I was walking through Central Market’s frozen section, obviously hungrier than I’ve ever been, and while looking for simple dishes for my lunch I spotted a Stouffer’s Corn Souffle. Something inside me said, “Mmmmm… corn souffle”. In a very Homer Simpson-esque tone. I looked at the package because this is where it starts with me. On the package the souffle has a golden brown crust with ripe kernels of corn pouring from the delicious center and instantly I was sold. My wife looked at me like I was crazy and said something like, “That looks disgusting.”
I’ve been threatening her with the corn souffle ever since. Sometimes we’ll try to figure out what we’re going to have for dinner and I’ll respond, “I can throw that corn souffle in the microwave for you.” Which has been gaining me a snide look from across the room.
Today I decided to eat the corn souffle so I turned the box over to read the instructions. I could bake this American – French delicacy in the oven for about 9 years on 350 degrees or I could use the microwave and cook it for 5-10 minutes. When I was reading the instructions I also spotted the nutritional facts of which there are none. In fact, eating this would require you to run 4 miles to burn off the calories not to mention it contains about a duffle bag of salt worth of sodium. I figured I made it this far and would just have to go ahead and eat it.
I opened it up and tore off the film. It didn’t look tasty at all. It was a frozen yellow liquidy thing. Maybe like a chunk of milk and cornmeal or something. I cooked it and it didn’t look any better. It mostly resembled a type of foamy dog vomit. Like if the dog had rabies and had eaten a bunch of old corn meal it found out in the barn. Maybe if you were on a farm visiting your Uncle Terry and Uncle Terry said, “Ha… look over there. (Points to the family dog). Old Butch done got into the corn meal again. Ha!! Look at that dog vomit. That dog sure can vomit.” Then Uncle Terry went over and said, “We’re gonna save this. Put this in the deep freeze.” And scooped up the dog vomit and said it was a Country Corn Souffle.
I started eating the corn souffle and it was really bland. So I added a little salt and it tasted a little better, but overall it doesn’t have a taste. It’s like some type of filler food that remote, indigenous tribes eat. You know when you’re watching National Geographic and the narrator says, “The Xipilan Tribe soaks the shavings from a Pastolxim Tree stump in their own urine for 4 days, turning it every 2 days then strains the pulpy substance. Afterwards the women shape it into cakes and cook it on an open fire. This is 90% of their diet.” It’s just like that. It’s like a corn slop. Yeah, that’s a much better description. Stouffer’s Old Fashioned Hog Corn Slop. “Good enough for the hog is a good enough for the family.”
Here’s some better slogan’s than the current Stouffer’s slogan which is “Served with a side of fun.”
Stouffer’s Old Fashioned Hog Corn Slop – “When you just don’t give a fuck about what you eat.”
Stouffer’s Old Fashioned Hog Corn Slop – “Give me some of that fucking hog slop Mama. Mmmmm.”
Stouffer’s Old Fashioned Hog Corn Slop – “Fuck your family’s health. We’re serving up the fun dog vomit style!”
Stouffer’s Old Fashioned Hog Corn Slop – “No, a hobo didn’t break in and shit on the dinner table. That’s dinner you ungrateful fucking kid.”
Stouffer’s Old Fashioned Hog Corn Slop – “Native American style foods before tools and fire were around. Post-prime corn products mashed with organic stones. Go green!”
Stouffer’s Old Fashioned Hog Corn Slop – “Just like Mama’s Hog Corn Slop before the retardation took her.”
Stouffer’s Old Fashioned Hog Corn Slop – “Godamn this is some good fucking slop. Don’t look worth a fuck, but sure does eat good.”
Stouffer’s Old Fashioned Hog Corn Slop – “Slop so fucking good you’re gonna wanna take a shit ASAP just to see it again.”
Stouffer’s Old Fashioned Hog Corn Slop – “For us simple folk who don’t worry about nutrition, taste or facts. Getting by is good enough!”
Stouffer’s Old Fashioned Hog Corn Slop – “Recession style cuisine.”
I could probably keep writing those for a long time, but I’m going to do something else now. I don’t feel good.
Every morning, on my way to work, I drive up the interstate. At a certain point, on a certain bridge there is a dead raccoon on the 3 foot shoulder. A big one. Each day I look for it to see how much it’s decayed since the day before. It’s been weeks since I first spotted it. This is the only thing that changes on my morning commute. Eventually it will disappear.
This weekend I was moving a roll of chicken wire off the side area of my storage building and a bunch of critters started moving. I saw a large lizard scamper off and then I saw a snake. I grabbed my rifle with the snake shot cartridges, crept up and pulled the trigger. It blew the snake out of the roll and onto the cement on the other side. I then realized it was a Checkered Gartner Snake (see photo) and not every poisonous, but I still don’t like snakes.
I woke up at 6:30 AM on Sunday and hooked up my boat in the dark. I was at the 360 bridge boat dock by 7:45am where a friend met me with his two young sons for a fishing trip. Fishing with two young kids is a lot of work. Lots of tangled lines. We didn’t catch anything and after we showed the kids how to drive the boat that’s all they wanted to do. We meandered through the coves of Lake Austin where the insanely rich people live. I felt sorry for them after seeing their homes and backyards. I would never live that way.
I spent most of weekend outside working on the garden and my hands are cut up and sore. I use the riding lawnmower for most everything now. I go places. Around the land that is. I pull heavy panes of bull fence with it. I pull logs. I haul stuff in a trailer I hitch to it. Mostly dirt, mulch, branches, weeds and wood. I enjoy it. I feel like an old man doing chores and it’s peaceful. While I haul and pull stuff I have the mower engaged to cut so I can multi-task. I did accidentally knock over an entire 36 pod planter full of exotic pepper seeds when I got the trailer too close to the table. It ruined the seeds and I was pissed to watch $25 worth of materials tumble to the ground. I made up the money later in the day:
A year or so ago I posted a bad review about a business on Yelp. The business contacted me this weekend and we negotiated a deal wherein I would take down their bad review and instead write a good review. The cost? $800. This is much more complicated than I’m making it sound right now and in a way the money is the only way they can make it right by me. Somehow though, I got a slight feeling that my opinion was for sale. I was okay with that. I could’ve gotten more for this, but like I said, it’s complicated and I didn’t want to gouge them.
When night fall comes it’s time to stop. I can work through the rain and I did this weekend as I don’t mind getting wet, but it’s too dark out in the far part of the yard to continue. I put away the tools and go in for a shower and watch movies or read. Here are some movies I’ve seen recently:
The Big Year – I keep picking up movies I have no idea about. I just saw this had a bunch of funny people in it (Jack Black, Steve Martin & Owen Wilson) and thought it would be good. It wasn’t. It’s about bird watchers entering a contest to see who can see the most birds in a year. Basically, you have to travel around the US keeping track of how many different birds you can see. This movie is way too long and not funny at all. Terrible godamn movie. I can’t believe I watched this godamned thing. I was actually mad at myself when it was over.
Take Shelter – If a movie has anything to do with the apocalypse then I’m going to watch it, but this movie is also way too long. Just get in the damn shelter already. Anyhow, I got it because it stars Michael Shannon who plays a great role in Boardwalk Empire. He has a strange missing link look to him and I wanted to see him in a different character. He plays a guy named Curtis who starts having these detailed dreams about the apocalypse and it starts to drive him crazy in his waking life. It drives him to the edge and beyond. Everyone around him is certain he’s gone crazy, especially when he takes out a loan to build a huge bomb shelter and freaks out at the Lion’s Club dinner. I bet this is what Harold Camping told everyone at his Family Radio Doomsday Church to do. Suckers.
