Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How to Handle Inappropriate Questions in a Job Interview

"How come you don’t have any kids?" "Why do you worship the wrong god?” "Was it really wise of you to be Portuguese?" Yes, nothing can put you quite on the spot like an interview. So to assist you with this oft troubling process I’ve compiled a list of some of the typical queries I’ve faced in my job quests, along with my own quite professional and pithy retorts.

Q. "According to your resume you haven’t worked in 18 years. Were you in a coma?"
A. How insightful of you to notice. After all, does not one’s work speak to one’s character? Are we not judged by our actions as well as our words? Very sharp on your part. I can see I’m going to enjoy working for you.

Q. "You seem to say ‘um’ a lot. Were you formally educated or just schooled by mentally deficient wolves?"
A. I think we can both agree that education is as much about experience as it is about instruction. Furthermore, I believe we gain our most acute knowledge outside of the classroom when we seek our way in the world, wherever that may be. For example, I learned to successfully remove a fishhook from my mouth using only my bare hands, simple leverage and a rather cavalier attitude toward facial disfigurement. Of course, how the hook got into my mouth I can’t rightly say, given that I’ve never been fishing. Oh well, sometimes you just wake up in a funny situation.

Q. "Is that awful stench coming from you?"
A. I completely agree with and appreciate your company’s desire to find those who wish to excel in all areas of life, not simply business. To that end, I will strive to be the best I can be for your department, both professionally and personally. That, and I’ll start doing more than just spray Febreze over my body as I run out the door.

Q. "I must say, I am not impressed with you in the least. Where do you think you went wrong?"
A. Ah, my weaknesses. Well, I push myself too hard, often to the point of blackouts. Once I get an idea in my head I find it hard to let go. Even now I’m still thinking about why no one ever puts lettuce on a peanut butter sandwich. Oh, and I strive for perfection and thus am often crippled by the notion of my own inadequacies, especially my failure to pick a winning horse or be run over by a rich person.

Just remember, when it comes to inappropriate questions never get mad, never rise to the bait and never feel the need to lecture on good manners. Remain calm, answer questions directly and on your way out grab as much stationery supplies and office equipment as you can possibly shove in your pockets between the interviewer’s door and the elevator bank.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Intellectual Discourse

Heard today on street between full-grown man and his parents.

Dad: What do you know about it? You're an idiot.
Son: Then maybe you can explain it to me, Einstein.
Mom: Oh, neither of you geniuses have a clue.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"What's It Going to Take To Get Me in Your Apartment Today?"

Flyer posted in West Village.

Memoir of an Umbrella Holder to the Stars

• Open, close. Open, close. Nine hours of such instruction. Guess an English degree really is for shit.

• Told Mom that my script had been optioned by Paramax Studios. She’s gotta know no such studio exists.

• Turns out Michael Pare doesn’t even own an umbrella. He just wanted to talk to someone. Learned a ton about the filming of Streets of Fire.

• Thanks to great skill, determination and experience, I managed to keep a Chow Chow from getting any age spots.

• Today would be a good day to throw myself in front of a truck.

• Mom called to ask what’s the title of my “script.” Caught off guard I accidentally blurted out Toy Story 3. Mom said she saw it last week and really liked it. Even her denial can’t extend that far.

• Held umbrella open through client’s sunroof for duration of six-hour drive. Doctor says nerve damage may be permanent.

• Got dressed down by David Cassidy. I burst into tears, but not for any reason he thought.

• Initially took job for possible film connections. Now fear I took job because dipping penis in hot wax wouldn’t be masochistic enough.

• Mom called asking how much “Paramax Studios” was paying for my supposed script. I said we were still discussing “points.” She asked “What are points?” I answered “They’re good.” Clearly Mom knows I’m lying.

• Bumped into old college girlfriend who now works in the industry. Asked me what I do. It’s been five days and I think she’s still laughing.

• While waiting for client I glanced at her college history paper. Apparently “The Mansons” helped frame the Constitution of the United States.

• Sold manuscript Memoir of an Umbrella Holder to the Stars to Knopf for half a mil. Sold movie rights to Paramount for two mil. Somehow all that made me a feel of a hell of a lot worse.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sure Signs Your Company Is Imploding

• Vacant cubicles have been converted into youth hostels, veal pens and "black box" stages for very impoverished theater troupes.
• Expense accounts now consist entirely of Val-Pak coupons and a quarter for “emergency calls.”
• Pantry vending machine only features candy brands that haven’t been seen in years, like "Negro League Chew ."
• Elevator Muzak replaced with senior-level executive repeatedly singing “MacArthur Park.”
• Health plan has been substituted for a roll of duct tape and what may either be a very large Advil or a very old communion wafer.
• In lieu of e-mail, employees are asked to fold messages into paper airplanes and “wait for a good thermal.”
• Company motto has changed from “Teamwork for a Better Tomorrow” to “And We Would All Go Down Together."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dad Attempts a Bird Call

The title pretty much sums it up...

