Friday, November 16, 2007

Mark As Spam

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

You Don't Know What I'm Up Against

Well, the good news is I didn't have to wait until Wednesday. This email was waiting for me in my inbox last night.

Thank you for your interest in an opportunity with Apple retail. At this time we have chosen to move ahead with candidates who better meet the business needs today. We wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Thank you again for your time and interest in Apple Inc.

So that's it. I'm boned. I did really good Friday, I know I did. I mean, I would have bought something from me. But it wasn't good enough. They tell you that you don't have to pressure customers and selling isn't a big deal because people come in four times before they buy something, but they're full of shit. All they care about is if you can get someone to buy their overpriced crap. Clearly having an extensive history using the product first hand holds no bearing. I've been using these stupid computers on a daily basis since high school. Whenever one of them starts acting wonky at work, I'm usually the one that figures out the problem and how to fix it. That is, unless Joe discovers it first and immediately calls IT to have someone come in on the company dime. Did I really just write "the company dime?" God. Well, whatever, the point is, it takes maybe thirty seconds to look up the problem on the internet, and more than likely you'll find someone who had the exact same problem and, more importantly, a way to fix it. And it costs nothing! Why is that so hard to do?

I think I got a little off track. What I'm getting at is I'm well versed in Apple computers. Apparently, that means absolutely dick to them. What is it you want? In the depths of your ignorance, what is it you want?

What they want, what they mean by someone who can "better meet the business needs today," is retail experience. I've never worked retail, so I could be Steve Jobs and they wouldn't hire me. And that's understandable, but what about all these teenagers that work retail as their first job? How did they get hired? It's not that I can't do it, it just that I haven't done it yet. Is this going to happen at every retail place? Am I so colossally awful that no one will even give me a chance?

And people come in four times before they buy something? Really? And they don't look at the price until the third time. Really? They have to know it's there. This isn't The Price is Right, there's no cardboard placard covering up the retail value, the first time you come into the store BAM! the price is plainly displayed. It's the first thing I look at when I got to a store. I can't for one minute believe that anyone not suffering for deep-rooted psychological problems would walk into a store three times before "asking" a salesperson how much something costs, only to have the salesperson tell them THE EXACT SAME THING THAT'S WRITTEN ON THE DAMN SIGN THAT'S BEEN THERE THE WHOLE TIME! I know when they give these little examples they're not meant to be taken literally, but nothing about that whole four times thing makes any sense at all. People browse. That's all they need to say. Four times. Give me a break.

Screw Apple and their smug commercials. Justin Long seems like a good enough guy, but if I ever meet him in person I kind of feel like I have to punch him in the face.

I don't know where this leaves me now. I've got a list of places that I've applied to multiple times since the summer, but I think if I apply to them any more times I'm going to get hit with a restraining order. I haven't tried Circuit City yet. Actually, I didn't even think about Circuit City until last night, since I haven't even been in there since Best Buy opened, and that was about ten years ago. But if I were to work there, maybe I'd be persuaded to spend some of my paycheck what do you say, Circuit City? Will you let me sit on the couch with John Elway and Mike Ditka, or are you going to be dicks like Apple?

Monday, November 05, 2007


I got to take that Apple hiring seminar thing again on Friday. I won't here back from them until Wednesday, but I feel a lot better about my chances this time. If I don't get hired, I'm going to have to start thinking about selling body parts. Anyone need a healthy liver?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

Labor Day weekend may have been the greatest couple of days in my sad, sorry little life. Of course, then I got the hiccups for nearly five days, had to get a chest x-ray and a blood test, took prescription antacids and finally had the hiccups supplanted by constant, horrible coughing. And the pills made my crap turn black and spherical, like little bowling balls. Not to mention the constant job search, and getting turned down for a crap job AT THE MALL by people who are too stupid to use a PC. If Apple's share of the personal computer market is growing by leaps and bounds, then how come half the online applications for retail stores I tried to fill out wouldn't even let me finish because they weren't Mac-compatible? Congratulations on that five percent of the market, fellas. Keep reaching for the stars! But enough about all that. Back to Labor Day.

The awesomeness started when Brianna got back that Saturday. Oh yeah, I somehow forgot to mention that she's been in South Carolina since July 4th and the house has been heartbreakingly empty without her. Anyway, she'd been gone all summer and finally came back with Michele's sister that Saturday night. To celebrate, we went to Famous Dave's, Brianna's favorite restaurant. She got taller over the summer, and turned nine at the end of September. Man, that's depressing. It seems like just the other day she was wearing playing in my pajama pants. There's got to be a better way of saying that.

The other thing that would have been reported earlier were it not for my habit of long spells of infrequent updates is Nick and Heidi moved into the house next door to my parents. They moved in the weekend before Labor Day, and I asked my mom which day we were going to have a barbecue, because Nick might be having one, too. Somehow, this pure speculation on my part became fact, after Nick called me and said, "Did you tell your mom I was having a barbecue?" No, I said might. I saw a red grill when we were unloading the moving truck and, knowing that traditionally people have barbecues on Labor Day weekend for some reason, I thought there was a possibility that maybe they'd be doing something, and I just thought we'd coordinate. Well, whatever. My "idea" turned into a whole bunch of people coming over to Nick's place Monday, most of whom I'd never seen before or since. One of them was actually the mother of someone who was invited, but couldn't go so she sent her mom instead. Huh. I guess they're Hedie's friends. It's weird to think of her in her own world outside of our sheltered little group, I guess in the same way I can't really picture Lord Loser hanging out with his non-blog buddies, probably sitting around a campfire, eating cow placenta and talking about their beards.

Before the barbecue, I was out in the woods by the river behind my parent's house. Why? Well, you may remember a few years ago my brother found some rusty old gun barrels buried in the hill. We've also found some old bottles, most of which are worthless, but there's actually people out there that collect old bottles, and not just for the five cent deposit. One of the bottles I dug up a few years ago is an amber Warner's Safe Cure bottle which are apparently big collector's items. So I went out by the river to see if I could find any other cool stuff in the ground. Little did I know what I was about to unearth. Not anything I could sell, but something much, much better.

Long periods of no rain coupled with unseasonably warm weather left the already humble river withered down to a mere trickle. Behind my grandmother's house, sand patches that normally made up the riverbed now protruded into islands that baked in the noonday sun.

As I stood on the muddy riverbank, looking across at one such island, the clouds parted and a shimmering ray of sunlight shown down directly on possibly the greatest thing I'd ever seen. There, caked in mud and sitting atop a sand dune in the middle of the river, was what looked, it can't be. Yes, it was! A Rock'em Sock'em Robot!

I knew right then that this was probably going to be the highlight of my life until I have kids. And even then it's a toss-up. I'd never owned a Rock'em Sock'em Robot set, or even had the desire to, but something about seeing that lone robot discarded in the river made my face light up. It was much bigger than I'd always pictured these things. Presumably years in the mud had stained it almost completely black, and at first I figured it was the blue one, but after cleaning it off a bit, faint traces of red were detected in the um, crotch area.

Not far from where I found the robot, I found a pretty cool squirt gun that, like the robot, had been transformed by years of gunk and filth from a goofy neon orange color to a realistic matte black. Subsequent trips further down the river revealed an ominous decapitated doll and a weathered and mangy Abu from Aladdin, both found in the woods on the other side of the river and creeped me out more than a little.


I also saw a snapping turtle chilling out in one of the few spots where the water was still deep enough to completely submerge itself. I saw him the next day sunbathing over by where the robot was. I asked it how to stop The Nothing, but it mostly just ignored me.

So anyway, finding that robot wrapped me in a swaddling cloth of confidence, as if it bestowed mystic Rock'em Sock'em powers unto me as thanks for releasing it from it's watery tomb. Everything from that point on seemed to be going my way. During the barbecue, I showed Nick and Hedie around their new home, since I practically grew up over there. My parents unlocked the upstairs apartment to show them around up there, and in one of the closets I found an abandoned Xbox game. I even uncharacteristically volunteered to go down the bulkhead into the creepy basement that seemed to be literally carved out rock and may have had some corpses down there. And later that night, we played a Madden 08 tournament and, despite a long and glorious history of losing in a spectacular fashion, I easily smoked everyone that stood in my path. It was the greatest weekend ever.

