Who’s Jeff? Oh That’s Right – I’m Jeff!


Maybe I’m romantic about everything, but online dating reminds me of a Jane Austen book.  It’s all about sending and receiving letters and trying to interpret them, although today we’re more cynical, so none of the email exchanges remotely resemble the type of love letters Wentworth sent to Anne Elliot in Persuasion.  It’s more like dipping your toe in the water to see how hot or cold or desperate it is.  You ask the person about their job, what they like to do, where they are in the profile pic – it’s all very hesitant.  In reality there are so many more pressing things to ask about.  Like if the person has somebody tied up in the basement, or if that profile pic was taken 10 years and 30 pounds ago, or, really, if that person is ever going to take the plunge into the pool and agree to meet up with you.

Or maybe that’s just me and I’m doing everything wrong.  One time I asked a friend what he said in messages he’d send to women on his online dating site.  He thought for a minute and said, “Hmm…I usually say something about the profile and small talk.  But sometimes I go for it and say ‘You’re fucking hot.  I want to meet up with you this weekend.’”  Apparently both had similar success rates.  I would never be able to say anything so forward.  I was brought up with old fashioned values.  I’m the type of guy who likes to ask a father’s permission before I email his daughter a picture of my penis.  That’s the kind of respect I have for people.  When I purchase prostitutes, I demand we go out for dinner and a movie first.  I treat my ladies right.  And trust me, nothing gets a hooker in the mood like Denny’s and a little Nora Ephron.

Anyways, I digress.  The online thing is going okay.  I’ve had a couple dates with one woman, and they’ve gone pretty well (Can they be called ‘dates’?  She might disagree.  For a compromise, how about I call them ‘dates’ and she can call them something else.).  Nothing serious of course, no expectations.  Keeping my options open.  Got a few other blossoming relationships going that are still in the email stage.  I have to say, with the whole online thing, my comprehension of the ‘base system’ is all out of whack; I used to think a kiss was first base, but now, to me, getting to first base means she’s accepted my request on Skype.

Second base?  Switching from chat to a video call.

Online dating also allows a person to have some fun situations that otherwise probably wouldn’t happen.  For instance, there’s one girl that’s been interested enough to reply to my messages quite a few times.  I shot her a message on Sunday, just asking her how her weekend was.  She replied with this: “Good, thanks!  How are you, Jeff?”

Jeff?  Who the fuck is Jeff?  Had she seriously confused me with some other dude?  At first I was a bit taken aback, having been called some other guy’s name.  How should I respond?  I figured it would be awkward to correct her or even point out her slip up.  Maybe the best thing would be to send a normal reply and say something subtle to quietly point out the mistake.  “My weekend was great.  Sincerely, Not Jeff.”

Then, after a few minutes of deliberation, I decided to go with this: “Hey.  My weekend was pretty good.  Hung out with friends.  If you have the time this week, would you like to meet up for coffee?”

That’s right – I went a whole different route with it.  I figured that maybe this Jeff guy is doing a lot better than I am, and I could use the confusion to my advantage.  I mean, if she said ‘no,’ really she meant to reject Jeff, so there would be no need to feel bad about it.  And if she accepted…well, I could play along and pretend I’m Jeff.  I have no problem with that.

“Oh Jeff!” she’d say.  “I loved your profile.  You’re such an interesting person!”

“Yeah!  Don’t I know it!  But let’s not talk about any of that interesting personal stuff.  Do you like kim bap?”

So things are going well.  Even if I’m not getting anywhere with the ladies, at least I’m honing my letter writing skills.  Like I’m Mr. Darcy.  Mr. Jeff Darcy.  Actually, I’ve never read anything by Jane Austen.  I’ve only seen the movie version of Sense and Sensibility once.  I liked it, but the hooker was a little bored.


And the Award for Worst Party Host Ever Goes To ME!!!


It was pitch black when I woke up.  Where was I?  It took my mind a moment to figure things out.  I was in my bed.  That was good, but I couldn’t remember anything from the Oscar party the night before.  Questions swirled around in my skull.  What was that smell?  Where did my girlfriend go?  Was she on the couch?  Had she left me?

And, maybe most importantly, what won best picture?


I had always dreamed of hosting an Oscar party.  For years I’d forced my friends to watch Hollywood’s biggest award show with me, and although they never really cared much at first, it always seemed like they’d get into it and everyone would be having fun by the end.  Yeah, so what if it features a ton of awards nobody cares about and the show is about as long as the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy?  If my roommate, T-Nuts, could have a Super Bowl party, then dang it, I was having an Oscar party.  I’d get fancy hors d’oeuvres and a lot of wine and it would be a highly sophisticated event.  We’d all eat cheese and crackers and drink Pinot Noir and discuss our opinions of the Best Foreign Language Film nominees.

In theory, it was going to be a grand old time.  I was rooting for Return of the King to take Best Picture and I envisioned everybody clinking their glasses together when it took home the prize.  However, in practice, putting together a successful party for an event few people care about that takes place on a Sunday night isn’t as easy as it sounds.  My planning consisted of, basically, buying a lot of wine and inviting everyone I thought would come.  In other words, I invited Rant Machine and my girlfriend.

Golem would've been more fun than half the people at my Oscar party. And he sucks to be around!

As the red carpet preshow kicked off, it was just the four us – me, my girlfriend, T-Nuts, and Rant Machine.  That was the Oscar party.  Was it different from, say, what would be happening had I not decided to throw a party?  Absolutely not.  I’m not sure why I was disappointed that my party wasn’t larger considering I didn’t invite anybody else, but I was.  Billy Crystal came out onto the stage, cracking jokes, and I uncorked the first bottle of wine.

“Dude, I’m not drinking tonight,” T-Nuts said.

“What do you mean you’re not drinking?” I moaned.  “Come on man, Oscar party!  Have some wine!”

“Nah, I have to work tomorrow.  Early.”

“Me too, bro.  We’ll worry about that when the time comes.”

“I’ll have one glass,” my girlfriend said.  She lived in Buffalo, about an hour away, and was spending the night.  “I have to drive back to school in the morning and I don’t want to be hungover.”

Was I disappointed?  Not really.  Tim Robbins won for supporting actor and Renee Zellweger won supporting actress.  I like both of them.  I wished people were having more fun, though.  T-Nuts was falling asleep already on the futon and my girlfriend was just sitting there quietly.  Rant Machine and I were the only ones drinking, which meant half the party was lame.

