Saturday, December 26, 2009

How To Study Abroad

Recently, I decided to study abroad. This is common practice among us college students. There comes a day when, tiring of our daily routine of debauching ourselves into vomit-flecked oblivion, we yearn for the cultural breadth that can only come of debauching ourselves into vomit-flecked oblivion in an entirely different country. It is a powerful call, one no thinking soul can help but heed. Yet many of us college students heed it too.

The next step is to choose which country you want to study abroad in. You may find this difficult. I, for one, am notoriously bad at making choices. I routinely enter a state of deep emotional turmoil when, at the bubble tea establishment, I am faced with the decision between taro and sesame.* The only time I ever found it easy to make a choice was during the last Winter Olympics, when I elected to watch the men’s figure skating finals instead of the Westminster Dog Show.**

My point, students, is that you should put a certain amount of care and energy into selecting the country you feel would enhance your being the most, as a student and as a human. The method I recommend is that of writing up a list of all your core traits, then wadding it into a ball and hurling it at the head of whichever professor most recently said to you (WARNING WARNING WARNING THIS IS A TRUE QUOTE AHEAD), “You need to examinate [sic] how to extrapolate out [sic] the ideopolitical structures.” *** For best results, you should attach the ball to a large heavy object.

Because ultimately, you are not going to pick your study-abroad country based on what you write on a silly old piece of paper. You are going to pick it – as we intellectuals have done since the dawn of academia, back in the Upper Paleolithic, when all the intellectuals were australopithecines**** – based on how comical the accents are. I ended up picking France, not because of the accents, but because I can speak some of the going language (French). This is a handy Travel Aid, in a pinch, if you forget English. This does happen to us, especially if we are a 12-year-old dweeb-a-roonie in front of the object of our 12-year-old dweeb-a-roonie Hot Burnin’ Passion. I myself recall this one time, which I am not going to tell you about.

Anyway, once you have chosen your country, you will need to obtain a student visa. For this purpose you will be summoned to the world’s hottest, smallest, crampedest, filled-with-decaying-France-pamphlets-est room, population 786,392,396, which also happens to be the number of hours you will be required to stand in line, until, at last, you are called to The Window, where you are told – in stern tones – to wait in line. But it’s all worth it when – after you submit to a retinal scan, a finger scan, a CAT scan, a DOG scan, etc. – they finally look at you suspiciously and send you home, because your passport photograph is frankly butt-ugly. Ultimately, assuming you finally DO get a visa, they will remedy this by means of taking a visa photograph of you that is even uglier.

Last but not least, you will be given a wad of French documents that clearly Mean Business, in the sense that they are literally belching flames at you. No person, including a French person, could ever actually READ these documents, but the basic thrust of them is that everything you do overseas, as a foreigner, will be considered “bad” and will result in your being drop-kicked off the nearest clichéd French landmark, unless you will agree to adopt the national opinion that the movie “Amélie” is not really very French at all.

In the end, however, all of this nonsense will be the furthest thing from your mind, because once these happy holidays have faded into the midst, you’ll be off, wending your way toward the destination of your choice. We understand there are foreign languages there. So don’t be shy! Go for it, adventuresome student! You’ll learn to navigate another culture, to question your long-held societal presuppositions, and – if you are remotely worthy as a student – to examinate how to extrapolate out the ideopolitical structures. It will surely be an occasion of great personal growth for you. Best of all, I don’t even have to hear about it.

* You can’t choose. YOU JUST CAN’T.
** In a highly controversial decision, Best in Show that year went to American skater Evan Lysacek.
*** And if you doubt the veracity of this quote, frankly you need your head examinated.
**** These individuals – as you have no doubt guessed – are now teaching in the Sociology department.

©2009 Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Friday, December 25, 2009

Snark, the herald angels sing

I was going to write a Snark about Christmas. Honestly, I was. That was before I realized all I had to say about the day basically came down to "I love Christmas," and, "Gwarsh, I sure do love Christmas!" GREAT humor material, natch. So, instead, I give you: the cat.

Joyeux fêtes à tous (literally, "Gwarsh").

Back soon, oh so soon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


A reminder for those in the NYC area: this Thursday evening, Dec. 3, I will be appearing, alongside my marvelous fellow actors, in the premiere reading of my supermarket musical, AISLE SIX. The reading will be 8:30 pm, at the Players Club, 16 Gramercy Park South (aka 20th St. off Park Ave.)

Hope to see you there!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Love, Sex, and Mustard

Good news, everyone: the scientific community, having tired of clarifying for us that we are assholes, has now broken ground in an exciting new territory: clarifying for us that we are horny. If not for such clarifications, I don’t know how I’d get up in the morning.

Anyway, I base this claim on a recent LiveScience article, entitled “Romantic Rivalries Stir Religious Feelings.” The upshot of this piece is that, when exposed to potential sexual competitors who are quite frankly hotter than your bug-ugly self, you will suddenly develop deeply pious feelings in order to compensate for the fact that you will not be “getting any” anytime soon, or within your current lifetime.

Ah-heh, whoops, did I say that out loud? I, uh, actually meant to quote the article:

Rivals on the dating scene could make one feel closer to God, according to new research that suggests one's religiousness may be more closely related to mating strategies than previously known.
In experiments with 269 college students, researchers found that both men and women apparently felt more religious when they saw attractive potential competitors.
Social psychologists had volunteers view dating profiles of either attractive men or women and told them these were fellow students participating at an online dating site. They were then asked to rate, on a 10-point scale, the extent to which they agreed with statements like, "I believe in God," "We'd be better off if religion played a bigger role in people's lives," and "Religious beliefs are important to me in my everyday decisions."
The volunteers appeared more religious when exposed to attractive members of their own sex. … "It's our belief that … one plausible function of religious sanctions on sexuality is to maintain and defend a low-promiscuity, monogamous lifestyle," said researcher Douglas Kenrick at Arizona State University. "For that lifestyle, an abundance of attractive competitors is a threat."

Okey-doke. Next, I should like to share my views. Let me begin by blowing the Great Horn of Bullshit. Stand back:


Thank you. Now, don’t get me wrong: I believe that if any given subject is sincerely religious to begin with, he will remain sincerely religious whether or not he sees a potential romantic rival. However, beyond that, it so happens I have an alternative theory, based on a highly scientific principle which goes something like this: take a sentient, reasonable human being and plunge him into the first stages of sexual jealousy, and he will become, instantaneously, a raving Whonko McNutbucket Loony-Ass. And, as we all know, Whonko McNutbucket Looney-Asses – you may have been one yourself at one time – will say pretty much anything, as evidenced by the personal anecdote in this footnote.*

In other words: this has nothing to do with religion. Why not leave God out of it? Substitute something else. Anything else. Say mustard, on account of it is the first thing that pops into my mind.** If we are feeling great extreme ferocious feelings about our sexy-pants rival, and someone asks us if we have great extreme ferocious feelings about mustard, we are only naturally going to say YES WE DO GRRRRRR YOU WANNA PIECE OF ME? DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE.***

Notice I am referring solely to the initial stages of sexual jealousy here. Eventually the edge will wear off, at which point we will no longer actively want to kill our rival; rather, we will passively want to kill her, while really half-concentrating on whatever is on the E! Network at the time. Initial extremes fade. A good analogy lies in our attraction to the object of our affection. If this person proclaims a great undying devotion to mustard, and we personally have frankly never thought of mustard before, even in church, but we have a great undying devotion to storming the pants of the object of our affection, we will quite frankly feel fiercely devoted to mustard. That’s how it works. Don’t blame me.****

Take heart, though, because these feelings too will fade. Chances are, if you stay with the object of your affection long enough, you will begin to realize not only that you are not that much into mustard after all, but also that the object of your affection is a great freaking waste of space whom you would very much like to whomp repeatedly over the head with a giant mallet, Whac-a-Mole-style, for existing. Then you will feel all better.

Of course, far be it from me to suggest that you should ever falsify yourself for another person. That way lies ruin, and the very real risk that you will have a Teen Novel written about you. Do NOT let this happen; you will never forgive yourself, nor will you be asked to prom until you learn to love your curves.***** Thus I close with this statement from the bottom of my heart: remain true to who you are. Unless, of course, you are an asshole, in which case, falsify away.

