Monday, March 30, 2009

depressing news of the day

i have to confess that i listen to "wait wait don't tell me" every week. i know, can you believe that isn't the depressing news of the day?

in case you don't prefer to learn about the news in a nerdy quiz show format, wait wait don't tell me is...well, a news show in a nerdy quiz format. to give you an idea of how nerdy, you don't win money or even an npr tote bag--you get an answering machine message recorded by carl kasell. each week they also invite a famous (or not so famous, in the case of stefan fatsis--who? yeah, c4ts, you've read his last 5 books. i know) guest, and this week was kim deal. whoa.

well, this confirmed that i am probably not their only listener under the age of 50, much to my relief. but the interview was so depressing. first, she revealed that she lives with her parents in dayton, ohio. ok, so according to her wiki entry she's taking care of her mom, who has alzheimers. yes, that is admirable. no, that doesn't make it any less depressing. second, she tried to make some joke about how nobody wants to see an old rock star...haha...ugh...

wow, geez, let me try to make it up to you. how about...this? or this?

Friday, March 27, 2009

so...what have you been up to?

i made a tribute to 30 rock. in the dark.

i cloned myself and made the worst video ever. because i hate myself.

then i tried to determine whether this video was cute, clever or just pointless.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We Fly High, No Lie, You Know This...

The gentleman passionately scratching his nether regions in this video, which was seen on internationally broadcast GEO tv, is Wasi Zafar, Pakistan's former minster of motherfuckin' law. That is all.

Friday, March 20, 2009

circle of life

i am fairly certain we've already used this title for a post, but whatevs. as c4ts re-enters the world of gainful employment, i find myself outside of it. hakuna matata or something. apparently all of my entre-employment wisdom comes from the lion king.

this reprieve has given me a lot more time to do...everything. the upside is that i've seen more friends in the past week than in the past 3 months or so. the downside is that having infinite time still doesn't make me want to go to the gym. let's hope i don't end up looking like al gore, post bush v. gore. remember when gore was in the bubble? [ed note: c'mon, that's positively bubble-esque for a politician.]

anyway, apparently we were all wrong about the mortgage-backed securities that led us down this path in the first place. (or at least what we understood from that episode of this american life explaining it to us). friends, they are not toxic, risky or even troubled. in fact, they are merely "legacy assets." get it? we inherited this shit!

excuse me while i go peruse some "legacy brothers" tchochkes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How Can I Supposed to Carry On?

I was recently telling E. about an Igbo prayer, sometimes whispered into the ears of newborn children that I have always held in high regard and hoped would have application in my comings and goings as well: May your life always surprise you.

What I like about these words, I think, is the fact that they do not in themselves constitute a blessing, at least not as we understand a blessing to be. They do not hope for success or happiness, contentment or riches. They understand that life's narrative fails only when it fails to surprise. In this regard a life of unceasing and undisturbed contentment is something to be avoided, or at least something to be hoped against. We may be blindsided in this life, with great triumphs or stunning failures, but I think the Igbo mean to say that that's okay, that that, in fact, is what has been hoped for us.

With that in mind, I report news of great surprise: I have thoroughly mismeasured the dynamics at my office, as explained below, and -- yes, I'm burying the lead here -- just after posting perhaps my darkest post in quite some time, a post excoriating them, the Gods of capitalism, who cast me out so brutally in October, have made the surprising choice to invite me back into the fold.

On April 6th I begin a new job. A permanent one.

I have been deeply humbled by my five months in the woods of professional confusion (though I am constitutionally incapable, I suppose, of being able to adequately demonstrate humility in this forum). And I am deeply grateful -- despite my protestations otherwise -- for the chance to resume my career, or a career, in any form or fashion. The new job is with a law firm, a smallish one. It's not saving kittens from trees or anything, but it's a gig. One day yet I will find myself doing good works. That day is not today, but it will be here soon enough. For now, I go back to the private sector's teat. But fear not. Having mother's milk makes Jack a happy boy for now, but soon enough he will go back to his ungrateful, bitching ways.

