Monday, November 24, 2008

Adaptation - An NYC Story

I have not written a while.  This is partly because this city, Manhattan, is a freaking beast that swallows you whole.  Every once in a while this beast spits you out and you get a chance to tell about your adventures within the belly of the beast.

I have been swallowed by the beast.  This city keeps you busy and keeps your eyes "off the trees, and focuses your eyes on the forest".   I lose whatever is in front of me only to see what is 100 yards down the line.   

Living in this jungle you have to adapt.  Adapt to the smell (which my father says resembles a wet  camel).  You adapt to the noise (I will start a business selling ambient CD's with sirens and gun shots on them to NYers instead of Whales and baboons).  You adapt to the people (the crazy drunk, the crazy cat lady, the homeless man who yells at the fire hydrant).  You adapt to the weather (I didn't even use gloves today.  That is HUGE for me compared to last winter).

Basically you adapt or you lose it.  This city forces you to adapt.  Adapt or bust.  

So Swedish Hot Stuff (a.k.a. The Wife) and I were walking to the train station this morning.  Mondays she has class in the A.M. and leaves the house with me.  This is a good excuse for me to take the train two stops without feeling like a jack ass who just spent two dollars on one mile of distance that on a normal evening I cover walking two chiuahuahs in fish print pijamas.

Let me sidebar for a moment.  As a New Yorker for nearly a year now, I learned as many of the rules and guidelines as I can.  Before I moved here a good friend of mine said to me "Don't stop in the middle of the sidewalk if you have to answer a phone or text.  Move to the left or right.  Its the NY rule".  Another friend told me "Don't walk in Central Park after sun down".  Or one friend said "Don't sleep with any girls from alphabet city." But that sounded like a personal issue that really has no concern to me.  Not just cause I am married, but mostly because if I was single, I wouldn't go picking up hoodrats in alphabet city.  Even the homeless guy who screams at fire hydrants knows that.

So I learned the rules.  Still learning.  One of the rules is regarding subway stairs.  Going up the stairs in the subway station?  Stick to the right side of the stairs (going up).  Going down? Stick to the right (going down).  Basically everyone gets a side.  Of course this rules has sub rules.  For example if you are in the escalators, you stay to the right so that people who are rushing can run up the escalators.   There are other rules too (like if you have tourists behind you, drive them crazy by stopping every fourth step.   So many tourist, so little time.)

The 7 train exit at Grand Central (or 42nd and 3rd to be exact) is an interesting one.  In the mornings they have two escalators coming up from the train.  The stairs in the center are made for people going down to the train.   Its a good system.  Keeps a flow.  Everyone gets to their destination on time and with both legs.
But once you get to the bottom of that stairway, there is another small stairway.   No escalators this time.  Just stairs.  Problem here is you get a hundred people coming off both the Grand Central train and the Jamaica Train and they all try to fit into this stairway going upstairs.  Its like watching those shoppers on black fridays at a local Wal-Mart in OHIO.   Everyone rushing to fit into whatever fart space is available.  Problem is, if you are trying to come DOWN the stairs, you can't.  They take up all four lanes.  Thats like trying to drive down the FDR going south in four lanes of cars going North.  You literally have to bob and weave.  

So today I said fuck it and acted like a jerk and walked down the stairs knocking sholders and pushing elbows.   I basically came down the stairways like an avalanche.  Nothing will stop me and nothing will make me move from heading straight down.  I pushed one man out of the way.  I hit shoulders with another and I shoved someone with an elbow.  All these guys were in the lane reserved for those going down to the train on the stairway (by New York unspoken law).  They chose to take up that space to beat the hundred of others who did follow the unspoken law, so I went down like a rain in a blizzard.  Hard.  I didn't give a shit if someone would trip, fall, or lose their arms.  It was like that battle scene in Lord of the Rings.  I just rushed into this mass without hesitation.   

I eventually came out on the other side breathing.  And a lot faster than my "more polite" counterpart (a.k.a. wifey).  As my wife descended on the train level, she gave me a look and said "You can't do that Shai.  You were like shoving people and pushing them out the way".

Is it wrong that I found nothing wrong with that statement?  After all, they invaded the "downstairs movement".   Is there something wrong with taking charge when someone else invades your space?

What else was I supposed to do?  Ask politely?  This is NY.  You adapt.  And adapt means becoming one with your surrounding.  I am learning to survive.  If this was the jungle, I would be the one still alive.

But then again, I never done that.  I never became a jerk so that I don't "miss" the train.  Is my adapting, a bad thing?  

Personally, between you and I: Fuck it.  Seriously.  If someone got a shitty mood this morning because I brushed shoulders with them pretty hard this morning on the 7 train station stairways, fuck em.  Really.  I hope they remember it.   Seriously.  When I did something bad as a kid, I got a spanking or punished.  Guess what?  I remembered that shit and didn't do it again.  If I did, well, I deserved the second round of spanking that came to me.  If I was an idiot enough to make the same thing twice.  Same goes with the four idiots who got acquainted with my shoulders and elbows.  If they choose to do this again next Monday, well, lets hope our paths don't cross again.  

I may sound like a jerk to some of the readers (including my wife who reads this occasionally).  
But to those who adapted in NYC know what its like.  Sometimes, adapting takes doing things you are not proud of.  Its a culture here in NYC and to survive this culture, you have to become one of it.  I am not saying this culture is a "jerk culture".  Its not.  New Yorkers are some of the friendliest people I met.  Swear!  
But it takes a bit of being a jerk to come out on the other side of the cultural stairways.  

So I will keep on living here.  Even if it requires further shoving and pushing.   After all, you either going down the stairs being a jerk, or going up the stairs getting hit by a jerk.  And every jerk that goes down the stairs (including myself), eventually all have to come back up the stairs and get jerked.  I'll get mine back soon too.  

If you can't handle the adaptation process.....don't take the stairs.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote Or Pie!

As a recently, made citizen of this country, tomorrow will be my first time voting.  And what a time to vote indeed.

I don't spend too much time discussing politics because in this day and age, you either on side "A" or side "B".  All those who claim to be "Undecided" are idiots.  Sorry.  But true.  I know neither of the candidates is perfect.  That's like asking you who your favorite kid is.  You know they both behave badly and both love you.  But you just can't say one is absolutely perfect.  In a way, we are all Baldwins.

So, since neither of the candidates is perfect, you have to choose one.  If you go into a restaurant and you are hungry and they tell you "Cake or Pie" you don't sit for eleven months deciding.  You choose one.  Even if you hate cake and not really into pie.  You either order one or get the heck out of the store (in this case, the U.S.).   You see, those who are undecided end up being the ones that bitch the most later.  "See, I told you he was not perfect!" they would say no matter what candidate wins and fucks something up.  The undecided voters are the whiney little friend who used to say "I told you so" when you got rejected by the hot girl in class.  "I told you she would say No.  You should have not even asked".  Fuck that theory.  You don't do things because you think they will end badly which is exactly why these whiney "undeciders" are not voting.  Why? Cause when shit hits the fan they want the pride to say "I told you so".

You know what? Life ain't perfect.  You can get married, have three kids and a 30 year marriage and your husband can wake up one morning and not love you anymore.  That does not mean you should not fall in love, get married and have children.  

You can go to work for the same company for eighteen years and be loyal and turn down better offers at other companies because you pride yourself in what you do and who you work for and one day, your company will lay you off so they can save a few bucks.  That's life.  That does not mean you don't put effort into your work.

So, with that, I am calling out my dad.  My dad has been one of the whiney "Undecided".  I know it is wrong to sit here and talk smack about my dad.  He is entitled to his own choices.  But this is better then him.  This is exactly WHY I am calling him out.  Because he is NOT a little "I told you so" kind of guy.  He is my hero.  So why is he settling for being 24 hours away from voting day and still not know who to vote for?

I can understand not making a choice on which American Idol you want.  Although the David Cook and David Archuleta seemed to be just as much as a tied selection as the presidential candidates are.

So I am calling out my dad.  This is 2000-effin'-eight.  The decision we make tomorrow will effect 1) my dads retirement which he will likely do in the next four years.  2) my wifes loan for education since she will graduate from school in the next four years and need to start paying back her loan 3) his grandkids education since in the next four years those kids will still be in school and 4) the possibility that maybe, just maybe, I may start a family as well.  

Why is all that important? because whoever we put in office, can either make life much better for those dealing with those 4 things, or really difficult. 

