Break Out Your Scramble Suits!

Be worried, America. For years a sinister threat has been creeping through our neighborhoods, waging war on all the good, decent, hardworking values we as Americans hold so dear to our hearts. There's true strife in this nation these days, and it's affecting some of our fellow Americans severely. Finally, Attorney General Eric Holder has stepped forward and done something dramatic: He's asking you, us, and every other red-blooded American to stand up and fight for what's right in this country.

By reporting each other for intellectual property offenses, like downloading music or torrenting movies.


I Probably Should Have Thought That Through

I play Dungeons & Dragons once a week with friends, because at the age of 29 I realized I had not been mercilessly ridiculed enough in my life. Anyway, it makes for a late night and since my wife is up at the ass crack of dawn every morning to get to culinary school, she's usually asleep when I get home. I tried sneaking into bed without waking her up last night when the following transpired:

Kat: "Hnh? Oh, hi honey."
Me: "Hey. Sorry for waking you."
Kat: "It's okay. Did you have fun?"
Me: "Yeah. I made Kristy suck my dick."
Kat: ..."What?"
Me: "In the game. My elf charmed her cleric because she wouldn't do her job and heal us. Then I made her suck my dick."
Kat: "Why would you do that to her? What the fuck game are you playing?"
Me: "It wasn't her, it was a cleric named Turnip."
Kat: ..."Whatever. Goodnight."
Me: "Turnip's a dude."
Me: "I guess that doesn't make it any better."
Me: "Okay. G'night."


A Quick Lesson in Business PR: Help Your Dying Employees

I have to offer some completely unsolicited advice to Time Warner Cable: when one of your employees slumps over dead, don't tell people to ignore it and go back to work.

Sadly, this advice comes too late for a customer service call center in Ohio, where 67-year-old Julia Nelson slumped over at her desk. When a co-worker realized she wasn't breathing and started performing CPR in an attempt to resuscitate Nelson or keep her alive until EMS could arrive, a supervisor told her to "get back on the phone and take care of customers." Another supervisor allegedly chimed in that the employee performing CPR could be sued if something went wrong.

Uh, what?


My Pitch for a Cooking Show

Forget all this Gordon Ramsay bullshit. I want a cooking show I can relate to. I don't want to see someone with more culinary talent and ability than I'll ever have perfecting recipes I'll never attempt; I want to see someone on a budget and under a time crunch.

Like, for example, a show could follow a guy as he tries to grill some salmon, runs out of propane while pre-heating the grill and has to dump the fish into a cast iron skillet. Then he simultaneously burns AND undercooks the fish all while undercooking the rice and scorching the roasted vegetables. He briefly considers just ordering a pizza before muttering, "Fuck it" and eating the sordid mess while downing a bottle of wine and berating himself for being such a pathetic failure of a human being that he can't even cook goddamn food for himself.

Oh, and he eats it on the couch while watching Discovery Channel.

Let me know if you're interested, Food Network! We can start filming as soon as you guys get to my apartment.


North to Alaska! Part 1

"You really need to come up there. It's beautiful." Every summer, before she leaves for fishing season, my wife and I have some variation of this conversation. It's pretty weird that she spends three months out of the year somewhere else I've never been or seen, and I have no real idea what her job is like. So this year we finally had things together enough financially and I had the vacation days to burn; I was headed to Alaska to visit Kat.

Except I wasn't even heading to "normal" Alaska. It was Southwest Alaska...


Sometimes Comedy Just Comes in the Mail

My wife spends her summers fishing for salmon in Alaska, which means for three months out of the year I'm in charge of things like making sure we don't go bankrupt. Part of that responsibility means I've got to get the mail to make sure any bills get paid before they start showing up with helpful reminders like "FINAL NOTICE" on the outside.

For any other human being, this isn't a chore. 

For some reason, though, I don't like getting the mail. I know, you're probably thinking something like, "How can you even have an OPINION on something as mundane as GETTING THE MAIL? Don't you just...do it?" Actually, no. I get anxiety over it. Believe me, I know how incredibly stupid that sounds. But for the majority of my mail-getting career, it's usually been bad news: report cards, disciplinary notes, credit card statements, restraining orders, you get the idea. Yes, I know in my logical mind that I'm 29 years old and it's just the goddamn mail, but for some reason that hangs on me. Luckily, this isn't about that. Because today I got possibly the most awesome piece of mail ever. Well, my wife did. It was addressed to her.


