Monday, January 26, 2004

Blogging in its purest form

. . . is a vent, a pure unadulterated outpouring of thoughts, doubts, misgivings and fears on the part of the blogger. And so it goes . . . I am having a day where the world seems full of converging and diverging paths that involve varying levels of commitment and fearlessness to tread. The easy paths lead to places that I don't want to go. The hard ones are narrow, bordered by thickets and unknown dangers . . . but lead off into the unbordered horizon.

Poetic, yes? Well, if only life were so poetic.

Don't like my job. Need a new job. Don't want one like it. Want a different job. Want something that I can get excited about, where I don't spend all day in a cold sweat wondering what I've screwed up that nobody is going to tell me about. Wondering what other people are saying about me behind closed doors.

But I am coming to the conclusion that whatever path I take toward what I actually want to do is going to take one or more of the following commitments:

1. More school
2. Moving to a big city
3. Working crazy hours for a year until I gain enough clout to say now when people ask me to work said crazy hours
4. Putting my work on the line for dissective criticism

Strangely enough, the scariest one for me is at the end, number 4 . . . I'll move to Detroit. I'll commit to another year of grueling education. I'll commit to a 50 hour week. But it's the last one that gives me the willies the most. That's what I'm most afraid of- people telling me that my writing is crap.

I need a change . . . oh, God how I need a change. But the whole putting yourself "Out There" thing has never been for me, which is probably why I am still single. I can take adventure, stress or challenges . . . it's rejection that gets to me.

But in either arena, you won't learn or accomplish anything unless you make that critical leap, that act of sticking your neck out and closing your eyes and hoping you don't feel anything colder than a raindrop on the exposed skin. That's what life is all about . . . weighing the pros, the cons, then making a decision. And I guess I'm beginning to realize that I'll have to do that sooner or later . . . possibly later due to present commitments . . . but at some point. I can't blame anyone but myself if I don't.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

First Kyoto, now this?

Yahoo! News - U.S. sets off furor in anti-obesity fight

Grr. It seems to me that Curious George has three main prerogatives in regards to the way the rest of the world percieives Americans:

1. We must be seen as the world's heaviest polluters (Kyoto)
2. We must be seen as the most irrationally trigger-happy (Iraq)
3. We must remain as fat as possible (WHO initiatives)

These were wrong decisions for so many reasons . . . but I think it mostly speaks to just how little G-dub cares about the health and wellbeing of poor and lower-middle class citizens. It is these people who are faced with the consequences of spreading pollution, who send their kids off to the army to pay for college, and who are most likely to become obese. Why? Why are the fat suddenly the poor while the wealthy- once worshippers of extra, wealth-indicating flesh are now the bony little minions they are today? Because fat is cheap. Once upon a time, the wealthy ate suckling pig while the poor rationed out salted fish for weeks . . . Now the salted fish is served with a kicky mole sauce at Spagos. Meanwhile, the working poor are daily confronted with the burning question: "Do you want to supersize it for an extra 39 cents?"

Personal trainers, leisure time . . . all are now relegated to the wealthy while the poor can barely find enough time to put dinner on the table for the kids, much less work off that dinner in a facility or outdoors. The snack isle is packed with low-priced treats . . . high in fat and sugar. Look at the lists of allowable food on any food stamp package or welfare food ticket- cheese, eggs, meat, scant portions of vegetables and fruits, except those of the sugary, preservative-laden, canned variety. These factors lead to an obese poor- with later consequences of diabetes and heart disease. Add to that the negative impact of working in polluted (or polluting) conditions- conditions with asbestos, carbon monoxide and ozone in the atmosphere- and the obese working poor don't have a very good shot to seeing their 70s.

Go to a Wal Mart. Go to a public swimming pool in the summertime. Poor children are obese, too. Why? Because healthy food- real, not prepackaged- food is scarce and expensive. Compare the cost of fresh vegetables to a canned alternative. Health, it seems, is becoming a luxury. It's cheaper -and easier- to give kids an ironically-named Happy Meal than to make them something. And the food companies are only too happy to jump on this opportunity . . . colorfully labeled salty snacks, brightly colored "fruit snacks" that are mostly corn syrup . . .and endless gallons of sugary sodas fill the gap once occupied by milk and a PBJ. When a bag of Doritos is cheaper than a bag of baby carrots . . . we have a problem.

