Monthly Archives: May 2013

You leave a pie on the windowsill, someone’s going to take it

A couple of weeks ago I was walking down this street by my house when I caught a really great smell. I looked around and pinpointed where the aroma was coming from. About two houses down, this lady was setting a pie out on her windowsill. I couldn’t believe it. This was like something out of a movie. People actually do this in real life? They actually leave pies out to cool?

I had to have it. I thought, I’ve seen this go down in old-time movies, the lady leaves the pie out, they cut to a guy walking down the street, me, I start licking my lips, my mouth watering, salivating with animal desire, and then I’m carefully sneaking up to the window, making sure nobody’s looking, I snatch the pie and make a run for it. Then they’ll cut back to the empty window, that lady will kind of look around and scratch her head in confusion, now where could I have left that pie?

Why not? You know what’s more American than homemade apple pie? Taking a freshly baked apple pie from some lady’s window. I walked right up and grabbed it, which, I found out immediately, it was a huge mistake. No wonder she had put it out to cool. This thing was red hot. Every once in a while I’ll be working at the restaurant, and I’ll watch the cooks, maybe from like years of handling hot dishes, they’re able to pick up anything with their bare leather hands.

And I’ll be like, well, if they can do it, I can do it too. And so I’ll grab a plate and it’s really hot and I’ll drop it immediately. You think you can will your body to ignore the pain, to just muscle through it, but there’s always a point where your hand just lets go immediately. So I had this pie and it was really hot and I though, OK, I better put this down right away.

I didn’t have much time, so I kind of just dropped it down at my feet. I didn’t know what to do, so I took off my shirt and used it as a potholder and picked it up. But this was like not part of my plan at all. I wanted a quick getaway. Instead, here I was still standing at this lady’s window, shirtless. “Hey!” I heard her scream at me, “What are you doing? Give me that pie!”

And so I freaked out and ran. I ran like three blocks, still no shirt on, holding this pie in my hands. I had no idea where to go. This never happened in the old movies. There was a really small park like three blocks away, and so I found some bench sort of out of the way and sat down to figure out my next move. I finally got a good look at the pie. It was definitely blueberry or cherry, some sort of small, jammy fruit. The filling was bubbling out of the sides still, and maybe because I aggravated it by too suddenly dropping it to the ground, it was kind of oozing out of one side, getting all over my shirt.

How would I even go about trying to eat this thing? I didn’t have any utensils, nothing. And like I’ve said already, it was really, really hot. And then I started to feel bad, like really bad, overwhelmingly guilty. What had I just done, really? In my insane impulse to replicate a snippet of Americana that I’m not even sure if I was remembering correctly, I’d gone ahead and probably ruined this lady’s day.

I’m no novice. I know what it takes to make a fresh pie, from scratch. Just getting the crust right is a pretty significant challenge, chilling the butter, working with it fast enough so that you can form a decent crust without the whole thing melting apart. It’s doable, you know, like anything you get better with practice, but I looked at this pie, it definitely had that rustic appeal. Maybe this lady was like seriously depressed, and so she picked up pie baking as a new hobby, something to keep her mind of the debilitating numbness crippling her everyday life. And maybe all of her pies had thus far been unsuccessful, maybe this was her first real triumph.

And as she set that first really good pie on the windowsill she thought, maybe life isn’t so bad after all, maybe things will get better. And then just as she turned around I came up and took it. I fumbled it. I ran. I started to feel even worse. I looked at the pie tray. It wasn’t one of those disposable foil trays. This was nice. It looked like it had a history. Maybe it was her mother’s. Maybe she found it while she was mourning her loss and thought, hey, pie baking, I’ll pick that up in honor of mom’s life. This’ll help me get through it. And so not only did I rob this lady of her pie, of her time spent baking the pie, but now her pie tray is gone too, how would I get it back to her?

I was feeling bad for a while, sitting there in the park, the breeze against my bare chest, sad. But then I thought, wait a second, why was she leaving this pie unattended? Why didn’t she have any screens for her window? Who leaves food right in an open entryway to their house? That’s an invitation for bugs, for rodents, cat and raccoons even. No, I did her an indirect favor. She wouldn’t make that mistake again. And there’d be much less likely of a chance at any infestation now that …

“Hey! You!” someone yelled at me, interrupted my thought.

