Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dear Local Mall

Years ago, I lived in Seaford, DE.  Seaford's two claims to fame are that it was the birthplace of Major League Baseball Player Delino De Shields.  They claim that twice, since they think it is that important.  For obvious reasons, we would drive to the mall about 20 minutes away across the border in Maryland when we needed to buy anything that wasn't made out of corn or meth amphetamine. The mall, back then, was brand new, and had everything you could need.  There were two bookstores, two record stores, a great food court, and a huge arcade.  There was even a big stage at one end of the mall that should have been called "The Observatory", since a music stage at the mall is a great place to see falling stars. 

Right before high school, I moved further away from that mall, but I was still there almost every weekend, since I had friends that lived near it.  The Sam Goody had a great punk music section, and I had friends that worked at the Boscovs.  That was a great store to waste time in, because they, like any true department store, sold almost everything other than groceries.  It was also kind of kitschy retro, with a decor that looked like an early 1980's rec room.

Two weeks ago, I decided to go there to do some Christmas shopping.  It had probably been ten years since I had gone to that mall, and I thought maybe it would be a nice change of pace, and fun to see it again.  I was about as close to being right about that as I was when I said that reality TV would die out after 2007 or that I would never get tired of the song ""How Bizarre" by OMC.  By my count, at least five storefronts were boarded up or vacant.  Both bookstores and music stores were gone, the stage was taken away, and even the bridge that went over a water feature was taken out, and the water was removed.  I became more and more depressed the further I got into the mall.  Even Santa wasn't in "Santa's Village", which could have been renamed "Middle Aged Persian Man's Velour Sex Den" and not have needed to change anything.  By the time I reached Boscov's, at the far end of the mall, I had bought nothing, and wanted to weep for my lost childhood. 

Crossing the threshold of that store was the closest thing one could come to time travel.  The store was exactly identical to the way it looked when the mall opened in 1990.  It became apparent that back then, it didn't have a retro feel for the early 1980's.  The people who run Boscovs obviously believe that 1982 was the last good year ever.  If they could be blasting Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska and passing out leg warmers, they would be doing it.  Literally the only concession to progress I saw was that most of the clothing they were selling was modern, and they had taken out the section where they used to sell tapes and cd's, right in front of the washing machines and tv's.

This is something they were selling:

This was not being sold in the bedding section.  This was being sold near the chocolate counter and the candles.  There is no way this product has not been in some storeroom since 1992.  I read the box.  Nowhere did it explain why it is the most comfortable pillow, or how many times this man has killed, or if he will again.  I mean, really look at this guy.


My guess is that the pillow is so comfortable because this mustachioed creeper has dosed the pillow with chloroform, and you will gently glide into unconciousness when you lay your head down.  He will then use his tiny, misshappen left hand to stroke your hair while you sleep, singing you a lullabye in a beautiful falsetto.  Later, he will add a lock of your hair to the luscious soup strainer over his top lip so that you will always be together.

Thank you Boscov's for showing me that you can go home again.  It's just that home might be occupied by a guy who is still devastated that he lost the part of Al on Home Improvement. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

No Update This Week

Tonight is not the night to be posting some farcical story about unpleasantries. I will resume blog posts next Sunday. My good friend and reader Jeff has said it well, so I will quote him.

"This is a horrible, horrible tragedy. And as contrived and awkward as these moments can be, even someone as cynical as I am can acknowledge how important and powerful this kind of memorial really is.

I hope everyone affected gets some comfort from this service, and that everyone who cares at all about humanity will work to ensure that positive changes come about in the wake of this tragedy."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Mauling of the Faithful

Open Letters to My Enemies is starting a new holiday.  December 12 is now known as the Mauling of the Faithful.  On this day, I will take the time during this holiday season to post slanderous and possibly unfounded facts about individual readers that have "Liked" the blog on Facebook.  That could be you!  Go "Like" it now, and celebrate with us tomorrow. 
 https://www.facebook.com/OpenLettersToMyEnemies



We now have the official song of The Mauling of the Faithful- an adaptation of Bruce Springsteen's "Wild Billy's Circus Story", done by reader Matt Lesley.  Lyrics are

The angry man climbs into his chair like a drunkard onto his stool
And the scribbler's writin' in a cold sweat, victim of his rage
Behind the desk, his hand tightens on his pen, like a madman's finger on the button
His wrath is on the shortwave

The red rage lies ahead like a great false dawn
Aging Hippie, Family in a Minivan, Lady sittin’ barefoot in her chair
Denver the Last Dinosaur
And the crazy eyed Giada De Laurentiis
His wrath has been born

And the pressure is a buildin’, pacing to-and-fro, pullin' out his hair
With a cannon blast, lightnin' flash, burnin' through the ink, Hell-bent
He's gonna vent his rage, oh, God save them all
And the words are a flyin', watch the enemies feel his pain
And the writer gets the crowds to read along

A ragged keyboard in his hand, he stomps angrily through the world
And the internet's haunted by his impotent howls
They echo like a great a banshee on the wind
A baggy shorts man in December, writer’s block, and a mockingbird
Fleein' to some small Nebraska town
Jesus, send some sweet women

And the Angry Man dances like a monkey on barbed wire
He romances his fury, with a fire in his belly
And how his marks flee in fear to the sounds of his computer like machine gun fire
The man’s a live wire

And the angry man lifts the pen, fist trembling with rage
And puts tip to paper, through the red, past the fury, in his dimly lit trailer
And the nub scratches and scratches and it ain't ever gonna stop
And the blogger bends over the keyboard and whispers to himself
"You all better run,
Because it’s time to maul the Faithful

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dear Local Utility Company

Things had gotten dire.  The compressed air for my soda stream had been spent, and I was left with no choice but to venture out and replace it.  This involves traversing perhaps the most wicked and painstaking three mile drive one can endure through a small town.  First, one must cross the infamous "bypass" that has almost as heavy traffic as the road it is supposed to be a helpful alternative to.  Next, you must sit at least four minutes at the Five Point Intersection of Despair.  After a short delay at the Stoplight-of-Constant-Construction-and-Snotty-Tennis-Players -Watching-You-From-The-Tennis Courts-Next-To-The-Road, you must make a left hand merge, LEFT I SAY, onto one of the busiest roads in America.  Finally, you must contend with the traffic of the lost souls and demons leaving Walmart in order to make it to the relative peace and seclusion of the Staples parking lot.  Here, and only here, may you exchange your officially licensed Soda Stream carbonator for a replacement. 

Things began badly from the outset.  As I boarded my trusty Jeep, my stomach knotted as I found my pockets vacant of my Ipod, the only source for tasty and uplifting tunes.  Having long abandoned terrestrial radio, the only preset on my car radio is the station for the Phillies games.  It is on every button.  The only CD I had was a scarred and battle worn mix made for a trip to Atlantic City years before, and I was damned if I would return to the house, climb the stairs, and retrieve my Ipod.  Time was of the essence.  I climbed into the car, inhaled deeply, and hit the scan button on the FM dial.  Apollo, god of travel, smiled upon me this day.  The third station held ominous silence for several moments, only to unleash the unmitigated fury and unabashed revelry of 80's supergroup Toto's Africa.  This journey would be prosperous.  I could not lose.

Together, Toto and I crushed the bypass beneath our heels.  We sailed unmolested through the Five Point Intersection of Despair, and we ignited the tennis courts at the S-o-C-C-a-S-T-P-W-Y-F-t-T- C-N-T-T-R in a blaze of purifying sound thanks to a blistering air key-tar solo.  Not even the dreaded left hand merge could phase us.  Toto and I were untouchable together.  As we crested the rise and entered the Staples parking lot, the final chorus entered a pitched fever, and as the final strains of the song echoed through the ears of the mortals enjoying their Quiznos subs, I exited my car, air canister held aloft, ready to kick ass, chew bugglegum, and make a small business transaction to allow me to make my own soda once again.

Unfortunately, like Icarus, I had flown too close to the sun.  As I swiped my credit card, mere seconds away from my goal, you murderous trolls at the Utilities company deigned to bring me back to earth.  I entered my debit code, returned my wallet to my pocket, and just as the machine was ready to print my receipt, the power was shut off to every business on the block.  Disbelieving, I asked if it had worked.  The man behind the counter told me no, and that I would need to leave with my old, nonworking carbonator.  Without power, there would be no transaction. It took me thirteen minutes to drive the three miles home, listening to the mournful wail of Billy Joel as he ate at an Italian restaurant.  I wasted a total of close to half an hour because you cannot keep the power on, one of your only jobs, aside from making sure no one poisons the town water supply.

