Saturday, August 30, 2003
As If My Life Weren't Already a Pain in the Ass
In the event of a water landing, this blog may be used as a flotation device.
Well, this is going to be pretty friggin' tough.
I'm in 'get my damned life in order' mode lately, if you haven't been keeping up the past few days. (And smack your little hands if you haven't! Smack 'em! Smack, smack, smack!)
And one of my projects is to get off my ass and finish my '100 Things About Me' posts. If you missed it a few weeks ago, I explained how my 100 things would be a bit different than most. (And pull your little hair if you missed it! Pull it and rip it and yank it out of your little head! Bad blog reader! Bad!)
(Um, yeah, maybe that's just a bit too strong. I'll try and take it easy on the suggestions for self-mutilation in future. Thanks for your patience.)
Anyway, my one hundred things are all going to be posts, as well as things. So you can actually click on each thing to get a whole, long-winded, detailed explanation of the whole point, plus a couple of tangents, and maybe directions to your local HoJo's. Or something. They tend to whing off in all directions, like just about every other post I've written. But that's not the point. (As usual.) The point is that I wrote about twenty of them in the first few days after conjuring up a hundred things about me, and then I stopped writing them. I lost interest, or got distracted, or something. Who can remember? But the remaining 'things' have been hanging over my head since then, poking and prodding at me to get off my ass and finish them. Or, more likely, to plop down on my ass in my desk chair and finish them. Either way -- the things really don't get into implementation details while they're bitching at me, come to think of it.
But the fact remains that these things need to be finished. So, in the past couple of days, I've made good, honest, wordy headway. I've finished another dozen or more, and I'm up to 37 done. Yay, me! So, of course, to keep my ass in the groove ('cause otherwise, you end up sittin' with one butt-cheek higher than the other... very uncomfortable), I've decided to set a lofty, unreasonable, nearly-impossible goal for myself. Which is my usual 'M.O.'
(If you're unfamiliar with the term 'M.O.', it comes from the Latin phrase meaning, 'how someone usually does shit'. And really, you should watch more Law & Order. This is exactly the sort of material they cover.)
But back to my story -- this goal-setting thing is a common occurrence for me, and is often the only way I'll actually buckle down and accomplish anything. See, if I just have to do something, it's no good. No one wants to just do things. Where's the fun in doing things? I'm not gonna do anything; doing things is for suckers.
But. (There's always a but. There's not always pants, but there's always a but. See, there's another one.)
As I was saying, but. As in, but, if I can come up with some half-cocked scheme to make the thing into a game somehow -- a challenge -- well, then, that's different. Then, there's something to get interested in, to throw myself into. Then, dear Watson, the game's afoot. Or abut. Something like that. I don't know; look it up. I'm too busy blogging to bother with figuring out what words actually mean. Can't be bothered right now.
(As an aside, I have to say that I usually can be bothered to figure out what words mean before using them, mainly because of that well-nurtured fear of looking like an ignorant hick. Which probably should be better nurtured in many of the people around me, the filthy heathens. But one glaring example comes to mind when I didn't figure out what a word meant, and used it anyway. That word is gutentag.
Now, most of you out there will know that's German for 'hello'. But when I heard it -- probably out of context and from one of those heathens I mentioned -- I must've zoned out towards the end of the word and only really heard the gut. So I thought, 'Ah, 'good'. 'Gut', 'good', 'gutentag', 'good'. Good!'
Why, yes, I do sometimes think like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. Why do you ask?
Anyway, that's how I used the word for quite some time, until someone told me that I was doing it all wrong. Someone would say that my team won, and I'd reply, 'hello'. A free beer at the bar would get a hearty, 'hello!' And my wife would get a sweet, 'Honey, you were 'hel-lo' last night'.
Clearly, I'm a moron. Still, it could have been worse, I suppose. A nice 'hello!' can often work as an exclamation of surprised joy. I mean, I could have been out there throwing the word for 'sausage' around. Or 'flowerpot', or 'filthy used condom'. So, I guess I was getting off easy, even before someone told me that I was a fool.
Not that it really mattered, of course. For one thing, I know I'm a fool. A little misappropriation of some other country's word isn't gonna change that, or be the first stupid-assed thing I've done. Nor the last. And for another thing, I've kept on misusing 'gutentag', anyway. Only now I do it with a wry droll sense of irony, instead of that thin veneer of ignorant idiocy I used to have. And I'm sure people notice the difference. No, I'm positive. My wife doesn't even bother to say, 'dummkopf' any more when I do it, so it must be funnier now. It simply must.)
All right, where the hell was I? Ah, right, making ridiculous challenges for myself out of every freakin' thing I do. Peachy.
So, brushing my teeth? Not interesting. Anyone can brush their teeth, and most people outside of England actually do. On a regular basis, even. Ah, but standing on one foot while brushing my teeth? Well now, that's a challenge! Or holding my breath while I polish the ivories, perhaps? Hell, that's damned near a competitve sport. Bring it on, I say! Any activity that could conceivably lead to my wife finding me wearing only my boxers, passed out and blue on the bathroom floor with foam around my mouth has to be a good thing. Where do I sign up?
And anything can be turned into a game. Anything. Putting away the dishes? How many pieces of silverware can I hold at one time? (Answer: nineteen, unless there's a ladle or a really sharp knife involved.) Walking down the street? How many steps will it take me to get to the curb. (Answer: thirty-four.) Taking a shower? Can I wash it more than twice without playing with it? (Answer: Um, so far, no. But I'm working on it.)
Which brings us back, rather circuitously, to my 100 Things. As an added incentive to finish them up, I decided that I have to finish those one hundred posts (really one hundred and one, but let's not quibble over details) before I write my one hundredth post here in the main blog. As I mentioned earlier, I've got 37 'things' done. And this is blog post number 90. So I've got some catching up to do. Still, those other posts are generally shorter (with a few notable exceptions), so I can write six or eight in a day, if I really get going. Which I'll have to do to finish on time, if you're following along with the math. Oh sure, I could get up to 99 posts here and just take a couple of months off while I get around to finishing, but that wouldn't be right, now, would it?
(Okay, I hear you. 'No, that'd be fine, Charlie. Feel free to not post for a while. Take your time. Really, we won't miss you.' Well, forget it. You're not gettin' off the hook that easily, people. There'll be a new post here every day as usual. You'll read it, and you'll like it, dammit. Don't make me come over there.)
So, I've got 64 posts to write in ten days. While I'm also writing 10 posts here. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? My brain's gonna be mush (-ier) at the end of this; the last few posts will probably be incomprehensible gibberish. (Yeah, no comments from the peanut gallery, please. Just let that one go. Let. It. Go.) Or they'll just be 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy... over and over. ('Heeeeeeeere's Charlie!') But hopefully I'll get a few in there that make some damned sense. We'll just have to see, won't we?
