Thursday, December 31, 2009

I've Been Doing A Lot Of Thinking.

And the thing is, I love you.

"What's so bad about this? You've got Dick Clark, that's tradition. You've got Mallomars, the greatest cookie of all time. And you're about to give the Knicks their first championship since 1973."

Happy New Year! May 2010 be the year that you realize you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

At Citibank We Will Meet Accidentally.

I don't know why banks give out lollipops, but I enjoy it. Whenever I see a grown-up walking down the street with a sucker, I know they've just come from the bank-- because where else would an adult get such a sad looking lollipop? Actually, walking down the street with that cheap lollipop stick hanging out of your mouth is is like wearing a t-shirt that says, "Yes, Robber. I have cash." 

I've never really thought about that before. Maybe I should stop taking them. 

Anyway, I was at the bank filling something out at the counter and started sorting through the basket looking for a red.  Putting it in my pocket, I started to sort through again before taking another one. Looking over to the girl standing next to me, I smiled meekly, saying, "I'm that girl."

Shrugging her shoulders before grabbing a handful of suckers, she replied, "It's OK. I don't even bank here."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And Mall Parking Lots On Holidays.

My sisters and I went shopping on Christmas Eve because we love crowds, and angry salespeople, and waiting in ridiculous lines. If you go into these situations knowing how terrible they are, they actually become amazing. Playing games like, "Who hates the holidays more?" where you compare the miserable faces of shoppers, or creating the voice-overs for people screaming in their cars while trying to find a parking spot, is a guaranteed way to make the whole outing more enjoyable

You should really just go for the parking lot people-watching alone. It's classic. Watching people try to find a parking spot on days like Christmas Eve allows one to witness the entire spectrum of human emotion. Eventually, they just start trailing people with bags and the whole, "I'm not leaving!" thing starts.  But all the exaggerated pointing, and waving, and over-emphasized speech as people try to talk to other people through their cars with the windows rolled up-- it's funny. 

While circling around for our own space, Nessa came up with a brilliant idea for a video art piece where you just back in and out of a parking spot for a few hours on a busy shopping day to see how people react. 

I'd watch it.  

Friday, December 25, 2009

You're Welcome.


video video



I debated not posting this, but 'tis the season for giving. Happy Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The 1950's Called.

They want their game show answers back.

This post could also be called, "These idiots will clap for anything."

The last time I watched The Family Feud was a few years ago and the survey question asked to 100 people was, "As good as?" 
When a member of one of the families answered, "Pie!" I told myself that I was no longer allowed to watch the show.

But when I had time to kill in front of the television yesterday, I thought I'd check in for 5-minutes to see if things have improved.

This is basically a transcript from the show because I ended up recording it and playing it back in complete disbelief.  

Host: We surveyed 100 married women and asked, when your husband is ignoring you, name something you can do that will certainly get his attention.
Dan: Not do his laundry!
[X]
Graceila: Wear something sexy!
[Ding]
Graceila: We're going to play!
Host: OK, according to 100 married women, when your husband is ignoring you, name something you can do to get his attention.
Graceila's daughter: Stop cooking dinner!
Family: Good answer! Good answer!
[X]
Graceila's other daughter: Start nagging!
Host: When in doubt, start nagging!
[X]
-Throw something at him!
[Ding]
-Cry!
Host: Show me, Cry!
[X]

So three x's, they switch to the other family.

Host: Dan, give me one good answer.  When your husband is ignoring you, name something you can do to get his attention.
Dan: Spend his money!
Family: Good answer!!!!
[X]

Host: Let's reveal the #1 answer. According to 100 married women, something you can do when your husband is ignoring you?

Note: This is where both families and the entire audience repeat whatever they see on the answer board in unison like it was the most obvious answer in the world. It's the collective Duh! moment. As good as pie? No, moron. As good as IT GETS. (in unison, followed by applause sign.)

Host: Survey says...
Entire audience: 'GET NAKED!' (palm to forehead. Of course! But what about when you're being ignored in public? Oh, no matter. Good answer!).
Host: And the other answer?
Entire Audience: FLIRT/GET IT ON! 
Obviously. Because nothing sets the mood quite like being ignored and throwing shit at people.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Every Christmas Song Should Be This Good.



If you've never played this game with someone, where you try to create and sing a song together at the same time, you've never really taken full advantage of the following:
-Long road trips 
-Short road trips
-Being drunk
-Being bored

It's instant fun and instant hilarious and my father kind of invented it. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Holidays, From The MBTA.

I realized a little too late last night on the train ride home that I had inadvertently sat across from a crazy person. I've built up quite a tolerance to this so I'm never really bothered by anything anyone says anymore, but this guy had me seriously concerned for about 6 stops.

Guy: It's all about child support and credit cards, Teddy. Child support and credit cards.
Me: [Close eyes.]
Guy: And somebody thinks they wanna control the taste? I don't think so! Hey, Teddy!
Me: [Thinking] Am I Teddy?
Guy: That's when I say to them, pow! pow! pow! I'll rip your face off.
Me: Oh, shit.
Guy: So if your face gets ripped, come see me.
Me: [Thinking] I should probably get off the train now.
Guy: Credit cards! Pow Pow Pow!

This is where a nice little internal debate began. Clearly, this man was not well, and had some ideas about faces, but if I got off the train before my stop I'd have to wait for another one and who knows how long that might take. So, do I risk him getting upset that Teddy isn't responding, and possibly have my face ripped off (pow pow), or get off the train and freeze while waiting for another one? Either way, the options for my face weren't looking good. 

I stayed on the train without incident.  Everyone's face was ok. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just Looking.

A Relax The Back store, which appears to deal exclusively in massage chair sales, has opened near work.  Without seeing the business plan for this company, and without any actual knowledge of massage furniture sales, let me tell you why this business will fail:  People who test out massage chairs are not looking to buy a massage chair.  They're looking for a free massage and 15-minutes of doing that weird vibrating "ahhhhhhhahhh" noise.

How many times a day do you think a Relax The Back salesman hears, "Just looking"? If they made the career move over from Brookstone, they're probably used to it by now. 
Everybody knows this is how a typical sales conversation at Brookstone goes:
Salesperson: Can I help you find anything?
Customer: Oh no, I don't think so. I'm just gonna play with this robot dog for a little bit, fuck around with the indoor helicopter, and then probably fall asleep in the massage chair until somebody asks me to leave.  Thanks though.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Truth.

Sometimes rinsing out an empty peanut butter jar seems like the hardest thing you'll do all day. I bet even the staunchest environmentalists grimace a little when the peanut butter runs out. No one likes to rinse that jar.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Don't Get Sick. (cough cough... puke).

In spite of my self-diagnosed hypochondria, I've been fortunate enough to avoid a string of colds, coughs, flu viruses, fevers, and becoming pregnant without knowing it before giving birth in the toilet. Have people seen the show about that one? Every episode ends the same way: "And then, looking back at her from the toilet..." It's really horrible.

Anyway, I was enjoying a fantastic weekend in NY up until Sunday night when V and I became violently ill at around the same time. Technically, she became sick a few hours before me, and I remember saying, "I feel fine! I'm having more pizza!" I later paid for that.

People, this wasn't your average bout with food poisoning or a little upset tumtum. We're talking cartoon-like illness here.  The kind that has you pleading to a higher power in the bathroom of your sister's apartment.  About three hours in, I even lacked the good sense to sing "There's the girl that I like..." to myself before getting sick. It was bad.

Luckily, Brina was there.  The girl has the bedside manner of a drill sergeant, but the needs-anticipation skills of, well, say, an event planner.  As Nessa and I ran back and forth to the bathroom all night, all we heard from Brina's room was, "AGAIN?!" But miraculously by morning, everything we needed was within arms reach of our sofas.

Brina: I did some research and you're most likely dehydrated. Drink this, and this, and this. Take this now, and this in 6 hours. Eat this banana, and these saltines, and there's organic applesauce and peanut butter if you're up to it.  I'll make orzo soup when I come home from work.  Here's your phone, which is charging over here. Here's the computer, fully charged. All of the remotes, space heater on, extra blankets, Christmas lights on or off? I'll wait here while you drink that and refill. OK, I'm late. I'll call this afternoon.

