Sunday, April 29, 2007

Thinking Bloggers

I recently received the horrifying news that I actually made somebody think. Who on earth would dare to express such an insulting opinion of me and this disgusting collection of drivel that I call a blog?

Why, our Brit friend the Freelance Cynic, that's who. He done gone and nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award.

Here's how it works: I am to discuss and link to five other blogs that make me think, and ask them to do the same. Exact rules are reprinted at the bottom of this post.

With that, we at CPW hereby nominate the following five blogs, presented in alphabetical order, for a Thinking Blogger Award. Four out of these five bloggers make me think so hard that I end up copying their ideas. Except for Creepy, who simply causes me to think about his subconscious homoerotic fantasies of Shrek.


All the Way from Oy to Vey

Our pal Katie Schwartz and I remain kindred spirits in our compulsion to take cheap shots at Kristians, although many of Katie's posts on that topic and others compel me to think as well. At times I even post long commentary of my own on Katie's blog, most of which is welcome. I hope. Oh, and I have copied Katie by joining in on the fun on her emails to Lisa Whelchel.

Church of Lost Souls

I first linked to Creepy from Dale because the name of his blog intrigued me. Although he veers into other subjects such as work, psychotherapy and sex, the theme of his blog tends to be religion, specifically his disdain for it. I've spent a significant amount of time, at least in blog hours, pondering some of the statements he makes. I also love it that one of his closest friends is a Jehovah's Witness. Although I'm not sure how his discussions of him are supposed to be homoerotic as someone stated in a recent blog-comment bitch fight.

Eclectic Tales

Old Lady makes me think so much that occasionally I have to stop posting comments on her blog in favor of writing my own posts about her ideas. She writes about everyday life subjects in the sort of captivating manner that illustrates how fact is indeed stranger than fiction.

In Her Shell (The Wonderturtle)

I began copying Wonderturtle from the very first post of hers that I read. I'd like to try to be original at least, but she's just too good. I can't help myself sometimes.

Passion of the Dale

I'm beginning to think that Dale is everyone's favorite blogger, although I've heard he has a pay-for-play policy that may tie into that somehow. In any event, Dale obviously causes me to think because I regularly find it necessary to steal from him. This I've done too many times to count, but I believe this may have been the first instance of that.

Here are the rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ and a link to the post that you wrote.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

CP's Pretend Interviews with Bloggers: Lulu Part 2

We recently pretended to sit down with Lulu for another fake interview. We asked her about the early days of her friendship with CP, and how she's managed to put up with his bullshit for the past 23 years.

CP: So Lu, tell my readers about how we met.

Lulu: Why should I? You already described it quite well in your blog post except that I am still not convinced I was wearing sweat pants on that bus. What, do you think I'm some kind of slob or something?

CP: Depends. How many kinds of slobs are there?

Lulu: I'm the funny one here, CP.

CP: Right. So anyway, what made you decide you liked CP?

Lulu: Well, isn't that just the kind of self-centered ego-centric question we've come to expect from you? Here's why: I liked your eyebrows, and that you were knitting. You were also tall and wore a handsome green Woolrich coat. I was a label queen in those days, remember.

CP: How could I forget?

Lulu: Believe me, we all know you never forget anything. So anyway, I finished out that year at St. Olaf, and saw you on campus from time to time. One night you dropped by my room unexpectedly, and I was in my nightgown reading a stack of books. You told me I looked like one of the Monty Python characters with his pot-o-beans.

CP: How nice of me.

Lulu: Tell me about it, asshole. But you were quirky and kind of cute, so I didn't really mind it all that much.

CP: I know, that's what many of my clients tell me.

Lulu: So at the end of the year I took a leave of absence from St. Olaf, because 90% of the people there are stuck up assholes with whom I had little in common save my Scandinavian heritage.

CP: Present company included, surely.

Lulu: You said it, I didn't. I moved back in with my parents in Mt. Prospect, got a job and started saving money for my next college adventure.

