Thursday, January 12, 2012

Firing off a response...

Ok, so hi, yes, it's been like a year. I get busy, ok? Not like you missed me. But hopefully I'm back. New Year's Resolution and all...

I think the worst part of the Mitt Romney "I like to fire people" thing is that he's getting attacked for all the wrong reasons. Yes, it was an inartful sound bite from a guy who is genetically incapable of knowing better. But when you put it in a little context, it doesn't sound so bad. He's clearly talking about having the choice of providers of services.

But then the funny thing happens, when you pull back a little more, and put the remark in it's complete context, it's even worse than the sound bite. First off, his point was that under the Affordable Care Act, you would no longer be free to choose your insurance company. This is a baldfaced lie (and for someone with hair like his, using the word "bald" in any context is a major slur). Never mind the fact that most of us already get very little choice of our health insurance company (my employer offers one choice, my wife's offers two), being able to choose an insurance company is something that is well preserved in the Affordable Care Act.

So in essence, it's a bad sound bite about a reasonable notion that is at best completely irrelevant to the conversation and at worst a gross distortion of current policy designed to scare gullible people into supporting him with phony common sense. Yep, seems about right for Mittens.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Subtraction by subtraction...

Ok, so pancake breakfast. It's a staple in the fund-raising arsenal of every self respecting school, church congreagation, boy scout troop, not for profit community theater group and secret paramilitary organization. The boy's school went to that well this weekend, and part of the deal is, well, other than pancakes, there's got to be entertainment. Because let's face it, you're not raking in the 5 dollar ticket money hand over fist with a package of Bisquick and the Log Cabin Republicans (Argh, I meant "Log Cabin" brand syrup. This computer has the strangest Auto-Correct.)

So where was I? Right, entertainment. The boy sang in the choir, who neatly toed the separation of church and state line with some fine spiritual work, which ok, whatever, I can't work up a rant about that considering the school is named after a preacher. Something about getting what you pay for. Then came the school's rock ensemble, and that's where our story begins (yes, two whole paragraphs in. Deal with it).

First up was a passable version of something modern and terrible, I couldn't tell you for the life of me which Coldplay wannabes originally did it, including maybe Coldplay. Then came the fun part. The guitar riff that launched a million plaid flannel shirts, Smells Like Teen Spirit. The 8th grader singing it did a passable, if a bit screechy, Cobain and the 11 year old on guitar held his own nicely, considering. Then a vague "what led them to pick that?" from the wife did it to me. The math. You don't want to know the math. But me, I'm cursed with doing the math without thinking.

Nevermind came out in 1991. That's 19 years ago, which is pretty freaking pathetic to start with. Chuck Klosterman sometimes does this thing where he says "ok, so that was x number of years ago. Count back that same number of years again, and to that person this is like whatever happened then..."which he totally stole from me, except of course he didn't because it's obvious for people whose brains work a certain way. So you do that, and you get 1972, which means you get "Stairway to Heaven," which oh my god (yes, I know that actually came out in 1971, but 1972 is all "Nights in White Satin" and "Baby Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me," which is secretly an awesome song. Mac Davis was so underrated). But that doesn't even prove the real point, all that does is prove that "...Teen Spirit" is now an old song, but exactly half as old as "Stairway to Heaven."

Here's the actual thing. The kids in that band were in 7th and 8th grade. If you're reading this (and you must be), then chances are you were in 7th or 8th grade in or around 1983. So a group of your (my) peers standing up there at the pancake breakfast would be singing...Beatles. And not cool White Album era Beatles, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" head-bobbing, not-quite-available-in-the-US-era Beatles.

Most people, I think, get stuck on an era when it comes to music. Baby Boomers got stuck on the so-called "Classic Rock" era (I say "so-called" because the term Classic automatically implies a certain standard of quality, and let's face it, a lot of it is just simplistic crap that we've all agreed over time to like because we've heard it so many times and so many other people seem to like it. It's also less embarrassing to like that than it is to admit that you can't tell the difference between Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend, or god forbid that you actually like new stuff too, except you're actually afraid that the stuff you like is the dorky new stuff, not the cool new stuff. I have no idea where this parenthetical statement is going, so I'm just going to go back to the other point). The hell was I talking about? Oh right, stuck on an era. Boomers-Classic Rock. Well, for me and many of my contemporaries, it was Nevermind that got us stuck. That was when music was somehow exciting and awesome, not like this twee corporate garbage they make now (that last part is mostly my contemporaries, I actually like Vampire Weekend...oh crap, they're the dorky one, right? Uh...Zepplin Rules!!!1!!) But seriously, that was the last time I felt like I knew something about contemporary music, and now 8th graders are playing it the same way I heard "Love Me Do" in junior high when the unreformed hippie music teacher played it for us with this look of "this, my children, is when music was real and righteous and cool" and we looked at him all like "yeah, sure thing gramps, it was a real wild time, we get it." And there, at the pancake breakfast, was that guy, leading the rock ensemble, goatee and short-sleeve-t-shirt -over-long-sleeve-shirt slacker casual, looking like Jason Bateman in Juno, thinking "this is when music was awesome and kicked serious ass," and he is me, sort of, and I sigh deeply.

