4

Random Thought Of The Day: Love Is…

Today, I gave chocolates and hand cream to my favorite Starbucks barista.

I mean, she smiles at me, tells bad jokes, and gives me caffeine, which makes her basically either my girlfriend or a secretary from a 1960s sitcom.

Happy Valentine’s Day, readers.

In other news, I just started writing my 16 snail mail letters for 2016, and I’m currently only at 9 takes. So, if you’re reading this, I’ve got seven more letters to send, so email me your snail mail address at jacobh1021 at yahoo dot com!

And if you haven’t yet, hop on over to my Terrible Hallmark Valentine’s Day Movie Generator and post a comment.

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48

The Terrible Hallmark Valentine’s Day Movie Generator

I actually had a lot of fun making the Overly Dramatic Memoir Generator, and since my chill-out activity of choice these days is late-night Golden Girls marathons on Hallmark, I’ve encountered a whole lot of…commercials for really terrible sounding movies for Valentine’s Day. Seriously, why make another romantic blah-dee-blah when we have enough to watch one every day for fifty years in case we get trapped in an underground bunker while we wait for the nuclear waste to settle and the Earth to become habitable again?

Step 1: She’s a… (first letter of your first name)

A: Single

B: Widowed

C: Divorced

D: Unhappy

E: Sensitive

F: Depressed

G: Over-the-hill

H: Newly single

I: Hopelessly Romantic

J: Unlucky

K: Innocent

L: Lovesick

M: Love-lorn

N: Warm-hearted

O: Cold-hearted

P: Aging

Q: Elderly

R: Nubile

S: Young

T: Prideful

U: Unusual

V: Vain

W: Frustrated

X: Psychotic

Y: Misunderstood

Z: Fabulous

Step 2: Who is she? (month of your birth)

January: Movie Star

February: Telephone Operator

March: Ice Skater

April: Grandmother

May: Chocolatier

June: Sanitation Worker

July: Hairdresser

August: Beekeeper

September: Schoolteacher

October: Secretary

November: Call Girl

December: Lounge Singer.

Step 3: He’s a… (first letter of your last name, Step 1 List)

Step 4: Who is he? (color of your shirt)

Red: Meth Addict

Orange: Actor

Yellow: Sideshow Performer

Green: Police Officer

Blue: Surgeon

Purple: Dentist

Pink: Home Economics Teacher

Brown: Traveling Salesman

Black: Rabbi

Any Other Color: Nobody

Step 5: What happens when they… (date of your birth)

1: Start a business together?

2: Fall in a manhole together?

3: Wake up in an abandoned castle together?

4: Casually exchange glances over sippy cups?

5: Become neighbors?

6: Fight over a parking spot in front of Radio Shack?

7: Accidentally witness a federal crime?

8: Accidentally commit a federal crime?

9: Meet in a unisex handicapped bathroom?

10: Have root canals in adjacent chairs?

11: Sit together at bingo?

12: Get shipwrecked on an uncharted island?

13: Run into each other crossing the street because they’re idiots with no conception of physical space?

14: Adopt the same cat?

15: End up handcuffed together by a magician at a six-year-old’s birthday party?

16: Coach competing cheerleading squads?

17: Have to pick up trash by the side of the road as community service?

18: Get drafted into the army?

19: Walk into a plate glass window?

20: Reach for the same library book?

21: Get seated next to each other at a lesbian wedding?

22: Bump into each other at a Nickelback concert?

23: Accidentally switch bodies?

24: Accidentally switch cell phones?

25: Accidentally switch dressing rooms at Kohl’s?

26: Get jobs at Target?

27: Work the same corner?

28: Shyly smile at one another while picking up their dog’s poop in the local park?

29: Rob the same liquor store at the same time?

30: Discover they kissed at summer camp?

31: Figure out that they might be related?

Find out this Feburary 14 in Terrible Valentine’s Day Movie, 8/7 central, only on Hallmark.

My movie?

“She’s an unlucky secretary. He’s a newly single nobody. What happens when they get seated next to each other at a lesbian wedding?”

