This is Why I Hate Public Bathrooms

Kat and I got back into town Saturday night after visiting her family in Hawaii for Thanksgiving. We'd been gone for a week so the fridge was particularly bare. When we woke up Sunday feeling a little hungover from traveling, the prospect of hitting up the grocery store was a little more than either of us wanted to deal with, so I was able to convince Kat to go to brunch with me.

Kat hates eating out because nine times out of 10 she feels like she could make something better at home for cheaper (and to be honest, she's right).

We settled on a place in West Seattle since it was close and had decent reviews on Yelp. Kat had Eggs Benedict with Dungeness Crab and I had a heaping portion of Biscuits and Gravy that was obviously meant to serve a rather large village. The food was really good, if not ridiculously huge, and we agreed we'd made a good choice.

But it didn't take long for the biscuits to get to work. Or the gravy. Or the eggs. Nope, you know what? It was the fresh fruit. Definitely. Anyway, I had to TCOB (Take Care Of Business).

I hate public bathrooms. I'm not usually a germophobe (my spellchecker keeps wanting to change that to homophobe - quit judging me, spellcheck!) but I do freak out at the thought of sharing a toilet seat with several dozen strangers. Especially given the bathroom at work: we have a men's room with two urinals and two toilets to service roughly 200 people, all of which seem to enjoy wiping their bloody boogers on the wall so that I have no choice but to stare into them like Philosophers' Stones while I pee. Then there's the toilets: if you're lucky the seats are just coated in piss. More often they're covered in piss and still full to the brim with wads of toilet paper and horrible piles of shit. More than half the guys I see in there regularly don't wash their hands. I saw one guy bring his laptop out of there. Not like under his arm or anything, it was open. Like he'd been using it in there. Today I noticed there was a stain on the wall where someone had pissed on the wall next to the urinal.

I don't understand how you can function as an adult in society and work for a billion dollar company when you can't keep from expelling bodily waste on the walls. These people are fucking animals and I genuinely hate them for it.

But this isn't about that.

Aside from my fear of contracting toilet seat herpes, my second biggest fear of public restrooms centers on being walked in on. I hate when you're forced to use the sit-down stall and someone walks in. For some reason I can't just go about my business like any human being should without feeling any shame or embarrassment. I have to wait until they're gone in case I make a noise. Even worse is that horrible tension when they try pulling on the stall door. I freeze like a tiny deer in the headlights, just praying to its tiny deer god that it won't be run over and killed.

Back to brunch: I made my way to the men's room determined to get this over with as fast as possible. I locked the door, checked it to make sure it was locked, double checked it, unlocked it, locked it again, double checked it, triple checked it, wiped down the seat (no tissue paper donut-ring?!), fashioned a seat cover out of toilet paper, and sat down.

Instantly, someone knocked at the door.

I cursed to myself. How could they have gotten to the door so quickly and NOT seen me walk in? Suddenly I realized the knocking was a constant banging and lower than usual on the door. It was a little kid. 

Specifically, it was an adorable little Japanese toddler I'd pointed out to Kat from our booth. His grandpa was making him jump around their booth like a trained seal for a small sucker he kept dangling over the kid's head. As I pieced together who it was, Grandpa showed up too. 

"Grandpa, someone won't let me in!"
"I think someone's in there; just wait."

Oh god, the pressure. I was on a timer now. Luckily they decided to stand directly outside the door, with the little one still absent-mindedly banging on it with his hands, while I cowered just inches away like a squatting Anne Frank trying desperately to poop before the Nazis heard anything.

Soon I heard a waitress show up. "Hey," she cooed at the little guy, "Are you waiting for the bathroom? Do you need me to let you in there?" FUCK YOU, LADY! Who just unlocks bathroom doors like that?! Luckily, grandpa saved me: "I think there's someone in there; we're waiting." I think it was starting to dawn on him that this would be longer than the average pee session.

And there was no way I was going to come out now and face my attackers.

Eventually they gave up and the guy took his grandson into the ladies' room since all the kid wanted was to wash his hands. I finished things on my end and speed-walked to our booth so I could hurry Kat out of the restaurant before they could piece together that it was me.

I might be back for the biscuits, but I'll be sure to purge before hand.


Do You Love Pokemon?

You don't love it as much as this guy. He fuckin' LOVES him some motherfuckin' Pokemon.



The Ballad of Sweet Tito

Since I just moved to a new city and don't really know anyone, I've been spending a lot of time in front of the TV trying to put myself out there and meet some friends. 

Okay, A friend. Any friend.

So when my co-worker Luke invited me to a weekly game night he's a part of, I was excited. My other work pals Josh, Matthew and Matt (no relation) were also attending, and I was happy at the prospect of transitioning from "work pals" to "friends," which could not sound gayer if I was sucking a dick while typing it. I agreed, and headed out to Gary's Games for my first ever session of Dungeons & Dragons.


James Bond's got Nothin' On This.

I don't know what French Bond rip-off this is, but it's epic:


I'm not sure how her boobs make a sound like a table saw, or how razor blades spinning at roughly the speed of a lamp pull string can disintegrate a chair like that. 

And if your mission is to wield razors dangling from your nipples in order to stop or incapacitate a French super-spy, shouldn't you, like, do something to him once you're done ruining his furniture?


Oh my god, I get it. You want me to share this.

I'm not sure why it's showed up all of a sudden, and I can't for the life of me find it to get rid of it, but I apologize for the ever-increasing rash of "SHARE THIS" buttons appearing at the bottom of posts on the main page.

