Friday, October 30, 2009

Party in the Penitentiary

I was walking downtown last night on the way to McFadden's for the rather sparsely attended Trivia Night and came across a movie set. Yup... Right there on Second Ave N. If they are filming Coal Miner's Daughter 2: The Diamond Years, I'm gonna be pretty stoked. Tommy Lee Jones hangin' out in my fair city? Hell, yeah! That's probably not the case, though, and I'm imagining it's another film about someone trying to 'make it' in this fair city... Or, you know, something like that. I can see the montage in the third act already: Del Amitri's "Roll to Me" playing in the background with a starlet running amok among town and purchasing just the perfect pair of boots on Lower Broad for her gig at Exit/In later that week.

Damnit... Now I've got that song in my head.

Anyway, I cut through the shooting location - it is a public thoroughfare afterall - and for the minor inconvenience caused by me having to wait 4 minutes while production assistant Blondie McBlonderson held me up, I definitely swiped a few items from the craft services table. I'm easily tempted by food. I couldn't help but think that this film is probably another Miley Cyrus vehicle for milking the cash cow while one can. Let's face it: the broad can't sing. As awesome as "Party in the U.S.A." is, it's auto-tuned to hell and back and the vocals are still in about 152 different keys.

As I completed my stroll down 2nd, I wondered what kind of life Miley Cyrus must have. How many horsies she owns. How many cheeseburgers she can buy for dinner. How no one is going to give her dirty looks for walking downtown with a handful of stolen cheese from the set of a major motion picture. I quickly forgot about her, however, as I am distracted by bright and shiny objects and I had to get to my 1/2th job of reading trivia.

I awoke this morning and in a much better mood than last night [yesterday's attitude largely stemming from the news that I will be working Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day and New Year's Eve] and decided to go for a run. And, wouldn't you know it, the first song on my running mix is "Party in the U.S.A." 'Cause if there's anything that gets me pumped, it's the voice of a 16 year old singing.

Don't judge.

There has, strangely enough, been a party-like atmosphere at work. Several folks are dressed up. I'm wearing a sweater. I know I'm quite the enthusiastic one.

AND... Guess who appeared on my Google News Feed today.... That's right: Miley Cyrus.

So the story goes like this:

53-year old Mark McLeod of Savanah, GA, was arrested for stalking Miley this past summer on the set of her new movie This Film is Gonna Suck Real Bad. He claims that he had given her several diamond rings and that she had been sending him "secret messages" through the television. All of a sudden my obsession with Keira Knightley seems a little more healthy.

But you gotta give this guy credit... He's in love with a girl and wants the world to know it. I don't think this guy is that crazy when you think about it. Dudes buy chicks crazy shit all the time. Diamond rings, meals at fancy restaurants, muffin pans, etc... Chicks send dudes crazy messages all the time. I got dumped by text message once and that was crazy as hell. I totally see this guy's point... Just not with Miley Cyrus. C'mon, Mark, you know that train has to reach the end of the line soon.

And let this be a warning to all you stalkers out there: don't be 37 years older than your target. Apparently that was the crime. Everything else about this case seemed pretty normal.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Namaste, little wasp

Today is the first day wear my underpants have betrayed me.

I stepped out of the shower, singing "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procul Harum [really just the chorus and the "ber-ner-neeeer-ner-NEEER!" organ part several times] and flossed and brushed my teeth. I guess that means I'm grown up now because I voluntarily did both of those things without an imminent dentist appointment. My mom and dad would be so proud. I put on my deodorant and combed my hair. I then put on my incredibly mature Tazmanian Devil Looney Tunes boxer shorts. This was easily the biggest mistake that I have made in months and months and months.

As inane as anything, I walked out of the bathroom and into the Lovenasium my bedroom. I began rumaging through my piles of clothes for my pair of wrinkle-free khaki pants which are a lifesaver for the late-20's-something man... And that's when I heard a sound I have never heard before: the buzzing of an angry wasp in my underpants. It's a sound that's instantly recognizable and unmistakable. Coupled with the incredible rush of fear and adrenaline of getting stuck, it heightens one's senses.

