At the Top of the Mountain

I actually had a fairly positive experience last weekend. Came home to find out I had been tapped to produce a short script THAT EVENING for performance THAT SUNDAY. I bitched, I did it, had it e-mailed out by 10 pm and was hailed as a genius. It performed well, and was judged by many to be a high point of the morning.

So I reflected on this, and remembered reading an article by Tom Robbins, long, long ago. He related how one day he decided he wanted to see the pyramids, so he “asked the Universe for a ticket to Egypt.” that afternoon, Playboy called and asked him to cover the Grateful Dead concert at Giza.

So this morning I asked the Universe for more of that. “I need some paying work like that, writing and performing, what I like to do, what I am good at doing.”

This afternoon, I got a phone call from Mystery Cafe, the dinner theater I quit in exasperation several years ago, asking me to fill in this weekend in a technically demanding role I originated six years ago, and have not performed in nearly three.

Universe, you’re an asshole.

More Thoughtcrimes

As you likely know, Iran (the former Persia) is taking umbrage at the movie 300 and its version of the Battle of Thermopylae (so are some historians, but that’s neither here nor there). Fortunately, The Daily Show is there.

Also: a Michigan school is forbidding use of MySpace not only in the school, but anywhere. Unless St. Hugo’s is able to abuse the Patriot Act (as can, let’s face it, practically anybody else), I really can’t see how this is going to be enforceable.

Speaking of which…

(These last two from the Portal of Evil News Page. Dormez bien.)

Neener Neener

…and HA! to haters, quitters and oh-so-cool “I’m taking it off my Tivo cycle” -ers.

Lost has gotten very interesting again in the last few weeks.

So there.


If you’ve been following the bizarre wars waged in the name of Intellectual Property (including, but not limited to, RIAA lawsuits against toddlers and corpses, the Movie industry assuming that you are buying tickets or DVDs simply to pirate their wares, and abusive DMCA take-down orders) this really comes as no surprise: McDonalds wants the word “McJob” taken from the English language, or at least our dictionaries.

I particularly love this quote: “Dictionaries are supposed to be paragons of accuracy. And it this case, they got it completely wrong,” Walt Riker, a Mickey D’s McSpokesman complained to the Associated Press. “It’s a complete disservice and incredibly demeaning to a terrific work force and a company that’s been a jobs and opportunity machine for 50 years.”

Any sarcastic remark I would make after that would just… plain… lack.

(And thanks to for bringing this McStupidity to my attention)

Expectations done got violated

The Pat Boone album was a big hit.

Go figure.

And now, history

Something occurred to me today, during rare downtime, listening to The Ten.

The History of My Taste in Music

The 60s: “What is that crap? It’s just noise!”

The 70s: “Hey, your record’s stuck.”

The 80s: “What is this crap? That’s so gay.”

The 90s: Lived alone for most of them. That that, haters!

The 90s – 2000s, Married Version: “You listen to that? I just hear noise.”

The Present – The Office: “What is this? I swear, you bring the weirdest crap….”

“It’s Joni Mitchell, for God’s sake.”

That’s Joni Mitchell?”

“I guess you can’t write songs about Big Yellow Taxis and being a free man in Paris forever, huh?”

“Joni Mitchell. Huh.”

Tomorrow: Pat Boone’s heavy metal album. Stay tuned.

The Ten v.001

As I try to get my writing life back in gear, I find myself returning to old ideas that never got utilized. One is the time I decided to write a novel using the Tarot as a guide. Yeah, I know, it’s not original at all; Philip K. Dick did the same thing using the I Ching. I’m not totally following that old route yet, though – for one thing, I can’t find my favorite deck. For another, I simply don’t have the time or unassailable personal space to reach a point of clarity for the cards to speak to me.

