Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 End of Year Media Power Rankings

2013 is coming to an end. This year like every year has brought out a lot of new media. Some of it I liked. Some of it I spent a fair amount of time actually taking in. I listened to Daft Punk's Get Lucky a fair amount. I listened to Yeezus a couple times. Magna Carta/ Holy Grail has some listenable tracks. That's about all I'm too familiar with at the moment though. I tend to have a pretty insular approach to media. I usually spend most my time taking in stuff that I already am familiar with. All this great media is coming and going almost none of which ever comes up on my radar. The worst part of this is that I never get to take part in one of America's greatest year end traditions, the best of list. I never do a best of list, because I very rarely listen to, watch or read ten of anything produced in a year that year. But this year I'm saying "fuck it," just because I'm not the most up to date guy doesn't mean I can't put my dumb media opinions out into the ether. But since I don't have the references for a best of list I decided to a media power ranking instead. This isn't necessarily the newest or hottest of the last year, but who brought it the most in terms of making me happy.

Even though this is the first year I've done this, I can tell you there were some pretty big upsets this year. Meat Loaf isn't on there. It just shows that no positions are given away. I thought Jay Z really earned both spots in coveted top 5. I expect Meat Loaf will come back hard next year and show the world what he's got.

And remember, this is obviously very scientific and should be taken extremely seriously.

Music

#1 Adele - 21 



I would've loved to see a little more competition for the top spot, but honestly shit wasn't even close. I was unfamiliar with Adele until her concert video, Live at Royal Albert Hall played heavily at the Best Buy I was working at. I picked up both 19 and 21 and have been listening to them on repeat since. Both are good, but 21 is great. Completely listenable from start to finish. So much so that I do. A lot. If you're not familiar with it pick it up, I think you'll be impressed.

#2 Jay Z - The Black Album 




This year Jay Z released Magna Carta Holy Grail. It’s okay. I like a couple songs off of it, and I don’t think it’s awful, but it certainly isn’t the best. Whenever an artist releases something that’s not nearly as good as their former self it makes me want nothing more than to just listen to their best stuff. And I don’t care who you ask the best of Jay is The Black Album. I’ve gotten in more than a few drunken fights over whether or not Blueprint deserves top honors. It fucking doesn’t

#3 The Beatles - Abbey Road 



I’ve always been a Beatles guy. I think they were the first band I actually spent money on to buy their CD. I think I got this when I was sixteen. It was always good and enjoyed it’s fair share of airplay by me, but this summer it really stepped up it’s game. Track 6 through the end might be my favorite section of recorded music ever. I imagine you've at least heard of the album. If you haven't listened to it you're probably an asshole who chooses not to listen to The Beatles just to be a annoying contrarian. You're only hurting yourself.



#4 Neutral Milk Hotel - The Aeorplane over the sea 



I first heard this album eight or nine years ago and it pretty quickly became one of my absolute favorites. Even though this is the first of these I’ve done I’d say that this a strong favorite to have this same spot damn near every year.

#5 Jay Z - The Blueprint  



Despite what I just said earlier this is still a great album. This album is on here because of a number of drunken fights over whether or not The Blueprint was better than The Black Album. It’s not, but I did sit down and really listen to this one and it is great. Great enough to make this list. Keep it up Jay, you’ve got a bright future in this biz.


TV

#1 Breaking Bad 


I’m not sure if you have heard of this show, but pretty good. Most shows when they’re done I look forward to revisiting it in a year or so. I don’t know if I ever want to watch Breaking Bad again. As Breaking Bad was coming to an end I was talking about it with good buddy Brad Austin. I was lamenting the fact that I wouldn’t have Breaking Bad to look forward to any longer. His view was that he was almost looking forward to it being over. At the time I thought he was a fool who should never be allowed to have opinions. Even though he is a fool, as soon as Breaking Bad was over I saw his point. It was like a weight had been lifted off me. I didn’t need to worry about it anymore. I’d gladly welcome another show that can pull me in the way Breaking Bad did, but I kinda hope another one never comes along.



#2 Firefly



Opinions on Firefly fall into three distinct camps: People who fucking love it, people who haven’t seen it, and jerks who pretend not to like it because they're too wrapped up into their own too cool for schoolness to admit they’ve just witnessed greatness. This show is riding high as the number two spot. It's an early favorite to have number one next year since I can almost guarantee you I will not be revisiting Breaking Bad anytime soon. But I did just start on Game of Thrones so there'll be some heavy competition for Mal and the crew to contend with. 