In Time – This is a really good idea, but the political satire in this film beats you over the head every few minutes. The class war idea can’t be more obvious. I guess it could be more obvious, but only if Justin Timberlake (the star) turned to the camera and said, “See how this is just like how things are today, except told in a different way?” In the future they drive 2010 Dodge Challengers, ’67 Lincolns with suicide doors and ’86 Ford Broncos that make flying car sounds. That being said, the currency is now time and humans are genetically enginered to stop aging at 25 and then die 1 year later if they don’t earn more time. Coffee cost 4 minutes of your life, a fancy car costs 59 years, you get paid daily in time and so on. The poor people in the ghetto live day to day, literally and the rich have centuries and are seemingly immortal. This movie quickly turns into a futuristic Bonnie and Clyde / Robin Hood movie. While entertaining it was still a bit silly.
Then I went over and looked at the neighbors new chickens. Nothing like a new chicken.
Neil Young – A Treasure: This is a live album and I usually don’t care for live albums, but this one is pretty good as it’s a country album. Remember when Neil Young got sued by his record company for “making music not characteristic of Neil Young” well, screw them and he should have just made music like this his entire career. 5 unreleased songs (some are traditional Nashville songs) but my favorite track has to be “It Might Have Been” which is a great sounding honkey tonk dance song in every traditional sense of the idea.
Thao & Mirah – Thao & Mirah: I discovered Mirah in 2000 during her You Think It’s Like this but Really It’s Like This Days and fell in love with her voice and childish songs. She has that Mazzy Star quality that’s always so attractive. Mirah has obviously been making songs ever since and still embracing the “I’m too fragile for life” thing, but when I saw she’d come out with a new album (KRS in 4/11) I wanted to give it a listen. The first track off this album sounds like a MIA track, but the rest dive back into what is being called “Indie-Folk”. The song Rubies and Rocks is full of horns and upbeat lyrics which really surprised me. Sounds like a jazz number, but being co-produced by Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs has this album moving prettily around like a lost butterfly. Would also sit nicely next to a Coco Rosie album at times. Good album.
Dale Watson – The Truckin’ Sessions: “I hope your chicken coops are closed and you can drive without a care” starts the second stanza of Good Luck N’ Good Truckin’ Tonite. I love songs about driving 18 wheelers. I should have been a trucker. I asked my wife if she would be my cabin mamma and start truckin’ with me, but she said no. Anyhow, most Texans know who Dale Watson is, but lots more Europeans know who he is. For some reason he’s insanely famous there and wins awards like “Best International Artist on an Independent Label”. The Truckin’ Sessions album was released in 1998 and then followed up with The Truckin’ Sessons Vol. 2 in 2009, which is also pretty great. Lots of “pedal to the medal” type songs with secret trucker lingo like “Had to put it into Georgia Overdrive cuz there was a pole cat at the pickle park.” That’s not in one of these songs, but it means “I had to speed up because there was a dead skunk at the rest area.” Roll on Dale, roll on.
Primus – Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People: This EP came out in 2003 and went platinum. Strange huh? These are 5 entertaining and jagged songs in the vein Primus loves to write about: people stories. One of the better tracks is “Mary the Ice Cube” which is a sad tale about a pretty little ice cube he once had that disappeared. My favorite song is “My Friend Fats” because obviously Fats is a helluva guy. I dug this album out recently because Primus is about to release a new album called Green Naugahyde, which has been delayed yet again and should release in September.For some reason I always forget how great of a band Primus really is, but they’ll forever be in my top 20.
Jill Scott – The Light of the Sun: I stumbled onto this one by accident, but it’s a great album by a wonderful singer. Jill Scott is a more relaxed Erykah Badu and I’d like to say Scott is more of a classic R&B singer and leans less towards hip-hop, but there’s a great hip-hop cameo by veteran (and amazing beat boxer) Doug E. Fresh on the track “All Cried Out”. Not sure why Jill Scott has escaped my radar this long, but I’m now excited to hear more by this poet, actress and soul singer.
Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – Tell it All Brother: I think this is some kind of digital only re-release as it came out in Feb. 2010 on Blaricum, but it’s got a lot of lesser known songs and doesn’t include one of their most famous songs “Just Dropped In”. The version of “Tulsa Turnaround” on this album is absolutely amazing. I know Three Dog Night did this song, but next to Kenny Roger’s version they just need to stick with “Never Been to Spain” or something. Great collection of Kenny Rogers early works.
Justin Moore – Outlaws Like Me: This guy isn’t an outlaw as much as he is a joke. This is some young white kid transformed into a Nashville product churning out really terrible songs under the Big Machine label. Seriously, his label is The Valory Music Co (an imprint of Big Machine Records). Moore sings really hilarious songs like “Guns” which is a song about him buying guns at Wal-Mart and no one better try and come and take his guns away because we need our guns today more than ever because terrorist have cable tv and that just ain’t right. Right this minute there’s a redneck somewhere going “Yep, that’s right Justin Moore. Terrorists have cable tv and that ain’t right. Where’s my Colt .45?” Unfortunately, Moore is very serious and it makes his songs funnier. I wish I would’ve written the song “Guns” because it’s hilarious. Anonymous country rock? Hell yeah! I can’t get enough of this type of modern country pop. They just don’t know how silly it is. Or do they?
Prince – Prince: This was Prince’s 2nd album released in 1979 (the follow up to For You), but it was his first album to chart. I think it peaked in the low 20′s and cemented the love / hate relationship Prince had with Warner Bros. over the next 20 years. I like the weird head shot that makes the album cover as his hair is feathered and he doesn’t have a shirt on against a baby blue background, but almost every song on this album is awesome. We’re all familiar with the hit “I Wanna Be Your Lover” which opens this album, but the amazing thing about this album is that it was written and completed in 7 weeks and then he went on tour with Rick James as the opening act to promote it. His first album did so poorly that he was scared of being dropped if this album didn’t do well. It did, but the world wouldn’t really take notice until his next album, Dirty Minds.
Electric Wizard – Dopethrone: Legendary English doom metal (stoner metal, etc.) band released this album in 2000. I love the name of this album, which is supposively a play on words of the Norweigan black metal band, Darkthrone. Anyhow, everyone knows this is one of their best albums and I listen to it frequently when running or mountain biking. It’s slower than their usual stuff, but just as full of heavy sandpaper and glass shard riffs and Oborn vocals. Great album if you also like the bands Sleep, Shellac, Wolves in the Throneroom, Om, etc.
Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts: I was really excited about this album when I heard it was going to be an all acoustic, Beck produced project. Beck seems to be everywhere these days. He’s the damn James Franco of music. This album sounds like it’s from a different time, but I don’t know which one. Lots of interesting “Sea Change” type sounds moving in and out. Horns and violins and other strings. Very melodramatic from one of the most interesting experimental artists of our time. Aging band leaders like Moore, Frank Black, Robert Pollard are still producing great stuff. This is an example of that. It’s a little depressing though. In Silver Rain with A Paper Key is a standout track as it reminded me a bit of Pink Floyd.
Bon Iver – Bon Iver: I had to stop listening to this album. Luckily I didn’t have to pay for it, but I thought it was an interesting concept in that almost every song is about a certain place. Perth, Washington, Hinnom TX, Calgary, Lisbon OH, etc. but really… what is this crap? This must be what people in Wisconsin like. I can’t get into this and maybe I just don’t get it, but I’m not sure if I want to.
