Sunday, August 11, 2013

List: More Terrifying Animals

Tonight I was at a dinner party where the conversation turned to "sea mammals" and their value. As usual, my opinion was not on par with the masses (except for my ideological twin and downstairs neighbor, MC Darnell who, incidentally, also is the only other person who hates horses as much as me). 

* He believes they are the two animals that humans have an excessively unhealthy relationship with and made this excellent collage to illustrate our point.

I outlined my disgust with the Stubenville rape bros of the sea: dolphins, as well as our society's unholy obsession with seals (sure, baby seals have soft eyes but be sure they would hold any one of us captive in an underwater torture chamber if they had their druthers) but I don't think I really made much headway. This conversation reminded me that I had been hoarding the following series of terrifying sea beasts in my blog drafts section for far too long.

What is up with Mother Nature? I mean, really? She's been messing with us since before we even existed. Much like the creators of Saw and the marketing team behind Carrot Top she's always thinking of new and unusual ways to make us dry heave. 

And why is it that the most terrifying and horrific beasts come from the sea? I've mentioned this before but where there's water it's guaranteed that there will be something that can make you pee your pants in terror.  I've already documented my loathing of some Poseidon's more well known offerings but horrifying things just keep creeping in to my radar.

Exhibit A: Giant Salamander.
Holy Mary Mother of God, what the fuck is that??  It doesn't even have eyes! It must just track us by the stench of our fear. Apparently, they can live for 75 years which is 74 years, 365 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes too long.  Why have we not formed some sort of international task force of Jason Bournes to destroy these? I would pay extra taxes for sure to make this a reality. What is Obama doing? Hell, I already pay Michelle Bachmann's salary. This I would do gladly. 

Oh and before you hippies get on my case and start being all, "Well that's a just one kind of salamander, Ronnie. Other salamanders are really cute" let me remind you that they are kin to this:

Gott in Himmel! That thing is going to destroy us all! There's really only one thing to do:

* Kudos to you anonymous Chinese family for doing what I do not have the cojones for. Homeboy in the yellow and blue parka looks ready to get to work.

Promachoteuthis Sulcus:
I think I have been more than vocal about my hatred of all forms of squid from the Colossal Squid all the way down to this jerk.
* "Hello. My only purpose is to terrify you."

Unnamed terrifying sea creature:
Jesus christ, this is like the reverse of when the Manimal discovered the platypus and was endeared by its ability to not only be an amalgam of various other animals,  but also lend itself to being his ultimate party conversation starter: "What is a mammal?" Which, if you are ever unfortunate enough to be lured into his conversational web, usually devolves into him saying something like, "So you're fairly confident, then, that mammals don't lay eggs? Would you bet your life on it? Hmmm?"

This bitch is like a reverse see-through platypus. It's got bits of all the wrong stuff and they're all put together in the worst possible way.

Soft Shell Turtle.
Normally I find turtles to be kind of cute and non-threatening. I usually also like (eating) things with the words "soft shell" in them. However, this guy is the terrifying combo of both of these terms. What is going on with his face?? He's got like zombie red eye photo eyes and what seems to be one head coming out of a larger head/neck. 
Normally I'm a big fan of well developed traps:

* oh, hai there Tom Hardy

but that is ridiculous. This is enough for me to forgive the Manimal for eating turtle soup at a Chinese restaurant 8 years ago.

Giant Isopod:
This thing makes me want to revise my aim to eat shrimp every day of my life. *shudder*
My record is 62 days in a row.

Finally, I don't know what this is but it embodies the reason I get nervous swimming in the ocean.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rave: Texts

If you know about my fixation on karaoke, 90210 and Ray Pruit you will understand why this text exchange with my BFF BMoney is the best thing that ever happened.