#3 Star Trek DS9



Even Though this doesn’t have the top spot. Great show. The least Star Trekey of all the Star Treks in a good way. There are cheesy moments just like all Star Treks, but when it’s right there’s nothing that competes. Fun fact: The episode The Visitor has made me cry every time I’ve seen it. I usually skip over it when it comes up. 

#4 & #5 Parks and Recreation & How I Met Your Mother



Sometimes you don’t want dramas. Sometimes you just want to unwind with some comedy. Usually I treat sitcoms like well whiskey, sometimes you need a still 22 minute shot of some RJ Hodges to help you relax. There are sitcoms I love, but generally the shows I keep on going back to are dramas, space ones and other. I just saw Parks and Rec earlier this year. I don’t know if I'll keep on coming back to these shows or their placement on this list is a one off kind of thing, but they were good. Not good enough where I tried to watch them live or even close to air time, but good enough where I’m excited when I see their are new episodes on Netfiix. I look forward to seeing how HIMYM ends this year. Not enough to actually go out of my way to watch it, but still. I can't imagine these shows will be on this list every year, but goddammit they made me happy. And that's what this is all about. 


Movies

#1 This is the End 



Great. Just a great movie. Hadn’t laughed this hard in years. 

#2 Star Trek: The Best of both Worlds



2013 saw the release of two Stars Treks in theaters. The sequel to the 2009 Star Trek reboot, Into Darkness and a remastered theaticral release of two episodes Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Best of Both Worlds parts 1 & 2. Into Darkness was just okay. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t too good. Even in a year where I’m trying to rack my brain about how many movies I saw, it doesn’t make the list. The Best of Both Worlds on the other hand, GREAT! If they released every episode in the theaters I’d go see nearly every one. Actually I’d skip most of the first two seasons because there’s a lot of stinkers in there. But most I’d pay good money to see remastered with better sound. My one gripe with the event, why was in not remastered to be formatted for 16:9? Seems so silly. Why go through all the trouble of making something fit for high definition then still have it made for older TVs. I suppose they’ll do that next year and expect me to shell out money to see it again in the theaters. Something I will gladly do. 

#3 Serenity



The movie that got fans of Firefly to stop crying for a little bit. Granted it’s not enough, but it’s good. It had Firefly's wit. It was nice to see what was possible with a larger special effects budget. It was great to see some of the loose ends get tied up, albeit a little too quickly. Sometimes I was Serenity and I'm happy that I got to see a little bit of resolution to Firefly, sometimes I just wish it would've gotten a chance to get played out over a few more seasons on TV. Fuck you Fox.

#4 & #5 The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises



Don't let the fact that these two are towards the bottom of the list fool you. These are both great movies. Anyone who doesn't think so is an idiot whose wrong. I don't remember watching too many movies this year. I saw Flight. I liked it, but it's not one I'll be going back to over and over. I saw Taken. Thought it was brilliant, but that's another one I can't imagine watching repeatedly. I will however be there with bells on for Taken 3. I really wanted to like Man of Steel. I didn't really, but I wanted to. When trying to think of the movies I saw and liked this year I would be lying if these didn't trump most the other ones. I watched and loved both again and would be surprised if this list doesn't include at least of these two and Serenity just about every year.


All mentioned have had a strong 2013 and should be proud. Only time will tell where they rank next year. 2014, like every year will bring a lot of strong competition. Nobody on this list is foreign to competition, and I'm sure they'll all make a strong push to be back here next year. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Black Friday: Know Your Enemy

I’ve only got a couple more posts about retail life ahead of me, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a couple words about Black Friday. I didn’t just capitalize that. My spell checker automatically did that for me. It’s a holiday now. It’s a holiday more than Thanksgiving is now. It’s been a long time since stuff replaced stuffing as that which we look forward to the most this time of year.

