Saturday, May 29, 2010

Well, That Didn't Work

Why am I not surprised?

It's all theatre. No, wait, it's musical comedy. "Theatre" would encompass the likes of the Fall of the House of Atreus, but that's some serious shit that carries with it an implication that there's somebody around who cares. Instead, what we have here are some third-rate song-and-dance men, a wink-wink/nudge-nudge plot, and some glib patter laid atop a catchy tune.
... The cowboys, the wrestlers, the tumblers, the clowns
The roustabouts that move the show at dawn
The music, the spotlights, the people, the towns
Your baggage with the labels pasted on
The sawdust and the horses and the smell
The towel you've taken from the last hotel
There's no business like show business ...
Gets your feet tapping, don't it? Makes you want to dance. Makes you want to go into the show business!

Come on, everybody, sing along with me!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

'Scuse Me While I Climb Up on This Roof

That's where people in New Orleans go when it all gets to be too much for us. Up on the roof. In the heat. Water (or, in this case, oil) a-rising. Time was, that's where we'd sit and wait for help to come.


That's not what I want to say. That's not where I want to go.

I don't care anymore. I'm too old and too tired to get worked up over every disaster to come along and threaten somebody's way of life. I don't have the room for it in my life anymore.

The fact is, corporations exist to make a profit and devour whatever resources are available to help them achieve that goal. The most successful are the ones most adept at changing diet when the original resources are depleted. After all, as a BP representative made clear to us a few days ago, there are other places we can get our shrimp from than from down along the coast.

Another fact is, our governments exist to placate the palates of these corporate magnates like the wait staff at Commander's Palace.

That's just the way of the world. Always has been. The only difference in today's world is that the curtain that once shielded these activities from the sight of the so-called common man has been yanked aside, laid bare, revealed.

And the general reaction has been, So?

There's a new transparency afoot. Greed is good. Blessed is he who's already got his. Do unto others before the bastard can fuck you over first.

And those eleven men whose remains float lost beneath the oily surface of the Gulf of Mexico? When you remember them - if you remember them, whoever they may be - remember this: they gave their lives to make America great and to give you a standard of living, the likes of which our forebears could never have conceived.

If you have some kind of problem with any of this, well, why don't you just climb up on that roof of yours, lay down in the sun, and wait for some boat to come along and pick you up? You'll be beef jerky before it does.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So ...

I need a new computer. No ifs, ands, or buts. The big boy is junk. In fact, he's morally, ethic'lly, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably dead.

Any suggestions on a replacement? Remember, it has to be capable of taking on the contents of my current hard drive; and I know I'll have to have someone do this transmigration (is that the word I'm looking for?), so I'm willing to forgo the porn. (It's not serious porn [not most of it, anyway] just pinup stuff.)

Oh, and it needs to have enough memory, or whatever it is that it needs, to run graphics software. I do a lot of picture stuff.

Anybody ... ?

Monday, May 17, 2010

My World and Welcome to It

It is a testament to the lack of housing for the young, cool, hip, and ill-mannered that the main house where I live is already fully-inhabited following the period of reconstruction which followed, in its turn, the great fire of aught-eight. The landlord wasted no time in stuffing bodies back into the newly refurbished four stories up front on Decatur Street.

As I say, most of the new neighbors are on the lesser side of 30-something, and, to my mind, they are strange. First of all, they don't speak to us, to Bobby and me. I've bumped into a couple of them from time to time in the courtyard and said hello, but they don't respond. When I say they don't respond, I mean they don't seem to hear me or see me. It's as if we occupy separate planes of existence. It's got be something like that cause my physical presence is not easy to miss.

One day, I was explaining this to Corey, one of the maintenance guys. He pooh-poohed my impression, trying to convince me I was wrong about "the kids". He even took it on himself to introduce me to Number Seven who was even then piddling in the laundry room, Downy-ing her lady-lacies. He talked to her. She talked to him. Back and forth until he told her to come on out and meet Bob and me. Then there was silence. No response. No appearance. It was as if she had vanished into that spectral plane and was gone. Corey now has a new-found respect for my psychic gifts.

