Saturday, January 29, 2011

Don't let them make you small, Charlie!

Never change, Charlie Sheen. You have to live enough for all of us little people.

I am never going to snort coke nonstop from Wednesday afternoon to Sunday night, boink porn stars like Caprice Anderson and Bree Olson, be frog-marched out of a hotel lobby in handcuffs while wearing no pants, and show up to film a No. 1 sitcom on Monday morning like it ain't no thing.

I can't do these things. But you can.

Do it for me, Charlie!

Could crunch berries NOT be part of a 'healthy, balanced breakfast'?

The food coloring that Quaker Oats uses in Cap'n Crunch with crunch berries makes my tongue go numb.

I'm kind of worried about it.

Be nice to America, or we'll bring democracy to your country

This just in, the Pakistanis really hate us now.

Yesterday, a U.S. consulate worker was driving in his unmarked Honda, and was approached/menaced by two Pakistanis on a motorcycle. (That sounds like the set-up for a joke.) Eyewitnesses report that the men on the motorcycle pointed a gun at the consulate worker, who then produced gun of his own, and shot the two Pakistanis dead. The consulate worker called his coworkers for help, and a black SUV speeding to scene ran over a third Pakistani man.

International correspondents are saying that anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan is running at an all-time high.

Now look, Pakistan. First: two of your lawless thugs menaced one of our citizens. Second: Do you really want a piece of America over this? 'Cause I don't think you do. We're a nation of crazy mofos. We value nothing. We kill each other over parking spaces. We originated the term "handgun culture". We re-elected George W. Bush. Have you seen our media? Our children learn all the kill moves to Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000 before they learn the alphabet.

So, be nice, Pakistan. We might decide that your people are yearning for democracy.

Ask the Afghanis and the Iraqis how that worked out.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hang the DJ

There are people in radio who get paid to make mouth noise. They are not news readers, talk show hosts, or even traffic reporters. They are human noise makers whose only purpose is to fill the silence that would otherwise occur in between the small servings of music. They are DJs, and they are simply audio clutter in an already deafening world.

A few years ago, some radio stations owned by Radio One and other media megamonsters went “automatic”: they fired their DJs, preprogrammed the music blocks and only ran station identifiers between the music and commercials. There was a medium-sized brouhaha over it. DJs felt undervalued—and found themselves unemployed—and some listeners felt like their radio experience was going to be colder and dehumanized. It’s several years on, and guess what? Commercial radio is still limping along, blaring the latest Toyotathon commercials at distracted drivers, and overplaying Lady GaGa and Taylor Swift. Do you really find yourself missing the following DJ time-filling staples?

Reading of “The Latest Poll”: When you have exactly dick to talk about, you can always read the latest poll from USA Today. “These poll results are something I’m sure we call all relate to, heh heh. Seems a non-scientific poll written up in USA Today indicates that men want sex 78% more than women. Heh, heh. [Oafish sidekick: “Oh yeah. Sure sounds like the numbers at my house.”] [All: Heh heh, ha ha. Heh.]” Ah, yes. The men vs. women sexual struggle. Always a hi-larious topic for the broad center of the mouth-breather demographic.

Commentary on current events: DJs are encouraged to skim news outlets before their shows so they have something topical to talk about. Unfortunately, this knowledge does not mean they have anything useful to say. So you hear this kind of happy horseshit: “Man. Didja hear about that nut that shot all those people? Out in Arizona? I think it was Arizona. Maybe it was Utah. Anyway. Crazy stuff. Our thoughts are definitely with the victim’s families, right? Now let’s hear some Bowie.” The statement “Our thoughts are with the victim’s families” is second only to “I’m spiritual, not religious” as the most useless utterance in any human language.

The listener call-in: Does anyone call into a radio station that isn’t retarded? Or so drunk that they have to old-school it with the radio because they can’t operate their MP3 player? It’s always the same type of numb-nuts exchange:

“WSUK, who’s this?”

“Uh, hey. Uh, am I on the air??”

[Annoyed pause.] “Yeah, chief. Who’s this?”

“This is the Frankster. I’m drivin’ a tow truck for th’ city a’ Boston. It’s snowin’ and I’m towin’, ya know what I’m sayin’, friend?”

“You know it, ‘Frankster’. Whaddya wanna hear?”

“Oh, hey. Did I win that contest thing?”

“No, Frank. You gotta call in between 3:12 and 3:14 in the afternoon. How about I play you some Deep Purple? How would that be?”

“Woooooooooh! WSUK forevah, baby!!!!!!!”

