The other thing I did lately was quit my job of nearly eleven years. I quickly learned to sympathize with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart: everyone asks you the same questions, all the time. So I can be forgiven for making things up. I just didn’t expect anyone to believe me.
HUMAN RESOURCES (calling my cell): I can’t believe it! I just heard the news! Where are you going next? What’s your plan?
ME: Well, I never meant for this company to be my entire life. I want to get back to my real love--the thing I was doing before I took this job. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m going back to porn.
ME: But I don’t want to call it ‘acting.’ I think that’s crude. I think of it more as performance art. And there’s a lot I’ve learned here that I can take with me. For example, when you do a marketing campaign, there’s a point that I like to think of as ‘the money shot.’ Now, it’s not an apples to apples comparison, but I think the money shot of business-to-business marketing can be very applicable to a literal money shot.
ME: I’M KIDDING, KAREN.
HR: Oh! Okay. I take it very seriously when people tell me where they plan to go next, so I thought, well maybe that’s what Greg is planning to--
ME: Even if I wanted to, in what alternate universe do I actually have the qualifications?
Posted by Greg at 03:29 PM on 11/22/09
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Moving into a new neighborhood is like stepping into a face full of cobwebs. You blink your eyes and realize that you weren’t the first living thing to be here, and it almost feels as though your presence disrupts the natural order.
When I pull into my driveway, I sometimes look up and see that the people on the hilltop across the street--whom I haven’t had a chance to meet yet--go to their window and peer down at me, apparently making sure that I’m supposed to be there. They recognize my car and retreat back into their living room to watch TV.
“Oh, we look out for each other here,” said a woman whom I did get a chance to meet. “We’re all in the neighborhood watch and we make sure that we’re all okay. Why, just last year I helped run off a burglar. They were about to break through the glass at Janey’s house!”
How this waif-like mother helped run off a burglar remains explained. Perhaps she’s tougher than she looks. I take a step back.
Of course, you always have to explain yourself as well. “I’m in marketing and I work in the city,” I say. “I have never killed anyone, although sometimes I like to put underwear on tiny dogs. I am also available for babysitting at a nominal fee.” I haven’t said this last bit, but I’m often tempted.
“You mean you haven’t been approached by Tom yet?” Another neighbor exclaimed. “He always talks to the new residents. He’s sort of the caretaker around here.” There’s always one of those everywhere, isn’t there? The self-appointed guardian. Someone with too much time on their hands who hasn’t discovered either embroidery or the Internet.
“Do you want me to give him your e-mail address?” The neighbor continued. “He has a mailing list for the neighborhood.”
“...and what kinds of things are discussed on this mailing list for this entire, expansive block?” I asked.
“Oh, you know. Whether the nearby school is making too much noise, when we’re having a block party. That sort of thing.”
I gave him my e-mail address. Because I’d like to be on that mailing list. I’d like to know what’s going on. A neighborhood street is a lot like a big, cement life raft in the middle of an ocean...people jump on at random times, look at each other warily, and then relax and take comfort in the fact that other people decided to join the exact same raft. We float through time for a while--some jump off, but generally speaking, we all expect to be with each other for the long haul, so let’s make sure we recognize the cars that pull into our driveways, and for God’s sake let’s make sure we’re on the same page about that next block party.
Posted by Greg at 09:55 PM on 11/18/09
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Oh hey, I have a blog? Why didn’t anyone tell me? I had no idea.
Yeah, so, I’ve been a little busy lately. First, I sold my condo. When I got the paperwork back on the sale, I noted that the buyers were two women. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that my place was bought by two women in a relationship, but it does kind of point in that direction. And I have to say that I’m a little annoyed. I used to spend practically every weekend in bars trying to get two lesbians to come back to my place, and as soon as I move out they make a beeline for it? Real classy, ladies, real classy.
Then I bought a house. I spent a lot of time trying to find one I liked. It wasn’t easy. But I found a nice little house and it felt like the right fit. I decided to make an offer on it. When I came back to look at it more carefully, I found an omen: in the back yard was a little Ben Kenobi action figure with its feet planted into the foundation:
I came over to it and knelt down. Ben seemed to be meditating.
I said, “Should I buy this house, Ben?”
Trust your feelings.
“Right, but what I’m saying is, is it a good idea to go ahead and get this house?”
Trust your feelings.
“Do you say anything else besides ‘trust your feelings’?”