At Best Buy our schedules were pretty brutal for the two days. We opened up at 6:00 PM Thanksgiving evening and remained open until Friday at 10:00 pm. Most workers worked two shifts of about nineteen of those thirty hours total. I was given the 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM, little break, then back for 3-11. It was pretty goddamn brutal. You spend that much time at a place, any place, but work especially and you are going to get a bit cranky. I took a different approach I showed up angry as hell, mellowed out a bit, then got even angrier, switched to murderous rage, and kinda just rode that feeling out the majority of my time. When you’re angry you have to either go into self examination mode. Go into why you’re where you are and what you need to do to get yourself out of there. OR you can blame of other people for your shitty lot.
Well, Mr. CEO I hope you're ready for a business end of a blog!
If you’re like me you’ll come up with two main focal points for your rage. customers and the bosses. Listen, I’m not a commie (anymore). People need to make money in order to get by. In order to make money you have to trade goods or services. I’m fine with all that, but within there there’s a weird message given. The company says that they’re powerless in this whole effort. But they’re not. It’s their company. People will shop when you tell them to, because people are fucking dumb. If you tell someone a twenty dollar bill is on sale they’ll gladly give you fifty for it.
Three pennies for a dollar!
People lose their minds looking for new ways to give their money away. Idiots started waiting for stores to open to get in and be the firsts to give away money. Stores saw that these mindless idiots were pounding on the doors waiting to get in so they started opening earlier and earlier. Until one day a store is going to be open before it’s even closed and a rift in the space time continuum will open up and swallow us all up.

I'm just glad I spent this time shopping and not with people I loved

The Black Friday customers usually fit into one of three groups. There are the people who have absolutely no idea what the day is all about. They were just in the neighborhood and thought they’d look at some TVs. They’re usually impatient. They never know what’s going on and they usually haven’t bought a piece of technology since FM came around. They don’t seem to realize that there’s a bloodbath going on all around them. We also get a lot of the people who think we’re allies in the whole thing. They always talk about how awful it is that I have to work on a major holiday, but then will still patronize the place and support it with their money. Whenever these jackasses stroll in commenting how all the “other” people are going nuts, I know what they’re trying to do. They want to have it both ways. They want to shop and be a part of the mayhem, but their stupid NPR brains don’t want to think that they’re just as easily manipulated as the rest of these rubes. Then of course we have the animals. These are the people you see on TV. They’ll miss 72 hours worth of work so they can get a TV that’s they could’ve bought a better version of online had they just gone to work. These people yell, they scream, they smell weird, and are awful in just about every way. These people are tough to judge too harshly though, because a lot of them just don’t know any better. You really have to pity someone who waits a day and a half in order to buy the only 60” TV they can afford only to spend four times that on when they’re told that we’re out. Simply put, some people just aren't all that bright. It’s not an inditement of them as people. I’m sure they excel at things I’m no good at. I’m sure they’re great at beating their children on the bus, but shopping smart and behaving like a human being in public are not among them. It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for someone who will buy something just because some idiot put a small red “ON SALE!” tag next to it. That tag doesn’t mean anything in and of itself, it’s just a small plastic tag. I’m the jackass who put them out. I used to have to do it very early in the morning. I very rarely did a good or accurate job at it.
Saw an ambulance and thought I missed a riot. Some idiot just fell down. Idiots. 

When passing blame around it’s hard not to go after the bosses too. The nice thing about putting anger on bosses is that if you work retail chances are every person on earth is your boss. It generally seems that as soon as a new person is hired they would be above me in the pecking order. I used to answer to everyone from the cleaning lady on up. I know all those people aren’t responsible for the work schedule so I’ll just focus my rage on the highest of my bosses. Pretty much anyone who wears a cerulean tie as opposed to a blue shirt is suspect. They say we have to be open because other places are open. And the other places are open because we’re open. But really they’re all open because they know the mob will be there if they tell to be there. The thought is that the customer is always right and places should try to meet the needs of them. That argument, like the customers, is fucking stupid. Customers will come when you tell them to. You don’t have to cater to them. There will always be people willing to shell out money. Just tell them when and where to show up and tell them that they’ll be able to save some money. I had multiple times where people got angry because Best Buy didn’t sell fruit. People are dumb and very rarely do they know how to run a multinational electronics store. You, Mr. CEO do. Albeit in kinda a shitty manner.

I shouldn’t bitch too much because a lot was done for us as employees during the holidays. We were given extra pay when and only when legally mandated PLUS  the company was nice enough to give us access to crisis counseling via telephone! All holiday season they realize that you’re gonna be worked too hard and stressed and there’s no way all of their employees will be able to handle it so they better provide for them this way. They don’t want the kind of employees who should be able to handle working November through January without snapping and they sure as shit don’t want to pump the brakes on the whole shopping thing. They’d prefer just make sure there are grief counselors standing by. They certainly hope that we don’t get to the point where we tie some blue shirts together and hang next to the very tasteful non offensive multi denominational holiday display. However if we do they want to make sure that they’re in no way legally culpable and need something to point to that shows they don't want us to kill ourselves. How many people avail themselves of this program I have no clue. I guess in my 3 plus years there I didn’t see any suicides so I suppose that’s a victory of some sort. Hell, I don’t actually know if there were or were not suicides. I only knew like ten people’s names. Everyone dresses the same so it’s kinda hard to differentiate them. There may have been a rash of suicides all last christmas and everyone was just replaced with someone who was right around the same height.

