Monday, April 30, 2007

"Flash" by Queen

Of all the songs to have stuck in your head, this is got to be the weirdest. Also the campiest. Also the most annoying, being as how it hardly has any actual lyrics. This means that you're going to find yourself shrieking in a harsh falsetto the phrase, "Flash! Ahhh AHHHH!!!" over and over again until everyone you know is forming a line around the block so they can take turns stabbing you in the neck with whatever pointy object they happen to have lying around.

Anyway, it's stuck in my head at the moment and now, hopefully, it'll be stuck in yours too. What can I say; I like to share:

NOTE: The sound seems just a hair out of sync with the visuals; some people have a harder time dealing with that sort of thing than others, so fair warning. Also, Freddie Mercury's mustache is aggressively prominent and may cause you some discomfort.

Old Navy Hates Fat People

I'm a big guy. Husky. Amply proportion. Large and only very occasionally in charge. When you get right down to it, I'm fat. I know this much is true and I know that it's entirely my own fault. I've always been stocky, but there was a time when I could actually call myself an athlete; I played football, soccer, I ran cross-country and track (not particularly well, but nonetheless). After high school, though, I became aware of the fact that... hey, now... I'm on my own! I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Double bacon cheeseburgers at 2am? Why, that's the best idea in the history of people shoving foodstuffs into their face holes!!! It was around this time that I also discovered how much fun it is to drink large quantities of beer while doing nothing at all that even remotely resembles activity. The only marathons I participated in involved Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. As a result, and to the surprise of no one, I plumped up like a Ballpark frank.

I will say, in my own defense, that I wear it well. Being a fat ass hasn't ever hurt my sex life (thank fucking christ there are ladies who love the "teddy bear" type) and, when called upon to do so, I can look presentable for whole, entire evenings. I don't have trouble getting around and I can walk up the three flights of steep stairs in my apartment building without needing an oxygen tank or a visit from the EMTs.

I know that being 5'10" and 280 pounds is unhealthy, but thus far it's been manageable. And, finally, I'm making an effort to shed some of my extra bulk, thanks in large part to Girlfriend; she says she doesn't want to see me die at 45 because my heart has turned into a solid block of pork fat, which is always nice to hear. So I've been walking a lot. I've been eating less and not so late. I've been... (heavy sigh)... drinking less. I've been, in short, making an effort. I've already noticed a difference and I feel pretty good about myself in general.

Or I did right up until yesterday, when I tried to buy some pants.

Now, for as long as I can remember, I've been a regular patron of Old Navy. Since I have no sense of personal style to speak of, their bland, inoffensive shirts and pants have always suited me just fine. I've never particularly cared what kind of clothes I wore because... well... I just don't care. Also, I hate shopping. I hate trying on clothes to see if they fit. I hate malls. I hate driving to malls. I hate the people who hang out in malls... blech, just everything about the process makes me itch. So Old Navy's always been my destination of choice when the need for new gear becomes dire. They always have my size, the stuff they sell isn't going to make me look like an idiot, whatever; I can get in, grab some stuff and get the hell on with my life.

So imagine my shock, my shame, my anger when I discovered that Old Navy no longer carries my pants size in their store. "You'll have to go online for those, sir. Or maybe go down the street to Academy and buy a tent from their camping section. Perhaps if you wrap that around your lower half, people will just assume you've got on pants. Oh, and I think there's a Dunkin' Donuts on the way there; how nice for you!!!" Okay, the clerk didn't actually say that last part (not with her mouth, anyway; her eyes said differently). Still, the fact remains: Old Navy, at least as far as pants are concerned, is dead to me.

And, for the record, going online to shop isn't going to happen. I don't want to wait a week for pants that I haven't even tried on. Fuck that.

My question is: Why? Why hath Old Navy forsaken me? It's not like we, collectively as a nation, are getting any slimmer. It's not like it's just me walking around all fat n' stuff. So why have they stopped carrying stuff for the larger-assed male?

Because they're a bunch of jerks, that's why. They don't want to be seen with a store full of fat people, getting their fat all over everything and making the whole place smell like french fries and loneliness. They want to appear cool and hip and slender now that they're a big, popular purveyor of clothing and those of us who hung out with them back in the old days can just go fuck all the way off with our fat selves.
Maybe one day they'll change their ways. Maybe one day they'll run to us with open arms and all will be forgiven as we purchase some shorts that fit. Maybe. But until then, it's going to be nothing but this:
So, in conclusion, let me just say...
P.S. Before anyone else brings it up, I'm fully aware that I could just lose a bunch of weight so that I can fit into the pants that Old Navy currently sells. Like I said earlier, I'm working on that, but that's soooo not the point.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I Make Excellent Salsa


I had no idea, actually, that I could make salsa at all. I'm not much of a cook, all things considered, so it always comes as shock when I can produce something from the kitchen that doesn't make people wax rhapsodic about the quality meals that they could be having at White Castle, were they not stuck here eating my burned, noxious offerings. With the salsa, I just kind of winged it and, turns out, it was damn fine.

The salsa looked like this:

Now, for the record, that's not a picture of the salsa that I, technically, made. That's a picture I found via a search with the Google. Unfortunately, my salsa was so good, Girlfriend and I plowed through it with a careless abandon regarding any potential photographic evidence. Take my word on it, though... it looked a lot like it does in the above pic. We didn't, however, have a large plate of limes sitting next to the salsa at any point; not sure what that's about, though I guess one could assume that the people eating the pictured salsa had a pretty severe case of scurvy.

Anyway, because I'm all about spreading the love when it comes to spicy, Mexican-influenced dips, here's how I made the wondrous salsa that was consumed in my house yesterday over the course of the film Night of the Comet and the last half of the Mets game...

C-Dog's Salsa That's Better Than Any Other Salsa Ever (Maybe):

Tomatoes - I used seven plum tomatoes, because they're much more firm than your average, tarting-up-a-ham-sandwich tomato. I sliced them up in a wild, ragged fashion, leaving much to be desired in the neatness department, but in doing so creating a chunky, multi-textured base for to build our salsa upon. Oh, also, I have really shitty knife skills, which means I couldn't cut uniform chunks of tomato if it would prevent WWIII.

Onion - One white onion. Diced. Or as diced as a person like me, who wields a kitchen knife with the same precision and elan as Leatherface wields a chainsaw, can muster. You can use purple onions too, if you like; I actually wanted to use purple onions originally, but the ones at my local grocery store looked like someone had run them over with a mid-sized sedan. White onion works just fine, though.

Jalapeno - I used two jalapenos; big fat ones. Depending on how much you hate your taste buds, you can leave the seeds in or not because the seeds are where the spicy is. I removed about three quarters of the seeds, but I did leave some in. This gave it a mild heat, which was nice, but wasn't so brutal that I wanted to rip my tongue out with a pair of pliers.

Garlic - Two cloves, minced in a food processor. I supposed you could chop these by hand, but because of their size and relative slipperiness, I opted to let a friendly kitchen robot do the work for me, lest I come away from the salsa-making experience a few digits shy of a manly handshake.

Lime - One whole lime, juiced until you can't juice it no more. You can throw the lime husks away, or you can... um... do whatever else it is that one does with lime husks. Smoke them, maybe? Dunno. Eh, better just throw them away.

Cilantro - This is a personal preference. I know some folks think cilantro tastes like the Devil's pubes. Personally, I'm a fan. Use it if you wish. Also, will someone please get on starting a death metal band called "The Devil's Pubes." Get back to me when you've cut a demo. Thanks!

Salt & Pepper - Not to be confused with the 90's R&B group Salt N' Peppa. Though I'd be willing to be that, were you able to cram their hit single "Push It" into a bowl with some tomato and onion, it's be a mighty delicious taste sensation. But we're talking about regular salt and plain ol' pepper here; use as much as makes you happy.

