Thursday, September 6, 2018

The One in Which I Finally Shed the Last of My Dignity by Going to a Cookie Dough Parlor

It is no great secret that I have a whole trunk full of neuroses, one could argue that this blog wouldn't even exist if it weren't for my habit of becoming enraged at the tiniest things. Today I was bitten by one of the stupidest of my compulsions—my need to try every single novelty food on the planet.

This idiocy of mine has been documented on here in the past, but it always seemed like a silly little hobby. It was after today's decision to walk into a trendy shop and order a cup of cookie dough that I fully understood that it's an addiction. A Sriracha infused beer was the equivalent of stealing a couple of PBRs from the fridge in the garage. The Halloween Whopper was the first time I understood the smell of Otto's Jacket. And the KFC DoubleDown was like taking down a couple of lines in a dingy dive bar bathroom. To continue with the drug metaphor, buying a cup full of cookie dough for $5.25 was like spending an hour trying to find a vein before injecting a speedball so massive that it could kill a whale. 

What I'm trying to say is that there is no way to debase myself any further. I've hit bottom. 

I first heard about the Dough Life a couple of weeks ago. At first I assumed that it was a joke. The mall already had a macaron kiosk, not to mention TWO Auntie Anne's, so this seemed like a perfectly believable bit of bullshit that a friend was spinning just to bait me into seeking it out to no avail. But it's all too real. 

I spotted it a week ago, guffawed about it and planned on going about my days. But it was too late, the seed had been planted. I couldn't help but think about it. What kind of flavors do they have? What sort of wacky twist have they thrown into the operation? How much could such a delight cost? What the hell kind of people actually go to such a place? 

As much as I wanted to mock the place and never set foot inside of it, curiosity was gnawing at me. Walking through the mall this afternoon on my way back from the bank I couldn't fight the urges any longer. I needed a fix. 

The shop was empty save for a middle aged worker behind the counter. This guy seemed way too surly to be working at an operation fueled by whimsy, although that may just be my projections. I expected my order to be taken by some amalgamation of Willy Wonka, Barney the dinosaur and Fozzie Bear. What I got was a normal human working a thankless job for too little pay, or possibly the owner of the store slowly coming to the realization that he should have dropped his money into a Souper Crackers. Off to a bad start. 

There were a bunch of options to choose from—classic chocolate chip, cake batter, brownie, a neon green abomination entitled Mint Dynasty, M&Ms, a bullshit red velvet concoction because every goddamn food needs to come in "red velvet" nowadays. The problem was that none of them aside from the chocolate chip looked like something you would eat on purpose. It looked like the kind of paste the hero would mix with blue milk to create a nutrient rich hunger slurry in a dystopian sci-fi movie. Looks aside, I was already committed and ordered a small cup of the chocolate chip.

It is difficult to put into words the profound and crushing shame I felt before even placing my spoon in the cup. Suddenly my biggest fear in the world was no longer truck-sized spiders, instead I was petrified that people would see me about to cram cookie dough into my maw. They really should think about setting up little booths, like a confessional, that let you anonymously order your cookie dough, eat it and then step through the other side out of a door that says "Organic Health Food." 

I like cookie dough. I always used to line up to lick the spoon when my mom had put a fresh batch of cookies in the oven, just like every other kid. In high school some of us that weren't drinking used to go on cookie dough runs during house parties, mostly because it was absurd, but also because biting off a chunk of a tube of Pillsbury was a delicious treat and a great way to spread herpes among friends. Even with that caveat, I learned that I don't actually want to eat a fucking cup of cookie dough. 

The dough was room temperature, not hot or cold. It felt like it should be one or the other, instead it was just in the middle, like it couldn't commit. It tasted fine, no real qualms about the flavor. But the consistency was terrible, like eating play dough. Which, I guess it kind of is, but you know what I mean. It was after about three bites that I was hit with The Thirst.

No mere sip of water could conquer The Thirst, it would require a goddamn keg of water. It was as if the dough had absorbed every drop of moisture in my body, leaving my mouth dryer than the Gobi. 

A verdict had been reached: designer cookie dough is terrible and I had made a terrible mistake. The only problem was that I still had about 79% of the cup to go. I'm a frugal man, I don't throw away food, no matter how terrible it tastes. I dove in for another bite and decided that I was going to get my $5.25 worth, the consequences be damned. As the bite hit my tongue I was hit with a second, even stronger wave of shame. What the fuck am I doing?

