(things went way) Left in Twentyleven

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What's good umf'ers? I know I've been kinda spasmodic with the posts lately, but I have legitimate reasons (well, the technical "legitimacy" of one particular item is debatable, but whatever) for falling off of this a little bit. You see, over the last few months my life has undergone a number of changes, some good, some bad, some with an impact to be determined...but there's been a whole fuck of a lot of them this year.

Of course, with change comes the necessity to leave certain things behind, and although I've never been the biggest fan of all the "new year, new me" type bullshit that people like to spout around this time (the only people that say "wait 'til next year!" more than people on Facebook are Chicago Cubs fans...after the second week of January most people will be doing the same ass-backwards shit they've been doing since they could eat free at chain restaurants nationwide) I find that a lot of these events conveniently sync up with the end of the calendar year, and I really don't have a choice but to leave a few things in twentyleven as some of us eagerly anticipate the upcoming new year.

Some of these are things that have just been on my back for a while, some are things that I'm better served by getting rid of, some are as comfortable and familiar as the Cowboys sweatshirt I'm wearing right now. (I'm keeping that though. You'll take my skin before you take my last piece of 'Boys apparel...literally.) Regardless, now's kinda the time for them to go...most things in life have an expiration date, and one thing I learned this year is that mine is no different.

Usually approaching New Years', I prepare an obscenely long list of things I learned the year past...but since I've learned more this year than can fit in this post (especially since I'm only at work until 1), I'm gonna go with a short list of the things that won't make it to twentytwelve with me. Well...short in a writing sense. In reality, it may be the longest thing I've ever typed with my index fingers one key at a time. Aight, I'm rambling, let's get this over with.

That wallet- Once a pretty sharp navy blue Ralph Lauren piece with pony print received as a Christmas gift some years back, it is now a piece of shit with a pattern vaguely resembling a Navajo sand painting. It has served me well over the last...however long I had it...but it's long past time for it to go. (As for what caused the delay, I know I needed a new one a while ago, but moving wallets is a miniature version of moving homes, and we all know how stressful that can be. I could just never commit to a day.) Also being left in this year are those 2 fossilized coupons for free Whoppers I got at a Harlem Globetrotter game in 2006. If it takes you 6 years to eat fast food, it kind of defeats the whole purpose.

My amateur writer status- Now that over 200 copies of "FfYL" are out there in the world and I've made enough money to be less broke, I guess I've turned pro. At least, that's what the IRS will tell me...that's good enough.

My hopes of winning that screenwriting competition- Yeah, I got eliminated. It kinda sucks, but it beats just being in the dark for 4 months wondering what the fuck happened to my $65. Getting more spam than competition updates from a pro contest kind of dampens the whole spirit of anticipation. Hell, I almost wanted to be eliminated so I could just stop getting emails period. It's cool, I'm starting the next one next week...

My careful compartmentalization of my life from my parents- You know that part in the Wizard of Oz when they pull back the sheet and reveal the huge, loud and abrasive talking head as a normal guy? Having my parents find out about this side of my life (hi, if you two are reading this!) was like that in reverse. Oh well, at least I can throw out those eyedrops. Besides, it's kinda pointless to hide anything from them now because the last thing I'm going to have to leave in this year...

My non-parental status- Yup, that's right. I guess all those jokes about kids and the people who spawn them have finally caught up to me (let's hope the ones about everything else are slower). If you know me or read me, you know what kind of parent I could be...doesn't mean I have to like it. I'm looking forward to it about as much as my first prostate exam, but people tell me that I'll be possessed by some magical force compelling me to be there with a smile at some point, so I'm just kinda gonna wait on that to happen. (Of course, I'd smile more if the last time I had sex wasn't what got me into this mess, but that's another post entirely.)

As can be expected, I'm kinda fucked up about the whole thing right now (it shows I care) but...well, but nothing. It'll be over by March, however, and I'm just looking forward to getting this whole unpleasantness out of the way so I can serve my sentence. If you're curious about mom, she's doing just great and has been happier than Tickle-Me Elmo for the past 6 months, so you can forward all your congratulations to her. I only accept 'em for things I do intentionally. Hey, at least I get to write another book about it now, right? Could be worse...could be a girl.