What I have done is become oddly obsessed with my MP3 player and what gets connected via the Random function. As this point, I’m unsure whether I’m trying to suss out things about myself or if my subconscious is trying to find usable patterns in sonic synchronicity. More bulletins as they occur, I guess. For the curious, today’s Ten was:

1. Shirley Bassey – Diamonds are Forever
2. Mitchell Froom – The Key of Cool (getting a 404 on that name? It’s the music used in Cafe Flesh)
3. Danny Elfman – Midnight Run
4. Spanky & Our Gang – Sunday Will Never Be the Same
5. Spirit – A Dream Within A Dream
6. Mandingo – Jungle Wedding
7. Nine Inch Nails – Last
8. Oingo Boingo – Dead Man’s Party
9. Pink Floyd – Goodbye, Blue Sky
10. Les Baxter – Tahiti, A Summer Night at Sea

Failed Salesman Gambit of the Day

I have nothing against salesmen; I suppose they serve a function. Even the annoying ones who come into the dental office to offer me special deals on noisemaking devices from Spencer Gifts. Though I have to say: who the hell thinks that sending door-to-door salesmen into a shopping center – and a medical office to boot – is a good idea?

No, what I resent is the sales man who wishes to draw out the conversation, to wear you down, to “get to yes”, as they learned from the Power Point presentations before they were unleashed on the world. Possibly my favorite salesman cliche, which is parroted up to counter the statement that their wares cannot be afforded, is “But how can you afford not to use this?” which is the stupidest thing I can think of right now, and I listen to Rush Limbaugh unwillingly during my lunch drive home (A pox on Clear Channel, too, while I’m at it).

But still. I suppose they serve some function.

Though I can’t say I actually enjoy the Hated Job yet, the vitamins have helped me cope with it better. Until Thursday, anyway. Generally, I can count on the first hour to be unmitigated hell, as everybody who “didn’t want to bother the doctor” calls and insists on bothering him at once, the doctor lays out the things he needs done right now, and the other usual things I try to get done to make things run smoothly.

Then I proceed to do other things (to make the day run smoothly), and have a fair shot at it until 11:00am, the hour before our lunch, when other people are getting off for lunch, and so feel they are at liberty to call and badger me. Thursday was a honey. I get a call from a Whiner (who is not so much a person as an archetype). I have to endure a droning soap opera until I finally get to the point of her call, that she has an appointment in a couple of weeks but a problem that she did not feel important enough to bother the doctor with during her exam last month is now painful. Luckily, this is between appointments, so I scrape her off on the doctor who, unlike me, has actual medical training (a distinction lost on most people who call the office).

It is finally decided to send her off to a specialist. I then get to spend five minutes prying the name of her pharmacy out of her (but not the phone number – a gesund on people who can provide that to me), and explaining to her that a weeks worth of antibiotics and pain medication is not a substitute for the specialist, since if she forgoes that option, we will be having the same conversation in a month, and I will be far less sympathetic then (and at this point, what a friend once referred to as my “give-a-shit” level was very low, indeed). I also use my last stores of patience to explain that I not only do not make appointments for other offices, but have no earthly concept of their fee schedules.

She uses a Walmart, a newer Walmart somewhat out of the area, and therefore not one on the index cards I keep for pharmacy numbers. The Internet is down, so I use the antique Web, ie the yellow pages, and finally resort to calling one of the Walmarts on the same street she has given me, in the hopes that they would have the proper number. Thankfully, the exhausted-sounding lady (I feel for ya, sister) at the first one has the number I need, and I’m on my way to closing that particular case, Watson.

Except that this is one of the Walmart Neighborhood Stores that does not believe in answering their phone. Finally, on the 20th ring, someone in the Photo Developing department gets tired of hearing it and answers, then promises to transfer me to the pharmacy. After a veritable United Nations of voices pick up the line over the course of ten minutes, each promising me, my next stop will be the pharmacy, the Pharmacist Eventually answers the phone, and my blood runs cold as she puts me on hold. She comes back fairly quickly, though, and I finally close the case on the Whiner (for the moment).

