The Innocence of Youth

When I was a young buck taking a dump was like pulling in to the pits at the Indy 500, the whole process took seconds. I would race in to the bathroom, take care of business, my hands like a pit crew, expertly hovering, wiping down surfaces, examining my nuts and bolts, and zoom, I was off again!

These days, my overwhelming thought when the time comes to lay some cable is “What did I get myself into?” The process is excruciatingly slow and it always feels like I’m in the middle of the Fellowship of the Ring in a Lord of the Rings movie marathon (with the extended footage). It doesn’t help that now I’ve got such a tangled web of crack hair that it’s basically like trying to poop through a cheese-grater.

FW: Zillionaire’s Tips for Office Email!!!

Email is quickly becoming today’s primary means of communication, replacing the telegram, the gramophone, the harpsichord, and the passenger pigeon combined. Urgent messages that used to take days, now come instantly (unless you are on hotmail).

As zillionaires entrenched in the electronic revolution, we’ve had access to email for quite a few weeks now and have learned a few things. Our advice will be useful to those of you who reside in the famed “cubicle farms” that are growing such beautiful cubicles these days. These tips will give you that leg up in the world where being just one leg higher means all the difference.

Tips for Office Emailing:

  • Always get the last email. Email is a lot like a gun-fight in the old west where the last one standing gets to ride the train with Doc back to the future.
  • Don’t let anyone waste your time with one-word emails. If your coworker sends you one of those worthless messages that says “Thanks” reply with an over-the-top introspective “Well it is certainly is nice to be appreciated. Thanks for the pat on the back. I’ve been wondering if all this work is really worth it, ya know? We’re all just gonna die in the end and some days it feels like what I do doesn’t matter to anyone. But I guess it does. You want to hang out, or get together this weekend? I’m free pretty much anytime.” That should hush them up real fast.
  • Mark every message you send with the urgent flag, no matter the content. A bold, animated, red flag next to your email subject line lets your coworkers know how critical your “FW: Find your true soulmate quiz” really is.
  • Botch every attachment you mean to send. Start your email with “Attached you will find…” and include no attachment. Don’t worry, they won’t even look for it until they see the next email thats subject line is “Oops… here it is.” Sure, you may be more email savvy than others, but you don’t want to stick out. Those who stick their necks out usually have them lopped off by an errant Koosh ball being whizzed across the “cube farm.” Sometimes, its best to refer to a phantom attachment that never appears. The resulting office confusion reduces the amount of work people expect from you.
  • When a coworker gets frustrated over an unfulfilled request for a specific file, offer the standard postal excuses for your lack of emailing. For example, admit that you forgot to affix the proper postage, or that inclement weather is slowing down the mail service. Or simply say you sent it two days ago, and advise them to be available to sign for it on arrival.
  • Meticulously log, backup, and categorize every email sent through your address. You never know when you’ll be asked to graph the price trends of black-market Viagra.
  • Create a three strikes and you’re out junk mail blocking rule. A strike against someone could be as simple as a typo in the message, an overly lengthy signature with too many types of communication listed, or a crazy colorful font that trumps your cool and collected black Arial 10 point font. It is imperative that you keep your inbox streamlined after all.
  • If the email server is down, resort to the most primitive methods of communication: cave drawings. Granted, this can be a difficult way to convey certain abstract and highly technical ideas. However, it will be an easy way to depict the outcome of a big buffalo hunt.
  • If someone complains that they want clarification over an email you just sent, refer their question to your organization’s customer support line.
  • Use subject lines that have nothing to do with the subject you’re emailing about. Write something like “FW: This is really funny!!!” when discussing the annual financial statements.

By following these guidelines, we think you’ll be rewarded with a cleaner inbox, less work to do, and few friends around the office. And after all, isn’t that the key to success?

You Call that a Controller!?!

Alright, I think it’s about time we end the debate right now. First of all, I am a man. (This is not what the debate is about)… Anyway, as a man, I demand a man-sized controller when I fire up the Xbox. For that reason, I exclusively use the original controllers designed for the Xbox. However there is a disturbing trend afoot. With the recent development of the new, smaller, style “S” controller, there has become a proliferation of their use across America, and a gathering public opinion that these new controllers are actually superior to the original design… As a public service, I am here to set the record straight.

For those of you unfamiliar with the ongoing debate, I present a brief history lesson: Microsoft was suffering lackluster Xbox sales in Japan, because the tiny hands of the Japanese public couldn’t grasp the gigantic controllers used for the gaming console (this is true). The Japanese were using them like the old Nintendo Power Pad, with several individuals literally running and jumping on the colossal controllers to operate them. Needless to say, it was hurting business. So Microsoft caved. They brought in a focus group consisting of a bunch of three-year-old girls and molded a controller to fit their hands.

