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Archive for August, 2010

Today, I Am A Maverick.

Today, as I approached the traffic lights near the train station I saw that they had just changed, that the little green man had disappeared and the little red flashing man, (who was taunts and teases “come on! You’ve almost made it!”) had just turned into a still and stubborn red man, whose blank inanimate face spells defeat.

I stood and watched as the last of the pedestrians who were just slightly quicker than me finished crossing the road, if only I had been a few seconds faster, I would have been one of them, secure in the herd, I thought to myself. These lights were particularly long, and I could see the train station across the road, so close and yet so far, the lights were still red, but a mad dash across the road now would get me securely onto my train and off to work on time, if only I had the guts to do it. I battled with the decision, this was split second thinking, I had only the most limited time if I was going to make the attempt at crossing the road. No, I wouldn’t, I would wait. I was not going to risk my life, or more importantly possible social embarrassment by breaking the pedestrian code.

I was content in my decision, until… Who was that? That girl, walking with such confidence one might expect her to be the star of some kind of female empowering medical drama. She walked right by me, paused, for only a second before striding out into the road, crossing the street without any problems, just making it to the other side as the traffic started to move forward.

I was shamed, left standing there like a fool. Because of my own fear, because of my insistence on adhering to societies rules, I was left waiting for the lights to complete their cycle once more. That girl who crossed, she was a maverick, she did things her way, screw traffic convention, screw pedestrian protocol. I was envious of that girl, I wanted to be that girl, and today I have decided, I will be that girl. Today, I become a maverick.   

When I eventually boarded the train, I saw everything with new eyes. There was only one seat left, a small gap between two people in the middle of a three person seater. The old me would never have disturbed these two people by attempting to squeeze in between them. It would have been rude and embarrassing, indeed there were already two or three people standing, glancing wistfully at the seat, nobody game enough to do anything about it. Normally I would have been one of those people, but not today. Today I focused on that seat, I strode purposefully towards it and as I locked into eye contact with the man on the edge of the seat I said in a loud clear voice “Excuse me” I squeezed past him and slid victoriously into the seat (which if I’m honest, was not quite big enough for me to sit in comfortably.) As I glanced around the carriage I saw the looks in people’s eyes, I could tell they were thinking, “Who is this girl? Where did she come from? ” I turned and looked at one woman who was staring at me, I shot her what I considered to be a wry smile, she turned away awkwardly. In hindsight, it may have come across more creepy than wry.

From then on I was  unstoppable, when I ordered my lunch, the woman mistakenly put butter onto my sandwich despite me having asked her not to do so. I spoke up, I informed her that I did not want butter, and I felt only the mildest hint of guilt as she was forced to begin my sandwich again.

I spoke up, I didn’t play by anybody’s rules, pedestrian protocol was a thing of the past. If you answer your phone on the train in front of me, get ready for a stern throat clearing. I was drunk on my new freedom, I was out of control, in many ways, I was unrecognizable, even to myself.

It was as I reprimanded someone for cutting in line and was given a steady stream of abuse in reply, that I realised I had gone too far, I couldn’t live this way. Being this kind of radical maverick was too tiring. I had to stop.

Although It was a difficult change, I gave up my new-found maverick status, I retired my out there attitude, and I transformed back into the mild-mannered girl I always was, although my mark on the world was a small one, at least I tried, at least I can hold my head up high, knowing that I gave it my all, and as I wait for the traffic light this afternoon, my disappointment may be dulled by the next maverick that steps out into traffic getting run down by a car.

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How To Schmooze Pretentious Intellectuals Like A Pro.

schmooze or schmoose also shmooze (shmz) Slang
v. schmoozed or schmoosed also shmoozed, schmooz·ing or schmoos·ing also shmooz·ing, schmooz·es or schmoos·es also shmooz·es
v.intr.
To converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.

There are some situations in life where you might find yourself stuck with an intellectual, I’m sorry. I’m going to help you get through this. The following is a guide to schmoozing three different types of intellectuals so that they can later be used  for your own benefit (possibly in some sort of evil scheme)

Please note that I use the word “intellectual” loosely in this context, and that most of the following sub groups consider themselves intellectual rather than others thinking of them that way. Let’s begin:

Elitist Hipster Douchebags

 

The Elitist Hipster Douchebag is unfortunately not a rare animal, it is likely that you will come across one from time to time, they are recognizable from their “ironic” fashion statements, their carefully styled hair and their “I don’t give a fuck attitude.”

Do’s:

– Be apathetic. Enthusiasm is not your friend when dealing with a hipster, any point made with enthusiasm and passion is likely to be ignored or subtly mocked.