Vetiver – The Errant Charm: A friend gave me a copy of Vetiver’s first album in ’04 and I’ve been interested in them ever since. The Errant Charm is their 5th release (2nd on SubPop) and they continue to distance themselves from the Davendra sound even though Things Of the Past released on Gnomonsong was my favorite album. Admittedly, Things of the Past is an album of cover songs, but they chose wisely and obscurely. I have to admit I missed the album between this new one and Things of the Past, (I think it was called Tight Knit) but I’m continually attracted to the overall style of this band. Laid back lyrics and lots of Steve Miller drums over a strange organ. They even touch on a weird Ween sound in the song Fog Emotion that should be piped into a 1980′s shopping mall. I like this band. I don’t like everything they do, but I like most of it in that I’ll listen to one of their albums once every 3 months, but even after listening to The Errant Charm a few times already I know it’s not better than Things of the Past.
At times I’ll go on a movie watching binge and watch numerous movies in a short period of time. So many that I’ll simply forget which movie was what, what happened and the movie will be forever erased from my mind. That is until I start watching it again and then I’ll think, “Oh yeah… I’ve seen this one.” Here are some movies I’ve watched in the last month.
The Book of Eli – I love post-apocalyptic films and will watch any movie that has anything to do with this subject. After watching The Road this movie seems a little too fake. Although they barely have water and food the have tons of ammunition and surprisingly fashionable clothes. The story is interesting enough and the ending is above average. A really great cast makes this movie much better and there’s even a cameo by Tom Waits in this one.
The Day the Earth Stood Still – A remake of the 1951 hit about an alien visitor and his giant robot who descend upon Earth in order to “save” it. Like always, we (the Americans) try and blow up everything and anyone we don’t understand. Keanu Reeves is boring to watch in this movie, but I think that’s the point of his particular character. Will Smith’s kid does a good job in his role. The idea of metal bugs destroying everything and the glowing orbs acting as arks is visually entertaining, but the idea of humans as a virus is played out so I’m not sure why they remade this one. Also, the ending is pretty stupid.
The Karate Kid (2010 version) – I don’t know why I decided to watch this. I guess because I was stuck on an airplane. After 20 minutes of this movie I stopped it because I couldn’t stand it anymore. Instead of “wax on wax off” its “put your jacket on, take your jacket off”. Screw watching that again. Terrible movie.
Invictus -Even though I don’t understand rugby in the slightest I’m a fan of sports movies. My first favorite movie of all time was The Natural and this movie is nothing like that. Instead it’s the story of a sports team inspiring a nation. Morgan Freeman has been hit or miss over the last decade, but he does a great job in this film. It’s also historical regarding the life of Nelson Mandela who I knew very little about until I watched this movie. I enjoyed the movie.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time -I watched this movie on an airplane on a tiny screen in the headrest in front of me so I didn’t get the full experience this movie provides. Special affects and whatnot. I mainly watched this movie because it was based on a computer game I played when I was a teenager. At this point is could be based on any modern video game specifically the Assassin’s Creed series which involves lots of rooftop acrobatics and “leaps of faith”, but the story is pretty typical. Magic weapon = magic power = bad guy wants it to rule the world. Visually stimulating, but Jake Gyllenhaal barely pulls off this Walt Disney action hero flick.
Kick Ass – Mildly interesting take on the superhero genre so popular these days. Although it’s the “zero to hero” story line remade with a focus on comedy relief (at the expense of the main character of course) it’s insanely unbelievable in a format that wants you to believe is entirely possible. Unless you are just a big fan of this type of movie then I’d avoid it. Nic Cage and McLuvin from Superbad do nothing for this flick.
Green Zone – The team who brought us the Jason Bourne movies team up to bring us a Jason Bourne-esque military movie. I like military movies and this Iraq / WMD / high level terrorist / who do you trust? movie was pretty good overall. Even though I watch this same type of movie every two months there are always a few unique sub-plots that make it worth the hour or two. The cast is pretty good in this one, but I understand why this movie fell under the radar.
The Wolfman – Oddly enough one of Benicio Del Toro’s first gigs was playing Duke the Dog Faced Boy in the movie, Big Top Pee Wee. 23 years later he plays the son of Anthony Hopkins in this return to home / your roots movie where he realizes and attempts to understand his life as well… a wolfman. The scenes where the wolfmen kill humans are pretty gruesome and well done. Even though this movie is way too long I enjoyed watching it. There are some parts in the movie I thought were poorly written, but I’ll also sympathize with the idea that someone sat down and thought, “I’m going to write / rewrite the Wolfman style movie”. That can’t be an easy task.
Date Night – Tina Fey is funny and she carries the less funny Steve Carell in this romantic action comedy. Unfortunately this is also one of those “all the funny parts are in the preview”, but I watched it anyhow. This would be the perfect movie to watch on Thanksgiving or Christmas with the family, but if you have the choice just watch Adventures in Babysitting again. Date Night reminded me of how great that movie was and how watered down our modern attempts at this genre have become.
Gardens of the Night – After watching this movie I’ll never look at Tom Arnold the same way. Honestly, I never wanted to look at Tom Arnold for very long, but now I’ve become mentally scarred by his character, Uncle Alex in this child abduction / sex trade flick. I watched this movie because I’m a big John Malkovich fan and am set on seeing every movie he’s done at some point or another, but I wasn’t really ready for this one. It’s haunting, intense, creepy and nothing you’d watch around kids. Well done indie movie overlooked in ’08 due to the no name cast.
The Joneses – David Duchovny and Demi Moore are two people I can’t see doing anything together other than this movie. They actually pretend to be husband and wife so they can infiltrate affluent neighborhoods and market merchandise for high end companies. What seems like a soulless and creative marketing ploy quickly turns dark leaving our characters to question their morals and personal lives.
The Last Airbender – I was reluctant to watch this M. Night Shyamalan movie because I thought it was a Harry Potter kid’s movie for some reason. I think its a cartoon as well. After watching it I realized it was a melting pot of well known folk and religious tales boiled down and served up 150 million dollar style. Nothing better than harnessing the power of the 4 elements and overcoming tyranny in a well shot film. I really enjoyed this and look forward to part two.
Spanglish – I’m still wondering why Adam Sandler made this movie. Actually, I’m wondering why this movie was made at all. Quit making movies like this because I may be stuck somewhere and this will be one of the only working DVDs available and I’ll watch it like a dumbass. Plus, the wife in this film reminds me of a girl I used to date. Terrible. Doesn’t even have a happy ending.
A-Team – When I was a kid I loved watching the A-Team television show. My brother and I used to have A-Team action figures because we were both big fans. I didn’t make it through the movie though. The more I watched of this movie the more it ruined the greatness the television series once was. The characters in the movie sucked and the story was stupid. They actually rewrote or simply finally told? what happened to each character in the military to end up as mercenaries. Anyhow, I couldn’t watch the whole movie because it was so bad.
Finally back in Austin and it’s 2 in the morning. I’m waiting for the sleeping pills to kick in with hopes of getting back on Texas’ time schedule. Bali now seems like a whirlwind of activity and spans of relaxation. Here’s some thoughts on our events there:
Surfing – Bali is not the place to learn to surf, but we tried it anyhow. The waves are insane and on our particular day a storm from the night before left the waves larger than usual. We went to Canggu Beach and with long boards in hand(s) we swam out to meet the waves. As a beginner you don’t grab the wave crest, instead you grab the crash and ride that on your first attempts. On my first try I stood and surfed into the shore. I was more than pleased, inspired even, so I paddled back out. I paddled and paddled to the wave my teacher pointed to, but being exhausted from all the paddling I couldn’t regain my balance and ride another wave while standing. Trying and trying again I became defeated and called it a day. It also rained the whole time. There’s nothing like surfing in the rain with huge waves crashing around you.
