Monthly Archives: July 2012

A stunning, historic, stunning victory

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with all of these Barack Obama commemorative plates that I invested in shortly after the 2008 general election. I’m assuming that they’re all skyrocketing in value as I write this, but I didn’t realize how tough investing actually is. Like, I totally didn’t think about the fact that, while my money is maturing in my victory-plate portfolio, I’m really not able to use any of it. And times are getting tough. I’m starving.

Every once in a while I’ll try to bring one of my victory-plates around and try to buy stuff on credit. The problem is getting these plates anywhere. They’re very fragile, much more delicate than you’d expect, and I’m not really comfortable stacking them up so they’re easier to transport. But then again, if I choose to leave them in their special commemorative victory-plate protectors, then I can’t carry more that two or three at the same time.

One time I went to the Home Depot and one of the cashiers seemed interested in making a trade. After a brief negotiation, we struck a deal: two and a half victory-plates for an extension chord and a nine-volt battery. So I handed over the victory-plates and waited for change. But the cashier wasn’t allowed to give me cash back for plates. She cracked one in half. Two and a half victory-plates. But then she told me that, now that she was looking at this plate cracked down the middle, she wasn’t sure if it had the same value as it did when it was whole. I tried to argue that it wasn’t a clean break, that it wasn’t precisely down the middle, and that I’d be willing to part with the bigger half if we could just get on with this transaction. Unfortunately for me, a manager came over and shooed the cashier away. Turns out she wasn’t a cashier at all. She was, once, like months ago, but she got fired for being crazy. But she kept showing up randomly in an orange vest acting like she still worked there. I asked the manager about the victory-plates and he told me sorry, cash only.

“What about the certificates of authenticity that came specially numbered with each plate?” I asked the manager. “Aren’t those kind of like banknotes? Like how dollar bills used to be used so that people didn’t have to carry all of their gold around?” The manager wouldn’t budge. I demanded to see a different manager. He said fine, walked away, but then came back fifteen minutes later claiming to be a different manager. It was clearly the same person. I’m not an idiot. Home Depot has the worst customer service.

I hope the Euro collapses. I hope that, by the time this article makes it up on this blog, the Euro is gone. That’s what I need. I need a society with absolutely no dominant currency. I initially wrote that I hope that the US dollar collapses, and while, yes, that probably would have proved to be somewhat of a vindication in the short-term, with everyone else carrying around wheel barrels full of useless greenbacks, unable to trade them in for even a loaf of stale bread or a gallon of expired-but-not-yet-spoiled milk, and I’d be sitting on a fortune in cold, hard, recession-proof, economic collapse-proof victory-plates, I realized that I probably wouldn’t want to actually live in a society completely overrun by financial ruin. No, I’d rather use the value of my victory-plates to exploit a separate society, like Europe, and then use that wealth to live very comfortably over here. Greece looks like it’s going to need a new currency pretty soon. I think I have enough Obama plates to cover at least the mainland. I’m not sure about all of the islands though. I think my parents have some George H. W. Bush commemorative silverware locked up in an undisclosed location somewhere. I keep trying to get them to show me where it’s all being stored, but they’re so secretive with their cutlery, which, I guess is a smart move. There’s no way I’d ever tell anyone where I’m hoarding all of my wealth.

Part of me hopes Obama doesn’t win come November, not because of any politics or anything petty, but it’s because I’m pretty sure that reelection-plates rarely fetch as high of a market value as commemorative, stunning, historic victory inauguration-plates. I’ve already called up the Franklin Mint and put special hold orders on any potential Romney dishes, or Romney limited edition soap dishes, and they said OK, but they needed half of my Obama-plates as a deposit. But none of this is helping me out with my finances. Like I said, I’m starving here. I have all of these plates but nothing to put on them to eat. Not that I would actually use the victory-plates as actual plates, like I wouldn’t put food on them or anything stupid like that. I just thought it was a nice little image there, the absence of food contrasted with the abundance of plates.

