I Just Wanted the Rate For a Single Room....

Hello, and thank you for sending an email to the Overlook Hotel! If you are trying to reach our head chef, Dick Hallorann, we are sorry to say he recently passed away. If you are trying to reach our winter caretaker, Jack Torrance, he no longer works for us. Our general manager, Stuart Ullman, will be happy to take care of other questions and requests.

The Overlook is currently looking to fill two positions with qualified candidates! We seek a head chef and a winter caretaker. See our new web site for further details.

Thanks again!
The Staff


The Stand

No, Mr. Eckles, I tell you one last time no. No. I will not start the projector for the 1:30 showing of the Sandra Bullock film that we are discussing. I know that you are my immediate supervisor, but as I stand here, I must inform you that every cell inside my body is prepared to rise up and rebel against you concerning this matter. I have never felt as powerfully toward any cause in my long, tumultuous life. To start the projector for the 1:30 showing---“just in case” someone shows up, as you claim is a remote possibility---would be an act of illogic that is unacceptable to my entire values system. If it helps you, we can approach this as a simple mathematical problem: the number of people who are going to enter this theater at 1:30 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon in the third week of an unsuccessful run for this poorly reviewed Sandra Bullock thriller, is, brutally put, zero. This is not a theory, a prognostication, but rather a cold fact that needs no scientific testing, just as it is a fact that we will all die someday, or that your beloved Oakland Raiders truly do suck in every conceivable way. Based on the laws of the marketplace, and the very laws of man’s nature, there can be no scenario, even given the sometimes startling randomness of the universe, which might end with a single ass sitting in screen eight today. For me to spend even thirty seconds starting the projector, then, would be not only absurd, but, if you can somehow understand this, a violation of both my precious time and my very purpose on earth---which has always been to labor silently to bring sense to the chaos around me. I will not become enmeshed in, or victimized by, that chaos because of you, Mr. Eckles. And if some pathetic wipeout of a human being were, perchance, to come stumbling over from Famous Dave’s on the spur of the moment and bewilderingly lay down seven dollars to view this misbegotten, stillborn opus, would we not be accomplices in a nameless crime against that poor soul? Is it not up to us, as first week summer employee and ten-year theater manager, respectively, to step in and protect our patrons from such atrocious decision-making? I can see in your eyes what you’re thinking----that it is not up to us to thwart the free will of those who wish to grace us with their dollars and their good will. I simply disagree. But to return to my original point, there can be no way that I can physically be made to start that projector for the 1:30 showing. I would rather, to save my core beliefs, hurl myself into the machine itself and let it tear my spine asunder, putting an end to this madness of blind faith once and for all. My friend Stu will be here for the 4:15 because I told him he could see the movie for free if he bought something from the concession stand, and then, and only then, will the film proceed through the gears. Until that moment arrives, good sir, consider me a martyr more than willing to die for this cause. Let history show that I, in this one moment, stood tall and said: I believe. Now if you’ll excuse me, my fifteen minute break, that most delicate of vases, is being threatened by this odious, heartrendingly tragic miscommunication. Can you lend me fifty cents for soda?


