Mothers’ Day 2015

motherly_love

The lore is that the band known as The Mothers was christened on Mothers’ Day. I guess. I mean it sounds like the kind of story that could have actually happened or the kind of story that a man keenly interested in writing his own story largely would later tell. I don’t know. Then again, it would certainly match the AAAFNRAA creative model.

So yesh. Mother’s Day, which, with the new job I actually get to do something about since I don’t work Sundays. I mean the greeting cards went out last week of course. Say, have I mentioned to you Aaron’s rule of shopping for greeting cards?

Do not. I repeat. Do not take longer than two minutes to select a greeting card. Ever.

Reason one being of course, that one should not spend one’s precious life moments furrowing one’s brow trying to decide between sending a loved one the puppy or the kitty greeting card. There is, however, a better reason than sheer laziness: It is more effective.

If you don’t see the greeting card you seek in two minutes or less, you have simply not found the right card and you should move on. You approach the greeting card aisle generally aware of the level of sentiment or humor you want to impart and generally what message you wish to communicate. Either the right card will leap at you or you have not found it. Setting a two-minute deadline for yourself prevents the second-guessing, the hemming and hawing, strategies that are guaranteed to help you choose a milquetoast, inappropriate greeting.

Just a little unsolicted advice from me to you. Filed under Hints from Abelard.

So, yes, I woke up this morning and got myself together, then walked to Hart’s to grab a few victuals, including ground beef to later this week make some Sloppy Joe, some burger patties to boot, some Ithaca Farms ogrets, and a few other essentials, including beer. I then returned home and drank one of the beers and called the matriachical figures in my family to wish them good tidings. Then drove out to the farm and ate meat with the family. Stepmom recalled her formative training in muckraking hilarity, remembering when she was young and her Mom would drag her to protest the Tocks Island Dam. Fitting, since Mother’s Day originated not so much as a greeting card pusher’s fantasy but as a tribute to one mother’s peace activism.

Seriously. Go look it up.

Then Dad and I sat down and watched one of the truly great and utterly overlooked movies of 2014: Chris Rock’s Top Five.

I could not help but draw comparisons between Top Five and another of last year’s offerings, Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), which was for some reason quite critically acclaimed. The premise is similar, actor who previously found immense success with schlocky roles tries to pack on some credibility. The difference is that Chris Rock’s film is a likeable, accessible, smart, ribald, and funny movie, while the Michael Keaton vehicle was a self-indulgent, horrible piece of poo that I hated so much that I resented it for keeping me in the theater.

I could watch Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson banter for an entire film, which is fortunate because that approaches at least half of it. (Ah, let’s face it, I could watch Rosario Dawson do anything for any length of time. But that’s beside the point.) The banter introduces the movie and drives the story forward throughout, and it is a joy to watch. The writing is excellent and the cameos will keep you standing and pointing.

How that Birdman piece of crap garnered Best Picture and this thing only got a nod from the Critic’s Choice Awards is beyond me.

P.S. My top five: Public Enemy. De La Soul. MC Serch. Sage Francis. And let’s even it out with Mr. Chubb Rock.

I know. Too many white guys. What can I say. My sixth would be the word famous Beastie Boys to completely ruin it. Oh well.

Sound & Color

The most remarkable thing about the Alabama Shakes’ new release, Sound & Color, is how savagely it bests its predecessor, the band’s post-EP debut Boys & Girls.

Who could imagine that this band could dig deeper? That they could exhibit more aplomb in musicianship? That they could draw upon more musical influences? Who could imagine that Brittany Howard could be more compelling a vocalist? Who could dream of what this band would sound like once it discovers multi-tracking for her vocals? That their music could remind me of the Beatles? That their music could remind me of Prince? Who knew that their songwriting could be this much better?

Boys & Girls was in my mind a perfect album. But it is beat into the ground by Sound & Color. This is a sonic triumph.

Now, leave me be. I have some serious listening to do.

17 Days

They can train you for 17 days, they can teach you every system, every TLA in the book, I mean you would not believe what goes into delivering your dose of fresh clean entertainment to your home every day, the systems, from the central facility to the local office to the pedestal outside your house that you always wonder about as walk or jog past it, like, what is that thing for? guess what, it’s probably the thing that brings your cable service to your home, to the aerial wire to the NID to your receiver inside, you would not believe how far that signal travels and how many men and women it takes to get it there, it really is a thing to behold. But they can train you for 17 days, and even though the trainer is dogged and funny and delivers the material effectively, you simply cannot ever be ready for the first days, the first days, when there will be strangers on the phone desiring answers from you, and to deliver those answers you must be in a minimum of four computer tools, maybe more, and they are complicated freaking tools, and the fact is that despite 17 days of training, you do not actually know a darned thing, and you feel feeble-kneed, and you say “uhhhhh” a lot, and you know you’re not meeting the client’s quality metrics, or the time metrics, or the service metrics, or the metrics metrics.