I think I have peaked.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Resolution

It is 2013 and I have reached new depths of lameness. For example, right now I am listening to Ne-yo circa 2008 and eating fistfuls of baklava. Needless to say, I am whale-y and gross. So, like anyone who has sunk to the point where they habitually wear an outfit the Manimal has deemed "failure wear" and who frequently eats Pannettone more than once a day, I have to change things up. I need an inspiration, someone I can look up to who's not John Candy. All good success stories have an older role model guiding and shaping them towards betterment until they force life to just tap out in awe of their brilliance. So, I started thinking: who will be my Summer Resolution icon? Who's life and belief system will I begin to emulate religiously in order to get out of my funk? 
At first I was thinking L'il Wayne:
* And I can already do a French Inhale too. Score!
Pros: He's skinny, and I already partake in the purple drank
Cons: Face tattoos seem painful. And someone already took my first choice 

*An aside: L'il Wayne should not be confused with L'il Albert, the namesake of one of my favorite useless experiments back in the glory days when we could experiment on real human babies.

* John B. Watson "ran out of time" at the end and so L'il Albert was never "desensitized". Oops!

 Then I thought about someone who is also skinny, but whose essence I admire and would not be a stretch to adhere to. 

“My biggest nightmare would be if the kids ever came up to me and said ‘Dad, I’m a vegetarian.’ Then I would sit them on the fence and electrocute them.”

Gordon Ramsay!
Pros: He eats good food, he has a net worth of $50 million for (essentially) cursing, he acts like me in private, but in public! I could be more free!
Cons: Do you see those face crevices? No me gusta. Also, sometimes yelling that hard makes me get that little glob of blood in my eyeball and that's not really so attractive in a lady.
I was starting to get discouraged again when it suddenly dawned on me: I couldn't use anyone I actually resembled because then I'd soon be back to square one. For example, I already yell out gangsta rap and drink prescription grade cough syrup mixed with Sprite. How would following L'il Wayne really elicit any meaningful change? Sure, maybe I could do some jail time but I already have a game plan worked out for that and I don't want to use it up prematurely on a Summer Resolution. 
Then it dawned on me. Who only eats food purer than the driven snow? Who would rather make out with Stevie Janowski than drink booze, let alone downing several To Go cups full of red wine on a Tuesday night? Who is really skinny and already publishes a regular missive devoted to advising people on how to live like her? That's right: Gwyneth Paltrow.  

Gwyneth Kate Paltrow Martin is the daughter of well-to-do parents, and an actress who won an  Best Actress Oscar in 1998 for her forgettable role in Shakespeare in Love.
Pop quiz!
Question: Which of the following films came out in 1998 and  would have deserved an Oscar more than our Gwynnie?
1) An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island
2) Apt Pupil (a mix of Nazis and Rear Window that I recall Manimal hilariously thought was called Apartment Pupil at the time)
3) The Big Lebowski (!)
4) You've Got Mail
Answer: All of them.
Of late, she has garnered more attention for her charmingly named lifestyle blog: GOOP. People really seem to respond badly to this blog and GP's earnest recs for living the good life. Unlike my girl and convicted felon Martha Stewart who, I think we can all agree, is a staunch bitch and knows her way around a 4 piece, Gwyneth seems a bit feckless. 
But, I must push all of that out of my mind and get to the task at hand. For all her failings, Gwyneth does embody the exact opposite of myself, and that is what I must follow. She did date Brad Pitt in his prime and talk him into copying her hairstyle after all.

Even if she does claim to be "sensitive to dairy, gluten, wheat, corn and oats" I will endeavor to take from her what I can, even though I believe "food sensitivities" are complete bullshit and invented by people who don't want to admit to disordered eating. No matter,  if she tells me to eat chia seed pudding, dammit I will eat chia seed pudding. Maybe I'll even throw a little unsweetened almond milk in there for good measure. 
And so, to jump head first into this challenge and prepare for September 1st when I emerge from a cheetos crusted cocoon and begin my metamorphosis into a lithe and bendy butterfly, I am going to ruminate on some of Ms.Paltrow's random thoughts:

"I'd rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin."
Aw shit, this lady is crazy. Crack+cheese in a can= a party.

"When I pass a flowering zucchini plant in a garden, my heart skips a beat."
Me too!

"I don't really have drunk friends. My friends are kind of adult..."

