Been & Going

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Jersey Joe’s Bathtub Thoughts 2

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Everybody thinks about all kinds of strange subjects in the bath and the shower.  Jersey Joe is no different and is back with another round of sudsy thought provoking thoughts.

THE 411

What: bathtub thoughts 2

Why: the mind goes wild when unwinding in the shower or tub


Admit it… we all think about things in the bathroom.  Should we do toilet thoughts, next?

Asian style jacuzzi in spa room

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Jersey Joe’s Funny Bathtub Thoughts

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Everybody thinks about all kinds of strange subjects in the bath and the shower.  Jersey Joe is no different.

THE 411

What: bathtub thoughts

Why: the mind goes wild when unwinding in the shower or tub


Admit it… we all think about things in the bathroom.  Should we do toilet thoughts, next?

Asian style jacuzzi in spa room

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Caption This 10

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Get ready to laugh!  Jersey Joe crowns the winners with the funniest captions to these outrageous pics in the latest round of Caption This.  Plus, see who’s on top of the leaderboard with the most funniest captions in the first ten rounds!

THE 411

Name: Caption This

What: online Twitter and Facebook game on @JerseyJoe50’s feed



Keep and eye on my Twitter feed for another edition.  Also, join me for MATCH JERSEY JOE GAME – every Wednesday afternoon.  Let’s have some fun on social media!


[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Do You Tip the Hotel Maid?

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Do you tip housekeeping when you stay at a hotel? See the surprises Jersey Joe gets when he does!

Hotel maids are experts when it comes to cleaning.  They have tips and tricks to turn a large number of rooms quickly.  Take a look at their cart for example.  They have everything they need within arm’s reach.

You can also use some of their tips to improve your cleaning at home.

  1. They clean the clutter first – it’s easier to turn a room with a blank slate.
  2. They prefer microfiber cloths – but in a pinch an old t-shirt or pillow case
  3. Always turn a bed sheet so the tags are at the bottom.  The tags can help you figure out which is the longer and shorter end of the sheet.
  4. Whack the drapes with a hard towel.  That will loosen the dust, then you can vacuum it up with the rest of the room.
  5. Vacuum before you mop
  6. Vacuum the high traffic areas first, then hit them a second time as you do the rest of the room.
  7. Clean the bathroom last – it minimizes the transfer of bacteria
  8. Some cleaners take several minutes to work. Read the bottle.  But, spray down the shower and toilet, go clean something else, then go back after several minutes to the let cleaner do it’s work.
  9. White vinegar and water is the best cleaner
  10. Always have a toothbrush on hand for the tough spots
  11. Make yourself a little version of a hotel room cleaning cart.

THE 411

Name: Hotel maids and housekeepers

What: they clean hotel rooms daily

Location: hotels and motels around the world


Like I said in my blog, I try to tip each one $5 per night.  Most will restock the room shampoos and soaps, whether I need them or not.

My other hotel advice is to always make sure you have the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door.  Some of these workers can start as early as 8am and could be pounding on your door, hours before check out!


[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Is Your Hotel Room Clean?

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Jersey Joe checks out a few simple tips to find out if your hotel room is clean.

THE 411

What: hotel room tips

How: 2 simple steps

Result: easy ways to know if your hotel room is clean


I love the show Hotel Impossible on The Travel Channel.  Unlike most reality shows, this is less about the screaming, and more about getting results.

The viewer gets a sneak peek at the inner workings of a hotel.

With these two tips, I learned from watching the show, hopefully they will give you a little piece of mind during your next hotel room stay.

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Public Restroom Peeves

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Do you hate using a public restroom?  Jersey Joe checks out your comments and phobias about using public restrooms.


THE 411

What: Public restrooms

Resason: public bathroom and toilet facilities outside of the home

Location: stores, work places, bars, restaurants, train stations


I have to ride the New York City subway to and from work everyday.  I always make sure to carry a bottle of hand sanitizer.  You never know what you will be touching on the subway and the same goes when using a public restroom.

[Best Of California Seething] Are Israeli Contractors Worse than Flying Sharks? Discuss

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Look, the world is a terrible place and there isn’t a goddamn thing I can do about it.

Drought, famine, war, diminishing resources, rising extremism and the ticking time bomb of climate change- it all just sucks. Most of the time I feel as helpless as a stewardess on Malaysian Air, just passing out little packets of salty humor as we cross into Ukrainian airspace. And I’ve been thinking for a while that I should say something IMPORTANT about all of it- I mean, it’s not like there is a shortage of ridiculous things for me to comment on. Like the sheer absurdity of Americans urging anybody to “show restraint” in the face of repeated terror attacks, considering the way we responded to being attacked just that one time. It’s like being told by Rob Ford to take it easy on the lattes or told by Jimmy Fallon to take it easy on the Rob Ford jokes. Hell, we Americans load kids up on buses and throw rocks at them – and they don’t even hate us (yet)! If this is what we do to the people that like us, can you imagine what we would do if there was actually a threat? One rocket flies in over the border towards San Diego and God help everybody from Tijuana down to Rio. So perhaps we should show a little restraint when it comes to giving helpful advice.