And then everything turned to crap. The robot giveth, the robot taketh away. Maybe I wasn't supposed to disturb him from his eternal slumber, and I've upset the delicate balance of something or other. Maybe it's like that cursed tiki idol from The Brady Bunch. But it's so cool. Maybe it's the ratty old Abu doll that's doing it. Yeah, that makes more sense. Evil monkey doll.

Anyway, everything's been going downhill ever since that weekend. So even the tiniest bit of good luck right now would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ever See An Apple That Could Take A Bite Outta You?

I don't have the hiccups anymore. So I've got that going for me. Which is nice. Unfortunately, I've spent every waking hour the past couple of months filling out applications for part time jobs and not one callback. It's the holiday season. Everyone is hiring, how hard can it be to get a job, right?

I don't know how many of you have every taken that 30-page personality test that accompanies nearly every online application, but if you have, and then went on to actually get the job, I ask you, what kind of crazy magic voodoo did you use to pass that thing? I've taken it for Best Buy, Borders, AMC Movie Theaters, Petco, Staples, Home Depot...always the same stupid questions. After several weeks of not hearing anything, I went into Best Buy and Borders to talk to an actual person and get an interview. The response at both places was that you can only apply on the computer, either at the store or online, and if you didn't score high enough on the personality test, the application isn't even sent to them. What is so important about that idiotic test? Don't those stupid assholes know there's nothing wrong with my personality?

Here's one of the statements, and in case you've never taken one of these before, each question is answered by a response of either "Strongly agree", "Agree," "Disagree," or "Strongly disagree":

You do things carefully so you don't make mistakes.

Does that mean "You do things carefully to avoid mistakes," or "You do things carefully. Therefore, you do not make mistakes"? The first statement means that you're efficient, which is what they're looking for, so you'd agree. But the second interpretation implies infallibility. And since no one is infallible, you are either lying or extremely arrogant--neither traits sought after by employees--so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. I mean, say agree.

What about this one:

You like to be in the center of a large crowd.

Well that depends, which way is the crowd facing? Is it facing in at me, in which case, why didn't they just ask the more straightforward question "Do you like to be the center of attention?" Or are they facing out away from me, as in "Do you like to blend in with the crowd?" And which one would they prefer? Are they looking for someone who's outgoing and proactive about helping customers as opposed to an introvert who scares away children, or are they trying to weed out the prima donnas (quick sidenote, I though it was pre-Madonnas until I was in High School) and loudmouths who spend all day talking to their friends instead of helping customers. It could go either way. Poorly written, ambiguous questions. God, I hate this test.

Then last week, I filled out an application for the Apple store. Guess what?! They don't have that ridiculous test! I was finally starting to feel good about a part time job. Optimistic, even. I just may save Christmas after all!

I got to the store last night, just before it closed. They ushered out all the customers, closed the doors and then me and five other guys sat at the back of the store with two employees, who showed us a couple of video presentations and slide shows. Did you know Apple opens 9 stores a day? Or that they generate over $4,000 per square foot per year? Or that Mac OSX Leopard turns water into wine? By the time the show was over, I couldn't wait to start working for the best company in this or any other time period in the history of mankind.

But first, a little test. The six of us were split into two groups of three, and asked to pick a product, either an iPhone, iPod, or Mac, and talk it up during a two minute drill to try and persuade our Apple employee hosts, who posed as a couple, into buying it.

My group chose the iPod. There was a Nano in a speaker display close to where we were sitting, so I suggested we get up and check it out. Man, those things are tiny. We examined it, one guy pulled out his Mastercard to confirm that the Nano is, in fact, considerably smaller than a credit card. I ran off a string of features, from the variety of colors available to the benefits of both the 4G and 8G models. I was doing pretty good.

Then the actual drill began. The other group went first. They picked the iPhone. The first guy started off explaining the phone itself and it's ease of use. He then passed it on to the next guy to talk about the iPod functions of the phone, and finally handed it off to the third member of the group, who talked about the remaining features and applications. Having three people try to sell you something seems a little impractical, but I've got to admit, they did a good job. The happy couple bought four hypothetical iPhones.

When it was our turn, we hadn't really thought out delegating who says what, and I was the last one to speak, so by the time it got to me, nearly everything that we'd thought of, including all my stuff, had already been said. I literally said something like, "It's'm sorry. I died." All week long I was so excited about going to this thing. It's something I knew I could do, and I was filled with confidence, which never happens. But then, in that moment, I just completely blanked. The only way it could have gone any worse was if I accidentally set them on fire.

When I got outside, I thought to myself, "Questions! I should have asked if they had any questions!" Even if everything had already been said, I still could have answered any questions they might have had. And if I really couldn't think of anything, the saving grace would have been to mention the free personal shopping. If the store is busy or about to close, or if a customer just wants your undivided attention, they can sign up for a personal shopping appointment, which means that on a specific day and time, the customer can come in and speak to you for like an hour and a half. It's a great idea, actually, and a nice cop-out if your drawing a blank during a fake sale. "Actually, we'll be closing in a few minutes, but if you'll come over here, I can set you up for a personal shopping appointment and we can talk more about the Nano in detail tomorrow." Yeah, that's absolutely what I should have said. It would have covered the fact that the other two guys already went over everything and would have shown I was paying attention during the presentation.

But instead, they got, "It's'm sorry. I died." Damn it. I just ruined Christmas.

Then I thought about earlier during the presentation, when the woman asked if anyone noticed that all the Apple stores only have the logo on the front, without any words. She asked if we could think of any other company that could do that and it would still be recognizable to people. I don't know why, but the first thing I thought of was when the Batman movie came out in 1989 and the poster was just the Batman logo. I remember this because at the time I was ten, and wasn't into comic books, so I didn't recognize it as the Batman logo. In fact, I didn't see a bat at all. I was looking at the yellow part, thinking it was teeth, and the black part was a big, open mouth. I wondered what movie was about some guy with big, crooked yellow teeth.

It's not that I'd never heard of Batman. I was well aware of Batman, and even had a few Batman toys, but they all had that 60s Batman logo, where it's his head and cape with the word Batman on it. Anyway, that's the first thing I thought of, and when she asked, I said, "Batman."

"Oh. Well, yes, if Batman had a store, they could use the logo on the front." (polite chuckling ensues)

Crap, that's not what I meant! I was just giving an example of logos being used with identifying text. And it was a good example. How did it end up making me sound like the special ed kid in kindergarten? Can I even show my face in that store again?

Maybe this doesn't mean anything. One of the things they said was that Apple employees don't work on commission, so not making a sale isn't a big deal. They also said customers usually come into the store four times before the make a purchase; first to look it over, second to ask questions, third to find out the price, and finally to buy. So assuming the test couple were in asking questions about the iPod, that'd be there second visit and they'd still have to more times before they make a purchase, right? So I'm good. It's cool. It's totally cool. I did all right. Please, God, let me do all right. I'll find out by Wednesday. I really need this job.

In happier news, congratulations to the Boston Red Sox on winning the World Series. You know what that's PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME! Or something.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Please Kill Me

I had just about the best Labor Day weekend ever. But none of that matters now, because I've been hiccuping on and off since yesterday afternoon. I don't know how to make it stop! It'll go away in a few minutes and then start up again in an hour. What the hell is going on?

Friday, August 31, 2007

I Miss Meg Ryan

It's funny, I don't really like Meg Ryan. I mean, I don't hate her. I wouldn't name a bunch of kittens after her and then drown them or anything. But I don't think I've ever said, "Ooh! A Meg Ryan movie! Let's go see it right now!" Still, I miss looking out the window and seeing Meg Ryan. The film crew were only shooting on Newbury Street Monday and Tuesday, and they've long since packed up and moved on. Now it's boring around here.

Last year, we could at least peer out the window whenever the Yankees were in town, since a lot of them stayed across the street at the Ritz. But ever since the hotel changed ownership and names to The Taj, the Yankee sightings have stopped.

