Friday, December 31, 2004

Good Riddance 2004!

We can finally say good-bye to a year that was most notable for the inception of my blog, some phenominally bungled political campaigns, and me tricking my parents into thinking I actually attended my graduation ceremony. God, what a tedious year.

I rented a movie in anticipation of not getting invited to any New Year's Eve festivities, because I never get invited to any New Year's Eve festivities. Thankfully, I'm not bitter about being annually eschewed. Last year, it actually worked out relatively well — they were showing an Arrested Development marathon on FOX, which I'm sure would've beat out going to see the Harry Potter movie with those geek friends of mine from high school who never write, never call, never IM or anything. Glad I'm not bitter.

Anyway, the movie I rented was Satoshi Kon's recent animated feature Tokyo Godfathers, which, it turned out, was appropriate, as the movie was set in Tokyo during the week between Christmas and New Years. It's about three homeless pariahs who come across an abandoned baby and resolve to return it to its mother, and if that sounds like a primer for a contrived plot, then I guess it is. I didn't mind so much though, partly because the storytelling isn't saccharine and Capra-esque and partly because I think we're naturally inclined to give animated, fantasy films a bit more leeway when it comes willing suspension of disbelief. Still, Tokyo Godfathers was entertaining; it's to me what Bridget Jones's Diary is to my mom — fluff. Although in my case, it's not mindless fluff.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

They opened up this new Philly cheesesteak place across the street from the theatre, and apparently it's pretty good. Zagat's gave it a 24 food rating, although I don't even want to contemplate what their decor rating — the restaurant has counters but no stools and the floor is paved concrete. I ordered myself up a cheesesteak, and it's pretty good except for the fact that it's drowning in grease and I can feel the coronary thrombosis sneaking up on me as I eat the thing, so I can't really enjoy the meal with Death always in the background.

By the way, at restaurants and the like, when they're taking my order, I am now "Jason." I'm totally sick of having to repeat my absurdly simple name: "Huh? What? Ray? Dave? Dan? Tim? Bob?" I mean, it's not like the folks at the restaurant are going to use my name for anything besides calling me when my food's done, so to them I might as well be "Reginald" or "Percy" or "Intombe" or "Optimus Prime." No, come to think of it, I don't think I'd make a very good "Percy."

Monday, December 27, 2004


Even the folks at Columbia sent me a Christmas gift: my yearbook, which arrived in the mail on Christmas Eve. I should say that they sent Mom a Christmas gift, because I didn't even want a yearbook and my interest in the yearbook only extends as far as my resentment over spending four years as absolutely nobody in the Columbia community. I mean, here's how little Columbia gives a shit: after four years and nearly a hundred-fifty thousand dollars of tuition, you'd think the least they could do is subsidize a yearbook for their graduates. But they don't.

Actually, the least they could do was subsidize their graduates' caps and gowns, but no dice.

I guess on the plus side, it's the final vestige of my education dropped off — this is the last I'll ever be hearing from that once-omnipresent Jostens company. Now I suppose they'll be replaced by the IRS or something equally irritating.

Mom spent last night reading through the yearbook, instead of leaving me alone in the house so I could masturbate my problems away. She reports that I appear once in the yearbook, not counting some sort of congratulatory spread in the back that she and Dad paid for. It could be worse — I could've missed my portrait appointment and wound up as "Jay Harris: Photo Not Available," leaving this blog the world's only remembrance of my existence at Columbia. Now, not only will there be a photo record of me as a Columbia student, but in the photo, I'm wearing a tie, so my fellow students at the reunion will think I was well-dressed.

You know, I know that I wasn't the most, um, pushy, loud-mouthed, omnipresent undergraduate at Columbia, but I don't think it would've killed anyone to maybe snap a candid picture of me for the memories. I have some first-hand yearbook experience: I shared the editor-in-chief position with Aneesa and we made a conscious and successful to have every eighth-grader in at least one candid photo in the yearbook. I even found myself in more than a couple of snapshots in the high school yearbook, which was about two-hundred fifty pages or so. So, I don't see any goddamn reason why I'm totally snubbed from the Columbia yearbook — it's about an inch and a half thick and there are shorter Mitchner novels. Maybe if they took a few pages away from sports and devoted one or two of those to class misfits and outcasts....

Can't complain about Christmas this year, but I'll try anyway. Parents got me an iPod, which, now that I've gotten over the fact that it's an absolute bitch to set up, is cool. I almost wanted it more as a twenty-something's status symbol than as an mp3 player, although as the latter, it'll make my hour and a half commute slightly less interminable. Now I've just gotta make appearances at Starbucks and Barnes & Noble with those white plugs sticking out of my ears so everyone knows how hip I am.

You know, I hate being aware of shit. It would make enjoying things a lot more enjoyable.

Now, next to the iPod, and next to the thoughtless but always appreciated cash, I guess the nicest thing I got for Christmas is a hot chocolate mug from the Fillers. Nothing against the mug, but it is more than a few steps down from the iPod. Mom gave me stupid crap like pencils and Post-It notes and underwear ("Wow, Mom, good to know you spent a whole four seconds thinking about what to get me!"), and the freaking relatives I hate gave me clothes. Here's a confession that I've got: more than half my wardrobe comes straight from Christmas and birthday gifts, thanks to my mom's cousins, who have apparently never heard of a freaking gift certificate. I guess I sort of got back at them, because their Christmas gift from me was an amazingly hideous Santa Claus-shaped spoon holder that, if they have any sense of taste whatsoever, they'll wind up re-gifting for next year's secret Santa at the office.

The holiday itself was bearable, considering that I had to spend two whole days with my parents and Grandma. Dad wanted to take us into the city to look at Rockefeller Center, as well as the store windows at Sak's Fifth Avenue and Macy's and Lord & Taylor's and Barney's. He even has this annual newspaper article buried somewhere that supposedly lists all the store windows worth checking out; I remember using it one year, when I was maybe eight or nine, and it was the first Christmas when I thought killing myself would be more fun than looking at these lame store windows. Anyway, Dad thought it would be fun if we all looked at windows together as a family, and it took Mom and me about an hour to convince him that, no, it wouldn't be fun. Not only do none of us give a shit about the windows, but the Publisher's Clearing House Prize Patrol could drive up to our home with a check for ten million dollars and it wouldn't be fun, simply because Dad's presence sobers up any event.

