Max Lance

Let’s Knock it Off With Slowing Down for the Parking Enforcement Car

parking-enforcement-car

No one wants a traffic ticket. Paying a huge fine is the easiest way to ruin your week and put a damper on other useless stuff you were going to buy. Beverly Hills needs to pay for their homeless removal programs somehow, and the easiest way to do that is with red light cameras and charging people who roll through stop signs with $500 fees.

Even jaywalking in Los Angeles can result in a triple-digit ticket. Because what will make Los Angeles a more walkable city than jaywalking tickets. Those rich Beverly Hills folks need to fund vital civic services like waxing Lamborghinis for rich Persians. The expense of wheeling old people in wheelchairs from retirement homes to delis doesn’t pay for itself. They can’t turn to their tax base for food just as embalmed as the patrons. They need to make up the shortfall with traffic tickets.

While this does make us extremely cautious when we see a police officer, can we please stop slowing down when we see the parking enforcement car? It’s not a real car and we need to stop acting like they’re important. Let’s not dignify the meter maid by coming to a complete stop. We need to collectively agree on eschewing laws when we see the parking enforcement vehicle. If has a cascade of negative effects when we slow down for fake cops.

For starters, you’re annoying everyone behind you by being a slow, cautious citizen when it’s unnecessary. If I came to a full, complete stop at every intersection and drove under the speed limit for a completely unnecessary stretch of time, it’d piss off the procession behind me. Everyone would be honking, flipping me off, and getting out of their cars to walk faster than I drove to yell through my windshield. There’s no difference between doing that when no one is around and doing that when the parking enforcement car is checking district permits. They have no real authority. You don’t need to slow down.

Just because it has sirens doesn’t make it a real cop car. If I picked up a couple strobe lights and super glued them to my roof, I would have the same amount of power as the parking enforcement officer. I could walk around pretending to be a real cop, with my plastic sheriff badge that I got by redeeming skee-ball tickets at the arcade. It doesn’t mean you have to magically become a slow driver when you cut me off 30 seconds earlier just because you saw sirens. You can buy sirens.

On top of inconveniencing everyone, you also grant parking attendants with a sense of power they shouldn’t have. We already have real police officers abusing power every chance they get. They’re shooting unarmed citizens. They’re tazing kids. They’re pepper spraying for sport. They’re starting race riots every day. Do we really need that from people who issue parking fines?

In addition to insane cops shooting people, now those little ticket scanners will double as tasers. Their stupid meter maid hat brims will be sharp as razor blades. They’ll be looking for trouble…along with expired tags. But mostly trouble. All because you decided to obey the law for a bunch of traffic cops, now we’ll get permit parking race riots on top of all the regular police race riots we already have.

The best solution is to put the parking enforcement cops in their place. Not only should we break the law around them, you should rub their meager existence in their faces. When you pass by the parking enforcement car, just leave a giant scratch mark along the entire side of their car. Flip off the meter maid. Drive with two forty’s duct taped to your hands. Then if they say anything just point to the fake siren you stuck to your roof and let them know you can be a pretend-cop too.

Whether it’s a parking permit enforcer, one of those private security fake cop cars, an ordinary schlub who owns a Ford Crown Vic, or one of those senior center fake ambulance shuttles, stop obeying the law around them. We need to take our recklessness back so that we can get where we’re going faster. The only way to do this is by showing them less respect and breaking more laws. It will put them in their place, speed up traffic and prevent race riots, all in the name of moving us forward as a traffic jam and a nation.

Crate and Barrel’s War Tactics Tricked Me Into Their Wedding Registry

crate-and-barrel-registry-gift-presents-wedding

No matter how many gifts you register for your wedding, it’s impossible to come out ahead. The value of gifts never surpasses the cost of the wedding. The smart move is to elope, and then use the savings to buy all the stuff you wanted without imposing on friends. That way you can get all your presents for a discount and set a good precedent for marriage.

