Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Do What I Want

The other day a friend of mine on the Facebook shared an article that was about the Facebook. I know, we're getting dangerously close to meta here but bear with me. The article was from the Huffington Post and was credited to I'm sure if I went to that website I could find out the author's name somehow but despite the high level of hatred I have for the imbecile that wrote this article that's just too much damn effort for me to put forth. Oh, here be a link to the article so you can read it for yourself before I eviscerate it.

OK, I'm going to assume that you read it, or at the very least glanced at it before becoming half as enraged as I was upon reading it.

I can't even begin to imagine what an insufferable human being the author of that steaming pile must be. Apparently the sole reason people are on Facebook is to entertain this waste of space. I thought the whole idea behind Facebook was for people to, you know, share things about their lives with the people they know in any goddamn way they please. If I want to use all of my status updates to put up pictures of food that's my prerogative. Same thing if I want to post petitions to impeach Obama, songs by Nickelback or passive aggressive snipes at people I work with.

I fully understand if all of those things annoy you a little bit if you were to see them on my wall. Of course, all you have to do is not read it. Or unfriend me. Or block me. Really, the options are endless if you are looking to ignore a person on Facebook. Which is where we get to the core of what really got my goat in this article. Why does anyone, especially this fool, get to tell me what I should or shouldn't do with my Facebook?

There aren't rules for things like this. People get to use it for whatever methods they want to. With me in particular I use it to pimp things that I have written, like I will definitely do when I post this blog, and also have you seen the awesome article I did about Gwar? It's dope. Sorry, I love self promotion. I also like to put songs that I've been rocking out to, pictures of outlandish things that are entering my body (food and or drinks, pervert), dick jokes, and little life updates that I think you may be interested in.

In the article the author dismisses almost all of these things as acts of great narcissism by the poster. They posit that if I'm actually happy about getting a new job I should only text/call/talk to the few people in my life who would care. Well, I'm sorry Mr. Uppity Writer, I've already done that with the people closest to me but I still think it's notable enough to share with my Facebook friends. It's not bragging and it's certainly not done purely to build up my own self esteem. I'm telling my friends, and yes I consider all of my Facebook friends to be actual "friends" even if I'm not particularly close to some of them, something that happened in my life. What's so wrong with that?

In the eyes of this author the only reason to put up pictures of a vacation a person went on is to make others jealous. Really? I thought it was to share pictures of a cool experience you had with people you know/care about. I'm a devious jerk from time to time but this writer assumes that every single thing a person does on the Internet is aimed at making other people feel badly.

This brings us back to my key point, who in the world makes up rules for what a person can post on Facebook? It's idiotic. Remember when Darren Rovell, possibly Northwestern's most insufferable graduate which is quite a claim to fame, decided to make rules about what people can and can't do on Twitter? The result? A ton of people hating him for being an elitist prick about something as silly as Twitter.

I am Facebook friends with people for one reason and one reason alone; because I like them. Well, and you can throw a couple of ex-girlfriends and people I'd like to make future ex-girlfriends in there that I like to creep on. . . . I'm kidding. Seriously, I like every one of my Facebook friends. I actually care about what people post most of the time and I would never think that they talking about their happy relationship merely to make me feel like shit about sitting alone shirtless eating a family size thing of hot and sour soup. I would assume they were doing so because they are happy and want to share that with their friends.

I've now written way too much about Facebook. Ugh. I guess the point that I want to leave with is this; I'm going to write whatever I damn well please on my Facebook. And I expect everyone else to do the same damn thing.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bummed Out by Bums

At one point in my life I was extremely generous to the homeless. Not naive, mind you, I didn't get suckered in by every sob story I heard or anything like that, but if I had some extra change I usually forked it over. The longer I lived in Chicago the more and more grizzled I got. A lot of this was out of necessity; if I gave a dollar to every homeless person I encountered I would have been joining them in begging for food money after a week or two.

Roughly 15 years of city living later and I find myself completely oblivious to homeless people. Other than the annoying ones outside of Trinity Church who are apparently still occupying Wall St I really don't notice when people are begging for money, and if I do notice I just quickly shake my head and keep going. The only reason I notice the occupy jerks is that they are always sprawled out on the sidewalk while I'm on my way to work and more often than not I have to step over one of them, if they weren't a tripping danger I probably would ignore them as well.

About a month ago I was walking home from work. As usual I was in my own world and sort of singing along to "Skate or Die" by Teenage Bottlerocket when a young lady asking for change stopped me in my tracks. She was sitting up against a wall with a sign that said something about needing to get back to Georgia. Next to her was an adorable but obviously underfed dog, you could see every single one of its ribs. The girl was looking up at me with the largest eyes I have ever seen, they would have been considered big for anime eyes, and my heart just broke.

I gave her the two dollars in my pocket, smiled, and kept walking. I couldn't get the image of her and the sad little pup out of my head, it was as if it was burned into my retinas. So, without really knowing what I was doing, I walked into the closest Duane Reade and started shopping. Twenty something dollars later I walked out with some dog food, some people food, a few assorted travel size toiletries and gummy worms. I went back and found the girl and gave her the bag and quickly took off before she could say anything.

This is the part of the exchange that I have been playing over and over in my head and getting really angry about. Why didn't I strike up a conversation with the girl? Or at the very least let her say thank you instead of shuffling off as fast as my little feet could carry me? Because I was ashamed is the answer.

I was ashamed, and more than a little angry, with myself for caring about this homeless girl and her puppy. Why you ask? Because she was cute. I knew in my mind, regardless of what I might try and convince myself of, that the only reason that I had gone out of my way to help this girl was because she was cute. If I wasn't attracted to her I would have just kept on going and not thought a damn thing about it, like I do with the other 5 to 10 homeless people I see every day. Yet I went way out of my way to take care of this girl, and her pup, entirely because I was attracted to her.

