Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No Pain, No Gain

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: A CD from the library called Tune Toons. I spoke of it before, with the horrid Popeye theme song. A recent trip to the library has brought it back into my life.

WHAT I'M READING: Alan Alda's first memoir "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed", because I've always liked Alda. A huge MASH fan.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Viewed No Country for Old Men today. Awesome film. I've seen all five Oscar nominees now, and three (this, Juno, There Will Be Blood) were excellent films. Kudos to the Academy. I watched I'm Not There last night. Pretty good, but it took me awhile to come to that conclusion. A love it/hate it type film with enough smoking to kill your grandma.

THREE weeks back I broke down and joined a local gym. I'd had enough of being out of shape. Back in 1998, a friend conned me into going to his gym, and I joined up. I got into it after awhile, and enjoyed my thrice weekly visits. But about mid-2000 it became easier to not go. I had just gotten engaged and was spending mucho time with my now-wife. Plus with work and other things, I seemed to always find an excuse to not go. So I quit.

Usually I hover between 185-200. I got up to 210 in early 2004, but after a very stressful time on third shift and several illnesses, I dropped thirty pounds quickly. So quickly I didn't even notice until somebody told me. I was happy at 180.

Then I got a job at Edy's Ice Cream. Most of the time is spent in my car. I wound up eating my lunches as I drove. The weight came back, big time.

I topped out, about a month ago, at 222. A gut that scared and insulted me whenever I looked at it.

So I finally broke down and joined a local gym. It's only about six minutes from home, and costs under twenty bucks per month. Plus there's no membership; it's month-by-month. So little excuse not to go. The first two weeks, I worked exclusively on cardio. Running on the treadmill for fifteen minutes (usually got over two miles in), then doing some crunches, then hitting the bike for another fifteen to twenty minutes (usually got over five miles, I rule on the bike). Some more crunches, and I went home.

This week, I broke that routine. I started hitting the weight machines. Unlike some, I really enjoy lifting weights. I had forgotten just how much until Monday, when I started. I still warm up for ten on the treadmill, but then hit the machines. I work my way down one row, hitting every machine, before working back on the other (skipping some machines, as I don't work my legs too much).

I feel great. Sore, but great. Of course I overdo it. But I get into the work-out and forget to pace myself. Right now I can barely lift my right arm to my ear, as I've somehow bruised the back of my bicep. But I'm loving my time in the gym. It gives me a high like no other.

If you're thinking about joining a gym, just do it (don't sue, Nike). You'll feel great.

ONE quick observation. How low has TV sunk that we now have a reality show where young couples are given the BABIES of other couples to raise for a few weeks, in order to prepare them. Those babies must feel loved to be handed off by their parents. And what is the point? You treat your own kids much better than others. You tolerate more. You sacrifice more.

It just seems, to me, to be the dumbest reality show yet. Even worse than swapping wives.

Be Seeing You.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Scully Size Me!

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: Track number six on The Fountain soundtrack is getting a lot of play lately. It's a gorgeous little piece called Xabulba (I know I misspelled that to all-hell) that puts me in a reflective mood as I drive.

WHAT I'M READING: Finally got that dull-ass McCain book out of my life. It was like steroids, in that it made me very angry and shriveled by penis. Now on to the June/July issue of MajorLeagueSoccer magazine (glad to see it still going strong, as the last major U.S. soccer magazine-Striker-only lasted three issues). Next book up is something called "A Nation of Wimps: the high cost of invasive parenting" by Hara Estroff Marano. I'm reading it to hone yet another way to scar my children forever before age five.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Enjoyed the UFC Ultimate Finale last night LIVE on Spike TV. Pretty damn good fight card and I actually like the fella who won the Ultimate Fighter 7 (Amir Sadallah if you care). Plus, Evan Tanner was sporting the Hobo Beard (tm). And, of course, season four of the X-Files. Not to mention Euro 2008.

OKAY, let me put this down for the record right now. Season Four of the X-Files is the height of Scully hotness. She looked damn good before, and she'll continue making me tingle for five more seasons (and two movies). But she never looked more attractive, nor ever seemed more intelligent than in Season Four. I'd punch my mother in the throat to have just a few seconds alone with Scully. Hell, she could sit naked next to my bed reading Shakespearian sonnets whilst I jingle-jangle-jingle for all I care.