Snorkling – We drove to Banjar Sanur-Kauh and chose a package that included glass bottom boat ride, snorkling and something called “Turtle Island”. We really only wanted to go snorkling, but bought the package because it wasn’t much extra. Our driver took L— and I to a spot in the ocean where ten thousand boats were already parked with twenty thousand snorklers splashing about the water. Jet skis, fishing boats, people being pulled on banana boats drove dangerously close making the water so choppy it was hard to float at all. I snorkled for a second before nearly being hit by an adjacent boat and decided to move on to the next event. The snorkling would have been great if they’d used some common sense and spread out a little over the miles and miles of ocean available to them. Due to the close proximity of boats we were constantly breathing in gas exhaust while under the water. This canceled out the other worldly, free floating effect great snorkling provides. Belize still has the best snorkling, in my opinion.
Turtle Island – The 2nd part of the package was actually pretty great. It was basically a large petting zoo with turtles, snakes, tucans, giant lizards, cock fights (not till death), huge bats, eagles and other animals that you could not only walk up to and touch, but you could actually hold.
Glass bottom boat - The boat you happen to be speeding through the waves on, has a little 1 x 3 foot glass pane on the bottom of it. Watch the wondrous blur of nothingness as you speed to your destination. Ruling: Same as regular bottom boat.
Tanah Lot – Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 15th century priest Nirartha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-island’s beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods. It’s a wonderful shrine inhabited by monks. Before you can climb the steps to the temple you have to be washed in the Holy Spring and anointed by a monk. This is a wonderful experience though most of the temple is closed off due to the sacred aspects and well, it’s the home of some Hindu monks and I doubt they want you looking around at their robes and whatever. Also, this is THE place to shop. At the entrance to the temple are hundreds of shops that are considerably cheaper than most places. If you don’t know how to 3rd world haggle then your best bet is to walk into one of the larger stores where the prices are fixed and they accept credit cards.
Uluwatu Temple (Pura Uluwatu) – This is one of Bali’s nine key directional temples. The structure was significantly expanded by a Javanese sage, Empu Kuturan in the 11th Century. Another sage from East Java, Dang Hyang Nirartha is credited for constructing the padmasana shrines. Even more remarkable than the temple itself is its location, perched on a steep cliff 70 meters above the roaring Indian ocean waves. There are more steep headlands on either side and sunsets over Uluwatu are amazing. We watched the Kecak fire dance and Ramayana story performed on the cliff while the sun set. This place is also called “Monkey Temple” due to the insane amounts of monkeys running around being mischievous and doing what monkeys do. Buy a bag of sliced bananas from the old lady at the entrance and have fun feeding them.
Rafting – We traveled to Ubud to go rafting down the Ayung River. This isn’t like floating down the Comal River on an inner tube. This is “I am your guide. Put on your helmet, life vest and tie your shoes tight. Then do exactly what I tell you, when I tell you and we’ll be fine.” We were in a raft with some Australian guys who were also athletic so we did very well. We hauled ass through major rapids, over waterfalls, over boulders and then we saved a Chinese man who thought he was drowning after his raft flipped. We had no idea what we were getting into when we decided on this, but we’re happy we did. While this tour is no joke and not for those light of heart or out of shape, it was the most exciting event. It lasts for about two hours and then a great buffet lunch waits your exhausted and adrenaline fueled return.
Scooter Rental – There is no better way to see Bali than from a scooter while driving on the opposite side of the road. Though there are no street signs, stoplights, blinkers, maps with a complete set of streets and street names this is the way to travel. Don’t forget Bali is a relatively small island, especially to a Texan. We put hundreds of miles on our scooter driving all over just watching the old men work their rice patties, driving down strange roads, exploring side road temples and whatever else looked interesting. Since gas stations are few and far, the locals have profited from this fact by driving to the gas stations, filling up lots of vodka bottles (typically Absolute bottles) and selling them on the side of the road. This means there is gas every few houses so you’re never in danger of running out of fuel regardless of how far you travel into rural areas. It cost roughly $1 to fill up a scooter that went 50 MPH. We drove the scooter in the sun burning sun, the rain, off road and everywhere in between. Renting a scooter for 10 days was by far the best $30 we spent.
Elephant Safari – I didn’t enjoy this as much as L— did, but it wasn’t bad. We basically sat in an adorned chair on the back of an enormous Sumatran elephant and rode through the jungle. This included the traversing of a surprisingly deep lake. It was bumpy and a little boring, but the elephant driver was very interesting and knowledgeable so we were entertained. On the home stretch the elephant (who was named Delia or something like that) played the harmonica for us.
Accommodations – I don’t have much to compare to, but renting a private villa worked out perfectly. Our inexpensive, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, private pool, 10 feet from Pererenan Beach came with 2 cooks / maids (morning and afternoon), a gardener, a pool person, a security guard and a personal driver. The driver was our favorite. His name was Nyoman (pronounced “Yo-man”) so it was easy to get his attention. Nyoman drove us to the activities that were too far to scooter to. While the scooter was fun to ride on, you don’t want to drive an hour across the island, go rafting, then ride back another hour when you could relax in the back of Nyoman’s SUV while he bumps Brandy (Bali’s favorite Pop Diva) or every 3rd world country’s go to guy, Bob Marley. Nyoman reminded us on how easy life can be. His life consisted of driving people where they wanted to go and then surfing the rest of the day. Plus, he only had two CDs: Brandy and Bob Marley. What more do you want?
Flight – I’m forever spoiled by the service, luxury and smoothness of Korean Air. Best airline I’ve ever flown. The flight attendants are straight forward and respectful, the personal in-flight movie selection is overwhelming and include most movies that are currently in American theaters and the food varies from mediocre to good. Plus there’s more leg room than other airlines. Tip #1: When asked the question, “Would you like Western or Korean meal?” Say Korean because the Western meal is not the West you are familiar with. I’ll just leave it at that. Tip #2: I know they’re gay looking, but buy one of those gay looking neck pillows for any flight you plan to sleep on. 30 hours on an airplane is best done with lots of sleep and plenty of movies. I watched 7 movies, read an entire book, 5 magazines and slept through the other parts and yes… the neck pillow was awesome.
We did other stuff as well like shopping in Seminyak, visiting other temples, sitting by the pool, the beach and being shown Suluban Beach which I hope no one else ever finds because its so raw, beautiful and untarnished. These were the most monumental activities of this amazing, relaxing and easily “Top 3″ places I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience.
Last year my favorite book was The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls so when she released her 2nd title, Half Broke Horses I purchased it the day it came out in hardback. I had hopes. The Glass Castle was an amazing read and is in fact the great American novel without question. The devastating ending and absolute truth it reveals was as powerful as they come. Jeannette’s childhood is as real and beautiful as any work of fiction. In fact, I was so taken with The Glass Castle I wrote to Jeannette and asked her if I could purchase a painting by her mother. Jeannette responded by saying my request was “sweet” and I never heard anything about it again.
Anyhow, Jeannette continues the journey in Half Broke Horses by telling the story of her grandmother’s life story. Through the exploits of Lily Casey — mustang breaker, schoolteacher, ranch wife, bootlegger, poker player, racehorse rider, bush pilot and mother of two — Walls remembers the adrenaline-fueled frontier background that gave her own mother a taste for adventure. This helps to put her first book into prospective and explain why her childhood was so insanely dramatic.
