Job Opportunities For The Underemployed (Six Potential Jobs I’m Seriously Considering)

Like any legit financial genius would do, I’m always evaluating and re-evaluating my money situation. A few months back I took a look at my cash flow and realized there was no actual flow, just a rapid bloody hemorrhaging. After calculation upon calculation, I finally figured out what was happening. I hadn’t been on the receiving end of “income” in about 10 months. Apparently money only flows one way when you don’t have any coming in.

After squeezing every penny out of my stock market plays, my online gambling website and any family members who were dumb enough to believe that I was self-producing a movie and needed donations, I did what any person would do as his last resort for income: I got a job.

Over the past four months I’ve been making lead generation cold calls for a software company from my couch. It’s part-time work that nearly covers my monthly living expenses. When I agreed to this job (which is way, waaaaaay below my qualifications as a former sales wunderkind, but that’s another discussion for another day), I liked the plan. Work about 20 hours per week, have enough time to continue pursuing my writing, and make enough money that my savings account status goes from “rapid hemorrhaging” to “controlled bleed.”

And so far it’s pretty much worked out how I expected. But soon enough there will come a time when I probably want to make more money than “just enough to come up short of my living costs.” Isn’t that every American’s dream?

Here are some of the supplemental job opportunities that I’d be willing to consider to bring me from “voluntary poverty” to “upper lower class”:

  1. Los Angeles Apartment Hunter: This isn’t an actual title of an actual job, but I bet there are people out there willing to pay good money to have someone go to an apartment they’re potentially looking to rent and check it out for them. Let’s say you’re relocating from the East Coast but won’t have a chance to come look at apartments yourself. You could pay a stranger to visit the apartment, ask questions, take pictures, survey the safety of the neighborhood and haggle with the landlord about the security deposit. It wouldn’t surprise me if this type of job already exists. And I’d totally do it, but I’d get fired almost immediately. You know how I know that? Because last week a friend who is coming to LA for two months asked me to look at an apartment in West Hollywood that she might rent. And like any good friend, I helped her out. She asked for pictures and a general sense of the safety of the complex and surrounding neighborhood. I ended up getting about 14 good pictures of the living room, all from the same angle. No pictures of the bedroom or bathroom. One picture of the roof deck, but somehow I missed the pool and hot tub setup. I essentially asked zero questions to the woman who rents the place. And I spent the whole time thinking about how much it sucks that a five-mile drive home from this apartment might take 45 minutes. So while I think this could be a good part-time job, I just don’t think I have the eye for detail that’s needed for success.
  2. TaskRabbit Task Master: Are you familiar with this company, TaskRabbit? Probably only if you live in one of the nine cities they currently serve. It’s basically a forum where people who need a task done for them post a request, and then someone agrees to do that odd job for a certain amount of money (grocery shopping, yard work, delivery of 50 buffalo wings to a group of drunk poker-playing guys). So if you’re feeling lazy, you can post on the website that you want someone to buy your groceries and deliver them to you. And for about $40 (plus the cost of the groceries, obviously) someone will arrive at your house a few hours later with your grocery list fulfilled. The randomness of these jobs is endless. And if you spend some time on the site, you’ll see that there is quite the range when it comes to making money. I could make $300 one day by helping someone move out of his apartment, and then $15 the next day by delivering cupcakes to some unemployed weirdo who’s too lazy to get off his couch (though seeing someone who is an exact replica of me might be a mind-numbing experience). This idea has some potential, except for the fact that I don’t have a car most days, and I’m a little concerned I’d be the unlucky person who goes to clean someone’s gutters and it turns out he’s a psychopath who wants me to give him a handjob instead. Let’s move on.
  3. ChaCha Answer Master: The lazy man’s version of TaskRabbit. Instead of getting paid to perform odd jobs that may take you out of your house, you get paid to find answers to random questions people have while sitting on your couch. So if you’re at a bar arguing with a friend about how Grady Little should have never gotten another managing job in Major League Baseball after his 2003 meltdown with the Red Sox, and the friend says Grady Little never did get another job in baseball, you can text your question to ChaCha (242-242) and some fat slob will research the correct answer and send it to you within minutes. Why you wouldn’t just google the answer from the bar is beyond me, but this company exists so plenty of people must be going to it for answers. You may be surprised to know that I actually was a ChaCha answer person for a little while in 2010. But after spending about seven hours spread out over three days answering questions for all the idiots who use the service, I found out I had only made like $3.10 total. I decided it probably wasn’t the most lucrative job I could find at that time. I don’t think I’d consider this again unless I suffer a terrible injury and literally cannot leave my apartment.
  4. Company Name Thinker-Upper (aka “I Steal Your Money Right From Under Your Nose”): I stumbled upon this industry when I was researching a company for my current part-time job the other day. The company is Namella, and their value prop is that they’ll come up with the perfect name for your new company in 72 hours for only $97!!! It immediately struck me as a bold business venture, mostly because I think it’s absolute bullshit to pay someone to come up with your company name. You’re an entrepreneur, right? A creative, think-outside-the-box type of person? And you can’t even think of a good name for your company? On Namella’s customer success stories page, they give examples of the great names they’ve come up with for existing businesses. “John wanted a name that reflected his company being a real estate company but that it was a professional one that you would be glad to seek out. 72 long hours later, we came up with ‘ProSeek Properties’.” Or… “Janet wanted people to know that her technology services really are unlimited, so after a few all-nighters with the creative team here at Namella, we came up with ‘Limitless Tech Solutions’.” Brilliant! Hey, if people are dumb enough to pay you hundreds of dollars for you to not add any value to their company, by all means you should take it. That’s why I’m happy to announce my new business venture. It’s called “Ross Names Your Company Because You’re Too Stupid To Name Your Own Company.” Fortunately for my new customers, I only charge $96 and promise to give you the new name within 71 hours of your payment (*71 hour commitment not guaranteed if an important Boston sporting event is happening within that time period).
  5. Online Gambling Addict: On the one hand, I did make over $1,500 last year during football season on a combination of fantasy leagues, elimination pools and yes, online gambling. But on the other hand, it took five months to make that money, and football is the only sport that I know well enough to consistently make a profit. So the next step would be playing online poker all day long for money. Tempting, no doubt about it. I knew some guys in college who would constantly have four separate poker games going at once, and they made thousands of dollars by basically being patient and playing the odds. Unfortunately I don’t know the odds, don’t have the patience, and I’d feel like such a loser when my girlfriend came home from work every day to find me on my 11th straight hour of poker, hoping and praying that I make $100 before the night’s over. College Ross should have done this instead of going to those useless journalism classes.
  6. VOLCANOOO!!: OK, the name of the job isn’t volcano. But whenever I think about waiting tables one more time, the first thing I think of is my interview at RainForest Cafe in San Francisco eight years ago. Since I worked at Pizzeria Uno (or Uno Chicago Grill, whatever the fuck they call it) for three years, I thought I knew what I was getting into with working at another chain restaurant. But RainForest Cafe went to the next level. Any time it was someone’s birthday, you’d have to bring out the volcano dessert and scream “VOLCANOOO” at the top of your lungs until all the other servers joined you to sing the cheesy birthday song to the kid. And don’t get me started on their forest ranger uniforms. If I had taken that job, I would have absolutely stabbed myself in the neck with one of those sparklers that sits on top of the volcano. I’m pretty sure this guy wants to do the same thing:

So there you have it. My six best job opportunities right now, and they range from “undesirable” to “doesn’t actually exist as a job.” Perfect. I should have the cash needed for the tropical vacation I promised my girlfriend in no time.

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Prepare to Be Jealous of All the Celebrity Sightings From My First Year in LA

As with all things at the ol’ blogging headquarters lately, the “I’ve been living in LA for one year” blog is going to be late, probably by a year or so. June 1st was officially the one-year anniversary of me executing my half-assed scheme of coming to LA, getting hired to write for TV immediately, and then drowning in money for the rest of my life. That flawless-sounding plan hasn’t gone exactly how I expected. But soon enough all the pieces will fall into place. Until then, I guess I’m stuck blogging for free for all you freeloading blog readers.

Since I don’t have time for a full recap of the first 365 glorious days of my new life, I figured you’d at least want to know about all the amazing celebrity sightings my girlfriend and I have experienced over that time.

After all, it seems like you’d have to be a complete loser not to constantly be seeing celebrities all around this area.