I Don't Need No Stinking Lanyard

I have to wear a badge to go to work. It's a stupid policy, born of bullshit corporate self-importance and lawyering, to try and protect us all from a crazed gunman or, worse, some kind of corporate espionage. If you don't know, I write jokes about iPods and laptops for a living. I work in a building full of people who build websites to sell shoes and jewelry. It's not exactly the fucking CIA, but you wouldn't know it from the pretense our corporate overlords put up...


Eatin' Shit. Eatin' Shit So Hard.

I don't know why, but I have this weird masochistic streak in me where I love, absolutely LOVE, to watch terrible, awful, horrible performances. Mainly stand-up, since that's what I'm really into, but I'll sit through a seven minute video of some shitty garage band mutilating a Metallica song just to soak up the awfulness. I subscribe to Daniel Songer AND James William Gregory Jr. on YouTube, for god's sake.

Sure, part of it is to laugh at their misfortune/misguided efforts, but it's not ALL mean-spirited. Part of it is the same appeal as watching a scary movie; it's that whole "what if that happened to me?" or, more accurately for my neurosis, "am I that bad on stage?" With that said, if you DON'T have my tolerance for awfulness, you'll probably get 30 seconds in and think, "this is terrible." STICK WITH IT! It's so worth it. Not only does this douchebag bomb (and I have every sympathy for a bombing comic, but when you're stealing Dom Irrera bits and your best comeback is "you're gay/fat," I have nothing for you), he gets schooled by literally every person in the room. All six of them.


Tragic Email Misunderstandings.

Sorry Mom. I know Mother's Day is coming up and all, but Ancestry.Com has ordered me to kill you.


Am I On Candid Camera or Something?

I went to the gym tonight for the first time in far too long and hit the elliptical machine, since it's currently pouring rain outside with the possibility of snow later tonight. The running gag about gyms is that it can be a great place to scope out women (maybe it's a great place to scope out guys too, I dunno. I've never scoped guys, but I imagine if you wanted to you could probably just walk up and ask them. Guys are pretty easy.) and of course, if you actually ARE a woman, that's pretty intimidating. No one wants to be ogled by perverts, especially when you're sweaty and wheezing. In my case, sweaty and wheezing covers like 80% of my day.


Out Customer-Servicing Customer Service

I worked Customer Service pretty much all through college. I worked the two worst possible variations of it, too: retail and customer service. You've heard it all before: people are fucking monsters in general, and people entitled by the mantra "the customer is always right" will make you pray for genocide. I actually didn't hate my job at the little video store. Yes we had shit heads who would try to steal Xboxes or the donation can for the guy who had Hodgkin's Lymphoma and shit. But for everyone one of them there were two or three friendly, amiable people who would come in and shoot the breeze or bring us dinner when we were forced to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

I learned pretty quickly how to throw on my retail face; that overly-joyed-to-see-you smile and spunky lilt in my speech. "Heeeeey!" I would beam happily at some shlub renting 14 video games and the same copy of Happy Gilmore he rented every weekend, "How ya doin' this weekend guy? Big plans?" So while I don't use my knowledge of how shitty retail can be to give employees carte blanche for their behavior, I do empathize and cut them some slack whenever possible. I also sincerely appreciate it when people in those positions take the time and make the effort to be nice and courteous, because I know I'm just another dude in a long line of people preventing them from clocking out.

Sometimes, though, they just cry out to be fucked with.

I went down to Starbucks in the building where I work to get a late afternoon caffeine boost. A super eager college-aged kid with a tight jew-fro of brown curls atop his head greeted me. I gave him my order, mentioning that one of the other super-eager girls behind the counter had already started making it while I was in line.

"Wow," he smiled, "that's like...the perfect way to order."


"I mean you gave me the size, the drink, the extras, and you mentioned she already started making it. That was perfect."

"Oh, well thanks. I'm just lookin' out for you, man." He paused and seemed to consider this.
"Well, I want to look out for you too." My awkwardness meter started creeping up. "How's your day going?" I hate questions like this. He doesn't care. He doesn't know me. If he DID care it would be really creepy. Why not just say "have a nice day" or something? I always struggle to sound interested or receptive to shit like this. I decided to fight awkward retail conversation fire with fire.

