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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Angelina Jolie in The Economist

Did you hear Angelina Jolie wrote an article for The Economist? A couple of thoughts:
  • Calling for trials for war criminals is noble enough, but a little bit like coming out in favor of helping widows and orphans: designed to offend no one. A ballsier view on this issue would actually give teeth to the International War Crimes Tribunal by making Americans accountable. Meaning that those Marines who raped a teenage girl in Iraq and killed her whole family to cover it up would find themselves being tried internationally, and Henry Kissinger's number might also come up (draft pun intended).

  • The article was pretty well-written, but not as good as Courtney Love's five-part series on OPEC in the Journal of Foreign Affairs.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

New '08 Pete's poster! Now with smaller forehead.

Comedy at Pete's is entering its third full year. Please add every single date to your calendar and show up in your finest Sunday hats, even though all of the shows are on Mondays.

Thanks to John Leavitt for the design.

p.s. - To the nice woman who is a good laugher and who offered to distribute some of my flyers at Gimme Coffee in Williamsburg, thank you!

Recap: Monday Evening Stand-Up at Pete's

Nov. 19th show, featuring Brent Sullivan, Adam Newman,
Tim Warner, Eric Andre, John F. O'Donnell, Tom Shillue,
and Jessica Delfino.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Recap: "Where Have You Been?"

Last night I appeared in Jeff Stark's Where Have You Been? show, a sort of slideshow and panel discussion in which three guests discuss their recent travels.

I was there to talk about my three-week tour entertaining the troops in the Middle East on an Armed Forces Entertainment comedy tour.

The show took place in the progressive, collectively-owned Bluestockings Bookstore, but luckily no one shouted anything about blood for oil (or tried to shame me into veganism).

Here are the slides that were part of my presentation, with a couple extras that didn't quite fit into the show. Some of these will look familiar to regular blog readers:

This airport looked "foreign," in a way, but also had
not only a Starbucks, but a Claire's (the little-girl jewelry store).

In the Kuwaiti airport.

Also in the Kuwaiti airport. Like I'd never left New York.

A typical hotel breakfast -- foul mudamas, a comfort food made
of mashed or heavily cooked beans, falafel, hard-boiled egg.

Why I was there.

This Starbucks is in a trailer in the middle
of a tent city in a 125-degree desert.

Performing on an outdoor stage in Kuwait.

Signing autographs in the USO tent.

I have a lot of photos that look just like this, but
I thought one with lady soldiers was more interesting.

Comedians trying a shooting simulation. Or, as Jeff Stark said,
"Obligatory girls-with-guns photo." Fortunately for the state
of the world, the shooting simulations actually also test ethics
and procedures; if you shoot an unarmed civilian, the "game" ends,
and the legend "DEFEND YOUR ACTIONS" appears across the screen,
at which point you must explain yourself to an actual,
flesh-and-blood superior officer.

The Wall of Death, where Saddam lined up and executed Kuwaiti sailors.

Doing a show in the hangar on the USS Enterprise. Planes continually landed on the level just above us.

Another view of the crowd.

On a helicopter traveling from the USS Enterprise to the USS
Gettysburg, both a couple hundred miles into the Persian Gulf.

The view from the side of the helicopter, which flew with
its door open the entire way.

I took this photo inside the helicopter. I sometimes have
a really immature sense of humor.

On the base in Djibouti. Living in a shipping container is actually
a great privilege; the entry-level accommodation is just a tent.

In a souvenir shop in Bahrain. In such souvenir shops, I noted a shocking quantity of Christmas kitsch: ornaments, Santa figurines, a Christmas poem written in calligraphy on a slice of a log, even a cross-stitched Christmas stocking. Apparently, the locals find these items to be exotic Westernalia. One of the log mobiles, like the one pictured, included the misquoted platitudes: "A penny saved is a penny gained" and "An ounce of discretion is worth a pound of learning."


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I am assuming for the purposes of this post that "The Jungle" and "Atlas Shrugged" have made their ways onto your reading lists at some point

I just got some advertising mail from Omaha Steaks (I sometimes purchase their products as gifts for my father and brother), and noticed that the return address is "10909 John Galt Boulevard."


Just saying.

home improvement tips for the ladies

Man, I'd be pissed if condescended to by a book on the topic of "home improvement for girly-girls" (I know not only how to use a hammer, I can install doorknobs).

However, I am happy to report that, yes, nail polish remover does a fine job of correcting any wall-painting mistakes, and that Lancome eye makeup remover efficiently but gently removes masking-tape adhesive from hardwood floors.

I should pitch an article to Bust.

Monday, November 19, 2007

turned away from Britesmile

This morning, I got up early for my appointment at Britesmile, a teeth-whitening center. I made coffee, knowing it would be my last cup of coffee for 24-48 hours (almost certainly closer to 24, as I'd be surprised if I made it to the very low end of the recommended abstention period).