I can understand why my father is having a hard time.  Yout two choices are an old bitter man with an idiot running mate or a young, inexperienced man with a running mate who I only seen speak about three times in the past 6 months.  

But, here is the deal:  Dad, you get to be a part of history.  Not just the fact that you can choose the first African American president, or the first female Vice-President.  That is, at the end of the day irrelevant.  Nobody should choose a candidate based on that choice alone.  The history you are taking part of is ours.  4 years from now you can look back and say, "The choice I made, put my son, grandkids, my daughter-in-law and my retirement where it is today".   Isn't it better to take pride four years from now knowing that you were taking part of shaping all those outcomes? as compared to not doing anything now and kicking yourself later saynig "I could have done something about it"?  Sure, things can also go wrong.  But you didn't have children, or move them to the U.S., or work in the same job for all these years because something "may" go wrong.  Its a risk.  Life is a risk.  But you take risks to see what you are capable of.

I always have questions for my father.  I used to call him with questions about my car trouble.  I used to call him with questions about my sink problems.  I used to call him with questions about my having to many problems problem.

Now I just have one question:  Will you please go vote?  

Not sure who to vote for? flip a coin.  Draw a name from a hat.  Pin a tale on a donkey (no hint intended).  Do whatever it takes, but just do it.  Because you are my hero and I need my hero to be a part of something that can change my life and yours.  Vote blue or red or purple.  I don't care.  But just VOTE!

And to any other undecided voters, seriously:  Make up your mind already.  This isn't American Idol.  This is the presidency.  Yes, its serious, which is more the reason to hurry up and make up your mind.  You need to Rock The Vote, not Rush The Vote.  Don't rush your choice cause of the deadline.  But don't wait until you are in the booth to make up your mind either.  

Color, experience, religion...I am not saying people don't have reasons to not making a choice yet.  Even if I don't agree with them.  But to skip out on this is just psychotic.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

When The World Ends...

Tomorrow is Wednesday.  Unless you live abroad, in which case, it is already Wednesday, so you already read this post and can move on to other things like watching The Labyrinth to see if David Bowie was strung out during that movie.  

But for now, it is Tuesday, which makes tomorrow Wednesday.  Two things happen tomorrow.
The first: I fly to Los Angeles for a week for business. I guess it is pleasure too, since part of my business (atleast the skateboard painting part) I take pleasure in.

I am flying to go to some work meetings, and meet with some prospects who want to display my skateboard artwork at their coffee shop in Venice as well.

The second thing that happens tomorrow is that the Hadron Collider is being turned on.  For those of you who have been living under your girlfriends bed for the past month or so, let me explain quickly what the Hedron Collider is:

"The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest particle accelerator complex, intended to collide opposing beams of 7 TeV protons. Its main purpose is to explore the validity and limitations of the Standard Model, the current theoretical picture for particle physics. The LHC was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and lies under the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland.
The LHC is the world's largest and the highest-energy particle accelerator.[1] It is funded and built in collaboration with over eight thousand physicists from over eighty-five countries as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories.
When activated, it is theorized that the collider will produce the elusive Higgs boson, the observation of which could confirm the predictions and missing links in the Standard Model of physics and could explain how other elementary particles acquire properties such as mass.
Although a few individuals have questioned the safety of the planned experiments in the media and through the courts,[6] the consensus in the scientific community is that there is no basis for any conceivable threat from the LHC particle collisions." (VIA Wikipedia)

So basically some scientist want to perform the BIG BANG and a bunch of hippies think the world will end tomorrow.

I do not think the world will end tomorrow.  It better not.  Mostly because my company has not reimbursed me yet for my flight to LA.  If it does end, I shall sue them on Thursday for loss of compensation.  Bastards.

But, while the end of the world is a fun subject to speak about, it is not what this post is about.
Yesterday, the big planet that is called my HEAD has suffered thru its own meteor wipe out.  I decided to shave my head.  

I shave my head every once in a while.  Usually to indicate to myself that a part of my life needs a new start.  Not sure why the thought of starting fresh somewhere and shaving my head are connected.   Perhaps I watched The Matrix too much.  

But, part of my life does need a clean start.  While I am happy with almost everything in my life currently, like my marriage which is by far the best relationship I ever had with someone who is not just my best friend but a hot woman at that.   My art is doing exceptionally well for what I think its worth.  My family is healthy and everyone is good.  

But I do have a few things I need a really fresh start with and for those things alone, I shaved my head because if my head is clean....then it is a reminder that I need to start clean.

Sounds silly as hell. I know.  The theory alone sucks.  But, I am no CERN scientist so, lock it up.

The reasons I shaved my head are not for this post either.  What this post is really about is my head.  After shaving it yesterday, I noticed I am one step closer to being the old man I dread being.  

After shaving my head, I noticed I am the official owner of new property on my head that can no longer grow trees.   I officially started my receding hairlines.  It is not much.  It is not like I lost a lot, but I can definitely notice more of my forehead on the top right and left corner then say, when I shaved my head a couple of years ago.

I don't know what to feel about it besides regret of shaving my head.  If I didn't shave it, I wouldn't have noticed how obvious my big forehead is and would not feel like its the end of MY world.  

I know I am getting old.  I know that with age comes the white hair, the wrinkles, the baldness (sometimes) and eventually bitterness and diapers.  But I didn't expect to have to embrace it so early.  Not to mention, it scares the crap that I have no idea what my body is like on the inside.  For the most part, I think I am healthy.  Sure, I drink way too much juice instead of water.  I don't eat enough fruits and vegetables and I can sure use a work out.  Atleast I listened to that doctor theory that drinking lots of wine helps you live longer.  I have taken that advice without thinking twice.

So today I sit and think about tomorrow.  Not because the world may end.  It wont.  But because tomorrow, I will not be as young as I am today and perhaps I need to start paying closer attention to my health.  This realization is good.  It will force me to start taking better care of myself.  This may not be a health scare like a stroke or heart attack (although I will be honest, seeing a receding hairline nearly caused one), seeing how I am aging will help want to take better steps to make sure I get older healthier. 

Too bad I didn't still have hair.  Otherwise, this new start I need to make about my health would have forced me to shave my head to remind me to keep doing it.  I guess all I have to do to remind myself to try and not get too old too fast is just look in the mirror at my big Reese Witherspoon forehead.

Atleast it's not the end of the world. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mid-Life Fashion Crisis

It's September in NYC which means two things:
1) The drunktards who watch their football games will be out on the weekends howling in the night as their team wins.  OR: Will start fights in the streets when their teams lose. and..
2) Its Fashion Week.

Fashion Week happens a couple of times a year here in NYC.  It is a big deal for anyone who enjoys fashion and/or celebrity.  They main tent is built in Bryant Park (across the street from my work) and is then injected with teenage girls who look like Mary-Kate Olsen's little pet project, a group of people with 18 neck badges that read "FULL ACCESS" on them, and a handful of gay personal assistants.  All walking around in front of Bryant Park.  

I personally don't mind it.  It is fun to watch people and even more so when you get to watch people who dress up at 9:00 a.m.

My wife loves fashion week because she IS a fashion student.  To her, Marc Jacobs is what Slash from Guns and Roses is to me.  So I can understand her excitement.

When Fashion Week rolls around, it always makes me look at how I dress.  My "style" or better yet, "fashion sense" has evolved since I was in high school.

I went first through the Hip-Hop stage, where I wore my dads pants because they were as big as a bedsheet on me.  I wore Cross Colors shirts and Fresh Jive.  I wore the overalls with the grafitti on the pant leg and had one overall buckle open.  I wore the baseball cap with the price tag still attached.  I was trying to be like Marky Mark, but ended up looking more like a white Boys II Men, who if you look back now, looked dorky as hell back in the 90's.

Shortly after high school, I got into the whole "Life is a beach" thing.  Listened to a lot of Sublime and wore flip flops and hawaiian shirts (yes I know, my wife would have never looked at me if she met me then).   I bleached my hair and wore orange sun glasses.  I would kick my own ass if I saw myself now.

Then I went on to the whole "I am too cool to look like anyone so I go to the thrift shop and wear cool shit nobody else wants to wear" phase.  This was in my early 20's.  I would wear things like bubble vests with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle thrift shirts (before they became cool and started selling at Urban Outfitters).  I wore plaid pants and hush puppies.  I wore knit skull caps with patterns on them.  I even put leopard print on my hair for about 6 months.  Why? cause nobody else thought of doing it, so I tried it.  It was a terrible idea.  I basically looked like the 70's threw up on me.  And I thought I was cool as hell.  I was so different, but it wasn't cool.  It was creepy.  

