Friday, August 28, 2009

The Lottery Hostage

I don’t care what psychologists say. Negative reinforcement can be at least as strong a motivator as positive reinforcement.

Two weeks ago, the MegaMillions jackpot was $170 million, which proved high enough for all the Denizens of the Double-Wide here at work to get together and chip in $10 each to buy a bunch of lottery tickets. I’m not a big lottery player because I am good at math. But hey, for $10 one time I can put logic aside and engage in some workplace camaraderie.

We didn’t win. But even more significantly, nobody else did either. So the next time the jackpot was up to $230 million and we attracted a few more players looking to stand on a stage and hold a giant check. I stayed in this time too. “What’s the harm?” I thought. “I’d probably just blow it on beer anyway.”

For the second time, nobody won. The pot now stood at $270 million, and at this point we had 14 suckers on the line. Including me. The only people holding out were the director (who doesn’t need it anyway) and one girl who ditched us in favor of playing the lottery on her own. I suppose 1/15 of $270 million doesn’t go as far as it used to. Losing the lottery sucks, but I can’t imagine anything worse than the horror that would ensue if we all lost and this girl won. Conversely, I can’t imagine a more satisfying scenario than our group winning and her having to watch us jump around like a bunch of drunks at a wedding who just heard the DJ crank “Mony Mony”. Not to mention the fact that she would be the only one left standing after a mass tendering of resignations that might actually delay the release of the film and leave the studio in a considerable lurch.

Which leads me to my current dilemma. In keeping with the fact that it’s easier to be struck by lightning twice while laying down a royal flush on Mars than it is to win MegaMillions, nobody has yet won. Today the pot is worth $331 million, and I have absolutely no choice but to keep playing. Not because my investment in this foolish endeavor has now reached $40 (although I’m keenly aware of that too), but because dropping out and watching the group go on to win would be such a soul-crushing turn of events that I’d have no choice but to commit seppuku. My fear of being the one left out in the cold is far stronger than my hope of winning. So I have again plunked down $10 purely as an insurance policy against a nervous breakdown. I pray that someone wins this week and ends this vicious cycle.

Just as an aside, if you never see another entry on this blog ever again…we probably won.

Monday, August 24, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

Blog-block makes you start scrounging for ideas and posting things you never thought you'd post. This is one of them. A few years ago, a friend and I tried a writing exercise. We sent each other random photos and we had to write something about the story taking place in the photo. The photo that prompted this writing is lost to the mists of time, but it was a black and white shot of two girls and a guy leaning over the railing of a ferry heading for the Statue of Liberty. The date is the actual date I wrote this, and I thought of it immediately after 9/11.

Journal Entry

Look at that stupid bitch. She has no idea that in about an hour, she's going to rank with the all time stupid bitches. Typhoid Mary, Mrs. O'Leary's clumsy cow, and whoever decided that a giant wooden horse was a lovely gift. I can't even look at her cute, dumb little blond self without laughing...I get the most inappropriate emotions at very important moments. She's even taking pictures of the Statue of Liberty for my "brother", even though she works there. Which is basically why the poor bitch is in this situation. I think she might really love him, even after only a few weeks. I'm almost embarrassed for her. It kind of irks me that he's fucking her, but it's all for the mission. He still comes home to me at night. I kind of want to tell her this when it's all done...let her live with her shame, even if only for a moment.

I'm sorry to whoever finds this, I'm not being very clear. My name is Heather. My boyfriend's name is Josh. And we're currently on a ferry to the Statue of Liberty. When we get there, Josh's carefully cultivated 'girlfriend' of three weeks will let us in the employee entrance, where security is just a word. We’ll take the elevator to the torch, like good tourists. Then Josh will escort her to the rail to enjoy the view. Then I will plant this thermonuclear bomb that's in my bag, detonate it, and pretty much melt everything from here to the Bronx.

