Thursday, August 31, 2006

Slow up the slide, and Jazz Hands.

Sarah brought to my attention that Anna Goodale and others from her boat (well, everyone in the boat) won the World Rowing Championship. This is truly fantastic.
Have you ever won anything? Probably.
Have you ever been champion of the world? No. No you haven't.
They have.
I have.
When I was five I won the Connect Four Ultimate Championship. Granted, it was against my mother and I think she deemed me world champion just so she could stop playing. But still.
Then, once at a bowling alley I rolled the ball as close to a pin as you could without knocking it over and was given the title by my Uncle Buck. Actually, this wasn't me. It was Maizy, and that was in Uncle Buck. So to be fair, that doesn't count.
Right, so i've never been champion of the world. I made that up.
But actual WORLD competitions are the only true venues for WORLD Champions. I hate after the "world" series or the NBA finals the players talk in interviews about how it feels to be champion of the world. Yeah, you beat a team from Arizona, let's widen the scope, huh Stretch?
I read an article yesterday that China is introducing a new reality show to find 2 coxswains for their National Men's and Women's Rowing Teams. This is true.
The show, called "China Olympic Coxswain Competition" (good title) will weed through amateurs looking for short people who can yell and steer boats.
Reality TV has apparently become huge in China. Their version of American Idol, "Super Female Voice" (who is the genius behind these show names?! They should name cars. "Call it, Nissan Red Car") had 400 million viewers for it's finale. Idol had 36 million. So i guess China Olympic Coxswain Competition has a good chance at second place in the ratings right behind CSI: Yangtze River. I'm really into that one.
The Nationwide search begins next month and producers say, "star power is a must...karaoke and dance segments are being considered."
Well, naturally. Because anyone who has ever rowed knows that when your muscles are screaming, you can't breathe, your legs are burning those last 500 meters, and a championship is on the line, you need your coxswain to stand up and flap ball change, singing "The Tide is High" over her coxbox.

Oh, and today is Michelle's Birthday and I couldn't type this without thinking about rowing in a pair with her. Truly, some of the funniest stories of my life. It's not funny for you but one time her oar broke and i had to row, with only one oar back to the dock, basically in circles. I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

God Has Drinking Problem.

OK, so i have a theory about the universe and religion as a whole. It's as good as yours so don't hate.
Every Sunday after church (which for God, is just looking in the mirror while he eats a bowl of frosted mini-wheat's) God has some of his buddies over and they play beer pong. Said Buddies include Shakespeare, Thomas Edison (God always gives him a hard time, "Hey, I said let there be light, you just decided to make lamps.") Da Vinci, Freud, Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Keller (even though she never adds much to the festivities), and Louis Pasteur because he always cleans up after.
So they put on music which basically consists of God pointing and Foreigner magically popping up to play "Cold As Ice." God loves that song, mere mortals could never understand why.
So after eating jalapeno poppers and playing way too many rounds of the pong, God and his friends start to think about things that could happen on Earth that would make them laugh. Here are some recent examples.

1) Pluto is no longer a planet.
Galileo was in the corner with his 9th red cup and goes, "That'd be funny, right? Cuz, you know, they all think it's a planet."

2) Reports have gone out that Osama Bin Laden had a very intense crush on Whitney Houston and that he wanted to kill Bobby Brown so he could have her.
This was actually Freud's idea. He thought it would be funny to find old footage of Osama's mom that looked like Whitney from the Bodyguard video. Plus, he thought the combination of the two would be a great way to find the reclusive terrorist. Because no doubt, after a few months together he would be taking her to court on abuse charges. She's got a lot of anger, that one.

3) President Bush reportedly read "The Stranger" by Albert Camus on his ranch in Texas and then discussed the foundations of Existentialism with White House spokesperson Tony Snow.
Simone de Beauvoir suggested this. She thought the idea that people would even believe Bush can read was funny in and of itself. The story, of a man who kills an Arab for absolutely no reason, was her high-brow commentary. She's a smart lady.

4).........
That was Helen's suggestion. Somebody should really stop inviting her over.

9, out.

Sunday calls to my sisters and parents mean hearing different stories about all of them told by all of them. It's like a giant cross country game of telephone. Well actually, that's exactly what it is.
Like when my dad said a few weeks ago:
-So you knew this whole time that Vanessa adopted a dog from a miniature person?
Dad, that doesn't even make sense.

Anyway, Ness was the first to call Sunday morning and said that she had just gotten off the phone with Sabrina who was going into a yoga class with her friend, September.
-Sorry, what?
-Her friend's name is September. And Brina said she ends all of her text messages "9" and obviously Sabrina thought that was incredibly clever.
I sat in bed trying to fight an eye roll. I really don't like to be cynical until around the noon hour.
I finished talking to ness and called the parentals.
-Hey, did you know Sabrina takes yoga with a girl named September?
-What? No, she never said. Steve, Sabrina is starting yoga next month.
-No, mom, that's not what i said.
So i finished talking to them and waited for bri to call which never happens so i finally broke down and dialed her. As it was ringing I had a little kid grin thinking about what i would say. Hi, 2? this is 11, is 9 there?
She answered. miracles!
-Hey sister, how are you?
-Oh, awesome thanks. All nice and stretched out. Just got out of yoga with my friend Janvier.
-Shut up! Do you and nessa talk about everything i say?!
-Um, yes. I have to know, was that girl even born in September?
-No.
-Right, of course not.
-It was funny though because we went out to lunch after and my friend January was working there. So i said September, this is January, January, this is September.
-And the people behind you are thinking, dude. it's August.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sorry, Jane No Longer Works Here.

