Monday, April 24, 2006

Free Cookies! from The Medleh Group

I don't know if this is common in other professions, but working in a law office generally permits you to collect a certain amount of low-rent swag (swag in the Oscar-presenter gift bag sense, not goods acquired illegally). Since I first started practicing law, I have periodically been assailed by pens, clocks, popcorn, candy, baked goods, fruit, folders, a water bottle, and probably other items that I no longer recall. The businesses providing these goods, not surprisingly, have functions related to litigation: deposition services companies, document wranglers, graphic arts centers, and even services that will track your appeal's schedule in addition to binding and copying your briefs. I have never met anybody who actually hired one of these businesses based on the strength of their logo-emblazoned candy jars, but at least it gave me a place to store my pens.

Today, the familiar pattern repeated itself. There I was, sitting at my desk, when our HR lady came in and gave me a little white box. It was addressed TO: me, FROM: some guy I had never heard of. Somebody had scrawled my firm's initials in the upper-left-hand-corner. The logo on the box top read: "The Medleh Group: We're here to serve you" and listed locations in Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and New York.

If you live in California -- you're out of luck, fool! Inside the box -- two cookies!

I hope you enjoy your fish tacos and Jamba Juice, California, because I was living large with my free cookies. The first one was oatmeal raisin. It was soft, as an oatmeal raisin cookie should be, with just a hint of cinnamon underneath the oaty bounty. Happily, the chewiness really let me taste the sweetness of the raisins, which did not disappoint. Unlike the raisins you sometimes get in petrified, store-bought cookies, these were one with the cookie and blended in with their surroundings like so many highly-trained secret agents.

The second cookie was your standard-issue peanut butter. It was soft though, fittingly, not so soft as the oatmeal raisin. It was more than acceptable, and I could definitely buy it as a bake sale offering from a harried suburban mom with a part time job. It was not, however, the transporting experience of its oatmeal raisin neighbor. I can only suggest, Medleh Group, that in future giveaways, you put the oatmeal raisin cookie on the bottom of the box, so that it is the last thing the recipient remembers.

Oftentimes, once the swag has been delivered, the sender calls each recipient later in the day to pitch his or her services. Sure enough, a couple of hours after I downed the cookies, I got a call from the guy on the FROM line, asking to come in and meet with me about his document services. I explained that there probably wasn't much I could do for him at the present time, but he persisted. So, sucker that I am, I agreed to give him five minutes next week. Maybe he'll bring brochures or something that I can peruse the next time I need some document wrangling. Anyway, the oatmeal raisin cookie was so good, I felt sort of guilty not giving him a chance to say his piece.

Damn, that was a good cookie. If the Medleh Group ever sends you such a gift, I highly recommend consuming it. But if you're counting calories, just go for the oatmeal raisin and give the peanut butter to your secretary or some other worthy person.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, by Neil Strauss

Do not read this post if you don't want to know how this book turns out!


Last warning.

Now then.

I first became aware of The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, through the George Clooney-hated website Apparently, it (the book, not the website) has become something of a resource for pick-up artists, and the Village Voice assigned a young writer to investigate the issue. Then he fabricated the end of his article and heads rolled. Nevertheless, I was intrigued. What the hell was in this book? Did it really contain the secret to picking up hot babes in low-rise jeans and backless blouses? Could it help me pick up...whatever the male equivalent of hot babes in low-rise jeans and backless blouses might be? I had to find out, much as I regret giving this Neil Strauss hack the royalties for the copy I bought.

The packaging of the book is impressive, in its own way. It resembles a bible, complete with black, fake-leather cover, gold lettering (and gold figures meant to represent, I assume, the author and some of his babelicious conquests), gilt-edged pages, and one of those red ribbon bookmarkers attached to the top of the book. My cats had a field day with that thing.

As for the book itself? It is a complete and utter trainwreck, both in execution, and in the events that befall the characters. Apparently, the author got involved in an online community of awkward men seeking to score with women, which eventually led to him living in a house full of fellow pick-up artists in Los Angeles. This is the same guy who wrote Jenna Jameson's "autobiography," and it shows -- it's like Short Attention Span Theater in book form, but the flip side of that is that the pages really do turn quickly. The author is self-aware enough to realize that at heart, most of these guys who are getting together to trade techniques are pathetic bozos.

Well...yeah. If they weren't pathetic bozos -- if they were, say, in any way attractive or interesting or wealthy -- presumably they wouldn't have to use magic tricks to pick up women. It isn't like most of the females in The Game are testing off the charts on the self-esteem-o-meter (which sounds like one of the many ploys used by the men in this book -- Hey! Want me to test you on my self-esteem-o-meter?).

Seriously, though, some of them use actual magic tricks. And runes, if memory serves. I'll be damned if I'm going to open the book again to check.

The moral of the story winds up being, predictably, that it is True Love with One Woman, not constant sex with hot babes, that makes an insecure man complete. Provided, of course, that that One Woman is a smoking hot member of Courtney Love's band. It's not like Strauss fell for an accountant with small tits or something.

In parting, I have to share what is easily the funniest passage of the book:

Every woman is different in bed. Each has her own tastes and quirks and fantasies. And someone's surface appearance never accurately indicates the raging storm or the dead calm that lies beneath. Reaching that moment of passionate truth -- of surrender, honesty, revelation -- was my favorite part of the game. I loved seeing what new person emerged in bed, and then talking with that new person after our mutual orgasms. I guess I just like people.

In just about any other context, I'd assume this passage was meant to be a joke, but given the tone of the rest of the book, I'm really not sure. If the humor was intentional, then...hats off to you, Neil Strauss! For this one shining moment, you were awesome.

If you know me personally and want to read The Game, I'll loan it to you. Don't you dare buy it and reward this guy for sucking so much. Anyway, since the author boasts of outsmarting Britney Spears, he is obviously a devious genius who doesn't need your cash, in any event.