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Tales of a Post-Grad Nothing

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Awkward Things I Say to Girls

I hate making friends. Hate it. Hate it with every cell in my sensually toned yet surprisingly supple body (I'm pretty sure I read that phrase once while flipping through this book that I found on a shelf in this girl's house). I hate making friends because the process of meeting someone and awkwardly trying to gauge their awesome-itude level is kind of like dating, but without the possibility of a good old fashioned PG-rated makeout session at the end. Unless you happen to have badass coworkers, connecting with new people as an adult is tricky, making the times when lightening does strike feel like this:


only, you know, way less creepy.

Last week I was at a used book store...not just any used book store mind you...THE used book store in Richmond, perusing the shelves when out of nowhere a girl struck up a conversation with me about a Kurt Loder book I had in my hand. We talked about music journalism and how Chuck Klosterman would so kick Kurt Loder's (and everyone else's) ass in a write-off. She kept making all of these relatively obscure book and movie references and every time she did, I'd make one back and I could tell that we were both giving each other the mental thumbs up, which looks something like this:

I have no idea why I look like I'm about to suckle the camera in this picture.

While waiting in line to pay for our respective books, my new bookstore BFF asked for my card, which is basically the grown-up equivalent of making someone a friendship bracelet at camp. Everything was awesome until we started to talk about things we hate (which included people who say 'beep beep' when they pass you on the sidewalk, real estate agent hair, rogue polyps, and Matthew McConaughey). All of a sudden, out of nowhere, she says with a completely straight face, "What I really hate sarcasm. I don't understand it and I think that people hide behind it."

I really had no idea what to say. Sarcasm is truly my preferred method of communication. Telling someone as asinine as myself that you hate sarcasm is like telling a quadriplegic that you have an aversion to stumpy things. I've never even heard of someone genuinely disliking sarcasm, much less admitting to that in a public place. I honestly didn't think that people like that existed. Semi-flabbergasted, I had no idea what to say in response so I said the very first thing that came to mind.

"Are you a unicorn?"

Dead silence ensued and we walked out as if we had never met.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

In Chicago for the weekend children. Behave yourselves and if you have any suggestions for The Windy City, leave them below. Thanks!

--The Management

Do You Love a Good Overcoming Adversity Story Mixed With SynthPop? So Do I.

Put simply, Shawn Decker is a badass. Not like a gun-totin', outlaw badass a la Jack Bauer or Clint Eastwood or The Bride...a badass in the truest and most humble sense. The category of badass that also holds people like Lance Armstrong and Cupcake Brown and Julia Sweeney:

People who have overcome odds so great AND managed to do so with a sense of perspective and humor that it makes them objectively better humans than the rest of the population. Uber-humans.

No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER be as good as an uber-human. I was friends with an uber-human once and every time I'd say something like "man, I think I'm coming down with a cold" or "I'm really frustrated with my job/life/finances/thighs/backne," he would simply say "Yeah, that sucks. You know what else sucks? That time I got stabbed." Shawn Decker, on the other hand, seems to use his uber-humanhood for good rather than lording purposes.

A hemophiliac from birth, Decker was diagnosed with HIV at age 11 (the result of a bad blood transfusion) and promptly expelled from public school in Waynesboro, VA (but was later let back in). He contended with both the health and social implications of the disease and went on to found Mypetvirus.com, a blog about living with HIV, back before blogs were popular enough to be person of the year. He met Al Gore, Depeche Mode, and Ric Flair, married an HIV educator, has spoken to over 50,000 college students about living with the disease, told Kenneth Cole that he wouldn't have simulated sex with his wife (Decker's, not Cole's) in a store window, and wrote a book that I loved (and so did Augusten Burroughs). So when I heard that said author also plays in an 80's synthpop, Depeche Mode-style band AND that he would be performing in a goth club located in a strip mall in a nearby town, it was like the gods of all things bizarre were sending rays of hope directly to me.

I learned the following facts from seeing Synthetic Division in all of its industrial-sounding glory:

* One shouldn't wear argyle to a goth show. This lesson was learned the hard way.

* Synthpop sounds like music that would be played at a prom in outer space.

* In synthpop groups, not all band members actually have to play instruments on stage. Some can pre-record their music and then just kind of jam along as long as they're wearing way futuristic sunglasses:


* Strobe lights make everyone look cool. I think they're the adult equivalent of holding a flashlight under your face while telling a scary story.

