You must be at least this HIV positive...

I finally got health insurance and decided it's time to go to the doctor for a physical. I figure five years is pushing it.

So I went to my insurance company's website to find a provider. I don't really know what I'm looking for, other than "Family Practice" and "General Medicine," so the wealth of options is kind of lost on me. All I could really narrow from my search were the OBGYNs.

But finally I found a guy who's within walking distance from my place and accepting new patients. I rang him up:

"Thanks for calling the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, can I help you?" Wha? Does the doc work AT the Gay and Lesbian Center? I can handle that much...I just figured they'd answer the phone with, y'know, "Dr. So and So's office, can I help you?"

I explain I'm looking for the doctor and I'm transferred. Another woman answers that she's having a great day at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. I explain, again, that I'm a new patient trying to schedule and appointment. She puts me through to someone else.

Now I'm on the phone with a very uninterested older black woman. She walks me through the usual rigamarole: why am I scheduling a check-up, phone number, address, social security number, insurance provider, etc. Then the last question hits.

"When did you discover you're HIV positive?"

"I...wait, what? I'm not HIV positive."

"You're saying you're not HIV positive?"

"No.......do I have to be to see the doctor?"

"Yes. This is an infectious diseases clinic."

"Oh, well, my insurance company didn't mention that part on the website. Sorry."

"Okay. Good luck in your search."


Setting aside the fact that "Infectious Diseases Clinic" is a horrible name for a doctor's office, wouldn't that be something you might want to mention on your listing? Not even to shoo off the people who don't need to visit you; I think people specifically looking for infectious diseases doctors would appreciate a clear label so that they don't have to call all the medical offices in their neighborhood and go through the opposite scenario: "Hi, I have HIV and I want to see a doc-...hello?"

So I got denied by a doc. For not having HIV. Which is kind of like the ER kicking you out for not having a gunshot wound to the face. But I really can't complain since it could be worse. I could have HIV.


So, how was your Saturday?

Mine was pretty good. I started a new improv class and the people in it are motivated and excited and it's good to feel the energy, especially after my last class was kind of...well, flat. The people were fun and we had a good time, but I didn't feel like many of them were looking to do this sort of thing outside of class. But I am; so it's nice to connect with people like I did today.

Oh yeah, and Jerry O'Connell is in my class. Yeah. Gordo.

Fucking rad.


I've been way too political lately.

It's not all gay marriage protests and inane ramblings about a lame duck president. In fact, most of the time I don't write anything at all. So today for Fun Friday I'm showing you why I don't find the time to blog as much.

If you don't have a copy of Spore yet, run out and get one. My user id is llandar. Let's share animals or something.


Completely random and possibly delusional thought of the day

If someone presented me with evidence showing that George W. Bush and his band of war criminals staff anticipated a severe liberal backlash in the elections months ahead of time and started plotting an economic disaster for the next Democratic president (we knew the Dems would win...the only tough race this year was between Obama and Clinton) to inherit, my only reason for not believing it would be the fact that I'd have to accept George W. Bush actually planned for something.


Proposition: REVENGE

I live in Los Angeles, a city in California, a state which you may have recently read voted to ban same sex marriage.

It's not like people decided "we're not ready for this and we don't want it to start."  It was already legal.  Gay couples had been getting hitched since early May 2008, when the Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage by arguing that the Constitution protects "a fundamental right to marry," and fundamental rights have to extend to gays too.

Simple enough, right?  People are people, and people get to marry.  I like that idea.

However there are some people who just can't sit idly by while others are enjoying their lives (incidentally, the Prop 8 site ProtectMarriage.com has taken down its list of endorsements.  They will, however, still take your donations.  That's nice of them.) so a new proposition was written to change the State Constitution to read something like (and I'm paraphrasing here) "California only recognizes marriage as a union between a man and woman."

Here's my argument as to why Prop 8 is one of the most bigoted, hateful, and ILLEGAL pieces of legislation ever conceived in this state or any other:  too many people are focusing on the adjective.  The "gay" or "same-sex" part doesn't matter.  Boil the sentence down to its bare parts and here's what you get:  "Prop 8 proposes eliminating the right of ___ people to marry."  That's it.  We're banning PEOPLE from getting married.  What if I changed it to "black people?"  Or "Muslim people?"  Or "Communist people?"  I'd be laughed at and ostracized, and rightfully so.

But thanks to The Church of Latter-Day Saints, who bankrolled literally 77% of the donations for this proposition, Prop 8 was voted into law.

So I and a lot of my friends are upset because now the state says they can't get married.  And California tends to lead the country in passing controversial legislation, so there's a chance that a victory for gay rights here could've trickled east and inspired a few more states to do the same thing.  They might've inspired a few more, and so on until *gasp* we as a country could treat gays like...PEOPLE!  

However, since the precedent has been set, I see this as a great opportunity to turn the tables and start exercising my political agenda as well.  Since the Mormons have shown us that with enough money you can take way people's fundamental rights, I propose that on next year's ballot we vote to prohibit Mormon couples from marrying.

Think about it.  Who's more of a threat to the sanctity of marriage than polygamists?  Even the gays only wanted to marry each other one at a time.  I know they say they've left that quaint little pass-time behind, but once a bigamist always a bigamist, I say.  

It's not about getting revenge on Mormons; that's just an added bonus.  The point is that Mormons, with their polygamist ways, aversion to caffeine, and constant proselytizing throughout the third world, are a genuine risk to normal, right-thinking marriage as we know it.  By god a man should have one wife and one wife only, but they should both be able to drink a god damn cup of coffee if they feel like it.

PS, as long as we're standing up for the sanctity of the American Family, Utah (long the nation's Mormon capital) has higher-than-most rates of spousal abuse, child abuse, and teen suicide.  In fact, according to Utah's Department of Human Services, 50-percent of all marriages will have at least one incidence of physical violence.  So ladies, if you're marrying Mormon, you've got a coin-flip to decide if you're gettin' smacked around or not.  Even if you somehow manage to land heads up, you've still got a 1 in 3 chance of experiencing emotional abuse at the hands of your partner.

So join me in protecting the sanctity of marriage.  When I or one of my volunteers comes to your door, sign the petition to ban Mormons from marrying.  You're voting to protect marriage as we know it; the revenge is just a bonus.


My new family is great.

I'm currently laid out (read: lazy) with a head cold and my new mother-in-law is helping Kat make me chicken soup. I hate calling Becca my mother-in-law, only because there are so many lame jokes and nasty anecdotes that revolve around that world. She's an amazing and wonderful woman who has welcomed me like her very own son and it's been hard for me to even fathom that people can be so nice.

The same goes for my new father- and sister-in-law, Peter and Kirsten. This new family of mine who just a year ago found out I existed and, oh by the way, that I was marrying Kat have been absolutely wonderful to me and shown me how great it feels to be welcomed.

It didn't stop there, though. Our wedding coincided with Kat's grandparents' 60th(!) wedding anniversary and a family reunion; I got to meet all kinds of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends whom I never knew and yet now I can't stop thinking about. Everyone is spread out across the globe and yet I'm really hopeful that we'll get together more regularly than a 60th anniversary bash.


Holy Crap getting married is complicated.

I don't mean the actual getting married part. That part we could do right now with a Justice of the Peace. But all the little stuff at a wedding is ridiculous. We need lights, but the light guys can't set up until we have the tents up, and the tent guys need to know where the music equipment is going, and the music guys want to know how many mic cables to bring, and I have no idea because I'm not the one singing.

There's food to be catered, dishes to be washed (Kat and I spent yesterday washing 96 place settings to get them ready for the wedding), guests to be housed, rings to be bought (I got mine yesterday and it looks awesome), spa days to attend, bachelor parties to blur through, etc. etc. etc.

And somewhere in between all that stuff we are supposed to have a good time.



I'm super frazzled, and it's not even wedding stuff that's got me down.

My mom's house caught fire.

Everyone's safe, and there doesn't seem to be much damage to the house, but obviously everyone's freaked out and my mom needs to get the house re-wired now.

My sister heard a pop and saw the fuse box blow up and catch fire. The Fire Department said there were no smoke detectors in the room, which my mom didn't know because she just bought the house recently and assumed they were installed.

Normally my mom keeps the door upstairs closed because my sister lives in the basement and likes her privacy. If my sister wasn't there at that moment to see that fuse explode...if she was asleep at the time...well, all I can say is this is the best possible outcome.

It's just frustrating hearing this news from so far away. I can't wait for my mom and sis to fly into Kona.


Dispatches from Hawaii #1

Kat and I landed on the island of Hawai'i Wednesday and it's been great so far. I was really nervous that the pressure of the wedding (eight days and counting) would ramp up and we'd end up bickering, but so far we've been having a blast. We've gotten our wedding license, finalized the cake, and...well, that's about it for official wedding business.

