Monday, February 28, 2005

Stay Tuned

Let me begin this post by apologizing. I got a haircut this weekend and it seems to have sucked the creative juices out of me (somehow I feel like I should add..."if you know what I mean" that). The saddest part is that I don't have all that much hair, so there couldn't possibly have been a lot of creativity there to begin with - though that's pretty obvious to anyone who reads this blog. The part about creativity, I mean, not the part about hair. Well, the hair part is pretty obvious, too, if you look at any of the pictures of myself that I've posted...but I digress. What I'm trying to say is bear with me through today's post and I promise I'll try to do better later this week. So with that in mind, here's the best I could do today.

Did you ever wish you could be like a talk show host and run a "best of" when you don't feel like working? Well, that's what I'm going to do this week. When people come to my office to discuss an issue, I'll tell them about one of my more stellar accomplishments from the past. When they ask me for something, I'll remind them about a time that helped someone else, and how grateful that person was for my assistance. When my director asks me for an update on my projects, we'll reminisce about one of the ones I finished last year. I'll end all of my conversations by saying "You've been watching 'The Best of Joe.' Stay tuned next week for all new episodes."

Of course, it hasn't been all fun and games. There were some embarrassing moments, too - like the time I got caught photocopying my ass - but I think I'll save those for the blooper reel on Friday.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Yankees Sign Invisible Player

TAMPA, Fla -- After failing in their attempt to sign every available superstar free agent, the New York Yankees today announced the signing of Casper Van Buren, Major League Baseball's first invisible player. In a brief press release, the Yankees said "We feel that Casper will give us the critical edge that was missing last year. When he's not wearing a uniform, nobody will know where he is and we plan to take advantage of that." One plan has the Yankees using Van Buren as a spy in the opposing clubhouse. Another calls for him to be used as a pinch runner since nobody will be able to tell when he steals a base.

Clubhouse reaction to Casper was mixed. "A players color - or lack of color in this case - makes no difference. It's what he does on the field that counts," said team captain Derek Jeter. Others were less supportive. "I'm not sure I want to shower with him." said one player who asked not to be identified, "He could be checking me out and I'd never even know it."

Tino Martinez gives Casper a pat on the head as he emerges from the dugout for his first practice with the team

As Van Buren awaits his turn in the batting cage, Jason Giambi estimates the size of Casper's "bat"

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Creative Panhandling

Overheard on the subway tonight:

Homeless man: "I bet you don't want to give me any money because you think I spent all my money on drugs and alcohol."

Subway Rider: "Something like that."

Homeless man: "Well, you're right. I did spend all of my money on drugs and alcohol. But I want you to know that I've learned my lesson and I'm not gonna do that any more. Now I'm asking for a chance to spend your money on drugs and alcohol."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

You Can't Make It Up

While I try to write the occasional funny story, there are times when I just can't compete with reality. For example...

The good folks over at DYKEdolls have created the world's first series of lesbian action figures. For just $65 each, the Bobbie Doll comes "ready to play" with a few handy accessories. For the cost conscious, the dolls are available for $49.95 each, leaving you free to purchase only the specific add-ons you want.

At least now I know what to get my friends and family for their birthday's this year.

Now that I think about it, the most disappointing part of all of this is that these dolls have a better time on Saturday nights than I do.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Chinese New Year Parade

I was in San Francisco this weekend, so I took in the Chinese New Year parade. Apparently, it's the year of the rooster, so jokes about chicken choking were all the rage - at least amongst the drunken group next to me. Everyone cheered as the floats, marching bands, and color guards passed before us in Union Square. We applauded the groups of adorable children that stopped to dance in front of the reviewing stand, and the dragons that were spread liberally throughout the parade.

