was wrapping up work this past week in anticipation of my holiday vacation, I wasn’t really able to get over to the gym as much, if at all.  I feel lethargic and weak.

To help combat this, however, Ang and I have been doing hikes out in Nickerson State Park, with loaded packs on our backs.  These aren’t grueling hikes up the sides of mountains by any means, but at least it’s SOMETHING.

***

So last night I was in the local Shaw’s, getting some quick stuff for a carb-y meal of chicken parm; chicken breasts, angel hair pasta, sauce, the whole bit.  I get to the check out and I’m standing behind this guy and his 12 year old kid.  At first glance this kid looks hypoglycemic, badly stretched skin, yellow in color, eyes are simply dark colored dots poked into the middle of his face.  There’s one of those little dividers between his dad’s groceries and what appears to be the kid’s own purchase:  a small mountain of candy.

I’m not talking about a couple snickers bars and a thing of M&Ms, I’m talking about the hardcore candy, that stuff in the red packaging that’s glistening in sugar: gummy worms, sour patch kids, swedish fish, etc.  The stuff goes for a dollar a pack I believe, and in the end, this kid was buying over 15 dollars worth of the stuff.

In the mix as well, a few packs of gum, you know, because he needs something to do with his mouth between stuffing handfuls of confectionary into it.

I looked at the dad, who was non-pulsed by the scenario.  And that scenario was this:  The kid probably managed to roll off of his fat ass long enough to clean his room, and daddy threw him a Jackson as a reward with the promise that he could spend it on whatever he wanted.  Obviously dad must’ve seen the inevitable purchase of weapons-grade candy, because he was cool as shit about the purchase.

Literally, as soon as he finished paying for a bunch of small groceries (which I would’ve loved to have seen) his kid stepped up and paid for the candy with his own wad of greasy ones.  I must’ve had a horrified look on my face because the cashier glanced at me, then the dad before taking the kid’s money.

I felt like I had to be a responsible adult.  I felt like I had to say something to this father, that he was allowing his kid to kill himself.  To me, this was no worse than allowing your kid to buy a 30 rack of Ice House and pound the whole case down before heading out to school.

How was the father allowing the kid to get this out of control? Where was the authority?  I mean, easily, had it been my little butterball and he started grabbing up bags of candy with his little Vienna Sausage fingers I would’ve slapped that shit out of his hands real quick.

“No!” I would’ve yelled.  “No fucking way, no, if that’s how you’re going to blow your wad, then obviously you don’t deserve this money,” and yoink, there goes his allowance.

The whole scenario was so outrageously irresponsible.  Giving a kid money, allowing him to make a poor purchasing decision with no immediate repercussions, as well as allowing the kid to consume easily 200 times his daily allotment of sugars in one sitting reminded me of how, as a nation don’t deserve a public health option.

How hard would it to have been to be the dad and be like “no, you’re not buying that” or even “ok, you can buy candy, but how about you pick one of those bags and put the rest back.”?

No, instead dad is setting his kid up for failure.  At this rate he’ll be a diabetic by 22, his teeth will have rotted out by 28, he’ll have complications from all his medical issues by 35, and likely be in the grave by 60.  And by the looks of things, this isn’t just a snapshot judgement; the kid probably weighed around 140 and couldn’t have even been in his teens yet.

***

Did I end up saying anything?  No.  I knew that it would just create trouble, an awkwardness in the Shaw’s that would likely get me banned for life.  I kept looking at the dad, the cashier, the kid and then down at my own food in utter disbelief.  At one point my mouth opened to be like “hey…” but I knew I’d be swinging at a bad pitch, so I just clamped it and watched father and son waddle off like two human peanut M&Ms.

As my wife said after I told her the whole story when I got home “James, there’s nothing you can do – you probably would’ve gotten punched out by the dad.  Think of it like this:  That kid will be dead in a few decades, and there will be more air for us to breathe.”

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Out and About, People I Hate, Smells Like Children | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TidBits: Coffee, Fantasy Football, and Gun Enthusiasts

TidBits: A new series where I take short, not fully fleshed out ideas and mash them into one article.

These also tend to go all over the road.  Enjoy.

 

On Coffee:

Is it me, or has coffee just gotten bad in the last few years?  It’s harder than hell to find a decent cup of coffee anymore, something that I’d actually savor.

Being that I live in New England, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts every ten feet.  This is problematic because what I used to think was the best cup of coffee going for under two bucks has become this over saturated conglomerate that sells a bunch of wild shit other than coffee and donuts anymore.  I mean, who the hell wants an egg-white pita bread sandwich?

And it’s not even that good for you!  It’s loaded with carbs, calories and sodium!  Look it up!

What also makes things frustrating with having to deal with Dunks is that in the summer every chain is staffed by some kid from Eastern Europe who looks like he should be starting center for the Dallas Mavericks, and in winter by less-than-enthusiastic Jamaicans whose command of the English language leaves much more to be desired.

“Can I get a medium regular, sugar and skim, please?”

“MEEEDEEUM REGGALA, SHOOGAH EH SKEEM!” the woman bellows.  What the fuck did I just order?  And then inexplicably I’m handed a large ice coffee and a pumpkin spice muffin.

Service aside, the coffee is terrible, and not just at the franchises, but the little mom and pop places on Cape as well.

Each one of these “self serve” little coffee places, from Cumberland Farms convenience stores, to actual coffee shops each have their own little blends of “house brewed” coffee, from regular, stand alone coffee to that flavored bullshit.  Each one of these little containers has a time scribbled down on it to indicate how fresh it is, but it won’t matter, they all taste like burnt dick.

That’s because the little pods of coffee, the plastic kind that do double duty as pumps, never get adequately washed out, causing whatever’s being poured out of it to taste like burnt-to-shit, week old sludge.

I don’t consider myself a huge coffee drinker, as I’ve become less dependent on it over the last few years (I drink between three and four cups a week, maybe) but I know the difference between shit and steak, so to say.  And lately, I’ve been drinking a lot of shit.

What makes matters worse, is that our office’s new boss, who just transferred in, likes Maxwell House, and demands that we keep it in stock on our little mess deck.  Maxwell House?  Did I just move back home with my parents?  Ugh, my dog won’t even touch that shit, and she’s the type of animal that gets her jollies from rolling around in a decaying seagull carcass.

On Fantasy Football:

Men need ways to cling to childhood things like the way women need emotional support when out trying on jeans.  And instead of throwing tantrums in shopping malls when you’re taking too long, ladies, we play fantasy sports.

I know what you’re thinking, and let me be clear; we think it’s fucking ridiculous too.  To sit and fret over million dollar athletes, to spend more time researching some 24 year old’s bad toe than with our kid’s special needs teacher, it’s sickening, yeah, but we do it.

We need it.

It’s a form of non-combative combat amongst friends, and it’s exceedingly becoming a pop culture mainstay.  The cable network FX just picked up a sitcom (conceivably a one-joke sitcom) all about grown adult men and their fantasy football league.  Just accept it.