What the hell does that say about me? For my whole life I have tried to convince myself that appearance means very little in the grand scheme of things. I like to think that I am above base thoughts like that, that I am enlightened. But that's bullshit. I valued her life over every other homeless person I see walking to and from work for no reason other than when she looked at me with her enormous, sad, green eyes I was attracted to her.

If I was sitting down with someone having a conversation about homelessness I would talk about how I hope all of the homeless people could be taken in, that every person deserves to have a roof over their head and a meal in their bellies. Yet when I needed to put my generous thoughts into action I chose only to do so for a girl that I wouldn't have minded taking to dinner and a movie under different circumstances.

I can't understate how mad I was at myself about this, how it still eats at me. This is a way more personal entry than I would normally post on here, I recognize that. Yet if I have a blog dedicated to being angry and I'm angry at myself for being a hypocrite when it comes to helping homeless people I don't want to be a super hypocrite for not writing about how completely enraged with myself the situation made me.

The experience made me question whether I'm just as full of shit about every other thing I stand for. It made me think that I have no convictions, that I'm just a bunch of talk. When it comes right down to it I'm just a selfish prick like everyone else who will only act generously if I think there could be something for my benefit in the end. I know in my heart that none of this is true, but I still have been thinking it periodically since my encounter with the cute homeless girl. Against all odds my level of self loathing managed to kick it up a notch.

I'm a logical person, I know the real reason that I don't help every homeless person I meet is because I can't.  I make chump change and live in a damn expensive area of the world. I'm getting by comfortably but if I spent an extra five bucks every day on my way to work to help people out the electricity would be getting shut off in a month. I can't beat myself up over this.

So, I've moved on. Obviously, I'm still thinking about that girl a little bit. I gave half a sandwich to the ugliest bum on my way home the other day. It might not even things out, at least not yet, but I felt just as good helping out that hideous looking man as I did when I helped the girl. Maybe I'm not the heartless monster I feared.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Coffee Guy

I'm not exactly a people person. By that I don't mean that I'm a jerk or that I shun personal contact. What I really mean is that I rarely go out of my way to build any sort of rapport with random people that I encounter in my life unless I need to. If you're a coworker or a friend of a friend, sure, we'll talk a bit. If you're my upstairs neighbor who I already disdain for your bad taste in music, well, let's just say I'm going to do my best to keep my distance.

This also goes for people that I often buy things from. I don't particularly want the guy at Taco Bell to know what I like to order let alone my name or any details about my life. Basically I like to keep the people who sell me stuff as nothing more than a vending machine that says thank you and hopefully doesn't make pithy comments about the weather.

Despite all of this I let my coffee guy into my soul.

I didn't want it to happen because I knew the pain that I would endure when everything ended. Yet Coffee Guy broke me down. It might be the way he would greet me with "Good morning, boss!" on Tuesday through Friday. Nah, as much as I love being called "Boss" it was his Monday greeting that always got me.

"I made the coffee extra strong for you, boss. Mondays are a son of a bitch."

Yeah, Coffee Guy was the best. I say was because he has abandoned me. He disappeared without a trace. He has been replaced by a surly guy with a paper hat. My world has shattered.

The way I commute can probably best be described as sleepwalking. Sure, I'm completely dressed and "awake" from the minute I leave my house but in all honesty I'm not there. Not mentally. Hell, half the time I keep my eyes closed while going down the tunnel at the PATH because I know it by heart, I don't need the eyes, may as well trick my body into thinking we're back in bed.

The first time I feel really awake is when I get to my coffee stand. I chose this one because it was about two blocks from my building giving me just enough time to take a few enormous pulls on my large iced coffee which I pay two dollars for. Not $2.25 like the price says, $2 because Coffee Guy knows I never had change and he doesn't feel like making me take 3 quarters from him. Once again, Coffee Guy was the best.

Now I don't know what to do. I had to tell the new guy what I wanted, after a week Coffee Guy knew my order. New guy just threw the straw down on the counter with my drink and handed me a napkin; Coffee Guy put the straw in the coffee (leaving the top on so he doesn't touch the business end) and wrapped the napkin around the cup so that my hand doesn't get wet from condensation. New guy charges me full price, doesn't smile, didn't say thank you, and sure as shit would never call me boss.

I feel a need to go to every coffee stand in the city until I find Coffee Guy so I can beg him to come back to his old stand and make my mornings tolerable once again.

You know that scene in As Good as it Gets when Nicholson buys the fancy doctor to take care of the asthmatic kid so that Helen Hunt will go back to work? I always thought that scene was bullshit. I knew the idea was that Nicholson was doing it out of selfish reasons because he was OCD but I saw through that and knew he was going to be making a move on her eventually. No one would spend that much money, even if they were loaded, just to get their regular waitress to come back to work.

Now I get it. If Coffee Guy has been at home taking care of an asthmatic child I will cure that lil' bastard if it means that Coffee Guy returns to his stand. If Coffee Guy is in the clink I will gladly pay his bail, if he's had a falling out with the mob after betting too much at the turtle races I will pay his debt or let the mobsters break my knees instead. I will slay a fucking dragon with a nail file if the end result is Coffee Guy giving me my quarter discount on my delicious iced coffee tomorrow morning.

I know what you're thinking, you're thinking that I'm out of my mind and I should just get over it. Maybe strike up some sort of rapport with the new guy or just go to a different cart. I can't do that. I can't cheat on Coffee Guy. When it comes to coffee purveyors I'm a penguin; I mate for life, friend.

Also, if I were to strike up any sort of rapport with an asshole who wears a paper hat in public I'd kick my own ass. I have a little dignity.