So, that's the story for tonight. Just a little glimpse into my life, and how goddamned hard I can manage to make it. Don't get too close, folks; it might be contagious. And you don't want my wretched disease, believe me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go get ready for bed. And if I don't get my shoes untied and off before I finish humming 'Mary Had a Little Lamb', I've got to wear them overnight. So wish me luck!
P.S. Well, duh! As still further evidence that I'm a moron, I submit this: I've been talking about these 100 Things About Me for weeks now, and I was a little miffed that very few people seemed to be wandering over to see them. Even after I put a link to them on the sidebar. A broken link on the sidebar, that is, which explains why the trickle of traffic is so...um, trickly. Bitches!
So, if you've tried the link and come up empty in the past, give it another shot. I fixed it this time, really. This isn't like Peppermint Patty with the football -- it's really fixed now. At least, I think it is. I have to admit, because of the way I've set the network up here at home, I have to get to that page with a different URL than I put on the page for you fine folks.
(Which is the only excuse I have for being a brain-dead goober who plops dead links down on his own site. Why the hell didn't anyone tell me? This is like standing at home plate to sing the National Anthem with your fly undone. Well, okay, home plate at an abandoned Little League field, given the number of readers I have, but still. It's damned embarrassing!)
So I suppose I still don't know for sure that it's working. But it looks right, for the very first time, so check it out. There's plenty more of this kind of thing over there, and soon, the volume is going to triple, give or take a tangent or two. So give it a click, and let me know what you think. And for Christ's sake, tell me if you get a broken link! If I'm gonna stand around with my metaphorical winky hangin' out, I want to know about it, dammit! (Otherwise, I won't get a chance to enjoy it, now, will I? And that's just wrong.)
Friday, August 29, 2003
Try Picking the Lesser of These Evils, Folks! Go On, I Dare Ya!
It ain't easy being blog.
All right, let's try something a little different today. Those of you paying close attention know that I just signed up for a 'Beginning Standup Comedy' class that's going to start next month. Which means that I'm thinking about trying to be funny, but no one's taught me how yet. (Which seems to be a running theme throughout this blog, now that I think about it...)
Anyway, for the past few days, I've been thinking about how I'd start a standup set. You know, in between sleeping and munching on potato chips and watching Family Guy. (Yes, the life of an unemployed, soon-to-be-aspiring comic is a tough one, folks. Somebody throw me a telethon or something, would you?) And I've come up with not one, but two possible openers, neither of which I'm likely to ever use, of course. Once I get into the class, I'll learn how the real funny people of the world do it, and I'll forget all about these swine nestled among the pearls. Or something like that.
Except -- oho! -- I've got a blog. Right here, see? Which means that I have a semi-captive audience that just might sit still long enough to read these first feeble attempts at hilarity. And so, here they come. If you like 'em, cool -- let me know. If not... um, well, hopefully in a few weeks, you can tell me how far I've come. We'll just have to see about that. Keep your funny bones crossed.
But, in the meantime, here's my pair of 'ice breakers', designed to get things off on the right foot. Actually, about that whole 'right foot' thing... Just in case there are any easily-offended sorts out there among you (and if you've read this friggin' far, I seriously doubt it), I feel that I should warn (entice?) you by confessing that both of these snippets contain references to crack whores. And, um, handjobs. Hrmmm... I wonder if I'm gonna be that kind of comic? Oh my.
A Comic Is Born, take one... and action!
Hi there, how are you tonight? I've gotta admit, I'm a little nervous up here. This comedy thing is pretty new for me.
See, I got laid off a few months ago, so I decided it was time to step back and see what I really wanted out of life. I'd been working in a little cubicle for years, scurrying around the office and munchin' the cafeteria slop like everybody else. But this was my wake-up call. So I sat down and thought long and hard about what would make me happy, when finally it hit me! The perfect job! The exquisite combination of all the things that were important in my life. So I ran to tell my wife.
And I laid it out for her. I could have it all. This was a job that required no experience, I could work for fifteen, maybe twenty minutes a day tops, I wouldn't have to get up early or wear nice clothes, and best of all, I could drink while I was working! Perfect! I was so pumped!
And then my wife ruins it. 'No,' she says. 'You can not become a crack whore.' Just like a woman.
So, I plead my case, and I get nowhere, and finally she says, 'Why don't you try standup?'
'Standup comedian', huh? Yeah, okay, it's not as glamorous as 'crack whore', but what the hell? I have no pride. So, here I am.
But still, I kinda like my original idea, you know? The danger, the excitement, all those kooky characters. So I think of myself as the 'Crack Whore of Comedy'. And tonight, you folks are my trick. And this -- this is your handjob. I hope you're enjoying it. For an extra ten bucks, I'll talk dirty to you, too.
Well, dirtier, anyway, if that's possible at this point.
and... scene! At this point, I'd have to find something else to seque into, and say something that was actually funny. The horror!
Or, I might forget all that, and go this way, instead:
A Comic Is Born, take two... and go!
Hey there, folks. I'm Charlie, glad to be here tonight.
Well, pretty glad to be here, anyway. I've got to admit, comedy wasn't my first choice as a career change.
See, I got laid off a few months ago, and I decided to look for another line of work. Something fun. Easy. Thrilling. A job where I could wear what I want, and sleep late, and work for -- I don't know -- maybe fifteen, twenty minutes a night, something like that. Something that didn't require any special skills or experience, or even being sober. Yeah, a job where I could drink before, after, and even during the work. That's the kind of job I wanted.
So, I made a list. I wrote down all those points, and looked for jobs that fit the bill. And in the end, I came up with three. Standup comedy was second on the list. A distant second, I might add. My first choice was my dream job, something I've been wanting to do for my whole life. And for a precious, all-too-brief time, I lived the dream.
I was a professional sperm donor.
That's right. Cash for cum. Swag for swimmers. Cents for sperm. And at first, it was great. I'd go in to work around two, and by two thirty -- okay, two oh four -- I'd be done for the day, cash in hand. Um, my left hand, of course. Otherwise, the guy at the toll booth won't take it.
But it was cool. The money wasn't great, but I managed. You're allowed to donate five times in a week -- ten times, if your fake beard and mustache are convincing enough -- so I did okay. I got to be one of the regulars after a couple of weeks. All the guys would say, 'Hey, Charlie!' and wave when I walked in. Again, with the left hand. Always with the left hand. Can't interrupt the business, of course.
But, in the end, it didn't work out. After a few weeks of two-a-days, I just didn't have much left to give. My arm was sore, I had carpal tunnels... my little fella looked like the back of a steering wheel, with the permanent finger grooves carved in. I just couldn't do it any more.
