Friday, December 31, 2004

poetry submission

you want to know me, but only want to touch the surface
you want an explanation for who I am - an answer
but I have none to give you
you're pulling me close, yet keeping me at arm's length
on the verge of pouring out, but you restrain yourself
touching me only with your confliction
and you wonder why I'm confused
-I can't live or think that way
and pretending that I can is so exhausting

what's the difference?
I want to reach inside you and explore every detail
I want to hold you so close that any sense of distinction is blurred
like we're sharing one skin
with your thoughts running through my mind
to devour you as I'm devouring myself
-to sink even deeper into this obscure feeling
and have you drown in it with me
I'd create for us a shared oblivion
beginnings and endings that we're afraid to touch
but have to because we've gained a taste for their torment

perhaps you know how deep this can go
and perhaps that's why you keep me at bay
I wonder if you realize, as I do, that it's over

a nameless feeling

I laid in bed for an hour last night, trying to put a name to a feeling.

It's Friday today, and because it's a pseudo-holiday, I'll probably be sent home from work early. After saying my goodbyes, I won't speak face to face with another human until next Monday. Even so, the conversations that I have today and after the weekend will be pointless... really more an exercise in stretching the vocal cords after their long rest.

I'll be alone tonight, unable to escape the irony that less than a mile from me, they'll be dropping the ball in Times Square. More people than I can hope to imagine will be vibrantly living their lives so near to me, but there will be walls separating us. They'll be celebrating the ups and downs of a passing and coming year, basking in the drama that they create for themselves... I'll be wondering why they're doing that, and wondering why I don't. I'll be examining the fact that I'm opting to hide from life so that I can have the time to better understand it.

Later on, boredom will kick in, and I'll force myself to find a place to bring my reclusion to a more public forum. I'll revisit my normal task of trying to find a coffee house or pub that's not empty, but not too full... I'll probably fail and return home. If I happen to succeed, I'll just find a place to sit by myself, and will end up writing something similar to this.

You see, I'm figuring it all out. I'm growing into a human who's just a little more than he was the day before. Finally, when all my growing is done, I'll have just as little to show for my effort as everyone who chose to live rather than observe... we're all just entertaining ourselves, waiting for the need to do so to finally be over.

I'm invisible... unheard and unseen. I'm just as much a stranger to myself as I am to any other, and see little chance of this changing. I can play the game and pretend to care about the 'finer' things in life, but in some ways, I know too much to place any value on them. The more you learn, the grayer the world becomes... beauty comes in forms of black and white, but when those smear together, it all looks the same. The futility of any action tends to stare you in the face, and even the act of realizing that futility is tainted by it the same.

It's easy to call this feeling loneliness, but that's not the right word for it. At times it bleeds into loneliness, but more often it doesn't. Being this way makes sense to me, and it also seems as futile as anything that those other people will be doing tonight. I'm partially content to be an invisible observer, but contentment isn't a good word for this either. This is just the way things are... it's a feeling of being empty and full at the same time... having wisdom without an opportunity for its application. It's being trapped in the moment before the race begins, with all intent, energy, and focus placed on the gunshot that never comes. It's living a life that's on hold, with the vague realization that it's always been on hold, and shows no promise of ever being any different.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

please kill Cher

Every time Cher comes out with a new album, the same thought crosses my mind, "What the fuck? I thought she died." Sometimes when a person wants something really bad, he convinces himself that it came to be. It's a kick to the stomach everytime that bitch rises from the dead.

Cher's pushing 90, but looks younger than me. She was performing the Chicago circuit for about ten years before she got her big break, doing lounge acts with a pre-famous Frank Sinatra. Frank rose in popularity faster than Cher, who he lovingly referred to as his 'older sister', but Sinatra made sure to get Cher the exposure she needed to kickstart her career.

Although formally known for her supposed musical talent, Cher's true claim to fame is as a marvel of twentieth century science. Somehow, this chick is still standing, and if I could overlook her chicken legs and horrible voice, I'd probably nail her; I won't though - I don't believe that it's right for a human and a cyborg (see glossary) to copulate. Cher is at the very least a cyborg, but is more likely to be an appliance (see glossary).

Hey American engineers, next time you decide to make someone immortal, pick somebody who's not a celebrity. How about a dockworker? Be smart even... pick a historian or diplomat. Which asshole was it who hopped out of his carriage to find the local entertainer who sang so beautifully when accompanied by a harpsichord?! I picture this dick saying to himself, "Look, Nathaniel - 'tis perfect! Oh Lord, thou hast blest us with a divine angel imparted to us by thine blest hand. Her magnif'cent taste in music is sure to be as timeless as the cold, rubb'ry skin that I shall bestow upon her."

When a chick is with someone noticeably older than her, if you're an old guy who's uncreative, a common and overused technique to get laid is to refer to the one in the walker as the young one. When I'm old and am making smalltalk to distract you from the scent of my dirty diaper, I'm going to refer to the old one as the other one's daughter. The thirty-five-year-old giggles, "No, Sir, that's Cher; she's my great, great, great, great grandmother." What the fuck?.. I wasn't being cute - I really thought that she was that chick's daughter.

Cher's career took a hit in the eighties, and she almost put herself out of my misery. She was going bankrupt, her hair looked ridiculous (I believe this was caused by her body's 'static electricity inhibitor' needing replacing), her voice was as shitty as ever, and her fifty-year-old daughter started licking twat. An extremely long era almost ended, but she found an unfortunate renewed zest for life, as she became a creative consultant for the movie Highlander. Soon after, George Lucas sought out her expertise for the development of the character 'Darth Vader' for many of the Star Wars movies. She was back on top - it's like her battery got a sudden recharge. We were so close...

Your assignment is to kill Cher (see disclaimer #2). I don't know if she has an 'off' switch installed, or if things are going to be more difficult. To prepare for the worst, I recommend watching the Terminator trilogy - know your enemy.

Killing her won't be enough... I want this done in a way that directly involves her music. I don't want to hear her shit on the radio for the week after her passing. I don't want to see her CDs on special display cases in Target. I sure as fuck don't want to see a movie coming out two months later about her centuries of service to the musical community. Here's what I want to hear, "Cher, out of respect for you, I'm never going to buy or play another one of your albums, because that's what killed you." I don't know how you're going to kill her to accomplish this final result, but that's what absolutely must happen; I don't just want her dead, I want all traces of her gone. Have a sense of decency, people, and get the job done.


This will be a growing post, which will list all of the disclaimers that are necessary to protect myself legally and morally from anything written in other posts.

1) Under no circumstance should anyone related to me on my mother's side ever be alerted to the existence or content of this site. Some of the things presented here imply a lack of intelligence as a trait among them. If they somehow become aware of this site, it is imperative that nobody teaches any of them how to read.

2) Any suggestion that you, the reader, should kill any individual or group of people is merely that, a suggestion. I take no responsibility for anyone who you happen to kill, regardless of how pleased I am with your actions. If you do kill someone in my good name, please be sure that there is no visible link between my request for the said party's murder and the execution of that murder. Of course, I do want you to kill for me, but you should do so strictly because you want to. Even if I supply specific names and addresses of those who MUST die, anything said on my part is meant to be taken strictly as theoretical.

glossary of terms

This will be a growing post, meant to serve as a glossary for terms that I happen to use in other posts.

Cyborg (noun): a person who cannot function normally without the use of machinery. "Grandma uses a wheelchair. She's a goddamn cyborg!"

Appliance (noun): a person who cannot survive without the use of machinery. "Pull the plug, Doctor; I won't be married to an appliance."


Things are very hazy right now. I'm not sure what it is - maybe the rarity of an empty elevator or hall as I'm grabbing a late cup of coffee. Maybe it's the subtle transition of a setting sun and an upcoming trip back to the solitude of my apartment. Maybe it's just the building up of a question so long unexplored - beating on the walls of my mind, relentless in its pursuit to overtake me. I'm slipping back inside, and soon will be home... a familiar sense is drawing me in.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

work persona lesson 2: underdressing for success

In lesson one, you learned of the powerful manipulative effects that unnecessarily wearing a tie can have on others in the workplace. By now, you should have a firm understanding of using a 'fuck you' ensemble as a tool (although you've only learned of one component of such an ensemble), and should also have learned of the importance of using such tools sparingly. Today, you're going to learn how to inappropriately underdress, for the purposes of psychological manipulation.

Let's set the scene: you're some company big-wig, and you're waiting in a conference room for me, someone who you've never met, to discuss my proposed changes to some of the ways that you're doing things. You've been doing this shit one way for at least ten years, and you're offended that some asshole kid is going to come in and tell you how you've been doing it wrong. My boss is already in the room, guaranteeing you that it'll be a smooth transition, and that you have no reason to worry, but this is a situation that you've never been in before... you're definitely worried, and you blame me for it. You're way higher on the totem pole than me, but you know damned well that I don't have to follow the same rules... my world is foreign to you, and I can go over your head easily... your title doesn't mean jack shit in this situation, and you're going to look like an ass if I come up with a simple solution that has been under your nose for years. You hate and fear me.

To make matters worse, I show up to the meeting late.... this is MY meeting, and I'm late. It can't start without me, because nobody has any idea what I intend to present. Everyone's already there, nervously making smalltalk, and nobody can reach me on my cellphone. My boss is trying to assure you that everything's fine, but he's just saying this to save his own hide.

