Monday, August 30, 2010

How You Know You've Had a Great Vacation

When you walk back into work Monday morning, your boss says, "Welcome back. You didn't think you were getting paid for last week, did you? When I said you could have a week off, I just meant you could be gone," and you just smile and say, "Oops, I guess that was just a misunderstanding."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Take this job and...

Chewing the fat with the old man last night and he asks to our neighbor if she's ready to retire. She said she was mentally ready but not financially ready and I quickly added an "Aaaaaamen." He asked me "Yeah, but what would you do if you retired," clearly (because I know his points before he does) taking the angle of one of these people who say they tried to retire but were bored out of their minds, etc. If these people really exist, I am happy for them, but sure know I am not one of them. What would I do if I could retire? Whatever the f_*k I want, that's what.

I would exercise without time constraints, I would read the paper over breakfast, I would read all the books I want to read, see all the movies I want to see, travel the world, see all the family and friends I never get to see, learn my guitar, take various types of classes, write actual letters to people....I really could go on all day.

I realize I am kind of going back to my post not too long ago so I will keep it brief.

The thing is, his perspective is radically than mine, assuming he was agreeing with the "Who, me? Retire?" crowd. His job is meaningful. As I am finally reading Outliers, as I pledged, the author defines a meaningful job as having three criteria: "complexity, autonomy, and a relationship between effort and reward in doing creative work." His job meets all three and God bless him for that. My perspective, however, is quite different. You could argue there's complexity, but really, I am so used to it, I could do it in my sleep by now. As for the latter two, not by any stretch of the imagination.

The author goes on to say something that might be completely obvious even out of context, but it struck a chord with me.

"Hard* work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig."

I long...I yearn...I ache to dance that jig.

*I would argue that the same could be said for easy work and that easy work considered a prison sentence, in its own way, is as painful as hard work.


I feel I am a man on edge. These last couple days I can feel my fuse shortening and everytime somebody comes near me with a proverbial matchstick, I am afraid they are going to be the one that gets burned when I finally explode.
I couldn't tell you why, not definitively anyway. Sure, there have been a couple situations at work or with the folks that could have motivated this sour mood of mine, but I can't say for sure whether it was those negative experiences that caused my fed-up-edness or my preexisting angst that painted those encounters in such a negative light.
I know if I allow this tension to continue to build, that an explosion, while bringing an instant of relief, will only be outweighed by the aftermath of guilt, apologies, and reparations. So what then. The wine apparently isn't working. I've got tennis tonight. If I play well, there is hope that might help to turn this thing around. If not, there is a growing chance I may go McEnroe. Beyond that, I may resort to sitting in the dark and listening to mellow music. Maybe a nice long walk and a series of deep breaths. Is this what yoga is for?
At least I can recognize it. That way, I can at least try to turn the heat down when my blood starts boiling. Then again, maybe this method of swallowing anger and frustration is only what causes this backup of the emotional pipes. Maybe if I allowed the occasional controlled burn, I could avoid these impending 500-acre brushfires. Three consecutive metaphors! Look out, I'm on a roll!
Then again, maybe the problem is not me. Maybe all these little things that are driving me to the brink of sanity are not overreations at all. Perhaps it's a weird coincidence that all these injustices and episodes of rudeness are all happening to me in a short span of time and my handling of the situation is actually more well-adjusted than the next guy's would be. Yeah, let's go ahead and rule this theory out immediately.
Deep breath. Count to ten. Hear the music. "Smell the sea and feel the sky."
Thank God I am off next week. Heading for the heartland. This trip, for me anyway, could not have come at a better time. It might just save me from the straight jacket.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And in other, more interesting news...