Let’s run through this murderer’s row of incredible celebrity sightings:

1). Will Arnett

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Yes, Will Arnett is the closest thing we’ve seen to an A-list actor since we arrived in LA. Which is to say we haven’t come close to seeing a true A-list actor yet. But for fans of Arrested Development, Blades of Glory and Up All Night (not sure any fans of that show actually exist), this is a big score. We saw Will while hiking with our dog one day. Usually our dog has to stop and play with every other dog she sees on the trails, but for some reason she completely ignored Will’s dog…the one time we wanted her to go after another dog so he would have to stop and talk to us. I was ready to start pitching TV pilots with great characters for him to play, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Apparently Will has a role in the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot so his star is certainly on the rise.

2). Ian Gomez

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You know it’s a pathetic list when the #2 person on it is someone Julie and I couldn’t even name when we saw him multiple times at our favorite sports bar in Culver City. It took Julie hours of collaboration via text message with a friend of hers for us to finally figure out who the hell we were staring at. He’s this high on the list because he’s a regular on Cougar Town. Just the fact that he’s on a current TV show puts him ahead of most of the others on this list. He’s mainly a TV actor who started out way back in the 90’s on shows like Murphy Brown and Melrose Place. He’s credited with appearing in over 70 shows or films, but Cougar Town seems to be his first extended run of success on a single show.

3). Blake Anderson

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My personal favorite on this list. I’m not sure if it counts as a true sighting because I actually met him on the set of Workaholics when a friend of a friend brought me along to watch them tape an episode. So it wasn’t a random spotting around the city or anything. But we’ll count it. Besides, I got to shake his hand and tell him I’m a comedy writer. I missed a huge opportunity though by not making a joke during the 17 seconds we talked. A perfect joke there could have had me set for life as one of his writing partners. If you haven’t watched Workaholics and you’re not adverse to raunchy college stoner humor, you should give it a try on Netflix Instant immediately. The only reason I ranked him below Mr. Gomez is because Blake doesn’t have the longevity in acting that baldy has. But Blake’s star is on the rise big time, as any Arrested Development fans should remember seeing him and his Workaholic co-stars in episode 1 of the new season.

4). Gilles Marini

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Oh, you’ve never heard of him either? I would have never spotted this “celebrity” on my own. We were hiking in Runyon Canyon one day, a place known for its celebrity sightings, and Julie is 98% sure we walked right by him. She didn’t know his actual name either, just that he was the hot neighbor from Sex and the City, the Movie. According to IMDB, that really is all he’s known for. It looks like he’s appeared in some  well-known TV shows like Modern Family, Castle and Brothers & Sisters.

5). Kerr Smith

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Ten years ago, Mr. Smith might have been #1 on this list because his role as Jack McPhee on Dawson’s Creek would have been relevant back then. Another Julie sighting that might have gone unnoticed by me. We were at a Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica for Cinco de Mayo when she spotted him with a group of friends. We both decided that he must have given up acting in 2003 when Dawson’s ended, but to my surprise it looks as if he’s appeared in many TV shows and films since then. To me, he’ll always be the gay guy from Dawson’s Creek whose name I never bothered to remember.

6). Brian Wilson

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Only at #6, and already we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. Maybe he should be higher on my list because his ridiculous beard coupled with the San Francisco Giants’ 2010 World Series run made him somewhat famous, but currently he’s not on a baseball team and has disappeared from the limelight entirely. So we’re sticking him at the (near) bottom. Another spotting from a Runyon Canyon hike. He was jogging and still had the long beard. Obviously that made him unmistakable. He was also wearing a lot of spandex at the time, in case that’s the type of detail that interests you.

7). Benjamin Patton

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Who the fuck is Ben Patton, right? Anyone who doesn’t have their own Wikipedia page can’t possibly be a celebrity, right? Well I present to you the 7th most exciting celebrity we’ve seen in LA: a reality show contestant whose 15 minutes of fame really did last about 15 minutes. Ready For Love, an NBC matchmaking reality show executive produced by Eva Longoria lasted all of a few episodes before it was cancelled. Since we had an actual connection to one of the contestants, we taped the show, and I can promise you it was horrific. Last July we went to a winery in Malibu and were pleasantly surprised to see that they were taping an episode of this show only a few feet away from our table. We were nearly kicked out for stalking all the people involved with the show, but not before we got to see some of the women that were vying for Ben’s affection start fighting with each other because they were so drunk off the unlimited supply of wine (not physically fighting, more like yelling at each other and crying to the producers behind each other’s backs).

So there you have it. Potentially the worst celebrity sightings list in the history of celebrities. At least we get to hear all the time about our luckier friends bumping into a Kardashian or an Oprah around town. Maybe in year two Julie and I will finally graduate from C-list sightings to B-list sightings? Fingers crossed.

Really Enjoyed the Free Carpet Cleaning Our Landlord Gave Us For Renewing Our Lease (He Said With Heavy Sarcasm)

So my girlfriend and I renewed our lease for another year a little while back, and they tried to jack up the monthly rent on us. But they said they’d negotiate with us as best as possible. I told them we were moving out if the additional rent didn’t go away, and they came back and lowered it by only about $49 per month. BUT they did offer up a free professional carpet cleaning upon renewal. Let’s just say one of us who lives in this apartment thought that was a great concession on the owner’s part, and the other one of us realized that even $15 more per month off the rent would be much more valuable than a one-time cleaning. I’ll let you decide which one of us leaned which way on the issue.

Anyway, we finally scheduled them to do the carpet cleaning today. They’d need a few hours in here where I could take the dog and not be around. So it worked out well that the dog had a vet checkup and then we could go for an extra long hike nearby. Even though I thought the cleaning was a bullshit counteroffer on their part, of course we wanted to maximize its effectiveness. So we essentially moved an entire apartment’s worth of possessions into the bathroom, kitchen and on top of our bed.

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Well since I’m taking the time to post about this experience, you can probably guess that it didn’t turn out well. After waking up hours earlier than normal to move all the furniture and pack up a day’s worth of stuff to keep the dog entertained (think “bringing a baby on a two-week vacation” amount of stuff), I was off. At about 11AM I get an email from my property manager saying to call him, but I had no service and was enjoying the extra long hike. When I call him 90 minutes later, he informs me that the carpet cleaner had to deal with some flood in a different apartment this morning so he can’t come today after all (Let’s not even get into the issue of whether the carpet cleaner was the one who caused the flood in that apartment, which would make me a lot less confident in him not creating a natural disaster in our apartment).

Well F me in the A. I have enough days of not being productive because of my penchant for procrastination, and then I schedule an unproductive day so these guys can come do a half-assed job on my carpet. And then they’re a no-show??

Apparently they’re going to come tomorrow morning and take care of things. So I guess I’ll have some free time tomorrow. But my question is how should I react to this atrocity? You decide:

P.S. If you don’t think I purposely stuck those flowers in the background of picture #3 to show off how great of a boyfriend I am, then you know nothing about me.

A Weekend Full of Complaints: Parking Garages, Dog Owners, Fast Food…And My Sympathy Goes Out To Bikers

Ever wonder why a group of four people walk down a sidewalk side-by-side, taking up the whole thing even though they clearly see you walking towards them? Or for you skiers and snowboarders out there, don’t you shake your head in frustration at least once a ski session because people don’t seem to know the basic rules of merging two chair lift lines? Why are you taking the time looking out for others on the sidewalks and waiting your turn in line if no one else is?

Unfortunately I don’t have the answers to any of these questions in this blog post. I merely have a couple more examples of this self-absorbed, inconsiderate behavior that makes my blood boil.

Call it a return of the ShitList if you want.

Considering I had to experience each of these frustrating situations last weekend, let’s just go in chronological order.

