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The Mike Marbach Letters: Burger King

Mike Marbach is an improvisor living in Philadelphia. He is the Education Director and teacher at Philly Improv Theater as well as the coach of PHIT house team Asteroid. Sometimes he likes to write letters to companies.

Greetings and Salutations,

Here ye, Here ye. On this, the 26th day of March in the year two thousand and twelve, I hereby demand to hold court with the Burger King. The request herein I dare say be not a harbinger of well-done’s being sent your way. Had it been written in years past when my love affair with the king of burgers was built on ground more solid than the boulder on which I lay writing this correspondence on this warm summer morn, rather than a cracking and crumbling foundation akin to that of the Cumbra Vieja of the Canary Isles that will one day plunge into the heart of the Atlantic as my love once plunged into the heart of the king’s offerings, perhaps then these thoughts conveyed will have been done so in a kinder tone. Sadly this be not the case and my heart aches as a result. Wherefore it is such that this mind cannot easily forgive nor forget any offense against its master is a burden I, and now we, must bear. Aye, we. We are in this together now. So where then doeth we go from here? Perhaps to the reasons for which I’ve taken such action.

To get to one of the issues I further request that you travel back a few years with me. Figuratively I mean that of course. I have not a machine with which I can transport us through space and time the likes of Dr. Emmett Brown’s DeLoreon or The Doctor’s TARDIS. Had I such a machine I wouldst then have my hands full traveling through time preventing tragedies from happening. Terrible things such as the cancellation of HBO’s old west drama, Deadwood. I am not sure how much I could do with to prevent it even given the power of time travel. I guess I would have to somehow infiltrate the HBO organization as president so that I would then be able to sway the decision to keep or cancel when the time came. Maybe I could just go back in time and really try to drum up support for the show so more people would watch or gather up a bunch of money from people that have come to love the show after it had ended and then take it back in time to HBO and pay them to keep it on the air. What would they have to lose? They keep the critically acclaimed show on the air and don’t have to pay a dime. I guess I won’t waste your time with a personal debate on the method I’d use to save Deadwood. Instead let me jump into one of the issues at hand- the Spicy Tendercrisp Chicken sandwich.

I like chicken. I like liver. Meow mix meow mix please deliver. Remember that jingle? I actually do like both Chicken and liver. Not together though. Well maybe together, but I’ve never had it together. Many people don’t like liver. And to be honest, based on my eating habits I probably shouldn’t like liver either. I’m what you’d call a “picky eater”. At least I’ve been called that by others. I’m assuming you’d call me that as well. All my life I’ve been made fun of. Laughed at and persecuted for my very selective palate. I don’t particularly like many fruits or vegetables. I also don’t really like a lot of different condiments either. So if there’s a bunch of different things on a sandwich I order I probably won’t eat it. I always need to make a point to say “Buddy, hold everything but the meat and the bread” just so I don’t get any lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and what-have-you piled on. A lot of people will say, “Hey there, Friend. Why don’t you just scrape off the extra stuff?” To that I say, “Because you can’t”. You can’t just scrape off something liquid. It attaches itself to the chicken. Especially if said chicken is breaded. Maybe if it was a grilled chicken it could then be wiped off a bit easier, but a breaded patty doesn’t allow for that sort of “undo” button. The liquid infiltrates the meat just as I would have to infiltrate HBO to save Deadwood. It simply can’t be done. And don’t get me started on the effect it has on the bread…

There has actually only been one condiment that I’ve been able to get at Burger King that I would gladly have on my chicken sandwich. The spicy sauce that was served a few years back on the Spicy Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich. What happened to that sauce? It was there and as fast as you can say “James Gandolfini” it was gone. Why? Where did it go? It was fantastic! It was there one day and gone the next. I’ve snuck in Burger Kings from Kiev to Carolina. Even went from Berlin down to Belize. I then took a slow boat to China. I even went from Nashville to Norway, Bonaire to Zimbabwe, Chicago to Czechoslovakia and back! But tell me where in the world is the Spicy Chicken sauce? It was a bit of a wasted trip. Did you know that there are no Burger Kings in Zimbabwe and that Czechoslovakia isn’t even a country anymore? Yeah, it’s actually two countries now, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Apparently there are a slew of new countries that formed shortly after I finished learning European geography in 6th grade with Sr. Fran Small. As soon as I’m done writing this letter I have taken off some time from work so that I am able to update my map room. I also have many apology letters to write to the makers of Trivial Pursuit. It would seem the cards were correct.

