Saturday, June 24, 2006

Breaking taboos at Starbucks



Real simple: There is this Starbucks that I go to on a regular basis. It is a drive-thru. I know the people who work there. There is a good vibe there. They know what vehicle I drive. They know who I roll with when I get coffee.

They have been training a new crew. There are some new faces around. Here was today's transaction at the drive-thru:

new guy: May I take your order?
me: Yes, I would like a grande Americano please.
new guy: Would you like room for cream or sugar?
me: Hell no!
new guy: Thankyou, I'll have your total for you at the window.

Initially, I thought that the stuff was funny. I was thinking that if I was a barista, I would appreciate such a deviation from the standard coffee purchasing protocol. Then, the more I thought about it, and the guy's response, I began to consider that maybe I had offended him.

This "offending" worm of an idea niggled in the back of my head as I pulled up, car length at a time, to the window. I fumbled through my wallet and pulled out my two bucks. A grande Americano is a buck ninety-five, you know.

I finally got to pull up. The window opened, and this kid was there. I had actually asked the kid a few days ago if I knew him from somewhere else. He convinced me that I didn't. The familiarity of our previous conversation was not in his eyes. This guy was on some business. He passed me my coffee, and I passed my bills. I had to ask him.

"Hey man, you weren't offended by what I said were you? I was only kidding."

He looked at me quizzically. Then another guy behind him came into my focus.

"I didn't take the order." The first kid told me, as he handed me my nickel change.

"No, I wasn't offended." said the kid behind him who had just come into view. There was a big smile on his face. I laughed out loud. A mix of nervousness and joy for hitting the mark. He laughed too.

I am considering saying something like "Your momma drinks milk and sugar" the next time.

Just kidding.

Friday, June 16, 2006

HAIKU FOR TODD



Toddy said the following not too long ago:
Pretty soon, when I get time, I am going to sit down and read all of your latest entries. But damn, can't you write a haiku or something every once in a while?

Great idea mang!
Here you go:

Toddy wants haiku
leaves, big trees and a cute frog
There Toddy, enjoy


But on the forilla, Toddy, you have inspired me. You have inspired me to put up my old "splatter-ku" that I used to teach my 10th grade classes to write. You ever try to inspire a sophomore to write poetry? It is about as successful as you pointing a shotgun at your testicles and pulling the trigger while sober. This isn't going to happen. You can't do it. Now if you really wanted to blow your testicles off, you would have to trick yourself...or get drunk or something. It was the same way with teaching poetry to sophomores. Trickery, man. I couldn't get them drunk, so I had to make them look like fun. Dammit, they are fun. These haikus are all about trickery.

Understand that Haikus are supposed to be concerned with nature. That is great, but I have never made it through more than four Basho Haikus in a row without vomiting POINT BLANK.

Each splatterku has a story, but Toddy wants this concise...so maybe I will elaborate later:

Decomposing fish
scales mouldy and wet
slips under my foot


Yellow urine stains
the tire of the parked red truck
territory held


Bullets rip on through
the strong spine of the grown deer
violent life-spasm


Swelling hard pustule
in the center of his face
erupts blood and ooze


Peeing man falls, plash
into a foul, public pit
Outhouse rescue please


Foul smelly possum
eating trash with family
extermination


Undercooked pork steak
served hot with barbecue sauce
colon parasites


gaping bleached cat skull
grins from its brown gutter grave
disrespected corpse

SPARED

*Pics loader is lame again*
Steve Bawls is at it again. The bastard has been out of control for some time now. My alter ego has gone and got hisself into some trouble. READ ON:

All week long I have been PARANOID.

I am the primary vanpool driver. I am the man. If something goes wrong, it is on me. Monday, I had to run some hot errands off-site. I was running late. I called Venkat the enforcer to tell him to tell the rest of the passengers that I was running late. Then I put my foot into the gas pedal and get to it.

There is this hill I have to drive up to get to work. It is pretty steep and the local public transit is on that road. I say this, because they have vans that say "Vanpool" on the back of them too. Let me tell you that I was charging up that road at 50mph. It is a 35 mph zone. Then I got into the parking lot and tore towards my people. If a car had backed out, or a dazed testmaker had stepped out at that time, they would have been SMOKED POINT BLANK.
My riders stepped off the curb and gave me universal hand signals telling me to slow down. I did just that. Brake spike. I loaded them up. Then I was all apologies all the way home. I took a good ribbing in the process. Something about having to buy them all donuts. Something about us being the last out of the parking lot. I took all of this grief. I took it in stride, I was late.