* Small towns like Charlottesville, VA don't have a big enough population to constitute a full-on goth subculture. Of the 40 or so people there, maybe 25 were authentically goth and the rest were raver kids, gay high school kids, punk kids, or just general outcasts. I'm pretty sure I saw at least two kids who simply fell in the category of "fat kids in black t-shirts." It was like a secret meeting of people society hates/ignores. I wanted to high five everyone there.

* If you cross your fingers hard enough, you can win the goth club raffle and walk away with two CDs that feature intimidating fonts and winged boys in mascara.

I'm pretty sure I was the only person who showed up with a book to be signed, but it didn't matter. After chatting with me about books and t-cells, Decker wrote "Geeks Rule" on the first page and for a few minutes, I felt like I did.

Monday, January 22, 2007

While looking up a band on Myspace, this ad (click for larger view):


invited me to "TICKLE THE FAT KID (Til He Laughs Hard!) AND Get an IPod or Accessories." If you click on the ad, your cursor becomes a feather and I guess you're expected to give this unfortunately portly child who's sweating like some sort of farm animal while wearing a sweatshirt that says "I Heart Cake" a creepy feathery rubdown (Til He Laughs Hard!)?!?!?! I have a feeling that whoever came up with this ad probably listens to a lot of 311 and cries himself to sleep at night because high school really was the best years of his life.

Friday, January 19, 2007

This Is Why I Love the Internet

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from Agent Kaye from Improv Everywhere about the Pantless Subway Ride 2K7. Agent Kaye is featured here smothered and covered with a thick coating of awesome sauce instead of pants in the New York subway:

Photo Credit: Chad Nicholson Photography

Not to give away insider secrets, but from what I understand, agents not only got to ride the rails without cumbersome pants, a few ALSO got accused of being murderers and child molesters. Nice.

Knowing that there's not one, but literally hundreds of people driven to drop trou in public or stage the nerdiest protest in the history of the universe for no reason other than it would make people laugh warms my robot heart to it's tiny adamantium core. I see that kind of large-scale delightful ridiculousness and think "THIS is why I moved back from France." Thanks for getting a 5 on the AP Kickassery exam Agent Kaye and Improv Everywhere. You people make me proud to call here home.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Guest Post!

Back before North Korea had nukes and Britney Spears was all showing her va-jay-jay all over the place, back when men were men and women were women and families knew what was right and we weren't concerned with pussy things like global warming and E. Coli, Brandon Rogers (this Brandon Rogers, the one who also writes here, not this one or this one) wrote a pretty fantastic blog that I would read with a stalker-esque tenacity. But then he stopped writing it because he:

* Hates freedom
* Makes Baby Jesus cry
* Wants the terrorists to know that they've truly won
* Is determined to 'waste my flava'
* Had "better" things to do

Now he just posts on other people's blogs and luckily I got a slice of the Brando pie. Eat up.

------------------------------------

GUEST POST No 5
By: Brandon Rogers

Couch and I go waaay back, and she is still the only girl to ever call me from France AND get me drunk VIA U.S. mail (SWOON).

She also probably writes the most underrated comedy blog on the net, but you know, it's not like being an overrated blog gets you anything other than a reason to investigate your state's restraining order provisions.

Couch and I are both writers, and I can finally say that without laughing, because seriously, we are like so published, with our names and everything, and we occasionally send each other work, presumably so that we can make fun of the same editors.

Couch reminds me of a time in my life when there were only two certainties: either you join in the singing of Devil Went Down to Georgia or you get your ass beat down.

Unfortunately, when we met via the internet, we were both involved in other relationships, otherwise I'm sure we would be fighting over custody of some obscure south american bush mammal that neither of us really cares for. So instead, I'll tell an awkward story about the son I had in the meantime, because you know, it's not like people can just wait around indefinitely without reproducing because their planets have yet to align. If only there had been fewer planets in 2002. Sigh.

But first, here are some writing prompts that I DIDN'T pursue when Couch allowed me to guest post:

  • I'm still trying to figure out a way to use my atari joystick to my laptop as a mouse, not because of it's functionality, but because the purchase of our 2600 coincided with the change in my opinion of women's breasts from food source to reason for shameful silence and 'alone time.'
  • The internet isn’t slow. You’re just really fast.
  • I find I have less tolerance than I should for my neighbor blaming Calvin Klein for her esteem and body issues. I miss the days when we could blame the Soviet Union or our parents or thalidimide for our shortcomings.
  • That's when he said, 'Do you know why the right nostril is usually larger than the left? Because a man's right hand is usually larger than the left.' Some dots you leave unconnected.
And a snippet from the last email I sent her:

"They said they liked my last article which tells me one thing: THEY DON'T READ SUBMISSIONS. Seriously, I'm putting in some sort of obvious code. Like the first word from each sentence in the first paragraph will read 'COLLEGE DAYS ARE SMOOTH LIKE THE PEARLS DRIPPING ON MY WHORE'S NECK DAMN MONEY SHOT WORD.'"

