Monday, January 28, 2008

That's A First.

Have you ever pulled an abdominal muscle trying to open a jar?
Freakin strawberry preserves.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Eat Fresh.

Subway sandwich shops are probably the least offensive fast food chain. I mean, besides the fact that they all smell the same, that makes me a little sick. Do you think it's because of the bread? Or is it some trademarked Glade Plug-In with a ham smell? Either way it's trippy that the smell of Subway is so distinct. I was in a shoe store once and heard a girl say, "Ugh, it smells like Subway in here." And she was right, it really did. It doesn't bode well for the business if people are repulsed by the idea of a sandwich while looking for shoes.

But if "Super Size Me" had documented Morgan Spurlock eating Subway exclusively for a month it probably would have been boring more than anything else. I mean, Jared has worked that system for a while now and stripped to its essence, it's probably just a guy eating a lot of sandwiches.

Here's why I bring any of this up. The last few times I've been to Subway, the exact same series of events has taken place. And this is not at the same shop. This is a cross-sectional study I'm talking about. Tampa, NYC, Upstate NY, and some ridiculous setup inside a gas station the other day in Pennsylvania. The same thing. (Note: I have a paranoia that my life is secretly being taped for the purposes of a hidden-camera show and the fact that this keeps happening to me only helps solidify that theory.)

When I was in Tampa I noticed a sign that read, "Ask for the works" and showed a picture of every possible veggie. Since I always order the Veggie-Delite I thought, that's a time saver! How nice for me that I can limit my interaction with the kid making my sammy by simply saying "Veggie Delite with the works, please."

Right. I have to say that "The Works" has become the ongoing joke of my fast-food experience.

Clearly, corporate never got the memo about "the works" out to the people making sandwiches. But obviously something was sent out about totally ignoring the giant "Ask for the works" signs with pictures of veggies all over them.

To: Everyone making Sandwiches
From: Jared and Corporate
Re: Messing with this girl (picture of my face) and ignoring the signs that have images of veggies on them.

So for the last four times I've been into a Subway, this has been the exchange. I'm not kidding about any of this.
-Hi, can I get a 6-inch veggie delite, please.
-What kind of cheese?
-Um, no cheese but otherwise the works.
-What do you mean?
-The works. Like, every possible veggie.
-(pause, stare, wait for further instruction)
-Sorry, just everything.
-Wait, so you want cheese?
-Oh, sorry, no. No cheese, but everything else.
-Meat?
-Hmm, no. Sorry, just a veggie sub, with all of these veggies that you have in this area right here.
-Ok. You want lettuce?

This is where my eyes start to water. After that full exchange that happens EVERY time, they ALWAYS come back with, so you want lettuce? and I start to tear up. I always have to swallow my smile so I don't burst out laughing and it just gets worse as they work through all the toppings.

-Yes, lettuce, thank you. (eyes watering)
-You want tomato?
-(Laugh building, biting lips) Sure, tomato, thanks.
-Onion?
-(looking away from the counter so not to make eye contact and just nodding)

And this continues through every possible veggie. People, there are a lot of veggies on that sandwich. The other day I was so surprised that this was happening to me again, I literally had to grab napkins and wipe away tears as I was paying for my sandwich. The girl there who had had such a difficult time grasping the idea of the works was actually very sweet and asked with concern why I was crying. I shook it off saying I just really loved subs.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ahoy!

Juliet is currently off shore in the Gulf of Mexico doing important seismic research for Columbia. While I have no idea what that means, it sounds cool. There's a part of me that can't help but love the idea of being out on a boat, taking readings and looking at big confusing charts. While I wouldn't know how to, or really want to explain said charts, it all sort of appeals to the kid in me.

My childhood best friend and I used to play for hours in his backyard pretending that his jungle gym was a large ship. His backyard led to the Erie Canal so we used to run to the water, and then back up the slide for lookout. Sometimes we were pirates, sometimes just lost at sea, sometimes explorers. It didn't really matter. It was always the same basic formula: Out on a boat, lookout for other boats, make stew.

The only reason we had any backstory at all concerning what we were doing was so making "stew" seemed more important. Simply collecting mud and twigs isn't fun. But if you were lost and starving and unsure of your fate, you needed that stew. You needed it for survival, to keep you going until you found land that you recognized. That's what we kept telling ourselves for the full afternoons we spent collecting grass and leaves and soil and mixing it together in the McDonald's Halloween Happy Meal Bucket. "Hurry! We'll have to jump ship! Bring the stew!"