Well, I'm about out of time on this workday and year, so I'm going to skip all the sentimental shit and go get drunk. For those who still check this reasonably often, I want to let you know I appreciate it and I'll definitely make an effort to try and keep umf (and myself) more alive than in recent times. I love you guys...I couldn't leave you in this year if I wanted to...and I don't. Happy new year, umf!


Job Appreciation

If you even vaguely know me, you know that my current main source of income is somewhat unsatisfactory to me. There's a unnecessarily long post (and 1/3 of a book) about what exactly that job is and you probably don't care, but if you are curious I can quickly sum it up: pro file monkey. As you can imagine, it's an exceedingly undesirable thing to have to be underpaid to do for an extended period of time, especially when one feels that he can do something much better much better, and as a result I've made it pretty clear that I hate coming here to anybody who would listen...until I thought about it recently, anyway.

You see, there's a concept that I've always found interesting called "chaos theory", and it states that a change in a single event or decision in the course of arriving at a given conclusion can drastically alter the conclusion thereof. (If that explanation is a little wordy for you, there was also a pretty shitty movie to that effect starring that dude who used to punk people on TV and is now the half a man in a popular network television series.) 

I often wonder what would have happened if I had never gotten on Craigslist that day and applied to sit at the desk I'm currently at. Would my current path in life be different? You see, as a college dropout, my employment options are kinda limited when the guy who sold me my sneakers has a Master's. Most likely, I would have ended up doing something involving a silly hat, a spatula, taxing manual labor, or all of the above. None of these career fields provide me with the time or internet connection I need to spread my gospel all over the internets on company time...it's one of the best benefits my employer doesn't know they offer.

Even my current efforts to escape it with new endeavors ironically would be crippled without it. Here at work is my main computer...occasionally I come in to this job early just to get some stuff for my other job done. Part 1 of my book would have been about half as long if I had never worked here...the inspiration factor of my time here is almost worth all the time I wasted obtaining it. The flyers, handouts, visual aids and editing drafts for my different big projects are all on company paper. Everybody who buys a copy of "FfYL" will recieve a free authentic envelope from this office free with purchase. 

Wait...let's step it back a bit. I'm forced to acknowledge something that I've never really been comfortable thinking about as a result of my employ here. You see, soon after I was hired, I figured out that anyone who didn't enjoy the taste of short bus window on a crisp winter day could finish my job duties twice in the 8 hours I was forced to be here in order to pay my bills and buy various life enhancers. This left me with about 3 hours a day to do absolutely nothing with but talk shit on the internet...eventually somebodies told me that I should put all the aforementioned shit in one place...and 3+ years later, you now know that place as undermyfitted.

When your days are numbered in a place you've spent a long time in against your will, it's hard to help taking a step back and taking stock of your time there...just like I imagine jailfolk do when their parole date is near or an uninterested party in a relationship around the time a prenuptual agreement expires.  It's kinda interesting what leads into what, huh? Even more what leads out of what...so I guess through all my hate, I don't have any choice but to appreciate my job.


How to Save a Life

If you've spent any time at all in this city, you know that there's almost no such thing as a normal ride on local public transit system SEPTA. (If you haven't spent any time at all in this city, please accept my congratulations.)  The $2 required to board one of these vehicles is less a fare than a cover charge to a floor show whose performers change daily. Most days the featured act is usually just some group of overloud middle schoolers or a couple having an argument about who is embarrassing who in public, but some days have extra special guests...and this was one of them.

There I was on the train platform this morning, waiting for the EL to come and take me home (yes, "home"...sure, I was going downtown to my current place of employ but since I waste more waking hours there than actually attempting to enjoy my life, you could make the argument that I only have an apartment to sleep in and keep all the shit that won't fit at my desk once the office is closed to the public each day) when I noticed an older gentleman, who I'll call Herman Cane, busily sharpening a 5-foot stick on the ground like he was about to try and hunt wild boar in West Philly and angrily muttering to himself as the train pulled up.

