Archive for November, 2012

For many of you- that is, anyone who was between, say, 5 and 20 on August 1st, 1981, when MTV went live- there was a time when you knew all of these songs by heart. MTV only had about 2 or 3 hundred videos when it suddenly became a gigantic cultural force, and you watched it literally every time you could, so you heard these songs a ton. And you probably haven’t heard a one of them for 25 years. You’re welcome!

9. She’s A Beauty – The Tubes

Ladies and gentlemen, Fee Waybill and the Tubes! No, that’s not my impression of Ed Sullivan having a stroke. And dammit, don’t you try to pretend this wasn’t one of the most awesome fucking things you had ever heard and/or seen the first time MTV broke it out for you.

8. Slipping Away – Dave Edmunds

There’s a reason it’s so catchy it started coming back to you before you clicked the link- it was written and produced by Jeff Lynne of ELO, undoubdtedly why it became Edmunds’ only U.S. Top 40 hit. Edmunds is a veteran British musician, kind of like Elvis Costello or Nick Lowe but less well known, and he can thank Lynne and MTV’s scant 1983 video archive for his lone sniff at success across the pond.

7. Stand By – Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday were a British Swing/Pop fusion band that kicked around for a few years and made a video or two in the early 80s. “Don’t Try To Stop It” was their biggest U.K. hit, but thanks to MTV their U.S. single “Stand By” is stuck in your head right now.

6. Pat Benatar – You Better Run

You remember this for a very specific reason, and not because you thought Pat Benatar was hot (but you can admit that, it’s OK). Famously, “Video Killed The Radio Star” was the first video played on MTV, but this was the second, and they played the living fuck out of it.

5. The Warrior – Scandal

OK, now this you only remember because you thought Patty Smyth was hot. And because, “shootin’ at the walls of heartache, bang bang” is the most ridiculous lyric you’ve ever heard.

4. Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime

Some of you may remember this better than others. You may think it defies description, though it has been summed up pretty succinctly as David Byrne “singing like a robotic street preacher while sweating profusely and doing African tribal dances”. You may ask yourself, how do I work this? However you cut it, this video was displayed for a time at the Metropolitan Museum Of Modern Art in New York City, and Talking Heads rule.

3. New Girl Now – Honeymoon Suite

Doesn’t ring one single bell, huh? Then you’re not from Canada, and you should just click the link and wait for the bridge. Likely the only band to ever come from the town of Niagara Falls, and so named because that is where they are from and lots of people honeymoon there (seriously), the band has actually remained active on the Canadian music scene to the present day- but the only reason they’re remembered in the U.S., if at all, is for “New Girl Now”, which is actually kind of a kickass song.

2. Naughty Naughty – John Parr

OK, look, I’m just not even sorry for this. You knew that the post was about 80’s videos. It’s not my goddamn fault that John Parr exists, that “Man In Motion (Theme From St. Elmo’s Fire)” is not his worst song by a damn sight, or that you just plowed ahead and read this. This is part of your life again. Deal with it.

1. Mexican Radio – Wall Of Voodoo

Alright, I’m really sorry now. Your brains are all over the place, they’re gonna be a bitch to clean up, and you are positive that when you get them all back into your head, this song will be stuck in them for at least a week. But what you’ll have an even harder time getting them around is this: how could you possibly have forgotten a song this cool?

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We’ve all been there… work. You know, the place you go every day to make money and avoid responsibility. Most normal people treat work like what it is- a necessary nuisance, a gauntlet you must run through daily in order to make the money you need to finance your REAL life outside of work. The eating, the not being homeless, the betting on cockfights, the hardcore designer drugs and the like.

Some other people see the workplace as a wonderland of aggressive self-actualization. A place where annoying opinions and worthless advice can be freely dispensed, where close quarters means that even complete strangers who have nothing in common with them can be treated like Uncle Phil at a drunken Thanksgiving celebration, and where “professionalism” is always in quotes. These people need to shut the fuck up, and we have all worked with at least one of them. People who…

6. Bitch Constantly

The issue:

Look, we all get it. Most people are not fortunate enough to do something they truly like to do for a living. These people- if they enjoy not being fired- are required to perform a rather delicate mental balancing act on a daily basis. On the one hand, their job is boring, mundane, and requires them to constantly perform physical and mental functions they simply were not wired to do. For example, most cube monkeys would prefer to not be sitting in a cube performing repetitive tasks. They would rather be writing their novel, or restoring their classic car, or betting on the aforementioned cockfights. They literally could not give one single shit, on a personal level, whether their contribution to the company positively impacts that company.
On the other hand, society dictates that we need money to survive, and employers both a) provide money and b) insist that you at least provide the appearance of giving a flying fuck about your job. So when we slip up somehow, and a supervisor leaves a passive-aggressive email in our inbox reminding us of policies and procedures in language usually reserved for autistic four-year-olds, we reply, “Thank you, sir, for the information. I will take care in the future to adhere to policy. Regards, Jack Schumpfist”. (Assuming that is your name.) We do NOT respond by spray-painting “JACKMONKEYS” across the front of the building, or pulling the fire alarm every fifteen minutes for six days, or sticking our dicks in the potato salad at the company potluck, as would be our wont. We walk the line.


