Book Me!

Suggestion by fritz.

I’m an avid reader… who doesn’t read that much.

That’s the fantasy as compared to the reality.

I love books… always have. I just don’t actually sit down and do a lot of reading. Maybe the more accurate term for me would be “book lover”… because the words don’t actually imply the act of reading.

Yeah, I like that. That’s what I’ll go with:

I’m a book lover.

You know that silly crap they spew about books being “doorways to another world” and other magical metaphoric terms? Yeah… I buy into that 100%. To me, that’s not crap.

It is one of my long-term dreams to have a library in my house… and not just a small room to keep my books on a couple of makeshift shelves. I’m talking a full-on, two-story LIBRARY… with high shelves in which you need to climb a rolling ladder that’s permanently attached… with a balcony section with even more shelves up there, all filled to the brim with books.

And hardcover… lots of hardcover books. Sure, there’s no difference in content between the hardcover versions and paperback copies… but having a hardcover version just seems… I don’t know… more permanent… longer-lasting than a softcover. If I find a book series I really like… I’ll try to find it in hardcover. That’s what I did with Lord of the Rings… I wanted a really nice, classy, hardcover set that didn’t have pictures or references to the movies on them (even though I love the movies, I always find it cheesy to have “now a major motion picture” permanently printed on it). I even got the hardcover, complete collection of Calvin & Hobbes… even though it probably would have been cheaper to get the few remaining paperback collections I was missing. Hardcover is just… better. That’s why I like it when I find the inexpensive copies of old stories… like a collection of H.G. Wells stories, Thoreau’s Walden, or short-story collections. I even have nice little hardcover versions of the 2 original Winnie-the-Pooh books. Opening a solid cover, as opposed to a paper one, really feels more like “opening a door to another world” (I told you I buy into that 100%).

Too bad I acquire more books than I actually get around to reading…

The earliest book I remember reading and loving was The Little Bear books. There were only three of them (that I remember)… and one of them had him flying to the moon, another had him having a birthday party with his other little animal friends (because… well, he was a bear. A little one.), but I don’t recall the plot of the third one. I remember about 7 years ago, I was walking through a bookstore (as I was often want to do) and saw The Collected Little Bear… which was ALL three of those original books, bound together, and it was even hardcover. It had the one where he went to the moon… the one with his birthday party… and I still can’t recall the third one. *shrug* Needless to say, I made the impulse buy right then and there… because that’s one of those books that I wanted to definitely have for MY kids one day (when and if I should have them). Now I do (somewhere… I just have to remember where I stored it).

I remember doing a lot of reading in Middle School… probably because I wasn’t doing too much else, social-wise. That was the time I discovered John Bellairs… who I would probably consider to be one of my all-time favorite authors, solely because I enjoyed his books so much at that age. He wrote in the “Junior Readers” category… so you’d most likely find his books in the kids section… but they were SPOOKY. I’m talking these things had atmosphere to spare… creepy old houses, cobwebs, dark corridors, secret passages, old dormant mysteries, scary figures lurking about… if those books were written and reviewed today, I don’t think they’d have been put in the kid’s section… (but only because people are too damned sensitive these days.) The first book of his I ever picked up was A Figure in the Shadows, which was actually the second book in a trilogy that featured the same characters. I used it for a book report… and I thought it was absolutely fantastic! I went and found the other books… The House With a Clock in Its Walls, and The Letter, The Witch and the Ring… and enjoyed them just as much. Then I collected the Anthony Monday mysteries, and the Johnny Dixon mysteries… all characters of John Bellairs, and all had that same style of atmosphere. Even after I reached adulthood (an arguable statement, I know), I went back and re-read a couple of them… and they’re STILL really good. I say… F the “kid horror” writers like R.L. Stine and his ilk… they’re gross-out hacks that churn out bad plots for a quick buck… doesn’t impress me. You want to hit me with a good spooky story? Look to Bellairs… who rarely had blood… no gross-out scenes… just solid mystery and tension with well-written characters… in a kid’s book.

Plus… the guy’s from New England. Yep… he’s a local boy. Or was… he died in 1991. I was sorry to hear his passing… as I credit him with getting me into the Gothic Mystery genre… and even horror in general.

Come to think of it, he was probably the only “horror” writer I liked… I couldn’t find any others I considered memorable. The only other horror books I liked were short story collections like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (and its sequels More… and Even More…) and The Thing at the Foot of the Bed and other stories. Something about the “extreme” scary stories (that add in more gross-out and visceral ideas) that makes it fit into the short story form so much better in my eyes. They’re short, sweet… quick and to the point, not wasting any time… like getting to the punchline in a joke. Probably because I love the idea of “telling scary stories around a campfire”… and if you try to tell a Stephen-King-length novel in that situation… you’d get a Boy-Scout-style-Lynching. (Which I think involves being tied up with very complex knots and whittling) Edgar Allen Poe wrote mostly short stories… and pioneered the whole horror genre that way. Even the Bellairs books… are very quick reads, all things considered. Sure, there’s always the examples like Dracula (which I did my Senior Year Book Report on in High School… and covered the title page in fake blood) and Frankenstein…(who have both earned their pedigrees for a reason) and plenty of others. But I would consider those “exceptions”… because I think it takes considerable skill to write a horror story that big and still remain interesting. (And no… I’m personally not that crazy about Stephen King… his best works are short stories and novellas.) At best… most horror novels, especially the ones of today… elicit a “that wasn’t too bad” from me. But again, there are always exceptions.

So, in my youth, with the quality of literary horror lacking (movies were a much different story… and my standards were lower for those), I had to move to other genres. Back then, I did a lot of literal “judging a book by its cover”. Look at the cover illustration, read the blurb on the back... am I still interested? If I was… I checked it out of the school library. I remember finding one book that way… but I can’t remember the name of it for the life of me. It was about a kid inventor… who got his hands on a time machine and went looking for his adult friend who looked like a cartoon version of Ted Nugent. He went back to Camelot and cured the king with aspirin and even traveled to a future utopia/dystopia where he finally found his hippie friend. I think it had a long title… like “The adventures of (so-and-so) and his amazing (thing-a-ma-bobber)” But that’s all I remember. I want to re-locate it… pretty much solely out of nostalgic curiosity.

