Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Modest Proposal (in place of a book review)

Dear Mr. Richard Branson,

My husband works for the Arclight movie theatre chain here in California, which means that despite the fact that our combined income would be what you would consider starvation level, we are able to distract ourselves from our hunger by going to all the free movies we can make time for between Monday and Thursday, and after 6pm on Sundays.

This is how I was able to see the first two hours of Watchmen. You may not be aware of this film; I realize that you have little time for frivolous time-wasting, what with traveling around the world in hot air balloons and marketing space travel to tourists. So in case you don't know, Watchmen is a movie based on a comic book about people who put on costumes and go fight crime without being solicited to do so. I don't call them superheroes because only one of them actually has any super powers, and he received those powers through exposure to deadly levels of radiation (radiation may, in fact, be a direct conduit to the acquisition of superhuman abilities, but I feel that at this time the research has been inconclusive and the necessary testing would take much too long for our purposes).

Anyway, I hated the movie, but it did get me thinking: why hasn't anybody ever put on a costume and run out to fight crime just for shits and giggles? It seems to me that there's definitely a market for it. I mean, you probably couldn't expect to get paid directly for services rendered, but there are endorsement deals, marketing tie-ins (toys, cereal, etc.), one could possibly sell one's life-rights for book and movie deals--you see what I'm getting at. On the other hand, being a successful costumed crime fighter would also require a rare combination of specialized abilities and start-up capital, and there are very few people in the world who could realistically hope to adopt such a lifestyle.

Which brings me to you. You obviously have money to invest; it's not a secret. You've also made a name for yourself as something of a maverick and a risk-taker, so I figure if anyone would bite on this pitch, you'd be my man. You could put our plan into action, probably faster than anyone else in the world, because you already have homes and offices all over the globe, some or all of which could be converted within a few months to top-secret hideouts. You also seem to be in pretty good physical condition, so I thought maybe you'd view this as a bit of a lark. I mean, you've done everything else there is to do. How long has it been since somebody came to you with a new way to get that adrenaline flowing? I thought so.

On the other hand, although you would be my first and only choice for our ringleader, I realize that as a man with a lot to lose you might not want to get your own hands dirty out on the street. Even if you are willing to fight the bad guys face to face, it's always better to have backup than to be out on your own in dangerous situations. So I have also compiled a list of people we could ask to join our crime-fighting league:

MICHAEL PHELPS- It hasn't been so long since Michael Phelps won all those Olympic medals, so even if he's been chowing the pot brownies night and day for the last year, it would be the work of a couple of months to get him back into top physical form. Swimming is a seasonal sport; it doesn't translate well into entertainment and the truly major competitions are infrequent enough that Phelps has a lot of downtime to pour into cleaning up our city streets. Another big advantage he has over most of the rest of the list is that in another year or two, nobody will remember who he is, so keeping his true identity a secret won't be too much of a challenge.

KEN JENNINGS- This is another guy who has a lot of downtime these days, and sure, you know his name, but could you pick him out of a lineup? I doubt it. He has “mastermind” written all over him, but he's nebbishy enough that he won't challenge your authority. This is a double-sided coin, however, as he lacks the sheer physical abilities of the other gentlemen I am proposing. I believe that Jennings' best course in crimefighting would be to use his incredible brain to invent a number of wacky gadgets and vehicles that will do his work for him. I am confident in his abilities to do this. Also, as a Mormon, he will add that straight-edge moral fiber that we want the kids to be emulating.

DWAYNE “THE ROCK” JOHNSON- Down side: he's pretty recognizable. Up side? He's practically a super hero already! He's got the abilities, he's got access to costumes--he's even already got his moniker picked out. He could be very useful in forming our group and helping his fellow costumed heroes sort of “get their stride” in fighting crime. However, due to his busy schedule and high level of recognizability, we should probably only call him in for special jobs after the first few months. Another possibility along these lines: Shaquille O'Neal.

MADONNA-
As another huge celebrity, Madonna would constantly run the risk of her cover being blown, but I feel that she deserves this opportunity not just because she's in practically bionic shape, but also because she's angry. What is she angry about? I don't know for sure. But according to Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie and Alex Rodriguez and her brother Chris and her daughter Lourdes and her other kid whose name I don't know, she's got a lot of anger to burn. I feel that we could help her channel this anger in a direction that would benefit mankind, instead of killing her therapist.

MICHELLE OBAMA- Recognizable for now, but also in great shape, and with the government connections we may find ourselves needing in order to clean up any unfortunate residual mess. She's in good shape and we could easily get her into better, and of all our heroes, I can most easily see her grooming her daughters into a second generation of bigger, better, badder heroes (maybe by that time, we will be able to harness radiation to our super-power generating whims). She will be difficult to approach discreetly, but I feel that the effort will be worth our while.

Please look over my proposal and let me know what you think. You have been an entrepreneur far longer than I have, so I know that you will have invaluable input, and together we can smooth over whatever details I may have overlooked. As soon as you would like to schedule a meeting, please contact me by shooting an orange butterfly-shaped flare over the Hollywood sign between 11:39pm and 12:04am on any night between Tuesday and Saturday, excepting Friday. I look forward to doing business with you!

All the best,

Monarchia

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Most Fun I've Had Without Laughing

I'd like to start this post by apologizing, because I'm going to start blowing pretty hard. Expect 1,000 or so words of blowhard, starting as soon as the italicized words end. When I started this blog, I really wanted to not be the guy who bitches about his everyday life, because there are a thousand blogs like that. I really want this blog to not be one of them. I hope I'm succeeding. That said, I'm really fucking angry, and I'm sick of Art Nerds.

When I left the warm, friendly basement of adidas for the dimly lit confines of Arclight Cinemas, I entered a world of Art Nerds. I deal with four types of people now. Old people, who I usually don't mind. The other day, I met one of the greatest old people of all time, Shirley MacLaine. I also deal with asshole teenagers, and people on dates. These are people I can deal with. Art Nerds, on the other hand, are completely goddamned insufferable. I hate them. They look down their noses at people with common taste. Don't let an Art Nerd know that your favorite movie is, say, Toy Story. They'll berate you for swallowing the swill that the Disney corporation has shoved down the throat of the consumer for nearly a century, and tell you that the only animated film worth watching is The Thief and the Cobbler, which, by the way, was the movie Disney ripped off to make Aladdin, IN CASE YOU DIDN'T KNOW.

To be fair, I'm an Art Nerd, but for music. I'm willing to admit it, and I'm not even that ashamed of it. I'm willing to spend hours fighting over which Velvet Underground album is the best one. It's White Light/White Heat, by the way. That's not what this post is about, though. This post is about my favorite movie, Annie Hall. Everybody I encounter knows this, because one of the things that Arclight Cinemas makes all of their employees wear is a lanyard with our names and our favorite movies. Believe it or not, a lot of the name tags say Pulp Fiction. Mine, as you no doubt have guessed, says Annie Hall. Here are actual reactions I've gotten from people regarding my choice of Annie Hall:

Old People: “Oh, look honey, Annie Hall! You know, going to see that movie was our first date!” (Awwww.)

Asshole Teenagers: “Uh, what the fuck does Annie Hall mean? Oh? I've never seen that. Who's Woody Allen?”

People on Dates think it's hilarious to try and stump me with their favorite Woody Allen quotes. Luckily, they only ever quote from the same two movies, Annie Hall and Manhattan. I always tell them to watch Take the Money and Run. It's way better than Manhattan.

