Friday, August 28, 2009

things i'm excited about

things about which i'm excited?

grammar aside, we rarely express excitement here on interweb detritus, but i'm exasperated by exasperation and have decided that i'm so excited that, really, i just can't hide it. and no, it's not over "where the wild things are." c'mon.

1. glee. i found the preview pilot episode nearly hypnotic in its awesomeness. you can check it out here. would you believe this show's creator also created nip/tuck?! who woulda thunk it. yes, you can love this show about a high school glee club even if you're a self-professed hater of all things harmonized without accompaniment. sure, it recycles a lot of cliches, but only in the best way possible. also, jane lynch! (typical line, said to a bunch of cheerleaders in rehearsal: "think this is hard? try being waterboarded. that's hard.").

2. extract. i don't really know what this movie is about, except that mike judge wrote and directed it. that's all i need to know. ah yes, this exchange from king of the hill (another mike judge creation) makes me laugh every time.

3. jil sander for uniqlo. i am fairly certain that most wearable sizes will be sold out within an hour or so, but it doesn't prevent me from eagerly anticipating the prospect of purchasing something from jil sander for less than a bazillion dollars. and i have high hopes for this line, which i think will be superior in quality to the ill-fitting polyblend designer lines from h&m and the like.

4. this case between the maker of blackberry against the NHL. again proving that the NHL is the worst-managed league and causing me wonder, yet again, how gary bettman has managed to keep his job for this long, here comes a case in which all of the team owners in the NHL voted to prohibit jim balsillie from purchasing the phoenix coyotes and probably moving them to hamilton, ontario. (i know, where?) the case seems rather complicated, but essentially, the current owner of the coyotes jerry moyes filed for bankruptcy, and jim balsillie bid what is thought to be an inflated sum to purchase the team. the NHL's board of governors voted to prevent balsillie from completing the purchase bc they think he's unethical, all the other viable bidders have dropped out, which caused the NHL to enter a bid to purchase the team and operate it until it can find a buyer who is willing to keep the team in phoenix. there seems to be a lot of bad blood among those involved, and now moyes is accusing the NHL of violating antitrust laws.

we'll see how this mess unfolds.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

learned apathy

i suppose this story should inspire some sense of outrage. politicizing terror alert levels? what next?! but then again, after falsely leading a country into war, torturing prisoners, obliterating the economy, and canceling arrested development, what's a little screwing with your sense of mortality? just another day in the office. nicely done, rumsfeld. i hope he writes a tell-all memoir some day.

anyway, i thought about looking for an apt photo, then i realized that i'm kind of bored by these "revelations" from former bush administration officials (notwithstanding what i just said about rummy). isn't that panda dog messing with your mind?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ted Kennedy, 1932 - 2009

I know there will be idle talk in the morning about the continuing brutality of Death's Grip this, the summer of 2009. I believe E. has made mention of it in these pages as well. But seriously, if we make it to the September Equinox with Rue McLanahan and Betty White walking among us in God's Dominion, then Death, I will know, has a soul, and we should all breathe a sigh of relief that He has claimed only Michael Jackson et al.

That said, the death of Ted Kennedy is notable and need be marked, not in the least because his death marks the death of mainstream, national Liberalism. I haven't really followed Sherrod Brown's record close enough to term him a liberal. Paul Wellstone has been dead for many years. Al Franken had hawkish tendencies during the buildup to and waging of the War on Iraq (and has declined taking on a serious and objective look at Middle East policy). And Russ Feingold, for all his anti-war tendencies and civil liberties street cred, was a whorish apologist for Israel's crimes against sanity in southern Lebanon in 2006.

