Monday, August 12, 2013

blurring the lines

These days, if anyone is bold enough to ask me how old I am, I simply reply, "Old enough to complain about today's music." Or 35, whichever is easier.

I've officially become "that person." The grumpy adult who complains about what kids these days are into. Growing up, you observe this behavior in your parents and think, "That'll never happen to me. I'm going to make a point to be cool when I get old." Who was I kidding? I was never cool when I was young.

And then Justin Bieber happens. Miley Cyrus happens. Now you're thinking instead, "If staying relevant means listening to this, then fuck it. I'd rather be out of touch."

I mean, who is Drake and why does he think he can get away with using just one name like Prince or Madonna or Sting? You haven't earned that yet, buddy. Come back when you've...um...I honestly don't know what it is that you do.

I wasn't even aware of a song called "Blurred Lines" until I started seeing the parodies, which of course I didn't get at first because I wasn't in on the joke. And then I finally heard the "song of the summer." Needless to say, I was underwhelmed. Is this Robin Thicke's contribution to our culture? At least his dad gave us "Growing Pains."

I was at a party last weekend and The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" came on, which elicited a reaction from the people I was talking to. I had to say I didn't recognize it, which was true. Apparently, it was the "Call Me Maybe" of a few summers ago. I had no idea. For a moment, I felt tragically uncool, until I realized I didn't much like the song anyway, and therefore I hadn't actually missed anything.

Then it hit me that being up on current music has absolutely zero bearing on how I live my life. In my case, ignorance of the likes of Ke$ha and One Direction is truly bliss. Now excuse me while I go put on the Stones.

Monday, July 29, 2013

mastery of bird physics, level expert

A bird pooped on the front passenger seat of my car this week. You're probably thinking, "That sucks, but it's hardly remarkable."  And it wouldn't be...except that my windows were rolled up.

Not all the way, mind you. They were cracked about an inch--certainly not enough for a bird to get inside my car, unless it was a contortionist or had some sort of mutant teleporting capability. *Bampf* and it's in, like Nightcrawler.

So, barring those unlikely attributes, this bird logically must have unloaded mid-flight with just the right trajectory to get through that inch opening and nowhere else on my car. Note diagram below:





Now, it could be that this was all just an amazing coincidence. However, if this bird willfully targeted me, he had not only a Stephen Hawking-level understanding of physics, but a kung-fu mastery over his own bowels, and we should be recruiting him for NASA immediately.

Monday, April 15, 2013

news item

North Korea Backs Down to Avoid Conflict with U.S. "Gun Nuts"

PYONGYANG -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un backpedaled on threats to attack the United States this week, citing the recent debate in America over gun control as a leading factor in the decision. Said a high-ranking official for the Asian nation, "After weeks of making plans to invade, we've come to realize that we simply underestimated the resistance our troops would encounter from ridiculously overarmed gun nuts."

The official then went on to say, "We had seen the statistics on gun violence and gun ownership in America and just assumed the numbers were inflated for propaganda purposes, like we've done reporting the size and prowess of our military. But go and threaten to enact sensible restrictions that 85% of the population supports and these guys just come out of the woodwork. We had no idea so many of your citizens were armed to the teeth just for hunting and self-defense purposes. The last thing the glorious nation of North Korea wants to do is land an invading force on American soil only to be met by a sea of rednecks with AR-15s."

The announcement was a victory for gun rights activists who have made a lot of hay arguing the importance of gun ownership as a deterrent against any force that would threaten our freedoms, including threats made by foreign powers.

Monday, April 8, 2013

simmer down, now

Kim Jong-un, you so crazy.

No, look--I get it. Your father left some big crazy shoes to fill, and now you feel like you have to look like a big man so your people will respect your authority. That's all well and good, but you're seriously treading some dangerous waters right now, getting all up in America's grill the way you are.

You have a nuclear program? Son, we invented nukes. If you have any doubts about the shitstorm we could rain down on you, just ask the survivors of Hiroshima or Nagasaki...if you can find any. You think North Korea is depressing now? Wait until it's a smoldering pile of rubble. Or, you know, you could just chillax for five minutes.

You say we're your arch nemesis? I'm sorry, who are you again? We had a real arch nemesis for a while during the Cold War. Remind me again--who won that thing? Oh, right. We did. And I hate to break it to you, but you're no Soviet Union.

And didn't we do this already in the 1950s? They made a TV show about it with wise-cracking medics. We got Alan Alda out of the deal. What more could we hope to gain?