"I've found that the best hangover remedy can be a hot and cold spa treatment. The original would be the traditional Turkish Hamman, but you can find this kind of treatment at spas all over the world."
Interesting. My hangover cure usually goes as follows:


Repeat as necessary until you no longer feel like this:

I've heard it helps to write your goals and resolutions down. So with my new icon's help, I will plan my first baby step.

1. Plan out my meals and buy stuff from the supermarket beforehand.
You don't want to get caught out and then end up eating Pad Thai out of a styrofoam container. As Gwynnie so sagely notes: 
She's right, that is total nightmare fuel.

I'll check back with you periodically to make new baby steps and keep you updated on my progress towards becoming a lithe blonde WASP goddess. Hopefully, I'll go from this:

To this:

In no time!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rant: Stop the world, I want to get off.

Today, I saw something that indicated that, Mayans aside, we as a whole are certainly spiraling towards our own destruction. I saw this:

* In case you were wondering, that phallic orange thing in the background is their carrot rocket ship.

Yes, that is a children's series dubbed "Paleo Pals". WTF, Life?!?

Look, I know I'm not the best at tolerating other people. And I know I suffer from crippling misophonia that makes me visualize tearing off the faces of those audibly chewing gum and then spitting their bloody parts all over the subway car while laughing maniacally.
* I am trying to get my insurance to pay for this.

I realize that I am judgey and ill tempered but it seems as though this book was created precisely to whip me into a rage finally great enough to make the papers the next day.

Paleo Pals? Come. On. For the uninitiated, "Paleo" refers to the idea of eating as people might have during the Paleolithic era—an era that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. Basically, you can only eat things that a caveman may have had access to. Every fricken person I know is fricken Paleo. Manimal is Paleo except for Shake Shack, my parents are Paleo, many of my lamer friends are Paleo. And, like any other fad, I have to hear about it all the time. Hell, I am almost Paleo but that's because wheat makes me toot like a French Horn and I work in a open cube farm so I would risk severe judgement and ostracizing. 

But, it's not just having to endure endless discussions of poundage lost and energy levels, what really grinds my gears is that most people just eat fake Paleo versions of regular stuff. Cavemen did not whip up "Paleo brownies" for example. And I would wager that Paleolithic men (and more modern Paleo-esque societies) were way too badass to fuck with almond milk of any variety.

Also, how do we know that cavemen did not have access to stuff that would be non-Paleo now? Just as the Dark Ages removed all trace of progress, perhaps there was an unknown event that erased all evidence of cavemen having weird campfire s'mores and fried bugs or whatnot. But really, the worst thing about Paleo Pals is that people are forcing their kids to be Paleo. That's not OK! I'm not saying kids should get to eat a tub of frosting using jellybeans as their cutlery, and I don't think there's ever a true reason to eat Lunchables, but let's be reasonable.

Anyway, the plot of Paleo Pals: Jimmy and the Carrot Rocket Ship goes something like this:

Piper, Phoenix and Parker are not ordinary children; they are super heroes that travel the land helping other children learn about living the healthiest, most exciting, most super lives possible. They are known as The Paleo Pals, and this is a story about how they help out Jimmy, a little boy who is not sure if eating paleo food is even one tiny bit exciting or super. Climb into the carrot rocket ship, travel to brilliant green farms, and live Jimmy’s exciting adventure with Piper, Phoenix and Parker: The Paleo Pals!

Of course they're named Piper, Phoenix and Parker. Their androgynous names allow them not to offend anyone down at the co-op. You know what, after reading this, I had to feel sorry for Jimmy who was simply pushing back on the whole family turning Paleo. At one point, faced with his dinner, Jimmy is less than enthused and yells, "I don't CARE about your oopity-goopity food! And I don't care about being healthy. I guess I'm just gonna starve! I'm going to bed!" At this point I was really pulling for Jimmy. Stand your ground, B. He reminded me of young me, except that he didn't run to his room and take angry hits from a homemade bong (relax folks, I didn't inhale) and then spend hours making retarded mix tapes by taping songs off the radio.

