This Break was brought to you by Las Vegas, NV

Thursday, January 28, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

Hey everyone.

There will be a brief hiatus from posting til next Monday.  I'm at a conference in Vegas and it turns out that the city of sin is also the city of ripping you off as much as possible.  Everything is extra.  The pool.  The gym.  And, most important to this blog, the internet.

some quick notes.
1. the cab drivers here are the best part so far.  Besides for the airport cab which ripped us off, these people talk so comfortably and down to earth.  They're my favorite part.  Because unlike New York, the cab driver here want to be here to gamble--so they are a part of it.  As one cabbie said, "I may only have a half a day of the week to myself, but in that halfday, I want to be at the tables."

2. Vegas can not cook a Reuben and Matzah Ball Soup.  That one was probably my bad.

3. Putting the State of the Union on the TV with no volume and no closed captioning is ridiculous.

4. One day in and I still haven't gambled yet.  This place gives me the creeps.

Deep Blue Something

Monday, January 25, 2010 | 4 Comment(s)

I love post blog ideas that get sent to me disguised as emails in my Inbox.  And today I got two of those suckers!  Oh what luck.

First.  I got this email from UMass.  All you need to know here is that A) I park in Lot 32. B) It rained all day.  Enjoy:

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 15:15:50 -0500 [03:15:50 PM EST]
Parking Service
Undisclosed Recipients
Lot 32/34 Flooding

Lot 32 and 34 are flooding.  Please move your vehicle to a different location.  If your vehicle is underwater, do not start the vehicle.

Thank You.

So, thankfully i had left the lot about two hours before this message was sent.  But can we agree that this is hilarious and totally douchey at the same time.  Which is actually kind of impressive.  If my vehicle is underwater, how am i going to get inside to try and start the car.

And if we did manage to bring our SCUBA stuff with us to our cars after work, you're telling a bunch of academics not to try and start their cars underwater.  Um, hello.  Unless someone bought their Land Rover a engine snorkel, I really don't think they have to worry about someone going all yellow submarine across Lot 32.

And then, read differently, it's kinda like they are saying, "hey. our parking lot flooded and we can see that there are some cars underwater. so, if one of those cars is yours, don't start it.  but also, don't call us or hold us responsible in any way.  cause we aren't here to help, we're here to tell you that we know about it, and potentially warn some of you.  We aren't even giving you another Lot to move your car too.  Cause we don't care.  At all.  Have a nice day! *cue shit-eating grin*

Then I got this email from someone in the building: 

I don't know if anybody in the department parks in Lot 32, but if so, it is flooded (Monday ~3 PM).  Please do not reply to this.  That's all I know.

Have you ever seen a less helpful "helpful email" in your life.  "Your car may be destroyed.  Don't talk to me.  Stomp"  Okee-dokee.  Perhaps you should consider just not sending that email.  They'll figure it out soon enough.

Lastly, in my constant pursuit of trying to keep in touch with my friends, I sent this little Gmail Message gem to my friend Chris:

me:  how is your life sir.
in haiku if possible.

His Response:

Chris:  if for your blog this
haiku is, my life is sweet
otherwise, is it?

That is pure brilliance folks.  Well crafted.  Followed haiku rules.  Extra points for self-promotion.  And just a touch of guilt on me to publish it.  It is perfection.  And in keeping with it's spirit: 

Best life update haiku left in the comments section will be featured (along with Karen) in my Prize Winner's Blog Update! (open to one and all)

 Impress me!

Two Timing and Joan River's Smilin

Sunday, January 24, 2010 | 1 Comment(s)

Well, it turns out that the penance one must pay for two weeks in paradise is a week and a half of work hell.  So be it.  It was totally worth it.  I'd do it again in a second.  Anyways,  I've been pretty busy and feel as if I've been neglecting my blog (you know, emotionally).  But don't worry, I've been plotting.

I was listening to the radio in the car yesterday and I heard a pre-Valentine (oh, just wait til i tell you how I feel about Valentine's day) 2 for 1 jewelry deal.  Now this, in and of itself, is not particularly surprising, but then a young woman's voice comes on and sings this little happy jingle, "Buy one for the wife and the girlfriend's free!"  

(for fun i used this picture from the The Women's Philanthropy Network's newsletter--I'm probably going to hell for it.  [i figure they are philanthropically giving humor to this blog post])

What what what!!!  Now I know what you think I'm gonna say.  But I'm not going to go there.  It's too obvious and easy.  How do they get a young woman to sing that.  What WOMAN would sing that.  It's like the tag-line to infidelity and insecurity.  And I realize that I guess she would be the girlfriend and therefore would be "making out" on this 2 for 1 deal, but that really is shortsighted.  I mean, if (s)he is buying the first piece for the wife, it's not like this girl can have the illusion that (s)he is going to leave the wife.  So this (i have to presume) hussy is really be ceding the high ground.

And how is this acceptable advertising.  And what's worse, it's a trend that is catching on!  My friend Dana Jay recently wrote a blog post about  A website designed to facilitate affairs.  Way to stay classy America.  Let's be sure not to let the gay's ruin marriage for everybody.  Uber sigh.

On a separate note, I think there is something sadly poetic about the fact that all of these celebrities, determined to preserve their youth with plastic surgery, all end up looking freakishly the same.  Yes, I'm taking to you Cameron Diaz (sad cause you were so pretty--funny pic though), Madonna, Heidi Montag (I'm not sure who you are, but you seem WAY too in the middle of your youth to be trying to preserve it), Nicole Kidman, and OMG Bruce Jenner.  And I also can't tell whether I find it disturbing or hilarious that, to me (and I might be so bold as to say those of my generation), you all just end up looking like Joan Rivers.  I wonder if that is something Joan would be proud of?  Any publicity is good publicity?  In the end I guess it is why they invented the term "poetic justice."