Later I got into the skating phase.  While I was into skating for a while, I didn't dress the part.  So, I finally tried it out.  It lasted about 3 weeks when I realized I looked like a 16 year old boy.  Most of my skater buddies pulled off outfits.  Me on the other hand, I looked like I shopped at Wal-Mart for my "I SK8, there for I H8" shirt.  So I stopped.

Then I just went into the whole "Luke Perry- 90210" look around 2002 where I just wore white t-shirts and jeans....ALL THE TIME!  I had like 30 white shirts and that is all I wore.  Why?  Because you can't go out un-matching that way.  

When I met my wife my fashion style kind of gave up.  From 2003 to about when I met her, I kind of gave up and put on whatever was clean in my closet.  Didn't care if it matched, if it looked funny, or if it made sense.  If it was clean, it was going on.  My jeans were still on the baggy side.   My shirts had holes in them and said things like "Ninja' Please".   I wore army hats and bracellets and didn't really give a shit anymore.  I wasn't looking to get laid.  I wasn't looking to impress girls with the way I dress.  I just wanted to skate, surf, and watch Tarintino movies all day long.  

When my wife met me she threw me into her "Transformer" machine and now I dress pretty nicely.  She made me get rid of the baggy jeans and replace them with fitting jeans.  She made me get rid of my "Idaho, no! You-da-ho!" shirts and replaced them with clothes from H&M and Zara.  My ghetto sneakers were replaced by nice, solid black shoes.  My hat collection shrunk dramatically.  I started wearing suit vests over t-shirts.  Started wearing beige slacks when I went out with friends.  Started wearing button ups to dinners.  I became a normal, good looking guy (according to her, not myself).  

I dig it.  I like the way she helped me pick clothes that do make me look my age.  I used to dress like I was still 19, but now, I have embraced the "I will soon have white hairs so I must wear clothes that are not from the mall" anymore.

My most recent purchase is a bit scarry.  When Sexy Swedish Wife and I were shopping in Paris, she went ahead and made a bold move and bought me a leather jacket.  Until that moment, I always thought that the people who pull off leather jackets are people like Brad Pitt when he sits on a motorcycle, or the guy who plays the man-whore on Grey's Anatomy.  I, did not think that I can pull it off.  Leather jackets are either really dorky on someone, or really cool.  Cool guys pull it off and nobody questions them.  The dorks, well, they look like iditos.  You know the ones.  The guy who sits at the dive bar who has a beer belly and is 37 with no hair and talks about this "broad I nailed lastnight back in the alley of the 99 cent store".  

But my wife had confidence that I would pull it off.  The first few days I had it, we were still in Paris, so I wore it and felt ok because 1) every European man wears a leather jacket and 2) I was not nervous because I didn't know anyone.   But since landing in NYC a few weeks ago, it has been too hot to try it out and with the temperature slowly dropping, I know the day will soon come where I will have to try my new leather jacket on outside in New York City.

My wife defends her decision and says I look very handsome.  Which is sweet.  I do trust her because she is a fashion student and well, she worked so hard for 3 years to get rid of all that made me look dorky, that I don't think she would throw it all away by buying me a jacket that takes me 20 steps back.  But, I am nervous.  

I am almost 30, and this is the closest I am to having a mid-life crisis purchase.  Most, go out and buy a motorcycle.  Sure,  I was not the one who bought the jacket, but I am nervous that if I put it on, I will like it and therefor, use it to fill in my mid-life crisis void.  The jacket is the new "white shirt and jeans".  I don't want to over do it and be the guy who ALWAYS wears the jacket.   

So, I will swim lightly.  I will take baby steps into the world of "guys who can pull of leather jackets" and hope I don't fall into the "nope, not cool enough to pull it off" hole. 

Let's hope my wife knows what she is doing.  ;)

P.S.  What did ever happen to Andrew Dice Clay? (pictured above).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The 65th Jewish Holiday of 2008!

Jews have a lot of holidays.  I think we have about 865 holidays each year.  Atleast that is what it feels like.  There is a holiday for when we were slaves in Egypt.  A holiday for when we left Egypt. A holiday for when we ate in the desert while running from Egypt.  A holiday for when we stopped at the gas station to use the bathroom and buy smokes on the way out of Egypt.  Even a holiday when we realized we were back in Egypt because we been walking in a fuckin' circle for the first 39 years.  

All holidays seem to be revolving around the same concept:  How the Jews suffered.  
A Holiday to celebrate how we were inslaved.  A holiday to celebrate how we were at war.   A holiday to celebrate how Mel Brooks didn't get that Oscar he so rightfully deserved.  

We sure suffered a lot it seems.  Atleast that is what they tell us when we are kids.  I still don't know what half the holidays we celebrate are for.  You have "Sukkot", where you build a homeless shelter in your backyard and decorate it with things to celebrate the Jews as they walked in the desert.   I did not realize the Jews back in the day had a Michael's Arts and Craft stores in the desert to buy shit to decorate with.  
Another holiday is "Purim" which is basically the ghetto version of Halloween.  It is celebrating when the Jews were saved from extermination in Persia.  One of the things you should do when celebrating is drink A LOT!  "They tried to kill us, so lets drink to that!"

As I said, I don't get half the holidays, but I do know I have to be at my parents house for the holidays.  When I lived in Los Angeles, I used to drive out to the folks for almost every holiday.  But now as Fine Ass Swedish Wifey and I live in New York (which has more Jews then Los Angeles and the entertainment industry combined), it has become a lot harder to make it to the holidays. 

And so, my mother is a Jew who is suffering, because her son can not make it to Rosh Hashanah this year.  I guess since all the other holidays are about Jews suffering, perhaps we can start a new holiday in the name of my mother. :)

But in all seriousness, I feel guilty.  I do.  But fact is, that with us living in New York, and flights being so expensive, it is very difficult to make it out to LA for a weekend to celebrate.  I know that Rosh Hashanah is one of the BIG/MAJOR holidays (in comparison to the other 820 much less significant holidays), but still.

So today I feel guilt.  Which I guess is something they have a holiday for as well (see Yom Kippur).   

Anyway, sorry mom.  Perhaps her and my father should come celebrate Rosh Hashanah in New York.   After all, this is much more realistic to the story.  NYC has a crap load of Jews who are walking...much like the desert.  So if anything, this is a great place to celebrate!

As guilty as I feel, atleast I am not a Scientologist. Because making a trip out to space for the holidays will be much more expensive. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

9021-" about No!"

Another new "You wish you were as rich as them but know that they live pathetic lives" tv show started yesterday with the new 90210.

Much like Gossip Girl, this is just another show to make your teenage sister wish she was 92 pounds and pretentious.  

I didn't watch the new show.  I already been sucked into Gossip Girl by my wife and while I can not escape the torture of people squinting their eyes when they speak, or dressing up to school in clothes that last time I remember I was in high school, were actually against policy and you were forced to go home and change or forced to wear your gym shirt over it for the rest of the day.  Not to mention you were written up if you wore things like tank tops, hats, unbutton shirts, t-shirts with things like "Jesus loves beer too" and mini-skirts (no, I didn't wear one).

So my Sexy Swedish Wife was watching the new 90210 during my lunch break today (which took up space on my DVR and time away from my lunch.  I literally felt my food coming back up as I watched the first 30 minutes of this show).

I will not review the show as a whole because I didn't watch it as a whole.  I won't.  So if you look for a review, go to another blog that probably has kitties and glitter in the background.  

What I will talk about is dishonesty.  You see, this show (much like Gossip Girl), sends the wrong message to young kids.   For one, the whole cast is thin.  Last time I checked, America is one of the biggest countries (in overweight problems), not to mention teenage kids are not only suffering from being overweight, but many, are also suffering from bulimia.    Mostly because of  TV shows and magazine ads.   

So I thought it was funny to look on the TV during my lunch and see that the whole cast are skinny as hell (in a country who suffers from the highest prevalence of overweight, which in a recent study found the prevalence of overweight in the United States was 12.6 percent in 13 year old boys, 10.8 percent in 13 year old girls, 13.9 percent in 15 year old boys, and 15.1 percent in 15 year old girls.)

