March 31, 2011

Squickiness With A Bacon Chaser

  • The other kind of "green" light bulbs: Represent.
  • "I always made one prayer to God, a very short one. Here it is: "O Lord, make our enemies quite ridiculous!" God granted it." - Voltaire in a letter to Étienne Noël Damilaville (1767)
  • A man was killed after he broke through a window at the Petersen Center.  (He may or may not have yelled "HIKE" beforehand; I'm not really sure whether that's relevant since everyone seems to agree on what seems to me the pertinent point; namely that he ran towards the window.)  Anyway, do we really need the photo of the broken glass?  A picture of the building showing the empty window could actually clarify the story a bit by illustrating the height involved...  but the photo of the glass fragments just seems kind of morbid/gratuitous/voyeuristic.  
  • Don't really want to eat at Denny's; nevertheless may steal their idea and make bacon-maple sundaes for dessert.

March 30, 2011

They Say It's Spring

I get the passage of time--tempus friggin' fugit, as a friend of mine used to say--and the change of the seasons and upheaval and all.

What I don't get is how it can rain and snow at the same time.  There's a reason the great standard isn't called "April In Pittsburgh."  What does Spring bring to The Burgh?  Poetry?  Romance? Chestnuts in blossom?  Nope.  Rain and snow all at one time.  Maybe some sort of psychedelic freak-out would be in order.  I'd write it, but dontcha know, my Moog is in the shop.

What is it about this place that makes me love it, despite the godawful weather and the broken-down shell of the old ward-heeler political system and the weird compulsion to close all the stores at 5PM?  Why am I sitting here in the living room of my battered little rowhouse, feeling slightly unfaithful as I think of all the D.C. apartment layouts I've greedily eyed?

My city is as flawed and as enamored of its past glories and as Luddite as I can be.

My city cleans up pretty well, as it turns out.  And it makes me laugh.  And it's familiar, but it never stops surprising me.

Oh, roots, why won't you decide whether you're holding me upright or tripping me?

Rainy Evening Music

Continuing my Nat Cole kick, because some habits really don't need to be broken:

Covering All The Bases, Part II: Fun With Algorithms!





I...  have managed things...  and I know a GM or two...  and I know people who have played golf...  and I have dated...  So.  Yep.  Spot on.

March 29, 2011

Beacons and Trolls




  • Scientists Plan To Drill All The Way Down To Earth's Mantle... amazingly, as of this posting, nobody in the comment thread has made a joke about plugging up the hole with duct tape.  But there's some quality geek humor and--of course!--climate-change-denying trolls.  (That's why there are no comments on this site.  I could post Grandma's notorious shrimp dip recipe, and someone would manage to shoehorn the "debate" over climate change, or worse yet the bullshit vaccine/autism link, into a response.)

  • Did you hear the anguished cry of the entire Internet saying "nooooooooo!!!" today?  Here's why! 

March 28, 2011

You Know What Makes This Bird Go Up?

FUNDING makes this bird go up.



So it's a good idea to treat those pesky pilots with respect.  Even include them in the design process.  Because, at the end of the day, that oh-so-marketable story comes from the crew rather than the vessel.    

Wishin' And Hopin'

Locally, at least, the resume has been thoroughly shopped around.  I've applied to every job in the Burgh that sounds like it's up my alley.  There are some intriguing possibilities, organizations that could really use someone who can: write a mean direct mail appeal, manage the hell out of a database, defuse a diplomatic crisis, compose a heartwarming thank-you note AND recruit volunteers, all whilst rockin' a skirt suit.  (Or if I luck out and land somewhere casual-ish, a really loud Lilly Pulitzer.)    

Don't let it get around too much*, but I'm actually pretty talented.  Underused muscles are a-itchin' to be flexed.  

*Uh, on second thought, do.

Yes, the resumes have been loosed from the nest; it's now time to wait and hope that they find themselves a warm perch.  (Sorry, there's an intense game of Angry Birds going on across the table, and it has infected my subconscious.)

