Sunday, April 30, 2006

This Is The Coolest Wrapping Paper Ever

Happy Fucking Whatever!

Welcome To The Suburbs, We've Got Fun And Games

I have it on good authority that a right-wing ideologue may be attempting to infiltrate my neighborhood. More on this alarming development as it progresses.

Blake, dude, you need an editor! The site looks great. Very clean. (Though shit that HAS AN ARROW POINTING TO IT should be clickable, because that's how we're all conditioned. I know it's brand spankin' new and you've got a lot on your plate and all but really...) And the copy needs help. Big-time. Feel free to cut-and paste.
Do you have a website, has your site not been updated in months or years. The Internet is one of the greatest resources that your business or ministry can have. Blakehelms.net is commited to giving you an attractive, functional and affordable website. We specialize in the DotNetNuke content management system and can customize it for your needs. Send us an email and see what blakehelms.net can do for you.
...should read:
Blakehelms.net is committed to bringing affordable, attractive, and functional web design to ministries and businesses everywhere. We use the DotNetNuke content management system to create customized websites that make our customers a lively part of the evolving conversational economy of the Internet.
OK, I used the word "evolving" just to piss you off. But "conversatioinal economy" is a mental hook, because folks will wonder, "what does that mean? I kind of get it, but..." and then you'll have created SPACE IN THEIR HEAD, and that translates into work=$$$. Let's continue.

About Us
Blakehelms.net offers quality web design using the latest in technologies and software. We can help you realize your dream of a quality web presence. We also offer graphics design and can help you create letterhead, advertising material and any other graphics design needs. We also offer computer services in the Birmingham, Alabama area. Click the contact link on the left to get in
formation on your specific needs.

...should read:
For the latest in web design and graphic design, choose blakehelms.net. If you're in Birmingham, AL, we also provide a wide range of on-site computer services! Your side of the conversation starts at blakehelms.net.
See where I'm going with this? And so forth:

Services
Blakehelms.net is a new company specializing in computer media and web design services. We aim to create an attractive functional presence on the internet.A few of the services we provide are:

* ASP.NET Development: Using the new 2.0 framework we can build sites that are very functional, easy to update and maintain and can interface with existing database to ensure a seamless workflow.
* Content Managment: using the popular DotNetNuke custom managment system your website will never have been so easy to update.
* Shopping Cart Intergration: Why lose sales because you can't buy online. Turn you site into a twenty-four hour sales-force.
* For Ministries: blakehelms.net was founded on helping church ministries fuel their message through the power of media and technology. Don't fall into the age old stereotype of bad church web design let us give you a new online presence.

We have also partnered with M6.net to offer reliable quality website hosting.
should be more like:
blakehelms.net gives your ministry or business an attractive, functional, and securely-hosted website that integrates the Internet into the fabric of your firm.
OK, I got carried away. Let's try again.
blakehelms.net offers your ministry or business an attractive, functional, and affordable suite of computer media and web design services. We use ASP.NET and DotNetNuke to make sites that are elegant and easy to use -- for you and your customers. With our partner, M6.net, we offer secure, reliable and responsive web hosting. We were founded on providing great websites for ministires, and we continue to excel at bringing a lively online presence to churches everywhere.
And where did you crib your privacy statement from? I want one of those.

Buy the townhouse. You'll like it.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Free, At Least; Free At Least, Thank The Courts I'm Free, At Least

I'm THROUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I secured completion certificates from the CRO today, meaning I'm through with this shit, and I have to wait another two weeks or so to present the documents to the judge. Hooray! Everyone, spark one up for me! As soon as you read this! HOO-HAW!

Let's be clear, though, since it seems my previous links to "knowing how your neighbor is growing marihuana" have been pulled by YouTube (bastards!)and I fear that the hits I got from that link were from law enforcement instead of freethinkers: I do not smoke marihuana. I do not know anyone who smokes marihuana. Nor do I know anyone who speeds, rolls stopsigns, or masturbates. Everyone I know is knee-deep in conformity and placidly staring at their shoes. Thank you for listening.

Huh huh huh. You said, "masturbates".

Punctuation makes shit funnier, at least to me.

In the interest of full disclosure, the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor recently suggested to me that we hold a protest in front of the DEA offices, because the first week of May has been declared "Medical Marijuana Week" by what she terms "the activist community." She goes on to suggest that having someone dressed up as a Big Joint might be a Good Idea.

I demur.

OK, I agree, as long as the person in the big joint outfit IS NOT ME. I am a sissy, a coward, a craven dog quivering in the corner. I would no more wear a Big Joint outfit in front of DEA headqaurters than I would blog on teh infraweb about my apathy and subsequent ennui....

Waitaminit.

No, Loretta, I still won't do it. I am, however, willing to be your amanuensis. I'd also spend a lot of time calling the kind of small Alabama newspaper that I used to write for, and asking them if they wanted an interview with a gubernatorial candidate. Inevitably, they'll hook you up with a 22YO graduate of Englishness and you can proceed to snow them. I mean, tell them the truth.

Same diff.

Hire me, I'll make us immortal.