Sad, but obesity among teenagers is a huge problem in the US.  As is Bulimia. Research shows that more than 90 percent of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25 (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 2003).  About 5 million Americans suffer from some type of eating disorder, such as Anorexia, Bulimia or Bine Eating. About 95 percent of sufferers are female, and teenagers are especially vulnerable due to stress, relationship problems, biological predispositions and emotional disturbances.

But lets talk about the show.  

First off, these actors are supposed to play 16 year olds, but judging from these photos and the show, they all look almost 30.  Not even believable.  

Secondly, for the 30 minutes I did watch it, I noticed the token black guy they put in there.  Really?  You couldn't do with more then one African-American dude?  And worst part is, HE IS ADOPTED!  Seriously?  You couldn't place a rich, successful, African-American family in Beverly Hills?  Instead the one black guy in Beverly Hills has to be the same rank as a Madonna baby?  Really?

Lastly, they are all beautiful.  I know that shows probably don't become successful if they don't have an attractive cast (if you exclude Everybody Loves Ramon, half the cast of Friends, The Sopranos, Seinfeld, and the Simpsons. :)
So, those who watch this 90210 go "Wow, these kids look like an Abercorombie & Fitch ad". Problem is, kids at Beverly Hills High School don't look like that.  In fact, here are some photos from the Beverly Hills High School website.  Wow, they really nailed it:

The Cast of the show:  

The actual students at  BHHS:

Call me an asshole.  I am not ragging on the real students.  I am just saying that the show could have got more "normal" looking kids.  Oh sure, they have the abnormally large Indian guy or whatever he is, but come on, kids at BHHS do NOT look like this:
That's all I will say.  I give this show one season before it is replaced with a new show about High School kids in Miami.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Love Thy Neighbor (Unless He Is An Idiot)

Everyone hates their neighbor.  Everyone.  Or atleast one of their neighbors (or one they used to have).   

Doesn't matter if you live in the U.S., in Germany or in a hut in a village in Africa, EVERYONE has a neighbor they can't stand.

I have had a long string of crappy neighbors.  Back in 2001 I lived with 3 other buddies in a giant house in Woodland Hills in Los Angeles, CA.  Our neighbor was Paul Waaktaar-Savoy  who was the Guitarist of A-HA.  For those of you who are my wife's age (born in the 80's so not old enough to enjoy the 80's) and have no idea what A-HA is, just look up the words "Take On Me" on youtube.   

Problem is, Pauly (while the coolest guy on the block) loved to play his guitar at like 3 in the morning on a Wednesday.  Sometimes, my roomates and I didn't mind.  Heck, the guy showed up to our party once and I think he took some exstacy.  He didn't live in this house all the time.  I think it was a place for him for when he came to LA to probably record an album.  But when he was there, the music would be on ALL the time. 

A few years later, I moved to a building where the neighbor had a kid who loved knocking on my door and when I would open it up and ask the little 5 year old what the heck he wants, he would laugh and run off.  So finally one day, I opened the door with a Gurilla mask I had from Halloween and scared the shit out of him.  He never came back.  He probably never went to a zoo again either.

Few years after that, Sexy Swedish Wife and I lived in Santa Monica in California.  We had an Irish 55 year old man living across from our bedroom window.  This Irish guy had three things that drove us nuts.   1)  He loved drinking and then following it up with grabbing his guitar (at 2 or 3 in the morning) and singing Irish songs.  I could only make a few of the words out.  Not because of the accent, but because the guy was so drunk he sounded like a screaming baby cow being crushed under a semi-truck.  2) The second thing this guy loved doing is talking REALLY loud.   
I come from a family of loud talkers, so I can tolerate it.  But when you are drunk, the loud talking becomes a bit annoying.  So at 4:00 a.m. on a Thursday, you can hear this guy (who lived with his 20 year old son) talking politics, theories and guitar songs really loud.  I once went to tell them to shut the fuck up.  They told me to "Fuck Off" with the thick Irish way, and I did.  I called the cops and they were slapped with a ticket when the really drunk 20 year old son thought it would be a good idea to tell the officers to "Fuck-Off as well".  idiot.

The third and final thing that annoyed us about our Irish neighbor was that he was a 55 year old man who loved having fetish sex with large black women.  I am all for sex.  I am all for fun sex.  Whatever floats your all means, have fun.  Just be safe.  But this guy used to love to put the whole leather mask on while putting a gag ball in the womans mouth and smacking her with a whip.  It was gross.  It felt like they were recreating scenes from Pulp Fiction.  
Problem was that we could see and hear them.   We obviously didn't want to try and see, so we shut the windows and blinds.  But, both he and his (endless amount) of lovers, would scream like they were being tortured in Abu Gharib.  You could actually hear the smacking sound of the whip hitting her ass cheeks.  It was gross.

Now, I don't care that he was Irish.  I don't care if he enjoyed drinking.  I don't care if he enjoyed yelling at his son because he couldn't figure out how to play "The Unicorn" correctly on the acoustic guitar.  But, I have to draw the line at screaming during fetish-theme sexual acts after midnight on a weekday.   I can lose sleep over trucks picking up trash, I can lose sleep over a dog down the street barking.  I refuse to lose sleep over a woman screaming "Hit me harder!" to a man who can't reply because the zipper on his leather mask is closed.

Moving on.  One year later and now Wife and I are in NYC.  The apartment in NYC is by far the apartment that has the most neighbors.  I have a neighbor from each side as well as top and bottom.  Someone to our left, someone to our right, someone behind us, above us and below us.  Ofcourse, there is one side that has windows, but that faces the street which has traffic, honking cabs, screaming homless people, singing drunks, and firetruck sirens every 14 minutes. 

I have no problem with any of the neighbors except one.  The guy above.  I have a problem with him because he is an idiot.  

A little back story.  Swedish Sexy Wife and I came home one night a few months ago after a night out on the town drinking.  When we arrived at home at 2:30 in the morning, we found our couch in the living room soaking wet.  Why?  Because water was dripping from my ceiling.  I called the "Super" and told him.  He mentions to me that there are no pipes above me so it can't be a busted pipe. He did say to go check on the neighbor above.  I go bang on the neighbors door and after 10 minutes he answers.  I tell him water is leaking on my sofa.  The guy responds "Well, it ain't me" and then shuts the door.

12 hours later, my super finds out it WAS the fault of the guy above. Idiot installed his Air Conditioner himself and forgot that little part in the instructions that says that you should tilt the A/C outwards from your window, otherwise, your floor will fill up with water.  Which it did.  Filled with water, went thru the cracks in his wooden old floor, and down thru my cheap ceiling and onto my new IKEA couch.  
When I went back up the next night to tell the guy, all he could say is "Sorry dude" and shut the door.  He didn't bother to even offer for dry cleaning of the couch covers.

Few weeks pass and I wake up in bed at 4:00 in the morning.  For some reason, its raining in my bedroom.  I turn the light on and same story as the living room, my ceiling in my bedroom is leaking.  Same routine, I call the super, he tells me to go check on the guy upstairs.  This time I am furious.  I slam on the neighbors door. He opens it up and after telling him what the fuck is going on, he comes back and says "oh yeah dude.  My bathtub flooded.  Sorry." and shuts the door.  You MORON!  How the hell do you flood a bathtub at four in the morning?

I later found out from the Super that this guy has done this like 6 times in the past few years.  He apparently falls asleep or something while his water is running and then it floods his floors.  The super said the last guy in our apartment moved out because he was sick and tired of his stuff getting ruined.  I notified building management but they (being an NYC building management company) basically in a polite way gave me the "We don't really give a s***" speech.

Which leads us to this morning.  This same neighbor is a heavy walker.  I mean, this guy walks around like he is carrying gold bricks and Oprah Winfery in a backpack or something.  Me, I am a light sleeper.  I wake up from the crazy people yelling.  I wake up from the sirens.  I wake up from the cab honks at 7:45 in the morning.  I also wake up when my neighbor decides to stomp around at 5:00 a.m. and move furniture.  This is not the first time this happened.  This guy loves moving furniture around at the early hours.  He has done this a few times within the 8 months we have been living here.  Lastnight was very difficult.  He was dragging God knows what from the living room into the bedroom at 5:25 in the morning.  It sounded like as if he woke up at 5:00 and said to himself "you know what?  if I move my TV and sofa into my bedroom.  And move my bed and dresser into my living room, I will have a much bigger bedroom.  I should try this out! Like, now!"