It was as well-planned as being sick could be. And just one mention of, "It smells disgusting in here."

Later that night, desperately craving our soup, we called her and she said, "OK, I'm just going to run into the first half of this concert I have tickets for, but I'll probably leave during intermission.  I'll make your soup when I get home."

Too weak to argue, I slowly hung up and ate another sleeve of saltines. Under my breath and under my blankets I softly said in a whine, "I want my fucking soup."  

When I woke up again at 1:00 in the morning, the cold bowl of orzo was by the rest of my Grandpa Joe setup by the sofa. Girl of her word. 

Bri just called me to say she was home sick.  Wish I could repay the favor.

Note: Instant rad if you get the grandpa joe reference.  

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

If You Were A Tree...

I've experienced comments and questions about my height since I was a little kid.  Once when I was like nine, a toddler came up and held my hand thinking I was his mother.  
I was nine.
So it's never anything new when someone asks me to reach for something, or stand back to back with their tallest friend. But this was an exchange I had with a coworker yesterday about the tree she bought for Christmas: 
Coworker: And we got such a great deal on it. It was only like $22!
Me: Oh wow, that's crazy.  But is it like a Charlie Brown Tree?
Coworker: No, it's big! It's like your size.

Right.

Around the holiday season, it's not uncommon to have someone hold a sweater or a shirt up to your body and say, "That looks like your size." But I think I'm the first to have that done with a Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Good One.



I love that this story is getting national attention for three reasons:

1) That picture is awesome and reminds me of a story. (To follow.)
2) Local news is pathetic, but dedicating 2-minutes to a high school yearbook story might be a new low. That's what high school news shows are for.
3) Wearing a t-shirt with her own face on it kind of makes me think we're on the verge of a whole new generation of message tees. "I'm With Her." "She's With Me" "Can I help you?" 
Arrows will be involved.
Note: My boss was saying that she doesn't like when pregnant women wear message t-shirts about their babies. I have to agree, except I wouldn't mind seeing a maternity shirt that says, "There's somebody in here!"

Anyway, about that yearbook photo story. 
One year in band (no comments, please) everyone dressed in uniform and went to the front of the school for group shots for the yearbook.  The photographer was standing on the roof of the school and it was sort of a big production to get everyone organized.  Bored out of our minds, my buddy Matt thought it would be a good idea to horn pop drastically every time the photographer took a picture. I agreed. So picture after picture, Matt and I would lean back as far as possible, shooting our saxophones into the air, while everyone else just stayed standing still.  It gave us a good laugh, photo shoot ended, class dismissed.

About three weeks later, the two of us were asked to meet with our band director in his office. Closing his door, and asking us if we knew why we were there, we both shook our heads.  I honestly had no idea. Opening up a large envelope, our teacher pulled out the pictures and slowly lined his desk with them.  

They. Were. HILARIOUS.
  
Even though these were large group shots, we totally stuck out and our faces were eerily similar to the girl in the news story. In many of the shots, Matt had taken his saxophone apart and was just holding a mouthpiece in the air. In others, we were basically on the ground in limbo-like stance. 

I have never wanted to burst out laughing so badly in all of my life. But standing in the band director's office listening to him yell at us, I figured my timing might be off.  When I'm not able to laugh, my eyes water. A lot. So he probably thought I was pretty upset about the whole thing as I stood there crying. When we were finally dismissed, we basically rolled into the hall laughing.

Just like the girl in the news story, none of our pictures made the yearbook either. 
Matt was later arrested for gang-related activities. 

I like reminiscing. 

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Can't Wait Three Minutes?

While waiting for my popcorn to pop last night, I finished half a box of crackers. I remember reasoning to myself, "Well, I've got a few minutes to kill. Might as well have a snack." 

Ironically enough, that's how the first buffet started. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Clearly, I've never done this before.

This is my bio for the agency website.  I didn't understand the assignment.

Jessica Martin grew up on her family’s farm in Brockport, New York.  She spent her formative years talking to herself in the mirror and memorizing lines from Full House episodes. She graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Television, Radio and Film and that proved to be worthwhile in that she still enjoys all of those things.  After living in San Francisco, New York, and Boston, Jessica has learned the importance of light layers, irony, and remembering how people take their coffee.  

A fortune cookie once told her that she finds beauty in ordinary things, and she liked this.  But then another fortune cookie told her that she liked horse racing and gambling, but not to excess, so she’s not entirely sure what to believe.  She sort of thinks fortune cookies should stop pretending they know her so well. 

Open-Eyed Sneeze is her first book. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

j mo.

Notice: J Lo's new song Louboutins has been remixed for the sensible lesbian. 
The hook is now, "I'm putting my black Converse on."

Thank You.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Your Phone's Ringing.

After spending the weekend with my family, I'm convinced that it is actually impossible for my mother to reach her phone while it's ringing. Part of the problem lies in the fact that she never hears her ringtone, so every time she receives a call, the ringing is accompanied by everyone saying, "Your phone is ringing." Which is followed by my mother saying "Damn it!" and fake running to her purse. She employs the same run people use when a car stops and lets them cross the street.  It's basically just walking, but pumping your arms more than usual, to give the illusion of moving in a hurry. She uses this same "Damn it!"/fake run combo every time because she knows she's going to miss the call.  Hearing her phone ring isn't a reminder to answer her phone, it's a reminder to check her voicemail in seven minutes when she finds her phone.

Conveniently located at the bottom of her Mary Poppins bag, my mother is more likely to pull a floor lamp out of her purse than to find and answer her phone before the call goes to voicemail.  If she happens to have her purse on her while the cellphone is ringing, it's 30 seconds of ringtone, 15 reminders that her phone is ringing, numerous Damn its!, and the complete removal of everything in her bag, which results in the most random combination of items you've ever seen, particularly when traveling. Dog bowl, toothpaste, Big Mirror (which is a big 5x magnification mirror my mother always carries around and has so cleverly named "Big Mirror") and a shoe. 

-Where's the other shoe?
-It's in the back of the car.

So it was an interesting weekend of observing the various ways my mother missed incoming call after incoming call. My younger sister on the other hand, prefers that no one she knows ever hears her voice again, and texts almost exclusively. She left yesterday but I've been hearing phantom text message buzz's from her blackberry all morning. 

Anyway, when we were going around the table on Thanksgiving saying what we're thankful for, Bri said she was grateful to have four people in her life that she could always call.  To which Nessa appropriately replied, "Yeah, and at least two of them will pick up."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Picture Paints 1,000 Words.

This pic was sent from Nessa's phone at the airport with this message:
Yet again, the difference bt sabrina and vanessa

Happy Thanksgiving.

I heart Thanksgiving.  Easily my favorite holiday. What's not to love?
-Food. Good.
-Football. Good.
-Naps. Effing awesome.
-Food again. Good.

Thanksgiving is basically just like every other day for me, except that the entire nation is in on it. So I kind of feel like I'm on to something with my life plan when I hear how much everyone else enjoys the holiday. "It's just eating, and drinking, and laying around! It's great!"

Yes. And if you plan accordingly, every day can be like that.

My family is rolling into town today and I'm stoked! This will be the first official family Thanksgiving that I've hosted.  Wine will help.  

We have a tradition every year of naming the turkey and then talking to it throughout the morning as it cooks. It's pretty messed up if you think about it. But we've been doing it since I was a little kid, so there's no turning back now.  We've never really come up with anything better than "Kimmy Gobbler" but because it's Thanksgiving at my place, I feel it's my duty to give the bird a new name.  No ideas yet, but I still have a day to think about it. 

Enjoy the holiday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just Me, Then?

I'm pretty sure I heard church bells playing "I've Been Working On The Railroad" this morning. Specifically, the "Dinah won't you blow your horn" section.  Is today some sort of sacred railroad holiday that I don't know about? 

Semi-related note: Once at a friend's wedding, the band played Greensleeves-- (I forget why)-- and my old roommie Jackie turned to me with an exaggerated look of confusion and asked, "What Child Is This?!" 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Skip You, Back To Me.