You owe me my time back, as well as my pride, and a carbonator.  I will settle for the carbonator and the phone number of the lady behind the customer service counter at Staples.  You have 30 minutes.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dear Nebraska


I am a vain man, and I occasionally (constantly) check the stats on the blog.  Last night, I decided to have some fun and see the overall viewership geographic data.  Sounds boring, but it makes me happy on a bad day to know that some wonderful people (weirdos and perverts) that I have never met are reading what I write.  I pulled up the map, and this is what I see.





















In case you are confused, the shades of green do not stand for how many people per capita Greg thinks are hot in each state, because Maine and New Jersey would be much darker.  It also does not stand for how many people per state send Greg nice messages and sexy pictures on the Open Letters Facebook page or email, because then the map would be white.  See, Nebraska, the green means that people in that state are reading my blog.  The darker the green, the more people read.  You are the only state that has never had even one single reader.

Your state motto is "Equality before the law", yet I feel that I have been rudely prejudiced against.I reported this injustice to the local authorities, but apparently this does not constitute a "hate crime" and I was "wasting everyone's time and patience."   My next course of action was to go to the internet and try to ascertain why you would hate me so much.  The few facts I was able to gather did not shed much light.  I found out that your largest ethnic group is German-Americans, which means share common lineage and both hate the Dutch.  Koolaid was invented in in your state, and I like Koolaid.  Well, not cherry Koolaid.  That tastes like broken promises and expired Pez.  You sired such legendary entertainers as Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando, and Wade Boggs.  You also have 311, the guy that made the snuggie, and Larry the Cable Guy, but we will ignore that for now.  There seems to be no reason why not one of your 1,842,641 people have ever bothered to read my site.  So, this leads me to blind speculation and slander.

Illiteracy seems too easy.  I could attack the fact that one of your main tourist attractions is your Testicle Festival or that your state looks like a weird little kindergartener tried to draw the Slave-1 and failed miserably.  I could claim many things, but I won't for two reasons. First, you are so bland I had to look things up about you because I couldn't just come up with stuff to say about you. Second, you are where Children of the Corn is set, and that is punishment enough.

So, Nebraska Board of Tourism, I issue you a challenge.  If I see 200 views from Nebraska this month, I will publicly apologize to your state.  Also, if you send me a bus ticket and secure me lodging at your finest Clarion or Embassy Suites, I will do a public appearance, and we shall forge a new union of friendship and readership.

If I do not get the 200 readers, I will lead the Children of the Corn in an all out attack in your nightmares that will make what happened at Sesame Place when I was four look like the accident I still claim that it was. 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dear Giada De Laurentiis

Back when I was in college, we used to have something special.  I would wake up sometime around 2PM, and catch an episode of Everyday Italian while my housemates were in class.  That was our time, and no one could take that from us.  I would close the blinds and put on my best Bouncing Souls shirt.  You would smile at me, and cook some spaghetti alla puttanesca.  This is how we would do our dance of love.

Eventually, I came to find out that I was not the only one smitten with your heavenly Italian foods and low cut tops.  I shouldn't be surprised, seeing as gnocchi is a natural aphrodisiac.  The most jarring instance that comes to mind was during a trip to a pawn shop in Bangor, ME.  As I perused the display cases with my friend Furious T. and debated the merits of the plethora of bolo ties on display, we noticed that you were on the television.  Both of us stopped to watch for a moment, then looked at the grizzled man behind the counter.
    
           "You boys like this show, too?" he uttered lustily, never taking his eyes from the screen.  A smattering of spittle and B&M beans crusted the corners of his mouth, and I am certain he had uttered the phrase "Looks like the spider has caught himself a fly" at least once in his life.

           T. smiled at him and commented that it wasn't hard to watch, to which the man told us, in no uncertain terms, that he would like to "Crawl up between those titties and live there."

That was the beginning of the end for us.  The gloss was off of our once perfect union.  I began to notice that you felt the need to make sure that everyone knew you were Italian, since being the host of "Everyday Italian" might leave some doubt.  Therefore, any time any vaguely Italian word came up in the script, you would milk it for all it was worth.  Mozzarella suddenly had eight syllables, and nine e's and l's.  You said pancetta in such a way that it sullied cured meats for me for at least a week. 

I will not say I no longer find you pretty.  I will simply say that through the years, you've gradually come closer to resembling a lollipop with a disturbing, omnipresent vacant smile.  It's not a happy smile.  It's the kind of smile you see on a stripper before she starts crying in the champagne room, or that glazed over look a child gets when they realize they can't spell "crescent" in the spelling bee. Also, I hate the fact that anything on your show that is filmed outside of the kitchen seems to be filmed through several layers of gauze and filters.  It's like your second unit director came straight off of a soft core porn film and decided to just use the same camera.  

I regret to tell you this, but I've met someone else.  Her name is Nadia G.  She's from a different station, and I think that maybe that is what I need at this point in my life.  I know I don't usually go for blonds, but there is a real connection there.  You both have some things in common.  You are both Italian, and you pronounce things weird.  She is Italian/French/Canadian though, so she has a little more of an excuse.  Also she dresses like she's got a 1950's fetish, and she she seems like she may be genuinely insane, but it is the exciting kind of insane.  Kind of like she may make you some dinner, give you a kiss, then punch you and sing a happy song while she eats all of the food in front of you while staring you in the eyes and never blinking.

 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dear Woman Leaving Bed, Bath, and Beyond

You may remember me from last Wednesday night.  I was the tall Adonis with the shaved head walking into Bed, Bath and Beyond as you were walking out.  You were the attractive woman that gave me a look usually reserved for use by my ex girlfriends, or for Courtney Love when someone asks her to please stop singing and take a bath.  It was a look that combined confusion, disgust, and unearned abhorrence into a frothy and bitter stew, and for once, I didn't deserve it.  You seem to think that I had been hitting on you while I was out with another woman, and there are several reasons why that is not the case. 

Yes, I smiled at you and said "Hi, how are you doing?" and yes, I was walking in with my friend Cindyloo.  She is a lady, she is my friend, but she is not my ladyfriend.  In fact, she was a few steps ahead of me, partially because she walks like a caffeinated hummingbird, and partially because I was watching a woman on an elliptical in the gym next door.  I looked away from the wonder that is yoga pants, and there you were.  We both caught each other's eye, and as a matter of courtesy, I addressed you. There was no reason to stare at me, then look at Cindyloo, and then look back at me like I was a pervert. 

Perhaps it was my smile that alarmed you.  I agree, it can be unsettling, kind of like Moe from the Simpsons.  My eyes close, I only have a dimple on one side, and it looks forced because my face hates smiling.  In the same regard, even though you are probably attractive most of the time, you looked like Don Knotts giving birth when you gave me the stink eye.  See, it doesn't feel good to be called a gargoyle, does it?

The only other issue you could have had was how I greeted you.  I would grant you that it may have sounded like I was pouring on the charm, but I assure you, my natural speaking voice just happens to be that amazing.  I am a big hit with the middle aged women that call into my work, so I am sorry if my salutation made you feel like you were being nestled in a soft, baritone embrace.  It could not be helped. 

All of this being said, you were kind of cute, so now that you know what really happened, you can meet me at the restaurant around the corner from the old B, B, and B next Tuesday.  I will be the one yelling at the server named Ryan, because he was worthless and doesn't understand what "no tomatoes" means. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dear Movie Theaters

I don't make it out to the movies as often one would think.  I love movies, but I hate people.  Well, at the very least I have learned that I can't trust that people will behave themselves enough for me to enjoy the show, so I often go without.  Recently, I've made a concerted effort to get out more, so I took a trip to Washington DC to see Seven Psychopaths with my friend, Spike.

Before you think you have this all figured out, I will tell you this letter is not about the filthy drunk hipsters that sat in front of me, braying and snorting throughout the movie.  I could have told them that the movie had just been named the #1 movie in America, and they would have left to go listen to a CD of some guy in Paris, Texas banging a glockenspiel and singing off key in a petting zoo, or whatever asinine thing hipsters are doing now.  It also wasn't about the woman behind me that rustled through a garbage bag full of food through the first twenty minutes of the movie.  She stopped that when I growled at her.  I refuse to be that obvious to complain about the people making noise in a movie. 