Before I could get my underpants off, this little bastard went straight for the goods. Right at the ol' coin purse. A wave of admiration washed over me for a moment if only because I appreciate his "shoot first, apologize later" method of attack. He was a little guy taking on a giant and he knew the quickest way to bring me down.

Oh, the sonovabitch fought like no other opponent I've ever encountered before; knowing his death was imminent. A quick sting on my hand! A quick sting on my finger! And off he was!

I grabbed the nearest weapon I could find. Being a former boy scout, I'm incredibly resourceful. I grabbed the nearest hard, flat surface. "What was it, Poppa Storyteller?! What was it?!" I can hear you all clamoring. It was my dvd copy of Ghostbusters. One swing. One wild, flailing, eyes closed, Hail Mary of a swing... and I got him. Killed him. Killed him dead. So there I was, standing in my room with my weapon of choice looking like I had just practiced karate for 3 hours.

Namaste, little wasp.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble 2: Falcon's Flight

Am I the only one who SUPPORTS the Heene family in this whole "Boy in the Balloon" thing? I think I am. Normally this is where I'd type "I know I'm an insensitive jerk but hear me out..." I'm only going to do the "hear me out" part of it...

I'm not an insensitive jerk in this case.
Hear me out...

Here was this story that tugged at the nation's heartstrings. People were glued to their TV sets as the hot air came out of the drama. Hot air? Balloon? Ah, crap. Watching the interviews with the parents of Falcon, you could tell that they were lying. And America bought it. Why? Because, by and large, we're stupid and believe everything that's on TV.

What really frightens me is the short term memory that American pop culture has. Paradoxically, this bodes well for me for a few reasons:
1.) It makes coming up with questions on pop culture for trivia night pretty easy,
2.) It gives me something to write about at work instead of explaining to the folks at Pitney Bowes that pieces of mail addressed to "Accounting" really do need to be sent to that department, and
3.) It makes for great sequels. I know sequels in general tend to suck. One needs to look no further than the ill-advised Keannu Reeves kung-fu future things for proof. Why, yes, I do own all three films on DVD. Why do you ask?

It's only the TV sequels that end up being good, however. The Battle for Endor was far superior to Caravan of Courage if you'll recall. I'm still waiting for the follow up to the Star Wars Holiday Special because there is no way in the world it could be worse than the first. Need an example that's not related to the world of George Lucas? I got one for ya...

How about the story of Falcon Heene? Yes, our young stowaway on this balloon. "What does it take after?" you ask. Only the greatest made for TV movie of all time:

Ladies and gentleman, John Travolta! Oscar-nominee, John Travolta. Pilot, John Travolta. Scientologist, John Travolta. That's right... the original Boy in the Plastic Bubble. Falcon, it would seem has a great life ahead of him... I mean, he was already on one of those 'Switch your Spouse' shows. JT [piss off, Timberlake, I'm talkin' 'bout Vincent Vega, here!] started off the same way and look where he is now!

So, Heene family, I salute you on starting your boy on the right path. Young Falcon's career is sure to take off and soar to the kinds of heights that only those with the thetans the likes the star of Look Who's Talking, Too could attain. Go, young Falcon! You are free to dream and rise higher than the eagles. For a short time, we Americans were the wind beneath your wings. We watched your sequel: The Boy in the Plastic Bubble 2: Falcon's Flight and I hope I get to see what part three brings.

I believe I can fly. Go ahead... Inspire R. Kelly again, young Falcon. We've earned it.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I really like my MacBook. It runs well, it doesn't freeze, I get to make sweet photobooth pictures with the camera... Ones where my biceps look huge and there's a blue sky behind me, lookin' all majestic like. Last night, however, I get bit in the proverbial ass by my overzealous use and my over confidence in my computer.

As I was semi-legally downloading songs for tomorrow's Crawford-Woodward wedding while working at McFadden's for trivia night, I noticed a small glitch in one of my tracks. The song in question? None other than "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc. The song sucks, granted, but I'm not getting paid to listen to music. I'm not getting paid at all. I'm there to make people get on the dancefloor and shake their ass... and not the proverbial one either. This song, from what I've been told, is one of the ways to do it. All them cougars on the prowl at a wedding? This song is like their battle cry.

