12-2-03, 12:07 PM -
There are few things more hilarious than native New Yorkers talking about visiting the country. Some of them take to it well, but those tend to be the ones who for some reason or another are fed up with the city. The rest, who are comfortable here and have never known anywhere else, are terrified of country life.
I mention this because it's the chief topic of conversation here in the company cafeteria. This past weekend, it seems a good 75% of these folks visited relatives who had moved out to the boondocks, either in upstate New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or elsewhere. Which, to me, really isn't the country.
Sure, there's plenty of open space & farmland in New England, but you're still mere hours from several booming metropoli. I hesitate even to call Weatherford "the country" anymore, as it folds ever further into the Dallas/Fort Worth megalopolis.
The country, to me, is somewhere like Woodson or Bugscuffle or Eolian, where roads aren't always named and you never know when a cow may be blocking your mile-long driveway. THAT'S the country.
But you take these people who've been living on top of each other for decades and you put them in a rural sub-division, and you'd think they were stranded on Gilligan's Island.
"An' I wake up in the morning...where do you get coffee? I gotta drive clear into town to some gas station..."
"People sit on the porch...what the hell is there to see out there? Nothing's gonna happen..."
"Where are the cops? I could be beaten senseless, it would be years before anyone noticed..."
"And the poor kids! Who the hell do they play with? The neighbors are half a mile down the street!"
It's killing me.
Uh-oh, Statler & Waldorf, 2 o'clock.
"Did you hear the bad news?"
"Crime's down, economy's up."
"This is bad?"
"For me it is. Two Republican mayors in a row & everything starts working. How am I supposed to be a Democrat?"
"And yet I still hate Bloomberg."
Actually, I don't mind ol' Mikey. I'm not on board with all of his policies, to be sure, but I like the fact that he doesn't seem to care what people think. Of course, by that logic, I should like Bush The Younger. But Bloomberg's about a million times smarter than the Shrub.
Good lord, now Statler's explaining Dilbert.
"See now, this boss doesn't have a name, he's just known as..."
"...the pointy-haired boss."
"...right, and here's Wally. See Wally?"
"Yeah, I see Wally."
"Well, he's kinda the do-nothing character. And then there's Catbert..."
"...right, Ratbert, and the dog. Who I think is..."
Somebody get me the hell outta here.
12-9-03, 1:11 PM -
Bleah. Just kinda bleah this week.
Been addled with the zombie snot-n-headache crapulum for a solid week, and though it's gotten better, it hasn't gone away. But I refuse to get a flu shot. I have seldom been sicker in my life than when I got a flu shot in 1998. Laid around hallucinating & snorting forth great goopballs for a damn week. Screw that with a ribbed back-scratcher.
It didn't really help that our first snow of the season decided to be a blizzard. Stupid me, I had put off going to the meat market until Friday night, when of course the angry old man swept into town, blowing snow into my eyes & caking the sidewalks with icy sludge that cheap black dress shoes were never meant to traverse.
There's a particular kind of exhaustion one gets from walking long distances while trying not to bust one's ass. It apparently uses muscles that don't get any use otherwise, because even weeks of Tae Bo didn't raise the number of complaints my pain centers were receiving when I got home.
12-15-03, 12:25 PM -
Guess I should send this letter off before I head for the big Texas Christmas festivities.
Been getting reviewed like crazy lately. Go check out the Reviews page if you want the latest.
Weird week. Snowed twice, rained once, & the wind has decided once & for all that it wants me dead. It's getting me used to walking with a forward lean, so one day it can suddenly stop blowing and I can fall on my face. That's after the frostbite eats through my cheeks and makes me look like Darkman.
It was on such a rainy & windy night that I made my way down to the Kinko's on Columbus Circle. I had to get 50 copies of my Wreck Room flyer made so I could mail them down south, and to get the best quality I had it in PDF form on disc. Kinko's prints off of those, I know for a fact.
I had a bad feeling about the place the minute I walked in. A ragged mop in a dingy flannel shirt was rooting through a garbage bag just inside the door & muttering something that sounded like, "Jesus said to go home. He said to go home. I'm not going home until Jesus tells me to go home."
A seemingly deaf woman was ramming a credit card repeatedly into a copier's card slot, kicking the machine and making loud guttural noises every time it spat the card back out.
A shag-haired man in a wrinkled linen suit stood at the counter, arguing that he shouldn't be charged computer time for plugging his laptop in. He was arguing this to a glassy-eyed clerk who could not in any way be in charge of company policy.
Against the nervous twittering of my spidey-sense, I decided to stay. I had already trudged through the slop to get there, so I might as well get my business done.
Pulling up to the counter as Mr. Shag Suit harrumphed himself over to the computer stations, I hailed the clerk, who stared at the floor & croaked, "Can I help you?"
"Yeah, I need to get 50 copies of the PDF that's on this disc."
He doesn't look up.
"Hmm." he offers.
"Problem?" I ask.
No answer. He picks the disc out of my hand and inspects it as one might an old cookie found on the floor.
"You do print from PDFs?"
"So can I get 50 copies?"
From over in the self-service area, Fran Drescher shouts, "This thing's eating my paper! Somebody help me!"
