Monday, February 27, 2006

Now you tell me

Accepted Into Yale? - - Don't Waste $150,000 Yale Students Share Their Advice

Friday, February 24, 2006

can't make this up

wheel of fortune. the category is "phrase". the board reads:


woman: T?
man: M?
man #2: D?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Trip to the Doctor's Office, Part 1

I recently found myself having a slight pain in my abdomen, so I told my mother I wanted to go to the doctor. Naturally, she took me to the pediatrician, as I did not yet have a grown-up doctor (more on this later- honestly, grown-up doctors are scary) . By the way, don't judge me- I know for a fact that the AG still takes Flintstones Chewable Vitamins, and I hear grape is his favorite.

I arrived a bit early with my mother at the pediatrician's office, but not to worry because I got to spend some time in the pediatrician's waiting room. After flipping through copies of Ranger Rick from the early '90s and surreptitiously stealing the cardboard trading cards from the middle of SI for Kids, I built a fort out of cardboard red bricks. But after a few blissful minutes in the fort, I was told to go to the bathroom. I urinated into a cup and then wrote my name on it with a red wax pencil.

I was then ushered into the patient room, where i stripped to my boxers. My mother-fully clothed, of course- was there too. When Dr. Gallagher entered the room, she immediately got to the examination:

Dr. Gallagher: So tell me what's wrong, Danny.

Me: I've got this slight pain in my abdomen, I think it may be intestinal.

Dr. Gallagher (looking at clipboard): Uh, huh. Well, I just took a gander at your pee-pee and it looked pretty clean. Could you bend down a little, Danny?
(Dr. Gallagher runs her hands through my hair)
Dr. Gallagher: And your scalp is 100 percent lice-free.

Me: No, the problem is in my abdomen

Dr. Gallagher: Open your mouth wide.
(Dr. Gallagher sticks a swab down my throat and then looks at it)
Dr. Gallagher: Well, you don't have strep throat either.

Me: No really, it's in my abdomen, like my stomach area.

Dr. Gallagher: Looks like you're healthy as a horse. Here's a Power Rangers Band-Aid and some Robitussin for good measure.

My Mom: Robitussin, Robitussin?! You're trying to turn my son into a drunk driver, you MONSTER! That's it, Daniel, we're going to a grown-up doctor.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Question of the Day

Do Iraqi insurgents put "Support Our Troops" stickers on their cars?

p.s. long post imminent...

A Tasty, but Stressful Lunch

I had a grilled chicken sandwich, chips and guacamole, and a pasta salad with tomato and fresh mozzarella. Sounds good, right?

The stressful part was not the eating, but rather the choosing of portion sizes. I never know how much to get of these things. Most of the time I feel as if I could eat an infinite amount of guacamole and an infinite amount of fresh mozzarella. Does this mean that I should just grab as much as I can of these things and run (Note: They are super cheap in the NFL cafeteria)? The problem is that I don't want to be wasteful...I want to finish all that I take. Also, what is the right chips to guacamole ratio? Can someone help me out here?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Who Ever Loved, That Loved Not at First Sight?

Sorry for so long an absence dear readers. I have spent the past fortnight in cross-Atlantic transit after a long Autumn and Winter Season in Reykjavik. Never mind what I was doing there, know only this: before embarking on my journey home, I encountered a weary, old man. He told me of how he barely escaped his slavery as a chef for one DANIEL MUNZ!

His story: Chef X hid for three days under a mountain of oyster shells before he could make his way up the North Atlantic Seaboard and onto a Barnacle-ridden trawler headed for Europe. Before the chef and I parted ways, he bequeathed to me a thick book of poetry. He told me that it was his master's most sacred object. How, after every supper, "Master Munz" would retreat to his den to record his thoughts. The book was replete with beautiful prose, but reeked of garlic and stains from oily fingertips... but one poem stood out above all others...

Dedicated to our readers of the fairer sex, I bring to you on this Valentine's Day the most treasured of Munz's Sonnets,

Sonnet 141: La Belle Dame Sans Merci

O, shrimp doth teach the torches to burn bright!
With thy buttery goodness upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in a lover's ear;
Succulence made from thy passion, for earth too dear!
The tender morsel here I take in my trembling hand,
And smell the aroma, so far from bland.
Did my mouth water till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne'er tasted true Scampi till this night.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


computer, etc.

Big News!

It looks like all our hard work out here in the Siberian tundra that is the blogosphere has finally paid off. The New Yorker, that paragon of mainstream taste, noticed all of the attention that Jason Congdon was getting from Delino, Marquis and Immortalized, and decided to write a lengthy profile of this great man for their March 6 issue. As a token of thanks for putting Congdon on their radar screen, The New Yorker has provided us with a sneak preview of the article. Enjoy!