Heading back to my apartment last night, the sidewalk on my street was covered with a fallen deck of Uno cards.  If Hansel and Gretel's ill-fated walk through the woods had been sponsored by Mattel, this definitely would have been their trail. Every three steps, a 9, a Wild Card, Uno logo, a 2, Uno logo, Uno logo. 

It's lucky that so many of them were face down.  Had I come across any Reverse cards, I probably wouldn't have made it home.    

Monday, November 09, 2009

That's Not A Real Sentence.

Warning: Shameless praise for family member follows.

Congrats to my sister for working on the most successful fundraising gala in City Opera history! It's sort of a huge deal. For the last 3 months, whenever I've called Bri, I've been rushed off the phone by an ice-cold, "I'm extremely busy." 

Really? Because you had enough time to pick up the phone to say that.  

I always countered with an equally important, "Me too. I just called to tell you that I'm wearing a ball gown right now. And I'm talking to a Countess. And the mayor's on hold. So I have to go."

But she worked incredibly hard and the event was a smash hit, so good on ya, sister! I can't imagine planning anything bigger than a birthday party-- and even that would just be 15 minutes of staring at a list that looked something like this:
-Cake
-Dance mix
-Streamers?

I finally got to talk to her for more than five minutes over the weekend and I heard all about it. However, it's obvious that there's a certain disconnection from reality when you allow your mind to focus on a gala for months at a time. While describing the auction, this was an actual sentence she said without even the slightest hint of irony or sarcasm:
"And the wild boar hunting in Friedrichsruh, Germany with the von Bismark Family followed by a black-tie ball went for $30,000."

ACTUAL SENTENCE.

What's an appropriate response to a sentence like that? Really, I'd like to know. 

All I could think to do was laugh my ass off, which I did. 

I was so intrigued by this auction lot though, that I googled it and read the terms for the winning bid: Terms: Valid for two guns, Four persons for October 2010. Does not include accommodations; recommendations will be provided. A valid hunting license for Germany is required.

What?! So not only did the winning bidder have to have 30 g's to drop on The Sound of Music version of Duck Hunt, they also had to have a valid German hunting license. Which, I don't know, maybe all rich people have. 
-Is there a problem, officer?
-License and registration, please.
-My valid German hunting license? 

And what the hell?! Does not include accommodations but recommendations will be provided? 
"The von Bismark family would like to thank you for shooting boar with us. There's a lovely Holiday Inn Express about 350 miles from here."

Friday, November 06, 2009

How's Everything Going Out There?

I really hate when you're trying on clothes in a dressing room and the salespeople come to check on you a million times. 
-How are we doing in there?
-Everything OK?
-How's everything working out?
-Do you know how to put pants on?

I never know if they're talking to me, so my initial response is to say nothing. But then they knock, just to make sure I haven't died in there. "Hon, how we doing?" My reaction on the other side of the dressing room door is always an exaggerated eye roll. "I'm good, thanks!"

So I was trying on some jeans yesterday and all of a sudden, a ridiculously futuristic sounding alarm went off.  It was a cross between a submarine alarm and a space station alarm. Not that I have any firsthand knowledge of either type of alarm, but it sounded like something from a movie.  Fake enough to be laughable, unique enough for me to be like, "Um, did someone sink our battleship?"

The alarm was followed by an announcement, alerting shoppers of an emergency, and instructing them to leave the floor. I should mention that at the time, I was one leg into a pair of skinny jeans--probably the worst clothing choice for an emergency situation.  I froze for a second thinking, should I put these jeans on and leave? Or take them off, put my own pants on and leave? Wait for further instructions?

I felt like leaving the store in their jeans would be too close to stealing so I quickly tried to pull my leg out of the skinny cut, which was basically impossible. I started to speak to the salesgirl I assumed was waiting on the other side of my dressing room door.
"Hello? Is anyone there? Are people leaving the store? Hello?!"
Nothing.
Now I started to panic a little bit. Still unable to rip the pant leg off my ankle-- why so tight with the taper?!-- and not wanting to open the dressing room door without pants on, I started to speak louder. "Are people leaving the store?!"

Eventually, a voice came from the other side. "Do you need another size?"

That's honestly what she said to me. 

After asking about the alarm, she said she it was probably a smoke warning.
"Are people leaving?"
"No. I want to, but I'm here until nine."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Monday, November 02, 2009

And Leaf.

I think the original ice-breaking exercise took place on a late night train on Halloween. It involved costumes, beverages, partially nude college students, and trust falls. (They've been trying to sell the trust fall thing as a good way to introduce yourself to strangers since forever). It was just like a bar on Halloween, except that the lighting was brighter, and the constant stops encouraged people to push up against each other in a less obvious way than usual.

If you have trouble meeting people, you should really be riding late night trains on Halloween. It's a no-shame holiday, so basically any line you use is going to be OK. Examples include:
-"So, are you a sexy mouse in real life?"
-"So, are you a sexy dinosaur in real life?"
-"So, do you know if I can transfer to the Red Line here?" 

The particularly chatty girl next to us on the train Saturday night had leaves all in her hair and Super Mario standing behind her figured that was his in.

Mario: So, are you like Mother Nature or something?
Leaf-Hair Girl: I'm a tree. I had more leaves, but they fell out.
Mario: Well, 'tis the season.
(Note: I have to say, that was pretty good.)
Tree: It's funny that they fell out because it's Fall.
(Yeah, Tree Girl, Mario just said that.)
Mario: Did you get them to change colors throughout the night?

This is where I had to zone out. I'll admit I was semi-curious to see what sort of tree banter the brain trust could keep up, but Mario's fake moustache was a little crooked, and he was carrying a toilet plunger, and as mentioned, Tree just had leaves all in her hair, so I was a little embarrassed for the two of them.  There's a reason these meetings made the switch from trains to darker, louder bars. 

Saturday, October 31, 2009

No One I Know Would Call At This Hour.

My dad called me at 7 o'clock this morning. It's Saturday. When I answered the phone with my groggy hello, he responded with the most affected Halloween accent ever, saying, "Good morning gouls and goblins! Wondering if you have a special brew... brewing... this fine Halloween morn!" 

I've spent my lifetime trying to figure out an appropriate response to things like this. 

I haven't come up with anything yet. 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ironically, No Guests On The Groom's Side.

A Somali man who claims to be 112 years old has married a 17-year-old girl, according to the Associated Press.

The couple was registered at Bed, Bath, & What The Fuck?!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Writer's Bio Block.

I have to submit a short bio for the agency website but I think I've hit a wall. Here's what I have so far:

"Jessica Martin was born Oprah Gail Winfrey on January 29, 1954. Open-Eyed Sneeze is her first book."

I lifted that first part from the Oprah Wikipedia page. She won't mind. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's A Cut Cost In Kronor These Days?

I need a haircut like whoa, but because I'm relatively new to Boston, I'm hesitant to just randomly sit down anywhere and let them have at it. I LOVE Micah (hi Micah!) but to get back to New York in the near future doesn't look good. So I've been keeping my eyes peeled for haircuts, hoping to find a place here. 

Tonight I saw a girl with a fantastic style so I basically chased her down and was like, "Sorry, where did you get your hair cut?"

She looked at me flatly for about five seconds before slowly replying in a thick accent, "Sweden."

Right. 

Maybe I can wait another week. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Scared Yet?

I heard an ad on the radio for some sort of Halloween thing. I wasn't paying attention. It might have been for a haunted house or haunted hayride, but the announcer was using that traditional Halloween radio voice: 2 parts Crypt Keeper, one part Count from Sesame Street, one part Billy Fuccillo.

It's a really annoying voice.

The ad ended with the creepy voice slowly saying, "Discount coupons available at Dunkin' Donuts."  

The voice guy refused to break character for the Dunkin' Donuts tie-in despite the fact that it's basically impossible to instill fear when the word coupon is involved.  Try saying "coupons" using your scariest voice. "Boo!" is decidedly scarier. 

Note: 1,000 instant points of rad to those readers who actually tried saying coupons with a scary voice.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Brother?

New research has found that plants can recognize their siblings. LiveScience reports that while plants can't see or hear (or can they??), they can tell what other plants are around them through chemicals secreted from their roots.  