So the other day Nessa called and asked me to look for a flight for her to go back home next month. I really hate doing such things because once i get started I'm convinced I can find a better airfare somewhere else and 2 hours later my eyes hurt and i end up paying a crazy fare anyway.
But somehow I ended up looking through the travel sites and i thought, wait, why am i doing this?
so i found her a flight, and quoted the fare.
-OK, and what's their policy on traveling with pets?
-Um, I don't know maybe you should call them
-Please just go to that website and check. I'll hold.

So this started a little skit of a girl named jane (me) who worked at golden gate travel searching for flights for vanessa noelle.

-Hi, ms. martin? it's jane, from golden gate travel. The Airtran policy is $65 each way for your dog, but i think i read that if it's a seeing eye dog, it's free, so maybe use that angle.
-I don't think they'll believe my mini pinscher is a seeing eye dog.
-If they give you a hard time, just say you're blind and that you thought it was a puppy.
-Those jerks at the seeing eye dog place told me he'd grow!
-OK, so there's your information, just let me know if you'd like to book it.
-yes, I would. and could you please just put that on your credit card?

This was followed by me laughing at her until I hung up. I'm always getting calls from my family asking me to book flights and i HATE IT.
So, cut to today, I'm out on the roof, enjoying some Peroni's and my mother calls.
-Hello Deb.
-Ah, hello, may I speak to Jane please?
-Excuse me?
-Jane. This is golden gate travel correct?

Here's the thing about my family. They seem to hold on to fiction a little too tightly.

-Yes, of course, one moment please.
Here's the thing about me. I do too.

-Hello Mrs. Martin, this is jane, I believe I spoke with your daughter Vanessa regarding a flight to Rochester for the "Yup, Still Nothing to Do Here" Festival.
-Haha, oh, jane. Listen, I was wondering if you could book that flight for me since I'm sure to make an error. I have all the dates and credit card information, it shouldn't take but a minute.
So i reluctantly climbed back into my apartment from the roof, not letting my mother in on the fact that I was a little drunk (Oh jessie, please don't drink during the day)
I sign online and look for the flight AGAIN, thinking, wait, why am I doing this? all the while listening to my mother inquire about any travel specials my agency has going on. which, of course, I offered. Perhaps because I had nice little buzz going, I really didn't mind, and the conversation was actually leading me to believe that I was a travel agent. Maybe it was more than a buzz.
I booked the flight and asked her if there is anything else I could do, she said something about Bora Bora, and I said goodbye. After hanging up i realized that during my drunken booking process I had typed my name as the passenger, not my sister. so i call my mother back to tell her she needed to call the airline and switch it.
-Jane! I don't think you can do that.
-Mom, stop it! figure it out.
-Jane, it's pretty unprofessional to yell at the customer. May I speak to your supervisor?
my mom's funny but i was getting annoyed. I hung up with her and called nessa to bitch her out for not taking care of her own travel plans.
-Hi Jane.
i hung up.
Something about the combination of a few Italian beers, a fictional existence and booking flights online when i really don't want to leaves me confused as to what I'm really mad about. I think it's something to do with no commission but maybe i'm just hungry.

I'm for Peace, But Food Fights Are Cool.

