Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's Easy, isn't it?

OK, lest my blog make me appear too cynical and snarky, I thought I'd post this video someone shared with me today. I think it's just about the best thing ever (minus the soundtrack, which I don't quite get. It's a great song by Leonard Cohen, but not exactly heart-warming).

The Stamping Factor

"Stamped" into oblivion.

I arrived at the Hut of Pizza, cheese craving reaching unearthly magnitude. And, yes, I realize this was probably already my second or third error—the first being the decision to call Pizza Hut and place an order. But sometimes the Cheese Demon must be satisfied. I walked inside and the very young girl behind the counter handed me the Personal Pan Pizza I had ordered by phone, and did what no other pizza place has ever done for me—she opened the box there on the counter for my inspection and said,

“There. How’s that look?”.

 The irony is that it was one of the worst looking pizzas I had seen in a long while. I said, without hesitation, “It looks terrible.”

She looked at the charred disk and said weakly, “Yeah, I guess that one edge there has a little burnt cheese”

A little burnt cheese.

Only a chemist, with an array of tools, would have recognized it as 'cheese'. This young lady was dedicated, determined.

“Do you have 7 minutes,” she said?

“Well,” I said, “I don’t, really. But I’m hungry, so I guess I’ll have to wait.”

“OK. I’ll try to adjust things and see if I can make it come out better.”

She should have stopped there. But no. She tried to explain the complexity of the situation:

“That happens a lot with the personal pan pizzas. It’s the . . .the uh. . .um. . .you know,  The Stamping Factor.”
She said this while gesturing to the pizza, and shaking her head, looking at me as if this was a universally understood concept.  [Ah, yes, the Stamping Factor. Of course. Physics 101, I believe. ]

Now, I could have been nasty and said what I was thinking, but my annoyance turned into the kind of internal laughter that was so hard to suppress, my shoulders were shaking.
What I was thinking, and what I wanted to say was:

“The Stamping. . . . . Factor? . . .Can you . . . .explain?”

I can only guess that she was trying to convince me that the fact that Pizza Hut’s pizzas are all the same because they are stamped out in some factory turned them into this inedible discus that now sat before me, mute, blackened beyond all reason.

She would say, “Yes. It’s the stamping out of these identical shapes.”

I would say, “That’s peculiar. I’ve had many a Pizza Hut pizza over the years—not proud of that, but—and  the vast majority of them have been somewhat edible. Not burned at all. I think the problem here might be the ‘Cooked-Too-Long Factor’ or perhaps the ‘Oven Too Hot Factor’. You know, Occam’s Razor and all.”

Karma at the forefront of my mind, I said nothing. Just nodded in amazement at the swiftness with which she yanked such an elegant theory from some impressively productive orifice. Thank God employees must wash hands.

I sat by the window, looking out at traffic, trying hard not to burst out in guffaws. Tears were streaming down my cheeks. I’m sure if the girl had returned, she would have thought I was so deeply disappointed, so overcome with hunger, that I had broken down. No telling what sentiment she would have yanked out then.

Not long after, she returned with a slightly less repulsive specimen for my dining pleasure, and even brought out the original pizza for comparison, opening both lids, smiling broadly, and making a somewhat ‘Vannah White’ sweeping gesture through the air above them. In the battle of good and evil, she had won.

"Love me. Just love me," was etched upon her face.

But it does not end there. No. That was not enough for her. Perhaps sensing my earlier incredulity, into The Chosen Orifice she delved again, fishing around for something more plausible. 

“You know,” she said with a deft mixture of certainty and conjecture, “I think what happened was this one [the charred wreckage] got stuck on the conveyor belt behind the others.” [known in professional pizzeria lingo as the Sci-fi Bullshit Factor]

The Others.

Plural. Never mind that the store was a ghost town at this hour, 3PM. Mine was the only pizza in sight. Perhaps, though, there was a rush of 5 or 6 patrons just before I arrived—in fact, they saw me coming and fled.
Perhaps there is a sensor that makes the conveyor inexplicably stop when one doomed pizza gets “stuck behind The Others” which are apparently defying technology and gravity to move much more slowly than the conveyor belt upon which they began their journey.


Perhaps there are even more things than I imagined in this world, this life, the depths of which I may never visit, even in my dreams. Perhaps a few of life’s infinite colors will never reach my palette, for my own failure to understand the intricacies of this world.
Perhaps I, too, am a victim of some cosmic “Stamping Factor”.

What other explanation could there be?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Love Sonnet (sort of)

NASA image

Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day?

