Monday, September 28, 2009

Latte vs. Mocha

In answer to Otters' question: a Mocha is a Latte made with chocolate sauce instead of some other flavoring or no flavoring at all (that's what a basic latte is: espresso + hot or cold milk). It's just a very popular KIND of Latte, so it gets its own category. The WORD "mocha" actually derives from an Arabic term for a region in Yemen where they grow a type of coffee with a chocolately aroma.

I am such a Starbucks geek. It's really, really sad.

In other news - I got my first really freakish Starbucks-Princess-Customer experience today. Lady threw an utter tantrum - called me an idiot and worse, cussed out my manager, was in general a complete you-know-the-b-word-I-want-to-put-here.

Because I charged her 40 extra cents for Soy milk in her Venti Americano.

40 $%#$!! EXTRA CENTS.

The thing is, if she had asked me nicely to take the charge off - I would've. But no. She called me an idiot right off.

Clue to Getting What You Want at Starbucks #1: BE NICE. It won't kill you. And we will give you what you want, most of the time. But treat us like our only purpose in life is to lick your Gucci high-heels and we will smile and very politely tell you, "Sorry, that's our policy."

The Birth of Marxism

A plain young man, sitting alone in a ragged coat at a Paris cafe. A handsome young couple walks by, well-dressed, in-love.
Young man: "Man, other people have everything . . ."
Young man: "That's it!!! OTHER PEOPLE have EVERYTHING!!!"

And that's the way it went :-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Starbucks Snob Becometh I Am

So, the bagging job at Pavilions (a slightly snootier Vons/Safeway grocery store) upgraded to an in-store Starbucks position. Which means I get to learn how to make Starbucksy drink and deal with Starbucksy customers and learn all about why Starbucks is the BEST FREAKIN' COFFEE PLACE IN THE GALAXY. I'm a very loyal employee, you see. But (before you ask), I'm still a Safeway employee technically, so I don't get free coffee, discounts, health care, or tips (yeah, I think it sucks too. As do the customers who don't want to put their change back in their wallets but would rather gift me with it)

It's kinda scary, actually. Work five hours straight making yummy sweet milky frothy awesome whip-cream topped espresso confections, and one all of the sudden begins to crave coffee. Even if you're a Tea Nazi, like me. I find myself needing coffee fixes during breaks. Scarier still, I find myself MAKING COFFEE AT HOME! And drinking it! Coffee! Me!!

In addition to actually liking and/or drinking coffee, I find myself becoming one of those annoying people who takes pleasure in the fact that she is initiated into the Mysteries of Starbucks Awesomeness. So I'll go into a Starbucks, rattle off an order for a "Triple-Grande 7-pump upside down non-fat caramel machiatto with extra caramel" and then smile obnoxiously at the person behind me, as if to say: "You WERE just going to order a "medium latte," weren't you? You were GOING to betray your uninitiated status! But now you're going to stand there for an extra 30 seconds coming up with an extra adjective or two to throw in there, trying to recall which size a Tall is!! BWAHAHAHAH!!"

I think Starbucks may actually be evil. It's brainwashed me. But I'm not that evil. In fact, I'll let you in on a few really yummy drinks that aren't on the menu, so that you, too, can feel like a Starbucks snob. I came up with the names. The quoted portions are what you should say while ordering. I figure grande is a pretty neutral size, so that's what they all are...

1. The I-Don't-Care-About-The-Calories Mocha: "Grande Breve Black & White, Extra Whip". This will give you a mocha made with both regular mocha sauce & white mocha sauce, (it also goes by the term "tuxedo" or "zebra" and, maybe, legend has it, "penguin") The breve means they make it with half-and-half instead of 2% milk. And, yeah, we do put vanilla syrup in our whipped cream, which is why it tastes so good. Yummy!!!

2. The Holiday Mixer: "Grande Soy 2-pump Pumpkin Spice Latte with 2 pumps of peppermint" Some of you may not like the taste of this one, but it's interesting, and you can only order it during the Fall when we have our PSL syrup (but we DO carry peppermint year round, so, feel free to ask for it in almost anything). I recommend you guys try adding soy instead of milk to any of your drinks - it's different, but not radically out-there as far as taste goes.

3. The I-Seriously-Hate-Coffee-But-I-Need-Caffeine-and-Sugar-NOW Frapaccinno: "A Venti Cinnamon Dolce Frappaccino with an added shot." If we have a flavor, you can basically get a frap made with it, so NEVER be bound by what's on the menu. If you don't want ANY caffeine, you can also order a Creme Frap in any flavor (no coffee involved - just yummy milk products).

Other Helpful Starbucks Tid-Bits:

a.) You can get espresso added to anything for 55 cents. Except Iced Tea...and I mean, if you REALLY WANTED TO we'd do it for you. But that's just gross, so don't.

b.) You can order a drink in a size-larger cup in order to accomodate things like extra ice or (my favorite) extra whip cream (we don't charge any extra for this, but you do run the risk of the cashier making a mistake and charging you for the bigger cup)

c.) Ask what flavor syrups we have. We have alot that aren't on the menu, and they're all interchangeable.

d.) You can substitute nonfat, whole milk, or half-and-half for regular if you wish. Soy costs a little extra, but I recommend trying it sometime.

