Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

righteous moustache

I’ve got the monday night football game on. Aarti is asleep. the Redskins offense is flailing around in a pile of suck, and I keep waiting for them to do something — anything —  to show a little life, and … and, as I type, they move the ball 30 yards on two plays. Jason Campbell isn’t that bad. say what you will, but he doesn’t seem to be a shitty quarterback. he’s just throwing to Santana Moss and Antwaan Randel El, and there’s nobody blocking for him. which is they key thing here. the line, which has suffered injuries, is paper-thin, and he’s … jesus. they just fumbled the snap on 4th down on the goal line.
the Washington offense is awful, and makes it easy to forget the D, that plays pretty well considering the fact that they’re always on the field. anyway. the DC media is gonna go nuts tomorrow.

so I’ve been listening to two songs a lot recently. I was thinking about saying I’ve been listening to three, because three seems like a more appropriate number for some reason, but that’s bullshit. I couldn’t even think of a good one. but it probably ‘mother’s dead’ as sung by Elmo Williams.
but anyway. the two songs are:

‘going out west’ by Tom Waits, and
‘the guns of brixton’ by the Clash.

both of these songs, are quite … masculine. Waits sounds like he gargles whiskey and paint thinner, and the Clash suggest going out shooting with the cops. I listen to these songs as I drive to work. I think about these songs when I sit at my cubicle, the one they’re moving me from in a few weeks. and I almost wish I had a record and worked in a machine shop, or something. yes. this is stupid, and condescending. I understand.

I applied to two jobs this weekend, and spent three hours today studying for the GRE. I did this at the public library. when I was done, I putzed around in its catalog. I like the library.  I appreciate it. this is thanks to mom, who is library crazy. it rubbed off on Mar more, I think. she’s gonna be a librarian, after all.
so I picked up ‘Nickel and Dimed’, which you may or may not have heard of. a woman, who works a series of awful jobs in order to describe how much it sucks to live be working poor in this country. the more I think about this kind of reporting, the more my skepticism grows — of the writer, not of the opinion she (on the outset) appears to be defending. you can’t really say you’ve experienced minimum wage poverty until you’ve really lived it, not as an experiment you undertake during your fucking sabbatical. but even with that said, I’m willing to give the book the benefit of the doubt. I will pick it up, and give it a shot.
what my problem is: I never read half of what I come home with from the library. I don’t know why, I really should. every time I turn on the television, I feel bad about it. about neglecting the pile of books that I slowly chip away at.  so I think, that in the next life (or apartment), I will not have cable. nothing but bullshit on it anyway. like, for instance, right now ‘Resident Evil’ is on. because it’s the week before Halloween, they’re showing Resident goddamn Evil. which is an unbelievable shovelful of bullshit. there are hundreds of scary movies out there, and not all of them are expensive to get the rights to, and the best cable can come up with is a mediocre video game flick.
you should be ashamed of yourself, cable. you could have played something worthwhile.
like, for instance, ‘Alien.’ the first one.
it’s like the anti-Star Wars. ‘Alien’ came out in when, ’79? and I think ‘A New Hope’ was only a few years before that. so when people thought of science fiction, they probably thought of the space opera tip. giant muppets and magic knights and shit like that, which rule and are loads of fun. but ‘Alien’ is not like that at all.
it’s dark, and dingy, and the only dozen-or-so people in it hate their goddamn jobs, and live in a poorly-lit hell of a cavern of a ship. it sucks, they want to go home, and they don’t want to have any kind of close encounter, which is what they get, in a gruesome way. ‘Alien’ is Star Wars where the wookiee instead looks like a dragon and eats you.
anyway, I bring up ‘Alien’ because I’ve got it coming on Netflix. Aarti has not seen this, and I’ve been talking about scary movies all damn week since plans to go see ‘Paranormal Activity’ fell through. I got to feed the scary movie beast. because I, as you can see, am a hopeless romantic.

and, to close: everyone’s favorite semi-crooked half-assing-it congressman from northwest Indiana is really representing the Region well, giving it some good publicity. he even made the front page of the Washington Post yesterday morning! he’s making moves. getting shit done. drawing everyone’s attention, for all of the right reasons.


