Yearly Archives: 2012

Challenge accepted

When something’s too easy, I don’t even want to bother. I need excitement. I need a challenge. But my life is super comfortable. So even trying to make things more challenging is a challenge in itself. I’ll analyze a situation, look at how easy it is, get disgusted by the lack of challenge, try to think of ways to make it more challenging, and finally realize that this is going to be pretty hard, just coming up with ideas. Then I’ll actually think of something, finally, maybe, a little trick or a variant to make whatever menial task I’m about to do more challenging. But just as I’m about to get to work, I realize that I’ve already satisfied my craving for more challenge, just by thinking of how to make a boring chore more of a challenge. By this point, actually going about setting up my challenge, execution, well it all seems a little too much. And so I’ll just go about my day only ever thinking about how interesting things could have been if I hadn’t wasted all of my energy dreaming up elaborate and creative challenges.

Because I get tired. The creative process. Very tiring. And another thing I don’t like is being too challenged. I don’t like it when something is so hard, like one of those Sudoku puzzles, not the easy ones, obviously, I’m talking about the back-of-the-book, Sunday Sudokus. And I’ll be honest here, even the easy ones are a little too challenging. Which is hard for me to wrap my head around, because, as I mentioned above, I go through life seeking ways to turn the mundane into the marvelous, or the magnificent, like this sentence right here, you see what I did with these three words that start with the letter M? Totally unnecessary, but just the right amount of challenge.

I’ve reconciled my difficulty with Sudoku to be actually something of an inverse problem, where whoever invented Sudoku, I’m guessing a real nerd, he or she did the exact opposite of what I’m looking for in life, where they took something fun, puzzles, and they made them feel as boring as adding up a bunch of numbers for no reason, all while keeping, if not enhancing the challenge aspect of the game. It’s pure challenge for challenge’s sake. And I’m normally a fan of challenge, like I was talking about earlier, trying to challenge myself into creating all of those challenging situations.

I’m talking challenging like let’s see if I can eat lunch with only a fork instead of both a fork and a knife. Yeah, that might seem silly, and yeah, I just thought of it, just as an example, like what’s a common thing that we do every day? Eating lunch. How to make it challenging? Quick. See? It’s not that easy, and so if I’m left to just come up with something right away, I’ll find myself playing that little game, no not Sudoku, but trying to get all of that food onto my fork without using a knife for support. You ever try eating a sandwich with just a fork? It’s impossible. Because by the time you start hacking away at it with the fork, it falls apart, you find yourself eating just the bread, then just the inside, and it’s not even a sandwich anymore, it’s just a bunch of random stuff on a plate and so not only has the challenge been accepted, but the challenge has also been left unconquered.

So it’s even harder, trying to find that sweet spot, making things just challenging enough to where I can maintain a certain level of engagement with whatever I’m doing, while also making sure that I’ve set myself up for a challenge that I’ll definitely be able to not only commit to, but also to accomplish.

And so a lot of the time I’m just totally unfulfilled, I look around at the world and it’s like a roulette table, almost half the stuff in the world is too easy, almost another half is too hard, and there are those two greens spots, the 0 and the 00, and that’s the percentage of stuff in the world that satisfies my craving for challenge while also satisfying my equally strong craving to finish or do something that’s just challenging enough without being too challenging. Right? And I don’t know about you guys but, I mean, I’ve only been to a casino a few times, and I’ve never gotten that green. There have to be like magnets underneath the green spots, so that way the ball never lands on green.

McDonald’s should sell a Quarter Pounder with a bun made out of Twinkies

When Taco Bell started selling those tacos with the Doritos shell last year, I experienced something of a personal fast-food renaissance. I started going back to all of my favorite restaurants, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s. But thanks to genius product launches like Doritos taco, Taco Bell maintains its lead against any would be competitors. And that’s what Taco Bell has always been about.

What do I get when I go to McDonald’s? Big Mac. What about Burger King? Whopper. Sure these chains all promote their own specialty sandwiches, constantly trying to earn a permanent spot on America’s taste buds, but it never works. I’m trying to think here and, without doing any research at all, the last time I can remember any fast-food place introducing something that stuck was when Wendy’s came up with the now classic Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

Taco Bell is different. By always pushing the envelope in terms what’s on the menu, Americans have fallen in love with items like the Chalupa, the Gordita, the Crunch Wrap Supreme. I could seriously just start typing Taco Bell favorites and I’d have an entire essay written right here. And adding Doritos to the mix changed the game entirely. What other fast-food/snack-food hybrid might we be able to come up with?

How about a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, but instead of a bun, McDonald’s can use Twinkies. They’ll call it the Quarter Pounder with Cheese with Twinkies. Or something else. I’m not much of a branding expert. I’m getting hungry just thinking about how delicious such a sweet and savory sandwich might taste. I’m tempted to run out right now to buy a Quarter Pounder at McDonald’s. Then I’ll head over to the grocery store to buy some Twinkies, so I can just make it myself at home and … wait a second.

