Monday, July 29, 2013

Not so fun times with voice mails
One of the many perks of my job is that I get to spend a lot of time on the phone, calling people who have no interest in talking to me.
                Wait perk is not the right word. Oh well, it’ll come to me.
                Anyway, when your job involves making cold calls, it usually means you spend most of your time talking to receptionists and voice mails.
                I’ve got no beef with the receptionist crowd. They’re just trying to do their job: keep hooligans like me from bothering their boss, while I do mine: kinda sorta bother their boss.
                The voice mails are another story.
                Obviously the most annoying voice mail is the tried and true: “Hi! (needlessly long pause, just long enough for me to introduce myself before the rest of the message kicks in) You’ve reached so and so who works somewhere and so forth.”
                It’s 2013. It’s unforgivable people in America still kind this gag funny. If we moved past Dane Cook, can’t we leave this one behind, too?
                So that one takes the top spot, but sliding into second is a phenomenon that’s much lesser known, but still pretty initiating.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The hidden dangers of walking around at lunch time

I’ve already spoken at length about my oddball bathroom habits and yet somehow I haven’t even managed to scratch the surface.
                Take, for example, this awkward situation I found myself in the other day.
                It all began, as many bathroom stories do, at lunch.
I’m a bit of a loner by nature, but never more so than when I’m eating. If there’s food around me, I’d rather not talk. I’d rather eat. Maybe it’s because I suck at multitasking and this is my subconscious’ way of keeping me from starving to death.
Anyway, because I’m a solitary eater, I take my lunch break at my desk very nearly every day, usually with a pair of headphones on to complete the job of sealing me off from the outside world.
My distraction of choice for most lunch breaks is a podcast, and that fine day I believe I was listening to the latest episode of Dan Harmon’s humorous “Harmontown.”
So after finishing up my lunch, I decided to take a trip to the bathroom, headphones still on.
Now I usually don’t like walking around with headphones on because my workplace has a lot of blind corners and I like to be able to hear when people are approaching. You know, so I don’t bump into anyone or scare the beejesus out of myself.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Surviving in the wilds of America: Not naked, but still very afraid

"Sweet Jesus where's the car!?!?!?"

The other night I watched that sorta-new survival reality show “Naked and Afraid,” where a guy and a gal are dropped off at some exotic location to survive for a few weeks with no clothes, minimal tools and a camera crew taping their every move.
                It’s OK. The participants are indeed naked, but the only truly scary part was during the horribly awkward and stilted conversation the two people had when they first met, wearing nothing but their birthday suits and a smile.
                Tangent alert! The episode I watched broke one of my cardinal rules: It proclaimed to be “Uncensored,” but was, in fact, censored. I saw no boobies or man parts or lady parts. Why? Because they were blurred out. If I can’t hear a lady drop the “F” bomb while waving a nipple around, then you have no right to call your show “Uncensored.”
                Not that I really wanted to see any of those things. Our heroes weren’t exactly lookers, but it’s the principle of the thing.
                Anyway, early in the show, the participants are graded in three areas essential to making it through the show in one piece. They are graded using a 0-10 scale on: Outdoor Skills, Experience and Mental Toughness.
                Those three scores are then averaged together to give you the Primitive Survival Rating (PSR), or how good the person is likely to do on the show.  
                That got me thinking. What would my PSR be? I’m already fairly confident I’d be a complete disaster on the show. I have way too many body issues for me to ever get over being naked in front of a stranger and there aren’t enough poisonous snakes, giant spiders or killer plants in all the jungles to make me forget that.
                But still, let’s see how I’d stack up.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: 'Pacific Rim' is an absolute blast

