Monthly Archives: January 2014

I’m still half asleep

I’m having one of these days where, despite the fact that I slept a solid eight hours last night, I can’t seem to really wake up. Right now, I’m writing this sentence, it’s taking me about ten percent of everything that I’ve got to string these words together, all while the other ninety percent is fighting this huge battle just to keep my eyes from closing shut under their own weight. Every time I blink, I’m getting more and more worried that I’m not going to be able to muster the energy necessary to open them back up.

I don’t know how to explain it. Like I said, last night’s sleep was pretty decent. It was better than decent. But waking up was such a struggle. If I didn’t have to use the bathroom, I’d probably still be laying there, comatose, deaf to the sounds of my alarm clock ringing in the periphery of my consciousness.

I struggled to my feet. I went downstairs and thought, coffee, I need coffee. That’ll wake me up. And I made a pot, I drank like three cups. I felt the caffeine doing something, my heart rate picked up, my leg started tapping violently against the floor. But I still wanted to go back to bed.

So I did, I closed my eyes thinking, all I have to do is lay down for a little bit, and once my brain realizes that, thanks to all of that coffee, I won’t be able to go back to sleep, it’ll have no choice but to fully wake up and commit to getting this day started. But then I looked at my phone and it was eleven-thirty.

I’m still tired. At this point I’ve had probably over ten hours of non-consecutive sleep, but I still feel like I could hit the pillow and be good for the rest of the day. I’m getting flashbacks of high school here. I’m having physical memories of what my body felt like all throughout my adolescence.

There wouldn’t be a single day where I’d get eight hours of sleep. It was always this huge fight to get up in the morning. My parents would have to scream me awake. And I’m not trying to say that my parents were being overly harsh or anything, but it was the only way I’d get out of bed. I imagine it to be what people feel like coming to after having been trapped in a really long coma. I’d hear voices, I’d have this vague knowledge that my time for sleeping had come to an end, but I couldn’t really do much more than turn over, let out a muffled, “All right! OK! I’m up!” lying through my teeth, hoping that my parents would leave me alone for another two or three minutes of precious sleep.

And then I’d finally stand up, I’d go to the bathroom and take a shower. Sometimes I’d fall asleep sitting on the side of the tub waiting for the water to get hot. Other times I’d go through my whole morning routine, I’d brush my teeth, get dressed, and head downstairs for breakfast, all before blinking and realizing that I had never really gotten up in the first place, that my whole morning had thus far been a dream.

I always hate it when I hear certain people talk about how they only need four or five hours a night. They’ve got to be lying. Every once in a while I’ll have to get up for something really early, and I’ll have one of those four or five hour nights. I feel like I’m half dead, like I’m pissed off, my eyes want nothing more than to stay shut, and every instinct is telling me to look for the nearest cushion, somewhere where I can curl up into the fetal position and remain there unconscious for the next three or four hours.

I’ve got to go to work tonight. I know exactly how it’s going to go down. I’m going to drag my feet through the whole shift, just trying my best to get through the night without anybody commenting about how slow I’m moving, or that I look really beat. And then around an hour before closing, I’m going to get a kick of energy. For some reason, my body is going to decide at around ten or eleven that now is a good time to snap into action.

And I’ll be screwed. I’ll go home and I’ll be wired, unable to relax, incapable of doing the one thing that I wanted so desperately to do all day long, to go to sleep. It’s going to affect tomorrow’s wake-up time, it’s never going to stop. I’m going to be half-asleep for the rest of my life.

Don’t be the person that orders fries with no salt

I come across the same tip every once in a while on the Internet: If you go to McDonald’s, ask for your fries with no salt. That way, they have to make a fresh batch, guaranteeing that your fries won’t be sitting around under the heat lamp, that each French fry you put in your mouth will be as made-to-order as possible.


But what about the seasoning? Won’t plain French fries taste a little bland? Easy, the hint goes on, once you get your super-fresh French fries, you just add your own salt. Bam, you just hacked McDonald’s, you cracked the fast-food code.