Above: Stability and reason.

The thing is, some people have difficulty with this balancing act. LOTS of difficulty. These people will attempt to engage anyone who will listen, and most who will not, in conversation about their long, long list of grievances. The hours, the pay, the manager, the manager’s attitude, the manager’s face, the manager’s dog and cat, and on and on ad infinitum.

I WANT TO TO KILL BOB’S FACE

Nobody is in love with their job, but these people serve as a constant, nagging reminder of EVERY LITTLE THING that we dislike about it, and some things we had never previously thought of. Listen: we’re walking the line here. We know Bob’s an asshole and his face should be murdered, but choosing to think about it as infrequently as possible helps us stay on the tightrope. Walking it takes mental fortitude, and people who constantly bitch are like circus midgets at either end of the rope, wobbling it hard as they can while screaming the lyrics to “Barbie Girl”.
It gets worse when:

They attempt to suck us in to the vortex of bitchery. Everyone likes to have their opinions validated, especially their opinions about how much everything sucks. This makes them feel more like a rebellious iconoclast, and less like a fucking crybaby prickbiter.
But as it turns out, agreeing with the opinions of the constant bitcher- even if you share them- will eventually reflect on you. And even if you can continue walking the mental tightrope while agreeing strenuously that, yes, Bob is a gladhanding craphound who needs immediate death to his face, you will inevitably find yourself voicing that agreement with Bob standing right the fuck behind you.

The mature response:

“Al, I understand how you feel about Bob’s face, even if I find your proposed solution a bit extreme- I just don’t think fire ever belongs in the workplace. I would ask, however, that you refrain from discussing your grievances with me while on the job, as these types of discussions can lead to low morale, reduced productivity, and firings. Of you. And me.”

But your response will probably be:

“Thanks Al, I read you loud and clear. Bob’s a dick. Thanks for the news flash. You know what? You’re kind of a dick, too. Your face ain’t so great, either. This raises the question: shut the fuck up.”
5. Call you out for being “cranky” or “grumpy”

The issue:

Of course, everyone has bad days. Unlike the types in the above example, most normal people deal with it by keeping their head down, their blinders on, and attempting to get through to the end of the work day as painlessly as possible. Their mask of grim determination and reluctance to engage in conversation (feel free to use that in your next rap tune) are not meant to put other people out, but are a mere survival mechanism. They just… don’t feel like it today. Any of it. They just want to finish their goddamn shift, go home and get blackout drunk, and it certainly does not help when some upbeat, chipper fucking clown comes along to point out their mood to them (like they needed it) and everyone else within earshot (in case anyone hadn’t noticed), usually in the form of a question: what’s wrong, Jim? Are you feeling cranky? Are you feeling grumpy?


Does somebody have a case of the Mondays?

First of all: people in a bad mood do not like being referred to as grumpy, or cranky, or any of that juvenile sounding bullshit. They are an adult having a bad day at work, not a temperamental toddler who missed his nappytime. It’s condescending language, and using that type of language with someone who has obviously already worked up a good head of irritation suggests that you may enjoy a cock punching, or at least having your car keyed six ways from Sunday.

Secondly, it has nothing to do with the caller-outer. Mr. Crankypants is not asking for sympathy, or even recognition. In fact, he would likely prefer that no one say a word to him for the rest of the day. If this is not feasible, he will probably attempt to keep the dialogue as brief as possible. Again, not because of the caller-outer. Not because of anything they need to ask about, or point out, or even be aware of. But can the caller-outer be the one unexpected bright spot in the otherwise intolerable day by just… letting him slide? No. No, they cannot.
And it’s even worse when:

The caller-outer not only points out your mood, but then takes it upon themselves to attempt to, Freddie help them, cheer you up- usually employing the same grating juvenile attitude, corny jokes and/or workplace cliches (see below) that people who are already running in the red just fucking love.
The mature response:

“No, Frida, I am not grumpy, and I do not have a case of the Mondays. I have a bit of a headache, and I’m focused on my work. Thanks for asking. It will not be necessary to ask in the future.”
But your response will probably be:

“No, Frida, I am not grumpy, and I do not have a case of the Mondays. I have a bit of a headache, and I’m focused on my work. Thanks for asking. It will not be necessary to ask in the future. Wait, let me rephrase that. Shut the fuck up.”
4. Spout cliches/pseudo profundities

The issue:

Stop me if you’ve heard these: Workin’ hard or hardly workin’? Is it Friday yet? “Assume” makes an “Ass” of “U and Me”! Hey, HAPPY HUMP DAY!


