Mustache March ends. Life begins anew.

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/mustache-march-ends-life-begins-anew.html
I feel naked. Throughout March, I had grown accustomed to getting food, drinks, and sometimes errant boogers that tissues didn’t catch stuck in my ‘stache. Now, as Mustache March ends, I find myself clean shaven, feeling cold and alone.

Here is a Before-After graphical representation of my feelings.

Sure, the fuzz on my upper lip more often elicited a laugh than a look of what I like to call “sex eyes,” but it was still a part of me and I still feel incomplete. I feel like Jerry Maguire at the end of the movie, talking about a “cynical world” and how I need my mustache because it completes me.

Luckily for me, my mustache withdrawal will only last a couple of months… until Fu Man-June.

Tell me your tales of mustache sadness.

Breaking News: I'm only 51% pure

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/breaking-news-im-only-51-pure.html
That's down from my score of 55% eight years ago. So, I'm losing purity at an average rate of 0.5% per year. I'm 23 now, so if I live to be 125, I will make my way down to 0%, making me at least as impure as the most impure people on Earth. (And with advances in modern medicine, I am fully expecting to not only live this long but still have full control of all bodily functions. Don't disappoint me, science.)

Perhaps I should explain myself. Inspired by adolescent nostalgia, I just took an online purity test. These gained a lot of popularity around my sophomore year of high school, and the results could be either worn as a metaphorical badge of goodness or bragged about in competition for the "high score."

One test was particularly popular, both for its innovative questions and its willingness explore the creative and humorous side of impurity with questions like, "88. Have you ever eaten sushi off a naked body," the Alanis-inspired "62. Would you go down on me in a theater," and the one-two punch of "79. Have you ever walked in on your parents having sex?" and "80. Did you join in?" That test was provided by none other than TheSpark.com. (It has since been taken down, but the dating site OKCupid.com has duplicated it. Scroll down to the end for the link.)

If that sounds familiar, it's because the guys that started that site are now bringing in boatloads of cashmoney with a little thing called SparkNotes. However, before they were in the business of helping high schoolers pretend like they "did the reading for class," the Spark people were all about sex, drugs and petty crimes, and everyone I knew in high school was quite happy about that.

Nearly a decade later, here I am taking the same test, and I've only dropped four percentage points. As far as morality and purity tracking go, I think that's pretty good, especially considering most people get their craziness out in the late teens and early twenties. So, while I fully expect to live to be 125 years old, I don't actually believe I'll ever reach 0%. Especially considering questions 79 & 80.

That's just disgusting.

[N.B. The duplicated TheSpark.com purity test can be found here. In order to get your results, this site will make you sign up for their dating service thing, and although it's free, it's probably not worth the hassle. So, since it's a 100 point test, just subtract a point every time you answer "Yes."]

Let's hear some of your scores in the comments. Can anyone beat my 51%?

How bout them apples! A guide to recent developments in produce

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-bout-them-apples-guide-to-recent.html
I knew Disney was kind of fruity, but this is almost too much.

I was shopping at my local Vons (not Ralph's, for good reason ) the other day and I went to the produce section to pick up my regular purchase of Granny Smith apples, the only good kind of apple. As I was sorting through the individual apples, picking the nice looking ones out, groping them for inconsistencies and tossing aside any that were bruised or otherwise imperfect, I looked up for no particular reason, and there they were.

A bag full of nearly pristine, perfectly-sized Granny Smiths, courtesy of the kind folks at Disney.

A few things should be noted here. First, I’m not a huge Disney fan. I don’t go see all of the movies, I don’t watch the Disney channel, I don’t even look back on a childhood riddled with animated Disney movie memories, except perhaps Aladdin and his whole new world. Man… what I would give to share a whole new world with Jasmine … sigh…

Second, I’m not a snob who eats only organic fruits grown by people with whom I am on a first name basis. I like to support community, like a hippie, but I like to save money more, like a selfish person.