You're ass better still be here Sunday

Of course the worst person in all of this is the jackass who lets this happen year in and year out. The CEO came in the week before Thanksgiving. I didn’t say shit to him. Hell, I even shaved. I came in at 8:00 and stayed for the next twelve hours because they told me to. I took a brief nap and came back the same day because I was told to. Never ask to know who the jackass is that’s responsible for your shitty lot, for the jackass is thee.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Retail Life: The Worst Customers

For the next half a week I will be working retail. I’ve put my notice and the light is visible at the end of the tunnel. So me bitching about working retail will soon come to an end. I’m sure I’ll find a few more things relating to working retail that I’ll put up after the fact, because just because you stop working retail doesn’t mean you regain everything it’s taken from you. I’m sure I’ll also find other new things to bitch about that I look forward to sharing with you. Maybe even I’ll think of things I like that I want to share instead of just complaining all the time. We’re not quite there yet though. I’m still working this week and there’s plenty to be annoyed by.

If you work retail or plan on working retail in the future you the main thing you will be annoyed by is the people. They’re just terrible. There are a lot of different types of people, how are you supposed to know who are the ones you just avoid first? That’s why I want to give a list of the worst kinds of customers. These are the ones that should be avoided at all costs.

People eating candy
Typical quote from candy people: MINE!

A shop opened up just a couple doors down from the Best Buy I work at. The kind of place that only exists in New York and other places where there’s a lot of assholes. An upscale candy store. Not an artisanal chocolate shop or cupcake store, but a place to buy the same candy you’d get at the Duane Reade across the street except with a huge markup and shitty dance music plays while you shop. I’ve walked by and it seems pretty awful. Most of the candy they sell is of the cheap waxy variety you would’ve gotten pissed at if you got it as a kid on halloween, and you get a large pink bag whenever you get loose candy. These pink bags act as a warning flag. For some reason something changes in people while they’re eating candy. Partly it’s the weird necessity to just finish the giant bag of candy as quickly as possible. I don’t know if they’re worried I’m going to steal their candy if they don’t polish it off in record time. All questions are asked while shoving candy in their dumb faces. Plus I don’t know what it is about grown people eating candy, but as soon as you do you revert to a childlike state. All requests become less reasonable, patience is nonexistent, no candy is ever shared.

Typical quote from candy people: MINE!

People with bad nose jobs

I work in the middle level of three floors. I’m about fifty feet from the bottom of the escalator you come down on. I have a little rule where the further out I can notice you’ve had a nose job the worse a customer they’re going to be. If it’s all the way from the escalator then I run like hell. Nose jobs generally don't get too botched on the first try. If it does chances are you can have someone fix it so it becomes unnoticeable. In order for people to notice a nose job from tens of feet you have to have had a shit ton of nose jobs. If you’re the type of person who thinks a 20 year old nose is going to make you look 20 again then Chances are if you’ve had that many nose jobs you’re indecisive, wealthy, and very demanding. None of those are good attributes in a customer. Plus it’s just fucking creepy to look at.

Typical quote: I don't know what I want, but I'm pretty sure I want it now.

People who want to buy a house phone



They all still look like this

Listen I don’t have a landline phone. It’s the year 2013 and I’m not elderly. I don’t care if you do, but if you do go it knowing full well that all house phones are the exact same. Companies know that landlines are not a growth industry so they’ve pretty much said fuck you to everyone who’s interested in them. Some have answering machines, but that’s really about it. People who buy them can’t seem to decide between the two different kinds seem to think that even though they’re all identical one phone will change their life and I alone am the key to this life changing decision. These people are usually upwards of ninety and I want to tell them that chances are their current phone isn’t even broken, it’s just that all your friends are dead and nobody is calling anymore.

Typical quote from a landline phone buyer: Just in case someone calls. (so sad!)

Interior decorators

Congratulations, you just spend 40k to have someone buy you a couch
I don’t what it is about interior decorators, but the most ridiculous demands I’ve gotten have been from them. They seem to be put off that the person who's place their making over wants a TV at all. I guess their thought is that their clients should just sit around their place admiring how great it's been decorated forever. I’ve been asked to sell TVs of odd shapes. TVs are the shape they are because 16:9 is the aspect ratio most TV is filmed in. TVs are only one shape, because it’s cheaper to have them all just one way. That seems simple enough, but that’s not good enough for some people. I have been asked for TVs that are taller than they are wide. I have to explain that they’d either have watch everything rotated 90 degrees or 80% of the picture would be cut off. They look confused. Then they’ll ask if there was a way to have speakers that don’t require any kind of power source. I ask if they mean battery powered. No, they say. No batteries, no wires, no power. Just magic I guess.