Near as I can tell they don't show up when you click the actual entry link, but fuck they're annoying. Anyone know how I can remove them or what I should even be looking for?

I keep finding funky javascript for it in my blog entries that I'm not entering and is definitely not part of any template I use, but when I delete it the links are still on the main page. Weird.

Dear Whoever Makes Those Credit Card Machines at Cash Registers

Here's what should happen every time you try to purchase something at a store using your credit or debit card at one of those little swipe machine things:


Here's what happens instead. Every. Fucking. Time.


Fuck you, swipey.

I realize the store probably has some liability they're trying to dodge when the card declines so they can stick the bill to me or something, but CHRIST. They don't have to push that many buttons when they launch a fucking space shuttle.

Can we reach a point where people are trusted to actually look at the goddamn screen when they're buying something and, if something's not correct, point it out before pressing "okay"?

No? Of course not.


What the Hell is Wrong with Me?

I ride the bus to work every day, which is something I never tried before moving to Seattle because I grew up in Southern Illinois, which has no bus system whatsoever and requires at least $100 to get a cab to venture out to you.

Then I lived in Los Angeles, and I took the bus a few times but it was kind of inconveniently scheduled and full of really somber-looking Mexicans. That in itself doesn't bother me; I just felt out of place.

Then I moved back home to St. Louis, a city that utilizes its public transportation solely for the purpose of carting around assorted homeless people of varying degrees of menace, leaving the MetroLink trains for drunken sports fans.

But now I live in Seattle, and the buses are nice and come every 20 minutes and there are still crazy people on them but they are mixed in with the general population at a pretty close to normal ratio. Normally my morning bus is all but empty when I get on and fills to about 75% before I get off. My bus home is usually more crowded, but rarely maxed out to a "standing room only" capacity.

Except yesterday.

As it pulled up to my stop I wondered if I'd be able to get on to make it home. It was PACKED, and there were already several people standing. Luckily for me, some passengers were exiting and I found an open seat.

In fact, I found two open seats. Just like that! Lucky me! I sat down in the window seat and scrunched against the glass, expecting someone to sit next to me shortly. It's always awkward when you have to sit close with a stranger, knees occasionally touching, trying desperately to not make eye contact and of course unintentionally locking eyes every 30 seconds. I braced myself for the stinkiest, grossest passenger to sit down next to me and ruin my ride home while foolishly holding out hope it would be an attractive woman.

Except no one sat by me.

I couldn't believe it. Double lucky me! I didn't have to constrict and contract myself into a corner to avoid having my personal space invaded! Didn't have to worry about asking someone to move when I had to get up and exit! I could relax and zone out with my headphones on and just stare out the window until my stop.

Then I noticed everyone else on the bus had a seat partner.

People were crammed into every possible seat; five people were standing, their bodies swaying wildly with the acceleration and deceleration of the bus. Even the crappy sideways seat was full. Everyone sat (or stood), staring at their phones, books, and eReaders. No one looked at me. No one made a move for the empty seat next to me.

I immediately became mortified.

I subtly sniffed my armpits; nothing. I tried to check my teeth for spinach or something in the window; no joy. I became more and more frantically paranoid that I was emanating some stench or vibe that told any and all people in Seattle to stay the fuck away. I worried that maybe I have a Rapist Face.

So, in the span of about 45 seconds, I went from hoping no one would sit next to me to emotionally wounded that no one wanted to sit next to me. What a bizarre blend of narcissism and low self esteem.


Instructional Video Time!

Courtesy of Garfunkel and Oates and starring one of my favorite people, Kate Micucci.


Batman is My New Hero

If you haven't seen the YouTube sensation of "How To, Batman?" you're in for a treat. Some guys named Gabe Evans and Greg Gustafson have created the ultimate video advice column; they take your questions and Evans, in perfect Christian Bale Batman voice, explains it for you, complete with awesome theme music and intro.

So far my favorite by far is "How to Order From a Subway," but they've got a ton of hits. Enjoy:


Nicole at Comcast is a Really Patient Person

One of the less thrilling aspects of moving is re-establishing things like power, internet, gas service, etc. I've dealt with most of it already, but with my internet service it's taken awhile because apparently Comcast can't schedule an installation less than two weeks in advance. I did all that online and promptly forgot about it.

Today I realized I may or may not have a Comcast technician coming to my house very soon and I should make sure I was there. Luckily they have a little online chat window so you can get all the information you'd ever need, and then some. My "analyst" (what is she analyzing, exactly?) was Nicole, who had the bizarre habit of typing little actions in parentheses after her phrases, like "Let me find that information for you! (smiles)." 

I immediately started mimicking her enthusiasm to mock her, but she took it all in stride and played right along. Naturally I had to up the ante to try and get SOME kind of reaction from her, some acknowledgment that I was being a shithead.

I got none. Even as I progressed from (grinning) to overt sexual gestures, she not only stayed professional, she stayed in the chat room. I have no idea who you are or where you're from Nicole at Comcast, but I admire your dedication to your craft.

user Randall_ has entered room

Can't remember when my appt. for installation is.

analyst Nicole has entered room

Hello Randall_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Nicole. Please give me one moment to review your information.

It's a Comcastic day! I am here to assist you with concerns and I am really sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused you. With your help, I assure you we can resolve this in no time and before we start, I just want to know how are you doing today?

I'm good, thanks. I just need to know when my installation is scheduled.

I am glad you are doing good, Randall! (smiling)


As I understand you're inquiring about your appointment,  correct?



I am sorry to know that, but let me do my best to help you with your concern today.

To start with, can you please provide the name on the account and the account number?