With that in mind, one should realize exactly what I did: at nearly half the price per lb of regular Granny Smiths, I bought the Disney apples. And in recent days, I’ve been enjoying them immensely, both for their perfect size and their juicy deliciousness, and also for the free temporary tattoo that came in the package.

Sure, I might be somewhat worried Disney is taking over the world, but as far as I’m concerned, they have to beat out Google and Apple first, so their world domination is at least a few years away. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying my cheap but tasty apples. And hey, now they make Disney kiwi, too!

G.I. Joe, He-Man, and other childhood heroes

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/gi-joe-he-man-and-other-childhood.html
My childhood friends are coming back to kill some Cobra Commandos.

Any fans of the toys, cartoons, or NES games about G.I. Joe will be ecstatic to know that come August of 2009, they can see Snake Eyes, General Hawk, Gung-Ho and the gang on the big screen, fighting Destro and the evil forces of the Cobras.

Joe has had a surge of popularity in recent years, thanks in part to the hilarious re-dubbed PSAs by Fensler Films. Perhaps that helped contribute to the film idea going forward. Or perhaps it was the wild success of Transformers. Either way, what I want to focus on is all the other childhood toys that are getting the Hollywood snub.

Anybody remember Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots? Where’s their big budget explosion-fest? Sure, there was Robot Jox, distantly similar to the toys, but even a hardcore fan such as myself can admit that the plot might have been lacking slightly on that one. With Transformers just coming out, maybe the market is just the right temperature for another hot robot movie.

Another favorite is Mr. Potato Head. We all loved his wisecracks in Toy Story; why not give him his own film? After all, he’s been experimenting will all different looks lately, he’s practically a chameleon. I’m thinking he’d be good for a spy film. Plus he’s got that sweet, sweet mustache, and who doesn’t love their leading men having a bushy upper lip?

What I’d really like to see is a He-Man flick. Sure, Dolph Lungren and the gang already did Masters of the Universe, but let’s be honest, that movie was ridiculous, and I’m not even including Courtney Cox in my judgment. (With her contributions, the film sinks way, WAY lower than just “ridiculous.”) No, what a new Masters of the Universe film really needs is a 300-style squad of ultra-ripped dudes, crushing Skeletor and his minions in the graphic novel style of Sin City. Can’t you just picture He-Man yelling “THIS IS GRAYSKULL!” as he kicks some fool into a bottomless pit?

Which toys-turned-movies am I missing? What would you like to see brought to the silver screen?

The Selfish Hippie Crusades Against "The Man"

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/selfish-hippie-crusades-against-man.html

And “The Man’s” name is Ralph—as in Ralph’s supermarket.

Hippies are all about natural foods, community building, free love and psychedelic drugs. This entry will be about the first two, and briefly touch on the third (apologies to the druggos out there).

I’ve run into some issues since I moved about nine months ago and had to start going to a new grocery store. I’ve shopped at Ralph’s before and was never very impressed with the service or selection, but it was also never anything that dismayed or disturbed me. That all changed when I began shopping at my new Ralph’s.

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Nobody seemed to know anybody else there, which was strange since it seems to be mostly airline employees (due to the close proximity of LAX), LMU students, and Westchester residents, which is an admittedly small community. However, that didn’t bother me so much as the general lackadaisical nature of the employees, long lines at the checkout at all hours, and the very poor quality of the produce.

After all, hippies like their natural foods, but since I’m a selfish hippie, I didn’t want to have to go to Trader Joe’s and pay slightly higher prices.

Trying to be a supportive member of the community, I wrote a letter expressing my dissatisfaction with my neighborhood Ralph’s, detailing my complaints and grievances, and hoping they would be fixed in a timely matter. I received a swift reply saying something to the effect of “We appreciate your business and we apologize for your recent experience. We’ve passed your comments on to the store manager so that they can improve their service. Thank you for shopping at Ralph’s.”

I was elated. My contribution may have actually helped improve the world! And all because I was too selfish to spend an extra couple bucks at Joe’s.