Odds & Ends: Politics, Tefillin Barbie, and the Attack of the Tuner Monster.

Friday, January 22, 2010 | 3 Comment(s)

I'm not sure why, but I haven't been very thematic recently.  Let's do an "odds and ends" entry to make it official.

- The day after my blog entry on baggage fees, American Airlines announced they would be charging $25 a bag.  The day after that, I saw the first story on shipping your baggage to your travel destination  ahead of time.  I'm not saying that that is the solution, but this problem will be rectified.  It's too completely moronic not to.

- Being both a MA native and MA resident, it has been hard not to be disappointed by the recent election.  And here's the thing.  It's not even that a Republican won and how that might affect the Senate. *begin political tirade*  Frankly, over the years of my political cognizance (which, lets say, started around Regan), I have learned one sad truth about the American political system.  That is, if a president wants to get their agenda enacted, they have to find a way to simply push it through.  George W, moron of morons, made this process into an art-form.  He found a way to break the law, with his subversion of Congress, and then write a law making the law he broke not pertain to him (Patriot Act?).  If George W. has been craving the approval of his daddy, at least he can feel safe in saying that he ignored Congress more efficiently than any president ever.  How else could he have sunk the richest nation in the world in 8 short years.  *End political tirade*   What bugs me is that Brown R-MA is so proudly announcing that he will vote against a health care bill that is MUCH LESS progressive than the state-wide mandated health care of the state he represents.  That I find distastefully hypocritical.  We got ours, FU other Americans.  Not cool.

- On a lighter note, this is hilarious to me.  While I concede that tefillin (boxes containing prayers worn on the head and arm during the morning service--pictured) are more rarely seen than the yarmulke and talis (prayer shawl), this quote from an FBI spokesman seems a bit extreme to me: "It's something that the average person is not going to see very often, if ever,"  I mean, they aren't THAT uncommon.  I searched tefillin on Google and found these images:

They don't make Barbie dolls wrapped in giant squids or holding a Dead Sea Scroll, because those things are rare.  Tefillin?  We liked it so much me made a doll of it. (sing to the tune of Beyonce's Put A Ring On It).  Not so rare.  And are you telling me that NO ONE else on the plane could explain these religious items?  I realize the plane was going to Louisville, but it was coming from New York.  They landed in Philadelphia to further investigate the matter before heading on to their destination.  A tip.  Landing in Philadelphia only increases your chance of personal harm (not to mention the extra take off and landing).  Skip the emergency landing and just get the number for El Al Airlines.

- Last one.  Someone please tell me if this is genius or insane.  You know how when you look at a Kindle, the screen is visually different than when you look at a computer screen.  Better for your eyes and whatnot.  Well, what if someone invented glasses that, when worn, dulled the glow of the computer screen so it looked more like the Kindle screen.  Eh?  Like I said, it's either genius or folly.

- I lied.  There is one more.  Cause this is crazy.  As I am writing that last paragraph (specifically after I finished linking the work "Kindle" to the Kindle web page, the TV, which was on mute in the background, started emitting what I would classify as an earmeltingly loud shock of constant static noise.  Like the sound that accompanies the "TV-snow" of a channel with no reception (I used to think of it as the white team vs. the black team in an epic struggle.  Preternaturally sensitive to racial issues, totally racist, or kinda autistic?).  Anyways, its 1:30am and my gf is sleeping downstairs.  What do I do in reaction to this sudden cacophony?  Do I play it cool man, real cool.  No.  No I do not.  I start emitting my own earmeltingly loud and constant shrieks which, in my recollection, sound just like the dude whose is actively getting rolling over by one of those pavement roller trucks.  Way to act like you been there before Mattitiyahu.  So, I go shrieking and running downstairs (still shrieking) and make sure the gf is ok (why the hell wouldn't she be ok since up until I ran downstairs screaming she was fast asleep).  Then I run upstairs (still shrieking, but a little less constant) and realize that the sound must be coming from our DVD/Tuner (though I only knew that since I had turned everything else off, so really I just turned the last thing with its power on, off).  The sound ended.  I am lying on the floor shaking in the fetal position.  It is safe to say that if someone has a hidden camera installed in my living room, then we have an internet sensation on our hands.  It was the first time in a very VERY long time that the shit has been scared out of me.  I don't watch scary movies.  I even turn the channel when the tense scenes come on in romantic comedies.  Wow.  I do feel kind of invigorated.  But perhaps that's just the feeling of having my colon in my esophagus.  Amazing, my landlord and family (we live in the "in-law" appartment to their main house) didn't even get woken up.  I am both amazed and frightened by that.

I should be able to fall RIGHT to sleep now.  Sigh.  (*hands still trembling*)

Today was a bad day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 | 1 Comment(s)

Today I watched a "Credit Report Dot Com" commercial to avoid having to watch "The Real World" on MTV.

and I saw (R-MA) for the first time.

I'll see you tomorrow, cause today was a bad day.

