Friday, December 19, 2008

Have Yourself a Zero-Sum Christmas

We can all admit it: the Christmas holidays make everyone bonkers, make everyone's credit card bills skyrocket and clutter our highways and roads and malls with rabid shoppers who only rise from their dank homes once a year to purchase that gold-plated can opener for that relative they hate. We're spending too much time and money on others, trying to guess what they want for Christmas - and inevitably purchasing things they either own and don't want or don't own and don't want or don't need and want to return to the store - instead of spending the right amount of time and money on ourselves, knowing exactly what we need and want.

So what is more appropriate in a year of economic turmoil but to borrow a term from that Economics text book you never cracked (and probably paid some student-from-an-Asian-country to take the class for you) to set the holiday right: we need to start practicing a Zero-Sum Christmas. Here's how it works. Everyone collectively agrees we don't get the shit we really want. We collectively agree everyone else has crap taste and wouldn't know what a nice sweater looked (and fit) like if Marc Jacobs, forty virginal Italian seamstresses and a herd of golden sheep walked into their house and knit them one. We collectively agree that we aren't drinking nearly enough as we should and need to stay out of our cars and off the road and in front of the stove with a bottle of scotch, aged exactly 15 years (because as we all know, anything older than 15 years is already over-ripe). We collectively agree that the Malls are full of children and ugly women and germs and tone deaf people wearing red aprons who ring a bell to make us feel guilty about the poor, which doesn't work because we are Americans and incapable of feeling guilty about anything or anyone.

Let me give you a personal example. Take me and a "friend" of mine, who I will give the fake name of "William Russell Thomas, Esquire." He wants a pair of hockey skates for Christmas that costs $500. I want a hooker for Christmas that costs $500 (she spends the night, washes the bed sheets and makes a wicked tomato omelet). Now, I don't know that he wants those ice skates (he and I don't talk because he's a raging asshole) and he probably figures I want a hooker but isn't sure what variety I'm going with this time around (he doesn't know I'm in a Chinese-American mood this month). So instead of me buying him a gift he doesn't need, like a lawnmower, and him buying me a gift I don't need, like a three-month stay in a rehab clinic, he buys himself the skates, I phone up my "escort," we mentally tell ourselves that these gifts came - in a spiritual sense - from each other … and we're both happy as clams on December 25th. We have the same amount of debt because we both spent the same amount of money, but we got what we wanted. We both win. And because we both win, neither of us has to put our gifts in the attic (though I should probably get a blood test in a few weeks).

This is really the way to go for everyone, whether everyone is too fucking dense to figure it out or not. Disappointments will be a thing of the past. No one will be bitter with each other during the opening of presents, and that way we can spend the day in peace and harmony, not worrying about travelling from relative's house to relative's house. We will still be burdened with massive debt and helping the economy and fighting terrorism. "But wait, Matt," you counter, "what about the children, those precious beams of light shot down from outer space from the eyeballs of the Almighty Lord and Savior Upon High? They don't have any money so they can't buy themselves anything! They'll be left out! Do you have an answer for that?" I say screw those virus-tainted turds. They can't buy us adults anything anyway. They should be grateful they weren't forcibly removed from their mothers' wombs with rusted tools or squat-thrusted into an old sock. When they see their elders picking themselves off the floor from the liquor they bought themselves or notice their older brothers and sisters awake from their night of smoking weed they scored for themselves, that will only make them that much eager to grow up, behave themselves, earn a decent income and stop believing in those fat men in red suits who give them toys for free and only want to be paid in cookies. They really want to be paid in blood. And once more Christmas will be for the working types, and those depressed enough to realize they need a satisfying Christmas more than greedy eight-year-olds.

