11-18-03, 12:41 PM -
Here I sit in the cafeteria.
Haven't eaten in a company-run cafeteria in a long time. It's a bit like school, only with good food and no teachers. Same lunchladies, though. What government lab do they grow lunchladies in, anyway?
I'm working in the video vault of one of the major TV news networks. I mean major, too. It's about like you'd think: Longtime techies hunched in front of video editing machines that whir busily and occasionally make Arnold Schwartzenegger sound like Alvin & the Chipmunks.
My job: Filing. Yippee skippedy doo.
For some reason, the TV is on all day near my desk, but with the sound off. This is good, because it allows me to invent dialogue for the people onscreen. Earlier, they were interviewing various heads about the Massachusetts court's decision in favor of gay marriage:
"So, Mrs. Kensington, why are you so upset?"
"Well, Susan, it's not that we have a problem with gays. We just don't like to think about butt-stuffing."
"So why did you file this suit if you knew that it meant months of people arguing their rights to stuff butts?"
"Well, Susan, that hadn't occurred to us, actually. And in fact, the longer the trial went on, the more we had to think about the men across the room stuffing each other's butts, and...well, frankly, now we want them to cut it out entirely."
"And you think suing them is the best way to make the butt-stuffing stop?"
"Yes, we do."
"Mrs. Kensington, would it be fair for me to say that you're an ignorant bitch?"
"I appreciate the compliment, but..."
"...and would you mind if I went further and suggested that if indeed anyone needed some butt-stuffing, it might be you?"
"I would have to consult Mr. Ashcroft, but..."
"Mrs. Kensington, do you listen to Elton John?"
"And it doesn't bother you that he's a raging butt-stuffer with a Ph.D in butt-stuffing?"
"Well, yes, now that he's stopped lying about it."
"I see. So he fooled you before?"
"Oh, absolutely. Who'd have thought little Elton was a butt-stuffer?"
"Mrs. Kensington, you're polluting the gene pool."
"How lovely of you to say so."
On a related topic, I'm overhearing a man and a woman from Central America at the table across the room. I haven't figured out how to write that accent, so just imagine Jamaican with a little Nelson Mandela tinge. The woman begins:
"An' you know that security lady? She is gay."
"She work in security, of course she is gay. How you gonna trust a woman to be good security if she is not a lesbian?"
"How about Lena? She is not gay."
"She does not have to be gay. She will squash you with her big ass. HA HA HA HA!!"
"HA HA HA HA!!"
"But you know, she been stuck up since she got back from vacation."
"You know what that is about."
"What? She just go to Germany."
"You met a German man? She go waving her big ass all over Germany in a miniskirt, everybody looking."
"Those German men. They don't care anyway. It got two legs and an ass, they be fucking it."
"So now she think she some kind of gift?"
"She think she everybody's gift, an' she gonna let you know about it."
"I find a gift like that under my tree, I be sendin' it back up the chimney! HA HA HA HA!!"
"HA HA HA HA!!"
Couple of tables over, two big crewy-looking guys are eating chili:
"So they catch that Saddam guy yet?"
"Nah. Blew up his house or somethin'."
"Bush. What a fuckin' jackoff."
"Couldn't stand that Gore guy, though."
"Whattya gonna do?"
"Hey, you eat this chili before?"
"Nah. Usually eat at the cart across the street."
"Tastes like it's got fingers in it or somethin'."
"What, you didn't order it 'without fingers'?"
"Get outta here."
"Comes with 'em, y'know."
"See the Mets game?"
"You kiddin'? My wife's ready to bend over for Piazza."
"Yeah? He know that?"
"He don't know shit."
"He's leaving, she know that?"
"She tells me if he leaves, that's the last straw. She's gonna have to switch."
"Fuck the Yankees. She'd rather die. I dunno, maybe the Cubs."
"Get outta here."
"Beats Jeter, anyway."
Just had a showdown with the cafeteria cashier about my Sacajawea dollars. What is it about cashiers and those things? That crazy Korean lady near my old Dallas job would freak when you tried to give her one. Or she'd take it, then wait till you needed change a few days later & give it back to you, laughing evilly.
I've been a cashier, and I don't find that dollar coins are that much to get worked up about. Not like:
1. The Bottomless Purse Change Hunt.
2. The sweaty dollar bill.
3. Pennies. Damned pennies.
4. "Can I return this video I bought two years ago?"
5. The 99-cent book haggle. It's 99 cents!!
6. "Wait! I forgot something I need on the very back shelf of the store! I'll be right back! Save my place!"
7. "What? You didn't save my place?"
They film one of the big soap operas upstairs, & occasionally I pass a director or story guy. One of 'em nearly clocked me as I came out of the elevator. His hands were flailing in descriptive mania:
"And she should jump out from behind the garage door FIRST!"