Bitch Sesh #1: Long Lines at Fast Food Restaurant That Are Entirely The Restaurant’s Fault

I can never be an objective observer when it comes to waiting in lines. That’s when I’m at the height of my impatience. Whether it’s waiting in traffic or an airport security line, nobody constantly re-evaluates which line to be in as much as I do. So you can imagine my horror when I walked into fast food joints on consecutive weekends and was faced with 30-minute waits. This past weekend’s nightmare was at Noah’s Bagels. I popped in there at 10AM to grab two toasted bagels topped with cream cheese and cucumbers. But after waiting to order in a line that was 15 people deep, I started to hear other customers asking for refunds. Some of them had ordered, then went to the grocery store to do a full week’s worth of groceries, and when they came back their bagels still weren’t ready. After most of the place had revolted, I decided to change my order to two untoasted bagels and a container of cream cheese to go. Veteran move that saved me at least 20 minutes. But I owe it all to a worse experience I had a week earlier at McDonald’s. Coming back to LA from a weekend in Mammoth, the dining options are particularly limited as you commute across the desert. So I wasn’t surprised when I popped into Mickey D’s in Mojave and the place was littered with people. But this is nothing new, right? The whole point of McDonald’s and its fast food cohorts is to mass produce unhealthy food and get customers out the door as quickly as possible. Obviously you know I’m about to tell you that I had a long wait on this particular day. It’s true. I waited more than 30 minutes for a simple #9 (Chicken McNugget Meal).

My gripe with Noah’s and McDonald’s has nothing to do with the amount of people or slowness of the service. It has everything to do with the expansion of these restaurants’ menus. Call me crazy, but I’ve never thought implementing a “Cheesecake Factory” type of menu for a fast food place made much sense. McDonald’s was built on burgers, fries and speedy service. When I walk into Noah’s, I’m looking for an average bagel toasted with some simple toppings. But do you know how many items are on the full McDonald’s Menu? 156.

While I was waiting for my McNuggets and fries, people were ordering “the Premium Southwest Salad but with blue cheese instead of Ranch.” And “the Fruits & Walnuts but with no apple slices and instead sub in extra grapes.” My first thought? “Where the fuck am I?”

My second thought? “I wonder if my order would be coming out a little quicker if the employees weren’t fielding requests to ‘cook my fries a little longer’ and ‘add whipped cream to my McCafe Mocha.'”

I think you get my point. If I’m going to McDonald’s or Noah’s, I want a fast solution to my hunger with a burger or bagel, respectively. Now that these restaurants are trying to cater to every dietary need and preference, where am I supposed to get unhealthy food in a hurry?

Fast food restaurants turning into specialty food stores might be one of the biggest tragedies of the 21st century to a person like me who can’t stand waiting in lines.

Bitch Sesh #2: Parking Garage Jerks Who Fixate On The Spot That Isn’t Open Yet

So on Saturday morning after the Noah’s near-catastrophe, we drive over to Santa Monica to go for a bike ride. Just a block away from the Santa Monica Pier there are several parking garages with state-of-the-art electronics to help cars flow smoothly in and out. You’ve probably all seen it before. As you enter the parking garage, you see a sign like this:

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Let’s say you drive by a sign like that and it says Level 2 has 6 spots available, but Level 3 has 188 spots available. As you drive through Level 2, you see a person walking to his car. You also notice there’s a line of 17 cars behind you waiting to park. Do you stop in your tracks and wait for the guy to get in his car, back out and drive away? Or do you continue up one more level and easily park in one of the many available spaces?

If you’re the asshole who waits for that one spot on Level 2 while there are literally hundreds of free spots just 50 feet away, I am going to abuse you with my horn, my middle finger and all of the creative cursing I can muster up. It’s beyond indecent to be this selfish. If my own mother pulled this kind of move and I witnessed it, I’d key her car. That’s how douchey it is.

Bitch Sesh #3: I Guess I Don’t Understand The Meaning Of “Bikes Only”

I used to think bikers were a bunch of whiney babies, always complaining about cars not sharing the road properly and what not. I guess it’s because I didn’t grow up in a big city. I could ride my bike wherever I wanted as a kid and not have to worry about sharing a narrow road with cars, walkers or other pedestrians.

But now that I’m a biker I understand it all (in this case, “biker” means “rented a bike twice in the last seven months”).

The good people in charge of the Santa Monica and Venice boardwalk and beach area have set up a nice system where there is a “bikes only” lane that is completely separate from a path for all other pedestrians. This is exactly what it looks like on the Santa Monica end:

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A nice, paved pathway for the bikers, and a separate paved area for everyone else. So how come on Saturday I was constantly maneuvering around walkers, rollerbladers, moms and dads pushing strollers, skateboarders and stupid Segway people? Is it because I rode a bike on the walking path instead of the bike path? No. Obviously I’m not an inconsiderate bastard. Is it because the majority of mankind can’t be bothered to read a sign and follow the rules?

It’s hard enough trying to avoid the piles of sand that are blown onto the bike path, not to mention the bikers coming the other way. I’m trying to get my sweat on with a morning pedal. How the hell am I supposed to do that when the path turns into a minefield of jerks?

Maybe I need a better understanding of “bikes only.” I thought that phrase meant “People on bikes are the only thing allowed on this path. Everything else is prohibited.” If I’m wrong, and “bikes only” means “bikes, skateboards, rollerblades and Segways allowed,” just put that on the sign so I know never to come back here.

Bitch Sesh #4: Our Dogs Are Friends. You Could At Least Say Hello.

This last one doesn’t upset me as much as it makes me laugh at the unfriendliness of people. We take our dog on a lot of hikes where she’s off leash the majority of the time. Since she’s only nine months old, it’s pretty much a guarantee that she’s going to approach every dog she passes and say hi. Sometimes when she senses the other dog is also young, she’ll try to engage in a play session with it. What’s strange is that at least 35% of the time when we go to say hi to that dog’s owner or ask him a question about his dog (something super intrusive like “How old is she?”), he remains completely silent and walks past us like we’re ghosts. It’s the strangest damn thing. Your dog is sniffing my dog’s ass. You’re not going anywhere fast. Would it kill you to give a polite “hello” or even an acknowledging nod? I thought we were linked by the bond of dog ownership.

It’s especially awesome when you don’t tell us that your 13-year-old dog isn’t a big fan of puppies and then proceed to get upset when Molly starts chewing on your dog’s neck fat. I know, I know…we should have magically guessed that you didn’t want our dog touching your dog.

All these examples tie back to the fact that we live amongst a bunch of indecent, inconsiderate, self-absorbed A-holes. They’re not going away anytime soon so I suggest you deal with it like I do. Just out A-hole them. Be a bigger prick to them than they are to you.

Adventures in Relocating: Checking in After 1 Quarter of LA Living

After three months of living in LA, you’d probably expect me to have lots of stories from all these new things we’re experiencing. I don’t. Turns out life isn’t that exciting when you’re an unemployed writer trying to get by on the money from your childhood savings bonds, and it’s even less exciting when you have a puppy that demands your attention 18 hours a day.

Rather than end this post right here, I’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions that people might have asked me about my first quarter in LA.

FAQs

Question: You mentioned being unemployed. What’s the deal with that? Any jobs on the horizon?

Answer: I’ve learned that it’s tough to get a job when you haven’t started looking for one, and unfortunately, Julie isn’t making quite enough money yet for me to be a stay-at-home boyfriend. The blog is starting to pull in some revenue…I made $0.99 last month off my advertisements, but Word Press doesn’t allow me to claim any funds until I’ve made $100 or more. So in just eight short years, I should be able to cash out that first $100 from the blog. In all honesty, I’ve been waiting for someone to contact me about a job in the entertainment industry. I hear that’s how it works around here, you just wait for people to pursue you. I will have to start searching for a job soon, but football season is just a really busy time for me. Check back in February and I’ll probably have started my job search by then.

Q: What about your writing? Have you finished any major projects yet like TV or movie scripts?

A: Do 2,000-word blog posts count? There’s nothing major finished yet, but before the end of 2012 I’m planning to have at least two television scripts and one movie script finished. The goal is to continue blogging and writing a ton of football content with the hope that a popular blog/website spots my amazing talent and hires me for a seven-figure salary.

Q: Three months in LA…have you made any friends?

A: We do have a couple friends at this point, but there’s a 50% chance they’re just people who feel really bad for us. I do think at times we’re giving off a strong stench of our desperation to make friends (like when we were leaving a BBQ at a friend’s house a few weeks back and I said to the entire crowd, “It was good meeting everyone…we really need friends. When can we all hang out again?” Obviously we haven’t heard from any of them since).

Q: The people in LA have a reputation for being superficial, stuck-up and self-absorbed. Have you noticed any truth to this?

A: There are just as many superficial, stuck-up, self-absorbed assholes in LA as there are in any other major city. I don’t think douchebags are exclusive to Southern California. It’s just that our douchebags are tanner than yours.

Q: You’re living with your girlfriend. How’s that going?

A: Fine.