If I had a choice I would have read Half Broke Horses first and then The Glass Castle. Actually, if they were combined into one book, I’d be pleased with that as well even though this would start the story much slower, saner, believable and eventually spellbind us by the tragic genius of Rex Walls, Jeannette’s father. Half Broke Horses ends with the introduction of Rex who is by far one of the best characters I’ve ever had the chance to read about. Better yet, he was a real person and we’re reading true events that actually happened. Although The Glass Castle is 100% non-fiction, Walls admits in the prologue of Half Broke Horses that she had to use her imagination to fill in some of the gaps that she, her mother nor her relatives can recall. I didn’t mind that.
Many times I’ll finish a book and feel as though I’ve wasted my time. Even though Wall’s latest work isn’t the best book I’ve read this year, it’s still an easy, interesting read, but I don’t feel it can stand on its own legs if you haven’t read her first book. Morever, I have no idea where Jeannette will go from here. I can only image it will be pure fiction unless she continues through her heritage and tells the story of her great-grandmother.
Overall, her story is an amazing one and I’m happy she shared it with the world. At the same time, I’m saddened there will no more to tell and if there is, it just won’t be as dynamic or amazing as these. This leads me to believe that 99% of authors are only capable of one truly great book and Harper Lee was right to stop when she did.
Here’s a quick video about Jeannette’s first book and the reason I emailed her about buying a painting from her mother, Rose Mary Walls. It helped that Rose Mary reminds me of my grandmother, Mildred McCoy a great deal. That and her paintings are actually good.
1. If I say I’ll be there in 15 minutes, I really mean 30-45 minutes.
2.If you throw up in my cab and I’m going to kick you out. Regardless of where we are.
3. Yellowman is one of the best (and scariest looking) reggae musicians of all time.
90% of Austin cabbies are from Nigeria and they all love Yellowman. Next to Augustus Pablo, Yellowman may be my favorite reggae musician. As a young albino orphan, Yellowman, (born Winston Foster) had a tough childhood until he won a talent contest and the rest is history. I only listen to his first two albums from the early 80′s. Like most musicians Yellowman’s early stuff was his best. From his first album Mister Yellowman the tracks “Morning Ride” and “Jamaica a Little Miami” are my favorites. In “Jamaica a Little Miami” Yellowman sings a bunch of facts about Jamaica. Did you know that when tourists come to Jamaica no one shoots them down? That they make white rum, grow sugar cane and the women are very beautiful? Sounds like Miami doesn’t it? “Don’t worry man, come out to Miami. No one’s going to shoot you. Promise.”
Yellowman’s second album, Zungguzungguguzungguzeng provided the breakthrough he needed to become an international sensation. This album also began a long series of declarations of Yellowman’s sexual prowess. You may think you’ve never heard Yellowman, but you have. The beat from the song Zungguzungguguzungguzeng has been copied by everyone from Tupac to Mos Def. Also, if you’ve ever heard the song by NWA Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt then you’ve heard Yellowman. That’s him singing the chorus.
I can only recommend these two albums. The rest are less inspired and a regurgitation of these first two, amazing albums.
Meanwhile, a few years later Slayer released their 3rd album titled, Reign In Blood. This album was produced by the infamous Rick Rubin who is probably most famous for his American Recordings work with the late Johnny Cash. Anyhow, many people claim this is one of the greatest metal / thrash albums of all time so I had to take a look. Back then it was somewhat controversial due to the graphic nature of the lyrics wherein they discuss human experimentation, the holocaust, etc. and I think this helped it land in the Billboard top 100 at one point. Really, this album is just fucking hardcore, fast slashing, shit on your dad and sacrifice a retarded puppy in the name of Satan type of music. In the song “Altar of Sacrifice” they actually say, “Hail Satan” a few times. Now you know where you got that from. The guitar riffs by Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman are brutal and bad ass. There’s no doubting that. The entire album is roughly 30 minutes, but if you sit there and listen to the whole thing you may end up sweating from pure adrenaline or the insane double drum fills that clobber your ears with tiny fists. My favorite song is probably “Criminally Insane (Remix)” as the drums come in perfectly before a classic guitar riff picks it up and keeps you off kilter for the remainder of the song. This is good stuff, but I still enjoy the Melvins work more.
And then there’s Roger Daltrey. Oh Roger, you just couldn’t just be happy jamming with The Who could you? I guess after watching Pete write just about every song (including the hit “Squeeze Box”) on The Who By Numbers album in ’75 Roger needed to find his voice and experiment with every popular genre of the era. Not excluding a country twang that comes out oddly close to an Allman Bros. track on the song “Single Man’s Delimma”. I’ve listened to this album quite a few times over the last few months after finding it tucked in the shadow of a public library and I still haven’t been able to get a grip on it. There are just some really bad songs including “Avenging Annie” which sounds like a song off Tommy, just not as good. The title track “One of the Boys” sounds like a southern rock guitar riff mixed with an AC/DC singing style. It’s not that good really. I enjoyed the album cover until I found out it was modeled after Magritte’s famous painting Reproduction Interdite. And truly, that really sums up the entire album. A bunch of copies of something that leaves you wanting to find the original because you can just tell the original is much better.
10 years ago Jack White was working as an upholsterer with his friend Brian Muldoon and they decided to start a rock group. Though some called them a punk group, I just don’t see how. They named their band appropriately, after their profession and released a single called “Makers of High Grade Suites” on a 7″ record released w/ Sympathy for the Record Industry under the band name The Upholsterers. Of course these 7 inch records are out of print now and can be found on ebay for $500 – 1000 dollars, but it’s easy to find digital recordings of it online. The three tracks on this release sound like lo-fi recordings of The White Stripes and it seems like the only original song is “Apple of My Eye” as the other tracks are credited to Willie Dixon and Jack Starr, two musicians of varying eras and genres. Another cool fact about the original 7 inch release is that it came with a variety of inserts, such as a sticker for White’s business ‘Third Man Upholstery’, a “fabric” sample of sandpaper, a Muldoon Studio business card and a reproduction of an WE Klomp upholstery tag. Sounds like something my friends and I would do.
Spoon delivers their sixth EP in shotgun form by announcing it a week before the release date, and overall it’ll be stacked on the shelf with a passing glance—a glance everyone is nearly forced to make lest they miss a hidden jewel. More of a single for the title track than anything, it’s Jim Eno’s drumming that comes to the forefront and sets the stage. Easy to hear is the Deerhunter influence, as it was recorded by the Atlanta band’s soundman in their half-famous Rare Book Room in Brooklyn earlier this year. Even with that keynote undertone, “Got Nuffin” sounds like The Black and White Years could’ve recorded it with Jerry Harrison on the opposite coast, as it has that lingering vocal approach that all SNL bands are required to possess. Honestly, “Got Nuffin” is a catchy song and is destined to find its keg full of college radio play, but it can’t escape that “another-average-Spoon-song” feel that’s unshakeable even after double-digit listens.
Surprising is the second track, “Tweakers,” which is a low-fi cut-up Britt Daniel pasted together about a month or so ago. This song would be perfect if you and Tom Waits had just done a line of coke and were orbiting the moon on a spaceship where no one could speak. It would also be perfect if you made it, because you probably could. It’s a drum loop with some chimes and shit in the background and will probably be the song most people go back to in a year or so.
The EP rounds out with a more psychedelic guitar sound than you’re used to hearing from Spoon on the song “Stroke Their Brains,” a dark horse of a song nuzzling the gate of a movie soundtrack with ghoulish background vocals and synth vibrato countering the warbling wammy bar.
