Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sorry, wrong number


phone it in

English

[edit]Verb

phone it in (third-person singular simple present phones it in, present participle phoning it in, simple past and past participle phoned it in)
1.     (Should we move(+) this sense?) to choose to deliver a message by telephone when etiquette demands the effort and respect conveyed by in personcommunication
2.     (idiomatic) To fulfill a responsibility with a minimum effort rather than the appropriate level of effort.  [quotations ▼]
3.     (Should we move(+) this sense?) to make an unseemly timid performance; to be restrained and timid when strident action is called for

[edit]Synonyms

·        punt

Yeah, sounds good to me.  I’m on a mandatory vacation from work this week.  Not “Jim Flowers” mandatory, but more like “Use up all of your remaining vacation hours by the end of the year or lose them.  Yes, that’s an ultimatum,” mandatory. 

At the company, we the exempt get a certain number of hours of PTO awarded to us each month.  PTO stands for “Paid Time Off”.  I think most places allow you to carry some number of PTO hours over into the next year for a certain amount of time.  Something like “No more than 40 hours may be carried over.” 

But the company says no.  The company would rather you go into debt.  You can borrow up to 40 hours you haven’t yet earned.  I think this coincides with the number of hours your paycheck is held back.  That way if you quit, the company doesn't have to do the awkward "You owe us some money" thing.  Anyway, it doesn’t really matter to me.  I have to take the time off, so I do.

This is a fairly recent policy change at the company.  They used to let people just build up vacation hours forever and ever.  But when they were trying to polish the company up to sell it, this was seen as a huge liability.

There were several transitions to the current “no carryover” policy to get everyone a chance to use up their vacation hours.  The most popular method among managers was to tell employees not to worry about it. A couple of years ago, I was not “allowed” to take PTO (it has to be approved) but promised that even though I would lose somewhere around 100 hours, my manager would make it right “off the books.” 

So yeah, I got screwed pretty hard on that deal.  What was cute was the next time it happened and a V.P.  tried to pull the same shit.  I asked for some sort of written documentation.  I was told that would not be possible, since it is against policy.  I was so sad about this happenstance that I had to take a few days off to think about it.  It was the second time I had been told I had to use up PTO, but that I could not.  I ignored the “could not” part. 

This year however, all of my managers insist that everyone gets the PTO they deserve.  That’s why I’m off through the end of the year.  That’s also why I’m phoning it in today.

Thanks for finally getting your shit together - managers of the company.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rike a Virgin


Walking into the Perry Iowa Best Western Motel after day one at the pig processing plant, we became acutely aware of our stench and general filthiness.  We could see and hear people reacting.  Some were fighting the urge to vomit.  Others were simply blinking their eyes in obvious discomfort.  Actually, I was kind of surprised that there was any reaction at all.  I knew we smelled like Iowa, but I had figured Iowans would be used to it.  I guess the workers at the Best Western were from out of state. 

Soon enough, it would all be over.  We’d check in and get cleaned up before dinner (supper in Iowa). 

The Company had booked our rooms ahead of time.  We agreed to all get washed up and meet in the hallway 30 minutes hence to go get some dinner.  Dean said he would just order room service and let us two lovebirds have a nice romantic dinner (supper) to ourselves.    That was fine with Boomer and me.  If I haven’t mentioned it, I hated Dean.  Not as bad as I hated Beth, but pretty bad.  Beth was my manager at Wendy’s when I worked there in High School.  I was not fond of her.  She was greasy.
 
It had never felt so good to get clean.  I scrubbed myself into absolute squeekiness, turning the shower water as hot as my sunburned arms and neck could possibly stand.  I shaved my face to “3 day” length, cologned, and put on my best Don Johnson kit.  I was ready for whatever nightlife Perry Iowa could provide.  “Look out Iowa foxes, here comes the Cube!”  I winked, clicked my tongue and pointed my index finger in a shooting motion toward the steamed up mirror of the room.

Boomer met me in the hall dressed in his normal lumberjack attire and we started to walk toward the front desk when Boomer noticed Dean’s door was not quite closed.  We wanted to quietly slip by, but then we smelled it.  The odor coming from the slightly cracked open door was hideous.  It was hard to believe we’d smelled like that all day.  I was relieved to be horrified by the stench as it was evidence of no long term damage to my sense of smell.  There was something else though.  Mixed in with the horrible pig smell was a faint hint of alcohol.  A stale odor with a putrid sweetness of some sort of whisky.
 
“Let’s just go,” I said to Boomer who was approaching Dean’s door to listen in. 

Boomer said, “Hang on, you hear that?”

I leaned toward the opening and heard a rapid clicking sound.  My imagination told me it was the cylinder of a revolver being spun as in a game of Russian Roulette.  I looked at Boomer who pushed the door open.  The full force of the poop and liquor smell hit my Old Spice full on.  The Old Spice didn’t have a prayer.  The room was completely dark.  The clicking of the gun cylinder was the only sound. 

“You boys need something?” came the craggy old voice of our fearless leader. 

“Just checking to make sure you don’t want to join us for din – uh supper,” Boomer said.

Looking into the room I still couldn’t see anything.  Then I saw the orange glow in the corner of the room of Dean’s cigarette as he took a drag.  It partially lit up his weathered old face as he said, “No, I won’t be needing any supper where I’m going.”

Boomer and I didn’t know what to say.  It seemed like something was seriously bothering Dean.  Was he planning on killing himself?  Just to be safe I said, “Ok then.  See you tomorrow!”  and tried to get the hell out of there as Boomer switched on the light just inside the door.

Looking into the room, we saw Dean sitting in the corner, halfway through a bottle of Jim Beam.  He was looking at a small black gun he held in his hand.  He really was thinking about killing himself.  “Turn the damn light out, morons!” Dean yelled waving the gun around, but pointing it low so it wouldn’t have hit us if it went off.  Boomer complied and I turned to go.  “That is frickin’ crazy,” I said as we got out of earshot of Dean’s door.  “Boomer?  Oh shit.  C’mon I’m hungry,” I said to no one in particular as I realized Boomer had gone into Dean’s room.

“I’ll, uh, just be down at the lounge, then!”  I yelled back into the room.  I wanted no part of whatever was going on.

“Well that was interesting,” Boomer said as he sat next to me at the lounge bar, “You want a light,” he said, sliding his Zippo to me.  Now I was really confused.  Robert Duvall had deftly relieved us of Burt Rasson’s lighter earlier that day.  We knew we’d see it again (we had a little knowledge of the future) but we had no idea it would be so soon.

“Where did you …” I began, but Boomer interrupted.  He insisted we find a place to get some grub.
Turns out there were 2 places to eat dinner near Perry Iowa and one of them was the diner attached to the Best Western.  We just decided to eat there since the desk clerk told us there was a smokin’ hot pop/jazz band playing in the lounge later on.  They had been tearing up the Midwestern Motel lounge scene for a couple of years now.  They had packed the house for the last 3 nights, so if we were looking for action, the Best Western Motel lounge in Perry Iowa was the place to be.

Boomer and I both agreed that that was one of the most ridiculous sentences ever strung together but figured we might as well give the band a chance.  They were called “Hiromi, Takashi and Starr”

At dinner, Boomer told me how he got the lighter back.  He had gone in to make sure Dean was ok.  He wasn’t.  He was actually crazy.  He had tried to convince Boomer that he was Robert Duvall from the future and that today when he saw himself nab the lighter from Boomer’s pocket, he realized he was done.  He was calling it quits. 

