Wednesday, March 09, 2005

End of the Line

This is it. We've had a good run here on Petty Annoyances, but I'm bringing this journal to a close. Not permanently, maybe, but for the forseeable future. When I started this thing I had a huge, out of control list of things that irritated me, annoyed me and just generally pissed me off. Thanks to the magic of the internet though, I've been able to faithfully report all these things, and have even thrown in a few new ones as they came up.

But now the well is dry, so to speak. It's time to go live life a little more and find brand new things to complain about. Perhaps in time, I'll be overflowing with rage again and will return to this trusted forum to spew the bile. One can only hope.

Some things I was planning to write about but could never really work up the umph for: the mighty badness of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, the profound ugliness of a car door opening at a red light, a head emerging, and a thick loogie slowly descending - and the fact that although the movie Psycho featured arguably the greatest single performance of any movie, the finest direction of any movie, the best score and one of the best scripts, it was denied nominations for any of those things at the 1960 Oscars. But hey, The Apartment. We watch that Jack Lemmon classic allllll the time, right?

So I say thank you to anyone out there who's enjoyed these whiny essays, and, like the majestic hawk, must now fly away deep into the high, high mountains, where, being a hawk, I dwell exclusively. On the bright side, I've always wanted to be able to say I was putting something "on hiatus" for "retooling" and now I can.

I leave you with a look at the brighter side of life, because one can't be negative all the time.

20 Things I Like

1. When the dryer lint comes cleanly off the screen with a single snap of the wrist

2. Boolean modifiers

3. Removing your feet from ski boots.

4. Any commercial with William Shatner

5. Toilet paper with some bite

6. Porn DVD commentary

7. The names Launchpad McQuack and Judge Learned Hand

8. Pulling up to the parking space exactly as the song is ending

9. The funky, staccato, syncopated vocal cadences of CNN's Richard Quest. When the guy speaks it's like jazz improv.

10. Using the rare but grammatically correct "Sons of a bitch." when insulting brothers.

11. Dreaming about what you'd have done to the thief if you'd have caught him red handed.

12. The terms fracas, melee, brouhaha, hubbub, foofaraw, hullabaloo, and kerfuffle.

13. Rolling a hard eight

14. Barbershop chairs that face away from the mirror. This is genius! I never realized how relaxing a haircut can be when you're not staring into your own eyes for 20 straight minutes. Plus, no mirror, I can completely ignore the barber's craft. I go from unkempt to well groomed with absolutely no information about the transition. This is really how it should be.

15. Ben Stein

16. When you and another guy at the urinal start peeing at pretty much the same time. And you keep going, and he keeps going, and you keep going, and it's looking to be a real marathon, and you make an effort to pace yourself, and it gets to the point where you have serious doubts if you're going to win this one - but wait! He's wavering... he tinkles to a stop! You're still in the zone! Victory!

17. The laughable No U-Turn sign. Ha! No one enforces you!

18. Need a penny, take a penny. Have a penny, leave a penny.

19. Happy old toothless guys. Generally I don't like old people, but the happy old toothless guys who you find at the poker table are your instant best friends. They were crane operators for 50 years, or sanitation workers, or whatever, and they'll be glad to tell you how much fun it was. They have an endless supply of great dirty jokes, they'll drink all night, they bathe with surprising regularity, and they have that great smile that just makes you think "Yeah, I could pick up that spare." Happy old toothless guys, I salute you.

20. “He peppered in God’s lo mein.”

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Ice Cream Man

I hate you, ice cream man.

Every day, for two full hours, the ice cream man makes his rounds outside my bedroom window. He's there from 10 to 11 am, and then there again from about 3 to 4.

This guy isn't a Mr. Softee or some sort of national ice cream truck outfit. He's just a dude with a shabby looking mexican coyote van equipped with a loudspeaker. As a convenience to residents in my complex, the front gates are left open during business hours to keep traffic moving. In comes the ice cream man. He circles our little block endless times, the schreechy little synthesized song playing over and over in a 15 second loop.

We have plenty of kids in the complex, which is why he's so happy to be here. Our complex has a no solicitation rule, but it isn't enforced. At the end of my tether one time, having listened to this 15 second high pitched ditty for the 6 thousandth time in single day, I went to management and begged them to do something. They get lots of complaints, they say. They've told him to go away, they say. He agrees to not come back, they say. And then he comes back, right on schedule.

One time I woke up at 3am with the song playing loudly and perfectly in my ears. (The song is kinda like "Over There" except weirder and shorter) It was playing note-perfect in my head. It took me a minute to realize I was hallucinating it. My first thought was simply, "No!!!!!! Not now, ice cream man! Mercy! Mercy!"

Imagine the scene on another day. A frigid January morning. About 10:00 am. A steady splattering of freezing rain. The sort of morning where you huddle next to the heater with a blanket wrapped around you. And then... the ice cream man.... over therrrrrre..... over therrrrrre..... send the word, flip the bird, over therrrrrre...

Because the yanks are coming.
The yanks are coming.
The drums rum-tumming everywherrrre...

Repeat 50 times.

Mr. Softee would never hustle kids for a sugar fix on a day like that. He has better things to do. But not our ice cream man.

Sometimes I fantasize about visiting actual violence on the ice cream man. Pulling him out of his truck Reginald Denny style. Slashing his tires. Gouging him repeatedly in the face with an Italian Ice cardboard spoon.

If anyone can suggest some actual, feasable solutions for my ice cream man problem, or at least come up with some ideas for how to make his life miserable, I'd be interested and appreciative.

P.S. If there was really more to Acrobat than just the Reader, do you think maybe they'd stop reminding you after 10 or 15 years? You think? Just putting that out there.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

120 Annoyances

101. The insane difficulty of the average text adventure.

102. The black Chuckle.

103. Someone walking in front of you - just fast enough that you can't overtake them, just slow enough that you can't get into a comfortable gait.

104. "Professional driver, closed course."

105. People who use the "[sic]" convention of preserving a misspelling within a quote for no reason except to belittle the author of the quote. So often in printed debate you see someone quoting their opponent and throwing in the "[sic]" like it's some kind of sophisticated riposte. If pointing out someone's spelling mistake is important enough to be included in your argument, then you're on weak ground, in my opinion.

106. The FBI Warning

107. An ice cold, unspreadable chunk of cream cheese.

108. Edutainment

109. Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates.

110. Children in a video arcade who desperately, pathetically try to glean a sliver of enjoyment by pretending to control a demo screen. I don't know why this angers me. I just want to smack them.

111. Fusion cuisine. Why are the portions so small?

112. Rhyming jail with bail. Also mad, bad, sad, and glad.

113. When you drop something - a paper clip, a quarter, a matchbook - and it's just gone. You look around, you look under the chair - everywhere, but it is just not there.

114. Fighting a losing battle for armrest real estate with a big guy on a plane.

115. When your loud turn signal really messes up the good part of the song.

116. Businesses with phone numbers that make you hunt around on your phone for the letters of the alphabet, and especially those whose spelled-out numbers exceed the 7-digit maximum. By the time you've realized it was a total waste of time to find the "E" and the "R", you've already done it.

117. Poetry in a foreign language that suspiciously still rhymes in English when it's translated. I'm no expert on poetry, but how can preserving the rhyme structure of a translated poem possibly be considered more important than preserving the authenticity of the text?

118. Warm, wet, spongy, undercooked pepperoni - the result of some pizzarias' moronic policy to cook the toppings under the cheese.

119. Eraserhead, Begotten and Tetsuo the Iron Man.

120. When you get on a really long line, and as you progress through it, no one gets in line behind you.