CP: That's right, and you and I began a long-distance phone friendship that got quite intense, remember?

Lulu: Yes I do. I especially remember the time you hunted me down on the phone at my friend's house just to tell me you were having a crisis because you discovered some new pants you had bought contained polyester.

CP: Well can you blame me? That was an emergency in my book.

Lulu: You had bought them at Carson's in Chicago, a store that didn't exist in Minnesota at the time. You wanted to mail them to me so that I could return them for you. When I received the package, you had written across it, in large black letters, "WARNING: CONTAINS POLYESTER PANTS. CONTENTS HIGHLY FLAMMABLE." The postman thought I was nuts.

CP: Why would he think you were nuts? You didn't write it.

Lulu: I know, but the fact that I knew someone who would do that made me highly suspect.

CP: Oh well, it was funny right?

Lulu: Oh, hilarious. But not as hilarious as that time you decided to be a TOTAL asshole by actually MAILING me a.....

CP: Um Lu, sorry, our time is up for today. Let's talk about that in our next fake interview. Or not.

Stay tuned for more of CP's Pretend Interviews with Bloggers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Well that's a relief

My French friend finally replied, and rather excitedly, as you can tell by her generous use of the exclamation point:

Super that you can come! My parents will still be there, so it will be totally awesome! Of course you can come with George. I need your exact address to be able to send you our magnificent invitation!!!!!

I'm having this party with a girlfriend from France who is also turning 40. So, the party will be at her place at 8:00 pm. There will be at least 50 people, and you'll be able to speak a lot of French because you'll be the only Americans!!!!

Dress is Hawaiian theme (flowered shirts, Hawaiian shorts, surfboards under your arm, etc.)

Send your address right away so that I can send you the invitation!!!!

Big kisses, (Insert name of Tom's friend here)

So, while I'm a bit concerned about the party's dress theme, it's nice to know that George is welcome. I was feeling really shitty about it for a while. Thanks for all your kind and supportive words.


(and Poor George)

ps: Oh, and now I can start liking the French again. Remind me to blog about how it's important to disown an entire nationality when one of your friends of that nationality pisses you off. This policy comes in handy around St. Patrick's day, believe me.

Favorite spot

Alma is in Red Hook, a very out of the way, hidden neighborhood in Brooklyn. Our favorite place in New York. Alma's unusual location along the rough looking Brooklyn waterfront conjures up images of being taken for a ride by Uncle Vinnie after midnight. More than one out of town guest has said "where the HELL are you taking me?" in a nervous, laughing tone. The restaurant's marketing people like to describe the location as being in the slightly more upscale Cobble Hill district, but the locals can't be fooled. At least not this local.

Each day Alma features a special "Tamale of the Day" which is always recommended. For dinner, although I have ventured into areas such as their delightful Poblano Relleno, I usually stick to my favorite standby, the chicken and cheese enchiladas in a pumpkin seed sauce.

Their brunch is outstanding, and features a wonderful Mexican egg hotdish (for lack of a better term) called Chilaquiles con Huevos. I recall with great fondness enjoying a brunchtime margarita at Alma, having forgotten that I had popped a few prescription painkillers an hour before. Halfway through the drink my entire body went numb and I had trouble walking to the men's room, but I was so relaxed it didn't matter.

If you're in New York for more than a few days, it's worth the trek to this sketchy looking neighborhood for some great Mexican food that even a Californian would not complain (much) about. Plenty of hipsters have already discovered Alma; why shouldn't you?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I'm mad

Every now and again I catch myself in a bout of internalized homophobia, and it really irks me.

Before I go any further, let me clarify that when I talk about discussing gay issues, I'm not talking about sex. I'm talking about normal, everyday life and relationship things. Just so we can avoid the "I don't need to hear about what you do in the bedroom" discussion.