“He doesn’t look or sound anything like Robert Duvall.  Even an old Robert Duvall,” I said, “That’s not him.  It’s just crazy old Dean.”

“Look closer at the lighter,” Boomer said.  Oh this wasn’t Boomer’s “Elvis’ Birthday Lighter” named “Burt”.  It said “Mike” on the side and the date stamped on the bottom was “Dec 30, 2362”. Otherwise it looked just like it. 

Boomer told me that Dean insisted he was Duvall, but the time machine he was using was a December one, so there was usually considerable bodily harm to anyone who dared to use it.  He had travelled many times with faulty lighters and the once handsome, charming man had become the hideous creature we knew only as “Dean”.  He had never been able to obtain a lighter earlier than August in the past.  Now that he had the Elvis, his mission was at an end.

“… Then he put a bullet in his head,” Boomer finished.

“Interesting,” I said, cutting into my delicious T-bone, “So does that mean …”

“Yeah, we get tomorrow off,” Boomer confirmed.  This was good news.  If the band was as good as the clerk seemed to think, we were in for a treat.

Note:  The band really was Japanese and they really did do these songs.

The Best Western Clerk had a different idea of “Packed house” than we did.  There were maybe 20 people in there.  Plenty of places to sit.  Boomer and I chose a big round Table right next to the stage.  Actually, the sound wasn’t bad.  The music was of a relatively high quality.  The only problem was the lead singer had a heavy Japanese accent. I also don’t think she actually knew the real words to the songs.  Her first song was Madonna’s “Borderline” But when she sang it, it sounded like this:

“Border-rhine, fears rike I trying to ruse my mind …”etc.

Granted, it’s probably better than the actual lyrics, but Boomer and I enjoyed it enough to sing along. 
Next, and probably because Ringo Starr was the drummer, they did “Help!”  By the Beatles.  Which went like this:  “Herp me if you can I fearing down.  I do appreciate you been around.”

But seriously, even though we were laughing at them and they were a Top 40 band playing on a Tuesday at a Best Western in Perry Iowa, they were pretty good despite the heavy accent.  I got the feeling that they might have noticed our laughing hysterically at them, since we were sitting about 4 feet from them, so I decided to go tell them what I thought of their act.  

After the show, I went up to Takashi, the guitarist and told him I really enjoyed the show.  “Yeah, pretty good,” is all he said as he bowed his head in defeat and walked sadly away, sniffing quietly to himself.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

STFU


“Ok now just walk up to the top of that mound so I can get a reading,” Dean was telling Boomer. It was the end of a long hot stinky day at the Oscar Mayer in Perry Iowa.  I was leaning up against the blue Suburban that carried the crew and all the equipment.  I was smoking a cigarette while Dean and Boomer finished getting the last couple of measurements.  There was a rise in the earth that graded at about 10 percent and went to about 4 feet high next to the big pen area.  It looked like a ramp of packed dirt.  As boomer carried the rod to the top so Dean could get a measurement he started complaining.  With each step, he said “Ew”.  I looked down at his feet and saw the problem.  That rise wasn’t packed dirt at all.  It was packed shit.  But not too packed.  Boomer’s boots were sinking in deeper with each step.

By the time Boomer reached the top, his boots were completely submerged.  And since being a smartass is much more important to either one of us than keeping shit off of our boots, Boomer somehow managed to turn and face Dean.  He set the rod atop the pile of shit and started waving it back and forth like any professional rodman would.   “Ok funny man, let’s get the hell outta here,” Dean said, not measuring. 

“Oh c’mon man, at least read it,” I told Dean, his face reddening with embarrassment and rage.

Dean said, “It’s beer-thirty anyhow,” and walked back to the truck to wait for us to load up all the gear.  Boomer was still precariously standing on top of the squishy stuff when I flicked my cigarette aside and went over to the instrument.  I looked into it and boomer started moving the rod again so I could get the read.  “1,3” I said out loud and waved him off.  I expected him to step up onto the concrete platform right next to where he was standing and start cleaning off his boots.  But no.  He just walked right back down the way he came.  Because it’s funnier that way.

After we put all the stuff away and Boomer got done scraping his boots off with a lath (a thin strip of wood about 3 or 4 feet long that we’d pound into the ground for the marking of boundaries and such), I asked Dean what the ground level was next to the mound of shit.  He told me it was 6 and 2.  That meant Boomer was standing in a pile of poo 4.9 feet tall.  We figured it had to be some kind of record and made sure to brag about it to the hotties back at the Best Western lobby.  Whoops, looks like I misspelled ‘fatties’ back there in that last sentence.  Oh well, too late to do anything about it now.

As Boomer jumped into the passenger seat of the Suburban, Dean looked down at Boomer’s boots with a certain disdain, “Can’t you get them any cleaner than that?”

“I don’t smell anything.  Do you cube?”  The truth was we hadn’t been able to smell anything since before noon.  Well, we could smell everything except pig poop.  So when I cracked open a PBR from the back seat, Dean forgot all about Boomers boots, “Toss a couple of them up here, Cube.”

“Yessah Massah,” I said, thinking I was funny.  Dean ignored me.  He’d had just about enough of me today.  I could tell he was still a little pissed off at me from when he just about killed Robert Duvall at lunch time.

We had gone into the Pizza Hut to get some lunch.  “Looks like we have the place to ourselves,” Boomer noted as people started packing up and leaving upon our entrance.  One female patron, who frankly could stand to skip a couple of slices of supreme, if you know what I mean, was dragging her nose picking 4 year old behind her while she said to me “You guys could take a bath before going out in public, ya know.”  At that, I shrugged at Boomer who chose that moment to let go of the fart he’d obviously been saving for a special occasion.  Disgusted beyond belief, miss nosy shouted, “Bunch of pigs,” as she slammed through the Pizza Hut front door.

The manager guy told us to sit wherever and he’d bring us some menus.  “You guys working over at Oscar Mayer?”  He asked, swaying and clutching at the table for balance as the full force of our day’s accomplishment slapped him right in the face.

“That’s darnright observant of yuh,” Boomer said, trying out what we perceived to be the Iowa parlance.

“Heh, heh, lucky guess,” said the manager guy, his eyes watering from the sheer emotional gravity of the scene.

“Yeah – no anchovies,” I said, wanting to move this along. 

After we figured out what kind of pizza we were getting, Dean said, “You boys might wanna wash up for dinner.”

“What? This?”  I said, looking down at my mud encrusted hands and forearms, “Surely it’s just a little dirt,” looking out the window casually, pretending to be bored.  Dean kept staring at me, trying to figure out if I was going to eat Pizza with pig crap all over myself. I wasn’t.  I was just messing with him.

On the way back from lunch to the work site, I got into an argument with Dean.  I’m not sure how it all got started.  I don’t think Dean liked talking about his past or something because all I said was, “So Dean.  Tell me.  How is it that you came to be such a huge fucking asshole?”  - note this part isn’t true.  Everything else so far is, I swear, but I need to get a fight going here because I’m in the back seat and Dean is driving.

“Why you little,” Dean said as he reached a skinny, wrinkled, purplish, frail looking arm back, trying to swat me.  I effortlessly batted those gross long yellowy fingernails away.

“Um guys,” Boomer said, looking down the road.  But neither of us paid him any mind (Iowa parlance). 