The secretary waddles beside him, taking notes.
"And as he looks around, she says, 'I TOLD you to keep the garage door CLOSED!!'"
"And as she raises the knife, he looks deeply into her eyes and says, 'What happened to us? Oh, Lindsay, what? I still love you!"
"And she stops, with her hand frozen in the air. Her grip relaxes and she drops the knife..."
Scribble, bump into people getting off the elevator, scribble, scribble...
"He grasps her arm, gently but firmly, and pulls her in for a kiss. She struggles, but finally gives in..."
Good Pete. Rip some more bodices, why don't you? What kills me is how he can still get excited after writing this scene probably 80 times. Maybe he's the new guy, fresh off the Harlequin treadmill.
How do I get that gig? I can write that scene, too. Except I'd throw in a wizard. Okay, maybe that's why I don't have that gig. Still, a wizard or two would spice up daytime TV. Or a giant robot...
11-21-03, 12:15 PM -
Sittin' in the cafeteria again.
These two gray-suited guys over by the Coke machine are killing me. Every day they discuss the issues of our time with infinite...infinity. I call them Statler & Waldorf. Today:
"You know, my day's not starting off too well."
"My favorite singer's in handcuffs."
(Actually, he posted bail.)
"I know, man, that's like handcuffing Elvis."
(Which I believe they did a few times.)
"Did you know that in the state of California, it's not illegal to sleep in the same bed with a child?"
"Yeah, but you can't...you know."
"Sure, there's gray area. Of course, the thing with Jackson is that he doesn't believe in gray area."
"It's all 'Black & White'."
"'Ebony & Ivory'."
"That's Stevie Wonder."
"Hey, here's a question. Who do you think will win the 2004 election? Bush or the terrorists?"
"Oh, did I say that wrong?"
"Hey, I was thinking: When was the last time a democratic country attacked another democratic country?"
"Mmm. Dunno. Argentina? The Falkland thing?"
"I don't think Argentina was a democracy at the time."
"No. Guess not."
"My theory is that two countries with a McDonald's cannot go to war with each other."
"Makes you think."
"Hey, what about people who say 'No comment'?"
"What about 'em?"
"I mean, how many politicians have said..."
"...'No comment' before?"
"'To quote Abraham Lincoln...'"
These guys are killing me.
6:30 PM -
Oh yeah, forgot to tell you about the Letterman thing. It was fun. Much better organization than Conan's show, which we saw a couple of years ago. Three hours in an overheated hallway and one hour in a cold studio was what that was. This time, the CBS people lined us up, gave us our official numbered tickets, and sent us away till it was time to start. See, that's how you do it.
Since it's in our neighborhood, we knew where to get some cheap vittles & drink a beer before going. Nothing better than being drunk with Dave. Showed up, they sat us down waaay over to the right, by the crazy red-haired announcer guy, & they kicked the thing into gear pretty much immediately.
Dave came out before the show started, just to yak a bit & warm us up. Then bammo, the show started & we got to meet Private Jessica Lynch. A bit surreal, that. Got no grievance against her at all, but all the political machinery surrounding that business gets me looking under my bed for monsters. She herself was very sweet, though, & seems to be trying to unravel some of the government's tall tales about her, which I respect a lot.
Then we got to hear Shelby Lynne, which was cool. Great voice, lots of rootsy instrumentation. I remember a few years ago when she got the Best New Artist award on one of those crapulent awards shows, even though she was on her 10th album or something. What the hell's the matter with people?
I, of course, spent a good deal of the show trying to re-imagine the place 'round about Ed Sullivan's time, when The Fucking Beatles played their famous 1964 gig there & blew the minds of Americans for years to come.
But alas, the juxtaposition didn't work, due at least in part to the fact that I kept catching glimpses of Biff Henderson behind the scenes. He's my favorite Late Show personality. Good ol' Biff. Nice to see that he actually does some work around there.
Anyway, the show ended & we got hustled out. Alas, no opportunities to slip Dave or Paul a disc. Belatedly, the Wifely suggested that I could've left one in my seat for someone to find, but that probably wouldn't have worked anyway. Which isn't to say that I won't try it next time. I say "next time" because from here on out, I'm going to take every opportunity to walk by the theater on my way home. You never know. Apparently.
11-24-03, 12:47 PM -
Cafeteria time. Lots of styrofoam plates & ruffled copies of the Daily News. Don't get me started on the Daily News. It's interesting that this city offers both the best and the worst of print journalism.
I mean, I grew up reading the Weatherford Democrat, where a prize watermelon got front page status and the masthead could read "Spetember" for weeks before anyone noticed. But the Daily News...
A helpful hint for all morons who pick up the Rag To End All Rags: Headlines with exclamation points are a sure tip-off that you're not getting good information.
I told you not to get me started.
