Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Well, this blog is pretty much dead. Considering my historically sporadic posting pattern and, as of late, theme-wise incoherence, an argument could be made that it's been stillborn all along.


It has served a purpose. For me, anyways, and hopefully some small percentage of my already minute readership has at least got a couple of chuckles out of it somewhere along the line. The purpose was to maintain my ever-slipping sanity in the face of a menial, low-paying dead-end job. Mission accomplished. I think.

However, while I may be sane, I think I've become even more cynical...

So, rest in peace fair Cancer Sticks and Lotto Tickets. I'll perform a touching rendition of Police Truck at your funeral. Then I'll set something ablaze in your honour! Or not.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Got a new job with the largest shipping company in the world -- one with an acronymic name no less. I love acronyms. It was my primary reason for submitting an application. Well, that and my increasing inability to cover debt. Practical concerns have a way of imposing themselves that way.

I'm moving up in the world, though. Into my very own pod -- truthfully, a shared pod -- in a giant pod-farm with the rest of my demographic. The pay is decent, however, and the benefits seem oddly great.

Boring, yes.

But excitement breeds heartattacks, and I'm already doing more than my fair share for the cause with trans-fat laden frozen foods, heavily salted, deep-fried slices and chunks of former vegetables, and "grilled" matter passed through sliding windows by surly adolescents and embittered boomers who received mere sloppy seconds at the generational orgy.

And now that I'll be extending my domestic role of computer-transfixed slug to the workplace, it's only going to get better.

Hardening of the arteries, hypertension... maybe my very own goiter.

For company, you know.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

life is not beautiful;
discussion thereof is cliched,
in these times of faith in ephemera and yearning for bygone days.
single-serving cynicism sits betwixt sugar, pharms and spam;
in the aisle, in the mind, on the screen, and in the hand.
good consumers are we all, eating from inside out,
rotting away til naught remains but an ulcer of crippling doubt
through which drips the distillation
of our worth to state and nation.
take comfort, though, friends
for not all is lost;
we have scanned the figures, tallied the cost,
laughed at the expense of the universal boss;
mined for gold in bargain bins,
drained the oil from tuna tins;
screened our calls and strained our backs,
riddled flesh with pin,
and wall with tack;
lived vicariously,
wirelessly handsfree;
taken lovers, husbands, and wives --
and when schadenfreude would no longer suffice,
killed a god then brought it back to life.

Friday, August 11, 2006

And so the sun sets on my life of convenience. One year and a few months in change. So, how does one sum up an experience such as the one I've had during my tenure as a till-tending halfwit? I'm not sure.

Yes, I'm in a state of full-on retrospect and I don't really know what to say. I still have one week left before my "new" life begins, and work has been a bit rough lately, due to an almost wholesale turnover of staff which has coincidentally coincided with my departure. As such, my final days will be spent training the new brood, and I find myself straining to maintain the requisite decorum of a teacher. My job has been second nature to me for quite some time, performed almost unconsciously.

The fact is, there really isn't much to working in a convenience store (no kidding), but a job well done is still a job well done. Most people don't give a shit and for the most part I don't blame them; a culture which promotes the glorification of the individual to the detriment of the simple notion of community is bound to produce delusional, self-absorbed folks. I'm no different. We can't help it, so just return us the favour of indifference as we pass you on the street, a dark alley behind a club at 2:30 in the morning on a Tuesday night, or in the electrical aisle of your local(tm) Canadian Tire.

Just let us shop in peace, for the love of God.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The lottery. Mentioned in the title of this blog, but not really examined in any real depth up until now -- excepting the preceding poetic divergence from my usual bullshit. And no, I don't really give a shit anymore as to whether or not my flowery statements come of as heavyhanded. Deal with it.

Of course, this dialogue is only in my head; don't be alarmed, it's merely meant to come off as comic relief. Of course, again, my idea of comic relief may be akin to laughing at a paraplegic who has dropped their ice cream cone onto the hot summer pavement of an anonymous convenience store parking lot, watching helplessly as it gradually withers away into a congealing pool of liquid the consistency of half-dried, latex interior paint with a garish hue of pinkish blue. Not funny per say, but riveting. And an excellent way to spend twenty minutes, although I suppose I could forego the trouble and the sunburn by watching Spike TV instead. The mentally or physically infirm (present company excluded) are what the military would refer to as "soft targets" -- in the context of comedy anyways. They're usually fair game for bombs, what with their dodging skills being what they are.