Anyway, I'm off to return all the ugly shit people got me and replace it with somewhat less ugly shit.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Every year around this time, there's a debate raging between secularists and holier-than-thou Christian fundamentalist extremist paranoids who believe that Hollywood is trying to steal Christmas from them. That is whether one should greet someone with the commercialized "Merry Christmas" or the Jesus-denying "Happy Holidays." (Of course, in New York, where I am, this isn't a problem because the appropriate holiday greeting here is a "Stop staring at the fucking holiday tree and move your ass, tourist!" accompanied by an outstretched middle finger.) But in the Wal-Martized parts of the country, this is an important topic, lest you raise some mild, neurotic offense during this season of goodwill towards men, who, for the most part, don't deserve it.

We can see I'm really in the holiday spirit today.

Anyway, I ran into this problem myself when I was writing out my Christmas/generic winter holiday cards. Not that I think any of my friends would be particularly offended, cause they've got pretty open minds, but I'm just not the sort of person who'd take that risk in the first place.

Which is really frustrating. I mean, people: regardless of whether someone says "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Kwanzaa," they're just trying to be nice and bestow good wishes on you. (Unless, of course, if they're saying it ironically, like I was with that "Happy Kwanzaa" thing.) They don't have to be nice to you; they could be total Grinches like me. The least you could do in return is not bitch that they weren't nice to you in the exact form that you'd prefer.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A Completely Impartial Review of the Woody Allen Movie "Annie Hall"

I never had that much interest in seeing any of Woody Allen's oeuvre, but Erica keeps making fun of me because of it ("I can't believe you've never seen a Woody Allen film!" and "Well, you've never seen a Woody Allen film!") and Dr. Schlessinger has a habit of comparing my self-deprecating humor to Allen's ("That's why people are drawn to Woody Allen movies; they recognize their insecurities in him and they find it cathartic..."), so I figured I ought to see what they're talking about.

Okay, Woody has this sort of observational sense of humor, where he doesn't have an attitude towards the absurdities of the world so much as he just repeatedly reminds us that he doesn't understand them. It's weird, because he was making all these jokes and I was thinking, "That's pretty funny. I wonder why I'm not laughing." Maybe it hit a little close to home: Annie Hall centers around the relationship between the Woody Allen personality and Annie, his ingenuous love. There were some similarities between the movie relationship and my own history with Anne (damn cute name, huh?), mostly in the way this immature guy wrapped up in his own petty intellectualism brings his girlfriend out of her shell to find that she's grown past his insufferable neuroses and lose her.

I never realized how goddamn irritating those neuroses are. I don't think I'm as bad as a full-fledged Allen persona, but after seeing Annie Hall, I'm afraid that I'm barely, barely tolerable. In an early scene, Woody refuses to go into a movie because he missed the first two minutes and instead drags Annie to see the absolutely entertaining Holocaust documentary The Sorrow and the Pity. I don't see myself doing that; I'd watch the movie and keep the resentful bitching to myself. See what a sweetie I am.

The thing is that Woody's world-view (and mine) is completely distinct from the way he behaves. I agree with his complaints about intellectual masturbation or the vapid So Cal lifestyle. In fact, he finds faults with pretty much everything unfamiliar to him, and as a result, he never does anything, and he wants Anne... I mean, Annie, to cheerily play along with his inaction. No wonder things didn't work out....

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

An old dude nearly got clobbered by a bus on 42nd Street today. It was sweet!


Now, it was around lunchtime and I was waiting on the corner for the little green "walk" guy to light up on the pedestrian traffic light. Apparently, this old guy, he wasn't waiting. He just walked right into the street, in that slow ambling shuffle that old people have. Now, a bus was coming down the street, going about thirty-five because it had the green light. Thing is, the bus driver doesn't want to hit this guy, probably cause there'd be a lot of paperwork to fill out if he did, so the bus is honking the whole way through the intersection. But the old guy doesn't even speed up. He's completely freaking oblivious. Anyway, the bus comes to a full stop about six inches from the guy, and the guy just keeps on walking.

I mean, where's the consideration? What, for this guy, red means go and green means go? Please, we're living in a society here.

I'm all for crossing against the light, but you gotta follow the rules you learned back in elementary school: look both ways and if a thirty-ton bus is charging down the street at you, stay the fuck on the sidewalk. At least be prepared to move your ass if a car that does have the right of way is coming. I think we should make it legal to run over people who don't follow the above two rules; if we did that, after about a month, we wouldn't have this problem anymore.

Jay Meets an Eighties Guy

Here's a pretty good sign that you're not getting the job: You spent more time in the waiting room than you did in the interview, and you didn't spend more than ten minutes in the waiting room.

I had an interview at this place called "The Ladder," which is a website that matches, let's say, New Money with high-paying jobs. I think I applied to them through Craigslist, and they just said they were a website looking for some sort of developer, so I didn't know what I was getting into. Now, I'm barely able to contain my resentment. But anyway, things were looking pretty good before today; their hiring guy, David, sent me an e-mail that read, in part, "Jay, We received your resume and it looks Fantastic!" Capital F, exclamation point. So my spirits were pretty high when I went to meet with this David guy this morning.

David, it turns out, does not have a copy of my resume, and later evidence leads me to believe he never actually read it either. Let's start off by saying that in eight months of job hunting, I have never once needed to bring my own resume.... So, I've barely handed him my copy of my resume when he blurts out in that fast-talking, overconfident, completely irrelevant eighties voice of his: "What experience would you say is your most life-changing?"

How about we start with something easy, an icebreaker, tell me about yourself. Nope, our Eighties Guy doesn't have time for chit-chat. There's money to be made and a working-class to be leeched off of. Anyway, I start giving my standard (lying) spiel about how great Sparknotes is, partly because I've got it more or less memorized and partly because this lucky Eighties Son-of-a-Bitch doesn't give a shit about the many humiliations of my high school and college careers. Actually, he doesn't give a shit about anything I've got to say, which is kind of douchey, considering that I'm talking about what's supposedly the most profound experience of my life.

Wow, I didn't realize how much contempt I've got for this guy.

Next question, "What's polymorphism?" Way to segue, dude. I answer his first-semester computer questions, what's a semaphore, what's multiple inheritance, if you had a box what would you put in it and why? Huh? What part of your ass did you pull that one out of, Eighties Guy? He's got a completely straight face, like I'm supposed to be treating every one of his asinine questions seriously. So I ask him to repeat it like fifteen times before he finally tells me that this is a "right-brain" question — and come to think of it, I'll bet one of my many psychologists has asked me the same question — and it has no right answer, just a ton of absolutely retarded ones, none of which will help Eighties Guy Dave decide if I'm the right person for the job. I mumble something.