I received word of this new job two Fridays ago, mulled it over for a few days, and then accepted last Wednesday. But strangely, in so doing, I found myself contending with various emotions. You see, I have spent the last few months, as you know, cultivating a deep bitterness for my "co-"workers, the alien robots who treat my co-temps and I like human vessels of the Black Death (a virulent strain of Black Death that not even aliens and robots are immune to). Augusta, Tessie, and Abigail especially have made it clear to us that we are there to be seen and not heard, and certainly not acknowledged. Given the malignant work environment I found myself in, for months I had hoped that I might have a chance to quit the job before the job quit me, a chance to give notice with great scorched-earth gusto. But the day I accepted my new job, I found a strange new feeling growing within. Like the dull pain of a toothache you push against with your tongue, like the scab that you get used to picking, the job had become -- very much to my surprise -- the sad-sack routine I was already beginning to miss.

On that Wednesday, I called the bossman at the new gig, exchanged some pleasantries, professed undying fealty, and returned to my cube, returned to an electronic batch of documents, perhaps my last, returned to my overgrown Wesley shrine, and to charts of my ever-declining metrics that Adam had sketched and affixed to my bulletin board, returned to Lindsay Poohands' soothing voice ("Linked-in is in my opinion the top professional networking site...Myspace, on the other hand, is mainly for teens."), I returned to all of this and saw that I had made a home for myself here. Unwittingly, I had turned my torment into my solace. And now I was readying to leave it all behind.

A man, I suppose, will miss anything if he is entertained.

So, I sat on the news of my immintent departure through that day. Finally, at the end, I mustered the courage to tell Adam, causing a great rift in our beautiful bromance. But still I could not bring myself to inform Augusta, or Abigail, or Ira. The next day, I told the other two reviewers, "Rookie" and Helen, and did so, weighed down with survivor's guilt. They were happy for me, to their limitless credit. But I felt like a d-bag. I was getting out, but why me? Finally, I made my way to Augusta's office, a moment I had always fantasized about, but when I told her the news, the strangest thing happened: my semi-despondency was trumped by her clear disappointment. Wait, you're leaving? You found another job? When's your last day? I mean, I can't believe it. You're going to leave? I had spent so much time hating these people for their social awkwardness, their petty pullings of rank, I had never entertained the notion that maybe, possibly, they actually kind of liked me. Augusta leaned back in her chair, bowled over by my news and told me how happy she was for me -- how genuinely happy -- and how much I will be missed, how invaluable I was to the project. I said earlier in this post that I am not always good at the humility thing, but in this moment -- quitting my limbless, lobotomized chimpanzee job -- I was deeply humbled.

And then Augusta said something that I am still trying to process. So, we're going to do a happy hour in your honor. What do you think? We can book the roof terrace where I know you and Adam like to have lunch, and we can do it next Friday, and you can bring your wife. Does that sound good? I agreed, of course, baffled. And as I got up to leave, she said, So, what's up with you guys and Wesley Snipes? I mean, you two are so funny. I looked at that [your shrines] and got such a kick. What's Adam going to do without you? We had always thought there was little we could do to make these people notice us, to convince them that we were their equals, but I was clearly wrong.

My head reeling, I returned to my desk.

The next day, which was last Friday, Augusta told Ira and Abigail of my resignation. Abigail, stoic to the last, said this to me in lieu of parting words: Umm, so your ID, remember to turn that in to the receptionist. Ira hugged me and promised to watch Let the Right One In, which I had recommended to him months ago. Adam and I were denied bromantic histrionics because he was out of town for a wedding. I put a bottle of Jack Daniels in his drawer, and consolidated my Wesley shrine with his. I packed up my cube, which took about three minutes, and put my feet up on the desk and shot the shit with the other two reviewers for a while. In these blog posts they have been bit players, but they are good people, and I very much enjoyed distracting them from their jobs.