“That’s him officer! And that’s my pie!”

I turned around. It was the lady. Somehow she found a cop, and somehow they found me here. I didn’t know what to do. I panicked. I went to pick up the pie to hand it back to her, to say that I’m sorry, that that was a crazy thing that I did, that I was just about to bring it back. But I forgot how hot the pie was, so when I picked it up I got that slow burn, until finally I couldn’t hold it in. I screamed, “Yow!” and I threw the pie to the ground, and this time it was totally destroyed. I looked back up at the cop and the lady, I couldn’t think of anything to say, and I just ran. And I’m a really good runner, very fast, a lot of endurance, and just took off, zigzagging through random streets, careful not to lead them back to my house, and I did it, I lost them.

My 365th Post!

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Strictly Autobiographical. Last May, I dazzled readers across the globe with my award winning first post, My First Post! Even back then on day one, I knew that it was going to be the start of something big, something tremendous. And so as soon as I finished writing that first post, I immediately started writing this, the 365th post. I got a little confused, like, I started on May 21st, so shouldn’t I be celebrating tomorrow? But that would be the 366th post. I’m confused. Did we have a leap year this year? Whatever, I’ll celebrate again tomorrow. Here’s what I wrote:

Hello everybody! Thanks for reading. I can only imagine that by this time next year my life will have changed so dramatically that anybody I currently deal with on a day-to-day basis, you’ll all be forgotten, out of sight, out of mind. Whatever I found in common with you back then I’ll struggle to think about now, to make any connection as to how I could have ever even been talking down to your level. But don’t take it personally. Just because I’m not speaking with any of you anymore doesn’t mean you can’t still keep up with me, with my writing, with this blog.

I figure that the runaway success of my writing will have changed me initially, I’ll quit my job, burn all of my bridges, and embark on some sort of a massive writing tour, but after a couple of weeks I’ll get my wits about me, I’ll hunker down, and I’ll write even more, propelling myself to as of yet unreached writerly achievements.

What was it like to know me before I single-handedly beat the Internet? Were you a witness to my ascent to superstardom? Are you jealous of everything that I’ve accomplished? Did you ask me for money? Did I say no? Listen, I’ve thought about this, but just because I’m definitely going to be making ungodly amounts of cash, it doesn’t mean I’ll just be able to hand out donations to all of my former friends and family members. Sorry, it’s just that, you know once my writing really takes off, what are we going to have left in common? No, I’ll be on the lookout for new friends and family members, intellectual equals, people who truly get what I’m writing about, not just mindlessly consuming it with neither the intelligence nor the sense of humor to actually grasp what it is that I’m doing.

Future generations!

OK, I’m going to stop it right there. Maybe I got a little carried away on day one. It goes on like that for another two or three thousand words, but it’s all getting at the same stuff, your typical delusions of grandeur.

But now that I’m somewhat grounded back to reality, I’ve got to say, I’m having a lot of fun putting this nonsense on the Internet. It gives me something to do every day. Through the daily practice of writing, I’ve found my mind is almost constantly trying to find subject matter, looking for tiny bits of humor or observation in the most mundane of activities. And through this process, I’ve noticed myself becoming more aware of my life, of the world. Even if nothing comes of this little project, it’s definitely been personally rewarding.

And it’s also like, a year ago, I was definitely more self-conscious about what I’d post. I would scrutinize all of my ideas, being way too critical of myself and my writing. But now I’m almost totally desensitized. I’ll just write about whatever and it feels natural. So in a way I’ve gotten past something, some sort of unwillingness to put myself out there.

That’s it. I know it’s really cheesy, but I thought I’d give myself a little pat on the back here after making it through an entire year without having missed a single day. So that’s what this is, a nice victory lap.

I originally started this blog as a hundred year project, and I’m assuming that science and technology will progress to the point where I won’t have to worry about surviving through to its completion. Part one is behind me. I’m one percent there. Year thirty-seven is going to be pretty lame, but it’s going to pick up steam around years forty or forty-one.

And mom, thanks for reading.