Finally, I show up, and I'm the worst dressed person in the room. You're in a suit (you don't want to seem like you're not taking these proposed changes seriously... you have to look your best), my boss is in a suit (he's afraid of you, and has to serve as a mediator between everyone and me, the technical guy), and everyone else in the room, all of whom probably work under you, are at least dressed nice, as you instructed them to be. I'm dressed as if this is the least important day of my workweek, barely squeezing by the company minimum standard for dressing. I'm wearing a button down shirt, no tie, and my sleeves are rolled up. I come in, make no apology for being late, make an obviously false excuse about the subway being slow, and barely bother to make eye contact with you as I sit down and get organized. You're completely offended, and because I didn't even think about kissing your ass, you fear me even more than you did before.

I brought a stack of folders with me, each with an obscure technical label on it. I rifle through them to find the one that applies to 'this' meeting (the others may just be for show, but nobody would suspect that). I put the appropriate folder in front of me, and place the others to the side. I open it up, look you in the eyes for the first time, and don't even greet you. I start right off with, "Okay, here's what I'm thinking..."

Alright... a lot of things are happening here, but our focus today is on the fact that I'm disrespectfully underdressed, and of course, we'll also discuss the message that it puts forth. The most obvious message here is the fact that I don't fear anyone; I've used similar techniques in every job that I've ever had. If I don't fear being fired, the idea of firing me becomes ridiculous... this is another lesson that will have to be discussed independently, but we can cover the aspect of 'what your clothes say' today. If my clothes impart the message that I don't fear you, it means that I'm excluded from the hierarchal system that you thrive in... you're powerless over me, because that was the only thing that you had on me. The odds are that I'm smarter, I'm respected in the company for reasons that you can't fathom, and I'm also unique to the company... there are hundreds of you, but only two of me. I'm basically saying 'fuck you' in a different way than I am when wearing a tie. I'm doing this simply because I can, and because there's no reason not to. Notice the subtle fact that I wear a tie to make it seem like I have an important meeting, but when I actually have an important meeting, I won't... I'm saying 'fuck you' every chance I get. The illusion of invulnerability is vital, but it's something that mostly comes from one's behavior, rather than his clothes... we'll discuss that in depth later... if you're ever ready for such an advanced lesson.

Aside from the message we just discussed, there's something much more important that underdressing says about me: "I'm respected because of my results, not my image." Few can say this about themselves, and even fewer are known for it. People tend to rise up the ladder because they pay their dues... if I underdress, I'm saying that I'm going to climb the ladder in spite of the fact that I won't bother to pay shit for dues. Someone who's in a position of power, without bothering with the silliness of the corporate world is there because it makes sense for him to be there... he's there because he gets results. Keep in mind that others are potentially only going to see this snapshot of my career; it could very well be that I kissed every ass that I could up to this point, but all they're going to see is me being in a good position and not giving a fuck about the rules. Even more important, my not needing to play by the rules is a slap in the face of everyone who has to... no matter who they are, I just proved that I'm better. Here's the real kicker though.... because the rules obviously don't mean shit to me, all that matters are results; this means that the other guy's lofty position isn't going to save his ass when I tell him that he's been doing shit wrong... and pulling rank on me won't help at all... he better have an idea to top mine if he wants to seem my superior.

Underdressing can be very dangerous if you don't have the goods to back the statement up. In many situations, your worth won't be tested, and usually, you shouldn't be underdressing for such situations. If you're good, underdressing can make you look better... it's just a nice little 'fuck you' to throw on top of the ability to get shit done. If you're just heading off to your desk to pretend that you're working while downloading porn in another window, underdressing just makes you look sloppy. You have to use this tool only when it counts. I'm not sure that you'll ever be in a position for it to count, in fact, I'm not sure why I'm even teaching you this shit. Who knows though, maybe you'll surprise me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

work persona lesson 1: psychology of the tie

I decided to wear a tie today. The dress code at work is business casual, but every now and then, I like to go over the top a bit. There's an entire methodology behind such simple seeming actions, but I don't think that you're ready for the whole picture. Today however, I'm going to reveal the secrets of the easiest component in feigning importance: the tie. I'll go over the rest when you grow up a bit.

When wearing a tie is unnecessary, but I happen to wear one anyway, it's just my little way of saying, "Oh, 'Mr. Gray' sounds so stuffy... please, call me 'Sir'." The tie is possibly the most vital element of a 'fuck you, I'm going to be your boss' ensemble. For the sake of brevity, we'll call it a 'fuck you' tie. One can't just throw on a bunch of 'fuck you' items and expect to manipulate the psyches of others, but these are tools that make the process more effective. This is only lesson one, folks... I have to babystep your asses through this shit.

The tie that I'm wearing today is tied with a very thick knot. It's actually quite inappropriate for me to tie such a knot, as it's culturally reserved for CEOs and the like, but most people don't know that. Most people won't even consciously notice that my tie's worn any different than that of some jackass highschooler heading to a school dance, but it has a subtle subconscious effect on them. For some reason, my tie looks great on me, and it stands out more than your clip-on shit; they can't tell why, but they can certainly tell. It also has the added effect of appearing bigger, which makes it stand out visually. This accentuates the fact that I'm wearing a tie... which leads them to ask, "Why is he wearing a tie?"

Most people are lazy and hate their jobs. They want to do the bare minimum to get paid, before going home to the solace of wives and children who don't appreciate them. They're going to live and die in the same job, and their entire life's course is set. They don't have any reason to put forth any energy, and they sure as fuck would never think of wearing a tie for no particular reason. This is good... they'll apply the same methodology to me, and assume that I am, in fact, wearing a tie for a reason. What could such a reason be? Around here, it means that I have an important meeting with someone who I want to impress. I don't... I'm just writing my blog, but they assume that I have some vital, once in a lifetime, career-play happening today. "I wonder how he stays so calm and confident when it's such a big day for him."

There's too much going on around here for anyone to know a tenth of the story, and they know it. When a VP sees me dressed better than him, he has to assume that something big is happening beyond his knowledge, and ends up thinking the same thing as everyone else... "cool under pressure". He's going to be thinking that very same thing when it happens to be him that I meet with in the future. Everything's in my favor... my tie is just screaming, "Fuck you!" at everyone who sees it.

Obviously, for this to work, I can't wear a tie every day... every day can't be the big, special day. Besides, people who overdo it daily are just kiss-asses, hoping that their Prince Charming, from upstairs, will come down and rescue them. I'm just one of the guys, but I'm putting forth the energy to make shit happen for myself; this is entirely commendable and is a sign of leadership. The 'fuck you' that you may have just heard is a topic for another lesson, if you didn't catch it, don't worry... I have low expectations.

Everything I do while wearing a tie seems more significant. I'm writing this in the cafeteria right now, and people can't stop themselves from glancing over. The illusion of importance that my tie lends to me transfers over to everything that I do. My tie is whispering things that I can't even fathom into the ears of all who see it. They can't avoid it - my tie can peer deep into their souls; there's nowhere to run.

They were trying to fill my position for two months, until finally, my tie and I fell from heaven, landing in my new job. Only one other person made it to the fifth interview (of six), and I found out that he didn't stand a chance against me. I am apparently lacking in skill, but have great potential. If you rearrange the letters in the word 'potential', you end up with 'TIEntopla' - a coincidence perhaps? To me, 'potential' is a three-letter word. "Rand, you're delusional."... Am I, or does my tie just want you to think that I am?

I'm going to stop here... I don't want to teach you too much at once; you're a work in progress. Be sure to keep your eyes open for 'work persona lesson 2: underdressing for success', the perfect companion lesson for the opposing theme of lesson one. Lesson two will be available the next time that I can't think of anything relevant to write about, as was the case today.

Monday, December 27, 2004

back to the future IV

You may find this article a little offensive, even though I'm holding back on it. I'm the one writing it, and even I'm offended. Just be glad that I'm not including the paragraph about the Superman movies that I was itching to toss in... that was much, much worse.

Back to the Future is Back!

Universal Pictures has recently announced that they are working on Back to the Future IV, the fourth installment in the Back to the Future series. This announcement comes in the wake of a head-on battle with Parkinson's disease by the series' star, Michael J. Fox. A portion of the movie's profits will go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Universal Pictures is confident that the movie will be a box-office hit, just as the others were.

Fox announced his retirement from the hit television show Spin City in January of 2000, due to the quickly advancing effects of Parkinson's Disease. Thanks to the magic of director Robert Zemeckis (the academy award winning director of the Back to the Future trilogy), Fox will be back on the big screen, without any noticeable handicap. Fox was hesitant at first, but decided that the monetary benefit to his non-for-profit research foundation was worth the personal sacrifice. Fox has yet to make any public comment about the project, but it is confirmed that he has agreed to participate.

Zemeckis explains:

"Michael is still the phenomenal actor that he was twenty years ago, and even at his age, he still has that unique boyish charm of his. His only problem is that his condition is so advanced that he has trouble saying a long sentence without pausing, and he has some difficulty moving his limbs in a fluid, non-shaky way. He's too big a talent to be held back by something like that, and with the current technologies that we have available, there's no reason not to get him back to work."

"Most of the problem can be handled by a lot of patience and a modified script. If Mike has short lines, he won't have a problem, and that kind of dialog will fit right into the action-packed nature of the series. Strenuous physical action can easily be handled by a body-double, which is already a common practice in the industry. Of course, this movie has a high standard to follow, so we can't take too many shortcuts, but don't worry; everything's already taken care of!"

"What we're doing is quite simple, but also quite ingenious. For important scenes, where Mike's powerful acting needs to shine through, we're just going to shoot them as many times as we need to. Mike, himself, was worried at first, but now that he's seen what we can do, he's just as excited about the project as we are. After we have numerous takes of a scene, hundreds if necessary, we're going to pick the best facial expressions and body positioning of each take. It's like we're zooming in on one second of the movie, and choosing which take really reflects Mike's great talent. After we have our list of favorites, we'll simply cut and paste those frames into one continuous scene. Of course, his expressions and body positions will be somewhat different from second to second, but we have software that can smooth everything out. It's standard animation software that uses the frames as a guide and animates in-between them. That's right, Michael is going to be animated, and you won't notice a thing! If that's what it takes to get him back on the screen, that's what we're going to do! After the scene is put together, an actor who sounds like Mike will do a voice-over."