Q: Have there been any issues, fights or surprises during the first three months of your cohabitation?

A: I’ll be reading a statement that Julie has prepared for me: “Living with my girlfriend has been the most incredible and rewarding experience. There have been no fights or issues stemming from us living together. And every surprise has been a good surprise, like when I’m trying to sleep in sometimes and she’s awake and full of energy at 6:30am. It turns out I didn’t really want to sleep until 9:30 after all.”

Q: It seems like you’re unwilling to admit to any cohabitation problems that have happened in the first three months. Are there any problems looming on the horizon?

A: Possibly the issue of us only having one TV. I’ve tried to gently inform Julie that I plan to watch 12 hours of football on Sundays, three hours on Mondays and three more hours on Thursdays (and eventually three hours on some Saturdays). She actually got a dose of how disruptive football season can be when I taped 10 NFL preseason games on our DVR and it caused all of her Sex & The City’s to be deleted. She should be plenty prepared.

Q: One TV? How has that worked out so far?

A: It feels like my viewing of Sex & The City, Say Yes To the Dress, Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Snapped has increased by 5000% since we moved. And yet, if I put the TV on ESPN or the NFL Network for 10 minutes, I get crucified for “always putting it on your stupid sports shows.”

Q: What’s something weird or interesting that will jump out to any visitors of your apartment?

A: Other than the patio being coated in a thick layer of dog piss (there’s a Thompson’s Water Seal joke here, but I don’t feel like writing it)? Probably the fact that nothing we’ve hung on the walls (pictures and shelves mostly) is even close to level. We’re blaming it on the apartment walls and floors not being level, but we wouldn’t even know how to test if that’s true or not.

Q: How about exploring outside of your apartment? Is there good sightseeing in LA? Where have you taken visitors?

A: The sightseeing in LA blows. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the sightseeing in Fitchburg, Massachusetts (which I wrote about in THIS) is better than the sightseeing in LA. I’m about done bringing people to Hollywood Blvd just to see them underwhelmed by all the “stars” on the ground. And sure, there’s the famous Chinese Theater and Kodak  Dolby Theater, but there’s not much to look at from the outside. The entire Hollywood Blvd area takes about 11 minutes to thoroughly see, and there’s a decent chance you’re gonna want those 11 minutes back when you’re finished. Other than the Hollywood sign, there are no other relevant landmarks worth seeing in LA. Oh, and if you’re like me and had this awesome image of the La Brea Tarpits in your head because of the movie Volcano (starring Tommy Lee Jones where the tar pits are literally erupting and spewing out tar throughout the movie), you’re going to be severely disappointed when you see the real thing:

Q: Any final thoughts on living with your girlfriend?

A: Yes, I’d like to address the one topic that every other couple brought up to us when we told them we were moving in together: pooping. Strange as it sounds, every couple we talked to said having to share a bathroom, particularly when one of us had to take a shit, was going to be the biggest adjustment. I’d just like to say that it hasn’t been a tough adjustment at all. I poop whenever I want, wherever I want in the apartment. And Julie has learned to simply go around the corner to the McDonald’s or Starbucks whenever she has to go number two. I don’t understand why this is such an awkward thing for other couples.

Reader Trivia Answers: We have a Winner! (And Many Losers)

I promised answers to all the trivia I unleashed on my readers earlier this week, and I never break a promise.

Let’s begin with the three poll questions I posed in this post.

First, the answer to which country (not counting the US, UK, Australia and Canada) has read my blog the most. Germany was the runaway winner according to my readers’ votes with 42% of the total vote, followed by Japan and Singapore, each with 21% of the vote. But none of those answers was correct. The right answer is Egypt, which got only one vote. Congrats to whoever said Egypt!

Next, there was the question of which blog post was the least read of all time. According to the voters, this was an obvious answer. A whopping 63% of the responders said “Euro Update: Are We Supposed to be Excited about 1-1 Draws” was the least read blog of all time. I get the reasoning behind this…no one likes soccer. But the soccer blog was not actually the least read. The post titled “March Madness: More Than Just Basketball to Help End Relationships” is actually the least clicked on blog so far. Once again, only one person voted for this option…congrats once again to that person (and if the same person got the Egypt answer correct, wow).

The final poll question in this article asked the readers to vote on which blog was the most read of all time. For those of you who voted for the Bieber Blog, the Bachelor Parties Blog, the Opening the Kimono on Work Jargon Blog or the Scamming Restaurants with the Bereavement Menu blog, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. None of those blogs even cracked the top 15 for most overall views. So it’s down to either “A Thorough Examination of Bird Poop Being Good Luck” or “Perfectly Good Excuses For Leaving Work Early.”

Those two posts are actually the top two most read on my blog, but in what order?

Almost 60% of the voters picked the Leaving Work Early post as the winner. And not a single person voted for the Bird Poop post. The readers missed badly here…the Bird Poop post is the most-read blog of all time!! And the Leaving Work Early post is a DISTANT second…over 100 less views than the Bird Poop.

Why is the Bird Poop article so popular? No idea, but it’s amazing that when I look at my stats every few days, the Bird Poop post has increased by another 5-10 views. It’s the gift that keeps on giving for the WBFF blog.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…did anyone guess all 12 pictures correctly in the Around the Clock Trivia from Monday?

Out of all the responses, this picture seemed to trip people up the most:

That is a picture of a lake in Wakefield, Massachusetts…Julie’s hometown.

Out of hundreds of guesses, there were three people worth highlighting. Two of them (Mike “The Dream”, and Aaron “Pueto”) only got one picture wrong: Mike, guessing Wakefield was actually the Ozarks, and Aaron guessing “somewhere in Europe” for picture #3, which was Barcelona (Aaron was technically right, but the judges were looking for something more specific).

And finally, we had one winner: Neil “Nkilla” Gariepy. Here was Neil’s guesses:

1. LA
2. Boston
3. Barcelona
4. Fitchburg
5. San Francisco
6. Heavenly/South Lake
7. York Beach
8. Yosemite/Vernal Falls
9. Monterey
10. Napa/Sonoma
11. Wakefield/Lake Quannapowitt
12. La Jolla/San Diego

So, Neil, what will it be? A free In-n-Out/Five Guys meal on your first trip down to LA? Or an autographed photo of two of LA’s most famous people? You do not get any bonus prize for being extra specific with your answers.

If I do future contests, I will probably put in fine print that “immediate family members of WBFF blog employees are ineligible” so that other people besides Neil have a chance to win something.

Back to School: Week Two…When All the Assholes Hijack My Writing Class

Heading to Week Three of Television Writing Class in just a bit, and I thought I could piece together a blog about my experiences so far. I blogged about my Week One Class, but never got a chance to check in after Week Two.

If Week One was all about everyone getting to know each other, then Week Two was all about people trying to prove their intelligence and show off their TV obsessions. Seriously, one minute the teacher is asking us what existing TV shows we’re thinking of writing a script for (the goal of the class, after all), and the next minute people are discussing how “Louie isn’t a sitcom; it’s a show full of existential vignettes.”

I’m not joking…someone actually said that.

Week two was a bit of a reality check because I was hoping all along that it was only in my previous life of being around sales people where there was always someone in the group who had to prove they were the smartest in the room. I wanted to think it was unique to typical sales guy douche baggery, but alas, it seems like every group has one…or three.

After a 15 minute tangent of a conversation between two people in class arguing about Louie and 30 Rock, the teacher finally asked, “So are either of you picking Louie or 30 Rock as your shows to write?”

Nope. Of course not. They just wanted to waste our time and hear themselves talk.

I honestly thought a room full of writers would make for a quiet setting, a bunch of recluses who are scared of public speaking and attention. I was very wrong.

I’m trying to figure out what I should do the next time a conversation is going off the rails. I might go with yelling out, “Can you two shut the fuck up so this guy (pointing at teacher) can teach us something?” But I was also thinking of going the less mature route of making a super loud farting noise to break up the discussion. I can’t decide which way to play it.

A few more random notes before I pack up my grapes and M&M’s and head off to class:

Arrested Development is the absolute gold standard of TV writing according to my classmates. If you try to say anything negative about this TV show, you will get ostracized from the group. Our teacher said one negative thing—that the writers of this show only wrote jokes for themselves, not for the general public—and I’m pretty sure at least five students are dropping out of his class because of it.