Hey, Mr. Voorhees! Is it Friday yeEEEAAAAARRRGGGH IT IS!!!!

These workplace cliches have, it has been determined by paleontologists, been around literally since the dawn of time. The first Cro-Magnon to fashion himself a crude cubicle from stones, sticks and mud had not occupied it for five minutes before a fellow Cro-Magnon (probably that putz Larry from accounting) stopped by to ask him if he was workin’ hard, or hardly workin’. These cliches were mildly amusing the first time, kind of annoying the second, and blind-rage inducing the next 14,652 times. So why, WHY in the name of all that is decent, do people still spout these inanities? Do they have massive head injuries, or did they just wake up from a 30 year coma, or both? Do they really not have anything better to say? Or, when confronted by eye contact from another human being, do they find it impossible to simply smile and nod? Is the urge to say something, anything, so undeniable that they must fall back on a silly cliche that nobody has found amusing for decades?

The same mindset seems to be present in those that put forth what one prominent workplace analyst (me) likes to call “pseudo profundities”. For easy examples of these, look at motivational posters.


And when we all fail together, we all plunge to our deaths.
Before motivational posters were an Internet meme, they were meant to actually, you know, motivate employees. They did not, because they were retarded. Office dynamics can’t be reduced to easily digestible, simplistic analogies. Everyone knows that, yet many who are tasked with disciplining or training employees will just let their brain coast on auto-pilot, open their mouths and begin with, “Bill, a help desk is like a tree…”

“A tree with a truck in it. The truck is stick-to-it-iveness.”
It’s even worse when:

They actually believe their own bullshit. It’s one thing to have to feign interest in someone’s obviously canned, trite attempts at motivation. It’s quite another to see that, holy crap, this guy is actually drinking the Kool-Aid. He thinks he’s saying things that make sense and are worth hearing. He thinks stick-to-it-iveness is a fucking word.

The mature response:

Do what these people should do, but don’t: smile and nod. When that putz Frank from HR asks if you’re workin’ hard or hardly workin’, just respond with something equally tired and obtuse, like “livin’ the dream!” That, believe it or not, is likely the desired response. And when someone uses a word like “stick-to-it-iveness” with a straight face, I recommend you try biting your tongue to keep from slapping the everloving hell out of them. That almost always works.

But your response will probably be:

To slap the everloving hell out of them. Then tell them to shut the fuck up.

3. Insist on discussing religion and/or politics

The issue:

There is a well-known thinking defect (“cognitive bias” if you want to be all science-y and appropriate) known as the “False Consensus Effect”. The general idea is that people tend to see their own personal beliefs as some kind of baseline “consensus” beliefs that the majority of others share. There are varying degrees to which this can be seen as understandable. Most people assume that everyone thinks chocolate tastes awesome; that there is a general consensus. However, believe it or not, there exist some (very odd) people who think chocolate tastes like shit. It is a false consensus, and if that seems innocuous, keep in mind that it’s the same reason your Uncle Ray will email you about how great his new home in rural Montana is, especially because there are barely any (insert horrendous racial slur here). He doesn’t realize that not everyone thinks like him, and has no idea that he just said something jaw-droppingly ignorant.


No idea.

This carries over in a highly awkward way when people in the workplace start feeling a false sense of closeness with their co-workers- after all, they see these people every day! They’re like family! And since THEY feel that way, everyone else must feel that closeness, too! We’re probably also all right-wing, Christian conservatives! We should discuss our commonality at every opportunity!
Which brings into play yet another cognitive jim-jam known as Confirmation Bias- the tendency to seek out discourse and information that conforms to your existing set of beliefs. It feels so GOOD to bash Muhammedbama, we should all get in on the act! Since we all think exactly alike on this subject and so, so many others!

Not to pick unfairly on Christians, but particularly in America, they seem to fall victim to this double whammy of cognitive errors more than most. I mean, this is America! Isn’t everyone Christian? Doesn’t everyone want an email (or three, or six) every morning reminding them that God loves them?

