February 28, 2011

What I'm Looking For

Yet another post on the work change. Sorry. It's a rather big step at this point. There is still a legitimate question about being on my feet for a whole shift (it's 3 13 hour days folks. That's kinda scary. A little). Health issues. Stuff I didn't have 14 years ago, the last time I was in a print shop.

I'll be working on equipment as pictured here, btw.

I don't want to have to have an opinion. I don't want to have to talk to young entrepreneurs (most of whom - by my experience - are selfish, conceited, snobbish, unaware of their own foibles and sometimes just outright pricks) any more. I don't want to produce a number out of thin air or sit in meetings where people spend hours looking at charts and Power Point and coming to the same decision they would have four hours before anyway.

I don't want to sit in a bar at a convention and have people look at my watch or other people's watches or talk about how much they nailed down in new commissions last month. I don't want to sit at booths at trade shows and say the same thing over and over again to people who are just trying to look interested but really just want to go home.

I'm tired of having to look and sound like an expert at anything. Tired of talking about politics. Tired of caring about the latest news going on in the country or outside the country, or who said what to enrage who about what on the radio or the TV. Who is screwing who in Hollywood.

I remember standing in a gas station about a year ago this time and listening to people talk. Listening to their cadences. The words they skipped over. The fact that nobody talks in complete sentences. I started putting it into what I was writing. The way people actually talk. Not what reads best. Using the exact phrases and expressions. I remember how the book Huckleberry Finn used the language of the time to create a masterpiece. I remember seeing a couple guys standing there talking about the work they were going to do that day. And I remembered all the times people in one strata of the working world would go out of their way to cut down people like these. And I recall participating, being so smug and special now that I was wearing clean shoes every day, in those days.

And every once in a while I'd feel a little envious of the surety. The 1 -2 - 3.

I used to say - wow, what a relief it would be to be on the clock again. Just come in, do your work, punch out and not have to generate a plan of attack for tomorrow. A presentation in the morning. An organizational excuse. To not have to have a strategy. A four step program to greater success. And then have to have other people judge you on what you think and how you think it.

Of course you're not supposed to take steps back. I can tell you right now that people are already working on how they're going to explain themselves at our high school reunion this year. You can count on it. Well I started out on the crew but now I'm the General Manager to the Vice President In Charge Of Looking Out The Window. Well I'm between jobs right now but molecular epidemiology is my field of expertise.

I'm going to say I print and cut and fold stuff. Let people figure it out from there. Say what they want. Think what they want. Kick themselves for pumping up their status and their position so it sounds real good in the program.

But that's not what I'm trying to say in this post. It's not even where I wanted it to go. It's what I'm looking for that counts right now.

Since the late 90's, when I started on the road to corporate/national sales and blah blah blah, I never did jobs I wanted to do. I did the jobs I had to do, and jumped on every opportunity that just laid itself out for me. And I kind of got away from myself in the bargain. It wasn't until I started saying - admitting - that this wasn't the direction I ever wanted that I started back into seriously, purposefully writing again. I was too busy pushing my energy into travel and sales goals and taking this ridiculously unattractive persona and making it presentable to people. Meeting decision makers. Talking to people with those stupid tassels on their shoes.

And I'm sure I'm romanticizing it. But I do remember being in a mix of people I understood, for all their faults. And my faults. And our warts. You could bite into a wet Italian beef sandwich (it's a Chicago thing, sorry) and drip down your chin and onto the wax paper it was wrapped in and no one is sitting there going "oh heavens, how uncouth." You could stop in a tavern on a Friday and the first thing you buy with a paycheck is a big greasy Reuben with a pitcher of beer. For yourself. Go to poker games where there weren't mixed drinks. Or go to poker games at all. Bowling. What about bowling? You could go bowling.

It's relative, of course. This milieu is full of it's own bullshit too. But at least it'll be my bullshit. The bullshit I'm used to, instead of the rarefied kind I've been in for the last 14 years. There's something to that I think.

We'll see.

