please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

My Photo
Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Here's Why Nothing Works

You know what your life needs? A soundtrack. Something in the neighborhood of nine seconds long or so that just plays over and over again until you ask it to stop. In this vein, may I suggest...The 'Oh Brother' Punchline theme.
(That was entirely the work of The In Crowd, over at I'm Learning To Share!, who noted the passing of longtime Hanna-Barbera composer/arranger Hoyt Curtin by isolating the greatest bits of his work, and naming them.)

When I hear that tiny overture to failure, I consider the mendacity of Hollywood Lights. On Craigslist this morning, I see that they're hiring. This is odd, since they've been firing anyone with half an ounce of competence for the last year, while holding onto valuable people who happen to be related to the owner.

In this -of course- they strongly resemble the greater part of the American business community. For the last...Decade? Longer, surely. Anyway; this trend of continuing to cut labor while never ever getting rid of management is really making us all look like a bunch of goons who don't deserve to even be offered Nice Things. They keep eliminating Bone, until all that's left is Fat, which won't support you, if you're a Leg, say.
Thing is, all this cost-cutting that never seems to actually eliminate costs is done due to the bewildering vicissitudes of the market, y'know, which you'd think Management would be better at navigating. This is to say: it's their fault, but they never seem to lose their jobs, or even take a pay cut.

Now again, the Obvious Disclaimer: you can't run anything with only labor, or only management. It's cooperative; they need each other. But try telling that to some smilin' joe who thinks that only the people with the necessary capital should get to survive in this world.

Suddenly you'll be hearing that word 'Marxist' again, which keeps making a weird resurgence, especially in conversations that have nothing to do with economics. It's been a decade or two since I've met anyone who actually describes themselves as one, but any time you say you like da queeahs or something, you will be called this antiquated socio-economic term. To hear reactionaries tell it, we're surrounded with Marxists right now. And Leninists too, probably.

A popular trope among those with no discernible principles is to go on and on about how principled they are. And since you didn't ask, o Craigslist reader who is looking for a job in stage and event lighting, here's Hollywood Lights' principalia!

* We lead with INTEGRITY. We are committed to doing what is right, even when there is great pressure to do otherwise.

* Our PASSION drives us: Be it our passion for creativity in design, our passion for providing innovative solutions to our client's challenges, or our passion for exceeding our client's expectations.

* We strive for a culture of DISCIPLINE. We desire to hire disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and disciplined action.

* TEAMWORK is encouraged and fostered through open communication, along with the knowledge that through collaboration we are greater than the sum of our parts.

* We embrace CHANGE and the opportunities it offers.

* We strive to grow wisely and PROFITABILY.

[A few notes about that:
1) I would hazard a guess that no substantial pressure is being brought to bear on this company to Do Wrong. But nonetheless they keep on stickin' up for what's right, eh? Go Team Integrity!

2) I've seen a lot of companies promise Passion. It's just generally not this embarrassing.

3) The inclusion of 'Discipline' here makes this lighting company sound like a leather daddy.

4) "Our approach to Teamwork is to get rid of most of the Team! This Works for us!"

5) 'Change', huh? Really? Good for you. You like the inevitable.

6) The word you want there is 'profitably', not Profitbily, which -with the addition of one more 'l'- would make an awesome musical genre.
Also: a company that wishes to make a profit, eh? Will the wonders never cease?]

So in closing: Christ, you people suck. I hope you fail, and you deserve to be losing all your business to Christie Lights.
I wish the same failure to Timberline Dodge, Jeep & Chrysler, but on the other hand, they're already heading there of their own accord, if I had to guess.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Blurst of Times?

"It has been said many times and in many ways that what the world needs now is another rock n' roll band."- the first line of the (uncredited) liner notes to Steely Dan's first album, "Can't Buy A Thrill" (1972)

In the interest of agglomerating all the things that get gathered in lists at the end of years, and especially decades, here's a list of what actually turns out to be the top 37 things of this rotten decade. Wonkette nails it, I think, especially; "Al Franken not only beat that fucking slimeball Norm Coleman, but finally compensated America for that long dull Lizard-People recount by making Joe Lieberman cry in the Senate." Yes.

It's nice that we're all so sadly in agreement on this one. We all agree that the Aughts sucked, including our inability to give them a decent title. While you'll see plenty of 'best of' lists, the 'worst of' lists are, as always, way more amusing.
And just to say it here, as far as all the things that happened that were good, I've already given plenty of thanks elsewhere. You know who you are. And this isn't the forum. Hell, I'm not even necessarily talking about the decade; I'm just talking about shit that annoys and disgusts me, which is more or less why everybody blogs, at one point or another.

Okay, so there's this...Um, some background: Bill Mack is someone I hadn't previously heard of, ere I came to know the wonder that is the Willie station on satellite radio. He had a career in early rockabilly, and is a country recording artist of some acclaim...He wrote "Blue", which was a hit for a young Le Anne Rimes...And -OH JE-SUS! DID YOU GO LOOK AT THAT EVIL FUCKING SONG YET?

Bill has -and I'm eternally sorry that I can't find an mp3 of this somewhere that you don't have to pay for: I've been looking for a month- a voice that is so flat as to be monotonous. He spends loads of his time on air thanking various D-List country stars that are currently plowing the fields of Christian Show Biz for making such a big difference in everyone's lives, and; "I love ya', pal!" This is all said with the same amount of emotion as the standardized FCC text that you read after the emergency broadcast signal is tested.