Another book I’ve been keeping an eye out for is a telling of the Hercules tale from Greek Mythology… this particular one had a head-on picture of Hercules on the cover, while wearing the pelt of the Nemean Lion… the full head of the lion being the headpiece of his armor. Seriously… it looked really badass. And the version was well-told and kept my interest (well… to the 12-year-old Me)… and went all the way from his birth to his death. Me want. Still.


When I hit high school… I still kept my technique of finding books to read… and now I was doing it in a bigger library. I then found the book that probably kick started my love of the “pulp adventure” genre (in the books, that is… of course I loved Indiana Jones and all those kinds of high-adventure movies set in the 1930s)… it was a more modern book written in that style… a series called Agent 13: The Midnight Avenger. Book 1 was The Brotherhood of Evil… it looked neat, it looked scary, it looked exciting, it looked like I was checking it out of the library. I read it. I loved it. It was just a fun, exciting read with international espionage, action and lots and lots of teenage-geek-style coolness. After that, I immediately checked out and read the sequel… The Serpentine Assassin. Again… it was great! Just as good as the first! I then went to get the third book, The Acolytes of Darkness… and they didn’t have it. I tried looking elsewhere… to some bookstores… but they didn’t have them either. In fact, all the bookstores didn’t even have the first two books… that school library was the ONLY place that I could find, in which those two Agent 13 books actually existed in reality. (It was kind of a frustrating search) Even after I got out of High School… I searched in vain for these books… especially because now I couldn’t check them out of the school library anymore, and I wanted to own them for myself. Nope… they were no where to be found.

Fast-forward to years later… when I first head out to California for Grad School… it’s actually the week I flew out there in advance to find a place to live and scope out this school I was about to attend, but had never seen before. There was this big 2-story used bookstore right on the edge of the downtown area… definitely the biggest and most well-stocked used bookstore I’ve ever seen (before or since), and right across from a really nice little old-style movie theater. The very first time I stepped in there to check it out, I look straight ahead where they had a huge rack of sci-fi/adventure paperback books… and I hadn’t been in that store for more than 5 seconds when my eyes drifted downward slightly… and I saw a copy of Agent 13: The Midnight Avenger – The Brotherhood of Evil. Out of sheer instinct I grabbed it, before ANYONE else could! (Even though there was no one else in the store) I opened the front flap to see how much they were asking for it: 2 dollars.

I walked out of there owning that book, needless to say. After years of search, I had the first book in my possession. I eventually even acquired the second book… through an online seller. Had to pay a little more, plus shipping… but it was still less than 10 bucks, and it was in good condition as well. And imagine my glee when I FINALLY located a copy of Acolytes of Darkness! It was printed along with another spy-thriller called Web of Danger (which I still haven’t read)… I now had all three! I re-read the first one… it was still fun! Re-read the second one… it was still great! I then, for the first time, got to read the conclusion to the whole story & series… and it blew.

Wow… probably one of the biggest disappointments I ever read. They took away the cool gritty exciting espionage action… and replaced it with lamely thought-out supernatural half-assed sequences that made no sense in the context of the previous stories. *shrug* Oh well… I still have the first two… and I just look at the ending of the second to be a cool cliffhanger that will never be resolved… which is all the more exciting for it. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

As you can probably see… my “leisure-time-reading” was solely about my own personal entertainment, not so much about expanding my own mind with the “classics” and examples of great, intelligent literature. The closest I came was reading Dracula for that book report… and that’s one I really WANTED to read, and just wanted an excuse to do so.

Whenever I did hit the “classics”… well, it was for a class. Frankly, when you HAVE to read something… you don’t really want to. They weren’t all bad… Freshman year I got to read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World… which I liked, because how often did I get to read science fiction in school? And I remember Camus’ The Stranger being pretty interesting (Senior Year)… but most of the others, not so much. Junior year especially… the year you focus on “American Literature” solely… I actually HATED every single book we had to read. Though, I actually blame my teacher for that. He just made everything seem so mind-numbingly boring. He was this pretentious a-hole that thought everyone was stupid (and if he didn’t think that… he sure acted like it), and was overly-tough on his classes. (Now, I have no problem with tough teachers… I’ve had plenty… but they were fair… and interesting, which is why I did well in those classes. This guy was ONLY tough… and neither fair nor interesting) The first book he made me utterly hate was The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

That’s a book I will NEVER give another shot to, I hated it so much. When I discovered that Hawthorne actually died in the town I went to college, it actually made me happy. Whenever I walked by his memorial plaque in the park, I gave it the finger. Granted, the hatred was more of a result of this teacher’s work then Hawthorne’s. When explaining why he took five pages to describe what a garden looked like that was sitting outside of someone’s house, the teacher would talk about how brilliant Hawthorne was, and how poetic his prose was, and how it paints such a detailed picture, blah blah blah. (When in actuality, the reason for the overly-long descriptions? Authors back then were paid by the word. The longer the book, the more money you made, and they all had house payments to make.)

The other books I was made to hate? The Great Gatsby, The Adventures of Huck Finn and The Catcher in the Rye. Now… years after I got out of high school… I decided to give The Catcher in the Rye another chance… mainly because I started hearing that it was tied into so many conspiracy theories. (Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald both supposedly had it in their pockets during their respective killings… so did Mark David Chapman, John Hinkley Jr., etc) Whether it was true or not, I don’t know… but it intrigued me enough to try and see what the fuss was about. I still don’t know the fuss… but I did enjoy the book a LOT more when reading it on my own time… and I don’t think it had to do with my maturity level now as opposed to then. To try and describe the book to someone… it wouldn’t sound interesting. But actually reading it… I thought it was well-done, and it actually kept my interest.

I’ve started Huck Finn a couple of times… but always got distracted with life before I got too far, and ended up putting it down for so long, that I would have to start over. Maybe I’ll have to give The Great Gatsby another try sometime. Maybe I’d like it. Just *that* teacher made it unbearable.

Fortunately, I had other teachers that were better at it. Hell, it was my Graduate Advisor that insisted I get into the Harry Potter series. I resisted for awhile… mainly because it was “popular”… but when I finally did, I was completely hooked. Sure, Potter lives… but Longbottom kicks ass! Boo-ya!

(I could probably do a whole geek blog on Harry Potter alone.)