The findings are the exact opposite of sibling rivalry. When plants are around sibling plants, nutrients are shared, and all are able to grow equally. But when a plant senses a "stranger," it grows more roots and competes for water with that unknown plant.  It also refuses to take candy from the stranger plant or to get in its car. 

The fact that plants can recognize family isn't so crazy, is it? What will really blow my mind is if the research continues and finds that during the holiday season, plants sharing space near family drink more and focus almost exclusively on personal breathing exercises.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Art, Imitating Life, Imitating Wife Swap.


Artist E.V. Day has an installation of opera costumes suspended in midair at New York City Opera's brand new theatre. Full disclosure, my sister works for City Opera. But this isn't a plug. The story is newsworthy because tragically, Balloon Boy is stuck high above the ground in a little red dress from La Bohème. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For The Kids.

I'm scheduled to work on Halloween so I hope they don't mind when I show up wearing this.
 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Here's To Waiting.

So as some of you might know (some of you being my Grandma, MFB, and guy from London), I wrote a book awhile ago. Since then, I've been querying literary agents, which is basically just like sending out cover letters for your book. Here's a sample of the query letter I sent to agents:

Dear (Agent's name),

Freud thought that to examine the soul, you had to examine a person on the edge of insanity.  I wonder if Freud ever had to move back in with his parents.

I am writing to introduce you to Open-Eyed Sneeze, my personal account of life after college. 

Realizing that a film major/philosophy minor is a cosmic joke in the working world, I am forced to return to my childhood home after graduation to begin my job search.  Moving home after college plays out much like the five stages of grief — sans acceptance.  Listening to the random suggestions of my parents (“Would you ever consider getting involved with Riverdance?”), darting across grocery store aisles to avoid the inquiring minds of my small town, and attempting to keep depression at bay, Open-Eyed Sneeze explores why home proves to be a prime place for soul examination.  Highlighted with observations about uncertainty in the everyday, I come to realizations about life, family, work, and the thread of absurdity that weaves them all together.

Thousands of students leaving college this spring will experience difficulties for which their undergraduate career centers offered no flyer.  Serving as an Oh, The Places You’ll Go! for a more cynical generation of graduates, Open-Eyed Sneeze exposes the agony of the job hunt, the bizarre search for meaning, and the pang of guilt associated with napping four times a day.

I’ve included a sample of Open-Eyed Sneeze for your review.  I look forward to the opportunity to share the completed manuscript with you. 

Thank you very much for your generous time and consideration. 

Sincerely,

Jessica Martin

And then I waited. 

I started sending out these queries when I was living in San Francisco, so I've been doing a lot of sending, and a lot of waiting. And I've been hearing a lot of "No." Querying a book as a first-time author is the best lesson in rejection a person can get. Many literary agencies have gone green meaning they only take queries by email. That was a nice change because I think my local postal employee was beginning to think I was one sad excuse for a writer. "Are you sending out more of these?"

But, the point of this post is to let you know that I finally have a literary agent! I'll be working with Penn Whaling of Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency and I'm beyond thrilled. So stay tuned for more info about the book! 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

But First, Let's Make Tiny Pigs.

With all of the research that is needed to face global health issues and to help advance medicine in general, I'm happy to see that someone spent their lab time wisely-- by making teacup pigs. Vaccines and cures can wait. What people actually need right now is little pig to carry around. 

Well done, modern science. 

Friday, October 16, 2009

And For Her Next Trick.

When my roommates are in the kitchen making something to eat, their dog Kallie sits on a blanket. All you have to say is "Blanket!" and she'll scoot backwards to sit on it. It's actually pretty awesome.

Apparently they forgot the blanket while away for the weekend, but it turns out that what appears to be a face cloth was a suitable substitution. I'm sorry, but Kallie is giving Snuggles the fabric softener bear a real run for his money in this picture. 

Now that I know she can do this, I'm wondering if anything will work as a blanket. I kind of like the idea of saying, "Cocktail napkin!" and having her sit on that. Or, "Post-It Note!" Or maybe I could somehow get her to sit inside a cupcake wrapper. That'd be cute.    

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yeah? Still With The Scale?

For some reason that is completely lost on me, people love random world records. I remember looking at the Guinness Book of World Records as a kid and seeing a picture of the woman with the world's longest fingernails. Besides wanting to throw up, my initial response was to ask, why? Sure, she did get a picture of her gross monster claw printed in a book, but she also couldn't use her hand for about 5 years.

Do you think 100 years from now they'll still be breaking world records? Or by then will people just agree that you shouldn't win anything for eating 200 hot dogs? I'm afraid it will most likely be the former, and here's why: Pumpkins. More specifically, giant pumpkins.

I like to think that humanity will eventually reach a level of sophistication that will deter them from growing their nails out, or sitting in an ice bath for 3 days. But 100 years from now, someone is going to have a giant pumpkin in their field and the first thing they're going to say is, "Hey, can we weigh this?"

And I'm glad to see all those giant pumpkin enthusiasts got the memo about reducing their carbon footprint. This year's winner drove 2,000 miles with a 1,658-pound pumpkin on the back of his truck. Smart Car owners will never be giant pumpkin champions.

The AP video didn't mention it, but on top of winning the $10,000 pumpkin prize, Don Young also won an award from the DMV for "Most Unnecessary Vanity Plate."

Congrats.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Think It's For You.

This was a phone conversation I had with someone yesterday at work: 
 
Me: Hello?
Caller: Bologna?
Me: Can I help you with something, sir?
Caller: Pastrami?
Me: Sir?
Caller: Roast Beef?

I hung up. 

But I have to say, if my boss wasn't standing right next to me, I probably would have stayed on the line for a few more minutes.  

Friday, October 09, 2009

Top Secret.

Wired Magazine revealed the most common Hotmail account password to be 123456.  

People who use this password to protect their internet information are the same folks who put their hide-a-key rocks on top of outdoor lighting on the front porch.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Is one of us supposed to be a dog in this scenario?

I try to never talk about my personal life at work for 2 reasons:
1) I can talk about it on the internet.
2) When the guys at my old job heard I was gay I started to get a lot of dog-eared magazines left in my office whenever Ellen Degeneres was interviewed for an article.

So unless I'm asked, I usually never bring it up. But this was an exchange I had with a coworker I just met for the first time yesterday:
Coworker: So you're gay, right?
Me: Sorry?
Coworker: You're a lesbian?
Me: Oh. Yeah. 
Coworker: Thought so. A dog can smell another dog. 
Then she punched my arm before walking away.

I'm pretty sure my life is being filmed for the purposes of a hidden camera show.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

No, I'm Good.

Drunk trauma patients admitted to the ER fare better than non-intoxicated patients, according to a new study.  The LA Times reports that patients with high blood alcohol levels have a mortality rate that is 6% lower than those patients who had not been drinking. 
 
The published study concludes that more study is needed to determine what the protective mechanism might be. 

Right. More study... I have a guess.

I won't pretend to have any exact research, but last Friday night we saw a guy holding the train door open for his friend using his face. The door closed on his face three times.  I'm guessing about 13 pints of protective mechanism were involved with that chivalrous move. 

And it's not really fair to include drunk people who leave the hospital alive as part of the data. You know months from now research will show a spike in mortality rates at Taco Bells within walking distance of Emergency Rooms.  But more study will be needed to determine why.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Smarty Pants.

Three Americans won the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine for figuring out how chromosomes protect themselves from degrading when cells divide.  

According to the AP, the laureates discovered the enzyme that builds features known as telomeres, which are at the ends of chromosomes and "often compared to the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces that keep those laces from unraveling."

Their research might help explain why cancer cells are able to keep up their uncontrolled growth, and if drugs can be used to block the enzyme from building these "plastic tips," perhaps this could help fight the disease. 

When I read about people like this, I'm always amazed. Could you imagine having such a powerful mind?! Without exaggeration, it takes me about five hesitated starts before I can jump into a revolving door. That's the kind of brain I'm working with. 

Semi-related note: I saw something on the local news about a fetching competition for dogs and in the required post-segment banter the anchor said, "Those dogs are smarter than some people! Goodnight everybody!"