Pre-School Starting Tomorrow Quickie

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | 4 Comment(s)

So, I'm pretty narcissistic.  I mean, while this is the only vanity blog i write (upon suggestion from a friend I am thinking of switching my blog tagline too: To Be Read and Reread, Upon My Untimely Demise: The only vanity blog I read. [we'll see]), I do follow my readership with a little ticker on the bottom of the page.  It tells me all sorts of fun stuff like how many people are reading, where they are from, and how long they read for.  And about a week ago, I saw a precipitous jump in my page hits.  My first thought, of course, was that I've "finally cause on." (like I'm been at this for a really long time or something.) But, seeing I have no idea how one would go about popularizing one's blog to less familial readers, this, of course, was not the case.  Turns out, that link I posted of a hot little picture of good old Winnie Cooper in my blog about Larry's Landing caused a lot of internet web searchers (just out for a stroll) to happen upon my quaint little PG-13 blog here.  And my numbers/readership go boom.  But, to me, this is just another example of Winnie Cooper and Larry's coming through for more me yet again.  Did I mention Winnie Cooper.  I think mentioning Winnie Cooper in my blog could really help my readership numbers.  Did I mention my narcissism.  And how about Winnie Cooper?  Oh, I mentioned Winnie Cooper already.  Fair enough.  If only my little web ticker didn't also tell me that most of those hits were only for a for seconds.  But, every 5th or 6th time, the porn searcher stayed and read awhile.  This is amazing to me.  Someone all geared up and ready to go stops to hunker down with my blog.  So.  In there honor.  Winnie Cooper Winnie Cooper Winnie Cooper Winnie Cooper Winnie Cooper.

School starts up again tomorrow.  I am so screwed.  I'm glad we had this talk.

My Baggage with Luggage Fees

Monday, January 18, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

This is the clock on the St. John ferry dock (where my return trip home began).

This clock is a centerpiece. It is about 3 feet in diameter, hangs above the waiting area, and really brings the 'room' together. The problem, as I see it, is that this picture was taken at 11:42 am (i wrote it down). That, in a nutshell, is an apropos metaphor for Caribbean travel. This clock, perfectly functional and moving forward at a constant and correct pace, may be one of those rare instances of being able to capture the concept of "island time." Oh how I miss it already.

And as long as I am writing about my travels home, allow me to talk a bit about my new pet peeve: baggage fees. This is particularly acute travelling to St. John, as travel there requires a plane, a taxi (to the ferry) and a boat ride (the ferry itself).

Today a heard/read a report that Delta Airlines is upping its baggage fees to something like $23 per checked bag. Additionally, over the past 3 years or so, the taxis ($5) and the ferry ($2.50 each) to St. John have added an additional baggage charge to their services. I can only imagine that this trend is happening all over.

This seems like the MOST obvious example of charging more money for the same service I have ever seen. And what pisses me off about this is that these people are the travel industry. The whole point of the travel industry is to promote travel and encourage traveling more. This same industry is then penalizing people for bringing crazy things like clothes and toiletries with them as they go. What the hell man. I am currently saving (if I flew Delta, which i didn't in this case) around 60 dollars by packing everything for my trip all in one backpack (which i did). That's a substantial amount of money for me. And this (my unbelievably economical packing job) can only happen because I keep bulky essentials at the house at my destination. In the current economic climate, these completely made up charges aimed at squeezing every last cent out of travelers for a struggling industry will, in the end, backfire. Because it's very obvious in insulting the intelligence of the population they are serving. Which, in this case, is a mostly educated and well off group (you have to be to travel these days--wealthy that is).

The backfiring process is already happening. Southwest Airlines has already begun to capitalize on the insanity which is asking people to fly somewhere without luggage by using advertisements (which i admittedly find hilarious) asking why other airlines "hate your bags." More specifically, these commercials are somewhat insidiously asking (this is my opinion for the record) why other airlines disrespect you enough to think that they can charge you more money for no actual reason, without you noticing or caring.

All and all i think this is a great example of what my dad often admonishes me not to do: They are being dollar-wise and penny-foolish. The airline industry is having troubles. For sure. To think that the solution to this problem can be solved by nominal extra fees to a dwindling consumer base and not by dealing with rising gas prices and alternative fuels, is micromanaging the little things while overlooking the bigger overarching problems. And I, for one, won't be paying for this industry's shortsightedness.

The Dumbest Blogger that Ever Was

Saturday, January 16, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

And so ends my first blog contest. I labeled the calabash (spelled wrong of course) and my astute readers were able to figure out that I am indeed a super dork. I SWEAR the next contest will be better. Until then, enjoy my ongoing humiliation:


klandis said...

I'm going to go ahead and guess kalabash.

mattitiyahu said...

holy mother crapping shit. Karen. You are a genius. I did not think this was that easy. Stay tuned for a post in your honor.

klandis said...

Matty. I feel too bad too live this lie. You labeled the image as such.

Melissa :) said...'s really easy when the picture is titled "kalabash.jpg" ;)

mattitiyahu said...

i am fortunes fool. This correspondence may be my best blog ever. Sigh. I never said I was smart. That was never part of the deal.

What *IS* That?

Friday, January 15, 2010 | 7 Comment(s)

My first blog contest officially begins. It is open to any and all who haven't seen me the past 2 weeks. Below is a picture of the mystery item up for guessing. Whomever guesses correctly (use the comments section) will be rewarded handsomely with due praise via the blog.

Some clues:
1. It's hard like a coconut (it's not a coconut).
2. It smells like a yummy fruit (like something they should make a candle of).
3. It's about the size of my hand.

(Press Control + to enlarge)


Happy Guessing!!!

Here Comes the Sun

The benefit of having one of my great great great grandparents wander the desert for 40 odd years is that my skin tone is faintly Semitic, i.e. there is a olive-ishness to my hue.  This allows me a little bit of carte blanche when it comes to sun exposure.  I say a little bit, as having an oncologist father certainly keeps the reality of melanoma never far from my consciousness.  But, as far as my sins are concerned, on the few days that I am lucky enough to have the sun's rays beat down upon me, I often am a bit careless about sunscreen protection.  Which is to say that I may get a bit of unprotected sunshine in the morning or at the end of the day (I always apply sunscreen when out bet 11-2).  The sum total of the damage is usually a nice even tan and a  sometimes peel-y nose.  No biggie. 