Hopefully he just took the week off. If he's not there tomorrow I don't know what I'm going to do. Maybe find his new stand and start to convince my company to relocate. I'm telling you, it's worth it. The coffee is so good. . . or at least I wouldn't have to talk to a guy in a paper hat.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Move it, Zebra Ass!

I learned something about humanity this morning. Apparently people don't like it when you mutter under your breath, OK, maybe it was a bit louder than under my breath. Let me start over. People don't like it when you tell them, "Move it, Zebra Ass!" as you shove past them so as to not get run over by a bus.

This was not my fault. Zebra Ass was a heavy set woman who happened to be wearing a zebra print skirt designed for a slightly less heavy set woman. As she waddled to her destination she could not be bothered to pry her eyes off of her nook or iPad or whatever device she had that she shouldn't have been reading when walking down one of the busiest damn streets in America. From a half block away I could tell that she was going to be trouble, as could the rest of my wolfpack of commuters. I was just a split second late trying to move into a passing lane and I got stuck behind Zebra Ass.

Every day I encounter 4 or 5 people just like Zebra Ass and it is enough to drive me insane. I don't know how this happened to me but somehow I have ended up with a, gasp, job. A job that, double gasp, requires me to go to an office. An office, TRIPLE GASP, located in the financial district of New York City. I'm still utterly confused as to what exactly transpired to make this happen; last thing I remember I was stocking the "Bacchus" section at Nationwide with a tallboy of Old Style under the counter and Avail on the speakers. Now I work in the same building as Fitch Ratings. It's weird.

What's super rad though is that my commute has given me so many new kinds of people to hate. Enjoy!

After Work Sprinters: These guys only exist during my commute home. As we head to the PATH station at World Trade in a nice orderly group there is always some asshole who has to be weaving in between people, running into people and generally acting like if they don't make it onto the train right now all of the first born sons in America will drop dead. Here's the thing, the trains come every five minutes. When you miss the train you just sigh, take your turn in Words with Friends and, oh what's that? The next train is already here. There is no reason to run and act like a total ass. The only guy worse than this is the one who moves at the same super quick speed but is speed walking. It's pretentious.

Phone Addicts: Every morning I am shocked by the sheer volume of people who pull their phones out immediately after getting off of the train. The only thing more shocking is that half of these morons are so enthralled by their phones that they just stand still like their feet are stuck in the concrete. I run up the back of one of these people at least once a day. It's enough to make me think that people might need to evolve some form of brake light if we are expected to survive. Here's the really galling thing about these people, who is calling or texting at 8:15 on a Thursday? Not a single one of those calls can be even remotely important.

Slow Ricky Bobby: I have no idea why I couldn't think of a real nascar driver for this one so Ricky Bobby will have to do. These are the people who walk like they are guarding the lead in the last lap and they are already out of gas. They move insanely slowly but any time you try to pass they swoop down to block your way. They deserve to be actually run over.

Hooker Shoes: I had heard jokes about this before but I finally experienced it last week: I got to watch a very attractive woman dressed in clothes barely appropriate outside of the Diamond Club get her 3-inch heel stuck in a grate. It was hilarious. I actually didn't hate this at all. Heehee.

Tourists: I know that everyone in the world complains about the tourists in their city. I don't mind the tourists, hell, for the most part I like them more than the locals, at least none of them are Yankee fans. What I hate is that their favorite activity is standing the middle of the sidewalk 5 abreast while one of them looks at a map of the wrong city. If you are lost there are two acceptable things to do. 1. Keep going in the direction you were going and hope that maybe the world is like Dark City and your destination will eventually move so that it is in front of you. 2. Get the hell out of the way before looking at the map.

The Sandra Bullock: This one might confuse you because more often than not the Sandra Bullock is a man. I have nicknamed these as the guy who absolutely refuses to stop, kinda like the bus in Speed. These are the people that when cars are crossing the street he will walk out past everyone stopped on the corner and then maybe start walking up the street a little just so he doesn't have to come to a complete stop. These guys are morons and should be run over by steamrollers and then stomped on by the USC marching band playing "Louie Louie." (I can't believe that clip from Naked Gun isn't on YouTube, way to fail, America.)

Occupy Wall Street Urchins: Ugh. So, I walk past Trinity Church on my way to work. For those of you not in New York this is where the last dregs of Occupy Wall Street are hanging out. I hate these people so very much. I had the misfortune of walking past as one of them decided to air out their dreads as they hit me in the mouth with one of them. Politically we're on the same page.  Here's the difference between me and them; I understand that sleeping on the sidewalk next to a sign explaining why the banks are bad isn't going to change a single, solitary thing. Maybe when the movement was in full swing it brought a little bit of attention to issues the media might have otherwise ignored, but two years later all they are doing is pissing me off when I'm on my way to work. It's so stupid. Believe it or not no major change has ever come from doing nothing.

That's about it. Those are the brand new people that I hate in my new life of commuting. It's exciting. It's like Christmas every day. When I head back to work tomorrow I'm sure I'll find at least two new kinds of people to hate. Hooray!

Just like your favorite cold sore I have returned

Hey blog. April 17th was a long ass time ago. I can't believe that I have been neglectful of my pretty little blog for that long. I am the worst. Just a super quick life update and explanation then we'll move on to the hate in the next post.

Since April-ish I've been working a full-time big boy writing job. I write about politics for a lil' website called Actually, I have ended up writing about a heck of a lot more than just politics since I've been there. In the last week I have written about Star Wars, MLB Trade Rumors, a decapitated soccer ref, Jodi Arias having phone sex, the Texas abortion bill and Obama's love of broccoli. It's pretty fun and I actually like my job. I REALLY like my paycheck.

