Friday, July 31, 2009

Discount Degas

I sat in on a web seminar (a "webinar" for those of you down with the system) the other day. It was about team building, and honestly it was just something I needed to be able to say I did when it came time to talk about such things with my new boss. It was an hour of pain. The woman leading the course was out of Jersey and talked in anecdotes and illustrations in a practiced way that let me know she was on autopilot.

Overly chipper, she was the kind of girl who constantly reminds the people around her that she's "crazy" in a way that only the truly boring have mastered. Margaret Thatcher once said something like "Being powerful is like being a lady: If you have to say you are, you aren't." It's the same for people who try to cultivate eccentricity. If you're working hard at it, you're just not that weird.

Anyway, the entire presentation derailed the moment she dropped William Golding's name. In the midst of a Q&A about "difficult" work situations, the presenter is suddenly talking about Lord of the Flies.

"This is a book wasted on children. It's not until you're an adult that you can really see how it is the best book ever written about leadership and the mechanics of a team. It's the perfect team building novel."

The snob in me refuses to accept the reference. Here's this amazing piece of high school required reading that is a blueprint for human nature and the creepy corners of our souls, and yet what she walks away with is how the story can be turned into an illustration of getting along with difficult coworkers.

It's like a Matisse print in the conference room. It's hearing "I've Been Loving You Too Long" at a Monster Truck Rally. It's opening a Faberge egg to uncover a peanut crusted turd. It's...Well, you get the idea.

Keep art away from Corporate America. Sneak it in, keep it hidden for yourself, but don't let them see it and don't let them appropriate for their own use. I'm just sayin' is all.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Singing Dog Records

Through some creative budgeting I found myself with a spare $100 to drop on some new music. Armed with my budgetary guidelines and a Post It Note with scrawled purchase ideas, I headed to Singing Dog Records Monday night. Jen and I had been in there looking for a shirt for her the week before, but I didn't really get to spend any time going through the racks. Now, I would.

I walk up to the guy behind the counter to ask about a record I had seen the week before but wasn't on the racks now. He digs under a pile and pulls out a Radiohead bootleg for me to look over. We chat about sound quality for a couple of minutes and then he starts laying things down on the counter.

"Here, man. You're probably going to want this too. We sold out so fast the last time..."

He was talking to me like I shopped here all the time. I don't. He acted like we'd chatted in depth about the music that's important to me. We hadn't. A bit amused and a bit insulted by his presumption I looked down at the fresh copy of the new Dead Weather double LP he had put in front of me. Knowing the record was on the Post It Note in my pocket, I picked it up and tucked it under my arm with my Radiohead record.

"Oh, and here." he said laying a 7" single on the counter. It only took me 3 seconds to realize it was the new Modest Mouse numbered release before I grabbed it and added it to my stack. I hadn't been in the store 5 minutes and already this guy had spent almost my entire wad for me before I even started going through the racks. Realizing I had met my match, I quickly walked away before he unearthed something else he knew I couldn't live without.

The new Wilco record and some old Dinosaur Jr later and I'm heading back up towards the counter where a little old lady has taken a chair by the door.

"Oh Jeff, I haven't heard The Animals in so long. I remember when this song came out. Could you check to see if you have that for me on vinyl."

"Sure, Mary. Just let me take care of this gentleman first." he said nodding in the direction of a young kid in baggy jeans. "What can I help you find?" he asked the kid.

"I'm looking for the new Kanye on vinyl."

Mary spoke up immediately. "I love his new record! That's my sad record right now."

Smiling to myself I looked over at Mary. She was pushing 70, with long straight gray hair and teeth so black I thought her mouth may be full of ink. She played with her cane, bouncing it on the dusty floor between her feet while nodding along to "Girl Named Sandoz" from The Animals.

We chatted for a moment about the records I had put on the counter to pay for. And she told me she needed to hurry home so she could catch Silversun Pickups on The World Cafe.

