Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Road Not Taken

I was talking with a friend last night about the old story that Hitler only turned to politics when he was denied admittance to art school. We wondered how the world might be different if only some art professor had been a little more enthusiastic about young Adolf's portfolio. After a little research, I discovered that many of the world's dictators and genocidal maniacs had a dream cruelly dashed before taking out their revenge on the world. A sampling:

Josef Stalin: Was a promising flautist before being demoted to second chair in the school orchestra and concluding that meritocracy sucked.

Pol Pot: Won championships at hundreds of quilting bees before his girlfriend left him over his obsession; soon decided that the arts were indulgent and vain.

Idi Amin: Enjoyed floral arrangement until he was drafted and subsequently ridiculed by his Army buddies; vowed revenge on everyone, saying "I'll eat your children!" decades before Mike Tyson did.

Benito Mussolini: Was an exceptionally emotive dancer until his career derailed when a late train caused him to miss an audition for the Bolshoi Ballet. A distraught Mussolini pledged to improve the efficiency of public services at any cost.

Kim Jong-Il: Harbored dreams of a career in the NBA; despite his outstanding defensive play, his diminutive stature limited his potential and he soon developed a Napoleon complex.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Love Letters

Last night I went to the movies. I went down to the parking garage of my apartment building and found two notes under my windshield wiper. Immediately I thought, "Oh great, someone hit me." Instead, I found some delightfully weird notes, which I responded to.

A-hole Note #1:
Management: Please be advised that I will be parking in my space tomorrow in the Evening (sic). Please let your son's girlfriend know so that she can make other arrangements. I've left 2 messages on the voicemail!
Thank you, A-hole in #306

A-hole Note #2:
Please move your car.

I was concerned that this person would park in my spot while I was at the movies, so I left a note of my own and taped it to the pillar adjoining my spot.

My Note #1:
To the person requesting that I vacate my own parking space:
I am not management. Barring a bout of amnesia and gender reassignment surgery, I am also not the manager's son's girlfriend. I am a tenant and I've lived here for eight years. And this is my parking space. I expect that when I return later this evening, my space will remain unoccupied. Regards, WWW.

In fact, my space was unoccupied when I returned. My note was intact. All that's left is to hope they don't key my car for being a wiseass.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Things I Would Apparently Rather Do Than Write In My Blog

Play Activision Ice Hockey over and over again until I can beat the computer 30-0 (I'm up to 26-2)

Watch episode after episode (after episode) of Pawn Stars

Break the world record for number of different ways to cook eggs

Not work on my screenplay

Compete on Dancing With The Stars*

Make voodoo dolls of Tony Romo and Jerry Jones

Socialize with friends (Dripping with irony, but true)

Become the first person to successfully read the entire internet

Stay up until 5:00 in the morning and sleep 'til noon

Watch my blog slowly die

Leave a flaming bag of poo on Jay Leno's front porch

Find a new job

Compile a half-assed list and pass it off as a blog entry

* Just seeing if you're paying attention

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Grading Christmas

In an effort to exploit the fact that nobody I know in real life is aware of my blog (unless I actually met them THROUGH my blog), I proudly continue my annual tradition of ungratefully...

Grading The Christmas Gifts

Mountain Man Dance Moves: The McSweeney's Book of Lists
This is a volume of strange lists from the editors of the periodical McSweeney's. Prior lists from McSweeney's are the inspiration for some strange lists I've had in my blog. I think this book, while hilarious, has the most white space of any book ever published. Despite a length of 224 pages, I finished it in the space of one cross-country flight with a layover. Also highly recommended is another McSweeney's book, Created In Darkness By Troubled Americans.

Grade: A

Phillies vs. Dodgers baseball tickets
As a Philly fan living in Los Angeles, I always try to see my teams when they come to town. Normally a tremendous gift. However, tickets for the upcoming season have not yet gone on sale. So the gift was offered with instructions to either buy the tickets when they go on sale and ask the giver for reimbursement or ask the giver for his credit card number to make the purchase. Which brings up the sticky situation of how much the giver intends to spend...tickets range from about $15 to well in the hundreds. Giving a gift might be stressful, but receiving a gift should be easy! The grade was adjusted accordingly for emotional distress.

Grade: B

Roll With You by Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves
This is a great CD by one of the finest current practitioners of 60s-style Motown soul. However, the reason it made this list is because of what my brother said when presenting the gift. "Whatever the hell this shit is, Merry Christmas."

Grade: A

Under Great White Northern Lights box set by The White Stripes
For the obsessive fan in your life. The box contains a documentary, a live DVD, a live album (on both CD and vinyl), a hardcover book, and a silkscreen print. The White Stripes' emphasis on art direction has never been put to better use. It doesn't arrive until March, but I've already had several wet dreams about finally clutching it to my bosom. Technicality: Because it actually hasn't been released yet, I pre-ordered it with Christmas money. So the credit for actually choosing the gift (and for the excellent grade) belongs to me.

Grade: A

Atari 2600 Video Computer System
Yes. The original. The best game system ever devised - save it, Nintendo apologists. My parents are moving, and when I was home for the holidays we cleaned out the attic and found about 30 Atari game cartridges from way back in the day. I immediately decided to take them home with me and find an Atari 2600 system. It should arrive any day now, and I couldn't be more excited. The Christmas that my brother and I first received the Atari, back in 1979 or so, we hardly got to play it. All my aunts and uncles (most in their 50s, mind you) who came over for dinner became enchanted with Freeway, a Frogger-like game in which you are a chicken trying to cross the road. We barely touched the prized gift until the next day. This remains one of my family's favorite Christmas stories. Technicality: Another gift purchased by me with Christmas money.

Grade: A+ (if it works)

Donald Duck Skydiver
My father instituted a new Christmas tradition once my brother and I became adults. He goes to the dollar store every year and gets each of us a toy so that there are still toys given out at Christmas. I got a Donald Duck figure with a plastic parachute. Of course, I immediately went out in two feet of snow to see if it worked. If you wrap it loosely, it really works. If you wrap it tightly, Donald is a stain. To my chagrin, the packaging did not explain the dramatic events that might have required Donald Duck to jump out of an airplane. I guess for a dollar you can get a toy, but not a narrative.

Grade: B

If any of you would like me to grade your Christmas haul, simply email me the list of gifts you received and I will be happy to heartlessly quantify how well you did. Consider it my gift to you.