We have a good microcosm. There is some good banter, and some good running jokes. But my being late was the conversation piece that day. All of this talk I have about being on time. I even have their computers set to remind them to go to the vanpool starting at 4:00 and ending at 4:15. That means that they are 15 minutes LATE by the time they get downstairs at 4:30. Egg on my face? You have no freaking idea. WTVR. I got them all home within 5 minutes of our usual landing time.

No big deal.

Or so I thought.

The next day, I got the email announcement for the quarterly meeting of the vanpool riders. Blah blah blah, purchase cards, blah blah blah, maintenance, blah blah blah ridership numbers, blah blah blah REPORT OF RECKLESS DRIVING. I knew that it was a reference to me, I just didn't know when the offense had occurred.

Let me tell you something: I am a loose cannon. Behind that wheel, I will do what I need to do to get to where I need to go. I have run my share of yellow to red lights and done more than one illegal u-turn. I have taken that van up to 85 in a 65 MPH zone. I can't tell you how many stop signs I have rolled or how many lanes I have changed without a turn-signal. Fort Ord is on 25 mph because of construction. I do 50 though that place DAILY. I am not quite a lunatic. I just have an agenda. Furthermore, with all of this crazy driving that I do, I am usually locking horns with someone in the van about the value of a new computer program, or the validity of our current war versus Vietnam while I am driving. There is a lot of laughing and a lot of clowning around. I usually have my MP3 player jacked into the cassette deck and have a low rumble of something offensive in the background. I am usually eating baby carrots by the handful, drinking coffee and steering with my knees. I really need to tone it down.

I push it. I have been pushing it for some time. I think that my riders know that I have driving skills, so they cut me slack as I swerve here and there. I drag race with Jason (the Santa Cruz driver)through Fort Ord. Sometimes it gets close, it is always ugly. Horns blare when we pass each other. Cell phones light up. Steve Bawls makes phone appearances. Good times. There is this other van starting up though. The Hollister van. Those people are a little stiff. Some are probably in need of a good ass-whupping.

I was thinking that the Hollister people might have reported something.

I started to fish. First, I put the cursory email out to Debbie, telling her that I would be at the meeting, and then asking what the report for reckless driving was. debbie has had my back since my day 1 writing the tests that you fail. She got back to me. Apparently, someone in human resources had seen be blasting up the hill on Monday. NOT GOOD.

She told me who the rat is.

The rat is MARKED.

I went and talked to Peter (see the post "He is Magnificent, I am Miserable"). Peter put the fear into me.

"Oh, I have the whole story alright. I thought that they were talking about me." He said this with a look of angst and horror screwed onto his face.
"I drive that thing like a madman. You know that cigar box that you guys keep? Last time I drove that thing, I had to go into the back of the van to get the cigar box and move it back to the front."

Let me tell you, I have never been able to make the cigar box slide backward. It is full of tickets and papers. There is no weight to the thing. Maybe to the side on a turn, but backwards? I can't pull those kinda g's without a supreme disregard for all life in my radius. But Peter, that magnificent bastard that he is, does things with a level of gusto that I just don't maintain. Imagine what I just wrote about my psychotic driving..imagine it MULTIPLIED BY 3. That is how this other guy handles business.

The story? Apparently HR woman was a-scared as she saw me rip on past her. Apparently they called one of my newer riders to get the time straight. I was bombing up the hill at 4:38. So they called my newer rider and asked her what time the van had been in on Monday. They did their detective work and now they had me.

Thursday was the big meeting. I sweated it out. I mentioned to the other vanpool drivers that they were going to see me publicly scourged. I was bracing my ego for the deathblow when they would inevitably ask me to turn in my keys. All of the paranoia was there. I was basically a mess. I was also repentant.

So the meeting starts. I am all sheepish. I feel like an ass. The meeting is going and going and I am waiting for the big reckless driving report. John, the meeting proctor, is a badass. He peppers his speech with "damn," "hell" and "friggin". He peppers the meetings he proctors with the same words.
An example: "I know we all want to get the hell back to our desks, and I will try to keep this meeting within a friggin' hour..."

There are stories that circulate the floor about how John has ripped someone a new orifice just because they didn't wear their yellow hat right in a safety exercise or some trash. Don't get me wrong, I get along with John. I think that the man is cool. He has cut me a lot of slack, and he will throw down a word like "magnanimous" as fast as he will drop a "damn". He is an erudite blue-collar man in a white-collar setup doing blue-collar things. I was ready to take my lashing from John. God knows I have earned it. This Steve Bawls thing is just the tip of the iceberg, people.

Then he got to the point.
"Ok, next topic: RECKLESS DRIVING. Look, I know how it is when you run an errand off-site and you have people waiting for you. Of course you are going to drive fast. I think that this subject has been talked about enough, and there is no real reason to address the issue anymore."