When I’m pretending that I’m a coach, I’m always saying, drop a pin right here because I’m going to tell you something you’re going to need in the middle of that call, in the middle of that call where the person is overly-insistent, or angry, or difficult, get the pin you dropped because here’s what I said when you dropped it: That is the customer who’s going to improve you. That is your breakthrough guy, your light-bulb over yer head, your teachable moment. When you are sweating and squirming and saying “uhhhhh” a lot, that, my friends, is called “learning.” And when you’re done with that call, you will, involuntarily, put your hands in the air like Bruce Friggin’ Jenner, because that feels goooooooood.

I’m just saying. I had one of those today.

I know I’ve been a mess lately, a real big whining pain in the ass making noises like a wounded dog. Sorry about that. I haven’t faced a disappointment that arduous in several years. And circumstances surrounding these 17 days made it more so the bittersweet. But that I’m having moments like that at my job, that is a good sign. The agita is lessening and the clouds seem to be parting.

Brought To You by Corona

Hooray for NBC for embarking on a bold programming choice in broadcasting live boxing matches last evening and for several Saturdays to come via Premier Boxing Champions. I cannot tell you how much fun it was to sit with my Dad and watch boxing on regular ol’ network television, just like he used to do with his DOD.

As a sport, boxing is faltering. Because the only way to appreciate the sport is to cough up the ridiculous PPV fee. So I only know who Manny Pacquiao is. I had no idea who any of the fine boxers were they had on last night, but they were exceptional pugilists. Who knew there were any Irish boxers left? I do now; Andy Lee held American scrapper Peter Quillin to a decision draw by for 12 rounds. Heck, I assumed all Britons and their neighbors left the sport after Pacquiao destroyed Hatton’s career in two rounds in 2009.

Anyway, that was really fun. More boxing on TV. Yeah yeah yeah.

*

So yeah I don’t write here as often anymore. It’s been a pretty harrowing month, all related to ups and downs at the job. I’ll just say this about that: I have always assumed that if someone got down on their hands and knees and kicked and screamed in a temper tantrum while at work, it would be me.

That was one of the strangest things I’ve seen in my whole entire life.

And friends, I’ve seen some thangs.

*

Pumped Up Kicks

I still don’t know what pumped up kicks are.

The trainer we have is excellent. He tells us little funny anecdotes to keep things moving through eight hours of training. One of his anecdotes he had to mention the band Foster the People, and the song started in my brain again.

I HATE that song.

I remember when I first heard the song, with its catchy beat and its lilting vocals and its crazy pop sensibility. It bit my foot hard and didn’t let go. I couldn’t wait for it to come around again. I think I even bought it off of Amazon.

Some kind of shoes? I guess?

Then I listened to the song. Really listened.

It’s not new territory for a song to cover, certainly. Bob Geldoff did, as did Pearl Jam. But neither of those songs were deceptive about it. Certainly with “Jeremy” the music, the tone of it, the horror pastiche it creates, melds with the subject matter.

The FTP song just makes a kid plotting to kill his classmates seem like a walk in the park.

I always wondered how that band could continue after Sandy Hook.

Anyway. That’s my sideways way of saying that the gig I was babbling about here some weeks ago did not pan out and now I’m at a new gig and still training so that I can answer phones and explain things to people.

So that happened.

Net Neutrality: Nefarious Socialist Plot

Many are applauding today the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to reclassify internet service providers using the same rules that are currently used on utilities like wired phones, thereby assuring the continued schema of Tim Wu’s “net neutrality.”

Many people think this is a good thing. As the purveyor of a long-running, independent blog, I think this is a good thing.

Revered God Advocate Pat Robertson doesn’t think it is a good thing.

“The internet is a marvel of the world. It is free. Think of how many businesses have been spawned on the internet, think how much web traffic there is, think how much i-business goes on, think of all the conveniences that we have now as consumers and think of the constant improvement, the speeds and the things that are being done to improve the service that we have on the internet. Now, they want to treat it like it’s a water company or an electric utility with 1934 regulation.”

Yes, the FCC moved today to bring the Internet under the auspices of a common carrier, rules that have served the telecommunications industry for decades now.

“The Obama people, you don’t understand, ladies and gentlemen, the socialist agenda is to take control of everything. They got their hands on health care and they’re about to ruin it, and now they want to ruin the Internet. And I don’t know what we can do to stop it.”

Yes, that’s what it is. It’s a socialist plot. You know. To keep Comcast from throttling network speeds for the little guys (like us here at 8WK.)

I don’t want to live under a dictatorship. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Let’s fight for it. If you don’t stand up and say something, they’re going to run over you like a steamroller. That’s what’s going on. Our liberties are being eroded every single day that those guys are up there in Washington doing what they do.