And happy dating!

* Like hell.
** And how can I top that?
*** In the interest of full disclosure, I really want some mustard now.
**** Blame my romantic rival. Heh heh. (Sound of hands rubbing together.)
***** DISCLAIMER: The Snark has never read any Teen Novels. Despite appearances, she does not know what she is talking about. Pay no attention.

©2009 Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This cannot be a coincidence

I only just noticed this.

Is it just me, or has my famed French-phrase calendar (featuring 365 days of comical phonetic translations) just depicted for me, from Nov. 5-8, all stages of a date gone ugly? Observez:

Nov. 5: We could go to a show.*
Nov. 6: I heard it gets a good crowd.**
Nov. 7: I'd like to see the cathedral.***
Nov. 8: Is it infected?****

* ohn poo-reh ah-lay oh tay-ahtr
** zyah ahn-tahn-dew kuh lam-byahns eh sahm-pah
*** zhem-reh vwahr lah kah-tay-drahl
**** ooh ooh bay-bee bay-bee

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Got a Snickers and I'm Not Afraid to Use It

In these troubled times (10:36 and 10:37 A.M., Eastern), isn't it comforting to know you have something to count on? I refer, of course, to the scientific research community, which is still there for you, as it has always been, to remind you that everything you like will destroy you.

I recently received a charming such reminder in the form of the following Time article, which I found via the exhaustive research method of poking around randomly online and eating things instead of doing work. The piece, written by Alice Park, is entitled:


What parent hasn’t used candy to pacify a cranky child or head off a brewing tantrum? When reasoning, threats and time-outs fail, a sugary treat often does the trick. But while that chocolate-covered balm may be highly effective in the short term, say British scientists, it may be setting youngsters up for problem behavior later. […] The research was led by Simon Moore, a senior lecturer in Violence and Society Research at Cardiff University …. [who] had been investigating the factors that lead children to commit serious crimes, when, during the course of his work, he discovered that "kids with the worst problems tend to be impulsive risk takers, and that these kids had terrible diets - breakfast was a Coke and a bag of chips," he says.

Needless to say, this is the kind of thing that can really get your dander up (assuming you have dander and it is down to begin with). Me, I was so incensed I nearly had to spit out my Good 'n' Plentys and abandon my thoughts of brutality. Just where do these namby-pamby, wussy-ass, weeniemeister "researchers" get off revealing their "findings" just because they happen to have "terminal degrees" and "evidence" and "more knowledge of the topic than I, personally, do"? This must end. The time has come for us, the besmirched candy-eating, to take a stand and PUNCH SOME SENIOR-LECTURER FACE MWA HA HA HA HAAAHAHA ha...

A-heh. Actually, what I meant to say was, "make our voices heard." Yes, make our voices heard. Sure, we on the other side may not yet have our Ph.D.*, but even so we bring many fine credentials to the "table," such as:

1. Many years of candy-eating experience in the field of eating candy.
2. References available on request.
3. No, we don't have to prove it.
4. Also, we LIKE candy.
5. So SHUT UP.

It is on this basis that we should like to propound** our OWN theory on the link between candy-eating and crime, which we arrived at only after countless seconds of turmoil and brooding and occasional breaks to blow-dry our hair. It was imperative to us that we formulate this theory based on our extensive store of knowledge from our academic career, at least until we realized we HAVE no such store of knowledge, so we settled for basing it on something we vaguely remember from psychology class last year. This is the idea of the "third variable"***, which goes something like this: often enough, in the study of psychology, cause "A" will seem to lead to effect "B," but this is before you examine the situation at hand much more closely and conclude that, in fact, there is no one very attractive in your psychology class.

Whoops, sorry, wrong conclusion. What we meant to say was, you end up realizing that, in fact, you have ignored the influence of a third variable.**** I am thinking particularly of the iconic psychology study in which a test group of chronic oversleepers all died before age 50, so researchers were all set to propose a link between oversleeping and premature death, until further studies revealed that these individuals had in fact been hit by Mack trucks. See? Third variable! You get how it works?*****

"Well, whoop-de-do for you, Little Miss University-pants," you are saying, "but how does that relate to the case at hand?" Well, I will tell you, by means of deft segue. The Time article goes on to state:

Moore's analysis suggests a correlation: 69% of people who had been convicted of a violent act by age 34 reported eating candy almost every day as youngsters; 42% of people who had not been arrested for violent behavior reported the same. "Initially we thought this [effect] was probably due to something else," says Moore. "So we tried to control for parental permissiveness, economic status, whether the kids were urban or rural. But the result remained. We couldn't get rid of it."

In other words, our current hypothesis goes something like this:


Now what if I were to tell you what the article shamelessly withholds from your trusting eyes -- namely, that these same 69% were later determined, via exhaustive laboratory tests, to be assholes? That's right. And what's more, in their youth, there is a strong chance that they were -- you guessed it -- younger assholes. Say it with me: THIRD VARIABLE.

So actually our hypothesis should go something like this:


Never let it be said that I am not a courageous pioneer in the sciences.****** In fact, I believe I may say without fear of modesty that, if you would like to bestow upon me large amounts of money for my pioneerings, I will courageously accept it. Then I will spend it on Gummi worms and a phaser. As a pioneer, it's the least I can do for our nation's future. And I sincerely mean that.

Well, okay, also this special message to our nation's youth: Remember, kids: EAT CANDY.

* In fact, we may, hypothetically speaking, have changed our major so many times that our academic advisor now slugs Pepto-Bismol at the mere sight of us.

** pro.pound n. A unit of English currency that is no longer Olympic-eligible, and now spends its days touring with "Stars on Ice."

*** As opposed to the second one, or the first, you see.

**** 'Dja see it coming?

***** It's okay if you don't. You don't go to Bolumbia. (Unless, of course, you do, in which case: Idiot.)

****** Especially as of next week, when I change my major.

©2009 Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Little Blog Lost

Do I ever owe you guys an apology. Here goes: Sorry!

These past weeks I've been running around like the proverbial headless chicken, only with nicer clothes*, in a misguided attempt to square away midterms WHILE editing Aisle Six WHILE getting all my ducks in a row to spend next semester in France. This last charming bit is a process that involves giving various institutions just a few simple forms summarizing your intent to study abroad, plus a $600 program fee, plus a $400 intent to pay the program fee fee, plus a $200 making snotty remarks about those other fees in your blog fee, plus all your medical records, financial documents, blood, phlegm, chromosomes, etc.

More on this important subject soon. I swear on the Lady with Stoat.

In the meantime, for those of you in the NYC area as are interested, Aisle Six's initial reading has gotten pushed back to Dec. 3. More on that important subject soon, too.

* And even this really depends on how late I woke up.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Da Vinci Stoat

I kid you not. Here she is: "Lady with Stoat."

See, I always knew art had to have SOME redeeming value.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A good excuse! I swear!

The new post below, the one on auditioning, is something I wrote almost a month ago. Since then, I've been absent from the blogosphere, for which I apologize. I'd much rather be here than ... liiiike ... learning and stuff. But academia is, for once, not the only reason for my silence.

Some may remember that my first-ever Snark post dealt with my stirring experience as a Valued Employee at a supermarket, the summer before I began this kollidge thing. For whatever reason, the supermarket theme never really took its leave of me, and about a year later I began evolving the book, lyrics, and music for AISLE SIX (your one-stop supermusical).

Fast-forward to now: this fall, AISLE SIX will receive its first readings at the Players' Club in NYC, featuring myself and other actors as yet to be cast. Naturally, this has had to take daily priority along with the usual academic hoo-ha, hence the Snarklessness of late. The first reading takes place in a few weeks, and will function as sort of a test-run, to work out the kinks in front of a small audience. The real-deal reading will take place in December -- more about that once I know more.

So, in the meantime, while I'll do my gol-dangedest to keep posting this fall, I may be guilty of more long lapses. In the meantime, my apologies for the blog famine. And clean-up in Aisle Six!