So, should I lay off said people for, say, a penchant for games of chance? No chance. Because everyone plays the lottery. Sure, the easy route around the issue is to paint it as a blurry impressionistic mess entitled "Obese, near-crazyperson blows the bounty of Thursday's social assistance cheque on a hopeless endeavour and retreats to a rooming house which reeks of urine -- both human and otherwise -- and vomit -- both human and otherwise".

Unfair. Because every section of society is represented in the lotto game. Why? Because greed knows no boundaries of social class. Let me rephrase that, since greed would infer that the person already has a considerable fortune. I'll call this urge a simple yearning for wealth, or simpler still, a yearning for basic living standards. Much nicer than greed, and less sinful sounding. It's the driving principle behind investment; you're willing to part with a smaller pile of stones with the understanding that there's a chance you'll get a much bigger pile in return.

Those willing to risk a bigger pile have often worked at some level of proficiency within "respectable" society to earn or embezzle enough to move beyond living from cheque to cheque, and henceforth work through the channels befitting them. I won't use the term "rich" here, since a lot of middle-class folks (whose deaths have, hopefully, been much exaggerated as of late) have portfolios, at least in the form of RRSPs. So rather than hedge their bets on such simplistic things as a $2 Crossword ticket (rather, hundreds of them), they turn to those much more romanticized acronymic hives of greed (yes, I mean it this time) run by sweaty red-faced men in expensive suits. Not the ALC, but the TSE, or maybe...NASDAQ! It looks better with an exclamation point. Softens it. Still the most snappily-named stock exchange, though.

But when a mortgage is simply something you do in desperation during a game of Monopoly, and Chunky Soup is considered a balanced meal (both vegetables and meat, allegedly), one can hardly be bothered with poring over stock listings and dealing with brokerage houses; you simply blow your last five bucks on a Crossword Deluxe and a Monte Carlo, scratch away for a few minutes and walk out of the store disgusted with yourself. Or, if you're like the self-proclaimed scratch-ticket-man in Atlantic Lotto's latest ads, you have an aneurysm over winning enough to buy your wife a cup of coffee. Myself? I'd spend it on hard drugs, then return to my apartment.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

We all have our obsessions, driven by our subconscious to behave in ways beyond our control. They may change with time, but they're always there in one form or another. Behavioural patterns which end up filling the void of human existence. Blah blah blah. For instance, my habit to prattle on endlessly about something without ever arriving at a point. Or, conversely, to grow impatient with a line of thought before a coherent argument has taken shape, moving on to the next before the previous has reached maturation. Abortive thinking is simply harmful for society, but I have yet to see a demonstration taking place on my forehead. Although this could perhaps explain the chronic browcne (not to be confused with bacne or chimples) which plagues deep-thinking, yet chronically scatter-brained types; pores clogged by the psychological footprint of dangerous-thought protesters as they chant their mantras of conformity.

Now, I'm not implying that only the high IQ members of society have blemishes, because morons are just as sweaty and greasy as the rest of us. I've seen them: pit stains and the smell of pizza permeating every pore but never a sign of said pizza.

I guess my point is, I've noticed that everyone needs something to structure their daily existence around -- a sort of schematic for dealing with the travails of life: cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, music, or religion. Prescription painkillers, philosophy, blind hatred, and video games also figure somewhere in the mix, often in combination with the aforementioned concerns.

Painkillers and alcohol are a bad scene, though. As are philosophy and religion. Like oil and water; enlightenment and the rigours of a static belief system simply do not mesh.

I'm no different. But I've forsaken religion (I tried, I really did...went to church every Sunday for the first eighteen years of my life, but it never took; I was always distracted by the flies and chronic bad breath of my fellow parishioners...a word which has always bore far too close a resemblance to prisoners for my liking), and sex was out of the question; I was quite petrified by girls and their female wiles, and not in an accessibly virile way. Of course, due to my religious upbringing, I assumed sex, along with drinking, and most other commonly accepted means of merrymaking, were simply tools of the devil, devised to divert my attention from the embrace of the holy spirit.

So, I turned to music. When I wasn't reading, of course. Friends? I didn't need no steenking friends.

It all started with my parents' 8-track player, specifically my father's Buddy Holly tape. But the 8-track player broke.

Then, circa 1986, I received a rather diminutive red boom, rather, tinny metallic snap box for my birthday. One three inch speaker, the usual push buttons all in a row on top, volume and tuning dials on the side. I unwrapped it at the Dairy Queen in Grand Bay on a crisp November's day. Within, there was a gas-station cassette full of semi-obscure stuff from the late fifties and early sixties. Danny and the Juniors, Little Richard, the Shirelles. Ok, not exactly obscure, but I was nine, give me a break.