-If Arrested Development is the gold standard, then Whitney is…the poop standard? The pyrite standard? (ahh, that’s a thinker’s joke. You see, pyrite is a metal compound that’s often referred to as “fool’s gold” because it looks a lot like gold, but is actually worthless compared to gold.) Whatever the opposite of “gold standard” is, that’s Whitney, according to my class.

-The TV show I’m picking to write a script for is Happy Endings. If you don’t know it, give it a shot. It’s a good one. And if you do know it and happen to have some really brilliant ideas on what would make a good episode for that show, feel free to send it my way.

-Finally, I think our professor has done too many drugs in the past. Why do I think this? Well, for one, he’s constantly referencing all the drugs he’s done in the past. And two, he seems to keep forgetting which class he’s teaching while he’s lecturing us. And in Week Two, he was supposed to bring in DVDs that had episodes of sitcoms on them for us to watch as a class, but he screwed up and brought only Portlandia episodes, which is a sketch comedy show. I’m trying to figure out how long until I’m allowed to scream out, “Hey, Prof, I’m paying for this class out of my own pocket. That’s right…not my parents’ pockets, not through some loans that I won’t see the repercussions of for years…MY. OWN. POCKET. So why don’t you get your head out of your ass and bring the right material to class?” It’s probably still too early to do that, but it’s coming.

Topeka’s Biggest Celebrity Visits LA Then Writes About It…Sort Of

[Editor’s Note: You’ve probably noticed guest blogs popping up on the WBFF blog recently. Not only does this give me more free time to sit by the pool at my apartment complex and take random weekday trips to Palm Springs (my current location), but it allows me to tweak my resume to say something like, “Responsible for managing a team of writers on an internationally-renowned blog.” I’m happy to introduce a new guest blogger today, Matt Blanchette. And he’s not just any ordinary Schmoe…Matt happens to be the pride of Topeka…Yes, Topeka, Kansas. Feel free to read more about my most famous guest blogger HERE. Matt was our first official visitor in LA over the 4th of July week, and we did our best to stay busy. We agreed that having him write about his experiences would be a good way for other would-be-visitors to decide if visiting us in LA is worthwhile or not. For some reason he seemed nervous about writing too much in this blog post (something about boring people, which I try never to worry about), so I’ve taken the liberty of adding to his thoughts (my comments in red). Enjoy.]

First off, I want to thank Ross for allowing me to be his second guest blogger, and god help me I am determined to do better than a series of blogs about Euro League Soccer.

I found myself with some free time over 4th of July and campaigned some friends for a free place to stay. Ross and Julie were very insistent that I head west, so LA it was.

Our visit started with a look at Ross’ new “haircut.” And by “haircut”, I mean “letting it grow out in any direction for as long as possible without ever trying to tame it in any way.” Turns out, I missed the accompanying mustache by a few days. So if this whole comedy writer thing doesn’t pan out, I am sure there is a 70’s era porn star impersonation gig available for Ross. [It’s true, I haven’t gotten a haircut in at least three months. I tried to keep the mustache going for as long as possible, but it got really itchy and almost caused me to be unexpectedly single. Here are some pictures of the three-week experimental mustache and the “hair growing in any direction.”]

First stop on my trip, a hike in Malibu. Aside from getting lost looking for a lake, which turned out to be nothing more than a puddle, the highlight came from a 15-year-old girl at the swimming hole. Basically this was a cliff jump into the water, but one girl decided to stand on the edge of the cliff for 20 minutes while everyone screamed at her to either jump or die.

Long story short, after we left, three fire engines and ambulances raced towards the hole. I can only assume this is her:

[Matt’s totally underselling just how ridiculous this swimming hole scene was at Malibu Creek State Park. It was a small swimming area littered with douchey teenagers who had absolutely no adult supervision. If it hadn’t been so damn hot out, and if we hadn’t been promising Matt an awesome lake to swim in, we probably wouldn’t have bothered jumping into the swimming hole because it just seemed like something bad was going to happen with all those kids. Julie even said this out loud while we were swimming. The funny part (if there is a funny part to this story) was when we left the hole and were walking down the trail towards the parking lot. We heard sirens in the distance and joked about how they must be coming up to Malibu Creek because that girl who refused to jump fell off the cliff and killed herself. Two minutes later those fire engines and ambulances are tearing up the trail towards the hole. Anyway, below is a picture that kind of shows you what we’re talking about. And also, getting lost wasn’t a total downer because Matt & Julie got to play inside some props from M*A*S*H.]

After Malibu Creek, it was off to a Malibu Vineyard…where they happened to be shooting season one of “Ready For Love,” the new reality show from your favorite housewife and mine, Eva Longoria.

The setup is simple: a good-looking guy takes multiple women out on dates one after another. In this case Ben, the good-looking guy, had his choice of five or six very attractive, though malnourished, females. I admit, I do not watch reality dating shows, but it was wild.

One of the female producers (who we called Scissors, for her ability to scissor the girls to put them in a good mood) had the unenviable job of coddling each woman while Ben was on dates with the others. In one case a hysterical woman was only put at ease when she was handed another bottle of wine to suck on. Basically all the women sit in the “bullpen” and wait for Ben to call on them.

Ben did get some action, to which I gleefully proclaimed “They’re kissing, they’re kissing.” (I had an entire bottle of wine.)

Look for this scene on the show on NBC this fall!

[Matt’s description of the “They’re kissing, they’re kissing!” moment doesn’t come close to doing it justice. Here’s how I would have described it: “And after two hours of staring at these reality show contestants nonstop—to the point where we wouldn’t have been surprised if security had asked us to leave the premises—we finally saw Ben essentially choose his favorite girl by making out with her…at which point Matt turned into a fifth grader who was seeing two of his classmates kiss for the first time, and he exclaimed in a pre-pubescent shriek, “They’re kissing, they’re kissing!!!”]

Day two (4th of July) was Dodgers Day. If you have not been to Dodgers Stadium, don’t, or at least do not sit in left field. It is basically a stockade. Fans have no access to center or right field, nor the rest of the stadium. You have one bathroom, and one concession stand, which has limited food options (dodger dog, chips, and cracker jacks).

And check out the scoreboard:

I felt like I was watching RBI baseball 1993. Nicely done, Frank McCourt.

As for transportation options, there are none. The traffic is a nightmare, and to walk (which we did) takes about 30 minutes to get to civilization. Luckily we found a dive bar that included a shot of Patron with every beer.

But hey, at least the fireworks at the stadium were good.

[OK, I gotta stop you right there, Matt. The night of the baseball game escalated quickly because when we finally got to “civilization” and jumped inside a bar, the bartender confused me with a drink special to the point where I ended up ordering each of us a beer and two shots. And even though we decided that was too many shots, we went ahead and ordered a third shot just moments later. Other things of note that happened after those shots were: Matt contemplating drinking a beer that a stranger had left on our table, Matt buying a 12-pack of Budweiser over Miller Lite just because the cans had an American Flag symbol on them, Matt & Julie getting in an argument over the difference between a pizza with buffalo sauce on it and a pizza with buffalo mozzarella on it (I did the sensible thing and ordered the pizza with buffalo mozzarella AND got a side order of buffalo wings), and finally, Matt working up the courage to get a picture with one of our childhood idols, the Ultimate Warrior…see below.]

Most of you have stopped reading the blog by now so I will speed through days three and four.

[Matt is really underestimating how bored the WBFF blog readers are at their jobs. He doesn’t seem to understand that people have been reading my ramblings for months now.]

Going to the beach is never a sure bet in LA, as far as I can tell. We were not blessed in that arena.

[What Matt is trying to say here is that we didn’t get good beach weather, and as a matter of fact, I haven’t yet been to the beach in LA when it has been beach weather. I hope that changes soon because why the hell did I move here if it wasn’t for the beach? Here’s a picture to show you just how non-beachy the weather is every time I try to bring someone to a beach in California.]

[For some reason, Matt decided to leave out two of the coolest things we saw on Day Three of his visit: the back of the Hollywood sign (sure everyone can see the front of it from all over LA, but how often do you see the back?), and people randomly getting foamed up and washed down at Venice Beach.]

And if you plan to be a tourist and do sightseeing when you go to LA, appeal to Julie. Ross is not sympathetic in that area.

[Completely true. I will pretend like LA has no sightseeing or landmarks until you’re convinced. And if you’re still not convinced, I’ll tell you that they are all closed for maintenance.]