I'll admit that I've gotten as far as I have in life by doing a certain amount of pandering. If I'm in a situation where I don't think someone will react well to the subject of homosexuality, I conveniently choose to stay in the closet. (Let me blog later on the topic of how sexual orientation differs from race in that respect. The choice I have is both a blessing and a curse.)

I usually hate myself for choosing the closet. I almost never make that choice on a long term basis; e.g., I've never decided to remain completely closeted at work. But there are times where the cover of the closet is subtle. Like if I'm with a group of people I don't know, where everyone is talking about what they did over the weekend with their spouses. Sometimes I'll just say "I went to the movies" or "I had a dinner party." On the surface these kinds of conversations aren't important, and I agree that there is certainly no need to reveal one's personal details to everybody one meets.

But again, I'm not talking about saying "Oh, did you know I was gay?" to someone. (In fact, I don't think I've said anything like that for the past 20 years.) I am talking about situations where I choose not to say "my partner and I..." when everyone else in the room is saying "my wife and I...."

I bring this topic up today because something is afoot that is bothering me a lot.

I spent a year in a small town in France when I was 16 and 17. I lived with four different families in the town, for three months each. I grew quite close to all of them, and have remained in contact all these years. In fact, Mindy and I just visited one of them a few weeks ago.

I have not quite figured out the French attitude on sexual orientation; in fact, I remain quite confused by it. Every French person to whom I have said anything about George never makes any comment at all. I had emailed my friend Martine in Paris about ten years ago when George and I first got together, and she never replied at all.

I visited Martine in France a few years ago, when she had me over to her house for a small dinner party. One of the attendees was a man I assumed was probably gay, but I didn't know for sure. I also didn't know whether Martine had even received my email five years earlier. I didn't say anything about George during the party, although aside from that I did have a nice evening.

When I got back to New York, Martine's friend and I began emailing, but I still had no idea about him - or Martine.

Then a few weeks after that, I got together with my friend Martin who knows all these people I'm talking about because he had also lived amongst them. Martin is closer to Martine than I am, so I told him about my question. Martin said "oh, well Martine TOLD me a few years ago 'I received an email from Tom - I guess he's gay now!'" Martin also confirmed that Martine's other friend is also gay.

Ok. So right there for me that blew away the notion that the French don't say anything about this stuff because they simply find it uninteresting or unimportant. Martine obviously thought it interesting and important enough to discuss it with Martin. But she couldn't take two minutes to email me back saying "I'm happy you're in love; tell me about this guy!" She chose to ignore me.

So, because I was curious about all this, I emailed Martine's friend to ask him about it, generally. He replied, rather curtly, "well of course Martine knows you and I are both gay. We just don't feel the need to discuss such private matters with each other in France." I asked some follow up questions, and he never replied.

That pissed me off. "Private matters?" French people talk about their spouses, marriages, boyfriends, girlfriends and the like every bit as much as we do. Why is the fact that I have George a "private matter" that should not be discussed? Why is a French person's marriage announcement not a "private matter?"

The fact is, what he says is a load of crap. The French just can't deal with this - at least that is my honest opinion for the moment.

Ok, so flash forward to today.

I have a good friend from one of my French families who now lives in Washington DC with her husband and children. George and I had dinner with her and her husband in New York last year when they were visiting, and I thought we had a lovely time.

This woman emailed me on Friday inviting me to her 40th birthday party in May, when her parents will be in town from France. I replied that of course I'd like to come, and that I would make lodging arrangements at another friend's house.

This is the part where my internalized homophobia kicks in, and where I am mad at myself: I then wrote something to the effect of "I would like to bring George - would that bother you? He really enjoyed meeting you and your husband and liked you both a lot. I've never spoken to your parents about George, but I think they understand, based on the fact that they no longer ask me why I'm not married. So let me know if this is OK or if you think this will be a problem."

Why on earth did I feel the need to write all that? It's pathetic of me. What would have been wrong with simply saying "mind if I bring George?"