Anyhow, like I said, I’ve been thinking a lot about what to say about it all and in all my deliberation about the woes of the world I Cal Seething- 072814- sharknado2fear I lost sight of what’s really important. Namely- that this Wednesday is the world premiere of SHARKNADO TWO ON SYFY!!!! Who needs peace and social justice when you’ve got sharks and chainsaws! And Ian Ziering! And Tara Reid! And flying sharks! AND CHAINSAWS!!!! If Sharknado Two isn’t the answer to your problems- THEN YOU’RE NOT ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS! So, in honor of this world changing occasion- I’m reposting last summer’s Sharknado “blogumn” – which was actually the last thing I ever posted on the late, great, Fierce and Nerdy, almost one year ago today.  And next week, I’ll post my review of Sharknado Two.

Of course, you may notice that I am also somewhat critical of Israeli contractors in this “blogumn” – but, it’s worth noting that- while Israeli contractors may be bad, at least they don’t steal all the concrete that’s provided for infrastructure and humanitarian purposes and use it to build tunnels to smuggle weapons unlike some militants I could mention.

Anyhow- that’s all I’m gonna say about it. No need to add more words to a “blogumn” that’s already 500 words longer than the script of Sharknado and 1000 words larger than Tara Reid’s vocabulary.  So- here goes- enjoy!

Originally Posted on July 30, 2013 – hence the incredibly outdated references

I really meant to write about my bathroom renovation this week – offering witty insights and wise advice to anyone brave and foolish enough to trust an Israeli contractor with their money and a wet saw. Something other home owners could read, relate to and maybe even learn a little something from. But then I figured, fuck it, I’ll just write about Sharknado which, I think we all agree, is the finest LA movie since Chinatown. Maybe even better – as we can see from the comparison below:


Sharknado Chinatown
Flying Sharks Yes No
Ian Ziering Yes No
Chainsaw Yes No
Complex and thought provoking noir tale of rapacious greed, boundless   ambition and unthinkable depravity set against the fictionalized backdrop of   LA’s Water Wars. No Yes


I mean, it’s kind of a no brainer. Maybe if Roman Polanski had been just a little bit more imaginative – like, let’s say – instead of finding a dead hobo in the dried up LA river bed the cops found a blond in a bikini with HUGE BAZOOMMBAS (clinical term) who’d been bitten in half by a flying shark with one or possibly TWO HEADS.

Or maybe instead of cutting Jack Nicholson’s nose with an itty-bitty knife, Roman Polanski could have CHOPPED IT OFF WITH ACal Seething- July 29- Roman CHAINSAW and as all the blood gushed into the LA River, there would be a close up on a super-intelligent CGI shark in the water smelling the blood and turning its head as if to say “Oooooh, something suddenly smells simply delectable. Is that a hint of Private Detective nose I’m getting? I simply must go investigate” ‘cause you know that’s a real fucking thing sharks do, and then the shark could jump out of the water and BITE ROMAN POLANSKI’S NOSE AND WHOLE FACE OFF, cause that’s what qualifies as “irony” in these movies, as well as DEVOURING the blond in a bikini with the HUGE GAZONGAS (technical term) who inexplicably accompanies Polanski to all of his important nose cutting jobs – which is particularly surprising since she’s over 14.

So, yeah, maybe if Polanksi had just been a little bit more imaginative or tried just a little bit harder he could have made a movie as awesome as Sharknado – but he didn’t – so forget it Roman, L.A’s Sharknado’s town.

Which is appropriate, because Sharknado’s got every bit as much to say about LA as Chinatown. The asshole New Yorker on the freeway who gets eaten alive by a shark on the 405 right after complaining about stupid Californians who freak out when it rains; the substitute teacher from Wyoming who came out to LA to be an actor and was killed by a flying letter from the Hollywood sign; Cal Seething- 072814- ferrisa shark crashing into the cement outside Mann’s Chinese Theatre and leaving it’s own “footprint”; the Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica pier coming loose and crashing right through the iconic sign on the pier – thereby destroying all future “hey, look, moron, if you didn’t fucking realize it already, we’re in LA” montages during Laker game broadcasts.

I mean, who needs some boring old incredibly brilliant and thought provoking social commentary about water rights in the San Fernando Valley directed by a borderline child molester when you’ve got sharks devouring New Yorkers stuck in traffic on the freeway, which, let’s face it, we’ve all fantasized about a little on the 405 during rush hour (IDEA FOR A SEQUEL: Sharknado vs Carmageddon – Seriously, We Mean It – Stay Off The Roads This Weekend).

Of course, you could argue that none of this shark biting stuff is truly necessary for quality filmmaking and may, in fact, be detrimental to art of cinema. And, of course, you’d be absolutely right. Well done! Nicely argued Mr. Barista with $100,000 in film school debt.

It’s too bad that bitch of an Assistant Manager isn’t impressed by your knowledge of cinema and hipster mustache and insists on riding your ass about coming in late and not restocking the cups. What a Fascist! She’s worse than Hitler and Harvey Weinstein put together. She totally just resents you cause she knows she’s still gonna be stuck working at Starbucks while you’re accepting Cal Seething- July 29- Catyour Best Original Screenplay Oscar for AmericKKKan KKKoffee Shop. Wait til she sees that scene where the mean assistant manager gets tied to the bed by the shy, nerdy film maker who blindfolds her with his black polo and spanks her with a copy of Save the Cat until she screams out “You’re right. Geniuses shouldn’t have to refill the creamer. Hit me again with your scathing insights about the state of contemporary independent film financing.” Ha! The joke’s really going to be on her then! If only your mom would just donate to your Kickstarter already, you could really get this film made.