The name is Randall Cleveland

The account number is ______

Thank you very much for the information. (smiling)

You are welcome! (blowing spit bubbles)

Randall, thank you for your patience and cooperation on this. (laughs)

My patience isn't the only thing that's long! (gestures to crotch)


Your appointment schedule is tomorrow, August 6, 2010 from 9AM-11AM.

Thanks. Want to meet for drinks after? (bats eyelashes seductively)

That would be nice!

We appreciate your time spent with us today. Are there any other concerns specific to your account that you want us to help you with?

Nope. See you at La Rustica for a glass of wine!

(awkwardly tries to hide boner in jeans)

Thank you for bringing Comcast to your home. We value you like a diamond. If you need further assistance, please come back at your convenience as we are operating 24/7. To complete this interaction and save the trancript, please click on the “End Session” button that you will see on the screen, it will be greatly appreciated if you will find time to let us know how we were able to address your concerns today. Have a great day!

Always wear a smile and have a blessed day, Randall! (smiling)

You have brought a smile to my face, Nicole. (leans in for a quick peck on the cheek)

I am very delighted to know that, Randall. You take care now! Have a good one!

I'll miss you! Take care of yourself! (one more quick kiss)

Sure thing! You too.

Oh god, Nicole, my wife is here. Please don't let her know about us. I'm going to leave her but things are messy right now. Just play along!





Hey, babe. This is my friend Nicole. We were just hanging out, no big deal.


(laughing discretely)

Oh god, Nicole! Don't laugh!


Honey, calm down! (grabs wife by shoulders)


You insufferable...fine! I'm glad you found out this way! I'm in love with Nicole and she loves me and I'm leaving you!






Randall! I am amazed.

Nicole you're the only one for me, I swear. I've been miserable for years but I didn't have any reason to leave until I met you!

What we've shared. What we WILL share. It's worth too much. I love you.

That's funny, Randall. But let us keep it as it is. Is there anything else I can be of assistance today?

I've got to sort some things out, Nicole. Goodbye for now. My life is just too messy to risk hurting you too.

Status: The analyst has left and your issue has been closed.


Settling in Seattle

I've been slightly off the grid for the last week or so as I was packing and moving across the country to Seattle, so this is a quick life update:

- Got my place
- Got my stuff into my place
- Unpacked a couple boxes
- Working on the free WiFi from the cafe down the street until my office is open downtown next week.

So far, so good! I'm not sure if our new place is exceptionally tiny or our last place was extra huge; maybe a combination of the two, but we definitely have more stuff than I know what to do with right now. Oh well. We're committed for a year, at least. My landlord seems nice enough and we even have hot water, which is something the last place didn't seem interested in fixing.

I've spent the last two days living with my cousins-in-law until everything got here (thanks Serina and Charles!) and hanging with my awesome six-year-old second cousin Elijah, who has been pretty amped to have somebody new to play with. It's been the most exhausting two days off I've ever had, but it's been a lot of fun! 

Tonight I'll sleep in my own bed again; I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to that.


Rebuilding Randy: Day 5

Day 5: 46 pushups

Okay, now I remember why I stopped doing a daily blog. Shit be hard to update, yo! Anyway, Day 5 was actually YESTERDAY, in which I did my pushups plan to the tune of 46(!) pushups.

I don't think I've done 46 pushups before in my life. Like, cumulatively.

I didn't tack on any biking like I had planned, but on the plus side I did pushups until I literally collapsed on my floor. I hit that wall where my muscles literally would not work, which I've almost never been able to push myself to. So I'm taking that as good.

My pectoral muscles are not. Today should be more running, but god DAMN it's hot outside. Maybe I'll wait until later tonight.


Rebuilding Randy: Day 4

Day 4: 5 minutes of jogging, 2 minutes of limping, and 35 minutes of walking briskly

I bet you thought I'd screw this up already.

Well I did, sorta. I stayed up way too late last night so I was not feeling my run this morning. Which meant that I had to do it tonight, after work, while it was 108 degrees outside. So naturally I put it off even further.

But eventually I did get out there and do it, so ha! Except I promptly got cramps in both my calves and couldn't run. Because I'm a pathetic and weak excuse for a human being. But I knew that going into this, so that's okay. It's supposed to be hard when you're starting out, right? Especially when you're a tub of goo like me. So I only actually jogged for like five minutes, but I made myself walk longer to make up the distance. Tomorrow means more pushups, but I may add some biking onto that because it feels like pushups just aren't enough for a day's worth of exercise. That's assuming my legs feel better, though.



So I've been lying low for a few weeks because I was sitting on the confidential and unreleased information that my day job had been bought out and I was being assimilated moved to their office in Seattle. Now that everything is out in the open and public knowledge, I can and have let pretty much everyone know that I'm heading to the Pacific Northwest at the end of this month. In two weeks, actually.

I've secured a place, or I will as soon as I fax back my signed lease, and it's right on the water in Alki so that's pretty awesome. I've also started the farewell party circuit, which is always fun. I'll be working in a soul-crushing cube farm, which sucks a bag of dicks, but at least I'll be in a cube next to the people I work with and like.

I have a really strong knee-jerk reaction to corporate life. I hate Hate HATE the fake smiles and organized "fun" giant faceless corporations try to foster among employees. Of course before my current gig I was in the epicenter of corporate micromanaged bullshit complete with forms to sign just to go to the bathroom, so maybe I'm just a little gun-shy.

Anyway, this is a lot of not-funny stuff, but I've also decided to spend this summer rebuilding myself. Or tearing myself down. I can't decide which metaphor I like better.