My mind’s a total blank

My mind is a total blank. I think I might have finally done it. I’ve exhausted everything I’ve had to talk about. There’s nothing left. My brain was a sponge and I wrung it completely dry and now there’s nothing inside. Time travel? Wrote about it. Parallel universes? Check. Honestly, and people who know me can probably back this up, but that’s about all I’ve got. I could write about either topic again, but I think a lot of the originality has already worn off. I make great first impressions. After that, every single impression diminishes by a factor of one-half. That’s why I’m constantly running around trying to meet new people, but I never call any of them back, ever. Because I know it’s not going to be as fulfilling of an encounter, for them. So I’m thinking of everyone else here.

I was going to write about not being able to think about anything to write about, but I think that I already did that. And then when I went back to make sure, I think that I already did it twice actually. So I’m definitely not going to do it again.

Sometimes when my mind’s drawing a total blank I’ll pick up my computer and go somewhere else. Usually I just write in the kitchen, but that can get mind-numbingly dull after a while. One time I read this article about a guy who turned his treadmill into a desk, so he was constantly walking while he wrote. I don’t have a treadmill, so I just put my computer up somewhere high, so at least I’d be standing up. But it was a little too high. I couldn’t figure out where to rest my wrists. So I went down to the baseball stadium and applied for a job selling beer and soda. And they hired me on the spot because, like I said, I’m the best at first impressions. They gave me the outfit and that contraption that hangs around your shoulders so all of the beers are standing right in front of you, propped up right against your stomach. Then I went home and mailed in my two weeks’ notice. They told me not to bother coming in, seeing as how I hadn’t even really started yet. Hopefully I can still use them as a reference, because I was nothing but professional.

So I took that beer-selling thing and I put my computer on it, and I started walking around in circles in my living room, typing while I walked. It was like the treadmill desk, but much cheaper. Like I didn’t have to go out and buy a treadmill. I thought it was a genius move. Unfortunately, I wasted all of that time going to the baseball stadium and filling out application forms when I should have been writing, or at least sitting there thinking of stuff to write about. And that thought got me all anxious and nervous, like maybe I wasted so much time that it’s going to take me forever to get back to where I once was. And as I got nervous and anxious I started pacing around in that circle with my laptop in front of me even faster. Faster and faster. And I didn’t know it, but I had left the computer plugged in. And my computer came with one of those magnetic chargers, so that way if it gets yanked out it will just easily detach without doing any serious damage. But I thought it was a little insulting of the computer company to not trust me with such an expensive machine. What am I a little kid? Plus, they should want me to break it, because then I’ll have to go back to buy a new computer. So I superglued the charger right to the charging port. But, like I said, I was pacing around faster and faster and I was so worried, so riddled with these negative ideas running through my head, these ideas screaming at me, telling me, “Hey Rob! You might as well stick with the beer-selling job, because you blew it! You’ll never be a writer! You’ll never think of anything interesting to write about ever again! Bwahahahaha!” And while I was pacing, I don’t even know how this happened, but the power chord started wrapping itself around my legs. It was loose at first, but every lap I made around the living room made it just a little bit tighter. And this is probably my own fault, because I went out and bought an unnecessarily long computer charger, like it had to be like twenty or thirty or forty feet long, because one time I was watching a TV show on my computer, and the computer couldn’t reach to the table where I wanted to watch it on, and I’ll never rest a laptop on my lap, because I can just feel the heat of the computer irradiating my insides, so I moved the table just close enough to where it just barely made it. But the computer chord was so tight that it didn’t even touch the floor, it just made a taut straight line right to the wall outlet. And then my dog, who was sitting perfectly still, decided to have this manic burst of energy and started bounding through my place, and I knew he was eventually going to run right into the chord and send the whole computer crashing to the floor. So I just said, forget it, I don’t need to watch this TV show, and I put the computer away before any damage was done. The next day I got up and went to the Home Depot and bought some industrial strength superglue remover. I removed the pathetic short chord, bought this ridiculously oversized chord, superglued that to the computer, and then watched TV on my laptop for like a whole week straight.