Typical quote: I think I saw a floating TV in movie once. Where are they?

People Who Want Surveillance Cameras

Nanny cam! This is either gonna be devastating or sexy, let's roll that tape!

Listen, are you a meth cook? No, then what the fuck. You’re place might get robbed at some point, but chances are it won’t. And even if it does you’re pretty well fucked. Most cameras kits cost as much as several years worth of renters insurance. You’re not gonna be able to do anything about it. And the people who just want to watch their house are the least creepy people who want cameras. My favorite was they guy who took a look at our cameras, noticed that they weren’t hidden type cameras, and said “these won’t work, she’ll notice them right away.” Save that money just get a divorce.

Typical quote: I will ruin them all!

Jamaican Nannies

You google image search "Jamaican nanny" the results seem a little racist
If you’re a parent and you have a nanny you should know that the nanny doesn’t give a shit about your kid. You know that thing I’ve heard parents have where if their kid is in distress or pain the parents want to stop that? Nannies don’t have that in the slightest. Nannies have a superhuman ability to block out the fact that the child their tasked with caring for is screaming in pain in distress. They will carry on any number of conversations about Bluray players while the kid they’re caring for falls, cries, eats things from the floor, throws up the things just eaten off the floor, shits, or throws things at other babies. Now, I’m not judging the nannies. I also don’t give a shit about the kids they’re in charge of. But I’m not getting paid in money or citizenship to be around that kid. I’m paid to sell electronics to people. Listening to a kid scream for 20 minutes makes my job more miserable than it usually is. The worst part is they’re never in a rush to purchase. They’re looking to kill time with this kid everyday. So if they don’t see the price they want they can come back. They always come back.

Typical quote: When the sale be?

Smug asshole

This is turning out to be too long, but you get the point. Really I think this whole post boils down to “people who make me do my job that I think I’m better than.” The fucking nerve.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Heat Nor Slightest Semblance Of Reason Stays These Couriers From The Eventual Completion Of Their Appointed Rounds

There are a lot of fascinating people living in this world. There’s Bill Gates, he seems pretty neat. There’s so many fascinating people that both Barbara Walters and People magazine publish new lists of them every year. These lists usually feeature new people so one would asssume that every new person on the list has just been born in the past year. It’s usually not. The royal baby might make the list this year, but who gives a shit. One who’s never made the list is my mailman. I can’t imagine why though, because he truly is an enigma. I’d say that he’s at least 678% more fascinating than the President. And that’s a conservative estimate


I get mail that’s not for me sometimes. It has my address so I don’t think he’s an idiot for giving me the wrong mail. I don’t want to keep poor Elba’s mail. It’s a little weird that she’s still getting all sorts of stuff sent here. It has been three years and I guess she really doesn’t deserve her mail if she hasn’t figured out how to fill out a change of address form by now. I guess she could also be dead. If that’s the case I’m sorry for your loss Fernandez family. You have my deepest sympathies, and if there’s anything I can do in this troubling time please let me know.

Fifth time's a charm
That’s not bad and it’s not all that fascinating. What is fascinating is what happens next. Like a good person who’s not named Elba Fernandez I always return the mail. I cross out the address and write something that tries to convey the point that I want this mail returned to the sender. I usually go with “return to sender”. I will then walk it to the mailbox across the street. I don’t put it back in my mail box, I walk it across the street to the big blue collection box. Invariabley the next day, sometimes that very same day my mailman will bring it back and deliver it to me. This has happened up to five times a piece of mail. The timeframe is short enough where I'm pretty sure it's not going back to the main post office for processing and redelivery. The mail collection box is right across the street. I'll put it in in the morning. The collection time is listed as noon. And by 1:00 Elba is back in my box.
For Christ's sake return this fucking thing to sender you weirdo

The thought process that goes into that is the most fascinating thing I can think of. He finds a letter marked return to sender. He then thinks to himself “hmmm, who was the last person to send this? Why the person who just put it in the mailbox an hour ago. I better get it back to him.” For me to want those letters back he would have to assume that the Macy’s collection department is located in an apartment in Washington Heights, but the people who live there are completely unaware that they also share an apartment with them. Or he assumes that I put it in the mailbox, realized I wanted it back, grabbed a pen, and then reached my arm in and wrote on it instead of grabbing it. I can’t wait until next time just to see how many times he actually walks back and forth with the letter before the nose bleeds of frustration force him to make a decision as to where it belongs.

