Saturday, December 25, 2010

Epic Fail (The TV Story)

Do you know what the definition of "epic fail" is?

Once, I had a TV that I never used. It was big, heavy, and it took up a lot of room in a tiny apartment. I wanted to be rid of it, but mostly I didn't want to carry it down five flights of stairs. I finally decided to put it on Craigslist for free. Here's the full ad:
Yes, this advertisement is for an honest to God free television set. There are pictures below. The screen is 26" diagonal. The TV is 24" wide, 19" deep, and 22" tall, weighing in at about 60lbs. Here are some questions you may have:

Q1. Does the TV work?
A1. Yes, as does the remote that comes with it. (Two AAA batteries included! It's just like Christmas!)

Q2. It looks old.
A2. First off, this isn't a proper question, but I applaud your powers of observation. Yes, the TV is an older model - it only has a coaxial hook up in the back, as shown in the picture. If you want to hook something up to it, you probably need an adapter of some sort. I repeat, THE TV ONLY HAS A COAXIAL CABLE HOOK UP ON THE BACK. It's also probably not compatible with the evil magic or whatever the government recently did to the cable that made older TVs not work and scared everyone's grandparents.

Q3. Why are you getting rid of it?
A3. Because I have no use for it - I don't have cable, a DVD player, or any game consoles.

Q4. Why does someone like you even have a TV then?
A4. Because my sister and her family own four TVs and they thought I was deprived because I didn't have one.

Q5. Why is it free?
A5. Did anyone ever tell you that thing about gift horses and their mouths? At any rate, it's free because I'm tired of it taking up space and I can't bring myself to throw something perfectly serviceable away. Also, I'm lazy, so having someone else get rid of it for me is appealing.

Here's how it works:

Send me an e-mail, one (just one - if you don't hear back, you didn't get it) that inspires the sort of trust and confidence I need to invite a stranger into my home. I'll pick one of you out and e-mail you back. When I do, I'll give you my exact address. I live in downtown, on the top floor of an old apartment building. There are four flights of stairs leading up here and the ceilings are sloped. To warn you ahead of time, I am not going to help you with the TV in any way. You show up here, I let you in, you grab the TV (if you want, I will plug it in to prove it works), and you carry it down to your vehicle. I may wave bye to it, but this is the limit of the physical effort I'm willing to exert. You will get the TV sometime between 9AM and 8PM, no exceptions for any reason.

This whole TV thing has been a major inconvenience for me and I'm ready for it to be over.

In closing, FREE TV! Woooo!
I got a ton of replies, which I sifted through in due time. I narrowed it down to three, and finally picked a guy named Dale. He wrote a funny message and had a name I recognized; sometimes fortune is arbitrary.

After a few e-mails, we decided he would come by at 10AM to get the TV. I walked to my apartment from work and met him at the front door. He had big forearms and a gut; a hairy chest puffing out of a denim work shirt; and the I'm-going-bald-might-as-well-shave-it haircut. All in all, he looked like a mechanic, or a plumber, or the guy who's doing the drywall at the new Denny's. We walked up to my apartment and I turned the TV on for him to prove it works.

Satisfied, he picked it up and carried it out with a little maneuvering. (It's a tiny apartment, after all.) He made it all the way down the first flight of stairs and dropped it.

I heard the carbon ray tube shatter, and for a moment there was  a noise like a vacuum cleaner. Dale looked up at me with wide eyes and said, without a trace of sarcasm, "That doesn't sound good." When he picked it up again we heard parts shifting around the inside. With hang dog eyes, he said, "Sorry for the noise. I'll go ahead and take it anyway." I said nothing, because nothing I said was going to help.

Life gave him a free TV and he fucking dropped it.

I closed my door and made it a few steps before I laughed so hard I cried.

I imagined him loading the TV into his gold Sienna minivan, not bothering to secure it; driving home with the TV rocking around in the back, the slight rattle of loose plastic like a papercut in his mind; opening the rear hatch, unceremoniously dropping the TV by the curb; going inside, opening a beer, and sitting in his recliner, staring at where he was going to put the TV.

I constructed an entire life for this poor son of a bitch.