OK, at least memorable. I mean, what do we want to get out of this campaign, really? We aren't going to win, though we should play like we will. We may not even get on the ballot, because Alabama makes it extra super-duper hard for third-party candidates.

What say we throw caution to the wind and tell the truth? Let's be completely honest, something no politician has done since the days of Rome. When we don't something, we'll say, "I don't know. How can I find out more about X?" When we have differences of opinion, we'll say, "The Libertarian Party generally belives X, but I think Y makes more sense, because Z." Or not, depending.

Let's be the Voice of Ambivalence -- "you know, both these options make sense. If only there were a third option..." Let's admit our lack of formal knowledge and show folks how that's a wise way of evaluating stuff: we don't have preconceived notions or invisble lines of Pull attached....

I've run out of inspiration. G'night.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Cross Your Fingers

Meeting later today with the Court Referral Officer for what is hopefully the last time. I'm going to show him my shiny certificate of completion from brainwashing class and the receipt showing I've paid off the balance of my fines. The $5000 nightmare is soon to be over -- I still have to go back to court on the 17th of May and show the judge exactly the same documents I'm showing the CRO tomorrow, but that's more or less a formality.

Mom didn't want to go to The Bright Star -- we had Mexican food, at a new place called El Paisanos that was actually pretty good. Average guacamole, but for some reason the tacos were excellent. And tacos are generally not excellent, you know? Usually they're just....well, tacos. The flan was tasty, too. Mom had chicken enchiladas. What a boring post.

Wish I were off work tomorrow...I mean, later today....

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Administrative Professionals Day Sucks

Happy Secretarys Day! I mean, Administrative Professionals Day. OK, it was Thursday, and this post will be tagged Friday but it's still Thursday to me because I just got home from a 12-hour-long clusterfuck.

It's one of the busiest lunch days of the year, so the Powers That Be in their infinite wisdom decide it would be a perfect time to roll out our new menu, institute a new uniform policy, and update our POS system.

Heh.

The wrong database gets loaded, so right as the doors open and a bunch of hungry women brandishing gift cards come pouring in the whole system crashes, and when it is restored, all the prices are wrong and all the menu items are written in some sort of garbled shorthand. I didn't know we had a location in Serbia!

Fortunately, the Big Boss is on hand to help. He spends the whole shift in a corner booth hiding behind his laptop with a cell phone plugged to his ear, as far from the crashing kitchen as he can get and still physically remain inside the restaurant. Thanks for your help, pal.

I end up running food, as there is no bar business and we have eleventy dozen servers on the floor (if this is so, why can't they run their own damn food? Oh, yeah, because it's taking TEN minutes to ring up a check).

Ticket times peak at about thirty minutes. For people with 45-minute lunch breaks (I notice you can't call it a "lunch hour" anymore). Great.

After the rush dies down, we stop to assess. "That wasn't as bad as it could have been," the GM comments. I ask if I can share some of the crack he's obviously been smoking. On reflection, though, he's right. No one walked out and comps were amazingly low considering how inefficient we were. Not bad. Maybe it's the snazzy new uniforms, which feature NAMETAGS!

Later in the day, I'm handed a sheet of paper and asked to sign it. It states that I have received my nametag, a copy of the new employee handbook, and have been informed of the new uniform policy. I politely demur, noting that I haven't received a nametag or a handbook, nor have I been informed of the new uniform policy, so it would not be in my best interest to sign something averring these falsities. I am Frowned Upon By Management. I shrug. Get me a nametag and a handbook, and tell me about the uniforms, and maybe then I'll sign it. They should know me better than that by now!

Dinner was slow, the usual suspects dined at the bar and we watched "Lost" which was a summary episode. Right when it got to the part of the plot I needed to catch up on, my printer went crazy and I had to make batches of rum runners (1 oz dark rum, 1/2 oz blackberry brandy, 1/2 oz creme de banana, grenadine, sour mix, float 151, garnish with a flag and a lime wheel) so I missed it. The usual suspects were kind enough to clue me in.

Enough. I must sleep. Tomorrow is Mom's 81st birthday! I'm taking her to lunch at the restaurant of her choice -- I hope she picks The Bright Star. Yum.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In Which I Write A Christian Essay

Carl's freaking out. His paper is due tomorrow, and he has no clue how to begin, or even what he thinks about the topic. He enlists my aid, and since the guy has driven me home many many times over the past few months and he never lets me put gas in his car or buy him a beer (Carl, if you're reading this, I know you prefer white zin -- you sissy), I figured I'd help him out with his paper.

Even though tomorrow is Secretary's Day and we have a 25-top booked at eleven AM and I'm working a double. If there is a God, please make it rain like a sonofabitch tomorrow...I mean later today.

The topic of his paper involves The Wittenburg Door, a publication heretofore unknown to me. Carl attends Southeastern Bible College. I'm appalled by the motto on their website: "Making A Difference, Impacting The World". Impacting? Like a tooth? Or a turd? Eeeeew!

I get over it, and on to business: the paper is about whether this school should subscribe to this publication. Pro or con, pick a position and defend it. I, of course, pick "pro", and I go on to elaborate the ways in which subscription to a magazine of gentle satire can help expand callow Christian minds before they are exposed to the harsh give-and-take of the secular world, thus making them more firm in their faith. Huh huh huh. I said "firm".