Finally, there's the Art Nerds. Last week, a pair of fat Art Nerds wearing Buddy Holly glasses indignantly groaned “Annie Haaaall?” when reading my name tag. I asked them what was wrong with Annie Hall. I mean, it's really funny, it's got great characters, and hell, it even won the Academy Award for Best Picture. They gave me a look like I had punched them in their shared cunt.

“Uh, you know, another film was released in 1977. A little film by the name of 'Star Wars.' Maybe you've heard of it? Annie Hall isn't as good as Star Wars.”

Normally, I'm willing to accept somebody not liking Woody Allen. I know his jokes aren't for everybody - only smart people. I even like the first three Star Wars movies. Like, a lot. I don't like them enough to own Star Wars bedsheets or anything, but I really liked the three movies, and even enjoyed the Knights of the Old Republic video games. I don't like to talk about Star Wars, because once I do, I become One Of Them. Once I become One Of Them, there's no going back. I make jokes about AT-ATs and Lando Calrissian. I explain to people why I think Boba Fett sucks. I go into a nerd fugue state, black out, and wake up three towns over dressed like Emperor Palpatine with a sore jaw and $85 in my wallet.

I wouldn't have picked a fight with these Art Nerds, but they really wanted one. They told me that Diane Keaton wasn't a good actress. I lost it. I told them that Star Wars was a movie for children. I told them that George Lucas has done more harm than good. I told them that A New Hope isn't even the best Star Wars movie, which it's not. Empire Strikes Back is waaaaay better. If they had stuck around any longer, I'd have told them that John Candy as Barf in Spaceballs did a better job than Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca.

As they left the box office area in disgust, I heard one of them loudly bellow “Annie Hall! What a fucking idiot. Star Wars got fucking robbed.” Fuck that, dude. Uh, you know, another film was released in 1977. A little film by the name of 'The Goodbye Girl.' Maybe you've heard of it? Star Wars isn't as good as The Goodbye Girl. Okay, maybe it is, I don't know. What I do know is that Julia, another film that was nominated in 1977, is a drama set in Nazi Germany. The Academy loves Nazi movies. Schindler's List and The Sound of Music, just to name two. It's amazing Triumph of the Will didn't at least get nominated. Now that's a film.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Adidas Story 7: Shitwater Canyon and Fruit Flygueroa

The adidas store in Santa Monica was on the 3rd Street Promenade, which was located right near the Pacific Ocean. Because of this, our sewer system was beleaguered by many horrible problems, the least of which not being a devilish liquid known as shitwater. Shitwater, as one might glean from its name, was black water which would rise out of the floor drains in the stockroom. There was one such drain adjacent to the break room, and another in the closet where we kept all of the shopping bags. Usually, the shitwater would bubble up, stink up the stockroom for a day or two, and mysteriously seep back down the drain.

One summer, the shitwater decided to stick around. Not for a few days, mind you. For two whole weeks. The horrible, rancid, headache-inducing stench of the shitwater finally rose up out of the stockroom, and wrought its noxious wrath upon the poor adidas customers. The combination of the oppressive heat and the stench actually drove customers away. They could smell it from outside the store and refused even to enter. You can imagine the toll it took on the employees. The worst part was adidas corporate dragging their feet in funding the necessary repairs. At first, the stockroom team was expected to clean up this mess, using mops and buckets. Believe it or not, this didn't work. We even sprung for a bag of some kind of super absorbent gel, which just managed to make it smell worse. We dumped bleach into the puddle to try and disinfect it, hoping to kill the stench. Nothing worked. Eventually it smelled like a puddle of rancid, scummy, moldy shit, with top notes of bleach.

When adidas corporate finally decided we were losing too many sales to the shitwater, they paid for a cleanup crew to come in and assess the damages. No regular plumber would take the job, so we had to employ the use of a fucking disaster relief company. It was amazing. Apparently the damage was to the tune of over $10,000. Not only would the shitwater need to be pumped away, but the tiles would have to be ripped up to kill the possibly carcinogenic mold, the walls would have to be re-painted, the entire septic system would have to be gutted and re-assembled, the break room would have to be re-floored, and the entire area would have to be quarantined. They taped thick mylar sheets to the walls, ceiling and floor, complete with an airlock system that involved zipping and unzipping the plastic to get in and out of the contaminated area. If you were to enter, you'd need to wear one of those all-white plastic body suits, making you look like a hilarious combination of Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and gigantic sperm. Brian or Laura may still have a picture of me wearing one. I liked to call it the sperm suit, but the hood made me look like a Klansman. Many hilarious white supremacist jokes were made. Oh, there were also high levels of asbestos in the walls.

Like so many things at adidas, this situation wouldn't have been nearly as bad if some foresight had occurred. Nobody had any reason to go into the contaminated area for a few days after it was set up. Then we realized that all of the toilet paper was on the other side of the mylar walls. Now, I'm not going to mince words here. I really like getting paid to shit. It's a great feeling. I wasn't going to let the threat of mesothelioma prevent me from shitting at work, so I volunteered to go get more toilet paper. I was sent off like a local boy going off to war, and was heralded as a hero upon my return with my 2-ply bounty.

The shitwater wasn't the only unsanitary situation at adidas. The summer before the shitwater, we were presented with a more insidious beast: millions of fruit flies. They congregated in the elevator landing at first, buzzing around the garbage bags that were left out from the night before. Then they started appearing around the floor drains that would later be the source of the dreaded shitwater. Then they moved into the break room, spawning in the Sparklets water bubbler. Once again, the stockroom had to deal with the problem. We were armed with cans of Raid and bug bombs. We were to determine the best places to set off these bug bombs and do so safely, at our discretion. This, of course, meant that we fucked around with them. My favorite move was pulling the trigger on the bug bomb, rolling it down a hallway, then diving away just as it started to spew its deadly payload. Khaleeah took a much more direct approach - she decided to cover her nose and mouth with one hand, and with the other she just held the bug bomb next to a lighting fixture as the smoke poured out. Thousands of tiny black eggs dropped out from inside the lights, falling like a sick rain. This wasn't a great plan, as a bunch of them landed in her hair.

The other bug bombs were used the way they were supposed to be (BORING), and the next morning we showed up to work and were greeted with a sea of dead gnats. We swept up millions of these things. A few of us uncovered a bucket with about 600 or so gnats floating around in a pool of scummy chemicals. It was quite a sight. Normally, I don't like to end my posts with a bummer, but I got paid $9 an hour for this shit, and I got paid more than most people. It's a wonder there hasn't been a fucking revolution yet.

PS: If your name is Brian or Laura and you have a picture of me in the Klansman/Stay Puft/Sperm Suit, please email it to me. It's josh.grimmer@gmail.com. I'll be sure to post it here as soon as it arrives.

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If you would like to read more adidas stories, here are the links:
1 Seth and Yanira
2 Area Leads and the NBA Event
3 Sweatshirt Folding and Orwellian Mindgames
4 (I Don't Want to go to) Chelsea
5 Stockroom MADNESS!
6 Santa Monica T-Shirt Boulevard
7 Shitwater Canyon and Fruit Flygueroa
8 Slowpoke Rodriguez and the Adidas Cavalcade of Stars!
9 How to Lose Friends and Influence Nobody
10 From the Basement to the Dream Factory

Friday, March 20, 2009

And I skipped breakfast, so it's off to Burger King!

