Monthly Archives: January 2011

People in Glass Houses – Should Get Used To Replacing Windows.

I didn’t watch the state of the union. There. I said it. There is nothing new about my not watching the state of the union but frankly these days i feel like i am in the minority for not imbibing the nectar of futility from the box of shiny colors just so that i have something to bitch or complain about the next day. And yet here i am, bitching about it anyway because it isn’t about the speech itself anymore it’s about our reaction to it.

I don’t know. It seems to me that twenty years ago there might have been many more people who couldn’t care less about a yearly speech which interrupts our regularly scheduled escapist time for a ‘serious’ lecture about the dubious state of the American Empire. Maybe this is because we are universally conscious of being in an uncertain time. Maybe we’re all worried and quaking in our respective shoes. I hear a lot of that these days, not so much the expressed thought or concern, but more the ‘sky is falling’ catastrophic pronouncements that come from almost every point of the compass except the ridiculous advertising for products.

Its a time of great change. But even that isn’t quite right. A great change, should you understand a little about history, was had after the ends of World War One and Two where each involved nation struggled hard to come to grips with gigantic new realities. This, in comparison, is a small ripple of change. Yeah. We’re worried about the economy. What’s not to worry about? We’re worried about our ego on the world stage. And for some reason we continue to want to believe that the rest of the nations of the earth haven’t called our number a long long time ago. We’re worried about debt, china, india, rich, poor, morality, ethics, etc.

In short the ‘civilized’ nations of the western empire have finally read the tea leaves laid forth and have taken their augury for fact. We’re all neurotic messes – characters in a Woody Allen play set on the national stage.

Relax.

I didn’t watch the State of the Union because i’m not interested. I didn’t watch it because it’s not interesting. It has occurred to me, recently, that politics is a bumbling nightmare of a theatre. If it is an expression of Woody Allen then all the characters are in clown makeup or blackface. They are caricatures of humanity and their lines are delivered with all the skill of performance of a bad Sci-Fi movie. I didn’t watch the State of the Union for the same reason i avoid most political statements made in the public – because it’s like a random word generator or one of those old Play-doh molds. If i have the political party of the speaker i already know what is going to be said. It’s so rote by now that everything should simply have it’s own shaped mold just to avoid having to listen to it over and over and over again: Red moons for Republicans, Green Stars for Democrats, Blue Dots for Tea Partiers, whatever. That way, instead of listening to someone’s skewed and perverse interpretation of reality we will simply have a television screen filled with that shape for the duration of the speech which will allow us to go about our daily lives actually doing things.

Because, honestly, we can all talk and fret and wring our hands in worry and consternation about the sorry state of things, we can wonder when the next shoe will drop, we can obsess about the respect and adoration our national ego is getting on the world stage or we can actually try to work, for each other, and do the absolute best we can for one another. Really we can’t do both.

I am not interested in interpretations of reality. I am interested in reality. It’s pretty cool. There are stars and gardens and rabbits and there are problems that need to be solved. There are people who have ideas on how to solve those problems. There are people who have plans, goals, are building things, are inspired to fix the things that are broken. And then there are those who simply want to complain and moan and nitpick those people and say that their ideas are stupid and they should just keep their (insert political pejorative here) ideas to themselves.

Let’s put it this way. In a Woody Allen movie you would have the main character sitting on a bench staring at a pile of wood, dressed in carpenters gear with a hammer in his hands. A plan for building a house lies nearby. But Woody doesn’t move. He sits and he stares at the spot where the house is going to be: “Who bought these nails? These can’t be the right kind of nails. I don’t think they’re pointy enough. I might hurt myself if i try to pound those nails. Yeesh. Isn’t there a softer hammer i could use? Who can understand these plans? Is that a wall i’m supposed to build? What if a bear comes and tries to take down this wall, i mean if i’m building it it’s not going to stand up to a bear. Nah. It’s better if i call someone else to build this.”

I don’t need to hear it. If i wanted that i could listen to my own ego which will provide ample opportunities and misgivings about doing anything.

