Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stupid Bamboo Hugger

The following is a Craigslist Apartment Ad that I found in my search for available rooms in Chicago. My response to the ad is below in purple.
$700 **** Apt. to Share for Female Prof. or Grad. w/Foreign Policy Exp ****

Political junkie seeks female professional or grad student with more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin to share condo (summer internship in Spain, safari in Africa, scuba diving in France, or vacation in Italy will suffice). No wildlife killers or environmental novices will be considered. Respondents with lip-sticked pit bulls will not be considered. Ideal condo-mate will have registered to vote and be progressive in pursuing change we can believe in. War heroines will be considered, but Bush apologists and rationalizers will not.
New Furnished 3 BR, 2 BA Condo. A/C; DW; Washer & Dryer in Unit; Disposal. Queen Bed, 4 drawer chest, and small TV in BR. Exterior and interior quality finishes. Three bedrooms two baths. Cherry cabinets and cherry and bamboo hardwood floors thru-out! Private balconies. Gas Fireplace. Plenty of street parking. Nice, safe neighborhood. Public transportation and grocery shopping within 1 block; 5 minutes to Blue Line. 20 minutes by car to O'Hare. Near Kennedy Expressway. 3 Blocks from Northeastern Illinois University.
Rent includes utilities. Must like small, energetic dog and be available to care for him infrequently. Responsible, fun, upbeat, reliable, mature, and adaptable to a wry sense of humor would be ideal to share unit with professional, responsible male exec. Please respond with your lifestyle description, profession, contact information, and foreign policy resume. Immediate availability. Small non-barking dogs (under 20 lbs.) o.k.
My Reponse:

Dear Sir,

I am writing to inquire about the availability of your politically adorned room. However, I write with hesitations. Because of my traumatic experiences in Argentina I am rather fragile and refuse to spend another night with any more junkies. If you can assure me that your political habits can be suppressed when I am at my weakest, (i.e. when I see a photo or drawing of, or real-life Tapir) I will be a little more assuaged.

Having spent an entire year in South America and having taken the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Europe, Asia and Eurasia, I feel that I have more foreign policy than Sarah Palin. In fact, when I traveled to Alaska, I found that most Inuits are confused with Eskimos and that most Eskimos are confused with beavers. This allowed me to realize the xenophobia and stereotyping behaviour of most Alaskans. I feel that Alaskans, overwhelmingly, are alcoholic. So I try my best to stay away from them.

Moreover, I can assure you that I am neither wildlife killer nor environmental novice. I am a friend to all animals (with the lone exception: that damned Tapir). My environmental experience includes but is not limited to: three years as a lawn service employee for H&R Lawn Care. References furnished upon request.

I hope that it is okay that my cousin's neighbor's step-father has a poodle with eye-liner. I do not condone the application of makeup to dogs. Cats though, well, I'd have to gauge the situation and/or brand of makeup. Of course I would never apply makeup to, toss about, or eat your small, energetic dog. If I haven't already mentioned it, I LOVE DOGS! Gee, though, I hope your dog's name is Samuel or Hubert. In my opinion, these are two of the best possible names for canines. I will be able to work with most other names, regardless of the amount of syllables. Just warn me ahead of time if the name rhymes with 'Taupe'. It's better I prepare for that.

You should be excited to hear that I have registered to vote! In fact, I would have made it out to cast my ballot in the last election had it not been for that lousy weather, those lengthy lines or my incredible apathy! I suppose that if I did vote I would have voted against George Bush by striking through that circle next to his name with an emphatic check mark. While I am a friend to animals, I am an enema to George Bush! What a doofus! Are we sure that he's not from Alaska? Or East Timor for that matter?

Honestly, I could care less what the apartment looks like, although, I am pumped to see that you have bamboo hardwood floors throughout. Did you know that Bamboo can grow 30-40 feet per day? Of course you do! It's incredible growth rate makes it a perfectly environmentally friendly choice for all flooring! This is why I chose to line the inside of my Ford F-250 with seaweed because it grows at even quicker rates.

I see that you have two bathrooms, but I have this thing, you know, after my year in South America, where I can't go to the bathroom without someone else in there. Would it be cool to ask to share a bathroom?