The Fall Seasonals Are Here! The Fall Seasonals Are Here!
Ohhhh, my friends. What a sumptuous surprise to stumble upon during a lunch break Ralph's run. My heart leapt, my loins sunk, my stomach remained fairly stable, considering. The Sam Adams Octoberfest brew! The New Belgium Hoptober! There was even a liter bottle of some Sierra Nevada seasonal brew that I'd never even heard of! It bore a burnt sienna label with a stream and golden leaves! In the voice of Terrence Mann, Autumn will come, Ray. Autumn will most definitely come. You probably noticed that the six-pack of Sammy pictured above is resting atop a twelve-pack. If I told you that it was a seasonal brew combo-pack, you'd probably tell me how those are a ripoff because they always sneak in some disgusting curveball brew like "Cranberry Lambec." I would agree with you, but today, my friends, I am thrilled to report that we would both be wrong. For this combo-pack was solid throughout. Of course, you realize this is only the beginning, the first whiff of smoke signaling the raging fire of Fall still to come. Why just looking at that photo above, I was moved to imbibe a hot mug of chai tea with peanut butter toast, finally willing to entertain that my most sacredly loved of seasons was almost here again.

I Just Don't Get It

Why do some people waste so much of their time on the so-called guilty pleasure entertainment, i.e. really really shitty, brain-sucking, soulless, depraved reality shows? When there is so much good stuff to watch, read, or listen to and so little time to get to it all, who can consistently waste time with the garbage?

Now hold on a second. I understand the value of mixing in a little kitsch. I am not saying I am Mr. All-High-Art-All-The-Time, not even close**. I understand that, even though you know it's bad and bad for you, sometimes you just want Taco Bell. I get that sometimes you'll come across a bad movie on cable, but it's a fun bad movie because maybe you used to watch it growing up or maybe you just feel like not thinking for a while. I get it and I am right there with you.

No, what I am talking about are the folks who watch nothing but the crap. I know a couple very intelligent people who love to laugh at the absurdity of the celebrity gossip that Yahoo "News" gives the weight of global warming. They enjoy watching "Jersey Shore" or the latest Kardashian calamity if only to revel in how tasteless it is. But here's the thing, as far as I can tell, the crap is not offset by more valuable venues visited the majority of the time. They're not reading the New York Times or catching up on "Mad Men" and then clicking over to "TMZ" for a little levity. As far as I can see, and I have been paying attention, it's all-asinine-all-the-time. Don't you see that it's never going to stop if you keep looking at it?!

WHY?!?!?!?! It's maddening, isn't it?

**For evidence that I am not playing the snobby high-brow card, see previous post.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Not Expendables

In honor of last weekend's top box office grosser, I would like to list my top ten action movies featuring cast members of "The Expendables," or, as it turns out, my top ten Stallone/Schwarzenegger/Willis action movies. You will notice that none of the "Rocky" series appears on this list because I don't think they really classify as action movies. They are boxing movies, their own genre.

10. Tango & Cash - great chemistry, genuinely funny moments, a kickass 4x4, and Jack Palance as the bad guy

9. Commando - "Remember when I said I'd kill you last?....I lied."

8. Predator - "Come on, I'm here! Kill me! Do it now!"

7. Cobra - The toothpick, the muscle car, the laser-pointer aiming a truly scary villain.

6. Rambo: First Blood Part II - Probably didn't invent the "gear-up" sequence, but did it as well as anyone. They even carried it over to the cartoon.

5. Die Hard 2: Die Harder

4. The Running Man - Watch this movie and tell me we are not three years away from this actually happening.

3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day - I don't think this one has aged very well, unfortunately. Edward Furlong's whiny brat John Connor is tough to take.

2. True Lies - Three words: Jamie. Lee. Curtis.

1. Die Hard - "Yippe ki-yay, motherfucker."

Friday, August 13, 2010


Tomorrow morning, me and a couple of my guys are embarking on perhaps the greatest double feature pairing in recent memory.

10:10 a.m. "The Expendables" followed by a 12:30 "The Other Guys" with a beer in between.

Does it get any better than that? I don't think so. Wooooooooooo!

On the flip side, one of my coworkers is doing "Eat, Pray, Love"* and "Charlie St. Cloud," perhaps only to prove there is a yin to my yang.

*Do I want to see "Eat, Pray, Love?" Of course. But come on, "Expendables" first.

On a side note, I recently gave a guy friend my favorite book as a gift. I came this close to giving him "Eat, Pray, Love" as well, not having read it myself but based solely on the subject matter. In the nick of time, I saw that the opening lines of the book are her begging to be kissed by a guy named Antonio. Wow, that was a close call. Can you friggin' imagine?