I tried to load the song onto my Itunes and met with error after error. I thought that the third time would be a charm. I was wrong. I got a little rainbow spinny wheel [this is where I'd insert a GIF if I cared enough to] indicating that it was processing...
But nothing happened. After 20 minutes, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this may be it for my 12000 songs, many of which I had not yet backed up onto my external hard drive. So I did what any man would do. I swore very loudly and stayed up til 4:45 this morning uninstalling and then reinstalling some software and programs on my Mac that are neither designed to be uninstalled nor reinstalled.

And with great success.

So, dear readers who may be attending Lori and Aaron's wedding tomorrow, FEAR NOT! There will be dancing. There will be "Funkytown". There will be people who probably aren't me making sweet, sweet love afterwards. You're welcome.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Running to stand still... Actually, that might be an improvement.

I woke up at some unholy time this morning. I've always had a rather strange internal clock anyway: one that's very precise except for when it comes to keeping time with music, where I always seem to end up off-beat. That's 'cause I'm white and Irish. We're sooooo known for our rhythmic and athletic abilities.

Seriously. When was the last time you saw a rhythmic gymnast in the Olympics from The Emerald Isle? Better yet, when was the last time you watched rhythmic gymnastics in the Olympics? Better still, did you even know that rhythmic gymnastics was a sport? If you didn't then I feel bad for you. Why? 'Cause chicks do crazy shit like what's pictured to the right. They give out gold medals for these kinds of things, people. All the women competitors of rhythmic gymnastics are champions in my book. Also, it's one of two sports (women's volleyball being the other) where I don't feel the least bit guilty for watching in the nude.

At any rate, after I set off my car alarm this morning [writer's note: Sorry, entire neighborhood!], I set out on my morning run. It's not as daily as I'd like it to be. My well-documented love for all films related to Sylvester Stalone have caused me to miss many morning runs... all suggled up on my bed, watching Sly do a karate kick on some guy and then shooting another one in the face with a gun that weighs 245 pounds. There's nothing he can't do on screen. But this morning... Oh, how motivated I was!

I stepped out into the not-so-cool morning air looking and feeling like a complete idiot. Not only was the horn on The Family Truckster making noise to wake the dead, I was wearing the following:
White sweatband
Brown hooded sweatshirt (with a zipper that does not stay up. <-- That's gonna be important in a second)
Gray athletic shorts
Boxer shorts
Knee braces (right and left)
Ankle socks
Black New Balance shoes
Ipod on arm holster

In short, I looked like a retarded relative of the Six Million Dollar Man. Eat your heart out, Lee Majors.

If you're an astute observer, you'd notice that I didn't mention anything about wearing a t-shirt. Why would I soil a perfectly good one if I'm wearing my comfortable brown hooded sweatshirt? I couldn't think of a reason either.
I set off down McMahan Ave, with my music blaring. As fate would have it, the first song that came on was "Paper Planes" by M.I.A. It's the kind of song that I can't help but try to dance do: arms flailing about like crazy. So, imagine if you will (and you will), me, running down the road and trying to dance at the same time while listening to this song... and wearing a hooded sweatshirt that likes to do anything but stay closed.

It was long about the first "Some-some-some-I-some-I-murda..." when my brown hooded sweatshirt got the best of me; it's zipper easing its way down my already sweaty chest. That's 'cause I'm perpetually out of shape and Tennessee is perpetually at 751% humidity. I took a leap of faith to continue running, continue dancing, and adjusting the zipper on my hooded sweatshirt... Right about then is when I ended up face first and covered in dirt on the corner of McMahan Ave and Gallatin Pike watching traffic roll right on by me.

I was very humbly reminded that we(e) Irish are designed to stick to Riverdancin'. As soon as our upper bodies are engaged in an athletic endeavor, we fall flat.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Protecting culture is, I suppose, important. Expanding culture is, I know, essential.

How very eastern...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dear Budget Brakes

Dear Budget Brakes,

You got me. You got me good. If there were an award for getting someone the goodest, you guys would get it. Yeah. Goodest.