There’s no room for logic with wedding planning. Reasoning in the face of tradition is like reading On the Origin of Species to the Pope. There’s no point in arguing about the point of weddings. The point is to just have a wedding and not ask questions. The $51 Billion wedding industry learned clever ways to trick you into following tradition whether you know it or not. It was one of those tricks that landed me in Crate and Barrel on a Saturday at 8 A.M.

There was a long list of places I would’ve rather been that a big box home goods store that early on a weekend. Starting with back in bed. We were registering for household stuff whether I liked it not. Crate and Barrel was the least of a whole lot of evils. It was directly across the street from the apartment and offered a private tour for engaged couples. If I had to register for kitchen mixers with the general public, they would’ve found me smashing decorative plates against designer furniture. “Oh, wow, this sectional was hand-crafted.”

The bland catalog store reeked of captivity. It was all stuff. Expensive stuff. It was the 30s-version of IKEA. In 10 years I’d be dragged into a West Elm. The only difference between Crate and Barrel’s $5,000 sectional sofas and a $200 futon was the futon doubled as a bed without annoying cushion gaps.

They tried sedating me and the other dudes with donuts, bagels and muffins. Maybe if they distracted us with some self-immolation, we wouldn’t rebel against our fates. It was a glimpse into putting on a few hundred pounds to deal with the misery of PTA meetings. We spiked the orange juice and balanced pyramids of pastries on our palms to survive the morning.

The Crate and Barrel rep told us we should register for furniture that cost thousands of dollars. “People do it all the time. You can make it a group gift so your friends can contribute to buy you the present.” I was looking for a throw pillow to press firmly against my face. The few possessions I owned would end up in a crate. I was bent over a barrel.

They showed us the thousands of knives we could buy for our marriage. I didn’t know why every life achievement came with knives. When I graduated college, the only job offer I got was a pyramid scheme to sell knives to couples about to get married.

Just as I was about to ditch the tour, store and registry on principle, the sales rep threw out a casual offer. “If you have a grasp on the store layout, each of you can pick up a gun.”

I wasn’t sure I heard him right. “A gun?”

“That’s right,” the sales rep wheeled out a table of weaponized registry scanners.

“What kind of gun?”

“A super awesome fun gun.”

No. No way were they tricking me into partaking in a wedding registry by offering a gun. Although it did look fun. And everyone else seemed really interested. And he did challenge me to shoot the first target. And it made a really cool sound when he made a direct shot. Fine, give me the gun!

I steadied my nerves. I closed one eye to center on the target. I stood three inches away from the bar code. I depressed my finger, the red laser flashed. The gun beeped and I registered my first target. It was a dish set. The couples and staff cheered. I had blood on my hands.

The fog of war consumed us. Beeps echoed off decorative vases. The cash registers dinged. Screams and shrills overtook the store. When the other guys and I recovered, we didn’t remember the details. We could only survey the damage. There were 74 items on our registry. There were corpses littering the battlefield. There was a scorched Earth of furniture.

It wasn’t my fault. I blamed my superior officer. I was following orders. It wasn’t me. This wasn’t a reflection of who I was. It was the shelling, the propaganda, the endless blitzkrieg of weddings that made me do it.

The humanity and depravity has to end. Now I’m surrounded by stainless steel frying pans, cast-iron grills and crippling post traumatic stress disorder. I wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats. I reach for water and see the Crate and Barrel registry glass that made me pull the trigger. I’m haunted by the memory and sweat through the designer sheets on the bed. Amazed and dismayed at what became of me.

The Trick to Reducing Your Wedding Invitation List is Inviting More Imaginary People

Calamigos Ranch House Seating Empty

Large weddings feel like mash-ups between Donald Trump seminars and corporate synergy conferences. I have to wear pants and a tie on a weekend, which is a crime in its own right. Then I have 30 seconds to see the bride or groom, who I traveled to see in the first place. Meanwhile I’m stuffed between people arguing over today’s real estate market. All to celebrate a change in tax filing with some Facebook posts.

