Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guilt Inducing Advertising

I have a lot of respect for the men who make good advertisements. I suppose this comes from a few reasons. Firstly, some of them are paid to make people laugh and buy things (sort of like what i wish would happen to me). In that way, they're like street performers who are never hassled by police. In another light, these ad-men who work on Madison avenue (Mad Men, if you will. Huh, that's sort of catchy sounding. Maybe I'll make a TV series about it.*) are paid to prey on our deepest desires and fears. Sort of like what the boogey-man would do if he were to ever sell out and stop hiding in my closet, playing my desire to go to the bathroom against my fear of being eaten by him.
*Wait, really? They already made it? Damnit.

Of course, every now and then, this backfires, and the Mad-Men make a commercial that I find so offensive that I boycott the product. Blockbuster was recently guilty of this. Not that it matters to them; I go to Blockbuster about as often as I start conversations with pretty girls I don't know. But anyway, you can see the offending commercials here and here.

Basically, the commercials point out that Blockbuster gets new releases instantly, while you need to wait for them from Netflix. I resent this on two levels. First, the ad is appealing to my desire for instant gratification, my greed. They are implying because they are suggesting that I cannot wait for a movie, and that I should not have to. Unfortunately for them, this doesn't work. Previews released long in advance of movies ensure that I am highly skilled at waiting long periods of time for movies. Furthermore, I resent that they assume my appetite for instant satisfaction is so large that they think I'll fall for it. Acknowledging that at some level, this appeal works makes me feel guilty. At this rate, I'll wait an extra 28 days after movies are released to Netflix just to spite Blockbuster.

More importantly, this commercial doesn't work for me because the things in questions are things I am used to waiting for. Anyone who has been in an ER knows that 28 days is a pretty accurate estimate of how long you'll be there before someone sees you. Similarly, a restaurant that makes you wait 28 days is something I would personally like. Once a month is about how often I go out to restaurants. I would just drop by the restaurant one month before I intended to go; this sounds pretty easy to deal with to me. Waiting 28 days for a dentist gives even more of an excuse not to ever go to them (as if I needed more excuses not to visit someone who stabs me in the mouth).

If they really wanted to make this commercial work, they'd make it something that I'm absolutely unable to resist for 28 days. I don't know what that is, but I can tell you this: it's not showering.

Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Mess Up While Dreaming II

I'm a firm believer that dreams can be manifestations of things that concern you. Last night, I had that confirmed in an amusing, but unpleasant way. 

Dream-Self is walking through Central Park. As I walked, I saw a bill of money flitting past me. I stopped to pick it up, and looked at it. It was a fifty dollar bill! Or at least, it was what I imagine a fifty dollar bill would look like. "Cool," Dream-self says, and pockets it. Then I noticed that there was more money whisking its way across the ground. "Ah. Money," Dream-self realizes. "This is very strange. Why is this happening?" I picked another bill up, and saw that it was a fresh twenty dollar bill. It was around then that I noticed a few people running around stuffing their pockets with the bills that were floating everywhere. "This is a socially acceptable practice," Dream-self notices. Still, I didn't follow suit and grab money by the fistful like everyone else was doing. I left the park, re-entered from another entrance. I casually stooped to pick up another twenty.  "No big deal, here. Act natural, not like there's money flying around or anything" Dream-self  thinks.

So out of thousands of dollars floating around, I grabbed 90.  "This is super-duper! Maybe I could grab a few more, and get a lot of money. Like, $250." Make it rain, Dream-self.

Anyway, it turned out it wasn't that big of a deal. Somehow or other, Dream-self found out that all of the money was counterfeit, and in a cunning (i.e. incomprehensible plan), the counterfeiters planned to get it into circulation without exchanging it for real money. So at the end of the dream, I had 90 fake dollars. I wasn't even that disappointed with this for some reason. I briefly wondered if it would be possible to spend it anyway, but then decided that it would be immoral.

This is about when I got a phone call that woke me up, but let's recap.

1) Wealth is out there for the taking. My reaction is curiosity more than interest or greed.
2) Everyone is grabbing money. I'd rather not be seen with such bourgeois interests as free money, so I wander around and act as if large quantities of money flying around are something I see often.
3) $90 sounds fantastic to me. Untold wealth is mine!
4) The money is fake. My cool indifference seems justified now, but I still don't have money.

I fear that I will never have anything nice.

Expect a flurry of blog activity soon. I'm on vacation and won't have much to do. If you have ideas for fun, break activities, please let me know!
Hope all is well!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Frightening Goodbys

For someone who is so bad at personal interaction, I spend a surprisingly large amount of time thinking about conversations. One of the things that really gets me are all of the ridiculous ways we have come up with to ending them.

"Would ya look at the time!"
"But... you don't have a watch, ma'am."
"No, no. I meant that you should go look at the time, just... someplace else."
"Excuse me?"
"I'm asking you to leave."

There are a few in particular that stick in my mind though, mostly because they terrify me. These are irrational, and I know they're not meant to be taken in the way I understand them, but there's still that split second where I have problems dissociating what someone literally says with what someone actually means. Here are three examples...

1: "Break a leg!" Of course it's not meant to be taken seriously. Still, who even says that in jest? I always imagine it with some sort of ominous leer, implying definite foreshadowing of something (maybe a broken leg, for instance). Why say that? Are you trying to insinuate that your hired muscle has it out for my shins? More frightening is the chance that you have strange hypnotic powers, and can command me to break someone else's leg. Either way, this parting comment either ends with me in a wheelchair or in handcuffs, and neither of those is too appealing.

2: "See you later, alligator!" It seems harmless enough. But it really all depends on how you understand "alligator." If it's meant in direct address, then you are confused. I do not happen to be an alligator. If, however, it's the reason you are leaving (which of course I assume it is. I know I'm not an alligator), then the way I understand it is "See you later, there is an alligator very close to us!" Alligator is an explanation, but because you are in a rush, you cut the explanation a tiny bit short, and only said the essential facts. I.e, you are leaving, because there is an alligator close to me. I should probably run, too. For some reason, "In a while, crocodile" does not convey this urgency. It sort of implies that crocodiles are slower.

