Monday, August 30, 2004

Butterscotch Brownies

In my culinary self-education, which isn't as dirty as it sounds, I've been spending a lot of time baking brownies. They're just the easiest things in the world to cook; if you can stir, you too can make brownies.

Butterscotch Brownies

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 8 oz. butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
Combine the brown sugar and butter. Stir. Add in the egg and vanilla extract. Stir. A lot. Finally, add the salt and flour. Stir. Pour the batter into an eight-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Lick the bowl, spoon, rubber spatulae, and electric mixer clean.

The wonderful thing about something that takes zero brain cells to cook is that it takes very little to inspire me to get baking. I'm becoming quite the expert on brownies and brownie-like confections, or at least as much of an expert as one who's baked four batches of brownies can be on the topic. I'm even starting to deviate from the cookbook and experiment; today I added unsweetened chocolate to the butterscotch brownies (1 ounce, melted together with the butter already in the recipe) to dull the saccharine sugar rush from the pure molasses forming the brownies.

Next up:

Whiskey brownies

  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 8 oz. butter
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup bourbon, Scotch, or other whiskey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract and/or ½ tsp. almond extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp. flour

Combine the choclate and butter, and melt them together in the microwave. Add in the egg, whiskey, and vanilla extract. Stir. Add in the salt and flour. Stir some more. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Lick the bowl, spoon, rubber spatulae, and electric mixer clean, getting sloshed in the process.

Fact is, I'm just looking for an excuse to go out and buy some booze.

I can't leave well enough alone, so I'm planning on deviating from the recipe in the book by just a little bit. Instead of straight whiskey, I got the idea of using Bailey's Irish Cream... but first I had to do a little bit of research. For example, I needed to find out what the hell Bailey's Irish Cream actually is, aside from a liquor that's approximately the same color and consistency as an enema. I hadn't drunk Bailey's in three or four months, and all I remember from that experience was thinking, "This has a pretty sweet, creamy taste and texture," and then, "OHMYGOD, MY THROAT IS ON FIRE!!!!" So, a naif, I headed over to the Bailey's website for some info.

Now, before Bailey's will give you the info you need, they want to promote responsible drinking, so there's a little form to fill out — your country and birthdate — I shit you not. Like no one's going to be able to fool this thing. Even though I'm over twenty-one, and even if I weren't, it's not like there's anything illegal about looking at liquor, I told them I was born on May 22, 1975. I wasn't carded or anything. (Hint: if you go to the Fanwood liquor store and tell them you're using the booze for cooking, they don't card you either.)

And so you log on to the Bailey's website, and the first thing you notice is that there's a sweepstakes. They're giving away a car. Yes, that's right, because they care so much about responsible drinking. Boy, I sense an ironic crime happening in the future. Anyway, long story short, it turns out that Bailey's = whiskey + cream, so we're cool there. Not sure how the cream is going to affect the brownie chemistry, but life is full of risks.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Back in book seven of Plato's Republic, the Core Curriculum darling writes about censorship for the good of the city-state. In Plato's utopia, he outlaws sappy, weepy love poetry — it turns the citizens into a bunch of kolpoi — and for reasons known only to classicists, he also bans music in the Lydian and Phrygian modes.

Now, I've listened to Z100, "New York's Number One Hit Radio Station," to find myself in complete agreement with Plato's analysis. You've gotta understand that amidst the incredible variety of similar-sounding songs that define Top 40 popular music, there's a surprising paucity of non-sucky songs. And Z100 makes a point of never playing one of them. Instead, Z100 plays Ashlee Simpson approximately nine-hundred times a day, only pausing for screaming used-car salesman commercial breaks. When I become world dictator, this is going to stop.

Sorry, insipid people who still hold up signs outside MTV's studios when "Total Request Live" is filming, even though Carson Daly has been replaced with some random guy. When I'm in charge, we'll be corralling you and putting you to use as human speedbumps.

What I don't understand is why the hell anybody even considers listening to, much less paying for, this Ashlee Simpson crap. What's going through their incredibly dense minds? "Well, she sounds like she's in desperate need of a lozenge, but her sister doesn't know the difference between tuna and chicken. That's gotta be worth eighteen dollars and change."