I haven't whacked off so much since my dad caught me doing it on the toilet when I was twelve years old. He did the same thing he did when he caught me smoking -- I had to do it a hundred times in a row, so I'd be so sick of it, I would never want to do it again. Luckily, the lesson didn't stick that long. But still, it was fifteen years before I could get a handjob without screaming, 'Please, daddy, no more! I've had enough! I promise I'll never do it again!' You can imagine how well those dates went.
So, now I'm down to my second choice. I really hope this comedy thing works out, too. Next on the list of jobs is 'crack whore', and I just don't think I have the temperament for it. Or the figure. Can you see me in filthy shorts and a crusty old wife beater, pokin' at my arm tryin' to find that last uncollapsed vein?
Nah, me either. I'm not skinny enough for that. I'd go back to 'whackin' for dollars' before I go that route.
So, that's that. Two comic vignettes you'll likely never see, or hear of ever again. Still, it's good to get those out of my system. I've got to get the bad out, before the experts can get the good in, right, folks? So things may get uglier around here before they improve, I'm afraid. The class starts in just over four weeks -- I can only hope I haven't lost all of you by then, when the good stuff starts flowing. You wouldn't want to miss that, would you?
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Now I Wonder Where I Can Get a Rubber Chicken?
It's one small step for man; one giant blog for drooling lunatics everywhere!
Well, fuck it. Just fuck it.
No, really. Sit down, take a deep breath, and say it. 'Fuck it! F. Uck. It.'
Feels good, doesn't it?
Oh, wait. I forgot. The written word is really pretty bad about getting across inflection and subtle nuance. If you were here, and you saw me sitting, and breathing, and saying, 'Fuck it!', then you'd know what kind of exclamation it is. But you're not here. Which is probably good, all things considered. Oh, I've got pants on and all (for once), but still, I'm just saying 'Fuck it' over and over again, like some sort of potty-mouthed Rain Man. It's not something you'd probably want to actually witness in person. Plus, this room's pretty small. I doubt that all of you would fit in here at once. (Who am I kidding? All of my readers would fit in a refrigerator, and there'd still be room in the salad crisper. Eh.)
Anyway, I should probably explain, rather than just flinging profanities at you like so much poo. (Um, that's the swear words that are the poo, not you fine folks. Just to be clear, you know. I would never compare anyone reading my blog to poo, or any other sort of excrement. Really, I hold you in the very highest esteem.)
(Is it any wonder I don't get a lot of hits? *groan*)
All right, so back to the explanation. This is not an angry 'Fuck it!' I'm not throwing down the gauntlet, or registering for any guns or anything. It's not like that. This is not a 'Fuck it! That's it; I'm goin' postal and gettin' up in all y'all's bidness!' Not at all.
It's also not a frustrated 'Fuck it!' You know, like when you really want some pickles, but the lid on the jar is too tight, and you struggle with it, and bang it on the counter, and run it under hot water, and finally it -- still doesn't open. At which point, you say, 'Stupid poopy pickles, anyway. I don't even like pickles. Never mind; I'll eat potato chips.'
And then you walk over to where the chips are, but of course, you leave the pickles out on the counter. You say you're done with them, but you know and the pickles know that as soon as you get to the chips, you're going to leap back and give it one last shot, because dammit, they're just friggin' pickles, and why does life have to be so goddamned hard, and I must have loosened the damned lid by now, and arrrrrrggh!
Nope. Still not open.
And that's when it comes: 'Fuck it! Just fuck it, man. I'm never eatin' pickles again. Bitches!'
You know what I'm talkin' about. We've all had our pickle Waterloo. Or Custer's Last Jam-Jar Stand. You've been there. But -- this is not that kind of 'Fuck it!', either.
No, this is the other kind of 'Fuck it!' This is the reckless, ballsy kind of 'Fuck it!' that leads to so much trouble and embarrassment in the world. It's related to the drunken sort of 'Fuck it!' that often ends with the speakers losing money in games they've never heard of, or eating items on a bet that were never meant to be ingested, or sleeping with someone that's of a gender -- or a species -- not normally preferred.
(My 'Fuck it!' is related to that sort, you understand, but it's not the same. I hope not, anyway. I'm still crappin' gravel from the last time I took a stupid bet. Winning twenty bucks never hurt so bad. Or so many times.)
Anyway, my 'Fuck it!' is the kind that says,
'I'm goin' for it. The odds are against me, and I don't know what the hell I'm doin', but you know what? Fuck it! I'm goin' in, anyway. If I'm not back in three days, send somebody in to find me.'
And that's the best kind of 'Fuck it!' there is, folks. There's nothing quite like the heady mix of adrenaline, adventure, and fear masquerading as false confidence. It's intoxicating, in a Windex-y sort of way, complete with the shaking hands and sinking feeling in the stomach. Okay, so there's not quite as much foaming at the mouth involved, and there's no blue stuff coming out my nose. Fine, so it's not exactly like a Windex buzz. Damn, it's only a metaphor. Chill out.
So, what's behind my cheeky new attitude? Well, recently I've gotten damned little done. Shockingly little. So I decided it was time to take charge of my life again. Every so often, it seems, I have to shut the autopilot off, and take the wheel, and spin around to a new course. Clean up loose ends, and then sail off for bluer waters. That sort of thing.
So a few days ago, I took inventory of my current situation. Wife, check. House, more or less check. Dog, check. So the really important stuff was pretty okay. That's a good start. The type of foundation from which I can get really cocky and get myself into beaucoup trouble. So, what else?
Job, not-so-check. The search is going pretty slowly, and my interest waxes and wanes like Oprah's weight. Or Pinocchio's nose in a game of 'Truth or Dare'. Or... you get the idea. Health, also less 'checky' than I'd like. The past few weeks have seen a lot of burgers and beer come my way, and I've turned down very few of either. And sitting on my ass all day isn't improving anything, except maybe its ability to double as a paperweight. And my general attitude lately? Eh, check, more or less. But subdued a bit. Easily distracted. A little mopey. Clearly, what I needed was a life change.
So, I decided to make some mid-year resolutions. Why the hell should I wait until the middle of winter, anyway? I made Autumnal Equinox Resolutions, or something. August twenty-sixth or so has got to be some kind of holiday or other, right? Shit, every frickin' day's a holiday these days -- it's probably 'Undersecretary of Defense Day' or 'Plant a Geranium Day' or 'Toasted Marshmallow Day' or some shit like that.
(Damn, I just looked it up. Turns out the marshmallow thingy isn't until the thirtieth. So, you've still got time to get ready for that. Thank heaven, huh? Interestingly enough, though, the twenty-sixth really was 'Make Your Own Luck Day', which -- if I ever get around to the freakin' point -- is sorta what I did. Pretty damned cool!)