Yesterday we took a drive down to the beach and floated in the South Pacific for an hour or so. The ocean here is ridiculously beautiful. Crystal blue and a perfect temperature. The bay we swam in was really peaceful too, which was nice because I'm a good swimmer in a pool but I rank just above flailing guppy in the ocean. Kat, on the other hand, might be part porpoise, and regularly swims a good 20 or 30 yards out and dares me to follow. So I dog paddle out and sputter and gasp and it's good fun.

One of my other concerns was that we'd get out to Holualoa and spend our time eating and drinking and generally being merry while not spending any time in the gym and I'd balloon out of my wedding clothes (shirt by Hugo Boss, pants by Armani thankyouverymuch) but I found a solution: Kat's parents live at the bottom of a huge hill. It's only about a mile long, but it's a 22% incline. I stepped out yesterday in my workout clothes.

"Where ya goin'?" Kat's mom asked.

"I'm going to jog up your hill." Her eyes got big.

"Maybe I could drive you to the top and you could jog up there, instead."

"Nope! I'm gonna give it a shot!"

And I did give it a shot. I jogged about 25 yards before I felt like my lungs were going to collapse and my calf muscles were going to shoot out the backs of my legs like broken springs. But I made it to the top. Walking. And with many stops. I completely sweated through my clothes and couldn't stop gasping until after I had showered. My calves didn't stop shaking for a solid 20 minutes. So when Kat suggested we do it again today I was a little hesitant but I'm glad we're getting exercise in between our steak and eggs benedict and seared ahi.

I also got to experience my first Iron Man today. I've seen this before on NBC a few times and it seemed to me like a few fringe lunatics hellbent on ruining themselves just to say they could. I had no idea it was such a huge event, though. Kat's dad invited me last night to check out the starting gun with him. I shuddered when he mentioned that we'd have to be up and out the door by 6 am, but this was a chance to bond with my future father-in-law.

I like Kat's dad a lot. He's a huge imposing figure but he's always been magnanimous and welcoming and loving, which I can't appreciate enough. He's also very quiet though, and our past attempts at talking have wound up with some lengthy awkward pauses before. Granted, the last time we talked he had just met me AND found out I was marrying his daughter, so maybe the shock was settling in.

So at 5:30 this morning he knocked at our door and I got up to check out Iron Man. Kat decided to tag along, which was a mixed blessing because I knew she'd fill in a lot of the space if Peter (more on his name later) and I ran out of things to talk about but I also knew she'd end up talking with him a lot more and I'd have to make an effort to jump in.

Luckily it was just the opposite. I don't know if anything changed or if I was just overly sensitive before but we had a great time and the conversation never stalled. The Iron Man is RIDICULOUS. Athletes start out with a 2+ mile swim in the ocean, immediately hop out and bike 112 miles over the volcano in the scalding sun and heat wearing what I can only guess are spandex cocktail napkins stretched over their bodies. After the bike portion, they run 26 miles back to where they started. They start at 6:45 in the morning. The event lasts until midnight, and if you don't finish by then you're out, but some people finish this thing in as little as eight hours. I think after eight hours they would still be fishing for my lifeless body in the ocean.

After we saw the first hundred or so people finish their swim and start biking we took off for home. Once Kat and I finished our hill climb we headed to brunch, where I finally broached a subject that's been heavy on my mind.

I have no idea what to call Kat's dad. Her mom was quick to instruct me to call her "Mom" or Becca, and I'm fine with Becca. I have a weird hang up about calling other people "mom" or "dad," and I grew up with the instruction that grown-ups are "Mr." or "Ms.", but I'm immediately comfortable around Becca and had no problem falling right in to calling her by her first name. Kat's dad, though, I wasn't sure about. First, I was a little intimidated. I don't know if INTIMIDATED is the right word or not; basically I wanted to make a great first impression. Before I met him I told Kat I would be calling him "Mr. (last name)" - quick sidebar: I'm not sure how my future in-laws would feel about being mentioned in my little blog so I'm leaving out last names -

"Okay," Kat said, "but if you really want to get on his good side you should call him Doctor."

Yeah. He's a fishing captain AND a doctor. Which definitely upped the "Holy shit how do I impress this guy?" factor in my brain, but the Dr. thing threw me for a loop. Now it sounded too forced and overly polite. I wanted to sound casual and comfortable. "Dr." smacked of Eddie Haskel to me, and I figured it invited the inevitable "You can just call me Peter." So for most of our meetings I've just avoided addressing him by name. Which is probably why I feel like we haven't connected: I should just say, "Hey Peter, how's things?" Instead I had this weird mental block against using his name so I would have to wait for eye contact and then just address him as "you," as in "How are you doing?"

But I finally found my in when Kat thanked him for brunch and called him dad. Becca chimed in and called him "daddy-o," so naturally I asked if I could call him "daddy-o" also.

"Sure," he said. Well shit. I can't seriously call him daddy-o. I was hoping for a "You can just call me Peter."

"Yeah dad," Kat piped up, "what should Randy call you?" Yes! I love this woman!

"I never thought about it," he said, "Call me whatever you like. Peter. Pete. Dr. Lastname. Whatever." Perfect! I had the in, the official permission to use his first name. I don't know why it was such a big deal to me but I felt like a dam had burst. I could now throw out a "Hey Peter!" I can now stop these weird awkward conversations where I can only ask questions to "you." I am fitting in with my new family.

So far, Hawaii is treating me pretty nicely.


Yoga Fire!

Kat and I went to a yoga class yesterday. It was my first time ever doing yoga, and her second. We were both interested but kind of intimidated since we're new to it and the class is HUGE.

I have never sweat so much in my entire life, ever. For just STRETCHING, this was pretty ridiculous. I discovered I have the flexibility of dried tree bark.

There were some plusses:

I did not fart. I've heard horror stories and I was super paranoid that I would rip one and peel the paint off the walls.

The guy next to me farted.

The guy behind him laughed.

The girl in front of Kat fell asleep and started snoring. Seriously.

I did not get a boner. This was another fear of mine given that we would be sweating and stretching and I was surrounded by lithe women in spandex. Luckily I kept my composure.

So all in all, a success! Now if I could just keep my hamstrings from cramping I'll be ready for session two!

Holy Christ.

Go watch this right now.

It's totally SFW, though you might want to turn your speakers down.

I think the most amazing part of this video isn't necessarily the 50 mph skateboarding. It's how well the roads in Claremont are maintained. If these guys tried this in SoCal they'd get about five feet before destroying themselves on a pothole.

Instead, they're NorCal. So they're just destroyed on pot. Either way I'm impressed.

Filling the burn.

I was at improv class last night (doing a phenomenal job, I might add) when all of a sudden the gum I was chewing went from soft, chewy Sweetmint to hard, jagged rock. I spit out what I could only assume was a wayward piece of driveway gravel and it hit me.

"That's my fucking filling."

I totally freaked out and started flop sweating, mainly because I've never really had problems with my filling but I know from my mom that teeth problems are generally extremely painful and costly. I braced for the agony. I'd heard the stories about every breath feeling like a bandsaw ripping through your jaw. I knew the tales of agonizing temperature sensitivity. I wouldn't be able to eat or drink until I got this thing fixed. I needed this like a whole in the head...er, tooth.

To top it off I couldn't really get the support I wanted because Kat had her cousin over who is going through her own tough time and I felt awkward crashing her therapy session with my mouth issues.

When I'm hurt or sick or in pain, I've discovered I really like to be coddled. I need someone to tell me that they know how awful this must be and they're going to help me out. My fiance takes a different tack, usually saying things like "It's fine, you're going to be okay," and "We'll take care of this, don't worry."

Those are all well and good, except for some reason my mind needs reassurance that what I'm freaking out about is legit and worthy of a freak out. I need someone to freak out with me just a little bit, before regaining control and helping me out.

Luckily I don't think a nerve is exposed or anything, and I'm going to Kat's dentist today to try and get the thing fixed. I don't have dental insurance, but luckily they work with that sort of thing. I'm really nervous they're going to say I need a crown. We'll see today at 2:30.


Why, Chris Cornell? Why?

If you're like me, then you really loved Euphoria Morning, Chris Cornell's debut solo album from the late '90s, and the good vibes you had from that album were enough to let you tacitly accept Audioslave and smooth over most of Carry On.

Ol' Chris, though, has lost his fucking mind and joined forces with Verizon Wireless and Timbaland. For a fucking album.

Now it's not like Chris Cornell is the end-all be-all for art or music at all, but is nothing sacred? Is everybody just foaming at the mouth for the chance to have Timbaland hoot and mug through their album in order to collect a trophy from MTV?

You can listen to the trainwreck at www.chriscornell.com, although it's really not even worth it for the irony.


Death by Health 2

In my ongoing quest to get healthier and lose a significant portion of my mass I've been hitting the gym four to five days a week (I still can't convince myself to go on a Saturday).

I had already destroyed myself with a free personal training session, so when the receptionist suggested I try a complimentary pilates session I was intrigued.

Well, okay, not intrigued. I had no idea what pilates is. I honestly thought it was something pregnant women did. I don't mean to judge, I'm just saying I had no idea what it entailed. But I figured at the worst I'd get a free session and best case scenario I'd find a new workout I could use.

