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Me and Mr Wealth

The obnoxious Xmas spirit reached a crescendo at work today, as even the most arrogant and unthinking idiots from the buyers’ offices came by with brownies and chocolate whiskeys and big dumb grins on their stupid faces. “Marry Christmas!” they shouted. One of them said, “Ho ho ho.” 

You’ve never seen me so stone-faced. These are the dumbest people in the building, brainless boobs who do everything wrong, and depend on Kallie and Carlotta, Jennifer, Peter, and me to fix their mistakes, all year round. They never say please. They never say thank you. I’m not even sure they’re half-aware how often we save their asses from getting scorched. They’re never nice, or even indifferent like me. They’re demanding, and they’re rude about it, and the brownies don’t subtract any of that.

Come Monday, Xmas will be over, and they’ll be their ordinary asshole selves. Thank Christ Christmas only comes once a year.

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I’d told her I don’t do Christmas, but still Kallie had a gift for me — a genuine bootleg copy of the Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge album. Sigh, thank you.

Approximating the ‘Christmas spirit’ I’ve heard so much about, I went home at lunch and brought back a cool t-shirt someone had sent in trade for the zine. I like the shirt — a cartoon picture of a riot grrrl rioting — but it’s only XL, which is not nearly enough X's for me. It’ll probably fit Kallie. 

Also got another Stones tape, Their Satanic Majesties Request, from Stanley. It's not a Christmas present, though. Just another of the things he finds in the trash, and stashes in my file cabinet. With two Stones tapes, my headphones were rockin’ today.

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The sickness continues, with employees dropping like DC-10s. Babs Almighty was out sick today, blow-drying petrified puke chunks out of her long blonde tresses, I hope. More execs were missing than present, but they might have been working in the stores.

Among the workers and temps, everyone was present, but it was obvious that Peter and at least two of the temps were miserable. Me? Why, how nice of you to ask. I felt a touch of a fever, but a fever’s been coming and going since last month’s tooth extractions, and the subsequent infection that got locked inside of me.

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Since I’m disgusting, I've probably mentioned that there’s a gorgeous Hispanic woman who works on the other side of the eighth floor. I snap to attention every time I see her in the hallway — especially on ‘Casual Fridays’, when clothing standards and sometimes the clothes get a little looser.

Today was her best outfit ever: red slacks, white t-shirt, red vest, big smile, and a red Santa cap with a white fluffball on top. If Playboy did a “Girls of the North Pole” spread, she’d be on the cover. 

Always this woman makes my motor rev, but today she looked so heartstoppingly beautiful I literally tripped over my own feet as I walked by. And for this, she smiled at me. For one brief moment I was glad to be alive, and then she was gone, and everything sucked again.

I don’t even know her name. What would be the point of asking?

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It's the day before Christmas Eve, which means shoppers, shoppers, everywhere, but like a fool I left the building to run an errand at lunch (getting that t-shirt for Kallie). The sidewalks were jammed like 1950s teenagers into a phone booth, but for blocks and blocks.

Wish I had the courage to stand at the corner like one of the street preachers, shouting good tidings of bah-humbug to all. To all the shoppers I’d say, if you need a big phony holiday and a credit card to say ‘love’, the love is probably as fake as the holiday.

I’d like to sit on Santa’s lap and leave a long loose bowel movement. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, whatever — I defecate on all your holy days.

I lack the gonads to say any of this out loud, of course. Some Christian would kill me.

I was brave enough to talk back to some Republicans, though. After my errand, I jostled through the throngs in the store, waited for an elevator up, and rode with a family of three — Mom, Dad, and a little girl who looked about 9 or 10, and wore a mink or mock-mink jacket. I hated them all before the door whooshed shut, and they were talking, of course, so I knew they were going to see Santa on the seventh floor.

Then Mr and Mrs Wealth started talking about how awful it was to see all the beggars on the sidewalk. Not, how awful that there are beggars, only how awful it was to see the beggars. Mr Wealth said firmly, “That’s all going to change, now that Newt Gingrich is in charge in Congress,” and I couldn’t stand it any more.

To Mr Wealth I said, with my best imitation-drunk slobber, “Why don’t you shut up before I barf on your daughter’s mink?”

And cripes, saying that was stupid. He could’ve punched me. I’m a wimp, unlikely to win a fight with anyone, but I’d correctly assessed him as even wimpier than me.

He pulled his wife and kid close, more to protect him than to protect them, I think, and when the elevator dinged at ‘7’ and the doors opened on Santa’s workshop, they hurried off without another word.