Devil With the Blue Dish

This post is just to let everyone know that Chiclets, my cat of eighteen years, is never to be contacted or even thought about by anyone ever again. EVER. That cat is so dead to me it's not even funny, and if you want to remain friends with me, he's dead to you too. I don't want to hear his name, I don't want to accidentally see any of the dozens of photos of him I've e-mailed to your workplaces, NOTHING. Eighteen years of love, nurturing, affection, and a roof over his bastardy little head, and then WHAM, he has pretty much officially moved onto the back porch next door, ALL BECAUSE MY EBAY-SELLING BUM OF A NEIGHBOR PUT OUT ONE LOUSY DISH OF FELINITY PREMIUM SELECT CAT FOOD ON THE PORCH FOR HIS OWN LITTLE SLIMY FURBALL TO EAT AND CHICLETS HAPPENED TO TASTE IT. That's it. That is ALL it took for my best friend, my companion in life, my only child, to abandon my ass for a so-called better life. Now he sits on that damn porch day after day nibbling at Tinkybelle's meals, which cost all of TEN PERCENT more and taste maybe FIVE percent better than the ones I've been providing for almost two freaking decades. The smelly cheater won't even respond to my name anymore, he just looks off at some tree or something when I yell at him to come home. So let this be a lesson to cat people everywhere: the rumors are true. Cats are the most relentlessly back-stabbing creatures on earth and NO cat owner is safe from their treachery. EIGHTEEN YEARS, and then some company decides to throw a bit of pineapple into their special formula for mature cats and THWAP, my pet is gone, remorseless, unashamed, his back turned to me, dozing on that crappy porch made so shoddily by the drunk Greek contractor down the road. Fine, Chiclets. I hope you FALL INTO THE GIGANTIC TERMITE HOLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT PORCH AND DIE. How's that for a farewell? Let's see your precious cans of Felinity Premium Select somehow sprout arms and throw a rope down to you so you can crawl out before you FREEZE TO DEATH IN THAT HOLE, FURBALL.

Oh, and Madolyn just left me on Tuesday, the day after our twentieth anniversary. Said she wanted to be with some dentist in Baltimore. It's all good, I'm more into blondes anyway.


How Many Roads Must a Man Travel?

I am very excited, for today the Matter Sweeper is due to arrive at my door from the University of Palo Alto. Finally, I will have the satisfaction I have craved for so long. Looking back, it seems absurd that when I had a little trouble squeezing the last of the toothpaste out of this tube of Aim, I was ready to just throw it away and buy another one. Folly! Little did I know what I would have missed. First, on July 2, I placed a stack of seven bricks upon the tube, which very satisfyingly forced out a blob of Aim the size of a single grain of corn. Repeating this process daily produced smaller and smaller blobs, but still there were results that could be fully documented. On July 11, convinced that finally nothing but minty air was being pressed out of the tube, I cut it in half and pushed my index finger in manually to scrape out what was left. Success! I actually managed to accumulate enough toothpaste to fully coat my two front teeth. But what I was truly after was hidden within the mouth of the tube, that shadowy no-man’s-land which I suspected held within it unimaginable treasures. After taking leave from Cards ‘N’ Party Outlet and spending the 12th and 13th whittling a pencil-shaped rod which, when pushed through the mouth, would in theory gather up a tangible amount of remaining paste, I took a deep breath and tested my hypothesis. I can’t describe the disappointment I felt when I came up with nothing. Depressed for days because I thought there simply must be more product within that secretive tube, I wandered the streets alone, my mind reeling. Then, by chance, I happened upon a deranged and filthy homeless man who described to me the VX-079 Matter Sweeper and its rich possibilities for excavating the depths of my tube of Aim using a sophisticated process of thermal particle breakdown in which the toothpaste’s invisible subatomic bits would be magnetically drawn into a metal chamber, converted into light, and then re-constituted directly into a test tube. Now all that is left is the challenge of finding a sub-zero degree environment in which to begin the process. All my savings having been spent on renting the Matter Sweeper for three days, this could be tricky. I should go ask my buddy Sal what to do. He knows a lot of stuff.

I should clarify that the Aim I’m talking about is the special cinnamon flavor, not just the normal kind.