‘Get my feet out of this damn cement’ comes to mind. I’m a Jedi master, not a 1930s gangster.
The place has some problems. It’s perched on a hill, and to say that the floors are sloping is like saying that Chris Brown has anger management issues. The hardwood floors squeak like a pack of mice. But it’s big, quiet, and the from the deck relaxes me. I may need to be relaxed in the months ahead due to work and some other matters, so I’m going to hope that Ben didn’t lead me astray.
Parental units in front of new house.
Posted by Greg at 08:29 PM on 11/15/09
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There’s been a snag in the sale of my place. I received a nice offer, but then the buyer conducted a home inspection that revealed something behind one of the bathroom walls.
“What is it?” I asked my realtor.
“It appears to be a monster.”
“Yes, there’s a monster behind one of your bathroom walls.”
“What kind of monster?”
“Well, the inspector thinks it resembles that beast that tagged Luke Skywalker across the face in The Empire Strikes Back.”
“You mean a Wampa?”
“.........how did you know the actual name?”
“Never mind that. Look, there isn’t a Wampa hiding behind my bathroom wall.”
He shrugged. “The inspection shows otherwise. We’ll have to kill it with a lightsaber. You and the buyer will have to split the costs.”
“I don’t have a lightsaber.”
“Hmm, that means we’ll have to kill it with a balpeen hammer. That will increase the cost.”
“God damn it!”
Well, okay, apparently the inspection actually revealed “a high level of humidity, possibly indicating mold,” rather than a Wampa. But seriously, it might have well been a Wampa. There is no mold in my goddamn place. Except maybe when I forget to clean out my refrigerator sometimes.
Posted by Greg at 07:48 PM on 08/17/09
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I recently put my condo on the market. Before I did, I hired a stager.
I was a little afraid to do so. I can always tell when I visit a staged house. It doesn’t feel real; it feels...staged.
So how did they do?
Well, first of all, they put wagon wheels on the wall:
Apparently, you should want to live in this condo once you’ve had a long, dusty day heading out west with the rest of the pioneers.
Also, and you can’t see it very well, but there’s a gigantic wooden key behind the vase on the left. What exactly does this key unlock--the place where the good staging furniture is kept?
There are also, on the dining room wall, gigantic cut out wooden pieces in the shape of utensils:
I’d feel less weird about it if I had the actual utensils to use. I mean, sometimes I like to take a really big bite of cereal.
That drawer against the living room wall is actually mine:
The stager dragged it out of my bedroom. It holds my clothes, which are still in it. I wondered if any prospective buyer opened a drawer and got an eyeful of my underwear and socks.
Also, note that she took the TV out of there. Personally, I think a house without a television is just creepy. But she also took out the bookshelves and books. Without TV or books, what are people supposed to do who live here? Admire the cut out utensils?
Finally, there’s this bed:
Nice duvet. Did the country of Ireland get sick and puke all over it? How are you supposed to fall asleep on it--count not only sheep, but also Shepherd’s pie? Is the northern part of the bed fighting for home rule? I mean…
...oh wait, the bed is mine too.
Posted by Greg at 06:01 PM on 08/10/09
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I recently started driving a slightly nicer car, and I’ve noticed that very expensive cars now park next to mine.
I find this very irritating. They are probably thinking that since my car is new-ish, I’m not going to drive carelessly and ding them.
They have severely underestimated me. I am not some pampered pansy. I am 155 pounds of road rage. Sometimes, after coming home after driving in commuter traffic, I park my driveway and then run back out on the highway and start screaming again at passing cars, just to make my point.
I do not wish to be driving what I’m driving. I wish to be driving the General Lee. And one day, just to prove that it’s not good to make assumptions, I’m going to gun the gas on my new-ish car and turn their fancy-dancy cars into metal accordions. But don’t worry--I’ll leave a note on the hood. It’ll say “I look forward to you getting soaked even more when Obama’s healthcare plan hits the $250K and up bracket. Also, wash your windshield.”
Posted by Greg at 07:08 PM on 08/04/09
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I’m always stopped short when the little card reader at the supermarket asks if I want to pay with a “gift card.”
Who the hell gets someone a gift card for Safeway? “I just thought of you when I saw it hanging there next to the cash register. I mean, I know you often need to buy food, on account of needing to survive and all, so it seemed perfect.”