Then there was that car that caught on fire in the exact same spot where Meg Ryan filmed her taxi scene just a little over a year later.

car fire

On location filming The Women

But now, now I look outside and nothing's going on. A guy just pulled up in an orange MINI convertible with black racing stripes and a number 33 on the hood and doors, but ...wait, is that Herbie the Love Bug's number? No, that's 53. So what's this guy's deal? It doesn't matter, he just drove away.

It's quiet. Too quiet. Uneventful. I haven't even seen Tricycle Man in a while.

Ode to Tricycle Man

So Meg, forget what I said before. I do like you. Heck, I need you. I need the whole crew outside to distract me from the boring crap I'm supposed to be doing. I'm sure you could do a few more takes of the taxi driving away. What to you say? For what it's worth, I liked Innerspace.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Plagiarism is the Sincerest form of Flattery

What's more pathetic than trying to microwave powdered cappuccino for four minutes? Oh, I don't know, maybe copying and pasting a story about trying to microwave powdered cappuccino and pretending it happened to you? Oh, and forgetting to remove a link so the person you stole from can easily find out about it.

On Technorati yesterday, I noticed a MySpace blog post called "Kimmy Vs. Microwave," that looked an awful lot like a post I did last month called "Man Vs. Microwave." I mean, to be fair, it could have just been an amazing coincidence. Sure, she used the exact same wording as I did, but there are some subtle differences. For example, nowhere in my title does the name Kimmy appear, but it's clearly visible as the first word in hers. Also, I assumed the mug of indeterminate origin belonged to Joe, whereas she theorized that it belonged to Satan (an ex-boyfriend). And nowhere does she describe it as a Weymouth MRI cup, although she does include the exact same two pictures I used, with "Weymouth MRI" clearly written on the face of the mug.

Of course, the most striking difference, the one that Johnnie Cochran would dramatically roll out as his most shocking evidence if he weren't dead, is an extra sentence in the Kimmy version about a "fricking latch sticking out of the microwave door" that gave her first-degree burns on her "wenis." That's a striking blow to my case. As clumsy as I may be, my "wenis" has never been anywhere near a microwave door. I'm pretty sure that could damage the swimmers.

I'll give her credit. For consistency's sake, she changed this:

So let's see, with the caramel, cappuccino and popcorn, that's microwave 3, man 0.

To this:

So let's see, with the caramel, cappuccino and popcorn, and 1st degree burn, that's microwave 4, Kimmy 0.

But I'm going to have to take that credit right back, because she left the link in the word "caramel", the reason I even found out about her.

So of course I had to leave a comment, seeing as how we had such similar experiences. I wrote, "Hey, the same thing happened to me!" And eagerly awaited a reply. We could swap stories; maybe she also saw a Pink Floyd laser show, or got poison oak all over her face.

But alas, not long after I left my comment, her MySpace page, which was previously visible to anyone, is now a private profile that can only be seen by friends. It's a shame, because we could have all gone over and said hi. I know John T would have loved to chat, since two of her other blog posts seemed suspiciously familiar to anyone who's read the Schprock Report. Oh well.

UPDATE Apparently "wenis" isn't nearly as dirty as I thought it was. It's just slang for the skin on your elbow. Which explains why she had one and why it would burn on the door. But it still doesn't explain why anyone would pretend to burn their...elbow begin with.

Monday, August 27, 2007

And Kathy Griffin as Olga

They're filming a movie outside my window. Not just any movie, but a Meg Ryan-Eva Mendez-Annette Bening movie, possibly the chickiest chick flick ever. It's called The Women and it's a remake/update of a comedy by the same name from 1939. The original boasted a cast comprised entirely of women, even the extras. This one seems to be taking the same approach, since the street is filled with female extras walking back and forth with shopping bags. Other than them, so far all I see are catering trucks and orange traffic cones.

catering truck

Ah, here we go. They've started filming. Are you ready for some steamy pictures of Eva Mendez? Well, she filmed her scenes yesterday and I didn't have my camera then. Yeah, sorry. But how about some grainy pictures of Meg Ryan? And also Annette Bening's calves? I know I am. Ready, I mean.

The first scene they shot today was of Meg and Annette walking towards Brooks Bros., which is at the other end of the street from where I work, so they were never facing my direction. But I got a cool shot of the boom mike guy.

Meg Ryan and Annette Bening on Newbury St.

Meg walked back to her mark with the director, but Annette disappeared forever and from then on it was all Meg Ryan, all the time.

Meg Ryan and Diane English

Just before lunch, they wrapped on that end of the street and came down to our section to shoot in front of Burberry.

Filming The Women on Newbury Street

Meg Ryan getting her makeup done

Meg Ryan on location for The Women

Meg Ryan on the phone during filming of The Women

Here's a particularly grainy one of Meg doing "The Meg Ryan Face." As you can see, it's much perkier and America's Sweathearty than The Nicolas Cage Face.

The Meg Ryan Face

And what's this? Why it's our very own Mr. Schprock, with Daughter Number Two, being pointed away from filming by a guy with an orange flag while on their way to buy DN2 a new bike. Fortunately, they were cooperative and the man's flag remained holstered in his backback. It was a close call, though.

Schprock on the set

I don't know who this random hot chick is, but she was walking around the set with the crew all day. She was standing on a mark for quite a while, but I think it's the same place Meg was standing on, so maybe she's a stand in? Or she's an up-and-coming CW star prominently featured in the movie and I'm an idiot. Whatever, I dig her Snoopy T-shirt.

Random Hot Chick on the set of The Women

On the set of The Women

Filming The Women on Newbury St

Okay, so the scene they're filming over on our end of the street is Meg Ryan trying to hail a taxi. The weird thing is, they're using three yellow taxis, but almost all of the cabs in Boston are white. First I thought, "Well taxis in movies are always yellow, so maybe they used yellow ones so people out in the sticks could easily identify the vehicle as a taxi." But when you look up close, the taxis actually have New York plates and say "N.Y.C. Taxi" on the side. That just raises even more questions. Why are they trying to pass Newbury Street off as New York? I'm sure New York would have let them film there if they asked nicely.

New York City Taxi in Boston

So I guess this scene takes place in New York, at the corner of Newbury and Arlington Streets right across from the Boston Public Garden. Isn't that where they do the Today Show? Anyway, Meg is trying to catch a cab, presumably to get to some famous Manhattan landmark, like the John Hancock Tower or Fenway Park. The first cab zips right by her. The second follows suite. But the third one, oh, hold on...


The third one pulls up, she talks to the driver, and it drives away without her. Rude New Yorkers.

Meg Ryan filming The Women

In-between takes, Meg stood and spoke with the director. At one point, she did this weird thing where she squatted down and did like a jazz hands thing. Don't worry, that mysterious brown cloud seemingly emitting from Ms. Ryan's rear is actually just the blurred edge of the concrete wall of my building.

Meg Ryan method acting

The squatting like a crazy person thing didn't make much sense, until the third cab pulled up on the next take and she did the squatting thing next to the driver's window. "Oh, I get it, she's pleading with the driver to let her in." What I saw earlier was the creative process in action. Someone, either the actress or the director, suggested that for the next take she should be desperately pleading in front of the cab. And then they did, and the rest is movie history.

Each time they did the scene, the three taxis had to be returned to their positions by driving backwards down the street, and all the extras had to get back to their marks. There was a bunch of pink tape strips on the sidewalk to indicate that's where people stand, or where the taxi stops. They did four takes of the taxi scene and then packed everything up.

Well, even though it's not a movie I'd ever see on purpose, it was still cool to get a first hand view of the process. And if the squat scene makes it into the final film, I can always say I actually witnessed it's inception. And I will always say it. Incessantly, in front of anyone I know for the rest of my life.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why I'm Afraid of Clowns

Earlier this week, Amy was looking at her boyfriend's Myspace page, and someone had left him the cryptic message: "Happy birthday! You are worse than Michael Jackson."

Well that' to interpretation. Worse than him at what? Scrabble™? Cutting back on the Jesus Juice? Mini golf?