The bad thing about my job is that I'm spending 8+ hours a day sitting at a computer writing. When I come home I usually don't want to go right back to the computer to write a blog post even though I am often filled with rage. I normally just sit in my chair, watch Lizard Lick Towing and fall asleep with a Diet Dr. Pepper balanced precariously on my lap. I am a catch.

The point is that I have been missing my blog and I have been thinking a lot about stuff to write and always failing to do so. No more excuses, my damn fingers can deal with typing just a little bit more each day. Unless I get carpal tunnel. Then I'll get worker's comp. . . hello easy street! Just kidding, I have way more dignity than to ever say I had carpal tunnel. That's a made up illness, just like gluten allergies and Asperger's.

So, if you've made you've decided to join me back on the blog, mazel tov.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's time to admit that our government is broken

For a while I had a little bit of hope that this country was finally getting over our gun lust. After the tragedy at Newtown it looked like we might make some sensible steps forward in order to curb the absolutely insane amount of gun violence that we experience in this country. Over the last few weeks I slowly understood that I was being foolish and naive to think such a thing was possible. 

First the most extreme parts of the bill were gotten rid of; there would be no automatic weapon ban or ban on clips with an asinine amount of ammo. Never mind the fact that there is absolutely no reason to need an automatic weapon or a magazine with 30 or more rounds other than to kill a bunch of people as quickly as possible, people feel like limiting what type of gun they can possess in any way is unconstitutional. I'll address this argument in a bit.

After getting rid of the parts of the bill that had actual teeth there was bunch of discussion and some bi partisan agreement that a bill mandating tougher background checks should be able to pass. All this bill wanted was to simply make sure that someone wasn't crazy or a known stick up man before purchasing a gun. Background checks are widely supported by the American people. When I say widely supported I mean 90% OF PEOPLE SUPPORT BACKGROUND CHECKS. If the senators and representatives actually voted in a manner that reflected the beliefs of their constituents this this bill would pass in a second, no problem. Sadly that's not the way things work. Politicians don't work for the people, they work for special interest groups and whoever will give them the most money; and the NRA gives a fuckton of money. That's how every hope I had crashed to the ground today when the gun bill was basically taken out back and shot in the head.

Saying that congress should be ashamed of themselves is an understatement. Being unable to pass a law that 9 out of 10 Americans want shows that congress doesn't give a shit about the American people. All they care about is getting re-elected or possibly getting elected to a higher office. The entire premise of American government is based on the people who are elected acting in a way that best represents what the people who put them in office want. Sadly this is just something that kids are taught in civics class and not the way that things actually work. I don't know how a person can still have any faith in this government ever doing a thing correctly. Whether it be the flat out refusal of the two parties to work together, blowhards filibustering for no reason other than to make a name for themselves or the notion that basic civil rights are still an issue that people believe is up for argument there are a myriad of reasons you can point to in order to say that government is broken. I have been frustrated with President Obama from day one for his inability to get any of the things he promised done. Now I'm starting to see that it may very well be impossible for anyone to change a single thing in Washington, that getting any meaningful bills through congress is a thing of the past. This infuriates me. It makes me want to march on the capital with a pitchfork and a torch, although then people might think I'm going after Frankenstein.

The point is that it pisses me off. And it should piss you off too. It's disgusting that our government has been taken hostage by lobbyists and people with unlimited money to throw around until they get their way. It's fucking ridiculous and unacceptable that year after year gun nuts get their way while more and more people die. The fact that they won't even allow a common sense law mandating background checks just reaffirms every suspicion I have had that the NRA doesn't give one single fuck about human life. Over and over I hear the argument that criminals will find a way to get a gun despite background checks. Sure, that might be true but why not make it as hard as possible for them to obtain that weapon? If a background check saves one life, hell, if it saves one injury it is 100% worth it. Sorry, I care about human life and think that it's a pretty precious thing and that as a nation we should do everything we can to keep our citizens alive. Yet the NRA would make me sound like a radical for thinking that.

Lastly I want to take a second to talk about the Second Amendment. I seem to view it in a radically different way than most people do. I blame my ability to read the entire amendment and not just the part I want to read to further my agenda like some people. The second amendment reads as follows: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Let's focus on the first part for a second, the part about the militia. Guess what? We don't have militias anymore. We have the biggest and most expensive military in the world. To me this negates the second half of the amendment. Back in the day people needed to have guns because they were expected to use those weapons to defend the country when they got called up to the militia. Now? There is no need for it. So in my mind there is no need for people to have guns. I know this is an extreme point of view but I'm sick and fucking tired of reading about shooting deaths every single day in the newspaper. If people want to own automatic weapons I'm fine with that, just sign up for the army and when you're done serve in the National Guard, today's version of a militia. Do a duty for the country and earn the privilege to own a weapon. 

Of course I understand that this will never happen, it's a pipe dream of mine. I'm the extremist, I'm the radical, I'm the one with the crazy thoughts. Don't forget that. Wanting to save lives and not live in fear is a platform that will get voted down by congress, even if 90% of the public supports it. We're broken and something needs to change, now.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Absolute Least You Can Do

For the last couple of days I have been trying to do laundry here at my Fortress of Angertude. I know, it seems pathetic when a grown man says that he has been trying to do laundry for multiple days but the situation is a bit unique in my building. In a building of 8 units we have 1 washer and 1 dryer. That's it. So for the last couple of days whenever I have been ready to do laundry, or more importantly whenever I have remembered that I'm lacking any clean pairs of socks, the machines have been full. Grrrrrr.