Admittedly, the sharp stick concerned me a bit, but people talking nonsense to themselves on SEPTA is so common, I actually feel less comfortable if there's NOT a babbling street crazy onboard (see, since the laws of public transportation dictate that one lunatic will ride each vehicle at all times, if nobody's screaming about how the government came and took their baby, that means less outwardly deranged people are present instead. I prefer my insaniacs clearly labeled.) so I just shrugged it off and got on the same car with the guy. Whether that was the right or wrong decision is left for debate...whether is made things more interesting is indisputable.

After boarding the train and sitting in the only empty seat that was, of course, right across from where Mr. Cane was delivering his tirade at an increased volume. It was then that I found out the true cause of his vehement dissatisfaction...someone had apparently stolen his walking stick earlier.  He was very upset by this, and showed it with an impressively inarticulate display of profanese that not even my site is rated high enough to type without a parental advisory sticker. (Of course, since he had been grumbling since I first saw him, this means his cane was stolen long before anyone on the train had a chance to steal it themselves, making his rant not only disturbing, but misdirected.)

There he stood, spreading his gospel of rage to anybody who was forced to listen and offering a number of unorthodox observations on racial affairs and deviant lifestyles while brandishing a crude spear, challenging anyone to take it away from him at 8:30 in the morning. Obviously, being the goofy (and at that point, very well medicated) person I am, I found this funny as hell and couldn't stop myself from laughing. Big mistake, apparently. In his eyes, reacting to a person making a complete ass of themselves in front of a large group of people is the deepest of insults, and he then directed his wrath directly at me (and just for fun, I'll include my thought process in parentheses...as usual):

"And what the fuck is so goddamn funny? You think this shit is funny, this is why black people can't do a damn thing now, always think everything's a joke and shit...."

(I think everything's funny...)

"...it's young punks like you who are fucking everything up...shooting, raping, killing...don't do shit positive!"

(Well, I wrote a book...)

"...bunch of sad motherfuckers! I'm so tired of this damn city!"

(Me too.)

"...and I tell you what, too! That's why black people ain't shit...always stealing from their own! Do you see the white man stealing from his own kind?"

(Yeah, they're called CEOs, usually...)

You get the idea. Of course, by this point, Herman's bullshit was overpowering my ability to stifle my laughter, and I just bust out laughing. A few surrounding passengers timidly joined in. Mr. Cane obviously did not see the humor in this and was incensed to a new level. He then unveiled his "nein, nein, nein" plan, to show that he did not want any laughter at all, pointing his bumspear at me:

"Oh this shit still funny to you?! Bet it won't be funny when I fuck you up!"

(*laughter stops* Now he crossed the line...ima adjust the shit out of his attitude...)

I started to get up and approach him to suspend his campaign, but was stopped by a nearby passenger who reminded me that, justified as I may have been, being a large, young and strong black man beating up an old fuck who was off his meds wouldn't look too good in the paper tomorrow. I considered this, decided it was a fair point, and simply palmed my face and endured the abuse until my stop. After both he and I got off (of course we had the same stop, why would you expect anything else?) and I made my way to work, I began to consider what had taken place.

I pondered how close I had come to being in one of these very same brown files that haunt my every day here at the PD's office, and decided that I had saved both our days--and possibly lives--through my inaction and the wisdom of a stranger. Well, actually...I do wish it was purely my own self-control...but if I had been off MY meds, it wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference before he got defenestrated from a moving train. Of course, if I had the approval of the other passengers, I could have done it anyway...it wasn't assault, he got voted off the train for causing a disturbance! I can't promise I'll do it again though...if he decides to seek ejection next time, he will damn sure have my vote.


Hip Hop is Dead

I don't usually concern myself too much with the Sixers, but when you see something like this go on in your field of living, sometimes you have no choice but to comment. You see, Sixers mascot Hip Hop, an oddly charming fusion of one-time franchise player Allen Iverson back when he partially owned the city (how many athletes get mascots patterned after them?) with splashes of Bugs Bunny in "Space Jam", represented the team for many years, dunking off trampolines, flashing his plastic bling, and cavorting in the stands of Sixers games to rile up the mostly absent crowd.