We never ate it of course. And we had no problem putting the bucket of glop down to go inside, eat real lunch, and then go back out to the stew. I spent a few solid summers of my life on this stew kick. Bored? Want to go out and make stew? You would think that it would get old, but you'd be so wrong.

Anyway, not sure why I brought all that up. I guess just because when I heard about Juliet's adventure it reminded me of little kid adventures and suspended disbelief, and how fun that can be. I've been thinking about her and her coworkers out on the water and wondering if they had to hold back shouting "Iceberg!" or "Land Ho!" or any of that.

She sent out an email yesterday with the subject, "Very hard at work." I opened it immediately wanting to know all about it and found only this picture.

Note the life-jacket. Note the napping. Note the lack of stew.
sigh.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Good Morning America, Indeed.

I'm not a fan of morning shows. It's all just too much. I think the Today Show is now 4-hours long, and it would need to be, what with the two and a half hours worth of greetings.

"Good Morning Ann"
"Good Morning Matt, Thank You. Morning Al. And good morning to you. Back to you Matt, thank you. Good morning."
"Thanks Ann. Good morning. And now let's send it back to Ann for a look at today's world news."
"Thanks Matt. Good Morning."

And then your head explodes.

Plus, these shows really think they can change pace and tone simply by tossing it to somebody else in the surrounding area.

"Authorities say this is the worst case ever recorded and that the world will never be the same. (pause) Now let's go out to Al who's grilling on the plaza."

"Thanks Ann. Good Morning. Who likes chicken?!"

And I get the feeling that all the other reports that fill in the hours are meant to be a joke played on the American people. It's the graphics they use, bullet-pointing the useless information they're dispensing. Matt Lauer will be covering sunglasses and a PowerPoint presentation will roll across the screen.

"Here are some tips when wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses should be worn on your head and should cover your eyes.
1) Wear on face.
Make sure your lenses are 100% UV protective.
2) Sunglasses should have lenses.
And I know a lot of people wonder if the tint of the lens affects protection. I asked local experts at the Sunglass Hut kiosk in the Manhattan Mall and they assure me it doesn't.
3) Tint Don't Matter.
As Always, all of this information can be found on our website."

Thanks, I'll be sure to print that out.

I can't digest hard-hitting news, music, national weather and useless reports that early in the morning. And I really don't think I need to. Throw in a little Willard Scott and I become quite confident that no one should start their day out with a combination of all these things. "Marjorie is 135 years old. She credits her long life to laughing, fishing on Sundays and oatmeal. Happy birthday, dear. You look fantastic. Now back to the studio."

"Thanks Willard, Good morning. News just in about the dangers of laughing, fishing and oatmeal, but first, this is Today on NBC."

Right. So if I can avoid the mess of these shows while drinking my coffee, I do. But flipping through this morning I saw that Diane Keaton was on Good Morning America and I had to stop. I love Diane Keaton. I would watch her on an Oxy-Clean infomercial. I just think she's great. I caught the interview halfway through a story about her stealing belts. I don't know the context but she sounded hilarious and I enjoyed it. And then she interrupted Diane Sawyer to tell her how beautiful she is and that she loves her lips and Sawyer became a little flustered. I swear they were flirting. It was wildly amusing. And then Keaton dropped the f-bomb and because it's live the word just sort of resonated around the studio. And that was also amusing. But really, what a refreshing way to start the day. A little sexual tension, some rough language and the 5-day forecast. Thank you and good morning.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Shh! I'm Listening To Reason!

Francis: Morning Pee-Wee.
Pee-Wee: Hello Francis.
Francis: Today's my birthday and my father says I can have anything I want.
Pee-Wee: Good for you and your father.
Francis: So guess what I want? (flips a handful of dollar bills)
Pee-Wee: A new brain!
Francis: No! Your bike.
Pee-Wee: ha! hahahahahaha! It's not for sale, Fran-CIS!
Francis: My father says anything's negotiable. (Pee-Wee rolls his eyes) Come on Pee-Wee! Remember the first time I saw your bike, you were riding it past my house and I ran out to tell you how much I liked it even way back then?
Pee-Wee: I love that story.

OK first off, that movie is brilliant. But I read an article in the NYT this morning about Michael Bloomberg and it sort of reminded me of this scene with Francis and Pee-Wee. If unfamiliar, Bloomberg is the billionaire Mayor of New York and political pundits have been hinting that he may or may not join the Presidential Race. Note: It must be nice to have a cushy job like political pundit, or sportscaster, or local weatherman, or telephone psychic. You can basically say anything you want if you say it confidently enough and if you turn out to be wrong just mention something about how nothing is ever really certain in (fill in your occupational field here).

