Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Don't Go Brakin' My Heart (or Kneecaps)

So, the other day, Queen Dweeb is cruising home from work, down Swinks Mill Road, which is windy, and rather steep, when over the cheerful tones of "Tainted Love" (yes, braking in time to the beat, don't you do that? you KNOW you do, just a little). Puzzled. Queen Dweeb opts to turn down the tunage, and tenatively applies pressure to the brakes.

Well, that can't be good.

Thoughtfully pondering the last time she put brakes in her trusty Aztek. Why, that would be NEVER. Not in SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND MILES. Say, that REALLY can't be good. Pulling up to 495, Queen Dweeb decides discretion is the better part of valor, and head back towards her dealership, into traffic.

Arriving at the Pontiac dealership , she informs them that it appears that her rotors might be a bit on the worn side, and perhaps MAH BRAKES. THEY NEEDS SOME HELPS NOW.

Leaving the big orange beast behind, the real fun begins over at Enterprise. A rental vehicle to get me to and fro, you see. And lo, they are short on cars, and Queen Dweeb is long of leg, and short of torso, which makes picking a car a wee bit challenging. So, armed with this knowledge, the order is given to the trusty squires of the short term motorcar: "HELLO. MAH CAR IS IN TEH SHOP WITH TEH ROTORS OF DOOM. I NEED A MOTORCAR STAT. AND PLEASE MAKE IT CHEAP!"

Yes, that's right. The only directive given: CHEAP. Queen Dweeb would be rockin' the Sub Compact.

The trusty squires ushered Queen Dweeb to her new chariot for the next 24 hours. A fabulous, albeit slightly fragrant Chevy Cobalt. Promptly christened "Li'l Junky" for its lack of the only feature Queen Dweeb requires in a car: power seats. You see, Queen Dweeb, being long of leg, and short of torso, cannot see over the steering wheel of most vehicles unless the seat is jacked up to nosebleed height. Sadly, Li'l Junky did not share Queen Dweeb's vision (you know, the one of being able to SEE THE ACTUAL ROAD), and had one option, which was to pull the seat forward. Which meant driving with the right knee literally jammed into the steering wheel. Awesome. Oh, and let's not forget the headrest. For some reason, Li'l Junky's headrest had an odd bulge that protruded at just the right height against the back of Queen Dweeb's head, forcing it ever so slightly forward, eliminating what minimal ability she had left to see over the steering wheel.

So picture this: Queen Dweeb basically looked like a 10 year old kid crossed with a 90 year old lady trying to drive a car, but with her knees jammed up against the wheel for apparently she is a daddy long legs trapped in the body of a 30 year old woman. Now with extra bruising on the kneecaps for your viewing pleasure! Fabulous.

And all this can be yours for the low price of just $36 a day!

And MAH BRAKES? Yes, it was the rotors. Nothing like a surprise $386 bill to make your month, no?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Manila Files, Episode 3: A Primer on the Phlippines

After my last post about the lack of Asian-ness in my little corner of Asia, a comment suggested to me that we know very little about this place. So I thought I'd post a little bit about the country, and what I know of it. Which, notably, isn't much. This won't be as funny as the discussion of the particular metallic makeup of Queen Dweeb's balls, but I seem to have no other outlet for my ruminations right now. I'll try to throw in some amusing things along the way so as not to bore everyone.

Before I knew anything about the Philippines, I guess I had the impression that it was a provincial little country with a bunch of islands, where people played mah jhong and didn't have refridgerators. Granted, this impression came from my father, who spent a semester here when he was in high school, 40-some years ago. Apparently my rather poor grandparents couldn't believe that the peopel he was living with didn't have one, so they shipped them a refridgerator. Good ol' Grammy May was outdoing herself even then. Anyway, so my knowledge of the place needed a bit of updating. There are apparently over 7,000 islands that constitute the country, with over 100 indigenous groups speaking (I believe) 33 languages. Most people think the country is Catholic, and part of it is. But the southern islands are very heavily Muslim. This dichotomy explains why my white ass is here- the Muslim population would like to have its own state, and has resorted to insurgency to achieve it (hmm, sounding like Latin America again).