I sent a friend request to Andre

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, about positivity, about being positive and staying positive and doing and thinking positive things. It’s been a journey, a real journey, deep within, I’m accessing like universal things here, about humanity, about positivity, words like oneness and the universe and consciousness. It’s a real spiritual awakening here, and so it came to me, not really like an epiphany, because it wasn’t just one thing, but a lot of epiphanies, not little epiphanies, but big epiphanies, one after the other, and so everything’s constantly changing.

And so I thought about Andre. We kept butting heads, reaching out, pulling back, ultimately it got to the point where we lost all contact with each other. Our friendship was all but destroyed, almost like it never existed in the first place. But it did exist, I think, and so as I continued deeper and deeper on my spiritual cosmic journey of universal self-discovery, I felt like there was something holding me back, preventing me from achieving that real oneness. It was Andre.

I resolved to make things right between us, to absolve the stain from our shared history, make true amends. I sent him a friend request on Facebook. I was the one who severed that digital tie months ago. We had this botched fishing trip and when I got home I removed him from my friend list that night.

But a day passed. And then another day. And Andre didn’t accept. I sent him a text message, “Yo, u get my friend request?” with no response. I tried clicking on his profile, but only very limited information was available to non-friends. So I asked our shared friends, a group that, to be honest, I’d kind of lost touch with over the past year. I really just stopped taking most phone calls from those guys. I didn’t want it to be weird, if the both of us showed up, Andre and me, ruining everybody else’s good time.

My friend Tony filled me in, told me that Andre joined the Air Force, that he left like six months ago. They had a big party, this huge send off. Was I even invited? I could feel my grip on the positivity starting to slip. “But hey,” Tony told me, “He’s coming back earlier than expected. He got wounded, and so he had to be discharged. We’re all having a huge welcome home party this Thursday. You should come. Nobody’s seen you in forever.”

I felt like a huge dick, like I’d alienated all of my friends, like I’ve been spending so much time on my positivity training that I had totally lost touch with everybody. And yeah, I wasn’t on speaking terms with Andre, but I would have come to his send off. Come on, they should have reached out; I would have been there for him.

I showed up on Thursday and everybody was huddled around this one stool by the bar. I only saw the top of Andre’s head because he was sitting down. All of these crazy thoughts went through my head, like what were the extent of Andre’s injuries? Did he have all of his limbs? Would he still recognize me?

But then he got up off the stool, like stood up by himself, and he turned around to order another drink. That’s when we made eye contact. I went up to him, I told him, “Hey man, sorry it’s been so long. I sent you a Facebook friend request.”

“Thanks man,” he said. That was it, which was good, because normally he’d say something like, “That’s big of you,” and whatever, we’ve always, or I’ve always had this who’s-the-bigger-person complex, but it’s all silly, it doesn’t matter. This guy’s a vet now, he’s totally the bigger person.

And so I threw in a, “Thanks for your service Andre,” and he kind of shrugged, “You know, just trying to do my part,” and he just sort of looked down at his shoes. “So what happened?” I asked, “Why’d you get sent home?” and he looked up and said, “My injury.” I was like, “Yeah, is it bad? Did you get wounded in a conflict?”

He shook his head, “No, I was just getting all of this back pain during training, so before we got shipped out, they sent me home.” Just then our friend Hank, he shouted out to the whole bar, “Hey let’s welcome back our good friend Andre, a real American hero!” and everybody started cheering. Andre did a casual salute to the bar and everyone went nuts.

“So,” I tried to bring him back to our conversation, “you never even really went?” “No, I went, I just, you know, I’m injured.”

“Three cheers for Andre!”

“Hip hip, hooray!”

And I felt myself drifting slightly from my spiritual center, and I was about to say something, I had that look on my face, like, are you serious? And you’re going to stand here and take this hero’s welcome? I didn’t say it, but I didn’t have to, because, like I said, I was making that kind of weird skeptical face.

“Well what about the friend request? Are you going to accept it?” and he said, “OK, sure,” and he took out his phone right there and accepted it, but when he exited the Facebook app, right before he put his phone away, I looked toward his text message notifications, and I wanted to check his messages, to see if he ignored that text message I sent him, so I said, “Do you mind if I borrow your phone for a second?” and he just said, “What? Uh, hold on, I have to go to the bathroom,” and when he came back he didn’t mention the phone thing, didn’t mention the text message.

