Monday, March 31, 2008

a stirring result

Well, friends, I have dipped my toes in the shallow end of the swimming pool that is POLLZ ON BLOGZ and I must say the water felt quite nice. Thanks to all who voted in the first ever TxtMsgBtl poll -- 129 people participated and the results were quite conclusive.


Suggested by my mother, this name seemed to have the perfect mix of coldness/forcefulness, an association to alcohol and a vague sexual connotation.

As one of my friends put it (in gchat): "haha / i also liked "stir" / i basically liked the ones that sounded the least sexual, but then were actually potentially really weirdly sexual."


Clearly, the elder members of my family knew what they were doing. Decoy was my dad's submission. And while I don't really get it (is the idea that the nightclub is a decoy for a better, more fun and more real nightclub?), I do think it has a cool sound to it.


Petal was my submission and it seems to have been a love/hate proposition for the voting masses. For everyone who told me they kind of had a soft spot for the most feminine of the choices, there was someone else who echoed the feelings of a different gchatting chum of mine: "I was thinking about it but then it seemed not 'cold' enough." Alas, my name was destined for the back of the pack.

I kind of wish I had submitted my second-choice name to the family pool: SANDBOX (tagline: "Play Nice").

For all of you mathematicians, here are the comprehensive results:

Friday, March 28, 2008

there's a reason we're not (facebook) friends

I just logged into Facebook and my eyes -- as they have for the past few days -- gravitated toward the new-fangled "People You May Know" feature on the right sidebar. I have held out on formulating an opinion on this new element (typically I hate new things without really considering them in any sort of thoughtful way). But, today, I decided I am justified in hating this offensive new addition to the Facebook universe. One of the three faces starting back at me like those black-and-white missing person faces on milk cartons was someone I used to be Facebook Friends with! (Side note: has anyone actually ever seen a missing person ad on a milk carton or does that just happen in movies?)

Now, I probably never would have known that Mickey McLoserson (not his real name) had performed the Facebook Avada Kedavra on me had it not been for this "People You May Know" nonsense. But thanks to this swell new feature (which, as far as I can tell, you can't get rid of) I now feel like a loser.

In looking through the other “suggestions” Facebook has for me, it looks like the People I May Know fit into a few categories:
1) people who I hear about all the time and would recognize on the street/at a party but who I have never talked to in my life and probably never will
2) people from high school who I didn't like or who didn't like me
3) people whose names sound really familiar but who look completely unfamiliar/weird
4) people who apparently unfriended me (i.e. Mickey McLoserson)

None of these categories of people are categories I want to be thinking about in the 5 minutes (5 minutes = 35 minutes) I spend on Facebook every day.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I'm not sure if this is weird or not, but I start to feel violently nauseous when I read a gmail banner ad of this ilk:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

you won't even have to change!

Of all the possible fake text messages that the creators of this Palm ad could have come up with, somehow they agreed upon: "Jen, it's 80's night. You won't even have to change!"

It will probably not surprise you that I spent way too long thinking about the possible implications of this weird, weird message. (You can click on the ad to make it larger.)

1) The sender (let's call her Catty Carmen) is being friendly. Maybe Catty Carmen and Jen spent the day together at a hippie arts festival or just finished a performance of a 80's-themed play. For whatever reasons, Jen is dressed like this. Carmen finds out that the ragin' party that night is all about the Eighties, so she quickly texts Jen to let her know that she needn't change -- she's just looking out for her gurl!

2) Catty Carmen is a bitch. Jen and Carmen used to be friends, but now they are enemies. Maybe Jen stole Carmen's apple-flavored lip gloss and never gave it back or Jen spread wild rumors about Carmen's fling with the Russian exchange student. We're talking Lauren-Heidi proportions here. Carmen saw Jen in the dining hall and totally made fun of her lame, try-hard outfit in front of everybody. And just because she's evil, Carmen sent Jen this text message to add insult to injury.

3) Catty Carmen is a liar. There is no 80's party. She just wants Jen to show up looking like a fool.

Monday, March 24, 2008

ZOMG -- our first ever POLL!

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gents... it's time for the first ever Text Message in a Bottle Poll!

One of the things I noticed in Vegas was that every single nightclub (and, lemme tell ya, there are a lot of nightclubs in Vegas) had the same kind of name.

