Things That Two Years Ago You Thought You Would Never Say

  • “The future of books is audio books.” Am I an idiot or are audio books going to”blow up” any minute? It’s only one or the other, not both.
  • “Halo is the best game ever released for the Xbox.” First game I played and still the best. Microsoft should be ashamed.
  • The Bloated Over-Merchandised Star Wars Franchise® just came out with another pork chop of a video game. This one’s called ‘Ton-Ton Guts and The Rise of the Rebel Snow-Yetti.’ It’s a Mortal Combat-type fighter. The Ton-Ton Guts shoot deadly little frozen Mark Hamill’s at the enemy.” Okay, I never really said this but it will be my canned response whenever someone asks me what I think of “Star Wars” now.
  • “How is Matt doing?” He’s good. You know he’s married, right?” I guess Poison was right. Every rose does have it’s thorn.
  • “I only like watching TV Shows on DVD’s now. Megan and I will rent a whole season and watch it in a couple nights.” Perk of abandoning network and cable tv that I never expected.
  • “Professional basketball is less interesting to watch than professional soccer.” Granted I don’t watch either but I think I could still argue this point effectively.
  • “See, buying a condo could be a sweet move.” All the proof anyone ever needed that I’m nearing completion on my goal to be a 100% complete yuppy sellout by the age of thirty.
  • “If you are going to buy a computer, buy an Apple laptop.” Just last week I received my official “Apple Zealot” framed certificate that I will put up on my wall in place of my Harvard degree.
  • Ohmygod! Two years ago I never would use LOL or LMAO. :) Has iChat reduced anyone else to this instant message gibberish? ROTFLMAO.
  • “Burger King® closed down in Bellingham.” Is it fathomable that a huge burger franchise could crumble within my lifetime?

What did I forget?

My Signature on the Stars

My Signature on the Stars

Rewind to two months ago. It’s late June and MR is spamming Zillionaire daily with a bevy of shameless self-promotion pieces about his upcoming “marriage.” (I use quotes because I have heard from a number of sources that their union is illegitimate. Matt had previously married his Xbox and refused to have it annulled. He is technically a polytechnogamist.) Well, it turns out Matt wasn’t the only one falling in love. I have an announcement to make everyone, and I’m doing it right here on Zillionaire.

I am engaged.

I met my fiance on the day before Matt’s wedding actually, in a little town called Olga on the muddy sand beaches of Orcas Island. In fact, Matt introduced us. You know those awkward first conversations with someone you don’t know, well we didn’t have any of that. We just sat and looked at each other. Webster’s would call it love at first sight, but what is that? Does that describe the way someone can look at you and your foot starts tapping and your throat turns hairy? Does it do justice to the way that feeling “known” by someone can turn you into the child you’ve been bottling up for so long? I don’t think so. So yeah it was love at first sight, but that was the just that first split-second when we first laid eyes on each other. The rest of the time felt like love for an eternity.

So let me introduce you all to my new love, the Space Pen.

Space Pen

A beloved gift from MR for corralling long-lust buds at his bachelor party (Gabe Smith was a tough one to round up. Apparently, he is the Pecos Bill of Ellensburg now.), the Space Pen is unlike any other gift I’ve ever received. None of the other presents that have graced my Christmas mornings or bad-ass birthday bashes have ever been documented to write in zero-gravity. None of them. Not even the Underwater Typewriter I got that one year my family celebrated Hanukah. (Stupid thing was only “waterproof” though, meaning it could function at a maximum depth of 10 feet. Useless to me, at that point.)

Its uniqueness is only matched by its exquisite craftsmanship. It is a marvel to hold in the hand. I can only speculate what holding a 200 carat diamond feels like. I have never wrapped my fingers around a solid gold bar. Even so, I can guarantee the Space Pen is of that caliber. I would say it reminds me of handling a 200 carat diamond encased in a solid gold bar, but that’s just off the top of my head.

Seriously, this is the kind of material possession that makes me want to have babies; little ones that will someday grow up and I can pass on the treasures that I’ve collected over my lifetime. Dirty little rug-rats that, god willing, I can call my “inheritors” someday. That’s this man’s dying wish. (My nightly prayer always starts, “God, please don’t make me immortal”)

Picture it. My daughter sitting on my knee, looking up lovingly at her disgusting half-man, half-robot, 300-year-old cyber father while I tell her the story of the Space Pen. (I’m not planning on having kids soon.)

Me (Cyberdad): “This is called a Space Pen because it can write in Space.”
Daughter: “Cool. Did you use it Space?”
Me (Cyberdad): “Actually, no. I never went to Space.”
Daughter: “So it was just as functional as a regular pen?”
Me (Cyberdad): “Alright smartypants, time for bed. Go to your sleep chamber.”