We’re all responsible for each other on this earth. If i spend too much time whining about the injustice of something being broken it never gets fixed. If i spend too much time bitching about the dismal quality of education, no one gets educated. If i spend too much time worrying about the nails, the plans, the wood, the foundation, etc. the house doesn’t get built. So maybe, in the future, we could show all of our representatives where we, as human beings, stand and simply not listen when they think they have something to say. Maybe we should demand that they speak only that which is actually useful to the project of all of us building a better house.

So there you go. I didn’t watch. I’m not going to feel bad about it and i’m not going to engage in the garbage political abuse that is floating out there right now on all the media websites like some noxious cloud. But i will apologize to my small collection of readers for not being very puckish lately. I’ll work on that. I promise.

Lightening up as we speak!

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Categories: Deep Thoughts | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

The Quest for Unemployment

I am probably not in the proper mindset to be writing a blog on the art of being unemployed. But then again, perhaps the rage, frustration, and nearly comical quixotic-ness of the whole thing is exactly what i should be writing about. I don’t know. Let’s just say when i get into a furious snit over the mind-boggling stupidity of it all i just have to take a few moments and write my way through it before things start getting broken or becoming airborne and seeing as it is physically impossible to launch websites or job postings from a catapult while tied to a Buick, it might be a good idea to at least TRY to write through it.

So as you probably have surmised from many of my other scribblings, i fancy myself a fairly capable and talented writer. For reasons that cannot be adequately explained in a small amount of time, i have never been able to pursue a career in following my talent on a professional level at the expense of the pitiful amount of shrapnel i have been able to glean from working at my ‘real’ job. It’s absurd really, but the fact of the matter is that the eleven dollars an hour that i have choked down like regurgitated offerings from the proffered beaks of my employers has been a necessity because the alternative is an unpaid internship somewhere – which i can’t afford.

Well, as so often happens in my unchosen line of work, i am once again unemployed. For fear of incriminating myself i will not relay what employment i did not chose to toil in for 12 years – as it seems these are the only jobs i am even remotely qualified for and i would actually like to be employed again.

But that brings me to my point. I have just found a job posting that i would like to apply for. So i started doing just that. It’s for a copywriting job in Redwood City working for EA Games. This sounds absolutely perfect even though i don’t know much about copywriting. I mean, i’m a pretty talented writer as you can obviously see, i enjoy playing video games, i would really like a discount on the upcoming Mass Effect 3, i have interest, drive, talent, untapped skill, and generally a positive outlook on things.

But here’s the problem. For almost every job you CAN apply for out there there is a different method of applying for it and each method of applying for it is designed by evil goblins from outer space whose only qualification is to cause the greatest amount of psychological damage to any soul who dares apply. The website which i was supposed to go through to apply for this rare gem of a job is a huge waste of space (and if you’re wondering so you can avoid it like the brain plague that it is it’s caljobs.com – the website that is supposed to help provide jobs to californians, which i am not one but in this day and age and given the drain of Wisconsin’s jobs it helps to cast a very, very wide net.) It doesn’t work. You cannot upload a resume much less look for the particular position that was advertised. They require you to fill out ‘their’ resume which barely qualifies as a Burger King application, and then their forms and fields allow so little information that you are forced to abbreviate whatever experience you might have as if you are writing a tweet.

This is not the only problem with job searching. Every job site, job board, posting, what have you generally has their own particularly sadistic method of applying which will eat your time and your mind for absolutely no result. On average you will revise and rewrite your resume for about two to three hours EVERY time you find a posting that is suitable at which point you will rapidly become aware that the courtesy expected is entirely on your side. The prospective employer is in no way obligated to give you even the meager hope of a cursory response to your submission.

And finally there is the tiresome issue of job specificity. As an example i will happily hyperbolically concoct a scenario of a job posting:

Pooptech Publications Inc. is looking for an experienced wordsmith with 2-4 years of experience in articles relating to animal fecal matter. Please provide samples of your writing. We are interested in Bovine Fecal Matter, and Equine Fecal Matter specifically, though Canine and Porcine is also acceptable.

