Saturday, February 27, 2010

london




London is a world-class city, easily my favourite1 big city in the world. I like to call it the original city, just to bother any Babylonians nearby listening.2

London does a few things amazingly well:

Open Space

I grew up in a little town in Utah (translation: top of the mountains) called Holladay (translation: if you want open space, go buy your own land you stinking hippy). They don't do parks very well in my home town. I distinctly remember going to the nearest open field, by the Elementary school, to hang out on weekends as a child. I say distinctly, because I can still recall, as an eight year old, walking to the playground to find it occupied by a couple laying down doing something strange.

I immediately ran off, scarred for life, but I don't actually think they were up to anything indecent because a) my friend who returned to investigate told me they were up to something, b) he never once told the truth to my knowledge about anything ever, c) lying friends + gullible childhood = some really embarrassing moments3, d) they arrived on a scooter, and e) they were probably fourteen if they came to the playground on a scooter to smooch.

London has loads of open space, and I have yet to interrupt someone making out. There are parks upon parks, though some of the parks are called Gardens (translation: not actually open to the public at seven p.m. on a Sunday, so don't waste your time trying to get there).

Indian Food

Realizing their own cuisine lacked what is commonly referred to as "flavour", the English conquered India for its food. The empire may be gone, but the blessed Indians have remained in London, providing food for anyone who actually likes to eat what is commonly referred to as "food", or even "edible morsels not boiled until shriveled".

Londoners, I'm just kidding, your food is great! Because you got it from India. Great idea, by the way. Bless you India for the blessings of your blessed food. Mmmmmm, curry.

Transit

London is great for getting around without a car. They have the most advanced transit system in the world. Through a variety of physical and temporal improbabilities, as well as some shady math, their underground system actually bends space and time the minute you enter a station, ensuring that, no matter where you're going, it will take at least thirty minutes. It could be one stop away. Thirty minutes. Amazing.

If the space-time continuum refuses to budge, however, they go the low-tech route of stopping trains at random.

On an unrelated note, you may be surprised to hear the circle line has not yet actually made it once around the full circle. There are trains from the 60s stuck somewhere between Euston and Kings Cross full of skeletons waiting for a green signal.

Museums

When you conquer the world, you bring home their art. Nowhere is this better displayed than the British Museum, where you can find the actual Rosetta Stone, most of the Parthenon, and Cleopatra's nose hair (not available to the public).

Not only do their museums contain everything you didn't read about in history because you slept on, then slobbered through your book,4 but they're free! Well, the ones with anything of historical value. This stands in sharp contrast to New York, where they make you pay exorbitant sums to see the items they looted from weaker countries.

The People

The people in London are great.

First off, nobody here is actually from England, much less London. Well, there are a few, but they mainly stay inside watching various and sundry reality T.V. shows. But the Londoners I have happened to stumble across have been very kind, though most of them feel varying degrees of sorrow over the loss of the empire, and their descent from the world's ruling power. They've accepted me here mainly because they see America is about to pull a Britain, or, as my co-worker put it, "you're next".

Secondly, Londoners are great because they never question you when you decide to leave the city. They all sort of expect it. You've got to admire an optimism that fully and truly believes that the grass is greener elsewhere.

But it's not. London grass is definitely the greenest I've ever seen. It's a beautiful place, and I strongly recommend you spend some time here.

If you'll excuse me, I've got some space-time to bend.

1. Sorry, a reckless shout-out to my ou-loving friends. Let's hear it for colour and favour!
2. No, seriously. My landlord has some flavour of Middle-Eastern descent (so I guess he may not actually know anything about ancient Babylon, but still), and spends most of his time talking very loudly in Arabic three feet away from our shared door. This is disconcerting, because the door isn't actually a door, but a closet door. That is locked. From his side. Only.
3. I have never forgiven my other (former) friend for getting me to believe his middle name was Penelope.
4. Teasing, of course! I only slobbered through my geometry book. Not really joking on this one. It actually did not contain an un-spat-upon-and-thus-wrinkled page when I returned it. Some day I will meet the individual who inherited that book in the following year, and I expect she/he will kill me on the spot.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

palo alto




Many people don't know this, but back in the day, with that whole forbidden fruit thing, when Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden, they were actually booted off of the San Francisco Bay Peninsula. Or, to be precise, they had to leave Palo Alto. Many alternate locations for said Garden of Eden have been proposed throughout the history of humanity, but these are all false and wicked traditions of our fathers.