Store employees have to wear name tags, but regional employees aren’t. I’m regional, so they’ll never know I work there. The elevator ride thoroughly brightened my spirits, and I was chuckling by the time I got back to my desk.

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After work, I went to the mailbox, and among several zines and a few envelopes with three dollars cash, there was also a small package from Jeff Koyen of Crank, in Philly.

Can you imagine my joy when I opened it on my walk back to the rez hotel, and discovered a live cockroach crawling in an otherwise empty cassette tape box? This was clearly an homage to the roach I captured in a cassette box (11/28), and it’s just what I needed. No, not the roach; I have a room full of roaches already. What I needed was reassurance that there are people out there even sicker than me. Thanks for that, Jeff!

This last Sunday, I spied the enclosed bug making a beeline for my Chinese food. I quickly flattened him w/ a clear plastic ‘glass’. Upon looking in the glass, to see the guts, I saw our friend here. The glass bottom was recessed. Please let me know if he survived.” —Jeff

I wouldn’t go so far as to say “he,” but it survived. Thought it might mate with the roach I’ve had in a jar for a month, so I could start an entirely inbred roach colony on the window sill, but instead of introducing them to each other, I found November’s roach dead. It was lying roach-tits-up in a puddle of pickle juice at the bottom of its jar. Cause of death: Who knows? Who cares? It’s a roach, fer cripes sake. 

Shook the newcomer from Pennsylvania into the same jar, where it can feed on the rigor mortissed corpse of its California cousin for all I care. I don’t like roaches, but now I have a pet roach, again.

♦ ♦ ♦

With mittens, a light blanket, and a ski mask in my backpack, I returned to the St Francis Walk-In Refrigerated Theater for Star Trek Generations.

This is the film where TV's Next Generation cast is supposed to take over the franchise from the wrinkled and withered original cast, but William Shatner as Captain Kirk owns this movie. It shines while he’s on screen at the beginning for some ordinary Kirk heroics, then nothing interesting happens for an hour, then Kirk’s back and the movie briefly sputters to life.

It’s Shatner's best performance ever, but I’m not a Shatnerd so that’s fairly faint praise. He's usually a bad actor; here he's passable. Captain Kirk, as promised, dies, and his death is rather ordinary, but his last words are fitting and appropriate. Not as good as Spock's last words, though, when he fake-died in Star Trek II.

Other than the Kirk bits, the movie plays like a bad “very special” episode of a TV show. When Data trades in his brain for an “emotion chip,” it has to be the sorriest Star Trek subplot since anything involving Q.

Is it worth your time to see the movie? Meh. You could do worse. Is it worth my time to rip into it a little more? No, but I’ll do it anyway, because what could be a more pathetic life than some fat lonely schmuck critiquing a damned Star Trek movie at length in his diary?

My main problem with Generations is, I've always loved Star Trek but I don’t care much about the Next Generation characters. Most of them aren’t characters at all. I’ve warmed up to Worf, Data, and Picard, but the rest of the cast is interchangeably bland. Mom Crusher could say Troi’s lines, Riker could say Geordy’s lines, and vice versa all around. Even as the Enterprise crashed onto the planet of cheesy special effects, twice, I was literally twiddling my mittened thumbs.

Trivia question, not specifically about this movie but about the Next Generation series: Why would any parents want to raise their children on a war ship? Answer: They wouldn’t. Every time I see kids on the Enterprise, I think of those bumper stickers that said, “Baby on board.” Slap a sticker on the hull, and that’ll keep the Borg from firing.

Another question: How many ships in this fleet are named Enterprise? Answer: I dunno, but lots. Let’s see, there are two Enterprises in this movie alone, Kirk has piloted three others, and this new cast manages to wreck their Enterprise by the end of the movie. That’s five Enterprises so far. What do you suppose their sixth ship will be called in the next movie?

 From Pathetic Life #7
Friday, December 23, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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Only the good die young.

Leftovers & links

Click any image to engorge.


Colin Powell died. I don’t know — or need to know — anything about his life and career except that he knowingly lied to take America to war, leaving a whole lot of people dead for nothing. Only the good die young, and that fucker lived to 84 damned years of age.

May he rest in perpetual pain.

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In-and-Out was a darn good burger in my memory of California. The owners are well-known as semi-kooky Christians, with Bible verses on the cups and hamburger wrappers and such, but that never stopped me from eating there whenever I could.

Now they're actively refusing a government mandate to check customers' COVID vaccine status before serving them inside the restaurant.

“We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government. We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business.”
In-N-Out Chief Legal & Business Officer Arnie Wensinger 

Never again, In-N-Out. As a general rule I avoid eating in restaurants that try to kill me.