Thanks for taking the time to read through my email, you sound like a professional, responsible male exec.

I hope this can work out! Uh, also, being male, I bring along something that no female can bring. That is, a penis. I don't want to go into great length about it, I'll save all those stories for when we share the bathroom together, but after my tapir experience...well, it'll make sense when I show you.

Man, if you can drop that price down from $700 to around $400/month, then we'd really be talking.

Really looking forward to chillaxing, eating sushi and talking about the AIDS pandemic ravaging Sub-Saharan Africa,


Note: I am still awaiting reply and will post his reply as soon as it is received.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Slippery Slope in Crag-laden Northwest Argentina pt. 3 of 3

Because even highbrow humour needs a poop joke every once in a while:

As the night grew increasingly longer I became more entrenched in my hopelessness. I was stuck on an overnight bus journey from Jujuy, Argentina back to Buenos Aires. All would have been grand had it not been for the fact that nothing was grand. The first three hours of the trip had become excruciating. If my bowels could speak, they'd echo in angst; "SHIT!"

Enrique, my seatmate, wouldn't shut up, couldn't shut up. He was so jacked on maté that he couldn't sit still. Meanwhile, hands clenched to the armrests, I sat near vertically, at an angle of even less than 90 degrees with my insides writhing. The light above flickered at a rate mere fractions of seconds off consistent. This was just enough to further drive me berserk. The cosmos were surely playing an evil trick on me.

The chances that I would last like this much longer weren't slim to none. No, they were none. I thought it best to count, to take my mind off of every single little thing around me. It had gotten to the point where I felt that even the fabric on my seat was too rough on my skin and that I thought I could smell my feet; or someone's feet. Every sensation I experienced turned painful, and the counting did no good. It became a systematic countdown towards my breaking point.

Sixty-six, sixty-seven...Enrique was yapping.
One-oh-eight, one-oh-nine...I was sweating.
One-forty-two, one-forty-three...the lights were flickering.
Crap! What number was I on?...The bus was rocking.
One-twenty-two, one-twenty-three...I was sure that the driver has gone tangent on a goat-path.
One-ninety-nine, two-hundred....

I jumped up amid Enrique's rant about Whatever, I said no words and I RAN down to the driver below.

Now, it's rare that I'll ever ask someone to bend to my wishes. I am a firm believer in the utilitarian approach to moving commerce. A long line of cars should not wait for one person disobeying a crossing-signal to stroll lazily across the intersection, and certainly a bus-full of content passengers shouldn't be forced to pull off into a small town so that one guilty American can use the bathroom. (Although functions of utilitarianism would have ensured that the bus's toilet worked). It is, however, also true that I am of the firmest belief in some sort of consequentialism. This choice, to stop, would be much better for all on the bus than if I hadn't the opportunity. I promise.

"Excuse me, sir," I hesitantly gained the driver's attention, "I need to use the bathroom."

"We'll be stopping shortly," he retorted.

"Uh... we need to stop very soon, shortly won't suffice." ( I don't know how I managed to get this all across in Spanish). We then began to stare each other down. I really wished he would watch the road, but I also needed him to understand the gravity of my situation. One would assume that my gravity was the standard 9.8 m/s², however, the weight of all the burdens on my back pushed me towards the floor*. Hunched over, I engaged the driver in a very monumental staring contest, and I was so intent on winning that I didn't move to wipe the sweat dripping from my brow. We both stared as if it would never end. Then, from either my determination or the driver's necessity to return his attention back to the road, I emerged victor! I contently turned around after his nod and headed back to my seat when I suddenly flew backward. The bus came to a screeching halt.

"Here." the driver said concisely.

"Here?" I asked. I looked outside. The moonlit night shone only upon an empty field for as far as I could see. There were no lights, no signs of civilization and, sure as death, no toilets.

"Here?" I asked again. Maybe I wasn't victorious, after all.

