A few weeks ago, I had some pretty harsh words for Manhattan-based coffee haus, Macchiato. It was then brought to my attention that Macchiato may not have the finest coffee, but they possess a secret weapon: fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
Now I am nothing if not fair and thorough, particularly with regards to investigating baked goods. So, in the interest of promoting justice and balance in my final assessment of Macchiato, I visited this afternoon and purchased an iced coffee and a chocolate chip cookie. The coffee was weak and bitter--ring a bell, ARBITRARILY CHOSEN EX-GIRLFRIEND?--and, as usual, there was no liquid sugar to numb the pain. Then I took a bite of the (still warm) cookie and damn, Macchiato. Damn. You may have lost the coffee war with Joe but you just carpet-bombed those hippies cookie-wise. Eating a Joe's vegan chocolate and peanut butter cookie (not as bad as you'd think, but almost) is like having your tonsils scraped when compared to the homemade dripping sweetness of these Macchiato chocolate chip-flavored ecstasy pills. Joe, I totally support our cookie troops but sometimes the only way to really show support is to demand they be removed from combat and sent home, providing "home" is a dumpster behind Grand Central Station. Sorry, guys. We can still meet for lattes, right?
Macchiato's cookies are small, too, which is good because so many places overdo it with cookie size. I'm a grown-up; I should be able to dwarf my cookie, size-wise. Giant cookies make me feel like a very tall infant. It's like walking around with one of those big swirly lollipops: "Gangway, everyone! It's num-num time and I need plenty of room to enjoy my cookie reward!"
If these chocolate chip cookies have one downside--which they don't, and I should slap you for ever suggesting such a thing--it's that they've left me feeling very confused about Macchiato. How did this cold, heartless robot learn so much about love? And does that mean we can all learn to love, too? Macchiato is officially a conundrum to me. How can a coffee shop be such equal parts ice-veined, Teutonic monster and kindly old lady? Maybe it's my fault for being confused. After all, Macchiato does represent itself very clearly in its advertising. Take a look:
If you're so inclined, The Morning News has made available the final essay in my six-part series about my life in video games, "Consoles I Have Known." This one is about the console war between the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360, and how I became one of its many casualties. Oh, read it for yourself. It's called "Second Place is First to Lose."
In a way, the article is also about the way popular opinion is formed, and how that has changed a lot in the blog era. (yuck. sorry.) One video game blog in particular, Kotaku.com, figures pretty heavily into the story as its been kind of a daily obsession for me over the last couple of years. I really do enjoy this site though I do often lose patience for it just as I lose patience for most things published by Gawker. Their writers tend to stretch too often and too hard for the put-down, even where it can't really justify one.
Kotaku also has a very lively comments section which is, above all else, frustrating. I've always felt like, in comments sections, intelligent discussion can often exist but never prevails. Kotaku is very guilty of that, so I usually try not to read the comments. Unfortunately, they've made that impossible for me today because they (very nicely) linked to my story on The Morning News, and now it (and the question of whether I'm funny, boring, gay, or simply a tool with no opinion) has become part of a typical flame war on the site. I can't say I didn't have this coming to me.
ASSISTANCE IN THE PROCUREMENT OF BACHELOR PARTY SERVICES.
I helped plan my friend's bachelor party this weekend, which was great fun except for that awkward and unspoken part where I think I was supposed to know how to find some naked ladies. I have seen strippers perform because if you're a guy eventually someone will drag you to a strip club whether you like it or not, but I've never really gone at my own suggestion. Maybe there are guys who have strippers on speed dial, in case of an emergency--and these are guys I like to call "Paul Stanley of KISS"--but it's honestly a mystery to me. As far as I know there does not exist any kind of service like yelp.com for bachelor party entertainment, which I find odd. I mean, it seems like there are tons of online resources you can cross-reference to find out where to get a good Vietnamese sandwich in Manhattan, but nothing like a Zagat's guide to let you know ahead of time if you're about to hire a "serviceable" entertainer whose "bloom is off the rose" and who is "also notable" for having a "belligerent pimp" who might "rob you at knifepoint."
In an effort to do proper diligence in researching this kind of specialty service, I decided to draft a questionnaire to help me screen any potential candidates for bachelor party entertainment. I realize it sounds like a very square thing to do, but it seemed preferable to choosing the first name I found in the local business directory. (This is not meant as a criticism of "AAAA Strippers, Unlimited." I'm sure they're a very reputable vendor.) Anyway, I learned this technique while planning my own wedding and downloading forms from sites like theknot.com, which provide lists of questions to ask your vendors. And creating this questionnaire helped me weed out individuals who were less likely to deliver the level of quality and professionalism this bachelor party demanded.