The cover of Sunday's New York Times Magazine read, "Food Fights" followed by a little explanation about school lunches and fat kids. It might have been more sensitive than that, I can't remember.
I jumped to the article and found that the food fight reference was just a clever play on words related to combating unhealthy foods in America's schools.
I wanted to read about food fights.
Growing up, I was simultaneously amazed and confused by school cafeterias. I remember sitting at the table in kindergarten wondering who the ladies were who just walked around. They never served food, they just sauntered through the rows of tables pointing at people. I would quickly learn that these too, were ladies of lunch, but of a different breed. These were the ladies who would grant you permission to walk to the trash, permit you the freedom to buy a slush-puppy, and regulate the volume of an entire room with only the flickering of lights. In a world of Styrofoam trays and small carton milks, they were Gods--who also happened to wear tapered jeans.
I learned to respect their power but also to use it for personal gain. By simply raising my hand I could have the attention of one of these ladies and implore them to help with my Capri Sun straw (why were those so hard to get in?). It was like having a waitress only once they helped open your fruit cocktail, they yelled at you to be quiet, so maybe it wasn't like that.
On our last day of eighth grade word spread early first period that there was to be a food fight during lunch--because nothing says "goodbye grade school" quite like throwing your Lunchables ham at someone's face.
I remember walking around all day completely nervous, that great giddy excited nervous where you're smiling for no reason. This was my first food fight. AH!
So there we all were, sitting in the cafeteria. Those ladies were still walking around though I'm not sure why because I don't remember needing to ask permission to throw away my trash as an 8th grader. But there was a tangible energy in the room as people held on to their pizza crusts and pudding cups. The noise grew louder as we all waited for a single battle cry (They'll never take our freedom!...fries!)
Suspecting something was up, (could it have been the "food fight" chants?) The walking ladies started to demand that everyone throw their food away. "But, um, I'm not done with this clump of corn and um, meat."
The noise grew to an intense level as the other walking ladies ran to the lights and flicked them on and off repeatedly only adding a strobe light effect to our VIP room of chaos. So this continued, all of us waiting for that first brave soul to fire the chicken nugget that would be heard 'round the world, when in walked our Vice Principal.
It's common knowledge that Vice Principals have no other job description other than to be scary. This man did his job very well. (my high school vice principal, not so much. I ran into her at a jethro tull concert one summer and she was wearing a fringe leather jacket. Scary, but in all the most hilarious ways). Anyway, he walks in and the cafeteria fell silent.
He stood where everyone could see him and screamed that our behavior was unacceptable, that lights on and off meant silence, that he knew about the food fight, and that if even a single chip was found on the floor, we would all be held after school.
And then, (and I need to tell you, this is 100% true and perhaps one of only five moments in my life where timing, collective brilliance, and movie-scene magic have come together at once to create a goose bump memory) the Vice Principal said, "You will NOT throw food, and you will NOT speak for the remainder of lunch. I don't want to hear a single BOO out of you."
And literally, a three beat pause elapsed and the entire cafeteria erupted in a unison "boo."
A good old fashioned booing, and it held strong for minutes only heightened by the flickering lights.
Why he chose to say "a single boo out of you" I'll never know. But I'll be eternally grateful.
And that a room full of a few hundred kids could be so quick witted as to break into boo without so much as a cue, is better than any food fight of which I can think.
I was hoping the NYT would have had an article similar to this story. Instead, I read about why chubby kids should eat sweet potatoes.
Boo.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Don't Let The Bed Bugs Bite.

The most insane situations of your life will most likely turn into the most hilarious. There's a comfort there.

Due to Florida's swamp-like climate, strike that, swamp climate, the state has some of the grossest bugs in the world. When me and Bri were down in Tampa helping Ness move, we were witness to one such bug. Our immediate reactions were of fear, disgust, screams, and paralyzed limbs. Note: all of these are understatements. Sabrina and Ness stood frozen in the bathroom, I ran out the front door but kept an eye on it. Seeing it was bad, but losing it would be worse. And while I wasn't about to kill it, knowing where it was so someone could kill it was the most I could do in that situation. Eventually, someone from the building walked by, looked past our collective crazy, and killed it. The next day we bought every can of RAID that her local Wal-Mart stocked.
So Nessa called tonight after experiencing a repeat episode of that panic. It was raining today by her and Florida rain creates an unbearable heat so she opened the door to air out her apartment. When she did, "the biggest grossest bug in the world" (entomology description) scurried in. She tried to get her little dog Stella to kill it, but apparently Stella was even scared of this thing and ran into her crate. Ness lost sight of the bug, tried to find it to kill it, no dice.
Here are the steps she took to rectify the situation, in her words.
"Every time I get up to walk around, I have a can of raid in each hand. I'm in bed now, wearing knee socks, he tightest sweats i own so that nothing can get in, a long sleeve shirt and a hoodie that covers half my face. I don't want this thing to crawl on me. Do you have any idea how hot I am right now?!"
She said that when she spoke to my mom earlier that day and shared what she was wearing (the outfit has been rocked for most of the day) my mother started screaming at her to change saying, "You'll be dehydrated by morning! Take those sweats off, I mean it!"
It was just too funny. The idea of Ness sleeping with cans of raid under her pillow and my mom worried about death by sweat suit.
I felt bad about the bug but there was nothing I could do to help her, which I explained and she agreed.
So we switched topics and she shared that she was watching "America's Got Talent" at the moment. I almost hung up on her for saying that but out of scary bug pity, didn't.
Ness: Some guy is playing the guitar with an egg beater. Uh, wait, now he's using a weed-wacker. Oh, Brandy is not having it, she's shaking her head saying, Oh hell no.
Me: Yea, I don't care.
Ness: Oh, look at this guy. His hair! You gotta see this! His hair is something else.
Me: Ness! I don't care!
Ness: Earlier there was a rapping granny (recites granny rap)
Me: Dude, are you just using me to talk to until you fall asleep so you don't have to think about the bug?!
Ness: pause.
Me: Thought so. Night bugs.
Ness: STOP!
and i hung up.

Fears are hard to overcome but sometimes you just have to layer up, sleep with some raid, and face them on your own. I think she'll understand that in the morning, that is, if the bug doesn't kill her and she's not dehydrated.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

b-baby, Baby Fish-Mouth! Baby Fish-Mouth!

Baby talk? What's that, that's not a saying.
Oh but baby fish mouth is sweeping the nation.

