As any episode of MTV's Cribs will tell you, people's bank accounts are often inversely proportional to their level of good taste. This is especially true of people in Los Angeles. And on Christmas, that most materialistic time of the year, this is especially evident. I've been collecting pictures of garishly decorated mansions over the last few weeks, and now I will share them with you. Like a Fug Blog, but for houses. I apologize for the blurriness and darkness of some of the photos, but this was the best I could do considering that it was nighttime and I had to take the pictures quickly before the people inside the houses called the police on me.

Check out how people with way too much money and time on their hands have chosen to wish you a screaming MERRY CHRISTMAS with their mansion decorations:

I don't know what I like more:

the neon jingle bells,

or the snowman contemplating suicide up on the roof.

I don't know if this is for the holidays or not, but this mansion has multi-colored lights shining on it, making the house an ugly green on the left and an ugly blue-purple on the right. Oh, and you can't really see it here, but it's orange in the center.

This one is really blurry, but what you're looking at is a bunch of identical cardboard Santas frozen in mid-merry jig. That, and about 10,000 lights.

A closer shot of the dancing Santas.

Completing the mansion of dancing Santas is a big ol' Star of David/Contradicting Statement over the front door.

This is just one small part of this next house.

There is such a thing as too many lawn ornaments. I'd also like to mention that the owners of this house had a special temporary wire fence erected around their front lawn, to protect their ugly crap from getting stolen. Or mercy killed. Sadly, I wasn't able to get a picture of the FOUR SLEIGHS. Not even Santa needs four sleighs!

And finally, I give you "Norrywood," complete with horrified onlookers.

Never one to follow tradition, Norrywood's Clauses are African-American, and, judging by the "black power" gesture Santa's giving, damn proud. And yes, those are replicas of Michelangelo's "David" in the background.

In fact, this house has something like fifteen David replicas lining its driveway all year round. For Christmas, they all got little Santa hats, which is awesome. On the roof of the house are scattered pillars with busts of Venus on them. Just sticking up on the roof. That's why this is the Tackiest House In All The World. And yes, that is fake snow on the yard there.

And that's it for me. Happy Holidays, I'm going home!



Thoughts I Have In The Parking Garage Of My Place Of Employment

"I can't wait to get home and make some spaghetti and have a beer."

CRUNCH! <----the sound of my car hitting the parking garage support pole (again)

"Make that two beers."



I think I just spent 90% of this weekend asleep. Oops!


The Survivor: Vanuatu Finale Party

Hey, remember when I posted doctored pictures of me, my co-workers, and various Survivor: Vanuatu contestants at the premiere party? Well, now it's time for the finale party, and these pictures are REAL!

The red carpet arrival of Casey, me, Gwen, and Afsheen. I'm just going to apologize right now for the fact that I have the same facial expression in almost every single picture.

The red carpet at the time of our arrival. Apparently no one was interested in taking pictures of the stars behind the scenes. Hmph.

We watched the show in the party tent. Eliza called people bitches and then Chris won. I partook of free food and drinks. After the show, all the Survivor people joined us in the party tent. Here they are, in order of when they got kicked off the show (you'll notice that I didn't get a picture with all eighteen of them. That's because I wasn't necessarily interested in meeting everyone. Just the hot guys and the people who made it to the jury who I didn't despise):

Brook. Yep.

Oh my god, Brady is awesome. So nice, so friendly. I wrote him a letter that I will post here instead of sending to him:

My dearest Brady,

I know you just got married a few weeks ago,
but I'm sure we can still work some kind of arrangement out.
I really don't mind being The Other Woman.

All my heart,

P.S. It is so cool that you're in the FBI.

John K. I can't believe how close our faces are.

We dared Jake to go up to Rory and tell him it was a beautiful day in Vanuatu, which is something that Rory said like fifty times a day when he was on the island. I still can't believe Jake actually did it.

Chad was really nice.

Ami and her girlfriend, Chrissy. This is about as close to Ami as I really wanted to get.

Julie is cool.

I met Eliza and her mom. Eric met them, too, but I cut him out of the picture because he looked too tall next to us. Eliza's mom said she was honored that we wanted a picture with her, but if you take your shirt off on top-five television for your daughter, you deserve whatever honors can be bestowed upon you.