But the problem with your argument, oh Wise Mr. Barista Man, is that Sharknado is a SyFy Channel movie and SyFy doesn’t care about quality filmmaking or doing things the “right” way. Hell, they don’t even care about spelling “Sci Fi” correctly, do you really think they give a shit “story structure” and “character arc.”

And, you know what – good for them. Who needs quality filmmaking anyhow? What has that gotten us lately? Before Midnight? SPOILER ALERT – growing up sucks- NEXT! Fruitvale Station? SPOILER ALERT – America sucks – NEXT! Elysium – what is that anyhow? Some dystopian allegory about economic inequality and environmental destruction? SPOILER ALERT – HUMANITY SUCKS – stop whining and bring on the flying sharks – and get me my fucking iced latte already! If you’re such a good writer why can’t you spell my name right on the cup? Get it right or I’ll talk to the Assistant Manager again. She just can’t wait to take another shark-sized bite out of your bratty, entitled little worthless millennial ass.

SyFy, you see is carrying on a proud tradition of B-Movie making in this country. And, as the Russ Meyer of Basic Cable Channels – SyFy understands that you can’t spell B Movie without Shark Bites, Bosoms and Buckets of Blood, Baby!

Plus- they understand the 3 basic rules of B-Movie Making:


1. More is More

Cal Seething- July 29- ChainsawShark

Look, strictly speaking, Ian Ziering didn’t need to fight off a flying shark with a chainsaw at the end of Sharknado. In fact, most contemporary ichthyologists agree that if a shark does come flying at you out of a tornado with its mouth wide open, the best thing you can do is take one step to the left and let it HIT THE GROUND AND FUCKING DIE. IT’S A FISH. IT’S NOT GONNA MAKE IT ON LAND. I mean, it’s not like the shark is going to crash into the ground and suddenly transform into a Grizzly Bear and maul you – not in Sharknado, anyhow. I mean, sure, maybe if you were starring in Grizzly Shark vs SharKoala Bear – but that’s a whole different movie. It’s a good one, though:

A shy, nerdy scientist (Dustin Diamond) working in a secret lab in Cancun (which looks an awful lot like Oxnard) is manipulated by an evil American politician (Brian Austin Green as “Senator Silver”) into creating a genetic hybrid of Great White Shark and Grizzly Bear to be used to protect Alaska from Russian invasion at the secret request of President Palin.

The Grizzly Shark gets loose, though, right at the height of spring break and starts mauling coeds in bikinis with huge tetongas (Spanish technical term). The only way they can stop it is to bring in the sexy female, brilliant-but-reckless Australian scientist (Kylie Minogue) who has developed an experimental Great White Shark / Koala Bear genetic hybrid for…some reason, along Cal Seething- 072814- paulwith grizzled old Aussie hunter (Paul Hogan in the “Robert Shaw Memorial Grizzled Old Guy Who Dies Pointlessly, Like, Literally Five Minutes Before the Shark is Killed Just to Make Some Fucking Point About Hubris, I Guess“ Role) who has a five minute monologue about how his father was killed by a shark and his mother was mauled by a bear and then gets bitten and mauled like, literally five minutes before Grizzly Shark gets killed to make some fucking point about hubris. I guess.

Clearly you see my point. Killing a shark with a chainsaw is in no way necessary. It’s not even a good idea. What it is, though, is, to quote Adam Richman “Awesome”. And unlike cheese fondue, tequila and reality shows about white trash idiots doing random jobs that you can’t possibly believe anybody actually does (“on a brand new American Crapfest, Dickface and Steve get hired to build a custom toilet for NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. – but when the job gets backed up and delays start hitting the fan – will they be able to pull another successful job out of their butts or will the whole company go down the drain?”) – awesomeness is one good thing you can never get enough of.

So, let’s go, pile on the awesomeness!! A shark devouring an annoying TV reporter live on camera? AWESOME! Ian Ziering shooting sharks out of the sky with a handgun to protect his son’s helicopter as he flies into a shark infested tornado to drop a bomb into it? AWESOME! An opening sequence on a boat where an Evil Ambiguous Asian buying sharks illegally for shark fin soup from an Evil Ambiguous Latino both get devoured by flying sharks in a hurricane which has ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING whatsofuckingever to do with the rest of the movie?



2. Kitsch is King / Karma is a Killer


Look, I hate to tell Ian Ziering this but they didn’t cast him for his great acting. They cast him cause they thought it would be funny to have a washed up, beach bum Steve Sanders racing back to Beverly Hills to heroically rescue his blond bimbo trophy wife and estranged kids- and it was! It’s the best use of Ian Ziering in a movie since Steve Sanders played the Pizza Guy in the porno that was shot at Brandon’s house.

The fact that he turned out to be the best actor in the movie is kind of a bonus – it’s like that time I went to see Rick Springfield at a casino in Atlantic City so I could laugh at all the secretaries in leopard skin Spandex and ended up kind of liking the stuff off his new album. I mean, sure, being the best actor in a movie starring Tara Reid is like being the best Quarterback on a Jets team with Mark Sanchez or being the best pass receiver on a Patriots team with Hernandez, Gronkowski, and Welker, but still.

