Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Better than a Taxi: SnapCar!

If you're a regular reader here, you'll note that it's rare for me to promote products via my blog. I'm typically pretty skeptical and I don't like putting something out there for someone else if I wouldn't use it myself. I took a test drive of this service, and highly recommend, read on to find out why :)

As much as I love Paris' public transport, frankly, it's unreliable. (And stinky, and apparently full of hoboes who kick and insult friends of mine.) Especially the damn buses. (Thirty minute wait after 6pm?? Come the fuck on!) 

As a result of shoddy availability, I end up taking taxis a lot more than I want to admit, usually because I'm running late and need to be somewhere. Waiting around for public transport just doesn't cut it when everyone is waiting on YOU to arrive, en fin.

But, you know, even taxis can be unreliable. When you call them, the meter runs until they pick you up in Paris (god knows how long that will take), which can run you an extra 10-15 euros easily. If you have to drag your ass all the way back across town at the end of the night like me, then that means it can get really expensive really quickly. Then there's always the risk that they don't show at all or take their sweet ass time. So, the service you get is hit or miss (usually miss), and it's not cheap.

When SnapCar approached me to try their service, I was intrigued as someone who's taken a fair amount of cab rides that felt like throwing good money in the toilet. I wondered if it would be more expensive, and if it would be better than taxis.

I'm willing to invest in something if I feel like it was worth it, and in this case, I really did feel like the SnapCar test-run I took was WAY better than the average taxi ride! On top of it all, the cost was pretty much the same, and in some cases could be even cheaper.

Top reasons why I liked it:
- I could estimate my cab fare. Wow, this is suuuper nice. I can actually see if the trip is worth it before I get stuck with the bill!
- Reserving my car was really simple via iphone app (Android coming this fall), took about ten seconds.
- I got a message from the driver and could see on a map right where he was with an ETA!! This totally beats the typical French taxi of showing up 15 min early or late and letting the meter run until I notice him outside!
- Pick up time was about ten minutes, faster than usual taxi pick ups
- Meter doesn't start until you've gone over the minimum amount (see below).
- The car was very nice, clean and didn't reek of B.O. -- I could've cried rainbow unicorn tears of joy for this alone.
- The driver knew exactly where he was going and I could track my fare as we went along! Also, he did not drive like a complete PSYCHOPATH ON CRACK COCAIN. He made me feel relaxed and drove well!
- I could also share my trip with others, so they too could watch on a map to see where I was and my ETA!
- When friends get Snapcar on your recommend, they get 5euros credit and so do you!

The only con I can come up with is that it's 15eur minimum, so  if you're going next door it might not be worth the cash. Quite honestly, my cab rides are usually a 15eur minimum anyway, so this service makes total sense for me.

I'll be testing it again from the airport to see about a couple of things and I'll report back to you with a compare/contrast post in detail. (Rides to the airport are never less than 40 or 50eur for me, so I'll let you know what the verdict is.) 

Also, tune back in for a special offer for anyone else who wants to try out this new service! Yay discounts! Back with more soon...

** UPDATE ** I took a pre-launch test-drive, service begins in September!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Special Word for My Spammers

Why do y'all have to be so damn NICE?? I was looking back through the blog comments, feeling guilty as uge because I am horrible at replying, when I noticed something.

All of the spammers are so fucking sweet to me. I'm serious as bubonicebolapoxaids. You guys didn't have to do that, I know you just want to plug your gold selling businesses, but honestly... I'm touched.

Here are a just few snippets of their comments:

"You inspire me to crochet!"

"everything you do is just so mystical and beautiful."

"I care for such info much. Thank you and best of luck. Baby Converse."

"Would adulation to bolt up on the buzz ancient this year. You do bedrock and stop that overworking shit. It ain't right."

"Cute story. Makes me wish to be better. Thanks for sharing. You are wonderful."