I rant and write for a good hour before Carl tells me his view is "con". Jesus fucking Christ dude, it's 1:30 in the morning and your paper is due at 8 and I've got to be at work at 10 you could have said SOMETHING! Carl politely ignores my blasphemy (is it blasphemy if you don't believe in the first place? I don't think so, but for the record, Zoroaster was a goat-fucking inbred moron) and tells me that my arguments are persuasive, he's into the big tent picture now. OK, cool.

But now I'm out of ideas and looking at my watch ('cause I have to blog this, you know, before I go to bed, you heartless bastards). I suggest we examine the idea of "satire" and how it applies to Christian thought.

I recommend sourcing Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and contrasting it with Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God".

Carl says, "Huh?"

I say, look, if you can't make fun of your own faith, it isn't worth believing. Carl tells me I'm an atheist, so what does that say about me? I suggest it's getting very late and I'm ready to go to bed and what little help he's getting from me is one "delete" away from evaporating.

I'm an asshole, and that didn't really happen, but it makes for good copy.

I end up writing less of his essay than he'd like, but more than I wanted to, and he leaves.

And I ponder what an excellent Christian apologist I'd be, and what that says about me and my commitment to atheism.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Net Neutrality

Congress wants AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast to decide which websites you get to see -- based on how much money they've paid to AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast. This is an outrage. Get involved and help stop the stupidity.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Downside Of Blogging

I had shelves lined with other people's prose while my best efforts
were buried on a Web site somewhere, underneath a lot of blah-blah about American Idol and my kitty cat.
Ouch! From an essay on Slate. I'd kinda been thinking the same thing, but I'm still in the early-romance phase of blogging, and since I've been lazy and unproductive as a writer for YEARS, blogging seems to be a decent way to get the juices flowing and at least get some immediate feedback (bad or good) that could prompt further words.

But blogging does not a writer make. It is way too easy (as my three regular readers have no doubt noticed) to just paste up a YouTube link or a funny ha-ha and not even make the effort to compose something. It also scratches the immediate itch -- it encourages quick response and little deliberation. That's bad and good. Often the first instinct a writer has is the right one, and I know I tend to get smothered in second-guessing if I don't get that first burst of words out on paper. But to be good at it requires discipline and a willingness to edit -- not something blogs excel at.

At which blogs excel.

SEE?

Why Does Blogger Hate Me So?

Why is my blog always stored on the hinky server? Publish, damn you, publish!

Groovy

OK, it shows that post as an Atom formatted XML site feed in the top half of the split-screen. Me likey. Let's see what else this thingie will do.....

This Is Only A Test

I just installed the Performancing Firefox extension and after mutliple balks over accepting my blogger ID it seems to be working, so I'll post this experimental entry and see if it does in fact do what it says it will do.

If you're having trouble getting this extension to play friendly with blogger, perhaps you should make sure you are completely signed out of blogger before trying to get back in via Performancing. Duh. That just wasted 10 minutes of my life. OK, let's see if it works. Should be kinda cool if it does.....

Drifts

I have nothing to squawk about right now, so here's a link to a sorta mesmerizing Flash game. Go and play.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Saturday, April 22, 2006

FDA Wants You To Suffer

Got AIDS? Got cancer? Want some relief? Well, don't look to your government for help. They just decided that all the scientists who told them that marijuana helped ease the pain of those life-threatening diseases were full of shit.

Why are we not up against the ramparts? Why are we not protesting every day against this absurd drug war that emprisons people and deprives families? Why do we put up with this shit?

In Which I Become Obsessed

I will post this link every day until ten people tell me it's the greatest pop song they've ever heard. THIS IS THE PERFECT SONG, people! C'mon, it's CCR meets the Replacements! I've been backing these guys for twenty years and they've finally written the GREATEST SONG EVER.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Redneck's Last Words

Heh. Jokes tell us something about ourselves, don't they?
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, GA
Associated Press
04/18/06

FORT PAYNE, Ala. - A Georgia man was hospitalized after jumping from the side of DeSoto Falls and plunging 150 feet before hitting the water.

The leap wasn't a suicide attempt since several witnesses reported that prior to the plunge, the man yelled, "Watch this," said Tim Whitehead, superintendent of DeSoto State Park.

Jason Carter, 23, of Trion, Ga., jumped from the east side of the canyon at about 3 p.m. Monday, Whitehead said. He was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn., after rescue personnel spent three hours removing him from the canyon. Carter, who was treated for a back injury, was reported to be in stable condition Tuesday.


Funeral for his brother will be held Wednesday. He was heard to say, "Oh, hell, I can do THAT" before plunging to his death.

Not really. But it's still funny.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Friend Jack (He's A Helluva Friend)

Lady just got back from a tour of the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, TN. She went with a friend whose goal in going was, "I'd better check on what these guys are doing with all the money I've given them over the years."

