Monday, February 1, 2010

Monkeys, a.k.a. College Students Making Minimum Wage

The morning alarm wrenched me from sleep, same as any other day. My cell phone alarm (yes, I’ve finally converted to the phone alarm, but I don’t have to like it) played some tune that was a mix between Ode to Joy and My Sharona—awful mutt of a ringer, really—and I quickly began building an angry head of steam toward the world in general.

I went through my normal routine: Frosted Flakes, water bottle refill, daytime moisturizer, err…manly self-slap to the face I mean, and decided to take my iPod Nano along so that I could go running right after work.

I checked the normal places. The bedroom, the nightstand, the refrigerator (never underestimate how much studying managerial accounting can drain your brain, I’ve already tried to bake cookies by placing them in the dishwasher this year), even my dirty clothes hamper.

Nada. Nothing. Less discovered than what O.J. found during his independent investigation of his ex-wife’s murder. My place was now a mess and looks as if it’d been ransacked by vengeful loopma.

Clothes and cushions lay strewn across the floor, chairs had been haphazardly overturned (please, like you still don’t through fifteen year-old tantrums when no one’s looking), and I was in general sound-the-alarm mode.

Just as I was prepared to blame terrorism, like we do for oil, the drug trade, and skin cancer, I was struck by a Eureka moment.

The University recreation center!

I plugged in my computer—I say plugged in because I have a Scrooge like obsession with the electric bill and unplug everything but the fridge before I go to bed at night—waited for Windows to take its ever-increasing time booting up, Googled the number, and gave them a call.

After some woman answered and sounded as if she’d either partied too hard or been hit in the head with a brick, I was transferred to my girl, the wondrous Gina, who rescued my precious little blue shuffle and agreed to have it waiting for me anytime I wanted to pick it up.

Imagine if the Lindberghs had gotten back their baby, or the Cookie Monster his cookies, or Taylor Swift the real voice box she had before it was replaced with the strangled cat voice box she has now.

That’s how ecstatic I was.

My iPod, in whom I am well-pleased, was to be returned to me.

Run the clock ahead 8 hours (yes, you can do it 24 style if you like. Go on, I’ll wait…)


So I Tigger bounce my way to the front desk. “I’m Brad!” I uttered like a little child on Christmas. “I’m here for the awesome blue shuffle, please!”

A freshman looked up at me with those glazed over, apathetic freshman eyes and mumbled something to the effect of, “Huh? Wait. What?”

I repeated my query. His dull cow eyes squinted, highlighting the cheese burger acne below his cheeks.

“I’m not sure…” His droning voice trailed off into the ether, the sentence as incomplete as his shampooing techniques.

Keep in mind I hadn’t asked him question. He didn’t need to be sure or unsure of anything. He needed to get off his skinny little #$@ and fetch my iPod. Since I knew I was dealing with minimum wage, part time gig syndrome, I quickly grew firm.

“I called earlier. You all described my iPod. You have it. I want it.”

The freshman monkey gestured and gargled, and summoned several more monkeys to his aid. Then I watched in amazement as they trundled around the desk area, fumbled through some written logs, bounced off one another, and generally resembled lazy monkeys fumbling about the jungle in search of a banana.

“Don’t see it,” he said, putting a falsely concerned finger to his chin, “maybe downstairs.”

“Indeed,” I answered, and shuffled off to the basement floor.

What did I find? More monkeys. Stupid, stupid monkeys.

“We don’t see nothing,” said the gum chewing bubble gum-smacking hostess at the desk. “Did you try upstairs?”

“Yes,” I growled, “they seemed confused.”

Then, and I swear this is the truth before God him or herself, the boy next to her held up his monkey hands, widened his gaze, and gave me the we don’t have a clue shrug.

I fumed upstairs like a steam engine fueled by more anger than Dick Cheney when he sees puppies or smiling babies.

I leaned over the desk, stared into the heart of what appeared to be the ponytailed leader of these damned monkeys.

“The lady on the phone described it to me. You must have it.”

Then I saw it. Just behind her. A safe. The banana I needed.

And literally two seconds before I was to attempt to point the monkeys in its direction, the leader monkey smartened up, and said, “Oh, it’s in the safe. We’ll get it for you.”

