The Only Famous Person I Ever Met

In keeping with my writing goal, I’m forcing myself to write something before the week’s out. I’ve got an exam tomorrow, so this will be a bit rushed. This is just an amusing anecdote from college, hopefully others will find it amusing as well.

I’m pretty sure I’ve only met one famous person. Like, in my entire life. The funny thing is, I have no idea who he was. In fact, he might not even be famous. I only assume he was based on the way he acted. Here’s how it went down:

It was my senior year of college, and I was working an evening shift at a fast food restaurant. This guy comes in and asks if he can use the phone. I say “of course, no problem” and point out the phone on the counter. He thanked me, and I went back to work.

Or at least, I tried to. Instead of reaching for the phone, he just stood there staring at me with a smirk on his face. This was unusual for sober customers, so I asked, “can I help you with something? Do you need the phone book?” Again, he just said he needed to make a call and kept staring at me. Unnerved, I stared back. Eventually he lost his smirk and leaned over the phone as if to make a call. He seemed really disappointed, but I had no idea why. How could I know? Again I tried to go back to work.

I look up and he’s standing by the cash register. He didn’t call anybody. He’s staring and smirking again, smirking even harder if that’s possible. I’m thinking, “well, you really showed that phone, didn’t you? Not making a call, even when you really wanted to.” I asked again “can I help you?” He said, slowly, “no, I just need to make a phone call.” I said, “OK, it’s right there, go ahead.” At that, he lost his smirk. Some new emotion crept over his face, something between bafflement and devastation.

Somehow I’d upset him by trying to help him. Why? What did I miss? Was there something implied in his innocuous request? Something sinister? Perhaps he had us mixed up with a shadier type of establishment, one where “can I make a phone call?” was code for “a gram of heroin, if you please?” I was incapable of divining his intent. All I had to go on was that he asked to use the phone, so all I could do was assume he really did want to use the phone and was just really slow about it.

Not knowing what else to do, I asked, “Do you need directions? Are you trying to go somewhere?” He abruptly turned and made for the door. As he left, he said “I’m going somewhere where someone recognizes me!

And that is when I realized I’d met a famous person. The phone call was a ruse. That whole time, he’d been maximizing the time I spent looking at his face so I could recognize him. His smirk was a “yeah, it’s me” kind of smirk. Turns out that smirk was premature. He left, defeated, his ego bruised and his fame called into question. All by some college kid at a hoagie shop. Oh well, I’m sure he found someone to recognize him and forgot the whole thing. I, on the other hand, will always remember our encounter as the first and only time I met a famous person.


New Friskies, Now With LSD!

So Friskies has a new ad out, one that’s quite “colorful,” to say the least:

I’m used to Friskies advertising based on its taste and health benefits for cats, but here they seem to be taking an entirely different route. As the caption for the video says, “Discover Adventureland! A Journey to delicious and beyond. FRISKIES wet cat food unlocks a magical world of sensory stimulation for your cat.” It should read “Catnip’s got nothin on this shit!,” since apparently it makes your cat trip balls. I think it would be awesome if that were actually true, like some disgruntled Friskies employee dumped a bunch of LSD in a batch of cat food and the company just decided to run with it.

It probably wouldn’t be too bad for the cats; cats are too high strung as it is. With the new “Special” Friskies, you’d see kitties making peace with the house’s resident mice, digging up your old Pink Floyd albums and laying them suggestively at your feet, trying to meow to you their oneness with the universe, etc. Much better than how most cats act normally. Like my cousin’s old cat; a fatter and more melancholy feline I have never seen. It legitimately had a death wish; besides trying to eat itself to death, it kept trying to jump out windows and wedge itself in inescapable places, and when you saved its life it repaid you by peeing on the furniture. Now that’s a cat that could use some mind-altering substances, let me tell you. Plus, I’m sure every “look at my cat LOL” video out there would be doubly hilarious with tripped out kitties. So Friskies, I eagerly await the day you actually do make a cat food of the freaky variety.

Global Warming’s Here, Might as Well Enjoy it Before it Gets All Apocalyptic

How about this weather, huh? For the past couple of weeks, Chicago has been enjoying some incredibly nice weather. Some years we’d still be having snow and -10 temperatures around this time, and most years it’d be consistently miserable between now and May. Not this year; we’ve come off one of the warmest Chicago winters in history, and according to my friend the warmest Oct. 1st – Mar. 1st in Chicago’s history. It was above freezing more often than not, or at least it felt like it, and we never got anything resembling a normal Chicago winter (many, many weeks of -30F with wind chill).