Since we began podcasting, we have heard positive reviews from as many as four people. We at the mousebed have taken this to mean that what you want is THREE TIMES AS MUCH PODCASTING!

That's right folks. You get not one but TWO podcasts this week, adding up to roughly eight thousand total minutes of awesome.

Podcast #1 is our special edition Taking A Fifteen Basketball Spectacular. We talk about day #1 of the NCAA tournament, our play-in liveblog, and my post on the first day of the NCAAs.

Podcast #2 features a pissed off Josh ranting about Physics. It's even more awesome than it sounds.


Enjoy the podcasts, everybody!

At long last, Ahmad Bradshaw is a free man, and apparently for good this time. Thank you for your continued support of the mousebed's commitment to justice in 21st century America. Pray that neither you nor anyone you love is ever subjected to the egregiously whimsical and utterly reprehensible application of the law from which Mr. Bradshaw has suffered for the last several years. This is why we cannot allow Redskin fans and/or racists to continue working in our courts; please vote accordingly.




Adidas Story 6: Santa Monica T-Shirt Boulevard

One of the problems our store began to face at the end of 2007 was a steady decline in t-shirt sales. For some reason, adidas decided that their stores would be judged on how many t-shirts they were selling, so in a misguided attempt to cash in on the tourist market in Los Angeles, decided to start selling shirts with “Santa Monica” emblazoned on the front, with various retarded designs. They were 100% cotton, came in styles for both men and women, and were all totally fucking ugly. One of the men's shirts had a weird cartoon drawing of the famous Santa Monica Pier. For those of you who saw the South Park episode about homeless people, this is where the homeless were depicted swarming the beach in Santa Monica. One of the women's shirts had a fruity seahorse on it. These shirts were seriously ugly. Ugly, and $20.

The worst part about these ugly, unsellable shirts was that every employee was forced to wear them. We were all given one shirt, and one shirt only. This was to be worn every day for what turned out to be about three months. By the end, we all smelled like rotting cotton. The real problem wasn't how the employees smelled, it was the sheer volume of shirts delivered. I don't remember exactly how many shirts were delivered, but I seem to remember by the time they left the store, it was over 4,000.

Before they got shipped, they took up so much space in our stockroom that when we received more cases of them, we didn't even bother to open them. Nobody bought these fucking things. Earlier that year we had received something along the lines of 5,000+ pieces of David Beckham merchandise, but at least people were interested in that shit to begin with. Between the mountain of unwanted Los Angeles Galaxy gear and the massive heap of unsold Santa Monica t-shirts, we were in quite a bind. There was no way for us to move all of these shirts by the end of the year, and it's not like we could ship them out to one of our outlets. If a bunch of ugly shirts that said “Santa Monica” on them couldn't sell in Santa Monica, then they certainly didn't stand much of a chance in Camarillo, Cabazon, Park City, Carlsbad, Gilroy, either of the Las Vegas outlets, or anywhere else for that matter.

We decided for Christmas that for each $100 purchase, each customer would get five dollars off their purchase and a free Santa Monica t-shirt. This seemed like a great deal for the customer. What actually happened was adidas was running a promotion where if you made a $100 purchase, you got $25 off. We decided to throw in a $20 t-shirt, making it look free. This was the work of our fearless leader Alon, and I must admit that this strategy was diagoddamnedbolical. Tom Hanks even got one.

If you Google the phrase adidas Santa Monica t-shirt, you unfortunately do not get any pictures of these hideous shirts. What you do get is this link to a forum for soccer fans. This wouldn't be remarkable except for the fact that the thread linked here details the Chelsea, England soccer team's first visit to our humble store, where hundreds of fans were not allowed into the building due to poor management of the line, bad security and a misunderestimation of the size of the crowd. Luckily, this took place the day before I started working at the store. To avoid such an embarrassment the next year, adidas made sure to let fewer people in the building, managed the line better, and made it a point to order too much Chelsea apparel. This wouldn't have been a problem - Chelsea gear usually sells year-round at adidas - but the team decided to grodify their jersey designs.

This was the home jersey:
Photobucket
Not hideous. Pretty nice, actually.

This was the old away jersey:
Photobucket
Also pretty nice. Same as the blue, but in white. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, when we received the order of 4,000 pieces of Chelsea apparel, this was the new away jersey:
Photobucket
GRAAAAAAAA! ELECTRIC MADNESS!

It was really bad. It actually hurt people to look at these jerseys. Like, it put physical strain on the eye. And we had thousands of them, in both adult and kid sizes. At one point we had these horrible jerseys, the mountains of Beckham gear and the scads of Santa Monica t-shirts. None of this shit moved, and they always wondered why the stockroom looked cluttered.

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If you would like to read more adidas stories, here are the links:
1 Seth and Yanira
2 Area Leads and the NBA Event
3 Sweatshirt Folding and Orwellian Mindgames
4 (I Don't Want to go to) Chelsea
5 Stockroom MADNESS!
6 Santa Monica T-Shirt Boulevard
7 Shitwater Canyon and Fruit Flygueroa
8 Slowpoke Rodriguez and the Adidas Cavalcade of Stars!
9 How to Lose Friends and Influence Nobody
10 From the Basement to the Dream Factory

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Little Runner in the Lane


All this is is another story about the dumb shit Josh and John used to do when Josh lived on Cape Cod. This time, it happens to be related to college basketball. If you are looking for something that will actually get you excited about March Madness you have come to the wrong place. However, we highly recommend the coverage provided by Friend Of The Mousebed Brian Doyle at Deadspin and SportsJudge.

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For college students attending public colleges and universities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this week is their SPRING BREAK! WOO! Typically, the popular, irresponsible, and comparatively well-heeled students at such institutions fly south to warm, exotic locations to poison themselves and contract sexually transmitted diseases from strangers giving false names. They later return to the Bay State to publish damning and undeniable photographic evidence of their week's debauchery in extreme states of undress for classmates and future job interviewers to secretly inspect. Participants later refer to this as the time of their life during coffee breaks from construction work.

For the less fortunate, less popular, financially incapable, or (GASP!) temperate, Spring Break is a pointless interruption of life as they've come to know it, forcing them to return to their hometowns to deal with their parents and the continued crappy weather. Mousebed writers Josh Grimmer and John Cabral each fell squarely within the latter demographic. Fortunately, this week often coincides with the beginning of the NCAA Division I Men's College Basketball Tournament. We join our heroes in the Town of Barnstable in March of 2004. This is their story, as told by the Podcaster General.

Appreciating my tale will require some historical perspective. In 2009, any schmuck with a high speed internet connection can watch any game under the sun on ncaasports.com, provided they can withstand the barrage of advertising by Pontiac and AT & T. As Alex Rodriguez knows, it was a different world in 2003. In this world, the Southern New England tourament viewer was at the mercy of notoriously incompetent switchboard operators at CBS national, WBZ Boston, and WPRI Providence. These people crafted a science of keeping the most competivive games in the dark, cutting away from live look-ins at the worst possible time, and sticking with games of supposed geographic interest for much longer than anyone cared to watch. Is there a big upset brewing out west? Tough shit, Hyannis! You're supposed to care about UConn's 35 point lead on Radford -- they're practically right next door!