The Secret Weapon - Adobo. It's this seasoning mix that Goya sells and it's kind of like garlic salt, but there's some extra stuff in it too. I don't know what it is, really. Girlfriend introduced me to the wonders of Adobo when we first started cooking together and now I put it on everything with the exception of ice cream sandwiches and even then, must admit, I'm tempted. A few shakes of this and you've got a salsa that could quite possibly save your life. Were salsa capable of doing so, of course.

How To Make - Take all of the above ingredients and dump them in a large bowl. Get your hands in there and mix the crap out of it. Your hands will get all slimy, but that's the price you pay for making the good stuff. Once it's thoroughly mixed, put some Saran Wrap over the bowl and park it in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavors mingle and get to know each other a little better, without all the pressures of being at the office where it's hard to have a conversation without old man Robertson breathing down your neck all the goddamn time about the presentation being late and I TOLD YOU I WAS WORKING ON IT, FUCK!!!

Ahem... yes, after you've let it sit for a while, take it out of the fridge. Open a bag of tortilla chips. Dip liberally, dip often, and enjoy the hearty, spicy, Mexican-y fruits of your labors.

One Last Thing - It's polite to share, but if you want to eat the whole bowl of salsa by yourself, you'll get no judgement from me. You made the salsa and if hiding in your bedroom closet and scarfing the whole thing down in one sitting is the only way you can enjoy it, well then... hey... do you, baby. Do you.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Oooh, Pretty...

Nobody does cool graffiti any more. Except for GWIZ. He does cool graffiti. With chalk and a healthy amount of whimsy, it appears. Oooh, pretty!!!

Praise Be To Andrew

My cubicle-mate Andrew gave me a generous portion of his french fries, thus saving me from another cracker n' dip lunch. Hallowed be his name.

I did, however, dip the fries in Ranch dressing because I'll never forget my roots. Incidentally, they were delicious. The scavenger's shame only made them taste a little bitter, so that's nice. It should also be noted, for the sake of thoroughness, that Girlfriend gave me one of her grape-flavored Capri Suns to drink with my lunch. It, too, was delicious. Very grape-y, though I suppose this was to be expected.

Well, I'm Creeped Out

Let me set the scene for you:

You're wandering around a vacant medical building, which is as frightening a setting as you're going to find outside of a graveyard in a thunderstorm. Not only that, but you're in the basement of said vacant medical building which, if my understanding of medical buildings is correct, is where they do the most hideous of their inhumane experiments. So, you're basically in the worst place on Earth and you can taste your own death in the back of your throat and then, suddenly, you see a nude man wearing only high heels sitting calmly on a bench down with you in the darkness. When he sees you, he gets up and sprints down the hallway, going deeper into the building. You call the police and they search the premises but... nothing. The nude man has vanished.

You're left only with questions and the image of the man, nude, high heels, surrounded by an environment of pure terror. It's an image you'll see whenever you close your eyes. You will never sleep again.

Horrifying, right?

Well guess what... It actually happened!!!

Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

Oh yeah, it's because I refuse to buy an umbrella. That's why.

I know that it's raining. I know that, as a consequence of it raining, I'll get wet. I know that if I buy an umbrella and use it in the manner for which it was intended, I'll circumvent my getting wet and the day, the city and possibly the world will be mine for the taking. However, because I am an idiot (as we've discussed), I time and again pass by the umbrella stand, not casually but with great determination, and I lumber out into the street where only a sound and thorough dousing awaits.

It's like I have a mental block that prevents me from actually taking money from my wallet, handing it to the kindly, grandfatherly purveyor of umbrellas, and walking away with a yard or so of nylon above my head. I have umbrella autism.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make here is that I'm currently very wet (get your mind out of the gutter), my hair is going to look stupid for the rest of the day, I'm chilly because the air conditioner in here is blasting like it's August, and I'm generally unhappy about the entire situation.

I'm going to go scowl at the secretaries for a little while until I feel better.

More later, possibly with less bile.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Worth Your Valuable Time

I tend to not listen to a lot of female artists and I have no earthly idea why that is. I do know that it's not because I think listening to female artists is "girly;" I have way too many Original Cast Recordings of Broadway shows to pretend that I'm anything but a big ol' queen in straight-guy drag. And I know it's not because I don't "connect" with the music, either. That's just silly. Human emotions are what they are, no matter the sex of the singer. I'm also pretty sure that it's not because I'm a sexist pig, but that's the sort of thing that you'd probably need references for, so... jury's out on that one. Whatever the case, the fact remains: I don't listen to a lot of female artists.

One, though, has broken through that nonsensical barrier and her name is Regina Spektor. This is, I'm sure, yet another instance of me being tragically behind the times as far as current, popular music is concerned but there's nothing I can do about that. I'm considering just telling everyone that I've been in a coma for the last few years, that way they won't balk at my outdatedness, so if anyone asks, you guys back my play, m'kay? Thanks.

Anyway, I just recently discovered Ms. Spektor (her "Begin to Hope" album specifically) and she's totally become my most-played artist for to enjoy while inputting invoices. Her lyrics are clever, her melodies are catchy and her voice is like naked cuddling after silly, happy sex.

Beyond the album's content, Regina Spektor is h-o-t. Like, crazy hot. By that, I mean she looks like the kind of girl that you date who's awesome at first but, three months in, you realize that she's absolutely out of her mind. I don't know, maybe it's the way that her features don't all seem to click together, or maybe it's the prominent black nail polish in the music videos... whatever it is, there's something a little unhinged about her and, as we're all aware, "unhinged" can be dead sexy. At least until it starts to involve cutting and dinnerware thrown at your head.

Anyway, as a point of reference, here's one of the aforementioned music videos from "Begin to Hope." It's for a song called "Fidelity" and it's been stuck in my head for so long that I think it's erased my ability to do long division*:

*Ha ha, I've never been able to do long division!

The Wash

Everyone has got that one, life-sustaining chore that they absolutely hate doing. For Girlfriend, it's the dishes. For some it's, say, shopping for groceries. And judging by the man standing next to me on the subway this morning, for some it's bathing with any regularity whatsoever. For me, it's laundry. I hate doing laundry. The very thought of doing laundry turns me instantly from the reasonably intelligent, 26-year-old man that I am into a petulant, whiny 8-year-old. You know how you'll see screaming, thrashing little kids being dragged out of Toys R Us or Chuck E. Cheese and they'll go all limp in their parent's arms and generally try to make it as difficult as possible for them to be dragged toward the minivan that's attempting to whisk them away from all the fun? That screaming, thrashing little kid is me, the minivan is laundry and Toys R Us or Chuck E. Cheese is all the other things in the world that I'd rather be doing. I am only exaggerating slightly.

Because of my feelings towards laundry, I have for years sent my clothes out to be washed by the capable hands of others. Even during past financial crises (money problems are a reoccurring theme in my life in much the same way that sunsets tend to happen a lot on planet Earth), I've always managed to scrape together the cash to have someone else deal with it so I don't have to. Discovering that this was an option was a momentous occasion in my life on par with my finding out that the internet contained pictures of naked ladies. Unfortunately, given my current state of getting-out-of-debtness (speaking of reoccurring themes), availing myself of the drop-off service has now become as thing of the past.

Which is how I found myself in a laundromat in Bay Ridge last night, pumping quarters into machines and quietly but sincerely praying for my own death. I realized right away that it's not the physical act of doing the laundry that I hate. Loading and unloading clothes takes, like, thirty seconds and lifting a pile of shirts really doesn't take that much energy. No, it's the being in the laundromat that does me in. It's the waiting. The horrible, horrible waiting. "But C-dog, why don't you bring a book? You CAN read, right?" Yes, thank you; I finally learned last year. But that's not the point... while normally I can get down with a book just about anywhere, when I step across the threshold of a laundromat, something unexplained and tragic happens. My attention span, not a strong, steadfast thing to begin with, completely evaporates. I can maybe muster two or three pages, but then my eyes wander. I'll begin to pace. I'll start to see how many times I can flip a quarter in the air and catch it without dropping it. I'll attempt to whistle. To keep my brain from leaking out my ears, I'll begin to play trivia games in my head; like, I'll try to name as many songs by a given band as I can before the dryer stops.

