Monday, April 26, 2010

International Food Festival

This past Saturday was Elisabeth’s bridal shower.

As father of the bride, I was told, one of my duties was to entertain the male guests who were not invited to the shower. The party, in addition to me, would consist of Alex, the groom, his brother, Anthony, and Charlie, husband of the shower hostess.

There were two problems with this mission: we live in the Land of Nothing to Do; and my idea of a good time is to pull my aluminum lawn chair curbside and wave at passing motorists.

I took to the local papers and internet in search of anything other than a Gentleman’s Club that would occupy four males of disparate ages for several hours. Bingo! I saw in the paper that the nearby town of Washington, NJ was having an “international food festival.” Kathie was skeptical. “Washington?”, she said. “It has to be lame.” I had to admit that locally Washington is known more as a tattoo destination, than a hub of fine dining.

She advised Alex and Anthony who had visions of sampling exotic cuisines and maybe even some beers to “put the whole Feast of San Gennaro thing out of your head” and to think more of a hot dog vendor and few kids selling Girl Scout cookies.

With high hopes and appetites, we headed for Washington. The first hint that things might not be too festive food-wise after all was the total lack of drool inducing aromas wafting toward us as we approached the blocks on the main street that had been designated for the event.

We walked the first block and did not encounter a morsel of any description amid the vendors of junk jewelry and cheap craft items. Suddenly, I was approached by an enormous young woman on roller skates with purple hair and wearing a tutu that made her look like one of the dancing hippos in Fantasia. “Can I interest you in roller derby?”, she inquired. I feared that if I said yes, she would hip check me through the antique store window. "I can't skate," I replied and kept moving.

Things started to look up when we passed a little shop that was having a “Pierogi tasting.” We decided not to waste precious stomach space on this, but to hold out for better fixings which were sure to come.

On the next block, we came to a booth manned by an angry looking old gent that was selling militia apparel (“Maybe this is where the Tea Partiers gear up,” I suggested.), several tattoo artists and some young women selling cats. I feared for the poor kitties, since it seemed that most of our fellow gourmets had pit bulls in tow who would definitely consider a plump Persian international food.

Still no food vendors. I began to think that Kathie was overly optimistic about that hot dog wagon.

Soon we were done. Aside from the Pierogi place, there was not one thing to eat at the “international food festival.” What were the organizers thinking? “ I thought I saw a pizza place a few blocks back. Does that count?”, Alex inquired. “I suppose so,” I said. “There was also a Subway back there and I guess you could always get Swiss cheese on your Italian sub.” “Maybe it was a typo and they meant to say ‘international foodless festival’”, Anthony ventured.

Disappointed and starving we went to the Brew Pub on the way home which was as advertised.

Friday, April 16, 2010

On Assignment

A week or so ago, I responded to a listing on seeking free-lance writers.

I was required to submit a writing sample which, according to the listing, would be reviewed by the editors. I would be contacted if I was accepted. Despite the fact that I submitted one of these essays, I was hired.

I was sent to a web site where I was required to provide bio info, etc., and instructed that I should browse through the thousands of assignments available, claim the ones in which I was interested, begin writing and commence raking in the bucks.

The client list on the site included some well-known and heavily trafficked web sites. The downside is my new employer pays a whopping $7.50-$15 per article. Undeterred by this paltry pay, I decided the best strategy was to plow through the assignment list and select topics that I could write about without wasting a lot of not-so-precious time on research.

I have now struggled through 38 pages of assignments and learned that, despite being a resident alien on this planet for 65 years, I know nothing about anything.

I didn’t know where to begin with “What is a Flaring Block for Through Hall Transducers?”

The only thing I could contribute to “How to Open a Snowball Business” was to suggest refrigerated delivery trucks.

I spent and hour with scissors and paper trying to figure out “How to make a 3D Paper Reindeer” only to come a cropper on the goddamned antlers every time.

If I could write a learned essay on “How to Get Rich in the Stock Market”, would I really need the $7.50?

I will venture a guess on “What is a Crotch Cricket”: A rare sex disorder that causes your sex organ to chirp when you rub your legs together?

Do I really want to go down in history as the author of “The History of the Wrestling Mat?

It’s a sobering thought that much of the “content” that we all depend on when we Google some important question in our lives is written by desperate, under-paid writers trying to research and crank out three articles an hour so they can earn the same hourly wage as plumber’s assistant.

Oh, boy. At last one I can handle: “How do Bread Boards Work?”