A lot of red wine had been consumed by the time Blake Edwards received his honorary award.  I can vaguely remember him making his speech.  After that, everything goes black.  Completely black.


“I’m going to be late,” I told my boss on the phone.  “My car won’t start.”

In truth, I couldn’t stop throwing up.  I’d had bad hangovers before, sure, but this one was the worst.  My bed was covered in regurgitated hors d’oeuvres.  I had slept in it, as though I needed bits of shrimp cocktail to keep me warm in the night.  My head was pounding and I could barely move.  I still didn’t know what happened to my girlfriend or what won Best Picture.

Somehow I was able to get myself to work.  I was an hour late.  “How’s your car?” my boss asked.  I nodded and gave the thumbs up.  Not five minutes later, I was hunched over a garbage can, throwing up in the middle of the workroom (this is before I was a teacher, when I worked for a nonprofit agency).  Two of my coworkers gathered around me.  I knew they were there…but had no real sense that they could hear or see me.  I felt delirious and I couldn’t lift my head.  Tears came out of my eyes.  To try and calm myself, I began rapping “Fire and Earth” by the X Clan.

“Brother Jay Brother Jay what you say?” I’d mumble, my coworkers laughing at me.  “What you say what you say Brother Jay?  What you say Brother Jay Brother Jay what you saaaaaay?”

After half an hour of this, my boss came in and told me to go home.  I stopped rapping and said I had a stomach bug.  “Whatever,” she said.  “We’ll have a talk about this tomorrow.”

Like the Oscar show itself, the vomiting was endless.  On my way home I had to pull off to the side of the road twice to throw up.  When I finally got back, I collapsed into the shrimp cocktail and slept until T-Nuts got home.  He stared at me and shook his head.

“Where’d my girlfriend go?” I asked.  “I don’t remember anything, man.”

“She went to Buffalo, my friend,” he said.  “You owe me.”

“Why do I owe you?”

“Because I went out and shoveled her damn car out of the snow so she could leave.”

“Jesus,” I said, “she must’ve been pretty upset, huh?”

“Um, yeah.  Have you looked out on the balcony?”


“Go look.”

I did.  Out on the balcony, I found my girlfriend’s pants, covered in dark red stains.

“You passed out with your head on her lap,” T-Nuts recounted.  “Like two minutes later you started puking up red wine all over her khakis.  It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Oh come on now, you’ve seen more disgusting things than that.”

“No.  No I have not.  It was like a whole damn bottle came out of you.  Her face…man, you should’ve seen her face.”

I exhaled.  The next day my boss would surely read me the riot act and, at the same time, I had my girlfriend’s pants here but not my girlfriend.



“Did Return of the King win?”

It was getting pretty cold out and we looked at my girlfriend’s khaki pants, soaked with red, sitting in the snow on our balcony.  “Yeah,” T-Nuts said.  “It won.”

I felt relieved.  Thank God, I thought, the Academy had gotten it right.


Yeah, I’m a Creep and I’m a Weirdo, But I Do Belong Here


Last Saturday, I met some friends up in Hongdae, the hip spot in Seoul where there’s lots of nightlife.  At around one in the morning, the girls wanted to go dancing.  The guys weren’t really all that interested in this, but like most guys do, we decided to follow along with what the girls wanted.  No one had a particular place in mind, and so we ended up stumbling into a joint called Club Naked.  I paid the $10 cover and descended the steps into my own personal hell.

Since it was Saturday, Club Naked was packed.  The place was filled with horny American military guys standing around, leering at everyone, and I felt sketched out.  There was more sexual frustration in that club than there is in most prisons.  In the bathroom, two guys got into a heated argument over which one was had the rights to a certain girl.  I told myself that once I left the restroom I would aggressively avoid any females; I’m smart enough to know that if I tried to talk to one, the chances of me getting my ass kicked would far exceed any chances of me getting a phone number (even a fake one).

We’d been there about twenty minutes.  My friends and I stood in a circle by the bathrooms.  No one was dancing and everyone looked miserable, weighed down by the overwhelming feeling that we were surrounded by people in serious heat.  I didn’t want to ruin the time, and so I tried my best to act like I was having a blast.  Pushing embarrassment aside, I moved my hips and sang along with the music blaring from the speakers: “Teach me how to dougie teach me teach me how to dougie!”

I suddenly had the feeling that I wouldn’t have to hit on someone’s chick to get my ass kicked.

Finally one of the girls spoke up.  “I want to leave,” she said.  “We don’t belong here.”  Truer words have never been spoken.  We absolutely didn’t belong in Club Naked.  Everyone nodded in agreement, put on their coats, and seconds later our posse was out the door.

But what she said got me thinking.  “We don’t belong here.”  I get that feeling a lot.  Being at certain locations, I feel like I’ve just walked into the middle of a foreign movie that doesn’t have any subtitles.  Lost and confused.  That’s life, though, and I’m cool with being an outsider occasionally.  It just means that I’m going to all the wrong places.  Where then, I’ve been asking myself lately, are the places where I do belong?  Where I’m comfortable and happy and perfectly at home?  I think everyone should have a short list of places where they connect with the world and here, after much thought, is mine:

Merry-Go-Round: That’s right, a merry-go-round.  I feel safe and content while going around in a circle on an old wooden horse.  Nothing soothes this guy’s soul like some looped circus music and a little simulated galloping.

Minor League Baseball Game: The half-empty stadium.  The cheap beer.  The players in their 30s.  Minor League baseball games are relaxing and laid back.  And I want to be there…which is more than most of the players can say.

Huey Lewis and the News Concert: When I was a kid, my neighbor scored some tickets to a Huey Lewis and the News concert and I remember being seriously blown away by this.  “THE Huey Lewis and the News?” I thought, my young mind reeling.  Twenty years later I finally got my chance to see the band responsible for Sports in concert myself.  It was a joyous experience.  There aren’t any hipster posers at a Huey Lewis show.  Seeing Huey Lewis doesn’t up anyone’s cool cred.  If I had a time machine (a la Back to the Future, a movie featuring the music of the News), I would go back in time to Huey’s performance of “Do You Believe In Love” that night…and maybe to the Renaissance too because that might be interesting as well.