All I can say is run, don’t moonwalk, to the galaxy nearest you and pick up a Space Pen. The heavens are now our infinite year-book to scribble on.

Champion Duffle Bag

Continuing on with products I proudly endorse:

Champion Duffle Bag from Costco: This particular duffle bag was available at Costco for a short time period in the summer of 2003. After reading this post, you’ll get an idea as to why it flew off the shelves like winged hotcakes. While this duffle bag is imminently qualified to be honored on this site, I admit I did have reservations about writing this piece. First off, I don’t want to get too nostalgic about how great the duffle bags used to be in the good ol’ days of 2003 (commonly referred to as the “Renaissance of Duffle Bags”). Second, it seems kind of unfair to endorse a product that is no longer sold in stores or readily available on the black market. I realize that it’s blatant cruelty to recommend a product that is almost impossible to obtain. Sorry about that. And finally, let’s face it, most people already subscribe to publications like Duffle Bag Enthusiast for the latest in duffle bag news. In light of all that, it seems pretty pointless to continue writing this, but that’s never stopped me before…

It started out like any other trip to Costco: driving around the parking lot for an eternity waiting for a spot reasonably close to the store to become available, having a mental breakdown, and ultimately settling for a spot several time zones away from the actual store. This exact scenario seems to play out every time.

Anyway, once inside the store, I always try to snake my way up and down each aisle. Costco is one of the few stores I’ll actually browse through. Usually I don’t have the stamina for this kind of endeavor, but Costco provides the occasional sample of toaster oven pizza to help keep my strength up. It was on one of these jaunts that I came across the Champion Duffle Bag. For the record, I own several duffle bags. And frankly, I didn’t need another one. However, as I inspected the quality of the display model, and noticed the price ($14.99), I had one of those “I can’t afford not to buy this duffle bag” moments. (On a side note, as a man, I have moments of spontaneous frivolity such as this about twice a year. My wife, on the other hand, has these moments about twice a day.)

In the interest of keeping this post under 10,000 words, I will mercifully provide the reasons why this duffle bag is so great in list format…

Top Ten Reasons Why the Champion Duffle Bag is So Great:

10. Adjustable, removable, padded shoulder strap. (Making it padded was a nice touch.)
9. Shoe bag. (Also useful for dirty clothes, wet swimsuits, etc.)
8. Cell phone holster. (Located on the outside of the bag, you never have to fish for your phone when it rings…)
7. Mesh coin and money pouch. (Mesh, in general, is underrated.)
6. Detachable hanging cosmetic bag.
5. Masculine color scheme. (Not to be overlooked.)
4. Clips for car keys. (Admittedly, I don’t use this feature, but nice to have nonetheless.)
3. Price (14.99, as mentioned above…)
2. Fleece sunglasses pouch. (It’s official: they’ve thought of everything.)

And the #1 reason: Size. I love this duffle bag because it is truly the perfect size. As far as I’m concerned, that is really the quintessential duffle bag litmus test. Is it big enough to comfortably carry enough gear for a three-day weekend, and yet still small enough to be considered “carry-on” size for air travel? Very few bags can meet both of these criteria. I acknowledge there are few things more imprecise than “carry-on” size, as generally most people use the definition that if their bag can somehow be shoehorned into an overhead compartment it must be carry-on size. Because of this, it also happens to be one of the most under-enforced airline infractions. Somehow airline personnel never miss an opportunity to peevishly tell a passenger that their tray or seat is not in the proper upright position, but yet they would allow that same passenger to pass off an Oldsmobile as a carry-on.

Sadly, these individuals that disregard the carry-on rules are never punished. They are free to block the aisle and use anything short of a forklift to wedge their ridiculous carry-on in place while an annoyed line of people forms behind them. Of course, the flight attendants are oblivious to all of this. I’ve even seen flight attendants assist these passengers by shuffling other bags around to clear room for their mockery of a carry-on. Just once, I’d like to see these individuals get their comeuppance in a form other than my angry glares and frustrated sighs.

That’s why I love the Champion Duffle Bag. It’s easily worth the $14.99 just to board a plane with a clear conscience that my bag meets a reasonable definition of an airline carry-on.

Zillionaire’s Official Product Endorsements

I’m happy to launch a new, and hopefully ongoing tribute to products and services that I happily endorse. There are not many things I’m willing to lend my good name towards, and the few that merit mentioning in this space are definitely items that no Zillionaire should be without. Regrettably, I am not actually paid to endorse any of these products, thus you can be sure that the testimonials on this site cannot be compromised or influenced in any way. That is, unless you want to pay us for an endorsement, in which case we’ll happily rename the site to “”

With that said, it should be no mystery which product will get the initial glowing recognition in this space. This whole concept was born with one specific product in mind. If you can’t guess where I’m going with this, then I suggest you turn in your Zillionaire decoder ring, scrub off your Zillionaire temporary tattoos, and forget the secret handshake because you’re off the team. Seriously, you’re done. Get out. And no, your membership dues will not be refunded.

