Friday, September 24, 2010

LOL by Richard Blandford

Richard Blandford
 Please welcome my first guest blogger, a charming gentleman from the UK, Mr. Richard Blandford. He is the author of two books - Hound Dog and Flying Saucer Rock & Roll - both published by Jonathan Cape. It was through the magic of social media, Twitter, to be exact - that I met Blandford. I've read Hound Dog and strongly recommend it if you want a read that is viciously whip-smart and fast paced with sharply defined original characters. And now, my Twitter pal, Richard Blandford.


OK, here’s a question. When people type LOL, are they literally Laughing Out Loud as they do so? That is, not just a little snigger, but a full-blown guffaw? This surely cannot be happening with the frequency and intensity that the casual use of LOL suggests. Has anybody ever encountered someone in an Internet cafe, sat there, having hysterics at something they themselves have just thought of? And if this happens to them when writing a blog or an email, does it also occur when they are walking down the street, at work or on public transport? Can these people be found on the train, staring into space, seemingly LOL-ing at nothing?

Either this is the case or the claim that one is LOL-ing is often a gross exaggeration. I propose a new system of abbreviations that will describe people’s level of mirth more accurately.

LI = Laughing Internally

SSAOOJ = Smiling Slightly At One’s Own Joke

SIP = Smirking In Public

CD = Chuckling Discretely

LITOIADAFM = Laughing Insanely To Oneself In A Disturbing And Frightening Manner (formerly LOL)

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Visit Richard Blandford's website, Richard Blandford's Hound Blog, or follow him on Twitter. Definitely order his books.
"Hound Dog" Synopsis and Reviews
A novel of redemption and rock’n’roll, masturbation and morality.

He’s an Elvis impersonator who hates Elvis. An ex-con who learnt his craft in prison yards to avoid a beating. Now on the outside he gigs at social clubs in the Cambridge area, fuelled by cocaine, shagging anything that moves (though he’d like his conquests a little less … mature) and bullying and belittling his assistant performers who he cruelly calls Gay and Fat Elvis.

After his performances he dreams about Bridget; the sister who hung herself many years ago. And Eddie. Eddie, the Elvis-loving deviant who changed his life forever … and is willing to help him out again.

“Blandford does for fat, middle-aged, coke-addicted, sex deviant Elvis impersonators what Peter Guralnick has done for the man himself.” Niall Griffiths, author of Sheepshagger

“’Phoenix Nights’ meets America Psycho. In Cambridge.’ Kevin Sampson, author of Powder

“Slick, efficient and faintly nasty, this novel croons indie Brit-flick.” The Observer

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Job Hunting - Part Two

Company That Makes Binding Product For Businesses Or Hobbyists (aka UniBind)

Public Relations Specialist Needed, $40 - $45K Okay, I found this one on-line and applied three times. Finally got a phone call about an interview. Granted, I was in the car on the cell phone, but she had one of those high, nasally, valley girl voices that only her closest friends and mother could understand. I’ll make this one short because my blood boils anew every time I think of it.

This cute little Asian girl, about eleven years old, wearing flip-flops, a long tie-dyed skirt and a graphic tee shirt comes to get me for the interview. She introduces herself as Bee, the HR Manager and Corporate Recruiter. And I thought it was “Take Your Daughter To Work Day.”

First, I’m taken to meet Matt Coors, a department manager who is actually a frustrated wannabe horror writer and gives off a generally unhappy vibe altogether. The interview seems more of an argument with him telling me rudely what he sure my limitations are, and trying to get me to give up my media contacts. However, they may consider me if I’ll take half of what they offered in salary.

Then I got pulled back to Bee’s office where I was grilled about my years of freelance work, and the inevitable question of whether or not I’d want to come to a job every day when I’ve freelanced so long. I got real. “Well, Bee, as you know most companies in Atlanta will not want to hire a PR person who is over 25 years old. That’s why I freelance and ghostwrite.”

She nodded knowingly and said, “That’s true, but you look like you still get around pretty good for your age.” I was speechless. Yes. How do you answer that? Gee, I hope no one trips over the walker and portable oxygen tank I left in the hall. Then she added, “And as long as you can still get around and get out and do things, I think you should.”

I should have spanked her and sent her back to school so a grown-up could take over the office.