Or maybe people actually want them and drop hints? “I’ll tell you what I really like--groceries. Seriously, I spend practically all my time thinking about groceries. By the way, did you know it’s my birthday next week?”
It’s one thing to get a Target card for a college student or something, but it seems that every store offers a gift card. I looked it up, and even Dollar Stores have gift cards.
Which I think is extremely convenient if you want to give a $50 Dollar Store card to someone and say “I really wanted to give you exactly fifty really tacky gifts, so finding this card was like manna from Heaven.”
I’m thinking of creating my own gift card--a Greg Card if you will--and handing it out to people I know. Probably more people I don’t like, though. Because I can say, here, this card enables you to spend some time with me--but after it runs out, you have to go away or pay me to stick around. Gift cards are thoughtful, and I’m a thoughtful person, so I think this idea is pretty sound.
Posted by Greg at 08:34 PM on 08/02/09
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The first annual San Francisco Superhero Street Fair styled itself as a way of giving back to the true heroes of the city--such as firemen, policemen, and local citizens that have done good work. I can shenanigans on that; it was just an excuse for a big dance party with questionable music and even more questionable costumes:
Still, I did learn a few things. For example, at one point Wonder Woman apparently said “What the hell” and broke down and got a tat:
I was also surprised at the age difference between her and Superman. One of Wonder Woman’s most fearsome enemies is known as the Cheetah, but who knew that WW herself was a Cougar?
I also learned not to mess with my friend Backhanded Compliment Man:
At one point, an older gentleman said to him “I sort of like your outfit.” Backhanded Compliment Man shot back: “And I’m excited to see you out on a Saturday night. My dad never stays up this late.” Damn.
And, finally, I learned that the renowned heroine Cherry Popper doesn’t do a lot of crimefighting, but nevertheless performs a valuable public service:
San Francisco needs another street festival like Sarah Palin needs another ethics probe, so I don’t know if this particular expedition merits a return trip next year. However, I can safely say that if it does, it will have a bunch of music, weird people, and costumes. You know--like every other street festival in the Bay Area.
Posted by Greg at 04:43 PM on 07/26/09
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This weekend in Tahoe, I tried several times to amuse my friend’s 8-month year old daughter. No dice. She looked at me with a perpetual expression of guarded disdain--"Are you kidding me? You are not a true adult. I know from adults, and they are either my mother or father. You are not worth the diapers I poop in.”
It made me appreciate my youngest niece that much more. At roughly the same age, Emerson is one of the happiest babies I’ve ever seen. Her face is always stretching like a balloon into a wide grin, and it doesn’t take much to elicit it: cascading down her father’s chest like a waterfall, having her feet waved back and forth, being elevated high enough that she has a perfect view of her surroundings.
Things are, in short, going pretty well with Em and her recently acquired life. But then my father reminded me of this blog post that I had completely forgotten, from 2005--years before she was born:
“I just found out that Teri Hatcher’s daughter is named ‘Emerson.’ I know it’s a rule that you can’t have a hit TV show or movie unless you have horrible names for your kids, but this is going too far. Can this young prodigy explain the philosophical underpinnings of transcendentalism? Did she supply Harvard with a graduating address called ‘The American Scholar’? No? Then she’s not allowed to have the name. Instead of complaining every time the paparazzi sticks a camera in her face, I’d expect her to explain the zoom lens as a modern-day version of the transparent eyeball. I’ll look for your analysis in Us magazine, Emmy.”
This doesn’t look too good for my future relationship with my second niece. But let me state--clearly and unequivocally--that nothing is out of bounds when it comes to making fun of Teri Hatcher. She is dumb.
Second, although it looks as though I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth like an In-N-Out burger, I’d like to point out that following:
My niece can explain the philosophical underpinnings of transcendentalism. If she wasn’t napping, she’d do it right now.
She’ll be giving graduating addresses at Harvard and other speaking engagements momentarily. As soon as she learns how to speak. Which is apparently a prerequisite of having a speaking engagement.
She’s forgotten more about the transparent eyeball than you’ll ever learn.
I think that clarifies the matter. However, I’m sticking to the position that “Sterling” really is a ridiculous name for a child.
Posted by Greg at 08:43 PM on 07/19/09
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You know what’s the ultimate no-win social situation? When the serving person brings out every other dish but yours.
This just never goes well. Either you say nothing, which is rude. Or you tell the people around you, “No no, start eating before everything gets cold, Don’t feel bad--look, I’m eating too. I’m having the last of the bread, and I’m also gnawing on my napkin.”
