Thursday, April 29, 2010

This is All Steve Jobs' Fault

I'm working on a project for my dad. He has Thursdays off, so I brought my laptop next door to go over it with him. There's a list of names he wants in two columns, but the laptop keyboard doesn't have an "ENTER" key, which differs from the "RETURN" key in that it starts a new page or column rather than just a new paragraph. So I ran back to home get my external keyboard and realized that I have once again locked myself out of my house.

I specifically made sure the door was unlocked before I left by turning the knob both ways, and figured since it's able to turn, it must be unlocked. As you may have guessed, I apparently have no idea how doors and/or locks work. Ah, doors. My mortal enemy.

In high school, I found a locker with a broken door to use because I could never get my lock open. Jose loves to tell the story of how he dropped me off one day, and claims he watched me try to pull the front door of my house, and after several attempts, pushed it open.

That's not what happened, though. One day, my mom decided that she wanted the blue doors on our blue house to be blinding pink, so that they may be seen from space. But I think the new coat of paint made the door stick, or maybe the knob wasn't put back on quite right, but whatever the case, after that you'd have to jimmy the handle back and forth to get it into the groove or it wouldn't open. I wasn't trying to pull the door open, it was jammed, I tell you! Anyway, Einstein couldn't tie his shoes, and he seemed like a smart guy.

But nevermind all that. This particular case is about not being able to open a door because it's locked, and my keys are inside. Fortunately, my parents live next door and have three sets of keys for my place. Unfortunately, they're all inside my house, on top of the refrigerator, from the previous times I've locked myself out. I um...I meant to bring them over when I came here this morning.

This is not my finest hour.

If this stupid laptop had an ENTER key, yes I'd still be locked out of my house, but I wouldn't have realized it until much later. In fact, I might have been working over here until Michele came home anyway, in which case I would have never even known. But that jerk Steve Jobs had to get rid of the ENTER key, forcing me to notice my stupidity almost immediately. Well, that and that I'd be forced to buy an external keyboard in the first place. Or I could just hit the function key in conjunction with RETURN, which is the same as hitting ENTER, but who the hell wants to do that? That's not simpler, it's an extra step. Just like he refuses to put on/off switches on iPods. And made sure those jerks at the Apple store didn't hire me. God, screw that guy. I want to punch him in the neck.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Day That Wasn't

Yesterday morning I helped a guy named Randy get to class. He goes to a special needs school up the street, so I walked him there. When I got home, it was dark. Michele asked where I'd been all day. I told her I was helping Randy get to school; I couldn't have been gone longer than half an hour.

But it was night. How could that be? It didn't make any sense. Did I go somewhere else and completely forget about it? Had the passage of time gone wonky? I thought about the walk to the school. On the way, I ran into the woman who used to live next door to me. I used to go to school with her daughter. These days she lives in Rockland and I live underneath where she used to live (her mother lived here when I was growing up.) Anyway, she was also walking someone to the school. He was her nephew. He was probably in his mid-twenties, had long hair and was in a wheelchair. His wheelchair had fallen over and we helped him get back into it. We might have talked for a while, but it certainly didn't take all day. Something didn't add up.

Then I started to wonder what my old neighbor was even doing there. If she moved, why would she be taking her nephew to the school right up the street from my house, and why didn't she drive there? And why had I never heard of this nephew until just now? Come to think of it, there's no special school up the street from me. And who the hell is Randy? That's when I knew it. I was dreaming.

Yes, anyone reading this knew it was a dream as soon as Randy showed up, but it all seems perfectly natural when you're actually dreaming them. My parent's dining room is in my old junior high school? Of course it is! People displaying human remains on their lawns? Why not?

It seems like it should happen more often, but realizing you are in a dream is a rare and beautiful thing. Lucid dreaming. My in-dream self thought I had uncovered a massive conspiracy, which may have had something to do with my watching an X-Files marathon on Netflix, but nonetheless I was convinced that the world was trapped in a dream state, and I was the only one conscious of it. I promised myself to write down as much of the dream as I could when I woke up, and in the meantime, just repeat the events that had happened so far over and over in my head.

Later, I was at Nick's house. He had a medieval passageway with a large fireplace as the centerpiece. On the fireplace was a bust of half a face. When you pulled it, another room came out of the wall. Wah Kee was there with us, and he told me something...I can't quite remember. But it was about the room and how something highly unprobable was about to happen. I remember Nick replying "He knows."

