The Six-Month Benihana Job Evaluation of Mindfreak’s Criss Angel

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Date: March 14, 1993

Appearance:

At the time of Mr. Angel’s retention, it was explained that while Benihana hires employees of varied races, our customers have certain expectations regarding their chef’s appearance. To this end, many of our Latino and Filipino employees have successfully affected an air of “Japanese” through a combination of training, demeanor, and attire. Mr. Angel claimed creating such an illusion would be “wicked easy” because he had been “schooled by an ancient Oriental mystic.”

Despite our high hopes, however, Criss’s appearance has consistently failed to meet expectations. While we truly do “get it” that the late martial arts actor Brandon Lee was partially of Cantonese descent, we fail to see how coming to work in makeup influenced by The Crow is in keeping with Benihana’s goals, particularly as a Japanese restaurant. Furthermore, Criss’s more recent Kabuki-theater justification seems similarly half-baked.

Benihana would also like to stress that our continued insistence on hairnets is dictated by a faithful adherence to governing health code ordinances, and not this corporation’s desire to “slay [Mr. Angel’s] dragon spirit.” On a related note, we are fairly certain that Health and Safety Ordinance 114020 contemplated only soap and water when requiring employees to wash hands. Mr. Angel’s self-prescribed “fire baths” are not a safe or adequate substitute for this practice — nor do we consider Svarog, Slavic Spirit of Fire, a recognized authority on workplace sanitation procedures.

Rapport with Customers:

Benihana prides itself on being a family-friendly establishment. Customers come here for first-class food served with a dramatic flourish — not to have their “reality shattered by freaky awesomeness.”

Good customer service also means accommodating reasonable special orders. For example, many of our guests abstain from shellfish due to allergies or religious concerns. Accordingly, when guests refuse the shrimp appetizer, the appropriate response is not “Why? Did my flaying technique blow your mind?”

Clear speech is also an essential part of customer relations. As many of Benihana’s chefs speak English as a second language, we tend to be forgiving of indiscretions presented by the foreign tongue. Still, a Long Island accent coupled with a crippling lisp is simply beyond the limits of Benihana’s patience. After all, people come here to eat.

Dexterity Performing Required Tasks:

Mr. Angel has proven his dexterity in performing all required Benihana cooking presentations, or as Criss insists on calling them, “culinary freak-outs.” He executes the onion volcano flawlessly, and has never failed to catch a shrimp tail or balance a bowl of rice on a spatula. Still, Benihana continues to receive complaints due to Mr. Angel’s fundamental misunderstanding of both Teppanyaki-style cooking, and what constitutes entertainment in general.

Benihana has a proud tradition of praising employee initiative, but Criss’s innovations have brought terror in place of joy. For example, Benny Tsubo was promoted to head chef in 1979 when the flick of his well-placed spatula brought forth life from the heart-shaped chicken-fried rice and laughter from patrons nationwide. By contrast, no one is pleased by Criss’s ability to make the rice heart bleed. For one, it’s disgusting. And secondly, ketchup does not complement a traditional Japanese meal. Also, while Criss’s ability to insert a bowl of rice into his back and pass it out through his abdomen is impressive, it’s hardly surprising that no one is eager to eat said rice after this miraculous journey.

Attitude:

Employees should always provide supervisors with honest straight-forward answers to fair questions. Nevertheless, when asked about his frequent disappearances, Mr. Angel’s standard reply is, “a magician never reveals his secrets.” Such responses are wholly unacceptable, and, frankly, childish. Benihana also takes issue with Mr. Angel’s more recent practice of claiming to have been on the premises in invisible form and then producing a hysterical 16-year-old girl to attest to this miracle. While this display is strangely compelling, Benihana remains skeptical that such allegedly unbiased accounts could constitute credible testimony.

Summary:

Benihana will be refraining from its traditional practice of providing suggestions for improvement. Such suggestions would be moot as Mr. Angel has proclaimed repeatedly that he takes advice only from two men: The Highlander and Ronny James Dio. Accordingly, Benihana feels it is best to make a clean break at this time.

We hereby terminate Mr. Angel’s employment, effective today. His uniform and culinary tools were repossessed this morning, and when Mr. Angel emerges from the 15-foot block of ice he currently occupies in the meat locker, we ask that he be forcibly removed from the premises.

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My Name Is Jabba And I’m An Alcoholic

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This is my first time at an AA meeting. I’ve been sober for one day. First, I’d just like to say how moved I am that you all have agreed to hold this meeting in the gymnasium. I think we all know it would have been a little cramped in the Sunday school room. Oh, dang it, that’s embarrassing. I’ll pay for the chair. No, I’ll just lie here on the floor. Okay, well, I’ve been an alcoholic for, oh, I guess about six-hundred years, give or take a decade or so. I started drinking in high school with my friends on Tatooine. I’m sorry? No, it’s not outside of Sacramento. Anyway, I didn’t always look this bad. As a teen I actually did a runway show in Mos Eisley. But then, a few drinks with my pals became nights alone with a bottle of something blue, just listening to old Genesis records. What? No, before Phil Collins. Well, Peter Gabriel, of course. He absolutely was. No, I’m afraid there were a number of albums before Invisible Touch.