Hallmark: Television for People Who Live in a Jodi Picoult Novel

Oh, and hooray hooray for a six continent day! North America (Canada and USA), South America (Brazil), Europe (UK, Greece, Netherlands, Ireland and Romania), Asia (India, Philippines and UAE), Africa (Zambia) and Oceania (Australia).

14

The Safe House, Zap Mama, and Friends

I actually had a great post prepared for yesterday, but I decided to go to visit WeKache in Milwaukee for the weekend, so that never got done.

So, yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been a huge Valentine’s Day person, but I acknowledge its existence, and it seems like most of the world does the same. This year, however, everyone went batshit insane over Valentine’s Day. On Friday, one of my classmates said that he and his wife had booked dinner for Valentine’s Day over a month in advance. I thought he was just being silly, but oh my lord, there was absolutely nowhere to eat dinner that night. I think that coupled with a weekend, especially a Saturday night, made people more susceptible to eating out. After we called a few places that ended up having two-hour-long waits, we decided to go a nearby mall and try our luck. It was already 9:30 PM, and PF Chang’s had a 90 minute wait. They did say that bar seating was open, first come first serve. Stupidly, we didn’t wait nor put down our names, and went to try Maggiano’s at the other end of the mall instead, to find the exact same story, minus the bar seating. WeKache wanted to phone it in and just go home and cook something, but I wanted to go back to PF Chang’s and try for bar seating. We got back and the wait was still that long, but eventually we got a table and a more-than-decent meal. The only thing they were out of was the banana spring rolls, so we went for chocolate cake for dessert instead. We shared tofu lettuce wraps that were to die for, I had the Hunan fish, and WeKache had the beef and broccoli. Adding a coconut cooler (for him) and a sangria (for me) led to a ridiculous check of $60, but we tipped generously since our poor waiter had been dealing with a crazy crowd and the food was good and didn’t take that long to arrive, comparatively.

Today, we slept in, had brunch at WeKache’s place, then headed out through the snow (yes, it snowed) to Starbucks to get some work done, after which we would get dinner. After reading 120 pages for Indian Theatre, I was checking my email and suddenly realized that I had bought tickets for Zap Mama at Memorial Union, for tonight at 8.

It was 5.

Whoops.

After a minor freak-out on my part, we packed up, jumped in the car, and went to one of the restaurants we called the night before, a place I have been dying to go to, called The Safe House. They were considerably less busy than the previous night when we called, and we were only 12 minutes away, so we went.

The Safe House is a spy-themed restaurant in a building called “International Exports Ltd.” After parking and saying “heyyy!” to the sculpture of The Fonz on the nearby Riverwalk, we headed inside a tiny room, where a woman asked us for the password. I gave it my best shot, but of course I was wrong, so she told us to put our backs against the wall. Fortunately, at that moment, a handyman walked in, and the woman pressed a button, opening a swinging bookcase that led to the entrance. Ever the rule-breaker, WeKache walked in behind him even though he wasn’t supposed to, while I stayed and answered the woman’s question of when the Berlin Wall was built (1961, on my third try, which impressed her) and she opened the bookcase for me. Behind the bookcase was a short mirrored hall, at the end of which, a wall opened, revealing the interior of the restaurant.

The restaurant itself was a feat of architecture. After we were seated and had ordered, we were encouraged to look around. There was tons of spy memorabilia, from James Bond posters to a Checkpoint Charlie sign, and several hidden doors, behind one of which was a phone booth. Each little area had a different spy-related theme, from the KGB to the German Underground, and it was pretty awesome. The food was a bit on the small and overpriced side, but service was quick and the atmosphere was worth it. The waitress even got into it, calling us “spies” rather than customers. I checked my geocaching app for some reason, and it turned out there was a geocache inside the restaurant! So, I went to the bartender, and she pulled it out: an ammo box full of goodies that has been there since 2002. 

We finished our meal, but then realized…we didn’t know how to get out. We certainly couldn’t go the way we came, so we asked a waitress, who responded, “Go find the phone booth and put in a quarter.”

So we did, and as I picked up the phone, a message played, with a number combination. Once I dialed the number, the wall opened up to a cold underground tunnel, which led us to the exit. What a crazy experience.