I bring all this up because I was listening to Fordham's radio station, WFUV 90.7 FM, which, if you've got good taste, you'll take a listen to by clicking here. That's where I discovered I'll Be The One by Alice Peacock, which will never make mainstream radio because it's a perfect example of what teeny-bop actually ought to sound like. Besides not being totally vapid, Alice can sing like there isn't a giant phlegmy hairball lodged in her trachea, which is a trick that Ashlee, not to mention the Duff sisters, might try mastering before an entire generation of music fans goes totally deaf. Which would actually be a bit of a relief, come to think of it.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Helpful Hint

If you mute the TV, sometimes there are hotties on the "Lifetime" network.

Ditto for The View; Barbara Walters and Starr Jones make us wanna wretch, but Elizabeth Hasselbeck is kinda hot when something vapid isn't coming out of her mouth. Really, she's the only reason to watch The Look For Less on the E! network. Well, her and those two twins who run around the mall with the fashion victim.

Oh, wait, those are dudes. Incredibly effeminate dudes...

Friday, August 27, 2004

I'm thinking of putting a "John Kerry" bumper sticker on the back of my car. That way, people tailgating me will know who I'm voting for.

I think most tailgaters are Republicans. 8-(

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Let's say you have eight balls. They're all exactly the same, except that one of them is heavier than the other seven. You have a balance; how many times do you have to weigh the balls to figure out which is the heavier one?

Now, I was sitting in a barren room — just a desk, a phone, two chairs, and an interviewer — being put on the spot with this stupid academic question. "Have you done any work with distributed computing?" No.

"Have you done any work with deadlocks?" What does that even mean? Is he asking me if I've ever had to debug a deadlock? Just theoretical work. In my operating systems class.

"How good are you with algorithms?" Unquantifiably good? "Let's say you have eight balls...."

Hmmm, Interviewer Guy, maybe I'd be able to puzzle out this question if I weren't under pressure here. But instead, no, I look like a fool. I kind of feel like I just wasted the interviewer's time.

By the way, the answer's the base-2 logarithm of eight, which is three. I should've known. In algorithm analysis, the answer's always the base-2 logarithm.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Brains Versus Bad Language

My parents raised me to be a sweet, passive-agressive pussy — er, I mean person — and I've found that no matter where I go, I can't shake that totally pathetic persona. It's so ingrained that even in the relative anonymity and security of the cyberworld, I let people call me a loser and a fag without any sort of retaliation. That might make them angry.

So, I was playing Yahoo's cheap Scrabble ripoff, Literati, and this guy "spasticasautisticus" — I'm assuming the screenname "doucheyasshole64" was already taken — sits down to play with me. The first thing he says to me is just plain cryptic: leave it out what the fvck is that. I ignore him, mostly because I can't even understand what the hell this jerk is trying to say, although someone trying to play Scrabble really ought to have a better grasp of the damn language.

Then I play "win," "mi," and "en" for 22 points. The following conversation ensues:

Loser jackass: what is mi mean
Me: as in do-re-me[sic].... it's solfege notation
Me: sorry, do-re-mi-fa...
Loser jackass: is your fvcking head the size of a fvcking planet you big headed cvnt
Me: your jealousy amuses me

And this douchebag leaves in a huff! He can't think of a retort, and I guess he used up all his swear words. My wit and psychological acuity defeats this asshole! Yay for me!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Getting older just doesn't seem to be working out for me. Like tonight, when my parents had these guests over. This was the first time we had guests over in like three years, even though my dad insists that we always keep our house in guest-ready mode — no soap scum in the bathrooms, the living room couch pillows must remain fluffed at all times — just in case the someone like the pope randomly decides to stop by.

We don't do much entertaining.

Tonight, our visitors were Barbara and Dick, the people who sold my parents our house. They hadn't seen me since I was nine months old, and I guess that no one can go a full twenty-two years without seeing me. So, I had to join their (really) little party and make inane small talk. What did you major in? What are you doing now? Like I don't have pre-packaged answers for those questions.