And now, here's the rest of my story:

AHEM

It was a dark and hoary night, and my son was full of query and a recent fruit loop dinner. He asked, 'How long can a person hold his breath?' And I said, 'Until he passes out.' And he asked, 'But won't you die?' and I thought maybe he asked this because of the inherent fear of abandonment that runs in my family, but then I caught his meaning and laughed, because condescension is a good way of convincing children you know the answer. So he asked more specifically, 'What is the longest someone has held his breath IN HISTORY?' and I turned on the computer because the Internet is a likewise good way of convincing children you know the answer, and I said, '8 minutes and 58 seconds,' and so he said, 'Time me!' and I half-heartedly looked at the oven clock which read 4:58 and said 'GO' and when he finally exhaled blue in the face he said, 'How long was that?' and I looked at the oven clock which read 4:58, and said, 'Three minutes.'

So he decided to show off his new superpower at school the next day and after 10 consecutive demonstrations of SUPER BREATH HOLD he hyperventilated himself into full-blown panic mode and the school nurse called my mother-in-law whose only English phrase thus far is 'PLEASE TO RUB CORN OIL ON MY HAMHOCKS' or something to that effect.

I found the situation much more amusing than my wife, who chastised me for my parental shortcomings:

LEAVE OFFSPRING ALONE! DO NOT PLAY WITH THEIR LEETLE, FRAGILE MINDS! DON'T BE PLAYER!

Please, I said. There's only one PLAYER, and that's the Top New Singles Artist of 1978 immortalized by their insta-classic 'Baby Come Back,' with Ronn Moss on bass, he of Ridge Forrester fame on t
he CBS soap EMPIRE The Bold and the Beautiful.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Children of Men is one of the most beautifully directed films I've ever seen. Alfonso Cuaron should be elected Mayor of the Universe.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Improv Everywhere's 6th annual No Pants Subway Ride kicks off today (last year's is documented in all of its pants free glory here). Dear God I wish I lived in New York.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Fun Fact

This web site is currently #7 when Google searching "Sweaty Butthole Pleasures." Klassy.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dear Friends:

Do you love martinis? Do you love freakishly beefy arms? Do you love film soundtracks that feature works by Twista? If, like me, you love all of the above, check it - I just finished a big project at work and I would like to celebrate by seeing this gem of a film at some point this weekend. In case the trailer didn't convince you the first time, let me remind you that the film actually includes the line "being in a fraternity is about more than just steppin." If you need more convincing than that, we shouldn't be friends. I'm thinking of girly martinis beforehand then seeing some film history in the making. If down, shoot me an e-mail.

Your pal,

Chris

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Inexcusably Late New Years Wrap Up

A friend of mine eloquently dubbed 2006 my "year of suck." That's not too far off. I wouldn't call 2006 the official worst year of my life, but it easily wins a spot in the top three. Though there were some awesome things that happened in Ought 6, the year had an unusually high number of devastatingly sad things I had absolutely no control over. Not to throw a pity party, but I think that when you deal with big issues like a massive breakup that wasn't your call or the unexpected death of a friend, it becomes very easy to spend your days being asinine and broody and doing nothing but eating yogurt on your couch while listening to sad music in your pajamas which by the by you haven't changed out of yet despite the fact that it's 5:30PM and you smell like a 6th grade gym class (don't judge me!).

[Sidenote: Top three albums to brood to can be found here, here, and here. The last one is especially conducive to a good, hard brood because it's gorgeous and the some of the songs are like 7 minutes long, giving you time to work yourself into a good broody lather before the song changes over.]

[Sidenote #2: Broody Lathers is a great old lady name. A woman with a name like Broody Lathers would probably have moxie and a lot of hats.]

The upside to having an unusually bad year is that it makes New Year's Eve a most anticipated event, so anticipated in fact that it doesn't matter what you're doing or who you're with or even that you have a good time, so long as it happens and the previous year officially ends. Well the previous year did officially end (!) AND as a bonus, my New Year's Eve was the perfect kiss goodbye to the emotional hellbus that was 2006.