And that's how the news ended. 

Thursday, October 01, 2009

China Celebrates 60 Years of Communism.

All 1.3 billion people have chipped in for a cake, which will be served in the break room. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Seat's Taken.

Today on the crowded morning train I happened to overhear a girl tell her friend that she spilled Pepsi all over the seat next to her. This is something I've been fearing for awhile.  

In most other cities this soda seat wouldn't have been a problem. Plastic seats make spills and goo completely visible--it's the very least public transportation can do for its riders.  But in Boston, the T seats are covered in this hideous fabric that could basically hide anything.  Every time I sit down, I'm sure I'm about to have wet pants. 

When the girl and her friend got off the train a few stops after I'd learned the news about the soaking wet seat, I took it as my personal responsibility to inform every new passenger on my train car about it. I stood by the train doors and kept repeating, "Don't sit there, it's wet." "Don't sit there, it's wet." "That seat's wet, don't sit there." "That's a wet seat, don't sit in it." as I pointed to the accident seat and started to feel good about my random act of kindness.

The doors closed and I thought to myself, hey, nice work, J. You just saved a person's morning from being ruined!

But as the train rolled on it occurred to me that everyone I just talked to was probably thinking to themselves, How does she know? 

Then I started to get paranoid thinking about what they might be thinking. I debated making a general announcement, something along the lines of, "Hi everybody. I didn't pee on that seat. If that's what you were thinking, you're wrong."  

But I didn't.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Goal Setting.

I heard a story the other night about a person named... wait for it... Pooty McBurger.

Say it out loud please.

Pooty McBurger. That's the man's name. Pooty. McBurger.

The storyteller swears that the name is true. Apparently his parents were from Nigeria and wanted the most American name possible. Hence, Pooty. Obviously. 

I share this only because since hearing the name, it's been impossible for me to say "Pooty McBurger" with a straight face. To be honest, I can't even think about it without smiling. I've decided that when I can casually mention Pooty McBurger in conversation without my eyes watering, I'll be a grown up. It'd be nice to reach that marker by the end of the year. 

I'll keep you posted.  

Thursday, September 24, 2009

So Why Not Just Say That?

Saw an ad for a place called The Garment District that read as follows:

The Garment District.
It's Not A District. It's a store.

I want to meet the person who wrote that slogan and flick them on the forehead.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Something With A View.

Lately I've been seeing a lot of kids sitting in strollers that look like this:

It looks fine when there are no babies in it, but when you actually see it with passengers, it's quite obvious one of the children is getting a raw deal. While the baby up top has access to street views, interaction with people, enough room to kick if so inclined, the bottom baby is simply staring at the mesh padding of the seat in front of it. I even saw one mother toss her purse in with the bottom baby. That's not storage, ma'am.  You have a baby in there. Years from now, studies will show that the child sitting in the bottom seat is someone who prefers to stare at walls.

But things could be worse.  The other day in the park I noticed a child too scared to approach a group of dogs that were playing together. The boy took a few steps in the direction of the dogs, and then ran back to his mother.  This continued until finally, the mother picked him up, put him into her granny cart, and wheeled him into the circle of dogs. This is a granny cart if unfamiliar:
    It was like a shark tank cage for a puppy play date.  The little kid stuck his fingers out of the cart to pet some of the dogs, and when he started to get scared again, the mother would wheel him out backwards.  

As I watched this, I felt like I was witnessing the reason why therapy exists. 

Sadly, this was not the first time I've seen a granny cart used as a stroller.  One time in Queens Brina pointed out a woman pushing her two kids down the street in a granny cart. The kids were standing upright and secured in the cart with what appeared to be some sort of luggage strap. Obviously there were some safety issues there, but at least both kids had the same view.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"But Where Does The Meat Go?"

Found this job posting on Craigslist:

"Line Cook- Raw Vegan Cafe."

According to the ad, the position requires at least two years of kitchen experience.

Right. Two years kitchen experience for a raw food cook. Raw food. Cook. And do you think it's actual kitchen experience, or two years experience in a raw food kitchen? And what does a raw food kitchen even look like? It's just a knife and a salad spinner, right?

Anyway, I thought the title of line cook was funny. Aren't vegan raw food cooks usually called vegetable trays?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Heart of Stone.

I'm used to hearing and seeing the worst performers ever on public transportation.  There was a woman in NY who played a Fisher-Price piano type thing that she could also blow into, so you can imagine how well that went.  The music was never the main part of her act though.  It was the fact that she stood with one leg on the train floor, one leg leaning up against a pole, and 2 hands on the piano horn.  At every stop she would struggle to keep from flying to the ground. 
It was actually pretty sad.

That's why last night's train ride home was such a pleasant surprise.  When I entered the station I was welcomed by what can only be described as the best Doo-Wop group I've ever heard. I'm a sucker for a good Doo-Wop group.  And when they broke out into a crazy rendition of The Tymes' So Much In Love I thought to myself, "Take note, piano horn lady." 

When the train rolled up I was disappointed that I'd have to leave the music, but awesomely, all of the guys got on my train car. So for my entire ride home, non-stop insanely good Doo-Wop. I once had a Mariachi Band ride on my train car from Queensboro to Shea, but after about 4 subway stops of Mariachi, you tend to get the gist.  

During a cover of We Are The World--the Doo-Wop cover, not the Mariachi--the entire train car started clapping in unison. People were swaying back and forth, singing along, smiling. It was a total goose bump moment without even the slightest hint of cheesiness. I was looking around the train car, amazed by how quickly a group of strangers can connect, when I saw a girl sitting across from me, hunched over a huge text book, basically frowning, using her hands to cover her ears in such an exaggerated fashion it looked like she was holding a basketball instead of her head.  It killed me. What kind of igneous rock does your heart have to be made of to get so mad during free train ride Doo-Wop?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Qualifications.

Frankly, I wouldn't want to work for a company that refused to accept this link in lieu of my resume. 

Monday, September 07, 2009

That Reminds Me.

My father interrupted Nessa mid-sentence yesterday by saying, "OH! That reminds me!"

I don't actually remember what she was talking about, but I know for a fact it was nothing that could have possibly reminded him of the story he told. 

Dad: So I was driving one of the old Oliver tractors back to the farm last week and a bee flew right against my teeth and the impact killed it. A bee! Right into my teeth! It died! Can you believe it?    

We all stared at each other in silence for about 30 seconds.

Me: Dad, you just interrupted Nessa to tell a story about killing a bee with your teeth.  
Dad: Oh, sorry. I just thought about it.
Ness: I don't get it. Your teeth were exposed while you were driving a tractor down the road?
Exposing all her teeth into a freakishly giant smile she added, "Who drives like that?" 

My dad started smiling thinking about it and he goes, "You know, out there with nature. It's nice."

I don't want to know how my father's mind works, but I've really learned to appreciate it. 

Friday, September 04, 2009

Good Read.

Sorting through a box of old stuff, I found a collection of short stories my little sister wrote in elementary school.  While movies are usually remembered for their last line, they say that the most memorable line in a book is the opening. In the case of Vanessa's work, I'd have to say that's true.

Here are how three of her different short stories started:

"Vanessa, Caitlin, TiTi, Brynne, and Yonghee were all going to Florida together."
-From The Search

"One day Caitlin, Brynne, Yonghee, TiTi, and Vanessa were on the school playground talking."
From The Christmas I'd Never Forget

And my personal favorite, 
"'I can't wait until we go to India.' announced TiTi. Vanessa and Caitlin were busy packing while Yonghee and Brynne were playing Sega."
From Our Dangerous Adventure

Talk about setting the scene! 

I also found a very long piece written by Sabrina entitled, Fight Once, Fight Again. 
I didn't read the entire thing but I'm guessing it was not about conflict resolution.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Treppenwitz.

I've been a lifelong sufferer of Treppenwitz, or "L'esprit de l'escalier" (staircase wit). The phrase comes from walking down a staircase to leave a place and suddenly thinking of the perfect thing to say. "Yeah? Well the jerk store called..." That sort of thing. 