I'm sure that I could take my laundry all of a few blocks away and have it done for super cheap but that requires a Herculean effort compared to shuffling no more than 15 steps from my bedroom door to the washers here. Plus I can hear when they are running so I know when I have a window to jump in. Eventually I get my turn and throw the first load in the wash with no trouble whatsoever. Above the washer the landlord has posted a sign stating; "Do not use Canadian Currency!" This cracks me up for a few reasons. First it makes me wonder if this was ever an actual issue. Was there some super cheap tenant who wanted to take advantage of the exchange rate while doing laundry? Secondly I sort of think that the sign absolves me of using any foreign currency as long as it isn't Canadian. I'm sure that I have some Hong Kong dollars, Colones or Yuan lying around that I can use next time I do the wash, maybe I'll give it a try.

After not too long I know that the washer is done and it's time to throw in the next load and throw the first load in the dryer. This is the point in our washing experience where the second sign that the landlord has posted comes into play; "Clean out the lint trap after drying!" As I am not a trusting man I decided to give it a check anyway. It was overflowing. Unless the person before was drying nothing but lint I don't see how it was possible that this came from only one load, it was as if no one ever emptied the lint trap. Ever. How frickin' lazy are people?!

Cleaning out the lint is the most minimal task I can imagine. It actually is the absolute least you can do. Since I am an anal retentive jerk insistent on proving to the world how much better I am than the unwashed masses I decided to time myself while cleaning the lint trap. In order to give people some benefit of the doubt I did not clean the lint trap quickly either, I did it as deliberately as I possibly could while sighing and acting like a snot nosed 7 year old told to clean his room. It took 9 seconds. 9 goldarned seconds. Yet I'm expected to believe that this was TOO MUCH TIME for some jerk in a hurry.

Yet every damn time I go to dry my clothes anywhere in public there is always a full lint trap waiting for me. Of all the courteous things that a person is expected to do on a daily basis this has to be the least taxing. I'd almost go as far as to say it takes more effort to not empty the lint trap. I'm sure people claim that they forgot but this is bullshit. There has never been a public dryer in the history of the world without signs reminding you to empty the lint trap, hell, a lot of dryers have them emblazoned on them. You will be reminded to clean the lint trap so often during the process of doing laundry that unless you are illiterate or the guy from Memento you are making a conscious decision not to clean it. I'm even willing to bet the Memento guy had it tattooed on his body somewhere, that's important life info.

So, come on people. Just make that tiny little bit of effort for 9 seconds and clean out the lint trap. Don't just do it for me, do it for you. Most importantly you should do it to keep from forcing me to place a live raccoon in the dryer with your clothes next time. Jackass.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Never Send Flowers

First off let's get it out of the way that taking romantic advice from me is like taking housing advice from Oscar the Grouch. Although one could make the argument that a garbage can really is the ideal place for him to live therefore he would actually be quite adroit at giving housing advice, but let's face it, he probably only knows garbage cans and who would want to live in a fucking garbage can? That being said, take the following advice with a grain of salt given my lack of expertise in the area.

NEVER SEND FLOWERS TO SOMEONE. I don't give a shit what the occasion is. Be it a birthday, an anniversary or to celebrate a successful colonoscopy sending flowers is a horrible decision. If you actually are going to visit the person feel free to bring flowers, flowers are not the issue here. It's the act of sending them from afar that I find distasteful. The thing that makes sending flowers such a catastrophe is that there are both short term and long term annoyances involved with this commendable act.

In the short term price is the principle cause of irritation. For starters every bouquet of flowers costs more than you would ever imagine possible for something inedible that will be tossed aside within a fortnight. Once you have recovered from this shock you will settle on the second cheapest bouquet available, since you are ordering from a website one could easily check up on you so you don't want to get the cheapest because you are classier than that. It is at this stage that you learn that the price originally quoted represents roughly 14% of what you will be spending.

  • Want a little card so the recipient knows who the flowers are from? 5 bucks.
  • Would you like some sort of receptacle for the flowers to sit in? Options ranging from 5 to 30 bucks.
  • Do you assume the recipient already owns a flower receptacle? Too bad. You are forced into purchasing one of the above options.
  • Would you like to throw in something else with the flowers? Maybe candy or fruit or your firstborn? 10 bucks to priceless.
  • Would you like the flowers to arrive within a week? 15 bucks.
  • Would you like the flowers to arrive within 2-3 days? 25 bucks.
  • Did you really fuck up and need them there posthaste? 40 bucks.
It's insane how many options there are. If I am forced to buy a flower receptacle can't that be quoted in the original price? I have no other option, same with the delivery. I'm not the cheapest guy in the world but I ain't exactly made of money. If I am sending flowers in the first place it's a pretty big deal so how about we be upfront with the cost. The way it is now I feel like Kobayashi after 40 or so hot dogs. I'm already committed so I can't go back, yet every additional dog I have to shove in my face is more painful than the last. Yet plod along we do and eventually the flowers are sent. Usually they arrive with great fanfare and all of the effort seems worth it.

Until the emails start coming in. I have sent flowers using both FTD and ProFlowers. I fled to ProFlowers after the horror that was FTD only to learn that I wasn't fleeing the horror at all, I was doubling down. You see, once they have your contact info they like to remind you to buy more flowers. Apparently I need to be reminded to buy flowers on an hourly basis. Even porn websites that I may or may not have perused spam me with less regularity. The regularity of the spamming is a little offputting, the specificity of the spam is damn right creepy. These emails make, how should I put this, assumptions. What they like to do is take the name of whoever you last sent flowers to and incorporate it in to the advertisement. So when you have recently broken up with someone and get an email telling you, "Don't you think that Hildegard deserves flowers this President's Day?" I find myself yelling, "Fuck no she doesn't!" at the computer. While such an email serves as pouring salt into a fresh wound it isn't something that you can't get over soon enough. It's an email I received in the run up to Valentine's Day that caused me the most distress;

"Do you want to guarantee yourself a hot and steamy Valentine's Day? Don't waste time and send a bouquet along with some mood enhancing chocolates to Martha today!"