The short answer is I'm fat. Being fat isn't an indictment in and of itself, but I'm fatter than I want to be. In the last three years I've become a hypochondriacal nutcase convinced that every time I eat a burger it's going to be the thing that kills me. Sure, a sane person might just, y'know, stop eating burgers and drinking soda, and I have...cut back...a little. 

Actually, thanks to my wife I eat better now than I ever have in my life, which is helping; but it turns out that despite my best efforts to find any evidence to the contrary you actually have to exercise to be healthy. So I've started a combination program: first, I canceled my gym membership to make this as hard as possible and also because I'm moving to Seattle so I can't keep paying it. Next, I started a combination of the One Hundred Pushups program and the Couch to 5K plan. I do them on alternating days. I also acquired a super amazing bike to mix things up once in awhile.

Third, inspired by Drew Magary's Public Humiliation Diet, I'm going to let you guys in on it in the hopes that you'll be more supportive than insulting. But then again I write the Twit of the Week so I understand the need to occasionally berate a stranger via the anonymity of the internet.

Anyway, today is actually Day 3 of this plan (I really debated whether or not to go public with my quest to not be a huge fat ass), so here's where I'm at:

Starting weight: 262 (sadly, not the fattest I've ever been)
Day 1: 25 pushups
Day 2: 5 minute walk followed by alternating 1 minute of running/1.5 minutes of walking for a total of 25 minutes. (This sounds super lame, and it kind of is, but it's a very gradual plan for basically-sedentary people designed to keep me from hurting myself or getting frustrated at my complete lack of fitness and quitting.) Also super lame: on my first day I could only stick it out for 19 minutes before stopping.
Day 3: 34 pushups

From now on I'll title these kinds of posts "Rebuilding Randy" so you know to avoid them if you don't want to hear me bitch about how fat I am. 

More running tomorrow. Wish me luck!


Sure, it's the heat.

If you don't live in or around St. Louis like me, you might not know that it's currently hotter than balls here right now. Looking at the temperature doesn't do it justice, because that usually only tops out in the high 80s to low 90s. You have to couple in the horrific humidity that makes the heat index, as it was this morning when I left for work at 107 degrees.


I don't understand how heat indexes work, but the basic gist is "Oh, it's actually only 80 degrees outside, but because of all the moisture in the air and lack of wind it feels like it's 100." Well if it feels like it's 100 doesn't that make it a fucking hundred?

Anyway, there's no respite. It's in the 90s when I wake up and go to work in the morning, and it's in the 90s when I go to bed at night. It's disgusting. As soon as you walk outside you're sweating.

So I was enduring the hell that is Midwestern living while I was pumping gas at the QT by my work when a car pulled up at the pump beside mine. The passenger got out and I noticed right away his pants were sagged to below his knees. I could literally see his legs below where his comically-oversized boxers stopped, his jeans were that low.

If you didn't know, "sagging" (I put it in quotes to sound educated. And white.) originates on Death Row, where inmates are often denied things like "belts" and "elastic bands" and "anything at all because you're probably going to kill yourself or someone else with it," so their pants often sag. This eventually caught on with "gangsta" rap and thus got co-opted, focus-grouped, packaged up and sold to the youth of America as something the cool kids do. Children doing this are literally emulating someone who can't be trusted to not injure themselves or others with an elastic string.

So this guy hops out of the car and immediately lurches into a wild, backward scramble until he smashes into my car. The alarm goes off and he turns around to stare at me, sizing me up before deciding the fat guy with the little girl haircut is probably not a threat.

In MY mind, I'm thinking, "What the fuck is your fucking problem you fucking stupid fuck?" But that's no way to make friends or avoid getting your ass kicked at a gas station, so instead I say to him, "You okay pal?"

He looks at me, completely dazed, and says, "It's hotter than Mama's chicken wings out here." He then proceeds to launch into the most cartoonish, over-acted, drunk stumble I've ever seen into the gas station. Loony Tunes characters don't wobble this much even when they're taking pulls from some jug marked "XXX" and hiccuping every 20 seconds.

But at least I came away with a new phrase to use: "hotter than Mama's chicken wings." I've never heard something so clever, probably because my mom usually just buys chicken wings from a bar.

Life After the Bell: Jessie Spano

Continuing my examination of what happened to the characters of Saved by the Bell once the lights turned off.

Jessie Spano was always a little out of place at Bayside: she was the rigid, unwavering feminist/environmentalist forever fighting the current of mindless consumption and sexism roaring over Southern California like a tidal wave 24/7. Sure, she wasn't so committed to her principles that she didn't pose for the occasional beauty pageant or get hooked to "caffeine pills" in order to further her burgeoning lip-syncing career at The Max, but she was still the Class of '93's moral compass in most cases.

After failing to land admission to Stansbury, "The Harvard of the West," Jessie fell into a deep depression. She briefly considered throwing caution to the wind and moving in with her longtime boyfriend A.C. Slater to raise a family, but her mother eventually convinced her to pursue her education, even if it wasn't at the university of her dreams.

One chilly December night she paid a surprise visit to Slater at California University. Her exposure to the binge drinking and blatant homoeroticism of partying with Slater's "bros" led her to question if their entire relationship had been a decoy to throw their friends off the scent of Slater's latent homosexuality. Jessie decided she would be the first true friend Slater ever had, and asked him directly if he was gay. She hoped to coax him out of the closet by showing that she cared for him and supported him no matter his sexual orientation, but the confrontation threw Slater's defensive mechanisms into overdrive.