It is definitely the combination of heart stopping attractive looks, intelligence, medical knowledge, an allegiance to doing what is right, and her command of her weapon that wrap itself up into one awesome, eye-popping Scully in a blanket.

I don't know if Gillian Anderson is smart or not, nor do I wish to find out. My attraction is to Agent Scully. Definitely in the top three hottest TV characters of all-time pantheon.

Mulder's not so bad either (that's for you, honey).

SPEAKING of the Hobo Beard (tm), every time I see a man with one, I get jealous. I also get the strong desire to grow a beard and let it go all funky and hobo-style. A Soup Saver I call it. You know, when the guy lets his beard grow long and mangy, like a street bum or a mountain man, or a MMA fighter (thanks to Kimbo Slice and Evan Tanner).

The only thing stopping me is a wife who hates beards. I can probably talk her into letting me grow a beard, but could never get her support on letting it get all bushy and such.

But I swear to all you faithful readers (both of you) that if I ever go off on my own to finish my great screenplay or novel, that I shall grow a Hobo Beard (tm) whilst writing, and come out of my cabin-in-the-woods seclusion with some fresh pages and a beard that made Tom Berenger's fake beard in Gettysburg look like a bikini-waxed pubic region.

Think Scully would find that hot?

Be Seeing You.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Interview with a Jackass

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: The soundtrack to "There's Something About Mary", especially Danny Wilson's "Mary's Prayer" which is a nice little tune.

WHAT I'M READING: The dull McCain book still holds me captive, but luckily it's due back tomorrow so I'll be rid of it. It's like a spell, really.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: X-Files with no lights on. Euro 2008 as it heads to the quarter-finals. Plus, I got "No Country for Old Men" for Father's Day so I want to watch it soon. Way too late to be seeing last year' s Best Picture.

HOPE everybody had a great Father's Day. Mine was excellent. Morning with the boys and wife, afternoon with the in-laws up North. A wonderful dinner, some time at a brand new park, and gorgeous weather. It was good.

Today, not as such.

Had my second interview. I touched on it briefly last time, thinking it might be exciting news. But as the good book says "We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us." See, it's with this company. First interview went well. Not great, but I'm never a great interview. But good. This time, I was more prepared than ever before. I had notes written down, questions written out. My wife did internet research on the company. I was prepared to rock this bitch.

It went downhill quickly. The lady I interviewed with last time was there, but so was some guy. Maybe her boss. Not sure. They sat me down across from both of them. He smiled and said it wasn't an interrogation. Then he spent the next forty-five minutes interrogating me. Short of the waterboarding, it was as close to Gitmo as I'll get in this lifetime.

See, somebody who once was the assistant manager at a store I worked for long ago apparently also works at this company. And apparently he didn't speak highly of me. I can only think of one real reason why, since we were always on good terms. He had been fired from that old company shortly after I left for stealing money from the cash drawers. I think maybe he didn't want me there to rat him out, as I can't believe they would have hired him if he told them what he did.

I'll break it down. At that job, I was the third shift manager. I was okay. Not great. I didn't love the job, but I did it. Unfortunately, I was caught between two bosses. One was the grocery manager, who was my direct boss. The other was the store manager, boss of all. They didn't like each other. They also constantly gave me conflicting orders. The grocery manager would tell me one thing. I'd have my guys and I do it. The store manager would get mad and tell me off. So I'd do it his way next time. The grocery manager would get mad and tell me off. I'd explain "Well, the Store Manager told me to do it this way." That would just get me chewed out, because it was his grocery department. I'd tell the store manager "Well, the Grocery Manager told me to do this" and I'd get yelled at that it was his store. No win.

After a few lies from the store manager (various, some about pay, some about shifts), I got fed up. Around Thanksgiving, I got so sick I couldn't leave the bathroom for hours. When I called off, both told me I showed a lack of commitment and was nothing but a disappointment to the company for letting my team down. That my team didn't care was beside the point. I was told to get the holiday backstock out of the backroom in two days or I'd be fired. My crew and I did it. I was proud of them. But behind my back, my assistant was being told that he'd have my job soon anyway, because they were going to find some reason to get rid of me. Nice way to run a business, huh?