Ah, Scout Cloud Lee. I was not a big fan of hers on the show, but in person she was much more likable.

The one thing I wanted out of the night was a chance to meet Twila, and thank her for all the awesome moments she gave us that made our work day more enjoyable. She was actually much nicer and warmer than I expected her to be. Not that Twila is mean, but she seemed like one of those people who doesn't open up to strangers. Plus, she had just lost out on $900,000. I mean, I'd be cranky.

And finally, Chris. I don't think he gets enough credit for how well he played the game. Even though I was rooting for Twila, he really did deserve to win.

Some other photos from the party:

I have no idea what former football coach Jimmy Johnson was doing there, but Blake really wanted a picture with him, and he was semi-happy to oblige.

Besides Twila, I really wanted to meet Jeff Probst. I have developed a little crush on him through my work on Survivor. I wrote him a letter, too:

My dearest Jeff,

I would never vote you off
my island.

Warmest regards,

P.S. I love khaki!

This woman, whose very arm-warmer-clad, obnoxious-trucker-hat-wearing presence made me hate her, suddenly threw herself in front of my camera and basically forced me to take a picture of her. I have no idea who this woman is, although I heard that she was on a previous season of the show. If you recognize her, please tell me.

There were a few other ex-Survivor contestants at the party. Among them was someone I will not name because he is an attention-loving famewhore, but he was on the seventh season and got beaten in the final endurance challenge by a fifty-year-old woman wearing a Boy Scout uniform. You wouldn't think he would want to show his face in public after that, but he has no shame so there he was, taking advantage of the free drinks and forcing himself on every woman he could find. A guy from Average Joe talked to me about how he deals with the sudden pressures of fame, even though I had in no way solicited his opinion. I'll leave you with a picture this guy, who said my favorite line from Survivor ever besides everything that came out of Rudy and Twila's mouth:

"She died, dude."

See more pictures at Jake and Gwen's sites.



Four hundred and seventy dollars later, my car is good as new. The brake pads were worn down completely so the grinding noise I heard was the padless brakes scraping the rotors. It was also the sound of money flying out of my ass. Oh, and the sound of me learning a lesson about the importance of preventative maintenance.

I can afford it, but only if I curb my big-spending ways. Bringing in the big reality show peon money was getting to my head anyway. I started going to the fancy grocery store up the street instead of the more economical, if less pretty, Food4Less. I finally had time for a shopping trip the other night, after feeling like Old Mother Hubbard for the last week or so. Our cupboards were bare of everything except for Thanksgiving leftovers, which is problematic because: A. Thanksgiving was weeks ago, and B. the fact that I mentioned Thanksgiving means that the Google sidebar ads will feature Turducken recipes again. Evil Roommate was home, and I asked if he wanted to come with me to the store. Perhaps he could buy his own cheese so that the next time I want some Monterey Jack, I won't open the fridge and discover an empty Monterey Jack wrapper because someone went and ate it all last night.

Evil Roommate: Oh, I don't really eat very much at home so there's no reason for me to buy anything at the store. Just get some staples like butter and clam chowder and cereal. That's all I really eat here. It's my way of keeping expenses down. I usually just eat out.
Sara: But doesn't eating out actually mean you spend a lot more?
Evil Roommate: Not if you get three-dollar hamburgers.
Sara: But you usually get Thai food or sushi.
Evil Roommate: Well, I don't like hamburgers.
Sara: ...

I don't know how widespread F4L is across the country, but they certainly don't have them back in Connecticut, which is much the worse for that. F4L has the same stuff that the pricey place up the street from me has, except that it's half the price. Sometimes they have "green tag" specials, which I'm pretty sure means that they robbed a truck, because otherwise I don't see how they can charge fifty cents for Yoplaits and make any profit. Evil Roommate and I fondly recall the day when F4L robbed a bacon truck and Oscar Meyer Center Cut bacon was only two dollars a package. This time, they robbed a Reese Peanut Butter Puffs truck, so I got two boxes for only five dollars! It was such a great deal that I didn't even think of how I'm turning into my mother with all the cost-cutting grocery shopping.

