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July 22, 2008

The Amount of Soap They Give You at the Ritz Carlton in Chicago

If you’re wondering how much soap they give you at the Ritz Carlton in Chicago, I can answer: too much. They give you far more soap than you can possibly use during one stay. That’s how you know it’s a fancy hotel. Most hotels give you those little hotel soaps that are about as big as a fun-size Mr. Goodbar, and honestly, that's a good size for a soap you are probably going to use, at most, twice. But the Ritz Carlton gives you two big blocks of fancy L'Occitane “vegetable soap.” I’m not sure what vegetables the soap is made from, nor why they feel the need to say that it’s made from vegetables, other than perhaps that’s their subtle way of trying to tell me that other soaps are made from meat, which I hope is not true. Didn’t they used to make soap from whale? Have I been washing with whale soap my whole life and didn’t know it? If that’s true I’m going to be very upset because I have donated a lot of money to various groups attempting to save whales over the years, and if I have been undermining my own efforts by using whales to clean my pits this whole time, I am going to feel seriously hoodwinked.

I actually felt guilty taking my morning shower because I knew while unwrapping the giant soap that it was mostly going to go to waste. Then I thought, maybe not. Maybe they reuse the soap for other guests. Maybe they wrap it back up and nobody is the wiser. Wouldn’t the soap still be clean? I think so. After all, it’s soap.

I would prefer it if they offered a smaller soap size. There’s no reason why it couldn’t still be fancy. For example, each soap could be small, but hand-carved into a whimsical animal shape. That would be good. Think about it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start your day by washing off with a frolicking Shetland pony soap? Or a laughing baby orangutan? I remember as a kid how fun it was to pick out the different shapes from a box of animal crackers. Simply translate that idea to hand-crafted vegetable soaps and I think you can begin to see the potential here. Plus, there’s also an opportunity to do some good here. Not only would this idea save soap, but it could provide employment for scores of poor children in Third World villages. Imagine the pride those kids could take in carving tigers and iguanas for the enjoyment of dirty Americans. [Note: send this idea to Jimmy Carter.]

Anyway, I ended up taking an extra long shower so that I could use up as much of that fancy soap as possible knowing that if I didn’t use it, the hotel would most likely not reuse it, and it would just end up in the pocket of the chambermaid. Why should she get the soap? I’m the one who paid for the room, not her!

Actually I didn’t pay for the room. Simon & Schuster did. And they pass the cost on to you, the consumer. So really, you paid for the room, and I didn’t think you would want the chambermaid to take my unused soap, especially because the chambermaid most likely can’t even afford to buy one of my books, which makes it doubly wrong that she should get my soap.

When I got done washing, I decided to see if the vegetable soap tasted like vegetables. Knowing that soap usually tastes terrible, I took the tiniest nibble. The answer to my question was immediately apparent. No. It did not taste like vegetables. Just as I suspected it would, it tasted like whale, and I ended up eating the whole thing. Then I put the other bar in my tote bag and ate it on the plane to Seattle. When the passenger next to me commented that my snack smelled delicious, I said, "Thank you." When he asked me what it was, I just smiled and said, "I'll give you a hint. You use it to wash your balls." That pretty much ended the conversation.


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Michael Ian Black: A man of soaps. Enjoyed your book signing at the Books-A-Million today (what was it you said about opening a shoppe with a pun in the title?). And thanks for the delightful inscription, sir; I miss you too!


second sucks. i hate myself.


Thank you for the terrific book signing today. It was a joyous occasion had by all. Except for orphans. Orphans were not given parents by your signing, but I was given a memory that will last a lifetime. And that, my friend, is more important then any orphan that you can find.

So, it seems that Chicago went better than Boston (I was the one who asked you about that! Me!!). Of course it did. Less orphans.


oh michael ian. everyone knows chicagoland's broad shoulders require broad bars of soap.
i left your book signing with the perfect gift for my friend craig (who I guess you also miss as much as derek) but with many imperfect photos. come back! do over.


I love conversations that talk about snacks and balls. Wait, what?

I'm glad Chicago went better for you today. Now, if you just keep heading a little further south towards Oklahoma but definately not Texas....


I miss you too.


You live such a life of elegant luxury. Sometimes I stare up at the stars, dreaming of the day I'll get to use large soap bars from a fancy hotel. Some day...some day.