Happy Holidays to All! (* but especially to those who let me sleep until noon)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Freefall Solution and Why It Is Merciful

It started in the Summer. Gas prices, gas prices, gas prices: it's all I ever friggin' heard about from you people. "But we started a war with the Cloaked Jedi who have oil," you said, "so why isn't this exploitation working out in my favor? As a white American I am the center of the universe and demand everything be cheap for my frivolous needs." Well, wake up and smell the frankincense: you are behind this. You voted That Guy in, then you kept Him in, then you voted for Those Other Guys who kissed his ass, then they gave major corporations massive duffle bags of cash, and now you are the ones suffering. And while those duffle bags of cash were changing hands, you were busy staring at some YouTube video about a cat peeing in its own mouth to actually keep up with the news and find out what's really going on outside your house. "But the Lord wanted me to vote that way," you insist, "and so did those precious unborn fetuses! I voted to defend the fetuses of the whores!" Well now that your dollar is worth less than Brawny paper towels, liquefy it and shove it in your gas tank along with some kitchen grease. Let's see if that gets you to Wal-Mart for more Tupperware and socks.

Along with rising gas prices, this past Summer affected virtually everyone in another way: it magically - and I mean this in a Jungian sense - made everyone horrible drivers. Drivers so atrocious that Chinese women in Cadillacs suddenly seem like Junior Johnson. The speed limit became something to divide by three. If it reads forty, you now struggle to keep it under fifteen. Touching the gas pedal has become the equivalent of putting your boot on the throat of a crying newborn. Police officers are now given less work to do and more time to arrest minorities for playing music too loud. Even high school kids have gotten into the slow-motion game, emulating senior citizens in their parents' cars and slowly, slowly, slowly driving to that Saturday night party for a few cans of Natty Lite, some Guitar Hero and maybe a little fingering. In the Collective Dreams of the Masses, everyone got it into their thick, fat, profoundly ignorant and factually challenged animal brains that going a third of the speed limit will somehow help save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. The logic is that the more you coast, the less fuel you use up. This means that driving two miles to work now takes me approximately twenty minutes. Kids on bicycles whiz past, thinking the Creatine they stirred into their morning latte is making their legs stronger. No one realizes that it's basically a wash, as the slower you go, the more time you spend on the road. The problem with any form of Logic is that it isn't taught in the New Testament or Bible Camp so many people don't recognize its necessity.

But it gets better. As if the bulbous and moronic didn't know how to save and spend before, the banks made it easier for them to be frivolous with money. "You mean to tell me," John Q. Public mused, sometime ago, "that even though I have a part-time job at Fuddruckers and maxed out three credit cards and my wife is in jail for armed robbery I can get a loan for a mini-mansion for me and my four illegitimate kids, two dogs, a cat, a pot-bellied pig and four pick-up trucks? Hot diggity!" Predictably, this did not turn out well, and all those John Q. Publics did not get that long-deserved promotion they've been praying for (oooh, Assistant Manager!) and their classy counterparts, Jane Q. Publics, are still in the pen knitting quilts and hating men. Did I mention that John Q. Public's credit cards are still maxed out and now he can't afford the monthly payments for his Hemi-powered pickup trucks? And that John Q. Public is technically unemployable because he has a drinking problem? And that those banks that gave out the loans don't have their money and the credit card companies don't have their money and the auto dealerships don't have their money? At least Pete Coors has his money.

Now, how do we fix this? There are two schools of thought: some government people voted to "bail out" these criminals and make every single one of us citizens - just trying to get by, to watch some football, to go to the beach - pay for it. The other school of thought is what a teenager told me would totally fix "all this stupid shit": "They should just print more bills, son." Both suggestions are equally worthless, with the teenager being slightly more intelligent. And yet there is a third plan I came up with that I think should be given some consideration: The Freefall Solution.

The Freefall Solution is easy. Anyone that had anything to do with this must take the elevator to the top of the highest building in Manhattan and jump. That's about it. White collar guy who could care less about a hard working citizen's pension? Jump. Number cruncher crunching numbers for that half-a-mil beach house in the Maldives? Jump. Middle-aged mother of three who drives her burgundy mini-van like it's an M-1 Abrams tank? Eh, you jump too. Onto the street, the pavement, face first, doing a back flip, go for style points. If you complain about the gas all day and work for pennies and then vote against your own interests, the sky really is the limit my friends. It's the merciful thing to do, and maybe with all this jumping and not so much hot air oozing out of your gaping maws we can also get rid of global warming and Al Gore can finally stop sweating.