I know that from the outside, I look like a professional, respectable (despite what my friend Meg Whalen may or may not say about my skull and crossbones belt buckle) and even somewhat handsome guy. I'm not lighting the fashion world on fire and I'm certainly not going to be walking down a New York City runway anytime soon. That being said, during job number one I dress pretty well: pressed shirt, black leather shoes, nice pants. Hell, some days I even wear a vest. Like today. I actually like wearing the vest as it elongates my almost non-existant neck. Plus, I think it throws people off a bit which, as many folks who know me know, is part of my charm. The Good Lord put me on this earth to do three things: be funny, be smart, and be really good at air hockey. As of yet, He's never mentioned anything about being good looking. I need every competitive advantage I can get.

I want to point something out to you, my dear brake shoppe, in case I was too subtle in the above paragraph. Judging by the fact that I know I can be too passive-aggressive in my writing, I'm assuming that's the case. I mentioned that I dress nicely at job number one. You would be correct in assuming that I have multiple jobs. To borrow from a writer much more qualified than I, "I'm gonna spread it out for you in a nutshell":
Job one: Monday through Friday, 8 to 5. Insurance.
Job two: Saturday (and occasionally Friday nights... and occasionally Saturday nights... and occasionally Sunday nights... and whenever the delivery van needs to be taken to your rival Pep Boys at the boss' behest), 9 to 5. Flower shop.
Job three: Thursday, 6-930. Bar trivia.

You would think that with three jobs often putting me over the 50 hour per week mark that I would be rolling in the dough. This is not the case. I work three jobs so I don't have to live under a bridge which is something that I think we all can appreciate. I should get a knighthood for this. Maybe call it the Order of the Employed or something.

My point? Yeah, I've got one. My point is that I try to be thrifty with my money. I don't have cable. I 'borrow' my internet from a neighbor's unprotected wireless signal. I don't ever adjust the temperature in the house. I volunteer at a thrift store whose owners are gracious enough to let me have the occasional free piece of clothing or two. Naturally, when my brakes began to grind about a week ago, I decided to take what little money I had and visit you. Why? Because the word "budget" is in your name, because I'm thrify, and because I had seen your ad on TV a few times over the past several years indicating that you've got brakes with a lifetime warranty "starting at just $78!" Talk about the perfect storm!

I grew up around the auto industry. My dad worked for and retired from Ford. My grandpa worked for and retired from Ford. Various aunts and uncles worked for or are still working for Ford. I've had my fair share of maintenance done on vehicles. I know that whatever price I'm being quoted on TV, that I should add at least $60 for labor and throw in another $20 for miscellaneous parts and that's the real price. I walked into your shop expecting to pay about $160 for brakes.

Take a guess what I was quoted for a brake job. I guess you don't really have to guess since, you know, you are the shop. But since I plan on sending this to several friends as well as posting a blog about it complete with funny pictures, I'm going to let you know: $384.00.

It was pointed out to me by the shop's manager that I needed new front brakes (each running $78.00 for just the brakes themselves) , new brake rotors, new hardware, new somethingelsethatIforgetwhatit'scalled, and the labor... of course. As you can well imagine, I was none too pleased. Remember... budget... thrifty... $78.00.

I told the manager that that quote was "way too fuckin' high." I felt like swearing because that's what guys do in auto shops, right? I then thanked him for my free brake inpsection and told him to please put the wheels back on my car. He, being the decent manager that he is, told me that he might be able to work something out for me... and came back with a quote of (ready for this): $344.00.

Lord, in heaven, my prayers have been answered! Still more than double what I wanted to pay. Oh, boy! Can I? Can I, please?! Yes, that was sarcasm. And thus ends the subtlety.

I again informed the shop manager to put the wheels back on my car. As I was turning around to sit back in your rather plush leather chairs, the manager stopped me halfway with, "Well, what can you afford?" I had no idea that the manager of your shop was Monty Hall. This came as a particular surprise because I would have thought that Monty's Canadian work visa would have long since expired and that certainly he could get better work than a brake shop manager. Maybe he has multiple jobs, too... but I doubt it. I know times are tough for everyone. I turned around and told him, flatly, "$220.00". That's it. That literally left me enough money for gas and food the rest of the week. He replied quickly with "Ok." A gentleman's agreement!