Multiple Muslim separatist groups are fighting the government. However, as Philippine cuisine is a conglomeration of foods from nearby countries, apparently Philippine Islam is a little bit of a mishmash as well. It is not "fundamentalist", simply separatist, and there are many flavors of that, as well. The funny thing is, there is already a section of the south that is governed by Muslims, called the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. These people are pretty happy with the way things are. The primary separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (I'll let you all figure out that acronym), are not. So here, even the separatists are fighting their own people.

Like most developing countries, there is a great disparity between rich and poor, even in the northern, more "developed" region. This of course leads to corrupt government officials, military, police, and pretty much everyone who feels that they are sacrificing for their country and receiving a poor salary. An excellent example of this is my father's old buddy from his time here. My dad suggested I get in touch with him, because he was fated to be a high-ranking military member, and would certainly love to see me. Oh, high ranking he was, until the Brigadier General was court-martialed for pocketing some development funds. Yikes.

As I mentioned, the Philippine food is really a conglomeration of foods from other cultures. One of the main dishes I see advertised is called "pancit canton." Pancit means noodles; canton means cantonese. Another food I see is lumpia- vegetables wrapped in a rice-paper roll. Sound familiar? It goes on like this. Up to and including the aforementioned Kenny Rogers' Roasters. I really haven't found many places serving this "Philippine" food. I'm a little afraid to just randomly stop into a restaurant, as some of the food quality has already set my stomach aflutter. So hopefully I'll find someone who has vetted one of these places and I will try it out.

In summary, as I've written this I've solidified my thoughts on this place a little more. It seems to me that maybe this is a country and a people that are simply very suggestible. They are of Spanish descent, speak English, eat Chinese food- maybe this is why I'm not finding anything particularly "Philippine" about it. They don't seem as nationalistic as many other countries I've visited, either. Maybe they have had so many years of outside influence that they just take what comes. I'll have to think about that some more.

I'll be kvetchier next time, I promise.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Keeping it real: Breakupgate 2008

So it's been some time since I've kvetched at you. There have been good reasons. The wholesale collapse of one's industry, for example. But I digress.

We all know that Queen Dweeb has an awesome track record for breakups. Excellent reasons for getting dumped include:

1. You're not poor (no, really)
2. I don't want to have sex with you (no, really, in HIGH SCHOOL)
3. You're not pretty enough (oh, yes he did)
4. I lost my job, I am going to sleep all day and freeze you slowly out of my life (oh, the hell you are)
5. This open relationship isn't working, and let me make your life a living hell because of it (feel free to ask)

Let me add to the mix, "I'm getting back together with an old flame, but no, wait, let me NOT TELL YOU ABOUT IT FOR ALMOST A WEEK." Because, you know, nothing adds insult to injury like being the last one to know, huh? I mean, really, this was a summer fling, not a serious relationship. I didn't CARE about it. I did CARE about the fact that I didn't know, and had blathered on for, oh, 15 minutes without knowing, and had sent, oh, 5 days worth of emails without knowing, and oh, had spent, HOURS figuring out plans for the weekend. But it's cool, cause, you know, you're just not into confrontation or whatever.

The best part? When the boy in question was called out on his pussitude for not admitting to this sooner? His reply was that NOT EVERYONE HAS BALLS OF STEEL LIKE QUEEN DWEEB.

So here's to you, dorky boys with no spines, for giving me fodder for my blog!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Manila Files, Episode 2: What Country am I in, again?

So I'm in the Philippines. Lots of small asian people running around, speaking a funny language. Their "buses" look like the love-children of a covered pickup and a short bus (see previous post for a photo). But my first question is, this is Asia? Really?