Awesome, Dude

Now here's an issue that's sure to raise the hackles of any decent citizen with a working set of hackles and too much time on his hands. I speak - as you have no doubt surmised - of those e-mails I keep getting post-audition.

For those of you outside the "biz," I should explain that a theatre audition used to be a relatively uncomplicated affair. Post-audition was a particularly nice time, when, bathed in the afterglow of the occasion, you and your audition would snuggle up together and smoke cigarettes, maybe get the munchies for some ranch dip. But that was the last you and your audition would ever see of each other, and this --


-- is my point. Gone are the days of the commitment-free, love-you-and-leave-you-style audition. Instead, somewhere along the line, those behind the table* got the idea that -- even if they do not wish to cast you, even if they would undergo self-performed appendectomies via butter knife rather than ever look at you again -- it is their duty, as eminent persons behind tables**, to come after you, a few days later, with the Warm 'n' Fuzzy Rejection E-mail. It goes like this:



Best regards,

It doesn't mean you're not awesome.

Suffice it to say, it would not bother me in the slightest if I were never to get another such e-mail proclaiming my awesomeness again. In fact, I can say honestly that if a genie offered me the choice between endless riches, immortality, or never getting a you're-awesome e-mail again, I would definitely kick him in the genie crotch and take all three while he wasn't looking. This is a no-brainer.

But my point is, these e-mails have got to stop, okay, persons behind the table? I am NOT awesome, capisce?**** I do not EVER want it suggested that I am REMOTELY awesome. In fact, I routinely spread pestilence throughout pediatric wards, set fire to cute bunnies, and I NEVER UNPLUG THE TOASTER WHEN I AM FINISHED WITH IT. So THERE.

And yet - who am I kidding? This won't stop you. Nothing can stop you, short of a phaser. And I doubt even that would do the trick. No, in all likelihood, the smoky essences of your vaporized persons would simply swirl through the air to the nearest computer and write me a you're-awesome e-mail. Your power is too great, persons behind the table; I give up, you win. But in the meantime, quit sticking your wads of gum under there.

Tell you what: I'll throw this one over to you, my thespian readers. Am I off base? Hacked off at nothing? You can tell me. I might not agree with you, but if I don't, it doesn't mean you're not awesome.

* The people auditioning you are always behind a table. Actually, I suspect this is always the same table, complete with the same wads of gum under it.

** Don't scoff. Many of them hold terminal degrees in sitting behind tables.

*** When will the madness end?

**** Italian, literally, "panini."

©2009 Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What's Your Sign?

While the mental Snark backlog swells dangerously due to that durned personal life, I share with you, ever briefly, a recent sampling of comical signs around the city, brought to you by the Snark Ascending Bureau of Comical Signs Recently Sampled Around The City (not associated with the Snark Ascending City of Comical Bureaus Recently Signed Around The Sample, which, if you even dare think its name in conjunction with this post, will henceforth sue your ass).

First up is a pair of signs courtesy of a Chinese restaurant on the Up-Up-Upper West Side. One of these reads, simply, "RESTROOMS ARE FOR CUSTOMERS ONLY." This much is straightforward, but then there are the teddy bears -- a pair of them, anime-style cute, lying on their bellies, expressionless, as if to say ... well, something. Possibly to illustrate that they were booted forcibly out of the restaurant, onto their bellies, for attempting to use the bathroom without buying anything. I feel for them. But not so much as I feel for the cute bathing seals on the OTHER sign, the one that says, "PLEASE USE OTHER DOOR." The clear implication here is that, if you do NOT use the other door, you will turn into a seal and somebody will bathe you. We must all strive to avoid this fate.

Next up is a sign that graces an eating establishment further downtown. Out of concern for my well-being, I will refer to this restaurant as "Big Al's," so as not to incur the wrath of certain organized organizations (in other words, so as not to tell you that its name is actually "Big Vinny's.") This sign, clearly a gift of the City Dept. of Ill-Placed "Quotation Marks," reads as follows: OUR FOOD IS "TOP" QUALITY.

And of course the pièce de résistance (literally, "this one was OF COURSE on campus"), which I again swear I am reprinting here verbatim:


Okay, but I might feel awkward.

©2009 Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I've Been Snarkin' on the Railroad

In times like these (11:51 and 11:52 A.M., respectively), it is a comfort to know that - though the road ahead may be hard, the waters troubled, the going tough, the proof in the pudding, and other platitudes that may or may not have to do with the end of this sentence - The Man will still be there to make you pay money you do not, technically speaking, owe.

You can't blame The Man, of course. Making you pay money you do not owe is The Man's way of revitalizing our economy. Now when I say "you," I of course mean, "me." I didn't see you pony up so much as a sou* yesterday, when, on a train ride I had purchased by means of a perfectly legitimate rider rewards program, I was commanded on board to -- you guessed it -- surrender multiple dollars.

There is never any arguing with The Man. I am never sure why this is. In this case, I think it was because The Man is required to do everything cheerfully. As in, he will cheerfully tell you you owe $19, he will cheerfully repeat that you owe $19 anyway, and if you do not give him $19, he will cheerfully hurl you onto the tracks. Also, The Man in this case was wearing a comical train-person hat, which acts as a pretty good form of Argument Block, because there is always the risk that, mid-wrath, you will inadvertently let out a violent snort and blow your train-brand coffee out your nose.**

So I've decided I'm at peace with having given them $19, because in the end, whatever the train people take away from you in the form of money,*** they give back abundantly in the form of first-class**** entertainment. I am referring, as you have no doubt surmised, to passengers in train restrooms. These folks are by far the class of train-travel amenities, besting even:

- Small tasteless sandwich-like items ($12.95, without ketchup)
- The convenient tray tables affixed to the seat in front of you only by what turns out to be a wad of fossilized Bubble Yum from the disco era, and sporting the secretions of every train passenger dating back to Neanderthal passengers, who used the tray tables to eat mastodon sandwich-like objects (back then they retailed for only $7.95).*****

For those infrequent train passengers, train restrooms are configured such that it is, on occasion, unclear to the occupant that the door is not actually locked. This discovery is typically made at that moment in which the vehicle experiences a moment's "turbulence," causing the train restroom door to slide conveniently open. Meanwhile, the occupant, responding only to the demands of the sympathetic nervous system ...

We have three nervous systems: the sympathetic nervous system, which is the one that runs around in circles barking wildly and trying to bite its own tail and riding in cars with its head out the window and peeing on the rug at the slightest provocation; the parasympathetic nervous system, which lies on the beach drinking daiquiris and tells you to take it easy and occasionally scratches itself, and Jeff, their loafing yet endearing roommate, who basically just sits in front of the PlayStation all day and never does his laundry or buys groceries, but it's okay, in the end, they're the best of friends!

... so, yes, anyway, the occupant, responding only to the demands of the sympathetic nervous system, lurches violently forward to fight the door. Typically the door has the advantage, because it is not wearing its pants around its ankles. Clearly, this particular part of the nervous system did not evolve for the continuance of our species, because most of these people never emerge from the train restroom again.

Of course this is all very "funny" when it happens to somebody else, but when it happens to you personally, that is different. Then it is probably hilarious. So for my part I am definitely content to keep riding the train, and I invite you personally to come along with me next time and share in the fun. You can even sit next to me, if you like, though please be advised there will be a fee of $19.

* 1 sou = 3.5 huh?
** Needless to say, this would be a better move than drinking it.
*** Namely, money.
**** Ahaha!
***** Before tax.

©2009 Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

All Better Now!

Hey, New Yorkers: just when you thought your crippling life problems were deserving of legitimate attention, guess what? PHPHPHLBPPHLBTHHHBBBBLBTTTT My, what was that apocalyptic armpit noise? Ah, yes. That was the sweet, sweet sound of Dr. Debbie. Caring.

I don't mean to leave out the rest of you urb- and 'burbanites here; only to recount this latest of gems from Time Out New York, the publication that, through thick and thin, has unerringly been there to provide me with biweekly late-breaking intelligence on which lesser-manicured bodily orifices may be waxed for under $58 at boutiques with names like "Sasha." You can't put a price on knowledge like that.*

Anyway, earlier this month, Time Out ventured into the field of career solicitude, introducing psychologist-person Dr. Debbie, an individual who bravely and single-handedly smashes the boundaries of a formerly staid profession by being pictured in a cartoon booth. As if that weren't enough to convince you of the magnitude of this courageous pioneer's gifts to society, let us consider a nugget of her advice to one of Manhattan's job-seeking, 22-year-old Samantha Ringstaff, determined to become a professional contemporary dancer but forestalled by the combination of toilet-bound economy and cutthroat industry.