"It's going pretty good so far. Would you want to have dinner?" His eyes went wider than the mouth of my grande nonfat no whip mocha. I felt so bad I wanted to stop everything, but I was committed. 

"Uh, well, I mean I would, but I don't think it's appropriate. Or something."

"Alright. Have a good day man." I dumped my change into the tip jar and walked over to pick up my coffee, which of course was not ready and thus I spent another three minutes or so six feet away from a beet-faced young man who had just shot me down as he tried to pretend I was not creeping him the fuck out while helping his other customers. Eventually I got my drink and left, declaring myself the victor of some weird battle of wills only I had decided we were fighting. 

One of these days that joke is going to really backfire on me and I'm going to end up having the most awkward dinner conversation ever with a 20-year-old college guy.

So This Happened Last Night

I went to an open mic at a place I've never been to and paid my $5 to get in. They hand you a little generic raffle ticket just to show you've paid, except because I walked in right after a woman the ticket guy assumed I was with her and handed her two tickets. "Oh sorry," he said, "just get it from her."

Now I don't know why he refused to just give me another ticket. They weren't actually counting them, the numbers meant nothing, and based on the crowd I later encountered he could've given me a hundred tickets and it wouldn't have mattered. But I was new and didn't know the score and figured if I didn't have a ticket on me that would be the one time a bouncer or someone would ask if I had paid and I didn't want to have to deal with any bullshit.

So I tap the woman, a tall thin punk-hipster-type wearing a leopard skin coat with her head shaved except for overly-long bangs that are bleached blonde, on the shoulder.

"Hey, sorry," I say in my nice voice, "Can I get my ticket from you? He accidentally gave you both of ours." I feel like that's a pretty reasonable request. Nothing too extraordinary, and it requires no further interaction between us should you decide you don't want it. Just hand me the ticket, you don't even have to say anything really, and move on with your life.

But no. That's not how she decided to play it.

"What do you need it for, your fucking scrap book?" Her words stab me as she stuffs the crumpled raffle ticket into my hand. It's such a bizarre and unexpected display of aggression that I blank.

"Yes." I smile dumbly and walk away, cursing under my breath. "Yes?" Fucking "Yes?!" What I should've said was "Actually, you self-righteous bitch, I need it because it proves that I paid. Now once I go down here and see that it's pretty casual I won't worry about tickets in the future but for right now it's my first night here and I don't want to get hassled about NOT having a ticket so shut the fuck up and just give me the fucking ticket like a normal human being would."

The dude she was with went up on stage and fucking bombed. Serves him right for telling shitty jokes about Barry Bonds. They also left immediately after his set without listening to the other comics, further cementing their status as complete shit heads.

Other than that it was nice.


Life After the Bell: Samuel "Screech" Powers

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

People have commented that my series on Saved by the Bell Characters has been pretty morbid, and to be honest I have to agree. I'm not sure why they turn out that way either. It's not like they're well-researched, re-written manuscripts. The creative process tends to be, "Oh shit, I haven't updated my blog in like three months. Let's see, uh, I can do another Life after the Bell. Fuck it." So obviously there is some weird darkness yearning to crawl out of my mind and inflict itself on the world, but if you know me you probably knew that already. The point I want to get across with this little expository paragraph is that nothing I could come up with would ever match the horror that is life for Dustin Diamond, aka the dude who played Screech. Guy is a straight train wreck and, from the personality he projects whenever a camera's on him, a complete shit head deserving of his misfortune. Anyway, this isn't about him. It's about Screech. But just know that Dustin Diamond sucks, and feel free to research that further on your own time...


Fuck You, Atomic Tom

Some shithead hipster band from Brooklyn is getting buzz along the interwebs today because they performed an "impromptu" concert on a New York City subway using only their iPhones. You can see it right here:

See, their instruments got stolen so they had to improvise using their smartphones to play their hit single from the highly-anticipated album coming soon to blah blah whatever no one gives a shit.

I can't put into words how much I fucking hate these dicks. To be clear: I'd never heard of them until this video. I'll never hear of them again once the hatred from watching these shit heads circlejerk each other to frothy consummation. But they are a shining example of everything wrong with people in the world today.

I'm sorry your instruments were stolen, Atomic Tom. That sucks. But fuck you for subjecting the entire subway car to your talentless, whiny hipster bullshit because of it. Those people are just trying to get somewhere. They sure as fuck didn't ask you twats to start that shit and unfortunately most people are just too polite to tell a self-indulgent asshole to shut the fuck up when he's shouting and playing drums on his iPhone.