She brought back some whiskey, of course, in a special commemorative you-toured-the-distillery bottle. I taste. I don't like Jack Daniels, as a rule. I'm not a bourbon (sorry, "sour mash") drinker. I like Irish whiskey, and I like Canadian whiskey. Check that: I like Bushmills, and I like Crown Royal. Canadian Club will do if we're on a budget. No Jamesons, please, we prefer Northern Ireland. But this is different. It isn't cloyingly sweet, and it doesn't sit in your throat and coat your tongue like regular old No. 7 does. Could it be that this is actually Gentleman Jack, or the single-barrel stuff? I dunno. But it's pretty gamn dood. I think I'll have anoffer tashte.

Hey, Chilton-Shelby Mental Health Center: I'm enjoying a sip of whiskey! At home! Guilt-free! Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!

Run Buy This



"I've been fallin' so long it's like gravity's gone and I'm just floatin'." That just fuckin' slays me. Here's a link to the free MP3. This may be the perfect pop song.

Scar

From a Metachat thread called "Your worst or biggest scar":
I couldn't have been more than six or seven and Coke still came in little glass bottles and our basement had a cement floor and camel crickets in the dark, damp corners. The washer and the dryer were down there and I was helping Mom do laundry. I'd brought all the clothes downstairs and she and I had sorted them and stacked the loads of laundry in big plastic baskets. The cats were all over the place. We laughed at the kittens nosing through the dirty socks and soiled towels. Mom said I did a good job, and she gave me a Coke from the little fridge Dad kept downstairs full of Miller beer and Coca-Cola.
I ran toward the stairs to go back to my room and the bottle slipped from my grasp and then there was a crash and a fizzy dark stain was spreading across the cement floor and I thought maybe camel crickets like Coke and they'll all come running hopping hurrying toward this unexpected treat so I kneeled down to start cleaning up and damn near took my kneecap off with a curving shard of Coke bottle.
I don't remember it hurting. I remember little red dots appearing on a newly pink section of knee. I remember kneeling in fascination, watching the dots well up and run together and then it was just a big bloody hurt and do camel crickets have a taste for human blood? Mom must have heard me scream, then, because she was there and a towel still warm with the snuffles of Siamese kittens was wrapped over my wound and I was borne upstairs wailing to the iodine and hydrogen peroxide and I learned to always look before you kneel in broken glass, if you are small, and wearing shorts, and you are afraid the crickets will get you.

I'm forty now, and I still have a small scar on my right knee. It's about an inch long and shaped like an upside-down teardrop. We moved out of that house when I was fourteen, and I took a Polaroid picture of a bloodstain on the concrete floor of the basement. On the bottom of it I wrote, "I HATE CRICKETS."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Waiter Rule

Found this on Waiter Rant.

Pay attention, people!

What Is WRONG With You People?

I know it wasn't me. I've gone over it in my head a dozen times, and I know it wasn't anything I said or did or failed to say or do. So don't start pointing fingers until I'm through.

Some assholes better learn how to tip. With a quickness. See, I remember faces and names, and y'all paid with credit cards. And then left me sub 10% tips. After smiling in my face and telling me how great everything was. Don't come back, that's my advice. Just stay the fuck away, and all will be well. Go make some other bartender miserable by running his ass off for limes for your fucking glass of water and then complaining when I put a lemon twist in an Absolut Citron martini. What garnish do you think it gets, freakazoid? Oh, you want olives. Well, aren't you special. Don't raise an eyebrow at me while holding your glass aloft, either, becuase I was just struck with hysterical blindness and I'm completely unable to see that corner of the bar...because the people who are TIPPING are sitting elsewhere.

Cheap fuckers. Hope they go skydiving with discount parachutes.

My Original Title Was Even More Tasteless Than This Picture



Get your Mao on!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Jimi Hendrix, Sonic Youth, Count Basie, And The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

...are all artists whose work has been selected for inclusion in the 2005 National Recording Registry. You can nominate recordings for the 2006 induction. Here's how. Here's the criteria for induction. Here's who I think you should nominate. (Who else would I choose?)

Cory Maye Update

Not much new to report, but I wanted to keep this issue in people's minds, as this guy is still sitting in jail for shooting a cop, who may or may not have announced himself before busting the door down in what seems to have been an illegal search. Radley Balko's blogging about it, and he's done a credible job at following the leads, and his blog reads like a book-in-the-making, replete with shady jurors, questions of race and class, and a drug task force running roughshod over a cowed impoverished population (sound familiar? Anyone?).

I've Acquired Bitteroldpunk.com!

...or actually Blake, a better friend than a wretch like me deserves, has acquired it for me. So look for big things in the future, including whizzy spinnin' pointless graphics; more pictures of kittens and rainbows; incoherent rants on topics I know little about; morose and whiny navel-gazing; comments on the same page as the relevant post and not hidden away a la Blogger; more links and shit stolen from MetaFilter; and reams of badly coded HTML. Right now the site just points to here, but I'll be migrating stuff over as I learn how to, with the goal of frustrating my tiny readership with broken links and 404 errors as frequently as possible. Woo hoo! A project!

Thanks, Blake! I owe you a frosty delicious Newcastle (the elixir of the gods)!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Banality Of Evil

Kevin has a MySpace page. Kevin writes a boring blog. Kevin killed a child last week and told police he intended to eat her remains.