For us it’s like gambling on sports without the threat of blowing the money we set aside for a house, or risking having our thumbs broken by some guy named “Joey Smalls” who may or may not hang out in the backroom of Lucky’s on Jackson Blvd, and is a very nice guy, whom I will be seeing very soon, just as soon as I scratch together that last little bit of cash to cover the vig, sorry.

On Gun Enthusiasts:

On a serious note, you’ve heard of the massacre at Ft. Hood this last week.  It’s a tragedy, and tragedies like this are starting to become all too familiar.  A guy fucking loses his shit, gets desperate and for whatever reason, picks up a gun and starts shooting.

But don’t get confused and think that everyone who owns a gun is potentially going to go off the deep end like Maj. Nadal Hasan did.

I own a number of guns, and I have all my life.  I’ve also been professionally affiliated with them as well.  My firearms training has been watched over by experts my entire life, and it goes without saying that I’m (probably too) comfortable around guns.

This doesn’t make me crazy, people.

But it’s hard to take my word for it, and I understand that.  It seems that whenever I get into a casual discussion about firearms, some people tend to let their body language change and become standoffish.  I can see it in their faces that they think I’m some sort of fucking nut who spends his free time stomping around some wood, clutching a rifle, hunting something for the shear pleasure of watching it bleed to death.

I know this, because I act the same way when other people whom enjoy my enthusiasm tell me the same stories I tell others.

Briefly I worked at an outdoor outfitter in Southern Maine (not LL Bean), which has a very large firearms section; it pretty much takes up half of the second floor.  The people who worked in that section were all obviously firearms enthusiasts.  Some were former military, myself formerly a police officer, and we all would share our stories about our favorite weapons, often getting into good natured debates about our personal favorites and tastes (for instance, I’m a Glock guy).

But then there would be these guys whom you couldn’t take too seriously, because, well, the way they’d talk about their weaponry.  It was like listening to a randy high school kid talk about a much sought after cheerleader.  You had to step back and be like “whoa, ok, easy,” when they got going.

But I can’t blame them, and yeah, I thought they were a little crazy, but I knew it was that gun fever talking.

That’s what being an “Enthusiast” means.  You’re enthusiastic about something, and you tend to let everyone know.  Have you ever met an enthusiast of anything and not have them talk to you at length about their passion?

So don’t lump gun enthusiasts in with guys like Maj. Hasan, or that weird Korean kid who shot up VA Tech, or any other of these whack jobs with a score to settle with society.  Do the math:  America is populated by 300 million people.  If you say even a fraction of that population has the means to obtain a firearm, say 3 million people, only a fraction of that number have gone on to commit a terrible tragedy like the one at Ft. Hood.

I don’t have the exact numbers, but think of it like this:  In the past five years, there have been probably 25 mass shootings that we’ve heard about, and 100s of other horrific murders committed with a firearm during that period.  That’s still only a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the total gun-obtaining population.

Don’t let the media hype scare you into thinking every gun owner is some maniac looking to harm you and your family because he got fired from his engineering gig over two years ago.  Try to think of it like this:  If more people carried a firearm on their persons at all times, the people prone to committing mass shootings might A) think twice about it (that guy who shot up that office building in Orlando, maybe?) or B) be stopped as soon as he opened fire (which is likely to have happened at Ft. Hood, but I dare not Monday-Morning that scenario).

Just remember, we’re regular people too.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Living in an Insane Asylum | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Honeymoon

You can see pics from the trip here – ed.
There’s something special about returning to work after taking time off, especially if that time off was regarding your honeymoon.  You feel so blissfully out of touch it’s amazing to find your desk as you left it, belongings mostly intact.  This all seems to soften the blow that your tub of fat-free yogurt has gone missing altogether.

That said, the time spent on your honeymoon is magical; everything seems to go right even when it’s terribly wrong, like getting lost in Upstate NY.

We weren’t really lost; the plan was to drive off the highway for a bit, see some of the “real” countryside of upstate, the side you don’t see on Rt 90 on your way to Buffalo, of all places.

I had been scanning the New York Times’ Real Estate section and observed that homes in the Saratoga Springs area were going for between 175-200K.  Good homes with two stories, a yard, maybe even a pool.  Perfect, I thought, just what we were looking for.

But Corinth, the small hamlet where we ended up, is New York State’s scraped elbow.  There’s nothing but mountains, trees, dirty depressing dilapidated store fronts, a gas station every ten feet, kitty-cornered from one another, each seemed to be manned by the same grimy-faced local who knew, instantly, that you were from out of town.

Such a local, a waitress in some sort of strange service station/diner, a face that looked beaten with a sun-heated shovel pointed her gnarled nicotine stained finger nail at the ATM in the far corner of the establishment when I asked as to where one could be found.

“You always miss it,” she hissed, as if to indicate that she knew I was from out of town, and I represented every wayward traveler to ever cross the town line.

And of course, it was easy enough to tell we, my wife and I, hadn’t graduated from the Corinth Regional High School.  Although dressed like slobs, our clothes didn’t reek of diesel fuel.  We were driving around in a whisper quiet Toyota Prius, paying more attention to our iPhones than the surroundings of the small dent in the Earth that was Corinth.

Remember in “Back to the Future” when Marty first arrives in the 50s and the locals think he’s an alien?  He has this crazy looking car with gull wings for doors, in a biohazard suit, etc.  The local hick farmer nearly cut him in two with a shotgun blast for crashing into his barn, but was too petrified to pull the triggers.

That’s what it was like for us, driving around Corinth with out of state plates in a car that made no noise.

We had enough “small town charm”, not bothering to stop at the Dollar General (we did eat in the one restaurant in town that didn’t look like someone’s wind-smashed porch.  A Chinese food place called Golden Dragon, or Double Gold, or Lucky Dragon… I think it’s a rule that Chinese restaurants have to have either “dragon” “gold” or “lucky” in their names in our order get a business license.) before high tailing it the hell out of Dodge.

***

Niagara was beautiful however, a trip that I will never forget, thanks to technology.  We arrived late, after putting in 12 hours on the road between Portland, ME and Niagara Falls.

We left later than what I wanted to, due to a slower start, but at the time it seemed the all engines were firing just fine.  But with a stop at the Tim Hortons before even leaving my mom’s home town – which sucked up about half an hour – we were in rough shape.

We pulled into the tiny B&B around 1930 and were greeted at the door by a charmingly cheerful owner, a young woman whom I had no idea would be old enough to have mothered a kindergartener.  She had our room squared away, a tiny “French Room” at the top of a set of grand stairs, with a private bath and tiny television.

Ang instantly took to the shower, as 12 hours on the road will make you believe that God himself demands you bathe.  As for me, I asked to be pointed towards the nearest liquor store.
Cassidy, the matron, busted out a touristy map and with a black pen started to scribble out a route by foot towards the nearest liquor store.