If you think next-door-neighbor and last bastion of Communism China is going to have your back on this, think again. They want us to be around to pay back the money we owe them. Even Castro is cocking a bemused eyebrow at you. You're in way over your head, and there's no shame in admitting that. Just fess up that all this saber-rattling was a big misunderstanding and we can go back to pretending you don't exist. Trust me, that's the best case scenario for you--Obama has been really drone-happy lately.

Monday, March 25, 2013

the six dumbest characters in a galaxy far, far away


This was a piece I originally pitched to Cracked.com. They shot it down because apparently only their oh-so-wonderful, magnificent, glorious staff writers get to do editorials. Their loss is your incredible gain, particularly now that Star Wars is ramping up via Disney to potentially be a thing again.

Let’s face it: Just because you’re technologically advanced enough to clone Boba Fett’s dad, make the speed of light your bitch, or give Billy Dee Williams a purpose besides shilling for Colt 45 doesn’t necessarily mean you have the street smarts you need to thrive in a galaxy far, far away. Today, we look at the characters of Star Wars with lapses of intelligence so staggering, I’m surprised they can muster enough motor function to walk upright like a proper caveman.

Shmi Skywalker

Although Anakin Skywalker did ultimately grow up to be douchier than a Massengill factory, he was actually a sweet (albeit annoying) kid. So it’s perfectly understandable that his mother wouldn’t want him racing pods all over Tattooine and ending up pancaked on a canyon wall in a heap of flaming, twisted metal. Although I hear George Lucas was planning to add that scene the next time the movies were re-released.

So when Anakin volunteers to get behind the stick (or whatever you drive a racing pod with) to help a few outlanders he literally just met, Shmi’s chagrin is palpable. Which is why it’s somewhat surprising that, mere seconds later, she completely reverses her position. It’s almost as if her keen maternal instincts are overridden in a sudden moment of empathy or sloppy writing.

Yoda

In his twilight years, Yoda would instruct Luke in the ways of the Force, tempering the youthful Skywalker’s impatience and impertinence with a wisdom and restraint that came from (presumably) experience. But during the last days of the Republic, as the galaxy found itself facing an emerging Sith threat, Yoda was more clueless than a 1990s Alicia Silverstone vehicle.

Forget for a moment that Yoda has a speech impediment so glaring he would’ve automatically been relegated to the finest special ed classes the Dagobah Unified School District had to offer. He senses right away that something is off about Anakin when Qui Gon presents him before the Jedi Council. But rather than stick to his guns when Obi-Wan insists on training him, he just kind of shrugs his shoulders and says, “Boys, boys they will be.”

And when it comes time to hide Luke and Leia from Vader, whose chances of ever being conferred a “World’s Greatest Dad” mug are quickly diminishing by that point, Yoda sends Luke to stay with his uncle—Vader’s stepbrother. I guess he’s counting on the dark lord never wanting to swing by the old homestead one of these years for Space Thanksgiving.

The Jedi Council, in general

If Yoda was the only bonehead on the Jedi Council, there might have been some hope for these guys. Unfortunately, they were all completely asleep at the wheel as Palpatine engineered a clone army behind everyone’s backs, somehow convinced them that said army was in no way suspicious, and then had the clones do an abrupt about-face, staging the most spectacular coup d’├ętat in galactic history.

All of that could have been avoided if a practicing Sith lord in their midst would’ve triggered just one of their spider senses. But I guess maybe that’s expecting too much of the most attuned Force-users in the whole frigging galaxy. With that level of obliviousness, I imagine there probably were credits to be made selling their e-mail addresses to a “Nigerian Prince.”

And that whole prophecy about the Chosen One bringing balance to the Force? I guess they just forgot that there was a Dark Side to the Force. And, you know, what the word “balance” means.

Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader

I get it. I mean, what guy living hasn’t done something dumb because of a girl? But Anakin really takes the taco. When he has a premonition that Padme will die in childbirth, he’ll do anything to keep that from happening. “Anything,” in this case, means selling out his principles, trying to kill his best friend, and aiding and abetting his galaxy’s equivalent of Hitler. But, in the end, Padme dies anyway when she succumbs to an incurable case of irony. The Emperor then tells Gullible McSucker that he was directly responsible for her death, prompting him to scream “Noooooo!” as he senses a gaping plot hole in the Force.

Let’s not forget that Vader was totally planning to stab the Emperor in the back if he could’ve gotten Padme to team up with him—a strategy that he would try to employ years later with Luke. Luke, of course, doesn’t go for it either, deciding instead to fight the evilest guy in the galaxy on his own terms—by not fighting him—so it’s really no surprise when the Emperor just up and starts electrocuting the young Jedi. Vader, at this point, feels pity for Luke, but instead of blocking the Force lightning with his lightsaber like he saw Mace Windu do years earlier, he decides the best way to stop his boss from zapping the shit of out his kid is to pick him up one-handed and slam-dunk him down an improbably convenient exhaust shaft, conducting a lethal amount of electricity in the process. Or he could’ve just declined when the Emperor asked him to participate in “take your son to work day.”

Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine

When Senator Palpatine wasn’t actively representing the people of his home planet of Naboo or moonlighting as a robe model, he was conspiring to seize power and rule the galaxy with an iron fist. So he devised a plan so diabolically genius that it relied on complete and utter failure literally every step of the way if it ever had any chance of success in the long run. Let’s work from the end result backwards:

At the end of The Phantom Menace, Palpatine supplants Valorum as Chancellor when the latter can no longer provide the leadership needed to end the crisis on Naboo or convince anyone to kneel before Zod. (It's Terrance Effing Stamp, gang!) But ousting him was dependent on being able to manipulate Queen Amidala to call for the vote of no confidence. You know, the same Queen Amidala that should’ve been captured in the invasion Palpatine orchestrated or, barring that, by Darth Maul. Had Queen Amidala been successfully caught, she never would’ve gone to Coruscant and appeared before the Senate. She also would’ve been forced to sign a treaty legitimizing the Trade Federation’s occupation of her planet, thereby prematurely ending the crisis our friend the Senator drummed up to seize power. But even if Palpatine was counting on Amidala escaping capture multiple times, she was going to need the help of her Jedi companions to do so. You know, the same Jedi that Palpatine, as Darth Sidious, ordered the Trade Federation to kill in the first 5 min. of the movie.

The master stroke of Operation Epic Fail isn’t revealed, however, until Revenge of the Sith, when the now Chancellor hints to Anakin that he used the Force to conceive him, undoubtedly hoping that a kid would fix his marriage to Mrs. Palpatine. But Anakin would never have been discovered, freed, and trained as a Jedi—in short, never arrived at that moment where he became the Emperor’s apprentice—if any of the people operating on Sidious’ orders in Episode I had been competent enough to do a single goddamned thing he told them to do.

But before you go thinking that’s possibly the worst plan in history of the galaxy,
consider the hare-brained scheme Palpatine hatched later on to try to turn Luke to the Dark Side. It went something like this:

Emperor: Hey, I know you’re really super invested in being a good, honorable Jedi and all that, but is there any way I can convince you to forsake everything you believe in and do a complete 180 on your principles?
Luke: Um…no.
Emperor: Shit. All I’ve got for a plan B is my wicked awesome lightning fingers.

And the number one dumbest character in Star Wars?

Admiral Ozzel

Seriously? Coming out of light speed so close to the system? What a fucking ‘tard.

Monday, March 18, 2013

decade

This week, I'll have been living in Los Angeles for 10 years. Ever the purveyor of knowledge, I thought I should share with you, gentle readers, the lessons I've gleaned from my decade as an Angelino:

1) I really should've learned Spanish at some point. 

I never took Spanish in school, although in retrospect, I probably should have. No, as I explained a few weeks ago, I took Latin and then German, both of which are now just going to waste since the only way that combo could've proved useful was while Benedict was still Pope.

I've actually tried on numerous occasions to teach myself. I'm the proud owner of a used Spanish textbook which I "borrowed" from my high school's Spanish teacher. I've also gotten my hands on Spanish For Dummies and downloaded some conversational language lab sessions. I even tried watching one of my favorite movies, The Empire Strikes Back, with the Spanish track on and English subtitles, but they talked too fast for me to single out any words--all  I recognized was gracias, si, and um...Luke. (In case you were wondering, "tauntaun" is still "tauntaun" in any language, and they subtitled the snow monster roaring as "Rrraaah!" in case you weren't able to pick up on the nuances of the puppeteer's performance.)

Nothing has worked for me so far. I think my only other option is Rosetta Stone. Or, you know, all those immigrants could learn our language if they're going to come here and take all our low-paying jobs that we don't want to do.

2) An hour drive isn't that far.

My college was about an 80 min. drive from my parent's house, and that seemed too far away and too devoid of co-eds to come home every weekend. On a bad day in L.A., I could spend that long just driving to work or, on a really bad day, watching the latest Adam Sandler movie. Seriously, what happened to that guy after The Wedding Singer?

Thankfully, in average traffic, you can usually get where you're going in L.A. in an hour or less, although the show 24 would have had you believe it's much quicker. I guess they couldn't really have Jack Bauer say, "I'm taking the 405--see you in two episodes." So, in the past 10 years, the "hour drive" has become my new benchmark for a reasonable amount of time on the road. But any more than that? Good luck ever getting me to come visit you in Anaheim.

3) People here are the same as people everywhere else.