Tomorrow you and I will be at Third Place Books. It will be delightful, I promise. I can't wait. I hope the soaps in Seattle are to your liking.


I could give you a long lecture about the difference between vegetable and animal based soaps, being the kind of hippy nerd who delves into these kinds of things out of interest (and certain skin allergies).

But you don't want to read about that; nor do you probably want to read about how completely envious I am of my good friends Renee and Susanna, for once again being able to bask in your magnificence in Chicago.

We have excellent fudge in England, if that might tempt you to these distant shores...


" Maybe they wrap it back up and nobody is the wiser. Wouldn’t the soap still be clean? I think so. After all, it’s soap."

I'd hate to be the used soap hair plucker,that's for sure.
That last line made me L-O-L.

You were terrific on Mancow!


VERY funny!

I'm sort of surprised that fancy hotels have huge bars of soap. I thought most of them had the aromatherapy shower gels from Bath and Body. Guess everyone is going "green" these days. Whatever.

Boo! I missed Mancow, which is not a shock. I never listen to that schmuck. So unless you would have alerted us on your handy dandy blog here, most non-conservatives wouldn't have had a clue. I would have tuned in for you though. Then I would have turned on, then off. Per Timothy Leary.

You were on WGN TV in the AM too, yes? Yes you were!
Fans can click on your face there and watch.

But what happened to the WGN radio interview at 3? (she asks upon the air) Your friendly and fun Uncle told me to: "Tune in to 720", then he further said: "On your AM dial". Just like that. Then "You HAVE an AM dial, right?" Mm Mm MM sassy! Nothing but news, weather, traffic and lousy reception.

Oh well.

I trust you were pleased with your very large, patient, star struck, non-heckling (except for a few of us) midwest crowd? The adoring masses turned out for you, as it should be.

Anyway, it's always terrific to see you. I wish you the very best on the rest of your book tour.


I want some soap.

Nickel Jean

Which tastes better, vegetable soap or monkey meat?


oday peaksay igpay atianlay?


I think you are Adam West's illegitimate love child.


What is pig latian?

I still have fancy soap from my honeymoon six years ago. Maybe you are supposed to use it, keep it, and carve it yourself. See . . . that's encouraging a craft. I am for that. I'd love to see what you create out of your salad bar soap. Perhaps carve your vegetable bars into vegetable shapes?

Or balls.

I think I will go eat some whales now. Or better yet, their babies.


This is completely unrelated to your funny bit on soap. I'm just bummed that you're not coming to San Francisco for the book signing. Instead you're going to Corte Madera, north of SF, where all the Marina party moms shop and drink while weekend daddys wear douchey suits all week. Is that the kind of crowd you want at a book signing? Perhaps. But what about lethargic asses like me, who read your blog daily in order to put a smile on my unhappy at work face?


Have you ever considered that the small soaps you get at crappier hotels are really just what's left of the big bars used at the posher hotels? That's actually where most of the Ritz-Carlton's profits come from. They just rewrap that shit and sell it to the Howard Johnson's down the street.


JBC -- ooh, that's good.


Hey Mike,

A) This is not the Zach who posted above me.
B) I was at the book signing. Thank you for the wonderful memory.

That is all.


Whale soap is a delectable treat that should never be taken for granted. I'm glad you took it with you.


Ritz Carlton, huh? Fancy!! Those people over at Simon and Schuster really know how to party! You've taught them well.

I just wanted to thank you again for being so sweet and taking the time for pictures and to chat with me (not argue) about various things at your book signing in Chicago.

And you really came through for me on the interview, which means more to me than you'll ever know (um, I guess now you sort of know). I'm sorry I ever doubted you, lover. ;-)

Anyway, check it out, fellow MIB fans!



"I'll give you a hint. You use it to wash your balls." That could have been a lot of things. I would have guessed tongue sandwich or RID lice shampoo.


Don't touch the comforter... even at the Ritz Carlton. Trust me. I've heard some bad stories.


You are not far wrong when you say the alternative to vegetable soap is meat. In fact the majority of soaps you get today in the drug store or supermarket (and the Chanel counter, and many other prestige brands by the way) are made of tallow- a by product of the meat industry. So would you rather wash your face (or balls) with nice, creamy coconut and palm oils (the vegetables in vegatable soap), or the ground up bones of a dead cow? YOU be the judge!

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