Dean was too old to do me any physical harm, so he went with the old “time travel” threat.  He was looking back at me, pointing a spindly index finger, yelling, “Why you little punk.  You’re not half the man I was at your age, blah blah blah, etc. etc”

“We’ll see about that,” I said, thinking I know a guy who could send me back to when Dean was my age so I could go kick his ass.  Then I reconsidered, realizing Dean might be right.  It’d be a drag to travel through time just to get my ass kicked.

“Dean,” Boomer was saying with more urgency, “Stop the car!”

Then I saw it.  Standing right smack dab (parlance) in the middle of the highway, cutting a lean figure against the horizon, was the familiar sunglasses and sharkskin suit of our old pal, Robert Duvall.  Dean was going too fast.  No way he could stop the Suburban in time, even if he was looking.  Finally, the old man turned his head to get the faintest glimpse of Duvall as the truck passed clean through (parlance) where he’d been standing a moment earlier.  Boomer and I were shocked.  I was sure the movie actor’s blood and guts were about to be spattered all over and through the Suburban.  But no.   He just disappeared.

Boomer said, “Never mind.  I thought I saw something,” as he slid down in his seat a little, resting his knees against the glove compartment and pulled out a cigarette.  Reaching into his shirt pocket, he asked me, “Cube.  You got my lighter?”

“Fuckin’ Duvall,” I replied.

“Fuckin’ Duvall, indeed,” said Boomer, pressing in the coil cigarette lighter in the Suburban’s ashtray.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”  Dean asked.

“Well, for one, it means now we don’t get to find out how much of a man you used to be,” I mumbled to myself.

“Nothing boss.  It’s just that Robert Duvall stole my time machine again,” Boomer explained.

“You boys been smoking something,” Dean asked.

“Don’t change the subject.  Jinx,” Boomer and I said.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Based on a True TV Series


Note:  Half season break?  What the hell?  I'm not waiting.  I'm finishing this shit now.

It’s yet another beautiful day in the sleepy little town of Woodbury in Georgia.  The first ray of sun pokes though the bedroom window of the Governor’s mistress, Andrea. Andrea has been through a lot of heartache in the last couple of years, but now she’s found a place to call home.  She turns away from the incoming light and covers her head with a pillow, staving off the day for a few more precious moments as she stretches and moans with delight in the luxurious east bedroom of the Governor’s mansion.

“Knock Knock!” says the cheery voice of Andrea’s true love, Governor Philip Blake.  Pushing the door open with his foot, he carries a breakfast tray to his beloved.  Reluctantly, Andrea sits up to welcome her tall, dark and handsome.  He’s wearing a light blue cotton robe and white t-shirt.  As he walks across the room to her, his auburn hair neatly styled back, Andrea cannot believe she ever thought she was a lesbian.  Looking into his beautiful azure eyes, she does not fully appreciate the magic of the moment.  Twelve hours from now, one of those beautiful eyes, along with a good deal of the right side of his brain will be savagely punctured clear to the back of his skull by a 9 inch triangular shard of broken aquarium glass.

Still able to use both his eyes for the time being, the governor pauses in the middle of the room to take in the beauty of his new love.  Andrea is the most beautiful woman he’s ever set eyes upon, even if she is a little butch.  Her tight clean white tank top revealing the hint of hardened nipple underneath, causes Governor Blake to go all stiffy.  Luckily, the breakfast tray obscures the pitched tent.  God, she’s so wonderful, the governor thinks as he subtly delays setting the tray down, trying to think about baseball.  The governor would commit his very soul to protecting this wonderful creature the rest of his days.  Well he would have if she hadn’t been slowly devoured by a pack of zombies later on that night.  But, I get ahead of myself.

“Pour Moi?,” Andrea says in a totally inappropriate coquettish way that doesn’t fit her kind of leathery skin and manly appearance.  Hey – beauty is in the eyes (soon to be eye) of the beholder, I guess.  To anyone watching this scene unfold, nausea would certainly ensue, but to the governor, the sound of her Camel no filter, gravel trash voice only worked to undo all he had accomplished by thinking of baseball.  He could not contain himself.  He threw the tray aside to embrace his one and only, and was rewarded with the sweet sound of her delirious squeals of delight.

Two minutes later, Andrea exhaled with the satisfaction that only comes from that first drag of Camel no filter while the governor furiously worked at the coffee stain on the bedside rug.  “This better come out.  It was Nana’s rug,” He was saying.  But Andrea was miles away.   Too bad about Amy getting all mauled and killed by Zombies and stuff that one time and then me putting a bullet in her brain.  She would have liked it here.  Then Andrea had another irrational thought that made her feel a little guilty.  If Amy were still alive, would the Governor have gone for her instead?  Sure she was 12 years younger than Andrea, but she was definitely way hotter.  Plus, it didn’t matter how the light hit Amy, she always looked female.  Unfortunately, Andrea didn’t get that gene.  I’m a horrible person who should die a violent death.  It should have been me, not Amy, Andrea correctly assessed.  Why did Dale force me to live on?  Anyone watching the situation would have been ok with me blowing to tiny bits at the CDC.  Oh well, God must have something bigger in store for me, Andrea wrongly assumed.  Unless she meant “Becoming food for the undead” was somehow part of God’s grand plan for her.  Because I can tell you, that’s what’s going to happen if I have anything to do with it. 
~~

It’s Midnight in Woodbury.  Well past curfew, but all of the citizens are out on this warm summer evening.  They are gathered around in a circle waiting to hear from the Governor just what the hell is going on.  The impossible has just happened.  There has been an attack on the town.  Some band of armed ruffians from “out there” have managed to get through security and seemed to have pillaged through the town, killing nearly a third of the population in the process.  There are many rumors about why this has happened.  There are arguments.  Blame is being placed.  Those who were tasked with guarding the perimeter are under the most critical scrutiny.  Just as things are about to boil over, the Governor calmly walks to the town square from his home.  At his arm, is his new girlfriend, the peculiar looking Andrea, tears streaming down her wind battered face.  Then the crowd notices the governor has been injured.  This is disconcerting.  The governor is their rock.  Every single person in town (except the Dixon Brothers) thinks of the governor as sort of a cross between Jesus Christ and Dirty Harry. 

Noting their dismay, the governor raises his hands to indicate he’s just fine.  “My good people,” He begins.  So strong is his influence you can actually see the shoulders of everyone in town lower a little as they relax at the soothing sound of his words.  “We have suffered a great blow this night.  We have lost many loved ones and an eye.  But I swear to you, we are secured now and we will promptly avenge the deaths of those so cruelly taken from us.”

Nods of satisfaction and agreement course through those standing around.  Sensing the people were ok with all that and ready to return to their homes for the night, The governor added,  “There is one thing we need to take care of right now, though,”  suddenly a hush fell upon the crowd as each person prayed they were to be held blameless in the intrusion, “I have discovered this was not some random attack.  That would not have made any sense.  We have a traitor in our midst,”  He paused to let the weight of his words settle on those gathered. The governor briefly looked to Andrea for support in what he was about to say.  He ended up turning his head way more than at first he thought he would, because he had forgotten that his one eye was gone, so when he first turned to look at Andrea, he couldn’t see her.  Finally, he saw her.  If anything, his newfound lack of depth perception made her look even more fetching!

