Amoeblog

(In which we actually exist!)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 18, 2014 02:05pm | Post a Comment

Was (Not Was?): Elvis Presley, Hitler's brain, Jimmy Hoffa, the author


You guys, I’m not dead. I know – like I’d ever get that lucky!

It’s been around 8,888 years since my last post here on the Amoeblog (give or take 8,888 years), which begs the question: What have I been doing?

Well, maybe it doesn’t beg the question. Maybe it just prompts you to politely inquire so I don’t feel unwanted and insecure. I’ll take it! Beggars can’t be choosers.

Actually, that’s not factual. Beggars can be choosers. In fact, it’s in a beggar’s best interest to consciously prioritize a great many things the rest of us FANTASTICALLY WEALTHY people take for granted.

For example: I’m often faced with a choice between whether I want to buy organic cilantro, versus non-organic cilantro. While I normally prefer organic produce, cilantro raised without chemical black magic is, in my experience, always filthy – and not “Oh, this potato needs to be rinsed first” dirty; organic cilantro requires a scrubbing akin to a Karen Silkwood workplace shower, which the culinary herb’s delicate leaves do not endure well.

Conventional cilantro? Always sparkling. Like, so clean you could eat off it.


Fragrant and edible joy – or – what Satan's sneezes smell like

I only have this issue with cilantro (or, for my dear readers outside the USA, coriander). What up, organic farmers of cilantro (or, for my dear readers outside the USA, coriander)? Why so much solum on my coriandrum sativum?

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Leon Greenman 1910 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, March 10, 2008 09:01am | Post a Comment


Leon Greenman
, the only Englishman sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, has died this past Friday, March 7th. He was 97.

Greenman was one of six children born in Whitechapel, in the East End of London. His family’s background was Dutch-Jewish. His paternal grandparents were Dutch and when his father remarried, Greenman’s mother died when he was two, he moved the family to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. By the 1920s, Leon had returned to London apprenticing with a barber in Forest Gate. During the 1930s he joined an amateur operatic society where he met Esther "Else" van Dam. In 1935 they married and in 1940 their son Barnett was born. Meanwhile, he commuted between Britain and Holland, working for his father-in-law's book business.

Greenman believed that being a British citizen, his family would be protected from the Nazis.  But by late April 1942, the Nazis had enforced the wearing of the yellow Star of David on Jews in the Netherlands. Leon, meanwhile, gave his family's savings and passports to non-Jewish friends for safe keeping. Scared of reprisals for helping Jews, his friends burned the documents.

On October 8, 1942 the entire family were rounded up and taken to Westerbork, a Nazi concentration camp in the Netherlands. In mid-January 1943 they were told they were being deported to a Polish "work camp."  His wife Esther and three-year-old son Barney perished there at Auschwitz. Greenman survived the war and committed the rest of his life to teaching and reminding the public what he had witnessed at Auschwitz and the five other camps he was sent to. He believed that if he could tell enough people about the horrors of the camps and Nazism, perhaps it would never happen again.

He published a memoir, An Englishman in Auschwitz, and continued to lecture well into old age. In 1988 he received the prestigious Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II for his work fighting racism.

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then a banana pulled a cool standup tube, dude …

Posted by Whitmore, November 14, 2007 09:14am | Post a Comment
Last week thousands of bananas washed up on two Dutch North Sea islands after about a half a dozen containers fell off a cargo ship during a storm. Scattering across a half-mile stretch of beach, thousands of unripe bunches bejeweled the beaches of Terschelling Island, 70 miles north of Amsterdam. Bananas also washed up on neighboring Ameland Island.

Apparently this happens more often then you’d think on the Terschelling beaches. Last year thousands of tennis shoes, aluminum briefcases and children's toys washed ashore, I hope it was Saint Nicholas day.

(In which Job becomes a star!)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 21, 2007 08:35am | Post a Comment
So, a couple days ago, I clocked in at work and noticed a flyer attached to the time-clock, informing my fellow Amoebites and I that, early Monday morning, there was going to be a film crew outside the store, shooting crowd scenes for the new film featuring Alvin and the Chipmunks.


(Insert tire screeching sounds here… or, in Great Britain, tyre screeching sounds.)

Whereas I’m sure this notice was met with emotions ranging from ambivalence to eye-rolling annoyance by many, as you know from reading my previous blogs (which you have subsequently committed to memory in preparation for the quiz at the end of this term – you do realize it counts as a third of your grade, right?) I (insert the “f word” here, adding the suffix “ing” as a gerund) love the Chipmunks (insert exclamation point here, so as to emphasize the radness of it all)

I immediately e-mailed the lovely and efficient Kara, the puppet-master of such events and told her that I was the biggest Chipmunk fan and that I simply had to attend, even if it was only to hide in the corner and watch. She responded and said she’s ask the filmmakers if I could hang.