Bloomberg can take his sweet tea time deciding if he wants to run because he'll use his own cash for his campaign. If it's his birthday and he wants a bike...that sort of thing. Not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, how great that Americans won't pump millions of dollars into commercials and flyers--dollars that could have been spent building a healthcare program for an entire state. On the other hand, it's pretty annoying that he can just wait around while somebody else makes the bike all cool and easy to ride, and then decide, hey, i want that bike. The bike is a metaphor. Are we on the same page?

Clearly, something has to change with campaign financing in the near future. I get that it takes a lot to run but I don't think we're all dumb enough to keep giving millions and millions of dollars to all of these candidates so they can fly around the country a few 100 times eating breakfasts with voters.

If someone came up with a plan to take campaign contributions and invest them, then agreed to set up programs using said dollars once elected, they'd have my support. And if they didn't win, to have a contingency program ready to pump all that money into, like education, or the environment, or alternative energy research. If today's candidates can't even get creative with how they spend money that's been given to them willingly, how can we expect them to care about the money that just flows in through taxes?

I get that transportation, ads, food, and offices cost money. But running for office should be like office Secret Santa--set a price limit. You're either going to run a really creative campaign on that price limit, or a really shitty one. Just depends on how clever you are. Every person will have x amount of dollars for their campaign. Any money raised after that will be invested. If you're doing well, you'll stay in the race longer and that contribution money will accrue interest, adding to the social policy you support. If you win the election, cool. People will be stoked their candidate won and you'll start your presidency off with this wicked new program that people support. If you don't win, fear not! That issue you believe in will still be served with all the money you've raised and set aside.

Ok, I know. But dare to dream, right?

Anyway, the Bloomberg thing ultimately worries me. Sitting back, waiting to see how everybody else does and if at the last moment it seems beneficial to him to get in on it, he will. Like that kid in a group lab who does nothing and then puts his name on the paper once the work is finished. I don't like that other candidates and their staffs have worked so hard only to have Francis possibly come along and say he could buy their bike.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

You Read My Mind.

Found this little "How to Read Minds" article online today. AOL featured it on its homepage with a link that said, "10 Mind-Reading Tricks (Really)."

I would have passed right by it had it not been for the "Really." I tend to believe anything that ends with "...really" because that seems like the ultimate marker of truth. I use "really" or more often, "no, seriously" all the time to emphasize that I'm making the truest point possible.

"Hey, you're on fire. No, seriously."

See? It works.

So I thought to myself, hey, reading minds could be helpful in certain situations, why not read that little article. After all, they are actual tricks to help you read minds. Really.

This is straight from the article written by M.E. Williams:

*Eye contact denotes interest. Brief eye contact denotes nervousness or some disinterest. Prolonged eye contact may denote an attempt at intimidation.

*Eyes looking straight up may denote contempt or annoyance, unless the conversation is religious in nature.

*Eyes looking to the left suggest that someone is imagining what something sounds like.

*Eyes looking to the right suggest that someone is recalling what something sounds like.

*Eyes looking up and to the left mean that someone is imagining a picture.

*Eyes looking up and to the right mean that someone is trying to recall an image.

*Eyes looking down and to the left mean someone is thinking about their emotions.

*Eyes looking down and to the right denote an "internal dialogue" of some kind, whether it's the recollection of a past conversation or an internal debate about what to say next.

*The directions may be the opposite for some people, but they should be consistently so for the person concerned.

*To see if someone is lying, establish a "baseline" for them by asking questions you know they won't respond to with a lie; observe what they do when you know they're telling the truth.

As I read through each tip I thought about a picture or a sound and waited to see where my eyes went. This is also called, instant headache and/or how to make yourself dizzy while sitting still in a chair.

I like how it says "the directions may be opposite for some people." Ha. "You're thinking about your feelings. No? You're picturing an image. No? Are you praying?" And apparently what people think about is limited to noise and artwork.

Also, people move their eyes a lot I guess but nothing like this list suggests. To get a chance to use all that info would almost require that all your friends have eyes like this.




Note: I wanted to find a pic of those eyes but couldn't remember what they were called so i just typed in "googly eye" and apparently that's their name. There's actually a site on Wikipedia dedicated to them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Googly_eyes

And this was the definition on urbandictionary.com

Googly Eye:
The googly eye (or just googly) is the eye-contact used to relay your interest in another.
"Girrrrrl, he TOTALLY just gave you the full-blown googly."