Side Note- I inadvertently hit on the perfect band to play this little game with last night: The Smiths. All their songs are kind of long and sentence-y and you really have to focus to get the wording exactly right. It took me at least five minutes to come up with "Frankly, Mr. Shankly" and another ten to pin down "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me." This also works with Meat Loaf songs for the same reasons, but after "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and "Bat Out of Hell," you'll find you only get sadder and more depressed with each additional title you can name. Knowing a bunch of Meat Loaf songs is on par with knowing verbatim the starting line-up of the '76 Texas Rangers; a sure sign that you've wasted your life.

Anyway, as I was saying... being in a laundromat saps me of mental stamina and by the time the spin cycle has rolled around, I'll have completely given up all hope and allowed myself to be hypnotized by the swirling clothes.

After all of the machine-work was finished, it was time for the final, most painful part of the process; The folding of the clothes. Here's the deal: I can't fold. Gun to my head, family in jeopardy, the fate of the free world hanging in the balance, I couldn't fold a shirt any better than I could scale a building with my bare hands or make a pass at Jessica Alba without having my skull dislodged from my spine by a bodyguard the size of a Mr. Softee truck. Not helping matters, I tend to get impatient with the whole drying process and end up taking the clothes out while they're still slightly damp and wrinkly. This makes them harder and more unwilling to fold and, when they're jammed none-to-carefully into the laundry bag for the lug home, the wrinkles tend to get permanently ingrained into the fabric.

Once home, I'm left with clothes that are technically cleaner, but still look as though they've been worn for several days by a person who spends a lot of time in mosh pits. This is why Girlfriend doesn't let me wash her stuff. Whereas laundry with most people ends with nice, pleasant-smelling clothes all hung up on hangers and sparkly new for the weeks ahead, laundry with me ends only in apologies and bitter pledges of vengeance.

However, I will voluntarily do the dishes, so it all evens out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

UPDATE: Pathetic Lunch: Take Two

UPDATE: I have now switched to eating straight wasabi paste on my crackers. I found the package of wasabi in a drawer, under some files. It seems that it can always get worse. That is all.


In case you were wondering what my poverty-stricken self was having for lunch today (and really, how could you not be after the tantalizing description of my previous saltines and fast food Ranch dressing repast), allow me to fill you in:

Currently, I'm having a hearty, man-sized glass of refreshing water. It's deliciously flavorless, just slightly above lukewarm and served in an elegant plastic cup fit for someone who waits on the people who wait on a King.

Ah, but that's merely the prelude to the main course. The feast doesn't end there, no, no, no...

For my lunch, proper, I'm having Saltines again, because why mess with cheap, cheap perfection? This time, however, I'm dunking them into a small container of unwanted pizza sauce that came with my cubicle-mate Andrew's stromboli. That's right! Not only is my lunch pathetic, but it also comes with a side dish of scavenger's shame!

God... I've totally become the poor, smelly kid in the cafeteria who lives off the scraps of others because his mom's an alcoholic and is always too hungover to pack him a lunch.

Anyway. You gonna eat that?

ZFS! Turns 1

Don't want to make a big, hairy deal out of it or anything, but I did want to point out that it was exactly one year ago today that I decided I was bored enough to finally start one of those crazy "blog" thingies that all the kids were on about.

On the grand scale of achievements, keeping a blog going for a full year isn't that big of an accomplishment, especially when you consider how little energy it takes to be a smarty-pants on the internet. In fact, my inner cool kid wants to brush ZFS! off like it doesn't matter; like I'm just having a laugh and that I could walk away from it at any time, perhaps to buy a spiffy, new leather jacket and some sunglasses to wear only at night. That, however, isn't the case. This blog represents one of the only things in my life that I've ever stuck with. Amid the rubble of half-finished plays, novels with only three chapters written, and short stories sans endings (who, I ask you, can't finish a short story), ZFS! stands alone as something not abandoned; something in which I didn't lose interest.

It's not cool to say it, but nonetheless... I'm proud of this blog. It's not art, it's not spectacular writing, it's not anything more than the semi-coherent ramblings of a casually drunk office drone... but it is mine. That means a lot.

So, a few thank yous, then we can all get on with our lives:

-Thanks to Girlfriend, for not minding when I use our personal lives for post fodder.

-Thanks to my job, for the eight hours a day of free internet access.

-Thanks to Gawker, who are responsible for the majority of the people whom I unpretentiously and lovingly call "my readers."

-And of course, thanks to you guys for continuing to show up, for willingly tolerating this nonsense, and for making it fun. The comments you leave are awesome, across the board, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. Seriously, again, a billion times, thanks.

So, there you go. Back to it then. Drinks all around and here's to another year!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


One of the girls in my office is trying to drum up some business for a DJ friend of hers that's... uh... DJing, I guess, at a bar tonight. In doing so, she made the following statement:

"C'mon, support the arts."

My question to you wise, attractive people is this:

Is DJing now considered a thing to be filed under the heading of "The Arts?" And if so, when did this happen?

I'm not being a wiseass here; I actually don't know. Oh, and if it helps, this is straight techno DJing we're talking about. None of that fun funk, soul and jungle stuff. And it goes without saying (or it should, anyway) that it's not like DJing at a wedding or a prom or anything like that. Because that's filed under the heading of "Sad."

Fantasy Life

Last night, Girlfriend and I watched the Tom Cruise/Cameron Crowe team-up known as Vanilla Sky. The movie it's self is only so-so; it's way longer than it needs to be and Cruise allows himself to be upstaged by Jason Lee, Kurt Russell, a few of the extras, a lamp in the background, a parked car and, most egregiously, Cameron Diaz. However, while the movie as a whole was only slightly preferable to a night spent watching our cat lick himself, it did present me with an interesting question:

If I could choose to live out a fantasy life in my brain while my body remained frozen in cryostasis, what fantasy life would I choose?

Now, in Vanilla Sky, The Tomster chooses his fantasy life to be, basically, Penelope Cruz. I... guess that's okay. I mean, everybody has got their own ideas of what makes them happy. Personally, I'm not into elfin women, but that's me. Beyond that, though, he constructs his fantasy life using bits of pop culture that were important to him in his waking reality. Now this I like. Maybe I wouldn't choose the cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" as my jumping off point, but I like where he's coming from.

Here's what I came up with so far.

My Fantasy Life For When I'm Frozen

NOTE: I'm going to try to not to take the obvious, all-girls-are-naked-and-I'm-a-millionaire route, but please forgive me one or two excesses. I am but a man.

SECOND NOTE: We're getting into some seriously self-indulgent territory here. You've been warned.

It's set in New York, of course. Where else would it be? Austin, maybe, but... no, if you're going to have a fantasy life, you're pretty much bound to New York by virtue of the fact that it's a city barely contained by reality anyway. The New York I'm in is Woody Allen's from Manhattan; it's everything good about this city and everything that's bad as well, but covered in a black and white, Gershwin-scored gloss.

No, not Gershwin. That's not me. The music of Tom Waits. That's not really me either, but it's the misguidedly romantic way I'd like to be and, hey, this is my fantasy.

I live in the East Village and I'm a semi-famous author. Not, like, Stephen King famous. More like Paul Auster or Ayun Halliday. Known enough, but not mobbed. I spend my days writing in my comfortable apartment, stopping every so often to refill my glass with fine, rich bourbon. I live over a bar that's always filled (but not too filled) with salty old drunks, characters all, who used to populate the bleachers of Ebbets Field and have a million stories between them about how one of them nailed Marylin Monroe or how another once told Lyndon Johnson to go fuck himself. I go to the bar around quitting time and I drink and drink and never seem to pay, though I do tip well.

I've got season tickets to see the Mets play and baseball season never seems to end. When I walk into Shea, I'm given a choice of seats right along the first base line or seats in the Upper Deck and I choose each about half the time because I like the different perspectives on the game. The Mets don't win all the time, of course, because that's not fun. But they play well and make rooting for them a pleasure.

