Wednesday, February 25, 2009

IT Happens Episode 2: America's Americans

Episode 2 (Start opening music) IT HAPPENS

Jericho is at home. He's sitting on $100 blue IKEA couch, drinking from 29 cent oddly shaped IKEA glasses, while using an IKEA catalog as a tablecloth on his $10 IKEA dinner cart. Jericho sighs as his phone rings, reminding him that his weekend is a facade. He picks it up.

"Helpdesk this is Jerry speaking, how may I help you?"

"Haaaallo, this is Changweng weng. I have phone which makes it bad time. It make me feel like I no work, but I know the phone no work, not me. (he laughs)."

"Ok Mr. Weng how..."

"Call me Changweng, you are not dog or child"

Jericho pauses.

"Ok Changweng, is there any reason why your phone is not working? Did you damage the phone in any way?"

Flashback to Changweng putting out a cigarette on his Blackberry while his ashtray is in his iPod Cradle

Flashback to Changweng showering with his Blackberry, using it as bar of soap and laughing when he figures out his mistake

Flashback to Changweng's wife, ZangZeng taking the battery of the Blackberry and using the empty side to pick up dog poop off their lawn

Flashback to Changweng throwing the Blackberry at his blindfolded kids running around the room. He hits one of his children who falls to the ground and yells "You are the black-ass-berry now!" The kids laugh hysterically.

" way, Jose" Changweng laughs thinking he made a pun on Jericho's name.

"Changweng, can you please open the back of the Blackberry and take out the battery?"

Changweng grows impatient.

"Listen Jose, I don't do the job, you do the job. You get the money to take out, I take out and get nothing but wonderful family." Changweng laughs again thinking he made another joke.

"Changweng, there's no way I can help you unless you do some troubleshooting on your end. Since it's the weekend, I am..."

"Hold on cowboy"

Changweng picks up his ringing Blackberry, which is playing Shania Twain's song "That don't impress me much" and speaks in Cantonese. He hangs up the Blackberry and pauses for a moment. Jericho hears Changweng mutter softly to himself Cantonese which could be translated to "Son of a b****" in English. Then he hears the phone rustle for another 30 seconds and turns into a dial tone.

Jericho slumps sideways on his couch, watching re-runs of America's Americans on mute and slowly falls asleep.

Dream sequence:

Jericho is in the back of the line to audition for America's Americans. He's wearing a ridiculous outfit with ripped jeans, bicycle gloves and a piano belt. He is standing outside in a blacktop parking lot of a huge football stadium. It's a hot day as he notices sweat mushing up his oversized, bleached bangs. He taps on the shoulder of a young teen blonde in front of him.

"Do you know how long this line is going to take?"

The blonde girl turns around and lets out a Mariah Carie-ish high note screech and then turns back around.

Jericho stares at the back of her head, as if he had seen a ghost.

The thousand of contestants are herded into the stadium, as Jericho is smooshed in between the stampeding herd. He sits on one of the orange bleacher chairs as they announce which section will be auditioning first.

"We are going to be starting backwards today, section 100 will go first, then 99 and so on"

Jericho looks down at his ticket, which says section 1.

14 hours pass as the day slumps into night. Finally Jericho is on the field, in line for one of the judging booths. People are exiting to the right if they are chosen by the judge and the left if they are rejected. An obese man in a sombrero with a shirt that reads "I ate the last America's American" walks to the right with his hands in the air.

Jericho finally gets up to the judging booth. The booth has two judges, one overweight gray bearded Harvey Feinstein lookalike and a scowling older Indian woman. Jericho stands up to the panel and let's out the start of his song,

"You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off of you".

The Harvey Feinstein man stops him with his eyes wide open.

"Stop! You are exactly what we need!"

Jericho is ecstatic, all of his hopes and dreams of becoming a rockstar are coming true. First America's Americans, then MTV, then Radio City Music Hall, then world tours with Coldplay.

"You really think so?"

"No no, I mean you!" He points at the girl standing behind him who is completely naked, covered in body paint of President Obama.

