Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Petty bullshit

The amount of petty bullshit I have to deal with at work seems to be mounting. Over the years, I've grown used to a certain amount; it goes with the territory in the publishing world, I've found. Today I had to pretend to be deeply concerned by an e-mail from an asshole author (one of the biggest eye-openers for me when I started out in publishing was that a lot of authors are jerks, sort of a let down considering I had looked up to writers for most of my life). I had to pretend to be deeply concerned because my supervisor was pretending to be deeply concerned (I'm giving my supervisor the benefit of the doubt here, because if she was truly deeply concerned by the nonsense in this e-mail, then she's got more serious problems than I had suspected). As it turns out, the reason this author was so upset was because a few figure captions had been inconsistently capitalized. I'm not making this up. Apparently, a couple incorrectly capitalized words was all it took to fire up this idiot's indignation. But my supervisor, more eager than ever to catch me in error these days, saw an opportunity even though she still didn't fully comprehend how ridiculous the author's remarks were. She had to keep beating it into the ground. She wouldn't let it rest until I was completely cowed. Fuck that! I now realize that the turning point in my relationship with my supervisor was when she recognized that I wasn't going to take her bullshit (I've noticed over the years that she tends to hire very meek young women, types of women she figures she'll have no problem browbeating; one assistant remarked, "She talks to me like I'm an idiot"--this being the crux of the problem: she talks to everyone like they're idiots). Now we go at it fairly regularly. It's a nuisance, but I take consolation in the fact that I'm not the only one who has been put in this position. And as someone who likes a good argument, I'll be happy to oblige.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Not so popular music

This article touches upon a couple things I've been thinking about regarding the gradual decline of popular music in mainstream culture. I had attributed my own waning interest to old fogeydom and nostalgic attachment to outdated forms of technology (the album and cd), but maybe it runs deeper than that. I think it would be a shame if this were to become a permanent condition.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No dignity in death

"I went in before your father. It was a good thing because they hadn't cleaned him up yet. I told them, 'Clean him up!' That wasn't right. He was still on the table in the bloody sheets. 'Get them out of here!" I told them. And his mouth. There was blood. 'Clean his mouth!' That wasn't right. Your father shouldn't have to see that. They were wrong. I told them, 'This is wrong.' It was the worst day of my life."

Had I heard these details before? Did I block them them out? I don't know. I thought every detail of that day had been pored over and committed to memory long ago. For years I studied the newspaper article with the large color photograph of the car in the woods with the crushed ceiling and the police report obtained for the civil suit (although I contemplated it, I never requested to see the accident scene photos). How did I miss this? Maybe my uncle felt enough time had passed, that he could finally unburden himself to me what he had gone through that day. I sat at the bar stunned and speechless. All these years later and it was still with him, too. And then he changed the subject, as we all must, and was soon laughing again.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Sopranos

Xmastime and Unconquerable have already weighed in on The Sopranos finale. Xmastime hated it and Unconquerable loved it. I guess I'm somewhere in between. I have to admit that I was initially disappointed by the abrupt ending to that incredibly suspenseful final scene (yes, I did think for a moment that my cable went out; no, I didn't groan as if I had been shot as I overheard one of my neighbors expressing his displeasure through my open windows or "boo!" my television as I've heard others have responded). And after a day to ponder all the theories being offered up as to "the meaning" of that final scene, I find myself less disappointed with it (seriously, next to the dream scene from Twin Peaks, I can't think of another scene from a television show that has inspired this much discourse).

Overall, I thought the final season was an improvement over the last few. I thought the series declined as Tony was made more likable as the series progressed. Tony snuffing out Christopher this season was a return to Season 1/Season 2 form when you never knew when Tony was going to do something despicable. That to me was the most interesting aspect of The Sopranos, that this character who could be so charming and likable one moment could also be a brutal murderer the next. At its best, The Sopranos held up a mirror to the worst aspects of American life. Sure, we could alternately laugh at or be horrified by their sociopathic antics (and often both simultaneously), but at the same time we could also identify with their more mundane daily problems.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Wasted sarcasm

Yesterday in Hoboken, in order to get past a car parallel parking, some asshole in a DHL truck decided to drive on the sidewalk narrowly missing myself and a couple other pedestrians. Of course, all that was accomplished by doing this was that the truck was able to advance about twenty feet to stop at a red light. As I walked by, I got the driver's attention and gave him a big thumb's up. "Good job back there driving on the sidewalk!" Nothing. I said it again laying the sarcasm on a little thicker. Not a fucking clue. I suspect English may not have been this person's first language. Either that or he was even stupider than he looked. I cannot deny that I was a bit disappointed.

Calling attention to assholes while they are acting like assholes is something I do more and more lately. Considering the types of people walking around these days, it's probably not the safest thing to do. I remember one time getting into a shouting match with another express mail truck driver not very far from where this latest incident occurred. I think that jerk even got out of his truck briefly to wave his arms around for emphasis. Strangely, he didn't approach me while doing this. We yelled at each other some more, each holding our ground, and then he got back in his truck and drove off. Now that I think about it, it was very reminiscent of that early scene with the monkeys in 2001: A Space Odyssey (except neither of us threw a bone in the air that turned into a spaceship). Another time I got into a loud dispute with an idiot on a bus after he cut the line, one of my personal pet peeves. Again, it didn't come to blows, but it was a bit awkward when this person got off the bus shortly thereafter (he was saying goodbye to his girlfriend). Hey, it was the principle of the thing, right? What? He couldn't say goodbye to her outside the bus? What is she a child?

One of these days someone is going to physically attack me over some remark I have made. I'm almost certain of this. Maybe when I'm a little older and more frail-looking. I've steeled myself for it. I've imagined it countless times. Finally, all the anger that has built up over the years will have an outlet. Does it sound too much like I'm looking forward to this opportunity? Maybe I am.

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