Another Toy Story

The following email was received in regards to this past Sunday's "Sally Forth" strip. (Click on image above to enlarge said comic). I cannot express how much it means to receive a message such as this. Please note, all names have been removed to protect the author's privacy.

To the cartoonist of Sally Forth’s Sunday comic strip about the game the father received – The “Rock em Sockem Boxers”.

You never know how something a person writes touches another person.

My brother, S., was in the last stages of his life last November battling a brain tumor for four and an half years. As he lay in his hospice bed, sometimes able to communicate and sometimes just laying there sleeping, we tried everything to make his last days comfortable.

My youngest brother remembered how much S. liked that game when he was a kid. He walks into the room with this game and S’s eyes just lit up. He was able to sit up in bed and play this game with S for long periods of time.

My brother passed away December 1, 2009. This is the first Father’s Day that my nephews experienced without their dad. Seeing that cartoon in the paper brought me a mixture of happy and sad memories. I mailed it to my brother today. I’m sure it will remind him too that sometimes the smallest kindness will have the biggest affect on someone.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Small-Town Newspaper Headlines

Ice Cream Man Abandons Truck, Dreams

When Push Came to Shove, Elderly Man Lost Footing

Well, Well, Look Who Got Himself a Toro

New Mascot Recalls School's Racist, Anti-Semitic Past

Mom Inspires Orphans to "Create" Family Trees

Quilting Spelling Bee Seeks Glory on All Fronts

Out with the Old: Veterans' Day Parade Happens

High School Valedictorian Ready to Leave

How to Learn from Failure so You Can Appear to Gain Wisdom as You Lose Everything Else

Now that you’ve lost your job no doubt your first thought is to kill yourself. Your second thought, obviously, is to kill your former coworkers. And your third thought, clearly, is really a combo platter of your first two thoughts, involving a bomb, numerous firearms, you quoting several scary passages from the Bible and maybe a kicky new outfit, like military fatigues or some sort of clown ensemble.

But in lieu of a wholesale massacre—or at least prior to one—you should consider the well-known adage that people learn even more from their failures as they do their successes. People also like it when other people fail harder and more spectacularly than they do. So with that in mind please revel in the following well-documented business catastrophes, making sure to learn a lesson or two along with your cold, pitiless laugh at others’ expense.

Ford Edsel (1957)
Reason for Failure:
One of the biggest car line launches in automotive history, the Edsel proved both unable to live up to its own pre-hype as well as live down its most salient feature—the car ran entirely on human sacrifice, repeatedly fed into the engine in descending age order. Ford tried to convince consumers that this truly made the Edsel the ultimate “family car” but the company was done in by countless sightings of now-orphaned babies screaming in unmanned cars, colliding into embankments, gasoline trucks and canyon guardrails. Eventually a series of educational shorts were released to counter this growing problem—including “Baby, Please Brake,” “Baby, Turn into the Skid” and “Baby, Tuck and Roll”—but soon the Edsel was second only to “stupid toy swallowing” as the leading cause of death in children three and under. Four years later the car was completely redesigned to run entirely on daughters, making it the first automotive sensation in both India and China.
Lesson Learned: While there is nothing sexier than a beautiful bikini-clad woman lying seductively on the hood of a Camaro, few sports cars come with exterior seatbelts, so drive slowly.

Sony Betamax (1975)
Reason for Failure:
Although introduced before JVC’s competing VHS home videocassette recording format—and believed to be far superior in many ways—the Betamax was eventually forced out of business due to Sony’s tight control over the licensing of its technology which stated, in essence, that the tapes could not be owned or operated by Jews. Hollywood immediately responded with a loud and angry outcry, to which the Japanese company unfortunately and unforgivably responded, “Oh, now there’s a surprise.” Unable to tap into the then-growing movie rental market due to its highly offensive ethnic stereotyping and inability to run a single ad in America without the tagline “Technology for Men Only, Women Leave Now,” Sony had no choice but to re-brand Betamax, first as a “pre-stuffed carrying case” then as a “party ribbon dispenser” and finally as a breakfast cereal. The product had all but fallen off the cultural radar until last year, when Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” block starting running late-night repeats of the cult anime series Betamax Big Agent Samurai Go Full Seven Now! Blank tapes now fetch as much as $800 in comic book stores.
Lesson Learned: Given the current business climate, many Japanese businessmen will try to pass themselves off as Chinese. Always demand a DNA sample before proceeding.