I arrived at Britesmile, filled out some paperwork (I had prepaid for the appointment online, to get a discount), and sat in the waiting room reading the copy of Bust I'd brought with me.

Eventually, I was taken to a little cubicle, put into a reclining dental chair, and ultimately visited by a cute Asian dentist-guy with great teeth and cool glasses. I almost commented that I'm sure they don't hire ugly dentists at the 5th Avenue Britesmile.

The dentist and I had a long discussion about the coffee thing, during which he debunked my theory that, if I just had to have some coffee, iced coffee through a straw would be less staining than the hot, sipped variety. He reiterated the advice to stick to "white or clear foods and drinks." He assured me that vodka would be fine.

Then he got to looking at my teeth. He had this object that looked like a ruler with a bunch of teeth attached to it (I could just imagine Pugsley Addams bringing the thing to geometry class), ranging in color from gross to white. The dentist looked disappointed.

Turns out my teeth were already at the whitest shade, and they just couldn't get any whiter. (Apparently all those celebs with blindingly white teeth have veneers, also known as the fake shells you get glued to your teeth after an evil dentist has ground your real teeth down to pointy stubs).

"I'll write a note on your paperwork, then you just take it downstairs to get a refund," he said. And sure enough, the lady at the front desk just gave me a refund. So consider that an endorsement of the good business practices at Britesmile.

The whole experience did, however, take about two hours of my life -- the longest I've ever spent traveling and sitting in a waiting room in order to receive a compliment.

(Insert horrible joke here about being "refused service for being white.")

$300 richer than I'd expected to be, I celebrated with a big fuckin' Starbucks.

Next stop: lipo clinic?


Friday, November 16, 2007

Naughty FreshDirect Copywriters

Seriously, did they think no one would notice?

"You'll never take it in the can again"?

Maybe, actually, you'd want some hydrogenated oils for that.

I see that not all comedy writers are on strike.

(Also, it's "the perfect complement", not "compliment").

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Memo to My New Boyfriend

It occurred to me that I never published this, the audio version of a humor piece that went up on McSweeney's some months ago. So if you've missed the sound of my voice -- but in a non-stalkerish, non-ex-boyfriend way -- please enjoy!

Memo to My New Boyfriend

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

put on your hauberk and whip out your vocabulary

Thanks to Jonathan Lill, previous Williamsburg Spelling Bee winner, for the tip: is a vocabulary quiz website through which companies donate ten grains of rice to famine-stricken areas for each word you get correct.

I played on and off all day and donated some 2,770 grains of rice. Not sure how much rice that is, in practical terms.

In any case, the test is adaptive, so if you are a sesquipedalian sort, the game isn't boring; you quickly progress to much harder words -- especially, it seems, a great many nouns naming specific medieval objects. Hence the title of this post.

in the world of buxom illustration...

My BFF Molly Crabapple has created a webcomic that is being published on her site, one page every Thursday:"The comic 'Backstage' follows the adventures of gossip-mongers/failed vaudevillians, Johnny Panama And Elizabeth Delancy. As reporters for the yellow tabloid "Backstage" Johnny and Elizabeth report on Anarchist dance hall numbers, debauched uptown parties, and where to find the cheapest liquor in town. Set in Gilded Age New York and rendered in Molly Crabapple's signature style, 'Backstage' is a comic romp through sex, drugs, and murder."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

How to Obtain Free Unlimited iTunes By Admitting That You Have an Addiction and are a Total Fucking Yuppie About It

I spend what some might consider an shameful amount at Starbucks, and I'm fine with that.

In fact, as I am such a frequent customer, I've become quite brazen in my interactions with the store -- I think nothing of purchasing a beverage at one Starbucks and deciding, four blocks down the street and two Starbucks later, to enter another Starbucks* and add some milk, or use the bathroom.

*(This really only makes sense in Manhattan, with its walking culture coupled with a high Starbucks density. In fact, one of my little tricks is that, if I'm walking somewhere and want both a Starbucks egg sandwich and a drink, it's hard to carry both while eating the sandwich, so I'll buy the sandwich at one Starbucks, eat it over the next five blocks, and then duck into the next Starbucks for the drink. This, again, is a simple solution to a trivial life problem that applies only in Manhattan. I discovered on my last trip to Virginia that nearly all Starbucks have drive-throughs, so outside Manhattan I imagine you'd just order both at the same time and put the drink in your cup holder, and then attempt to eat your Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich while piloting your SUV).

To continue -- I've even gone into one Starbucks to complain about a drink made at another Starbucks, and sure enough, the barista at the new Starbucks has uncomplainingly made me a replacement drink. (A note to "Mai" at the Grand Central Starbucks: "sub choco" is NOT the correct register code for a "one pump" mocha. "Sub," as in virtually any non-Naval context, means "substitute." A one-pump mocha is still a mocha, just somewhat less so. "Sub choco" means to substitute chocolate for espresso, resulting in a drink most of us call "chocolate milk," which was great when I was five, but, when administered to a twenty-eight year old woman in a hurry, prompts swearing on the S train and all the way uptown on the 1 train. Mai, you're like the bartender who assumes all your customers want to be served Shirley Temples. They do not).