From 1999-2004, one of the only nearby locations that was immune to this crap was the Cabral household; remember, this was before the NCAA was smart enough to bundle these games on Pay-Per-View like the NFL Sunday Ticket. As the only non-Brazilian Hyannis home equipped with Dish Network, we were able to receive over the air broadcast TV stations from New York and Los Angeles in addition to Boston. New York made sense. My dad is an avid Yankee and Giant fan; at the time 50% of Yankee games and over 75% of Giants games were on New York's Fox affiliate, making it well worth the $5 per month. Why did we get the Los Angeles channels you ask? My cousin is and was a Los Angeles police officer. In the event that he was ever participating in one of those live, televised high-speed chases, and we somehow found out about it as it was happening 3,000 miles away, then the Cabrals were going to see that shit live. But the LA affiliates also had other secondary benefits. Quick show of hands: were you watching Vin Scully live on KTLA when Fernando Tatis took Chan Ho Park deep to become the only player in baseball history to hit two grand slams in the same inning off the same pitcher? Looks like my hand's the only one up. Also, if you missed a good show at 8, you could always catch it at 11 on the LA affiliate. It was like a retarded version of TiVo.

But the most important asset provided by these LA affiliates, by far, was the immunity to regional coverage of major sporting events. I haven't missed a big NFL game or a March Madness barnburner in over a decade. In 2004, I decided to share this embarrassing wealth with my good friend Josh. I was on spring break from UMass Dartmouth, as he was from Bridgewater State. I had just gotten my driver's license earlier that week (sad, true story), and I was looking for excuses to hit the open road. As luck would have it, my parents had to go to Boston that day, leaving me with a vacant living room AND a vacant vehicle for the afternoon. The plan was simple: go pick Josh up in West Barnstable, bring him back to my personal Mecca of the hardwood, and watch as many college basketball games as possible. Phase three is profit.

Too bad it was snowing that day.

I arrived at Josh's house without incident, keeping slow and steady on the snowy roads. But upon arriving, I made a fatal mistake: navigating Josh's driveway in a low-to-the-ground sedan. An experienced driver would've recognized such a car's inability to climb a steep, comically inconvenient driveway in crappy weather. An idiot who had been driving for two days thinks he's invincible, and goes right on down. Josh hopped in, and we headed up the driveway to leave. As you've probably already predicted, we got stuck at the top -- inches off the road, but miles from our destination.

We tried pushing. I tried flooring the gas pedal. We tried each of these methods many times, with me pissing through over half a tank of gas in the process. Eventually, we gave up and called AAA. Of course, the number of requests for tow trucks spikes in a snow storm. This came as a surprise to us, but helping two dumbass freshmen move their car three feet from a place where it was in no danger to a place where it will be in more danger is not a high priority for any Cape Cod towing services during a storm. We were told to wait for two hours.

Shortly after this occured, the incomparable Kathy Grimmer arrived home from work. She couldn't get in her driveway, of course, since it was blocked by some car she'd never seen. In this situation, a normal person would put their car in park, get out, and try to ascertain what was going on on their property. Kathy, on the other hand, decided to remain in the car, drive it right in front of mine, and blankly stare at me for what seemed like an eternity until I decided to throw it in reverse and back down to the bottom of the hill, ruining whatever progress Josh and I may have made in the prior hour.

We went inside, and watched the painfully restrictive Boston/Providence coverage while we waited on the tow truck. We tried to come up with schemes to get the car out before the truck arrived, since that required a patience that we lacked. Josh asked his mother for salt, since, you know, that melts ice. She gave him enough salt to cover the half inch of your hand immediately below where your fingers begin. Josh asked for more, reasoning that this would probably not be enough to free a Crown Victoria from the shackles of New England winter. She told Josh that she couldn't because she had "just bought this salt" and therefore "couldn't afford to just be giving it away." Oh.

When the tow truck finally arrived, it was manned by a gentleman who was skilled in towing, but not in communication. As he hitched the car up to his truck, he commanded me to sit in the driver's seat of the car and await further instruction. He then began a series of completely indecipherable hand signals, which caused me to do unhelpful things behind the wheel. After several minutes of this business, he came up to the window, muttered insulting things in broken language, laughed at me, and then cut the wheel in the preferred direction. He told me to "just hit the gas" and walked back to the truck with a laugh. After the truck door shut, I said "How about you I leave the towing to you, and you leave the English speakin' to me?" You probably had to be there, but Josh Grimmer thought line that was so funny that he still talks about it five years later, hence this post.

The day was anti-climactic after that, with Josh and I arriving in Hyannis and binging on Len Elmore and Billy Packer for the rest of the day and night. Today, I've been able to watch seven different games without having to use a television or even do anything illegal. It truly is the golden media age in which we live, but when I think back on the struggle of that snowy day, I can't help but think it's a little too easy.

Enjoy the games, everyone.



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

PLAY-IN GAME LIVE BLOG AT 7 PM, Y'ALLS!


Had I written my NCAA Tournament post for yesterday like I said I would, then this post would need no explanation. That did not happen, however, so you will have to wait until Thursday for that post. It'll make more sense then, since it'll be on the day of the actual tournament.

If there's one thing that Josh and I love, it's the play-in game to the NCAA tournament. For those of you unfamiliar, the NCAA play-in game has been held each year since 2001 (Please note that it was aired on TNN, and was color commentator Rick Pitino's first public appearance after disgracefully quitting the Celtics weeks earlier. Yes, I was watching. Shut up.). Each year, two forgettable academic institutions with mediocre men's basketball programs play in a die-or-die soon contest to determine which school will have the privilege of being slaughtered by the #1 team in the country 48 hours later.

This game often features teams with sub-.500 records, and for some reason it always occurs in Dayton, Ohio. I challenge you to find a city more fitting for an event so futile. The play-in game's shittyness offers a beautiful irony, an irony savored by exactly two thirds of the mousebed staff each year.

Last night, we decided that we could not let such a special event go uncommemorated. So tonight, for the fist time ever, The Mousebed proudly presents its 2009 PLAY-IN GAME LIVE BLOG! That's right folks! Here's what you can expect:

  • The Alabama State Hornets
  • The Morehead State Eagles
  • Josh making fun of Ohio
  • John drooling over Erin Andrews
  • John rooting for Morehead State (see above)
  • Lots and lots and lots of wiseassed humor
We invite you to spend your St. Patrick's Day at your computer with us. Folks, the sporting world only revolves around Dayton, Ohio but once a year. This one's not to miss. The store is open at 6:45. And that's Eastern Daylight Time, you wheatgrass-drinking douchebags.



GO EAGLES!

Friday, March 13, 2009

A&P

I've been talking a lot lately about my various jobs. Stories about adidas, Arclight, even Blockbuster Video has come up recently. I still haven't told any tales about my first foray into the working world, the A&P Supermarket in Sandwich, MA. It's been nearly seven years since I worked for the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co., so my recollection of these tales may be slightly fuzzy. The good news is none of you, my beloved readers, knew me then, so who cares?

A&P, like so many supermarkets, hired teenagers. Dumb teenagers. Dumb teenagers who got themselves fired easily, despite the existence of a union that tried to protect them. One day, a gumball machine broke, availing its chalky, supersweet bounty to all. One of the kids who worked as a cart wrangler took about 100 gumballs, put them in a bag and started handing them out to people. When the management found out, they fired everybody they saw chewing gum. Fantastic work.