Yeah, so I have a flair for the dramatic. I'm entitled, I'm about to be the most storied terrorist in history. The President is in New York. They're busy patting everyone in the damn city down for a gun, and here I am carrying around Hiroshima X 5 in my Saks tote bag. I guess it's like that old adage about how the bigger the lie, the easier people will believe it. So, the President will be dead. And the Vice-President, who's tagging along. Which means that soon, a third rate senator will be running a country that just lost the largest city in the world.

My dad is just not going to believe this. Dad was an oil company executive, and I spent about half my childhood in Syria. So did Josh. There was a little enclave of American oil types, and that's where I met him. We would go on little expeditions into the city, out of the safety of our little Americatown. We made friends, and got invited to dinner, and did sleepovers, and all the stuff kids do everywhere, I guess. We also saw Islam. And we liked the purity of it. You can bet that the recruiters loved us. We can walk around all over America without being suspected of either bombing things or selling Slurpees. These fucking Americans and their 'religion'. They bitch about going to church for an hour once a week, and then bitch some more when they are forced to eat lobster and crab on Fridays during Lent. I never realized how soft Americans were until I discovered Islam. Our people are killing and dying for religion all over the world, and that's why we're going to win. It's so poetic too...America never thought that in the marketplace of ideas, one of their own might find their merchandise rotting from the inside. I guess that's about to bite them in the ass. They really should have expected something like this to happen. In a world where Friends is dubbed into French and Chinese kids think that the NBA is Fan-fucking-Tastic, it had to go the other way at some point.

Okay, enough of the rhetoric. We're about to dock, and I have to leave this journal here on this ferry and hope it survives. I kinda wish I could watch this from New Jersey instead of being in the middle of it. But hey, a free trip to heaven is a free trip to heaven. Praise Allah.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The G-Chat Diaries, Vol. 8

WWW: Oh, HELL. The Border Grill taco truck was on the lot for lunch this afternoon and I just found out! It's too late!

Chatter X: Oh, no!! It's not still there?

WWW: It left at 2:30. Ten minutes ago!

Chatter X: No one told you? These people are not your friends.

WWW: I had to find out on Facebook from someone who just had some!

Chatter X: WHAT? Your office peeps have some 'splainin' to do.

WWW: No joke. That should be a public announcement. Who doesn't enjoy a delicious taco?

Chatter X: Crazy folk, I'd imagine.

WWW: That could be the only explanation. Or people who belong to a religion that forbids the eating of tacos.

Chatter X: That is possible. Or people who were in a car accident that damaged their olfactory nerves, contributing to a lack of taste sensation.

WWW: That is truly sad. Because tacos are definitely a taste sensation. It's sweeping the nation.

Chatter X: Yeah, even I've heard of tacos, and I don't follow many trends.

WWW: Well, you come from taco country. Or taco country-adjacent.

Chatter X: Yes, it is practically Mexico here.

WWW: Do you know the Frito Bandito?

Chatter X: He is my uncle. Tio Bandito.

WWW: Wow! I can't believe you never told me that.

Chatter X: I had to make sure you were trustworthy, as you can understand. It's like telling people you're Gary Busey's daughter or something. You can imagine the hangers-on and wannabes.

WWW: Wow, yeah. I imagine if someone told me they were Gary Busey's daughter I'd have about a million questions.

WWW: Like, “Are you sure you should be telling people that?”

WWW: But I'm glad I passed the trustworthy test. So is your real last name Bandito? Did your family have to change it to avoid persecution?

Chatter X: Nah, it's a stage name that just means he likes to steal Fritos. His real name is Harold "Ed" Chatter.

WWW: Fascinating.

WWW: So can you get me free Fritos?

Chatter X: Oh, man. Here we go. It's like high school all over again.

WWW: I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking.

Chatter X: It's okay. It's just, everyone wants a piece of you, you know?

WWW: Yeah, I know what you mean. It's like when people come up and tell me I'm really handsome like they're the first one that ever thought of it.

WWW: "I KNOW. Can we move on now?"

Chatter X: Oh, man, I know! That gets SO old. People are lame.