The point remains- where’s the sauce? Much like Czechoslovakia disappeared, the spicy sauce seems to have vanished without a trace. Erased from existence. Actually that’s what I’ll do if I get a time machine. Maybe THIS is the tragedy that I’d work to undo. I’d go back in time to before the Spicy Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich was eliminated from the menu and do something to somehow make it so it doesn’t get removed from the menu. Clearly the specifics of this plan need work with lack of time machine notwithstanding. Again I ask, where’s the sauce? In its place was something far less superior- the value spicy chicken sandwich. Those are $1 compared to the $3.50 or so for the Spicy Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich. Sure, they are as tasty as they are cheap, however my buds deserve more than that. I speak of both my taste buds and buds in the friends sense. Also, I have a friend named Bud, so I guess I also speak of Bud’s as it relates to him. He was a big fan of the spicy tendercrisp chicken sandwich as well.

I just miss it is all. I’d go to BK all the time to get it. And the sauce just did it for me. Please get back to me when you can and let me know what’s become of it and if I might ever see it again. If I can’t see it on a menu, perhaps you can send some to me. There’s got to be a stockpile of it somewhere in the Burger Kingdom. By this time though it may be past its expiration date. Actually, that’s what I’ll do with my time machine. Drive into the Buger Kingdom to where the sauce is storedd- most likely guarded by gun toting henchmen- and get it. Again, the plans need work. First I don’t think I’d need a time machine so much as a car. Oh and someone to drive it since I do not yet have a license. Though if I’m ready to break into the Burger Kingdom, driving without a license shouldn’t phase me. I’d also like a team assembled to assist me with the theft or dare I say, burglary. Probably 11 people with different skill sets that would come in handy throughout the operation. Of course, I shouldn’t be telling you all this. Forget what you heard. Hey, what’s that over there?

A few months back I saw on my television that new chicken tenders were being introduced. I raced over as soon as I could and picked up a box of 20. They called my number, I snatched the bag and ran outside with my box of 20 of the new nuggets. Actually, it was two boxes of 10 as that particular Burger King, I’m guessing, had run out of the 20 piece boxes. I pulled out one of the boxes and opened up the box ever so carefully, and as if it was the arc of the covenant, I didn’t look directly at it at first. As soon as I was sure my face would not melt like the faces of Nazis in Raiders, I looked at the new tenders. Now, before I get to what I think of these new nuggets, I gotta say that I had no issues with the original nuggets. As a matter of fact I preferred them to McDonalds McNuggets and certainly to Wendy’s whatever they call thems. The only thing I didn’t like about the BK Chicken Tenders was that the shapes always changed. They’d go from being simple strips to dinosaurs or cartoon creatures. What was the deal with that? I think I remember years ago when Jurassic Park or one of its sequels was out that there was a promotion that changed the shapes do dino shapes. Though long after the movie had disappeared from theaters and the public mind the shapes of the tenders remained dinosaury. That annoyed me, since the tenders were all about the same size. Dinosaurs are different sizes. So if I got a box of 10 regular shaped tenders that could equate to about 6 dino shaped tenders sometimes, depending on how many T Rexes I got. It’s an average. I’m sure if I got 10 T Rexes it might mean an equal amount, but that would be like hitting the lottery. Only I can’t quit my job. So anyway… I liked the old tenders so I was weary of the new ones. The first thing I noticed is they were more nugget than they were tender shaped. I took a bite and I was pleasantly surprised! They actually tasted pretty good. Though I have to say, I still prefer the taste of the classic chicken tender.

The new nuggets also came with several sauce options. Around this time a friend of mine introduced me to a sauce presumably imported from the Far East. She called it “sweet & sour.” I had never had it before. I’m not too much into exotic foods as I discussed earlier, but she had me try it on some Chick-Fila chicken and I loved it! Before this I would eat the nuggets dry and was content to do so. Not anymore. Whenever I have the option to put it on something I will. I don’t think it’s actually that great. It kind of tastes like syrup. As in syrup that you would put on pancakes or waffles or dip some pork roll in if you had made some that morning for breakfast. It’s ok, but it’s not that good. Not what I’d expect of the sweet & sour sauce my friend introduced me to that late summer evening. We don’t hang out as much anymore so I haven’t really tried any new sauces, so my sauce has stayed sweet & sour. Much like my relationship with her has become. Heyo! Take my sauce, please! No, don’t take my sauce. You’ve already taken the spicy sauce.