As you can imagine, Ramen, the staple food of the poor, is a big deal at F4L. They have an entire AISLE devoted to it. And they have huge aisles. You can get Ramen in single packets, or you can get it in a grocery cart-sized package that won't even fit in your cabinet. I used to love Ramen until I started working at a place where it was readily available in cup-of-soup form. The Maruchan Instant Lunch (Chicken Flavor) smells really good, and initially, after you give the added boiling water five minutes to turn the freeze-dried noodles and peas into plump, moisture-filled noodles and peas, it tastes good too. Then you get about halfway through and you realize that eating this stuff is a chore and you're only doing it for the satisfaction of completion. I felt sick after eating the Maruchan Instant Lunch, which might be because it contains fifty-one percent of the recommended daily allowance of sodium for an average-sized man. I am not an average-sized man. I am a below-average-sized woman. Thus, I ingested something like three-quarters of the sodium I should be eating throughout the entire day in seven minutes. That's nasty.

A few weeks later, I was hungry, and the break room was out of free food. Well, almost out: there were a couple Maruchan Instant Lunches (Chicken Flavor) left. So I had another one. I felt even sicker and I swore that I would never eat another Maruchan Instant Lunch (Chicken Flavor) ever again. Just the smell of them makes me feel sick.

The enemy!

So, of course, one of the night shift workers' car broke down which somehow made him have to work on the day shift. This guy loves the Maruchan Instant Lunch (Chicken Flavor). He loves it so much that he eats like seven cups of it a day. He is eating it when I come into work and he has a bowl of it right before he leaves. If he could figure out a way to mainline it for free, he would. Because a guy who eats seven Maruchan Instant Lunches (Chicken Flavor) a day just because they're free? Is cheap.

Our work room smells like Maruchan all the time. Through the amazing scientific process of osmosis, the Chicken Flavor enters my eye membranes and makes me weep. There is no ventilation in our office because we had to close the door for reasons that I cannot disclose, except to say that they involve us needing to be inconspicuous and a trailer full of rats. So the Maruchan smell is trapped inside the room and there is no escape. A few days ago, I was pleased to discover that I had a window next to my desk, but my happiness was soon replaced with bitter disappointment when I realized that I could not open the window, and that the window doesn't face outdoors, but into another hallway. The most exciting thing that's ever happened there is the time when Gwen taped a picture of Eliza to it.

A cloud of despair hangs over our room. Despair and Maruchan particles. My only hope is that either my workplace stops giving out free Maruchan Instant Lunches or my co-worker dies of hypernatremia. I hope it's the former, because I don't really want anyone to die and also because with my financial situation such as it is, I might be tempted to eat another cup of Maruchan.


More Carma

I'm pretty sure that I am driving without brakes right now. As of this moment, my brakes are still functional, but almost every time I use them I hear the most horrible scraping sound, which probably means that the pads are gone. So I need to get that fixed. Does anyone know of a trustworthy place in Hollywood where I can get a tune-up, a new driver's side mirror, and brake pads? If you could also tell me where there's a magic tree that blossoms money from its branches, that would be awesome.




Please hold your applause for my clever title until the entry concludes. Thank you.

The ad for the apartment Evil Roommate and I ended up renting said that it came with two parking spots. This is perfect for us since we have two cars and don't like to park on the street. After we had signed the lease and gotten the keys to our apartment, we were informed that by "two parking spots" they actually meant "one parking spot that is extra long so you can fit two cars in it." It's called a tandem spot. They're popular in this town.

We don't mind our tandem spot for the most part except for the days when I actually manage to leave for work on time, and thus Evil Roommate hasn't left for work yet and his car is parked behind mine. Then I have to execute a 37,032 point turn before I can even get on the road. It goes a little something like this:

Creepy Landlord, who never minded having a tandem spot since his household only has one car, occupied the space next to ours. Now that he's gone, the space is vacant. So we annexed it. We did this for ourselves, but also for everyone on this planet, because it was taking me about twenty minutes to get out of the spot and that was burning fuel and polluting our fragile ecosystem. We luxuriated in our extra space and were quite proud of ourselves that night. Then Evil Roommate went out clubbing and I went to bed.