Also in LA, everyone seems to be in the entertainment business or curious if you are. And you “think” you see celebs everywhere, but we really did not see any that I know of.

[Wow, Matt totally glossed over the fact that on Night Three when we went to a free concert at the Santa Monica Pier, him & Julie spent the entire time staring at a group of people and debating whether one of the women was a celebrity. The entire night. I’m not even exaggerating. Matt was saying things like, “I watch A LOT of TV so I’d know if she was famous…unless she’s on one of those Real Housewives shows or reality TV.” To which Julie quickly replied, “Oh, I’ve got those covered. She’s not from one of those shows.”  This topic is ripe for an entirely separate blog…thinking we see famous people but never being able to put a name to the face.]

So I guess the point of this blog is to get others to visit LA, so I would recommend it. Maybe that will buy me a second blog.

[Gee, thanks for the ringing endorsement, Matt. “I guess Ross wants me to say LA was fun so others will visit…so yeah, it was fun.”]

[For anyone who does decide to visit, I can’t guarantee that we’ll see the filming of a not-going-to-be-on-the-air-long-anyway reality dating show, but I promise we can find a group of people to stare at in Santa Monica and discuss how each of them might be famous.]

Back to School: My First Relevant Learning Experience Since Diagramming Sentences 20 Years Ago

Have you ever seen someone so ready to rock their UCLA Extension writing class? Me neither. So what if the class was from 7-10pm…nothing was going to stop me from bringing my brown bagged lunch on day one (If you’re curious, the bag contained m&m’s, grapes and a lollipop. If only I would have stopped at Starbuck’s on my way to class to grab a hot chocolate, then my classmates would have really known they were dealing with a mature adult).

Since it was my first time in a classroom in more than seven years, I decided to actually pay attention and observe my surroundings. Here’s what I learned in week one:

-It was a strange sensation to sit in a three-hour class and not have my mind wandering to every topic besides what was being taught. Out of 32 undergrad classes at BU, I can’t recall more than four or five where I was actually paying attention to the content being discussed. That gives me hope that I’m finally enrolled in the right class.

-When I was last in school, Smartphones didn’t exist. Waiting for class to begin back in the old days of 2005, your only option for entertainment was to actually talk to people. Scary stuff. I feel bad for teachers mostly because it’s gotta be nearly impossible to hold 20 students’ attention for even an hour when every one of them has their iphone right next to their notebooks. Or it could be even worse, like the girl next to me who was using her laptop to “take notes,” but really was just doing silent video conferencing with her husband the whole time.

-But I did discover one huge benefit to having an iphone in this setting. Halfway through class, the teacher asked us to go around the room and introduce ourselves, including where we were from, what writing experience we have, what our favorite TV shows are, and why we decided to take the class. Of course you all know that in a group of 20, there’s going to be a couple people who decide to hijack the conversation, stretching their time to speak from two minutes to 10 minutes, deciding instead of answering the teacher’s questions to focus on their whole life story (if you don’t think you’ve been in a group of people where someone is doing this—whether it be school or work—then I’m happy to tell you that you are that person, and you should shut the fuck up sometimes). Anyway, to show these people that I was just about done with their story, I combined a shameless “whip out my iphone and pretend to be playing games” move with a loud throat clear, ensuring even the dumbest person understood the social cue.

-After hearing all these boring stories from my classmates, I was a little shocked to learn I was the only one who purposely quit his job, became unemployed and expected to make it as a writer before money runs out. Most people in the class think they’re going to have to work hard for years just to get noticed in the entertainment industry. Boy, are they clueless…

-The three-hour night class felt a little strange in that I was sober and it was a real class. The only night class I ever had at BU was called “Sports Management” where the most difficult task over an entire semester was creating a practice schedule for the fictitious sports team I was pretending to manage. And we usually went to the BU Pub and pounded beers before class. Now I show up sober with grapes and a canteen of water. So sad.

-The teacher totally validated himself in week one by showing us a New Girl episode at the end of class and then promptly tearing it to pieces. That’s how you get on my good side, which I’m sure was his goal all along.

-I hate to predict failure for any of my classmates, but I wonder if the woman who doesn’t own a TV, hasn’t watched a TV show in over 10 years, and claims not to have any time to practice writing is going to do well in a Television Writing course?

-If karma has a sense of humor, my teacher will pair me up with that woman for some kind of important project.

-Oh, and just for a comparison so everyone knows I haven’t changed a bit since the last picture of me going to school was taken, here you go:

God. Damn. I want that square knit tie back.

I’m Applying a Temporary Self-Ban From Entering Home Depot

This post has two themes to it:

1). I shouldn’t be allowed into Home Depot

2). I need to hire a camera crew to follow me around at all times

Let’s tackle number one first…Julie and I walked into Home Depot on Saturday and began shopping for materials we needed to build a shelf in our tiny storage closet.  The word “build” in that sentence should raise a red flag to anyone who read my entry about Julie thinking I’m the Least Handy Man Alive.

Anyway, we started by finding a piece of “lumber” that was roughly the size we needed, and when we asked an employee if they could cut it for us, he said, “You can do that at home on your own, just score it.”  We told him we didn’t have a saw, but he told us any kind of knife could cut it or we could even break it over our knee.  Oh, great, we can just take care of it when we get home.  As we were about to walk away with our new shelf, he asked us what we were using it for.  When we told him, he just started shaking his head in disappointment and told us if we try to put any weight on it at all it’ll crack.  It made me realize I probably wasn’t holding lumber after all.  Drywall, maybe?  And what the hell did he mean by “just score it??”

Next on our journey we actually found real wood…a piece of one-inch thick plywood.  We needed only a small amount cut off for it to fit in our storage closet.  When we asked a different employee where we go to have them cut it, this possibly-mute gentleman motioned to aisle 23 and mumbled something about doing it ourselves.  Fast forward three minutes and this was the situation at Home Depot:

Yup, that confident-looking woman is Al Boreland’s biggest fan getting ready to cut a one-inch thick piece of wood with a saw that was probably not made to cut that material or thickness.  We were flabbergasted that they’d even have a station setup that allowed civilians to play with saws.  Luckily another employee saw us and put us out of our misery.  Apparently we were at the station where people cut their own molding (which I believe is an easier material to cut and much smaller than a piece of plywood).  He cut our shelf with a different tool in about four seconds and sent us on our way.  You think that’s the end of the Home Depot escapades, but you’d be wrong.  And this is where theme number two of this blog comes into play.  I need a camera crew following me around at all times, especially while doing domesticated things that I have no experience with.

A gas grill was the other item on our list.  We found one we liked, but the store we were at had preassembled all 50+ that they had in stock.  My Accord wasn’t fitting a preassembled grill in it so we found another Home Depot close by that had the same grill unassembled in a box.  Perfect.  We drove over there, paid for the grill and a propane tank and wheeled them out to my car.  If I had hired that damn camera crew to tape my every move, you would now be seeing a video of two people trying to squeeze a 120-pound box into a car that clearly wasn’t big enough to handle it.  Not in the trunk, not in any of the side doors.  What you’d see next is a flurry of activity with styrofoam and box pieces flying into the air, and grill parts being hastily thrown into a Honda Accord.  You’d see two people scrambling to unpack an entire four-burner grill from its box and shove every piece into the car, trying not to cause a traffic situation in the parking lot.  This is probably a good time to mention that the first store told us we could rent a pickup truck from their tool rentals department for $17/hour and haul an assembled grill home.  No, that would be way too much of a hassle.  We’d much rather unpack a grill in the parking lot, bring it up to our apartment piece by piece, and spend the next two hours putting it together.

I screwed up big time not getting any pictures of the mayhem in the parking lot.  This picture in our apartment doesn’t come close to doing it justice:

And yes, we got it setup just in time to overcook some chicken on Sunday night:

And how about the shelf that we almost screwed up five different times at Home Depot?

Nailed it!  How else are two 29-year-olds supposed to store all of their water guns and boogey boards?

The Man and Woman Shopping Dilemma: A Classic Chicken-and-Egg Situation

My body automatically goes into this position when I’m forced to go shopping

With Julie and I still being recent relocators to LA, I expected to have to deal with multiple shopping trips for buying household items during the first month.  Even though we filled up an entire 16-foot Uhaul truck with existing possessions, you’d be amazed at how many trips to Target we’ve already taken.  And actually, I’m not complaining about Target at all in this post.  I love that place.  I’m fine with shopping at stores where I can see the actual benefit to me being there.  At Target we’ve bought things like a toaster oven, a mirror, a filing cabinet and some additional storage space for our kitchen.  I understand these purchases; I’ll use these items regularly.

