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Wildly Exaggerated: June 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stock Photo Nightmare

I didn't originally intend to use this blog as a clearinghouse for every dumb thing I found on the internet, but apparently I can't keep my trap shut when I see something like this:
CNN is based right here in Atlanta, of course, so I have the inside story on just exactly how this picture came about.
EDITOR: The article is about financial infidelity - how to avoid it, how to spot it, how to determine financial compatibility with your spouse...

PHOTOGRAPHER: Right, right...OK, I'm seeing one of the B-52s here

EDITOR: Not the guy?

PHOTOGRAPHER: No, not Fred Schneider. One of the girls. Probably Kate Pierson. I'll get my people on it. Anyway, she's wearing a Pepto Bismol pink light denim business suit. Then I want to get her a really stylish bag from Versace's Scrotum line and fill it to the point of overflowing with cash...

EDITOR: But how will we convey the concept of infidelity?

PHOTOGRAPHER: Simple! We'll hold the shoot in a bedroom - Mary Todd Lincoln's bedroom, if we can get it - and...hmmm...what do financial adulterers do with money? I know! She can be haphazardly shoving individual bills under the mattress! And she'll be looking nervously over her shoulder as if to say, "I hope my loving husband doesn't come in here and catch me enacting my treacherous and financially unfaithful plan of stashing cash in various places of historic significance! I'm not even wearing my wedding ring, for God's sake!"

EDITOR: Hmmm...can she also be awkwardly bending over in a way that suggests she's trying to distract her husband with her ass and/or has sprained her back?


EDITOR: Shoot it.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dear Gmail: Consider Including My Free Will

Am I the only one who is completely bowled over by the sheer stupidity of Gmail's latest non-optional "improvement"? Perhaps you've seen it yourself: the helpful little "Consider including:" line that pops up under the To line in an outgoing email, suggesting other people you might want to include on the thread. It seems to make its suggestions based on mutual friends and/or people who are commonly included in group emails.

It's been live for a few weeks now, and while I can find some grumbling about it on them internets, there isn't nearly enough. We have to rise up, people! And we have to do it NOW. Because these aren't just names listed off to the side - they are clickable links that automatically add the [theoretically] interested party to the To line. In other words, you can type something akin to this:

To: Drew
From: Me
Consider including: Bill
My hatred for Bill burns with the heat of a thousand Tabasco vats. Sometimes looking at Bill's face literally makes me want to throw up. Seriously. If I could get a voodoo doll that allowed me to stab him directly in his soul, I would. Does he think he's funny? HE IS NOT FUNNY. I can't stand him. Let's pants him.

And if your mouse should somehow happen to graze that little "Consider including: Bill" link, you will shortly find yourself making a very unconvincing pitch to Bill about how this was all a joke. Ha ha. At first, people told me I was overreacting. But last week this actually happened to me. OK, it wasn't about Bill, who isn't a real person. And obviously it wasn't nearly as vitriolic as the above, because I am an angel and would never, ever say anything remotely like that. But I *do* sometimes say things I maybe don't necessarily want certain specific other people who are mentioned by name in the body of the email to read. It's not even always something mean! I could just as easily be saying "I cry myself to sleep every night because I love Bill so much and he doesn't even know I'm alive." But you know what? I still wouldn't want Bill to read it! (SPOILER ALERT: I caught/deleted the unintended recipient before clicking "Send". NO THANKS TO GMAIL.)

I may be a bit oversensitive about this issue, owing to a problem I had 2 years ago when a text that was meant for a close girlfriend accidentally got sent to the guy who had *just* asked me out, and who was, in fact, the subject of said text. This led to the most awkward after-midnight phone call I have ever made. Have you ever had to beg someone not to read the text you just sent them? Especially when it's someone who thinks you might be flirting when in fact you are COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY DEAD SERIOUS? It isn't fun, I can tell you. I still have flashbacks to that phone call, as well as to the subsequent phone call I placed to my best friend, at which point her husband saw my number on the caller ID, picked up the phone, and said, "You're an idiot". Thinking about it, everyone I call probably should answer that way all the time. Anyway, my point is: I've had more than enough mis-sent electronic communications already, thanks. I don't need any more.

I figure the Google people are subjecting me to this for one of two reasons: 1) Gmail is trying to encourage openness and honesty in all human relationships or 2) Gmail truly believes I am SO stupid that I genuinely don't know who all needs to be included in a given email. (Yes, I just said "who all". Welcome to the South.)

If reason #1 reflects their thought process, then I guess their goal is commendable. But they should bear in mind that for every cheating spouse or mean-spirited gossip that gets outted by their little Honesty Initiative, they are probably also ruining a surprise party somewhere. Is this a price we, as a society, are willing to pay? I submit that it is not. I heart surprise parties. NOT IN MY NAME!

If reason #2 reflects their thought process, then I have a knuckle sandwich with their name on it. Ever since this started happening 2 months ago, there has not been a single instance - not one - where I finished writing an email, scrolled up to proofread/click "Send", and said, "Oh crap! You're absolutely right, Gmail! I've just written a soul-baring missive to a close personal friend, and I almost forgot to include these three randomly chosen people we went to elementary school with! Sure, little Jimmy Penderton used to eat paste, but I bet he has some valuable insights about the next step in my spiritual journey. Thank Hera you reminded me to include him!"

(I'm making my "not amused" face here.)

Look, Gmail: If I need to send an email to a dozen people, it is very easy for me to pull up my contact list and tick boxes next to all of their names. You've done a great job with that, and I appreciate it. But 99.9% of the emails I write are only intended for ONE person's eyes, and including anyone else would be a patently bad idea. How about you just assume that I have considered including literally everyone else I've ever emailed...and I've decided against it.