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If you’re at all in the news loop you’ve seen that Republicans are again gerrymandering every state they control, intent on overruling democracy to remain in power. They've already rewriting laws to make voting difficult or impossible for as many black and brown people as possible. 

As ordinary routine, Republicans also do all they can to destroy the environment, protect lawbreaking police, make health care hard to get and expensive, keep even the safest recreational drugs illegal, let COVID keep killing, and just generally hold the downtrodden down.

That ought to be the Republicans’ motto — “Holding the downtrodden down.”

History suggests that there’s a limit to how many times people can be kicked in the face before fighting back. My own life is fairly comfortable, and I’m almost absolutely a coward and a pacifist, but we’re not far from a time when invitations to violence will be issued, and many will answer the call.

It’s only surprising that the people issuing and answering that call will be Republicans — imagining themselves the victims, and willing to kill to defend their rights and power that nobody’s challenged except democracy.

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Major culinary breakthrough, and I am serious about this: Popcorn tastes even better, much better, when it's popped in grease left over from the previous day’s hamburgers. I imagine popcorn popped in bacon grease would be more addictive than PCP.

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All through my adult life, I’ve had the Elvis-given habit of addressing people as sir and ma’am, or Mr and Ms. These are all terms of respect, but my sister-in-law has asked me not to refer to her as Ms, but as Mrs Holland.

No slight was intended, of course. Part of respect is calling people by their chosen names, and she's been Mrs Holland for most of her life, so Mrs Holland she will be.

My default with every other woman, though, will always be Ms. It was the very first thing I heard from what was then called the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s, and immediately their complaint made sense to me:

When a man and woman marry, the next day he’s still the same man, but she has a new last name, and she’s no longer Miss, she’s Mrs. After the marriage, a woman needs new checks, a new driver’s license, and a new library card. At work, she’ll need a new nameplate, a new badge, and a new email address. If old friends want to find a woman who's married, they’ll need to know her husband’s name.

That ain’t fair, that ain’t right, and when I married, there was never any question that my wife would keep the name she’d been born with. She was never be a Mrs. It occurs to me, just about the only person who ever accidentally called my wife Mrs Holland was my sister-in-law, who really is Mrs Holland.

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Some scientist thinks maybe we all came from a petri dish. If so, it was a very poorly run lab. 

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Of interest to old-time zine people, and old time rock’n’rollers: Larry Livermore explains what really happened between him and the late Piano Jimmy.

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OMG, it’s a nipple.

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Cost to clone your cat: $35,000

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How the Beatles went psychedelic.

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There seems to be some question whether Jackie Mitchell struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, but there's no question at all. There's a box score, so it happened.

It doesn't even matter whether it was 'legit', because again, there's a box score, so it happened.

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This looks like a perpetual motion machine to me, but I was always told those are impossible.

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I'd be a cannibal if I could find a good cookbook.

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 Mystery links  — Like life itself, there’s no knowing where you’re going:


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Sincere tip 'o the hat to:

• Becky Jo
• Dave S.
Captain Hampockets
Follow Me Here
National Zero
Ran Prieur
Voenix Rising
• and One of the Butt Sisters but definitely not the other.


Leftovers & links 

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Not today

I'd like a little privacy, if you don't mind. What happened today is none of your business.

 From Pathetic Life #7
Thursday, December 22, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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5 simple rules for work

① Always give the job my best effort, every day.

② Go above and beyond what’s expected (but also, leave work at work).

③ Never badmouth the boss, or the company.

④ Help my teammates, but avoid excess chit-chat.

⑤ Be honest with management. Never BS them.

I am completely seriously serious about all these rules. Call me old-fashioned, but I figure the job is paying my rent and putting ham on my sandwiches, and my part of the deal is to give them their money's worth.

There’s always a 'but', though, and the 'but' is — I am not willing to be the only person who gives a damn.

I’ll work by these five rules until/unless I’m working for shitty people or a shitty company. When that happens, screw the rules. I’ll fit right in by being a shitty worker. 

At my current job, I played by my five rules for seven years, a year or so longer than the company deserved. I pulled overtime when it was needed, trained the new hires, worked special projects, made suggestions that saved the company many thousands of dollars, posted great numbers, and got stellar performance reviews.

That was then, of course. Now is now. New management took over (long before the looming layoffs), and they've all but announced that the company doesn't give a damn, so to be a 'team player' I now don’t give a damn myself.

