Thursday, July 28, 2011

Impulse Control

Perhaps. But will anybody else?
My tendancy to shop on impulse is directly proportional to the cost of the item in question. I spend way too much time in the grocery store agonizing over Hunts vs. Heinz and Mrs. Paul's vs. Van de Kamp's. This has only gotten worse with recent advances in technology. If my cart is blocking the aisle it's probably because I'm tapping into my social network, debating the merits of Super-Soft Mega Rolls vs. Ultra-Strong Big Rolls.

But if it's a big-ticket item, forget it. I've been known to go out for phở and return an hour later with a new car. (The zoning for ethnic restaurants and auto dealerships seems to be remarkably similar.) I'm trying to get better about this, especially since entangling my future with someone else's.

Last weekend at the mall, I saw Apple updated the MacBook Air with faster processors. I was moistening the Apple Store glass like Ralphie Parker coveting a Red Rider BB gun. Just one Amex swipe away from walking out with a new Mac under my arm, I decided to hold off. What stopped me? I thought about what JB would say when he got home from his trip.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hen-pecked. Well, not much. I have every right to buy a computer with my own funds if I so choose. But JB is very... lets just say he has a pragmatic rationality about such things. And he gets a corporate discount at the Apple Store. Where I wouldn't mind forgoing the discount in exchange for immediate gratification, doing so would certainly cause JB to call my fiscal sanity into question. I wasn't afraid of his reaction to my unilateral purchase, I was afraid of his reaction to my not saving $72 by waiting a few days. And despite my overwhelming want, I knew he'd be right.

He comes by it honestly. Growing up under modest circumstances, he was forced at an early age to be the man of the house and help support his mother and sisters. Where my parents did a pretty good job of shielding me from any awareness of our family's lower middle class tax bracket, JB spent his tweens burdened with the responsibilty of ensuring the utilities weren't cut off. That experience instilled a consumer sensibility that makes me thank God I never pursued a career in retail.

Does the new comforter not hold up to sharp cat claws? Take it back. Does the new vacuum suck disappointingly when the inside inexplicably fills with dirt? Return it. Did these new, formerly white undershirts betray the quality of their craftsmanship by wantonly absorbing dye from those red undershorts? Not a problem, he saved the receipt. I usually try to find something else to do during these errands. And our dining excursions will have to be the subject of a future post.

My recent exercise in impulse control demonstrates I've finally learned to appreciate this quality in JB. Especially after seeing his sister in action. Once when picking us up from the airport she was horrified to discover her GPS decadently shunted us onto a tollway. As she blocked the booth for several minutes trying to make the toll collector to understand why she shouldn't have to pay the dollar, I sank into the back seat and thanked my lucky stars.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cover Song

It's funny to think how mundane "apps" have become.

At the risk of bragging, I owned an iPhone before Steve Jobs even thought of apps. His big idea was to have everyone to write HTML5 web applications for the iPhone. Even I can't believe he thought... Excuse me for one moment, please? I so seldom get visitors at this hour...

[Awkward, muffled thumping noises...]

Sorry. Pac had to be punished.

Anyway, for a long time all I had were buttons for Calculator, Stocks and Weather. But even still, I had the coolest phone on the planet. People begged to touch my iPhone. Not kidding, they literally begged. Oh how hey longed to hold that mystical combination of glass, aluminum, silicon bonded with that tiny magical butterfly kiss of AT&T in their hands, and... check my stocks.

Trust me, the disillusionment was mutual.

When Apple released the SDK for the iPhone, I was one of the first in line. Well, probably not first. Or second. Or second thousandth. But my friend (and former boss) beat me getting his first app into the... (Cue angelic harmony... What?? Seriously? Do I have to do everything myself?)   WhooOooOoo....  Apple "App" Store.

To this day, I can't believe Jeff got 70% of my hard-earned ninety-nine cents for an app called "Armpit Farts". Do you hear me Jeff? I was just being nice when I bought that!  After all, you had recently gotten laid off. You could use the extra... Oh wait, it's coming back to me... Our entire department got laid off.

After the armpit fart debacle, I had bigger fish to fry. Like trying to find a job. Fast forward three-point-something years to find me so jaded, so blasé, it's rare that I come across an app that makes me want to put one arm under my shirt and flap my other like a chicken. Until last weekend.

If you haven't already installed "Songify", I highly recommend it. This app records ordinary spoken words and attempts to make music from what it hears. It's smart enough to break up your words into chunks of phrases, mix and arrange them and somehow melodize them against your choice of background beat. It's brilliant and addictive.

I'd already annoyed the holy piss out of JB by following him around for two days converting his random, senseless blatherings into a format I found entertaining. That's how I came up with my first breakaway single: "Get That Thing The FUCK Outta My Face."  Watch for it on the Country charts.

Now that I think about it, I'm starting to suspect the urgency of JB's six-day "emergency" trip.

So sitting at home tonight, painfully alone, I again fired up my Songify app. Not being imaginative enough to come up with my own musical fodder, I was momentarily entertained by reading random Wikipedia entries into my phone. That's how I got my B-side single, "Mouthbrooder". It's a song about fish and, trust me, the title is the best part.