I wasn't a model employee at the A&P myself, believe it or not. Everybody had a favorite place to take an extra-long, union-mandated paid break. My location of choice was the butcher's area which, considering my vegetarian ways seemed odd to most. Really, I just liked hanging out by the coffee maker with Chris the butcher and Armenian George the baker. Chris was a regular guy who I went to high school with, but Armenian George was a trip. He was 6'4”, and he hated the A&P dress code. He often wore black sweatpants and flip flops while baking the bread. He also liked to pick up Ernie, the 80 year old guy who also worked in the bakery and carry him around the store, to the delight of all. Well, everybody but Ernie.

One night I was back there with Chris and Armenian George, looking through the one-way mirror that faced the bakery. There was a woman in front of the various rolls and loaves of bread, using a calculator to tally up the prices of the groceries she had already put in her cart. Armenian George didn't quite understand this. Apparently in his native Armenia, they didn't have calculators or something. Anyhow, he wasn't thrilled about this woman. I will do my best to faithfully recreate his reaction to this woman.

“Who the fuck is this bitch? She is using calculator. What for? Is she trying to add up my fucking breads? Stupid bitch, I know how many fucking breads I have, I bake the breads. Fucking cunt with calculator. Who does she think she is? Jesus, God. Can you believe this bitch with her fucking calculator? What a dumb cunt.”

When Chris and I explained to Armenian George the concept of budgeting your money, he didn't buy it. He couldn't believe the nerve of this woman, using her calculator to add up his breads. I'm not sure why he thought she would be adding up his breads. What would she gain from it? Anyhow, this woman captivated Armenian George. She was a regular, and every time he came through my line he would update me on her most recent activities.

“Fucking cunt with calculator, she was back here again. Yesterday she bought dozen muffins. I made sure to tell her how many were in the box to save her the trouble of adding them up. Jesus, God.”

That's another thing. Armenian George liked saying “Jesus, God.” The only other person I've known to use that expression is my mom, so take from that what you will.

---

Eventually, I left the A&P. I remember resigning due to some moral objection I had to the way things were being run there, but I don't know if it had anything to do with girls in bathing suits. The next job I took was at Staples, which we all know came to a disastrous end. During my two or so months there, I ran into Armenian George again. He came through my line and was buying a black leather briefcase. When I asked him why he was buying the briefcase, he told me that it was nothing to worry about, but it had to do with some “personal stuff, you know?” We made a little small talk and he finally asked me why I left A&P. I told him I wasn't happy with the way the store was being run, to which he replied, “So! That fucking cunt with that calculator finally got to you, too, man? Yeah, she keeps coming back. I saw her adding up the fishes in the seafood section yesterday. I don't understand why she keeps doing that. What does she stand to gain? I don't know, man. Jesus, God.”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Adidas Story 5: Stockroom MADNESS!

After the holidays, things slowed down at adidas. I wasn't really needed in apparel anymore, and since I wanted to be useful, I was moved into the stockroom. I was told by Charles, one of the managers, that I was being looked at for the position of stockroom coordinator, which I didn't really want. I wanted more money though, and that was the best way to do it. Before working at adidas, I had worked at Olympia Sports and Blockbuster Video. At both jobs I was responsible for shipments, so I figured this would be pretty easy. Unlike Olympia and Blockbuster, adidas actually kept track of what came into and was shipped out of the stockroom. This meant paperwork, scanning barcodes, and all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things that I had to do, and I was really bad at all of them. Luckily, I had the helpful, caring and gentle guidance of the other - and let's face it, best - stockroom coordinator, Laura.

I never got the coordinator position for many reasons, but the most obvious one was how much better Laura was at the job than I or anybody else was. Laura was meticulous, careful and above all else, crazy. I was once chastised for stapling some paperwork together wrong. Not in the wrong order, but at the wrong angle. Everything needed to be at 90 degree angles, everything needed to be laid flat, everything needed to be flush. I, as you may know, do not share her insane penchant for detail, and was verbally beaten down every time I did anything. This was because I was terrible at my job, mind you. Laura was often an unreasonable bitch, but for about six months I didn't do anything right. Despite this, she's still the best boss I ever had, and that includes the one I had sex with. One thing that baffled the managerial staff at adidas, and likely still does, was how Laura managed to build a fiercely loyal stockroom team. There were no more than six or so of us on staff at any given time, and we only ever worked when Laura told us to.

Before this turns into a Laura Barragan slobber-fest, I feel like I should tell some stories about the other wonderful people in the stockroom, starting with Amira. Amira was really good at “accidentally” hurting people. My second day at adidas, I needed something from the managers' office, so I knocked on the door. Amira was standing nearby, and thought it would be hilarious to push the door as hard as she could when David the team lead answered it. When she threw the door open, it cracked him in the forehead, leaving him with a Harry Potter-esque lightning bolt scar. Another time, we were unloading a shipment from the back of a UPS truck when Amira thought it would be hilarious throw a box at me when I wasn't looking. It hit me in the balls, which was met with thunderous laughter.

There was a guy who worked with me over in the footwear half of the stockroom named Junior. He was a pretty nice guy, but he was the type of guy who loved working out and wanted to make sure everybody knew he was a hit with the ladies. One day he came to work wearing a shirt with a picture of some Skittles with the caption “Taste My Rainbow.” I laughed my ass off and when he asked me why, I explained that the phrase “Taste My Rainbow” implied that he wanted other guys to blow him, to which he replied, “No way dude, that just means I like Skittles.” When other people corroborated my story, he decided to retire the shirt.

Finally, there was KJ. KJ didn't like to work, but not the way most people don't like to work. Most people like doing things that aren't work, such as fishing or skiing or collecting stamps. KJ wasn't a fan of effort. He liked starting projects, then walking away and hiding somewhere for hours at a time. The only thing he was truly passionate about was how much he hated white people. Once during inventory, he asked Khaleeah, one of the team leads, for a quarter. When said she didn't have any money, but if he really needed change, KJ should ask me. At this point, you could see the Malcolm X/Marcus Garvey/Spike Lee rage boiling inside him. He started yelling about how white people are a “disease” and that “if a black man should shamefully ask a white man for help, then he would become diseased” and that there will never be a black man in a real position of power because of racists like me. Less than two years later, we elected a black guy to be President, so who's the joke on? KJ loved pointing out the racism in the stockroom. Brian and I were both racist for not liking him. Brian, by the way, is of Salvadorian extraction. If one of us was keeping black culture down, it was Brian. El Salvador has never had a black President, that's for damn sure. I mean, look at Antonio Saca - he's practically almost not brown!

Anyhow, KJ would eventually stop getting shifts. He never officially got fired, as the store didn't want to pay him unemployment. At one point he was ordered to apologize to me for saying that white people are a disease, which I accepted under protest. I don't really give a fuck if some retard thinks I'm a disease. Once the white race rises up and destroys the impure, my point will have been proven.

---

If you would like to read more adidas stories, here are the links:
1 Seth and Yanira
2 Area Leads and the NBA Event
3 Sweatshirt Folding and Orwellian Mindgames
4 (I Don't Want to go to) Chelsea
5 Stockroom MADNESS!
6 Santa Monica T-Shirt Boulevard
7 Shitwater Canyon and Fruit Flygueroa
8 Slowpoke Rodriguez and the Adidas Cavalcade of Stars!
9 How to Lose Friends and Influence Nobody
10 From the Basement to the Dream Factory

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sound Lantern is Glass Joe and Skype is Don Flamingo

Trivia question: On which site did the following text appear?