When I finally did awake from the dream, I asked Michele what time it was. Two O'clock. Damn. There's no way I was about to scribble all this down at two in the morning, so I just continued to keep as much of it as fresh in my mind as I could until a more reasonable hour. I slept for several hours after the dream, and was awake for several more before I wrote anything down. What was once a rich, vivid world was whittled down to a few vague memories and a game of fill-in-the-blanks.

Ironically, it's the later portion, after I figure out that it's a dream, that is the haziest, perhaps due to my persistence in remembering the earlier details so specifically. The whole part with Nick and Wah Kee is fractured at best, and I can't help but wonder if the parts that I do remember weren't tainted by the several hours of consciousness after the dream ended. I'm certain that Wah Kee was trying to amaze me by showing something that could only happen in a dream. I think it may have been the weird medieval room itself. And Nick's response meant that he knew I was aware of the dream. But that contradicts my earlier assertion that I was alone in the knowledge of the dream; of The Lie. So did my brain create false memories of Nick and Wah Kee being aware of the dream after it had ended, or were they agents of the dream, disguised as people I know for the purpose of containing me and separating me from the rest of the populace, lest I tell them the Truth? I guess it doesn't really matter, but I kind of feel like I let my dream-self down.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Art Attack

When I was younger, I had this book, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The stories weren't remotely scary, but the pictures, sweet Jesus, the pictures haunt my dreams to this day. If you've ever seen this book, the bride chick with the hollowed-out eye sockets probably came screaming back into your memory just now, so it's perfectly fine if you may have wet your pants a little. If you've never seen it, basically the illustrations made otherwise idiotic stories kind of terrifying. If I remember correctly, one of the first stories was about a kid who found a severed toe sticking out of the ground, and then some giant tracks him down and says "You have my toe, now I'm going to eat you!" or something equally asinine. But then there's this picture of a gross little homunculus thing that looks like Quato from Total Recall in overalls and suddenly you sleep with the lights on for a month. Screw the giant, I was afraid the creepy farmer kid was going to dig up my toe. That's one of the strangest sentences I've ever written.

Anyway, there was a painter, Francis Bacon, who specialized in Scary Stories-style grotesquery. Here is one of his works from 1954, Figure with Meat (Head Surrounded by Sides of Beef), part of his 45-painting series "the Screaming Popes," based on a portrait of Pope Innocent X by Diego Velázquez in 1650.

Good old-fashioned nightmare fuel.

Okay, so that may not be your thing, but he's one of the most sought-after names on the market. In fact, in 2008, one of his paintings sold for $86.3 million, making it one of the most expensive painting ever sold. Even Sotheby's was surprised by the winning bid, as they had feared the recession would hurt the art market.

And actually, they were right. The collector who bought the painting initially had his eyes on several other pieces as well, including two by Rubens and three of a series by Edouard Manet. But even a filthy rich art collector couldn't afford all of that, so he finally decided on the Rubens, with Bacon, hold the Manet's.

Well, I hope you rubes learned something today. Not just about art, but about how far I'll go for a lame joke. Because as scary as the eye-socket bride chick is, she's nothing compared to the depths I went to just so I could work "hold the Manet's" into a post.

Speaking of art, check out my buddy Neil's blog. He does comic book art.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lady and the Stamp

Here's a quick story from my mom:

Mom: Do you sell stamps?

Cashier: You mean stamps?

Mom: No...postage stamps.

Cashier: I don't know what those are.

Bagger: (laughing)You mail a letter?

Cashier: Oh. I've never done that.

I know people don't mail a whole lot of letters anymore, but she's never heard of postage stamps? Really? Maybe she should have asked ChaCha. Or maybe she did.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Cha Cha Cha Changes

Remember when I was looking for the name of that damn rocket cartoon? Or who's kids Huey, Dewey and Louie are? Whenever I have a question, I can always Google it and find the answer. That's why Google gets to be a verb now.

But some people aren't content with the already convenient method of looking something up online. They want people to look it up for them. That's why there are sites like ChaCha, where you can learn that Jorge Garcia played the affable slacker "Hurley" in the move Armageddon.

And then, there's this:

"Bailiff, whack his pee-pee!" is NOT from Laugh-In! It's Cheech and Chong, specifically "Trippin' in Court," from their self-titled 1971 debut album (Thanks, Google! I still love you.) Rowan and Martins...where are these people getting this blatantly false information?