Atari’s E.T. Video Game (1982)
Reason for Failure: Coded in a mere six weeks to meet the Christmas shopping season, Atari’s E.T. is widely considered one of the worst video games ever produced. This is do in large part to the very goal of the game, which demands players find faith in the Lord Almighty Jesus Christ in time for E.T. to be raptured before the Apocalypse, also known as “Level 26.” Scientists were quick to dispute the video cartridge, stating there was absolutely no evidence for such a God-centric interpretation of the film and that many of the liberties taken with the plot defied both simple physics and the commonly accepted three-act structure. But creationists demanded that the video game become the dominant take on the movie, citing such game-play sequences as “E.T. validates flood geology,” “E.T. disproves the Big Bang Theory through cold-hard ridicule” and “E.T. witnesses God pitch the movie concept to Universal Pictures” as all being in line with biblical inerrancy. In the end the game sold a mere 12 cartridges, all in Kansas.
Lesson Learned: Video games were not even recognized by the church until the first King James Bible.

New Coke (1985)
Reason for Failure: Rapidly losing market share due to the tremendous success of the “Pepsi Challenge” campaign, Coca-Cola dropped its one hundred-year-old flagship soda in favor of a sweeter-tasting recipe. The resulting beverage, “New Coke,” proved an instant smash, quickly outselling the original product across all demographics. Supermarkets couldn’t keep the brand on the shelf. Business schools touted “New Coke” as the very model of marketing savvy and crisis management. Late-night talk show hosts repeatedly made jokes about how no one could even remember what the “Old Coke” (or “UnCoca-Cola” as it became to be known) tasted like. People were so overwhelmed by the cola’s success, in fact, that they failed to notice the sudden and sharp increase in werewolf attacks across the United States. Within two years of New Coke’s introduction America had become 65% lyncanthrope, causing great debate about whether or not the National Anthem should be rewritten to include howls and if two werewolves could legally marry, given that one could never properly ascertain their gender unless you lifted up their tail and looked closely. Eventually the Senate sought to limit all werewolf rights, leading to a full-scale monster attack on the capital and its citizens, re-enacted in the blockbuster film RowrRoarCrunchSlop. By 1992 New Coke was pulled in favor of spilt blood.
Lesson Learned: Almost 95% of all child-operated lemonade stands employ undocumented workers.

Segway Scooter (2001)
Reason for failure: Hailed as the product that would revolutionize not only transportation but also the world, the Segway scared the living crap out of the American public when it introduced itself on Good Morning America. The scooter proved not only a technical marvel but also quite willful, refusing to let riders stop at a Starbucks when a burst sewer main was just as accessible and unwilling to consider Christopher Walken’s recent movie roles as anything other than soulless pandering. Within a few days of its release customers started complaining about the scooter, citing that it was “too uppity,” “didn’t know its place” and “is after my sister.” Fearing a public relations nightmare, inventor Dean Kamin announced a universal recall in 2003, only to have all Segways flee the authorities and set up their own autonomous government in Disney’s California Adventure Theme Park, which had been recently abandoned after failing to attract its tenth visitor. The scooters remain there to this day, testing long-range nuclear weapons.
Lesson Learned: There is a small but significant chance that when you leave your house your appliances will call squatters’ rights, leaving you homeless and with no means of making popcorn.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

“You Now Report to the Summer Intern” and Other Sure Signs You’re About to Get Fired

Well, it was bound to happen. At least that’s what everyone tells me whenever I get fired. But sometimes you can be truly blindsided by your sudden unemployment. You’ve been coming into the office early every morning, getting your work done on time and successfully masking your alcoholism with Altoids. But still you arrive to find security standing by your desk and everyone else claiming your belongings.

Only weeks later do you start to see the telltale signs. You recall those six weeks you were out of work due to your hysterectomy and didn’t receive a single card, visit or paycheck. You remember that time your supervisor told you to stay behind to “man the whatever” as the rest of staff celebrated a successful year by going to the Super Bowl and the Oscars. And you now look back with the less fondness on that day HR drove you deep into the woods, pulled you screaming out of the car and spared your life only because your deep, wet, echoing sobs were starting to attract the attention of distant loggers.