If you do not have 2-4 years of experience writing quality award winning articles about Bovine Fecal Matter please do not apply.

Do not contact, call, write, or submit an application on this site. Go to etc. etc. etc. and fill out our thirty page, proprietary application, upload twelve writing samples, submit yourself to a drug test, take our psychological battery questionnaire and then wait for the rest of forever for us to possibly, maybe, someday, contact you if and when we feel like it.

If we contact you it in no way obligates us to speak with you, nor does it preclude the possibility of an interview.

Now, of course this is fantasy but it isn’t all that far off. Go look. I’ll wait. Better yet, see if you can withstand three hours of job searching, including sending out a resume.

In short. If you are wondering why we have so many employment issues, or unemployment issues in this country it’s simple. We don’t know how to adequately use the people we have, we don’t know how to find the people we need, and the people who are capable for our employment can’t find us. That and the economy is a nonsensical train-wreck run by bumbling, idiot greed, infused hobgoblins who would much prefer finding intelligent job candidates in far off lands so that they can regurgitate morsels of western wealth into their beaks while ensuring that their bellies remain full on the offal of the rotting carcass of the middle class.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Shhhh….

Well it’s been a rough day. When we’re on scales of roughness, isn’t it a safe bet that we ought to get off of them? I mean, honestly. The first decent measurement of a rough day is to be taken while safely ensconced behind a nice frosty bottle of something with some quality TV, smooth music, or some other edge removing sensory stimulant. Unfortunately the TV is crap tonight and i have a feeling that if i snap on my iTunes it will be blaring some Bad Religion at me and i’m not prepared at present to have sandpaper grind on the sandpaper of my nerves. So it’s off to gaming, my escapist poison, my sometime drug, and i am about to attempt something i said i would never ever ever do in a million years. So don’t tell anyone. Promise?

Okay. I am about to join the hoopla.

I am not, traditionally a hoopla joiner. And to protect the reputation of the innocent (Me – not that i am innocent or have a reputation to protect) i shall not mention the game i am about to play. Let us just say that it is shorthand for awe and excitement – an expression if you will.

I have harangued this ‘expression’ for quite some time but being true to myself can sometimes be a burden and it behooves me to understand that which i harangue. I should mention this attitude has, on occasion, gotten me into considerable trouble in the past. We’ll see how it goes.

I am probably NOT going to detail my further travels into this area as i try not to talk about gaming much (because i have lately been having a lot of success getting away from gaming) but i am floating this out there because, well, the things still downloading and i felt the need to write something for today, even though there are oh… i don’t know, something like 50 or more scenes from Seeing Stars i could be editing right now. Did i mention it was a rough day? Maybe once i get my head wrapped around this new thing i will have some more fortitude to rip the guts out of my fledgling screenplay. We’ll see.

Just don’t tell anybody.

Categories: Video Games, Writing | Tags: , | 1 Comment

All Hail Emperor Zhark!: Something Rotten Book review

Three days ago, sunday, i went to the not really local but still independent bookstore in the neighborhood and picked up three books. One of these books was the fourth of the Thursday Next series of books which my few minions will recognize that i’m totally addicted to. I finished it last night.

Generally i don’t read that fast. I don’t want to read that fast. I’m one of those ‘savor the book in a slow feast’ type guys, having a little morsel here and there, tearing off a chunk to chew on my way to work, etc. But Fforde lays a table of candy coated feasty goodness and i turn into a kid in a candy shop – i know, unforgivable use of cliche. The strange thing about Fforde’s writing is it doesn’t leave me full – in fact it’s like a delicious feast that leaves you wanting more, and luckily for all inquisitive readers the books are like launch pads to explore other writers, other books.