The guy who was going to move into the apartment right next door to us finally did. He's strange, too. He's a waiter (I think at the Court of Two Sisters), and he always refers to me as "sir". I don't like being called "sir" outside of a retail establishment. In my home environment I'm Glenn, the copacetic dude. But he won't stop calling me "sir". He's really strange. He has no discernible furniture. He keeps his shutters closed and locked. Never turns on his lights (he's never thought to close the shutters on the window to his kitchen - that's how I know). There have been times I've noticed him, from behind the central green pane of my stained-glass front door, ushering people into his apartment before closing and locking the shutters once again; and they're there for days. Sometimes, while I'm in my little upstairs office, I can hear him making muffled sounds on the other side of the left-hand wall over here. And they're not the kind of muffled sounds you're thinking of. They're colored in the deep, dark purple hues of despair.

There appear to be a couple who have taken the garret apartment up on the fourth floor. One's middle-aged and balding, the other one looks like an over-aged club kid with the occasional pimple outbreak still and a fleur de lys tattoo on his right calf. But I don't think he's local. I think he moved here from somewhere else after the storm and got his tattoo because he thought it was cool to have a fleur de lys like he was a real New Orleanian. They don't talk to us either. Strange.

I've noticed something else, too ever since these people moved into the building. My Internet connection has gotten very slow. It's a DSL that  used to work fine. Now it's like a dial-up. I think these people are using up all the phone lines. It ain't right.

Something else that isn't right is they're always washing clothes. Day and night, night and day, wash and dry, wash and dry. That laundry room ain't big enough for all of us. Good thing I gave up my fruit-of-the-looms when I retired.

Another thing that's crossed my consciousness, and this one ain't too bad: the hot water gets hotter a lot faster than it used to when we were alone on the property.

Of course, I can't walk around outside nekkid anymore with all these people around. They may inhabit different planes of existence than I do, but some things can't be ignored.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

One Quick Final Note ...

... Before I say goodnight.

Tonight I had to journey down out of the Quarter to the Marigny neighborhood in order to attend the Marquee Awards ceremony. The entire cast of The Glass Menagerie (all four of them!) were nominated! Yay!

Three of them won.

Let's not go there.

What I want to say tonight is this. Before the ceremony began, a young lady approached me and asked me how one goes about directing a play. I told her the secret was to cast it properly and then to learn how best to accept compliments.

Little did I know, she would step onto the stage a few minutes later and repeat my advice to the entire assembled gathering as gospel. Of course, what I should have said was, "Cast the play with the best, most gifted actors you can find, give them a loose rein - remembering to work closely with each of them, helping them to fine tune their performances, while always keeping the bar slightly beyond their reach - and then ... learn to accept compliments."

Unfortunately, the deed - and the damage - was done. I had humility-ed myself down to the status of a carny-barker charlatan. And, though on occasion, I may be a clown, I am never a con.

Awards and their accompanying events are not for me, it seems. I'm a working stiff, a dray horse.

During the course of the evening, a young actor I have come to know by working with him, Nick Slie, won an award as lead actor in Loup Garou, and accepted several other awards in place of other recipients for the production itself. In his final spin at the podium, he said something to the effect that we do what we do because we are called upon to do it. The theatre, to riff on what Nick had to say, is a vocation; it is a means to communicate the needs of a community to itself and to a wider public, whether by means of jazz hands or the empty, pleading palms of two bums at a crossroads near a tree.

"From the mouths of babes" - for Nick is a young-un ... That is the meaning of my theatre.

Theatre is personal. It is you, him, her, and me.

Theatre is sideshow. It is carnival. It is the tipsy drinker marking his steps down the path to his home. It is an ancient king disowning a loving daughter. It is whatever you see that makes you consider the ultimate denouement to man's existence.

It is made by people who can do nothing else.

It is, finally, a priesthood.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Who Da Man?

I be da man. 'S right, you guessed it. I'm back on the desktop this morning, hands flashing across this wide-ass keyboard like eagles' wings against the sky. I fixed this sucker.

I think.

Remember, I'd had a similar problem before, and it had turned out to be my registry having too many errors? Well, while sitting downstairs touring the Internets with my fingers fluttering across my lap, I came across a program that said it fixes registries. For a nominal fee I could cover my ass for the next two years. I forked it over and installed it on the laptop.