The first oddity is that all the signs are in English, but all the people I see are speaking Tagalog. I think most have a decent command of English, but it's hard to tell sometimes. This confusion of language is most notable when reading the local newspapers. By all appearances, they look just like American newspapers, with larger headlines. But when you sit down and read an article, it becomes apparent that these writers don't have the command of English I expect out of a published document. Everything seems peachy until you come up against a run-on sentence that would have had my 10th-grade English teacher seizing on the floor. They're actually kind of like The Washington Post now that they offered early retirement to all their copy editors.

What's truly odd to me, however, is the mall. There is an enormous one two blocks from here. Inside are enough restaurants that I could easily eat there twice a day and not eat at the same place twice. Most of the places there, you and I have heard of: McDonald's and Wendy's of course, but also a TGI Friday's, an Auntie Anne's, a Shakey's (there's a blast from the past), and I kid you not, a fucking Kenny Rogers' Roasters. I've never even seen one of those in the States. The Kenny Rogers and the KFC seemed the busiest- fried chicken must be big here. Add in the Gap, Nine West, Marks and Spencer, and Toys 'R' Us, and I feel right at home.

So seriously, this is Asia? Yeah, there are a lot of Chinese restaurants, but I can't tie anything I see to anything I ever imagined as "asian". Maybe world cities are becoming more homogeneous, but I could swear I was back in Latin America. It makes sense, in a way, as the Spanish first colonized the Philippines, and were quickly followed by the Americans. But I don't feel like I'm somewhere new. It just seems like another iteration of the dirty and poor Latin American cities I've been to. So maybe I should be asking myself instead, what hemisphere am I in?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Real Men of Annoying

Kvetchisthenewblog presents: Real men of annoyance. Please supply the music in your own heads.

Real men of annnoooooooooooyance!

Today, Kvetchisthenewblog salutes you, Mr. Bathroom Newspaper reader.

Mr. Bathroom Newspaper Reeeeeaaaaader!

Because every house is your house, you gallantly take your newspaper into the work bathroom and get far too comfortable while sitting on the communal commode.

Pass over the sports page!

As you do in your home toilet, you peruse the post while on the throne, because it would not do to be bored during those anxious few moments where you are seperated from all electronic and social stimulants.

Cause I'm afraaaaaaaaid I'd drop my iPod!

And when you are done browsing the news of the day, you generously leave the newspaper hanging from the handlebar, in the spirit of true egalitarianism. In that same spirit, you leave the newsaper in the time after you wiped and before you washed your hands, so that any man who picks up that paper can get your poop particles all over themselves.

Soooooaaap is for chuuuuuuuuuumps!

So here's to you, oh Baron of the Broadsheets. Without your bold actions, we might not never have known the score of the Royals game last night. Or had to wash our hands for a preemptive second time.

Mr. Bathroom Newspaper Reeeeeaaaaader!

The Manila Files, Episode 1: Frogger

I have now been in Manila, Philippines, for four days. So far, I haven't done much. I've gone to work, slept a lot so as to acclimate myself to being 12 hours off from the east coast, and done little else. The only excitement has been my daily 10-minute walk to work. It's a reasonably "safe" walk, along an open promenade in front of Manila Bay. However, to get to the promenade I must cross an eight-lane road with a very poorly functioning traffic light.

Many people claim that video games are a waste of time and lead to a deterioration in brain functioning. Well, thanks to the Atari 2600, I may actually survive this trip to Manila. For crossing Roxas Boulevard resembles nothing so much as a game of Frogger. Instead of slowing down- as if the drivers never relate to such a lowly person who would have to walk across a busy road- the drivers flash their lights and honk their horns, usually while accelerating. We know you're there, assholes, we just need to get to work. Cut us some slack.