I thought I had it all figured out. But here I was pacing around my living room as thirty or forty feet of computer chord wrapped itself around my legs. All of the sudden I took a step and something gave. I looked down and my legs were wrapped completely together, like a mummy, and I was falling. I went to reach for something to grab onto, to steady myself, but the closest thing was my computer, and that was already anchored to me, so it did nothing to stop my fall. And the computer went flying. And all of my writing, gone. Wasted. I always turn auto-backup off, because I hate the idea of having a computer automatically save every word that I write. What if I want something deleted? What if I get so famous someday that, generations from now, there are entire departments at each university dedicated solely to studying my every word? And what if they study my works so thoroughly, and they realize that, they did it, they completely unraveled and deconstructed everything that I had to say? But it’s not enough. They need more. What will future generations study? So they decide to go after my old computers and look through the archives of my autosave folders to see if the hard drives held onto snippets of writing that I deemed unworthy of saving. And they’ll look through them and be completely disgusted. They’ll realize that they had put me and my writing on this artificial pedestal, that they had created this ideal me, this perfect writer incapable of even writing one bad sentence, of even misspelling a single word, and then they’ll see this rubbish and the whole illusion will come crashing down. And the very next generation will hate me, despise me for ruining these once respected departments at all of these fine colleges and universities.

But then, when I came crashing down because I was too cheap to buy a real treadmill-desk, I remembered that this whole exercise came from the fact that I couldn’t think of anything to write about in the first place, and so it didn’t matter if I destroyed that computer, because there wasn’t anything there to begin with. I didn’t have anything to say that day. Sometimes I just can’t think of anything. My mind’s just totally empty. I just don’t know what I’m going to do.

What a nice day for a picnic

I hosted a big picnic in the park last week for all of my friends and family. I’ve always wanted to host a picnic. I feel like nobody does picnics anymore. You never see people carrying around picnic baskets. Nobody talks about picnics on Facebook. Even now, in just three sentences of this first paragraph, I feel like I’ve used the word picnic more than I’ve ever used it in the rest of my life. The picnic, I feel, is in danger of becoming extinct, and I was going to save it by hosting my own picnic. Let me just tell you, it was the worst event I’ve ever even hosted, a huge disaster. Nothing could have possibly been a worse idea.

Everybody had a huge problem with the chain of command. If I host a party at my place, then I’m in charge. Whenever people come over, I like to constantly reinforce this fact by bossing people around, but only slightly, just to kind of, you know, say without saying it, hey, I’m in charge. This is my party. I’ll be like, “Hey, George, would you mind using a coaster?” or “Steve, didn’t I tell everyone to take their shoes off at the front door?” And what are people going to do, start something with me? No, I make sure that all of my rules or so tiny as to not be worth getting into a fight over. It’s much easier to just go along with it. It is my house, after all, and I’m the host.

I thought that it would be the same with picnics, but it wasn’t. I had it at a public park, so I guess people got it into their heads that they didn’t have to listen to me anymore. But I was still the host, right? I’d be like, “Andre, didn’t I ask that all of the picnic blankets be laid out vertically?” and Andre was just like, “Well, yeah, but I wanted to lay out my blanket horizontally.” And then he just kind of shrugged at me and put his hands up halfway in the air, saying to me something like, what are you going to do?

So I got in Andre’s face and reminded him that I was the host. I started to move his blanket myself, but he just picked it up and stormed off. Fine, I didn’t want him at my picnic anyway. That guy’s a total loser. Fucking Andre. I shouldn’t even have invited him in the first place. I sent out all of the invitations on Facebook, and this guy had the nerve to respond with a “maybe.” Maybe? Maybe I should have rescinded his invitation right then and there. But I didn’t, because I’m a nice guy. But he just showed up anyway, without even bothering to change his RSVP to “Attending.” I checked on the picnic’s Facebook page a little later, and this time Andre changed it to “Not Attending.” What a big man, rubbing it in my face. I defriended him later in the day. And then the next day I refriended him, because I knew he’d accept it. And he did. And then I defriended him again. I’m telling you, that guy is a huge loser.

