I overlooked the obvious Liz Lemonification of a recent life event

In recounting this weird thing to Nick the other day, he reminded me that it sounds an awful lot like the episode of 30 Rock where Liz reluctantly goes to her class reunion and “learns that she was not the quiet, lonely nerd she thought, but the angry bully everyone hated.”

So. There’s that.

Things you should be watching

The Gorburger Show

• Billy on the Street


• The new season of Peep Show

That’s all for now; I know you’re busy.

Don’t kill books and don’t kill movies, you jerks!

I love Andrew Sullivan, y’all know I do, but his giddy anticipation of the fall of traditional media (newspapers, dead-tree books, movie theaters; the giddiness is my reading, of course; his actual posts on the matter are calm and diplomatic, for the most part) gets me all squirmy in the bad way and riled up. Not just because it will inevitably put me out of a job but because this notion of a democratized media landscape OF THE FUTURE is predicated on the notion that everyone will be able to afford all those fancy devices required to deliver content to your home in the media landscape OF THE FUTURE.

Ebooks are often inexpensive, sure, but you have to have some fancy device to read them on. And a data plan, usually.

And this idea that movie theaters will become obsolete because everyone has a badass surround-sound 3D TV that is the size of a small house and they can just have movies instantly beamed to their media centers? I realize I am, like, a born luddite most of the time, but I swear not everyone has or can afford the kind of media setup that would inspire people to abandon the movie theater altogether. Going to the movies, while ridiculously expensive, fucking rules. Maybe I think this because I only get to do it three times a year, and I am one of those people who does it for the moviegoing experience. And YES that experience includes bitching about the people in the next row who won’t shut up or stop texting.

I don’t know. I’m rambling.

The point is, there are people in this world who can’t afford at-home entertainment setups that will rival the current media delivery setup for books and movies, and as long as we live in a country with a glut of working poor as we do now, that isn’t going to change very much. A $12 movie ticket is still going to be a more likely splurge than a $500 TV. Right?

Oh my god. I am completely out of touch, aren’t I?

I have a 27-inch CRT TV in my living room, hooked up to cable WITH NO DVR.

Confidential to Richard Belzer on ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’

Shut up.

Shut up shut up shut up



Day 41/365: Comcastic … Er … To XFinity and Beyond?


For the first time in years, I’ve got cable. I’m only a couple of hours in and already I’m poised to punch some people. Like those jackbags on the commercials for the company that will give you cash for your unwanted gift cards. “If you’re like many people, you’ve got gift cards piling up unused in a kitchen drawer!” (Uh … no, I don’t.) Cut to ungrateful assholes bitching about all their unwanted gift cards they don’t have the time or patience to spend. “Why can’t I just have the cash?!” Yeesh, people. I know you’re fictional creations of a feverish marketing mind, but I want to break your faces. Someone gives me a gift card and I get excited as shit.


And now the second Jackass movie is on. Why can’t Bam Margera disappear from Earth and be replaced by a second Chris Pontius? I should really attempt to channel surf or read a book or answer a backlog of e-mails. I’m braindead, though. I’ve been up since 8 a.m. and I’ve been working on half a dozen projects and I just feel spent.

I wanted to use this opportunity to write a long rant about AT&T, but that is going to have to wait.

[Project 365]

The picker paradox

nature always wins

Lately we’ve been watching episodes of American Pickers on Netflix streaming, and even though I enjoy the show (okay, I mostly enjoy pretending that the hosts are secretly in love with each other and that every pick each dude makes is secretly an attempt to find the perfect gift for the other dude), there’s something I find unsettling about it.

I know the whole purpose of the show is finding treasure among junk and giving things new life. It’s the same thing with the house-flipping shows. I get that. And I appreciate that. Like any red-blooded consumer of stuff, I love browsing overcrowded thrift stores and antique malls and tourist traps that are teeming with crap. And I enjoy the personalities of many of the (usually) old people the guys encounter and try to haggle with.

But the whole thing just makes me sort of sad. Every time their weird little van pulls off on yet another country road and into yet another country driveway, I see sadness and decay. I see my home and my family history. As the pickers rifle through dusty junk in dilapidated barns with corrugated metal roofs, looking for knick-knacks with old advertising logos on them, I see an entire way of life that has all but evaporated. I don’t know. It feels like watching vultures feed on the carcass of agricultural America.

I know that sounds hyperbolic (it is!). I know I am feh-ing all over good, clean, enterprising American fun, but I get so profoundly sad sometimes watching these old people be nickel and dimed out of ancient relics that they have for whatever reason hung onto throughout their entire lives. These pickers go from rusty graveyard to rusty graveyard, prying gems out of headstones and leaving a few dollar bills under a rock. Granted, a lot of these sellers are making decent money from the pickers on the show, and in turn getting good exposure to other collectors who might be watching and researching. That’s nice.

It’s a business, I get it. But it’s a macabre one.

My family lives on one of these rural American graveyards. It might be a picker’s paradise for all I know. I just know this: It wasn’t always a graveyard. Once upon a time, those rusting heaps that are scattered throughout our sheds and barns and pastures were shiny and new (but not for long), and hauled hay, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, corn, and soybeans all over the Mid-South.

the suburban   spartan

chains   bread and butter  

The farm has gone from functional to almost completely symbolic in my lifetime. When I was born, my dad was a farmer. That was his job. As it has been his dad’s job. I remember when Dad wore big trucker hats to keep the sun out of his eyes as he maneuvered his tractor around the hundreds of acres he was responsible for tending. He sported the finest farmer’s tan known to man. (Seriously, you need to click that link. I’ll wait.) (Glad you clicked, aren’t you?) Even my sister was expected to help out with farm duties; some of my earliest memories are of going with her to slop hogs before school. I remember seeing pigs being born and playing in the grain bins.

When I was itty bitty, Dad got a job at the local paper mill, and his time spent doing farm stuff started to fall off. Eventually almost all of the livestock was sold off and Triple T Farms wasn’t farming nearly as many acres as it had been in the past. Equipment broke down and became too costly to fix and too expensive to replace and one day suddenly everyone in the family was punching the clock away from the farm, and we were surrounded by scrap metal being overtaken by vines and dust.

I’m not trying to over-romanticize farm work. It’s hard and it’s thankless and it’s constant. It’s tied to the fickle whims of nature. But it is honest work, valuable work. Necessary work. Work that is so organic that it puts you in touch with the very nature of life itself. These days, it is rare work.

I don’t know. It’s hard to think about how a place can become a picker’s paradise without having to confront the loss and pain that got it there.

But then again, that’s anything, I suppose.