[[Please hang tight for part four of this engaging three part series! This is certainly not the end.]]
*Note: Yes, I am fully aware of the differences between force and gravitational pull. This device used purely literarily.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Slippery Slope in Crag-laden Northwest Argentina pt. 2 of 3

"Hey, Dude," my seatmate spoke to me in Spanish, "you want some yerba maté?" I was told that it was not just impolite, but that, in fact, it was rather rude to refuse an offered share of Argentina's most potently caffeinated tea. Yerba maté has a similar caffeine content to the coffee bean, and its drank directly though the leaves, filtered through a straw in a hollowed out gourd. Resultingly, I was faced with a handful of problems:
  1. I has just been abruptly awoken and I was NOT happy
  2. The second to last thing I needed was caffeine through potent tea on the first hour of my overnight, uncomfortable-bus-seat-burdened voyage, and
  3. The very last thing I needed was to burn the unspoken rapport between me and my bus-buddy that had already allowed me to claim over 2/3 of the shared arm rest
Also, I suppose that the ultimate-last thing I needed at this point was to have the bus stormed by pirates, but that was the least of my worries considering all my other woes. I didn't need the next 17 hours and 25 minutes to be spent in a constant battle for claim over the bordering land. It was at this point that I came up with a final decision, a decision which I had never used theretofore. I chose to pretend that I didn't speak Spanish.

"What?" I said in English. He motioned toward his tea. "Very nice." I said and turned to look out the window. He tapped my shoulder. Dammit, he was persistent.

"Querés?" He asked.

I needed to be persistent, too; "No sir, I would not like to caress your gourd," I mumbled in case anyone around us did speak English. He shoved the straw in my face. I surrender! This was to be a painfully long journey if I continued to surrender that easily, but I was clearly fighting a strategic war-master. I took gourd and a sip. My stomach grumbled. The dulce de leche desert from earlier had already not been sitting perfectly. I sighed.

"Great, thanks." I said to Eisenhower and handed it back. I found out that his name was less-fittingly Enrique, and we continued to engage in general discourse. I slowly began to turn my one word, curt, Spanish responses into lengthy Spanish monologues as the caffeine kicked in. My cover was blown. Enrique refilled his gourd with thermos and I refilled my vigor. We drank, talked and shared. Funny was when Enrique asked me some rather uncomfortable questions about American girls. Not funny was how much more uncomfortable my stomach felt than trying to answer his questions.

I had to excuse myself, "Pardon me, I'm going to go find the bathroom."

"It's not working."

Hoping he was talking about our newfound friendship I asked, "What's not working?"

Enrique neither assuaged my fears when he replied, "The bathroom," nor when he informed me that "we'll be stopping in only a couple hours for gas." I buried my head in hands and sighed again. Okay, I thought, I'll take a break, lean back and hopefully dream about a porcelain land with hills of toilet paper and rivers of hand soap. I pushed against my chair. It didn't move. I pushed harder. It didn't move harder.

"I'm glad you're here, friend, welcome to South America," Enrique said as he handed me some more maté.

[[Part three to follow. The horses, all the beautiful horses... hold on to them]]

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Slippery Slope in Crag-laden Northwest Argentina pt. 1 of 3

Traveling through Northwest Argentina had hitherto been enjoyable and relaxing. The clean and welcoming cities of the Salta and Jujuy provinces brought few feelings of insecurity. Yes, shockingly, the cities on the Argentine Altiplano were kempt. Overcome by a waitress’s congeniality I spent my last pesos on a recommended dulce de leche dessert and on a gracious tip. With empty pockets and a full stomach I quickly searched through town to find an accessible ATM before I boarded my bus back to Buenos Aires, but my labors ended fruitlessly and I raced back to the terminal to load my bag and squeeze into my seat just in time to begin the 26 hour haul back to the capital. Of course, at that particular moment, I was only expecting an 18 hour trip.

I sifted through my bag. My camera’s battery had died the night before but I pulled out my notebook to jot down memories from the past day. I was sure as lief to forget had I not taken the time to write down my experiences. It was customary and very easy for me to supplement writing with photography as each picture was worth, as the saying goes, at least sixty-five words.