I was warned moving to the "land of fruits and nuts" that people here would be flaky, weird, unscrupulous, cutthroat, self-absorbed, or some combination thereof. My response was, "As opposed to...where, exactly?" Yes, you meet those kinds of people here--with the same frequency you would meet them anywhere. You also meet people who are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, and many other adjectives befitting a Boy Scout. (See what I did there?)

The only real difference is a slightly above-average preoccupation with the entertainment industry...but I live for that shit--that's why I moved here!

Okay, okay: There are also a lot of people here into kooky things like raw food and hot Pilates. (Fun fact: Pilates was named after Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect who sentenced Jesus to crucifixion. If you've ever done Pilates, you'll understand why.)

In summary, if you want to to know what I've really learned in 10 years here, the answer is: not very much.

Monday, March 11, 2013

bees do it

The word "drone" has been tossed around a lot lately and, for once, not as something my history professors did. Now it's a commonly used military euphemism for a remote-controlled killer robot, something which I suppose I can see having a negative connotation after years of propaganda by the Terminator franchise.

Some people, like Senator Rand Paul (no relation to Ayn Rand...that we know of), feel very strongly that the Obama administration's drone program is an overreach of executive power. In fact, Paul felt so strongly about it, he filibustered John Brennan's nomination to CIA director on Wednesday, ensuring that the Senate upheld its solemn, patriotic tradition of never getting anything accomplished.

I get it. Drones are scary. And we don't know much about them. I think it's time America got some answers. What are their likes and dislikes? Who was their biggest influence in high school? What are they most afraid of? Who are they rooting for on this season of "The Bachelor?" Is one targeting me right now?

And what exactly is Obama's justification for this drone program? We should demand a better response than, "Congress can kiss my half-black ass." (I'm pretty sure that's a direct quote, by the way.)

It looks like this will remain a "hot button" issue in the days ahead, primarily because that's the Air Force euphemism for what they press to launch a drone strike.

Monday, March 4, 2013

five things you need to stop sharing on facebook

Sharing is good. We learned it in Kindergarten...unless you went to a Kindergarten taught by Ayn Rand, in which case you learned rational self-interest instead: "You didn't bring enough gum for the whole class? Good for you."

The Internet has made it possible to share on a much larger scale than ever before. Because we forget this fact, or perhaps are intoxicated by it, we've developed a tendency to overshare when it comes to social media. So I've compiled the following list of things that, for the love of God, I wish people would stop sharing on Facebook.

1) amazing claims that a quick visit to snopes reveals to be false

Whether it's what Facebook or Instagram can do legally do with your personal photos or the latest celebrity that isn't getting enough media coverage for a saying or doing something shocking(ly political), if it makes you do a double take and your news feed is the only place you're hearing about it, that should be a red flag that it doesn't pass the smell test of mixed metaphors.

I can understand being so gullible in the early days of the Internet, before everyone knew about Nigerian princes and $250 cookie recipes. Now, there's just no excuse for not going to snopes.com first. (Protip: As of 12:00 a.m. this morning, laziness still does not qualify as an excuse.) A friend recently re-posted an article full of half-truths and prefaced it by saying, "I'm not sure if this is true, but it's interesting." Obama riding a unicorn to Mars, shouting as he goes, "Vladimir Putin wears women's panties!" is interesting, but I'd rather you not pass it off as potentially factual when it's as simple as visiting one website beforehand to not be part of the problem.

Some people will say, "Snopes isn't the last word in what's factual." Fuck those people--it's better than nothing. You don't like Snopes? Then at least get one independent confirmation from a reliable source. If journalists aren't above doing it, you aren't either. Or, you know, you could just err on the side of caution and not share something that seems dubious.

2) "brainteasers" that anyone with average intelligence can easily do

This one takes many forms, from counting triangles to spotting mistakes to naming cities without a certain letter in them. Often times, there's a tantalizing percentile given that you will supposedly be in the upper echelon of if you can answer. These puzzles might be challenging if you're Corky from "Life Goes On," but if your IQ is at least as high as your body temperature, then you should be able to unravel most of these riddles in under 10 seconds, and exactly no one will be impressed.

3) Harlem shake videos

Stop. Just stop.

4) the false dilemma guilt trip

"If you're not afraid to say you love Jesus, you'll re-post this as your status." Really? I will? You can predict the future? This type of "share pollution" posits a false dichotomy in which your unwillingness to re-post someone's lame, misguided idea of a badge of honor somehow equates to opposition to the thing itself. "Share this if you hate cancer." No, I'm not going to share it, because obviously I looooove cancer. Or, you know, maybe I just have better things to do than try to make everyone else's day a little more inane.