Anyway, when the Paleo Pals learn about Jimmy, they whisk him off in the Weiner Carrot ship and bring him to a farmer's marker (i know) where he selects a "giant purple cabbage"to eat.

* A bunch of kale and some $11 pickles, please.

Another stop: the evil, vaguely Victorian, food processing plant which spews toxic black fumes into the air and is surrounded by dead and dying earth. The Paleo Pals also take Jimmy to a playground where as one Amazon reviewer sagely notes, "kids who don't eat "paleo" are depicted as lethargic, sick, sad, unable to do well at anything, and are even aggressive and angry while those who do eat "paleo" are kind, energetic, successful, and happy as if eating paleo is the only factor that makes a child nice or not; successful or not."

What sort of stupid busy-parent shaming kind of statement is this? I mean, I ate Elios and Sara Lee chocolate pound cake almost every day and I turned out fine. In fact, right now I'm off to beat a man's head in with a rock because he was sucking a hard candy in an irritating manner. So, who needs you anyway, Paleo Pals?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

List: Top Christmas Films

Who doesn't like Christmas? Oh, right, quite a few people.

I am one of the world's most secular individuals. It is now family lore that when I was on Double Dare (I know! So awesome!) in 1992 I answered "A band" in response to the question: "What is Genesis?" But I still love the birth of baby Jesus, nonetheless.

If you know of another holiday which begins a full two months before the actual date of said holiday and expects, nay demands, that you drink egg nog (alcoholic heavy cream!), open gifts, and then pass out on the sofa after ingesting a year's worth of carbohydrates then you may protest. Otherwise, maybe you should just get down with the 'nog and zip your pie hole.

A friggen egg nog fountain! I want to go to there.

Things that are awesome about Christmas:
- Advent calendars.
- The fact that the Manimal, JoSi and I try to go to Rolf's and eat an entire suckling pig every year.
- Going on a Lohan holiday
- Plum pudding with BRANDY BUTTER. It's butter that gets you twisted. I will personally submit anyone who opposes plum pudding.
- People that go overboard with their christmas lights. Also, the person below who is my decorating hero.

The best thing about Christmas, though, is the movies. Now that I live in the Northern Hemisphere, I finally "get" holiday movies. What else are you going to do to convince yourself that staying inside because it's negative 29 degrees outside is fun? Growing up in Australia, I would have to spray fake snow in the windows and turn up the AC so I could enjoy my fillums. That's for the birds, yo!

But I'm not talking abut holiday themed garbage like Jingle All The Way (excepting, of course, the always welcomed inclusion of Sinbad) or the terrifying Michael Keaton abomination that is Jack Frost (complete with Hanson tie in video). No, I'm talking about the movies that make you glad to be alive during Noel. Without further preamble, allow me to regale you with my list of top Christmas movies for your viewing pleasure this holiday season:

1: Home Alone 1 and 2

Dedicated readers will know of my obsession with Home Alone. One Christmas, I wrote an ode to cultural touchstone and all around BAMF Roberts Blossom aka Old Man Marley (RIP).

What's not to like about the Home Alone franchise? It has holiday cheer, a house in the Chicago suburbs which dictated how I thought all American suburbs looked, and people getting hurt frequently. Plus, it's made by the auteur of all auteurs John Hughes and even has a cameo by my spirit animal, John Candy.

My hero: Fuller!

2. The Ref
Let's be honest here, I have been in a near-constant love affair with the 90s since I was in the 90s. This film, about a burglary gone wrong and the resultant insanity is vintage 90s gold. Its title refers to the job unfortunate cat burglar Denis Leary (at the height of his "look at me! I'm an angry guy! I like to scream and smoke cigarettes! Arrghhhdgdhdhhfh!!") has to play when he takes a family hostage on Christmas Eve. Of course, because it's set during the holidays, the family whose house he hides in is made up of the most annoying people known to man. Hilarity, naturally, ensues.
Bonus: The Ref also stars Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis (swoon!).