“You want to avoid this area, entirely,” she squared off a section of about twelve blocks due north of where we were.  “It’s a HUGE ghetto.”

But that’s who I am, a shit magnet, that despite my best efforts, would haphazardly wind up waist deep in … dark… waters.

I followed the instructions to what I thought was a “T”.  Taking a left where I was supposed to, staying on a street, etc.  I found myself looking at a dimly lit convenience store, a ratty Caddy idling with a rhythmic clank and rattle.

I rubbed my stubble and wandered in.  Inside I found what you’d find in any inner city general store:  non-descript bags of neon-colored popcorn, 24-count cases of Natural Ice, on sale.  Nylon doo-rags in cellophane packets dangling from a spinning wire rack , non-NFL sanctioned Buffalo Bills memorabilia, 40 oz bottles of some brackish-colored alcohol stacked at the end of one of the aisles (the brand escapes me, but it wasn’t one of the ‘hood classics’ like Cobra, Colt .45, or Steel Reserve), scratch tickets, festering hotdogs on rollers, and black people shouting at each other.

I went in looking for, of all things, wine, a loofah, and tampons.  Maybe a snack for myself, since it was likely we weren’t going to be having dinner.  I left with nothing but fear that at any moment I was going to become a tragic victim of urban violence.  A sad state of affairs, when a young promising male, successful in his own right, was gunned down at a convenience store  outside of Buffalo, NY.  Another tale of “wrong place, wrong time.”

I can see the befuddled detectives standing over my splayed out corpse, bullet wounds in my back leading towards a growing puddle of blood:

“What the hell was this guy doing here, anyway?”  One says to the other, as he flick’s my out-of-state driver’s license.

“Fuck if I know, probably trying to score drugs,”

***

We did the whole sight-seeing bit, which given the time of year, wasn’t a whole lot.  We were only really up there for one full day sandwiched by two days of traveling.

The weather was some-what cooperative; to ask for warmth so late through October would’ve been asking for too much.  But at least it didn’t rain, which would’ve been too much for either of us to stand.

We did the falls, got wet, then went shopping at the outlets, which seemed to be the best option going, as the mall was crowded.

That night, we went to the Casino.

Admittedly, the last time I was in a casino I was 21 or 22, a raging alcoholic who often surrounded himself with hooligans equally intoxicated.  The last time I was in a casino, we were asked to leave by security.

What had happened was innocent enough:  We had been gambling, I think, and decided we wanted to go to the fancy buffet on whatever floor above the betting floor.  We, the three or four of us, clambered into a glass elevator and rode upwards.

At some point, this kid named Anthony, or Michael, or Patrick, … some Irish fuckhead, decided to pull down his cargo shorts and press his ass cheeks against the glass.

Security met us at the elevator just as the doors opened to let us out.

Now, some five or six years later, I was going into a casino with my wife on my arm, wearing half a suit I bought off the rack at H&M before we left for the vacation.

The suit was all black, complete with vest.  I wanted to wear the whole thing, but Ang protested, saying I’d be way over dressed.  I relented and opted to wear designer blue jeans with the jacket and vest.

Walking on to the betting floor was a lot like what I imagine walking on to a kill floor of a slaughter house circa 1890.  It’s disgusting; cigarette smoke hangs in the air just above the dizzying lights and sounds of all the machines.  Mummified remains of happy grandparents sit in front of computerized screens, punching buttons in some sort of twisted scientific experiment.

“How long can we keep these withered bodies here, pressing the same button over and over again, using the Reward System?”

Some were so addicted that they had some sort of punch card attached to a lanyard plugged into the machine.  If we could somehow harness the power from five hundred elderly people mashing buttons for 12 hours at a whack, we’d have solved the energy crisis.

I’m not a gambler, I make terrible bets and even worse decisions when I’m faced with a choice in my betting.  All one has to do is watch me agonize over my fantasy football picks every week to get a clear idea on how I’d make a terrible gambler.

We made a round of the floor, went to the bar, and each got a beer.  I sipped my beer and decided that I was going to play blackjack.  I had 50 dollars in my pocket to use towards that end, and I made up my mind that I would not walk out with less than that amount, so help me god.  I found a lonely dealer at a blackjack table and sat down.

The dealer and I chatted for a bit as I played, and before I knew it, I was up by about 100 dollars from my initial 20 dollar investment.  The pressure suddenly got too high, or maybe it was boredom at how easily I was making money.  I even hit on 16 and drew a five, much to the dealer’s amazement.  I knew nothing of player/dealer etiquette, and failed to tip as I got up from the table.  He changed my chips from stacks of fives to a few stacks of tens.

It was then, holding the tens in my hands, I could see the addiction welling up.  If I bet just one of these chips, worth 10 dollars, I could potentially double it, and then double that amount, and so on.  I could FEEL the gravity of the table; a pull on my spine no short of someone actually reaching in and tugging on my bones.

I finished my beer and found Ang back at the bar, checking her phone.

“How’d you do?”  She asked.  I shrug.

“Well, I have fewer chips,” and I opened up my hand to show that I indeed had fewer chips, but they were worth a lot more than what I started.  She was pleased, especially when I said I was going to cash out and we were getting the hell out of there.

The entire time, walking across the floor to the cashier, I felt eyes on me.  Maybe it was how I was dressed (“what’re you so dressed up for?” the dealer would ask.  “I’m on my honeymoon,” I told him.  “Huh, where are you from?”  “Cape Cod.”  “…You came out to Niagara Falls and you’re from Cape Cod… on your honeymoon?  What, you don’t like palm trees?”) or maybe it was that I was walking out with the casino’s money.

I was for certain that in order to cash out I’d be required to fill out a mailing slip so they could send me promotions, or invite me back, etc.  But no, they simply took my chips, counted them out, and handed me back the appropriate amount of money back, hassle free.

We left, the feeling of a thousand eyes on my neck following me out of the casino.
***

We were on the road early the next morning to get back to reality.  The sky was gray, the air cold and uninviting, almost telling us that we were doomed.  Fourteen hours we arrived at our apartment with two ferrets and a load of bags that needed to be hauled up a flight of rickety stairs.  The dog was picked up shortly after from a friend on a rain soaked night that welcomed us home like the chilling embrace of a bear trap.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Out and About, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fat Fucks

Recently I was someplace, maybe I was in my truck or in Ang’s car, and saw what appeared to be two medium sized dogs fighting inside a pair of oversized sweat pants.  These pants were making their way slowly down the street, as the dog on the left seemed to be getting the upper hand on the dog to the right, and then the tables would turn, and the dog on the right would over take the dog on the left.
451e6aa3ae8ea161121dfc07aa0879cd
Then I realized that I was not watching two medium-sized dogs fighting while trapped in a pair of sweats; I was watching a morbidly obese woman saunter down the thoroughfare, presumably towards her next feeding.

I gagged a little, yeah.

