Monthly Archives: October 2008

Box People

“Do your boxes come empty?”

“Yes.” I know you’re wondering why my reaction was so, what’s the word? Nice. Well, I’m used to it. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this question. “That’s why people buy them, to fill them themselves.”

“Good, good. That’s how I want it.”

After a few minutes (a few minutes! We carry five boxes, three of which are of any use to her) she decides on the box. I gather it, place it near the door as she says,

“It’s flat! It’s so flat! How am I going to fit anything in there?”

I open the box and show her that it grows.

I hope you don’t figure this helped matters. Good.

“It has no bottom! How am I going to use a box with no bottom! You don’t know what you’re doing! I’m going to take my business elsewhere!”

Funny how she can’t figure out a box but she knows enough to tell me she’s taking her business elsewhere.

Comedy Review

As some of you are aware, in the past, I’ve written for comedians (some you’ve even heard of!) and I also reviewed comedy for a publication. Although I still write jokes for people from time to time I haven’t reviewed much comedy lately.

But that’s going to change today.

I had the good fortune to receive a couple of DVDs from a comedian you should know. His name is Rob Little and he does what so many comedians can’t: he makes you like him. No joke, from the moment he takes the stage he makes it feel as if you’re not only in on the joke but you were probably there when it happened. I’ll tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that’s harder than it looks.

His very energetic performance is punctuated by a Chris Farley physicality and a giggling countenance you’d expect to hear from your goofy friend. You know the guy (hey, I didn’t make the rules, but 99.9% of the time it is a guy) I’m talking about. Sure, you’re often covering your face and running in the opposite direction but it wouldn’t be a party without him.

His writing is dead on in it’s conversationally. He’s self-deprecating without ever making you feel as if he’s looking for sympathy or spiraling into woe fest. As a matter of fact, if you did have a pang for him he’d mold you into the next piece of fodder. And, due to the immediacy of his act, you’d expect it. He has that rare ability to pull you in and make you feel as important to the proceedings as he is. He’ll stumble so you can pick him up. He’ll say something that only someone who has bonded with his audience can get away with. He’ll teach you how to get away with calling a woman a bitch.

That’s talent, my friends. So often a comedian will try to show you how much smarter he is than you. Rob couldn’t be further from that (it’s an art to be able to write like that). He draws you in which makes you push for his success. There’s an old comedy axiom that you should make the audience pay. I witnessed that a month or so ago when a well-known comedian, who’s on a current hit show, phoned it in.

During his set, which was punctuated by twenty-year-old jokes (I know, it’s new to most people, but damn! Twenty years? I hope he doesn’t have the same rules when it comes to underwear), he displayed a full on disdain for the audience. I was fine with that. People were having fun. But I had an uncontrollable urge to leave when he pulled out three jokes. Not ‘hey! Look at my crafty joke!’ jokes. Jokes from jokes books. He even closed with one.

Now I don’t know what Rob’s rate is, but I do know this other comedians, and I’m sure seeing Rob live would never leave you with a feeling of being fleeced. If you wanted someone who will go to severe lengths (yeah, sure, he’s sophomoric but who does like a handful of dick and tit jokes?) to entertain you I’d suggest you hop in the Little SUV and let him drive you around funnyville.

His two DVDs, ‘Born: 20 Inches Long’ and ‘Haulin’ Ass’, show an evolution (I can’t find it in myself to call it maturity) in his performance. They were recorded five years apart and, although there is some overlap in material, it helps you to see the subtly changes in timing and inflection. I’m not saying he’s more confident in the latter (I doubt lack of confidence has ever been an onstage problem) but it is interesting to watch the growth of the Little machine.

Separated At Birth?

Surviving Customer Service 5

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

There is no “I” in team! Yes, that turns out to be very true. But there’s also no “U” so that means you matter less to your bosses, from the bottom to the top, than a register key and more easily eradicated than a spill in aisle five.
The ‘Team Concept’ of management is the updated version of the company town where the people you worked owned your home and every store in the area which replaced the indenture servant mode of management.

The only differences between the ‘Team Concept’ and indenture servitude are:

1) better public relations

2) fewer public whippings

At least when living in a company town when you passed out in the middle of the street you’d be less likely to get run over and killed. It’s not that the people were any kinder, it’s just that they didn’t want to do their job and yours.
The creation of the ‘Team Concept’ of management began when corporations realized its employees believed the bullshit they were spewing about free thought. Trust me, when your company tells you they like their employees to ‘think out of the box,’ what they really mean is,

‘Boy, you’re sure making it easy for us to keep an eye on you!’

It also gave them an idea. A simple idea that’s been utilized for centuries to control and manipulate: Cults.
If a corporation can mold you into drinking deeply from the cup of commerce then it’s only a short time until you’ll believe working fifty-five hours a week is not only the norm but, because you’re on salary, your duty.

The problem was the word cult has such a bad connotation they had to come up with something that would not only achieve the same effect (unquestioning loyalty) but do so in clean, wholesome manner.

Then it dawned on them. They fill their corporate speak with sports metaphors anyway so why not attach the same passion people have for their sports teams and modify that for their nefarious desires.

