Comical Musings

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Metapost: Not Dead

by on Sep.30, 2010, under Metapost

Merely wishing I were. Customer service jobs are a pain and a half (perhaps a Shenanigan will be posted talking about that in more detail), and I’m doing my best to stay alive and in one piece in spite of panic attacks, abusive customers, and a nagging cough that just won’t stop.

But just to show that I’m still alive and active for the time being, here’s a quick snippet I dashed off at a writing group meeting tonight.

Prompt: Write from the point of view of a murderer, without actually referring to the murder.

I really need to clean the kitchen. The kitchen and the living room. Probably the rest of the house, but the kitchen and the living room really need it, since that’s where—but we’re not talking about that right now. Ah ha ha. Let’s clean the kitchen.
I can feel you staring at me. Just gazing at me in that half-lidded manner while I scrub the dishes. It’s rather lazy to just lie there and watch me do all the work, but I don’t particularly blame you. You probably couldn’t get up to help even if I wanted you to. But we’re not talking about that right now. Ah ha ha. The dishwasher is pleasantly loaded. Every dish exactly where it ought to be, and nothing out of place. I think that while the dishwasher runs, I shall take out the trash.
I pull the garbage bag out of the can, cinch it up nice and tight, tie it shut, and haul it carefully out to the Dumpster. The Dumpster could probably hold several individuals. I wonder if you’d want to take a ride in the garbage truck. I don’t suppose you’d enjoy it. But then, you couldn’t really complain. But we’re not talking about that right now. Ah ha ha. I give the neighbor, Mrs. Derrow, a polite little wave as I pass. She smiles a little and says hello while she works on pruning the rosebushes, snipping at the new shoots and cutting off little buds of life one by one.
And back inside I go, humming softly. It’s time to tackle the living room. I’ll have to get a bigger garbage bag to help get rid of everything. But at least things will be clean again. Your gaze is disapproving, I can tell. You’ve held that grimace of disdain on your face for hours now. But we’re not talking about that right now. Ah ha ha. Gently clear up the glasses, the bottles, the food and other bits of assorted detritus. Tuck the disposables away into the garbage bag. I guess you’re disposable now. But we’re not talking about that right now. Ah ha ha.
Lord, you’re heavy.

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Metapost: Cardboard Tidings, Part 2

by on Aug.10, 2010, under Metapost

So I started a new job, moved 2,000 miles west, and spent several frantic days finding and moving into an apartment on very short notice. I hope you’ll forgive the lack of a review or shenanigan as a result.

A quick tip, though: if you purchase your airline tickets online, do go for whatever sorts of insurance they might offer. Had I paid the extra $19 for such protection, I wouldn’t have wound up nearly stranded in Chicago because of American Airlines and having such an uncaring policy about missing a connection due to acts of God.

Let me also express thanks for the United Airlines customer service agent at Chicago O’Hare who somehow managed to set me up with a standby ticket, as a result of which I actually made it to the job interview on time. There was a lot more, ah, hilarity that ensued afterward, but at least United allowed me to make it there.

In the mean time, there’s more unpacking to do. Also setting things up, attending training, making sure I don’t implode . . . y’know, the usual.

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COTM: Covenant House

by on Aug.02, 2010, under COTM

This past week, in the middle of a number of frantic job-search-related activities, I was able to spend some time with a large portion of my close family. Two of my sisters came to visit, along with their children, and we all spent some time swimming, touring Cleveland, and doing various other family activities. Sure, there were times when the chaos got to be a bit much, but all in all, you could really feel the love.

As a result, August’s charity is a place that helps out kids who don’t get that sort of love on a regular basis. Covenant House serves as a homeless shelter specifically for homeless youth — kids from abusive homes or situations of neglect. Not only do they give runaways a place to stay; they also offer legal aid, medical care, education, and job training to help these kids provide themselves a better life.

Facilities are located in major cities across North America, and programs last year were able to care for more than 70,000 at-risk and homeless kids. Even those kids who aren’t near one of Covenant House’s locations can call their crisis hotlines for immediate help.

So if you want to help children and youth make a better life for themselves, here’s your chance: donate today.

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Shenanigan: Razor Wit

by on Jul.26, 2010, under Shenanigan

Note: While I usually veer away from crass humor and references to uncouth thoughts, sometimes an article like this happens. I hope you’ll forgive me, or at least skip reading this entry if you’re feeling especially puritanical.

It’s difficult to think of the last time I genuinely enjoyed a commercial on TV or the radio.* I’ve sat through plenty of commercials that bothered me for one reason or another, especially if they follow the “stupid man can’t do housework/balance the checkbook/do simple home repair/find his backside with both hands, but his clever wife knows to use our product” model of advertisement. In fact, any commercial that paints the average user as a grade-A submoron who doesn’t know how to interpret simple instructions will fail to appeal to me at all.