Look, I’m trying to heal here. No, you brought it up. So, after a while I fall in with some really bad folks. I mean, you find that denial likes company. If you surround yourself with people who all have a problem, you perceive there is no problem. So the next thing I know, I’m pushing about three-thousand pounds, drinking like a maniac every chance I get, roistering, sleeping around and eventually I’m head of this enormous crime syndicate. My wife left me about a hundred years ago. Excuse me? No, not three-hundred, three-thousand pounds.

Well, I appreciate that. I look thinner in beige. I did have a trainer for a while, but it didn’t work out. No, I ate him. I don’t blame you all for looking at me like that. I was so drunk, I’m ashamed of myself. I’m so ashamed. But that’s what it’s like, you know. Hell, a few years back I had this guy who owed me money frozen in carbonite. It’s like an alloy made from frozen carbon dioxide. What do you mean, “can you drink it?” It’s not like a margarita, if that’s what you’re thinking. Even if you could, you certainly wouldn’t want to. No, he managed to get out, actually. It’s not like I wanted him to escape. He had help, you know. He didn’t just waltz right out of the carbonite. Some kid called Skyscraper or Skymall or something. I don’t remember. Well, maybe next time you should try running a syndicate full of bounty-hunters, smugglers, assassins and criminals of every type along with the entertainment; the dancing girls, droids, the bitchy house band and enough reprobate aliens to occupy Cloud City! I’m sorry. I’m sorry. God, I get so tense. No, sit down, sir. Do I look like I could take it outside? Well that really hurts, sir. Would you like it if I called you a “poo-covered slug?” I didn’t think so. Can I continue? Please? Thank you.

Okay, uh, oh yeah. Take tomorrow, for instance. I have this thing tomorrow. I was going to have a bunch of people dumped into the Sarlac pit. No, it’s not in the woods. Just think of it as a big anus-looking thing with teeth, okay? Yeah, it’s kind of like a monster, but different. The thing is, I really want this process to work. I’m serious this time about staying sober for me. So, I’m thinking I might just call the whole thing off, you know? What better time than the present to change your life. It’s like what Goethe says, you know, “Nothing is worth more than this day.” I’m just so scared. I mean, the blackouts, the rum-shakes. It’s every single day. I’ve missed out on so much. I never learned to drive. I’ve never seen Lohengrin performed at La Scala. I’ve got a ski lodge on Hoth I’ve never even been to. No, it’s an opera by Wagner. Of course it’s good. I’ve never skied or snowboarded, so I don’t know. I’ve heard Aspen is nice. Too many tourists, you say? Well, what can you do? No, I’m not trying to be dismissive, it’s just been my turn to talk and you keep interrupting. Just because you’ve never been to Hoth doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I’m not trying to be pretentious. Look, I have a problem and I need support right now. Oh, that’s very clever. Yes, it probably would take the Chrysler Building to support me. I’m fat. I’m a drunk. I’ve done some terrible things, but one of the first things we said after the prayer was that we weren’t here to judge one another. We are here to admit we’re powerless against alcohol.

Okay, sir…I’m sure you do know the blue book better than I do; like I said, it’s my first day. I am legitimately proud of you that you’ve been sober for two years. Hey, I’m not trying to make it a contest. I just want to stop drinking. I wasn’t saying I knew more about Genesis than you do. Why are you so hell-bent on antagonizing me? I know he did “Shock the Monkey,” but before that he was in Genesis. Albums? Well, there’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, uh…Selling England by The Pound…I beg your pardon? Look it up then, dingleberry! You know what — I’ve had it with you. I’ve had it up to here with you and this group and that stupid chair in this stupid gym with this stupid meeting. Salacious! Salacious Crumb! Come in here and give me a hand, you little troll. No, screw you. Screw ALL of you. Ouch! Hold on, I’m not all the way in the harness. Oh, Jeez, I think my gall bladder just popped. No, I’m leaving. Take your twelve steps and shove them up your cans…Salacious, are Han Solo and all those idiots still up by the Sarlac pit? Well, come on. Stop fidgeting, you’re freaking me out. No, we’re doing it today. Today! Man, I need a drink.