I even tried a question of my own: "So, you used to live here?" Not quite a question, but it did start a conversation. A long, tedious conversation that made me acutely aware of how much my butt was itching. That's the thing — most of my experience meeting my parents' dull-ass friends and relatives occurred when I was around five years old, and back then it was okay to look away, disinterested, like I'd rather be playing GameBoy. Can't do that anymore. Gotta pretend the real estate market is interesting.

Wasn't interesting back when I was five, still not interesting. Just shut up, parents' friends.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

What the...?

Okay, I'm not that into soccer, and I wouldn't spend money to sit out in the heat watching it. At least not at the Olympics or World Cup. But at the Paralympics, which is apparently all about helping people God hates feel good about themselves in a very after-school movie sort of way, that's another story completely. In the midst of such weird adaptations as wheelchair fencing and amputee cycling, there's blind soccer.

That's "visually impaired" soccer, for the politically correct of you. But to make sure that everybody's just as visually impaired as the next guy, all the players except the goalies were blindfolds. (The rules state that the goalie can either be sighted or visually impaired, because you'd obviously want a guy who can't see the ball covering the goal.)

How the hell does this game work? It's one of those things that I'd love to see. It'd be fun, in a mean, exploitative sort of way. But I imagine there's a lot of players crashing into each other, tripping over the ball, scoring in their own team's goal, randomly running off the field and into the stands. It would be a blast.

You know what would be even better though? Blind NASCAR.

Watching the Olympics on CNBC and MSNBC and, uh, ¡Telemundo!, I'm growing more and more annoyed with anti-soccer Americans. I'm not talking about people who just feel that soccer isn't to their personal taste; I mean people who'll go out of their way to voice insipid complaints about the low scores or frequent tied games. People who hate on soccer the same way that I hate on NASCAR.

I caught Iraq vs. Australia and Mali vs. Italy, and, to be honest, I can't really see what there is to complain about. Soccer is one of the most exciting events at the Olympics, even thought that's not really saying much, given that most of the sports at the Games are nothing more than people running around a track. Soccer, at least, is like an action movie — you've got ninety minutes or so of people running around, trying to get their goals. Every now and then, there's a catharsis when the ball rolls out of bounds, or there's a tense moment when you lean forward in your seat a little. And sometimes there's a massive arena-wide fight scene at the end.

That's why I never understood American sports. Baseball's slow as shit — continuing with the movie analogy, baseball would be some nineteenth-century period piece chick flick based on an Edith Wharton novel. "Look at me, I ran around the bases once! I've gotta sit down. There any chewing tobacco anywhere in the dugout? No? How about any steroids?" Basketabll — do they have to take a nine-minute time out every eight minutes? Even when there's just four seconds left in the game?

Football? Just plain gay. Seriously.

And the absolute worst is also, apparently, our retarded nation's most popular: that gas-guzzling redneck abomination, auto racing. Now, I know that you NASCAR fans are all from the South and/or Midwest, and only the most radioactive mutations of cosmopolitan America — Hilary Duff, professional wrestling, George Dubya's "integrity" and "family values" — reach you in the boondocks, but, people, it's just freaking driving!!! If auto racing is going to be a sport, why don't we make sports out of all our mundane daily activities? There could be, for example, a grocery shopping event at the Olympics, where the athletes would have to clip coupons, run through the store finding the best bargains, then wait on the checkout line behind an old lady having trouble with her checkbook. (Oh, wait, we already have that... it's called Supermarket Sweep, and was entertaining before the show devolved into people waiting for the coffee grinder to finish so they could collect a $200 bonus.) Or how about a "brushing your teeth" competition — cleanest chompers win the gold.

How long till Ken Jennings comes back on Jeopardy?

Friday, August 20, 2004

Top Secret!

Maybe I shouldn't be writing this, but one of the combinations to a lock at work is — and I'm not making this up — 1-2-3-4-5. Seriously, people! Haven't you seen Spaceballs?