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Mid-Week Fun: Playing With My Food

Going through the memory card on my camera the other day, I realized I might spend too much time staring at/artfully arranging my food. Like last week, when I was sautéing onions:

Or that time in grad school, when I made the "LSD Mickey Mouse Cake" for my family's Easter party:
This took FOREVER.
Or last month, when I finished my popcorn and noticed that the unpopped kernels had brought me a special, personal message from the Universe.
Awwwwwww. Hooray for food. And also for the fact that it's humpday...

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Too Easy

This morning, I finally got the digital antenna lined up so I could watch something other than Netflix. First order of business was to check out the WPBA schedule because I'm a Masterpiece Mystery junkie and couldn't remember when it aired (I've been without TV for a loooooooong time). Imagine my surprise when I saw this:
10 points for the awesome title, but I think the concept is a little lazy. I've never met a sandwich I didn't like. Somebody at WPBA is phoning it in. 

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Sketch Challenge, Second Set: This is My Brain in a Blender.

So I'm about 2 days behind on updating you about the PsychoSketchual Challenge, and that is because I feel like my brain has been beaten with a meat tenderizer. There are a number of reasons for that - it's not entirely the fault of the Incredibly Mundane Sketch Challenge and Cry For Help, Now With Practically NO Sketches About Ordering Coffee. For one thing, I wrote a little breakup letter template for Funny not Slutty. That was super fun and I hope you'll read and enjoy it, but wasn't a sketch. And this is also one of the busiest times of the year for my day job [PUKE], which is seriously cutting into my writing time. AND I had an improv show Thursday. But enough with the jibber jabber and excuses! Current page count for this second set of sketches stands at 44. As a reminder, there are to be 60 pages, all edited to the best of my ability, by this coming Saturday.


So I'm cutting it a little closer this time around, but I'm also going about it a little differently (as part of the trial and error to establish my own optimal process), such that the first drafts aren't *quite* as rough and raw as the last set of first drafts were. Hopefully(?) this means I'll require slightly less editing time. Ta. Da.

And now for a new and almost certainly not regular feature...
John of the Week! (not like that)
You may recall that last week's John was Finnemore, who made my week by commenting on the Viagra post. This week's John is Raffa, who is one of my good friends and fellow improv actors! He didn't comment on anything, but he did specifically request that I write him a part in the Sketch Challenge. His exact words were: "If you're writing it, I want to be in it." Awwwww. And that made my week, which makes him...John of the Week! Congratulations, Raffa! Don't let it go to your head.

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Couples Game Night [is BS]

The following is an email I wrote to my Best Friend in the Whole Entire Universe the last time I had a boyfriend. Won't be making THAT mistake again anytime soon.

Um, having a boyfriend is a pain in the ass. Why didn't you remind me of that? We're going over to one of his friends' places for game night tonight! Yay!

Except that I've just heard what game we're playing. It's called Settlers of Catan. Have a quick glance over Amazon's borderline indecipherable description below:
Exploring and Developing Catan
The board consists of 19 terrain hexes surrounded by the ocean. Each type of terrain produces a different type of resource: brick, wool, ore, grain or lumber. There's also a desert hex that produces no resources. As the game progresses, players use resources to build roads along the edges of these hexes and settlements or cities on the intersections where three hexes meet. Each player begins the game with two settlements and two roads.
Each player's roll of the dice causes certain hexes to produce resources, which you collect if you have a settlement on one of them. On your turn, you'll use various combinations of the resources you've acquired to build new roads and settlements, upgrade settlements to cities, or purchase development cards. The ability to trade resources with other players adds a new level of strategy and ensures that the game includes lots of interaction between players. You can also trade without worrying about other players using an unfavorable maritime trade rate. Elements including a robber piece that lets you steal from other players and a variety of development cards add intrigue to the game.
The objective of The Settlers of Catan is to be the first one who collects 10 victory points. Each settlement is worth one victory point and each city is worth two victory points. You can also earn victory points by holding the "Longest Road" card, the "Largest Army" card, or special victory point development cards.

As of right now, my boyfriend has spent three hours playing the Xbox version, and he wants me to come over early so he can give me a one-hour tutorial before we go head-to-head with his friends. He "thinks he understands it now". THIS IS COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL.

The argument in favor of this ridiculous nonsense is that it's a "strategy game". Apparently Scrabble, Monopoly, Uno, Clue, Risk, and Chess are no longer considered to be sufficient, strategy-wise. What annoys me is that the only real strategy involved is as follows: find a game so obscure that you and your significant other are the only people on Earth who have EVER heard of it --> learn it inside and out --> invite your couple friends over --> humiliate them with your mad skillz --> pretend you legitimately won because of "strategy", rather than "because no one else could ever hope to grasp what's going on".

Which reminds me: we were wondering if you and your husband want to come over sometime to play "3,765 Alien Tribes Invade Siberia and Ancient Jerusalem PS You Lose". The rule book is 15,000 pages long and there are 35 different decks of cards, each of which has its own unique language, all of which are written using the cyrillic alphabet (but I'm sure you'll pick it up quickly). You have to roll four 12-sided dice and two 15-sided dice, then decipher the cryptic symbols on them to determine which tribe you are for every turn. And the game board is based on a birthmark I have on my left thigh. And all the currency values are expressed as hectares of martian land as valued by Donald Trump. If you get really stumped, you can phone a friend, but it won't do you any good, because my boyfriend and I are the only people in the world who have ever heard of this game. Let me know when you're free!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Also A Good Plan if You Insist on Paying $7 for Junior Mints

As I sat sipping coffee outside a movie theater last week, I saw one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever seen.

An old, half-wrecked car pulled up to the curb in front of the theater between showtimes, and a woman in a t-shirt and shorts got out.

She went directly into the theater without buying a ticket.

The car pulled away.

Two minutes later, she reemerged carrying a ginormous tub of popcorn.

The car reappeared, she got in, and they drove away.