Rule #5, though, is still in effect: Be honest with management. Never BS them. That's why I’m retirement age, but working an entry level job where I’m about to be laid off. Bad management hates honesty, prefers BS, so I follow Rule #5 just to be a pain.

Yesterday, for example.

My department’s work is to quickly audit newly-issued insurance policies, and if no errors are spotted, we’ll print and mail the policy. We're supposed to finish our work and mail your policy within three days after you bought it, and for my first seven years at the job, that’s what we did.

When one of my co-workers quit, though, management decided not to replace her. Our turnaround time began slipping further and further into the future, maxing out at three weeks instead of three days.

Complaints from customers skyrocketed. Some angry agents quit, and started selling our competitors' policies instead. And yet, management refused to hire anyone, refused to authorize overtime, and refused to give a damn.

After a year of management shrugs, though, it suddenly became very important that we get our workflow down to a 3-day turnaround again. A fleet of temps was hired — so many temps that we’re actually overstaffed now — and we made progress. The backlog quickly shrank.

Why did management have such a complete change of heart? Money. Our work is being outsourced, and there’s a many-thousand-dollar surcharge from the outsourcing company, if workflow is outside of mandated turnaround times when they take over, in January. Management still doesn't care about our angry customers and agents, only about saving money. 

We finally got caught up earlier this week, and my inbox has been flooded with emails from executives all over the company, saying "Congratulations!" and "3 days again — super!" and “Great work!”

This annoys the everfuckin' fuck out of me. It makes it sound as if we did something special, when all we did was have enough workers

So I sent this short email to my boss, her boss, and to all the eleven executives who’ve send “Great work!” emails:

From September 2020 to October 2021, we were outside of our 3-day turnaround times, and not by just a little. We’ve been weeks behind, leading countless customers and agents to call, asking, “Where’s this policy?” None of this happened because of COVID, or an increase in sales, or any unanticipated event. It happened because management decided our department should be short-staffed.

Our work is being outsourced, and I’ll be terminated in a few months (or sooner if this email is misconstrued) but I am wondering whether anyone in management understands: This was all preventable. If we’d been fully-staffed a year ago, we never would’ve fallen behind.

That was sent and CC'd everywhere yesterday morning. A day later there's been no response. 

I'd be dazed and amazed if anyone replied honestly, and said, "Yeah, we were dumb. We'll try not to be so dumb again." That's a metaphysically impossible response, where I work.

There’s a 50/50 chance no-one will ever reply, a 25% chance someone will send a bullshit “Thank you for your concern” memo, and a 25% chance I’ll be fired. Of these possibilities, I have no real preference.



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No sick leave for workers

Behind the rez hotel's very thin walls, my neighbors might think I have a wild sex life. It’s just me, though, alone and lying on my side, wriggling my spine up and down and sideways to limber my bones in the morning, that makes the bed squeak so.

♦ ♦ ♦

Today was your basic day at the office, but after work and dinner I went back, to use the copier to reprint some back issues.

Me and Stanley chatted, sometimes shouting across the room as he emptied trash buckets. He’s easy to like, easy to talk to, and a bit of a gold mine — ever since reading the zine he’s been leaving great stuff at my desk. It’s becoming a habit to check the top drawer of my filing cabinet in the morning, to see what else Stanley’s left.

So far I've gotten two books of short stories, tapes by Janis Joplin and the Beach Boys, and a very plush chair (more like a throne) which Stanley sorta swiped from Security, and which I’ve stashed in the break room until I can roll it home. Tonight there was a used copy of The Filmgoer’s Companion, a movie guide that would be my perfect Christmas present if I believed in Christmas.

Of course, I’m not nearly so nice to Stanley as he’s been to me, but it’s good to have someone willing to hang around. Maybe a friend, and a friend who’s a scavenger is even better.

♦ ♦ ♦

Sick call: Peter and Anne were out today, as were two execs, including the one Kallie deals with most often. She’s feeling better, she says, but the temp who sits nearest her is feeling worse. There’s a cacophony of coughing all day in the office, but I can’t see who’s coughing without being there and I prefer to keep my distance. 

If whoever’s in charge of this company could see what “no sick leave for workers” really costs, there might be sick leave. A day off with pay can’t be as expensive as all these people working at half-speed, zoning out at their desks, probably making mistakes, and spreading misery to everyone else, including executives who do have paid sick leave.

Nope. As with everything else, the people in charge only see how much sick leave might cost, never what it might save. It's looking at the bottom line through a blind eye, and that's life in America.

Now, ‘scuse me, I godda blow my node.

 From Pathetic Life #7
Wednesday, December 21, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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