Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Northeasterner’s Opinion on LA Fashion and Style

I was born and raised in New Jersey and before moving to LA last week had spent the last few years in Virginia. For me, decisions such as how to dress have always been based on one very simple question, “What do the ladies like?” In the straight laced Commonwealth of Virginia, this usually meant khaki pants, a button down shirt, and combed hair.

I wore this type of ensemble my very first night out in LA and it did not go over well, for it seems the women of Hollywood have embraced a look somewhere between multi-million dollar rock star and down and out homeless guy.

All night long I could see girls glancing at my hair and thinking, “Oh my God, you’ve gotten a haircut in the past month.” Then they would move down to my outfit, terribly disappointed that there were no visible holes or other indicators that I had slept in my clothes for the previous week.

Finally, they would move in for the ultimate test, getting close enough to realize that the smell emanating from my body was, gasp, soap! I had inadvertently committed the ultimate sin and bathed before the night’s festivities began.

Based on my research there are a few pointers I would give to anybody who wants to dress to impress on the LA club scene:

-Get tattoos. Lots of them. They don’t need to be good, relevant, or even identifiable, there just needs to be a lot of ink covering your arms, legs, and preferably neck.

-Wear an undershirt as a shirt. Once you’ve gone out and bought a six pack of wife beaters at the local Target don’t overcomplicate things by putting on a shirt over them. Keep it simple stupid.

- Stretch your earlobes with hideous metal piercings. A few weeks ago I would’ve wondered why anyone would want to do this. No longer. I now realize this is a great way to meet people. You can have conversations like, “Have you seen my earlobes? Oh, their hanging down by my chin. Thank you so much. It’s so hard to keep track of them these days.”

Those are my best observations thus far for anyone new trying to fit in with the fashion and style of Los Angeles. Rest assured that I will remain vigilant, and keep an eye out for any new trends that may emerge.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I found a guy on Craig’s List who will give me free tattoos in exchange for a couple platonic massages on his futon. Wish me luck.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why Presidential Politics & Professional Wrestling Don't Mix

In case you missed it last night, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain all appeared on World Wrestling Entertainment's Monday Night Raw program. As a man of the people and staunch populist, I concede that there is definitely something engaging about multi-millionaire presidential wannabes taking time out of their quest for the most powerful office in the world to pander directly to the unique block of voters who watches professional wrestling. While there was no face paint or spandex-that we know of-each of the three candidates mixed in catch phrases that would be near and dear to the hearts of WWE viewers.

Now, I'm not going to take this opportunity to trash professional wrestling fans as backwoods driving, confederate flag waving, Slim Jim eating, chromosome lacking, meth baking hicks, who would have a far better idea of what to do in their sister's bedroom than a voting booth. Okay, I couldn't resist, but let me confess that I used to be an avid supporter of WWE back when it was the World Wrestling Federation, and I still occasionally watch in hopes of spotting my favorite grappler, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, who must be closing in on 70 years old.

The problem I have with this situation is the same I have with George W. Bush and the anti-intellectual factions that are quick to denounce any activity that requires one to wear a shirt as being both un-American and not in touch with the real people in the heartland. To me, presidential discourse and debate should be conducted at an extremely high level in terms of the language used, the issues discussed, and the forum selected. Instead of having an election that has devolved into nothing but wrestling promos, Daily Show guest spots, and Saturday Night Live skits, perhaps the candidates could actually spend that time opining on what to do about the plethora of issues facing our country.

Unfortunately, some will label my views as elitist, but I believe that sentiment could not be further from the truth. While I would like to see the quality of the political debate raised, I am also for increasing access to that debate. In a perfect world, it would be nice to see coverage that goes beyond twenty second sound bites, and really allows candidates a chance to lay out their proposals.

Secondly, and let me make this abundantly clear, presidents and presidential candidates are not like you and I, no matter how folksy they try to appear. So let’s end the charade of them pretending to be regular people, and hold them to a higher standard befitting a world leader. Perhaps having to look upwards instead of downwards when listening to our political candidates might raise the rest of us up in the process.