Morning shows: Inane banter between the two shock-jocks that were fired two years ago for announcing that the mayor was dead, but got rehired by new management, and the bimbo in the background who just laughs cluelessly at everything the two shock jocks say. Bad local comics. Prank phone calls. Funny sound effects. The pimping of the “Digitally scan your genitals and email them to us to win $500!!!!” daily contest. The local used-car dealer commercial with all the goddam shouting and the heavy dance beat. Oh yeah. That will start my day right.

I don’t miss you, DJs. You always were just a barrier between me and the music.

Shoveling snow, parking, and not being a complete fuckhead

Another snow emergency, another evening of fucking with people's parking spot savers.


Look, dillholes. We've been living in this "I got mine, so you can go screw" mode for too damn long. The idea of "saving" a parking spot on a public street by leaving a broken chair, a trash barrel, or some of piece of crap in it is an illustration that you are not willing to live in a society with other hominids. You won't sacrifice for the common good. You want the benefits, but you won't even do the work of being a good neighbor.

It's simple. I shovel out a spot. Just one, even though my building houses twelve people. You shovel out one spot. And so on. Shazaam! Every spot on the street gets shoveled out. Parking is now as easy as on any summer day.

But no. You gotta be the caveman who won't take his turn on Sabretoothed-tiger watch. You're probably also the type that falls asleep and lets the precious fire go out. Ass.

So, to the dude who saved his spot with a broken recycling bin: C'mon, man. That thing was so easy to toss into the alley three houses down, you weren't really even trying to protect that spot...

To the person who saved their spot with a large chunk of broken wooden stairs, with nails sticking out: Well played, Mr. Bond. I really don't know how I'm going to deal with that. I may have to retreat to my secret lab and do some computer modeling...

To the person who saved their spot with the trash barrel: I see you found your barrel from when I tossed it over your neighbor's fence during the last snowstorm. And this time, you've filled the barrel with chunks of concrete to make it harder to move. I moved it anyway. Rage has made me strong. You should also know that I have a dog. I walk her late at night. And next time, instead of conscientiously scooping the poop like I normally to, I will liberally apply it to the handles of your space-saving garbage bin. Have a great morning, fuckhead.

Monday, January 17, 2011

(anti)Social Media

My wife tells me I need a LinkedIn account. "Nobody gets jobs through classified ads anymore. You're going to have to get a job through social media just like every other modern professional."

Social media can kiss my ass. I don't even know what "social media" is, except that every job description thinks that in addition to building widgets, you should have to write 20 tweets a day... about widgets.

Here's my day. I'm gonna watch porn for about two hours. Walk the dog if she asks, let her sleep if she doesn't. Probably take a nap myself. Paint some little toy soldiers, because that's a whole lot more fulfilling than a job search, which is like getting punched in the dick via email. On a daily basis. Then, maybe an hour before my wife gets home from work, I'll throw in some laundry or run the dishwasher, so it doesn't look like I watched porn all day.

Now there's a Facey Pages update for you! Hey, maybe I'll tweet about it! Guess what? Your life isn’t any more interesting than mine, and I’d surely vomit if I had to read about it.

So yeah, I might be asking a few of you for LinkedIn recommendations soon... may we all burn in hell.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oreos and the obscene decadence of market-driven economies

Stop n Shop carries twelve (12) different types of Oreo cookies.


Strawberry Oreos. Golden Oreos. Half-golden, half-regular. Chocolate-covered. Mint. Football shaped. Double stuff. Cakesters (What in the jumping blue fuck is a Cakester??) More.

You know those "American service man comes home and can't readjust, and it's the supermarket that finally causes him to murder 34 people before being shot and killed by SWAT" TV plots?

I get it.

When people start that "spend that NASA money on poor people down here!" shit, I go nuts, but twelve different kinds of Oreo? Something's wrong, folks. Our priorities are seriously fucked up.

You can buy eight different varieties of Crest. My dentist tells me that extra-whitening Crest doesn't make your teeth any whiter, and the tartar-control stuff doesn't really fight tartar that much. You know what does? Brushing your teeth regularly with any old toothpaste. Or sand. Or almost anything.

How much money does it take to package, produce, market, and shelve all this horseshit? Marketing studies have demonstrated "choice fatigue" in consumers. You have too many versions of Crest to choose from, so you say fuck it and buy Aim. Because it’s what your Mom always bought.

I'm going to hire 30 homeless people and go blockade Nabisco's marketing whorehouse.

If the regular old Oreo—which have served the world just fine since 1912—aren’t good enough for you, then congratulations. You have become a canker sore inside the rotting mouth of America.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It’s going to snow. Calm down, stupid. Get a hold of yourself.

We’re supposed to get a snowstorm on Tuesday night and Wednesday, and the madness has already begun in Boston. Stop and Shop is at battle stations, people are already planning to “work from home”, and those retards in Southie probably already have broken chairs out in the street, saving “their” parking spot.

