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Category: Potential New Careers

Potential New Career: Nation-Touring, Ferrari-Driving Crime-Solver

Potential New Career: Nation-Touring, Ferrari-Driving Crime-Solver

Despite all the free iPad hoopla, the ole blog-writing motivation is sitting at dangerously low levels. All the social networking, the typing – the apparently death-accelerating sitting – it’s just getting to be too much.   So I’m back to reviewing my options.  Some recent toenail issues have greatly reduced my chances of foot modeling, and setting up a food cart in NYC is about as novel an idea in 2010 as starting a blog was in 2009.  Sure, I’ve still got consumer advocate chops, but with emergence of all the Trader Joe’s in NYC, fair prices abound, and Gristedes – the Moriarity to any consumer advocate of merit – will likely be bankrupt in six months.  (I did have some interest in being the End-of-Line Identifier at Trader Joe’s – the person who holds up a stick with a sign that says “Line Starts Here” since the lines generally weave throughout the entire store – but, sadly, at the one that just opened in my hood, the stick was just leaning against the wall.  Orderly lines prevailed, not wildly weaving lines, so no need for the stick or the EOTLI himself.)

So I’ve had to consider other potential opportunities.  One area of interest for me has always been crime-solving – particularly the work of the great detectives, like Columbo or Batman.  I’ve always wanted to own an Italian car as well, so combining the two seems natural.  I could drive around the country solving crimes and meeting new people in the relative anonymity of a Ferrari.  I’ve even decided on my catch phrase: “Well what have I gotten myself into now?  It’s gonna be a chilly week in Miami.”  When I say “chilly” I’ll put a little extra emphasis combined with a slight Steve Austin eyebrow raise.  I might also try to work “seventeen” in all the time, as kind of a second partial catch phrase, more like a signature line.

Example repartee:

Crime victim:  “Chilly, have you ever seen this before?”

Me:  “Only about seventeen times.”


Cmon, Magnum - you gotta step up your caliper game!


This all might sound a little Magnum, PI-ey to you, but there are some key differences between me and Thomas Magnum:

  1. Although we are both Naval Academy graduates, I was a submarine officer; Magnum was a SEAL
  2. Magnum had a bushy mustache; mine is pencil-thin
  3. Magnum drove a Ferrari 308 GTS; I’m going for a tasteful 360 Spider (yes, I realize that is now 2 generations old, but I somewhat prefer the 360 to the 430 and the new one is unrealistic unless I can convince 100,000 people to buy a new tractor via my Amazon link)
  4. Magnum’s car didn’t have yellow brake calipers; mine will
  5. Magnum wore a Rolex GMT Master; I wear a Ralex Sunmariner (just as good and much cheaper)
  6. Magnum lived a static life in Hawaii; I will live a dynamic life, visiting a new city every week, and hopefully meeting interesting people like Jon Lovitz and Sela Ward
  7. Magnum received income from an unseen benefactor; I’m hoping to get cash money from people whose crimes I’ve solved
  8. Magnum drinks Coops Beer; I prefer Yellow Tail Cab/Shiraz blend
  9. Magnum has never seen even one episode of The Wire; I have seen every episode of The Wire
  10. Magnum is fictional; I am real (if pseudonymous)

While I still have some pondering to do, there are a few drawbacks to the plan that I can see in the early stages:

  1. SO has expressed little interest in investing $80k in the joint venture that would own the car.  Not sure what the concern is, I’m gonna kick in the rest and then she will surely get most all of that back when the car is sold.  It’s pretty much zero risk.  (I would handle it all myself, but I’m having some cash flow problems.  Actually, to be more accurate, I’m having some cash inflow problems.  Outflows are going strong.)
  2. Despite planning on majoring in criminology during my first college stint (GPA: 0.00), I have little experience in solving crimes, other than identifying who ate the last fruit rollup or who is violating the rules of the gym.
  3. By most accounts, the Ferrari 360 is pretty uncomfortable during long haul rides, so I will have to carefully plan my itinerary.