What's making people fat? Laziness . . . metabolic differences (to an extent) . . . cheap, bad food, and video games. But poverty makes people fat, too. And just like Bush didn't care when the poor were losing their jobs, he doesn't care when they are becoming morbidly obese and prematurely dying of *preventable* illnesses. He doesn't care about the people who keep waving their flags and putting "United We Stand" stickers on their pickup trucks. As much as they would like to think he does, he doesn't . . . and I hope someday they realize that.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Granny Rant says it all . . . as usual

Granny Rant
I heart Granny Rant. The woman is wise, I tell you. And she makes me wonder just how many other grannies are out there- at home all day with the news going, getting angrier and angrier then sitting down to blog it all out.

In today's episode, Granny takes on Mainstream Media, and I am so glad she does. So many older people take the news as gospel, and those insipid newsmags (Dateline, etc) just feed off of their fears. Your toothbrush- how many ways can it kill you? Join Stone Phillips at 10 to see what Oral B doesn't want you to know! It's unfortunate because a lot of retired and elderly people are from the age when the media was somehow more noble than it is today- they told you what was happening, they showed you pictures, no spin no sensationalism. Just news. I'm sure a myriad of things were covered up back in the 50s by the media. But at least they weren't covered by crap (see: Jackson, Michael: Media blitz of).

So what I'm getting at, I guess, is that the media is not noble, that older people are victimized daily by spin journalism, and all information is ultimately controlled by our favorite unelected simian. And, I guess what that means, by extension, is that daily I am less and less upset that I am unlikely to ever get back into the media. It is bothering me less and less that I might spend the rest of my life writing in some capacity for advertising purposes . . . after all, there's something honest about the openness with which advertising embraces its dishonesty. Advertising is all about promises, it's magic, it's a dog-and-pony-show meant to tempt you and seduce you into buying something, using something.

If I write a line of copy that says you will feel younger and meet beautiful young women just by driving THIS car . . . it grabs you, pulls you into the circus tent, and makes you sit for the show. And you *will* buy that car. It may or may not deliver, but that's not the point. You bought it. My job is done.

Ads do not pretend to be true or important. Ads pick and choose what truth to expose, but they're supposed to. The news, well, the news does that too now and while we see endless photos of a hideously disfigured shadow of a former entertainment god as he disintegrates into the past . . . as we see the repeated reel of grainy video as a bearded former dictator is poked and prodded and tongue-depressed by a military officer (ick, by the way- who's the poor army doc who had to tell Sadaam to say "ah" after he'd spend who knows how long in his little hidey hole?), as we watch Paris Hilton wearing Versace napkins carefully assembled into an outfit while the talking heads discuss her internet-ready sex tapes, there are Americans and Iraqis dying in the dust. There are children who die never seeing a penny of Bush's promised AIDS relief. There are Americans who are cleaning out their lockers at the John Deere plant after receiving the news that operations are moving to Mexico.

More importantly, though, are the ways in which news has *become* advertising. Bush's landing on the aircraft carrier in his little spacesuit- a commercial, inarguably so. Bush's speeches in factories, wearing a hard hat and denims. His "brush clearing" for the camera in Carharts and cowboy hat. This is all dress up. It's an illusion. It has all the depth, honesty, and substance of an airbrushed J.Lo hawking her perfume line.

I am comfortable writing for the world . . . and for a long time, I thought that meant writing the news, writing about what is going on and not about how people should think about it. But now I know that the most one can ask for in a writing career is being engaged in an honestly dishonest business. Many people think that turning from journalism to advertising means a gain in pay (true) but a sacrifice in integrity. I think it's a little more complicated than that.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Atkins is crap . . . but not entirely

Atkins Nutritionals: Home
Pfft. Atkins. Don't people realize that simply by thinking about how much they eat and eating less, they are losing weight? It's not about the evil magical malice of carbs that will you to become fat. It's what people in other countries (usually due to periods of starvation) have known for decades. Not eating stuff makes you thin.

The French have five courses each night, but each course runs you a max of five or six bites. Breakfast might be two pieces of toast. Lunch is a salad, or lunch is the big meal of the day and dinner will be a small pot of stew or something. It's not that carbs make us fat . . . it's that HUGE AMOUNTS OF FOOD make us fat. I'm no nutritionist, but I have to think that just the act of thinking about what one eats, instead of just mindlessly shoving handfuls of potato chips into one's mouth or half-mindedly "supersizing it" when nobody needs that much food.

I think that that's really the most infuriating part of American culture for me. Nobody is willing to make sacrifices, nobody is willing to live small. As soon as someone has the credit rating and the downpayment for it, they buy a HUGE FREAKIN SUV when the most time they will ever spend off-road is when they park it on gravel at the KOA Kampground. HUNGRY MAN dinners. SUPER Walmarts. BIG recliners with phone and web access. 3,000 square foot houses for three people. We are flamboyantly fat and lazy. The American Dream has stopped being about getting enough and is now about getting it all. And it doesn't seem that anyone is arguing with it . . . except the French who, as we all know, don't know crap about being happy. They only have 32 hours of vacation time a year, are thin and beautiful, and drink and smoke and tan and die at 114. Man, why couldn't this country have been settled by the Mediterreaneans?