Seeing her tearful face solemnly nod for him to continue, The Governor forged ahead with his totally bogus accusation, “My right hand man and most trusted confidant is to blame.”  A sigh of disbelief swept through the townsfolk as they all turned to look at Merle Dixon.  He was more surprised than anyone.  Merle?  A traitor?  This couldn’t be.  Racist?  Sure.  Misogynist?  Most certainly.  One hand fashioned into a long steel blade?  Uh-huh.  But Traiter.  Say it ain’t so, Governor.

~~

Outside the town, Rick and his rescue team were baiting an area with blood from their own wounds to lead walkers to an opening they had created along the town's perimeter.  In time, this would hopefully lead a zombie hoard right smack dab into the middle of Woodbury.  “It seem wrong, use walkers on human,” Michonne protested.  This had been a concern of Rick’s as well, but he’d actually only gotten about 6 hours of sleep the night before and so with the whole trek over to Woodbury from the prison and then the whole rescue thing, frankly, Rick was just too tired to do his own fighting.  In the end, he knew it was probably wrong to send in walkers, but after careful consideration he decided, “Fuck ‘em.”

~~

With the shocking revelation that Merle Dixon was a traitor, The townspeople were slowly closing in on old stabby-hand.  This was exhilarating for Andrea who, tightly gripping The Governor’s hand, was becoming a little bit aroused by the excitement and impending violence of the moment.  As Merle circled in the center of the gang, using his scary hand blade thing to ward off any who would get too close , the noise of the mob became deafening.  And since zombies don’t make any kind of noise until you know they are there, nobody even saw the nasty one that took a big chunk out of Andrea’s shoulder.  Her scream was nearly blotted out by the general crowd noise, but not quite.  The governor turned as he felt her grip tighten.  He counted 3, maybe 4 goons going after the only woman he’d ever loved.  Instinctively, he shook free from her grip and backed off to watch in horror as Andrea writhed in unimaginable agony.  Her flesh coming free in bloody chunks as the now half a dozen zombies went into a feeding frenzy.  The smell of Andrea’s bowels and the squishy sound of her splashing guts was enough to cause a big circle vomit from the crowd.  “I’m so sorry Amy.  Truly I am,”  She gasped at last.

How will Andrea ever get out of this one?  Hard to say.

(to be continued in February)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Based on a True Story


Saturday Afternoon, November 24, 1984

“I see you found my lighter,” Janer said.

“Holy Jesus man! Stop doing that.  Where the hell have you been anyway,” Boomer asked The Good Med Student Johnson.

Herman Johnson had a way of sneaking up on you.  Until today, Boomer and cube just assumed it was his buttery smooth gait.  In any event, it was pretty much impossible to get used to.  Janer had been missing for several months.  They had been last seen at the 6 West movie theater at Westroads mall in Omaha.  Janer was 2 people always seen together.  Herman Johnson and Burt Rasson. 

“Hey Burt,” Cube said as Rasson sidled up next to Johnson.  They did that.

“May I have my lighter back, please?”  Johnson persisted.  He was looking at the Zippo sitting atop Boomer’s new soft pack of Salem Lights. 

“Your lighter?  This is mine.  I found it fair and square.  Besides, if it’s yours, why does it say ‘Burt’ on … oh,” Boomer and cube finally realized who ‘Burt’ was.  But why was Johnson calling it his lighter?

“So why are you calling it your lighter, Johnson,” Cube asked.

“Have you ever thought about your future boys?  What you’ll be doing in 30 years?”  Johnson said all mysterious like.

“Hell no.  Jinx.”  Said Boomer and Cube.  Then Cube continued, “I suppose we’ll be sitting around, drinking some frosty cold beers.  High five, my man!”   And yeah, Boomer didn’t leave Cube hangin’.

Johnson was getting serious in a really creepy way, “Yeah, pretty good guess,” He said.  “But let me show you something.”

Then Rasson got all wide eyed with what looked something like terror, “Huh – uh.  No no no.”

“Don’t worry Burt.  This is one of the best lighters.  The January 8th” 

“I’m going to show you guys something for taking such good care of my lighter, but first of all, do either of you golf?”

“Hell no. Jinx.” Said Boomer and Cube, “That’s for old fat guys.”

“What do you think you’re going to be in 30 years,” Johnson shot back, clearly losing some patience.

“Whoa there, slow down Herman.  I don’t think you should …” Burt began.

“You’re not paid to think,” Johnson glared at Burt.  Boomer and Cube didn’t want any part of a Janer fight.    Janer always got along.  Except when they didn’t.  Nobody had ever seen them fight.  At least nobody who’s still alive. 

So when Boomer and Cube wisely got up to leave, Johnson stopped them.  “Boys.  Why don’t you go back to the Card room?  I’ll see you in 5 minutes.”  They immediately obeyed.  What choice did they have?

Friday evening, November 23, 2012

“Are you sure you want another one Greg?  You appear to have had enough.  Besides, don’t you have to work tomorrow?”  Greg’s brother John (no relation) owned the little neighborhood bar in the Ak-sar-ben area of Omaha, called “Dino’s”  Greg was the golf pro at Elmwood Muni and had to be there from sunrise to sunset on Saturday.

“Stop worrying big brother.  Ain’t nobody coming in to golf tomorrow.  Cloudy.  High of 40.  Wind gusts out of the north up to 30.  Stunning college football matchups all day long.  You know how many tee times are reserved for tomorrow?  None.  Zip.  Zero.  Nada.  Auf wiedersehen.”

Greg’s breath knocked John back and slightly off balance.  Nonetheless, his brother wanted a drink.  “Last one bro.  You know you could get some walkins.”
“Walkins, schmalkins,” Greg said as his head went freefall onto the marble bar top of Dino’s

“Good night brother,” John said, bringing a blanky from the back room and draping it over his unconscious brother’s broad shoulders as he once again slept at the bar.  “I don’t envy you the headache you will have when you awake,” John said sweetly, referencing Greg’s favorite movie of all time.

Greg was wrong about no golfers though.  There would be exactly 4 people on the golf course the next day.  2 twosomes.  Both groups contending for the exact same tee-time.  It was weird.

Saturday Afternoon November 24, 1984

Boomer and Cube were sitting at the card table waiting for Johnson to sneak up on them.  Sitting on top of the table was a can of paint.  The boys thought maybe Chico was remodeling or something but still, it seemed weird that the paint would be sitting on the table.  There was a plain label on the can that said only “A Can of Paint,” which also seemed a little strange.  But these were ‘plain label’ days, so it seemed sort of reasonable, they guessed.

“Sorry about that, boys,” Johnson just appeared.

“Holy shit sandwiches!  Stop doing that!”  Cube pleaded.

 Ignoring Cube, Johnson asked the boys if they’d like to see what they’d be doing in the future.  Then there was this big long scene where they didn’t believe in time travel and Johnson talked at them and got them to partially concede that if they were correct, then there was no harm in humoring him, am I right?  Then they argued that there very well could be harm in humoring a crazy person.  Then Johnson talked about all the weird stuff that happened. Disappearances.  Marilyn leaving the scene of a Robert Duvall sighting.  Robert Duvall.  Renaud and the Zombies – which was in no way related, but it was still weird.

“What the hell?  There’s nothing to do around here anyway.  Why not,” Boomer said, exasperated as they finally agreed.

Johnson told them they were going to visit the future – exactly 28 years from today.  It’s easier in whole years, and when the calendars line up, he explained.  If you want to go to a different time or date, there’s more math because of something to do with the position of the earth, blah blah blah.  Boomer and cube weren’t really listening.  They were taking turns swinging the golf clubs Johnson had brought in.