And don't worry about the corpse clean-up on the ground level: I've got plenty of Brawny.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Women Only Like Me When They're Drunk

Sunday I was in Atlantic City with my parents. Whenever we go there - about three to four times a year - my Mom and my Grandmother usually go their own direction (to quickly rid themselves of their hard-earned money on the slot machines) while Dad and I do what we affectionately call the Atlantic City Crawl: we start at one end of the Boardwalk (usually the Tropicana) and work our way down, drinking and eating, eating and drinking, walking walking walking. Since we start early (10 AM-ish), we can't let yourselves get sick by 1 PM, so we regulate the heavy doses of regular coffee, beer, whiskey and different kinds of food (sweets, chicken sandwiches, soup, seafood) with the walking we have to do. We figure we'd rather buy things with our money we can enjoy instead of dumping it all in a slot machine/Skinner Box or rolling ourselves broke at a craps table, so we save the gambling for the very end of the day (because by then we won't give a shit about how much we lose).

One of our stops - around noon or so - was at the Liquid Bar in the Trump Plaza. He and I sat at the one (nearly) vacant end of the bar - across the way was an Elvis Impersonator drinking a beer (I can't make this up). Ordered a Yuengling Lager and so did Dad; I was watching the Phillies/Reds game on the big screen TV while Dad was clearly fascinated with the Elvis guy.

Before I knew it, a young woman in her early thirties (maybe even late 20's - it was hard to tell) came in the place stumbling and planted herself next to me (when there were clearly other seats available), orders something I can't make out, the bartender nods and gets to it (I assume at that point she's a regular). After ordering she tosses her handbag next to her, stretches both arms out and lays her left cheek on the bar, so she's looking right at me.

Like every other drunk person in the world, she felt like talking. To me.

"How much did you win?" she asked me, spacing out her words with care.

"Nothing," I replied. I was telling the truth, because I didn't start gambling yet.

"I got 1200. Nickels. Never happened before." The bartender brought her drink over and then immediately walked away. My Dad didn't say anything either and - though I neglected to check - was probably snickering at me behind my back (like he always does).

"What are you going to do with the money?" I asked. I had to respond - I was kind of trapped and had to say something.

"Spend it," she said.


"I don't know. What do you think?"

At this point she had made me thoroughly uncomfortable, although to be fair I was uncomfortable from the moment she sat down. "Shoes," I said. "Buy a few pairs."


"Buy more booze, then!" I said, pointing to the bottles of vodka behind the bar. (I was making fun of her, but she didn't seem to notice.)

"YEAH!" she yelled, loud enough for anyone to hear if anyone cared at all. Meanwhile, I heard her handbag vibrating. She lifted her sleepy, dazed head slowly and reached in her purse. She checked the device. She put it back in her purse and put her face back down on the bar. She looked at me. She didn't say anything.

I took a few swigs of my beer and said something to Dad, who was switching his attention between the Elvis Impersonator and the TV. I turned back to the young woman and she was still looking at me. I didn't say anything (I maybe nodded, I don't remember). I went back to my beer. I fiddled with the napkin. I looked back. She was still looking at me.

"Are you tired?" I asked.

She didn't even respond. The drink she had in front of her had mysteriously disappeared, as if there was a hidden straw under her cheek that looped under the bar that she was using. I don't recall seeing her take a swallow. I quickly finished my beer and nudged Dad to finish his. "Do you want to go?" I asked him.

He and I got up and put our coats on and she asked me where I was going. I told her we were walking to the Hard Rock Cafe, which was a lie (we were actually going to Caesar's Palace).

"Stay," she said. "Have another."

"No, no, no, we have to go," I told her, already pushing my chair in.

"Is that your Dad?" she asked, smiling like she figured out some great mystery.

Dad didn't say anything, so I had to answer. "Yeah, that's my Dad," I admitted.

"Awwww!" she exclaimed.

"Have a good evening," I said and walked out in front of a very slow-moving Dad, who was probably relishing my chance encounter with Ms. Stolichnaya.

Upon walking out into the rain, neither of us spoke for a few minutes. Then, being Fatherly, he said to me, "If you wanted to stay there with her I could have just met up with you later." He smirked.