“Give a man a burrito and you feed him for a day; give a man an El Guapo Grande Burrito and you feed him for two days, maybe three depending on whether there’s guac.”

-Jason Congdon

It is taken as a given among modern writers, from Arthur Miller to Eugene O’Neill, that the American Dream is dead. Edward Albee even wrote a play entitled The American Dream, the sheer absurdity of which mocked the very notion of the American Dream. Yet ironically it is here in New Haven, Connecticut, where Albee’s hopeless play premiered some thirty-five years ago, that we are witnessing the Dream’s renaissance.

On an unseasonably warm Tuesday in November, I saunter into the Bulldog Burrito restaurant. At first glance, I don’t see what all the hype is about. It doesn’t seem different from any of the dozens of Mexican joints I frequent in New York - the limited menu, the bland Mexican music, the array of salsas. But then I take a closer look, and I see the television set turned to an offbeat channel called CNN Headline News. I see the handwritten message on the black board challenging customers to take the El Guapo Grande Burrito Challenge. I see the exposed post-modern kitchen, deconstructing the processes by which each culinary masterpiece is created. As these unique personal touches accumulate in my mind, it dawns on me that the Bulldog boosters are right-- this is not your ordinary Mexican joint. But before I can investigate any further, I am graced with the presence of the visionary who made this entire enterprise possible.

At 33, Jason Congdon is not handsome in the conventional sense, but he has the boyish good looks of a Breakfast at Tiffany’s-era Mickey Rooney. He looks like the kind of upstanding young man your mother would want you to marry. And indeed, Congdon is gracious to a fault when interacting with customers or with friends outside of the restaurant. But when it comes to directing his employees, Congdon conducts himself with the cocksure, almost imperious, mien of a seasoned general. Donning his chosen uniform of a Bulldog Burrito polo and jean shorts, Congdon, like Grant at Vicksburg or Washington at Yorktown, commands his small army of Mexican culinary warriors as they ably take on a throng of hungry college students. The sheer efficiency of the operation leads one to think that the restaurant has been around for decades.

Yet while it is hard to imagine now, this bustling café at the corner of Park Street and Elm Street was a vacant lot a scant two and a half years ago. It was then that former Yale football players Peter Mazza and Than Merrill, along with local restauranteur Charles Hague, opened the doors of Mexicali Grille. Though Merrill and Hague had an equal share in the business, Mazza was the brains of Mexicali. It was his idea to serve Mexican food, it was his idea to locate next to student favorite Ivy Noodle, and he came up with the name. As Mazza put it in his chapter about Mexicali’s genesis in Life in the Fast (-Food) Lane: The Peter Mazza Story, “I wanted a fast, healthy and inexpensive food alternative on Broadway. And I love burritos." But sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men go awry, and by August 2004, Mexicali was not drawing enough business to stay open.

The question of how the failure of Mexicali Grille became the success of Bulldog Burrito is a contentious one. Officials within the Levin administration claim that after the closure of Mexicali Grille, the President ordered senior aide Walter Geerston to replace the restaurant with a very similar business. A vocal minority in Dean Betty Trachtenberg's office even contends that Levin specifically issued orders pertaining to both a new emphasis on guacamole and the addition of a cantina happy hour as a requirement for any replacement. Congdon dismisses such claims as "an insidious lie perpetrated by bureaucratic bumblers unwilling to acknowledge my innovation." Mazza himself maintains that Bulldog’s triumph is not the product of Congdon’s business acumen, but rather the result of shifting dynamics in New Haven’s Mexican food market. In particular, he points to the moment in September 2004 when one of Yale’s more corpulent ex-bloggers gained control of his Bar Mitzvah savings, pumping hundreds of dollars into the market just as Bulldog Burrito appeared. Mazza believes that he too would have thrived in this newly buoyant market and dismisses the accolades showered on Congdon, derisively noting, “The idea to have a fast-food Mexican restaurant at that location was mine—Congdon just moved some chairs around and made the logo uglier.”