I only wish I’d had the presence of mind to stand and applaud, because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to watch a DVD with some of that crappy low-fat air-popped fake-butter nonsense they sell at the grocery store, thinking, “This is pretty good, but it’s not as good as real popcorn.” And in all my years of half-enjoying movie night, I’ve never thought to get in my car, drive to a movie theater, buy some properly fatted-up popcorn, and bring it back home. What a disappointing failure of imagination on my part.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bad Showers/Flood Warning

Today, my friend Tom started a new occasional series called "Design Whine" on his blog. Apparently, he'll be using it to complain [even more than he already does] about poorly designed products or websites. With a name like "Design Whine", it definitely does what it says on the tin. The inaugural post was about the shower door at his CTO's house, which (SPOILER ALERT) he finds to be tremendously inconvenient. (NOTE: You probably have no knowledge of/opinions about your coworkers' showers, but Tom's one of those crazy entrepreneurial types that are always sleeping at each other's homes between marathon 100-hour coding sessions and making widgets. Or "using the list". Or whatever it is that they do. I'd better get paid for this ringing endorsement.)


Tom makes some solid points about his knob-less shower door woes. And I have some experience with infuriating bathing-related ingress/egress situations myself, though I didn't have the presence of mind to document the after-effects of their horribleness. Meet the shower in my dad's (former) flat in London:
There are 4 compelling reasons why this is the worst shower ever. I'll break it down for you:

#1: The door, or lack thereof. 
You're welcome for the helpful turquoise outlining.
The area outlined in this picture is the door. It's not the front half of the door, or one pane of the door, it is the ENTIRE door. Note how it helpfully ends about halfway across the tub. Handy! 

#2: The hinges on the door. 
For the life of me, I don't know why there are hinges on the half-door at all. You'd have to be 4 feet wide to need to open the half-door. Nonetheless, the hinges are there. Not only are they there, but they are conveniently designed such that the dripping wet door swings right out over the bath mat, tile, and toilet! Not that this would be noticeable, with so much water pooled on the floor anyway, what with half the shower being completely open and everything. Still. 

#3: The mirror.
Because what's more fun than getting to see all of your hideous imperfections displayed like you were Figure 2-A in a high school anatomy textbook while you bathe? NOTHING THAT'S WHAT! I've never seen a mirror *in* a shower before. There is a very good reason for that, let me tell you. Then again, I guess the mirror was really good if you happened to be on a diet. It's a guaranteed appetite-killer for all but the most dedicated narcissists.  

#4: The Great Wall of China Tub.
For the purposes of illustration, I'm going to use the *other* perspective here...
Listed measurements are a rough estimate
As you can see, the edge of the tub was roughly the same height as the bottom of the sink basin. I think we can all agree that that is unnecessarily high, especially given the fact that the base of the tub (not pictured) is only one or two inches higher than the bathroom floor. All this is bad enough, but when you factor in the huge puddle of water that forms at that end of the room (since there's basically no door), the whole experience of exiting the shower becomes a topsy turvy Slip 'n Slide from hell.

In conclusion, Tom, I sympathize with your horrific "trapped in the shower" ordeal, and I hope you get it resolved soon. And though this is a contest no one would want to win, I'm pretty sure I just did. In the immortal words of Teen Witch's Polly, Top That. (Look how funky I am!)

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Don't Panic!

I've recently learned that in 2012, Comet Elenin will reverse polarity on Earth and also cause some earthquakes. Or was it a giant tidal wave? The details were a little fuzzy, so I googled it. Of the results, I figured a site called Above Top Secret sounded the most promising. Unfortunately, it didn’t load properly. Fortunately, it had the most amazingly customized 404 error page I have ever seen:
C'mon, that's fantastic. It's worth looking at the whole site too, because...well, you're not going to get better entertainment than that. Not for free, anyway.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sometimes Pizza is the Better Choice

More often than not, I leave work on Improv Practice Day (more commonly known as “Wednesday”) and find myself faced with the daunting combination of nothing edible in my home and two measly hours before I have to leave for the theatre. Preferring to focus on the positive, I see this as “a perfect excuse to eat fast food for dinner” instead of “a sad commentary on a grown woman who can’t take care of herself properly”. But when it happened last week, I didn’t feel inclined to have pizza or Taco Hell or a mostly-cheese “vegetarian” sandwich. Instead, I had a brilliant idea. BRILLIANT, I tell you: frozen yogurt! It’s cheap, it’s low-fat but high-calcium, and apparently it contains “live and active cultures”, which are on the list of Trendy Things We’re All Supposed to Consume in Huge Quantities. So I stopped at Yogli Mogli (which, in case you were wondering, is exactly like Yoforia, Slimberry, Pinkberry, Menchie’s, Swirll, Cow Licks, Cloud 9, Yorika, Yogurtland, and The Yogurt Tap) (except Cloud 9 also has cupcakes), and as I drove home with the increasingly less-frozen yogurt in my cupholder, I thought, “I bet I could come up with at least…

10 Excellent Reasons Why I’m Never Allowed to Have Frozen Yogurt for Pre-Improv Practice Dinner Ever Again

1. No good comes of putting 7-year olds in charge. The 7-year old me, who makes most of my decisions, COULD NOT imagine a better dinner than this! But when you walk into a place called “Yogli Mogli” as an adult in business attire, you become acutely aware of just how not 7 you are. The only way you’re getting away with it is if you brought a 7-year old with you. And I’m pretty sure the daycare place doesn’t loan them out.

2. That 20 minute drive never takes 20 minutes. Sometimes I can get home from work in 20 minutes, but never on days when I need to. I should’ve known that putting anything frozen in the car would up the commute to at least 45 minutes. Lesson learned.

3. Panic attacks. 7-year old me may not care about the car upholstery, but 32-year old me cares very deeply about the car upholstery, so I spent most of the drive home glancing anxiously at the cupholder, waiting for it to spew forth melted yogurt at every stop, start, or turn. Of which there were plenty. I don’t need that kind of stress in my life.