Finally, a few more questions: "What's your greatest accomplishment in life?" That's like a third-date question, totally out of my league. Besides, what's Eighties Guy's greatest accomplishment in life? He wrote a job-search computer program and meticulously finds ways to milk every last cent he can out of it. Good for him. Now go hire someone who cured cancer or brought peace between the Catholics and Protestants.

And "Where do you expect to be three to five years from now?" In some lame job, spending forty hours a week in a living death while jackass Type-A Eighties Guys like you run the world into oblivion, hoarding money like you'll be able to pay off God at the apocalypse.

Oh, wait, he wants me to be optimistic; he's actually asking me where I hope to be three to five years from now. In that case, on a golden throne with my enemies kissing my feet. How's that for an Eighties attitude.

Total interview time: eight and a half minutes.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Gift Hunt, Part 4

Note to Anne: Don't read this unless you want to know what I'm giving you for Christmas.

So I was becoming more and more desperate, hunting for a gift for Anne. This isn't an unusual situation; it's usually down to the wire with her. I stumbled across this article in the Star-Ledger: "Top 10 choices for last-minute gifts." For her.

Number six on the list: ugly socks, with the tagline, "The point of these isn't the way they look, it's the way they feel. Whipped up from some surely ghastly combination of polyesters, these socks look like they're made from Muppet fur and feel like clotted cream. Feet wearing these socks are happy feet."

I thought, "That's great! Anne has feet! What a perfect gift!" No, I actually thought something more along the lines of Anne, like most girls, has both a casual sock fetish and a soft, fuzzy object fetish. Besides, it just seemed like a better gift than my other idea, which was a vase full of paper flowers.

So, I was at the mall today. Mom's conditioned me to stay away from the mall during the holidays, but I've gotta say that I really had no problems whatsoever. I found a parking spot that was pretty close to the building. It only took like twenty minutes to find fuzzy socks at both Macy's and Nordstrom's, and I found a cash register with only one guy in line. Granted, that guy was trying to redeem a gift voucher or something, and I think it would've been a less interminable bureaucratic process had he actually been making a hostile takeover bid of Nordstrom's, but the total time from locking my front door to unlocking my front door was less than an hour and a half.

First I went to Macy's to find Hue Furry Socks, which were touted by the Star-Ledger. Hue is the manufacturer's name, and their motto is "Many Colors, One Hue." Many colors, maybe, but they're all freaking hideous, as you can see if you click on the Amazon link. Macy's also had them in electric pink and fuschia, and maybe some other colors that I couldn't see because my eyes were burning. Still, the article said that the socks were gonna be ugly.

I tried Nordstrom's instead. Now, as it turns out, department stores stock women's socks in the section called "Women's Accessories," which is full of purses and hoisery and feather boas, and is invariably right next to the "Intimate Apparel" section. I'm feeling a bit less-than-manly browsing through this section, and I have this urge to announce to everybody — especially the women around me — that I am buying a gift and I am in no way personally interested in any of the merchandise in this area of the store. That being said, those socks are incredibly fuzzy. I might've bought myself a pair, except I already felt gay enough as it was.

Christmas shopping done. Only 369 shopping days till Christmas 2005.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Gift Hunt, Part 3

I found Grandma this ugly little white Christmas house candle thing at Pottery Barn so she can enjoy the sight of a house on fire melting into an amorphous waxy glob. Now, the Pottery Barn catalog suggests buying an entire village worth of house candles and making a flammable tableau out of them, but since God has seen fit to give me a job that only pays eight dollars an hour, Grandma's only gonna get a single house to burn down.

Speaking of God, I've decided to completely repudiate God this Christmas and turn this into a secular holiday. I was going to write, "All I want is for my friends to return my damn phone calls and to not spend every waking moment of the day in constant tongue pain," but just as I was typing the previous sentence, my cell phone started vibrating and Sarah called. Ha, ha, very funny, God. I'm still pissed about the canker sore, though.

Anyway, Grandma's gonna like her new candle, primarily because her disposition is to at least tolerate anything she gets. There's already precedent for this: freshman year of college, I gave Grandma a teddy bear candle because if there's anything sicker than burning down someone's home (and, yes, I know that only last week, I advocated burning down an entire apartment building), it's setting a teddy bear aflame. Grandma now puts that teddy bear under her Christmas tree every year, although I doubt she'll ever use it for its intended purpose. Even with the worst gift for Grandma, the book She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, her reaction was mild confusion, which dissipated when I explained to her that it was "an Oprah book." (Oprah makes everything better.... Bitch.)

So now the only person left to shop for is Anne. I went to Kate's Paperie last night with the idea of maybe buying her some stationery. It seemed like a good idea when I checked it out online, but face-to-face with the stationery in the store, I realized that I'd just be giving her paper, and the gift-worthiness of stationery dropped like a paperweight. Even the fact that this particular paper was made by "the preferred stationer of the Belgian royal family" could redeem the gift idea, so now I'm back to square one.

Maybe she'd like a candle from Pottery Barn.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Random Act of Kindness

I'm rarely given to such sappy titles, but I figure that my blog is filled with so much vitriol that it's only appropriate to mention the brief appearances of anti-cynicism in my life. So, this morning I'm late for the bus and running down Third Street when this red hatchback with a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker on its rear fender stops next to me. The lady in the passenger seat asks me if I'm running to the train station. She says she's seen me at the train station before, and she offers to give me a lift. How nice of her!... and even though she's running late to catch her train, which leaves before my bus does.

Now, however, I'm all grumbly because you're reading this and you're thinking that I'm such a bullshitter, always getting unduly pissed off when I'm not starving, not homeless, and getting rides from strangers. (Ooh, by the way, I took a ride from a stranger! Take that elementary school safety lessons!) But that misses the point: I feel, intrinsically, deep down in my bones, that the karmic scales of the universe still fall against me. They don't even come close to being balanced; that's how I see the world. Donald Trump becomes a national icon by firing people, and I have a painful canker sore on my tongue. Why couldn't it be the other way around?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

omg! "i love the 90s part deux" premieres on my b-day! its like vh1 knows exactly what i want. which is good, cuz my 'rentz prolly wont get me nething decent.

Gift Hunt, Part 2

I was checking out Kate's Paperie online for the perfect Anne-y gift when I came across a strange little only-in-the-cosmopolitan-Western-world phenomenon. Kate's, or at least the one I'm thinking of, is a major Soho fixture that sells an entire (recycled?) forest's worth of paper products, stationery, photo albums, etc., along with ink and paperweights and that kind of stuff. Their online catalog lists about six items. That's not the interesting thing; I just find that a little irritating cause I can't really do a wholehearted Christmas shopping trip online. But anyway...