I'd hope that after reading this, they might re-program the lock, making it somewhat harder to break into. However, judging from their choice of combinations, I don't think they're all that big on security.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

There was a bug flying around the kitchen this afternoon — a big one, that insisted on pounding into the walls and ceiling like a drunken redneck. I freaked out. In fact, I screamed like I was a fifteen-year-old girl at summer camp and the fly was an axe-wielding serial killer. In my defense, it was a wasp.

Thankfully, Mom was there, so I put her to work doing one of the few things she's actually good at: killing insects while I scream, "KILL THE BUG!!!". (Others include cooking dinner and doing my laundry. I'm such a lazy bastard.) Unfortunately, Mom's no pro-basketball player — if there were an anti-basketball sport where it paid to be short, slow, and uncoordinated, Mom would be a first-round draft pick — so she couldn't really do much except watch the wasp fly around the ceiling.

The next few minutes were, ultimately, uneventful, but you wouldn't know that to listen to me. "Mom, Mom, get some hairspray, spray the bug! Mom! Do we have any hairspray?" No, but Mom suggests that we assault the poor insect with a canister of aerosol air freshener, so it can terrorize me in a springtime-fresh kitchen. "No, Mom, we need something sticky!" And no pussy-ass Clairol Herbal Essences crap out of a spritzy plant-watering container; I'm talking full-force flammable compressed spray here. Eventually we settle on a decades-old can of Raid; meanwhile, the bug's trying to get out on the back porch, so Mom figures we'll just help it along a bit and opens the back door.

Now, the wasp's flying around on the porch, Mom's out on the porch following the thing around with our Raid, and I've slammed the back door closed. I've got my weight against it, just in case the wasp develops superpowers and tries to push the door back open. Mom is spraying Raid on the insect, but I'm skeptical: We used to have major yellowjacket issues around our house in the summer, and I'd walk around outside spraying every living thing with Raid. Nothing died. Not even our plants. But Mom's still spraying the life out of this wasp, and after a long, long time, it falls to the ground and all it can do is try to crawl away. From behind the door, I'm still screaming at Mom, "SQUASH IT!"

On our porch, we have a cement brick and a piece of aluminum drainpipe. Guess which one Mom uses to squish the bug. The drainpipe. And she doesn't even use the side of the pipe — she uses the hole. I shout at her like it's Let's Make a Deal: "THE BRICK! USE THE BRICK!" After the longest ten minutes of the day, the wasp, and me, are put out of our misery.

It was a while later before I started thinking what it must have been like for the wasp, especially during those fifteen or so seconds when my mom was spraying it with insecticide. Cause from its point of view, it doesn't know that it's not supposed to be in the kitchen. It's probably wondering, "Why the hell is that kid freaking out all of a sudden? What, is he autistic? God, he's driving me nuts. I've gotta get out of here." Then he's choking and sputtering in this toxic cloud, struggling to get up the energy to fly away or keep its extraneous feet stuck on the wall.... God, what a sad way to die.

Not that I wouldn't do it again should I come across another unfortunate wasp in the house. The lesson here: don't anthropomorphize insects.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Olympic Fever

Normally, twelve years of being picked last for gym class turns me vehemently anti-Olympics when the Games roll around. Not to mention that phoned-in John Williams theme song, the corporate sponsorship, those same commercials over and over and over again. And honestly, you have any idea how freaking boring watching someone swim back and forth and back and forth and back and forth is? I do. I spent a whole semester doing it.

But this year's different, because NBC is broadcasting the Olympics on five networks, not counting Telemundo, and since there's not enough boring-ass track and field events and rhythmic gymanstics — my impression of rhythmic gymnastics: Look at me! I'm throwing a ball in the air and catching it! Give me a medal! — they're showing sports that don't get their proper due in America. Water polo, table tennis, women's ten-meter air rifle. That last one isn't even a sport, but the Ukranian gold medalist was hot, so no complaints.