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

From Russia With Love

And now, a Cold War-era Russian guy that looks like an Animatronic Steve Buscemi hypnotically yodel-singing. This was most likely meant to be used as some kind of doomsday device.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Father of the Year

You might be wondering what Joe's been up to these days. Well fear not, I still get the occasional e-mail from John T, keeping me updated on the latest Joenaningans.

I got this one back in December, when I was in a blog coma:

Joe just asked where Clarendon Street is.

If some of you folks reading at home have never been to our fair city, I wouldn't expect you to know where Clarendon St. is, but to give you an idea, here's a map:

USELESS TRIVIA: Starting at the Public Garden, the north-south cross streets are named alphabetically from A-H (Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester, and Hereford.) This same set of street names is used on the east-west running streets in Gladstone, Oregon.

But wait. There's more. This one is from January:

Joe had to take a vacation day today with little notice. He cited personal reasons to the boss (and she asked no questions), but when I asked him why, it was because his daughter had been caught driving an unregistered car without a license, and the friendly cop who pulled her over called him and asked that he come down to straighten things out to avoid her getting in deeper trouble. Apparently she was in a real jam and this needed prompt attention.

His daughter just called the office asking for him. I told her that he was supposed to be with her. That was news to her.

What conclusion would you draw?

To the best of my knowledge, personal days can be taken for any reason, so there's zero incentive to lie about it, although I suppose with only two employees, vacation rules might be a bit more strict. Still, it takes a special kind of person to not only lie, but slander their own daughter in the process. So cheers, Joe. I'm kind of torn between relief that I no longer work there, and awestruck bewilderment that you still do.

Friday, April 02, 2010

What the Hell Happened: Game Over, Man. Game Over

As you may know, today is Nick's Anniversary Spleen Day, so I guess now is as good a time as any to talk about what happened last year.

Michele and I realized that what we were paying in rent was the same as some people payed on their mortgage, if not more. That, combined with the eight thousand dollar tax credit for new home buyers, sent us looking at houses rather than another apartment. Getting laid off almost killed that little quest as soon as it started, but with Michele's salary and some government programs, we thought we'd at least be able to buy a small place.

We found one, on a busy street across from my eye doctor, that was in our price range. It only had one bathroom, and it was in the kitchen, yes, in the kitchen. And the upstairs was incredibly small, but the living and dining rooms were huge, with lots of built-in shelves, and there was a cool three-season room in the back that looked out on the huge back yard. If we could negotiate a lower price, we could use some of the loan to fix up the second floor and maybe put in another bathroom, or at least move the existing one. It needed a lot of work, but by God, it had potential.

We put in an offer, lower than the asking price, because of all the work that needed to be done. I was pretty excited, and on the way home I called Nick to tell him about it. He said something along the lines of "That's cool," then casually threw in "It looks like me and Heidi are no more."

What? WHAT?!!

He said she asked for a divorce. Just like that. And in an instant, all the excitement about the house was drowned out by shock and confusion. I was traumatized to the point that I couldn't even sleep that night.

How did this happen? I was at their house on Memorial Day. We threw marshmallows at each other and around midnight a lady from across the street came into the yard, and I thought she was going to ask us to keep it down, but apparently she was drunk and meandered over to ask why she never gets invited to these parties. And she wouldn't leave. It was a great night, and the last time I saw Nick or Heidi before he told me what happened. Neither of them could afford to keep the house, so they were going to both move out and sell it.

None of this made any sense to me. I wanted to go into Marty McFly mode and get them back together. I mean, they're not my parents and I wouldn't disappear if they broke up (um...except for online for several months), but I needed them. Nick and Heidi were my definition of what love is supposed to be since high school. They were Nick and Heidi, or as my dad inexplicably always said, "Heidi and them." You can't have one without the other. They were different people with vastly different personalities, but together they became this whole other thing, like Voltron. Or Captain Planet, I guess. With the rings.

Speaking of rings, as a best man, I've got a vested interest in that marriage. It's like I spent all those hours not writing a speech for nothing. I'm progressive in pretty much all other areas, but I just don't like divorce in general. When you get married, you take a vow before man and God that you will be together in sickness and health, through good and bad, till death. So when you get divorced, that means you were lying to God. And even if you're not religious, you're still lying to all your friends and family. I think we should all get handwritten letters of apology for wasting our day at a meaningless wedding.

Sorry I made you do the Macarena and buy me a punch bowl set that I'll never use.