3: "I'll catch you on the flip side." This one just makes me feel like I'm tripping, but don't know why. Flip side of what? Is the earth flat? Do we live on a coin, and is it about to be heads or tails? I'm not adequately conveying the sense of terror I feel about there being a flip side to this existence, but trust me, I find this terrifying. Maybe you agree.

Sorry (you're welcome?) for the long absence! I've had a (generic complaint about being busy these past few weeks, yada yada yada). I really do enjoy writing these, so I'll be looking for time in the future. Things are shaping up to be a bit better now that the semester is almost over though, so now the limit to how often I post will be how often I'm funny. I guess you should expect a posting once every blue moon.

On an unrelated note, one of my friends is a great bassoonist, and auditioned for the youtube symphony orchestra. She made it to the finals, which is huge! It's an amazing opportunity for her, and you can help her by clicking this link and voting for her once a day until Friday. You can also help by telling all of your friends to do the same. You'll be helping me, too, because Brigid doesn't know this, but if she wins, she's taking me to Australia in her carry-on luggage.

Feel free to tell me more conversation enders that I might find terrifying, just please don't use them with me. Hope all is well!

ps: How great is the lego bartender I drew in? Feel free to praise my artistic talents.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

RA Shenanigan no. 1

Part of my job as an RA is to wander around the building looking for potential issues. I still find this amusing; it's as if the mystery gang decided to send Shaggy looking for ghosts. I'm more interested in locating interesting food smells than anything else, and if I were to find a problem, I'd probably shout "Yoinks!" and run away.

Through some fluke, I happened to be on duty the first day all of the first years were moved in. Now, I'm an old hand at this. This is my third year as an RA, and at least my second year as a jaded person. In contrast, the first years were entering, well, their first year at college, and most of them are still in their 18th year of joyful energy. So don't get me wrong; I like them, but they are not my people.

So no shit, there I was, wandering around looking for problems (i.e. interesting smells) when I saw my boss at the other end of the hall. Simultaneously, I smelled something like cotton candy. "Did you find it?," my boss asked me?

Gears slowly started creaking in my head. Find it... I thought to myself. Aha! The smell! He wants to know if I found the funny smell! I'm a good RA, yes I am, yes I am... "You mean the cotton candy smell?

FLASHBACK: Earlier this evening, I ask my boss where he left a form I needed to pick up. He replies in a text message. I look for the form, find it. End flashback.

The gears are now spinning, relatively smoothly, if reluctantly. Wait... He doesn't mean the smell. He didn't even smell it. Now if I find the cotton candy, I need to share. Jinkies.

"No, I meant the form I left out for you. But now that you mention it, yeah it does smell funny. Is that a hookah?"

My brain is running at full capacity. That is a hookah. He didn't notice it before, but now, I have brought it to his attention. There is no escape.

"That, or a cotton candy machine!," I replied, cheerfully. Please fall for this. I hate confrontations. He's not falling for this.

"You should go do something about this, Brendan. Enjoy!"

So there I was, first day of the year, knocking on a stranger's door with the fun task of telling him he was in trouble. Yoinks. Let's just call him Smoky, to protect his identity. Smoky opened the door, and I introduced myself. I then proceeded to tell him that smoking in his room is a policy violation, and that I will be documenting the situation FYI, that is the full extent of my power. Really. I 'document situations.' That's about it. This is about as severe as it sounds, and I thought it was over. But then Smoky decided he wanted to start bartering.

"Look, do you have to document this?" Smoky asked me as I was about to leave. I proceeded to explain that it wasn't a big issue, but yes, I had to document it. "Well, can you let me off because this is my first violation?" Smoky asked me, with begging eyes. Of course this is your first violation. You have been here 6 hours, how could it be anything else? I explained that I couldn't let him off the hook, especially since my boss saw me enter the room, and was expecting the incident report presently.

Now, I've made it clear that it is my responsibility to "document the situation" and that if I don't, I get in trouble. I've explained that it's not a big deal. But Smoky wasn't ready to give up just yet. He extends his final offer. "Well, what if, in exchange for not writing me up, you can come hang out in my room whenever you want?" You are so perceptive. That is why I became an RA; I want to hang out with freshmen and smoke in their rooms.

The best response is the same as the best medicine. I laughed in his face and wandered off to 'document the situation.'

Sunday, November 28, 2010

You'll Never Guess (Really).

I'm pretty bad at conversation to begin with, so I really hate when people make it even more difficult for me. There are a few ways to make conversation harder with me. One of them is to put a sock in my mouth and cover it with duct tape. Alternatively, you can have a really exciting piece of news, and say "guess what!" Here's how conversations where someone tells me to "guess what" normally turn out...

Friend: Hey Brendan, guess what!
Me: You were molested as a child. I am the first person you've ever said anything to. Oh my God, it makes so much sense why I've never heard you speak of your step-dad before. Ok, your turn to guess what!
Friend: Um... No. I was going to say I have an extra ticket to a movie and was going to invite you, but now I feel sort of uncomfortable doing that. Also, I was never molested. And I've never mentioned my step dad because my parents are both alive and still married.
Me: Oh. Well, in case you were wondering, you were supposed to guess that I'm all out of clean boxer shorts as of yesterday.

But really, "guess what" is a pretty useless phrase, and only serves to sidetrack conversations. There's almost no way the person who is supposed to "guess what" could possibly add to the conversation. Also, what would happen if the person actually did "guess what?" Conversation would come to a screeching halt. Let's re-imagine that first conversation.

Friend: Hey Brendan, guess what!
Me: You were molested as a child. I am the first person you've ever said anything to. Oh my God, it makes so much sense why I've never heard you speak of your step-dad before. Ok, your turn to guess what!
Friend: Um. Yeah. That made this conversation easier. And judging by the way you're walking gingerly, I guess you're all out of clean boxer shorts. Was I right?
Me: Yup. Good talking, friend! See you!

See? The person who says "guess what" really doesn't want you to guess what. That would spoil the surprise. He just wants to create some tension. In that case, why not just say, "Hey, something exciting came up. Would you like to hear it?" Probably because that would be too easy and straightforwards.

