Sunday, May 31, 2009

Flooded Treasures

Lately I've been reading Oscar Wilde's fairy tales. Interestingly enough I'm coming across some that I had read in class during grade school. Obviously now the societal quips and commentary no longer go over my head, instead they knock me right between the teeth as if Wilde was yelling to me from the grave, "See? Humans haven't changed at all, it's the same bureaucratic nonsense and it always will be...P.S. If I were alive today you know I'd be a stand-up comic."

On Saturday I was walking down the road and there was somewhat of an informal yard sale going on in Fremont. I went to check it out and there were books. Tons of books. Turns out what happened was this guy, he was an older guy, lived in Seattle his whole life, has his own float for the Solstice Parade, believes Seattle Times is a huge conspiracy, cool guy. Anyway, turns out a bunch of these books were flooded, so this guy dove into the dumpster and fished them all out. He was giving them away to any interested parties. Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Hunter Thompson (more), all found, all salvageable. I also added some Chomsky and Nietzsche.

He asked for two dollars since some of the books weren't flooded, I insisted on giving him three. Once when I was in between semesters at college there was a leak in my parents' basement and some of my books got it. A blow dryer, a little bit of sunlight, and a stubborn attitude that wouldn't settle for re-buying a soul-less republication from Barnes and Noble was all I needed to get them back to being totally readable. Hopefully I'll have similar success with these books.

Now, when I was in college I worked at Carnegie Mellon University in the receiving warehouse. Every so often I would go to campus to make deliveries to the book store. Sometimes there was a guy, similar to the Seattle guy, that would sell books on campus. I'd always see a flier near the book store so I knew when he'd be there. I'd try to go shop for a bit and since no one really wants to go back to a non-air conditioned warehouse in the middle of summer, it usually wasn't hard for me to convince my co-workers to stall for a bit while I checked out the book selection.

One time, I found the entire collection of "Notes of A Dirty Old Man" by Charles Bukowski. Not the collection that was published later, but all of the original writings that appeared in the paper he used to write for along with some of the other stuff he had been doing during that time that had slipped under the radar. I remember picking it up at the book sale and showing it to the guy. "Spine's ripped, I can't sell that...You want it, it's yours." Since then I've read that collection so many times that the ripped spine did give in completely, the book's held together by athletic tape now, and I still read it from time to time.

Experiences like the above mentioned make me wonder why I spend time worrying about money.

Friday, May 15, 2009

At the Airport(s)

I’ve come to terms that I’m one of those people that gets freaked out if I don’t travel regularly. The destination doesn’t matter so much, but I like to have a regular schedule of logistic obstacles. It’s the best time to think, especially when I’m flying.

I like to get to airports extremely early, like super early. I like to be through security with 2 hours to spare, you can do some of your best people watching at an airport. Airports are one of the many venues in which we as humans can realize how far yet how little we’ve actually evolved from animals.

My day started at the Seattle Sheraton where I was to catch the shuttle to the airport. I had a few obligations that I had to attend to in the city early. I planned on catching the 8:43 shuttle but when I got there the 8:13 was still waiting. I got on board, now, the driver’s supposed to be able to take my money, but she sent me inside. I asked her if I had enough time, she responded, “only if you run.” I guess in retrospect she was kind of rude but I wasn’t paying much attention. I waited at the concierge, there was a shuttle booth, but I didn’t notice it. I listened to banter back in forth with a couple trying to get to Vancouver. She informed them that the train left once a day, there was a shuttle that provided a quick service. This is all information one can obtain spending about 2 minutes tops on Google, maybe these people didn’t have laptops with them but let’s be real, they have money and they’re clueless. So I started getting a little anxious, not because I was in a hurry but because the shuttle was waiting, and I didn’t want to be that guy. Finally it took off. The lady gets to me. “How can I help you?” “I wanted tickets for that shuttle that just left.” “O, well their booth is right over there.” “Oops, I didn’t see it.” “No worries I can sell you a ticket here, will you be catching the next one?” “That’s the plan.” “You could’ve just bought it from the driver.” “She wouldn’t take my money.” “He didn’t except your money?” “She wouldn’t take my money.” “That’s strange.”