Dive Bar on a Sunday: Not a Friday or Saturday.  Too busy.  Sunday is when the real drinkers take their seats.  Or, more accurately, fall off their seats.

Spencer Gifts: I love this store.  What exactly do they sell at Spencer’s?  Rock band posters, gag birthday cards, whoopee cushions and tons of funny sex stuff – is this what Spencer, the booming entrepreneur that he was, based his business around?  Spencer must’ve been an easily amused moron, and thank God for that!  I’ve wasted countless hours of my life enjoying the comedy oasis that is Spencer Gifts and I have no regrets (nor do I think I’ve ever actually purchased anything).

Pet Store: You don’t need to have a pet to enjoy the pet store.  Especially the mall pet store, where it’s always a thrill visiting the depressed little puppies in their cages (just don’t try to slip them Prozac – that’s frowned upon).  The mall pet store is like an orphanage for animals: there’s one bird that doesn’t make any noises, some fish, and maybe a couple chinchillas that are allowed to walk around the floor in a small enclosed circle with a 5 inch diameter.  Still, the pet store is the place for me.  It’s a wondrous world all to its own, where a zoo and Oliver Twist come seamlessly together.

The Bathroom in my Apartment: No explanation needed.  Or wanted.

Bam! – a fine list of places where I absolutely do belong.  See, there’s a place for all of us in this world.  So the next time you feel like you don’t belong, you can always join me at Spencer Gifts, where we can share a sense of inner and outer harmony while looking at the lava lamps.


Judging the Accuracy of High School Nerd Movies (As Only a Real Nerd Could Do)


High school was not a great time for me.  It was four years of humiliation, of getting harassed and rejected…and that was my home life.  At school it was even worse.  I was picked on and physically assaulted almost hourly, as though guidance counselors squeezed that into their students’ schedules.  “Fourth period I’ve put you in Geometry,” they would say, “with PE fifth period.  After that, I’ve got you spending sixth period hitting Bill Panara in the chest and making mean comments about his acne.”

It was nightmare.  I had exactly one girlfriend and that romance lasted all of a week.  We burned out fast, one might say.  Another might say she came to her senses.  Regardless, years have now passed and I’ve bloomed into the lovely flower I’ve always imagined myself being…commonly called the ‘wallflower.’  I get nervous around people and am still, at heart, the same socially awkward young man I was at 14.

Maybe due to some lingering bitterness, I’m strangely drawn to watching every movie about high school that pops up at theatres like a whitehead on my nose during 9th grade science class. Most of the time, I find them to be likeably dumb (take for instance Can’t Hardly Wait or Mean Girls), although in rare instances they transcend the genre and make for brilliant cinema, as in the cases of Donnie Darko or Election.  But I’ll leave the critiques to people like Roger Ebert and that annoyingly smarmy guy who replaced Gene Siskel.  This blog post is not about the quality of high school movies, but instead about the accuracy of high school movies that center around a geeky character.  As I alluded to earlier, being a 16-year-old misfit was my authentic experience; hence I feel I can gauge how accurately that is being portrayed on screen.  Watching a high school movie, for me, is somewhat akin to a WWII vet to sitting through Saving Private Ryan.  How good or bad the movie is becomes largely secondary to judging the realness of what’s going on.

Beginning with this year’s indie hit, Terri, here are my authenticity ratings of some modern nerd masterpieces.  Feel free to make your own ratings, but only if you’ve ever had to wear large glasses or glue a retainer to the roof of your mouth with denture cream.

Terri (2011) – The title character is a big fat kid who wears pajamas to school, is picked on (in an offscreen kind of way), and eventually develops a crush on the school slut.  The movie isn’t bad, but sadly it doesn’t rate highly on the authenticity scale.  First, the slutty girl – who in real life would be the most popular girl in her grade – is outcasted after letting some boy touch her in Home Economics class.  Heck, I know guys who touched themselves in class and got less flack for it.  Secondly, the movie yet again goes down the annoying path of having some very attractive young lady fall for the nerd because she sees the goodness of his heart.  Things don’t work like that in the real world, nor do I believe Terri would later burst into tears when she gets drunk and starts seducing him.  Why does the nerd always have super morals?  See, Terri only wants a good girl, one who doesn’t need a bottle of vodka before she strips off his enormous PJs and ravishes his amoeba-like body.  Cut the phony ethics, Terri, and be happy with what the screenwriters give you.  Authenticity Rating: 4 out of 10

Napoleon Dynamite – I’m not ashamed to say that I love this movie.  It’s really funny and it soothes my resentful, angry nerd soul.  I like that it gives no dimension to any of the characters besides the geeky heroes.  The jock guy barely even has lines – he simply looks like a jock guy and that’s good enough.  I also like that the girl who plays the love interest isn’t a knock out and that she and Napoleon Dynamite are too shy to ever do anything together.  Sure, the end hints that they’ll start dating, but it isn’t shoved down my throat.  The climatic dance is also brilliant, as Napoleon’s triumph is just the result of him continuing to be weird until he does something so odd it’s kind of terrible and kind of great.  It also adds accuracy that he seems miserable for most of the movie.  “Do chickens have large talons?”  Authenticity Rating: 8 out of 10.

American Pie – This one is kind of a classic, so it must be discussed.  The key difference with American Pie and other movies is that these characters aren’t really nerds – they’re in the pupa stage of becoming moronic frat boys.  I give the movie leeway because of that.  Plus, the main male character has sex with a pie and the main female character has sex with a flute.  Nothing much in the movie is sugarcoated besides, I guess, Jason Biggs’ penis.  Try saying that five times fast…no, don’t.  I don’t want your roommate wondering why you’re looking at a computer screen, obsessively repeating Jason’s Big Penis.  Authenticity Rating: 6 out of 10.

Welcome to the Dollhouse – The story of Dawn Weiner is almost too painful for me to watch.  Yeah, it’s funny.  It’s also incredibly mean-spirited and merciless.  In other words, it’s really accurate.  Authenticity Rating: 10 out of 10.