This Scandinavian feast and accompanying speech always reminds me of something my mum would do. She's always trying to make something "interesting" for special occasions rather than sticking with the classics. Inevitably we have to hear a sweet, but long winded, explanation about Tibetan Yak dip when we are all really just waiting for my stepdad to uncork his homemade honey mead from the shed. After that, we eat party pies until halfway through the bottle when we all spontaneously go blind and pass out.

Here you go - enjoy!

3. Die Hard 1 and 2:
My favorite thing about Die Hard 2 is the scene where we are introduced to Colonel Stuart because it is a literal representation of Manimal's morning routine:

*Sadly, I'm not joking.

But Die Hard 1 is king. Nothing says Christmas like watching Bruce Willis stomp all over Hans Gruber in a soiled wife beater. Nothing. It's also got Carl frickin' Winslow as the sidekick cop. This is what the baby Jesus watches on the couch when he's full of roast potatoes and brandy butter. Yipeekiyay motherfucker!

4. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Oh, man. This is the ultimate holiday (OK, I know it's technically about Thanksgiving but whatever) movie because it's sappy and funny at the same time. It also has Steve Martin basically playing me, and John Candy (again!) as the Manimal-esque shower curtain ring salesman with the proverbial heart of gold, Del Griffith. The scene below is an uncannily accurate depiction of what happens to me if I don't get first shower.

*Disturbingly, this clip resides in an area of YouTube that is frequented by people searching for "hairy daddies". Steve Martin? Really?

Watching this movie was also when I first learned one of my all time favorite phrases, "My dogs are barking",  when Del takes his shoes off in a crowded plane. Shortly after, I also realized why those shoes are called Hush Puppies. Genius! Me and my brother, Dr. Poobelle, also say this absurdly often:

"I'm the real article."

The resolution of Trains, Planes and Automobiles is also on my list of embarrassing things that make me cry. I won't spoil it, but Del Griffith is a complicated fellow. I'd rather play Pick Up Sticks with my butt cheeks than not watch this movie at Yuletide.

So there you have it. I suppose you could spend your time watching Garfield: The Movie or  It's a Wonderful Life but really aren't the holidays about not flagellating yourself for being savagely submitted by another year of disappointment, and rather about living vicariously through a man beating seven types of snot out of a German villain? I think that's WJWD.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Travel Tips: Blighty! Part 1

Happy New Year, y'all!

What's damp, grey and perpetually drunk? No, not my gran - it's England!

The Manimal and I were fortunate enough to celebrate the nuevo ano across the pond and found it to be delightful. We laid waste to this fine land (attached to a finer land) and, of course, are back with a bevvy of travel tips for all of you Anglophiles.

First up: a quick tangent.
To get to England I had the pleasure of traveling with what some people bafflingly consider to be the scourge of the skies: Delta "airlines". What I imagined to be a quick hop, skip and jump from NYC to Detroit (?) to Paris ended up being somewhat of a Kafkaesque adventure filled with rage, anarchy, and a Best Western.

It all began as I was ensconced in the plane's cabin. Thank goodness I had requested to be seated behind a drunk lady and across from a man clad in triple stripes who had stripped down to bare feet already. "Good for you, sir!" I thought to myself, "Why not treat this sealed metal flying machine as your own personal rumpus room?" Just because I have strict rules about what is acceptable in the air doesn't mean that everyone else should hold themselves to the same rigid standards. I mean, if you want to put your hands down your sweat pants and rummage around like the guy in seat 4G, by all means go ahead. And, actually, I had never thought of putting my feet all the way on top of the seat in front of me, annoying "leggings 'n Uggs girl" in 5C - brava! You've made me rethink my ideas on comfort on a few different levels. And why not watch a movie on your laptop without headphones, guy behind me? I hadn't yet seen the latest Michael Bay offering, so thank you for being the one to make that happen. Do you mind turning it up a little?

*Arrghhhghhh!! I'm getting there!

The captain announced that we were simply "changing a wheel" and would be on our merry way in approximately ten minutes. Three hours, 2 wheels and a passenger rebellion later, we were on our way to Detroit. Of course, because of the delay, we had all missed our connections and would be fortunate enough to spend the whole night there! Yessss!

