Extraordinary Popular Delusions

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dear WSB

I’ve held off on sending this e-mail because I assumed the situation would eventually play itself out. Unfortunately (if not unexpectedly), you’ve proven me wrong. But I have a lot of respect for your station, and I figure you’d like the opportunity to correct this problem.

These two news stories have nothing to do with each other, except that they’ve been linked in my mind because of the way one of them eclipsed the other one. A few weeks ago, I caught a mid-day newscast (probably 12:00 or 12:30) and heard that “There’s been an arrest in the south Georgia wildfire case, but we’ve got this breaking news for you: There are allegations that Michael Vick is involved in dog-fighting!!”

At the time, I remember thinking that I didn’t care about Michael Vick, but I was VERY interested in the wildfire arrests. I’ve got family in southern Georgia and northern Florida (because of the smoke, my mother hasn’t been able to see the house across the street from her for weeks), and I was following that case pretty closely until you decided it wasn’t worth my time. Yet because Mr. Vick is a celebrity (and a not-very-well-behaved one), you’ve dedicated yourselves to the arduous task of giving us regular updates into the status of his case.

How many people were arrested in the wildfire case? What were their ages? Where do they live? What are their names? Are they accused of starting the fire maliciously or through negligence? Where did the fire start? To what extent were the adults involved? Did they help the kids start the fires, or encourage them, or watch? Or are they simply being held responsible for the actions of the teenagers in their care? Where are the fires burning now? How many are there? To what extent are they contained? Unfortunately, I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, even though my clock radio has been set to your station for years and I hear probably 90 minutes of your morning newscast every day.

I don’t know if someone on your staff has a personal vendetta against Michael Vick or if they’ve simply got a man-crush on him, but I do wish you’d stop fellating him so. There are other news stories out there that have FAR FAR greater impact on the lives of your listeners and their families. Do you think we could dedicate a little bit of time to them?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bated Breath

OK, it's been over a week now since I sent my nice little message to , or , or , or whatever they call themselves now.

Hang on a second. I can tell by your face that you don't believe me. Really, it was a very nice message. Yes, I know what I wrote here last week, but that doesn't mean I'm incapable of professionalism and compassion for my fellow man, and it hurts that you could think such a thing. I'm a delicate little butterfly, and you wound me so.

So anyway, it's been over a week now since I sent my nice little message to , or , or , or whatever they call themselves now. It's actually been eight days, which would normally be six working days, except one of them was Memorial Day. So screw it. Five working days. Basically a week. And I haven't heard word one back from my request for support. still doesn't work for me, and apparently could give a shit.

And I know that both of my adoring readers have been unable to sleep, having been pulled into a story of passion and intrigue only to be left hanging, wondering whatever will become of our strong, young, handsome protagonist.

Fear not, gentle readers. Even if I never hear from my beloved again, know that I shall be waiting right here, head held high, carrying a torch for the love that, apparently, was never meant to be.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stomp This

Alright, , or , or , or whatever you call yourself, you have just pissed me off in a BIG way. And I’m taking time out of my busy day (indeed, a day so busy that updates to this blog are quite rare) to write this so that I can make myself feel better. You see, I know it’s entirely possible that nobody will ever see this blog.

Then again, wouldn't it be great to score another ?

Here's the back story. We’re in the process of putting together a professional demo CD for hubby’s company, but it’s not going to be ready for a month. He’s got a group of important clients coming in to town this Friday, and he’s asked if I can burn him six copies of the demo. Of course, this needs to have a nicer label than my standard chicken scratch with a Sharpie pen, so I need to come up with some sort of label.

Now, mind you, if we’re going to get the real, professional demo produced before a regional convention in Atlanta next month, then I need to finish it by the end of the week. It still needs to be edited. I still need to get text to the graphic designer, and at some point we’ll need to approve whatever she’s doing. On top of that, my editor is retiring at work, and I’m going to be taking over some of her responsbilities, and I’ve got A LOT to learn before she leaves in a couple of weeks. And then, I’ve been assigned to a project that requires me to have , and the act of getting that set up is taking WAY more time than it can possibly be worth. And finally, we’ve got people coming to the house for Memorial Day, and while we’re almost finished with the renovations that have been going on since Christmas, there are still a few things that need to be done. Things like cleaning, for example, so my friends don’t end up wading through half-empty paint cans on their way to the .