Superbad – I’ll start by saying that Superbad, as a movie, is better than Welcome to the Dollhouse.  That said, as accuracy goes, this one’s about as big a fantasy as Lord of the Rings or Spiderman 2 was.  Firstly, we have the doe-eyed babe who, inexplicably, is romantically interested in Jonah Hill.  I went to high school with guys who look like Jonah Hill.  You know who wants to date them?  Girls who look like Jonah Hill, that’s who.  Secondly, we’re again given the Noble Nerd, as Michael Cera refuses to go past first base with his drunken crush.  Lastly, and most importantly, not just any girl, but an attractive girl has sex with McLovin.  In reality, Golem has a better chance of scoring with Sam than McLovin would have with that redheaded girl.  I think the problem here is the same thing that happened with Terri.  In both cases, we have movies about nerds being made by people who never experienced nerdom themselves.  Terri is directed by Azazel Jacobs, the son of iconic avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs, and Superbad is written by Seth Rogan, who was on a nationally syndicated television series when he was 16 (Freaks and Geeks).  People give Seth Rogan a nerd pass because he’s chubby and Jewish; hey, when I was 16, my idea of a romantic evening was watching Red Shoe Diaries alone in the basement with the TV on mute.  I think Seth Rogan, in Hollywood and on a television program, was doing a little bit better than that.  At the very least, I’m guessing he had the volume on.  Authenticity Rating: 2 out of 10.

A great nerd movie doesn’t only capture the humorous aspects of nerdom, but the pain as well.  It remembers that real nerds don’t choose to be nerds – the most important thing to a real nerd isn’t who he is, but who he isn’t.


4 Neat Memories From The Philippines


If memories have teeth, then there are certain things that will be forever stuck in mine.  That’s kind of a gross analogy.  It was a poor attempt at saying that a person doesn’t really know the highpoints of any journey until a few weeks pass and that person can ask him or herself, “What the heck do I remember about the trip I just took?”  Say the person remembers nothing…well then, the trip wasn’t very exciting, was it? Or perhaps too much alcohol was consumed, or the person just has a really poor memory.  Hmm, perhaps.  I feel these are excellent points I’m raising.  Regardless, if my recent trip to the Philippines was, say, teeth in a mouth, below you will find the ones that stick out…in my memory…which is also like teeth.

1. Tarseirs: They’re Really Weird!

A tarsier is a tiny little animal that looks crazy.  Although often mistaken for a monkey it, like an ape or George W. Bush, is not, in fact, a monkey.  It’s actually the smallest primate known to man.  This may surprise you, as I’m sure you’ve always thought the world’s smallest primate was the Sea Monkey.  Sorry to disappoint you, but those are not really monkeys either – they’re shrimp.  Anyways, tarsiers are also the only fully carnivorous primate.  They eat insects, birds, and bats.  Birds, I imagine, must have terrible nightmares about being attacked and eaten by these fugly little non-monkeys.  Another interesting fact about tarsiers is that their eyes are the same size as their brains.  Liza Minnelli and E.T. are the only other mammals for which this is true.  There is no conclusive proof as to whether or not they also eat birds.

2. “Tinikling” Doesn’t Mean Taking a Pee

Quick story – so TTD and I were on this neat river cruise going through the forest in Bohol, when the boat suddenly docked in the middle of the river and we were told that there would be a short break in the cruise.  There, sitting on the dock, were about thirty or forty peasants.  I know that’s kind of a derogatory word – peasant – but I don’t know how else to describe them (prize to anyone who can give me a decent synonym).  At first I was displeased.  “Crap,” I said to TTD, “what is this?”  She pointed out that they all had instruments.  “I think they’re gonna perform for us,” she said.  And perform they did.  They sat in a big semi-circle and began singing and playing their guitars.  The next thing I knew, we were down on the dock, holding guitars and sitting in the semi-circle with them.  It was actually a really wonderful moment and as I looked around, I was overwhelmed by how beautiful and filled with life they were.  I mean, here were a bunch of people living in poverty, and they smiled and sang with such joy.  While I was getting choked up, some long sticks were brought out and they began ‘tinikling.’  This is a dance where two people kneel at the ends of the sticks, making them move, and a third person sort of hops around in the middle, trying not to get his or her foot whacked.  It’s sort of like how they’d shoot at someone’s feet in the old west, only this is with sticks.  Everyone clapped and laughed, and when the women in the semi-circle started playing “Bye Bye Love” by the Everly Brotherse, well, I don’t think I’ve ever felt such an intense love for mankind as I did right then.  It was a great moment.

3. Immaculate Conception Church: Just as Good Now as it was in 1595

I dig old churches, and so I was really blown away by The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon.  It’s one of the oldest churches in the Philippines; the church was first built in 1595 by Spanish missionaries (it was finished in 1727).  I’ve seen old churches before, but this one was a knock-out.  It’s got all the things that make religion powerful and bewildering and kind of creepy (photos and words don’t do it justice).  For instance, in one of the buildings, there was a huge glass coffin with a life-sized wooden Jesus inside.  The coffin was adorned with all sorts of things and Jesus was just sort of chilling out in there, kind of like Nathan at the end of the first season of Misfits.  I told a friend about this when I got back, and she said, “Why is Jesus in a coffin?  Don’t they know he rose?”  It was a good question.  “Maybe they got bummed out and stopped reading after the crucifixion,” I said, guessing.  “The church might not know about the whole twist ending with the rising.”  I liked the idea that the Spanish missionaries never, for whatever reason, read the end of The Bible.  That they skimmed over it or got bored or depressed.  Hey, they were busy.  I learned later that they first built the church with stones that they carried inland from the sea.  I work an 8 hour workday, so I can relate to always being too tired to read.

4. Rizal Shrine: There’s A Lot You Can Learn From Moths

Jose Rizal was a writer, an artist, and a leader in the movement for Philippine independence.  He was captured and executed by the Spanish.  Luckily he was able to sneak his last writings out of his prison before he was killed; a guard passed his manuscript to his family inside an oil lamp.  Today, in the Intramuros district in Manila, visitors can learn a lot about Rizal and even walk, via footprints set in the ground, the steps he did leading to his death by firing squad.  For me, it was a unique and informative experience, as I hadn’t heard of Rizal before.  What moved me the most was an excerpt from his writing, put on one of the walls of his shrine.  To close this brilliant blog entry, I thought I’d share Rizal’s words, which are moving and sad, poetic and knowing:

“My mother began to read to me the fable of the young and the old moths, translating it to me piece by piece into Tagalog.  At the first verses my attention redoubled in such a way that I looked towards the light and fixed my attention on the moths that fluttered around it.  The story could not have been more opportune.  My mother emphasized and commented a great deal on the warnings of the old moth and directed them to me as if to tell me that these applied to me.  I listened to her and what a rare phenomenon the light seemed to me more beautiful each time, the flame brighter, and I even envied instinctively the fate of those insects that played so cheerfully in its magical exhalation.  Those that had succumbed were drowned in the oil; they didn’t frighten me.  My mother continued her reading, I listened anxiously, and the fate of the two insects interested me intensely.  The light agitated its golden tongue on one side, a singed moth in one of these movements fell into the oil, clapped its wings for sometime and died.  That assumed for me that the flame and the moths were moving far away, very far, and that my mother’s voice acquired a strange, sepulchral timbre.  