Every time I read this advice, because it always pops up, people think they’re being so smart, beating the system, I always get pissed off. Because you’re not beating the system. You’re throwing a wrench in it. And nobody’s benefiting, not even you.

Let’s talk about you. “No salt on those fries.” You know what you just did? You just added like five minutes to your wait time, not to mention all of the people behind you in line, watching you as you stand to the side of the register, they’re not ordering, even though you already ordered. Because you’re not moving. You’re just standing there. Everybody’s getting annoyed, nobody knows what’s going on. They don’t understand that you’re waiting for some ridiculous side-item special request.

Then you get your fries. “Whatever,” you’re saying, “I don’t care about the extra wait time, because it’s all worth it, fresh, hot fries.” And yes, everybody agrees that hot fries are better, right out of the deep fryer, they’re perfectly crisp on the outside with that almost creamy potato interior.

But you’re not getting that maximum fry experience, because they didn’t add salt. You think you’re somehow gaming the system by just sprinkling it on at the table, but you’re cheating yourself out of what should be the perfectly seasoned French fry. You ever see just how those fries are made? The fry cook takes the basket out of the fryer, gives the whole thing a few shakes to get rid of any excess oil, and then immediately applies the salt.

This is what you’re not getting. It’s an immediate application of salt. They have a giant shaker, like it has its own handle. And that salt they use, it’s not your average table salt. This stuff is super fine, it’s distributed evenly throughout the broad salt shaker opening, dispersing in a briny cloud, perfectly and evenly coating every inch of those fries.

And this is done as it’s being shaken. So you think about your fries, your super fresh, made-to-order fries. By the time you get them to wherever it is that you’re going to apply your own salt, those things have already cooled down. Sure, it’s only been a minute or two, tops, but that’s all it takes. You’re going to open up your salt packets and empty it on top. Guess what? Most of that salt is going to bounce off of the fries and land at the bottom of the bag. You need that ultra hot coating of right-out-of-the-fryer cooking oil. When that industrial salt shaker does its magic on the fries, immediately upon emerging from the cooker, the salt dissolves on contact with each piece. Plus you add the wrist-action, the up-and-down flicking of the basket, it’s like the salt becomes one with the potato, there’s not a spot that’s not perfectly seasoned.

I get this all the time at my restaurant also, “Let me get those fries with no salt.” And then I watch as their food comes out, they immediately grab the salt shaker, they’re shaking it up and down over each French fry, like, I wish I didn’t have to do this for each bite, but someone along the course of my life told me this trick about ordering fries with no salt, and even though it’s clearly an inferior way of ordering and eating fries, for whatever reason, I’ve never really examined what’s going on, I’m just blindly following ridiculous tips and tricks that I read about somewhere on the Internet.

Open your eyes. Heed my advice. You ask for no salt on the fries, you’re taking the fast out of fast food. What you gain in freshness and piping-hotness, you lose it deliciousness and I-can’t-stop-putting-these-in-my-mouthness. Plus, the McDonald’s worker is going to resent you for making him or her do extra work all because you don’t know how to order.

But won’t that mean that sometimes you won’t get super fresh fries? Yes, that’s just a reality that everyone has to deal with. That’s life, that’s fast food, OK, there’s a reason most of this stuff costs a dollar. Sometimes you get fresh fast food, other times it’s coming from the heat lamp. Trying to manipulate your way into a perfect McDonald’s experience every single time, it’s a recipe for frustration, you’re trying too hard to make it happen, you’re setting your standards way too high, and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be pleased by anything in the long run.

Plus, you really shouldn’t be eating so many French fries. Hasn’t your doctor ever told you to cut back on the fried food? Come on man, do yourself a favor, next time you’re about to head out the door to McDonald’s, grab an apple, all right? Go have a yogurt and drink a glass of water.

Hey Bill, I can shovel your sidewalk if you want

Dear Bill Simmons:

We just had a pretty big snowstorm here in New York. The night before it started coming down, the news was telling us to expect at least ten inches. And no, I didn’t get out and measure it or anything like that, but it looks like ten inches, I think. It’s a lot of snow, is what I’m getting at here. It’s a powdery type of snow though, not too dense, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to clean up.