As my melodramatic heart waxed and waned, as I considered all that happened in that space for the last three months, I was expectorated fully and forcefully back into reality. Abigail -- perhaps for my benefit -- did maybe her most what-the-fuck act of my entire tenure at _____ Consulting Group. She picked up the telephone and dialed Helen, my co-reviewer, who sits five feet away from me. This is to say, Abigail, who sits fifteen feet from both of us IN OUR OPEN OFFICE PLAN, decided to introduce a telephone into a conversation that could well have been whispered into the air. I almost died right then and there. These people. They are complete fucking disasters. All of them. Nothing they do makes sense, and I am convinced that they are an alien robot race sent from the future to confound us.

But I'm going to miss the fuck out of them. It's true.

I grabbed my coffee mug, waved a few goodbyes, promised to see them at the happy hour, and sauntered into the sunset.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hold The Shenanigans

E., I'm not sure, but my fuckitlist would definitely include Shamrock Shakes.

Monday, March 16, 2009


i went to some random concert like six months ago headlined by stella. i was seriously underwhelmed and borderline angry for having wasted my time.

well, maybe michael ian black is working his way back to me, babe, thanks to the fuckitlist, i.e., shit you could care less about doing before you die. yes indeedy corncob, it's like a bucket list without the tedious having to do stuff stuff. unfortunately, this requires me to be on twitter, which i'm convinced is accelerating humanity's decline, so i'll just list some below, in no particular order:

- use twitter
- properly learn basic physics, y'know, like levers and force and stuff like that
- drive a stickshift
- visit arizona, wyoming, or saskatchewan (i'd include arkansas in this list too, except i have to go there for a wedding in a month)
- eat at long john silver's

any you wanna share?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Music Video of the Day: Yo La Tengo, "Today is the Day"

For E, as promised, no fake words. Just positive vibes. Hope all is well.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jonathan Lipnicki?

This is being re-blogged from Videogum. It is also the visual representative synthesis of chocolate, the cuteness of babies, and the first time you heard that first Arcade Fire album. Enjoy.

TPS Reports

Here are the top three words that vowel-extending HR guy Dick loves to say in his care-free, sing-songy corporate patois:

3) Lift tickehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhts
2) Bloomingdaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyle's
1) 401kaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy

These are words that he uttered while orientating Buck into life at _______ Consulting Group. When he finished his presentation to Buck -- ostensibly a presentation on billing and tax information, but which seemed more concerned about the best Tahoe lift ticket deals than anything else, he said to Buck, "You know where to find me if you have any questiuhhhhhhhhhns." Buck responded, "No I don't. You're never in your office.'" This made me choke on my morning oatmeal. Now I love Buck like a sister -- he called Dick on his bullshit. Dick does no work. Zero. None. He is the biggest scam artist in the chain gang of corporate criminals I work for. His day consists of cigarette breaks with Tessie, Brad Pitt-related gossip with the receptionist, and J. Crew sales -- bags upon bags line his office. Occasionally, he reminds us when time sheets are due, a task that takes 3 minutes out of every fortnight. Still his job remains a full time position despite the fact that industry after industry takes its own life in this country, victims of corporate largesse.

I am a realist. I have made peace with the fact that a revolution is coming. It will foment in the streets. It will spill upwards through the elevator banks of our tasteful corporate edifices. And it will claim me as collateral damage, but it will make an example of Abigail, Augusta, and Dick, so who am I to complain? Dick is a man whose starched shirts have never met the indignity of sweat, and for this, all of us at _______ Consulting Group -- masters and servants alike -- must suffer. Now I don't want to die, the stuck corporate pig that I am, I don't, but each morning my temp ass drinks coffee distilled from fine Kona coffee beans and sits in a temperature-controlled office and laments all that it never became. Where is that novel, you keep talking about, asshole? It's a figment of your imagination.