No, this is about what you, the greedy movie theaters that are hell bent on ruining my experience.  This new movie trivia crap that you have before movies is awful, but I understand.  Instead of letting people get their conversations done before the movie begins, you have to play loud, annoying top 40 music while you give stupid multiple choice questions about celebrities.  I don't care at all if Natalie Portman almost didn't take the role of annoying female love interest in Thor, or in Ashton Kutcher has seven nipples, but I get that you get ad revenue for this, so I was content to leave it alone.  This theater in DC, however, blatantly showed commercials instead of the trivia.  I see these commercials for ten minutes out of every half hour of television I watch.  I don't need to see them for the twenty minutes before a movie starts. 

Finally, the lights went down, and I prepared myself for the previews, which I like almost as much as the movie.  I was eagerly awaiting a trailer for Red Dawn, and grew more excited as the standard "Turn off Your Phone", "Buy Our Candy", and "Obey" messages all flashed across the screen.  Finally, the previews started up!  And lo and behold!  MORE MELON PICKING, CORK SCRUBBING, FORK AND RASPBERRY COMMERCIALS.  The actual movie did not start until thirty minutes after the advertised start time.  If you are getting ad money from all of these commercials, you should not be selling movie tickets for $15 a piece.  I could have done so many things, and I doubt a jury would have convicted me for any of them.

A few nights later, I went to see Argo with my parents.  My father only sees movies that "could really happen", so he only goes roughly once every five years.  I weathered through the stupid trivia, I made it through the seven, and I counted you sick freaks, SEVEN commercials, and I was a good boy. 

Was I rewarded at the end of this with the trailer for Red Dawn?  Of course not.  You showed a music video by Kimbra.  The entire music video.  And when my father leaned over and asked me who Kimbra was and why we were watching this, my only response could be was that she was an putrid, squalling sea hag and that we were being punished for some long forgotten hubris that mankind had offended her with.  She was here to teach us that nothing would ever be alright, ever again.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dear TNT Network

It wasn't so long ago that you were known as the "Shawshank Network" because that was where you got 15 hours a day of your programming.  With that in mind, you can't tell me that you've got so much going on that you can't entertain ideas for better programming.  I looked up your schedule for Fridays.  You show 6 hours of Law and Order, followed by 2 hours of The Mentalist.  Unless you are trying to fight CBS for the Old People demographic, maybe it is time for a change, and that change is bringing back Monstervision.

When I was growing up, Friday night on TNT meant watching Joe Bob Briggs, that tall, lanky redneck, hosting B, horror, exploitation, and just plain fun movies.  The man was in Casino and was a correspondent on the Daily Show, and you had the gall to cancel his show.  Would you do that to Pesci or Jon Stewart?  I thought not.  Before him, Penn and Teller were hosting it, and your took the show away from them.  You were obviously young and confused, or else you were simply content to watch the world burn around you. 

In the twelve years since Monstervision aired, America has been laying the groundwork for its triumphant return.  Case in point, the Redneck Renaissance.  Blue Collar Comedy, Duck Dynasty, Hillbilly Handfishin', Rocket City Rednecks....I unfortunately could keep going.  Apparently we love rednecks and hillbillies now, so Joe Bob Briggs would fit right in.  This has to be the case, or Larry the Cable Guy would never have had ten movie roles and 50 tv roles after he decided to adopt a redneck persona.  Would this guy have gotten any of those things?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nqm-vKWEkoU  To be fair, the persona he does now shouldn't either, but I digress.

Pretentious wad and horrible director Quentin Tarantino has spent the last ten years convincing everyone that B- movies and exploitation movies are the best, and that every movie today owes them.  Unfortunately, he is the only one who isn't repulsed by his voice, so no one listens.  Joe Bob was preaching about how fun these movies can be for years.  He introduced me to Phantasm and Don Cascaralli, who would later direct Bubba Hotep, a movie that may in fact heal the world.  Do you want to know how he sold me on the movie?  He gave a Drive In Total to start each movie, and for Phantasm II he said
"Twelve dead bodies. Exploding house. One four-barreled sawed-off shotgun. Dwarf tossing. Ten breasts. Embalming needles plunged through various parts of various bodies. One motor-vehicle chase, with crash-and-burn. Ear-lopping. Forehead-drilling. Wrist-hacking. Bimbo-flinging. Grandma-bashing. Devil sex. Crematorium Fu. Flamethrower Fu. Four stars. Check it out."
 That was all twelve year old Greg needed to hear to know that he had stumbled across something special.  You are depriving the world of this kind of joy, just to cram in a reshowing of some Hollywood blockbuster from five years ago  No one wants to watch Book of Eli edited for television.  That is how you get a "Yippee Kay Yay, Mr. Falcon" scenario.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dear The Chive

On the surface, you seem like a nice diversion from any work I currently have at hand.  Upon closer paranoid inspection, or veiled through general depression, your true intentions become much more sinister.  I am convinced that you are a site tailored to show me all of the things that I want and can never have.

The most obvious posts would be all of the attractive, scantily clad, or simply fun seeming women you show daily.  This in and of itself doesn't distinguish you much from Maxim magazine or any other website or publication.  Things geared to men in their twenties tend to try to show insanely beautiful women, but try to make them seem approachable and human.  Your take on this is "Newly Single Chivettes" and "I Need to Find a Goofy Girl" threads.  I find it hard to believe that any of those women stay single for remarkably long periods of time, and despite some of the comments to the contrary, when women say they want a funny guy, they always mean a hot funny guy.  The H-O and T are all silent. 

Next, you have posts about all the neat places I will never live, and places I can never afford.  Posts about Man Caves and Bachelor pads that appear to cost at least six digits may be inspirational for me to get my ass in gear and make the money to get them, but I know I could never even come close.  In the end, they simply become an unrealistic benchmark to cheapen any accomplishment I end up making.  The salt in the wound is your "Midweek Getaway" posts where you show awesome vacation retreats that you would have to be a pimp that also robs banks and sells Faberge eggs to afford.  Given my typical work schedule, I am off midweek when this rolls out, and I get to oggle the tropical paradises from my beaten up recliner in my bleach stained "comfy clothes".  The only thing left to make me feel less awesome would be if I was jobless, unwashed and watching a video of my high school crush mocking me and laughing while I sit and wonder why I can't fly out to Malibu on a whim.

You go over the line with your "Cat Saturday" posts.  It is not fair to post pictures of cute, loveable fluffy kittens.  I have a giant orange stripey bastard cat that moans like a leper when picked up and cackles wildly while running around the house with his toys.   His favorite game is opening up bathroom doors, then running away, and he wails like a drunk until he is fed.  Don't make me despise this national treasure of a cat.

The absolute worst thing you do make me feel left out is by actually not including me in your little crew.  There are magical things called KCCO shirts.  They are green and say "Keep Calm, Chive On", the official motto of the site.  All of the posts that feature your shirts make it seem like if you have one, you are part of something special.  If a Chivette sees you out on the street in one, she will approach you.  People will buy you drinks, and you will be included in all of the camaraderie.  The only problem is, you can never buy a shirt.  They are not on sale constantly, only on the special occasions when you decide to sell them.  Worse, they sell out within minutes of when they go on sale.  Thus, you are worse than Krispy Kreme with their "Fresh Donut" sign.

Of course, none of this means I will stop going to your site, dreaming of better days ahead while loathing today.  Thank you for that. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dear Greg from Last October

Hopefully, my time machine has worked.  If not, fifteen fuzzy little hamsters will have bravely given their lives for science, but nothing will change for me.  If it has worked, then I was able to pierce the fabric of time and get this letter to you.  That in and of itself should prove how serious this is.  Greg, no matter how good of an idea it is, you should not start a blog called "Open Letters to My Enemies".

If you really think about it, this a terrible idea.  You're creating more work for yourself and you are going to have to take time out of your busy writing schedule to do this.  Can you really afford to stop work on that book you've been writing since 2007?  I mean, after over five years, that thing has to be reeeeaaaaallllly long, and it has to be almost finished, right?  Can you afford to tax your unique talent and voice with another writing project?

Don't forget about that podcast you are doing.  I know you said a few weeks ago that you are going to take a short break from it, but you will definitely come back to it.  There is no way that you will have already recorded what will be the last lackluster episode, and then keep making excuses to the five people who tune in.  I totally haven't shut off payment of the website account.  That was a great idea, by the way, to pay more for higher bandwidth.  You never know when that podcast is going to blow up big and exceed your page limitations.  That was a really sound investment. 

Anyway, back to this blog thing.  You aren't a fifteen year old girl who has to let the world know about how great her favorite band or actor is.  There is no reason you need to have a Blogger account.  What exactly do you hope to accomplish with this thing?  Show of your rapier wit?  Fame?  Seriously, we've done sixty of these letters at this point.  You want to know what that got us?  Did you become the next Hyperbole and a Half?  The next The Oatmeal?  You would need over 1000 times the page views we get for each post to get into their level.  Text with Dog is a blog that will start pretty soon after you get this letter.  That guy goes viral in about 2 days.  He got a book deal too.  We will not be going viral.  We will never get the book deal. 