 

Small weddings are difficult to achieve because once invitations are issued, a web of family politics are spawned. “We have to invite the second cousin on my side of the family because your great-niece on your side of the family got a plus-one.” Next thing you know, your significant other is about to send 200 invitations when you want a maximum of 80. The only way to effectively wedding plan is lie, scheme, outflank the enemy, strike first and strategize like a general. It’s the key to a small wedding and successful marriage.

 

If you need your better half to reduce their invitation list then your only choice is deception. There’s no way around it. I understand that wedding planning doesn’t seem the right time to pull fast ones on your spouse, but you need to set a precedent for the future. Yes, it might cause friction in the short-term, but in the long-run it’s the only way to have a successful wedding and healthy, happy marriage.

 

All you need to execute the plan is a slew of imaginary people. Preferably 20-30. Don’t tell your fiancée they don’t actually exist in real life. I know this much lying can be daunting on the cusp of marriage, but you have to overcome the guilt. You have to think of 20-30 people your future spouse never heard of. All you really need is four or five imaginary folks, along with their extended families.

 

They don’t just have to be imaginary. As long as you’re 100% positive that the recipient won’t attend, that’s all that matters. You could invite people who are flat-broke or unable to travel. You could invite people who are protesting over religious reasons. You could also invite people who are no longer alive. As long as you know for sure they can’t make it, they get an invitation. Make sure they’re on the list and your fiancée thinks they’re real.

 

You need to inflate your list by 20-30 people by any means necessary. If you’re facing a gluttony of people, the secret is to invite more people, not fewer, to the wedding. If you increase the list dramatically then your other half will have no choice but to cut down on their side of the aisle. Your partner might gripe, “Do you really need this person,” and you have to insist, “Yes! We grew up ice fishing together,” or some other excuse. Whatever you do, don’t budge on your imaginary people.

 

Fair warning, this might cause a little bit of stress. Your significant other will have to make serious cuts among friends and relatives. All those plus-ones and cousins will be reconsidered. This is exactly what you want, but the fallout can be toxic. The smart thing to do is make up an excuse to leave town. Just say, “It’s a work thing.” The best thing for your relationship in the long-run is to lie about imaginary people being invited and then leave town under auspicious circumstances.

 

Inviting 30 people who can’t attend will force the other person’s hand. If you were to cut people from your own list, then that’d give the other person room to grow. You can’t do that. You have to play offense. You always have to be on the attack. You need to invade their territory and hold ground to the last man. Put your future spouse on the defensive and force your partner to make difficult decisions. Whatever you do, don’t compromise. It’ll get you and your marriage nowhere.

 

With your partner having no other choice, they’ll be forced to reduce their list by 20-30 people as a result of your aggression. The beauty here is that your 20-30 people never existed in the first place. By inviting more people, you were able to get the small wedding you wanted in the first place.

 

If you play defense, you’ll have more people that you don’t want. If you strike first and invite imaginary people, the other person has to cut down. All you need to do is come up with 20-30 people who can’t make it and you’ll magically have a wedding with 60 fewer people. Most important, this is the foundation on which solid marriages are built.

What’s The Acceptable Wait Time for the Trader Joe’s Sample Station?

trader joes sample station

It’s going on 15 minutes now and there is still no sign of the tiny paper cup of chicken curry I’ve been promised by the freezer. This has gone long past the point of insulting or pathetic and now it’s war. If you think the one sample per person limit is being enforced after the wait I’ve committed then you are mistaken.

 

Let’s not keep up this pretense of how long I’ve been standing two feet away from you. All you’re doing is pouring lemon water for people pretending they didn’t just come by for the sample as well. I am not afraid of who I am, so why are you pretending I don’t exist? You are a food barrista in no position to judge me.

 

If you don’t want me to hover, then you shouldn’t offer a free snack in the first place. What did you think was going to happen? I know that I am waiting for one lone chickpea. I know that in this same amount of time spent waiting here, I could’ve bought a bag, gone home, cooked and eaten a full meal, but that’s not what this is about.