“ … to keep the unit small enough so it could be concealed in a lighter,”  Johnson finished as Boomer put a gash in the ceiling with the 6 iron he was swinging.

“Hand me that can of paint, would you Cube,” Johnson pointed over to the table.

“You gonna paint a time machine, J?” Cube asked, handing the can over.

Both boys stepped back in response to the smell coming from the opened paint can.  It wasn’t paint inside.  It was whale fat.  “Have a nice round, boys!” Johnson encouraged as the scene shifted.

Saturday afternoon November 24 2012

“So what’s with the whale fat,” Boomer asked as he and cube unwittingly landed in the Elmwood municipal 18-hole golf course clubhouse, 28 years in the future!  Behind the counter, groggy, dehydrated and barely alive, was Greg the golf pro.  He thought Boomer was addressing him. And unfortunately, he was a little sensitive about his weight (because he was a big huge fatass).

“What did you say, you little punk,” Greg wearily challenged, raising a tired fist.

“Pipe down boss,” Cube’s cocky manner wasn’t going to help the situation.  Luckily for both boys, Greg got control of his temper and they once again narrowly averted a huge ass whoopin’, “He wasn’t talking about you.  Although … Ow,” Continued Cube as Boomer elbowed him to shut him the hell up.

In a robotic monotone, Cube said, "Take us to your leader."

"C'mon boys, whaddya need?" Greg just wanted to lay back down in the office.

“We’re here to do the golfing,” Boomer said.

Greg looked at the 2, doubtful, “You boys know how cold it is outside?” they didn’t.  But they suddenly realized how it was that Janer always managed to sneak up on people.   Time Travel.  Duh.

“Realize how cold it is,” is my middle name said Boomer to the satisfying bloodshot eyeroll of The Golf Pro.

Sighing heavily, Greg finally said, "Well, you'll have the whole course to yourself today."

Boomer said, "That's not what I heard.  Ow,"  This time he got elbowed.  

Meanwhile, across town …

Boomer arrived at Cube’s house at about 2 in the afternoon.  It was the Thanksgiving weekend and Boomer was in town for the holiday.  “So what’s there to do around here,” he asked Cube.

“Well it’s too cold to golf, so that leaves television and/or beer,” Cube explained.

“Hmm.  Too cold to golf.  Interesting.  I don’t think it's too bad.  In California, we have image of the rugged Midwesterner.  I’ll just have to go back and explain …”

“Hold up there, Boomer.  What I meant was – you’ve been in California for a long time.  I didn’t really think you’d be up for it.  Last thing I want is for you to go back home with chapped lips or something.  We Midwesterners have an image of Californians as well.”

“Hey – it’s me.  Let’s get to the links,” Boomer said.

“I’ll get the sunscreen,” Cube said, sensing with great relief they were about to do something uncomfortable, just because it was funny.  Oh and there really was nothing to do.  Some things don’t change.
Photo, Courtesy "Boomer from the past"

On the way to the Elmwood Municipal 18 hole golf course, Cube was worrying about something.  “What’s up, pussy?”  Boomer asked.

“Well, I mean, you think they’ll let us walk on?  It such a beautiful cold blustery grey day.  What if there’s a tournament or something?”

“We can at least check.  Somebody always backs out of tournaments last minute.  We can surely hop in there if we have to.”

As old Boomer and Cube opened the clubhouse door, they had to wait for a couple of kids just inside the door who were looking around like out-of-towners.  The kids just stared at Boomer and Cube for a minute until Boomer said, “You kids mind?  We’re going in.”

Snapping out of some hypnotic state, the boys blocking the entrance said “Oh sorry.  I guess we’re our own worst enemies,” as they chuckled and lugged their golf clubs to the first Tee-box.

“Couple of smartasses,” Cube observed, “I hope we weren’t like that,” he lied, admiring whatever mischief those boys were up to.  "I mean who golfs on a day like this?"

“I know, right!”  Greg the golf pro chimed in.  Boomer and Cube let that one go.  Greg was a little too old to be saying “I know, right!” -  He looked like more of a “To the Max” guy, but whatever (‘whatever’ never goes out of style).

“What happened to your forehead,” Cube asked Greg, looking at the bruise from when Greg knocked himself out on his brother’s bar.

“Oh I passed out drunk and hit a marble top bar,” Greg was way more honest than most people expected, “but hey, you should see the other guy.”

Boomer’s turn, “And by ‘other guy’ do you mean ‘your liver’?”

Greg suddenly got all pensive and shit, “Um.  Are those your kids out there on the first tee?”
The three of them looked out the clubhouse picture window at the 2 jackasses on the tee box.  One was doing jumping jacks.  The other, deep knee bends.

“At least not that we know about, hardy har har,” Cube said, mocking people who always make that joke.  Greg laughed way too much at that one.

“Can we get some cold ones from you?  I’m not going out there without some icy cold refreshment,” Cube declared, “2 Heinekens.  Boomer?  Ok, 4 Heinekens”

“If you get 5, the 6th is free,” Greg said.

“Better make it 10 then,” Boomer upped the ante, “And lots of ice to keep it cold, please.”


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Listen, if you can't scrape your windows, just get a garage. But until then, scrape your fucking windows


Ahh, late autumn/early winter.   A special time in the best city in the world.  Before I was out of High School, I rarely scraped my car windows.  To my defense, it was completely unnecessary for most of the year.  But as the weather got colder and the frost (or ice and snow) formed, visibility dropped all the way down to just in front of my steering wheel.  Sometimes I would just turn the heater on and wait for the windows to clear from that.  As soon as there was about a 2 inch clear spot at the bottom of the windshield, I was good to go.  I’d just hunch over, forehead against the steering wheel, wipers going full blast, peering through the growing clean spot.  By the time I reached my destination, I was sitting back in comfort, wipers off, driving like a pro.

Usually, I didn’t have any sort of ice scraper either.  I do remember that at one time I had an old metal light switch plate that I used to scrape my windows.   Yeah, that left permanent deep gouges in the glass.  Also, I had no gloves. 

If it snowed, I had no brush or anything, so I’d clutch the end of my coat sleeve and wipe off what I considered the minimum for reasonable travel.  The first few times I just cleared a spot about 4 inches by 6 inches in the middle of the driver’s side windshield.  That’s when I learned how important side windows were in driving.  So I wisely started clearing a similar sized patch on either side window.  That’s when I learned about how that works not at all on the passenger side.  Of course, to see out of these arrow slits, it was necessary to press my face close to the window, thus fogging it up and rendering the window once again useless.  I actually (erroneously) thought since I knew the route pretty well, visibility was nice, not absolutely essential.   Each day of these scary morning commutes, I’d promise to get myself some gloves and an Ice scraper.  No way I was getting one of those stupid brushes. 

If it was just frost, I’d try to use the window cleaner to melt it off.  Well this works really well if 1) You have excellent wiper blades, and 2) Your car is already warm.  Admittedly, the crystallizing blue wiper fluid as it freezes is a thing of beauty, but unfortunately, it eventually makes matters worse.