Look, I know when to call a spade a spade. I get paid handsomely to mark wildly irrelevant emails non-responsive, while my corporate overlords make fake representations to the client about all the important work that they're doing. And Dick gets to lounge in his office, day-dreaming of the powdery goodness at Squaw Valley and do nothing else, knowing full well that his job is secure. Somebody has to input the hours these retarded temps write on their timesheets! When the revolution comes, I will feel sorry for myself. I will. I hope it will be quick and painless. But I know it probably won't. Still, I know that when the world is rid of me and its Dicks, when HR stops being regarded as a a life-station of middle respectability, and comes to be recognized as the deep, pustulous scourge that it is , then I will know I will not have died in vain.

Never in a million years did I think I'd say it, but my mother was right. I should have sucked it up and become a doctor. I should have done something with my life. I should have helped people. Instead, tomorrow, I will read obviously privileged communications between in-house lawyers and the client, and make heart-wrenching decisions about their emails: Was so-and-so's turkey brining recipe the smoking gun I've been looking for all this time? Who knows? Maybe I'll have to roust Dick from his nap and get a second opinion. Or else, maybe we'll duck out of work early and hit the slopes. Anything's possible when you've got a job that could be performed by a limbless and lobotomized blind homo erectus.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

billionaire's dilemma

god, i'm so disappointed in myself. i must confess, dear reader, that i actually agreed with at least one david brooks op-ed from a couple of weeks ago. i'm still reeling. it's not like brooks came up with any original thoughts, but he at least managed to admit that we all contributed to the current economic situation. (probably from all our whining?)

so now where am i supposed to direct my disdain? can someone help?

matt taibbi, who writes for the new york press, which i think is a free daily/weekly, excoriated tom friedman's "hot flat and crowded" and "the world is flat" in two separate "reviews." if you feel the need to screed (ha--i know, it rhymes) but just can't work up the requisite level of anger/sarcasm/bon mots, take a few minutes and read both articles. i'll wait.

thanks for coming back.

taibbi takes friedman to task for his lazy generalizations and hapless metaphors: e.g, "Approach-and-rhetoric wise, however, it’s the same old Friedman, a tireless social scientist whose research methods mainly include lunching, reading road signs, and watching people board airplanes. " "His description of the early 90s:The walls had fallen down and the Windows had opened, making the world much flatter than it had ever been but the age of seamless global communication had not yet dawned. How the fuck do you open a window in a fallen wall? More to the point, why would you open a window in a fallen wall? Or did the walls somehow fall in such a way that they left the windows floating in place to be opened?"

hmm. even i thought that was kinda mean, albeit entertaining. i dunno, i thought maybe taibbi was overreacting. there was a rather sunny profile of friedman in the new yorker a while back about what an authority he is and how well respected he is. and the man can sell books, although a book about how "Aliens have taken control of the minds and bodies of most human beings, but one woman won’t surrender" is like 4 on the nytimes best seller list, so i guess that don't mean much.

so who's right? i've not read the lexus and the olive tree or from beirut to jerusalem, so i decided to take a gander at his most recent column. if you haven't noticed, i harbor some doubts about the need for op-ed columnists, but at least they should digest the news and tell us how this affects us, right? they should be able to provide insight...or at least a new way of viewing a problem?

well, i suggest you look elsewhere if you're seeking enlightment, even of the dimmest sort. friedman decides upon two "signs of our times" by (1) quoting some "banker friend" of his, and (2) using GOOGLE SUGGEST. i can see the smirk on your face. i'm not kidding:

[G]o to Google and type in these four letters: m-e-r-e. Before you go any further, Google will list the possible things or people you’re searching for, and at the top of that list will be the name “Meredith Whitney.” She comes up before “merengue” and “Meredith Viera.” Who is Meredith Whitney? She is a banking analyst who became famous for declaring last year, long before others, that Citigroup was up to its neck in bad mortgages and would not likely survive in its present form. Do you know how many people have to be searching for you if all you have to do is put in four letters and your name pops up first? A lot!

and then he goes on to blab about god knows what. maybe some of it is substantive, but you can't overcome a handicap like that intro and his research "methodology." dude.