The result: a controller tiny enough to be used as a Monopoly game piece, complete with the ergonomic comfort of getting a hand caught in a weasel trap. The buttons are tiny and spaced so closely together that the user couldn’t help inadvertently pushing all the buttons in unison. It is the video gaming equivalent of trying to do your taxes on a Casio calculator watch (Nerdy Metaphor #1).

The marketing team at Microsoft began toying with names for their new controller… They wanted a name that captured both the design qualities of the controller, and described the traits of their target market. At first they wanted to call it the “Ally McBeal” Controller, as she was a person most of their target demographic could strongly identify with. Sadly, Calista Flockhart refused to endorse the product. Going back to the drawing board, it was decided that it should be called: “The Effeminate Controller.” Unfortunately, this name had to be changed when it was discovered that “Effeminate” was already trademarked for every Nintendo Gamecube accessory. Eventually they settled on the “Small” controller, (later abbreviated to the “S” controller), and let the public draw their own conclusions about the makeup of the users… (“Innuendo, take a lap!” – Clay Evans, Former PE teacher).

Now, the first and only time I used a style “S” controller it simply crumbled in my massive American hands like a fortune cookie. I was left holding a few shards of plastic, some assorted wires, and a tiny motor. By all accounts, this new controller had the durability of a Faberge egg and the power of an electric toothbrush (Nerdy Metaphor #2).

In contrast, the original Xbox controller is made of whatever material is used to make the black boxes found in airplanes, and it is powered by a 10-cylinder diesel engine.

Future Dodge commercial: (A car pulls up alongside a giant Dodge truck…)
Car Passenger: “Does that thing have a Hemi?”
Truck owner (sitting in a Dodge Ram): “Sure does,” he begins, lifting his original Xbox controller to their view, “and the truck has one too!”
Car Passenger (awestruck): “Whoa!!!”

Granted, the original controller handles like a jackhammer and weighs about the same. And I occasionally pass out from the billowing clouds of diesel fumes it emits. However, when I regain consciousness, I realize the mounting physical therapy bills are a small price to pay to avoid the ignominy of using the less-masculine version of the Xbox controller.

In conclusion, if you happen to be a three-year-old girl, I have no problem with your use of a style “S” controller. However, for everyone else, I must caution that using the style “S” controller is like riding a girl’s bike, showering with your underwear on in gym class, or going to an N’Sync concert. It’s just one of those things you can never really live down.

A Different Breed of High Roller

Despite what the phrase “Internet Zillionaire” might suggest, we are not the typical Vegas high rollers. While the thrill of moderately high-stakes gambling is exhilarating in its own regard, the Internet Zillionaire finds as much intoxication in the subtle interaction with fellow players, the wry banter with the dealer, the verbal sparring with the pit bosses, and of course, the massive consumption of free cocktails.

As with anything, location plays a crucial role. And when it comes to gambling, we don’t compromise our standards. While the other Las Vegas “whales” will frequent the ritzy and classy establishments, (the kind with marble toilets and velvet toilet paper,) we tend to stake out accommodations with less opulence.

Our criteria are simple. First, the hotel must have a roller coaster. This is non-negotiable. Second, we insist that the hotel staff completely ignore our social status and forgo any special treatment, as we just want to be regarded as ordinary people. (This request is always granted.) Third, the pit bosses must be so desperate for paying players that they will ignore standard gambling etiquette and decorum at the table, and in some cases, ignore the rules entirely. In other words, only the casinos that allow “do-overs” and “take backs” and permit us to call timeouts or technical fouls and request instant replay will earn our business. Finally, and most importantly, all of this must be had (via priceline) for under $39 a night.

Once in the casino, the most critical decision for an Internet Zillionaire occurs before a single chip is laid down. One must scout for a table that is fit for a zillionaire. First, it must be a table with ridiculously low minimum bets, absolutely nothing over $5 a hand. This is to insure longevity more than anything else. You see, part of our gambling strategy is not just to maximize our winnings, but also our consumption of free cocktails.

While the Internet Zillionaire prefers card games to all else, sometimes he can be found at a slot machine. This usually occurs when a zillionaire, strolling through a casino, spots a cocktail waitress taking orders, and immediately jets to the nearest gambling apparatus to put forth the illusion that he’s been gaming at this spot for hours. With an incredulous look, the waitress approaches and begins this exchange:

Cocktail Waitress: “Anything for you?”
Internet Zillionaire (pointing to whoever ordered the most exotic-sounding drink at a nearby slot machine): “Absolutely… I’ll take three of whatever he’s having… on the rocks.”

