Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ode to Monday(?!)

A partly sunny Sunday. Back to work tomorrow. Probably a busy week ahead, given the time of year and end-of-quarter and all that. Many more Mondays to serve between now and when-I-get-to-quit-doing-this, but at least Mondays now are quiet. I come in, fire up the computer, get coffee, say good morning to a few people and off I go.
Though like most folks in their 50's who've worked for at least the past 20 years, I look forward to being able to retire at some not-too-distant point, I try not to think about how many more Mondays still await.

Well okay, 288, give or take a few. Taken all at once, an appalling number. If it were M & Ms, you'd probably have the trots. So, best to narrow one's vision as best one can, and knock 'em back one at a time. That day will come eventually when you're on your last Monday and can cash in your chips.

For now I have some Sunday left to enjoy, partly cloudy or not, before tackling Monday # T-288. It'll be here soon enough, but then come 4:30 in the pm, I'll have one less of them to plow through. But I must say here, even though I've been doing them for some time now, I'm still glad to have someplace to go on Monday morning. Keep 'em coming. At least 288 more anyway.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pondering Porn

When I was a kid of course, it was Playboy. Just about everybody had a friend who had an older brother, and that was usually your source, your "connection". "I feel like a pusher", said my friend's older brother- who was also yes, my Porn connection at 13, smuggling me copies of Cavalier and some mag names I don't recall but still filled with buxom babes. About that age or a little beyond, my Dad had a nice comment on all that. "Gee I'd probably buy Playboy, but that'd spoil the fun of you guys sneaking 'em in the house".
That's the age--about eleven, twelve, thirteen--when your hormones kick in and you discover a whole world out there you never knew existed. As well as a whole world inside your own body. Playboy and Cavalier and other such mags become holy relics with the sublime babes within their pages(which, yes, soon get stuck together)spreading their--wisdom for seekers of all ages. Prepubescence is the magic of Santa Claus and other fabled characters, and postpubescence is the magic of Christy Canyon(fabled porn actress)and other such delightful creatures.
All well and good. If your son is about this age, no doubt he's starting to notice these things. Only instead of a stack of magazines under the bed, now it's a handful of sites Mom finds on the computer. Sites with names like " Busty College Girls" and "Subway Sluts".
I've known some Moms to freak on this stuff. A couple things could be said here. One, it's a perfectly natural thing at his age, and in this day and age the visual stimuli(aka porn)is found more in cyber than pulp form. Two, even in the magazine age, there were mags every bit as raunchy as what you'll find online. And finally, it could be a lot worse as far as what he's checking out. Just imagine finding something like "Bound for Pleasure". Or "Hot Cock".

Whatever your age, internet porn is something just about every guy has checked out. A friend of mine once stated that when you first get a computer you spend the whole first month looking at pornography(hmm instead of a computer, you could almost call it a pornograph--okay, sorry), and it was certainly true of me.

As far as their effect on our civilization, there have been three milestones: 1)The Invention of the Wheel; 2)the Quarter video games like Space Invaders; 3)Internet Porn. I've said it before and I'll say it again. A boner and a credit card is a most dangerous combination--a veritable Molotov Cocktail(no pun intended)in terms of its repercussions.

Fortunately, your average kid, in terms of that most dangerous of combinations, has the former but not the latter, so no real damage can be done. Actually it's us grownups who can wreak the real havoc as far as that goes, just like the 900 phone numbers. But there are of course the free sites(one of which my then-17-year-old nephew turned me on to !)you can check out without Mom or Dad's credit card.

Every age has its particular challenges, but in that way it would be cool to be a kid in 2008. You have a wealth of things to view, much more than I as a 12-year-old checking out a centerfold in Cavalier. Just as long as you remember to delete the History before you log off the computer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Fine Art of Sobriquet

I've got this friend. Dave. Dave, among his other talents, has an absolute genius for nicknaming folks. I'd never want Dave really angry with me, for fear I'd get one of his zingers. Contrary to the old saying, they hurt far worse than sticks and stones.I'd rather be body-slammed than endure the devastation of a Dave Special Nickname..

Some years back, Dave and I played in a band where we actually had a crew of folks who did the setup and tear-down as far as the equipment. I think they were called "roadies". One of these guys Dave nicknamed "Ten-Watt", since he appeared to have about ten watts of brain power. (The time he ran over all the mike stands while backing up the truck is coming back to me here as a prime example).

