Call screening.

My television has apparently decided to protest my Veronica Mars habit.  It remains blank when I try to turn it on, which reminds me of my last date.  The point is, there’s two things that I always hear when I call tech support:

- “Please listen carefully, as our menu of options has changed.”

- “Due to a high call volume, there may be a long waiting period.”

I mean...without fail. I have never called any kind of tech support line without hearing these phrases. Just once I’d like to hear two different things:

- “We know that you don’t make a habit of calling tech support lines, and you barely remember what you had for lunch yesterday, so it’s nearly impossible that you’ve actually memorized our menu of options. Therefore, it won’t mean jack squat that we’ve recently changed them, even though we’re pretty proud of ourselves for doing so.  Therefore, just hang out and we’ll recite them for you.  Cool?”

- “We’re always understaffed and overburdened, so there’s no point in telling that you’re going to be hanging on the line for thirty minutes.  That pretty much goes without saying.  But in the meantime, instead of upselling some dumbass Circuit City product or service, our soothing female voice will now tell you how good looking you are today and why you’re the absolute best caller we’ve had all day.”

Sugar substitute.

I was thinking that maybe my love life would go better if I went with a completely different paradigm and became a Sugar Daddy.  I started to write a personal ad to that effect. But then I suddenly realized that I’m not rich--and on top of that, I’m kind of a cheapskate.

So I rewrote the ad:

“Economy-minded and fiscally responsible Sugar Daddy seeks eager supplicant.  Promises to keep you in onion rings and gold-toe socks.  Weekly shopping sprees at Target (max $50 per trip).  Will pay for your education--at the University of Phoenix.  Plans extensive, soul-nurturing travel in five mile radius of immediate neighborhood, with occasional long-distance trips to Bay Area suburbs such as Antioch and San Lorenzo.  Window shopping at only the finest stores.

The successful applicant will be responsible for the typical duties that accompany such arrangements, notably clipping coupons, rolling up spare change into coin rolls for exchange at the bank, and surfing Froogle and using a set of pre-designated keywords.  Room and board all included; don’t miss this exception opportunity to obtain the security and stability that you seek.  (Please note: The successful applicant will also be responsible for 1/2 electricity, 1/2 cable, 1/2 DSL, and for providing a bottle of Charles Shaw for each evening’s romantic repast.”

Thoughts I’ve had recently that feature one or more celebrities.

1. Sting boasts to interviewers that he has frequent tantric sex with his wife that goes on for hours.  Is it really something to brag about that you can’t focus enough to get the job done?  Maybe Sting ought to be dreaming less about blue turtles or fields of fire and concentrating more on the job at hand. Where is Entertainment Weekly asking me for the secrets of my two-minute technique? 

2. I want to be clear: I saw An Inconvenient Truth and loved it. I’ve been genuinely impressed how it changed the fundamentals of national debate on global warming, so that the discussion became less about “It’s just one side of the argument” and more about “It’s real; now what do we do about it.” Still, though. The movie rails against the American tendency to consume too much--and wouldn’t that message have been more compelling if Gore, himself, showed a little restraint?

I’m not saying he has to go all Christina Ricci. But saving the world starts at home, tugboat.

3. Everyone wants to know the truth about Britney.  Why wasn’t my phone ringing off the hook when I began to go bald?  Frankly, discussing the matter in public would have been very healing for me.

Britney and head.Me and head.


Crock up.

Have you seen those frozen crock pot dinners that you can buy in the supermarket? Who buys those things?  Having a crock pot is already admitting that you’re kind of person who would like to sleep twelve hours a night.  Having a crock pot frozen dinner is like saying that after you sleep those twelve hours, you want a servant to carry you around your house on a cot.

How long does it take to chop up the ingredients for a standard crock pot stew, anyway? Five minutes?  Do people who buy crock pot dinners pride themselves on their time management? 