I’m gonna go get some books on detectiving,



Potential New Career: Consumer Advocate

Potential New Career: Consumer Advocate

Since I prefer to remain shrouded in the anonymity of the internet, allow me to reveal a few incontrovertible facts about myself:

1.  I am lazy

2.  I eat Mexican food approximately 83% of the time

3.  I have limited cash flow coming in (unless people are rolling a lot of 5s and 9s or my poorly constructed and executed trading plans are squeezing out a couple nickels)

4.  I am pretty fucking picky about my salsas – despite having tried over 11,000 different kinds, there are currently only two I’ll purchase at the store: Arriba Hot (good for tacos) and Frontera Chipotle (good for burritos).

(Disclaimer: this is not a contradiction of what I said here, salsa is a basic food group, not a condiment)

So knowing these facts, you will understand my consternation/frustration with my local grocery store for charging the astonishing price of $7.99 for a jar of Arriba salsa – it contravenes almost all of the important facts I established at the top of this page!  This has been an ongoing battle, one that I thought I had finally won (and even commemorated in song) recently when they hung a sign (larcenously) proclaiming that $5.99 was the new everyday low price.

Fast forward to last (Taco) Thursday, when I was at Gristedes, our local grocery store, very early due to the SA jet lag….I saw the tag on the aisle said $7.99, but I was confident that the salsa would ring up at the still-high-but-okay-due-to-convenience price of $5.99.

Wrong.  $7.99.  I went fucking apoplectic, demanding to speak to the manager, raging about how the local bodega charges $4.99 and just generally acting dickish….the manager was extremely helpful and confirmed that the price was $7.99 due to the fact that’s what the tag on the aisle said.  Thanks, bro.  Excellent work.  I was in a pinch, salsa-wise, so I made my purchase but vowed not to return until the situation had been resolved to my satisfaction.

Did I go home and stew in my anger?  Yes, for a moment.  Then I sprang into action.  I took that most drastic of measures: I wrote an email to customer service.   Might I become the Ralph Nader of a new generation?  Judge for yourself.


—–Original Message—–

From: Chilly Seventeen []

Sent: Saturday, August 15, 2009 11:46 AM

To: ConsumerAdvocate

Subject: Extremely High Prices on Salsa

Hello – I frequent the Gristedes on 8th between x and y streets and wanted to ask a question about the price of Arriba salsa.  How can a jar of salsa be $7.99????  At the bodega down the street, when they have Arriba, the price is $4.99!  Isn’t Gristedes supposed to be the local grocery store, with ostensibly lower prices?  This seems like a mistake, and recently there was a sign saying “Arriba Salsa everyday price now $5.99.”   Now it is back to the ridiculous $7.99. (And thank heavens that I don’t like Desert Moon Salsa – you have that listed at $8.99!?!?)

I have spoken to two different managers about this and the response has been “sometimes our prices are higher.”  Okay, I’ll pay a little bit for convenience, I guess, but an 80% markup over a bodega?  No way.  I will not shop at Gristedes again until someone can satisfactorily explain this pricing to me.  My suspicion is that there is a mistake at our store and they have not fixed it despite my repeated inquiries.

Thanks, Chilly

—–Original Message—–

RE: Extremely High Prices on Salsa‏

From: Joe Grocery (

Sent: Mon 8/17/09 9:11 PM

To: Chilly Seventeen (

Dear Mr. Seventeen,

We have lowered the salsa retail to $5.99.  We checked our cost which based on the amount we purchase from the vendor.  Thank you for your email, and hope it somewhat helps.


Joe Grocery

Senior Executive Director of Groceries and Salsas


Victory is fucking mine.  Finally.  (Some names have been changed to protect the non-innocent)  This was not my first customer service battle of 2009.  I’ve had some major disputes with various airlines.  One stupid-assed airline, which shall go unnamed, refused to give us the $800 in vouchers they promised for involuntarily bumping us from a flight from the DR on Jan 4th.  After a vicious email/vmail assault (following a series of lies and inaction on their part) I was given $3200 of vouchers by the airline that shall not be named lest they figure out their mistake.  I assume it wasn’t just a random act of kindness, since they gave two $800 vouchers to Chilly Seventeen and two $800 vouchers to Illy Seventeen.  Fuck them, they lied to me about the max voucher being $400 so serves them right.