By the way- here’s a little riddle – what do two of the best Patriots pass receivers from last season have in common? They’re both wearing Orange uniforms this year – HA! Oh, and they’re both getting ass raped in the shower #peytonsdirtylittlesecret #helikeshisendstight.

Cal Seething- July 29- Tiffany1It’s important to keep in mind, though, that Kitsch casting is an art- you can’t just put some washed up old star in a movie and ASSUME it’s going to be entertaining. Look at Mega Piranha as an example – sure they cast Tiffany – but they had her playing a dowdy scientist who takes everything all seriously and worries about the fate of mankind. I mean, what were they thinking? Why on earth would they cast Tiffany in what was clearly a Gabrielle Carteris role???

In Mega Python vs Gateroid they got it right.


Tiffany plays a voluptuous sheriff hell bent on the destruction of Debbie Gibson who has lines like “I think we’re alone now – there doesn’t seem to be anyone around” – BRILLIANT! A masterpiece of kitsch casting rivaled only by the casting of Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard in Sharknado and Anthony Wiener as Eliot Spitzer in Dumb Shit New York Democrats II: The Revenge of Carlos Danger.

According to a Fox News poll, btw – while 60% of Americans disapproved of Wiener’s sexting – 85% disapproved of the fact that he chose a “Goddamn Mexican sex name – and not a good solid American name like John Hardcock or Jimmy Bob Boner.” As Megyn Kelly Tweeted “First Mark Anthony at the All Star Game, now Carlos Danger? What’s America coming to? #obama”

Then, of course, there is SyFy B-Movie Karma. Traditionally, Karma is defined as:

“The force generated by a person’s actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person’s next existence.”

In SyFy movies – Karma is defined as:

“’Are you out of your mind, there’s no possible way that a shark could make it all the way up here to Beverly Hil…AAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHH, HELP, SHARK!!!!!!!!!’ bite, chomp, blood spatter, dead douchebag.”

This brings up a very important safety tip – if you do find yourself in the midst of a shark infestation – DO NOT DO the following:

  • Swim in murky waters
  • Splash around and draw attention to yourself
  • Say anything disparaging or insulting about sharks or their ability to attack you, no matter how far-fetched it may seem that they could do it. Sharks FUCKING HATE THAT SHIT. Seriously, dude, it’s a shark. Show some goddamn respect and you might just survive this attack. Otherwise, SyFy Movie Karma’s gonna get you before you can say “Sharks? Coming out of the sand in Las Vegas? Don’t be rediculou….AAAAAARRRGGGGGH, HELP, SHARK!!!! Bite, chomp, blood spatter, dead you.

3. Logic is for Losers

OK – pop-quiz time – which of these roles do you think presents the greatest acting challenge?

  1. Hamlet
  2. King Lear
  3. Fin Shepard in Sharknado (Hey – his name is Fin – I just got that – HA! This movie just gets better and better!)

If you answered A or B you’re dead wrong. Any Freshman theatre major with a pair of tights can rock out a halfway decent “Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I” or stand out in the rain bellowing “Seriously, dude, I can’t believe my daughter’s such a royal BEYOTCH!!!!!!” or whatever the fuck King Lear says anyhow #laziesttheatrestudentever. But it takes a true thespian of Zieringesque proportions to deliver a line like “a tornado can pick up marine life and drop it hundreds of miles from the coast line” like that’s a real fucking thing that we should seriously be concerned about. Cause, at the risk of being karmicaly (and comically) being devoured by a flying shark – it’s not.


I mean, sure, I suppose a tornado could pick up a buncha sharks and drop them on land but they wouldn’t exactly come flying out of the sky with mouths agape ready to devour and destroy everyone in their path who dares defy them. No. They’d be dead. There would be a giant rain of dead sharks and the only movie you could make about it would be an extremely tedious documentary about how Global Warming created a freak storm which obliterated thousands of animals from an endangered species. And while I’m sure that An Inconvenient Tooth would be an important film, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as Sharknado.

SyFy B-Movies, you see, are like the lies you tell your parents as a teenager. They’re not about what’s “real” but about “what you can get away with making someone believe” as determined by the following simple equation:  T = D x WTB – or Truth = Delivery x Willingness to Believe.

I mean, look, your parents want to believe that you were hard at work at your unbelievably shitty book store job all day – not that you played hooky to drop acid and go to an amusement park. So when they confront you and say “Hey, your job called today and asked where you were” – they want you to lie to them – as long as you can deliver the lie with a straight face. If you can say “Oh yeah, I got there early so I started counting books and I totally got locked in the storeroom and nobody found me there for hours” with a straight face even though your mom’s face is melting and you’re seeing trails every time your dad moves his hands – then do it, go for it – they totally want to believe it – so it’ll end up being the Truth.

Same with Sharknado – we want to believe that there might just be some tiny little thread of logic in this movie so that we’re not total idiots for wasting our time watching it, so just give us some kind of totally half-assed absurdly implausible scientific crap and say it with a straight face and we’ll fall for it like a couple of parents who are convinced that the little baggie full of green stuff in their son’s room is really just basil for the pesto he was gonna make for a surprise Mother’s Day dinner. Surprise! Sure, it’s unusually pro-active of him to have bought it in November – but, you know, he sounded so sincere when he said what it was that he couldn’t possibly have been lying. I mean, he’s good – but he’s no Ian Ziering.