The characteristics of a Vegas nightclub name:
1. one word
2. double meaning (usually sexual and/or alcohol-related)
3. sounds trendy/hip/cool
(Examples: Pure, Tryst, Bank, Blush)

Being the gamesman I am, I devised a little contest. Each member of my family had two days to come up with the best Vegas nightclub name they could possibly think up. After 48 hours of relentless brainstorming, we presented our names to one another at dinner two nights later. But being the competitive bunch we are, we craved a way to objectively judge which of our names was best. Hence, this poll! Vote now! In a week or so, the poll will be closed and I will reveal the results...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

stories that every publication on earth seems to feel the need to cover in the exact same way

1) Facebook! It's really popular! Lots of kids use it! And adults are using it now, too! It's changing the way we communicate! But don't forget about the PRIVACY ISSUES!

2) Britney Spears! The Downfall of a Pop Star! She used to be so famous and so successful! Now she's a mess! She's surrounded by paparazzi! She can't see her kids! She looks unkempt all the time! SHE DOESN'T WEAR SHOES IN PUBLIC!

3) The Record Industry is Dying! No one is buying CDs anymore! iPods are really popular!

4) Blogs! Everyone has a blog! There are blogs about politics! There are blogs about celebrities! There are funny blogs! There are serious blogs! Blog, blog, blog, new media, blog, blog, youth culture, blog, blog!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

weird things that are commonplace in vegas

1) There are slot machines everywhere. The first thing you see when you walk off the airplane (pictured below): slots! slots! slots!

At first, the slot-mania is disconcerting. (They make weird noises! They're ugly! Who the hell plays slot machines anyway?) But a day or two later, they become familiar... and, dare I say it, sorta comforting? And now, five days into my trip, I have found that I am weirded out if there aren't slot machines lining the ginormous hotel lobbies (that essentially double as the walkways/throughways) in Vegas. I find strength in their garish lights.

2) Everyone is absurdly friendly. You wait in line for a soda and then find yourself having a 7-minute convo with the soda-seller chick because she's asking you all kinds of questions you (me) don't want to answer. The most common questions:
- "Where are you from?" (inoffensive most of the time; annoying when phrased "Where do you call home?")
- "Is this your first time in Vegas?" (annoying all the time; I will never get why people ask this question - no matter what you answer, there is never a follow-up!)

3) People dress like this (below)... and no one notices.
4) Taxi drivers (all of them) talk and talk and talk. They either try to impart little aphorisms ("Everything in Vegas is either a short cab ride or a long walk"), rage through excessively long diatribes ("See those condos being built near the Miracle Mile -- doomed to fail, I tell you!") or say the same thing ("I want to see 'Jersey Boys'") in thirteen different ways until you figure it would be less stressful to just walk and avoid the whole interaction.

5) You overhear conversations like the following in the elevator (between a 40-something/smug/sunburned guy and his 20-something/visor-clad/blond companion -- both schlepping luggage):
Man: So, honey... another year, another shoot, huh?
Woman smiles, lips pursed, and pats his stomach.
Man: So... do you think next year is going to be clothes or no clothes?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

honest to blog

It's almost too perfect that Juno's Ellen Page's parents are a graphic designer (father) and teacher (mother).


I had forgotten just how awesome buffets are. Yesterday, with about 45 minutes allotted for eating, my family dined at Cravings (PERFECT NAME), this all-you-can-eat buffet palace in some hotel.

Reasons Buffets are GREAT:

1) You can be a slob at a restaurant and it is totally normal. I must have gotten like 7 plates covered in food. I ate like a ravenous monkey, mixing mashed potatoes with guacamole, dunking my chicken in hummus. THE RULES DO NOT EXIST IN BUFFETS. When the waitress came to take away out 679 plates, she didn't so much as bat an eyelash.

2) Buffets allow you to sample foods you never normally would get to try. For example, I like ribs but I don't love ribs. Whenever I see ribs on a menu, I usually come up with some excuse/reason why I shouldn't order them (too messy, not in the mood, they will dissapoint, there is something that looks more promising, etc.) But at Cravings, I totally got two ribs and put them on a plate. Because I could!

3) The first bite of any (reasonably tasty) food is always the best bite. Normally, at a given meal, you get two, maybe three, first bites. At a buffet, however, you get that first bite instant pleasure OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Monday, March 17, 2008

'cause there ain't no doubt i love this land

So Text Message in a Bottle (a.k.a me) is in Las Vegas now with his family so I'll be bloggin' from Vegas for the next week as frequently as I can. Maybe I should change the name for the week? Slot Machine in a Half Yard Glass? Show Girl in a Shot Glass? Any other ideas?