I'm always thinking of the perfect thing to say days after the opportunity to use it has passed. But there's no chic-sounding french phrase that roughly translates to, "A week after missing a great chance to say something witty, you come up with a clever retort while watching House Hunters, slightly drunk, in your pajamas."

Anyway, when I asked a salesman the price of something the other day, instead of just telling me, he said, "I can be flexible on the price. What are you looking to spend?"

Note: I hate haggling. I'm terrible at it, I don't enjoy it on any level, and i would prefer things to simply have a set price. 

"Um, well how much does it cost? Then I'll see if that's what I want to spend."

So he goes, "This is the price I can do." And he slid the number over to me.

It was a scene straight out of a bad TV show where negotiations are made by writing down a figure and passing it back and forth to each other to work out a price. Only, I didn't want to do this. And, instead of like in those TV shows where the numbers are written down on paper, folded in half and passed across the table, this number exchange happened on, wait for it, a calculator.  

A calculator! Who has ever heard of a calculator haggle?! There was no one around us, there was no reason to be secretive, and it was totally pointless to not just say the number. Did he expect me to type a number back to him? Fighting an eye-roll with every bit of my being, I thanked him and started to walk away.

"Wait, what number were you thinking?" (This guy would make a terrible magician.) 

I was tempted to play along because I thought it might be fun to say something like, "I'm thinking of something closer to... this." But I wasn't sure how calculator haggling worked so I just said, "It's OK, thanks anyway."

But of course, today, in true staircase fashion, I thought of how funny it would have been to take the calculator, squint like I was thinking of a fair price, clear his number away, and type BOOB, before passing it back to him.  It was probably the only real opportunity I will ever have to type BOOB on a calculator and I missed it. Sorry, third grade version of me. I let you down. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Keeping It Real.

My old buddy Matt has always had the brilliant talent of cutting through bs when talking to people. I appreciate this on so many levels but mainly because a) The truth can be hilarious and b) I feel like he's sort of the last of the Mohicans in terms of being honest about what's going on in his life.

These are weird times. If you're not trying to find yourself (I was under the sofa cushion all along!) you're trying to find your calling, or career path, or soulmate, or cause, or purpose, or anything that you can use to talk about with confidence when you run into people who want to know what you're doing. And it seems like everyone our age is constantly working on finely tuning the answers they give, so not only do they sound important, but you usually have no idea what they're talking about.  

-Do you ever hear from so-and-so?
-Oh, yeah, just saw her the other day.
-What's she up to?
-Um, I don't really know. I think she's either like making or buying all of the money that goes into Canada? I'm not sure. It has to do with money, and computers, and I think she said something about babies.

Anyway, whenever I hear from Matt I remember how great it is to know someone who refuses to sugarcoat things. This is from our conversation:

Me: So are you liking that new job?
Matt: No. I hate it. I go in, do 20-minutes of data entry and then surf the internet until I go home.
Me: And it's full time?
Matt: Yeah. It's a lot of internet time. Last week, after watching every available YouTube video on the topic, and I learned how to make cheese. If I wanted to, I could make cheese.  I know everything there is to know about making cheese.
Me: Wow. But maybe make a few test batches before serving your friends Internet cheese.
Matt: I don't need to. My cheese would be awesome. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Well, That's Not Normal.

My cousin was telling us that the other day he saw a man walking down the side of the road carrying a giant pig's head. It turns out that man was our uncle.  

This is how Jonny described it:

"I was driving near Grandma's house, and some guy was walking down the road carrying a giant pig's head. Then I saw my mother walking about 10 feet behind the man with the pig's head. So I turned around."

The "pig" is in fact, a wild boar. And it has been mounted to a wall. And it has been named Harvey. And it was purchased for $20 at--I kid you not--at a taxidermist's yard sale.  (I'm sorry, but I seriously want to write a book called A Taxidermist's Yard Sale.) 

A buddy of mine made an excellent point upon hearing that taxidermists have yard sales by saying, "Sure, you have to get rid of the product. Taxidermists are kind of like car salesmen in that respect.  You can't stack 'em." 

It was such a valid argument that I almost thought it made everything OK. But then I decided, nope. It's still effing weird.  

Apparently my uncle wanted to buy a falcon too, but my aunt said she wouldn't help him carry it home, so he didn't. 

If you've never seen a wild boar head in person, it is INCREDIBLY scary. Honestly. I have a picture of Harvey but I don't actually want it on my blog so you'll just have to take my word for it.  However, this was my sister's face after seeing it for the first time, if that gives you any indication of how creepy it is. 

 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Scariest First Day Of School Ever.

Wealthy people who are headed to jail now have the option to learn about what they should be expecting behind bars thanks to a growing field of experts known as prison consultants. Time Magazine reports that people such as Bernie Madoff and Plaxico Burress have hired these prison coaches to learn how to handle themselves while incarcerated. 

Note: Burress is going to jail after shooting himself in the leg with an unlicensed gun he put in his sweatpants. I know nothing about guns but I know TONS about sweatpants. Anyone who has ever tried to put their ipod in the waist of their sweatpants knows how big of a moron this guy is. 

Anyway, prison consultants charge $100/hr for phone consultations, $150/hr for webinars, or for $20,000 a person can sign up for a 100-hour course. I imagine the course is divided into these fundamental units of prison education:
-Shiv Making
-Economics. Namely, learning the USD conversion rate for a pack of cigarettes.
-Intro to Rec Yard Culture
-Art Appreciation
-History of Eye Aversion. A look at historical figures from Ancient Egypt to modern times who managed to always keep their heads down.
-Viticulture & Enology: How to make toilet wine.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It Makes For A Pretty Lame BBQ.

In the latest "I'm an idiot" news, this was my end of a phone conversation with a potential roommate the other day:

-Sorry, a what?
-No, I'm single.
-What's that? Oh, a grill. Uh, no. I don't have one of those either. 

Friday, August 21, 2009

My New Favorite Story.

I was handing Sabrina my coffee the other night so she could dip part of her cookie into it and she goes, "Get your filthy hands off of it! I want to hold it!" and then smiled like I should know what she was talking about.

"What are you talking about?"
"You know, like that lady from the gum story."
"What gum story?"
"THE gum story. The lady on the train. I've told you that story, right?"
"Um, no."
Bugging her eyes out as wide as she could, she smacked the sofa cushion and yelled, "I've never told you the story about the gum lady?!"
"No."
"Oh my gosh! I'm so excited! This is my favorite story to tell!"

OK, so I have to say that typing this story out will strip it of most of its dramatic integrity.  The best part was the way Bri told it.  But this will have to do.  For the part of the old lady, it's important to know that the voice Sabrina used was a cross between the Lord of The Rings "Precious" character and a frog.  Also, she swears that all of this is 100% true. As follows in Brina's words.

I was sitting on the train across from a girl in her early 20's and at a stop an old woman wearing layers and layers of clothes and a babushka on her head got on and sat down next to her. The girl took out a pack of Orbitz gum from her bag, grabbed a piece, and put the pack back in her bag when all of a sudden you hear, "Can I have some gum?!"  The girl looked up to see who was talking to her and again you hear, "Can I have some gum?!"  She turned to the old woman to see if it was her voice coming out of the babushka and said, "Sorry? Do you want a piece?" and the woman goes, "Yeah."

So the girl once again takes the pack of gum out of her bag, opens it up, reaches for a stick, and the woman starts to scream, "Get your filthy hands off of it! I want to hold it!"

By this point everyone on the train car was watching.  Slightly confused, the girl handed her the pack of gum and the old woman quickly started to touch every piece before finally grabbing all of the gum out of the pack and throwing the box on the ground. Hesitating for a second, the girl simply leaned over and picked up the empty pack from the floor.  

The old woman, now holding all of the gum, opened her own bag and reached around inside before pulling out a huge clear plastic bag.  A huge clear plastic bag FULL OF GUM! She dumped all of the new pieces into the bag and put it away. When the doors opened at the next stop, the old lady got off the train.

I have a theory that everyone in the world likes to be offered gum, so I think that's why I enjoyed this story so much.  But maybe it was just the funny voice Brina was using.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Karianne And Pat's Wedding.