There are other variations on this theme. One of them is "Guess who I just saw!" Sure, I'll try to guess who you just saw. Let me look around for a mutual friend, first. Then, if I see that mutual friend, I'll say his or her name. That way, I know I have a chance of being right, even if that's not who my conversation partner had in mind.

Friend: Hey, guess who I just saw!
Me: Did you see Chester on the sidewalk five seconds ago? Because I just did!
Friend: Oh. Um, yeah. I did just see him. I actually meant that I just saw Elvis, and he winked at me!
Me: Oh. Well, did you ask Chester about the cut on his face? It's a good story.

My personal (least) favorite is when people say "You'll never guess what..." Of course I'll never guess what! You could have done any number of things! But I could probably guess what you didn't do. That sounds like a way more fun game for me. "I'll bet you didn't just get laid, you annoying twerp," I would reply. But no, I could probably guess what if you gave me more hints though. I don't know about you, but life isn't a huge game of 20 questions to me. If you really want me to guess, you need to be more helpful in telling me what I won't guess. Maybe tell me something like, "You'll never guess how much money I found in my jacket pocket from last year!" That would be more fun for all of us.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this. The trick is the same as the fortune-cookie game. Just add "in bed" to whatever your conversation partner asks you to guess.

Friend: Guess who I just saw!
Me: In bed?
Now I'm interested. Was it as good as I would imagine?

Friend: Guess what I just did!
Me: In bed? Ooooooh.
TMI if it's a guy. If it's a girl, I'm really interested.

Friend: You'll never guess where I was.
Me: In bed? Do I want to know?
I do guess that you are a slut, though! Bonus points?

So keep that trick in mind. If we are all obnoxious together, hopefully, everyone will stop using the phrase "guess what." But really, does this bother anyone else as much as it bothers me? Please let me know so I can tell if I'm really neurotic or not. Hope all is well!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Relationship Clarification

For some strange reason, friends often feel that I am an appropriate source of relationship advice. I find this ceaselessly amusing, because I'm no more qualified to give relationship advice than I am to give medical advice. In fact, I may actually be less competent in relationship advice, because every now and then, telling someone to "walk it off" might just be what they need.
"Oh, man. That looked like it hurt. You should walk that off."

I think a major issue I have when people ask me for relationship advice is that I have difficulty understanding the situation at hand. In my defense, this isn't my fault. There are so many terms used in so many different ways to describe relationships that it's not surprising that I don't know what's going on. For that reason, I've compiled a list of these terms and how I understand them. In the future, keep these in mind when you are discussing your relationship with me.

Here's how my thought process works for the most basic of statements.

What you say: "I'm single."
How I initially interpret this: "You do not have multiple personalities."
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "I am not romantically involved with anyone."
How I normally use this: "I'm single, mostly because I have trouble talking to girls."

Alternatively, you might say...

What you say: "I'm not seeing anyone right now."
How I initially interpret this: "I have gone blind right now!"
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "I'm single right now."
How I normally use this: "Who are you pointing at?"

It gets more complicated once you start bringing other people into it.

What you say: "I'm seeing this really great girl right now."
How I initially interpret this: "I spy, with my little eye..."
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "I'm sleeping with someone very temporarily."
How I normally use this: "I spy, with my little eye..."

Ok, now we're getting someplace...

What you say: "I'm sleeping with X"
How I initially interpret this: "I enjoy spooning."
What I eventually assume you mean: "I am spending a lot of time awake with X in places one would normally sleep."
How I use this: "I'm sleeping with my favorite stuffed animal."

More complexities!

What you say: "I'm hooking up with a cool girl right now"
How I initially interpret this: You are a fisherman.
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "I occasionally kiss a girl I would not not hold hands with in public."
How I normally use this: "While playing football, the quarterback hooked up with the receiver for a 30 yard completion"

Even simple statements can make me get lost in thought for a second.

What you say: "I'm dating X"
How I initially interpret this: You are bragging about something, but I can't figure out what yet.
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "I do things in public with a girl I frequently kiss."
How I normally use this: "I guess I'm just dating myself, now..."

But what if things go wrong?

What you say: "We're taking a little break."
How I initially interpret this: "I have a kit-kat bar. Would you like me to break you off a piece, too?"
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "We feel like sleeping with other people for a bit."
How I normally use this: "I and my multiple personalities are not going to do any work for a while."

What you say: "I broke up with X"
How I initially interpret this: Heck, even I can understand this one.
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "That girl I used to kiss is now kissing other guys. Or girls."
How I normally use this: Well, I guess I have to be dating someone and then actually end up deciding that I don't want to date that person, then have the balls to end it. I don't think I've ever used this one, actually.
If you have similar difficulties understanding what people mean when they try to tell you something, please let me know. We should all work together to standardize the vocabulary here.

In other news, I have been featured on another blog! Jeremy and his friend have been alarmed by my actions, but I can inform you, I have only the best intentions in my dealings with the Syndicate Blatt. For complete coverage (and a picture of me shirtless), see here.

Anyway, hope all is well!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Proper Scarf Protocol

Fall is upon us once again, which means that cold weather is (supposedly) on its way. I haven't experienced a real cold snap, yet, but there have been hints that it might get chilly soon. In these recent weeks, I've noticed something really concerning for my male brethren, made perhaps even more sinister by the lack of actually cold temperatures. Namely, I've seen a lot of guys in scarves.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about fashion or anything vaguely related to it. Until relatively recently in my life, I thought the company Chanel was pronounced "channel"*, as in, "my fashion choices channel my inner hobo."
*True story

I do, however, know something about being a man, and I know that scarves have no role in manliness. God gave man the ability to grow beards for a reason: to keep our necks warm. If you have difficult growing a good, warm, man-beard, alternatively, God gave man the ability to wear warm, lined collars for a reason: to wear them in such a way as to keep our necks warm. Again, if you don't like wearing large collars, God gave man things like Turtle Fur neck gaiters to keep our necks warm. Basically, there are a lot of things you can do to avoid wearing a scarf. And you should want to avoid that, because scarves are made for women. If you're a woman, skip the rest of this paragraph. If you are a man, keep reading for the justification. God gave women scarves so that they can wear low-cut tops (for your pleasure) in cold weather, and still go outside without getting their necks cold, which would make them grumpy. This logic unfortunately also applies to hipsters and their V-neck shirts, but if you're a hipster wearing a scarf, God help you.