Strangely enough, the average human brain is supposed to have about 20 watts worth of electrical energy, so this is more apt even than Dave intended it to be. But TenWatt did live up to his name. He even had folks wondering, after a brief conversation with him, if "Ten Watt" wasn't a generous estimate..

And then, from that same era, there was "brain dead". There were a couple girls who used to come hear us play at various local venues, not without burning one in the car on the way there. One of them would stare into space while we played, as if she were--right.."So, Ada and Brain Dead came to the gig last Friday". Fortunately, she thought the nickname was funny too. Then again, when you're that stoned, damn near anything is funny..

About half the time, people don't like their nicknames. Ten Watt sure didn't- well, once it was explained to him. Around Junior High School time, there was a kid I knew who was nicknamed Duck- for his apparently ducklike features. The people who gave him that name didn't tell him at first, and would make jokes about 'duck' in his presence. And he'd join in, thinking it was somebody else!

Well, those folks have certainly added some Nickname Karma to their future lives. Maybe I have too for laughing at the whole situation.

I might not have Dave's genius for sobriquet, but I have been a nicknamer of persons myself. Most of mine are internal. That is, they tend to stay between my ears and rarely come out of my mouth. They just kinda occur to me. I just flash on something they say or do, and bing! out comes a new nickname. Here are a couple, from people I used to work with:

Tough actin' Tinactin. A petite(but stocky)female who had a kick-your-ass exterior, strictly a defense mechanism but this was her 'aura' for awhile. She found this nickname funny, saw the good humor in it.

Chris Pissedofferson. Intense at times, thus the nickname. Not without a sense of humor though and would probably find this nickname amusing .

Mr. Sourball. One of our long-time supervisors at a particular office I worked in. A very grumpy demeanor much of the time(there was once in a meeting when he fell on the floor and I thought he was having a heart attack because I'd never seen the man laugh!)but actually a very nice person underneath it all. I once told him his nickname, and he said "that will be noted"..

Snootypants. Yeahhhh, let's just let this one lie there.

Toxic Mrs Doubtfire. Ditto.

I feel very fortunate in life to have gone this long--and at this point I feel like I'm okay from here--without ever having any kind of permanent nickname stuck on my ass. There have been a few(and I'm certainly not telling your ass what they are!), but they've faded into nothing like a kid's tattoo.

Or maybe, like that "duck" guy, there's been one going all along, and no one's told me. For all I know, people could've been making jokes about "him" in front of me all this time. And with me joining in!


Sunday, September 21, 2008

In My Happy Place

Well if we were felines instead of humans I guess we'd purr when we're comfortable, when everything feels right. Lacking that anatomical function, we just sigh with contentment. Purrbox or not, we're in The Zone..

Strangely enough one's "Zone" seems to vary with the situation. At least mine does. At the Dentist's office, it's that spot on the ceiling. I find it and at least to an extent forget all about my teeth being drilled or scraped. At my daygig, it's fresh coffee and National Public Radio( particularly the classical music), and enough work to keep me busy until 4:30.

Actually, both these 'zonages' are similar in that they're both an exercise in focusing one's mind away from the situation at hand. Without the ceiling's point, the Dentist's office visit would be at the least uncomfortable and at the most a royal pain in the bicuspids. Likewise, the classical music fills the office void at work , provides a "sound bubble" I can work within.

As long as I can get in my "happy place", I can handle--well, at least two situations. The Dentist's office is a relatively painless experience, and the workday zips by before I know it.

When I'm not at work(or for that matter the Dentist's office)I'm a semi-working musician. I play guitar, both freelance and with my own group- a guitar bass & drums trio. It's all fun, particularly the trio gigs, of which we had one this past Friday. We had some very nice moments on this last gig, which definitely put us in the "happy place".

Funny thing though. It's a completely different kind of happy place. When you're playing music, the "happy place" is arrived at through everyone playing TOGETHER and thus directing their energies not at a ceiling point or radio show(which of course begs the question, 'why the %%$ is the radio on in the first place?!)but right into the music. You get to this happy place by being all the more present.

Yep. The real happy place is from something you love doing so much you lose yourself in the doing. Thank goodness though that we can build ourselves temporary structures like our radio shows and that spot on the ceiling to get us through the stuff we don't love doing.