Oh, I know!  You want to impress the ladies!  Yeah, ladies love a man that tries to shame kids a book fair, or engages in an internet war with a song bird.  Posting letters like that is like posting that picture your mom has where she dressed you in a half shirt, short shorts and knee socks when you were five because she obviously didn't respect you, or she wanted you to be single for life.

You might as well just start up a public access tv show where you do Jazzercise with old ladies.  The results will be shockingly similar, and maybe you will actually lose some weight. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dear Credit Card Company Merchant Services

"Thank you for calling Viking loving, Alec-Baldwin-ass-kissing Credit Card Supply Center.  Please hold and an associate will be with you shortly.  Please note that the call may be recorded to ensure quality."

This is the message that I listened to for 38 minutes, 12 seconds while you had me on hold at work.  The message would play for 19 seconds, then you would play music for another 20 seconds, and the message would begin again.  With that math, it is safe to assume I heard your announcer woman's nasally, grating voice repeat this roughly 58 times, interspersed with a truly uncomfortable piano concerto version of Metallica's Unforgiven.  I am fairly certain I could bring you on trial for war crimes and win a swift victory. 

Why would I wait on hold for so long?  That would be because you have failed to send me the credit card thermal paper I ordered from you over two weeks ago.  I was told four to seven business days.  Did you mean 4+7 business days?  It has in fact been eleven days, so if you meant that, you would no longer be a bunch of whore liars.

Somewhere around fifteen minutes of this version of oral scabies you set loose on me, I started to think that perhaps you had forgotten to change the on hold message, and that you were in fact out of the office.  Certainly, a credit card company should be available to companies on a Saturday, seeing as how we may need you for authorizations or credit card terminal problems, so that shouldn't be the case.  I instead chose to believe that my call was interrupting some epic game of hide and seek.  I hate hide and seek, so that is why I put one call on speakerphone, then called you from another phone of the desk next to mine.  This was a miscalculation on my part.  The effect of having this in stereo can only really be likened to the time the US Government bombarded Manuel Noriego with Van Halen night and day.  I was ready to hand over all of my control over Panama just to make this torture end.

I sincerely hope you were recording that call.  I hope you have to listen to that tape far longer than I had to listen to yours.  May my soft weeping and pleas for a swift death or the delivery of my thermal paper haunt your dreams. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dear Sleepy Time Sound Machine App

I recently purchased your App for the Kindle Fire.  I have a hard time falling asleep, because nighttime tends to be the time when all the other Gregs that live in my head like to talk to me/ mock me/ remind me of all of the things I forgot to do that day.  I tried your limited access free version, and liked it a good deal, so I went ahead and bought your full version.

I must say, I am big fan of Distant Storm #1 and #2.  The light sound of rain and far off lightning puts me right to sleep.  My mind was actually tricked into thinking it was storming outside at one point.  That is how good you are at capturing these sounds.  I do find that some of your other sounds leave much to be desired. 

I tried your "Camping" sounds out.  I had in mind that there would be soft crackling of a fire, maybe some soft wind, and leaves rustling.  I was basically right, in the same respect that you can say that Necco wafers are a candy.  They are made of sugar, and people pass them out at Halloween, but that doesn't change the fact that they taste like someone ate chalk and green beans and then sneezed into your mouth.  There was crackling, and there was wind.  The crackling sounded like Louie Anderson jogging on bubble wrap, and the wind is reminiscent of the ghostly wails of the damned.

Quickly moving on, I tried out a few of your "Box Fan" sounds for a bit of white noise.  Numbers 1 and 2 sound like vibrators that accidentally turned on in a wooden drawer, and number three sounds like a soft spoken man chuckling in the corner of your room which would be the creepiest setting you have, if not for your "Heartbeat" sound which empties your bowels after 3 minutes. 

The most ridiculous thing you added was "Morning Birds".  Why would someone go to sleep to the sounds of birds?  It makes you feel like your entire night's sleep is your attempt to get ten more minutes of sleep before your alarm goes off.  Why not make a sleep machine sound of an actual alarm clock, or your mother opening your bedroom door and yelling "Stop touching yourself!"?

Actually, I take that back.  The most ridiculous setting is "Microwave".  Who in the living hell gets soothed to sleep by the sound of a microwave?




Monday, October 8, 2012

Dear Paramount Pictures

From 1993- 1996, Nickelodeon aired a show called The Adventures of Pete and Pete.  The whole show is a product of the time it came from.  It was infused with the grunge sensibilities that were burgeoning at the time, which was exactly the type of music I, as an idiot kid, had embraced and used to define me as a person.  Dozens of grunge and alternative artists cameo on the show, never as stunt casting, always out of respect for the quality of the show.  It delighted in its eccentricities without being weird for weird’s sake, and that in itself makes it something foreign in programming geared towards children today.  You either see something treacly and wholesome, or something so silly that it is garbage.  Point in fact, there is a thing called Fred on Nickelodeon.  I have seen commercials.  This is a kid acting like a freak with his voice sped up and this thing has a full season of tv, plus three movies, all of which are on DVD.  


The Adventures of Pete and Pete got DVDs too.  In 2005, seasons one and two were released shortly after I graduated from college.   I gobbled up those seasons, and waiting patiently for season 3 to get released in February, 2006.  Some of my favorite episodes were that season, and it was going to be worth the wait.  February came and passed, and Amazon still wouldn’t let me order.  Suddenly the preorder screen changed to a button to receive an email when the product became available.  Now, almost seven years later, the DVDs still have not been released. According to the show's creator, Will McRobb, everything was set to go in 2006.  Commentaries were recorded, extras obtained, and the DVDs were even pressed.  Now, they are rotting in some warehouse, and I would sincerely like to know why.

If these DVDs were made, what do you have to lose by selling them now?  If they are packaged and ready to go, what do you gain by sitting on them?  Looking at the releases you currently sell doesn't help matters.  You sell all of the seasons of Jersey Shore, but I refuse to admit that is anything other than torture porn.  You also have shows I have never heard from dating back to the 50's, all for sale.  You have a show called "Cannon", starring the eponymous Fat Man from Jake and the Fat Man.  I will just pause there so you can think about that.


Good?  Got that?  You are selling DVDs of the SECOND most popular show starring the Fat Man.  You might as well just sleep with my girlfriend in my bed while eating my favorite stromboli, since that might be the only way to disrespect me more. 

You also sell a show called "Matt Houston".  This show looks awful.  For those like me that have no idea what this show is, here is the description, directly from Paramount:
“Matt Houston (Lee Horsley) is rugged, rich and ready for action - and in Los Angeles, the action never stops, Oil may be Matt's business, but solving murders is his passion. With the help of his sexy lawyer sidekick C.J. Parsons (Pamela Hensley), and his unlimited wealth, he won't quit until each and every case is complete. The first season of Matt Houston features 23 episodes packed with the beautiful people and west-coast locales that make this show an all-time classic."
This is not an all time classic.  This is something I would joke about creating to pass the time at work and annoy people.  No one has watched that show and fondly reminisced about the days the show used to air.  Worse, this is something that is geared towards a generation that does not buy DVDs.  My parents have three and they were all given to them as presents, by me.  One of the DVDs still has not been watched.   This is more profitable than releasing DVDs that you have already pressed?

At this point, you are is the kid on the playground that throws the kickball over the fence so that no one can play with it, just because he doesn’t understand the rules.  Don’t be that kid. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dear Halloween Detracters


I was recently at a store with my friends Kentucky Jim and Cindyloo.  We were excited because it was finally about time that the Halloween displays were coming out, because Halloween has always been a big holiday in my group of friends. Since freshman year of college we've had a big Halloween party every year, and we come from all around to get together for it.  I remember several occasions where we killed time at Halloween superstores simply to look at all the awesome decorations and less awesome costumes.  I also have spent ridiculous amounts of time on costumes in the past, and those costumes were awesome.  I was Walter Sobchick, a Luchador in a fancy satin embossed suit, and Big Daddy from Kick Ass, just to name a few of my award winning costumes* *no awards were won.  As Walter, I got drunk and screamed at my friend Spike who was dressed as Donny until I was hoarse.  So, it stands to reason I would really want see what the great Halloween purveyors of America had concocted this year.  Also, Cindyloo seems to have some sort of fetish that involves Laffy Taffy and skulls, and I am not about to get between her and that, so we trolled through the store until we found the displays.