anyway, friedman's whole point is that the banking system is in super deep shit and it's gonna prevent obama from tackling the myriad of problems facing america. oh yeah? give me some proof. i'll let friedman take the reins:

For now, though, the banks still threaten to consume the Obama presidency. Indeed, I’m sorry to report that if you just type two letters into Google — “b-a” — the first thing that comes up is not Barack Obama. It’s “Bank of America.” Barack Obama is third.

you know you get when you type in t-o-m into google? tom cruise, tomtom, tom and jerry BEFORE tom hanks! omg, our national anxiety is causing us to convert to scientology and chase unattainable goals while using a GPS system. why can't we all just fucking relax and just watch joe vs. the volcano??

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Luckiest Dreamers Who Never Quit Dreamin'

In the final season of the hit ABC comedy program Growing Pains constant fuck-up and born-again Rapture looking-forwarder Mike Seaver took in a homeless boy. In the biz --the biz of nostalgic blogging about hit 80's comedy programs-- this is called a game-changer. A last, desperate stab at ratings gold. a misguided attempt at keeping it fresh and/or jiggy. Holler at me, Michael Steele!

Anyway, the trick didn't work. We didn't buy it, and we had already had it with the potential game-changing introduction of new Seaver child Chrissy. So Growing Pains gave way to the ungodly TV crimes of the 1990s. See Bud Bundy. The Seavers packed up the house and moved to DC, off-screen. But who was that poorly orphan? Who was he? Who was he? Leonardo DiMotherfuckingCaprio. Knowledge, son.

And so it is with life at _______ Consulting Group. Things were getting a little dull. Abigail wore astro-turf colored flats with a funeral director's get-up the other day, and it barely registered with me. Same thing, day in, day out. But then this week they brought in a gamechanger. Just to keep me entertained.

You see, the thing is, Lindsay Poohands is the world's worst salesman ("Hey, it's Lindsay Poohands from _____ Consulting Group. What's the 411?"). He needed help. Badly. The other day I saw him in the breakroom, where he was munching on a half-dozen hardboiled eggs and sipping on some joe, and I thought seriously about smacking the cup of coffee out of his hands. Coffee's for closers, Poohands! Good thing I didn't because they brought in a new salesguy, Buck, and gave him an office (even though Poohands toils in a cube around the corner from mine). Now there's much potential for treachery and professional jealousy. It's going to be like having HBO at work.

And here's an added twist: On Buck's first day, he walked up to me and introduced himself. We chatted, talked a little about his recent trip to Santa Cruz, generally had a very pleasant conversation. So, Buck is totally fail. Between filling out tax forms and figuring out where the bathroom is, Buck didn't have time for the Eradicating Common Human Decency in the Workplace Seminar that is mandatory of workers at ______ Consulting Group. Poor Buck. He thinks temps are people too!

Fortunately, Buck's reeducation wasn't long in coming. Tessie, the office manager and one of the "nice" people at the job, took Buck around to "meet everyone." I had told Adam about Buck and how normal he is. He got excited and thought we might recruit him into our Wesley cult. As Tessie took him around, Adam started sprucing up his cube, so that Wesley would be in full, unobstructed view. Tessie took Buck to Abigail, and he asked her if she was "a reviewer too, like cold4thestreets." No. I'm a senior consultant, snorted Leprechaun feet. Poor Buck. No recovering from that. And then our turn came. Tessie walked Buck right past us and back to his office. Silly Buck, you're one of us now. You don't have to talk to the help.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Devil's Avocado

My days of whine and metrics are soon drawing to a close. In fact, I have more or less been fired two times already -- the first time culminating in an unauthorized temp farewell party on the rooftop terrace, which goes sadly underused except by Smokey, a gravel-voiced, middle-aged second underling of Abigail's, a man who spent three days last week sorting four or five boxes of documents that we had already reviewed and more or less dismissed in their entirety. Fyi, Smokey smokes. On the roof. Yeah, sometimes, when nick-naming, clever gives way to expediency. And sometimes clever triumphs, if I don't say so myself, as I have taken to calling (and gotten Adam to call) the IT guy who matches business slacks and loafers with track jackets and a San Francisco Giants baseball cap the Human Mullet. Party on top, business down below. I'm too clever for my shirt. Too clever for my shirt. So clever it hurts.