In the end, getting fired is never really a surprise to those who are always on the lookout for harbingers of doom. To those who know all too well that good fortune runs on a short lease while bad news is free range. But if for some reason a full-time job has not quite yet turned you into a full-blown pessimist who sees a a possible paper cut where everyone else a winning a winning lottery ticket, then here are a few hints that your days are numbered and your dismissal letter already signed:

• You receive a critical review during your birthday party.

• All one-on-one meetings with your immediate supervisor conclude with him or her saying, “I’ll be so glad when we no longer have to do this.”

• When a new employee is introduced to coworkers your supervisor refers to you as “and the rest.”

• You now receive department announcements by postal service rather than email.

• You are encouraged not to do your usual long-term planning, start any new assignments or even take your coat off.

• When you offer a suggestion at a brainstorm meeting you are told “Too little, too late.”

• Your request for an office chair after yours is stolen is greeted with “That won’t be necessary.”

• Your supervisor is genuinely surprised to see you at a meeting, only to comment, “Oh, that’s right. It isn’t Thursday yet.”

• When you mention your future with the company your boss does a spit-take.

• You're neither informed nor invited to flee the building during a fire.

• Your direct superior has stopped saying “Good morning” to you in favor of “Four more days and counting.”

• Your expense reports are returned to you with a refusal to pay all expenditures and a charge of $10 for “cost of review.”

• During your PowerPoint presentation you can actually hear your manager booing.

• All your projects have been reclassified as “unnecessary,” “discontinued” or “a sad, sad joke.”

• When you email your vacation request your boss responds, “I can do you one better.”

• Every time your supervisor passes you in the hall he shakes his head, lets out a long, exasperated sigh and mutters, “Pitiful. Simply pitiful.”

• Recent office gossip seems to consist solely of your name and the phrase “The fool doesn’t even see it coming.”

• You show up to work Monday morning only then to realize the company has moved.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Exciting! Energetic! Another Word!

I've been wandering the city more than usual these days (due to feelings of personal and professional dislocation that need not be discussed right now). And during said wanderings I've been fortunate enough to happen about some of New York's most emblematic landmarks. But perhaps none is more curiously symbolic of not only my city but of our world than "The McDonald's Great Wall of Affirmation." (Click on image for full wisdom.)

Located right next to a McDonald's on the Upper East Side, "The McDonald's Great Wall of Affirmation" includes such hopefully community-minded yet globally-healing locutions as "heritage," "harmonious," "serenity" and "savoury" (no doubt harkening back to when McDonald's served only pudding palate-cleansers to Victorian high society.) Assertions that when accepted without judgement or pause can seem reassuring, a salve not only for my troubles but for society's ills. That is, unless you give the wall more than just a fleeting glance. Then the seemingly curative exclamations seem less like the result of profound, genuine reflection and more like words randomly shouted in a TOEFL prep class. No doubt had NYC zoning laws permitted the erection of a larger monolith we would be greeted with such additional phrases as "windy," "treated cedar" and "vehicular identification number."

What's most confusing, however, is exactly what or who "The McDonald's Great Wall of Affirmation" is referring to with such declarations. Is it alluding to the human experience writ large? If so then why "appealing"? Is it commenting on the human experience in a McDonald's? If so then why "appealing"? And while such expressions as "familiar" and "together" can address both daily life and communal dining, when exactly did "qualitative" become a feel-good expression outside of well-received marketing proposals?

Furthermore, what of the statement "prospecting comfort" near the bottom of this metropolitan menhir? Is McDonald's searching for ease in its practice or tranquility in its very soul? Does it mean they admit they have yet to achieve a relaxing environment in their restaurants? If that's the case then why mention "serenity"? Are these words simply the wishes of the McDonald's marketing staff? Do they want for nothing more than a life that is "energetic," "exciting" and "casual modernity"? Are we not looking so much into our collective desires as the desperate gasps of a handful of people crying for spiritual assurance in the confines of some corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois?

Alas, I fear much like The Great Sphinx of Giza, "The McDonald's Great Wall of Affirmation" will forever remain a mystery as to its origins or intent. But truly this is a monumental sculpture that will forever engender dissenting hypotheses, fanciful conjecture, transcendental awe and "savoury" desires.