I waited with the patience of Job, which in my case always applies even if I’m not very patient at all. It’s one of the perks of having said name. Like people who’s names are, like, Yourhairlookgreatoday – they will always be told nice things about their coiffure, even if it looks bad. Or bald. Even if they have dead rats and popped eyeballs crusting in their curls and the mucus of twenty diseased boars dripping from beneath their berets, they still get told their hair looks great.

I suppose, if someone who had a name like Justkiddingyouaresouglyandewgrosstheresdeadrodentsandboogersatopthyscalp was actually embebbed in Yourhairlooksgreatoday’s bouffant, then the compliment could be discounted, but really, how realistic is it that someone’s going to cuddle in the cowlicks of animal-rennet rinsed roots?

Um.

Okay… I don’t know where that tangent came from, but I’m going to pretend it didn’t happen and move on. Hopefully you will, too.

Fast-forward to six o’clock Monday morning. I had been up the bulk of the night working on climate-change disaster-film concepts to pitch (just the kind of homework one incurs living in Hollywood), when my phone rings. It’s Kara. The film people finally responded about my request, and it was a “go”.

I had 20 minutes to go from grizzled and sleepy old man to fresh and capable young whip, and arrive at Amoeba Music Hollywood at 6.30 am. Which I did.

Kara was already on the scene, all smiles and caution as she watched teamsters turn the face of our beloved store into a façade for a huge and glamorous event that would never actually happen. “UPCOMING INSTORE: ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS” the marquee read, and colorful signs were framed by every portion of wall. Hired extras were assembling in place, made to look as though they had been camped out all night, waiting to be first inside to see the show.

It was surreal, to say the least. I ended up meeting one of the fellows in charge of the whole thing (I don’t know what his official title was, but people seemed to listen to him when he bossed them around) and he told Kara and I about some of the people who were going to be starring in the film. I never asked, nor got clearance to reveal who these actors were, (how was he to know he was in the presence of an Amoeblogger, the cutting-edge of news media) so I’m not certain if I’m even allowed to say what I learned. Instead, allow me to entertain you with random pictures of some people who I’M NOT SAYING ARE GOING TO BE INVOLVED IN THIS MOVIE.


Anyway, boss-man and I bonded over our mutual pasts in Holland (it all started with a shared awareness and love of koffie verkeerd). Before I knew it, I was cast as an “Amoeba employee” in charge of manning the doors of our store and making sure no one got in before it was time.

This became increasingly disorienting as opening time neared, and real customers and employees began arriving, mixing with paid actors pretending to be waiting to get it. Because I was stationed at the front door, I ended up doing what I had been instructed to pretend to be doing.

Our time-clock is always littered with announcements; everything from plaintive requests for sofas to crash on, advertisements for music shows and art openings, or calls for volunteers to help distribute homes to the foodless – things like that. You can’t expect an employee to soak in all that information, so it was no surprise that many of my as-yet-uncaffeinated co-workers greeted the spectacle with confusion, astonishment and yes, a little fear.

It really did look like we were about to host a packed, high-profile in-store featuring a band consisting of fictional, animated singers. In a world of rockers rendered cynical and unshockable after the suicide of Kurt Cobain and emergence of 90’s retro (huh?) it was a rare moment of genuine shock. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it became the most gratifying aspect of my morning – seeing their befuddled faces as they neared the building.

It was a few hours of rushed and energetic standing around and doing nothing; a description that reads like an oxymoron but absolutely applies in the world of the movie extra, a job I soon realized I could never commit myself to. I’m too anxious to stand around “acting” like I’m standing around. And my existentialist self got kind of grossed out by the irony of it all.

It came time for the store to open and Kara and Jim (one of the people who claim to be my “boss” at Amoeba, though I’ve never seen any papers to prove it) made certain that the film industry was vanished in time to be replaced by real people, really waiting to get into the real in-store.

I was asked to sign a waiver and informed that I would get paid for the work I did (Really? Paid to stand around and do nothing? So this is what it’s like to be a security guard!*) I stumbled home and crawled back in bed, glad to be a part of Chipmunk history and relieved that I had something new to blog about.


That's me in the Amoeba T-shirt. Eat your heart out, Monty Clift.

*I kid. Our security guards are the hardest working people I know, and I’m not just saying so because they could blend me up in a protein shake and drink me.