He was well liked in the city, mostly because he was an accurate representation of many Philadelphians...steeped in urban culture, loving basketball, reproducing rapidly, gray...but as I found out this morning, the basketball bunny is no more. You see, the Sixers recently were sold to another group of owners, who decided that the team could use an image overhaul. Sure, they could have started by getting better players so that other Philadelphia teams in different sports don't consistently outscore them...but they started in the obvious place...changing the mascot.

Now, this is a relatively unremarkable move...well, until you consider the alternatives. I'll remind you that good people spent better money for someone to sit in an idea fortress at Jim Henson studios and think up sports Muppets until they get just the right one. (If you're an amateur graphic designer or promoter, you might want to cover your eyes...it's a bit scary to know these people are being paid handsomely to suck at the job you want.)

First up...It's Phil E. Moose! Obviously selected because of Philadelphia's world famous moose herds than can be seen roaming the plains of this metropolitan area on most days, his bio claimed that he's over 7 feet tall, loves to play defense, and can dunk a basketball. The fact that he sounds like an improvement over some of the Sixers' current big men aside, this moose is apparently ready to get loose. Oh, and did I mention his name was Phil E. Moose? You get it? See what was done there? It sounds just like...you know what, if I keep going with this I'm gonna end up offing myself. Let's move on...

Next, meet B. Franklin Dogg, the All-American pet. He shows his love of Philadelphia by not only wearing the  uniform of his city's basketball team, but walking around with a scale replica of the Liberty Bell on his head. This potential mascot has the added advantage of a subtle nod to the crackhead, another central figure in Philadelphian society. The mascot is, in fact, named after Benjamin Franklin, the most famous person ever to suffer a self-inflicted electric shock. Although the combined concept has precious little to do with basketball, this should raise support for the mascot with fans of Franklin...but if this one just isn't Benny enough for you, there is still hope...

...and his name is Big Ben! Yes, the Founding Father himself is being considered to handle the awesome task of garnering support for a moribund basketball franchise and being made into overpriced stuffed animals. I don't know about you, but when I see this mascot I get a bit intimidated. Just look at that steely gaze, those intense eyebrows, the beer gut formed over long periods of building our country one pint at a time, those man-boobs jiggling for the freedom of a nation...you're not human if that doesn't affect you. Teams around the NBA will likely be forced to forfeit out of respect for the American legend...or something...there has to be a reason for this.

Maybe it's just me, but none of these mascots give me much to cheer about. It could be that I just don't care for the Sixers...I damn sure won't start now (which is kinda the whole point of a promotional stunt like this). If you can pick the lesser of these evils, you can go vote for one. Me? I'm gonna treat this election like most others...all the choices suck, so I'm gonna go do something else. They say if it ain't broke, don't fix it...well, when you bring enough tools to think this is a good idea, as the new owners clearly have, sometimes you can't help trying to make repairs...


Captain Plan-It

Ever since I was a child who used to start out building whatever was on the Lego kit box as the manufacturers intended, change my mind midway through, then end up with some hybrid of the pictured product and my own mental pictures during the process, the one thing I can say about almost anything I've ever planned out is that it never seems to turn out as expected. Sure, my creative compulsion, distaste for little details, and medium-short attention span have a lot to do with that...but it also seems to be a larger theme of my life in general.

Things far beyond my control often either loom menacingly in the distance, hurtling towards my world at terminal velocity before veering off at the last second like a game of cosmic chicken or descend conspicuously from the heavens like a gift from the gods themselves until I notice that the plummeting parcel looks suspiciously like a nuclear warhead. (Sometimes it's Hiroshima, sometimes it's Mars Bluff.) Financial equations solved by unknown variables, trains that time knows for a fact I missed held up for me to catch for minutes at a time, video models who walk up to me on my porch and turn out to be stalkery ex-con stage 5 clingers with horribly behaved children and colors for names...Shamalayan wishes he could come up with twists like these on a regular basis.