I realize my assertion that presidential candidates have no place in wrestling runs into a bit of slippery slope, and one might ask where the proverbial line is drawn. I'll be the first to admit that I cannot say with certainty in all instances whether a TV show or engagement is befitting of presidential politics. However, I can say with the utmost confidence that if the program involves one of the candidates asking the audience repeatedly if they can "smell what he is cooking?," then that is a solid indicator the line has been crossed.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

9 Signs Your Boss Thinks You're An Idiot

If you notice three or more of the following, it is time for you to start looking for a new place of employment. If you regularly experience all nine, like me, then I would skip any spontaneous meetings called by Human Resources.

1). He compares you to Jim Halpert from The Office. A brief description of Jim: "A seven-year veteran of Dunder Mifflin, Jim insists the job is just an extended stop on his career path and once stated that if it were his career, he would throw himself in front of a train."

2). He enters your cube without knocking and simply stands behind you for several seconds with a perverse look on his face, swaying back and forth like a giddy school girl at a Justin Timberlake concert. He breaks the silence by asking, "Whatcha doing?," hoping beyond all hope that it's something not work related.

3). He tells you that you look bored in meetings, and that he knows you care, however you don't show it, and he's just telling you this because he wants other people to know how much you care. Sadly, for the record, you don't care.

4). He'll grow frustrated speaking with you and change the topic of the conversation from the project at hand to sports, leaning back into his chair and letting out a sigh, while asking your opinion of the playoffs, or Super Bowl predictions for 2011.

5). He uses you in analogies to describe tasks that are impossible. For example, with a deadline he believes cannot be met, he'll say something along the lines of, "That would be like asking Bradley to write a Supreme Court brief." After a moment of awkward silence, he'll feel bad, and come clean that he probably couldn't write a Supreme Court brief either.

6). He'll blatantly spy on you and then pretend to have randomly discovered the information in the course of his day. So he might say, "I was just talking with Mr. Smith about an unrelated matter, and you're name came up, and Mr. Smith told me that you need to be more of a presence in the room when you lead meetings." Translation: "I had specifically instructed Mr. Smith to watch every second of your performance before reporting back to me with a detailed e-mail, in which he noted that your meeting lacked the spirit crushing formality and anal reminders that are hallmarks of the legal profession."

7). He tells stories where the "whole team" was working really hard, but stops to point out that you were not present. He then goes on a tangent to describe what you were doing instead of work, ie attending a hockey game, going out to dinner with family, sitting in a room alone while having sexual thoughts about the corporate logo.

8). He vaguely mentions a promotion during a random office conversation, and never re-visits the topic again. When you try to bring up the subject months later, he makes blanket pronouncements about how cost concerns are putting a freeze on advancement for current employees. Two weeks later your co-worker, who has been wtih the company half the time you have, is promoted.

9). He tells you that he foresees you someday in a position with the government, basically saying you are lazy, wasteful, and lacking the intellectual capacity to hold down a private sector job where one can be let go for such shortcomings.

Feel free to add your own signs.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Online Dating Lessons: A Picture Is Worth More Than A 1,000 Words

Between 2003 and 2005, I posted profiles on numerous internet dating sites. From the mainstream cattle call that is Match.com, to the oddball appeal of the Onion personals, to the Hassidic loving goodness surrounding J-Dates, if there was a web site out there where one could insert a picture and a 300 word description, then I was probably on it.

The allure of these sites did not stem from personal desperation or the quest for a soul mate, but rather from my own notions of maximized efficiency. In other words, I liked the idea that while I was working, driving, or even sleeping, there was still a part of me out there trying to pick up women.

During these two years I learned that these women in question are, to nobody’s surprise, a mixed bag of varying quality, both in terms of physical appearance and personality. Being a shallow man, the main tool at my disposal for separating the wheat from the chaff was pictures, as I would generally ignore the written word in favor of time spent gawking at the professional pic, the party pic, and, with any luck, the much cherished bikini pic.

So for those still involved in the online dating scene, here is a little wisdom on interpreting photos from a guy who learned that one person’s “average” can very easily be another’s “morbidly obese.”


The head shot-A close up that extends from the forehead to the chin, usually not revealing anything more than a neckline. If she’s consistently hiding her body that means she’s either tired of men drooling over her flab free curves and ignoring her mind, or she’s got a lot to hide. In the online world, assuming the latter is a pretty safe bet.