Several months passed with no improvement in service. Needless to say, I was perturbed. Like a dog who looks for better food at the neighbor’s house, I started venturing off, dabbling at Albertson’s, Vons, even Costco despite the general uneasy feeling I get from the type of people who shop there. (You know the ones… they get the huge flatbed carts and usually end up running over at least three people before they’re done buying all their Frappucinos and Velveeta in bulk.) They all were better than my neighborhood Ralph’s.

Well, I decided it. It was time to break up for good. Like all civilized break-ups, I did it through print correspondence. I sent another e-mail through the company website. When I received the reply, I knew I had made the right choice:

Dear Mr. Lehman:

Thank you for contacting Ralphs Grocery Co. Please accept my sincerest apologies for your recent experience. It is our goal to exceed customer expectations and when we don't live up to them, we do want to know about it. I have made the store manager and his team of associates aware of your comments so they can receive the feedback they need in order to improve in this area. A member of management will contact you within the next week to discuss your experiences.

Again, I am very sorry that your experience did not meet your expectations, or ours. Thank you for shopping at Ralphs. There is nothing more important to us than making sure your shopping experience meets your every need.

Sincerely,

Emily Boomershine
Consumer Affairs

Well Ms. Boomershine, I think you work for a crappy company, and you should quit and find a job worthy of you and your very cool surname. This hippie will be finding a new grocery store. Safeway, anyone?

What kinds of bad experiences have you had with Ralph’s?

My first trip to Asia

Despite my seeming expertise in Asian culture, such as my convincing Japanese accent and my short article on “How to Thai a tie ” (and conversely “How to tie a Thai”), I have never been to the wild, wild east.

What strange wonders might I encounter there, I thought to myself as I sat in my “pod” in United First Class, sipping mimosa and salivating over my veal medallions. Imagine my surprise and horror when I arrived in my connecting airport of Tokyo-Narita when I go exploring and find a Japanese eatery called Tatsu piping out Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” from its speakers, without shame. I felt so dirty, I raced to the bathroom, only to discover some stalls have what can only be described as very contemporary-looking holes in the ground where you are supposed to “do your business,” as it were. Luckily, I found a regular toilet, washed my hands, and then reveled in the power of the dryers, which basically blasted the skin right off my hands, leaving them nice and bone dry.

My observations in Japan were limited; aside from the aforementioned, the only others I remember were that everything was spotlessly clean, like living in an episode of “Monk,” and every Japanese girl I saw looked like an extremely cute 16-year-old, even the obviously twentysomethings. After noting these, I jetted out of Japan to Bangkok. I toughed it out in a Business class seat, tossing and turning and wondering why I had to be stuck with the people who only paid $5k instead of $10k for a plane ticket.

Finally, a day and a half later (with the time change), I arrived in Bangkok, and as the fates would have it, good old Celine Dion was there to welcome me in the jetbridge as soon as I walked off the plane with her sweet serenade from “Titanic.” Once I finish basking in Dion, I head down to the curb to wait for Will to pick me up, and though all the people look the same, they seem very friendly, many of them coming up to me and saying hello. I haven’t quite mastered the Thai language at this point, but it seems “hello” is pronounced “taxi?”

Will arrives, and I can tell he has become adept at fitting in, because he looks just like everyone else too. We head back to his brother’s place and I crash for the evening.

Day 1

I wake up around 7 am, even though I went to bed past midnight the night before after a 22-hour long day. Will takes me around his project site, which at this point is basically a series of stray dog-infested slums in which I could sort of make out the rented-out mini factories that make up Will’s business. Nonetheless, the land space is impressive, and the vision Will lays out for me makes me believe he can actually turn this plot of what looks like useless land into something worthwhile.

We take a cab into the city and I learn how to actually say hello (sah-wat dee khrab ). What I should have learned how to say is “I’m frightened,” because they drive 10 times worse than LA drivers. Thankfully, everyone drives this way, and everyone else seems to know to expect it, so somehow I don’t see any accidents.