What I wanted to know, dear person from Budget Brakes who happens to be reading this, is why the manager would so willing and eager to give me what amounted to a 43% discount. The only thing that possibly came to mind was that the first two sets of brakes must have contained multiple lifetime warranties. Apparently my strange manner of dress must have thrown the shop's manager into a fit of confusion whereupon he mistook me for the Dalai Lama. I'm not. I'm not Tibetan, I'm not a monk, and (as evidenced that I was in one of your stores buying things for my car) I have a need for worldly possessions. The meek may inherit the earth one day but until then the rest of is need to get to work and need to do it safely.

Going forward, I think it would behoove you to change your ads. Don't allow the TV commercials to say "$78.00" when it's damn well going to be significantly more than that. Don't trick hard-working Joes like myself into thinking we're going to get out of there with both arms and legs only to find out that we're gonna have to get our nuts replaced, too. What? Nuts are the extra hardware you're charging us for.

Sure, I could go to the Better Business Bureau with this. Sure, I could raise hell with my local news outlet. Sure, I could go put some dog poop in a paper bag, set it on your doorstep, light it on fire, ring the bell, and then run away. Hell, that last thing just sounds like fun and I might do it anyway. But none of those will probably be as effective as sending you a letter and posting this on the internet.

Good luck in the future, Budget Brakes! Gunga ga-lunga!

Stephen P Bohn

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tropical BlackBerry Storm Melissa

I was sitting here in my cube, minding my own business and googling my name. It's Friday, it's kind of slow, and I like a good ego stroke every now and again. When in walked Melissa, who (as you'll see) is perfectly capable and mobile. I've never met her in my life and I hope I don't ever meet her again.

She seemed perfectly nice at first. Well dressed. Professional. Probably makes six figures. Thinks the world of John and Kate Gosselin really does matter. Nothing terribly offensive about her. 'Cept maybe the last thing. Then again, Colby Pitts liked that John and Kate Plus 8 show and I think he's super awesome.

Melissa enters my cube, stage left.
Melissa: Hi!
Me: Hi! What can I do for you?
Melissa: Well.. Is this human resources?
Me: In a manner of speaking, yes. We work with HR. Is there something I can help you with?
Melissa: Well, I'm looking for an employee. Her name is Geetha. She works in IT. She's supposed to help me with my BlackBerry.
Me: Sure, I can point you in the right direction. Lemme look her up. [Goes into my Outlook Address book and find Geetha's location in about 4 seconds. Very difficult, I know].
Melissa: [Slightly embarrassed] Well, I coulda done that!
Me: Hey, no problem at all...
Melissa: Can we call her just so I can be sure I can find her?
Me: Yeah. [Dials number on speaker phone]
Geetha: Hi, this is Geetha.
Me: Hi, Geetha, this is Stephen in the ERC, and I've got an employee that's looking for you.
Geetha: Oh, is it Melissa?
Melissa: [Goes from zero to bitch in .13 seconds] YEAH.
Geetha: Okay, I'm on the first floor of the 618 building, right when you walk in the main entrance, on the right.
Geetha: On the first floor of the 618 building. Where are you?
Geetha: Melissa, it's on the first floor of the 618 building. Go out the front door of 648, turn left, go to the next building and there it is.
[By this point in time the entire office has stood up from their cubicles and is looking in my direction like I've just told this woman that I've killed her cat, Mr. Fluffer Mittens. I hadn't.]
Geetha: [Becoming increasingly perturbed with Melissa] Well, there's only one floor in the 618 building, so I'd say... First?
Geetha: Nooo... I sent you that in an email.
Me: [Entirely amused but is now leaning back in my chair holding onto my iPhone for dear life 'cause I know what's coming]
Melissa: [Throws BlackBerry with surprising force against my desk causing it to shatter into several pieces. Proceeds to pick up receiver of my desk phone and slam it down.]
Me: Well... Umm...
Me: I dunno... Geetha, maybe?
Melissa: [Picks up pieces of BlackBerry and storms out]

As I was writing this entry, Melissa came back and apologized. Too late, lady. The words have been set and I'm too lazy to backspace.