Dr. Debbie will make it better!:

"Dr. Debbie says: It's important that Samantha stays positive and focused on her goal. She should create a vision board -- a place where she posts pictures of her goals (dance imagery) and encouraging words (I've made it to Broadway, etc.) -- and look at it every day. She can take ten minutes at different times during the day to recite positive affirmations in the form of 'I am...' (not 'I wish...,' 'I want...'); for example, 'I am a great dancer.'")

Listen up, all you jobless: it's high time you stopped all your wimpmeister whining just because the economy has left you without your weenie-butt "artistic fulfillment" and "intellectual stimulation" and "financial security" and "food." Wallowing time is over! Dr. Debbie commands that you get up off your "butt" (assuming that (a) you can dislodge yourself from the "cardboard box" you now call home and (b) you have not already pawned your "butt" to pay for one delicious, delicious meal of "Slim Jims") and create yourself a "vision board" from whatever materials** happen to be available to you! Then, and only then, will you achieve the goal of each and every job-seeker in these troubled times: namely, you will have a vision board.


Q. Well, okay, but what if I can't feed myself?
A. We suggest developing motor skills.

Q. But I sold mine to pay for medication for my small ailing child, Braner.***
A. We feel your pain.

Q. Really?
A. Mmm, nah.

Q. Will reciting positive affirmations really help me achieve job security?
A. It depends.

Q. On what?

Q. What?
A. We said you should look into the exciting field of new media.

Q. What is "new media?"
A. It is media that is not as old as "old media." As opposed to old media, it is comparatively new.

Q. May I recite positive affirmations about it; for example, "I am a great dancer?"
A. Not near Dr. Snark.

Q. But what if I'm not actually a great dancer?

Q. But what about Braner?
A. You again?

That is all for today's informative edition of "Ask Dr. Snark." If we have helped but one job-seeker today, we will be very surprised. Not that we will let this get us down or anything, because we are a great dancer.

* Actually, you can: $47.50 at "Sasha."
** Such as, for example, maggot hide. What, does Dr. Debbie have to think of everything FOR YOU???
*** DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that small ailing children are not funny. Unless they are named "Braner."

©2009 Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Monday, August 24, 2009

Laughing Time is Over

The other day, in a chilling episode worthy of any cutting-room floor, I walked into a drugstore and picked up a birthday card. You have probably gone down this path yourself. It starts out innocently enough: you stop by the card rack to stock up on li'l nuggets o' Hallmark insincerity for appalling relatives with names like Uncle Sue, and then you make THE FATAL MISTAKE. You pick up the card under the heading "HUMOR." This one had a cupcake on the front, and inside it said - quote - "It's Your Special Day."

Frankly, I'm uneasy. I had prided myself, up until then, on a healthy working understanding of greeting card humor. My first-ever Real Job was at a Hallmark store, where I was able, via the scientific technique of being really bored, to compartmentalize card humor into a few basic categories:

- Certain persons lead lives rich in pickup trucks and beer.
- Certain persons feature bosoms. (BONUS: There is a high chance these persons also feature buttocks.)
- Hillary Clinton wishing you a happy birthday is funny.
- Dogs pee on things.

So after encountering the cupcake card, I stood there, very still except for my eyeballs, which bulged progressively out of my skull while days and nights progressed behind me in comical cinematic fashion. Later, my sister would childishly suggest that perhaps somebody just put the card back in the wrong place. You cannot reason with persons like this. No, my friends, we are witnessing THE DEATH OF HUMOR. We sit idly by as, before our very eyes, it goes the way of audiocassette players, so that one day soon, we will try to tell a joke, and find that it features no orifice into which we can insert our "Soft '70s" tape. I don't want my future children growing up in a world like this.

Further support for this: a classmate of mine once enlightened me to the blood-curdling fact that our school features a course in - get ready - comedy analysis. Really. As in GAWHAWWWWWWHAWW HAKK sorry, that was just the sound of me sobbing out my trachea. No, seriously, as a proud student at wherever-it-is-I-go, I stand firmly behind my institution, which is why, as a token of my gratitude to the school for admitting me and unfailingly billing me since, I will consider their mode of comedy education today.

So what say we throw it over to the insightful dudes and dudettes in Dr. Professor Warwick H. Eggbound's First-Year Seminar in Comedy Proctology ("Looking Up Comedy's Ass Through The Rectoscope of Humanity"):

DR. EGGBOUND: What do you think the author means by "we will tell a joke, and find that it features no orifice into which we can insert our 'Soft '70s' tape?" Explain.

(Dead silence; sounds of sleep, surreptitious autoeroticism, etc.)

DR. EGGBOUND: Jason? Your analysis? (Mouthing along with student.) It's ... funny ... because ... a ... joke ... can't ... feature ... an ... orifice. That's correct. The use of absurdity renders the observation humorous. Academic laugh!

EVERYONE (academically): Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.

DR. EGGBOUND: Ahhh. I needed that. Now it is vital, too, that we pay attention to the author's use of the transative defamatory conjunction, "GAWHAWWWWWWHAWW." What, precisely, do we find funny about "GAWHAWWWWWWHAWW?" Stewart?

STEWART (a "special student" who still wets the bed): Well, if memory serves, the O.E.D. in fact classifies "GAWHAWWWWWWHAWW" as a laxative depilatory confection that should really only have four W's in a row instead of six. Thus is it rendered "humorous."

DR. EGGBOUND: Now laugh.


(Dr. Eggbound smokes a cigarette)

Speaking as a wide-eyed garbage-disposal style newbie in the academic sphere, I firmly believe that there is actually nothing in the world that cannot benefit from Dr. Eggbound's particular brand of analysis. In fact, such luminaries as he render me totally unnecessary. So I highly encourage all of you, especially you young persons as are yet benighted enough to think comedy is "funny," to take his course. And have a ball. It's Your Special Day.

P.S. Also, Hillary says happy birthday.

P.P.S. Now laugh.

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Snark for Girls

You'll be devastated to know that, despite my heroic efforts to bring the gender-studies world to its knees by writing an essay about it that upwards of several people read, it turns out -- you may want to sit down with your head between your knees for this part -- gender still endures.* This despite the fact that some of those who read the essay were not even members of my personal family.

Anyway, the ugly truth visited itself on me on a recent visit to the bookstore, where, in the interest of broadening my intellectual horizons in teh time it would take to finish my Honkaccino, I picked up a book that transported me back to my early childhood,** when one day my mother, who was home-schooling me at the time, was given a book entitled: MATH FOR GIRLS. Sadly, I no longer own this book due to the fact that we misplaced it, shortly after attacking it with a machete. But I do remember its main features:

1. Math.
2. For girls.
3. An answer guide providing many -- not to put too fine a point on it -- wrong answers.
4. A pink cover with stickers*** on it.
5. Problems such as:

You earned $15 from baby-sitting! And $25 from the bake sale you and the other little be-uterused creatures held after cheerleading practice! Then you and people with names like "Kaylee" went to the mall! If you spent $6.99 on a charm bracelet and $2.27 on a nonfat taco, plus a $1.25 exclamation mark surcharge, and 6.5% sales tax, then don't worry about it, you can't solve this problem anyway. Have a great day!!