I don't care if you DID bring all six of your fans onto the subway. That's fucked up, and you owe every right-thinking individual in that car a fucking apology. I cannot fucking stand pricks like these who are so fucking self-absorbed that they've moved from navel gazing to full on self-fellation.

You are not special. Your music is not special. If you want to put on a concert and charge people to listen that's your business, but stop insisting the public has to tolerate you desperately trying to make a spectacle of yourself. 

And for god's sake, playing music on an iPhone isn't "creative" or "innovative." It's what over-privileged white twats do because they don't have the soul to make decent music.


Life After the Bell: Lisa Turtle

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

Ah, little Lisa Turtle, Fashionista of Bayside and token minority. When she wasn't fighting off the unwanted advances of Screech Powers, she was showing off her money with "totally outrageous" outfits not seen outside a San Bernadino mall in the late '80s. She was, aside from Slater, the Bell gang's token minority, but Zack and his pals were super progressive so they didn't give her too hard a time about it. There was one awkward point when Kelly let the N word slip, but Lisa was cool about it. She just explained that they might be close enough to call each other that, but Kelly could never call her that. She forgave her because Kelly was originally from Iowa or something.

Lisa popped up in Vegas for Kelly and Zack's wedding, serving as the Maid of Honor since Kelly had long since alienated everyone around her with her whiny college bullshit. She fell for a smooth-chested hitch-hiking magician (oh, PS, that's the stuff I'm not making up yet. This shit was seriously in the wedding episode.), but after a tawdry Vegas fling she just felt dirty, and used. Lisa used to fantasize about dominating the catwalks of LA, New York, and Paris with her fashion creations, but her taste couldn't evolve with the times. She studied Fashion Design briefly before dropping out of school out of frustration at the lack of interest in bedazzled denim and huge, dangling, plastic jewelry. She was plucky, though; she convinced herself she could do it on her own.

With her mother co-signing, Lisa opened "Fabtastic Fashions" in the Bayside Mall. The store sold her own designs exclusively, but aside from a few pairs of jeans Screech bought in the misguided belief he had seen her wearing them earlier, she wasn't able to move much merchandise. It seemed the public too, had passed her fashion sense by. 

Lisa bounced around between low-wage retail jobs longing for acceptance. She felt stuck squarely in the middle; she had completely alienated herself from the black community, but to her friends she was always "my black girlfriend." She re-enrolled in community college with a new major: African American History. She learned about her culture, her roots, and her people's struggle. She briefly dated a Muslim named Shabazz, but found his militant stance on establishing black identity in the white hegemony too confrontational. She read Maya Angelou.

But deep down, she still didn't get it. The whole time she was "getting in touch with her roots" she felt like she was betraying who she had been. She nearly threw up the first time she tried to eat collard greens. It just wasn't who she was. Lisa fell into a deep depression and rarely left the house, save to restock her chocolate bon bons. She ballooned to 223 pounds. Her extra-high-waist jeans now barely contained the large gut she stuffed into them each morning. Her denim jackets no longer fit, and were replaced with sweaters. Sweaters with turtles on them.

She took a job at the Wal-Mart in the Valley because she had to; her mother may have been a rich physician but she wasn't going to continue supporting her deadbeat daughter. It was there that Lisa met Frank, a System Administrator who was buying a 12-pack of Mountain Dew and a Hot Rod Magazine. Frank was a bashful, nebbish, balding man in his late 30s. He had only been with a woman once, and his shyness disarmed Lisa's fear of rejection. They began a slow, lengthy courtship. Frank supported Lisa's fashion dreams, and encouraged her to "jump on the retro thing" and begin again. With Frank's salary taking care of the bills Lisa saved her Wal-Mart money and began creating custom '80s fashions to sell on her Etsy store. She makes a pittance and is lucky to sell three items a month, but the work gives her an amazing sense of accomplishment and she's regained her high hopes of one day being a name in the fashion business, although now instead of New York and Paris she dreams of "Lady Lisa" turtle sweaters carried in Wal-Marts across the country.