Martha is my mother.

They could make a real killing if they offered an option for years of therapy with the price options after that doozy.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I must shower before this goes any farther

Showers. At their worst they are an essential part of life that you can plow through with minimal effort. Sure, there are times that I don't want to take a shower but I know that the world appreciates the days that I don't smell like a water buffalo carcass in mid July, so I jump in and wash myself quickly and ten minutes later I'm good to go.

That was the worst case scenario, when you are craving ten more minutes of sleep instead of showering. Yet when showers are at their best they are exquisite. When I'm suffering from one of my all too common hangovers few things in this world are as wonderful as resting with my head against the wall as water that is one half degree cooler than scalding slides down my back. The entire room fills with steam and each time I inhale I can actually feel the steam cleansing my brain of all the pesky headache causing hangover demons. In moments like this I believe that heaven is real and I must be there. Yeah, I like showers that much.

Sadly that is something I may never experience again. Well, at least I won't experience it for a damn long time. You see, my shower sucks ass. It is awful. It is not the worst shower on Earth, I'm sure, but it is far below what I would consider "acceptable." The awfulness of the shower is deceiving in a way. From all outward appearances it looks fine. The water pressure is more than sufficient. The shower is more than large enough. When you first turn it on it's pretty warm so you figure that in a few seconds the water will get hot and it'll be business time.

Nope. The water never gets hot. Ever. It starts out warm and never gets beyond that. I swear that the fucker is programmed to get to about 3 degrees below where it should be just to taunt me. If there was no hot water at all I could accept it. I would be unhappy but at least the shower wouldn't be toying with my fragile emotions. I've gotten in a fight with a shower before,* I'm certainly not above doing so again. Then to make matters worse the warm water doesn't last very long. You have to jump in and get your business done right quick unless you want to finish up in arctic water.

This all could have been prevented so easily, people should be encouraged to take showers when they are touring apartments. Seriously. Showers are a pretty serious part of a person's daily routine. A great shower can be just what the doctor ordered to kick you in the ass and get you going in the morning, a horrible shower forces you to start the day on the wrong foot. I should totally be able to throw my clothes to the floor and test out the shower before I sign anything. Yet I'm pretty sure every real estate agent or potential roommate would be so skeezed out by this that I would never be able to land an apartment. I just need to know if my needs are going to be met. Otherwise I'll be forced to adapt a routine where I rush through my showers cleaning only the essentials as I day dream about the next time I'm going to be in a hotel with unlimited amounts of scalding water. That's a sad existence, friends.

It's only through trying the shower first hand that I will know if it meets my lofty standards. Everyone wants something else out of their shower experience, I can't trust the word of others if I don't have a full understand of what they expect out of a shower.If I knew that the shower in this place was going to mind fuck me every morning into thinking it will reach hotness only to crush my hopes day after day I might not have lived here after all.** If only I had not been afraid of making a social faux pas when I first saw my place, if only I hadn't assumed that the shower would be as glorious as the one I had left behind in Chicago, if only. . .  Asking these questions only makes the pain worse. Please don't resign yourself to a lifetime of unhappy showers, be bolder than I was. So, next time you are apartment shopping just ask if you can try the shower out, maybe you can avoid making the mistake that I have.

*Back in college I was dating a broad who had a stopped up shower. For some reason she thought I would be capable of fixing it. So as a buddy and I tried to snake the drain we consumed mass amounts of Icehouse and Jameson. At a moment of frustration I just started screaming and punching the drain. I'm pretty sure I won the fight.

** This is total bullshit. My apartment is awesome. And affordable. And my roommate is totally rad. The only thing that would make her cooler was if she was willing to let me live here for free. I can deal with the bad showers, this place rules, but I needed to make a strong point, even if I completely negate the point in a footnote.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Everything Sucks for an aging punker

Way back in the day there was a little ska band called Reel Big Fish. Damn near all of my friends were going to see them play at the House of Blues in Chicago on a school night. It was near the end of the school year but my mom was unrelenting and wouldn't allow me to go to the show. I gave my buddy Jimmy a few bucks and he bought a shirt for me at the show so I could at least feel like I was cool enough to have gone. The shirt simply said "I Hate Reel Big Fish" in block letters across the front. As I was standing in the second row at the Irving Plaza in New York waiting for Reel Big Fish to take the stage roughly 16 years later I couldn't help but think about that shirt. While that shirt was obviously a joke I couldn't help but delve deeper into the sentiment behind it, at a couple of times in my life wasn't it telling the truth? Sure. Why Do They Rock So Hard? was definitely a disappointing album. And frankly I didn't really listen to any of the albums that followed it. They just seemed kind of crappy after that and with the exception of a few songs I never really knew any of their stuff, although I would throw on Turn the Radio Off from time to time. Then I got thinking of a bigger question:

Wasn't I supposed to hate Reel Big Fish? The answer to this is sadly yes, albeit for two very different reasons. The first reason being that they "sold out". The irony gets really thick when you accuse a band that became famous for a song mocking the idea of selling out of selling out but by definition it's true. They signed to a major label and appealed to the masses (for 15 seconds). The problem is that I think it's incredibly stupid to hate a band for selling out. It breaks my heart that the members of bands that I love have to work shitty jobs when they aren't on tour just to survive while no talent ass clowns like Flo Rida have a Rolls Royce in every color of the rainbow. I want to support my favorites in any way I can and hopefully provide a living for them by going to shows and buying albums. If a bunch of non punks like the new Bad Religion album it's because it's a fucking good album not because they compromised their values and turned their back on the scene. Hating a band because they become popular is idiotic. Sure, after becoming successful some bands will change their sounds in ways that I disagree with (Prime Example: The Offspring's Pretty Fly for a White Guy) and it will make me stop listening to them, but it's because I don't like the musical direction they are headed in. 