So I was thinking, there in the bookstore, that we have really come a long way since those unenlightened days (case in point: we no longer wear "scrunchies"), thanks largely to entities such as the American Girl company, publisher of the book I was holding in my hand, the American Girl Girl's Guide To Money. I remember this company fondly, because when I was little I had a couple of the dolls, like the WWII doll, the colonial doll, the plague-infected doll, etc., plus I once invented, as a prospective addition to their lineup, a cavegirl doll with a name like "Unnhh" who went around doing plucky cavegirl things and starring in uplifting cavegirl adventures with titles like "Unnhh Saves The Day."****

So I had nothing but the utmost respect for A.G., until the moment, there in the bookstore, that my heart was ripped out of my chest, stomped on, chopped up into fun-size pieces and charged a $1.95 Citibank Surcharge by their book. I refer to the following passage, which I quote verbatim:

It’s Saturday. You’ve got friends at your side, a purse with some cash, and the mall at your feet. You’re happy – even a little excited – walking along under the bright lights, listening to music and the babble of voices. The air smells of pretzels and cookies and pizza. You love being here, talking to friends about what you like and don’t like. You don’t have to buy anything to have a good time. And yet – funny – you often do. How’s that work?

In fact, when you’re in a mall, you’re in a landscape very different from the rest of the world. There are no windows to the outdoors. Blue sky, fresh air, dirt, pavement – that all sort of disappears. What you have instead are signs, lighting, colors, advertisements, and stylish displays.

It’s a landscape designed by people who have one thing in mind: encouraging you to buy things. Everything is arranged to that purpose.




And ... and another thing ... (sniff) ... frankly, this passage is DISCRIMINATORY. Yeah. Discriminatory against ... against people who don't shop at malls. Take the urban vagrant. Yeah! Do I see the American urban vagrant represented an-y-where in that passage, "American Girl," if that IS your name?

Well, lucky for you I and the editors of American Urban Vagrant***** came along. With their assistance, I have retooled the foregoing passage thusly:

It's Saturday -- not that that means anything to you! You've got your imaginary friends at your side, another person's purse with some cash, and bodily substances at your feet. You're happy -- even a little excited in bodily ways -- walking along under the smog, listening ot the babble of the voices in your head telling you KILL THE MAYOR KILL THE MAYOR.****** The air smells of pretzels and cookies and secretions. You love being here, talking to your imaginary bunny, Harvey, about what you don't like and ... don't like. You don't have to buy anything to have a good time. And, accordingly, you often don't. How's that work?

It works like this, silly: you're an AMERICAN URBAN VAGRANT! All you need to feel good is the toe-tapping entertainment inside your own fried, fried head. In fact, when you're inside your head, you're in a landscape very different from the rest of the world. There are no windows to the outdoors.

It's a landscape designed by people who have one thing in mind: they want to EAT YOUR BRAIN EAT YOUR BRAIN EAT YOUR BRAIN. Everything is arranged to that purpose.

So there. Having struck a much-needed blow for whatever it was I was striking a blow for, I'm off to the mall to do math. Then I'm going to buy things, because the stylish displays are telling me I have to. Or else Harvey will eat my brain.

* In fact, while sitting in this position, you may notice it between your knees.
** There were "crop tops" there. You may want to put your head between your knees again.
*** They sparkled!!
**** This will yet make me rich; you just wait.
***** Insert your own joke about a line of dolls here. It's just too easy.
****** DISCLAIMER: This is the voice in your head, avoiding legal involvements. Do NOT kill the mayor. Thank you.

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Ses and the city

An ad at the bottom of entreats me to, quote, "Find Sesy Girls at Great Prices." Which raises questions:

1. Do I have to?
2. Am I missing something here?
3. Or do certain copywriters just need to go to Russia for some ses ed?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Today's nugget o' highly suspicious

The box of ice cream cones at work says, quote, LARGE JACKETED WAFFLE. This suggests a big anthropomorphized Disney-style waffle-dude wearing a trenchcoat, which he would occasionally throw open, to display his nooks and crannies to passing sprinkles.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sex Ed

As a hardcore noticer of the highly suspicious (a telltale sign of which is often making hardcore statements such as "Huh!"), sometimes I have to dip back into the archives to reach my noticing quota. It's not that suspicious things aren't going on in the present; it's just that life is full, what with all the exciting and glamorous adventures we young persons have, such as being on the phone with Amazon customer service for 6,253 hours this week. The result being, today's nugget comes courtesy of the November 2007 Marie Claire, the same periodical responsible each month for purveying the following information:


And of course:


So of course I follow religiously, even though there are usually actually only 16 SIZZLING NEW TECHNIQUES, and all of them pretty much boil down to, "Involving the naughty parts usually works." But who am I to judge? Especially when -- hold on to your fried cheese now -- it turns out certain other countries believe it takes actual formal education to complete your sexual know-how. Marie Claire says so itself: in Moscow, which qualifies as a location in a certain other country, there is: a sex school. As in, a school that teaches you how to ... like ... do sex. I quote from the article:

On a Saturday night at [the school] ... five students are gyrating their hips and tossing their hair to the manic beat of Russian disco (think early Madonna crossed with Cossack music). And this is just the warm-up. Tonight's class is "How to Be Your Man's Number-One Lover." Lessons include trying out erotic massage on a live male model, practicing fellatio with the aid of bananas and lollipops, and learning how to praise a man's sexual prowess "convincingly."

Now it must be noted that this is only a small excerpt of the article, and there are many other parts (heh-heh) that are seriously depraved and disturbing, and I feel compelled to say that -- as a 21st-century American woman -- I find them funny. This is why -- call me new frontier* if you must -- I am posting here the parts that, as a 21st-century American woman, I find the most funny.

I'm not quite sure why this is. I have never been to Russia ("The Show Me State"), so I cannot identify with the story on anything like a personal basis. That said -- not that I wish to toot my own horn here -- I did personally take one whole entire semester of Russian, during which I attained the invaluable cultural skill of learning words I would promptly forget.** The existence of the sex school, however, entirely restores my faith in a country that could call an innocent alphabet letter an "R" when it is flagrantly a "P." Nobody would have ever dreamed of letting them get away with such a thing if their athletes hadn't kicked all the other athletes' butts dating back to the 3,000,000 B.C. Australopithecine Winter Olympics. (That was the one where the australopithecines in charge of the world figure skating federation engaged in underhanded dealings that were all over the newspapers.) (FUN FACT FOR NON-FIGURE SKATING ENTHUSIASTS: These same individuals are still in charge of the federation today.)

But back to Russia, and why I am cool with the whole sex-school deal. You know what I think it is? I've spent far too much time - approximately 671 years since my birth in 1988 - as an American student in the American system of higher education, which has its benefits,*** but in which they would never dream of hiring a male model as an Educational Supplement. This is because this would constitute an act. In the American system of higher education, theory, theory, theory is the order of the day; the more degrees removed you are from actually doing anything, the better, as evidenced by this highly authentic transcript from a sex class at West Southeast North Montana Technical Agricultural & Umbilical:

PROFESSOR SWITHIN R. HORKBUCKET: ... therefore it is altogether necessary, as we theorize about theorizing about, but do not actually ever theorize about, the theories pertaining to this theory ...

STUDENT: Excuse me. Can we get a male model in here?


STUDENT: Oh. But uh... we can maybe look at pictures of a male model, right?

PROF. HORKBUCKET: Heh, heh, heh! No.

STUDENT: Are we allowed to, uh...think about a male model?

PROF. HORKBUCKET: Ah-ah-ah! That's thinking. You're at an American university, remember, you little mucus-wad? Thinking is but a baby step from activity, and activity is anathema. The name of the game here is, through inaction and non-thought, to get yourself as close as possible to THE HOLY GRAIL OF NON-BEING.

STUDENT: Uh ... well, then ... can I maybe think about not thinking about a male model?

PROF. HORKBUCKET (grudgingly): Closer.

STUDENT (in an epiphany): Hey ... it's kind of like ... THE HOLY GRAIL OF NON-BEING!

PROF. HORKBUCKET (in a low voice): You getting hot yet?

So I admit I kind of sympathize with the Russians on this one. And get this: the male model isn't even the best part of the article. No, the indisputable best part is the photograph of the chic young bosom-intensive cutie humping -- purely in the academic sense of that word, you understand -- a stuffed tiger. Though, as a scholastic-type, I cannot help but observe this raises the following troubling questions:

- Do they sanitize the tiger between each use?
- Can tigers get human crabs?
- Can crabs get human tigers?
- Do you think the tiger ever gets tired? Or does he just smoke a little cigarette after each "lecture," and then bounce back, good to go?
- Do you think there's any point in my thinking up these questions anymore inasmuch as you guys are all off googling the picture of the chick humping the tiger anyway so actually I can do whatever I want now OOGY BOOGY BOOGY BOOGY BOOGYBOOGYBOOGYBOOGYBOOGYBOOGYBOOGY that was fun?