The lesson: if you have to get something from college age, minimum wage part-timers, bring your own fruit.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

They Try To Make Me Go To Rehab...

Tiger Woods has apparently checked himself into a sexual rehabilitation clinic.

And so the Public Relations makeover for Eldrick has begun.

As someone who wants to enter the fields of PR, advertising, and marketing, I have to say I’m impressed. Checking into rehab is the penicillin for celebrity reputations that have come down with infections of indiscretion.

Robert Downey Jr. gets arrested for being strung out on more drugs than Jim Morrison at rubber ducky time. (Come on, it’s been a loooong time since he died in that bath tub. It is NOT too soon).


Now he gets to be Iron Man and have his own action figure.

Mel Gibson got all DUI’d up and had some interesting commentary about the Jewish community.


Now he can get back to playing dudes who want some good old bloody revenge.

In the late 90’sCharlie Sheen drank more than the entire Osborne family.


Now he’s the loveable gigolo on a CBS laugh track sitcom. Even a recent string of domestic abuse arrests can’t beat his Rehab Out of Jail Free Card.

But Tiger’s death-defying, Houdini-like PR stunt takes the idea of public persona rehab to a brave new level. I mean just imagine how many male celebs are kicking themselves right now. You can practically hear Bill Clinton, Kobe Bryant, and Leanne Rimes all shouting in unison, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

In fact, I believe Tiger’s move will inspire a host of new celebrity cop-outs:

Mayor Ray Nagin will go to meteorology rehab and everyone will be cool with his failure to evacuate New Orleans before Katrina

O.J. Simpson will go to a murderer’s and kidnapper’s rehab clinic just outside of Phoenix and will quickly be given a sideline reporter’s gig on ESPN.

Ben Affleck will go to inhumanly bad acting rehab (what’s with those mannequinesque stupid grins?) and once again be given $20 million per movie.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichek will attend stupid butthole jerkface rehab and be awarded a guest spot on Sesame Street (where he will then be immediately kicked off set for punching Cookie Monster in the face. What else would you expect from Satan’s brother?)

Ah well, at least Keith Richards is still holding strong…

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Loompa Wranglin' at the Movies: Paranormal Activity

Have you ever been so terrified you wanted to cry? Me neither…until I rented Paranormal Activity.

Hororfests, such as the Jason movies or Chainsaw Massacre, can be difficult to watch. Obviously, watching someone be decapitated or sliced and diced faster than a health care bill disturbs the average human.

And Exorcist scared millions as it showed us a little girl spewing pea soup all over a priest—though I wonder how scary it would have been had the soup been potato.

Really, though, who enjoys pea soup? As someone experienced with kids the same age as that character, let me offer this to parents: if your child ever requests pea soup, even once, you can be assured they are undoubtedly possessed by Satan.

But Paranormal Activity has none of the gore or gross our factor. The film commits to subtlety and Hitchcock’s principle that what you don’t see is vastly more disturbing than what you do and scares the hell out for you by letting your imagination do much of the work. For anyone who has ever laid in bed and heard a crack somewhere in the house, for all of us who think we may have spotted an odd shape or shadow darting past our peripheral vision, for every person who has felt a cool chill slide down the nape of their neck and wondered where did that noise, sight, or sensation come from—Paranormal Activity answers you. And the answer is terrifying. I won’t spoil it, other than to say it is from Hell, likes hurting things, and isn’t the Emperor from Star Wars or Sarah Palin.

Don’t believe me? Here is a list of the things Paranormal Activity is literally scarier than:

Kevin Costner’s accents.
Pirates of the Carribean’s plot
Christina Aguilera’s blood test.
Elin Wood’s backswing.
Mall Santa’s.
The current balance of your retirement account.
Dollar General toilet tissue.

All kidding aside, I don’t scare easily. Due to a crack-like addiction to haunted houses during my high school years as well as a warped sense of humor that considers the Saw and Final Destination films to be shining examples of slapstick humor, very little in the world of thrillers of horror stays with me more than an instant.