Initially, I was elated.  It seemed that the store had done some good work.  They had a scary haunted house suspended from the ceiling, and things seemed done up very nicely.  Something seemed off the closer I got, however.  It seemed too bright, too cheery.  I at first wrote this off to the florescent lights of the store, but then looked beyond the Halloween display, and saw this:

This photo was taken on September 24.  That is three months to the day before Christmas Eve.  To put that in better terms, three months is a full quarter of the year.  Should we start gearing up for New Years?  That's only a week after Christmas.  Halloween itself was exactly one month and one week away.  Honestly, it was a little early even for the Halloween decorations.  Yet, directly behind those, we get lighted angels, reindeer, and snowmen.  Why not throw in animatronic turkeys and a Diwali display to either side while we are at it?  Maybe they should be upselling Easter egg kits?

Don't get me wrong.  I am totally down with the Christmas spirit.  The problem I have is that people call it the "holiday spirit" like Christmas is the only holiday.  This would be like me stating that I have the jellybean spirit simply because I love lime jellybeans.  It completely disregards cherry, lemon, orange, and grape jellybeans.  They are no less real or delicious than the lime, but I am not acknowledging them in the least.  I am treating them like retched licorice jellybeans that taste like someone punched you in the nards and you need to pass out or vomit, which is what your disregard for Halloween feels like.  Just a big old right hook to the nards. 

Let's all just cool out, sit back, and enjoy the holidays as they come.  No Christmas displays should ever be erected until Black Friday.  If we continue to do this, I will continue to wear my green velour jogging suit while taking rips off a bottle of gin and screaming "Happy Patty's Day!" at all the kids in the park throughout November. 


Monday, September 24, 2012

Dear Shopper on the Same Routine as Me

This happens to me every time I shop.  I run into the same person in almost every aisle I go into.  No matter how I alter what aisles I go down, that person keeps in perfect step with me.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason.  You are not the first person to have done this to me, and you certainly not the best.  You are just the most recent, so therefore the most annoying.  There is no possible way we need to get the same exact things as each other in this grocery store.  I am a giant, twenty something man.  You are a small sixty something woman.  There doesn't seem like there would be a huge overlap in our diets, yet you continue to block me and slow me down in every aisle I go down. 

I was fine all the way through produce.  I apparently just missed you, because when we first crossed paths, you had your cart blocking the poultry fridge.  I know I just missed you in produce, because the only thing you had in your cart was one banana and one squash.  Not one bunch of bananas.  One solitary Chiquita.  Who in Neptune's saltwater-logged beard buys one banana?  I think the FBI actually puts you on some kind of watch list for prying off one banana from the bunch and deciding "Yup, that's just the right amount." Regardless, you were nowhere near the chicken, yet you insisted on blocking it with your cart.   I moved your cart, and you gave me a reproachful look when you came back for your beloved duo of banana and squash. 

To my credit, and my later regret, I let this pass, and wheeled several aisles away to peruse the selection of delicious and nutritious maple syrups, as I am want to do.  You see, if I have a third vice, after cigars and gambling, it would be maple.  Maple syrup, candy, fudge, whatever you can find that is maple, I will fight to obtain it.  Finding a bottle of good vintage and viscosity, I began muttering that waffles must be purchased, and purchased forthwith.  I pushed my cart about one foot and slammed directly into your cart, which you actually had packed perpendicular to both shelves, so it effectively barricaded the aisle.  I can only think that you had to quickly run down a previous aisle and then back up this one to head me off.  My maple addled brain could not fathom the reasoning for this, and you offered no solace to my plaintive whimper of "waffles?"  You only looked angry that I again foiled your plot of being completely in the way as a backpedaled and nearly took out a teenager to get out of the aisle. 

Safely in the freezer aisle, comforted with cool air and the promise of breakfast pastry, I loaded my cart.  Were this a movie, as I pushed my cart down the aisle, the checkout counter in sight, ominous music would begin to play.  As your cart slowly crept into view from behind the end cap, the music would swell, and when your beady little old lady eyes locked on mine as you revealed yourself in all your foul glory and turned into my aisle, the violins would screech like Kathy Griffin being beaten with feral cats.  Having screamed "Sweet lord, not again!" I would quickly retreat and knock the aisle over, trying to stop you once and for all.  This is not a movie, so the only thing I actually did was say "Nope" once you pulled in front of me, and turn around while you peered quizzically at me, like I am the one that has a problem. 

You have the problem, because the only new thing you added to the cart was a pie tin.  I refused to stick around and find out what satanical or kinky things you had planned with your squash, banana, and pie tin, so I ran down the next aisle and got into self checkout, even though I still needed to get some things.  They could wait. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dear Pumpkin Flavoring Manufacturers

I love Fall.  I love the cool nights, I love Halloween, I love playoff baseball and the start of football season.   I love sitting on my deck wearing a light jacket and enjoying a cigar without sweating to death.   I love the fall crops I grow in my garden: fresh lettuce, spinach, and collard greens, garlic and onions.  I even added to the garden this year and grew something to pay off my love of Halloween: pumpkins.  Why grow pumpkins you ask?  Not to shove into every edible object I can imagine, I can tell you that.  I hate pumpkin foods.

When did our culture decide that there must be pumpkin flavoring in every food and beverage produced between September and December?   I blame pumpkin pie.  It became perfectly acceptable for people to each this mushy, mealy poor excuse for a sweet potato pie.  Then someone decided to try making pumpkin cupcakes, since it is fairly similar.  People kept making little concessions, adding little bits of pureed pumpkin into ravioli or butter.  Slowly everyone let their guard down around this foul tasting squash.  Everyone became complacent, and that's how, most likely after some mescaline fueled sinfest at an Albuquereque bordello/pancake house, we started putting pumpkin into beers, lattes, and other liquids it doesn't belong in. 

Suddenly, you can't buy a damned thing that doesn't taste like pumpkin, or rot melon as I like to call it.  You can't escape it, and everyone thinks it is just great.  They sit around smearing pumpkin paste in their hair while drinking Punk'in Ale and talking about how good this gourd loving life is.  I have advocated for years to have this happen with maple flavor, but the damned Pumpkin constituency has drowned out any hope I have have of sweet domination.

Please allow me to eat a regular cupcake or bagel in October.  Allow me to have some modicum of enjoyment.  Just because I don't like eating pumpkin doesn't make me odd, and it doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to eat anything.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dear Department Store Cashier

This week has been particularly long.  Between being extremely busy at work and a lack of a good night's sleep the night before, I was not completely in my best shape. That much I will give you.   I may or may not have been humming "Space Age Love Song" by Flock of Seagulls, complete with phaser sounds, and I may have been staring too hard at the collection of complicated bubblegum flavors that lined your counter.  If in fact I was doing these things, that may be why I didn't hear you talking about me to the attractive lady in front of me in line.  Could I have lived in the bliss I enjoyed before tuning into that conversation, we all may have gone on to live happy, fruitful lives.

As I pondered how strawberry and mint gum seems more like a threat than a tasty treat, I heard you say "He ain't even listening."  Apparently, while you were ringing up the lady in front of me, you both were taking guesses about how tall I am.  Being preoccupied with plastic based sugary chews and 1980's new wave, I missed all of this, and also missed when you flat out asked me the answer.  Congratulations to you for guessing 6'9" on the dot.  With 7', the other lady was over, and thus lost by Price is Right rules. 

As you finished ringing up the lady, you went on with the conjecture and small talk I've gotten from better clerks that you:

1) Yes it is hard to buy clothes/shoes. 
2) No, I didn't play football or basketball.  I played baseball.
3) No, my parents aren't that tall. 

This was all fairly standard, all things I have answered countless times before.  You told me next that your oldest son is 6'5", and that is how you were about to guess my height. Again, not too out of the ordinary.  I will remember this fondly as the last cordial moment of our interaction.  I almost missed it when you said your son was much younger than me though, because he was only 27.   You almost got me to just agree and move on with it.  I wish I had.  Instead, I looked at you like you were a pack of lemongrass and curry Bubblicious, and I mutter, "I'm sorry, what?" You looked right at me, smiled, and said, "He's only 27.  You're what, late 30's, early 40's?"

I don't believe myself to be a vain man, but there was a line crossed.  I understand it looks like I was hit several times in the face with a testosterone shovel.  I know I had a day's worth of head stubble, so my hairline was visible.  I can actually see the black bags under my own eyes.  Even with all of that, do you REALLY think I look over ten years older than I am?  I am 2 years older than your son.  Dos. Zwei, deux, ni.  If I were to judge you by your missing tooth, split ends, and terrible grammar, I could come to some possibly unfair conclusions about you as well.  I don't play those games though.  I am above that.