 

If it’s a challenge to see who can out-wait whom, trust me, I have all night. If I had anywhere better to be then I wouldn’t be rounding a double digit wait time for the prospect of one shred of coleslaw.

 

Once you pass a certain point of lacking self-respect, there is no solution except for one simple morsel of a solitary baked cashew. Do you want me to put on a charade? That’s fine. I’ll take a few laps through the store. I’ll pretend that I’m actually shopping and not just trying to get a free dinner that will tide me through until my visit tomorrow.

 

Maybe I’ll go peruse the beer section like I’m some sort of hipster connoisseur. “Oh yes, the seven dollar six pack of Laguinitas IPA is the more sophisticated choice than the Red Trolly Ale. What is this? Samuel Adams and Stella Artois? Geez, this Trader Joe’s has really gone corporate.”

 

Now can I come back to the sample station?

 

No, I am not there for a mini cup of lemon water. If I wanted lemon water, I would have camped out in a restaurant, perused a menu while sipping my lemon water and then fled the scene without ordering anything. No matter what you think of me, Trader Joe’s sample station manager, I am always three steps ahead of you.

 

I’ve already grabbed my miniature plastic fork. Yes, I’ve been banging it on your plastic sneeze guard for the last nine minutes. I don’t care how much longer it’s going to take for you to cut the little snippets of chicken fingers, I’m not going anywhere. This should be clear by now.

 

Maybe we can both point out all the other people pretending to hover-not-hover. There’s that older guy who only has a jar of peanut butter in his basket. We all know it’s not getting purchased. He just had a level of guilt to pretend he’s going to buy something before stopping by the sample station. I don’t need such pretenses. You offer Trader Joe’s finest lentils. I’m here to see what you got.

 

Then there’s the mother of three keeping an eye on the sample station behind him. We all know what she’s planning. That’s right, going to try and claim four samples under the pretense that her kids are just as entitled to the sample station as I am. Have they been standing here staring angrily for the past ten minutes? If she even thinks of using sympathy for being a mother to wipe out today’s samples, she’s got another thing coming.

 

And yeah, after I clean out every last morsel of my little paper cut, you better believe I’m doing another lap around the store. You just inspired me to see what this Trader Joe’s is all about. So if I walk down the obscure cereal aisle that’s kinda like a normal grocery store and then happen to stop by the sample station again, y’know what? I might just be hungry.

 

So start serving, get those little tiny samples ready and let’s eat.

The Week Podcast 3.20.2015

The Week Podcast 3.13.2015

The week of March 13th 2015 in two minutes. Republican senators make pen pals with Iran, the secret service fails a driving test and Oklahoma frat boys sing on a bus.

Visiting a Friend’s Baby is the Equivalent of Visiting a Friend’s Mentally-Challenged Penguin

penguin baby costume

An afternoon visiting a friend or family’s newborn is a great way to spend a few hours. You can also have the exact same experience visiting a friend or family’s mentally-challenged pet penguin. There is no difference.

 

It is important to note that a mentally-challenged penguin is just as adorable as a brilliant penguin, except even more so. The mentally-challenged ones are a bit more prone to flopping around in the same way that toddler does in the pursuit of a toy. They try and stand but you can just see it teeter this way and that until the inevitable crash and fall. Both baby and penguin make noises like, “Eeeeararghagawe,” in their abject failures to communicate with the group. It is no coincidence that the word for a herd of penguins is a Waddle. And that applies to the ones with fully-formed mental capacities, let alone mentally-challenged ones.

 

A baby standing, like a mentally-challenged penguin, is similar to trying to balance a chair on its back two legs. Wildly entertaining, a great way to kill a few hours and close to impossible. You think, “Oh man, this is going to be the one, it’s going to happen, yeah, yeah, you did it for a fraction of a second!” And then boom, down it goes.

 

Then there is the mobility. Both baby and mentally challenged penguin lay around on their bellies in a haphazard attempt at transportation. They slide onto their respective stomachs and then hope that inertia will handle the rest.