Still, snow is snow, and I had to shovel. I actually got a ticket for not shoveling in front of my house the last time it snowed. Yeah, yeah, I know, I have like a million excuses, like I was working both the night of the last snowstorm and the night after. So it was like, I came home from work, I should have just shoveled right away, but I put it off for the next day. And of course I overslept, I was rushing to get ready for the following night at the restaurant. I told myself, tomorrow, definitely tomorrow. But the Department of Sanitation must have been thinking the same thing, tomorrow, we’re definitely giving that guy a ticket tomorrow.

This time around, I made sure, as soon as that last snowflake fell, I was outside with my shovel. As I was shoveling I thought, Bill, wouldn’t it be cool if we were next-door neighbors? I know you’re a busy guy, and so I’d totally get your walk if you were at work or something. I don’t know exactly where your job takes you these days, I mean, I don’t really know where you do your filming for ESPN. You write a lot about how you’re from Boston, but you don’t live there anymore do you?

Maybe if you moved to Queens, right next-door to me, it would be like a rude awakening, it would snow, you’d have to shovel. How long has it been since you’ve had to shovel a walk? Don’t worry about it too much though, I told you, I’d help out. And maybe you’d be walking home just as I was finishing up the path right to your front door. Would we have met yet? Like, maybe you’d have waved to me every now and then on your way out the door. But a conversation?

“Hey man, thanks a lot, I really appreciate the help. I’m Bill, by the way, I know we haven’t gotten a chance for any official introductions, but yeah, thanks again for the shoveling.”

I’d say, “Hey, Bill, no problem, any time man.” And then it would get tricky, because obviously I’d recognize you, you’re a pretty famous guy. But do I want to come across as too eager? Like, “Yeah, I know you, you’re Bill Simmons, you’re the Sports Guy, I read all of your stuff on Grantland, I actually have a blog where I write you a letter every week begging for a job as a full-time writer. Have you seen it? Have you read any of my letters? What do you think Bill, can I have a job?”

It might come off as a little too strong. Still, anything else, like if I pretended not to know who you are, “My name’s Rob. Nice to meet you … Bill? Did you say it was Bill? Or Phil?” and you’d have to reintroduce yourself, “Bill. Bill Simmons.” That’s cool, I mean, it would have the benefit of you thinking that you could let your guard down around me, you’d go to work in the morning, you’d be the Sports Guy, but you’d come home at night and you’d just be regular next-door neighbor Bill, hanging out with his new friend Rob, a nice guy who shoveled his sidewalk, plus the path leading to his door, all out of the goodness of his own heart, not looking for anything in return.

Which of course isn’t really true, which is why I’d hesitate to go down that route. What if we hit it off? What if we became good friends? You’d obviously start to ask me questions like, what do you do for a living Rob? And I’d have to be like, well Bill, since you asked, I’m an aspiring writer. What about you?

And you’d go into your whole, “Really? I’m a writer too. I’d love to look at your stuff.” Which, yeah, that would be great. Please, read my stuff Bill. But then you’d come across these letters, the whole Dear Bill Simmons column, and you’d see that not only did I know who you were all along, but maybe my generous acts of snow shoveling weren’t as selfless as they appeared.

You’d think, is anything that Rob’s said about himself true? I’d try to explain, that yes, I really am a nice guy, and also yes, I desperately want to write for Grantland. “You moving next-door to me, I couldn’t believe the luck, but I didn’t know how to handle the situation. So, I’m sorry Bill, I’m sorry for coming across as disingenuous, but I just really, really want to work for you. And I also really want to be great neighbors. And maybe friends. But we’ll take it slow. What do you say?”