5) how great your lunch, view, weather, or significant other is

Just because life is all sunshine and puppy dogs for you, it doesn't mean you have to rub it in. Studies have shown that there is a real medical thingy called Social Media Depression, whereby people tend to compare the quality of their lives against what they see their friends posting. And unless their friends are totally emo, they're probably just posting the positive stuff, which creates an unrealistic impression that everyone you know online is better at life than you are, which leads to a lot of Zoloft. By bragging about what a swell life you lead, you're driving your friends to melancholy, making you, in fact, a horrible, horrible person. (See also #3.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ohio

Nobody is from Los Angeles. Everyone comes here from someplace else. Oh sure, a handful of people claim to be native-born, but I think that's just because it would be too incredible to admit they were really delivered here by unicorns from Narnia.

So, at any type of social gathering in L.A., whenever you're meeting new people, the inevitable question always comes up (hence its inevitability): "Where are you from?" I hate that question.

It's not because I'm not ashamed of whence I hail or anything like that. It's just that talking about my lackluster origin is tedious to me, and as soon as I tell people I'm originally from Ohio, the next thing out of their mouths is invariably, "Oh really? Where in Ohio?" Like they're fucking Rand McNally or something. Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were an expert in Midwestern geography all of a sudden.

They're probably expecting that I'm going to name a big city in Ohio that they've heard of, like Cleveland, or...um...er...I'm sure there's more, just give me a minute...

No, I'm from a small town most people wouldn't know.  I tell them as much, hoping they won't feel the need to keep pressing, but that only seems to make them more insistent. So I say, "I'm from Chillicothe," which typically elicits a blank stare and maybe one of those Scooby-Doo "Ar-huh?" sounds that's like confusion and a question all rolled into one utterance. Then they admit that they've never heard of Chillicothe, to which I reply, "No shit. I tried to tell you."

"What kind of name is Chillicothe?"they might ask. So then I explain it's Native American. (Or is it "Indian" again? I think they actually prefer Indian now, presumably just to screw with us for taking their land, killing the bison, and giving them all syphilis. They're so petty like that. What was I talking about? Oh, right.) The name Chillicothe is an Indian term. It means "capital city," but whenever people ask, I like to tell them it means, "Thanks for wasting my time. Couldn't you tell I wasn't interested in getting into this whole big thing with you?"

That's usually followed by the question I really hate: "I have an aunt in Dayton. Is that anywhere close to Dayton?" No, it's not close to Dayton, you knuckle-dragging imbecile. I mean, maybe in cosmic terms, but no. Ohio is kind of a big state. It takes 3-4 hours to drive from one side to the other.

I swear, I think people don't have any sense for distances. I was at a party not long ago and I happened to say that in all my years living in Los Angeles, I'd never made it up to San Francisco. The guy I was talking to was flabbergasted. He acted like the city of Rice-a-Roni was right in my back yard, when really it's closer to a six hour drive. You might as well chastise a person living in Tallahassee, Florida for never visiting West Virginia. "Are you kidding? It's right there, just halfway up the length of the entire coast."

When I meet people at parties and ask them where they're from, if they say any state other than Ohio, I just let it go and don't probe any deeper. You know why? Because I don't fucking care. All we're doing is making small talk. If I could skip the whole rigmarole, I would. Maybe I'll just start telling people I'm from Narnia, and I came here on a unicorn.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pope? Nope.

In case you've been living inside a cave, the big news out of this past week is that Pope Benedict plans to step down at the end of the month, citing health reasons, making him the first Pope ever to give up being Pope for Lent. Also, if you've been living inside a cave, how do you have the Internet?

This is disappointing. I took Latin in high school and German in college so, there for a minute, I thought my entire life had been spent grooming me for an audience with this specific pontiff. Not anymore! There's no way I can get to Vatican City by the end of February. Do you have any idea how much last minute airfare to Rome costs? Me neither, because I'm not even committed enough to this bit to Orbitz it.

I don't think God was too happy with the decision either, because lightning struck the Vatican just hours after the announcement. And that's not a bit--that actually happened.

Speaking of atmospheric phenomenon that could be interpreted as divine retribution for our many sins, did you happen to catch that meteor that exploded over Russia, injuring an estimated 1000 people? Because apparently living in Russia isn't already punishment enough.

Finally, if you're a fan of synergistic cross-promotion (and who isn't???), you'll be happy to hear I also addressed the Pope's announcement in the bi-weekly webcomic I write, Squid Pro Crow. You can check out that installment here: http://www.squidprocrow.com/2013/02/15/popeful/.