But Paranormal Activity, and I can’t believe I’m admitting this, actually motivated me to ask my girlfriend if she’d like to stop watching the movie. I shamefully feigned concern for her no less than five times. In truth, I wasn’t sure I could handle seeing the movie through to its an end.

And yes, I now feel like less of a man. A man that may never be able to sleep in a house alone for the rest of his life.

Rent this movie at your own risk. It gets five out of five Loompas, and officially declare it the most frightening movie I have ever seen in my life.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Accounting for Lindsey

MBA Prep Week

When all else fails, smile and accept your fate.

This is the mantra I repeated to myself as my knowledgeable, kind accounting prep professor spoke to the class about ratio of fixed assets to long term liabilities.

Since nothing makes me chuckle more than math mashed-up with a heaping spoon of popular culture insanity, I considered the Hollywood application of this accounting formulas.

The ratio of fixed assets to long term liabilities basically tells a lender, such as a bank, whether or not a company has enough valuable stuff to warrant a long-term loan. Will it be able to make its payments?

You calculate the ratio using this formula:

Fixed Assets ÷ Long-Term Liabilities =

Ratio of Fixed Assets to Long-Term Liabilities
(or as the kids call it, the “how good a long-term borrower are you ratio?”)

For our purposes, let’s say Lindsey Lohan is not a human (insert joke here), but a corporate entity.

Lindsey’s Fixed Assets:

Property—A vomit soaked condo somewhere on the Hollywood strip, complete with cocaine showered carpet and crystal meth lab in the bathroom.

Vehicles—Whatever car she’s jacked in recent days

Equipment—I had a zinger about breast implants here, but let’s go with unopened Amazon Kindle instead.

Lindsey’s Long-term liabilities:

Notes Payable (i.e. a mortgage payment)—Has a small mortgage payment. She had a huge amount of cash to put down on her building because of all the money’s she’s saved by not eating.

Bonds Payable—In order to fund its insatiable appetite for 151 Rum and cigarettes, Lindsey Corp. sold over 3,000 bonds at $10,000 pop. This means she owes 3,000 Mean Girls fans (they were the only ones who’d buy it, (sorry L-Bone)) $10,000 each. In addition, she has to pay those bondholders interest on that $10,000 every six months. A major ouchie in Lindsey Corp’s wallet.

Contingent Liability—This is the worst of all. Contingent liability is the probability and estimation of if and how much a company might have to payout in repair work for their products (if they’re guaranteed or under warrantee), or how much the company might have to cough up if they get sued.

Unfortunately for Lindsey Corp, the company has a bit of a dangerous reputation. She blows off movie shoots, shows up for work impaired, and carjacks Los Angelino motorists so that she can chase down her personal assistant.

All very bad things for Lindsey Corp.

So, you add up Lindsey Corp.’s fixed assets…divide that by the sum of her long-term liabilities…(carry the one, round to the nearest hundredth…)

Lindsey Corp.’s ratio is
(and now we'll have a competition to finish the blog! The most creative entry wins my eternal admiration!)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Way You Make Me Feel

Michael Jackson is dead. No more dancing on cars outside of courtrooms. No more competitive baby danglin’ in Berlin. No more nose reconstructions so that he can “breathe better.” No more putting on some Barry White, turning down the lights, and curling up with a few attention starved adolescents.

Yes, Neverland Ranch is permanently closed. Peter Pan will not frequent Lisa Marie’s or Brook Shields’ or Debbie Rowe’s room another time. Unless he can channel is inner Thriller zombie, MJ is now moon walking on that great dance floor in the sky, or beneath our feet. Or I supposed he might now be that gnat that keeps buzzing about your eyelashes.

Whatever your take on the afterlife, there should be no pretense or revisionist history when it comes to Michael Jackson’ actual life. He was an alleged abuse victim, a talented performer who made two great albums and many singles, a drug addict, an alleged child abuser who paid off his accuser, and a compulsive liar (go back and watch him tell Martin Bashir that he only ever had TWO plastic surgeries done in his whole life, or that the surrogate mother of his third child was black. Unless the King of Pigmentation had his sperm whitened as well, there is no way the third child could have two African American parents and be that fair-skinned.)