These days… I still try to read every now and then... and my tastes have opened up more. I actually find pleasure in reading non-fiction books these days (the subjects I’m interested in, obviously)… and I’ve been trying to get to books and series that are modern “classics”, but I just never got around to reading before. I started reading the original James Bond books by Ian Fleming… I’m on the third one, Moonraker (though I haven’t picked it up in a while). And I was very happy to see that they were re-publishing some of the old The Shadow pulp stories that came out in the 1930s (Since really discovering him in the early 90s, he’s become one of my absolute favorite characters of all time), so I’ve been collecting some of them when I can. Plus, as I am a proud geek, they still occasionally publish new Doctor Who books (featuring the older versions of the character… taking place in between the episodes of the old series) that I occasionally indulge in.

Maybe its just pure escapism… I’m okay with it. I just love the feeling of buying a new book… and I frequent book stores as often as I can. With the bigger stores, I tend to browse around the Bargain section a lot… if there’s a specific book I want… I’ll usually order it cheaper online. But I like digging through and taking chances on books in the hopes that I’ll find a really neat treasure somewhere in there… a great story, or an interesting subject… or maybe just an outdated horoscope (if it looks funny enough).

Because I think there are perfectly acceptable times to judge a book by its cover.

Literally, that is.


Sexual HISassment

That was what a friend of mine in college called it. Her reasoning was that “if a guy ever tried it with me… that’s what I’d get. His ASS!”

She was also the only woman, nay, the only PERSON that, during a Strike (the one-night takedown of an entire set at the end of a show), grabbed the chainsaw (before I could) and yelled out, “Where do I start??” Ah, a woman with a penchant for power tools and destruction… So, *I* thought she was the cat’s meow.

Her description of it, to me, actually seems to be a lot more accurate. At least, it’s a lot more accurate as to what would happen to ME if I were caught up in it. Then again, I’m one paranoid sucker.

Suffice to say, I’m more or less terrified at the idea of being accused of Sexual Harassment. (And I don’t throw around the word “terrify” lightly) Years ago, when I was first entering the workforce during high school with a job washing dishes… I assumed that it’s probably something that never would have to worry me, because I was a respectful guy. I assumed “Sexual Harrassment” invariably involved ass-grabbing and very blunt, straightforward orders to remove clothing and perform… *ahem*… “non-work functions” while on the clock. And seeing as how I flat-out knew that women were not objects, but rather belonged to the same sentient and intelligent species category that *I* did… what did I have to worry about? I’m polite and cordial to everyone… and since I’m not a touchy-feely person, I won’t have to worry about people claiming I molest them. As for the female co-workers I was attracted to? Well, I knew I was too chicken to do anything, so how can anyone complain about advances I’m not making? To me, it’s always been “Look, but don’t touch” when it comes to women in the workplace.

Now, thankfully, I’ve never been accused of Sexual Harassment, or even reprimanded for it. But what I *did* do… was read about it. I’m not talking about just the examples given by Human Resources whenever I had to take the “mandatory sexual harassment workshop” (isn’t there a better title? It almost sounds like they’re going to show you how to do it… and that’s not the kind of job training I expect). Those workshops really only give you the obvious clear-cut scenarios, where there is NO doubt in anyone’s mind that “yes, what that guy is doing is sexist, an abuse of power, inappropriate, wrong, and 100% no-ifs-and-or-buts-about-it Sex-U-All Harassment!”

They DON’T tell you about the examples from the ugly gray area… the cases that sound flat-out shady and miscarriages of the system. The cases that to any logical individual aren’t actually sexual harassment… but are called, tried, and convicted as such. These are some of the cases I read about… the ones that got me REAL paranoid.

Like a guy who simply came up behind a colleague and tapped her on the shoulder with one finger just to get her attention. No, the colleague had no problem with it. It was the THIRD person… another woman who was *watching*, and suddenly ran to HR saying, “He was feeling for her bra strap! Sexual Harrassment!” The guy lost his job… and somehow the complainer got money out of it.

Or the woman that brought a lawsuit against her company for Sexual Harassment because… everyone in the office was hooking up and getting into relationships with each other and… wait for it… she WAS LEFT OUT!!! Yes, NOTHING happened to her… and THAT’S why she was complaining! And… she… *won*. A very large settlement.

Or the example I heard not too long ago on a morning radio show… A woman went to a male co-worker, because she discovered that he “found something funny”, and when she asked him about it, he refused to tell her… because he flat-out said it was raunchy and inappropriate. She pressed him, asking for the internet link. He still refused. She insisted, and kept insisting that she really wanted to see it. So, eventually he relented, and by her permission and emphatic request… he sent her the link. Two days later, he was called into HR, because that same woman then complained, and called Sexual Harassment. The company, wanting to avoid any and all trouble whatsoever… fired the guy, on what they admitted was very flimsy grounds for Sexual Harassment.

What- The- F---K???

That’s when I realized exactly what Sexual Harassment is. And every time I had to go to another mandatory Sexual Harassment Workshop, I expressed this out loud. Because invariably, the whole thing would start off with a manager or some outside “consultant” (brought in specially for this “training”) asking the very simple question:

“So, what *is* Sexual Harassment?”

It’s a standard technique in seminars (Hell, *I’ve* even used it). I don’t know, maybe it makes the speaker seem smart for “stating it so simply”. But they’ll go around the room and get everyone’s “answer/opinion”… and then poke holes in everyone’s answer, all in a set-up to simply get to THEIR definition, stated in a “nice, convenient, accurate wording” which is, in reality, the language of “Legalese”. People will talk back and forth, spouting something about “Well, what about *this*? Or how about *this situation*?”… and the speaker will be pleased because they initiated a “dialog” that goes on for an hour, but it doesn’t teach anyone anything new, yet everyone THINKS they learned something new, and walks out of the conference room saying, “Wow, that was enlightening”… without ever actually solving or changing anything.

My answer is quick, dirty, simple… and I don’t see how you can poke a hole in it, or ask a question that can’t be answered simply by repeating the exact wording. And it’s this:

Sexual Harassment is whatever the Accuser says it is.

It covers every “interpretation” point that is made when talking about “comfort” and an “appropriate work environment”… but I can tell that people don’t usually like me to state it like that… because it also encompasses a very ugly truth. This is the fact that Sexual Harassment has the capacity to be a Witch Hunt.

I’m sure we all know what a Witch Hunt is, right? For those that may not be sure: It’s looking for something that isn’t there, and finding it anyway.

The Salem Witch Trials in the 1600s… no one there was *actually* a Witch. It was just an excuse to get your neighbor’s land if they didn’t want to sell it to you cheap. They accuse you as a Witch, and that’s your death sentence… and you have no defense.