—–Original Message—–


Sent: 22 Jan 09 17:42:26

To: <>>

Subject: Airport Experience

Submitted: 1/22/2009 5:42:17 PM


Hello – I had some travel difficulties last week and would like to receive the $400 vouchers that were offered. I have spoken to customer service a few times today – Jessica Gardner in Salt Lake at 4:30 PM EST and a supervisor Susan Hernandez at 4:50; Susan put me on hold and i was disconnected.  Subsequently I called and gave my phone number and Susan was to call me back but i haven’t heard from her to this point.

My record locator for the trip in question is XR8GVS . I was traveling with my girlfriend, Significant Other, and we have both traveled extensively on business with Continental. We got to the airport much later than expected because there was a man wandering in the Holland tunnel, and our 20 minute commute took over 50 minutes.  I had a boarding pass and Sig had gotten a seat assignment the night before, she just needed to scan her passport.  We got inside a few minutes before 5:00 am and proceeded to the auto checkin terminal (we were checking no bags). As Sig scanned her passport, she was asked if she would like the $400 voucher as the flight was overbooked.  She declined the offer, and then the machine hung up and we were directed to the counter.  The first 3 people at the counter were no help, merely offering “you’re late, there’s no way we can help you,” even though there was no security line and we had confirmed seats.  I gave up my seat because I couldn’t leave my girlfriend to travel alone. The continental desk proceded to schedule us for travel the next day, which wasn’t going to work for a 3 day trip. So I had us routed to Cancun, where we took a taxi and ferry to cozumel, arriving at 11:00 PM rather than 11:30 AM.

Granted, we were somewhat late arriving, but there were some factors beyond our control.  We encountered little help and a fair amount of rudeness from the Continental workers (but ultimately there were two ladies later in the day who were pretty helpful – if we had encountered them at 4:58 am i wouldn’t be typing this missive!).  I think it’s only fair that we receive the two $400 vouchers as we missed an entire day of our vacation and with a little help from Continental early in the day it could all have been avoided. i understand your counter workers have a tough job, but how about a little kindness and compassion for your customers instead of rudeness and casual dismissal?

Please contact me at xxx-xxx-xxxx to further discuss.


—–Original Message—–



Subject: RE: Airport Experience

Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2009 11:28:16 -0600

Dear Mr. Seventeen:

You are a valued Elite member of our OnePass program and we strive to meet your travel needs at all times. When we don’t succeed we take it very seriously.

I was sorry to learn of the disappointing experience you and Ms. Other had when you trying to travel to Cancun. I understand how frustrating it must have been as your vacation was just planned for a few days.  When you arrived delayed for your flight, you were fine because you had a seat assignment and boarding pass. When Ms. Other arrived, she didnt have a boarding pass.  The machine recognized that the flight was oversold and asked her if she wanted to volunteer and of course she said no.  When she denied the compensation she is not entitled to the denied boarding compensation.  She placed herself in a position to be denied boarding when the check in time was late for the international flight.

I understand your dilema when you volunteered to get off the flight to accompany her another flight and were not given compensation as you should have been for volunteering.  I will forward to you by separate email, the $400.00 Electronic Travel Certificate you should have received at the airport as a customer service gesture.  Technically, you volunteered on your own as our flight did go out with one empty seat but because we value you as a customer I am forwarding that to you.  I would like to assure you that your concerns have not gone unnoticed. I have registered them in an internal report that is shared with our senior management.  Our management staff uses the information that we receive from our customers to improve the service we offer to each of our customers.

We appreciate your business.


Donna Smith

Customer Care Manager

—–Original Message—–

Sent: 23 Jan 09 20:12:09
To: <>
Subject: RE: Airport Experience

Donna – I appreciate your quick response. However i am still frustrated by the overall experience – if the machine had not delayed Sig to give the option for the voucher, she would have had her boarding pass and we would have made the flight no problem.  Granted we were much later than we had hoped due to circumstances beyond our control (homeless person walking in Holland tunnel), but there was ZERO security line (at 5:01 AM) and we would have easily made the flight.

We are both experienced travelers, travel extensively internationally for work, and have been devoted Continental fans for years. In my opinion, lack of help from the Continental workers at the counter cost us one full day of our 3 day trip to Mexico. Although two $400 vouchers won’t remotely repay the inconvenience we experienced (and I understand that our late arrival was the root cause, but could have been easily overcome by even a base level of CUSTOMER SERVICE) I would appreciate it as a goodwill gesture.  If you cannot accomodate due to rigid internal practices/regulations I understand – but we will cease to spend time/energy to make sure we overcome our own internal practices/regulations to make sure we fly Continental business class to Athens every 2 months, rather than Olympic or Delta.