*Yay! Motor City!

At the airport, the delightful lady at the counter gave me two meal vouchers valued at the princely sum of 6 dollars for breakfast and dinner and directions to a bus terminal where I could board conveyance to the evening's lodgings. I made friends with the other Delta refugees in that quick and intense way that one does when in an uncertain, potentially dangerous situation like those hostages of Somalian pirates, or shoppers at the Brooklyn Target.

To this day (and for eternity) I would probably kill for Ginny, the she-mulleted midwestern lady who was carrying a large loaf of homemade bread and a "genuine New York cheesecake" in the seat next to me. I won't go into detail, but that night Ginny taught me about life, love, true elegance, and myself, dammit. She also managed to categorically disprove BBD's assertion that one should "never trust a big butt and a smile."

*They clearly haven't been to the Midwest

Anyway,  Ginny, I and the others piled into the bus and after a few short minutes on a ring road, pulled in to the Detroit Best Western.

* It looked just like the Sun Motel from Trains, Planes and Automobiles...

Now, many people know about my fascination with staying at murder motels. I just love them. I love the way the doors are on the outside, a mere credit card jimmy separating you and your would be rapist. I love the neon, beckoning like some sort of white trash Star of Bethlehem. I love making up stories about the miscellaneous holes in the walls and breathing in the lingering stale cigarette smells. But, readers, this was an actual scary, murder motel on an isolated strip of highway in freaking Romulus, Michigan. No charm, all menace. I started fervently hoping that I would not be forced to suckle from a she-wolf in order to survive like the town's namesake.

Everyone on the bus started tittering nervously when we pulled in.
Upon check in, some lady took the piece of crumpled paper I thrust at her and gave me a room key without asking for any identification or making eye contact. "Huzzah!" I thought to myself,  "Maybe this will be the day I get to kill a man just to watch him die in my seedy motel room!" It is one of the things on my bucket list after all. However, it seemed all of the available drifters had already checked in, so I proceeded directly to my room. On the way I was pleased to note that in lieu of sanitary accommodations, the Romulus Best Western had at least shelled out for a partially carpeted indoor swimming pool:

And a free tanning salon. Great! Maybe I could work on my cancer as a diversion. 

As Delta had helpfully transported my luggage to unknown parts, I fashioned a makeshift barricade with the only thing available to me, and settled in.

As I lay shivering in bed in all of my clothes and holding my purse, I entertained myself by reading the reviews of the Best Western on Some highlights:

"Hands down, this is the worst American hotel I've ever stayed at. Last night, as we were going to bed in room 1053, we noticed several insects crawling around the sheets. Several were already gorged with blood" 
[At least they got something to eat. My $6 meal vouchers were not enough to get anything at the restaurant.]

"The floor (although carpeted) was so sticky that my socks made a noise when I walked."
[An accurate description. Unfortunately, I did not have socks.]

"The most awful thing about this motel is that they broadcast adult programs to every room. My kids were trying to find Cartoon network on the TV but saw a lady doing a BJ for a guy."
[I rarely say this but LOL!]

My night's repose was intermittently disturbed by the sounds of what appeared to be a rape and murder in an adjacent room. It's not often that one gets to hear two felonies at once! As dawn broke over the car rental lot, I stared out the cracked window and realized that it was a white christmas, and that I had made it out alive.

* It was a Christmas miracle!

So I boarded the shuttle bus, spent my vouchers on one large "coffee" at the airport and vowed never to fly on Delta again. 

On to England! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rave: Friends

If you read this blog on the regular, you will know already that I'm pretty finnicky. I'm like an old farmhouse cat perched on a windowsill, swiping angrily at people's nether regions as they try to take a quiet whizz in an outhouse bathroom (What?! This may, or may not, have happened to me recently).

But every once in while, once in a blue moon, someone comes along and does something that makes you believe that they really care. Something that touches the deepest regions of your cold, dead heart. This happened to me today, readers. 