"Something similar was in the works a few years ago. We were actually going to do a live-action movie where a cartoon played Mike's role; another actor just won't do. Mike was going to do the voice-overs for the cartoon, but the decline in his ability to speak came too soon. Now, we have the best of both worlds, we will still have a cartoon in the movie, but that cartoon will actually be Mike! I hope that fans are as excited about this as Mike and I are. The Back to the Future movies are very important to both of us."

Back to the Future IV is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2009. Filming is expected to take place steadily over the next three years, and the animation should be completed in the spring, just before the movie's release. To read more about Fox and his uphill battle, please visit:

Sunday, December 26, 2004

the outsider at Christmas

I intended to write something last night, but ended up using all of my creative energy trying to keep myself entertained in spite of a very boring day. I'm still recovering, but believe it or not, what I want to write about today is actually a positive experience that I had yesterday. This took place before the heavy boredom kicked in. Naturally, anything positive that I have to say will probably have a pretty hefty leading of negative material.

I'm not big on family gatherings. It's hard to pinpoint what exactly bothers me about them so much, but I think that's the case because there are ever so many things on the list. The way I see it is being trapped in a house, filled with a ton of people who assume they 'get' you because they changed your diapers, all the while, they're trying to parent you from a point of view of pure idiocy that actually requires you to come in and parent them in response. In family members, I often see a few of the good things that I like about myself, a great deal of the negative things that I work to remove (or removed years ago), and even worse, a great deal of things that I can't relate to at all, but am supposed to because there's a level of shared DNA.

My Mom's side of the family basically stems from thoughtless Catholicism, thoughtless tradition of how to live life, thoughtless activity, thoughtless conversation, and thoughtlessness. There aren't too many original or tangible ideas floating around through that genepool, and they like it that way. "That's the way things are supposed to be." These guys are big on family, although they don't make any effort to bring the family together. Everyone clearly has the same interests and motives in life, so what's to consider? "Rand, come up for dinner sometime." "To do what?" "We can eat and play cards." I don't want to be reminded that the only thing passing through your mind is, "Regis was good, but Meridith is good too." It disgusts me to think that we're related when I'm seeking to understand everything I can about life, while you're trying your damnedest to float over its surface on a little, fluffy, white cloud.

Everything's a family conspiracy with them, and the standard for right and wrong is whatever their ancestors decided. They never engage eachother in direct conversation. If they want to know how things are going for you with your new house, they'll ask anyone but you. Conversation with you is either about finding out what's going on with someone else or finding out what the weather's like today where you live (this is a hot topic for some reason). Even when they find out the big news about your new house, the only thing that passes through their mind is "Hmm, that's good." or "Hmm, that's bad." and of course, there's the quick follow up of "Hmm, when is 'Millionaire' on tonight?" If something's 'bad', they might hold it against you, but won't tell you that they're mad... you have to find out indirectly. One of my cousins did something 'bad' a few years ago, and it caused a subgrouping of them to push against eachother, while trying to pull back in at the same time. Do you have any idea how long I've been trying to get pushed away? When's my turn?... do it once, and I'll make sure it's a clean break.

Usually Christmas goes like this: I'm watching everyone amuse themselves with all of the pretty colors in the room and what the weather was like where and when. Eventually, I get frustrated and start acting like an asshole... a funny asshole, but a very annoying one. My brother does the same thing, and when we're stuck in situations like this together, we feed off eachother... his wife is a balancing factor, but she'll come around to our side soon enough. For example, a couple Christmases ago, my brother and I were taking turns standing in front of our grandfather, flexing our ass cheeks... 'left, then right, then left, then...'. My grandfather was sitting in a chair (with an ass constantly in his face), and was too old to push the ass away or to escape. He was pretty much stuck there, having to pretend to find it funny to save face. "Rand!... that's horrible!" Yes, but I like to think that it's also funny.

Here's the problem with me being an asshole or 'bad' in any way around them... it becomes an issue for debate. "Why would Rand want to be an asshole? Why would Rand not want to do nice things? What can we do to make Rand do nice things? Do you think that it's raining right now in Nebraska?" So as I'm trying to distance myself from them (and to blow off steam in creative and annoying ways), they're seeing my actions as a reflection of theirs. The only course of action in such a case is to resort to poorly thought out, counter-productive, confrontation. You know... the peaceful approach (looking like you're upset so that the other person might notice, care, and ask what's wrong), the frontal assault (a lecture on your life without having even asked about your life), the flank attack (asking another family member to reinforce your statement to the person, as if it was a coincidental same topic), or the ever effective 'pulling of rank':

Grandma walks into the room as others are halfway through a movie.
Grandma: "Oh! You're watching this movie?!"
Me: "Yeah."
Grandma: "This is the one with that sex scene!"
Me: "Yeah. That part's over, and that was just a ten second scene with no visible nudity. Sit down... you can probably handle the rest of it."
Grandma: "I'm too disgusted to even look at that actor's face!"
Me: "Right on. I'm pretty sure you won't see it if you go back to the other room."

I should probably translate this conversation:
Grandma walks into the room as others are halfway though a movie.
Grandma: "Why's this on?... I want to watch Millionaire!"
Me: "You don't learn anything from watching that show... you just like the light effects and the repetitive music. There's nothing impressive about seeing how many questions others can answer when it's staring you in the face that you'd be lucky to win your $300 on that show."
Grandma: "That point was entirely lost on me. Hey, this is that movie with the sex scene!... Sex is 'bad'!"
Me: "I know, and this movie doesn't have nearly enough sex in it. Pretty interesting story though. Why don't you sit down and shut the fuck up?"
Grandma: "Bad, I said! BAD!!!"
Me: "Somebody's cranky... anyone here know how to change an adult's diaper?"

I wasn't obligated to head out for Christmas with them this year, because I moved to another state (yet again), and am still getting established here. Instead, I went to my Dad's brother's, in upstate New York. They're Jewish, but celebrate Christmas. Everyone that I know who's Jewish can't stand to have that label thrown around without the explanation 'I'm Jewish by culture... the religion isn't so important to me'. My uncle and family wear this disclaimer just as much as anyone else I know... I gotta tell you.. it was pretty nice being around Jews who celebrate Christmas, completely discarding all of the thoughtless religion so that we could get to the real meat of the holiday.

(Meanwhile, somewhere on the western coast of the United States): "Lord, I want to thank you for this wonderful meal and all of the rain in Nebraska."

Things were chill. My two cousins on my dad's side were bouncing around like 6-year-olds because we were about to open presents; one's 27 and the other's 31. They weren't concerned about setting a stuffy example for others so that they can emulate their age... they enjoy this shit... no strings attached. They didn't give me books on becoming a better Christian (even though I'm not a Christian)... they gave me shit that they thought I'd enjoy. They didn't wake my ass up at 8:30 AM because I had to get dressed for church... they got my ass up because they couldn't wait to open their presents.

Of course, it's tradition for me to be an asshole around family... we covered that already. The great thing here was that they knew me enough to expect it and laugh along with me, but were strangers enough to not take it personally.
"Aunt Joan... do you have hair gel?"
"Yeah, in the top bathroom drawer closest to the door."
"All I'm seeing are tampons and douche kits."
This didn't mean that they failed humanity in their raising of me... this was just Rand's clever and obnoxious wit touching the minds and hearts of those around him. All should be so lucky.

Anyway, this is just an observation. No real Christmas family warmth here, but for once, no guilt for the lack of it. Things just were what they were, and we were all able to enjoy it. Strangers showed up later, and they were old... that killed it of course, but it was interesting to experience while it lasted.

Friday, December 24, 2004

poetry submission

I just found this poem amidst my apartment's post-move rubble. I tried and failed to write a decent poem yesterday at lunch, and it reminded me that this was the last one that I wrote that was worth a damn. I wrote this a couple months ago. The theme matches the current title of the blog (go figure... it's a theme for me right now)... in the case that you're reading this in the future and that's no longer the case, it means that I changed the blog's title.... yes, I have the great power to do that.

This poem was written to be a contextual bridge between a couple songs in the middle of my fourth album... to bring ease to a thematic transition. If you check out my musical website right now, you'll find the information to be terribly outdated... hopefully if you're reading this in the future, that comment will be outdated as well. My poems don't have titles. If you want to call it something, call it 'second poem appearing in the album 'From the Center' which is meant to serve as a contextual bridge between two songs to bring ease to a thematic transition'.
break into me

so many questions and possibilities
so many avenues leading to unknown destinations
how can one decide when even the goal is left to chance?
how can one be true to himself when truth is the illusion
these things separate and bind
and I am held together by a loose sense of expectation
weaving into each direction
and sending back to the center
pattern of chaos, sanctioned oblivion,
-choice and destiny
we say the heart knows
and can somehow find its way
such hopeful reasoning seeks to soothe the mind
but hope is a counter to a deeper hopelessness
for the heart knows that there is no way to be found
each day's attempt to snatch up life's hidden purpose
leaves these hands scarred and worn
but always empty

congratulations are in order!

My brother and his wife have decided to have a baby! You're the first to hear this... even they don't know it yet. Although they've only been married for six months or so, my brother can be quoted to say, "God, it feels like a lifetime already." That means it's the perfect time to move on to the next level... what better way to rekindle a dying love than to bring into the picture a little bundle of financial burden! "Oh, we'll love him... he won't be a burden." Even better!