I threw out the rest of the wretched dessert, flipped it the finger for good measure and walked home with my head hung low. I got home, threw on my Nikes (daps, Kap) and went to the gym. I ran as hard as I could (which most would probably call "jogging") for as long as I could (about the length of a Parks and Rec episode) until I felt like I was gonna hurl that disgusting shit all over the gym floor. Then I pulled back a bit and finished working out until the shame subsided. 

Long story short, don't eat novelty bullshit just because you're bored. Mall cookie dough scooped into a paper cup by a depressed man was never going to give me the shot of nostalgia that I was craving, but I chased it nonetheless. I guess the bright side is that I'll never be tempted by it again. And it didn't turn my shit green like the Halloween Whopper. Yay? 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

I Hate Sean Archer or 1400 Too Many Words About Face/Off

Nicolas Cage has become a laughingstock at this point in his career, and while it pains me, I fully understand why. I see the memes, I giggle at them, I even yell "Beeeeeeeeeeees!" from time to time. Hell, I saw his fall coming way back when I stayed up until 2 in the morning to watch Zandalee on HBO as a kid. But let's not forget the phenomenal work that Mr. Cage has done throughout the years, from Raising Arizona to Leaving Las Vegas, for example. Most importantly, he appeared in the greatest three action film run in modern history—The Rock, ConAir and Face/Off.

Yes, in 1996 and 1997 Cage was in those three films in a row, each one more fantastic than the last. Today we're going to focus on Face/Off and my major problem with it. Now, I'm not saying that it isn't a great movie, it really is one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies of all time. But, after watching it last night I have some major beef with it that I must have choked down and ignored for many, many years.

There is no hero in Face/Off. Now, director John Woo, the writers and every actor in the film probably thinks that this is an idiotic hot take and that FBI superagent Sean Archer (played by John Travolta before the faces come off and get swapped and all that hullabaloo) is clearly who we are supposed to be rooting for.


Archer is one of the least likable characters to ever grace the screen and at no point am I ever rooting for him in the slightest. It's not that I'm rooting for Castor Troy, even if he has that awesome case of accoutrements presented to him after he steps out of a car with his dope duster blowing in the wind. He wants to blow up a bunch of Supreme Court justices and half of LA, which I just can't find myself getting on board with. So this isn't a rooting for the bad guy situation, it's that I completely hate and fail to have any empathy for the good guy.

Some of my reasons are petty/trivial. Others are pretty goddamn glaring personality flaws that I just can't let go. Without any further ado, let's break down why Sean Archer sucks.

His obsession over capturing Castor Troy has destroyed countless lives
If we learn anything from the opening 15 minutes of this movie it is that Archer will do absolutely anything to get Castor Troy. Motivated by revenge after Troy murdered his son, we understand why this case is important to Archer, but good lord is he reckless. From the second he is screaming in Margaret Cho's face about taking a break when the case breaks, we know that he is a horrible ball buster of a boss, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. In quick succession he plays chicken with a jet, steals a helicopter and crashes it into said jet, and gets in a huge shootout where lots of feds die. The next day when the coworkers that survived want to take a second to revel in the success, Archer fakes sympathy for the ones who passed. Dude, it was your reckless cowboy act that got all of them killed, and something tells me this was far from the first time this sort of shit had gone down. I'm guessing there's an entire wing of a secret FBI cemetery filled with men and women who had the misfortune of working for Sean Archer.

That weird face thing is beyond creepy
Families tend to have little traditions and idiosyncrasies that seem strange from the outside looking in. For example, I sometimes call my mom "Ship." This is short for "Mothership" and is something I started when I was obsessed with aliens as a wee one. As odd as this may be, it is light years more normal than that weird hand/face shit that Archer does with his family and the random child of his archenemy (much more on that later). I don't know about you, but I never want anyone's hand up in my grill. Especially not my dad's. It's disgusting. Why do you think rubbing your hand down my face is a sign of fucking affection? My stomach churns every single time it is done in the movie. There is no way the man that does this to his family is in his right mind, this is the act of a crazy person. Another strike against Archer.