"They're so good live, I just can't miss it." she said. "You know, they're coming to town soon."

I wanted to hug her right there on the spot.

Jeff came back to the counter where I paid $102.36 for my fix and I headed out the door hoping that it's not too long before I got to see them both again.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Damaged Americans in Flight

There's a not so new idea that airlines are again considering. With the economy being what it is, and airlines being the one industry that it's seemingly impossible to make a buck in, they are again considering charging passengers by the amount they weigh. Just like carrying extra baggage or shipping heavy items will cost you more, now it will cost you more for the Ben & Jerry's you just couldn't step away from.

There's solid logic here. It costs more money to carry my butt across the country. I require more fuel to to haul across Arkansas than it does to transport my daintier counterparts, therefore I should pay more. If only fat people could stay away from Hometown Buffet, they would get to pay less just like everyone else. I get it.

I do also get that food can be an addiction, and that sometimes a person's weight can be outside their direct control. (It's cool, scoff away skinny people.) Some people need help managing the reasons behind why they eat. I believe that the same life events that send people to drugs, alcohol, sex addiction, religion, anorexia, or many other things that victimize them, can also send you to the Pizza Hutt with shaking hands.

Plus, there are people who are just outside the norm. They do things differently than "normal" people, and they shouldn't escape Corporate America's close eye. With that in mind, I'd like to propose some additional charges for fellow passengers who have proclivities that may not be socially acceptable.


You stink a little. I know you think you don't. I know you don't smoke in the house. Still...I'm just sayin'.

Don't get me wrong, I used to smoke and I loved it. I loved everything about it. Now though, many years removed from my addiction, I have to admit that I stunk too. It comes with the habit.

Because your smell will be an annoyance to the people stuck sitting around you, you should have to pay each of them $10.00. This will not be an airline fee, but rather an agreement worked out amongst armrest sharers.

The "Flying is a Party" Person

We all like to drink, but you never want the party to stop. You're generally fun at the airport bar before it's time to board, but no one really wants to be stuck sitting beside you on the plane. You have the propensity to get loud on long flights, and you tend to get sick in the tiny closet toilets leaving them smelling worse than usual.

Because of your inability to cope without assistance from the major bottling companies of America, you should pay an additional 33% "Handling" fee.


Us straight people don't get it. First, with Lesbians, what's the draw? Everyone knows sex isn't sex with just girls involved. It's simple physics. With Gay Men, it's just gross. Butts are not natural places to express love. It's just dirty and abnormal...not at all like good clean anal sex shared by straight married couples.

Add the fact that you are all damned to hell, and I do not want to share a flight with you. Who knows when God will strike His vengeance upon you? I don't want to be there when it happens.

You're allowed to purchase tickets (at twice the normal rate) but should not actually be allowed on the flight.

Parent of a Crying Child

I know you and your family have shit to do and places to go. I get this. I don't expect you to drive across the country when you want to see grandma. I'm not heartless. Still, I cannot pretend I wouldn't rather be chewing glass than listening to your kid bawl his/her heart out for three hours straight. I'm sure you're nice people, but seriously.

In order to fly you should have to pick up the bar tab for everyone within 1-10 rows of your location (in both directions), and buy the first round for everyone in rows 11-15. It's the right thing to do.

The Witness

Just because I'm stuck on a plane with you doesn't mean I should be subjected to your beliefs. I really don't care, and am pretty sure that no one else on a Monday morning flight to Minnesota cares either.

If you want to share, you must do so from a special section of the plane that is populated by other people who want to share their beliefs too. You will pay double, and you'll consider yourself fortunate.

I think it's only fair. Add these charges, and I won't complain at all about the humiliation of standing on a scale and watching the price of my ticket jump through the roof. I'm sorry to all the gay alcoholic smoking religious parents of crying children out there if I came across as harsh. I just don't want to get stuck picking up the tab for all of us.