The 2007 Wobbling Doughnut Awards

It’s mid-July and the annual All-Star game is over, so what better time to present the 2007 Major League Baseball Wobbling Doughnut Awards! Yes, this year has produced a fine crop of overweight players who for one shining moment blissfully forgot they were painfully slow, and, in trying to stretch a single into a double, were thrown out by a country mile in front of thirty thousand stadium spectators and millions at home who could only watch with one eye open, red-faced with embarrassment! Yes, for as long as baseball has been played, there’s been something truly special about the blend of pathos and comedy that ensues in those five seconds when a fat dude, emboldened by a hard line drive into the gap, utterly loses track of his own God-given limitations, only to be reminded of his irrevocable nature when he’s tagged out ten feet shy of the base he so yearns for, lucky to even glimpse it through a pair of high-powered binoculars. The lucky winners are:

Jim Thome, Chicago White Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays, May 5
Baseball Digest says: “Watching Thome stumble, sway, and jelly roll his way toward second base in a woeful attempt to beat Vernon Wells’s throw from center field was like observing a wheelbarrow full of warm vanilla pudding inching toward the ocean under its own power in a laborious attempt at suicide with dignity. The charade ended quickly, thank God, yet it seemed to go on forever and ever. We can still hear Thome’s self-esteem crying in the night, left for dead on the base path where he so cruelly abandoned it in pursuit of a nonsensical dream that simply dried up like a girthy raisin in the sun.”

Dmitri Young, Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, June 18
Sports Illustrated says: “The look on Young’s face as he rounded first in the pathetic belief that his bouncing blubbery butt could possibly reach second, and then as he came to the realization that the laws of physics and reason had made a fool of his Chunky Bar self once again, calls to mind the agonized visages of Oedipus, Thomas More, and Richard the Third in their crowning moments of pain, but at least those doomed icons will never have to know the devastation of getting slapped right in the face by Freddy Sanchez’s mitt, completely obscuring Young’s view of the faraway base that his jiggly, incompetent body so briefly, and so sadly, believed might become his own.”

Bengie Molina, San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres, April 27
The Yale Quarterly Review of Current Affairs says: “This historic train wreck was especially gratifying, as it involved the harmonious merging of waning skills between a stupefyingly slow runner and a legendarily lumpy pitcher (David Wells). After watching this play, which actually involved Wells booting a grounder with his enormous right foot and trying to chase it down while Molina developed crazy ideas about taking second on the error, we now know what it’s like to watch an oil slick and ten tons of maple syrup go head to head in a footrace through the tall, impenetrable grasses of the African savannah. In the dark, if we close our eyes, we imagine we can still hear the sloshing sounds of those two rotund gas balloons that call themselves athletes blobbing around the diamond like lima beans pushed around a skillet filled with plum sauce, and the ticking of an unseen clock marking off the moments before the ball and Molina’s pride finally converged, mercifully ending a grisly spectacle which left both men exhausted, embarrassed, and, if possible, five pounds heavier. Around the globe, mathematicians are still calculating how Molina somehow wound up lying face down in the dirt farther away from second base than when he began his fat journey from home plate. We salute you, sir---Don Quixote himself, had he also been a tremendously bloated and aging catcher, could not have developed grander, or more insane, ambitions of notching a two-bagger.”


Notes From the Ungrateful

Well, I had thought my life was pointless, a never-ending struggle just to get through the next nightmarish day, but WOW, that has ALL changed starting today. I see on Google that I have been listed as the FASTEST bird on earth! Me, the ostrich! There’s simply no faster bird anywhere! My speed is TOP-RATED!

So I guess I can stop being bitter now, because I have this incredible ability that I understand COMPLETELY makes up for my extreme ugliness, my gangly, goofy body, and my utter inability to be accepted by humankind as anything more than a joke. In fact, with this new revelation that there’s nothing faster than an ostrich, I should probably just leave my front door open from now on, since supermodel after supermodel will undoubtedly want to stop by and have sex with me. And where will I find time for all the thousands of close friends I’ll surely be getting because of this wonderful new factoid? I’m sure they’re going to overlook this freaky-ass face and this geeky neck and this big football of a body and the spindly legs and the lack of even any kind of chirping ability, and throw themselves all over me in an attempt to become my closest buddy.