I think I was about 30 years old when I was finally completely prepared for any snow and ice windshield maintenance.  I always have gloves in the car.  I always have a scraper.  I always have a brush.  If the world is still here in 2013 (fat chance), it will surely be a very different one.  One that could not even be predicted by the Mayans.  That means, I wouldn’t be surprised at all (or unprepared) if some freezing rain began to fall on the 4th of July.   I’d be ready.  My scraper is always in my car.

Here’s the sweet irony.  The time of my preparedness for inclement windshield weather coincides almost exactly with the time my car was usually garaged overnight. 

One of my favorite commutes is the one where my completely shiny, clean dry car plows through the overnight snow as I wave to others in clearly garaged cars, knowing they can see me like it’s a fine summer day (pre 2013, of course).  I have respect for the person whose car was obviously out in the elements, but who took the time to not only clear off every inch of window (including mirrors), but wipe the snow off the top of the car.  I don’t envy you, but I respect you. 

The people I absolutely cannot stand are the ones who do exactly what I used to do.  When I see these cars, covered in frost or snow, with a shivering, hunched over driver, cigarette trembling from purple lips, I think out loud, “what a complete and total fucking moron.”  I then unbutton the top button of my shirt because, whew, it’s a little warm in my nice big clean new dry sedan.  Must be the complete absence of holes in the floorboard.  

So this morning as I settled in for a nice comfy cozy warm drive in, I was momentarily blocked by a very smart young girl.  Actually, I don’t have any idea how smart she is. I just know she’s smarter than I was at that age.  She had backed out of her driveway and into the street.  Much like all of her car windows, she just sat there frozen.  There was just enough room for me to get by between the front of her car and her driveway.  I could see that her windows were all frosty, but I didn’t understand why she was just sitting there.  Is she picking up a friend, I wondered.  Then it hit me.  Her not being able to see is stopping her from continuing.  That’s how I know she is smarter than I was.  “What a complete and total fucking moron,” I said as I drove in front of her, offering up a completely unseen friendly wave.

Yeah – getting old is a bitch.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

... Or Sunday. Definitely Sunday.


Warning:  Not only is this post late.  Nothing happens in it.  I was just goofing around with fake drama and suspense for a while stringing words together for no particular reason. You're welcome.

October 1969

“5 minutes Mr. Bergen,” came the announcement from the other side of the dressing room door.  Bergen stopped adjusting his bow tie, turning his hands in front of him to inspect them through the dressing room mirror.  Glaring at his useless right hand, unable to fathom how he had kept his secret for so long.  None of that mattered now.  The end had finally come.  One more show and the debt to Duvall is paid in full.  If there are no surprises, Bergen thought to himself, you might just make it through alive. 

Bergen looked over at the real stars of his show.  The blank gaping grins of Snerd and McCarthy stared back at him.  Mocking.  “You ready, gentlemen,” Bergen asked with a heavy sigh.  Rhetorical, really.  They’re ready. They’re always ready.  For Horror!  Or comedy.  Yeah – mostly comedy.  But sometimes … Horror!

Snerd wore a black and white checked suit and red vest.  He had lost a front tooth in a back room brawl during a poker game and had never bothered to get it fixed.  When Snerd talked about it, he’d always say, “I lost the battle, but won the war.”  The body of the man who’d knocked out The Snerd’s tooth had been found 3 days later, bloated beyond recognition, strangled with piano wire and stuffed into an old oil drum down at the docks.  Snerd’s defense was that he was just an inanimate dummy who couldn’t possibly have been involved.  Investigators allowed Bergen into the room while the Snerd was being questioned on the condition the he not move his lips during the interview.   Bergen agreed and politely asked for a glass of water.  He could not explain it, but he was sure The Snerd was somehow behind the murder.

The Snerd’s remaining front tooth jutted over his lower lip adding to his comical appearance.  A close look into The Snerd’s eyes however, revealed a cold dead disturbing presence.  Occasionally a fan would encounter The Snerd and sense the evil within.  “It’s a hunk of wood,” Bergen would always come to the Snerd’s defense, if only to protect the suspicious innocents who got the cold chill as they passed by the Snerd.    

Charlie McCarthy usually dressed about the same as Bergen.  Black tails and top hat.  He often wore a monocle or occasionally a pince-nez as fashion dictated.  All and all, Charlie was just along for the ride.  The more famous of the 2 “dummies,” he had no taste for unpleasantness or blood.  He was not good or evil.  Most of the time he was too busy pondering the meaning of his existence to care about getting into any kind of mischief with his cousin Mortimer.

Exiting his humble room for the stage, Bergen placed a small letter in the box for outgoing posts.   Would Marilyn see the letter in time? He could only hope.

Under his arm, Bergen hefted a large trunk that carried his companions.  After tonight, with the exception of his haunted dreams and visions, he would be free of them forever.  The Snerd said he was going to go to France.  Charlie said he had a plan, but he wouldn’t say what it was. 

Bergen waited just off stage for the warm up act to finish.  His mind wandered back to a simpler time.   

May 1927

Sitting at a sidewalk cafĂ© in a Chicago suburb, young Bergen practiced his act.  He would make sloppy notes with his left hand as he argued with a poorly dressed McCarthy.  In fact, they were both poorly dressed.  Bergen hadn’t had a thing to eat in 2 days and didn’t know where his next meal was going to come from.  But he was happy.  He had his whole future ahead of him and he believed in himself and his dummy.  He had been at the table for about 2 hours, nursing his coffee when the waiter sat a club sandwich in front of him.  He and Charlie looked at each other in confusion.  “I believe this is a mistake,”  Charlie started as the waiter walked away, shrugging and nodding off to the left.  His left.  Charlie and Bergen slowly and in sync, turned their heads together comically, eyebrows high, in the direction indicated by the waiter.  There a man sat obscured by the copy of the Daily Edition he held up in front of his face.  As the ventriloquist team watched, the man folded the paper flat on his table, finished his coffee and approached Bergen and Friend.  He was tall, young and athletic with light wavy hair.  He wore dark sunglasses, a sharkskin suit and no hat.

Holding up a hand to signal there was no need to get up to greet him, the man said, “Name’s Duvall.  I can help.”

Bergen and Charlie looked at each other and then back at Duvall.  Charlie’s monocle dropped to his side.

Duvall said, “You look hungry.  I took the liberty of ordering you a turkey sandwich.”

It was Charlie who spoke up, “I’ll have you know, my good man, we’re in no need of charity …”

Duvall was ready for this, “But you could use some work I take it.  Not so easy to find these days, is it?

Now it was Bergen’s turn, “This is highly irregular …”

Duvall was quick, “Give me five minutes to explain while you and Charlie – Yes, I know your names – while you and Charlie enjoy your lunch.”

Much to Bergen’s surprise, Charlie piped in, “I say we give him a listen.”

Bergen’s face turned white. His hand dropped, sending his “Dummy” hanging upside down at the end of his right arm.   Bergen felt an icy cold fear grip his heart, “Did you,” was all he could breathlessly choke out.  He hadn’t made the dummy talk, yet it was the same voice.  What sorcery was this?

“Now that’s what I call ‘not moving your lips’,” Duvall marveled as he casually pulled out a cigarette and his trusty old Zippo lighter, dated 2/16/2362.