Still, in conclusion, I must depart on a somber note**** to my fellow young persons: young persons, after you engage in tender moments, ALWAYS remember to sanitize your tiger. There is no excuse to do otherwise. Plus, in some institutions, doing so may get you college credit.

* But before you call me new frontier, remember to punch "7" to dial out.
** I suspect this was because many of these words contained funny letters, which was in itself highly suspicious.
*** Like sometimes the cafeteria serves International Food.

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How To Practice Singing When Left Alone At Work (for musical theatre practitioners, or those for whom the workplace is the new shower)

Step 1. Sing loudly in the back room, where no one can see you.
Step 2. Pause every 15 seconds or so, to peek out and make sure the coast is clear.
Step 3. If coast is clear, resume.
Step 4. If customer slips in without your notice, canter out in cheery fashion, providing subtle commentary as follows: "Whoo-hoo-HOO! That RADIO, which MYSTERIOUSLY TURNS OFF whenever I exit the back room, sure does sound like ME, only more INCANDESCENT and TOE-TAPPING, but definitely ISN'T me! What?! Leaving already? Have a good one!"
Step 5. Repeat from Step 1.

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Comic Con, Never Mind That It Has Ended: Special Gate 35 Edition

At the airport now, sitting by as erstwhile Comic Con goers squawk at each other in funny voices and consume large quantities of foods with "Mc" in their names. I will miss this dynamic place.

So, howzabout you? Anyone else out there get to the Con? Any good stories? Anecdotes? Try and top my Hello Kitty Toilet Paper. C'mon. Try, punk.

The Comic Con, Days Five and Six: Now With Less Comic Con

I didn't go back to the Comic Con. Instead, we went to the San Diego Zoo, where we witnessed violent Galapagos tortoise sex (complete with violent Galapagos tortoise sex noises), as well as one particular monkey who behaved in a perfectly urbane manner until her audience consisted of several small children, at which time she decided to display herself brazenly.

So all that was missing was the Pikachu ass.

Also (and this bit was the highlight of my young life so far) I saw a striped hyena. It was sleeping, but still, I saw it:

As my father put it: "You're probably the only person who can see a hyena and go 'awwww.'" I disagree. There have to be a few others. Although being on death row probably makes it hard to go to the zoo.

Meanwhile, the party's over, and tonight it's back to the Deep North, land of ... the place where I work. I'm thinking of riding the giant Pikachu ass out to sea, where we will live in sin in Tijuana. But don't tell anybody.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Comic Con, Day Four, For Real: You Want Ginseng With That Light Saber?

We all travel for different reasons. Some, to discover adventure. Some, to discover challenge. Some, simply to discover their own selves.

Some of us, to discover Hello Kitty toilet paper:

I can only hope you are as fulfilled as I.

And, as if that wasn't enough to fortify me for life, I went Pokémon shopping, whereupon I had the following exchange with a booth merchant:

ME: Do you have Caterpie?
MERCHANT: Nah. You could check back later, though.
ME: Oh, you restock?

Meanwhile, next to me:

THIRTY-SOMETHING SHOPPER: ... and I want a Nidorino, and a Metapod, and a Mewtwo, and two Gravelers. Uh ... this is for somebody else.
MERCHANT: How about an Arcanine?
THIRTY-SOMETHING SHOPPER: I already have Arcanine. (beat) Uh ... this is for somebody else.

(Pokémon shopping, incidentally, is awesome, certainly the only avocation in which you can say things like "one Jolteon, please," and your salesperson will say things like, "Comin' right up!")

But the best moment of all, bar none, was seeing the one brave soul standing outside, in the throng of froth-mouthed comic lovers, holding up a sign that read, quote, "GNC NOW OPEN."

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Comic Con Snarku (or, The Comic Con, Day Four: Preface)

Me no snark tonight.
Snark me do in morning 'cause
Me have refreshing beverages tonight with extra syllables.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Comic Con, Day Three: A Quicky, on Highly Suspicious Behavior

What is it with people being NICE here? Not fake nice, but, like, LEGITIMATE nice. Take the war zone-style drugstore we went into yesterday, which was being converted into another drugstore, and therefore filled with loads of people hurtling every which way carrying heavy things.  Yet when we wanted to know where to find the Bacitracin, every employee within a five-aisle radius cheerfully helped us, instantly abandoning all the things they were doing, such as transporting shelving. In other places they would have spat on you. In certain places they would have taken care to connect the shelving to your face. Here, they cheerfully helped you, and would not rest till you and your Bacitracin had found one another and went home awwww safe and snuggly. 

I'm disturbed.

That said, speaking as a Manhattanite, I am heartened to learn on this, my first-ever trip to California, that -- whatever differences, cultural, spiritual and otherwise, may exist between our two coasts -- the vagrants here still yell at everybody who walks past.

Meanwhile, at the Comic Con, I achieved many fine achievements, such as acquiring a Mythbusters tote bag and graphic novels I didn't even want.  And I went to Sea World, which, besides being a fun-filled adventure for the whole family*, features many lithe, muscular persons of pleasing genders.   

So, actually, I am not really THAT disturbed.

* Not that I am naming your family PERSONALLY.**
** At least I hope not.

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Comic Con, Day Two: Rise and Shine and Snark

Greetings from Pacific Time, where I commenced my day bright and early, courtesy of my body. Now this had heretofore been a relatively inoffensive vehicle, with which I had enjoyed a basically harmonious coexistence save for a dislocated toe or two and a disconcerting tendency to store lipids:

ME: gnuhh
ME: No, no.  It's only--
ME: Look out the window.  Look, it's dark outside, see? It's all a misundersta--
ME: Let's just go back t--
ME: --just another ten minu--
ME: --five mi--
ME: Okay! Okay! Up now! You happy?

So we got up, enabling us to go to the Comic Con, which had obligingly continued to be person-intensive, especially in the "Professionals" line, the main criterion for entry into which had evidently been the following question:

Q. Have you, at any time, breathed using lungs or a similar appendage?

But we did eventually gain entry, thereby enabling my father to do his scheduled book signing, during which time I contemplated working on my laptop until a personage in the know informed me that Wi-Fi use would cost me $500,000 per minute plus "the retina of my choice," at which point I settled for more economical recreations such as listening to persons holler things like: "YOU GOTTA BUFFY CALENDAR???" Also: "BUT I WANNA BUFFY CALENDAR!!!" 

Our entry also allowed us the fulfilling cultural experience of seeing a lot of -- and I say this with the utmost sensitivity and respect -- Wonko McNerdwads carrying light sabers.  Not that I am suggesting this is ALL there is to the San Diego Comic Con International, an immense institution that has been going forty years strong, bringing joy to millions of comic lovers.  No, for there is also the Great Looming Pikachu Ass of Death*:

And if you have not experienced the GLPAD, you, Sir and/or Madam, have not lived, and I pity you.

More wonders coming soon.  

P.S. And I haven't even told you yet about my most fulfilling cultural experience of all out here, namely observing that (a) this city is populated by many rickshaws and (b) many of these rickshaws are driven by visually pleasing young men.  Also (c) the rickshaw drivers in the city I come from would use these guys as appetizers.

P.P.S. California features In-N-Out Burger.  The legends are true.

* And you just know he was allowed to enter as a Professional.

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Comic Con, Day One: Ass-Sitting Across America

As you may gather from the headline, very little of note took place today. This is because my father and I spent the lion's share of the day reveling in the sedentary joys of Incontinental Airlines (name has been changed), in our tireless quest to discover that there is pretty much no U.S. spot further from where we live.

So right now, just before I go to bed, please bear in mind that I am still on parka-clad lobster-eating moose time and therefore not in my right mind, as I share the following penetrating insights:

* I am located in California.
* I did not actually go into the Comic Con today. But, I went near the Comic Con.
* The Comic Con features people.
* Such that going near it seemed good enough, actually.
* The Comic Con is located in California.
* We had Thai food for dinner.
* California features Thai food.
* The Thai food was located in California.

