Working for the Weakened

16 02 2011

He’s seen the gently shadowed glen

That speaks to him with paper whispers

And canticles of melancholy.

Today he is basking unwillingly

In the artificial azure light

And fluorescent ten minute breaks,

But his alphabet goes beyond sigma

and he won’t be constrained

by ergonomic chairs.

Come jubilee, he’ll enter nothing

But the sweet reverie of amnesiacs

And bliss brought on by glorious labor.

For it was never work itself that atrophied

the bones, nor toil on its own,

But always absence of object.

So punching in and out

Need not be anything else

But joy for his own sake.



One week to go

21 09 2008

I spoke to everyone imaginable at the La Mirada Olive Festival this weekend, and I was impressed by the fact that the most enjoyable conversation of all was with Councilman Pete Dames, who was more than willing to bring me up to date on everything I could have ever wanted to know about La Mirada. Apparently Beatitudes Church was having their carnival, which really took a lot of the crowd away from the smorgasbord that was the food tent; the boss gave me a punch card to “sample” the food when I arrived to cover the event, which translated into more food than I could ever have wanted after using only 20% of my food credits. There was food there.

Anyway, I quickly recalled how much I do enjoy talking to people after getting over the hump (the first interview is always the toughest — you haven’t really gotten a “feel” for the event in some cases, and what they want to say may not line up with what you’re asking) and striking up a few fun conversations. I talked about classic cars, the economy, local bands, the hardships of owning a business right now and why most of the businesses there were stupid. 

It was fun.

However, it would have been a lot more fun if I hadn’t been sick. I donned my standard outdoors disguise for interviewing, but I suspect that my pallor still radiated noticeably in the midst of the waning summer heat. Not that anyone specifically minded, you understand, but still — feeling less than 100% always leaves me wondering if I really performed my duties to the best of my abilities. 

Thankfully, I really like to talk about cars. That helped a lot. 


At the end of the day, though, I really couldn’t put it any better than Dick Gard the Retired Aluminum Shop Owner did:

“I mostly babysit my grandkids now.”


(My throat is scratchy now. Go away.)


9 09 2008

Woke up at 5:10 this morning, not totally sure why. Couldn’t get back to sleep, so finally crawled out of bed at like 6:30. Bleah.  I suspect that my body was refusing to relax again since it knew I had to be at a morning Chamber of Commerce meeting/breakfast at 7:30, but still — 5? Really, Mr. Body?

Dressed appropriately/garbed with pure hot, I left the house feeling ready to sleep in my car. Instead, I got to sit at the table which all the city employees chose to bless with their presence. No, thanks, I’d rather not admit that I will be asking you all for a favor in the near future. Let’s just eat. Pass the caffeine, hm?

As if my energy levels weren’t depleted enough, Randall noticed a blood drive going on down the street, which had FREE ICE CREAM. I’ll trade my plasma for milkfat any day of the week, baby. Randall was so excited that he blew his vein (artery?) all over the floor. Good thing I got the reliable nurse. I always seem to get along well with nurses, especially female ones. Maybe they just sense that indefinable quality within me: The quality of being a smarmy mass of pomposity who will submit to the demands of the healthcare professional with a smile and a compliment.

Oh yeah. I really wanted that ice cream.

Tried to overeat at lunch to make up for lost nutrients, but I think I broke the scale in my attempt to tip it. Insert fat jokes here, but be aware — I’m in better shape than I’ve been in years. Specifically, a sort of pentagonal shape. Say pentagonal again without laughing. Now again….again…gotcha.

At teaching land, I got yanked from 4th grade (where I’ll be for the forseeable future) back into 6th today since Kevin apparently didn’t feel the need to get a replacement. Hey, at least I knew two of the kid’s names right off the bat.  Biggest accomplishment? Getting a smile from Jason, who only speaks Korean, when I communicated to him, through pointless English (habit) and gestures, that he only had to do one page of homework instead of two. Oh, the adoration these kids bestow upon their lenient taskmasters…

Dropped Randall off once I got home and went straight over to the city council meeting — was about ready to sleep, but the halls of justice wait for no man. Fortunately, the civic center usually takes its time, so I just got to hear the “under God” in the pledge of allegiance. It’s a good sign, right?