~~

Bergen came awake alone and on his back.  The room was total darkness except for a faint streetlight that shone through the dingy single window of the room.  Off to his right, he saw the horizontal strip of light coming in through the bottom of the bedroom door.  He had no idea where he was, except that he was still in Chicago.  The sound of distant freight trains unmistakable to a native of the city.  Rolling on his side, he remembered the strange man who had somehow thrown his voice to Charlie.  What was the man’s name.  French or something.  Outside the bedroom door he heard yelling.  An argument, but only one voice.  Another voice was arguing, Bergen realized from inside his head.  It was Duvall, that was the name, in a shouting match with Bergen’s alter ego.  “I think you might be losing your mind, Teddy,”  Bergen’s nickname for himself.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I call thanksgiving

I have part of a post finished.  But it is the holiday, so.  Since the agreement with Barry is to post anything by Friday morning -- this counts.   However.  I will have the real post up some time Saturday at the latest.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oh that’s what Twitter is

Note:  We had a family emergency this evening.  My son Jack is 9 years old.  The dog ate Jack’s homework that he’d been working on for 3 weeks.  You may say “What dog?” and that would be a good question.  To that I say “What homework?”  This pushed back the start of my blog composing by over 3 hours.  We really need to get another computer.  So if you are reading this and say, “Where the hell’s the post that is due?”

There is a perfectly good explanation.  The dog ate it.

Since I’m short on time, I’m going to just talk about something I know well.  Old people.  I might just have to change the name of this blog to oldcube or something. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with my daughter, age 22.  Girls are better than boys.  No dogs ever ate Jolene’s homework.  She was saying I should get on Twitter.  Honestly, I just don’t get it with twitter.  I have tried to understand the allure.  To me, it has seemed strange that I would be interested in anyone’s spontaneous thoughts.  Jolene said that because I’m funny, a lot of her friends would follow me if I got on twitter.  I told her I’ve had an account for years (this is true).  She said she couldn’t find me (she had looked).  Then I remembered that it wasn’t actually me who had the Twitter account, but one of my alter egos.  Nate Keeler.  That stupid sonofabitch never ever tweets anything on it either.  Holy Crap.  I just logged into Nathan Keeler’s gmail account.  He’s got 1200 unopened emails.  Mostly from facebook, asking if he knows various friends of Brady or people that went to the school that I said he went to that I didn’t know was a real school when I put it in there.  And breathe.  So now what I’ll do is see if I can resurrect his Twitter account.  Ok that’s done.  I don’t really know how to tweet, but I just put one in there to try out this crazy new hashtag idea.  I used the most common hashtag ever.  #rachelandfinnarewaymoregaythankurt  and guess what.  Mine is THE TOP tweet for that tag!  Sweet.  It reminds me of the time I did a web search for “gin soaked vagina” and my reference on my blog called "gin soaked vagina" was the only thing that came up, proving I invented the now commonly used term “Gin soaked vagina.”  These days it’s difficult to utter a sentence without saying GSV at least 3 times. 

Ok I just logged old NotFredCube into his Facebook account.  Guess what?  He’s still using the old format.  Lucky bitch.  

The title of this post (above) might be overstating it.  It’s not that I suddenly understand what Twitter is.  It’s just that I had a little bit of a revelation the other day on why it actually might be kind of fun if used a certain way.  Certainly this is not news to anyone except old people. 

Sit down and let me explain how it all began …

Sometime about a year or so ago, Jill and I were minding our own business, watching an all new episode of the hit TV Series “glee!”, when we saw something that made us do this (Old people, click the photo):



It wasn’t the thrilling story line or the cutting edge drama or even the beautiful glee! singing that had us so deeply flummoxed.  Nor was it the word “flummox”.  It was the occasional hashtag thingy during the episode of glee!  It would say something like #kurtsevenmoregaythisseason or #rachelandfinnareevenmoregaythisseason.   Jill asked me, “What the hell is that dang deal?” and I would say “Oh, I know what that is,” thinking I’d be able to work it out by the time Kurt’s boyfriend got done crying. But no.

We gave up on it.  Sure we were missing out on some television something or other, but then again not really caring.  I figured if I wanted to know what it was, I’d have to get off the couch, power up the home personal computing device, instruct the modem to dial up my internet service provider, etc.  It just didn’t seem worth the trouble.  


Old people don’t know how to watch modern television.  Even if they knew how (they don’t) they would be too tired to do it right.  Hey old people, it might help if you didn’t get up before bed time.  When old people watch tv, they just stare, mouth agape (not god’s love, but the other agape) not even texting anyone at all through the whole show.

Young people watch tv the way it was meant to be watched.  Young people stare at the tv, mouth agape, furiously working the texting device at the end of their lifeless arm.  Old people have the texting devices, but they just talk to them.  Yeah, like that works.

The first thing old people have to do to watch TV is to find the remote.  If the remote is not found, there will be no television watching.  Old people are always mad about not being able to find the remote for 2 reasons.  1) Old people always leave the remote in the same place “where it goes”, and 2) the remote is never in that place because some young person has left it in the cushions or under the couch or in the refrigerator.  Young people don’t have this problem.  They can always find the remote because it’s always where the old people left it.  Oh old people!  You’re so predictable. 

Once the remote is found, all inspiration to invent some sort of “remote locating device” fades as the old person can now settle in for an evening of confusion, known as “Television programming”

Old People used to watch a television show called M*A*S*H.  They loved this show.   It rarely confused them at all.  The theme song for M*A*S*H was a morose little ditty called “Suicide is Painless” One of (if not) the first episode(s) of M*A*S*H had a guy singing the song’s words (AKA lyrics).  The words freaked the old people out so much, that without taking their eyes from the screen, the old people sat at their typewriters and wrote several letters to their friends about how fucking crazy the words to the M*A*S*H theme song were.  Still looking at the screen, they expertly pulled the hand typed letters from the machine, folded them into envelopes and started licking stamps.  By the time M*A*S*H was over 30 minutes later, the old people had a stack of envelopes about 8 inches high to go out in the morning mail. 

That’s right.  If old people wanted to send you a message, they would write it down on a piece of paper and pay a company to deliver it for you.  Now all you have to do if you want to say hello to someone is navigate your cell phone to the correct screen, select the contact and press 4433555->555666 and pay a company to electronically deliver it.  If old people try to say hello to you this way, they have to press 4(back because they didn’t press the second 4 fast enough)44335555555(because they were trying to do 2 “L”s and went past the first “L” to the “5” then had to go around the first “L” again) then they have to wait for the cursor to move to the spot for the second “L” so they can continue. 555666.  

Don’t even get old people started on apostrophes.

So anyway - I thought the glee hashtag thing was some sort of signal for young people to do something and get some sort of enhanced viewing experience.  I didn't have a clue and most importantly, didn't care.

I was watching SNL the other day (Old people watch it on Sunday afternoon after they find someone to help them program their VCR) and saw the short film "Mokiki Does the sloppy swish"  I thought it was so funny, I googled it to see if I could watch it some more on my personal home computing device.  That's when I understood the hashtag thing (I think).  There were all kinds of comments about the short film grouped by various hashtag names.  Oh.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Meander


If you want to make an omelette, you’re going to have to break some eggs*.  We all believe this, but it doesn’t really tell us anything.  For instance, we are pretty sure there is more to it than that.  You can’t just throw some eggs on the floor and yell “Omelette!”

And “some” eggs?  How many is “some”?  People like to answer this question with another question.  Some smartass comment like “Well duh, how big an omelette do you want?”  All mocking and everything.  To that I say, “Don’t throw it back on me.  You always do that.  No wonder you can’t get along with your coworkers at the bank.”