Liberalism is a third-rail word in our electoral politics, As we know, despite occasional virtues, there is no real Liberal spirit among our elected officials. Watching our pragmatist, impotent President and the scatterbrained Democratic Congress he lets run wild, fail even to begin a dialogue on meaningful, universal health care coverage, without succumbing to the shrill masses, without stripping from their proposals health-care reform's central tenet, a public option, in some sort of pre-emptive compromise with the sullen and lame minority party -- watching this, we should know that the Liberal philosophy of equality, welfare, and social justice has no place in our Government. Ted Kennedy -- ever the parliamentarian, make no mistake -- did at least this: He wore Liberalism like a crest on his blazer. For that -- and not just that, of course -- he should be honored. And so I honor him.

But I am also a bastard. So, let me tell you my one Ted Kennedy story:

My childhood friend Paul, the eldest brother of three much younger boys, grew up in a stately manse near Embassy Row. One Halloween many years ago, he took his kid brothers out trick or treating. They got to Ted Kennedy's place, and rang the doorbell. The liberal lion answered the door, absolutely smashed, and with some fine Irish sloshing about in a tumbler in his hand. Bleary eyed, he sized up Paul's brothers, their arms outstretched for caloric bounty. In one graceless move Teddy reached for the bowl of Nestle Crunches, but in so doing knocked a lit candle into the dustbin. The contents of the dustbin immediately caught fire. Irish in hand, Irish in blood, Teddy let out a torrent of expletives and ran off for the fire extinguisher (or another drink, who really knows). Paul and the kids slowly retreated from his doorstep, sans Nestle Crunches. I'm not sure if they went back to casa Kennedy the next year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shit Gets Real

I've never really understood what it is to hate your boss until I started work at ________ LLP.

When I worked at Tower Records, I had a supervisor, Talulah, who used to give me shit for sitting on the back counter during slow periods in cash register duty, but she was okay in the end. She smoked weed competitively and took solemnly her designated charge, the R&B section; whereas I was going to college in the fall and her authority was a fucking joke to me.

Years later, when I was a school teacher, I had a principal who generally left me alone, but one day--maybe the second or third to last day of school in my last year, when the kids were doing nothing but cleaning out their desks--she had the temerity to say something to me about young Joshua Reyes. He had been pissing me off and I had kicked him out into the hallway. Well sort of kicked him out into the hallway, since we weren't actually allowed to do that; so instead I made him stand in the hallway while keeping his right hand inside the classroom. That way I knew he was there and hadn't wandered off. Unfortunately, Joshua, who I wanted to kill constantly and who I also loved like my own flesh, bone, and blood, a duality only teachers know, couldn't keep still and started doing some ADD jig out in the hallway. This caught my wandering principal's eye -- though to this day I still don't know how she managed to lift herself to the fourth floor, part of her dominion she never patrolled. She barged into my classroom and dressed me down for kicking a student out in the hallway, even though, if she weren't such a narcissistic and moronic midget, she should have known I had not technically done. I mean, his hand was still pasted against that inside wall. Come on.

By the way, I had a double class that day. I had been minding another teacher's entire homeroom. I was doing my principal a favor, so I was doubly pissed at this affront. I stared daggers at her, and when she walked away, having deployed her bile, I yanked Joshua back into the class room, sat him down at a desk in the corner, and slammed the door -- hard. The kids all hissed "Ooooooh" in unison: I had just slammed the door on my principal. They knew it. And she knew it. She turned around, came back in and summoned me into the hallway. I can't remember our conversation, but, even though I was in the wrong, even though I had slammed the door on her back, if not her face, and had disrespected her in so unquestionable a way, I held my ground. I made it clear to her, in less profane terms than I am making it here, that I thought she was an unreasonable bitch and shouldn't have dared talked that way to me in front of my kids, that the classroom is my kingdom and I would not tolerate her meddling in my jurisdiction....blah blah blah. Youthful exuberance. I told her, more or less, she deserved my outburst. To her credit, she walked away, before things got really out of hand. Before Shit Got Real. But we were on icy terms for the next week or two. We came to a detante during the summer school term. But I never apologized to her, and she never apologized to me. That fall, I went off to law school, but in the years since I have visited my old school and she has always warmly received me. Water under the bridge, I suppose.