When I ask Congdon about Mazza’s claims, he rebuts them by rattling off a wide range of innovations, from the introduction of shredded chicken burritos to the replacement of Coca-Cola with Pepsi in the soda fountain. In Congdon’s mind, Mazza is just one of the many assorted cranks who wish to belatedly take credit for an achievement that is entirely his. Offhandedly quoting John F. Kennedy, the Bulldog owner remarks, “Victory has a hundred fathers; defeat is an orphan.” A moment later, when I inquire about the competition he faces from the nearby Roomba burrito cart, Congdon observes, “Sun Tzu once said, ‘If you know yourself as well as your enemy, you will come out of one hundred battles with one hundred victories.’ Though the translation doesn’t do it justice.” At this point it is apparent to me that Congdon is a veritable one-man Bartlett’s. But before I can ask Congdon to name the biggest factor to which he attributes Bulldog’s success, we are interrupted by an employee. “Meester Jason, the Virtual Boy in the break room is on the fritz,” says the worker frantically. Congdon calmly tells me we will have to continue our conversation at another time and goes to fix the Virtual Boy, despite the fact that the system has severly diminished his depth perception.

Still hungry for answers, I visit the office of Yale Urban Studies Professor Douglas W. Rae. Rae is uniquely qualified to explain Bulldog Burrito’s meteoric rise, having studied New Haven for over twenty-five years and published his findings in 2003’s City: Urbanism and Its End. “I’ve determined that Ivy Noodle’s success owes to its policy of forbidding parties smaller than four from sitting at six-person tables, but I am still in the process of examining the Bulldog data,” says Rae in a typically professorial tone. “From my preliminary analysis,” Rae continues, “it appears that the restaurant started off dismally, then slowly built up a consumer base until January 2005, at which point its patronage increased exponentially. January 2005 was for Bulldog Burrito what Malcolm Gladwell would call the ‘tipping point.’” I inquire as to what Rae thinks precipitated this ‘tipping point.’ He responds, “You see January 2005 marked the acquisition of Bulldog Burrito’s liquor license and hence the opening of the Bulldog Cantina. That the American university student in the twenty-first century would want to consume alcohol in a fast-casual setting rather than in a publick house or dance hall, this, this was Congdon’s crucial insight.” Rae tells me that he will send me the full report when he is finished, and I leave his office. But on the way out, I run into Film Studies Professor Michael Kerbel, who has overheard my conversation with Rae. Kerbel, who is a Bulldog Burrito regular – he orders the El Vaquero without fail engages me in a frank discussion of the Mazza-Congdon debate, concluding, “To say that Jason Congdon piggybacked on the success of Peter Mazza is like saying that Stanley Kubrick piggybacked on the success of the Lumière brothers.”

I walk back to Bulldog Burrito, and I see a student playfully talking to Congdon as I enter the restaurant. “How’s it hangin’, Cong-dawg?” asks the student. “Can’t complain about this weather, am I wrong?” replies Congdon excitedly, as he gives the student a high-five. At this point, Congdon notices my presence and is visibly embarassed; I’ve caught him off-guard. Eager to get back to more serious matters, Congdon invites me into his office.

Underneath the clippings of “Howard and Nester” cartoons from decades-old Nintendo Powers, Congdon’s desk contains photographs from Chihuaha, Puebla, Baja, and a number of other Mexican states. “Which area of Mexico is your favorite?” I inquire. “Never been,” replies Congdon, “though I once got off at the wrong train stop and ended up in East Norwalk’s el barrio. Nice folks there.” Abruptly changing subjects, Congdon proclaims, “I’m finally ready to answer your question. You see, the secret of my success can be summed up in one word… Guac.” Congdon has an endearing habit of giving his food nicknames – guacamole is “guac,” quesadillas are “quesas,” sour cream is “sour-y.” “Guac,” Congdon continues, “is the only item on the Bulldog menu that turns a profit. Everything else – burritos, quesas, nachos, margaritas, heck even flan – is just a loss leader to bring people into the restaurant to buy guac. I was actually going to call the place ‘Bulldog Guac,’ but a corporate type I spoke to back at Lego talked me out of it. ‘Bulldog Guac,’ that woulda been somethin’, huh?” Suddenly Congdon gets that trademark twinkle in his eye, and he’s lost in his own dreamscape. I half-expect the first verse of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” to come on from some unknown jukebox. Still in a state of reverie, Congdon slowly takes a yellowed piece of paper from a filing cabinet. “This would have been the logo,” he drawls, showing me a picture of a bulldog with side orders of guacamole for eyes. Congdon suddenly snaps out of his daydream and states rather seriously, “Through one of my Mexican employees, I have an excellent supplier of cheap avocados. The low cost of that input allows me to make huge profits on the guac. It’s Business 101.”