You Are Worse Than Michael Jackson

In the name of science, I decided to do a search for "You are worse than Michael Jackson." and curiously enough, came up with almost 250 results. It seems "You are worse than Michael Jackson" isn't just a passive-aggressive non-sequitur, it's a biting accusation straight from the mouth of curly-booted 80's wrestling icon and Cyndi Lauper video extra The Iron Sheik! Apparently, he's still pretty mad about Wrestlemania III, and has some choice words for Brian Blair. The video is from an interview The Sheik gave last year, barely beating out the twenty-year statute of limitations on holding a grudge over a staged fight in a fake sport.

There. Another mystery solved. But the hypnotic lure and, dare I say, sensual embrace of Youtube kept me online far longer than I'd planned. They've got that list of similar videos on the right-hand column, so from the Iron Sheik video, I jumped over to "Roddy Piper attacks "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka with a coconut". I was never into wrestling, but with a description like that, how can you not watch it? Plus, Snuka is a funny name. Say it out loud and try not to giggle. Snuka. Tee Hee!

Anyway, from there, I went to Crispin Glover's super-crazy 1987 Late Show appearance, which then brought me to the above video for his seminal song "Clowny Clown Clown." Fun Fact: "Clowny Clown Clown" was an early favorite for Record of the Year in some music circles during the infamous 32nd Grammy Awards (the year of Milli Vanilli) but was narrowly edged out by "Wind Beneath My Wings." Another Fun Fact: Not really.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Short Story

Every once in a while, Schprock will pop his head in the office to say Jason Evans is having another short story contest. The deadline for this contest is 11 PM tonight. The deal is, you write a story of no more than 250 words inspired by a photo he provides. I've done a couple of them, even tried to do something similar here. So I thought I'd give this new one a try. Here's the image. The story's called "Vision Quest."

Vision Quest

A guy could learn a lot about himself out in the woods. Legend says the Wampanoag sent their young out here on vision quests, alone to fend for themselves for weeks. Armed with only your wits and a sleeping bag, you find out what you’re really made of.

I mean, everyone’s heard the stories…campfire tales of Shrieking Susie, the vengeful spirit of a murdered young woman said to haunt these parts. Her mournful cry is enough to stop all who hear it dead in their tracks; frozen and helpless as she drags them into the darkness to roam the woods with her forever. That’s what they say.

But those are just stories. Right? Just silly children’s ghost stories that…wait…did you hear that? Probably just the wind. Nothing to worry about.

Anyway, there’s a lot more tangible threats out here. Like crazed transients hopped up on amphetamines. Groups of them. They had a thing on the news. They stalk around out here, wait for some poor sap to set up camp, and BAM! Next thing you know, you’re aching, bleeding, and minus one wallet. And that’s if you’re lucky. My cousin’s friend was camping out here a few years ago; woke up without a kidney. True story.

Or bears! My God, there’s bears out here! And poisonous snakes! What was I thinking? I could be eaten by a freaking bear. Best case scenario, a mosquito bites me and I die of Malaria. Maybe West Nile Virus.

Screw this, I’m going home.

Friday, July 27, 2007

My Girl

I've never read any of the Harry Potter books, and I don't intend to. But that doesn't stop me from reading the spoilers. I've gone to websites with detailed character histories, plot outlines and summaries, timelines...and I'm not even sure why. When the last book came out, I got up at seven in the morning and read the Wikipedia entry about it, and found out everything I needed to know. They even have a neat little chart diagramming who dies, who kills them and how. Like Clue.

I just need to know things. I always snuck downstairs and peaked at my presents before Christmas. Sometimes I go online and read the endings of movies I've never seen. The other day I read the summary for Heathers. I go to a website for Lost spoilers, which coughs up pieces of information throughout the week until Wednesday, when someone actually writes a summary and review of that night's episode less than eight hours before it airs. None of this "ruins" it for me, I have an unnatural craving for it. I just hate surprises.


Whenever I go out to lunch, I try not to go to the same place too many times in a row, or order the same thing all the time. Even if I really only like one menu item, I'll order something else to avoid being a "regular." I'm sure 99% of the population is the exact opposite. It must be much faster and convenient if they know what you're going to order the minute you walk in. They'd probably be inclined to be friendlier, too. But I don't care about any of that. I just want to blend in. Having someone know what I want to order kind of weirds me out, like they already have too much information about me.


Last week I was walking through the Public Garden. I usually walk along the pond, up the stairs and over the bridge, but that day I stopped short when I saw a couple sitting on the bench closest to the bridge. The guy got down on one knee and pulled out a velvet ring box. I was witnessing a marriage proposal. Kind of a weird place to do it though. Sure it's overlooking the swan boats, but it was after five o'clock and they'd stopped running for the day. And it was overcast. But what do I know, maybe that bench is where they met or something. Anyway, there's only about two feet of walking space between the bench and the edge of the water, so rather than walking past them and possibly spoiling their big romantic moment, I turned around and walked up and around another path to avoid them. For a moment I thought it might have been funny if I'd said "Congratulations" as I walked past them, but then I thought, "What if she said no?" I'd just be adding insult to injury. I'm still not sure if taking an alternate route so as not to spoil a marriage proposal is polite or just one more step I've taken to avoid human interaction whenever possible.

The point of all this is Michele has to put up with all my crap on a daily basis. Some of you would have surely buried me under the floorboards by now, but she's always here for me and for that I am forever grateful. She's a beautiful, caring person and she raised an amazing kid. Happy birthday, Michele. I love you more than I hate making eye contact with strangers. Which is a lot.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Talking in Circles, eh?

Good Morning, good morning everyone, in the news this morning, good morning. A follow up to our top story, Trina is not dead. Ms. Smith, however, still is.

In other news, John Mooney, the coyote guy, has been moonlighting on the weekends as a security guard at a swanky apartment complex. I think it's an apartment complex. It's festooned with swank, whatever it is. He's also trying to learn French for an upcoming trip to Canada. But he's having trouble finding time to listen to the French CD, and he can't listen to it when he's stressed. I would have thought that he could listen to it at his security guard job, all he has to do is sit at a desk all night, right? Unless he's one of those security guards that patrols the grounds with a flashlight and a night stick, like the guy in Mannequin. And it was that thought that set off a chain of cyclical conversations here in the office.

Before I go further, check out this picture.

You may be thinking, "Why are Phylicia Rashad and Robert Downey Jr. at my local mall with a couple of mangy looking puppets?" Well, that's not your local mall, and that's not Phylicia Rashad and Robert Downey Jr., although I will concede those are some mangy looking puppets. If you were weened on Nickelodeon in the 80's you'll recognize the picture as the cast of Today's Special, a Canadian-produced kid's show about a department store where a mannequin comes to life at night and learns valuable life lessons with the help of a the display designer, the puppet security guard and a mouse. Obscure? Maybe. But it's still somehow managed to work it's way into an office conversation on more than one occasion.

As shown in Figure 1. (below), Mooney works weekends as a security guard, like G. W. Bailey (Captain Harris from the Police Academy movies) in Mannequin, which was about a mannequin that came to life at night, just like Today's Special, which featured a Canadian puppet as a security guard, closing the circle back to Mooney. Plus, Today's Special was a Canadian show, and Mooney's planning a trip to Canada to see a "female friend," which is why he's learning French and bartering with his cell phone service for a good deal on calls to the Great White North.

Joe has his own office, as does John T. But I share an office with Mooney, Amy, and a revolving cast of temps, freelancers and interns. The latest version is an intern that Amy knows from her hometown. I guess you could say the more interesting conversations usually stem from this room. Not all of them, but with Joe busy in his office grunting and lying about going to funerals, and John T sticking it to The Man by not wearing his shoes and microwaving fish, it's up to us to keep the conversations going, even if the subject matter tends to be repetitive. It's not that all we talk about is Canada, mannequins and security guards, it's just that once you get caught in the loop it's hard to break out of it.

Thanks to Mr. Schprock for the photo of feral Mooney and his deadly stapler!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Morbid Etiquette

A few months ago, I got a cryptic email from Trina with the subject line "mishap." It read "Can't blog. Had an accident. want exclusive?" followed by her phone number to get more details. I was a little worried. What could have happened that she couldn't write in an email? Maybe she was just a head in a jar, using what little power she had left to type with her tongue. Concern and curiosity (and much prodding by Michele) prevailed over my hatred of talking on the phone, and that Sunday I called and got the story.