I don't want to say that there are never reasons to wear a scarf. I've provided a quick list of times when it is acceptable to sport a scarf.

-You are hiding a hickey a girl gave you from your friend. More specifically, you are hiding a hickey a girl who is not your girlfriend gave you from your girlfriend. Totally acceptable until the hickey disappears.

-You nicked yourself shaving, and don't want to stick toilet paper on your face. You wear a scarf to hide the bloody mess that is your neck and help stop the bleeding. Marginally acceptable for up to one hour.

-You suspect someone is trying to garrote you. You have a steel collar around your neck, but don't want your would be assassin to know. Largely acceptable until you have foiled the plot.
"Wait for it... Wait for it..." *
*In case this story is not immediately clear, my stunt double is wearing a protective collar. His would-be assassin is trying to garrote him in the middle of the road. Unfortunately, it is taking longer than the w-b-a planned, thanks to the hidden collar. The w-b-a is about to get hit by a car.
-Because of an elaborate prank, the only article of clothing you have is your scarf. Wear it proudly. Acceptable until your clothes are returned to you.

-You have cut your head off accidentally, but would like to go out. You use a scarf to hide this fact. Praiseworthy as long as you can hold it together.
Really, honey, it's fine. It just itches a tiny bit, that's all. I can go to dinner.
Feel free to submit any more suggestions for when it is acceptable for a man to wear a scarf, but in my mind, I've covered most of the major topics.

On a reflective note, I realize that my past two posts have probably alienated me from many friends. I realize this isn't a good thing. I don't like being a hater, but sometimes, I think hateful things, and I feel as if I have to speak my mind. If it's any consolation, this is about as hateful as I get. I will work on a more positive, happy post in the future. Hope all is well!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two Wonderful Things Combined!

You know what's great? When you take two things that are great individually, combine them, and you get something that's better than the sum of its parts. Think about Ice Cream Cake. Ice cream? Great. Cake? Great. But ice cream cake? Mind-blowingly, potentially pants-ruiningly dangerous.

You know who's a great musician? Andrew Bird. He's brilliantly musical and creative (you know, one of those people I'm jealous of).

Let me mention another talented person? Shel Silverstein. Thinking about The Giving Tree still brings me close to tears. He also wrote the collection of poems, "Where the Sidewalk Ends." I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything bad about that book. It would sort of be like saying "I can't stand puppies, kittens, or anything beautiful in life."

Recently, while listening to the radio, I found out that it's possible to combine Andrew Bird and Shel Silverstein, and it's as wonderful as you might imagine. Give it a listen:

Sorry for a lack of personal creativity. I've been too busy to come up with much, but worry not! Ideas are stewing.

On a side note: I've been circulating some dollar bills that advertise for this blog. Out of curiosity, has anyone who received one of those dollars bothered to see my blog? If yes, please let me know, and let me know where you got that dollar bill! Otherwise, I may just be wasting ink. And committing a crime (defacing money is illegal). Not that that would stop me.

So I hope all is well! I'll check back in soon.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rant Against Earphones

This post may cost me a few friends, which, when you have as few as I do, is a serious issue, but it's something I believe in strongly. I hate it when people walk around listening to earphones. Bear with me.

Don't confuse my dislike of earphones with a dislike of music. I like music more than I like candy, even though it's more difficult to lure children into vans with music. I listen to and play music regularly. Music is not the issue. The issue is when people walk around using earphones, thus making me appear even more awkward than usual.
If you're asking "Brendan, how is that possible?" I'd probably reply "How is it it possible that I can appear more awkward than usual, or how do earphones make me appear more awkward than usual?" If you're asking the first question, just know that it's possible. But if you're asking the second question, then get ready for my rant (please imagine that I have accosted a stranger in earphones and proceed to scream the following at him, because this is how it goes in my head...).

So how far are you walking that you need to have music lest you get bored? Is this a casual-walking marathon that has just been poorly publicized? And do the rules specifically stipulate that you are not allowed to talk to fellow competitors or take any interest in your surroundings? Also, how many songs can you even listen to on what I imagine is your six minute walk? Are you just going to pause whatever song you're listening to midway when you arrive at your destination, or are you going to try to find a song that is exactly as long as your hike will take? Maybe you should just listen to something like Hey Jude by the Beatles and just stop when they're all singing "na na na na."

I could go on and on, but I suppose I should explain the roots of this antipathy against earphones. You see, a good portion of my social life relies on chance encounters* with friends. The idea is that either I see my friend, or my friend sees me, one of us somehow attracts the other's attention, and then we hang out. This works great when both of us are paying attention to our surroundings, as opposed to something like, say, Blink-182**.
*borderline ambushes
**In fairness, if you're listening to Blink-182, I probably don't want to talk to you anyway.

Trouble begins once earphones get involved. It normally goes down something like this: I see a friend. I shout the friend's name. My friend keeps walking, because my friend is listening to loud music only he or she can hear. I call my friend's name again. This continues until I realize that the person is listening to music, and I just didn't know about it. Now that I've shouted really loudly a couple of times, people start looking at me, wondering where the noise is coming from and why the source is outside of an asylum without at least a straight jacket.

At this point, I have a few options, none of which is too attractive.
a) I can continue to shout louder and louder, hoping each time my friend will hear. But seeing as my friend is walking away by now, this isn't likely.
b) I can chase down my friend, full speed, and tap him on the shoulder. That's great, because people didn't think I was desperate enough already.
c) Explain to anyone who looks at me funny that the Borg has taken over my friend, and that resistance is futile. That must be why he isn't replying to me.
d) Have a nervous breakdown, and hope that someone will comfort me.

Compare this to what the casual observer would think if everything had gone according to plan, and after hailing my friend once, he or she came over to talk to me. See what a difference that would make to me? This is exactly why I can't stand earphones.

There is, however, one time when wearing earphones is acceptable. There have been countless times when my dignity has been saved thanks to them. These often occur on public transportation. The situation is this: I'm busy working up the courage to try to go talk to a pretty girl on the same train. This is difficult, because not only do I need to work up the courage, but I also need to dismiss all of the logical arguments against it (e.g. You will probably make a fool of yourself. What if she's a man? She'll probably bite your head off, etc.). It's at the pivotal moment right before I'm about to try to make conversation when I notice that she is wearing earphones. "Oh well," I tell myself. "Can't go talk to her. She's wearing earphones. Next time."