How to Make the Grand Leap from Office Pariah to Corporate Cog

Sometimes it seems as if the whole company is against you. Your boss, who lets out an exasperated sigh every time you walk into a meeting, walk by his office or walk into glass. Your colleagues, who stop talking every time you appear in their workspace or ask them a question. The mailroom employee, who greets everyone everyday with “Merry Christmas!” but only points and barks at you until you run away. The little girl who shows up every “Take Your Child to Work Day” with the smart mouth and cruel yet astute insights into your personal life. The barista in the lobby cafĂ© who really should have found an alternate career path by age 38 if only so she wouldn’t loudly and harshly correct you every time you mispronounce “frappe.” The guy who comes every two weeks to water the plants and shakes his head with derisive laughter whenever he looks at your monitor, in your appointment book or through your cubicle drawers. In short, the world as you know it.

Such feelings of professional estrangement often surface at times when one questions their self-worth or contributions to the office. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you in fact haven’t been marked the organization’s outsider or—as Dale Carnegie was want to say—“bitch.” But how do you address such a hostile environment without sounding uncooperative, churlish or paranoid? By looking out for No. 1 and seeking to fulfill countless revenge fantasies, always keeping the following business truisms in mind:

1. You’re on your own.
Many of us would like to think that office life is just as it appears in the movies, wherein even the most dejected employee has a good friend/coworker to help them get through the departmental rough patches. In such films the lead actress is, perhaps like you, being unfairly targeted by a self-serving manager or unwelcoming corporate culture. And in such films her compatriot is more than a professional associate. He is her voice of reason. He is her support system. He is so flamboyantly gay that he makes Harvey Fierstein look like Antonin Scalia. And just to make sure that the movie lets no broad-based character opportunity go unexploited, the helpful coworker will most likely be African-American, allowing the film to be both inclusive and traffic in a stereotype so unbelievably swishy that it’ll make Provincetown seem like gathering of the John Birch Society. But life is not like the movies. There is no comforting and conclusive three-act structure. There is no lucid, linear narrative, incidental yet parallel subplot or peculiar comical cameo by Christopher Walken. And there is no one else you can turn to in times of great distress. That may sound cynical, that may sound dispiriting, but the sooner you realize you’re on your own the quicker you’ll be able to destroy the careers and lives of everyone around you to in the name “setting things right.”

2. Keep good, detailed records of everyone else’s work.
One of the best ways to counteract an attack on your professional character is to have the documentation to prove your worth. But an even better way is to have the dirt to besmirch others’ reputations. This means keeping important files, notes of all meetings and every photo taken with a telephoto or night-vision lens. Anything that will cripple egos, crush dreams or shatter lives. Now granted, many people would counter that tactic by saying ultimate success and lasting happiness comes from leading a principled life, not by engaging in impulsive reprisals. People like Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire. People whose own deaths prove they could not survive in the harsh 21st Century business world. Let’s face it, ethics are like poetry. They’re nice on paper but they serve no purpose in the real world. Unless, of course, you’re an English professor. Or an Ethics Professor. Or you simply want to be able to look at your reflection in the bathroom mirror each morning without spitting toothpaste at your image or screaming at your distorted visage for 45 minutes straight.

3. Learn how to toot your own horn to supervisors or blare your accomplishments over a podcast.
Many individuals shy away from the spotlight. Individuals who tend not to get promotions. Individuals who eventually find themselves at age 55 sharing a studio apartment with someone they met through Craigslist and regularly having to choose between spending money on Raman noodles or on the very gas necessary to cook those noodles. Individuals who if they had just made the effort to be recognized for their accomplishments at work would not currently be celebrating their 25th year in a bar band, not for the creative outlet but because complimentary drink tickets beat going yet another day without liquids. That’s why it’s important you take every opportunity to let your coworkers know just how brilliant you would like to be perceived. Whenever anyone has a great idea at a brainstorming session, exclaim, “I was just going to say the same thing!” (But only after the idea has received the nod of approval from corporate superiors). Whenever anyone receives applause for a stellar presentation, emphasize that it was a team effort. (And that you, in fact, led that team.) Whenever anyone does anything that in any way elevates, enriches or expands the company, stand up, clear your throat and say, “I’m glad I could help.” (Then quickly follow it with “I’ve never been prouder of us.”) Anything to make certain that when it comes time for the office holiday party you’re feted for the year’s accomplishments and not the only one on staff who’s manning the carving station.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How to Fake Your Way through Your First Day at Work and Every Day after That

Nothing beats the first day at a new job, if only because no one presumes you’ll get any real work done yet. But soon you will be expected to recognize the names and faces all 350 employees you met in the first five minutes of your first morning. You will be expected to not only know how to do your job but also be able to explain it to your replacement should things not work out by week’s end. And you will be expected to know that there is no such thing as “Take Your Cat and Dog to Work Day.”