Before you start wondering if you have a good supply of D batteries for that national weather service monitoring radio you received three Christmases ago, stop and take a deep calming breath. Good air in, bad air out. Now think a minute. You live in the northeast. It snows here. Sometimes, it snows a lot. But we’re used to it. We can handle it. Despite what the local newscasts always imply, you really are in no danger of getting snowbound like in that episode of Little House on the Prairie, in which the Ingalls had to eat Carrie while they waited to be dug out. (You don’t remember that one? Charles was going to have them eat the dog, but Half-pint cried, so he decided to eat their youngest and most annoying daughter, instead.)

Calm the fuck down and don’t buy into the hype. What draws the most ratings for local news casts? The weather. What ad spots do they charge the highest rates for? The weather. Do you think maybe they jazz up the forecast a little to get you to tune in, and maybe get you to buy a four-pack of Glade plug-ins? You bet your bibby. Local news loves the word “paralyzed”. It gives them a full-on robotic stiffy. If it clouds over, news casters start practicing the dire pronouncement “Boston is PARALYZED tonight by near blizzard conditions! Will your morning commute end in a snowmobile rescue?? See what Mike has to say at 11!” Don’t fall for this.

It’s the 21st century, OK? You aren’t going to starve to death because you can’t get food. Your nearest major grocery store is probably no more than a half-mile away. Your neighborhood might even have a little incense-reeking convenience store where you could at least get some over-priced bread, peanut butter, and a life-sustaining bottle of Yoo-hoo. Even if you had to drag your flabby ass through snow drifts, you could do it.

Also, you know how to drive in snow. It might only be 10 or 11 months since the last time you had to do it. I’m not saying bust out your 4X4 and race around like a horse’s ass (although you’ll have a lot of company if you do), but if you are driving, don’t drive like a complete douche. I do enjoy laughing and pointing at SUVs resting on their roofs in a snowy median, but nothing is more aggravating than driving through flurries behind the schmoehawk doing 15 mph and panic-braking.

Got a snow shovel? Decent all-weather tires? Enough food to last 6 hours? Then you’re good. Relax and watch the pretty snowflakes as they paralyze Boston.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Feast or Famine at Unemployment's Table

A friend of mine once told me that you know when you’ve been unemployed too long when just calling unemployment once a week becomes too much trouble. That was funny, until the current economic downturn, or recession, or “period of growth reduction” or whatever the fuck politicians call it when people stop buying TVs and $7 lattes because they lost their jobs.

I’ve been unemployed for the better part of 14 months now. And if you live in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I don’t need to tell you about the Department of Unemployment Insurance. But, I’ll tell you anyway. At this point, DUI doesn’t know whether its gut shot, snake bit, or ass fucked. This wing of the state government was understaffed, undertrained, and undermotivated BEFORE Mass achieved a prodigious unemployment rate of 8.2% in December. Imagine what a cluster fuck parade it is now.

Don’t strain yourself trying to imagine—if you’re like me, you haven’t got a job so you’ve got a full day planned of Internet porn, eating Cap’n Crunch, and trying to accomplish all the daily chores you promised your wife you would do in the 3 ½ minutes it takes her to get from the driveway to the front door and you’re busted. I’ll tell you what marching in the DUI clusterfuck parade feels like. It’s like the Macy’s Day Parade, only without the Bullwinkle balloon. But with extra Michael BublĂ© performances.

My first claim entitled me to 65% of my last salary, which wasn’t bad at all. I could keep up with my bills, but couldn’t save or get ahead. I was better off than most people, and most days I realized it. Then, like a total asshole, I started taking temp work. I can’t drag at the Public Teat forever, right? I gotta solve my own problem. Contribute something. Put on pants. Well, on my first benefits extension, DUI recalculates my benefits according to 65% of what I made as a temp, which was dick all. My unemployment checks were cut by more than half. I figured out what I made at the temp jobs and what that work cost me in benefits, and I lost money on the deal. That’s right, I would have been financially smarter to stay home and watch Tori Black take it in the ass by some guy named Mandingo than I was taking temp work. And my 3rd grade teacher said I couldn’t learn. That bitch.