It really sounded like he was moving his whole house from one side to the other.  Nevermind the fact that we just wrapped up Labor Day weekend where this guy had three days to move shit around.  No! He would rather wait until Tuesday's early morning to shift his furniture around.  

Long story short, I have been up since 5:25 a.m.  I am tired and cranky.  I have had 2 cups of coffee and its only 10:30.  I am about to go get another one after I post this.

I will probably go say something to the guy later this evening but it seems pointless since he will probably just open the door, say "sorry dude" and then shut it.  Then he will probably go flood his bathtub while passing out.  

Just wished he could pass out in the tub while he's flooding it.  

I am so tired.  I am done now.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

When In Rome...

I was born in Israel, which is like Americas step-sister or something.   America always defends Israel.  When Iran or Jordan or any of the other bullies at school pick on Israel, America comes and says "What the f*** you doing?"

It's like walking up and punching the hot chick at the bar when there is a big, biker sitting next to her.  

I am not sure why countries pick on Israel.  I know its the whole "You took Jerusalem, now give it back!" thing.  Then again, we are Jews.  If you drop a ten dollar on the street, I am not going to run up and tell you.  You dropped it.  It now belongs to the free world.  I shall take it and buy myself a kosher hot dog with it.  Same thing with Israel.  Jerusalem was something we Jews took and said "We ain't giving it back ya know!  It's ours.  See?  We put our name on it with a sharpie so that means its ours! what?  where did we get it? uh.....we got it as a gift for Hanukkah back in 15 A.D....oh wait, we don't believe in Jesus.....uh.....15 After Moses. Yeh! We got Jerusalem as a gift for Hanukkah at 15 A.M."

But countries still pick on Israel.  Which in the human world, we all know the saying "Hey! Why don't you pick on someone your own size?"  Problem is, if wars were playing by that rule, the only places who would challenge Israel to a fight would be Jamaica and New Jersey.   But nobody follows rules in War.  That is why we have rules to prevent us from going into war. 

This leads to the airport in Rome.  As mentioned in previous posts, the Sexy Swedish Wife and I have been traveling Sweden, Denmark and Paris.   After seeing Sweden, Copenhagen and basically conquering France, we were getting ready to go home.  We were flying to JFK via connection in Rome.  

A quick back story:  I have been a permanent resident in the U.S. for like 105 years.  I moved to the U.S. when I was ten years old and never bothered to get my citizenship until last year.  Never really seen a need for it.  I live here, I pay taxes, what's the point of being a citizen over being a resident?  When I finally got my citizenship, when I was being sworn in, I remember they said to us "Now, as a citizen of the United States of America, you can enjoy the benefits of VOTING" (uh, yeh, unless Bush is running and then it doesn't matter/count) "You will also have the benefit of serving as a member of the courts" (which is basically a nice way of saying Jury Duty.  Also, really not selling this whole citizenship thing yet) "And finally, as a citizen, you can serve in the armed forces in protecting this beautiful country" (uh...yeah.  I came from Israel.  They force you to join the army at age 18.  I didn't move 5400 miles to join somebody elses army).  But I finally got my citizenship last year.  Since then, I got married in Vegas, drove a UHAUL with my new wife and two chiuahuahs across the country from LA to NYC, and moved into a new city.  So, I never bothered with the U.S. Passport.

Finally, about a month before I left to Sweden, I called the 5th graders who work at the USCIS office.  The people at the government offices are not very well trained.  If you call them with the same question 3 times, you will get 3 different answers.  I don't even think they train them.  They just give them a phone and tell them to make shit up as they answer the calls.
So I called the 800 number before I left and asked "I am traveling and I have dual citizenship.  I am a citizen of the U.S. and Israel.  I have an Israeli passport but no VISA.   Instead, I had to turn in my VISA when I was sworn in, and instead got this paper that says I am a citizen.  Will I have trouble traveling?"

Now I know everyone and their mother knows the answer to that.  Yes! I will.   Because honestly, unless you have 1) a valid U.S. passport or 2) a VISA, most countries will give you hell.  But, since I have the piece of paper and a dual citizenship, I called and asked.
The nice lady on the other end said, "you can use the paper you got when you were sworn in.  The number on that paper is the same number they will put on your U.S. passport, so at immigration, they can punch that number in and see you are a citizen".

Great!  Swedish Bread and I come!

Back to Rome now.  We woke up in Paris at 4:00 a.m.  I do not work well at 4:00 a.m.  Unless my wife is having a baby, I do not want to see the number 4 or the letters "A.M." on a clock in my lifetime.   We took a flight thru Rome and we were in line to board our plane on Alitallia back to New York "Is My Bed There" Fucking City!

"Uh, hold on Sir"  The security person at boarding tells me while looking at my Israeli passport.
Yeh, yeh.  I get it.  Middle Eastern man, getting on a flight to New York, without proper paper work....I get it.   I am the exact type of person they teach you all to keep an eye out for.  But seriously...
"I am a citizen"  I tell her.
I pull out my little paper that has my little middle eastern grin photo glued on it that says THIS GUY IS AN AMERICAN!
The lady looks at it and calls the big, security guy over and says something to him in Italian.

I wait.  

Long story a bit less long, 15 minutes later, wife and I are still not on the plane.  Instead I am arguing with the head of security who insists that I can not get on the plane to go to New York.
I tell him about the number on the paper, and how if you punch it into a system, it will show I am American...

"Uh, Sir" he tells me "I am not sure what you mean.  This is Rome. Maybe, back in New York they have a computer they can put this number in and see you are American.  But we do not have these computers here.  We have 1986 Macintosh and a bubble jet printer.  Thats it!"

Oh crap.

Meanwhile the pilot comes out to us and asks "What is holding up the plane?"
They explain to him that they are trying to get a hold of the USCIS morons to verify I can enter the U.S.

How the hell does that phone conversation go?
"USCIS office, this is agent 9291.  How may I help you?"
"Alo? uh, this is head of airport security in Rome.  I have a middle eastern guy here without proper papers trying to get on plane to New York.  Can I let him on plane?"

I knew this will be a while.

While the baldheaded, Sean Claude Van Damn looking guy who is head of security (who has 4 phones, 2 guns, a pepper spray and a ring the size of my eyeball) is on the phone trying to get USICS to talk to him, the Alitallia manager looks at me and goes:

"Sir, what will you be doing? Your flight needs to leave.  Shall we take the luggage off the plane?"

I asked her "If my wife stays here with me until this sorts out.  Can we both get on the same flight home?"

She looks at me without pitty and says "Yes.  But you are paying for those flights sir.  This is not an Alitallia fault, so both tickets will need to be paid by you!"

Oh crap.  I looked at wifey, who at this point is crying like she just saw the ending of The Notebook, and I tell her "Babe, get on that flight.  Its better I only pay for one flight instead of two"  She refuses and I tell her that she must.

I can understand my wife not wanting to separate.  There are two reasons.  The first is that out of all the times we flew to Sweden and back, we always travelled separately.  My work  gives me a couple of weeks off while she stays usually for about a month or a month and a half.  This was going to be our time to finally travel back together.  The second reason she probably didn't want to separate is due to my bad humor.  You see, I have for the past 10 years, have had a weird dream/feeling that I die before the age 30.  Not sure why.  Call it a strange re-accuring dream.  I mentioned this once to my wife and she always tells me its silly.  Yes, it is. But not when you are in Rome, at age 29, getting on two different planes.  Suddenly, suspicion and worry settles in and she suddenly thinks "It's Gods will" and he wants to spare her while I take the next plane into heaven.  I have to be honest, for a few moments, I thought the same thing.  Silly, but true.

They finally wisk her on the plane (while she is sobbing).   I stand there looking at the Van Damn security guy with a "hurry the fuck up" look.  Here is the problem:  It is Saturday.  Its Rome.  USCIS offices are open Monday thru Friday.  Getting someone on a phone from USCIS is like trying to get me on a phone at 4:00 a.m.  It just ain't happening.

He finally gets a hold of Billy in Honolulu.  After about 20 minutes of broken English, the security guy hangs up his 1999 blackberry and puts it on the table, folds his arms and stands silently.  

"What's going on? What did Honolulu say?"  I ask.
"We wait!" he replies.
"Wait for what? Jesus? Delivery? For you to come back from break? What exactly the hell does WE WAIT mean?"
"It means, we wait!  Honolulu is checking some things.  My battery is low.  So, they call back!"
He calmly explained. 
"Uh....battery low?  How low? Like, will it die on you while you answer the phone?  I mean, what does low mean?"
"Relax sir.  This will all work out."  He tells me.
"Oh gee.  Thanks Mr.  Van Damn.   Glad you are so confident.  Last time I checked, my plane left with MY WIFE ON IT!"

