Jeremiah's School of Levitation
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Some People Should NOT Have Sharpies
I was driving around today and, within two blocks, encountered two homemade signs that made my day (weird). One sign was an advertisement for a yard sale. First there was the address of the sale, and then, on the next line, the fetching phrase "Nothing Sucks." I made a mental note that, even if something did end up sucking at that sale, I was going to be there to see it suck for myself. I'd even buy something just because of the show, like you toss a dollar in the street performer's violin case. As an aside, I've always secretly wished that some usually very sober retail establishment, like Sears or Target, would curse in their ads. I'd love to see Target's Sunday ad say "Best Damn Back to School Sale In Town!" or have Sears tell me "Get Your Ass Over to Sears Right Now if You Want In On This Sale!"
The other sign came a block later, just as I was still grinning from the last one. This one was another drunkenly-scrawled sign in front of a used car dealership. It read: "We Buy Cash For Cars." Speaking of sucking, as I attempted to interpret that sign, there suddenly came a huge sucking sound as all the foundations for logic in my brain just simply imploded. I'm still having trouble with those words. Tell you what, I'm going to go have another martini and see if it all comes clear...
Sunday, September 24, 2006
La Pizza Nostra
So, I was sitting there enjoying my $2.95 slice of pizza and I realized that I'm eating a TWO NIN-EY FIVE DOLLAH SLICE A PIZZA and I'm realizing that I may have just found yet another racket.
See, I keep a list of rackets. I call them rackets because they are the various economic gotchas in this world that we, for some reason, sit back and deal with, as the racketeers slowly screw our thumbs. We peel money out of our linty pockets and pay money to these rackets, each dollar disintegrating in a flaming poof. The poof sound, though, is often drowned out by a disembodied giggle sound. That giggle is coming from the racketeer, who can't believe that you will actually pay three bucks for a slice of pizza, but who will continue to charge it to you as long as you continue to pull your wallet out in a trance and fling your money into their satin-lined pockets, and they won't even do a dance for you.
Pizza is nothing but a cheap mess that you make on some flattened dough. It used to be the perfect date/party food for me to make during my "Yeah, I'll Take $1.17 of Gas, Please" years. All I needed to do when someone was coming over was to buy a prepared pizza shell and then just throw my leftovers in it and add tomato sauce and cheese and, VEE-OLA, I had pizza. My guests/dates would eat it and smile and say, "Wow, this is great! What kind of pizza is it?" And I'd want to say "Well, it's a bologna, chop suey, fried chicken, birthday cake, and mac and cheese pizza! That'll be $3 a slice!" Instead, I just said, "Oh, secret recipe that Mom used to make, while she was in the Pizza Mafia!"
If you screw up dinner, don't fret. Just dump it on some dough, smother it with cheese, and bellow "Hey Family, guess what? Daddy just made some...[snicker]...pizza! Come and get it! And, don't ask any questions!"
So, I'm adding pizza to the list of rackets. I've seen $18 large pizzas at the local hoity toity pizzarias in town, and a mess on dough that you charge 18 bucks for qualifies as a RACKET. And, by the way, why does adding "ria" to your store name give you the right to hike up the price of everything by five bucks? I can just see going into a place to buy some water and getting charged 6 bucks for a bottle and getting a little irate and the waifish cashier with the twenty-ton attitude shrugging and saying "Hey, THIS place is a water-ria. You can take your unhip self down to the 7-11 if, I don't know, you're a little down on your luck this week and can't afford the BEST water."
By the way, in case you were wondering, here are my top five rackets:
- Plumbing. Just to have a plumber come over and say, "Hi, I'm the plumber" costs as much as a night out, with a babysitter. If you go nuts and actually have them touch one of your pipes (DON'T insert lewd thought here), then, if you listen carefully, you can hear your bank account flushing.
- Cereal. This has gotten better, but, still, five bucks for some sugar coated corn is problematic. I think Kellog used to be a stand-up who kept getting booed offstage and is now exacting his revenge.
- Real estate/investment seminars. Now, if getting rich was so simple, why are these guys touring the country, doing seminars, and selling tapes on how you too can get rich instead of them just sitting at home and just going about their business of getting rich? You don't see Bill Gates going around telling people how to start a massive tech company do you? No. These seminars ARE what get these people rich. Come to my seminar and I'll tell you how they do it.
- Pizza. See above.
- Cruise ships. They don't let you bring your own alcohol on board, but will gladly sell it to you at prices that are usually about half your salary, in drinks that wouldn't get a lab rat drunk. Meanwhile, you get to stop at ports of call that, in comparison, sell alcohol for free.
Okay, I'm done. Gotta go. My half-a-Big Mac pizza is done.