A few minutes into the parade, the mayor rode down the street waving to his constituents from the back of a vintage automobile. The crowd lept to its feet as he stood and tossed red envelopes into their eager hands. As his car neared the place where I stood, shots rang out. Thinking quickly, I shoved the spectators aside and jumped over the police barrier catching my pants on a hook and tearing them off in the process. Undaunted, I continued across the street to save the mayor. A swarm of security officers began to converge on me. Apparently, they either hadn't heard the shots or they were part of a vast conspiracy to assassinate the mayor. I knew that there was no time to think. They tried to tackle me, but I was too determined for them. One officer grabbed me, but I pulled away leaving him holding the tattered remnants of my shirt. Without regard for my safety, I dove across the car, tackled the mayor, threw him to the ground, and laid on top of him, shielding him with my body.

Of course, by now you've probably seen the endless replays on the news or read the "Naked Man Attacks SF Mayor" headlines that are splashed across seemingly every newspaper in America. No matter what the jury says, I really did believe that the firecrackers they set off in front of the dragon was gunfire.

Anyway, my attorney thinks that with good behavior, I should be out of here within a year. Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Fitness Freaks

For the second morning in a row, I was awakened by a pre-dawn phone call from a person thinking that I'd be awake because I'd "still be on New York time." Yesterday, it was my boss. He called at 5:45 a.m. and said, "Well, it's 8:45 'your time', so I thought you'd be up and raring to go." My first thought was that I'm never "raring to go" at 8:45 a.m. even when I'm in NY. I said, "If that's the way we're thinking, don't be surprised if you come to my office at 8:00 p.m.'my time' to find me sitting at my desk in my underwear eating microwave Spaghetti O's since that's what I'd be doing at that time in NY."

This morning, I was awakened at 6:03 a.m. I remember that because when the phone rang, I said "Who the f*** is calling me at 6:03?" See? That's just a little trick I do to help with my memory. Today, it was a friend calling to wake me up so that I wouldn't miss the sunrise. I patiently explained that I'm on the west coast, and that the sun rises in the east, so it's the sunset that I'll want to see, not the sunrise. Since I was up anyway, I decided to go for a jog.

Now I'm not the brightest person in the world when it comes to directions (actually, I could say that about most things). I'll go out for a jog, see a familiar sight, and head for it like a homing pigeon. This morning was no exception. I started jogging towards a Starbucks that I thought was in the general direction I wanted to go. About a mile later, I realized that it was the wrong Starbucks and that I was going the opposite direction from where I wanted to be. Who knew that there would be more than one Starbucks in SF? Amazing.

Eventually, I made my way down to the Embarcadero (or the Embarco as some people call it....okay, just one person calls it that), and began to run towards Fisherman's Warf. Along the way, I noticed that everybody in SF seems to be a friggin' triathlete. They're so fit, trim, and healthy looking that it's sickening. More to the point, they look thrilled to be out exercising in the pre-dawn hours. This is markedly different from NY in that a workout there often consists of walking up the escalator rather than riding it up. To put it a different way, I'd estimate that I'm just below average in terms of being in shape, but these people make me look like Star Jones after an eating binge.

As I ran along, I had visions of getting mugged by a fitness gang. They'd jog up next to me wearing black lycra bodysuits and steal my wallet. I'd chase them, but they'd tease me by running just fast enough that I couldn't catch them. Eventually, I'd pass out, at which point they'd take my watch and anything else of value from me and leave me laying naked on the sidewalk where my body fat (among other things) would be pointed at and mocked by the people jogging by.

Now I do run a few times each week in NY, but the ground is relatively level there. Here, the hills take a lot out of you and as I got closer to my finish line, my legs were slowly turning to rubber. At one point I looked to my left and saw a series of grassy knolls and found myself hoping that a gunman would emerge and put my out of my misery.

Finally, I got to Fisherman's Warf, and I stopped to catch my breath. I was feeling pretty pathetic and out of shape, when I saw a guy run up and appear to collapse on the grass. I thought to myself "Wow, he's got it worse than me. At least I remained upright." Then the guy did about 50 pushups before getting up and running again. I knew at that point that I should just pack it in for the day, so I started to walk back to the hotel.