My cousin Karianne is basically the sweetest person in the entire world and conveniently, she just married one of the sweetest guys.  Pics from their wedding last weekend.



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Second Amendment.


Thanks to a newfound obsession with protein shakes, my little sister has taken to challenging random beefy strangers to flex-offs.

When she starts to pull cars with rope, we're having an intervention to get her back on regular fruit smoothies. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Watch Your Step.

Guests and servants leaving a room after seeing the Queen of England will no longer be required to walk backwards. The longstanding royal tradition of never showing your back to the Queen was lifted for safety reasons after Her Majesty redecorated most of Buckingham Palace using an M.C. Escher design motif.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Buck Melanoma. Moley Russell's Wart.

Not her wart. Not her wart! I'm...I'm the wart. She's my tumor. My...my growth. My...uh, my pimple. I'm Uncle Wart. Just old Buck "Wart" Russell. That's what they call me. Or Melanoma Head. They'll call me that. "Melanoma Head's coming." I'm...uncle! Maisy Russell's uncle!

Writer and director John Hughes passed away yesterday. When my family talks about "the classics" we're referring to films like Uncle Buck or The Great Outdoors or Ferris Bueller's Day Off. And while it's quite common for my father to forget my name when he's talking to me, he somehow remembers every single line from Christmas Vacation.

My sisters and I grew up watching John Hughes movies on repeat. We memorized entire screenplays just by rewinding funny scenes and playing them over and over. Quoting lines to each other was always a road trip game, or just a guaranteed way to make someone in our family laugh out loud. As we grew older, random quotes from his scripts became code. I've had entire conversations with my sisters using only lines from John Hughes films.

I was talking to Sabrina about it and she agreed that his writing truly shaped so much of what we find funny. And she made an excellent point by saying, "We thought our family was normal because of his movies."

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Moving Too Fast.

I was on the phone with a customer service rep the other day and just before hanging up I said, "OK, thanks. Love you."

I do this more often than I'd like to admit.

I'm so used to slowly enunciating my commands into the phone for robot options, that when I actually speak to a human, I slip.
"CUS-TOM-ER SER-VICE."
"Yes, this is a real person you're talking to."
"Oh, sorry."

And it wouldn't be so awkward if I just hung up. "Love you!" Click. It might give them a chuckle. But I never just leave it. If I happen to say "love you" I immediately start to explain the error.

"Sorry, I didn't mean that. I don't love you. I don't even know you. But I mean, I'm sure the people who know you love you. I bet you're a really nice person. You have a very nice speaking voice. But that's not like a line or anything. Like, 'Hey, nice voice, why don't you call me next time? Press # for more options.' Right? And I don't even know what that means. It was supposed to be like a menu options joke. It didn't make sense. Anyway...umm...thanks again for your help, and uhh, have a nice day."

It wouldn't be so bad except there's a very strong possibility that for quality assurance purposes, my calls may be recorded.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I See A 6th-Grade Art Project.

The doctor draws two circles and says, "What do you see?"
The guy says, "Sex."
So the doctor draws trees. "What do you see?"
The guy says, "Sex."
The doctor draws a car, owl, "Sex, sex, sex."
The doctor says to him, "You are obsessed with sex."
The guy replies, "Well you're the one drawing all the dirty pictures."
-From What About Bob?

Noam Cohen wrote a really interesting article in the NYT about the ten inkblot plates from the famous Rorschach test being made public on Wikipedia. A doctor posted the ten plates on the website and included the common answers people use when asked to describe what they see, upsetting many experts who believe this destroys the purpose of the test. Some doctors fear that once people know the common answers, it will influence how they respond during testing.

I wasn't sure how I felt about this. The power of suggestion is strong, so I suppose if you had an idea ahead of time of what you should be looking for, it might skew the deeply-rooted mysteries of your subconscious, thus stunting your potential for overall growth and understanding. But it seems that most people just see bats, butterflies, or a face. I wouldn't exactly call that a cheat sheet. In fact, I think that's what's referred to in Jungian psychology as, "A-Doyeee."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shout Out.

I have to hand it to the cotton candy vendors at sporting events for their vocal efforts. If there is one snack that you don't need to announce, it's cotton candy. When people see you walking around a stadium with 65 individually wrapped bags of cotton candy on your head, there's very little wiggle room for interpretation. It really takes a special type of person to carry around the most obvious thing in the world and still feel the need to yell about it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Business Decisions Should Not Be Made At 2 A.M.

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson has reportedly put in an offer to buy 105 Waffle House establishments for 20.2 dollars in cash and later payments. Wait, I guess it's $20.2 million. Million?! Have Phil and his business associates ever been inside a Waffle House? They might want to check their math.

America has a long, proud history of serving the completely wasted. Members of The First Continental Congress were known to frequent Denny's restaurants late at night to discuss British economic sanctions and how crazy it is that you can't know what a strawberry tastes like to other people. While eating his fourth Moons Over My Hammy sandwich, Patrick Henry was famously quoted as saying, "Does my hand look weird to you?"

Waffle House became synonymous with drunk-feeding when it introduced the most disgusting list of preparation techniques for hash browns the world has ever seen:
Traditional
Scattered & Smothered
Scattered, Smothered & Covered
Scattered, Smothered, Covered & Chunked

"Now are these how the browns are served, or how they'll end up?"

One time at a Waffle House in Florida, our waitress was wearing a button that said "I'm #2."
It sort of gave us an idea ahead of time, what we should be expecting.

My hometown is famous for a grocery store and a menu item known as the Garbage Plate, so I'm not judging here. Building a successful business on a food item that includes the word GARBAGE in its name is the reason I truly do believe that anything is possible in America. But buying 105 Waffle Houses is like buying 105...I don't know. I actually can't think of a worse example of something to buy. It's just a really bad idea.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Um, Not For Anything...

But I totally invented this! I called it Urban Glide, and yes, I did envision long ski-like skates to be worn, but come on! Same basic idea! Ugh, Nordic Walking! Why didn't I think to use Nordic? Everything sounds more official with "Nordic" in front of it.

Honestly though, I've had this idea since college. Because Syracuse is so effing cold, I used to try to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. My eye froze shut once on a walk to class. I'm not kidding. But, as you might imagine, running everywhere was hard to play-off.
-Why were you sprinting around like an idiot on the quad today?
-What? That wasn't me.

I found that if I held on to the excess material hanging from my backpack straps, I could use those as pole-type devices, swinging my arms as I walked, and thus increasing my normal walking speed. I wasn't running, I was gliding. Add in a nice layer of ice and I could literally slide from class to class. In the spring I always thought to myself, OK, some sort of skate should be involved here. And then I did nothing about it.

And now, years later, someone has stolen my idea about swinging your arms as you walk, and has thought to use actual poles instead of backpack straps, but same basic principle really, except that the poles have technology, design, and a trade association on their side, and mine were straps of nylon connected to a book bag. Whatever. I thought of it first.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Please Return Your Seat To The Upright Position, And Stop Eating Your Poop.

Pet Airways, the first ever all-pet airline, made its first flight yesterday.

Here's how I imagine things went:

At check in:
Mr. BooBoo, has anyone asked you to carry anything in your bag for today's flight?
(panting)
Mr. BooBoo? Do you know what's in your bag, sir?
(panting)
Mr. BooBoo, I'm going to need you to come with me sir.

After takeoff:
Ladies and gentlemen this is your Captain speaking. Yes it is! Who's the Captain?! Huh?! I'm the Captain, yes I am! Who does the Captain love?! Who does the Captain love?! (cough) We'll be climbing up to our maximum altitude shortly. Sit back, feel free to pee on something, enjoy the flight.

During the flight:
Ma'am while the light is on I'm going to need you to sit in your seat. Siiiit. Sit. Siiiiit down. Sit down please. Sit. Good girl! Hey! Sit please!

And when they landed half of the bags had been torn or eaten.

I'm only basing these scenarios on the last few domestic flights I've taken.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

i(don't care)phone.

My older sister has joined the masses. Soon she will be tapping at every surface she encounters waiting for a menu to appear, her attention span will shrink to milliseconds, and she will become one of those people who constantly say things like, "Oh, I can look that up for you!"
Sometimes people just throw a question out there to start conversation. They don't actually care about Guam's major export. Put your phone away.