Of course, when it comes to telling outrageous lies that people want to hear, nobody beats an Israeli contractor. Like, for instance when they say “This job take one to two weeks maximum” when the truth is “You stupid bastards are still going to be showering with a hose in the backyard six fucking months from now cause it takes us one day to painstakingly put up one fucking piece of tile and then we’ve got to take it down the next day and do it again cause we’re morons.”

Or when they say “I’ll come back tomorrow to finish.” when the truth is “I have absolutely no idea when I’m coming back here but I do know for goddamn sure that it ain’t gonna be tomorrow”. Or the biggest Israeli lie of all “Don’t worry. This renovation is not problem” when the truth is “WORRY. WORRY NOW. WORRY A WHOLE FUCKING LOT. THIS IS THE WORST IDEA YOU’VE EVER HAD!!!!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T RENOVATE!!!!! THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM!!! THIS IS VERRRRY BIG PROBLEM!!!!!RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!! AAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!“

Now I know how Bill Clinton felt when Rabin told him “Two state solution? Don’t worry. That is not problem. We finish in one, twoCal Seething- 072814- rabin weeks maximum. I come back to Camp David to finish negotiations tomorrow.”

So – hey, how about that? I ended up writing about my bathroom renovation anyhow. And the best part is, now I’ve got images of sharks devouring my Israeli contractors. Wait, wait, hold on a second, let me enjoy this. Aaaaaahhhh, that’s the stuff. This gives me a great new idea for a sequel – Sharknado 2: Shark Attack is Not Problem in which Ian Ziering and Tara Reid get back together and rebuild their house which was destroyed in the first movie – only their incompetent Israeli contractors accidentally link up their sewer to a secret underground shark tank overseen by a dowdy scientist who takes everything all seriously and is worried about the future of mankind (Gabrielle Carteris – duh), and thousands of sharks start gushing out of their toilet devouring every Israeli in their path (oooh, that’s like heroin).

I mean, sure, I know it’s far fetched – let’s face it, there’s no possible way that a shark could EVER come out of a toilet, it’s just redic….. AAAAAARRRGGGGGH, HELP, SHARK!!!! Bite, chomp, blood spatter. End of blogumn. Good bye

Cal Seething- July 29- SharkToilet

[California Seething] Here’s to 2014- The Year of No Renovations

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Cal Seething- Jan 6- Ryan

Hey, what d’ya know- it’s January! That means that for the two-thousand and fourteenth time since the (presumed) birth of Christ and the second time since the (confirmed) death of Dick Clark (America’s Deadest Teenager) another year has begun. Enjoy your moment in the sun, Seacrest- for sooner than you think, the Four Horsemen of Celebrity Irrelevance (Age, Overexposure, Bitchy Media, Fickle Fans) will come for you. Then you’ll be that forgotten old man in the studio, face locked in place by the rigor mortis of plastic surgery, kept safe and far away from the action and relegated to leading the countdown at midnight while millions of viewers and a dozen very nervous producers watch on pins and needles- simultaneously cheering for you to finish successfully and shamefully wishing for your humiliating failure. All except me- I’m just gonna hope you fail. Oooooh, that’s gonna be sweet. I just hope my dementia won’t be so far advanced that I’ll still be able to remember who you are how much I hate your stupid face so I can properly revel in your decrepitude. That’s something to fucking live for.

Anyhow, 2014 promises to be a remarkable year– with something great for everyone! For instance, if you love ice dancing but Cal Seething- Jan 6- Putinhate gay people- the Sochi Olympics are perfect for you! Putin’s even getting wireless receivers installed, so he can watch from inside the Closet. Of course, there’s more space in that closet now that Brian Boitano has come out- an announcement which elicited the exact same response as Joan Fontaine’s death “Didn’t that happen years ago?” Not that Putin ever thinks of Brian Boitano in that way. Or at least, not very often- and when he does he immediately has to rip his shirt off and wrestle a bear.

So, yeah, the Winter Olympics is one of the gayest sporting events around- right up there with Ru Paul’s Drag Race and all WNBA games- -so why would the IOC possibly put them in a country where you can’t even say “Biathalon” without being arrested for spreading homosexual propaganda? And if they had to put the Winter Games in Russia- how did they manage to find the one fucking Russian city where it’s not actually cold? I mean if there’s one thing Russia has going for it is that it’s REALLY REALLY REALLY cold just about everywhere. Don’t take my word for it- ask Napoleon and Hitler. So finding a COLD Winter Olympics site in Russia really shouldn’t be all that hard- hell, I’ve never even been there and I can think of six, it’s like finding hay in a haystack. And I don’t want to imply that greed, corruption and graft were involved in making this choice- I prefer to simply say it outright “greed, corruption and graft were involved in making this choice”. It’s either that or a simply terrifying level of utter ineptitude- and I’m honestly not sure what’s more frightening. I mean- come on, putting the Winter Olympics in Sochi is like, oh I don’t know, putting the Superbowl in New Jersey in February or putting the World Cup in Quatar in July. Hmmm. Wait a second.