HTTP Status 500 -

type Exception report

message

description The server encountered an internal error () that prevented it from fulfilling this request.

Trivia Answer: SoundLantern.com


Here's what you can expect in this week's podcast:
  • Josh pissed
  • John pissed
  • A metal taco coming out of a robot's asshole
  • Futile attempts to discuss topics including Bryan Geiler's birthday, Pedro Martinez, the Rte. 132 Dunkin' Donuts, and South Park



Enjoy the podcast, folks.




Free Ahmad Bradshaw

In Cold Blood: A Lesson in Farce

In Cold Blood follows the madcap adventures of young scalawag Dick Hickok and his irrepressible sidekick, Perry Smith. Through a series of comic mishaps reminiscent of the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope Road to… movies, Dick and Perry end up wandering into a random Kansas farmhouse and murdering the entire family inside, for no particular reason. They then flee the scene.

The middle of the story alternates between the subsequent antics of Dick and Perry, and the bumbling shenanigans of Alvin Dewey, a Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent, as he searches for the killers. Truman Capote employs an innovative style; although the influence of writers such as Noel Coward and P.G. Wodehouse is evident, Capote has expanded the bedroom farce style to cover the entire North American continent, with episodes as geographically distant as the Alaskan wilderness and the Mexican beaches. Such a vast stage refreshes stale comic devices like the closely-missed encounter, the closely-missed capture, and the closely-missed hitchhiking murder, making them not only hilarious again, but also technically breathtaking. I mean, obviously if the killers are in Mexico and the police are in Kansas, they'll never be found, but then there wouldn't be a story, right? It is a testimony of Capote's consummate skill that the heroes of the story manage to re-enter and re-exit the sphere of investigation--several times, as a matter of fact--and not only do they evade capture, but every time they yet again fail to be discovered by the police, the circumstances continue to seem utterly plausible.

Despite the rollicking hijinks, In Cold Blood is far more believable than most fiction, with virtually no plotholes; on the other hand, one wonders if Capote tells too much of the story. With a plot that runs in such a Keystone Kops vein (even with the larger-than-usual focus on the killers), one would expect the story to begin and end with the pursuit and capture of the criminals. Not so Mr. Capote's tale. Although the chase comprises that majority of the book, there are many unnecessary flashbacks to events which happened long before the crime in question, and on the other end of the story we follow Dick and Perry well past their capture--to the end of their lives, in fact. There is a certain ironic beauty to Capote's reminder that no matter how adorable the criminals, the punishment must fit the crime, and the fact that his story is so whimsical for so much of the book makes the complete downer of the ending all the more powerful.

On the other hand, most people don't read comic novels because they want to be preached to. So if you'd like a good laugh and don't want to be kicked in the teeth by a sad conclusion, go ahead and stop after Perry reveals to the police how he and Dick woke the Clutter family up in the middle of the night, tied them up in separate rooms, slit the father's throat and then shot him and his son, and then fought about whether they should rape the women before they ended up just shooting them each in the face. The rest of the story, which they spend in prison, is really just depressing.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ignore All That Nice Stuff About Sound Lantern

Ignore it because they fucked us.  Royally.  As in, the site crashed as we were uploading today's podcast.

Interesting note: I'm technically live-blogging from an NCAA Tournament event right now.  Will I get arrested?

Enjoy the podcast.  
Free Ahmad Bradshaw

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Money for Nothing

I have a weird narcissistic paranoia. For some reason I always expect to find free money wherever I go. Maybe this comes from my mom, who doesn't work and would like nothing more than to have free money rain down upon her from the skies. Every time I manage to convince myself that money doesn't just appear, something happens to undo that. Remember that episode of Doug when the titular character found an envelope with an absurd amount of cash in it, just to learn that it was lost by a little old lady? Well Doug gave the money back to the old lady. I never would. There was also a story on This American Life about a guy in Chicago who made a lot of money as a munitions dealer for warring gangs. He decided to get rid of his ill-gotten money by holding a yard sale and stuffing the cash into the cushions of a couch he was selling for ten dollars. Then every year or so, there's a stupid local news story about a guy buying a painting at a yard sale just to find that it had been painted on the back of an original draft of the Declaration of Independence. This kind of shit never happened to me, but I held out hope.

A few years ago, I was living in an old house in Bridgewater, MA. Every house in Bridgewater is old, but this one was particularly old. The house was owned by an old lady who had cordoned off a section of the house that nobody was allowed into, but anything on the other side of the mylar sheet she had tacked up was fair game. This basically meant that we were allowed to use her old pots and pans, and there were a few pieces of furniture that we could use. We were in college at the time, and my housemate and I were crazy broke. Since I lived in the attic, I was always finding weird shit, and to my surprise one day I found a few strange buckets stashed in the closet, all filled to the top with coins. When I told my housemate about the treasure trove, we both decided that it must have belonged to the old woman, but she was kind of a cooz, so fuck that. Plus, it was Christmas, and what better time of year to go to a Coinstar machine and use the spoils to buy stuff for our friends? We lugged our buckets out to the car, and headed down to the A&P, where we broke their Coinstar machine with our crazy coinage. We dragged the rest of the money down to a nearby Roche Brothers, and we managed to get about $160 when it was all said and done. We feasted on the McDonald's dollar menu and after buying a carton of cigarettes, we set off to get crappy Christmas presents for everybody. We came across a weird dollar store that seemed to have emerged from the mists, and we figured that was the best option. We were so right. All of our friends got pogs, board games and best of all, dollar store enemas. Enemae? Whatever. This all took place while I was failing out of school. We even gave our other housemate a treasure chest that we filled with play money. Attached was a note that read “Sorry we can never pay rent, hope this makes up for it.” Believe it or not, it didn't. Less than a month later I was kicked out of the house for being unemployed and useless. A week later, I found a wallet in the commuter cafeteria with no ID, no credit cards, nothing. Just $86 in cash. After a half-hearted attempt at trying to figure out who the money belonged to, I decided to pocket it.

---

A couple years later, I was once again unemployed and useless. For the record, I had held down jobs between getting kicked out of the house in Bridgewater and now. At this time I was useless and living in my parents' basement, but I had managed to find a job working for Blockbuster. This was another in a long line of shitty jobs, but at least I could make money on the side. Blockbuster sold used DVDs, which I got for a discount. Not a huge discount, but 15% off helped. I would use this discount to buy a movie, watch it, then sell it to the Newbury Comics for more than I paid. The real money came from TV box sets. I bought an SCTV set for $8.50 and sold it back for $30. Realistically this only made me about $20 a week, but it helped pay for gas. In hindsight, I should have just found a job that paid more money. In hindsight, I should have done a lot of things.

As a side note - and John Cabral can confirm this - Newbury Comics had a weird sale and decided to sell all of their Frank Zappa albums for like, five dollars. Naturally, I bought all of them, which is no small feat. About a year later, when I moved to California, I sold all of my CDs back to Newbury Comics for the dual purpose of having more cash and less stuff to move with. All of my Zappa CDs sold for six or seven dollars, so that made me a nice, $150 profit.