Spoon fans are going to enjoy this Win-Place-Show trio of indie rock versatility. At least it’ll give them something to drag around in their iPods until the new album is released. And the way Spoon’s PR team is announcing things these days…that could be tomorrow.
Some day I’m going to figure out how many new albums I listen to each week. Then I’ll probably realize how much money I’m spending w/ iTunes and how much time I spend downloading albums from various sites and that’ll make me sad, for a split second. Every few days I think about writing a post like this that quickly reviews the albums I’ve been listening to, but such is life. I listen to each album in its entirety. Most of the time I listen to the album more than once. Usually, I’ll swipe a few tracks from the album and add it to a list or compilation I keep called, “Cool Shit”. Here’s what I’ve been listening to the last few days.
THE BLACK KEYS – BROTHERS. This is a recent favorite. I’ve actually listened to this album many times since I’ve bought it. It’s the new Black Keys album and I have to admit I’m late on this particular bandwagon. At first glance this album is like Ghostland Observatory meets White Stripes especially on the first track , “Everlasting Light”. Surprisingly, the album conveys a great deal of soul and that alone is refreshing. I’ve been searching for a backbone in new music and it’s insanely hard to come by. I’ve actually had to go way, way, way back to find something substantial. Anyhow, this album will find a good deal of play on my iPod this summer.
DANIEL HIGGS – SAY GOD. Say Davendra Banhart got really fucking old and went crazy. Crazier than he already is and started talking about socialism, commercialism and most of all, religion. You’d get Daniel Higgs. I really wanted to like this album and I tried very hard to enjoy this latest Thrill Jockey release, but it’s not doing it for me. I’ll admit I’ve only listened to it a few times, but the songs aren’t clever, interesting, moving 0r very well written. The songs are uninspired sermons spoken or sang from an average hobo. Plus, the songs go on and on and on. For 17 minutes sometimes and there may be only a wheezing accordian to keep the pace. This album is usually exactly what I’m looking for so I’m going to keep trying to like it.
JACK JOHNSON – TO THE SEA. If you’re a huge Jack Johnson fan then you’ll love this latest album because it sounds exactly like everything else he’s ever done. He’s still a huge proponent of love, austerity and half clever chorus lines entertain through out and I don’t mind it. I like to put on a Jack Johnson album when I don’t want to think about anything, listen to anything as his lyrics aren’t full of (too many) cliches and seem to sink right into the brain and make you feel happy-go-lucky. One of the things Jack is great at is writing songs to his kids. I don’t have kids, but I get a little sentimental when I hear him sing to his. He also reminds me of Hawaii and I have great memories of my time there. He redoes “Better Together” on this album with a female singer accompanying him, but I think the original is better. This album ain’t that bad, but it ain’t any better than his others.
SHUGGIE OTIS – HERE COMES SHUGGIE OTIS. If you don’t know who Shuggie Otis is, then pick up an album. His album Inspiration Information is fucking great and I’ve been rocking it for years. Though “Here Comes Shuggie” is his first solo album released in 1970 and it’s not as mature, but it’s still a fine album for any time of the day or night. Put this album on at your next house party and jump to the instrumental jam, “Bootie Cooler” and you won’t be disappointed. Shuggie was a pure guitarist as any guitarist will agree. One of the better guitar tracks is “Shuggie’s Boogie” when he goes through a bunch of blues licks from his favorite blues guitarist. I could go on about this album, but this is certainly worth an add to anyone who prides themselves on having a diverse collection of great albums.
SOLOMON BURKE – THE VERY BEST OF. An issue or so ago Rolling Stone Magazine did a long story on Solomon Burke and it reminded me of what a genius this guy was, maybe still is. Let’s forget he has 21 children by 4 different women, 90 grandchildren and 19 great-grand children and let’s remember he’s been an ordained minister since we was 12. Solomon is one of the original gospel to pop singer crossovers of the late 50′s. It’s a long list of famous musicians who have covered his material including his most famous song, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” made famous by The Rolling Stones. This album covers numerous genres and my friend, it’s body swaying, relaxing and above all, soulful. This man had it and he still does. After gaining too much weight to walk he now performs on stage sitting on a throne adorned with jewels and beads while wearing a purple suit. Did I mention he’s performed for two different popes?
LEE “SCRATCH” PERRY & THE UPSETTERS – SUPER APE. Ah, the founder of dub music. Reggae has a place in my life and I suppose it always will. Now, I used to smoke a lot of weed and reggae is always great for cooling out, but these days I put on a bad ass reggae album and write or maybe organize my office. It’s great background music. Many people call “Super Ape” the gateway to Scratch Perry and I don’t disagree as this was the peak of Perry’s creative prowess and acid consumption. Common reggae subjects like weed and Zion are predominant throughout the lyrics, but it still feels so nice and easy to consume. In fact I find it easy to drift off into my own dub infused world of whatever it is I was thinking about before I decided to place this landmark album into my subconscious for awhile.
LOU REED – ROCK AND ROLL HEART. First off, this isn’t a rock and roll album. It’s more of some type of pop-jazz album though it’s reported this album rescued Reed from bankruptcy so I’m guessing he didn’t owe a great deal of money. Rock and Roll Heart was Reed’s 7th album and was released in 1976 and if you’re itching for a classic sounding track skip right to “Temporary Thing” as it might be the best track on the album. For Velvet Underground fans who are looking for that familiar sound you’ll enjoy the masturbatory “Banging On My Drum” that drives like you want it to. This album isn’t going to get a lot of rotation in my world, but it’s worth a once through. If you’d have told me this album was released in 1982 I would have believed it. The Barbara Mandrell piano on “Follow the Leader” and all the other lazy music doesn’t really do it for me. Like most Lou Reed stuff, this album is half-hearted, but I guess that’s to be expected.
I’m going to stop here as the review is getting long. I’ll return with the complete discography of Freakwater, Kristofferson’s first album, the new Melvins and a great many Library of Congress field recordings.
One of my favorite rock albums of late is (the) Melvins – (a) Senile Animal. Released in 2006 (year of the Sabbath sound resurgence), this is the first album with the new and current line-up. (Two guys from Big Business joined in ’06. ) Seems the only founding member still in the group is Buzz “King Buzzo” Osborne though the drummer, Dale Crover, seems to have been there from close to the beginning. Anyhow, (a) Senile Animal seems to me to be a damn near perfect metal album. I don’t know which kind of metal, stoner or whatever it is, but this is an amazing album.
Quickly, I want to address the track Civilized Worm because it’s so strange. It begins with a Beastie Boys style drum beat and breaks in with a Nirvana style guitar riff and continues with Stone Temple Pilot style singing. I don’t know what the fuck is going on in this track and it’s by far the wimpiest cut on this album, but the rest of the album is so good I look past it. The lyrics of Civilized Worm aren’t very good either. It’s mostly about suffering. Melvins seem to suffer a great deal. Anyhow, the writing isn’t very good on any of their songs, but it’s metal, so the lyrics don’t really matter I guess.
My favorite song is A History of Bad Men, but other notables include The Mechanical Bride because of the patience involved, Blood Witch, and The Hawk are also great. The latter reminds me a little of early RTX and drives and just keeps on with an amazing force and timing. The Hawk talks about a nightmare wherein the gutter martyr has basically abandoned you to be eaten by the hawk. The hawk has also eaten a sparrow, not to mention “the learned”. But you are reminded that none of this is your fault. It is the fault of the holy nightmare who’s wings have come drifting in. So I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
After (a) Senile Animal, Melvins released Nude with Boots two years later. I love the cover of this album, but it seems to circle a little safer around popular hard rock sound. Toned down, spaced out and again reminiscent of early RTX, especially on the song Dog Island. It might just be the voice effects or the way they sing the chorus that keeps me comparing the two bands. When I listen to Nude with Boots I want to go right back and listen to (a) Senile Animal and that’s unfortunate because there are really some good songs (Suicide in Progress, The Savage Hippy) on Nude with Boots, but it’s just not as good.