Well, no, they may not. Especially if they are Muslim, or Hindu, or atheist. Or maybe they think God is the bees’ knees, but just don’t want a bunch of self-righteous bullshit clogging up their work inbox. The point is, there is a time and place to expose others to your belief system, and at work is not that time or that place.


It’s also not the time or place to expose others to your genital system.

It gets worse when:

The person in question is your boss. Sometimes you can fake your way through sympathy to a backwards-ass belief system, but sometimes it just doesn’t fly. Ever work for a blinding, unapologetic racist? As bad as it is for non-whites, it’s almost as bad for white people; they get to experience the queasy mixture of rage, confusion and shame that comes with knowing your racist boss just assumes that you’re racist, too, and behaves accordingly. When you NEED that job, but just cannot reconcile your integrity with working for a bigoted piece of shit, what do you do? Kick your own ass like Eddie Norton in Fight Club?

The mature response:

To politely request that such subjects not be discussed in the workplace. In extreme situations, to simply quit. When your boss starts blaming the recent slump on the blacks, Jews and queers, maybe it’s OK to be unemployed.

But your response will probably be:

“Hey Ed, got your email. Did you know I’m Hindu? Also, though I may not look it, I’m half black. And gay. And though I hide my disability well, I have a bum leg that requires six hours of physical therapy per week and an intense drug regimen just to walk right. So yeah, I’m a black, heathen, crippled queer. And I voted for Obama. Shut the fuck up.”

2. Broadcast every conversation

This can be the most maddening of all, because these people absolutely do not think that what they’re doing affects you in the least. Their private conversation is their own business, and if you happen to overhear, well, you shouldn’t be such a snoop. Even when said conversation is taking place at a relative volume and distance from your work space so as to be literally impossible for you to ignore.


CAN YOU HEAR ME???

It’s not even the content of the conversation that matters. Nor is it the workload you are currently facing. And sometimes, it is as easily tuned out as any other distraction. But other times, for whatever reason, it is not- and those intrusive, obnoxious conversations can cause a damn-nigh uncontrollable urge to beat the face of the person making the offensive noise until they are no longer physically able to do so.

This is at its worst when you work in a call center. It’s difficult enough to block out all the background noise- the 20 conversations within earshot, the guy’s music two cubes over, the person across the way farting repeatedly in long, low, plaintive tones such as an alto sax might make- and focus on your call, without a completely unrelated, full chest-voice conversation taking place directly behind you in the hall.

It gets even worse when:

This is one of the most goddamned rude, annoying and oblivious workplace behaviors, regardless of what is being loudly discussed in your immediate vicinity. But it’s even worse when the conversation is of a particularly personal nature. It’s easy enough to be driven to distraction by a loud background discussion of how awesome the Avengers movie is (it is), or how hard the new Beyonce song sucks (it does). It’s so, so much worse when the topic being discussed is your manager Artie’s erectile dysfunction, or the painful constipation of receptionist Linda’s three-year-old. It’s even better when you yourself are on the phone, and cannot even politely ask for the conversation to be moved elsewhere. You can try miming strangulation, shooting and stabbing, but they’ll probably just think you’re being zany.

The mature response:

To just deal with it. It’s really not that bad. Just do your best to tune it out, and eventually the offending parties will have to get back to work.

But your response will probably be:

To place your current call on hold; then, to remove one shoe and seize that loudmouth dipfuck Steve by the throat, jamming said shoe into his mouth as far as you possibly can, while kneeing him repeatedly into the groin and screaming the phrase “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” over and over again. Once Steve has lost consciousness, pick your call back up, thank them for holding and continue.

1. Are You

The issue:

YOU! BAM! YOU are the issue! Didn’t see THAT coming, did ya?!?


It’s like an M Night Shamalyan twist ending, but slightly less retarded and predictable.

See, every one of us has been a variation on one of these types at some point or another. Perhaps you’re in a boisterous mood because you got laid last night, or drunk, or maybe you’re STILL drunk and about to get laid, or whatever it is that makes normal people happy. Maybe you just plum forgot about the last 16 times these behaviors got on your nerves hard enough to make you chew concrete and spit out dust. The point is, if you’re ever inside the office using your outside voice, maybe take a quick look around and make sure it wouldn’t be best to… you know.

The mature response:

To shut. The fuck. Up.

But your response will probably be:

To bitch loudly about that grumpy Jew Stanley down the hall, who needs to “be more of a team player”, right behind someone who is in the middle of an important call. You are SUCH a dick.