Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And they said the cynic was dead…

So, I’m sitting here in the aftermath of a bit too much plum wine… that’s my excuse…

Vicky and I were watching Mad About You on DVD, which is always a bit odd for me because that was a show I watched with my ex back when it aired in the 90’s. So, we’re watching and Vicky pauses and asks me a question, which in itself isn’t odd except I remember my ex asking the same question – oh those many years ago.

And my answer is something along the lines of “The universe is one great big joke.” After all, the first time I watched this and was asked, my ex and I were still going through those sickeningly cute years. Actually, we spent about 10 of our years together sickeningly cute… with 5 spent in total fucking hate – there was no middle of the road. The lessen, or so it seemed to me at least, was that all relationships are doomed and that is life’s joke on us all.

Vicky and I spent about 20 minutes in the sickeningly cute stage and I can’t help but think, “What chance do we have?” And I think I spend a little bit too much time doubting our love, waiting for the end – which is kind of like waiting for the end of a rollercoaster: you’re missing the fun!

I say this in the message in a bottle kind of way: I know all relationships are doomed, either your split up or you die, but you should try to enjoy the ride anyway… even if I’m not that great at it…

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Finding that job…

A visit to CareerBuilder is basically just a sincere request to get pissed on. Seriously. And I don’t even know why I go there any more – oh, wait. I remember. Because Monster.com shits on you instead. And I’m desperate for a job. And nobody’s there to fucking help.

You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about. So, I’ll give you some examples.

According to CB, there have been seven new positions for “Writers” posted in the past seven days within 20 miles of my home. Oh wait, these are the same jobs that have been there since May. These jobs were probably filled months ago; I know that’s when I applied for some of them. Why haven’t I applied for all of them? Well, because some putz at CB thought “writer” also meant , “Movie Extra”, “Software Engineer”, “Senior Accountant”, “Medical System Consultant”, etc. Out of 30 positions, only one was for a writer.

It gets worse. When I look for a positions as a “Marketing Coordinator” (last seven days, within 20 miles), I find 144 new positions! Wow! That’s a lot… if I was a “Graphic Designer” or a “Retail Marketing Leader”. What is that? A “Retail Marketing Leader”? About 100 of the postings are for “Marketing Leaders” of one kind or another (and they all, miraculously, pay $125,000!!!) and they all go to a placement agency. I’m finding this more and more typical. Placement agencies get paid for placing people and don’t give a shit if they con you in with these made up titles, wild promises, etc. They just want warm bodies. “Look,” they say. “We’ve got thousands of potential employees!” All of whom waste their time begging for work and not getting any because there’s no such thing as a “Retail Marketing Leader” position. Aside from those, there are postings for “Movie Extras”, “AVON Sales Representatives”, “Pharmacy Techs”, and on and on. Actually, no “Marketing Coordinator” positions at all.

This same thing happens when I search under other titles. The thing is, there just aren’t a whole lot of jobs out there, so CB cross-posts many of them into areas that have nothing to do with what you want. Their “Marketing Manager” search gives me nursing positions for fucks sake!

And, so, there I am. Pisses on and I asked for it. But I’m desperate. I need a job.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Turned down for another job…

I’ve decided that a blog is a good place for depressing news. Facebook is too cute and Twitter’s too short. That’s leaves here. Sorry.

So, as the subject line says, I got turned down again. And the longer I’m out of work, the more it hurts when I get passed up. Hey, I know there are hundreds of thousands of others out there – probably applying for the same job – but this position seemed to be right up my alley. The interview was good. It felt right.

Things started to go wrong, though, with the Thank You letters. I sent them out, using the addresses provided on the business cards of those I interviewed with, and got them back a week later marked “Undeliverable.” The fuck? So, I had to improvise an email, which probably didn’t look great. And today I received a short, form email from HR… it’s just devastating.

Like so many other Americans, I really want to work. I’m sick of being on unemployment insurance. I want to contribute something.

So, I’m going to spend the weekend depressed. I gave up smoking and pretty much gave up drinking… let’s hope I don’t find myself face-down in a half-gallon of ice cream…

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pre-ride thoughts…

So, it’s 7:15am and 62 degrees (f) outside. That’s just too blasted cold for my liking.

You know, this has been a pretty fucked up summer on the left coast, weatherwise. It’s been far too cool in the south and far too hot in the north. You want to talk about whacked weather patterns, harbingers of climate change? We might be able to start there. A little coolness in the south is one thing and a little heat in the north is another – but a lot of both? I don't like the way that trends.