My mother finished the fable.  I was not listening; all my attention, all my mind and all my thoughts were concentrated on the fate of that moth, young, dead, full of illusions.”


It’s Magic – Poof! No Date!


Ever since his “Street Magic” special, I’ve wanted really badly to be David Blaine.  He’s a cool cat.  When I say I want to ‘be him,’ I don’t just mean that I want to do cool magic tricks.  Oh no.  I also want to look like him and speak in a monotone.  I want the whole Blaine package.  He’s got this cool mystic thing going on that I admire.  And he’s practical.  He doesn’t saw women in half or make the Statue of Liberty disappear.  He bites quarters and does card tricks and hangs out with Leo DiCaprio.  I appreciate those things.  So do women.

I don’t have any pictures of me trapped in a big block of ice or buried alive; if I did I would’ve used one for my profile picture on the dating site I just signed up for.  As is, I didn’t know what to use for my profile pic.  After deliberating for a few seconds, I decided to go with a photo of me and a donkey (you can see it yourself if you scroll back a few posts!).  It’s not a great picture, but I didn’t have anything better.  I hoped no one would mistake the donkey for an ex-girlfriend, although, truth be told, some of the girls I’ve been with in the past make the donkey look like Megan Fox.  Anyways, I browsed the singles in my area and sent out a few messages.  One was to “May,” who stood out from the rest.  This one fit all my dating criteria.  In other words, she wasn’t overweight.

To my shock, May sent a message back.  “Hi Don Quixote,” it said.  “You look like a devious little boy in your picture.  I love a donkey.”

She loves a donkey?!?  I couldn’t believe it.  Could the donkey picture be just the thing my love life needed?  May and I exchanged a few messages and then she sent me her phone number.  She said she wanted to meet up for coffee.  I was pumped.  And not because I love coffee.

The next day was Valentine’s Day but I texted anyways.  She said she was at work and to contact her later, which I did.  I felt good, confident.  I waited for a reply.  A good amount of time passed.  Suddenly, it was after ten o’clock at night and I still hadn’t heard back.  Finally I got a response:  “I am watching magic show.  My phone is out of battery.”

It was a perplexing message.  A magic show?  What was she doing at a magic show?  Who was she with?  I had the feeling that it had to be a date.  I mean, a person doesn’t go to a magic show alone on Valentine’s Day.  I pictured May and some loser holding hands and feigning happiness while the magician did his thing.  The next day I texted her again.  She didn’t reply.

“Is this a Korean girl thing?” I asked C-Batz.  “Should I send another text?  I think she’s seeing someone.”

“You’re so fucking weird and paranoid,” C-Batz said.  “She went to a magic show.  What the fuck?  Chill out.  It doesn’t mean she’s dating someone.  What if you do meet up with her eventually?  Are you going to get all jealous and start asking her about all the magic shows she’s been to in her life?”

Maybe I would.  Maybe I would get flustered and upset if she ever brought up the topic of magic.  “Listen,” I’d say.  “I know it’s your past, but it still hurts to hear about it.”  Or perhaps I’d start getting suspicious and I’d go through her purse, looking for evidence of infidelity.  “Hey, I found this in your purse.  I think I deserve an explanation.”  And there I’d be,  standing in the bedroom doorway, holding something damning, like a deck of cards or a rabbit.

Romance is a bit like magic.  You have to kind of go with the flow, and they lose their appeal if you start picking away at everything.  Thinking too much about either sort of spoils things.

I guess I’ll try texting one more time and then give up.  If I don’t hear back I’ll assume, logically, that she was stolen away by David Blaine.  Or a guy with a better donkey.


Sidewalk Rage


The other day, I had the strange experience of walking down an escalator that was turned off.  If you’ve never done this, it’s much more interesting than it sounds.   Taking the first step, I expected the escalator to start moving, to begin its descent to the platform below.  It didn’t.  Instead, it stayed perfectly still like my ex during sex.  For some reason, the lack of motion combined with my expectation that the escalator should be moving caused me to experience a bizarre disorientation, sort of the same sensation I get from being on a swaying boat.  I wanted to get off the escalator as soon as possible.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this; there is a distinct way that things are meant to move and the escalator’s paralysis violated that.

I bring this up because lately I’ve had what I can only describe as “sidewalk rage.”  It’s like “road rage,” but it’s experienced by people walking down the sidewalk.  I’m super crabby at the moment and people walking down the sidewalk are pissing me off.  Just as an escalator is supposed to gently glide up or down, people walking down a sidewalk are supposed to move at a certain pace.  Life is like a hip-hop track – it has a beat.  There’s a rhythm to things, and the following people are disrupting it.  Below I’ve listed just a few of the folks who set off my sidewalk rage…if you should encounter them in the near future, be sure to express your disdain by cursing under your breath and rolling your eyes.

The Slow Walker: Got an hour to kill?  Apparently The Slow Walker does, or maybe he/she would move at a clip faster than a toddler crawling through rocks.  When encountered on the open sidewalk, The Slow Walker is only a minor inconvenience – walking around him/her isn’t a problem.  What makes The Slow Walker intolerable is the inability to adapt when walking on a busier street.  The Slow Walker will continue to mosey along, possibly talking on his/her cellphone, oblivious to your frenzied attempts to pass.  Like a zombie, The Slow Walker tends to sway in a zig-zag pattern, blocking off frustrated would-be-passers like an offensive lineman protecting a quarterback.  And the worst part is that The Slow Walker is sometimes an elderly person or a mother with her kid, which makes one (i.e. me) feel bad when moaning “fuckin’ move it!” in the safe confines of one’s own head.  Or, as often is the case, The Slow Walker is an attractive female in giant high heels, on her way to a date that she will very likely be late for because she, unlike me, can get away with being late for dates.