Which leads us to the second reason that I am supposed to hate Reel Big Fish; It has become accepted that punk/ska music is only for teenagers and that I am supposed to grow out of this phase. There is something about this kind of music that appeals to high school kids, I get it. What I don't understand is why it's suddenly supposed to be shameful to still like it when I'm older. As far as I can tell Losing Streak didn't change over the years, why should my opinion about it have to? If I had a dollar for every time I've had someone tell me that they used to like punk or ska music but out grew it I would have enough to by an original pressing of Minor Threat's Out of Step. Sure, some of the songs that I pumped my fist to as a teenager seem more than a little bit trite and juvenile as an adult. So what? Love me Do sounds like it was written by a 4 year old and no one ever says they outgrew The Beatles. Was I supposed to spend my 21st birthday by taking all of my Descendents and Bosstones albums to the record store and trading them in for the new Sigur Ros and whatever the fuck other band Pitchfork was praising that week? Fuck that. And I'm not trying to take anything away from Sigur Ros (who I enjoy) or indie bands in general; what I don't understand is why I have to stop liking one type of music in order to enjoy another.

With very few exceptions I never fall out of love with music. (The Spin Doctors are that exception) I might not want to listen to Sublime's self titled album every waking moment of every day anymore but I sure don't hate it either. Any time I hear it I think of all of the positive memories that I associate with it and enjoy the music. It's the same when I put on Goldfinger or Iron Maiden or Soul Asylum. It's all music that I got into a long time ago and I respect it as such. Any time I hear someone belittle the music they liked as a kid it makes me cringe. There was a time in my life when MU 330's self titled album was the most important record to me. I listened to it all of the time, knew every single word and went and saw them play live any time they were within 100 miles of me. During some of the darkest and loneliest times of my life that album comforted me. Seeing that band made me jump around with glee at a time when I wasn't sure I could even crack a smile. Yet now that I am 32 and my playlist has a heck of a lot more Black Keys than Black Flag I'm supposed to dismiss the music of my youth as a silly phase and that sickens me.  

It sounds corny but my love of punk and ska music is a huge part of who I am as a person. Bad Religion and the Descendents taught me that being smart and nerdy was actually cool. When I was heartbroken over a girl The Mr T Experience was there for me like a shoulder to cry on. The Vandals taught me that I could avoid talking about that heartbreak with a little white lie. When things actually worked out with the ladies The Slackers helped me feel suave. Mephiskaphales taught me that their really is no finer tuna in the sea than Bumblebee. Less Than Jake helped me understand that I was far from the only person desperately wanting to get out of their shitty hometown. The Suicide Machines told me what shoes to wear while NOFX told me which shoes I should avoid. I still carry all of this (relatively) meaningful information with me today.

I'm not ashamed of the music I love. Some of the best experiences of my life were spent covered in sweat (most of it belonging to other people) screaming along to bands in a shitty bowling alley in Chicago or at a VFW in the middle of nowhere watching a band no one outside of their area code had heard of tear the roof off the place. Seeing Slapstick play this September at Riot Fest to a crowd ten times larger than they ever drew when they were together was damn near a religious experience for me, I couldn't stop smiling for a week. Whenever I miss my good buddy Jimmy K I think of the time our hair froze after leaving a Suicide Machines show. I do a similar thing when I miss Foss except I remember when the Pilfers asked if he wanted to drop out of college to drive their van for them. And I can plug in countless other friends and countless other bands to get the same effect. If I laugh and belittle the music that was such an integral part of my most cherished memories what does it say about the memories themselves?

Which brings us all back to Irving Plaza the other night. In the days leading up to the show I had felt a little bit silly about going to see Reel Big Fish and the Pilfers and Dan P after all of these years. I knew that I was going to be close to the oldest non parent in the crowd, the only guy who was missing hair on his head for a reason other than fashion. Then from the second that Dan started playing an old MU tune on his acoustic guitar and I started belting out the words along with him all of that stupid self conscious bullshit faded away. I didn't give a shit what my friends and others thought about it, I was exactly where I wanted to be. 3 hours later I was screaming along to "All I Want is More" and throwing the bird in the air the way I wished I had been able to 16 years ago and I realized that the shirt was 100% correct, I do hate Reel Big Fish. I hate Reel Big Fish because they had that combination of goofiness and a catchy song that made them absolutely perfect one hit wonders. So when all of the people who latch on to the "next big thing" moved on beyond punk/ska they looked back on it with condescension and I was stuck here defending the music that I love. It gets pretty damn annoying to always have to defend that shit. I'm sure that some other band would have gotten people to jump on the bandwagon if RBF didn't and I'd be equally annoyed with them. I'll still go to their shows (which are great, by the way) and listen to their new album (which is the best they have put out since Turn the Radio Off in my humble opinion) and I'll always defend them. But I'm still going to use them as a scapegoat for my irritation about having to defend the music I love at my advanced age. I do already have a shirt proclaiming my hatred, why not make the most of it?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Don't Mess with Sriracha

I feel that it goes without saying that Sriracha is one of Mankind's top 5 achievements; the others being the wheel, harnessing fire, GoldenEye 64 and the forward pass. Some would laud Sriracha for the way it makes good food great thanks to it's just powerful enough kick and delightful flavor. Others would say that Sriracha is more impressive for the way it takes crappy and barely edible food and injects them with enough flavor to make it enjoyable. Both of these are true but I feel that Sriracha's true ace in the hole is it's versatility. Now, I have been told before that I have a wee bit of hot sauce addiction and I'm not disputing that but I am hard pressed to think of a food that is not enhanced by a wee bit of Rooster Sauce. Here's a quick list off the top of my head:

  • Asian food, particularly Pho
  • Soup
  • Pizza
  • Fries Mixing ketchup and Sriracha together is a little slice of heaven
  • Meat
  • Sandwiches
  • Latkes
  • Alcoholic beverages - Deliciousness awaits ===> SRIRACHA BEER!
  • Hot Dogs
  • Basically anything else
It's the greatest. I feel that over the years Sriracha has proven to us that it should not be trifled with, it is perfect as it is. Unfortunately the proprietors of multiple Chinese eateries in the fine city of New York disagree. They think that it is acceptable to water down Sriracha. It is not. Everyone knows this.