He will be a boy and his name will be Hairold. If it pops out a girl, they're going to 'scrap it and try again'... they really want a boy, and they really want to name him Hairold. Little Hairy is going to be the life of any party, and quite the ladykiller. "Damnit, I'm related to Rand's brother and/or Rand's sister-in-law.... I won't be able to partake of the sexual treasure that will be Hairy." Says who?... If you were truly a relative, you'd already know that 'it's all good, babe.' I'm going to be the best uncle in the world, teaching little Hairy everything he needs to know about the true meaning of life and the uncle Randy policy of 'it's all good, kid.... I can keep a secret if you can.'

For those of you who know my brother and/or my sister-in-law, feel free to congratulate them immediately. What better way to brighten up the holidays than by spreading this unfounded rumor! If you really want to play your cards right, congratulate the soon-to-be grandparents first.... Hairy will be the first grandchild for all four of them... who would have thought they'd live to see the day?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

happy anniversary

Happy anniversary, everyone. That's right, this blog has now been up for an entire week. Guess what I accomplished at work in a week's time?... Yip, you're reading it right now!

I'll get my third bi-weekly paycheck today. I asked my supervisor yesterday what the story was with getting some programming software on my computer; he said that the forms are sitting on a few different people's desks right now. He told me not to worry... everything here takes forever, and the only thing that he's ever seen them do fast was hire me. I don't mind this... that's the rash decision that gets me paid.

Basically, it went like this:
"Randall, I'm a recruiter. I saw your resume online, and I love you. Let's meet."
"Randall, I'm still a recruiter. Now that I've met you, I still love you. Meet my boss."
"Randall, I'm a higher-level recruiter. I love you. Go meet a VP of the company we're trying to place you in."
"Randall, I'm a VP. I love you. Go meet the guy under me."
"Randall, I'm an assistant VP. I love you. Go meet your potential boss and the other coder who will be your supervisor."
"Randall, I'm your future boss. And I'm the other coder, who will be your supervisor! (In unison) We love you. Go meet the VP of Human Resources."
"Randall, I'm the VP of Human Resources. I love you. You're hired. Start on Monday... we need you doing nothing NOW!"

I did actually get to do a pretty cool program in Access a few weeks ago... I spent a little over a week on that one (I had to learn Access as I programmed). Everyone who saw it was impressed, but they've now decided that fifty people or so will be using it, and they don't want to license Access for fifty computers. The project has to be moved over to Visual Studio .NET, but guess what isn't on my computer. The other coder is now rewriting the whole thing in .NET because we can't wait for me to get my software installed. The one thing that I actually accomplished here so far is decomposing quickly.

Funny. As I was typing this, my supervisor gave me my paycheck... what better way to illustrate getting paid for doing nothing than getting handed a paycheck while typing this nonsense. I'm probably paid way more than the majority of the people around me too... and they've made a career of this, although they're just doing data entry really.

*Knock, knock.*
"Randall, I'm the VP who hired you. So nice to see you. Come in, sit down."
"Hey, Bob. Listen, I just wanted to discuss the software licensing situation."
"Ahh, right. I think I have the forms right around here somewhere...."
I show him my paycheck. "You see that number right there?"
"Ahh yes, that's a number."
"That's what you just paid me for two weeks of doing nothing. That's more than it would cost to license me for the software that I need to do my job."
"Interesting... I'll tell you what... There's a business meeting that I have to be at in about an hour, filled with a bunch of people, all of whom could fire you. Why don't you give me a couple hours to butter them up, and you show up and explain the situation to them. Here, take this wad of cash that could easily be applied toward giving you the software you need to actually work, and go get yourself a few drinks at the pricey bar across the street."
"Why not. See you there."
"By the way, Randall, I really like the way you're thinking... just the kind of thing we need around here. I love you."

*Knock, knock.*
Nobody: "Randall, I'm some random person opening the door that leads to the important business meeting. Ignore me as you come in."
VP: "Randall, I'm the VP who hired you and loves you, this at the head of the table, is someone appointed to make big decisions."
Big Decision Maker: "Randall, I'm someone appointed to make big decisions. What's troubling you, son?"
Me: "I need programming software on my computer to actually have the ability to program."
Big Decision Maker: "Blunt and to the point. I like that! You have potential and I therefore love you. How's the job going so far?"
Me: "I'm surfing the web and writing a blog that nobody reads."
Big Decision Maker: "Excellent. That's just the kind of thinking we need around here. Are you here because we're not paying you enough?"
Me: "I'm here because I haven't been given the ability to work."
Big Decision Maker: "Hmm. Mathematician, how much are we paying Randall a year?"
Mathematician: "Well, after adding in benefit expenses to the company, taxes, deskspace, etc., the number comes to *****.**"
Big Decision Maker: "Well, that's pushing the envelope, isn't it. Can we afford to get him the software he needs, or should we just keep him on and revisit this next year?"
Mathematician: "It's a close call, sir."
Company Pope: "I foresee that the boy will...."
Big Decision Maker: "Pope's right! You're hired!"
Me: "I already work here... well, technically."
Big Decision Maker: "We're ahead of schedule then! Now that that's covered, is there anything else that you need, son?"
Me: "I feel that I could do nothing just as efficiently if you put a TV on my desk."
Big Decision Maker: "That's just the kind of thinking we need around here! I love you! Mathematician, how much would it cost for a nice entertainment center?"
Mathematician: "Well, if you're going to do that, you might as well instead just get him the licenc..."
Big Decision Maker: "Perfect!"
Company Pope: "I foresee that if this comes to be, the boy will..."
Big Decision Maker: "Pope's right! VP that hired Randall, great work!... I love him! Do the TV thing."
Me: "If you ship the TV to my apartment, I can do nothing from home."
Big Decision Maker: "You're blowing my mind, boy! Get out of here before you take over my job, hahaha! Get, get... I love you!"

Well, that's one hour down. Now I have to think of something to occupy me for six more.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

a hero in Manhattan

It was approximately 5:30 AM when the phone rang. It was probably one of his friends, but Mike picked it up anyway... one of these days, it would be something important, and there was no way that he was going to ignore the call when that possibility exists. His wife was mumbling, in a half-asleep incoherent manner, something about burning the phone in the morning. Without opening his eyes, his hand searched for the phone. He finally found it and put the receiver to his ear.

"Uhh huh."

Suddenly alert, Mike threw the covers off of himself and sat up. He was already in his uniform; this is a man prepared for the worst, and today, his preparedness was going to pay off. He slid his feet into his boots and ran out of the room. His wife annoyedly exhaled a word sounding like "gahh" as she violently wiped the dirt, which had originated from Mike's work clothes, off of his side of the bed. "I have to do everything around here," she muttered as she hung up the phone receiver that her loving husband had left hanging from the table as he rushed out to do his all important work.

There was no time for brushing his teeth, but out of habit, he found himself standing in front of the bathroom sink. He looked into the mirror, seeing his reflective orange vest proudly glistening under the white light of an exposed lightbulb that his eyes were still adjusting to. He took a deep breath and gave himself the pep talk he needed. "This is it, Mike. This is it."

Mike was franticly searching the closet by the front door for his holster. His wife stumbled out and asked sarcastically, "So what's the big emergency?"
Mike's head was halfway in the closet when he responded, "There are cars in midtown honking outside Rand's window, and it's keeping him from being able to sleep."
She rolled her eyes and asked, "Rand who?" She looked down and started searching the pockets of her bathrobe, failing to find a cigarette. "Damn robe."
Mike finally found the holster he was looking for, but it had been in the closet for years. The leather looked old and dusty, but this thing was specifically designed for emergencies such as this. "Rand Gray, honey. Rand Gray."
Her demeanor changed instantly and her hands froze in place. Suddenly she understood the importance of her husband's work. She looked directly at her husband for the first time in years and said, "Rand Gray?! Go, honey, just go!"
Mike was hurriedly trying to dust off the holster as he said, "But I.."
His wife came close, touched his face gently, and waited for his eyes to meet hers. "Mike, just go."
Mike's heart warmed at the thought of someone finally believing in him. He smiled at her briefly and proudly before dropping the holster and turning to his jackhammer. Instinctually, he bent at the knees as he lifted it from its dusty spot on the floor, and quickly made for the door.

The subway just wouldn't go fast enough. People were starting to crowd in to head to work... as if this was just a normal day. Mike didn't want to cause a panic, so he tried to conceal his urgency as he checked his watch every two to five seconds. He got a few dirty looks as people in suits brushed up against his dirty construction clothes, but Mike just silently chuckled at the pettiness of their concerns. These people just had no idea what was happening.

Mike finally emerged from the subway tunnel in midtown Manhattan. It was already 6:13 AM; Rand would have to get up for work at 8:00, and if he didn't get at least another hour and a half of sleep, then... well, let's not even think about that. The sidewalk was already swarming with Manhattan's elite as they herded themselves to their skyscrapers. If Mike was wearing his holster, he'd have free hands to push his way though the crowd, but instead, both hands were occupied with the jackhammer. There wasn't any time for this.

Mike cried out with all his strength, "Rand Gray isn't sleeping, and I'm trying to help! Let me through!!!" A sudden hush fell over the streets of New York, and the red sea of suits parted. Mike's hope was rekindled as he freely ran through the crowd, and the crowd started chanting as one, "Go, go, go."

Suddenly, time stops. We hear a familiar 'click', the image turns grey, and a newspaper spins to the surface of our television screen with the title, 'City Bands Together to Support Local Hero'. A thirteen-year-old boy's hand reaches in and angrily snatches up the paper.

