Thanks to the generous heart of my dear Aunt Ida, I have a hefty collection of gift cards. Yester-eve, I decided to use one of them, the most beloved, by having dinner with another dear, my Emily.

It must be killing you to know where we went, and I don’t want you to die, so I’ll tell you. Applebee’s, America’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill. But we did not go to just any Applebee’s. No, Emily and I chose to go to the most evil of all Applebee’s, the one in Times Square.

Times Square, if you ask me (and you are asking me, since you’re reading this), is the most gnarly, godforsaken place in all of New York City. Each time I go there, it is by force or mistake. Times Square is where talent goes to die; where wax goes to be made into Kim Kardashian. So, of course, Emily and I decided to “keep it classy,” according to her text, and eat at this particular Applebee’s location.

We were greeted by a Russian hostess (obvi) upon entering, and she sat us at a booth for eight people. This made me think I should order from the Weight Watchers menu (but we’ll get to that later). Once we were seated, Emily and I saw the CUTEST Chinese boy celebrating his third birthday with his mom and dad (his construction paper crown informed us of said celebration). Everything was quite adorable, until his mother popped in a pair of earbuds and either started talking on the phone or singing Ke$ha on her iPod. It was hard to tell.

After we got over the cute situation (it took longer than you might expect), we opened our menus. The restaurant should have had a sign outside reading “Baller$ Only,” because most items on the menu were $20-$30. . At Applebee’s! If I wanted to spend $30 at dinner, I’d go to a real restaurant. I almost left on principle alone, but I had my gift card, so I stuck it out.

Finally, I decided on the tilapia with rice and veggies from the “I Don’t Want to Get Fat” menu, mainly because it was one of the cheaper options. Emily chose the Paradise Salad, which should have been called the Purgatory Salad, because she kept saying things like “Gross,” and “I don’t understand what I’m eating.” After eating, the waiter brought our bill, which was just under $40. $40 for weirdish food at a restaurant that exists in midwestern strip malls. All we could do, of course, was laugh.

I threw down my gift card and a $20, and the waiter walked off. He returned with the receipt and a $5 bill. It took the two of us a second to notice that jerk had shorted me 52 cents, but at this point, what were we going to do?

“Do you want to come back next week,” I asked Emily as we put on our coats.

“I was thinking tomorrow!” she said.

Eating at the Times Square Applebee’s was probably the worst dining experience of my life, simply because it didn’t make any sense. I could have bought 10 Cheep’s falafels for the price I spent on my meal, and I would have had better service and ambiance. If ever I am invited to eat there (or any in Times Square, for that matter), I will remember this occassion and dodge disappointment. If a guy says, “I’ll marry you, if we can go that Applebee’s in Times Square next week,” I’ll say, “I’m leaving you.” If a puppy says, “I’ll give you a cookie and let you watch a puppy race, if you go to the Times Square Applebee’s,” I’ll say “Shut up,” and “Why are you talking, puppy?” If a gangster holds a glock to my temple and says, “Take me to the Applebee’s in Times Square,” I’ll say my Hail Marry’s and call it a life.


The Real Cake Boss

There are a few people in the world who were born to be ballers. I’m not talking about celebrities, who are in a position to ball out of control, flashing their dolla dolla bills in the rest of our poor, pathetic faces. No, I’m referring to ordinary citizens who just have that bossy gene. Today, my lovely roommate Caitlin introduced me to one of those born ballers, and I’d like for you to meet her.

Why you mad, Chidi?

Meet Chidi Ogbuta. Chidi lives in Dallas, TX and has been married for 10 years. This is Chidi with her husband at their vowel renewal ceremony. But wait, you may be thinking. Does Chidi have a twin sister who is horrible and wore a wedding dress to her sister’s vowel renewal? No, dummy. That is a lifesized replica of Chidi in the form of a delicious cake. Baller!