Monday, February 11, 2013

how to write an online dating profile that doesn't make you look like an imbecile

The Internet--repository of knowledge, porn, and cat videos. (Depending on your kinks, those last two might be the same thing.) And with sites like match.com, eharmony, and okcupid, it's where the 21st century world comes to date. Sorry, 20th century world--you don't matter anymore. You knew this was coming. Now slink away and enjoy your transistors, automobiles, and Polio vaccines.

Still with me, 21st century? Fantastic. With Valentine's Day fast approaching, it's time to get out there into cyberspace and get yourself a date, like the Good Lord intended.

But not so fast! First thing's first: You need to write a dating profile that will make you seem like an attractive prospect and--perhaps more importantly--not a complete buffoon. Here are some pointers:

1) Own it.

It's not 2004 anymore, when online dating was about as socially acceptable as the clap. Everybody does it now. You don't have qualify your profile with, "I'm new to this" or "I'm still not sure about this" or "What's the Internet?" You don't have to say a friend put you up to it. We don't believe that's true anyway. And don't say, "Might as well give it a shot and see what happens." That goes without saying. That's called dating. If the "most private thing you're willing to admit" on okcupid is that you're on okcupid, it's time to get over yourself. This is where dating is going in 2013. You're not special.

2) Avoid cliches.

No one cares that you work hard and play harder. And you're not really "up for anything" unless that includes juggling razor-sharp machetes or midnight strolls down Skid Row. Everybody is "down-to-earth" as long as the law of gravity is still in effect and they're not a pilot. Yes, most people don't use "their, there, and they're" correctly, but you're a tool for pointing that out. Say something original.

3) Know your audience.

Girls don't like it when guys post a lot of shirtless pictures. Oddly enough, when the situation is reversed, guys don't care so much. Know your audience. And speaking of pictures...

4) Post a picture (or two or three).

Looks aren't everything...but they're also not nothing. You wouldn't date one of those pig doctors from that "Eye of the Beholder" Twilight Zone episode, no matter how charming they were or how much your mother wanted you to date a doctor. So don't expect your match to be less shallow than you--give them a halfway decent chance to see "the goods." One photo probably doesn't paint an accurate picture, unless maybe it's taken by Annie Leibovitz. Digital cameras are really easy to come by now. You probably even have one on your phone. So get a friend or a roommate to take a few shots. Make sure they're close enough to make out details (like your gender, for instance) and that you're not obscured by a shadow or something. It's awesome that you love to ski, but if your face is covered in goggles and a scarf, I can't tell that you're not the elephant man, so I don't care.

5) Grammar

Notice how that was the first point that didn't have a period at the end? That's because "Grammar" isn't a sentence, stupid. I suppose for the purpose of symmetry, I should've made it a sentence, such as, "Use correct grammar, you elementary school dropout." Nothing is a bigger turnoff than when someone can't be bothered to put at least as much effort into their profile as they did their sophomore composition essay. (Spoiler alert: If you failed your sophomore composition essay, you're probably going to fail at this, too.) And while we're on the topic of making an effort...

6) Making an effort is a two-way street.

One of the biggest complaints I see on girls' profiles is that guys don't put any effort into their messages. They say things like, "Hey" and "'Sup?" like eharmony is charging by the letter. I get it. It's disheartening to spend a lot of time personalizing a message that, statistically, will very likely go unanswered. So I propose the following corollary to the ladies: if a guy does manage to string a few thoughtful words together for you, do him the courtesy of a response or shut the hell up about it.

That should be enough to get you started on your online dating adventure. Good luck, and go get 'em!

Monday, February 4, 2013

in which I quit plagiarizing myself and review a 50-year-old movie

Okay. Full disclosure: What I've been doing so far is taking entries from the old blog, reheating them, and serving them back up. But now, I've not only mined the old blog clean, I've even fracked it (something that would be frowned upon in the Battlestar Galactica universe) for every last drop of precious ore. From this point on, I'm working without a net. Or Frankie. (Ask your grandparents.)

Regardless, I think it's going well so far. Or maybe it isn't. I can't be 100% sure because I still haven't decided what my specific goals for this blog are yet--only my more general goals of fame, money, and power. (Okay, last joke from the old blog. Promise. Also, if I can get through the rest of this entry without any more parentheticals, that would be awesome.)

Anyway, I recently went to the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA, which is a museum in Los Angeles and not a 50-foot creature poised to destroy Japan like it sounds. I'm a huge fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey, at least in principle, so I loved seeing all the movie props they had on display from the ape costumes to the ship that looks like a giant sperm hurdling through space. Yes, the ending of that movie is confusing as hell and one day, when I'm in a safe environment surrounded by friends, I definitely want to try whatever drugs Kubrick was on when he made it. But the whole thing is so artfully shot I could watch it again and again.