– Make up things. The hipsters will likely try to throw you off with their elitism, they get a sexual thrill from being into things that are not mainstream. If they mention a band and you haven’t heard of them, that validates them as “different and cool.” What you’ll need to do to gain the respect of these idiots, is to make up a band, just take any two random words and throw them together (the more random the better) for example: “I’m really into the Bike Feather’s at the moment.” The Hipster will not wish to appear out of the loop and will likely just nod and say something like “I think I’ve heard of them.” Make sure you mention that the band is very underground, and that they nobody has heard of them. As soon as the Hipster has a chance he/she will google your made up band, when he/she is unable to find anything on the band, you will earn their grudging respect. 

– Remember everything you do wrong can be passed off as “ironic.” If you sense that you have made a faux pas, simply laugh and claim that what you were doing was merely a joke, act as if any one who doesn’t find this amusing is an idiot. Think of the old “Emperor has no clothes” fable and you’ll see what I’m getting at.

Don’ts:

– Don’t be too specific. Hipster’s may like to pretend they are heavily involved with things like politics, but when it comes down to it they are lacking in much specific knowledge in the area. Bringing up specific political issues may make them look foolish and put them into an attack stance.

– Don’t introduce any new restaurants, films, countries, cities etc that have not already been mentioned by the hipster. Mentioning things that have not already been touched upon by your hipster pal puts you at risk of mocking. Hipster’s like nothing more than classifying things as “So over, very last year.” It’s safe to mention any of the items above that have already been brought up by others. As these have been accepted as cool.

– Get involved in a conversation about diet habits. You’ll soon be buried underneath so much, gluten-free, lactose intolerant bullshit that you’ll have no choice but to mock them, losing any footing you may have gained.

 Straight Up Geeks

These creatures may seem simple and non threatening, but if you want to infiltrate the system and schmooze like a pro, you may find them to be more complicated than first imagined.

Do:

-Work on your geek humour, a suitable joke to break the ice may be something like “A neutrino walks into a bar.  The neutrino asks ‘how much is a beer?’ The bartender says ‘for you, no charge!'”

– Insinuate that you think that an interest in computers and star trek is very sexy as you prefer brains over brawn.

– Take an interest in their geek hobbies. One question should be enough o get the ball rolling, soon you’ll be bored out of your mind and nodding and smiling along to a conversation about the Stargate series.

Don’t:

-Make fun of them. Even though you may just be joking and not intending to hurt anyone’s feelings, many geeks are super sensitive due to repeated bullying throughout their teenage years.

– Mix up which star show is which, mixing up Star Trek, Star Wars or Stargate may seem like nothing to you, but you’ll be lost forever in the eyes of the geek, do your research.

– Ask the when they’re moving out of their mother house. They’ll leave when they’re ready. Like when they turn 50.

Old School Academic Windbags

The Old School Academic Windbags can be one of the more tedious types of intellectual, well versed in dull topics and well prepared to share their thoughts on them in a long-winded manner. They aren’t necessarily old, they may just act that way. Private schools have been churning out these gems of human beings for decades. 

Do’s:

– Keep it simple, if you don’t know the exact meaning of a word, don’t use it. Nothing will give you away faster than using a word incorrectly or saying something that makes no sense in the context of a conversation. Attempting to give a compliment to someone by saying “My, what a redundant point you make” will not win you ny friends.

– Nod and parrot, Nodding and giving other non verbal cues whilst others are speaking will help the other person to feel engaged in the conversation. There is nothing worse than trying to talk to someone who is staring blankly at you, or worse distracted and glancing around the room or fidgeting. Parroting is a good way to contribute something to the conversation without having to know what you’re talking about for example “Wow, quantum state and quantum observable really are radically different from those used in previous models of physical reality. Do go on”  This should be all the encouragement the intellectual windbag needs to bend your ear on a topic that is neither interesting, nor comprehensible.

– Flatter the ego, chances are Professor Self Involved’s favourite topic is himself. If you feed the massive ego of these old school intellectuals you’ll find they may well grow to enjoy your company, and of course if they respect your opinion of them, how could they choose not to respect your opinion on other things?

Don’ts:

– Never give a direct answer on a topic you know nothing about. If you find yourself out of your intellectual depth in a conversation, start throwing up smoke screens, give non-committal answers and attempt to direct the conversation to a safer area.

– Question the other person’s knowledge on a topic, even if you are pretty sure they are wrong. The other person will shift into defensive mode and protect themselves with all the ammo they’ve got.  “All too often, academic departments defend their territory with the passion of cornered animals, though with far less justification. ” (Bruce Jackson)

So that’s it, good luck out there folks.

“I Want It Rare, But Not Bloody.” Why Chefs Are So Angry…

A very special post by my celebrity guest blogger Cameron Power.