His phone rings.

"Hello?" he goes to the person on the phone from Honolulu.  "Ah ha.  Ah ha.  Yes. Yes.  Ok.  Yes. No.  No.  Yes.  uh...let me check.....Sir, you still live in the U.S. right?" he says looking at me.

"Not unless you need a new fucking roomate here in Rome" I replied.

He goes back to the call "Yes.  Yes.  ah ha...ok....sure.  sure.   yes"

What the hell is going on?  Is this his wife on the other line asking him if he can pick up some eggs and milk on the way home tonight.  What is with the Yes, Yes, sure, sure, for the last 5 minutes?

The guy finally hangs up the phone, looks at me and I shit you not, in HEBREW (my native language) says to me "Everything is fine.  Have a safe trip home and shabat shalom!"

You muther-***ker!  You were Israeli this whole effin time?  The head of security? the effin Bloodsport guy?  You were Israeli?  You been looking at my Israeli passport for the last 30 minutes.  You couldn't just tell these Alitallia people I was your cousin or something?  

Fast forward another 30 minutes and he tells me that he, and all of the other security guys are all ex-Israeli ops who get paid very well to live in Rome and do security in airports.  I guess in a way, Israel is the big brother, not the U.S.  Protecting its country from jackasses like me who travel without proper paperwork.

So Alitallia books me on the next flight to New York.  3 hours after my original plane left with my wife on it, I got booked on a flight to Newark, NJ.  Meanwhile, my wife is in the air and for all she knows, I am in Rome indefinitely.   

I sit in the waiting area cooling down.  What a nightmare.  They suddenly page me.  I walk up to the booth and  its the Alitallia manager is there again.  She has good news, which she says that Alitallia has sympathy for the fact that I had to let my wife get on a plane without me, so she will not charge me for the re-booking.  Gee, thanks.  That is sweet.

Oh yeah.  "We got bad news too.  Its your luggage.  We lost it." She says to me.
"Lost it? How many bags did you lose exaclty?"
"All of them!" she replies.

Excuse me?  How do you exactly lose 3 luggage pieces that are the sizes of  three Samoan babies?

You see, they didn't forget the luggage in Paris. Or accidently took it off the plane my wife got on and then left it somewhere.  They actually said it never left Paris and that have no idea where it is.  The luggage could be in a hotel room in Paris drinking coffee and eating cheese at this point. 

But wait..this story gets better...

I land in Newark.  Un-luggaged.  I stand in line in immigration with confidence.  Why the confidence?  Because Mr. Sean Claud back in Rome said that Billy in Honolulu said he will put a "waiver" in the system so that when I arrive in New York, I can get out of immigration without issues.  Problem is, as I later found out, Honolulu Billy, only added the waiver to JFK.  Not Newark, which is where I was standing in line at.

I get to the front of the line.  I hand over my passport.  I tell them "There should be a waiver in there" and smile.

"I don't see anything sir.  You will need to go into the immigration holding and talk to them there"


I go into the immigration room where we have about 30 people who all looked like a table at the UN meeting.  You got the token Ethiopian, the token Indian, the token middle eastern....oh wait, thats me.  Basically, we looked like an office Diversity Group.

Meanwhile, I want to call Swedish Sext Wife to ask if she landed ok.  Problem is  you can not use a cell phone from the immigration holding room.  This place is like the place they interview crooks on Law & Order.  Mirror/one way windows.  Brick white walls.  Low lighting.  I felt like I was about to be accused of smuggling little asian children in my luggage....oh wait, they can't nail me for that cause they STILL HAVE NOT FOUND MY LUGGAGE!

They finally call my name up.  I get up there and they start ripping me a new one.  "Do you know you can not travel without a U.S. passport? Do you know you don't have a VISA on this Israeli passport? Do you know the fine for not flying with proper papers is $582?  Do you know I hate my job?"

Wait..."What?  $582?"
"Yes sir.  It is a $582 fine"
"Ok fine.  Here is my Discover card" I handed them my credit card with its 49% interest.
"Sorry sir.  Cash only"
Are you kidding? Who the heck carries $500 in cash on a flight from Rome?  What am I?  A Miami King Pin?  Nobody carries that kind of cash on a flight unless you are Puff Daddy!

"Sorry.  I don't have $500 in cash or in my bank account.  I just came back from Paris with my wife, who I have officially lost, because she got on a different plane and you won't let me call her.  I lost my luggage, and frankly, I am about to lose $500.  So just take my credit card!"

The lady (who was on her high horse because all people who work in immigration think they are Gods) says to me "Well, you need to call your parents or a friend to bring you $582 or I can put you on the next flight back to Rome"

"Uh, my folks live in Los Angeles.  It will be a few days before they get here.  Secondly, do you have any friends you can call right now who would give you $582?  Cause I want those friends, because my friends,  will think I am playing a joke and hang up on me like I am Andy Dick looking for work."

I continued to explain to the lady about how I called USCIS and how they told me it would be ok to enter with this shitty piece of paper that is apparently worth less then a laser disk player.

Suddenly a man in a tie shows up and asks to speak to the immigration lady.  He seems to be the Boss.  This whole place is like a mafia base.  Everyone behind counters with guns.  I feel like they are selling coke on weekends here.  They both step away shortly and then the lady returns.

"Sir.  I am going to do you a favor and assume you were misinformed.  I am going to let you go without the $582 fee.  But, make sure you get  a U.S. passport before you travel next time ok?"

Wow.  You went from being the wicked witch of the west to one of the Golden Girls really fast.  Did your boss just tell you to take all the passports out of your arse?

They let me go and I took the taxi home.  On the way home, Alitallia calls me to inform me they found my luggage and it should be on the next flight to JFK.  Probably arrive same day or the next.  Great.

4 Hours later, another call from Alitallia.  This time to tell me they sent the luggage on the wrong plane to some other place in Italy.  But they are working on it and I will have it later tomorrow.  Fine.

At 11 p.m. that night, another call.  This time, they got the luggage back to Rome.  Unfortunately, someone in Rome didn't know what they were doing there so he sent them back to the original departure which is Paris.  

I almost wanted to ask if atleast I am getting the milage points for all these places my luggage is traveling to.  I hope my suitcase is taking pictures because its officially traveling more then I am.  
I briefly asked the person on the phone "If you never get my luggage to me.  What do you compensate?"
"Oh sir.  We don't compensate any money for lost luggage.  But don't worry, it will there on Monday."

Thanks for the confidence.  You said my luggage will be here 3 phone calls ago.

Our luggage DID arrive on Monday.  More then 48 hours after we left Paris. 

That is it.  As a friend of mine said "Got to love a country that lets your wife, who is NOT a citizen, into the country while keeping you, who IS a citizen, locked out of it.  God bless our system!"

And God Bless America too.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Swedish Lampoons - European Vacation (PART 1 of 3)


I landed in Sweden after a long flight ready to enjoy my vacation.  I arrived at the In-Laws for coffee and bread.  It is amazing how much coffee and bread this country has.  It's like every 15 minutes "You want some coffee?  Some Bread & Cheese?".....after lunch: "Bread & Ham with some coffee?"....before dinner: "Coffee on your bread?"

Just coffee EVERYWHERE all the time.  You look at cows in Sweden and they all look like runway models.  Just empty of milk.  Damn Cheese and Coffee.   

So after some coffee and cheese (ofcourse) Sexy Swedish Wife and I left for the Summer House.  I love the summer house.  First, just the name itself "Summer House" just makes it sound relaxing.  
"What should we do after a crappy week at the office?  Oh yes, lets go to the Summer House. "
"I have a long holiday weekend, lets go have some coffee and cheese at the Summer House."
"Norway is attacking!  Lets go hide in the Summer House!"
It just sounds so splendid.  So relaxing.  And they call it Summer House year round.  Especially in Sweden, where Summer lasts for like four lousy days.  How can you name it after something that only exists over the course of a long weekend?  
But I love the fact that if its Christmas they just go "hey, we got some days off, lets go to the summer house."  Its fantastic.  It is known as the Summer House in the cold ass winter too.  Which really makes you think that the temperature will be warmer there.  
"It's minus zero here in Stockholm, lets all go to the Summer House.  I hear its fantastic there this time of year.  Sven, grab the mohitio mix and lounge chairs."
I love it.