Anyway, where the hell was I? Oh, resolutions. Right.
So, I made all the predictable vows that a man in my position should make. I'm gonna eat better, and exercise, and lose some weight. Less barbecues and volleyball two days a week ought to help with that, so I'll be well on my way in just a week or so. And I pledged to find a damned job, or at least work harder at it. So I did -- I got word out to some friends that might be able to help, and I'm cruisin' the job sites again, and I plan on workin' the phones and schmoozing more to try to find a good place to land.
But then -- then, I made one more resolution. I decided, you know what? If I'm gonna look for a job, why the hell don't I also check out the one I'd really like to have? Why don't I hoist myself by my own petard (other than the fact that I wouldn't know where the hell to find it), and see if I've got the stuff to live the dream? Maybe I do, and maybe I don't. But I've never tried to find out. And that's just wrong. So wrong. So, I resolved to check it out, and took my first baby step this morning. I signed up for a class, where I can find out more about it, and learn about how it's done, and practice a little bit, and see if I'm any damned good at it. At the last session, I'll even get a chance to go out into the real world, and give it a trial run.
I'm gonna do a standup comedy routine. On stage. In early December or so. In front of real, live people. At a bar. And after six weeks of class. How fucking cool is that?
I'm nervous, I've got to admit. I think I can do it, and maybe even be pretty good at it, but still, it's working very much without a net, isn't it? No backspace key, or editing, or deleting the stuff that's crap. I'm just hoping to learn enough about preparation to be cool with it. The class starts in late September, so I'll let you know how it goes.
So, that's the surprise I mentioned in passing yesterday. From your perspective, maybe it's not really cool enough to call a 'surprise'. Just another post full of drivel, with a few more 'fuck's than usual thrown in. But for me, it's pretty exciting. Nothing may ever come of it -- it may well get relegated to the Things I Tried Once list, alongside skydiving and moshing and raw oysters. (Not all at once, of course. That would be foolish. And dangerous, and besides, the cocktail sauce would spill all over the place.)
But you never know until you try. So, I'm tryin'. Or rather, I will try, once the class starts and I see what it's all about. And what's the absolute worst that could happen? Oh, um, yeah, that's right. I guess I could get electrocuted by the mike and die in a sizzling heap, right there on stage. Uh, yeah. Thanks. Don't know what I'd do without you.
But what's the worst that's likely to happen? The dozen or so people that show up for an open mic night boo my ass off stage? Fine. I've had worse at spelling bees. (Not to mention my own wedding.) I can handle that. And then I'll go back to being a mild-mannered software engineer, and at least I can say I tried. (Or more accurately, I can say I said, 'Fuck it!', and then, 'Aw, fuck it.' But that's still better than most.)
And in the meantime, maybe this blog will get a bit better. Maybe the punchlines will be punchier, and the gags will be gaggier. Or less gaggy; I'm never quite sure which way that one's supposed to go. So in the end, you, my dear reader(s), are the real winners. I'll put my ass on the line trying to get funnier, and you'll be the ones reaping the benefits, assuming there are any. You can thank me later. Like when I'm big and famous, and you need a favor. Just keep track of your IP address, so I can confirm you're not some lying hack just pretending to have known me when I was just a two-bit blogger who said 'fuck' too much. Fame does tend to attract the greedy random nutbags, you know.
So, we'll see how it goes, and I certainly appreciate any advice or encouragement along the way. Maybe I can get some from the relative strangers who only know me via this site, anyway. But there are also a few of you out there who know me in real life. If you're not one of those folks, then this post is pretty much over. Take care, and drive safely on your way home tonight. Oh, and don't forget to spay or neuter your pets. People always say that at the end, don't they?
For you other folks -- the ones who know me in real life -- I just have this to say. Look, you've played sports with me, and drunk beer with me, and lunched and dinnered and partied and hung out with me. You've seen me tell jokes, and pick on people, and talk about my dog. So you already know I'm not funny. Just don't ruin it for the other people, all right? Keep it to yourself. They'll find out one way or another, but for now, don't say anything. I wanna let 'em down easy. Thanks. I appreciate it. Now get outta here before I start trying out material. You don't wanna be anywhere close by when that happens. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that. So shoo! Shoo!
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
But I Can't Play This Game... I've Gotta Go Watch That Game!
To err is human; to err online in front of the whole world, divine.
Heya, folks. Not a lot of time to talk right now.
I know, I know -- I had all afternoon. And much of the morning, for that matter.
But I had to take the dog to her training class, so she could be on Zoom.
And I really needed to get that document out to my friends, to ask about job opps.
And then my friend called -- you know, the one who had an extra ticket for the Patriots game tonight -- and he came over for a beer, and then it was time to pick the dog up from class.
(Okay, fine, it's 'doggie day care'. I call it 'training class' in a feeble effort to retain some small shred of dignity about the whole affair. But no. It's 'day care'. Go ahead and laugh. I should just go ahead and put a bow on the damn dog's head and skip her up and down the block, singing, 'The Good Ship Lollipop', all right?
There, are you happy? I've come clean. I know you're annoyed with me, but doesn't self-deprecating heart-pouring count for anything these days?)
So now I've got just a few minutes before another friend comes over, and we meet the first friend, and his girlfriend, and go marching off to Foxboro to see the Patriots and 'da Bears'. There's really not much time to say anything meaningful, I'm afraid.
Clearly, I didn't think my schedule out well enough this morning.
I'm not much of a planner, you see. I generally fly by the seat of my pants through life (which I've found is far more productive than flying around by the crotch of my pants, not to mention far less messy), and on most days, most things get done. Most of the time, anyway. Or at least the 'mission critical' tasks -- sleep, food, water, fantasy sports. The important stuff.
But today, I forgot to leave time for blogging. I kept thinking, 'I'll do that next', and then 'next' never happened. So here I am, hurriedly blitzing words onto the screen, with little planning and even less time. The game's at eight, so I probably won't even get back until one am or so. And in no shape to put fingers to keyboard in any meaningful way, if only from exhaustion and grilled meat overdose.
So, I'm afraid you'll have to make do with this. It's not much, but it's all I can offer you, and it's written with love. Or anxiety, and possibly even an upset stomach, which together can often feel a lot like love.
See? See what I'm saying? I don't even know what the hell that last paragraph meant. See what happens when I work without a net? Damn my unorganized ways!
Okay, there's my buddy now. We've gotta jet over to pick our other friends up, and then it's off! To, um, sit in traffic for an hour, most likely. Still, as soon as I post this, the adventure begins in earnest. Even crawling along the turnpike is exciting, when you're in Adventure Mode. So I'll have to talk to you again tomorrow, when I've got more time. (Don't tell anyone, but I'm even planning a bit of a surprise. I'm not sure it'll work out, so don't spread the news around too far. I'll let you know tomorrow if it's going down.)