CASE DISMISSED.
I voiced a "It won't happen again, John." and that was as far as it went. I was truly shocked by the amount of play he left for me on this one.

I am still in shock. I was so ready to turn in my keys or take whatever disciplinary measure that they had for me.

All I know is that the next time I am late, I will have to be driving so fast that the properties of air and land will bend around me so that if someone from HR sees me, they will be caught in some sort of time vortex and question their personal reality as I go to pick up my people.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

REDEMPTION STORY

This site has gotten a tad SPED with the uploading of pictures option. I'll have to do that part later.
*UPLOAD FERRET PIC*
*UPLOAD RAT PIC*

I have an old college buddy. His name is Ian. Ian is working on breaking into the movies. You saw him take a round to the chest in THE HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. How did he f*ck that up? I'll never know.

Ian is a good guy.

Ian hit me up a few months ago to give him a treatment for a short film. I had to think for a bit. At the time, I was out of the office on pretty much a daily basis, with a film crew, filming these kids taking the tests that we generate at work. I was in a position where I could jot down some notes and troubleshoot them a bit. So I did.

I came up with an idea for a treatment.

It goes like this:

There is this guy who has just bought a pet. For the purpose of the short film, I was thinking it could be a rat. I was also thinking "rat" because I had just hooked it up with the Fontina. So this guy is playing with the rat, while driving and he smokes into someone's pet dog. The hitting of the dog has to be explosively violent. Violent and painful. Over the top. This is what inspires it:

Years ago, I was driving my old Mini down the road. A dog was running alongside me. On the passenger side. I swerved at the dog to get rid of it. It veered away and then ran straight for my front passenger tire. I guess it thought I was an actual animal rather than a vehicle. It also thought it could take me down by biting my front tire. There was an impact. I went up on the dog and he got pinned under my wheel and sort of into my wheelwell. I could hear it whimpering through the floorboards. My engine died on the dog and so did my brakes. I slid to a crooked stop, using that dog as my brake. When I finally was parked, I refired the engine and backed up off the mutt. One side of the dog was completely bald. The way that dog took off, I am sure that I sheared one of its legs off in my stopping process. I got out of the car and watched it run. Then I looked across the street and I saw a family standing out on their porch. It clicked in my head that this was their dog. They had just seen me work their family mutt OVER. I voiced a, "I'm sorry about your dog." to them.

"Don't worry about it, he does that all the time." the matron said. I got back behind my wheel and got the hell out of there. That dog wasn't long for this earth.

Back to the treatment:

I am thinking about that level of violence. Guy plays with rat, hits dog. Destroys dog on the spot, and looks over and sees the family. There should be a slo-mo of the shock on all of the people's faces. Then rather than voicing his apology, he gets the hell out of there.

But later that evening he is wracked with guilt. And this could be done in a montage fashion. All of the different things he does. Like sneaking over to their house in the evening and tending the dog's grave in the backyard. Dropping a "My Condolences" card through the mail slot. All of these different things to assuage his guilt. All the while he is training the pet rat and breaking it in.

I think that this whole "doing good deeds" thing should go on incessantly. painfully long. I think that they might even catch this guy tending the grave in the backyard, and there should be some sort of spastic "jumping the fence" scene.

In the end, the guy should be at the park, with his fully trained rat. maybe he has it on a leash. maybe it should be a ferret if it is on a leash. I dunno. Here is the point though. He is at the park doing his thing and this kid comes up and sees him doing his thing. This kid is fascinated with the rat/ferret. The guy looks into the kid's face and then he realizes that it is the kid who lives at the house where he smoked the dog. The guy gives the ferret to the kid. Then he follows the kid at a distance, maybe in his car. The last scene could be the family through the kitchen window, gathered around the rat/ferret at the dinner table, all smiles. It could pan back into the car where the guy is watching them from the street. he gets a smug look on his face and drives off.

REDEMPTION SQUARED.

It seems like an idea that could work in film. I just don't see it working in text...but hey, I think I am going to give it a shot...and you read it here FIRST.

Oh, BTW, Ian wasn't really interested in this one after all. That is too bad, I think that this one has a little bit of potential.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Back from the dead with snapshots to and from Hell


NOTE: Steve Bawls is Pandemic. I didn't make this sign. Nor did I put it in my van that is slated to go in for repairs. Nor did I take the picture of the sign. Nor did I email a grip of heads and let everyone in on the joke know what is up. This stuff is moving, and it is moving out of my control and I LIKE IT.



I have been scarce of late. I have been clawing and shredding my way through this corporate maze that I have been in for almost three years now. The thing is that I feel that I am coming out on top. It has taken its toll though. As I posted before, I was in Missouri last month. Last week I was in Oklahoma. Oklahoma city to be precise. I was in a dirty-ass hotel room with someone else's hair on the shower walls.