This is all old news now, of course, how she went up in the attic at work to fix a leak, lost her balance and fell through the ceiling, landed on the copier eight feet below, broke all kinds of body parts and was laid out for weeks. Since she wouldn't be able to post, my job was to let everyone know she wasn't dead.

That was back in April. Since then, she's still somehow managed to write more often than me. Not that that's particularly difficult. But her last post was July 3, about an upcoming trip to Lincoln. The promised week-long hiatus came and went, and here we are almost at the end of July, and still no update. Not only that, but no comments on other blogs, and no emails.

Judging by her blog, people in Trina's town have a habit of checking out early. At first I thought she might have Jessica Fletcher Syndrome, but after seemingly disappearing for weeks, I'm really getting worried. Even the normally aloof Lord Loser is concerned; if you look closely, you can see the tear stains in his beard.

So here's the thing: she hasn't been heard from in weeks, I've still got her number, and it looks like once again I've got to be the one to find out if she's still among the living. Should I call, or wait it out some more? I've gone much longer without posting, but this is someone who writes something new every day. It's just kind of embarrassing to call someone and say "I thought you might be dead." Then again, I'm not sure devoting an entire post to the subject is any any better, but at this point, a comment from Trina making fun of me for all this would be a welcome sight.

And what if something bad did happen? I'm not very good at giving bad news, and I'm even worse at hearing it. To buffer myself from the worst-case-scenario, I went back to her post about her friend that died in Iraq, and Googled his name, NE and Iraq. From there I found the local newspaper article about him, and, with one eye closed, checked the paper's obituaries for the last 60 days. She wasn't in there, so that's a good sign, right? Unless they haven't found her yet.

I'm hoping there's a simple explanation, like she hasn't been able to get internet access, or her arm is stuck in a vending machine. Or maybe I'm out of the loop. Maybe someone else knows what's going on. But I've got this nagging feeling like this is serious. And there's only one way to find out. about a text message? I don't usually do those, but in my warped mind it's less scary than actually speaking on the phone. Is it okay to text someone you've never actually met to make sure they're alive?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Unfortunate Product Placement Theater

It's kind of weird that some of Boston's homeless have achieved levels of fame reserved for heads of state, and a select few have even shot through the stratosphere to stand shoulder to shoulder with coked-up celebutantes and reality show contestants in terms of name recognition. But of all the homeless people in the area that I've heard of, Mr. Butch wasn't one of them. He may not have had a roof over his head, but he's got his own Wikipedia entry, so he's one up on me. Despite my ignorance, Mr. Butch was an icon in the Kenmore area for three decades. He even had a following in the local music scene and played a few clubs in the 80s. Sadly, Mr. Butch died this month after an accident on his Vespa scooter.

Friday's Metro had an article about "a New Orleans style procession through the streets of Allston" and a tribute to Mr. Butch Sunday night. It also had, due to an unfortunate editorial decision, an ad for Herb Chambers Vespa scooters on the same page.

Until then, I'd never even seen an ad for a scooter. And now, of all the days, of all the pages, of all the gin joints in all the world, they stick it six inches below the Mr. Butch article.

This sort of thing happens all the time on the internet. You write a fiery 2,000 word denouncement of cheese, going into intricate detail about how much you hate cheese and how you're sure that cheese will usher in the apocalypse. And after all that, what lines the borders of your anti-cheese revolution? Google Ads for cheese! Serves you right. Who doesn't like cheese?

At least online that makes sense. Google Ads just look for the most common word on the page, they can't make the distinction between whether you're for or against something. But a human being made a conscious decision to run the scooter ad on the same page as the story about someone who died on one of those same scooters. The ad says "These days, Vespa scooters make more sense than ever." Ostensibly, they meant that with gas prices being what they are, scooters offer a more economic, fuel efficient alternative. Or maybe the Scooter Libby trial brought scooters back into the forefront of the public psyche at a level not seen since the Muppets. But paired with that article, it sounds like they're saying, "Vespa scooters help reduce the homeless population."

I waited all weekend to for the backlash on the letters page, similar to the time they ran an ad for an upcoming gun show alongside an article about a preteen who fatally shot a cousin with handgun left out where he could find it. But there was nothing about it today. The common Metro letter writer, regardless of age, gender or political stripe, all share the same intensity and passion about whatever topic they're angry about. The people I count on to overreact and blow the simplest things way out of proportion didn't jump on this. I feel let down. What would Mr. Butch say? I don't know, I've never even heard of him until after he died. But come on, I expect the letters page to contain something a bit more entertaining than volleys between the pro- and con- trans-fat-ban camps. Hey, that's only one letter away from being trans-fat-band camps, which I imagine is like band camp for overweight transsexuals. This one time at Trans Fat Band Camp...

Anyway, the letter writers may have let me down, but today's Metro featured a front page headline proclaiming Mitt Romney compared Hillary's economic plan to "Socialist Karl Marz". See, that's why I love the Metro. Way more typos than the stuffy Globe, yet not tacky and unapologetically tabloid-y like the Herald, and not sad and desperate like Boston Now.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nothing But Net

This morning I was scanning the headlines on Yahoo News when my eyes stopped on one that left me shocked and puzzled.

"Holy crap! Larry Bird died?! When did that happen? And why is Laura Bush going to his funeral?"

In my defense, it was early in the morning. What kind of name is Lady Bird anyway?

Just to review:

Not dead
Larry Bird
Lady Bird

Friday, July 13, 2007

Man Vs. Microwave

Yesterday I thought I'd make a cup of instant coffee, or to be more accurate, microwave up some water and powdered French Vanilla cappuccino mix. The instructions say to heat 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz) of cold water in a measuring cup on HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until hot. Then empty the contents of the envelope into a mug and slowly pour the water over it. Easy enough.

But what if you don't have a measuring cup? Or even a second cup just to heat the water in? All I've got is a "Weymouth MRI" mug of indeterminate origin. I think it might have been Joe's; he's probably had a few CT scans in his day. I could have heated the water in the mug and then mixed the powder in afterwards, but then the powder gets all clumpy and doesn't mix right. So I emptied the packet into the mug and then filled it three-quarters to the top with water.

Whenever I attempt to heat water in the microwave, it always takes several tries before its even mildly hot. That's why the instructions say 1 1/2 minutes or until hot. It's because on the first try, it's always tepid. Then lukewarm, and finally whatever you call a step above lukewarm. Regular warm, I guess. I thought I'd skip all that this time by just putting it in for four minutes.

Four minutes later, in place of the box-promised "delicous cup of rich, sweet, creamy cappuccino", there was, well, this:

Now you can say all you want that maybe four minutes is a bit excessive. You could say that the instructions said 3/4 of a cup, as in the unit of measure, not cup as in the variable-sized drinking vessel. But I think the driving force behind this little drink-turned-science-experiment was putting the powder mix in the microwave. Somehow, the combination of the powder, water and microwaves caused all but about a quarter-inch of water to expel out of the mug and onto the microwave tray, while hardening the powder and water froth to give it the texture and appearance of coral. For a minute I wondered if I'd stumbled upon a delicious new treat in the form of hardened rocks of cappuccino, but I was sadly mistaken. Still, it was surprisingly chewy for something that cemented itself to the wall of the mug.

Today, I made popcorn. The bag said two minutes. The bag is a filthy liar.

So let's see, with the caramel, cappuccino and popcorn, that's microwave 3, man 0.

Speaking of fires, I can climb the highest mountain, cross the wildest sea, I can feel St. Elmo's Fire burnin' in me, burnin' in me...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Unsolicited Information: Things I Did Not Know

July 9th. This is only my 19th post of 2007. I should probably pick up the slack a little bit, huh? Still, that averages out to almost 3 a month, which is better that some people. If you haven't read Schprock's blog, you're probably still wondering what happened with good ol' "Open Casket" Joe and his latest whopper. Well tough clams, I haven't gotten to that yet. Instead, here's an informative yet unsolicited glimpse into a series of trivial matters I only just recently discovered.