So in December I put in for a job with a certain ice cream company. I got interviewed. I got the job, pending a drug test. Now, I don't do drugs. Ever. Not so much as even smoking once in my life. So I knew I would pass it. But the ice cream company told me not to put in my notice until they had an official negative drug test. So I didn't. I told my crew, but nobody else. Being the holiday season, it took an abnormally long time to get that drug test result back.

During that long wait, the store manager decided to demote me. Now, they gave me a few different reasons, all of which were not quite accurate. For example, in order to shut up the whining one night, I told my crew that possibly if we did job A, we wouldn't have to do job B. I planned to do both, but at four in the morning you say a lot of things to shut up whining and get guys working. We did job A. It was close to the end of the shift. We were told we could leave before finishing job B.

Now, in the demotion meeting, it became a little less positive. They claimed I had told my crew that we would do job A and leave job B for the day crew. Not what I said. Especially when you consider we actually started job B and were told to leave before finishing it. But they didn't let those facts get in the way. With a little spin, they had an excuse.

So, I was demoted before I could turn in my two weeks notice for the job I already had lined up. And it pissed me off that I couldn't just tell them I'm leaving, but the ice cream company told me not to. Not four days after my demotion, the result came back and I was allowed to put in my notice. Remember all that, because it's important.

I bored you with that to finish this:

Apparently the assistant who had been fired told them about my demotion. But he told them I was demoted, and only after that did I apply for and get the ice cream job. Basically, he told them I only left that company due to my demotion.

So right off the bat during my interview (with a Jackass), the Jackass begins questioning me. Not outright calling me a liar, but slyly alluding to it. He starts like this: "Did you know Assistant Manager now works here? Okay, this interview is not an interrogation, we just want to make sure we hire the right person. Somebody who turned in a accurate resume and application."

So they ask me about my work history. What I did before, what I do now. Usual stuff. But quickly, Jackass starts asking why I left the last company for the ice cream crew. At first, I don't want to sound negative, or like I'm bashing. So I allude to conflicts in personality with management. But he pushes. So I tell him a few things that happened to explain why I left, but tried to candy coat it as more wanting to explore a new opportunity (which was true-I was leaving for more money, better hours, and more chances to grow professionally). But it wasn't good enough. Jackass kept coming back with "Well, I can understand that, kind of. But even that isn't enough to convince me that you left a company after fourteen years just for that. What I want to know is what's the real reason."

I was frustrated internally. It kept coming back to the reason. I wanted an opportunity and the conflict of personality. It was the truth. But Jackass wasn't buying it because they were told different. So finally I said it plainly: "Look, I applied for and got the job with the ice cream company in early December. I couldn't put in my two weeks until the drug test came back. I knew it would come back negative, but couldn't put in my two weeks until it came back. Days before it came back, I was demoted as I said. Once it came back, I put in my two weeks."

Jackass started to tell me that I must have left because of the demotion. It wasn't about the opportunity, but the demotion. "So you get demoted, then find this new job."

"No. I had the job before I was demoted."

"Did they know this?"

"No, Ice Cream asked me to say nothing until the drug test came back."

"Was there concern about the drug test result?"

"No. I've never done any drugs. But until it officially came back, I couldn't say anything."

"So what I'm hearing is you get demoted, than there's this other job and you leave."

"I had the ice cream job lined up weeks before the demotion."

"But they didn't know that. So you got demoted and left. That's why you left the company after fourteen years."

"Let me explain it. I wanted a new opportunity. I applied with the ice cream company early in December. I got that job by mid-December. I had to wait on my drug..."

"I heard you about the test. But what I'm looking at here is you didn't mention that you left the company because of the demotion on your application with us. You put down you wanted a new opportunity, but there's nothing about the demotion causing you to leave."

"Because I left for the opportunity. The demotion came after I had the job."

"But you didn't put in a two weeks notice. Did you even give them two weeks?"