This is also the case with "God, Jesus & Me". Bill talk-sings his way through it to the strains of everything that is bad and maudlin about the country music there. One of the things that makes country so compelling when it works is how rooted in tradition it is. You feel like you're part of something that is at least on the road to being eternal. On the other hand, it's caused decades and generations of cheap little bastards to flock to it, knowing that they don't really have to try very hard. It leads to the kind of lazy marketing that gives rise to things like Mysticallie, The People's Horse.

And while "The angels are so cool" is an awful lyric, especially said in a flat, affectless tone by an old hack...When I didn't know the actual title of this song, and thought that it was "A Child's Letter from Heaven", what I found instead was something much worse: a similar poem titled "An Aborted Baby's Letter from Heaven". You know, I think I'll let you go find that one yourself, if you feel like looking at it.

The point is, I think I may have found the worst song of the Aughts. It takes its place alongside the worst Christmas song, which may be found here:

Ah, we're not done here. Tomorrow: my favorite internet argument of the past year.


Monday, December 07, 2009

The Treachery of Images

You know how time passes? Yeah. Let's review the small brick of identification badge photos I occasionally wear around.
Although let it be said first that I am not one of those stagehands who never, ever take the damn things off. I don't understand this, as the damn things will almost certainly get in your way while working, and to those who practice this strange pretension, I inevitably make jokes about needing to "sniff each others' laminates" to identify one another.
They always act like they don't get it.

Now see, that one there is the one I use when I work at the Rose Garden. It is from three, maybe four years ago. Damn, that's a young-looking me, considering. And I might add that probably at the time, I spent not a little time looking in the mirror and sighing piteously. Even then.

Whereas this one here is from a year or two later. I use it to open doors at that shoe manufacturing concern that I occasionally work at.
Okay, it opens one door, and I haven't actually worked there directly for the company in over a year. Here, I have already started to gain weight, feeling weird about same.

Whenever I work in Seattle Center, I gotta use this thing. A few more years had passed, and I was a bit more okay with my perma-beard used to conceal increasing chin swag, further enchanted with my ever-so-subtly graying hair.

It also, of course, has a film flaw that makes it look like I've got a perfectly flat, white, horizontal scar that runs -strangely- over my moustache on the right side of my face.

It also just says RICH, in caps. No last name.

This one is my favorite, as I look like a murderer. It is the one I use when I work at the casino, and due to the exigencies of digital photography, my head is somewhat longer here than it generally appears. And both my moustache and eyes are drooping in a manner that I for one find sinister.

Would you employ this man? He looks like he's looking for ways to do something that will result in the mug shot that this already resembles being taken.

Speaking of casino work, let us briefly consider the career arc of one Harry Wayne Casey, who we know (and love) as K.C., leader of The Sunshine Band.

That's a pretty flattering photo. I know this because I spent last Saturday evening more or less forced to stare at him, as I was training a spotlight on him.

This act has always been a pretty good band fronted by a pretty bland singer that sings bland lyrics. He has decided to reinforce this by being embarrassing.

Okay; a whole three songs into the set, he stops everything. The band, the dancers all leave the stage, and K.C. engages in ten to fifteen minutes worth of the worst stand-up comedy I've ever heard. This even included the line, "What else is going on in the news these days?" This was followed by three maudlin ballads.

Then he got back into some crowd-pleasin'. This isn't hard, since there's at least ten songs they could play that literally everybody there would know. But again we stop- introduce the band! Okay, now we do "Get Down Tonight", but wait- you know what would be really appropriate? How about a disco-themed salute to Our Troops Overseas? God Bless America!

Yup. That's every bit as bad as it sounds. Mind you, Ronnie Milsap was a pretty funny show too.

Ronnie is also heavy on the god-and-flag love, but pretty much everybody on the casino circuit is. Not only are you inevitably playing to a house of Olds, but you also have the fragile egos of performers themselves to consider. The fragility is increased tenfold the morning they wake up and realize that now all they're good for is casinos and state fairs. They cry a bit, and then start getting religious.

Anyway, Ronnie's lighting director is also a longtime friend and Superfan, which I'm told he was being ridiculed for by the rest of the roadies. For my part, I can say that he was almost too busy laughing at Ronnie's jokes and singing along to call the light cues properly. Fortunately, Ronnie doesn't move much.

This show too, had a comedic element. It was opened by this asshole who apparently is also a longtime friend/superfan. He tells shitty jokes! Then he leaves, and heeere's Ronnie! When he did the inevitable "My record company is a buncha crooks..." type joke, lighting director Superfan says, "Oh, don't go there...Heh heh heh..."

Jeeezus. And when Ronnie made the joke later on that the spotlights we were training on him were "so bright that even I can see 'em!", the crowd turned around and glared at us, as if we were trying to hurt Ronnie, or make fun of him.

After the show, and the thank Jeebus, and Bless Our Troops, after Ronnie left the stage and house lights came up, a family of tanks came up to Corey and I and said, "Not your kinda music, huh?" Corey just shrugged his shoulders, and I said, "Drive safely."