One remarkable thing about this grisly story is, if you read the guy's blog, you see that he really isn't so different from many bloggers, except for the murdering cannibalistic stuff. He's shy, he hates his job, he's lonely and depressed. He likes wacky stuff like The Church of the Subgenius and anime. He plays videogames, and he complains about being bored and isolated. I actually began feeling sympathetic toward him and had to remind myself that he brutally killed an innocent little girl.

Police think he killed Jamie Rose Bolin on Wednesday, April 12. His last blog entry was on Thursday, April 13. It was a link to an article from The Discovery Channel. He was blogging about a fossil find in Ethiopia while the girl's body was in a plastic tub in his closet.

Where am I going with this? I have no idea. I hate not knowing how to end a post. That's a Kevin Ray Underwood quote, by the way.

MetaFilter's hydra-headed take(s) on this are here.

Open Your Ears

..to the electronic trippiness that is Fake. Via a great Metafilter music thread, which also includes some good punk rock.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Jonesing For A Smoke

It's all I can think about. Cigarette. Cigarette. Cigarette. This will pass, it will get easier, I tell myself. Thirty seconds later my hand involuntarily strays to the place beside the computer where normally sits a delicious tasty satisfying pack of Marlboro Mediums. Oh, cigarette. Carl gave me a ride home tonight and as we made the usual turn by the Stop-and-Rob he asked if I needed anything from the store. I demurred, though inside every fiber of mny being was screaming for a smoke.

But I shall not crumble, I will not cave. At least, not today. Oh, cigarette.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Yay! I'm Free!

Graduated from brainwashing class today.

Senior Care Bear Inqusitor Himself gave me the holy document: A Certificate of Graduatation printed on thick paper as if I'd actually achieved something. I felt sorry for his smile.

I'm forty today (April 13), contributions welcome.

I feel as if I've wasted my life and my potential. Hey, Loretta, need a press manager?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I Made Good Money, But Was It Worth It? (Yeah, It Was)

Usually the first Tuesday of the month is the night when we bartenders batten down the hatches, cut extra garnish, stock up on scotch and cheap vodka, and await the influx of what we know as "the mortgage party". I'm not sure what the group really is or does, other than that they all have something to do with mortgages, whether on the real estate side or the banking side.

You'll note that this was not the first Tuesday of April. That was last week; when we stood around listening to the clock tick and wondering how to pay our bills.

They decided to show up tonight and I was the only bartender on duty. I'd like to say I was in the flow and I worked the packed bar like a champ, but that would be a lie. I fumbled, stumbled, dropped stuff, forgot orders, and did everything wrong short of spilling a flaming shot on a polyester dress (no flaming shots were served. Flaming shots are illegal in here.).

Of course, right about the time they were all wrapped around the bar and ready for a second round, an eight-top goes down at Table 50. These guys are fresh off the golf course, or rather the 19th hole, and they decide to play "Stump the Bartender": when their ticket reels off the printer it might as well be written in Serbian. I didn't even know we had buttons for half of these drinks. The two easiest ones were a Surfer on Acid and a Hpnotiq Kamikaze. OK, those I get. One guy orders beer. Thank you, sir. The other ones....damn. What's a "Polynesian Maiden?" I'm guessing it has rum and pineapple juice in it, which is my standard guess for anything I don't know how to make. I add some grenadine, so that it follows the #1 dictum of bartending: if you don't know how to make it, the chances are good that it's a pink drink with rum in it. Speaking of, a Zombie! Jesus, man! It's 2006! Who the fuck orders fucking Zombies in 2006! Are you seventeen and flashing your fake ID on spring break in Daytona? Grow the hell up! Repeat after me: "Bushmills. On the rocks." Meanwhile, hands are going up all around the bar, and it's like an infection has spread. "Can you make a caramel apple martini?" Of course (wiping sweat). "I want something sooooooothing with vodka and cream." (Really said that way -- I recommend an Absolut Vanilla White Russian, which I then make with enough heavy cream to cause instant arterial blockage.) "Make me one of those yummy pomegranate thingies!" Sure, as I regret ever adding it to our list (recipe is at bottom of blog, it's tasty, but it takes forever to make). The next few hours pass in a blur. They arrived around five-thirty. The next time I have a moment to check the time, it's nine.

They finally clear out about thirty minutes before close, and I survey the damage. The bar is wrecked. Napkins, glasses, stirrers, straws, olives, cherries, lemon wheels, and blood bedeck the bar. No blood, really, I was just checking to see if you were paying attention. I take a well-earned smoke break (yeah, I know, but it was only the third cigarette today) and come back in and no sooner do I start making progress on cleaning things up than the queue forms and forty-seven different employees want to order food. That's hyperbole: we don't have forty-seven employees. But it seems that way. The new hostess expects me to walk her through the menu and make polite recommendations, so I club her to death with a bottle of Galliano. OK, I didn't, but the thought crossed my mind.

That dealt with, I continue wading through the morass. I make enough progress to justify my earnings, and call it a night. Carl is kind enough to give me a ride home, and he's listening to this freaky jazz that would have been cool and relaxing if I'd gotten to hear more than six minutes of it. I must ask him what it was. Now I'm at home, bouncing off the walls, and it's nearing midnight.