Anyway, we've been fired twice, told not to come in the next day, only to be told shortly thereafter that in fact more work has been uncovered, a box of documents has been discovered, a privilege log now needs some assembling. We are managed by geniuses. Obama should ask them to solve the energy crisis. So, on the precipice of doom, we retreat; we return to the morbid spectacle of a wholly superfluous corporate enterprise. California has a 10.1% unemployment rate as of today, and yet in a well-appointed steel and glass edifice in the downtown skyline a team of "consultants" gathers almost universally irrelevant documents from a distracted client and hands them over to a disaffected group of attorneys whose careers have fallen engine over wheels off the rails. When these consultants -- Abigail and her totally absent supervisor Augusta -- mismanage the batching of the documents or fail to give us proper instructions, we are made to re-review old batches of documents, but still they call us out in meetings for our poor metrics. It's a rather elegant con they have going. When the client complains about the slowness of the project, they can lay full blame on us, the incompetent attorneys who appreciate not their munificence. Sadly, for them, though my fellow temp attorneys conduct themselves with some decorum, I'm a mouthy sort, and tend to document heavily each and every one of the obstacles they place in the way of our efficiency and recount them with great gusto in team meetings. Abigail is never pleased with me.

But things are not all lost in the job: True, Abigail maintains her icy ways, refusing to fraternize with us, the help, but Ira has begun to show qualities that resemble that of the species homo sapiens. A few weeks ago in his nervous formal style he asked if he could interrrupt our diligent web-surfing to have a talk. He pulled up a chair and in his stumbling way invited us to the firm's happy hour that Friday. We felt we had been accepted and cried tears of joy. At least on the inside. Then Friday rolled around, and the whole office cleared out for pre-happy-hour birthday cake in the breakroom, and guess who wasn't invited? What to make of this affront? All ten people in the office walked by us on their way to the breakroom for delicious cake, and not a single one thought to ask us if we too eat cake. Perhaps they thought us a cabal of diabetic lawyers. A few minutes later -- resisting the dark ways of his colleagues -- Ira returned and invited us to the celebration. We accepted. Little of note happened. Mostly we were looked upon with confusion; some regarded us with all the warmth a newly sober tri-delt might offer the townie she finds in her bed the morning after the big party. Then the idle talk (not by us) about the greatness of Wicked was interrupted by the ringing telephone. Why is anyone calling the breakroom?, someone asked. Maybe it's a bomb threat, Smokey offered, rather helpfully.

The party broke up, and we returned to our stations. Before the birthday cake, I had resolved to skip the happy hour, preferring as I do, strangely, the company of friends to the company of robots, but Adam persuaded me into going. What alcohol might do to T-1000 Abigail's nervous system was a point of some curiosity, I did admit to him.

The whole group showed up at the happy hour: Abigail, Ira, Smokey, Human Mullet, H.R. guy who greets people exclusively with "Hellloooooooooooooo", Lindsay Poohands (sales guy who I once saw emerge from a bathroom stall after dropping a deuce and walk right out the door without stopping at the sink), and many more, including mysterious bossman. Bossman threw back a few glasses of Syrah, and opened up to Adam and me. I asked about the history of the company, which has a vaguely pharmaceutical sounding name. As the tanins set into his drunk face, he said to me, Do you know when we opened the company? Do you know? September 10th. September 10th, 2001. And then let that knowledge sink in. I pretended to understand why that meant anything, since we were in, you know, San Francisco. Adam asked why he chose the unusual name for the company. He said it was a term his wife learned in medical school before dropping out to produce their brood. Adam offered, At least the med school tuition was worth something. Bossman parried, That's not all it was good for. She learned some important things about the human body too, if you know what I mean.

We did not. We left, immediately ruing the day we stopped being treated like the help.