Tuesday, October 30, 2007

to the left, to the left

I derive great pleasure from watching the faces of kids around a seminar table when a professor/student passes around some kind of artifact/postcard/strange object. As the artifact gets passed around the table, each student examines it as if he is a laboratory scientist -- picking it up, shaking it, holding it up to his ear. In actual fact, no one has any idea what the object is or why it matters and no one was paying attention to the professor's explanation in the first place -- but that doesn't stop everyone from treating the reproduction of a Guatemalan wood carving as one would a precious golden snitch, with a furrowed brow, careful fingertips and pursed lips.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

a cookie with an aftertaste

I have often bemoaned the fact that the fortunes in fortune cookies are annoyingly sunny or cryptic. I feel like every fortune is some sort of variation on either "You will be happy soon" or "Life is a river that we all must paddle down." Sure, every once in a while you get a fortune that totally applies to your life at the moment or a tart/witty fortune that makes you smile - but those moments are rare.

Considering my displeasure with the general fortune cookie landscape, I was shocked tonight when - after a mildly nauseating meal of sesame chicken, dumplings and strange sauces - I opened my fortune to find the following:

I reread it twice. This is a fortune with some verve, I thought, a prognosis with an acid tongue! Aside from the irony of a restaurant that serves greasy/fatty food telling you to go on a diet in the near future, I was impressed - this Chinese restaurant (or, at least, the fortune cookie supplier to this Chinese restaurant) had some gumption. "You are getting chubby," it seemed to say.

Completely thrilled and pumped with adrenaline, I stole a fortune cookie from the person sitting next to me and ripped it apart. Lo and behold, I came upon the next gem:

I am not kidding when I say this was the most awesome thing that has happened to me in at least the past week. These fortunes were kicking my ass! "You're as bad as the rest of 'em," it scolded. And, let me tell you, being scolded by a fortune after years of being patted on the head felt OH SO GOOD.

cereal on earth

Gourmet Heaven, Whitney Avenue, 8:12 p.m.

Yes, this is called "Peace Cereal." And yes, "10% OF PROFITS DONATED TO PEACE."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

only in the movies. . .

So I saw the George Clooney vehicle "Michael Clayton" last night (excellent flick, though Ms. Gavin and I took issue with some unresolved threads and a questionable ending).

Anyways, watching the complicated thriller made me contemplate things that only happen in the movies.

1) Answering machines play voice mails out loud as they are being left. (This one bugs me so much - have any of you actually seen one of these in the past ten years?!? NO!)

2) People make comments out loud -- such as "Bitch!" or "Dammit" or "Well, that changes things. . ." -- after hanging up the phone, even though there is no one else around.

3) Little kids and really old men say astoundingly smart/witty/wise things that make others do things like quit smoking, finally ask out that girl of their dreams or tell their boss the truth.

4) People read letters out loud to themselves.

5) Attractive men get onto elevators right before they are about to close only to find pretty, single, confused women standing there with doe eyes and pouting lips.

Monday, October 22, 2007

things i really need to stop doing (but never will)

1) dropping my cell phone

2) spelling the word "tonight" as "tonite" in text messages

3) reading spoilers online for television shows

4) exclaiming "Oh, I love this song" every time I hear a song I somewhat like and there are people around

5) leaving voice mails that last longer than 2 minutes

Saturday, October 20, 2007

things i find depressing

1) I just spent about 20 seconds unsuccessfully trying to insert my ATM card into the machine before I realized I had been jamming in my Starbucks gift card.

2) Yesterday, the woman who swipes your cards when you walk into the TD dining hall had a copy of the New Haven Register on her desk. All of the enclosed spaces in the letters ("a," "g," "e," etc.) of the headline ("Tragedy in the Sound") were filled in with red pen.

3) This is a picture of the menu at Miso, a respectable and expensive Japanese restaurant.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

the curious incident of the dog in the fire-suit

Old Campus, 1:31 p.m.

How much do you want to bet this guy came in last in the Fire Station Fantasy Baseball pool?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


gchat conversation with brother, 1:23 p.m.

i'm going to close my compuer an dtry to pay attention
no i 'm not

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

the intersection of hunger and embarrassment

I believe that there are few experiences more dreadful than when you are talking to someone/sitting in class/watching a movie/whatever and your stomach starts audibly grumbling.

At the initial onset, you want to believe that it will just subside. You check your watch, hoping there are only five minutes left in class (no dice: still 35 minutes to go). You try to think about last night's episode of The Office or focus your attention on the slide about the Mere Exposure Effect. None of this works. In fact, it all just serves to make you panic more about the fact that your stomach sounds like a monster truck revving its engines.