The first place we stop at when we get to Will’s neighborhood is a combination haircut/foot massage place, where Will gets his haircut and I get a comprehensive foot massage. By comprehensive, I mean that I must have feet on my arms and back that I didn’t know about, because those got massaged as well, all for about $5. With my re-energized feet, we grabbed some lunch from the street vendors for about $1 per plate, then walked downtown to the mall area, where I got the quick tour of three malls. Each mall was between 4-6 stories, one of them had an entire grocery store on top, and another had a movie theater with a Happiness World Screen, where one pays about $15 to lounge in recliners and sofas and watch a new movie on an IMAX size screen. If it was something other than “10,000 B.C.” playing, we probably would have indulged ourselves.

Next up on the tour of Thai culture: who wants a body massage? We went to one of Will’s favorite places, where nobody seemed to speak any English, so when Will said something to them and everyone looked at me and laughed, I knew it would be a punishing few hours. I learned a little bit more Thai that day: “Nok nok” is not something you want to ask for from a Thai masseuse. I got to experience two hours of strange contortions and sensations and pressures I’ve never known before, and in the end, my back was sore enough that I needed another massage. Maybe that’s how they get repeat business.

We stumbled out of the massage place into the afternoon heat, and Will took me to see what the Thai bath house was all about. We walked into a fancy schmancy place, darkly lit and drowning in black marble that made it look like a scene from "Scarface," and a man in basically a pimp suit quickly approached us and ushered us over to a black leather couch. There he started speaking to Will in Thai and writing numbers down on paper, and I looked around uncomfortably at the scantily clad women sitting everywhere. Finally after what seemed like decades, Will said “Let’s take the tour.”

We got up and walked around, and surrounding the couch we had been sitting on are big open areas lit with black and dim white light, stacked with stadium-style seating, and on that seating were numerous young women in various states of undress, smiling and leering at us and tapping on the big red buttons pinned on them. Each girl had a number on the button, and it’s my impression that a seasoned veteran to this practice would simply walk in, tell the suit a number or two, and be ready to ride. Neither Will nor I being interested, though, we took a few minutes to walk around, then told the suit nothing looked interesting and ducked out of the dark and back into the light.

The neverending day continued with an Italian dinner with some of Will’s friends, who were all young professionals and chatted about expense accounts and working remotely. Afterwards, we took a cab down to a club called Hollywood, described by most people we mentioned it to as “seedy,” and we paid our admission by buying a bottle of vodka. Since neither of us were drinking that night, we sat and watched the “show,” which consisted of more scantily clad women, this time with Mickey Mouse panties on, dancing to pop and rock music. I guess that’s the Thai perspective on what Hollywood is like. I suppose it’s not too far off. Around 1 a.m. we finally got bored and headed home to crash.

Day 2

I caught up on a little sleep and rolled out of bed around 10, then we grabbed another cheap meal from the street vendors. Will had a meeting with his brothers, so he turned me loose on the city and I took a cab down to the Grand Palace to see some of Bangkok’s wonders. No sooner had I arrived, though, than I was informed the Palace was closed the entire day for some sort of celebration. I was offered a ride to another temple in one of the little tuk-tuks (the motorcyles with the cabs attached to the back) for less than a dollar, so I hopped in and was on my way.

We went straight to the temple, and it was very ornate and interesting aside from the construction going on, but when I was done, the tuk-tuk driver took me all over the city, stopping at suit and jewelry shops everywhere, explaining that he would get a gas reimbursement if we stopped at all of them and the ride would be free. It started with the promise of only four stores, so I said sure. Eight stores later, I had to convince him to drop me off at the nearest temple, I gave him much more money than I should have, walked around an interesting street market for a little while, and then caught a cab back to Will’s place just in time to grab dinner and head out for some fun.