Gotta get up early for brainwashing tomorrow! Oh, the joys of sinnin'.

Just had to teach the Blogger spell-check "fuck", "fucking" and "Bushmills". What are they teaching our spell-checkers these days? Sheesh.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Exactly



Via Blue Gal.

Buy one here.

Get Your Bach On

An interactive shockwave doohickey that walks you through Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Play fugue 2 in C Minor and marvel at how two hands can produce three voices. I don't know diddley about music, but I know cool shockwave doohickeys when I see them.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Nall Wins Libertarian Party Nomination

Way to go, Loretta! Next stop, Goat Hill!

Kitty Looks Pissed

For Some Reason, I Grok Death Metal

I stopped caring about music when I was 35.

I always swore that I'd be hip and new and open to the new stuff, but time takes its toll and eventually I realized that I just didn't give a damn. Especially when so much of the music was dick-swinging hip-hop and whiny, indecipherable metal. I mean, I like new bands like Modest Mouse and Arctic Monkeys, I'm just not that convinced that they are doing anything special. Modest Mouse = Built To Spill without the self-discipline. Arctic Monkeys = The Minutemen + Nirvana/Black Flag. Meh. Radiohead was the greatest band on the planet, and they bored me. The only bands that I thought were really pushing the envelope, as it were, were Slipknot and the Dillinger Escape Plan. And Candiria, but I'm the only person I know who likes them.

But there is a band I've seized on, and it's kinda weird because they are completely out of my typical genres. I'm a punk and indie kinda guy. But recently I've been getting some joy from Opeth. They're a Swedish death metal band that owes more to King Crimson than Emperor, despite their online protestations. They make music that ranges from ambient to to grindcore, often within the same song.

And Lady kinda likes 'em. Pardon me, I have more important things to attend to. To which to attend. Whatever.

Dr. Smartt

I just posted this to Black and Whites:
Dr. Smartt would come in two or three times a month, usually during the week, and he would always order the same thing: two veal chops, mashed potatoes, two caeser salads, to go. He'd sit at my bar and have a couple of martinis while we put his order together. After a few times, I recognized his car when he pulled up and I'd try to have his martini ready and waiting when he arrived (easy on Tuesday, tough on Friday night!): Bombay Sapphire up with a twist. As a long-time bartender, I respect people who order martinis with a twist -- dirty martinis are for posers and vodka-drinking bankers who want to impress their friends rather than enjoy a quality cocktail. Over the years, Dr. Smartt and I got to be friendly. Around Halloween, I'd slip a piece of the chef's homemade pumpkin cheesecake into his to-go bag. Or maybe we'd have some soup left over from lunch and I'd bag up a couple of bowls for him. He always paid with a credit card, an Amex Gold, and he always tipped in cash: exactly $20.
Around Christmas, the restuarant was in dire straits, the chef had literally gone crazy (manic-depressive), the servers were fleeing, the kitchen staff's checks were bouncing. The end of the road was upon us. Dr. Smartt came in and I told him he didn't want the veal chops, I'd seen three go back to the kitchen that night. I said that I'd had the boloniase for lunch, and it was great, he should try it. He assented, and when I brought his order out I told him that it looked like this might be the last time we'd be seeing each other, as the restaurant was slated to close. I bought his meal, and told him it had been a pleasure knowing him and that we really appreciated his patronage.
He sipped his martini slowly and said, "Have I ever told you about my days as a waiter?" I was astonished. Here was this rich, successful, well-dressed DOCTOR, and he'd been a waiter? He went on,"I put myself through medical school waiting tables. I married a woman I worked with, and she's my wife to this day. She has multiple sclerosis, and she's damn near bed-ridden. She always loved her job as a waitress, and she kept working in restaurants even after I became a surgeon and she didn't have to work. She's the love of my life, and she's dying. I've been coming in here for three years and getting food to go because she isn't well enough to come eat out with me. And when I bring the food home, she always asks, how was the restaurant? What were they doing? Were they busy? Who was at the bar? And I try and tell her what I saw, because I know this business gets in your blood, and I have great respect for the people who can do it for a career."
I was blown away. I told him to just take the food, it was on me, and I gave him my card, and told him to call and find out where I'd moved on to. He said, "You know I won't do that." I said, yeah, I know, but it was worth a try. He pulled out a hundred-dollar bill and laid it on the bar-top and said, "Merry Christmas. Don't save this for Christmas gifts, spend it on yourself."
And he left. I never saw him again. The restaurant closed two months later, and I moved on. His wife died last year, I saw her obituary in the local paper. What I didn't tell Dr. Smartt is that my wife has MS, too, but it's the remitting-relapsing type, not the chronic-progressive type that killed Mrs. Smartt. I took his hundred dollars and spent fifty at a bar that very night, buying drinks for the kitchen staff, and the other fifty I wrote a check to the National MS Society.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Memo To Meteorologists: Blow Me

It was a lovely, balmy, breezy Friday night. After sundown, the temperature dropped a bit and the wind freshened. Perfect weather for sitting out on the patio sipping your favorite cocktail and perusing our menu of delectables.