As with many online catalogs, you can sort the items in Kate's in different ways, like alphabetically or by lowest price, or... by highest price???!!! What kind of incredibly generous jackass has no maximum price limit on his Christmas spending but has a minimum limit, and thus needs to use this feature? What rich, snooty bird-evicting Scrooge is deliberately looking for most expensive gift imaginable.... and why is this jerk looking at Kate's Paperie?

Okay, now I'm pissed. Egg nog anyone?

You know what ruined Christmas? It happened when people stopped giving you toys for Christmas and instead decided to shower you with practical stuff.

I actually remember the days when I'd wake up early and drag my grouchy parents out of bed at seven in the morning to open my presents. Those were the good days, because there was something to look forward to inside those gift wrapped boxes. Normal kids would get like a Playstation or, uh, a pony or something you could take out of the box right away and play with. A new toy and new toy experiences, fun fun fun. I'd even get something like a 500-piece set of Legos, which, nerd that I was, I actually liked. I was a very imaginative only child.

But these days, I get things like — on a good Christmas — a telescope or an aquarium. And the worst Christmas in recent memory was highlighted by an ink-jet printer. Thank you, Santa! Now I can print at 600 dpi resolution. Just what I always wanted. That's the thing, what'm I gonna do with a printer at six in the morning. Might as well not even bother to unwrap the damn thing until I actually have a paper due.

Hard as it is to imagine, it could be even worse. Mom is in the habit of wrapping up random things and giving them to me as "presents." It's bad enough that I get clothes, but sometimes Mom will wrap up a box of Cheez-Its and pretend that it's a Christmas gift. She's even been known to wrap up things that I already own and use on a regular basis. Other years, Mom and Dad will put a rain check in a box and wrap that up, so I won't get my Christmas gift until the following March. It's like... you know the disappointment you feel when you go to the E.T. ride at Universal Studios Florida and you wait on line out in the sun for two hours, and you get to the building and there's another line inside... and then there's a short annoying movie that you don't even get to sit down for, followed by another hour long line, and then you get on the stupid bike-tram people-mover thing and the ride is like three minutes long and it jerks you around a lot and totally sucks ass?

That's what my Christmases are like. No reason to get up early for that crap.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Some People's Minds Just Go

I was riding the bus this afternoon, and we were stopped around 46th Street. There were these two high school girls outside arguing about something, loudly, and we on the bus were all staring, grinning and amused. So that gets this old guy talking: "We never used to see things like that. I'm sixty-nine years old, and we never used to have anything like that. Those were the days. You could go see a movie for a nickel, and you could ride the bus for a dime. And there was no crime. You could ride your bike through Flatbush at three in the morning..." And on and on and on, long after it got awkward listening to him.

I did some math. If he's sixty-nine years old, he was born in 1935, right in the middle of the Great Depression. Yeah, those certainly were the days. A third of the population out of work... and I guess no one was arguing loudly back then either.

Selective memory: In the forties, there was a little thing called World War II; in the fifties, the Red Scare. And I'm willing to bet that there really was crime back in the day, too. Weren't there gangsters and whatnot? Furthermore, this old guy was white, so he didn't even have to worry about discrimination, although I'm not sure how prevalent that was in New York. Good times.

This should be a comfort to every air traveller who gets felt up by those retard luggage screeners:

N.J. Airport Security Spot, Lose Fake Bomb

By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press Writer

NEWARK, N.J. - Baggage screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport spotted — and then lost — a fake bomb planted in luggage by a supervisor during a training exercise.

Despite an hours-long search Tuesday night, the bag, containing a fake bomb complete with wires, a detonator and a clock, made it onto an Amsterdam-bound flight. It was recovered by airport security officials in Amsterdam when the flight landed several hours later.

"This really underscores the importance of the TSA's ongoing training exercises," said Ann Davis, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, the agency responsible for screening passengers and baggage for weapons and explosives. "At no time did the bag pose a threat and at no time was anyone in danger."

Earlier this month, French authorities lost a bag containing real explosives that were being used to train bomb-sniffing dogs. That led French authorities to prohibit using live explosives in future tests.

The incident at Newark Liberty International was only the latest embarrassment for screeners at one of the airports from which some of the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers took off.

In October, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that screeners missed one in four fake explosives and weapons in secret weekly tests conducted throughout the summer by TSA agents.

In Tuesday night's test, a TSA supervisor secretly placed the bomb, which was designed to resemble the plastic explosive Semtex, inside a bag that was put through screening machines, Davis said.

A baggage screening machine sounded an alarm, but workers somehow lost track of the bag, which was then loaded onto a Continental Airlines flight.

Despite the incident, no flights were delayed and the terminal remained open.

Davis said the TSA is still investigating how screeners lost track of the bag.

"It was an error that the bag was not intercepted before it was loaded," she said, adding it was too soon to say if anyone would be disciplined for the failure.

Pale Male Defeats Snooty Co-op Residents

Score one for the protesters! In case you haven't heard, not only will Pale Male get his roosting spot on 927 Fifth Ave (at 74th Street), but Paula Zahn, whose family spearheaded the avain eviction movement has been harassed by a bird-lover! It's a wonderful day for the disenfranchised.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Today's the most depressing day of the year: it's the day when I buy all my Christmas cards. I was over this territory once before when I was buying my parents a card for their anniversary back in September: Hallmark doesn't make a card that honestly captures the complicated co-dependant dynamic between my parents and me. They're all these maudlin Stepford cards about how much I treasure Christmas memories with my family or how a mother's love makes our family strong or something like that. What really confuses me is that, on the dysfunctionality spectrum, our family falls neatly within the modern alienated American bell curve. What kinds of cards do they make for people with spouses in jail or alcoholic, abusive parents? Maybe other people care more about sentiment and less about truth than I do.

Anyway, what makes today particularly depressing is that I not only have Hallmark reminding me how little real love there is holding my immediate family together, but I also get to examine my less-than-fertile relationship with my "Special Grandmother." I empathize with her, when I'm thinking about it, because she's pretty much confined to her home alone, but I can also forget all about her for weeks on end. Of course, when I do see her, she retaliates by telling me what a louse I am for not easing the daily housework burden on her daughter (my mother) and comparing me to my insouciant, extroverted grandfather. Which starts a whole new cycle of antipathy. For her, I picked out a "Simply Stated" card, featuring the most tepid, thoughtless sentiments that can be on something that actually qualifies as a Christmas card. It's like the World's Greatest Grandma mug of Christmas cards.