In that sense, things are going well. The Dream Team, what Carlos Alazraqui called our national 'fuck you' to the rest of the world, got their asses kicked by Puerto Rico. Neither bridge nor poker nor bowling nor fucking auto racing made their way into Athens. I sort of figured out the rules to handball, except I'm still not quite sure what a seven-yard penalty is. Doesn't make much sense in the context of throwing a ball into a kids' league soccer goal.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Phone Manner

I'm thrilled that in my two days as intern at Theatre Row, I haven't answered a telephone once. Not that I haven't tried, but Theatre Row has these supercharged multi-line telephones that I can't figure out for the life of me. Every time I answered, the line would be dead, but I guess that nobody was really calling for me anyway, so I can't say that it mattered. I'm just proud of myself for answering the phone in the first place....

Back in third grade, my friends and I were pretty much given free reign over the school after school. I guess the adults knew that we were there, but since we weren't in high school yet, they trusted us not to kill each other. So we'd run around the classrooms, write whatever dirty words we knew on the blackboard (always write left-handed, so no one would know it was you if you got caught), and, of course, crank call each other on that most sacrosanct of not-a-toys — the intraschool phones. This was unthinkable stuff back in the third grade; the phone was even more the teachers' domain than were those J.L. Hammett pens with the blue ink on one end and red ink on the other. But alas, soon we grew up. Or at least I did.

Truth is, I never really felt any need to play with, or what the heck, even use, the telephone. In eighth grade, a few of us yearbook folk were working late in Mrs. Pirraglia's room and, out of some sick habit, I picked it up. And then this thought rushed over me — I'm not supposed to be talking on the teachers' phone — and I whispered to Aneesa, "What do I say???"

Aneesa: "Uh, hello?"


So now I'm trying to break that habit. I let the answering machine get the phone at home, and I wouldn't answer my loaner phones at Sparknotes either. Unfortunately, that makes me look like a pussy who won't pick up a harmless phone, and since I want to turn over a new leaf at this job-like job, when that uberphone rang the first time, I hesitated... and then I picked it up.

Dial tone.

Over the next seven or eight times that the phone rang, I playing secretary and pushing all manner of extraneous phone buttons before, during, and after these frustrated calls. Nothing. I think maybe it's God trying to tell me something.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Started at my internship today, so I'm going to plug Theatre Row, the off-Broadway playhouse where I'm semi-employed. It's a pretty sweet job: I'm working with some cool people, doing web updates, it's air-conditioned, the bathrooms are clean, and sometimes Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz drop by (really). There's just one tiny, tiny problem that I can't believe no one else notices — there's not a single window in the entire freaking building!!! Good for a mole person, not so good for me. Now, I've literally gone for three days without leaving my seven-by-nine foot dorm room. I've spent a week without stepping a foot outside my house. But I honestly don't know how long I can go working in a what's pretty much a concrete block with high-speed internet access.

Now, as the intern, I had the official Intern Travelling Workspace, which I guess I carried over from Sparknotes. First, they put me down in the basement, in a little security office by the studio door, complete with clip-on mini-fan, three intercoms, and a Glamour magazine for down-time reading. I'm in a glass case, and I keep on forgetting that people outside can see and hear me inside my terrarium. Every now and then, a brilliant thought would escape my lips, and I'm sure the other people in the hallway thought I was crazy. First impressions.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Tastes Like Chicken

It's the most wonderful time of the year: Mom spends three days, two nights at an East Brunswick hotel for some New Jersey Arts Educators conference. I get the whole house to myself (until Dad comes home, of course), and being the crazy kid that I am, I decided to break Mom's house rules and cook a cornish game hen. Yes, Mom really does have a "no cornish game hen" rule in the house.

I made a list of all the animals Mom won't let me cook in the house, then headed off to Super Stop & Shop — just like a regular Stop & Shop except with heat vision — to see what I could find. Rabbit, bison, eventually I found these cornish game hens. They look like chickens, only smaller and harder to find. Cheap, too: only two bucks a pound. Take the hens home, and first things first, there's a plastic bag full of bloody poultry flesh stuffed up the poor thing's butthole. Eeeewww. What could I do? I dumped the innards in a pot, added water, and made a sort of gritty cornish game hen stock that'll sit in the freezer forever.