The McCarthy Communist Hearings of the 1950s… Hundreds of people blacklisted because someone named them “Communist” (accurately or not), and even though they were on a public “trial”… again, the accusation IS the sentence, with no due process and no defense.

Sexual Harassment has that ability. No guy wants to hear those words, because no matter what the facts are, chances are he’s losing his job (at the very least). Even if there IS direct evidence showing his innocence… he’s already been put through the ringer so much that he *couldn’t* stay there, even if he wanted to.

Higher-ups will admit, “yes, it can unfortunately be that way… that’s why WE thoroughly investigate the validity of each to fairly assess each situation and find the truth!” Sounds great… that’s what *should* be happening… but that takes a lot of time… and when the Accuser is on the horn to their lawyer, who is in turn pushing that paperwork through as fast as possible… well, the pressure starts coming down faster than a penny off the Empire State… and if something isn’t resolved *fast*, then the consequences just start piling up. Too often, the word comes down from on High saying, “make this go away”. The easiest way to do that? Eliminate the source of the apparent “problem”.

Now, I’m definitely not saying that ALL Sexual Harassment suits are attempts to cruelly ruin someone’s life for no reason, or looking for a big payout. Nor am I suggesting that all Accusers don’t FEEL threatened and harassed… which is the biggest legal snag. (How can you argue feelings? You can’t. That’s why they pretty much HAVE to side with the Accuser.) I’d like to think the vast majority of reports are legitimate and honest. (But not in the sense that I like to hear about people being accosted.)

Every angle of the whole issue is just so muddy and foggy, 100 times more than it’s even made out to be. Even if your company is incredibly strict on it… they’re still underestimating all the ramifications. And yes, I know it is fully possible for Men to be Sexually Harassed by Women. Now, pretty much my only example of that is an episode of Three’s Company, where Jack Tripper (John Ritter) was working at a restaurant, and his female boss kept grabbing his butt. (There was a movie with Demi Moore and Michael Douglas about that too… but I never saw it.) But I think, deep down… with everyone “knowing how guys are”… people probably don’t take that as seriously as they should.

Sure, I’ve heard the statistics that say how a lot of people end up dating and marrying people they work with… but what about the instances when it doesn’t work out? If there’s a bad breakup… and then you have to still see that person every day? (I know I’m, at the very least, uncomfortable being the same area as an Ex.) Oooch, that’s just a recipe for bad karma, right there.

That’s why I do my best to remain Asexual when it comes to women I work with. I so blatantly keep my eyes above chest level, most people think I’m fascinated by the ceiling tiles. Yet, despite all my efforts, sometimes just the circumstance of owning a penis tends to throw it all out the window.

I used to work at a women’s clothing catalog… Now, it wasn’t the first or last time I’d been outnumbered at a job, gender-wise… but definitely the one where I had the greatest odds against me. Including myself, I think there were 5 guys in that office, compared to 150 women. Two of those guys were corporate, and were locked inside their office all day. So that left 3 male cubicle-jockeys in the joint to sell women’s clothing alongside the legion of actual target customer demographic. (Oddly enough… I was actually good at selling clothing to women I’d never seen.) Some guys would consider that “heaven on earth”… not me. Eyes on my computer, ears on my phone system, and just do my job. Last thing I need is to give a reason to be lynched by a score of scorned women.

Still… it didn’t stop many women there from believing that I *was* there with the intention of feeding my libido. I actually got several dirty looks from women that believed that just because I was walking past them and said “hi” when they looked at me… figured that meant I obviously wanted to do the horizontal hokey-pokey with them. There was one that was actively telling people that I “had a thing” for her, and she was annoyed at me for it. When a friend of mine told me this, (one of the few really cool gals I met… who was in a relationship, so off-limits) and asked if it was true, I said:


Yeah, methinks she was only seeing what she wanted to see. To the point of complete self-delusion.

Hell, I might have had a case MYSELF… I was having an uncomfortable work experience because I was being judged on my gender. Hell… I could have paid off college years ago!

Anyway, with the next job I had… I decided to try something. This was when I went off to Grad School, and ended up going back to my roots… washing dishes. When I started there, I made the resolution to not let ANYONE know what my sexuality was.

Granted, it’s not one of the first things that come up in conversation… but I’ve been thought to be Gay before, and that’s from no effort on my part. So maybe I actually get that to work *for* me this time around. (There was always the extremes… either I’m Gay, or a disgusting chauvinistic pig. Apparently no room for the “nice guy” category that I’ve always tried for) With a little effort, I got pretty good at being very cryptic and ambiguous with the things I said, especially when asked questions of a love/dating nature, or that were just plain risqué. (When working in restaurants, those subjects come up on pretty much an hourly basis. Its how we got through the day.) One day, one of the waitresses was flat-out asking me if I “liked” any of the other waitresses, and was mentioning each individually by name. My answer for each one: “She’s not my type.”

It worked! I was avoiding that attitude of “He’s straight and has a penis, so he must *obviously* want me”… and having a pleasant time at work, and not getting the standoffish treatments from the single gals. Yes, no one should really care about that gay/straight kind of thing… but it’s often entertaining to see how many people DO care. Even the ones that say they don’t.

And when the day came that a young lady I was dating came in to see me… and after talking with her briefly, we kissed goodbye… the look of utter shock on everyone’s faces was absolutely priceless. I just stopped, turned my head, and said, “Yes, I’m straight”… then continued on. I could hear my boss say, “I was *wondering*…”

(Not only a neat social experiment… but a fun way to screw with people. I highly recommend it, if you have the opportunity.)

One of my first Temp jobs when I got back to New England was for a company down in Massachusetts. And my cubicle was smack next to the resident “hot chick”. Pretty face, blonde hair, tanned skin, yadda yadda… all the stuff that appeals to the superficial guy. My total conversational time with her over the 6 months I was there, totaled to a 15 second conversation by the vending machine one morning. That’s it. Frankly, I just didn’t give a crap.

I swear, on almost a daily basis, guys twice her age would be flirting with her. They just “happen” to swing by to “see how you’re doing? How was your night last night? Do you work out? If you ever need anything, let me know… etc” Funny how they never seem to swing by MY cubicle to say that… or anyone else’s, really. To her credit… I think I detected some annoyance in her voice on some of these numerous occasions.