Then some other people took out this badminton set and started putting it up. “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I told them while I confiscated the rackets that they had put over to the side while they were busy setting up the net. “Activities aren’t until later, and we’re not playing badminton, we’re playing kickball.” They were getting upset. I was getting upset. Actually, I wasn’t getting upset, I already was upset. I must have still been upset from that little tussle I had with Andre. They argued with me. I kept talking over everybody. Somebody tried to chase after me, to get back the rackets, but I’m the fastest runner out of all of my friends, so it was pointless. I’d let them get kind of close, let them think that they were about to catch me, but then I’d take off, really getting ahead of them. Then I’d pretend that I used up all of my energy on that sprint, and make it like I was out of breath. And they’d come up all charging at me, thinking they had me finally, but right before they could catch me, I’d take off again. In the end I just threw the rackets in the giant fountain in the middle of the park.

So they started undoing the badminton set. I thought I had won, but they were being such babies that they packed up and left. Good. I don’t know why I ever invited those jerks in the first place. That’s all your going to contribute to the picnic? A stupid baby tennis set? Take a hike. I told everyone else to get to work setting up the grill. They asked me where I had put the charcoal. I told them that I didn’t bring any charcoal, that was Denise’s job. Denise claimed she didn’t know she was supposed to bring any charcoal. It was right on the Facebook page, a link to the web site I had set up for the picnic. There was an excel spreadsheet that you were supposed to download to find out what you were supposed to bring. It turns out nobody downloaded it. Nobody brought anything on the list. People just brought whatever they wanted. I was so pissed. I told everybody that they were all uninvited from the picnic. And you know what? I told them, you’re not even uninvited. You were never invited in the first place. Invitation annulled. And you know what else? Picnic’s cancelled. Go home. Thanks a lot everybody. Thanks for nothing.

Then my phone buzzed. I looked down. It was an email. The email was from Facebook. It was a notification about a picnic. The picnic was being organized by Andre. I clicked on the link. “Hey everyone! Let’s have a picnic! Right now! Right over here, to your left! Bring whatever you want!” I look to my left and Andre was standing on the other side of the park, waving everybody over. Fucking Andre. That guy is such a poser. Always stealing my great ideas. I opened up the Facebook app and went to the picnic page and clicked on my RSVP, “Not Attending.” As I packed up my stuff and headed out to leave, I looked up and everyone was walking over to Andre’s picnic, those traitors, those fair-weather friends, and someone else took off their shoes and waded into the fountain and got the badminton rackets, and someone else was setting up the net.

I thought about calling up the cops and telling them that a group of people was loitering in the park, drinking alcohol out of concealed containers, and was that marijuana smoke I was smelling? But I decided against it. I’ll be the bigger person here. But by the time I got home I was so pissed all over again that I actually did call the cops. And I told them that a group of extremists was planning a terrorist attack in the park. Then I went on facebook and wrote a status update, “Anybody else hear about that failed terrorist attack in the park?”

All about soccer

I’ve tried a couple of times now to get into soccer, but it never takes. There are the obvious drawbacks: it’s too boring, it’s too foreign, it’s too popular. But it’s so easy to just sit back and make fun of soccer. Why not look at this objectively? Why can’t I get into soccer? What could be done to make soccer more appealing?

I think a lot of the problem lies in the fact that I really can’t seem to get into any sports. Sure, I have a very limited knowledge of what’s going on in sports, generally. Like, I know that Miami won the NBA championships. I didn’t watch any games. I watched some Knicks games, but only because everyone else I knew was constantly watching them, so I kind of only knew what was going on by association. And even then, my facts were garbled and came out all wrong if I tried to repeat them to somebody else. Does anybody else remember when the Knicks got rid of their coach Dan Tony? Yeah, I thought it was kind of a weird name also.