For those that are still here, I present a product infinitely worthy of the praise of Zillionaires, a product that has enriched all of our lives… THE XBOX. Actually, the “Never-Ending Happiness Machine” would have been a better, more accurate marketing name. And frankly, I think we were a little premature in bestowing the title of “man’s best friend” on the family dog. Simply put, the XBox provides more bliss than a combination of Prozac and Viagra, and it doesn’t even require a prescription.

First, I present a brief history about how I acquired my XBox. It was the summer of 2002; Paris Hilton was not a celebrity, the word “Governator” hadn’t been coined, and everyone answered their phone with the phrase “Whaaasssssuppp!!!” In other words, all was right with the world. I had recently taken an extremely difficult actuarial exam, and I decided that if I received a passing score, I would reward myself by purchasing an XBox. I waited six weeks for the results to be posted, each day growing more and more excited to bring home my little bundle of joy. The day after my failing score was posted, I said, “Hell with it,” and bought an XBox anyway.

Needless to say, the relationship blossomed quickly, and soon we were completely inseparable… (Picture a hazy montage of images of the XBox and I riding a bicycle built-for-two, paddling a canoe, and running on the beach together…)

Now, when it comes to video game systems, the XBox stands head and shoulders above the competition. There is absolutely no debate on this issue, and yet so many PlayStation 2 owners like to delude themselves into thinking they own the superior machine. I’m convinced it’s a mild form of mental illness. XBox owners can provide a litany of valid reasons for choosing their system, like better graphics, games and sound. PlayStation 2 owners unfailingly counter with the argument, “Hey, at least I can use my controller to operate the built-in DVD player!” Yep, that’s their ironclad defense for owning a PlayStation 2. This is like saying your Ford Focus is better than a Ferrari because of its larger cup holder. Like an OJ Simpson juror, PlayStation 2 owners choose to believe their system is better, regardless of irrefutable facts and evidence to the contrary.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to expose the inferiority of the PlayStation 2, but rather to praise the XBox. Let’s just say that my XBox is more than a video gaming system, it is a member of the family (much to the chagrin of my wife.) In fact, I recently named my XBox the sole heir of my estate. Some day, I can envision lecturing my kids with lines like “You got a C-minus in History?! Why can’t you be more like the XBox? You don’t see him coming home with bad grades.” And so forth.

I can’t begin to quantify how many countless hours of fun the XBox has provided, and there is truly no other product worthy to be the inaugural entry on our new Product Endorsements section. I honestly can’t envision my life without my XBox, and I would hate to be in a position someday where a loved one and my XBox were both drowning in a river and I only had time to save one of them…

Coming soon, I’ll share some other products that have exceeded the high standards of this Zillionaire.

The Honeymooners

Well, I’ve been back from my wedding and honeymoon for a month now, and I must say, it’s not good to be back. After a week of non-stop, euphoric fun, I somehow managed to forget how lackluster regular life is in comparison. Sadly, the only rays I’m soaking up now are in the form of radiation from my computer monitor.

First, is there a better location to decompress than Mexico? It’s one of the few places on earth where you can walk around in a Hawaiian shirt completely unbuttoned and yet still feel overdressed. The reason? Loosely translated, the word “Mexico” is derived from “Mex,” meaning “blistering” and “ico,” meaning “inferno,” and that pretty much sums up the everyday experience. True to form, as the country’s tourism slogan promises, “If you love saunas, you’ll love Mexico!!”

For this reason, it bothered me that Jeannette brought a jean jacket on our honeymoon. Why do women do this? I still can’t understand this one. My god, if there were ever a place you wouldn’t need a jean jacket; it would be Cancun in July. Thankfully, it didn’t end there, because once I criticized this packing decision, Jeannette now had to actually wear it, just to prove to me that she was justified in bringing it. So, there we were on a late-night dinner cruise, she pulls out the jacket and remarks, “See, I knew it would cool down at night.” For starters, she was correct. At this point, it had cooled down to a mere 102 degrees. For the rest of the night, she put forth the illusion that the jean jacket was all that was keeping her from freezing to death.

Our second day there, we took a guided tour of Chichén Itzá, the ruins of an ancient Mayan city in the dense Yucatan jungle. As you may know, Mexico is far less protective of her national treasures than the United States. This is evidenced by the fact that they basically have turned these ancient ruins into an Indiana Jones Fantasy Camp. Tourists are free to climb directly on the ruins, and are generally encouraged to not bother with being respectful of their religious or cultural significance. I must say, this “laid back” approach to preserving sacred landmarks is truly refreshing.