I addition to the new nuggets you’ve already recently changed up your french fries. Why are you doing this? Who are you talking to that is saying to change up all the things that I’ve grown to love about Burger King? Is it my ex? Is she putting you up to this? Oh god. Has the King been under a spell just as Theodon of Rohan was under the spell of Saruman? Made to do his bidding and treat friend as foe? Now everything makes sense! Why else would the King pull or change everything that is great about his kindom? Although I’m mostly convinced there’s been some sort of curse put upon you, I’ll also offer the potential there was some sort of test panel where people tried the foods, data was collected and bad decisions were made. That’s what I’ll do with that time machine. I’ll go back in time and get one one of those panels to try and stop these tragedies from happening. Then I’d have my spicy sauce back. I’d have the original tenders back. And I’d have the shoestring fries I’ve loved for years back. Of course, if it is in fact a curse, the time machine will do no good. You’ll need a white wizard.

King, you’re making it really tough for me to have it my way. In fact I can’t have it my way anymore. My way keeps getting pulled or changed. If I want to have things my way, now I have to make it myself or go to, what has become my new favorite place ever, Chick-Fila. The only thing that I don’t like about them is that they are not open on Sunday. Ok, two things. That they don’t have Spicy Chicken Tenders like they have the Spicy Chicken Sandwich. It’s not a big leap. Just cut up some of the sandwiches or something. Maybe I’ll write to them about that. Yes, I think I will.

In closing, please stop. I posted this here, because on your website there is a 500 character limit and I’m no mathemagician, but this is longer than 500 characters. You may contact me in whatever method you choose, but please no telegrams.

Sincerely,

Mike Marbach

The Mike Marbach Letters: Bissell

Mike Marbach is an improvisor living in Philadelphia. He is a teacher at Philly Improv Theater as well as the coach of PHIT house team Asteroid. He is a cast member of improvised telenovela Pasiones de Pasiones and improv show in real time twenty-four. Sometimes he likes to write letters to companies.

Dearest Bissell,

I’m writing to thank you for quite possibly saving my life and/or the life of someone else in my house. I’ll explain how this happened, but first the story needs some set up.

I recently moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Greenwood, Indiana. That is a city south of the Hoosier State’s capital, Indianapolis. Greenwood is a nice place to live should you ever consider moving here. The only thing that I can really count as strikes against it is the fact that there aren’t really any sidewalks. So, walking to and fro the place of your choice will have to be done in grass, mud or in the street next to the grass and mud nearly getting hit by cars. I plan on writing to the City of Greenwood about this matter. By that I mean writing to the City Council, not writing to every resident of the city. That would consume too much of my time- one of my most valuable assets. So, you know that by taking the time to write to you it must be of some importance.

In Philadelphia I worked at a Best Buy. I got a job at Best Buy so when I move to Los Angeles, a move I hope to make in my lifetime, I’ll have a job upon arriving. You see, I’m able to transfer between stores. Sure, there are times when I wish I were doing something that put the degree hanging on my wall to use, but I like the job. Actually, I have a confession to make. The degree is not on my wall. It’s in a box in my closet, which oddly enough, is next to an unopened 3-pack of Degree Antiperspirant/Deodorant. I never liked “powder fresh”. Why would I want to smell like an infant? At any rate, I transferred to the Best Buy here in Greenwood located right up the street from my house. This is good, because I do not yet drive. Though walking back and forth to work with no sidewalks is quite frustrating.

When I moved, I took about a month before starting at the Greenwood Best Buy. I did this with the intention of doing some writing, which didn’t really happen. I just sat around playing Halo 2 on the Xbox I bought for the purpose of sitting around playing Halo 2. Before actually starting at the Greenwood Best Buy I spent a lot of money there. My discount was still in tact. My mom and I went one day and got a new washer and dryer, a toaster that is quite a disappointment and also a vacuum. This, my friend, brings me to the reason for this letter to you.

My family has never had much luck in the vacuum area. The earliest vacuum memory I have is of this lime green one we had when I was growing up. Maybe more of a forest green. Well, somewhere between the two shades. That vacuum looked like something we had made ourselves. I’m still not sure how I didn’t electrocute myself with that thing. The wires were exposed in several areas and each prong was somewhat twisted. On top of that, toward the end of its life, it began to put down more dirt than it would bring in. I’m not really sure how that would happen, but it did. I’m not sure how or when that vacuum’s end came, but it was replaced at some point. I know that much.