"This story sucks! He only helped a guy who couldn't sleep. He's no damn hero."
"Billy, your language!" cried Billy's mother as she prepared breakfast.
"Give me that." Billy's father ripped the paper from his son's hands and scanned the article. "Son, the man that couldn't sleep was Rand Gray."
The defiance fell from Billy's face as his jaw dropped. His mother fainted, hitting her head on the counter on the way down. Billy's father wanted to check on her, but couldn't seem to pry his eyes from the article.

Mike was finally outside Rand's apartment. He had run a long way with a large object, but he couldn't feel any pain - the body can do some amazing things when the situation demands it. It was 6:24, and he wasn't there a moment too soon. Without hesitation, he thrust his jackhammer into the ground and began his work. "Don't you worry, Mr. Gray, I'll drown out the honking so you can sleep!" Mike knew that his voice was being drowned out as well, but the satisfaction of having saved the day got the better of him.

I was just laying there when the sound poured in. "Jesus Christ, now they're jackhammering?" I groaned to myself as I wondered if shoving two earplugs in each ear would do too much damage.

The doctor checked on the woman's pulse, flipped through some charts on a clipboard, and sighed. He noticed Billy watching him, and reminded himself to smile at the boy. "Everything's going to be fine, Son," he said while patting him on the head, then quickly skittered out the door.

Billy's father was sitting on a chair next to his unconscious wife, intently reading that same newspaper article. Billy looked at his father in disgust and said, "I hate you, Dad." His father slowly lifted his head toward Billy, and two seconds later, his eyes followed. He smiled vacantly at his son and said, "Hmm?"

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

on fact and meaning

I place huge emphasis on the meaning of things, because my natural inclination is to gloss over meaning completely. My natural state is to be very externally focused - functional, present, and mechanical, but the more productive and mundane I am, the more life passes right before my eyes beyond my perception... The more externally alert I am, the more I feel like I'm sleepwalking.

When I was three or four years old, I remember first realizing how out of it I was in my natural state. I was great at putting names to colors and shapes... impressive to any humble pre-school teacher, but it was like I had a specific memory of facts, yet couldn't put the pieces together. When the bell rang, everyone else started running for the door... this caught me by surprise every time... it took me weeks to even see a pattern. I experienced everything for the first time everyday. I was in pre-school for at least two years... I could have sworn it was two weeks. One year was spent in one building, one was spent in one across from it; I had no idea that these buildings were even on the same lot until years later. They actually led to the same playground, but because they came from different directions, I never made the connection. When I finally started kindergarten, tons of my old friends from pre-school ran up to me, calling me by name and hugging me... only one of them could I recall having even seen before, and I wasn't aware that we had actually met. There must have been lithium in my applesauce or something.

That little weirdo is the Rand that people know and love... that's the one who gets things done and is your best friend. He's the one with a big heart, no dark side, and is the perfect man for any job. That guy's got potential.

Ironically, the Rand who actually feels awake and has the ability to connect the dots is the one who appears to be asleep externally. When I lived in New Orleans, I first learned to return to being externally productive after years of productive internal daydreaming. They loved me at work, but to make up for all the sleepwalking, I had to do some hardcore thinking on my breaks and my off-time. For a while, I was designing the formulas for a closed-box, complex artificial intelligence system that was made to illustrate my theories on how psychological decisions are made by humans. What other people saw was some nutcase at a table by himself in a coffeehouse staring mindlessly at the coffee cup that was sitting on the table before him, occasionally scribbling on a piece of paper. My cellist used to catch me in this state at times, and would snap me out of it with a bit of friendly teasing, supplying her narration for what she thought was going through my mind, "Hello, coffee cup."

In the past, if I was with you, my mind was not. This either meant that nearly all focus was being put on the external, and I couldn't touch the meaning of anything, or nearly all focus was placed inward, and I was unaware of anything that was happening around me. This wasn't the case when you were actually engaging all of my senses through a deep conversation that actually made me draw on my internal resources, but such conversations were hard to come by. When I reach such a state of 'connection', I'm probably as normal and human as is possible for me. Meaning and fact become connected, and I'm able to use the two in an interactive manner. Even when I was in such a state, I could be shocked out of it by being engaged too aggressively or passively. I was usually forced to be in one mode or the other.

Obviously, the natural inclination here is to build two distinct worlds that have little correlation. Because my perceptions of facts and meanings can potentially develop independently, there's no necessarily predictable course for either of them. Even if I grow steadily in both worlds, if my internal one becomes dominant, then when I'm in a state of connection, abstract meanings are likely to overpower my sense of factual reality. If my external world becomes dominant, I'll be confused and overwhelmed when in a state of connection. If either becomes dominant, even when in a state of connection, it will be almost as if I'm still fully in the one.

The coherence of this post is illustrative of the fact that I've learned to bridge the two worlds to some degree. I'm not always entirely in one or the other anymore, and have a certain level of control over that 'shift', as long as my anxiety is in check. I have in the past managed to purposefully trance out completely while performing menial tasks for ten to fifteen minutes at a time, and am able to regularly retreat completely into my mind to deal with imaginative and complex thoughts and introspection. I notice myself shifting slightly to different preponderances of each based on what I'm attempting to accomplish, or what's drawing my attention. I'm never completely static, but I think that's normal. My ability to direct this shift doesn't in any way guarantee that my factual world and my meaningful world line up, for there's no way to test this... instead of being one entity, they could very easily be two strangers shaking hands, but such is life.

I need to deeply understand anyone that I'm close to, and because of this, I place little value in casual relationships. I'm not content to just be your friend and 'enjoy the ride'... in order to truly be present, I need to provide meaning to my facts and facts to my meanings about you. Because this is done in terms of my prior understanding, what I perceive of you is entirely subjective... we're all victims to this fact, but in my case, if my perceptions of reality are wildly off, my concept of you will be as well. If you're going to truly be significant to my life, I need an image of you that I can implant into both of my distinct worlds. That way, when I do shift over to one or the other, whether intentionally, or because anxiety overwhelms my control over it, I still have a sense of you that can exist without a connective perspective.

If I'm walking through a crowded area, my tendency is to be overwhelmed by too much factual information... bits and pieces of conversations as people walk by, trying to navigate my course while predicting who's going to step which way, etc.... These are normal things that many are able to handle on a very thoughtless and instinctual level, but for me, it requires a constant conscious communication between fact and meaning, requiring a great deal of multitasking, and therefore causes anxiety. My natural tendency is to sleepwalk in response, but once I do this, I'm very likely to feel disoriented and forget where I'm going... if I'm following another's lead, this isn't a problem. If I instead choose to sense the meaning of the event (because I'm aiming my focus at the event, I'm still connecting to the external to some degree), I can sense a singularity to the meaning of the experience as a whole, which is suitable for leveling my anxiety... I am however probably going to run into a few people due to my slowed reaction speed. In neither of these states am I truly perceiving or participating with reality on an objective level.

In all of us, fact and meaning are completely disjoined in this manner. When one experiences something with his physical senses, he applies an imaginative meaning to it to make sense of it... the only difference with me is that I don't naturally gravitate toward an equilibrium between them. Creative action is done in the opposite order; a meaning is established, and something tangible is built to match. Because my comprehension of reality must be gained through more deliberate action than those who were able to see the connection between the bell and recess on a very simple and instinctual level, it's likely to assume that many of the cultural 'givens' will be lost in the process, but my insights may be of value for their unusual quality.

As much as I enjoy being human and present, I favor my internal world. This is where I find everything that fuels my art, and is my refuge to make sense of a universe that I know very little about. If I have the opportunity to put more emphasis on understanding the meaning of things, I'm able to take external stimulus in stride and truly make sense of everything that that comes my way... however, I won't be aware of everything that comes my way. Naturally, I realize the dangers of allowing my internal world to become dominant, but this is something that I'm conscious of and can direct strategically. I've spent seasons experiencing each world's dominance in the past.

I've been so preoccupied with the mundane over these last few months that I've been living far more in the world of fact than the world of meaning. I haven't been as bad as I was when I was very young, but if I neglect the development of my internal world, I will eventually regain that sense of disorientation. It's quite vital that I find the time to make myself wake up very soon.

Monday, December 20, 2004

apathy you can count on

We all like to think that we don't give a damn about our fellow man, but one never knows for sure until his disinterest is truly put to the test. The following is a heroing tale of a 27-year-old boy becoming a man through the direst of circumstances. All that's said here is entirely true, and any historical inaccuracies stem solely from a faulty memory. Don't laugh, this really happened.

Three weeks ago, I was in the car with my brother. He was driving (everyone who knows my driving history is happy to take the wheel); we were on the highway and it was pouring. We were cautiously heading down the far-left lane, trailing the car in front of us with just enough room for my brother to be comfortable, and for me to still be gripping my seat. Naturally, the car in front of us hit a puddle and lost control. The car started swerving around and slamed into the median, bouncing back into position in the left lane, but it was still out of control.

Now, it's entirely normal to worry about the safety of your car first, and then be concerned for the guy in front of you, but I like to think that I'm better than that, and guess what... I am. You see, I have a prior experience to rely on... I've faced adversity and have come through it without my pulse being elevated. I've been in the trenches while sipping my tea. I've been challenged, trodden on, and cast down, and you know what? I'm still standing. The guy in the car in front of us however, is probably unable to stand today.

I'm not sure what was going through my brother's mind, but I remember specifically what was going through mine (I made a point to laugh about it later): "What an idiot" and "I hope this asshole shoots across the freeway to the right, so he doesn't take us with him". This guy was swerving all over the place, and I had no idea where he was going to land. I was just sitting there calmly, rooting for the ideal outcome, thinking, "Shoot over, shoot over." Finally he shot over, and slammed into a ditch on the right side of the road; I was actually impressed... that thing caught his ass like a catcher's mitt catching a baseball. Good work, New Jersey. It wasn't the cleanest landing, but it efficiently kept the scrap metal off the road. We kept going... we had somewhere to be.