February 23, 2011

Sometimes I Don't Know If I Should Keep Going Or Not. Please Don't Answer Like A Sycophant

The opening of "Edwin Musick Falls Apart"


"You've said that before, Dad. You've said it a hundred times before. You always say the same God damn thing every time we watch this movie. You see this movie a hundred times and a hundred times you say the same God damn thing at the same God damn place."
"All I'm saying is Bing Crosby wasn't wearing a jacket in the scene where they walk into the church, and then two seconds later when they light the candles inside he's got a jacket on. Where'd the jacket come from? It’s just another one of those things. People don’t look at it, but pick any movie and there’s cameras in mirrors and microphones overhead and everything. Pick a movie. They screw up all the time."
"And every time you see that shit you say the same thing in the same way every fucking time. Where did the salt shaker go on the table? Why are there no shadows if it’s late afternoon? Why do they have Eddie Collins batting righty in the Black Sox movie? Same thing every damn movie. I don’t know why I come over to watch this shit with you. I really don’t”
“I like it when you come over to watch movies.”
“Yeah but when are you going to come up with something new to say about it? You repeat yourself over and over."
"You don't think it's interesting?"
"Actually Dad? It's fucking boring."
"What about the car you can see in that John Wayne movie? That western where they're going all over buttfuck looking for that girl?"
"I know. I know all about it. You pointed it out to me every time. He shoots the buffalo so the Indians won’t get any meat from it and then there’s a car. I know. We’ve seen it a hundred times, and every time we see it you have to tell me about it all over again. I already fucking know there’s a car. I already fucking know Bing Crosby’s all of a sudden wearing a jacket in the church." The son lights a cigarette.
Edwin Musick pushes four or five peas onto his fork with his fingers. He’s almost done with his plate. He wishes his son would go home already. “And you shouldn’t be smoking those things.”
“Right, Dad.”
“They killed your mother.”
“I know it.”
Everybody said when his wife died twelve years ago he’d fall apart. They had no idea how right they’d be. They should have included his son in that falling apart.
Sometimes Edwin thinks his son is really a prick.
Here he is retired and his wife is dead. There’s never anything to do and it’s hard for him to get around. His son comes over and doesn’t like anything. Then he stinks up the place and goes home mad. Every time. Talk about saying the same thing every time, Edwin thinks, what the hell about that?
“Well, people bought this shit back then,” he points at the screen with his fork. “Now he’s going to take these punks from the street and turn them into a choir because he’s a priest and a fucking genius too. One day they’re stealing turkeys and the next day they’re on the stage with a famous opera singer – who it just so happens he went to high school with. People ate that shit up.”
His son sits behind a cloud of blue smoke. Silent and shaking his head. Watching him point the silverware at the TV, the ceiling, at him. It’s not that he hopes he dies or anything. He’s not that much of a prick. But sometimes he can’t see the point in the old man staying around anymore.
“You could slap a movie together in a few weeks and make a ton of money back then. People didn’t care. Look at Casablanca. They didn’t know it was going to be such an icon. They didn’t know what they had. They just slapped it together. They couldn’t get the people they wanted in it. And when they first come in to Rick’s first Greta Garbo is sitting on one side of her husband and then she’s on the other side from one shot to another.”
“Ingrid Bergman.”
“That’s what I said.”
“You said Greta Garbo.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Dad, you said Greta Garbo is sitting on one side and then the other.”
“No I didn’t. It was Ingrid Bergman.”
“What the fuck ever.”
“What I’m saying is people didn’t care. And now we see all these mistakes and we think, Jesus how stupid were they? But I’m saying people didn’t care. They wanted to be taken away. Swept away and lost. It was the start of the dumbing down of the country. Once the movies started talking and then dramatic radio died people stopped reading. Nobody reads.”
“Dad you know you just now did that other thing again.”
“What other thing?”
“You said ‘nobody reads.’ The way you said ‘nobody reads.’ You say it exactly like that guy in that Peter Sellers movie.”
“Sellers is standing there with an apple and he’s an idiot and he just comes out and says he can’t read. And this guy he’s talking to goes ‘nobody reads.’ You just said it with the exact same voice. You always do that.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Oh come on, Dad. You say movie lines all the time. You don’t even know you’re doing it any more.”
“I do?”
“Yes you do. Either that or you’ve fucked me up with that shit now too. Somebody says something and you say a movie line. Fucking fits perfect but it’s from a movie. It used to drive Mom nuts.”
Edwin takes the last piece of white bread and wipes off the whole plate. Folds the slice and puts it in his mouth all in one. His son closes his eyes. More head shaking. He swallows. “Your mother was a saint.”
“She was.”
“I’m saying yeah.”
“I can’t get out to the grave though. I haven’t been myself lately.”
“It’s okay Dad. They don’t let you put flowers up any more anyway.”
“They used to. Cemeteries used to mean something.”
“Jesus I remember the whole family would go out on a Sunday to my grandma’s grave with flowers and they’d weed the plot and make borders around it with black dirt.”
“And people would cry all over again. Pound the ground and wail and everything.”
“Yeah. Okay. I guess that part was pretty stupid.”
“Yeah. You done with your plate?”
His son puts the cigarette out and gets up. Takes the plate and silverware off the TV table and walks it all into the kitchen. Edwin listens to the water running over the plate in the next room. On the TV screen Bing Crosby and that little Irish actor who was in every movie ever made are sitting at a table eating a stolen turkey. The sound of the water reminds him of the water moving through pipes and into the radiator of his house when he was a boy. His mother always had a fake tree at Christmas. And he’d say “Ma I want a for real tree.” And his mother would say “when you have your own house you can have a for real tree.” Then he grew up and had his own house and they always got for real trees. And his prick of a son would stand there and say “Daddy I want a fake tree.” And he’d say “when you have your own house you can have a fake tree.” And the little prick grew up and puts in fake trees every Christmas. Only he doesn’t have any kids so there’s no one to bug him about a for real tree.
Funny the things the sound of running water does to you when you’re falling apart.
“You sure you can get upstairs alright?” His son came back from the kitchen and asked.
“So now who is repeating themselves? You ask me the same question every time. Every time the same way. Wise guy.”
“Alright then, who the fuck cares?” He wasn’t serious. That’s how they talk. “Is Anna coming in tomorrow?”