Why am I being so harsh? Why speak ill of the dead? I’ll tell you. Every time a celebrity dies, we immediately proceed with the whitewashing (pun intended) of their lives and careers. We act as some collective minister and absolve them of all their sins and transgressions. Even O.J.’s jury thinks we go too easy on celebrities. A few examples:

JFK, Jr. was a child of privilege who loved the spotlight and whose reach far exceeded his grasp. His political magazine, George, had a spirited run of a whole six years. Finally, after being warned not to fly out into a storm, he died as a modern day Icarus. Only this time Icarus sank his wife and dogs into the depths of the Atlantic.

And yet, because he is that cute little kid who played at JFK’s feet in the oval office, we offer his memory the same reverence that was given to princes in 1500’s England.

Marylin Monroe. She was an exceptional pin-up girl at best, and an overrated, average actress at worst. She loved painkillers, and openly flirting with her lover-President of the United States. Many find her breathy version of Happy Birthday Mr. President to be a sultry moment in American politics. As her rendition was about as subtle as a stampede of rabid elephants, I wonder how Jackie Kennedy felt as she watched Monroe song-rape her husband.

But now she is remembered as a starlet, one of the all-time Hollywood beauties and actresses.

Let’s not forget America’s biggest celebrity president. No, not libido Bill. And Obama still has a way to go. I’m talking about the only President who actually was an actor—Ronald Reagan. Here are a few highlights from his administration. A trickle down economic policy that widened the gap between the rich and the poor. The only thing trickling down was drunken Wall Street investors’ urine atop the heads of the NYC homeless. He “defeated” the Soviet Union by outspending them on nuclear arms, using money we didn’t have and running up a deficit that would even make General Motors proud. Looks like big bad Evil Empires can go broke. I would’ve thought Evil Empires, if they were so big and bad, would have plenty of money. I never heard Darth Vader complaining about a lack of funding for the second Death Star.

But here’s the bad news. Guess what country now has thousands of nuclear weapons stashed all over the place—and has little security to protect it? Russia. Or as I like to call it, Home Depot for terrorists.

Not to mention, Reagan ignored the threat of HIV and Aids, dismissing it as a holy plague cast down on homosexuals. Forget how medically irresponsible it is for the President to ignore such a potentially catastrophic virus; every Christian knows that the only disease God has used in the last fifty years is the swine flu. To kill Miley Cyrus fans.

So what’s the debate now that he’s dead? Whether or not we should boot FDR off the dime and replace him with grandpa Ron.

Before you leave any nasty comments, understand that I’m not refusing MJ his proper credit. Every hip-hop act in existence, from Black Eyed Peas to Justin Timberlake, owes Jackson their careers. He made hip-hop digestible to the masses. He was the only cool thing about disco. He made dancing a requirement for anyone who wanted to be a successful hip-hop or pop act. Do you really think all those unathletic white boys from the Backstreet Boys wanted to dance it out? No. They knew how lame they looked. But after Beat It and Thriller, it was required for credibility.

And he has plenty of decent excuses for his bizarre behavior.

Clearly, daddy wasn’t a nice guy. And after he became rich and famous, no one in Jackson’s life ever called him out on his insistence on being treated like an eight-year old.

Or his belief that he should be held to the same behavioral expectations as an eight-year old.

Or his staunch proclamations that those lily-white kids actually belonged to him.

Hell, he had so many enablers he was able to get hospital grade sedatives sent and administered to him at home—just so he could sleep. Who needs sheep when you have ditropan?

So let’s give MJ his due. Maybe even shed a tear over his early life and career. But let’s stop short of Sainthood.

Then again, Saint Peter couldn’t moonwalk.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Loompa Wrangling at the Movies: A Depressing Dose of Deep Despair (a.k.a The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

In one of my earliest posts here in Loompaville, I stated that Brokeback Mountain was the single most depressing film I'd ever seen.

And it has valiantly held that title for several years.

I Am Legend's cheap murder of the dog. It held up.

As I watched Mr. Plainview mentally destroy his adopted son in
There Will Be Blood, the mountain-filled tale of ill-fated love reigned supreme.