I know you're impressed. It's rare to see one's apathy bleed over into emergencies, but like I said, I have a prior experience to give me the confidence I need. This shit was just a day in the life... here's the real story:

The year was 2004, and it was January. I was working at the corporate office of the largest guitar and piano manufacturer in the world, although 'largest' refers to quantity, not quality. It was time for the Winter NAMM show, the biggest musical industry trade show of the year. For those of you who are involved in industries that aren't a joke, I'll be more descriptive. This event filled the entire Anaheim Convention Center with hack instruments and tens of thousands of well... hacks. All of the latest and greatest products were on display, consisting of Stratocaster knock-offs in different colors, manufactured in different countries. We had our Indonesian garbage proudly hanging in our 60' by 60' walkthrough display, and were also showing off our new line of Chinese band instruments... a tenth the cost of production!

I volunteered to work this thing as part of a 'moving-up' strategy in my company, but I'm not big on people, much less crowds. This event lasted four days, and on the third, we had Paul Stanley (the lead singer of KISS for those of you who have a life) at our booth, signing shit for his fans. I do my best to ignore the stupidity of other humans, but it's terribly difficult to do so when some guy in his 40's is explaining the story of how he finally understood himself when he first saw Paul Stanley (or someone else in KISS.. I don't know) spit fire on stage. You don't want to know how many such people are out there, and I'm still trying to forget that number myself.

Needless to say, by the end of this convention, my resolve was weakened. I was tired, the weekend that I would normally use to recoup from just being around thirty people was sacrificed to instead be around thousands, and I not only had to meet KISS fans, but I had to see Paul Stanley in the flesh (yes, in full makeup). I had spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting in the wilderness, and now at the end of it, my apathy was to be tested. Jesus knew his temptation was coming, I didn't; does this make me better than Jesus?... You decide.

The last night of the convention had just ended, and only the industry people were allowed to remain so that they could pack their stuff up. There was a nice company dinner with free drinks starting in about 40 minutes, but I was helping some chick find her driver's license. She was an invite of one of our sponsored artists, and I was friends with the guy who handled artist relations. Being apathetic toward others can't always be visible... not when you're trying to force your way up the company ladder. This chick was an idiot, but it would only take a phone call.

I'm on the phone with Barbara, the executive secretary, who's at our piano booth upstairs. The phone I'm using is on a table that I'm sitting at, positioned at the far corner of our claimed area. I'm therefore right in front of an intersection between two walkways.
Me: "Hey Barbara, this is Rand."
Barbara: "Hey Rand, is there something you need? I'm about to head out to the dinner; I have to get things set up."
Me: "I won't keep you long. I was just wondering if anyone found a driver's license."
A middle-aged man, pulling an empty cart, rounds the corner and falls flat on his face right in front of my desk. He didn't trip, he passed out.
Barbara: "Oh, I think I do have one, hang on a sec."
Me: "Okay, thanks."
About fifteen seconds pass by.
Barbara: "Rand?"
Me: "Yeah."
Barbara: "Is her name -insert whatever the hell that chick's name was here-?"
Me: "That's it, I'll send her up. Listen, I gotta go... some guy just died in front of me."
Barbara: "Okay, I'll see you at the dinner."

It takes about ten or so seconds to give 'I can't find my driver's license' girl directions to the booth upstairs (by the way, how the fuck do you lose a driver's license?). Now, this guy's been out for at least thirty seconds so far, and he's not moving at all. I step out into the walkway so that I can get a better view, and put my hands in my pockets. At this point, I'm just as surprised as you are that nobody's doing anything... this guy might be dying, and it's possible that he could be saved. I guess nobody but me has noticed yet.... either that or nobody who's noticed actually cares. He's starting to turn blue.

There were three types of badges for the convention, and everyone was required to have a badge. One was for industry people, one was for musicians, and the final one, the dreaded yellow badge, was for visitors. If you had a yellow badge, it means that you were irrelevant to the business, but your dad's cousin worked for Fender. Since your dad's cousin had no friends (a prerequisite for working for Fender), you managed to convince him to give you one of his slots on the guest list. I was joking a few days later about not being concerned about the corpse in front of me because it was wearing a yellow badge; this wasn't true... I just wasn't concerned about the corpse in front of me. Even so, the joke did well.

There are people all over, but it takes a while for anyone to notice our blue friend. I'm not sure if they notice him directly or if they wonder what the hell I'm staring at, but they finally realize what's going on and start yelling for help and begin trying to figure out what to do. You know, if they caught a glimpse of the blue guy only because they were wondering what that calm young man was staring at, it could be said that I was instrumental in saving his life... I try not to think of it that way, but it makes sense....

These people are beating the shit out of this deadish guy. One person's blowing as hard as she can into his mouth, while some man is doing CPR on his stomach. Dr. CPR's hands are disappearing into the blue man's gut about 4-5 inches deep; it's a good thing that guy's dead... I'd imagine that would hurt. A co-worker, Tony (the artist relations guy), comes over.
Tony: "What's going on?"
Me: "Oh, this guy's dying or something."
Tony: "Ahh."

I was really proud of Tony's ability to stay calm and disinterested at the time, but later, when we went over the details, I gained a whole new respect for the guy. It turns out that Tony knows CPR, but he decided not to help out because, "CPR doesn't save lives, it prolongs death." You humanitarians can't really get too mad at the guy though, these other morons clearly had the situation under control.

It's been a while, and the purple guy still isn't breathing. I'm waiting for his color to finally hit 'deathly white' so we can call it a day. This Mr. Purple is popular as shit at this point... everyone's coming over, running as fast as they can to get help, freaking out, and trying to help Dr. CPR get an extra inch or two deeper into the guy's gut. I'm sure he would be touched at the spectacle... if he was able to regain consciousness, that is. Another co-worker, Adam, comes over.
Adam: "Did some guy die or something?"
Me: "Almost... there's an army working on him now, so everything's cool. I think he started breathing again."
Some Desperate Lady: *franticly* "No, no! He's not breathing!!!"
Me: *shrugging slightly* "Oh, my bad."

I want to explain something.... I don't do drugs. This is the music industry. I'm therefore probably one of the few people there who didn't smoke pot within the last hour, and yet I'm the calm one. You see, drugs are a crutch... your apathy comes from a pipe... mine comes from within. This was nearly a year ago, and I can still see this lady's face in my mind. I remember thinking, "Jesus Lady, chill the fuck out."

This was fun for a while, but now it's getting old. This whole death or near-death act that this guy's putting on is taking way too long. He's definitely pushing up on his six minutes... although I guess I'm the only one who knows that it's been that long. If they do revive the guy, he'll probably be brain-dead, but they won't be able to verify that until later. The army will go home to celebrate a triumphant victory while the family Purple decides whether or not to pull the plug on daddy. I'm wondering how much traffic I'm going to have to face getting over to this dinner... I want to get this thing finished so I can get some food and drinks in me.

I'm back in our area, laughing it up with some co-workers. We're making jokes about me having killed this guy. This is just the kind of stress relief I need to switch into 'company dinner' mode; what a long convention this has been. I have to go from being around people to being around people... the night's far from over. I'm going to be in a small room with the company's president, all the VPs, a bunch of moronic....... Oh yeah, the dead guy... I look over my shoulder, and there are paramedics with him now. He looks white, but it's hard to tell the difference between 'alive' white and 'dead' white... especially from this distance. They're wrapping him up nice and tight on a stretcher. They better be careful with this guy... I mean, you want to talk about fragile? Let's face it, pulling an empty cart nearly killed him (or did kill him, I'm not sure). I don't see them putting a sheet over his face or anything, but I don't think they keep sheets in their emergency packs. Even if he's breathing, it's extremely likely that Mr. White's brain has gone to a better place. I crack a few more jokes and head off to the dinner. This has been a very trying day for me.

It's only on the rare occasion that a man's strength is truly tested, in which his apathy is either confirmed or rebuked. It's only through such testing that he truly becomes a man. This was my ordeal and my triumph. I'd be kind to hope that you found your own strength through the recounting of my experience.... but I, of all people, can honestly say that I don't care one way or the other.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

what is an artist anyway?

The following message was sent to me this afternoon via AIM. I don't have the guy's email address- he sent this and bailed, leaving me no way to respond. It's been bugging me for hours... I hate rehearsing and re-rehearsing conversations, so I'm instead just going to post my reply publicly, and he can read it at his leisure. I'll be able to explain myself better without a back-and-forth anyways. I'm calling him Mr. X to minimize the offense.

Mr. X: Rand I read some of your short stories, and while they were well written and entertaining they were disturbing. Do you now love american capitalism to the point that you would forsake your artistic desire to express yourself for the desire to replace people with computer programs? When I came out to California and met you I thought you were an inspired artist, seeking his manifest destiny as a musician in New York, but from reading this I am alerted to the fact that you are a suboordinate to Corporate "one-up-manship." Tell me if I am wrong? I HOPE that I am. Let me know.

Let me give you some background. A troupe of Michiganites happened to be in Southern California last summer, and decided to come visit me (I was living in a suburb of L.A. at the time). The one I actually knew and one other came out for spiritual advice, Mr. X came out for artistic direction, and the fourth guy came out to talk about the colors he'd seen while doing shrooms and to be a general lag on any conversation in his presence. In the minds of the two people who I newly met who were actually worth a damn, I was sort of a wise sage/hermit who lived way up on top of the desolate mountain (at his mom's house), who they got to finally meet after treading through miles in the snow barefoot and taking a shortcut through the Mines of Moria. After months of travel, they finally arrived at the Elven palace (congratulate my mom on her decorations... she loves it), to meet the great and powerful artist and spiritualist they had been seeking. There was a wee bit of an expectation put on me in this visit. Anyway, I hung out with these guys for a couple days, each got exactly what he wanted (especially shroom boy), and they took off.