Wait and hope.  I'm incredibly skilled at waiting and hoping.  But I can't sit around forever, waiting for life to get interesting.  

So, I'm still applying for the more irresistible out-of-town gigs, because I'd be a blasted fool not to.

I think there are still adventures to be lived in this city, but there's only so much I can do unilaterally.  Here I am.  For now.      

March 27, 2011

Covering All The Bases








I'm holding out for "Good even-tide to thee, fair lady!  No prescription needed!  Blahblahblah..."

Your Sunday Sax Fix

I needed some Johnny Hodges.  Thought I'd bring enough for the whole class.


Ladies and gentlemen...  I present to you the world's most overqualified sheet music holder:




Sorry the video quality is so awful on this one...  but the sound's decent and that's all that matters!

March 26, 2011

Five Three Songs: 'Til Every Radio's Gone

Five Songs is an occasional SMLTS feature consisting of thematically-grouped lists of songs which I like and feel like finding an excuse to post.  Three Songs is what happens when 1) I am driven by a Hemingwayesque zeal for economic prose or 2) I feel like it.  My blog, my rules, neener neener.  


Regardless of the number of songs, this is not a scientific poll, a critical argument, or anything that takes much work. THIS IS A LAZY STRUCTURAL GIMMICK.  Nevertheless, you will probably wish to evaluate this list through the lens of your own superior taste in pop culture.  You may have a cookie.


****
It is the humble belief of this blog that there is a certain type of person who, at some point in life, has been saved by radio.  I love my iPod, but radio is personal.  Done properly, it's a deeply social form of expression, fundamentally about communion, about that shared moment of hey, isn't this great?  It's about those moments when you could swear the DJ is playing music just for you (which is sometimes even true).  It is frequency-modulated humanity.

I'm biased, but I'm not wrong.  Radio is special in a way that is not always understood by those who seek to control it.

Radio disappears.  It's a fact of life.  The very best work in the medium dissipates, instantly.  (Do me a favor and forget podcasts and airchecks, yes?  I'm on a roll here.)

If you want to leave an artifact behind, go learn masonry.  (It pays well, too!)  If you want to leave an impression, if you want to sculpt the future by living so fully in the present that the present itself becomes a mold of sorts ...  there's nothing like radio.

As I prepare to leave broadcasting, I'm constantly aware that the separation process is difficult because the endeavor was so worthwhile.  And for all of the tears and the the trauma of recent times, I wouldn't for even a moment wish away the thirteen best years of my life.

Here are a few songs that speak to a heart that was shaped and nurtured by distant voices...

******

1). Radio Song
The Felice Brothers
Yes, I push The Felice Brothers as Billy Mays did household cleansers.  I do not have a problem; I can stop any time I want to.   

Simone Felice wrote this achingly elegiac song about the kind of dread that can only follow from true love...  the chorus of which is "please don't you ever die..." and then promptly developed serious heart trouble and nearly died at the ripe old age of 34.  The Irony Gods like to keep busy.

Anyone who has been unusually prone to the weepies in the last, oh, three months probably shouldn't listen to this without a delicious fermented beverage.




2). Radio, Radio
Elvis Costello
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
tryin' to anaesthetise the way that you feel

Nobody said love was uncritical.  Lest anyone get too misty about the halcyon days of yore, keep in mind that this quality Three-Minute Hate was written waaaaay before Clear Channel.  And similar.



I have an inexplicable fondness for YouTube videos of turntables.


3). Inside of Me
Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul

I was going to use another track from Men Without Women, a deeply underrated album which you should acquire immediately if you like angst and gratuitous horn sections.  Anyway... when I think of what working in radio has felt like to me, I think of "Until The Good is Gone":
We always stood on the same block way back when
Waiting to find out where in the world we fit in
But something on the radio changed everything we'd been...

And then they all join a band and get rich and famous, the end.

But I'm feeling this one more lately.





Even if it's all over, don't ever say it was all in vain.