Any week you earn income, you have to report it. If the reported income exceeds your unemployment benefits, when you report the income, it closes your account. Then, if you remain unemployed—and you will, because 1) 8.2%, and 2) Internet porn pays—you have to get somebody at your helpful DUI office on the phone to reopen it. On a good day, you’ll wait on hold for 20-45 minutes before speaking to someone who may or may not reopen your account properly. You’ll know if they fucked it up when your check doesn’t arrive. On most days, you just get a recording saying that “due to heavy call volume, all our representatives are busy. Please try your call later, or on the next business day.” I worked in November, mostly to keep something on my resume. I tried to reopen my account two weeks before Christmas. The combination of the holiday, Congress’s dicking around over extending unemployment benefits, and an already overburdened system created an unholy alchemy: after 8 days of “we are aware that you may be subsisting on ramen noodles and cups of ice, but try us again on the next business day, Slappy”, I go into the Woburn walk-in DUI center. By then, I’m perturbed. I know instantly I’m going to get zero help; the lobby is already full of equally pissed off people. Some of them aren’t even pissed anymore. They just look… deflated.

The crone at the counter puts in her teeth and tries to find my face; her eyeglass prescription is apparently far out of date. She tells me there are 60 people already waiting to see the DUI rep. Three more people have come in and gotten in line behind me even as she says this. I’m handed a Zeroxed sheet of other walk-in centers. I envision the crone dying and covered in weeping sores, and I start calling five closest centers. The first two tell me not to even come in; their own DUI reps are booked solid, and then they’ll be closed for the rest of the week. The third center’s phone is answered by a woman who speaks fluent Spanglish. I am transferred to a voice mail box that is full. So, thanks for that. The last two locations don’t even answer their phones.

My next move is just about venting. I go to the DUI’s outdated Web site, looking for a “How are we doing?” link. (In the past, when I’d asked who to complain to, after being placed on hold for 20 minutes, I was given the snail-mail address of the Assistant Comptroller of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Who I am sure is handling customer service issues. Personally. By snail mail. In a backwater of the DUI Web site, I find a number to call if a problem with your claim has not been immediately solved. Well, yes, I think we can fucking say that my problem has not been immediately solved. You might say that DUI has committed aggravated assault against the lining of my stomach. Over a 14-month period.

The recording on the “problem” line sounds just the one on the main line, and even refers callers to the main line, which makes a lot of sense, considering that you’re calling THIS line because THAT line was about as useful as tits on a boar hog. Then it starts ringing. Someone answers. I swallow my own tongue. When I can speak, I realize the words are coming out in a torrent, and I sound exactly like Mel Gibson’s phone messages. I’m ranting, I’m raving, I’m hyperventilating. It’s taken me 8 days to get to a live person to try and get a $217 check out of DUI. The customer service rep starts with the “I know, we’re very busy, we’re doing the best we can,” but then asks for my social security number. She idly scans my account and I hear her say to herself “Well, that’s a problem.” And then, “Why would they have done this?” Finally, the piece d’resistance, “This is a mess.” I feel a little guttering flame of hope kindle in my otherwise dead heart. I’ve become a challenge. I hear determined key strokes. Lots of ‘em.

She begins asking me questions. I’m told that “your benefits really shrank quite a lot in your second extension.” Why yes, thanks for noticing. In fact, my balls still ache from reduction. “Didn’t you apply for the Uelect program?” No, because I don’t know what that is. Is it on the Web site? It is not. Was I sent info about it in the mail? No, I wasn’t. Did DUI contact me about it when my benefits were suddenly halved? No, why would they? Turns out the Obama Administration passed this bill thingamabob to fix the whole “porn pays better than working” doughnut hole. Probably as a footnote hidden in the appendix of a bill making the breeding of chocolate labs to standard poodles illegal. Long and the short of it, I may be entitled to more money. Well, fuckin’ A. When will I know? “Three to four weeks, then an adjuster should free up and start reviewing your case.” I am repossessed by Mel Gibson. Mel is still in an ugly mood.

More furious keystrokes. Much conferring with colleagues in nearby cubes, who all seem completely flummoxed by the intricacies of their own system. But I still present a challenge; maybe I can be saved. “I’ve passed along your case to an adjuster. She’s working out of our Springfield office”—does this matter? Is Springfield where DUI keeps its Special Forces? Unfortunately, I never discover the relevance—“and you should hear from her in the next few days.” Well, that’s something. But I won’t hold my breath. I understand that hypoxia is a really shitty way to go.

The adjuster commando doesn’t call. Her CO does. I tell Mel Gibson’s insane spirit to wait a bit before disappearing into the men’s room for extended jerking-off time. I have qualified for the Uelect program. “On Friday, you should receive direct deposits for 412, 698, 815, 956, and 956.” Huh. “Where does the decimal go?” Confused silence. “Are those amounts in dollars and cents, or in hundreds?” “Oh. Dollars,” the commanding officer says. “As in ‘nine hundred and fifty-six dollars’.” Now I’m silent. My tongue starts sliding toward the back of my mouth and bunching up like a worn carpet over my windpipe. Yesterday, DUI didn’t have time to clear a $217 check. Today, they’ve casually given me almost four thousand dollars.

There are no words.