I’m pretty confident that you’d see through to the real me. I’m a nice guy Bill. And although we’ll probably never be next-door neighbors, we could still be coworkers. You could totally be my boss. And while I won’t push the friendship thing, I won’t close the door on it completely. So maybe like after years of working for you, building up a professional relationship, one based on hard work and writing whatever you tell me to write, maybe we can think about being friends. But first things first. Offer me a job Bill. I’ll say yes. Ask me to shovel your walk. I’ll say no. You’ll say, “But I thought you’d do whatever I told you to do.” And I’ll say, “I can’t shovel your walk. Because I already did it.”

I’m for real Bill. Give me a shout. Give me a job. Please.


Rob G.

You call this a haunting?

Yes, I’m having trouble putting a lot of what’s happening out of my head, but I can’t let them know that they’re on to me. I figure, just chill out, pretend like nothing’s happening, as long as they can’t get a reaction out of me, maybe they’ll leave me alone.

Maybe they’ll go away. It was like, when I moved in, yes, I was pretty freaked out. It wasn’t anything in particular, it was just a general sense of dread, that same feeling I’d get when I was a little kid, I’d have to go get something in the basement and, regardless of the time of day or who else was in the house, I’d hit the lights and take those first few steps, I could feel it, that tingling on my back, like something was behind me, something grabbing out for me, just an inch or so away.

And so I used to run, sprint up the steps, but that didn’t do anything. Regardless of how quick I made that trip, it always felt so close, right behind me. Whatever was down there, it probably wasn’t anywhere, it had to have been in my head. So as I got older, I forced myself to stop running. No, the feeling of panic, like I was right about to be dragged backward, it never went away, but it never actually came true either. And so I told myself, whatever that feeling is, I’ve just got to go about doing what I’m doing as if it isn’t there.

That’s exactly what it was like the first time I was alone by myself in this new place, always right behind me, like a breath hitting the back of my neck, but not really, almost imperceptibly. Almost immediately things started to happen, my toothbrush wouldn’t be where I’d left it, maybe it was like two inches to the left, or on the other side of the sink.

Just pick it up and brush your teeth, I told myself, don’t let whatever’s in here get the best of you. That was the idea anyway, if there was some sort of a presence or spirit, and jeez, it sounds ridiculous when I write it out, but just don’t acknowledge it. Is it watching me? Why else would it move the toothbrush if not to get a rise out of me.

Like I could pick it up, I wanted to scratch my head curiously, maybe even look around suspiciously. I could call out, “Hello? Is someone in here? Did somebody move my toothbrush?” But that’s just validating whatever’s going on, it’s saying, out loud, hi, my name is Rob, and I’m acknowledging that I’m starting to get really scared of what’s going on here. I hope this is as spooky as things are going to get.

But it’s persistent. I ignored the toothbrush. I started picking it up off the floor, one day it was missing completely, I opened up the toilet seat and there it was, floating in the water. I didn’t bat an eye. I got out a pair of rubber gloves, threw it out, and opened up a new one.

You think I’m going to lose my shit over a disposable toothbrush? I don’t care, I’ll use a new toothbrush every day. And yes, toothpaste all over the mirror, that’s a little bit more aggressive, definitely harder to ignore. But what are my options, really? Do I want to directly engage this thing? No, I just clean it off, yeah, tiptoeing around it is starting to take up more and more of my day.

So it’s like, I don’t have to clean up the toothpaste, no, it’s almost better if I don’t, right? I’m giving it less stuff to throw in my way every day. I can kind of see my reflection, and it’s not gross, I mean, it’s minty, it smells nice. And yeah, if I’m watching TV and the channel changes abruptly while I’m watching it, or if my alarm clock always goes off at three in the morning, yes, I have to deal with that, but you’re crazy if you think you’ll get any more of a reaction than  me hitting the channel down button or shutting off the late-night beep, beep, beep.

I’ll keep this up as long as you want, all right, because I’m not afraid of this, whatever it is. It’s nothing. There’s nothing there. And that’s why I’m not afraid, OK, it’s not going to kill me, right? I mean, those bruises on my legs when I wake up, that’s not a huge deal. People get bruises. And that shadow behind the door, go ahead, keep looking this way buddy. I’m not getting up to investigate. I can’t fall asleep, no, but I can pretend to be asleep. I can’t not be afraid, but I can pretend to not be afraid. And eventually it’s got to move on, because isn’t this a little boring? Huh? You’re going to spend every day haunting me when it’s clearly not messing with me at all? Doesn’t that get a little old? Don’t you want to maybe find someone who will at least visibly be bothered by such cliché tricks? Because I’m not going anywhere, all right, I almost feel bad for you, because it’s just so lame, just go do something else, OK, as far as spirits or ghosts go, you’re a total loser.

