Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Supermarkets Have A Vendetta Against Me

"Plastic bags okay?"

That's what they say now. They don't even bother with the pretense of asking "Paper or plastic?"

"Paper please."

"Do you have a cart?"


"These paper bags don't have handles anymore, you know."

"Yeah, I know. You people were tired of paying for paper bags, so a few months ago you stopped putting handles on them in the devious hope that we'll start using those damn plastic bags that hold one item each and beg for a legitimate reason to exist! No dice, my underhanded friend! I'd rather struggle with the bulk of five handle-free paper bags than accept 26 cheap-ass plastic bags and give in to your corporate penny-pinchery! And don't think I don't see the irony in stating that you're eliminating handles for paper-saving "green" reasons while you're really just driving people to use non-biodegradable plastic!" *

"Very good, sir. Have a nice evening!"

I fumed out to the parking lot with my five precariously balanced paper bags and drove home while working up an impressively irritated mood. I arrived home, and as the elevator door opened, so did a tear in the ill-positioned bag containing milk and a six-pack of beer.

@#$%& supermarkets.

* May or may not have been thought but not said.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Seven Word Sunday: Half-Christmas Cookies

For Half-Christmas, the Ghost of Cookies Past!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Actual Conversations With Real (I Think) People, Vol. 8

I am a dyed-in-the-wool PC guy who is considering buying a Mac because it would make life easier at work. I had a single, specific question I wanted to ask about the Mac, so I thought, "Why not use the Apple Store online chat?" What follows is the answer to that rhetorical question.

I am pretty sure of three things: 1. I was speaking to a computer, and one for whom English was not its first language. 2. She is happy to assist me with that. 3. I will need my Mac to have great performance.

Apple: Hi, my name is Myrlande. Welcome to Apple!

Myrlande? Really? Maybe it's backwards and her actual name is Edna L. Rym.

WWW: Hello, my name is WWW. I have a question about MacBook Pro.

Apple: I'm happy to assist with that.

WWW: I'm trying to decide on a MacBook Pro model. I wonder if you can explain to me the difference between the 9400M and 9600M graphics cards, and what kind of work would benefit from the 9600M. The difference in the graphics card would be the main reason for me to jump from the $1699 model to the $1999 model.

Apple: I'm happy to assist you with that.

Apple: It will depend on what you are going to use the Mac for.

Apple: May I ask a few questions to better understand your specific needs?

WWW: Sure.

Apple: Great.

Apple: Will this be your first Mac?

WWW: Yes.

Apple: How do you plan to use your new Mac?

WWW: I'll be buying it for work. My job's server is Mac-based and all my coworkers are on Mac. I'll be using FileMaker, working with high-res Quicktime files, and using Photoshop heavily.

Apple: That's good to know.

Apple: You need enough RAM and graphic memory card.

Apple: You will need your Mac to have great performance.

I will? I'm glad you told me now!

WWW: Can you tell me specifically what applications and what kind of work the 9600M graphics card is designed for?

Apple: If you are going to use intensive video graphic, I would recommend it.

I'm starting to suspect a script is in use. A script written by a recent Estonian immigrant.

WWW: But can you tell me more specifically what sort of work that card is designed to handle that the 9400M card can't handle?

Apple: It can do both.

And....THERE. That's when she lost me.

Apple: But the more you increase the RAM and the Graphic memory card, the better the performance.

WWW: Thank you very much.

I was expecting this to be the end of this fruitless chat. But she kept going and I decided to hang on for the ride.

Apple: My pleasure.

Apple: What other software application will you be using on this Mac?

WWW: Primarily Microsoft Office, FileMaker and Photoshop.

Apple: Thanks.

Apple: Will you store music, photos and/or movies on your Mac?

WWW: Yes

Apple: How big is your music library?


Apple: That's pretty large.

That's what she said!

Apple: Since you are going to be using it for work and I'm sure you want great performance.

Apple: I would recommend you to go with the 2.66 with the 256MB of graphic memory card.

Apple: Since you are going to use video editing, you should be fine.

WWW: Aren't, you mean?

Apostrophes are important, kids.

Apple: Unless you are planning to do that in the future.

WWW: I see.

Apple: Yes.

Apple: They both will give you great performance.

She keeps talking about needing "great performance". Is she insinuating something about my performance? She already said it was pretty large, isn't that good enough? TELL ME, MYRLANDE, IS IT EVER ENOUGH FOR YOU?

WWW: Well, thank you. This has been very illuminating.

And how!

Uh, sorry about that outburst back there.

Apple: When will you be purchasing this Mac?

WWW: If I purchase a Mac, which I'm less sure of by the minute, it will likely be sometime in the next two months.

Apple: I understand.

Apple: If you are interested in the Mac, you can go ahead and save it for later.

WWW: Oh, I will definitely be saving this.

Blog gold!