As a young lad, my “Godzilla” toys occupied a good deal of my time. They weren’t my favorites, my “Terminator 2” toys held that crown, but the “Godzilla” crew was high on my list.
                I had a big, sorta-crummily painted Godzilla whose arms and legs you could move, but only in a pretty unrealistic motion. I hate a big brownish pterodactyl my dad got surprised me with one day when he picked me up from school. Even though it was just a dinosaur, I happily pretended it was Godzilla’s sometimes winged-friend, sometimes winged-foe, Rodan.
                One Christmas I also acquired a fun little set of Godzilla’s entire catalogue of co-monsters, although they were much smaller than the other two, which kind of limited cross-over opportunities, but when you’re a kid, you make due.
                All of this is just a wildly long-winded way of telling you that I was pretty psyched when I first heard about Guillermo del Toro’s monsters vs. robots slugfest “Pacific Rim.”
                If there’s one man who I trust implicitly with my beloved childhood memories of wearing out my VHS copies of Japanese monster movies, it’s del Toro, a guy who I’m sure was doing the same thing when he was a boy. Maybe to this day, even.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Reviews: 'Monsters U' and 'Despicable Me 2'

Over the last week or so, my lady friend and I ventured out to our local movie houses to see a pair of kids’ movies.
                First up was “Monsters University,” Pixar’s prequel to its 2001 hit “Monsters, Inc.”
                “Monsters, Inc.” was never really all that high up in Pixar’s catalogue for me. It’s not particularly low either, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of the middle. I’ve seen it once, thought it was fine and don’t plan on seeking it out or avoiding it for that matter.
                And that’s kind of pretty much exactly how I feel about “Monsters University.” It was fine. Occasionally it was very funny, but the story suffered from the prequel curse of predictability.
                It’s essentially “When Mike met Sully.” Spoiler alert … seriously … They don’t start out as best friends. In fact, they’re kind of enemies. Mike is the lovable underdog out to prove himself to the world, Sully is the kid from the famous family. They both wind up in MU’s famed scarer program, start competing with each other and run afoul of the dean and get kicked out said program.
                Of course, there just so happens to be a major scaring contest coming up and Mike bets the dean that if they win, they can rejoin the scarer program. The only catch is they need the help of the dorkiest, least scary frat on campus in order to win.
                Can Mike and Sully turn their lovable bands of doofs into terror machines? You’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.  

                If there’s one lesson I learned from “Monsters University” --- see what I did there? --- it’s that Charlie Day needs to be in everything. The fact that he’s not the most in-demand comedic actor out there right now is one of our nation’s greatest shames.
                Day makes everything better. He plays a lower case “n” shaped monster that’s in Mike and Sully’s frat. Not surprisingly, Day can lay claim to nearly all of the movie’s biggest laughs. Without him, I’m not saying this could have been “Cars 2” territory, but who knows? I won’t say it officially, because I never actually saw “Cars 2,” but I heard stories.
                “Monsters University” doesn’t live up to some of Pixar’s heavyweights, but it’s OK. I think my lady friend liked it more than I did.
It’s funny enough and well-paced enough that, even though it’s predictable, it never crosses over into boring. Also, Billy Crystal and John Goodman are back as the main monsters and they’re pretty awesome too.
                But Charlie Day, ya’ll. Charlie Day.  
                Not long after we saw “Monsters Unviersity,” we checked out the sequel to a movie we both really loved, 2010’s “Despicable Me.”

Monday, July 1, 2013

Workplace hazard: The perilous world of the fist bump

I wonder if Howie Mandel has this problem?
                The reason I bring up the star of “Howie Do It” and “Bobby’s World” is because the famed germaphobe knows his way around the fist bump, and this simple act of tapping your knuckles against those of another man – or sometimes woman – has been causing me a lot of headaches recently.
I’ve got a light dusting of OCD, so washing my hands is a pretty important thing for me. I do it a lot. Not to the point that it holds me back from living my life such as it is, but I still think I wash my hands more often and more thoroughly than the average man.
Anyway, one thing I don’t do thoroughly is dry my hands. I prefer a good air dry. I’ll use paper towels if they’re available, but I tend to get carried away. Before I know it I’ve gone through a couple dozen of them, and somehow my hands are still not 100% dry. Like the Great Pyramids of Egypt, I can’t explain this, it just is.