AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY WOMAN: Okay, we’ll schedule a pick up and collect your car. You’ll be notified in advance. Thanks for your donation.
ME: No problem. Thanks.
(She calls back later)
ACS WOMAN: The towing people left me a message that they’re coming by your place this afternoon.
ME: What? No one told me that. I’m at work...I can’t meet them and give them the keys.
ACS WOMAN: What? Okay, I’ll call them and tell them that.
(Someone calls me later)
TOW GUY: Hi, I’m the towing guy, here to collect your car for the American Cancer Society. I’ll be at your place in ten minutes.
ME: You were supposed to be called by ACS Woman. No one told me you were coming by. I’m at work. I can’t meet you.
TOW GUY: Oh. How about Monday, then?
ME: I can’t...I’m flying out of town for a week.
TOW GUY: Oh.
(ACS Woman calls me later)
ACS WOMAN: They can pick it up on Monday.
ME: I can’t, I’ll be out of town. Tell you what...can I leave the keys in the car’s exhaust pipe, like in an envelope or something?
ACS WOMAN: That could work. I’ll call the towing people and tell them that.
ME: Okay, but can you please make sure they pick it up on Monday? I live in Oakland...leaving the keys anywhere within ten miles of a car is not a good idea.
ACS WOMAN: Okay.
(I call ACS Woman the middle of the following week)
ME: Did they pick up the car yet?
ACS WOMAN: Not yet. I’ll call them.
ME: You know what?
ACS WOMAN: What?
ME: I think I’ve realized why we haven’t cured cancer yet.
Posted by Greg at 07:19 PM on 06/08/09
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(I am renting a car at the airport.)
GUY: Here’s your paperwork, sir. Now Alicia will show you where to pick up your car...and she may even tell you a joke.
(Alicia is a young, innocent-looking girl with a long ponytail. She smiles.)
ME: Hey, I want to hear a joke.
ALICIA: Okay! Why don’t women wear watches?
ME: Uh...hmmm...I don’t know.
ALICIA: They don’t need them! The oven already has a clock!
ME: (surprised gurgle of laughter)
GUY: Told you she’d tell you a joke.
ME: (pointing at Alicia) She’s a female, right?
GUY: She is, she is.
ALICIA: Hey, it made you laugh!
ME: I think I laughed because you told that joke. I can never tell that joke. I’ve gotten too used to my heart being inside my rib cage.
Posted by Greg at 04:29 AM on 06/01/09
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It’s not like I update my Twitter anymore than I do this dumb blog, but you’re welcome to visit me there anyway.
Posted by Greg at 08:43 AM on 05/30/09
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Kurt Vonnegut coined the concept of a karass, which is a group of people who are linked together and collectively perform “God’s work,” even if they’re unaware of it.
I always liked this concept, and I recently thought that I understood who was in my personal karass--the people with the same urination schedule as I do.
There appears to be no other connection to us. There appears to be no other alignment in our spiritual and political worldviews. But I began to realize that I saw them consistently in the men’s bathroom at work--because we shared a timetable in regards to when we needed to micturate.
You could say it’s just a coincidence--that we start drinking coffee at the same time every morning, and that our metabolisms digest it the same way, and it burbles up and sends us to the restroom at almost precisely the same time each day.
But I think it’s a sign that our lives are laced together and joined in service of a higher purpose.
I tested this theory the other day. As Ben and I both faced the wall over our respective porcelain companions, I said, “So Ben...have you felt a sense of...purpose lately?”
He said, “Sure. Going home and getting drunk so I don’t have to think about this goddamn project.”
I said, “But is that truly what we’re meant here to do?”
He looked at me. “Listen, if you have a problem with my output, take it up with my vice president. I’m not discussing this with you. And it’s not like you’ve been such a hotshot lately either. Your latest press release misspelled the word ‘actionable.’”
He stormed out. Rick walked in--someone else whom I almost only ran into in the bathroom. He took Ben’s place, sighing “Boy, that latte went down good and now it’s going to go out the same way.”
I said, “Rick, is there anything important you need to tell me that could have a major impact on both our lives?”