“You need me to pick up your room? Clothes all over the place?”
“It’s fine. Honest I don’t understand why we hire a lady to come clean up and then we make sure the house is cleaned up before she gets here. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“I know,” he lights another cigarette. “But that’s how goofy the world is, right Dad?”
The blue smoke billows out between them.
“And you’re stinking up my house.”
“You lived with it for thirty years.”
“And I hated every minute of it. Now go away.”
His son gives him a small kiss on the cheek and goes out the door, already pecking away at his cell phone.
“You smell like an ash tray.”
“See you next week Dad.”
It takes him a while to push the TV tray out so he can get up out of his chair but once he gets started he picks up a little speed along the way. It’s not hard to walk, just hard to get started walking.
Pick up the place so the little Polish lady can come in and pick up the place, he thinks. Every week the same shit.
And every week he has to make sure the porn magazines are put away so she doesn’t think he’s some kind of pervert. Get the socks and shorts up off the floor in the bedroom. Spray the living room with air freshener so he can get the damn cigarette stink out of the furniture. What the hell does he need her for, he wonders every time. It’s a good thing his son is paying for it because if it was up to him, he wouldn’t.
Of course his son left everything in the sink and can’t be bothered to put anything in the dishwasher. So he opens it up and sets his knife and fork in the holder. Sets the plate in the rack.
Bent over like that, his left eye slips out of its socket and falls into a dirty glass sitting next to the silverware. He reaches down to retrieve it and pokes his hand on the tip of his steak knife pointing straight up from the holder. How many times has he told himself not to put the damn steak knives face up like that?
He starts to bleed.
He gets the other hand digging around in the holder while some kind of clear liquid starts to drip from the empty eye socket. He closes that eye lid. Nobody ever told him his socket would leak something the consistency of shampoo every time his glass eye fell out. He figures maybe he probably should have asked.
“If my glass eye falls out will a viscous liquid seep out of the socket until I put it back in?”
“Why yes Mr. Musick I’m glad you asked that. In fact you’re absolutely correct.”
“And what exactly is it that’s dripping out of my open eye socket doctor?”
“I have no idea. I’ve never heard of that before.”
“Yes but you just said I should expect it.”
“Well, does it happen when your eye falls out?”
“Why yes. Yes it does.”
“Then you should expect it.”
He keeps digging around for it amongst the dirty dishes.
It happens a lot.
One time he was at the bar waiting for a table in a restaurant with his wife. They were both having martinis. And it so happened that he cocked his head just right and at that moment the eye fell right out into his drink.
He went in to get it but pulled up the olive. And if his wife didn’t stop him he would have popped the olive in his eye socket by mistake.
Because he can’t see very well out of the one eye he has left anyway. So when it falls out he has to shoot his hand around to find it. God forbid it falls on the floor some day and just rolls off.
It’s all because the glass eye is the wrong size.
It’s always been the wrong size.
He just didn’t want to bother the guy who fit him with it.
So it falls out sometimes. He figures it’s no big deal.
He finds it next to a spoon that was used for the soup at lunch and so it’s a little smudged when he finally gets it in his fingers.
He rinses it off in the sink, and slides it back in.
Without his wife around sometimes he puts it back in a little crooked. It doesn’t matter. The little Polish lady’s never looked him in the face in all the time since she’s been cleaning for him.
He looks down at his hand and sees a stream of blood glistening across his palm. It’s a pretty deep cut. He balls up his hand into a fist to put pressure on the wound while he walks into the bathroom to get a bandage.
He can never seem to find the bandages.
When his wife was alive she always made sure there were enough of them. And whenever they got low she would be sure to replenish them. The one thing he could never figure out was that she kept changing where she put the box. And it was never in an obvious, convenient spot. It was always under the towels or mixed in amongst the boxes of whatever stuff people have stuffed under the sink. So you had to root around between the sanitary napkins and the toilet paper and the bottles of calamine lotion that were twenty thousand years old. Why there were still sanitary napkins under the sink was a question he couldn’t answer.
Maybe the little Polish lady. Who knows.
Anyway that’s what people probably meant when they said he’d fall apart after his wife died. Nobody there to stop him putting an olive into his eye socket.
The bandages aren’t anywhere. Maybe there aren’t any.
The phone rings.
“Edwin? Edwin? Is that you?”
“I’m Edwin. Who are you?”
“It’s Joe. How the hell are you?”
“Joe who?”
“Joe. Joe from Taylor-Morgan. The broker. Oh come on, Joe. For Christ’s sake.”
“I’ll be a son of a bitch.”
“Why not? You always were.”
“What the hell are you doing on my phone? You’re not still working for those crooks are you?”
“Oh Christ no. I retired five years after you did. We both got out in time. That place went under a couple years ago when everything went to shit.”
“Yeah I read that. Too bad for Morgan’s daughter. She was one hot piece of ass.”
“She was already fifty when you retired. What the hell?”
“Yeah well they got a name for that now. Mothers I’d Like To Fuck. It’s all over the internet.”
“Yeah okay. Yeah. She was hot. But how the hell are you? Jesus it’s been years already.”
“I know.”
“How are you doing?”
“I’m okay. I haven’t been myself these days. But I can still drink you under the table.”
The voice laughed. “I’ll bet you still could. I fall asleep after two beers now. But here’s your chance to show me. I’m going to be in town this weekend and I’d like to buy you a drink. You pick the place and the time. I’m buying the first two rounds.”
“Good. Then you can fall asleep and I won’t have to spend a dime on your ass.”
More laughing. “Sweet bloody Jesus you haven’t changed a God damn bit.”
They agree to meet at Spencer’s, a restaurant up at the interstate. Joe knows exactly the exit and Jesus everything is so built up around there now, isn’t it?
They hang up. Saturday at six thirty. And that’s that.
Doesn’t change the fact that his mess has to get picked up before the lady who picks up comes in tomorrow, but it’s something to look forward to. Have to find a way to get there. That could be a problem. His prick of a son will just moan and groan about having to drive him and pick him up somewhere. Screw him, he figures he won’t even ask him. Call a cab. Call a cab to get there and call a cab back. Money was never the problem. He used to be a broker. A big time broker. Back when brokers made money for their clients instead of just selling what the house had too much of. Like Joe said.
It takes a while but he gets up the stairs and picks up the three pairs of socks on the floor. Can’t let the clean-up lady think he lives like a slob. Even if he lives like a slob.