I'd write more, but Cee Lo Green is rocking a completely outrageous David Byrne in Stop Making Sense level bright red suit on Letterman, and I've never heard this song before, and it's called what now? Oh my...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Today's Advertorial

Leo (July 23—Aug. 22) — Today is a 7 — If you plan a trip, take advantage of competitive pricing. There’s no need to pay top dollar when hotels are competing for your business.

The hell? I know newspapers are all in trouble and all, but now they're selling ads to in the horoscopes? That ain't right.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hi there, HR rep...

Congratulations on finding me. It shouldn't have been too difficult, but I've at least tried to make sure it isn't completely tied to me in every publicly identifiable way. But here we are.

So no doubt you're looking here to see if there's anything embarrassing or disqualifying about me that you can use to evaluate my candidacy for your open position. So let's just skip the formalities, and talk honestly for a moment.

You aren't going to find me talking s*** about my boss here, primarily because I started this blog after I left my last job. So, I haven't had a boss since I've had this forum. But also, I'm smart enough not to do that. We'll make a deal. If I need to complain about the boss, I'll do it offline, out loud, to my cats and possibly my spouse. The boy may hear it too, but he's useless to get information out of. I reserve the right to write about it when I turn my wacky work experiences into a book/movie/sitcom on TBS produced by Tyler Perry.

I've already given you the clues about my personal life that you're looking for by a) mentioning a spouse, b) mentioning a child and possibly c) mentioning cats (though if that's really going to come into play in the hiring decision, that's a red flag for me). You also could have just noticed the wedding ring I wore to the interview, and the fact that when you asked what I've been doing while not working, I mentioned spending time with my son. You're clever like that, I know you could pick those clues up.

So what else? My Facebook page is pretty nondescript. From it, you can tell I watch TV, primarily sports, and that I follow politics pretty closely. It's a good bet you can tell which side I'm on in that particular subject area, but I rarely, if ever, bring that stuff up at work.

That's a good place to jump off the specifics and get to a larger point (trust me, I do that a lot here). I'm not the kind of person whose work life and personal life are completely intertwined. Sure, I like socializing with co-workers on occasion, but I'm not going to make the office politics (oh, come on, there are politics in your office, I know what you said in the interview, but there are politics everywhere. It's ok.) into my personal drama. It's just not who I am. Who I am is a reasonably intelligent person who has a life outside of work, and will never do anything stupid to make the company look bad, or be anything but professional. That all having been said, I'm getting impatient with this whole unemployment thing, and would really like to get the job.

Oh, hey, you Googled me, right? You should probably know that I am not a personal injury attorney in South Carolina, and I did not play quarterback for the University of Michigan in 1970 (though that would've been remarkable of me to do so, since I was about a month old when that season started...ooh look, another clue!!!).

(P.S. about the asterisks above, substituting for the bad word...I sometimes forget to do that here, but we're all adults, right?)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mandatory heart-rending parenting post...

So you may have noticed that I haven't exactly been keeping up the usual breakneck pace of posting lately. It's partially because I'm somewhat blocked, not sure what's up with that. But a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm working a little bit, for the Census Bureau. It's bullshit work, 15 hours a week for at-least-it's-better-than-Starbucks-pay. I sit in someone else's place of business for 3-hour stretches waiting for nobody to come in to ask for help in filling out their census form. Part of the reason nobody comes in is poor advertising, and part of it is because it's a FUCKING 10 QUESTION CENSUS FORM. If you haven't seen it, if you know what your name is, and the names, genders and races of the people who you live with are, then you really don't need me. And even if you don't know those things, you can fake it if you're semi-literate. But it's work...technically.

Because of said work (I'd get cute and go all ironic quotation marks around "work," but I'm not in the mood), I will, for the first time in the 5 years I've been a parent, miss something. It's a YMCA league basketball game, his first of the "season." So far, I've made it to every swimming lesson, every tee-ball game, and every soccer/basketball game. So obviously, when I figured out that the basketball game conflicted with my 9-12 shift of doing nothing for money, I was bummed. I was pissed that I'd have to miss the game, and questioning what it meant to my whole "family > career" dynamic. But then two things happened.