WWW: Thank you!

- FIN -

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Was So Buzzed

I need a haircut this week, and it prompted me to remember the worst haircut I've ever had.

I'd just moved up to Canada and I didn't have a regular barber like back home. There was a barber shop was right next to my hotel, so I figured "Why not?" Now I know why not. I'm pretty sure he was French, and he was coiffed like he was in a Vidal Sasson ad from 1992. My hair is really easy to cut. Use the #2 razor on the back and sides, and cut it choppy up top.

But Frenchy was, and I quote, "An artist." As he explained to me, some people just cut hair and as a result give the same cuts to everyone. Not Frenchy. He customizes his cut to your face! He took great pains to explain to me that he was thinning my face by cutting my hair short on the side. I didn't have the heart to tell him that the only way he was going to make my face thinner was to come to my house and throw out most of my food.

Just then, some guy who'd apparently had a haircut a day or two ago walked in off the street to say it was the best haircut he'd ever had. Frenchy told me that he gets compliments like that all the time from people who know a good haircut. I got the distinct impression that he didn't think I was one of those people. His lack of optimism was justified, I assure you. Toward the end, he told me that while I can only see my hair from the front, he sees my head from 360 degrees, and can sculpt it the way it looks best. Well DUH. I imagined me looking at my hair and seeing...hair. Then I imagined Frenchy looking at my hair and seeing hundreds of little green glowing symbols falling towards the floor. Friends, I think he was in the Barber Matrix.

Finally, it was over. And the result? I look like I joined the Army. In a hurry. And the damage? $45 Canadian! (Which is about $40 American.) I'm never spending more than $20 on a haircut again.
The only people that should pay more are drag queens and magicians.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Actual Conversations With Real People, Vol. 7

Today's Actual Conversation is a discussion of snack foods (I think) between myself and the two guys I share an office with. And it is not edited in any way.

Coworker #1 (picking up a bag of pretzel rods):
I have to try one of these rods, everyone is always raving about them.

Coworker #2:
Yeah, the rods are good. I like the little thin ones though.

Coworker #1:
Oh, I like those too. There are certain things I just compulsively stuff in my mouth, and that's one of them.

I'm like that with nuts.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

He Loves It All

We're all familiar with the kid who fucking loves coloring. That cherubic and demonic little face never fails to amuse us.

But that kid is tired of being known only as a kid who fucking loves coloring. He loves a lot of other fucking things, too. I'm here today to show you that he's a Renaissance kid:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Got A New Suit!

Eyes front, people!

You will all please notice that I have a wicked badass new header. I was unhappy with my old one because I thought it looked cheap. Hearing my cry was that bewitching mistress of graphic design, Soda and Candy! She not only made the classy yet casual header you see here (featuring deep, dark rich red, my favorite color), but also one appropriate for Halloween. So you have that to look forward to! It's hard for me to relinquish anything creative whatsoever because I'm a control freak, but the sheer awesomeness of her work left me no choice.

Please do not inundate Ms. S&C with requests for your own header. She specifically informed me that I only got one because I'm better than all of you, thus proving that her wisdom is equal to her design skills.

Thanks, S&C! You can have your puppy back now.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I've Got Your Parking Spot Right Here

"Phillies suck!"

That's what the Dodger cap-clad 10-year-old boy said to me as he approached the bus stop. "Not tonight, kid", I replied. I was on the way home from the Phillies' 7-2 victory at Dodger Stadium, and amazingly enough, I was taking the bus.

Dodger Stadium is one of the few sports stadiums in the country not served properly by public transportation. It's surrounded on all sides by acres of asphalt parking lots, and the nearest actual street is hundreds of yards away. I'm sure that seemed like a great idea in car-culture mad Los Angeles when the stadium opened in 1962. It's considerably less of a good idea in today's traffic-choked metropolis.

The place is an absolute nightmare to get in and out of. I went to a game last month where it took me an hour just to snake the last few hundred yards into the lot and park. It took the same amount of time to make my escape from the grounds after the game. That day I met a couple who got down while gridlocked on the way in and had the baby in the traffic jam on the way out. True story. Aside from the hazards of boredom-induced childbirth, the Dodgers collect $15 for the privilege of sitting in your car and fouling the air with $5 worth of gas. And that $15, dear reader, is at the root of why there is no public transportation to Dodger Stadium.

During the 2008 season, the LA Department of Transportation introduced the Dodger Trolley, a free shuttle that transported fans the two miles from the nearest subway stop to the stadium. It was wildly popular and deemed a unqualified success. After the 2008 season, however, the LADOT announced that the Dodger Trolley would be no more. The $600,000 cost per season was not in the budget. Cries arose that the Dodgers themselves should foot the bill, since the Trolley served only them and their fans, not the general public. The team countered that they are "not in the business of public transportation", and that since the Trolley used public streets, it was the responsibility of the LADOT. Consequently, with no one to pay for it, the Dodger Trolley ceased operations after one season. It would seem to be in the Dodgers' best interest to fund the shuttle for the paltry sum of $600,000 (or 1/42 the annual salary of suspended steroid user Manny Ramirez.) After all, it would likely result in higher attendance. But the Dodgers actually don't want to make it easier for you to get to the game.

