Saturday, February 28, 2009

So I got shit-canned.


It happend Thursday. My spidey-senses had been tingling for a while (not exactly an amazing feat of prescience in the wretched whore shitbag of an economy we are living under, I know), so I was packed and was gathering work examples for my portfolio for a few days before the I was touched inapproriately by the Invisible Hand.

I had sent an email to the person who manages assignments, a "what the fuck, woman. Give me some work" email on Wednesday (I was pleasanter than that. I am not a barbarian, after all). I didn't hear back, and me being a genius, thought that didn't bode well. Then Thursday I received a suspicious meeting maker to "catch up" and I packed the last of my shit.

Sure enough, the HR hachet woman was milling around outside, and the creative services manager was crying.


As reported to me by my boss and creative services manager, It was:

-- A numbers thing
-- Nothing personal
-- heartbreaking
-- VERY hard on them

And that I was:

-- so very talented
-- and so very funny

Well, gee. Thanks. So I guess funny and talented is not part of the new vision. Interesting. Keep 'em guessing. I like that.

People have been coming out of the woodwork with leads, encouragement, contacts, ideas. I'm not worried about finding a job, but it's still insanely stressful.

Poor Paula is cranking on my portfolio like a trooper (Mary a web designer if you want a portfolio site fast). I am fretting and pacing. That's my job. Last night some friends came over and I got a little stink-eyed on red wine. That is also my job.

And truth be told, my nerd futurist side is sort of excited. I'm a few month shy of forty; I'm old enough to have some sort of appreciation of what the world has been and I'm young enough that I still have enough flexiabilty to be in the thick of the changes the world is going through. Ten years from now is not something I can imagine. That's cool.

I dunno. In the next couple of days I'll be posting my sure-to-be-awesome portfolio (Paula is the greatest of all time), and the hunt begins.

I've already picked up a little freelance assignment, basically writing gags for a series of web videos. I'm going to try to experiment with cautious optimism and realistic positivity.

In the meantime, I'm going to the plasma clinic.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

That would explain his breath.

Owen this morning: "I want brush my teeth with JIZZ!"

"Wait... WHAT?"

Owen: "I named my new toothbrush Jizz."

"Yeah, let's work on a new name. Jizz is kind of silly."

Owen: "I like Jizz."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Goddamn. Uncle Walt is kind of a badass.

I had lunch with Uncle Walt today. He's a man of 72, still built like Gibraltar, with a face like the love child of Van Morrison and Rip Torn. He wears his work clothes eveywhere and he has hands that look like gargoyles. He has retained a slight Texas panhandle twang despite years of living in California.

Here's what he told me:

-- He spent his teenage years in Bakersfield ("the worst place on earth"), where he built rot gut hot rods and had dance parties out on the "band shell" (basically a concrete slab). Three girls in his school died in girl-on-girl knife fights. The pachucos wore large gauge chains hanging from their belts like watch fobs.

-- Bakersfield in the '50s was de facto segregated. Blacks knew that being off the streets at ten was more or less a good idea, and busses wouldn't pick you at night if you were black. Uncle Walt's best friend was a black kid who he played baseball with. The kid use to stay with Walt's family on the nights he didn't get home in time. There was one night when Walt and his friend got to scrapping with some redneck on the blacktop after a game. Walt's friend jammed a finger on his right hand pretty bad and Walt took him home to have his nurse mother tape up the finger. The kid stayed for dinner and Walt's dad, a west Texas rancher turned Bakersfield rancher, was staying at this kid's head. "How do you comb your hair?" looking at the kid's kinky hair. The kid held up his injured right hand and replied "With my left hand."

-- On one occasion, the local sheriff got complaints for the neighbors that the Jones' were harboring a black kid. How unseemly!

The cop showed up and said to something to the effect of you need to get that N-word out of here. Walt's dad replied: "Next time you come round to peddle that shit your gun better be loaded."

Damn! I bust a sweat when I jay walk. But then again, I'm not from Texas.

-- Walt's then-wife got sucked up into the People's Temple, and Walt sort of followed along but was suspicious. (He eventually met his current wife, who is amazing, in the People's Temple). There was a loss with associated tragedy, but this isn't the place, you know?

-- Walt has a sunny, aw-shucks disposition, with a broad smile. He calls women "darlin'" and men "buddy". But if the conversation wanders into religion, he will turn as sober and correct as a existential philosophy and tell you with great earnestness "There is no god." Get him in the right mood and he will wax long (and occasionally repetitively) about the mystery and beauty of creation.

Walt is a great guy. I'm glad I know him.

The Parental Hut, nearly complete.

The Parental Hut, aka the new master bedroom, aka the former backyard, is nearly complete. Ha! Two more weeks of bullshit and air compressors and listening to conversations in halting english between native spanish and mandarin speakers as I make my coffee in the morning (Jaime and Jin are two very skilled and hard working men).

We've doing the wretched hippy piece of patchoulie cluster fuck that is the "family bed" for too goddamn long. THE PARENTS NEED THEIR OWN ROOM, GODDAMIT.

We are the cusp of new era of orby pendant lamps and slightly gay bathroom sconces.

In other news, Paula had a hysterectomy last week to address some "lady problem". She is doing fine. Apparently she has, or had, a freakishly long cervix. Neat!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Advertising occaisonally manages to create something beautiful

This is a promotional video created for my friend Randy's little ad agency, The Great Society. Love, love, love it.