I went over to the booth I was supposed to go to in the first place. “Hey, just curious, can’t your drivers take money?” “Yeah.” “They wouldn’t take mine, they sent me straight in here, didn’t even offer, I had cash.” The girl sighed, “was it a woman driver?” “Umm yeah, do you guys have some weird policy with women taking money or something?” “Heh, no, she just does that, I don’t know why, I’m really sorry.” “Yeah, I just found it strange, oh well, life goes on.” The girl was cool. I probably could’ve talked her into giving me a comp trip but I wasn’t that bothered by the whole thing.

So I had a half-hour to kill in the Sheraton so I do what I think anybody should do and go around looking for a continental breakfast. I planned to walk in acting like I owned the place and score a free meal. Of course, a hotel as upscale as the Sheraton isn’t going to have such a thing, but I had nothing better to do.

Later at the airport I was waiting in line to check in. I went over to check to see if my bag was small enough to qualify as a carry-on and while doing so the guy behind me cut right in front of me. Proves that animal theory. I got behind him. “Wow, that was classy.” Again, I didn’t care, it’s just interesting how some people have no concept that life’s too short to be a dick for no apparent reason. We’re at the front of the line and they call the next person in line over, dude doesn’t move. They call again, he finally notices. “Let’s wake up buddy.” He didn’t respond to me, if you’re in that big of a hurry that you’re going to do something as petty as cut in front of one person, at least be on the ball with checking in.

As Karma would have it my line was quicker than his and I beat him through security. Yes, I did notice.

I’m at security and I put my stuff through and go through the metal detector. The TSA guy comes up to me. “Hello sir, I need you to either walk through the X-ray, or if you’d prefer I’ll give you a pat-down.”
My verbatim response: “I think I’d like you to pat me down.” I wasn’t trying to be funny or anything it just came out that way, I had nothing in my system but a Monster drink. After I said it though I couldn’t help but start laughing, especially since I could tell dude did not want to pat me down.

I’m now on a plane flying over Chicago, it’s dark out, and I’m listening to Rocket Man by Elton John. Now that’s perfection. “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids, in fact it’s cold as hell.”
I touch-down in the Burgh around 10ET. You know, come to think of it, I’m not the man they think I am at home…

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not after a lousy set, please?

Last night I didn't have the set I wanted to. It was an open-mic. For those non-comics out there open-mic is an opportunity to try out new material, work out a premise on stage, test out new tags to older material to try to expand on bits, etc. Of course, some people beat the same five minutes to death for years but, moving on. I didn't have the set I wanted. I didn't care necessarily that I didn't do well, but I was bummed that some of the newer material that I've been trying to work out and gravitate towards isn't quite clicking.

Rest of the night went on, quick question: Does a public domain(read: internet) joke about sleeping with your cousins in (insert city of ridicule) deserve an applause break? Should it even be uttered on stage? I didn't think so either.

Anyway, after all was over the great Tim Warner and I went for a beer down the street. This place is a biker-esque bar but it's just a stone's throw away from the apartment so we went. The bartender was playing this horrible pop-punk "emo" music, dribble I used to think was cool when I was 16 or so but then saw through once I realized high school didn't matter. Anyway Tim and I were talking shop, I was blowing off steam to a slight degree, and just then the most terrible cover of "Just Like Heaven" by the Cure came on. I mean TERRIBLE. It was absolutely nauseating. There were only like, 5 people in the bar, none of whom looked like they would be into this music with exception to the hipster skinny-jean clad bartender. For some reason, that did me in, I was fed up with it all, fed up with work, fed up with all of it.

So I looked up and said for all to hear, "This is the worst cover I ever heard, this is atrocious, whoever recorded this deserves to be shot in the skull."

It really was that bad. The song continued. "Dreamed of all the different ways I had to make her glow..." I looked down at the table, there was some cash sitting there which of course was my intended tip. I reached down and took a dollar and put it back in my pocket.

I know, I know, kind of harsh, but I was ticked. And honestly, if you're going to push your horrible taste down peoples' throats you should realize that you may catch one of them on the wrong day and they'll take it out of your tip. I'm a Cure fan, that was some bad old timing. I'm not sure if the bartender noticed or not but Tim was cracking up so I imagine he noticed.

Now it's time for some irony: I got home and pulled up my laptop, my girlfriend had put a drawing of Robert Smith up as my background. At that point I couldn't help laughing about the whole thing. Next time I'm in there I'll tip the bartender a little extra to make up for it, maybe he'll use the money to buy some better music and we both win.