One of my favorite things about Chidi is her look of discontent. I mean, this cake looks as much like her as it probably could, but check out her face. She’s clearly upset because they made her a shade darker. Don’t be mad, Chidi. They just used that expensive dark chocolate instead of milk, and your skin looks so smooth and good! Besides, this isn’t even your real wedding, girl. Calm down. And clearly no one showed up, so who cares? You and your husband should just go home, slice that baby up, put it in some Ziploc bags and be done with it. You’ll be eating that dress for months.
I think that “borrowing” ballin’ ideas like this is fair game, so don’t be surprised if you see a cake of me at my wedding. (I heard that, and it’s not necessarily true. I might get married. Mom said.) In the off chance that I do not get married, I will just have a lifesized cake made of myself for other momentus occasions, such as my 30th birthday or surving a mean bout of kidney stones.
 In any case, I want my cake to look much better than I actually do. I’ll just send the baker a picture of Beyonce along with a very small and airbrushed picture of myself. There will be a note attached that says “You know what to do,” which will be ironic, as the baker has no idea what to do in such a strange situation. Anyway, the cake will end up looking like a weird “If they mated” version of B and me, and I will choose my party/wedding dress based on what the cake is wearing. People will not be allowed to eat the cake, of course. It’s too good for that. I’ll have seven Entenmann’s cakes on hand for the hungry masses, and they’ll be upset, but they’ll get over it when I strike my pose next to the Me cake.
Chidi, I’d like to thank you for inspiring me, and the world, to live a little outside our means and spend hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars on cakes that look like ourselves.


Loser. (Also, that's Jason Biggs)

As a few of you know, I decided on December 1, 15 days before the application was due, to apply to the Columbia University School of Journalism, one of the best graduate schools for journalism in the country. Well, I am hear to announce that yesterday, I got my rejection “letter.”

The rejection actually came in electronic form, as it is the future. First, I got an email informing me that my decision was posted on my Columbia page. I was to click on the link within the email to get to the page. I had to dig through my emails to find my PIN number before logging onto said page. Once I got to the page there was a link to my decision letter. By that time I was rather antsy and needed to blow off some steam, so I went for a jog. After the jog I did some crunches and 10 push ups. Then I clicked on the link, and it was like “DENIED!” I was like, “Rude.”

There are a number of reasons why I have not been admitted. It could be the haste in which I completed my application, my lack of experience, or my epic failure of the writing test. You see, the writing test was an hour long test of the applicants’ writing skills and knowledge of current events. If current events meant occurences featured in People magazine, I might have had a shot, but I think Columbia was thinking more “New York Times,” and I was very confused. One of the prompts was: List the top 10 current events of 2010, and explain the siginificance of each event. I was good through about seven, but then I got desperate. For number 10 I wrote: “Betty White makes a comeback,” and this is not a joke.

I was feeling pretty down yesterday. In actuality, I don’t think I would want to attend (or be able to afford) Columbia’s program at this point in my life, but I just like winning, and I don’t like not winning. My immediate reaction was to text a few of my friends who were also applying to grad school and had been inquiring about my situation. To all of them I simply texted: Rejected, and got responses to the tune of “I’m so sorry,” “You should’ve gotten in,” and “They made a huge mistake.”

 These texts got me wishing I’d told more people so as to receive more flattering sympathy, but it was entirely too late. I also considered forwarding these texts to the Dean of Admissions to see if I could sway him, but decided against it when I remembered that I am lazy.

I also considered sending more pathetic texts like, “And I don’t have a boyfriend :(” for a different ego boost. The “You’re so pretty,” “You have a great personality,” arena, but it was late, and I didn’t have time to stay up staring at my phone for hours.

So I went to bed, and woke up, and had a semi-crappy day, but it was over at 7pm. I didn’t have any research to do or papers to write. I made myself some delicious stir-fry (using Trader Joe’s Soyaki Sauce, a taste like no other!), and now I’m writing this blog. If I had to carry a Columbia courseload, I wouldn’t be able to do these things, so I think that my rejection means we all win. Especially Betty White (I mean, What a comeback!).

Farewell Facebook

As many of you have heard, I will be abandoning Facebook for my annual, non-religious, yet uber-strict, observance of Lent. I have come to the conclusion that it is time the godforsaken site and I take a “break.” Basically, your recent pics just aren’t grabbing my attention, and with the decline of the “Poke,” I don’t really know what the point is. Additionally, it seems that since obtaining an iphone, I find it impossible to ever not be on Facebook. So I have decided to turn in my cyber life and attempt to develop a “real” one. And that is that. Come Wednesday, I’m chuckin’ up the deuces.

Please remain calm. Despite the fact that I will not be on Facebook for 40 long days and nights, it will still be possible to contact me. How?, you ask. Well, there are several ways.

Cellular telephone: in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. I do not have one of those. I have a cellular (or mobile) phone. A cellular phone is portable. It allows people not only to speak with one another, but also to text—a less persona,l and thus preferred, mode of communication.