Eager to learn more about Congdon’s unique reliance on guacamole to financially support his entire operation, I talk to Brandon Gibbons, Vice President of Economic Consulting at McKinsey Consultants. After reviewing only a handful of Bulldog Burrito’s financial statements, Gibbons decides he’s seen enough to come to a conclusion. “Mr. Congdon,” determines Gibbons, “is completely delusional. His own records show that guacamole orders represent a mere 1.3% of his total sales. If, as he claims, he is losing money on all other items, then he would be hemorrhaging cash. Yet these documents show steady profits for Bulldog.” Gibbons continues with a highly technical discussion of the New Haven labor market and a burrito-folding method that some trade journals tout as a breakthrough in efficiency. “In any case,” Gibbons concludes, “my real concern is that Mr. Congdon cooks the books so as to refuse to admit even to himself the runaway costs of maintaining a banned video game system for which it is nearly impossible to find replacement parts.”

At this point, I feel I have a firm grasp on all the complexities and nuances of Jason Congdon the business visionary. But what about Jason Congdon the man? I decide that the key to Congdon’s character must be tucked away somewhere in his upbringing, so I visit Congdon’s boyhood home.

Casa Congdon, as it is affectionately known, lies on a sleepy street in the Dunwoody section of East Hartford. The house, with its aluminum siding and brick chimney, is almost a visual shorthand for 20th century lower-middle-class New England. I stare at its peeling pale green paint – the color of guacamole, of course – until the gaunt figure of Jennifer Congdon swings open the front door. Even on first sight, it is apparent that the Congdon matriarch was extremely attractive as a young lady. But in her desperate attempt to cling to her fading beauty, Mrs. Congdon’s successive plastic surgeries – bankrolled with money provided by her son – have given her face the waxy texture of a children’s doll. Mrs. Congdon, wrapped in a terrycloth robe and puffing away at a Parliament Light, invites me to come inside. “Have a seat in the living room and I’ll be with you in just a minute, sug,” she tells me. Mrs. Congdon proceeds to walk into the dining room and pours an elderly woman – who I later learned is her 97-year-old mother Georgina – a glass of water. The elderly woman then hands Mrs. Congdon a quarter. I only mention this vignette because it sheds some light on quite how deeply the virtue of salesmanship is ingrained in the Congdon DNA.

Mrs. Congdon returns to the living room and hands me a photo album. “When Jason was a child,” Mrs. Congdon begins, “all the other kids in the neighborhood would put up lemonade stands or hold bake sales just to make some pocket money. And boy, Jason didn’t like that. He hated that these kids didn’t care about their food and didn’t have any sense of customer service. So Jason decided he’d set up his own stand. And Jason’s passions, well they lay more in sauces, dips, spreads, that sort of thing.” Mrs. Congdon points to a faded Polaroid photograph. A young Jason Congdon is smiling the kind of shit-eating grin he still gets when he makes a big catering sale to the Yale Herald, as he points to a handwritten cardboard sign that reads, “Jason’s CONGDON-MENTS.” “So what kind of bread did Jason sell to put the condiments on,” I inquire. “Bread?” Mrs. Congdon replies bemusedly, “Oh heaven’s no. Only condiments. Jason was very adamant about that. But boy could he close a sale. And you know, the folks around here, they really took a shine to him. He ended up doing pretty well for himself. And look at what he’s got going for him now. This hi-definition television, the surround sound stereo, that was all bought with burrito money. Sorry, guac money.”

Although he lavishes gifts on his mother, Jason lives modestly in a one-bedroom apartment above Bulldog Burrito. He could undoubtedly afford a spacious house in Hamden or some other tony suburb, but he prefers to wait with the move until he starts a family. In our final interview, Congdon, characteristically self-effacing, remarks, “I don’t need a big-screen TV or anything; that stuff’s really more my mom’s style. Me, I’m happy with this 12 inch black and white guy. It’s great for watching security footage from the double B, and that’s all I’m really interested in right now. Occasionally I flip on Telemundo, you know, just to get a sense of what’s going on with my employees.”

So there you have it—a young man from a working-class background pulls himself up by the bootstraps through a combination of entrepreneurial spirit, hard work, and determination. Though he lived with limited means as a child, in adulthood he provides amply for his beloved mother, himself and his future wife and children. To those who dismiss this as an isolated success, I stress that Jason Congdon isn’t some pointy-headed MBA. No, if you scoured this great land from the San Fernando Valley all the way to the Adirondack Mountains, you’d find that he’s just an ordinary American. He’s an ordinary American who dared to have a dream and went out and achieved that dream. A dream of owning his own business. A dream of providing slightly above average Mexican food to overprivileged college students. An American Dream.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Amazing Entertainment News from the NY Daily News

I'm going to pre-order tickets to this:

A Busey-Zane career massacre?

Who knew Gary Busey and Billy Zane were so hard up for roles?