“This is the big thing here in this country. People are a scared of everything. But I assure you, there is no really such a thing as al-Qa'ida. That is invention of the CIA.”
“Yeah. Of course.” Edwin looks across the top of the seat at the young man with the beard and the little white cap made obviously not around here and wonders whatever did he do to deserve this particular cab driver.
“Peoples in America only know one language each. They eat unclean food and have sex in graveyards. This is why I do not want to be buried in a grave here in America. To be lying next to strange womans in the grave. My father would come back from the dead and kill me. He would kill me very hard.”
“That’s interesting.”
“America is a silly country. Everybody is fat. They are a scared of Islam and think every man from there with a beard has a bomb hidden in his haik. Peoples in America say we are all the same from there, never mind the country exactly. People here think the Middle East is all the way to India.”
“Yeah. Geography is a challenge for some people.”
“Do they know where is east or west? I listen to directions from peoples in my cab and I don’t understand them. They think the sun sets in the North. What is education in America? Nothing. Mathematics, literature, science, astronomy, physics, even black holes, this is all in the Qur’an. You can be sure.”
“And the truth is there is no such a thing as al-Qa’ida.”
“Got it. You’re right by God. What a bunch of idiots.”
“You can be sure.”
“Then again you’re dressed in a sheet driving a fucking cab taking me to a restaurant by the highway, and you’re pounding on and on about how stupid America is like I’m not even actually sitting here.”
“Oh no no no no no. I am not being insulting. America is a beautiful country. Very beautiful. Very rich. No no no. I make a lot of money here. There is freedom here. There is no freedom in my country. There are no jobs. This is why young peoples are very angry there at America.”
“So you live in a failed state and it’s my fucking fault, right? Your rulers keep the oil money and it never gets down to the street and this is my fucking problem? It’s my fault?”
“No no no no no. No no no no no.”
“Listen. When I stop being your fucking excuse for living in a shit hole we’ll talk about it, okay in the meantime just get me to my fucking restaurant please and do your fucking job maybe?”
“Mister is very angry with me.”
Edwin can see his pearl white teeth smiling up at him from the rear view mirror.
“I just want to get to my restaurant.”
“Have you ever eaten North Africa cuisine?”
“There’s a cuisine in North Africa?”
“Oh yes. Very much. Morocco, Tunisia, and my country in Algeria. Excellent dishes. We invented much of what you eat here. The better things you eat here. I am from a very, very old city there. Annaba. Very ancient. You know this place?”
“Oh sure.”
“Excellent, excellent food. Many restaurants and cafes. It is wonderful. And I even know of a place you can get pizza.”
Yeah and that’s a good reason to go to Algeria.
He gives the driver his fare plus twenty percent for a tip because he can’t remember what the books say you’re supposed to give a cab driver. This makes the driver very happy and he shows his pearl whites all over again.