When he was seven he wanted a red Schwinn, but his dad couldn't afford it. Instead, he got a blue "Squin" knock off with a front wheel that came flying off two months later.

When he was eighteen he finally got a date with the girl he had a crush on, but she got food poisoning from bad shrimp at the Surf 'n' Turf the night before prom. He had to go alone.

When he was twenty-five his friend had a sweet manager job at the factory lined up for him, but the company went bankrupt a week before he was going to start.

When he was thirty-six he was going to start his own mechanic's shop, but Mr. Goodwrench moved in a block away and took all his future customers.

And now, now he thought, "This is my day. I'm getting me a free TV! After all these years, fortune has finally favored Dale Percy."

Instead, he not only looked the gift horse in the mouth, he punched it there. He punched it there so hard. I'm pretty sure he's the real life version of Charlie Brown, and may God have mercy on his soul.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Nativity

I tried teaching the children about Gertie, the nativity octopus, but they were resistant. After a little convincing, they were practically begging me to add other marine life.

On the left side you see Mary's best friend, crab, and her other best friends, Manx cat and half cow.

If you turn your attention to the lower right hand corner, you see an animal a little girl described as "half-sheep, half-chicken." Apparently there was gene splicing at the nativity, which no doubt gave rise to the cow with two bodies but only one head. Really, all the cows in the picture have a problem.

Do children secretly hate cows?

As for the starfish, suckling at the reverse brahmin's teat? Blasphemy. (That's the starfish's name - Blasphemy Jones.)

Irrational Fears

There are a lot of fears I have that don't make any sense, that I've nevertheless struggled with since childhood. I mean, I made up a bunch of hilarious, improbable fears that I totally don't have. Ha ha, what'd I say? Let's pretend I said something else.

(Honestly, the truth is somewhere in the middle.)

Here's the list. If anyone else suffers from one of these, please let me know. Together we can get help, or make a suicide pact because life is so hard and some days I just want to be okay.

When I'm the first one in the morning to use the bathroom at the office, there will be a dead body in the stall.

Every new jar of peanut butter will be full of a thousand angry bees.

I go to kiss a girl, her mouth is full of centipedes.

Cat learns to talk, first thing he says: "I poop in your mouth while you sleep."

Qdoba replaced by haggis themed restaurant called The Gilded Enchantress.

Find out "love" as I know it is a product of the Coca-Cola corporation.

Toilets quietly gain sentience, giant barbed tentacles; want revenge.

Phones also gain sentience, have creepy fetish about being rubbed against ears.

Go to hospital for emergency surgery, nurse confuses "syringe" and "catheter".

Dalai Lama announces Justin Bieber is a reincarnated Kurt Cobain.

Parents tell me I was adopted, birth family history has high risk for SPN (spontaneous penile necrosis).

Dairy industry announces every bottle of chocolate milk since 1984 contains trace amounts of whale semen.

Wake up to find the internet is down, ask my roommate about it. Internet? What's that?

Get up to pee in the middle of the night, blood comes out instead. Wait, no, it's raspberry jam.
Captain Planet punches me in the crotch for not recycling.

I trip while walking down stairs and never stop falling.

Wake up in a world where Ghostbusters was never made. Ghosts run amuk.

Ex-girlfriends and unrequited crushes get together to talk about my worst hair days, with pictures.

Monday, December 13, 2010

When Life Hands You Squirrels

(The events below happened on the morning of Monday, February 16th, 2008, between the hours of eight and nine AM. The names of the humans and animals involved have been changed to protect the innocent)

I woke up with the feeling that something bad was going to happen today. Maybe it's because it was Monday, the smelly kid on the bus day of the week; maybe it's because I stayed up too late  reading stupid things on borrowed (stolen?) internets; maybe it's because I had Taco Bell for "dinner" last night. Regardless - although it's probably the last one - misfortune seemed a surety.

When I rolled out of bed, I felt like a contestant on Press Your Luck. No whammies, no whammies, no whammies...stop! As a kid I always cheered for the whammies, both because they reminded me of cartoon Gremlins and because I was already a consumer of human misery.

looooving you / is easy cause you're beautiful

I got ready for work (no whammies), and aside from knocking my new glasses onto the floor, all went well. I was running late and didn't get to make my bed, but my OCD isn't the boss of me on days that aren't prime numbers.