Hey, who needs all that anyway when you can run from place to place really fast? Isn’t that what life is all about? Why, I can get across this empty field in front of me in less than ten seconds! Looks like I can be desperately lonely ANYWHERE at a MOMENT’S NOTICE! FANTASTIC! Someone get me Jessica Simpson’s phone number; obviously she’ll be wanting to get together as soon as possible! We can spend our nights talking about my awesome foot speed! As long as she’s blindfolded so she can’t see how hideous I am, and somehow is able to understand the nonsensical gruntings that I’ve been stuck with as a so-called “language,” and doesn’t mind being seen with a worldwide sight gag, we’ll be happy together forever! In fact, maybe that sick frog in that pond over there and I can double-date, since Google has also told me that NOTHING in creation can enlarge its throat sac like a frog! Hoooooo boy, the two of us are gonna party with the ladies tonight!

Eh, I’m gonna go play with my Netflix queue. I’ll be around.


Drugs? Anyone? Anyone for some drugs?

Because sometimes you and your partner just know when the time is right----and when it isn’t----now there’s Zorbgart.

We’ve all been in that certain situation before with a loved one, and while some medications require you to remember to take a pill a half hour before things “get underway,” only Zorbgart gives you a full twenty-four hours to finish what you have to do! You have so many problems as a couple, why not let us take care of this one for you?

Yes, only Zorbgart has been clinically proven to stop your partner from beginning a long anecdote when there’s clearly not enough time to finish it before your have to get out of the car, place your restaurant order, or greet friends who are approaching from less than fifty feet. Statistics show that thirty percent of all marriages suffer from one spouse’s ridiculous inability to judge when it’s simply too late to start telling a story because you’re only a block away from the house, for God’s sake, or the commercials are clearly almost over and CSI: Miami is obviously coming back on any second. But there your wife or husband goes again, embarking on a story he or she can’t possibly complete before your attention is simply needed elsewhere. But Stunted Chronological Understanding (SCU) is a treatable phenomenon and it doesn’t have to lead to embarrassment anymore. Zorbgart deadens the very information centers in the human brain which develop the urge to squeeze one more anecdote into a conversation that any moron can see needs to end right now----they just issued the last call for the flight to Dallas, for Christ’s sake, and now the ball and chain wants to launch into an analysis of why Merle and Janice don’t sleep together anymore? One blue pill and she’ll realize she has to hold her tongue till later----up to a full day later!

Talk to your doctor right away if your partner ever begins another story with “Oh, guess what happened to Jan at the office last week” when you’re just pulling into the Kiss and Ride to drop her off for work, or if you’re obviously headed into the bathroom and he wants to suddenly bring up the long series of problems he’s had with that Asian waiter at Tony Roma’s. Zorbgart is effective, safe, and long-lasting. And it costs, literally, eighty bucks a pill, so you know the TV marketing campaign is going to rock. Celebrity voice-over? Yeah, we got that covered. Can you say Julianne Moore? Yep, she’s on board. We got her to tell those Vipporix punks to take a hike in mid-contract---how about them apples? She’s such a nice woman too, no attitude whatsoever, came in right on time, did her lines like a pro, and even chatted with us about the L.A. traffic for a bit. Could not have been sweeter.

Hey, did you read that article about how Zorbgart is considered the sixth deadliest substance known to science if it gets just a little too warm? How cool is that?


Lessons Learned. Life Lived.

It’s time to dig once again into the Public Bathroom Risk-Taker Mailbag! Let’s see what you’ve all got for me:

Q: Dear Public Bathroom Risk-Taker,
Exactly how silently judgmental would you estimate the staff at the 19th Street Taco Bell to be when it comes to people coming in off the street just to use their bathroom? -Sandy from Northwest

A: An excellent query, Sandy. I’ve had my share of close calls at the 19th Street location and I’m here to tell you that their eyes might as well hold flaming arrows of shame and damnation. I’ve found that the best technique to use there is to literally get in line, consider the menu board for at least sixty seconds with a squint of the eyes and a stroke of the chin, and then feign painful stomach distress. Only then might you manage to enter and exit the bathroom without being pummeled with invisible, wordless contempt. The fact that the staff doesn’t seem to care at all that you just used the bathroom without buying something is exactly the kind of mind game they love to play---and I do not recommend that game for the weak of heart.