Everyone knows that chefs are angry people. They are self absorbed, self-centred, sadistic, narcissistic bastards who thrive on heaping their shit onto other people’s plates whilst mentally assaulting anybody who comes within earshot of their verbal tirades.  basically they are mean-spirited, spiteful and vicious, and that’s on a good day.

As someone who has been a chef for the last decade , from lowly dishwasher, to shit-kicking apprentice, to the highs of an executive chef, I have experienced enough of this career to feel qualified to ask, Why would anybody, and I mean anybody, choose this as a profession? Long hours, shocking pay, the mind numbing routine of sweating, bleeding and being degraded, and all for seemingly nothing. You get home and sleep for two hours before you have to wash and iron your uniform, sharpen your knives and polish your faded boots. Then it’s time to start your wholesomely fun day again.

Anyone who cooks knows that this is a way of life, this is what we chose to do. A career that is based on how hard you work, how much you can drink, how any insults you can fling and how much stress you can endure.  Do it without stabbing someone with a bread knife and you’re home and hosed.

There was one problem that we didn’t count on when we embarked on this gastronomic journey,  through all of the bravado and bullshit we went through, years of cut fingers, apprenticeships and bullying head chefs this problem kept popping up, that problem? It’s you! That’s right! You, the general public. If we are spiteful narcissists then god only knows what category you bastards fall into.You are the reason that chefs in general are so angry. Wanna know why?

Chef’s are passionate about food. It’s their pride and joy, it’s their lively hood. It’s what keeps them motivated, it dictates their lives. Yes, chef’s are passionate about food… Not people! We cook for our pride, we cook for ourselves, and we cook for the money. Not for you!

Since the days of open kitchens, our lives have gotten steadily worse. Gone are the days when you could throw pans around, and swear and belittle the waiting staff, Oh no no no! In this p.c. World gone mad you can’t even call someone an idiot without getting sued, even if they are medically proven to be an idiot.

Open Kitchens seem to give people the right and authority to say whatever they please to you, good and loud. Not a day goes by without some Master Chef devotee wandering past me and offering some “helpful” advice. It seems now that the wall has fallen people have a new god given right to tell us how to do our jobs. They stand there shouting things like:

  1. “Hey Chef, that grill looks a little high!”
  2. “Where is the bathroom?”
  3. “Hey man, make sure my steak is a good one!”
  4. “I want my food hot, like… real hot.

Suggestions noted dear customer, here are my responses:

  1. “Really, well I’ll just turn it up a bit more, like a lot more. Because it’s my grill and I can do whatever the fuck I want.”
  2. “You chose to ignore the signs, the wait-staff and the manager to come and interrupt my work to ask me that question? For you, the toilet is across the road in that junkie toilet block.”
  3. “Oh your steak! I’ll just assume it’s the one in the front with the most fat on it. Now I’m going to slightly burn the edges and flip it too many times just to make you feel special.
  4. “Lucky you told me, I planned to pull it out of the fridge, plate it up, put parsley on and serve it up in the hopes that you’d get salmonella, or mad cow disease, or preferably both.

Don’t bother the chefs while they are working!

Here are some of my other favourite stupid questions that get thrown our way at the most inopportune times. Picture this, You’re in a busy kitchen everybody is running around, screaming orders, dinging bells and cursing and suddenly you hear some genius asking something like

“Do you have steak?” Yes we do.

“Do you have chicken?” Yes we do.

“Do you have pastas?” Yes we do.

“What if I just want a salad? Do you have that?” Yes we do.

“You know what? Maybe I’ll just have fries. Do you have that?” Yes, we do.

“Oh I don’t know, what else do you have?”

Well, we have… A fucking menu!

It gets worse, indecisiveness is nothing compared to pure stupidity. Just when we think we have successfully palmed you off onto the wait staff you decide to up the ante a little bit. Here are some more gems I hear on a daily basis:

“Does the vegetarian nachos have beef in it?”

“How is the grilled salmon cooked?”

“I want it cooked rare, but I don’t want it to be bloody.”

The new emerging trend of irritating customers are the vegans and allergy type people, it seems like every “Steve intolerant” and “Jenny  coeliac” has chosen to wander into my humble establishment to bother me with their insane requests:

“I’m a vegan, has your grill ever touched meat?”

“Do you batter your fish with flour?”

“I’m allergic to salt”

“I don’t eat animals, I’ll just have the fish.”

It takes at least 4 years for us to be qualified, it takes nurses around the same time, and yet you trust these people with your lives and you don’t even trust us with your food?

I could go on forever, rattling off various enraging stories, but to be honest, I’m getting angry just writing this. It brings back hateful memories and makes me feel like taking my carving knife to the nearest gluten-free, pasta eating hypocrite I can find.

So, why am I still a Chef? Like I said, Chefs love food, I love food! I just don’t like you!