The Laughter Subsides

There is nothing quite so intoxicating as a giggle fit.  It doesn’t really matter too much what I’m laughing about, but it’s usually something silly, puerile, and vulgar.

The important thing is that, amidst my chortles and guffaws, life’s little worries cease to bother me.  So what if I’m unable to sustain a meaningful relationship?  Who cares that I’ve reached the age of 46 and have bugger all to show for it?  All I need to is conjure up an image of glue-sniffing hillbillies greasing a wheelchair ramp for kicks and I’ve put my personal demons on hold.

When no jokes come to mind (and even when they do), liquor consumption has gone a long way toward maintaining my peace of mind.  So has imprudent behavior.  And don’t get me started about drugs and porn.

If you can’t see the flaw in this approach, you’re in even worse shape than I am.  We are supposed to face our problems so that we might grow from the experience.  I get that.  Despite my best efforts to avoid this, I sometimes have no choice.

These unpleasant moments of maturity can occur when I don’t expect them.  Just yesterday, a wave of ugly truth overcame me as I sat in a 401(k) orientation meeting at work.  I’ve been at my current job for over two years but have yet to sign up for a retirement plan.  Fuck it, I reasoned.  Cirrhosis or a glorious overdose will take care of everything.

Or maybe not.  I drink more than I should but not enough to be killing myself and have given up on other substances.  Besides, I may actually want to stick around for my golden years, amusing myself with my bad attitude and wearing my incontinence with pride.

For that, I’ll need cash.  Whatever pittance I can expect from social security probably won’t pay my rent, let alone cover my bar tab.

So I went to the meeting.  Better late than never, I thought.  It was then that I realized that I was a decade late and a hundred-thousand dollars short.

“Start saving now or you’re screwed,” said the representative from Fidelity Mutual (OK, I’m paraphrasing here).  It was sound advice for most of his target audience, coworkers of mine who are on average ten years younger than me.  He went on to illustrate his point with graphs and equations clearly showing how getting into the retirement plan early (them) will put them in a far better financial condition than the poor sap who procrastinated (me).

It was a slap in the face but I was OK.  I tuned out and imagined anti-vibrator decency vigilantes with a telescopic mic who kick in the door of a woman who was only playing the didgeridoo.

I felt much better after that.

Paint It Beige

The business-casual secret police are at it again.

According to a recent news article, twenty percent of perspective employers search for a job candidate’s online activities before making a hiring decision.  Of those who do, a third of them disqualify people applicants if they see something they don’t like.  Simply put, one in fifteen people you interview with is going to be some nosy fascist you wouldn’t want to work for anyway.

To be fair, I can sort of see the boss’ point of view.  Beyond a sterling resume, you might want some sort of assurance that the newest member of your team isn’t going to be strung out on drugs, a kleptomaniac, or itching to go on a killing spree.

These concerns are legitimate.  It’s the method I object to.

Let’s be honest.  We all have parts of ourselves that are embarrassing, sordid, or downright disgusting.  We keep some of these things secret but not all.  However, to maintain a career, we keep them out of the workplace.

My boss’ greatest concern is whether I get my work done, as it should be.  He doesn’t care whom I’m sleeping with, how many drugs I might ingest at Burning Man, or a detailed description of my last bowel movement.

It’s my responsibility to keep what I do in my off hours from interfering with my job duties.  If I have a MySpace page with pictures of me dirty dancing naked with a Porky Pig piñata, it really should be of no concern to my employers unless I engage in that activity during staff meetings or insist on sharing the photos with easily offended colleagues.

Of course, it’s prudent not to volunteer anything when on a job hunt.  The person doing the hiring probably doesn’t want to see you fly your freak flag.  You should respect that.  So if you’re considering emailing your resume with a return address of, you might want to think again.

The Pleasure Was All Mine

I was running late.  The movie was starting in less than an hour and a half and I had to get from my house in the Mission district to the theater way out in the outer Richmond.  If I had a car, it’s about a fifteen-minute drive.  I don’t so I was at the mercy of the Muni bus system, which meant it could take as little as forty minutes and as long they damn well please.

Any local resident not on life support knows that our local transit system’s schedules are treated as guidelines instead of actual timetables.  Yet I still managed to wait until the last minute because I got sidetracked at home.  I found a site where I could play Sim City Classic online for free and the hours just flew by.