One morning, she came in… and had just locked her keys in her car. Simple mistake… I’ve done it a bunch of times myself. But she has sometime in the next 8 hours to find a solution… locksmith, AAA, ask a favor whatever. She doesn’t actually ask for help, but does try to think of what she’ll do. Then… I see FIVE guys… count them, FIVE… *immediately* jump up to run out to the parking lot to get her keys out. Two of them grab coat hangers, another says he has a slim jim in his car… and I don’t even know why the other two went out. I was almost crushed underneath the shockwave of testosterone. 20 minutes later... (for a 5 minute job… methinks it did not go smoothly) all five come strutting in declaring satisfied success in a manly way.

Wow… it was F’n pathetic.

The young accountant in the corner cubicle pushing 300 lbs probably wouldn’t have gotten that level of attention. I’m just saying…

That’s walking a very iffy line. If she ever thought for a bit, and decided that she didn’t want so much attention… she would probably have a case.

Honestly… I wish I had some kind of conclusion to come to here. But the rules of the issue change back and forth, differ from place to place, person to person and situation to situation so often… it all really does is just support my earlier summation.

Sexual Harassment is whatever the Accuser says it is.

At the very least… it’s worth repeating.

So, thank you… to the over-sensitive accusers, and the under-sensitive perpetrators… for making me so freaking paranoid I barely leave my cubicle, because everyone will think I’m looking at their cans.

I hate you all.

(Besides, I’m more of a Leg-and-Butt Man. *grin*)


I Be Smert

Time: A while back, morning.

Set-up: Driving to work, hungry. Swing in to the on-the-way Dunkin Donuts to grab a breakfast sandwich. Normally when I do this, I get a Sausage, Egg & Cheese on an English Muffin. On this particular day, I decide to get something different: A Bacon, Egg & Cheese on an English Muffin. (Yeah, I’m a wild one)

The Event: I pull into the drive-through, getting hungry for my forthcoming Bacon, Egg & Cheese on an English Muffin. After making my way through the long morning convoy up to the little speaker in which we declare our nutritional choices for that time, I speak my order. The disembodied voice on the other side repeats it back… as a question. A question? Why is she questioning my choice? What’s wrong with a Bacon, Egg & Cheese on an English Muffin? I repeat my request… adding a “please”. She repeats it back again… as a question… and she sounds confused. Is the speaker not working too well? Is she getting static on her end? I repeat my order again… slowly and loudly, even over-enunciating it. Again, she questions it! Huh? I don’t normally go to this Dunkin Donuts, so I highly doubt she recognizes me and is thinking, “Hey, he normally orders Sausage on it… why is he getting Bacon? Is everything all right?” No… and this refusal to fulfill my very simple order is starting to get to me. I’m getting downright agitated. Again, I repeat it… slowly, loudly… the contempt in my voice is coming through. This happens for another THREE times… and I’m ready to run inside and push this lady into the Fry-o-lator!

Then she says, “You don’t want Egg on it?”

That’s when it clicks in… I was THINKING, “Bacon, Egg & Cheese on an English Muffin”…. But I’m SAYING, “Bacon, SAUSAGE & Cheese on an English Muffin.”

Now, the proper thing to do is apologize profusely, admit my mistake, and say, “Yes, indeed… I *did* want Egg on that, cancel the sausage, thank you.” Feel stupid for a minute, then eat my tasty breakfast sandwich… not a big deal, right?

But what do *I* say, instead?

“Uh… Yes! That’s what I said! A Bacon, Sausage & Cheese on an English Muffin… that’s EXACTLY what I want!”

That’s right… in an effort not to LOOK stupid… I do something even MORE stupid. Take a position of authority, and steadfastly declare that I’m right, and did NOT in fact, make a mistake (even though I did). As a result, I pretty much overdose on greasy, processed, micro-waved meat… which sits in my stomach all day. Ugh. And I feel I’ve permanently become a dumber individual for it. *shrug*

I’m the first to admit I’m an idiot.

Admittedly, a large part of saying that is my self-deprecating sense of humor. Because we’ve all done stupid stuff in our lives, and will continue to do so until our dying day. (The success of certain TV shows is a testament to that) Every mistake you’ve made, understandable or not, always seemed like a good idea at the time. If there’s one thing that’s truly universal and limitless… it’s human stupidity. So to single myself out in that fashion isn’t exactly a breakthrough… and fairly pointless. But I think it’s funny.

Now, I’ll sometimes talk to people that see a statement like, “Don’t mind me, I’m just an idiot” to be a psychological Red Flag, and immediately kick in the Oprah-Instinct saying, “No… You’re NOT an idiot… you’re a wonderful, intelligent human being who only made a simple mistake! Love yourself!”

“Uh… okay? And while I’m doing that… can you please chill-out?”

Okay, just for the Oprahs out there, I am indeed going to throw aside modesty for a few moments, and just lay down some facts:

-I have a Master’s Degree. A Master of Fine Arts Degree, to be precise, which is more specialized and took an extra year to get. Graduated with a 3.91 GPA.

-I’ve taken 2 different IQ tests at 2 different times… and scored 138 on one, and 145 on the other. The scale on both put 140 as either borderline Genius, or well IN the Genius arena.

-I’ve taught at the college level.

Those are probably the biggest, most impressive qualifications. If you want to get into some of the nitty gritty geeky examples:

-I finished the game MYST in about 5 hours, without hints or help… when most people I talked to took at least 40+.

-The first Sudoku puzzle I tried was the “Ultra-Super-Insane” difficulty level… and I finished it inside an hour.

-I know, and understand, the concept of Schrodinger’s Cat.

-And if I compared my knowledge and understanding of Shakespeare to the average person (and even some teachers I’ve had)… I would totally School them.

Okay, so the more examples I give, the geekier I sound, and the idea of “being intelligent” doesn’t sound so appealing… but the bottom line is:

I know I’m not an idiot.

I do indeed have a brain, and I’m not afraid to use it.

The reason I engage in my self-deprecation on a regular basis has to do with what I was tossing aside a minute ago: Modesty. (The Comedy is a bonus)

Modesty keeps me in check. It’s a big, wondrous world out there, with so much information… it’s impossible to ever be able to absorb it all. (Part of why I also consider IQ tests to be a bit subjective, that’s why I don’t put much importance in my high scores.) Modesty keeps me on a more even level… and gives me a better view of everything, and actually gets me to absorb even more of the world around me… large and small. (Being at the egotistical top or bottom… really only gives you one point of view.)