But seriously. Don't wear earphones for those five minute walks you go on. You're ruining my social life and my reputation as potentially sane.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Compatibility Test

Have you ever wondered if your thought process is anything like mine? I've come up with a quick test for you to take that will let you know just how alike we think!

Here's how it works: I've compiled a list of things I think to myself multiple times a day. If that thought is something you never think, you score 0 points. If it is something you think maybe once in a while, give yourself 1 point. If you find yourself thinking it once a day, go ahead, take 2 points. And lastly, if you think it several times a day, you get 3 (!) points. Sum your points, then see to which category you belong!

1) I sure hope this doesn't set off the fire alarm.

2) I wonder where (important document I urgently need in the near future) is; I know I had it a minute ago!

3) I wonder what that was. More importantly, I wonder why I ate it.

4) What a reckless and irresponsible idea. I could get seriously hurt. I wish I didn't feel compelled to do it because I thought of it/it could be cool.

5) That was remarkably clumsy, even for me.

6) Man, (person) is going to kill me when he/she finds out that I forgot to do X/bring Y. How can I blame this on someone else?

7) I tried to explain myself like, five times, and you still have no idea what I'm talking about. You probably think I have some learning disability right now. Well, shit. I'm just going to say "Never mind," and hope you forget about this.

8) Oh my God, it's that person. I hope he/she doesn't notice me. Act naturally, avoid eye contact, and whistle nonchalantly. I can't believe I did that. Maybe by now, he/she doesn't recognize me any more? Probably not, given how stupid that thing I did was.

9) Again? Shit, I can't believe I passed third grade and I can't keep my shoelaces tied for longer than 10 minutes. Why don't they make Velcro shoes for people my age?*
*See #7.

10) Screw this. I think I'm just going to go hang out outside.

So what was your point total? Here's how we relate to each other based on that number.

0-3: You will never understand me, and I will never understand you. I wish you well.

4-6: I rely on people like you to feed, clothe and support me. Please don't ever leave me. Also, can I ask you to do something for me?

7-9: You're pretty normal. What's it like?

10-12: You are the cool kid in grade school I always wanted to be. Interesting, funny, with a slightly dangerous and rebellious edge.

13-15: I feel comfortable enough around you that I will complain about anything wrong in my life to you. I'm so sorry that you ended up in this category.

16-18: I really want to be your friend, but don't know how. Want to go get beers? You should drink way more than I do, then retake this test. Maybe your score will go up and I'll know how to relate to you better.

19-21: You are one of those few people who laugh at my jokes.

21-23: We should hang out more often. Please. I need company badly.

24-26: You could easily be my best friend. You should seriously consider applying.

27-30: Please contact me immediately so we can date and be an incredibly dysfunctional couple.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Case of a Mistaken Identity

These past few weeks, there have been a lot of videos directed towards the homosexual community. These videos have been encouraging and supportive, which is great. I don't mean to demean them, their message, or anything else at all that might offend people. But I will say that these messages don't have much to say to me, and I do wish that my kind had as vocal a support community as the homsexual community has. See, I'm not a homosexual, but often, people seem to assume I am. What's worse is that no one has appropriately addressed this issue; often, I feel as if I'm not sure how to when someone confronts me about my mistaken 
sexual identity. Apologize for being misleading? Joke about it awkwardly and hope the situation resolves itself? Go along with it and see if I can get a free breakfast out of it? 

If anyone else out there shares my concerns, I've compiled a list of a few iterations of situations where someone has mistakenly assumed I was gay, and how I responded

Situation 1: Straight Guy Assumes I am gay.
This is often the most easily corrected and least damaging. At one point in my wilder and crazier days*, I was at a party where there was a girl I thought was pretty. I talked to her for a bit, and then wandered off for a bit. Soon afterwards, I met a male friend of hers. After the usual small talk, I asked how he knew the pretty girl. Very well, it turned out; in fact, he was her boyfriend. Then he turned the tables on me; "What about you? How do you know her? By the way, you're gay, right?" 
"Oh, I just met her," I replied. "And no! I'm not gay." We fist bumped, then talked about how much we liked football**. 
"Oh, ok. I Just got that vibe for some reason," he said. Then we chatted a little longer; he was a nice guy, and didn't seem like he had any urge to beat me up for talking to his girl.
*Ha! Like I had wild and crazy days. These were the same days where my idea of going out was drinking warm milk in pajamas.
**This is how it happened in my head.

In retrospect, that was one of the best outcomes for the situation. I found out that any more time spent talking to the girl in hopes that she would like me would be a waste of time (more so than usual, that is), and the guy didn't have any grudges against me. "What a friendly, ambiguously straight guy that was," he probably walked away thinking. 

Correct response to situation 1: Correct quickly without making a big deal about it.

Situation 2: Gay Man Assumes I am Gay.
I was in a bar over the summer. I went with two friends who were girls. They were talking about whatever girls talk about when they get together in a swarm (that's the proper term for a group of them), so I decided I would happily sip my beer, maybe scope out the bar for any pretty girls who were there. There weren't any (I told myself) so I just sort of stood around and tried to figure out what color my socks were without looking directly at them, when a guy came up to me and introduced himself as Mike (names have been changed to protect the innocent). "Oh, hi. I'm Brendan," I said, smiling because I had just remembered the answer to what was puzzling me (green). I reached out my right hand, and he contorted his left arm so that he could grab my right hand in his left hand. 
"The normal handshake is just too formal for me," he explained. At this point I noticed his well groomed facial hair - a thin mustache - and the way he looked right into my eyes as if he was trying to see my soul. My response was to go into small talk mode: a terrible mistake. All of a sudden, I knew all sorts of things about Mike, the most immediately concerning of which was that he was a chef, and had just offered to make me breakfast, if I was interested. 
"Ah, a chef! That explains the fork you have wrapped around your wrist like a bracelet!" I continued, stubbornly still in small talk mode. 
This would have continued indefinitely, or until he made me breakfast, had the girls I was with not stopped laughing at my expense, grabbed me by the elbow and said "C'mon, we're going to a different bar." They then gave me a few tips for how I should have acted if I really wanted him to take me home, because apparently, my game with the men-folk could use some work.