The thing about this sad little box, however, was the record button; it was a magical day when I realized I could tape songs off the radio by simply holding it up to one of the stereo speakers. In retrospect, I chose a rather bleak period in popular music to cut my teeth, but I still had my favorites: The Cars, Rod Stewart, Huey Lewis and the News (a choice which would dog me for years to come; sample joke: "Hey man, who's your favorite singer?" "Huey Lewis" "Well, who's your favorite band?" "uh...the News"), the Traveling Wilburys, and George Harrison.

Random fact, "I've Got My Mind Set On You" was my favorite song of 1987.

Music was always there at the push of a button, or the spin of a dial. On demand, no let downs, no insults, no questions about the pedigree of my t-shirt or jeans. It's not that we were poor. My parents simply didn't put much emphasis on keeping up appearances, and for this I thank them. But kids are assholes.

Nonetheless, from the red boom box I moved on to a walkman; not a an actual Sony Walkman, but a twenty dollar knock-off that would randomly speed up and slow down after a few months' use. In fact, I got said walkman by accident. My mother had purchased it under the false pretense of an internal speaker.

Headphones were a godsend, and of course I ended up embracing a form of music that was the antithesis of my parents' tastes. That familiar refrain, "It's not even music." I got kicked out of class for beatboxing nearly everyday when I was in third grade. Being disruptive was the official term. Of course, "beatboxing" may be a tad revisionist of me.

The Beastie Boys had blown everything open with Licensed to Ill (to a middle-class Caucasian audience, anyways) and while I wasn't allowed to own said album, one of my friends had it. We would listen to it for hours, rewinding parts that had curse words, or what sounded like curse words, convinced that "The New Style" contained the line "I've got franks and fucking beans" rather than the actual "I've got franks, and pork and beans." Swearing was really fucking cool.

Aside from the Beasties, there was DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, long before he was a TV and movie star. I ate that shit up. Thought it was hilarious. But my primary concern was always Jeff's escapades on the wheels of steel; a brilliant DJ. Great drum loops, jazzy samples, and inventive scratching techniques; he was allegedly one of the first DJs to transform, like Voltron.

But Jeff and the Prince were squeaky clean.

Still, my mother would always be hovering about. Inquiring as to what I was listening to. "Oh, that rap crap". So I'd try and keep the volume down so she wouldn't hear the tell-tale infinite loops of hi-hat emanating from my headphones.

I took a fair amount of shit from my family for my fondness of hip hop. I suppose they had no reference point for it. I was a country boy surrounded by George Jones fans, and this was long before Eminem. But I kept at it, despite the gulf between my experience and those of an increasingly disproportionate number of the protagonists of my favorite songs. The flow of the words is what caught my ear.

My main source for keeping up on the trends of the rap game came by way of the monstrous satellite dish in our back yard. Namely, BET. You see, on BET they aired "Rap City" everyday for two hours between five and seven. It was glorious. Through this medium I discovered 3rd Bass, the Wu-Tang Clan, Das Efx, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, EPMD, Gang Starr, Digital Underground; stuff that wasn't getting airtime on any local radio station.

All through high school I was consumed with hip hop. On my prom night, dateless, I sat in the car of my friend's mom listening to Enter the Wu-Tang, getting set for an evening of brooding mopery, rain and camera flash.

The Wu became my obsession. There was nothing like it at the time, and there's been so much already said about that debut album that I'd be wasting my breath by trying to add something new to the mix. So I won't. But while most kids my age were dreaming of being a guitar hero, I wanted to a DJ. Never happened.

Around 1996, hip hop started to suck. Big time. I still blame it on Puff Diddy, or whatever the fuck he goes by these days. Boring mainstream pop samples coupled with mushmouth lyrics concerned with little more than material ephemera. Great for the clubs, but no time fo the mind.
At this point I became tired of hiphop, and began to look elsewhere for satisfaction. This is where punk rock became my going concern. And also where I'll leave you for now.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Scratch tickets are fun.
Or so the ALC would have us believe.
Colourful and fun, a $2 pass to heaven.
$20,000 Carnival games contained to a 3 by 7.

"Uh....give me a... ah"

Eyes scanning the glass-encased wares like a map,
Searching for the quickest route out of perditious debt.

Searching for change.

Distracted in an instant by the door-alarm, but with hawk-like rapacity the gaze returns.

"Give me a Monte Carlo"

The mechanical precision of an opened drawer.
Socially assisted or governmentally retarded, the scratch stroke is the same;
Borrowing from the penny jar to prolong potential fame.

A trip to Moncton.
B-section snapshot.
Blurry and bleeding in the stubble-grey grain,
The contrast of public display.

But what can one expect, escape the American way(?)
If you can't be the King of England, you can -- at least -- be king for a day.