It turns out, when people say that you have to break some eggs to make an omelette, they are usually not even talking about cooking an omelette.  And that’s too bad, because omelettes are delicious.  Also, even though it might seem like they’re changing the subject to breakfast food, many times, they are trying to convince you to make the hard choice after you’ve stated your reservations about some looming decision.  Either that, or they are cleverly defending some reprehensible act of their own.

Here’s an example:

Say you are running a quaint little bed and breakfast up in the northeast or whatever.  Your Bed and Breakfast is not known for any special amenities, but is able to succeed against the stiff competition on the strength of your world famous omelettes.  For years you’ve understood the literal meaning of the saying.  In fact, you cannot think of a time you made an omelette without breaking “some” eggs.

One fine Saturday afternoon, you’re trying to work out the menu for the next morning.  You know you’re going to make omelettes because it’s your specialty.  You have several guests who’ve traveled many miles just to get a taste.  Everything will be perfect.  Then one of your stupid little kids reminds you that tomorrow is Easter and you promised to let them color eggs.  You don’t have enough eggs for both.  You could run to the store and buy some eggs, but you’ve always used the eggs from your henhouse out back.  If word got out that your bed and breakfast used corporate eggs, you’d be finished.  For a moment you think you’re saved when you realize that you could use the store eggs for coloring, until you remember that the bible expressly forbids using store bought eggs as decorations for Easter.   Even though your children will be devastated, you choose to save the business.  You explain to your children that God cancelled Easter this year, and besides, you must make omelettes for your guests.  Then you tell them about how you have to break eggs to make omelettes.  Through ear popping wailing and a river of tears, they plead with you to stop speaking in riddles.  You agree and send them to bed, using the words “Go to bed.  No Riddle there, eh?”

Another Example (this one, defending reprehensible act):

“Jeez Bob.  You egged that guy’s new car?  What the hell man?  That’s really messed up.”

“Hey Joe.  It’s like they say – ‘If you want to make an omelette …’”

“I don’t think they mean …”

“Yes they do.  Where’d you park again?”

“No.  It’s cool.  I get it”

But breaking eggs is one small part of the omelette making equation.  I wonder if one of the other steps would change the meaning much.  Eggs are the primary ingredient in the finished product.  But do the supporting omelette making actions play any less a role?  Perhaps any of the other things you could say about omelette making would work just as well with the saying.

“If you want to make an omelette, you have to heat up the pan.”

I could see where this might get a similar meaning across.  But is it as universally true?  I don’t think so.

“If you want to make an omelette, you have to use a spatula.”

Yeah, that’s probably true, but somehow, it doesn’t sound as ominous as “BREAKING EGGS.”  The apparent quandary is that you’ve got yourself a dozen unbroken metaphorical eggs and you’d like to keep it that way if at all possible. The problem is you need a metaphorical omelette.  Yes, you have to use a spatula, but when you’re done cleaning, much like the pan, you still have a spatula.  You still have a dozen eggs, but some are broken now and all the kings horses …

Wait.  Was Humpty Dumpty a metaphor or allegory?

“If you want to make an omelette, you may end up with scrambled eggs.”

Ok, I just threw that in there because it happens sometimes.  Which means it happens metaphorically too.  It is possible that you set out with every intention of making an omelette.  You go ahead and do what must be done (break eggs) but the end result isn’t what you wanted at all.  Now you’ve potentially damaged some important relationships for scrambled eggs.  Nice going, Hitler.

I’m going to work one of these altered omelette making tutorials into my next staff meeting to see what happens.  I think it will go like this:

“Yeah Cube, I’m not so sure we should release the ‘string filter fix’.  Some of the clients may have workarounds in place that could potentially skew the results,” someone will say.

“Huh, what?”  I’ll start, snapping gracefully out of my morning meeting nap, wiping the drool from my chin, “Oh yeah, well you know, the pan has to be heated up …”

Actually, I do this sort of thing a lot in meetings.  I try to start new nonsensical buzz phrases.  Meetings love buzz phrases.  I no longer ask people what they mean by certain phrases.   It was during the great morning status update meeting of 2010, when my innocent question about the meaning of “Long pole in the tent,” caused a huge debate. That’s when I realized these guys don’t know what they’re saying  either.  So I don’t ask anymore.

All companies insist that communication skills are vital for success, then their managers go around saying things like, “Yeah.  The long pole in the tent is gonna be getting the database tables created.”

“Oh yeah, ok.  So I’m going to go join the circus now and come back when I understand what the hell you’re talking about.  Thanks.”

When I asked what the “long pole” thing means, I was not surprised to learn there was no consensus. Group 1 believed it meant that no work could continue until the long pole task was finished.   The other group thought it meant the project could be released incomplete, but not without the “Long pole.”

For potential insight, I tried thinking back to my literal experience with tents.  I went on RAGBRAI a couple of times and had to set up a tent each night.  There were usually 2 long poles that were actually just several small sections of skinny pole held together by an internal elastic cord.  The sections slide into each other end-to-end to make a long bendy pole.  The pole slides into sleeves of the tent to frame the whole thing up all nice and everything, similar to how a set of database tables might hold information for use in some sort of intricate software project.  Not really.  Not at all, in fact. 

It wasn’t until someone said, “No stupid, circus tents,” that I was on the road to a more certain ambiguity.

I don’t know circus tents.  Can other work be done while the long pole is being put into place?  I can picture a pole majestically rising as a massive red and white striped canvas reaches ever skyward.  The air smells of caramel popcorn. Dozens of burly men in dirty white tank tops strain, sweat stinging their eyes as they pull ropes outward from the center securing the long pole.  Once in place, several “carnies” rush around staking the ropes and supporting the outer structure with 36 “short poles.”  A fat man in a tattered wool suit, red vest and a top hat, hook cane hanging from his crooked left arm shouts through a megaphone that the show must go on.   This is all great, but when I apply this to the required database table specs for our current project, I’m not sure what we need to do.  Where do we put the caramel popcorn, anyway?

When I was a kid and we went to the circus, it was usually at the Omaha Civic Auditorium, so there was no tent at all.  I brought this up at the meeting and said maybe there was an existing framework we could use instead of developing the tent ourselves.  “No, there isn’t,” said the project manager a little too quickly.  Because you know what the project manager’s job would be if we went the sensible route?  Looking for a job, that’s what.

Oh yeah, omelettes.

Optional parts of omelette making don’t work for the proverb at all.  They come across as wishy-washy in the context of your no compromise, egg-breaking, omelette making resolve.  As you forge ahead, you don’t want to say something like, “If you’re going to make an omelette, you’ve got to whip the eggs thoroughly and sometimes it helps to add a little water or milk.”

The ass of a rat has very little value.  However, if people saved them up and stored them in some sort of Tupperware™ container, you shouldn’t expect them to open it up for letting them know about the variables of omelette making.  What I’m trying to say is nobody gives a rat’s ass about the variables of omelette making.  The one thing you absolutely need is broken eggs.  Everything else is optional.

* No egg breaking is required in the making of “vegan omelettes”.  This is because vegan omelettes are not omelettes.  They are an ungodly mixture of flour, tofu and spices, tricked into trying to impersonate real omelettes.  Seriously.  If you want to be vegan, just eat vegan food.  Don’t go around missing real food so much you have to try to make your tofu taste like animals.  It never works and you are stupid for thinking it does.  If I’ve offended any vegans, I am sorry, but if you want to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs.  No exceptions.