The Jason Voorhees:  It doesn’t matter how fast the oversexed blonde teen at summer camp runs, Jason Voorhees will always catch up.  And she knows this.  She constantly looks behind her and screams, perfectly aware that, even though he isn’t right there, he’s back there someplace.  He’s not tailgating her; instead he’s scaring the daylights out of her by making her feel as though he is.  This is what The Jason Voorhees does.  He usually appears at night, on an otherwise empty sidewalk.  As if he’d been created by a foley artist, The Jason Voorhees can be heard before he’s seen.  Clump clump here he comes.  Also like the hockey-masked horror icon, The Jason Voorhees is unshakable.  Try to speed up, so does he.  Slow down for him to pass, he slows down too.  Turn down a side street…there might be a short moment of relief, and then you’ll hear his crazy footsteps again, rocking and rolling and in hot pursuit of you.  The special and amazing thing about The Jason Voorhees is that somehow he never actually catches up.  Chances are that he’s just some drunk guy, so if you’re desperate to get him off your ass, I recommend passing a place that could divert his attention, like a brothel or a Taco Bell.

The Weezer Cover: You know the band Weezer?  Ever see their album covers?  They’re always the same, a simple picture of the four band members standing side-by-side.  This is nice and shows good camaraderie.  However, if Weezer was walking down a sidewalk, I’d hope they would have the decency not to stand like this.  Breaking off into a classic line structure is far more appropriate for walking down the sidewalk.  However, from time to time I’m confronted by a group of friends who form the intimidating Weezer Cover, spreading out horizontally and blocking the whole damn sidewalk.  They’re often four Slow Walkers joined together, creating an impenetrable wall of infuriating dawdling.  The only solution is to be a jerk and squeeze through a crack in the friendship, the narrow gap between Patrick Wilson and Rivers Cuomo.  If you are a humanitarian, worried about the good of your fellow man, you could slow walk in front of one member of The Weezer Cover, thereby forcing them to form a proper line formation to pass you.

There you have it.  The three worst perpetrator’s of sidewalk rage.  Like a broken escalator, they must be fixed.   They throw off the delicate pace of life, and, worse yet, delay my walk to the subway by a crucial and excruciating 45 seconds.

The Incoherent, Rambling, Stream-of-Conscious Valentine’s Day Post


Who says a single guy can’t be happy on Valentine’s Day?  I tell you who – radical Islamists.  They hate Valentine’s Day.  Think you hate it, with your groaning over how obnoxious it is?  Well, you don’t truly hate it that much.  Go to Iran and you’ll see that your Valentine’s Day hate is superficial and based solely on the fact that you have a big silly crush on your buddy’s girlfriend.  You jealous bastard, find your own girl!  Leave Jesse’s alone!  (Yeah, your friend’s name is Jesse, of course) (Why can’t I find a woman like that?!).  Anyways, the point is that the Ayatollah Khamenei dislikes Valentine’s Day more than you do.  He has never exchanged heart candies.  Know what would happen if someone gave him heart candies?  He’d smash them and put a fatwa on that person’s head.  One minute you’d be asking the Ayatollah if he’ll be your Valentine, the next thing you know you’re in hiding somewhere in Sri Lanka.

"I will not stand for candy that contains lewd requests like 'Hug Me'!!!"

I personally love the heck out of Valentine’s Day.  That’s right – there’s no bitterness here.  I love everything about it: the Valentine’s cards that have superheroes on them for no apparent reason, Valentine’s balloons, chocolates that come in a big red heart shaped box, everything.  It’s excellent.  Yeah, so I don’t have a girl to have an intimate dinner with, followed by some snuggling and the viewing of a nice romantic movie like, I dunno, Blue Valentine or something.  It’s fine.  Sports teams have rebuilding years, and that’s what I’ve got going on.  It’s all about next season.  It’s worse, I think, to be in the beginning of a relationship when Valentine’s Day hits.  That’s like going into war with no boot camp to prepare you.  I would feel silly, sitting there and pretending to be all hearts and roses when I’d know that only a few months ago it was Halloween and my girl was dressed like a slut and probably slept with a random stranger in an attempt to fulfill some sick Jack Sparrow fantasy.

You know what I want to try and bring back this Valentine’s Day?  Being someone’s secret admirer, that’s what.  Nobody seems to do that anymore.  I guess online dating is kind of similar (Hey, I saw your picture…I like you), although the online person still has an identity and isn’t working totally incognito.  It must be a lot of work nowadays to be a secret admirer.  I mean, with call ID and with email being pretty easy to trace, it’s not as easy as it used to be.  You’d have to be dropping off handwritten notes all the time, and even that’s tricky with security cameras all over the place.  It would take major dedication.  And maybe a mask.

Hopefully all the work wouldn’t be for naught.  The idea of having a secret admirer was pretty exciting when I was a kid – girls would get all starry eyed and anxious wondering who their mysterious Casanova was.  Now I fear a girl would be creeped out by it. “Oh God, Becky!  I have a secret admirer!  I’m going to start carrying mace and a taser!”

The iffy thing about a secret admirer is that it’s usually someone the girl knows, expressing himself in a passive aggressive way.  That might not fly with women today.  It shows a lack of confidence.  “Listen, I wanted to approach you and ask you out, but at the time I felt the best way would be to get a track phone and call you anonymously, with a sock pressed up to the mouthpiece to distort my voice.  In retrospect, it was bad judgment on my part.  Can we still do coffee?”

I’m skeptical on secret admiration working out, so maybe I’ll flip the script and surprise some lucky lady by being her blatant admirer.  I’ll call all the time and constantly post about how gorgeous she is on her Facebook wall and wear a t-shirt with her picture ironed onto it.  I think she’ll be flattered.  I’ll even scream like a ten-year-old-girl at a Justin Beiber concert when the object of my affection walks (or runs) by me.

On second thought, maybe it would be better to stick with the sock and the track phone.

Whatever.  It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m single and happy.   Here’s to all the couples and to all the singles out there, and especially to all the people admiring someone secretly.  I love you all!