Friday evening’s festivities had us meeting a friend of Will’s who we had just met the night before at the Italian restaurant for a party. The draw: Will had been promised there were Singaporean girls there, who are reputed to be very cute and very well off. We arrived and were greeted by none other than a Singaporean girl who was cute, and who was working for a company that put her up in an incredible apartment, thereby assuring she was also well off. Mission accomplished.

Throughout the party, which included some time spent at the indoor pool on the 6th floor, I met girls from Hong Kong and from Thailand, and guys from France and from Germany. And that’s not including the Singaporean girl, or Big, the guy from Thailand with whom we came to the party. There were probably more countries represented at that party than types of booze. At any point, if I listened with a discerning ear, I heard 4 or 5 different languages being spoken. Eventually, we felt like we had left our mark, and Will decided we should go meet up with some of his friends at a club called Santika, his usual haunting grounds.

We rolled into the club, caught an earful of a band playing some outdated Limp Bizkit song, found some people Will knew and mooched drinks off of them. Big and I chatted a little while Will tried to hit on a cocktail waitress. When that didn’t play out, he moved on to another group of girls, and I headed to the restroom, where the two bathroom attendants made me sufficiently uncomfortable by first flushing the toilet while I was still using it, then giving shoulder rubs while I washed my hands, followed by an offer of a warm towel then a paper towel then baby powder. I smiled and tossed a thank you their way (“korb kun khab ”) and got the hell out of there as quick as possible.

When I got back, I shimmied to some music for a few minutes before Will called me over. “Her friend wants to meet you,” he tells me, and I’m immediately introduced to several attractive Thai girls. We spent a few minutes shouting some chit chat over the music, but truthfully I couldn’t tell you what the heck they said, what with the accent and the noise. In fact, I didn’t even get their names, though I think one of them might be called Apple. Nonetheless, my nodding and smiling apparently made them enamored with me, and I quickly found myself surrounded with women all dancing up on me. Perhaps it was my stunning facial hair. When it seemed likely they were interested in more than just a harmless shimmy or two, Will and I bounced out and headed home.

Day 3

We both woke up pretty early and decided to have a go at Thai Monopoly. Will, being a crazed Monopoly enthusiast, had purchased the version for a heftier price than the original goes for in the States, and that’s including the exchange rate. Still, I’m a lover of the game as well, so we both agreed it was worth it. Pretty soon, I had three houses each on Silum and Sukhumvit (the Boardwalk and Park Place equivalent), but I had some bad rolls and landed a few times on Jom Thian (one of the Orange, near Free Parking) and that was the end of that.

My only request of Will during my trip was to ride an elephant, so Will had worked out a ride—one of his lady friends named Pla—and a destination—a city about an hour and a half north of Bangkok called Ayuttaya. Ayuttaya is the old capital city of Thailand, and it’s packed to the gills with ruined temples and elephant droppings, as well as the respective owners of those droppings. We arrived and hopped on our elephants, Will and Pla on one and I on another. It was amusing, and admittedly I found it quite a riot when they led us all to a dirt patch where there was a sort of elephant pow-wow going on and all of them unleashed their bladders and bowels in torrents of 2-3 gallon puddles and 3-5 softball-sized deuces. After that, the novelty wore off pretty quick, which was good because the ride was only about 20 minutes long.

We walked around and explored some of the temples, and I had the pleasure of paying for entrance to each one while Will and Pla got in free. Thais apparently aren’t very welcoming of foreigners—either that or they just know we’re all suckers. It was still quite an experience, though, and the surrealism of sharing the road with an occasional elephant can’t be understated.

On the way back to Bangkok, we got to “X” on the alphabet game. Pretty good, I thought, considering most of the signs were in Thai. We probably could have finished if we hadn’t been stuck on “Q” for so long, but such is life.

We headed out to dinner once we got back to the city, and while there was talk of eating snake, the idea never really grew legs, mostly because nobody knew where to find a restaurant that would serve snake. Instead, after dinner we headed to a grocery store in one of the gigantic malls and introduced Pla to sake bombs, which she promptly lost a taste for after almost vomiting. The drinking finished, Will took us to an area of the city called Nana, where he said all the “vampires” live. Exciting as it sounds, “vampire” in Will’s dictionary is a materialistic woman who shows interest in a man just so she can “bleed” him of money and gifts.

