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