Friday, January 30, 2009

"I'll handle this, Violet. Why don't you take your three-hour break."

Newman: Oh, calm down everyone. No one's cancelling any mail.
Kramer: Oh, yes, I am.
Newman: What about your bills?
Kramer: The bank can pay 'em.
Newman: The bank. What about your cards and letters?
Kramer: E-mail, telephones, fax machines. Fedex, telex, telegrams, holograms.
Newman: All right, it's true! Of course nobody needs mail. What do you think, you're so clever for figuring that out? But you don't know the half of what goes on here. So just walk away, Kramer. I beg of you.

So I'm sure by now you've heard the red alert that the postmaster general wants to cut mail service down from 6 days a week to five. This news has been on par with the peanut paste thing. "Don't eat peanut paste! It's contaminated!" Thanks for that. I was consuming most of my peanut products in paste form. But apparently the post office could lose as much as $6 billion next year if they don't make the switch. Do you know how many postcard stamps that is?!

I think the 5-day service switch is a great idea because no one really appreciates the mail anymore. I bet the people waiting on the Pony Express to roll into town were pretty freakin' amped to see that Valpak.

According to the Associated Press, the post office needs to send about 9 billion more pieces of mail this year to meet its budget. If they let Bernie Madoff get involved to start those chain letters that we used to get in fourth grade, maybe people would be willing to go through a book of stamps to receive good fortune. If every American sent out 20 letters every week for 52 weeks, and the post office cut service to 5 days, plus holidays, and increased the price of the forever stamp, forever, I think the budget concerns would be a thing of the past.

Or maybe they should just start charging a fee to rent a pen at the post office. Because they never have pens there.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Problem Solved.

So I hear Lost is back. I'm not a fan. I've mentioned this before. During the first few seasons whenever people started talking about the show I'd ask them to explain the plotline to me and then three words into their explanations I'd add, "But say it with a straight face."
If people could get through a rundown of the program, dropping words like "monster" without smiling, I'd know not to talk to them about TV again.

One of my roommates in San Francisco was really into Battlestar Galactica and I made the mistake onetime of sitting down to watch it with him.
"So these people are in space?"
"Then where do they get those salon quality haircuts?"

And then he hit pause on the Tivo until I left.

I get that these shows thrive on suspended disbelief and people dig that, but the Lost thing is out of control. The Wikipedia page for Lost is about 30 times larger than the Wikipedia page for Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Let's have a little perspective people.

I only bring this up because I overheard what I'd consider a genuine argument the other day as someone yelled, "It's NOT a dinosaur!"

The yelling thing scared me. Watching Lost fans struggle to keep a straight face while saying "blob" or "tropical polar bear" used to be good for a little laugh. But I don't want one of these freaks to cut me. From now on if I hear anyone mention the show, I'm just going to say I don't own a television anymore. My TV was misplaced on a flight home from Australia.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Write That Down.

Listening to a list of the nightly specials at restaurants has started to make me feel uncomfortable. Due to the complexity of the food some restaurants now serve, it's become a Top Chef story hour of ingredients and preparation techniques as the server tells a tale about where each dish was locally harvested and why there's foam on the plate. The overuse of adjectives doesn't help either. I have no idea what an auspicious salad is supposed to taste like.

Hearing, "Let me tell you about tonight's specials" gives me the same feeling I get when a person starts to sing or play the flute on the subway. OK, this might be awhile. Should I look at you? Should I look away? Should I nod at everything you say or smile when you name something I like? Should I interrupt your flow of information with an "Oooh, that sounds good" or hold that until the end?

There must be some sort of unwritten rule for handling this. There seems to be an unwritten rule for almost everything else.

People love talking about unwritten rules. I think it's because the lack of solid evidence frees them to make any claim they want. "I'm sorry, but if the car in front of you leaves their blinker on for more than a mile, you're allowed to rear end them. That's just an unwritten rule."
You can learn a lot about a person through the unwritten rules they mention--and also by looking at the front of their car.

It's amazing how many lists of unwritten rules are posted on the internet.

"12 Unwritten Rules of Cellphone Etiquette."
"The Unwritten Rules of Movie Watching."
"25 Unwritten Rules For Writing Rules That Should Remain Unwritten: A Novel."

Everyone has their personal favorite. Unwritten rules for travel, waiting in line, eating. Years ago I learned about the unwritten rules of Bingo. I won't pretend to know anything about Bingo Etiquette except to say that it exists and involves a dauber. Note: If you ever want to get kicked out of a Catholic school's basement during a Wednesday night game of Bingo, call a false Bingo twice in a row. How do people not know you're joking when you shout "Bingo!" after the first number is called?

Elevator Etiquette is one of the unwritten universals. Nothing brings people together on the rules of social behavior quite like standing in vertical transport with strangers. Save for that lone weirdo, we all agree that an elevator trip is life's pause button. Who we are, what we're doing, where we're going, where we've been--it's all canceled out on the elevator. Maybe because lifts were originally meant for freight we all just assume that role.

Some people nod when entering an elevator as if to say, "I'm entering the elevator now" and most people will nod back in confirmation, "Yes, you are." A fake smile is often used here as well. More of a frown than a smile, an elevator fake smile never exposes teeth and it states in the quietest way possible, don't talk to me.

It blows my mind when couples say they met on an elevator. Seriously? How?
The danger is that an elevator ride can make anyone who says more than, "floor?" seem like a charming wordsmith. These are usually the same couples who a few months into the relationship complain they they're having trouble communicating.

Most unwritten rules boil down to one of two things: Be quiet or show up with wine. So I guess I need to start looking for mime restaurants with a corkage fee. No lengthy explanations, just nightly specials trapped in a box or being pulled from the kitchen with invisible rope.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Edward R. Murrow Would Be Proud.

It's a shame that they edited this video because when I saw it this morning the guy kept interrupting Heidi Collins asking to show the water trick while she repeated over and over, "I'm sorry, we have to get to some news."

Is it just me, or do you get the feeling that local weatherman were the kids in school who used to lick their shoes?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Get Out Of My Head Robot Voice.

I had a dream last night that T-Pain was my roommate and we threw a party to help teach people how to recycle.
A dream dictionary that could figure that one out hasn't been written yet.
But I guess it's easier to understand than the recurring dreams I was having about The Supernanny.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Try To Follow This.

The following is from an actual conversation I had with my father the other day after a wind storm. The word "generator" has been omitted about 30 times.

"Well, the power's out! Lines are down all over the road! The wind snapped the poles like toothpicks! You think the wind cares? The wind doesn't care!"
"I've never really thought about the wind like that before."
"We had to have Garr help us hook a generator up to a tractor to get some power going on the farm."
"I'm sorry, who?"
"Is that some sort of mythical creature?"
"You've heard me mention Garrr before."
"Garrgh, the Norse God of Portable Energy?"
"He works over at Suburban Electric."
"I don't know what that is. They install generators?"
"No, but I guess Garar knows a lot about generators."
"Enough to hook them up to tractors to heat homes?"
"And his name is Gar?"
"It might be short for Garfield or Gar...Gar...I don't know."
"Oh! Remember that party your mother and I went to for Margot's birthday at the Belhurst Castle in Geneva?"
"Margot Bill Frank's wife."
"Margot Bill, Frank's wife? Or Margot Frank, Bill's wife?"
"Bill Frank worked on our refrigeration for the storage. Margot is German."
[Blank Stare]
"Look, the point is, Garr was at that party."

Having a conversation with my dad is remarkably similar to playing Three-Card Monte except that I'm never told which card I'm supposed to identify.