I've got a girl who looks, on a rotating basis, like all the female cast members from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and who's in a rock band that's widely regarded as the next big thing. And at one of her gigs, when she says, "This song's for that someone special," I raise my glass to her and she rips off some monster chords because my girl fucking rocks!!!

And it will go on and on, this fantasy life.

Until I realize how unbelievably boring it all is and I give the signal for the docs to thaw my ass out. Perfection, getting exactly what you want all the time, no matter what, with no consequences, is great... at first. Then you realize that it's all just a fake, a sham, a thing you've bought. I'm pretty sure that's the conclusion Tom Cruise came to at the end of the movie (not 100% positive, though; the movie's mad confusing). Not that I particularly relish being in agreeance on anything with Tom Cruise.

In the end, fantasy lives are bullshit. Fun bullshit to think about, now and again, yes. But bullshit all the same.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Boris Yeltsin: Dead

UPDATE: Yeesh. This is what happens when certain people (me) are allowed near a computer when they're half asleep and mostly drunk. I should just take it down, but no; I'm not going to. I'm going to leave it up as a reminder. A warning, if you will. Much like how they used to put convicted criminals in cages and hang them up on poles along the main roads so everyone would know that the upcoming town meant business and was tough on crime. I believe they stopped doing that in the early 70's, but still... damn effective.


I'm not going to pretend to know anything about the man's politics, or even about how he conducted his life in general. What I will say is this: Boris Yeltsin died at the age of 76. And he drank vodka every day. Like, to the point where blackouts were as common an occurrence during his time in office as mispronunciations have been during Bush's tenure. Oh sure, Yeltsin's handlers and various media lackeys tried to keep his drinking on the down low for the sake of their country's image, but, c'mon... you can only show up all red-faced and silly to so many events before people start just assuming you've got a gentleman's flask hidden somewhere on your body at all times. This, of course, leads to random people hitting you up for a quick nip at an alarmingly frequent rate, but I'm sure in Yeltsin's case he had some large, ex-KGB types hanging around to scare away the freeloaders.
But I digress.
My point is this: While vodka isn't my particular drink of choice (unless I'm drinking on the sly, of course), I do think it's just swell that there's now a poster boy for drinking a lot of it and not dying early from liver disease. This, of course, isn't counting the millions that... eh... you know... do die young from liver disease. I mean, that's the other side of the argument... of course... ah... hrm...
You know what, forget I said anything. I'm going to go have a drink now. Hopefully that will help me forget that I'm an awful person.

Pathetic and Strange


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm in the process of getting myself out of debt. It's one of those things that I've let go for far too long and, now, it's finally time for me crawl the hell out of the hole I've dug and get my life, at least in that respect, back on track. Part of my master plan for saving money is that I am, from now on, only eating cheap, dollar store foods for lunch at work. No more fast food, no more trips to Food Exchange, no more eating out. Period. Today was no different of course and, when I looked at my choices of either Chef Boyardee, Ramen, a different flavor of Ramen or just more coffee, I realized that none of them sounded good. So, what did I end up eating for lunch? A half-sleeve of off-brand saltine crackers that were liberally dipped into a small package of Burger King brand Ranch dressing left over from fuck-knows-when. If that isn't the most pathetic excuse for lunch since the concept of a noon-time meal was invented, then I'll eat my hat. Because I still have another package of Ranch here at my desk.


Yes, I've had quite a bit of coffee this morning, but still I find it strange that I've been peeing every fifteen minutes or so since about 10 o'clock this morning. I know that I've got a pretty small bladder anyway, but this is becoming ridiculous. I'm sure the people whose cubicles are by the bathroom think I have either some sort of serious medical issue, or that I have an ever-worsening drug habit that necessitates the usage of a mostly-private stall. Seriously, I'm starting to feel like a pregnant lady and it's weirding me out.

The Floating Head of Vader

Goddamn, do I love it when nerds have too much time on their hands! I think it's fair to say that, if there is a better hot air balloon in the world, it's pretty much going to have to be made of buffalo wings and naked women to top this bad boy.

Nicely done, geeks. You've made us proud.

More about it here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Weird Food From Chinatown (With Pictures!)

Saturday, Girlfriend and I attended the Taste of Chinatown celebration here in New York. While I certainly am a fan of Chinatown as a whole, I'm sad to say that the event it's self, where area restaurants set up outdoor stalls and hawk their wares for 1-to-2 dollars in a bid to drum up business and/or give everyone in the city food poisoning, was a decidedly mixed bag. For one thing, the whole "we're giving away the goods for only one dollar" thing was bullshit. Yes, there were a few things there for a dollar, but it was mostly stuff you wouldn't put in your mouth to gain acceptance into a fraternity. Five words: Dried fish on a stick. Yeah, no thanks. All of the so-called "good" items were two bucks and even then, most were not really worth the money. Let me break it down for you:

The Good

Veggie Lo-Mein - Greasy as all hell, but flavorful and chock full of onions and carrots. A deal at twice the price.

Spicy, Fried Malaysian Dumpling Thingy - Don't know what it was called but, seriously, yum. It was this pastry sort of affair, stuffed with potatoes, green peas and a whole buttload of spices. The one I had was damn fiery, but not so much that it overwhelmed the flavor. Need to find out what these were called, because they're pretty much the perfect thing to accompany a night of drinking beer.

Crab Rangoon - If you're not familiar with the magic of Crab Rangoon, then you're letting the best things in life pass you by while you lay on the couch eating Cheez-Its. Cheez-Its are great, don't get me wrong, but listen: We're talking a fried wonton, stuffed with cream cheese, onion and crab meat, here. If that sounds weird to you, offensive to your palate, then you're going to simply have to trust that I would never steer you wrong. Close your eyes and leap, friend, because the Crab Rangoon are waiting to kick your taste bud's asses.

The Bad

Peking Duck - Peking duck is awesome. Peking duck that's being sold on the street for two dollars... not so much. All I'm sayin' is that the pieces we were given had a distinct "leftover-y" taste to them.

Death Pastry - I assume that's not it's real name, but it applies none the less. It looked like an eclair, sans the chocolate, and it tasted like someone suffocated a fish to death with a large wad of low-quality whipped cream. Girlfriend and I each took one bite, one, and spit it out. Girlfriend nearly horked all over the subway station, so foul was this item.

The Weird

Malaysian Corn Jello - I don't know what else to call it. It was brightly colored, creamy-looking pieces of gelatin that tasted exactly like creamed corn. It wasn't awful or anything; if you like creamed corn, it was just fine. It was, however, exceedingly odd.

Lotus Leaves-Wrapped... Uh... Stuff - We got this thing that was, we were told, a delicacy of rice, meat, egg, green beans and other junk wrapped in lotus leaves. It was as heavy as a cinder block, tightly bound, and it looked like this:

Girlfriend said, here, eat this. I regarded the package with suspicion, as if to say, "Weird Chinese food, say what???":

I unwrapped it and it looked like this. Or in other words, kind of glassy, scary and pod-like:

Before a creature could slither from it and clamp it's self to my face, I stabbed it with a fork:

There was some sort of meat in there, also what was once an egg. There were no beans or anything else like that. Just the sticky, unpleasant outer layer of rice, the mystery meat (my money's on those little turtles they sell all over Chinatown), and the gritty, mealy egg. Out of a sense of following through, I took a bite:

It was both bland and horrid, like a porridge made from roadkill. I took a few more bites, just to be sure that I was correct in my original assumption of meh. I was. In the end, I was so disappointed with the experience that I went slightly out of focus for a split-second:

Luckily, we were able to catch it all on film.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Oooh, Pretty...

Multi-colored wires suspended in midair by the magical properties of magnets in this piece from Brooklyn-based artist Julianne Swartz. Oooh, pretty!!!

How The Restaurant Industry Says Goodbye

My girlfriend hit me in the face with a large handful of shaving cream last night (because our home life is much like a Marx Brothers movie) and, as I was showering off, I was struck with a sense of deja vu so powerful I nearly invented time travel.