Until about a week ago, I thought that show was called Sex in the City. Then I played a trivia game where the show was the answer to one of the questions and I got it wrong. It's Sex AND the City. Huh. You learn something new everyday. I've never seen the show, but I don't think I like the real title as much; it makes it sound like Sex and the City are the two main characters, like B.J. and the Bear. At least with Sex IN the City, you know the show's premise...a bunch of women having sex in the city.

I always get Andy Garcia and Gabriel Byrne mixed up. I don't know why, they don't really look alike, but I can never remember which one was in The Usual Suspects. USELESS TRIVIA: Gabriel Byrne was in Enemy of the State with Barry Pepper, who was in Saving Private Ryan with Matt Damon, who was in Ocean's Eleven with Andy Garcia.

Here's one I just found out today: in the Steppenwolf song "Magic Carpet Ride", the guy finds Aladdin's lamp and makes a wish, but someone steals the lamp. That part I knew. But I always thought after looking around, a lousy can was all he found. Turns out it's a candle. See?

Last night I held Aladdin's lamp
And so I wished that I could stay
Before the thing could answer me
Well, someone came and took the lamp away
I looked around, a lousy candle's all I found

Not that it really matters, I mean, he could have found some chewed gum or a Franklin Mint M*A*S*H Commemorative plate, he wouldn't get any wishes out of it. I guess candle makes more sense, because it serves the same purpose as a lamp. But in my head, I'm going to continue imagining some guy rummaging around and finding an old can of beets or something.

For the longest time I thought John Mellencamp wanted WBZ sports icon Bob Lobel to come and save his soul in "Jack and Diane".

So let it rock
Let it Roll
Let the Bible Belt come and save my soul

Once again, I kind of like my version better.

Let Bob Lobel come and save your soul

Non it pronounced like Ecuador or equator? I'm never sure how to say it so I try to avoid saying it altogether.

Well that's it. Will there be another post this week, or even this month? Maybe. The only way to find out is to obsessively check back here every few minutes, which I highly recommend.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Eight Things in a Duffle Bag

Hey it's the middle of June. What happened to May? And April? I must have been really busy at work, because I sure wasn't posting my crazy theories on a Lost message board. That'd just be silly. Why would you even think that?

Two pretty major events happened last week. If you've read Schprock's latest post, you know the first one, which I'll go into a bit more detail on later. The other thing that happened was I was tagged by Trinamick, and you don't mess with someone who can survive a fall trough a ceiling. It only makes them mad. So here are eight things about me, specifically, eight things that I should probably tell a doctor but never do. It's nothing major, but on the other hand, we all know what happens when you take the wait-and-see approach.

1. Sometimes when I chew or even if I'm just lying down, my jaw unhinges. Usually on the right side, but it's happened to both. It pops right back in after opening and closing my mouth a few times, but it always freaks me out. I always think the most recent time will finally be the one when it doesn't go back in, and my jawbone will protrude out of the side of my head under my ear, and I get all nervous until it sets back in place.

2. Occasionally one of my toes gets locked in the downward position, so it's pointing straight down and all the others are facing forward. That hurts like hell. It only happens when I'm not wearing shoes, when I'm putting on or taking off a pair of socks, or if I'm lying down and stretch out my legs. That's two bad things now that happen when I'm lying on my back. If you throw in the sleep paralysis, it would seem I'd be better off staying upright as much as possible. But I still say that apartment had some creepy evil mojo, because "things trying to eat my soul in my sleep" thing hasn't happened since we moved out of there.

3. Breaded or starchy foods, which pretty much makes up the entire gamut of what I eat, occasionally cause my throat to close up, which is usually followed by a fun half hour to forty-five minutes of hovering over the toilet spitting up long strings of saliva. The culprit is most frequently a dinner roll or fish that I either swallowed to fast or were eaten before I had a drink. One time at an outdoor restaurant in New Hampshire, it was french toast. That was a fun vacation. To Jose's infinite amusement, I explained this particular malady during an emotional and inexplicably angry tirade I apparently went on at a party in college, after downing nearly a whole bottle of evil, evil Goldschlager. Hey that reminds me, I never finished the second part of my college story I started three or four years ago. I'm a champ when it comes to procrastinating.

4. There's a pizza place down near our old office. You may remember they tried to rip me off a few years ago. Well, the first year I started working here, I used to go there a few times a week for lunch. It's a small place with only a couple of booths, and most people get their orders to go rather than eat in the cramped little space. Above one of the booths was a coming attractions poster for Dead Man on Campus a movie no one saw that came out at least two years earlier. No one knows why it was hanging there by the door at Rome pizza, but I'll never forget the day I was sitting in that booth and an albino guy with an alarmingly high voice sat down with me and started talking. I don't remember what he was saying, because I was trying my damnedest not to stare and trying to figure out why anyone, let alone a high-voiced, honest-to-God albino with pink eyes and everything would slide into an occupied booth and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. That was really awkward. I guess that's not really something I would tell a doctor, but I ran out of those. I could have sworn I had more.

5. Last week, after Brianna went to bed, I was watching TV with Michele and just before 10 o'clock. we heard three loud shots come from outside the window followed by the sound of a car speeding off. The shades where down most of the way, but from where I was sitting I saw flashes that corresponded with each shot. We jumped up and ran upstairs to look out the bedroom window. It was scary. Michele had me check on Brianna. she was still asleep. A few minutes later a K-9 patrol car drove down the street past our townhouse beyond view. We started to get more worried, but the lights and sirens were off, so we weren't sure what that meant. I kept looking out the window, and about ten to fifteen minutes later, the police car drove away again. And once again, no lights or sirens. Even so, I figured even if no one was injured at the very least what we heard were warning shots. Something serious was about to go down in our little housing development.

The next morning, I walked over to the side of the house to see if I could find any clues as to what happened the night before. From far away I saw what looked like shattered glass all over the pavement, but when I got closer I discovered that it was just dead pine needles. But I did find what I was looking for. A few feet away there was a hollow cardboard tube surrounded by powder. The tube had "Triple Bangs" written out it. That explains the three shots. The night before when I was hiding out by the upstairs window, I called my mom, and she said it was probably someone setting off fireworks. But it didn't sound like the usual kind, the bottle rocket kind that shoot up into the air and make a fizzle sound before they pop. People set those off around here from June to mid-July. I don't see the point, though. They're illegal in this state, which means you have to go across the border to New Hampshire to get them. Not that it's a particularly long our dangerous journey, but the lame little fizzle hardly seems worth the effort.

The whole thing made me feel a little uncomfortable with myself. There are only about forty black people in Weymouth, and thirty-nine of them live in my housing development. Does the fact that I automatically assumed it was gunshots reveal some latent racism? Probably not. I think anyone hearing three loud shots at night and seeing a car speeding away would make the logical jump that someone just got shot. And anyway, I'd rather live next to black people than creepy high-voiced albinos any day. Nothing personal, High-voiced Albino Guy. You just give me night terrors.

6. I lied earlier. I really was posting crazy theories on a Lost message board. I don't even know how it started, it jut sort of happened. I'm not proud of it, but there it is. I thought I'd be able to get back to the blog when the season ended on May 23, but then I got some new big projects at work and it got harder and harder to find time to get back to blogging. If it makes you feel any better, they didn't mean anything to me and I was thinking of you the whole time.

7. Way back in March, I started to write about the seemingly unrelated weekend deaths of comedian Richard Jeni and Boston frontman Brad Delp. I was going to title it "Ssssmokin" since Boston had a song called Smokin and Jeni was in The Mask, but then thought maybe it would be in poor taste and let it drop. Which may be for the best because I wanted to contrast the two deaths by examining how one gave up on life and the other had life give up on them, and as we found out a few days later, Delp took his own life as well. Boy would my face have been red! Anyway, all this time later I still actually feel guilty. Richard Jeni shot himself in the face. I didn't really know much about the guy. I'd heard of him, I knew he was a comedian, but I didn't know any of his jokes. He was number 57 on Comedy Central's list of 100 Greatest Stand-up Comics, so I guess he was pretty good. But all I really knew him from was as the sidekick from The Mask. Now I can't watch that movie, because the whole time I'm just going to be thinking, "That guy shot himself in the face!" The movie's ruined for me.