But think about what you just did to everyone else at the table. Either they start eating, which makes them look insensitive, or they don’t, which means they’re ignoring a direct request from you. At which point everyone sits silently and looks awkwardly at each other. They start thinking heavily about baseball in order to forget that there’s a delicious, steaming plate of food in front of them.
And this always happens when you’ve ordered the simplest thing on the menu. It’s not like everyone else at the table ordered macaroni and cheese and you ordered lobster bisque. You say, “Look, it’s a damn cheeseburger. I make cheeseburgers at home in about five minutes. What’s the deal?”
And the server says “Oh! Don’t worry, yours will be coming right out.” Which is code for “We’re currently slaughtering the cow, at which point we will process it and prepare it to become meat patties in several hours time.”
Normally I’d call for servers to try to align all their customers’ meals together, so they’re brought out at once and someone isn’t left without. But I know that this is all an elaborate social experiment centered on me. Servers keep watch for me. And when they see me coming into the restaurant with my friends, they chatter excitedly: “He’s almost here. Now remember, serve him last with a space of about fifteen minutes. $20 says that after he finishes eating his napkin, he’ll start nibbling on the tablecloth.”
Posted by Greg at 12:44 PM on 07/11/09
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SHE: What size of refrigerator are you looking for? 20 cubic feet?
HE: A bit smaller.
SHE: 18 cubic feet?
HE: Here’s the thing: I just need to be able to fit a good-sized adult body in the freezer.
ME: ...you probably hear that joke a lot.
SHE: Fortunately, no.
Posted by Greg at 08:56 PM on 06/30/09
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I never understand why people get frustrated that I won’t go to any high school reunions--particularly people who know that I didn’t enjoy high school. I still keep in touch with a handful of awesome people from that time, and that suits me fine. The rest--I wish them well, but I’m not interested in going to a party with them.
“But you get to see all the people,” they say.
Well, obviously, if I liked the people, I would have liked high school. It wasn’t as though I had an issue with the buildings and the landscaping.
“But you get to see how they’ve changed.”
And I’m like, are people going to be saying these same things to former prisoners from Abu Ghraib fifteen years from now?
“I’m organizing an Abu Ghraib reunion! You just have to go; you’ll get to see everyone you miss!”
“I don’t miss anyone. It was years of detention and torture.”
“But you get to reminisce about old times! People will bring old pictures of everyone being stacked up on top of each other! I know Amahl is bringing a waterboard--remember when that was trendy?”
Posted by Greg at 06:55 PM on 06/28/09
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What really worries me about Michael Jackson’s death is that his biggest asset--the rights to the Lennon/McCartney catalog--will now be auctioned off to pay for Jackson’s pile of debt.
People my age will remember what a big deal this was back in the ‘80s, when McCartney and Jackson were bitter bidders and rivals as they fought to obtain the rights. Now, this proved to be a gift to the world of music, as it meant that they would never again team up to sing a song like “The Girl is Mine.” Nonetheless, it was pretty fierce at the time. Jackson ended up winning the rights by paying roughly $47 million.
It turns out that when you buy the rights to songs, they don’t depreciate as soon as you drive them off the lot. Those Beatles songs are now worth hundreds of millions.
Actually, wait, that’s not true. I bought the rights to the collected work of Kid Rock for a few hundred bucks, and I completely lost that investment. So I guess it depends on whose songs you buy. Evidently, Beatles songs hold up pretty well. (Except for “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Does anyone really need to hear that one again?)
So here’s my worry: obviously, McCartney will cackle to himself and say “Ha! I outlived the jerk. Now I can buy my songs back.” Except, really, what’s Paul worth? Maybe $500 million? We’re talking the rights to the Beatles songs. The richest people in the world are going to be all over this, particularly after they saw how Jackson netted hundreds of millions in royalties year after year as a result of his purchase. My opinion is, the rights to these songs will be bought by some oil baron from the Middle East.
So what, you say? Well, if they have the rights, won’t they have the ability to change the songs a bit to suit their own point of view?