Jessie endured his screams and insults as he called her a whore, a filthy no good pig bitch, and assured her that he had cheated on her with the majority of girls at Bayside High and half his freshman class at California U. Deep down Jessie knew these were all lies; she had tried to initiate sex once with Slater at a late night study session. He'd blanched at the idea, and she could see the abject terror in his eyes as he rattled through excuses as to why everything had to be "perfect" before he could "nail" her.

She had called his bluff, leaning in to kiss him passionately on the mouth while stroking his manhood through his acid-washed jeans. He was completely flaccid. She'd spent several months wondering what was wrong with her, but in that terrible moment at California University she realized it was no fault of her own that she could not satisfy A.C.

Unable to convince the one person she'd ever loved that he was worth loving, she left Slater there drunk, teary-eyed, and screaming obscenities at her as she headed back home. Jessie wondered if her staunch feminism was a coping mechanism for the failures of all the men in her life: Slater's inability to admit his gayness, Zack's constant scheming and womanizing, her father's divorce and subsequent marriage to that tart she never approved of, and of course Eric, the creepy step-brother she'd acquired through her mother's second marriage.

So many times she'd returned home to find her panties missing, or rearranged in their drawer; that was when she was lucky. Some nights Eric didn't even have the courtesy to throw the semen-coated thongs and boy shorts into the laundry. They'd be waiting for her the next day until she would slip them on, feel the cold slimy embrace of her step-brother's jism on her labia, and scream.

Her mother wouldn't listen, and of course her step-dad took Eric's side, so Jessie was forced to take matters into her own hands. Taking a page from Zack's book, she created fake correspondence between her step-father and his secretary. Using Zack's gargantuan cell phone she would make late night calls and in her most breathless, sultry voice ask her mother to put her step-father on the phone. At first the fights only made things worse; the tension in the house led Eric to act out even more aggressively, at one point threatening to kill her mother if Jessie wouldn't give him anal.

Strengthened by her convictions and the confidence in her own abilities, Jessie stuck to her plan and before long Eric and his dad were heading back to New York, disgraced. Jessie's mom apologized profusely for not taking her warnings and subsequent complaints more seriously. Jessie said she forgave her, but the words were just words; they didn't mean anything to her.

She finished college and went on to study Law at Princeton. Shortly after passing the Bar Exam she was recruited by the top corporate defense firm in the nation, which offered to make her an immediate junior partner. She turned down the offer to open her own practice serving the needs of immigrants, unionized workers, and victims of sexual assault and discrimination.

She never looked back. She never returned to Bayside, either; not even for Christmas or the birth of her daughter, Liberty Virtue Spano. Jessie chose her daughter's father from a catalog of sperm samples after deciding that was all the male contact she would ever need again.

As Liberty grew up Jessie didn't realize that the strength and pride she thought she was displaying and instilling in her daughter were actually fear and weakness. Her disdain for men as being useless, empowering in her mind, came across as a meek, fearful anger. She could never operate in a man's world, she could never be "one of the guys." She'd certainly never trust another man again.

Jessie could never bring herself to come out of the closet. She craved men, fantasized about them, but could never admit to wanting or needing one. When Liberty came out of the closet at 15, Jessie was elated that her daughter would never know the sting of male hegemony in her relationships. When Liberty came out as "confused," two years later, Jessie became depressed with the knowledge that there was no escaping the white-male-dominated society in which they lived.

She remained a successful, albeit financially struggling attorney for 41 years before finally retiring to live out her days in her daughter's care at the home Liberty shared with her wife, Maureen, in rural Massachusetts. She died at the age of 82, and was celebrated as a champion of the downtrodden and the victimized.

No one from Bayside came to the funeral.


Cwunch it up...

You may think I'm posting this to make fun of Merrill, but I'm posting it because I think he's kind of adorable. Even if in person I bet he smells a little weird.

Gracias, Mung from Zug!


Cookin' with Class

My wife works as a commercial fisher, so she's gone for the summers. I usually have three months to myself, which just started last week, and it's usually pretty nice for a week or so before the crushing loneliness sets in.

However, upon learning of the "Funyuns, Cherry Coke, and Taco Bell" diet I enjoy while she's out of town, she decided to ruin everything improve my ability to take care of myself by signing me up for a cooking class.

I showed up to my first class late because the tiny place had no available parking, so I had to find a spot in the subdivision behind and hope I didn't get a ticket since I didn't have the permit for the local neighborhood.

I have this weird and totally-not-helpful hangup about trying new things: if it's not my idea, I'll most likely hate it. If it's not going perfectly, I'll definitely hate it. It doesn't make sense. It totally sucks to deal with. But it's my hangup. I recognize that it's a personality flaw you could easily describe as "crippling" or "the most annoying fucking thing on the planet," because that's how I see it. But so far I don't know how to get rid of it.

Anyway, I was already cursing under my breath at the parking situation when I walked in to find 12 other people surrounding a very confused-sounding older woman as she explained what a knife is.

Seriously. She pointed out the handle and the blade.

I took my spot at the left end of the U-shaped counter next to an old guy who looked almost EXACTLY like Creed from The Office. Everyone has a kitchen knife and we're shown how to properly chop, which involves a motion our teacher describes as "like a locomotive." Everyone whips out their kitchen knives, except me. Since I was late, I get to practice chopping with a steak knife.

Uh, what? If I wanted to learn how to chop a carrot with a fucking steak knife I would have just stayed home and fucked up dinner like I always do. Is the COOKING SCHOOL seriously out of kitchen knives?