the chop

it was announced the other day at work that the copy desk is gonna get shipped to Lynchburg in a few months. consolidating the desk. a move that must save my corporate overlord money, in some way, because that’s the reasoning behind all of their moves. probably just fewer mouths to feed, if you’ve got every ‘community’ newspaper (a term used to imply being below a certain circulation) in the state using identical pages inside. well, not identical. they’ll all be a little different; they’ll be able to swap out specific advertisements in different cities, things like that.
anyway. that means a couple of things: first, the newspaper I’m at will continue to disentigrate into a bureau. a room with maybe half a dozen reporters, a photographer or two, and a couple of editors to wrangle them. and it means in about five months, me and the other three people who have my job title will either be invited to work in Lynchburg (home of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University), or find something else to do, be it school, work, travel. you may call this relocation of resources. I call it getting laid off. 
potato, potato.

what’s this about potatoes?

even if the position is extended to me — I doubt it will be, and I hope not to be around long enough to find out — I’m not moving to Lynchburg. I won’t dance around this, and this will surprise probably no one; I hate my job. moving to Lynchburg to do the same thing I do here for very little compensation, in a locale unfathomably shittier than the one I’m in now, is not an option. the Canadian said he’d rather be drawn and quartered. which I said was a little harsh. but you get the idea.
so if I’m definitely not moving to Lynchburg to continue to march down this mediocre career path, it means I got to find something else to do. 
well, I’ve been in slo-mo job search mode for about two years now, with nothing to show for it. maybe I’m being a little hard on myself (as in, I’m sure there are people out there with worse situations), but it’s not like I have the most outstanding resume. I’ve had work as a goddamn copy editor. and I don’t know what your job description is like, but mine started out as something grand, and then I made the mistake of hiring on at this paper, where they could have trained monkeys fill this position (hence its impending move to Lynchburg).
in the end, though, I”m not even that upset; like I said, I hate my job. ‘hate’ with a capital It Fucking Sucks. so, in a few months, I won’t be doing it any longer. that’s a good thing. now I get to do something else, hopefully something worthwhile.

sunshine and lollipops

so what am I gonna do? was it Locke who said, “who the fuck knows?” I signed up for the GRE, I’m gonna take it in a month. maybe that was stupid, maybe I should have given myself more time, but I don’t have an awful lot of that until unemployment arrives, and if it does, school starting not much later would be nice. so I’m trying to get moving. I’ve also been sending out resumes left and right, but that’s not going to get me anything. and, I’ve got a couple of other ideas floating around in the hopper, which at this point are just ideas, and aren’t worth being detailed here.
so what’s it going to be?

the Tannhauser gate

I’m about to youtube the hell out of this post.

I don’t break ground on the internet.
I have the same cycle of Web sites that I hit constantly, that get my steady business. I am not trolling at its depths, seeing all of the weird and wonderful things that it has to offer. I visit the New York Times. BBC.  al-Jazeera from time to time. an entire host of jackass political and sports blogs. and, of course, Youtube.
oh, youtube. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be capitalizing when I spell your ridiculous name. now, allow me to veer off on a short screed: what the fuck is a ‘you tube’? other than a reference to the giant cache of cell phone videos that some douchebag computer programmer designed 2005 and titled as such because it sounded cute and catchy. now it’s in the global vernacular. just like ‘googling’, which can be defined as “What passes for investigative journalism these days.”
here’s another one: ‘pwn’. that’s pronounced, I believe, pow-en. there’s no real definition for it, because it isn’t an actual word — there isn’t, end of story — but rather a typo.
but yes, youtube. youtube is fucking great. I’d say I use it most as a jukebox, but there’s the occasional video of the bored North Korean zookeepers pitting wild animals against each other for sport; or the obese person losing their balance gracelessly; or the simple movie trailer; the distraction that keeps you sane when your boss is advocating carpet bombing as a legitimate foreign policy and wistfully reminiscing about the nonexistent decline of police brutality, all without a hint of irony. 
and then, there’s the drug commercials.

the what?