I am not above muttering in anger and disbelief while I pay and then blurting out "You ruined any chance of that" when you tell me to have a nice day.  I am not above skulking out of the store.  I am also not above giving myself a pep talk in the car while listening to more new wave to unsuccessfully cheer me up while the lady in the car next to me slowly rolls up her window hoping I have T Rex vision and can't see her if she moves too slow. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dear Quirky Commercials Geared Towards Men

 

Old Spice, you did a valiant job.  You were doing  well with your Bruce Campbell commercials. Sure, they made very little sense, but that was the point.  You found someone that men ages 25-40 idolized and used him to shill your product.  You could have appealed to our sense of nostalgia by reminding us that you were the scent of our fathers and grandfathers, but you decided to appeal to our generation's unique sense of the absurd.  It was a good plan, and I bet it even worked. 



Quickly though, you switched tactics.  You appealed to the women in our lives, because I guess you decided that women are the ones that are doing the shopping, somewhere between their crying fits and reruns of General Hospital.  So you replaced the venerable Mr. Campbell with Old Spice Guy.
Ok, so still absurd.  Actually, maybe more so.  But it really did work.  The world went nuts for this, to the point where you had days where this guy took live requests to say things standing in a shower.  You are marketing geniuses!

Know who else is a marketing genius?  The guys from Dairy Queen!  Why?  Because they completely ripped you the hell off!


I mean, really?!?  It's like you just threw both of those previous commercials in a blender with some Reeses Pieces and sweet chewy gummy bears.  It is the same exact thing! I can almost see the desperate meeting where you middle aged hacks gave in and just started changing the competitor's commercial because you simply had no idea how you could ever connect with your target audience.  No amount of rapping dogs or hip grandmoms has worked, so please god, let this get through to them. 

At least no one else can think that they can pull off this type of thing and it won't get noticed.


Son of a bitch.  I feel like you think I am too stupid to even care at this point.  The joke's on you.  I am more apathetic than anything, but I am not too lazy to hunt and peck out this angry letter.

Everyone is doing the same thing.  I would say that Old Spice needs to sue, except that I know that Old Spice is a dirty thief too.

EXHIBITS A AND B
These commercials were way better than your stupid commercials.  And they came out first. 

Captain Morgan's Gold- 2002
Vault- 2006
Bruce Campbell Old Spice Ad- 2007
Old Spice Guy- 2008
Dairy Queen- 2011
Dollar Shave Club- 2012

Captain Morgan's Gold was an awful amalgamation of battery acid and demon's blood, but that commercial single handedly helped me graduate college.  The Vault commercial should have gotten an Oscar for greatest narration done by someone other than Morgan Freeman or the guy who played Booger in Revenge of the Nerds.

Both of these set the precedent for this rash of new commercials, with the inspirational music, forceful narration, background chanting, and the sheer joy of making it ok to be weird, manly, and weirdly manly.  Yet, somehow, these products didn't last, and few remember their glory, so you new ad execs are robbing their graves.

If I didn't find the boldness of your treachery somewhat inspiring, I would sick the replica of the Vault robot I made to kill the mockingbird on my roof after you.  I won't be that easy on you.  I happen to know that when Bruce Campbell realizes what you've made him a party to, you'll wish a robot would kill you with mortars. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dear Food Service Industry

The United States of America has won two World Wars and sent the British packing as many times to ensure that we didn't fall victim to the barbarous metric system.  We have our own system of weights and measures, and until recently, it has worked just fine.  I am not sure how it has changed.  We as a people are fairly averse to change, in fact, and we like things as easy as possible.  That's why we have rascal scooters and those grabber things fat people use so they don't have to get off their rascal scooters. 

I recently called a local pizzeria and asked what specials they were running.  The mouth breather on the phone told me that they were selling large pizzas for $8.99 and I was really surprised at how cheap they were.  In fact, it made me question why I had stopped ordering from them a few years back.  Doubt crept into my mind, and I, being a brilliant tactician and belligerent pessimist, questioned the chain's sizing options.  Sure enough, wise beyond his years Greg from 2008 had stopped buying this pizza because of an ill fated incident where he realized that instead of small, medium, and large, this pizza shop had large, extra large, and extra extra large.  The phone monkey at the shop confirmed that this was still the case. $8.99 is a very nice price for a true "large" pizza.  However, when your large is a small, that price is awful and you are the devil.

You cannot call a pizza a large pizza if it is not the largest size you sell.  In the same vein, the smallest pizza you sell is a small.  There is no discussion on this matter.  There was no wonderfully quirky 1980's sitcom called "Large Wonder" about a deadpanning robot.  It was "Small Wonder", because she was a dainty kid robot, and it was also delicious play on words.  Calling a small anything else is a mockery of nature, and I will have no part in your blasphemy. 

Coffee shops are even worse.  They are not content simply defying the natural order by reordering the sizes.  They, as true agents of chaos, have decided to simply re-purpose words or simply invent them to denote different sizes.  If you can call a large a venti, I am going to pay you for that venti with eyelashes, because we've obviously entered a magical pixie world where we make up all the rules as we go along. 


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dear Niagara Falls Gift Shops

I knew this wasn't going to be like Wonderfalls.  I will point that out right now.  There would be no painfully cute Caroline Dhavernas sulking behind the counter, and no melty faced lion cracking wise and giving out sage advice.  I am not completely delusional.  The only thing I expect is for you to have chintzy doodads and sparkly baubles that cost just enough that we know it a souvenier, but not enough that we won't buy it.  I expected to find something I could give to people, or at very least thrust into their faces and proclaim with gusto that I indeed saw water dropping at an alarming rate and from an awe inspiring height.  What I failed to take into account was that the 8 hour drive to get to Niagara had turned me into a crazy person that forgets that everyone and everything is out to try to prove me wrong.

Things started innocently enough.  My friend Kentucky Jim and I enjoyed some fine John Hay cigars while looking at the Falls.  We marveled at nature, pondered life's big questions, and I almost stepped on a small Asian child that wandered into my "You are too small and I cannot see you down there" radius like so many squirrels and sandcastles have done before it.  As the child's mother either thanked me for sparing her child, or put a pox upon my family for generations to come, Kentucky Jim used his keen powers of observation to notice the giant "Gift Shop" sign roughly twelve feet away, and dragged me inside.

As previously stated, I know souveniers are overpriced.  Apparently, since this particular gift shop overlooks the actual Falls, exactly $43 dollars is added to every item, either for some symbolic reason, or because at that price the owners can afford to buy lawyers whenever they decide to track and hunt homeless people for sport.  As I had a small tantrum over a $19 bottle maple syrup that could only be assuaged with a $4 piece of maple fudge, we decided to find a gift shop further from the Falls and hopefully cheaper.

We returned to my car and looked up "gift shop" in the GPS.  Choosing the most promising name, we drove three miles through a godless wasteland to find that there was no gift shop at that address, only a man vigorously peeing onto an abandoned building.  We crossed back to the other side of Niagara to find yet another closed shop.  Our third try found a shop roughly the size of a shack, and about as hospitable, and the fourth was a gas station.

We decided at this point to stop for dinner at a Polish restaurant I had read about, only to find out that when we got there, the street in front of it was ripped apart, and the restaurant had closed at 2PM, since that is when things close in Mad Max Waterfalls town.  As we wept at the absurdity in the car, we saw a miraculous sign.  "Niagara Falls Daredevil Museum- Free Admission.  TShirts, Souveniers, Film".  Finally, our prayers had been answered.  We could buy off the envy of our loved ones that did not come on the trip.

We were not careful what we wished for, which become abundantly clear upon entering the shop.  We were greeted with the smells of chlorine and mildew as we scanned the lifevests, barrels, and jetskis that people had ridden to their deaths or glory down the Falls.  Yes, the gifts were much more modestly priced than the other shop, however, most were apparently cobbled together by a dyslexic madman.  The "Nigra Falls" mugs were tempting, as were the roughly 6,000 different photos of daredevil Nik Wallenda that were for sale.  The already threadbare shirts were less tempting, and I decided to leave as I noticed the mostly Russian language tourist DVD's that lined the walls. 

Please find some happy middle ground for your shops where I am not spending $20 for a pint glass or $40 for a tshirt, and also not shopping in a museum of death and lunacy.  You could take a business lesson from Tiffany's Cabaret and Steakhouse in nearby Buffalo.  Their gift shop was amply stocked with reasonable items, the beef tip was tender and a perfect balance between salty and savory, and Amber Lynne was a very talented dancer, and I hope that dental school goes well for her. 




Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dear Girl that works at Panera

I ordered a baker's dozen of bagels: 2 chocolate chip, 5 asiago, 5 cinnamon crunch, and 1 French Toast.  I also then guiltily whispered that I wanted a carrot cake cup cake, then I hung my head with shame and stared at the floor.

What I did not order was a monologue about how if it weren't for how much Panera pays, you would so totally be working, like, somewhere different.  This place is like, really lame, and like, they didn't even give you off last Friday when you were totally going to the beach.


I also did not order the series of questions you asked me, which I answered in monosyllabic pleasantries and non committal sighs.   I will now answer in more detail, since there is no way that you can harm my cup cake as retribution.

1)  Yes, where I work is hiring. 
2) I have no idea if you would like working at my place of business.  I have a very strong hunch that I would strongly dislike you working there, though.
3)  I don't know very much about different types of women's swimwear, and I refuse to comment on whether or not I think the one you described would be "totally hot" on you.  I have no idea how old you are.
4)  The weather is very nice outside today.  Yes, I wish you were out there too, because that means the other girl taking orders would be helping me.  She doesn't smile, but she also barely talks.
5) No, I do not need a receipt.  I do not see a circumstance where I need proof I bought these bagels, and there is not an instance where you would allow me to return them.

Just know that I don't blame you for this.  I blame myself for not simply walking out, and I blame the cupcake for being too delicious for me to leave without it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dear Faux Hawk Wearers

I sincerely hope you understand that you are sporting this decade's version of the Flock of Seagulls haircut.  Remember that jheri curls were in at one point too, and Achey Breaky hair burned too brightly and died out far too soon. Faux Hawks are like every Green Day album after Nimrod.  They want to be punk, but are terrified of going too extreme so they become some generic hodgepodge of awful banality. 

In college, I had an honest to God, razor to the sides of my head mohawk.  I had it for a week and it looked almost as terrible as that hot mess you have sculpted from your highlighted grease nest.  I feel like you just put up a giant sign on your head saying "Hit me with a shovel.  I may not even feel it."

Please understand that what you are doing could easily just be called a "Top Mullet".  Feel tough now, hotshot?  Know what is even tougher?  Not spending you money on "hair product" and taking precious time to style your hair into that eyesore.

I am not advocating poor personal grooming.  I am simply saying there is no reason to do anything more than run a comb through your hair.  Anything more and you are just masturbating your vanity.

Wanna throw it back at me?  I take some time in the morning to shave my head.  Sure, that is for vanity reasons.  I started going bald at 21 and grey at 27.   I got dealt a bad hand, and did something about it.

Here's a list of people that shave their heads- Yul Brenner, Dwight Eisenhower, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Ghandi, Patrick Stewart, Michael Chiklis, and Bryan Cranston.

Here's a list of people with Faux Hawks- Clay Aiken.

Checkmate, douchebag.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dear Ice Cream Man

I am fairly certain you are the last of your kind, and I intend to hunt you as such.  You may have thought you were clever, moving just fast enough so that the children with their tiny, inferior legs couldn't catch you.  You made sure the loudspeakers broadcast the dulcet tones of "Turkey in the Straw" loud enough to freeze the languid movement of all the fat people sitting on their porches, fanning the summer heat away with a ham hock.  Perhaps you gain your strength from that look of utter failure on people's faces when they realize that there is not enough time to go inside and get money, then flag you down, thereby calling into question the choices that led to them being overheated and ice cream deprived.

I can only imagine you've been holed up in some dank warehouse, subsisting off of rocketpops and Ninja Turtle headcicles with gumball eyes since 1993.  I can only speculate what led you to venture back into the land of us sun dwellers.  You would think that seeing your truck with it's bright pictures of Froggy Pops and Chocodiles, I would be filled with the lightness and laughter of children. 

Nope.

I was filled with the murderous bloodlust and animal single mindedness of children.  I was minding my own business, driving to work in this sultry wasteland of humidity and pain, and you pulled off a side road and drove slowly in front of me.  The only logical choice I had was to steal your clothes and truck and to become the Ice Cream Man, as Kevin Costner foretold.  It seemed so easy in that moment, to abandon the life I had slowly built and no longer wanted, and to live a carefree life of a frozen treat dispenser and change collector.

I lost sight of you as you pulled into the rich development, ready to sell your top shelf Choco Tacos and Haagen Daas to the spoiled urchins.  Should we meet again, be prepared to fight to the death, for there can only be one.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dear Artists of the World

Why won't any of you illustrate my graphic novel?  It is going to be great, and you are the only ones who are standing in the way of my greatness.  I can do plenty of things, but drawing has never been one of them.  Most people I try to draw have a Forrest Whitaker eye, and are somehow both slightly melted, yet bloated, again somewhat like Forrest Whitaker. 

No, I don't have any experience writing comic books.  Why do you people keep asking me that?  I write the words, you draw the pictures, and we get the money.  I am talking shots and strippers, renting a pony just for the hell of it kind of rich.  Actually, I will just posit this one phrase- Erotic Clown.  I found one in a New Jersey phone book one time, and curiosity has plagued me ever since.  We would have the money to make that happen. 

Sure, when you ask me what it is about, I set up a really great first scene, then kind of peter out after explaining what would amount to about three or four very nice looking splash pages.  I am excited about this, and so should you.  It'll be dark, but inspirational.  Yeah, I know that's how everything is described nowadays, but this is going to be different, even though I can't explain how. 

I will explain one more time- it takes place in a run down hospital in Smyrna, Delaware, and features a character that is obviously me, and a cheerleader with a brain tumor.  That's all I really have right now, but that is all we need.  I shouldn't have to explain why this will be the best thing ever.  I shouldn't have to try to talk you into this.  You haven't fallen into traffic or choked to death on soup yet, which means you are smart enough to know I am a genius and that you should want in on this.  Applications will be accepted starting.........now.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dear Stephen Sommers

Let's be frank.  You are simply not good at your job.  You made that bad Disney adaptation of Tom Sawyer that was 90 minutes of Elijah Wood being roughly 85% eyeball, interrupted with a scene of Ron Perlman eating chicken necks.  Deep Rising was abysmal if only for the fact that you were under the delusion that Treat Williams was a viable lead actor.  My attorney tells me we can't discuss GI Joe- Rise of Cobra since litigation is still pending to try you as a war criminal for slaughtering the childhood dreams of millions. The only glimmer of promise in your career was The Mummy, which you attacked with all the deranged glee of an arthritic Kodiak bear that has learned how to use a crossbow.  You actually made that into an enjoyable, if brainless, summer movie. 

Normally, I wouldn't even bother addressing you at all.  You and Uwe Boll could continue to swap notes on how to sear pain into the hearts of moviegoers, and I would continue arguing with the clerks at the local Acme.  Now neither of us gets to do what we want, because you had to go out an make a movie of my favorite book, Odd Thomas.  Sure, it might not be War and Peace, but it makes me very happy, which puts it in rare company nowadays.  It is a movie that needs a deft hand to paint its subtleties, and perfect casting to really get the characters right.  Also, there are no gunfights through 98% of the movie, not even people holding out their index fingers at each other and saying "Peeeew!  Peeeeeeew!"

Reading what Dean Koontz, the book's author, has said about the screening he saw, and seeing the cast you have assembled, I have a faint hope that you might not ruin this, and that is what terrifies me.  You've given me hope, most likely as a way of building me up before you tear me down with some montage of Kathy Griffin and  Ben Stiller dancing to 80's tunes.  This scene has no bearing on the movie, but which you no doubt feel captures what you think is the true essence of the movie.  Why do I think you would do this?  Because you had Wolverine fighting Frankenstein monsters, Treat Williams surviving a 100 foot drop on a wave runner, and Brendan Fraser's toupee barely surviving The Mummy Returns.  You are as subtle as a fart in a spacesuit, and usually just as pleasant.

I won't make any veiled or overt threats about what will happen if this movie is horrible.  I will simply hire Elijah Wood to give you bambi eyes until you die from shame.  He's done it before and he will kill again.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dear Sirius Satellite Radio

Frankly, your programming has been lacking ever since you decided to start swapping Larry Cirwin's Celtic Crush all around the schedule.  That's not why you are getting this letter.  It just explains why I wanted to stop your service in the first place. 

I received a letter in the mail explaining that my one year subscription was running out.  According to this letter, if I did not act, my subscription would soon end.  Not wanting to listen to your awful DJ's, I elected to not act.  On the day you predicted, I got in my car, and only received silence from your stations.  All of my presets were gone, and I lived a happy life.