There are a few reasons to accept this fact. Firstly, we all know Palo Alto used to be populated with orchards, which, as we all know, contain fruit, and given the level of pesticides in the ground detected via modern methods, we can logically assume some of that fruit was forbidden.

Secondly, Eden is actually Hebrew for "small enclave of rectitude in a corrupt sea of a poorly-governed, fiscally-insolvent state, which also contains very odd park names". One has to look no further than Donaldina M. Cameron Park in order to see the connection.

Thirdly, we read in Genesis 3:24:

"So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."

Why not place some protection at the north of Eden? Or the south? Or the west? Because, obviously, it wasn't necessary, because it was sitting on a peninsula on the western coast of the North American landmass. This truth should be self evident.

Lastly, and most convincingly, Palo Alto is paradise by any definition.

Hence, we can logically conclude that Palo Alto is the former location of the Garden of Eden.

This isn't the only reason to love Palo Alto. There is plenty of goodness for the whole family:

Paxti's: Seriously, can you get a better Chicago-style pizza? I submit that you can not.

Counter Burger: Celestialized meat from Eden itself is here presented in mouth-wateringness.

La Bamba: Though technically not in Palo Alto, this, again, is due to more wickedness of our forefathers. La Bamba is the best burrito place in the entire multi-verse, known or unknown.

Foothills Park: Who doesn't love a park that carries a 40-year grudge against the neighboring towns that refused to cough up money to purchase the land, and thus refuses entry to any non-Palo Altan?

Air Conditioning: What is that? Who needs air conditioning when you live in 70 FREAKING DEGREE WEATHER?! Booyah.

3 (count 'em) International Airports within 40 minutes: Need I say more?

Mountains: Though they'd be called foothills if they were near the Rockies, the Santa Cruz mountain range is next door, and offers plenty of recreation in the form of hikes that don't really have destinations. Except Berry Creek Falls, which takes you to what, on a good day, could be described as a leaky faucet tumbling down an exposed sheer rock face two yards high.

Amazing City Governance: This is the city that is so well-managed, and has so much money, they spent a million bucks1 trying to figure out the "color" of Palo Alto, by hiring an "artist" to take pictures of every home in the city, and draping them up on city hall. Compare that to East Palo Alto, which recently had a huge influx in money and was able to buy its Police force (a lone retired German Shepherd) a broken coffee maker.2

The Best People Money Can Buy: And believe me, they pay through the nose to live here.3

Palo Alto rocks.4 I love it with all of my cold, Frostee-laden heart.

1. I made this number up. Who needs to research things when you're writing for a fictitious publication available solely online in blog format? Investigative journalism? Meh.
2. I keeed, I keeed, I love you EPA.
3. I say here, because I'm moving back in a couple months. That's sort of the point of this post. I love you all!
4. Don't get jealous London, you rock too. I'll talk about you sometime soon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

cars




Cars are God's gift to mankind in order to help mankind woo womankind by taking womankind on dates that weren't accompanied by a smelly horse or even smellier public transit riders. In His Infinite Wisdom, God saw the declining birth rate of the modern era, and thought mankind could use a little bit of help.

This effort was appreciated, of course, but futile, given the rise of Nerdkind.1

Cars are blessed things. They are perhaps the best of things.2 Who doesn't like cars? What's not to love about cars? Personally, I try and take as much superfluous metal with myself whenever I travel, and cars are brilliant at that sort of thing.

It's easy to get down on cars, though, and everyone does it. They're dangerous. They emit carbon monoxide. They emit carbon dioxide. They can give the appearance, via various and sundry dents and worn upholstery, that one is supremely poor, and thus ward off that small segment of womankind that doesn't run screaming when it encounters Nerdkind. They can be horrendously designed by what could only be inebriated squirrels and given the name of Prius.

Just like it's easy to hate on donuts when you're packing down the Krispy Kreme, though, it's easy to hate on cars when you have one.

I'll admit, I used to be distracted by cars' poorer qualities. Road rage would, ever so often, rear its ugly head in my blessed little Genny. I'd wonder why people were so wasteful in their transportational habits.

I thus fell in love with the idea of trains, and worshipped the track they ran on. I blessed them and their energy-efficient ways. "Public transit", I thought, "who couldn't fall in love with something so glorious and grand, so efficient?"