Archer's morals fluctuate wildly 
Every single movie involving an undercover cop has the some variation of the exact same scene—shit's going down and our hero can't bring himself to kill the other cop. It lets you know that the hero is still good deep down and that we should be pulling for him. Archer, on the other hand, does a really shitty job at this. There are two examples of him saving fellow "good guys" in the heat of action—when he makes Dubov let two guards go in the prison break and when he knocks out his buddy and shoots in the ground during the raid at the drug dealer's really sweet loft. But here's the problem, Archer is killing motherfuckers left and right within seconds of both of these actions of mercy. He threw fucking sulphuric acid at a couple of guards and shot the bottle, not exactly the actions of someone trying to save his fellow boys in blue. Sure, they show him shoot a couple people in the feet or legs, but he also guns down folks indiscriminately. Another sign that Archer is only out for his own mission of vengeance and not worth rooting for.

Archer treats his daughter like shit
It's not that he's just trying to give her some tough love, he's a complete asshole. He doesn't care at all about what she is going through with the death of her brother, he just makes her feel like garbage as she struggles to deal with her feelings. I wish she didn't shoot wide and gave this film the ending it really deserved.
See how cool Jamie is, she has a Voodoo Glow Skulls poster!
Archer has zero chill whatsoever
It's remarkable how terrible Archer is at being a cop. Remember back in the prison when our supposed hero was posing as Castor Troy and getting the info about the bomb out of his brother Pollux? The dude gave up the ruse within .8 seconds of finding out where the bomb was. Wouldn't it have been useful to, oh I don't know, wait until he was out of the fucking underwater secret magnet prison before turning on his one ally?

He's a real buzzkill to do drugs with
I don't feel like I need to belabor this point any further.

Dude is a terrible person to go on a date with
In order to win over Eve and let her know that he is really her husband with some other dude's face on, Archer tells the story of their first date. And it sounds, to be kind, horrific. Here's the explanation in its entirety: "I was thinking the other day, I remember I once took a date out for surf and turf, not knowing she was a vegetarian, so she ate bread and broke her tooth on a rice seed. We drove around all night, looking for an all night dentist, and he was so drunk he fixed the wrong tooth, when I finally brought her home, even though it must've hurt like hell, you kissed me." There is so much terrible to unpack here, but on the bright side, at least he tried to kiss her instead of doing that fucking hand/face thing.

Archer treats orphans like they are lost puppies
This is my number one beef with Sean Archer. After he gets his regular face back on his grill, but strangely doesn't fix the butt chin, he shows up at home with a kid and asks his traumatized wife and daughter if he can keep him. This is so fucked up. The fact that the kid is the same age as Archer's dead son, and looks a bit like him, barely even scratches the surface of what's wrong here. How in the name of God did Child Services let him skip the entire bureaucracy and just waltz home with the kid that he orphaned?! Archer killed, or at least was responsible for the death of, this kid's parents. Don't tell me that isn't going to lead to some awkward family dinners once he hits his teens.

All of this being said, I absolutely adore Face/Off. It is probably my favorite of the Nic Cage Trilogy of Awesomeness© even if I'm actively rooting against the hero. Somehow I managed to write over 1500 words about Face/Off without once mentioning that the incredibly forced joke about having a stick surgically removed from Archer's ass is one of my favorite uncomfortable movie moments of all time. Kudos to you, Margaret Cho! Do yourself a favor, dear reader, grab yourself a peach and fire Face/Off up on the Netflix machine right now.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Food poisoning isn't that bad after all

A couple of weeks back I got hit with a bout of food poisoning. It was terrible. I could write at least 10,000 words on the unspeakable horrors that violently burst out of my body over a 36 hour period that felt like an eternity, but where's the novelty in that? Everyone knows that food poisoning is awful, even if they haven't recently experienced the Sophie's choice presented by "coming out both ends." What I quickly learned was that sometimes the cure is just as bad, if not worse, than the sickness.

Now, a little bit of background on my specific case. I got sick two days before I was scheduled to go on vacation. To Oregon. Portland happens to be a six hour flight away from beautiful Jersey City. It would be enough of a nightmare scenario to be ON a flight with a passenger whose insides are attempting to flee their body with ferocious force, being that person is perhaps my greatest fear. And this isn't even factoring in the great dread this fat man has for airplane bathrooms. Thus I took some drastic measures to ensure an event free flight.

The first measure I took worked out wonderfully and had no side effects whatsoever. I moved my seat back to be on the aisle in the second to last row. This way if something horrible was about to come up I would be as close as possible to the bathroom, and the bonus was that there was no one in the middle seat so we could stretch out like rockstars. It was glorious. And no problems occurred. Which brings us to...