The so-called “vampire den” turned out to be mostly strip clubs, so we headed back to a bar near Will’s, had a drink or two, some casual conversation, and then went home to sleep so I could be up in four hours for my flight.

I made it back safe and sound with little hassle or fanfare, aside from the customs agent in the US assuming I was smuggling back child pornography since I was a young man returning from Thailand. I found that fairly odd, though at the time I was sporting a burgeoning goatee, so perhaps that added to the suspicion.

As for my Thai language skills, I’m sad to say they didn’t develop as much as I thought they might, but perhaps you can learn something about my guide based on the phrases I did learn:

  • “Sah wat dee khab” – Hello
  • “Kau foon dai mai khab” – Will you have sex with me?
  • “A-roi” – Delicious
  • “Na faan” – Sexually enticing
  • “Khab pom” – Indeed
  • “Khab wat dee khab” – Okay goodbye

So, while it was a short trip, it was a great time, and fantastic to see a close friend becoming so immersed in the city. I know I’ll have to go back, but until then, I’ll just have to take a page out of Celine’s book, and know that “My Heart Will Go On.”

Midway through Mustache March

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/midway-through-mustache-march.html
We’re now past the halfway mark of Mustache March, and since mine looks so foolish, I’ll refrain from posting another picture. Instead, this week will showcase mustaches in pop culture.

The first reference may surprise some of you. After all, most of you probably didn’t realize that the lyrics to song by Kelis actually go like this: “My mustache brings all the boys to the yard. And they’re like ‘It’s better than yours.’” It’s the beautiful tale of pubescent boys coming of age and growing some incipient fuzz under their noses. And don’t pay any attention to the title, “Milkshake.” Artists these days will name their songs any crazy thing just to get them on the radio.

Speaking of milkshakes, the “I drink your milkshake!” guy himself, Daniel-Day Lewis, won an Oscar for his mustache-wearing abilities in “There Will Be Blood.” His acting was great too, don’t get me wrong, but so was the acting of every other nominee for Best Actor. No, the thing that really let him stand apart from the pack was that sweet ‘stache he was sporting. Well done, Mr. Lewis.

Finally, one of the Original Kings of Mustache, Mr. Potato Head has had a resurgence in recent years. You can now make him into all sorts of characters from Darth Tater to Spider Spud to Opti-Mash Prime and this year, he’ll become Indiana Jones from “Taters of the Lost Ark.” However, none of those will ever measure up to the original fantastic ‘stache of Mr. Pederast Head… er, I mean, Mr. Potato Head.

Keep on growing, friends. And send in any updates on the growth process. Pictures are even better… we’ll post any good ones we get.

Mustache March, week 1

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/mustache-march-week-1.html
It’s happening.

Holy Hairy Lip, Batman!My mustache has now gotten long enough that when I purse my lips and look down, I can see the hairs. It’s really messing with my mind because I keep thinking that after I ate lunch I forgot to wipe the remaining squirrel hairs off my mouth. (Just kidding, I don’t actually eat squirrel, though from the look of me now I could see how you might think anything is possible.)

We’re now into Week 1 of Mustache March, and it's now in glorious full effect.

(If you don’t remember what I’m talking about, refresh your memory.)

Let’s keep those pictures and updates about your ‘staches rolling in. Remember, the best one will get it’s on spot on the homepage for the month of April. And it will also leave a lasting impression on the minds and hearts of America. So get growing!

After all, you don’t hate America, do you?

Crunched! A Tragedy of Slimy Proportions

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/crunched-tragedy-of-slimy-proportions.html
Note: this story is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach.