Q: Dear Public Bathroom Risk-Taker,
What has your experience been with the Burger King on Walnut Avenue----the so-called “Impenetrable Fortress”? -Mark from Southeast

A: Well Mark, I can only say truthfully that the Walnut Avenue Burger King took about four years off my life, so narrow was my escape the first time I went there. The close proximity of the public bathroom to the counter, the sparse crowds that make you stand out, the single-stall design of the bathroom which can lead to a terrifying wait outside the door if it’s occupied----all these things contribute to the place’s reputation as a true gauntlet for even a seasoned public bathroom risk-taker. I’ve found that even starting to order and then asking for a minute to “think about it” to allay suspicion of your intentions of using the toilet for free does nothing to throw them off the scent of deceit. These bloodhounds are especially adept at spotting the old I’m Meeting Someone Here And Am Just Looking Around For Her When I Happen To Spot A Bathroom ruse. Oh, sure, you can’t see anything on the staff’s faces that proves they’re secretly looking down on you, but it’s there. I would advise outright stealth: crouching and sneaking hurriedly past the counter might just get you to the tall potted plant on the east side of the restaurant, which can provide an adequate screen for you to get into the hallway unnoticed. After you’ve relieved yourself, your only realistic option is going out through the emergency exit, setting off the alarm. Better the public at large sees you running from the building at top speed than one of the cashiers realizes you only came in to pee and not purchase anything. God only knows what stories they’ll tell of you once they get home to their families.

Q: Dear Public Bathroom Risk-Taker,
Help! I find myself trapped in the men’s room of an Arby’s, I’m not even sure which one. I breezed past the counter okay upon entering the place and practically waltzed into the bathroom unnoticed, completely in the clear and ready to take advantage of the facilities without spending a penny----but then one of the cashiers started talking to his friend just outside the door for a half an hour, trapping me inside, and by the time he stops, I fear the place will be closing for the night! There is NO WAY that I can get out of here without him KNOWING that I was never interested in a roast beef sandwich or even a small order of fries, that in fact my ONLY desire was to shamefully go to the bathroom and just leave again! What do I do?? -Bill from West North

A: Bill, I feel your pain. I can only hope my other readers don’t suffer the same fate. Remember, folks, it’s better to go to extremes to avoid being suspected by total strangers of public bathroom freeloading than to wind up doomed to being spotted. In the past two weeks I have twice scaled the side of the Union Square McDonald’s, slithered into the crawlspace above the john, and dropped through the ceiling tiles so as not to be seen. I’m not going to say I didn’t hurt myself rather badly, but what counts is that the minimum wage staff I have no connection with was utterly oblivious. And that’s a victory you can’t put a price on.

Until next week, friends!


And Stop Using the Fax Machine to Order Indian Food

Dear Toys ‘R’ Us Accounts Receivable employees,

While we in Shipping and Receiving are appreciative of all that you bring to the company, we feel your department has been somewhat neglectful in a certain area which is adversely affecting our daily operations. We speak, of course, of the feeding of the hostages, which you do not seem to be doing on a consistent basis, and it is falling upon us to take up the slack.

When the hostages were seized, we thought it was understood that they were not Accounts Receivable’s hostages or Shipping and Receiving’s hostages but OUR hostages together, to take care of in partnership. As it is, the hostages have not been fed for so long that we may need to set up an outing for them to improve their morale (probably paddle-boating, but I’ll have to check the rates). Maybe we should get together at some point and come up with a hostage-feeding schedule that works for all of us.

Please note also that the increased volume of the plaintive cries of the hostages has necessitated the construction of a thicker wall abutting the original one which screens them off from the elevator shaft. We were thinking of moving some petty cash out of the fund which had been set up to buy Betty an iPod for her wedding shower in order to fund this endeavor, and would appreciate your input.

Thank you for your attention.

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