Along the way, I saw a marker that was placed in the ground. It was a black and white striped pole and around the base, there were bronze plaques laid out reading "Once there were plenty, now there are none." For the rest of my journey back to the hotel, I thought about how nice it was of the city to erect a monument to my dating life.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Busy, Busy, Busy

The last few days have been pretty hectic, so I haven't had a lot of time to write. Of course, this leaves me with quite the ethical quandary. On the one hand, I should be working. On the other hand, I don't want to disappoint my loyal reader.

Fortunately, there is an endless supply of content on Blogger, so all I need to do is click the 'next blog' button and cut and paste someone else's material. The odds of anyone reading this are pretty slim, and the odds of them knowing I'm guilty of plagiarism are even slimmer, so without further ado, here's today's entry.

Mi perrito es enfermo. Me hace tan triste que grité toda la noche. No quisiera que Chunks fueran enfermos. Quisiera que él fuera feliz otra vez de modo que poder jugar en el parque y funcionar en la sol juntos. Deseo compartir los tazones de fuente de alimento de perro con él. Chunks son mi perro.

See? Nobody will ever know the difference...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I Left My...

I'm in San Francisco this week on a business trip. Apparently, at some point Tony Bennet left his heart here, so I spent last night looking for it. He's pretty rich and I'm sure he regrets not having his heart from time to time, so I'm hoping that there's a reward for returning it to him. Anyway, I had no luck finding it but I did get some promising leads so I'll be at it again tonight.

Now I like this city a lot, but I don't know that I love it enough to leave my heart here. Besides, my heart already belongs to someone else. I'll wait a second while you all either sigh and think about how sweet and romantic that sentiment is, or vomit thinking about how nauseating it is....

Okay, your second is up? Anyway, after a lot of thought, I've decided that I'm going to leave my appendix in San Francisco. It doesn't make for a great song, but that's as much of a commitment as I'm willing to make at the moment.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine's Day

I was doing a little research on the history of St. Valentine's day (as you can probably tell, this blog is nothing if not meticulously researched and edited) when I discovered that nobody is really sure about who St. Valentine is. Among the contenders are the following:

Valentine Saint #1: There may have been a real Valentine, a third-century priest who defied Emperor Claudius II's ban against wartime marriages. According to legend, Valentine performed secret marriages until he was discovered and beheaded.

Valentine Saint #2: There's another legend in which a Valentine, persecuted for helping Christians during the reign of Claudius II, was thrown in jail. While there, he restored the eyesight of his jailer's blind daughter, and then maintained a secret correspondence with her to which he signed his name "your Valentine." He was later beheaded on Feb. 14.

Clearly, Claudius the II doesn't come off all that well in these stories. We all know how difficult it can be to be single on Valentine's Day, but isn't beheading someone going just a little too far? Geez, it's like advertising that you're single and bitter. If I were him, I would have just sent myself flowers and been done with it.

Anyway, that's not the point of today's entry. In fact, I'm not really sure what the point is. Let's begin again, shall we?

Ah, Valentine's Day. A day of celebration for not only people in love, but also for florists and card store owners across the land. Me? Well, I'm a romantic soul and, consequently, a sucker for this kind of stuff. As a result, I got up this morning, showered, and threw on my silk boxers with pictures of hearts on them (I like to feel pretty sometimes), and headed out to begin the day. Along the way, I considered how much the stakes rise every year. Remember when we were young? All we had to do was give out little cardboard cards to everyone in our class. Low risk-low reward. Later, we were more selective. We all went through our "do you like me? yes / no (circle one) phase, and then to the awkward teenage years where we prayed that our voices wouldn't crack and our...ummmm...interest wouldn't be too obvious in our sweatpants. Despite all of the years of practice, some guys still continue to struggle with the whole Valentine's Day concept and so I thought I'd give a little advice (for whatever it is worth).

Flowers: Okay, the basics. Get roses, not a bouquet of other flowers. I know you are trying to be different and special, but all you are going to do is make her go through the day explaining to her friends why she didn't get roses and making excuses about it. Also, spring for the entire dozen, not just a single rose. I know, you think that a single rose is more romantic. It isn't. It's just cheap.