I quickly discovered that "pilates" must be latin for "awkward," as my session consisted of a small, petite dancer named Jackie who was far more attractive than me throwing me around a machine and showing me the proper way to clench my ass and thrust my hips while battling elastic bands and springs designed to strengthen my core. All of this in a room with mirrored walls so we could perfectly see that I had no idea what I was doing.

It didn't really feel like much of a workout, but when I got up from the apparatus I was completely soaked through with sweat. Jackie gave me the usual pitch about signing up for 10 more sessions (Just $1200!) and I said I'd think about it, which everyone knows means there's no way in hell I'm doing that. I threw Kat under the bus and mentioned to Jackie that my fiance might be interested in a complimentary session.

"Well, if you want to bring her in we could set up a tag team."


"Tag team pilates. Some couples and friends do it. You'll both go through a session together. It makes it much more fun."

That's not what I thought (hoped?) she meant at first, but I told her I'd consider it.

Surprisingly, Kat wasn't amused when I got home and suggested we go tag team my pilates teacher.


Death by Health

Since Kat got back from Alaska we've been making a concerted effort to eat better and exercise more. Of course her regimen of personal training and hauling gear on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea for three months puts her slightly ahead of me in terms of fitness.

So Friday as I was finishing up my workout Kat introduced me to her trainer, Raider. Yeah. Raider. As in pillager, plunderer, destroyer of towns, stealer of livestock, viking warlord. That kind. But he was really nice and informed me that as a member of the gym I'm entitled to one free fitness consultation every six months and if I was interested he'd be willing to go over my routine with me and coach me on form and show me some new exercises to throw in to the mix. Being put completely on the spot, I of course said sure. What was I gonna do? Tell this Nordic God that my pudgy ass was getting along just fine without him?

So I showed up today prepared to sweat a lot more than usual and to be completely embarrassed when Raider asked me to bench 200 pounds and I would have to meekly offer that I could maybe do half of that.

What I didn't know was that Raider fully intended to kill me with a workout from hell.

It started simple enough. Some stretching, a quick five minutes on the treadmill to get my heart rate up, and then we were off to the bench press. It was tricky because I had to learn the proper form since I have apparently been doing this exercise completely wrong my entire life. But I pounded out three quick sets and felt good. My muscles were tingly, I had a little sweat worked up, and I felt lively. This wasn't so bad at all!

"Okay," Raider instructed, "good warm up. Now let's put some real weight on there."

Ah. Shit.

I made it through bench presses only to be hauled off to do some seated rows which, again, I have been doing incorrectly since I learned to do them. Those were followed by some other kind of seated rows in which I grab the handle slightly differently and raise my elbows up as I pull which, I noticed, makes it hurt a hell of a lot more. Then some pull downs. Then came the leg press.

I've always been kind of proud of my leg pressing ability, although I admit my pride took a hit when Raider pointed out that I have strong legs solely because I am so fat that they have to be strong in order to keep me from toppling over like a weeble wobble. Again, I had to learn a completely new form, and again, I thought I was doing awesome until I found out we were just warming up again. I finished a set and stood up. My legs burned, but more distressing was the fact that I was completely winded. No, wait. The most distressing part was the fact that I was about to black out.

Of course I couldn't admit to my Nordic Warrior Trainer that I was gassed after not even half our workout session, so I figured I'd tough it out. What I didn't realize (and what Raider would later explain to me as I gasped for air with my head between my legs outside) was that the "full body workout" he was putting me through was drawing oxygen to all my muscles across my entire body. Since normally my muscles are used to sharing oxygen while enjoying a nap on the couch, this was causing some strain on my system, especially my now-oxygen-deprived brain.

But like I said, there was no way I was going to cop to being a weakling, so it was off to work on my shoulders. First I had to lift a 45 pound weight over my head repeatedly; this wasn't difficult except that I was completely disoriented now and struggling to stand straight as I did it. Next came some dumbbells to lift over my head while keeping my back and arms flush against a wall. Raider demonstrated the exercise and handed them over to me.

What followed could only be described as "embarrassing" by me, but to the (many) curious onlookers it probably looked like some sort of Special Olympics outreach program. I could not figure out how to lift barbells over my head. I watched Raider do it twice, and each time he would hand them to me and I would flail awkwardly and sweat all over the place and nearly drop 15 pounds of metal on my head.

"Okay," Raider wisely suggested, "let's take a minute to get your breath back."

"Can I get a drink of water?"

"No. That's against the Trainer's Code. Ha ha! Of course you can!" If I hadn't been so near death Raider might have seen my heart sink as I completely fell for his joke. Luckily I think the sweating and gasping covered it up.

I couldn't even make it to the water fountain without stopping to sit down. I was 99% sure I was going to black out and collapse in a sweaty heap in the middle of the gym, which is really close to the top of my list of most embarrassing things to do. Finally I got some water and started catching my breath.

"Okay, I think I'm back."

"Great! Let's get to the next exercise!" Did he have to be so damn perky about this? A little sympathy would go a long way right about n-

My thoughts were interrupted as I crashed into an exercise bike. Seriously. I walked right into it. Have you ever seen a deer get hit by a car but survive? They kind of stumble around and skitter around the road until they get up the strength to find their way back into the woods. That was me: doe-eyed and drooling, blindly bumbling my way around the gym.

"Uh...follow me." Raider decided my next torture could wait. I followed him, weaving from side to side like a drunk trying to convince a sheriff he's good to drive. We went outside and sat. Raider made small talk while I gasped and heaved and sweated all over everything.

Finally after a few minutes I started feeling like I wasn't on a spirit quest to the astral plane; I actually felt like I was inhabiting my body again.

"Okay, I think I'm really back this time."

"Great! Let's go!"


The rest of the workout was considerably lighter than the beginning, and this was most likely because Raider didn't want the lawsuit on his hands for killing me. The majority of the last exercises consisted of stretching, which I again failed.

Yeah. I fail at stretching.

Finally the trauma was over and Raider said I was free to go. I had to sit in the lobby for 10 minutes before I felt strong enough to walk the mile back to my apartment. Each step home was wobbly, and I've been sitting on my couch for about two hours now and my forearms still haven't stopped vibrating.

Other than that, it was a great workout.


Eating meat for money.

I recently got tabbed for a freelance bit of comedy writing over at Zug, the World's Only Comedy Site.

The first part is up and live and on the front page of the site, but you can skip the BS and click here to view it as well. No, I don't get a click-through fee.

Let me know what you think, and if you have five seconds to spare, sign up and rate it! Unless you don't like it. Then don't rate it at all and let's forget we ever had this conversation.



From now on I'll save and resize objects before putting them here. Yikes.


There's something different about Garfield...

Garfield Lost in Translation

The gimmick is Garfield comics, which have been running for approximately 300 years without a single funny joke, are translated into Chinese. Then they are translated from Chinese back to English (using Google or Yahoo, they say).

The results?

It's not quite comedy gold, but it's the best Garfield strip I've ever read.

Check out the rest at Garfield Lost in Translation


I was, and possibly am, a horrible person.

For some reason, my phone came with Yahoo Instant Messenger installed. I used to use YIM all the time in college, as it was the IM of choice among most of my friends and Yahoo chat rooms were a great way to completely derail me from finishing a writing assignment.

For better or worse those days are gone; nowadays I have three or four friends (and a few GABbers) who use the thing but honestly calling or texting is just easier. After logging in to my YIM account from my phone I realized I didn't recognize 90% of the names on my list.

So I was deleting old internet friends when someone popped online. I didn't recognize the screen name at all, but it was one of those goofy screen names not at all related to any real name or anything, so I didn't have much to go on. I decided to say hello. Here's the transcript:

Me: Hi. You're on my contact list but I don't know who this is. So...who is this?

Unknown Friend: I don't know why you still have me on your list, I don't have you on mine anymore...

Unknown Friend: anyway, to answer your question, I'm a girl that you assumed to be crazy, ridiculed and made fun of, for no particular reason.

Unknown Friend: I hope everything works out for you, last i heard from you, you were moving away to california. My name is Tara. Have a nice evening.

Then she signed out. I was on my phone and I assume she was at her computer so she was able to rattle off three messages before I could type a response out with my stupid T9 thingy.

So I remember this person. We sort of kind of dated, but really all that ever happened was I would show up at her place, we would watch a movie or something, and make out for awhile. That's it. No sex. No defined relationship. Nada.

I remember when I told her I was moving to California she offered to move with me, because she was eager to change her scenery too. I told her that I already had specific plans (I was going to be crashing on my cousin's couch until I got a job and all) and that bringing someone with me wasn't really an option. I thought it was mutually understood that making out once a week or so wasn't enough on which to base moving 3,000 miles away and living together.

Naturally things got awkward after that and we kind of drifted apart, but I don't remember ridiculing her or any of that other stuff.