“Hey, Greg, I’m glad you brought that up. There totally is.”
“What is it?”
“You can shut up for a few minutes. When people talk to me while I’m doing my thing, it completely blocks me.”
I’ve noticed that as a result of these sort of conversations, my karass is beginning to look at me differently. They eye me when I come in the bathroom, and shift nervously until I leave. I think it’s because the concept is starting to sink in with them. They realize that we’re not just messing around in here; we’re forming a collective that will carry out a sacred quest. Tomorrow I’ll encourage all of them to keep drinking coffee just like they usually do, because I feel we will be called upon soon to fulfill our mission. Drink up, boys...drink up.
Posted by Greg at 08:45 PM on 05/27/09
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HE: And I found out that Green Day was playing a secret show at the club to practice for their upcoming tour, so I grabbed my videocamera, went there, and totally caught them playing their new single. Then I uploaded it to YouTube.
ME: Wow. Really? You did that? I’ve always wondered who films those things and uploads them. And here I am, talking to one of them. You’re one of them. You’re one of those guys.
HE: Yeah! It’s great! It’s already got 150,000 views and, like, over 100 comments by people saying how cool it is!
ME: Don’t you worried about getting sued?
HE: Oh no, the record company and the band don’t care. It’s, like, free publicity for them.
ME: Okay, cool. So can I find this masterpiece by doing a search on YouTube for your name?
HE: Well, no, you need to do the search for my alias, Biff Barton.
Posted by Greg at 09:28 PM on 05/20/09
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I recently went back to Disneyland again for my niece’s fifth birthday, and I realized that I have strong feelings about the “Soaring Over California” ride in California Adventures.
It is probably not the worst ride in the park, but it feels like the worst ride because everyone keeps talking it up. Friends and family always say “People told me to be sure to ride Soaring over California.” It’s like when people hype some movie as being the greatest ever and then it turns out to star Ben Stiller. I would probably rather do Soaring Over California than, say, Tarzan’s Treehouse or something, but I still feel adversarial to the whole concept.
Basically, you sit in a chair in front of a large projected movie screen and “fly” over various California landscapes:
Oooh! Hot air balloons! Look out, you might hit one!
And then they spray you with various scents--for example, you’re flying over a bunch of orange trees and then you smell oranges. Wow, it’s like you’re really there. With a bunch of orange trees. That’s...mind blowing.
Here’s my issue: the concept of the ride is fine. But why waste it on California landscapes? The ride is already in California. If you want to see a bunch of hot air balloons, go ride a hot air balloon. You want to fly over vineyards? They have so many vineyards in California that I’m starting to think that they reproduce naturally, like fungus. Are there really winemakers overseeing all those damn things?
Instead of boring California scenery, they are tons of cool things that you could be flying over. All it takes is a little imagination. Here are my suggestions for revamping the ride:
Soaring over Cleveland (at least now the ride isn’t about California)
Soaring over the Mexican Drug War
Soaring over Cambodian Brothels
Soaring over Lindsay Lohan (passengers are shrunk down to microscopic size, then swoop and dive over her pores--great education for the kids)
Soaring over China and then Careening Out of Control and Smashing Into the Great Wall (not recommended for people with heart conditions, pregnant women, or people who bruise easily)
I’d like to officially protest the fact that my opinion was not solicited when the ride was created. However, at the present time, I am willing to accept a formal apology from Disneyland.
Posted by Greg at 02:35 PM on 04/11/09
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A few days ago, on my 39th birthday, I had to go to Best Buy to buy a cable.
I stood in line but stopped to browse the rack of birthday cards, remembering I had to buy one for my niece. I said “Go ahead of me” to the guy behind me, but he was already lumbering past me.
Even out of the corner of my eye, I could feel his nervous, violent energy. He was looking at his hands, then at the floor, then around himself. His movements were as jerky as a black and white cartoon.
I was surprised to see that he was a teenager--tall and loping, like a basketball player, but young. He wore baggy pants and a torn shirt featuring some band I had never heard of. Pumped full of some kind of manic energy, he constantly looked as though he was going to stop, drop, and roll. I thought what any older adult thinks when encountering such an individual: “Must be drugs.”