Until then, kick back and relax. Check out some other cool blogs, or turn on the telly. Maybe you'll even catch me at the Pats game. I'll be the one with a beer in his hand and hamburger all over his face, screaming like an idiot on fire for the home team. And oh yeah, I'm wearing a green shirt. Gotta give you some way to pick me out of everyone else who's there. See you tomorrow! Go Pats!
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Bringing the Joy of Music to People Who Really Wish I Wouldn't
WARNING: Keep away from eyes and mouth. If ingested, induce vomiting immediately.
Okay, so now I've gone and scared myself with my own tagline, just a little. Must be leftover drilled-in paranoia from those Mr. Yuck stuckers way back when. You'd think I'd be over it by now. Especially after seeing the little green guy who posed as Mr. Yuck also appear on the Hitchhikers' Guide cover, and later -- with a bit more makeup -- in the Grinch cartoon. But, no -- that little green bastard will always be Mr. Yuck to me. Sorry, dude -- I guess you're just typecast. Hollywood's a bitch.
All right, on to happier things. I made another CD run yesterday. (You'd be surprised how not having a job leaves so much time to go out and buy things. Or, um, maybe you wouldn't. I suppose it's pretty obvious, come to think of it.) And once again, waves of nostalgia washed over me until I was left exhausted, waterlogged and drippy, and with a few dozen dollars' worth of new old music. I started out as I usually do, rummaging through the used CDs looking for that elusive Call or old Beat Farmers nugget. And, as usual, I forgot about ninety percent of the CDs on my 'want list', and ended up flipping through the 'Various' piles of letters that seemed promising. Take 'S', for instance. Your typical 'Various S' used CD stack in a large store might hold such gems as the Sugarcubes, the Spoons, Squeeze, and Joe Satriani. Which, if you're interested, I -- in order -- already have, already have, never really got into, and have pretty much gotten over. (These are just examples, folks -- I can't tell you what I really want, or you'll go buy it before I get there. I know how you people are.)
So, I came up largely empty. I did finally pick up the Foo Fighters disc that came out three or four years ago. (Yes, I'm just that cutting edge, people. Jump back!) I also decided it was worth taking a chance on the Deep Blue Something CD that includes the song 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'. Okay, I'm not sure what hold that song has on me -- there's really no good reason that I should like it, but I do. Maybe it has some sort of dirt on me, or incriminating naked pictures of me; I can't really say. I just know that I like the song, despite my best efforts. This shit happens from time to time -- you've all got those sugar-pop bands that you don't want to like, but you just can't help yourself. You know you do, so stop your snickering, all right? And just because my list of 'What the Hell? Bands' also includes A-ha, Real Life, and Naked Eyes doesn't give you license to point your bony little fingers at me, either. At least I never owned a Tiffany CD, or bopped to Menudo, Hansen, or N'Sync, all right? Yeah, that's right. I thought that'd shut most of you up.
Anyway, I'm not sure I'd normally go for the 'one hit wonder' band like that, unless I knew more about them, but I couldn't really resist. The CD -- full-length, mind you -- was forty-nine cents. Cents! As in pennies. I mean, c'mon, people -- you can find forty-nine cents in the crack of your ass if you dig hard enough. That's chump change.
(Okay, really nasty chump change, if that's really where you get it from. And just because I brought it up doesn't mean I recommend that particular method of gathering coins. You're likely to find many, many loathsome and horrifying things before you accumulate forty-nine cents from way up in there. I'm just saying it's possible. That doesn't mean you should run right home and lube up to give it a shot, all right? Let's keep some minimum air of decorum around here, shall we?)
So, what I'm trying to say is, the thing was cheap. Dirt cheap, so I bought it. And I walked around with a couple of other selections for a while, until I saw it -- the reason I'd walked into that store that day, without even knowing it: a two-CD box set of early They Might Be Giants, containing the self-titled disc and Lincoln, and B-sides from each album's singles.
'But wait! Don't order yet!' it screamed to me. Because there were also eight or ten bonus tracks on each CD. Bonus tracks, for the love of Christmas! Well, grease my weasel, I couldn't afford not to buy it, now, could I? That's seventy-two songs in total, on two discs! So I put back most of the other shit I'd picked out -- two-CD sets cost actual money, you see -- and stepped up and bought the sucker. Oh, I kept the Deep Blue Something disc -- forty-nine cents, remember -- and I held onto the Foo Fighters CD, too. Mainly so the checkout guy wouldn't think I was some retro-freaky Dr. Demento wannabe or something. I even put it on top, to avoid the checkout chit-chat that invariably ensues when I buy something really interesting. Without that one 'normal' purchase of a disc cut in the last ten years, I have to endure conversations like this:
Checkout Dude: Hey, there? You all set?
Me: Yep, I think so.
Checkout Dude: Okay, let's see... Big Country, the Alarm, and the Smithereens... Dude! Shouldn't you have your collar turned up and a skinny tie?
Me: Yeah, very funny. How much you makin' at this job, skippy?
Checkout Dude: Hey, hey, I'm just kiddin'. Man, you old people get so defensive.
Me: I'm not... all right, fine, I am old. But I'm not defensive! Just gimme my albums.
Checkout Dude: Heh. You mean CDs. *snicker* Look, I'm sorry. Here, I'll make it up to you.
Me: I don't know, man...
Checkout Dude: No, really. Look, I'll give you this Bananarama compilation. It's --
Checkout Dude: What? Oh, don't like them, eh? Okay, here's an old Phil Collins --
Me: No! Blech! Pfffft!
Checkout Dude: Okay, okay, wait. What else do I have? Um... let's see -- Huey Lewis and the News?
Me (running in circles holding my ears): La la la la la la la...
Checkout Dude: No? Uh, how about... Heart?
Me (twitching on the floor): Ack! Sppppt! Hrooooo!
Checkout Dude: Um, shit. Uh... Adam Ant?
Me: Ttthhhhhhhppp -- wait. Adam Ant, or Adam and the Ants?
Checkout Dude: There's, um, a difference?
Me: Well, sh-yah! Which is it?
Checkout Dude: It's, er, Adam and the Ants.
Me: 'Stand and Deliver' on there?
Checkout Dude: Uh... yeah.
Me: Sold. Here's your cash. Thanks.
Checkout Dude (waving as I leave): Okay, thanks for shopping with us. Enjoy reliving your wasted youth, old dude!
Clearly, no one wants to have to go through that, least of all me. On the other hand, I actually don't have that Adam and the Ants disc. Maybe I should add it to the 'wish list', assuming I can find it somewhere for a quarter or so.