"I was sitting with my friend Arthur Cornrom in a restaurant. It was in a cafeteria and this beautiful girl walked in and I turned to Arthur and I said, Arthur, you see that girl? I'm going to marry her, and two weeks later we were married and it's over fifty years later and we are still married."

Right, so for me, an opening to a movie doesn't get much better. Whenever I hear that old man's voice it's an instant comfort, like the smell of gravy or something. When Harry Met Sally has long been my go-to movie. I can't find a single thing wrong with it and it always reminds me of home-- watching it on sick days, or snow days, or Friday nights with popcorn or Saturday mornings in sweats. I watched it my first night at college freshman year when my roommate had yet to move in and I was a little scared. I've watched it every first night in a new apartment since then as a way of making that new space feel like home. It's just this fantastic story with great lines that everyone in my family can quote with ease and so it's always been my favorite.

I was saddened today to read about the death of Bruno Kirby. He died after a struggle with Leukemia. I truly think he helped make that movie so great, and some of his lines are classics in my family. Like when my parents call me at 6 in the morning. "No one I know would call at this hour."

Anyway, not to be debbie downer. Just to say that I love that movie, and all of Kirby's quotes in it.

-.Restaurants are to people in the eighties what theatre was to people in the sixties. I read that in magazine
-I wrote that.
-Get outta here.
-No, I did, I wrote that.
- I've never quoted anything from a magazine in my life, that's amazing, don't you think that's amazing? And you wrote it!?
- I also wrote "Pesto is the quiche of the eighties."
-Get over yourself!
-I did!


-You made a woman meow?

-I like saying it's in the den, it's got a nice ring to it.

-Well, he's the reason I became a writer, but that's not important.

-What could be worse than Mr. Zero knowing?

-I thought you said you liked it! (I WAS BEING NICE!)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Little Boxes Made of Ticky-Tacky.

This just in. I like TV...a lot.
People tend to have a facial expression similar to eating sour fruit when I say this, and I can understand why. For the most part, television sucks. We have an insane amount of channels and most of the day, there's nothing on worth watching. This was completely highlighted when I came home the other night to find Raffi watching NEXT on mtv. I can't think of a better example of the lows to which people will succumb in order to continue with the great American pastime of television viewing.
Because of the lack of quality programs, watching TV has such insane social stigmas attached to it and you have to start apologizing for yourself and somehow fit in that you like public broadcasting. OK, whatever. You know what I like? I like the Food Network. I like Rachel Ray and Emeril Live (people clap for ingredients! I love that!). I like Gilmore Girls. That after all these seasons the writers can still be so sharp is inspirational, AND entertaining. I like old reruns of classic sitcoms and even attempts at making new ones (You're not going to beat Gervais, but the American Office is spot on). I think Curb should be required viewing for anyone who has ever laughed, likes to laugh, or would like to laugh. But if you get me started, I probably will never get off the soapbox when it comes to my favorites, Sopranos and Weeds.
Because good stories were always my first love and these 2 shows take all the best things out of all the best books I've ever read, and breathe new life into them, making for something outlandishly entertaining, I have to stand strong in my position that you shouldn't feel bad about watching TV.
Sopranos only has like 8 episodes left and will probably air them sometime 2007 if we're lucky, so I was super excited that Weeds is back on Showtime. I'll spare you the rundown but I just need to say that the writing is brilliant and worth every bit of your time. The opening to the second season didn't disappoint, and actually, it might have been better than anything written in the first. Plus, I really think Mary-Louise Parker can do no wrong and this show only helps to back that up. The first season is out on dvd now--do yourself a favor.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Brave New World.