Move forward one year.  I got a new letter from you, telling me that my yearly autorenewal would be charged soon.  This piece of mail explains that I was last charged a year previously, the same day that the Sirius radio in my car stopped getting your service.  I went back through my credit cards, and you had charged my account, through a debit card that I had replaced.  Understandably, I called your customer service.

The first person I talked to wanted to see the letter telling me that if I didn't act, I would lose my service.  When I told him it was gone after a full year, he basically told me I was out of luck.  I asked why the radio service would have been stopped if I was being automatically renewed.  The only thing I was told is that I should have called to have the radio signal renewed.  So, basically, I should have called to turn on the service I didn't think I was paying for, since I was lied to.

I called back.  The next person wanted to see the letter too.  When I pointed out that the service shouldn't have been turned off if I was paying, she agreed that it made no sense.  However, there was nothing she could do for me.  The third person also agreed that if I had been charged, there never should have been an interruption in service.  I was offered a credit for the final month of service that I never wanted, meaning I was still out over $150.

I hope you can understand how awful and shady your business model is.  I get a letter telling me that I will lose the service if I do nothing.  I do nothing, and you still charge me.  Had I heard the radio still playing in my car, I would have called to investigate and cancel the charges and subscription.  Luckily, you turned it off so I couldn't find that out, and then your one customer service rep has the balls to tell me that if I had an interruption in service, I should have called to fix it.  I never knew I paid, and never wanted the service. 

Three days after I got off the phone with the third customer service rep, very angry an upset, I got a call from your company.  You didn't want to lose my business, and wanted to give me a year's service for much less than what I was charged in your con artist, BS idiocy a year before. 

Congratulations.  Your company makes me physically ill, and I am glad to let everyone here know how you ripped me off.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dear Trump Taj Mahal Poker Room

(This is a special guest post from my friend C-Gar)

I have a fair amount of experience playing in card rooms and home games from New Jersey to Nevada. In the course of pursuing this hobby, I've met some of society's shadiest, irritating and untrustworthy characters, and like in any other group, there are also undesirables. But your players stand above all others as shining examples of what would happen if feral sewer ferrets became humanity's overlords.

From the shiftless derelicts who haven't bathed since the Clinton administration, to those who's devotion to the game of poker has caused them to forgo bathroom breaks and micturate upon themselves, you disgust me. For those who can master hygiene, attire tends to present another challenge. While everyone enjoys a snappily dressed pimp, at some point leopard print and fuchsia becomes a fashion faux pas. And we can all agree that if your chest hair is best styled by lawn equipment, a shirt open to the waist is not the best wardrobe choice.

I would not fault management if this clientele was present all over America's Playground, but they are attracted to the fake minarets of the Taj Mahal like hobos to a pie convention. After years of this, the standards of behavior in the room has started to suffer. Drunken arguments abound, and chairs are tossed like they are blasphemous idols incurring Moses's wrath. Periodically games have to be postponed on account of "noodle vomit" on the table.

To be fair, in recent years management has cleaned up the den of whores that formerly resided just outside of the poker room, but late at night, one can occasionally see a nude couple copulating next to a hot dog stand on the boardwalk. However, even this expression of love and beauty is soiled by your influence as more often than not the act terminates with a naked John running down the boardwalk in an ill-fated attempt to outrun herpes.

Please address these concerns, clean all of your poker chips to remove the Legionella, Gonorrhea and Syphilis that is swarming all over them, and please evict the colony of wild cats living in the men's room.

Regards,
Karl "C-Gar" Spackler

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dear Allen's Coffee Brandy

You have a mostly informative website.  You explain to everyone how you are the most popular liquor in Maine.  This explains how I so easily found a bottle in Unity, Maine.  You boast about how your brandy has the most authentic coffee taste.  It was rather striking, I will agree.  You even have a recipe portion, but one recipe seems to be missing.  What you forget to mention is that if you drink a gallon of beer and then polish off a bottle of your fine coffee brandy, you pass into a fugue state where your mere existence mocks the laws of physics and common decency.  Had that been on the sticker, the following may not have happened.

Along with several of my friends, I was vacationing.  Our days were spent on a floating raft city, dubbed the S.S. Chamberlain, in the middle of Unity Pond.  We had beer and cigarettes, and after Kurt was banished to the mainland for insurrection, we were living in a time of relative peace and prosperity.  At night, we adjourned to the screened in porch for further libations and cigars.  Having found the wondrous ambrosia known as Sweetwater Stout, a gallon glass jug of stout that would make Guinness jealous, I was in good spirits.  Over the afternoon, I emptied the jug, leaving myself contented, even jubilant.  Not only did the beer put me in fine spirits, but I had a fine musical instrument for the evening session on the porch. My only problem was that I had nothing to sip in between puffs on my cigar.  Suddenly, I was reminded that I had purchased your brandy.

You had been a concession I made on our trip to town.  My preference at the time was for a bottle of apricot or blackberry brandy, but your product was everywhere I looked.  The first sip was good.  The next was even better.  Somewhere between sips fifteen to twenty, I am told I went from gregarious to contemplative.  Somewhere between sips thirty seven and the end of the bottle, I started talking, and I didn't stop.

Things began innocently enough.  I began calling for "Billy" to chew my food, because my "teefs" were no good.  There was no one named Billy, William, Bill, Will, or Billiam in the group.  Finding no chewing relief through Billy, I began to narrate the scene around me.  This quickly devolved into stories involving anything within my line of sight.  I alleged that Kurt was a homeless Batman who had constructed a Batcave of cardboard, and a utility belt of turnips.  I alleged that the Pope was a squirrel, and we were being duped by his large hat and theater tricks involving mirrors and lasers.  I intimated that Travis had beaten men to death using only his manhood, and that he would do it again given the chance.  All told, I did this for over an hour, while slowly rocking in my chair, staring off into the distance.

I have had many different kinds of brandy and alcohol over the years.  I have had similar amounts, and even had more than this.  I have never done anything remotely similar to these things on any other occasion.  Please reevaluate whatever psychotropic nerve gas you have distilled to give your brandy its authentic coffee flavor.  At least warn people that they will become calmer versions of Gary Busey if they drink your product.  Any forewarning would be sufficient. 




Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dear 1990's Alternative Music

You know I love you, baby, but I think you've been deceitful. 

I remember all the good times we had.  Listening to the radio on my hour drive from Delaware to Maryland each day for middle school.  Buying cassingles of Weezer, Better than Ezra, Green Day, Loud Lucy, and many others at the Sam Goody at the Centre at Salisbury.  Even later, when it seemed like radio had lost it's mind with all the boy bands, mainstream hip hop, and Nu Metal, I could still listen to Lunch at the Archives on WHFS while I was working during the summers in High School.  They played Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, the Wallflowers and all my friends. 

Sadly, most of your songs were all on tape, and those live in the unairconditioned workout room, surrounded by spiders and workout equipment.  Needless to say, I haven't seen you in quite some time, and you haven't made it onto my computer.  Sure, I have some Toad the Wet Sprocket here, and some Meat Puppets there, but I don't hear you enough, and I think you are using that to trick me.

See, I remember there were bands I didn't like.  I hated Silverchair back in the day.  Tonic was not good, and I remember threatening to jump out of a car on the way to a high school golf match because my ride wouldn't stop playing Sister Hazel.  So why in the name of Mazzy Star do I suddenly feel all warm and nostalgic whenever I hear any song from that time period?

Did time make me stupid enough to forget that Sheryl Crow cannot sing?  Did I forget all of those middle school dances where I did the Rerun dance to Hootie and the Blowfish songs just to get girls to notice me?  For every Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, there was a new Creed album lurking in the shadows, ready to sell you Jesus and angsty Godrock.  I mean, Joan Osborne actually got heavy airplay.  Things were not all rosy.  But now, almost twenty years later, I hear this stuff and I won't shut it off.  Pandora decides to play Filter, and I give it a thumbs up.  Then I sit quietly at my desk and contemplate what I have done while slowly digging into my leg with a letter opener.  They took my stapler away because I was using it as punishment for accidentally singing along to The Verve. 

13 year old Greg would be very disappointed, but I generally enjoy listening to all of this now.  My music snobbery has left me when it comes to you, 90's alternative.  I keep coming back to you, even after you hit me, because I know it must have been my fault. 

One thing will always remain the same throughout it all, and in this I can take comfort.  Alanis Morrisette is still a wailing harpy, and I will never forget that for a moment.