And that bums me out, because obviously I really upset her since she's still got this burning in her gut. I mean, I don't think she's carrying this around with her every day and still dwelling on it, but obviously as soon as I popped up it all came back and she had to send me some upset-sounding messages.

I can't for the life of me remember doing anything particularly bad or evil to this woman. And yet, I can't rule it out, either.

I don't have any sort of relationship with many of my exes. I've always been pretty bad at breaking up, either flipping out about things or, if I'm the breaker-upper, opting to just cop out and treat her really badly until she decides to leave me because I'm too wimpy to do the deed myself. I was also pretty good at just completely disappearing.

That sucks. On the one hand, I feel good because I don't think I'm that person any more. On the other hand, it makes me realize how much bad blood I might have generated with people that may or may not be hanging around to this day. And that is upsetting.



Dear Santa,

I promise I'll be so very good...up until I actually have these, at which point I will most likely terrorize some neighbors or something.


Did the earth move for you?

I just survived my first second third most recent earthquake!

This one was by far the scariest, mainly because:

  • I could feel it
  • I was sleeping at the time
  • The resulting disorientation did not help my mental acuity
  • The ground was fucking swaying
So having spent all of last night awake with an anxiety attack I finally fell asleep around 6 this morning. On my couch. Then around 10 I woke up and actually went to my bed.

I woke up again with my bed shaking beneath me and my bedroom door swinging open. It took me a second to really process what was going on. I swung a leg over to get out of bed and promptly fell to the ground.

"Okay, the ground is definitely swaying."

I started to get nauseated, but I don't know if it was because of the movement or panic. I realized I should probably put pants on. I don't want to have to evacuate naked, and I sure as hell don't want to be crushed to death naked. I don't know why that's more embarrassing to me.

So I got dressed while sitting next to my bed rocking on the floor and by the time I stood up it was over. Just like that.

I still say tornadoes are worse, but I'd be okay if I don't have to deal with either for awhile.



This makes me laugh out loud every single time I watch it. It starts out kind of typical "COPS" stuff but plays out like a bad SNL skit. Skip to 1:45 if you're interested in just the highlights.

Among my faves:

"I mean...my wife said if I didn't get her another beer she was gonna stab me in the face."

*hillbilly throws an empty can over his shoulder* Officer: "And then you're litterin' on top of that." Hillbilly: "I'll get that."

And what happens after that defies convention. I've been really drunk (never while driving), and I've even had to deal with police while drunk, but I don't have an arrest on my record because I resisted the urge to urinate while the cops were hassling me about being drunk.

What follows makes me squeal with laughter every single time. The repeated "I gotta go, I gotta go," to the cop as if the that justifies him pissing in the officer's face. The screams of "I KNOW MY RIGHTS!" over and over which, incidentally, is usually a tell-tale sign that someone does not actually know their rights.

The highlight though, is the Braveheart-esque "IS IT ILLEGAL TO CUT GRASS?!" I can imagine Mel Gibson in the film adaptation screaming these words in his faux Scottish brogue while the evil officers subdue him.

He kinda loses points for that last part though: "My wife will kick your ass!"

C'mon. Have some dignity.


I'm about to shoot down a helicopter.

For the last, I dunno, four hours or so a helicopter has been circling around my neighborhood.

Seriously. Four hours.

First it sounds far away, like it's just flying by and on its way out. Then it swings around and its path crosses DIRECTLY OVER MY APARTMENT and my windows shake. This has been going on all goddamn afternoon.

At one point they were broadcasting something on the mega-loud speaker, but I couldn't hear it over the roar of the helicopter blades.

So there may or may not be: horrible traffic, a race riot, a murderer on the loose, a terrorist attack, a radiation leak, or Hancock outside my little apartment complex.

So fuck it. I'm closing the windows.


Give your loved ones a complex. Anonymously.

Hey, no offense or anything!

When I first saw this site I figured it had to be some sort of promotional tie-in. Most of the emails you can send anonymously to friends and family are body-centric: body odor, dandruff, bad breath, and the red herring bad table manners. I figured this had to be some sort of Proctor & Gamble viral marketing scheme for some new product or products.

But it turns out, it's just the product of a know-it-all housewife who wants to help you criticize others. From the site's "About Us" section:

The idea for NoOffenseOrAnything.com began in a conversation between a work-at-home mom and her husband. Her husband had a colleague with terrible body odor but didn't know how to tell him. His wife suggested he try one of those anonymous emailers on the internet. However, this still didn't solve the problem of what exactly one should say. So, she decided to put her advice-giving skills to work and create pre-written content to help others out there in the same situation as her husband.

She's just putting her advice-giving skills to work! That's all, you smelly, sloppy lard ass! How could you be upset by receiving anonymous emails critiquing your appearance? Why would knowing that someone in your life thinks you smell be disconcerting?

My issue isn't with letting people know about their hygiene issues per se - although you've got to be pretty good friends with someone to broach that, otherwise you're just a dick - it's the idea that you're doing them a favor by sending them an anonymous note commenting on something very personal.

Why not hire someone to drop ransom-style letters in their mailbox? "I'M WATCHING YOU. YOU STINK. PLEASE SHOWER." If you're genuinely interested in "helpfully" notifying this person, then you do it tactfully and in person. Yeah, it's an awkward conversation and it sucks, but if you are doing it out of the kindness of your heart and not to shit all over someone who's probably horribly self-conscious as it is, then it shouldn't matter.

The other issue is that anyone receiving these notes will immediately dismiss them as a prank. I say this only because since stumbling across the site all I've done is write this in short spurts and take time out to anonymously accuse my friends of having B.O.

So if you're even remotely aware of how the internet works (i.e. hurling scorn, vitriol, and shame upon strangers) you would get this email, accuse your roommate of fucking with you, and delete it. The message wouldn't even get across.

However if you are the shut-in type and extremely uptight about your body, this just might be enough to put you over the edge and into the bell tower. It's a bit of a stretch, but I can totally see some poor, fat college freshman slitting his wrists in the bathtub because someone emailed him saying he has dandruff. Well just in case, you can notify the folks at No Offense or Anything as to how you took their casual advice. No radio buttons for "ruined my life" though.

Maybe I'm projecting. Do I smell? Fuck, now I'm all paranoid.

Pickling with God

Ooooookay. I haven't had a use for religion since I realized it all amounted to groups of manipulative people taking advantage of people for money and blind loyalty. That said, I completely and totally recognize that it's different for everybody and I don't judge you if you want to worship Jesus or God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I have several religious friends, two of which are or were pastors at one point.

But it's really hard not to lay into the spooky father figure crowd when you see videos like this.

So this "really neat" demonstration shows us how Christianity can make a difference in people. By electrifying pickles. We start off by pointing out how similar all these pickles are. Don't think I missed the "I bet they even taste the same" innuendo, either, pal. Catholicism has given Christians in general a lot of bad PR to overcome and it means comments like that will never be taken at face value. Ever.

So first we have to pierce this pickle with some forks (like Jesus was pierced with nails!) and hang it in a sling (like Jesus was hung from the cross!) and then hook up the forks to an electrical outlet and run a current through it (like...well, being hit with lightning).

And what happens? It glows! Christianity and love for god makes you glow and sparkle like the special, unique snowflake you are!

"I hope that you'll be just like this," Grandpa John says to us in that calm, placid tone of voice usually reserved for leaders of various sects.

Except that the pickle is STEAMING FROM ITS INNARDS BEING FRIED BY THE ELECTRICAL CURRENT COURSING THROUGH IT. So the metaphor is do a bunch of unnatural and painful things to yourself (preferably with forks and electrical current), and you'll become unique and special for a little bit until it all becomes too much and you explode in a scalding, briny mess. Well if that's the new church sign me up!

The kicker? "Don't try to do this at home!"

Hey kid, god is great and all, but your parents are gonna beat your ass if your love of the creator winds up blowing a fuse.

I Wanna Cuddle You.

Being engaged and all, I don't usually have much use for singles sites, online personal ads, and other contrived ways of letting people know that you "like going out and having fun but also like just sitting at home and watching a movie sometimes" (note to anyone who DOES frequent personal ads: that line actually means "I might get out of the house if you can drag me, but don't look to me for ideas").

But I admit my interest was piqued when I stumbled across:


I used to joke with my friends at work about inviting them to cuddle parties; I had read of the idea awhile back but the link to Cuddle LA popped up in my gmail ads and I was hooked.

The premise for Cuddle LA is not unlike an orgy. You sign up, arrive at a predetermined location, and lie down with several strangers. As with orgies - and I'm going off of a very limited scope of experience here - there are only two rules:

1. You always ask for what you want, and
2. It's not only okay to say no, it's encouraged.

Seriously. That's straight from their site (minus the ham-fisted orgy analogy). The site has a lot of talk about learning relationship skills and teaching women to empower themselves by saying no.

I'm all for people learning relationship skills, but I'm not sure what cuddling teaches you other than how to fool yourself into thinking your partner can't feel you grinding your hard-on into her jeans.