Book four finds our Plucky Heroine finally reappearing out of Bookworld to do dubious battle with the great and all too powerful Goliath Corporation (now trying to convert themselves into the most popular religion), and the fictional (fictional, of course taking on an entirely different significance here) English Chancellor Yorrick Kaine. She brings with her a new son, Friday, a juvenile delinquent Dodo Bird, Alan (son of the wonderful Pickwick) a morose Danish Prince who is worried about his penchant for equivocating, and the memories of a husband who never existed.

If you are familiar at all with the style of these books you’ll soak it in quick – that feeling of a great big plot stew, everything thrown in (including bits you think probably shouldn’t) add a dash of extreme weirdness and voila – a wonderfully strange novel you think can’t possibly work but somehow does. I honestly don’t know how Fforde manages to hold the whole thing – and his head – together while writing these gleeful hodgepodges. I know, for myself, i would probably send for the guys in white coats after finishing every novel, but somehow he manages to pull it off, leaving the reader just a little dizzy.

Well last night the novel left me with a serious case of the sniffles which is a first in the series. A beloved character, whose arc i managed to figure out a while back, finally revealed herself and expired and, well, in the middle of six foot hedgehogs, talking gorillas, a displaced Dane with an affection for Mel Gibson films, and plot devices so convoluted and twisted that the forest of them is opaque with baroque twists, there i was dazzled by a moment of honest tenderness.

the down side to attempting to write a review of such a thing is that it’s basically impossible to show the moments that produced the excitement and happiness without totally revealing the plot and ruining the experience for others. I mentioned this sensation before, but i reiterate the fact that i can only say the book is a whole lot of fun, and Fforde – though reigning in the dazzling cleverness of the last two novels – still retains a panache for the absurd that is not simply praiseworthy but should be lauded across the land – particularly in a world that seems to grow increasingly dire with each passing minute.

So maybe this isn’t the book you’ll be discussing with your literary friends trying to convince them that you’re a brilliant post avant critique, but it is one that you’ll tell your other friends about – the one’s who still stand slack jawed and marvel at words, and plots and characters. The one’s who might still read Hamlet for fun will get it, and if you know of any people who have privately whispered their admiration for Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams they will thank you for the suggestion.

And of course, Emperor Zhark – bloodthirsty interstellar tyrant that he is, is a wonderful character. Just sayin.

Categories: Book reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Under and Overwhelmed: Writing in the new year

So it’s been a while since the last post and much has happened since i left all of my three faithful readers. The novel continues, very, very, slowly. It’s actually been a while since i’ve worked on it because i’ve run headlong into a series of problems that my earlier devil may care fortitude hasn’t cared to slam headlong through. In fact my devil may care attitude appears to care a little too much for my liking and shrinks away from it. But have no fear! I’m sure something will happen to get it all working again.

I lost my job. Again. Working in mortgages is not a very stable environment, as i’m sure you’re all aware. I’m actually fairly used to this process which is not the same as saying i like it in any way. In fact i think it sucks and i would really really really like to get on with a life independent of mortgages. So if you happen to know of anyone who is looking for an amazingly talented but inexperienced writer direct them here and have them contact me.

I am trying to get my first screenplay back together to send out for another contest. Yes, folks, i know contests aren’t exactly where it’s at but unless someone also knows of an incredible writing agent that can get me in the front door on the basis of a few scripts that have a lot of promise while also having a lot of problems. Well… you know what to do. Go forth, minions, spread your wings and bring me back an agent in your capable clutches!

or not. That’s a bit of a tall order for my minions.

Hopefully my new found freedom will allow me a little more time to write and bemoan the fact that when employment job boards are looking for writers they don’t seem to mean looking for people who write, but rather people who have business degrees and had to pass English 101 in order to get them. That is, of course, if they are looking for writers at all and you don’t type in ‘writer’ only to be maddeningly redirected to a job posting to teach ballet in Arkansas.

Somehow i don’t think i’m qualified for that. He says as he stubs his toe on a loose piece of tile.

So now you’re up to date on my latest. Exciting wasn’t it? Aren’t you glad you tuned in for my witticisms? Carry on then, my Minions. Go do the voodoo that you do so well.

Categories: Fiction, Furry Peach and Mango Otter, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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