My wonderful coworker got me a gift because, in her words, "When I saw it, it just spoke of you. It was made for you and expresses your essence to the world." Well, she was right. Behold, my essence in a button:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rant: Bangs

I just got bangs. I think I look like Brenda Walsh:

* Yowser!

But the Manimal keeps calling me "Crom". 
Some googling alerted me to the fact that this may not be some cute nickname but rather an allusion to the fact that I look like an extra from Conan the Barbarian:

Well, I am not in the Cult of Doom, is that clear?! If anything I am one step closer to being Dylan McKay's obsession! Take that, Manimal!

Bucket List: Make Your Own Hell (Limit Three Toppings)

Note: If you're new to this particular feature (ie. my friend Big D and I's project to make a reverse bucket list of all of my past occupations so he can reverse-replicate my life) I suggest you catch up here, hereand here. Oh, and here.

Midtown Deli
* This is the actual deli where I worked. Yikes!

After my failed dalliance in the arts, I went back to my roots: food service. I saw an ad in the paper for someone who "speaks English and has flexible hours" or something to that effect. Since I could manage both of those things, I took a chance and went to the address on 46th Street. It turned out that it was an interview to work at a fast-paced Deli. For those of you not in the know, no-one eats real lunches in New York City during the week. Most people just sprint into a cavernous deli where they either pick out some pre-made panninis with names very loosely linked to their fillings (like the Wild West Santa Fe Peyote Fiesta Chicken Salad or the Lady Liberty Ellis Island Immigrant Pastrami Playground) or, if they're feeling feisty, tackle the Make Your Own Salad Bar where, if you take more than three nanoseconds to order, they will spit in your face.

We then take our $11 sandwich/salad back to work where we choke it down at our desk before resuming work. U!S!A!

Anyway, I went in and interviewed with a surly Irish woman named Mary. She asked me two questions: "Can you be here by 7am?" and "Are you illegal?" when I answered "Yes" to both of them, she offered me the job. Things were looking up! She gave me a soiled purple bow tie and told me to report back the following morning.

After my first day on the job I realized that Mary actually means "Satan" in Irish. I also realized why being an under-the-table employee was an asset: everyone there was deathly afraid of being reported. Mary ruled over her motley crew of illegals with an iron fist. She only allowed us to go the bathroom once per shift, and only with her begrudging permission. She also smoked incessantly in the kitchen, ashing in the "chili" with the "chef" who was a terrifying ogre of a man. (I apologize for the abundance of quotation marks, but until the English language gets its shit together and agrees upon punctuation for sarcasm, that's all I got. As an aside, you should probably read about my  heroes in this field Henry Denham and Alcanter de Brahm.)

As I was a native English speaker I managed to get the relatively "cushy" job of telephone delivery order taker. In other words, I was required to speak to pissed off secretaries and take hundreds of orders, each with more substitutions than a hockey match. The opportunity to make an error, and suffer a verbal keelhauling from Mary, was high considering I was fielding approximately a call a minute. Readers, this job marked the beginning of my deep seated mistrust of human beings. Oh, the things I saw! I felt like I had been sent undercover to expose the seedy side of deli work, like I was the Upton Sinclair of sandwich making. People regularly abused us with no shame. Stupid PR "darlings" in cut-price designer duds looked down on us as we scurried to fetch their spinach salads with dressing on the side. Douchebag tourists wasted our time with their inane questions, and by searching for their wallets in backpacks-worn-on-their-fronts. Sallow, portly men in suits avoided eye contact and barked orders for egg white omelets while questioning their life decisions.

All the while, the noble serfs of the deli proved themselves to be better human beings than any of these supposedly "high achievers", toiling and striving every day, our sad little bow ties wilting from the heat of the panini press. Sometimes Samir would risk Mary's ire and "accidentally" make too much of a smoothie. On these glorious days he would deliver the leftovers to us in tiny salad dressing containers so our illicit libation could be downed quickly and without a trace. Sometimes I think back to Samir and the others, their paper hats like flimsy crowns, and hope they eventually made it to a greater glory like private catering, or breakdancing in the subway.