In all honesty, I can cook. If you give me a recipe I can make a reasonable facsimile of the intended end result happen. I just hate to cook. It takes me a lot longer than most, because I have no knife or planning skills, but I'll make it happen. I can't really just "whip something up" though. I can't look at separate ingredients and say, "I know what I'll do with this!" Instead, I look at my pantry, overflowing with starches and grains, the spice rack as tall as I am, and the freezer/fridge full of fish, cheese, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, chicken, and say, "Fuck. We don't have anything to eat." Then I usually get myself a bowl of cereal.

Since we were starting our lesson with "This is the pointy end of your knife," I wondered if I'd underestimated my abilities. I chopped my carrots and onion with the locomotion maneuver and began to feel slightly badass. Creed fumbled his knife four times, nearly stabbing me in the arm once. In my head I fantasized about slamming him against the wall, my tiny steak knife at his throat: "If you cut me with your stupid fucking knife I. WILL. GUT. YOU."

Instead I watch as Creed endures a sneezing/coughing fit, spraying his cutting board, knife, and vegetables repeatedly. The instructor seems to notice as well, mentioning that normally we all wash our hands before we begin cooking, but since this is just practice it's okay.

None of us ever washes our hands the rest of the night.

We sit as the helpers clear away our vegetable wreckage and our teacher drones on and on about what we'll be making. I survey the crowd assembled; there are 13, including myself.

- Directly across from me, at the other tip of the U, sit the Abercrombie kids: a guy and girl who could conceivably be brother and sister but are most likely a couple. She wears one of those hipster t-shirts with the huge neck so that one shoulder and half her bra is constantly exposed.

- To their left are the Frownies. I think they're a couple, but they could also be related because both of their mouths form the same taught, perfect frown. They constantly look as though you just stepped on their feet and they're trying not to cry.

- Next up, lonely dude. A young looking tall guy, pretty heavy, who awkwardly crosses and uncrosses his arms. He is loudly trying to strike up a conversation with the woman next to him, and at one point brags that he knows how to fry candy bars. He offers to bring one in for her. She declines.

- Sassy, the object of lonely dude's affections, seems like a pretty straightforward lady. She has a pretty good attitude, and gives knowing winks when engaged in conversation with the rest of us. Were I single I would be trying to impress her with fried candy bars, too.

- Next up, the Trucker. A smoky older woman, maybe 40s or 50s but looking closer to 60s-70s due to a hard-lived life. She doesn't have the raspy cigarette-smoker voice yet, but if you listen real close you can hear it starting to register.

- Next to her, Track Star. An athletically-skinny woman, college-aged and very very serious looking. She looks like she is here to learn some fucking cooking and would appreciate us knocking the bullshit off.

- Beside her is Sara, who's not actually named Sara but fits the mold of every other woman I've ever met named Sara (with no H. Sarah's are a totally different breed): short, a little chubby, big boobs, a splash of makeup, and a bubbly laugh. She also sports a "lookatmelookatme!" princess-cut engagement ring. She is the first one to acknowledge me in the class and seems nice.

- Next to Sara is the Kid, a tiny woman no bigger round than a drinking straw whose facial features and familiarity lead me to believe she may be Sara's younger sister. She is very quiet but smiles a lot.

- Next up, Legs. A pretty average-looking 40-something, wearing khaki shorts with perfectly smooth calves. He either waxes or is physically incapable of growing hair on his legs. He seems a little nervous and out of his element, but has a good attitude.

- Creed, the old guy I already mentioned, who leans in to tell me he's a huge klutz and will probably hurt himself and/or others before this class is over. I hope he means accidentally.

- Me, the sarcastic fat guy with the homeless-man beard and the greasy unwashed hair silently judging everyone else based solely on their appearances.

As our teacher's giving us the basics of how to not stab ourselves in the eyes with olive forks, a huge, fat fly lands on the work surface in front of Sara. It tries to fly a few times but seems drunk or injured or just too huge and fat to move. Teach notices the vermin and gets pretty embarrassed. She turns to one of the helpers, "Could you...ah, try to get that fly?" My eyes light up at the thought of the teenage girl in skinny jeans wielding a fly swatter through our cooking session, but no: she rushes up and smashes the fucking thing on the counter with her bare hand.

We all sit, staring at her, wondering if she realizes she just smashed a fucking fly where we're going to be chopping vegetables for soup in a minute. She's not sure if she made full contact, though, so she drags her hand back to her; the resulting smear of fly guts across the counter must mean we're ready to cook! "Oh, god, spray something on that," the teacher winces. Assistant #2 sprays something with bleach and dutifully wipes any trace of the murder that just occurred, and now we only have the pungent smell of Clorox to remind us.

Creed, Legs, and I get assigned to making vegetable soup. One of the ingredients is chicken stock. "So, if I were to make this on my own, I could get chicken stock...where?" Legs asks me.

"You can get the concentrated stuff like this here in the store, or if you're at just a grocery store you can get it in cans or cartons from the soup aisle so you can just pour it in," I answer, genuinely trying to be helpful because this man has lived nearly half his life without knowing what stock is.

"How do I know how big to slice this potato?" Creed motions toward me with his kitchen knife. Awesome. A klutz with a knife who talks with his hands. He later asks the teacher, "When you say, 'Heat the pan,' do you mean HOT hot?"

I chop my celery and carrots and add them to our bowl of chopped shit. We make our way to the pot and begin cooking our soup. Legs is afraid to stir; apparently he was burned as a child. The recipe calls for broken vermicelli, which I keep in our measuring cup. "So...Legs asks me inquisitively, "this is vermicelli?"

The dude doesn't know what vermicelli is.