Interview today- a little nervous, but I think I'm ready to go. Gotta go- work to do and a short day to do it. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

New Look! Titles and Everything!

As life is always in flux, I can hardly blame the desire to have a fresh shiny new blog on any significant changes in my life . . . Okay, okay, the Queer Eye For the Straight Blog guys came over and said it was too 70s and they gave me an update. Now I have a beachy new blog and no longer shave against the grain!

At any rate, I should stop screwing around with this and get back to work. Arivederci!(or whatever)

Welcome to McClain Finlon
I've got an interview, la la la la laaaa la!
On Friday I'll brave the tides of Denver traffic to get to this ad agency for an interview . . . for the very important job of proofreader. Yay!
I am still working out the logistics of driving to Denver every day. But we'll see how it goes. The bus is always an option, I suppose.

I can't hide the thrill of interviewing at the highest (not second highest, as previously thought) earning ad agency in the Denver Metro area. And Denver is great- though the driving would suck it might be nice to actually get used to spending my days in the city.

But most of all it will be nice to say I'm leaving here for there (if it comes to that) because they will see that I can do better. It's like breaking up with Jon Favreau because he treated you like you weren't good enough . . . and then showing up at a party with Orlando Bloom. It shows that you can do better, that you have done better. That it's their loss. That you're working for the "enemy" now.

Bush wants to build a town on the moon. What a freakin' idiot. Why do they let him talk? Does he think there's oil on the moon? Does he think that the American taxpayers haven't been screwed enough by the $87 billion Iraq debacle and that they will willingly pony up the dough to build lunar suburbs? Or perhaps his buddies want to try and exploit Chinese workers out there, where trade is much less regulated.

No, I think the truth is that he thinks America owns the moon, and so can do whatever the hell it wants with it. The Bush ADDministration (get it? ADD- attention deficit disorder-ministration) wants to get its grubby paws on anything not explicitly defined as "not ours." It's like hotel towels. Nothing really explicitly says you can't take them. It's just common courtesy and common sense to leave them where they are. The thing is, Iraq's oil, the moon, the rights of Chinese factory workers, the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and women't health are NOT up for grabs! They are proprietary- however ambiguously- to something. To individuals, to nature, to something. Not everything that doesn't belong to Russia or France or China implicitly belongs to the US.

Settlements on the moon, instatement of a women's health gag rule, continuing doublespeak regarding the middle east . . . I think I'll just move to Paris for a while.

When you are young in America, you learn things that you think are incontrovertable truths. Love conqers all, your parents are the most perfect people of all, working hard will make your dreams come true, and America is the best country in the whole wide world. Then we grow and learn that Love is not always enough, that your parents are decidedly imperfect, that working hard can sometimes just make your boss' dreams come true and that well, America is too big and varied and crazy to be the best country in the world. Parts of it are great- the principles upon which it was founded, the vast natural beauty, the relative peace among people of different religions and backgrounds. But the people who truly love these things-- people like me-- know that there is always the threat of people who want to take what makes this country great and pervert it for their own means. They're doing it right now. But it can't last forever. And I will come back when it gets better.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Contract Worker's Bill of Rights

I am now officially an On Demand employee. Stupid company thought they could get through a huge backlog without me while training not one, not two, but THREE new employees. He he. They are now saying they'll keep me around through the end of February. So that means that I have until March to find something else. And I already have a couple of prospects . . . Life is getting good again.

This place goes through more personnel changes than Destiny's Child. And that joke has a shelf life for maybe another two years before it will make sense to no one.

This is my last weekend with Lizzie, which sucks. I almost miss her more when she's here . . . But it's beautiful outside and I'm getting out of work a little early, which is wonderful. That's life- good stuff, bad stuff, no pattern or distribution or anything, but all at once. You can't have a perfectly good nor a perfectly bad week. Even in your best week you'll burn toast, even in your worst week, you'll laugh at something.

So, yeah, I've got until March. Which seems like a long ways off, but months go by fast. And I'm not at all stopping my job search. I don't really trust this company and I don't have a contract yet. I can learn . . . in fact, despite the beliefs expressed by some people, I am a pretty quick learner.

On a sad note, my great-aunt Charlotte died yesterday. She was into her eighties and had had a recent stroke, which left her in the care of her daughter. So, it was time. She was a great artist and a very kind lady. I hadn't seen her in a long time.

I should go- get some editing done before I take off . . . so until next time-