And, my personal favorite, "Big asses have writting styles amazing. Boobs"

Apparently, I've changed your lives, and you admire my goods. Sending you all my love, and big, wet, slobbery kisses.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why you should never own an expensive car in France

©Mark Elias/Bloomberg News
I had a "fat morning" as they say here in France, I was lazily reading the NY Times when I came upon this story:

"Crash of Rare Ferrari Under Investigation"

For those of you who hate to read a) why are you here? and b) fine, here's the gist of it:

Man with $30M to $40M valued hot rod decided to drive it around town and got into an accident with, wait for it.... A MINIVAN.

Ain't that always the way? You just want to drive your crushingly, exorbitantly, redonculously valuable, only 39 of them ever made, wheels down to Le Mans for the 50-yr anniversary, and BAM. You drive right into the side of a fucking minivan that has caused 600 times the damage that the POS was worth in the first place.

Let this be a lesson to all you fancy car drivers out there, not all, but MANY, French people drive like they just took crack mixed with speed, covered in an ecstasy hard candy shell that has been lightly dusted with Coke and has PCP sprinkles.

I don't think I'll *ever* comprehend the nonsensicalness of this event, or the people who attend. It's like a bunch of rich guys got together and instead of whipping out their actual rods for measurement, decided it would be cool to try to smash up their hot rods instead to see who sweats the least when it's all over and the dammages are being tallied up. (Although, I think we have a winner before the race has even begun. Way to spoil everyone's fun, ironically-named-Mr.-Cox.)

And that's not the only lesson I have for you this fine day. Please, please, STOP TRUSTING THE INSURANCE COMPANIES. I maintain that they are all a bunch of dicktasters. The last two months have confirmed multiple times in my case that they will never, ever pay you. Ever. Even if you've paid 10 million times the worth of whatever your claim is about, doesn't matter. It's principle -- you pay THEM, not the other way around people, pffff. 

See flowchart for full explanation of how French customer service actually works.

There you have it, my work here is done. I've just made all of your lives better this morning which I'm pretty sure gives me the right to spend the rest of my day being useless. YAY SUNDAY!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

How I Became a Voyeurist and Other Humiliating Confessions

 ©waxorian on Flickr
I think it's really time for me to admit that my new-found freedom from work (taking a summer hiatus), has occasionally left me with a bit *too much* free time. This week I found myself more and more inclined to look out the window, and for lack of a better word, spy.

At first it was just curiosity. I'd heard the 'birds and the bees' phrase before, but never paid much attention to it. Then I saw them.


What I saw has now confirmed a long held suspicion that, humans aside, this truly is the most fucked up species on the planet Earth.

What the hell kind of mating ritual is this?? I've honestly never seen anything like it, and it's the *STUPIDEST* thing EVER invented in the HISTORY of LIFE. It's a miracle they ever manage to reproduce. I'll recap it for you...

Step 1: Identify Potential Mate
This involves one or both of the birds just looking at each other for a ridiculously pointless amount of time. Watching paint dry is more fascinating. I was so curious that I just sat there thinking... "What the fucking fuck are they doing? If you're gonna do it, just do it already damn birds!". It was a long damn time before any action, but it was weird, so quit judging, douchenugget.

(Confession #1: I don't know what is more embarrassing, admitting that you watched birds evaluate the fuckability of each other, or that you were their cheerleader.)

I am now contemplating the fact that birds may be more selective than humans in terms of physical attraction. Have you ever stared a potential date for 45min without blinking before deciding to go out with them?

Step 2: Find Ridiculously Unsafe Place to Copulate
Have you EVER seen pigeons having sex on the ground? Yes? No you haven't, you liar. They choose the most insane places to do their deed like... the edge of a building, or a window rail, or some other place that affords them no more than 1 inch of solid ground to balance on, and is as high as possible, preferably with something near by that could poke an eye out. Pigeons like to live on the edge, and  screw there too I've learned.