The rest of the night went by without incident. When I got home, I went onto Facebook and Andre was back on my news feed. He wrote, “Glad to be home! Thanks everybody for coming out! War is hell!” and like three of our friends responded, stuff like, “USA! USA! USA!”

I really miss Jersey Shore

The other night at the restaurant one of my coworkers said to me, “Hey Rob, check out table six. It’s like Jersey Shore over there,” and I was like, “Huh? What?” and he was like, “Table six. Jersey Shore,” and I did what I always do when I don’t understand something for the second time in a row, I fake a smile, totally pretending that not only did I understand, but I really got it, and I start like nodding in approval, maybe throwing in a convincing fake laugh.

But it bugged me, not getting what he was talking about, so I took a stroll by table six and I saw them, the customers, the giant haircuts, the bronzed skin, the Ed Hardy t-shirts. And I was like, oh, Jersey Shore, GTL, cabs are here, t-shirt time, smush room, Jersey Shore. So I smiled to myself, because I got it, I got what my coworker was talking about. I always like knowing what’s going on, getting people’s jokes. But then I got really sad, because why didn’t I get that joke immediately? Are we that far removed from Jersey Shore already? Since when did Pauly D and the gang become completely irrelevant?

jersey shore

It feels like it was just yesterday, MTV started this new reality show that turned into a cultural phenomenon almost overnight. Everybody was talking about Snooki, about the Situation, about these seven Italian Americans sharing a small house right on the beach. The New York Times, The New Yorker, all of my favorite newspapers and magazines were printing write-ups on the show’s success, examining its impact on our culture, exploring the myriad ways in which this unique group of people liked to party and show off on TV.

They went to the gym. That was something they did. Although the Situation claimed his abs were the highlight of the group’s physical fitness, none of them were really out of shape, and Ronnie was bigger than the Incredible Hulk. They tanned. That was another thing they did. They tanned on the beach, they supplemented their natural vitamin D intake by spending time at tanning salons. They did their laundry, like every day. When they said “fresh to death,” they meant it, like I think it was kind of a threat, a way of saying, if these t-shirts aren’t fresh, we’ll kill you.

And now it’s over. It’s beyond over. The Jersey Shore sensation burnt so bright yet so fast that there’s nothing left. Which is kind of sad. Is this how life gets? You get older, things get cool, but then all of the sudden they’re not cool, and you’re stuck here on your computer, thinking about when it was cool, wondering, is it me? Am I just not getting it?

For a while I thought it was just going to be this never ending ride straight up, getting better and better each season. They went to Jersey. They went to Miami. Back to Jersey. Italy. Holy shit Italy was awesome. Remember that time Sammy punched Ronnie in the face? “Are you friends with her?” “Yes.” Punch. That wasn’t like a frustrated little slap. That was like, I’m looking for a specific answer from you, I’m also conscious of the fact that everything we say and do is being filmed, yet I cannot contain the rage boiling inside, and so I’m going to punch you in the face as hard as I can.

Man, I haven’t thought about Jersey Shore in probably close to a year now. The theme song started playing in my head, “Get crazy, get wild,” but that was it. I think I forgot the rest of the lyrics already. “If you wanna have fun we’ll do something …” was that it? Really?

Are they still technically famous? How long do you have to be out of the public eye to not be considered famous anymore? If Vinnie, or even better, if Angelina were to come into my restaurant, would anybody say anything? Would she say anything? Would she act like a celebrity? Man, that’s got to be tough, to be the focus of such intense public scrutiny, and then like two years later it’s just back to being some regular person.

They’ve got to bring it back. They should do it sooner rather than later. The whole series was never given a chance to rest and mature while it was popular. They were sent from city to city, chasing summers around the globe, unrelenting in their partying. Usually it takes like ten years for a reunion to come up, naturally, organically, but I don’t think we need that with Jersey Shore. It’s been a year, everybody forgot about them, and TV is suffering. The Jersey Shore is trying to bounce back from the hurricane, right? What better way to introduce the comeback than by getting the gang back together?