Either way Barbara Walters’ shitty list has got nothing on him.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Foolproof 5 Point Platform For Making The World A Better Place

I think we can all agree that their are a lot of problems in this world. I’ve been asked to weigh in and see if we can’t solve some of them. So here it is, my foolproof 5 point platform for making the world a better place.

5. Make sure everyone has enough food.


I don’t really know how this should be accomplished. I’m pretty sure though that a lot of people don’t have enough food. Also, I’m pretty sure that a lot of people have way too much food. That seems to be something we should be able to work out. I don’t know if we should just have those people just get together and share or what. Regardless, this seems doable.
For Christ's sake share!
4. Make sure everyone has enough medicine. 


Same thing with the food stuff. Some people don’t have nearly enough medicine. Some people are overdosing. On the same medicine that other people don’t have enough of. If they could all just get together and even out the medicine supply both groups would be better off. 
Thanks for dropping all the pills you didn't take on the floor. Now nobody gets to live to see tomorrow.
3. Make sure everyone has water.

Here we go again right? Some people don’t have clean water. Other people are literally drowning. Let’s do something about this. What, I don’t know. But something. 
Hey asshole, other people might be thirsty.

2. No more war. This one seems simple enough. Just knock it off folks.

Bold stance to take via hat. 
1. No more national broadcasters in playoff baseball. 

This one is the trickiest, but also really important. I can see why football puts everything they have into putting their best face forward during the Superbowl. It’s the most watched TV event of the year. Not to mention it’s tough to say who you would even get the nod. Each team only has sixteen games a season. Some of those are national broadcasts. Some of those are blackouts. It'd be hard to figure out who would be the person to be there. Plus The Superbowl very rarely is played in the stadium of a team playing in it.

There’s less emphasis on the personalities. Baseball is different. There’s 162 regular season games. Many at weird times. You get to know the broadcasters. More importantly the broadcasters get to know the players. If anyone watched Don Kelly have a stellar game in July, it’s the local broadcasters. Nobody can convey what’s great about watching a team like the guys whose job it is to watch that team day in and day out. 

When something goes well local announcers get just as excited as the fans. Because they’re fans themselves. They can’t help but be. Even if they’re just broadcasters when they start, after watching a team 162 times a year, you either get to be one or sit in front of the mechanical pitcher and end it all. That fourteen run blowout everyone stopped watching three innings in, the broadcasters weren’t able to turn it off. Every year fans bitch about media bias. Why not embrace it and give the job to folks who are unabashedly biased. Let everyone in the country see what weird personalities your hometown watches a hundred plus times a year. I would rather listen to a couple guys who can't pronounce an R talk about how great the Sox are destined (again) than have to listen to an overly polished broadcaster mention a couple hundred times that we're in the midst of a no hitter. Plus then the world would get to meet Rod Allen. 

Mario Impemba (right) and Rod Allen. I'd say ask Rod about his 27 at bats for the 84 Tigers, but no need. He'll bring it up.

Alright that's it. There's all the ways the world can be a better place. Let's get cracking on this. I sent a notarized copy to President Obama, Bill Gates, Bud Selig, and Hilary Clinton. I'm pretty sure that if I get arrested they'll refer to this as my manifesto.



Monday, September 23, 2013

It's Illegal To Yell "Sale" In A Crowded Fire

As I’ve mentioned repeatedly I work retail. Though often degrading and frustrating sometimes it’s really informative to watch how people behave while shopping. It can be really enlightening to watch just how dumb people are while they’re spending money. 

Yesterday someone accidentally walked through an emergency exit. I work at a place with two underground levels. I work in one of the basement levels. Presumably if there was in fact a fire you either hustle or you’re fucked. For folks in the subbasement, you either double hustle or you’re double fucked. When the fire alarm is tripped an awful loud alarm blares and small lights flash. What doesn’t happen is that people alter their shopping habits one iota. 