Jericho screams and runs down the field in embarrassment. He falls over one of the contestants on the way. He looks down and it's Ariel from Marketing.

"It's you, I mean, you are you, I mean. Ariel what are you doing here?"

Ariel doesn't say a word, but instead unbuckles his piano belt and wraps it around his waist pulling him closer to her. She starts licking face, as Jericho looks at her puzzled. He shrugs and starts licking her back.

End of Dream Sequence

Jericho wakes up with his dog "Deeogee or D-O-G" licking his face. He spits onto the ground and flings the dog across the couch.

America's Americans blares in the background as the 3 judges give their verdicts to a skinny blonde girl.

"I don't know man, seriously bro, not sure guy"

(The woman judges stares at her huge soda glass) "I think, I think,” "Who thinks?" "I think” Then she passes out over the table.

"I want to stick you like a frog, cause you sounded like a toad up there. I don't want to be mean, but you could have been replaced by a filing cabinet and I would have enjoyed it more"

The contestant talks back, "Well you're just a bitter old man who doesn't know anything about style. I'm getting married next week. My hubbo thinks I sing good"

"Oh shoot a hole in a window and jump out of it. Why don't you go get ready for your wedding, Big Lots is having a 50 cent sale on wooden sandals and cat litter."
“I mean look, you sung so softly, I was waiting for Clay Aiken to come out with a tiara singing lead.”

Jericho stands up to go to the fridge and his phone rings

"Haaaallo, this is Changweng weng. My TV box is not making cable, now it's just making snow. Maybe you can shovel my box?" He laughs.

Jericho looks at his dog who is licking its lips and sighs.


Unfortunately this story isn't far from experience as I tried out for American Idol in 2007 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. It was 80 degrees and I did wait 14 hours to audition.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Case of the Ruins

I first titled this post as "Why I will never return to Peru" but I think the title I chose is better suited. As many of you know, I took a trip to Peru with my long time buddies Marshal and David. Marshal had gone on a 6 month hiatus to South America and we decided to join him in Peru. Let me start the story off properly:

Special undies
While preparing for this trip, I decided to go to REI and buy some camping equipment (the last time I went camping it was in a 6 bedroom cabin with a pool table and hot tub). I bought myself a fleece, backpack, and came upon a special item. A $25 pair of special underwear that you can wear for 4-5 days stating that they are durable and don't absorb odor/moisture. Some of you may know where this is going. Happiness Level: A+

Cocoa Tea
We arrive in Peru. After seeing Maroon 5 in a layover in Panama, I knew (thought) this was going to be a special trip. Upon arrival I already notice the slight elevation sickness that everyone talks about, and continue to drink the forbidden Cocoa Tea (made from pre-Cocaine leaves), which is supposed to dull the pain. Instead of the euphoric, drug-leaf-ridden tizzy I was hoping it would put me in, it made my stomach do jumping jacks while my upper intestine fell asleep with the door shut. Happiness Level: A-

Soup and nasty meat
As our travels in Peru continued, we ate at various local Peruvian diners. Trying dishes that I'm familiar with from my favorite Peruvian diner in LA, expecting a "homemade" experience. After eating 5 local meals I came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter what you order in Peru. You're guaranteed two things: Soup and nasty meat. Let's see, I'll order the Lomo Saltado, steak with french fries. Yum-o right?! Yum-oh-@#$*-no was more like it. A big bowl of bacteria friendly luke warm chicken soup, with various hard bits at the bottom to break your molars. Then a freeze-dried piece of steak, which was somewhere in between the process of making steak into jerky. That way you can't enjoy it at either end. Not to mention the side of carrots and peas that made me want to run to the nearest Kaiser Permanente cafeteria on a Tuesday. Happiness Level: B+

