Friday, October 29, 2004 at 13:18:31 (EDT)

It's all over now baby blue
Ah, they put up some more pictures from the last WYSIWYG show, of which I was a part. Once I get home, I'll get to work on processing not only the video from that performance, but some of the other videos the Sylvia was kind enough to shoot of several of the last Motico performances! See? My working at home benefits you AND me.

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Friday, October 29, 2004 at 12:27:57 (EDT)

You've got to fight to see things your way
Last night my dad was in town again. He's always asking if I want to do something when he comes to town, but I can never think of anything to do besides going out to dinner. And after my last two weeks in the office, my imagination has been especially stunted. So, uncharacteristically, I requested that we go see a movie. Sitting for two hours without the stress of having to make conversation sounded good to me.

My dad always stays near Times Square when he's in town which means I have spent far more time in that hell-hole than I ever would otherwise. To think, some people's impression of New York begins and ends with Times Square. No wonder they think we're weirdos. Who can stand that place for more than 10 consecutive minutes? Anyway we went to that AMC theater, the one with the series of narrow escalators that take you up and up and up into the stratosphere, as the glare of the Great White Way retreats from you view through the big windows.

We saw Collateral, that Tom Cruise/Jamie Fox movie. It was better than I expected, but I've always had a problem with Michael Mann. Is there any other director who so wishes it was still 1985? Does LA really look like that or is it just his production designer? Anyway before the movie started some homeless guy somehow got into the theater. He had been sitting right behind us for a while when several of the burliest staff members entered the theater, asking to see his ticket stub. He produced a stub from the previous showing of the film, so they asked him to leave.

"But I missed the beginning of the movie," he whined in a super-nasally, old-New York accent. "I just came in here to see the first ten minutes." The staff argued that this was not allowed, that he would have to leave. He wouldn't budge.

"No! I paid for this movie and I'm going to see the part I missed! Stop picking on me!" They tried to convince him to come down to the manager's office to work it out away from the other patrons.

"You won't let me back in if I go out there now. Leave me alone. Why don't you pick on the people who come in here drunk, and the ones who cause a big scene?" He was already causing quite a scene himself. The words "police" and "arrested" were uttered.

"Go! Call the police! They'll have to drag me out of here, and I'll scream bloody murder the whole way!" This was going to be a good show.

They kept trying to reason with him, but to no avail. He started ahouting, "You're just doing this to pick on me. Because I 'm a senior citizen. It gives you a SEXUAL THRILL to pick on SENIOR CITIZENS!"

Other people in the audience were pleading with the staff to just let him stay for the supposed first ten minutes, reasoning that if that's truly all he planned to do, he would leave after he saw the opening of the film. But like George Bush, AMC does not negotiate with terrorists.

They called the manager in, who was a little more honey-tongued than the other guys. He talked it over with the homeless guy and eventually he got up and was led out of the theater. The last thing I heard him say, much more quietly, "If I go with you now, is there still a chance you'll let me back in?"

I was a little let down by his calm exit. Sure it's always a little off-putting when some nut freaks out in front of you, but we see this sort of thing fairly often around here. And this guy was clearly not a physical threat to anyone, just an aural threat. I feel like the only way that everybody involved could attain proper closure for this scene would be to actually have the cops, possibly in riot gear, drag him out while he screams bloody murder the whole way. The audience would feel like they had really gotten to see something unique, the staff would feel justified in their sense that this guy needed to go, the cops of course would enjoy it, and the man himself could maintain a sort of self-righteousness. He had done what he said he'd do, he stuck to his guns in the face of overwhelming adversity.

But he didn't, so we had only the film to entertain us. Afterward,s we went to John's Pizza, which, despite being in Times Square, makes really good pies.

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Friday, October 29, 2004 at 11:57:13 (EDT)

Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name
I had made a deal with Frank D for his spare hard token. He said he'd hand it over if it looked like I wasn't going to get one through legitimate channels. But if he gave it to me and then I received one from the head office, he and I never met. This conversation did not take place. I'm not sure why my having more than one hard token would put me in such peril when Frank already had two to his name. But he's the boss of the whole division. I guess he's less expendable than I.

But all my back-room deal making was for naught, because I was handed my very own hard token as I entered the office today. I think they just wanted me to give two full weeks of in-the-office employment before letting me off the hook. Well screw that! As soon as I finish up a couple of things I am history. I gotta get laundry done, I gotta clean my room, I gotta go to the Salvation Army store, all things best done during the workday, if you can swing it.

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Thursday, October 28, 2004 at 13:59:36 (EDT)

Let's get rid of New York

Wow, what a dream. Gothamist just reminded me of this New York Magazine article about the possibility of New York City seceding from the Union. Actually at this point, even the vision of the city in the future (well, 1997) featured in Escape from New York is starting to look pretty good.