I like helping others with their personal and artistic progression. I'd even teach free classes if I had a wad of cash to sit on already, if, of course, I actually saw some growth in my students... I need a constant reminder that there's some hope for human individuals. That doesn't however mean that I feel that my role in life is to be a mentor. I'm an artist and a thinker... anything else that I become is by chance. I've had at least ten people in my lifetime who have openly and officially labeled me as their mentor for one reason or another, and I'm sure there have been numerous others who did so silently (I honestly never know that I'm seen that way until a person tells me). This guy's anger is actually a huge compliment... I wasn't aware that his image of me was so important. Let's keep this in perspective though... he's met me once. Once, that's it. He presumed to understand me in the context of encouraging his art, hearing a few of my songs, and reading a couple of my poems. Now he's presuming to understand me in the context of a few short postings.

Art is the expression of something that can't be communicated as well through other means. When you look at a painting or hear music that touches you, you feel something that has significance to you. Art should communicate one or more ideas and/or one or more emotions. The reason that people love art is because they have some difficulty reaching these thoughts and emotions without assistance... that's fine... artists like the fact that their work is needed. An art lover needs to experience, an artist needs to express.

Why do I like helping others reach their potential? I feel that I'm expressing something to them that they wouldn't otherwise be able to touch. Counseling is a form of artistic expression for me. I have to understand their thoughts, emotions, and desires and then proceed to create a conversation that will communicate the idea or emotion that they can't see for themselves for some reason. That is however only one of my favored forms of expression.

I've always been searching for a mentor, but have never found one. I have never idolized anyone, but have always put importance on my own perfection. I mean this quite literally- I have never idolized anyone; I didn't want to be my daddy, I didn't want to be my mommy, I didn't want to be the president, I didn't want to be anybody except for this slowly developing vague ideal of myself. Right now, you're thinking, "Okay, Rand didn't idolize anyone around him... he must have either instead idolized some superhero in a comic book or decided early on to be 'unlike' everyone else.".... please go back to the beginning of this paragraph and read the damn thing again... we're not going to get anywhere with this if you don't start listening.... my image of perfection is something that I've created in my own imagination with great time and effort.

I also don't want others to want to be like me... I want them to find something in themselves that they can unlock with their own effort. When I'm teaching someone, my aim is never to mold them into a replica of me, but to teach them how to mold themselves into what they already see for themselves. In a way, that's having them model themselves after me, but let's not get too clever here. For some reason, almost nobody seeks to develop themselves into their own ideal of themselves, and it takes an incredible amount of work to even communicate the idea to them. I only had two days to attempt this with Mr. X; two days wasn't enough.

So Mr. X saw one side of me briefly, and has probably been using that to some degree to aim his own development. He's a young man shooting to be a poet and director, and he's still formulating his artistic voice. He's working very hard at this, which I admire, but he still has a very idealized concept of what an artist actually is and does. This is the big problem with idealizing others... you think for some reason you have to follow in their footsteps and fit a mold... that's neither artistic nor expressive. The musician that writes music that sounds like his favorite band isn't expressing anything internal except for his love of that band. If you're trying to unlock the doors of the subconscious and really express something true, why wouldn't you expect something unique to emerge?

I've been extremely hesitant about playing my music out.
#1) I don't expect anyone to like it.
#2) I don't expect anyone to get it.
#3) If 1 and 2 don't work out, I have no other tools to communicate with the listener.
#4) I hate the path that's expected of me as a musician.

I'm supposed to listen to the radio, do my research and emulate the best bands, and come up with a unique and original twist on what's out there. That's not expression... that's creative marketing. I don't give a fuck what's on the radio, I have no intention of emulating anyone, and if those two things don't produce something original, I'll wait eleven months for my lease to run out, find an apartment that's further from the sidewalk, and jump. I'm writing for my fourth album now, and I've only recorded one professionally. I'm supposed to send my CD off to every major label I can find, let them rearrange everything, start a steady dose of heroine and sex with fifteen-year-olds, and then I'll finally be an artist. Why doesn't that feel like creative expression to me?

I create to express something personal, not to fulfill some cultural expectation. Of course, every potential listener is so in-tune with that expectation that they'll probably never even see me walking by. Even the indy scene follows a formula and has a pre-defined sound. If I don't ever figure this thing out and start playing, I won't ever have an audience, I therefore will have nobody to actually express my thoughts and emotions to, and in turn, my art will be inexpressive. Is this a problem? Yeah, a fucking big one.... I truly intend to get shit going here in New York, but I have no idea where to start. I won't start emulating the radio if I fail though... I'll just have to keep playing Russian Roulette with this thing until I finally lose the energy, accept defeat, and make the greatest personal expression of that defeat that's possible.

As you can see, I'm pretty big on this self-discovery/self-expression thing. The particular article that pissed Mr. X off was the one that I wrote a few days ago entitled 'Rand the Hatchet'. What Mr. X doesn't understand (and yes, I've tried to explain this before in terms of his poetry) is that not everything has to be a bio. "Hi, my name's Rand. I have brown hair and..." Stop right there. I don't want to read about your fucking hair every time, Rand... tell me all about it once and get it over with. I need a day job to survive, and to me, writing computer programs that challenge my abilities uses up the same artistic juices as writing a song... that feels productive to me. Would I prefer that to connecting with an audience on a more emotional and spiritual level, hell no.... but it counts for something, and with this one, I get paid. Does this mean that I won't pursue my music? Nope... my day job is to facilitate my music... if my day job becomes my life, I only have eleven months left of that before my lease runs out. If you throw me into a situation, and I have to go through it anyways, I'm going to want to rip its guts out to learn something about myself through it and to then express my findings somehow... it's then no longer a waste of my time. My job is, in fact, to improve on things so that we can get rid of people... am I for or against that?... I'm very much for that and very much against that. I have compassion for people and agression toward people, and I want to understand both of those emotions and communicate them vividly. "An artist doesn't do that, Rand." Oops.

it's beginning to look at lot like....

Well, it's that time of year again. Sleigh bells are ringing, well... it's probably a car alarm at 4 AM, but close enough. Birds are singing... somewhere to the south I believe.. birds act on the instincts that I suppress. And that snow that everyone else thinks is magical and 'pretty' is going to be keeping my ass in-doors, only fueling my already reclusive nature.

Christmas falls on a Saturday this year, and I'm therefore only taking Saturday and Sunday off. "You're not getting Friday off, Rand?" Well, officially, no. Perhaps they'll have mercy on me and send me home a couple hours early (since I have no software on my computer to really do anything anyway), but it's quite possible that I'll be there for a regular day. I'll receive an extra personal day to use at a later date, but I'm sure that everyone already has the 24th booked. I'm new... I'm not even going to try.

The plan is to catch an 8 PM bus to Woodstock, where my uncle lives. I have no idea what's in store for me, but I'm sure I'll have a horrible night, trying to fight my way onto a bus on Christmas Eve. I'm bringing a thin metal rod that can easily be hidden under the folds of my winter coat. You snooze, you lose, bitch... concussions included.

Things will be fine at my uncle's. I don't know these easterner relatives well enough for them to get on my case, and honestly, they're too oblivious to notice anything anyway. I was at their place for Thanksgiving when I was living in Boston, about 3 or 4 years ago, and they're still blaming me for their throwing out a spoon from their silver collection. If you bored me enough that I hid your silver eating utensils in the apple pie, and you manage to retrieve some of them as you cut into it.... for the love of god, have the sense to check that thing for any others before throwing away that one piece that nobody ended up eating.

Holidays aren't a big deal to me... I'm not into sentimentalism. Vacation time? sweet. Vacation time spent driving down the street at fifteen miles an hour looking at Christmas lights? let me the fuck out of the car. I actually jumped out of the car when I was in my early teens... fifteen miles an hour is faster than you'd think.

What is Christmas though... I mean, what is it really? "Oh, it's become so commercial." Your whole fucking religion has become commercial, Midwesterner. The self-proclaimed pope of the 21st century, that you voted for, is leading your good ol' boys into a holy war right now so that you can drive your ass to the mall to pick out that 'hot' new toy for Billybob. "No, I meant that Hallmark only has cards with wreaths on the front, instead of pictures of baby Jesus." Oh, you got me there. A thin metal rod emerges from my coat as she turns her back.

Everyone's complaining about the whole Santa vs. religion issue. I think that Santa is the perfect avatar of the Christian god. Santa is an old, immortal man, with a long white beard, who's omniscient and is keeping a fucking list of every good and bad thing you do. Just about the time that you realize that Santa doesn't exist, you're learning about the 'fear of God'. Santa's red robes become white, the fatass goes on a diet, and rather than worrying about presents vs. coal, you get to think about Heaven vs. 'weeping and gnashing of teeth'.
"Well, Billybob, it's really the same as the coal principle, but now the coal's red hot, and God is going to make sure that it's shoved deep into your ass. Deep, Billybob, very deep. I want you to think for a moment about what that would feel like."
Billybob's eyes water up a bit. "That would hurt, Daddy."
Billybob's growing up just fine.