I've been poked, puffed, prodded, screened, careened, padded-down, felt-up, man-handled, scan-handled, taken shoes off, removed shirts, had strangers trifle through my things and lost about $300 in loose change. And that's just on MUNI.
Trying to get on a flight is far more intense.
With the news coming out of London, it seems that air travel and the security around it are on the precipice of change...again.
I remember one year as children my grandma came up to visit around Halloween. During her trip we carved numerous pumpkins and somehow the pumpkin cutter ended up in her purse. This was during the days when anyone who wanted to could go to the gate. Nowadays you need to submit a urine sample just to enter short-term parking. So there we all stood as the screener pulled the little knife with a jack-o-lantern handle out of her bag. All of us, including security, shook our heads and laughed. Grandma!
If that happened today she would be whisked away by the FBI, and declared an enemy to freedom by the White House. Surely the days when anyone who emptied their pockets could stand by gates seems like a different world entirely. The fact that water bottles and shampoo are no longer allowed makes my grandma and that pumpkin cutter story seem like public enemy #1. It's crazy to think about how quickly things change.
Don't get me wrong. It's obvious heightened security measures are needed, and I really don't mind. I arrive hours before my flights anyway because airport people watching is unparalleled. But usually one way of a return trip, I'm asked to step aside while security pats me down and messes up the carry-on I've tried so hard to neatly pack. But it's for the safety of the world, so I suck it up. On the first flight I took after 9/11 I was patted down by a guard and began to feel a bit awkward with how thorough she was. I was used to the keys in the tray security check. Finally I said, "sorry, I like to take things slow." She didn't find this funny. I was rather amused.
So for whatever reason it is that I'm always screened further, (maybe I should stop flying with my 'Who Told You To Put The Balm On?' t-shirt) I take it as a chance to make security smile.
-Well, now you owe me dinner.
-Do you even remember my name?
-You work here, right?
-That's the spot. (note: I've never actually said this)
I've never been successful. Obviously combating terrorism is important and I'm extremely grateful they take their jobs so seriously, and have never had me detained for being an ass.
So without going into a huge rant, we live in a world completely different from what our parents might have hoped for us. It's true, and it sucks. That liquids, lotions, gels, toothpastes, etc., have been banned is only the beginning. I imagine at some point, all forms of matter will be prohibited. Those oxygen masks will suddenly make sense because you can't bring your own air on board. And then you might be inclined to put down your Sky-Mall catalog and give that flight attendant a bit more attention as he demonstrates how to put it over your face.
I read an opinion article in which someone suggested no bags whatsoever be allowed on passenger flights and that a second plane, carrying only bags, flies behind that flight. If the author of that suggestion isn't 7, let me tell you what's wrong with it.
A) Who would want to fly that plane?!
B) Two flights for every plane now in the air would do wonders for that whole global warming thing. Your idea for double the emissions is all well and good but don't you dare complain about the heat when you land in Reykjavik.
Here's the thing.
The threat of ANYTHING has always existed. Wrath of God (Biblical Times), Persian Invasion (Ancient Greece), Grendel (whenever is was that Beowulf took place), trans fats (Biblical Times, Book of Oreo), whatever it is, it seems a fear must exist.
So while thousands of passengers threw away half of their belongings before heading to the gate to be rubbed down by a few more people, they accepted it as the necessary evil of our time.
I won't pretend to have a point here. It's just sad more than anything. I've no idea how to stop people from wanting to blow things up, and maybe taking people's drinks away is a good way to prevent it, I don't know. But in our daily lives, away from beeping gates, maybe treating people with respect, and helping spread tolerance through simple kindness is a better way to start.
Drink plenty of fluids people. Peace.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Come On Jones.

Walking around the city you begin to experience a bit of unexpected frustration with the way other people walk--or don't walk. It's something like road rage, only you're not in a car, so instead of beeping you have an overwhelming eagerness to push people out of the way, or if they have a hoodie on, pull the hood over their head--and then push them out of the way. It's completely unhealthy and I understand that. That's why it's absolutely necessary all my pants have pockets.
But there are rules for the road and I think we should all come together and discuss possible rules for walking areas. Or if we can't do that, at least let me vent about it. Thanks.
First, what's up with the people who insist on stopping at the top of escalators?
These are usually the same people who stand on the left side, looking at the ceiling, thinking, "I'm not moving, but i AM moving. Whoa." as you try the polite cough behind them signaling they should get out of the way, which, of course, they never do. So you wait behind them, taking deep breaths realizing patience is important to your being, only to bump into them when they come to a complete halt at the top. Gah! Why aren't you wearing a hood?!
I don't understand these people, and truly, it's like 8 out of 10. Next time you're on an escalator watch the people getting off. Most do the timid step-off/stand there combo like the speed of the moving stairs was far too intense and their bodies need a chance to readjust. People, the ride is over! Movement is up to you now.
OK, the second problem lies with the stroll. Please reserve your strolls for parks and venues where disposable cameras are sold. A city street is not an appropriate locale for a stroll. I'm sorry but you have to decide which world you want to live in. You can have the world of nanosecond technology and Instant On-Demand everything with no strolls allowed, or you can be Amish. You can't have both.
And this one here's for the ladies, or the fantastically forward guys. If you can't walk in heels, DON'T WEAR THEM. I was walking behind a girl tonight who was literally hanging from her boyfriend while her feet moved in the most uncomfortable of steps in these ridiculous heels. Heels are sexy, they just are. But you know what's sexier? Being able to support your own body weight as you walk down the street. HAWT!!! High heels/high tops, whatever. Just make sure you can move. Sorry to rant, just had to get it out. Oh, and don't even get me started on parents who walk their children on leashes. Have you seen this?! They're everywhere!! I was in the airport and heard a parent say, "Liam, please come here so I can untangle your leash."

"Don't get me started, don't even get me started."

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Mutes May Be Onto Something.

