Time For a Little Ranting…..

November 30, 2006

I am not the most patient person when it comes to personal commerce. By that I mean, when I’m out running errands at the drug store, the gas station, the grocery store and such, I really just want to make my transaction of cash for goods and/or services as quickly as humanly possible and get out.

Having this self awareness I tend to cut my fellow erranders a lot of slack, reminding myself that the man ahead of me in line at the Xtra Mart isn’t plotting to make me late for the newest installment of Think About It on cable channel 15, he’s just putting his change in his wallet.

There are, however, some things that occur that I can’t deep-breathe my way around. There are some people out there slowing down the progress of the free market by acts of sabotage worthy of Anti-Capitalist Marxists.  Here are a few of the top offenders:

  • The “How’s Your Family” Customer: This one is more prevalent in small towns and communities. Usually a bit older and generally male, they know the family of the person working the counter and make conversation while the transaction is happening. That’s fine, but all too often the familial concern will stop the transaction dead or, even more frequently, continue after the transaction has ended. Here’s a quick note: The high school kid checking out your groceries doesn’t remember you from when she was “just this high” and is only waiting for work to end. Know her parents? Call them directly. Or stop by. Just get out of the way.
  • Ms. “I know I Have the Correct Change in My Purse Somewhere”: I’m begging you. Just accept the 37 cents in change. Please. Put it in a jar in your house, in the ashtray of your car, up your nose, I don’t care. Just TAKE THE DAMN CHANGE!!! And if you do reject the legal tender being offered you and insist on rooting through the black hole you carry on your shoulder until you finally find the right amount, don’t look at all of the people in line behind you for vindication. No one there is impressed you had exact change. In fact, they all hate you.

 And staying on the subject of purses for a moment:

  • Madam”Let Me Just Put This All Away”: So after the change has been found (or the coupon, or wallet, or bank card, or ice pick for my temple) everything that was removed from the purse has to be put back. Right there. At the front of the line. Without moving out of the way enough for anyone else to proceed. Another tip: When the cashier says “May I help the next person?” they are saying to you ,”Your time is up, you pain in the ass.  Move it!”
  • The Completely Unprepared Customer: I love this one, because it takes a special kind of stupid to achieve. The line is long, everyone has been waiting for a while, yet this person manages to be surprised by the act of buying something when it is their turn. The wallet is still in the pocket, the item to be bought on the floor between their feet as they peruse Soap Opera Digest (Luke and Laura the second time around just isn’t as exciting somehow, is it?), the decision between the Twix bar or the Teriyaki Jerky still unmade. I have to ask this person, how did you miss the lead-up? We were all here, all in line at the same time, sharing the pain. How in God’s name did….? Forget it. You’re out. Really. Leave the line. And never try to buy anything again. You might hurt yourself.

And my all time number one offender:

  • Mr. “I’ll Take two Free-For-All’s, two Gold Mine’s and a Lucky Jackpot”: All I want to do is buy a gallon of milk and go home.  The guy in front of me looks like he is doing the same. All is well. Then, it happens. He looks behind the counter, past the clerk to the clear plastic dispenser filled to the brim with scratch tickets. Now, the lotto is fine, but I think everyone knows that the odds are pretty bad, even on the small stakes games, so I would imagine the difference between one 2 dollar ticket and the next is pretty minimal except for the stupid ways they dress it up to try and make it seem as if you’re doing something more than rubbing paper with a coin.  So just say,”Three 2 dollar tickets, please.” No. That’s not how it works. Minute after excruciating minute is spent deciding between the one that has you scratch off little footballs and one that has you scratch off little pots o’ gold.  And after you have made this life altering decision, you’re going to stand there and play them, aren’t you, on the off chance that you win so you can buy some more tickets. Right there, in front of me, as the expiration date on my gallon of milk ticks ever closer until, when you are finally finished, I am now holding a gallon of cottage cheese.   

We have  little enough time to accomplish our menial tasks in this day and age, so I ask…no I beg anyone who thinks they fit one or more of the categories above; stay home. For the love of all that’s holy, don’t go in the store. Shop online. It’s so convenient. And nowhere near me.



R.I.P. Robert Altman

November 21, 2006

Film Director Robert Altman died today at the age of 81. He was one of my favorite directors of some of my favorite films: M*A*S*H, Short Cuts, Gosford Park, The Player.

Altman was best known for his innovative use of sound with dialogue. Layers and layers of dialogue on top of each other, snippets of conversation coming to the front. An Altman crowd scene on film is a very realistic experience, the viewer hearing it as if they are in the crowd themselves. Watch M*A*S*H and pay close attention to the operation room scenes. They are the best examples of his extraordinary sense of dialogue.

Check out his list of credits at www.imdb.com

Closing the Doors of Perception

November 14, 2006


There are not one, but two new box sets out for Christmas of collections of music from The Doors.  Almost 200 tracks between the two of them. All of the studio output, alternate takes and lots of live tracks.

This must be what hell is like.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love classic rock. Led Zep still plays on my iTunes. The Beatles are ever present in my car. Even Grand Funk Railroad has been known to make an appearance in my headphones.

But the Doors? No. No way. No way in hell. Oh. I’ve heard all of the arguments: Poet; misunderstood poet; poet ahead of his time.

Let’s try this one: Bad poet. Or even better, Drunken Ramblings of a Man Who Wished He Was a Poet.

I can hear the screams of outrage. I don’t care. Jim Morrison is one of the most overrated figures in all of rock. His lyrics are inane, his imagery convoluted and murky at best. The band’s attempts at blues are laughable, especially when compared to their contemporaries. (Roadhouse Blues vs. Anything by Cream, anyone? Or even Mountain, for that matter. At least they had balls. And a bass player) Ray Manzarek’s rambling organ playing is so disjointed and of a (very brief) time that it makes Canned Heat seem more relevant today.

Yes, I went through a doors phase in high school. I read the ridiculous biography “No One Here Gets Out Alive” and for a brief period I bought into the hype.

Then I grew up and moved on.

Two boxed sets. Two! What a wasteful society we have become.


November 8, 2006

So that happened. And maybe the Senate, too.

Rummy quits (scapegoat, anyone?) and Bush has the balls to say at his press conference today that it doesn’t matter who is in power, Repubs or Dems, we are all Americans and all want to protect our great nation.

Wha?!? Just last week he was saying that if the Democrats win the country will be attacked by everything from terrorists to killer bees!

Well, no matter, Mr. Lame-Duck. The neo-con agenda is broken. Its just too bad that so much damage has been done already. 

Congrats, Dems. The ball is in your court now. Do us proud.

And don’t F#*k it up.


November 7, 2006

It’s 12:25pm est in beautiful North Adams and I’m nervous as hell. There have already been reports of voting machine problems, questionable registrations, dubious practices at polls making it hard for voters from various parts of the country, most frighteningly, Ohio. Again.

If nothing in Congressional control changes tonight I can only surmise that the massive GOP election machine has stolen another one and I have to seriously consider a move to a different country. Its not that I think the Democrats will solve all of the problems, but what we have is obviously so broken that change is essential.

The wait is killing me.

Election Day in the Berkshires

November 7, 2006

I’ve voted.

Patrick for Governor

Downing for State Senate

Dirty Uncle Teddy for US Sentate, of course.

Rep. Olver for US House.

A thank you vote for State Rep. Dan Bosley, who is running unopposed.

No vote for unoppossed county DA Capeless. I just think he has his priorities a bit askew.

No on questions 1,2 and 3

Yes on question 4.  A symbolic gesture.

Anyone else in the area get out there yet?