Of course then you could say, 'well you should approach every task in your life as something you love doing, and therefore always be in a happy place'. Then I'd say, 'sounds good on paper, but unfortunately some things in life still don't quite give you an erection(or the female equivalent) no matter what'. I'll take my NPR radio shows and Sudoku puzzles and whatever else gets me through the day(whether or not tooth-drilling or cleaning is also scheduled)until I can pick up the guitar again..

Then again, this is spoken from the perspective of someone who spends the bulk of his time working in an office, thus guitar playing never loses its novelty. If you play music full-time, it most definitely becomes a job. I know of one piano player who was spotted reading a book while playing a gig! Guess they were finding their "spot" somewhere on the page...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More on Human Services

I'm not going to tell you where I work. If I did, I'd have to kill you.

Well okay, it's not top secret, my place of employ, but I still choose, nonetheless, not to tell you . Though from this last blog you could gather(and perhaps not incorrectly so)that it's in the human services. Do you remember on the Flintstones where Fred worked for Slate Construction Company but Barney had an unspecified occupation and workplace? Okay, that's where I work. Same place as Barney.

So yes, in the human services, public or private sectors, you do endeavor to help socio-economically disadvantaged folks. Low-income, often uneducated people whom, among their other troubles, sometimes give their kids names like Gumdrop or Tree Wheezle. These amuse some of the staff(well, okay, me), and along with paid vacation, constitutes one of the "perks" of the job. . But we laugh, not so much at them(well okay maybe a little)as at the tragedy of such great ignorance. We laugh to keep from crying.

One other thing you notice working a job in human services is that you have your one-time visitors and your million-time visitors. Those folks you see over and over. And over. And over(aaugh!)To borrow Fred and Barney again for a minute(particularly since Barney and I work at the same place-- let's say, Xenocorp. actually scratch that--it sounds more Jetsons), working a job in human services is like perambulating through a Flintstones cartoon in that you see the same scenery over and over and over again.The same people, in the same pickle again and again. Depending on the length of time they'd been working with us, we called them our Gold or Platinum members. A dubious distinction, but still some notice..

Like most any sizeable body of people, there are some among our precious metal memberships we're fond of personally.Good folks who are for whatever reason just stuck behind that 8-ball. And some we loathe- this exacerbated by the fact that they've come in over and over and over. The new employees usually get to deal with them, ones who don't yet know better. They come back cussing us out, but then there's always that next newbie.

I don't know where I was going with all this, but it's a little bit about what it's like to work at - Paleocorp(sounds a little more Flintstones, eh what?). Not always a yabbadabbado experience, but at least you ease human suffering in some way in what you do. And they always need people to work in those places. (Gee I wonder why?)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Age of Jquarius

It's not anything new. Back in the late 70's my college roommate told me about an experience he'd had in High School-which, for him would've been the late 60's. In the morning over the PA system they'd announce the names of the kids in trouble that day, one of which was one Clorox Johnson.

Clorox Johnson. Jesus. And she probably had a brother Oxydol.
In the course of my day I see names like this all the time. What still cracks me up as well as those names-derived-from-household-items are the Roman-sounding ones, like Quintavius. Or Chittorion. Names that sound like the parents got drunk and screwed to Spartacus on the TV.

Then of course there's the hillbilly component. Names like Pistol. Or Ainjul. Just like their Aunt Bambi, these kids will probably not be teaching Philosophy or Epistemology in later life. Some names just seem to destine one for greatness. How do you spell hillbilly? A-I-N-J-U-L.
Well actually I guess an Ainjul as such would be a kind of hillbilly deity. An Ainjul of Cryst.

Okay sorry for that one. Ainjul, in the phog of phonetics, at least sounds like Angel, and thus will not bring laughs when announced at High School graduation. (Yes, providing he/she makes it that far). Ainjul and her brother Pistol. And her other brother Jquarius.

I've imagined a Parallel Universe if you will, a working unit not dissimilar to the one I'm engaged in, only the names have changed 180 degrees or so: "What amuses you so, Quintavius?" "Oh, Xoxxcarrion, some of the names in these records are so funny!" "What have you there?" "BARRY!" Riotous laughter ensues..

But actually it's right around the corner! All I can say is that the next generation seems to have the funniest names yet. At least to my admittedly whitebread tastes. Well, funny and sad at the same time, comic and tragic.