It had stopped raining shortly before I left work and headed home. I was walking my usual route, and as per usual, when I saw dried leaves or twigs or anything that looked particularly crispy and crunchy on the ground, I landed my foot directly on them and consequently enjoyed a most satisfying euphony of crunch. I don't know exactly what makes this sound so satisfying to me, but it does, and it does so enough that I'll even go out of my way if I see an object that looks particularly crunchy.

There was a special project going on at work, so I was working late into the night. I got off work that Wednesday around 9:30pm. I remember it was 9:30 because it's a 30 minute walk home and I arrive just in time for my roommate to start watching some trashy top model/house flipping/top chef show on Bravo. In hindsight, I would have been much better off staying at work for another hour, not only because I hate all shows on Bravo (except reruns of The West Wing, which for some reason they show on Bravo), but because of what I'm pained to describe next.

About five paces from the front gate of my apartment complex, I saw a perfectly crispy looking leaf, and it having been a somewhat stressful day at work, this seemed to be karma's way of sweetening my day just a little bit. I actually quickened my stride ever so slightly in joyful anticipation of the sweet music that I would soon hear. When I arrived, I stopped, lifted my right foot, and planted it firmly on top of that dried leaf, and the sound gave me immense pleasure. It was only after my right foot slipped almost out from under me that I realized the tragedy that just happened.

In my haste and my ravenous anticipation, coupled with the darkness of night and the lack of adequate lighting, what I mistook for a dried leaf was actually poor Mr. Snail. And now, for an ever so slight pick-me-up, I had ended Mr. Snail's life in one aurally satisfying crunch.

I paused for a moment, contemplating the life that had been lost. I even bowed my head, though that was more because I was looking at the ground than I was paying respects. Finally, I told myself there was nothing that could be done, Mr Snail looked like maybe perhaps he had lived a good, long, full life and was ready to go. He certainly moved a little slower than the sprightly young snails. If he had moved a little faster, I may not have mistook him for a leaf.

Rest in peace, Mr. Snail. We hardly knew ye. But I thank the snail gods every day for the joy your death brought me.

Selfish Hippie 3: The Return of the Selfish Hippie

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/selfish-hippie-3-return-of-selfish.html
Your favorite hippie is at it again! If you missed previous Selfish Hippie tips, go back. Here's a few more tips to save money that will also save the world.

Sponge Migration
First of all, don’t use a dishwasher unless you really have to. It’s much easier (and uses less water because it doesn’t take as much scrubbing) to wash a dish immediately after using it. To wash dishes, though, you need a sponge. Use it for a little while (and make sure to follow these tips to keep it from smelling bad), then once it has passed its useful life, deport it out of Kitchen Country into Bathroom-ville to use on the tub. Let a few weeks go by, and once you have another sponge being deported from the kitchen, make the tub sponge migrate to Toilet Town. Worried about the next migration? Don’t; after the toilet, that sponge migrates to Garbage-land.

Itching for Scratch Paper?
Receipts left in the car, essays printed and proofread and found typo-ridden, once-a-day calendar pages, and anything and everything with a blank side can be used for scratch paper. I most often use them for grocery lists, then toss the used list in the recycle bin and keep the receipt to use for the next shopping trip. Also, once-a-day calendar pages work exceptionally well as one-time-use coasters, especially since they are usually good conversation pieces (everyone will have something to say about your "365 Dogs Page-A-Day Calendar").

Live Where You Work, or Near Where You Work
If you can get away with crashing on the break room couch at night, waking up early enough to make coffee for everyone in the morning, and figuring out a way to shower, then I say go for it. Most of us can't. That's why the second best thing to do is live near your work. If you can find a place within two miles, that's ideal. Two miles is an easy walk that saves gas while letting you get some exercise, and you'll also get to know the area around your residence much better. Plus, there's probably a grocery store on one of the routes home, so stop by there once a day and pick up the groceries you need and that saves another car trip, saving more gas, saving more money and saving your flabby ass.