I promise more penetrating insights tomorrow, like maybe about the hotel vending machine. (HINT: The hotel vending machine features Pepsi.)

* California features Pepsi.

(c)2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Monday, July 20, 2009

Comic Con Carne

For those who wish more bloggy goodness:

My apologies for the sporadic postings, lately and anytime. I have no good excuse, except that long hours at an uneventful job make for anemic snarking ("I sold people ice cream today." "Sold people ice cream again today." "More ice cream customers. Who-HOA! This would appear to be highly suspicious." Etc.)

But I'll try and pick up the pace this and next week, as I provide commentary from the San Diego Comic Con, where I am reliably informed that (a) wackiness will ensue and (b) no one will try to buy ice cream from me. So stay tuned!

And for those who don't wish more bloggy goodness -- my condolences.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Random nugget o' the highly suspicious

So why is it that, on positively any "light rock" station in any burg nationwide, you will hear an incidental clip of a chanteuse moaning the station's name as though she clearly wishes to exchange bodily materials with it, as follows:


Seriously. What gives? As we say in academia, Explain.

A. Huh?
B. Whaaaa?
C. When you are bored at work, you should definitely stick to posting videos of guys figure skating.
D. Numbers are hot, moron.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

There's Something About You Next To That Toaster

I opened up the mailbox the other day to learn that 141 New Yorkers wish to "hook up" with me. This is the kind of news that can really boost your morale, until you think of the 24, 495 social diseases you will (at a conservative estimate) contract, and then it is the kind of news that can really remind you to take your Flintstones vitamin.* Naturally the purveyor of this bulletin was Time Out New York, the same estimable publication that routinely instructs its readership in how to do the nasty, something even your standard-issue australopithecine generally mastered without ever picking up an issue of Time Out New York.**

Of course you ask me the obvious question: So if it offends your itty-witty sensibiwwities SOOOO much, whyja keep READING it, HUH? Well, friend, evidently you are unaware that as a highly socially conscious member of the Next Generation, a leader among Leaders of Tomorrow, I answer to an impulse than which there is no loftier intellectual, nay, moral reason: I have a free subscription. Nothing is quite so compelling as free stuff. Take my kitchenware last year, namely, free plastic cups from Subway. I never actually got around to using them or anything, but the point is they were free. Each time I amassed a new one, I would dutifully place it by my bedside, then forget its existence forever afterwards. Though come to think of it, I did awaken each day in the throes of a raging, inexplicable urge to Eat Fresh.

But back to my 141 paramours, all anonymous, all staring out at me from tiny squares on the page, like so many e. coli. No indication of identities, save for an icon indicating each individual's preferred gender (Little Blue Person, Little Pink Person, or combo thereof) and a snappy self-encapsulation, such as this honey, transcribed verbatim:

"I love kung fu movies and sleepy morning sex."

I don't mind telling you I spent some time in straining to wind my mind round this young woman's weltanschauung. I suffered from sleep problems for upwards of twenty seconds before I determined the source of my disquiet. Frankly, I think she comes within a hair's breadth of showing great promise -- if only she went in for sleepy morning kung fu. (Potential life partners take note. We'll talk. Let's do bubble tea.)

Yet this lovely, near-perfection though she may be, pales in comparison to the dude (seeking Little Pink Person) who declares:

"I need a woman who looks sexy next to the stove."

Not that I am suggesting for a moment that we should pigeonhole these people based on one tiny statement they make about themselves. No, instead, we should pigeonhole them based on what I say about them. For example, we must consider the very real possibility that this young man's statement indicates a grave psychological condition whereby life cannot be endured until every appliance in Creation is flanked by the mammal of his choice. Not until every stove is adjacent a woman, every refrigerator a chipmunk, every microwave by a Pygmy Sperm Whale, can he achieve the cosmic balance he so dearly craves. Therefore we should all take care to show certain touches of solicitude toward this tortured soul. For example, we should definitely not make any more totally coincidental references to Pygmy Sperm, which we will quit doing right after this totally coincidental reference to Pygmy Sperm.

But I'll tell you who runs the greatest risk of stimulating New York's loins to Tilt-A-Whirl velocity. That would be the funky mademoiselle (you can tell she is funky because of her glasses) who synopsizes herself as follows:

"Likes include buttermilk biscuits and power ballads."

Sapristi! Could it be? For all our hopes and our dreams, our neuroses and needs, our travels and our education, our pursuits intellectual, artistic, creative, and entrepreneurial -- do we in fact, at our very cores, boil down to a cookie and a song? How am I to deal with this revelation, so unexpected, so sudden, but by clinging to thoughts of you, you and your funky glasses, as they lead the rest of us into a funky future? You open my eyes, La Funky. You are the wind beneath my wings. And the power ballad beneath my buttermilk biscuits.

And yet, no matter how ducky it may look to be such a human specimen, we must bear in mind that they too undergo trials and tribulations, even life crises. For corroboration, let us look to her fictional journal:

Dear Diary,
Could I have been wrong? It eats my soul. I think I'm - I'm -
[words obscured by splat of projectile tears] - actually into FIG NEWTONS. What can be next? Is this the end of life as I know it? [smudge of anguished mucus]
And yet -- and yet there's always that little voice in my head, Diary, the one that says I should take up a hobby. Hum. Time Out New York, the publication that tells which body bits to use for sex, says there are free ballet classes on Saturdays. You know, dance, the art form that, while wordless, conveys an astounding wealth of human emotion, communicated entirely through extraordinary athleticism and artistry? Maybe I could ...
... aaaAAAAAaaaggghhh! No! Noooo! What am I saying! Get a hold of yourself! Life is
cookies! COOKIES! Gnaahh!! What is to become of me?! Am I to go rogue and take up Mint Milanos? MALLOMARS??? How am I to go on? Life is barren. Maybe listening to a power ballad will make it better. Ahhh, YouTube, bringer of strength -- why, there's my favorite, the iconic 1971 Coke commercial with hopeful young persons singing on a hillside! That's a power ballad, right? Funny how I'm not exactly sure, just for the purposes of this diary entry.

Phew! What a load off. After all that soul-searching, politics, religion, Little League, etc., isn't it just the most delicious feeling to know we will never need to identify with anything much ever again. To think we might have gone to the extremes of having a favorite book, of God forbid writing a book, when if we'd just opened the right magazine, we'd have known all along that life need not mean more than cookies and ballads and sleepy morning kung fu and sex appeal as measured by appliance proximity. Bless free subscriptions! Without them, how should we ever know the proper way to view existence? And on the back there's a coupon for a free manicure.

* Pebbles, in my case, if you were wondering. And you know you were.
** Instead, they read Time Out Pangaea.

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Je fais de la snarque

I've begun to master a second language, which is pretty impressive, especially when you consider I never mastered a first. This summer, I have been taking private lessons in my second language, French. This has had a profound effect on my language skills, as evidenced by the following table:

Actually, this is not quite true. The truth is I can remember plenty of words in either language at any given moment, provided I am trying at that moment to speak the other language. Naturally, the time this hits hardest is during French lessons, in which my memory routinely becomes so feeble that I am forced to communicate with my teacher entirely via accent-thingies.

(in collaboration with Berlitz)

Which means many of our conversations end up going something like this:

MY TEACHER: Bon soir.
ME: ´^´´^``.

(Translation: "This feels sticky get a load of those pecs this feels sticky this feels sticky get a load of those pecs you have two weeks to live you have two weeks to live.")

At first this bugged me, seeing as I had prided myself on a certain level of ability to go around thinking in French. This only stood to reason; after all, I have watched all 3,359 episodes of French in Action*, the esteemed French-teaching TV series which teaches the language (French) via the adventures of a young woman named Mireille, thereby sedulously communicating the academic principle that Mireille does not wear a bra. So I was pretty stumped about my linguistic issues, until one day I had an insight. It's not that I don't think in French; it's that I think in English at the same time, the result being that any given moment finds both languages warring, battle-bot-style, for linguistic supremacy inside my brain. In a perfect world, this would let up occasionally, so that I could devote my time to nice non-linguistic tasks, such as toenail maintenance, or reading the New York Times. Meanwhile English and French, exhausted from all that activity, would take a nap, or smoke cigarettes. But no. Neither language ever quits.