Even as I finally rented
Mystic River, and watched two families be ripped apart by a tragic misunderstanding, Brokeback refused to lose.

Until this afternoon. January 27, 2009. A date that will live in melancholy.

The date I watched
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button do for tear-jerkers what The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did for horror.

The Oscar nominated film, directed by edgy filmmaker David Fincher, plods along at a sluggish pace and seems only interested in waking you when something terrible happens. And I don't mean "ooh look at that train wreck" terrible. I'm speaking of "here, watch the person or animal you love most in this world die a slow death" terrible.

Fast facts about Button:
5--The number of times (at different points in the movie) Brad Pitt and his love interest Cate Blanchett say goodbye.

3--The number of parents we get to see die.

2--The number of children abandoned by their fathers.

1--The number of times I've had the opportunity to watch a woman hold the infant version of the man she loved most in the universe--as he died.

Button opens with Daisy's (Cate Blanchett) daughter huddled by her deathbed telling her how much she's going to miss her. We then quickly flashback to the death of Benjamin's birth mother.

The next 15 minutes showing us Benjamin as an old man behaving like a toddler provides the only levity in the film. After that, when someone isn't dying or leaving, the film grinds to a halt.

We're shown countless vistas of the world. They're beautiful, but more at home on the Travel Channel than in this film. They feel forced down my throat, as if Benjamin wants to shake me by the shoulders until I realize how beautiful life and everything in it truly is. I only wish he could have visited Nazi Germany or present day Mumbai, India.

Even when not begging for a best cinematography Oscar, the movie slinks along with the urgency of an obese sleepwalker. Many times I found myself wishing I could fast forward through scenes and get on with the action. Brad Pitt is a handsome man, but if I had to watch anymore lengthy close ups of him being pensive, or lost in wonderment at the cyclical nature of life, I was going to drown myself in my gallon-sized Hi-C.

The acting is serviceable, but not what the Academy has made it out to be. Cate Blanchett looks very sultry in youth and very sad in old age. Yawn. There simply wasn't much meat on Daisy's character for her to sink her acting chops into. I wasn't shocked she didn't receive a nomination.

Brad Pitt is sedate, melancholy, and honestly, quite distant. He succeeds in delivering the few comedic lines in the film, highlighting where this movie wasted much of its potential. Brad Pitt's acting genius, much like that of his manfriend George Clooney, shines through in comedies. Why he does so few of them I don't know. I've read he's envious of Leonardo DiCaprio's film choices. But he shouldn't be. Making people laugh is much, much, much, much more difficult than making them cry. Kill a dog. Give a mom or child a terminal disease. Whip up a teenage suicide. Have a love affair end in tragedy. Get Sean Penn to act retarded. The formula isn't complicated.

But making an audience laugh for an hour and a half (see
Tropic Thunder) or playing a half-witted physical trainer to goofy perfection (see Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading) requires immeasurable skill.

George and Brad should leave the uber-drama to DiCaprio and Day-Lewis, and use their own enormous gifts of comedic timing. I love Brad Pitt--but his nomination feels more like a thanks for all your great work nomination than something earned in

(And an "it's about time clap" to the Academy for nominating Robert Downey Jr. for best supporting actor in
Tropic Thunder. Maybe if the Academy acknowledged the greatness of comedic acting a little more often, Brad Pitt would do more comedies and I wouldn't be stitching up my wrists right now.)

Back to
Button. The finest performance belonged to Taraji P. Henson, who was nominated for a best supporting actress for her role as Queenie, Benjamin's mother. She is the only actor who pops off the screen and is still memorable after they've flooded New Orleans and you've snot-soaked your final tissue.

The script, adapted from the novel of the same name, was penned by Eric Roth. I wasn't surprised to read he also wrote
Forrest Gump. Button, which desperately wants to be Forrest Gump, is the exact inversion of Forrest Gump. Little charm. Few ancillary characters worth caring about. And far more loss than triumph.

Button is the Bizarro to Gump's Superman.

Ultimately, the film is so desperate to make the audience feel true sadness, that it accomplishes very little in between tragedies. And at a run time of three hours, feels longer than Reagan and Princess Di's funerals combined.

And I almost forgot.