Ever since spotting the birds on the balcony across the street, I find myself looking for weird places where birds are probably doing it to confirm this theory like, on top of lamp posts, unstable and/or too-tiny tree branches, and bridge railings where they may fall to their death in the Seine.

Step 3: Shake that ass
Next there is a strange series of events. The birds tip forward and show their asses to one another, then walk toward and away from each other. I imagine they're thinking something like this:

"Here's my bird ass!! You like it?! Hein??! C'mon, you know you want it!"... "Do I want that ass? I don't know..." (walks away)... "YES! YES I DO!"... (walks toward other bird)..."But maybe not, there's some dog shit on the ground I could go eat over there"... (walks away)..."Maybe if I show my ass again I'll get more in the mood"... (shows ass). And so on.

(Confession #2: I've decided that the reason for this step is either birds can't tell who is male or female, who could blame them, or they've been watching too much Jersey Shore.)  

Step 4: Make OUT!
This is actually the only point in the process that doesn't make me want to laugh, or alternatively, punch them. (That confession is coming later). They snuggle. It is like, soooo amazingly like, adorable & stuff, like omfg lmfo gtfo stfu, soooooo cuuu-eeet-ah. I assume this is bird-body-language equal to our own tradition of swallowing someone else's tongue.  

I think the birds may have actually found a less offensive way to show sexual attraction than humans. Bravo fucking birds, now I feel like an asshole.

Step 5: Beat female down until she submits
At least that is what it looks like from my vantage point. Basically, male bird jumps on top of female, knocking her over repeatedly. This poor bird probably literally gets the shit kicked out of it. Finally loses the will to fight and that's all she wrote.

Of course it's impossible to tell whether they actually did it or not. Because it just looked like they were flapping wings and then he fell over and almost died because of the stupid-small ledge he nose-dove from.

(Confession #3: Once he flew back up to the railing, I hypothesize that the male bird lost his erection and was just all embarrassed because he ended up waddling away, beak bowed in shame. This is also the step that kind of makes me want to punch the male birds in the junk for being such douchetwats.)

And while we're on the subject of pigeons, I need to list a few other reasons they annoy Parisians on a daily basis:

- They're fucking disrespectful, man. 
When they're not trying to fly DIRECTLY INTO YOUR FACE AND PLUCK OUT YOUR EYEBALLS WITH THEIR DIRTY LITTLE BEAKS, they're sitting on top of some famous statue's head. Dick move bird.

- WTF is with their TOES?!
Seriously? Why are they all missing toes? Was every-single-pigeon run over by a car, or is there some mysterious bird disease that makes them all gnarly and disgusting? Just ew.

- I'm reading here, beakdick.
I spent the other day hanging out at Tuileries gardens because Paris had about 5 seconds of sunshine. It was magnificent. Until a fucking pigeon horde wouldn't leave me alone. What? Do I fucking smell like bread snaggle-toe? Back OFF!!

I'm kind of shocked I had this much to say about pigeons. Shocked and horrified. Anyway, any fun stories you'd like to share? Reasons why you love pigeons and think I should go straight to hell? Share in comments below :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

5 Reasons Parisians Hate Fete de la Musique

Now that the festival is well behind us, and I'm not at risk of having any more bottles thrown at my taxi (true story), I feel I can safely share my top 5 reasons why many Parisians really, truly, HATE the FĂȘte de la Musique (aka: City-wide music festival that happens all over the world).

In case you're not familiar with it, here's the official definition from wikipedia: "Amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets."

Here's the real definition according to JNSQ: "People who *think* they are really good at making music trickle into the streets blasting their creations as loud as possible with no regard for the neighbors, or even the spectators, whatsoever."

Before I begin, I have to explain that being outside the city changes your perspective drastically. As a suburbanite, the first time I heard about the idea of music filtering out from every street corner it seemed like genius! See, that's the thing. The first ten min of the first time you go to the big city for this event, there is some blind attraction. Much like the first time you see someone's profile on an online dating site. You notice they are *really* into *a lot* of things, and think "ooh, they sound like fun! I'll have a lot of interesting experiences with this person." 