Point is, even taking into account the randomish nature of life in general, my own existence seems even more unpredictable than average (though it might be the rearview mirror effect...events during reflection on one's life may be larger or smaller than they appear).

Just as a minor example, just Wednesday afternoon, I had just finished making my (kinda) weekly question video and was taking my file serf cart back to my desk with a plan to post the video, waste the last half-hour or so of the day on the internet, go directly home, and lounge around in my bed glassy-eyed watching cartoons on my laptop while figuring out how to trick people into buying my book. It was a good, solid plan with a reasonably high success rate, and I looked forward to putting it into action and seeing it come to fruition.

Just as I approached my desk for final preparations, I was stopped by a co-worker who saw a couple copies of "FfYL" in the cart (hey, if they're gonna make me push a cart all day, I can put some of my excess pushing into the books...ain't using all of it for this salary anyway) and after inspecting it, informed me that there was a local bookstore that specialized in the work of talented, up and coming artists, but would probably accept my work anyway. She suggested I go down there that very day, introduce myself to the owner, and see if he'd let me hawk my wares from his shelves.

Of course, this would significantly alter my plans (they had already been changed by this 15 minute conversation that negated my end-of-work posting time which is why the video didn't go up until Thursday, but I'm not the kind of dick who goes "I don't have time to talk to you, I have to address my YouTube audience!"...yet.) but the chance to see my book on the shelves of an actual store was enough to call an audible at the line and change my play for the night. Sure, I'd have to postpone major parts of my plan and cancel some others...but it at least kinda resembled the blueprint.

After a short train ride, I found myself outside the bookstore and walked in, expecting a hard sell for a pretty alternative concept ("The book is...so yeah, it's like um...imagine if Dr. Phil was a 23 year old black guy...uh...who enjoyed intoxication, social networking and football in his spare time...and...uh...did stand-up...duh...it's based on my life but not based on my--okay, I'll leave now.") wrapped in a pretty strong cuss word. What I got was a great hour-long discussion of the entertainment industry, a few ideas about promotion...oh, and a request to come back for a book signing on Saturday.



Not only had the guy agreed to stock my book AND put one on the "look at me!" shelf directly behind the register, but I had just ordered a new shipment of books that UPS said would be here on Friday, just in time to make my first appearance as a published author (ugh...I promise I won't refer to myself as that too much, it sounds douchy) and sell autographed books to people who had no idea who I was or that they would be my fans one day. Planned to perfection, right?

Fast forward through some light revelry and an uneventful Thursday of refeshing the UPS tracking page, and come to Friday with me. I came to work today expecting to get one of the only job emails I ever open, the one that says "Your personal package has been delivered, please come to the 12th floor to pick it up". (The other tells me the locations and times of various office parties.) After I saw no such electrocommunication, I checked the tracking one more time to see that my package would be delivered at the end of the day...Monday.

As Monday is after Saturday, it would become a bit problematic. I sat speechless, blankly staring at the screen for a few minutes like when the Cowboys lose (haven't done it in a while :) ) and wondered who I had wronged to deserve this. I mean, I've wronged plenty of people...but none at UPS lately. I still have a few copies lying around, but it would look pretty pathetic to show up with like 4 books and a veil of disappointment shading my glowing comedic aura. I couldn't even figure out what the dress code is for a book signing (I'm assuming it's "AJ") ...now this.

For a moment, I considered the alternative, canceling the entire thing...but then remembered that if I did that, I couldn't expect anybody to show up to the reschedule since I probably would think the person was full of shit and not bother if the roles were reversed. The only choice became clear. I had--well, have...still hasn't happened--to gather up my few remaining books and head down there to meet my devoted readers...there'd still be enough prints for all of them. (Plus, if I only have a few copies when people see me, they'll assume my book is popular and want to buy it themselves...I hope.) At least, that's the plan. Let's see how this goes...


Video Formsprung Wk7

Funny story...I made this video yesterday and I...'ll tell ya later. (Gotta keep my traffic up somehow with this irregular-ass posting...) Thanks for the questions and of course, the love!