So, in situation 2, small talk in general is not the best response. Could I do it over, I think the conversation would have involved me swiftly correcting him. The opportune moment comes right after the question, "So, what do you do?" Should you ever feel as if you're being mistaken as gay by a gay guy who is interested in you, I think the proper response would be something along the lines of "Girls. Beautiful girls by the truckload. Sometimes not so beautiful ones, if I can't find any, but yes. Girls. Lots and lots of girls. Or is that not what you meant? Because I'm also a Straight (c)* student."

Situation 3: A Girl I am Interested In Assumes I am Gay.
This is the most difficult situation to deal with. I don't really feel like picking out an example of this, because there are a few too many than I am comfortable thinking about, and I still haven't found an acceptable response, so whatever advice I can give will be meaningless. I've contemplated wrapping the target of my affections in a passionate embrace, saying something along the lines of "So you thought I was a man's man, huh?" And then kissing her forcefully to fix it, but I normally just go someplace and lick my wounded pride.

But all of these inspirational messages must end with an uplifting note, so here it is.
Situation 4: A Girl I am Not Interested Assumes I am Gay.
This past summer I was walking back from a bar with some friends of friends. One of them invited me to come with them back to where they were staying; they were going to continue the party in their rooms. "Cool," I thought. I was pretty drunk, so they probably could have convinced me to do anything; going to a room to drink another beer seemed like a kind suggestion, all other options considered. So I ended up in a room of a building with a fire escape. As soon as I walked in, I noticed the fire escape. "Oh, look! A fire escape! That looks so inviting," I said, to no one in particular.
"Yeah, you're right. Want to go out on in?" A girl whom I had never seen before added.

"Sure!" The path to the window could have been paved with burning coals, and I probably would have said "sure." I was in a happy place.
Next thing I know, I'm on a roof with a girl I don't know and who I'm not attracted to. Solution? Small talk mode. "Nice night," I began.
"Mhm," she said, leaning in a bit closer. 

I let the patter begin. At this point, even I could see why we were up on the roof, and I wasn't happy about it. I covered every possible topic, from baseball to what the people in the windows we could see into were thinking before her friend came up to see what was going on on the roof. They both started down, then gestured at me. 
"What about him?" The friend who saved me asked.
"Him? He's probably gay," my evening's love interest replied.

I was about to say, "Hey! Wait a second" when I realized that being taken as homosexual was the most convenient excuse for why I didn't want to hook up with an unattractive stranger - much easier than explaining to her that she was an unattractive stranger.
I shut my mouth, figured out how to get down the fire escape, and left the party.

So if you, like me, are taken to be a homosexual when you're not, don't worry. Someday, it may come in handy. And if you're still worried, look at this article about cuttlefish, and learn from it. It's relevant, I swear.

Well, that was a long post. My brain hurts.
And really, let me know if you have found solutions to any of these situations, especially situation 3. Hope all is well!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Condomanners: A glimpse into my job as an RA

For those of you who don't know, I moonlight as an Resident Adviser at my university. It's a great job, although there are a few frustrations that go along with it.

One thing I do is try to provide contraception for the floor. I keep a little baggie of condoms on a bulletin board outside my door, and try to keep it full. It's nice, because people on my floor get to have sex, and when I hear the rustling of the bag, I know someone on the floor is getting lucky. And that makes me happy (or jealous. Sigh). Recently, despite my best efforts, I can't seem to keep the bag full. I have a sneaking suspicion that people have been taking condoms unnecessarily, so I sent my floor this email. Because I haven't been posting recently, I thought I'd share this, because I thought it was funny.

Subject: Condomanners

 Hey Floor,
A quick note on proper condom etiquette.

Firstly, yes, it is the gentleman's responsibility to provide the condom. Not bringing the condom is a lot like not buying your high school prom date the corsage. You just won't get laid if that's the case.

However, it is not my job to ensure that you can get laid in any situation whatsoever. When is it appropriate go grab a condom from the bag? Take this quick quiz and see how you do!

1) You are going to the chicken and rice guy on 115th street. Perhaps you will see a really cute girl in front of you, hit on her, and buy her a kebab. Oh yeah. You know what kind of kebab she wants.

2) You are going out to Campo. Everyone's chances at Campo are pretty much golden, right?

3) You have just been surprise booty called by Gisele Bundchen. She is in town, because the Patriots are is playing division rivals the Jets, and seeing as Tom hasn't really been meeting her standards recently, she needs a little extra lovin' from you.

4) You are going on a month-long journey to Amsterdam. Holla(nd)!

5) Things went really well at 1020. In fact, there will probably be a happy ending in your room. Sorry, roomie!

6) Your significant other is your roommate. Pass the condom bag every day, several times a day.

7) That supply of yours ran out (pound it). But hey, you're getting lucky tonight.

So, what were your answers? They should have been 3, 5 and 7. Those are all really good reasons to drop by the condom bag and grab one or two. If you chose 1,2,4, or 6 however, you were mistaken.

You see, I get condoms from Health Services in massive quantities, and use that supply to keep our floor supplied. As much as I like it when the people in health services stare at me and think that I'm some sort of legend when I grab condoms by the boatload, it's sort of inconvenient to go there every other week. If you really go through condoms faster than Wile E Coyote goes through Acme catalogs, then you should drop by health services yourself for the free condoms. They're the exact same, I swear. The fact that I have touched them won't make them any better, nor will it increase your chances. So spread the word. Pass this email along to any of those jerks from other floors that I've seen stealing the condoms, too.

Your RA. 

Anyway, let me know if you'd like to hear more about my RA exploits. As soon as I get a bit more time in my schedule, I'll be posting more regularly. Hope all is well!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Conversations with a Floridian

So I was in upstate New York over this past weekend. Now, upstate New York is dangerously close to Canadia (In case you haven't read about my previous misadventures in Canada, see here or here). Right after maple syrup and hockey players with missing teeth, cold air is Canada's primary export, which means that areas by the border are pretty darn cold. Fortunately, I believe that the Canadian cold-weather gnomes were on strike (probably because they weren't given their maple syrup allotment), because this weekend was pretty warm.