I feel guilty because a guy died and all I can think of is now I can't watch a movie because I'll just be thinking about how the guy killed himself. Plus, maybe if I knew more about him apart from, "That guy from The Mask, he wouldn't have felt the need to kill himself. You can never really be sure of the motives people have for killing themselves, but you have to wonder if it's because they were sort-of famous but never really made it big. And it's sad, because were things really that bad? Wikipedia actually has a whole category of actors who committed suicide, and, weirdly enough, a sub-category of porn stars who committed suicide.

Just the day before, the Metro had a picture of Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice, at the top of the entertainment page, next to a few lines about that night's performance by Brad Delp's Beatles cover band, Beatle Juice. He was supposed to perform that night, but died before the show. Of course at the time, it was a mystery. He'd been heading Beatle Juice for years, he had a fiancee that he was going to marry this summer and even a new Boston tour and album coming up. The guy was allegedly a health nut and didn't even drink. In fact, I actually learned the word teetotaler from his obituary and having to go look it up. So the idea that someone like that could just drop dead was somewhat unnerving. When the news came in that he'd died of asphyxiation by locking himself in the bathroom with gas grills, well that made even less sense. I wonder why he couldn't see all he had to live for?

8. Which brings us to number eight. Last winter, the looming deadline set forth by John T's prickly blonde tormentor, Ms. Smith, nearly tore our little office apart. The air grew thick and tempers grew short. Shouting matches became more frequent, as did longer hours, and Ms. Smith's own pilgrimages to our office. And each time she blackened our door, she likewise blackened our spirits. Blackened to the pitch of her black, black heart.

I was lucky enough not to deal directly with her, my own experience with her came the previous year when I was designing a schoolbook catalog for her. It was for Oklahoma teachers and featured several images contained within the outline of Oklahoma. She didn't like the way it fit on the page; it wasn't filling the space like the New York cover did. Her solution was to stretch out Oklahoma so it looks like a pot instead of a pan. I did what she said because she's the boss, but this thing was going to teachers. I think they might notice that their state is shaped wrong.

Anyway, with this project as with most of her work, John T and Joe managed the bulk of it. But the effects were felt just the same and I got the overflow of all the other jobs that would have went to them if they weren't working on this huge project. Everyone was on edge and threats of quitting were not uncommon. I was held in the unwinnable situation of either going home at five and getting dirty looks from those left behind, or staying late and suffering the wrath of Michele, who insisted family comes first, especially when we don't even get paid overtime. I was the only one with an eight year old at home. One night Joe huffed that he worked plenty of late nights when his children were young. Yeah, guess what, he also got divorced, so he's not quite the model to strive for. No matter what I did, someone was going to be mad at me, I just had to decide who I wanted to piss off on any given day. Money was tight, tensions were high, and wispy Ms. Smith, at the center of it all, didn't even have the common courtesy to eat the bowl of fruit my boss laid on the table for her. She was a vegan, but not the granola, hairy armpits type. She was extremely conservative, and actually stated that she didn't like animals. Apparently her disdain for all creatures great and small may have been so potent that she didn't even want animals anywhere near her body, including on her plate. But she wore leather, so it's more likely that she didn't eat any solid foods in general.

We got a brief but welcome break from her when passed out, in a grocery store of all places, and was taken to the hospital for dehydration and exhaustion. But she checked herself out a few days later and, while not quite at the velocity as before, was back to her charming old self.

During those tumultuous months, the strangest thing happened. Ms. Smith had Joe running ragged. Some days she'd actually be in his office with him all day, hovering over his desk and monitoring everything he did. One day she caught him working on a file for another client and she walked into our boss's office to say he "wasn't focused." While her scathing comments in the margins of her edits were usually directed at John T, her purest vitriol was reserved for Joe. Oddly enough, Joe was her favorite person here. In her eyes, Joe was the only one who could do anything right, and the rest of us were stumbling idiots trying not to choke on our own drool. So her nastiness towards Joe could have been a form of "tough love". She wanted Joe to make all the edits to the brochure, even though he was extremely busy and they were just text edits that a monkey could do. If anyone else worked on her project, she was not to know about it. As the weeks went on, Joe became less irritating, loud and stupid, and almost sympathetic. Maybe it was because he no longer had time to be irritating, loud and stupid trying to appease Ms. Smith's every tyrannical whim, but I started to feel bad for Joe. The poor guy. That's the power Ms. Smith yields.

I drew a picture of her, which was actually just the Grinch, hunched over with a sack slumped over her back, and added some blonde hair under the cap and replaced the Grinch's Santa coat with the black-and-white-horizontal-striped, knee-length coat she often wore to the office, that made her look like a Dr. Seuss character anyway. I'd planned on writing this post much earlier than now, but I lost the Grinch picture I wanted to go with it and like so many others, I never got around to writing it.

The original due date for her project was just before Thanksgiving, but it was pushed back to December 22. She continued to make edits, seemingly for the sake of making them. One night after we sent her a round, she said she'd read through it and send us the edits in the morning. This is what we expected would be the final round, and she's already anticipating another round of edits before she even reads what was sent. All of us were in the office the Friday night before Christmas Eve, even our boss. Ms. Smith was off-site, faxing and emailing edits as fast as we were sending her revisions. Or rather, John T was doing that, having come in early that morning and staying well past eleven PM. My part was to collect the files that had been approved and burn them onto DVDs. We finished after ten, and went home for a week of relaxation, with the nightmare finally behind us.

But no. Ms. Smith was not happy. Like a blonde, designer-bag wearing Scrooge, she expected at least some contingent of our company to be diligently working the next morning, a Saturday, and Christmas Eve no less, even though the files were sent off to her company. Which was the initial plan all along, by the way. The files were supposed to be in their hands regardless of the status and they would make any additional edits themselves. So she wrote a nasty letter to my employer, and there was a bit of a falling out.

We hadn't heard from her or her company in months, and as expected, without her to draw sympathy to Joe, he's back to his old annoying self. He may even be more annoying now. She did contact my boss a few months ago and all but apologized for what is commonly referred to as "throwing us under the bus." So it was several months after the fact. Better late than never, right? Cut to last Thursday. My boss breaks the news that Ms. Smith was found dead in her house. She was 33, like Jesus. But unlike Jesus, she was a horrible bitch. Everyone's saying how, deep down, she was a good person and they feel bad. I ALWAYS feel bad when someone dies, whether I knew them or not, regardless of who they were. But I feel no sorrow for Ms. Smith. I feel terrible for her family, and I feel bad that I don't feel bad, but she was just an awful person and I'm sure she was somehow responsible for her own death.

I think she may have killed herself. For each of the past five years, she's held a different job at a different company, burning bridges everywhere she went. Prior to her most recent job, she was fired from a major publishing company. Her story, of course, was that she quit. And while that is technically true, she just beat them to the punch. If she hadn't had her next job lined up, she would have been shown the door. Her entire life revolved around her work. She stayed in her office well past midnight, micromanaged everything to the last excruciating detail. If anything you could say that she had a passion and dedication to her work, which could be seen as admirable, but look where it got her. That night we all stayed late before Christmas, my boss told us stories, possibly rumors, about Ms. Smith. He said during meetings sometimes she would go into the bathroom and come back out with red, watery eyes. Sometimes she'd just break down and cry. It's clear that she was not very happy, so it wouldn't be a shock if she killed herself.

Even if it wasn't intentional, she could have literally worked herself to death. The schedule she kept wasn't given to her by her superiors, it was self-imposed. For some reason she was trying to prove something to herself, as if sleep was a weakness. Her fainting scene in the rice cake isle was a huge red flag. If she'd heeded her doctor's warnings and lightened her schedule a bit, maybe she'd still be here to torment us next Christmas. Instead she joked about it, and although her parents gave her a curfew and took away her Blackberry to keep anything like that from happening again, she didn't let it stop her. It's very likely that her heart just stopped, especially since they're saying that she died of natural causes. I'd like to say again that it doesn't matter what I thought of her, but my heart goes out to her family. I heard that her father discovered her body. That is truly tragic.

