TBRARUMUD All-Stars: Telemarketing Gone Wrong

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 | 2 Comment(s)

Let's go back.  Back in time.  I am a wise-ass, tightly wound, over-achieving high school student.   My dad, at that time, is a tightly wound oncologist who hates, above all, being interrupted by telemarketers.  Especially during dinner.

Context.  This is a time when cellphones don't exist and the constant interruption from phones was not yet the norm.  This is before caller ID and knowing ahead of time not to pick up an "Unknown Number." Especially during dinner.

And so, when my father did, on occasion, pick up the phone to find a well-enunciating young man or woman asking him personal questions with no lead in, or telling him about the marvel that is so-and-so running for lieutenant governor, he let em have it.   There were definitely a few different tactics that he employed.  There was the pointed dressing down, where the fact that he wasn't screaming made it all the worse.  And then there were the more seldom, but much more fun to watch "sprint and slams." These are where he says one line about the fuckery that is calling people during their family meals and then says BYE! and slams down the phone.

Context.  Now, when i say 'slams down the phone', I don't mean an iPhone was thrown down on a table.  This is way back when phones had two pieces, the base and the receiver . . . AND THEY WERE CONNECTED TO EACH OTHER!  And there was this wonderful empowering feeling that could be had by violently returning the receiver to the base, thus ending the call with a slamming sound on the other end.  the bases were pretty much built for that impact.  These were the good ol days i tell yah.

Protesting in Paradise

Friday, July 25, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

They are out with their signs today.  Big poster-board signs protesting one or both sides of this seemingly intractable conflict in the Middle East.  Some of the signs are new, using recent language like "war crimes" ripped from the headlines and onto the corner of Amity and Main St.  Others are used to the point of yellowing, a testament both to the length of Middle East conflict and this person's unwavering protest over how it's been handled.  And no, I'm not even going to dip a toe into the vast ocean of real problems going on over there.  This is about the individuals holding the signs, those people walking around with their heads held so high that to the rest of us they just appear to be a gathering of up-raised chins.  And that's kinda what they are.

They weren't out on that corner protesting yesterday.   Not on that intersection or any other around town.  And you would think that with the recent escalation in the use of force abroad, there would have been even more angry voices yesterday, publicly denouncing Israeli or Hamas's violent actions.  Probably both.
But it was super hot yesterday.  So humid and sticky that after I took the dogs for a walk and I had to change my underpants (no, I didn't poop in them).  Truly unpleasant.  Though one might understandably argue that the current high heat index seems rather benign when you consider the conditions of the citizens you are purporting to give a voice to.  I mean, I would expect people who believe deeply in this cause to be out there hitting the pavement with all the cardboard and Sharpie markers they can find.
Protestin ain't easy...

Not Your Superhero's Utility Belt

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

It is time for utility belts.  The time is now.

When I was a kid, utility belts were all the rage in my comic books.  Every new iteration of Batman, from the live action TV show to the various cartoons, unveiled new and exciting game-changing devices which all came compactly stored in the Dark Knight's pant holder-upper.  Sure, his was bright yellow, a particularly difficult shade for most of us mere mortals to pull off (I realize that Batman is literally-speaking mortal, but come on).

Batman: Inside the Belt
But the larger problem isn't one of color, it is one of coolness.  Street cred.  The closest American society came to starting down the slippery slope toward utility beltdom, was in the creation and execution of the cell-phone belt clip.  These nifty little pieces of plastic stay hooked to your waist, allowing you to instantly snap your phone up to your ear like Quick-Draw McGraw.  Draw, flip, talk.  It just felt so right.

My Enduring and Incomparable Grandma Rita

Monday, July 14, 2014 | 2 Comment(s)

I have one remaining grandparent. I say that now facing down the fact that it is a truth about to be erased.  My incomparable Grandma Rita is in the waning moments of her raging river of a life, and while it will be cathartic, in time, to tell tales of her deeds and accomplishments.  I'm gonna take this moment to do it one more time, in life:

Grandma Rita was the only person in my immediate family growing up that smoked.  For those people that grew up in a time where smoking made you look "healthy" and "strong," it was a very gradual transition into stigmatization.  First there were pro-smoking billboards.  Then no smoking ads on TV.  Next, smoking may cause cancer.  It may be related to lung specific cancers.  Later, much later, those became facts.  And then, much later after that, they became facts that were accepted by the population and media as truths.  And like a frog put in a pot of lukewarm water that is slowly brought to a boil, until the bitter end, the stigma was never stronger than the addiction . . . until they were "hopelessly" addicted and had spent multiple decades inside that boiling pot.  Then they got the news it was killing them all along.

My Grandma Rita got the news it was killing her one day about 20 years ago.  All those cigarettes, which to me growing up i associated as part of her identity, had caused some damage to one of her lungs. Eventually, it would require surgery.

"America Doesn't Care about Female People"

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

I hate Kanye too ya'll. Put him in the context of an awards show, a Kardashian, or pretty much anywhere there is a camera, and I'm all, "turn the channel."  Sure, he is a musical genius, but that doesn't make him a good person.

All rules have their exception, however, and Kanye's came the day the levees broke in New Orleans. Kanye found the lens of the camera as he joined numerous famous people to request donations to assist the ailing boot of our United States.  And then, standing next to Canada's own Austin Powers, he dropped this bomb, "George Bush doesn't care about Black people."  Here is the video if you missed it.

The immortal words of The Dude have never been more relevant. To paraphrase, "Your not WRONG Kanye, you're just an asshole."

New York's Not My Home: Smiling at Strangers Edition

Monday, July 7, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

This past weekend I briefly returned to the hustle and bustle of New York City.  With such a mass of humanity packed together, there is a genuine sense that the whole "melting pot" idea for this country originated on a New York stove.  As I negotiated Central Park and various Subway closures, I took a moment to appreciate the racial diversity around me, a past luxury i took for granted, only internalizing its value when it was gone.

All of this aside, there really is nothing like returning to "the city" and, as the first passerby approaches in the opposite direction, making sincere eye-contact and smiling.  Cause, like, that's how we do things up here in the Happy Valley.  Of course, the person I smiled at always has a completely different set of facial reactions.  The first two moves are almost imperceptible.  The faintest flicker of a reflex smile begins, and in the next micro-second, disgust pulls down on his previously-thinking-of-upturning lips.

Me in NYC
Then the eyes get into it.  Widening.  Who IS this guy? Why is he smiling at me?  Is this some sort of new gay signaling that I don't know about?  Should I be scared?  In the next moment, his tough guy persona is right back up. The true New York outfit: One size fits all.

High Above the Mucky Muck

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

I'm not saying that everyone wearing these boots deserves your respect.
But, dollars to donuts, they probably do.  These are work boots.

Hardcore footwear, hardcore beer bottles.
Sure, an ├╝ber rich obnoxious white dudes could just have grabbed a few pairs to go oystering in while on the Cape. But, they don't.  Both because they wouldn't know where to begin looking for oystering footwear and because you can do that particular activity barefoot.