Candy: Don't do it, unless you want to hear her complaining for the rest of the year about how you made her fat by giving her chocolate. Then you'll reply by saying that it wasn't the chocolates that did it, it was the pint of ice cream that she eats every night. Then she'll call you a callous bastard and throw a pillow at you. It's just not worth it, I tell you.

Taking her to Mickey D's and telling her that she can have anything on the menu just isn't the way to go - even if you do let her super size it. Instead, pick a special restaurant and ask for a quiet table. Then again, a million people have probably beat you to this idea. I mean, it's Valentine's Day for crying out loud! It's not like the day sneaks up on you. You had a year to plan, so get off my back about not giving you this idea until the last minute! Oh, carried away for a second there. Wait, I have an even better idea. Cook for her! Light some candles, put on some soft music, spread a blanket on the floor, and have a nice quiet dinner. Spread rose petals across the floor. Don't worry if you can't cook. The rose petals will distract her and the candlelight is just so that she won't see how badly you burned the food.

Pampering: Let her hold the remote (just for tonight). Watch a chic flick. When she asks you why you can't be like the ultra-romantic guy in the movie - don't reply by saying you could be if you had a team of scriptwriters like he does. Just tell her that you'll try harder. Let her lay on your lap and rub her head. Afterwards, run her a bubble bath and sit with her and talk as she soaks. Wash her hair for her. Dry her off and lotion her body, then lay her down and give her a long, slow massage.

The most important thing of all is this. Even if you don't tell her throughout the year, today is the one day to let her know how much she means to you. Don't blow it.

Then again, if you're taking advice from me about this stuff, you're probably in more trouble than you know.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Origins of Ash Wednesday

I promise that this will be the last of the Ash Wednesday postings. I hadn't intended to have a theme week, but Waf asked me what the ashes symbolize and I'm nothing if not dedicated to my loyal readers - or reader - and so I thought I'd post the answer.

Now, Waf's question comes up every year and I have to admit that I'm a little fuzzy when it comes to the whole ashes story, so I'm probably not the best person to ask. I mean, I understand that Lent is a time for reflection and that we're supposed to concentrate on the sacrifice that Jesus made when he died for our sins, but frankly my mind used to wander a lot in church and so I'm not convinced that I every truly understood the whole story. From what I recall it goes something like this.

At one point, both Christmas and Easter were celebrated on December 25. During this time, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus were locked in a fierce competition for the hearts and minds of young children. Both traveled the world in a single night, and they arrived at each house at the exact same time. A brief rooftop struggle would commence as they fought to be the first down the chimney.

Before you ask, I have no idea how the Easter Bunny got on the roof. Like I said, I wasn't paying attention most of the time. Besides, that's not the point of the story.

May I continue now?

Anyway, once down the chimney, they would continue their battle inside of the house. More often than not, children would awaken the following morning to find their Christmas tree knocked over, their gifts crushed, their Easter baskets destroyed, and brightly colored broken eggshells scattered across the floor. Their parents were none too happy about this. First they had to deal with crying children - which is never fun - and then they had to clean up the mess.

I mean, have you ever tried to get chimney soot out of your carpet and furniture? It's nearly impossible.

All through the night and all around the world, the battle would rage on. The Easter Bunny was nimble and used his speed to his advantage on the ground where Santa was too old and heavy to keep up. However, the reindeer driven sleigh gave Santa air superiority. Between houses, the Easter Bunny would throw eggs at Santa in an effort to knock him from the sleigh, while Santa dive bombed the Easter Bunny and hurled toys at his head.

You can imagine the level of destruction this spread across the land.

Finally, enough was enough and a group of influential citizens went to Jesus and asked him to broker a peace accord to stop what they'd termed The Great Chimney War. Jesus agreed, and this set the stage for an historic meeting

Now, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny each admired Jesus tremendously. In fact, the very reason that both had chosen December 25 as their holiday was because it was Jesus' birthday. So, if they were going to listen to anyone, it was Him.

As the talks began, it was immediately evident that the animosity between Santa and the Easter bunny ran deep. At times it even appeared that there was no hope for a settlement, but Jesus had faith and so he persevered.