A little later I'll post one of my traditional "Things Every Hourly-Wage Laborer Wish the Person Across the Counter Knew About Being a Decent Human Being" posts, which will pertain both to my Starbucks job and my bagging job (which I still do from time to time for the extra hours).

Happy Wednesday, People! Go spend money you don't have and fatten Starbucks' evil corporate coffers!!! :-D

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Might as Well

As long as I'm on here researching Civil War dresses (anybody out there want to sew me a reenacting dress?) and watching New Moon trailers and being more disgusted with Nancy Pelosi than usual, I might as well get around to explaining that prayer request I posted at the beginning of the summer. Many of you asked for further explanation, and I never kept my promise to blog on the subject. I figure I owe it to you, and probably should be transparent about the situation to any LBCC people who might read this blog (though I doubt any of them do...).

I crewed three shows last semester. One of these was called "Til Death Do Us Part," and was a fairly off-color satire/farce about marriage. More on this later. The third show was a Stage Combat Revue which I stage-managed. I did a relatively good job - my directors will tell you I did an amazing job, but that's only because a coincidence involving prop-shopping convinced them that I was a mind-reader :-P During that show, a friend from school approached me and asked if I'd be interested in assistant stage-managing under him at a local community theater (which does free Shakespeare during the summer that I'm a big fan of), which was producing Moliere's Tartuffe.

I was, as you might understand, thrilled. This was going to be my chance to break out of school-theater and get a little exposure in the larger So.Cal. theater community. It wasn't going to pay, but when has that ever stopped me? And though Tartuffe has it's off-color moments, I had read it and knew it to be a funny, morally-centered farce that targeted religious hypocrisy and greed.

Then, a couple weeks later, I heard from the stage manager that they were changing the play, and would be producing Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw instead. At first, I wasn't bothered. It sounded, to me, like a murder mystery or parlour farce or something Wildean of that nature. But I was foolish and didn't do research on the play until a little later. When I did, I discovered it was a 1960's era sex-farce that involves, among other things, near-nudity and a plot that revolves around a psychologist's efforts to bed a young lady during a job-interview.

After discovering this, I did another foolish thing: I sat on it. It took me two weeks to get up the courage to tell the stage manager that I might have a problem with the play's content and that I wanted to read the script before I could let myself participate. He was fairly understanding (considering this was @ 3 days before auditions), and let me borrow a script.

It was a very funny play. It rips up mid-century British sexual hypocrisy, psychiatric silliness, and is a rather good demonstration of one lie leading to a bigger lie and hence to all kinds of degenerate doings. But it wasn't a funny play the way Tartuffe is a funny play. I wish that I had been able to find the words to explain it well to my stage-manager when I pulled out of the project (he didn't seem to think there was that much of a difference between the two plays), but for me the difference was this: Tartuffe compares a crooked thing (hypocrisy and greed) to a straight thing (the way Moliere's audience knew a family and a Church OUGHT to be run), and asks us to laugh at the crooked thing because it is crooked when compared to the thing which is straight. WTBS takes a straight thing (the Beauty of the human sexual relationship), breaks it, and then expects us to laugh because it is broken. I suppose we can laugh to keep from crying, but that's about all we can do.

And still, I argued with God (after posting that blogpost and sending out a rather overdramatic prayer-request email). "But God this is my CHANCE! I thought YOU wanted me to do theater! You gave me these gifts! And now that I finally get to use them, you pull THIS on me? My stage manager is going to think I'm a flaky, over-reacting, fundamentalist HICK!!!" And He just smiled and gave me a very nice Sunday sermon by a Romanian missionary on Shadrach, Mesach, Abednego, the Fiery Furnace and standing alone for Christ. And then He handed me a fantasy novel (God is SO SNEAKY sometimes) wherein the hero, an Irish Christian pretending to be a priest in pagan Norway, learns what it means to forget how to be comfortable and to stand in The Loneliest Place, where the Cross is, no matter what it costs us (thanks ALOT Lars Walker). And then He looked at me and said, "Seriously? I died for you, and you don't want to give up a play you know you'll regret in the end? You've been praying for a way to show yourself my Daughter - well, this is it."

So I bought my stage manager a cup of coffee and rather stumblingly explained why I couldn't do the play. Everything always sounds so eloquent in my head, but I admit, I've never been very good at getting it out past this tongue thing. I think I got him to understand, in the end, that I was a Christian who believed that certain sexual mores were important for the existence of a Good Society and that I couldn't put my name on the production of a play that flouted what I believed. He was understanding, God bless him, though he did wonder why I had a problem with this play when I had already done Til Death Do Us Part. I could make the argument that Til Death was one of those plays that only laughs at what is crooked-when-compared-to-the-straight, but when I think about it, my witness probably WAS harmed by my participation in that production (any play that inspires one to write a poem with first and last lines that read "My eyes have grown accustomed to the darkness" is probably morally questionable in some way... Remind me to post the rest of the poem later).