You don’t have to watch the news or hear the health warnings to realize that our country is literally crumbling under its own weight for the last thirty sum-odd years.  Obesity has been the plague of our nation the way starvation plagues Somalia, and economical instability plagues Russia.  Every country has its problems and I assume that being a nation of rollie-pollie’s sure as hell beats a nation run by tribal war lords.

It used to be that girth was a sign of wealth; the fatter you were the more money you had to spend on luxuries such as food and drink.  Look at King Henry Tudor, he weighed in at over 400lbs by the time he died of a collapsed lung and gout.  Sure, some of his weight came from sustaining a jousting injury, but back then, what did you do if you were stuck in bed all day besides eat huge turkey legs and fuck the shit out of virgin maids?henry_viii

Our country, despite its rocky fiscal 2008, has been living high off the hog since World War 2, and it shows.  Progressively, every generation since the Greatest Generation, has gotten a little bit fatter.  I don’t have numbers to support this, but be rest assured its likely true.  Why?  Because Grampy Hank didn’t have a fucking Xbox waiting for him at home every day after school.  He had a little something called “Chores.”

Kids today (as I shake my fist from my porch) are not nearly as physically active as anyone who’s 25 or older today were.  This is largely due to school budgets chopping after school sports and the advent of social internet media.  Instead of going down to the park to hang out, chase girls, climb on shit, kids as young as 11 or 12 are going right home from school, logging on to their Myspaces, Facebooks, and Twitters, and doing what kids for generations have been doing after school – gossiping with their friends about school bullshit, minus the healthy dosages of Vitamin D and the basic physical activity of simply loitering.
play60
It’s a shitty state of affairs when while watching Sunday afternoon football I see an ad urging kids to play outdoors for a minimum of 60 minutes a day.  Holy Hot Fuck.

Ang and I are not planning on having kids, but let’s say we were – I’d absolutely refuse to allow my children to come home from school and log on to a glowing screen.  Fuck that.  Unless that kid has a project or paper due the next day, his ass is changing out of his “school clothes” into his “play clothes” and running around the yard, street, vacant lot, whatever until dinner’s ready, which will consist of steamed vegetables,  chicken, rice and protein shakes for everyone.

And this brings up my next topic:  The Fat Tax.

You might’ve heard of the Fat Tax or “Sins Tax” in passing recently, but the idea is hardly new.  The Fat Tax would increase the amount of money individual consumers would be paying on sugary foods or foods deemed to have little-to-no nutritional value.

To say I’m for this tax would be obvious, although I can see its drawbacks plainly.  First, who the hell is in favor of a tax on ANYTHING, especially in our slowly recovering economy.  Secondly, it’s widely known that the biggest purchasers of “bad-for-you-foods” are people in the lowest income brackets.  Why?  Because like an addictive drug, you craft your ware to be cheap and addictive to keep uneducated people and their spending dollars from straying away; you set your hooks deep with flavorful concoctions manufactured and sold at little cost.

Why do you think McDonald’s has a dollar menu?  You can feed a family of four dinner tonight for as little as fifteen dollars.fat-kits-eating-mcdonalds

Not to knock McDonald’s, as I’m a shareholder; I know its hypocrisy, however I want to make money on the backs of the dumb and poor too.

Another argument against the Fat Tax is that “good food” is also “expensive food.”  This line of reasoning isn’t baseless, as anyone who wanders into a Whole Foods will tell you.  You want organically grown brussel sprouts?  That’ll be 1.99 a lb, oppose to the “regular” sprouts, which are .99 cents a pound.

“What the hell is the difference?”  I asked my wife one day while grocery shopping.

“The organic ones don’t use harmful pesticides,” she explained.  Oh, but, … I mean, if we wash these spouts in the sink after we buy them, aren’t they just as good?

I didn’t bother asking that question, but to me it seems clear:  There’s already a “tax” on good-for-you foods, why not tax the bad-for-you-foods too?

Soda is a big one.  I heard a proposal the other day that suggested a penny an ounce tax on sugary-sodas, meaning, that 20 ouncer you get out of the machine at lunch time would cost you twenty cents more.  It might not seem like a big deal, hell, what’s an extra quarter going into the machine going to cost you, that’s less than a postage stamp.  But think of it over time, and think of it on a macro scale, where out of 265 million US Citizens, over 85% of us consume sugary beverages every day, multiple times a day.

Right next to kicking fast food, kicking soda was the worst.  When I committed to my diet and weight loss plan at the beginning of the year I immediately took notice of the withdrawal symptoms I was having as little as 48 hours without a carbonated caffeine drink.  I was irritable, sweaty, panicked, shaky and dry-mouthed.  No matter how much water I would drink, I was still thirsty.

But I got through it, and after about two weeks I could care less about soda.  Now if I split a Coke with Ang… a real Coke, mind you… I can feel my teeth buzz, dare I say, throb from the high sugar concentration.  I can’t believe I used to pound a 12 pack or more a day of that stuff.
6a00d83451b46269e200e553b8153c8834-800wi
Let’s go back to that fat woman I described a little while ago:  No one gets that big, America, no one.  Sure, some people are just big people, whether it’s genetics or glandular diseases or by some means that can’t be controlled.  Hell, my Uncle David weighs in at over 300lbs, however, he’s also 6’7 and built like a bank vault door.

No, that woman walking down the street in the shock-loaded elastic waist sweats, with the visible dark stain running down the middle of her back because she was exerting herself beyond her normal means by having to move her vast body a short distance, did that shit to herself.  She’s likely poor, under educated, and had parents that didn’t care about her enough to prepare her a home-cooked meal once in a while.  Instead she never learned to take care of herself and figured that why should I learn to cook when the fine people at McDonalds (ticker: MCD) will cook for me, and it’s only pennies a day…

With the likelihood that government provided health care will go national it’s unlikely that she’s even insurable with a private company, so as a tax payer I’m going to be paying for the eventual quadruple by-pass surgery she’ll require to jumpstart her car battery-sized-and-colored heart sooner or later, plus the inevitable fee the fire department will charge for knocking down a wall to her apartment to extract her via crane and sling.

Tax it, tax Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Lays Potato Chips, anything delicious and would cause a reasonable person to vegetate on the couch in front of an episode of “Two and a Half Men” and stuff their faces uncontrollably for hours on end.  But turn around and give tax break incentives to those of us who are spending money on joining a gym (tax incentives would work like a Subway Card, Jared:  You’d have to get the card punched by a gym employee min. once a week, and turn that card in with your tax paper work) or buying healthier foods.  Make smoking cessation programs tax-free or put tax credit incentives on those as well.  Consider it a rebate on the cost of the program if completed successfully.story2

How about age restrictions on fast food?  Or how about just not letting them stay open 24/7?  Unless you work third shift as a cab driver, why the hell are you going to Taco Bell at 4 am when Last Call was three and a half hours ago?

Ride a bike to and from work more than once a week for a month?  You get a government issued gas card for 50 bucks.