WWW: Well, what can you do? It's the burden that comes from being exceptional. We've both learned how that is.

Chatter X: Yeah, and that sad part is that people don't understand that we're really being sincere when we say it's hard to be so smart and phenomenal-looking.

WWW: No, they think we're saying it like a pro athlete who jumps to a new team for an extra $5 million because he "has a family to feed".

Chatter X: They're just haters. All of them.

WWW: We didn't ask to be born like this. We’re just the way God made us.

Chatter X: We're just doing the best we can.

WWW: I mean, I never complain that I don't get to sit around outside all day like homeless people. Or spend lots of time with my family like the unemployed. So don't complain about my looks.

Chatter X: That is perfectly reasonable.

WWW: I think so. But then again, we’re smarter than they are.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seven Course Dessert

Noted Australian cultural authority and sweet eater Soda and Candy has tagged me with a meme. And thank God. Seriously. I normally don’t like doing memes, but I haven’t a single thing to write about, so this is quite welcome.

S&C's meme asks you to list seven sweet things you enjoy. After doing a quick count, I realized that listing seven sweet female bloggers would result in at least two or three brandishing a rolling pin in my direction. Therefore, in the interest of my personal safety I’ve decided to instead list the seven best desserts I’ve ever eaten out. Not all are fancy or great culinary accomplishments, but all were delicious and several created a cherished memory.

Mexican hot chocolate, Senor Fred
Senor Fred is a Mexican place in my neighborhood. The food is good and the atmosphere is nice, but on the whole it’s pretty unremarkable - except for the Mexican hot chocolate. It’s served in a big coffee cup and is extremely thick and rich. It is actually as much like a pudding as a hot chocolate. Creamy and velvety and tasting deeply of dark chocolate. Best of all, it’s served with freshly made churros for dipping. And these aren’t theme park churros. These are deep fried slabs of sweet dough, perfectly undercooked so they stay pliable and slightly elastic, then rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Exquisite.

Cheese roll, Porto’s Bakery
Porto’s is a Cuban bakery here in Los Angeles. Everything, from pastries to breads to mouthwatering roast pork sandwiches, is exceptional. But the best thing on the menu is the cheese roll. Sweet cream cheese filling is surrounded by layers of flaky phyllo dough and a lacquered sugar-glazed surface that cracks when you bite into it. Light as air and delicious.

Tres leches cake, Casona
To continue the Cuban theme, Casona is a Cuban restaurant in my hometown. It opened a few years ago, and I ate there when I was home for the holidays last year. I’d never had tres leches cake before. It’s a spongy cake soaked in three kinds of milk – evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. I know it doesn’t sound that great, but it’s wonderful. It has a unique texture that I haven’t encountered anywhere else, and the texture is what makes the cake special. The closest comparison I can make is to the little cake pieces on the outside of the ice cream bars called Strawberry Shortcakes and Chocolate Eclairs. Imagine a whole slice of cake with that texture, and that’s kind of close.

Key lime pie, forgotten greasy spoon in Key West
The exact location I had this pie is lost to the mists of time, but boy do I remember my first bite. A bracing citrusy tartness dominated, and the lime flavor was strong. I’m sure the local limes were juiced the same day I ate the pie, and it showed. Still the best key lime pie I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot.

Chocolate ice cream, Good 'N Plenty
Surely nothing as unadorned as a simple bowl of ice cream could make a list of great desserts, could it? It could. Good 'N Plenty is a family-style restaurant in the Amish country of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. My family used to make a day trip to the Amish country quite often when I was little, and this was usually where we ate dinner. The menu is littered with authentic Amish classics like buttered egg noodles, chow chow, apple butter and shoofly pies. But I always loved their chocolate ice cream best. It was served alone in a freezing steel bowl, and the creamy, milky flavor was phenomenal. I wondered if this place was a romanticized childhood memory or the real deal, and I had the chance to find out when I went just a couple of years ago. It is most definitely the real deal.