More recently, I've taken to selling things on eBay. This includes records, books, video games, old computer programs - anything. By the way, if you have a copy of Microsoft Office 2003 that you don't want anymore, feel free to send it to me. One of the nice things about eBay is that it can actually be free money. The amount of time it takes to post something to eBay is infinitesimal, and the results are almost always positive. I've started buying used records at Amoeba Records and selling them on eBay, as a nice sort of bookend to my Newbury Comics scheme.

---

Speaking of bookends, money's a little tight right now, so I took the bowl of change in the apartment down to Ralph's to dump it into the Coinstar machine there and get six or seven dollars. As my poor readers no doubt know, there's a tray at the bottom of the Coinstar machine where the rejected coins end up. Usually you end up finding a couple of chipped dimes or Canadian quarters. Once I found a loonie! Anyhow, yesterday was different. I checked the reject tray to find that somebody had left a mountain of coins there. Remember the urban legend about John Wayne's autopsy? It was like that but with impacted currency. I started scooping the change into my change carrying bowl (an old cereal bowl with a crack in it), and picked out the quarters for laundry. Once I got the first chunk of change out of the machine, another torrent of coins poured out. This thing was paying off.

After a few minutes of harvesting coins from the tray, I realized that this money no doubt belonged to somebody before I got here. I had a flashback to that episode of Doug. I immediately assumed the worst; I figured the money belonged to an old lady who can't afford her pills now because of this. Then I thought maybe I had been set up. Any second now Paul Moyer of the NBC 4 News would pop out of the bathroom and ask me where the coins in the reject tray ended up. Then he'd present me with video of me greedily scooping coins out of the tray, to be broadcast on the nightly news. Then all of Los Angeles would know I was an asshole.

Side note about Paul Moyer. There was a hilarious promo ad for the NBC 4 News that was supposed to extol the virtues of their investigative reporting team. The first guy was like “So and so served 25 years in the United States Marine Corps and fought in two wars.” The second guy was like “So and so was a member of the CIA from 1974-1988.” Paul Moyer's credentials were as follows: “Was once considered for manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates.” They probably should have led with Paul Moyer, is what I'm saying.

Anyhow, after my minor crisis of conscience, I figured the money probably belonged to a homeless person. This presented its own set of issues. First, I figured this guy needed the money way more than I did. Then I thought, well, how am I going to find this guy? It's not like I live in Mayberry and it's just a matter of finding Otis, the Town Drunk and giving him the cash. I live in Hollywood, a city second only to Santa Monica in roaming homeless population. I wasn't going to just give it to some random homeless guy, either. This would break my longstanding tradition of not giving money to the homeless.

While I had been considering the many possible origins of this ill-gotten booty, it had managed to filter its way into the Coinstar machine. It was over 20 dollars, and I decided I needed the money too much to care. If that makes me a bad person, then I'm a bad person. I took my receipt, went through the line and got my $26. I made it a point to make my escape from Ralph's as quickly as possible, in case the old lady from that episode from Doug was around. I headed across the street to the Quizno's for some delicious sub sandwich action. Do yourself a favor - don't try to eat anything after you've handled hundreds of coins. Your hands smell like homeless urine.

---

I keep finding sources of free money, but they're never the huge payoffs I want them to be. Even now, I found out that I have a vinyl Beck EP from before he was famous that's going for $50 on eBay. I paid 25 cents for it at a thrift store. I guess I should just be happy with having a lucky streak a mile wide when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I always feel sort of dissatisfied. I've fallen victim to what Pat Riley calls “The Disease of More.” Once I accept that most people don't find $300+ worth of lost money in a lifetime, I'm sure I'll feel a lot better about the small fortune I've found.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Adidas Story 4: (I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea

When you work at a minimum wage type job, you know ahead of time that you won't be dealing with the best and brightest, be it your customers or coworkers. Of all the brilliant minds I dealt with, there was none more impressive than that of my dear friend Chelsea. I want you all to know from the outset that I love Chelsea. I think she's a lot of fun. I don't want anyone to take this essay as some kind of attack – I really think she's alright. Maybe not mentally, but as a person. Since there's no way to weave these stories together as a cogent story, I'm just going to present them as separate petals that add up to one beautiful, precious, retarded flower.

---

Chelsea was raised by rich parents. Her mom invented some kind of breast pump and her dad was sort of a real estate type, I think. Her parents were pretty racist, and they tried to raise their daughter that way. The problem was she didn't exactly understand how racism worked. One night she asked me if she should date a black guy. I didn't see why not, and told her as much. She told me that her dad didn't approve of her dating minorities, and that if she did, he'd take her out of the will. By the way, more people need to be taken out of wills. I always think that's pretty funny. We went back and forth on the subject all night, with me trying to convince her that by the time her dad dies, she ought to have figured out how to make her own fucking money. Finally she told me things would be okay if she could just find one black guy who wasn't a minority; I suggested she should go to Africa. She told me that there were plenty of black guys in America who weren't minorities, and it was just a matter of finding one. When I asked her what she thought minority meant, she told me it was anybody with a low income.

---

For somebody who lived in Los Angeles so long, Chelsea had a bizarre relationship with race - as mentioned above, she had a bit of the jungle fever. She didn't quite understand, though, that people other than me might take offense to her strange ideas about what is proper for non-whites. She once famously complained to me about a shampoo ad she saw that offended her. From behind, all you could see was beautiful, pin-straight blond hair, shimmering luxuriously for the camera. When the model turned around, however, it was revealed that she was ASIAN! This was beyond the pale to Chelsea. Seeing an Asian girl with blond hair was wrong to her. She told me that it “threatened [her] Americanness.”

---

Every Saturday night, adidas closed later than normal. Weeknights the store closed at 9pm, and Saturdays it closed at 11pm. This meant that after cleaning, we'd get out around 1am, which is just a horrible time to get out of work and go home. Instead, we would often go to Norms to get some shitty breakfast food. Norms, for the uninitiated, is like a Denny's with a facade of classiness. There's one over on Pico and Sepulveda, where nobody's dreams come true. The Norms crew usually consisted of myself, Chelsea, my wife and Jared, one of the managers. Chelsea liked to go because of the food, my wife liked to go so she could make fun of Chelsea, and Jared and I liked to watch. A few noteworthy events took place during late-night Norms adventures. Chelsea once confided in us that she was having trouble in school. When asked why, she said that her professor totally failed her for no reason, which sounded very believable. When prodded, it was revealed that the class was one of those classes where you submit all of your homework online, and take the test in person. She had paid some guy to do all of her homework, and when she didn't know any of the answers for the final, she was failed. The injustice of it all.

There was one Saturday when Chelsea really wanted to go to Norms. Like, more than anything ever. The most important thing was going to Norms. She made it a point to remind me of this every time she saw me that night. “We're going to Norms, right?” “Remember, Norms. Right. After. Work.” “I can't wait to go to Norms!” When we got there, she ordered a cup of soup, garlic bread and a glass of water. For somebody who was so excited about Norms, she sure didn't order much. When the check came, her portion of the bill totaled $4.85, so she left a five dollar bill, making her tip fifteen cents, as opposed to fifteen percent, which is the custom in America. Apparently, she only had five dollars. My wife ripped her a new asshole and told her that if you're going to eat out, you need enough money to tip, not just pay your bill. Chelsea didn't quite get it. She never did.