And, again, I'm all for women empowering themselves. Legitimately. I don't say that as a hollow gesture like some men do without realizing what it really means. I take issue with the fact, though, that anyone PAYING (that's right, even coerced affection will run you a whopping $40) to cuddle with strangers cannot possibly gain enough of their self esteem back by occasionally shooting down an aggressive cuddler. I also think it's hilarious to imply women are empowered by engaging in what amounts to an anemic form of prostitution.

For your safety, and to maximize embarrassment, Cuddle LA has "Cuddle Lifeguards" who "create a safe space" and "facilitate cuddling." Presumably this means the whole time you are snuggling there's a therapist-in-training hovering over you with a rape whistle and a can of mace.

So let me get this straight: I pay $40, I show up in my jammies (no shorts allowed, according to Cuddle LA), I have someone supervising my cuddle technique to make sure I don't get too "rape-y," I have to ask each woman individually if I may cuddle them and, naturally, they are encouraged to say no.

I should also mention one last orgy/cuddle party similarity: the sausage quotient. Here are the next two events scheduled on Cuddle LA's site:

Saturday, July 26th, 7:30-11PM
There are currently 2 women and 5 men signed up for this event.

Saturday, August 9th, 7:30-11PM
There are currently 1 woman and 3 men signed up for this event.

That's right. Surprise, surprise, guys are way more willing to do this than women. So not only are you most likely paying to be shot down or scolded by a lifeguard for...I dunno, diving in the shallow end, you're gonna be cuddled by a bunch of lonely men willing to pay for the privilege. That begs the obvious, "Well if you're gay that sounds awesome," but just because you're gay doesn't mean you forgive the fact that the guys are strangers. Paying to cuddle.

It's quite possible that I'm missing the female perspective here, but I don't see how any of this is safer or more empowering than just picking a class at the local Learning Annex and hoping to meet people. It might be a few bucks more expensive, but at least when you get down to the cuddling you can set your own rules.


I Hate Jimmy Pardo!

I hate Jimmy Pardo!

I went to see "Running Your Trap With Jimmy Pardo" tonight at UCB with my pal Ryder. Jimmy Pardo is one of the most hilarious yet simultaneously intimidating guys I've ever seen. He's very self deprecating (to the point of self loathing) and good natured, but he's SO fucking quick-witted it's scary and his "shtick" (I use that for lack of a better word. I have negative connotations with the word shtick, but "gimmick" sounds even more insulting.) is taking pot shots at the audience.

Jimmy and his pal Pat Francis shot the shit for awhile, riffing on some really awful music Pat had brought for the show. It was then that they pointed out Samm Levine, who was sitting right next to me, was in the crowd. I have to this day never seen an episode of Freaks & Geeks, but I know enough to realize it's got indie cred as the Arrested Development of its time so I thought sitting near a celeb was pretty cool.

The first guest was Paul Scheer, who had the most hilarious story of the night about being cut from and then re-cast only to be cut again from the abomination known as Meet Dave. He also spent some time talking about seeing The Love Guru on purpose and, of course, midgets with huge dicks.

But then came my time to shine! They drew two contestants from the audience to play a game in which they played a Styx video on the screen ("Too Much Time On My Hands") and Jimmy would occasionally pause it, then ask us to guess what would happen next.

Sadly I lost, but the consolation prize was my very own "I HATE Jimmy Pardo!" bumper sticker! And after the show I got it autographed! By Jimmy himself! That totally beats a lame ass iTunes gift card.

So now I'm home enjoying my spoils of war, and by enjoying I mean hanging this thing on my fridge.

*On a completely unrelated note, someone just emailed me a link to the Avril Lavigne sex tape.

I've seen worse sex tapes, and I've seen better (this might not even be her, you don't see the front of the woman at all), but if this IS Avril, I say boo. BOO to you, Avril. How fucking stuck up are you that you have to not only film yourself fucking, but PLAY YOUR OWN GODDAMN SONG IN THE BACKGROUND.

Seriously? I realize 9 out of 10 guys would probably sign up for that in a heartbeat, but have a little class next time Avril. Put on some Bee Gees like the rest of us.


What do you say to that?

Saturday afternoon I had lunch with my friend Ryder and some people from our Improv class. After class let out we wandered down Melrose aimlessly since I was the only one hungry and I felt weird about dragging three people to a restaurant to watch me eat.

Finally the novelty wore off and I picked a sushi place. It was small, but had the typical layout of sushi bar with chefs behind it and a few tables scattered throughout. We sat at a table and stared at the menus for 20 minutes before ordering what could only be described as an "ungodly" amount of food and digging in.

Not long after a woman entered and sat at the sushi bar. She was directly to our right, but her back was to our table. She had a bottle of wine with her for some reason, but since this is Melrose and eccentric people rich enough to buy and sell me do way weirder things all the time in LA I didn't think much of it.

We were having a loud and boisterous conversation and I could tell she kept picking up on parts of it. Her head definitely turned when the one woman at our table regaled us with the story of how she once had semen shoot out her nose, for instance.

Eventually this woman got up the courage to turn around and offer Ryder some wine. She was very beautiful; she revealed her heritage was African and Italian, and her dark, supple skin and ebony curls running down to the small of her back made me think she should probably be frolicking on an island somewhere. She was worldly, too, having just gotten back from a four month stay in Brazil and casually mentioning bumming around Italy and Germany.

And she was into my pal Ryder, who was completely oblivious. She offered the rest of us some wine as well, and only I was brave enough to accept. The other two in our group commenced actively shunning her while she tried to strike up a friendly conversation in the one city on earth where people will judge you for doing that sort of thing.

She went on and on about the wine and how she had discovered it in Italy and fallen in love with it. I don't know much about wine, but it was sickly sweet and sparkling red wine. It reminded me of Communion, which I whispered to Ryder when our new friend Kimberly wasn't looking. He promptly told her. Luckily she wasn't raised Catholic and took it as a compliment.

Right about then she mentioned she was celebrating today and that was why she was drinking a bottle of wine at a sushi place at 4pm on a Saturday. Ryder asked what she was celebrating, exactly.

"Well," she beamed charmingly, "I just got my AIDS test back and it was negative!"

There was a half a beat where I considered actually laughing out loud to relieve the tension, but I thought better of it and raised my glass.

"To your health!" I toasted. We clinked glasses and drank.

What followed was a half hour or so of clumsy exchanges between Kimberly, Ryder and myself as she tried to converse with us from far enough away that we couldn't hear much of anything she said.

Eventually our two companions decided they'd put up with enough and got up to leave. We wished Kimberly well and took off. Once we were outside the three of us showered Ryder with scorn and mocking derision for missing his cue.

"Yeah, but I was a little turned off by the AIDS test thing," he mentioned.

"Hey. She's responsible. She's clean. And who knows? Maybe she's not even at risk; she just uses her annual test as an excuse to celebrate," I don't know why I was trying to coerce my pal into getting this girl's number, but I've narrowed it down to either living vicariously through a single friend or secretly wishing Ryder was at risk of contracting AIDS.

He never went back and so maybe the opportunity was lost, but later that night I realized one minor detail we overlooked:

She said "AIDS test," not "HIV test."


"Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck."

I remember discovering an old George Carlin stand-up routine on some old VHS tape someone had lent my parents. It was one of his old HBO shows from the early '80s or maybe even late '70s, and I remember being excited and frantic at what I had just discovered while simultaneously horrified that my parents might find out.

It was an entirely alien point of view to me. He was so adept at pointing out the absolutely absurd and stupid things we do and accept every day as just part of life. It blew my mind and I was hooked.

I started scraping my dimes together and snagging one of his tapes and later on CDs whenever I could. In high school I would recite his act word for word at the lunch table while all my friends were either impressed or faking it very well.

It felt great to get the laughs, even with someone else's stuff, but the real thrill for me was the fact that the words coming out of my mouth were poignant. They were intelligent, they were counter-culture, and they called people on bullshit...I just didn't happen to write any of it.

I realized that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to say things so people would react in that same way. I wanted to be relevant and real and FUNNY.

I'm still working on making my words mean something, but watching a guy like George Carlin (or Bill Hicks, another dead hero) makes me feel good because even if I fuck this up, at least someone did it right.


I am a champion of gay rights

I went to a bar last night with some friends from my old job to watch the Laker game. It was also a warm-up for the going-away party Brittany was having since she's moving to Texas Monday (and we're gonna miss you, BRog).

So Marie, Brittany, Ryan and I are sitting at our PRIME location table (we showed up an hour before tipoff) in the corner enjoying various fried things and some drinks when the bar starts filling up. The table next to us has about seven people sitting and standing at it, one of which is a Korean man with glasses, a shaved head and a nice looking dress shirt. Probably mid- to late-20s, some sort of professional judging by his appearance, and incredibly annoyingly loud.