But around the time of the incident I do remember thinking, What the fuck is she going to do? Fire me? I bust my ass for this school, and I am good at what I do. She needs me here more than I need to be here. Let her fucking try.

I think of that incident now. I think of the collected moments in my life where, muddled by stupidity's slightly better-dressed cousin self-confidence, I didn't take my superiors' shit. I think of all those moments where I believed--and I acted in accord with the belief--that my employers needed me more than I needed them, that I had no fear of getting fired.

I think of that incident because I am no longer that person.

Now I have a boss -- let us call him Sean -- who sees himself as something of a teacher, but who has no patience at all, who fulfills television's worst stereotypes of lawyers (brimming with rage, mirthless, committed to destroying his adversary no matter how inconsequential the stakes), and who constantly belittles me, questions my intelligence and work ethic, and who I am beginning to think I will never win over. Now it should be pointed out the vast majority of the things that drive Sean to the brink of Hulk-like hysteria -- a comically melodramatic shuttering of eyelids, followed by a one-handed massage of his own temples, accompanied by very loud nose-breathing -- the vast majority of these things he is fully justified in criticizing. I fuck things up. This job has been a challenge to me -- I know nothing about the industries the firm's clients hale from and I did not have remotely the same level of responsibility in my previous job as I do now. Couple these realities of my job with my generally plodding way, and you can see how disaster might strike -- how it might strike all the time. I have no problem with Sean criticizing me, or my work, but what is bizarre is that he thinks bullying me, breaking me down, is the way to make me a better lawyer.

Now I know a lot of people have had bosses from hell, and maybe I've been lucky so far in my career in that this Sean experience is a new thing for me, but that doesn't change the fact that his tendency to fly off the handle causes me anxiety, makes me nervous, and consequently leads me to make other foolish mistakes that in turn draw further ire from his being. And none of this changes the fact that it's astonishing to me -- and I would think to you -- that Sean thinks he is helping me when he talks himself down from violent outbursts in my presence.

The other day Sean told me I don't have a "killer instinct" because he didn't like a fax I had written to some opposing counsel.

The day before he expressed his displeasure with the fact that I had taken a vacation "really early in my time at _______ LLP." I was dumbfounded. I racked my brain for a response to this statement; I thought I should defend myself. What would my younger self had said to Talulah if she said this to me? To my old principal? But no response sprung to mind. I had taken a week off after four months of work, and monitored my work email while away, and made sure the one or two matters I couldn't reschedule were covered by others. I had done it by the book, and now was being told I had done something shameful. Sean's statement hung in the air, and I just stared at him. I didn't mean that moment to mean anything; I thought this was just another example of him unloading on me and me just taking it. But then something strange happened. My silence, my dumb-stricken face looking at his, were counterpoint enough. Sean must have realized how preposterous his statement was, as it hung in the air, a stale fart from his mouth. He must have realized this was a bridge too far. He stammered, "I mean vacations are good. We all need them, but, you know, work piles up..."

I kept staring for a beat or two more. Then I gathered my papers, and said matter of factly, "Thank you, Sean," and took my leave of him.

I guess there's still some fight left in these old bones, but the fights going forward are going to be the tootless, bloodless kind.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

john hughes, RIP

agh, will the celebrity deaths please stop? john hughes died of a heart attack today at the age of 59. shit, yo.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

don't stop thinking about tomorrow

a little more girth, a little less hair, a lot more gray...but they're back! nostalgia ensues...

picture it, you're 14 and kicking back a crystal pepsi in vancouver. some chubby southern guy running for president decides to don sunglasses and play the saxophone on arsenio hall. yes indeed, black people who are not the president are featured regularly on television during this crazy time. your school plays "smells like teen spirit" during the winter dance (the "snow ball") and all the plaid-clad white kids start screaming and smashing into one another while most of the asian kids decide to sit this one out. you don't know what to do, so you start bumping into other kids, too, despite lacking the requisite outfit and, erm, pigmentation.

oooooooooooh don't you look baaaaaack...