Anyway, back to They Might Be Giants. This was actually quite a major find for me, for reasons that may not be immediately obvious. You see, when I was a senior in high school, I got to work as a DJ at the local college radio station. I had a two hour slot every week, and got called in occasionally on weekend mornings when the regular guy was too hungover to get his shit together. It was a fun gig, and I got to be silly on the radio, and take requests, and generally pick and choose what I wanted to play, as long as most of it was from the 'heavy' or 'medium' rotation bins.
But the really cool part was that I could come in anytime I wanted and tape whatever I could get my grubby paws on. So, of friggin' course, I did. I spent hour after hour pulling down obscure songs and artsy crap from bands that no one had ever heard of then, much less now. On the other hand, I had the coolest fucking musical tastes of anyone I knew. While the mindless drones around me were dimming their bulbs with Starship and Bon Jovi and Whitney Houston and Great White Lion Snake, or whatever the hell they were called, I was gettin' down with the Waxing Poetics and the Long Ryders and the Del-Lords and the Throwing Muses and Wire Train and the Replacements and Husker Du and a thousand other kick-ass bands that could run circles around the mega-station saccharine crap that was passing itself off as pop at the time. Or now, for that matter.
So, of course, just as I got onto a They Might Be Giants kick because of their odd, quirky, bohemian style and nonsensical lyrics, I went off to college. In Kentucky. To a tiny little pissant liberal arts school, in a tiny little pissant town, where eighty percent or so of the students came from inside the state. (Or as I liked to tease them with, 'So you loaded up the truck and moved to uni-ver-si-ty, eh, Clem?') In any case, it wasn't exactly a Mecca for alternative music. Or any music, for that matter, unless you count 'blowin' jugs' and spoons as legitimate instruments. Which I might, if they're not used in songs about dogs or trucks or 'mah woman leavin' me'. Sadly, though, those were just about the only types of songs around the place, at least until I came along with my bootleg tapes and alterna-rock.
Now, you have to understand -- these folks weren't 'mildly resistant' to my brand of musical entertainment. These were real live country music bumpkins. They paid homage to 'Hank', and 'Hank Junior', and 'Boz' and "Bocephus'. Some of which may have been the same person; I really never asked for the 'long version' of those sorts of things. And their god, apparently, was this 'Garth' something-or-other; at the mere mention of his name, the moonshine jugs would come out and they'd fly into some complicated synchronized square-dancing thing that resembled a small village of halfwit cowpokes trying to shake waterbugs out of their boots.
Honestly, I never really understood what the hell they were doing, or why the hell they'd want to listen to that twangy, drawly crap when there were so many people out there with normal voices (and unrelated parents) playing actual instruments and making music you could rock to. Or think about, or even just tap your toes to, appreciatively. But those yahoos stood by their 'gettin' drunk music', and wore their boots and watermelon-sized belt buckles, and blared that shit at every opportunity. They knew what they liked -- to their credit, I suppose -- and they wouldn't stand for anything different. Oh, Skynyrd was okay, and a dose of Charlie Daniels wouldn't kill 'em every once in a while, but everything else was just so much cow shit to them. Billy Idol? 'Punk ass bitch. Needs a haircut,' they'd say. Bruce Springsteen? 'Pussy.' Poison, or Ratt? 'They'd get their ass kicked in a real hoedown.' And so it went.
And that's where I came in, with shit they'd never even dreamed of, and They Might Be Giants in heavy rotation. And once I found out how much it annoyed the piss out of most of them? Well, that was about all I played for the first year, until I finally relented and obsessed over Pearl Jam for a while. But in the meantime? It was all 'Youth Culture Killed My Dog' and 'Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head' and 'Toddler Hiway'. It was fucking spectacular, people. After a while, I got them exactly where I wanted them -- well, the immediate neighbors in my dorm, anyway -- and they'd beg, 'Please, please, anything but that! Play anything else!' So I'd dig out Camper van Beethoven and poke 'em with 'Where the Hell Is Bill?' or 'Take the Skinheads Bowling'. Yay! Fun with slope-browed goobers!
So, I'd like to say that I turned some of them on to better music. Even one. But I'm afraid I can't. We coexisted as best we could for four years, and then I scrambled off to civilization, leaving them with their 'Sweet Home Alabama' and their 'Poop Chute Boogie', or whatever it was called. I'm pretty sure none of my good medicine 'took' with any of them. Still, you never know. Maybe, just maybe -- out there on the farm somewhere -- there's a guy my age, sittin' in his overalls, milking Ol' Bessie (yes, I'm hoping that's his cow, and not his wife or daughter or sister, and certainly not his pet name for Mr. Wiggles). And just maybe, when the wind blows just right through the trees, without even knowing what he's doing, he starts humming 'Ana Ng' or 'Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes'. Maybe even 'Chess Piece Face', though that would be wicked hard to hum, under any circumstances. Anyway, something that he heard from me, and thoroughly despised, and yet now is stuck somewhere in the back of that thick skull.
And now, I've got the originals again, on CD and laid down as MP3s, so I can sing along with his absent-minded humming. And that makes me Happy™, in a very big way. This is what I mean when I say I want to make a difference in people's lives -- I'm really looking to slip cool shit into the subconscious minds of people that would be simply aghast if they knew what the fuck was happening. Ideally, it'll eventually dawn on them, and they'll go nuts trying to figure out what the hell it is, who put it there, and how they're going to get it out. But even that's not necessary. Just knowing it's there is enough for me. Hey, maybe you feel the same way out there. If so, grab those They Might Be Giants CDs for yourself. I'm sure I infected somebody with those over four years in the backwoods, and now you're in on the joke, too. Grab the soundtrack, and you can sing along, too! Whee!
Monday, August 25, 2003
There Are Childhood Memories... And Then There Are Precious Childhood Memories
Where the trains of thought have no brakes, and the engineers are asleep on the job.
My dog may soon become a star.
Well, okay, not so much a star as an anonymous minor celebrity. And a local one, at that. Still, that's better than you or I are likely to achieve, unless you're one of those people who go heroically pulling children out of wells, or giving Heimlichs to random passersby. And even those sorts of selfless acts of bravery aren't guaranteed to bring you accolades, as I found out myself. (As it turns out, you don't get credit for a well rescue if you're the one who boots the kid in there in the first place. Also, people seem to appreciate a Heimlich hug somewhat less if you administer it when they're not actually choking. Pick, pick, pick.)
Anyway, my dog's already pretty well-known in certain local circles. She was one of a group of dogs featured in a small daily newspaper, and she's visited schools for children that are, um... what's the term I'm supposed to use this week? 'Differently abled'? I think that's it. And everybody -- I mean everybody -- who visits the training place where we leave her while we're at work just adores her. I can't get in and out of that place without some new person saying, 'Gosh, that's your dog? She's fantastic! What a sweet dog. I love her!'