Finally, after negotiating with both sides over a period of months, He came upon an ingenious solution. He sat Santa and the Easter Bunny down and told them that He was willing to die and rise again, in order to create a second "birthday" that one of them could claim as their holiday.

The Easter Bunny thought about how he froze his tail off every December. Then he considered how much he enjoyed spring - and how the female rabbits he would see as he travelled the world would be a little friskier in the spring than they were in winter. Never one to turn down a chance for a roll in the proverbial hay, he quickly agreed to take the new holiday.

As part of the agreement, Jesus asked for forty days to get his affairs in order and so, to this day, Christians recognize Jesus' sacrifice, by putting soot on their forehead forty days before Easter..

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ash Wednesday

As promised, I went to church last night and, no, I didn't burst into flames.

One of the great things about being in NYC is that they know that time matters and so they really do cater to you. At St. Patrick's, you can simply walk in after work, get on line, and get your ashes without going to mass. It's like drive through Christianity. You half expect the priest to say "don't forget that for the same price, you can get our 'value blessing' which comes with a side of communion wafer and a sip of wine."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Fat Tuesday

Ash Wednesday is right around the corner so like the good Catholic boy that I am, I'll head over to St. Patrick's after work tomorrow to get my ashes. If form holds, it will be one of the few times that I set foot in church all year.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Apartment Hunting - Week Two

The apartment hunt continues. The other day, I went down to Park Slope (in Brooklyn for those non-NYC types out there) only to have this surreal conversation on my cell phone.

Me: Hi. This is Joe. I'm standing outside of your apartment building but you aren't answering the door.

Him: Oh. I'm not home.

Me: But we had an appointment. I called earlier to confirm with you.

Him: Yes, we did, but I didn't think you'd show up. You sound like a guy who called last week but didn't come when he said he would. I thought you were the same guy using a different name.

Me: Did he have the same phone number? I gave you both my work and cell phone numbers.

Him: No, but people use different phone numbers all of the time.

Now a normal person would have just hung up and cut his losses, but I'd already made the trip and so I decided to press on just a little bit more.

Me: Okay. Anyway, I'm not him. I'm me and I'm here. Are you nearby?

Him: No. Here's the thing. I made other plans tonight, so you'll need to come back. I don't want you to waste the trip, so why don't you look around the neighborhood while you're there and come by tomorrow morning or something? I should be home, but call first because I can't guarantee that I will be.

Me: Fuck off

Granted, it wasn't the most witty rejoinder in the world, but give me a break, I was a little stressed.

Fortunately, I did have another appointment in roughly the same neighborhood, so I walked over there. The ad said that it was a large one-bedroom apartment sublet with plenty of closet space. Of course, it wasn't. This lead to my second stupid conversation of the day.

"Well, as you can see, it's a large studio so you can get a screen like the one I have to partition the place off and make a one bedroom," she said. "Okay. What about the closet space?" I asked. "I only see one closet, and it looks a little small." "Oh," she replied, "I can sell you that armoire if you'd like. Its really big and I use it as another closet." After thinking for a second, I said "So what you are saying is that it's a one bedroom with lots of closet space as long as I bring my own wall and closet?" She smiled and said "Wow, I guess I never thought of it that way, but yeah. So do you want it?"

People suck.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

HR Noir

She strolled into my office acting as cool as a cucumber and oblivious to the rising temperatures she inspired in the men around her. She was drop dead gorgeous and had a pair of legs that went on for days. "Have a seat, doll face," I said as I pointed her to one of the battered chairs across from my desk. She looked at me oddly. Apparently she wasn't used to being addressed so informally, but I had no time for niceties. I was all about business and I let her know immediately that I wasn't going to be another sap that fell for the first pair of fluttering eyelashes that walked through the door.

"What can I do for you?" I asked. "I'm here about a job" she replied. Weren't they all? I'm a Human Resources Manager. The job is an ugly business, not for the faint of heart or the weak of spirit. I had been at it for so long that it was second nature to me, but I had seen it wear down even the toughest men. Some of them were my friends and others, well let's just say that we wouldn't be meeting for drinks any time soon.