I went on a wee bit of a dumpling crawl this past weekend through Chinatown in NYC. It seemed like a fun way to get acquainted with the Dim Sum options that I have in my new area. Now, I must be honest, Sriracha is not my go-to when it comes to Dim Sum. I usually make a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and hot chili oil. At the same time I don't like to make trouble so I'll tend to make do with what is on the table. At a three of the places I stopped at Sriracha was the only hot option on the table. Three out of three times it was watered down. This was not a case of one place having lower standards or a rogue bottle of watered down Sriracha. This was not only a trend it was an abomination against the hot sauce gods.

Part of what makes Sriracha superior to Tabasco, Cholula and the like is it's texture. It has a thickness that the others don't. This not only adds a little complexity to the flavor but it gives it the ability to stick to food and stay in one place. Not when it's watered down. It just goes all over the damn place. I could find a way to adapt to that if I wanted to but I soon learned that there would be no point as the watered down Sriracha was completely flavorless. All it really did was dye the outside of my dumplings reddish. There was no spice. There was no delightful garlic flavor. There was nothing.The let down was monumental. It was like being given Super Bowl tickets and finding out that they were counterfeit at the gate.

I was left to ask myself who would ever allow for such an injustice. If Sriracha was expensive I could understand a restaurant attempting to cut corners by watering it down a little bit. The 28 oz bottle sells for about 4 bucks. It is one of the cheapest condiments out there. This leads me to believe that either the owners of the restaurants think they are improving the sauce by watering it down (impossible) or that they are so goddamn cheap that they must be cutting similar corners on everything. Therefore the chicken and mushroom dumplings I thought that I was enjoying were more than likely pigeon and newspaper dumplings.

There is only one solution to this problem and it is something that I have been considering for decades. I'm going to have to carry a holster with hot sauces. Although that seems insufficient, holsters usually only have room for two guns (or in my case sauces). I would probably have to go with Sriracha and Frank's in this instance, sadly I would be shit out of luck when in a Mexican place, there just wouldn't be room to carry Tapatio. Wait. . . I don't need a holster, I need a bandolier! We all know that bandoliers look totally badass, what if they were filled with delicious hot sauces? Boom. Problem solved.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I'm a McMoron

Jersey is a weird place. They have these things called "malls," you may have heard of them before. Kevin Smith even made a movie about them. I hadn't been to an actual mall for at least 8 years in this country before moving here. I said in this country because in both Hong Kong and Beijing seemingly every train stop is in the middle of a mall. It's sort of like a more infuriating version of how every museum makes you walk through the gift shop in order to leave. Well, in order to get to the PATH train here in Jersey City I have to walk through the Newport mall. Sure, I could probably walk around it but that would be backtracking and backtracking is the worst. I hate nothing more than backtracking. Nothing. I digress. . .

So I walk through this mall most days. Every time I am in the mall I walk past a McDonald's. The other day as I was walking past I noticed that the McRib has returned. HOORAY! Isn't it great that the McRib has come back? I found myself more excited about the McRib than I have been about most of my life's accomplishments; although I'm not sure if that says more about the McRib or my lack of accomplishment. I'm sure lots of people get excited about the McRib, Homer Simpson sure loved the knock off Ribwich. So here's the kicker, I don't like the McRib.

Actually that's not strong enough, I hate the McRib. I think it tastes like absolute garbage. It's all pressed together to look like ribs, which are inedible if you recall, so you have no clue what part of the pig it's even from. On top of that it's a well known fact that the McRib only appears when pork prices are relatively low so this makes me assume that it's made from assholes and neck fat of the cheapest pigs in town. The barbecue sauce is too sweet and the pickles taste like they have been scraped off of a men's room floor. The McRib is awful. Yet I have been programmed over the year to go bananas every time that it comes back.

I find that I have the same affliction whenever the Monopoly game returns. In years of devotion to the Monopoly game I have accrued somewhere around 4,390 Park Place pieces and absolutely nothing else that ever amounted to more than a free apple pie. Yet when I see that be-monocaled 1%er on a sign next to the kid touching clown every fiber of my being wants to buy a super sized meal so I have 4 chances to win my fortune. I don't want the food and I sure don't want most of the prizes, if I wanted a fucking Huffy I'd buy one.

Somehow I have been brainwashed by this silly corporation to do somersaults any time one of their "limited time only" specials comes up. Do you want a McRib? OK. Would you like it super sized to get two extra Monopoly pieces? Of course I would. Would you like to add a Shamrock Shake to your order? OF COURSE I DO. It's ludicrous. Why can't I get this pumped up about healthy food? Maybe I should start smashing all food into the shape of ribs and my pea brain will be none the wiser. This brainwashing has allowed me to keep my Grimace-esque figure.

No matter how hard I fight these urges I'm sure that the next time pork prices drop I'll find myself squealing in glee about the McRib's return, like the McMoron that I am.