I Pretend Joel Stein Mentions Me in TIME


JoelSigningI have already established in an earlier post that I am a devoted fan and follower of TIME columnist Joel Stein. Given that, imagine my delight when Joel recently offered the exciting opportunity to be his intern for a day! I mean, naturally, my interest was piqued. Of course, there was a catch. This opportunity was being offered through Charitybuzz, an auction site that offers experiences people can bid on, with the proceeds going to worthy causes. In this case, the charity was Miss a Meal, a Houston-based nonprofit that meets the needs of the hungry. Basically, I was looking at a chance to pay to work; this was taking volunteering to a whole new level.

Here is the description of the prize:

“A one-day internship with TIME journalist and humor columnist Joel Stein. Spend this Sunday, June 9, 2013, working for Joel! He will buy you a mid-priced lunch and eat it with you. (He will also buy his own lunch; you won’t have to share yours.) You can work from his house in Los Angeles with him or work via Skype from your own home. There are decent odds he will yell at you and even greater odds that you’ll witness his 4-year-old son or wife yell at him.

Sunday: 11 a.m.-ish until maybe 3 p.m. or so. You’ll work on this week’s TIME column which will be about YOU (featuring YOUR NAME) and this internship, as well as the auction Beyoncé and Tina Knowles are hosting to benefit Miss A Meal.”

This would be huge for me. I’ve already met Joel Stein, but this would be a chance to meet him again. Sober. I live in Florida and Joel lives in Los Angeles, and as you can see he’s made provisions for that in the fine print of the auction: winners who aren’t able to fulfill their “internship” can commute via Skype, but fuck that noise. If I were to win, I would absolutely cash in all of my husband’s frequent flyer miles and show up on the Steins’ doorstep. (At that point, luck is on my side because I doubted a restraining order could be processed within just a week.)

The other awesome thing about all of this? Did you read the part about the winner getting their name in TIME magazine? That kicks ass. This is where I let my inner dork flag fly high. I’ve been reading TIME since I was in high school. (That is, when I wasn’t already occupied with reading the dictionary or traveling with the debate team. I wish I were kidding.) Until I can convince Joel that tweeting my blog to his legion of followers is a smart career move (it probably isn’t), getting my name in his column is the next best way to get a wider audience to discover the delicious snark that is Tina Steele. Right?

The bidding started at $500. I certainly don’t have money to throw around on things like this. Let’s be honest here. I don’t have a job that pays me, so I don’t imagine my husband would look too kindly on my taking the next step and paying other people to let me work. I figured I would watch the auction for a little bit and see how things went. On the one hand, I couldn’t stand the thought of my favorite journalist being undervalued; on the other…I was kind of hoping his offering would languish until the zero hour so I could snatch it up at a bargain. Then I could tell my better half it was an investment in our future or some such nonsense. I would cross that bridge when I came to it.

Explanations to my husband and the availability of last-minute travel soon became a moot point as the bids to Joel’s internship started trickling in. The winner was somebody using the handle “Loaded Questions” who repeatedly outbid every other person who attempted a bid. Interesting. I have the game Loaded Questions. Was the owner of a board game company really trying to win this auction?

Fast forward to this week when my TIME magazine came in the mail, and I immediately flipped to the second to the last page to check Joel’s column. There it was: Interning with the Stars. I did a quick scan before actually reading it. I wanted to confirm my suspicion: Did the Loaded Questions guy really get to advertise his company in the column? Yes, he did. Something else immediately jumped out at me though: my name! It’s hard to miss your own name and “Tina” caught my eye pretty quickly. WTF? It only took a second to realize what I was reading. Of course. The article is about Beyoncé and her mother’s name is Tina, and she is referred to as Miss Tina in the column. So, the joke’s on you Loaded Questions* guy! I got my name in the magazine for free.

What surprised me most when I read this article is that Joel actually made his temporary intern do real work. He made phone calls, answered emails, and interviewed Miss Tina. When I was contemplating bidding on the auction, I really didn’t take that part of the deal seriously. I thought if I won, Joel and I would sit around, braid each other’s hair and maybe argue about who is funnier. “You are!” “No, you are!” All things considered, I still have all of my money, I didn’t have to do any work, and I got half of my name in TIME magazine.

I can live with that.

*Despite the fact that I kind of slammed the Loaded Questions guy, let me digress just a little bit to tell you that Loaded Questions is in fact, an awesome fucking game. (And clearly Eric Poses is a genius because not only did he win that auction and get his game advertised in a national magazine for a mere $2,550, he’s gotten me to mention his game a half dozen times here as well.) Anytime I get a group of friends together, this game comes out. Usually, people start out answering fairly honestly, but things eventually regress into inside jokes, sexual innuendos, and outright debauchery. My husband’s friend, Corey Bishop, holds our all-time record for the most memorable answer ever. The question was: “What is the furthest place you can think of?” His answer? “The tip of my cock.” That, my friends, is Loaded Questions.

My Fifty Shades Confession


grey-colorsI’m going to admit to something I thought I would take to my grave: I recently read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I hadn’t planned on sharing this, but I find myself inspired by this daily prompt, and Fifty Shades certainly gives me something to talk about. So, here’s the thing…

Fifty Shades of Grey (and its sequels) are ridiculously awful.