Without looking in her direction, Clerkboy puts down my disc and proceeds to shuffle off in her direction.
I spot another clerk behind a pillar and wave to him.
"Hey, can you help me out here?"
The clerk scoots further behind the pillar and points to Clerkboy, who is staring at the self-service copier as if it were made out of maggots. The special extra-white Fear Factor maggots.
At this point, an intelligent man would leave the store and take his business elsewhere.
A good five minutes later, after having probed the offending copier and cleared the jam, Clerkboy returns to the counter. He picks up my disc again and stares at the floor.
"You want what, now?"
"Fifty copies of that PDF."
Silence. Then, "Hmm."
"Is there a problem?"
"Umm...I don't know."
"You don't know."
"Maybe not 50."
Huh? "Why not 50?"
"I don't know if I can do 50."
"I don't know."
"Can you do ANY?"
He scratched his head. "Yeah, probably."
"So if you can do ONE, why can't you..."
The deaf woman rams her tiny frame into the counter next to me. She's making loud noises and waving a copy of something tax-formish in Clerkboy's face. He takes it, stares at the floor, and shuffles into the back room.
At this point, an intelligent man would deduce that this was not a good time to be doing business at the Columbus Circle Kinko's, and would quietly make his escape.
Five minutes go by. The pillar-hiding cleark pokes his head out, getting a chorus of shouts from the deaf woman, Fran, & Mr. Shag Suit. The clerk retreats.
"Excuse me!" I call.
From behind the pillar, a finger appears and points to the back room.
"Thanks!" I yell. "Thanks so much for your service!"
And yet I stay.
Repeat. Rinse. Wax.
Half an hour later, I stomp out with 50 copies, a headache, and a twitch in my right eye.
Lesson: Don't go to the Kinko's on Columbus Circle.
Oh, and for those keeping score:
12-17-03, 9:31 AM -
Last day here at the big network operation. Missed the company Christmas party, but only because I had accepted an invitation to ANOTHER company Christmas party, that of XYZ Business Credit.
I must admit I've given them a bit of a bad rap at times in these pages, but now I find that they're actually all decent people who just have very different lifestyles than mine. And they got me to do something I swore I'd never stoop to: Karaoke.
The bane of the professional musician is the karaoke bar. On the one hand, you can out-sing most of the other patrons. On the other hand, you get asked to come up and sing WITH the other patrons on some of the crappiest tunery ever to issue from the airwaves. So I've spent a good deal of time over the years coming up with reasons why I can't go to karaoke bars with co-workers.
However, this time they snuck up on me. This was not a karaoke bar, but an Irish pub. Looked safe enough. I was not aware of the presence of the Demon Box until I had already arrived and got started on a beer.
As soon as I sat down with my standard armload of hors d'ouvres, I spotted it. The accursed devilment sat lurking in the corner, its blue screen casting an ominous glow over the unsuspecting crowd.
My friend Jake, a writer who I met at XYZ, caught my gaze as I eyed the evil contraption.
"Dude, they put me in charge of the entertainment."
"I know. But I'm supposed to get the crowd going later, and I don't think anyone's gonna want to get up first..."
"Look, they've got a few Lyle Lovett songs on there. Can you start it off with one of those?"
Judas. Fucking Judas.
"It'll be great. Then everyone will loosen up."
What he didn't tell me was that before I went on, he was going to completely upstage me with a New Yorkled rewrite of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas that kicked all sorts of ass, thereby robbing me of Sole Professional In Attendance status.
But no matter. When called, I switched on my School Talent Show circuits and knocked out She's No Lady with no droppage, due mostly to the fact that I've logged millions of hours singing along to Lyle Lovett records. The crowd dug it, and I got a little happy. Then I had another beer.
A succession of good-to-unspeakable performances followed, and I had a few more beverages. I've worked with a lot of bankers in my life, and they have definitely earned their reputation for no-frills stoicism. They have to say very hurtful things to very nice people for purely numeric reasons, and that lifestyle doesn't attract devil-may-care party people. But alcohol is the great equalizer, and everyone can find their inner Elvis if enough layers are peeled back.
Okay, most people. I still had to keep them from clapping on the 1 and 3 (yes, most of those present were white), but about the time we all couldn't remember how many beers we'd had, the rock began to drop.
The moment of transformation came when one of the big VPs jumped his balding ass up on stage & began to belt out Blink 182's What's My Age Again? with uncharacteristic gusto. From then on we had entered the land of Sinatra duets, Funky Cold Medina, and disco infernos.
And yes, I participated. And no, I won't tell you on what songs. Except to say that singing about Joan Jett picking up guys is kinda weird, even if you are a metrosexual.
12-18-03, 10:51 AM -
Okay, gotta clear out. Caught a bit of news about the Dru Sjodin thing. Anyone but me notice that the only missing students that ever make national news are pretty & white? It's like saying to the mothers of the hundreds of missing milk-carton kids, "Yes, yes, but this is one of the PRETTY children. You go look in the crack dens for yours."
Sorry, digression. Like I said, gotta clear out. See you Texas folks soon. Bring your rokken pants, and leave that karaoke machine at home.