Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Interview With Ultimate Coupons

I did an interview with Ultimate Coupons about the book. Here's an excerpt.

Do you think people can take their finances or frugality too seriously?

Yes, and this book is a mockery of that mentality, as well as something of a satire of all those dry, overly serious personal finance books out there. There are more important things than scrimping on every penny you come across, but in writing this book I pretended like there isn’t. Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel is sort of an evil robot’s approach to personal finance.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Was Nearly A Walmart Ice Thief

I attempted to leave Walmart with a shopping cart full of groceries when an elderly women wearing a blue vest accosted me and demanded I show her a receipt. I handed it over grudgingly, telling her that I didn't have to show it to her and she didn't have the right to demand it.

"I'm only asking because you have ice," she said. "I need to make sure you paid for it."

"Of course I paid for it," I shot back, getting even less polite and composed than I was before, which is saying something because I was previously approximately negative 100,342 pisseroids on the pissometer. I might have even muttered something less than becoming under my breath about how nonplussed I was about the scenario, having to take a valuable 32 seconds out of my day to show her my receipt like a common ice thief.

She looked over the receipt and found that in fact I hadn't paid for it, then demurely allowed me to confirm this by handing it back. I was indeed nearly an ice thief.

I moped back to the checkout woman who had overlooked the ice and paid for it, accepting precisely five apologies from her.

And then when I left again I went to the other exit because I was afraid of once again coming into contact with the woman who so authoritatively served me. There was only a greeter at that other exit, and she was far too busy pulling out shopping carts for people to think to question my ice purchase as I walked into the existential void that is the Walmart parking lot. My thoughts involuntary turned back to the receipt checker.

I was probably the one ice thief she's caught in her 47 years on the job, and her vigilant stoppage of my near ice thievery no doubt will give her another 47 years of determinational fuel to stop and check the receipts of others who buy ice there. She is the proud lion, king of the jungle that is Walmart at Cortaro and I-10, and I am nothing more than a hyena, lurking in the shadows, desperate to evade her all-seeing gaze and furious bite of jungle justice.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: Bad Teacher

Copying off the paper of Bad Santa, and even going so far as to swipe a couple of its punch lines, Bad Teacher would seem to be doomed because its parts aren’t up to factory standard.

Cameron Diaz would seem to be no better equipped to play a sulphur-spewing hardass than Billy Bob Thornton is to wear spandex and star as one of Charlie’s Angels. Director Jake Kasdan (Orange County, Walk Hard) is no Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World) and since there are so many bad movie teachers out there, it’s just not as funny to see one in its own movie as it is to see a rogue department store St. Nick.

But Bad Teacher works better than it should, thanks to Diaz rising to the occasion as the conniving, booze-swilling, pot-smoking, obscenity-uttering center of her own universe, Miss Halsey. She’s a terrible, unlikable person with no self-esteem or ambition. She’s proudly shallow, indifferent to her job and so callous to the needs of her students that if she sees someone crying or being bullied, she walks the other way. She’s the reason charter schools exist.

Miss Halsey’s philosophy is Every Child Left Behind. She sleepwalks into class on the first day, throws a movie on to one of her middle school’s antiquated TVs, then proceeds to take a nap. She repeats the process every day, despite the fact that her tattle-tale neighbor, Miss Squirrel (Lucy Punch) is onto her.

It’s not that Halsey is lazy. She works harder than any other teacher, because her goals, which include scamming enough money for a boob job, finding ways to smoke pot while on campus and making life hell for Miss Squirrel, are loftier than simply grinding through the state grade level standards.

Diaz is excellent, and she has plenty of help for Punch, who channels Sarah Palin by way of Miss Krabappel, and Jason Segel, a slacker gym teacher who longs for Halsey’s withered, black heart. I could have done without Justin Timberlake, who plays the independently wealthy substitute teacher and object of lust for all female teachers. Timberlake has snapped out of his brief flicker of The Social Network awesomeness to retreat back to his Love Guru idiocy.

Bad Teacher entertains with a steady stream of laughs subverted by occasional islands of unfunny blandness. Oh, look. A loud fart! A lesbian teacher who displays her attraction for women! A fat teacher who dances! Fat people shouldn’t dance!

Cameron Diaz shouldn’t be as good as Billy Bob Thornton, either. And maybe she isn’t. But she proves she can be every bit as bad.

Starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Punch, Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake. Written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenbeg. Directed by Jake Kasdan. 92 minutes. Rated R.

Like this review? Buy my book.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Love from PT Money

Thanks to PT Money, which named Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel as one of the best personal finance books. An excerpt:

One of the most enjoyable personal finance books I’ve every read is this one by Phil Villarreal. It goes through some items that you probably wouldn’t do to save money — and some that you might actually consider. A hilarious treatise on saving money by any means.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Best Part About It's A Small World At Disneyland

Is how they play that great song over and over again. Just when you're fearful they'll stop at 400 ear-maiming times in a row, they go on playing it another 700 times as you sit there throughout the 90 hour experience.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Think My Son Tried To Make Me Cry

We were building megablocks together and he looked me in the eyes and told me "Dad, I want you to remember me just like this. Even when I get old and move far away. I promise I will always visit you. Not just on Sundays, but Mondays, Tuesdays and Sundays."

He hasn't gotten me yet but every time I think about that moment I get closer to tearing up. He's a clever one.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

My Predictions For E3

Nintendo will call its new console the Blast Processor. It will include special controllers with lava fountain screens and be able to be used as a hat at British royal weddings.

Gamers will get to go hands-on with a Halo party game called What the Halo.

Sony will reveal that 80 percent of its net profits will go toward buying pot for hackers in hopes that they will mellow out and stop attacking it.

There will be a new Duck Hunt, and it will be a first-person shooter starring Mario with a machine gun. And yes, you will get to kill the dog this time.

Madden 12 will just be Madden 11 in new boxes and no one will notice.

Atari will reveal it's getting out of the video game business and will resort to selling jaguars. Not old game machines, actual jaguars. On the black market.

Crystal Dynamics, makers of Tomb Raider, will reveal that Lara Croft will look completely different in each of the next seven games, just for the hell of it.

Activision will unveil a subscription program that monitors the amount of breaths players take while playing Call of Duty online. Each breath will go toward achievement points and perks, and cost players a penny.