But at least if I watch a basketball game, I don’t have to be paying too much attention to at least know what’s going on. It’s the same with other sports, like hockey. You just kind of watch for a few minutes here and there and you can kind of get the gist of how it’s being played. But every time I watch soccer I’m just so bored, like beyond bored, and I’m pretty sure that even my friends who are sports fans are also bored, but they’re sports fans, so they can’t really admit how bored they are.

And it can’t be just the pace of the game. Baseball is unimaginably slow also, but even that is at least somewhat possible to follow. Baseball almost makes it a point to be slow. They want you to only be paying attention once in a while. This way you can buy snacks and spend eight dollars on a beer. It’s the kind of sport that you shouldn’t actually try to keep your eyes on for the whole game. And chances are, even with the most limited of attention spans, you won’t have missed anything.

But soccer demands constant attention. Watching a soccer game is like babysitting a one year old. It won’t just sit there, out of the way. The one year old baby insists on crawling around everywhere, never sitting still, touching everything. Best case scenario, it doesn’t cry. But usually, it’s going to want to stick its tongue in the wall socket, you’re going to have to say no, and it’s going to start wailing until it decides that it wants to play with the antique vase at the top of the bookshelf. The whole time, you have to sit there. You can’t take your eyes off the baby for a second. Maybe, and this is a big maybe, the baby will do something adorable, or it will look you in the eye and laugh, and you’ll feel like maybe you had a brief connection with this cute little kid. But more often than not, you’re just sitting there, counting down the second until its parents come back.

That right there is the perfect description of a soccer game. I’ve only ever been to one game, but that’s exactly what it was like. All of the fans were chanting nonstop, in unison, elaborate songs and dances, not even a chance to rest for a second, not even a minute to grab a beer or buy a snack. No, you’re demanded to pay attention to every single pass, every out of bounds, every blocked shot. Most of the time the game’s just going to end in a tie, zero to zero.

I think I might be a little biased. Even I know that it’s not exactly professional to try something once and then completely write it off. I think there has to be a deeper reason for my profound dislike of soccer. I only played soccer for one year in the second grade. My coach was this huge asshole named Ben Dash. His grandson was on the team and his name was Ben Dash also. Coach Dash only ran one play: get the ball to Ben Dash. Well one time I got the ball, which, considering my complete lack of anything even remotely close to a ball-handling skill, was a minor miracle in and of itself. As soon as my foot touched the ball, I heard a shout from the sidelines. It was Ben Dash. He was screaming to me, “Pass the ball to Ben Dash!”

Not today. I went for it. I charged down the field, a blur, expertly passing all of the players in my way. I got to the goal and shot. And I missed completely. Then I heard Coach Ben Dash calling me off the field. Come on! I just had a shot! That’s huge in soccer! But it turned out that I had shot on my own goal. I turned around and realized that all of the players I had ran past were my own teammates. Everyone was laughing at me, all of the other parents, even my parents. It wasn’t my fault, it was soccer’s fault.

I’ve always thought soccer would be better played with three or four soccer balls at the same time. There also should be a three point line. And a four point line. And some traps. I also think it would be cool if somebody made a sport that was like real life foosball. They could attach all of the players to giant poles that would swing us all around wildly, allowing us to turbo-kick the ball. That would be awesome. It would be like a thrill ride and a sport at the same time.

One day I’m going to buy my own soccer team and I’m just going to order all of my players to try to pick up the ball with their hands and just throw it into the net. Even if the refs blow the whistle, just keep going, I’ll tell them, don’t stop. I don’t care how many players get ejected from the game, I’ll be paying my players so well that nothing will be able to stop them. And I’ll bring my own scoreboard to the game and I’ll count every goal that we throw in our opponents’ net. And I’ll host my own championship match, and if the other team doesn’t show up, I’ll call it as a forfeit, that we won. Eventually I’ll just be so loud and obnoxious, our victories scored higher and higher, our end-of-the-game parades more and more elaborate, that the other teams won’t have any choice but to stoop to my level. I’ll have finally made soccer interesting and watchable. And the whole world will thank me. And I’ll say, you’re welcome.