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My Dog Custody Proposals

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My friends David and Natalie are getting divorced and they have two beautiful and well-trained dogs. Because they don’t know how to separate the dogs or decide who should get them, I’ve come up with several proposals for who should retain custody:

1. David and Natalie should both procure experienced family law attorneys. After a series of meetings, the friend who was deemed the primary caregiver of the dogs throughout the duration of the marriage should retain custody of the dogs. If the process is too painful, then I could take the dogs off of their hands because they’re so much fun and know a lot of tricks.

2. Holding a butcher knife above my head, I will offer to cut the dogs into equal halves so that David and Natalie can each kind of own both. When one of my friends stops my down-swinging arm and says that they would rather the dogs go to the other person instead of getting chopped up, whoever is wearing the most orange at that moment retains custody of both dogs. If neither is wearing orange, then I take custody of the dogs.

3. In a well-kept park that is over 100 yards long and that contains at least 25 large trees and one circular fountain, David and Natalie will stand exactly 90 yards apart. In equal distance between my friends are their two dogs locked in a big cage that is covered with a dark blanket. (The dogs haven’t been fed in 24 hours.) When I shoot my pistol in the air, David and Natalie will commence yelling and whistling at the cage. The blanket is then lifted and I will open the gate, letting the hungry animals run loose. The first dog to reach either one of my friends is mine, and the second dog to reach one of my friends goes back into the cage. The blanket is replaced and I let my friends yell and whistle some more. After two blasts from my air horn, my friends are to get down on their hands and knees and start barking. I remove the blanket and open the gate, and whoever the second dog goes to owns him/her. If the second dog doesn’t reach either person in less than 15 seconds or chooses to eat the pile of raw meat from my hands, then that dog is also mine.

4. The friend who can best explain The Matrix Reloaded to my mother retains custody of both dogs. I get the dogs if my mother still doesn’t understand who the French guy is.

5. They play a best-of-11 series of “Paper, rock, scissors,” which I’ve renamed “Newspaper, tennis ball, neutering knife.” The winner of the series gets both dogs unless he or she forgets to call the neutering knife by its correct name. If that happens I get both dogs, and whoever misspoke has to pay for my first two visits to the vet.

6. At high noon, David and Natalie are to swim out to the middle of a lake and act like they’re drowning while both dogs are dropped onto the roof of my pet-friendly apartment building by a helicopter. If either of my friends shows up and rings my doorbell four times before 2 p.m., then that person gets the dog that’s closest to my backdoor after the second ring. The dog closest to me is forever mine. If the dog that is the closest to me is the same that is the closest to the backdoor after the second ring, then whoever can drink a 20-ounce bottle of Frost Gatorade the fastest without throwing up wins the saddest dog in the apartment and the never-been-used blue thermos in my cupboard that I keep forgetting about.

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Jaap van Ballegooijen Has Another Soda Shop Revelation

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Jaap van Ballegooijen is a man on the horns of a dilemma. Looks worried. Getting bald. Shell Oil is demanding so many barrels a day from his latest snake well shaped like somebody’s intestines. But it’s producing as badly as an overripe banana squeezed at one end. Shell Oil’s Global Smart Fields Programme Manager since 2006, with 30 years in the fossil fuel industry, Jaap knows that the solution to any problem comes from watching teens down at the soda shop drink with straws. They are so ingenious, these kids with their straws.

Jaap is the man who will stroll into McDonald’s and buy a round or two of shakes for every pimply youth in the place. Then he sits back and observes. A slurp here, a suck there. A cavalier twist of the straw. Before long one of those teens will display a novel straw technique that, before the kid can suck up his shake, Jaap will adapt to the oil well industry with revolutionary results.

“See that clownish guy over there with the straw stuck up his nose?” Jaap tells the Shell publicity lady. “After watching him pull the same stunt last year, I realized that, with the right rigging planted deep enough in the ground, we drillers could smell the petroleum down there. All we needed to do was suck it up and cash in. I bought the boy an order of fries, out of gratitude.”

Later in the day Jaap still wears that balding, hangdog look that comes with great fossil fuel responsibility. A Shell engineer has told him they have a bit of a new problem. Blocking the oil at Champion West Field offshore Brunei is a cap of solid granite a mile and a half beneath the earth’s surface.

As Jaap thinks, his frown lightens. He’s seen 14-year-old Andre at the Brunei Burger King already solve this pickle with a straw and a malted. Andre blasted through a lump in his chocolate malted by a sharp exhalation of breath into his straw. Jaap saw the analogy at once, the engineering technique that would yield millions of barrels. What a great day for drinking chocolate malteds. What a great day for Shell.