11-26-03, 12:30 PM -
You guessed it.
Today we're having Italian sausage & teriyaki chicken. Mmm, Thanksgivingy.
So last night I'm on the train after work. An old man gets off at the stop before mine, & I catch a glimpse of the advertisement he's been standing in front of: Guitar Center's Manhattan Grand Opening.
I went past my stop. I went past the next stop. I took that train to 14th Street, where right off of Union Square stood the ultimate musician's porno shop.
After living here for a while & being subjected to the surly shittiness that is Sam Ash, I am grateful now that I grew up near a town with a Guitar Center. Sure, the salesmen hound you like carnies & charge you half your rent for any repairs, but damned if they don't have the greatest selection in Petedom. I wasn't in the door 30 seconds before I was cradling the sweetest blue-black hollowbody I ever saw & wishing for $500 unspoken-for dollars.
Which, of course, is the problem with Guitar Center. You touch, you ogle, and pretty soon you're all worked up & have to be alone for a while. They do suck for little stuff, though, so I'll probably keep buying my strings & such from Manny's.
Manny's is a comfy little shop, rather reminiscent of Craig's back in Weatherford. It's easy to go in, chat a bit with the staff, buy your crap & get out. Guitar Center is a bit more like Disneyland, with bag checks & big displays & amps the size of your car. Totally impractical for the average working musician, but shitloads of fun.
And of course, if anyone's got $500 they don't have a use for, kindly note the mailing address on my Contact page.
11-29-03, 12:49 AM -
Got the post-Thanksgiving layabouts. Leftover tryptophan, maybe. Maybe just Lazy Bastardism.
The Wifely & I ate a fine Thanksgiving turkey dinner over at my friend Arthur's place last night. There were four musicians and four non-musicians present, so when the geeking out went down, there was somewhere for everyone else to run for air.
It never fails. You get two or more musicians in a room, and at some point, the minutiae will surface.
"You know, if Page had used a lighter gauge of string, the guitar on Trampled Underfoot wouldn't have been fighting with the mid in the keyboards..."
"Keeping in mind that Hendrix was known for heavy gauges..."
"Yes, yes, quite, quite..."
And it's usually my dumb ass that starts this shit. It's just not every day that someone wants to hear my thoughts on David Gilmour's amp settings. AND have thoughts of their own on that very subject.
See, people think that musicians have all of this interesting stuff in our heads, but in reality we're a bit like stamp collectors. We'll analyze that 4-bar passage till we find that Mellotron voicing we've been looking for, and we don't care who runs off and leaves us alone to rot in front of our consoles in our 3-day-old clothes. Or maybe that's just me.
Anyway, the turkey was moist & tender and the other dishes were scrumptious, and we had a grand old time. Arthur introduced us to Slivovitz, which may or may not be distilled from Satan's own jism. Damn, but that's some throat-peeling firewater. Bloody Serbians.
My friend Paul's wife is Serbian, so I'll have to ask her if it's actually something that Serbians drink or just one of those jokes on Americans like golf or curling. I have no doubt that the Scots regularly gather 'round and have a good laugh at the Yanks squeegieing the rock across the ice.
"Aye, who'd 'a thought they'd believe old Angus when he told 'em that one?"
"Let's come up wi' another! I know: Sheepsy! Ye draw a grid o' squares in a sheep's pen, & bet on where the shite will come doon!"
"Ach, it's too late! They a'ready done tha' with cows!"
Went to see Elf today, & enjoyed it thoroughly. Yeah, it's fluffy, but Favreau knows it, & just has fun. The whole thing's basically about watching Will Ferrell be a freak, which we discovered when we were trying to amuse ourselves quoting it on the way home. There really are no quotes, just fucking hilarious situations & facial expressions. It's the kind of thing that would've been really awful if Rob Schneider had done it.
Received a few more reviews & sent a shitload of radio copies out, so we shall see.
For all of you who reside in the Fort Worth/Dallas area, you'll be pleased to know that on Saturday, December 27th, the matthew show will be rocking out at the Wreck Room at 3208 West 7th Street in Fort Worth. I'm in town for family Christmas festivities, so I figured I'd do a show for you hometown folks. Bring your friends, bring your beer money, bring your own maple syrup, & we'll have fun.
New York folks, don't fear, there are shows in the works. Just gotta get these here holidays over with.
Which reminds me, we attended the big Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday morning. It passes three blocks from our apartment, so we figured what the hell. Quite fun, actually. Lots of high school marching bands, which of course I dig.
Funny thing, though, you see a lot more of the raggedy patches & blotches on the floats than you do on TV. But you don't have to listen to Matt & Katie. That's worth standing in the cold for, I'll tell you what.
Okay, now for sleep. A rare commodity these days. Keep away from that Slivovitz now, y'hear?
(no, I don't know what it means, either)