But soon enough, you realize that this person, who seems so interesting on the surface, is in fact, a schizo-manic-obsessive-narcissist and you should really RUN in the other direction like your ass is leaking tequila and a rogue, possessed, blowtorch just spotted you across the room.

Now, a disclaimer: I'm sure there are plenty of fine acts, loads of talented people, and many who enjoy their shows. I have not yet had the pleasure (at all), but that doesn't mean I'm right (in fact, I'm usually wrong). Invite you to share your stories, good or bad, in comments below.

Here are the real reasons why June 21st in Paris feels like the longest day of the year, and it has nothing to do with the summer solstice...

#1: There *can be* too much of a good thing, God Damn it.

Oh the creativity! The variety! The fucking humanity!! I dont' care how much of a fan of this event you are, N-O O-N-E wants to listen to metal, soul, folk, house, flamenco and jazz all at the same time. If you like listening to ten different types of music at once, well then you deserve to go deaf imho, and very likely will if you hang out at the right corner. Not that you have much choice sometimes, which brings me to the next time honored favorite...

#2 There is no escape. It's everywhere. Like French "variety" music.

When you live outside the city, you can just pop in, listen to a group for a bit, then when you are tired of the noise, you just leave. You go back to your quiet home or appartement away from Paris, and you sigh deeply with contentment that you don't have to stay in that dreadful environment for the next 16hrs.

But we Parisians are prisoners. This is really the one moment in the year when I think to myself "Thank the lord, who in all his wisdom, made my neighborhood completely void of anything interesting to do or see, ever, Amen". Really the 16th is the only place to find any sort of momentary reprieve.

#3 It's Legal, giving you yet another reason to despise the law-makers, as if you needed one.

Hey Parents, no chance of getting your child to sleep, because the rave going on downstairs has a whole EIGHT goth fans bouncing their long black wigs to the beat, and you can tell this is going to go on... and on, and on and on, until their drugs wear off, well into the morning. (Wow, that was a lot of stereotypes! I think I hit a new record!)

It's a city-sanctioned noise fest. Anyone has the right to publicly blast away and I'm afraid passive-aggressive insults are your only option. Maybe I could start a business providing banners that have a giant middle finger painted above the words "My Ears Are Bleeding and I Kind of HATE YOU" to people in this very situation. 

I could roam the worst neighborhoods in my car, hanging them out the window with a big "For SALE!!" sign... this business plan practically writes itself.

#4 (French) Youth Revolt.

The French youth can drink legally at 16 here, which is not exactly conducive to a good experience at this outdoor event. A large portion of youngins have just taken the most stressful test of their lives, the BAC. No. BAC does not stand for 'Blood Alcohol Content'. The Baccelaureat, is the French final exam that determines their future education.

They need to cut loose, and this event is an open invitation to them to walk around the streets with bottles of fucking Desperado (a wimpy drink if I ever saw one, get a real beer dammit), making out with each other (as if Paris doesn't display enough tongue already), and my favorite, SCREAMING for absolutely NO REASON.

This year one even attacked my taxi with a bottle. It was the most badass thing anyone has ever done holding a Desperado, but still... not cool.

#5 Metro no-go.

The Paris Metro provides a special deal on June 21st -- 1 ticket, for all night, all zones. What the fine-print won't tell you, is that the metro is so overwhelmed with gangs, naive people coming into town from the burbs, and parisians trying to leave, that you actually can't properly use the metro.

Half the stations are randomly closed, hence why I had to take the aforementioned taxi that was attacked by Desperado drinkers in the first place. Forget the bus. Just... in general, forget it. Never think of it again, please, for your own sanity.

So, congrats if you enjoyed the show! Or if you didn't... contact me to purchase your very own passive-aggressive sign for next year!

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