The second thing I did was take Imodium AD. A double dose of Imodium AD since I had made roughly 34 separate trips to the bathroom in the previous 36 hours this seemed like a safe bet. Instead it catapulted me into a hell that I did not imagine was even possible.

Now, first off, all props to Imodium. It works. Too well. To say that it completely shut down my digestive system would be the understatement of the century. One moment the contents of my body were flowing freely like Niagara Falls, the next it was as if the river just turned off.

At first this was a welcome respite from the way that I had spend the previous could of days. It was nice to be on vacation and seeing things other than the beautiful lavatories of the Pacific Northwest. Then I started to feel the pressure. I don't necessarily mean physical pressure, that would come soon enough, but I mean more of a mental pressure about not going. I'm a fairly regular fella, I have a schedule when it comes to these things, and I like to adhere to that schedule. So when we entered day two of a closed shop I started to freak out.

I felt like I had to go constantly. But every time I tried, nothing. Nada. I started to believe that I was doing something wrong. This process that I have been doing for my entire life, often with great aplomb, had become an unsolvable mystery to me. There was nothing I could do to just make it happen. This was the strangest and most infuriating crisis of confidence that I have ever had.

By day four every time I went to the bathroom with nary a nugget to be flushed I felt I walked away feeling depleted and worthless. Since I felt fine, meaning the food poisoning had clearly passed, I was eating like a normal human on vacation. On the Oregon coast this means a lot of clam chowder, fried seafood and a decent amount of IPAs — all of which usually grease the wheels of the system for me. Yet, nothing. By this time I could feel that I was approaching full capacity.

Finally, on the morning of the fifth day I woke up to the most glorious rumble in my stomach. With the zeal of a small child on Christmas morning, I leapt from my bed and ran to the bathroom. I don't need to tell you what happened next in great detail, but let's just say that it was one of the truest feelings of pure joy that I have ever experienced.

Pure. Unadulterated. Joy.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Hardest Part of Being a Premier League Fan in America

I don't know if you've noticed this, but there are a shitload of different sports teams to root for in the United States. There's baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, arena football, professional lacrosse, American Gladiators, ultimate frisbee and the most American sport of all, competitive eating. Not to mention a college and minor league version of goddamn near every single one of those sports. The point being, there are hundreds of American sports teams that I could root for and follow, why the hell would I turn my attention to a soccer league in Europe? 

To put it the most succinctly — because it's awesome. I sincerely love the Premier League and Tottenham, even if it can be a pain in the ass to be a fan. There is the constant need to explain to people (like my father) why I like soccer in the first place. There is the annoying time difference that leads to way too little sleep on Saturday mornings and the awkward situation of explaining to your boss why you are screaming at a computer in the office during what seems like a typical Wednesday afternoon. There is the complete insanity of the transfer windows that I have yet to fully grasp. There are the insanely tight fitting jerseys that are not flattering for a portly man such as myself, to put it mildly. But all of these are simple annoyances, nothing to get too upset about. The thing that drives me nuts is the complete blind devotion that many fans have toward their club*. 

As I dive headfirst into my Tottenham fandom, which admittedly I chose haphazardly as a young man wanting to embrace something new and have doubled down on that fandom the last few years, I've been spending a lot of time on Reddit and Facebook interacting with other Spurs fans. And almost every single person that posts does so from the point of view that we need to support the team 100% at all times and with full trust in every decision made by the team. When someone questions a decision that Pochettino has made people jump on it and attack the person for not being a true supporter. When someone says that Llorente has been shit this year (because he has), they are met with multiple people telling them to take their support to some other team. To me it is all very... bizarre. 

It really is a completely different way of approaching the idea of being a sports fan. As a Chicago sports fan, I've always looked at my beloved teams with a bit of skepticism. Yes, I cheer for them full-heartedly every single game, but I still know in my heart that Dollar Bill Wirtz was a shitty owner that cared nothing about Blackhawks fans. Or that the McCaskey family has often been too cheap to sign the right players to turn the Bears into true title contenders. These are just opinions that you would argue about with other fans over a couple of Old Styles. 