I'm sorry. Full-blown googly? I'll admit my fingers may have been off the pulse of streetwise American lingo for a little while now, but I will bet my two regular eyeballs that no one has ever in the history of the world said, "Damn girl, you just got the full-blown googly."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Write Stuff.

Robin Williams said something really great when the Writers Strike had just begun. Something like, "I was the only person on the picket line with nothing on my sign."

Funny. But there's also a lot of truth there. TV shows give us all something to talk about. They're safe. They're neutral. Perfect conversation when meeting someone new. (Except for those "Kill your television" types. Why are you so angry people? Watch Planet Earth and relax.) But if our shows aren't on, what the hell are we supposed to talk to strangers about?

I try to avoid asking people what they do for a living (various stretches of unemployment have made me HATE this question). I figure if someone really loves what they do and want to talk about it, they'll bring it up. I'd so much rather ask, "What do you do for fun?" or "What's your favorite snack...and why?" You always need that follow up. I really believe that the small stuff tells you just as much about a person as the big issues do. If someone takes a board game too seriously, guess how they probably approach life? I don't really have to know the political views of the person who keeps challenging everybody's words on the Scrabble board. I've got a pretty good idea of who they are.

For me, the most important small-stuff indicator is what a person finds funny. I think what a person laughs at tells you almost anything you need to know about them. In terms of TV, if someone says they love 30 Rock so much they want to take it behind a middle school and get it pregnant, we're probably going to get along. That's part of the reason why the 2-month Writers Strike is so significant. The lack of new catch phrase quips poured out and absorbed by the masses, limits the connection we have with each other. Hearing a stranger repeat something from TV that you found amusing creates an instant little connection, and I don't think we can overstate the importance of instant little connections. Because if in a room full of strangers someone was to say, "These pretzels are making me thirsty" it's a joke we'd all be in on. Inside jokes establish a bond between buddies but are only funny if you happen to be on the inside. Sitcom lines create inside jokes for the whole world. Outside, inside jokes. That's effing huge!

That's what she said.

Oh, right. I do have to say that the one positive of the Writers Strike has been the cancellation of the Golden Globes. Woody Allen so perfectly summed up award shows with his line in Annie Hall. "Awards! They do nothing but give out awards! I can't believe it. Greatest fascist dictator, Adolf Hitler."

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Just Nod.

The other day around 10:00 in the morning the doorbell rang. I've been expecting a delivery so I ran happily to the door because a) even if you know it's coming, mail in a box is fun and b) signing for packages makes me feel important. I always take the plastic stick like I can't be bothered and then scribble my mark as fast as I can so that "Jessica Martin" looks like a combo of a Richter reading and a gummy worm.
Writing my name illegibly also makes me feel important.

I opened the door and saw two men in suits. UPS goes formal? FedEx does the buddy system? The older gentleman introduced himself and his friend while I stared at their hands looking for my delivery and a place to sign. Seconds after realizing I wasn't about to get my fun boxed mail, the older man asked me, "Do you believe peace is possible?"

OK, I should mention that sweeping philosophical questions kill me.

I have a hard time making on-the-spot points (making points in general isn't my forte) and when a question is so large and so open, I close up as a way to counterbalance it. I jump into my head and try to remember things about loaded questions and informal fallacies while simultaneously trying to think about how I want to answer.

So, standing at the door, working through a mental Rainman-esque rundown of how peace is defined, how power is distributed, the history of war and the innate human desire for stuff, I was about to point out to this guy the problem with his question when the younger man pulled out a Bible and started talking about that.

Right.

I'm always reading so much into questions and overanalyzing the best way to answer when 10 times out of 10 I forget to consider who's asking me. Clearly, people don't go door to door before noon looking for debates. I'm an idiot.

I was sharing this story with a friend and it reminded me of something similar that happened this summer. I was at the post office in Astoria and a man with a very thick accent came over to me.

"S'cuze me ma frund. What mean forever?"

I looked at him and considered the best way to explain this vast concept of time in limited English. Should I skip Kant's ideas of space and time? Probably. But maybe hit upon the whole frame of reference thing? Gah.
I just ended up extending my arms a lot.

"Very loooong. It lasts a long long time. Forever means always. On and on and on. It has no end."

The man looked at me with absolutely no expression. Holding up a Forever Stamp he said, "Dis stamp. Ees good?"

Right.