What I was reminded of was this:

After I finished film school in New York, I was broke. Like, scary broke. The kind of broke where spending 35 cents on a pack of gum is considered "a night on the town." Because I hadn't bothered to secure living arrangements or, you know, a job for post-graduation, I was pretty much staring down a life of couch surfing and/or engaging in knife fights for the rights to the most comfortable park benches in the city. But, before I could find a really good pair of hobo slacks and get used to the taste of soup kitchen chow, my family intervened. Come home, they said, your old room hasn't been rented out or converted into a pilates lounge yet, so it's all yours. For a little while. I mean, we love you but... you know... let's set a date for your departure, shall we?

So, because my options were limited, I swallowed my pride, choked on it a little, nearly spit it back up, but eventually got it all the way down and I moved back in with my folks. All things considered, it wasn't too bad of an arrangement; my parents and I got along well enough, I fell back into a relationship with an old girlfriend (the aforementioned "Sarah") and soon after my arrival I was gainfully employed.

My new master was that venerable Aussie-themed purveyor of meats, Outback Steakhouse. It was, in all honesty, a great place to work. Everyone was friendly, our management team were all hard-drinking, hilarious guys roughly my age, and we waiters weren't forced to be all peppy and wear obnoxious buttons on our uniforms or anything like that. Plus, the food was (and still is) fantastic, or, at least, as fantastic as you're going to find in a corporate-run restaurant chain. The only problem was my particular store's location; the hood. It was the first Outback in North Texas and, when it opened, it was snugly located in a bustling, middle-class community. The ensuing years, however, had not been kind to this particular part of Arlington, Texas and, by the time I got there, it was the kind of place where we male employees had to walk the hostesses to their cars at night because if we didn't, we probably wouldn't see them again. Because of this, business was slow. There were days when I'd work a double shift and walk away with only 40$ in tips. For those of you not familiar with the Front-Of-House lifestyle, let me assure you that that is a bad situation. Especially for someone like me, who's working with the intent of saving his nickles, his eyes set on getting out of his parents house and out of his hometown as quickly as is financially feasible.

Eventually, after about six months in the steak-slinging trenches, I had saved enough to get gone. My destination: Los Angeles. Why? I have no fucking idea. I guess I figured that, since I'd just graduated from film school, it was only natural that I should try my luck in the city that gave reason and purpose to the very existence of film schools in the first place. It also had a lot to do with me just wanting to get the hell out of Arlington; I'll admit fully that I wasn't thinking as clearly as I should have been. My time in LA was as short and miserable as a broken-hearted midget, but that's a story for another time.

The day before my last shift at the OB, my manager pulled me aside and said, "Hey, tomorrow, you might want to bring an extra set of clothes with you." I thought he was kidding but his eyes told me different. "Why?," I asked. He just stared at me and shook his head; "Seriously, just do it."

I had no idea what to expect. Scenes from Goodfellas and Deliverance flashed through my mind. I barely slept that night. My last shift was a bone-cruncher; one of those all-too-rare nights where people showed up en masse for our Bloomin' Onions and "No Rules, Just Right" ethos. My section was constantly full and my mind, consequently, was doing wind sprints trying to keep up with the drink orders for table four, the request for extra ketchup for table five, the re-fire for all the steaks on table six (BASTARDS!) and on, and on, and on... all nervousness and trepidation forgotten. Finally, things quieted down and a calm descended. I picked up my last check, walked back into the kitchen and my manager looked at me, dragging his thumb across his throat, signifying that I was cut; time to count up the tips and make my merry way out of this town, hopefully for good.

Just past the kitchen, there was a little, narrow table up against the wall where we waiters would stand at the end of the evening to do all the various bits of arithmetic that were required of us before we could leave. I was the only one there, oddly enough, but I didn't really notice. I was focused on wrapping all of this up. I began to work on my credit card receipts and had just started writing down the totals when I heard footsteps running up behind me.

I turned towards the noise and had just enough time to see a friend of mine, a fellow waiter named Tyler who had a grin like Satan and a similar sense of humor, sprinting at me full bore while hoisting a large, white bucket the size of garbage can. And the bucket was sloshing over. Before I had time to react, the entire contents of the bucket was upended over my head, drenching me in the foulest, slimiest, most viscous liquid I've ever had in direct contact with my skin. Allow me to list for you the contents of said bucket:

-Salad dressing (various)
-Grease run-off from the grill
-Fish oil
-Steak sauce
-Mop water
-Coffee grounds
-Ice cream
-Every soda from our taps
-A wad of spit from every single employee on shift that night

I stood there in shock, every inch of me soaked through. That's when they hit me with a large container of seasoned flour, which quickly bonded with the nasty wetness to form a kind of a paste. As the coup de grace, I received a face-full of whipped cream from one of our cooks, who then let out a loud, "Aye-yi-yi-YI!!!!" I realized then that the entire restaurant's staff had gathered in the kitchen to watch the show. They let out a huge cheer and I knew, immediately, that I was not being mocked; that I wasn't being tormented out of meanness or malice. It was a cheer of love, and if you haven't experienced one of those, dude, you're missing out on the good stuff.

A cold bottle of beer was thrust into my hand and, after I'd wiped away the crud from eyes, I became the end point for a long line of grungy handshakes and grody hugs. Well-wishers all, they were sad to see me leave but proud that I was headed off for ostensibly bigger and better things (that's not the way it turned out, but at the time the future looked shiny and bright). My fetid, disgusting clothes were eventually shed into a garbage bag and thrown away; really, there was no hope for a recovery from the state they were in. The dishwasher was kind enough to hose me down with the large, industrial sprayer and, after I'd changed into my extra set of clothes that I'd so mindfully been warned to bring, we partied long into the night.

For the next few days, my hair reeked of fish and it took several goes with a series of Q-tips to dislodge all the coffee grounds from within my ears, but the smell and the unearthed grit never failed to make me smile. Thinking back on it now, it still does. I know that I'll probably never get that kind of send-off again and that makes me a little sad. Sure there might be cake in the break room when I leave this office and, sure, there might be cards and whatnot from whatever jobs I leave in the future. Still...

Nothing says love quite like twenty gallons of horrid goo. Nothing ever really will.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Fun Afternoon

I don't usually like to brag about stuff, but there are just some instances when I just can't keep the bravado in. Times like these: While you guys are all at work, slaving away, watching the clock tick ever-so-slowly towards 5pm, I, C-Dog, will be spending the remainder of my afternoon talking about debt consolidation with a credit counselor.

That right, you heard me. Debt consolidation. With a credit counselor, no less.


P.S. My life is so exciting that you all just got motion sickness.

Movie Poster A Go-Go: Eight Ball

People worked hard to bring these posters to a theater near you. I will now mock their hard work. It's what I do.


The first thing that's readily apparent is that the girl third from the left wants to eat your soul. I don't know about the other ones; maybe they're all soul-eating demons too, maybe not (I'm not really up on the whole Bratz mythology). And another thing... Movie Studio, do you really want to invite subtle, sexual implications to a movie about teen girls by using the phrase "Out of the box?" Maybe I'm just a big ol' perv, but don't be surprised if you find your screenings attended by an unhealthy mixture of tweens and guys who smell like Doritos, body odor and loneliness who want very badly to sit next to the tweens. Furthermore, I'll probably never get an opportunity to say the word "tweens" again so, one more time: Tweens! It's a fun word to say!!!

28 Weeks Later

Love the poster, but then again I'm a fan of anything "quarantine-y." Don't know about the movie it's self, though. I mean, zombies are always a welcome presence on my movie screen, don't get me wrong, and I was as big a fan of it's predecessor, 28 Days Later, as you're likely to find. Still, I was fairly happy with the way the original movie ended (the grim version, not the happy version) and I don't really think that a sequel is, you know, entirely necessary as such. This, though, is coming from the guy who's had a perpetual movie-boner ever since he heard Die Hard 4 was coming out, so take this opinion with a fuckload of salt.