Frank McCourt purchased the Dodgers in 2004 from News Corporation for the sum of $430 million. McCourt made his fortune in real estate, and the bulk of his profits were made from a chain of parking lots he owned in Boston. If anyone understands the kind of money to be made from parking, it's McCourt. It's no surprise he raised the parking fee from $10 to $15. It's also no surprise the team held on to a stiff named Chan Ho Park for so long. Dodger Stadium has 16,000 parking spaces at $15 each. That's $240,000 a game in potential parking revenue, or nearly $20 million over the course of a season. No wonder the Dodgers don't care about making their stadium more accessible. Making you sit in gridlock for two hours is very, very profitable.

I was tired of playing this game. I researched the transit schedules and learned I could drive ten minutes to the subway station, take the subway and change to a bus, and ride the bus to within a ten minute uphill walk of Dodger Stadium. Just about nobody does this. Maybe it's the uphill walk. Maybe it's the fact that white people don't like to ride the city bus. But they should. The trip from my front door to my seat in the stands was about 1 hour and 10 minutes each way, or just a little more than the time it takes to simply get in or out of the parking lot with a car. And I didn't use a bunch of gas or burn out my clutch in the process.

So screw you, Frank McCourt. You can't have my $15, no matter how hard you're trying. I'd rather walk up the hill.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Facebook Is Haunting My Dreams

Facebook ads are normally rather innocuous and sometimes amusing. A cursory examination reveals that they must use some kind of algorithm to match the ads to the content on your page.

Of course, sometimes Facebook just TELLS YOU THAT SOMEONE IS HUNTING YOU DOWN TO KILL YOU. Who is searching for me, Facebook? Is it that creepy guy with the horrifying face and the Fisher-Price hair? And why won't I believe it??

I need answers, Facebook. And I need them now.

Naturally Ridiculous

I was browsing a popular personals website tonight. I don't know why, because I will never get up the stones to send anyone a message. I suppose it's just entertaining sometimes. Like tonight, when I saw something that never fails to aggravate me.

A woman professed in her profile to have a "nature-based" diet. She also claimed to be into yoga, karate, the gym, and a bunch of crap that has to do with chakras or some shit. But that "nature-based" diet thing really bugged me. What exactly IS that, really? Answer me this, Crunchy McGee - what can you eat that's NOT nature-based? Are the rest of us eating nothing but polyester and styrofoam?

That reminds me, I also hate when people make the case that something is good for you by saying it's natural. "Oh, you MUST try this cereal - it's all-natural!" Whenever someone tells me that, my answer is always the same.

"So is hemlock."

Friday, June 5, 2009

She goes WHERE?

I was having a conversation yesterday and the town of Beaverton, Oregon came up. Now, I'm nothing if not a 12-year-old boy, so naturally I was immediately reminded of this unbelievable but true tale.

Arcadia University is located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, not far from where I grew up. It was a popular college choice for girls graduating from my high school. But that's not what this story is about. This institute for higher learning has only been called Arcadia University since 2001.

From its founding in 1872 right up until 2001, it was called Beaver College.

(pause for laughter)

Beaver College was a women's college.

(pause for more laughter)

Beaver College was a Methodist institution and began life as Beaver Female Seminary.

(pause for getting up off the floor and collecting yourselves)

As you might imagine, the jokes became unbearable. In 2001, the name change was attributed largely to the fact that the college was being granted university status and thus was given a clean start. However, as then-president Bette Landman noted:

"[The name] too often elicits ridicule in the form of derogatory remarks pertaining to the rodent, the TV show 'Leave It to Beaver' and the vulgar reference to the female anatomy."

Nice effort with the rodent and the Cleavers, Bette. But stop frontin'. We all know why you changed the name.

The last straw fell upon the camel's back with the advent of the internet. Students conducting their college search online often found the Beaver College website blocked by the more enthusiastic content filters, and enrollment suffered. (It does sound like a lesbian porn movie, doesn't it?) Furthermore, parents were angered when search engines returned some rather ribald results for "Beaver College".

Sadly, the name really did have to be changed. Robert Frost was right. Nothing gold can stay.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mind Of Mencia

So I was walking on Sunset today and I passed the Comedy Store. I noticed some kind of book on the ground in the parking lot, so being the nosy SOB that I am, I investigated. You won't believe this, but it was comedian Carlos Mencia's notebook! I figured as a public service I'd show you a sample page so you can get a glimpse at how a real comedian develops his routines. Enjoy!