If sleeping was a sign of weakness to her, then surely eating was raising the white flag. While not completely skeletal, she was very thin and more people have seen Bigfoot than have seen Ms. Smith with food in her mouth. She could have very well been anorexic, and that's what killed her.

There were also whispers that Ms. Smith, who never smoked or touched alcohol in her life (hey, I get to say teetotaler twice in the same post) was secretly a coke fiend. I don't know how much I believe that, but it explains an awful lot if she was.

Whatever the reason, she's dead now. The wake was last night, and Joe said he was going to go, because for whatever reason she seemed to like him. This morning I asked him if it was an open casket and he said it was. John M asked how she looked. Joe told him she looked a little fuller. When he clomped away, Amy called me over to her desk and asked if John T told me to ask that. I told her he didn't and wasn't really sure why she'd even ask that. Are you ready for this one? Apparently, John T did go last night, and Ms. Smith was cremated. Joe! Why? Why does that guy have to lie about everything?! So now we all know that he's blatantly lying about going to the wake last night, but no one's let him in on it yet. Of all the lies he's been caught in, this might be the best.

Friday, April 27, 2007

By Your Powers Combined...

Before I had a blog, I used to whittle away the hours on a message board, conversing with all manner of nerds, geeks and shut-ins interesting people from all walks of life. The interaction with all these characters is what made it fun and kept me coming back, but it's a little harder to reproduce that kind of dynamic on a blog unless there's an active comments section. As it is, some people don't even read the comments. It's true! Because of this, and because fermicat gave me the idea, I'm just going to copy and paste my last comment and count it as a new post, but make just enough subtle changes that you'll have to read it all over again.

Yes, I've been lagging lately. Ever since I moved at the end of last sumer, time hasn't been my friend. It's not that I haven't done or seen anything worth noting all this time, it's just I never seem to have enough time to put it into words, and now there's too much to write about and I don't know where to start back up again. Here's what's been accumulating in the queue...

  • We moved into the town house. I had a little story about moving day. That was last August, I think. The last time I posted on a "regular" basis. After that I had little time because...

  • Mr. Schprock's arch-nemesis, Ms. Smith made the last few months of the year, right up to the holidays, a living hell. She actually made me feel sorry for Joe. Don't worry, things are back to the way they should be and I want to throw rocks at him again. But for a while there, I was conflicted.

  • In October, we hired a new full-time employee, Amy. And Joe's been making the workplace awkward and creepy ever since. She's read the Joe-kus, so she knew what to expect.

  • Meanwhile, yet another employee has been perfecting his...talent.

  • In March, Christy came back up to visit Jose, and we went to the Olive Garden, where we talked about a previous time at the Olive Garden where we heard a father make a very unusual offer to his son...

  • I found some more information on the Cannibal King song, that I thought I'd share against your will.

  • Over 20 years later, Large Marge still frightens children. I have a story of how I inadvertently gave Brianna Claymation nightmares.

  • At the beginning of April, I spoke with Trina, who as most of you know, fell through a roof and ended up with Sloth face. This one was supposed to serve as an announcement as to what happened to her and why she hadn't been posting, but it turns out she actually managed to TYPE OUT A LONG-ASS POST USING ONE FINGER before I even put this one up. And I DID write a message on her blog, so more of her readers would see it than the few crossovers we've got between us. So it's a few weeks late now...but I'm sure there's still somebody who didn't know about it yet.

  • Don't laugh, but I actually contemplated concluding my story about Nick and Hedie's wedding, which was supposed to be posted on 2nd Anniversary of the wedding (and the 11th anniversary of Spleen Day). But then the Trina thing happened and I wasn't sure which one to post that Monday, so I ended up doing neither. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

  • Man, I sure procrastinate alot. That wasn't going to be a post. I'm just saying.

  • I took last week off from work because Brianna had April Vacation. We watched a bunch of movies, made a fort out of cushions, and went to a carnival. It was the best week ever.

  • Two squirrels were found (very) dead in my grandmother's pool. I imagined a little squirrel CSI team trying to solve the case. I was hoping to get some gruesome photos but...

  • Holy crap! My grandmother's pool is gone! It's not there anymore, they took the deck and everything. I think Carmen San Diego did it. The worst part is, it contained evidence pertinent to the squirrel case! Also, my childhood memories are crumbling around me at an alarmingly rapid rate!

So that's how far behind I am. There are a few more, like the one I wrote when that comedian killed himself and the singer from Boston died (yes, he committed suicide too, but we didn't know that at the time). some of these things are time-sensitive, and if I don't publish them right away, they're sort of rendered irrelevant. I still have an account my my wrote of a dazed old woman wandering around my grandmother's driveway. That's at least two years old, before all the moving and sleeping on the floor craziness.

Anyway, do I just move on to something else, or try to catch up? While I'm writing these, what if something else happens that's too good not to share but I don't write about it because I'm still working on something from November and I fall behind even further. I need a designated "blogging time" I think.

Well, what should my next post be? It's up to you. The power is yours!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Local Man Hit By Bus

Crap. I spent the last hour, and most likely the next one, trying to print an A6 envelope on the color printer. The multi-purpose tray has markings to show where an A6 envelope should go, but that size is inexplicably absent from the preset options for envelopes. It has A7, but not A6. Why did they bother marking it on the tray then?! There is a "custom" option, so I entered the A6 size in there, but it was positioned wrong and cut off most of the type. Oh, and it created big black imprints of the folds on the other side of the envelope all over the front.

I haven't been lucky enough to need to print on a pre-made non-number 10 envelope on this printer until now, but others in the office who've had to deal with it in the past said the best way to do it is to resize the document to 8.5 x 11, set the printer to the thick card stock setting, and tape the envelope to a regular piece of paper. And to avoid the imprint from the folds, I need to put thick paper in the envelope. We only have a limited number of envelopes, so before I taped any more of them to paper and filled them with other, smaller paper, I've been running practice sheets through until I can get the position right.

No matter what I do, they keep coming out wrong. It either cuts of the type, or prints everything but not in the area where the envelope is supposed to go. And I can't just move the envelope in those cases because it has to be on the same edge of the paper that is picked up by the printer's grippers. WHY IS THIS SO FREAKING HARD?

After noticing that I was just a smidgen visibly frustrated by my never-ending string of failed attempts, my boss suggested that I could print out the envelope copy on regular paper and glue it to the face of the envelope. It's a fair enough solution, and the envelopes are about the same color and brightness as our printer paper, so if I place it right at the seems no one will no the difference. But it's going to drive me nuts if I can't figure out why the damn envelopes won't print the way they're supposed to, so I'm going to keep trying until I get it right. Or the vein in my head pops. Either way, it's not looking good for that post I was planning for this morning. But I may lose my mind and throw the printer out the window onto Newbury Street.

Monday, April 23, 2007

For Real This Time

Ok. There's going to be a new post tomorrow morning, or may God strike me down with a Fung Wah bus. And by morning I mean before noon. Ish. Eastern Standard Time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Don't Read This

18 days ago, I mentioned something about doing a Joe post. Then work got busy again so any hopes of hearing new Joe-isms were crashed. And now for the past few days I've had a cold. Nothing too bad, just a little coughing, lots of sneezing (at least 1 in 5 with gross, mucusy projectiles), and a constant nose drip. I mean literally CONSTANT. It refuses to stop running. How much more can possibly be in there? I'm starting to fear that eventually, my nose and, maybe even my entire head, will just dry up, shrivel and fall off.

I tore through a box of Kleenex yesterday, but all I have to show for it is a trash barrel filled with hardened, crumpled up tissues and the assurance that in a couple of days, I'm going to have those gross sores all under my nose.

But I've just made a medical breakthrough. If I stick Kleenix in my nostrils and hold it in place with a piece of tape that runs across the bridge of my nose to my cheeks, I can stop the dripping, and hopefully avoid the horrible sores from too much wiping. I've been wearing it now for twenty minutes. So far, so good! Take that, you lousy cold!