So now I feel shitty.

I've also got to pick up a card for Anne, which is infinitely easier, primarily because if I give her a Shoebox card with a joke on it, she'll realize that it's a joke. The old'uns, their minds are fading and they get confused pretty easily. The only thing I've gotta be cautious about is our past history; if a card is too suggestive, she might think (read: worry) I'm coming onto her, which I'm not. I just liked the card. Like, for her birthday — or, to be honest, for anyone's birthday — Hallmark makes this card with a picture of an old woman in a bathing suit on the front. It reads:

Front: You and Nadine Simpleton of Boca Raton, Florida both share the same birthday!

Inside: But you're cuter.
Well, it's not like it isn't true (I mean, the part about her being cuter, not the part about sharing a birthday with Nadine). And it's not like the card is saying "Happy Birthday, and for your present: cunnilingus!"

Or anything like that.

But I'm still not sure (read: worried) how she'll interpret Nadine and her card, so I go for something more prosaic. This year, I stood in the Hallmark store considering whether Anne and I were close enough friends for me to give her a "great friends" card, or whether I should tone it down and go with "good friends." Are we even "good friends," card-wise? I mean, I haven't seen her all that much over the past year; she's at college and probably has "much better friends" than me there. Does "good friends" imply that I should be making some commitment that I haven't been making? Finally, my neurosis and I negotiated a compromise where I'd give her the "good friends" card and then feel guilty about it.
Now, in good news, the People Who Ruin Christmas won't be coming and ruining Christmas this year.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

A Completely Impartial Review of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

I finally got around to seeing this overhyped advertisement for New Zealand's majestic beauty and marauding orc population. I didn't see it in the theater because, let's face it, movies are expensive and my friends are a bunch of assholes who didn't invite me along when they went to see it. Not that I'm bitter or anything; I wouldn't have gone anyway. Tolkien, like Star Trek or that Harry Potter shit, is for losers who can't flourish in the real world and need to create a fantasy for themselves where nerds, dinguses, and hobbits can be the heroes. Besides, I don't buy into the hype... unless it's for me.

Anyway, holy shit was this movie tedious or what. Frodo and his band of merry men with weird haircuts wander around Middle Earth, running away from various monsters. Seriously, that's it. They're in a forest, and there's monsters, so they run away and hide. They're on a mountain, and there's monsters, so they run away and hide. Or sometimes they'd hang around and fight the monsters, and there'd be like a hundred monsters against nine guys, four of whom are fucking midgets, and our heroes don't even suffer a scratch. Jeez, can we get some competent villains here? It's about as much fun as watching other people play Dungeons and Dragons.

But doesn't New Zealand seem like a picturesque tourist destination?

Today's tree-decorating day, a Harris family tradition which, like most Harris family traditions, has become more and more perfunctory over time. Not that the tradition was all that exciting to begin with: it usually began with the customary "Strangling the Tree with Christmas Lights Only to Later Discover that One String is Burnt Out Even Though We Double-Checked Them All Beforehand," followed by the annual "Dad Getting Frustrated and Mom Placating Him by Running To Drug Fair To Buy More Lights." Sounds like a total blast, doesn't it. Eventually, we'd get the lights working and the garland on the tree, during which Mom and Dad have their annual tinsel discussion:

Mom: They don't make good tinsel anymore. The tinsel they make nowdays is too fluffy.

Dad: I keep telling you, if you happen to see tinsel like this [limp, fraying 1970's tinsel we put on our tree] to buy it.

Mom: Well, every year I look, but I can't find it.


Now I join in the ufn and start hanging ornaments on the tree. I've got a box of ornaments gifted to me over the years from people who thought, "This little knick-knack says 'Jay' on it. Jay will love it." I don't know how the whole ornament thing goes over in other families, but in ours, it's pretty much concert-hall quiet cause Dad's playing his "Nutcracker Suite" LP (remember those?) and Tchaikovsky is more interesting than anything we have to say to each other. Maybe other families get all nostalgic, remembering the Christmas they picked up this ornament or that. Or maybe the kids are all running around, sugar-hyper, fighting over who gets to put the favorite ornaments on the tree while Mom and Dad are keeping each other warm by the fire. In our home, Dad occasionally reminds us to hang ornaments inside the tree to "make it more three-dimensional," or I'll tell Mom that an ornament is ugly (we have a lot of ugly, lacy, frilly Christmas shit — a lot of which I made in elementary school) and Mom tells me that she'll hide on the back of the tree.

Gee, what could possibly be more fun?

Now, the past four years, I was away at college while all this excitement was happening here at home, and I have to say that amidst the Barney's Christmas windows (the only things at Barney's that I could afford) and the Rockefeller Center tree, I didn't really miss the plastic family tree. There were a few ornaments that I had this strange emotional attachment to, but you know, in high school, year after year, I got tired of putting little metal hooks on plastic branches earlier and earlier. Dad, for his part, never really cared that much — or at least he never showed it. But this is the first year that I got to thinking: was tree-decorating ever fun. I don't mean, was it enjoyable; I mean, was it Space Mountain, tickling Anne's belly, raving all night high on ketamine fun. Something you'd wait all year for fun. And the answer is a resounding, dull no.

Maybe next year, I'll just celebrate Festivus.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Save Pale Male!

I am outraged! Again!

You see, for the past twelve years, a red-tailed hawk named Pale Male and his mate, Lola, have taken up residence outside a penthouse suite in the luxury apartment building at 927 Fifth Avenue (and 74th Street), across the street from Central Park. Bird watchers from around the world come to the park every year to watch Pale Male raise his chicks… until last Tuesday, that is. That’s because the co-op board at 927 Fifth Avenue (and 74th Street), a bunch of "self-absorbed millionaire bird-brains," as the Daily News called them, voted to take down Pale Male’s nest and the spikes it was built on, even though Pale Male is supposedly protected by migratory bird laws.

This has become a really big news story in the New York area, and I don’t think it’s because this city is filled with bird lovers. After all, the city is basically covered in pigeon shit. I think it’s one of those David and Goliath things, where you’ve got this poor defenseless bird being harassed by the rich, spoiled cocksucker tenants at 927 Fifth Avenue (and 74th Street). New Yorkers — well, New Yorkers who don’t live on the Upper East Side (remember that old bitch "Juror No. 4"?) — don’t like the obscenely wealthy among us. The rest of the nation is hooked on "The Apprentice;" we see through Trump for the asshole that he truly is. For some reason, the morons in the red states haven't seen fit to tax the living shit out of these rich bastards, and we wind up with people like the ones living at 74th Street and 5th Avenue who think they can run roughshod over whoever they like.