I waited patiently for her to proceed. "I guess you want my background information," she continued. "It's your dime, lady," I countered, interested to see where she was going with this story. "Well, I am currently employed as a legal secretary for Johnson and Smith, where I support three partners." She droned on for fifteen minutes but gave me nothing that I could use. "That's all very interesting, but let's cut to the chase, sweetheart. What do you want from me?" I asked.

She bristled at my question "First of all, I'd appreciate it if you didn't call me sweetheart." She was clearly one of those modern dames who preferred Ms. to Miss or Mrs. and got insulted whenever you opened the door for them. "Second, I told you that I'm here about the job. Don't you have any questions for me?" Sure, I had a million questions for her. Why is the sky blue? Why do birds sing? Who wrote the book of love? However, I sensed that she didn't have the answers, and I didn't want to waste any more of my time trying to find out.

I stood up quickly. "It looks like our time is up here, lady." Her eyes widened in surprise and I could tell that she regretted having taken that haughty tone of voice with me earlier. "Will I hear back from you soon?," she asked. "Just as soon as hell freezes over, baby" I countered, shooting her a hard look to ensure that there would be no misunderstanding. I walked her to the elevator and went back to my office where I grabbed a bottle of whiskey from my desk drawer, poured a healthy shot, and settled down to a game of solitaire while I waited for the next person to walk through the door. Like I said, it's a hard life.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

My Sitcom Life

The apartment search continues. Still no word on the application that I submitted the other day, but that's to be expected. Otherwise, two more appointments today and two more tomorrow. I forgot how exhausting this can be.

In other news, I've decided to hire a scriptwriter to make my life more fun. I'm also going to carry around my own theme music and laugh track. We'll also have periodic "message" shows along the lines of "Tonight....on a very special episode of Blossom." The best part is that whatever mess I find myself in will be neatly wrapped up within 30 minutes.

A typical exchange will look something like this.

"Good morning, Joe"
"Good morning, Aniline. Working hard, or hardly working?" (laugh track)

or this

"Cold enough for you, Joe?"
"If it gets any colder, my nipples will be able to cut diamonds" (laugh track)

Here's what we've sketched out for the first five episodes.

Episode One
I accidentally spill coffee on his shirt and have to go to a very important meeting shirtless. I pretend that nothing is out of the ordinary, and soon the entire office, male and female, has adopted my new "ultra business casual" style. Zany high jinks ensue.

Episode Two
I'm instant messaging while on a conference call. Because I'm not paying attention, I accidentally volunteer to go on a month long business trip to a small town filled with offbeat characters. Madcap adventures follow.

Episode Three (special message episode)
In a real time episode, the subway gets stuck on the way to work and I'm stranded in a car with, among others, an 87 year old white woman who is a big hip-hop fan, a precocious small child, and uptight businessman, and a homeless man who makes us all admire his gentle way and quiet wisdom. We all walk out of the car having learned a valuable lesson about appreciating what we have in life.

Episode Four
I go on a dinner date with a woman and, after misunderstanding a conversation that I overhear, I become convinced that she's a cult member who wants to use me as a human sacrifice. Hilarity abounds as I try to avoid eating or drinking for fear of being drugged. I jump nervously every time she reaches for me, and react with suspicion to everything she says. In the end, it turns out that she was just talking about a movie she saw, and we wind up laughing about my wild imagination.

Episode Five
While moving into my new apartment, a mix-up with the moving company causes my furniture to be sent to Thailand and leaves my apartment furnished with the sparse belongings of a Buddhist monk. Wacky conversations abound with the moving company.

See? I think I'm really on to something here. An exciting life for only the few pennies a day it costs for writing fees. Amazing.

Feel free to submit your theme song ideas.

Toy Soldiers

Not too many funny things coming out of Iraq these days, but this so called "hostage story" did make me laugh. Have the insurgents finally gotten this desperate?