For me, though, 2014 isn’t about large sporting events or midterm elections or legal weed in Colorado (though that does make a trip to see the in-laws more tempting). I’m excited about 2014 because it’s the Year of No Renovation. You see, when we first bought our house in 2008 at what we falsely believed to be the bottom of the market (which it turns out was as bottomless as the Mimosas at brunch) there were a few little things that we needed to take care of- including:

  • Move water heater outside
  • Move washer & dryer outside- build enclosure
  • Repair foundation
  • Install new bedroom door
  • Remove dead tree in backyard
  • Replace pavers in backyard with concrete pad
  • Replace shed in backyard
  • Redo all landscaping in front & back yards
  • Put in new wooden fence around front yard
  • Remove popcorn & repair plaster on living room ceiling
  • Replace all hardwood floors and install new subfloor
  • Replace torn linoleum kitchen floor with new tiles
  • Replace all kitchen appliances and fixtures
  • Replace lighting fixtures in kitchen and bathroom
  • Replace kitchen cabinets
  • Replace kitchen countertop
  • New backsplash for kitchen
  • Replace all tile in bathroom including floor and wall tiles
  • Remove all rotten wood from bathroom floor & walls and rebuild sections of floor and walls
  • Replace bathroom sink, vanity and all fixtures
  • Replace bathtub with new shower
  • Paint entire house
  • Fix closet doorknob

Now, as you’re reading this list- keep in mind that there are only four rooms in the whole house- bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room. Now this number of rooms is perfect for my new version of Clue for the mentally challenged (the only weapon is a pointy stick), but it’s not really ideal for major renovation- since, when one room is out of commission- we’re pretty well fucked. I mean, we can’t even buy more than eight rolls of paper towels at a time cause we’ve got no place to put them- imagine what it’s like to have to move the refrigerator into the living room cause we’re working on the kitchen. I’ll tell you what it’s like. It sucks a lot.

Still, we didn’t really have much of a choice but to do this stuff because our house was built by hobos in the 20’s in exchange for bathtub gin and stale biscuits and maintained for most of it’s life as a rental property with all the love and care that you would expect from a series of Los Angeles landlords who treated the place like Larry Hagman treated his liver and Congress treated the trust of the American people. Seriously- if this place were a puppy, Sarah McLachlin would have had you weeping at what those bastards did to it. So over the last five years, we’ve gradually tackled one item at a time until finally this past summer we were 083ready to take on….The Bathroom (tum tum TUMMMMMM).

Now, if you are a homeowner and you’re considering renovating your bathroom, then the best thing you can do is sell your house or burn it down for the insurance money. If those aren’t options, though- then the next best thing you can do is find an honest, reliable and competent contractor. But how can you tell if the contractor you’re considering is honest, reliable and competent? The key is to ask the right questions. Here is a brief questionnaire you can use:

Question #1: Are you Israeli?

There are no more questions.

Now I know that sounds bad- but before you start accusing me of speaking for Hamas or Hezbollah or, God help me, even CNN- I need to reassure you that I love Israel and, ok, sure, Israelis, too- hell, I’m an Israeli citizen myself. So- no need to get all Price-Taggy- just listen to the story:

On July 3rd, my wife and I met with an Israeli contractor. For the purpose of this post, I’ll refer to him as “Doron” because that is his actual name. We had planned to have an in-depth conversation about our bathroom renovation- discussing several different options for walls and flooring- bathtub vs shower, possibilities of fixtures, etc- and that after this discussion, he might price out a couple of different scenarios, and we would figure out the timeframe and create a mutually agreeable schedule. No need to rush into anything.

So, Doron comes to the house, takes one look at the bathroom, talks to us for 30 seconds and says “OK- so take everything out, put in new floor tile, new wall tile, new sink and vanity, recessed lighting, do hot mop and new shower. I give you very good price, it is not problem, we start on Thursday.”

Now, I don’t like to be hurried in these situations- and there was no way I was letting this Israeli flim-flam man push me into a project I wasn’t ready to start. I was gonna hold firm:

Me: Uhm, yeah…well…you know, that sounds good but, you know, we were, I mean, kinda just hoping to, you know, talk about the job and, you know, maybe think about our options and, you know, uhm, come up with a plan. You know?

Doron: I understand. It is not problem. This is holiday week, my guys don’t have a lot of work. I give you very good price. We take everything out. Do new tile, hot mop, shower. One week. Not problem. We start on Thursday.

This only made me more resolute and determined:

Me: Sure, yeah, I get it. That’s cool and all, but, you know, with the holiday and all. I mean, there’s probably a bunch of stuff we, you know, aren’t going to have time to…you know?

Doron: OK. I understand. It is not problem. I tell you what. I give you same price. We start on Monday. All you need to buy is shower head and new valve for shower.

Me: Uhm…but…well…

Doron: Not problem. We take everything out, new tile, hot mop, shower. One week. Not problem. You buy one thing. How hard is that to buy one thing? I give you very good price. We start on Monday.

Clearly this was going nowhere. It was time for me to pull out my secret weapon:

Me: Well, Ok, well, listen we need a little time…can we…you know…talk about it and get back to you.

Doron: Of course! Not problem. Take some time to talk. No rush. I go outside, make some calls, come back in 5 minutes and you talk. OK? Not problem.

Do I even need to tell you what happened next?

On Monday morning, we started the job. It didn’t matter that we weren’t ready. It didn’t matter that we didn’t trust him. It didn’t matter that we had absolutely no idea what “hot mop” meant, but that it sounded like some sort of scatological sex act involving excrement and hair and possibly soup – the Israeli occupation of our house had begun and I had remembered an important lesson from my childhood- that there is no argument you can possibly make that can not be refuted by “it is not problem”. Are you paying attention, John Kerry????

