Thursday, October 28, 2010

Timid Woodland Creature

Halloween is this Sunday and I am totally unprepared. We get a shit-ton of kids coming to the house (well over 100) and good lord if they don't all want something for free. The cats hate this night almost as much as they hate the 4th of July. No, the cats don't hate America and your freedoms, they hate fireworks and our doorbell. Luckily, the Trick or Treaters ringing the doorbell doesn't happen every night for an entire month like the fireworks do. Fuck you ineffective Chapter 148, Sec 9, General Laws Board of Fire Prevention Regulations, Massachusetts Fire Safety Code, 527 CMR 2.00. You are a joke law with zero teeth.

What was I talking about? Oh yea, Halloween and all the crazy spooky shit that goes along with it. I may have mentioned a few times that I don't do scary movies. I do not care for them. They can scare me and I find this unpleasant. I do not enjoy seeing gore or zombies or what have you. I am not good at keeping my girly shrieks at bay and I have found that using my hands to shield my eyes does not prevent the horrible sounds from getting to my brain. And this is where the sounds will put images that may very well be worse than anything the movie is presenting.

I remember scaring myself into thinking that I saw a ghost in my bedroom (after my grandmother on my mom's side died. She was the first dead person I had ever seen). I had pulled the covers up and jammed myself up against the wall next to my bed so that if the ghost bumped into the bed (?), it wouldn't brush up against me. So there I was all wrapped up and protected when the thought occurred to me that, "Wait, I can still hear things." Ghosts make that spooky sound right? I would still be able to hear that and I'd have a heart attack and die at 10 years old. That thought messed me up and I proceeded to jam a pillow onto my head to block out sound. Luckily I did not pass out from lack of oxygen or overheat and explode (I normally require lots of ventilation).

With Halloween so close, everywhere I look and every news or entertainment outfit has something that could potentially freak me out. "Top 10 Horror Movie Scenes!" shouts one article with a large picture of that fucking Exorcist kid front and center. "No fucking thanks," I say and click over to another site. "50 Scariest Movies!" proclaims the caption under yet another shot of Linda Fucking Blair snarling at me. Jesus fuck. I just want to read about the economy or something totally not scary like that (wink! it's sarcasm folks! zoinks!).

I can trace my aversion to the horror and/or scary movie genre back to 1975 when at the far too fucking young age of 5, my parents took me to see a little film called Jaws. Are you kidding me? That's messed up. When that severed head in the sunken boat clonked into frame, I'm pretty sure I had a stroke. From that day on their movie viewing choices were suspect. I remember my mom announcing one Saturday morning that "We're all going to the Granada Theater to see a movie today." Lovely, and what movie would that be, dear mother of mine? "We're going to go see Young Frankenstein." I balked because although she promised me that it was a comedy and I'd like it, this was the same woman who said I should watch Psycho with her one night when I couldn't sleep. Wow. And yes, I would watch the Creature Double Feature on Channel 56 nearly every Saturday. But that was mainly movies with dudes in cheap rubber suits. However there was one that stuck with me. The Brain That Wouldn't Die scared the bejeezus outta me.

If you'd like a quick gauge of my level of jumpiness I can provide it. As a kid I was frightened by an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Yep. And not just by little Richie's horrible acting either (I can remember even as a little kid thinking "Wow, that kid is a really shitty actor. Why does he yell all his lines? Couldn't they just fire the little fuck and get someone who's good at this?"). I was freaked out by how freaked out Dick Van Dyke was. When he came home at the end of the show and they started coming after him from the other rooms? I lost my little mind. Morey Amsterdam's bugged out eyes coming out of the bedroom was terrifying. Seriously. Even when Laura comes cascading out of the closet on a wave of walnuts I was scared (at the 19:20 mark on this video).

So this past weekend I went on to Netflix and searched for that episode to see if it would elicit the same reaction now that I'm all grown up and (presumably) less skittish. I found it and streamed it off my PS3 (so cool being able to do that. I love technology). It is basically a spoof of a Twilight Zone episode and I was totally enjoying watching it. Then, that scene came up...yep, still spooked me. Maybe I'm just afraid of Morey Amsterdam? Lesson learned. No scary movies or even pseudo scary 49-year-old family television shows. Yea, I'm a real man alright.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Existence Precedes Essence

Similar to what she did last year, The Wiff has been in Florida for the last several days hanging out with her friends by the pool at Universal Something or Other. You can see by my inability to recall the actual name of the theme park/resort that I am not a fan. Good thing too since I wasn't invited. Which is fine. I didn't wanna go to your stinky movie-themed getaway with a cool pool and hang out all day anyway. I wanted to stay in Boston where it was cold and kinda rainy. I prefer it. So there. No, actually I do. For realsies.