So, in a secret lair deep behind a shelf of out-of-date whoopie pies, the heads of the top eighty seven corporations world wide met to hash out what this new mind-control experiment would be called.

Don’t think these people take meetings like this lightly. They knew the decisions made in this room would resonate through generations of customer service representatives until, through evolution, they will once again avoid public relations and get back to the public whippings their fore-managers so enjoyed.

After hours of subsisting on the aforementioned whoopie pies, one enlightened (and legend has it, light-headed) middle manager jumped from the seat with such a stirring delivery in defense of the ‘Team Concept’ that the assembled had no alternative but to fully embrace the ‘Team Concept’ of employee manipulation.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘The ‘Team Concept’ adds fun, excitement and a sense of community into our work-a-day lives.’

Do you know what I’m thinking? No? I’m thinking, ‘I hope I get to you before it’s too late!’

Give me a minute and you’ll see just so eerily similar the connection between cult and ‘Team Concept’ is.

Team Concept: Single-minded attempts to achieve a common and unattainable goal (e.g. a 10% sales growth per hour while reducing staff hours 30%).
Cult: Single-minded attempts to achieve a common and unattainable goal (e.g. gain infinite wisdom and inner peace prior to meeting the common deity).

Team Concept: Build camaraderie through use of oft-repeated phrases, draconian rules, and petty trinkets.
Cult: Build camaraderie through use of group mentality, unwavering loyalty, and totems of power.

Team Concept: If believed you’ll be publicly praised by upper management and rewarded with promotions.
Cult: If believed your kids will beatified through sex with the leader and you’ll get the magical kool-aid recipe.

As you can see, the major differences between the ‘Team Concept’ and signing up for your nearest cult (check the phonebook under ‘whacko’) is how quickly you become morally and emotionally bankrupt and the speed in which you’ll experience death.

But, no matter how good a zombie like demeanor and sudden death sounds, trust me, cults have their down sides too.

So, when a manager calls you a valued member of the team in the middle of a droning incantation, stay strong, fight the power of their shiny words and glittering trinkets. Shake their hands, if you must, look deeply into their eyes unwaveringly and utter the phrase that will allow you unfettered access into a world filled with fewer lies and more with distance between you and this cult like tremor,

“It’s time for my break.”

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

Days Off

We took a couple days off to spend down the Cape. Although it was the plan, we didn’t get much rest or to the beach but the garden and yard look tended. Of course, by the time we get back, it’ll look like we’ve never been there but, oh the pride at having one good day! Okay, it’s not actually pride. It’s pain. As in,

“No thanks, I’ll just crawl.”

The only reason I kept working on the yard was because I couldn’t stand up.

Before we left we woke early because a cat was running madly around the house. My girlfriend heard the noise first and screamed for me to take action. So I lug myself out of bed, listen to her tell me what she saw, then walk up to Bundeschwager to see what he was doing.

And looking at me as proudly as he’s every looked at anything was Bunda with a mouse in his mouth. He spit it out towards me and stood there proudly. I patted him on the head, thanked him for saving us, and tossed the rodent outside.

That may be one reason he acted the way he did over the next couple of days.

The biggest change in going to the Cape this time was, for the first time, we took Brutus and Bunda (left and middle header cats). I’m sure, coming so quickly on the heel of his murder, Bunda could be understandably upset at being shoved in a prison and transported lord knows where. Could have been going to Catanamo Bay for all he knew.

My girlfriend has wanted to do this for some time but most of our trips down are for less than 24 hours so, although she’d talk about them incessantly, it didn’t seem worthwhile. But because it was a few days, they had to come.

Even before the event I had my doubts this was a great idea. Not that I wouldn’t love having them there. I knew Brutus would be fine but it was with Bunda I placed my doubts entirely. Although he’s been with us for years, he’s still has a touch of the feral in him. When we moved into this place he was a little skittish for a while. And he was surrounded by everything familiar. I figured it would be worse in totally different surroundings.

Even before feeling like he was being punished I knew he didn’t like being in the cat carrier. He proved that by spending the entire ride letting us know of his displeasure. I told my girlfriend we should hold him out the window because people would think we were an unmarked cruiser and let us pass.

We get to the house and, of course, Brutus walked out like he owned the joint. Nothing phases him. The black labrador next door came running to the door and Brutus didn’t move (oh sure, but spray a hose at the door!). As a matter of fact, he looked put off that his view was ruined.

We get there and Bunda was reluctant to get out of the carrier (Hey, Alanis! There’s irony for ya) but, after some coaxing he ran out, ran around the perimeter and under the couch. Well, his head went under because, in his little mind, if you can’t see his head you can’t see him. It didn’t take long for him to get behind the couch where he spent the rest of the day.

At night, though, it was quite a different story.

My girlfriend fell asleep on the couch watching TV and was awoken by a clatter. It was Bunda. Running around the house as if he owned it! Scratch pole, table, counter, couch, Brutus, down the hall and back again. I guess he was saving up his energy for the night. She sat up and watched this performance. She figured he was comfortable, adjusted, and ready to join normal society.

At night.

Next day, back behind the couch. That night, it’s show time!

I’m not sure when we’ll take them back down, but I’m sure, next time, my girlfriend will sleep in a bedroom.