So what do we do about this? Of course, since there's no justice in the world, God isn't gonna burn down the offending co-op at 927 Fifth Avenue (and 74th Street) so that these heartless bastards can see what it's like to have their home destroyed. Part of me fantasizes about finding out the names of the people who voted for having Pale Male's nest removed, then breaking into their penthouses and lofts and leaving piles of fish chum and rotting animal carcasses in their homes — just doing something so these people have no home to come back to. I guess the best we can really do is follow the PETA example with people wearing furs: stand outside the building, which, by the way, is at 927 Fifth Avenue (and 74th Street), and harass whoever goes in and comes out, throwing bird shit and dead pigeons at them until they vote to restore Pale Male's nest.

Oh yeah, hopefully there will also be some prosecutions. Avian lovers take their migratory bird laws freaking seriously.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Gift Hunt, Part 1

So I'm half done with the Christmas shopping. I bought Mom a crossword puzzle-a-day calendar, cause she finds crossword puzzles relaxing. I'm getting Dad a bottle of gift wine; all I have to do is, um, purchase it. That leaves Grandma and Anne.... Grandma is pretty easy to shop for, provided I don't think too much about it. I usually just buy her some kitschy holiday decoration from Bloomingdale's — a teddy bear candle wearing a Santa Claus hat, for example — or something from the Italian market. Anne, on the other hand... I could make a career out of finding a gift for her. Thank God I only have to regale her twice a year.

Of course, Anne says that I'm the impossible one to shop for, so at least we're mutually flummoxed this holiday season. The problem is that Anne has a much better track record when it comes to giving good gifts, so I'm always under pressure to catch up. Worse yet, I've already used up most of my (timeworn) stand-bys already. I've done the Chinese candles. I bought her the cutest stuffed animal in FAO Schwartz (not including this guy), a squeaky manitee, back when we were dating. Come to think of it, I should've started out with, like, the stuffed alligator, and then each year I could've topped myself with an ever cuter stuffed animal than the year before. I'll keep that in mind in case I ever start dating again.

Now, when it gets down to the few days before Christmas and I become desperate, I head out to Kate's Paperie or The Art Store on Bond Street for some art supplies. The idea is to find her something that she'd like but she wouldn't buy for herself. She's an art person, so this kind of works out.

Unfortunately, I'm now running out of good gifts at the art stores, and besides, I want to find gifts that respect Anne as someone beyond "an art person," so every year, I hunt through the city for the perfect Anne gift. Since freshman year, I've actually been compiling a list of stores to hit, and I found the following on the Village Voice's Best of 2004 website.

Best high-concept retailer - TKNY

With a large-screen window display transmitting various media, TKNY appears to be a gallery. Inside, various stalls resemble science projects, though they display objects for sale. By careful examination, I found a necklace that lights up, inflatable speakers, and Archimedes, a little green man in a bottle who I'm still trying to figure out. A store that makes me use my brain more than I am accustomed to when shopping is not entirely a bad thing. -Mary Jacobi

21 Avenue B, Manhattan 212-677-0500
It's worth a look. I don't think Anne's necessarily "high-concept," but I know she's not low-concept, so this might be the right place. Turns out they sell the latest gizmos from Japan: blinking rave jewelry, a vibrator that hooks up to your computer's USB port (???), rubber bands shaped like puppies and kitties. Not really right.

I'm not such a big shopper, so it's not like I've got a data bank of a zillion stores stuck in my head. I was walking through the Lower East Side, passing one girly clothes store after another, and I got to thinking how much easier this task would be if I were a woman. Then I'd know what's cute and what's tacky, what matches her personality and what's just patterned fabric. LES is a haven for cheap, trendy jewelry stores, but that seems too intimate. There's a place on Rivington Street called Toys in Babeland, which is way too intimate.

There's a vintage place in Soho called "Dom" that I check out every year. They never have a thing.

I checked out this place, BLT Supplies, freshman year. They import stuff from China, porcelain and eight-foot-long hot dogs. No, wait, eight-foot-long spears. That's better. It's an idea: a giant spear. I'm not sure how it would go over as a present under the tree: "It's eight feet long with a pointy end. Is it a toaster?"

Next on the agenda is Pearl River Mart, the Chinatown version of Wal-Mart. You can buy anything from green tea to a gong to a decapitated Buddha head there, and I hope there's something for Anne. Does she want chopsticks? How about a set of chopsticks? How about a set of chopsticks and some of those gigantic spoons you get with hot and sour soup in the fancy Chinese restaurants? I don't know.... I might have found some good stuff there.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Best Hanukkah Quote From a Born-Again Christian Ever

I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah. — George Dubya, December 10, 2001

Yeah, and don't get him started on Yom Kippur.

I think this is the first year my family's totally forgone Hanukkah, which, for my folks, really isn't that much of a loss. I mean, maybe I'll have to wait till Christmas to get those new undershirts Mom typically wraps up for the second night, but other than that, the whole Hanukkah thing quickly grew perfunctory. See, Dad's the one who was born Jewish, but his family gave up the religious thing when his mother died. My nuclear family would've never even bothered with Hanukkah, except that Catholic Mom thought it was important for me to appreciate my heritage. To that end, Mom bought me "The Miracle of Lights" coloring and activity book, and while the Chosen were reciting prayers or whatever, I would read aloud such trenchant Hanukkah commentary as "Michael helps Mom in the kitchen baking potato pancakes, or latkes," or "Now it's Grandma's turn to spin the dreidel," and then I'd get to color in Grandma, who is the most stereotypical old Jewish lady ever.

The whole reading aloud thing ended, over Mom's objections, when I was around seventeen.

I can't say much about the whole appreciating my heritage, but if I considered myself Jewish, I'd be one of those insecure self-hating Jews. Seriously, as a little kid, the whole Hanukkah thing was just an excuse to unwrap some extra presents — Mom would hide them around the house, in a new place each night, and I'd have to find them, like all good Jewish kids did. One of the presents would be something like $4.50 in quarters and one would be relatively decent, and the question would be which night I'd get the nice present and which seven nights would suck.