I walked to work, trying to make the best of it. It was unseasonably warm that day; I wondered if there was an expression for it, like Native American winter. The sun shone serenely from behind some clouds (no whammies), and there was a gentle breeze. I smiled.

Then I heard a loud pop and a squirrel fell to the street beside me.

The whammies, cartoonish and red, poured out of the bushes in sunglasses and capes to run a lawnmower over my dreams of a happy day, giggling maniacally. I heard my seven year old self laughing at my twenty four year old self and I wanted to smack him.

look at her face! ahahaha *smack*

I stared at the squirrel, as one must stare at a smoking mammal suddenly fallen from the sky. He was in the process of squirrel convulsions, little arms grabbing at his chest like the old guy on Sanford & Son.

"He's a goner," I thought, "dead before he even hit the ground. He's been forced to do this hideous pantomime by that harsh mistress, electricity."

I preemptively mourned the squirrel, and wondered what unisex bathroom nightmare of a day awaited me after this. However, wonder of all wonders, the squirrel rolled himself to his feet and laid/stood there, whatever the word is for four legged animals.

The squirrel's second chance on life was already running out, however, as I heard tires on the asphalt. looked up nd saw a ar racing down the narrow lanes of Mill St. I stood transfixed, hoping the car wouldn't crush the squirrel, but unwilling to jump into the street like an arboreal Secret Service agent. I thought it's not one of nature's miracles if you survive sudden death only to have even sudden-er death turn you into paste.

I couldn't look away.

The car saw the little guy at the last moment and drifted into the other lane to avoid him. I can't express how happy I was that the universe was finally working like Mr. Rogers told me it was supposed to. I shuddered at the alternative, which would be akin to the Little Engine That Could mustering up the determination to make it over the hill, only to be melted down on the other side to make flusher handles for gas station toilets.

Mr. Squirrel was still in the street, however, and the next car might not be as invested in his welfare - and the resultant lessons about determination - as I was. I had to get him out of the street. Despite growing up in a city, I knew that trying to grab a wild animal that's been injured is like looking down the barrel of a gun to see if it's loaded.

looks fine to me!

I saw some sizable branches nearby, courtesy of the recent ice storm, and I grabbed the longest one I could find. I looked both ways, and proceeded the short distance into the thoroughfare to do my duty.

Armed with my poking stick, I gently prodded the squirrel. For a moment the absurdity of what I was doing struck me, but I resolutely pushed it down into the same mental cellar where I keep most of middle school. I told the squirrel in what I assumed as a reassuring tone, "C'mon buddy, you gotta move."

I readied myself to use the stick in self-defense if he decided I was a threat, though I wasn't pumped about my chances. His little body was rigid, and I foresaw having to use the stick like a plow, his claws digging tiny furrows in the blacktop as I shuffleboarded him to safety.

or I could tow him with a little boat

Thankfully, it only took one more poke for him to slowly walk-hop towards the sidewalk.

The squirrel paused at the base of a tree and regarded me with an almost human expression of confusion, or perhaps gratitude - I'm not experienced with squirrel emotions, and their faces are tiny. He eyed me and my stick warily; the way things were going for him, I was likely to try and beat the shit out of him with it.

He seemed okay - I'm no squirrel doctor - so I left him like that.

As I walked away, I wondered if he was going to make it. He was electrocuted and fell two stories onto the pavement, which couldn't have been kind to his insides. I don't know whether he was the luckiest or unluckiest squirrel in the world, lacking sufficient data about whether there were any squirrels near Chernobyl.

I...I guess there were

The squirrel encounter changed me, however; I think in saving him, I saved myself.

My stride was proud as I entered work, and my noble manner cloaked me as a raiment. I took my coat off and handed it to Sancho Panza, my squire and faithful companion in all adventures; my will was firm, my resolution absolute, and Ice Branch gave me comfort as it rested weightily at my side.