When I picked up the first book, I knew little about the premise other than it was an S&M flavored bodice-ripper that was making housewives across the country weak in the knees. (This includes some of my friends, like Angie who shall remain nameless.) I’m always up for a literary aphrodisiac – bring it on!

As soon as I started reading, it only took me a few pages to become annoyed with Christian Grey and all of his “Miss Steele” business. My maiden name is “Miss Steele” and I wanted to pop that smug prick in his chiseled jaw halfway through the first meeting. Also, Ana Steele was a giant wuss who cursed like a six-year-old, even within her own internal monologue. Double crap?  Really? I hadn’t read clumsy banality like that since the Twilight saga. In fact, the only remarkable thing about the writing was how incredibly similar its subpar quality was to another series: Twilight. I couldn’t get over the likeness. Of course, I soon found out that’s because Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight fanfiction, and it is supposed to sound exactly the same. (Apparently you can sell millions of books doing that now.)

Disgusted with this drivel, from the “Miss Steele” business to the whole fanfiction concept, I quit the book before finishing the first couple of chapters. Then I told anyone who would listen that Fifty Shades of Grey was everything that was wrong with literature and I went back to reading Hemingway and Steinbeck and volunteering at the homeless shelter. (Actually, only the part up through slamming the books is true; I made the rest up to illustrate how fancy and superior I was feeling at the time.)

A year or so passed, and for reasons I still don’t understand, I decided to give Fifty Shades another try. I muscled through the lackluster writing and the myriad typographical errors. (Do publishing houses seriously not employ proofreaders anymore? What is going on here? I know we have spellcheck and all, but there is no substitute for a set of well-trained eyes. I am tired of reading published books with typos. This has become an epidemic and it is making me lose my faith in humanity. Please, someone do something about this. Sorry for that tangent, folks.)

Needless to say, since I’m writing all of this, at some point, I started to like it. I can’t begin to describe how painful it is for me to admit that not only did I read all three of the books in the Fifty Shades of Grey series, but that I actually enjoyed them. I suppose it’s apropos, since the entire plot of the books is predicated on a young woman who unwittingly finds herself sucked into the web of a handsome sadist who enjoys causing pain and spoiler alert: she likes it too!

Of course I could write some feminist dissertation on everything that is wrong with the premise of these books, but it’s really not that serious. The whole thing is so ridiculous that it’s not worth debating the social mores or implications of the relationships found therein. Mostly you just skim over the poor choices, roll your eyes, suspend your disbelief, and hope you get to the good parts while your husband is lying next to you in bed and not when he’s out of town running a drywall trial at a manufacturing plant in Wyoming. Or maybe that’s just me.

The best part of indulging in this guilty pleasure was quite unexpected. (No, I’m not talking about my sex life – that benefit was wholly expected.) E.L. James, the author of the Fifty Shades series, actually did me a great service. See, I love writing, and I love books. I read as much as I possibly can and of course I’m inspired by my favorite authors. But something E.L. James did for me that none of my favorite authors have been able to do thus far was this: she put writing within reach. Because if this lady can sell her mediocre “Spank Lit” and make millions, there’s a market for me too.

I can’t wait to be someone’s guilty pleasure.

Salvador, the Mystery Man



Oh, Salvador. Where do I even begin?

I came out to the parking lot one day after work to find this note, along with an advertisement for a massage/spa place, tucked into the door handle of my car. I hope the two were unrelated.

Salvador, the mechanical engineer, clearly had no idea what he was getting into when he left me this invitation to talk about culture, theater, sports, technology, god, or my favorite: a subject of my choosing. He is also being a bit presumptuous in thinking I am capable of doing this in a polite, respectful, and kind way. Salvador doesn’t know who he is dealing with.

Salvador says he is not from Florida, but I’m going to go out on a limb and venture that, despite his claim, Salvador does not originally hail from Pennsylvania either. Unless the Pennsylvania public school system failed him miserably, I’m guessing that Salvador is one of Florida’s many friendly Latino residents. (It also happens that there is a facility next to my workplace that provides a service of some sort to Spanish-speaking folks, although I have no idea what they actually do. They could be training them to sell encyclopedias or steal kidneys for all I know. Maybe an amiable note placed on a strangers’ vehicle is the first step and it’s all a trap.)

I might seem like a ballsy broad, and as much as I love the opportunity to discuss subjects of my choosing ad nauseam, I love my kidneys even more, so I’ll save you the suspense and confess that I did not drop Salvador a call or text. This stranger left a note on my car with his phone number on it for Christ’s sake! If I have brass balls, his are clearly titanium. Who does this? Anyone fearless enough to offer his phone number to discuss god to a stranger with a Human Rights Campaign equality sticker on her car is too brave for me to jerk around.

All things being equal, I’m not sure what bothers me most about this unsolicited invitation to socialize. It has an inherent creepiness factor, sure, but can we talk about the random word capitalization? This part I don’t understand. My Spanish leaves a lot to be desired, but capitalization rules are pretty consistent from language to language. And also? I’m happy for Salvador that he is gainfully employed as a mechanical engineer with Alcoa, but he doesn’t have to shout about it. That’s just poor manners. That being said, if I were inclined to discuss a subject of my choosing with Salvador, I think that subject would probably be “Capitalization – When and Where it is Appropriate”. I mean, if you want to start socializing with peoples, particularly peoples who read and critique things for a living, you might want to learn how to write your creepy notes with the correct grammar and punctuation.

Of course, if you do not mind.