The lines between seasons have always been somewhat blurred here, with “Spring” and “Fall” really just being periods of palsied fluctuation between blazing hot and bitter cold, and such periods never abiding by the three-month periods convention has set aside for them. But even this, what we’ve been having recently, is abnormal. Weather nationwide has been erratic for the past couple years, with Tornado Alley moving further South and East, the Northeast experiencing Midwest-style ice storms and blizzards, and the Pacific Northwest starting to get actual snow. It’s climactic change on a grand scale, no doubt about it.

No self-respecting scientist can say that the climate isn’t changing. Some scientists say it can’t be proven whether mankind is causing it, even if the evidence suggests it is. Well, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, you can’t prove that a fart on a crowded elevator is caused by mankind either. Most people are going to assume the culprit is an inconsiderate fellow passenger. Said passenger will never admit to it of course; that passenger would most likely be the one to bring up alternative theories (“Could be a mechanical problem with the elevator”), or to sow mistrust and blame the other passengers (“It could have been any of us!”), or even to pay hush money to the passengers behind them (the most directly affected) to avoid public ridicule. Or maybe said passenger is in an astronomically higher socio-economic strata than the other passengers, possibly being their boss, and thus doesn’t give a damn about them or their discomfort and unabashedly lets rip at every opportunity. We can call that last one “Bad Passenger,” or “BP” for short.

Replace “elevator” with “world,” and the culprit with a polluting industry and, well, you get the idea. The politics behind the Global Warming “debate” don’t really get any more advanced or mature than that, at least from what I can see. People are probably going to waste time with the “debate” until our coasts flood and our crops wither, at which time the parties/corporations most heavily in denial will magically (hopefully) have on hand the products and technology we need to save our asses, for a price we can’t afford not to pay. Until then, though, I’ll at least be able to enjoy the mild winters up here on the Chicago Riviera; there’ll be less frozen beards, less claiming my shoveled-out parking space with lawn chairs, and maybe less potholes in the summer. There’s always a silver lining, eh?

Birthdays, Time Travel, and Other Challenges

It’s interesting where certain trains of thought can take you. A particularly interesting one came to me last night: I was lost, freezing off certain extremities and walking all over Lincoln Park looking for the bar where my friend was having his birthday. It occurred to me that Time Travel could solve this predicament. Now, let me preface this by saying that there are a lot of good reasons to not invent time travel. For instance, all time-travel movies predating invention would become cheesy once they have to measure up to the real thing, and every time you tried to watch them some nerd would spend the whole movie critiquing its inaccuracies and basically ruin the whole thing. On top of that, all time-travel movies created after invention would be either non-fiction/documentary and really boring, or they’d for cinematic effect exaggerate time travel to bombastic heights only to be ruined by nerds criticizing them for being unrealistic.

There are also plenty of good reasons to invent it anyway. One of those could be the complete elimination of winter birthdays and thus nullification of discomfort to certain extremities. How, you ask? Well, had I a time machine, I could delay by a few months a certain ‘twinkle’ from appearing in a certain ‘dad’s eye.’ The specifics would definitely be complicated, but at least my friend’s birthday would safely be in the Spring. That’s only if my time meddling doesn’t somehow go awry and cause a global atomic conflagration, plunging the world into nuclear winter. That would, ironically, make all birthdays winter birthdays. With all days thus being cold, it at least would force people, once they could no longer blame the cold, to come up with more creative excuses like “I’m taking care of my mutant sister” or “I can’t, I’m expected in the Thunderdome that day.”

However, no matter how relatively favorable a birthday becomes after such time meddling, there is one birthday rule that will remain constant. When you turn 21, you have a party at a bar with everyone you know, plus some people you don’t know who say they’re with your party to get an open bar wristband at the door. At 22, the strangers no longer attend, and some friends have other, perhaps college-graduation-related things, to do. At 23, and every year after until you turn 29, the number of people who come to your birthday decreases exponentially; at 29 there is mathematically less than one person attending your birthday, meaning you forget to celebrate it and let it pass without notice. After 21, it just gets harder and harder to be enthusiastic about aging. Next year, I can expect probably two people and my brother’s dog to come to my party, and I can’t guarantee they all will have a good time. Luckily everyone, including you, cares about turning 30, as 30 is realistically the last year you can be considered ‘young’ and you have one last chance to act accordingly. So for birthdays 22-29, having expectations for anything other than, say, board games and tepid conversation may be a stretch, but you can take solace in the fact that everyone else’s birthdays in that period will probably be equally lame.