As you can see, I have plenty of other things to do besides burning one-off CDs and printing semi-professional labels for them. But it’s a big deal and potentially a big contract, so I’m doing them.

At any rate, there’s a reason why is the leader in labeling products. They’ve been in bed with Microsoft Word for years, so that you can simply give of your product, and it automatically generates a new document for you, based on the correct template.

So today, on my ever-shrinking lunch break, I drove to and asked about CD label kits. Now normally, I’m cheap and don’t have any problem spending extra time or effort to save myself a nickel, but as I pointed out, I just don’t have time this week, and this CD needs to look great. I spend several minutes evaluating the products on the shelf, and I decide to go with the . I chose this one for a few reasons:

  • The design is going to be simple (maybe 10 words and a corporate logo), but I don’t have time to figure out how to make this work on a standard template. (Have you ever seen a CD design template?)
  • I’m not convinced my hand is steady enough to center the label exactly on the CD, and the comes with, well, a .
  • The name has been around a very long time, so I’m thinking that maybe they’ve got their design right.
  • After scanning the box, I find that is a trademark of the corporation, and lets face it. has been at the top of the label heap for years now.

I damn sure didn’t buy it because it was the cheapest thing on the shelf. In fact, it was the most expensive thing on the shelf. But I’m paying for convenience, no? I plop down my money and come back to work.

Now, a word about design software. All of it sucks hind tit. Every. Bit. Of. It. And I’ve been around long enough to know better, having purchased a couple of ill-fated 45,000,000+ FONTS FOR YOUR COMPUTER!!!!! packages in my youth. They never work. They’re buggy as fuck, and when you finally realize the gravity of your mistake, they’re considerably harder to shed than leprosy. So I bite my lip and install on my Microsoft XP at work. Because I’m still convinced that and couldn’t possibly lead me astray.

I shit you not. I start the software, and the first thing I see is this:

What. The. Fuck. You mean to tell me that I just plunked down good money for the , and it comes with EVALUATION FUCKING SOFTWARE???

Then I calm down and read it again. No, it seems that and used evaluation software to create their POS software. I can’t be-fucking-lieve this. And of course, the evaluation license has long since expired.

So I take a deep breath and start looking at my options. I go to the website and I start through the long litany of clicks that it takes to find anybody in support. I don’t have time to call and sit on the phone. I damn sure don’t have time to send them any snail mail. I search for . Nothing. I scan the FAQs and find plenty about checking on the status of my order. Yeah, except here’s the thing. I’m not waiting on an order. You see, you already got my money, and I already got the useless product. I finally find the “click-here-because-you’re-so-important-to-us” form and send them a very nice e-mail.

Really. A lot nicer than I’m being now.

Of course, you’ve all filled out these forms before, and we all know just how much I expect to hear back from . Or . Or .

Next option? Hey, maybe MS Word has an template already for my CDs. Of course they do. Go ahead and pull it up and look at it. I’ll wait.

See that? Two squares on a sheet of paper. Absolutely nothing to restrict the text that I’m typing to a circular shape.

Having exhausted my options at the site, my next stop is the website. And there I find something that looks hopeful. Something called . Apparently you can use templates online and design for just about anything, and then print it to your own little inkjet. How cool is that?

So after a few attempts (and in a moment of weakness, actually clicking the button telling how much I’d love to get spam from them), I finally get to the start screen. Yes, I see the message that says I agree to print my project only on brand products. But I’m not worried about it. You see, I actually paid for brand products. Remember? is a trademark of the corporation and all that?

So I finally get to the start screen, and that’s when I realize that the labels made by are configured differently from the labels made by . Even though is a trademark of the corporation.