This is not true for all people.  Take, say, my gf for example.  Her ancestors being from the powder wigged culture of the "old country" and it's surrounding islands (the U.K.), has a much different relationship with Apollo's chariot of fire.  There is no room for carelessness in her sun fun.  A few hours of unprotected sun exposure and she is a boiled lobster recoiling at even the faintest touch.  I liken her relationship with the sun to trying to perfectly brown a marshmallow over a campfire.  It takes an incredible amount of time and patience to get it perfectly browned.  But, more realistically, the idea that you can perfectly brown a marshmallow over an open flame without it catching on fire is a myth.  It's impossible.  It will, at some point, catch on fire (at least briefly).  And while the vast majority may be that beautiful brownish gold, some areas will be bubbly carbon colored (my favorite part of the mallow fyi [and you remember how much i love the mallow]).  Now substitute "British/Irish/Scottish skin" for "marshmallow," and you have my gf's sun dilemma. 

I tell you all this as background to a view observations I have made recently.  My gf (and myself on occasion) wears a rashy when we go snorkeling.  This is a water friendly shirt (long-sleeve in this case) that one usually uses when surfing, in order to prevent a rash caused by paddling while lying on your board.  It also is effective as a way to block the sun while snorkeling.  When I looked closer at her rashy, it reads "50+ UV sun protection."  I find this extremely funny.  I'm no sun expert, but I was told on more than one occasion that anything above 45 is just the same as 45, in terms of UV.  But, to be honest, I have no idea why.  And that's not really the point.  The point, to me, is that when I am wearing a shirt, I believe my chest under that shirt is completely blocked from the sun.  As in, there is no sun reaching my chest.  If a shirt is only 50+ sun protection, what is a door?  Or a roof for that matter?  Should the roof of the hosue here read 70+ UV protection.  Is cement like 425,390+ UV protection?  I don't know, but I think I am going to start stamping everything un-translucent with UV protection signs.  This lawnmower provides great grass-cutting services, and, if you lay underneath it, it gives 129+ UV protection . . . on second thought, maybe this is a bad idea.

Additionally, I discovered that, for the light skinned, sun avoidance is a full time job.  Example #1: 'My gf'
When I awoke in the late morning the other day, I looked over and saw my lovely gf as such (we live in sin).  Now, if we can ignore for a moment the incredible amount of cover-stealing involved in creating such a thorough gf cocoon, we should deal briefly with my reaction to seeing such a sight.  At first glance, it appears as if some gigantic crafty spider caught her in her sleep and crocheted her into a knitted cocoon for later consumption.  Alternatively, it came to me that potentially she might have been a great Pharaoh who led her people to mountains to discover sheep and thus opened up a new market of wool garments.  Upon her demise, her people wrapped her in the fruits of her discovery in order to later bury her under a pyramid of looms, dark-framed glasses, and Pavement LPs. 

In actuality, I thought she was trying to avoid the mosquitoes, which apparently were present in that 40 year trek RE: the desert, and have a particular affinity for my Semitic blood over the British stuff (what culture HASN'T had the taste for Semitic blood though, right?).  This, it turns out, was not the real reason.  Apparently, the sun was shining in through the window (we unabashedly sleep late on vacation) and she was attempting to be diligent in her sun protection.  Little did she know that that blanket is only 35+ UV protection. 

And don't think that she was the only one hiding under wraps.  This unidentified young lady also knows how to show the sun whose boss:
She, like Tony Danza, is the boss.

The moral of the story.  UV protection is an emerging market.  And if we can terrify enough people to fear the sun, we can make a killing on UV protecting clothes, houses, and potentially even lawn care items.

The Pleasure of Pouring-Your-Own (Part II): G-Spot Edition

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

Seeing as I am currently down in the Caribbean, I would be remiss not to at least mention the tragedy unfolding in Haiti.  Just a few islands over, there is fear, destruction, and chaos.  My thoughts are definitely with those wrapped in this inhumane catastrophe, and I can only hope that as many people as possible are saved.  It is hard to reconcile a "things happen for a reason" point of view when a 7.1 earthquake happens in country marred by widespread poverty and shaky infrastructure.  Sigh.

My original post is being put on hold, and instead I am going to add an addendum to my earlier post RE: Larry's Landing.  If you recall, this is the local bar on St. John which allows you to pour your own drinks at the bar.  Awesome.  But, recently, I've found even more reasons to love it.  Read on.

Between the front bar and the back bar at Larry's lives a small "snack shack" type eatery open from 11am-2am (eat in or take away--you can even call and order ahead of time).  Those are my kind of hours.  Its name:  The G-Spot.  Awesome.  They have t-shirts that read: "The G-Spot, a great place to eat . . . if you can find it."  Awesome.  The G-Spot, in partnership with Larry's, provides patrons with affordable (increasingly sparse on the island) tasty food that is well above and beyond traditional "bar grub."  They've got Reubens and hotdogs ($3!) and other other delectables, but what I want to focus on is "The Big G."  Described as "just like a Big Mac," I was more than intrigued considering I haven't had fast food in over 10 years. 

Now, I don't not eat (eat that double negative) fast food because of the taste.  Quite frankly, the amount of chemistry that goes into fast food construction makes it almost impossible not to like the taste, considering it's practically genetically modified to suit your taste buds' needs.  My moral compass sometimes blows in the wind, but I just find no need to support corporations that: mistreat their employees, contribute to the obese-a-fication of a fatty America, and put poop in their food (read Fast Food Nation for an explination there).  Essentially, to me fast food is a 'no thank you' no brainer.  I'm not preachy about it, but i view fast food much like cigarette companys in that they are not looking out for the best interests of the exact population they are marketing too.  I'm not into that.