It is codified in supreme court law that you’re not supposed to falsely yell fire in a crowded theater. The implication being that if you do the pandemonium that will ensue will be so dangerous, so crazy, so inherently perilous that people will trample and claw each other to death to make sure that they escape the blaze. Turns out, it doesn’t matter. When that was coined I guess people cared more about not dying than they did about small appliances. It should be the other way around. It should be illegal to yell "sale" in a crowded fire. Everyone would immediately stop and wait to get immolated to appease the great finance offers. 
What I lost in a life I gained in finishing Scary Movie 9
This has happened a few times and every time the alarm starts going off I always make sure to watch the customers and see what happens. Never once has anyone even started for the exit. Maybe they’re all just following our cue. I guess I could give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they decide to watch the employees and if they don’t run then they shouldn’t either. I suppose the rationale is that hey if these guys are good at helping me pick out Blu-ray players then they’re probably also good at ensuring I don’t die a horrific and avoidable death. That’s a lot of faith they’re putting into us. To be honest, I’m amazed when anyone puts any faith into retail folks. Whenever a customer is waffling between things they turn to me for advice. I’ll tell them what to do then the weak piece of shit will just go ahead and do it. Just because I said so. Hardly ever do they decide to go home and do a bit of research at whatever is tripping them up. They turn to the sage wisdom of the guy who probably will never be able to afford whatever it is they’re buying. However flattering I should say if you’re goal is to live a long and fruitful life I would recommend not looking solely to entry-level retail employees. 
Got it all figured out.
Maybe the assumption is that as fire starts devastating everything about them, we’ll be a little more willing to wheel and deal. The term “fire sale” had to come from somewhere after all, why not wait just long enough to get a sweet deal on that iPad before dying. Everyone hates the idea of dying for nothing, but 15% off? Boy, that ain’t nothing. 
Siri, write me a will.

When an atomic bomb goes off I’ve heard that it happens so quick and it’s so hot that it can actually burn a shadow into the ground. How pathetic would it be to realize that after a horrible fire people died, not because it happened so quick, but because people were that reluctant to not buy an HDMI cable that they just stood there staring with their stupid faces as the fire consumed them. Next time it goes off, I’m running like hell. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Laugh Strong: Tour De Comedy


I’m not sure if anyone of you know, but last week I rode my bike across the state of Ohio doing shows at each stop. I went with three other comics, Dean Masello, Max Boyajian, and Christian Polanco. It was fun and nuts and something that I look forward to doing again. As this took an awful lot of forethought and planning this was definitely not my doing. My friend Dean called me a couple months back and asked if I wanted to ride my bike across Ohio telling jokes. I said yes, because I didn’t think there was any way I’d actually have to do it. Comics often have weird plans that never come to fruition. I can’t even count the amount of times weirdos at open mics have asked me to rent an RV and tell jokes with them. At first I used to say no. But I’ve since learned that it doesn’t matter. These people are nuts. Chances are they won’t ever show at an open mic again let alone actually show up with an RV and demand you come along. So I’ve gotten in the habit of just saying yes. Turns out Dean is that strange mix of fucking nuts and dedicated that follows through on crazy schemes. When he called a month later to confirm I realized that this was for real. 
Nuts. Fucking nuts.
All the logistics were taken care of by Dean. He came up with the routes. He organized the shows. And he did a bang up job. He called it Laugh Strong: Tour De Comedy. He even got a logo and flyer made for the whole thing. 
This is what that looks like. 
I'm a relatively active rider. I use my bike for commuting when the weather is comfortable. But the prospect of riding across Ohio was a little daunting. I'd like to say I did some training to prepare, but aside from taking a few extra laps around Central Park on my way home from work I didn't do too much to prepare. Luckily I was not the most unprepared so I had plenty of time to rest. 
What a relatively active rider looks like.
So me and my trusty steed, Serenity, loaded up and prepared to ride. I rode the 13 miles out to Dean's apartment in Brooklyn. We loaded our bikes onto Dean's car and we set out. 
I'm pretty sure I saw Rosie O'Donnell on my way to Dean's house. Pretty cool, huh?
On an aluminum horse I ride. 
Dean, Christian, and myself drove out to Cleveland to Dean's brother's house. From there Dean's brother Mike drove us to Cincinnati. The first leg of our journey. We did one show and a group ride in Cincinnati. But since there wasn't a lot of riding to be done we just spent a lot of time dicking around and eating a lot of shitty food. 
Diarrhea is about to get sexy again

Steak n' Shake! The "n" stands for "nom nom nom"
On the last night we went to Go Bananas to watch the show, and we prepared for the following day's ride. 
Whiskey. It's like chain lube for your body.
The first day of riding was in a word, rough. It was a sixty mile trek from Cincinnati to Dayton. I probably wasn't ready to ride my bike that long in 90 degree heat, but Christian almost died. 
How Christian felt





How I felt










Christian and I being passed by a jogger at about mile 57
But it was all worth it, because we made it to Dayton, had a fun show, and got put up in a bitchin' hotel. 