 

Whether it is a baby’s chubby arms or a mentally-challenged penguin’s slippery flippers, they whirl at their sides like old-school propellers. It is as if they are trying to get just enough wind resistance. Maybe, just maybe, they can swing their arms/fins with enough violence to allow gravity or ice to take over.

 

After that doesn’t work, they look at you with a glazed look on their faces. Do they recognize you as a sentient being? Do they remember you? Do they even know where they are?

 

It is, across the board, insanely adorable, mind-numbingly boring and tremendously stupid. All they need is a little more balance, a hint of muscle strength or, like, six additional IQ points and they would be capable at everything they are trying to achieve. We need to embrace them for their pure idiocy.

 

If we understand that they are here for our entertainment, we can come to terms with them being a fabric of our daily lives. If we are able to do that, then we might be able to enjoy looking at other people’s babies or going to the mentally-challenged penguin enclosure at the zoo.

 

It is important that we nurture other people’s babies and mentally-challenged penguins rather than leave them open to pure ridicule. And I know you might say, “They are here so I can ridicule them and feel better about myself,” but who is the true idiot in that scenario? Yes, probably the penguin or baby still, but just remember that every baby and mentally-challenged penguin is different. They are special and precious and maybe someday, with nurturing care and patience, they could achieve greatness.

How I Hate This Horrible Gluten Allergy that Plauges My Girlfriend And Keeps Her Super Hot

celiacdisease

Curses to this terrible, debilitating scourge of a disease. There aren’t enough words in the most destructive passages of the Holy Bible to convey my hatred for Celiac Disease. Because of this devilish plague that has stricken my beautiful and youthful girlfriend, she is sadly the victim of a disease that makes her super hot. It breaks my heart every day.

 

I wouldn’t wish this disease upon my greatest enemies, let alone my cherished love, with whom I spend every opportunity to admire her super hotness. If it weren’t for her daily struggles having to eat healthy, wholesome, gluten-free foods, I would identify myself as the real victim in this tragedy. Some would say that it’s just as difficult to watch her battle as it is for her to experience the fight itself.

 

Whether it’s beer, pizza, fast food, sandwiches or almost any brand of junk food, I shed rivers of tears that my super hot girlfriend is forced to seek a healthy alternative. While I dine on greasy pizza that rains melted cheese down my chin, I feel the beating heart of tragedy for her dilemma. Because of this plague placed upon her, I am forced to deal with a skinny, healthy hottie with the body of an ageless Goddess.

 

Sometimes I feel as though we, as a couple, are making the sacrifices for people dealing with Celiac Disease, just the same way as Jesus did for humanity’s sins. It is our responsibility to suffer a martyr’s struggle against fattening foods so that awareness shines upon the issue. And just as Jesus Christ before us, the result of this travesty is tight abdominal muscles.

 

I only wish there existed a way to solve this issue, but fighting fire with fire only magnifies the issue. If we stare this gluten issue in the face and consume the sweet nectar of cholesterol and carbohydrates, it quickly backfires in the most literal sense. Such is the evils of gluten. When she consumes the banned substance, her traitorous body reacts in such a violent way that she becomes even skinnier. I have tried numerous times by secretly sneaking gluten into her meals, but the result is always the same. Damn you, Celiac Disease. Damn you.

 

I refuse to allow her suffering to go in vain. Even though her hips and belly stay put while the gluten-eaters we envy get larger and larger, I am a staunch advocate for widening the issue. I urge her, and other women who are plagued by a gluten allergy, to take on other allergies in the cause.

 

If these model-esque, skinny, beautiful women, like the girl who I fell in love with the very first day we met, compliment gluten allergies with lactose intolerance and negative blood-sugar levels, the point will be made. Men will be forced to gaze upon our taut girlfriends who suffer these indignities every day. The pain inflected by our empathy will be overwhelming.