BONUS POINTS: That's basically my guitar!  Except I have the six-string, and I'm betting Stevie didn't buy a blem.  You know, joined a band, got rich and famous, the end.
DEMERIT: Women cannot sing along with this song without walking smack-dab into a double entendre.

March 25, 2011

Friday Linkdump: Walk-And-Talk Edition

30 Rock last night.  The Sorkinesque walk-and-talk starring Aaron Sorkin.  Glorious. I mean, like, up there with an unlimited-scotch-and-crullers buffet.  (Everyone has a dream, OK?)  

Hie thee to the Tubes if you missed it.

*****

Man accused of stealing items from taxidermy show

*****
Eh, he'll always be John Glenn to me. Ed Harris will play John McCain for HBO
*****
OK, so I recently had to explain WKRP (and Les Nessman and DR. JOHNNY FEVER for cryin' out loud) to a young friend of mine.  And my high school friends' Facebook pics of their kids look like the people I remember from high school.  None of this makes me feel as old as the prospect of the forthcoming Eddie Vedder ukulele albumAnd I never even particularly liked Pearl Jam...

****
Novelty personalized action figures are becoming more economical.  So at least humanity's efforts in technological innovation have not all been in vain.

****
♥ is a word now, according to the OED.  LOL, OMG!  Also, balderdash!

March 23, 2011

Off

Another busy "vacation" day spent on the job search.  The morning got off to a good start: After repeated technical problems yesterday, a prominent local institution's website finally accepted my application. (HINT: As if my job depended on it.)

Also, now that George has actually put up the effing gutters, I can enjoy the soft sound of rain upon my roof without an accompanying sharp, steady splat coming through my bedroom window.  Glory be, the old bath towels have been banished from my windowsill, hopefully for good.

In magnificent peace and quiet, I've been retweaking and uploading my cover letter and resume like a job-applying fool, munching happily on the peanut butter cookies I made yesterday afternoon.

(NB: Generally speaking, I'm not a fundamentalist kind of gal...  but I feel strongly that certain important things should never be fake.  People.  Sugar.  Butter.  I would rather have a little taste of what I really want than a surfeit of a substitute.)

The other big project of the day has been fixing up my LinkedIn profile.  (Have I forgotten you?  Send me an invitation!)  The toughest part of resume writing is consciously listing your duties and skills; the toughest thing about online networking is remembering who you have known over the years. Much to my deep embarrassment, I realized today that I had neglected to connect with several trusted vendors, professional contacts, and even close personal friends on LinkedIn.

I'm getting better at this social networking stuff, although I sometimes sympathize with the sentiment expressed by my officemate's awesome t-shirt ("Traveling 33 RPM in an iPod World").

Change is inevitable, is a chance for progress, is always easier with a baked-good chaser.

March 22, 2011

And Away We Go...

When your job is winding down and you have vacation days to burn, you might think of taking a few days off to focus on submitting job applications.  In quiet.

Sure as night follows day, this will cause your contractor to come over to work on your gutters and flashing.

So, the evil alien reindeer are back on my roof, happily cussin' and pounding away at something which theoretically keeps the water out of my house and damn skippy cost me several thousands of dollars.

Nevertheless, I have actually accomplished some work.  Witness the following confirmation email:

 
I will not identify the sender, except to say that contrary to appearances it DID NOT come from a deposed Nigerian prince who wishes to wire me nineteen million USD( ££19.000.000), but rather from a deservedly well-regarded educational institution.

******
On the subject of comings and goings, now that it's on the interwebs and thus real, SMLTS can officially declare its happiness that Pittsburgh will be hanging on to one of the very best people this region has ever been lucky enough to attract into its oddly mesmerizing black-and-gold force field.  Go get 'em, my friend.

March 17, 2011

The Wearin' O' The Nerves

I think we have a new winner in the race to come up with the worst Ir...ish advertising, courtesy of Lilly Pulitzer:
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back, 
May the sun shine warm upon your face,          
          And may you choose a dress of green embroidered with lace.