If not then, guys, does anybody want to hang out sometime? I’m down to party, you know, now that you’re not famous anymore. It’s not weird for me to ask, right? Now that you’re just regular? Let’s do it, I’ll buy some beer, I have Can Jam, that would be fun, right? Guys?

Movie Review: Star Trek: Into Darkness

What can I say? Star Trek: Into Darkness is a great movie. Sure, I’m totally biased. I love the Star Trek franchise. One of my earliest memories is watching a Next Generation episode when I was four years old. I think I can safely say that I’ve seen every episode of every series in the canon. I’ve read countless lame Star Trek novels. If a madman pun a gun to my wife’s head and said, “Never watch Star Trek ever again, or your wife gets it,” well, sorry babe, but you having to exist with me unable to watch Star Trek, that’s not a life that you’re going to want to live. I’d be doing you a favor.


Having said all of that, I think that I’m even more qualified to judge this film, because my standards for Star Trek are so high. I used to watch brand new Star Trek, or some incarnation of it, every single week from when I was a little kid, with The Next Generation continuing into Deep Space Nine, to Voyager, and then finally to Enterprise. If the powers-that-be are going to make me wait three years for one two-and-a-half hour dose of Trek, it had better be fantastic.

And it is. It’s great. I don’t want to say anything about anything. Do what I did. Don’t read anything about the plot, nothing. If you see a commercial on TV, turn it off. If you’re out and the trailer starts playing on some screen in the background, close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears and start screaming, “I’m not listening! I’m not listening! Lalalalalalaaaa!” Just go see the movie and let the story carry you past light speed, all the way to warp nine point three.

I’m not even exaggerating. Sitting there in the theater watching everything play out, I felt like my circulatory system had been replaced with a series of warp coils, that instead of a heart everything was running on a dilithium-based matter-antimatter reaction. You know that feeling when you see something really cool or moving and you get goose bumps across your entire body? That’s what the whole film was for me. The previews ended, Into Darkness started rolling, and it was just all goose bumps, unrelenting, beginning to end. My skin actually kind of hurts still.

But it was worth it. In fact, I’d sacrifice far more than some mild dermal discomfort to enjoy such a work of brilliance. That’s cheesy, but what else can I call it? It was brilliant. The sound effects alone, how does something at once sound so modern while maintaining its distinctly retro theme? It’s the same with the scenery, the lighting, the tech. It’s how I imagine the future to look like, not like something cooked up from scratch, but a century or two of constant addition to our existing society.

And this movie isn’t just cool, it’s really cool, it’s poignant, it’s relevant. It tackles big issues, without an ounce of subtlety, of course, but that’s what Star Trek has always been about. It’s taking large societal problems and saying something about them with aliens and sci-fi. Like who can forget that original series episode where the two guys are half-black, half-white? It’s the 1960s, so here’s an alien racism themed story.

There’s nothing I can say negative about Into Darkness. My only observation would be that Zachary Quinto, in an effort to channel Mr. Spock, missed the mark slightly and wound up embodying Tuvok, the Vulcan chief of security on Voyager. Anybody with me on that one?

Also, again, go see the movie, but be prepared to sit in a theater full of guys and girls that, based on appearance alone, clearly love Star Trek. (Obviously I’m not talking about me. I was the exception. When I tell people I love Star Trek they’re like, no way Rob, how is that possible? You’re so cool!”)

Finally, and this has nothing to do with the movie, but I got really thirsty right before the previews started rolling, so I snuck out to the concession area to buy a drink. The line was long and the employees don’t get paid enough to do their job fast, so I had to watch the same disinterested routine over and over again.

“Medium soda please.”

“Would you like to buy a large soda for fifty cents extra?”


“Six fifty.”

Hands over seven bucks.

“Would you like to donate one dollar to cancer?”


Makes change.

“Would you like to donate these two quarters to cancer?”


Every single customer, every single time. I have nothing against donating money, whatever. But seriously, why don’t you give a dollar to cancer, Regal Theaters? The movie was like fifteen bucks. You just charged me another seven for a bucket of sugar water. And you want my spare change? You want even more money? Stop harassing me! Call of your dogs! This is extortion!