"YEAH YOU MOTHERFUCKERS! BOO-YAH!" was his mantra. Any time the Lakers did anything remotely good, including not tripping and falling down on a fast break, the guy was jumping out of his seat and screaming expletives at the screen. It was incredibly annoying, and I made some loud-enough-that-he-should-overhear-this comments to my pals about what a douche he was.

Still, he continued with little regard for Brittany's ears, as she was sitting closest, and his own dignity. The people at his table, one of which - judging by the nasty tongue kiss he laid on her - must've been his girlfriend, repeatedly asked him to calm down and reminded him it was only a game. Of basketball. On TV. And he was about 15 miles away from the stadium. So it's not like Kobe's going to hear him screaming and suddenly find the will to take it to the hole.

So I already didn't like the guy.

My real problem with him began when he started calling the Lakers "faggots" for blowing a play or missing a shot. I wasn't uptight about someone insulting the Lakers, mind you. I give less than two shits about basketball in general. But screaming "FAGGOT!" at a TV in a bar not only insults any gay basketball fans in the bar (and gays in general) it makes you look like an ignorant bigot fuckhead and now I'm guilty by association too if I don't put you in your fucking place.

I made a very exaggerated disapproving head shake and stared the guy down, but he was undeterred. The yelling continued, but I was prepared to let that slide if we could have a cease-fire on the F word. Nope. He was just waiting for someone in the game to screw up.

"OH COME ON YOU FUCKING FAGGOT!" I turned to disapprove again and he was staring right at me. "What? You tryin' to tell me he's NOT a faggot?"

"Tell you what," I said a little more confidently than I would have if I hadn't just downed a shot and three beers, "Why don't we just start calling them GOOKS every time they fuck up?" I seriously called a Korean man a gook. To his face. I was now no better than him, but I felt I had to get my hands dirty to prove a point. He stared at me. I stared at him. I was right on this one, and even though he looked like he might be able to beat my ass and his four buddies could probably whip the shit out of Ryan and I collectively I knew I had the moral high ground. I wasn't exactly prepared to get beat up, but I was willing to fight this guy. I was kind of fired up.

"If you're going to keep staring at me you'd better buy me a drink," I said. Yeah, that's the ticket. Make the homophobe think I'm gay. That'll throw him off.

"Maybe later. You're kind of cute," he said sarcastically. Why do these frat boy mentalities insist on using "gay" as a synonym for bad, stupid, useless, and pretty much any other negative adjective they don't have in their vocabulary, yet they constantly pretend to be over the top queens as a joke?

After that it simmered down. Ryan inadvertently dumped a beer on me so THAT perked up my confidence. Soon enough it was time to roll to Brittany's party and we left at halftime. The Korean guy asked politely if he could have our table as we were leaving.

So it's a pretty neat story and I end up looking kind of badass because I stood up for what's right and I didn't get the shit kicked out of me, but the more I think about it the more disturbed I am that no one else said anything.

Ryan was ready to break the guy's nose, but thankfully didn't act on that impulse. He said he wanted to lay into the guy but I got there first so he let me roll with it. But everyone else must've just figured, "Oh well."

Would it have been cool if he had called the players niggers? Whops? Dykes? Spicks? Why is it okay to say that when someone screws up they're gay or a fag?

In the interest of full disclosure I've totally been guilty of this; of course then I went to college and actually met friends who were gay and it changed my perspective. There's a certain level of insulation in places like the Midwest that allows this shit to happen. If you grow up never knowing a gay person (or a black person, or a Mexican person, or a lesbian, or a feminist, or any other culture) all you have to go on is what the people around you say.

My parents grew up in East St. Louis and saw some of the worst parts of society, black AND white, and yet aren't racist. I never heard either of them use the N word, never heard a story about "the blacks" ruining property values or stealing or anything. Now unfortunately I do have some of that shit in my extended family, but I was fortunate enough to get a dose of reality from my folks. I grew up in a tiny whitebread town that was basically a suburb of St. Louis but insular enough that if you didn't do much traveling (and not many people there do) you might never meet anyone different from you.

So when you've never met a black person but you're retarded racist grandpa drops the N word like it's going out of style you might end up thinking like that. Same thing goes for any race, creed or sexual orientation.

But what was this guy's excuse? He lives in LA, one of the most populous and diverse cities in America. He was also less than five miles from West Hollywood, which has one of the biggest gay communities in the area. How could he possibly think this was okay?

If you're going to be a bigot and hate people, fine. But if the fags or dykes or spicks or niggers or whoever is ruining your day, do the rest of us a favor and lock yourself in your house and never come out. They won't bother you, and you won't make everyone have to deal with you being an asshole.

PS I know this doesn't actually make me some beacon of tolerance, I'm not that stuck on myself. But I think it does make me a normal-thinking human being who won't put up with epithets, and I'm okay with that.


It's still real to me, dammit.

Come on. How can you not want to just hug this man? He's so obviously ready to boil over with emotion at how awful his life truly is. At first he was really excited about attending a Q & A session with third-tier wrestling "talent" in the local high school gym. He probably won the tickets on a local AM radio station call-in because he knew that whatever butt fuck town he lives in used to have a statue of Popeye in the town square.

Then he had a day or two before the event to really take it all in. Maybe he went to the bar and bragged to his buddies. Then some dickhead kid home from college overheard and said, "Wow. That sounds incredibly stupid."

Those words stuck with him. He put on a good show at the time, all bluster and piss and vinegar. But when he got home that night he kept replaying the event in his mind. It started out with fantasies of putting that jerk kid in his place. Smacking him across the mouth or punching his lights out.

But the cold hard stare of reality wouldn't be denied. It bore into his eyes like huge augers of God until finally he had to accept what he had known his whole life: he was a loser.

But he was committed to attending that Q & A, dammit. Besides, he didn't have anything else to do. Once he sat on the gym benches with like-minded individuals the pain started to fade. He felt relaxed. He could enjoy this after all.

And in that moment, when the microphone was handed to him, it all came roaring back. His critical self-conscious mind started berating him for actually enjoying this. "You're a loser!" his inner monologue bellowed. And he knew that it was true. This was his shame.

As the words came from his mouth the burden of all that knowledge broke him. His voice cracked and the floodgates opened. He was a shell of a man completing the one task that would ever bring him joy in his miserable existence.


Holy shit.

Fucking OUCH man.

That's hair. Minus the head. I was walking to the roach coach the other day and saw this on the sidewalk behind a bus stop.

What the hell happened here? It blew my mind. Was there a fight? Did someone's low-cost weave just disintegrate as they boarded the Dash Bus? Was someone collecting these things and happened to drop one?

I'll never know. But if you're out there looking for your onyx tresses, you can find it at Pico and La Brea.



We are the World!

Don't bother wondering why this exists; your head will explode.

Just sit back and enjoy it. Don't fight it. No matter how scary it is, don't fight it.


Alice in Tranceland

I never really liked the Alice in Wonderland cartoon as a kid. Now it's got all kinds of faux-stoner cred as a psychedelic mind-fuck, but honestly: if the best thing you can do with your mushrooms is pop in a DVD and sit on your couch, you're doing it wrong. Go to nature. Find yourself a big open field. Love everything.

Anyway, that doesn't make this thing any less cool. All the sounds are from the movie itself. Give credit to the 19-year-old Australian who made it.

Shameless self promotion

If you haven't seen it yet, you should check out my newest project, Think Outside the Bob. It's a blog about the horrors of corporate life and the awful people you have to deal with on a daily basis. It made more sense to post my rants there, since this little unread haven is more about my life in general and not every post can relate to hating work.

Plus, I have co-contributors at TOTB! There are plenty of people out there pissed off at their corporate overlords and I figure giving them a place to vent, rant and rave, or just read stories about other people's suffering is kind of like a community service.

I'm still sick. I feel okay during the day, but sleeping is still difficult and when I wake up in the morning I spend a good 10 minutes coughing my lungs out. I need to go to a doc before my health insurance dries up; I think I may have walking pneumonia.


Hey Mister!

I found your cat!

Stuck in the gutter.

I'm bummed.

I'm officially laid off in one week, my car is dead and I can't replace the battery because the screw bolting on the electrical cables is stripped, Kat is leaving in a week for Alaska and will be gone three months, and my stomach hurts from eating way too much Korean BBQ last night.

But at least I don't have Open Mouth Disease.


Fightin' at the Movies

Kat's cousin Julia showed up at the apartment on Saturday and she decided we should go see Iron Man. The girls were fine, but I was too wasted to even recall what movies were, I declined the drive. But she offered, and Kat said she was buying, so I was obligated.

We got to the Arc Light Dome in Hollywood just before the 11:30 showing. There was no line. We had never been to this place before, but apparently you had to buy specific seat numbers rather than just getting some tickets.

The hitch was the ticket counter lady was retarded. I don't say that to be mean; she was actually retarded. That weird mush-mouthed-Peter's-new-boss-at-the-brewery retarded. Between that and being super ripped we couldn't understand a word she was saying. All we wanted were some tickets.