Temp World

Like a lot of folks, I enjoyed temporary work back in the day. You learn a lot, develop new skills, and you can pay a few bills. The difference between temping and ‘going permanent’ is the same as courting and getting hitched. You get the idea. So I like temping. Well, I did.

Nowadays it’s not so easy to get into temp land. The agencies act suspicious of you, a lot of tests must be taken, then they want to run a credit check and either direct you to a lab for a drug test or send you to their own restroom with a little plastic cup.

It’s been a while since my last software skill assessment, and the last three years I’ve worked at a place where at least an hour a day was wasted teaching a cursing, pot-head, wino idiot boss how to add an attachment to an e-mail and to double-click to open an e-mail.

The first staffing recruiter I meet reads my test results, and looking back at my resume shakes her head and says, “Sorry, I don’t think we can work with you. Your scores are too high and you are too educated.” This is repeated at the next three offices. Well, fat lot of good going to college did me. What if I promise to underperform? Speak poorly? Slack off and take extra breaks?

Most people at the agencies answer the phone like it’s midnight and you’re their bastard brother calling from jail for the 40th time for money. “Big sigh - huuuuh yeah? I dunno. We’ll call, whatever.” Once I saw that I had just missed a call from the temp folks. They left no message. I call immediately.

“Oh, yeah, huuuh, we were calling about a job. We didn’t know if you’d want it.”

“Great, I’m available. Where?”

“We called someone else.”

“Oh, I wish you had left a message.”

“Well, hhuuuuh, we didn’t know if you’d want it.”

Here’s another good one. Call to say I’m available. Guy answers, sounds like he’s snuck in and not sure what’s up.

“Oh, uh, you, uh, like, what?”

Again, I give my name and say I’m available for an assignment.

“Oh, well, um, could you like, uh, like call back tomorrow when someone’s here to like take like a message?”

So that’s what I do. And the nice lady says, “Oh you talked with Josh, our new branch manager.”

Huh? He’s a manager? He has a whole branch to manage? The little twit can neither take a message nor speak in a complete sentence. And he’s got a branch to manage! And I’m too educated and overqualified to work. The dumbing down of America – can this mudslide, or dumbslide, be stopped, reversed, dammed – or are we damned?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ossum Possum, And Other Irritations

People often ask me if I plan to have another television show. I finally thought about it, maybe I will. But it will be very different. Before I was focused on entertainment and liked making my guests look good. Some looked so good they used my show to get themselves some very high-profile gigs. Not that I get a nod, thanks, or please be on my guest list once they got too big for the little people.

So if I produced another show, I’d want it to be really entertaining – to me.

I want a segment where someone to sits on a stool and talks for one minute about whatever is on their mind. Everytime they say ‘like,’ ‘um,’ or ‘omigod, or ‘youknowwhahmsayin” I get to smack them in the back of their vapid little head – just under the parietal bone. Yeah!

Next, I will address rising intonation. Yes, that annoying speech disorder that has reached epidemic status. You’ve heard it - the rising intonation at the end of every phrase or sentence. Makes people sound like they’re not really too darn sure about what they are saying. How about a little electric shock for that?

And the piece de resistance - if they say ‘awesome,’ ‘absolutely’ or that something ‘totally rocks’- I will be there with a pair of metal garbage lids - one on each side of their moronic head - to bang like huge crash cymbols!

Then there’s Legal Brief Boy. A handsome and buff young Attorney at Law whose sole purpose is to appear fetchingly in a pair of men’s briefs and answer legal questions.

Lately I was looking for work through temp agencies. There are 3 main requirements to be the girl at the temp agency.

1- Have that high nasally voice that is completely undecipherable on the phone and painful to a dog’s ears.

2- Sprinkle inane comments such as “too funny,” “too weird,” or “too cute” throughout your blatantly saccharine whinings.

3- Be able to look job hunters in the eye and lie, lie without shame and lie without ceasing about money.

After comparing notes with fellow job hunters I’ve learned that it is common practice to call you with a job and tell you what it pays, after you express interest, drop the pay by 50 cents per hour, then when the paycheck comes you see it’s been dropped even further and blamed on the client.

It shows what they really think of us. Remember the old joke that ends with a woman asking indignitantly “What do you think I am?” And the man who propositioned her but then dropped the offering price replies “We’ve already established that, we’re just haggling over the price.”

Oh, it looks like I’ve rambled off the subject again. Or not. Tomorrow's post will be about the temp jobs right out of The Twilight Zone.

Stay tuned.