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Rebel Without a Claus

I know it's August.

I know it is 75 degrees out.

I know there is still a month and a half of baseball to be played.

I know it's still fashionably acceptable to be wearing linen shirts and white pants.

I know all these thing. And I do embrace them.

But I just listened to a Christmas song*, intentionally and in its entirety.

Because I just needed it, that's why. I might listen to three more by days' end. Sorry, coworkers.

*Ironically, my selection was Johnny Mathis' version of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Sometimes it's the little things.

Ever since we moved in, we've been living with this ceiling fan in the dining room. It's not a bad looking model, but it's still a ceiling fan, which confounds me as to why it was ever installed in a dining room.

"Gee hun, my soup is just too darned hot. Would you mind cranking on the ceiling fan for me?"


"(Groan) Ohhh! Look at this table! It's covered in dust!"

"But we're out of Pledge and paper towels and our guests will be here any minute!"

"Fear not, kitten. I know exactly what to do..."

Suffice to say, we never used the thing. Not even for light as it had some godawful energy-saving, ambiance-sucking fluorescent-looking bulb inside it. Lighting was a real challenge actually. Candles are nice, but sometimes you want a nice, soft glow without the romance, ya know? Sometimes you want a casual warmth as opposed to a seductive warmth and we could never find the right balance using the other lamps around the room.

Last night, it all became moot. Our lighting crisis was zapped to oblivion with the snap of a breaker. Thirty minutes of observed labor and awkward conversation later, and we had a brand new chandelier installed! But wait, that's not all. Are you ready for this? We also had the electrician install.......(drum roll).......a dimmer! A dimmer! My kingdom for a dimmer! Man oh man, I wanna tell you....

That chandelier really ties the room together. I just laid down and stared at it. Casual warmth up the wazoo! And really, slide it down a quarter inch more, light a couple peripheral candles and, boom, seductive warmth. Romanza bonanza.

I just wonder why it took us this long to see that the solution was so simple, as obvious as a riddle that kids get in two seconds when their parents rack their brains for hours. No matter, the new era is here now. The new Era of (Dining Room) Enlightenment.


Then there's the shower caddy. Eureka! What a marvel of efficiency and practical design! I'm not talking about the shower caddy as a concept. That's old news, of course. I'm talking about the new one we just installed after the old one rusted out. I tell ya, nothing pleases me like outstanding organization in the shower and they really made a quantum leap forward with this model. I can see they did their homework. It's like they read my mind or could sense my frustration with the various shower elements hanging out all over the place like a big lady in a small bra. The shampoo is held tight against the wall, no longer free to fall forward, impeding the stream and spraying water everywhere! Never again will the slippery soap slide off its perch into the waters below! There is now a lip corralling it like with the pride of a sheppard.

Everything in its place, my friends. Everything in its place.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hello? Hello? Is anybody there?

I have been sitting at my desk doing absolutely nothing for the last three hours. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Wait, I did send a few business emails. So I got that going for me. For the last half hour or so, my boss's door has been closed and my two coworkers have disappeared. Save for the occasional remote cough or the snap of a stray binder closing, there is dead and utter silence. I am tempted to put my head down at my desk or blast some music, as much for my own enjoyment as to prove a point. Maybe I'll just scream. I am alive here! I wonder how many people across the world right now are sitting at their desks, staring at their monitors, and wondering, like me, if time has frozen still or if they have become invisible. I've got a big book order on the way. Perhaps I'll start reading in such times of despair. Maybe we should get a bird. At least then I would have someone to talk to. You know what would be great? If we had a bar downstairs in the lobby. In times like these, who could fault a sane man for stealing away for a quick beer and a few minutes of a ballgame. Great, I'm being driven to drink at work. This could be the beginning of the end. Ha! Like there is ever going to be an end!

(Fifteen minutes later)

After talking to my friend Christine for a few minutes, I feel a little better. Still, when the door closes behind me today, the radio is going up and my voice is going hoarse.