Day 1: The Wiff had to leave at stupid o'clock because her flight to Orlando was leaving out of T.F. Green in Providence. Have I mentioned that we live about 10 miles from Logan Airport? No? Well, we do. She wasn't thrilled about the choice of airport but this is what happens when you let other people book your trip for you. All I knew was I was going to have the house to myself for a few days and I had planned on using this time to do some serious slacking. I'm talking about bringing laziness to a whole new level. By the time I got up for work that morning she had already been gone for an hour. She had made coffee for us (awesome) which I gladly drank and then headed off to work. That night was pretty uneventful so let's just ignore Day 1 and move on shall we? We shall.

Day 2: Friday morning came and since I'm like wicked smahhhht I had made arrangements to work from home. It was a touch chilly in the house when I woke up so after my morning routine I decided to make a nice fire. Oh man, I love having that fireplace insert. It may be a pain in the balls stacking the wood and then bringing it into the house only to restack it in the corner in shape of a small pyramid, but when you get a nice hot fire rolling along and that fan kicks on and heats the house, you forget all about the bullshit. The cats took turns passing out in front of the fireplace glass and I set about my day. I have a rule when I work from home: I have to be dressed as if I am actually going into the office. Luckily where I work that does not mean a suit and tie but it also doesn't mean that I can get away with sitting in my PJs either. But at least I can sit in a super comfy chair with my feet up.

While I was sitting there I noticed a rather large and evil-looking spider making its way across the rug and headed in my general direction. "Stupid firewood's all full of creepy crawlies I bet," I thought to myself and looked around for something to squash said spider if it came within striking distance (I may not like spiders and their ilk but I'm also quite lazy). Luckily for me, Oliver also spotted the spider and swooped in like a gallant furry knight and gobbled the little bastard up. Huzzah, Sir Oliver! Well played! He sat there on the rug looking pleased with himself while scanning for other little moving snacks. Cut to a half hour later and Good Sir Oliver is barfing up a hairball in the dining room that had a not-so-subtle spider theme. Nasty. Is there a worse sound than a cat horking up a hairball? I'm sure there is but I can't think of one right now. I revoke your knighthood Oliver. You are just a gross cat now.

Day 3: Saturday. Glorious, glorious Saturday. This was a day where I had nothing to do. The calendar was completely open and the possibilities seemingly endless (within reason of course). What to do then? How about sleeping in until 9:30 or so and then pad downstairs to play some video games while drinking really strong coffee? Awesome. Let's go do that right now. I even made myself some breakfast. I made some hash and a couple eggs (sunny-side up thank you very much). Plus, the chill was still in the air so I got to make another satisfying fire. Perfecto. Then, at around 2pm, I got bored. Like, super bored. I didn't want to watch anymore TV or play any games. The interwebs was boring me too. So I took a nap in my chair. With a cat in my lap. I am officially an old woman.

Day 4: Ok, this is getting ridiculous. I have to make the coffee AGAIN? Fuck me. And I have to feed the cats and the fish as well as make sure the snake (yes, the snake. We have a ball python named Charlie. It's ridiculous) has enough water or whatever (cuz I sure as hell am not feeding him his favorite food. I'm far too squeamish for that shit). I bet this means I'm going to have to make breakfast for myself too. Sheesh. I know that sounds like I'm a sexist pig but honestly it's just that I'm a terrible cook. My hash and sunny-side up eggs that I had the day before weren't very good and took a lot more talent than I had anticipated. There is a skill set here that I simply do not possess. I am the cleaner. I clean things. I cannot cook things. Well, not very well anyway. Look out dry cereal in a bowl, here I come (I don't really like milk y'see). The rest of this day was spent avoiding doing laundry. I did use the dishwasher though. That was an event. This is literally the first time in my life that I have ever used one. Sure, I've helped load and unload them in the past but I've never put in the soap and turned the fucker on before. I broke my dishwasher cherry. And at the tender age of 40 too. Hope no one calls me a Cascade whore.

Day 5: Monday. Back to work. The Wiff texted me that her flight was going to be delayed and that she figured she'd be home by 9:45 or so. I had planned on going to bed early and finish my book but I realized that I'd probably just pass out and I'd miss her grand arrival. And most likely she'd just wake my sorry ass up anyway so I just watched Top Gear and waited up for her. Aren't I swell? Of course I am. We've established this already.