Even Hollywood liberals may be shocked that the American actors took part in a Turkish film that portrays U.S. troops as savages who slaughter Iraqi civilians.

"Valley of the Wolves: Iraq" shows G.I.s crashing a wedding, where they gun down dozens of innocent guests, shooting the groom in the head and blasting away at a boy in front of his mother.

The soldiers drag the ones who live to Abu Ghraib prison, where a Jewish-American doctor (played by Busey) disembowels them - explaining their organs will be sold to rich people in New York, London and Tel Aviv.

Zane plays a rogue American officer who calls himself a "peacekeeper sent by God."

Zane and Busey aren't known as outspoken critics of White House policy. So why did they take the parts?

A rep for "Titanic" star Zane didn't return our call.

A rep for "Buddy Holly Story" star Busey told us: "It was basically a payday for him."

Anti-American feeling has been brewing in Turkey since a 2003 incident in which U.S. Army troops held Turkish special forces officers captive because the G.I.s thought they were Iraqi insurgents.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Building Security Guards

Would you really trust them in an emergency? Be honest. I know that my answer would usually be no. In most cases they are glorified secretaries in uniform. They do keep a sense of order in general just by their presence, but if a situation got dangerous I would not feel safe putting my life in their hands.

For example: Last week I had to hand-deliver a package across the street to the MLB offices. After talking with a woman at the front desk, I was told to go around the corner to the messenger entrance where someone would come out and escort me upstairs.

When I approached the door that I supposed to be the messenger entrance, I peeked through the little window at the top and what did I see? I saw four women in uniform gyrating, dancing, and laughing hysterically in a small office. Inspirational, no? After I entered and the women were suitably embarrassed, I met one of them around the corner and we entered the elevator together.

Woman: It's not what you think it was. We were doing our impressions of that Nextel commercial.
Me (playing along): That's exactly what I thought it was.
Woman: Don't you just love that commercial, it is so funny!
Me: Yeah!
(awkward silence)
Me: So, what residential college are you in?
(no response)

And these are the people protecting our buildings?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Lester Lives

I know some of you are worried about Lester because he hasn't posted in awhile and he's entangled in the Trial of The Century with Munz and his Dream Team of lawyers. Fear not- Lester is alive and well, though I can't tell you where he is (hint: he's with a certain co-blogger who once shilled for Hertz. I can say no more).
I can, however, pass on a document that Lester has obtained. Lester is going to use this document to PROVE that the Munz scribblings on Immortalized were not "false posts", but rather the pure, unvarnished truth, as written by the man himself. The Munz lawyers tried to suppress this document, claiming it was protected under doctor-patient privilege. That attempt failed, since in this transcript Munz describes his innermost visions not to a certified psychiatrist, but rather to the wispy-haired She-Man at Ivy Noodle. So without further ado, a glimpse into the Mind of Munz

--Transcript begins--

Ivy Noodle She-Man (INSM): You onlah one puhson, you sit at countah!

Munz: I had a dream last night. A prophecy if you will.

INSM: What if nice famiry want sit down, 5 peoples. They no wanna hear about how Mahk Warnah play in Frorida panhandle!

Munz: I was sitting in my room watching television. I tried to turn on CNN. But it wasn't anywhere to be found. I tried to turn on Food Network. It too was nowhere. I panicked. I flipped through TV Guide. Neither channel was listed. It was then that I noticed a new channel I'd never seen before. I flipped to it. And there, on the television, I beheld the most glorious programming known to man. CNN and Food Network had MERGED into one mega-network. No more politics OR food- I now had politics AND food!

INSM: What you want? I have othah customah to deal with.

Munz (eyes closed, in a trance-like state now): I saw Lou Dobbs. He, he was telling me that Walter Mondale ate paella on the night before the '84 Democratic Convention. And there was Emeril, my sweet Emeril, in the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. "Bush lied, soldiers died. BAM!" he exclaimed.

INSM: If you keep talking rike this, I no refill your watah.

Munz: And I saw Joe Biden. He told me that La Tolteca has the best taco in North Delaware. Then Rachel, my edible princess Rachel Ray, she was on too. She was in Brookline, hometown of Michael Dukakis- the Massachusetts Miracle. And Rachel was saying "The Daily Kos wing of the party is hurting our appeal in the suburbs. I say keep radical ideas in the kitchen, not in the public forum- radical ideas like chocolate-covered shrimp!"

INSM: Hey, bloggahs have point. Democlatic Pahty need some spine.

Munz: [Unintelligible wail]
[Munz drools uncontrollably and has a seizure]

-End of Transcript-

I feel pretty confident that this evidence will vindicate Lester.