Saturday, March 07, 2009

Submitted for your Approval

One thing I did for myself over this vacation was treat myself to the complete Twilight Zone. All 5 seasons on DVD. Can't wait to get it in the mail.

Man I love that show! It was on from 1959 to 1964, and being between 5 and 10 years old at that time, I wasn't in a position to enjoy their original airings, but did catch--and fully appreciate--the shows in all their beauty some 10 years later.

Our world was quite a different place(or at least a different-looking one)back in '59-64. You had the Cold War, McCarthyism, cool jazz, the beginning of the Space Age, and the very beginnings of the "hippie" revolution which would happen of course full-fledged later in the 60's. All these things found their way into the Twilight Zone's episodes, in one way or another.

Creator Rod Serling lamented the pressure from network censors as far as being able to make reference to the political climate of the time(remember, this was the era of Senator Joseph McCarthy!), but I think this served as a blessing in disguise. It would've dated, and thus seriously devalued, the show.

What makes a show like this endure--and for a half-century and counting-- is not its reflection of the times in which it was made, but rather its transcendence of them. The most effective Twilight Zone episodes, the ones people still talk about 50 years later, were the "morality plays" which dealt in universal human themes, questions which plague every age of man. From the Stone Age to the Space Age, and then some..

There were a goodly number of episodes about space exploration, but they pretty much left me cold. Too rooted in the '60s and that said, their flying saucers are pretty comical by today's standards. Might as well have everybody wearing Nehru jackets..

The shows dealing with extraterrestial life were way cool though, especially of the "aliens among us" variety. My favorite is the one where the Martian lands his ship near a Diner and makes his way in along with 6 other folks getting off a bus(thus becoming a mystery as well as science fiction thriller). I won't spoil the ending for you if you haven't seen it, but it's highly recommended viewing.

Another favorite is the one with Telly Savalas, entitled "Living Doll". He plays a grouchy guy whose stepdaughter brings home an expensive doll from the store. Talky Tina is the doll's name. To everyone else she just says, My name is Talky Tina and I love you very much. But to crabass stepdad, she has quite a different vocabulary. Things escalate between them until he finally ties a sack around Talky Tina and puts her in a garbage can. He goes back into the house, settles in front of the TV, and the phone rings. He answers it.

The voice on the phone says, My name is Talky Tina and I'm going to kill you.

Fuuuuuuck. Normally I don't use profanity here at Roger U Roundy, but an intense little moment in TV history. Sometimes 'fuuuuuuck' is the only word that'll do.. As my brother told my nephew, in reference to viewing it, "this show will change you".

Looking forward very much to having all the episodes of The Twilight Zone on DVD. I like watching shows "in bulk", and similarly can sit through an entire season of The Sopranos--the only danger there is that I start to talk like the characters on the show after a few hours of viewing. Fugettaboutit!

So in what I hope will be a very short amount of time--a week or so--I'll be the proud owner of 5 years worth of some very well-written, directed and acted stuff. Made while I was still in short pants, but still entertaining to me now as a 50-something-year-old. Nice that some things stand the test of time.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Time On/Time Off

I remember some years back, at work, end of the day, asking a last-minute question of a co-worker. Nothing earth-shattering, but still something I needed clarification on. He was heading out the door, and, not to be interrupted, responded to me simply by pointing at the clock, which was reading five o'clock straight up.

'Nuff said. This co-worker, who is actually himself a bit of a workaholic, was a bit embarrassed later by his terse response , but I thought it was a good and fair answer. Some things can just be handled on the next business day. 5 o'clock is(at least for the most part)5 o'clock.

Indeed, I try to draw as sharp a line as possible myself between worktime and playtime. Leave the office at the office and leave home at home. Things bleed through at both locations, but that's the basic plan.

This has been a week of vacation. As it turns out, a very well- placed week of vacation. It followed a crazy week at work, and precedes what will probably be another crazy week back at work, so not without its therapeutic value, sandwiched in as it is between two nutty workweeks. . Normally the bread goes on the outside of one's "shit sandwich", but still an aid to digestion wherever placed.

So, yeah, due to return to the world of work on Monday morning. Not looking forward to it but not dreading it either. There'll be people I haven't seen in a week--minus one(see earlier blog Week from Work for more on this situation), and Girl Scout cookies waiting for me on my chair(I hope they're still there!), so my return should be a pleasant one.

And from there the clock starts again, as far as moving toward the weekend, toward my next time-off period and then eventually to the next week off, which'll be sometime in June.. I've pretty much got my time on/time off regulated. Every 3 months I take five days off. Earning 12.5 vacation hours a month at this point gives me 37.5 every three months, or a 5-day week. I'm outa here. See ya!