Last summer, I could go on rides at 5am and it was already in the 70’s. Now, I’m bundling up. Either we’re going to be hit hard by the heat and have a scorching Christmas or it’s going to be far too cold down here. One way or another, it’ll fuck with the growing seasons and with migrations and all kinds of other shit, just like the heat is doing up north.

It’s not good.

As for me, I’m waiting until the temp rises above 65 (f) so I can go out on my ride without freezing my ass off…

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jogging more than my memory…

So, I’ve started jogging again. This might sound like nothing but it's a huge deal for me. Back in high school, before I started smoking, I was a very good runner for the track team and I loved running. Then, of course, I started smoking, got hit by a car, jumped off a three-story building, got shin splints… and so on…

I’d done some jogging on the treadmill at the gym but, really, that’s not jogging. That’s jogging on the treadmill and anyone who has done both knows the difference is like that between ginger ale and gin. After I quit smoking a year and a half ago (yes, it’s been that long!), I hoped I might jog again someday.

So, several weeks ago… beginning of summer, really… I tried it out. All I got was pain. And lots of it. And this was from a mile – maybe! See, I was jogging up to the Santa Ana River so I could jog on the river because I knew my legs were going to hurt as a result of jogging on asphalt, concrete, pretty much anything. Vicky suggested I walk up to the river trail and that helped a bit but I spent week after week in just the worst kind of pain, limping back home. It was awful.

But then, slower that you can imagine, things got better. My legs started to let up a little and get used to it. I did a mile, then two. The other night, I jogged nearly five miles! I’m far from cool. I look like an old man out there and I know it! But doing it, actually jogging again, feels great.

Oh, and there’s more. Once I started getting used to it, I picked up a couple of three pound running weights to help me tone up a bit while I’m at it – cause I’m an idiot. That just brought on more pain, but I’m getting used to it.

I try to keep in mind what Peter O’Toole said in Lawrence: The secret is not minding that it hurts.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Play, New Book, Same Old Ken…

Suppose you and your wife went to another couple’s house for dinner. And suppose the husband suggested you should both kill each other’s wife, switching victims like in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (or Throw Mama From The Train, if you're so inclined). Suppose before you had a chance to say, “NO,” he already pulled out a gun and shot and killed your wife and suppose when he realized his mistake, he tried to raise her from the dead only to raise a zombie, which then had to be put down with multiple shotgun shots. Now, suppose that he invited the devil over to fix all this but you find yourself suspected of the murder.

This is the very twisted premise – or are the twisted premises – of my new play, Murder, Zombies, the Devil… and Stuff, which I finished this week. It is a very dark comedy mixed with a murder mystery mixed with a farce. I can’t wait until people see it; it should be a lot of fun.

And that does it for me and plays for a while. After all, since last autumn, I’ve written five new, full-length plays. From farce (Murielle’s Big Date) to drama (Meaning), from plays about marriage (After You Fall) to plays about family (Sometimes We Find Our Way)… and now dark murder mystery farces, I’ve done it all! Time to work on marketing them! After all, along with my first three plays, that makes eight total, which I figure is enough. (Sorry… couldn’t help it…)

Anyway, the time has come for my next book on philosophy. This is an idea that has been noodling around in my noggin for a while but once I confirmed with one of my professors that it was actually something new, a different direction in ethics, I’ve been just itching to start it. Unlike Climbing Maya, this would actually be my first scholarly writing. (I’m hesitant to use the term “scholarly”, for fear people may think I consider myself a scholar.) Mostly importantly, though, it has the potential to change our understanding of ethics completely.

So, what is it? Well, right now, I’m calling it Dynamic Pluralism. (Yes, I’m putting it right here in my blog to lay claim to the idea.) Simply, ethical systems have historically been individualistic, addressing ethics only in terms of one person: you. But it seems clear to me that ethics always depend on the interactions of multiple individuals, which always change from situation to situation. And there’s the whole book in two sentences – so you can be sure there will be more than that.