How wrong can one fella be? (Source: Right Wing Watch)

I mean, while yer wrong about that, Pat, you might as well be wrong about the likelihood of discovering life in outer space.

Folks, I want to tell you something; they talk about life on other planets. In my opinion, there’s nothing but gaseous balls and barren rocks up in space. That’s all that’s there.

You see, because Pat Robertson believes it, it has to be true. Even though, for example, Jupiter’s Europa may have lots and lots of water and a reasonable temperature for sustaining marine life therein; and even though scientists are isolating more Goldilocks planets every day (eight just last month); no, if Pat Robertson believes it, it must be true.

This planet is where God has got an experiment in what he wants to have accomplished. But somehow, people want to spend a lot of money to go to Mars! I don’t want to think that Mars is someplace I want to visit, and it would take a lot of money to get there!

What a visionary! (Source: Raw Story)

Of course, Robertson is taking the only logical position he can on the matter. Because his primary reference doesn’t really cover that eventuality (I think we’ll be able to substantiate off-Terra life within 20 years.)

Manny Vs. Money

The hat I’ve been wearing all week says “Pacquiao vs. Hatton.”

Only yesterday did I get called out on the hat, by the man who sold me a certain ethyl orange juice additive.

He misremembered the fight, though, recalling it as the one where Manny Pacquiao suffered a rare KO (three in his career). I corrected him. Ricky Hatton, previously undefeated in the light welterweight class, was knocked down twice in round one and KO’d in round two by a single hit to the right side of his head.

It was a smart move by Pacquiao. He sort of telegraphs with his right and then brings in his left to clobber Hatton, whose troubles are exacerbated by the fact that he’s clearly OUT by the punch and so has no way to stop his head from hitting the canvas when he lands.

Therefore, my hat is kind of funny. Because the fight it touts ended up not being much of a fight at all. In fact, it pretty much finished Ricky Hatton’s pugilistic career.

I’m wearing it this week of course because it was announced that Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have at last agreed to terms to meet in the ring on May 2. I have not read yet how they circumvented the testing issue, (probably with something technically and legally referred to as “buckets and buckets of money”) but at long last, Manny and Money will meet in the ring.

After that, I reckon boxing is pretty much over.


A nice way to start your day: You walk downstairs and, taped to the door of the pizza shop that used to live next-door to me but moved across the street six months ago, is a sign that says: East Avenue Pizza Shop and Deli coming soon! And there’s a big pile of lumber in there!

Yay!

A bad way to end my day: Losing my f&%‪#‎ing‬ debit card.

BAD. BAD BAD BAD. (S’okay, I cancelled it immediately.)


Congratulations to the Cleveland Browns on their new logo and presentation standards.

browns_logo


You Can’t Handle the Mute


Oscar Night

It came up Saturday afternoon, as I was hanging out as I often do with my DOD and my GOAB (Grandfather Of Another Brother), when one asked the other, so, will you be watching the Oscars on Sunday?

HELL NO, I won’t be watching the Oscars, said the other.

How about you, Aaron?

I had to admit that I would probably have that particular broadcast turned on.

Because, why not? What else is on? Just put on this mindless television program and get to working on some project or another. Fold some towels. Something.

A few brief observations.

Right before the Best Picture Oscar was presented, I was asked in private chat which movie would win. Birdman, I replied quickly.

Because I hated Birdman.

I really did. I hated this movie. I mean, I fell asleep during this movie, not because I was sleepy, but to escape it. In my waking moments during the movie, I seethed with resentment toward this messy, horrible piece of shit for keeping me in the theater. It made me hate Michael Keaton, and, even worse, it made me hate the living hell out of Emma Stone. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it.

So, naturally, it won Best Picture.

In fact, the best 2014 movie I saw didn’t even get to stand in line outside the Kodak Theater Sunday. It was called Obvious Child, starring the ever watchable and funny Jenny Slate, a film that leads me to chant obsessively that the world needs more Jenny Slate. In face, 2014 kind of sucked for movies in general. I mean, what, The Homesman, because movies seem to love to kill the heck out of Hillary Swank? The Grand Budapest Hotel was an unwelcome assault on my senses…Just seemed like a downer of a year for film in general.

The broadcast itself had its moments, the most sparkling bit being the performance of music from The Sound of Music by Lady Gaga. Time after time, this woman just confounds; as she ran through her medley, I could not help but think that I was watching the smartest pop singer in the history of the genre. Many would eschew this opportunity and would only want to sing their own hits; Gaga gladly took on the material, executed flawlessly, and ended by embracing an 80-year-old Julie Andrews. It is seldom to see a popular artist display such versatility and cultural intelligence and respect.

The rest. You know. Meh.