Inhuman Swill : January 2001

Don't touch my moustache

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There seems to be a trend afoot, and far be it from me to buck it. So why not cast a vote as to which is the better hair style?

Amsterdam, 2000
Disneyland, 2001
Of course, in my instance it's facial hair you're voting on, because there's not enough of the other kind to make much difference . . .

Maybe you caught the news this morning that, in a surprise announcement, Andrew Cuomo declared his intention of running for governor of New York. Cuomo, until ten days ago, was of course our HUD Secretary, and you probably know that his dear ol' dad Mario used to be governor here.

What surprised me was that this was a surprise announcement. What else is the son of a former governor going to do when his Cabinet appointment ends—particularly one whose family connections stretch back so far in national politics on both sides?

In all fairness, I had some, er, insider information. My friend Jonathan worked until recently for Kerry Kennedy Cuomo's human rights organization Speak Truth to Power. Kerry is Andrew's wife, and she's also RFK's daughter. Jonathan invited Laura and me to a private signing of the coffee-table book Speak Truth to Power in December, which was held at Kenneth Cole's flagship store at Rockefeller Center. Kenneth is married to Andrew's sister, and all the above-mentioned folks were in attendance at the little shindig, plus RFK Jr., who looks far more like his father than JFK Jr. looked like his.

Anyway, Jonathan told me that Andrew would be running for governor, and that he has his eye on the Presidency eventually. (Maybe he and Hillary will duke it out for the Democratic nomination in 2008—which would be an even stranger scenario than the one I sketched out for my story "From Our Point of View We Had Moved to the Left," which appeared F&SF in 1993 and concerned the Presidential Inauguration of 2009.) Andrew's intent seemed so inevitable that I guess I couldn't believe anyone would find his announcement a surprise.

You can rest assured, though, that I won't be announcing my candidacy for president of the teachers' union in Davis County, Utah, any time soon. I hope that doesn't come as a surprise.

Babe the blue OX

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For you BOX fans out there, I just got a very nice email from Rose Thomson, who tells me that they'll be playing February 17th at Mercury Lounge. Appropriately, one can get there by taking the F train to Second Avenue.

Of course, just my luck, I'm scheduled to be in Arizona for a friend's wedding reception that day. I missed the last Babe show, January 18th at the Knitting Factory, because I was in Los Angeles. I wonder if I can convince them to abandon this strategy of only scheduling shows when I'm out of town?

What's my line?

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I just received one of the nicest compliments I've had lately. One of the departing employees, whom I may not see again in an office setting, told me: "You know, out of all the people in this department, if I had to pick the one that was a former Mormon or from Utah, I never would have thought of you. And I hope you understand I mean that as a compliment."

Of course I understood. I understood perfectly. And I'm so pleased I could burst. That was the goal, you know.

Tomorrow's weather

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As reported yesterday evening by the A&E Biography sign:

I've been looking today, and I have to admit I haven't seen him yet. But I think that's because he keeps to the 'burbs.

If you haven't seen this video yet, and you have a fast connection, you owe it to yourself to check it out. You won't see George Dubya making a video like this anytime soon. (My favorite part is the bit with Kevin Spacey, but I like the ice cream machine almost as much.)

They say that into every sunny day must come a few clouds. Last Tuesday, a week ago today, a few huge thunderheads descended on One Lincoln Plaza. I escaped sudden death in the storm in a couple of senses, but I still caught a fatal dose of pneumonia.

Laura and I went on vacation to California last week, so that she could compete on the PBS game show MasterChef USA, hosted by British superchef Gary Rhodes. On Tuesday, we returned to our hotel room to find a message waiting. It asked me to call my boss at Sesame Workshop.

It was six in the evening, Pacific time, so I called my boss at home. "Bad news," he said. "Today our department was slashed to the bone. Management decided to change their business plan,

and they're going to outsource most of the Web site work from now on. Out of forty people they're only keeping nine permanently."

I sat there numbly on my rock-hard queen bed, waiting to hear which group I was in.

"There's a transition team, though," said my boss. "That's the permanent nine, plus seven more who will stay on until the end of April to help wrap up loose ends and prepare bits of the site to be packaged and maybe sold or given to partners. You're in the temporary part of the transition team."

"Wow," I said—perhaps not an appropriate response, but the best I could manage.