Not much for heritage or anything though. Not like Christmas. Damn, giving up Christmas, well, that would be like, like, giving up Hanukkah, except I'd care.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Privacy, Please

My mother is a very, let's say, invasive person. She tells this story about these friends of hers, a couple, who didn't believe in privacy. They had no doors in their house, including in the bathroom. She said that when you went to visit them, you learned really quickly to go before you left home. Mom's not that much better. I mean, our bathrooms and bedrooms have doors; they're just never closed. Example: I slept with my bedroom door open till I was in middle school; my parents still sleep with their bedroom door open. It worked for me, in part because I didn't know any better and in part because, if there were monsters in my closet, I'd be able to run out of my room and hide in their bed. Another example: it was just last year that I trained Mom to knock on my bedroom door before barging in. It took another year to train her to wait for me to invite her in.

For Christ's sake, it'd be easier training a dog.

Mom also has this habit of hanging out in my room, moving things around, putting stuff on my bed even though I explicity screamed at her to never, as long as I live, put anything on my bed, and generally using my bedroom as her own personal storage space. She wanders in randomly, and when I was younger, there were some close calls when the needling bitch nearly caught me masturbating. (Now, I hold off on the porn till both she and Dad are out of the house.... Which hasn't happened in the past four days.... Dear God, I'm frustrated....)

So, I'm planning on teaching her a lesson. See, I've got this markerboard in my room, and I'm illustrating it with a digital photo, in case you're unfamiliar with the concept of a markerboard:

Anyway, I'm imagining her coming into my room, uninvited, naturally, and finding that I left a little message for her on the markerboard:

From here, there's a number of ways I can go, but the general idea is playing a prank on that nosy bitch so she finally learns to mind her own business. I'll give her a week of looking over her shoulder before I finally fess up. "Well, you shouldn't have been in my room."

That would show her, for about two days.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

When you all sneak into a second movie after only paying for the first, are you nagged by the worry you'll be caught by the six-bucks-an-hour theater personnel? Me too. (I hope you answered "yes" to that.) But the movies have gotten so expensive nowadays, even here in the suburbs outside New York City, that I'm willing to take the risk. I thought I'd get in cheap for the matinee shows — and they even raised to prices of those by fifty cents — and I felt kind of guilty because eleven dollars seems like a fair price to pay for two (good) movies. I got to the Rialto in Westfield, and it turns out the matinee shows are only discounted on weekdays. So, on the plus side, I didn't feel bad about sneaking into a second movie. On the minus side, I had to pay a whole $8.50 to get in.

I'll be honest here and say, yes, it is morally wrong to sneak into a movie without paying for it. But — maybe I'm being selfish here, but maybe I'm not — I don't think it's any worse than the theater overcharging for their movies, soda, popcorn, and candy. Or any worse than the movie studios spending more than the GNP of some small countries on crappy action movies. Or any worse than Julia Roberts getting paid twenty million dollars to pretend to fall in love with Richard Gere. Why am I the only one who's forbidden from behaving immorally?

Anyway, I saw Sideways and The Incredibles. Both were good and funny, although it wasn't a struggle to stay awake during the latter.

So you know what's weird? Whenever you go to the Rialto, you're practically guaranteed to be sitting in front of a couple who insists on yakking through the entire movie. Sideways was full of senior citizens, which is pretty much defined as someone whose inside voice is louder than a normal person's outside voice. On the other hand, The Incredibles had a single family with two little kids. What do senior citizens and little kids have in common? Well, neither can control their bladders, and they both need to have their mouths duct taped shut. Otherwise, they'll randomly blurt out what's happening on the screen, like, "He's getting in the car!"

Also, old people are slow.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

I've never been more bummed out at the Y. There was this woman at the front desk, Sylvia. Sylvia looked after me when I was in the YMCA's after-school program in first grade, and now, sixteen years later, she's still working at the Y. Maybe she got promoted from babysitter to receptionist, but still, how sad is that?

Dear Mr. President Dubya:

Despite what you may have heard from your toadies, the American economy is in the crapper. Christmas is around the corner, but no one's buying anything. Now, as a patriotic American, I'm doing my best to stimulate the economy this holiday season. Unfortunately, thanks to your lame economic policies, I'm freaking poor. My parents don't have armloads of money either, because you gave obscene tax cuts to billionaires rather than the middle and working class like my folks. So, since you're such a compassionate conservative, I'm sending you a list of big-ticket Christmas gifts you can purchase to create jobs, stimulate the economy, and make my yuletide merry. I trust you'll do what's in the best interest of our great nation.

Here's what I want for Christmas:

  • An iPod
  • An 52-inch LCD flat-screen TV
  • A massage chair from the Sharper Image
  • A totally blinged-out Prius (hey, I'm an environmentalist)
  • An X-Box and/or PlayStation 2
  • that Robo-Sapien thing
  • A pony (I always wanted to be able to say I had a pony)
  • 20-inch rims for my new Prius
  • a T-Mobile Sidekick
Thanks so much, Uncle George! You know, if you come through on this, I'll vote for you if you run for Prez in '08. 8-)


Jay Harris

Friday, December 3, 2004

Is it just me, or are Christmas decorations getting gaudier and gaudier every year? Used to be people would just highlight the edges of their houses with strings of lights, and if they wanted to be ostentatious, they had colored lights. (Full disclosure: in my young and reckless days, I had a string of colored lights decorating my bedroom around Christmastime. But then I developed taste.)

Then what happened? They invented blinking lights, that's what happened. And from there, it was only a matter of time until redneck superstores like Wal-Mart and Target were stock full of glow-in-the-dark plastic Santas and inflatable snowmen, and everybody had one of those ugly-ass light-up reindeer on their lawns.

Now, it's not even enough to have one light-up reindeer on your lawn, you've gotta have an entire herd marching across your front lawn, celebrating the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Don't get me wrong, I really like the Christmas decorations. I like houses covered in (white) lights — the more the merrier. I even, for one-twelfth of the year, like the piles of gifts, tightly wrapped and tied in elaborate bows; the fake snow and model railroads running around the Christmas tree. I'm not against decorations. I'm against ugliness; it ruins my goddamn holidays.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

The Job Interview That Would Not Die

Longest job interview ever today. Most interviews, you meet with the person doing the hiring, or the person who reports to the person doing the hiring, they ask you a bunch of questions and you go home. Occasionally, you meet with both those people, either at the same time or one after the other. But I interviewed at this company Quigo, whose name apparently means nothing, where they pretty much held me hostage for two hours or so, meeting the entire company, being asked and answering the same questions over and over again.