It worked.

Now all I had to do was get the old tower to boot up.

On Saturday, I mustered up the nerve to give it a shot (okay, Bobby's nagging helped). After a few seconds of anxious doubt, a black screen appeared and offered me the choice of starting up in this "mode" or that one or "the last known configuration that worked". I chose the last known configuration that worked, and it worked.

I had copied the registry-fixing exe file to a CD. I installed it and ran it. Little fella found over two thousand errors and did what it could to correct them. Didn't do a bad job either, got rid of all but nineteen of them.

Then it was time for the big test: Would this thug restart?

I said yes with trepidation and covered my eyes.

It worked. My baby was alive again! He's been thriving ever since.

Oh, yeah. I be da man.

However, I did replace the dirty-picture wallpaper with one of the Windows generics. You know, just in case it all blows up, and I have to have a professional take a look at it. Wouldn't want the screen to spring to life and flash all those nasty bits in someone's unsuspecting face.

I may be da man, but my mama didn't raise no fool.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Money Matters

I really hate talking about money so much, but when so much of it keeps being hurled in my face like a baker's dozen of meringue pies in the hands of Moses Harold Horwitz, I have to react.

Every year, people who work (or worked) for the Great State of Louisiana (I can't even write that with a straight face) get a chance to adjust their insurance policies. They can switch from a PPO to an HMO or an EMO (or is that an EHO?) or any other combination a state worker (or retiree) can think of. You only have one chance to do this before it's locked in for the following twelve months.

Normally, I don't bother with this. I keep my same old plan that I've had for several years. But this year was different cause little Bobbie J went and put his fingers in the pie and made a kind of a mess of it, something he seems prone to do with ease. So I had some concerns. This morning, there was a meeting held not far from my home where some employees of the Office of Group Benefits would try to convince us suckers that what was left of the pie was still perfectly edible - and tasty, too. So I went.

I needn't have bothered. My situation won't be so badly affected. Even if it were, I decided, after about twenty-seven minutes into the ubiquitous Power Point presentation, what could I do about it anyway?

I did find out one new little tidbit, though, and this is really an inspired bit of pettifoggery. It may not be new, but I sure never had it explained to me before. It's this. If one has a life insurance policy with the Great State of Louisiana (God, that's fucking funny!), the powers that be in Baton Rouge have injected a little small-print caveat down near the bottom of that policy paper. And it's a good one. Here's how it's going to work: If a state worker lives to the ripe old age of sixty-five (does anybody get that old nowadays?), his policy payout is reduced by 25%. If he has the temerity to continue on to the age of seventy, it's reduced by another 25%. So, for the sake of plain speaking, something like, say, a $50,000.00 life insurance policy thereby metamorphoses into a $25,000.00 life insurance policy.

Somebody has found a way to penalize us for living.

All I can say is, if I croak before my sixty-fifth birthday, I sure as hell hope my beneficiary has an airtight alibi.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Making Do

This will probably be the most difficult post I've ever had to write ...

Now before you go getting all concerned about my health, mental or otherwise; before you go looking for the PayPal Donation link in the sidebar over there - relax. I'm still capable of crawling out of this well on my own. Unlike, say, oh ... British Petroleum ... ?

No. What I mean to say is I'm just typing this on my laptop computer. And my hands, chunky, clunky, fat, and flabby, were made more for pounding on the much wider keyboard of a big old desktop PC. Putting my fingers in the right places on this delicate little thing is like hand-stitching the hem on a pair of lacy panties. (Do lacy panties have hems?)

See, late last week, my trusty tower seemed to give up the ghost and conked out. This happened not long ago and I spent a lot of money getting it fixed. The fixer told me at the time that my registry was all screwed up. This appears to be more of the same, and I intend to take a shot at fixing it on my own when I find myself in a better attitudinal state. I do not have the money at hand to get it fixed right now, and I'm not sure that fixing it is even worthwhile when I can get a new one at not much more than the cost of reparation.

So, for now, I find myself typing typos on this tiny toy while sitting at my kitchen table rather than hulking down in my warm and womb-like office upstairs.