Melvins release a new album in June called The Bride Screamed Murder and I’m looking forward to it. This group of guys seem to be onto something and regardless of the outcome I’m going to listen to the new album while running around Ladybird Lake like I do now. Running while listening to metal is empowering as though you could snap someone’s spine with your bare hands or just run forever without getting tired. If you can’t run to metal then pick up Woflmother‘s new hard rock album Cosmic Egg because that’s pretty great as well.
Most people, at one time or another, have used a temporary agency to
find a job. I’m different in that I use temporary agencies,
exclusively, to find work. I keep a job until I no longer need it and
simply walk away, cash in hand, ready to do nothing until I’m broke
again. In that, I’ve worked for one or more temp. agencies for the
last 10 years and have had the best and worst of positions available.
Hell, I’ve even worked AT temp. agencies finding people jobs and it
could’ve been me who gave you your last assignment. So yeah, I’ve done
it all and I’m going to shed some light on how temp. agencies work,
particularly those in Austin, and how you can classify the different
agencies and know what to look for when finding a job.
Anyone who has visited a temp. agency knows the indignity of taking
their long series of demeaning tests. They’ll test you on typing
speed, Windows 98/2000/XP, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and go so far as
to give you a personality test, maybe have you watch a video on sexual
harassment or box lifting procedures. It doesn’t matter if you have a
degree from St. Eds or worked as an Office Manager for the last 4
years, you’ll still need to take the Excel test to prove you know how
to create a new directory or save a Word document using hot keys.
Once you actually sit down with a staffing agent you’re systematically
questioned about what type of position you’re looking for, your job
history, where you’ve sent resumes, about your references and finally
they’ll you what they can do for you. It seems innocent enough, but
there are reasons they ask you these questions. Some of which might be
First of all, they need to know what type of job you’re searching for,
but they’ll decide what you’re qualified to do. There might be a great
position they’ve been looking to fill and you’re the perfect
candidate! Mmmmm… if not, something might come up and they’ll give you
a call. Be warned, if they don’t have a job for you THAT DAY, your
chances drastically decrease of ever finding work with that agency. If
they don’t call you in a week or two, forget it, because you’ll never
hear from them again unless you call them once a week and ask if
they’ve got a job opening. After a while, you’ll be referred to as a
“job stalker” or some other derogatory name in their office, but
they’ll remember you and might actually find you a shitty job just to
get you off their backs. I’ve seen it happen.
Next, the temp. agency wants to know what companies you’ve been
applying to because obviously that company is hiring. Agencies have
tremendous databases of companies in Austin they hope to employ their
recruits with. If you tell them you applied to Rusty’s Database Firm
last week, you can bet they’re going to call Rusty and see if they can
send over some great candidates to fill the position (or any other
position) Rusty is hiring for. You can also bet they won’t mention
your name. You already applied there and well… you obviously didn’t
get the job.
Also, they need to know who your references are and will ask you, “Who
is this reference here… John Smith, where does he work and what is his
title? Can I call him?” If you reply, “Oh sure, John is my
brother-in-law and he’s the IT Manger for Computer X Inc. He’s great.”
You can bet the recruiter is going to call John, pretend like he/she
is doing a reference check on you and quickly move the conversation to
a sales call. The agency wants your brother-in-law to use their temp.
agency the next time he has a project or is looking to hire someone.
The agency will do this with every reference you list and possibly
your prior employers because they are hired to do this, specifically.
Getting you a job is at many agencies, a low priority.
Temp. agencies are constantly needing new companies to send their
employees to and you are their best source of information for
companies that are hiring. You’ve been looking for jobs much harder
than they have since they have a job and you don’t. Lots of agencies
interview 30 or more people a day and haven’t a single position to
fill. They want to know where you’ve been applying and they need your
references to call in hopes of finding new clients for their own
benefit. Temp. agencies burn through local businesses because they
send anyone who will take a job to any place hiring. Being over or
under qualified for any position is not something to consider when
filling a position. “Put a body behind a computer” is a term familiar
to many staffing agents.
Temporary agencies do want to find you a job, its their business.
Agencies make money when you make money. It works like this, if you’re
making $8 an hour, the temp. agency is charging your employer $11 to
$13 dollars an hour for your services. This should make your pay
negotiable and an experienced temp. employee, like myself, will get
offered $10 an hour for a data entry job, but I’ll ask for $11 and get
it. I know they’re charging $15 an hour to the employer and an extra
buck isn’t going to mean much. Let’s stay positive and imagine your
agency offers you a job processing orders at a warehouse for $9 an
hour. Well, you’re looking for work as an Admin. Asst. and want $11 an
hour, minimum. You thought you made that clear. Many temp. agencies
don’t enjoy people without a job turning down ANY job. They had to go
through the trouble of actually calling you on the phone and you turn
it down? This will go into the notes section in your personal file
like a black mark against your entire existence and it doesn’t look
good. There’s little room for error here and you already have little
I mean really… there are 3 types of jobs temp. agencies can offer you.
The first is a temporary assignment. This job will last anywhere from
a day to a few months. The employer might need help for a special
project or a busy season and you’ll find yourself doing something so
mundane and idiotic that it’s obvious why they hired you: No one else
would do it. These jobs pay little and it’ll require the temp. agency
sending numerous people to complete the assignment. Most people will
quit the first few hours at a job where you build cable to power
electric gates, put together plastic binders, or wash cats at the
animal shelter for $5.50 an hour. That’s less than a dollar a cat,
once you get good.
The second type of job is a temp. to hire position. This job has the
potential to go into a full time job, with an actual company who might
provide job stability, potential for advancement and health insurance.
If you can stick it out for 3 months as a temporary employee, show up
on time and do all the things it takes to keep a job, the company
might actually hire you. Lots of times they don’t because they don’t
want to pay your contract fee, give you health insurance or anything
else that goes along with having a new employee. Companies like the
idea of a truly dispensable worker because if they don’t like you or
don’t need you, they can send you back and ask for another you.
Hopefully, you find a job with a decent company and after 90 days or
500 hours (the standard) your employer gets the opportunity to “buy
you” and pay a fee for you to work for them full time, as one of their
own employees. At many companies, people work as a temporary employee
for many months, even years, without the opportunity of ever becoming
a real employee. At many companies 8 out of 10 employees are temporary
and every 2 weeks a new batch of 10 trainees are marched through the
cubes in creased power suits.
The third type of job is a direct hire position. This is everyone’s
favorite and a very rare occasion. This is where the temp. agency
finds a company to hire you directly. With this, you never work for
the temp. agency and immediately go to work as an official employee
for said company. This works out for everyone because you get a real
job and the temp. agency makes a bunch of money. They usually charge
the company %10 of your annual pay, plus a finder’s fee. If they offer
you $40k a year, the temp agency is going to make $4k right off and a
little something extra. This is rare and in my experience only idiotic
companies will go this route. Why pay 5 grand to a temp. agency when
you can put an ad on craigslist for free? No one is that busy, but it
does happen and many temp. agencies require their agents to do this or
find another job.
I’ve taken the time to interview the agencies here in Austin, review
their performance and talk about how they could improve their
performance, overall, for the better of the team, as a whole. You
understand what I mean?