Maybe the people of this country are so small because they are impatient to get out of the womb. This impatience is certainly manifested in the way they drive. From what I can tell, there are no observed traffic rules but god-forbid you get in someone else's way. The most vile offenders are usally the "jeepneys", which look like garishly painted and squashed "short" buses. These things stop on a dime whenever a person flags them down, but are their drivers are notably short-tempered when another jeepney dares to stop to pick up its own passengers.

Not to be outdone, drivers that happen to be behind a jeepney will universally lean on their horns and make every effort to move around. You'd think they had never encountered one of these vehicles with the seizure-inducing paint jobs, and that they were completely confounded by the idea that they might, for some reason, stop. So far, I haven't seen any accidents, but I keep hoping. With any luck, my skinny ass won't be personally involved.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I have to agree with the Marshall. Normally, I would have let a massive rager fly, but nothing annoys me at the moment. It's odd, because I do alot of my best humor-induced quipping at the office, but by the time I muster the wherewithal to write about anything good, the rage passes from me. But some of the funniest stuff I know of does occur at my office.

Take, for example, my coworker, a Croatian-born former Swede, who worships at the Altar of Ronald Reagan and has been given the improbable nickname "el chupacabra". The same person who once asked me about the congratulatory gesture or greeting where two people hit their fists together. "Optimisticalcynical, that's called 'fisting each other,' right?" Things like that break up my everyday boredom at work. I suppose I tell myself that I will blog about stuff like that, to entertain the masses, but I never get around to it. I will, in the future, try to get more of a wild hair up my ass about this stuff, 'cause it's generally pretty fun.

Anyway, in the spirit of mini-kvetching, here is a brief list of things that piss me off:

1. The fact that I have a fairly technologically advanced, double-alarm alarm clock, where one, and only one of the alarms usually fails to go off. And, as a special bonus bit o' fun, the alarm that will fail to work changes on a nearly daily basis.

2. The "Grocery Shrink Ray" whereupon manufacturers, in an effort to cut costs, shrink the amount of stuff in their products, as well as their packaging subtly, in the hopes that we, the idiot consumer, won't notice that they are charging the same for 10 oz of cereal that they used to charge for 12 oz.

3. That Paris Hilton and Tila Tequila haven't started to hang out. I say this because it is my theory that the combination of their incredibly high levels of vapidity, fame-seeking, undeserving attention, etc. would create a Useless Celebrity Singularity, sucking them both into oblivion, and eliminating the need future seasons of shitty reality TV. And maybe, just maybe, Tiffany from I Love New York and the Pussycat Dolls could be caught in the subsequent explosion of the Useless Celebrity Singularity. And then be eaten by wolves.

4. I know it's the summer, but is it too much to ask to have one scripted tv show worth watching? Please?

5. The people next to my house who do not perform any maintenance on their home, letting their grass grow so tall that the city has to be called in to cut it. If that tall grass becomes a hiding place for snakes, I am going to lose my shit. I hate snakes with a fervor that could be called Indiana Jones-esque.

6. The fact that (one of) my bosses, in charge of assigining me work, has still not told me whether I will need to come in on the weekend. Not so much with my boss, but the fact that the people who apparently need my help so urgently cannot be bothered to actually give my boss a yes or no answer. And they will likely make up their minds after I, and all of the other potential workers, have left for the day (and weekend). They will then become angry, and wonder why no one came in to help them even though they emailed us, and "why weren't their blackberries turned on?" Because we don't have them. Please stop assuming that we do. In any case, aswers will come too late for anything useful to be done about them. I suppose that bueraucratic incompetence knows no time or place. It can readily shoot itself in the foot at any time.

7. The woman who sat behind me on the Metro today. You know what you did.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


So this is my meta-kvetch. A kvetch about the lack of kvetching.

I can't be the only one who gets annoyed by things around here.

Currently on my list:

- 6:00 am video-conferences
- People in foreign countries who abandon their jobs
- Laundry
- Hanley Ramirez (another baseball reference)
- The bright-orange animal vomit on the sidewalk