Green Day

My morning routine has enough fail-safes to keep me from forgetting the important stuff, as a rule.  But I got completely distracted while trying to dress.  (Had to plan for weird temperature swings AND the need to wear green or risk getting pinched, and dontchaknow the pinchers are never who you'll hope they'll be).

So I remembered to wear green today.  Unfortunately, I forgot my cell phone, which I realized only when I got to the bus stop.  And now that I have resumes in the wild, leaving the phone at home isn't an option.

I scooted back up the hill, back upstairs...   back downstairs, back down the hill, back past the crossing guard who clearly thought (not without justification) that I was out of my mind.  I caught the bus I was aiming for anyway.

In the spring, a girl's heart turns lightly toward thoughts of pastry.  I figured I'd stop at Dunkin' Donuts on the way in to pick up some ludicrously green crullers, luridly shamrock-sprinkled Boston Cremes.  You would think, right?  No such luck.  The racks were picked over to the point that I couldn't imagine assembling twelve acceptable doughnuts.  But here's the maddening part--there were full trays in the back, begging to be set out.  As I waited in line, an attendant set out old-fashioneds (which, come to think of it, offered a chance for symmetry on this most revered of drinking holidays).  Then she stood in front of the coffee pot for a while.  Then she put out a tray of chocolate frosted.  Back to the coffee pot.  I prayed that the line would move slowly enough that she would set out some crullers by the time I got to the register.  Nope.  I went with the Munchkins.  Everybody loves Munchkins.  Possibly excepting those creepy flying monkeys.


****
Today's worst puns from my inbox (so far):
The Luck Of The Stylish
Shop O' The Mornin' To Ya!
****

If you're looking to celebrate the day with something yummy from the Old Sod, I highly recommend Balnamoon Skink.  (It's basically chicken and leek/onion/allium-of-your-choice soup.)  There are decent recipes floating around the Tubes.  This one is historically accurate and therefore unintentionally amusing. 

March 15, 2011

What's Next?




I would like to thank CNN for the wonderfully apropos illustration.  There's only one option I've ruled out, and it ain't unemployment.






So, yes, Things with a capital "T" are progressing.  I have my resume back from the professional writer.  It is so full of action verbs that if you need to describe any vigorous activity in your own life, you may actually have to shoot me an email to borrow a word.

My resume contains the word "synergy."

I'm... I'm...  sigh.  Might as well go all-in on Buzzword Bingo.  I'm Exploring All My Options.

For now, I'm primarily looking at fundraising positions, although there have been some interesting PR-oriented leads, which is after all pretty much what I was trained to do.  (The funny thing is, the Poli Sci degree that everyone thought was so impressive isn't opening Door One.  The Comm degree I took all kinds of crap for because hawhawhaw nobody takes media studies seriously you fool...  THAT'S the one employers are asking for.  So, chalk up one tally mark for following your heart.)

The big question is, should I stay or should I go?

Not to tip my hand too much...  but when I first typed "Washington DC jobs," Google Instant suggested "Washington DC jazz clubs" as soon as I hit the "j,", which may be a sign from The Flying Spaghetti Monster that it's time to pack up and move on.

In a more practical vein, there are simply more available jobs in my field in DC and surrounding areas.  Yes, it's expensive to live down there, but the pay's much better for my line of work.  And frankly, the idea of getting a professionally-managed apartment is just about the sexiest thing I can imagine.  Oooh, baby, tell me again about the roof and how it is not my problem.

I really never thought I'd uproot.  Really.  I thought I'd probably be carried out of this house, if the roof didn't collapse on my head, in which case it would have been more of a scooping process.  But now, I'm thinking hooray for options.

It's a weird, weird feeling.  But once the initial shock wore off--the layers of shock, really--it all started to feel kind of freeing.  Sometimes, you just want to pick up and run away...  and sometimes, you really can.

I don't completely rule out staying in Pittsburgh.  For all its ossified ways, it's still home.  If I stay, maybe I can even find some way to loosen up those arthritic joints just a bit.