Lisa and Frank live in a modest but comfortable two bedroom home they rent in the Valley. Lisa still beams with pride at remembering what Frank was buying when they first met, and her wincing is barely noticeable when Frank launches into one of his "jungle fever" jokes. Because of their incredibly conservative world views, Frank's parents have yet to meet Lisa and do not know that the two have lived together for the last seven years. Lisa and Frank have had sexual intercourse only twice; partly because of Lisa's low self esteem and body image issues due to her weight gain, but also because Frank has poor hygiene and an incredibly pungent crotch which sets off her gag reflex. Because of his sexual inexperience, he's okay with the two of them "taking it slow," although some day he would like to have "little mixed babies."

Aside from an occasional email or Facebook message from Kelly Kapowski, she has little contact with the Bayside gang. She does miss the heady days of dances, bands, and teen gossip lines, but her turtle sweaters keep her more than busy enough.


Maybe It Heard Us?

Ever since Kat and I got together one thing has never changed: Kat's undying hatred of our car. I bought the Camaro in 2004 after my last car literally caught fire, lost its brakes, and hit one of those little boxes you put 75 cents in to get a newspaper.

And at the time, being 23, it was awesome. I had a sports car! With T-TOPS! Sure, the first week I had it I spun it around in the snow on the highway, but that was a very minor and temporary, albeit terrifying, setback. For eight months out of the year it was awesome.

But when Kat and I started living together it quickly became apparent it wasn't the most practical vehicle. The doors are roughly eight feet long and heavy, making getting in and out of parking spaces in LA and Seattle damn near impossible (oddly, we didn't have much trouble with it in St. Louis). The back seats are tiny and uncomfortable for taking anyone else along, not to mention inaccessible without help. And then there's the whole "a slight misting of rain turns it into an uncontrollable mass of steel hurling sideways down the road" thing.

So she's been pushing for a new car pretty much from Day 1, and now that we're two years into this marriage we might have our finances together to entertain such an idea. Kat dove into researching, we test drove a few things, and we felt ready to make a move.

Then we talked ourselves out of it.

With the holidays come "UNBELIEVABLE ONCE-A-YEAR SALES!" and we wanted to take advantage. Unfortunately, with our holiday travels and my own hemming and hawing over whether or not we were ready to buy a car, we had one day to actually pull the trigger. We decided to wait rather than rush into such a huge financial commitment.

The car, apparently, had other ideas.

When we got back from St. Louis I started the car to defrost it. As water started to fall on my head I suddenly realized that every window on the car was frozen over. On the inside. How the hell does that even happen? Kat and I drove home constantly wiping frost and water off the inside of the windshield so I could see. I suspected it might have had something to do with the driver side window being broken; we'd paid about $300 to get the motor fixed and it still wasn't working, but it seemed to be rolled up all the way.

I was taking Kat to the airport the day after the sales ended when she noted, "There's a lot of frost on the hill this morning." As if on cue, the back wheel on her side lost traction and we immediately veered towards oncoming traffic. I screamed, but not my normal "Oh god we're going to die" kind of scream. It came out more like an annoyed yell. Not "AUUUUUUUUUUGHH," but more like "Aaaaaaeeeehhhh."

I pumped the brakes, steered into the skid, and managed to convert a powerslide towards a minivan into a severe U-turn, putting us in the suicide lane in the center of the road. Except now we were facing downhill.

Kat thought I did it on purpose.

I guess the combination of the timing with her frost comment, my half-hearted scream, and the fact that it wound up looking somewhat harmless led her to believe I thought that'd be a great joke. The weird thing was while it was happening, I wasn't that scared. I have semi-regular dreams where I'll be doing something mundane like driving to work or taking the trash out and something horrible happens and I'm killed. So as soon as the skid started my mind actually clicked over to, "I guess I'm dreaming. This'll take care of itself." It wasn't until afterwards that I started freaking out about just how badly it could've gone.

"Okay, maybe we need to reconsider the new car thing."

Flash forward a week and Kat and I were headed out to grab a bite to eat. Kat stopped and stared with her door open. "Uh, what the hell is this?"


"There's a pond in our car."

And she was right. Behind the passenger seat was a small pool of standing water. No idea where it came from. There wasn't a water bottle under the seat, the window was up (and the car was in the garage), and I don't think enough water was left on the windows from the inner freeze to do that. Besides if it had, wouldn't it have been wet all over? It was only behind her seat.

So I sopped that up with some towels, cleaned off the windows, and tonight I'll head home to see if maybe some kind of interdimensional portal has opened up in my trunk and spawned a Cthulhu or something.