I was pandering, plain and simple. What I communicated in that email is "I realize my life may not be acceptable to you and the people in your family. Please let me know if you and yours think I'm good enough to attend your party with my life partner, despite the fact that if you were invited to an evening party it would be assumed automatically that your husband is also invited."

Part of me is still asking the world to accept me, and it pisses me off.

Sure, I've gotten far by not being one of those Larry Kramer "angriest fags in America" types. I know that. I know how to play the game. Furthermore, I enjoy being part of civilized society, and in polite company we do not go about bandying what we think is wrong with the world. We go about our own business while acting as pleasantly and courteously as possible toward others.

Yet part of the price I pay for playing along too much with my "don't rock the boat" attitude is that I have trained myself to do and say the kinds of things I just described.

I think I've already answered my own question in writing this. All I needed to do was ask if George could come. Period. Yet, it's my motivation behind writing what I did that troubles me.

Oh, and my friend who is having the party has not replied.

Friday, April 20, 2007

CP's Top 40 Stalkees: Part 3

Welcome back to CP's Top 40 Blogs Recap! (Which was "CP's Top 38" last time we spoke.)

Last week, in blogs 11 through 20, we visited new-media mogul Grant Miller; enjoyed the morass of slimy office politics that is Grizzbabe's Den; brushed elbows with the eloquently prolific Johnny Yen; crawled inside the wondrous shell of Blogspot's favorite Wonderturtle; stopped in on Marni over at It's a Pug's Life; waved a big heartland hello to Jacob's Mom; sampled the tasty world of Jintrinsique and got a sitter for the kids so that we could visit Jin's Unplugged site; stopped in for cocktails and Kristian-baiting with the lovely Katie Schwartz; and visited Bluez's not-so-lame world of Lame Stuff.

Today we continue down CP's new all-alphabetical-all-the-time link list, visiting numbers 21 through 30 of the greatest 40 blogs ever known to the human race.

Bliss & Bile: A newcomer to CPW since we started the Top 40 Recap, Chelene of NYC comes to us through Dale's strong recommendation. So far, she has not disappointed. We recently discussed the possibility of starting a new blog to chronicle the horrors of NYC public transportation, but decided there is not enough space on the Internet to contain all of our rage. Bliss & Bile also features one of CPW's two favorite back-of-the-head blog profile photos.

Land-o-Lulu: I met Lulu on a bus in 1984; she was wearing sweat pants and purple Chuck Taylors, and I was knitting. That description pretty much sums up the timbre of our friendship. It's always a fun ride over in the crazy Land-o-Lulu; stop on by if you haven't already.

The Madman is a Waking Dreamer: Sometimes poetic and often prosaic, Tumuli consistently delivers interesting takes on the issues of the day.

Melinda June: I also met Mindy in 1984 when I was literally shoved into her dorm room and thrown into a game of Trivial Pursuit with her. I don't recall who won, but there was definitely heavy drinking involved. We haven't looked back since.

Modern Day Hobo: Although I haven't seen him often over the years, Martin is my oldest real-life friend on this list; we also met in 1984, the summer before I started college. Martin is a world traveler, and has lived in more countries than an international jewel thief. He is currently studying engineering, working simultaneously on projects in the third world. Although Modern Day Hobo is still in its infancy, CPW is expecting great things from it.

Molecular Turtle: The Turtle-Boy, as I like to call him, authored one of CPW's all-time favorite blog posts: The Great Cadbury Creme Cake Experiment. Ever since the day we howled our collective laughter over that piece, the Molecular Turtle has been a regular fixture on the pages of CPW.

Musings of a Hapabukbuk: A real-life friend of our beloved Wonderturtle, Hapabukbuk is a fellow New York blogger who recounts her tales in the same witty style as some of her friends. Her most recent post had me giggling like a school girl, and may go down in history as one of my favorite posts, along with those of my two Turtle friends.