Friday, September 22, 2006
I've missed a couple of these due to not-being-myself-ness caused by various stages of employment and, well, not-being-able-to-get-up-in-the-morning issues. It is only fitting that the word is "morning" this week. What's even weirder is that the amazing Mona came up with the word while channelling Frank Sinatra. Now, last week's word was "pennies" and I had the idea of doing a mock audio duet with Frankie singing "Pennies From Heaven", but I never did. Lo and behold, Frankie comes to the surface anyway to provide this week's word (insert Twilight Zone music here).
So, anyway, here's my bit, just a little musing on a morning:
This morning, the sun still came up. The crinkly, cool edge of fall bent the horizon this way and that, changing how the wind falls and how the morning feels upon your skin, how the cool is now a serious cool, not the playful, relieving cool of a summer morning after a little summer night rain, and not like the blissful cool of an evening summer wind rolling in over the northwest Pacific waves, making you doubt that short-sleeved shirt you wore, but yet, stopping it's journey to your bones just underneath your skin, making you shudder in the hint of passing cold, in the lightning flash of something that might have happened, if they sky wasn't so in love with you.
This morning, I thought of a new place to work, a place that will be strange to me for several mornings in a row. A place where the faces will have to burn new memories in my head, where I'll have to play personality tag until each of us has decided who's the bigger IT and who is the one doing the entertaining, and who is the one being entertained, or who is the one doing the aggravating, and who is the one aggravated. So much morning energy spent at the public leaning post called the coffee machine, wrestling with muted opinions or casual pleasantries, all prerequisites to the arguments and judgments in our future. A day will come when we won't see each other ever again, and you ask if all those morning conversations were just wasted words, all those connections and head-thrown-back-laughs, all those opinions and debates, all of them just noisy rain that keeps you awake in the morning.
Morning, though, is all we have. It is our white-gloved doorman to the day. If the night was rough, our morning doorman is too, his scraggly beard poking our eyes, making us curse our awakening. If our night was peaceful, maybe on the cusp of lovemaking, our morning doorman is gentle, pulls open the night for us to pass into the day, and even may rest a white-gloved hand on our shoulders as we stroll to the floor and smell the sunrise.
Morning is all we have to insure us that the night was just a dream. Morning is all we have to welcome us to another chance to fix things. Morning is all we have, good or bad, to say to us, "Yes, you're still here. And, you're still welcome here." Good Morning.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Props to the C-Hunter
I grew up watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, with Marlin Perkins, and watching Jacques Cousteau specials and I was soberly educated by those guys' interaction with the beasts, but it wasn't until Steve came along that I participated vicariously in the man/wild interplay, and Steve's brash approach that basically said: "Come on, Mr. or Miss Poisonous/Deadly Beast, let's all just get along. Let me do my thing, and, in the end, we'll both be stars here. How 'bout it, mate?" was intoxicating. His show was one of the few in my "watching kid shows with the kids" years that I really paid attention to, and possibly enjoyed even more than my kids did.
His respect and love for the wild came through in his delightful interaction with the gnashing teeth and bared fangs of nature, and, in all honesty, I never got the same thing from Perkins and Cousteau, who seemed like nothing more to me than college professors getting dirty. I got a little delight from Jack Hanna's schtick on the talk shows, but though he clearly loved his job, I got no hint of personality from him beyond the "Aw, shucks," variety. Steve was the best of them all. He was all animal lover, and all showman. Unlike the staunch scholars, he seemed to treat nature as his golden playpen, not just as his "ahem--field of serious study and careful observation." He's not likely to be topped.
My kids and I loved you, Steve. "She's BEAU-IH-FUL!" was a constant exclamation around our house. And still will be. My man, you were the best. I'll never hear the word "crocodile" again without thinking of you.
You were BEAU-IH-FUL! Your family, and the whole world of conservationalists, should be very, very proud of you.
So long. Goddammit...
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Too Much Blood In My Coffee Stream
One thing I've kept somewhat hidden, until apparently now, is the tactile pleasure I get from rolling certain objects in my fingers and palms. I think I've blogged at some point about how I love to put pens in my mouth, especially the steely, smooth, cool tips of some pens.. I love the feel of heavy pens in my hand as I write random words and watch them form in clean-flowing ink. I write words like "goombay" and "waddlish", which make perfect sense while you are writing them. "Mooshka" and "bladdidip", "froshtish" and "gladdah" all have some sort of playful meaning. "You need to kick the mooshka out of that ball, if you ever expect to ascend to the next level of gladdah." They, by the way, also crack up the kids when I write them, and pronounce them as I write, and even do a little dance with my large head.