The museum also had artifacts from other movies in Kubrick's oeuvre, like Malcolm McDowell's costume from A Clockwork Orange, the typewriter from The Shining, etc. I was reminded of the great works this master director has created and I was inspired to re-watch some of them, a process which I began recently by renting the classic Dr. Strangelove.

Now, I really wanted to learn to stop worrying and love this movie, but I've seen it twice now and I still don't get what's so great about it, which assuredly puts me in the minority. It's just that most of the film is so subtle, I find it's hard to tell that it's supposed to be a comedy. Which is fine if that's what you're going for, but then peppered throughout are these brief moments of absurdly satirical genius, making the overall tone of Dr. Strangelove feel really uneven. A dark comedy about the cold war arms race seems like a no-brainer--I mean, what's not funny about mutually assured destruction? But, while the statement it makes about nuclear proliferation is definitely on point, as a comedy, I just don't think it consistently lives up to its potential.

And I'm sure you're like, "Thanks for the timely movie review. While you're at it, what did you think of Citizen Kane?"

Don't get me started on Citizen Kane.

Monday, January 28, 2013

gym etiquette...or lack thereof

Every January, the gyms fill up with new faces--people resolving to exercise more in the new year thinking, "This time, I'll stick with it." Yeah right, fatty.  They swarm in, tie up all the equipment, and hit on that cute girl you always see there but can't get up the nerve to ask out. It's like they have no manners.

Actually, I'm beginning to suspect that gyms are etiquette-free zones anyway. Even the regulars at my gym are about as conscious of the people around them as Terri Schiavo. (Oh relax--she's dead now. Tragedy + time. Yada yada.)

Exhibit A

My gym has numerous signs posted discouraging cell phone use as a courtesy to the other members. They might as well be printed in Cuneiform, in invisible ink, and in an entirely different building.

On one occasion, I walked into the locker room to find not one but two people talking on their phones (hopefully not to each other), one of which was a trainer. Maybe the phone use policy only applies to the workout areas. Still, I had to wonder: 1) What was it about the locker room that these people felt it was an appropriate environment to make a phone call? It's one step away from making a call in the crapper. 2) What was so important that it couldn't wait until they left the gym? The one guy was going on (quite loudly) about contracts and paperwork and business meetings and he probably just manages a Subway.

Exhibit B

There are eight shower stalls in the men's locker room--four each on opposing walls. The shower area can be entirely empty except for me and one other guy, and yet the odds are better than 50/50 that my newer shower buddy will take an adjacent stall when there are, mathematically, at least four other stalls that provide a one stall or greater buffer.


Now, men know about the personal space rules at urinals and bathroom stalls. It's required. They teach it to you after the secret man handshake. (Or man-shake, as it's sometimes called. Yeah, you ladies reading didn't know we had that, did you? If you ask your boyfriend about it and he says I'm making it up, keep in mind that he's probably bound by sacred oath to deny it exists.) For whatever reason, the guys at my gym don't seem capable of applying the same principle to shower stalls, even though it carries over by the transitive property or whatever. They think it's totally normal and in no way weird to shower in the stall right next to someone else if you don't have to.

But it gets better. I like to take advantage of my gym's jacuzzi, so I'll often be showering off after with a pair of wet trunks that I'll drape over the divider. Surely with wet swim trunks dripping down, encroaching on the next stall, no one would want to use it, right? Ha, ha--think again! If anything, it acts as a super powerful magnet that actually attracts anti-social behavior. Only in this case, a stranger's appearance in the stall next to mine is even more frustrating than usual because they're potentially splashing their shower water on my clean(ish) trunks. Way to not be an inconsiderate jackhole.

Exhibit C

As if my shower woes weren't impressively woeful enough, one time while I was in the shower, someone took the sneakers that I'd left just outside my locker and turned them in to lost and found. I had to walk downstairs to the front desk in my socks to retrieve them. Really, guy? Really?!?

Epilogue

I wonder if this is just at my gym, or if this a staple of gyms worldwide. Because I have a feeling that if anyone tried to pull this crap at Emily Post's gym, she'd totally open a can of whoopass. But, you know...politely.

Also, I wonder what "cell phone" looks like in Cuneiform.

P.S. Sorry about the Terri Schiavo joke.

Monday, January 21, 2013

driver's ed

When I was about 16, I had this brilliant idea that I should probably become a licensed driver. That thought-gasm has paid off immensely, as I now operate a motor vehicle on essentially a daily basis. Sometimes even sober.

The funny thing about getting your driver's license is that the issuing body, the Department of Motor Vehicles, expects you to learn what the hell you're doing first. I know--crazy, right? The process for learning these skills is called driver's ed. And while I originally assumed all motorists had to take driver's ed to get their licenses, I'm starting to suspect that might not be the case in southern California. How else do you explain the complete and utter asshat-ery one observes on the roads of Los Angeles (Lindsay Lohan notwithstanding)?