So we go to the summer house and enjoyed some great few days there.  Went to the lake down the street which was full of German tourists.  Germans love 2 things: Lake getaways and moose.  Every lake you drive by you see cars with German license plates or german bumper stickers.  Which all are subtly next to a giant moose sticker.  Moose stickers on the car, on the backpacks, or the children while they swim in the lake.  Moose! Moose! Moose!  For a country that ruled an empire and led a World War, they all seem to be kinda of nerdy now a days.

The lake was nice and warm and the walks through the forest was calming.    Lots of trees in Sweden.  No wonder IKEA's are spreading like herpes at a porno convention.

After the summer house, the weather got a bit crappy (in Sweden? Shocker!).  Fine Ass Swedish Wife and I went to check out the church in which we will get married in.  I know what you must be thinking: "Why did it take so long to invent Taco shells with flat bottoms?".  Which is a weird thing to ask yourself while reading this.  But! You may also be asking "Are you not already married?  Why else would you refer to your wife as WIFE?"

Short version (because I still have to finish this blog plus 2 more about Denmark and Paris):
We got married in Vegas with a Hawaiian priest and a couple of close friends. We still want the big wedding with flowers, and the dress (for her, not me) and the family.  Her family in Sweden is way too big to bring to Vegas and plus, alcohol is cheaper there, so I will save a ton on doing a big wedding there.  We are looking into doing the big wedding after she finishes school or close to finishing around 2010.  Gives me time to save up, and gives time for the value of the dress she wants to go down.  :)  win win.

Anyway, we went to look at the church we want to wed at.  It is in a castle of the old King Vasa.  
Very f'd up family.  Two sons.  One locked the other away in a dungen, then when he got out, he locked the other brother in his room for 8 years and then became king when his brother died.  Totally twisted drama.   The church was beautiful and hey, it's in a castle.  Sure, the tour said the castle was used as a prison once and many deaths happened there, but hey, when has the church NOT been a weird place to be (for a Jew) anyway?  The Jew in me wanted to negotiate pricing "since people died here.  Can we get the church at a discount?....oh the church is free?  ok, well, can we get some gingerbread cookies thrown in for the guests for free then?"

Finally, on August 8th, the reason we came to Sweden this year has arrived.  The Wedding.  Not ours, if you were paying attention, ours is down the line.  It was her sisters wedding.  They wed at an old church as well (from the 1700s).  Creepy side note:  The church had a grave yard and while I was outside chatting with some people about wether or not Swedish Chef from the Muppets was actually speaking swedish or not, I noticed a grave stone with the exact first and lastname of my wife.  It was creepy.  She assured me that their lastname is very common in Sweden.  Like "Smith" in the U.S. or "Rchahychaydh" in Siberia.   So I guess its not THAT creepy.  

The wedding was beautiful.  I was asked to film the whole thing and then walk around and film people and take photos.  Problem is, I speak as much swedish as a monkey.  Asking people "is it ok to take a photo?" or "Can you say a few words to the bride in groom to the camera?" is really weird when everyone around you speaks another language.   After a while, I started getting the vibe that some of the guests were like "Why is the creepy American taking photos of my girlfriend?"  I just felt like someone was going to come and punch me.  I had to have the toast master announce that "this guy will be taking photos for the bride and groom".  Although when he said it in Swedish, everyone laughed.  I assume he said something like "The guy with the camera is an American who is a bit slow.  So let him snap a few photos, otherwise he goes crazy and cries."  I have no idea if he said anything to what I asked him to mention.

Swedish wedding was interesting.  The speeches (which I did not understand) and the games (which I did not understand) and the conversations with the drunk guest at the restroom (which I kind of understood, because he somehow suddenly spoke english when he was drunk).

Everything was perfect.

After the wedding, the next few days were very relaxing. Lots of thunderstorms and rain. Mostly, wife and I hung out with her parents.  Drinking coffee and eating bread.

Danish Lampoons - European Vacation (PART 2 of 3)

Part 2:  DENMARK

Our flight to Paris was going out of Copenhagen.  The In-Laws suggested we take a trip down to Copenhagen the night before and spend a day in Denmark.  Sight see and all that jazz.

To get to Denmark, one must drive for what seems like the length of the Sex and The City movie.  And, just as boring.  

Lot's of trees and trees and...wait, is that an old historic green church? nope.  Just two trees next to eachother.  To cross into Denmark you must take a really long bridge.  This bridge is the "black dude" of bridges (if you know what I mean).  It's long.

After 17 days of driving on this bridge, we arrived in Copenhagen.  Copenhagen is very different then Sweden when it comes to street names.  All the street names in Copenhagen look like what happens when you let your baby slam his hands on the keyboard with an email open.  You know, you get thing looking like this: "fredrikssudnmotorvejen" (this is actually a real street name in Copenhagen).  My guess is that nobody throws any damn house parties in that city.  Nobody wants to deal with writing the directions in the invite by email.
"Crap.  How was that street off the highway exit called?  Rosjkildevej?  Is it two "J"s?  A silent "K"?  Crap!  I still have 6 more turns to write on these directions.  This is going to take forever!"

I would love to drive a car with one of those speaking GPS systems in Copenhagen.  Just smoke some pot and sit in the car and laugh my ass off when the voice lady goes "in 0.3 kilometers, turn left on Klovermarkenjan.  Turn right on Valensbakenit".  The system will probably crash if I just take it into a 5 point intersection.  Me and Sexy Wife's dad actually stopped at a liquor store to ask for directions for the hotel.  Can you imagine trying to pronounce the names of these streets to someone?  It took us like 30 minutes just to get the guy to understand us.  
"Ohhh, you are looking for Osterbroggen.  I thought you said Osterbrokken!"
It is really frustrating.

I bet if someone did a study, they would find that tourists just vanish in Denmark every year.  Its like the European bermuda triangle.  They can't find the damn airport.  They just get lost in Denmark forever.

We arrived at the hotel.  Very small and cute.  In the heart of the city.  Well, maybe not the heart...perhaps the Spleen of the city.  Whatever.  We took a walk through the beautiful shopping district and checked out the castle of the King and Queen as well as some monuments and beautiful buildings that look like something out of a MTV Cribs in the 1500's.

The one thing that did bug me was the attitude.  Danish people are not very nice.  Very mean and kind of "I don't give a shit" attitude.  We got that everywhere.  I know I am American and that we are not very liked throughout Europe.  I knew that coming there.  But the Danish are just piss stubborn people.  Just rude.  Waiters, bartenders, clerks, employes at the supermarket, people at the hotel, people on the street, homeless people.  They are all just crude.  

I can understand.  After all they have 5.5 million people and the thing they are most famous for is LEGO.  Seriously.  We got 5 million people and the thing the whole world knows us for is little plastic blocks.    That's got to piss some people off.  That's like looking at Israel and saying "No, you won't be known for being the Holy Land.  No you won't be known as the place that has Jerusalem.  Instead, from all the wonderful things you have to offer to the world, you shall be famous across the universe as the country that spawned Hummus.  Oh, what a delicious delicacy it is indeed.  People around the world will say "Israel.  Land of the Hummus!"

Nobody wants to feel like in the thousands of years your country existed and with all the wars and inventions and great scholars they had, to be known at the end of the day as the place that is famous for LEGO. So I understand why everyone is so pissy.  They probably get a lot of tourists "Excuse me, where is the bus pick up for the LEGO tour?".  All the Danish (Danes?, I dunno what they go by) are probably all "Piss Off!"

The other place we went to check out was Christiania.  Also known as Freetown.  It is a residential area (about 85 acres) of about 850 residents who, within the areas limits are free to do drugs.  Basically, if you want to smoke pot or do ecstasy with your first date, this will be the place to go and do it because its legal there.  Problem is, the place looks like shit.  First, they do not allow photos in there.  Not that anyone would want it.  Nobody goes around taking photos of your cousin's ugly ass baby.  Nobody wants photo of that kid on their fridge. Well, its the same with this place.  It looks like an atomic bomb of "Ugly" got dropped there.  The buildings are torn up, the floors and roads are all dirt and covered in garbage.  And all the people hanging out there look like homeless crack heads.  There was tons of police and alot of high idiots talking shit.  It was neat to watch people rolling up joints in front of police officers but then again, if you have to hang out here, I would really not trust what's in that joint.  The place makes Gaza strip look like 5th Ave. 