The young man finished his purchase, then turned to me and said “I’ve been in places like this all morning. They suck out MY ENERGY, MAN.”
I noticed that his wallet, attached to his pocket by a gold chain, was dragging on the ground. It flopped open, revealing a driver’s license behind fuzzy plastic. I said, “Hey, careful there. I think you want your wallet.”
He collected it and stormed out the door. I bought my cable and card, then left. And he was sitting out there on the curb, staring at me.
He shouted at me, “COME TALK TO ME MAN.” I waved at him. “NO NO,” he insisted. “COME TALK TO ME. COME ON, COME TALK TO ME.”
I headed to my car. “HEY. WHAT ARE YOU, TEN YEARS OLDER THAN ME? COME ON. YOU’RE SOME KIND OF BUSINESSMAN, AND BEFORE YOU DESTROY THE WORLD AND MY FUTURE, COME TALK TO ME!”
I waved at him again. “Ten years? That’s great!”
He started screaming. “I HATE YOU, YOU #*&*&*! ALL I’M ASKING IS FOR YOU TO COME TALK TO ME! YOU @*(&*@&*&!! WHY WON’T YOU TALK TO ME!”
But I was busy calculating in my head. The kid was no older than 18. If he thought I was ten years older, that put me at 28...eleven years younger than my actual age.
So I want to dedicate this post, Kasey Kasem-style, to that young, drugged out, badly dressed young man. You did me a solid. I hope you clean up and get straight, and maybe listen to some decent music. I mean, sure, you’re as loopy as a loon...but does that mean that you were wrong in how you assessed my youthful appearance? I think not.
Thanks buddy! And in return for the compliment, I will do my solemn best not to destroy your world.
Posted by Greg at 07:43 AM on 04/03/09
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As I was getting a haircut just now, I was subjected to a Muzak version of Sting’s “Fields of Gold.”
Did someone really stop and say “You know, ‘Fields of Gold’ would be a perfect song to play to people getting a haircut, except that it’s just a bit too noisy. Can we tone it down and make it less intrusive?”
“Fields of Gold” is already played coast to coast in elevators everywhere. Making a Muzak version of it is like putting Heidi Klum on a diet plan.
I’d like to make a Muzak version of a Muzak version of a Sting song. It would sound like a low, barely discernible hum. You could do a bunch of them and release them as an album: “Sting Proudly Presents: Inside the Mind of a Coma Patient.”
Posted by Greg at 12:51 PM on 03/07/09
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It’s just possible that it’s time to move out of your current area, when you pick up a copy of the local paper--for example, let’s say yesterday’s Oakland Tribune--and read this headline: “Police arrest 69 people, euthanize 80 birds in cockfighting bust.”
Oakland, you ignorant slut.
Posted by Greg at 12:52 PM on 03/05/09
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It’s called “Mini Moo’s.” I believe this to be a grammatical error and that it’s probably meant to be plural, meaning that the name should be “Mini Moos.” But what if it’s accurate, and the apostrophe is meant to act as a possessive? What is this brand of coffee creamer meant to possess exactly--the ability to suck?
The primary brand of Mini Moo’s is “Land o’ Lakes,” which features the image of a pretty Native American woman. To me, this is mixing metaphors. What am I supposed to think of, a small cow or a hot girl? Is the creamer suggesting that the woman is actually a cow? This is not very nice.
The fact that there’s a Native American woman anywhere near the damn thing. What, we commit genocide against their people and in return they get to festoon our dairy products? “Thanks for that blanket covered in smallpox. In return, here, have some lightly salted butter.” The parent brand of Land o’ Lakes is a company called “Real"--I can only presume that stands for Real Sensitive.
It says “Not necessary to refrigerate.” This scares me.
It says “Shake Well before Using.” That, in combination with the lack of necessary refrigeration, really scares me.
I use this stuff five days out of the week.
Let this blog serve as my living will: I am prepared to donate my skeleton to science so nerds in coats can assess the after effects.