Mango pudding, Hong Kong food stall
Somewhere in the maze of food stalls that wind through the streets of Hong Kong, I had this fantastic dessert. It was a molded pudding that resembled a tiny bundt cake. The base layer was a moist dark chocolate cake, and the top layer was a refreshing mango pudding that had the texture of a very firm flan or egg custard. I’m not especially fond of actual mangoes, but this dessert had a great texture and just the right balance of richness and lightness.

Water ice, South Philly truck
When I was a little kid, my parents would ship me and my brother off to my aunt and uncle in South Philly for a week every summer. In return, my parents would take in my two cousins afterwards so that each couple got a kid-free week to enjoy themselves. The highlight of the week was always the water ice truck. Every evening when the sun started to go down and the sweltering heat emanating from the concrete began to dissipate, we’d hear the truck coming. Ice cream trucks usually played chimes, but the water ice truck had a stereo and blasted rock music out the back. No matter how many years this was a ritual for us, I swear the only song they ever played was Juice Newton’s “Queen Of Hearts”. The water ice was shaved ice drizzled with sugary sweet syrup and served in a paper cone. Cherry was my favorite flavor, and to this day I’ve never seen a red quite as red as cherry water ice.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Today's Sign Of The Apocalypse

Douchebags of the world rejoice! You can have your ugly and drink it, too.

The best part is that I learned of this product when I saw it for sale at Whole Foods, a chain that conspicuously cultivates an air of snooty distinction. "Please enjoy our artisan cheeses, our organic quinoa salad, and our wine made by the guy who brought you $50 trucker hats."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What Can Brown Do For You?

What can Brown do for me? Nothing! I’ve had it with them and their unkempt longhair drawing on an imaginary whiteboard. I have two ridiculous UPS stories to share.

Last week I ordered vacuum bags from Amazon. Normally packages from Amazon are left leaning against my apartment door, no signature required. But for some reason they required a signature on this valuable box of vacuum bags valued at $6.99 and attempted to deliver it three days in a row at 10:30am. Naturally, since I have one of those job thingys, I was not present. I was annoyed that they would require a signature for such an item, but the local UPS depot was not far from my home, so I just decided I’d pick it up on Saturday.

Or so I thought.

Apparently the UPS depot is only open on Monday to Friday from 8-6. Now, maybe it’s just me. But I would think that if someone was unable to receive a package that UPS tried to deliver during business hours, that they would also not be able to come retrieve it personally during business hours. So I was rather stuck. They wouldn’t deliver the package again, and I couldn’t go pick it up. The only available option? Having the package redirected to another address. For a tidy fee of $6.

So in the end I paid $12.99 for a $6.99 box of vacuum bags and got them a week late. Still, that’s not as ridiculous as this next story.

My friend Becky also ordered something from Amazon that was to be delivered by UPS. On the day the package was supposed to arrive, she received an email that said her shipping address was invalid and that they needed clarification of the address before they shipped her item. Becky knows her own address, and naturally she called to tell them so. UPS helpfully informed her that if she wished to have the package redelivered, she merely needed to provide the number on the postcard she would soon be getting in the mail. “So let me get this straight,” Becky said. “You can send me a postcard telling me that my package is undeliverable…but you can’t just deliver my package?”

Monday, August 10, 2009

So That's Where All My Money Goes

Someone tagged me in a note on Facebook called "50 Bands I Have Seen". Feeling that 50 wasn't sufficient, I decided to catalog ALL the bands I've seen. Amazingly, it came out to an even 100. I'm sure I missed some, but my ticket stub collection helped me remember some I had forgotten in the mists of time. For the record, I'm counting bands I have paid to see and their opening acts. Not "I paid a cover to get into a bar, and this band was playing." Nobody would have heard of them anyway, including me. If I've seen a band more than once, I put the number of times in parentheses. Criticize away!

Note: If you make fun of me for a particular band, I will claim that they were an opening act.

Note 2: For a few hours I had an incomplete list up here. This is the real one.