Anyway, I'm taking copious notes in my trusty blog journal (blurnal?) so y'all are in for a lot of Vegas-inspired observations over the next few days.

At dinner last night, our table looked out on the "lake" in front of our hotel. Every 15 minutes, there is this ridiculous, intense "fountain show" in which these massive fountains sprout out from the lake. Everyone in our restaurant turned their heads in rapturous attention at each eruption, drool dripping from their mouths as if they had never seen/tasted/etc. water before. (I was sitting with my back to the window and was forced to choose between craning my neck around to look every 15 minutes or just concentrating really hard on eating while everyone else looked. I chose the latter each and every time.)

Anyway, our waiter came over at the beginning of the meal and was super outgoing (which seems to be the case with most Vegas waiters) and was blabbin' on about the fountains. My dad, who considers himself something of a Vegas expert, looked up from his menu and asked -- in that condescending way people do when they think they already know the answer to a question -- "The fountains light up in colors when it gets dark, right?"

"No, no, of course not" Bubbly Waiter responded, with a hearty laugh. "If you think about it, that would be kind of tacky."
Really, Bubbly Waiter?! That would be tacky?! If the lights were colored, that would be the one thing that would tip the fountain show IN FRONT OF THE FAKE EIFFEL TOWER from "totally normal" to "tacky"?!

I went out to take the above picture of the fountain show for this post tonight and was surrounded by 60 or so mostly foreign tourists crazily snapping photos of the fountains and the Eiffel Tower replica as "God Bless America" blared over the loud speakers. I have only been in this city for a day and half and I can say with some confidence that I'm pretty sure this scene sums this place up pretty nicely.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

ways i procrastinated from writing my senior essay today

1) I took two showers. (The first one I justified as my "daily shower." The second I justified by convincing myself it would wake me up. Sadly, it did no such thing.)

2) I made three new iTunes playlists which are titled "XCITEMENT" (no "e," obviously), "short list" (only for the most valued of songs) and "fun new songs" (apparently my creative stamina is only about a playlist-and-a-half long).

3) I scrolled through my entire collection of photos twice with the vague goal of finding a new Facebook profile picture.

4) I started at the Wikipedia page for "Alanis Morissette" and found myself 25 minutes later watching a Youtube video of the classic TLC song "Waterfalls."

5) I "took a break" from my "intensive writing" to watch LOST.

6) [META ALERT!] I wrote this blog post!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

one, two, three, four

There are not very many things in life that I whole-heartedly and fully believe in. Hummus, Britney Spears and "Lost" are the things that come to mind immediately. But right up there with that lofty trio is - wait for it - iTunes Music Library play counts. I am obsessive about my play counts. Always have been. Always will be.

Now, as a general rule, I'm not really that ridiculous when it comes to my mp3s. I could care less about album artwork - don't matter to me if the right album cover is showing while I run to that song from the new iPod commercial. Same with "genre" or any of that other information that gets added on to each song.

But I need my play counts to accurately reflect how many times I have listened to a song. It is imperative. If I download a mp3 of Hip New Band's single from some blog and listen to it 34 times and then buy Hip New Band's album two months later when it comes out on the iTunes Music Store, I will delete the blog-posted single that I had imported and then play that song from the album I just downloaded 34 times so it reflects the 34 times I have already listened to the song.

There are few things I find more instantly pleasurable than looking at my Top 25 Most Played list and thinking about what it says about me, or how it's changed since the last time I viewed it. I think you can tell a lot about someone from their Top 25 Most Played songs. Actually, I don't really think that. But it's still fun to do.

Monday, March 10, 2008

pointy objects and minty foam

It is well-documented in sitcoms, stand-up comedy routines and dentist movies (!?!) that dental hygienists/dentists like to ask you questions when they have tools or devices in your mouth. You try to answer them but can't because there is stuff in your mouth. The dentist asks if you just garbled the word "Popsicle" and you shake your head. "Oh, did you say 'Mex-i-co'...?" You nod your head. The whole thing is just so what you expect that it's not even really that awkward.

But today while I was getting my teeth cleaned, something really weird happened. The hygienist -- whose name, fo' realz, is Linda Lamb -- and I did our usual back-and-forth when I entered the room. ("You're a senior now?!?!?!?!" "When did you get to be so tall?!?!?" "If you could become a color, which would you choose?!") When I sat in the chair and she started working my teeth over with that monster toothbrush thing, I was waiting for her inevitable, unanswerable questions. She delivered by asking what kinds of things I'd be doing in Las Vegas (where my family is going for vacation next week).