So, post that little foodie diatribe, let's go back to my enjoyment of the taste of fast food (back in the day).  I mean . . . yum.   And let me tell you.  The G-Spot's Big G tastes so much like a Big Mac that it actually crawls right up to my prostate and unloads such pleasure to my taste center that I go weak in the knees.  Two pattys (of real meat), the grilled onions, special sauce, lettuce, cheese.  They've got the 'flavor profile' spot on.  I have already had two of these heroes on poppy-seed buns, and I plan on having my 3rd before leaving this weekend.  The best part?  Three hours later when I'm back at home, I don't get colon blow that sounds like a canon being fired through the toilet at the rats below. 

If you're looking for my G-Spot, its somewhere at the intersection of pouring my own alcoholic beverage and eating a guilt-free facsimile of the fast food corp.'s crown jewel.  I'm never coming home.

ps. Meals served with your choose of potato salad, pasta salad, pretzels, chips, etc.  I chose Sun Chips. Yum.

Crapping Myself With Laughter

Monday, January 11, 2010 | 3 Comment(s)

This is a snippet from tonight's dinner conversation with my gf, parents, and me. 

The set up to this is that I left the toilet seat up in the downstairs bathroom today.  Admittedly, I always leave the toilet seat up, with the exception of before going to bed.  My mother saw this and immediately took the moral high ground in her questioning how I could leave the seat up.  I answered matter-of-factly, "I always do."  This obviously was not the answer she was expecting (and let's face it, I was goading her).  So then she turned to my gf and asked how she could stand for such a thing (i don't think the pun was intended there, but i wish it had been).  I cut in by saying that I never expect her to lift the seat post going to the bathroom, though the odds are that I will be going to the bathroom next, and that more than half of those times, I will need to toilet seat up.  I think it is reasonable that she expect me to look before I pee, and simply lift the seat rather than pee all over it.  Which I do.  In the same vain, when I go pee-pees in the potty, and leave the seat up, during the day, and I have enough faith in my gf that she will not walk, eyes closed, into the bathroom and cannonball into the toilet.  Seeing the toilet seat up, she is overly qualified to knock that seat on down before sitting.  Which she does.  And there, in a nutshell, we find domestic bliss.  Now, as I said, nighttime is the exception.  I DO expect her to walk into the bathroom with her eyes closed at night, and so I put that seat on down.  When I do forget, when I come to bed and she gets up to go to the bathroom, I warn her.  I do.  She can verify this.  Also, after #2, we both leave it down, cause . . . I mean . . . come on.

Anyways.  Just as it usually happens, whenever I think I finally have control of a family moment, I somehow manage to walk right into my own undoing. Tonight was no exception.  As this conversation is winding down my mom drops this bomb.  "Well maybe Matt's reticence to put the seat down has something to do with the concussion he got."  My gf gives me the sidelong glance that says, "Excuse me, I don't know the concussion story.  Please, do share." I, in return, give her the, "I have no fucking clue what this lady is talking about."  I ask my mother to elaborate.  Big mistake.

"Well, when you were potty training, you were like 2 or 3 years old, you were peeing in the potty and concentrating and watching your stream . . . when the seat came down and smashed you on the top of the head and knocked you out.  I had to call the doctor.  He said to watch you very carefully (which she did for the next 29 years) and not let you go to bed."

EXCUSE ME!!!  YOU LET THE TOILET KNOCK MY ADORABLE BABY SELF UNCONSCIOUS!  UNCONSCIONABLE!!!  I just picture my tiny, big eyed, bowl-hair cutted self, all 2 feet and 40 lbs. of me, lying on my back on the white tile floor.  Pant's down, pee still squirting out of my little baby penis, like someone had knocked over one of those baby cupid fountains that pee's water into the larger pool.  Of course I have no idea if this is what actually happened, but that's how i'm choosing to picture it in retrospect.  And I am outraged (but not really).

What surprises me most about this horrible horrible (horribly funny) story, is that it took 29 years to resurface.  I assure you that my parents have enjoyed the retelling of, what I thought was, every embarrassing moment of my childhood (it's as if they KNEW i'd write a blog someday and would need material) over and over and over again.  How this toilet tale managed to escape family lore I truly do not know, since bathroom/bodily fluid related stories are kind of the family favorites. What I do know is that I certainly will no longer be lectured to RE: my toilet seat behavior.  Until I need to physically pull my parents out of the toilet, I think it's clear that they owe me one.

Relationship Defining Moments

Saturday, January 9, 2010 | 1 Comment(s)

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine in his mid-twenties.  He has been with his girlfriend for awhile now which, he was explaining,  was not a situation he was accustomed to.  It seems he had been accustomed to "short-term" relationships up until that point.  A feeling I have at least some experience with.  He asked me how one knows when they are in a serious relationship.  "Oh," I said, "a SERIOUS relationship, huh," was my witty reply.  "You know what I mean, a long-term relationship."  I explained that there is a difference between a 'serious' and 'long-term' relationship, and that there was also the combined 'serious long-term relationship' to contend with as well.  All of which, i said with great knowledge and confidence and while stroking my long white beard, had slightly different indicators.  At this point my grandstanding apparently hit the limit of my friend's patience, and the sarcasm took over (i deserved it for the record).  "Well, oh mighty and knowledgeable old guy (a mean mean dig to a 31-year-old), what are these subtle differences."

In my somewhat joke response, I think I may have stumbled, once again, on brilliance.  I can say that it is constantly humbling to know that most of the times that I make my way to brilliance, I get there stumbling over myself, tripping, and landing in it.  Brilliance, it seems, is my dog-poo.