Personally… I think it’s an admirable quality to have, and wouldn’t mind seeing more people with it. Because big egos Suck. Now, I have been known to go the other direction with my humor… and occasionally spout lines such as:

“Oh, you didn’t get the memo? You see… I’m awesome.”

“Well, I do have a distinct and unfair advantage: I’m Polish.”

“I am the Man with a Capital ‘M’!”

“It truly is a bane being this Hot…”

Again, I do this for comedy. I think those statements are so exaggerated and over-the-top, that I can’t see how anyone would take them seriously. Also provides a change of pace from the “I consider it your fault, because I *am* an idiot” type of discourse. Even though, I usually follow one of these self-inflating statements with an intentional bit of silly foolishness. (Hopefully, to emphasize the comedy)

It’s the genuine big egos we gotta watch out for. Because Big Egos are the ones that are real good at building themselves up… but they’re also good at pushing others down.

One big lesson I learned when I did “Improvisation Sports”… when you try to make yourself look good, then Nobody looks good. But when you try to make OTHERS look good… then Everyone looks great. (Plus, it always makes for better and funnier scenes.) I think this applies verbatim to real life. It’s always more productive to “Build-up” then to “Tear Down”. So I’ll readily sing the praises of the awesomeness of my friends… because it feels good, makes them smile, and makes them want to hang out with me more.

Yet, I do have people in my life that love to build themselves up… and they seem to prefer doing it by pushing me down. (It’s hard to avoid them… being related to them and all.)

And it’s all too easy to tear people down. Because no matter how many degrees I have, no matter the IQ score or whatever I’ve done in life… there’s plenty of things I don’t know anything about. So there are many times I’ll say something that I’m mistaken on… and man, they jump on that stuff faster than a cat on a mouse! For the next hour, this error is then shoved relentlessly in your face. (Which is as fun as it sounds.)

What’s even more fun is the times that you’re *helping* the Big Egos with a task, they tell you what they need you to do, and even when you’re doing it exactly that way… they start to get mad at YOU because it’s not all going as smoothly as they planned… never thinking that they botched the initial explanation. Nope… it’s just easier to yell and treat you like a 5-year-old moron. Albert Einstein wouldn’t be safe around these people.

I’ve said similar statements before… There’s a big difference between BEING stupid and FEELING stupid.

I know I’m not stupid… but I know what it’s like to feel stupid.

That’s one of the reasons for using the Comedy like I do… if I point out my own mistakes and *I’m* the one saying I’m the idiot… that pretty much defuses anyone else’s attempts to sincerely knock me down a few needless pegs. (Doesn’t always work, but generally does the trick) They have no steam or ammunition to use against me, because I already did it. Very close friends (Level 1 and high Level 2s…) can get away with calling me an “idiot” once in a great while… and only when I’m vocally encouraging it. (It’ll be something like, “Just call me an idiot, and tell me to shut up, okay?”)

That’s also why I go out of my way to try and make sure I don’t treat anyone ELSE like they’re stupid. I’m not saying I’ve never done it… but it surely wasn’t intentional, those times that I did. I’m hesitant to ever declare someone utterly “stupid”… because I’m sure there’s some hidden genius within them. Maybe it’s working on cars… or history and applications of Beautician techniques… or Watch-making. All things I’m not in the least bit interested in… (okay, the Watch-making could be cool)… but doesn’t make that person stupid, or even any less intelligent then me. It’s just a different kind of intelligence. If we did a test based on “Automobile IQ”… I don’t think I’d score very high… because my exposure in life was not to cars and trucks. In that realm, I’d be stupid… and I’d feel stupid as soon as I see the test results. But as soon as the conversation turned to Shakespeare… boy, watch out!

And one thing I’ll never do? I consciously make it a point to NEVER EVER say these words:

“I told you so.”

There’s words that will make you feel dumber… but not many. Being on the receiving end of that situation; you’re told someone’s opinion… your decision for action goes AGAINST that opinion… and you fail? Well… a person that says “I Told You So” feels a little higher… a little bigger, a little smarter… because they knew what you obviously didn’t… and just to be sure, they’re pointing it out.

Those words have absolutely NO value, intrinsic or otherwise in the world. They don’t solve the problem, they only point out folly. It builds the speaker up by pushing the listener down.

When I give an opinion, and the other person goes against it… and fails… guess what? They already KNOW what I told them. They were there. In fact, they may be feeling dumb already because they know “they were told so”… so wasted words don’t need to be said. (Even those people that innocently say, “I’m just saying, I told you so”… thinking they’re being innocent and not in-your-face obnoxious? It IS obnoxious, because there’s still no point to say it. Why are you bothering?) And since it wouldn’t solve the problem… well, I figure that’s the more important issue on the table (rather than my own ego-stroking), so why not just get that taken care of? Has the situation/problem changed at all? So tackle it anew, and fix what is broken… get on with a more productive life.

If anything, I feel it’s my job to build that person back up… remind them that even though they failed this one time… they’re still awesome. (If I’m giving them my opinion and advice, I most likely think that already) And NOT to blindly “take my advice next time”… because I’m not always going to be right. In fact, they did what they SHOULD have done… listen to the advice/opinion, assess it within themselves, and using their *own* judgment, make a decision on what they think is the right thing to do. Sure we’ll all make mistakes. That’s what being human is all about.

So be human.

And let’s get stupid.


Bad Dubbing, Cool Flips and Rubber Suits… Gimme!

With encouragement by Fritz

I don’t know why… but I *love* Asian Entertainment.

Martial Arts films, Monster Movies, Anime… yes, please. Right here!

Now, I am not Asian. Not even partially. I’m not related to anyone Asian, nor have I ever been to Asia. Yet, when my fascination for it started, the only real-world exposure I had was seeing the owners/operators of the China Moon Restaurant in Stoneham, Massachusetts. The first time I recall even having an Asian Classmate was in 5th grade, when a girl actually from Taiwan suddenly appeared in my class. I don’t remember how long she was there… but she wasn’t there at the end of the year. The next was in 6th grade when we moved to New Hampshire… and that guy was a Prick. (AND his family owned the local Chinese Restaurant… hate to sound like I’m perpetuating a stereotype, but that was a fact. *shrug* Good food, though…)

So, most of my experience… was movies.

Saturday afternoons… just after lunch… the “Creature Double Feature”. Almost invariably, one of those films would be a Godzilla movie. Well, I say “Godzilla”, but that’s basically what we called EVERY giant monster movie with a guy in a rubber suit; a “Godzilla Movie”. My oldest brother was the bigger Godzilla fan… his favorite character was Jet Jaguar, a tiny robot that grew huge, who was only in one of the movies. (I have to admit… he *was* pretty bitchin) I had a personal preference in the Gamera series… he was the giant Turtle. Probably only because he was *different* than Godzilla, and hence, I didn’t have to feel like I was copying my brother. Now, these were the old 60’s and 70’s monster movies… which veritably SCREAMED of “Cheese”. But when you’re a young boy whose age is in the single digits… they’re the greatest cinematic achievements known to mankind, hands down. Despite the fact they all had the same plot:

Godzilla appears. Another monster appears. Godzilla and Other Monster fight. Godzilla gets hurt, Other Monster reigns supreme. Japanese people try to find and exploit weakness of Other Monster, and fail. Godzilla comes back. Godzilla and Other Monster fight again. Godzilla kicks Other Monster’s Ass to Bloody Hell. Credits roll.

One time I was watching Rocky III, and it hit me… it’s the same damn plot! Rocky has moved out of the Sports Movie genre… and is officially a Japanese Giant Monster Film.

When I got into my late-teens… I cast aside such “silly pursuits”. (At least, that’s what I told people… I still watched them as a guilty pleasure.) Then, as I got towards college, my brother discovered that they were making “new” Godzilla films… and they were really good. He bought a bootleg of one from a mail-order in the back of a Fangoria magazine (or something)… Godzilla vs. King Ghidora. Still the whole man-in-a-rubber-suit… but the filmmakers got *good* at it… adding in a few modern-type special effects, and I had to admit, it was pretty darn entertaining. When I got to college, I made friends with a guy who was ALSO a Godzilla fan… but he had MORE of the new movies. So, I got to watch them… some were still a bit cheesy… but still enjoyable nonetheless. They satisfied my inner-creature-double-feature-watching-Kid with the badass monsters and wanton destruction… my slightly-more-mature-cinematic-sensibilities with the effects and storytelling… and my sense of humor with just the right amount of cheesy-looking silliness. They were the perfect movies!

Then… my friend told me that there were re-makes of the Gamera series as well. I was intrigued… because he was my favorite. So when he said he was making a trip down to Boston’s Chinatown, to hopefully pick up the final Godzilla movie he didn’t have (Godzilla versus Destroyah… the one where Godzilla dies!)… he asked me if I wanted him to pick me up a copy of Gamera, should they have it. I said, “Yes, please!”, gave him the money… and as luck would have it…when he came back, he had Gamera: Guardian of the Universe with him. (This was back in the end days of VHS… about 2 years before DVD came out)

That… was a Freaking Sweet movie. The effects were on par with the new Godzilla movies… and the story was great! Seriously… the actual tale being told was a good one! It was my new favorite Giant Monster Movie. All hail the Turtle!

They made 2 sequels… and I saw and bought the third one… now on DVD. Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris. Now… watching this movie… you know it’s a guy in a suit… but it *doesn’t look* like a guy in a suit! Holy crap… this movie was better in most every way to any Godzilla film I’ve ever seen… Story, effects, action… Oochie Mama! It was freaking brilliant! Never mess with a turtle that’s so determined to kick your ass, that it blows off its own hand with a fireball. I’m just saying… that’s probably good advice.

My oldest brother even admits that the new Gamera Trilogy (as it’s known as)… are the best Monster Movies ever made. Now, we both swear by them. So, if you’re ever in the mood to satisfy your inner-six-year-old-destruction-craving-self… the Gamera Trilogy is the way to go.

Though, recently… I did pick up the Original Godzilla movie from 1954… the first one that started the whole trend of a guy in a rubber suit. I bought the special edition that has BOTH versions… the one with Raymond Burr spliced in for the American audiences… and the Japanese original… Gojira. First, I watched the Raymond Burr one… and fell asleep. The Japanese version, is longer, and no Raymond Burr… and now I’ll never see the Raymond Burr one again. Supports the theory… “Always go with the original”.

The other kind of movie that Japan does really well (at least that I watch)… is their Animation. But it’s better than Animation… it’s just “Anime”. Because apparently, when you get cool, mature and edgy… you don’t bother to say the end syllables. The first Anime I saw was Vampire Hunter D. Very dark, very gothic and very violent… so naturally, it was loved by me and my pre-teenage self. The first time I realized that there’s some animation that wasn’t for kids… and look what it started; a whole new area of Geek for little ole me.

I was always a bigger fan of the Sci-Fi and Horror Animes (big surprise, right?). The “period” pieces that dealt with the Samurais and high fantasy… weren’t my cup of tea. Nah, I prefer my Anime to be set in the 20th century or later.

My absolute earliest exposure to it was the old Force Five series that played in the mornings before school. Each day of the week was a different show. There was Grandizer; an alien outcast disguised as a farmhand who discreetly hid his giant robot behind a waterfall... Danguard Ace; a flying battleship that also turned into a giant robot… Starvengers; 3 badass ships that combined in 3 different badass ways to make 3 different badass Giant Robots… Gai King; the baddest-ass of all the Giant Robots, and sort of the flagship show of the whole Force Five lineup… and as awesome as they all were, my personal favorite was Spaceketeers; 3 guys with little mini-ships escorting a galactic princess across the galaxy… and the only show that didn’t focus on Giant Robots.

Since my resurged interest, one that became amongst my favorites is the series Bubblegum Crises Tokyo 2040. It’s a reboot/remake of the original Bubblegum Crisis… and while more fans apparently swear by the original… I prefer the newer one, because there’s more episodes and better animation… but that’s just me. The concept is basically just hot chicks in super-armor kicking the crap out of robots that are going bonkers. It’s a dangerous combination of appealing to my geek side and my inner 13-year old that’s entering puberty. Call it a guilty pleasure… I just call it entertaining.