The Trail
Our journey continues as we go into town looking for a tour group to hike the famous Macchu Picchu trail. We discover an amazing 4-day tour called the Inca Jungle trail. This included a day of hiking, a few days of mountain biking, sleeping in a covered hostel each night and an air-conditioned bus ride to the top of Macchu Picchu. We do not take this trail. Instead we take the Salcantay trail, which is the hardest possible trail to take to Macchu Picchu. This includes an all inclusive path to Hell: 5 days of hiking by foot, sleeping in thin tents in 20 degree weather, and a 4am wakeup call to scale the cliffs of Macchu Picchu to the top. But hey, we're all soft San Diegans who complain when it's 65 at night, this should be easy.
The first day is amazing. Fresh air, a cool breeze with the sun beaming down. I'm so excited for the trek that I don't even mind the soup and nasty meat the tour chef slops out. We arrive at the campsite, taking photos of the Andes in the distance. This is what life is all about, sharing great experiences with friends in remote places. Then it starts to hail.
Happiness Level: B

The Flood
The tour group is excited to have made it to the first destination, laughing and monkeying around the campsite. The night sneaks up on us as the porters set up our tents. We all barrel into a nearby shack as the cook serves us up our final meal of the night. S and NM per usual. Then it starts to pour rain. And by "pour" I mean it. The three of us run to our tent and zip up the flap as soon as we can get our muddy boots inside. We setup our backpacks and try to sleep on the rocky ground. Soon the storm turns into a bloody monsoon and water floods down the mountain under our tents. (Yes the tents were setup at the bottom of a hill). The water soon turns to ice and freezes at the bottom of our tents. Sorta like sleeping on a waterbed in a freezer. THEN on top of it all, the water starts to seep INTO the tent, creating what I like to call a Cluster-Freeze. At this point our sleeping bags are ruined, sopping with Peruvian rain water. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Happiness Level: F

The Huddle
We unzip the tent and run to the shack where we had eaten dinner. We scour for blankets or a place to sleep. At this point we realized that the shack (with no doors) was colder then the tent. We grab 3 of the small stools that we had used for dinner and rush them back to the tent. Into our shivering madness we knew we had to do something. It was time for "the Huddle". We position the chairs into a triad and sat facing each other and went into an awkward huddle. David smartly suggested that we put the one non-soaked sleeping bag over our heads, which we did. Unfortunately all 3 of us are equipped with blazing-ly fast digestive systems, and when I say blazing, I mean it. So here we are, recreating a scene from Mel Brook's Blazing Saddles where they eat beans around a campfire. Each horn that blew caused for a retreat outside of the blanket, which caused us to come up with a new game plan. At this point we're tired, wet, and delirious so I don't exactly remember who came up with the next set of strategies. We decided to mix it up, three in a row side-by-side, triangle position back-to-back-to-back, sleeping bag over top, sleeping bag over the legs. Nothing was working. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We ended up 3 in a row as if we were riding a 3-man-motorcycle. 3 full grown men sitting on small child size stools like the 3 stooges in a canoe. It couldn’t get any worse. Happiness Level: F-

The Hamster
No one ends up sleeping that night as we brave the storm in our soaked tent. We finally come upon good luck in the morning as 2 French women are taking a 2-hour taxi ride from town to the campsite. We take the taxi back and enjoy a 2-hour ride on a road with no pavement and plenty of slippery rocks. That night we decide to hit the town's nightlife and enjoy our freedom from the horrible trials of hiking in nature. We heard that it's common for the locals to eat "Cuy" or as we call it "Guinea Pig", "Hamster" or "Herbie". We found a wandering chef who took us to his favorite local restaurant that served the pet delicacy. After our bowl of soup, the Cuy was served. Rice, potato and a big brown ball of hot hamster served on a plate. I ate my hamster in silence as our chef tour guide stared at us eating. Thankfully the little guy didn't have much meat, just tons of little bones that I could hide under the pile of rice. Sorry Herbie, you don't taste that good. Happiness Level: D+