The conversation that followed:

Me:  Has she ever masturbated with you in the room?
Him: Huh?
Me: Has she ever masturbated with you in the room?
Him:  Well . . . . um . . . yah.
Me:  And have you ever jerked off with her in the room?
Him:  Yes.
Me:  Then you are in a long-term relationship.  (Begin Sidebar:  My thinking here is two-fold.   1.  If you are in a short term relationship, you are too busy having and/or negotiating sex to stop and get into the subtleties of getting turned on by your partner(s) pleasuring themselves.  That or, by the time that option would be put on the table, the relationship is already over. I mean, who wants to waste a good one night stand rubbing one out of your own accord.  Just don't make no sense.  2.  No woman (or maybe just 1 or 2 women) that I know would go downtown on themselves in the presence of a guy they didn't trust.  And for women, infinitely smarter when sex is on the table, this trust cannot be obtained in a night or even over the course of a week or two.  You gotta do the time. End Sidebar)

Him: "Ok ok, I get that.  But how do i then know if I'm in one of these 'SERIOUS long-term relationships you were talking about.' (His sarcasm cup still runneth over)

Me:  "When you were jerking off with her in the room, was she asleep next to you?"
Him:  "Um . . . no . . . She was watching." (this was told to me with a similar inflection to if I had asked him "Is the ball square?" and his reply being, "Um . . . no . . . The ball is round (duh)."

Me:  "Well then, you aren't yet in a SERIOUS long-term relationship quite yet.  Congrats."

Monkey Madness

Thursday, January 7, 2010 | 2 Comment(s)

When you move to a non-English speaking country and start to assimilate, slowly but surely the new language works its way into your subconscious.  It is almost a rite of passage for 2nd language learners to dream in their new language.  I have had this process happen twice (Hebrew & Japanese), and both times I awoke elated and super proud of myself.  I am NOT above being proud of my subconscious.  And there is nothing more sublime for me than the idea being productive in my sleep.  *shudder*  Just typing that was a little arousing.

I was wondering today (and this is truly a sign I am on vacation) if those monkeys that are kept in captivity (I actually kind of like the fact that the word 'captivity' has such a harsh and uncompromising connotation) and are taught sign-language, ever have dreams (monkeys do dream) in English.  I mean they live in constant contact with humans and the English language. And they're smart.  Really smart.  And I realize that they may hear those human sounds and still not understand what the words mean.  But i wonder, if sometimes, they have a crazy dream where they can also understand English.  Because sometimes, in amazingly cool dreams I have, I can speak their monkey language with them.  I bet that monkey that has that crazy dream wakes up amazingly satisfied after an incredibly productive night of sleep.

Tricky T's and the Adventure of the Chest Waxing Crazy Person

Wednesday, January 6, 2010 | 2 Comment(s)

I find that the secret to a good blog, and really the secret to any burgeoning relationship, is to let your crazy out a little at a time.  If you let it all out at once, people are either frightened of you (not good for readership) or feel that they know you completely (not good for intrigue).  If you don't let any of it out, people will either find you boring (not good for readership) or withholding (good for intrigue, bad for readership).  You also come across as a moving statue--which admittedly sounds SUPER intriguing to me (Golem much?).  Additionally, by slowly letting out drippings of the full fledged crazy that we ALL have, you remind people that humans are weird and unpredictable and do stuff that is as fucked up as the stuff you do when you're alone and no one's around.   And, more specific to me, I continue to make the case that I am one of these unpredictable beings who is worthy of you learning and reading more about.  (Shit.  I just realized that is IS a vanity blog.  uber sigh.)

So today I've decided it's a great time (now that I'm relaxed and it's too overcast for snorkeling) for another "reveal" (i need to watch less Project Runway evidently).  Thankfully, i've covered the tracks of my crazy with a hilarious side-story.  Cunning, i know.

I am a trickatilamaniac.  What sounds like a super-power or sexual deviancy is actually a somewhat rare condition in which a person derives satisfaction from plucking hair out of their body.  There are varying degrees of trickatilamania (Tricky-T's for short?), and in some cases it can affect one's every day life (for a mediumly graphic example click here).  This is particularly evident in cases where people focus on the hair on their head.  Thankfully, my neurosis over going bald (or my old neurosis seeing as I've met my goal of having hair at 30) has kept my hands away from my head.  In other words, there are very few ways you would ever realize this fun fact about me.

 I should also clarify some points about Tricky-T's.

1.  The satisfaction that one gets from pulling hairs is not (to my knowledge) sexual in nature.  It is more of a gratification similar to popping a zit (is this just me still) or finally successfully threading a needle.
2.  There is nothing worse to a person with Tricky-T's then saying, "Why don't you just stop," or some other, less inquisitive version of that phrase.  The whole point of what's going on here is that the person can't find a way to stop.  The picking itself is so satisfying that you lose sight of the negative consequences until afterward (think alcoholism for a frame of reference).
3.  Symptoms can be intensified by stress or even boredom.  I once, while trapped at my desk in an office doing nothing all day in Japan, managed to pluck out half of one of my eyebrows.  I can't tell if I was happy to be in a culture at the time that would never bring such a thing up in conversation or not--since i knew they certainly had no compunction about talking behind one's back (it's considered the more polite way to handle things [yes, culture shock is a real thing]).

One of the biggest clues that I am a Tricky-T can be found on my chest.  Over the years I have picked and picked at certain spots of chest-hair that the follicles no longer produce hair.  My fingers are like little lasers surgically removing my body hair from the root with constant diligence.  As I said before, the negative consequences of this picking usually aren't realized until afterward.  As such, I didn't know when I started picking (can't remember when that was--but I was a little matt) that the hair would no longer grow back if I picked at it consistently.  If I had known, I'm sure I would have devised a more systematic picking structure that would have left me with hair in the shape of the Mona Lisa or an "S" in an upside-down triangle.   Unfortunately, not knowing in advance, the result of all of this picking is that I have what slightly resembles Steve Carell's Man-o-Lantern, from The 40-Year Old Virgin (see picture).