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Thursday, October 28, 2004 at 13:16:32 (EDT)

Take a stand, fuck the man
I ask my boss if he has any idea why I haven't received my hard token yet. He says he doesn't know. He tells me, "Go up to Room 400 and ask." Room 400 is where they have been processing and distributing the hard tokens. I was up there earlier in the week but not surprisingly, they were of no help. They looked to see if my hard token was there, but it wasn't. That's all they knew. They only looked blankly when I told them how I had been told our department would have first priority since we are mostly remote users.

So I go up to the 38th floor and revisit Room 400. It's like a scene from a David Mamet script: the office, previously full of people on phones, tons of paper and hard tokens piled everywhere ... is totally empty. It's as though there never was a team of people doling out hard tokens to needy office drones. Hard Token? Never heard of it. Get outta here, kid.

I return to my floor to ask my boss if he know where they went (of course he won't know, I just want to rub it in that he doesn't know). My boss is gone. His computer is locked, which means he won't be back for a long time.

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Thursday, October 28, 2004 at 12:22:54 (EDT)

I don't care if I don't make it back
Jeez I've been having a bad week. Going into the office is wearing thin, still no hard token in sight. I caught a cold the other day, most likely from having to consort with these officefolk on a daily basis (the cold was bad enough to take me out for one night but not even enough to keep me home the next day). And of course I'm still coping with the loss of Toby earlier in the week.

To top it all off, on my way to Freddy's last night I got a flat tire. No, it's not the end of the world, but when you have one of these uphill weeks, a little thing like that seems like an omen, telling me "Don't go to that spelling bee!" And I almost didn't. I was about to turn around, take my bike home and climb into bed with a bottle of Jim Beam. But for some reason I decided to lock the bike carcass to a scaffolding and walk to the bar. I arrived just before the bee was to begin, but there was not, shall we say, a full house waiting to spell. There were four people, counting me and the Spellmeister.

Josh pushed back the starting time an hour to allow stragglers to get in on the action. By 9 there were a couple more people, including Linus, who claimed he would only be observing (although he did later participate, but Josh used a special "Linus List" for his words). We still didn't have much of a group, but we decided to go anyway. Kathy won the first round, which went so fast Josh declared there would be a second round. More people who had wandered in signed up and spelled, but somehow Kathy won again. We had a third round and just when it looked like Kathy would sweep the series, she misspelled "sarsaparilla" and some other woman won the dough. Overall, I did better this night but still got knocked out on words like 'occurrence' and 'decrement', those damn words with and 'e' in the middle that sounds like an 'a' to me. I did spell 'facetious' correctly, more or less.

It's amazing how a little spelling competition can take your mind of how lame your life is. It's in those brief moments that I understand how people can watch organized sports on TV. Speaking of which, the other room at Freddy's was full of Sox fans, all of whom were forgetting their problems to the strains of "I'm a Believer" (every time Boston got a run), "Roadrunner" (the Modern Lovers song), "Dirty Water" (that song about Boston), and a really annoying version of "Take Me Out to the Ball game." Tim the bartender played these songs over and over. I never thought I would get sick of "Roadrunner" but I came close last night. We wanted him to put on Boston's first album, but I don't know that anybody ever actually asked him to cue it up.

So we were all packed in main bar room to watch the rest of the game. Meanwhile outside we had an unobstructed view of the lunar eclipse. Kathy was walking around with all her prize money conspicuously fanned out in her front pocket. I totally forgot to take pictures of any of this. Maybe it's better if it stays a memory. At the end of the night, I borrowed a bike pump from Heather and tried to temporarily inflate my flat tire. It totally didn't work, I must have rolled over a nail or something. So I had to drag the bike all the way home. But when i was two blocks from my door i just got on the thing and rode it the rest of the way. I probably did some further damage to it, but by then I could care less.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004 at 14:57:59 (EDT)

A little bit of all you got
The subway is 100 years old today.

What better way to celebrate this milestone than by going to Freddy's to participate in the monthly Spelling Bee, with your host, funnyman Josh Reynolds? I don't know what the policy is on allowing previous victors back in the contest, but if Linus enters tonight I'm just gonna get straight to the drinking because hey, there's no way I can compete with that.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004 at 12:25:05 (EDT)

Just one word: Backslider
Let's try to think of something other than depressing cat stories. Day 9 in the office and still no sign of the hard token. Due to my company's incredibly efficient expediency, my department (full of people who telecommute every single day) were not given the priority we were promised because, as my boss put it, "You're not officially virtual workers." Okay, sure, we were not hired to work remotely, but after September 11th left us without a building and Weehawken, NJ, left us without enough space for everybody, we were handed laptops and commanded to work from home. We have been doing this for several years now. The fact that there may not be an official distinction to our work-at-home status should be immaterial; obviously, we are virtual workers.

Right, boss?