Other favorites are Ghost In the Shell (that’s a big one), Spriggan, Hellsing, Wolf’s Rain, Witch Hunter Robin, the original Fist of the North Star and the ultra-violent Guyver. (It’s a testosterone thing)

I’ve never seen Dragonball Z, but have heard its praises… but I’m still not desiring to see it. Yes, I’ve been subjected to Pokemon… and the sheer concept baffles me to no end. I’ve also seen some of the more “romance” series… like Love Hina, Please Teacher! (which was… odd), Please Twins (the not-so-odd sequel) and a few others. While I’m fascinated by the idea that this comic-book and animation medium has so many different genres and stories (the number of various titles produced in Japan is staggering!)… those just aren’t my cup of tea.

And a word about the “Hentai” genre: Uh… Why? It’s just porn… which is fine. Plenty of people want to see that. But conceptually… why? The comics (or “manga”) are easy enough to make, that’s fine. There are plenty of smutty comics and drawings out there… go nuts. But knowing how much work and time goes into ANIMATION… even for just a half-hour show (about 9 months), it just seems so… pointless to put all that effort into something that could more efficiently, more quickly, and much more easily be filmed in ONE day with live, willing actors. (I think it’d be sexier too… but that’s just me.) Granted, it would be funny to be a fly on the wall when they’re doing the voice recording of that. For the voice-actors… it’s gotta be humbling, just moaning into a microphone.

Oh, and for the Hentai that involves the “Naughty Tentacles”… uh… I’ll be over here, just let me know when you’re finished. For those readers that have no clue what I mean… Trust me… You don’t want to know. *shudder*

I don’t want to seem like I’m only having a thing for Japan. That’s not the only country I think of when I think about “Asian”. Hell, it’s really just a small island in comparison to the rest of it. Face it… China completely dwarfs it in size, though I don’t know about populations. But Japan is the specific place that’s associated with Anime and Giant Monster Movies (“Kaiju”, I believe it’s called).

China, on the other hand… that’s where I generally go for my Kung-Fu movies! (Not literally, as I’ve never been there… but one day!)

Now my standards for Kung-Fu movies are actually pretty low, I think. With most movies I want a good, believable story, solid acting, and (ideally) a slightly better understanding of the human condition. With Kung-Fu movies… I just need really neat-looking butt-kicking. I don’t normally care who the main butt-kicker is… (but Jackie Chan, Jet Li or Bruce Lee are always solid options)… it just has to have lots of flips, kicks, acrobatics, and imaginative attacks/counter-attacks/counter-counter-attacks. Plot? What’s that? Who cares? I’m only here for the action. (Hmmm… that’s an odd parallel to porn, right there)

The old Bruce Lee movies didn’t have a whole lot of the super-fancy made-for-movies type of choreography… Jackie Chan and Jet Li definitely have a lot more flipping and acrobatics in their movies… but Bruce Lee had far more straightforward, high-intensity-level Smackdown being laid upon any who dare mess with him.

I think a great comparison between those 3 is in the following situation… and how their movies handled that with their particular stock characters: 1 vs. 100

If Jackie Chan were alone, facing 100 enemies at once, he panics and tries to run away and dodge in a Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplin-type comedic style. When cornered, he fights and takes out a few characters… dodges, takes out a few more… always moving, always dodging, never letting up as long as he’s being pursued. But not normally engaging more then 3 guys at any one instance. Highly entertaining with the best comedic value of the 3. Total sequence time: Probably 10 minutes.

Jet Li… facing 100 enemies at once. With Zen-like calmness he stands his ground… taking out each enemy one at a time (sometimes two or three at a time). Realizing he can’t be fazed… the majority back off, while the big bad Heavy steps forward to take him on one-on-one… who gets his ass handed to him in a more thorough manner than any of the other 99. Highly entertaining with an “Oooh… did you see that?” Factor. Total sequence time: Anywhere from 5-10 minutes.

Bruce Lee… versus 100 enemies. You know without a doubt going in, the odds are AGAINST the 100. He may be preaching Zen-like coolness… but he looks majorly pissed off. He actively walks *into* the fray… taking on 5-8 guys at any one instant, bodies dropping in his wake, ripping everyone a new bunghole in record time. Entertainment value is determined after picking your jaw up off the floor. Total sequence time: 2 minutes… tops.

While those three are most well-known… you definitely can’t discount many of the other great Martial Arts stars out there. Tony Leung, Stephen Chow, Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Michelle Yeoh (mmmm…. Michelle Yeoh. *drool*)… there’s really too many to list. All have distinctive styles and do their jobs VERY well.

You also can’t discount some of the non-martial arts action films that come out of China. If you’ve never seen John Woo’s Hard Boiled or The Killer both starring Chow-Yun Fat… then you may be confused why they call John Woo a “Master” when you see his American films. Just see the opening action sequence of Hard Boiled and you’ll have your answer. Seriously.

Now, as much as I love Asian movies and entertainment… I won’t automatically think its great if it comes from there. I have to admit, I’m not really a big fan of the Asian Horror movies I’ve seen. I really enjoyed The Ring, and after constantly hearing how “the original was better”… well, of *course* I’m going to track it down and watch it. So, I did find Ringu, and saw it. Honestly… I liked the American version better.

But I think that comes down to a cultural thing. In the Japanese original, when the Ex-Husband character comes into the story, he completely takes over the investigation… and the main female character takes a backseat. I seriously forgot she was there in some scenes. They also figure in psychic powers and telepathy into the story, so one character (usually the Ex-Husband) will simply touch another, get a psychic flash of all the convenient information they need to get to the next scene. Not only does it make the movie a half-hour shorter than the American one… it just all seems “too easy”... like the story was handed to them, and it would have happened whether they did anything or not. In the American… there’s no psychic-stuff… so all the clues and answers are found by actively investigating. No answers are handed to the characters… they have to take initiative and find them. Plus, it’s the main female (Naomi Watts) who’s doing most of the work (as well she should… because it’s her story). The Ex is useful in his own way, and he’s much less of a dick then the original guy. The scares and creep factor in both are probably about the same… but overall, I’d rather see the American one. *shrug* (Which goes AGAINST my theory of, “Always go with the original”)

So yeah… I pick and choose the stuff I like from that side of the world. But then again, who doesn’t? Hell… THEY do it themselves. But while “being Asian” isn’t a guarantee that I’ll like it… it will intrigue a small part of me enough to probably give it a chance. (At least enough to read a synopsis) And it’s led me to discover a lot of shows and movies that have made me smile for one reason or another. Isn’t that the most important thing?

And without my fascination for that side of the world… I never would have tried sushi. Which is probably my favorite part of the whole thing.

Mmmmmm... Sushi.