 

We need to address the problem, draw attention to the issue and promote the disease among as many women possible. It is the only way to accomplish real and effective change. Maybe there will be a day that my girlfriend can eat fattening foods again. I fear every single day that such an event will occur at a very distant time from now. Far, far in the future. Until then, we will do what every other victim of Celiac Disease can do. We can only do our best.

When You Rip Someone a New One Online You Should Also Have to Provide a Compliment

captain picard middle finger

The Internet provides the perfect resource to interact with strangers, express your opinions, connect with new friends and learn anything you choose. It is also the greatest opportunity in history to say the most racist, horrible, insulting thing you can think of to a worldwide audience in any language you learned online. Which is fantastic. I think we should keep this ability, but tack on the provision that you should also have to provide a compliment.

 

If you are a 14-year-old gamer, you can still connect via XBox to string the most horrific string of anti-gay slurs to casual video game fans twice your age. But I have a feeling the world would be an incrementally better place if the teenager also said, “Nice hat.”

 

Call me an idealist, a utopian or a dreamer. It sounds like I’m getting soft, but I promise, nothing should be done about the horrific things people say about each other online. Terrible people can still make fake profiles to make people feel popular, then publicly dump them. If you let Internet comments make you that depressed, all the compliments in the world won’t save your sorry ass.

 

But if your long and steady stream of slurs and bigotry were topped with something as simple as, “You have good grammar,” at the very least it would round out the constructive criticism.

 

I can’t post your average Internet comment or review without having my blog banned by WordPress (tragically keeping me away from the millions of dollars my blog generates). And that’s just the average, completely ignoring what the Internet is capable of producing. Your casual 4chan commentator can make the Aristocrats seem like a Disney Earth nature documentary. But I think the world would be a better place if they tagged a racist rant with, “You’re really good at receiving racist rants.”

 

It comes from a selfish place. As a person who creates content and throws it up online, it’s a nice welcome mat for people from all over the world to tell me how horrible I am. I will spend years crafting a book or short film and get it written off by a 10-year-old who says I suck and I’m a retarded pussy. That’s fine. It’s that sort of feedback that makes my work suck less. But the addition of the 10-year-old saying I suck less than my competitor would go a long way.

 

I believe that over time, one compliment for every Internet insult will preserve the web as a terrible place to spend a few hours. But at the very least, people can have a constructive way to give back. Plus it will ensure that content creators will continue producing material that gets eviscerated by pre-teens. For all the assholes out there who suck and are morons and are inbred retards. You generate creative insults.

After We Enact Gay Marriage We’ll Be Running Low On Really Good Stuff to Protest

time travel protest sign

I fully support gay marriage being a constitutional right that’s enacted as soon as possible. Gay marriage is a noble cause and I applaud everyone who fought, protested and lobbied to give couples in same-sex relationships equal rights as heterosexual couples. My only fear is that after we enact same-sex marriage, the list of things left to protest is going to get pretty lame.

 

I’m not trying to take anything away from gay marriage. I just mean that compared to ending slavery, women’s suffrage and the civil rights movement, we’re running really low on good problems we need to fix. The previous generation fought for equal pay in the workplace, women’s rights and the end of the Jim Crow era. The generation before that fought across Europe to prevent the spread of Imperialism. The generation before them gave the vote to women. What are we going to have after gay marriage? Exactly.

 

As it stands right now, we’re left protesting wealth inequality and sex slaves overseas. The protests are already starting to blow. Occupy Wall Street turned into an adult version of a college drum circle. It had nothing on the sit-ins from the civil rights movement. Back in the Jim Crow south, nonviolent protesters were sprayed with water cannons. Now we have a trust-funder with dreadlocks who wants to legally smoke pot in the financial district. Protests are only going to go downhill from there.

 

If we keep clearing civil rights at a steady clip then future generations are going to have a sorry lot of available protests. There will be movements to let people marry the robot they made in their garage. Violent clashes to give flying cars the right of way. Marches in the street to ensure transgender people can have their own bathrooms. Are they good causes? Yes. Are they good protests? Lame, lame, lame.

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