Yup, even you Ayatollah!  Happy Valentine’s Day!


Am I Dying to Dance, Or Am I Dancing Because I’m Dying?


There were reminders everywhere last week, things telling me that one day I’d be gone from this world, something thought of fondly in memory like the 8-track or the Lite Brite.  First off, I was sick.  My body felt weak and I couldn’t eat.  Secondly, probably because I was sick, cigarettes were making me cough a lot, and that reminded me that smoking is bad.  Thirdly, I was depressed.  There is no greater reminder of death than depression; sometimes I’ll think about the CDs in my collection and the girls I’ve dated and I’ll be dumbfounded, slowly grasping the idea that I have terrible taste.  Similarly, when I’m sick, smoking, and depressed, it suddenly dawns on me that I might not live forever.

Plus I have bad circulation and cold weather makes my feet go numb.  A few months ago I was having coffee with a friend, in the smoking section.  The windows were all open for ventilation, making the smoking section so cold they could’ve filmed the sequel to March of the Penguins there.  In a flash, I couldn’t feel my feet.  The sensation of it, of having no feet or maybe that my body had cut my feet off like a bartender cutting off a drunk at last call (“Listen, feet, I think you’ve had enough blood…I’m going to have to stop serving you tonight”), made me terribly lightheaded and I started freaking out.  I felt faint.  I told my friend I had to get out of there, go home, and in a crazy haste I fled to the subway.

“You’re not dying,” I sternly told myself.  “Stop it.”

Part of my brain wasn’t listening.  I knew exactly why.  I’d thought I was dying before.  It was Professor Ruby and her lecture.  How she said the feet and the hands get cold.  I hopped up and down on the subway, not caring if people stared at me.

I saw my reflection in the subway mirror.  All the memories were there, in a jumble.  Professor Ruby, the ambulance, the freak outs, and, of course, my dance moves in the bathroom.


In order to get my Bachelor’s Degree, I had to take two gym classes.  I was 20 years old, young and sprite and healthy enough and moving towards being a college graduate.  The new semester was about to begin and the woman in the counseling office was making my schedule.

“You need a gym credit,” she said.

“I took golf last year,” I told her.  “That was pretty good.  Is there anything else easy like that?  Maybe yoga or something?”  What can I say?  I was a skinny, chain-smoking artsy nerd with a pony tail.  The last thing I wanted was to take basketball with a bunch of jocks.  It wasn’t my idea of a good time.  It would make me as miserable as the frat boys who somehow got signed up for poetry electives and looked, every class, like they were in the fourth quarter of a game they were losing badly.

“Um, sorry,” the counselor said.  “Yoga is filled.”

“Frisbee golf?  I heard there’s Frisbee golf.”

“There’s Ultimate Frisbee.  Is that what you mean?”

“Hmm, that involves a lot of running.  What else do you have?”

“Well, the basics, really.  Soccer.  Basketball.  Football.  Running.”

“Running!  Football!  Oh God no!”

She could probably sense the dread in my voice and so, with a sigh, she pitched me an alternative suggestion.  “You can take Death and Dying.  It counts as a gym credit.”

“Sign me up.”

In summary, at my school, you could either take an active sport or, for those not so physically inclined, you could choose to take Death.  And I, happily, chose Death.

If the Grim Reaper ever approaches me with similar options, I’m going with football.

To no surprise, Death and Dying turned out to be taught by a new-aged loony named Professor Ruby who had big glasses and a pet wolf.  Yes, a pet wolf.  She’d come into class frazzled and say, “I couldn’t get any sleep…Eli was howling all night.”  I’d nod and think, “Well, you do have a wild animal living in your house.  Maybe Eli the wolf is getting a little stir crazy.”  The structure of the class was simple: we would learn about the process of death itself and about how we, as humans, deal with it.  We had to read books on grief by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and we’d be taking a variety of field trips.  And we would be forming a support group for each other, should anyone in the class suffer a loss, or should Professor Ruby be eaten by her pet wolf.

There were about twenty students and we all dove right in.  Professor Ruby talked about her mother’s death and encouraged us to openly share our own experiences.  Many students did, telling the class about friends or family who had gone, and it was then that I realized what a stranger I was to death.  My whole family was alive (with the exception of my grandfather who died when I was really little) and I’d never lost any friends.  I felt almost embarrassed by it, like a poser or something, sitting there all naïve in a classroom full of people who had authentic Bridge to Terabithia experiences.  Why hadn’t anyone in my life died?  What was God waiting for?  Didn’t he know I needed material for class discussion?

After a few weeks, I started getting massively bummed out.  The class  wasn’t a fun and easy cake walk like I’d thought it would be.  We were given the exasperating assignment of writing our own eulogies and I really struggled with mine.  It made me think about my life.  If I died that day, what good would anyone have to say about me?  My roommates noticed how melancholy I was getting.

“What are you doing man?” they’d ask.  “You’re just sitting here in the living room…did the TV break?”

“No, I’m thinking about my funeral.”

And then they would leave immediately.  In the following months, things got worse.  Professor Ruby was brutal, merciless.  We went on field trips to a hospice and a morgue.  We talked to people who were dying.  She showed us a videotape of a sick child passing away.  I was devastated by it.  Eerily, almost every student in the class had someone they knew die that semester.  More people cried in Death and Dying than they do at the Grammy’s.  It seemed like every class we were getting up and doing a group hug for so-and-so, because her grandmother just passed.  “This is a place where we openly share our thoughts on death,” Professor Ruby said.  “There is no judgment…only support.”

I wasn’t sharing my thoughts.  Why hadn’t anyone close to me died?  I thought I knew the answer.  It was because, I thought, I was the one marked, the person chosen.  I could feel it.  I thought of the dying child in the video – there weren’t any other members of his family struggling through something like that.  No, they all sat around him healthy as could be.  Maybe my whole life I was the sick child and I didn’t even know it.

That’s when the freak-outs began.  I’d smoke pot and totally lose it, convinced that my time had come.  On one occasion, I took the ice cube tray from the freezer and started sucking on ice cubes.  I thought that the ice cubes were the only thing keeping me alive and when the tray ran out I’d be dead.  On another horrible occasion, I got a nose bleed and called 911.  “I’m dying!” I shouted into the phone.  “Send an ambulance!  Hurry!”  They sent three.  By the time they got there, my nose bleed was gone and the paramedics kindly told me that I was okay.  It was humiliating and I felt like a crazy person.  I wondered what would make me call the ambulance next time – bad gas?  Maybe halitosis?