Except the weatherman on TV insisted that it was raining hailstones the size of refrigerators so we were all going to perish horribly if we so much as set foot outside. And people believed him. So no one went out and enjoyed a lovely night, and I spent the whole damn shift wondering how I was going to pay my power bill.

The quote of the night was from Mr. A, a regular customer who dines with his wife at the bar and is always good for 20% and good convo.

"Fuck James Spann," he declaimed after two lemon drop martinis. "I played golf all day and I'll walk the dog when I get home and it won't rain a drop tonight. Spann didn't even have his tie loosened."

See, Mr. A has picked up on the sartorial symbology in play when James Spann commandeers whatever hapless local affiliate he bloviates for: the more dissheveled he appears, the greater the threat of bad weather. Spann loves bad weather the way cannibals love plane crashes; once you get through the spiky bits, the inside is all soft and tenderized. Mmmmmm....tragedy. If Spann is wearing a coat and tie, the weather is fine. When the coat comes off, switch to the Weather Channel for a real update. When he's down to his skivvies and screaming for everyone to run to their place of safety, take an umbrella. When he's crouched naked behind a desk sobbing incoherently, a tornado was spotted three hundred miles away.

OK, I just looked at the doppler radar map from The Weather Channel. There's an intense line of storms that will sweep through in about an hour or so. For this we let school out at one o'clock and ruined my day's income. Meh.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Like The Clash? You Might Be A Terrorist!

You'd think London cabbies would know better. Wonder what would have happened if he'd asked the guy to play "In The Tube Station At Midnight" by The Jam?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Douchebag

I will never link to this douchebag again. It was me, in my blogging innocence, that didn't grasp that any link was a good link. Well, it won't happen again. Why do I keeop bringing it up? Because I'm always horrified by his latest atrocity. Stupid fucking frat boy redneck:

Hey, I want to thank y’all who commented yesterday about how awesome my wife is. You know what? She really is! I’m so fortunate to have found and married a woman like Susan. She does so much for her family and I’m the luckiest man in the world. I’m thinking today when I get home I’ll just have to show her how appreciative I am. I might even let her cum this time! No, seriously she always get’s off...I make sure of that.


Die of nut cancer, you loathsome prick.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Today's Brainwashing Topic: Incentives

Brainwashing class today was an illuminating and enlightening experiece in group-therapy dynamics that left me informed, motivated, and excited about my future.

Not.

Today, we "checked in", the usual Wednesday ritual, in which one person (You Know Who You Are, hereafter YKWYA) monopolized the entire discussion by whining about how much her back hurt. If this person would drop the extra HUNDRED pounds YKWYA is toting around, that might alleviate YKWYA's back trouble, IMHO. I hadn't had my morning coffee, and I was nodding for most of the session. Fortunately, S-word sat beside me and elbowed me when the snoring became audible. I doodled on the topic paper, which was on Why You Want To Quit Doing Stuff You Like To Do, and actually applied my answers toward tobacco, the demon weed I am currently trying to excise from my life and lungs.

(Yes, I did smoke just seven cigs today! Rock! Six tomorrow, and so on.)

The Care Bear Inquisitor arched an eyebrow when I informed him, in the slice of time I had to check in before YKWYA returned to why YKWYA needs pills for YKWYA's hurt back, that I had attended all the quasi-Christian cult meetings I was obligated to go to and I had jumped through all the flaming hoops and therefore expected to graduate pronto. I hope to hear tomorrow that I'm done with this shit and can pay off the last $165 of my $1700 fine and be through through through with this Orwellian nightmare. (Later, I'm going to google "Orwellian nightmare" and see how close to the top my blog is.) Orwellian nightmare! Orwellian nightmare! Orwellian nightmare!

Of course, what I expect will happen is they'll tell me that I haven't done enough "personal growth" to merit "graduation" and therefore I am "fucked".

But then I always expect the worst, while hoping for the best.

It's interesting that many of the people in the class are restaurant people. I've mentioned it before, and I'm working on a socio-political exegesis of this very issue. No, I'm not. I just think it's interesting, and I'll have more to say about it later.

Work tonight was wading through molasses. I had a trainee, Iman (I think that's how he spells it), who was entirely too eager to be helpful, so I punished his naive ass by making him clean all the stuff I usually neglect to clean and detail that which I had already cleaned. Then he refused my offer of tip out, which I found highly suspicious. Fucking narc. Orwellian nightmare! Orwellian nightmare! Orwellian nightmare!

He's a young man of probably Arab descent who says he hails from Vancouver and came down here with his parents. Narc, narc, narc. He seemed to be a nice guy and asked good questions, and at the end of the night he opened up a bit about why he left his previous job, using appropriate profanity. Narc, narc, narc.

I shouldn't post that to my blog, should I? Orwellian nightmare! Orwellian nightmare! Orwellian nightmare!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I'm Weaning Myself From The Tobacco Demon

I decided to quit smoking by my 40th birthday (April 13). Usually, I'm a pack-a-day smoker, but the price of cigarettes and the ugly hacking cough and the lingering stench have just become overwhelming: I must quit. Now.