4. It’s so, so sad. Sure, they have non-fat fruit-based options and sorbets and fresh fruit toppings, but I’m not in the target market for that. Chocolate yogurt + candy + more candy + hot fudge sauce = what I had. That is not dinner. It sounded like a good idea at first, but once you’re in line between two 12-year olds, spooning M&Ms onto your “dinner” in your work clothes, the word “sad” begins to suggest itself.

5. The Inevitable Sugar Crash. When you eat candy for dinner, you’re about 2 hours away from a nap. And if that’s right around the time you’re supposed to be rushing a stage every 5 minutes to vie for a spot in a scene…it doesn’t work.

6. The Internal Mom Voice. To whatever extent this could ever have been a fun experience, it was ruined by the responsible voice in my head that sounds suspiciously like my mother. An endless loop of “Young lady, you know very well that you are not allowed to have frozen yogurt for dinner!” will buzzkill the whole thing. Even 7-year old me was starting to feel guilty about it towards the end.

…but I was wrong; I could only come up with 6.  

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

If Anybody Ax You Who I Am...

Today marks the first deadline in "Kimberly Welsh's Beyond Redonkulous Sketch Challenge That Only A Complete Nutjob Would Attempt, Now With a Slight Reduction in the Number of Sketches About Ordering Coffee". If you're new to the group, background on this can be found here. As you may recall, I managed to write the requisite first 60 pages with a full week to spare, which I used for tweaking/editing/rewriting. In theory, I needed to end today with 60 pages of sketch material, edited and organized such that I would be perfectly happy to hand it to a bunch of my actor friends and say "GO!"

I am 20% "pleased" and 80% "in total disbelief" to tell you that I HAVE ACHIEVED THIS. There were definitely times when I felt like I was being put through a wringer, and I've noticed that I've taken to saying "Wow. I look really tired." out loud every night after I take my makeup off, but I DID IT. I'm not saying it's all comedy gold, but then again the thing I'm most hoping for (and most excited about) is that I just might be able to see discernible improvement from Part 1 to Part 5.

Now, before you look at the title of this post and recognize it as a line from the R. Kelly song (brilliantly covered by Bonnie "Prince" Billy) entitled "World's Greatest", I must remind you that this is only the beginning. John Finnemore's Sketch Night plays on 5 dates, which means that in order to complete the Challenge, I have to do this 5 times. This is just #1. So we aren't at the "Hey I made it / I'm the world's greatest" part of the song yet. Far from it. We're more at the "I'm that little piece of hope / With my back against the ropes" part right now. The good news is that I stockpiled some more ideas during editing week, so hopefully I'll have something strong to work with when the clock starts on part 2. Which will be bright and early tomorrow morning!

PS - I'm trying to seem all cool and chilled out about it, but I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the fact that John Finnemore himself commented on one of my blog posts yesterday, and he said it made him laugh. If you'd like to know how I feel about that, ask literally anyone who spoke to me for any reason at any point since it happened, including the tollbooth attendant on Georgia 400. It *might* have made my week ;)

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spontaneous Poem for Today

I called to check with Caring Bank
They say I'm overdrawn
I tried to work with Interest Loans
But all they did was yawn
When calling in to Concern Inc
Was endlessly on hold
And all the "How to Help" workshops were full
(or so I'm told)
So if anybody thinks I seem disinterested, know this:
I tried today - I REALLY tried -
But couldn't give a shit.

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Viagra Ads Go Straight Over My Head

On a news website today, I was intrigued by the first frame of a Viagra ad:
I stared at it for a while, completely baffled as to what this had to do with Viagra. As a person who spent the first part of my adult life buried deep in academia, I can't turn down a good quiz, and this whole thing felt like a puzzle. How the hell is this related to ED? "You've installed windows before" = "You've gotten an erection before"; "But never on the roof" = "But now you can't anymore"? I didn't see the connection. At all. I reasoned that if indeed there was any metaphor to be found, it would surely be meant to convey that this is a problem the man cannot solve alone, and he should turn to his doctor. So the correct answer is obviously "call a professional"...
I was wrong. The Viagra people did NOT want these men calling professionals to solve their problems! They want these men to clamor onto the metaphorical rainy roof of their sexual dysfunction and confront it on their own! Sure, they might fall to their deaths trying to install the skylight of their virility, but by God they should climb the ladder of stoic self-sufficiency to the non-apex of their genitals and get to work! I clicked "install the skylight"...
YEAH! Why start now? You have a medical condition that could indicate anything from depression to dangerously clogged arteries, and it's nobody's damn business but your own! So fix it yourself! Get up there and, um, install that metaphorical skylight in your junk! Or something! Maybe get some sort of pump? Though I don't see how that helps the Viagra people. Is it me or is this metaphor just not working AT ALL?
...wait, so now the message is "Fix it yourself! Call your doctor!"? The "call a professional" option was right all along? Help me out here, people. This makes no sense.

I guess this is one of those cases where no one in the marketing department is bothering anymore. It's not like there's anyone in the Western world who doesn't already know what Viagra is for, and the market for it certainly isn't going anywhere. The head of the advertising department came into the meeting and said, "OK, so we'll open with an image of a roof and some text that says 'You've installed windows before. But never on the roof'..." And then the CEO said, "Whatever, Bob, sounds great. Just make sure it says VIAGRA all over the internet. I don't really care how you do it."

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Asinine is the New Ridiculous

I spent Sunday morning writing in a coffee shop, as I always do, but this weekend I ventured farther afield than usual in an effort to jolt my brain into bucking its ideas up. I hadn't considered the fact that this would also put me in very different neighborhood. With a very different population. With very different ideas. Like those expressed on the bumper sticker I saw in the parking lot:
Image belongs to the cafepress page where you can buy this design! Presumably so you can use it as kindling to build a fire with which you can personally melt a glacier out from under one of those "smug-ass polar bears".
Though I'll try (OH MY GOD I AM TRYING SO HARD) not to get too political, there is something very simple that needs to be understood here: the "green" movement is not an inherently un-American philosophy, as this bumper sticker would have you believe. I know a lot of people in this country don't especially like "liberals" or "eco-terrorists*" and fear that their almighty civil liberties will be tread upon by a bunch of dirty hippies who want to power everything with poop. I know there are questions and concerns about all the various ideas being floated as to how we can be better stewards of the planet, but surely we can agree that being "anti-environment" is just plain dumb. We NEED the environment. Because "environment" is just another word for "the one and only planet we've ever found that can support us". America is great and all, but it is also located on planet Earth. If planet Earth becomes uninhabitable, America will likewise be uninhabitable. Seriously. You can look it up.