My Head is a Box Filled with Nothing: Gizmorox keeps us entertained with tales of her mother, romances, work and whatever else is occupying her mind. Usually notifies us of her song choice of the day as well. Gizmorox recently dumped CPW as a link, probably due to our lack of commenting during a phase when we didn't have time to make the rounds every day. No matter, Gizmorox is still a welcome part of the CPW family of bloggers. Sniff sniff.

Vocabulum: First introduced to us (once again) through Dale, Non Vocabulum has become a blogger favorite over at American Idolatry. Her give-til-it-hurts posting has more than once had me rolling on the floor, gasping for air through my laughter. She has recently gone private, ostensibly to avoid possible legal sanctions over some of her more colorful language. On a more serious note, she recently posted this gem of a sentence while pondering our media's wide coverage of disasters such as the horrible Virginia Tech shootings: Oh, Americans love to shine the spotlight on tragedy, as long as it has nothing to do with the ones they are causing. I hear you loud & clear, NV.

Nurse Ratchet: My cousin Beth recently took up blogging as a hobby and a way to vent some of the frustrations of her busy life. Beware, she pulls no punches when someone pisses her off. We love & respect that here.

Stay tuned for the final installment of CP's Top 40 Stalkees (um, I mean blogs.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Annoying Things My Sales Reps Do and Say to Me: Jane

Jane: Tom, are you available on the 18th to go on some appointments?

Tom: That depends. I have to sell half a million this quarter, so I can only afford to go on appointments that will have a significant payout - twelve thousand at the bare minimum. Have you spoken with these people before? Do you know what exactly they are interested in?

Jane: Don't worry, I can get the appointments. If you're not available on the 18th, what other days that week are you available?

Jane, if you don't start answering my direct questions when I ask them, I swear to God I will never speak to you again. And then I will kill you with my bare hands.



Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Musical Meme Deux: Seven Songs

Tim Sommer & Alexandra Scott of Hi-Fi Sky

The ever musical Beth has tagged me this time. I thought this one would be hard, but it barely took any thought - just a quick look at the Ipod and recent memories of sitting at the piano.

The exercise here is simply to discuss seven songs you are currently enjoying in your life.

* Goodbye Sarah Shu (John Vanderslice)
John is currently my boyfriend. I like his music. I like it that he's (still) small enough to play the intimate clubs. And I LOVE it that he gets upset with people who talk while he's performing. One time he stopped playing in the middle of a song and asked some people who were having a loud conversation near the stage to take it outside. I'm going to see him this week in Brooklyn.

* Dance of the Blessed Spirits from "Orfeo & Euridice" (Abbey Simon, piano)
This is a piano transcription by Abram Chasins of a beautiful melody from the Gluck opera. Mr. Simons performed this piece at a concert I attended a few years ago, and he moved the entire audience to tears. Being the inspired musician I am, the next day I tried to order a copy of the music, but sadly discovered it was out of print. So I began calling out-of-print music stores, and was repeatedly told "sorry, we don't have it."

Finally, a nice gentleman at a store in New York suggested I call Mr. Chasins' widow, who still lives in the city. He also strongly encouraged me NOT to tell Mrs. Chasins where I got her number. And I can see why; she sounded like a crabby old lady when I got her on the phone. "What, you're probably calling about that damn Gluck piece aren't you? Well I don't know if I have any more copies. I'll do what I can. Give me your address." (click.) But a few days later I did indeed receive a copy from her in the mail, free of charge. I haven't completely learned it yet, but it's a work in progress.

* Cemetery Gates (The Beautiful Mistake)
This is from a compilation cd of various artists' interpretations of songs by The Smiths. Although I've always liked this song, I particularly enjoy this version because it's the first time I understood the words "while Wilde is on mine."

* I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard (Nightmare of You)
This is a Long Island band I discovered fairly recently. Catchy little ditties. I always think of our blogger friends Chris and Megan when I hear this particular song, because it's a guy singing to his girlfriend, Megan, about wanting to be buried in her backyard when he dies so that he can make the flowers grow for her. I thought about sharing it with them back when they got together, but it seemed kind of morbid. Cheers.