Scoring multiple free drinks for a 30 second stint at a nickel slot is basically the greatest feat an Internet Zillionaire can write home about, and certainly one for the books. Of course, the Internet Zillionaire always tips generously, and addresses the waitresses by name.

Internet Zillionaire: “Thanks Mandy, I can’t tell you how nice it is to gamble in a place that knows how to take care of their highrollers… That’s why I keep coming back here.”

Naturally, the Internet Zillionaire generates a lot of eye rolls wherever he goes.

After meandering through the casino long enough, the Internet Zillionaire will eventually find a worthy table to set up shop. Of course, an Internet Zillionaire cannot just unobtrusively sit down at the table. Unfortunately, a spectacle must be made. You must make every effort to show anyone within earshot that the actual gambling is secondary to the showmanship of acting like a highroller. It’s good to have an opening line, and get the dialogue going early with the dealer:

Internet Zillionaire: “How’s the drink service at this table?”
Dealer: “Good…”
Internet Zillionaire (deadpanning): “Well, that’s excellent, because I tend to work up quite a thirst raking in all the chips.”

Basking in that moment of levity, the Internet Zillionaire finds a seat and turns to one of his fellow players at the table.

Internet Zillionaire: “Well, I see you’ve won quite a nice pile of chips for yourself… You must have bought my instructional gambling video. I’m glad to see it’s paying off for you.”

To the annoyance of everyone else at the table, the Internet Zillionaire straddles a seat and stakes out plenty of elbowroom. He then begins a protracted series of twists and turns at the waist, arches his back, bobs his head and begins to loosen up for the task at hand. Similar to the warm-up routine of a prizefighter, the Internet Zillionaire is equally meticulous in his preparation.

The first order of business is cashing in. It is important to whip out a sizeable amount of cash to instill a sense of awe amongst the other players and let them know they are squaring off with a true high roller. Twenty dollars (in ones) should accomplish this. Of course, the dealer needs to be made aware that “there’s more where that came from,” lest he doubt your high roller status.

Never one to sit idly by and allow someone to just do their job, the Internet Zillionaire reminds the dealer that he’ll need a receipt from this transaction. With chips in hand, the Internet Zillionaire begins the all-important task of psyching out the others at the table. Instead of neatly stacking his chips, the Internet Zillionaire will use them like Lego’s, and construct a replica of Stonehenge at the table.

With the game about to begin, the Internet Zillionaire gives little concern to strategy. He always adheres to his foremost gambling philosophy: “Bet the minimum, Drink the maximum.”

As the game progresses, one cannot forget to have fun. There are a number of techniques available to prevent boredom at the table. Stop the dealer as he shuffles the cards and announce, “I’d like to buy a vowel,” or insist on using one of your three lifelines at tense moments in the game. If he does lose a hand, sometimes the Internet Zillionaire will remove his pants and fling them onto the table, forcing the dealer to clarify that the game is not strip poker.

When the cocktail waitress finally comes by, the Internet Zillionaire always seizes the opportunity to take care of his fellow gamblers:

Waitress: “Free cocktails, anyone?”
Internet Zillionaire: “Ah Mandy, perfect timing. I’ll have two whiskey sours… and a round of Zimas for everyone else at the table… extra ice in those. And send a bottle of Dom ’78 to those ladies at the blackjack table,” he says with a wink, “Oh, and how ’bout a Sierra Mist for the dealer, he could use it… thanks, sweetheart.”

Now, since the drinks are free, we make it a habit to order a round or two for everyone in the establishment whenever we play. Of course our “generosity” generates a lot of goodwill and usually a round of applause. Being modest, we barely acknowledge their fanfare, opting for an understated series of deep bows at the waist while standing on the Pai Gow table.

When the drink order arrives, the Internet Zillionaire always shows his gratitude.

Internet Zillionaire (raising his drink): “Thanks Mandy, you know, this is just how I like my drink: In a glass, and within reach.”

At various times throughout the game, the pit boss will wander by, peer over at the table and pass an approving gaze over the action below. The Internet Zillionaire always seizes this opportunity to inform the pit boss that “the dealer is doing a great job,” and adding how “he hasn’t knocked over my drink a single time!” The pit boss will nod, maybe utter a “thank you,” and leave you with an insincere “good luck.”