I suppose you could watch any kind of commercial you’d like online. why you would willingly do that is beyond me; commercials are far and away the worst thing about … shit, everything. they are mind numbing, everywhere, vacant and constant. but instead of unfocused broadsides against an easy target like consumerism, I’ll try and stay more on target. stick to pharmaceutical advertising.
I don’t know how much television you watch. my apartment isn’t very big; basically two rooms. and if I’m here alone during the day, I ususally have the TV on. I’d bet I watch more than most people. I sure hope I do, in a for-the-good-of-mankind way. but I get basic cable, which is around 70 goddamn channels. and, my apartment is chronically disordered, so I can’t always find the remote. which means that a lot of commercials get flash-seared into my subconscious each and every day, and are left to haunt and litter my memory for years to come. five, eight eight. two, three hundred. empire. 
of course, there entire fields of study devoted to advertising research, and the reasons we buy what we buy, all of which could prove me wrong, but I defiantly won’t admit that they leave a lasting impression on me, unless they’re really fucking stupid (see here), or full of eyebrow-raising detail. in that second instance, that’s where you’ll find most of your drug commercials.
here’s a homework assignment for you to do: the next time you’re sitting on your bum ass in front of your television watching the latest bourgeois bullshit Bravo has rolled out to keep your mind humming at a nice, flat ‘duh’ tone, bust out a pad and pen, and count the number of times you see a prescription drug commercial in a thirty-minute period. I’ve never actually done this, just so you know. but I’d bet you’d be surprised by the results.
they’re frequency, I think, is interesting, simply because of what they’re selling. it’s not shitty Coors Light, not Honda Accords, not even financial products (another term that makes me want to light something on fire), but drugs. specifically tailored chemical combinations that you willingly put in your body to modify your health.

we call these subheads at work

I’m a complete amateur when it comes to economic theory, but I guess the principle that the lure of profit is a powerful incentive for innovation would naturally extend into health care. into anti-inflammatories. into curing erectile dysfunction. into soothing your asthma, lowering your cholesterol, to making your body function better — or more in the way that you want it to. 
okay, fine. for the purposes of this blog post, I’ll accept that incentivization is the most assured way toward medical progress progress. so, to sell more pills to make us all better down the road, pharmeceutical companies roll out generic fixes with copyrighted names, and expensive campaigns to get you to the buy them. but in every one of those ads, there’s that 15 or 20-second spot where the actor doing the voice-over extolling the virtues of Plavis or Symbicort or fucking Viagra has to get all serious on a motherfucker and read through the laundry list of things that could go wrong inside your body if you were to take one of those goddamned pills.
drugs are good things, of course. it’s just, when you combine advertising with a set of serious health risks the seller is bound by law to acknowledge, the results are unintentionally hilarious. case-in-point: Yaz.
this is all I’ve really been getting at, these Yaz commercials. no, not that Yaz (jukebox!). I’m talking about the contraceptive, the one you’ve known about, despite not having ever really thought about, for the last year or two. Bayer hawks this thing on the TV an awful lot, and they don’t seem to be very good at it. for instance, here is a Yaz commercial (nevermind the bullshit the uploader added for comedic effect) where three attractive young women sit around an inviting rooftop lounge and discuss the latest cure-all birth control pill that everyone’s doctor is recommending. you know. girl talk.
in the middle of their conversation, one of the ladies makes sure to cover the risks you’re shouldering should you decided to actually eat this bullshit. no advertiser in their right mind would willfully submit to this, obviously. Bayer has to do this, because the FDA makes some hard and fast rules, and this is one of them: you got to tell the idiots who will eventually buy what you are selling what awful things could happen to them should they decide to take your product. so, in true advertising form, the drug commercial will attempt this in the most unobtrusive way possible. you’ll get a collage of beautiful people doing active things, of bright graphics, while a pleasant voice talks about blood clots, thoughts of suicide, and internal bleeding, and if you’re listening, how Yaz includes something that increases potassium and may send your kidneys right down your small intestines and out the back door.
all of those feints got tossed out the window, however, after Bayer released an ad that FDA determined was misleading. and was made to release another, explaining away its earlier ads, and the result is one long, money shot.
so very grotesque, yet so very worth it. I hope you enjoy drug commercials as much as I do.

time is short

I’m watching the Monday Night Football game. Green Bay is getting stomped by Minnesota.
I just witnessed what would be serendipitous in almost any situation. the Packers just challenged the ruling of a fumble on their own 1-yard line. they were contending that no, it wasn’t a lost fumble. the ball was lost and recovered by the opposing team in the end zone, resulting in a safety. a safety, Green Bay said, was the right call.
they were right. the call was overturned, and they gave up a safety.
so their options were they give up the ball on their own goal line, or they admit to a safety. now, they’re pretty much fucked, though I suppose they could overcome 16 points in about four minutes. I doubt it, but anything’s possible. but they sure look awful doing it. 

but of course, they do it against the Vikings. I hate Green Bay. I hate Brett Favre. and I hate the goddamned Vikings. if some freak tornado could hit the Metrodome right now, I would be a happy man.
but hey, someone has to win this game, I suppose.