I needed something more interesting. Something catchy. Then inspiration struck... I opened today's Nice to See StevieB blog post and read aloud the first two paragraphs. Two minutes later I was dancing to my finest work yet.

It's my privilege to introduce the North American debut of "White Duvet Cover". Please enjoy it in the spirit in which it was made. Loud and liquored up.

White Duvet Cover

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ugly Americano

Meet the Francis Francis X8. Sexy, no?
Even the name is the pinnacle of gay futurism.
About a year ago I was shopping around for an espresso machine. Don't get me wrong, I've always liked my coffee like I like my men: strong, bitter, and simple to order in english. That was until a Starbucks opened in my office building.

I'd been introduced to Americano-style coffee on my first trip to Europe. When the Dutch waiter brought my order of coffee in a doll-sized tea party cup, I balked. I was used to fisting the handle of my coffee mugs, pinkie and all. What in the hell was I supposed to do this this? Snort it?

I naively asked the waiter if they had any "normal" coffee. He rolled his eyes and returned with the same shot of espresso in a cup of scalding hot water. I rolled my eyes then tasted the best cup of coffee I ever had in my life. Yes I was high. Real high. But that cup of coffee still sticks with me.

Now after having had access to a ubiquitous supply of Starbucks Americano, I can't go back to that break-room swill that drips forlornly from a calcified machine which looks like it's never been cleaned. I just can't. That, and I'm turned off by the implied office hazing to be inflicted on the poor bastard who drinks the last cup without brewing another pot. (I find those passive-aggressive signs posted in every break room very patronizing. They make me feel like PowerPointing my own rebuttal: "Thank you for reminding me that my mother doesn't work here. Oh how I miss her. Why, God? WHY??")

So last year when I saw this sleek coffee machine subsidized by Illy's monthly coffee delivery service, I decided to give it a try. Sure, it's not exactly cheap. But at 75 cents a cup, it's fiscally closer to Folgers than Starbucks. And I enjoy the peace of mind of never having to worry about waking up to find I've run out of coffee. It just shows up on my doorstep. A year later and I'm still very happy with it.

And as far as the taste of home-brewed coffee goes, it comes closest to reliving that first cup of Americano in Amsterdam. I was so fucking high.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Just A Buddy

Joey called today to tell me he met somebody. It really didn't come as a shock. He's a great guy and handsome as they come.

I'd seen a few of those photos from Joey's modeling days. From the shrine within a shrine. Photos his mother had tacked to the dressing mirror in her room. The room which to this day remains undisturbed and off-limits.

He doesn't believe me when I tell him that the man he is now is so much more attractive, so much more masculine than that smooth, skinny twink from the billboards. He may have been cute back then; now he's hot. He says he's old and out of shape. I've been trying to convince him otherwise long enough to know he's not just being coy. In his mind, those were his glory days. Long gone. It doesn't matter to him that I've never been more sincere about anything in my life.

I knew he had something to tell me within the first couple seconds of saying hello. He doesn't usually make small talk by asking how I've been or how I'm doing. He was dancing around something. I was at work and tried to nudge him to his point, ready for anything.

"So Joey, what's up? Everything okay?"

It was cute how he said, "I have some good news and bad news..." There was really only one actual news factoid, just two perspectives on it.

What's my perspective? I want Joey to be happy. He deserves it. And I gave up my right to have any opinion in the matter over three years ago.

So Joey's seeing someone. Explains why I hadn't heard from him since he showed up on my doorstep less than three weeks ago. Typical of Joey, he remembered it as being "a couple months ago."



"It was a couple weeks ago. It'll be three weeks tomorrow."

"Really?? Wow. Feels like months."

He sounds happy. Anyone else need a drink?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Peachtree Road Race 2011

Since JB's birthday is on the third, the entire 4th of July holiday is usually all about the Jumping Bean. We both got Peachtree Road Race numbers this year and even though JB can't really run since his hip replacement, walking the 10K from Buckhead to Midtown would be a cakewalk for him. But the scheduling gods saw fit this year to send JB to Barcelona on his birthday, leaving me home alone with an extra coveted race number.

I wasn't very motivated this year without JB and because I hadn't been training with any discipline, and when the alarm went off at 5:30 this morning I was still on the fence. I sent a text message to Julie who thankfully responded within seconds and convinced her to use JB's number and join me. Maybe we convinced each other.

I'm so glad we did it! What a great time. We took the train to Lenox Mall in Buckhead then found our starting wave near the end of the pack. Wave W, which didn't hit the starting line until almost 9am. By this time it was already getting hot and we decided neither one of us were aiming for any personal bests. So our strategy was to run a mile, then walk a mile while we rehydrated.

The thing about the Peachtree if you're serious about running, you want to be seeded in the first waves. Otherwise you'll spend most of the race dodging the thousands of walkers and slower runners. It was much less frustrating today just going with the crowd while talking and laughing -- and sometimes dancing -- the entire way.

Happy Independence Day!