and then blah blah blah...

February 22, 2011

Only If You Want To Know

The photo on the right was taken in the 80's. It includes the Beat revival trio known as the Washington Squares and a fellow by the name of Abbie Hoffman.

I post this because I'm a fan of the Squares for a long time. Though folky/acoustic/retro in all aspects (they like to sing old union songs... or did) they also opened for people like Joan Jett and the Ramones back in those days. And I just downloaded one of my favorite tunes of theirs from their rather small book, and I was just browsing into their past a little and up comes a picture of them and Abbie.

Which reminded me of the very very first blogger meet-up I ever in my life attended here in Chicago wherein I happened to mention Abbie Hoffman and drew blank stares from absolutely everyone at the round table. Nobody knew who he was - or had been. And nobody knew what I was talking about when I tried to explain.

Which sticks in my mind (and in my craw) unto this day not because of anyone's ignorance (they all had their priorities straight, after all) but because I realized at that moment that there were aspects of my past that folks just... hey... not interested in. As in what's the big deal? And they'd probably be right.

So I'm home this week just cruisin' for burgers like Farco Barnes and doing my chores and getting stuff in order for the big time change (I'll be working overnight starting next week) and doing a lot of writing too and this struck me as something to say. Notice no links to Abbie's story. It's out there if you want to know. If not, no worries. Oh and I'm not making any $ from the link to the mp3. It's listed because the Squares have one of the weakest internet presences of any nationally distributed groups I ever saw. Blink and you miss 'em.