Otherwise...  Point me to the Steeler bar (you know it's there somewhere) and I'm good.

March 14, 2011

Pardon My Lull

Blogging is a funny beast.  I have total control over what I choose to write and total responsibility for what I put out on The Tubes.  

With impunity, I share my cute roofing stories and gruesome tales of clothes-shopping mishaps.  And I do love to inflict my navel-gazing sessions upon you, Dear Reader.

But some experiences are simply not my sole property.

As you might have surmised from the sparse posting, it's been a very traumatic week.  There has been, in a sense, plenty to write about.  There has been very little I feel comfortable with sharing.

I won't say things are OK, exactly.  But everyone involved is still drawing breath and speaking to one another.  From that, all other good things flow.

March 12, 2011

Spring Ahead

Don't ever let anyone tell you there's no such thing as magic: Every single spring, the plants know when to wake up.

The process never fails to enthrall me.  Every time I see a tree start to bud out, the grass start to green up, little weeds starting to creep into sidewalk cracks, I smile the smile of the victorious.  Winter has been outlasted again.  The dirt and the snow melt and the old dead leaves reconfigure themselves into fresh, vivid, irrepressible life.

Not even Monsanto can stop it, although they might try to patent it.  (Thank God there's no cash in GMO dandelions.  Some things have to be sacred.)

There will be pollen and sinus headaches.  There will be long, hot days that turn into unbearably long, hot weeks.  But that's all later.  Spring is potential, and potential tends to be less complicated than kinesis.

Light returns.  Warmth returns.  That's real hope.    

Did I Make Me Up, Or Make The Face 'Til It Stuck?

I was innocently shopping in the drugstore--the makeup aisle, to be exact--and this came on the sound system:



There's no longer any reason doubt it: I am stuck in an episode of Scrubs.

March 7, 2011

Kazoos Are Profoundly Underutilized In Broadway Scores

For everyone who's been doing a lot of pep talks in the mirror lately...



(You gotta love that this kid grew up to be Bert Cooper.  And that he's a birthday buddy of Yr. Obdt. Svt. and Tina Fey.)

Satisfactory/Audit

When I was at Pitt, one of the graduation requirements was completion of two "W" classes.  Not necessarily English classes, these courses were meant to stress writing, critiquing one another's work, rewriting.  (In practice, the "W" courses I took were by no means the ones for which I did the most writing or editing.  But among the more valuable lessons you learn in college is the distinction between theory and practice.)

Piece of cake.  I figured I'd knock off a "W" in my first semester.  I signed up for Critical Writing.

Critical Writing turned out to be a weirdly abusive little class.  You probably think this was just the perception of a thin-skinned, drama-prone eighteen-year-old.  Please be assured that it was every bit as bad as I remember it, and that it wasn't just me.  After that semester, my advisor refused to register any students for that instructor's courses ever again.  

Someday, I may write more about the specifics of why Critical Writing was so awful, but I get a perverse satisfaction from subverting one of the bits of dogma that was so deeply abused in that classroom: Just this once, I choose to tell rather than show.

Without naming names, can you imagine what the most ludicrously on-the-nose surname would be for an English instructor who puts you through a surreal experience in which the rules are never explicitly stated?  A TRIAL, if you will?  An adventure which that puts you through, how you say, a METAMORPHOSIS?

Really.  I swear.  It's true, it's true!

Now, let's cleanse the palate with a veritable lemon sorbet of positivity.

When I was at Pitt, we could opt for a really clever variation on the Pass/Fail option: Satisfactory/Audit.  If you passed, you earned full credit.  If you ended up with less than a C average in a class, you didn't get credit--but you also didn't have an F on your transcript.  Instead, your record would show an audited class.  I still think this is a truly elegant way to encourage undergrads to indulge in some intellectual risk-taking.

The rules were very explicit in stating that professors were not to know, let alone ask, whether their students opted for S/A.