Button ends as Katrina floods New Orleans.


For being an emotional snuff film, I give
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button two out of five Loompas, both of them teary-eyed and crestfallen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Season of Sickness

Just as anyone else who works in a school, I’m exposed to all manner of germs. But the bacteria bonfire I face is considerably more potent. I’m tasked with seventh graders. That’s right. Every day, armed with only demerits and a scented expo marker (Chocó-mint. It’s friggin’ sweet), I do battle with hordes of pubescent adolescents.

I fight desperately to keep them locked away from the hours of 7:30a.m.-2:45 p.m. All so that you regular workin’ folk, like Joe Sixpack and DUI Danny, can go to work unmolested by gangs of smelly preteens demanding candy and full disclosure of your personal life.

There’s a reason Jack Bauer never takes on public education for 24 hours. He’d never make it past 9:00-10:10a.m

(That’s a
24 reference and shout out to all loyal fans who are giving 24 one more try this season. Through the first four hours we’re good. Jack’s at his surliest, ass-whoopinest best.)

But recently I developed a marble-sized knot in the back of my skull. In the past day it’s deflated a bit, and none of my literary genius appears
lost. But I am thoroughly ready for the “season of disease” in public schooling to be over.

Note: the season of disease is much like summer TV. It’s filled with reality based crap you never wanted to see, like green snot sickles or milky vomit covered in mint-fragranced sawdust. Really. What’s the difference between seeing that or watching Temptation Island?

Very lit
tle. That’s how much.

The season runs from about January to March, and I’m already tired of it. Even more tired than drunk David Ha
sselhoff is of YouTube. So today, whilst dodging the latest uncovered, mucus-drenched cough from one of my students, I tried to temper my annoyance by thinking of three things that irritate me more than the season of the sickness.

3-->Brad Pitt and his wife-Can they not just act? Can they just not enjoy their jobs as make believe characters and stop commenting on societal issues? I know, I know. It’s great when celebrities use their star power to further causes, like rebuilding New Orleans or helping impoverished children.

But they blew off Ryan Seacrest at the Golden Globes. And that pisses me off. What did Seacrest ever do to piss somebody off? For God’s sakes, he was the funniest thing about Knocked Up. So let them have as many twins as they want. And let them adopt all the children they can snag until they successfully reenact the It’s a Small World ride in their living room. But maybe they just shut the hell up for a while and at least act like they’re not so damn put out all the time. Well, I know Brad can pull that off.

His wife’s not so much on the acting.

2-->Brittney Spears-Don’t give Brittney any more money! It will only go to two
places, Kevin Federline and her Beverly Hillbillies white trash family, or liposuction so that she can keep sucking down pies to calm herself after she bashes in another car window.

Get her off the iPod screens in the Best Buy inserts! You listen to music
on iPods. You watch train wrecks on CNN and VH1. And that’s all she is now. A talentless exhibitionist of the highest class.

Hell, even Taylor Swift thinks Brittney can’t sing.

1-->Twilight-Maybe this is just because I’ve finally been overcome with enough curiosity that I am almost 100 pages into the first novel (I use that term loosely) and am finding myself more bored than Hillary Clinton at Obama’s first cabinet meeting.

If I have to read her coo
k dinner for her father one more time (we’re up to two in about a 30 page span) I’m going to microwave the book, cover it in hot sauce, and pretend I’m devouring the heart of the literary agent who cast this plague upon us. (Writers House, I’m staring in your direction).

I honestly don’t blame teens and preteens for their captivation. Edward is designed to be the per
fect male. And Bella is the perfect helpless Lois Lane. Yes, she talks tough, but seems to clearly need Edward to save her and make her happy.

But to those over 20, I bite my thumb at you. The Buffy the Vampire Slaver loves Angel (haunted vampire with a soul) storyline is better love story by miles. Yes, it’s a little edgier and doesn’t necessarily end happily, but at least it’s believable—as far as human vampire romances go. Honestly, there’s no comparison. This is like Michael Keaton Batman versus George Clooney Batman, or Daddy Bush versus W. Sometimes newer does not mean better.

Or maybe this knot on my head just has me in a foul mood…I hate this season.
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