Which is nice and all, but do each and every single one of them then have to look me up and down with that expression that says, 'Are you sure that's your dog, 'cause I can't see how a dingleberry like you could possibly have a dog so cool.' Thanks. No, really. Thanks so much. (That reminds me, I've really got to work harder on teaching her the 'bite 'em in the ass' command. You wouldn't believe what I have to go through to try to get that one across. Suffice it to say that it involves lots of peanut butter, a soft fluffy pillow in my pants, and lots of Bactine. And I don't want to talk about it any further. Or think about it, really.)
I suppose our puppy deserves all the attention. She is a very good pooch, and simply loves people. She's just about the friendliest, tail-waggingest, crotch-sniffingest pup you'd ever want to meet. (And nothing but nothing says, 'I love you' quite like '*SNNNNNNURF* Gee, your pubes smell terrific!' Truly, it's the international language.)
My only concern is that I haven't found a way to turn my dog's sunny disposition and (relatively) good manners into cold, hard cash. This is America, after all, where the national creed is 'Exploit first, ask questions later' ('E pluribus unum', my lily-white, rosy-cheeked ass. How many people even know what that means, do you think?) But she's too distractable to go into acting, and she doesn't really have the 'classic look' the dog photographers seem to dig. I've thought about loaning her out as a professional chick magnet -- if I were in the market for a lady friend, I would have had boatloads of opportunities to strike up a conversation, given all the cooing and stroking the dog gets from women on the street.
(Of course, that sort of thing wouldn't have really worked for me, even if I weren't already married. I was never able to talk to a woman that I didn't know, but wanted to know. You know, KNOW. Intimately and sweatily and, if all went well, moanily. Okay, so I didn't often think quite that far ahead, but I still found a way to psyche myself out to the point of slack-jawed babbling. (You think this shit is bad; you ain't seen nothin', folks.) So even if I'd had the dog way back when, I'm sure I'd have managed to mumble, fumble, stumble, and/or bumble my way out of lots of girls' pants. Or I'd have overcompensated and said things like, 'Yeah. I like to be petted, too!' or 'Boy, it must be nice to be able to lick yourself any time you want.' Which would eventually get me thrown in jail, I suspect. Where I might get more action, but not the kind I'm looking for. Though if I still had my ass pillow and Bactine, at least I'd have a fighting chance in there.)
So, anyway, the dog -- while very popular and a joy to have around, when she's not horkin' on the floor or playing peek-a-boo with skunks -- has cost far more money than she's made. Which is fine, I suppose, but she hasn't made any money. Not one red ugly-ass cent. Meanwhile, she's got food, and bones, and treats, and peanut butter, and toys, and beds, and all manner of grooming crap. And as I write, she's just lying here, rolled half over, not even trying to bring in the dough. Lousy shiftless bitch.
But all that may change soon. You see, our puppy may soon be featured on Zoom. I don't know whether you're familiar with this show. It's a for-kids, by-kids, with-kids kind of deal. Okay, so it's probably not by kids, since I don't remember the cameras shakin' all over the place, or the scripts littered with 'booger' and 'cootie' references. But there's a bunch of kids in it, and they... um, sing and play and talk to each other, I guess. It's been quite a while since I've actually seen the show, I have to admit. I discovered it when I was still pretty young -- maybe ten or twelve -- but probably a little too old to really appreciate the show for its entertainment or educational value. I'd already graduated from Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and had given up on most of the Electric Company. (Though the Spiderman and Letterman bits were still worth watching, if you didn't mind sitting through some counting and spelling and other learning crap.) So I didn't watch Zoom a lot, and when I did tune in, it was mainly to see what the cute girl with the freckles was up to that week. And it was never anything interesting, like 'striptease for beginners' or 'looking pouty for the camera'. So I lost interest pretty quickly.
(Okay, okay, so I probably wasn't really thinking about such things at the time. I was a little young to be having that sort of fantasy about a girl on a kids' show. That sort of thing came later, when I circled back to watch Shari Lewis and Lambchop. Sure, Shari was a little old for me at the time, but she beat the hell out of those ugly chicks on You Can't Do That On Television. (And yes, music fans, that was pre-Alanis, if you happen to think she was hot at fourteen or so.) And you gotta give Shari points for perk. Any woman with a voice like that and her hand up a lamb's ass is at least moderately hot, no matter how long she's been around. Am I right, guys?
And anyway, I soon got wind of the Spanish-language kids' shows, and turned over to those. Holy hell! Have you seen these things? They're all bikini girls and confetti and dancing. I don't know how the kids ever learn anything, but they kept me entertained, that's for damned sure. You know, I hear women say that Latin men are some of the most... how to say it, aggressive and enthusiastic lovers, to the point of being frenetic, and sometimes starting fires from all the static and friction and such. But can you really blame them? Shit, they're learning their ABC's and uno-dos-tres from strippers at age five. Their version of Mister Rogers models wears fuck-me pumps and tasseled pasties. I think I'd be a little anxious for the rest of my entire damned life, too!)
All right, let's whoosh back to Zoom for a moment.
So, on Wednesday the folks from Zoom are going to visit the place where our dog stays during the day. And she and one of the other pups are scheduled to help out with whatever the hell they're going to do there. I don't know -- I don't really have a lot of details. But I do know this -- there's a golden opportunity here. If this goes well, we can turn our penniless dog into a cash cow. Sure, we'll get nothing from the Zoom folks -- lousy public television non-profit goobers --- but maybe, just maybe, our pooch will steal the show. And maybe some local real TV exec will be watching the show with their small child, and he or she will be mesmerized by this street-smart, sophisticated drooly canine, and then things will really take off. How, I don't really know. The dog is still gonna be distracted by food, and the possibility of food, and shiny objects, and objects that might become shiny if someone would just clean them up and polish them. She's flightier than Logan Airport on Christmas Eve. She loses focus faster than my near-sighted absent-minded grandma sitting on her bifocals -- again. She's... well, I think you get the picture.
So maybe the dog won't become our ticket to the high life. Or maybe the Hollywood folks have some sort of training regimen, or wonder drug, that'll transform her into an alert, focused acting machine. Whatever. Either way, the pup's gonna be on Zoom, and that'll be fun to watch. I'm definitely gonna tune in, and probably get it on tape, too. Hey, I wonder if that freckly girl is still on there? That'd be cool. She'd be in her mid-twenties by now, at least -- maybe they'll have her do that striptease bit, after all! How cool would that be? Now if I can just get the producers to have her put on a sock puppet and talk in a high, squeaky voice while she's peeling down, then we'll be getting somewhere!