The princess shot-Usually these girls will be preening in their most expensive outfits and on occasion they go so far as to actually wear a tiara, just in case you don’t get that they think of themselves as having descended from noble bloodlines, and thus should be treated in a manner consistent with their lofty heritage. Warning: If you ask these girls why a princess studies psychology at the local community college and drives an Accord they can be quick to anger.

The funny face shot-Some women really like to show their personality by making a goofball expression that distorts their features and inspires a chuckle, but sadly they are frequently the only ones amused. If I want a girl to make me laugh I’ll watch Sarah Silverman, otherwise, I would like to know what her face looks like with her eyes pointed forward and her tongue somewhere near her mouth.

The I’m with a guy shot-These lasses will frequently be shown sitting on the lap of that special someone, in a moment of affection probably mere seconds prior to him hauling her into the nearest rest room and ravishing her. This picture on a dating site evokes a common misunderstanding between the sexes, so allow me to clarify: When a woman sees a guy with a girl she is intrigued, when a man sees a girl with a guy he couldn't care less.

The I’m with a baby shot-A lot of girls will pose with children who don’t belong to them, which I’ve always found weird. Call me crazy, but when I first evaluate a girl, in person or online, my mental checklist isn’t hometown, favorite movie, skills necessary to effectively nurture offspring and ensure their sustained growth even in the harshest conditions. Check.

The I’m with my pet shot-These photos normally feature a proud pet owner cradling Fido or Meme the cat against their cheek so tenderly that it resembles an almost filial embrace. This type of girl already has love, which means that you will always be the clear #2 in her life to an animal that spends much of its day scavenging the carpet for crumbs and licking its crotch, behaviors she will surely not tolerate out of you. Think of your role more along the lines of financial support and potential breeding stock.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How To Survive A Home Invasion

I live in a supposedly safe neighborhood in the suburbs of Virginia, but on a chilly Saturday afternoon this illusion was shattered. It was 4pm and I was taking a nap, exhausted after having been awake for two hours that day, when I was roused from my slumber by the apartment door being opened. The footsteps grew louder as they moved from the hallway to the living room, the kitchen, and, ultimately, the bathroom, which is located adjacent to my bedroom. I then heard the bathroom door slam shut followed by the ding of the toilet seat being lowered.

At this point most people might start to panic, but my first reaction was more of annoyance at my nap being disturbed. In my groggy state, I probably figured that one of the Mexican laborers employed by the complex just needed a quick bathroom break. After the swoosh from the toilet my confidence in this theory rose before being dashed after hearing the distinctive spray of moisture pelt the tile walls that encase the tub. Using my toilet was one thing, but apparently a shower is where I draw the line, so I got out of bed and knocked on the bathroom door.

"Hey man, what are you doing in my bathroom?" I yelled, until a slew of non-sensical gibberish erupted from the other side. It was at this moment I decided I needed help, so I grabbed my cell phone and ran outside to call 911.

911: Arlington 911 what is your emergency?

Me: There is an intruder inside my apartment.

911: Okay sir. Are you still in the apartment?

Me: No, I'm outside. The intruder is in the apartment in my bathroom.

911: The intruder is in your bathroom?

Me: Yes, he's taking a shower.

911: A shower (mumbles)...What was he doing before taking a shower?

Me: He was...he was using my toilet.

911: Oh.


Me: Can you send somebody?

911: Um, yes, we'll have somebody over there right away sir. Stay calm.

Ten minutes later I was joined by two squad cars in the driveway. Four officers emerged and made their way to meet me. Three of the officers were overweight, middle-aged women, and the other was an elderly gentleman celebrating his last day on the job.

Once I updated the officers on the situation, they decided that "we" should check it out. Following police protocol, I led the officers into my apartment where we encountered a middle-aged African gentleman emerging from my shower, clothed in nothing but one of my towels. In his right hand was a half-empty beer from my fridge. Obviously comfortable in his surroundings, he glanced at us and indignantly asked, "What are you doing in my father's apartment?"