Oh yeah, but Twinkies are getting shut down, so that’s not going to work out. Which is why McDonald’s needs to get moving on this sandwich. Think about it, I’m assuming Hostess is going out of business because it’s not selling enough Twinkies. And let’s face it, nobody’s wondering why. Who really eats Twinkies anyway? Moms today are making their kids eat rice cakes and baby carrots. It’s disgusting. I mean, I don’t necessarily blame them, because we’re all getting so fat, but when was the last time you saw anybody go to the store and buy a box of Twinkies?

It’s a food product that’s been around for like a hundred years. And now all of the sudden we’re getting so upset because Hostess is shutting the whole thing down. Stores are being looted for their Twinkies. News channels are running non-stop stories about Twinkies. After having lived the past ten years or so without so much as being reminded that it even exists, the Twinkie is relevant again.

McDonald’s, make this sandwich happen. Capitalize on Twinkie-fever before people wake up and think to themselves, wait a second, I never buy Twinkies, and nobody else does either, so I actually don’t care if it they get shut down. I guarantee you that if you bought the rights to the Twinkie and marketed this sandwich, you’d put McDonald’s back on the map. Because seriously, what else are you guys up to lately? I see you have all of these signs for a new CBO sandwich. Cheddar bacon and onion, right? Yeah, I get it, it just doesn’t sound very inspired. And I’m no ad man, but all I think of when I see ads for this sandwich is BO. It takes up over fifty percent of the title.

Do it. Make the Twinkie-bun sandwich. Give me credit for coming up with it. Or at least give Taco Bell credit. And then just send me a check. Nothing huge. OK, well, nothing too small either.

I wish I could juggle

I wish I could juggle. But I only ever get the urge to try and juggle when I’m at work and I’m standing next to a big bowl of lemons or limes. I’ve been working in a restaurant since I was fourteen, so there have been plenty of occasions where I’ve found myself standing next to large quantities of fruit. And I’ve tried juggling citruses enough times over the course of my life where I can say that I’ve made some progress. But if I add up all of these little moments here and there I’d still probably only be able to count to maybe a half an hour of cumulative practice. That’s hardly enough to really develop a skill, to really get good at something. What do they say about the time necessary to master something? It’s definitely more than just thirty seconds here and there.

I always get at least two or three consecutive juggles before I completely lose control. The frustrating part is, I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s tossing one thing up in the air, gently, catching something else, and then tossing another thing from one hand to the other. All of these individual parts are laughably easy. But patched together, the whole juggling thing, I lose it. Whenever I try, for some reason I always wind up lobbing the fruit slightly ahead of me. So I have to reach a little further to catch what I’ve thrown. After the second juggle, I automatically wind up falling forward, walking ahead, and then the throws get bigger, to try and make up for the outward motion, maybe, and I’m definitely losing at least one lime, and then I realize, shit, my boss is probably watching me, or that lemon is getting a little too close to that stack of glasses, and yeah, it never ends well, because, like I said, I can’t juggle.

Going on what I said about the whole falling forward thing, I’ve always had this idea that, maybe I can juggle, but just not standing still, like I have to be walking forward, or even running maybe, to compensate for that slight outward pitch. So the forward motion seems like it would be the perfect correction. Unfortunately, I’ve never tried it. Like I said, I really do wish that I could juggle, but I’m so rarely bombarded by the actual urge to get up and learn how to do it. It’s always at these inopportune times.

Like it’s always when someone else who actually knows how to juggle starts juggling. And they’re just standing there, tossing three things in a perfect circle, and I get so jealous, because they make it look so easy. So I’ll try and I can’t juggle and I’ll break something and, if my boss isn’t around, everybody will start laughing at me, at my clowning around. But I’m not clowning around. I’m seriously trying to juggle. It’s like, I’m watching this person juggle, and I’m staring at them, at how easy it is, and I just lock their motions in my mind, in a loop, like I’m juggling the mental image of this person juggling, over and over again, and I start moving my hands automatically, like I have to be able to do this. And I jump right in and break something.

And maybe my boss was watching. And his natural tendency, being in charge, he wants to come over and tell me to knock it off, especially if I’ve broken something, especially if there’s already broken glass everywhere. But maybe he’s more amused than he’s letting on, like maybe he saw everything, but he knows that if he comes over to try and chastise me, I’m just going to be like, “What! Come on! I swear I can juggle!” like I’ll put on this whole show that’ll only add to his amusement, and so he won’t be able to keep a straight face, and I’ll have busted through his façade of authority. That’s why I’ve never gotten in trouble for tossing around the lemons, dropping all three on the floor, one time I did it with apples, and when they all crashed down they got damaged, bruised, a total waste of produce that we just had to chuck in the trash.