And that was only the cherry on top of a downer of a couple of weeks.

"What's been going on?" you ask.

Well, let's see, there was that surprise bill from the lawyer "friend" who wasn't going to charge me for that minor (and scant) legal service he provided me last year. That caught me off guard, for sure. You know, if I believed in the power of Satan in the modern world, I'd study law and spend the rest of my life taking advantage of the disadvantaged. But, no, like Anne Frank, "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."

Yeah, look what happened to her.

Next thing you know, I get a bill from Quest Diagnostics telling me I neglected to pay them twenty dollars for blood work a few months ago. I thought I had, so before sending them another check, I delved into my bank account and found I had indeed paid it already. I called them up and was not-so-politely told I'd better get proof of that payment and fax it to them before they set a team of bloodhounds on my trail. I asked if I could email the proof since I didn't have ready access to a fax machine, and the lady told me, no. I won't tell you what I told her.

Quest followed up my call to them with a series of calls to me. Finally, someone over there, offered me an email address I could respond to; I contacted my bank to get a copy of the proof that I'd paid; and I sent it to them.

I wonder now why the customer is always the one who has to provide evidence that someone on the staff of the service-provider corporation didn't do the job for which they're paid a reasonable minimum wage?

It's little shit like that that will wear you down.

Then there was that spreading oil spew out in the Gulf! I tell you, if that's anything like when Bobby pours grease down the kitchen sink, we're fucked. But, hey, what the hell, "let's keep dancing, let's break out the booze and have a ball."

I find I may be losing my faith in the nobility of man. We're a greedy, selfish, arrogant lot. When we finally vanish from the face of the earth, I think it will be of our own doing; and the planet, like a bed-burning wife, will finally get a good night's sleep.

Which is something I'm looking forward to now that I've had my say.

Oh, and before I forget, I'd like to take a moment to wish Bobby a happy anniversary. Thirty-four years! Jeez!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Is Anybdy There?"

"Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I we see?" An editorial from the NY Times:
President Obama has ordered a freeze on new offshore drilling leases as well as a “thorough review” into what is almost sure to be the worst oil spill in this country’s history — exceeding in size and environmental damage the calamitous Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989.

There are many avenues to pursue. Here are two: the oil company’s response, and Mr. Obama’s. The company, BP, seems to have been slow to ask for help, and, on Friday, both federal and state officials accused it of not moving aggressively or swiftly enough. Yet the administration should not have waited, and should have intervened much more quickly on its own initiative.

A White House as politically attuned as this one should have been conscious of two obvious historical lessons. One was the Exxon Valdez, where a late and lame response by both industry and the federal government all but destroyed one of the country’s richest fishing grounds and ended up costing billions of dollars. The other was President George W. Bush’s hapless response to Hurricane Katrina.

Now we have another disaster in more or less the same neck of the woods, and it takes the administration more than a week to really get moving.

The timetable is damning. The blowout occurred on April 20. In short order, fire broke out on the rig, taking 11 lives, the rig collapsed and oil began leaking at a rate of 40,000 gallons a day. BP tried but failed to plug the well. Even so, BP appears to have remained confident that it could handle the situation with private resources (as did the administration) until Wednesday night, when, at a hastily called news conference, the Coast Guard quintupled its estimate of the leak to 5,000 barrels, or more than 200,000 gallons a day.

Only then did the administration move into high gear.

In addition to a series of media events designed to convey urgency — including a Rose Garden appearance by the president — the administration ordered the Air Force to help with chemical spraying of the oil slick and the Navy to help lay down oil-resistant booms. It dispatched every cabinet officer with the remotest interest in the disaster to a command center in Louisiana and set up a second command post to manage potential coastal damage in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

There are, of course, other questions to be asked. We do not know what caused the blowout or the fire, or why the valves that are supposed to shut off the oil flow in an emergency did not work.

We do not know whether there were other steps BP — and Transocean, the rig’s owner and operator — could have taken to prevent the blowout, and what steps, including new technologies, that can be taken to prevent such accidents in the future.

What we do know is that we now face a huge disaster whose consequences might have been minimized with swifter action.
In the meantime, I guess we're just supposed to go out to the Fairgrounds and dance.
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