"Are you guys going to gamble?" she asked. I shook my head. Even though I knew it would be physically impossible for me to respond verbally what with the pointy objects and minty foam taking my mouth hostage, I gargled a totally unintelligible response (because that's what you're supposed to do in these situations, right?). Except instead of trying to interpret what I had half-moaned or just waiting until she was done cleaning to find out my riveting answer to her question, she instead stopped what she was doing, turned off Mr. Monster Brush and removed everything from my mouth. I realized that she was doing this just so I could respond to her question.

"Now you can talk," she smiled.
"Uhhh... I was just going to say that we're going to see some shows," I stammered.
"Shows, huh?" she asked.

And with that, satisfied, she turned the Monster Brush back on and resumed cleaning the rest of my top set of chompers.

I learned something important today. It's fun to laugh and gesticulate and talk to people about how annoying it is when you can't answer hygienists' questions because they are cleaning your teeth. But what I learned today is something I never would have guessed: it is more annoying when they actually do let you answer.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

sneaks on a train

I love these two women (strangers) who are sitting on the train behind my friends.

There is always a choice to make when you realize you are inadvertently in someone else's photograph. You can say something/try to move out of the way/look down -- anything that somehow reduces/avoids your intrusion in the picture. OR... you can choose what these two women chose and say "You know what? Life is short. I am about to be in this total stranger's picture and I am going to own it. Hells ya! I am going to smile and look really cute and I'm gonna pose for that freakin' picture like I am Tyra fuckin' Banks. "

Thursday, March 6, 2008

all stressed out and no one to choke

Last Wednesday evening, I ate dinner at Naples (now officially called Wall Street Pizza or something weird/serious-sounding like that) with a group of friends. Though there were many things at Naples for us to be struck by (the fact that they use a loudspeaker to let you know your food is ready; the fact that it feels more like a train station than a restaurant), we were most captivated by the mirthful woman working behind the counter. She was wearing a tight t-shirt with the phrase "I'm really pleased to meet you. You seem very interesting." emblazoned on it -- but the seven letters which stood out in white - I ' M L Y I N G - sent a very different message.

I immediately became obsessed with this woman. Her job is to greet customers and be friendly and put them in a happy mood that makes them want to order lots and lots of greasy pizza. Yet her shirt was basically saying "I hate you. I hate my job. Get the frak out of here."

I couldn't get her out of my head the next day, so I forced my roommate to go back to Naples with me for dinner the next night. My obsession smiled at me as I stood in line. I smiled back not to be friendly, but because she was wearing another message t-shirt! This one said, in a pretty small font, something to the effect of: "You are leaning really close to read this t-shirt. You probably think there is going to be a really funny message here but you are wrong. You look dumb. Now you just feel stupid for wasting the time to read this whole thing and for looking like an idiot. And everyone is looking at you thinking to themselves that you look like a fool. Now back up!"

I had fallen in love. I told everyone about her in the way that people do after they go on a really good first date.

On Monday I got the following text from my brother while I was eating in the dining hall: "At Naples. Her shirt says 'All stressed out and no one to choke.'" I nearly spit out the soda in my mouth.

All week I've been working up the courage to go into Naples and interview her, under the guise of asking her questions for a "class project" about "restaurants in New Haven."

So tonight, at around 8:30 p.m., after waiting in line for like 7 minutes behind these two girls with heavy British accents ordering milkshakes, I finally reached my unknowing love.

And, my friends, I now present to you the first ever Text Message in a Bottle Interview! (I was like freakishly awkward/nervous and didn't have the guts to ask for her name or picture. Perhaps though, if our "friendship" continues, I will be able to share these things with you at a future date.)

Me: So how long have you been working here?
Her: About three months.
Me: So, I, uh, I really like your message t-shirts. That's why I wanted to interview you for this project.
Her: [broad smile] Awww, thanks.
Me: Do you wear one every day?
Her: Yeah.
Me: That's great. Do people usually say anything to you when they see them?
Her: Oh, yeah. Everyone says something. How could you not?
Me: Quite true.
Her: Sometimes they don't agree with them though when I wear, you know, a controversial one. Like a few days ago I wore one that said 'All stressed out and no one to choke' and people definitely gave me some looks. I think they might have thought it was mean. But it wasn't, you know?
Me: [laughing way louder and way more obviously than I have in a long time] Yeah! What's your favorite one?
Her: Oh, it's gotta be 'I'm in shape. . . round is a shape!"
Me: HA.
Her: They're just great conversation starters.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

that's what friends are for

I've seen my share of strange cereal nomenclature, but this may take the cake... or, rather, erm, the milk part of the cake. (BAD JOSH! NO MORE FORCED PUNS!)