The type of shopping that automatically turns me into an asshole is when I’m forced into a store that I would never go to on my own.  For instance, we walked into Michael’s arts & crafts store yesterday, and Julie tells me we need to get a glue gun, cork board, marbles, a clock kit and sandpaper (fucking Pinterest is suddenly the bane of my existence). Since I’m totally confused by these items and can’t understand how they’re possibly going to affect me in a positive way, I go into one of two modes: Either I turn into the little kid in the picture above and find a place to lay down, or I go into dickheaded sarcasm mode.  My brain used an embedded “women be shopping” formula and concluded I was in for a 90 minute nightmare.  I decided to take the dickheaded sarcasm route this time.

“Really?  We need to make our own coasters and clocks now?”

“We have bottles of glue, gluesticks and superglue at home.  Why do we need a glue gun again?”

“Let’s just ask that store employee for the five things you need so we can get the hell out of here.”

And my favorite, “No…you shouldn’t be looking at paint and glitter because you specifically told me you only needed five items, and Martha Stewart’s Paint & Glitter wasn’t one of them.”

When we left Michael’s after only 20 minutes, Julie said I should wait to complain until after I see if it’s really going to take as long as I think.

This leads to my chicken and egg dilemma: Was Julie’s trip to Michael’s always going to be a brisk 20 minutes no matter what?  Or was it my constant bitching & moaning and policing of her every move that caused her to speed up?  I’m of the school of thought that says the bigger the scene I make in one of these stores, the more embarrassed and annoyed she’s going to get, and the quicker she ends the pain for both of us.  You can argue that I’m wrong, but just know that I have 29 years of data from constantly pulling this same move on my mom that says my attitude while shopping directly relates to how quickly the girl I’m with gets pissed off and ends the trip.

Adventures in Relocating: Exploring the Five-Block Radius Around my Apartment

I guess by now I was supposed to have explored a lot of Los Angeles, considering I moved three weeks ago.  The girlfriend arrives on Friday, and she’s probably gonna ask me all sorts of questions I don’t have answers for, like, “Where’s the nicest beach?” and, “Where do you like to get your hair done?”

Only problem is I haven’t been to the beach, and I definitely haven’t gone to the salon since I’ve been in LA.  The first 10 days were a waste because I was laid up on the couch with a herniated disc in my back that was caused by three straight days of moving (OK, it wasn’t anything nearly as severe as a herniated disc; it was actually just a stiff neck, but a really stiff neck!).

But once I was out of the ICU, you’d think I’d start exploring my new city, right?  Am I allowed to say that exploring LA completely on my own never sounded like fun?  That I’m not in the same mindset I was when I traveled by myself through Europe and Australia three years ago, willing to go anywhere and meet anyone?  Also I knew that once Julie got down here she was going to want to explore all the popular places anyway, no matter how lame I tell her they are.  So I’m waiting.

But before I moved down here, LA experts told me that I better live in an area that had everything I’d need close by…restaurants, bars, grocery store, hospital, homeless shelter, and any friends you actually want to keep up with.  Obviously this is because of the ridiculous traffic and how spread out the city is.

So if I couldn’t explore all of LA in my first three weeks, the least I could do is explore the five-block radius around my apartment.  I wanted to know what’s within walking distance, hoping to minimize how often my car leaves the garage.

Here’s what I’ve discovered is within reasonable walking distance of my apartment:

-Essential fast food: In-n-Out Burger, Rally’s Burgers, Wendy’s…In hot weather, I typically average nine milkshakes per week.  All three of these restaurants meet my requirements of proximity and shake thickness.

-Essential fast casual Mexican: Chipotle…How I haven’t eaten here for 20 straight days is a mystery.

-Restaurants: Millions of them, an abundance of Thai places, Harrison Ford’s son’s restaurant, no big deal

-Bars: My biggest concern moving to Culver City was a perceived lack of dive bars in the area, places I could get a $2 PBR and the only food they serve is the three bags of chips hanging in the corner.  I still haven’t found any true dive bars in walking distance to my apartment, but I have found a couple decent sports bars.  They’ll each go through try outs in August to see which one turns into my Sunday football bar.

-Grocery Stores: Trader Joe’s, Albertson’s, Smart & Final.  The S&F is so close I could go purchase something right now and get back before you finish reading this sentence.

-Cosmetic Surgery Facility: For the ass implants I’m planning to get eventually.

-Hospital/ER: For future slipped disc issues

-Starbuck’s: I still don’t drink coffee, but I can suck down a hot cocoa like a champ.

-Farmer’s Market: Tuesday afternoons, meaning if you live in Culver City, you have to choose between having a job or getting fresh vegetables.

-Movie Theater: Apparently it’s a good thing this is so close because my go-to activity for when I’m bored and by myself is seeing a movie.  I’ve seen four and counting since I’ve been down here on my own.

-Frozen Yogurt: For when I’ve overdone it on milkshakes.

-Dry Cleaners: Assuming one day I come out of retirement and look for a job, might have to get the suits that currently sit in a ball in my closet dry-cleaned.

-Brazilian Steakhouse: Already bought a Groupon deal to eat here soon. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a brazilian steakhouse, slap yourself in the face and then go find the nearest one now.

-Sony Studios: People have suggested I should sit outside the Sony buildings and write movie scripts all day, theorizing that someone who works for Sony might see me and offer me a job.  More likely someone will see me there day after day and call the Cops.

-City Hall & Police Department: No idea what the benefit is to having these things close to me, but it can’t be a bad thing, right?

-Culver City Park: A pretty decent park that includes basketball courts, baseball fields and a skate park (three things I will never use), running/hiking areas (which I will use), and a pretty sweet dog park (debatable whether I’ll ever use this or not):

-Balona Creek: Sure, there’s nothing pretty or scenic about it (see picture below), but it’s a four-mile bike and running trail that goes to the beach, meaning you can run or bike to the beach and back and never have to deal with cars or traffic lights.  Even if some of the Yelp reviews told stories about women getting attacked by homeless people along the creek, well, good thing I’m not a woman (if Julie ever has to be on the trail alone at night, I’ll arm her with a butter knife or water gun).

-Flower Shop: Obviously good to have right next to my apartment for when I piss Julie off by suggesting she ride her bike alone along Balona Creek.

Basically what I’m saying through this long-winded blog is good luck getting me to leave Culver City once I do the obligatory one month of LA exploring in July.

Does My Girlfriend Secretly Think I’m the Least Handy Man Alive?

I would never have thought the answer to that question could be Yes until about a week ago.  Up until then I figured she thought I was reasonably handy—like she knows I know the difference between a phillips head screwdriver and a flat head screwdriver, but probably assumes (correctly) that I can’t change the oil in a car by myself.  Have I ever changed a flat tire?  Hell no.  But have I successfully started a camp fire?  Of course (lighter fluid, starter log and match light charcoal).

But then a week ago I rented a moving truck, and on Wednesday night we packed all of her and her roommate’s things into the truck.  On Thursday morning, I helped her roommate drop off all her stuff at a storage unit, leaving only Julie’s items in the truck.  After I drove home , I looked in the back and saw that boxes had flown around all over the place.  Makes sense since the roommate’s items were gone and there was nothing holding Julie’s items in place anymore.  When I called her and told her I was busy rearranging the truck because this happened, she told me to leave it alone until she got home to fix it.  But she didn’t say it in a “Gee, Ross, I know you’ve got a lot to do today” kind of way.  She said it in a “You’re probably gonna fuck it up even worse so just stop” kind of way.  I admit I’m not the world’s greatest packer, but come on…

And then today, I’m on the phone with her (she’s in San Francisco, I’m at our new apartment in LA), and she asks if I tried to setup this tiny metal file cabinet thing we bought from Ikea.  I told her I hadn’t, and she literally said, “Oh good.  I don’t want you to try to do it and screw it up so just leave it for when I get back.”

Of course I was flabbergasted, and she quickly backpedaled saying, “I just figured you’ve never setup Ikea furniture so you might not know how to do it correctly.”

First of all, I’ve setup plenty of Ikea furniture, but that’s besides the point.  Anyone who has ever been to Ikea or seen a piece of their furniture knows it’s made to be 100% idiot proof.  The furniture and their corresponding directions were made so even my unborn nephew could easily build a dresser from the womb.  Like if you just empty the Ikea box onto the ground, there’s a 66% chance the different pieces will put themselves together for you.