"Yes, of course. I left on very good terms."

"Did you? After the demotion?"

"I would have been leaving anyway."

"But you didn't have this drug test back. So why not just tell them before they demote you?"

"Until the ice cream company had the official report back, they asked me to remain silent about leaving."

"I don't understand that. If I'm leaving for a better opportunity, I would tell somebody. To leave after a demotion and say that wasn't the reason doesn't really make sense to me."

At which point, I knew it wasn't looking good. So I laid it out (calmly). "It would have been great to just say here's my two weeks before they demoted me, but I was asked not to by the ice cream company."

"Okay, all right. So there's that discrepancy on the application. That's what we'd heard." After a second of shuffling papers. "Any questions for us?"

Now, I had come in with over fifteen questions. I had major doubts about getting the job after the whole reason for leaving debacle. But I thought this might be a chance to redeem myself. Maybe nudge open the door again.

So I asked two questions. Jackass quickly answers them in the most generic way possible. Then he says "One last question. Give me your best one."

So I ask my grand finale question. And he takes roughly three seconds to answer before jumping up and giving me the "We'll be in touch next week if we want to have a final interview".

So I leave pissed off. Because I didn't lie on the resume. I didn't lie during the interview. I stuck with the facts about the whole thing, but Jackass didn't care. He had been told something by the Assistant who stole money and believed it no matter what.

Pissed at myself for sitting there letting them interrogate me like that. Well, letting him. The lady who did the first interview never spoke and rarely even looked at me. Not sure if she felt bad that I was put through this or thought I was such a lying pig that I didn't deserve to be looked at. But I've got a good job now, so I wouldn't have been doing any more damage than had already been done, so I should have told them that nobody calls me a liar and walked out. But I sat there and took it for forty minutes.

Pissed that a excellent job opportunity was gone over a bullshit lie. Besides a step up the ladder with a growing company (different from my current employer), the pay is almost double what I make now. I could do the job described to me in the first interview with my eyes closed. And I would be damn good at it.

But that's all gone now, because somebody I haven't even spoken to in three years decided to trash me, and his word is apparently better than mine.

So it wasn't a great day.

It usually takes a lot to piss me off, but today it happened. And what was a good shot at a great job just eight days ago is now a bad memory to share with people who ask "How'd that interview go?"

Be seeing you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Do-Over

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: A whole bunch of a mix-CD I made, trying to work up the energy to start writing a new script. Also, still hooked on the soundtrack to The Fountain. And, with my boy, a CD containing a whole mess of theme songs from past cartoons, including the immortal "Gigantor" theme song (imagine off-key druids pounding out Gigantor to a completely separate score in really deep voices) and a version of Popeye that will make you want to punch an old lady in the gut it's so god-awful bad. Picture the already talentless Sailor Man himself belching out (and holding for maximum effect) the words "Sailor Man" so that it lasts well north of two minutes. Next time I hear it, I'm driving my car into the nearest lake and putting my ears out of their misery.

WHAT I'M READING: Just finished the FourFourTwo preview of Euro 2008. Now back to a rather bland little piece called "Free Ride" detailing how the media gives McCain a...well, free ride. I'm almost putting myself to sleep talking about it. Not a great entertainment, but I haven't had the chance to get back to the library.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Euro 2008, it goes without saying. Though not every single game. Just too much on my paper plate to devote four hours every day for over two weeks to the beautiful game. I also just started X-Files Season Four before the tournament began. Not to mention (even though I am) that I'm still working through my list of 2007 films for the only awards that make the MTV Movie Awards seem prestigious...The Jeff Awards! We got HBO a few weeks back, so I just completed all seven parts of the John Adams miniseries. Very good, with wonderful acting. But parts seemed rushed. When you can boil our whole second presidency down to one 70-minute show, it hurts the overall production. Awesome theme song though.