* Fuck and Run (CP on the piano, a la Liz Phair)
This will be next in my home concert series, as soon as we get a new digicam. Stay tuned.

* Belle Louisiane (Hi-Fi Sky)
This is a space-age rendition of a traditional French Cajun song. I first heard it on NPR when I was driving home in a bad mood due to hating the guts of various sales reps. It calmed my angry spirit. I also enjoyed listening to the Cajun French, which for some reason I had thought would be difficult to understand. Belle Louisiane, je chante mon coeur pour toi. Ouvre tes bras et serre ton cher enfant...

* Sad Songs & Waltzes (Cake)
A great little ditty from a great little band.

I tag: My sister. And in honor of the creepy song I am now dedicating to them, I also tag Megan and Chris.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Annoying Things My Sales Reps Do and Say to Me: Dean part 2

Dean: Tom, you don't need to include the Account Manager in emails where we are discussing what to sell to the account. You shouldn't have invited Lana to that meeting where we are going to try to sell Product X.

Tom: But the idea to sell Product X to that customer was Lana's. She is the one who brought it up to the customer and suggested a live demo. She is the one who emailed both of us about the idea and asked if I wanted to set up the appointment. Of course she should have been included.

Dean: Well it's ok that you did it this time, but in the future, if you have any questions about that, I would appreciate if you would ask me before including her.

Ed. note: Keep in mind that a) Dean is not my boss; b) Lana, as the Account Manager, has sales responsibilities as well. So what Dean is saying here is that next time an Account Manager contacts me about a lead he or she generated, I am to cut him or her out immediately and deal only with Dean.

Dean, you are a supreme asshole. I hope you are captured by the Taliban and burned at the stake as an infidel.

The nerve. I mean, really.

Annoying Things My Sales Reps Do and Say to Me: Dean

Annoying Things My Sales Reps Do and Say to Me is a new CPW series wherein I will relate to my Gentle Readers some of the annoying things my sales reps do and say to me.

Our first installment features my esteemed colleague, Dean. Dean manages to aggravate me every single time I interact with him. Examples:

  • Tom, the next time a client asks you if they can buy just one part of the package rather than the whole package, just tell them "it's a better deal if you buy the whole package" rather than what you said (which was "yes, but it's a better deal if you buy the whole package.")

  • Tom, why don't you want to go to this account with me? I can see you have free time, because you just answered the phone now when I called.

  • Let's make it happen, Tom.

  • Tom, I realize you have to sell half a million this quarter and this account is only going to net you one thousand, but these small deals can be important too. Every little bit helps. This will be really good for you.

  • Tom, most everybody else is sharing their electronic calendar, so it would be a good idea for you to, too. (ed. note: Why is that, Dean? So you can critique my calendar and tell me whether or not I have enough free time to work with you?)

  • Tom, don't take this the wrong way, but you're kind of touchy.

Dean, I hate your fucking guts. You rarely reach me on the phone because I am now screening your calls. Please leave me alone.



Monday, April 16, 2007

Should I change my license plates?

Gentle Readers,

George and I recently bought a new car. Today our new plates arrived in the mail. Here is what they read:

ABC 8666

(I changed the letters for privacy reasons, but those are the numbers.)

Usually I make fun of George for all his Chinese superstitions, but you know what? I do NOT want a car that has 666 on the license plate. It just creeps me out.

What would you do?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Music Meme

Dale tagged me. I normally don't play along on these music tags, but for Dale, anything.

What was the first recorded music you bought?

A 45 of "Disco Duck" by Rick Dees, 1976.

What was the last music you bought?
I downloaded three albums from iTunes the night before I went to see Mindy:
  • Elliott Yamin: (self-titled debut) - worth a listen.
  • Gladys Knight: Before Me - her new jazz album
  • Belinda Carlisle: Voilà - new album of French standards, sung entirely in French. How could one possibly resist this?