As a side note, my wife became famous at adidas for being really mean. She was universally beloved for her sharp tongue and her willingness to yell at Chelsea.

---

A few weeks after the tipping incident at Norms, Chelsea asked me out for drinks after work. Apparently, she had gotten her hands on a fake ID, and was going to test it out later that night. I told her I wasn't available, and I reminded her that it's customary to tip the bartender. She revealed to me that not only was she going to the bar with David, one of the team leads at adidas, but she also never paid for drinks. She got men to buy them for her. I asked her what her plan for life was once she eventually became old and ugly, and she thought for a second. She told me that her plan, as far as she figures it, is to just settle down and become a MILF. I told her that her ass was too big to become a MILF, to which she responded, “I know, I'm working on that.”

---

For all the shit I gave her, Chelsea kept coming back to me. She would always confide in me if she ever had problems. She would always start each of her questions with “So like, you're smart right?” I guess I was, considering how many of her problems I managed to solve. I don't know what she's doing now, I haven't seen her in six or so months. Last we spoke, she was working at Brookstone with David who, according to her, was still trying to have sex with her, despite having a wife and child.

---

If you would like to read more adidas stories, here are the links:
1 Seth and Yanira
2 Area Leads and the NBA Event
3 Sweatshirt Folding and Orwellian Mindgames
4 (I Don't Want to go to) Chelsea
5 Stockroom MADNESS!
6 Santa Monica T-Shirt Boulevard
7 Shitwater Canyon and Fruit Flygueroa
8 Slowpoke Rodriguez and the Adidas Cavalcade of Stars!
9 How to Lose Friends and Influence Nobody
10 From the Basement to the Dream Factory

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

1984: A Retrospective

Few Mousebed readers can remember the year 1984, and yet it does not require a personal memory of the time period to recognize the research—or lack thereof—in George Orwell’s “seminal” work as nothing short of execrable. Orwell’s 1984 shows us a version of our own world so implausible as to be ridiculous, and yet he claims that this world existed a mere twenty-five years ago.

1984 focuses specifically on a completely unlikeable hero named Winston Smith, whose most distinguishing physical characteristic is a varicose ulcer on his ankle that has more personality than he does. Winston’s lack of personality hardly matters though, as his story is merely an excuse for Orwell to show us around the world Winston lives in—a world that never existed.

In a clever attempt to manipulate the reader’s credulity, much of 1984 revolves around the revision of history; changing previously documented events and even news archives to reflect the past the government wants the populace to believe in. Without any alternate record, the past we are shown on record must be the one that happened. Except that the past Orwell would have us believe in is beyond fanciful. In Orwell’s 1984, every government-issued apartment has a huge telescreen covering one wall. The entire wall! Nobody had that technology in 1984, except maybe the Japanese, and they didn’t have room for it. I don’t know many people who can afford that shit now, and forget about wall-to-wall TV in government housing. They barely have glass in their windows.

Orwell also talks about giant white government buildings, dominating the London landscape, but I did an extensive Google image search and found no evidence of these buildings. I did, however, find this. Care to explain, Mr. Orwell?

Listen, I was alive in 1984. I was not very old and I don’t have very clear memories of that year, but as I obviously can not trust what anyone else tells me, I’ll tell you what I remember about 1984. I lived in North Hollywood, which was part of California, not Oceania or whatever, and we were not at war with Eurasia or Eastasia; we were maybe sort of at war with the USSR but I had no comprehension of that, so I can’t let it count. I remember one time I somehow got out after dark by myself and to this day I swear the boogeyman chased me home. Big Brother was nowhere to be found. My mom told me to think of Jesus as my big brother and that definitely worked when I was a tiny kid, but he did not live in my TV wall, because we didn’t have a TV wall, we had shag carpeting. Other than that, the only thing I really remember from the year 1984 is My Little Ponys.

WHERE ARE THE MY LITTLE PONYS, GEORGE ORWELL? Nice try, but you’re not fooling anybody.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Look upon me! I'll show you the life of the mind!

- Look, you confused? You need guidance? Talk to another writer.
- Who?
- Jesus, throw a rock in here, you'll hit one. And do me a favor, Fink: throw it hard.


I recently started a new job. This change scared me, as change always seems to do. First of all, I’d need to acclimate myself to a new commute. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if I had a car, but I’m stuck taking the bus everywhere. Once I figured out how to get to work, it was a matter of meeting new people and figuring out whether or not I belonged with them. Arclight Cinemas is chock full of people who want to Make Art. They’ve all got their scripts, or their demo reels, or whatever. They want to be discovered, published or produced. I never thought of myself as the type of person who needs to Make Art. In fact, I’m downright bad at Making Art. Not for lack of trying, of course. I thought I wanted to be an emotional, intellectual, misunderstood artist. I would create my masterpiece and people would come from two towns over just to see the majesty of my opus. The problem is, I can’t draw. Or paint, or sculpt, or sing, or write music, or anything. I can’t even make shit up and be the first person to do something. I am firmly in my time, and have no hopes of ever being ahead of it.

I come from a nice background of non-achievers. You may recall my biological father was a drifter and my mom would have the work ethic of a drifter if she could manage to get off her ass at first light to start rambling to an adjacent county. Having never been given the gene that predisposes one to busting your ass to make something of yourself, I’ve had a hard time trying to scrape together motivation all my life. I never did homework because school was too easy, which was fine for skating through public school and getting a diploma, but I failed out of college because I hadn’t developed the proper study skills. Honestly, I’ve written more in the six months since I started Mousebed than I had in my prior 22 years combined. Thank you, Mousebed reader, for giving me a reason to write something every week for half a year.

Recently, I’ve been going through a bit of a crisis. I’ve been thinking, and I think I might actually have broken my self-imposed curse of just being an appreciator. I think I’m creating. As a result of all the writing I’ve done, I think I’ve become a writer. It’s a scary thought for me, as that would imply that I identify myself as something very different than I have been for so long now. My wife has been kind of needling me about becoming something serious for a while now, as opposed to working low-wage shit jobs for the rest of my life, just barely making it by and then dying anonymously, which was my plan. When I started writing Mousebed, I figured I would bang out 800 words every week as a cheap substitute for therapy. I’ve had a pretty shitty go of things for a while now, and writing about the horrors of my life has really helped me. I owe a lot of my happiness to you, the Mousebed reader. So thanks.

Anyhow, I’m still not comfortable being a writer. This is especially tough living in a city that’s overrun with writers. I always wanted to toil anonymously in my shit jobs, but if I’m going to Make Art, then I’m going to be somebody, Goddamnit. I was putting off calling myself a writer until last night. One of the problems with starting a new job at a place like Arclight is that every shift is spent with new and different people. This is a jarring change, considering at my old job there were only four other people in my department if you include my boss. Last night, I worked with a guy named Jeremy. He told me that I needed to write. Apparently he’s been around a lot of writers, and I need to become one of them. He warned me against wasting my life toiling in anonymity in shit jobs for eternity. My wife has been saying this for years now, but everything snapped into focus last night when a total stranger sized me up and told me, in no uncertain terms that I had a gift that needed to be shared. It was devastating. He told me that I needed to Make Art and stop being such a fucking pussy. Maybe not in those exact words, but that was the gist of it. So starting tonight, six months after the inception of the Mousebed, it’s official.

I'm a writer, you monsters! I create! I create for a living! I'm a creator! I am a creator!