I'm not sure why women in Hollywood insist on wearing those Thai tranny hooker tube top dresses, but being screamed at by one is surreal. You just want to pay her $20 and head to an alley, but here she was insulting us for our obvious desire to hang around the ticket booth and fuck things up for everybody else.

I turned around and gave her the stink eye, and muttered something under my breath, but it wasn't enough. The insults kept coming.

Finally we got some tickets. 'BOUT TIME! came the cat call, and I lost it. In my head I was this guy, but I was baked out of my mind so I probably looked like this guy.


I bellowed as loud as I could into this tiny woman's face. I'm not usually prone to outbursts, but this had to be done. I got right in her face too. I mean I really screamed the loudest I was capable of screaming.

She cringed.

"It wasn't me."

You yelled at the wrong girl you dumb motherfucker. Aw hell no you did NOT just yell at a girl. That's some weak ass shit.

My attacker was still hiding in the book depository, and my skull was flapping in the breeze while my brain rolled around the trunk of my Cadillac.

"Well I had to say it." I yelled in the general direction of the crowd. I couldn't even focus on the faces to tell who was talking to me. There was no way I was going to win this, especially after scoring a direct hit on a civilian in my first volley. I fled.

Of course the wall of glass doors on the front of the lobby aren't actually for entering, so everyone got to watch the three of us try to figure that out for another five minutes before we had to double back and walk past everyone AGAIN to find the actual entrance.

We made our way to the concession stand where my girlfriend's cousin got popcorn and a soda. I wanted popcorn and a soda more than the sweet love of god, but I couldn't bring myself to wait in another line because I knew our assailants were coming, and the innocent girl who I'd yelled at had a sizable boyfriend who probably wanted to beat the shit out of me.

I looked back through those non-functional glass doors and saw the traffic jam at the ticket booth. I didn't have the cognitive capacity to foresee that they would invariably ask for the best available tickets to the same goddamn movie and sit right next to us, so at the time all I could do was flash a smug smile of satisfaction and follow my girlfriend off into the theatre wondering where the hell we were and what we were doing there.



For the last few months the company I work for has been doing really poorly. Actually, it's really only been one solid month of bad news.

We don't have any work, the sales team can't close a deal, and the people who work on things outside my department aren't faring any better. Rumors have been flying around about the office closing or moving or the company shutting down entirely. When pressed, management would only offer up helpful nuggets like, "I haven't heard anything about that," "Don't worry about it. Nothing's going on," or "This is news to me. I'll look into it." Finally things came to a head and the owner of the company said there'd be a big announcement on Monday.

So everyone spent the whole weekend worried we would lose our jobs or have to alter our commutes to a new location or other horrible things because they left us up in the air like that. We were all morosely ready to hear the worst and just have the satisfaction of knowing. I was pretty confident I was safe though, because the business I work on is the company's priority. It's the breadwinner. There's only one other person who can do what I do and she just started, so even she doesn't know everything.

So imagine my surprise when they laid off the entire department.

There's only one other person who works on what I work on, but we had a sizable (at one time) Creative Department working on various pieces of business. I literally thought my boss was joking when he said he had to let it all go. He's not usually one for jokes in poor taste like that, but it just seemed to random and unexpected that I thought it had to be a joke. All told six of us were cut, and as near as I can tell about 20 - 25 people throughout the office. Basically if you're not in Sales (and you shouldn't be, since you're the ones who couldn't sell a piece of business to keep the company afloat) then you're out. And of course the management.

Sorry. The bitterness comes and goes. Like I said, I expected to be safe, so this really came out of left field and hit me in the face. I can finish out the month with them to qualify for a more than likely paltry severance package. I only say that because when we asked what it entailed we got "It's based on tenure." I haven't even been there a year.

Awesome. So I have in-laws visiting and I have to be job hunting. I have my girlfriend leaving for three months to go work in Alaska and I have to be job hunting. I have to make rent. I have to fix my car. I have to not fall behind on the credit card debt I've slowly whittled down to a manageable sum. I have something else going on...oh yeah, getting MARRIED in OCTOBER. This is a huge wrench.

Plus it totally throws me off what I was going to write about: my Saturday night when I screamed at a woman to shut up in Hollywood. But that story's too good to go by the wayside so it'll pop up later.

Kat's been really positive about things, which is good. I feel supported, and I guess the effect hasn't really set in yet (I'm still wide-eyed and staring at my airbag trying to figure out how my car wrapped itself around a telephone pole), but I'm not too upset. I mean, I haven't cried or anything. That says something, right? It's a big traumatic event; other people cried. I'm doing okay I guess.

I've said it before: I wanted this to be my last desk job. Now that I'm not leaving on my terms I guess it's forcing me to put my money where my mouth is. Kat says this is my kick in the pants from the universe to really commit to my writing and start making money doing it. If we need to move to a cheaper apartment or start budgeting tighter or whatever we need to do for me to be able to reach out for my goal, she says she's down for it.

Great. Now if I can just stop being terrified I'm good to go.


Crawling the Waffle

Crawling the Waffle (adj) to engage in repetetive or useless corporate action, fully realizing that your efforts will not be appreciated, recognized or even used despite upper management directly requesting said action; to acknowledge the absolute stupidity of middle-manager types and their bizarre dedication to corporate entities

I'm not really sure how it came about, but the term "crawling the waffle" is my favorite office phrase (other than "bringing the rigor") because I think there's something about the way it comes lolling out of your mouth when you say it aloud; it really does make you feel disgusted and fed up and apathetic all at once. It's perfect for corporate culture.

When it's 4:03 on a Friday and you have no work yet you can't leave the office because your micromanager boss insists something might happen, you're crawling the waffle.

When your boss calls you at home after hours and asks you to prepare one of those motivational posters featuring an eagle and "hold on to it, just in case," (this happened to me, seriously) you're crawling the waffle.

And when your company hires someone as your "senior" team member at nearly double your salary and expects you to train them up before reporting to them, you're crawling the waffle big time.

Sex Trek

I don't care how nerdy I'm revealing myself to be, this cracks my shit up.

Sick of being sick

I hate being sick. I don't know anybody who really enjoys it, but I think I hate it more than most.

For the past week now I've had a sore throat which has slowly migrated to my lungs. The thing is I feel okay; I haven't missed work and I only really felt bad the first two days. For some reason though every time I try to lie down to sleep I can't stop coughing.

It's not polite, clear your throat coughing, either. It's wheezing, hacking, horrible I'm-65-and-I've-smoked-all-my-life coughing. The only way I can get any sleep is to take Nyquil, which means the next day I'm in this weird narcotic fog all day.

So I've been riding the Nyquil Express, a horrible rollercoaster of black dreamless sleep punctuated by discombobulated, detached mornings and lethargic afternoons.

By now you've probably thought to yourself, "Go to the doctor, jackass." The thing is I keep convincing myself it's almost over and I don't want to eat the $50 co-pay for a doc to tell me to get some rest. Which of course is the perfect comedic timing for throat cancer to show up.


Life in the rumor mill.

It's amazing how easy it is to upset the precious dynamic that is office politics. Today the rumor mill is whirling that because the head honcho is in town that we must all be doomed (because obviously he is here to announce the shutdown of our office).

I have to admit that the amount of work I've had in the past three weeks and the overall atmosphere here would lend credence to that theory, but when you consider the source, a guy whose department is being downsized at the end of this month and who is obviously (and rightfully) bitter about it, I have to think he's just trying to poison the well.

That being said, I really don't want to get thrown out on the street today.


No score and one year ago...

I realized today while I was at work that it's my one year anniversary. I've lived in California for one whole year.

That puts me pretty far ahead of where most of my friends and loved ones back home expected; I think the betting pool on my returning home, hat in hand, was somewhere around six months. But I proved them wrong! I don't even own a hat!

I like Los Angeles. I love the West Coast. I think the future will see me moving to Northern California, and if my plans of somehow acquiring millions of dollars with little to no effort go smoothly, I'll buy a cabin in Big Sur. Until then, I'm liking where I'm at.

It's been a pretty tumultuous year. I moved halfway across the country. My parents got divorced and, despite telling myself repeatedly that I'm 26 and beyond the influence of such an event, it has really taken a lot to process mentally. I still can't really "go there" in my head without getting misty, but at the same time I feel detached and in denial if I don't. I think my sister has taken it pretty badly, but I can't get her to open up about it at all. So we just go on living.

Wait. No. No, we don't. I have spent the last 20+ years "just living." I didn't want to admit it for fear of failing and having it pointed out to me forever, but I came out here to do something bigger and better than I've done so far. I think that goal lies somewhere in writing or even performing comedy, and I'm taking the first steps finally. Something else pretty momentous happened over the last 12 months: I met Kat. Kat has been a simultaneously wild and inspiring yet stabilizing force in my life, and that's a big part of why we're getting married in October. She has helped me see a lot of flaws I was glazing over, as well as a lot of really great things about me that I have been completely refusing to acknowledge.