So get that preposterous bumper sticker off your damn car. Or better yet, trade the whole thing in for a Prius, comrade.

*I'm not saying "eco-terrorists" don't exist, but come on. They account for *maybe* 0.05% of the pro-environment movement. Not everyone who recycles their beer cans and/or eats tofu is an eco-terrorist. Calm down.


Monday, June 13, 2011

The High Price of Success

As of last night, I have completed the first 60 pages of rough drafts for my Incredibly Mundane Sketchstravaganza Challenge Mostly About Ordering Coffee! It was not easy and a lot of the time it wasn't even all that fun. But it's done now! And I have a few days to edit and improve it before it's time to do the next set. Phew!

I was so happy about it that I went and ordered $70 in nail polish. That wasn't exactly part of my master plan - I think I was just so delirious that I wasn't fully in control of my faculties. Or my credit card. At these prices, who can afford to complete the Beyond Redonkulous Incredibly Mundane Sketchstravaganza? Not me. I might have to hide my credit card from myself when I hit the 40-page mark next time...

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

But Will They Water the Plants?

I spotted this on my way to work earlier this week:
Fuzzy picture courtesy of photography-while-driving
I appreciate the direct, no-nonsense approach. I also enjoy the way the slogan looks like something they got tired of saying over the phone, so they plastered it on the van and hoped people would stop asking dumb questions. It's not "YES! We can monitor your alarm!" It's "Yes, we can monitor your alarm." Never before has a full stop carried with it so much apathy and world-weariness. "Yes, we can monitor your alarm. No, we can't let your dog out to widdle. LOOK DO YOU WANT YOUR ALARM MONITORED OR NOT?"

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

How I'll Spend My Summer Vacation

Just as an FYI, I’ve decided that the “trying really hard to be funny” thing, while entertaining (for me), is not a sufficient raison d’être for a whole entire blog. I will still be doing that going forward, but today’s post is the first in an occasional series of exciting glimpses inside my actual head! At long last! PROOF that something is happening in there!

As some of you may know, I’m on The Twitters (@kwerky_girl - follow at will!). I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much useful information comes through that timeline, and one of the more wonderful items in the past few weeks was the announcement of fortnightly sketch shows penned and performed by one of my most revered writing role models, John Finnemore! They’re taking place in London, which might be a problem for some Atlantans, but not me! My first thought was: “HELL YEAH I will be dumping my savings account into a duffel bag, carrying it to the nearest Delta agent, and yelling ‘LONDON PLEASE’ at the top of my lungs.” But then I remembered that before I can do that, I have to dump $200 of my savings account into a much smaller bag along with a picture of myself to be delivered to the US State Department, then wait 4-6 weeks for them to get out their damn glue stick and slap the picture on a new passport, because the Delta agent will almost certainly notice that my current one expired earlier this year. There’s no way I can make it. [insert heartbreak here] I mean, they do can do a 24-48 hour renewal in extreme/emergency situations, but I bet they have a loophole that excludes “I will kill myself if you don’t give me a passport” from that. Otherwise everybody’d be doing it.

So I was despondent for a while there. I pulled the website up and just to see how nauseatingly affordable the tickets would be if I could just get there (answer: £6. ARGH!). Then I saw the text on the ticket-purchasing site, which reads as follows:
The triumphant return of the least imaginatively named show since 'Cats': John Finnemore, writer and star of Radio 4's Cabin Pressure; regular guest on The Now Show; and popper-up on things like Miranda and That Mitchell and Webb Look, presents an hour of brand new sketches every fortnight over the summer. Completely different material every show. Bloody hell. Now I see it written down, that's a lot of sketches. I should probably get on with them.

And as I read those last few sentences, I thought, “Christ! That really is a lot of sketches. Assuming one page=one minute, that’s 60 pages of original sketch material every two weeks. Jesus. Someone send that man a metric ton of coffee.” And then I thought, “Wow. That would be a really incredible challenge. Especially for someone who, say, needed to dust the cobwebs off her brain and get back in the habit of writing sketches regularly.

Like she used to.


60 pages every two weeks.

Quite a challenge.”

And then a [really stupid] part of my brain said, “I ACCEPT!” And thus was born Kimberly Welsh’s Sketch Night. That happened a week ago today, and so far I have 15 pages. And based on their content, I had to modify the name to Kimberly Welsh’s Incredibly Mundane Sketch Night (Mostly About Ordering Coffee). Then I realized that there won’t be any public performances, so the “Night” part doesn’t really fit. So: Kimberly Welsh’s Incredibly Mundane Sketch Challenge (Mostly About Ordering Coffee). I’ve spent more time rewriting the name than finishing sketches. Not exactly epic progress, but give me a break! I had to work 40 hours and spend 2 evenings at the theatre. I have most of my weekend free, so hopefully I’ll be able to get on track now. Wait - not “hopefully”; DEFINITELY. And while I’m not going to get all obsessively serious about it, I will keep you posted. Why? Because you care.

The good news for everyone is that this will keep me off the streets this summer. And it has taught me a valuable lesson about why it’s important to keep your passport up-to-date at all times: Because you never know when John Finnemore will start a run of sketch shows. Apparently. 

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

The REAL Zombie Virus

I don't get the fascination with zombies. I just don't. I don't necessarily have anything against zombies; I just don't think they're the greatest thing in the world and there is nothing cooler and there should be zombies in everything and I'm gonna be a zombie for Halloween and I love zombies because OMG ZOMBIES!!!!!