And just so everyone knows how big of an idiot my girlfriend really thinks I am, here’s a picture of what she didn’t want me trying to setup:

Eight total pieces, two different types of screws.  Lucky for me, she just inadvertently gave me permission not to lift a finger around the house for the next 16 days while she’s gone.

Adventures in Relocating: Fallout from the Move

Eleven days of silence from the WBFF blog probably has people worried sick.  Am I alive?  Stuck under a pile of moving boxes?  Busy selling movie scripts all over LA?  Auditioning for my first (porn) acting gig?

Actually, in those 11 days, I spent five of them on a bender in Boston—Red Sox game, Celtics game, Wedding, Memorial Day BBQ, and a Wake (yes, my family typically serves alcohol at wakes…you know it’s a great idea)—I spent two of them packing four peoples’ lives into a moving truck, and I’ve spent the past four days unpacking in LA.

There might have been a post over the weekend if the company that was supposed to setup my internet and DirecTV service hadn’t completely boned me.  The reason I pushed to leave San Francisco at 4AM on Friday morning was to make sure we had enough time to get to LA, unpack everything from the truck and have the TV setup so these guys could do their job when they showed up at 4PM that day.  Only they didn’t show up and wouldn’t be able to until Monday.  I put together a sob story for the sales rep, saying that they were hurting my ability to work from home without the internet, and that I had plans to have friends over on Sunday night for dinner and watching the Celtics game.  He must have known that I have no job and no friends because he didn’t really compensate me much for this inconvenience.  The company’s name is Bel-Air Internet, and they are on my shit list.

But I digress.

My favorite thing about moving out of an apartment is the discoveries you make in random places you haven’t checked in years.  For instance, when we moved out of our college apartment, I’m pretty sure we found a mouse trap behind the mini-fridge that had a dead mouse on it…and that dead mouse had apparently died while trying to eat a smaller dead mouse.  At the apartment in San Francisco, my favorite discovery was this jar of mayo in the cupboard.  Expiration date: September ’08.  I tried to take a picture of it next to something white so you could see the color discrepancy:

Pretty gross, but I ate the whole jar.

Up until a week ago, I had never been to a self-storage facility.  I’m now convinced I’ll never go back to one.  In my head, storing possessions at one of these places is as simple as driving your truck right up next to your unit and unloading.  Kind of like this:

But reality is slightly different.  Reality is parking your truck in a tiny, crowded garage where there is only one elevator that everyone fights over to get your stuff up to your storage unit.  Reality is trying to navigate the world’s narrowest hallways with a dolly full of your possessions, while ducking under low-hanging pipes and lights.  And unfortunately, reality means realizing your storage unit is elevated about 10 feet above you, and good luck carrying those 70lb boxes up the librarian’s staircase without killing yourself.

This picture doesn’t do it justice. But picture those top units being 10 feet above ground and having a wobbly staircase as the only method to haul your shit up to them

After living in my new apartment for three days, here are the additional positives I’ve found that weren’t obvious when we toured the place in May: the flushing power of the toilet, the perfect temperature in the apartment by keeping the porch door open at all times (no need to use the central air so far), and the amount of power outlets throughout the place.

And here is the one negative I’ve found: lack of lighting even though there is an endless amount of light switches on the walls.  Seriously, there’s no overhead light in the living room, the bedroom or any of the closets.  And yet, there are at least seven light switches that do nothing, like they want to be used for overhead lights.  Even the kitchen is too dark in certain corners when the lights are on.  How many lamps will I have to buy to properly light this apartment?  It feels like more than five.

When Julie and I were moving in over the weekend, I was looking for one thing early on that I could start a huge all-out war over with her.  I picked the way she puts the toilet paper on the toilet paper dispenser.  I walked out of the bathroom on Saturday and said, “This just isn’t gonna work. You always put the toilet paper on upside down and I can’t live with that.”  I expected a fight, but instead she told me she didn’t even notice how she puts it on, it’s not even worth thinking about, and she’ll do it the way I want.  How dare she be so dismissive about something so important to me?

Speaking of the lady of the house…I folded a load of her laundry yesterday, and I never want to attempt it again.  My clothes have basically two shapes: regular-looking pants and regular-looking t-shirts.  My clothes are also made of only two possible materials: cotton and denim.  I know how to properly fold these shapes and materials.  Apparently a woman’s wardrobe consists of more variety: tank tops, strapless shirts, dresses with one sleeve, strapless dresses, skirts, shirts with a deep V-neck, normal length pants, three-quarter length pants, sweatshirts that look like shirts, shirts that look like sweatshirts, three different thicknesses of sweaters, belts that apparently go in the wash…and of course there are different materials that don’t want to fold like my cotton shirts.  Even though by living together we’re merging a lot of possessions, I’m pretty sure we’ll continue to do our laundry separately.

Adventures in Relocating: Losing My Mind over Home Entertainment Choices

I worry that I’ll come home one day to find Julie trapped inside my wire jungle

I have already lost two full days trying to solve this riddle, and there’s no end in sight.

In my current apartment, we have DirecTV, a DVR for recording shows, and a Blu-Ray player.  Our DirecTV package has most of the regular cable channels as well as HBO & Cinemax.  We have typically bought the NFL Ticket and MLB Extra Innings packages to watch football and baseball when they’re in season.  Our Blu-Ray player can stream Netflix Instant content.  Those are all of the options we have available at this time. While Netflix Instant is affordable at $8 per month, DirecTV rapes us to the tune of $124 per month.

With the move to the new place in LA only two weeks away, I thought this would be the right time to do a reset of my home entertainment packages to see if I can A) leverage different services and devices to have a broader choice in TV shows and movies, and B) cut out some significant costs from my current situation.

As I started researching this topic via the web and chatting with friends, I came across an endless amount of options: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO GO, Roku, AppleTV, iTunes, DirecTV, Comcast, On Demand, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, illegal downloading…

Don’t worry, this can go even one layer deeper in complexity when you start to consider the following: Netflix has its instant service and its regular/ship you dvd’s service; HBO GO only works if you have an active HBO subscription through a participating cable or dish provider, Hulu has free and plus services, Roku has four different devices with options on picture quality as well as having ports for your USB cable.  Not a single service seems to have “everything.”  For instance, Netflix Instant has almost every well-known TV show, but lags in making the newest seasons of shows available to you.  Hulu Plus’s claim to fame is that the newest episodes of currently airing TV shows are available the day after they air.  But their problem is they don’t have deals with all the major network and cable channels so some shows are missing.  Amazon looks awful for current TV shows but awesome for movies.

It also seems like if you were to create a spreadsheet that matched up all content providers (i.e. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon) with all the physical devices that the content can be streamed through (i.e. PS3, Xbox, Roku), your computer would probably explode.  Just like my head was about to do when I started to consider all these options.

Maybe the first thing I should figure out is what I really want access to. Ideally I want to be able to watch any new/currently airing TV shows close to the date that the new episodes actually air.  I also want to catch up on old seasons of still-airing shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and 30 Rock.  I need the ability to watch the playoffs of all major sports.  But I also need access to every Red Sox and Patriots game. Movies don’t matter as much: I just want the option to see most new movies that are coming out on DVD.

I know some people who have gotten rid of cable/satellite service all together and get their content exclusively from the Netflix and Hulu’s of the world.  This is the dream scenario, and I eventually want to get there. But here are three reasons why I’m reluctant to get rid of DirecTV/cable: playoff sports still have a lot of games on channels like ESPN, TBS, TNT; without cable I feel like I might miss out on something (there’s no logic to this feeling, it’s just an emotional reaction); and Julie will go ApeShit on me because all of the ridiculous shows she watches are on Food Network, MTV, E!, and TLC, and I don’t think she could get access to all of that content from another service.

I guess I’m leaning towards keeping DirecTV (but going back to the most basic package possible), and then buying a Roku to stream Netflix Instant and the MLB.tv package on my TV.  This will probably satisfy me for three months, at which time I will buy AppleTV, subscribe to Hulu Plus, buy a PlayStation 3, add HBO to my DirecTV package again so I can access HBO GO, and of course activate the NFL Ticket just in time for football season.

I’m exhausted from this talk we just had…any better suggestions for me?