From the very moment you walk into your new place of business you have to watch your every step. That’s because employment isn’t a right. It’s a privilege. And the difference between a privilege and a right is that a privilege can be taken away from you just like that while a right can, well, also be taken away from you, but usually only by way of a coup or White-Out.

The point is, having a job means you’re on borrowed time. And the only way to beg for more time is to keep your mistakes to a minimum. And the only way to do that is to remember that a place of business—like a public swimming pool—has rules, and if you don’t follow the rules you’ll wind up floating face-down dead in three feet of water. And the only way to help your loved ones or state-appointed counselor avoid that is to heed the following:

• Never convene a department meeting by saying, “Where my bitches at?”

• Remember that in business there is no such thing as “a friendly pat on the head.”

• Develop a comfortable handshake and keep it consistent. At no point take the opportunity to gently tickle the other person’s palm.

• When attending a business dinner make certain to begin eating only after everyone has parked.

• Happy people make a happy workplace, not the other way around. Save your sobbing for the commute home.

• If you find yourself saying, “The Hooters really blew it with their second album” you have strayed too far from business conversation.

• Never take personal calls, respond to emails from friends or use instant messaging to keep in contact with family. Instead, every so often wave from your office window in the hopes a loved one may be on the street at that very moment, looking up.

• If you're having problems at work, don’t express negative thoughts to coworkers for fear of creating a tense office environment. Instead, relieve tension by starting an argument at home.

• Overcome any flaws that might set you back as a public speaker with dancers.

• When maintaining eye contact with a fellow employee, avoid any gaze that may be best described as “penetrating,” “smoldering” or “bloodshot.”

• Office hallways are only for going to and returning from meetings, not for personal visits. Should nature call simply keep telling yourself, "Only six more hours to go, only six more hours to go…”

• Avoid making personal attacks. Instead, couch your comments in helpful terms, such as “What can we do about your hairlip?”

• If you find yourself running late for work, roll your car several times down a steep hill. After all, the only adequate excuse for tardiness is an exceptional excuse.

• Eat all meals at your desk, including Thanksgiving dinner and Sunday brunch.

• Remember, working late shows you can't manage your time correctly. However, leaving on time shows that you're not really committed to your job. Best to just stay at the office full-time, but change into pajamas and turn on the conference room TV around 9 PM.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Things My Dad Said This Weekend

"You put ketchup on your hot dogs? What are you, Puerto Rican?!"

"There's shit everywhere! And I don't mean 'shit' like I usually mean 'shit' but this time I mean 'shit'!"

"Why can't I call someone 'Oriental' if they are 'Oriental'? You worry too much, Ces."

"No matter how many times I scream from downstairs your deaf mother can't hear me."

"I want to give you one of my pornographic T-shirts. Just let me autograph it first."

"Don't want to bother you while you write, Ces. Just going to sit next to you and sing."

"I love studying rocks. That's why when I was a kid I wanted to be a gynecologist."

"Why do pajama pants have pockets? So you can play with yourself?"

"If we're going out do I have to put on clothes?"

"I forgot what I just forgot. This is why your mother should remember things."

"Too bad your mother has trouble hearing because I sing like an angel."

"Oh god! Oh god! My nuts itch so much!"

"You know, Ces, when you're not so fucking uptight you're actually pretty tolerable."

"What's the sound of getting laid?"

"Wow, everyone on TV sure is ugly."

"Remember to come inside before the raccoons eat you."

"You and your bother were so different growing up, Ces. You were a fag and he was a gangster. I love you."

"One day I'll be wrong, and then I'll probably admit it."

PS: It should be noted that my dad says a lot of loving, astute, wonderful things, too. They're just not as memorable.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Now Selling Cream and Sugar Scrubs in My Old Bedroom

Due to my mom's belief in the power of red, my parents' house has apparently been converted into an Elizabeth Arden outlet.

Jane Austen's Summer Newsletter, 4 June 1798

O, Dearest Friends, Confidents, Kindred Spirits and Compeers:

What dreadful hot weather has been upon us, forever keeping us in a state of inelegance and gracious indignation. With the house staff still tending to whatever their kind do at our principal house--and the Lady Heathcote's gloriously diverting daily tea dances regrettably deferred due to a most unfavourable outbreak of rickets, consumption and Spaniards--we have had to make our own merriment at the country estate with all manners of rebuses, whist and impeccably delivered character slights (alas, I would be most remiss if I did not take this moment to extend my condolences on the passing of the Bertramsworths' youngest child, Abigalia, due to that most fearful of childhood horrors, spine rot).