What’s most exciting right now, is the book’s opening. I won’t even be able to write it for at least a couple of months. After all, I have a great deal of research that needs to be done, yet. But the opening it crystal clear in my head, just waiting to be written. It came about, quite by accident, as the result of a comment my friend Tim, from Washington, made. He said, “well now the way I see it, it is my morals that allow me to look at myself in the mirror. Where ethics are what the group deems correct at that moment. Yeah?” This got me thinking about the difference between morals and ethics. Shouldn't ethics allow you to look yourself in the mirror? These two terms have, traditionally, always been confused and interchanged because they both address how a person should behave but, to my mind, come from clearly different sources. We talk about morals in terms of religion: morality plays and finding morality in the Bible. Morality comes from the term mores, which are supported by religions and customs, and come with a strict punishment. Ethics come from ethos, which does not carry as strict a code in religion or customs. Ethics have, a I mentioned, been left to the individual. This can get rather confusing but watch what happens…

Morality is taught to us by whom? By ministers, preachers, and pastors. By mothers, fathers, and other family members. They are taught, then, by individuals. Tim observed that “ethics are what the group deems correct at the moment” but when you consider that morality is based on an individual’s interpretation of religion or custom, it too becomes what the group deems correct at the moment, as well. This shows that both ethics and morals are subject to the capricious nature of time and culture and individual whim. What may be a moral sin one day, Thou Shalt Not Kill, may turn into a caution the next, Thou Shalt Not Murder, and it’s all open for individual interpretation.

The deeper I delve, the more I realize an ethical system that comprehends all of this, takes this all into consideration, is necessary for our new century. Thus the name: Dynamic Pluralism, Ethics for a 21st Century World.

Anyway, I gotta do something with all this free time, right? And, I guess that's how you go from Murder to Ethics in two easy steps - ha, ha, ha...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Glass houses… and not the Billy Joel album…

I was walking my dog tonight and heard a kid screaming several houses away. It wasn’t a scary scream or a scream for help, just a kid screaming his/her head off. For just a split second, I began to wonder what the hell was going on and why nobody shut the kid up… for just a split second…

And then, I remembered being four or five years old… and having screaming contests in my front yard…

It will probably come as no surprise that I could scream the loudest…

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Town Hall Protesters: Ruining it for everyone…

I’m going to assume you’ve heard all about the right-wingnuts who have been crashing the recent town halls held to help educate people on health care reform and get constructive feedback. They’ve not only been shouting to drown out the discourse but now they’re bringing guns. And corporate America is learning from this strategy and have announced they’ll use it to defeat any hope of finally cleaning up the environment we’ve shit all over.

The one thing this all pivots on, of course, is the town hall format, allowing anyone to come in and attend your event, getting their feedback, letting the common man be heard. What we’ve seen is that corporate America and the Repugs don’t give a shit about the common man and only care enough to manipulate them into a lather. They’re good at this because they have no respect for anything.

The town hall format is relatively new in its present incarnation. While it pre-dates the TV culture (and easily pre-dates the Internet), it wasn’t designed for instant media and this is its weakness. Mind you, Shrub and his ilk never used the format because they were afraid of just what they’ve faked. They were terrified that regular people would have a voice. Now, they’ve constructed these “grass roots” protests, funded by corporations who would rather make billions off the backs of the sick or the poor or just plain anyone.

So, what can be done? Certainly segregating the audience is not a good idea. That’s just what Shrub and his ilk did. No, I think the only thing that can be done is to abandon the town hall all together. Use the Internet for good just as the corporations and the Repugs are using it for ill. Don’t allow the powerful to sabotage everything just because they have power.

Oh, and Dems, grow a fucking spine, why don’t you?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

K is for Maso…

You might call me Ken. You might call me Masochist. Either way…

See, I screwed up my legs when I was younger. Before then, I could run and run and run – I loved to run. But after jumping off a three-story building and getting hit by a car and getting shin splints and generally thinking I was indestructible… well… let’s just say I wasn’t running any more.

But then, I found I could run on a treadmill. That was nice. But I hate having to drive somewhere to run – that’s just stupid.

Recently, I took up running on the river trail using the theory that if I ran on dirt it would cushion my legs the way the treadmill did. It’s taken several months for that to prove correct, several months of serious motherfucking pain. No fun. But I was running (well, jogging) again, and that was nice.

So, because I’m an idiot, I decided to add some weights to the routine. You know, really add some pain back in the mix. What I didn’t realize was that adding weights – just two 3-pound weights, mind you – wouldn’t hurt my arms as much as they would hurt my legs. Now, it’s like starting all over again and every jog is painful.

What the hell is wrong with me? Well, I’m fat and out of shape… there’s that…

Oh well. Such is the price I pay, right? All the same, I wish I’d added two 3-pound weights of ice cream…