88 Minutes

The poster's text is written in French and, despite claims in earlier posts, my French is pretty weak. So I'm not real sure what's going on in this movie. I'm assuming that Al Pacino has 88 minutes to do... something. Perhaps put out the camper fire behind him. Perhaps start more camper fires? There's even the possibility that the camper fire is just a red herring and the plot of the movie concerns his 88 minute dash across town to get to the dry cleaners before they close. That doesn't explain the gun he's holding, of course, but we can chalk that up to the movie simply being set in a bad neighborhood. East St. Louis, maybe? Baltimore? My money's on Pacino shooting his dry-cleaner before it's all over with. Also, he probably yells a lot, because he gets paid by the decibel (or so I hear).

Black Sheep

Heh... heh heh... heh... Killer sheep are awesome! Yeah, this is kind of a crappy, photoshop-y poster but, dudes, c'mon. A few dozen killer sheep will cover a multitude of graphic design sins. This is playing at the Tribeca Film Festival next week (which I just happen to be covering for the magazine thankyouverymuch) and I will be at the screening, come hell, high water, snotty festival employees or whatever. I never knew that I had such a burning desire to watch a sheep eat someone, but here we are.

License To Wed

Oh, John Krasinski how could you?!?! You're on The Office, dude, and you're brilliant! Do you hate your fans? Do you hate your career? Because choosing to do a comedy with Robin Williams and Mandy Moore is the same thing as participating in a snuff film. Oh... god... are the producers of License To Wed holding your family hostage? Because that's the only thing that makes sense. John, blink once if you or your family is in danger. Remain calm; try not to throttle Robin Williams when he breaks out the Elmer Fudd impression that we all got tired of in the early 90's. Help is on the way!!!

Evan Almighty

You too, Steve Carell? You too? Fuck, man... someone needs to check The Office studios for asbestos because the cast is starting to show symptoms of moderate brain damage.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Let's Get Out Of This Country" By Camera Obscura

I'm so not up to being entertaining today. Very glum and awfully meh. Nothing I particularly want to talk about, but if you were to assume that it had something to do with me being a total scumbag to people who don't deserve it, you'd be pretty well on the mark. So, with that in mind, here's a band. Watch them play instruments and sing and whatnot. They're neat-o:

Maybe more later. Maybe not. I like to keep you on your toes.

Fighting In Public

One of the side benefits of riding mass transit all the time is, occasionally, you get to see some spectacular relationship drama unfold right in front of you. A man and a woman, usually young and dramatic types, will let their mutual anger boil over during a long ride and what had started out as a boring commute to work suddenly becomes the best 20-something soap opera you've seen since the WB went off the air. They're yelling and screaming and calling each other horribly explicit names and everyone else in the car is trying not look at them so hard they're breaking a sweat.

Personally, I like to stare. And choose sides. And giggle. Because the way I figure it, if you've already committed to throwing down in public, you're just going to have to live with the audience you draw. Besides, we as a collective body of fellow passengers fucking love it when people air out their dirty laundry, figuratively speaking. It's hilarious! And it sure beats the homeless people who quite literally air out their dirty laundry. That's just stinky and it doesn't contain the same schadenfreudian thrills.

Unfortunately, I've got quite a bit of experience when it comes to public fighting. An ex-girlfriend of mine, Sarah (not her real name, yo!), had absolutely no compunction about going toe-to-toe with me in front of our friends, total strangers, my co-workers, her co-workers, while I was getting a physical, over the PA system at a baseball game, etc. She was a vicious one, for sure, and I, being young and stupid, would indulge her by screaming and yelling right back, paying no mind to, say, the man giving the eulogy at the front of the church.

There was one incident in particular that sticks in my mind... This was back when I lived in Austin and, on this particular day, Sarah and I were at my place of employment trying to pick out a movie for us to watch later that evening. For some reason, Sarah wanted me to watch a movie she'd seen already and hated, so we could, her words, "hate it together." This sounded like utter lunacy to me and I said as much. Well, apparently me not wanting to watch a movie that she'd already told me was terrible for the sole reason that we could both be in agreeance on the matter of it's terribleness was one of her rage triggers. We started heatedly debating the situation, me taking the "You're being an idiot" side of the argument and her taking the, if I remember correctly, "I'm a raving madwoman" position. As we both stated our cases, our volume rose. We became the focal point of the video store and, when she started throwing DVD cases at me, the manager (a friend of mine) asked us politely to, "get the fuck out, dude."

So we took it to the streets which, if you're a fan of martial arts movies you'll know, is where all the best fights happen. More room to execute a really perfect jump kick.

Now, keep in mind, this was in a heavily student-populated area of Austin known to residents as West Campus. And, to ensure we had a maximum capacity crowd, it was a pleasantly cool Spring evening at around 6 or 7pm. Optimum time for a stroll and, hey, let's take in these two red-faced, shrieking morons while we're out on the town! I bet one of them threatens to call the police on the other! Oh, what fun!!!

Yes, Sarah did at one point threaten to call the police on me. Why? Can't say. I think she wanted everyone that was watching (a crowd that could be compared favorably to that in attendance at a boat show or a police auction) to think that I was a dangerous guy. Maybe she was hoping one of the thick-necked, jock-ular types would step manfully from the audience and give my doughy frame the thrashing it so richly deserved for not wanting to watch a shitty movie for the sake of it's shittiness. Whatever the reason, it didn't work, what with everyone, rightly so, preferring to watch us make asses of ourselves and all.

We carried on for a good twenty minutes before she finally decided that the dramatic, stomp-off was the punctuation mark she was looking for. I, in a rare burst of common sense, elected not to follow her, choosing instead to find a bar and have the entirety of it's liquid contents brought to me one glass at a time until my memory of the evening's events was wiped clean.

My point is, essentially, I've soooo been there. Fortunately, things are different these days. Girlfriend abhors public displays of anger as much as I do; more so, even. It's a nice change, though I hate to think of all the poor, bored commuters who've been deprived of some mid-journey entertainment.

Ah well, I'm sure they'll deal. And if not, I'd be happy to fight with them about it. Shall we say the R Train at 5pm?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bath Shame

Last night, for the first time in at least fifteen years, I took a bath. Which isn't to say that I haven't bathed in fifteen years, of course... I'm just one that takes his daily cleaning ritual standing up, shower-style, preferably with ridiculously hot water and enough energy to belt out a few show tunes while I wash my hair (Hair, incidentally, is a popular selection for mid-shower singing).

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is that, while soaking in the tub, I suddenly realized that I was filled with shame. Like, we're talking real embarrassment here. I sat there, red-faced, considering the bar of soap and hoping to God (or whomever) that no one I knew would suddenly come barging in, camera at the ready, to document this humiliating situation I'd gotten myself into.

Why all the fuss? Because baths are for girls.

Or at least that's what popular opinion would have me believe. And, truthfully, I think the popular opinion is dead on with this one. Taking a bath is... well... kinda girly. It implies stress relief and candles and big frothy mounds of white bubbles while the Indigo Girls or possibly Tori Amos play softly in the background. Also, baths imply sweet-smelling fragrances that most men wouldn't be caught dead smelling like; it really is hard to have one without the other.

Now, before I go any further, note that I had a perfectly good reason to be in a bathtub last night. Actually, it's the only acceptable reason for a man to take a bath: Injury. Due to my aforementioned foot pain, coupled with the basic rigors of walking for three days straight while being out of shape and overweight, the lower half of my body is pretty fucked up. Sore, blistered, cramped and over-taxed, my legs feel like they've been attacked by a group of thugs, viciously and repeatedly. With bats, even.

Thus, a soothing bath. And I have to admit, it felt damn good. Except for the shame part, which I guess there's just no getting over.

My larger question here is this: How does something like baths become "A Girl Thing" all of a sudden. Is it entirely the fault of movies and TV? Because I know for a fact that I've seen Clint Eastwood playing a cowboy having a nice, relaxing soak. Maybe, for me at least, it's because the girl I'm most often around, Girlfriend, takes a lot of baths (she likes to read in the tub) and, therefore, I associate bath-taking with her and, by proxy, all things girly. Whatever the case may be, I think it's time that we men reclaim bathtime; move it back to neutral, everyone-is-invited territory where it really does belong.