After I got all my stuff from WeKache’s apartment, I said goodbye and drove my snow-covered car back to Madison. According to my GPS, I was due to make it home at 8:11, eleven minutes after the beginning of the concert.

Shit, shit shit.

Nevertheless, I pressed on, and once in the car, flew down the road, despite being dead tired. I made it home at 8:05 and walked into the Union at about 8:12. Fortunately, my ticket was still there and the show had just barely started, so I headed in. And I wasn’t the only one who was late – a huge group of at least 10 people walked in behind me – so I didn’t feel so bad as I headed to my seat in the first row of the mezzanine.

I actually came across Zap Mama randomly while doing research for a paper on Ruined by Lynn Nottage (ironically, what my parents were watching at Everyman Theatre in Baltimore at that very moment) and found some songs on YouTube which I liked. The group is headed up by the incredibly talented and energetic Marie Daulne who was just as gorgeous onstage in her black dress as she is on her album cover. Hailing from Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zap Mama has sung their “polyphonic urban African hip-hop” since 1991, on albums and in movies like Tortilla Soup and Mission Impossible II.

Marie Daulne of Zap Mama

I was not as familiar with their set list, or with their co-musical act Antibalas, but the sheer joy of Daulne and her backup singers made up for that. The only song I recognized was “African Sunset,” originally done by Miriam Makeba. In the middle of the show, Zap Mama left the stage and Antibalas performed, but they came back for a funky Afro-inspired rendition of Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me,” which I couldn’t help but sing along to. As the concert progressed, more and more people got up and danced, and by the last song, I was one of them. I danced until the end of the encore, which was at 10:30, making it one hell of a concert. For most of the concert though, I was in my seat dancing like this:

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And now I am back home.

All in all, I had a great weekend, productive and fun, the kind that my younger self always wanted to have: dinner with friends at a funky restaurant, some fun driving, a concert at night, the real ideal “twenty-something” life.

Oh, and according to my statistics, yesterday I was visited by my 100th unique country of the year, Hungary, so there’s that to celebrate.

 

0

Knock-Knock, Who’s There?

First of all, big welcome to visitors from my three newest countries: Austria (wilkommen!), Mexico (bienvenidos!) and Guam (hafa adai!). And an even special welcome to getting visits from all 50 states with my first click from Montana. In your honor, I will post a picture of your flag.

Well that was fun.

Wouldn’t it be disappointing if that was it?

Anyway, second of all, where did all the people who were visiting my blog go? Please come back. I had over 600 of you the other day; what did I do wrong? Was it something I said? Can we patch things up?

But that’s not the actual post either.

So, I don’t know what’s going on with me lately – maybe an advanced case of frost on the brain, because it’s halfway to March and it’s still so fucking cold – but there has been weird stuff going on around me.

Maybe I’m spending too much time alone, but I’ve been hearing weird noises in my apartment. Not just at night, but during the day as well. I mean, there are the normal sounds – cars, motorcycles, garbage trucks, loud music playing, people talking, blenders whirring, and when I’m in my bathroom, the farts, flushes, and showers of the people above/below me (totally gross, btw, and one of the reasons I can’t wait to leave here) – but then there are sounds.

Some of the sounds are perfectly normal in context, like knocking on a door. Sometimes I hear other people’s apartment doors being knocked on, but I know when it’s mine. The past few days, I’ve been hearing a very near knocking sound, and this morning actually rushed to my door, finding no one there. Also, there’s tapping, like someone is gently tapping on the walls. Sometimes, in the area of the refrigerator, I hear a snap/crackle sound, like the fridge is adjusting itself.

I’m not sure I believe in ghosts; I certainly haven’t seen any, and other than that one day in the religion center where a stereo spontaneously started playing in the Hillel Lounge in front of me and two witnesses, not much in the way of supernatural experiences. But if this building’s haunted, I deserve the right to know.

I don’t want to wake up one morning to see…this.

Yes, I’m looking at you, Jennifer Connelly.

Wait…I don’t have a tub.

Phew.

Safe for now.