Once upon a time (2006ish), zombies had a certain counter-culture cool to them - the market wasn't oversaturated with zombie movies, being a zombie enthusiast was unique, and zombies were just about the ONLY product of popular imagination that didn't feature in a Harry Potter plot (unless you count Voldemort as a zombie, and who would do that?). But now zombies are EVERYWHERE! There's a new big-budget movie or TV show about zombies every freaking week! Everyone from Wil Wheaton to Charlie Brooker has churned out a zombie-related story, often with the zeal of someone who genuinely loves his subject matter (rather than that of a hanger-on capitalizing on the zeitgeist). The CDC even managed to get its blog to go viral (no pun intended) by disguising a basic list of emergency kit necessities as a "Zombie Preparedness Guide". Be honest: did you know the CDC even had a blog before you heard about that? Of course you didn't. But they were banking on the #1 rule of publicity that I just made up: use the word "zombie" often enough, and you WILL find an audience. That's certainly the theory behind this blog post, anyway.

I have a lot of dear friends who adore the whole zombie culture and genuinely think anything involving zombies is fantastic. I naturally assumed it was because they were single people in their early 30s, and most of us have had days so dark that having their brain eaten right out of their heads sounded downright appealing. But then I discovered that these people don't actually want to be attacked by zombies - they just like the idea.

So I'm lost.

In the end, I figured I didn't need to understand. The zombie takeover of pop culture had no adverse effect on me...until now. You see, in the past week, I've found various so-called "news sites" smattered with headlines like:
"Zombies Headed from North Henry County to Cobb" (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
"Zombies Take Over Henry County Highway" (also AJC)
"Cobb Co. Authorities Warn of Zombie Mayhem" (*

Here's the deal: the TV series "Walking Dead" is filming in and around Atlanta. In a hugely original twist, they apparently feature images of highways strewn with cars crashed by zombies or abandoned by survivors. In order to get these shots, they've had to close stretches of highways in the Atlanta suburbs. So really, this is a traffic story about how you have to take alternate routes around certain areas for a day or two. And in a city with a GINORMOUS traffic problem, that has probably been a serious concern for a lot of people, who could use some information on how best to navigate their daily commute in spite of the closures. Instead, they've been treated to a bunch of news editors/headline writers who are over the moon at the idea that they get to write pretend-zombie-apocalypse headlines. The implied dialogue goes something like this:
PUBLIC: I have 45 minutes to get to work and a major highway on my commute is closed. I know! I'll check the local news for information and advice!
NEWS SOURCE: Zombies! *laugh* HA HA! There are ZOMBIES on the road! Oh nooooo! *snort*
PUBLIC: Well, that headline is ridiculous, but maybe there will be some relevant information in the story...
NEWS SOURCE: A zombie alert - that's right: a ZOMBIE alert! *snort* *giggle* - has been issued for...
PUBLIC: Oh for the love of...

Not that I'm surprised; local newsmedia has always had a knack for ruining everything. But now we've reached a point where the local public is so desensitized that we don't even notice the word "zombie" in the headline anymore. We see "Zombie Apocalypse" and think it's either a traffic closure or a publicity stunt by a government agency. So now, when the REAL zombie apocalypse comes, this will happen:
PUBLIC: Yeah yeah, zombies blah blah blah. Why do they hire 12-year old boys to write their headlines? Oh well, I guess I'll click through to see which restaurants had their flat screens stolen last night. I don't want to show up at Taco Mac and find I can't watch the game!

And then we all die. Thanks a lot, local news. Thanks. A. Lot.

*NOTE: I'd like to compliment 11Alive on not only not having a zombie-related headline, but also on featuring the headline "Athens Woman Admits to Sexting With Weiner". It almost makes up for the Wizometer.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I'm Just Not That Into You

You know what really honks me off? When guys try to give me unsolicited relationship advice. I'm sure it sounds like a very unlikely problem to have, but that just proves you know nothing about my life. Because I get a lot of unsolicited relationship advice from guys. A lot.

I first noticed the problem a few months ago, while talking to a guy I had known for roughly 10 minutes. We were going to be working together, so we were chatting and trying to establish a rapport. And then this happened...

ME: It's hard to meet people, though. There aren't that many good guys out there!
HIM: Yes there are! You're just too picky, that's your problem. You have guys falling all over themselves trying to get with you, and you reject them because they're too this or too that. All your dating problems would be solved if you'd just give them a chance!
ME: (stunned silence)

I'd like to stress that I'd known this guy for 10 minutes. Literally. And in that 600 fleeting seconds, not one guy had interrupted us to throw himself at my feet, nor had there been a single instance of me waving my hand dismissively at a perfectly good prospect while yelling "BLECH! Get him out of my sight!" So I will be forever baffled by this perfect stranger's ability to get to the root of a years-old problem in a matter of seconds and with no evidence to support his position whatsoever.

Except of course that I'm not baffled at all. Because he was doing what all guys seem to be doing: projecting their relationship issues and every rejection they've ever suffered onto me. There are women all over the world walking around without a care in the world while I listen to the charges against them being read over and over. It's the same reason I've been told I should give fat guys, old guys, smokers, convicted felons, frat boys, guys 10 years my junior, divorcés, and Republicans a chance: because invariably, the guy doling out these pearls of wisdom is (or perceives himself to be): fat, old, a smoker, a convicted felon, a frat guy, 10 years younger than me, divorced, or a Republican. And that's fine. But he has to understand that him thinking he knows why I'm not interested is not the same as him knowing why I'm not interested. For example:

Let's say there's a guy who's overweight, watches Jersey Shore, collects football jerseys, and listens to Jason Mraz. And he says I should "give fat guys a chance". Fine, maybe I should. For all he knows, maybe I do. But I can think of three other Very Good Reasons not to date this particular guy, and his extemporaneous persuasive speech on Why I Should Sleep With Him has failed to address any of them. Naturally, he will walk away thinking I am biased against overweight people. And if that helps him cope with the rejection, that's fair enough. But I'll tell you this much: excess weight can be lost. Jersey Shore is forever.