When do kids learn about sarcasm?
Middle children no doubt pick up on the subtleties of twisting words for ironic effect faster than others in order to justify the way their families treat them. "We love you all the same, buuut, if we had to choose, we love Jessica the least."
My parents are hilarious. And also, mildly abusive.
I don't remember the exact moment of learning about sarcasm, like I do the exact moment of learning to read. Hours on end, going over the pages of Are You My Mother with my mom until the words resonated. And after reading the entire story aloud, I looked to my Italian/Filipino mother and thought, no seriously--are you?
But I think I became aware of sarcasm around the time my parents dropped the "if you don't have anything nice to say..." bomb. My mother used to wait with us at the end of our driveway for the school bus and when we would get on she would yell out, "Be kind!" That always annoyed me because it was obvious no one else on the bus had gotten that memo. So the coupling of the "don't say anything at all" advice with the direction to be kind, left me and my sisters silently smiling as kids told us we ate poop.
And I guess around this time it occurred to me to ask, could you say something maybe not so nice, if you did it in a joking matter? New York and my family said yes. And so it was.
Later in life I read that people are only half kidding when they are kidding and that 50% of it is true. This made me nervous because I had previously worked out that 87% of the time, I'm not serious, and therefore when I thought I was kidding, people probably thought I was telling the truth. So on top of the 13% of the time I was being genuinely serious, people thought that half of that 87% was real, which I guarantee it was not. So 43.5% of the kidding time I was not being kind, or funny, and people thought I was a complete ass. Or was it actually a higher percentage? Carry the two...and then my head burst into flames so I put the pencil down.
But it's all so much to think about. Truth, irony, sincerity, wit, all coming together to form this confusing mess in which we hope to relate to each other. I'm all for sarcasm but I also have the socially crippling tendency to over-analyze dialogue. So while I totally appreciate tongue-in-cheek conversation, I often walk away thinking, wait, was that for real?
Gah, does she have a point?!
Oh, right.
So I was reading an article about the Iranian social principle of taarof, which is a practice of insincerity. It's a concept of telling people what they want to hear even if you don't mean it, inviting people to dinner when you really don't want them there, and dishing out false praise, but it's all considered polite. The article says, "The way Iranians themselves describe it, is to say that being direct and telling the truth are not prized principles in Iran."
OK, so this sort of blew my mind. Bringing this up is not to play ugly American dissing Middle East, it's a social reality there, and Iranians accept it freely, according to the article. Much the way I think Americans accept sarcasm as a social reality here. But the thing is, we know when we're kidding and work to let the people we're talking with know we're kidding too (if only to avoid the math). In Iran, taarof is used to keep people constantly guessing if you're sincere. The article says, "In the West "yes" generally means yes. In Iran, "yes" can mean yes, but it often means maybe or no...In Iran you praise people and you don't mean it. You promise things and you don't mean it. People who live here understand that."
Understand what?!!
If Iranians understand that what people are telling them is insincere why would they even bother conversing? I guess, because there's that chance that it might be true? I don't know, it's so confusing to me. I wouldn't last 3 seconds in Iran. Despite the exaggerated eye rolls after everything I said peering out from beneath my burkha, I would be socially paralyzed talking to people--"OK, holmes, for reals-- what do you mean?!"
Remind me never to go shopping for jeans in Iran. Yea, really? They look good? Aw, thanks! And can i ask you? out of me, brina and ness? who do you love the most?

Boy, I'm tired.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Danger of Stuffed Art.

The Associated Press reported that a guard dog in London ripped apart a collection of rare teddy bears on display at a children's museum. The collection, valued at nearly $1 million, was torn apart and eaten after the dog "went berserk."
It's instances like this that lead me to believe absurdity is the binding force of the cosmos.
Why would you have a dog "guard" chew toys??
Life is just too funny to be ignored.
In related news, the curators of the Hope Diamond/Snausages exhibit have decided to re-evaluate their use of guard dogs.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Rock!

Can I get a Hell Yea?!
So I've been trying like crazy to get tickets to the sold-out Editors concert at the Fillmore next week but they've been super hard to come by. I gave juliet their cd for her birthday hoping she'd fall in love with them and think that going to the concert with me would be really neat for her and thus, the best bday present ever. Who needs Kiehl's when you can hear Britain's fresh indie sound, live? skin care is overrated. just playing, that was a nice gift.
So because I have a decent level of intrinsic rad, I finally found a pair!!
Juliet, I'll be calling you, don't even think about bailing.

Oh, right. Because scoring these tix helps solidify my SF hipster street cred, I can comfortably say that Justin Timberlake's new song Sexyback is AMAZING. It just is. And Fergie has a solo track called London Bridge that is driving me wild. Good stuff people, I'm not embarrassed to say it.

It Takes Two and $15.4 million to Tango.

Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have demonstrated that generosity of wealth has the power to change the world for good.
Mimi Monica Wong has demonstrated that wealth can improve one's cha-cha.
In Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Kate Linebaugh reported that Wong, the top private banker for HSBC in Asia, was dealing with legal issues regarding a payment contract of $15.4 million for 8-years of unlimited Latin-dance instruction.
I swear to you, this is true.
Wong, 61, said the price was worth it because it had been a lifelong dream of hers to dance in the Ballroom pro-am circuit.
Yes. Every young girl's dream.
Wong's first choice was to ride a unicorn to and from work, but later decided that Ballroom dancing offered more social opportunities. You know, because it isn't Friday night in Hong Kong without some Hennessy and competitive ballroom. Listen to some Asian Hip-Hop, they make that explicitly clear.
Wong's up-front payment of $8 million-- cash-- went to her instructors, Mirko Saccani and his wife, 15-time World Latin Dance Champion, Gaynor Fairweather.
Note: I think Ms. Fairweather was awarded champion for 15 consecutive years because no one else showed up. During that span of time the Macarena was HUGE and most dancers couldn't be bothered with anything else.
Anyway, Wong is now suing both instructors for that initial payment and they are counter-suing for the yet unpaid $7.4 million. The entire legal battle will be accompanied by the accordion.
The reason the deal went sour was because of an incident that took place at the Li Hua restaurant in Hong Kong, "a favorite afternoon dance venue"--because, you know, those exist. Ms. Wong and a group of other women were taking part in a mock competition-- because the other ones should be taken seriously?--and her form was off. The article says,
"That day, the banker was heavier in her steps than usual, according to statements in court. In front of fellow dancers, Mr. Saccani shouted at her to 'move your arse' and called Ms. Wong a 'lazy cow,'"
Other witnesses testified that Mr. Saccani said, "If you do it again Monica, I'll smash your head against the wall."
Saccani denies using anything but motivational language.
I'm inclined to believe him here. While I've never Ballroom danced competitively, I was involved in Tots Tumbling (until I grew to be 5'8" as a 3-year old and they kicked me out). One day while goofing off on my somersaults my coach yelled, "Do it again Monica, and I'll throw you out a window." People are always forgetting my name. But he was motivating me. And when I failed to grasp the concept that time, and was tossed out a window, I went back to the mat and owned that floor exercise.
But that's another story.

If you think $15.4 million seems too extreme for dance lessons, remember that they were unlimited. So even though it breaks down to about $5000 a day, she could go in for 2 or three lessons if she wanted. That's convenient. Also, as her skills increased and she entered bigger competitions, there were added expenses such as travel, entry-fees, costumes, and trophies. In Ballroom it's BYOT.
The article claimed that the lessons paid off. At the 2003 Emerald Ball DanceSport Championships in LA, Ms. Wong won the title, "Top Gold Lady."
I have nothing to say about that.
Fairweather and Saccani claim they'd still like to work with Ms. Wong and complete their contract saying, "becuase she was paying us $15.4 million for dance lessons."
Above the 'this is my space, this is your space' direction, above the 'head up, arms out' instruction, the best dance and business lesson to take away from this story is, don't call people cows.
I find that's the moral to almost any epic tale.

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For legal purposes only: Intellectual property right laws defy you from stealing the ideas expressed herein for the purposes of making a ballroom mockumentary. Ms. Martin calls dibs.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Shaken And Stirred.

A while back at work, the Rooms Division Manager came up to our department and gave us an overview of our earthquake policy and plan. She started out by discussing the importance of the orange vest.
-Where are your orange vests?
-Um...what?
-Your vests! You need an orange vest!
Turns out they were in a box shoved behind old tea pots and a bag of rice cakes. I felt safe already.

Once she discovered where the vests were, she put one on, demonstrating how important they truly were. Obviously, it was an emergency if you felt the need to put this thing on. Also in the vest box were glow-sticks that would last for 12 hours so she broke one of those out and waved it around while continuing with her talk.
People, I usually don't need help finding ridiculous situations, they come to me. But it was as though air traffic control was literally pointing at the funny. When vest lady is waving around her magic light wand and screaming about the procedures to follow earth's wrath, I get the giggles.
So I'm trying to listen to her because I know at some point, it's possible I might need to use this information.
Vera: OK, so when the earthquake hits, you need to take cover. (looks around kitchen) All of this is dangerous, stay away from the kitchen, because most likely, that will set on fire. (keeps looking around) This fridges will most likely fall and so will all this shelving. OK, all of this glass will shatter, stay away from the glass.
Note: Remember that scene in The Jerk, "stay away from the cans!"? Well, there are glasses everywhere, we're screwed. I suggested we start serving champagne out of paper cone cups, but people didn't seem to hear that.
So finally she says, "I guess the only place to take cover here is under this desk." (my desk)
There's room for one, maybe. I called shotgun but no one seemed to hear that either.
"You'll have to share, just squeeze in there."
So all of this was ├╝ber comforting. Luckily, I would go out in style with my orange vest.
And hey, what was the point of that stupid thing if we were all going to perish squished together under a desk anyway??
Vera: Once the earthquake is over, you will need to make your way up to the guest floors and help housekeeping check the rooms for people.
Thought Bubble: Excuse me?
Me: Excuse me?
Vera: We will need to account for all the guests, they'll know who you are since you're in the vest.
Ah yes, of course. Nothing says Help is on the Way quite like fluorescent nylon.
Me: Isn't it a little dangerous to make our way upstairs where there are glass skybridges?? If we can go up, why can't we go down? like, to the street, and far away?
Vera: It's our policy that every room be checked. And we can't just run out of the building, that's dangerous.
Honestly, at this point my eyes were like saucers. She couldn't be serious. Tony kept giving me this look as if to say, shut up jessica, but I couldn't help myself. No one had ever told me I was Room Service Order Taker/Search and Rescue. I'm all for helping people, but don't they have, I don't know, search and rescue people who don't ask about salad dressings for that?
Me: So do we get a bonus if we save people?
Vera: Excuse me?! (like i had just said something incredibly offensive about her mother--which i think I had.)
Me: Well, we'd be putting our lives in even greater danger going up to the sky bridge floors...
and then I stopped myself.
I work on the 37th floor. Even if i didn't feel like going up to drag people out of there $2700 a night rooms, I'd still have to go down 36 destroyed floors. Either way it wasn't looking good. I stopped fighting.
Vera: OK, good. And also, Jessica this is important. If guests should call to order alcohol, DO NOT, under any circumstances serve them.
Thought bubble:What, are you kidding me?
Me: What, are you kidding me?
Vera: This will be a very serious time and people are harder to direct if they've been drinking.
Me: Vera, I think you mean anything, right? If guests order anything, don't serve them.
Vera: (Confused stare. Slowly waving glow-stick.)
Me: Alcohol or cheese plate, they're not getting anything, that's just a no-brainer.
Vera: (Glow-stick.)
I gave up.
She left and we never really talked about it again. So since that day it's kind of been a knock on wood, I don't want to be a hero mind-set every time I go in there.