The point I’m trying to make is, yeah, tax the shit we don’t need, but how about throwing a bone to those of us who have already been keeping a healthy lifestyle?  Positive reinforcement works just as good as negative.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Out and About, Shameless Self Promotion, Smells Like Children, The Great Indoors, Those Crazy Politicians | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dissecting Cosmo

So imagine walking into your office and you catch this whiff of some fruity concoction; it’s over powering, destabilizing, and instantly you wonder if someone set off a Febreze bomb in your working space.

With coffee in hand you set your things down and looking back up at you from your desk is Megan Fox, the “it” starlet of the moment, complete with the allure of a flash frozen whore.

Someone left a Cosmopolitan Magazine on my desk, whom I have no idea, since my office is a shared workspace and I do work with members of the opposite sex.

“Cosmo” as it’s called by its utterly slutty readership has a home in America’s beauty salons, high school lockers, and under your little sister’s mattress.  I figured I’d go into the magazine and dissect some of it for my readers, because shit, it’s midnight, I’m up, you’re up, wouldn’t you like to know what men think about a magazine that purports to KNOW what men think?

The Cover:
megan-fox-cosmopolitan-magazine-october-2009
As stated, Megan Fox is on the cover, set on a pink background, she’s wearing a skanky looking pinkish dress, complete with fan-blown hair, and a bunch of gaudy costume jewelry that looks like it was purchased from a local flea market.  I do not understand her appeal, only that she’s conventionally hot.  I guess she has a new movie coming out, but… whatever.

Of course there’s headlines detailing what’s inside the issue, some of these include “Bad Girl Sex: These 12 Moves Will Show Him Your REALLY Naughty Side.  We Call Them The “Dirty Dozen.” This headline will forever ruin the classic war movie of the same name for me.  On the same subject, 12 moves?  I’m confused because I’ve been having sex for a while, and honestly, there’s really nothing new to discover, at least in my own mind, that a sexual partner, particularly a girl, can do that hasn’t been done in every porno movie I’ve ever watched while only wearing one sock.  Girls: here’s the real scoop:  Just show up, that’s it.  You don’t need “super secret dirty new moves” to impress us.  Just… climb on board.  Really.

Another headline:  “One Question No Guy Can Resist.” … Whatever the fuck that means.  Girls, ask a guy any question about himself, or his opinion, and likely he’ll cough up an answer, as long as it pertains to his thoughts regarding sports teams, high school glory days, beer vs. beer, or if he’d be interested in seeing you naked.  When it comes to that stuff, we’re usually open books.

The last headline before I move on:  “The Sexy Ass Workout:  2 Weeks to Tight Cheeks.” I don’t know what it is about that lede, but it’s so utterly unattractive.  Anything with the word “ass” in it just… ugh, and you know, I’m an ass and leg guy too?  But seeing it in big bold black letters under Megan Fox’s right tit just… it’s so unclassy.  Maybe it harkens to that “Flirty Girl Fitness” commercial I see advertised in the mornings that I’m watching old “Saved By The Bell” episodes.  You know the commercial, a handful of strippers prance around with the promise of getting “fit” by doing “sexy” stripper routines in your own living room.

But you know better.  You know that the tantalizing bodies on the screens are not the ones doing squats next to their crumb-covered couches at home.  No, it’s gross heavy weight housewives lamely attempting to get into some sort of shape in order to seduce their husbands, who will only be closing their eyes and imagining the gyrating girls from the commercial when they get to sticking it.Fat_figurestore_pole

That said, let’s take a look inside…

I flip through fifteen sum-odd pages, re-wafting that noxious gas back into my office.  Every page I turn is an ad for something or other, make up, perfume, clothes…

I’m not surprised or unfamiliar with this, as I read “Esquire” and “Men’s Health” somewhat religiously.  Periodicals have to pay the bills I understand, and advertisers know this.  If you’re interested in men’s fashion, expect Calvin Klein ads to be littered about your magazine.  Women’s mags are no different.

I get to page 18, and on the bottom left corner there’s a picture of three celebs with the title “If You Had To Choose…” with the options of Musicians Jon Legend and Jon Mayer, and actor Jonathon Rhys Meyers, with the option to “shun, shag or marry.”  Men play this game too, but it’s typically called “Friend, Fuck or Murder” and it tends to involve female celebrities.  But in this case, I would Friend Jon Mayer (I follow him on Twitter), fuck Jon Legend, and probably murder Meyers, only because I hated the two and a half episodes of “The Tudors” I’ve seen.

More ads, more ads….

I come to the article on Ms. Fox, and I’m somewhat confused because the opening pages are photo splashes of her, full body shots, her in flirty tantalizing poses, which makes me flip the magazine back over to make sure I’m still working through an issue of Cosmo and not “Maxim.”  I know girls check each other out and probably are more inclined to bi-sexual fantasizing then men (for instance, I doubt I’m going to crack open next month’s “Esquire” and find a spread of a shirtless Alex Rodriquez on bed sheets…).  It’s just confusing.

Apparently Ms. Fox has filled out some sort of questionnaire here that they’ve superimposed into the article as filler, because even I’d be hard pressed to get 700 words out on an actress with a pool of talent shallower than anything bought at Kmart.

Information gleaned from the questionnaire:  Ms. Fox’s nickname is apparently “bird” which is never explained (maybe it’s explained in the article, but I didn’t bother to read it), her most “tomboyish trait” is her “sailor mouth” which … I’m not sure if it turns me on or makes me think of festering scurvy sores… in another life she was probably a man… According to Ms. Fox the only thing sexier than sex is a Funny Boy (Bobby Hill, watch out!)… her ideal date would be a “sexy sandwich with Andy Samberg and Jonah Hill (first of three times I would throw up in my mouth and be forced to swallow it back down while researching this article) …. The most scared she’s been was when “any time I go on stage – instant diarrhea” (That’s two!  I just want to know if she uses the loose 1 dollar bills she’s collected to clean herself up?)… and in ten years she’d like to be “still working.”  Megan I hear there’s some prime real estate over at Vh1 on Sunday nights if you’re looking… or Hollywood Square, bottom right, under Bruce Valanch and next to John Stamos’ stunt double.

megan-wants-a-millionaire-cancelled

I skip ahead to the next article, titled “What He’s Really Doing at a Bachelor Party.” I’d like to point out at this time that I’m listening to Tom Waits on my Pandora radio station to help balance out the estrogen that’s bleeding out from this magazine.

From the 350 word article:  “The horror stories abound: binge drinking, strippers, lap dances, even full on sex with hookers!  You know your guy would never go there… but you also know guys act stupidly when pressured by pals.”

Ok, let me say this:  I’ve been to two bachelor parties in my entire life, neither sure as hell involved any sex with hookers, and only one involved a pair of non-English-speaking strippers who engaged in a dyke-fest on the floor of a HVAC shop while a bunch of coked out Colombians cheered them on.  Regardless, bachelor parties tend to be kinda lame.  There’s a collection of guys, both professional and personal friends of the groom who gather, watch a porno together and drink beer.  Usually, by nine-ish the married guys dip out to get back home to the wife and kids, leaving the single guys start getting picked off one by one by the booze fairy around 11ish.