However, after further inspection of the pros and cons of public transit and automobiles, I am forced to admit: cars are pretty sweet. For example:

  • Cars don't take 24 hours to cross Nevada3
  • You never have to stand up in a car
  • Better, you never have to stand up in a car while a very large Russian with his back to you slowly edges you into a corner, until you have no choice but to plaster yourself, putty like, into any nook you can get before his large rear touches your stomach
  • Cars allow you to move your groceries from point A to point B without standing on a crowded bus, desperately trying to not appear like your hand is about to be sawed off by the plastic bag with your three (3) cartons of orange juice4
  • Cars don't force you down a crowded underground railway carriage until you're straddling the gargantuan legs of a creepy old man who refuses to sit up straight
  • Cars also don't take the time, over the next ten stops, to repeatedly caress your inner thigh with their foot, every so often glancing up from their newspaper5
  • Cars aren't fetid waste receptacles for every wretched disease on the face of the planet

If you dislike cars, I strongly recommend you reconsider your position before you find yourself in the grasp of a very creepy old man.6 Drive happy.

1. I'm anxiously anticipating some future rise of BlindAndEasilyImpressedKind in order to help me take the plunge.
2. As long as the list of "things" only includes methods of transportation, of which, cars are naturally the finest. Including donuts or burritos in that list of things would relegate cars to third.
3. No, I don't want to talk about that train ride.
4. How could I have been so stupid as to buy so much liquid!!
5. I cannot begin to describe the creepiness, or the utter despair I felt, penned in on either side.
6. This footnote is entirely for Mr. Guenon, who made fun of my footnoting. The appearance of this footnote next to a reference of a creepy old man is entirely coincidental.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

the phantom of the opera

The Phantom of the Opera is a traditional musical that follows one of the classic story lines:

  • Boy meets beautiful girl
  • Boy discovers girl is emotionally traumatized by a former circus member with a disfigured face who lives underneath an opera house at the edge of a subterranean lake in the middle of Paris, who is not only an amazing singer, organist, and inventor, but also a criminal mastermind who extorts 20,000 francs1 out of the opera managers by sending notes signed Opera Ghost
  • Criminal mastermind writes an opera score, kills a few people, causes some mayhem, and kidnaps beautiful girl
  • Boy finds girl, has a lapse of judgment whereby he manages to allow said criminal mastermind near enough to lasso him with a noose
  • Girl smooches criminal mastermind
  • Criminal mastermind allows them to escape
  • Criminal mastermind disappears into a chair

The amazing thing about these archetypal stories is that they appear in all of the world's major cultures. More amazing is that this particular archetypal story, when it appears in these ancient regimes, always includes the element of a subterranean lake underneath Paris.

This story is obviously dated, because Opera Houses these days aren't really pots o' money to go about extorting. In fact, the other day I tried attending an opera, and found the staff all wearing half-masks, threatening attendees with death if they didn't donate to keep culture alive.

If the Phantom were around today, he'd probably haunt football stadiums.2

Seriously, though, the Phantom has some pretty great music. Amazing music. I love the music. But there's a disconnect for me; you've got this rocking music, with this wacko storyline. Like, couldn't they come up with anything better? Did they write the music, then outsource the plot to Von Curtis Salon and Script Writers?

If you're coming from Les Miserables, you've just had an amazingly heart-breaking storyline, full of deep twinges of regret, remorse, along with lessons on forgiveness and love.

Phantom? Oh, yeah, watch out for those opera-house-haunting, Parisian subterranean lake-inhabiting, disfigured organ-playing singing fake ghosts.

Thanks. I'll keep my eyes open.

1. Is that a lot of money? Why not call them Bobs or Freds? And what would the Phantom think of the Euro and a unified monetary system? Would he recognize the difficulty of Greece's situation, unable to control their currency? These are the questions I ask myself during musicals. This is the reason people don't talk to me about musicals.
2. The Phaaaaaantom of the Patriots is here...inside your mind.

valentine's day

A lot of people think Valentine's Day was invented by the mob in order to increase their sales of booze to ├╝ber-depressed people.

Actually, you may be surprised to hear that's not true. I'm the only person who thinks that.

Valentine's day is the one constant in a string of holidays that may or may not produce awkwardness. Christmas or Thanksgiving are sometimes weird, but Valentine's is always guaranteed to be bad.

You can ask that special someone out on a date on Valentine's Day, and deal with the awkwardness of trying to manage romantic expectations, or you can hole yourself up in your studio flat and drink Fanta until you pass out or wet your pants in shame.1

Some people like Valentine's Day. Those people are called Engaged People. Or possibly Single People with Self-Pitying Masochist Tendencies. I think everyone else is on the Anti side though.