Okay now I'm going to wait for the city water dept. to come by and try to figure out why they're not getting a water meter signal back at their HQ. Psst - we stopped our house phone line Jan. 1 and went 100% to cell phones, that's why. I'm sure this has happened to your dept. before, dude. I'm sure this isn't the first time you've seen it.

All for now.

February 15, 2011

Future's Uncertain

Anybody on Facebook who reads me knows by now that I'm changing jobs. You also know that one of the reasons I'm changing jobs is because the current job I'm in hasn't paid me since Christmas. I'm not worried it will come so that's not the issue, but I don't see things changing in the construction business for some time and it isn't going to get better soon. There will be the usual spring-summer increase in projects, from which if I don't get the full pay Friday (my last day) I will get it in time. Can't think about that right now though.

I'm doing something I've been thinking about for a while now.

When we were first married my wife was a check-out person at a local food chain and I worked in a print shop. Both of us had to go to work to support ourselves as soon as possible so college wasn't something I ever finished or she even started until well into our married life. Eventually MrsRW became a nurse and from there she's been escalating her game to where she now trains hospital staffs in advanced medical record keeping something-or-other that takes her on the road for one or two weeks a month. I, on the other hand, went from printing to operating a CNC to the unlikely position of sales and made a lot of money during the building boom.

Now that the building boom has turned into the bubble bust you have companies competing for for a smaller and smaller list of jobs. Until the backlog of unoccupied, foreclosed homes gets whittled down new construction (which the company I'm with relies on) will probably not come back. All we're doing now is homes for the super-rich who don't care what the economy is doing, or low-margin renovations. Hence my pay situation.

So I'm going back to the printing world. As in presses and cutters and folders and collators and staplers and gluers and all that kind of thing. It's been about 14 years so there will be a curve through which I will have to re-learn the trades but I figure in a couple of weeks I should have it down. I was lucky enough to have experienced the computerized breakthrough equipment in the industry a little bit before I left it, so I'm hoping I don't look like a complete idiot once I hit the floor again. I started in this trade at 19, and worked for three different companies for almost 25 years - 19 with one before they closed the plant. So it's a bit like coming home.

It's not as lucrative as the job I'm working right now - when I get paid at all - but it will be steady and for all you working people out there the opportunity for "time and a half" looms pretty large around Easter and Christmas. That's because the company I'm working for in two weeks prints and produces fliers, brochures, newsletters, cards, pamphlets, and all manner of paper products strictly and 100% for the Catholic church in America.

Okay you stop laughing now.

Apparently they can't get enough people. There's more work than they can handle and they just added six people. The place is huge and there are three shifts. I'm starting on the overnight shift which works 2 13 and 1 14-hour days in the middle of the week with a 4 day weekend Friday through Monday. It sounds intense, I know, and I'll have to change my internal clock (I've worked 3rd shift before), but the thought of a 4 day weekend offsets any of the other concerns.

I got the job through networking. I know a sales person for a Catholic book publisher who knows two women at a church who use the products of this company and after I'd sent in my application they sort of bombarded the place with recommendations for me. I'm working on sending flowers all around, don't worry!

This sort of makes the point, though, that Monster.com and CareerBuilder and Indeed.com and Snag-A-Job and all those other job sites I've been sending resumes through for the past six months (sometimes 2 a day) and NEVER GOT AN ANSWER FROM have been particularly useless and pointless for me all along. As many times as I sent out applications (and some of these jobs - with my national sales list of builder guys that I know - were perfect fits... oh well) there were never any responses except for bogus multi-level-marketing schemes (read: PONZI). Without a network you got nothing. In my case it was a small group of Catholic church ladies who started a little campaign in my behalf. Well, after the impetus of my friend in the Catholic publishing world.

So I start March 1 and I'm kind of excited because after years of sales and customer service, where your "product" basically has to be made out of thin air, I'm going to once again have my 'product" right in front of me; physical, tangible, and right at hand. It's kind of like that old scene in Coal Miner's Daughter where Loretta Whatshername gets famous and her hick husband goes to work at a car mechanic's and is contented. I've heard people say it sounds like a step down... and though there is a (temporary) dollar hit until I get up to speed I just don't see it that way. I think folks like that are really snobs. Honest work is honest work. I think folks who have a problem with that need to check their luggage on that one.