And the thing is, I actually want to get married. It would be a lot less confusing if Michele, Brianna and I didn't all have different last names. But weddings are expensive, and to spend a bunch of money on a wedding and then just give it all up is like taking a big wad of cash and setting it on fire in front of a homeless person.

Jose and Christy came up in July, and we all went to see The Hurt Locker in Kendall Square. It was only a few weeks after Nick and Heidi split. She came, too. Nick was still living in the house, and she came over in her own car. Then we all piled into the van, and Heidi sat in the front next to Nick. She even sat next to him during the movie. If you didn't know, you'd think they were still together. I may have been watching a future Oscar-winning movie, but the real acting was happening right next to me.

If it seems like I'm placing too much blame on Heidi, good. Obviously Nick has all kinds of faults, and to be honest, if I was a girl I wouldn't even go out with Nick, much less marry him. But she did. And she stayed from high school and they lived in four different places together. Why now? If he hit her or something, at least it would make sense. Why is that when Nick told his friends, they were all shocked, but when she told hers, they all knew it was coming? It feels like a betrayal to not just Nick, but me and Jose and Wah-Kee and all of us who thought we were her friends. I actually de-friended her on Facebook because all of her status updates were like "Heidi is going skydiving" or "Heidi is riding in a go kart" or some fun thing that she's not supposed to be doing because she's too stricken with grief. I just got sick of looking at it.

Eventually, Heidi un-friended everyone she knew through Nick, Jose, my brothers, even Michele who was kinda hurt by that.

And I blame myself, too. For years I used to tag along with them to the movies, on road trips, or just hanging around the chicken shack sucking at Clue. It was always a weird feeling, because I was having fun, but at the same time I felt like I was missing out on what they had. Those were some of the most memorable years of my life, and I disparately wanted someone to share them with. And when I met Michele, I thought now we'd all be able to do these things together. It didn't quite work out that way, with Brianna being so young, and I went out with them less and less. status updates were like "is going skydiving" or "is riding in a go kart" or some fun thing that she's not supposed to be doing because she's too stricken with grief. I got sick of looking at it. I don't blame Brianna, I love that kid so much, it's just that I had different priorities now. Maybe I should have invited them over to my house more often, so we could hang out and take care of Brianna. As long as I can remember, we've always gone to Nick's house, regardless of where he was living. I felt awkward suggesting my place. Nick said Heidi told him that they never do anything together, and he didn't really have the motivation to do anything. Maybe if there was a certain fun couple to do things with, they wouldn't have fallen into that slump and would still be together. They had another party in June, I was supposed to go, but it was right after I lost my job and I wasn't really feeling it. I wish I'd gone now.

It's more than all that. The group dynamic is changed forever, if there's even still a group at all. Jose moved to South Carolina a couple of years ago. With Heidi gone, there's not a whole lot keeping Nick here. Him saying that he has to move back in with his step mother because "he failed as a husband" doesn't sound very promising. His birth mother lives in Virginia, and he had said that when he can afford it, he's going to move down there. Jose said I should move down there too. First of all, no. Secondly, even if I did, Nick will be in Virginia and he's in South Carolina, so even if I plop down somewhere in the middle they'll still be hundreds of miles away so what difference does it make?

The sad truth is I don't have any friends left. Sure, I have you fine internet people, but you guys are scattered all over the country, if not the world, so it's not like you can pop over here for five dollar movie night. And I hang out with a lot of people, but they're all Nick's friends. They're friends by proxy, and I never made the jump to change that. In fact I don't even know how. Are you supposed to do a certain number of things without the middle person before they are officially your friends? Does "Any friend of so-and-so's is a friend of mine" actually work in practice? I never had to worry about this stuff before. When Nick moves, what am I supposed to do? I've got to find him a local girl, fast. I haven't seen him in months, this probably isn't even a problem.

In the midst of all this, I got a text message from Jose on August 18 that said "Im gettin married." Then I got another one on September 4: "Im married. Yay!" That's how you do it. I hope they stay together, but at least if they don't, they didn't force anyone to go to some sham wedding.

Oh yeah, we didn't end up getting the house. But who even cares about that anymore. Instead, we're renting the house next to my parents' house, which happens to be where Nick and Heidi lived a couple of years ago. Weird.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Ironing is Delicious

This may look like Lamb Chop, but it's actually a Webkinz llama. Webkinz are stuffed toys that come with a unique code that allows you to interact with a virtual version of the toy online, because kids today have no imagination. The plush animals are manufactured in China. Do you know what this means?

That's right, China is mass-producing dolly llamas.