You try to do things that will make noise to mask the sound of your stomach so that Cute Cindy who is texting in the seat in front of you or Hunky Harry who is checking Facebook two seats to your right doesn't hear your belly growling. So you cough loudly or accidentally "drop" your notebook and retrieve it, in attempts to drown out the symphony in your stomach. This doesn't work either.

Finally, you give up and let your hunger be known or, rather, heard. At this point, your acquaintance sitting next to you who you don't even really like will sometimes say "Oh, didn't get to breakfast this morning, huh?" or "I can't wait for lunch either" and you will want to slap him. Or (and this is the worst of all), friend-to-your-left just won't say anything at all, awkwardly doodling in her notebook or gazing with faux interest at the professor as your stomach gets its groove on.

Then - of course - class ends, everyone files out and your stomach immediately stops making noise.

Monday, October 15, 2007

the life and times of spraying sally

Wall Street, 4:46 p.m.

I was walking down Wall Street pretending to talk on my cell phone (I am an anti-social Josh at my core) when I saw this woman (see left) leaning over the lawn to the side of Woodbridge Hall.

I watched like the stalkerazzo I am as she opened her soda and then jerked her head back as the soda sprayed everywhere across the lawn. It literally sprayed for like 35 seconds. I have no idea what on earth Spraying Sally was doing with the soda before she decided to water the grass but it must have been pretty extreme. When she finally looked up from her mini-explosion, she rocked the smug "I just did something naughty" smile - especially jarring on her 60-year-old wrinkled face - and kept on walking toward the Law School. Her soda was only a quarter full.

blue barracudas

I am astounded by how often the following things come up in casual conversation:

1) Dunkaroos
2) "Legends of the Hidden Temple"
3) L.A. Lights sneakers
4) Gushers
5) Tamagotchis
6) "Clarissa Explains It All"
7) Oregon Trail

And it's always the same inane set up, too.

"Oh my god, do you guys remember 'Legends of the Hidden Temple'?"

People nod and laugh, oddly enthusiastically.

"Yeah, totally! I was so obsessed with that show. I used to watch it every night."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

star struck

On Friday afternoon, I found myself about five feet from Jack Nicholson in the Silliman Couryard.


1) He is much smaller and less imposing than I would have imagined based on the deranged, larger-than-life characters he so often plays (see "The Departed").

2) His daughter's hair was a blinding shade of platinum blond.

3) Yes, he was wearing those dark sunglasses he always wears (see left). (I find it somewhat weird that this is the first question most people have asked me after I tell them I saw Jack.)

4) When I found myself silently gawking with my jaw dropped as I held the gate open for Jack and his entourage, I considered just how often celebrities must encounter that expression. They must be so used to being looked at as if they were peacocks in a zoo that it probably seems weird/jarring when someone looks at them normally.

Friday, October 12, 2007

the kindness of strangers

Taft Cosmetics, Whitney Ave.

approx. 4:24 p.m. this afternoon

The cashier - a cute, bored 20-something girl with a nose ring - is fumbling with the medium-sized piece of white posterboard I am buying. After she finally scans it, she awkwardly attempts to roll it up, before just giving up and handing it to me. At this point, the short woman behind me in line - we'll call her "The Pay It Forward Princess" - speaks up.

PIFP: "Oh, all you need is a hair elastic or something and you could just use that to roll it up."

The cashier and I just sort of stare at her. "Why is she speaking?" we think to ourselves. PIFP sticks her stubby hand out into the air.

PIFP: "Wait - look at my hand." (She takes off the black hair elastic around her wrist and offers it to me.) "Here - you can use this!"

Me: "Oh, no - it's OK! You don't need to give it to me."

PIFP: "No, no, it's yours now. I'm giving it to you now and then you can someday pass it on. You know, pay it forward."

I do that awkward fake laugh thing and sheepishly take the hair elastic. The cashier's expression has not changed. I roll up the posterboard, using PIFP's hair elastic, and move to walk out the store.

PIFP: "Enjoy!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

grated cheese

me: the author of the next chapter of my con bio textbook is "camille parmesan"
Sam: sounds like a character from ratatouille

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

one or the other

Depending on one's mood, the following exchange can either be eerily uplifting or distinctly distressing:

11:02 p.m., walking out of the Silliman gate in the rain

Plump Security Guard with a Side Pony-Tail: "You look like you've had a long day."

Me: "I have. I have."

PSG with a SPT: "Well don't let the rain get you down."

Monday, October 8, 2007

things i don't like

1) People who respond to a text message with a phone call, and vice versa

2) The inexplicable popularity of Jessica Alba

3) The red "busy" status on gchat, and those who utilize it

4) Plots in which a character loses his memory and must use clues to reconstruct his life

5) Beginnings