Sunday, August 24, 2003
The Eight-Year Itch -- Does Lightning Strike Twice?
100% natural blog from concentrate. Now available with extra pulp!
Well, that was quite a weekend. It's a damned good thing I don't have a job, folks, because if I did, I would at this very moment be trying to figure out an excuse for calling in sick tomorrow, just for the extra snoozies.
That's the beauty of getting a new job, of course. Your Excuse-O-Meter resets to zero, and all that lame shit you came up with to get out of work just melts away. In the blink of an eye, the wand is waved, and all of your imaginary 'car trouble' is but a distant memory. Your 'chickenpox', your dog's 'measles', and your wife's 'toe replacement surgery' are suddenly back in play, and ready to be used on a new set of managers. All those 'aunts' and 'uncles' and 'elderly grandparents' that you put in the hospital, or claimed were visiting, or conveniently killed off (shame on you!) are magically alive and well and ready to go through the wringer again. It's a beautiful thing. I can't wait to land a new job, so I can start making up reasons to miss work again. This sitting around on my ass because I'm supposed to is starting to get old.
See, most things in life are like that. When you're not supposed to be doing them, you want to. And when you are supposed to be doing them... well, that's usually when you're engrossed with some other thing that you're not supposed to be doing. It's the siren song of the forbidden fruit. The thrill of the guilty pleasure. Or, to put it simply, 'taboo is faboo'. (That one's a freebie, folks. Feel free to use it in your daily conversations.)
Actually, that same yearning for 'otherness' is what got me into my current profession in the first place.
(Well, not my current current profession, since I'm between jobs at the moment. I suppose my current occupation is probably holding my desk chair down on the floor with my ass. And, despite my best efforts to the contrary, I actually seem to be becoming rather an expert at this particular vocation. Not only do I put in eight-hour days, and then some, but my ass is actually getting heavier and wider, to better fill the position of 'Senior Chair Keeper-Downer, Internet Division'. I'm all for going that extra mile, people -- I was just never told that the mile would end up being the distance across my ass cheeks. That shit wasn't in the contract, you understand.)
Anyway, back to my latest profession of choice that actually paid money.
(Though, of course, if any of you are interested in sending me money for blogging, I'll certainly be happy to call this my profession. I'll even keep talking about my ass, if that's what you want. Send me cash, and it's all about what you want. Principles, shminciples. I'll make this the Ass Blog -- all ass, all the time. Two hundred channels, and there's nothing but ass on. Really. Hell, send me enough money, and I'll post pictures of my ass, in various unflattering positions. (Because that's really the only option when my ass is involved. The position hasn't yet been invented that will paint a pretty picture of my ass, I'm afraid. You can't get blood from a stone, folks. Or my ass, come to think of it -- that's just about where I draw the line. Pictures, yes. Bloodletting? A most emphatic, 'Stay the hell away from my ass, freakbag!!' We all have our limits.)
All right, let's put away the asses for a while, shall we? That was like a whole month's worth of ass in just a couple of paragraphs. You must be stuffed to the gills with ass by now. (Yes, I know -- I'm still doing it. Sorry. I just couldn't resist, once I had the mental image of a fish stuffed to the gills with ass. C'mon, that's funny! Close your eyes and picture it. See? Now aren't you happier I got that last assing in?)
So, anyway, I'm a computer programmer by trade. (I don't know who the hell I traded with, but I bet they got the better end of the deal. They're probably a bartender, or a circus juggler, or an astronaut, or something cool like that. Bastard.) But I wasn't always a coder. I'm actually trained as a research biologist. Four years' worth in college, and four years after that, as a matter of fact. And that's about all I could take, frankly. I started fiddling around with computers on the side, sneaking off to learn HTML, and bits and pieces of UNIX administration, and later real live coding, in real live languages like Java and Perl and SQL.
I left science because it got old. Research sounds cool and all, but it gets pretty repetitive and drab and dull. There's a reason scientists wear those pristine, plain white lab coats, and not clown gear, or bunny rabbit suits, or slick nylon pimpin' togs. All of those would work just as well -- or better -- at keeping nasty chemicals away, but scientists aren't known for their sense of humor. Or social skills. Or bathing habits, in many cases. No, biologists are there to 'figure shit out', and nothing else. Most of 'em wouldn't recognize a joke if it crawled up their ass and had a litter. Which probably is for the best -- with all the attention to detail and precise measurements and focused observations, you probably don't want someone who likes to go out on dates, or attend parties, or who's going to be distracted by the latest knock-knock gag. So clearly, I wasn't the man for the job, and I let myself wander into something more appropriate.
Which is not to say, 'ideal'. Computer nerds aren't really known for their eloquence or pith, either. (Sorry, is 'pith' even a word? I mean, 'pithy' has to have a non-adjective form, but that just doesn't look right. I always have trouble with 'pithy', anyway -- in my mind, all I can hear is Eric Cartman saying, 'Don't get all pithy, bitch!' Which is cool, but only rarely helps me with however I'm tryin' to use the word. Damn you, South Park!)
So, eight years in science, including school, and then I needed a change. So I went from being a science geek to a computer nerd. I traded in my taped-over-the-bridge thick glasses for a pocket protector and pants hiked up to my nipples. Joy. Still, the hours are better for programmers, and you can find the occasional code jockey who'll go out for beers now and then. (If you look hard enough, that is -- and I did. Who wants to drink alone?) So, if nothing else, I made it from the fire up to the frying pan. Whoop-te-doo.
And now, as I look back, I see that I've been slinging bits and bytes around for almost exactly eight years. The same span it took me to tire of science and lab work and cutting open mice to see what's inside. (Well, okay, I could never tire of that. Some things are fun, no matter what profession you're in.) And now I'm looking for a job. And wondering what I really want to do when I grow up. And blogging when I'm supposed to be looking for a job. Uh oh. I think I've been on this merry-go-round before.
What does it all mean? Honestly, I don't know. I just know that I owed you nice folks a post today, and I've filled up several paragraphs explaining how I got to this point. Where's the next stop? Computer squaresville? Maybe. Is there any other option? Dunno. After the weekend I've just had -- burgers and brats and comedy on Friday, an all-day, all-night pool party yesterday, and spending today walking around like a slack-jawed drool-dribbling zombie -- I think I'm just gonna have to sleep on it. I'll have more for you tomorrow, and hopefully it'll make more sense. This writing in a half-coma thing is tough, dude. But a few hours of rest will get me back on track, I think. And if not... well, you'll know what happened when I call up and tell you that I think I'm coming down with the chickenpox *cough*, or that my dog looks swollen and puffy and red. And God forbid I need more time to recover -- that's when the relatives start dropping dead, to buy me time. And I don't wanna put Aunt Gracie through that again.