My old college roommate back in Baltimore once commented, as we drove through one of Ballmerr's seamier slum neighborhoods, that "there are people here who don't know who the President is!"And it's that level of ignorance that gives kids names like Quiznozz and Yerktokk, and thus douses them with ghetto or hillbilly cologne, making it that much more difficult to lose the cultural 'scent'.

Truly, we're living in the Age of Jquarius..

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Isoscoles macaroni

Well you probably think I'm nuts already, at least partially off my noodle(hm, strangely appropriate here..)so I'm sure this will confirm any opinions thereof you may have already had. But it goes like this:

I had this dream, back in college days(1978 or 79), that I'm having dinner at Ralph Nader's house. Just your basic middle-class house. Dinner is cooking and he's giving a lecture in the living room. I don't remember whether or not there were other people in the audience but it kinda seems so.

So dinner is cooking and he's lecturing away. "We must view reality without bias", he's saying, and draws a nine-point star on the blackboard. Within it he places various philosophical problems/issues, and "solves" them much like a Geometry proof.

At this point the phone rings. I pick it up and answer. "Hello?" "What's for dinner?" I'm asked. "Isoscoles macaroni" is my reply. I remember feeling in my dream like that was kind of a witty retort.

And there you have it. My isoscoles macaroni dream. A friend of my brother's thought I should make that into a song or album title. He said it would definitely stick with people as far as catchiness since it's something your conscious mind could never put together- exploring the geometric aspects- no, properties of macaroni. Taking these two most disparate entities and makin' 'em buds.

Isoscoles macaroni. Coming soon to a dream theatre near you.

Czar for a Day

I think I'm just plain gonna start putting my "weirder" thoughts in here and try and keep my News page at somewhere within our Solar System.

But if I were CZAR OF THE WORLD, for even a day, there are a few things I would implement. Ahh at last- to Rule!

Actually, General Zod I ain't. I have my share of weird underpinnings, but megalomania isn't among them. No, if nominated I will not run; if elected I will not serve. Still, though, there are a few things I'd do to make this world a better place. At least for me...

For starters, marijuana, hashish and prostitution would all be legal. Taxed but legal. Also free healthcare while we're at it. I'd also legalize same-sex marriage. What the hell- gay people should have every right to be just as miserable as straight people in their relationships. (That was a line from a movie, can't remember which one but a good line I thought.)

Turning now to the entertainment industry, there would be a few changes made. Except for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, all TV Game Shows would be taken off the air, and likewise reality shows like Big Brother and Survivor, and general yahooshit like American Idol and America's Got Talent.

Cop shows, Doctor shows and Sitcoms would be allowed to continue, provided they're better-written. There would be one Cable channel devoted 24 hours per day to old Twilight Zone episodes, and another offering nothing but Spongebob cartoons. Of course Warner Bros and Jay Ward Productions(the folks who brought us Bullwinkle)have to figure in here someplace.

Musicians would all be subsidized through the federal government, and with all the benefits(health, retirement etc)of any other federal employee. Due to their Union Contract, they could not be discharged from their positions, but would still be subject to disciplinary action up to and including selling shoes-- in a Shopping Mall to be determined by the Sentencing Council.

As Czar of the World, I'd of course have my own string of clubs and concert auditoriums and would be able to go into any of them whenever I wanted and play with whoever was playing. Regardless of whatever the band might've had in mind to play that night. Hey man, I'm the fucking Czar, right?

Right. Well it gets more complicated from there. I mean, besides the free healthcare, legal marrige, legal prostitution and legal pot & hash(all the other stuff would still be illegal as far as I'm concerned, especially Meth), I'd want to do something for folks out there. A few more ideas I'm working out. One is a tax break for attractive, large-breasted women for marrying(or at least servicing)short men.

Crazy thoughts perhaps. But that's what I'd do with the 24-hour Scepter, were I --CZAR FOR A DAY.

Meatroaf Runch

I have in fact enjoyed this delicacy for two days running now as my noontime meal. Due to the somewhat extended microwave time(4 minutes, then 5 and a half minutes at 50% power--almost 10 minutes total!))it doesn't work well during the normal workweek, what with scrambling to feed two other animals here in the house and check the computer- all within the allotted lunch hour. But as a vacation mid-day meal, you can't beat it.

Meatloaf is definitely a meal to be had when you have just a bit more leisure time on your hands.