While it isn't quite that extreme or well defined, even i must admit that is does bare (pun?) a certain resemblance.  And as this is a constant reminder of what i have done to myself, you can imagine that it is also a source of shame and embarrassment for me.  And while it doesn't really prevent me from going shirtless (my lack of giving a shit outweighs any shame I might have [and they say apathy can't be productive]), it's not something that can happily push to the back recesses of my mind either.

So today, for the second time, I took the reins of this problem and decided to do something about it.  I waxed my chest.  Cunningly disguised in a hilarious story--just like i said i would.

The first time I did this I was also here in St. John, and it was instigated by 2 of my best friends (who were here with me) buying the wax and strips at the pharmacy while I was food shopping.  This scenario tumbled down the peer-pressure hill and ended in one slick upper back (not mine), one smoooooth upper ass-crack and lower back (also not mine), and one silky smooth chest (mine).  I have a lot of chest hair though, so I should clarify that I did not, in fact, wax it clean, but more cleared out the middle.  The best example i can give is of a silverbacked gorilla, with hair all over and below his belly-button, but excepting his bare breast plate in the middle.  I am a silverback.

I will also admit that part of the incentive for doing this came from the well publicized pain that waxing was said to elicit.  I have a pretty high threshold for pain (but not for temperature strangely), and I have been wondering where "waxing" fit on the pain scale. 

The Results.  While i refuse to put a picture of my waxed chest on the internet (enjoy the 'used strips' pic), I will say that having what could be considered a "pattern of chest hair" instead of sporadic golf greens, is immensely gratifying.  While the slickness and smoothness themselves don't hold much appeal to me (perhaps to my gf?), the feeling of normalcy in this domain is undeniably relaxing. 

The Process.  Much more fun to talk about.  Today I waxed for the second time using the leftover wax from our first episode down here.  And this time I did it to myself.  That means I had to yank, against the grain (found that rule out the hard way), with enough force to pull the hairs out of my chest.  This is, psychologically speaking, a mini version of stabbing yourself in the leg.  The pain, however, is much less.  If you have areas of light hair growth (think a 14-year old's poop stain mustache), waxing is not more painful then peeling off a well attached band-aid.  If you have areas of heavy hair growth (a leg or hipster's muttonchops [i would fucking love to wax me some of those]), the pain is considerably greater.  At worst, its the sting of someone slapping you at full speed straight on with an open hand.  It stings.  But, much like the spice of Wasabi, it goes away right after.  I have areas that fall into both categories on my chest, and I experienced the entire 1-7 scale of self slapping pain. The experience is survivable, but unpleasant enough that I haven't ever been remotely tempted to go the full-Monty on my chest.  It's also painful enough for me to give props to the ladies who clean up their downstairs parts with this stuff (props) (oh that reminds me of a story--another time).  Ladies, we (the people that see your nether regions) appreciate it. 

If this is a vanity blog, im glad mine has a chest-waxing chapter.

The Pleasure of Pouring-Your-Own

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | 1 Comment(s)

Since this blog is a place of honesty and whatnot, I feel the need to tell you all that I am in St. John, USVI.  I am, essentially, in paradise.  And the reason I am here is because I am lucky.  Simple as that.  This is one of the superb upsides of having an oncologist father (i would, however, trade my debilitating fear of death [also a result of an oncologist father] for less time on the island. 

This entry is not actually about the extent of my privilege.  This entry is about Larry's Landing.  Or as it is referred to on the island, simply Larry's.  If I were putting together a travel brochure for this island (not that I want more people to come, but if I did) Larry's would be front and center.  It is island perfection.  Let's look at the facts.

You order a drink.  Say, a jack and coke.  You get the following: a plastic cup of ice, a bottle of Jack Daniels, and a can of Coke.  Larry's is what you call a "pour-your-own."  I have never seen this anywhere else in my somewhat extensive travels, but you are asked to pour your drink however strong or weak as you'd like.  So, essentially, for the thrifty (i.e. all the locals), you can just rock out with a cup of jack on the rocks and be walking sideways up and down the streets in no time.  And this isn't just crap alcohol.  Kettle 1 to Absolut Vanilla--they've got selection.  But this is only the beginning. 

The owner's of Larry's are Red Sox/Boston fans.  I once watched the Red Sox comeback playoff victory against the Devil Rays down here, and the place was like a Southie bar in summer on game-day.  Hollering superfans, Yankee fan's getting made fun of (they didn't make the playoffs that year), and general bar camaraderie.  As a fairly avid New England sports fan, having this passion for my "teams" at my vacation destination is priceless (especially with the Patriots game coming up).  And another point of superiority for Larry's in general.

There are two pool tables and a dart board by the back bar (also pour-your-own).  This allows for a hang out area.  A chill space.  And to compliment this zen garden of loitering, there is a small performance space for bands.  You know.  Chill bands.  The range of which goes from Bob Marley chill to Jack Johnson chill.  It's mellow man.   Actually, next to the performance space, behind the dartboard wall, is a small one-person area consisting of just a plastic chair and a lighter.  I would say that this space is primarily for "eating sandwiches."  I actually also saw a piece of a mirror back there.  But that shit is crazy.  Don't do drugs.  You know, the dangerous ones.  What I like most about this space is that instead of just being an alcove for smoking drugs, they've outfitted it with a chair.  Cause no one should have to suffer the indignity of standing while smoking.  How simply drool.