The next vacuum was a Eureka Boss. After several months we fired the Boss. The belt kept breaking! You knew it was coming too. You’d be vacuuming and all of a sudden you’d catch a whiff of burning rubber followed by some smoke. You’d think we were trying to vacuum a bed of rocks or something, but we weren’t- just carpet. I also think that Eureka discontinued the bags needed for this vacuum, shortly after we bought it. We had to keep settling for a larger bag, that didn’t quite fit. So, the vacuum would sometimes spray a puff of thick dust up into my face upon turning it on. It wouldn’t do it every time, just every so often. It was like a game of Russian Roulette, only with vacuums.

Following the boss was the Eureka FeatherLite. We should have learned after our first experience with Eureka how the next experience would go. This vacuum actually worked pretty well- at least as far as cleaning up dirt. There was something that, though invisible to the eye, could not hide from the nose. The FeatherLite somehow made the vacuumed room smell like freshly spewed vomit. That is not a joke. I wish that it were. During and after the use of this vacuum, the smell of vomit would fill the house. This was a smell of barf so strong that it would make the user dry heave. It affects me to this day. When most people smell vomit, they associate it with someone being sick. I associate the smell of vomit with someone cleaning. Eureka hath ruined me. If that smell could somehow be bottled, it would make for some funny practical jokes, possibly even some TV bloopers.

This brings us to our present vacuum, which we purchased at the Greenwood Best Buy along with the Washer, the dryer and the toaster that I’m none too pleased with. The vacuum we picked up that day was the Bissell CleanView Bagless Deluxe with “Clean Carpet Sensor and wide cleaning path.” A bagless vacuum! Oh wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles! No more fiddling around with bags that may or may no fit the vacuum! No more puffs of dirt spraying randomly into my face! And no more late-fees! Wait, that has to do with Blockbuster. And a “clean carpet sensor?” That’s just great! I never know when to stop vacuuming. I never think the carpet is clean enough. Now, with this nifty new “clean carpet sensor” I’ll know exactly when I can stop. When the light is red, I keep going. When it’s green, I know it’s clean! What will you guys think of next? That’s an actual question, not rhetorical. Please let me know what you guys think of next. I could end this letter here, but I would have done so without getting to the event that prompted me to write the letter in the first place. So, I continue.

Today I was in my bedroom meticulously putting together a house of cards, when I heard my nephew running down the hall toward my room. He swung open my door and I leapt to block the opened door’s rush of wind from knocking over my house of cards. I was successful, though when he entered he kicked over my cup of Cream Soda. At any rate, he rushed in to tell my older sister needed my help. I went downstairs to her room, where I saw her standing outside the room staring into one corner. I asked what she wanted, to which she replied telling me to look close at the corner. No sooner did I look into the corner did I see a massive, furry, worm-like creature with more legs than the sky has stars, scurry across the floor out of sight. I knew then what I was called to do.

I fought many a bug in my day. The physical wounds have healed, but the emotional and psychological scars have yet to fade. There was the “Barbarian Bee” of the late nineties. That was a carpenter Bee that somehow made it into my room, probably through the window I kept open. Though the carpenter bees rarely sting, that doesn’t stop them from flying right into your face making you scream to the amusement of the all-guys dorm. After a long and arduous battle the bee disappeared, maybe through that open window. I fear one day he’ll come back and try to finish what he started. Then there was the “Great Spider Scare” of aught one. I really dislike spiders, but I was forced to deal with this one due to my roommate’s outright fear of them. My roommate at the time was Jonah (yes, like the whale guy). He was a weight lifter and quite big. So, seeing him flee from a spider is quite a site. Sort of like the Elephant being scared of the mouse. This spider was one tough cookie. It appeared to be wearing those gloves with the fingers cut out on each leg, but I could be wrong. I do know that it had a mullet. The hair on this thing was so thick it could be combed. He definitely had a “business in the front, party in the back” look. After a couple whacks, he shook one of his fists at me and then fell to his death.