My name is James David, and I am the Squirrel Poker.

not like that oh why don't you listen

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sharper Image Has No Shame

Waterproof Rechargeable Vibrating Massager

Really? This is like leaving a baby in the Outback with a shirt that says "Dingoes Stay Away" on it - everyone knows what's going on, but no one's admitting it up front.

That's an actual link to the actual Sharper Image site up there, not something from Saturday Night Live. It's totally safe for work. Here's how they describe it:
It’s quiet, compact and just right for any and every spot on your body. The Waterproof Rechargeable Vibrating Massager is small, but powerful – likely the strongest vibrating massager in its category. Its shape delivers strong vibrations to stimulate blood flow, relaxation and pleasure.
There's nothing I can say that won't sound derivative compared to their own ad copy. I salute you, Sharper Image, for making and marketing the classiest not electric vibrating dong to stuff our stockings with this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How to Handle Phone Calls

Do you work at a job where you have to answer the phone? Are the people always wanting things? Do you feel confused, frightened, or hungry? Do you suffer phone related breakdowns, often soiling yourself in the process?

If so, don't despair!

The constant terror that comprises your waking life is finally over! Here at Blue Sun Consulting, we're developed a list of ten best practices for handling phone calls at health insurance providers, cell phone carriers, every government office ever, and anywhere they have phones. If you simply adopt these practices, we guarantee suicide rates will drop by as much as 5%!*

1.) You do not have what the customer wants, whatever that is. You may tell them your department does not keep those records; that you're too busy with other requests; or that they have been destroyed as part of an archival reclamation process, a unique method of burning all documents as soon as they arrive.

2.) Be effusive about how much you do not have what they want. Use words from the 1920's to express your dismay that some dumb mook would even think such a heap of baloney. Gee golly, what do they think this is?

3.) Do not respond to polite attempts at conversation, or even questions about how you're doing today. The person on the other end of the line just wants this information so they can find you and take your skin.

4.) If you're feeling playful, redirect the caller to departments they've already spoken with. Tell them the people in those departments are liars, and that they sit atop a veritable mountain of the documents the caller needs. Repeat as often as necessary!

5.) Lunch lasts from 11 until 3, and will be known to callers as "working on an important project." During this time, employees are expected to disapparate or become intangible, rendering themselves invisible to all human senses and sensory perception devices, such as radar, sonar, thermal imaging, and S.O.C.K.

6.) As per number five, everyone is away from their desks - always.

7.) As soon as the call is over, it never happened. Anyone that claims to have spoken with you before is misinformed, a liar, or a treacherous man spider from Rydigon VII, which orbits the star beyond seeing.

8.) When communicating with the caller, answer all questions as if you were the only employee, and the office consisted of a dark closet in the Claire's of an abandoned shopping mall.

9.) Most callers will try to give you a seven character ID number, as listed on all our external documents. This is useless, as the actual system is a Byzantine nightmare of encrypted hexadecimals in trinary code, which consists of zeros, ones, and a digit unpronounceable by human tongues.

(Some employees have had their tongues removed to interface with this system, which also renders them unable to answer the phones. The problem is the solution with Blue Sun Consulting!)

10.) Lastly, remember our motto: Obfuscate and Confuse.

If the person on the other end of the line follows all the steps, here's how helpful your conversation can be:

"Hello, this is Steve Wilson calling about a boring, complicated, and/or time consuming thing you don't want to do."

"Hello Steve, this is Helen at the District Court Clerk's Office. You're right, I don't want to do that thing you want me to do."

"Great! So, how soon do you think you can take no action on this whatsoever?"

"We're pretty busy today, but I think I can start ignoring this around 1, maybe 1:30. I have a lot of surreptitious internet browsing to do, and later I was thinking about pretending to go to the bathroom as an excuse to sneak out and walk around the block."

"Okay, I'll let the executive that needs this know I've called and you're going to get back to me."

"I'll make sure not to do that, and when you call back in abject frustration, I will have moved departments, deleted this request, and gone into the witness protection program."

"That's all I can ask for Helen, thanks so much!"

"You're welcome! And I'll only be Helen for another few hours, tee hee hee!"
Inquire today for full size posters of the list to hang around your office, or in-house training conducted by our celebrity coach, Gilbert Gottfried!

* (+/- 10% error ratio)