Alice In Chains
Bad Company
The Bangles
Barenaked Ladies
BB King (2)
Beastie Boys (2)
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Billy Joel (4)
The Black Crowes (5)
Blind Melon
Bloc Party
Bon Jovi
Boston (2)
Brendan Benson
Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band
Bryan Adams
Corrosion of Conformity
Damian Marley
David Bowie
The Dead Weather
Def Leppard (3)
The Donnas
The Doobie Brothers
Etta James
Faith No More
Foo Fighters (4)
Genesis (3)
The Go-Gos
Great White
The Greenhornes
Guns N’ Roses (3)
Heart (3)
The Hold Steady
Hot Hot Heat
Jimmie Vaughan
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Kings of Leon
Lenny Kravitz
Les McCann
Living Colour (3)
Marilyn Manson
Metallica (2)
Michael Bolton
Motley Crue
Mr. Big
My Morning Jacket
Nine Inch Nails
No Doubt
The Offspring
Paul McCartney (2)
Paul Young
Pink Floyd
PJ Harvey
The Police
Queens of the Stone Age
The Raconteurs (2)
The Ramones
Red Hot Chili Peppers (2)
Rise Against
Robert Cray
Rolling Stones (6)
Rush (4)
Sarah McLachlan
Satellite Party
Serj Tankian
Skid Row
Smashing Pumpkins
The Smithereens
Steve Miller Band (2)
Stone Temple Pilots
Talib Kweli
Ted Nugent
The Transplants
Tsar (3)
U2 (7)
Van Halen
The Violent Femmes
The Wallflowers
The White Stripes (4)
The Who
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yes (7)


A conversation I had over the weekend reminded me of this story, which I can't believe I've never written here about.

I was at a party thrown by the movie I'm working on. Usually there is a wrap party at the end of a movie, where they rent out a bar or a club and everything is free. But this movie also threw a "Halfway Party" since the movie is halfway finished. They can call it whatever they want if the food and liquor are free. Maybe "Bob".

Anyway, that's not what I came here to tell you. THIS is the actual story:

I'm in the bar area, and there are waiters passing around trays of appetizers. Suddenly, there appears in front of me this large, bulbous man who is grinning broadly and holding a chicken satay stick in each of his meaty paws. He nudges me and says, "Boy, this is heaven for fat guys, isn't it?"

I honestly had no idea what to say. I mean, I know I'm kinda fat. But it's an entirely different thing for another fat guy (who, I say in the interest of nothing but vanity, was clearly way fatter than me) to nudge you and talk to you like you're an old fraternity brother in Alpha Blobba Kappa.

Of course, I could always drop fifty pounds and avoid this sort of thing entirely.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

omg it's more lolhistory!!1!

Back by popular demand, please enjoy another batch of lolhistory!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The G-Chat Diaries, Vol. 7

Some snippets of Chatter X gold...

Chatter X: What are you wearing?
WWW: Hot pants and an apron that says "Kiss The Cook".
Chatter X: Wow, you guys have Casual Friday?
WWW: We have Extremely Casual Friday.
Chatter X: Every day here is casual. Especially for me because i'm a slob.

Chatter X: People like that annoy the shit out of me. Typical comments: "Whatever." "Who cares." "Wow." "That's cool!" and my favorite, "Hmm."
WWW: Hmm is a useless comment. It's just, "I read this."
Chatter X: I HATE when people leave a comment like "Who cares" or "don't care." Why leave a fucking comment then? It's maddening.
WWW: Yeah, I don't understand that either. It's like if you have a text vote on TV with options "yes" "no" and "I don't know". Who is spending a dime and a minute of time to say they don't know?

WWW: Oh, that ship sailed long before his balls were in my mouth.
Chatter X: That sentence is like one of those great things you'd overhear on the subway that would drive you crazy all day long.
WWW: A great out of context line.
Chatter X: Yes. Like, “If it weren't for my horse, I wouldn't have spent that year in college.”