I also love those silver, metal Chinese balls that ding-a-ling when you roll them in your palms. They feel so good, and they are a balm for the skin and the imagination, all cold steel and perpetual surface. And, they ding! I put them to my cheeks, to my ears, and then I shake them, just so that I can hear that ding. There's nothing like it, really. I can't think of anything I can shake like that, and get a satisfying, muted, musical sound from, though, I also must admit, I like to shake spray paint cans so that I can hear that dry rattle from inside the can. Whoever invented the spray can rattler should get a star on the walk of fame. That rattle is so amazingly satisfying. I wish that other products would adopt that. I sometimes imagine that there is a rattle in my head and that, if I shake my head, it would rattle like a spray paint can, or ding like the metal Chinese balls. Maybe I can start a new fad. Have the unused, or college party ruined parts of my brain cleared out so that I can put a few dry beans in my skull, thereby providing a soundtrack to the otherwise innocuous action of nodding yes, or shaking my head no.
But, I digress, again.
Nothing, I should say, as we all read this on screen, is more satisfying than holding a book. Flipping pages, running your hands along the unevenly cut pages (my favorite books are those where no two consecutive pages have been cut to the same width, thereby giving a ragged appearance to the pages), holding its weight, smelling its paper. I sometimes pick up a book just to hold it. My palms spread across the cover and my fingers just jut into a random page, and I read a random line, for no reason except to spend a second with some thick paper and some collection of words. I could drown in a bookstore, which is why I sometimes avoid them. But, as Bob Marley said, "The stone that the builder refuses shall be the head cornerstone." So, resisting bookstores only dooms me to one day sneak behind the shelves and spread out my sleeping bag and go on ahead and live in the place. Bookstores around here have coffee shops complete with pastries, so, survivial is possible. It would be the perfect remedy for having too much blood in your coffee and donut-stream.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Q and A with Jeremiah
So, J, did you ever find a job?
Why, yes, I did. I started a contract-to-hire job with a small tech company just outside of town.
So, why are you not smiling?
Well, because, two days into the job, the Big Giant Software Giant called and offered me a job too.
Well, the small tech company was very happy to have me and their outgoing guy was spending his last two days training me on all the things he's done over the last four years, which no one else could train me on. People were grinning like mad that I was there.
So, then the Big Giant Software Giant calls and, well, I'd be dumb as a rock to not accept the offer. In fact, I did accept the offer.
Uh oh. Now what?
Now I have to tell the small tech company that I'm going to have to jump the ship.
And that makes me feel like a louse. No, actually, it makes me feel like a six-foot-tall louse, with a Pittsburgh Steelers cap on. I'm leaving them in the lurch. They thought they had their replacement guy. Can you smell the smoke of bridges burning?
But, the Big Giant Software Giant is far more prestigious and represents the pinnacle of your career.
Yeah, well, I also feel like I've betrayed a company that put its trust in me.
So, you were laid off from the last two jobs you had, right?
Do you think maybe THEY betrayed the trust you had in them?
Two wrongs don't make a right.
Well, but, two slaps upside the head DO make a lesson learned. You gotta play the game like they play the game, homie.
Those guys at the small tech company were really nice, though.
And so are you, nature boy.
There's no room for nice people in the corporate world, is there?
Nope, starry eyes. Good luck at the Big Giant Software Giant.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Fundamentals of Humor, Part 6
The humorous construction "(Determiner) (noun) is not going (infinitive) itself" is a very common way to juxtapose the expected operation or function of an object with a situation in which you are either trying to terminate a conversation in a humorous manner, or if you are trying to point out the absurdity of that particular object actually acting upon itself to produce the result which it is designed to produce. In other words, you are assigning human propulsion to an inanimate object, which is a technique that can form the basis for several forms of humor.
Consider the following examples:
"Well, gotta go. My dinner isn't going to eat itself!"
"Ah, excuse me, but my teeth aren't going to brush themselves!"
"I should head over to surgery now. This appendix isn't going to remove itself!"
As you see, there are more than a few humorous advantages to using this construction, and the possibilities may seem endless, depending upon your powers of observation, timing, and situational appropriateness, as with any form of humor.
However, a caveat for those who may use this construction without some amount of forethought: make sure that the expected action of the object of your humorous focus cannot actually function as an instrument of automation.
Consider the following example:
"Well, this has been an enlightening conversation between the stall walls, but, I've got to go. This toilet isn't going to flush itself!"
This construction may lose its effectiveness because, in reality, there now exist toilets that indeed DO flush themselves. These toilets represent an annoying addition to our daily lives, however good the intentions, which stem from the fact that we no longer want to touch the flushing appendages of toilets, despite years of touching them without any serious repercussions or toilet flushing ailments of the finger tips. Those that are in fear of these ailments do have the option of wrapping toilet tissue around their hands and then proceeding to flush. Or, they can use the bottom of their shoe, which they then promptly parade into their house and place among their children, pets, and other innocent clothes without regard for the fact that you used those rouge shoes to flush a toilet in the bus station.
