Jul 13

Saturday in the Park

Today was definitely a kid’s sort of day in the 2T. As mentioned a couple days ago, Σ was signed up for Kids Art in the Park. I think this was her fifth consecutive year at the event. Considering she’s only eight, that’s a big deal in her world.

claypot

Although clay isn’t exactly her specialty.
Image credit: Akif A Khan

Yeah, she started her clay pot over three times until she finally made something resembling an ashtray. We’ll find out for sure once it’s fired.

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Apr 29

When Did I Turn Into a Hippie?

Like virtually everyone else in this world, I’ve held a few workaday type jobs in my day. I’ve been fired a couple times. I’ve been promoted a couple times. I have a fair amount of experience in management and such. On paper I have to say my resume looks pretty damn good.

The problem is I honestly think I couldn’t hold a job like that anymore, at least not for any significant period of time. I’d much rather work for myself doing something I love, such as writing and publishing. Also, being bipolar means it’s not a question of if I use all my sick days, but when. Accordingly I haven’t had such a job for nearly two years now.

If you’ve seen the “About” page here, you know that I have an LLC. I set it up with the thought of becoming a book publisher. Eventually I’d like to make that happen, but being sick with bipolar disorder effectively ground that process to a halt. As a result the business became more about writing Wikipedia articles, which I don’t do anymore.

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Why? Because dealing with Wikipedia is like trying to get a rabid wolverine through Chinese customs.

I’ve thought about going back into insurance, or some other type of sales job, or even participating in one of those MLM things. Unfortunately, I’m simply not cut out for that sort of work. After years of denial, I’ve come to the horrible conclusion that I’m fundamentally one of those artsy-fartsy types.

406px-Leo_Poster

But without the patchouli oil. That stuff is nasty.

That said, instead of resigning myself to a life of shopping at thrift stores so I can save enough to go to Burning Man – which really isn’t my thing, either – I need to reconcile who I am with economic reality. This is not to say I’m trying to avoid working. Absolutely not. Ambition is alive and well here at the Command Center.

I suppose until I put a plan together, I’ll have to be content with providing y’all with your daily dose of snark and cynicism. You’re welcome.

But hey, if you have any ideas, you know how to contact me.

Mar 19

That Giant Sucking Sound

Back in 1992, part-time presidential candidate and full-time lunatic Ross Perot coined the term “giant sucking sound.” He originally used it to criticize the then-proposed NAFTA treaty. Later politicians also used it to play up the “jobs lost” bogeyman. Admittedly, in that context it really doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot for me around here.

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“Our jobs are secure. Now piss off.”

Nevertheless, it’s still a good phrase. It’s also one of the few notable things conceived during Perot’s presidential runs which didn’t involve pie graphs and/or batshit conspiracy theories. For me, the “giant sucking sound” is what I often hear in the back of my mind when I’m writing. It’s a thought along the lines of, “Hoo boy. I’m really posting a turd to the Internet today!” I’m having that thought right now, actually.

Yet one person’s manure is often another person’s manna. Regardless of what kind of artist you are – be it a painter, actor, musician, or a writer like myself – you fancy some of your works are much more awesome than others. However, what you think is good and what others think is good are often two different things. The same holds for one’s perception of crap.

Here’s a case in point. The late Alec Guinness thought of himself as an old-school English stage actor of the highest caliber, on par with his contemporary Laurence Olivier and with Patrick Stewart later on. Indeed, like Olivier and Stewart his Shakespearean chops were indisputably world-class. However, most of you out there know him for this role:

kenobi

“It’ll be just like Connery in Zardoz. No one will remember this.”
Image credit: williampcoleman

At best, Guinness viewed the Obi-Wan Kenobi role as a late-career afterthought and a retirement hedge. Indeed, thanks to some shrewd negotiating he made a ton of money off of it. But once it became apparent many would remember him from his Star Wars appearances more than anything else he ignored the subject as much as he possibly could, even going so far as to throw away Star Wars fan mail unopened.

Something like this happened to me, albeit on a much smaller scale. For a few years in the mid-90s I was on the staff of the Bengal, the student newspaper at Idaho State University. I started out as an op-ed writer and remained in that capacity throughout my tenure there. That’s how I saw my role there. Oh yeah, I also wrote some straight news stories, mainly for shits and giggles.

One day in 1995 I was informed I won first place in a regional college newspaper newswriting competition. This came as a complete surprise because (1) I wasn’t aware I entered a competition in the first place and, (2) the article I won for I found banal and pedestrian at best. I don’t recall exactly what it was about, but it had something to do with proposed fee increases, something dry and boring like that. To this day I’m somewhat bemused by the experience.

Mind you, I don’t try to write garbage on purpose. Well, not usually. However, I sometimes wonder what would happen if I gave up all attempts at humor, intellect and integrity, and wrote entirely for the lowest common denominator. I could totally pump out dreck for the Oprah-addled masses if I wanted. I imagine the result would be akin a mashup of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and the Twilight series.

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Illustrated by the undead Thomas Kinkade, of course.
Image credit: ojimbo

Ultimately I’ve learned over the years to discount the giant sucking sound, at least to an extent. It’s often completely wrong anyway.

Mar 18

Just Under the Wire

Yup, another one of those completely non-productive days here at the Command Center. It’s just over an hour until midnight and no blog entry. I thought about skipping it entirely today, but I have a good streak going which I don’t want to break. What the hell, I’ll just half-ass it today.

Besides, I never promised literary genius here.

Beckwith_Twain

“So put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Last night during a sometimes heated discussion with an old friend on art, writing, criticism and, um, Debby Boone, I was introduced to Phantahex, a relatively new local band. My aforementioned old friend is half of Phantahex. According to the site they play “improvised ambient psychedelic electronic music.” I happen to think it’s pretty damn good. Y’all should check it out.

Dammit, there was something else I wanted to write about tonight …. “You Light Up My Life” is a horrible, wretched song? Well, yes, but that wasn’t it. Ah, whatever. I may remember and write about it another time. I leave you with this gem I found researching yesterday’s entry. This is quite possibly the best live commercial in the history of Western civilization (NSFW):

“Ya can’t get even!”