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Gaze Into Mr. Blog’s Tepid Crystal Ball

7 Sep

September 7, 2014

This is a classic Elvgren painting. You can search this blog for more.

This is a classic Elvgren painting. You can search this blog for more.

September: End of summer
September: Back to school
September: The month before October

Yup. If you run in the circles I do, September means that soon the stores will be getting rid of the notebooks, folders, and pens they’ve been pushing and will soon be putting out Halloween decorations. It won’t be long until bats and ghouls have their way. (And then we’ll be inundated with Christmas stuff, so enjoy it while you can.)

Coming up in October, you can expect some annual features to rear their Halloween heads and rise from their graves for your enjoyment. I’ve already got my Rise of the Pumpkins tickets so a new Picture Postcard with all sorts of amazing pumpkins will be featured. I’ve also already got my Chiller Theatre tix. Will Greg “The Hammer” Valentine be drunk again? I’d bet on it. Guests this year include the Bionic Man Lee Majors and The Soup Nazi. (“Worlds are colliding!”)

And interestingly, Comic Book Men returns on October 12th.

Why is that interesting? Last season, about a year ago, Allan Keyes and I travelled to Red Bank New Jersey and filmed and episode of that show. It’s the truth. Unfortunately, that episode never aired, but if you go back about a year in this blog you’ll see a few posts (cheese shop, war memorial statue, Buddha) about things we did around the shop during a break in filming that day. I’m not sure why it didn’t air (though come October I’ll talk about it) but I’ve been sitting on an Allan Keyes blog for a year. I signed a contract stating that I couldn’t talk about my backstage experiences until the show aired, but I think I’m no longer bound by it, so I’ll run the Keyes blog and my own posts. But here’s a not-so-spoiler: It is pretty fake and Kevin Smith is never there. After October 12th we’ll tell all.

I haven’t forgotten September, though. You’ve got a lot of good stuff coming up, I promise.




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Two Minutes in Canada

25 Jul

July 25, 2014


Americans have always looked towards Canada with fear and mistrust. But all that worry really just hides our own national insecurity. If Canada is America’s funny hat, what does it say about us? Why would we, as a nation, wear such a hat? Is America hiding a bald spot? Is it a hipster?

Fear not, Americans, the good ol’ US of A still has a full head of hair. It turns out that Canada is more than just a geographic chapeau; it has a rich history all its own, one that many of us who live under the Canadian brim are not aware of.

Being so far north, Canada has more than its share of hardships: Ice, snow, even many people who speak French. And worst of all, despite being so far north, Santa Claus shows it no special treatment and usually delivers Canadian presents last, on his way back to the North Pole.

But what do we learn about Canada in school? Fur trading. Canada has a lot of fur traders. At least it did back when the text books took place.

First, Americans traded with the Native American Indian* trappers.
Then, they traded with French fur traders.
December 10, 1984: New York Mets traded Hubie Brooks to the Montreal Expos for Gary Carter.

*Notice they don’t call them “Native Canadian Indians.”

Why was there so much trapping in Canada? Beavers. There were so many beaver dams in Canada that in 1833, official records show that a full 63% of Canada was underwater.

FUN FACT: The Montreal Expos were named after the expo, a small burrowing mammal hunted to extinction by French fur traders.




Christmas Goosed

26 Dec

December 26, 2013

Christmas is over and thank god, ’cause that was a nightmare. Friends, family? Bah! Humbug! Well, at least this year I was spared the horror of the Christmas lunch at work. (My new office had the decency to just trudge along in the usual manner.)

January 3, 2012

By the time you read this it will be well into January and you’ll be tired of Christmas stories but I hope you forgive just one more.

A few days before Christmas the Company I Am employed by, which must remain confidential for reasons I cannot reveal, threw a Christmas lunch for all of its employees. Of course, this being the era of political correctness, it wasn’t called a Christmas lunch.