WELL, I've finally made it back here to update. You may notice a few minor changes. Dung! is being rebooted, thus a new title up above (g'head, check it out). I'm keeping the one feature that people actually seem to enjoy (the details of my entertainment) and shucking the rest. Nobody really gives a rat's dick about the Direct Kick challenge. I can see all my faithful readers now, sprinting over to the computer, cursing themselves for not shilling out for the hi-speed service as they wait to log on, and gleefully sliding the mouse through their "Favorites" bar looking for the link to take them here to read how many soccer games I watched on which channel. People with no lives would call you a loser for that. So it's gone.

Also done is the Dung Challenge Cup. My wife was whuppin' my ass every single week. At the time of halting it, she had a near-insermountable 512 point lead. That's right. Even if I guessed every game right and she got them all wrong for the next half-century PLUS I doubled down on Final Jeopardy, I still couldn't catch up.

A wise man knows when he's beaten, and concedes. A quitter tosses in the towel two months into the contest. There may be no "i" in team, but there is one in "quit", so that's what I'm doing.

Congrats honey. You kicked my sorry pock-marked ass. Kudos to you, ma'am.

What the new Dung! will be is what it should have remained all along. Random thoughts and ideas springing from my head. A place to pretend people actually care what a moron on the other side of the internet thinks. A place to fool myself into thinking I actually matter on this great world wide web.

So here are some random thoughts buzzing through my head lately.

1. Father's Day is coming up. I look forward to spending it with my two boys. I originally typed my two sons, but the ghost of Fred MacMurray creeped up behind me and hit me with a steaming stack o' slapcakes.

To create more time for visiting fathers in Michigan this week, last Sunday we went to the cemetary to say hi to my dad. It's been over nine years now. I have trouble remembering what he sounded like sometimes. I'm ashamed to admit that I forgot his birthday this year until late that night. I still love him, but unfortunately life keeps moving on. My three-year-old is still too young to fully grasp it all. I explain that my daddy just got so sick that the doctor couldn't help him anymore, and he passed away. I tell him that my daddy is now buried under the ground by that headstone. I explain that it's kinda like he fell asleep and will never wake up. But it's tough for a young guy to understand. He wants to know why we can't see him.

Even worse, he got very scared to be near the grave. It took a lot to calm him down enough for a picture by the headstone. And that night, while tucking him in, he asked if I would keep people from breaking in. I told him not to worry, of course daddy wouldn't let people break in. Jude then told me he didn't want my dad to dig out of his grave and break into our house.

Sad that my father is nothing more than a ghoul from a horror film to his grandchild. I don't blame Jude for this. It's very confusing and I can see how it could be scary. But it does hurt a bit that he never got to meet his grandfather. My dad didn't live long enough to see my two boys, or even my wife.

So I'll celebrate being a daddy this week, because I've got two incredible kids. But I'm also going to feel the pain of not having my own dad to honor. I love him, and I miss him, very much. So make sure you spend some time with your dads.

2. Won't go into too many details, but there might be some very exciting news soon on the job front.

3. Joined a gym this week. Back in January 2005 I weighed in at 185, which was my normal weight. Never got much above or under that since high school. January 2008, I was up to 220. I dislike seeing myself in the mirror. I'm not super fat, but I'm bigger than I should be, or want to be. So I'm getting back into working out. I had a gym membership back in 1998-2000. I loved it actually. Working out gives me a natural high, and I don't even have to end up rolled up into a rug in front of a hospital (get that reference, bitches!)

Today I went for the second time. Hit the treadmill for 20 minutes, getting in a good three miles according to the machine. After that, I got onto the stationery bike. Another fifteen minutes, another five miles. I was sweating, breathing heavy, and pulling the bike seat out of my ass (in case you care, it took four minutes, three guys, and a crowbar). But I felt great. Plus, they have showers there just like high school. Well, almost. In high school it was a long corridor with shower heads spraying down from either side every two feet, and you walked single file behind your classmates, eyes glued to the ceiling like some freakish human car wash. This is a single person shower.

I love it. I'm sore right now, but feeling good. And even if I only drop down to 210, I'll be happy.

That's all I got for now. But I'm really going to try to keep updating the new Dung! version 2.0 far more often. Less inanity, more posts. Shorter posts, but more frequent.

Thanks for sticking around. And to steal a phrase from myself, that I stole from M9's John Drake (or #6 if you prefer):

Be Seeing You.