And so that was the end of my alone time at ye olde homestead. I have never lived alone so getting a couple days to putter around and think my own thoughts while staring at nothing in particular was nice. I even had a bit of an existential crisis which I may or may not explain in a later post. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. Not to make that a teaser or anything, I just tend to over share sometimes and I have to remind myself that there can be certain boundaries. Fuck, I dunno. I'm just really glad Amy is back home. I missed my lady. I don't even mind that she hogs the covers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Is Not Real

When I'm watching a movie or a TV show I get annoyed when an actor will take me out of the little universe I'm supposed to be buying into for the duration of the show by doing something I find distracting. "Well Mark, what do you mean by that long, border-line run-on sentence", you ask? Lemme 'splain cuz there are several examples (quick aside: when I say "several" I feel like I should have at least 4 examples to warrant the use of the word. If I had 7 examples, then that to me is the perfect use of the word "several". If I had 3, then I would say "a few" obviously. And everyone knows 2 examples is "a couple". This be the rules, people. I feel the terms "many" and "a bunch" are more loosey-goosey and therefore do not warrant further examination).

1. Darting Eyes
  This drives me batty. When an actor is talking to another person and the camera is on their face as they deliver their lines, the actor will make his/her eyes dart back and forth from the other actor's eyes: left, right, left, right, all super fast. The frequency of the eye movement increases with the dramatic weight of the scene. The more intense the actor thinks this performance is, the more those goddamn eyes are gonna be whizzing like a metronome on steroids in their sockets. Cut it out actor-types. We can see you doing that. It makes me think to myself, no matter how engrossed I might be in the story, that "oh yea, this is just a dumb movie and that's the chick from that episode of The Wire." This is where a better blog would have a bunch of examples from YouTube or whatever but I don't. And I don't know how to put one together either.

2. Not Looking at the Road While Driving
  Oh man, this is guaranteed to take me out of the plot and put me right back in my reality (which I'm trying to escape for the love of Pete and you actors are fucking that up for me). Two actors will be sitting in the front of a vehicle and they'll be having a conversation. The one who is driving will deliver their lines while looking directly at the person in the passenger seat. Sometimes they'll even stare at the person while waiting for the dramatic reaction to the lines just spoken. This makes me in the audience say, "Look at the fucking road you asshole!" It basically points out that this whole thing is fake and they are actually on one of those elaborate vehicle rigs where they are just towed around and they actually have zero control over the car. I've noticed that if the scene calls for more than 2 people in the car or someone to be in the backseat, then someone will eventually say "Hey! Watch the road!". Yes, please do. It's distracting.  I think I must commute on the same roads as a lot of aspiring actors or something.

3. Not Locking a Vehicle
  Another one that is rampant but seems to be more so in TV shows than movies. Not sure why. This is when a character will drive up to wherever, get out of the car and walk away without locking it up. Sometimes they'll go so far as to leave the frickin' windows open too. I've even seen where they'll leave a convertible top down. Who does this? No one in the real world (unless you live in some fairy tale land where no one ever does anything illegal to anyone else's property. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that's rare). I live and work in a city and I lock my shit up. I wouldn't even leave my car unlocked in my own driveway or the garage here at work. The times I notice it in TV shows is invariably when the character parks the car, pays no mind to the fact that their in a shitty neighborhood and just leaves the thing wide open. Which brings me to my final example.

4. Finding a Parking Space No Matter What
  I understand that it isn't interesting to have a character circle a block for 20 minutes trying to find a parking space but I get distracted when they're in a big, busy city and not only is there a spot right in front of the building they need to go to but there are usually SEVERAL spaces available. C'mon, that is just super fake. The only time I can remember a character having trouble finding a space to park is when there's valet parking and the character is the "put-upon-loser-type". It's funnier if they can't park their jalopy in front of the hip club with all the kids and their hairdos. Otherwise it appears that it is super easy to find a place to park in downtown New York.

Ok, so that last one doesn't really bother me as much as the others do but I needed to satisfy my definition of "several". I can't seem to think of 3 more examples to get me to the purest form of "several". Any thoughts internet peeps?

Here's my current favorite pop song. I'm sure I'll be totally sick of it by the end of November, but right now I can't stop singing it. And for that, I apologize.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What's for Dessert?