Now I don't think this will have much to do with the blog here, and I know it's not going to stop the other writing. Plus I've already scaled this down to once a week with determined intent. But who knows? A guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.

Let it roll.

February 07, 2011

Predictable Outcomes

I guess it's becoming obvious. I have officially passed that boundary beyond which a person becomes an agitator and a crank.

During the interminable pregame ceremonial horseshit that happens before the Stupor Bowl I was asked at least once if there was something wrong with me. Once by my own daughter. It wasn't that I was looking like I was sick or had some kind of obvious physical problem or something. If I was really sick no one would say a word. But I guess I'd been rather vocal about what a crock the interminable pregame ceremonial horseshit was. I guess I was vocal to the point of moaning about all the sickly religious God bless our great shit because our shit's the best shit on Earth stuff that they foist on people, who are just happily waiting for two groups of guys in goofy get-ups to start running into each other with malintent at ridiculously high speeds.

I suppose I was rather vocal in my assessment of the proceedings. I guess my comments could be seen as inflammatory. But I should probably also be ashamed of my own predictability.

I was just observing and expressing those observations. I mean right after my family's obligatory race jokes (which are usually centered around the predisposition of some genetic stock to have big lips) everyone sat in reverent amazement at the beauty of our great land when the great blond sang the greatest national anthem in history. They were probably too mesmerized by the fact that "see," "hail," and "brave" had now been expanded to seventeen syllable words. Everyone was so quiet and respectful in their chairs I thought somebody was going to cry. But nobody noticed she sang "reaming" instead of "gleaming," and the person in the kitchen (who was compelled to laugh at all the commercials - even the ones that weren't funny - because this is where the laugh track has to come in) just loves that singer, whoever she was.

I said something in a faux-announcer's voice along the lines of "and now to honor America we proudly present Up With People who will perform the song 'America The Beautiful is Gonna Kick Your Little Commie Ass' from the hit Broadway musical 'Coons And Chinks' in four part harmony accompanied by the WWJB - Who Would Jesus Bomb - Marching Band from Puff Bluff Arkansas."

I don't think that went over too well.

I think my sarcasm was too obvious. That's what tipped it off. I put my hand on my heart and cocked my head as if I was moved in a God Isn't That Great double take when somebody mentioned that we have some representative of our armed forces in 137 countries. I'm sitting there going "WTF are we doing in 137 countries" and everybody else is like "That's so cool, we're in 137 countries." Military personnel in 137 countries protecting our shores. Our great shores next to our great oceans and our fields and valleys. Our great cities. Our tasty water. My land. My air. My waste treatment plants and my public schools with our metal detectors to keep my holy guns out so great American ten year olds don't start happily murdering each other when they pull their great guns out of their great iCarly lunchboxes.

So I kind of put a sock in it once the commercials started. I didn't want to get in the way of what most of the women were watching TV for. Except I didn't really think what people were laughing at was all that funny and every once in a while there was a nervous laugh that didn't even belong there because the commercial wasn't even trying to be funny. What the hell?

Football is very much a product of our great country, somebody said once and I'm paraphrasing now because I can't remember who. We have these strategy meetings punctuated by brief moments of extreme violence, and then we sell stuff.

Now don't get me wrong I do enjoy football. I never miss my Bears and have been a lifelong fan of theirs so that you could say I do bleed blue and orange. But if I ever get to the point where I think it's this shiny American thing that is so amazing we can justify giving neanderthals who can't speak in complete sentences millions upon untold millions of dollars because they can run and jump and throw... just shoot me, okay? If you don't have or can't find a gun just go down to the nearest elementary school. I'm sure you could borrow one of the ones they'd confiscated.

We're the greatest country on Earth. Full of people we can't stand. It was a nightmarish horror when hijacked planes killed 3,000 innocent people whose only crime was they went to work one morning. But you have to know that somewhere someone - in the back of their mind - said "well, that's 3,000 potential bad drivers I don't have to contend with."

It's predictable.