Still- maybe it wouldn’t be so bad? I mean, all we needed to buy was one thing, right? Just the shower head and the new valve. Oh- and, of course the tiles. And the sink and vanity and mirror and toilet paper dispenser and towel rack and medicine cabinet and metal tile edging (that’s a thing- I swear) and paint and wainscoting and toe kick.. Oh, and the grout. Damn you grout! More about that in a minute.

Still- at least the job would be quick- one week right? I mean, sure it meant having to get up at 5 AM to go shower at the theatre and spending money every day on a dog sitter so that our loveable family pet could lie like a lump on her rug for a change and hoping and praying every day that they would leave us with a working toilet before they left each night- but still, it would only be for a week, right? That’s what Doron said- “One week. Not problem.” Well, as it turns out “Not problem” is one of those quirky, idiomatic expressions that doesn’t translate so well from the Hebrew. What it actually means isn’t “Don’t worry. I’ve thought through this carefully and can assure you this isn’t going to be a problem” but “Maybe this isn’t going to be a problem. Maybe it’s going to be a HUGE FUCKING PROBLEM. Who knows? Who cares? I’m just gonna say whatever it takes to get you to shut your goddamn pie hole and write me a big check. OK?” It’s a subtle distinction.

Anyhow, it’s possible that the job indeed would have taken one week more or less- except when they took the wall down they discovered this:


This is what’s commonly referred to as “termite damage” – though the technical term used by contractors is “winning lottery ticket”. Now- don’t worry, Doron assured me that they could fix this, not problem. All they had to do was rebuild the walls. Of course, in order to do that, they first would have to replace all the floor joists to make the surface flat (FLAT NOT LEVEL. VERY IMPORTANT DISTINCTION! PLEASE NO ONE EVER EXPLAIN THIS TO ME AGAIN EVER!!). But before they could do that, they would need to rebuild the entire foundation of the whole building to provide a solid base for the floor joists. But before they could do that, they would need to take down all the stucco in the front of the house and reapply it, since- hey why not? We’re suckers- we’ll pay anything! But before they could do that, they had to pick up the entire City of Los Angeles and move it off several miles east off the San Andreas fault so that there would be no possible risk of earthquake damage to the floor and foundation. But before they could do that they needed to have Superman fly around the world a whole bunch of times really really fast so that they could go back in time and coax a dinosaur into stepping on the very first primordial termite to prevent the species from ever evolving and therefore preventing any possible future damage to the wood. Fortunately, he said that he would give me a very good price and this would only take one week. Not problem.

Through some act of sheer will, I summoned my own inner Israeli and managed to convince him to please just fix the damn floor and walls and that we would take our chances with shaky foundation, loose stucco, shifting tectonic plates and the evolution of the wood destroying insect into the modern termite. Not problem. So- ok – just add one or two days and 30% to the cost of the job and we’re right back on track? Right? Cue the wacky mishap and apology montage!

  • We’re so sorry- we accidentally got the wrong permit and had to reschedule the city inspection, which means we’re going to lose almost a whole week of work.
  • Whoopsie! I know we promised you guys that there would be a crew coming in to work over the weekend, so you made arrangements to stay in a hotel and board the dog but we forgot to schedule someone. Sorry!
  • Oh, no! Did we leave for the day with a gushing leak under the sink and only a small Tupperware container to catch the water and then NOT TELL YOU GUYS ABOUT IT so that you woke up at 3 AM to discover that the bathroom was flooded and all of the brand new tile work most likely ruined and you had a complete nervous breakdown? That sure was silly of us!!! We’re so wacky.

And how do you think I responded to these mishaps? Would it surprise you to hear that I responded with grace and gentle good humor and that I never once raised my voice or (Heavens to Betsy!) used profanity? Me, too! I would have been totally shocked! How crazy would that have been??? Thank God I totally lost my shit each and every time something got screwed up, screamed myself hoarse at Haddas, the long suffering scheduling manager whom Doron hired when he got sick of customers yelling at him directly, and used the word “Cocksucker” more times than is perhaps considered socially acceptable in any setting other than a Sopranos episode. Phew! (Why is cocksucker used as such a derogatory term? I mean, when you think about it- that’s one of the nicest things one human being can do for another- shouldn’t it be used for people who do special favors? Like- “Thank you so much for picking me up a the airport. You’re a true Cocksucker.”)

Three weeks into the project and with no end in sight, we were exhausted. Our nerves were frayed, my voice was shot, the dog was applying for emancipated minor status and Haddas was experiencing PTSD every time the phone rang at home. It was time for the project to end. And that’s when we had the Great Grout Catastrophe.