My hand got tired as it often would. I had written about just the breakfast I ate the day before and I gave up. To pass the time before light ran out, I pulled out a few letters from my friend back home in Chicago. They served to remind me both of the luxuries I had left in the United States and of the reasons I wanted so badly to escape the country for a year. Overall, the letters, as I best recall, were humorous and helpful to pass the time on an uncomfortable South American bus commencing its overnight journey. I’d take this discomfort, though, anytime over the monotony of the Chicago Suburbs. This was new and exciting. In my haste boarding the bus I had forgotten to grab any CDs from my suitcase which was now secured under the cabin. We wouldn’t be stopping until morning, so I was without entertainment for the night. Thankfully, I am completely diurnal during long travel. As soon as the sun set, I expected to fall asleep. I rested my head on the window where I watched the diver-sun, slow-dived from noon, meld into the horizon creating a splash of golden light.*

My consciousness swept away with the daylight. There was to be no need for CDs or camera batteries where I was going, and darkness paved way to slumber. Ah, yes, sleep! I can write about its beauty incessantly. Sleep is the brilliant state where all possibilities became probabilities. Only, unfortunately for me, the probability of being awoken was near certainty. My lucid dreams were startled back into lurid visions of the man sitting next to me.

[[Parts 2 and 3 to follow.]]
*Note: Thank you Herman Melville.

I'm In Love with a Pig (Video)

Let's try to get this video up on the video viral charts... Handed to my roommates at a house party by our next-door neighbor. He says he's getting into the comedy scene. This is too good for anyone to miss:


Friday, September 19, 2008

Andare a Giocare a Bowling

It was Christmas day in Sorrento, Italy. The weather was chilly, but nothing else sans a lone and somber Christmas tree, which seemed to depress the lobby of our hotel rather than enlighten it, reminded us of the holiday back home. We had each other, my immediate family, but we had nothing to do. The day had closed all stores and had brought each Sorrentine to his or her relative's home; the streets were abandoned. After a quiet brunch in the hotel, we gathered ourselves outside to stroll about the empty streets of this bayside town. The wind blew sharply, giving our cheeks a rosy hue, and garbage and cats seemed to move with it along the streets. Ahead shined the sole lit sign in the entire town, and it pulled us near.

"Nice! A bowling alley," Jacob shouted and pulled me and my parents in. We had enjoyed great games of bowling around the globe. I recall at this moment a strobe-lit game amplified by harsh techo music in Germany. The conditions at the German alley acted as steroids to our final scores. The Germans were impressed with our family bowling skills, and we were certain that the elderly employee and the rest of the empty Surrentum Alley would be equally impressed.

The skills came naturally and we were making the pins fall as the ornaments fell off the hotel's tree when brushed against. I bowled a few gutter balls, a few spares and a few strikes. Jacob bowled as well, or well enough to invite glances over from four young Italian men who had just walked in. Being so empty, the sounds of our strikes bellowed through the alley. Jacob and I and our father began to joke around and we bowled through each other's legs, changed the other's name on the above screen to anagrams like G.A.Y., A.S.S. or other highbrow words like P.O.O. We were able to edit each other's scores using the "correct score" feature available on the control panel as well.

Soon later, as our hands got tired and we had successfully wasted enough of our Italian Christmas, we packed up our shoes to leave. Just as we walked away, one of the Italian men, we'll call him Antonio, saw our tampered scores above. I had changed mine to near-perfect 299, giving myself a 9 on the last frame while Jacob gave himself a 300. Antonio shrieked aloud; "Trecento! Trecento!" He blindly reached for his friends behind him to gather their attention and they all stared in awe at our perfect scores. Before we knew anything, all four men gleamed and excitedly applauded us. They searched for English words. Mario found a few; "Tree-hundred! Superior! Tree-hundred!" They beckoned and continued in celebration.

Uncertain and little embarrassed, our family hesitantly smirked, waved off their applause and exited quickly as rock stars eschewed fans aside tour buses. Once outdoors, we broke into echoing laughter and bolted back to the safety of the hotel. "I think they has a pen out so as to try and get autographs." Jake said. A good-humored, rootin- tootin', knee-slapping fun time followed until the next day when walking past a newly full capacity Sorrento bowling alley we peaked inside to see, to our greatest excitement and/or fear, that taped to the wall behind the shoe counter was a printed computer paper sign that read:

Alto Punteggio (Top Scores):

D.U.M.: 300 - 25/12/02
A.S.S.: 299 - 25/12/02