If you’re interested, Sam’s Burger’s was denied a liquor license because of density concerns. Please, try not to scream that loudly in the future. The kids are asleep.

Happened to see Jason and John O. there too. Small world. Especially when you only go across the street, turnsout.

And, how was this day capped?

Colbert. Doyle. Ethier.

It felt so right. Except that I wanted to go to bed at 8. Grandma would be ashamed of me.


27 08 2008

I was running around a bit yesterday when I found myself while enjoying a brief moment of respite in the city hall parking lot, hoping to catch a mayor/council member on their way out of a closed session.  The Dodger game was on the car radio; I was wearing the appropriate garb (Garb should be a new age clothing store. Or a swear word) for a city council meeting, which is to say that I was far from my optimal Dodger game enjoyment outfit of shorts and a ripped shirt. 

It was perfect. 

Naturally, as soon as I made my way into the building to check on the progress of the session, some snot-nosed little ball of pretension asked me: “Can I help you?

Realize this: I have only ever given the most cursory of efforts to evaluate my personality type, but even these efforts have agreed with my own notions about my being judgmental.  I take some kind of perverse pride in my (probably overrated) acute ability to evaluate people from the moment of our first interaction.  I’m not unique in this way, to be sure.  To some degree, everyone picks up on intonations, inflections and body language in their relations with other people.  I simply prefer to exercise this act of observation on a more intense level than other people I know.  I would never deny that it is a rather arrogant thing to do, especially given the amount of times I have incorrectly pigeonholed those that deserved much better estimations of their value.  Nevertheless, I have found my observances and deductions to be accurate (to a greater or lesser degree) the vast majority of the time. 

So you can understand why I saw no problem in immediately pegging this guy in his late 20s as a patronizing ass from head to toe.

Upon seeing the main council chamber doors open and the room empty, I asked this fellow, the only person around, if everyone had already left for the evening. Thus continued our exchange:

“Yes, they’re all gone.”

 “Oh, that’s too bad, I was hoping to talk to a few of the council members after their closed session.”

“Oh, are you doing a project for class or something?”

“I’m with a newspaper and I had a few questions about the new City Manager selection process.”

“Oh, what newspaper are you with?”

– Understand now, how annoyed I was at his line of questioning so far. He first assumed I was a student, which might have been excusable given my age alone, but my attire and demeanor both suggested, in my mind, someone who knew the drill, had done it many times before, and was not asking for a tour guide. He, however, chose to assault (and make no mistake, that’s exactly what he was doing) my justification for being in the public hall during normal hours and requesting to speak with public employees. However, I would have just written off the encounter had he not then proceeded to really irritate my sense of respect. –

“I’m with the City Insider.”

“Oh. Well, they’re in a closed session right now.”

“Yes, I know. I was at the meeting, but I was hoping to get a word with one of them afterwards.”

“Oh, well they’re going to be in there for a little while, but I can’t really say how long it will be.”

“All right, well I have a deadline to meet for some other pieces tonight, so I’ll just come back tomorrow afternoon and talk to some other people.”

“Oh, well you see, the council members don’t keep regular office hours.”

“Yes. I know. I was planning on speaking to the city clerk or someone instead.”

“Well, you could wait around here if you like; they might not be that much longer.”

At which point I told him no, thank you, I need to be going, and promptly walked out the door muttering rude epithets about his faux hawk under my breath.

Really, I have patiently endured belittling and flagrantly insulting people time after time; the sneer metrosexuals with an intolerable air of arrogance and implicit contempt, however, need do very little to drive me right to the brink of unprofessionalism and scorn. 

Also murder.


(Fresh and Easy’s delightfully priced wares proved to be sorely inadequate consolation for such an inane and demeaning encounter. Quelf, however, managed to reclaim my formerly affable nature through much more unconventional means.)

Enduring the Endearment

9 08 2008

As China continues to ignore the Darfur atrocities, (even going so far as to revoke Joey Cheek’s visa) it’s hard to get excited about the Olympiad this year.

Every moment of the opening ceremonies was hard to swallow to some degree — isn’t this all celebrating the country that continues to oppress and silence those who dissent? More people than ever before watched thousands of Chinese citizens put on the most extravagant opening fanfare ever conceived, but the only thing that sticks in my mind is a short clip of Bush and Putin leaning over and talking animatedly. I wonder what about.