It was helpful for me, and if you think it might be helpful if you're planning a bachelor party, or just would like some strippers to come to your dormitory or next church function, you can download this questionnaire as a PDF:
Is there something one better than a trifecta? A quadrillium? A quattriffico?* Because I need a word to describe what I saw yesterday. I was standing on the corner, drinking lemonade--you know how I do. Suddenly, I was surrounded by French Bulldogs, the Canis Lupus Familiaris' greatest gift to comedy. A woman was out walking a pair of bug-eyed and musclebound pals, while also pushing a baby stroller. That's sweet, I thought. She likes babies and dogs equally. She has my vote.
Then, as I got closer to the stroller, my eyes and heart engaged in a tongue-touching makeout session because lo and behold I espied the following:
a plump French Bulldog!
sitting in the stroller!!
AND WEARING A G-DAMN DIAPER!!!!!!!!!!
If he were also wearing a tiny graduation cap and tenured professor robe, I would have run into the street and let a truck kill me because I would gladly have that dog be the last thing I ever set my eyes upon. Even so, I had to ignore my initial impulse, to push the woman to the ground, commandeering her vehicle, and wheeling this diapered beauty to Valhalla. Instead, I got my head straight and congratulated her on its excellent performance.
Then we got to talking about how this amazing three-part harmony came to be. It turns out her dog was born with a twisted spine and, at two years old, became paralyzed in its lower body, but has been in physical therapy (including hydrotherapy) and has proven himself a strong and happy survivor. In my estimation, the dog's Terry Fox-esque fortitude in the face of great vulnerability gave it extra-credit. In fact, if I had a root beer-scented scratch'n'sniff sticker I would have slapped it on his Pampers right then and there. Because, pard'ner, you did a root-a-tootin' job of making my day!
*apparently, there is. And it's called a "Superfecta." Thanks for knowing how to use the Internet better than I do, Wes.
I'M JOHN MCCAIN, AND I APPROVE OF THIS VERY LOUD AND INAPPROPRIATELY PLACED FART SOUND.
In the interest of being Fair and Balanced (copyright 2008), I should also point out that Senator Obama made a similarly grim appeal on Last Comic Standing this week. I should, but I won't because McCain's video is the one that should really be seen for its comedic value. After all, it was McCain himself who said his attack ads comparing Barack Obama to Paris Hilton (topical!), Britney Spears (fresh!), Moses (classic!) and, if you listen to people who understand language coded for evangelical Christians, The Dark Prince (batdance!), were all meant to "inject some humor into the campaign." (And yes, I put those quotes around his statement even though it is a paraphrase. Thank you, Internet's Zero Accountability.) As such, I'm going to assume McCain is the candidate who knows his way around a hilarious (spurious, apocalyptic) joke.
First of all, I have seen more natural, less coerced looking televised performances from Al Qaeda hostages. Maybe this was deliberate and McCain is trying to signal his superior officers to let them know he's being held captive by an over-laughing publicist, but I can't say for sure because my skills as a voice and body language interpreter are about as official as the presidential seal on the podium in this video. (Chances that one hour before this was taped a production assistant ordered to "find a can of brown paint to cover up the "Tic-Tac-Dough" logo on that podium, or I'll have you late-term aborted!!" are exactly one million to yes.)
Also, did someone's cat fall asleep on the sound effects console? Or did someone at LCS--that's industry lingo for Last Comic Standing--painstakingly and judiciously decide "old fashioned jalopy horn = Reagan" and "boner popping = Bush?" I do kind of hope a producer was standing over a sound technician, saying, "wait, wait...try 'Slide Whistle Down'. Hmm...maybe that's too poignant. Lemme hear 'Pig Farts Inside Log'. Great, put that in the 'maybe' folder." But I also hope that same producer heard the sound of his own voice during these proceedings and, in a moment of clarity, without saying another word to anyone, placed his clipboard on a console, exited the studio, drove to the airport, and booked a direct flight to Darfur to perform volunteer relief work for the next five years. Oh, and I think I can be of some assistance to McCain. When you wondered out loud who called you "funny looking" (punchy!), had you considered it might have been the DJ, since the barb was immediately preceded by the sound of a needle scratching across a record? Elementary, sir.
Not that it has anything to do with electability (a subject McCain knows a great deal about), but if Obama lacked the good sense to refuse this comedic showcase outright, at least he had the decent sense to make it quick. Compare that to McCain, who wrote a tight fifteen, and then blew the light anyway.
(Vicious and superfluous ad hominem attack: has anyone else noticed that, as McCain continues to age horribly before our very eyes, he has taken on the appearance of a man who was carved from snow? If you look closely at the buttons on his suit, I think you'll see they're made out lumps of coal. FREEZER BURN!)