Why is it not OK that I'm just not interested? I've certainly had my share of rejections, and 100% of them have been related, on some level, to the guy simply not being interested. That's not fun or pleasant, and sure it hurts, but it's a sufficient excuse. I don't have to make it into a deep psychological issue on his end. And I certainly don't go up to every subsequent guy that turns my head saying, "You know what your problem is? You reject a girl even if she's only been charged with prostitution once, and even if the charges were dropped on the grounds of entrapment!"

The thing is, attraction is a very inexact science. In my case, I find that if I look at a guy and say, "Wow. That is a WEIRD-looking dude," I can safely estimate that I'll have a crush on him within a week. I don't know why. And yes, "nice guys" of the world, it is entirely true that just being a nice guy is not enough to get you a date. But as a public service, I'll also let you in on a little secret: the more you use the phrase "nice guy" to describe yourself, the more suspicious women become that you are in fact NOT a nice guy at all, but rather a very very bitter guy who feels that you are entitled to the undying love of a supermodel on the grounds of your "nice"-ness. It has not escaped my notice that most guys who list themselves as such on dating sites also have the same ridiculous list of "What I'm Looking For" requirements as their presumably less-nice counterparts: Slender, at least 8 years younger than they are, never married, no kids, preferably blonde, etc. Call me crazy, but I'd bet that he just eliminated an awful lot of "nice girls" in one fell swoop.

And that's the thing, guys-who-want-to-give-me-unnecessarily-aggressive-dating-advice: you've probably been guilty of passing over someone for a superficial reason at some point. We've all done it, we've all been the victim of it, and we've all continued to do it anyway. It's not you, it's me. No wait - it's not me, it's you. No wait, it's not you or me; it's just that I don't like you like that. Move on. 

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Ode to the Pool Guy

I hate to brag, but the fact of the matter is: I live in a way cooler place than you. Like, way WAY cooler. It looks like an Italian villa on the outside, it’s got pretty landscaping…it’s pretty much the best place ever. When I first stepped into the unit I ultimately ended up buying, it was love at first sight. So much natural light! Such lovely dark hardwood floors! Such a pretty view to the pool!

Ah yes. The pool. When I stood in that living room, in February of 2007, I was looking out onto a quiet, pristine, landscaped area with a huge, clean pool in the middle of it. Ahhhh. It was like an oasis. 3 months later, when it was too late to change my mind, the weather got warm and I discovered what the pool really was at various times of the day:

7-8AM: Lap pool for fitness buffs. No real problem there. They’re pretty quiet.

8-10AM: Mommy and me time! Lazy women bring their angry children to scream and yell and splash while they talk on their cell phones. Charming.

10AM-5:30PM: Frat party! No fewer than 3 boomboxes compete to see what’s louder: rap, 80s music, or death metal. (Death metal wins.) Meanwhile drunk guys yell “DUDE!” a lot, and women who can barely manage to stay in their miniscule bikinis prance around and pretend they have any reason to be there other than trying to get laid and land a husband. It’s like watching a National Lampoon movie.

5:30-8PM: Couples swim. Most everyone else has left the pool area to go get some dinner, so whichever couple gets there first ends up having the pool to themselves. Sometimes it’s an older couple, sometimes it’s teenagers, but regardless of their ages, they all do the same thing: make out in the pool for an hour or more. Gross. I HAVE WINDOWS AND I CAN SEE YOU, PEOPLE.

2AM: Drunk assholes wander into the pool area from a party somewhere on the property and proceed to throw each other in, make out, fight, and scream in the sound-amplifying courtyard until…

3AM: Someone calls the cops

So yeah. Living by the pool has not been quite so idyllic as I first imagined.

Until now.

A new guy has moved in. I don’t know who he is, and I doubt I’d recognize him if I saw him dry/wearing a shirt. I call him Pool Guy, and that’s all he ever needs to be. He’s the Grand Master of Ceremonies for the pool, and he. Is. Awesome. Every afternoon at 5, I hear his cannonball break the silence, at which point I go to the window and watch him climb out of the pool, go to his cooler, get a cold Bud Light, and start walking the concrete, whipping his wet hair from his face, swigging from the can, and scanning for new arrivals. Whenever someone enters the courtyard, he makes a beeline for them, shakes their hand, and strikes up a lengthy conversation with them. Sometimes he even offers them a beer. After an hour of this, he has completely dried off and finished his beer, so he runs for the pool, does another cannonball, and thus begins another hour of drinking, hand-shaking and chit-chatting.
It may be the most charming thing I’ve ever seen. He’s the Host of the Pool! Anyone who randomly shows up is automatically an invitee to his Pool Party, and it is amazing! There’s beer! There are regularly scheduled cannonballs! There are no boomboxes (because how would you manage to talk?), and no one gets into a fight. When the Pool Host is on duty, it’s pleasant to be at the pool, or even just to live near it.

I may never know why he does what he does - I actually think I prefer it that way - but regardless of his motivation, he is my hero. The world would be a better place if it had more Pool Guys in it, proffering beer and spreading cannonball-splashes of joy everywhere they went. Thank you, Pool Guy, for making the pool awesome again.


Friday, June 3, 2011

The Deadhead Imagery Makes So Much More Sense Now

Let me tell you something I know: if you have to google "How to be more imaginative", you've already failed.

I know this because I got bored and googled that very thing yesterday. Thankfully, there is a wikihow page out there for all of us unimaginative people, and is glorious. Whoever wrote it spent a great deal of time and effort on it, and hell, I googled for it, so it certainly isn't useless/pointless information. And I guess it was pretty effective, because it got me thinking...

In section #7, for example, we find these two sentences:
Do you have a friend who speaks random, ridiculous phrases that seem to defy logic and rational thought? Your friend may be more imaginative than you. 