I just made a really bad decision. Lately I've been a bad boy and have not been bringing my lunch in to work. I've just been super lazy about it. The guilt that I feel over the truly unnecessary expenditure of $7+ a day when I should be bringing in food from home is palpable. I have to suppress it and blend it up with the ball of regret and shame that I keep just in the center of my chest. That's the one skill set that I can trace back to my Catholic upbringing: the ability to see exactly what the problem is and yet ignore the issue and hope that it will somehow solve itself. It's how I self-diagnosed myself as being lactose intolerant for awhile as my gall bladder not-so-silently got closer and closer to killing me. I didn't say it was a good skillset.

Yea, so anyway. There is a cafeteria on the top floor of the building where I work. And although it is cheap, it is not a good cafeteria by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it's pretty shitty. The food is marginal to bad and the people who work there are surly and/or disinterested. Also, they continually fuck up the french fries. This is unforgivable. The goddamn french fries are always slightly under done and too greasy. How do you fuck up fries? When I pick up a fry, it shouldn't sag over sadly onto one side and then start to sweat oil. That's nasty. The good news on this front is that the company that currently runs this cafe has been told to hit the bricks by the company I work for. See ya Sodexo. Go eat a bowl of dicks.

Here's why I can't go upstairs to the cafeteria: Sodexo knows that they have lost this contract and are slated to be out of there by Oct. 15 so they have seriously slacked on stocking things to eat and drink. Plus, I can't help thinking that if they were so apathetic and shoddy when they thought they were in like Flynn then what level of quality can one expect from them now that they know the jig is up? I don't want to find out. So I decided to go grab a couple of slices of pizza with the guy I share this office with (pardon me while I dangle that preposition). On the walk over I announce that "I'm gonna get 3 slices!" to which Seth warned "Don't do it man. I did that yesterday and holy shit did I pay the price. I was useless the rest of the day." I chose to ignore this advice. "Feh, what does he know anyway?," I thought to myself. "Nothin', that's what. Plus, lookit the guy, he's all slight and shit. I'm strong like bull and almost as big. This'll be fine." Can you see where this is headed? Of course you can. We all can. All except "in-the-past" Mark. He's forgotten that he is a 40-year-old man who has no exercise regimen to speak of (unless you count getting in and out of a Jetta). Let's see what happens!

I sat down at the tiny table with my 3 glorious slices of pizza and started in. This place makes really good pizza so the first 2 pieces went down easy. By the time I had finished my second piece, Seth was done with his sub. He said "Are you sure you want to eat that one too?", which I of course took as a challenge to my manhood. "Hell yea, I'm gonna eat that one." I said confidently. "No problem." But by this time I was already full and in need of a nap when I took the first bite of that last slice. I have watched quite a few episodes of that show Man Vs. Food and I always put myself in his place when he takes on those crazy-ass food challenges. The conclusion is always the same: No fucking way would I eat all that shit he has in front of him. Not even if I could be sitting directly on a toilet at the time. It just won't happen. I charged through 3/4 of it and then I hit the wall.

I put down the rest of the slice and sat there regretting being dumb. Seth looked at my plate and said, "What, you're not going to eat the crust?" I said that no, I can't. He replied that if I don't eat the entire piece, then I lose. Lose what you ask? If you have to ask then you are not a competitive douche like me. I knew that I cannot lose no matter what. I must win the non-existent prize. This challenge will not go unmet. I stared at the crust of the pizza slice and lemme tell you it looked huge. I sighed, gathered myself and jammed that mofo into my mouth in two bites (my parents would be so proud. Oh wait, I think I have the wrong word there...whatsitcalled? Mortified? Too harsh. Disappointed? Yes! That's the one).

We then immediately walked back to the office and I'll tell ya, that was the worst thing I could have done. I should have just sat there at the table for another 10 minutes or so and let what I just did to myself settle down. By the time we got back to the office I was a wreck. The pizza was just sitting in my gut like a bowling ball. Thank Christ I didn't have any meetings or anything like that to go to because for the next hour I was barely able to function (my boss doesn't read this does he?). I just had to do stuff with folks on the phone so they couldn't see how I was all greasy with pizza sweats. Sorry ladies, I'm spoken for. Ah the Wiff is a lucky lady.

It's been over 4 hours since I ingested that meal and I am just now starting to feel relatively normal again. Lunch shouldn't do that to a person. I hope this new contractor/catering company is better. I will be making more of an effort to bring in lunch but I also know that I'm inherently lazy and will slip from time to time. As long as the new people know how to make a decent batch of french fries I will be happy.