Of course, this method has its drawbacks. While the Mexican authorities are pretty lax on the security of the ruins, they are even more indifferent when it comes to the safety of the tourists climbing on these ruins (not as refreshing.) For instance, while nobody will stop you from scaling the giant pyramid, they also won’t lift a finger to build a rail to prevent you from falling off the edge once you get to the top.

Anyway, as I alluded to earlier, the main attraction at Chichén Itzá is the pyramid. Rising from the center of the ruins, it is a giant structure with steps, ramps and tunnels ascending almost 10 stories. Surprisingly, Mexico has resisted the urge to convert it into a giant skateboarding park. After scaling the pyramid, and suffering multiple heat strokes in the process, we desperately needed a way to cool off. Unfortunately, the Mayans had lacked the foresight to build waterslides or Splash Mountain into their city. Completing our descent, we found a shady trail that we hoped would lead to a nice place to lie down and die.

Instead, we found a beacon of thirst-quenching salvation in the form of a refreshment stand. Money was no object, as I was fully prepared to rollover my 401k into Popsicles at this point. I walked up to the refreshment stand and was amazed at what I saw. Popsicles for a buck. Gatorade for a dollar fifty. How could this be? We’re in the middle of nowhere… You can’t even get a Popsicle at 7-11 for a buck, much less in the Yucatan Jungle. I was anticipating movie theater prices for some ice-cold beverages, yet I found an oasis of refreshment bargains. Honestly, that was far more impressive than the actual ruins.

On our various Mexican excursions, the tour guides would attempt to familiarize us with the indigenous wildlife. Multiple times, we were warned about the dangerous “Jawas” living in the nearby jungle. While I’m no zoologist, I do happen to possess a glaringly nerdy expertise of the various alien races from the Star Wars movies. Of course, even the most benign Star Wars geek knows that “Jawas” are the race of sand-people scavengers found on the planet Tatooine. But since the tour guides never made mention of Tusken Raiders, Womp Rats or Banthas I had my suspicions that perhaps there might be some kind of misunderstanding taking place here. It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth day that we finally encountered a tour guide that could enunciate the word “jaguars” properly enough for me to realize I no longer needed to fear having my droids and power converters stolen in the night.

Spending time in Mexico gave me countless opportunities to show off my command of the Spanish language to my new bride. Of course, Jeannette had no idea that most of my time in Spanish class was spent watching Solo draw obscene pictures on Mrs. Bugni’s dry erase boards. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from going out of my way to choose selective, often unnecessary times to integrate the handful of Spanish words I knew into everyday conversation.

Me: “So, I can put my zapatoes and camisetta in the locker while I snorkel?”
Tour guide: “Yes, shoes, shirts… personal belongings… whatever.”
Me: “Ok, and the boat leaves a las tres y media?”
Tour guide (rolls eyes): “Yes sir, the boat leaves at 3:30.”
Me: “Excellent. Muy buen. Gracias.”
Tour guide: “De nada.”
Me: “Huh?”

Of course, it wasn’t just speaking the language, I also had to interpret it. Thankfully, Jeannette didn’t know the difference between what was actually said, and whatever nonsensical translation I arrived at. Sometimes we’d catch sitcoms or the local news in Spanish. Truthfully, I’d understand about two words in the entire telecast, yet I’d immediately turn to Jeannette to fabricate a perfect translation. (“That’s ‘El Nino.’ Spanish for, ‘The Nino.”)

Some artists work with clay, some use canvas. I prefer to use my epidermis. For those familiar with my work, you know that I have elevated the act of getting violently sunburned to an art form. For instance, here’s a recent example…

About a year ago, July 2oo3, I had burned my forehead so badly that my skin actually took a liquid form. My skin literally oozed off my forehead as a greasy yellow pus. Naturally, all of this occurred when I was meeting some of Jeannette’s extended family for the first time. The following conversation actually took place…

Jeannette’s Aunt Tammy: “Is that egg yolk on your forehead?”
Me: “No, actually it’s dried pus. Much more disgusting.”

So, it should come as no surprise that I managed to produce yet another masterpiece while on our honeymoon. Being married, you’d think that I’d have help applying suntan lotion, but Jeannette failed to realize that I have the sun-sensitivity of an albino. She came prepared with only SPF 15, which might have been sufficient if we were honeymooning on the dark side of the moon. Anyway, the results speak for themselves…

I keep the Aloe Vera people in business.

True artists generally don’t reveal their secrets, but in this case I’ll make an exception. This particular work of art was created using a lifejacket during an all day snorkeling trip. Normally to get these rich maroon hues of burnt flesh, it would take several hours in the sun. But thankfully, since Mexico is essentially one gigantic tanning booth, results like this can be had in a mere 45 minutes. Speaking as a sunburn-artist, there is no better place to honeymoon…