Baths shouldn't be just a girl thing. They should be "A People Thing." If for no other reason than it's hard to drink a glass of whiskey in the shower without the aid of a sippy cup. And that right there is "A Baby Thing" of which we will have no part. So lets get in the tub, men (not altogether, unless you're into that sort of thing). It may feel wrong at first; we've got a lot of stereotyping to get over, for sure. But eventually you'll just go "Aaaaaaahhhhhh."

Oh, also, someone should contact Old Spice about making a bubble bath just for us. Something butch.

Zombie Fights Shark... In Chicago!!!

So, first things first, I want to extend large, fancily wrapped parcels filled-to-bursting with thanks to both Braden and Girlfriend for filling in for me while I was away. They both did a super job, and I'm happy to know that they've got my back, blog posting-wise. I assume that they'd also have my back in a bar fight (particularly Girlfriend; she's small but mighty), but as of yet that assumption has not been tested.

Now, my Chicago trip... How was it? Was there merriment? How about excitement? Did I find myself singing and dancing on a parade float like Ferris Bueller? Is there any deep-dish pizza left in the city after I'd had my fill? The answers to those questions and more can be found below in a post I'd like to call:


NOTE: The following will be presented in bullet point-style because I'm too lazy to string together paragraphs in a coherent fashion this early in the morning.

Pizza - Never would I have thought to call a pizza "slutty," but the one that I was served on Friday afternoon certainly qualified. Large, round, beckoning to me from the plate all hot and saucy, it's cheese bubbling as it enrobed the many, many toppings. Oh god, I'm getting a boner just thinking back. I'm sure that there are places in Chicago that serve a better pie than Giordano's but, seriously, I don't know if I could handle anything better than what I had. Like, if I were to eat a pizza that was a few notches higher on the Taste-O-Meter, there's a very good chance that my head would swivel entirely around the way owl's do when they're being creepy and then my brain would shoot out my ears like a busted water main. Just so you've got the full picture, here's what I had in (in, not "on") my pizza: Sausage, Pepperoni, Onion, Green Pepper and Mushrooms. Now, wipe the drool from your keyboard and lets move on.

Homeless - I've never in my 26 years of living in various urban environments encountered a homeless population as aggressive as the one in Chicago. And remember, this is coming from a guy who lives in New York, where the homeless routinely throw cups of their own pee at you for looking at them wrong. I had guys come up to me outside of bars and start jabbering while I was on the phone, I had very fragrant men follow me for blocks screaming that they needed to eat, I walked down a stretch of road near Millennium Park where I was asked for spare change at every single intersection for ten blocks!!! It was nuts, kids. My favorite, though, was a rough, pungent man who said his name was Squeaky; he helpfully pointed out where my friend Amy could find a Citibank and then he hewed close to us for three blocks, informing us that he was Chicago's premier (unlicensed) tour guide, and that he'd really like a dollar because he was, his words, "tryin' to get [his] ass a gyro." I gave him the dollar, but only because I was certain that he'd have followed us back to the hotel, to all the tourist attractions, and on to the plane home if I didn't.

Touristy Stuff - We checked out the Field Museum, where they've got the man-eating tigers that were the basis of the movie The Ghost in the Darkness, and we went to the Shedd Aquarium, which was just okay. Once you've been to the World Aquarium in Dallas, all other aquariums kind of look like the fat best friend, but it's still always cool to see a giant turtle and some sea horses. We hung out at the Navy Pier, which was basically a large mall with rides. Oh, speaking of, Amy coerced me into going on one of those swing-based rides where they (the swings) hang down from a canopy and then fly out about thirty feet off the ground when the whole thing starts revolving and tilting. Yeah, if the people of Chicago haven't seen a fucking terrified fat guy before, they have now. Also at the Navy Pier, we went on the big, famous Ferris Wheel. That, too, was just okay. It was very high up, for sure, and Lake Michigan is a shade of blue we don't see too much in the NYC area, but still... it was cold up there and it moved veeeeery slowly. The main event, for me anyway, was catching a game at Wrigley Field. Though I wish it had been a bit better of a game (1-0, Reds), just being in that grand, old ballpark with it's many thousands of blue-clad, screaming fans was an experience that will forever be etched onto the walls of my memory banks. Simply amazing and worth the trip just by it's self if you happen to be a baseball fan.

Touristy Stuff We Didn't Do - We didn't do the Hancock Building or the Sears Tower because, really, we've got tall buildings where I live and I'm sort of over that whole "grand vistas" thing. Maybe next time, just to say I've done it but, eh. We also didn't go to Second City because I realize that I've reached a point in my life where I can no longer handle improv comedy. Even really good improv comedy just leaves me as cold and uncomfortable as an Alaskan stripper. Stand-up comedy? Sure! Sketch comedy? Let's do it! Improv? None for me, thanks. You guys are far too energetic and I don't feel like shouting out a place, a fruit and a starting position if that's okay.

Hangover - Saturday morning was brutal. We went out drinking with friends and let's just say that the hangover that comes from drinking many, many Old Styles is just as bad as the hangovers that come from drinking any other cheap, region-specific beer you'd find anywhere else. Proud to say, though, that I made it out of Chicago without vomiting from the after-effects of alcohol. The things I'm proud of are sad.

Dunkin' Donuts - Seriously Chicago, what the fuck is up with all the Dunkin' Donuts? I counted over thirty during my trip, and that's just in the relatively small part of Chicago that I managed to see. A little excessive, dontcha think?

Public art - If I took anything away from my trip to Chicago, it's that you guys have, hands down, got New York beat in the "weird, public art" category. We saw two, giant glass columns with looping videos of close-up human faces on them. We saw a giant, silver bean. We saw a veritable forest of steel, rusty, tree-sized sculptures of legs pretending to walk around. It was all very... weird. Don't worry, I've got pictures.

And... yes... that should do it for now. When I get my film developed (because digital cameras are for millionaires), I'll throw some of the good ones up and you can all be bored because, for real, who cares about somebody else's lame-ass vacation photos.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My Feet Hurt

As it turns out, the fact that I live in New York, don't own a car, and am no stranger to walking great distances, doesn't matter a goddamned bit when I'm wearing the most inappropriate vacation shoes ever (a pair of Rhino steel-toed boots, which have become my defacto footwear soley due to the fact that they're the only pair I own that are free of holes).

Seriously, my feet feel much the same way that those of Lt. John McLaine did about ten minutes after Hans Gruber ordered his men to, "Shoot the glass." We're talking big-time, action movie pain over here.

Anyway... just wanted to tell everyone that I'm, finally, blessedly, home. The trip was a good time and I'm sure you'll hear all about very soon, though I promise I won't be one of those bloggers that takes one trip and talks about it non-stop for three and a half months. Because nobody likes that guy. Or girl.

Right, well, regular posts resume now(ish).

After I lop off my feet, of course.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Five Things Clint and His Girlfriend Argue About

Dear friends, please don’t despair, Clinton will return! In approximately 45 hours he’ll be stepping off a plane ready to post the addictive bloggings of wit and whiskey that you (Yes, You!) crave. So stop your moping, cease your keening, and stop threatening to slit your wrists. No, Seriously, you have so much to live for…call a hotline or something.

Until the return of He-Who-Lives-With-Me I’d like to fill in with a segment that documents the intimate life between the lovable drunk and me: Girlfriend. Just consider me the methadone to Clint’s heroin; I’ll make the worst of your shakes go away, but you know you’ll be back on the junk inside a week.