So I'm back at square one. I've got to figure out how to format these CD labels so they can print on my labels, because apparently is a completely separate fucking universe from . And after paying good money for your software, and your name, and allegedly for a convenient experience, I just don't have time for this. I'm supposed to be editing or training or meeting or installing or cleaning or designing or some other thing than this. I mean, you were supposed to be the easy way out.

So fuck you, . Fuck you, . And fuck while we’re at it, though I’m sure it would be a horrible lay. I mean, it hasn’t been any good for anything else.

So that’s it. I’ve completely blown off work and not gotten a single thing accomplished all afternoon. And you know what? Even though I couldn’t really afford the time to type this, I feel better. Apparently I'm just petty like that.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

RIF

Methinks the has fallen for a red herring. It's not that . It's that they don't read the AJC anymore.

Today's top-left story on the website? ""

Top story under news buzz? ""

Oh yeah. You'll have to register if you want to read those stories online.

And they seriously don't understand when people find more substance in ?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wow

I have no idea who Mike Penner was. I'm not a sports fan, so I certainly don't have any need to follow sports news through a writer a full continent away from me. Having said that, however, this writer showed up on my radar screen this morning. It seems Mr. Penner is taking some time off from writing and will return in a few weeks as Christine Daniels.

Christine has written for her readers explaining clearly, nervously, and unapologetically why she's doing this: because it's the only thing she can do. Or in her words:


When you reach the point when one gender causes heartache and unbearable discomfort, and the other brings more joy and fulfillment than you ever imagined possible, it shouldn't take two tons of bricks to fall in order to know what to do.

It's well-written and thought-provoking, as well as unexpectedly humorous. (Be sure to catch her anecdote about using a movie to come out to her friend Tim.) It's also about 20 years behind my own coming out as a gay man. I had hoped we'd gotten past the point where anyone felt it necessary to live their lives so far in a closet, but apparently that's still not the case. Maybe one day we'll reach that point, so that future generations don't have to endure so much heartache for a little bit of happiness.

Godspeed, Christine. Know that someone you've never met is pulling for you.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Jaws

We’re back from in Asheville, and WOW what a show! Kai and Nat (and John and Anita and Maggie and Eugene and everybody else) have every right to be proud of the way this one came off. There’s a lot I could say here, but it would sound like a really cheesy letter to my mother, so I’ll just give you the highlights.

  • Hilton and Lucy, our former next-door neighbors (and quite possibly the best next-door neighbors ever invented) were there. Yes, this in itself constitutes a highlight. If you live in Atlanta and wonder whatever happened to Mambo, it’s been reincarnated as .
  • Dinner Friday night was at Mediterranean restaurant in Biltmore Village called with appetizers at their sister restaurant next door, Enoteca. EVERYTHING that landed on a plate in front of us was really phenomenal. I had the Paella Catalonia, which was very good but a little different from Lucy’s Paella Catalan. Phil had a lamb shank that was to die for.
  • Saturday morning, we arrived at the Biltmore Estate for a panoramic photo of cars and owners in front of the house, before the gates were opened to the public. The proofs look great. I’ll see if I can wrangle a digital version for both of my adoring fans.
  • Saturday afternoon, while all of our friends were picking through the sharks, we committed an act of heresy and signed up for a . Oh stop it. BMW used to own Land Rover, so it’s OK. Besides, the allure of getting somebody else’s Range Rover dirty in a back corner of the Biltmore Estate was simply too strong to ignore.
  • Saturday night at the banquet, we one 3rd place in class (not a bad achievement, considering the number and quality of sixes there). Then I won a in the raffle, courtesy of . And since I never win anything aside from the occasional t-shirt, I thought that was pretty cool. And then I won the grand pooh-bah prize: a complete refinishing kit from . I made a lot of enemies when that happened. Apparently the world is full of haters.

Those are the biggies. Yeah, it was a great show, and it didn't end with a wreck. (This in itself constitutes a great show.) Watch this space for photos as I get them uploaded.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Oh the places I've been

So it occurs to me that you’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to for the past year. (Yeah, I know you’re not. Humor me.) Honestly, there have only been a couple of notable developments.