As it happens, ALL of my friends speak in random, ridiculous, logic-defying phrases like "you can't eat JUST raw cookie dough for three weeks" and "I'm not going to loan you any more money" and "don't give up bathing for Lent". So they are probably pretty imaginative! Then again, by this logic, there is a guy living on 14th Street who ought to be doing creativity seminars. It's a fine line, is what I'm saying.

Later in the same paragraph, the author suggests we "try to solve a problem using only penguins and mason jars". Ha! Here's a real challenge: try to think of a problem I HAVEN'T solved with penguins and mason jars! Exactly.

Moving on to section #8, we discover the most disturbing picture I've ever seen, which frankly drives home my point about crazy people:
Nightmare-inducing photo courtesy of above-referenced wikihow page
Based on its context in this article, we can assume this is a picture of a person who hit some kind of creative block and said to himself, "I know! I'll rip the head off an animal or likeness thereof and wear it over my own skull! Of course!" ...and that's how they found him. Asphyxiated in a teddy bear head. Because that's what happens to imaginative people. Lesson learned.

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Sort of a Meta-Post Thing

That last post is, like, the 3rd time I've attempted to ask the internet why people in cars honk at people walking on sidewalks. The internet STILL won't answer me. Fine. I get it: people who honk at walkers are not internet-savvy. I suspected as much. At least now I know I can call them "rude fucking morons" with impunity, since they can't read.

Today is June 3rd. Not January 6, 2010. I don't know why the blog says every post was added January 6, 2010. It wasn't, and it bothers me that it says that, but I'm WAY too lazy to learn how to fix it. So now you know.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Don't Scream at Every Car That Passes Me

I hate exercise. The one and only form of exercise I can stand is walking. I can walk for hours, usually because I got caught up thinking about something and subsequently got lost. And over my many many years of recreational walking on the roads and sidewalks of the Southeast, I've come across a phenomenon I cannot begin to understand. I'm hoping someone out there can help me out:

Why do some drivers honk when they pass someone walking on the sidewalk? WHY?

This has happened to me about a billion times (see green blog title at top of page), and the only message I've gleaned from it is: "I AM DRIVING AND YOU ARE WALKING ON THE SIDEWALK SO I THOUGHT I'D HONK!" I've thought about this off and on for years (literally), and I've tried to imagine what these people are trying to communicate. Here are the ideas I've had so far, as well as my arguments as to why they weren't worth saying (or rather, honking):

- "Hello!" To the driver, this is perhaps the equivalent of the friendly nod and smile they would've given me had we crossed paths while both walking on the sidewalk. Except of course that car horns are designed to express either warning or anger, therefore draining a "greeting" attempt of any warmth or friendliness and imbuing it instead with the abject terror of a completely unexpected/unnecessary car horn SCREAMING at me. As an added bonus, it interrupts any useful thought process in which I might've been engaged, and leaves me trying to walk off the shakes of an adrenaline rush for the next 20 minutes.

- "Hey baby, you're hot!" Well, no. No I'm not. And even if the driver had the strangest taste on Earth and did find me hot, this still wouldn't be a viable message, as I've found that the driver is never - EVER - looking at me, much less making eye contact. Their eyes are always fixed on the road and their faces expressionless. So that option's out. Dammit.

- "You have toilet paper on your shoe/your underwear is showing/there's a dead bird on your back/etc." I always check right after the incident, and have yet to discover any embarrassing aspect of my appearance that might have prompted a honk. And even if I had, this would be the equivalent of making a jumbotron announcement when a whisper would've been more appropriate. So the driver would still be a jerk.

- "My horn works!" My family moved to the icy, lifeless tundra of Illinois for a year when I was 12. On the first day of school, my mother's car horn went off and wouldn't stop. The cold had affected the fuse somehow, and nothing would shut it up. Exasperated, and with 2 anxious, freezing kids in the car, my mom cut the wires to the horn (a feat that impresses me to this day, as I would have NO CLUE where to find said wires in any car, ever). Just as she got in to drive away, our helpful neighbor the state trooper came out and informed her that it's illegal to drive with a non-functional horn. I like to imagine that these drivers have picked up on my natural aura of authority and mystery, determined that I might be an undercover agent verifying that people's horns work, and therefore honk whenever they see me. It's their misfortune that I'm not an undercover agent of any kind, and my response to "My horn works!" is simply "So does this rock! And my finger!"

- "WARNING: THERE IS A CAR NEARBY" Honestly, this seems like the most useful thing the driver in question could mean (and that's still not saying much). For one thing, it puts the horn to its intended use as a warning. And the matter-of-fact-ness of the message would explain the expressionless, focused faces of the drivers in question. BUT! It's also kind of an incredibly stupid thing to do. Like I didn't hear the engine? (It's never an electric car, so shut up about that.) I didn't see the shadow, feel the rumble in the ground, hear the blaring radio? And even if I were that oblivious, as long as they intend to stay on the road, and I intend to stay on the sidewalk, we weren't really in any danger, now were we? Maybe there's something about my stride that makes me seem always on the point of dashing out into the street for no reason, arms akimbo, just looking for a car to kill me. Maybe what they mean is more like "SWEET JESUS WOMAN, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?! STAY ON THE SIDEWALK." But really? I don't think so.

- "JUMP!" I generally assume this is what the d-bag in question means to say. "You seem to be having a nice relaxing walk on a sunny day, engrossed in your thoughts and enjoying some peace and quiet. HEY! I bet if I sounded my horn really loudly and abruptly as I came up behind you, you'd jump three feet in the air! AWESOME! [HOOOOOONK!!!!]" Assholes.

Like I said: I don't get it. And I know I don't have many readers, but if you've happened upon this post and you know why people honk - or if you yourself are a walker-honker - PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD leave a comment and tell me why. And also make a note that however well-intentioned the honking may be, it is not appreciated. So STOP. NOW.

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