It's like a fruity European art comic, in the best sense.

He also did this great documentary series on the Finnish village of Fiskars, home of the scissors.

See? Advertising doesn't have to be talking toilets.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Facebook/blogger synergy. Neat.

This is some horseshit thing from Facebook. Actually, it's pretty okay. You get "tagged" and you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. Only thing is more than one person tagged me, and because I enjoy needless guilt and anxiety over trivial things so darn more, I add more facts when more people tagged me -- BECAUSE I WANTED EVERYONE TO HAVE FRESH FACTS.

So I ended up with 50 facts. And, what the fuck, I'll make a blog entry. Hurray internet!

1. My wife was annoyed with me when we first met, then decided she liked me. Which is exactly the opposite of how my previous relationships worked.

2. My left hand can't rotate into a "slap me five" position. Makes it difficult to collect change at drive-thrus.

3. I won a ancient, feeble pony named Billy Blazer in a raffle when I was four. We kept him for all of two weeks. I was mostly scared of him.

4. I have auditioned for both Junior Tic-Tac-Dough and Jeopardy. I was too old for Junior Tic-Tac-Dough and I froze and smiled idiotically during the screen test portion of Jeopardy.

5. Christopher Guest once told me that I am a good straight man.

6. I am totally indifferent to the supposed charms of watching professional sports.

7. I was an exchange student in Japan in the summer of '87. I was in awe of the beer vending machines.

8. I got my driver's license at age 30. Funny story about that I'll tell you sometime.

9. I once miscalculated the distance between a conference center in Denver with the bus stop and ended up walking for about six hours.

10. I have been stung by a very wimpy jellyfish.

11. Got my wallet stolen in Heathrow, and as I was reporting it a kind and efficient Bobby, Stephen Hawking rode by.

12. I shook Gerald Ford's hand once.

13. I don't like having things draped over my face.

14. I once cut a tendon in my foot vacuuming.

15. In sixth grade, I got food poisoning and ended up vomiting at the crossing guard roller skating party. I handed in my badge that monday.

16. I wasn't entirely sure how my oldest sister was related to me until I was about six.

17. I recently found out that I'm part Swedish.

18. I used to wear karate pants to High School.

19. I inherited a huge and fabulous post card collection, which I subsequently tossed when I became old and respectable. I regret this act every day, though I suspect my wife is thankful it happened before we met.

20. My son invented a great joke: "Why did the turd cross the road? He wanted to go to the TURD sanctuary."

21. I can do a pretty good imitation of a water drop. (Sound imitation, just to be clear.)

22. I was very briefly a child star, doing impersonations at Sun Valley mall. I don't think I was that good, but I was paid, so who cares really?

23. It bothers me that I can read music only with great difficulty. And that I can't play guitar because of my gimp wrist.

24. I can't grow sideburns

25. I was once rolled by a mugger who jumped while I was barfing after drinking too much. Outside of Slim's. My friend Mark was befriended by skinheads who took us back to their apartment. That was a weird night.

26. If the stars are aligned just right, I am morbidly shy

27. I drink alcohol infrequently. It just doesn't come up that often.

28. Potted trees bum me out.

29. I like being near the ocean, because I always have a means of escaping in case giant ants come.

30. The best job I ever had was working in a bookstore.

31. I am a materialist, an empiricist, and a skeptic, though I try not to be an ass about it.

32. That said, I know that as a species we necessarily have a limited spectrum of things we CAN know about, so life is still mysterious and weird.

33. I wish I cooked more.

34. As crazy and f-upped as reality is, I like this world pretty okay.

35. My wife is having surgery soon, and I'm freaked out about it.

36. I am an orphan.

37. As a child, my family was possibly going to move to Saudi Arabia for my dad's work. It is hard to tell with my parents what was true vs. what was wishful thinking.

38. I saw Mao's Tomb, The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, ice bergs in Newfoundland, the Lake District, and the Berlin Wall all on someone else's dime.

39. I have distant cousins in Chile. (Not Nazis)

40. The more I think about, the more the notion of one generalized model of human belief and conduct being correct for everyone seems bizarre

41. Parenthood should be the most banal thing in the world, but man, it's not.

42. I'm comfortable with not talking to anyone for long stretches of time.

43. Marriage should be the most banal thing in the world, but man, it's not.

44. I liked Coraline more than I liked Slumdog Millionaire. There, I said it.

45. I have À la recherche du temps perdu-like prompting from very hoppy cheap beer. A can of Olympia beer I sprayed on the apple tree on the Fourth of July, 1976. I was 7.

46. Pickled herring is something I bought a lot of when I was a bachelor living on my own, and I would eat it with Akmak crackers and beer.

47. My wife, whom I love, once bought me a t-shirt featuring two unicorns making love, which I have never in public.

48. I once sat transfixed as John Doe performed "See You Later, Alligator" in a recording studio, while a small platoon of oblivious clients typed on their laptops the entire time. What is the goddamn point of existence people?

49. When I was 16, I went and saw Tom Wolfe talk and churlishly I asked him about Hunter S. Thompson, because I was 16.

50. I once interrupted an Alan Ginsburg poetry reading, and I don't really feel bad about it.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

In which the boy urinates on me.

c. 6:00 am

Owen, sleeping next to me: "Could you open the window, please?"

I chuckle to myself: "Meh, talking in his sleep. Meh. Wait a sec? Why am I all wet?"