July 2017 Archives

reader mail: scorched earth

PITA Stank troll Marta asks why I don't write much about Trump. I'll answer her question with a question: what's been unsaid? I, myself, have Trump fatigue. I guess I figured y'all do, too. I do have one thought to share about the man. It's my metaphor for explaining his ascent.

For those too young to remember, when coalition forces spanked the Iraqi army and drove them out of Kuwait after, like, 14 minutes of fighting, the retreating Iraqis set Kuwaiti oil wells on fire. It was horrific and utterly pointless, done purely out of spite. That's Trump to me. He's the oil-well fire set by society's losers, a sky-blackening reminder of just how much they resent the success, if not the existence, of others.

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i really can't wait to miss this

My business's ledger is a dry affair, seen only by me, my accountants, and possibly someday a government. My descriptions of expenses are clinical:

Q217 941
Q217 state income tax
Q217 school district income tax
and so on. Last week, I wrote a check for I-know-not-what local tax. My irritation bubbled up in its description:
The fuck if I know.
"No," I thought. "You can figure out what this is. What was the description last quarter?" I looked.
No idea what the fuck this is. Sooooey, pig!

murder-suicide

I was in an interminable conversation with Allie today about her life's problems, and my mind wandered, out of self-defense. It wandered to another conversation with an ex, long ago.

• • •

In a Microsoft meeting room, I broke up with my girlfriend of several months. I had timed it for 15 minutes before a meeting so that people would trickle in and break up the breakup talk. I had this wired.

Then she showed up in my office, crying. My office-mate fled, the jerk. My new ex wanted more of an explanation. She wanted to tell me all about my own inadequacies. She wanted me to know that no one had ever hurt her this much before, not even the ex who beat her up. She said a whole lot of stuff. I emailed Bubba and told him that I might not be joining him for drinks after work due to the unfolding insanity.

Three hours later, the building was empty. Except for my office, that is, where I was completing lap 500 around Retard Park. My phone rang. It was Bubba.

"You're sitting there listening to the same stupid, stupid shit, over and over and over, and you're seriously thinking about a murder-suicide thing, aren't you?"

At the time, I thought he was some sort of sage. Many breakups later, I now know better.

dunkirk

You can find many fawning reviews of Dunkirk. This is not one of them. I left at the two-thirds point.

The movie is gorgeously shot and staged. If you see it, see it on the biggest screen you can find. Thus ends the complimentary portion of this post.

What this movie needs is more miracle and less masturbation. Christopher Nolan managed to take one of the greatest stories in history and turn it into a referendum on his own narrative cleverness. I found it self-indulgent and shallow, and as his indulgences revealed themselves, I grew disappointed and irritated. This story does not need to be cool-i-fied with quick cuts and time-jumps. I suppose Nolan thought that since we know the ending, we needed mystery—specifically the mystery of WTF is going on, who are these translucently thin characters, is that music or did someone fill a washing machine with cats and push it down a flight of stairs, and why didn't they just tell the damned story?

• • •

My Erwin Rommel story is fourth-hand and possibly filtered through senility, so take this with a commensurately sized grain of salt.

When I was a kid, I heard Woody Hayes give a commencement address. In addition to being a football coach, he was a history professor. The latter was his great passion, and that's what he spoke about that day. And spoke. And spoke. Woody was quite old at this point.

Woody had met Manfred Rommel, son of the great general. In Woody's recounting, he asked Rommel why his father had not pressed his advantage at Dunkirk and annihilated the British army. Rommel quoted his father as saying that with all the horrors of war he had witnessed and inflicted, he had a chance in Dunkirk to do "one good thing" in all the war. He took it.

The truth? Self-serving bullshit? The ramblings of a coot? You be the judge.

mr. free time

I have a lot of time on my hands, thanks to a work drought, so I'm mulling over taking some courses and fleshing out the ol' resume. It took all of 20 seconds of research for me to groan "Am I really up for this?"

My first stop was PMI.org, dispenser of project management certifications. The web site is a bewildering maze of buzzwords and undefined acronyms. Educational institutions that cannot teach so much as "this is how you give us money" give me pause. Then I clicked the link Test yourself with CAPM Sample Questions and read the two, count 'em, two questions that were apparently written by a slovenly ESL chimpanzee in a Tilt-A-Whirl. Two questions include a comma error, passive voice, subject/verb disagreement, and a superfluous quotation mark. This slop is what they deemed representative? Please! Take my money, stat! And then there's the vapidity of the content itself, an exercise in "which non-mutually exclusive term is the one we prefer?"

Which foodstuff is digested after chewing and swallowing?
A. Apples
B. Carbon-based organics
C. Both A and B
D. A but not B
I am skeptical.

instablock

Unless you count web 1.0 stuff like this page, I am not into social media. I have a Facebook account, but I post maybe four things per year, none of them of substance, and I don't friend people.

An acquaintance recently sent me a friend request. I accepted, and immediately he dominated my feed. Of the top 20 posts, 17 were him. Do these people really think people aren't hiding their posts out of self-defense? It's an instablock here.

You new mothers, too. I'll unhide you after their first day of school is over.

cost of deadening

If you're a Pittsburgher and you want to die horribly, inform me of how much lower my cost of living is here.

You cannot swing a dead cat without three different municipalities slapping a flight tax on it. Last week, I paid 50% more to just the school district than the entirety of my state and local taxes for a year in Washington. This was easy to calculate because, like every other taxing body, the school district sent me a separate bill. A week later, I got my school income tax bill. This is not to be confused with my separate income, property, and business tax bills from the county, city, township, state, and school district. Paying tax bills is my exciting new hobby.

It's not hyperbole to say that if some fake collection company sent me a bill from the made-up Acme Parish, I would pay it unthinkingly.

squeaker

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter just celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary, meaning Jimmy edged my relationship endurance record by 65 years.

And counting.

john...

I recounted my last post to Lynn, who was once my boss. She immediately recognized my present boss's pained, wheezing "John..." And she also recognized the pain of having no better personnel options than me.

"It is irritating," she said with obvious conviction. "I say that with love," she quickly added, with substantially less obvious conviction.

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