Posted by Greg at 08:04 AM on 02/16/09
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Having recently completed finalizing a Mission, Vision, and Value statement for my company, I’m pretty sensitive to how these things work. And I can safely say that the ones for the Transportation Security Administration pretty much suck:
Really? Innovation, Integrity, Intensity, and Imagination?
I’m okay with Integrity. But don’t the rest of these pretty much scare the hell out of you?
Innovation: “The x-ray machine is broken. Rather than have all of us wait around until it’s fixed, can you please come over here and dump out your bag and also take off all your clothes? Don’t worry, it’s completely okay to do this--one of the TSAs values is ‘Innovation.’”
Intensity: “Sir, can you please open your bag for me? And do it RIGHT NOW? BEFORE I FRICKIN’ RAM YOUR HEAD OPEN WITH THIS STEEL BAR?”
Imagination: Just to provide some more color around this one, the actual value statement reads: ‘I am the frontline of defense, drawing on my imagination to creatively protect America from harm.’ So how would this work, exactly? “Don’t worry as you go through the x-ray, my friends--I stand at the ready with Neal, my trusty unicorn, to protect us from terrorists!”
Remind me to take the bus.
Posted by Greg at 10:06 PM on 02/09/09
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25 things about me:
1. In junior high I sent a fan letter to Missy Gold, the child star of the sit-com Benson. It was heartfelt and sincere. In return, I received an 8x10 glossy from her publicist. I considered this a pretty good deal.
2. I like the word “apoplexy,” but I am not very fond of “uvula.”
3. I have a really good beginning and ending for a novel, and I wish someone would write the middle for me.
4. I feel very at peace with the fact that Tony Danza has finally fallen off the pop culture radar.
5. I am terrible dancer for someone who loves music so much.
6. I think that garbanzo beans are criminally underrated in terms of their overall contribution to salad excellence.
7. I sealed my record at age 18. It contained two crimes. The first: a speeding ticket. The second: being arrested at age 16 for getting drunk in public with two friends.
8. It wasn’t really in public; it was behind a supermarket. But the cops apparently patrolled there. It was a small town and they had nothing better to do. Ingrates.
9. I am almost guaranteed to like any song in a minor key. It’s not that I’m a sad person; I just think minor key music sounds more beautiful.
10. I type around 120 words a minute, mostly because I learned on a computer when I was around 11.
11. If I had to choose, I’d rather be a zombie than a vampire, because vampires are all with the faux aura of sophistication and lame accents, whereas zombies are more straightforward and direct about their needs.
12. I don’t care whether the medium is a novel, a movie, a comic book, or a company brochure--I love great stories in any form.
13. I like spending time with my niece, although when she crawls on top of me for several hours, I end up with “niecehead"--a condition that resembles hathead.
14. My friend Meredith told me to say in this list that I furrow my eyebrows a lot.
15. I probably wouldn’t do this if the world would wise up and agree with me a lot more than it does.
16. I picked up my love of science-fiction from my father, my appreciation of a good bowl of oatmeal topped with raisins and nuts from my mother, and my fondness for The Doors from my brother. They are all great people.
17. However, I also picked up their habit of going to bed relatively early, which has annoyed various friends of mine for years.
18. I average three cups of coffee a day. Any fewer makes me sluggish; any more makes me as a hair-trigger as an rookie cop in Oakland.
19. I usually listen to Talking Heads’s “Stop Making Sense” CD on or around my birthday every year.
20. If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing for a living, I’d like to be the guy who names all those paint colors, like “Crimson Millennium” and “Custard Magnificence.”
21. I have a real weakness for hot dogs.
22. In fact, I’ve eaten so many that they won’t need to embalm me when I die. My loved ones will peer into my open casket and say “Yeah, that’s pretty much what he looked like.”
23. I am prepared to watch an episode or two of Buffy with you so you can understand why it is the apex of quality television.
24. I’m trying to be a better listener.
25. What did you say again?
Posted by Greg at 06:02 AM on 02/05/09
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“I like the color blue.”
“That’s a good color. I like pizza.”