The day arrives, after a night of eating late night pizza with questionable cheese and dipping hardly fried fries into spicy yet tasteless green sauce. We wake up early and decide to walk up the mountain trail to Macchu Picchu, hopefully regaining some of our dignity and questioned manhood. The view is amazing, beautiful ruins made of rock and green grass. My stomach starts to rumble, leading to a verp of chocolate energy gel, acid and Hamster sauce. I stay positive and take it as a sign of my digestive system doing it's magic. We decide to climb the highest mountain in Macchu Picchu called Wannapicchu. It's about a 45 minute climb but at a 45 degree angle up the side. As we climb up, I start to notice how tired my legs are and start breaking out into an undeserved sweat. We reach the top of the mountain and I look down at my stomach. It gives me the middle finger as it gurgles the stew brewing below. Then it hits me. It was time to "go". I tell the guys that I need to go back and rush down the hill. I glide down the mountain, clenching my backside harder and tighter on each bumpy step. There is a pack of German tourists blocking my path, who decide to do a half-walk, half-stand-in-your-f#$%*-way while shooting off-center pictures of plants. I duck through their unwashed bodies and make my way to the start of the path. My stomach taps me on the shoulder and says, "If you're not going to poop..." as I proceed to puke up water onto a patch of ancient rocks. There is a lady at the front of the bathroom, collecting 1 Sol ($0.30) to go into the bathroom. I nearly punch her in the face as my wallet is in the storage bin. Thankfully I found a Sol in my pocket and proceed to take the best seat in the house. I say my final goodbyes to Herbie. Happiness Level: B to F to A+

Case of the ruins
I stay sick for the next 3 days, bed-ridden for one, popping antibiotics like popcorn and praying to survive our final days in Peru. We need to train back to Lima to spend the last days of our trip. The train is leaving in 10 minutes so we run to the station. As we arrive to the gate, I decide to let out one of my sickened farts outside of the train. Then as I let the bugle sound, the world stops and I feel my shorts fill up, as if I had made a smoothie from my ass. "Never trust a fart" my wise friend had once told me. I trusted, and now I have sharted. I run to the bathroom, lock the stall and pull my pants down to exam the damage. I had been spared. From all of my crappy life-threatening experiences during the trip, I finally came up on top (pun intended). My special durable REI underwear had saved me, acting as a nest, holding in all of my "eggs". I threw the $25 diaper into the small trash bin in the stall and thanked the Gods of REI for sparing me as I had gotten a case of the ruins. Happiness Level: D- to A+

There are many other stories in this trip, such as when we stayed at a $9/night hostel in which the ceiling leaked anytime you flushed the toilet and when we took a bus back to town during a rainstorm and possibly hit a person or burro. But to be honest, I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world. Ok maybe a few things...

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sorry and THE WORST (Academy Award season)

Sorry for the delay everyone. It seems that I really am unemployed now (and my former company has nearly hit rock bottom due to the LCE effect). Despite what you think, I actually have less time to do things now like IM friends all day, surf the web aimlessly and write blogs. It's just not the same once you're not getting paid to do it. Now I'm able to do the "normal" things that I never had the time for such as: doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking food, exercising, reading paragraphs, talking to people on the phone, talking to people in person, etc. I'm still working on the next episode of IT Happens (Jericho tries out for AI) so look for that soon. To help fill in the cracks of my prolonged nap here's a fun topical...topic for yah:

Hey ya'll it's Academy Award season! I've seen some great movies like Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire, Doubt, The Wrestler, Gran Torino (the best one) and Frost/Nixon. I think I saw Milk and Benjamin Button but it's hard when you're asleep halfway through it. In the spirit of the AA and the Razzies I'd like to list my pick of the worst movies ever made:

The Majestic (Jim Carrey snoozer, how did the Shawshank guy make this movie?)
Lady in the Water (15 minutes I walked out)
The Happening (M Nightshamalamdingdong should end his career now)
The Night Listener (Robin Williams should know better, One hour photo worked)
Godzilla (even Ferris Bueller couldn't save this one)
Batman and Robin (The Governator and rollerskates, who knew that wouldn't work?)
Domino (was this an music video or a movie? Pretty sure it was neither)
A Thin Red Line (a thin red bore)
Dan in Real Life (Dane Cook needs to stick to stage comedy)
Polar Express (Weird n creepy, something Michael Jackson would have written)
I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry (Just watch the first 10 minutes, that'll be enough)

What's your worst movie picks?