So what I'm doing is tapering off, trying gradually to reduce my comfortable nicotine level. Yesterday, I smoked nine cigarettes. Today I smoked eight. Tomorrow, I will smoke seven. And so on. (By "tomorrow", I mean "today", since my day runs until after midnight, and I'm defining a day by sleep cycle, not calendar.) That should put me at zero cigarettes by April 12, and quit by the 13th.

I'm thinking I'll use the gum to control subsequent cravings. The last time I cold-turkyed it for the three days it took to purge my body of nicotine, and stayed quit for about eight months. I'm hoping to do better this time around. Wish me luck.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Mormon Republican Family Values

If your daddy is the head of the state Senate in Arizona, you can sodomize 18 11-to-14-year-old boys 40 times at youth camp, get caught, and face little or no jail time and no record of sexual assault.

I mean, little Cliffy can't have a felony on his record; that would prevent him from going on his missionary work for the Mormon church! I didn't know the Mormons had a sodomite squad.

The Gray Lady Gets A Makeover


I read The New York Times. Despite the black eyes it has gotten and the trouble it has brought on itself in the past few years, it's still a damn good newspaper. I usually buy it at the Stop-And-Rob so I can do the crossword puzzle, but lately I've been getting my news fix from the online version.

Today I go there and experience its new look for the first time, and I am dismayed. It doesn't look like The New York Times anymore. It looks like....well, it looks like every other news site now. Why'd they change the headline font? That reassuring, staid and traditional type that told you that you were reading a serious newspaper, dammit, not Yahoo! news or Gawker.

And now they display only the first sentence, or a portion thereof, of the lede, because they've decided to cram a video link on their front page. Guys, y'all ain't YouTube! I don't need video from The New York Times! I need NEWS.

The editors note about the redesign says:
We also wanted to give our readers a greater voice and sprinkle a little more serendipity around the site by providing prominent links to a list of most e-mailed and blogged articles, most searched for information and popular movies. A new tab at the top of the page takes you directly to all our most popular features.
Huh? "Serendipity"? For serendipity, I have MetaFilter and Digg and Fark and Newsvine. And I don't want the readers to have a voice. We have the rest of the freaking internet for the readers to spout off in! I want serious journalists telling me what they think the important stuff is and why. That's the point of a newspaper, right? The editor goes on to crow about a new toy they are rolling out called MyTimes. I'll let you gues what that is. That's right, our nation's paper of record now wants to be Yahoo!

I don't think that allowing people to self-select the news they want to see is a particularly innovative or positive development. Nor is it new, but that's not the point. Part of the joy of a newspaper is that I might go looking for a story about, oh, I don't know, the war in Iraq, and end up reading an article on the Egyptian economy, or Chinese pollution control. What's that called? Oh yeah, serendipity. Which will be gone when I just click to my page that has only the news I pre-select, which is an insane idea to begin with.

I'll get used to the new design, and I'll probably even find stuff about it that I like. But please guys give me my headline font back. Maintain some sense of identity.

The grumpy critics at MetaFilter mouth off about this topic here.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

On The Restaurant Biz (Pete Moss Riff)

Look, I know I have to be at work tomorrow at 10 AM, just let me say this stuff first and I'm off to bed. Jeez. I KNOW it's two in the morning, OK?

Got dragged out to a bar tonight after work (where I drank Coca-Cola with a side of sissy) and I ran into some old running buddies. The restaurant business is incestuous: you meet the same people over and over again. I've also noticed that among the members of my brainwashing class, there's a high percentage of cooks and servers. (But not bartenders. Because we're Special.) When we pulled up to the place, the guy at the wheel whooped, "Look! There's Pete Moss!" And sure enough, Pete was sitting in his car breaking down an OxyContin for a quick snort before returning to the drinking hole. We parked beside him and rapped sharply on his window, barking, "Police! Get out with your hands up!"

Of course, like any experienced drug user, he had the perimeter view intact and was not surprised by our arrival. I'd worked with Pete a couple of years ago and I knew he was a consummate professional. Pete is a smiling salesman, quick with a joke and quicker with a dropped fork; someone who keeps his tables clean, his guests bamboozled, and his ticket averages stratospheric: all to support his addiction to opiates.

Pete is never late for work, because he needs the money. He's clean-cut, well-manicured, articulate, intelligent, and friendly. He knows the difference between a burgundy and a bordeaux, and he'll explain it to you in a way that doesn't make you feel like an asshole for asking. Pete will be happy to tell you the specials, and to recommed his favorites off the menu. He spends his mornings scoring pills, his afternoons selling them, and his evenings waiting tables.

Pete's life revolves around procuring and ingesting illicit narcotics, or rather, narcotics that once were someone's legitimate prescription but have been handed around in the great gray market that takes place in parking lots all over America all the time. Pete thinks he's got the game figured out. I think Pete's going down.

I asked him tonight why he didn't just smoke a little reefer, and be happy with that. He sneered at me. Literally, sneered. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been legitamately sneered at. "Grass doesn't cut it, dude. I want a buzz that I can get stuff done on."

Fortunately, the pharmaceutical industry is there to support people like Pete. As long as there are doctors willing to write scrips for people who want to sell drugs, Pete's gonna do fine.

And I'm still paying smoking a joint.