Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mr. Steven's Thoughtful Consideration On How To Spend His Day Off

Mr. Steven's is the main protagonist and narrator of the most excellent book, "Remains of the Day". It might help you to think of Anthony Hopkins at his most restrained and polite while you read this.

It has come to my attention that while it was, indeed, lovely to spend time in Coventry last year, it being the home of Eliot and being a wonderful metropolis still possessed of small-village England that, I think you'll agree, is essential in this age, it might perhaps be time to reconsider how I might spend my next sabbatical.

There's something to be said about the roar of the engine, don't you agree? Twenty First Century barrelling down upon the gentlemen of England, and indeed, the gentleman's gentleman. One should be steadfast in ones ways, to be sure, but there's something to be said for foresight, and the courage to embrace approaching trends, no matter how low they might seem at first.

We can't all keep our desires lashed against the very idea of progress, as the life of Lord Dufferin in Punjab can attest. And I being of very modest mental gifts, can only shift with the coming seas. I might be wrong, of course, nothing would surprise me less than if I found myself in error, but I do believe, in whatever humble capacity I can do so, that the upcoming
M-M-M-Monster Truck Rally Motor Sport Spectacular and Hooters Pageant 2009 might be a worthwhile event to attend.

I'm of the age that I do not need to explain myself, but, as my employer, I think you should know where I'm going and why, even if where I'm going is the only place on the entire Island that has over 10,000 horsepower of pure adrenaline filled edge-of-your-seat excitement. It might be hard for you to understand, and indeed I think I might take some time digesting it myself, how a wet t-shirt contest to determine the 'perkiest' Hooters waitress in South Wales might further my progression and growth as an Englishman and a humble subject of her Majesty.

It's a question that puzzles me but is not, I think, outside of my grasp, should I pursue it long enough.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Newsletter Meeting

The work newsletter I've been writing for had their editorial board meeting a few weeks ago. I volunteered to attend; the horrors of meetings long since worn with time and ignorance.

Maybe it was morbid curiousity, maybe it was the unreasonable belief that I'd some how come out of my shell and start contributing and brainstorming and gesturing manically towards trenchant Power Point slides. Maybe the solitude of staring at a computer screen for weeks on end had gotten to me. Maybe I was hoping that I'd enter in a smoke-filled room thick with the heady brew of cross-talking think-tanking and creative outbursts the likes of which haven't been seen since Hollywood did their impression of a New York newsroom.

Ah, I know why I really went. It was to meet people who had almost certainly actually read my articles. I mean, they'd have to, in the course of doing layout of editing or whatever it is that editorial boards do. And sure, maybe it'd only be in passing, or by accident, or just to ensure I hadn't mentioned how the entire world banking system is controlled by a race of hyper-intelligent fruit flies with sinister intentions.

Because on the other side of this keyboard here, furiously torturing metaphors and constructing complex barely intelligible sentences with hope, spit, and bailing wire, there's very little feedback. At the newsletter, there's almost none. I get a little kind note from whoever I submit to, and that's pretty much it. My work group sometimes comments, tells me how it's not the shittiest thing that has every molested their eyes, but you know, they pretty much have to say something.

At High Quality Thrice Inspected Original ASCIII Nettube Products I get the occasional comment, but mainly am egged on by the Google Followers (if you read regularly, and haven't added yourself, er, here's the hint).

There's always that bit of madness and neurosis that inhabits every hack that compels them to write. But the idea that actual people read it, and maybe don't shut down their web browser and kick their computer for assaulting their verbal brain centers, well not immediately afterwards anyways, is the drug that keeps one writing.

So, that's why I went, I think.

It went as expected, everyone really quiet since none of us work with each other on a regular basis, everyone being overly polite and no one making too many hard decisions. This is how I imagine every meeting to go, actually. It was pleasant, though, to see the faces of the other contributors and editors and whatnot. I felt like I wasn't just writing off 500 words and sending off to the ether.

And it might have been my imagination, but I think I may have gotten the faintest glimmer of recognition from some of them, as if they may have remembered that I had written an article for every letter since it had been revitalized. There was no back slap and the jocular handshake of journalistic bon homie, nothing of that sort. But I wasn't greeted as a total stranger. I guess not all meetings are bad.

Monday, May 04, 2009

A Fate Worse Than Death

So I've been added to a Facebook spam list by one of my former classmates from that YA fiction class. It's related spam, anyways, Creative Things Going On Aboot Town That Are In Someway Related To Him. At least, that's how I read it. And maybe it's not a spam list, but when you send an invitation out to 121 'close' friends it's hard to feel like the invite was really personalized, you know?

Anyways, I was invited to a fund raiser for a literary magazine I'd never heard of. Not that I know of many literary mags. And I'm pretty sure the mark of a good lit mag is that no one has heard of it. Street cred, as I understand.

There was a nagging part of me that told me I should probably attend. Images of hanging out like Hemingway with all his writerly friends, discussing... well, whatever writers discuss, Post-Modernism, Derrida, liver cirrhosis. I had in my verdant imagination an idea of a culturally rich group of peers all riffing off each other. Discussing meaning and plot and illusion and intention. I tried to silence that ever present pessimist in me who knew that it'd just be a place for all the young hip cats to hang out and be ironic and possibly 'hook-up' with each other. Occam's Aftershave, "Given a set of possible and wildly wonderful reasons for a group to exist, the reason most likely is hooking-up".

But, yes, well, I'm an idealist. It perhaps helps that I keep myself socially sequestered from most of society most of the time. This keeps me from reality and all it's rude awakenings.

So, in a move that I'll ponder over for years to come, I decided to go.

Peer-something something! Creative co-working.. thing. There's a knot in my stomach though. A thick, hairy knot covered in razor-wire and small, shaped explosive charges: I Am Not Cool Enough. This will surprise no one who visits this blog or who has had halting, embarrassingly stilted conversations with me.

I was a Science nerd in undergrad. Arts undergrads were that much cooler, and Fine Arts undergrads were the coolest of the cool. I think the certainty of under/unemployment creates an aura of mystery and danger, don't you? Anyhow, that's who'd be at this thing. Fine Arts undergrads. People who see films, not movies. People who use the term 'slam' when discussing poetry, and think that words should not only be read, but spoken. Pall Malls, I'm sure, are smoked for their sheer irony. Same goes for Pabst beers. It would be a den of meta-ironic post-modernist pseudo-faux hipsters. A DEN, I say.

Going there would be a fate worse than death. I came to that clear conclusion the closer and closer I came to the butchershop-converted-to-art-space.

And I came close, I came within viewing distance of the Den of Hipster. But I could go no further. They were not my tribe. I was not drunk enough. I certainly was not nearly cool enough.

If it was group of nerds doing a late night showing of Robocop 2, maybe. If it was a gaggle of programmers discussing the futility of dynamic languages used by heterogenous coworkers with varied coding ability, I could grit my teeth and bear it. But, this. This was too much.

I'm glad I know my limits. And I'm even more glad that I went home straight away. Serves me right for answering spam.