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

                                                                by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Not this week?
Yet, do not such extremes render one more temperate by comparison?
The darling buds of May are shrieking in agony right now, as
Too hot the eye of heaven shines for at least the last four days.
When all the world seems sticky and uncomfortable, and starting to smell . . . well. . . let’s be honest, a bit ripe
Thine words, thine voice, are as central air conditioning and a
Camelback full of Gatorade.
Thou hast never wilted vegetables on the vine, so really,
Thou art looking pretty good compared to this infernal season.
And thou ought not get me started about the brown-outs.
Oh no thou didn’t!
Yes, power outages. ‘Zounds, why did that fan just suddenly stoppeth?!
Alas, it was really more like a blow drier at this point.
But I digress. . .this heat . . . what was I saying?
Oh, yes, thou.
Well, what can I say about thou? Thou maketh not sluggishness in me,
As doth this effing summer’s day, that’s for sure.
Thou doth not scald the fingertips of the beloved, as doth the steering wheel when in haste I have forgotten to carefully place the sunscreen against the windshield
                --though, thou art a hottie to be sure. Don’t get me wrong.
Thine presence, thine love, is as the cool blue chlorinated and well-skimmed
Pool of water.
Not the public one in the Bronx, either, where everyone waited on line, sweating and swearing
And then got into fist fights until the police came.
No, not that pool.
Nor any of the ones in Queens, or even Brooklyn.
This pool is ours alone, and we can use flotation devices if we want
And do cannonballs.
And enjoy margaritas, too.
Seriously, thou art like that.
Just like that.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spies Like Us

"You say 'bake sale'?. . .Yes, ve vill be zere."

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. I was busy starring in a horror movie called “The Graduate Degree that Ate My Life”. That film has wrapped, and I now have a starring role in the sequel, which is (if you can believe it) already in production. It’s called “The Licensing Exam that Swallowed My Summer”. I’m still very busy but, when crisis hits, where else can a gal turn but the blogosphere?

I have a problem. There’s an infestation in my neighborhood. Those who know me will say, “Enough about the groundhogs, already!” but it’s not that.

It’s the spies.

Not just any spies, mind you. Zey are Russian, Dahrrlink. Rrrrussian.

I suppose maybe the “Live and Let Die” ringtone should have tipped us off, and the fact that the ringtone was coming from his shoe, but who thinks of such things in the post-Cold War era, in an era when your phone is your stereo and your address book and your computer? It’s not a Shoe-phone, it’s a Phone shoe. The iShoe, if you will. Sure, why not. And who questions a family named “Murphy” about their country of origin or their ancestry? I mean, duh. Right?

One thing’s for sure; it has folks in my little tree-lined, apple pie town all in a tizzy. Papers today have some of the most beautiful, predictable B.S. a blogger could ask for. There’s the classic, “"When he looked at you, he didn't look you in the eye. And I thought it was strange,” from one neighbor, who went on to offer this gem, “I remember him talking to me, but averting his eyes, and I had this feeling, even then, there was something not right.” Yeah, honey. Sure. You just knew, in 2010, that something devious was afoot, sent from Russia, with love. If he had looked you in the eyes, today you’d be saying “I remember how creepy it was, the way he’d lock eyes with you and not let go as you spoke to him.” Never occurred to you that the “something” that wasn’t right could have been your breath? Or that large boil on your neck? I’d avert my eyes, too. Consider the possibility that he found you profoundly uninteresting and/or full of it, which you clearly are.
The bigger tip-off should have been all those stunning catsuits the missus would bring over to Goodwill each Spring, and the Martini glasses she’d take home—10 cents a piece is a good deal—and the way she kind of purrrred, rather than actually speaking.

The best stuff, though, came from the family who had befriended the dreaded spies before their move to suburbia. They knew them when they were Hoboken spies. "I look back at it now and think, 'We let them watch our kids!' Russian spies watching our kids," the husband said. Wow, the panic! I love it! What does he think the Russian spies did with his kids, planted recording devices in their asses so they could hear all about middle class life in Hoboken? So they could find out who that family was cheering for on American Idol? Please. . .

Gets better. They say the wife baked cookies shaped like the Statue of Liberty. No joke. Methinks some little spy is trying way too hard, or maybe giving herself a sinister laugh to break the tension of life undercover. I see her and her “hubby” there, in the kitchen, snickering at first, then erupting into howls of laughter as she applies the red, white, and blue icing. It turns into a food fight, the spies and their kitchen splashed with a colorful sugary coating, practically soiling their pants as they roll on the floor, ending with a passionate kiss, of course. Ah, so utterly American. . . . at least, if this was Hollywood.
I guess when the hammer-and-sickle cookies didn't go over well at the school bake sale it was time to pump up the patriotism. You Amerrricans, you have noh senze of humorrrr.