My grandmother Pauline passed away in February. I’m always going to miss her, but I’m finding it hard right now to convince myself that she’s gone. We lived in different cities for the last 20 years, so I didn’t get to see her as often as I’d like. And that means that right now, I’m still convinced that she’s alive in Moultrie. She was one of only two grandparents that I ever knew, and her husband (my grandfather) died in 1983. Both of my dad’s parents died before he was grown, and my dad died in 1995. That means that my mother is my only living “ancestor,” for lack of a better word. That’s a really odd feeling, as if the grave made a quantum leap toward me when my grandmother died. Maybe that’s why I'm finding it easier to believe that she’s still alive.

By the way, something happened at her funeral that everyone saw and no one mentioned, at least to me. It’s been bugging me, and I want to explain what happened. Even if it’s just for my lone reader in France.

My brother and I were asked to be casket-bearers, so we met with the funeral director before the funeral so that they could explain what we needed to do. Yes, I paid attention, but you’ll understand if I had other things on my mind. The instructions were pretty standard: roll the casket toward the hearse, lift it into the hearse, follow the hearse to the cemetery, take the casket from the hearse and carry it to the gravesite. From there, we load it onto… that mechanism thing that lowers the casket into the grave, whatever it’s called. They told us the gravesite would be “dressed,” whatever that means. They also told us that they would be right beside us every step of the way in case we messed up.

Things went pretty smoothly until we got to the cemetery and my family gathered around the gravesite. We lifted the casket out of the hearse, and started carrying it toward the gravesite. I was on the front left corner of the casket, with two people directly behind me. There were two people already buried in this family plot: my grandfather Everett and my mother’s older brother Dick. I never met Dick. He died as a little boy when he was hit by a car.

Anyway, as I approached the gravesite, I realized what they meant when they said the grave would be dressed. It was already open, of course, and they had laid Astroturf around the grave so that we could walk across it. And as we approached the grave, I looked down and realized that I could see the edge of Dick’s grave sticking out from under the Astroturf.

I’m sure every mother thinks that part of her job description is to continue preaching the same sermons over and over in the hopes that her children will eventually listen to her. My mom and I even joked about it. “Mom, is this sermon #37 about being careful and not driving too fast? Should I just go get it out of the filing cabinet and re-read it so you don’t have to go through it all again?” I’m sure it was the same with your mother. But what amazes me is that there are a few things that she told me only once, and they will probably stick with me all my life. In this latter category is something that she told me years ago when we were visiting a cemetery somewhere. I couldn’t tell you where. Maybe it’s where her grandparents are buried. Anyway, I was a little boy, and I was walking and playing everywhere in the cemetery, as little boys will do. And she told me that it was very disrespectful to walk over the top of a person’s grave. And for some reason, I haven’t ever been able to shake those words.

So flash forward 30-something years to the day that I’m burying my grandmother, and I’m approaching her grave and realize that I can’t do this without walking across my uncle Dick’s grave. And I can’t. I just can’t. The mechanism thing that we’re going to put the casket onto has wheels on the top, much like the back of the hearse, so obviously the casket is supposed to roll. It made sense to me at the time, but like I said, I had other things on my mind. I put the front edge of the casket onto the rollers… and I just stopped walking. I refused to walk across the grave of an uncle I never met. The men on the right side of the casket kept walking, but the men behind me couldn’t go anywhere. Fortunately for me, the funeral director was close by, and he did grab the handle and pull the casket forward while I just stood there stupidly. With my family in the little folding chairs in front of me, watching. I’m sure they thought I was grief-stricken, and in a way, I guess I was. But honestly, I didn’t go any further because my mother told me that would be disrespectful.

It’s weird. I nearly typed “because my mother always said that would be disrespectful.” But that wouldn’t be accurate because, in this case, she only told me once, and once was enough. I have no idea why.

So that’s it. Like I said, there have been a couple of other developments in the past year, but all of a sudden they don’t seem so important. I’ll get to them one day if you’re interested.