Don't Just Work at Work
Speaking of work and groceries, don't go out to eat for lunch unless it's a special occasion. Spend a couple minutes brown-bagging those leftover raviolis from last night, toss in an apple, a yogurt and some baby carrots, and you've got yourself a nice little meal. The best part is, you can do that basically every day for a week and spend less than going out to lunch once (well, maybe... if you don't live in Los Angeles like me, your dining out lunches might be slightly less expensive). Added bonus: if you eat at your desk and surf the web while you do, keep some actual "work" minimized so you can pull it up at any moment. Your boss will think you're a real go-getter because of your working lunch, while all those other shmoes will look like slackers.

How to Thai a tie

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-to-thai-tie.html
Most mature adult males, myself included, know how to tie a tie. However, I’d be willing to bet most people don’t know how to Thai a tie.

The Thai culture includes many diverse factors, but some standouts are the belief in Buddhism, an affinity for kite flying, and an enjoyment of Muay Thai, or Thai boxing. Pictures, representations or symbols of any of these, when stitched onto a silk tie, would help make a classy Thai tie—and that’s my kind of Thai tie. For the financially-impaired, any solid colored tie can be picked up from an outlet or thrift store, and can be modified using puff paint, Sharpie, or even washable markers, should you ever want to un-Thai your tie.

Now you can finally tell your parents you know how to Thai a tie. But what if they ask you to tie a Thai?

While we at MisusingBigWords don’t think you should ever tie someone up on the basis of nationality, we do understand that there are times when any person, regardless of race, gender, age, class, etc needs a good tying up. Whether you’re trying to prevent their escape or perhaps your agenda is a bit naughtier, here are the best ways to tie a Thai.

I personally am a fan of the Double Fishermen's Bend, mostly because the name sounds slightly kinky (though also slightly gay, which is unfortunate for me but perhaps fortunate for gays). The Trucker's Hitch just looks much too large with far too many loops to be usable, but if you’re into both decorative and useful, go for it. Another winner is the Figure Eight, or Flemish, Bend. Small and sturdy, but curvaceous, it adds some fun to Thai tying.

So you’re all set next time you need to tie a Thai. However there’s one more way to tie a Thai, and it doesn’t involve rope.

First, challenge a Thai person to a race or a game of some sort. Next, agree that there will be no extra innings, overtime, or sudden death of any kind. Finally, play well enough not to lose, but not good enough to win. In the end, you should have tied the Thai!

In closing, we at MisusingBigWords like to think outside the box, so we’ve provided you this creative education. We do not endorse harming yourself or others during any Thai-ing or tying of ties/Thais.

Mustache March, the beginning

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/03/mustache-march-beginning.html
Just call me “Patchy the Pirate.” (see picture below)

Well, don’t, actually. That was the name I went by for Halloween one year, when I tried to grow my beard out and after a month, I still had to smear mascara into the hairs because they were long but sparse.

The reason for this confession is so that you can better understand the sacrifice of dignity I’m making in preparation for this month: Mustache March.

Having heard of Octobeard before, I was somewhat familiar with the idea of facial hair-themed months, but I was unaware that it was such a phenomenon. And according to several people who posted on my company forum, Mustache March is just the beginning. Aside from the aforementioned Octobeard, there’s Neckbeard November, Fu Man-June, and at least eight other options, all of which need only either rhyme, alliterate or fit together into one word to be considered valid.

So, I’ve begun the growth period, and I invite all who read this to join me. If I’m willing to undergo countless jibes, jeers, and laughs in the face to stand up for the principle of Mustache March, then you should too. Whether it be for a greater moral good, or if it's just for fun, draw comfort from my strength. And just know, whenever you are feeling down, that somewhere out there is a man with a mustache that looks not like a mustache, but just a dirty face.

I'll be posting photos of myself throughout the growth process and giving weekly updates, and I encourage you to give updates as well via the comments sections. If you want to go the extra mile and take a photo of your 'stache-y goodness, send it to mark@misusingbigwords and I'll post it on the site. The best mustache we get this month we'll place prominently on the homepage for the entire month of April.

Patchy the Pirate
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