And then there are the feminine hygiene products. They’re already fighting a losing battle for my attention, considering my genetic condition,** so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt when they talk about wings, sensitive areas, “freshness”, or their holding capacity for any unnatural blue fluids that may gush out at inopportune moments.***

So when Schick put out a commercial for a lady razor-bikini trimmer combo, featuring swimsuit models walking past various shrubbery which then trimmed itself into well-kept shapes, I wasn’t sure whether to be put off or merely flabbergasted by the visual pun.**** Personally, I wouldn’t be all that drawn to a product that promised to treat my lower regions with all the delicate care of a hedge trimmer, but perhaps that’s just my inferior genetics getting in the way again. For all I know, spontaneous topiary may be the big in-thing among the ladies right now.

But the whole stack of potted plants still doesn’t compare in awkwardness to the birth control commercial I saw about six years ago, featuring some lithe young redhead dancing about gleefully in front of a green and white background to the suddenly hilarious strains of “There She Goes Again.” Right before my eyes and within my ears, this playful little song was thrust into a horrifying new context. But then, as my father deadpanned, at least it wasn’t “Oops! I Did It Again.”

One of these days I suppose advertisers will scrape past the current bottom of the barrel and find themselves sharing an uncomfortable silence in the mud with Enzyte Bob. For the time being, however, I have a sudden urge to go do some gardening work. But I think I’ll avoid the bushes, just in case.

* “But the point of commercials is to sell things,” you say, “not to be enjoyable.” To which I reply, “If I hate the commercial, I will go out of my way not to buy the product.” If I’m feeling particularly snotty, I might even add, “Q.E.D.”
** That is to say, I’m a guy. The Y chromosome doesn’t lend itself well to appreciating tampons, periodic cramping, or incessant yeast infections.
*** Always useful for when women need to change out their windshield wiper fluid.
**** I’ll explain it when you’re older.

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Shenanigan: Interpreting King James

by on Jul.12, 2010, under Shenanigan

Cleveland is, at this point, used to being abused. When you’re mostly known for a humiliating fire, there’s not much you can do for PR.* Even The Drew Carey Show and Hot in Cleveland mostly capitalize on the stereotype of Clevelanders as a bunch of long-suffering rubes with the collective sex appeal and cultural erudition of Joey Trebbiani from Friends.

I’m sure most people in the city would rather be known for, say, the Cleveland Institute of Art, symphonies at Severance Hall, or Playhouse Square, but instead we wind up featured in works like Major League, a movie about a sports team owner who tries to shuffle the team away to a city with a better climate. To add insult to injury, it was less than a decade later that Art Modell said, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” and moved the Browns to Baltimore, renaming them the Ravens.

So really, the fact that LeBron James just played the city like the ugly girl at the end of the bar is nothing more than the slapdash icing on a burnt and bitter cake. And in some ways, I’m glad to see him go. Cleveland and the local media have been playing the Helena to James’s Demetrius for seven years now, fawning over his basketball skills, throwing anxious fits about whether he’d play for his hometown or “betray” us for a bigger city, duly nosing about when his mother bought him (gasp!) a Hummer. The city went so far in recent years as to drape a massive scroll of his likeness over the side of one of the taller buildings in town, captioned “We are all witnesses” in a bizarre aping of both Messianic culture and Chairman Mao.

But the thing about attention and adulation is that jaw-dropping excess is still never enough.** And when a city has already done everything but elect you their god-king, what can you do to get even more attention? Why, let your eye wander, of course. And with the end of his contract with the Cavaliers approaching, James milked the media for all they were worth. And at the end of it all was an hour-long ESPN sideshow, culminating in a very public break-up. There was some money donated to the local Boys and Girls Club, however, which I’m told makes it all okay.

For a brief moment in the city of Cleveland, LeBron James became more reviled than Goldman Sachs, BP, Miley Cyrus, the United States Congress, and Chad the Alltel guy combined. People burned his jerseys in the street, threw rocks at his enormous likeness, and generally bemoaned the fact that Cleveland’s economy no longer has a leg to stand on. The Cavs’ general manager sent out an angry little press release (in Comic Sans, no less), declaring that James was “taking the curse” with him and that the Cavs will win a championship before James can.

Personally, I’m less of a believer in storybook endings, no matter how tempting the fantasy. Most likely, Cleveland will continue to be the butt of the joke, the ugly girl at the end of the bar. And James, barring a change of heart or career-ending injury***, will probably go on winning games and making his new hometown proud.

Oh, well. At least we still have the Rock Hall.

* Chicago got loads of sympathy for their fire . . . but that was the 1870s rather than the 1970s. Not to mention that Chicago burned down the city instead of the river, but I digress.
** As an experienced fisher for compliments, I should know.
*** I’m not wishing such on him, but goodness gracious would it ever be poetic.

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