In all seriousness, this is the weirdest name I have ever encountered for a food product. In case the slight blurriness of the photograph is causing reading difficulty, this cereal is called "Good Friends."

1) This is a cereal for cannibals. "Hey Petra, let's eat some 'Good Friends.' I hear if you mix in some bananas and milk, it goes down pretty easily."
2) This is the cereal you should only eat with your good friends. It would be so awkward to eat this with someone you aren't friends with, right? You would both be silently munching as you stare at the box, thinking about how your friendship with the person sitting next to you is NOTHING LIKE the sunny, beautiful, awesome friendship the two cover models have got going on.
3) This is the cereal to eat with the person you are having an affair with. Because, c'mon now, those two are totally banging, right? Look at those smiles! You know woman on the left got home from the cereal box cover shoot and was like "Hey, Harold" in this really quiet voice as she filed through the mail. Harold looked up and said, "How was the shoot?" "Oh, it was fine," she replied. "And how was Maxwell?" "WE'RE JUST GOOD FRIENDS, HAROLD! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT!?" she bellowed, before storming out of the living room into her bedroom and slamming the door.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

the lyrical wasteland

Everyone has their websites for certain things.

You like Rotten Tomatoes; I like Metacritic. You're a MySpace Mary; I'm a Facebook Fred. You're all about Expedia; I book my flizzights on Travelocity yo. You swear by Fandango; I GO TO MOVIETICKETS.COM!

You get the gist. If there is something I want to find online, I have a website that I go to find it.

, for some reason, when it comes to finding lyrics to songs online, the rules inexplicably go out the window. I know no lyrics websites. If I want to figure out what exactly Britney just cooed, I type a few words from the song or "Britney Spears + lyrics" into my Google search bar and, eventually, I end up at some weird, bizarre, ugly lyrics website. There are pop up ads everywhere ("Click on the real Kate Hudson!" "Lose 45 Poundz by Klicking Here" "TXT 6873473953 4 FREE RING TONES"). The text is written in some strange, bold hot pink font. I feel slightly dirty just being there. I check the lyric I was curious about (she really is saying "sneak away to the Philippines") and then I click out of it as quickly as possible and take a deep breath.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

one missed call

Here's how it goes:

You have a straight-forward question that you need answered. You need to know if you left your keys in Tonya's apartment. You need the name of that guy who came to speak to your seminar freshman spring. You need the phone number of Ken's roommate.

You flip through your contacts in your phone and find that acquaintance -- Forgettable Fran -- who you haven't seen in a few weeks and who you never call but, by George, she used to date Ken's roommate and totally has his number. So you give her a call. But she doesn't pick up. You don't leave a message, so you then call Silvana (in Ken's roommate's residential college). You get the number, you call Ken's roommate and your problem has been solved.

But, my friends, the awkwardness has only just begun! Because two hours later, Forgettable Fran calls you back. You twitch slightly when you see her name on your cell phone. You don't need her anymore. But, if you don't pick up, the next time you run into Fran on the street, she is totally going to be all like "Hey, why'd you call me the other day?" and you have to stop and chat and explain that you needed Ken's roommate's number and, honestly, who needs that?

So you pick up the phone.

You: "Hey Forgettable Fran!'
FF: "Hey. . . so, uh, I saw you called."
You: "Oh, yeah, I just had a quick question. But I got it answered."
FF: "Oh, what was it?"

No matter what, the Forgettable Frans of the world will always ask you what the question was. No point in even trying to side-step it.

You: Oh, I just needed Ken's roommate's number. But I got it from Silvana, so, yeah.... uh, thanks for calling me back though.
FF: Oh. . .

At this point, you just have to say something else. There is a part of you that, despite yourself, feels bad for sort of using FF, for calling her for such a mundane reason, for not having e-mailed her back last October when she wanted to get lunch, for totally not inviting her to your 21st birthday party dinner. You have to say something else.

You: So, uh, how's senior year going?
FF: Oh, great. Yeah - great. You?
You: Oh, you know, I'm really busy. But everything's great.

Two seconds of silence.

You: Well, thanks a lot, Fran. I'll, uh, see you around.

And then you just have to hang up before Fran even has a chance to say goodbye because it's all just too much to bear.