I laughed, because no other response was fitting. I was once again reminded of the disturbing fact - and it's happened a lot - that Women in general only talk to me when they're fucking plastered. A fast-food whore in a dive bar? Talk to Matt. A fatty on a cruise ship who drank too many Mai Tais when her boyfriend wasn't around? Talk to Matt. An older, beat-up looking woman with a fetish for emaciated poets? Talk to Matt. Taciturn librarians from New York? Bi-polar sorority girls from California? Devoted Catholics who are saving themselves for marriage? There's Matt. Do a shot. Talk to Matt. Do another shot. Bother Matt. Do another shot. Yell in Matt's face.

Sober, it's all a different story. Sober, I'm a pylon that you have to drive your truck around. What's that noise I heard? I think I ran over someone. That was Matt. Who's that guy I bumped into and never said excuse me? That was Matt. I spilled my coffee on this guy's shoes ... who was that dweeb? That was Matt. Did someone just ask me something? Oh, that was Matt ... but because I'm a brain-dead twat with a hearing problem I'm going to ask him to repeat whatever he asked me over and over and over again until he gives up asking and I can devote more time to thinking about why men have nipples and why Rico Chico the Banana Baron got voted off the Big Survivor Brother Island of the Stars.

As a result of all this, I'm starting to think I only look presentable if and when everyone's over the legal limit to drive. Maybe I am the ugly girl at the party. You know, the one you 'settle for' and wake up regretting? Instead of "Awww, dude, I did the fat girl!" it's "Awww, shit, I did the Matt!" Getting thyself to a nunnery is the next logical step.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Your Cell Phone Is a Marvelous Prop

Groucho Marx had his cigar. Charlie Chaplin had his cane and hat. Carrot Top has his trunk full of shit. Demetri Martin has a pad of paper. But people nowadays have their own prop, and it's used constantly in the Theater of Life: the cell phone. They come in different forms from different companies and do different things: some have extra features, like cameras to photograph your underage girlfriend's tits, cameras to photograph your own underage tits, songs stolen off the Internet, games involving plumbers and princesses and flowers spitting fire, chat software so you can keep in constant touch with your dealer who works middle shift at Best Buy. But they're all basically cell phones.

Cell phones and their usage make us look important. Like, so important, people can't turn them off to order a burger or get their super complicated ultra skim latte mocha-fuckachino at $tarbucks. There's nothing 'cooler' than standing around, looking bored and flicking away on your phone, sending a text to someone else at some other location letting everyone around you aware that you're just too frickin' awesome to care about what's going on in that room at that time, that you got some connection, some place, somewhere else you're always ready to go to with a flick of a button. Your half-dead, rotting corpse may be in one area, but your mind is elsewhere. Always had a problem what to do with your hands in an awkward situation? Press buttons! Don't like talking? Press buttons! Driving's boring as hell? Let go of the steering wheel, you're about to get a high score on "Snake!"

Actually, the constant calling and texting make your evenings look a Samuel Beckett play. Let me give you a typical Friday night: People message or call each other to get together and meet somewhere. They meet somewhere and then don't know where to go from there, so they text other people to meet them somewhere else, and so they go there next. And when they're there, they text more people, come up with another plan, maybe do that, maybe not, maybe fracture off into sub-groups. Those sub-groups go in different directions to different locales, and while at those locales they text those same fucking people they just left to tell them where they are and what they're doing. Eventually, the night hours run out, everyone gets tired and goes home to rape each other silly, get arrested or go to bed. The next day, the same thing happens again.

What in the crap is wrong with you people? Basic conversations with people in real life have become a struggle. All I see are glowing devices emitting signals killing bees. (And without the bees, what will birds fuck? ... cuz that's what happens, right?) What's happening is people aren't living in the moment, things are just drifting by them. If any of you knew who Thich Nhat Hanh is, which most you probably don't, you'd know that he (a.) isn't dead, (b.) isn't a hip-hop producer and (c.) thinks that your mindlessness is actually wounding your soul. Your soul! No, you clod, I'm not talking about the music of John Legend. I'm taking about that entity that lives inside you that... wait, what? You gotta take this one? Okay, fine. I'll ... just ... count the change in my pocket ...

... don't mind me.