So Denmark was interesting.  Short stay as I said.  Saw the city.  Ate some food.  Had some coffee and bread that the in-laws brought with them.  Good times over all.

And, ofcourse in the spirit of LEGO, I could not resist posting this:


Thursday, August 21, 2008

French Lampoons - European Vacation (PART 3 of 3)

Ahhh. Paris.  Famous for things like the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa and well, surrendering.

French are a peculiar breed.  The thing I noticed first about Paris is that there are no french people there.  Paris is just full of foreigners living there (very similar to Los Angeles).    

We arrived in Paris and had my mothers step-sister pick us up.  An Israeli French.  That has to be the oddest combination.  Part of you is from Israel.  A land that has suffered great battles and never lost. Never gave up and never gave up hope.  The other half, French.  Which basically gave up and surrendered.  But the couple who picked us up were adorable.  Beautiful people.  Heart of gold the size of Russia.  They have an apartment right smack in Paris which was nice for us since we had a lot to see in very little time.

I will give my review of Paris along with pictures:

The Eiffel Tower 

This thing is exactly how I thought it would be.  We took a boat tour our first night there and saw everything from the boat.  Including the Eiffel tower as it was lit up with lights like an LSD trip at a rave party.  The thing looks like a sparkling, giant dress.  It does look cool but you can not stare at the sparkling lights too long or you feel like you will have a seizer.  It does hurt the eyes.  People just snapping photos of this thing like as if it was a new Brangelina baby.  The Eiffel Tower is all iron and built on Champ de Mars (which I am guessing has nothing to do with the planet).  It is hands down probably one of the most recognizable structures in the world (with the exception of the Statue of Liberty and O.J. Simpsons house).  The Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris.  But then again, when you are building a house for Napoleon, most places don't need to be taller then 4 feet anyway.  Alot of French people seem to think that the Eiffel Tower (especially now with the glitter and lights) is much of an eyesore.  Then again, they don't seem to complain about Jean Reno (who the rest of the world seem to think is an eyesore).  

After the boat ride we went into a cafe':

The Cafe's

No matter where you go in Paris, every restaurant has the same thing.  Cheese, Coffee and Cigarettes.  Very much like Sweden with the Coffee & Bread.   French love their cheese.  They have fancy names for their cheese.   Like "Emmental francis est-central" or "Fourme de Montbrison" or "Picodon de l'Arde'che".   Just saying the names of them can turn a woman on.  Everything in Paris just sounds so damn sexy.  You can ask where is the bathroom in French and it sounds romantic: "Pardon, ou' sont les toilettes?".  Sounds hot doesn't it?  Next time I have foreplay,  I am pulling out a damn French dictionary and just start reading.  Seriously.

The cheese has fantastic taste.  Bitter, sweet, strong, light, sour, whatever.  Every cheese tastes different.  Makes me want to move to Paris and open a Quesadilla store their.  

The coffee got me annoyed a bit.   They don't have coffee like you and I have coffee.  In the U.S. you order coffee they bring you a cup (some bring you a damn Big Gulp 7/11 size cup) full of coffee.  In Paris, it all comes in a tiny little cup.  Like as in espresso.   I told the waiter "I want coffee coffee.  Like as in a cup for normal size humans.  Not in a cup for Oompa Loompas."
The waiter responded "oh, you want American coffee!".  Wtf? American coffee?  uh no.  Its called "The Rest Of The World Coffee".   
Even the coffee has strange names like "Cafe' au lait" or "Cafe' Noisette".   I don't speak a word of french but I am guessing they are named "Late Coffee" and "Noisy Coffee"?

The cool thing about the cafe' is everyone has the chairs outside facing the street.  Nobody sits at a table for 2 (or for 4) and looks at eachother.  This is PARIS!  The people here are much more sexy then me, don't look at me! look at them!  
Everyone sits and looks at people walking by.  
"Oh hey, check out the long legged brunette"
"Oh hey, check out the long legged blonde"
"Oh hey, check out the long legged horse hauling the overweight Americans"

I dug the whole "sit here, have some cheese and watch everyone walking by."  It's like as if you are waiting for something incredible to happen.   This guy my trip on his shoelace.  This lady may get mugged.  Someone ran a red light?  damn it I missed it!  I was busy trying to order some cafe' le Americian.  

The other thing about the cafe' is that nobody who works there speaks any English.  Being that this is Paris and its an international tourist attraction, you would think these guys would bother to brush up on universal language.  Nope.  All of France seems to have this "If you don't speak french, then we are not going to learn your language then".  Even at the Louvre, all the paintings and statues have plaques next to them that are in French.  Was the Mona Lisa painted in 1505?  Or was she born in 1505? or is this just item number 1505 and later I can bid on it in some silent French auction?  What the heck is going on?   Forget trying to find a damn exit at the Louvre too.  Everything is written in French.  "Oh here!  This says Sortir.  That means exit.  No! Damn it.  Its the painting called Le' Sortir.  Where is the damn exit in this place?  Someone give me a piece of this sculptures foot so  I can throw it at this giant glass pyramid I am trapped in!"

Nobody speaks English.  Menus:  French.  Maps: French.  Subway instructions on a wall in the subway station: French.  I tried asking for directions from a waiter and all he said was "I do not understand".  Those were the four words he knew in English.  "Do" "Understand" "I" and "Not".  
Finally, the people at the cafe' LOVE smoking.  I picked my smoking habit back for two days while I was there.  Just from sitting in these cafe's.  Everyone smokes.  If you don't smoke they know you are a tourist.  I might as well wear a giant "I Heart Paris" with a belt napsack and a camera.  I felt so uncool without a cigarette.  So naked.  

Then we explored the City:
The City

What a beautiful city.  Shall I say "Magnifique!".   I did not realize when we arrived that "Rue" stands for "Streets".  So here is yours truly, trying to find places by telling Hot Sexy Swedish Wife: "I read online about this great coffee shop.  I don't remember the name of the street, it was something-Rue.  Is there a Rue on the map?"

Too bad everything has "Rue" on the map.   At first glance I was like "Ok. we are here on the map.  Oh great, we are on Rue.  Perfect! The website said it was on Rue and we are on it."

Swedish Wife: "Uh, honey.  They are ALL rue.  Rue means street."

I had to play it off like "oh, I knew that.  yes. yes.  Of course it does."

She totally saw thru my bulls***.  Never try to pull off bull**** on a wife.  They are like Hirachio on CSI:Miami.  Try to tell her I did not break the wine glass and she will look at the trajectory of the glass on the floor.  She will look at the way the water has collected at the bottom of the sink.  She will look at my fragile, shakey, bleeding hands and then call "Bull****!"
I can never escape her.

So yeh, "Rue" had me called out on my bull**** first day there.    But the streets are beautiful.  All brick roads (which must be a really hard thing to walk down if you are in high heels and drunk).  Matter of fact, that should be an olympic sport.  Set off 10 drunk women in high heels down a side street in Paris and see who makes it to the end of the street first.  Entertainment if I ever heard of one.  "Oh, look at Madame Michelle!  She is leading the pack.  and -- oh no!  Michelle is now down in the gutter.   Le Michelle has eaten le shit."

We did get lost a lot in Paris which sounds cool to say.  "We got lost in Paris".   Much better then say "We got lost in Spanish Harlem".   But we did enjoy just getting lost and finding our way back.  We found an awesome ice cream shop on the island across from Notre Damn.  We found a chocolate store that has amazing chocolates.  We found cool little houses and shops and some friendly locals while at it.  

We did get lost coming out of the subway and walking in the wrong direction for about 30 minutes before we realized "uh.....I don't see a park!  I see a supermarket and what looks like it may be a french strip club".    We then realized we walked in the opposite direction.  Better for that to happen in Paris then say Bolivia.  

That's about it.  We did go to the Louvre and some parks (photos below).  Mona Lisa is really small.  I thought it would be some giant painting.  But no.  It is the size of a cereal box.  We saw some cool parks and some even Napoleons apartment.  His apartment was made with a lot of chandeliers (which makes sense, considering he probably couldn't reach the light switch if it was regular lights).  Below are some photos of some neat places we checked out (plus one movie poster which looks hilarious in French.  "The Momie".  Who doesn't want their mommy when Brandon Frasier is in a movie with you.)  

Well, that's it about Paris.