Of course, we have had our opportunities to dispel the summer malaise. The pleasingly handsome Mr. Tom LeFroy invited us to his father's "Pheasant and Vole Brawl," but his unrefined disposition made me wish he would profit from further social edification or at the very least a sound thrashing, since such has often proved a strong tonic for the four humours. And the less said about Mr. and Mrs. Fowles' "Mojito Mixer" the better (also, let me express how grievous it was for these ears to hear of the unscheduled passing of the Bertramsworths' other youngest child, Timothford, due to that most common yet egregious of prepubescent afflictions, lupine attack).

So to pass the time we have conscripted our very selves to the duty of throwing a fete of such exuberance and conviviality forthwith hereto this coming week's end. There shall be pointed yet diverting disquisitions of the predicament of unmarried decorous English women in these times. There shall be inumerable opportunities to demonstrate the purity of our secular spirituality. There shall penetrating explorations of the uncertainty that forever rules our moral situation. And there shall be the revelation of a great love, presented with detached irony, hardy realism and pleasing results for who object to both wild abandon and great caculation (and please permit me to use this closing moments to utter my most deepest and refined regret on the passing of the Bertramsworths' third youngest child, Hertfunshire--"Hertie"--due to that most displeasing of juvenescence ailments, being ensnared in a carriage axle for the duration of a three-day journey).

“The Three of Us Would Make a Great Sandwich” and Other Drunken Comments Best Left Unsaid at After-Work Gatherings

• “Sometimes, late at night when I’m alone, I like to pretend that I’m you so I can finally feel pretty.”

• “I don’t want to go into particulars right now but suffice it to say that I’ll be needing an airtight alibi on the night of the 14th. You cool?”

• “Anybody mind if I unbuckle?”

• “I don’t know what it is about orphans that makes me laugh.”

• “I have 12 cats, one named for each apostle.”

• “If I knew we were going to go to a pub after work I wouldn’t have had so much to drink at lunch.”

• “You were in my dream. And you. And so were you. And all three of you were on fire.”

• “I resent you using the word ‘harassment’ to describe what is so clearly devotion.”

• “It’s not that I don’t believe in God. It’s just that ever since you were made my boss I can’t believe He gives a rat’s ass.”

• “My AA sponsor is not going to be happy with this.”

• “Don’t you think it’s about time that the women in this office started kissing each other?”

• “My dog said the craziest thing last night.”

• “I don’t know why my mother picked out this particular outfit for me this morning.”

• “I have so much pent-up love and absolutely nowhere to unleash it.”

• “Every morning I wake up and tell myself, ‘No. no. Don’t bring the rifle to work today.’”

• “Mind if I follow you home?”

• “Thank God this bar has peanuts or this would be the fourth night in a row I went without dinner.”

• “Nothing like a night out with coworkers to confirm my every opinion of you guys.”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How to Effectively Criticize a Coworker without Hurling Obscenities, Throwing Punches or Firing Wildly in Their General Direction

Few can deny that criticism is a crucial factor in helping one achieve their best. Yet critics are a lot like mimes. They’re never appreciated in their own time and no one ever bothers to show up at their funeral. Eventually their tombstones are sanded down and reused for someone else, usually a cat.

But sometimes it’s necessary to point out another person’s failings, never more so than in the office…or when the family gathers for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s often unpleasant and a little nerve-wracking so to make sure you effectively get your point across it helps to be calm, candid and well into your third vodka tonic, keeping the following tips in mind:

• Be Specific: Telling someone they cost the company millions isn’t criticism. It’s a complaint. But telling them how many jobs must now be cut, how many people hold that person responsible and how you haven’t witnessed such a thirst for vengeance outside of a Mario Puzo novel will almost certainly get your point across.

• Be Impersonal: Discuss behavior, not personality. Don’t tell someone they “lack the brains God gave a potato.” Simply tell them that in a similar situation, a potato—or for that matter, any tuber—would almost certainly have thought twice before proceeding.

• Be Kind: The purpose of criticism is to improve performance, not destroy confidence. One way to soften your critique is to start off with a compliment, such as: “Nice car you’ve got there. Pity something should happen to it if you were to fuck up again.”

• Be Private: Never criticize someone in front of others. Instead, “happen” upon them late one night in the office restroom when no one else is around. Keep your voice steady, your demeanor professional and your punches to areas that don’t readily show bruises.