Yesterday, he lost his first tooth. Details are sketchy as to how it happened, but it was a lower front, the kind that will forever allow us to mark pictures from the next however long, because there's no doubt when his mouth is open (which is always). That meant a visit from the tooth fairy, who, after studying the market, soliciting feedback from the other parents on Facebook, and checking his and the wife's coat pockets, decided that a five-spot was the way to go, along with a Hot Wheel from the secret stash of emergency toy presents. The operation went smoothly, taking the little plastic treasure chest the school nurse gave him out, removing the tooth (its second extraction of the day), and replacing the treasure chest with the money and the car. He rolled over and sighed while I was in there, but I made it out undetected.

Fast forward to 6:50, or 10 minutes before wake-up time. "Daddy, can I get up?" came the call. Usually, it's met with a simple "no...10 more minutes," more begging than ordering. But I was awake already, so what the hell. I went in, having mostly forgotten about my visit from the night before. But he hadn't. "Daddy...daddy...the...the...tooth fairy left me a race car and...(looking) FIVEDOLLARS...FIVEDOLLARS Daddy!" I smiled and sat down on the bed behind him. He leaned back onto me and ripped open the package, pulling out the randomly selected Hot Wheel and running it over the bed, making a the requisite quiet "vroom" noise (quiet because Mommy was still asleep). One of the cats joined us, and he started petting her with one hand and running the car over her tail with the other. This proved to be confusing but acceptable to her. He was wide awake, but still a little groggy, so he slumped back against me, leaving the car on the bed, speculating as to why the maid service we still indulge ourselves in using would put his new Star Wars sheets on upside down the way they did. He posited that it was so he could see the characters facing up to him the right way as he lay between the sheets, their lightsabres forever pointing up at him. Sound theory, even if I knew it was more likely that it was a coin flip as to which way the sheets would go on. No more than three minutes went by this whole time, then it was time to get up and start the day, which I signified with a kiss on the head and a "let's go, buddy." The smile on his face, still aglow from the revelation of the tooth fairy's bounty, was indescribable. "Can we put my fivedollars" (lack of spacing intentional, by the way, thank you large sandwich chain for indelibly imprinting 'fivedollarfootlong' on his brain, as though it were one word) "with my Wii money?" See, we're trying to teach him a few basics about money, i.e. its lack of a tendency to grow on trees and such, so he's saving up the occasional dollars he earns for doing odd jobs toward a yet-unspecified game for the Wii. The dentatorially (I don't care) mandated Abe Lincoln brings him to about 12 bucks, so he's more than halfway there, unless he's looking for Madden 10 or something. "Of course you can, here, I'll do it now" I said, setting it up on his dresser with the rest. With that, the spell was broken, and he ran downstairs, ready to start the day.

That led to the second thing, a revelation of sorts (ok, I'm overselling it. More of a slow-developing thought that marinated over the next few hours). Fuck the basketball game. That's what I'm in this for, that last few minutes. Could've been me, could've been Mommy, doesn't matter. Tomorrow, at the game, barring something unusual, nothing will happen. He'll pratice for 1/2 hour and play a game for 1/2 hour. In practice, he'll try to dribble between his legs and fail (my fault. I'm useless as a legit basketball player, so I go all Globetrotter anytime I've got the rock...I can't make 6 out of 10 layups, but I've got trace amounts of handle). During the game, he'll make a shot or he won't. Whatever. Because the moment upstairs, before the obligations of the day took over, marveling at the handiwork of the Tooth Fairy and speculating on the sheet-orientation habits of a Dial-A-Maid employee, was the real moment. That may sound obvious, but that realization led to a bigger realization (you might even say, a Larger Point).

I'm not the only one who has to work tomorrow (meaning a Saturday, btw). I have to work not because "Mr. Dithers needs me to work on the Penske file," but because I have a schedule, and that schedule says "Sat. 9-12." The whole "I must be there for every soccer practice, school play, recital and game" notion really is a silly product of the Upper East Side (Upper West Side? I don't know which is which, and frankly I don't care, because fuck New York, too) "Mommy Wars" mentality, in which interactions with your child have meaning only if they occur a) in public and b) in the context of structured activity. I have to be there for the game because to not be there is to Not Be There. Working is a choice for those assholes, and the Noble Stand they take to leave the office early to be horrifying stage parents is, among other things, a Giant Fucking Luxury that they usually don't appreciate in the slightest. The funny part? Of everyone in this situation, the one that understands the most is the boy. You can't be there because you have to work? Oh, ok. Can I have a piece of candy now? (subtext: I'm over it, truly). Kindergartners, more so than most adults, understand the concept of "have to," because it's their entire life. Get out of bed, eat your cereal, get dressed, go to school, line up, sit down, line up, go to gym, line up, sit down, line up go to lunch, eat your lunch, put your coat on, line up, go outside, line up, go back inside, sit down, line up, go get on the bus, go to the Y, line up, time for art class, line up, back to your room, get your coat, get in the car, eat your dinner, put your toys away, get in the bathtub, go to sleep. There's very little leeway in that routine for them, so the fact that I have to go sit in someone else's office while he's playing one of his 25 basketball games this calendar year is really not much of a revelation to him. Someday, someone may try to tell him that tomorrow was a bad thing. And hopefully, what he'll think, is (in all it's time-shifted glory) "fuck tomorrow. We had this morning."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I had a really good idea for a post the other night, just as I was going to bed. For the life of me, I can't remember it. It even had a larger point. Sorry, wait, by now that needs to be Larger Point (tm). As opposed to a Lager Point, which is something you make after a coupla beers, or even a Point Lager, which is decent but not spectacular beer from Pennsylvania, by no means the peer of Yuengling. And since I just googled it, I now find that Point is actually from Wisconsin, meaning it's actually no peer of of Leinenkugel. Aggressive Lethargy regrets the error.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Unrelated things...