But, that is all beside the point. The point is that I am glad that someone decided to include an "emergency flush release button" next to the sensory element of self-flushing toilets so that those of us who find it necessary--sometimes for the continued survival of anyone else in the bathroom--to deploy a manual flush. Sadly, some toilet manufacturers have not updated their sensory equipment with the manual flush release, thereby causing some sitters to weave in an embarrassing serpentine manner in order to trigger the automatic flush, which, of course, never works, except to help you create an elegant toilet dance that no one will ever see anyway, but you know would make you a star on the performance art circuit if you had the guts to perform it in public.
Anyhow, I leave you with the suggestion to use the above construction to entice a light moment from a conversation, with only a slight, but important, consideration for our automated society, if you hope to extract the maximum effect from your humor.
Thank you, and, as always, keep them laughing until they stop.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
The first big slate of NFL games begins today and me and my newly-turned-9-year-old are reserving two parking spots in front of the TV for the morning/afternoon. He loves football, just like the old dude, so we are a unified front in the house. We have an impenetrable argument--dad spends quality time with the boy, explaining the game--thereby "interacting", and I get to watch my beloved football. In between, we have "contact" via handslaps, hugs, and faux tackling onto the couch (in the opposite direction of the beer/root beer, of course, or, hopefully). So, we win!
See, if I was just trying to watch the games alone, suddenly, the tree out back will drop a thousand leaves, weeds will erupt in the garden, shelves and cabinets will fall apart, and a layer of grime will appear over every surface of the house, all needing immediate attention right when the 4th quarter begins.
So, since we have the clearance, the plan is as follows:
- I don my Dallas Cowboy rally cap--the boy gets on his Seahawk shirt. We go out back and run some patterns and, forgetting that it is still only 9am and we are surrounded by neighbors, we will yell "Touchdown!" and "Awww! You gotta catch those!" way too loud and risk getting pelted by last night's wine bottles.
- I thaw out the pork ribs and brisket that my best buddy sent up from Texas this week. My level of drool increases because, now, football and authentic barbeque are in my future and drool is reaching critical mass, so that if something happens like someone showing me Denise Richards' photo, I will drown in my drool.
- At gametime, we park for the kickoff. Five minutes later, two-hundred dishes suddenly become dirty and I have to rush back and forth to tend to them.
- The barbeque is ready and we eat so ravenously that sauce gets on the TV and in our hair.
- We run out of beer/root beer and have to make a halftime trip to the store, which always takes longer than halftime.
- I go to the computer to check my fantasy football team's score, and wince at the fact that I'm way behind and I wonder why I even bothered to play this year.
- By day's end, the Cowboys, the Seahawks, and my fantasy team have all won, thanks to my rally cap and my son's t-shirt, and of course, our relentless yelling at the TV/computer screen.
- The TV remote suddenly goes missing and, in the next second, a Tivo-ed episode of Oprah is on. Also, both the boy and I are miraculously holding garden rakes and being shoved out the door. We grin and slap hands and wave at all the other guys on the block suddenly raking THIER yards.
God, I love football Sundays!
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Oh, My Aching Job Search
But, anyway, I've been interviewing at the Big Giant Software Giant (Did I Mention Giant?) whose name I will not mention. Things look halfway decent for a contract position, which is like plugging the hole in the ship with a baguette. But, hey, I need to work.
My biggest issue is having to put on a tie to interview. I am possibly the only man in the world who looks bad in a nice suit. Hell, even mass murders look good in the suits that they wore in the courtrooms. When I saw Scott Petersen in court, I thought, "Man, now there goes a goddamn evil, hateful, stupid, worthless man who doesn't even deserve to have lived long enough to make it to court, but, look at him in that suit!"
In a nice outfit, with my hair cut, and my shoebox physique, I look like some grotesque Trinidad carnival mask. I am so self-conscious in a tie that I have to overcome MYSELF in an interview before I even work on answering the question.
Solemn interviewer: "So, Jeremiah, why do you think you are the best qualified for this position?"
Me: (Internal conversation): "Man, this tie is choking me. Is it crooked? I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror just a few minutes ago and I looked like a giant Q-tip®, sticking out of a drawstring bag. My head was the size of a pumpkin. And, is there somewhere I can donate a portion of my forehead to those less fortunate to have a full head of forehead? I remember back in school when the kids used to say 'Jeremiah doesn't have a forehead--he has a FIVE-head.'"
Me: (What I actually say): "If I could rip off this tie, pull my shirt out of my pants, and sit back in the chair, I'd really be able to formulate real words, but, for now, I'm just going to unleash a nice long gag, if you don't mind. You're welcome to read my resume while I'm gagging."
No, actually, things have gone well, as can be expected. I'll push on. And, I promise to be better at letting those who care know what I'm pushing. One thing, though: I wish I could never worry about the man again. Meanwhile, I'm headed off to study for another interview. Maybe I should apply to the Q-tip folks...