In any case, I enjoy what some might call
"perfectly legal scams," which I've written about in the post what happens when math teachers read the fine print, in which I obtain both unlimited thank-you network points and unlimited free phone cards via a Victoria's Secret magazine-selling operation.

Starbucks currently has a promotion wherein purchasing a Starbucks card nets the buyer two free songs on iTunes. Now, logging into some website and entering some long code to redeem two free songs hardly seems worthwhile. But, see ... I know how much Starbucks I'm likely to consume over any future period. I don't mind paying for it in advance if I will consequently accrue a reasonable benefit.

"Why couldn't I just buy 100 one-dollar cards, then?" I asked the lady at the register.

"Well, it's a five dollar minimum per card," she said.

"Great," I replied. "I'll take ten."

Once the cards are purchased, one simply registers the cards on the Starbucks website (three at a time), receives an iTunes code for each card, and enters the codes into iTunes. iTunes will store the credits, to be redeemed anytime from now til February.

I have since completed this entire process ... er, more than once. I've decided that eight cards is really the maximum a person can buy without rudely holding up the whole line for an undue amount of time.

So, my next 60 iTunes songs are free. And all I had to do was to admit the fact that I'm totally going to spend $150 on Starbucks anyway.

I like to think that Starbucks' corporate offices know me, that they're watching me as a sort of archetype of the Thinking Caffeine Buyer. That everyone in the marketing department wears a little bracelet: "What Will Jen Do?"


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

two days in New York

Yesterday walking on the street in midtown, I saw a man with a smudge on his forehead, followed by another man something on his forehead, and I thought, it must be Ash Wednesday.

Then I realized it wasn't even Wednesday.

And I did a double-take and realized I had just seen two men with forehead birthmarks walk by -- an Indian guy and then a large, old white guy -- one after the other.

Also in recent people-observing, I was standing in line in Starbucks when I heard someone say, "I think it's been better since we switched to Mac."

What a fun game, I thought. Let me try to guess -- before they give it away -- if they are talking about the computers or the makeup line. I turned and saw two artsy-looking fortysomething Caucasian women. The computers? I guessed in my head, and continued eavesdropping.

Turns out they actually meant a guy named Mac, who played in their jazz band.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dear Qatar: write me back! TTYL! BFF!

I discovered while on my Mideast tour that my website was censored by the government of Qatar:

I waited until I was safely out of their country (I'll note that, despite the 100+ degree heat and the fact that I was on a US military base, I had to cover my shoulders to immigrate into the country, and also, that my copy of the magazine Muscle and Fitness Hers was deemed "pornography") before sending this email:

Subject: site blocking question

Dear Qatar Internet Censor,

I was in Qatar last month, trying to view my website,, on the internet, and I saw that it was blocked. It is nice of you to provide an email address on the "blocked" webpage.

Can you tell me what specifically has caused my website to be blocked to everyone in your country? Perhaps you could reconsider this decision so that people could enjoy my comedy?

Thank you very much,
Jennifer Dziura

So far, no reply! What's up, Qatar?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

House of Dissatisfaction, and also unsolicited financial advice

Mo Pitkins' House of Satisfaction is closed; awesomeness doesn't pay.

For those of you not in New York, Mo's was the performance venue in which Chicks & Giggles and many other fine comedy shows and other indie shows were held. I especially enjoyed it because it was a reasonably swanky bar and restaurant (not a dirty black box theater with a guy at a folding table in the back pouring plastic cups of wine in exchange for "donations"). Over the few years they were open, the venue's "Judeo-Latino" menu was notably scaled down, losing the incredible "pick-eight-things-including-brisket" variety plate. But still, it was the best game in town.

I can't tell you how many "lifestyle" businesses I've seen fail. That is, businesses that make the entrepreneurs feel like the coolest people alive, until the businesses fail, inevitably, and the entrepreneurs go down as martyrs of coolness. Now, Mo's was an actual restaurant, and a good one; however, I am reminded of the hip-as-all-get-out Williamsburg vintage lingerie store for which I once modeled in fashion shows: how could one think that could ever even pay the rent on a retail space (much less provide an income for the owner)?

If you love, say, vinyl, I'd still suggest against opening a vintage record store, even though you'd feel really cool for a few weeks until you realized what your monthly coolness bill was. Instead, I'd suggest taking the Series 7, becoming a day trader, and using all your filthy lucre to purchase every vintage album you ever wanted off eBay.

And ... that's the end of today's unsolicited Jenisfamous financial advice.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste ... on Sudoku

I have officially been accepted as a member of Mensa, and subsequently invited to some sort of annual puzzle challenge.

I sincerely hope someone's curing cancer in a seminar room in the back or something.
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