Back to the liver and onions...  the Critical Writing instructor was a big proponent of S/A.  Her rather twisted logic was that she could battle grade inflation by giving out Cs to most everybody, which we would gratefully accept because it wouldn't hurt our GPAs.  (So rendering the grade all but irrelevant reinforced its value?  Huh?)

She assigned an essay on whether or not we'd opted for Satisfactory/Audit.

The person I am today would without hesitation drag the instructor's non-tenured butt in front of a dean.  But I was eighteen, fresh from the sticks, and I had about as much grasp of University politics as I did of marine biology.  I was scared.  She was scary.  But it was scarier that my lifelong MO of excelling by following the rules was failing me.

The next few weeks were weird, weird, weird.  I still have my folder of work from that class, and I look at it sometimes to reassure myself that, yes, girlfriend was a sociopath.

Finally, the end of the semester rolled around.  We had to submit essays proposing topics for our final essays.  Really.  I submitted a draft; it was rejected, as was everyone else's first draft.  I tried again, incorporating the instructor's critiques into Draft 2.  Rejected.  Everyone's second draft was rejected.  I tried again, and possibly again.

I don't remember the precise moment that I realized that it was OK to quit.  It was abundantly clear that I was being jerked around for someone else's entertainment.  I certainly wasn't learning anything--not about composition, anyway.

I never again set foot in that room.  I got an audit on my transcript.  I didn't even fall behind in progress toward my degree because I had a whole boatload of AP credits.

Here's what I learned in Critical Writing: Sometimes, you run into sociopaths.  You don't have to deal with them on their terms.

Horton Hears A "Huh?"




ALSO ACCEPTABLE: Oh!  The Spellings You'll Blow!



(From the PG, of course.)

March 5, 2011

You Need A Degree To End Up On A Tire Flap?









Oh boy!  Pell Grants for women!  Are they pink?  Bedazzled?  

Wardrobe Malfunction

So, having grown leaner/colder/sadder/older, I've bought a bunch of clothing lately.  Which would be a lot more fun were it not for the whole world-crashing-on-my-head thingy.  But, still, it's one of the more enjoyable projects I've embarked on as of late.

Happily--and I'm kind of sad I can't list this on my resume as a job skill--I've become very skilled at finding cheap but high-quality clothes on eBay.  Once you get familiar with the way different lines are cut, it's actually a lot easier than it sounds.  It doesn't hurt that most sellers give measurements.

All that having been said, I have moments.

So, yesterday, the mailman dropped off a really cute pinstripe dress.  I pulled it over my head, though I had a bit of trouble getting everything through the waist, if you get my drift.  But once in place, it fit well.

And then I tried to take it off.  And I was...  stuck.  I tried several tactics, which all failed miserably, until I finally reconciled myself to having to cut myself out.

As I peered along the seams, looking for a place to cut which might conceivably be repairable, I noticed...

A zipper.  It never occurred to me that a wrap-top dress would have a zipper.  I sheepishly effected an escape from my Ann Taylor-made prison.

It's moments like this that make me really doubt the fine folks of Stanford-Binet.  This brain is 4.5 standard deviations above the mean?  Oy.

March 1, 2011

They Could Surrender To Us, But I Wouldn't Count On That

Sometimes, you find yourself at the edge of a cliff.  And you cannot possibly jump off a cliff.  That would be crazy.  There are pointy things waiting for you, and physics is just dying to remind you that the whole 32-feet-per-second-per-second thing applies to your own personal corpus.

You cannot hurl yourself off the cliff.  That's right out.

But you wouldn't be on the edge off a cliff if you hadn't been chased there by someone who wishes you ill.  You take cover as you can.  But it's just postponing the inevitable.

And at some point, it hits you: You can, in fact, go off the edge of the cliff.

It might not end well, but it might.  Between a fresh risk and certain demise, risk starts to look pretty good.  Even inspiring, freeing.

Wait until about 1:17 and catch the look on Butch's face...




Have faith in the cushioning waters.  And, uh, stay out of Bolivia, just to be on the safe side.