Women: Honestly, you have nothing to fear from a bachelor party.

Also from the article, towards the end:  “A good time to drive your point [re: acceptable behavior at the bachelor party] home is right after a good romp, when the love hormone Oxytocin is raging for both of you.  Point out that you’re able to try new things in the bedroom because you trust him and know you’re the only one he’s doing stuff like that with.” If you read between the line here ladies, what you’re being told is to let us bareback it with you the night before, so you can say “look I let you hit it raw, you better not go to the party and bring back something nasty that’s going to make my insurance premium sky rocket the next time I get a check up.”

Moving on…

Page 48 has a huge graphic breaking down what’s apparently “Sexy vs. Skanky.”  A rhyming break down of acceptable and unacceptable fashion-type behavior.  Such helpful advice includes Sexy: “Being edgy” with a picture of the singer Fergie wearing what looks like an over sized t shirt she wore to a razor fight, and Skanky:  “Picking Wedgie” where model Victoria Silvstedt, clad in a bikini is digging knuckle deep up her ass to fetch part of her bottoms.vs23_medium

One more:  Sexy “Pumped up guys” with a picture of actor Taylor Kitsch, who I think is from the tv show “Friday Night Lights” but I could be mistaken, because I nor anyone else has ever watched a single episode of that show, and Skanky: “Frumped up girls” with a picture of Helena Bonham Carter walking some place wearing what looks like turn of the century bed clothes.

I have a problem with this because Ms. Bonham Carter is a sweetheart and hardly a “skank.”  Sure, she often looks like a crazy homeless lady, and I expect her at any second to have some small mammal leap from her hair, but she’s by no means to be lumped into the same circus of painted whores as the entire cast of “The Hills.”  She’s a very talented stage actress and will forever be Marla from ‘Fight Club.’  Cosmo, leave the poor woman alone.  I’m sure she has mirrors in her very expensive British estate, and she’s aware she leaves the house looking like a bedraggled bus riding bag lady.
helena_bonham_carter-pregnant
More ads… more ads… head starts to spin due to lack of sufficient O2 as office becomes saturated in perfume samples.

I get to a section called “Confessions” where readers submit embarrassing, albeit humorous anecdotes that involved their “V Zones” and an unnaturally high amount of accidents involving fellatio.  I chuckle, and figure the bulk of these are at least 50% creative fiction writing exercises, because “hooking up with a real hottie in the bathroom of this club” seldom ever really happens.

I skip ahead again, and now I’m looking at a series of close ups of some dudes eyes, with the headline “4 Truths His Eyes Reveal.”  Apparently if you study these four sets of eyes, you’ll be able to read our (men’s) minds.

Featured:  I’m Bummed – half raised eyebrows, slight smirk.
I Love You – Narrowed gaze, rapist quality eyebrows.
I’m Putting One Over On You – Eyes complete closed, face apparently becomes African-American.  Maybe it should read “I’m Putting One In You?”
I Want You – Steady, burning gaze that the longer I look into, makes me feel gay as a tree full of birds.

Not Featured:  Hunny, Get Me Another One? – Uplifted eyebrows with hopeful glint
Ugh, I’m Kinda in The Mood, (But Don’t Feel Like Fucking Around With All That Foreplay) – Squinted eyes, furrowed brow.
Please, Shut The Fuck Up – Upturned eyes, towards ceiling, almost asking for god’s hand to come down from the sky and smite thee.
I Hate Your Harpy Friends – Red eyes, bared teeth.

I next come across “The Guy Report” with useless information for women to “nudge” guys to do their bidding and to decode eating habits.  Of the eating habits “If he routinely finishes his meals long before you do, being in sync and savoring your relationship may not be priorities for him.” Or… or it could mean I’m just fucking hungry because I’ve been at work all day and the last time I ate was at about 9 am this morning which consisted of a piece of wheat toast and a handful of Corn Pops?  Lesson:  If you have time to over analyze our relationship based purely on how I’m eating, you need to check your insecurity.  The fact that I’m sucking down the meal you just made me should be a compliment.  The way I look at it, as a guy, if I’m spending my time chit-chatting to you and NOT shoveling a forkful of the meal into my mouth, I’m not interested in the food and if you made dinner, that doesn’t bode well for you, or our “relationship.”

Next page:  “Why He Calls You A Nag, When You’re Not.” …Too easy, moving on.

Blah blah blah, fashion accessory stuffy… Pandora is playing some funky shit…lights are blinking around me for some reason… the fear of keeping this magazine open much longer and developing a vagina in the course of writing this article hits my chest with a sudden thud….

The rest of the magazine is basically ads, either in-your-face variety of paid full page ads for hair products or slick-looking “reviews” of products that no doubt the manufacturers paid for to appear in the pages with glowing reviews by some editor.

A picture of Rob Thomas, … he looks like an autistic kid with a flashlight….Screening The Duchess NY

Now on to the obligatory sex stuff that is the pride of Cosmopolitan Magazine.  A collection of essays, tips, pointers, and pictures of soft core pornography to go along with it all.

Remember earlier when I mentioned that during the research phase for this article I puked in my mouth thricely?  Here’s number three:

From the article “Fun Little Tricks Guys Love:”  “Use Your Thong as a Hair Tie.” …I’m not even remotely making that up.

It goes on:  “There are few things guys like more than long hair, women’s underwear, and sex.  So combine all three!  If things start getting hot and heavy, stopping the action to go search for a pony tail holder will kill the mood.  Instead, grab – or take off – (get read for it…) your underwear.  Simply fold the crotch up so that the thong forms an open circle, twist your hair into a low pony tail or bun, and use your panties like an elastic band to secure your locks!”

…Ok.  I can almost… ugh… I can almost smell how disgusting of an idea that is.

Let me go out on this note:  If I were ever getting frisky with my wife and she … pulled off her underwear to use to tie her fucking hair back, I’d throw her out of bed.  Without hesitation, because I figure if she has gone past the point of caring that she’s now wearing her used, hot underwear on her head and still going to have sex with me, she’s either become Helena Bonham Carter or she’s just gone plain crazy.
advantagebridal_2069_1253233175
My wife, and just about every girl I’ve ever been intimate with since about the age 16 has an army of fucking hair ties laying around within reach of her at all times.  If there isn’t one already on her wrist, there’s bound to be one on her fucking ankle, or the night stand, or in her pocket or purse or on the floor, on the sink faucet, on the little Buddha in the bathroom, on a toothbrush… you get the idea.  And fuck it if you can’t find one… hell, there’s times when I can’t find a condom, but that doesn’t stop us!  We just say ‘fuck it’ and keep moving forward.