Sarcasm aside, I did have one really fantastic Valentine's Day once. I bought her a dozen red roses, chocolate, and wrote a very bad poem on a funny card.

She gave me a tic-tac after dinner. It was a very reciprocative relationship.

The converse of Valentine's Day is what some especially-depressed people like to call Singles Awareness Day, because the acronym has the nice effect of making them look even more pathetic. Hey, I can't find a mate, and I'm SAD about it! Pity me!

No, I kid, I kid. I love my single brethren. But not like that, of course. I'm on my way out to attend one of these SAD parties now,2 and I couldn't be happier about it. Going to a Singles Awareness Day party is like going to a networking event for unemployed people. "Hey, these dudes can't find a job on their own, so let's put them all in a room and see if they hire each other!"

I'm hoping some ex-Googler will be there tonight, but I've got a feeling they've got other offers. This will probably end up being one of those male-bonding experiences.

Everyone else: enjoy your smoochies this weekend! Kiss your wife for me!3

1. For the record, I have never done the latter. If anything, it has been in pride.4
2. Attending one SAD party: Sad. Attending ten: Increasingly humorous.
3. The mark of a true friend: he won't bat an eye and call you psycho insane when you say this.
4. Totally joking! Do you think I would admit that? Of course not! Even if I had done such a thing, I would probably make some silly statement insinuating I had, then say it was a joke, just so you all knew that there was absolutely no way I had done that. Hmmmmm...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

shopping

Shopping is the process of acquiring things to distribute to second-hand stores. It is often difficult and painful, and, on occasion, requires some loss of self-respect.1

However, it is important to note that there are two main categories of shoppers in the world.

The first category is the shopper that focuses first on quality. These individuals are willing to spend more in order to get a higher quality item (which may also denote a particular brand or style). They appreciate the finer things in life, and have a respect for well-made items.

The second kind of shopper is the one that focuses on price. These individuals want the best deal possible.

Within these classes you'll find a lot of people who fit neatly into one category, or exist in some area that straddles the two. Were I not obscenely lazy, I would draw you a Venn Diagram.

Take, for instance, my mother. She is primarily a category two type of shopper. She may contest this, but let me bring in her coupon envelope as Exhibit A for the prosecution. At some point in the 70s she kidnapped a poor envelope, and has been stuffing it full of coupons ever since. It was at one point in my youth heavier than her newborn children, and its dimensions were wrought in cubits.

There were happy moments in my childhood when she was able to find a coupon that was somehow relevant to the industry grouping in which we were shopping. I'm not sure if she still has said coupon registry, but if she does, there is no doubt in my mind that we could find deals that expired prior to my physical existence.

The loyal reader is naturally thinking about what type of shopper I am, because we all know that the world revolves around me.2 You'll be glad to hear I have managed to take aspects of both categories and fuse them into an entirely new and complicated set of principles I like to call, "spending more for no reason".

"Spending more for no reason" is a tough ideology to follow when you live within your means. However, never fear, there are always ways in which you can follow my example, even in the small things.

Take, for instance, purchasing gasoline. Some people find a good deal that is located somewhere within several states of what they might refer to as their "daily commute". Not me. Back in High School, I found a place some distance away that sold gas for a few cents less a gallon. I remember with fondness hopping in my six gallons per mile VW Vanagon every few hours or so and spending my weekly allowance on gas to shuttle my hard-won girlfriend around.3 It took me several levels of advanced calculus before I discovered I spent more money driving to get the deal than I actually saved from the deal.

"Spending more for no reason" is easier to do when purchasing clothing. You could be like my mom and never buy an article of clothing for more than thirty cents. Or, you could be like me, and look for a pair of dress shoes, then buy a cheap pair that didn't fit. After buying that cheap pair of shoes, you might then decide you'd like a pair that does fit, and, logically, go out and buy another cheap pair of shoes that don't fit. After buying these two cheap pairs of shoes, you may then decide to spend the eighty bucks on the pair of shoes you were originally going to buy, but didn't, because you were trying to be economical.4 These are intelligent and rational actions within this ideology.

Good luck with your shopping. Drive long distances to take advantage of marginally-cheaper prices. Do not, in any way, factor in the value of your time. Buy inferior goods many times over to avoid the expensive item that you'll get eventually. These are the keys to overcoming your consumerist state, relieving yourself of all monetary units of exchange, and finding nirvana.