This isn't going to be some sort of poingniant post...this is going to be the ramblings of a man who is completely exhausted and whose body has begun to consume his brain for nourishment.

Flight snapshots:
#1.
My steward seemed like a cool guy. His head was shaved, he had some jewelry on. I was going out of my way to assume that the man is straight. I didn't want to fall for that old "a gay flight steward from Canada brought us the entire AIDS epidemic" stereotype. He even did this funny "powering down" robotic death move when the person announcing what to do with the falling airbag flubbed her lines. However, when I was in the line to get into the bathroom, I was listening to him talk to a stewardress about his friends. He was talking about how much fun he had travelling and all of this other trash. He shot me a coy look as he turned his phone on to access to access some pictures. We were three miles up, mind you, and I couldn't turn my damn phone on. So he showed her the pictures. Being that I am the nosey assed blogging bastid that I am, I took a "shift foot positions to crane neck" move and saw what he was showing her.
STEREOTYPE AVERSION BLOWN: it was a pic of some naked guy reclining on some leopard blanket.

#2.
I watched SIN CITY on my laptop for my 8AM flight. Great movie. Beats the hell out of X3. X3 pissed me off. There is a blog in the fuselage about that cinematic fecal smear, trust me. But watching Sin City in the morning is sort of like drinking a scotch before noon. The people to the left and to my right were fascinated and repulsed at the same time. When I watch that flick, I always do it like this: I watch the Long Goodbye first. MARV/ROARKE owns the screen, and that stuff gets the blood swishing through the arteries. Then I fill it out with the Bruce Willis adventure. Bruce Willis is alright in my book, even if he does get an ugly honorable mention in that "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" book. Then I round it out with the Benicio del Toro/Clive Owen exploding head passage.

Whatever the case, watching Junior's nuts get pulled and Bruce Willis pound his head into the floorboards was a little much for the people around me. I could feel them shifting in their seats as the discomfort washed over them. It made me wonder what line I was crossing. I had the sound running through headphones and I had subtitles on. They didn't have to look at the screen, just as I didn't have to look over and see that one was working on a presentation on some sort of bean sprout and that the other was reading the New Testament. Was I wrong for watching the unrated version of Sin City at 8 in the morning in the full view of strangers? I dunno.
I remember being a kid and driving with the family right by drive-in theatres and looking up hoping to see something R-rated as we passed. I think that this laptop thing was akin to that, only I was on a plane and these people were of age and had no choice...yeah.

#3.
Flight home? I was watching SCARFACE. If you know me, then you know how I feel about this film, mang.
The woman next to me was older. I would say that she was pushing 60. She travels a lot. She liked to talk. I liked her out of the gate. She had that old-school chutzpah that I dig. She peppered her conversation with classy profanity. Thing was, I needed a lull in converstation to load up the Scarface. Well, she fitted me with a lull and get to it. Then I noticed during the REBENGA hit that she was watching over my shoulder, rather intently. I pulled my headphones and asked her if she liked the movie. She told me that it was one of her favorites. That she had Scarface and the complete Godfather collection on DVD. Then she asked me if I was into the Sopranos. Then she mentioned dePalma's camera angles in Scarface, and I knew that I REALLY LIKED THIS WOMAN.
I put on the subtitles and we watched the chainsaw scene. She mentioned the way the panning from the bathroom window to Manny with his finger on the hip of some flooze back to the bathroom was one of her favorites. I scrolled back to the scene that I dig where Tony and Manny are on break at the restaurant and that guy strolls past the window with the Grand Theft Auto strut in the background.
If I was to sum up my flight from OK to Denver, I would have to say that I was really happy that I got to sit next to Rita. I Actually wished that I was going to SF with her rather than to San Ho. I would have loved to experience the final shootout with that woman. Good Times.

#4.
Flight from Denver to OK at the beginning of the week was loaded up with these extremely well-dressed young men. I sat in front of two of them. They had someone "not of their tribe" sandwiched between them. Turns out that these kids were all Mormons, and that this was a proselytizing tour. I listened to that poor civilian bat back the logic of Joseph Smith and his Moronic angel for quite some time. I wanted to turn in my chair and ask my questions about the Mormon on the FBI most wanted list and the adjustments to the book of Mormon over the past thirty years. I wanted to paste one of these kids in the face and ask him why because my skin is darker that I wear the mark of Cain. I wanted to get online and pull up all of that trash that used to piss me off to the highest of pisstivity. Instead, I put on the MP3 player and worked my way through my Slayer collection and ultimately embraced a jagged state of oblivion.

Alright.
I'll have something more coherent up in here in the next few days, I promise.