So I chopped up the bird, basted it with a chicken soup/red wine vinegar mixture, broiled it until the skin popped. It was a lot of trouble to go through for a mini-chicken, smashing its backbone, finding the bird's wing joints, slicing up my finger. Still, after an hour of work, it just tasted like chicken.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I've Been Heard!

Finally, finally, my blog received its first comment, from a self-described child-raping alcoholic named Jasmine. For those of you too lazy to follow the link I've so helpfully provided, the comment reads as follows: "Work sucks. Avoid it all costs."

Okay, so it's not the most lucid thing ever written. But it is, in fact, a comment, and that's all that matters.

Of course, nothing encourages more comments like disparaging the one comment I've already got and alienating its writer. Sorry Jasmine.

Monday, August 9, 2004

A Completely Impartial Review of the Men's Room at Ralph Lauren on 72nd and Madison

First off, I do not belong in Ralph Lauren. The clothes are too expensive and too trendy and I have trouble telling the men's clothes from the women's clothes. But I downloaded this program to my cell phone that tells you where the nearest restaurants or movie theaters or banks or bathrooms are to you, and I was playing around with it. This program, Vindigo, is coincidentally made by the company that I interviewed at today. Now, Vindigo doesn't just tell you where the bathrooms are; it also reviews them, and Ralph Lauren's potty sure got a stunning review.

Five stars. "Clean, safe, free, recommended." Recommended! And only ten blocks away. Now I had to check it out.

And it is one sweet sweet bathroom. Stylish clear sinks, framed photos on the wall, the stall doors go from the ceiling to the floor — even in the urinal stall. It was the first time I ever felt comfortable whipping my penis out of my pants in a public restroom. Good for me!

There's also a vinyl blue bench in the bathroom, I guess so I can sit comfortably and wait for my male friends to finish putting on their make-up.

And I believed this city didn't love me.

Take the elevator to the lower level; the bathroom's on your left. Posted by Hello

A Completely Impartial Review of the Movie Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

Which totally sucked. I mean, the movie itself was fine and all. Funny, but not hilarious — somewhere in between Hollywood Homicide and Top Secret. Let's put it this way: if Harold & Kumar starred Julia Roberts and Kirsten Dunst and were called "Mona Lisa Smile," Mom would think it was the best movie of the summer.

But damn the Loews theater chain! $10.25 for a movie — it's enough to make me want to dig up the corpse of Marcus Loew and vomit in his skull. Thus, I always plan on seeing two movies on the same ticket: Harold & Kumar ended just in time for me to sneak into Open Water, which is what I really wanted to see. But curse my luck: H&K was playing in a lower-level theater and all the other movies were on the second floor. (Well, I could've snuck into Catwoman, but that dreck didn't seem worth the trouble.) Now, I've only pulled this trick off once, and it was at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Houston Street, which is too indie for me to want to really screw over, but when this little scam works, boy does it feel good! It's that feeling you get of taking on the System — the Man — and winning. Or, dare I say it, arriving at White Castle stoned after a night full of farcical misadventures. No, maybe I shouldn't dare to say that. That's retarded.

Okay, here's something I don't quite understand. What the hell were those old people doing at that stoner movie? There were like four of them in the theater, and I don't mean they were like middle-aged old. They were senior-citizen discount old. And two of them were together, but the others just wandered into the theater and sat down like it was a bingo hall. I don't know. Maybe The Notebook was sold out.


Some days — depressing days — I worry that life is meaningless. I mean, we're put on this planet, live for a few years — an instant in the entire span of the universe — and then we die. Our families die, our friends die, and soon enough, our ashes are swept into the dustbin of history. I wonder, what will my contribution be, how will I make my mark? Will the world be any different for my having been a part of it?