It started off on the wrong foot before I even got to the place. The first interviewer guy called me on the phone; I was listening to loud music and playing online poker at the time. I wouldn't have even picked up the phone, but I thought it could have been my mom, which doesn't really explain why I picked up the phone. Anyway, so I answer and the guy says in an indiscernible accent: "Hi, this is Ygrbt calling from Kjreeebrqw, can I speak to Jay Harris?" Now, now, now, I've never been one of those "English only" people, demanding that non-English speaking immigrants give up their native tongues and speak only pure white Midwestern American. My feeling is, if you want to communicate with someone, it's your responsibility to make sure they can understand you. And so, if you have an accent, I think it's your responsibility to freaking e-nun-ci-ate, cause there's only so many times I can you to repeat that before I start to look like the idiot.

I should probably also consciously enunciate more often, but we're not complaining about me right now.

Anyway, I have no idea what the company's name is, and I eventually come up with the brilliant plan of asking Mister Mumbler to spell his company's name. Which he refuses to do. Instead, he gives me his name, which isn't all that helpful because he works in a giant building and I'm gonna need more than that to figure out where he is. I ask again, and finally he's helpful. Sort of. It's spelled Q-U-I-something unintelligible-O. On the plus side, I do have eighty percent of the company's name. Long story short, thank God there's an electronic directory in their building, and there's only one company whose name starts with a Q.

So anyway, I head to their office, and I'm just standing there cause Jamie, the secretary, is not at her desk. First I stand outside the office, because, let's say, I'm a vampire and I haven't been invited in. Or I'm scared that I'll commit some major faux pas entering a private space without having been invited. Then I think that if I were a FedEx guy, I'd walk right in and wait for the secretary.

I walk in, stand around, eventually meet with the guy, who can't be more than a year older than me, which makes me totally insecure. Good. We talk, I answer the standard questions and some variations on the standard ones. ("What three things do you think you could contribute to our company?") Then he tells me that I should meet with Pierre, a grunt who, I guess, does the same sort of work I'd be doing if I were a masochist and took a job there. Pierre is a tool of major online retailers: when you run a Google search (for example) that returns a listing for one of these retailers' products, there's a little description blurb under the listing, like this:

Webcast: Anatomy of a Rhinoplasty - New York Eye & Ear Infirmary
... Webcast: Anatomy of a Rhinoplasty In this informative web presentation ... images than the original version **. Anatomy of a Rhinoplasty (Full Version). ... - 22k - Cached - Similar pages

He formats the "Webcast: Anatomy of a Rhinoplasty In this informative web presentation ... images than the original version **. Anatomy of a Rhinoplasty (Full Version). ..." part of that. Hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, and here's the best part: he gets to use a computer program to do his formatting. That's why they want someone with a computer background, like yours truly. Yours truly, on the other hand, now realizes that this would be a soul-pummelling job, and he would rather spend another year and a half living with his mother rather than take this job.

Great, I'm done, I can go. Unfortunately, no one has come up with a tactful way of saying, "Thanks, but spending ten minutes at this job will turn me into an uncontrollable ball of rage directed at the Man, so I think I'm gonna pass. Let's not waste any more of each other's time, and by the way, I think you're going to hell for making people spend ten hours a day doing this. See you there." But I can't say that; instead, I've gotta give Mister Mumbler my less-than-honest thoughts about his blurb-formatting software. And I can still only make sense of about eighty percent of what this guy's saying. He asks me, "What are your three biggest weaknesses?" Three??? One I can understand, but seriously, asshole, why not make it five, or thirty? I struggle to come up with two, while not contradicting whatever half-truths I told him about myself earlier. Jackass.

Nonetheless, I seem to be impressing him, as evidenced by the fact that he's not, unfortunately, showing me the way to the door. Instead, he wants me to talk with Avi, who serves some indeterminate function at the company. Okay, whatever. It's good experience for me. She asks me, "What do you think about our company?" or something like that.

"I'm intrigued," I say, which turns out to be my biggest mistake of the day because intrigued is way too strong of a word to describe fixing Google blurbs. Shit.

"Intrigued? Really?" she responds, making her vowels way too long. I just didn't want to say "interested," because that sounds banal. It's been a long day, can't you people understand?

Anyway, there's more vapid question-answering, most of which I already did with Mister Mumbler, who's sitting right there. So I've gotta remember what I said the first time, which takes way more effort than I want to put into this. It's about ten minutes later, when they leave to "discuss me," which I take to mean, with dread, that they're gonna offer me the job. I start thinking of excuses.

But no, they want me to meet with Michelle in Human Resources. She's in a meeting right now, but could I wait about ten minutes? "Uh, let's see, what time is it? I sort of have a train to catch in half an hour, but, uh, well..."

Mister Mumbler is staring at me.

"...I guess I can catch the next one. Sure." I wait out in the lobby, where there's still no secretary.

Okay, the one slightly redeeming fact about this interview: Michelle in Human Resources has a cat in her office. I like cats. So, Michelle in Human Resources asks me the same questions for a third time and also explains what someone in Human Resources does. I pet the cat. It's about fifteen minutes, then Michelle in Human Resources leaves to discuss me with God-knows-who. The cat doesn't want to be petted anymore. Michelle in Human Resources comes back with Katie, and as I'm writing this, I can't believe I'm remembering everybody's name. Katie is an "account manager," meaning she serves as liaison between the anti-social blurb formatters and the clients. Katie is probably the same age as Mister Mumbler and significantly hotter than he is, but as she leads me to a conference room, I'm rolling my eyes nevertheless.

So she starts, uh, well, I was gonna say she starts yakking, but she's hot, so she tells me about her job and asks me the same questions that I've been asked four times before. They seem less vapid coming from her for some reason. She explains, "As an account manager, I bring the client's needs to the production team, so if you were to work here, we'd be spending a lot of time working together..." On TV, that always sounds a lot more salacious, but in real life, I can actually feel the acne scars on my face swelling. Katie's interview ends quickly; she hands me back to Michelle from Human Resources, who has me sit in the reception area until some guy named David is done with his meeting. The secretary, Jamie, is finally there — she must have a sweet gig, with her hour and a half breaks.

David isn't interesting. I'm ready to leave; I don't care about the company, that it's a start-up, that the employees are in the stock option plan, whatever. Finally, two hours after I get there, I'm going home.

Now, I'm being really antagonistic about this job, and I'm making it seem like it's because the task they'd have me do is soulless and tedious. But I was thinking about it, and that's not it. Even if I loved the task, even if they were looking for someone to play video games and eat chocolate cake all day long, I'd still feel uncomfortable there. It's like someone who tries to get to know you too well, too quickly. I mean, maybe we should make sure we're serious about this relationship before you introduce me to your account manager, Quigo. See, that's what happens when you come on too strong. And you're dull.