Say goodbye to the classics you know, and say hello to:
Back in the United Arab Emirates
Baby You Can Drive My Camel
Oil Fields Forever
The Hippy Hippy Sheik
The Fool on the Sand Dune
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds that I Got from my Personal South African Mine
Like everyone else, I’m pulling out my Jackson music and listening to it. But I’ll tell you what, I’m also pulling out my Beatles songs while I have a chance. Because it just won’t be the same when I’m hearing how that guy has a steady job but really wants to be a Fatwa Writer.
Posted by Greg at 08:00 PM on 06/25/09
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As we begin the countdown to the Fourth of July, I think it’s worth assessing some of the reasons why the United States broke away from England. Oh sure, you can talk taxation, equal rights, whatever. But the real reason is that the Brits are willing to destroy the minds of their children for no good reason, and we realized that we had to protect our offspring.
The most recent example pertains to the British government recommending that schools not teach the “i before e except after c” rule.
The news article discusses the matter with dispassion, but the repercussions are potentially catastrophic. You don’t just take away one of the cornerstones of western education without severe consequences. Kids need direction. Kids need guidance. The children of my generation were lifted aloft by the sheer, sleek simplicity of this grammar rule; it gave us solace in dark times, and kept us from listening to The Smiths more than three hours a day. Why not just shower Britain’s schoolyards with booze, drugs, and porn while we’re at it?
And what reason do they give? “"The rule is not worth teaching because it doesn’t account for words like ‘sufficient,’ ‘veil’ and ‘their.’”
How did these guys survive as a world power all those years? Listen up, continent: things that are taught in school do not have be true at all. Was Columbus a great hero who was kind to Indians and played Chutes & Ladders with them while learning how to make cranberry sauce? Were our founding fathers a bunch of sensitive, colorblind emancipators? Was I Love Lucy actually funny? Of course not. But these lies--which are still taught to this day, in classrooms all across America--form the bedrock of our families, our community, and our society.
If we stop teaching this rule, we are threatening the very fabric of our nation. This may sound like an overblown statement--that such a small, incremental change to our children’s curriculum will wreak such havoc--but once you remove one pillar of moral integrity, many more will be sure to follow. This week, we will no longer care about “i before e, except after c"--next week, it will be grammatically acceptable to start sentences with a conjunction and end them with a preposition. And that’s the kind of world you should be very scared of.
Posted by Greg at 04:53 PM on 06/21/09
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I have a theory that God runs reality pretty much like a corporation, and when you die you have to talk with Human Resources prior to shuffling off this plane of existence:
HR: Thanks for coming in, Mr. Howard. Now, the first thing I’d like to ask you is--HEY. What are you doing with that iPod?
ME: Being dead doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy quality tunes.
HR: I’m sorry, that’s company property. The rules specifically say--"You can’t take it with you.”
ME: That is completely lame.
HR: And the stapler.
HR: Now, let’s talk about how your career went with us. Do you feel your goals were sufficiently established?
ME: Like hell. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Management needs to be much more clear about His objectives.
HR: Well, our culture prizes autonomy and self-starters.
ME: Yeah, like that Hitler guy.
HR: Come on. If I only had a nickel every time some newly dead person defended his actions by invoking Hitler. Now, how did you feel about your co-workers?
ME: Liked a lot of them--loved the one who did that one thing, damn, you need to teach more of your employees to do that--was annoyed by a bunch of them, and what was up with that guy who kept adding me on Facebook? If I were you, I’d use a more stringent screening process in your recruiting.
HR: Oh, natural selection isn’t a finely tuned enough process for Your Majesty?
ME: Honestly, it needs some work. I mean, a billion years of evolution and we get Paul Blart: Mall Cop. And we still have a tailbone for no apparent reason.
HR: What would you recommend to build a better workplace?
ME: More shared objectives, better communication, better salary, and fewer meetings. Also, flying cars.
HR: So, would you work here again?
ME: Well, I’m dead and I’m not coming back, so I’m gonna be honest with you. This place is deeply dysfunctional, it’s poorly run, and although there’s a lot of good intentions and good ideas, I think the culture needs a ground-up reworking.
HR: Actually, you could come back. You’re eligible for re-hire through our newly established reincarnation program.
HR: Long waiting list, though.
ME: ....what I meant to say was, I’d come back in a heartbeat. So to speak. Love the executive management style--very “hands off,” very “create your own meaning whilst you spin in the existential void.” Which I personally find very empowering. Great, thanks, please spell my name correctly--it’s “Greg” with one “G.” HR at my actual company never got that right.
Posted by Greg at 12:14 PM on 06/13/09
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