I can forgive you if you're not sure what shape vermicelli might be, but he's looking right at it. It's the only pasta mentioned in our recipe. What the fuck could it possibly be but vermicelli?

The teacher passes around some compound butter she's made with garlic and herbs. We all take turns smearing some on bread and enjoying. The trucker asks, "What's the difference between salted and unsalted butter?"

"Salt," I blurt out before I realize what a sarcastic ass this makes me sound like. The entire class turns and stares at me like dogs that have just been shown a card trick. I retreat to the bathroom.

I duck into the bathroom, which is roughly four and a half feet away from the stove. Luckily I don't have to shit, because I can't imagine walking out of there, poop stink fumes billowing out and into the kitchen, and trying to act nonchalant.

I pee. For a minute or two I strongly consider leaving my dick out under my apron, but eventually I decide the hilarity is not worth the sex offender registry.

I wash my hands and come back out to the kitchen where I'm charged with seasoning the soup. I taste it and it's terrible; all I can taste are the canned tomatoes that went in. It's metallic and bland and horrible. I salt and salt and salt but can't kill the flavor of can.

Before we serve it to the class, the recipe calls for shredding fresh parmesan over the soup. Creed is charged with this task, but looks to us feebly for help. "Can you help me?" he pleads, "I've never used anything like this before." A cheese grater? You've never used anything like a cheese grater before?

While we're watching another group make stir fry the helpers serve us each a glass of white wine. Abercrombie boy downs his in a single gulp. He and Abercrombie girl continuously flirt and touch each other while the rest of us peel onions and chop shit.

The stir fry is served and the chicken is the consistency of shoe leather. To overcook this chicken further you would have to fly it to the sun. I dutifully chew through and look around; everyone is silently doing the same.

Eventually the class is over and we part ways, assured by our teacher that next week we will master chocolate cake. I'd be happy with just getting the right fucking knife.


There maaaaaaaaay be an earthquake that maaaaaaaaaay collapse the Golden Gate Bridge and maaaaaaay affect the rest of the West Coast.

In September.

And this guy is pumped about it!

Of course when this shit really goes down in September and the entire West Coast sloughs off the continent and into the ocean, he will rule us all with an iron fist.

A big, retarded, iron fist.


You're About to Love Tahuna Breaks

You won't be able to get this out of your head, but that's okay. The video is probably NSFW-ish, but the funk is worth getting fired.

This is Why I'm Weird

Lately I have been drinking a ton of water because I'm permanently thirsty. I can drink four tall glasses of water and still feel like I need more. I was beginning to worry something must be horribly wrong with me (I'm a hypochondriac, after all) when I figured out today what's been missing:


Something about COLD water scratches whatever itch I've got...uh, in my throat.

Poor metaphors aside, I feel sated again! I can stop overhydrating at last! Is it just me? Anyone else need to have ice water?

No? Oh well.

In it to Win it.

Not enough people use that phrase these days. Don't worry, though. This guy does:



Let's lighten up from all the super morbid Saved by the Bell stuff for just a little bit and bring some fucking Jesus into our hearts.

And Slayer. Jesus and Slayer.

Thanks to my pal Matt Mowrer for sharing this on Facebook.


Life After the Bell: Stacey Carosi

Continuing my examination of what happened to the characters of Saved by the Bell once the lights turned off.

Before Tori Scott showed up to ruffle Zack Morris's perfectly bleached hair, Stacey Carosi was the ball-busting New York bitch making his perfect summer at Malibu Sands miserable. Until, of course, he managed to woo her in yet another of his "What the fuck? What happened to Kelly?!" affairs. Despite being a pretty major supporting character in a significant story arc, it's damn hard to find a decent picture of Stacey Carosi.

Upon her return to New York after her summer of hedonism at Malibu Sands, Stacey enrolled in college. Although she wanted to pursue Graphic Design at NYU, her father pressured her to pursue a Food Service Management certificate at LaGuardia Community College. She was initially rebellious, but after her father's heart attack she acquiesced.

While stuck in a middling school studying a field she didn't care about to take over a job she didn't want at a resort she never wanted to revisit, Stacey fell into hard drug use. Cocaine was her drug of choice, and Daddy's Malibu Sands slush fund kept the snow falling and the parties happening.

Eventually, as always happens, the coke stopped working the way it used to. It took more and more, and Stacey couldn't escape the crushing loneliness she had felt since Zack had never returned a single one of her letters. She fell into a deep depression, and her drug use transitioned from recreational to intentionally-self-destructive.

Then, one hot night in August, Stacey was gakked out of her mind at a party in a broken down parking garage in Red Hook. She met Eric, Jessie Spano's ex-stepbrother, when a mutual friend suggested they chat since they had both been to California. Eric and Stacey instantly connected on their singular obsession: the Bayside High class of '93. That and heroin.

Within a week they were living together. Meeting a kindred spirit who knew exactly who she was talking about allowed her to unleash all her vitriol, pain, and sexual frustration at once. Similarly, Eric sought release through Stacey's Malibu Sands photos. He had never found a way to turn his relationship with Jessie sexual before his father had been caught banging a secretary and lost his job and wife.

Eric bleached his hair and bought a cell phone while Stacey curled her hair and studied Thoreau. With the sort of motivation they inspired in one another, they surely could have accomplished something significant; sadly their efforts only went into scoring more drugs and satisfying their sexual desires with bizarre Zack/Jessie roleplay scenarios.

After shorting his connection on multiple occasions, Eric bought a tainted bag one fateful night. He and Stacey shot up their favored combination of heroin and methamphetamine, but felt nothing. They pushed off again and again, until Eric's heart gave out and stopped. He collapsed in a heap to the floor with a muffled groan, slamming his head on a nightstand as he fell.