One day I’ll figure it out. Look how much mental energy I’ve spent thinking about juggling just in writing this piece. That’s got to add to the training. Sometimes I think that the more you think about something, the more it’s going to happen. Isn’t that the majority of training for anything? Just getting yourself in the right mindset? And once I know how to juggle, like for real, like being able to juggle without pause, without running forward, being able to do it while holding on a conversation, I think I’ll be able to incorporate juggling into everyday life, into a practical setting. Sometimes at work the boss will be like, “Rob, can you go into the walk-in and restock the lemons?” and I’ll say, “Sure thing boss,” and then I’ll head into the fridge and I try to grab as many as I can in my arms, cradling them, but it’s an awkward position because the lemons are small enough so that I always think I should be able to carry more than I can. But once I learn how to juggle, I’ll just toss them all in the air, seven, eight, nine lemons, and I’ll walk through the restaurant and everybody will be amused, even me, amused and impressed, I did it, I finally learned how to juggle, and they’ll all land perfectly in the lemon bowl, one after the other, and the restaurant will still be busy, so I’m not going to have a chance to really revel in any of the mild applause of my coworkers, and of my boss too, he’ll be clapping gently, or giving me a subtle thumbs up. How could you not love something like that? A nice little fun diversion in an otherwise humdrum routine day.

Stop bossing me around. You’re not in charge of me. Don’t tell me what to do.

Don’t tell me what to do. You’re not the boss of me. There’s only one person that’s the boss of me. There’s only one person that I’ll listen to. And that one person is nobody. I won’t listen to anybody. If you ever tell me what to do I’ll just do the exact opposite. Unless of course you’re thinking that can fool me into doing whatever you want by telling me to do the opposite. In this case I’ll recognize your true intent behind the clever semantic trick, and I’ll do what you’re telling me to do, but only because I’ll know that you’re really wanting me to do the opposite and so, yeah, just do me a favor and don’t tell me to do or not to do anything, because I’ll never listen. Like I’ll listen, I’ll hear you, but I’ll willfully do whatever it is that you don’t want me to do, regardless of how you phrase it. What I’m getting at here is, you’re not in charge of me.

I’m not being defiant. Well, I am being defiant. Or maybe you’re the one being defiant. And don’t even try to be nice to me, because it’s still bossing me around, and I’m not somebody that you can just come up to and say, “Hey Rob, it’s so nice to see you. Have a seat and let me get you a drink.” All right? Because, one, don’t tell me to sit down. If I want to sit down, I’ll sit down without you having to tell me to have a seat. And two, let you get me a snack? How about let me let you watch me get myself a snack. Because who says you’re in charge? What are you the mayor?

I went to vote for President last month, and when I got the ballot, it told me to “fill in the box completely.” Stupid piece of paper. If I’m not going to listen to a person, if I’m going to ignore that joker who tried to get me to stand in line, to sign my name at the bottom of that form, to stop asking other people who they were going to vote for, to please stand behind the curtain, to give the other people their privacy while casting their votes, what makes you think I’m going to listen to a dumb piece of paper? I don’t get bossed around by people, I’m definitely not getting bossed around by a piece of paper. You know who wrote that piece of paper? Some clown, trying to tell everybody what to do. You know where that piece of paper came from? A tree. Who do you think I am, standing on line all day so I can get told what to do by a tree? By a dead tree?

Come on, I bought a can of Coke and I was just about to take a big sip when I noticed on top of the can, on top of the logo it said, “Enjoy” Coca-Cola. Get the fuck out of here. Why don’t you enjoy Coca-Cola? I’m the one who paid a dollar for that can. And now I’m getting forced into reading some sort of a simplified instruction manual? Enjoy? I made a grimace, a really strong face and I choked that Coke down, purposefully making myself laugh halfway through that big gulp, laughing so hard that the Coke, all of those bubbles, they got caught up in my nose and started spraying everywhere, and it hurt, it was all up my sinuses, and there was Coke all over my hands, and it dried and just got really sticky. Nosiree, I most certainly did not enjoy that can of Coke. And I went online afterwards to write a strongly worded email to Coke, to tell them to just sell me a can of soda without all of the fascism, the bossing around, but I got distracted by a feature on the web site that showed pictures of Coke cans throughout the ages, and this one can from a long time ago, it didn’t even say “Enjoy,” it just said, “Drink.” Fuck that shit.