Well, my friends, I am proud to say that I've finally drawn my name in the wet cement of creation. If you'd like to check out my lasting effect, you can visit it at the Barnes and Noble on Sixth Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets. One day, I was in B&N with my laptop plugged into a socket, and the nefarious B&N heavies freaked at this unauthorized use of their electricity. Security kicked me out. (Okay, that part's not true. The security guard told me, "You can't have that plugged in here," to which my witty comeback was, "But... but I've only got it plugged in." Then I hung my head in shame and slumped out, but not before re-shelving whatever books I could get my hands on in the wrong departments.) I went back to the offending B&N today to pee on their bathroom walls — er, I mean, use their bathroom — and I saw what yours truly set in motion taped right above the electrical outlet in the Eastern religions section: a "for employee use only" note.

Actually, three strips of tape — that's how seriously these dickholes take their electricity.

Speaking of which, what the hell do the employees need to plug in there? Are sales associates blow-drying their hair in the Eastern religion section after their shifts? God, Barnes and Noble sucks....

'Nother job interview today: Vindigo Studios. Seems like a cool place to work, 'cept for what may or may not be the corporate dress code — one of the guys who interviewed me actually apologized for dressing casually. Sooooo cute... I wanted to hug him. But I didn't, although I'm not sure how that would've affected my chances of landing the job. For my part, I was dressed up with the white button-down shirt and otherwise comfy khaki pants, but Mom the fashion maven made me tuck my excessive shirt in, so I was spending the entire interview trying not to think about the lumps of fabric clogging up my ass.

I've complained about "business-casual" before, but this was the first time I really took a look at how other people were dressed. Gave me something to do on the train while resisting the urge to scratch my butt. I think I've come to a conclusion: different people look good in different outfits — the traditional semi-formal look ain't workin' for everyone.

Despite the excess wardrobe around my waist, I managed to do relatively well in the interview. Surprising, in fact, since during the telephone pre-interview, I could barely string a sentence together. I think it's important to remember that your interviewers are just people too, who put on their unnecessarily prim dress slacks one leg at a time. They have likes and dislikes, senses of humor, and the fact that they have a job and an apartment and the power to hire you doesn't make them superior. But, sadly, the fact that they look good in business-casual does.

Sunday, August 8, 2004

Parked the car on the lawn this ev'ning. Not parallel with the street either. Too bad I couldn't park the thing upside-down: could've had a hat trick there.

Saturday, August 7, 2004

Caring is Sharing

These days, caring just doesn't get you as far as it used to. Grandma sometimes tells me this story about the old country, ostensibly for the purpose of making me feel like a total shit. It goes a little something like this (it's best if you imagine hearing it in Grandma's barely accented voice)...

"Back then, my father, he was a tinsmith. He had a shop on the main road in town, and every Sunday, the market would come into town, because back then, they didn't have any supermarkets, so people would travel from town to town selling things. And people would come to town, and they'd ask him where was a good place to set up their tables. And he'd say, 'You can sell right here, in front of my store, it's right on the main road.' And anybody who'd come along, he'd say, 'Set up right in front of my store.' So he got to know everybody.

One time, after the market closed, we all got together at our house for dinner, and while we were eating, we hear this loud crash outside. And everybody was like, 'Oooh! What was that? What was that?' So, he went outside and there was this woman, and she must of gone to the bar and she was a little, uh, drunk and she must of fell against the window. So my father, he brought her inside and he told her, 'You rest here, and then tomorrow you can leave.'

Now, when my grandmother died, they had to sell her house, so my mother had to go to town, and they didn't have money for a donkey, so she had to walk, and it was a couple hours walk. Now, along the road there were — como sei dici?le brigande — the bandits. And while she was walking, one of the bandits, he stopped her and asked her who she was and where she was going. And it turned out that after the market closed, my father was in the bar and he bought a drink for this man. So he let her go. And he sent a signal to all the other bandits: don't bother this woman. And she went and came back, with all the money from selling the house, and nobody bothered her. All because of one drink."

Which all just shows Grandma's old-timey heartland Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul naivete. Honestly, who the fuck does this nowadays? You buy someone a drink and suddenly it's an awkward invitation to get all personal and shit. I'm not the only one that's uncomfortable with this, but for some reason, Grandma seems to lay the entire burden for society's alienation with the individual on me.... I guess when you're old, things are different. If you're twenty-two years old, and you're male, and you bake cookies for your neighbors — well, that's just creepy. Do the same thing when you're post-post-menopausal, and it's not only innocuous. It's sweet.