As much as I hate PC, and as much as I think it is often taken to a ridiculous degree, in small doses it isn’t such a horrible thing. Seeing as how Christmas fell smack in the middle of Hanukkah this year, it would not have bothered me if this were called a Holiday Lunch. It would acknowledge both holidays. The problem is, PC is usually used not to include anyone, but to exclude everyone. Case in point: Here in NYC, Mayor Michael “I am your mother” Bloomberg decided that in order to avoid offending some people, the Staten Island ferry terminal cannot display a Christmas tree or any holiday decorations, despite it hosting some wonderful displays the past few years. So the upshot is, while in the past a very few cranks might have been offended by the sight of a Christmas tree, thanks to PC, now everyone is offended by the lack of holiday cheer. Rather than acknowledge all holidays, it acknowledged no holidays. So I guess political correctness really did work- everyone was equally pissed off.

This is not a fake, he actually did this at some press event. What a tool.

In that spirit, my company did not call it a Holiday lunch, they called it a Kickoff lunch. Kickoff to what? It was never explained. Logically, it could only be a kickoff to Christmas, although the invitation I was emailed showed a picture of a woman (in silhouette) doing what appeared to be the limbo, but it was hard to tell in silhouette.

At this point you might be wondering if there was to be any fun at the Kickoff lunch.

There was not.

That was clear from the invitation, in which we were told that the lunch would not be held in the building’s giant cafeteria but on whatever floor of the building in which you worked. While I have friends who work on the 5th floor, since I work on 13 there would be no mingling. Furthermore, each floor was divided into sections, with each section being assigned a time and place to pick up their lunch. It was a very regimented lunch.

You might also note that I wrote “pick up” lunch, not “eat” lunch. This is because the food was set up in a small meeting room and we were expected to get it and leave, eating the food at our desks. For the record, I took my food down to the cafeteria where I hoped to meet a good friend with whom I always have lunch. The problem was, she was designated to eat 45 minutes earlier than I was and I missed her, meaning I ate my Christmas- sorry, Kickoff lunch, alone. Bah. Humbug.

This day’s lunch was the worst lunch I ever had since I started at The Company, and that includes the very first lunch in which I ate outside in the park and almost got pooped on by a bird.

But the food? Surely the food was good? After all, The Company has a giant, catering-style cafeteria, and the resources to bring in food from anywhere. The food must have been fantastic, right? It was a great lunch, wasn’t it?

We had our choice of pre-wrapped sandwiches which would not have looked out-of-place at a 7-11 or one of the fancier gas stations. There was roast beef with an odd sauce whose name I cannot quite recall but was French-sounding and tasted like vinegar, a turkey sandwich with tomato-pesto sauce, and a roasted vegetable sandwich. I took the roast beef. As bad as those choices sound, I later found out that my friend was thrilled to see the veggie sandwich because she has a strict diet and cannot eat the other two sandwiches.

We had a choice of chips, or so they said. When I got there I saw there was only one kind of chip available. I guess the choice was chips or no chips. I took the chips. There was a choice of fruit. On the table were about two dozen bananas and a single apple. I passed. There was a cookie (no choice) which I spit out when I later ate it. It wasn’t even a cookie, it was a very thin cake covered in the sweetest icing you can imagine. If you took pure sugar and spread it in a half-inch layer over a piece of pound cake you would not even come close to this thing. It was sweet enough to kill a diabetic from thirty paces.

We were also given a bottle of water.

Getting the lunch was a torture in itself. In addition to being given a specific eating period we were also given a ticket. One ticket, one lunch. I guess they were worried about not having enough food if people started taking seconds. You’ve just read about the menu. Would you want seconds?

At our specified time my section was ordered- yes, that is the correct word- to get our lunch. I dropped my ticket in a bag sitting in the lap of a woman whose job it was to make sure I had a ticket. I tried to have some witty banter with her- “you must be the most important woman on this floor”- and was rewarded with a stony stare. I went inside. 

Our emailed invitation also included instructions on what we were to choose, but they went a little nuts in the actual room. For example, red arrows were laid out on the table leading from the sandwiches to the chips, which were less than two feet away, to the fruit, less than two feet away, to the cookies, right next to the fruit, to the bottles of water, unmissable near the exit door. And next to each section, printed directions/warnings to take just one of each category.

In retrospect, I’m very glad this was not a Christmas Lunch after all because there was zero Christmas spirit in me that day.

I guess the takeaway is big company + political correctness = no fun for anyone.


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