I refuse to have sex with anything that will wear it’s underwear on its head and still figure I will find it attractive.  So fuck you Cosmo, for misleading young women.  Watch for next month’s article on how guys apparently think snowballing their come back into their mouths is “sexy.”

Can’t wait.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Why Am I Reading This? | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Rare Instance When Supporting Your Local Grocer Is A Terrible Idea

First, let me explain that I’m all about supporting the local guy, like 90% of the time.  That other ten percent goes to like, Netflix oppose to “Dan’s Awesome Videos” where I’m sure if I need a VHS copy of “Gone Fishin'” he can hook me up, but sadly I’ve saturated my taste for anything with the comedic buddy stylings of Danny Glover and Joe Pesci.

No, I dig the local bookstores, local bars, local coffee shops, etc.  There’s a community vibe that hovers over places like that, where you can kinda see the same “hey, we’re in this together, whatever ‘this’ happens to be” which nine times out of ten, is a local business.

But man, the grocer down the street, what a fucking shit show.

To wit:  We live on a main street in a sleepy harbor town on Cape Cod, so by “sleepy” I mean “jam packed with ding-dongs without a goddamn clue, for the three warm months of the year.”  The entire Northeast, for the most part, collectively deals with people from “Out of State (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Quebec, etc)” during this time of the year, and we trade the fact that none of these people know how to properly navigate a sidewalk or use a crosswalk to get from one ice cream shop to the same identical ice cream shop across the street for their hard earned tourism dollars that they spend on the same generic Navy Blue sweatshirt with a silk screened CAPE COD across the chest (for my Maine readers, substitute Cape Cod for MAINE, for my Michigan reader, substitute Cape Cod for a Maple Leaf.).

It’s August, and frankly I’ve had enough of the tourist bullshit.

I was sent to fetch some garlic cloves for tonight’s dinner, and there’s a local grocery store at the end of the street, maybe a three and a half minute walk.  Along the way I pass by a small park, a restaurant/bar, a wine and spirit store (one thing I do love about where I live, is that it’s at least classy enough not to call itself a “liquor store” like they do in the black neighborhoods.), the box office for the local theatre, and then the market.

Remember those Warp Zone pipes from Super Mario Brothers on the old Nintendo?  You’d jump up on top of one, and squat, and magically you’d be brought to some other location, usually a perilous place.  Yeah, the grocer’s front door is like one of these pipes, where walking through it transports me to fucking mid-coast New Jersey.  The place is crawling with people, most if not all of whom are from out of state, and absolutely no one has a clue as to what the hell is going on.  Trying to navigate through this mish-mash of mouth breathing breeders makes me want (to paraphrase a line from Chuck Palaniuk’s “Fight Club”) “stalk up and down the aisles with a gas-operated AR10 rifle, pumping rounds into the chests of every fucking face I see.”

And on the subject of the breeders, the place is crawling with them.  I can’t think of any greater child-rearing deterrent to a late-20 year old guy than having to be held up at the front door by some balding, pot-bellied, bad hair cut having, tacky clothes wearing asshole trying to plaintively shepherd two obnoxiously inattentive children, equally tackily dressed, clutching melting ice cream cones which they’re getting on everything they touch.  Yes, I’m waiting for this piece of shit to herd his little cattle into the store so I can go in and buy an over priced jar of marinara, some cloves of garlic, and some imported beer.

Fuck.

So I managed to get around the store, which might I add is haphazardly organized; beauty products and pasta sauces are in one while, produce and napkins are in another.  There’s really no rhyme or reason to how things go, and I often find myself looking for an employee in a blue polo shirt as if I was in Best Buy and couldn’t find a BlueRay copy of “Training Day.”  When I do find an employee, it’s usually some middle or Eastern European college kid who barely speaks enough English to get hired, and has no idea where I can find a package of hotdogs and light bulbs (presumably they’re in the same aisle, I’m sure.)

I finally get what I came in for – a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Non-Fat Frozen Yogurt, this month’s GQ, and two boxes of matches, and now I’m standing in some serpentine line that seems to be the very definition of free-form.  I’m clueless as to where the line ends (or begins?) only knowing that between me and the old lady ringing in orders at the register, are about twenty people, each with a handful of small items.  There’s the mom with the package of hamburg, some laborer with a sixer of Red Stripe, an older couple from Quebec it sounds like, buying some prepped dish, etc.  And it seems that everyone has to have a conversation with the cashier.

People.  People, listen to me.  When you’re in a grocery store that resembles some Turkish open air bazaar, and there’s a growing horde of people behind you, one of which is near to the point of lashing out in violence if he can’t pay for his extension chord, rice pilaf and Snickers Bar RIGHT NOW, do not start some idle conversation about people you two mutually know, or about local events.  Not everyone is on a goddamn vacation, some people have wives at home who are burning the shit out of dinner because it’s taking them twenty minutes to bring home the bacon, spinach and peach chutney, ok?  For the love of Christ, His only begotten son, place your items on the counter, slide to your right, produce cash or debit card, pay, take your baggie of things, and get the fuck out of my way.

God help you if you pull out a check book.

August 4, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why You’ve Been Paying Four Dollars A Cup….

William Shakespeare once said that “A rose by any other name still smells as sweet,” or something like that.  I say, “a piece of shit, no matter what you call it, still stinks.”

Starbucks, the conglomerate coffee chain that is the ire of anarchist hippies and adored by square-spectacle Apple users everywhere has come up with a new marketing strategy for some of it’s stores this week.  On the heels of shuttering 4000 of its traditional brown and green corporate ogres earlier this year, Starbucks has now rolled out with its “15th Ave” selection of stores, mostly on the West Coast.

The idea, if you haven’t yet heard, is that Starbucks plans on “recreating” the local coffee house that you love so endearingly, and ram down your throat some sort of corporate version masterminded by research groups.  Did I mention that none of the new stores will feature anything labeled with “Starbucks?”

The aim is “generic quaintness.”  Is there anything more appalling?

Take your local coffee spot, the place you love to go to and just get a cup of fucking coffee and read the paper or tap away on your phone or computer.  You know the owner, or at least the girl behind the counter personally, and they know what your “usual” order is, without hesitation.

Now take that, remove the warm familiarity, replace it with some jaded high school or college kids that don’t give a fuck about you, some false ambiance, a sprinkle of the cold mechanical heart of an automaton and you’ve created Starbucks’ new “15th Ave” store location.

Think Olive Garden versus the little local Italian place.  Turns my stomach.

Starbucks claims that this revamped version of their coffee store locations are going to be wholly different than their traditional stores, mostly in the way that you’ll be able to order beer and wine, cheese plates, and other snooty bullshit that dudes who wear sweaters rear-round will no doubt cream themselves over.

Who’s falling for this bullshit?

One writer for a dining blog in NYC made an excellent point on how the 15th Ave-style stores are going to fail.  To paraphrase:  “People are going to just go to the regular Starbucks if they want coffee, and if they want an alcoholic drink, they’ll probably go to a local pub, not the knock-off Starbucks that’s trying too hard.”