All rise

I’ve always thought that I’d make an excellent judge. I’m constantly judging everything and everyone else. The government should just make it official and appoint me to the bench. Having everyone call me “your honor,” constantly, day after day, I’m sure it would go to my head eventually, but not for a while. I’m confident that I could make it through ten to fifteen solid years of judging before I would become totally corrupted by my own absolute power. But that’s a long way off. History can be a judge’s only judge, and I think it’s going to judge me by my judicial accomplishments, not by my consolidation of authority or long, rambling speeches that I’ll often make, totally unprompted, right towards the end of an oral argument, just as everyone thinks they’re about to go home, but then I’ll start talking, and I’ll demand everyone’s attention. No bathroom breaks.

I’ll start off probably as a local judge. Every judge has to start somewhere. But I’ll start radically interpreting even the most minor municipal laws in such ways that make it impossible for anyone to ignore my ambition. And I’ll make it to the top. Can judges run for office while they’re sitting on the bench? I think I’d be able to do that. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to run two branches of government at the same time. I could check and balance myself. I’m a fair guy.

But what about the robes? It would probably be a little hasty to just get rid of them all at once, so right before each case, I’d make a slight alteration on my outfit, an almost imperceptible shift in style. But eventually the judge’s robe would wind up completely reimagined. It would be all leather. Leather pants. Leather jacket. Sunglasses. It would be great. We’d all look like a bunch of Terminators. I’d keep the hammer though, or gavel, whatever you want to call it, it’s still basically a hammer. But I’d replace the regular boring hammers with replicas of Thor’s hammer. And I’d rig the court so that whenever I banged it down, the lights would flicker and go out, but just for a second, before coming back on. And I’d never address it. People would just be left to wonder what the hell was behind the mystery of my hammer and the lights.

Most judges tend to stay out of the public eye, not bothering to involve themselves in the national discourse. I would do the opposite. I’d go on elaborate bus tours throwing my judicial weight wherever I’d feel it to be needed.

Judging by my complete inability to keep up this pace of writing, I think I may have misjudged my topic today. I just thought, OK, I’ll sit down and write something funny. And I thought, OK, I’ll write about being a judge. But after like first paragraph I could tell that it wasn’t working out. Maybe it’s because I’ve already exhausted for the time being these themes about power and what I’d do if I had any real authority. I’ve written about being Mayor. I’ve written about running for City Council. And now judge? If I’m going to keep writing about imaginary positions of power, I should at least space them out a little bit.

I’m rereading what I’ve written so far, and I’d like to apologize. The thing about the robes is clearly not funny. And the hammer? I mean, I don’t get what inspired me to put that down in the first place. I just thought, if I can somehow fit the word judge into every sentence, then this thing would basically write itself. But even that idea doesn’t strike me as funny anymore. I feel like I started this piece off as a completely different person, and somewhere through the middle, something just switched, and I’ve realized that everything that I’ve written so far has been a terrible, terrible mistake.

So then I was like, well, I better just start over. But starting over? Man, what a waste of time. I said to myself, Rob, all you have to do here is just keep going, but talk about how bad the writing was. That’s interesting, right? But even that just isn’t doing it for whatever reason. So then I thought I’d write about my decision to keep going, in spite of my acknowledging my disappointment with what I’ve produced so far, and that’s the paragraph that I’m currently writing, so I’ve basically caught up to myself, and the only thing that I have left to write about is the sentence that I’m currently in the middle of writing, and once it’s done, it’s done, and I’m afraid I won’t have anything left to say until tomorrow.