Do you know how much of a fit I used to throw in kindergarten when my teacher put on the hokey pokey? Put this in, put that in, do this, do that. I can’t bring anything on an airplane, because I’m not about to let some flight attendant tell me to put it away during takeoff. When I’m driving I’ll stop at every green light and go at every red one. What else … do you know how many trains I’ve missed, walking up to the car when that conductor goes, “All aboard!” Chill out dude, and don’t tell me what to do. So I’ll just turn around. You get all aboard. Bossy control freak jerk.

I just donated a pint of blood and smoked a whole pack of cigarettes right after. Because try and guess what that nurse told me to avoid for about an hour or so after the donation. Just guess. Yep. Smoking. Just, seriously, don’t boss me around. Just stop telling me what to do. Just leave me alone and don’t talk to me and don’t tell me to do or not do anything.

Blast off

Send me on a spaceship to the nearest star. Let me be the emissary for the people of Earth, the bearer of good will, the one who will foster relations, build bridges towards our neighbors in space. Put me in a deep sleep, pack me in that rocket ship, bound for the heavens, on a course towards the nearest inhabitable solar system. I’ll take everything with me, everything that represents us, the planet Earth, the human race, all of our flags from every nation. Even the crazy nations. Even North Korea and Zimbabwe and Bahrain. Get me out there.

Just shoot me out there and schedule my cryogenic pod to wake me up every hundred years or so. If I get to a planet and there’s no sign of life, I’ll have a snack. Send me with snacks. Send me with enough snacks that if I get to a thousands stellar systems and there’s no sign of life, I’ll at least get to have something good to eat until the ship’s on board computer shuts off life support and forces me to go back into my frozen slumber. Try to send something good. Try to send the McRib. Try to get McDonald’s to freeze dry a thousand McRib sandwiches. If I can’t find alien life, at least let me have a McRib.

Launch me up there with a care package fit for representing the entire Earth’s population. Make a giant Earth flag. Take one square out of every country’s flag and sew them all together to make one giant flag. And then take that giant flag and make that the blue part of an even more giant American flag. Because I’m assuming that the United States is going to be the only country capable of getting me out there, out to the stars, out to our neighboring planets.

I’ll say something like, “We mean you no harm!” I’ll proclaim, “We seek peaceful coexistence!”  Send me to Mars first. Get me to Mars and I’ll walk around that red ball of rust and I’ll pretend like I’ve reached somewhere habitable. Make me a spacesuit that looks like I’m not actually wearing a space suit. This will be my trial run. It’ll be one last chance for the people of Earth to see me before I blast out of our solar system for good.

Send me with a dog. A pet. We’ll name him Astro, not after the Jetsons’ dog, although they had a dog named Astro too, but we’ll be naming him after space, after astronomy and astrophysics and astronauts the Astros and the astral plane. Go back into the vaults of cartoon TV history. Go find all old episodes of the Jetsons. Edit all existing footage to change Astro the cartoon dog’s name to something else, like Spacely. But the boss’s name was Spacely also, wasn’t it? So go back and change his name to something else too, like Johnson, or Richards. Something else. My dog Astro probably wouldn’t be able to be woken up as much as I would be, because dogs only live like thirteen years, and then even though our lives will have been extended with all of the stasis induced slumber, still, I’ll outlive him, and he being my only companion, I’ll be devastated to see him die before we’ve reached any destination worthy of our journey. Actually, I kind of like the name Spacely also. OK, so yeah, now I’m probably just ripping off the Jetsons outright, but whatever, we’ve got the resources to send me to space, to send a dog to space, go back to the footage, change Spacely’s name to something else, like some other dog name, or whatever, just get rid of the Jetsons entirely, because it’s a bullshit show that didn’t even come close to predicting how the future would turn out. Send me with two dogs. Three or four dogs. Two Spacelys and two Astros. Just in case some die. Or even better, alternate how they get woken up, so that way they’ll all last longer.

Don’t forget the guns. Don’t forget my space weaponry. I’m not one to back down from a space fight. What if I get boarded? What if some aliens deactivate my ship while I’m in stasis? Make some sort of a decoy stasis machine. Get a duplicate, not a duplicate, another person, a patsy, somebody to come along for the ride, but never to be woken up. Design the ship so that way if we get boarded, the aliens will see this guy’s pod first, and make it so if his pod is tampered with, mine will automatically wake me up. Also, put me to sleep with a space gun in each hand, that way I’ll sneak up behind the alien and I’ll tell him something like, “Friend! Relax! I come in peace. I seek peaceful coexistence,” and as the alien lowers his weapon I’ll raise mine and fire without hesitation.

Get me off of this planet. Let me be the first to travel out there, past the moon, past Mars, I’ll take pictures of that Methane moon off of Saturn and that other frozen moon off of Jupiter, not in that order, obviously, that would be a little counter productive. I’m the man for the job. I’ve got what it takes. Blast me off. I’ll sit back and count back from ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, all the way, blast me off, seriously, do it, come on.