The four officers looked at me until I took the opportunity to remind them that this was in fact my apartment, and they should probably apprehend the intruder. They moved in to corner the invader and were met with resistance. A struggle ensued and the result was the four officers and the now naked intruder rolling around on my carpet until they could restrain him minutes later.

Still naked, but handcuffed, the perpetrator was escorted into the hallway while the retiring officer cracked penis jokes (My favorite: What does a man with a twelve inch dick eat for breakfast? Answer: I normally eat bacon and eggs). One of the female officers then re-entered the apartment with a camera to survey the damage.

She took photos of the used towel and the empty beer bottle left behind on my white rug. We moved into the bathroom, finding that the man had mangled my shower door and used my toothbrush, which created two more Kodak moments. Then the officer's face froze, and I could see her eyes reluctantly move down to my toilet, at which point she hesitantly asked, "Is that from you?" I looked down and my toilet seat was completely black. I dejectedly replied "no," and stood with shoulders slumped as the officer snapped the photo.

I signed a couple a papers and answered some standard questions before the officers decided it was time to escort my new best friend to the station. Along with memories, they left me an empty beer bottle, used towel, broken shower door, a shared toothbrush, a rug dry humped into submission by a naked African beneath a thousand pounds of sweaty cops, not to mention a toilet seat that all the bleach in America couldn't whiten.

Next time I'll probably just lock the door.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

A Straight Guy Reviews Dancing With The Stars

I know I'm a little slow when it comes to keeping pace with the latest TV juggernauts, or the "water cooler" shows that people are always discussing, dissecting, and downright obsessing over. For example, I've never seen more than a few minutes of 24, The Wire, House, Entourage, Sex and the City, The Office, Friends, American Idol, and, to my great embarrassment due to my Italian American heritage and Jersey roots, The Sopranos.

Part of the reason might be that I still love 80s TV. To me, the greatest show ever aired was Airwolf on NBC from 1984-87. The premise was brilliant, revolving around a top secret government super weapon that was part helicopter, part jet. And who is the perfect person to pilot this expensive and lethal piece of state of the art equipment? Why none other than Stringfellow Hawke, a role capably managed by raging alcoholic Jan Michael Vincent, only a few short years before he started crashing his car into private residences.

Vincent's right hand man and co-pilot on these adventures was Ernest Borgnine. In my humble opinion, you can keep Maverick from Top Gun, Borgnine is the greatest co-pilot in entertainment history, and there is nobody I'd rather have letting me know there's a heat seeking missile on my tail at twelve o'clock then the stout former McHale's Navy star and current 91 year old AARP member.

In spite of this nostalgia for 80s TV, I felt the need to expand my horizons, to branch out and soak in the sweet nectar that is a modern television hit. So I decided to tune into Dancing with the Stars on Tuesday night for the ladies competition. Being secure in my masculinity, and having taken a free salsa class from the world renowned dancer Rosa De La Hurricana at the Landmark Mall in 2005, I felt confident that I could handle watching an hour of one of ABC's hit programs.

In reality, I struggled through fifteen minutes, and finally shut off the TV in disgust after a close up of Steve Guttenberg, who was either an enthusiastic audience member, or one of the male contestants.

On the positive side, there were a lot of exposed nipples throughout the show, unfortunately, they all belonged to dudes. I am not a homophobe, but for the sake of diversity is it to much to ask for there to be one straight guy on the program. All the men were either clearly flaming, or had an indecipherable European accent, which in my mind also makes them gay.

As far as the ladies themselves, I caught the performances of former Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, deaf Academy Award Winner Marlee Matlin, and rock royalty Priscilla Pressley. I have no idea what dances they did or what music accompanied them, however, I do know that I would probably have sex with all three, even Priscilla, who at 64 remains a definite GILF.

Looking back upon the experience, I am glad that I got at least a brief glimpse into the world of modern entertainment, where lavish sets and high resolution pictures are buttressed by non-stop hype machines saturating the market. That said, I don’t think I'll go back anytime soon, since I can always catch a show from the 80s on re-runs or DVD. Say what you want about the quality of Airwolf, outside of the occasional shot of Ernest Borgnine in a wife-beater, it’s always nipple free.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Got Beat Up By Pauly Shore

I was in Los Angeles over the weekend for work. It's a hazy twilight, and before the sun can disappear beneath the downtown smog one of my co-workers suggests grabbing a drink. Being tourists, we decide to go to the only place we've heard of from TV and Motley Crue videos; the Sunset Strip.