Once again, my boss refuses to help us in any way. He butts up against the status quo and lays down faster than a cat on a heating vent. The man has the authority to officially change our status, or hell, he could just make some actual phone calls. But no, he's swept helplessly along in the Tide of Business, feebly burbling about how chaotic it's been since all the remote users had to come into the office. What a dick.

In the political sphere, The New Yorker has published a long and informative article throwing their support for Kerry, qualified not only by his record but also an extensive examination of Bush's incredibly hypocritical and shortsighted Administration. But of course it will convert exactly no one as it is pretty much preaching to the choir. Why has it been so difficult to bridge the gap this time? Is it because there are only two real kinds of Americans: the type who responds to logic and common sense, and the type who responds out of fear?

Speaking of partisan politics, the backlash against Jon Stewart has begun. He's getting criticized for wanting to have his cake and eat it too as a mostly-political comedian who can also earnestly bash those he accuses of ineffectual journalism. But they've got it backwards, it's his critics who want it both ways. They want to hold Stewart up to some standard of journalism that was abandoned long ago by all other 'hard' news programs because his humor is so rooted in politics. But comedy doesn't work that way. Satire says, "Look at how absurd the system is!" It is not the job of satire to necessarily propose solutions. Stewart is in a unique position; he can't be touched. He can say whatever he wants because he's smart enough to know when to say them, and he's funny enough that nobody really ever gets tired of him. When critics rail against him, their overstatement of his importance means their priorities are mismanaged. Like Stewart said to Carlson Tucker, "If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to." If only our politicians were as smart as this guy.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004 at 13:15:51 (EDT)

I don't know how to put this on a blog so I'll just blurt it out. Toby's bloodwork came back and the prognosis is terrible. He is FIV positive, his liver has basically shut down and the disease has left his bone marrow impaired, meaning his red and white blood cells are not being produced properly. Despite the positive signs I heard about yesterday, apparently he is not keeping his temperature up and requires tons of outside meds just to keep him going at this level. The vet said there is basically nothing else they can do for him. They're putting him to sleep.

FIV is obviously a very serious incurable disease, but Toby was still a young cat. Many cats with FIV live for years before there's even a hint that something could go wrong. What I'm saying is, I think the shady vet who ran the expensive blood tests on him on September 8 either didn't bother to really test him, or were so incompetent as to miss his FIV+ status. I suppose there is the possibility that it just didn't show up (I know that can happen), but fuck it, I gotta direct my anger at something. Then again, even if they had caught it, I don't even know what I would have done.

Either way it all sucks. The little guy was sick when we took him in and he pretty much just got worse the whole time we had him. It's so unfair, and I know, life isn't fair, but it still bothers me. Why does a totally unassuming cat with a sweet disposition get taken out while some totally antisocial alley cat lives for decades? I wonder which cat infected him, is it one of the cats I see in the yard all the time? And of course there is the nagging concerns about our other cats and whether they were exposed (although I've heard the chances are slim).

I'm trying to console myself with the whole "well, you gave him a good home for the last part of his life" speech, but it still seems like there must have been some other, better way this could have turned out. Thanks for everybody's kind words, I'm sorry Toby's story didn't have a happier ending.

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Monday, October 25, 2004 at 13:07:43 (EDT)

One more mouth you can't feed

Toby the stray cat has taken a turn for the worse. Buzz found him unable to even walk on Sunday morning, and he was displaying signs of jaundice. He had been lethargic over the past few days and as much as I hate to say it, if I didn't have to come into this stupid office I would have taken him to the vet sometime last week. But there was no way of knowing how severe his condition was. The vet pronounced it liver failure, but couldn't say what caused it. Although he had been feverish just a month ago, his temperature was now far below normal, like his body was just giving up. They took him in and put him on an IV, we'll have some blood test results later today. Although this is obviously pretty dire, I am strangely optimistic that he'll pull through.

Ever since we took him in this cat has had problems. He never seemed completely well, he was always getting over one thing or another. Whatever is causing this liver problem most likely has something to do with his overall failure to thrive, so at the very least we will know what we're up against. I've never had a cat who was this messed up, so I'm sort of at a loss to know what to expect. But at this point contemplating anything other than an optimistic outlook is far too depressing to consider.

I'm all for the vets working their magic on him, but they are charging an arm and a leg for his treatment. I can't believe now how I used to balk at the few hundred dollars I've spent on a given cat here and there. They're asking for serious cash here. They say they will try to keep the costs down by only doing what is absolutely necessary, but it's still gonna cost a small fortune. It won't break me, but it will set me back quite a bit in terms of my vague savings plans. I'll have to make sure I don't get fired any time soon.

If it's any consolation, the vet showed Buzz another cat who had the same problem but was even worse off. Toby's still been eating (liver failure often occurs if a cat stops eating for several days), so at least he's not the sickest cat at the animal hospital.

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Week of October 24-30, 2004

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