Thanks, Chilly

—–Original Message—–

RE: Airport Experience‏


Sent: Sat 1/24/09 5:27 PM


Dear Mr. Seventeen:

Thank you for responding so quickly to my recent email.

Mr. Seventeen, I agree with you optimum customer service should 
always be extended to our customer, and we absolutely respect your 
perception that the service you received was unsatisfactory.

Mr. Seventeen, yes you are correct there are rigid controls that 
prohibit giving Ms. Other an Electronic Travel Certificate when it shows
late international check in.

But because I value you as a Elite member of our OnePass program
and some travel irregularities are extraordinary in nature. I will be sending
along a $400.00 Electronic Travel Certificate to her through your email
address as we did not have one on file for her. All the rules and restriction
will be carefully printed on the certificate.

Continental Airlines employees are committed to providing you an 
excellent travel experience. We appreciate yours and Ms. Other’s business and 
look forward to serving you both in the future.


Donna Smith
Customer Care Manager

Note the exquisite attention to detail – exact names and times – the vividness of the description veritably brings the story to life.  Can you find the bluff in this exchange?  This was quite a battle, but the situation was seriously fucked up – how often are people walking around in the Holland Tunnel at 4:30 AM?  Continental ultimately did the right thing, but it was an epic struggle.

This type of work might involve a little too much selflessness, assuming I expand my crusades beyond those that are merely personally enriching.  It might also require too much, you know, work.  I had to write several emails for those fucking vouchers…If only there was a professional nap-taking league, or lucrative careers in magazine-reading?  I continue to dream…


Reassessing My Life’s Goal

Reassessing My Life’s Goal

Yeah, goal, singular.  I’m too tired to multitask this kind of stuff.  More on that in a minute.  I need to spend a second complaining about how fucking sore my legs are – this is very likely critical information for both the casual and hardcore reader of this site.  I had a goal of running 100 miles this month, which is a pretty modest, but complicated somewhat by taking off ten more days off than I’d planned. I still have 26 miles to go.  At least after tomorrow I can go down to five milers if I want.  Standing up for 13 straight hours Monday didn’t help matters much, but at least the Red Bull is wearing off – the seizures are coming less frequently now.  I still live in fear of the fucking calf cramps that are only an awkward movement away.

Couple of other things – kudos to the lady who set the craps record at the Borgata.  But where the hell was she when I needed her?  Have to imagine if she rolled that many times that the aggressive bettors took down somewhere in the neighb of $200k – $300k.  Not bad for four hours.  Also, I have to give props to the Greyhound ride that we had to resort to last night.  Granted, waiting for the bus at the AC train stati0n is one of the least desirable fates in the world (unless you are a traveling circus recruiter), but the ride itself clocked in at two hours and fifteen minutes.  That’s faster than the fucking “train service” that inexplicably does not run on Mondays (but will be happy to drop you off at 2:00 AM Monday morn just in case you are looking to spend 4-5 days in beautiful Atlantic City).  The bed-n-meth bender places there are divine.

Anyhoo, back to my reassessment.  As I alluded to yesterday, I really needed to stop and take a look at where my life was headed.  I’m using past tense here because I did stop, I did take a look and I did reevaluate my plan.  As you might recall from my first real post, one in which I didn’t even know how to post a picture (semi) properly, I vocalized my seemingly lofty long-term plan to use this website as a springboard to full-time punditry.  Preferably at VH1, the El Dorado for undertalented comics/writers/models with a snarky take on pop cultural events.

