Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Plane

I’m sitting on a plane right now absentmindedly watching Garden State, which incidentally is a fantastic movie with an epic soundtrack. But my mind wanders. I just left Chicago where I was attending the NRA tradeshow. No, not the National Rifle Association. I wouldn’t be able to take a single step at THAT NRA show without the silent alarm sounding, alerting the gun-toting powermongers that a hippie kid had invaded their building. This was the National Restaurant Association show, where we replace the heat-packers with pound-packers. No guns or weapons of any kind. Just love handles and grease. On the whole it was a great show and a nice opportunity to get some face time with current customers and future clients alike.

I love free association.

What is the deal with Twilight? You know…the book about vampires and werewolves that fall in love with each other and with humans. Does the author not understand that vampires and werewolves freaking HATE each other? In my world vampires and werewolves tear human beings’ throats out. They don’t fall in love with them. Furthermore, everyone with the remotest understanding of vampire lore knows that a werewolf is no challenge to a vampire. An entire clan of werewolves can be annihilated by a single vampire. Will I see the movies? Of course. If I can sit through Pride and Prejudice many times over then I can handle a ridiculous film about loved-up vampires. I will not, however, read the books. I have standards.

Why are Americans so indulgent? At this NRA show we would cut our 4 oz cookies into fourths and fill entire baskets. Attendees could walk by and sample a variety of delicious cookies. But every once in a while I would have someone ask to take a complete wrapped cookie “to save for later.” Totally fine. No problem. However, on numerous occasions someone would step into my booth and fully empty our clip racks of cookies. Dozens of them. Without asking or caring. That would be like me going to the Coke booth that gave out tiny cups of Coke and asking them to fill my ghetto-ass 64 oz mug with Pepsi. Memo to the Clampets of the world. Don’t hide behind nice clothes and hygiene. Throw on your greasy Dickies, tattered jeans, and soiled wife-beaters. Untuck your mullets from your hats and take off those shoes that just HAVE to be cramping your funky filthy bare feet. Take out the partial dentures and break out your backwoods possum-eating vocabulary. “Awwww shoooot, I done seen a humdinger of a cookie over yonder, y’all mind if I snag ‘er?” You are fooling no one. I see through your double negatives and future perfect tense. You are hicks. Take the bloody cookies. Yer kin gotsta be hungered. Embrace your redneck heritage…don’t hide it.

Are European men aware that they look gay? Is that honestly high fashion? I saw no less than a dozen Italian/French/Dutch dudes that looked like variations of Austin Powers. Seriouly…a cravatte?! One such Dutchman approached the booth and asked for a “serviette.” I misunderstood and replied “I’m sorry sir, we’re all out of Soviets.” I really thought he was trying to be funny. Homeboy, conjure up some pride and call them NAPKINS. Testosterone is ashamed of you.

Why is there such an intense separation of classes among Italian restaurants in SLC? On one end of the spectrum we have The Olive Garden. The vast majority of Americans have no idea how terrible this restaurant is. There are no comparisons I can make. Calling it The Arctic Circle of Italian is far too kind. A more appropriate comparison would be to the half-eaten sandwich found in the dumpster outside of the Magna Mervyns. Which I would much rather eat than anything on menu at the Olive Garden. On the low end there is also Francescos and Fazzolis. There is one singular mid-range joint…The Maccaroni Grill. Beyond that the jump is ridiculous. Tuscany, Baci, etc. Fair food at retarded prices. What is the problem with getting GOOD Italian food in Utah without donating a kidney to afford it? Is our market that bad for a good Italian joint? I’ve stopped hoping for actual local faire. At this point I’d settle for a good chain, alla Maggianos. I’d sell my soul to have a Maggianos in Salt Lake.

The DI will always smell funny. No amount of disinfectant or facility remodels will fix that. I’m not sure if it is the merchandise or the bodies of the workers. Not sure that I care. All I know is that it smells like piles of old people’s dead skin cells in there. And yes, I went to a DI lately. I wanted a fox-fur stole.

I cannot get over how teenagers can text as skillfully as they do. The dexterity and speed with which these kids can type on a cell phone is inhuman. It reminds me of Rain Man counting toothpicks; this is the stuff of idiot savants. I have a friend named Blake that I would pit against anyone…ON A COMPUTER. He texts markedly faster than I type. And I’m above 70 wpm. I have youth in our neighborhood that text without looking. I have one question though. How long before our young people sacrifice the English language to the gods of Textopia. Studies show, surprisingly, that high school students’ essay scores are NOT suffering from textspeak. But I highly doubt that will maintain. It is just a matter of time before kids start turning in papers stating things like “idk wut da prob is, wtf. iirc u bbl.” Printed from a cell phone.

Utah truly is “the wild west.” I spent some time with Derek and Heather at their new home in Gurnee Illinois, just outside of Chicago. It didn’t seem real…almost like I had jumped into one of Bert’s sidewalk chalk drawings in Mary Poppins. Their neighborhood was charming. It was quaint. It was gorgeous. There wasn’t a single yard that was not meticulously maintained. The neighborhood had its own park, beautifully kept. This is in addition to the 30 acres of hardwood forest within the neighborhood. Oh, and did I mention the three small lakes with all sorts of creatures living on and around them? Grayson’s school is the size of Fashion Place Mall and it is home to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades only! When the bell rings and school ends, kids don’t run out like crazed Samoans to Chuck-a-Rama on a Sunday after church. They wait until their buses arrive and are escorted by the faculty to their buses. Abbey’s school is roughly the size of my high school and is for kindergarten and preschool only. How is such utopian bliss accomplished? Through regulation. You cannot mow your lawn and haphazardly throw your clippings into the trash or green waste can. You have to bag it. In a special bag. And then mark the special bag with a special sticker. The place is buttoned down tightly. Not everyone will agree that it is a better system. In fact it sounds much like socialism in some respects. Which would I prefer? Considering the abortion of a yard maintained by two of my neighbors, I’ll take socialism. I’d move to Gurnee in a heartbeat. $9K per year in property tax? Erm, no thanks. I’ll take Utah and my Sanford-n-Sons neighbors. Yay capitalism.

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