Deli work just wasn't my thing. After I kind of peed my pants one time when Mary screamed at me I left, searching for my next travail. As the brisk city air dried Mary's spittle on my cheeks I pressed on, undaunted and unsubmitted, the memory of my deli time remaining indelibly stained on my psyche, like a picked beet dropped on a silk tie.

Next up: Nepotism and label making in Florida and the seamy underbelly of the hotel industry.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bucket List Pt 3: Pain, Nudity and a Capuchin monkey

Note: If you're new to this particular feature (ie. my friend Big D and I's project to make a reverse bucket list of all of my past occupations so he can reverse-replicate my life) I suggest you catch up here, here, and here.

I had begun the hunt for my first under the table job. Pre 9-11 , New York wasn't the judgey, "everything's above board, nothing to see here, move along" place it is now. Today, I feel bad for the up 'n coming illegals who have to battle with the Internet and databases which will bust them in an instant. I still had the ability to walk into various shady operations and try out my luck. Aside from being illegal, I had the added disadvantage of having approximately no skills (unless you count my fruit picking prowess or my mini donut frying talents). As you can imagine, this limited the job pool quite substantially.

Artist's Model
The first job I found involved nudity, pain and a Capuchin monkey.

The Manimal has many hidden talents (including but not limited to: lancing boils, creating snake oil type "elixirs", flying into rages, staring, building model airplanes and facial hair landscaping) but his greatest skill is, in fact, painting. Here, check it out:

* That ain't no photograph.

When we met, Manimal was honing his craft at art school, his gold chain glinting erroneously amongst all the wallet chains. One day I was waiting for him to finish cleaning up his brushes after a class when I saw the saggy old man who had just been posing in the raw receiving a crumpled wad of Benjamins from the teacher.

I have had many bad ideas in my lifetime, like the time I pushed my brother down the stairs in his stroller, or when I convinced the special needs girl in high school that a) I was invisible and b) that I communicated with Jonathan Brandis on my "hand fax"(hey, it was the 90s!). However, deciding to make a living as a nude artists' model when I was, in fact, a highly repressed Australian illegal immigrant with crippling insecurities may top the list.

* Stop judging me, Brandis.

I arrived for my "audition" in a dark basement on Spring Street unsure of what was coming. Varied and sundry other "models" loitered about butt nekkid, encompassing the full spectrum of human lunacy. In terrifying addition, there were about 30 people with easels and art materials who were about to render, in great detail, the nooks and crannies of my shame. A bell rang and we all had to disrobe and begin a grueling series of 5 minute poses. It was like nude voguing. Being New York City the place where the best of everything (dog walkers, insane people, hipsters) come to claim their place at the top, these models were serious. All of the participants wanted to be the best and most interesting nude. One dude seemed to be doing some sort of x-rated downward dog. Another woman was splayed out on the floor, legs akimbo.

"Holy crap," I thought as I basically did variations on a contrapposto in an attempt to hide my bits as best as I could. I was channeling Botticelli's Birth of Venus but I looked more like someone unfortunate caught in the background of a domestic raid on C.O.P.S. I wish I could say that after finding my inner goddess I rose phoenix-like and performed pose after pose, culminating in a spirited slow clap from my inspired audience.

* This was not me

Sadly, instead I slinked off stage and awkwardly put on my clothes in a dirty corner. It was terrible. You know when you go to hastily put on your clothes in a locker room so you don't moon people and then you fall over while putting on your socks, or get your legs twisted in your pants? I was doing all of those things but in front of a room of clothed people. I was also distracted by my concerns about being attacked by a Capuchin monkey. It had been perched on one man's shoulder while we were modeling and Manimal had told me it had viciously attacked him one time simply because he was wearing a hood. I did not want to be the victim of a Travis the Chimp situation. 

Thankfully, I made it past the irate simian by avoiding eye contact.  Then the witchy lady who ran the artist's group bid me adieu, gave me $30 and sent me back out on to the grey streets of Manhattan, still unemployed.