Although Google Maps says the trip will take 15 minutes, we get there in an hour, which we would later learn is actually decent. I get out of the car and am quickly bombarded with the aroma of posh restaurants serving tiny plates of intricately laid out cuisine to groups of effeminate guys in sports coats and incredibly hot women in fuck me heels. I am starting to like it here.

My co-worker and I walk, and the further we walk, the more the Strip starts to change. Slowly the trendy boutiques and bistros are replaced by grimy rock clubs and leather themed clothing stores. Joe Cellphone and his sport coat are no more, as punk rock kids with pink Mohawks and socially conscious t-shirts now own the territory. The women are still incredibly hot.

Being two lawyers in ties, we glance at the surroundings, and then quickly retreat back to yuppyland. We are standing outside of a bar called the Saddle Ranch when I notice a comedy club next door. As my eyes scan the ascetics they stop on a small, mousey figure in a blue shirt leaning against the railing of the club's deck.

"Is that Pauly Shore?" I blurt out.

My co-worker gives me a look that suggests he doesn't give a shit, but I am determined to confirm my initial impression. I begin walking towards the deck and my co-worker follows me. When I get to within a couple feet the figure by the railing turns to face me.

I will never forget that look. He was definitely older, with a receding hairline and large black circles under his eyes, but he still had the same smart ass smirk. There was no longer any doubt, I was in the presence of the original Weasel himself. Soon Pauly is joined on the deck by a tall, incredibly beautiful blonde in a tight top. Call me slow, but I'm starting to see a theme in LA.

My co-worker and I stand and stare. Pauly and his gal pal finally notice us, and they don't look pleased.

"Is there something I can do for you?," Pauly says, his voice lacking the exuberant tone and syllable stretching inflection of his MTV days.

"No," I reply.

"Then why don't the two of you stop staring and turn around," Pauly says.

My co-worker starts to leave, however I stand my ground in an aggressive posture. I’m not sure whether it was the stress of adapting to a new environment or being told off by the star of Bio-Dome, but Pauly’s words leave me incensed.

"Fuck you, you no talent has been," I say, stunning myself and my co-worker, who is now about three feet behind me.

And this is when Pauly goes from mildly peeved to straight ballistic.

"Okay, now we have issues," Pauly says while hopping over the railing and running towards me. Out of the corner of my eye I can see my co-worker take off. I begin to raise my fists in a defensive posture, but I’m too slow, as Pauly leaps high in the air and brings his foot crashing down into my chest.

The force sends me straight onto my back, and I can see Pauly standing over me. Without any wasted motion he grabs my collar, lifts me up over his head, and then slams me against the brick wall of the comedy club, where he begins punching me in the face with lightning fast jabs and devastating right crosses.

I grow increasingly dazed, and blood starts entering my field of vision. Every once in a while I can see a sadistic smile on Pauly's face, or hear him ask me in profanity laced language whether I've learned my lesson, whether I've learned that the Weasel is far from a 90s novelty act.

At this point, I am no longer trying to defend myself. I am simply in survival mode. I finally fall to the ground, where Pauly's starts kicking me.

"Alright, he's had enough Pauly!" the blonde from the deck shouts.

"Shut up bitch, or you'll be next," Pauly retorts, as he continues pummeling my ribs with his size 5 Men's shoe.

“How do you like that buddy-y!?” “How do you like that!?” Pauly howls, as his words usher me to unconsciousness.

8 hours later I wake up in the hospital. The doctors tell me I've got a bruised sternum, 2 broken ribs, a concussion, and a nasty gash over my left eye. According to their medical expertise, I'm going to be released in another day or two.

The cops also pay me a visit. The Chief is the first fat guy I've come across out here, which makes me think he's from the East Coast. He asks me to tell him my story for a report. When I finish recounting to him everything I've said to you, he looks at his note pad in disgust and shakes his head.

"Pauly Shore again," he mumbles to himself before slowly heading out into the hallway.

I lie back into my morphine induced bliss and close my eyes. I love LA.

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