Not that it being warm or cold makes much difference in how I dress (i.e. like a colorblind hobo). But really, there is rarely any correlation between  how much clothing I'm wearing and what the temperature outside is. Sometimes this works well for me. I'd say that about once a day, I overhear a beautiful woman say "Look at that underdressed doofus. That's way hot."*
*This is exactly as true as you think it is.

So no shit, there I was in upstate New York on a lake, beautiful day, and I wasn't wearing much (ladies...) As could be expected, this stopped the ladies from talking to me, but I was approached by an incredulous Floridian.

"Dude, you're crazy. It's freezing, how are you wearing so little?"
I shrugged. "I dunno, I don't think it's too cold."
"You're crazy man. I'm freezing, and I'm wearing way more than you are"
"No, you're crazy. You live in Florida. Have you thought about that? Alligators live there. It's not meant for human habitation. The only reason anyone went there in the first place is because some guy who was trippin' thought he would find a fountain of youth there. The average age of state residents is definitive proof that the Ponce de Leon was as crazy as his name suggested."

That frightened him off for a bit, mostly because he didn't know how to reply to my accusations. But really, the amusing part of this came on Sunday. We were on the water again. It was actually a bit warmer than it was on Saturday, but like I said, that has no meaning on what I wear. I know how to keep it classy, so I was rocking socks and sandals. Mr. Florida came up to me again, and started staring at my feet.

"Dude. Are those socks made of wool?"

I quickly evaluated what was happening.
1) He's hitting on me. Footwear is always how it starts. Probability this was the case: 25%
2) He's a fashion designer, and is really into my style. Probability this was the case: 0.1%
3) He has it in for sheep. Anything that makes them uncomfortable is a good thing. Probability this was the case: 0.9%
4) He was legitimately curious about my socks. Probability this was the case: 74%

"Um, yeah. Yeah, they are."
"That's awesome. I've heard people rave about wool. Is it really good?"

This was where I broke out laughing. Not to be mean, but seriously? I briefly considered that this was some religious thing, maybe like a rabbi asking "Are you eating bacon? I've heard people rave about it. Is it really good?"

But no. Turns out wool had never touched his skin. The natural material that comes from sheep. That we've had for thousands of years. Is this for real? Apparently, it is. People from Florida need to be exposed to the outside world. Perhaps they can organize a study overseas program in Canadia.

Hope all is well guys. Sorry for the lack of posting, there's a lot of outside pressure telling me that I need to do work, but hey. You all know my philosophy on working.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to be Amusingly Incompetent

It's no secret that the trick to never being asked to do work is to be stupendously incompetent. Like, really, really incapable off doing anything right. Ever.  Unfortunately, that's not necessarily the best way to keep friends. If all you do is mess up everything you touch, no one is going to want to have anything to do with you. 
That TPS report looked like it was filled out by someone ass-backwards with their head not screwed on properly. Don't ever talk to me again.
 That's why it's important to be amusingly incompetent. Yes, you will still be messing up everything that you touch, but, with practice, you will be doing it in a way that makes you endearing to the people who need to correct what you have destroyed. 
Hey guys? Can we just agree that I shouldn't be allowed near any of the tools ever again?
 For some of us, this comes naturally. Otherwise, you will need to work at this if you hope to ever have any free time in your life. Being incompetent is generally easier to perfect. If you have trouble with this, the best place to start is just by turning things in late. Then, with all the time you gained by extending the deadline, you can work on the amusing part of the equation. 

To make sure that you stay amusing in your incompetence, here are a few tips.

1) Make sure you stay good-natured. Foul-mouthed and incompetent is not endearing. 
Monkey balls! I dropped that dip-shit heavy package off the fuckin' cliff again!
2) Never make fun of someone else for being incompetent. Although it may seem like a good distraction technique, and it may get you a laugh, remember that it will ultimately remind people how incompetent you are. Besides, depending on the situation, this may backfire horribly.
"Ha! He'll never cut anything with that axe technique, the incompetent fool!"
"Whoops. He had that coming though, right?"
"Totally. Anyway, what are you doing after work?"
 3) Be self aware. Everyone knows you can't do shit, so it shouldn't be surprising to you. That's why it's endearing. You know you're useless, and you want to be helpful, but you just don't know how. 

Don't do this:
"Hey guys, check out how red I can make my face!"
"Ya mind helpin' out, you useless jerk?"
Instead, try this:
"I'll just help out from this side, guys! Squeeze when you're ready!"
"Oh, sweet Jesus, get him away from there. Can someone distract him with food?"
Amusing incompetence has mixed results for papers, however, as evidenced by the comment I got back from this end of term paper.
Considering what I would have gotten if I tried, a ?+ isn't too bad.
I have taught you all that I know about shirking work. Use it well, young slacker. 
Hope all is well with you, dear readers.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Being Funny

These past couple of days, I've really stopped being funny. This may confuse you; you're probably thinking "But Brendan, how can you stop being funny if you never started in the first place?" That's fine, go ahead and think that, but please don't ask me out loud, otherwise I'll go whimper in a corner someplace.

So tonight, instead of me being funny, I'd like to let someone else be funny for a change. Normally if I'm in a conversation and another person is attempting to be the funny-man, I try to hurt him by making him look like a loser so that I can look cool in comparison. Sarcasm coupled with a discreet kick to the shin is my favorite strategy. But I'll let my jealousy go this time and admit that this is a really funny video that Connor and his friends put together. So thanks, Connor, for sending this! Hope you enjoy it.

Embryo Pilot

So I hope all is well, and I'll try to revert to being funny soon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tattoos to Make You Rich

I don't want to brag too much*, but the reason I'm not a millionaire is because I don't want to be. Really, I have these brilliant ideas all the time that could make fortunes*, but I rarely act on them. Mostly it's because I feel that my thought-inventions are just too far ahead of the time.The last time that I tried to introduce one of my ideas into the culinary world proved that I really am too far ahead of everyone to be successful. Blueberry Hamburgers will have their day yet, mark my words. 
*This is a blatant lie. 