1. If, hypothetically, a man used a shower puff, it may, in this purely hypothetical situation, be embarrassing for this man to travel to the women's bathing section in order to avail his hypothetical self of said shower utility, then even more embarrasing to pass through the sphinxian gaze of the inwardly-mockful shop clerk.
2. This is a common insult my brother would throw my direction during my fat years.
3. Looking back, I can't really explain why I drove everywhere I did, as I rarely went further than a half mile from my house.
4. My feet have blisters, and I still need black dress shoes. Earlier today, my prideful side was trying to convince my rational side that this was the first time this has happened. This is not true. I once bought several pairs of shoddy sandals before finally shelling out $80 for Birkenstocks.5 Yeah, buying cheap sure saves you money.
5. No, I am not a hippy, I just like German sandal engineering. But I could be a hippy if you're attractive, and into that sort of thing...

sewing parties

Sewing parties are events whereby individuals1 gather together in order to sew things. What sorts of things? I'm not really sure. Probably doilies. Or kittens. Or kitten doilies.

I did once attend a sewing party thrown by my sister, mostly out of accident, but also out of curiosity, and, of course, to be able to write a guide on everything2. I found several beautiful women completely entranced in their needlework. It was a comforting atmosphere. Most comforting, of course, was the stunningly beautiful woman sitting opposite me who refused to speak at any point of the evening, except, when, breaking my heart, she abruptly stood and said she was leaving.

This produced no small amount of stir among the other women. And by "no small amount of stir", I really mean there wasn't a stir. Seeing that she was leaving, and that she was carrying several items, and feeling bad that nobody was going to open the door for her, but mostly feeling some level of hormonal activity, I offered to get the door for her, which, like a gentlewoman, she refused in no uncertain terms. Like an infatuated gentleman, I, of course, ignored her and followed her to the door to see her out. And out from my life walked the beautiful vixen.

Upon returning to the silently sewing crew, I immediately made the fatal observation that she was, in fact, attractive, and was also, in fact, silent. From this point on I referred to her as "Silent Trina"3. Apparently, in some circles, this is considered "making fun" of the individual.

How do I know this? Ahhh, young reader, you should have expected the coming plot twist all along! Months later, when the vision of beautiful bliss had long crossed from my mind, I was invited by a member of a sorority to go on a group date attended by her sisters or chapter or whatever it is they call it.

Picture a room full of gorgeous women. Picture a large buffet line. Picture me exiting the buffet line with food. Picture me running into a beautiful, familiar-looking woman.

We paused and looked inquisitively at each other for a moment. We both knew we had met before. I mentioned I thought we knew each other. She mentioned the same. The buffet line was watching. People exiting were stuck behind me. The entire weight and force of a sorority paused and watched this magical connection.

I mentioned my relationship to my sister. Her eyes lit up. My heart sprung up as I waited in anxious anticipation for her recognition that I was, in fact, the love of her life.

Her lips turned up in an awkward smile, and she began:

"Oh, yes, we met at the sewing party..."

My heart fluttered!

"...and then", loudly, "YOU MADE FUN OF ME BEHIND MY BACK!!!"

As slapping me would have spilled my juice on her, she turned and walked away. The buffet line gave out a collective snicker.

Sewing parties are demonic methods of giving you a glimpse of beauty, then cruelly snatching it away in the most publicly-humiliating way possible. Curse them and their needleworking ways4.

1. Notice how I used the androgynous term "individuals" instead of the more specific term "women"5. This is because I am an enlightened individual, and only display my misogynistic side when not online (or when anonymously commenting on YouTube videos6 with gems like, "i ur a women u lameo").
2. Friends from Middle School who are getting ready to give me a wedgie for confessing this: I live in London. Just try finding me over here.
3. In the highly unlikely event that she ever reads this, I apologize for using your name, and yes, I'm happy for your marriage and/or children or whatever it is you have gone on to do.
4. Apologies for the more-blatant-than-usual autobiographical sketch. I could not, for the life of me, think of an entertaining topic to cover this or last week.
5. I implicitly say women, of course, because back in my day if a man had a sewing party he would not have lived past Thursday gym. Of course, my little brother holds knitting parties wherein skiers make scarves and hats, which, as he likes to claim, is TOTALLY different.
6. YouTube comments are well known to be the realm of the lowest class of humanity, where only people directly in contact with The Beast can appropriately communicate. I have to confess this indiscretion: sometimes I read them. Just to be entertained.