I know that you're thinking that things couldn't get muct more exciting.  But that's when you find yourself completely wrong (you silly gooses).  Larry's also has electronic slot machines.  And while I'm not completely sure how the system works, I believe if you win it prints out a receipt which you can redeem for cash at the bar.  Having low maintenance gambling around is like "just going for it" after 2 a.m., nothing good comes of it.  It adds that seediness that makes you feel like you are all in this together.  Like being in this moment, at this bar, is an experience to be treasured and recognized for its specialness.  It's like a drugged out version of the Wonder Years (can you believe that Winnie Cooper is still so dreamy! [though no longer in a G-rated fantasy kinda way]).  You are just waiting for Daniel Stern's voice-over to point out how, in retrospect, you probably knew that hitting on that perky girl with the slurred speech and the sniffles who was going on and on about all of the different breeds of horses was not a smart idea.

Larry's is the community coffee shop for a community that runs on booze and good times.  If you want to see "that crazy thing" that happened on the island last night, you shoulda been at Larry's.  I've seen large women fall and old people dance.  I've smelled hippie odorant and put up with douchey pool sharks trying to hoodwink tourists.  How could a well cooked steak at a schmancy fine dining establishment ever match the exhilaration of being felt up by a random tourist between parked car out back.  *Cue Daniel Stern:*  In a word, I would have to say that Larry's is "incomparable."  And, in the end, I can't think of any higher compliment.

Broken Promises and Internet Connections

Monday, January 4, 2010 | 4 Comment(s)

As with so many things in life, the only predictable thing is unpredictability. And it is because of this unpredictability that I have been forced to break the first promise i made to my blog readers. And woe is me. I am currently ensconced in some warm faraway locale that usually has a reliable internet connection. In these temperate breezy days, however, some low flying island bird must have crashed into a cactus satellite somewhere and caused my T1 connection (i have NO idea what that is nor if that is what I have for service) to act more like a T0, and i have been taking a forced leave of absence from the internet. This is difficult for me. It turns out that I am unrepentantly (or somewhat unrepentantly) addicted to the internet. Or perhaps, more accurately, i am addicted to the availability of the internet to service my ever growing connectivity needs. And so 2010 came, and I didn't tell you guys any of the pain and hilarious of my "direct" flight to paradise which ended up including a 7 hour layover and multiple plane boarding and deboardings. I couldn't wax romantic about my midnight champagne toast in the hot tub, or the woman at the bar here who took one look at me and said, "I know you! You're in the background of, like, ALL of my July 4th pictures! (Awesome!)" I like to think of all of these untold stories as "blog ammo" for the future, but lately the amassing of tales seems more like an inactivity reminder than a motivating tool. I picture it as an ever growing hamper of dirty laundry, growing as it taunts the irresponsibility of my avoiding its glare for over a month. This is, scarily, an extremely accurate metaphor.

Some odds and ends. You may remember my earlier post RE: the burning cross decoration outside a Western MA house. On our way to the Boston airport, I snapped off a quick pic with my iPhone. These devices are built for neither motion-photography nor night photography, yet i think the image still gets the overall point across:

Yup. I'm not making these stories up. Yet.

Secondly. I recently received a striking backhanded compliment, by one of my favorite people, about this blog. He said, "I don't read any vanity blogs except yours." I said, "Vanity blog?" He said, "Yah, blogs about, well, nothing in particular, no theme." [I should be more explicit that he by no means MEANT this as a backhanded compliment and was merely informing me of "lingo" i probably should have otherwise already known. end edit].

I was crestfallen. I am crestfallen. Here i was typing out the painful hilarity beset upon me for the enjoyment of strangers, just to be labeled "vain." If I knew ahead of time that this was going to be called vain i would have made myself look much stronger, smarter, better looking, chest-haired, bearded, and less clumsy, awkward, crazy, Jew-y, and gastro-intestinally challenged.

My friends reply, "What would YOU call it." This question prompted me to come very close to changing the name of my blog to: "The Vanity Blog: The Conceitedly Egocentric Diggings of a Narcissistic, Megalomaniac, Pompous, Self-absorbed, Self-centered, Self-concerned, Self-indulgent, Self-interested, Self-loving, Self-serving, Selfish, Stuck-up, Vainglorious, Glory Hound." But im entirely too concerned with my image for that name to fly.

One traveling story. I understand drinking before a airplane flight. Hell, I consistently "eat a big sandwich" or take an anti-anxiety pill to deal with the inhuman experience of launching one's body 30,000 feet in the air with absolutely no understanding of how it's all happening (Bernoulli has something to do with it), nor any control as to how I will make it safely back to land. But, folks, the point of the drink is to calm one's nerves and pass the time. The point is not to relive one's college days. You do not order on a plane by saying, "Hit me again!" You do not half-mumble/sing the words to all songs played over the loudspeaker system regardless of whether you have heard that song before or not. You certainly to not repeat "Crosscheck!" at high volume every 15 seconds for 45 minutes until the delayed plane can move. Sir and madam (40-50 yrs old) sitting behind us on our flights + delays. You're are both asses. You are a couple with 3 seats between the 2 of you and you don't have the decency to understand you are lucky and should keep your party local. Instead, you get sloppy drunk, kick our seats, talk openly about our flight probably getting canceled in the end (something NO ONE wants to hear after 7 hours of delays and the prospect of being stuck on a no vacancy island overnight) and making the airline workers already trying day, just that much more annoying. Fuck you people behind us. If we were to go down in that windstorm, i would have be slightly relieved to know we were taking you two down with us. P.S. I purposely farted as many times as I could and I aimed them back at you guys. I'm not perfect either, and you guys started it.

While I can't promise you, my blog readers, that I will be consistent in my future vaykay postings, I will post whenever the internet allows. Because i miss you guys as much as I (apparently) vainly miss myself.