Cut to tonight. Enjoying some QUALITY chill.
sweat pants, check.
comfy couch, check.
Tivo list, check.
Watching the last few moments of The Hills, (don't judge) my entire apartment starts to shake. After like 5 seconds realizing it's not the train, I'm like, aw snap, the big one! I jump up, STAND THERE, and immediately get this visual of Vera in her effing vest, forgetting everything I should be doing. I'm not sure how long it lasted but it felt like 5 minutes. Just standing there, thinking, this is how I'm gonna go. My last thoughts of a middle-aged woman in bright orange waving around a little stick.
It ended, I remained standing, and thought, well, I'm an idiot.
Thinking of becoming a volunteer firefighter. I have a real knack for emergency situations.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Snakes On A Plane.

Truthfully, all I really wanted to write was 'Snakes On A Plane' as the title of this post, and "Naturally." as the text.
Fin.

But the buzz surrounding this film is too great and too annoying not to comment on further.
I don't have a problem with bad movies, per se. Actually, I sort of love them. A really bad movie can make for a truly amazing viewing experience, see: Mystery Science Theater, they elevated bad movies and bad movie commentary to a high art form.
But I think studios have missed the boat with bad movies. If they're going to be bad, fine, play that up. But don't charge me $10 for something you think is really good, but actually sucks. Like anything else, it should be what it is. Most bad movies are like 24-hour diners trying to play it up for a Michelin Guide rating . Dude, you're not going to get any stars so just break out the greasy menus and paper napkins. People love diners. Be a freaking diner.
After the initial preview hype of Snakes On A Plane, the studio sought to revamp it and make it an action/thriller with an R-rating. I'm sorry, 'Snakes on a Plane' is not the title for an action/thriller. Action/thriller/comedy, maybe. But then it couldn't have an R-rating because 13 year olds are the biggest demographic for those types of movies. But the studio has held on to this idea that a movie about snakes, on a plane (as the title suggests) has the power to become a serious, edge of your seat, summer thriller. Essentially, that's like saying 'Basic Instinct' could have been released as, 'Author with an Ice Cube Tray' and still had the same effect if Stone's character killed people with ice cube trays instead of the pick. Actually, don't steal that idea, I think I may be on to something.
To get the R-rating, this kid I work with said they had Samuel L. Jackson go back in and do voice overs, dropping some serious language that people would be inclined to use, if say, they saw snakes on a plane. One quote he said he read about is destined to be the most memorable in cinematic history. "Get these motherfucking snakes off this motherfucking plane."
I'm sorry, but if that line turns out to be true, no movies will be made after this. How can you possibly write anything better? We'll need to return to silent films.
Snakes On A Plane is destined to become a cult classic, and typing that makes a little piece of my soul fade away.
Raffi was saying that a group of his friends were talking about their favorite movie that they're embarrassed to say they like. He said 'Weird Science' but I don't think that counts because i know tons of people who love that movie. I said 3-Ninjas (I can quote the entire movie, and if given enough adult beverages, will) but Erik said that didn't count because it's a kid's movie. I'm taking a poll, please participate because I'm interested.
I'm not upset about Snakes On A Plane as a movie, but the way the industry is promoting it is ridiculous. It'd be like if the score from Gladiator was used for the Kangaroo Jack soundtrack. I don't mind bad movies. But I don't want to eat in a sticky booth while a woman named Peggy suggests wine pairings for my chicken-fried steak platter, you know?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Brina's Visit.











My sister was out here recently and we had a crazy good time. A few highlights:

-Her not knowing any of my movie quote references.

-I met the girl of my dreams.
"Jessica, you were totally flirting in there!"
"Do you think she saw me walk into that door?"
"Oh, definitely. Everyone saw."

-We were in the park and a mother essentially gave us her child.

-Sabrina got wasted in Napa after like 3 tastings and became hillllarious.
Bri: ROBERT MONDAVI!!!! LET"S GO THERE!
Me: We just came from there, drunk.
Bri: I'm STARVING!
Me: Let's get some fuckin frrrrench toast.
Bri:What? No, I want a snacker from KFC, that sounds good.