Gun cannons, suck-guns, and other fresh ideas on future artillery

I think someone should invent a gun that fires guns instead of bullets. Smaller guns. So it would have to be a really big gun, like a cannon. And say your town gets invaded by the enemy. Instead of everybody running into their houses to find the keys to their gun boxes, then looking for the keys to the separate lockboxes that hold the ammo, and then spending even more time locking and loading, you could just have one really fast town resident race up to the hill where you keep the gun cannon. “Fire!” he’d say, and the cannon would go, boom! And it would shoot out regular guns, presto, instant militia.


I’m always thinking of new ideas regarding self-defense. And not all of them have to do with guns inside guns. Although, I just want to be perfectly clear, it would be awesome if we could have a giant gun orbiting the earth, and in times of great need, like if the whole country comes under attack at the same time, then this orbital cannon could fire the gun-cannons that I was talking about earlier, one for every town. I’m just saying, boom, gun cannons fired down to earth, double boom, cannons firing guns to arm every citizen. I’m thinking the whole process shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes or so.

Talk all you want about the technical hurdles of achieving such a feat. It could totally happen. If they can shoot a rocket to Mars that lowers a rover down to the surface via a robotic crane, I’m sure we could do the same thing here on Earth. It should be even easier, because we won’t have to deal with any radio delay or foreign atmosphere. Again, I’ll leave it to the engineers to figure out the t-crossing and i-dotting, but when it comes to ammunition, we’re only limited by the scope of our imagination.

Like what about guns that suck bullets back in? I’m picturing a hostage situation, right, the cops have this guy surrounded, but he’s got an innocent bystander with him, somebody he just grabbed off the street. And the bad guy’s got a gun to this guy’s head. He’s screaming, “Back off! All right? Just back off, lower your weapons, everybody get out of here, or I’m going to do it, I’ll shoot this guy!”

I don’t know how the police would handle a situation like that in real life, but I’m sure it takes a while to find the professional negotiator, to get him down to the crime scene, all while the cops are forced to give this guy space, room to breathe, time to think his way out of that situation. If you had guns that could suck bullets up instead of firing them out, it wouldn’t be a problem at all.

I’d be like, “Go ahead. Shoot.” And the crook would be like, “I warned you!” Bam! But I’d pull the trigger on my suck-gun at the same exact time. As soon as his bullet exits that barrel, instead of firing out, it would travel right back into my gun. Then there’d be a button on the side, something to switch from “suck” to “fire.” I’d flip that switch, and now I’d be ready to disarm this criminal, and with his own bullet too.

I write stuff like this all the time. Why aren’t the gun companies giving me a call? When are they going to realize that I’m just the guy they need to breathe some fresh ideas into the industry? How about disposable guns? You know, like how they have single-use cameras? Although, nobody really buys those anymore. Not since digital cameras started popping up everywhere. Nobody even has a camera anymore, it’s just phones, cell phones with really good built-in cameras.

But you could go to the gun store, right, you’d buy a disposable gun. I don’t know, they could make it like the barrel would be sealed. So you’d buy the gun fully loaded, and once you used that round of ammunition, that would be it, you couldn’t reload it again. You’d bring it back to the gun store and drop it off and they’d reload it and sell it again. It would be perfect for a gun-enthusiast like me, you know, someone not really ready to commit to buying a gun. I’d just like to show up every now and then and fire a few rounds off into the air, something to really announce my presence. And to warn off any potential enemies. Like back off, all right? I’ve got a gun. A disposable gun, yes, but they wouldn’t know that. And it wouldn’t matter anyway. A gun’s a gun, right?