As my nationalism continues its battle with my conscience, I struggle to perceive China in a better light. Every image on Friday night seemed to speak, often literally, about replacing the old image of China with a new one; I heard the new message, but I don’t know if I will ever stop seeing the old messenger.

One of my friends was in China last year for some very low-key missions work. In every email he sent me, words and phrases that even hinted at Christianity had to be filtered and couched in such terms so as to make them innocuous. God was “father” and evangelizing was “sharing.” To the average Chinese citizen, Tiananmen Square was a place where “some bad people did some bad things.” Of course, these beliefs are due in large part to the fact that they are unable to even look up the protests on the web at all. Many reporters at the Games this year who have encountered the same preventative measures have received little response from a government that had formerly promised to drop all of its restrictions for the Games.

Of course, as Joey Cheek well knows, promises are easy to make when you don’t have the whole world watching to make sure you go through with them.

If you need me, I’ll be cheering for Lopez Lomong. (Thanks to Jesse over at Magnolia Mountain for this one.)

Blogosphere, Shmogosphere

25 06 2008

It has become apparent to me that despite the diversity found in the world of web logging, most people usually have one of the following styles running through their little corner of the internet:

The Look Ma, it’s a real website! blog. This often begins as a running commentary on some issue or group of people or tv show that you care way too much about. Once enough readers are visiting the site, the blogger then treats the blog as he would a business. Comments are limited and/or blocked, posts are very regular and curiously oriented advertising starts to show up. If the site doesn’t soon after lose its webhost in the URL, the blogger is a cheapskate who takes himself too seriously. Basically the super-niche magazines for enthusiasts. Subscribe at your own risk.

The Oh no, don’t read my diary! blog. Despite the “Web” part of “Web Log,” these people still put up their relationship problems and familial issues for everyone to read. It has something to do with the desire to pour out one’s feelings coupled with the desire for sympathy. Basically, it’s emotional prostitution online. No normal person wants to hear about your deep inner struggles with some old girlfriend’s comments on your Myspace page. We just don’t care, so stop putting it out there. These are essentially the unedited letters to the editor in any issue of Seventeen magazine, except with more grammatical errors.

The Everything and everyone is stupid (except me) blog. Basically an unending string of “the stupid @#($!*@ gas companies are $#!#*@!$ me over because I can’t buy my !@#*!@& case of Corona and drive out to Newport every day anymore in my raised Silverado, man.” There’s also the “I was at the grocery store today, and the $@*! checker totally overcharged me like those #$*!$@*# always do at the !#@$))(()((( grocery store, wtf its like u no i jus wanna buy food not pay like 50 bux for your stupid mistake you !$@*$!@.” Read solely by your loser friends, these blogs are like the smelly homeless people of the internet.

The I may not be cool but you’re even lamer blogs. These are generally run by egomaniacal people with just enough intelligence to occasionally say something interesting. Unfortunately, this is much more of the exception than the rule — everything else is just pointless tripe that is both self-deprecatingly and bitingly sarcastic. You might get a chuckle out of these on occasion but beware of complimenting the author, as it often gives his already unhealthily-sized ego reason to grow. These are like the yuppies who drink their Kopi Luwak coffee and talk about how America should be burnt to the ground and rebuilt like Switzerland, except with less freedom and more coffee. Everyone in the world is an idiot, but the author not-so-secretly hints at how much less of an idiot he is when compared to the masses of idiots around him. Kind of like the Michael Moore of blogs, except they hate America more.

The I write what I want, please care about it blogs. These guys are usually a little pretentious but it’s only because they don’t value their readers enough to filter themselves more. Kind of like Newsweek in that they are written because the authors think they need to be written, but no one really thinks of them as anything more than a mildly interesting place to get headlines from. People that know the author personally will visit every now and again, but the blog could die a quick death and nobody would be terribly disappointed. They’re usually started simply because the author thinks highly enough of himself to dole out his work upon the unsuspecting public in hopes that they’ll be enlightened by his infinite wisdom and debonair good looks. They should also send this author money whenenver they get the chance, because then he’ll buy stuff that will lead to more wisdom for them to read.

–  – – –  –

I’m sure I missed one or two, but if you think your blog doesn’t fit into any of these categories, let me know and I’ll be sure to prove you wrong. Pretentiously, of course.