“I’ve saved an average of five minutes a night by putting in a crock pot frozen dinner rather than chopping up fresh meat and vegetables.  With that time, I’ve learned three languages, two martial arts, and the difference between ‘meiosis’ and ‘mitosis.’ But I’m really hoping they make a ‘time saver’ version for busy people like me.  You’d buy the dinner, and twelve hours later it would cook itself, jump down off the stove, leap on to your face, and pour itself down your throat.”


Sharing old pictures of yourself on the Internet is apparently the new low-rise jeans, and God knows I can’t stand to not be trendy.  So here’s a few pictures my folks gave me when I visited them a few weeks ago.

Both of them are from 1983.  This first one is confusing to me because I don’t recognize myself--and not just because I’m surprised to see myself with a full head of hair.  I don’t remember that jacket, that rock, nothing.  But the look?  It is, as the kids say, pure bershon.


My mother says that I always looked bershon.  (Well, she didn’t exactly use that word because she’s not one of the kids, but her meaning was the same.) She says that I hated having my picture taken and made my feelings known about it.  I can confirm this; I remember resenting the camera. But it wasn’t because I was too cool for school. It was because I hated the feeling of my soul being sucked out of my body.

This next picture more closely resembles my mental picture of myself at that age--a scrawny runt who looked like he’d get the crap kicked out of him by a stiff wind.


But I’m less interesting here than my friend Wendy, with whom I’m sharing a birthday in this picture because our families are on a ski trip together.  She’s currently in the foreign service in Afghanistan, and she just got her orders for next year--Argentina!  Buenos Aires in ‘08.  Me, that is.  I’m hoping she’ll be in a good mood and/or not involved in international espionage and therefore can show me around the city.

Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t have taken all the cake for myself.

This I believe.

Like most intellectually lazy overeducated liberals in the Bay Area, I listen to a lot of National Public Radio.  And one NPR program I like is a segment called “This I Believe.” This spot always features some earnest, well-meaning guest speaker going on about some NPR-ish topic like finding peace within ourselves and why people should appreciate whales. 

No one ever asks me to guest host this program, although they should, so here is my own take at “This I Believe.” I’m sure my pearls of wisdom will create such a ripple effect across our social fabric that eventually I’ll be guest hosting “Fresh Air,” cracking wise on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” and also guest starring on Lost, which has nothing to do with NPR but it would be kind of cool.  So anyway, here my “This I Believe”:

Cheap wine tastes better if you pour it into one of those big honkin’ glasses that look all impressive and expensive.

Hybrid cars shouldn’t be allowed in the carpool lane until the drivers get those self-satisfied smirks off their faces.

The more ridiculous a paint color is ("Twilight Fuchsia"), the worse it will look on your wall.

Asking my opinion about the Superbowl is about as productive as having a family counseling session with Lizzy Borden.

Bulk cereal in those big plastic bags is a good buy, except that if you tear where it says “Tear Here” the bag always breaks open and spills on to the floor, thus mitigating some of the economic savings.

The way Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears have handled their 20something careers proves that I really underappreciated Madonna when she was starting out.

Although I still hate most of Madonna’s songs.  “Into the Groove” is okay.

Although I’m glad no one ever said “Get into the groove boy, you’ve got to prove your love to me,” because the only thing I can prove with my dancing is that I’ve got all the rhythm of an epileptic elephant.

People who describe themselves as complicated or multi-faceted are invariably very simple.

Good and evil may be difficult to quantify, but anyone who texts votes to American Idol is morally bankrupt.

Excellent! Now let the offers roll in.

12 years makes a difference.

The crowd outside the store where Windows ‘95 was sold for the first time:

The crowd outside the store where Windows Vista was sold for the first time:

On a completely unrelated note, here’s a picture of Kristen Bell, TV’s Veronica Mars, having lightsaber duels with her friends outside of Star Tours in Florida:

I have nothing interesting to say about the pic.  It just pleases me.