Now, for those that have never ventured into a casino, the phrase “good luck” is simply the most dismissive expression in Vegas. It really means “good bye.” It’s a nice way of saying, “Alright jackass, don’t talk to me anymore.” Believe me, I’ve heard it a million times. So, when you hear the words “good luck,” you know the conversation is over… unless of course, the Internet Zillionaire is on the receiving end of this verbal jab. At this point, the Internet Zillionaire has no other option than to escalate the dialogue. Playing clueless to the slight, the Internet Zillionaire shouts back to the pit boss in a happy, touristy voice, “Thanks, I’ll do my best! I am feeling lucky today!!!”

Anyway, after doling out praise for the dealer in front of the pit boss, the Internet Zillionaire then decides it’s time to call in a few favors.

Internet Zillionaire: “Hit me!”
Dealer: “This isn’t Blackjack sir, you don’t get any more cards.”
Internet Zillionaire (resignedly): “Then I’ll stay.”

Throughout the game the Internet Zillionaire will place a three-dollar bet and nonchalantly remark how he loves all the security in this particular hotel, as it makes his millions feel safer. Unfortunately, the Internet Zillionaire is just getting warmed up. Depending on how inebriated the Internet Zillionaire becomes, he may boast how his fortune exceeds that of Bill Gates and Scrooge McDuck.

At the outcome of every hand, the Internet Zillionaire maintains temperance and restraint, except for when either he wins or loses. In a loss, the Internet Zillionaire will demand a recount, inspect the dealer’s sleeves and pant legs, and ominously warn the dealer that he’ll receive his comeuppance soon. In a win, the first order of business is to taunt the dealer by tossing your cards in the air like a graduation cap, execute a “Chinese fire drill” around the table with your fellow players, and finally stand on the table and muster an impromptu, teary-eyed winning-hand acceptance speech.

While gambling is one of our favorite pastimes, it is merely one of the myriad interests skillfully pursued by the Internet Zillionaire. After spending all afternoon playing $3 Pai Gow in an off-the-strip Vegas hotel, it becomes time for the zillionaire to make his grand exit and attend to his plans for the evening. He tosses a chip or two at the dealer for his trouble and advises him to invest it in the bond market. He makes sure to get a to-go drink order, as the Internet Zillionaire doesn’t want to risk becoming parched during the long walk from the table to his hotel room.

Internet Zillionaire: “Thanks Mandy, you’re the best damn waitress in Vegas. You know, I’m opening a casino on the strip next summer… I want you to come work for me. I’ll double whatever they’re paying you! Think about it…”

He bids his fellow players a heartfelt good luck, reminds them to tip the cocktail waitresses and advises them to “keep it real.” And on that note, he gathers his chips and heads to the cashier, eager to use his winnings to finance a night of adventure and intrigue…

How to Greet a Zillionaire

Are your co-workers tired of you coming in to work bruised and bashed, reeking of human soap, dripping a trail of blood like a some sort of emergency room Hansel and Gretel? Maybe it’s time to quit that fight club you started awhile back and join a real club. The Zillionaire’s club. Because as everyone knows a club based on a movie is so Matrix, but a club based on a blog is so Lord of the Rings. And besides that, it’s easy.

The first step to joining the Zillionaire’s club is learning the greeting. Let me explain…

One day when I was out grocery shopping, I watched an encounter between two men who were obvious acquaintances, but who hadn’t been in one another’s company for some time. Gloriously, the first man shouted to the other from across three checkout lanes, “How goes the battle?” The other man replied with an average, “Fine… And yourself?” This, to me, seemed like a completely wasted opportunity on the second man’s behalf. How often does one get to relate the quills and arrows of life’s epic struggle to a fellow soldier? How often do the troops of the everyday war gather round the campfire of commonhood to share the pains of our earthly existence? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? Not often enough I say.

And so on that fateful day, “How goes the battle?” became the official greeting of all Zillionaires. Its versatility is amazing, just think of all the possibilities…

At the grocery store:
Zillionaire 1: “How goes the battle?”
Zillionaire 2: “The troops are hungry and restless. They’ve sent me here to gather supplies for the coming apocalypse.”

At the bank or credit union:
Zillionaire 1: “How goes the battle?”
Zillionaire 2: “The enemy has raided our forts and stole all the bullion. The Major has sent me here to see if we have enough left to get the grunts some new socks.”

At the movies:
Zillionaire 1: “How goes the battle?”
Zillionaire 2: “We’ll, the Colonel’s off in Mogadishu and he’s asked me to make sure this thing doesn’t turn into the next Vietnam. He’s hidden a secret code in this movie here, which gives me the coordinates of my next special ops mission.”

At a party:
Zillionaire 1: “How goes the battle?”
Zillionaire 2: “Our numbers are dwindling fast. I’m here to enlist as many recruits as possible. It’s gonna be a long cold winter in Delaware, people.”

Now that is a greeting fit for a zillionaire!