When we redid our kitchen a couple of years ago, we decided that we would use the same floor tile and grout (#370 Dove Grey) for Cal Seething- Jan 6- 370the bathroom whenever we finally got around to renovating it. This was the one thing we were always sure of, our light in the darkness, our bulwark against doubt and despair. No matter how bad things got, how much got screwed up, how many times we heard the phrase “hot mop” and recoiled in horror – we believed- no- WE KNEW that everything was gonna be ok because we had the Right Floor Tile and we would buy #370 Dove Grey Grout. And when the time came for us to buy the grout (which, oh, by the way, Haddas notified us we would have to do at 4 PM the day before they were going to need it, so we had to leave work early and scramble- OOPSIE!!) we drove to our Friendly Neighborhood Persian Tile Store and said with the great confidence of true believers: “One bag of your finest #370 Dove Grey Polyblend Sanded Grout, Sir- and be quick about it!” And when our Friendly Neighborhood Persian Tile Store didn’t have #370 Dove Grey Polyblend Sanded Grout, we drove post-haste to a Much Much Much Less Friendly Neighborhood Tile Store. There were no spots in the lot so my wife waited in the car double parked while she was yelled at by homeless people (why were there homeless people at a tile store? Because we live in Los Angeles, my friend, because we live in Los Angeles) and I dashed up the steep stairs to the second floor above the showroom, as quickly as I could (it’s not that quickly) ran to the back, dug out a bag of the #370 Dove Grey Grout, bought it mere seconds before the store was to close and ran outside carrying my sacred burden just in time to be yelled at by a crackhead. I’m still not totally sure why.

On the way home we were giddy, exultant, ecstatic even. Finally we knew that something would go right. After all the fuck ups, all the delays, all the OOPSes- here was something that could not be screwed up. For, Lo, we had now in our possession the Sacred Sack of Polyblend Sanded #370 Dove Grey Grout and everything was going to be alright.

The next day at work I couldn’t wait to get home, eager to run inside and see our beautiful new grout on the floor. I burst into the house, ran into the bathroom (there’s far too much running in this story) turned on the lights and saw…..just how terrible it looked. The grout looked nothing like the kitchen floor. The color was all wrong, it was much too light, not grey at all but practically blue. I was enraged- THE FOOLS!!! Somehow they had managed to fuck even THIS up- SURELY this was the result of apocalyptic incompetence- they had diluted the grout so it was much too light, they had not been careful when applying it so dust had gotten mixed in and the color was now wrong, SOMEHOW THEY HAD DESTROYED EVEN OUR PERFECT, UNASSAILABLE , INVIOLABLE MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMN COCKSUCKING POLYBLEND SANDED #370 DOVE GREY GROUT!!!!!! And if you think I overreacted to a little problem with the grout color then FUCK YOU, clearly you’ve never renovated a bathroom before – this shit is LIFE OR DEATH.

A lot of screaming and yelling later, I had made Haddas promise to send Amnon, the foreman, to the house the next day and clean the dust out of the grout because I was CONVINCED that was the problem. The following day, Haddas called me and assured me that he had been there and done it. Once more, I couldn’t wait to get home. Once more burst into the house, ran into the bathroom, turned on the lights and saw….it looked exactly the same. I was devastated. Once more I called Haddas. Once more I said simply terrible things. Once more I demanded that Amnon come back and fix this terrible miscarriage of justice (once more, to be clear I WAS NOT OVERREACTING TO A PROBLEM WITH THE GROUT COLOR. OH GOD, MY HEART. MY HEART. I’m ok.) but this time- I would be there at the house with him to make sure everything went perfectly. Finally, we would have this resolved. Finally, this project would be over and we would be able, once more to SHOWER IN OUR OWN GODDAMN HOUSE.

The next day, I met Amnon at the house. I showed him the hideous grout in the bathroom. I showed him the correct grout in the kitchen. Bathroom. Kitchen. Kitchen. Bathroom. Clearly he could see the difference. Clearly I would be vindicated. I stood back with my arms folded and chin up and waited for him to respond.

He looked at the kitchen floor. He looked at me. He knelt down to get a closer look, thought for a moment and said:

“This isn’t the same color. This is Charcoal, I think.”

The nerve! The impudence! The sheer impertinence of this man speaking to me in this manner! (Sorry, watching Downton Abbey while I write this. It’s making me a little uppidy.)

“It most certainly is the same color” I said. This is #370 Dove Grey. I know it for a fact.”

He didn’t say anything. He just went out to the yard, poured out little bit of the Dove Grey grout into his hand. Mixed it with some water and smeared in between two of the tiles on the kitchen floor.

He was right.

The color was completely different.

We were wrong.

The one thing that we knew absolutely to be true- beyond and shadow of a doubt. The one incontrovertible, unquestioned, 100% certainty that we had been holding on to was wrong.

It sucked a lot.

Fortunately, Amnon had a solution. He could have a guy come the next day, scrape out all of the Dove Grey grout with a knife and Cal Seething- Jan 6- 60put in #60 Charcoal grout instead. He said it would only take a day or so and they would give us a very good price. Not problem.

So- clearly now you can see why I’m so FUCKING happy that 2014 is going to be the Year of No Renovations. After all, we’ve just about finished everything on our list. Except for the doorknob on the closet, for some baffling reason. And lately we’ve been talking about French Doors in the bedroom to the backyard. Well, when I say “we’ve been talking”, my wife brought it up and I collapsed into a fetal position shoved my fingers in my ears and said “la la la la la la la. I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you.” It’s a mature discussion.

But, you know, the bathroom did ultimately come out very well. Despite all the mishaps, the work they did was terrific. And if you are going to get a shower- turns out “hot mop” is the way to go! Maybe we could just, you know, call up Doron to come take a look at the bedroom. Talk about the possibility of French Doors. And that after this discussion, he might price out a couple of different scenarios, and we would figure out the timeframe and create a mutually agreeable schedule. No need to rush into anything.

Aw crap.