Concurrently with all that, another patient calls to cancel her appointment in a couple of hours, and serves up attitude when she discovers we are booked up until the first of next month: “I can’t wait that long!” (The best possible answers, Then don’t freaking cancel an appointment you’ve known about for a month, or Cry me a damn river are not options, for some reason),

Concurrently with all that, the doctor’s wife calls to ask what time we’re getting out that evening. We have already scheduled one emergency for the end of the day, and it is not yet noon; we don’t know what we’ll be doing for the one emeergency we know about. This is a well-traveled road betwixt her and myself, and for the umpteenth time I tell her I have no idea and am not likely to have one. I am told later I was not especially friendly. Gosh, you think?

So. It is now noon. I am trying to get several pages of paperwork faxed to a county office for an autistic patient we had seen that morning. Admittedly, we had 24 hours to do that, but I really don’t like to leave things hanging. Then it happens.

The phone rings.

It’s some guy wanting to sell us basketball tickets at a dental employee discount.

I’m not a sports fan, and neither is the assistant. The doctor likes football and golf. I explained this, said thank you but no thanks, good luck. And then it began. The getting to yes. The questioning, the drawing out, the looking for a hook to get his sale.

Like I said, these guys serve a purpose.

Hello sacrificial lamb.

The phone still bears scars of my invective, but I felt much better and really enjoyed my lunch.

Failed Customer Gambit of the Day

“Hello, I’d like to schedule a cleaning for next week.”

“I’m sorry, next week is Fort Bend ISD’s Spring Break. Wily parents booked that week solid back in January.”

“You know… I’d really hate to have to find a different dentist.”

“Well, that’s your right. Good luck with that.”


Come now, was that really supposed to make me kick an orphan cancer patient or something out of their appointment and give it to you?

I am constantly amazed by people. And also amazed that a simple vitamin early in the morning can cause me to face such an occurrence with bemusement instead of rage and/or depression.

In other news, Order of the Stick #422 is in W I D E S C R E E N ! Now THAT’s epic!

The point at which it all became too much.

So I rediscovered the importance of vitamins lately. Work hasn’t been trashing me nearly as badly, depression has been held at arm’s length, for the most part. Friday was a tough day; we were jam-packed, the emergencies kept coming, and we finally packed it in at 7:00 pm.

Dinner was late, because my wife had a similarly hard week, and hadn’t felt like cooking when she got home. By the time I dragged my butt in, it was underway, however, and we sat down at the table a mere two hours late.

It was beef. I hate beef. She loves it, though, so we eat it quite a bit. There was one point, as I chewed morosely on my meat, that she was chiding me for not rewriting a piece for church I’d no idea I was rewriting at the same time my son was asking his nightly question whether he would get to play City of Heroes after dinner at the same time the pug dog was nudging my leg asking for a piece of meat and I thought oh jesus this is just like work, everybody demanding something at once

Well. I didn’t scream. Maybe I should have. I’m starting to re-consider that whole it-is-better-to-be-feared-than-loved thing, as it certainly has its points.

I’ll be gone most of this weekend, shuttling my boy around so relatives may ooh and aah over him for his 8th birthday. Someone – Dave Barry, perhaps – pointed out that people stop making a big fuss over your birthday about age 12, so I should let him enjoy his golden years.

Me, I have to go punch up a mediocre “worship drama” before bed. I don’t know why this is left to me, a non-Christian, or even worse, why it is I can see how to make the script’s point more cogent (and entertaining) than the original writer, who is, supposedly, of the faith.

I’m just going shrug and chalk it up to the Big Guy and his mysterious ways. Please note I just deleted several lines of philosophy, cuz I ain’t got the time, and you likely don’t have the patience right now.

Wish me luck – I have two days and remarkably little time to regain my sanity before Monday arrives again like a mundane Mongol horde.