Apple One Employment Services
They have a long way to go with 2 offices that haven’t been in Austin
that long. Their revolving staff of hit and miss agents hire for
general office work, but mostly no-brainer jobs like data entry, data
processing and call center work. This is a true sales office and they
rely heavily on the people they interview for “leads”. Which means
they use your references, jobs applied to and work history to find new
clients. Their goal is to get you directly hired to any company,
regardless of compatibility, so they can make individual profits via
commission. The people they find jobs for shouldn’t use a temporary
service as they are qualified to find jobs for themselves. Their ads
on monster.com are fake, as those jobs don’t actually exist, they are
simply fishing for your references and applied to’s.
Adecco Employment Agency
3 offices in Austin and 1 in Georgetown. For some reason they employ
more people in Austin than many other agencies. I’ve found them lazy
and inefficient. Unfortunately, they seem to have a line on most of
the better companies to work with in Austin. They do have a separate
office for high-end tech jobs that can be useful if you can get in
with one of the agents, have the experience and a professional
appearance and resume. Recent changes in job recruiters hold promise
for this agency, but they’ll still try to get you to take a graveyard
shift filing medical charts if you sound desperate.
This agency is the bitch for an international call center called
Harte-Hanks. Staffmark has 2 locations and one is entirely devoted to
filling the revolving door of employees who are hired and fired at
Farte-Skanks. Staffmark actually has an office IN both Harte-Hanks
compounds and would not be in business if it weren’t for them. They
have a staff of better thans who are nearly incapable of paying anyone
on time and are a pain in the ass to talk with on the phone. It’s my
theory that a few intelligent women at their Executive Center Dr.
location hold this company together. Skip this place and buy a paper.
Spherion hires mostly for Dell Computers and not much else because
they don’t need to. Dell pays their bills so the motivation to do
anything else isn’t there, especially with the new Children’s Hospital
on the way. I don’t care what they say, the rumors are true. Anyone
who has worked for Dell (aka Hell) knows what a pain it is to work
with these people. This isn’t a real staffing agency in Austin, it’s
only a crummy middle man to a job in Dell’s customer service dept.
where the employees have lines on stolen laptops that make their
pitiful jobs actually worth it. Knowing a crooked employee at Dell is
more valuable than the time it takes to actually go through Spherion’s
bullshit and work there.
Low end Agencies:
These guys are serious about background and credit history. Only
because they deal with felons and employ tons of unskilled laborers to
places like GM’s call center and Pflugerville machine shops. At one
time, Express was respectable and could find you a decent job with
decent pay. That just isn’t true anymore. Their offices are ugly,
barren and herd people through like beef cattle after 10 pages of
paperwork. A fake plant in the corner of their office would be nice,
but a fake woman at the front desk just doesn’t do it for me. No
longer valid and getting worse.
Key Staff Inc.
This place is a total joke. They’ve got a tiny office near a mexican
restaurant and two post-sorority girls who keep their pet schnauzer in
the office run the ship. On the application it asks you to draw your
favorite cartoon character as a prerequisite. If you don’t give a
weeks notice before quitting your terrible job they cut your pay to
minimum wage and send you a St. Theresa prayer in an email telling you
how disappointed they are. I’d rather give plasma at a Red Cross RV
than use this service.
Bottom of the barrel:
Sure, it can get much worse, but this place doesn’t lie. They admit
the jobs they’re giving you are temporary and sucky. They don’t care
what you look like, smell like or if you killed a blonde in Guatemala
and spent the better part of your life in prison sucking cock to stay
alive. They’ll give you a job and will give you your check when you
drive over and pick it up. I recommend the location on Andersen Lane
because the staff there is laid back, annoyed you’re alive and wants
to go home as much as you do.
Get up at 5 in the morning, get to your local Labor Ready location by
5:30, take a key bump and get in line. Labor Ready opens its door at
6am and the first 10 people are guaranteed black coffee and a job
cleaning up a construction site, driving cars through an auto auction
or hauling hay bails outside of Kyle, TX. There’s usually a machine at
the office that will cash your check for you at %3 percent. I worked 8
hours one day and after paying gas costs, check fees and buying a
joint from a guy outside, I walked home with $17 dollars. Loitering
with illegals in the parking lot of a Home Depot would be a better
idea than looking to this place for work.
Do yourself a favor and don’t bother with a temp. agency. They’re
parasitic in nature and only exist because we’re too lazy to find our
own godamn jobs. While they can be helpful, honest and sincere, most
of the time they aren’t. It’s terribly unfortunate that such a
convenient service is littered with shitheads in slacks looking to
make a buck off your experience and ambition. In today’s job market
its very attractive and sometimes necessary to seek temporary
employment to hold you over until you can land something permanent.
Honestly though, a permanent job? Those are for suckers. If you learn
to use a temporary agency, the right way… they’ll never use you again.
Last month I received a zine called “muthercity” from Destry Bermoy of College Place, Washington and enjoyed it a great deal. Muthercity is filled with hand drawnings and type writer words, sentences and random alphanumeric messages that fall under the umbrella of Anvl (anvil). Anvl seems to be the brand, image or logo throughout this zine. Different personalities or people (it’s hard to tell) zoom off and on the page in fragments like:
“demon i day turned into goat
i that goats live ate
but i to ask why why cant we just admit
no on needed
The entire zine is fueled by a zig-zag of satanic punk fragments that scream of self exploration surrounded by drawings of scantily clad women w/ guns, horns and pill bottles. This is the most bizarre and wild zine I’ve seen in a long time. I wish there were more of these out there. Instructions inside the zine include, “After Reading Please Pull Zine Apart” and better yet there is a Quote of the Zine:
“It was a fun day.
I loved the yellow
bra and panties.”
Good work Destry.
I love the zine.
While in sunny San Diego last week it was mere coincidence that I watched two movies about sports fans. Sometimes things just happen that way.
Movie 1: The Fan
A 1996 film starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes. Wesley Snipes is back in the big leagues portraying an aging slugger named Bobby Rayburn. Not too much different than his character, Willy Mays Hayes, in Major League, but instead of a wise cracking base thief he plays a humble home run hitter at the end of his career. De Niro, a down and out knife salesman, is obsessed with the hitter and goes to great lengths to ensure Rayburn’s career continues. Of course De Nero’s character is always flipping his knife out and wanting to cut stuff with it and a cameo by Benicio Del Toro was kind of surprising. The movie was pretty good for a sports stalker sort of movie.
Movie 2: Big Fan
Written and directed by former editor in chief of The Onion, Robert Siegel, Big Fan is a dark comedy starring Patton Oswalt. Oswalt’s character, Paul Aufiero, is a childlike adult living with his nagging mother. Paul works in a parking garage and is obsessed with the New York Giants. He’s particularly obsessed with star linebacker, Quantrell Bishop. Paul’s only outlet in life is to call into a sports talk radio show where he is known as “Paul of Staten Island”. Paul is a regular on the show, but so is “Philadelphia Phil” (Michael Rapaport) a sharp tongued, if not down right mean, Eagles fan who hates the Giant. Paul hates the Eagles and crafts carefully worded diatribes about how great the Giants are. Things heat up when the Giants become tied with rival Philadelphia Eagles for 1st place in the NFC East. The story takes a turn when Paul is beaten up by Quantrell Bishop and spends 6 days recovering in the hospital. Media attention and family turmoil ensue and Paul blames Philadelphia Phil and seeks revenge. The movie goes full circle and really I was surprised by this sports stalker tale.
While these movies were decent overall, this was by far, the best thing that happened in San Diego.