But was I selling myself short with such a goal?  I, someone who had achieved a measure of average-to-below-averageness in a wide range of career paths?  Someone who had lapped at the golden trough of The Street (only to later become lodged under The Street’s urinal cake)?  And did punditry even offer a significantly greater long-term outlook than my other failed efforts?  For every Aisha Tyler, there’s probably ten Patrice O’Neals.  Who’s Patrice O’Neal?  He’s the dude who looks like former Knick and Hornet Larry Johnson, and who parlayed his VH1 gigs into a slot as one of the factory guys on The Office.  Where’s he at now?  Looks like he got some voice work on Emmy candidate Assy McGee, but fame/fate’s fickle hands bestowed all Office factory goodness on Craig Robinson.  Where’s Michael Ian Black these days?  Shooting web videos and guesting on Reaper?  I’m not sure that’s a better place in the world than anonymous internet hack/Yellow Tail connoisseur.  (And, by the way, “connoisseur” is pretty tricky to spell, even for someone who won his school’s spelling bee in fifth grade.  But let’s not discuss how the Tulsa citywide-bee went – damn you “obscured”!  You should have two r’s!)

I’ve decided I need to pursue something that provides signficant subsistence opportunities at all points in the economic cycle.  An occupation where I can leverage my pop culture knowledge and the writing skills I’m honing on this very website.  The chance to work with a diverse mix of forward-thinking intellectuals from across the social strata.  A career path that allows for both financial and spiritual growth – not just mad scrilla with no emotional or philanthropic fulfillment.  There’s really only one job I can think of that captures all these elements and would likely allow me to continue spending 15-16 hours a day sitting on my couch.  I am going to become a featured rapper.

ianblack patrice-oneal2



         From Pundits to Pundidn’ts?






If you are reading this blog, there’s a pretty good chance you are white, so you may be unfamiliar with this career choice.  Let me translate into something more digestible for those of you in this category: let’s say you are a contractor building a house: setting the foundation, putting up the frame…actually I don’t know much housing lingo, so you’re the guy who turns the bricks, concrete, lumber, etc into a fucking house.  You do everything but put up the mailbox, you have a specialist who does that.  The mailbox guy is like the guest rapper – he does like 0.2% of the work but gets outsized credit if the mailbox is extremely noteworthy, taking the house to a whole new level.  Shit, that might’ve been a weak metaphor or whatever.  Let’s say you’re a gigolo (or a prostitute for the three female readers of this blog: hi Mom!), you take some shriveled octogenarian out to a nice dinner, maybe some dancing (you’re no common whore), set the stage and everything.  You start sexing it up real good with the old bag, even holding in your vomit until just before the climactic/possible cardiac event.  Then someone steps in to finish the job.  See – that’s also the guest rapper there, the guy who finishes the deal.  Metaphorically, he will get significant credit for a job well done and little blame for a shitty job.  Doesn’t have to do as much dirty work, but still gets paid.   Is the tableau complete now for all my white readers?

There’s always a market for guest rappers – some songs might have seven or eight “featured” artists on each song.  I believe Lil Wayne alone has been featured on something like 4700 songs.  And you don’t have to do much as the “main” rapper has okayed the beat, chorus, pentameter and all those other musical things (so I’m not a contractor and know little about music, why do you think I’m writing this stuff instead of being constructive in some way?)  But, importantly, the featured rappers apparently get to write their own lyrics – that’s fucking sweet!  Hopefully I’ll be able to start with something with a pop vibe, where my ghetto sound will give it a little crossover appeal.  (My voice sounds very similar to the crack whores on The Wire, so I know my style is gonna be legit)  And I know most of the latest slang, since I listen to a lot of Cameo, Boogie Boys and UTFO.  Word.  Fingers crossed that I can get something done with Lady Gaga, on her next socially-conscious album.  I’m already pondering what rhymes with “rain forest.”  I’m thinking “Al Gore-fest,” since that dovetails pretty nicely with the whole global warming sitch.  (That’s slang for “situation”)

So I will still be working hard at this blog; as occasional featured rapper Eminem has proven, timely, satirical jabs at pop culture targets is all the rage in the rap world.  Watch out Speidi, I’m just waiting to spit some hot fire your direction.  Plus, in this bizarro world of rap, there really aren’t any featured rappers who are 40+ year old white guys with MBAs, so I think I will have a certain corner of the market locked up from the onset.  Like, if Fat Joe has a track about Black-Scholes, I will be a logical candidate to throw down some lyricism (“For those with a mathematical persuasion, it starts with a partial differential equation”).  I can go all day.  Let me (for like the eighth time) take us out with the greatest featured rapper debut in history, one that changed the annals of hip-hop, gin consumption and adding -izzle to every word, forever.