2012 Challenge: Reading 100 Books Before an Overwhelming Number of People Act Like the World is Ending and Bring Society, and thus the Library, Grinding to a Halt (Reading 100 Books in 2012)

The last time I took on a reading challenge, it was not by choice. I was in 8th grade, and we were supposed to read as many books as we could during the year. Our teacher kept track of the number of books we read on a chart in the back of the classroom so we could measure up against our classmates. I confidently chose J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Silmarillion” as my first book, which if you don’t know is basically the complete history, mythology, and genealogy of the “Lord of the Rings” setting. I thought it would be awesome, and I thought wrong. Somehow, reading about the ancestors of every single Elf in Middle Earth turned out to be boring, and from every reading session I retained nothing. Yet I was stubbornly set on finishing this book and soldiered on. 3-4 months later and I had no stickers on the chart. Everyone else had at least like 6. The kids who used to knock me for trying hard now knocked me for being dumb. Never before or since have I been a negative statistical outlier; never had I been graphically, statistically represented as a dunce. After somehow reading half of it, I gave up on The Silmarillion and read other books; sadly, the gap would never be closed and I finished last.

I’ve decided today that I will redeem myself by reading 100 books this year. I’ve seen other bloggers taking on this challenge and I can think of no better form of redemption. I’ve read two already, which puts me about 15 books behind according to Goodreads. I’ll be posting reviews and impressions as I go, which may or may not be written before I read the book, whether or not I actually read the book, and/or be completely plagiarized. Feel free to follow along as Goodreads tracks my progress over on the right there.

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Adventures on the Internet

So today I decided to check out one of those random chat websites, I can’t decide whether this was a good or bad decision. On the one hand, I spent hours and hours on it only to confirm that internet chat has not evolved since the advent of AOL back in like ’93. On the other hand, I think I made some strangers laugh, so it wasn’t all for naught. On the other other hand, it showed the dire state of historical and political knowledge among the users of that site, and thus probably the under-25 population in general, much to my dismay.

I found this out by using the “Spy Mode,” whereby one person poses a question and watches two strangers discuss it. I chose a very simple question: “Margaret Thatcher or Angela Merkel?” I didn’t think anyone would have a problem with this. For one thing, if you don’t have opinions about the two most powerful women since Catherine the Great, you should probably form them; for another, the terms of the comparison are left ambiguous, meaning they could be evaluated on anything from political acumen to overall hotness, or any combination thereof. Boy was I wrong. The discussions that arose fell into two categories; the chatting strangers either admitted ignorance of one or both of them and quit, or they traded obscenities until they got bored and left. And so I learned the hard way that people go on random chat sites for purposes far different from discussing influential female Heads of State.

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What People Really Use Siri For

So these commercials for the iPhone S have been all over the place. They show people making positive and productive use of the Siri voice-recognition technology. Something about the ads just doesn’t strike me as real. If they showed what people are really using it for, it would look something like this:

iPhone User: “Siri, who is the fairest iPhone user of all?”

iPhone User: “Siri, what are the penalties for tax evasion?”

iPhone User: “Siri, are these the droids I’m looking for?”

iPU: “Siri, add John to the shit list.”

iPU: “Siri, please tell the officer I was NOT drunking drive”

iPU: “Siri, find me a lawyer”

iPU: “Siri, change your voice to Christopher Walken”

iPU: “Siri, what countries do not extradite to the US?”

iPU: “Siri, am I in the Matrix?”

iPU: “Siri, activate gaydar”

iPU: “Siri, does this make me look fat?”

iPU: “Siri, find me a good Polish joke”

iPU: “Siri, get me the prefix code to that jerk John’s iPhone”

iPU at a party: “Siri, give me an indie band reference, I’m dying out here!”

iPU: “Siri, from now on refer to my ex as ‘The Beast'”

iPU: “Siri, activate self destruct”

iPU: “Siri, spell ‘I cup'”

iPU: “Siri, tell me everything you know about SkyNet, OR ELSE…”

I don’t have an iPhone S, or even a smartphone, but if I did I know I’d probably be saying a lot of the above to poor old Siri, and I imagine others do too…