Chatter X: Why do these companies always try to get you to participate in their dumbass phone surveys? Does anyone ever hit 1 for yes?
WWW: I bet a lot of people do
Chatter X: The same people who comment "hmm" and vote "I don't know" in polls.
WWW: Almost all polls are made up primarily of the elderly and the unemployable.
Chatter X: That's ageist.
WWW: No it's not! You're one of those people who cry racist at the mere mention of the word "black".
Chatter X: OMG you said "black." You're racist.
WWW: I am, but not because of that.

Chatter X: I'd like to kill this assbag dude who makes all the recordings for these companies. He just sounds like a dick.
WWW: Like the Moviefone guy?
Chatter X: Yeah. “lllllet me see if i have this right…”
WWW: Hahaha. My "no" gets more annoyed each time.
Chatter X: I know, me too. Then I breathe really heavily into the phone and it picks that up and he goes, "ssssorry, iiii didn't catch that."
WWW: "I said I'd like to plug your mother in the ass"
Chatter X: I've done that before...just saying shit because I'm pissed off.
Chatter X: Eventually they disconnect me because "I'm sorry you're having trouble".
WWW: Agent.
Chatter X: I'm rebooking people on this flight that has less than an hour layover. I hope they get stuck there.
WWW: "I think you said 'domestic,' is that right?"
WWW: "I heard 'fuck you'. Is that right?"
Chatter X: YES
Chatter X: Great. If you'd like that in the vagina, say "vagina." If you'd like that in the ass, say "ass." If you want to try something else, say "kinky shit."
WWW: I heard "kinky shit". Is that right?
Chatter X: NO
WWW: Actually, a phone sex line that started with a menu like this is a hilarious idea.
WWW: You'd lose the feeling before you get to the girl.

Chatter X: I love how hold music today tries to be contemporary. I'm listening to this super easy-going song that sounds like something from a Ambien commercial, and then in the middle they try to throw in some crunching ACOUSTIC guitars.
WWW: There is a reason Muzak went out of business.
Chatter X: Yeah, Bob Muzak died.
WWW: Shame. I heard they played “The Girl From Ipanema” at his funeral
Chatter X: He died in an elevator, oddly enough.
Chatter X: We should take this act on the road.

Chatter X: G-chat just told me, "WWW is busy. You may be interrupting." That's rude!
WWW: Sorry, you must have missed me terribly.
Chatter X: Hold on.
Chatter X: Okay, I had to blow my nose and wipe the copious tears away.
WWW: It's okay. I'm used to that.
Chatter X: But only after sex. This must be a new experience
WWW: Hahaaha. Score.
Chatter X: That reminds me. What is the score now? It's gotta be something like Me 238, You -2
WWW: You were never very good at math, were you?
Chatter X: No, but I can certainly draw a hash mark and add those up. I've been keeping score on my chalktop.
WWW: I think elves are sneaking in at night and changing it.
Chatter X: I don't think so. I keep it where the Gooks can't find it. In my ass!
WWW: Are you kidding? All of Santa's elves could go in at the same time and look around for that shit.
Chatter X: But that's because they're magical! You realize that you're basically accusing the Claus organization of dishonesty. If this gets out, well, a lot of people are going to be very unhappy with you.
WWW: Well, if people knew what you did to Santa, they would understand.
Chatter X: This is it. This is the most ridiculous conversation we've ever had.
WWW: And that is a big statement to make, too.
Chatter X: I know.
Chatter X: What is the Chatter X potential?
WWW: Off the charts.
Chatter X: You have to be careful though.
WWW: Be careful of what?
Chatter X: Not to blow my cover.
WWW: Unless people know you're fond of magic elves in your ass, I think you're safe.
Chatter X: Uh, who DOESN'T know that I'm fond of magic elves in my ass??
WWW: Well, I know the readers of Extreme Ass Insertions Weekly do.
Chatter X: I'm a contributing editor there. They like my first-person accounts.
WWW: I never thought anything like this would ever happen to my ass...