The next morning, I was running late, so Evil Roommate had already left for work. Next to my car, placed triumphantly in my brand new solo parking space, stood the building's maintenance man, spreading sand around Evil Roommate's brand new solo parking space. "Good morning," I said, because I'm polite. "Piece of shit," he responded.

At first I thought he was talking about an actual piece of shit, that there was fecal matter in Evil Roommate's parking space. This is totally reasonable, as Old Gay Men With Dog have been known to walk their dog entirely within the confines of the garage when they're too afraid to go outside. It may have even been human excrement. Once I found a pool of barf not thirty feet away from my car in that garage. Okay, the barf had been expelled from a friend of mine after a particularly interesting night on Sunset Strip, but still. I don't put anything past the people in my building after one of them stole my laundry. Eventually I figured out that the guy was speaking in figurative terms and asked if he was talking about my car. "No," he said, and then he said some other words but I don't listen to people for more than two minutes at a time before noon so I wasn't paying attention.

I talked to Evil Roommate on the phone later that day and he told me that he had a car problem. I asked if it had anything to do with the pile of sand and a piece of shit and he said that it did, because he has an oil leak. He has an oil leak because he drove over the intersection of Franklin and Whitley. Anyone who knows that area knows that there is an unmarked speed bump here. Evil Roommate hit it at such a speed that he tore his oil pan out of his car. He parked the car and went to bed, only to find, the next morning, that all the oil in his car had leaked out the gaping hole at the bottom of its container. So he drove to Pepboys and bought some new oil and dumped that in his car and decided to just keep filling his engine with new oil prior to all car trips because that would be cheaper than getting it fixed. This means that gallons and gallons of oil will be leaked onto the streets of Los Angeles. Expect them to resemble one of the later levels of the classic videogame "RC Pro-Am" soon.

As you slide across three lanes of traffic and towards your inevitable demise, be sure to thank Evil Roommate!

We have parking garage at work, and it also has tandem spots. I usually share one with a co-worker so that we don't have to give our keys over to the valet because if the person parking inside needs to go anywhere, he can tell the other person and we can both go down and move the cars. Even with the tandem spaces, there aren't enough parking spaces for workers, so the valet usually ends up putting a third layer of cars on all the spots and everything is a tight squeeze. Pulling out of work last night, I knew I had parked close to the support pole but it looked like I had enough space to get by it. The need for me to get my depth perception checked out became quite apparent when I heard the loud snap, crackle, and pop of my driver's side mirror being ripped off the car. My co-worker, patiently waiting for me to exit our spot so that he could pull out and leave as well, also heard it. We checked out the damage and ascertained that my mirror was, in fact, ripped off the pole but that a goodly amount of duct tape should fix everything. We got this from Gwen, whose experience in driving too close to solid objects had made her an expert in the field of car side mirror repair. It's all good except for the fact that I had my little accident in front of the valets and they are sure to make fun of me for it for the rest of the week.

Things are much worse for Evil Roommate, who did end up paying for his car to get fixed before he could flood the city with oil that would drain into the ocean and kill baby seals. They gave him a new oil pan, but since he was driving around without one, tiny shards of metal had been circulated through his engine and into the pistons. He will need a new engine. But the car mechanics in Little Armenia do it right, and they instructed him to drive around until the new oil pan doesn't look new anymore and then bring the car into a VW dealer complaining of hearing a clanking sound in his engine, with no idea how this would happen since he hasn't gotten into any accidents. They find the metal shards and give him a new engine and it's all covered under the warranty. Hopefully.

Evil Roommate and I took a look at our cars and realized that we had both been stricken down immediately after we annexed Creepy Landlord's parking space. We decided that the space must have some sort of curse upon it. We both park in our tandem spot again, and I do the 37,032 point turn, which is now made a bit trickier because my new ghetto-fabulous mirror is pointed downwards and cannot be moved, and we have learned our lesson. The lesson is not, incidentally, that we should be more careful and less speedy when driving or to make extra sure to check how close we are to another object while backing out of a space. It's to avoid curses, and take them seriously. Superstition beats self-improvement every time.