So, in a public service announcement to my fellow Angelino motorists, here are some driver's ed lessons that you might have forgotten or just slept through.

1) merging onto the freeway
To merge means to combine or unite as one. That sort of unity is difficult to accomplish when you're barreling down the freeway at a whopping 20 mph. Protip: Begin accelerating to the speed limit as soon as you reach the on-ramp...not two miles down the road.

2) exiting the freeway
They say the shortest distance between two points is a line. But if one of those points is the exit-ramp and the other point is the carpool lane, you might want to consider making your way over in stages instead of cutting people off in one perilous fell swoop at the last possible second. You know, think about someone other than yourself for a change. Got it, Evel Knievel? 'Kthanksbye.

3) "the zipper"
In Kindergarten, we all learned the importance of taking turns. Or, at least, it was assumed we all learned that. Whenever two lanes of traffic become one, it seems like some drivers have difficulty with the concept. If you're in doubt, remember that the key is to alternate turns--not force your suburban assault vehicle in because it's bigger and will sustain less damage in a collision.

4) the four-way stop 
Equally important to taking turns is knowing turn order. If you were playing Monopoly, you wouldn't go ahead of the idiot who picked the thimble if it was his roll, would you? I mean, I know putting hotels on Baltic Avenue is the key to your master strategy there, Rockefeller, but Thimbelina is ahead of you, so it's just going to have to wait. Why motorists can't apply this fundamental to four-way stops boggles the mind. If someone stopped before you, they go before you. And if someone stopped after you, don't pull a "Heckle and Jeckle," impractically deferring when you clearly stopped 10 min. before they did, parked, and started planting crops. You'll just confuse people who actually know how to drive.

5) inching
Speaking of which, don't inch out. Ever. You'll freak the hell out of oncoming traffic, which, seeing as we haven't evolved to read minds yet, has no way of determining whether you plan to stop before your cars become entangled in a heap of twisted metal. If you think I'm going to assume you're a competent driver before I assume you're a shitty one, you obviously haven't gotten the gist of this blog entry. And if you inch out at a red light ahead of someone trying to make a right turn, they won't be able to see around your dumb ass to know if it's all clear.

These are just a few tips to avoid causing your fellow drivers to curse your name, give you the one finger salute, or burn your likeness in effigy. I'm hoping that Google's self driving car will one day make bad driving obsolete but, until then, stay safe out there and keep your eyes on the road, you maniac.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I hate shaving

If you read the earlier incarnation of this blog, you may recognize this entry. I'm re-posting it with some minor tweaks. See, I lied when I said I deleted everything--never trust bloggers...or a lion in capri pants (long story).

Shaving is annoying, naturally. I don't think anyone likes to shave. To say "I hate shaving" is to say "I hate traffic," or "I hate when I take something out of the microwave and it's still cold in the center," or "I hate being eaten alive by ravenous piranhas." It's just one more thing you have to do every day to get ready (or every three days, if you're lazy like me).

I have extra reasons to hate shaving, though. One is that I have sensitive skin that gets irritated easily, even if I'm using one of those state-of-the-art razors with 47 blades that you have to take a second mortgage out for. The other is that I have a baby face. Whenever I shave, I instantly look like I'm 15, which is turn-off for any woman who isn't Mary Kay Letourneau.

I think a few days' stubble is my look. The trouble with maintaining said look is that "a few days' stubble" quickly turns into "unkempt," which requires shaving, with leads to more baby face. I need to find a way to maintain the stubble, like Matthew Fox on Lost. He was on that island for 108 days and somehow managed to have perpetual 5 o'clock shadow. It was one of the mysteries of the island, like that dumb Egyptian statue thing that they never really explained.

Beard trimmers really only work on full-fledged beards--they don't have a stubble trimmer yet. But you know there has to be a market for something like that--have you ever walked into a coffee shop in Silverlake?

I suppose for now, I'm doomed to shaving. But I can dream of a razor breakthrough for stubblephiles...or crash-landing on a magic island.

Monday, January 7, 2013

reboot

This used to be a blog. I wrote some things. Then I stopped writing those things. Then I made a New Year's resolution to write things again, but I didn't like the huge time gaps between the new things and the old things. So I deleted all the things.

Tabula rasa. That's Latin for "shit just got real." I think Caesar said it when he killed all the Gauls. It was right before he invented the salad.

The point is, I survived the Mayan apocalypse, so I think I can survive blogging again. But first I'm going to play some more Assassin's Creed III.