Thursday, January 29, 2009

Coming unglued

At the office, I read all day. I bring in books and I have the internets. I don't work. Nobody else does either. We are waiting 'til the end, which was slowly dawning on us, and is almost on top of us. Ready to devour us whole.

I've taken to listening to the Writer's Almanac on NPR, and I don't know how I feel about that. Maybe I feel dirty and ashamed. After all, I hate A Prairie Home Companion. Hate hate hate it. But this is a gentle program, filled with few pretensions save the closing quotation. I need that in my day. Sometimes it is pounding, thundering death and black metal. Sometimes swaggering Sinatra. But sometimes I really need life to be slow and quiet.

All this makes me feel like I'm coming unglued. Really. The love of the past and the love of the future seem very contradictory. So too is the harsh and the gentle. Sometimes I feel as though my head will split wide open.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Book report: The Beautiful and the Damned

I'll preface this by saying that Fitzgerald's best work was The Great Gatsby. All his works tend to have overlapping themes: his generation were "egoists", a self-absorbed group of materialists who care nothing for the well being of others. It tends to permeate his work and make him a one trick pony. He said it best in Gatsby, but that doesn't mean that his other work should be discarded entirely.

That said, this is the book that I should have read immediately after graduating from college. If you are reading this and just graduated from college: read this book. It isn't Fitzgerald's best work, but we've been over that.

Once, long ago, I was unemployed and struggled to find work. I could not even land an interview. I was utterly alone in my quest to attain employment. Consequently, I drank way too much. Fortune smiled on me, and I came into some money, which helped finance my exodus from the land of despair and chronic underemployment. I went somewhere better. Thus for me personally, my life mirrored the life of the characters in this book in some ways. The main character in this book, Anthony Patch, is a young Harvard grad from a well respected and pecuniary family. He doesn't work because there is "nothing worth doing". He tries his hand at writing but is a failure at all creative pursuits, as is his wife. Eventually his money dries up and he searches desperately and unsuccessfully for work while descending into an alcoholic miasma.
So much did my life at one point mirror this book that it was a difficult read. Am I the only one? No, I am not. This is a common occurance. Brian Cook eloquently writes on this

"The thing I was, and the things I thought I would be, had broken. I think this is a common thing these days. I think everyone gets through college with the idea they will be a special snowflake, and then they find themselves in a strange city or, worse, a city abandoned by the people they knew before. They work a job at which they are not a special snowflake. It's boring. It is not at all what anyone envisions themselves doing. If you're not a lawyer or engineer, it probably pays poorly.

And the adult world encroaches and says "this is life, get used to it."

And you write twenty pages of the Great American Novel before getting used to it."

This too was my life. So I guess when trying to write that "Great American Novel", it is probably a good idea to read Fitzgerald and learn a few things. First, that he was talented and erudite, and had little to say but said it over and over again until he finally got it right. Second, that he too tried to write that Great American Novel of dejection, and even he wasn't all that successful. And finally, that you are not alone little snowflake.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This makes me want to cry

Behold the majesty of Psyrens on the piano:

Yes, that was awesome! That is all.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Retirement Countdown: 18 days

I'll be retired in 18 days. I've got my Old Overcoat rye whiskey. But I still haven't decided on the Irish Whiskey. Ohhh, decisions decisions.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Your weekly Bollywood

I give to you: Indian Joe Pesci

Oh the follies of youth

Several months ago, one of Dawn's friends moved to Vermont. She left to be with her fianceƩ, a chronically unemployed drunk. She has an associates degree in bioscience. She trained in school to work in a lab for scientists. There is a lot of that here, and not a whole lot over there. Dawn tried to warn her. She said that she ought to stay here and get a job and make money. By moving out there, she was throwing her life away for a no good bum. Dawn was right, of course. But she also learned the hard way.

Why should she move out there an not he move out here? He said it is because he didn't want to live in such a liberal town. I find that answer to be disingenuous. This town is surrounded by country bumpkins. More likely he is a loser and he knows it. And he knows that if he moved out here, all her friends and support group would know it. He would be exposed and they would work hard to convince her to show him the door. So if she moves out there, she has no one but him. Without friends and support, she finds herself "stuck" with him. And she has, for she is now underemployed and burned through her life savings.

Ahh, the follies of youth. She was warned, Dawn told her so. But she wouldn't listen because she was young, and sometimes you have to learn things the hard way. Sometimes someone telling you something won't sink in. It won't matter because, as a youth, you are ruled by your emotions.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The ennui of the iphone

For a long time I really wanted an iphone. It had everything I wanted. It was a cell phone. It was an mp3 player. It was a GPS navigation unit. It was a WiFi web browser. It was a camera. It was all things to all people.

But it was too expensive. I am but a poor man, and buying one would require a 2 year contract with AT&T's expensive data plan.

I had high hopes for Verizon to unveil an iphone killer. They have some tough numbers, but their arsenal comes with a similar pricetag.

My goal had been to get an all in one, price be damned. But price cannot be damned, as I am now pinching pennies with my early retirement.

So now, instead of whining about the phone I can't have, I'll opine on the future of phones. These smartphones will be the death of Microsoft. They were stupid for not jumping into smartphones in a stronger way earlier. Sure, they have Windows Mobile. But no one likes Windows Mobile, and it is losing market share among smartphones. Meanwhile the try to sell the Zune, a product that is stodgy in appearance and does not include a phone or any other selling feature. It is a good ipod killer, but ipods are basically dead anyways.

If someone would sell the iphone with a dataplan that is really cheap, I would buy it. I don't need that much data per month. Much as I opt for the lowest number of minutes in my cell phone plan, I would get a sparse data plan, if such a thing were offered. Until the wireless providers come up with a reasonable plan, I'll have to wait and pine for an all in one. Damn them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The official countdown to retirement

There are 27 days until my retirement begins. I've been thinking a lot about what to drink in the interim, and what to drink thereafter. I've decided that in the interim, with looming lack of money ahead, I should go the frugal route and try some rye whiskey. I'm not too familiar with rye, but as Tondar likes to point out I can always make Manhattans with it. For my retirement, I'm thinking severance whiskey. For this, Irish whiskey. I haven't made my decision yet; should my severance whiskey be something nice, like Tyrconnell? Should it be something cheap, but new to me, like Kilbeggan? That I haven't decided. In the mean time, look for lots of pictures of Old Overholt rye whiskey, or as they like to say "Old Overcoat".

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Your weekly Bollywood

Yesterday I took the state exam, in order to get a cushy government job. I got up at 7:30 AM on a Saturday, after not getting to sleep until 1:00 AM because the neighbors were partying. We eventually had to call the cops on them. Saturday morning it was probably 12 degrees outside. The parking spaces on campus, where the exam was, were filled. I found a place on a sidestreet. It was a campus red lot, violators will be towed. But I had to take a chance. There were meters, only operating M-F, so those couldn't be red lot spaces - could they? As I ran up the hill, knuckles red from freezer burn, I wondered if taking a shot at this job was worth it. I probably wouldn't do well enough on the exam to beat out the other 300 applicants. I could get towed. And then I heard this song...

How did I do? I don't know. But I did remember to "Taste the spirit of Freedom. It tastes so good."