So she bought me classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade. It's nothing too earth-shaking, but it's my start. I am going to start hitting up the open mic nights locally as well. I am thrilled and terrified at the prospect, but I need to start pushing my comfort zone outward more.

I've also gone from feeling more at home in LA than I do in St. Louis. Maybe part of that is all the bullshit that's been going on at home with my folks splitting, but (and I know this is the most pretentious thing I've ever written) I just feel like people out here get it. There's a lot more emphasis on making something of yourself, not just busting your ass to get a desk job with health benefits.

Speaking of which, I have a day job that I like okay, but it's just that: a day job. With health benefits. It's definitely not what I want to do with the rest of my life, and I can't for the life of me understand people who are able to dedicate themselves fully and completely to a company. Surely these people weren't six years old at some point saying, "I wanna be a middle manager!" Were they? Did people really aspire to this kind of soul-crushing mediocrity where you worth is based on spreadsheets and meetings? Or do too many of us feel too hurt at looking in the mirror and saying, "You're too fat to be in the NFL. You're too dumb to be an astronaut. You're too afraid to be a fireman. You had dreams and wishes and plans and you haven't done anything to reach them," so we shut that part of ourselves down? It's a fate worse than death, and I think it's one that absolutely pervades the Midwest.

I know a lot of really smart, motivated people from back home, but the fact is the majority of my friends and loved ones work jobs they're just okay with, do things they never really saw themselves doing or even went to school for, and constantly dream of that day when everything will change while doing nothing to change it. I was totally that guy. And I moved out to California and fell into a similar rut and was close to becoming that guy all over again. I don't want to be that guy. I can't be that guy; I won't live very long.

I see some of the small town in me changing. It's still there, and I recognize the behavior and the way of thinking, but it's not my natural reaction any more. It's this weird, quaint voice in my head that sometimes debates with my regular internal monologue.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with any of this; I don't even really know where I intended to go. I just felt like reflecting on my first year in California and then it turned all weepy and preachy.

So in summation: I love California. I still get homesick. I'm living with the most wonderful and amazing woman I have ever met and she has (for reasons unknown to most everyone) agreed to marry me. I miss my Mom and Dad. I miss my sister. I miss my friends back home, but I love the friends I've made here. I have a job that's adequate. I have plans to do something bigger and better. And I'm starting right now.

My loony bun is fine Benny Lava

I was starting to think I was desensitized to YouTube. The barrage of nutshots, drunk co-eds, pre-teens pretending to be drunk, daily pratfalls and horrible Japanese TV shows started out as entertaining but really it's impossible to sustain at such a high level.

Plus I'm still having trouble even looking at YouTube after discovering they allow totally uncensored childbirth videos. Seriously? I can't show a boob but I can show a bleeding, prolapsed vagina with a human head sticking out of it? Either the human body is beautiful and we can all be adults or none of it is allowed, including Nature-style footage of people reproducing.

But anyway, I've found a will to YouTube again thanks to a guy from Maine named Seth and this amazing video he shared with the group. I don't think he did any of the editing, and I only say that because this obviously took some time to put together. So whoever the hell you are, buffalax, I'm giving you props.


Spring in LA

I got outside today and the weather was beautiful. It's probably just under 70, bright and sunny with a nice breeze meandering through the city from the beach.

I fell in love with LA today. I was out and about, with no real particular place to go, watching the lively Jewish boys rough-housing outside the temple and snapping to better behavior when their plaintive Hasidic elders walked out. I saw the sharp-dressed black families walking home from church down Sawyer Street, the men in neatly pressed suits and the women in floral dresses with hats. The boys wore collared shirts with short sleeves and the girls' dresses had polka dots. They were all smiling and talking with one another as they made their way. The cholos and their girlfriends were out in the parks walking with their babies and holding hands.

The sun felt good on my skin and brought back all the reasons I came out here. I am happy today. I haven't been for awhile but today I'm very happy.

I got my hair cut by a nice Armenian woman with short black hair that had a shock of red dyed in the bangs. She could barely speak English and the haircut she gave me makes me look like a douchebag, but oh well. The Salvadoran kid getting his head butchered by the Russian woman behind me didn't fare any better.

I got a sandwich at some little shop and the owner was this amazing Jheri-Curled Mexican/East Indian guy. He had this small harem of Latina and Indian women making sandwiches while he bullshitted with me at the counter. He was big and broad and smiling and not at all someone I would trust with anything other than a sandwich but he made me smile just talking about nothing.

I went grocery shopping and the couple in front of me had a cute little girl who kept waving at me from behind her dad's legs. I bought my random ass mix of Stella Artois and shampoo and toothpaste, and now I'm back at the apartment to clean before my fiance comes home and my sister and her boyfriend come to visit.

But I just can't bring myself in off the balcony long enough to do anything. The sun is too nice, the air is too warm, and the beer is too perfect on my lips.


Hi. I ordered the large pepperoni with extra diatribe.

I'm transferring some older blogs from my myspace account before I delete it. Enjoy this golden oldie, originally posted 1/24/2008:

Kat stole my car tonight to cart around her cousin's birthday party so I was left to my own devices on one of the three nights a year it rains in LA. Naturally, I ordered a pizza.

And I have to say that I really love the fact that I can order pizza online and just completely eliminate the human element from the process. Far too many minutes have been spent wasting time listening to the 16-year-old tell me the specials. I'm an American, dammit. I want results. I want instant access to the Papa John's menu and I don't want to have to walk my ass down the street to the restaurant.

I ordered my pizza and took off my soaking wet clothes (since I had to walk home in the pouring rain), ran a hot shower, and put on my favorite hoodie and pajama pants.

After a half hour or so my phone rang and it was the pizza guy. Since we just moved in here, we're still not hooked up to the buzzer thing to let people in so I had to jog downstairs and across the courtyard (which is large) to the gate.

I'm huffing and apologizing for the gate situation as I come across a flamingly gay man who I would say is just under seven feet tall. He asks to see my credit card as proof that I'm not stealing my own pizza. Because obviously I could've been a spy monitoring local phone conversations just waiting to swoop in and steal someone's pizza. I hand him my card and ID and hold the pizza while he makes a carbon rubbing of my card in what has got to be the most unsecure security measure ever conceived. Really? The safest way to protect my identity is to make a copy of my credit card on some random piece of receipt paper and then stuff it into the pocket of a delivery guy making $3.50 plus tips?

"What part of Illinois you from?" the giganto-gay man sees my ID.

"Columbia...it's basically St. Louis, Missouri. Just right across the river." I wonder why he would even ask this, and start to think I should ask if he's from Illinois as well, when he follows up.

"Trying to make it as an actor?"



"Sure...sorta." I want to write, but I wouldn't say I'm trying to "make it" as a writer. At least not as long as I have my day job.

"Oh man NOW is the PERFECT TIME for you to be here!" His face belies tremendous excitement. He looks genuinely pumped.

"On account of the strike, you mean?"


"I don't know, it will definitely shake things up. Are you in the industry?"


And I wish I could give you the word-for-word blow-by-blow transcription of what happened next. I really do. I wish I could just cut and paste it here for you as one big video so you could see this ginormous flaming guy in a Papa John's hat go into his 20 minute (!) explanation of the strike, its failure to get the writer's demands, the idiocy of the WGA president, the preening of its head lawyer (who's also completely inept, by the way) and tips on where to find production companies hiring non-union writers. 20. Fucking. Minutes.

And I, like a fool, stood there for all of it. Put on my best "I'm very interested" face and nodded. I threw in the occasional "Wow" or "Uh huh" to let him know I really cared. But I glazed over once he started listing SAG talking points and results of the Director's Guild negotiations. There was a weird part about Tom Cruise and the Scientology Stigma, too. Honest. So I stood there. In the rain. Holding my now very cold pizza. This man had come to deliver my dinner but had instead taken me on an amazing journey through the ins and outs of the WGA strike and its implications on my burgeoning career as a writer in LA.

"Are you a screen writer?" I'm not.


"Okay, thank god. Wow, if you would've said 'poetry' or something I would've been like, 'wow, waste of time talking about all that.'"

"Yeah. Huh. Well thanks for the tip." He holds out his hand to shake mine.

"I'm Sergio, by the way."


"Nice to meet you. Say, I'll tell you what..." he reaches into his pocket. I'm fully expecting a card or a script or screenplay or some other LA ridiculousness to come out. Instead he hands me three packets of crushed red pepper and a packet of parmesan cheese. "Have a good night."

And he capped it off by givin' me the gun. You know, the little index finger point with your thumb straight up in the air. Usually with a little "Pew!" noise to indicate the laser beam firing? That one. Not double guns, though. Just one. Sergio and I aren't quite THERE yet.

And just like that he was off into the rain. Maybe to deliver pizzas and career advice to some other bewildered Midwestern transplant. Perhaps to hang out with his best friend (not "best friend" as in "I saw him in a magazine once," like LITERALLY best friend, like he comes over to my house all the time) whose name I forgot but is TOTALLY the president of TriStar pictures. Or something.

The pizza was good once I reheated it.