These things all happened yesterday...

1. On the train to a "career fair," (quotation marks explained below)I saw a van parked behind a building somewhere on the NorthSide. The van was painted up with the logo and trade dress of the Illinois Lottery (Have a Ball!), and sitting on the front dashboard were two giant novelty checks.

2. Chatting with a woman in line at one of the booths at the fair, she recognized the person at the table as someone she'd interviewed with earlier that morning.

3. Open letter to the gentleman on the el sitting across the car from me...the whole "tough guy hair net" thing complete with "you lookin' at me? Huh?" scowl is totally undermined by the fact that you are carrying your son's Thomas the Tank Engine backpack. Cute kid, but it's kinda hard (and unnecessary on a midmorning Red Line train) to be that much of a badass that way.

4. Still on the train, at one point (maybe Argyle) a woman quickly fumbled with her fancy phone-camera (don't know what kind, but a nice one) and started furiously taking pictures of...? No clue. There was nothing I could imagine anyone taking pictures of, unless the train was the only way she could get a high enough view of something. But then, why the suddenness to it? Wouldn't she know where she was looking if she was on some sort of photographic mission? My guess was she was looking for a car parked somewhere it shouldn't be.

5. Return trip, several hours later (I really need to ride the train more often, I guess), a rough-looking older guy is sitting in front of me. He's on his phone barking orders at someone in a gravelly, Eastern European accent that instantly reminds me of some kind of bad guy from 24. With that image in mind, I can see him texting. It's relevant that he's older, because a) his phone is pretty old, and b) it's taking him FOREVER to text. Naturally, I'm fascinated by what could be worth this much effort. When I manage to sneak a peek as he's finishes, it says "Sorry for the way I've been acting lately. I love you." I feel terrible for spying on him.

6. This last one, I need to tread lightly. Because there are all kinds of things wrapped up in this that I don't really want to go stomping around in. But here goes...So I'm standing in line to get in to this "career fair" (ok, explaining the quotes. Basically, if you're unemployed, avoid these things like the plague. If you want to spend your time more productively, make two phone calls to random companies inquiring about their open positions, then take a 3 hour nap. At least you'll be refreshed, instead of exhausted from getting dressed up, slogging downtown on the train, getting totally f***ing lost in the Merchandise Mart, standing in a giant line of desperate people only to find out that the 20 booths inside consist of 4 insurance companies hiring sales people, a retail chain hiring stock clerks, 2 or 3 companies looking to fill incredibly specific positions (you could tell the HR person just wanted out of the office for the morning), and 10 or 11 booths where they were actually trying to sell you something (get computer training! Get your bachelor's degree/GED! Enroll in the police academy! Have you considered the Coast Guard? Run your own home busines over teh interwebs!) Just. Don't. Go. Next time you go downtown, fling 10 copies of your resume into the air at random points on the sidewalk while passing large office buildings, you've got a better chance of landing something. Ok, I'm done now. Where was I? Right, standing in line). So I'm standing in line, waiting to "register" (don't get me started). Everyone has their resume out so the registration desk can take your information. Looking over the shoulder of the woman in front of me (hmmm, seems to be a theme...I was nosy yesterday, I suppose), I saw her name written in comically unprofessional 18 point type, the kind where the letters were all jagged and uneven. If she was a graphic designer, then maybe it works, I suppose, but it was the name itself that jumped out at me.
Her name was DeJaVu.
Yes, it was her first name, and yes, it was capitalized like that. Her last name was something common, plus I don't want to publish it here. Oh, and I almost forgot, there's an accent mark in there somewhere, but I couldn't tell if it was over the J, the a, or the V. And yes, only one accent mark. Again, I know this gets complicated when discussing these things, and gawd knows that a guy whose surname is pronounced "more head" (not to mention a first name that can be a title or a verb) has no business making fun of anyone else's name, but how much do you have to hate your child to name it something that ridiculous? How is she ever supposed to be taken seriously? How does she not strangle someone after hearing, for the 3,052,789th time "Haven't we met before?" In short, and to sum up: argh.