Remember when you used your phone to call people? Remember when the world clock function seemed freaking amazing?
-Hey look what time it is in Jakarta!
-Do you know someone in Jakarta?
-No. But cool, right?

And a few years ago when my dad lost his cell he went into an impassioned speech about how there should be a place where you always left your phone so you could never lose it.
"There should be a holder on the wall where you have to keep your cell phone. So every day, it's there, right on the wall, waiting for you."
"You mean like the phone, dad?"

When cell phones were first going mainstream the only way we could convince my grandma to get one was by telling her that her car could break down at any moment. That was a big selling point for the first cell phones. Your car could break down! Then what?!
My grandma bought a new car before she bought a cell phone.

The cell phone used to just be a convenient way to get in touch with people. Now your phone can know more about you than anyone in your contact list. You're just a phone, little iphone. You're not allowed in my head. Plus, as something of a time-waster savant, I'm offended by all these high-tech downloads that help regular people kill time. Talk to yourself in the mirror, stop downloading restaurant apps.

Obviously, there's an app for anything. Apparently people even exercise off their iphones. 6-minute apps? Soon there will be iphones with elliptical arm handles or apps that call you at random times to yell, "RUN!" making you drop whatever you're doing and start running.
-Excuse me, I have to take this.
-Run!
-[sprinting out of a meeting] I'm sorry! I'm on a program!

Brina was telling me about the Moron App, which is a quiz that helps you figure out how big of a moron you are. Right. If there was ever a reason for me to NOT spend 99 cents on something, it's the moron app. I LIVE the moron app.

There's even an app that uses the GPS in your phone to allow other people to see where you are. This is also called, "THE WORST IDEA IN THE WORLD App." Who in their right mind would sign up for this? If you want people to know where you are, you tell them.

It must be written somewhere in the small print of an iphone contract that as soon as you buy an iphone, you must mention it in every conversation you have for the first month. I want to invent an app that counts how many times iphone users say "iphone." Sabrina might be world champion.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Live A Little.

A newly published study suggests that calorie restriction in diets can extend lives. Mice given 30% fewer calories lived up to 40% longer and rhesus monkeys on the diet were able to avoid certain diseases associated with aging.
The older, thinner mice and monkeys were also miserable.

Scientists hope to prove that calorie restriction in human diets will have similar effects in terms of delaying aging. Although, unlike the controlled experiments, humans can eat an effing cupcake whenever they want one, so researchers believe the study may be flawed. Also, most people agree that spending 99% of your extra 10% of life shouting things like, "I'm hungry, idiot!" just isn't worth it.

Monday, July 06, 2009

It's The Climb.

I like listening to Miley Cyrus sing about struggle.

Keep on keeping on Miley.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Here Lloyd, This Helps.

With the arrival of the summer heat, so enters the makeshift fan. Magazines, newspapers, pieces of scrap paper folded in half, or the ambitious frenetic waving of your own hand in front of your face--anything that can create a slight whisper of a breeze for your head. Which, when you think about it, is always where you're super hot, right? What's the one thing people are constantly saying during the summer? "Ugh, I need to cool down my face."
Exactly.

One of my favorite forms of people-watching involves large groups of people using whatever booklet they've been given as a fan. Graduations are great for this. So are theatres with weak air-conditioning. It's sort of an uncoordinated piece of performance art. Some genius thinks, "Hey, it's hot in here." and starts waving his program in front of his face. Others catch on, and agree. Eventually all you'll see is flapping programs. I love it.

Of course, wherever there's a makeshift fan, there's always the person who chimes in with, "You know, that's just going to make you hotter." These people weigh in like they've conducted numerous scientific tests, dropping phrases like "energy exertion" and "heat creation."
These are also the same people who 3-minutes later, start to fan themselves with their Playbill.

No one knows if it works, and honestly, no one really cares. When it's hot and there's no breeze outside, fanning yourself with whatever you happen to be holding is just the universal response to the heat. It's the pee-dance of the summer.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson.

I read an article a few weeks ago in which a chef described the importance of food by saying that "everyone has a story about food." I loved this because it's so true. Ask anyone you meet and chances are, they can give you a detailed food memory. They can probably give you ten.

I think the same holds true for Michael Jackson's music. You'd be hard-pressed to find a person of our generation anywhere in the world who doesn't have at least one strong memory tied to a Michael Jackson song. That's pretty amazing if you think about it. Plus, probably every person who has ever closed their bedroom door and turned on some music, has tried to moonwalk. That's what I call a legacy.

These are my top 5 Michael Jackson memories:
-My cousin Jonathan showing up to Christmas one year when we were kids wearing a red leather jacket and a sparkly glove. Without exaggeration, I was so jealous I almost started crying.
-Listening to the "Bad" tape on my first Walkman.
-Pretending I wasn't terrified by the Thriller video.
-Michelle Garren busting out the Thriller dance every time we drank in college. The first time I saw her do it is in my Top 10 Hardest Laughs list.
-Dancing around my great-grandma's basement with my sisters and my cousins, trying to do the moonwalk. Who are we kidding? I'm still trying to do the moonwalk.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oh, Ina.

I was watching a documentary on PBS about chickens and one of the stories was about a farmer who thought he killed a chicken but it ended up living without its head --for like, a long time. Eventually that headless chicken (named Mike) toured with side shows and became sort of famous. Someone they interviewed said, "And that chicken traveled all the way to London, England."

I'm serious.

If the documentary hadn't been on PBS, I definitely would have thought it was a joke. I get the same feeling when I watch The Barefoot Contessa on The Food Network. It really seems like a perfect parody of a cooking show, but it's on a channel dedicated to cooking shows, so it's probably just about food. However, there are so many ridiculous subplots on Barefoot that I can't help but think that Ina Garten is a satirical genius who has us all fooled.

Ina always speaks like she's popped a few muscle relaxants, so no matter how many people she's having over for dinner she keeps repeating things like, "How easy is that?" or "Who wouldn't like that?" as she slowly floats around her kitchen making coq au vin and setting the table using some kind of whimsical theme. "I need to go to the store and get sailboat rope for the table."

When I cook I start by opening a bottle of chef's juice and then swear a lot.

Ina and her husband Jeffery have an incredibly weird relationship that centers around Paris, what Jeffery likes to eat, awkward kissing scenes, and celebrating benchmark moments in Jeffery's life. Apparently Jeffery is the most wonderful man in the world despite the fact that he can never quite get off his ass to make his own sandwich. Jeffery has 30,000 favorite meals and Ina makes some version of them for seriously any occasion, while he stays in his study doing whatever it is he does. "Today is Tuesday and when we lived in Paris, Jeffery always loved Tuesdays. So I thought, what better way to celebrate Tuesday morning than to surprise Jeffery with Beef Bourguignon for breakfast? Now who wouldn't like that?"

Her Hamptons lifestyle keeps me glued. Running errands consists of going to three over-priced speciality food markets and then stopping at the beach to drink a split of Veuve. I like when she calls a friend and tells them to pick up one random thing before a party. Those completely planned scenes are amazing.
-Oh hi Ina!
-Hi! Listen, can you pick up a jar of jam?
-Jam? Sure.
-Thanks! Actually, I'll make my own jam. Can you pick up a case of Grand Marnier?
-A case? Sure.
-Oh, you know what, Jeffery has a case in his study. Can you buy 5 throw pillows for the table?

And then every episode ends with a dinner party where the guests laugh maniacally at nothing. Watch for it. It's actually really scary.

Not everyone is a fan though. Someone on Youtube described different clips from her show like this:
"Ina Garten shows where her stupid friend will be staying."
"Ina's stupid old friend tries to take over The Barefoot Contessa."
"Ina and her stupid friend have a midnight snack and claim that it doesn't count."

But if you're bored and making dinner anyway, it doesn't hurt to pretend you're Ina while doing it. Make up an elaborate backstory about why Jeffery loves frozen veggie burgers, call a buddy to have them pick up 3 organic peaches, and put something that doesn't belong on a dinner table on the dinner table.

How bad can that be?