My cousin grew up as a Billybob. Somehow, a small piece of Virginia ended up in Northern California, and of course, my aunt chose this place to settle and smother her only child with thoughtless religion. He's totally fucked. When I was in High School, on Christmas morning, my aunt was convincing me to go to church with the argument, "It's Christmas. God would want you to go, Rand." I didn't want to argue and harm dear Billybob's fragile mind anymore than she was doing, I mean afterall, it's not like he turned into an adult who realizes that his mother's sensibilities are senseless, but never developed the skills to make decisions for himself. Her argument had merit though. I'm sure that if I was eternal, there would be a two thousand year block in which my calander matched up perfectly with the rotation of one particular planet (out of how many planets in the universe).... and there would be that one day that was circled, because that day was special. Some people say that stars are actually big balls of fire out in the sky; I like to think that God's just getting into the spirit of the season, and put up his Christmas lights.

My poor brother's heading out to Christmas at my aunt's... I'm lucky, I get to work. This chick pipes Christmas music 24 hours a day through her house. When I recorded my first CD, my cousin was listening to it... ten minutes later my aunt's spidey senses caused her to get that shit out of the player. I suppose that there's a time and a place for new material to be played... Christmas is for the oldies. I fucking hate Christmas songs. It's bad enough to listen to poorly written songs, but what the fuck is going through your mind as you play the same poorly written songs in repetition. "No, Rand... Bing Crosby's singing this one." Oh, that's a huge step up. Does anyone even hear what this shit is saying? "Later on, we can build a snowman and pretend that he is Parson Brown. He'll say 'Are you married?' ..." Umm... what? Are you telling me that the 'hip' Christmas song is about listening to a snowman that you just built? I want to slit my wrists when I think of the 'Leave it to Beaver' era, and if Beaver saw his mom vacuuming with one hand while leaning over gracefully to hear the sage wisdom of the snowman on the porch... I guarantee you that Beaver would be up in his room shooting up heroine. I'd be the one who sold it to him... entirely out of mercy.

Christmas falls in the heart of the winter; the winter is a time of death. The longest night of the year this year takes place on 12/21... 4 days off from the supposed most joyous day of the year. This makes sense symbolically.... night and darkness are classic symbols of joy. Two hundred years ago, surviving the winter was a concern. Food and wood better be stored up, or it's your ass. If grandpa gets a cold, he's probably going to die, and there's no drug store next door to help him. In a few years, after the Saudis nuke us, the Christmas spirit will live on, even as the realities of nature come into play.
"You saw that coyote first, Sam... you should get to bring it home to feed your family."
"I'm sorry that this means that your son will probably die of starvation, Rand."
"Don't you worry, Neighbor, the good Lord will provide for us, and besides, Santa has never passed over the Gray cabin in a time of need."
"Ha, ha... Right you are, good neighbor! You have yourself a merry Christmas!"
"How could I not? 'Tis a joyous season!"

Saturday, December 18, 2004

an epic battle on the subway

The other day, I got into a very unusual altercation with a Black man on the subway. No, there was no direct confrontation, but let me explain...

This was my normal commute home from work. I pretty much take the 4-train from door to door. All I have to do is sit my ass in a seat and wait for the ride to be over; I thought that this particular ride was never going to end.

Now, I'm probably the least racist person I know; the school system in which I spent the first eighteen years of my life (inaccurately insinuating that I started attending school at birth) was surprisingly racially integrated. Race didn't matter, culture didn't matter, religion didn't matter. We were however intellectually segregated, and low and behold, I resent stupid people. You just can't win, can you, American culture? Anyway, this guy's Black - cool, I appreciate our similarities and differences. I don't think he had a problem with me either, but the battle about to ensue was beyond our control; and yes, it was racially motivated.

We're both sitting there, across from eachother, minding our own business, when we (and everyone else within a ten block radius) hear a Black man, at the other end of the subway car, yelling at the top of his lungs at a White man. We both look over, and when the guy across from me sees that this weirdo's Black too, he winces in pain. The battle has begun.

In America today, one bad apple can make a whole race look like shit. Yes, we're getting better, but there's still this underlying cultural grouping going on. Thanks to the guy down at the other side of the subway car, this poor guy across from me just got bitchslapped out of the blue. I'm sure that it was completely unintentional, but it happened. Like I said, this whole thing was out of our hands.

I'm not sure what those guys are fighting about, but the Black guy seems like a stereotype that Dave Chappel would act out. He's yelling at the White guy about the fact that he wasn't given a proper education - fair enough. The champion of the White race lifts his sword high and says in that classic, condescending, White pseudo-intellectual tone, "I went to college but threw my education away. I work in a museum now." Ouch!... that fucker nicked me with that fucking sword. Watch where you point that thing!

Okay, the Black guy across from me is still hurt worse than I am. I'm bleeding, but his bruises are starting to show. I feel bad for us both - more is sure to come.

The dark knight is getting more and more irate, but this is to be expected. He pulls out a pretty fucking hefty mallet and yells, "Come knock a nigga out!" Okay - the mallet missed my rival; this guy's strategically trying to provoke the white knight into seeming a racist or into resorting to physical violence. Excellent move.

I'm not worried though. Anyone with half a brain would jus.... OUCH!!! I got hit so hard that I could barely hear my champion above the ringing in my ears as he said, "Well, there are two definitions for the word 'nigger'. Are you referring to the slang definition or the KKK definition?" What the fuck is this guy doing? I swear to god I lost a finger or two from that blow.

This was an extremely long battle, but I'll just fast-forward and give you the highlights:

Dark knight: "I'm 42 and I look younger than you. I could take you out!"
White knight: "I'm twenty-six, and I have taken out people older than you."
Dark knight: "I'm gonna throw you off this train! I'm gonna throw your ass out!"
White knight: "I'm sitting right next to you; you don't have to yell. And please, slow your speech down, I am having difficulty understanding what you're saying."
Dark knight: "Come at me, I just wanna break your neck!"

We're both hurting pretty bad at this point, and barely have the strength to fight on. Unluckily for my opponent, the reinforcements come. That's right, when the train stops at Wall Street, picking up both Black and White troops, splendored in their shining armor and silk ties, the white knight realizes his folly and submits to his superiors, finally shutting the fuck up. The dark knight continues to defy orders as he repeats over and over, "Come at me, I just wanna break your neck!"

It was a close battle, but I won. My opponent slinked off with what strength he still had, all the while taking blows from a big ass mallet. Unfortunately, there were no spoils in this battle... nothing to be gained, and mostly pride to be lost. I'm just thankful that this took place in New York, rather than Alabama, or I'd surely have been done in.

Friday, December 17, 2004

rand the hatchet

My job is to write programs and develop systems to streamline productivity in my company; my job is to get people fired.

I imagine that there used to be a guy who would hand-deliver paper memos from one person to another, running frantically throughout the company, until some asshole had the unique idea of using email. "Yes, it's more efficient, but what about Mike the mail-guy?" Fuck Mike - send him back to the carwash from whence he came. I get to be that asshole.

Molly: "Hey Rand, I was thinking... I have to do all these tedious steps, and it takes me hours to do."
Me: "Is your work subjective or do you follow a formula?"
Molly: "Oh, I just follow a formula!"
Me: "Give me two days."
Molly: "Great! Now I'll have a lot more time to read the paper."
Me: "Make sure to browse the classifieds while you're at it, bitch."

It'll take me two days to write a program to replace Molly, with her twenty years of experience. Molly wasn't hired for her mind, nor for her physical ability; Molly is a non-physical laborer. Molly follows a mindless process to work with data, but my program, appropriately named 'Molly 2.0' does it better and faster. It also means that we don't need George around to double check everything Molly does, since Molly's bound to fuck up every now and then.

Molly logs onto her workstation.
Computer: "User account not found."
Molly: "Rand, my computer isn't working!"
Me: "Oh, I have your job automated now - I think you were fired or something."
Molly's freaking out as her boss steps in.
Boss: "How's Molly doing, Rand?"
Me: "She's doing her job perfectly."
Molly's color returns to her face as she lets out a sigh of relief.
Molly: "Phew, so I'm not fired then?"
Boss: *blushing slightly* "Oh, I'm sorry Molly, I was referring to Molly 2.0. I'm afraid that we don't need you anymore."
Molly's former boss touches her on the arm compassionately before congratulating me on a job well done.

My younger brother is a manager at a gigantic firm. He basically does high-level consulting for mergers and acquisitions. He studies your company, puts a pricetag on it, and determines if the company is salvageable. If it is salvageable, my brother determines what would need to be changed to improve its performance. My little brother can make a recommendation that gets hundreds of people fired in one sweep; he's the fucking grim reaper. I'm only in the position to improve processes, I therefore only deserve the title of 'Rand the Hatchet'.

I want to write programs to get everyone around me fired. I want to write a program that tells them they're fired. I want them to lose their severance packages if they don't go through the public company ritual of putting their heads on a block while I act out their executions.

The floor I work on is huge. I'm picturing all the walls being torn down so that they can fit my desk on it. My desk is basically a square slab of oak that fills 90% of the floor, with a hole in its center for my chair. It's embarrassing, but I actually have to walk on my desk to get to that hole in the center, but it's worth it for the intimidation factor, while you're standing on the other side of my desk, talking to me by intercom, wondering, "How the fuck does he get over there?"

Ted's still on my floor - it's just Ted and me. He has a small workstation set up on the other side of my desk, pressed up against the wall. At 11:24 AM, my intercom blurts out, "How's the program coming, Mr. Hatchet?" "Good, I'm afraid. Ted, I don't know if you're aware of this, but the deli across the street is hiring." There's no response, but he really is appreciative of my concern. Ted wipes back a tear, even though he knows that I'm too far away to see it. Ted's delivering my lunch next week; lucky for him, I tip well. A tumbleweed rolls across my desk as I chuckle to myself.