It was the bulldoze button that kept me from tearing myself away.  After adding residential areas in the game, they usually start sprouting house, followed by an apartment building and so on and so forth.  Sometimes though, hospitals and churches would pop up for no reason.  I had to take action.

“No mercy for the weak,” I’d say, bulldozing a hospital.

“Go home and worship the Porn God,” I’d add, doing the same to a church.

It was great fun but I should have been more mindful of the time.  I only began regretting that when I was on the corner of Van Ness and Geary, waiting for the connecting bus.  When one finally did arrive, it was the local service stopping at every corner for the next five miles.

I was beginning to feel upset that I was going to miss the movie.  To make matters worse, the bus was packed and there was barely any room to stand, let alone sit.

Just then, my spirits were lifted by an old woman sitting in one of the gimps-and geezers seats near the front door.  She wasn’t just any old woman but rather the most bitter and cantankerous piece of yesterday’s news I had ever laid eyes on.

She reminded me of this scowling crone from one Twilight Zone episode who kept getting calls from her long-dead boyfriend after a storm knocked a phone line down on his grave.

“Mildred,” said the voice from beyond.  “Why, why did you have to be such a pain in the ass?”

At the end of the show she broke down sobbing, realizing how richer her existence could have been if she had just lightened up a little.

Lacking a paranormal life coach, the woman on the bus had yet to learn this lesson.  She looked around at all the common folk trying to get where they needed to go and snarled, “Can’t you see the bus is full?  You should have waited for the next one.”

She then harrumphed and went back to chewing an imaginary mouthful of Denny’s senior special.

Thank you ma’am, I thought.  Your petty little outburst just made my day.

Into the Maw of the Metroplex

Last Sunday, my friend Janice talked me into seeing “Death Race,” a remake of the 1975 classic starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone.

Perhaps “classic” is a bit of a stretch.  The original was considered cheeseball drive-in fare at the time of its release but has gained a measure of respectability over the years.  And why shouldn’t it?  It glorified violence without apology and never expected moviegoers to take it seriously.

I read reviews of the remake and they were not flattering.  The new version is said to strip away the tongue-in-cheek silliness and irony, replacing it with unintentional silliness and Jason Statham.

“It’s going to suck,” I told Janice.

“Maybe for you,” she said.  “Car races and violence are like porn to me.”

That settled that.  A gentleman never denies a lady her porn.

I have to admit that as far as cinematic butt nuggets go, this one was fairly tolerable.  Plot was kept to a merciful minimum.  The departure from the original putting the race in a prison worked well and included ice-bitch warden as a villain for the audience to direct their misogyny.  There was even a “Shawshank Redemption” moment at the end, albeit one with a hot babe in cut offs shaking her butt in slow motion.

For the rest, there was an almost nonstop roaring of engines, twisted metal, and blood spatter.  Every so often, Statham would lament his personal demons but in a movie like this, no one can be expected to give a shit.

Janice loved the flick for her own unhealthy reasons.  I found it entertaining and walked out of the theater with a smirk on my face.  If only I could believe that the filmmakers were in on the joke.

Rabble Dabble

According to the memo, all hell was supposed to break loose.  Protesters were scheduled to arrive at noon today in front of our building because our upstairs neighbors at MySpace had managed to piss them off big time.  Security was instructed to let no one enter the building.  MySpace employees were issued a gag order in case the media showed up.

Contrary to what one might think, the protesters were not irate parents taking the Predator Yellow Pages™ to task nor was there an aesthetic outcry against allowing members with no design sense whatsoever to create their own profile layout.

They were Naderites up in arms because Ralph wasn’t getting any MySpace love.

It turns out that MySpace/Fox Interactive Media are in cahoots with the Commission on Presidential Debates, an organization that views third parties as not worth their time.

I’m of two minds on this issue.  On the one hand, there is a fundamental flaw in the two-party system that keeps non-mainstream views from being adequately represented.  On the other, Ralph Nader is a self-righteous killjoy who desperately needs to get laid.  So if riot cops were brought in, I had no idea which side to root for.

I needn’t have been concerned.  Less than a dozen protesters were in attendance and the closest thing to storming the building was when one guy came in and asked the security guard if he could borrow a pair of scissors.  She said no and told him to leave the premises.

He obeyed.