I started filling a flask with vodka and taking it to school with me.  I’d sit outside on a bench by myself, drinking.  Once in awhile someone would come up to me and go, “Hey party animal!  Starting the weekend early!?!”

“Nah, it’s just the only way I can deal with class.”

For all of my freak-outs, none of them had happened in the class itself.  Somehow I was always able to maintain composure through it and then break down afterwards.  That changed the day Professor Ruby gave the lecture on the signs of death our bodies show when we’re dying.  It was a long lecture, and I squirmed in my chair listening to it.

“First the hands go cold.”

“My hands are cold,” I thought.  “Oh my God, they’re freezing.”

“The feet get cold next.”

“My feet are ice cold,” I thought.  “This is it!  This is it!  Why hadn’t it dawned on me before?  All along…this was the plan.  IT WAS PREDETERMINED FROM DAY ONE THAT I WOULD DIE AN IRONIC DEATH IN DEATH AND DYING CLASS!”

I got up and rushed out of class.  I was hysterical.  My body was covered in sweat and I couldn’t breathe.  For about ten minutes I walked in circles down and around the hallways, and then I darted into the bathroom.  I threw water on my face.  I looked at myself in the mirror.

“I don’t want to die,” I thought mournfully.  “I won’t let myself die.”

If things weren’t totally bizarre already, they quickly got there.  Looking at myself in the mirror, I raised my arms and, without much logic behind it, slowly began to dance.  First it was my arms, then my hips and legs joined in.

“See!  You’re not gonna die!  You can move!  You can dance!!!”

I was possessed.  I began shuffling my feet and swinging my arms over my head.  The thrill of being alive filled me.

I was so caught up in the rush of movement and vitality that it took me a moment to realize the bathroom door had opened and two students from class were standing there, looking at me.  “Oh!” I shouted, abruptly ending my groovetastic gyrations.  “Hey!  What’s going on?”

“Um,” one of them said.  “Professor Ruby was worried about how you left class like that…she told us to go check to see if you were okay.”

I giggled nervously.  “Yeah…I’m good.  Just…you know…I’ll be back soon…”

What on earth could they have thought?  “Yes, Professor,” I imagined them saying.  “Bill’s fine.  He just had to dance.”

Before the next class I emailed Professor Ruby and told her I had some problems at home and couldn’t come in for awhile.  The semester was almost finished at that point.  Perhaps she could sense that the class was more than I could handle.  I went in for the final class and turned my exam paper in.  I was given a B and that was it.

Death was over.


How is it that human beings, despite all of our destructive behavior, can so often block out death?

It’s because, I think, our bodies and minds are so filled with life that it’s impossible to grasp any end to it.  Dancing in the bathroom, or jumping up and down on the subway, or even writing this, I felt strong and present, whirling with force.  Isn’t it like that all the time?  Even the small things we do, talking to each other or eating a grape or walking through the cold to get to work, they’re all complete with energy and being, the gravity of existence.  Isn’t that what keeps us from wandering into whatever other worlds we believe in?  Our movements, our ability to touch one another, the gift of being able to laugh, they all keep us firmly rooted with the wonderful weight of being here.

How can I possibly think of dying when everything inside of me tells me every second that I’m so very much alive?


A Fat White Man and a Disapproving Credit Card are Killing My Love Life


So today, instead of writing another bloated 1,000+ word rambling bit of nonsense, I’m going to quickly update two situations I brought up in the past.  Both involve the sad state of my love life, which is about as alive and kicking as Abraham Lincoln.

He’s really, really dead, in case you didn’t pick up on that joke.

Anyways, here’s the update on Samantha F.  When I got to the Philippines, I suddenly decided that I just had to meet up with her.  Not because I thought there would be a spark or anything, but instead (embarrassingly enough) because I thought meeting up would make for an interesting and humorous future blog.  That’s right – I intended to serenade her with Open Arms for the enhancement of this website.  So when I was in Cebu I snuck off to an Internet café and sent her a message, saying I’d like to meet up on Sunday if she’d give me a time and a place.  She responded and seemed somewhat enthusiastic.  There was no time or place, though, just a phone number.  She wanted me to call her to make plans.  This, my friends, is what we call ‘too much work.’  Long, dull story shot, I went back home without seeing her or her laundromat.

What happened next was kind of funny, though.  A few days after I got back, our sweet Samantha F. posted some interesting pics on Facebook.  There she was, looking like she normally did, but this time she was with a big fat old white guy.  He kind of looked like a fatter version of Paul Giamatti, and he had a big goofy smile on his face.  It was, in all honesty, a little disturbing.  I guess she found the white man she was looking for…which basically means she found a white man.  I’m sure he’s not a bad guy and will probably be good to her.  So it’s a story with a happy ending…only with some unorthodox casting for Prince Charming.

Upon getting back, I also decided to make a go of Korean online dating.  I tried this before, only to have my credit card frozen.  That led to a humiliating phone call to HSBC’s Fraud Prevention Team.  But that was my fault because I haven’t updated my billing address in about a decade and entered the wrong thing.  It couldn’t happen again, right?  I mean, I just had to enter the correct information and everything would be peachy.  I’d be setting up dates like a regular cyber-Valentino.

Um, not so much.  Although I successfully signed up on the dating website, I quickly got an email informing me that I had – yet again – been referred to the Fraud Prevention Team and that my credit card has been frozen.  “Oh come on, man!” I thought.  “I gotta call the Fraud Prevention Team again?!”

Yes, yes I do.  Maybe they’re just super interested in what’s going on with me.  They’re concerned.  I figure I’ll call with no shame and mad confidence – “Yeah, I signed up for online dating.  I’m flipping proud!  Best thing I’ve ever done!”  I could even give them some details…who knows, they might be able to help out.  “Yeah, the other day I messaged Jellybean84 and haven’t heard back…I thought you guys could freeze her card and put in a good word for me when she calls.”

Sigh.  I’m off to make the call of shame for the second time, and then get ready for work.  It’s days like this when Carpe Diem does not apply.  That’s right – some days just ain’t worth seizing.