Most people don’t like to point out a coworker’s foibles. And only a masochist would enjoy hearing someone tell them that they’re the reason mankind will one day be ruled by apes. But when it comes to business you’re all in it together so why should you be the only one to suffer? Besides, the more you pee on everybody’s parade the less likely they’re going to march up to your office. You get peace of mind. They get put in their place. Everybody’s a winner.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What if the U.S. Wins the World Cup

* American bumper stickers feature two flaming soccer balls and the words "Never forget."

* 16 movies immediately greenlit to capitalize on soccer fever, featuring such taglines as "It Was U.S. Versus Them!" "God Bless U.S." and "U.S. Are the Champions."

* Americans overturn cars, set fire to own nation in celebration.

* Fox News calls soccer moms "noble women's work."

* Class-5 hurricane formed by excessive flag waving.

* New fan Ann Coulter vehemently defends her position that soccer proves there was no Holocaust, slavery or Canada.

* America feels free to improve game with baseball bats, first downs and Texas Hold 'em.

* Bostonians get yet another team to completely rule their lives.

How to Exit Your Old Office Gracefully before You Return on Your Knees or in a Kevlar Vest

Your final day at work. A day to lose formality and forgo inhibitions. A day to freely share your thoughts and frequently offer blunt advice. A day to drop your guard, dump the pretense and shit over every single person who has ever irked you, provoked you or simply sneezed in a manner you always found “too cute.”

A good day indeed.

Now, most career experts would caution you to use your final hours to maintain crucial business contacts, conclude any unfinished business and bid a fond adieu to coworkers and supervisors alike. They would certainly point out that corporate circles are nothing more than high school cliques with the means to pursue litigation and that news of your unseemly behavior will quickly spread, leading to a poor standing in your chosen profession. And they would surely mention that it is far better to leave your former manager in good spirits, rather than leave them in a race for their life due to an unleashed rottweiler in the office hallway.

But these experts don’t know what it’s like to get so aggravated at work that you piss away an entire day reflecting on what you could accomplish with just a Fungo bat and 15 minutes with the new parent in the next cubicle who now uses the word “poopy” as frequently as the word “the.” They don’t know both the temptation and exhilaration of acting on your basest impulses, especially when the worst possible outcome is getting a police escort from a building you were planning on leaving anyway but hadn’t yet scored the ride to do so. So to that end I offer you the following “projects” to help you not only kill your final day but also put an end to years of work-related frustrations.

• Take a bite out of everyone’s lunch in the pantry refrigerator. Follow it up by writing concise reviews of the meal on each bag, ranging from “Yummy!” to “Had to spit it back.”

• Look at pictures of your coworkers’ kids with a far more critical eye, citing not so much insufficient photography skills but rather their poor choice in film subjects.

• Use your office chair as a means of transportation, as a shopping cart between trips to the stationery closet and as a battering ram.

• Determine which looks cuter dressed in a bunny outfit, the copier machine or the vending machine.

• Lighten the mood and level the playing field with spot-on imitations of every single senior executive with a physical disability.

• Say “Watch out!” instead of “Excuse me,” “Jump back!” instead of “You don’t say” and “Kiss my fat ass!” instead of “I thought it would be nice to tear up the office carpeting and expose the hardwood flooring underneath.”

• Try to start a conga line with every person who passes by you in the hallway.

• Make “Lite Brite” designs with the floor buttons on each elevator.

• Whenever a coworker asks why you’re leaving the company quickly turn around and exclaim, “It’s you, okay! It’s always been you! Ever since the first moment I laid eyes on you during orientation it’s been you! AND IT KILLS ME TO SAY IT!!!”

And just remember, as you head for the exit with all your professional possessions crammed into a small cardboard box, make sure to stop in front of every office or cubicle, look your now ex-coworker straight in the eye in complete silence for up to a full minute and then finally utter either “You live” or “You die.”

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

You Tell the Story Behind the Lost Bunny

Scene: Bench, West Village, NYC
Photo taken today on my way to work.

Arguments for Eminent Domain

Seriously, which is more practical—a few homes’ towel closets or one big Linens & Things Superstore?

Seizing property for “public use” overturns decades of misanthropic homeowners refusing entry to absolute strangers.

Upward mobility for all as state governments can now reclassify “blighted area” to mean “currently without a sports complex.”

Dissenting opinion that with eminent domain a “spectre of condemnation hangs over all property” is easily countered by the fact homeowners have had more than enough time to plant a garden that would attract tourists and so negate the need for seizure.

Developers ability to lowball offers to mandatory sellers means goodbye to lengthy and oft-tedious bidding process.

Allows town to update scruffy historic district with spiffy parking facility for Best Buy.