Fortunately this comes in handy, since I happen to work at an establishment in which many of the customers are Francophone tourists. Which has enabled me to compile the

(in collaboration with Purina)

You are French, eh? Hah! I spit on your accent-thingies!: Vous êtes français, é? Hàh! Je spittes sur vos thingies d'accent!

Oh. Canadian? Sorry, my mistake.: Oh. Vous êtes canadiens? Désolé, mon badde.

Then perhaps you would like to leave large wads of cash in my tip jar: Eh bien, peut-être vous voudriez laisser des grandes waddes d'argent dans mon jarre de tippes. (25% surcharge Canadian)

No tip, eh? Perhaps you would like to reconsider that decision before I unleash my army of trained wolverines for to feast on your sorry flesh: Bon soir.

And there's no need to be shy. In the context of my workplace, it wouldn't much matter what I attempted to say to the Canadian tourists, who are endlessly polite and gracious when American salespeople attempt their language, and I dare say would guide me through the conversation no matter what ("Oh! Vous spittez sur nos thingies d'accent, do vous?"). The sorriest part, in my case, is that even non-French speakers outclass me in Francophone ability, as evidenced by this recent exchange between me and my sister, who possesses only a casual** knowledge of the language, but is wont in her native tongue to answer all manner of things I say with "So what do you want, a medal?":

ME: J'ai mal à la tête.
MY SISTER (sweetly, after thinking a moment): Veux-tu un medallion?

Nonetheless, even such episodes as this one do not dishearten me in my linguistic pursuits. I am ever content to keep on "trucking," because only with the utmost perseverance can we ever hope to achieve our goals. Or, as the French say, ^^``^`´´´^`´.

* And if by chance anybody else out there has had the pleasure of this experience, won't you join me now: THESE PEOPLE SPEAK FRENCH! IN THIS COURSE, EVERYBODY SPEAKS...
** This means she and French wear T-shirts when they do lunch.

2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Urban Snarktionary: Transit Edition

Following last week's acclaimed definition of "Duane Reade" (and what, exactly, does "Duane Reade" mean to you? Explain), the Urban Snarktionary is back, for to define those metropolitan mysteries that, at some point or other, have gripped every one of us to the point of mild curiosity. Today's definition: card  n. the pass that allows you to use the subway, or would, if you had any more than five cents left on your current one, which you don't. This is because the system works as follows: subway fare is two dollars a ride, with an imminent fare hike the mere mention of which sends any New Yorker into a white-hot, spittle-emitting HEY!! WHUDDAYOUMEANBYTHAT??!! I HATE YOUR MOTHER!!!, so the fare you should put on your MetroCard is, ideally, $2.00, or some multiple thereof.* However, you will not do this. Adding $2.00 requires you to input the amount manually, which is something we fast-paced city-dwellers will do over sno-cones in hell, because our action-packed existences in this booming conurbation leave us no time for anything beyond gritty life necessities such as Tasti-D-Lite consumption. Instead, we will opt every time for the whonky-ass "ready-made" amounts, such as $6.05 or $7.10, offered by the MetroCard terminal. These amounts serve the invaluable purpose of leaving you, in the end, with .05 or $1.10 in unuseable fare. Then you can sedulously memorize which MetroCard has which amount on it so you can go back to the terminal next time and apply the difference on $2.00.  Then you say the hell with it and buy a new MetroCard. This is how we at the Urban Snarktionary have accumulated a shoebox full of MetroCards with an estimated combined value of $3.9 trillion, which the Transit Authority ("Unintelligible Transmission That Means We Are Skipping Your Stop And Dumping You At One Hundred Millionth Street Ha Ha Ha Since 1953") is way too smart to ever let us use. Though one day, of course, we will "face the music": sighing heavily, we will take all our MetroCards to a terminal, and reload each one of them with the appropriate amount. Right after we finish our sno-cone. n. hee hee hee

* At least for the moment grumblegrumblespittle.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dude, Where's My Hyphen?

There comes a certain occasion for all of us – that terrifying, yet all too magical rite of passage in which, passion flooding our young senses, we lose our hyphen. Not that I wish to name names, but:

I wouldn't know about this, if not for summer vacation. This is just the kind of thing you miss out on in The City, where the urban media are way too busy shoving its sissy-ass “international unrest” and “presidential elections” down your throat to be bothered with the REAL news. The City spits on world dehyphenization affairs, and if you don’t believe me, consider the city motto.*

Of course it’s easy to understand why Wal “Now With Less Hyphens” Mart would want to repackage itself. Back in the old days, the store was a miserable, blue-aproned mega-corpse; whereas now, it’s a miserable, blue-aproned mega-corpse featuring … WHOA-BABY!!! A flagrant lack of HYPHEN!!! In my FACE!!! Somebody restrain me lest I commit BRAZEN CARNAL ACTS with MULTIPLE STORE ASSOCIATES AT ONCE!!!!!!**

So this is a very exciting development in Walmartland, but still, I have some concerns about this act of mass hyphen removal, seeing as it poses a grave threat to the nation’s hyphen resources. So where do you think all those extra hyphens go, anyway? My theory: the economic stimulus package. Clearly, the government is secretly hoarding these hyphens to give to economically strapped individuals in this time of crisis.

Q: Will this provide these individuals with financial security?
A: No.

Q: Will it provide them with jobs?
A: No.

Q: Will it do squat?
A: Yes. Or possibly we mean no. We forget how this question works.

Q: Speaking of these trying times, how about that public library in your town opening an eatery in the reference room, huh?
A: Shut your dirty, interrogative face. Everyone knows the old adage, “There’s nothing quite like going down to the local library and curling up with a good wiener.”***

Q: And speaking of the highly suspicious, how about that song lyric on the radio just now? The one that went, “Why do I see rainbows when I hold you in my arms?”
A: We believe this may suggest a thyroid problem.

It is only natural that desperate financial times should call for desperate financial measures, but in this case the solution is simple: Europe should sell off its excess verb tenses.**** Does anyone realize how many of these there are? French alone has 759 totally unnecessary tenses*****, a few of which I will illustrate here, by speaking English:



The present

It is raining.

The past

It was raining.

The present-past

It is was raining.

The past-future-present

It was will be is raining.

The present-participle

It is raining participles.

The future-creamsicle

One day, this rain will have a creamy center.

The ablative

(closed Thursdays)

The consumptive

It (COUGH) (HACK) (SPLOIT) raining.

The pleasingly-plumptive

Ten Quarter Pounders, please.

Just imagine if they were to sell off even half their unnecessary tenses. The global economy would swell to bursting. It would conjugate in the pleasingly-plumptive.****** And France would still have plenty of tenses left over for itself. Maybe, if we asked nicely, it would even give us some of the leftovers. Then we could put them up where the Walmart hyphens used to be, like this:

Still: where, oh where, have these hyphens gone? It’s a mystery, and the weight is on our shoulders to solve it. We must, therefore, apply our mystery-solving skills. Not to brag or anything, but at the tender age of 15, I personally watched several episodes of the BBC mystery series "Campion", starring actor Peter Davison. The series illustrates many invaluable mystery-solving principles for one to assimilate, which, unfortunately, I missed because I was too busy assimilating actor Peter Davison. So actually, what I mean to say is, it’s a mystery, and the weight is on YOUR shoulders to solve it.

Which is to say, whew! All this global-ill-eradicating makes me hungry. I could go for some library food. Feel free to join me, if you like. I’ll be curious to hear your take on these matters, inasmuch as my judgment is often questionable. For example, I see rainbows when I hold you in my arms.

* “We Spit on World Dehyphenization Affairs.”
** DISCLAIMER: The Snark Ascending does NOT endorse carnal acts with Walmart store associates. However, bonus points apply if you make it with the Associate of the Month.
*** This has its charm, but you may incur a fine.
**** Duh.
***** Source: Muscle Fitness.
****** Hee! “Conjugate.”

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending