Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An open letter to Big Bread:

One thing you might not know about me is that I cannot eat an entire loaf of pumpernickel before it turns. And don't think I haven't tried.
The problem I have with bread is not so much that it is red and slimy and filled with worms, as none of those things are generally true, but that it comes in too wide a variety of flavors. I mean, do I really need a loaf of rye AND potato? How many pastrami sandwiches can I honestly consume before the rye goes bad? How many grilled cheeses? How many sandwiches, really, does one need? Why does sourdough smell of feline urine?
All fine questions, except maybe the last.
The answer, which does not at all apply to the previous questions, is that I cannot possibly justify buying an entire loaf of pumpernickel based on the fact that I like, maybe once a fortnight, a good tunafish sandwich. The rest of the loaf goes to waste, and waste I cannot suffer - why, it's the very reason I donate my used clothes, hair and finger nails to the naked, bald and limbless masses.
So here, then, is my proposition: bread variety packs. A mix-n-match, if you will. Just grab a handful at a time of four or five types of bread as it comes off the bread conveyor belt in Uganda (or wherever bread comes from) and bag the things up. Why, you'd make a mint, especially in this country. Excepting the Salvidor Dali painting by the same name, what could be more American than a melting pot of bread?
In closing, allow me to leave you with these choice words first made famous by Socrates just before the hemlock really kicked in: "Damno panis est coma iterum!" ("The damn bread is stale again!")


The Ayatollah.
(Of Rock N' Rollah.)


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Climbing Mount Harmony

Half the people I know are getting pregnant. The other half are getting married. Probably none of them should be getting these things, but that’s another matter. The point here is that I am getting neither, and even more neither by the minute.
So, in the interests of blowing up some very tiny floaties and tossing my superior DNA into this decaying carcass of a gene pool, I, billionaire playboy Alex Rose, have decided to find…a mate. Or love. Whatever.
You see, my only outlet for casual, uninvolved and frequently drunken sex had recently gone and gotten herself a boyfriend (damn her) and I felt it was about time I do something similar.
I also felt a column coming on, if you know what I mean.
So, clearing what appeared to be several hundred years worth of “Ol’ Blindy” brand malt liquor cans from my workstation, I fired up the laptop turbines, shouted “Engines to speed!” to no one in particular, and set out to seek my mate or love or whatever in what had been virtually (though neither explicitly or impliedly) a guaranteed location for such things by my local television affiliate:
“Backed up by 35 years of research, eHarmony is the only site dedicated to building the relationships of both Singles and Married couples,” I am immediately informed by eHarmony’s home page, which is an intriguing declaratory statement. Apparently, not only have the terms “singles” and “married” suddenly become proper nouns, but this place caters to the swinger set. And then I cringe, remembering the pale, milkshake-nourished furballs that actually make up that set.
Swallowing my vomit, I carry on.
First name? Alex. Hey, this is easy! I’m a? Man seeking a Woman. (The only other choice, notably, is “Woman seeking a Man.”) A few more pieces of info and I’ve been congratulated on taking the first steps towards finding a successful relationship.
Bully for me.

Ok, looks like I have some describing to do. But only in one-word choices (“rectangular,” “wooden,” etc.) on a scale of one to seven, seven being the highest, one being the lowest, and four being Henry Kissinger. Let’s get crackin’!

I haven’t written anything in 45 minutes because this test really is about the most comprehensive thing I’ve seen since that time I accidentally ate 22 pot brownies at Robert Evans’ birthday party and enrolled in (read: was forcibly withdrawn from) the U.S. Air Force Astronaut Program.
But enough about high school – I’m already 7.5 percent finished! Finding love or a mate or whatever should be a snap!

Half an hour later, we’ve moved on from single-word descriptions to actual (and by that I mean very strange) questions. They seem to beg more questions than answers, effectively defeating their own purpose. Example: “Are you satisfied with your level of emotional development?” Well, how the hell would I know? This is the only level of emotional development I’ve ever experienced. Does it get any more developmentally emotional than this?
“I have a high desire for sexual activity.” I should hope so, or what are you doing here?

Day 13. I have started a journal of my travels and enlisted the help of two Sherpas (Marty and Raoul) I found while gathering firewood in Section Three to help me navigate the terrain. The questions are becoming increasingly faith-oriented, and the mysterious lack of a homosexual partner choice in the beginning of the questionnaire is starting to become clear.
Example: “I find that going to church is a good way to meet people who benefit my social and/or professional life.”
“My beliefs make me a better person.”
The only thing an existentialist’s beliefs make him is envious of the dead. Or a writer. So, no.

Day 14. We ran out of food early in the day, and things were looking grim. Luckily, Marty’s leg became entrenched in an asinine question about “work for work’s sake” and we were forced to gladly kill and eat him.
Later, we found this: “I ask questions in search of information.” I guess you could say that.
And: “I like to be pampered.” Has there seriously been a single person, ever, who would answer negatively?
Addendum: The Marty chops were delicious.

Day 21. Raoul and I encounter what appears to be an abandoned mining operation for a list of possible emotions, most of which people would likely experience on a “somewhat” level daily – happy, sad, depressed, energetic, etc. – except for the last. “Plotted against.” I either hallucinated that one or Fidel Castro wrote this.
“Yes, comrade, I am almost always plotted against.”
At this altitude, the wind could shear your nose straight off your face.

Day 44. We have reached a plateau in Section Five: Personal Beliefs, and have decided to set up base camp. Do I want to select which religious denominations my partner should be? You bet your sweet, Raelian fanny I do.
Ok, what do we got here?
Ummmmm … no? I don’t know. What is that? And what the hell are Cao Dai and Jainism? I don’t see any signs here of normal insane belief systems like Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Maybe they got freaked out and left. But hey, Paganism’s here, as is Wicca, Scientology, Rastafarianism and Christian Science.
You know, you’d think they would at least have Agnostic. But no.

Day 473. Had a heated discussion with Raoul over the definition of “water sports” in Section Seven: Personal Interests.
Our supply of Marty has run out and we have eaten our shoes.

Day 782. Am I “very sexy?” You’re damn right I am. Oh, wait. Section 4d of the users agreement indicates I “will not provide inaccurate, misleading or false information to the Company or to any other Registered User.” Ok then, no. I am not very sexy.

Day 1,012. We had nearly completed our journey through the grueling personality test when Raoul, sadly, succumbed to line four, paragraph two of section 19a (32) of the users agreement. I was forced and anxious to eat him. I thought it only fitting as I enjoy a good turducken now and then, and Raoul had had more than his fair portion of Marty. I would consume both their souls and their experience points.

Day 1,012 (Cont.) Six hours later, I finally, wearily, stumbled to the peak and planted my flag – a picture of myself in Venice Beach looking particularly fetching. Funfact: Did you know that users with photos typically have a much higher level of success on eHarmony than those without photos? It’s maybe true!
By now, the results were tabulating, the progress bar … progressing. Moments later, my reward, my true love (or mate or whatever) would be revealed. Oh, the minute it took to find her felt like an eternity!
And kept on feeling like an eternity. Because the only thing that greeted me at the end of my long, hard pilgrimage through this bedamned den of poorly phrased probing was this message, hurled spear-like directly into my already stinging eyes:

“Our matching system was not able to find any matches for you right now.”

But perhaps it was I who made the error. Were my search terms too limited? Why, I could drive more than 60 miles for a mate or love or whatever. Let’s go with, oh, 300.

“Our matching system was not able to find any matches for you right now.”

Hey hey! Fantastic. 24,288 hours of detailing my life and this stupid thing can’t find one person within 300 miles of me that meets my custom-tailored specifications.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so honest about what I’m looking for: a smart, sophisticated bombshell with an insatiable sexual appetite that likes to have fun and can hold her liquor.
More likely I shouldn’t have been so honest about myself, but the less said about that the better.
Although, there are 12 million registered users on this “service,” with supposedly thousands more signing up each day. Let’s go for the gusto and scour the Earth for one. Surely, somewhere in this lonely world there must be –

“Our matching system was not able to find any matches for you right now.”

SPLINTERING BLUE HELL! What kind of sick joke is this? 12 million people worldwide on this infernal crap racket and not even one is compatible with me? I mean, come ON!
Now I’m out two Sherpas and the only thing I’m walking away with here is a screaming spine and verifiable proof that I am going to die alone. (Or that the wretched, socially-retarded freaks who use eHarmony wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole, which, frankly, is about 90 feet too short for me anyway.)
All right, fine. So be it. Back to the bar, I guess.
Um. How do I get down from here?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

I love television

It's true. And I should know - I'm me.
For those of you keeping score at home (granted you exist (which is frankly more philosophy than I wish to get into at the moment)) I have been on a brief hiatus this week. Not to go into too much detail, but let me put it this way: You know how they say John Wayne had something like 40 pounds of undigested meat in his colon at death? Yeah, I really doubt I would have that kind of problem should I wind up on the slab tomorrow (which felt like a very real possibility at times, let me tell you).
The best the M.E. could hope for is maybe some dust and a shred of toast. I'd be amazed if there wasn't a giant whooshing noise like a vacuum when they put the knife to me. The NAFTA of autopsies, if you will.
So, long story short, I've been locked up in this cramped room for three days with nothing to occupy my time but television (reading made me seasick). During this time, I got to see a lot, and I mean a lot, of commercials during the periods I was conscious. (Fever dreams, by the way, are awesome. I highly recommend some. I swear there were, like, a dozen POWs from 1968 being marched through my room Thursday night. Insane.)
Anyway. Commercials. Right. I love commercials. Bill Hicks had this whole bit about marketing and if you ever hear it, immediately go to a television set and turn it on. Just see how he nails it.
Like, did you know there's a diet where you get online, point, click, and lose weight? Then have I got a bridge for you! But that doesn't matter, it's the opening of this commercial that I love, which is a close-up of fresh Romaine lettuce stocks being snapped in half with a voiceover saying, "Finally!"
Finally what? Lettuce? You've already confused me and we haven't even gotten to your nonsensical product yet. As per usual, the lettuce was just oozing water, which is the rule for fruits and veggies - they must always be launched through the air, or bounced off something, but this is key: they must always be accompanied by their best friend, water. Vegophiles probably love Papa John's commercials.
Oh, and if you like sports, there is something wrong with you, sexually. That was a message that came through loud and clear. Either your jingle won't jangle, as Tom Waits put it, or you are positively riddled with STDs. On the upside, if you are riddled with STDs, chances are you're also riding a motorcycle cross-country, or kayaking, or live on the beach. Also, you're quite slim and attractive, so...I don't know, I guess it's a trade off.
To clarify, every kiss does not begin with "k." It begins with "e."
And the Whopper people. Oh GOD these people. "I want a WHOPPER!" they all scream, as though a burger would somehow help assuage whatever terrible life choices they had made that landed them in a Burger King in the first place.
Now, these are supposed to be actual customers ranting like a pile of misguided Christians at a Marilyn Manson concert because, heaven forefend, they can't have their Whopper. And these are not people who should get their blood pressure up, obviously, if they're that upset about not getting a sandwich that 5 minutes ago would have been a frozen chunk of "beef" unceremoniously snatched out of a freezer by Jimmy, the 16-year-old troubled youth from the wrong side of the tracks trying to figure out again why he isn't slinging rock on the corner while Mr. and Mrs. Octupel Bypass gibber incoherently about how they want to see a manager because "I wants me a WHOPPER!"
By the way, here's how the UNtelevised versions of that commercial went.
"Oh, um. Hmm. Ok, I guess I'll just have a double cheeseburger then."
"All right then, gimmee a chickeny ... sandwichy ... thingy."
"Well, what else do you have?"
Things exactly like the Whopper that are not named "Whopper," is the answer to that query.
I'm willing to bet that's how most of those interactions went, granted these are not actors. Which I have a hard time believing anyway because, you know, it's a Whopper. Do you understand what I'm saying here? It's a Whopper. Pick your battles and just let this one go.
All this talk of commercials just reminded me of one of my favorites. I haven't seen it for a while, possibly because it was removed from the market, but it was for some nasal inhaler for allergies called Veramyst, I think. It looked and sounded like a perfectly normal allergy drug commercial - you know, people flailing picnic blankets, running with dogs, some shots of flowers or dust cloths or something - but in tiny print at the bottom of the screen, this message appears: "The way Veramyst works is not entirely understood."
Not entirely understood? Not entirely understood? Then here's an idea - and please, just hear me out on this - maybe ... well ... I'm just saying, you know, mmmmmmaybe ... some more testing is in order? Yeah? Ohohohokay, then.
Anyway. I'm getting the "wrap it up" signal from my producer, so I'll cut this one short, but stay tuned for my thoughts on China, food, and the GDP.
Props to Martin for remembering the word "autopsy." I couldn't have done it without him. Thank you and goodnight.