There was a delicious dinner and Wii games (accompanied by a few inappropriate victory dances) and champagne toasts to everything from grandmothers to Spiro Agnew. There were Sprite Bombs:


which we 'hard thew to the groud' [sic] as directed and creepy-ass elf-themed tattoos:

and kittens named after prominent historical figures:

(Seriously, the cat's name is E. Lee...after the Robert. I would say that E. Lee's owners are the nerdiest people I know, but in all seriousness 50% of the people I've dated own memorabilia signed by George Tekai, so I have no room to talk).

Nothing outstanding or noteworthy happened on New Year's, but it's hard not to be hopeful about the future when surrounded by delightful people and their geekily-named pets. Cheers to 2007.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Today I spent the morning in the sun, sipping lemonade from atop a picnic table with my dog. I spent all afternoon researching gameboy rock then headed to my mother's house where we spent the evening telling each other secrets over vermicelli and Law and Order SVU. Tonight my nephew came over and there was copious amounts of V. Mars in the house along with wine from a jug and snaps that end in "like your face?" It was the life equivalent of a giant deep breath out. This was one of the best Saturdays ever.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sweet Retribution

I knew before I even clicked 'publish' that the last post was going to come back to bite me. I knew it from the bottom of my robot heart, but I did it anyway because I apparently have no regard for the laws of karma. Not 24 hours after ragging on someone for being drunk and socially inept, I was in a Starbucks of all places, commemorating the death of Gerald Ford the right way by imbibing green tea and reading back issues of Wired (nerd alert!). A ridiculously good looking kid walked in (hellllooooooo glasses, helllooooooooo facial scruff, hellloooooooo t-shirt of pseudo-obscure band I love, melt my heart into 1,000 pathetic pieces), ordered coffee, and took a seat near a group of other kids, but facing away from them as if he wasn't with them. He sat down, pulled out a Sarah Vowell book, and when I realized that he was reading someone who I have, like, the most enormous girl crush ever on, I let out a slight giggle, causing him to accidentally make eye contact with me. I'm not the kind of person who's entirely comfortable with looking severe hotties directly in the eye (it's like looking at the sun), so I immediately turned bright red, sunk down in my chair, and buried my nose in the book I was reading. At that point, one of the kids sitting behind him leaned over and said, "dude, that girl over there totally just eye fucked the shit out of you."

You should probably read that phrase slowly and out loud to get the full effect: "Eye fucked the shit out of you." I don't think I've ever heard anything so crude in my life. What exactly is the proper protocol when being accused of 'eye fucking?' I didn't feel like it was appropriate to go over and explain that no, no, it wasn't intended as a full-on 'eye fucking' (just typing that phrase gives me shudders), but rather a friendly eye-cuddle, eye-spooning at best, but certainly nothing as tawdry as eye intercourse. I just turned a deeper shade of red and sank further into my seat. The kid kept going "Check it out, the girl in green, she's all embarrassed and shit." And I was 'all embarrassed and shit,' so I closed my book, grabbed my tea, and on my beeline to the door, almost ran into the green-jacketed girl sitting behind me, the one blushing so hard her face was nearly purple. It wasn't until I got outside that I realized, I'm wearing gray and he was talking about the eye fucker behind me.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Open Letter

Dear Creepy Drunk Guy Who Insisted on Coming Over to My Table While I Was Editing Things:

First off, thanks for hitting on me. I get hit on fairly rarely and frankly, when it does happen, it makes me feel like this. While the idea was good in theory, the execution, unfortunately, was not so good. I'm saying this specifically because my interactions with people are typically awful (e.g. here, here, here, ad infinitum). I believe that by helping fellow awkward kids out, we can both become more socially graceful people. Here are some things you really didn't need to say:

* "My friends and I figure, you're what? 19? I'm 28. We should go out."
* "I've been drunk for three days now. I guess you could say I'm on a bender."
* "I'm 28. I have three years of college to go. I just can't seem to pass my freshman year."
* "Do you think I'll be able to get a job after I graduate? Because, you know, that would be cool and stuff."
* "Do you want to go to a movie with me sometime? No? Do you want to just make out instead?"
* "Closer was one of the best movies I've ever seen."

I can forgive everything except for that last line. There's simply no excuse for that one.

Through the incredibly uncomfortable conversation you and I had as well as the equally uncomfortable conversations I had with your friends who also came to my table to vouch for your niceness AND the uber-slimey hug you insisted on giving me as I left, I realized that my own awkwardness probably isn't as bad as I think. Here's to you Creepy Drunk Guy. May you make every woman feel so good about herself.

XO,

---Chris---