After having come out victorious in the aforementioned bug-fighting campaigns, I felt rather confident going into battle the many leg-ed creature that took up residence in my sister’s bedroom. Before fighting, I wanted to know my enemy. I consulted my Entomological books to find out what I was up against. I checked the pictures against my quick sighting of the beast and concluded that it was a centipede. A centipede with no concern for me or my family that needed to be stopped. I had no reason to think that the standard weapons would not work. I reached into my bug-fighting bag of tricks and came out with a bottle of Windex. I’m not sure why, but that’s usually the first line of defense for me. Bug in the house? Get the Windex! That’s usually how it works. I sprayed the thing with the liquid and waited for its demise. Death was not to come. This beast shook off the Windex like a dog coming in out of the rain. This was the multi-surface Windex. I’m not sure if that helped or hindered its bug killing powers, but it had little to no effect. This startled me a bit, but it didn’t phase me. On to “plan B”. I took off the shoe and waited for the monster to show itself. After moving several pieces of furniture, my opportunity to end this finally came. I swung at the thing with the orthopedic-looking shoe I bought for working at the Greenwood Best Buy, since the white casual sneakers I wore at my other store were not allowed. At first I thought I had missed, so I swung again. And again. And again. I was not missing. The shoe was having no effect! This could be because, being a comfort shoe, my shoe is made of a softer material than most shoes. It was as if the bug had some sort of steel exoskeleton, not unlike the mutant Wolverine of the X-Men. What could I do? I tried the Windex. I used the shoe. What’s left?

I went through the rolodex of bug-killing tactics in my head. I skimmed the room’s arsenal of every day objects turned weapons when I saw it. A beam of light shone down and around the Bissell CleanView bagless Deluxe. I couldn’t use it in the upright, push style, I needed some agility. So, I hooked up the hose and flipped the switch. I put my hand up against the tip of the hose to test its power and believe me when I say I’m lucky I still have my hand. You don’t want to toy with 12 amps of suction. I moved the bed out of the way and waited for the great beast to appear before me. And then… it did. It walked out like Maximus Decimus Meridias ready to defeat another unworthy opponent in the Roman Coliseum. Though I wanted this beast gone from the house, I couldn’t help but respect its power. As I neared the hairy creature with the telescoping handle of the Bissell, I could swear that some of its arms were waving in a “bring it on” sort of motion. I brought it on- all 12 amps. My sister claims to have heard it saying, “Oh no. A vacuum. Whatever shall I do?” in a very child-like and sarcastic tone. I can’t back that up, as I did not hear it. Anyway, I put the hose’s tip right up to the bug’s tail or head… I can’t be sure which it was… and prepared for the saga to end. But end it did not! This behemoth continued to move away from the 12 amps of suction! How could this be? I tried again. Still again this bug made a Herculean effort to evade the vacuum’s wrath. A third time I went at the beast with the hose and the third time was the last. The gladiator-bug was sucked up into the hose through the tube and into the easy empty container of the Bissell Cleanview bagless Deluxe. The “clean carpet sensor” went from red to green and I knew the battle was over. Nearly a ½ hour after it began, the saga had ended.

The point of this letter is that Bissell might have saved my life today. After consulting my Entomological books, I don’t believe this monster was life threatening, but rather was only capable of giving me an extreme case of the willies. Though, had it been a poisonous insect, I can rest knowing that the Bissell CleanView bagless Deluxe did what the exterminator could not- rid my house of pests. Yes, that’s plural. Earlier today, but after the bout with the beast, my sister used the Bissell to suck up a bunch of lady bugs congregating by her window. I hope that word spreads in the bug community about our new weapon so spreading fear.

Now I’m sure that Bissell didn’t intend extermination as a use for the Cleanview bagless Deluxe, but I’m glad that I had it on my side. The battled raged, the scales tipped from side to side, but in the end the Bissell came out on top. How could a bug compete with the makers of the Big Green Clean Machine? Bissell, you free my carpet of dirt, my house of creepy crawly things and my mind of worries about both. Keep up the good work!

–Mike Marbach

PS: It was definitely more of a sea-green now that I think of it.

PPS: Below is an artists rendering of what the Bissell CleanView Bagless Deluxe hepled me oust from my house.

 

Official Response from Bissell

April 18, 2005

Dear Mr. Marbach,

Thank you for writing BISSELL Consumer Services. It is always beneficial when a consumer takes the time to write, sharing with us their evaluation of a BISSELL product or service.

It was a pleasure to read your interesting story regarding the BISSELL Cleanview Bagless Deluxe Vacuum and how it saved your day! Your letter will be circulated to other departments within the company so others may share the same opportunity to read and enjoy it as well!

If you ever have any questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact BISSELL Consumer Services through the toll-free number provided below. Any one of our representatives can help you.

Thank you.

BISSELL Homecare Inc.