Even though Jaap is a multi-millionaire who never touches anything so filthy as oil, he always displays the sweaty, surprised look of a man who just stumbled forth from an underground cavity after being entombed in it for six months. Staggered to see daylight once more. And he’s got that male pattern baldness thing going. No amount of oil can cure that. It isn’t clear what effect if any milkshakes have on a receding hairline, either. But Jaap has other things on his mind. He’s a man in a tad of a quandary. Dr. Deep has called, and her ocean well in the Atlantic is sputtering dry like a grape on a grill. He heads off to Dairy Queen, looking for answers.

He sees a tow-headed kid with glasses attack his malted milk by burying his face in it and snorkeling through his straw. Snorkeling…Jaap phones in the solution to Dr. Deep, and the well is saved. These two Shell Oil action figures will share high-fives the next time they meet. And big bonuses.

But look, once again Jaap is in a sticky situation. A glorified well digger in a suit rushes up to him and says, calmly but with infinite concern, “The results aren’t what we wanted. We struck natural gas and the well ignited. Samuelson was running the drill. He survived, but he’s hopping mad.” Then Samuelson bursts in. Begrimed, tattered, burnt here and there, mercifully not dead. Of course it was the man’s own fault he had only a high school diploma and wasn’t trained in soda straw observation. And then Jaap knew how to deliver the stern messages to underlings. He dealt out the kind of blunt honesty that all his most lowly paid and least respected employees could count on hearing from him, no matter how uneducated and how subterranean in the Shell pecking order they were. “Let’s go grab a shake, old man,” Jaap says, “before you blow another well.”

At UDF, the exploding well continues to prey on Jaap’s mind. He observes the teens outside on the glassed-in patio, plying their shakes and malts. The swirling straw technique of a young boy with soft brown eyes and long lashes catches Jaap’s eye. The boy looks over at Jaap, starts to fidget, get alarmed. Jaap looks away at once, at a toddler with chocolate sprinkles all over its face. The trouble with watching teens eat ice cream is sometimes they get the wrong idea. He tells Samuelson this, and Samuelson has the solution. The men go watch women pole dance.

Jaap van Ballegooijen is a man with growing problems, despite his oil millions. One, his snake wells are drying up. Two, soda jerks all over the world now expect big tips for helping him solve the world’s energy problems. Look there. In the IHOP, Jaap just saw a girl do something remarkable to her sundae with a spoon. He ponders. Then he’s on the phone to Shell. Thanks to men like Jaap and ice cream-sucking teens, Shell will continue to meet the world’s demand for oil, which is expected to rise by 50 percent over the next quarter century. He leaves the IHOP waitress a five-dollar tip.

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Things Are Looking Up

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First, I’d like to thank everyone who has sent me good wishes during my lengthy recuperation. No one could have predicted the unlikely series of accidents and illnesses that led to so much physical difficulty on my part. Fortunately, even though I’ve still got a long way to go, things are beginning to look up. For example:

I can now wiggle my toes with no problem. Stopping them is another matter.

As of last week, I can turn my head to the left without it resulting in a gushing nose bleed. No luck turning to the right yet, but the doctors are optimistic.

The muscular spasms have almost completely subsided. If you come to visit, your chances of getting elbowed in the face have never been lower.

Opposable thumbs. Never thought I’d be able to say that again.

I have absolutely no memory of anything that happened to me before my thirty-fourth birthday. Luckily, everyone insists there isn’t much to remember.

I’m once again able to use my left buttock while sitting. Thank you to the anonymous donor.

The drooling has reached acceptable levels.

I can blink in unison again, as long as I limit myself to no more than one blink per minute.

The pain in my limbs is mysteriously lessened by a good fifty percent whenever I hear someone speak in French. As soon as they stop, however, the pain comes back full-force and is accompanied by dizziness, stomach cramps, and itchy back.

Good news: my eyebrows have grown back. Bad news: both of them are stacked over one eye.

The nightmarish prophetic visions have stopped. Now, whenever I touch someone, I only see a rerun of Gilligan’s Island.

I was having a bit of a midlife crisis before all this started. What’s the meaning of life? Why am I here? What’s the point of it all? I don’t ponder philosophical matters like that anymore. Instead, I prefer to focus all my mental energy on staying conscious.

I’m able to stand for several minutes at a time now, unless someone taller than me enters the room, at which point I collapse in a heap. Might be psychosomatic.

They managed to sew one nipple back on. They’re still looking for the other.

I begin to sweat profusely the moment the temperature hits seventy. Conversely, I get severe chills the instant it dips below sixty-five. Otherwise, I’m good.

That headache I had where it felt like someone was pounding an anvil with a sledgehammer? Turns out there was actually someone outside my window hitting an anvil with a sledgehammer.

That about covers it for now. As you can see, I’ve made some real progress. Unfortunately, it seems that it may soon be necessary to transplant my brain into the body of a gorilla. They tell me this is just one more step on the road to complete recovery, but I admit that I can only view this as something of a setback, as I’m not particularly fond of bananas.

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