The section is inspired by Mil Millington’s Hilarious book and is aptly titled:

Five Things Clint and His Girlfriend Have Argued About

1. Movies. In a stereotypical relationship both parties tend to veer towards different tastes when it comes to the cinema. She may like romantic comedies while he may enjoy action films, and it seems very normal. When Clint and I moved in together there was talk about sharing a joint Netflix account…If the both of us had made that decision the relationship would have ended. No, not ended as in break up, or even in a trashy public fight, but in a steel cage match where we had to use mechanic’s wrenches to bludgeon each other into wet, fleshy puddles. It’s not so simple as he likes Westerns and I like drama, it’s the comparison of a pretty mainstream movie-goer and Clinton who spent a considerable chunk of his adult life working consensually at video stores. I enjoy watching films that are released in Unites States theatres, and Clinton gets his jollies from watching Italian horror flicks from the 1970’s and other genres just as obscure. Sure, you could call my taste in movies boring and predictable, but after a while a girl just wishes for movies she could pronounce the title to.

2. Our first date. Little known fact: Clint and I met through Craigslist when I answered his ad. Yes! Internet Dating Works! However, C-dog proposed our first date over instant message while drinking and thus forgot. I only found out later that he broke our first date arrangement to go out with another girl…you guessed it, from Craigslist. I took the whole deal in stride, not because I’m a really caring and understanding person but because I will always have the upper hand in any fight:

Clint: You left the door open when you got home and the cat got out!

Girlfriend: Well, at least I didn’t cancel our first date because I was too drunk to remember it!

3. Crossing the Street. We live in Brooklyn and do lots of walking, but crossing the street is often an ordeal. Clint will stop if he senses a car coming, and throw his arm up to clothesline me before my feet leave the curb. It doesn’t matter if I have the right of way or not. In his defense Clinton will often say “I didn’t know they were going to slow down” or “You weren’t even looking” to me, but little does he know my genius plan of getting run over and collecting settlement checks for the rest of my days. First I get the money, then I get the power, then I get the women.

4. Soymilk. Soymilk is banned from the house. (TMI warning) Ever since chocolate soymilk was invented I was a huge fan, and every once in a while Whole Foods will have a big enough sale that I’d be seduced into buying half a dozen cartons. Not for any vegan or health-conscious reason, just because I like the taste. Embarrassing, but true but a gallon of soymilk consumed in less than 24 hours does terrible things to a person’s digestive tract. I refuse to go into more detail than that, but Clint has issued an edict that limits the amount of Silk chocolate soymilk that I can consume within a certain time span without being exiled from the communal bed-space.

5. Bathroom decorum. If you asked Clinton what his number one pet-peeve he would tell you about my incredibly serious infractions with leaving water on the bathroom floor. It’s true; I just called him and asked him what we fight about. So sue me, I was running out of ideas. And just like that a squabble erupted from four states away, because I should be allowed to track water around the house if Clinton is allowed to leave beer cans in the shower. I mean, it’s sooo déclassé to walk into the shower covered in Schlitz cans…it isn’t even imported beer!

That’s it chickadees! Enjoy the rest of your weekend, Clint will be back Monday! Oh, if you ever wonder why I remain anonymous as simply “Girlfriend” it’s because I teach at a public school and would never want to risk my hide. Here’s a shameless plug to my anonymous blog about teaching
  • Teach You A Lesson

  • --Girlfriend

    Friday, April 13, 2007

    Undersea Skidoo!

    Hi folks, Clint's friend Braden here, one of your substitute bloggers while Le Frère Régulier gets a slice o' his in Chicago. Hope you enjoy my guest post: a tribute to nature's ultimate rivals, the Zombie and the Shark.

    Oooh, Pretty ...

    A room filled with connected, hanging boxes made from gel filters, ball chain and aluminum created by artist Lisa Hoke. Oooh, pretty!!!

    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    While Daddy's Away...

    Just wanted to give you guys a heads up on what's going to be happening around ZFS! while I'm off partying in the Midwest:

    -There will be an Oooh, Pretty tomorrow, come rain or come shine, so no worries there.

    -I've given a couple of people carte blanche to guest blog in my stead. I'm leaving frequency of posts and content entirely in their capable, silken hands, so I can't tell you exactly what stuff will be up and when. However, I'm sure it's all going to be high-ass quality*, so it's all good.

    -Know in your heart that, while I'm shoving Chicago-style pizza and loaded hot dogs into my gaping maw at a rate that would shock even the most dedicated of gluttons, I'll only be thinking of you. Yes, you; the person reading this right now.

    And... yes... I guess that's everything. I'll be back on Tuesday, recovered in full with any luck and hopefully without any outstanding warrants for my arrest. We'll pick it up from there.

    No tears. Be brave. Love to all!!!


    *They've been warned, though, that if they're too funny, there will be consequences. Horrible, terrible consequences**.

    **I'm going to pout and slam the door real loud and threaten to hold my breath until I die n' stuff.

    Weird Lunch

    Your eyes do not deceive; it's like Ramen, but cheese-flavored. I'm eating it as I type this (I multi-task like a motherfucker) and it's... well... it's not bad. Let me start by saying that; it certainly compares favorably to the other varieties of Ramen-esque lunches that I've had in the past. It tastes, actually, a lot like Cheeze Doodles, which is partly where the problem that I''m having lies. See, the thing is, a man's lunch shouldn't be disconcertingly flavored like something else. It would be the same if you ate a cheeseburger that tasted like a chicken sandwich; food-wise, they're in the same ballpark, but they're distinctly from opposite sides of the stands, if you get my meaning, and they should stay that way. My opinion, of course, but I feel I'm on solid ground.
    Also a problem, it's got the same soupiness of a regular, everyday bowl of Ramen. That is to say, it's watery. It's cheese-flavored water that I'm currently sipping and that's just... weird. It's like if you walked into your apartment after a day at work and found that all of your furniture had been moved a couple of inches to the left; that feeling of not-quite-rightness is prevalent and it's made for the lunch-time equivalent of a waking dream.
    Oh, and there are weird little green bits floating in the water, too. Evidence of a lost civilization? Flakes of interstellar matter that have drifted down from the atmosphere? Parsley? I think I'm better off not knowing.
    Anyway, I've finished it and I feel pleasingly full. I'm going to eat a couple of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups now. I expect no trouble from them.

    Vacation Excitement

    Tomorrow, I embark on a three-day, whirlwind, crazy-go-nuts, multi-drink excursion to the place known by some as The Windy City, by most as Chicago, and by a few people from the state-run home as That Shiny Place Where We Get Ice Cream Sometimes.

    Yes, it's vacation time for C-Dog and honestly I couldn't be more excited. I know that everyone loves vacations but, for we that choose to live in New York, going somewhere else is a particular thrill. Maybe it's because we're all broke and must always choose food and rent over trips to exotic locales, or maybe it's because none of us have cars and are therefore limited in our travel options to the far-flung burgs offered up by our various mass transit lines... but whatever the reason, though I love this city, occasionally getting away from it is a special sort of joy. Yes, even if your destination is another big city. It's still different. Everything, no matter what, is exciting and new:

    "We're hanging out in our hotel's lobby... in Chicago!!!"

    "We're looking for deodorant in a Walgreens... in Chicago!!!"

    "We're belatedly doing our taxes... in Chicago!!!"

    "We're sitting in the ER holding a towel to our nose to sop up the never-ending flow of blood because somebody had to pick a fight with a construction worker... in Chicago!!!"

    No matter what, you're breaking ground and blazing new trails. It's like being one of the great and noble explorers of yore, only you're much more likely to "discover" some deep-dish pizza and the odds of you contracting smallpox are admittedly slim.

    I'm also excited because no one in our group has yet revealed themselves to be a psychotic "planner." You know the type: they've got a detailed itinerary for every day, they're probably wearing a fanny-pack at all times, and God help you if you've got to take a leak before the scheduled bathroom break; that will throw everything off and we might as well go home! They're the people that, more than likely, end up getting pushed into a canal or a lake or whatever body of water is nearest, deepest and has the largest chance of being stocked with fish that eat people. My crew, though... we've got an idea of a few things we want to see (thanks, by the way, to everyone for their excellent suggestions) but we know that we've got plenty of time to do what we want and see what we want and, besides, too much planning leaves little time for the serious business of drinking... in Chicago!!!

    See, that works for everything.