Friday, August 6, 2004

Well, tonight's the big night! Has it really been a full year since the last Miss Teen USA pageant? Evidently, yes, it has been.

Teen delegates from all over the United States gather in the desert oasis to impress a panel of judges with their poise and beauty. During the telecast on NBC, the final 15 are announced and they compete in evening gown and swimsuit competitions as the finalists are narrowed to the top ten and the top five.
Two questions now emerge. First, who the hell cares? I'm heterosexual, and it only took me about thirty seconds to get bored with the damn thing. Honestly, I just wanna fuck 'em, not watch 'em prance around the stage and answer inane questions. And second, we're still letting girls compete in beauty pageants, completely oblivious to how pointless and misogynistic they are? Okay, I've seen "Showbiz Moms and Dads," and I understand that there are still tubby, oily-skinned white trash moms with drooping boobs out there, living vicariously through their hot daughters, feeling a warm maternal glow every time one of those Z-list judges rates their progeny a ten. But maybe, please, can Child Services help these poor, poor people out — give 'em a Vicadin maybe, or a hobby, or perhaps a real job. Could be that a few preening-free days as a corporate shill will wipe those smiles off their vacant faces.

Thursday, August 5, 2004

The YMCA smelled like death and chlorine today.

Every time I go back to New York City, it seems like a less and less welcoming place — by which I mean that it's becoming painfully difficult to find a bathroom clean enough to go number two. Remember that Seinfeld episode where George takes Jerry and Kramer into a random office building because it's got "the best bathroom in the city?" Well, you can't do that anymore.

Nowadays, every freaking building's got its own police unit, complete with automatic weapons and German shephards, which, oddly enough, make me feel much less secure. Everybody's got a photo ID badge clipped to their lapel, just in case they forget what they look like; there's elaborate front-desk sign-in procedures, security cameras, a guy with his high-school equivalency and a generic cheap suit and tie watching over you, and I just want to not crap my pants! Even libraries, the last refuge of civilization in this world (well, not the children's section... or the Internet filters... or the fact that there's 2500 holds out on The Da Vinci Code... or the incessant librarian yakking...), have closed off their bathrooms, leaving the irritable-boweled among us to settle with the ad hoc microbiology labs in the back of the Strand.

Well, at least you can get some reading done while you're in the bathrooms there. And no, you're not allowed to take books in.

See, the trick is to find bathrooms that are public, but that are also off in some obscure corner of the city where no one knows about them. Hotels — ritzy hotels — are usually a good bet, especially since they tend to employ a team of underpaid immigrants to keep the bathrooms clean. The Marriot Marquis in Times Square is my favorite in the area as long as my bladder can survive the eight story jet-elevator ride to the bathrooms (sometimes it can't), but for pure pointless luxury and white-trash watching, you can't beat the bathrooms at the Plaza. They have a guy whose whole job it is to hand you a paper towel after you're done washing your hands, because getting your own paper towel would take a lot of effort. Then you have to tip him. (I wonder how much I'd have to tip him to get him to wipe my ass for me.) He also stares derisively at you if you choose not to wash your hands, just to let you know that you're a disgusting human being. Actually, come to think of it, he probably stares derisively at just about everyone in the bathroom.

But can you really blame him?

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Interview today: possible internship at Theatre Row, an off-Broadway theater most likely founded by a Brit or some slightly dyslexic American. Sylvia took me to see a play there last Thursday, and flipping through the playbill, there were about fifteen interns listed in the crew. I figured, "Why not sixteen?"

As usual, the interview went pretty well, considering how I've been cutting back on my Paxil. Besides, today was an important lesson: I should probably research what the hell organizations actually do before blindly asking for an internship. Not that the idea of working backstage at a theater or theatre doesn't seem cool, like a great learning opportunity, but what really caught my eye was the idea of working with people producing plays, sucking up to people who might eventually produce my play, should I ever finish it.

Okay, to be honest, I can't really imagine myself sucking up to anyone.