Stacey, unable to move from the bed as her body slowly shut down, stared at the ceiling wide-eyed. It's possible she was just unable to blink, but as tears streamed down her face she mouthed the words, "I love you Zack."

Her eyes never closed again.


Life After the Bell: Tori Scott

Continuing my examination of what happened to the characters of Saved by the Bell once the lights turned off.

Tori was Zack's main adversary when she showed up inexplicably at Bayside to replace Jessie and Kelly. Despite being an obvious butch leather-lesbian, she wound up falling for the strange hormonal cocktail Morris exuded from his very pores and they dated briefly, at least until Zack's inability to properly munch box and unwillingness to be shown how led her to dump him and declare her fling with guys over.

Exiled from Bayside for rejecting the blonde bomber himself, Tori struggled to make ends meet and found herself in a biker commune near Venice. She took the name "Tore Up" and slowly built a cadre of lesbian biker soldiers as she combed the highways of California looking for trouble wherever she could find it. The road was her home, and moving crystal meth was her only source of income.

An unfortunate encounter with a particularly ruthless chapter of The Mongols left Tori battered and beaten. Her gang was decimated, and her road bitch, "Ann-Job," had been brutally murdered. Tori realized her life was empty, and that she was only on borrowed time as long as she continued down this path. A chance meeting with Mr. Belding at a gas station near Dockweiler convinced her to turn things around.

Using her keep from one last score, Tori purchased the burned wreckage of The Max, convinced to recapture the glory days of her half a semester at Bayside. However, while searching for a business partner to run the books, Tori met Violet Ann Bickerstaff. Bickerstaff, a fellow Bayside alum who had dated Screech briefly, had declared herself gay months after a brutal rape at the hands of A.C. Slater. Tori and Violet fell instantly in love, and decided women like them needed a safe haven in Bayside.

The remains of The Max were torn down and Bayside's first lesbian club, "Torn Violet," opened in its place. After surviving the first few lean years, the club now turns enough of a profit to allow Tori and Violet to spend their free time traveling California on Tori's Harley.

The two were married in a civil ceremony in Violet's parents' backyard just weeks before Prop 8 passed. They still live in Bayside and are staunch gay-rights activists.


Life After the Bell: Max

Continuing my examination of what happened to the characters of Saved by the Bell once the lights turned off.


Max, apparent owner of The Max, was the Class of '93's window into adulthood. When they needed advice they couldn't get from square ol' Mr. Belding or their negligent, non-existent parents, Max was there to offer a shoulder to cry on and sage advice to guide the gang through life.

Unfortunately, with the ultra-popular Zack Morris crew long gone for greener pastures, The Max languishes as kids search for the hip new hangout. The daytime teen hangout goes through several incarnations, notably "Max 'Q," a barbecue smokehouse that doesn't fare well in image-conscious, upper class Bayside.

After just six months, Max Q burns to the ground after a horrific kitchen fire. Despite several suspicious factors in the accident, detectives are unable to find any conclusive evidence and Max is freed of suspicion with $1.4 million in an insurance payout.

He promptly moves to Santa Cruz, where he lives to this day with his partner Darold and their seven cats, for whom he still sometimes performs magic tricks.


Life After the Bell: Mr. Belding

Saved by the Bell is one show that, for some reason, has maintained an iconic status and cult following. This is despite the fact that if you watch the show now as a non-teen it's pretty insulting dreck. Horrible laugh tracks, stale jokes, and an endless parade of ridiculous premises make it tough to suspend my disbelief the way I used to every weekday after school.

Some of the characters, though, were likable. And I always wondered how they fared once the freewheeling days at Bayside ended. I'll be profiling some of the more noteworthy characters.

Richard "Dick" Belding

Mr. Belding never seemed to be much of an administrator. His students regularly railroaded him, he would administer inappropriate hugs to faculty and kids alike, and he fell for impostors Zack hired to impersonate his parents on more than one occasion. He was, by all accounts, a functional retard, and the fact that the school segregated him in a tiny broomcloset-sized office away from the rest of the staff shows as much.

But deep down, ol' Dicky B was a good man. He loved his kids, he loved his school, and because of that he was able to put up with a lot more shit than most people. Also, he grew up named Dick with a brother named Rod. That will set the stage for an outlandish tolerance of abuse.

After the fabled class of 1993 left after roughly seven years in high school, Belding continued to dutifully administer to his responsibilities as principal, even taking on Screech Powers as some sort of assistant helping with the new class. 

Eventually, though, a brooding Zack Morris, upset at his own lot in life and pathologically unable to let go of high school, decided to get back at Mr. Belding with one last "scorched earth" prank. The results left Belding a registered Sex Offender and unable to continue his passion; managing teachers and giving out detentions.

Due to his undying affection for his students, he eventually forgave Zack. He now lives alone in the valley as his wife divorced him and his son (born in an elevator at the two-story high school during an earthquake) refuses to speak with him because of the allegations of child molestation. A brief attempt at writing his memoirs was undercut by his discovery of the blogosphere and a hollow sense of uselessness.

He works part-time at an Office Depot with a homemade badge that reads, "Educational Materials Expert." He hurriedly removes it every time his supervisor approaches. As his emails trying to catch up with former students garner fewer and fewer responses, he sinks into a deep depression. Finally, on a bright June day, he charters a small fishing boat for himself and heads off towards Catalina Island with an unusually heavy tackle box tied to his waist. 

The boat is recovered three days later, fully operational but with no one aboard.