“Pizza is good. Sometimes I eat pizza for breakfast.”
“That is interesting and good.”
“I like to think about the future. Like, what am I going to be doing next week?”
“That is very interesting as well.”
“And I think about things.”
“Well, I think the Beastie Boys were right. It is necessary to fight...”
“...for your right to party. I think about that too.”
“We both think about things deeply.”
“Delineate your precise your timeline for procreation, preferably in increments of months rather than years.”
“It depends whether I’d be able to fund their private school education from current liquidity or if I’d require a reverse mortgage.”
“If we were hypothetically married, would you foresee joint checking accounts or individual ones?”
“I think we’d pool basic necessities such as groceries and Netflix but maintain individual lifestyle accounts. Split the difference on couples therapy.”
“Would this be an opportune time to review the details of our pre-nuptial contracts?”
“Fine, but the copy in my purse is laminated. You’ll be able to sign it after our third date--that’s when I’ll be comfortable enough to introduce you to my lawyer.”
Posted by Greg at 06:04 AM on 02/03/09
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“Your reading comprehension is improving, but you need to use a dictionary if you’re not sure how to spell a word like ‘comprehensiveness.’”
-- Mrs. Van Dusen, Fifth Grade Teacher
“Strong thesis statement, but I think you’ve misunderstood the primary motivation behind Dickens’s use of the first-person narrator in regards to the key themes in chapters 47 and 48.”
-- Professor Byrd, UC Davis
“Dear Mr. Howard: We appreciate the chance to review your manuscript. We found it very interesting. Unfortunately, it does not meet our needs at the present time.”
”I like your site. If I link to you, will you link to me?
-- Private email sent in regards to GeeseAplenty.com
“Great press release. But you need to use a dictionary if you’re not sure how to spell a word like ‘comprehensiveness.’”
-- Former Boss
Posted by Greg at 06:02 AM on 01/28/09
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1. Interviewing badly in a bad economy. So I finish interviewing this person for my department, and I ask if he has any questions for me. He says, “Well, where were you before you joined the company...”
[assesses my still-boyish features as well as long tenure at my current job]
Survey says BZZZT. I absolutely will recommend this candidate receive a job offer on the spot...to sling fries, that is. Still, I guess it was a backhanded compliment of a sort, and I did go ahead and cancel my weekly botox appointment.
2. Excessive display of Obama fervor. Look, I like the guy too, and I’m particularly fond of his ability to speak in complete sentences as well as the fact that he used to collect Spider-Man comics. But he is not going to single-handedly save our economy, bring peace to the Middle East, defeat the terrorists, and invent flying cars. At best, he’ll get around to one of them. And I know the one I’m betting on, and will continue to watch the skies until I see it brought to fruition.
3. People who send me an email at work and then come over and ask me if I’ve read the email. Couldn’t you have just come talk to me in the first place if you were so motivated to gaze upon my beatific features? Why send the email and give me the spanish inquisition? Here’s a surefire way to know that I’ve read an email (that you just sent five minutes ago): you get a reply. The Interwebs, is there nothing they can’t do?
4. People who say ‘you know’ like it’s going out of style. There’s nothing wrong with verbal tics; I personally begin every sentence with “Listen up, bozo.” But if you can’t get through three words without saying “you know,” I’m happy to go make some chamomile tea while you relax and collect your thoughts. And then if you start up again and keep doing it, I can dump the tea on your head.
5. People who nominated Benjamin Button for Best Picture. That movie definitely gave me the sense of a someone’s complete lifetime...mine. Slipping away hour after hour after hour. I didn’t even like it the first time it swept the awards.
6. People who allowed sub-prime mortgages to go on for years. These guys totally messed it up for all of us, and have you noticed that we haven’t even heard an apology? They’re all just trying to blend in, saying “Gosh, times are sure tough” like they had nothing to do with it. Let’s all gang up and, say, not invite them to any parties this year. That’ll send a stern message.
7. People who find a two-hour window in the weekend to do their taxes insanely early so they can use the refund for beer money. Oh wait, that’s me.
Posted by Greg at 03:08 PM on 01/25/09
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