And that’s my feelings as well, that Starbucks, of all people, is now trying too hard.

Why would a globally recognized brand now want to shun it’s image by being even more pretentious than it’s former incarnation?  Seriously, if I were to draw out a spectrum of pretentiousness, it would work like this:  From the far left, which is the least pretentious, you have just regular coffee shops.  To the right of that you have Starbucks, the bootleg coffee shop where you can’t take anyone seriously if they were to hang out there on a regular basis (could you imagine being like “Oh, I know of this great spot to get coffee, it’s real laid back,” and you follow them back to a fucking Starbucks?  That’s like saying McDonald’s at the mall’s food court is your favorite diner.) and at the far right of the spectrum, you have Starbucks’ 15th Ave locations.

Honestly, because what’s more pretentious than copying something of a lesser level of pretentiousness and trying to pass it off as your former pretentious self?

I can’t forsee this business model working out for Starbucks on any economic scale, be it macro or micro.  Our economy is just starting to show signs of life again, but expect joblessness rates to still slide higher and higher for the rest of the year.  No one is going to want to go spend their time or money in an overrated/over decorated Starbucks and spend twice as much on coffee, beer or cheese than they would at a real local coffee joint or wine bar.

I frequent two coffee spots two towns over, and I couldn’t imagine forgoing either to try out the new Starbucks, unless it were a recon mission for an article to talk shit about it.  I like supporting the local businesses and I shun the behemoth of looming corporations pretending that we, the consumer, can’t see the shit on the walls around us.  Do they really believe that we’re going to be so impressed with some glammed up, dressed down on purpose, Starbucks, to rival the locality of the places we’ve grown to love and call our own?

It’s like waking up one morning and find out your dad has been replaced by a robot replacement designed to sell you Sony merchandise every time you talk to it.

July 28, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Out and About, People I Hate, The Great Indoors | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Fruits (And Other Foods) of Our Labor

Disclaimer: Ang wants me to say that she makes me dinner from scratch “all the time.”  She does not like how this article reflects the idea she hardly ever cooks.

With that said, on to the article.

Ninety-nine percent of my life, I’ve eaten like most every other American who wakes up on American soil, drives listlessly to work, and ponders life’s great meaning.  And that would mean I eat out of a box.

Think about the meals you consume and unless you either live on a farm or are Giada De Laurentis, you eat out of a fucking box.  The box is the old/new feed bag for Americans, and it wasn’t until the other night that I came to loathe the chains that bound me for the last twenty-seven sum-odd years.

I can’t really blame my upbringing on the fact that I’ve never really ventured further in my diet than something pre-made, designed to taste awesome, and be loaded with so many calories that no one, not even an Olympian mid training could ever possibly burn off.  My mom didn’t really “cook” for me in the traditional sense.  Up until the other night when Ang and I literally slaved over a hot stove to make dinner, I had never made something from “scratch.”  I thought I had once, blueberry muffins that we had to make in middle school cooking class, but then I realized that I think to speed up the process of 12 year olds banging pots and pans together, the decrepit old bag of a teacher, some product of a failed vault towards something professionally culinary, popped a few Klonopins and gave us the pre-mixed shit.

No, mom never cooked from scratch, but that doesn’t mean she was a bad cook or that I hold it against her.  At a young age she got her proverbial dick stomped by her entire family (aunts and uncles too) when she tried to make a home-made pasta dinner for everyone in order to get a Home-Ec badge for the girl scouts.  Apparently the pasta didn’t come out just perfect, so everyone around the table, in their traditional French Canadian ways, berated the 9 year girl about her lack of prowess in the kitchen.

So mom stuck with simply reading instructions off the backs of boxes which didn’t amount much more to “pre heat oven to 350, put mix into plate, set for twenty minutes, let stand and cool for five before serving.”

So yeah, I didn’t know what else was out there.

So Ang got this wild hair up her ass at some point and decided she was sick and tired of my ignorance when it came to “good food.”  Admittedly, my idea of “good food” was something out of a “fancy” box.  No, Ang wanted to make an entire dinner from scratch, with all wholesome ingredients, not unlike how the goddamn Amish do it.

I should point out too, that seldom do the two of us ever get along in the kitchen at the same time.  This is because when it comes to organization, reading instructions, following instructions, patience, and everything else that comes into play that relates to an individuals personality regarding cooking, we’re completely the opposite.

Ang won’t wait for the oven to be fully pre-heated, for instance.  I’m usually too concerned about the dishes.  I want to read the directions very carefully multiple times ahead of time, Ang tends to breeze over them and wing it.  So on, so forth.

So the two of us in the kitchen, at the same time, making a meal from scratch has the potential to become very explosive, heated, and dangerous, once you’ve added to the fact that we keep about a thousand knives bolted to the wall over the sink.  Can we do it?  Read on.

It turned out rather well, actually.  The meal we chose was a somewhat healthy ground turkey meatloaf, with au gratin potatoes with a strawberry-rhubarb crumble for dessert.  Everything to be made from scratch, and that means nothing artificial or out of a fucking box.  Even the whip cream for the crumble was made from scratch.

The place got hot real quick.  We were constantly standing over each other, trying to take turns with the cook book, working off of recipes ridiculously spread apart from each other that we had to use kitchen utensils as book marks.  We also have no real counter space, so all the prep was being done on our small pub-style table, the chairs, the sink, the stove top.

Every ten minutes we had to stop and do the dishes just so we could make room in the sink, as well as re-use the same dishes again, such as the deep bowl for mixing both the ground turkey and the crumble crust part of the pie.

It took nearly two hours from start to finish, with the meat loaf (which will serve 8 people mind you) coming out first, and the potatoes coming out last, the pie in the middle, which was fine since it had to cool.

The result?  I was impressed beyond belief, especially since I was skeptical about the ground turkey as a substitute for regular hamburger in the meat loaf.  What I did notice however was how… for lack of a better word….   organic everything tasted.

When you buy something prepackaged out of a box, it always tastes bangin’.  That’s because it’s loaded with sugars, additives, preservatives, etc that are designed to make it tasty, so the consumer will want to buy the product again when he or she travels back to the local food market.  With the meal from scratch, you don’t really have all that other added in shit, so it tastes good, but not in that hypnotic sense that makes you crave for it again.

Quite simply put, it was good the way good is supposed to be.  Plus, we have leftovers for the next couple of days, apparently.

This doesn’t mean we’re going “off the box” by any means.  Given the amount of effort we both put in (Ang, I think put in a little bit more, but that’s ok) I can reasonably see us doing something like this again once a week, but not more.  By the end of the cooking, we were both almost too tired to eat the food.  I can still see us getting a frozen pizza and throwing it from the freezer into the oven every once in a while when neither one of us feels like spending a bunch of time working out a meal.

I call frozen pizzas “get out of cooking free cards.”

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors | , , , | 1 Comment