"There will be severance of some kind. I don't know what yet, though. I'm really sorry you had to hear this while you're on vacation. I gave HR every chance to get in touch with you before you left, but they didn't do it."

"I guess it was a pretty awful day at the office today?"

My boss sighed. "It went about as well as could be expected, but it was a bloodbath. Just brutal. Twenty-four people got laid off effective immediately. Originally you were slated for that group, but they weren't leaving me a single programmer for the transition team, so I was able to get you until April."

Small favors. Today I'm back in the office, and it's miserable here. It's like a war zone—not many people left, and the ones that are have hollow eyes and haunted looks. I met with HR this morning, who told me they haven't settled yet on what my severance package will be. This distresses me, because it seems that everyone who was here last Tuesday has a definite severance offer in hand. (The team was divided up into three groups—immediate fires, impending fires, and "permanent" keeps—each group being taken to a separate room and told its fate, including severance terms.) Why am I the odd man out?

I would almost rather have been laid off immediately, because there are any number of job possibilities being dangled in my face today, and I would have the (rumored) six weeks pay plus one week for every year of my employment (nearly three) in hand. As it is, I have to wait things out, and if I should leave before the end of April, I will likely forfeit my severance.

As one of my coworkers put it: "But what happened to the Muppet-y goodness?"

Take it up with the accountants.

Waving, not drowning

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Well, well, well. It's been a long time!

I was just looking over my and my friend's journals, marveling at the fact that I hadn't posted for a month and a half, and contemplating this entry when Baldanders AIMed me out of the blue. He had noted my long absence and wondered if I was okay. Strange synchronicity.

Gang, I'm okay. A lot of things have happened that I want to tell you about -- and that I wanted to tell you about as they happened -- but I have this difficulty. I'm rather poor at time management, and a single activity usually comes to dominate my existence. (Baldanders argues that this is good time management, and it may well be.) Right now the dominant activity is writing my memoir; it takes up most of my free time and leaves little emotional energy for anything else. And since my full-time job has to take some kind of precedence it there... Well, you get the point.

I've been to Utah recently, I'm going to California, Arizona, and Florida soon, I've nearly choked to death at a noodle shop on Union Square, I've had a doctor stick an optical cable up my nose and down my throat, I've acquired two more fish, I've finally met my five-year-old son, and I've written about 150 pages since the last journal entry. In fact, it may even be time to post a table-of-contents update to keep myself going (not that I intend to lose momentum at this point:

THE ACCIDENTAL TERRORIST How I Went from Mormon Missionary to Hijacker Without Really Trying

Table of Contents

PRELUDE. Problems in Applied Religion

CHAPTER 1. What Happened Before You Arrived CHAPTER 2. The Missionary Imposition CHAPTER 3. Clarion Call CHAPTER 4. Gentiles on My Mind CHAPTER 5. The Rocky Mormon Picture Show CHAPTER 6. Words and Phrases You Must Never Use in Utah CHAPTER 7. Holding Fast to the Rod of Glass CHAPTER 8. The Tête-à-Tête Offensive CHAPTER 9. Supercalifornication CHAPTER 10. Coke and Sympathy CHAPTER 11. God Drops a Bombshell CHAPTER 12. A Thunderous Clash of Symbols CHAPTER 13. Feeling My Oaths CHAPTER 14. The Devil and Miss McCormick CHAPTER 15. Dotting My I's and Crossing My T's CHAPTER 16. I Was a Teenage Space Alien CHAPTER 17. Girlfriend, Interrupted CHAPTER 18. Sailors on an Empty Sea CHAPTER 19. Confession Is Good for the Gander CHAPTER 20. The Sound of the Trumpet, the Alarm of War CHAPTER 21. The Tissue at Hand CHAPTER 22. Claws Like a Bear's CHAPTER 23. Kisses, Foiled Again

INTERLUDE. What Happened Before Any of Us Arrived

CHAPTER 24. Clueless in Calgary CHAPTER 25. Methuselah's Son CHAPTER 26. Intractable CHAPTER 27. Blessed Are the Hungry CHAPTER 28. Habits of the Unsupervised Male Missionary CHAPTER 29. Out of Bounds and Traveling CHAPTER 30. The City of Sisterly Love
more to come...

There's a preview elsewhere on my site -- drop by if you feel so inclined. It's the only journal I seem to be keeping consistently just now.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2001 listed from newest to oldest.

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