Take the Mitchell Trubisky draft pick. My buddy Joe (the biggest Bear fan I know, in both height and passion) absolutely loved the pick and had no qualms about trading up for it. I liked Trubisky well enough, but thought they gave up way too many draft picks when the fall back option was Deshaun Watson. We talked about it, raised our voices a bit, someone may have been called a jagoff but then we moved on. But this was just a conversation that we have as Bears fans. Neither of us screamed that the other should be a Packer fan and they need to support the team 100% or get the fuck out of here. 

I guess in some ways this is why English fans identify themselves as "supporters" instead of "fans." It just feels strange to me. I like to critically think about my team. I like to dissect the stupid personnel decisions, tactical missteps and sloppy play. Part of being a Spurs fan, to me, is being able to talk with my friends (or on Reddit, Twitter, etc.) about how terrible Dele has looked in the final third this season and pondering if he'll ever get his finishing touch from last season back. I should be able to do this without some asshole named KaneIzAble10 telling me to root for the fuckin' gooners, dammit. 

I'm sure that over time I'll adapt to this different way of thinking, just like I've adapted to thinking that draws aren't the end of the world (except when they are against Swansea). Or, at the very least, it'll just annoy me a little bit less. But for now it makes my blood curdle every damn time I see that over optimistic refrain of "Trust the team! Be a real supporter for life!" When I really think it should be, "Put the goddamn ball in the net against fuckin' Southampton you shitheads!" 

All this complaining aside, the songs are badass. We need to bring songs into the fan repertoire over here. I mean, who doesn't love this?  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The word "shithole" is not the issue here, dude.

I always thought that by my advanced age of 37—I'd be long dead if I was an ancient Roman—that I would sort of understand the world that I live in. But, nope. Every single day I find myself slapping myself on the forehead in complete astonishment at the idiocy all around me. Many times, not surprisingly, it is my nation's politics that force this frustration. It truly is a miracle that Donald Trump's presidency hasn't caused me to develop a Wesley Willis-esque head callus from all the head slaps. It's one thing after another with him, the latest circus is based off of his use of a certain vulgarity.


Now, I could go off about what a disgrace it is to have a sitting president make such a clearly racist comment about an enormous chunk of the planet. I could get on my pedestal and lecture you about how this is a nation made up of immigrants and that I believe we should welcome them with open arms. But that's not where I'm going with this, at least not today. A lot of other people have already made these points far more eloquently than I would.

What I want to talk about is how pathetic it is that so many people in the political sphere, particularly in the GOP, are clutching their pearls about the specific word that was said. Some are saying that Trump didn't say it at all. Others are saying that they heard him say "shithouse," as if that is some type of improvement. And others, like DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, simply say that they heard "rough language." All of a sudden we are having a fight over whether or not Trump swore. And if he did swear, we're arguing about how he swore and if others joined him in the profanity parade. Who gives a flying fuck?

I understand that words have meaning, like you, I've heard the cliché at least 10,000 times, but it is idiotic to go back to our Puritan roots and tremble over the specific word used. The point of the statement made by the president was that he believes immigrants from Africa and Haiti are undesirable for our nation. That they are worth less than immigrants from Norway are. Whether he did this by calling Africa a "shithole" or by saying that "African countries are economically disadvantaged and immigrants from those nations negatively impact the American economy," the meaning is exactly the same.

There has always been a lofty standard about what it means to be "presidential," and I've heard the argument that using such coarse language violates this standard. And here I find myself defending Cheeto Jesus, which makes me horrifically uncomfortable. I do not care if the president swears. This didn't happen during the State of the Union, it was during a closed door meeting, and in that context I don't really care what language the president uses. I care about what he means, but I don't particularly care how he makes the point.

For example, I strongly believe in universal health care. Imagine if Bernie Sanders had an outburst during a senate meeting where he said, "Listen here, bitches. We're going to pass the best goddamn health care bill in the fucking world for all those uninsured motherfuckers scared shitless about going to the doctor."  Would this do anything to change my belief in universal health care or the faith I have in Sanders to fight to make it a reality? Absolutely not. I might sigh that he opened himself up for attacks by calling his fellow legislators bitches, but the language wouldn't be the point, just like it's not the point here.

Any thinking person can see that this whole kerfuffle is just to distract us from the reality that Donald Trump is a racist that semi-secretly wants to deport all of the Dreamers. And if he had his druthers we all know he would cut off all immigration from any country that isn't as lily-white as Norway. We all know this and have known this for quite some time. So, can we please move on from the shithole nonsense and secure a future for the Dreamers, renew CHIP and make sure that we don't build that idiotic wall? Thanks.