Anyway, I'd like to share an idea with you, you brilliant-invention-stealer you, so that you can make your fortune. So here's the problem my invention solves: You want a tattoo, but are afraid that in more formal situations, it might reflect poorly on you. The real issue here is that it is difficult to be taken seriously when you have something that essentially says "Born to party/Born an Idiot" in plain view*.

*The real issue for me is that it's difficult to be taken seriously after anyone sees this blog. Not that I ever want to be taken seriously though, so it's ok.

For example...
It just so happened that a car with a flame job was outside the tattoo parlor, and I thought to myself "If flame jobs make cars cooler, they can probably do the same to people!" Please don't have any doubts about hiring me.
Is that what the Pen 15 club means? I was under the impression that this was my initiation fee for a club in which I would receive 15 free pens every month...
"I certainly think I'd be good for this firm. As you can see, my commitment to the survival of the panda bear is something I feel very strongly about. Of course this isn't mickey mouse." 

It's true, I went through a more extreme pirate phase than most people, but don't worry.  This rogue's raping and pillaging days are over for good.

Clearly, you wouldn't want to have much to do with anyone who is displaying any of these birthday-suit stains while the sun is shining, but chances are good you'd want to party with them for a bit. So get your notepads ready, entrepreneurs, here's the idea: black-light tattoos. 

That's right. A tattoo that only comes out under black-lights. This would easily make you the coolest person at any black-light party, or potentially in some bowling alleys at certain times. And what's more, you would never need to bother hiding it in public, because any time there are black-lights around, chances are good that it's socially acceptable to have a tattoo.You could look like mild-mannered Clark Kent by day and hard-rocking Gene Simmons by night, and your boss would never know. 

So please, if you have the know-how, go ahead and invent this. And if you have any ideas for great things to get black-light tattoos of, leave them as a comment.

By the way, many of you have come up to me and complimented me on my blog. Let it be known that comments like that make my day. Let me know what thoughts you have, and if you can, become a follower. It means a lot to me to know that I'm not the only one laughing at this, even if I'm the one laughing the most.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Introducing Milton

So a week or so ago, I was given a great responsibility. You see, a friend of mine thought she was going to have to inconvenience me, and she felt appropriately bad about it. Ultimately, it turned out that everything was going to be ok, and that I wouldn't be inconvenienced in the slightest. However, before we reached that stage, she decided to apologize to me by giving me a gift: a new friend. Well, at least, that's how I saw it. I think she thought she was giving me a plant.

At first, I was excited.  However, I soon realized that this friendship was a great responsibility. Milton, as I named him, requires a good deal of sunlight, being a succulent (as I learned from the label on his pot). My room, luxurious though it is, faces north, and thus does not provide Milton with the sunlight he needs to thrive. Within a few days, I was feeing pretty stressed about the burden his friendship placed on me. I felt guilty for having taken on a responsibility to care for a friend I could not provide for. I could tell that Milton spent a lot of time pining for the great outdoors.
Milton longing for the sunlight he cannot have. In this way, he's a lot like Birdman.
I realized that Milton wasn't going to be happy in our relationship unless I started seeing him outside of my room. So I've begun taking Milton for walks. 
It looks like a coffee cup, but it's just a little too leafy to be java.
I won't lie, I was a little bit self conscious about hanging out with Milton in public at the beginning. A lot of times, I would pretend that I wasn't friends with him.
Whoever that is, he certainly doesn't know what that plant is doing there.
I eventually got over it though, and started talking to him in public. This has ended up working really well for me; he's a great listener, and also gives really good advice.
Me: So, there's this girl I really like, but I don't know what to do.
Milton: Ok, first, you're going to need to find a honey bee. Or you could wait for the wind, if you're patient.
Still, I wish he was better at interacting with his own kind. He always seems a bit removed from other plants, and I worry that he just doesn't fit in with trees, despite how hard he tries.
So, uh... What are you doing next time it rains?
So that's Milton. I'll probably be spending a lot of time with him this semester, so if you see me out and about with him, drop by and introduce yourself. No one will think the worse of you for talking to plants. You'll just be grouped in the same region as people who talk to their fish and me.

Anyway, sorry for the lack of posting recently. I've been really busy (this doesn't sound right when I say it), but I'll try to ignore my work more effectively in the future. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Subterranean Transportation Hesitations

Everyone who has been in New York City knows that the subway is a part of life in the city. I try to avoid it as often as possible for a variety of reasons, but most of all because of a phobia I've had since I was little. I really blame my dad for this phobia. Actually, I blame my dad for most of the of seemingly irrational phobias I have, which, taken together, make me demonstrably neurotic. But this one in particular, which is unfortunate, because it's really a serious issue that comes up often in city life.

The situation would always go something like this.

I'd be standing on the platform just minding my own business.
Mistake no. 1: Standing too close to the edge.
Now, there's normally a wait for the subway, so there I would be, bored and blending into the scenery. I'd grab something to read to pass the time while waiting for the train.
Mistake no. 2: Introducing a distraction.
The real issue is that, important person that I am, it's likely that I've attracted the attention of someone who really has it in for me. I don't know how, maybe I flashed money unknowingly.

Mistake no. 3: Showing off a dime. EVERYONE wants dimes.
Alternatively, I imagine some sort of time-travelling situation in which someone from the future has been sent to prevent me from doing something great. Of course, having perfected time travel, these ne'er-do-gooders think that a subway accident would be the best way to get rid of me. Anyway, this is the hooligan whose attention I have now grabbed.

A common thug, surveying the scene to make sure there are no witnesses.
So this is what it comes down to. I'm reading my paper, a train is coming. Life is good. I will soon be several stations away. Then, this happens.
Mistake no. 4: Allowing yourself to be pushed into the way of an oncoming subway. This is the most serious mistake as of yet.
And the last thing that was ever seen of me would be this.
Mistake no. 5: Not getting between the tracks and allowing the subway to roll safely overhead. And no, that is not a safety harness made out of thread.
So there you have it. I don't like taking the subway, because I'm convinced strangers want nothing more than to give me a hearty shove in the back into oncoming trains. But if you are alert like me, you can avoid this unfortunate happening by keeping your back against the wall from the moment you set foot into a subway station.