Email: Sure, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, but Al Gore created the internet. Where’s his movie with  Justin Timberlake as a supporting character? With the advent of the internet came the advent of email, a unique new way to receive information. Email is like a mailbox that you don’t have to stand up and walk to. It is much more convenient than snail mail, although it can often cause confusion with annoyances like “Reply All,” “CC,” and “BCC” (because I have to know who else knows what I just found out. I have to know).

Singing telegram: This is my preferred mode of communication, although no one has ever obliged me. If you send me a singing telegram, you are officially granted immunity. I will love you forever. I might even marry you. And then divorce you (requesting by way of singing telegram, of course).

Yes please! 😀

Face-to-face: This is my least preferred means of communication, and if I can avoid it, I will. Generally this sort of interaction would need to be arranged by one of the above methods, and if you can swing it, this means I really like you. Like, you’re my friend. For realsies.

So there you have it. If you need to contact me between now and Easter (by which point I will have met hundreds of people in the real world), please use one of the aforementioned methods. And of course, I will continue to update The Lo Down, to keep all of you abreast on current events, modern science, and the vortex that is my mind.

Like Mike

Last week I watched Like Mike, which made me wonder a) why Lil Bow Wow’s career never took off and b) why more people don’t wear their hair in four braids.  The film features Jonathan Lipnicki, Eugene Levy, Morris Chestnut, and that Asian girl from Social Network and every Disney TV show. The film is about an orphan, Bow Wow (whose character’s name is inconsequential, and I don’t remember), who gets his hands on Michael Jordan’s old sneakers. He is subsequently electrocuted while holding the sneakers (which were tossed onto a power line by a cool kid), thus obtaining MJ’s court skills.

Jealous much?

Obviously, he makes his way to his favorite basketball team’s game, one which is the victim of staggeringly low attendance. Believe it or not, Bow Wow holds the winning ticket for a fan contest, in which he gets to shoot against his favorite player, Morris Chestnut’s character. It’s crazy what happens next…he wins the contest! This pre-teen orphan makes three shots against an NBA player (and this guy is a d-bag if ever there was one–he doesn’t even try to go easy on the little guy). The final shot is my favorite. Wow does a front flip into a dunk (oh-so-awkwardly depicted though awful computer generation). The crowd sits, jaws dropped, eyes wide, as this mere babe dangles from the hoop. Then, all at once, they cheer. I almost cried.

Morris Chestnut is so embarassed. I mean, he was just emasculated by Lil Bow Wow. That’s got to be upsetting. But Eugene Levy! Money signs practically replace his eyeballs. The crowd loves this kid, and by the end of the game, there are miraculously more people there than at the start. The place is totally filled. Maybe people called their friends who were just waiting at a nearby coffee shop and said “OMG, Lil Bow Wow is here, and he did a front flip and has braids!” And the friends were like, “I’m there!”

Eventually, Morris Chestnut’s character is chosen as Wow’s mentor. They get to share a hotel room, and man can Wowzer snore! Also, Wowskies learns about room service when Chestnut goes out one night. Chestnut puts on a tight shirt and blazer, and he probably goes to a lounge playing 112, sips some Moscato, you know. The usual. When he gets home (sexy lady in hand), he find Wowman passed out in a food coma, burgers and pizza scattered about (and I think we all know what that’s like). 

The films continues with these sorts of shenanigans for about another hour. At one point, Chestnut has to medication for his allergies and sleeping pills to evade McWowson’s snoring. He is flirting with the sexy pharmacist when he accidentally takes the sleeping pills instead of his allergy pills. Ruh roh! He has to drive the two of them to the hotel by their 12:00am curfew (which seems like a reasonable time for an NBA player to hit the hay), and he happens to pass out while driving. Wow, of course, has to drive the car home, which is funny in a movie, but kind of sad in real life. Just ask Charlie Sheen’s kids how they get home from soccer practice…

In another post-game car scene, Chestnut and Wowdog realize how similar they are when DMX’s “Up in Here” comes on the radio. It’s is both of their “jams,” and it proves to be a special bonding moment. I mean, black people love to rap after a good game of basketball, amirite?!

I don’t really know what happens in the movie after that, because I remembered I was an adult and stopped watching, but from the direction it was taking, I can only assume that Bow Wow murders Chestnut and steals his identity.

For anyone who has not seen Like Mike, I highly recommend it. It is a beautiful representation of African-Americans on film, and it gives an unedited inside look into the gritty underbelly of professional sports.