Fun show
The next day we woke up late and rather sore, but ready for more riding. As we were headed to Yellow Springs. I didn't know too much about Yellow Springs. I knew Dave Chapelle lives there and I had heard some things about the college there. Other than that I didn't know too much. It wasn't too bad a ride just about 30 miles. Which after 60 was nothing. The ride was scenic, but pretty warm. We decided that it might be easier if Christian rode my bike. I decided shortly thereafter when it comes to 
my bike I'm a little jealous. 
Make sure to drink plenty of coffee when riding in hot weather

Serenity with a lot of junk in her trunk
Scenic
Hot

JEALOUSY!
The Yellow Springs stop was important for a couple reasons. For starters Max Boyajian, the fourth wheel of our group was being added as he couldn't make it off work for the first couple days. And as it turns out Yellow Springs Ohio is the greatest place on Earth. The owner of the Yellow Springs Brewery met us outside of town and rode us in.
Lisa Wolters (right) owner of Yellow Springs Brewery passing a cherry Mustang

Greatest place on Earth
The show was packed. The crowd was very enthusiastic. And as it turns there are two iportant things about Lisa Wolters and Nate Cornett, owners of the Yellow Springs Brewery. First they make really really good beer. If you at any point in your life come across it in a store or in another bar, do yourself a favor and drink a lot of it. Secondly, they have a very liberal policy when it comes to making sure thirsty travelers get plenty of it. Even though the brewery generally isn't open Mondays they were just for our show and after. For the night we were treated like low level celebrities and it felt pretty goddamned good. I don't know if Max coined this phrase, but he referred to the fine folks at Yellow Springs Brewery as "irresponsibly hospitable." That fits. We left with bellies full of beer and pizza and embarked on a short wobbly ride to our accommodations for the night.
Dark and wobbly

???
After Yellow Springs, all four of us as a group were off. This time to Columbus. It was a nice and scenic ride for the most part. However we did see a giant fountain spewing what smelled like shit. I didn't take a picture because I was more worried about not dying due to the smell. The tailwind we had that day was nice until it meant that the shit fountain smell stayed with us for about three miles. After 60 miles we made it to the Ohio state capital, had a sparsely attended ride along, and had a great show at Byrne's Tavern.
Hot

Scenic
Shit fountain (artist's rendition)

If you think your capital loves America as much as Columbus you're mistaken 

State house. I think, I wasn't really paying attention

The person on the ride along


Next stop was Wooster. An odd little town. Very picturesque. We had a beautiful ride through town with some folks from a local bike store, Ride On. I didn't take my camera with me, but let me tell you it was gorgeous. We were told no cursing or mentioning of sex. Which seems like an odd request for most bar shows, but most bars don't have a giant bronze Jesus in the corner staring at you.
If you thought the back of the room was judgey at your show...

Letting our hair down after letting Jesus down
After Wooster we headed to the opposite of it, Kent Ohio. A college town where we performed right before a metal band. We ran into a little bit of rain, but had a great ride and met up with some local comics and the fine folks at Kent Cycle.
The bottom of the sign says "business in rear." I giggled for about 10 miles

A Busch can next to a cornfield. The most American thing I've ever seen

COWS!

Wall St. Not so special now, are you New York?

The rain made Serenity a dirty girl

Very dirty girl

Riding to the show

Me, looking none too pleased that Dean is passing me

Apple Jacks 2013. We eat what we like!

After Kent we were in the home stretch. It was a quick, but very wet ride to Cleveland which we ended at the very pretty Brandywine Falls. Dean forgot his rain gear, but luckily I brought a cheap Detroit Tigers poncho for him to wear.
Masello reluctantly rocking the poncho

Looking as cool as I can in a ladies raincoat
Winners!
Cleveland was our last stop. Didn't do a whole lot of riding, but had a lot of fun there. We had a power outage at our first venue. Somehow was able to line up another one, have everyone meet up there, and have a great show at a place called Speakeasy. We spent the 48 hours in Cleveland replenishing the whiskey that our bodies were needing. We finished with our largest show. A hundred plus of some of the rowdiest middle aged folks this side of the Mississippi. 

All in all the whole Laugh Strong: Tour De Comedy experience was awesome. I can't thank Dean enough for all the hard work he put into it. And I really hope I get to do it again next year. This took a lot longer than I thought it would so I've decided not to proofread it even a little bit. I hope you understand.