It is a good thing that I've been gainfully employed all this time, but also a chilling thought that it's been over 22 years since I've had any more than two weeks off from work. I could of course take longer vacations, three weeks or even a month(well, if they'd let me!)but I'd have to wait longer to earn the time off, to have it in the books to use.. As wonderful as a 4-week vacation would be, you'd have to wait 11 months every year to take it. No, the best diet for me is the smaller but more frequent meals, the weeks off every 3 months. Retirement will be my longass vacation..

At this point, there are five years and change remaining before this cowboy can hang up his spurs. Pardner, that's a lot of weekends and a daunting amount of these little quarterly week vacations, but I trust they'll keep me going. Until such time when, at the ripe old age of 60 I can finally leave behind my dualistic time-on/time-off existence for a holistically slothful one.

And if anyone should ask me anything work-related on my way out, I'll just point to the calendar. Unless there's a deal between now and then, it'll read 2014.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Severed Head Healthcare

Lay your troubles to rest, put your worries to bed.
Put it all in the hands of Severed Head.

Ikey, Mikey, Sam and Fred.
We're the folks at Severed Head.

At Severed Head, we get it done "chop-chop"!

If you were an advertising exec, Severed Head Healthcare(or of course for that matter, Severed Head Anything)would be a tough client to service. Too many chopping block images in there. I'm no historian, but 16th century England and 18th century France come to mind.

As with many such notions, I'm not sure where it came from. Severed Head Healthcare. Or for that matter, Severed Head Insurance. Actually I think I like Severed Head Insurance better now that I think about it.

And I'm glad my own half-baked brain can "sever" itself once in awhile and tap into the world of wondrous non-sequitir such as Severed Head Insurance--as well as other fine Severed Head Financial Products, for that matter.

As always, thanks for tuning in to my particular wavelength. More as it happens from my frequency..

Monday, March 02, 2009

Guitar Town

March 1st, 2009 from 2 to 5 at The Trading Post in Spring field, IL.For the uninitiated, this was the second annual event. Guitar Town is a 3-hour concert wherein local players from a variety of stylistic backgrounds participate.
I didn't do last year, but was in on it this year, and I must say, a most enjoyable time. Figured it would be, given the people on the card, all friendly spirits as well as good players. Rock, jazz, country and blues(as well as the occasional 'eclectic mix')were represented as far as styles. For the most part, all guitar duos, which was the bill of fare this year.

I'm thinking of the joke, "how many guitar players does it take to screw in a light bulb". The response is, "four. One to screw it in, and the other three to sit in the audience, going 'I could do that' ". There was none of that kind of attitude at this event, at least none exhibited. Everybody was there to play, and to support the other players as well.

I think it was as mellow an event as it was because pretty much all the participants have some miles on us. We're too old and too tired to get too worked up about much besides the playing and camaraderie. Had we been younger, dumber and more full of cum, we may have had more of that competetive edge, that attitudinal "bad cholesterol" that unfortunately goes with the vigor of youth.

Still, a bit disconcerting to play for a room full of guitarists. Even if you are among friends. But then that gives you an incentive to push your shit a little bit more. It's all good. And as I said, everybody was encouraging.

There is always some banter though. Usually it's good-natured, and was on this day. Someone, himself a keyboardist, said to me(and twice at that- he just had to get it in again)"hey, what're you doing hanging around all these guitar players?" I shook it off, until a bit later when he commented about a point in the music, that it'd sound great with keyboard in the mix. I probably had that look on my face a boxer has when he sees a terrific opening. "You're right", I said. "Wonder if there're any keyboard players here today".

So, score a counter shot for Rog there, one right to the snotlocker . Then again, I took a pretty good verbal klop to the chops myself, later on .Someone, another inveterate musician-type(guitar)had his picture taken with me--or was it my picture taken with him- and in so doing I asked, "what, are you gonna put this on your MySpace site?" to which he replied, "no, I want to attract people to the site".

Ouch! I should've seen that one coming. All in good fun though. Personally, I only insult those whom I respect. Strangely enough, if I think that you're a shitty keyboardist or guitarist or whatever, I'll probably be a lot nicer to you.

Anyway. Viva Guitar Town! A successful event. Not that it didn't before, but Springfield now has a well-defined guitar community, made up of quality players in a variety of styles. And most importantly, I heard the bar made money, so there you go. That's the real deal, at least as far as next year's location. But it's nice when something succeeds philosophically as well.

See you next year!