Anyway, I stumbled out of the coffee shop and into the rest of my summer, bitterly disappointed that my summer-theater opportunity was shot to pieces, but also feeling lighter and better about myself and my Faith than I had in a long time. I had come out into the light and declared sides. I had stopped sulking in the shadows, wondering what people would "think of me" if I drew a Christian line in the theatrical sand and refused to cross it. I had stood in the Loneliest Place, and it really hadn't hurt as much as I assumed it would. God is Good, the Cross is Glory, to live is Christ, and to die is Gain.

But now the summer's over, and I'm back at LBCC for a little while. I've got a part in a one-act, the script of which I haven't read yet. PLEASE PRAY that, a.) I won't actually be asked to do/say anything that would harm my conscience, b.) if I am asked to, I dunno, wear underwear-as-outerwear onstage or make out with another character or something, that I'll be able to stand up and declare sides once again. Courage isn't just something that you can use once and then trust that it will be there again when you need it. You have to nurture it within oneself, and I'm a pretty bad courage-gardener all told.

But in Christ, I can do Anything.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Excerpts from what I've been working on lately (the main reason why I haven't been blogging). I suppose if any of this gets plagiarized, I can take it as a backhanded compliment:

"'. . . At the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God . . .'
They had to lean close to hear him. Aunt Jo swore she felt the soul pass through the skin of his fingers as he said it. But all Lucy saw and heard was a slow wind of breath and an old man's body growing somehow thinner before her eyes.
That was the end of Glenville for Lucy Chesterton-Shaw.
'Some things is meant,' said Aunt Martha as she and her grand-niece pulled out of the driveway a week later, Lucy's bedroom boxed and piled in the backseat. 'Some things is meant to be one way. The Lord writes a good paragraph on our world. Don't rewrite it. You're uncle would want you to remember that. Especially now you're having to live, God forgive us, with your Uncle John. Especially.'
Lucy was only half-listening, watching the oak-nestled pastureland glide by. After a while she was no longer in the car listening to an exposition on Romans 8. She running for the horizon under a bold sunset, arms outstretched, listening for the trumpets of God. She imagined the Rapture, her feet growing wings as she was caught up and carried off. She imagined the suddenly-unmanned Buick spinning across the empty highway. She imagined Glenville, abandoned in a heavenly rush like the body of her grand-uncle, dead seven days."
- From "Things Is Meant," a short story about a NorCal farmer's daughter who has to go live with her homosexual uncle in SoCal.

The following is the last bit of the first act of a play @ the Twelve Disciples(right now going by "The Good Dozen", set in the modern day. At the moment, it's a very wierd cross between Godspell, The Godfather, and Friends. Yeah, I don't know what to do with me either. At this point in the "action," Josh (Jesus) is sitting down with his followers after breaking up more than one argument and miraculously multiplying some pizzas so that they can all eat:

Thank you, Father, for providing everything we need. Let us always remember with gratitude the reason that we live.

Yeah – friends, football, pizza and beer!

THE GUYS laugh, but JOSH looks at PETER – not unkindly, but serious.

Peter, why are you here?

PETE puts his pizza down and meets JOSH’S gaze.

Because . . . you invited me.

Yes – but why did you take me up on my invitation?

Well – ‘cause . . . ‘cause you’re this city’s only hope.


‘Cause I figure it’s at the point where only God Almighty could fix things – and I believe you are . . . God.

JOSH leans back in his chair, a huge smile on his face.

Well that’s putting it . . . bluntly.

Your faith is as big as your heart, Pete. Don’t lose it, when you’re beat down and everything that’s good in the world fades away. I won’t always be here to put pizza on the table.

THE GUYS pull forward in their seats a little bit, listening intently.

Are you going away, Doc?

Yeah. I’m leaving soon.


I will finish the job my Father sent me here to do – and then I’ll go home to him.

You mean – home to Nazareth? Why go back there?

No, not Nazareth, Mer. The Endless Mountains are a flimsy shadow compared with my Home. My work is done in Nazareth, and it’s nearly done here in Pittsburgh.

On to New York next?

For you, perhaps, if my Father wills. But I will never see the Endless Mountains again, and my days in Pittsburgh are numbered – so don’t get comfortable. Don’t think I’m here to feed and teach and comfort only . . . Violence will break into your lives because of me. You will be arrested. You will lose what reputations you have left. You will lose jobs. Homes. Savings. Some will be gunned down in the street. Your families will disown you and your friends will pretend they don’t know you. The government will call you terrorists, the Mob will call you troublemakers, and the underground will call you sell-outs. You will Love everyone, and make no one happy. Can you face that?

I think I could – with you.

You are good and brave, Jack. Don’t be afraid – it is when you are alone that I am nearest to you.

And what about us?

You guys? You will all die for each other.

He picks up a piece of pizza with a knowing grin.

If you don’t all kill each other first.


If you're still around . . . thanks for reading. Hopefully the time I'm spending on these will be worth something to somebody someday. I'd welcome any comments you might have.