What was the first "professional" music show you ever went to?

Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Don't remember what they performed.

What was the last?
Beat Circus at a small club in NYC. A friend of ours plays in the band.

What's your "desert island" album?
Impossible to answer; how could you not get sick of only one album? But if I had to grab something on the way out of a burning building, it would probably be

Nat King Cole Trio: After Midnight

Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out

Red Hot & Blue: Tribute to Cole Porter

What's your favorite album/song title? (the *title* , not the actual album or song).
Like Dale, didn't give this much thought. I'd probably say "Not Fade Away" by Buddy Holly, because it's just a strange song title. Simple and strange. Just like me.

What's your favourite album art (include an image of it if you can)?
See Brubeck's "Time Out" above. Also, who could ever forget this?

Ideal choice for a karaoke song?
Me and Mrs. Jones, especially when my Mom sings it.

Song you don't like that WILL NOT LEAVE YOUR HEAD if you hear it.
Every Breath You Take. Blech.

Which is cooler? -- Vinyl? CD? Cassette? 8-track?
Which is cooler? What is this, junior high? If I had to choose I would say 8-track. Mindy's parents had one and we listened to a Barry Manilow 8-track during dinner the first time I visited her family. When Mindy started belting out "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?" along with Barry, at the top of her lungs, her mom made us turn it off. Good times.

I tag Mindy June and Katie Schwartz.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pathetic Geek Story: Swing Choir

My Dork-Blogger story

I am submitting this post to Dork-Bloggers. Check out the site - it's fab.

I submitted this to Maria Schneider (of Pathetic Geek Stories) a number of years ago, but she never chose it for publication. Merely further evidence of my loserdom.


Everyone hated me in junior high because they thought I was gay, among other things. Nonetheless, true to my status as a gay boy, I participated in the school's swing choir, a silly song & dance group.

None of the girls in the group wanted to be my dance partner. The first girl I was assigned to was Cindy, who threw a fit and threatened to quit the group if the director didn't let her change partners. The director gave in and reassigned me to Sheryl.

Sheryl hated me even more than Cindy, but her pleas to be reassigned were ignored, much to her dismay.

One day we were performing in front of a grade school audience, and there was an obviously retarded kid sitting in the front row. Once I caught sight of his face I cracked up involuntarily, and could not stop giggling throughout the performance. After the show I was crucified by my fellow choir members, and during the bus ride back to school the director berated me in front of the rest of the group.

Then in our last performance of the school year, we were doing one of our song & dance numbers when all of a sudden Sheryl switched places on me, putting herself in the "boy" position and me in the "girl" dance position. I looked at her, puzzled, and she said, very loudly, "that's where you belong!"

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I don't like my job as a Strategic Sales Executive

Gentle Readers,

I've decided it's time I come clean with you about my new job as a Strategic Sales Executive. I hate it. A lot. As our dear friend Ten-S would say, I hate being a Strategic Sales Executive with a passion that burns like ten thousand suns.

I used to have a great job as an Account Manager. I had a list of customers, and I basically took care of them. Saw to their needs. Visited them when they needed handholding. Occasionally let my sales counterparts at them, but managed to reign the assholes in before they did too much damage to my clients with their annoying "let me take you for everything I possibly can and then disappear until your contract is up for renewal at which point I will return with a vengeance to screw you all over again" attitudes.

I was a good Account Manager. My clients trusted and looked up to me. They mainly looked up to me because I am over six feet tall, but still. I am also an attorney who graduated from a top law school and worked at a top New York law firm. I somehow manage to convince people I know what the fuck I'm talking about, which in my field can be kind of important.

Which is why the sleazy sales reps ended up getting their dirty little claws into me to recruit me to the dark side. I cannot believe I let this happen.

Back when I had the perfect job, I had worked a few times with one particular sales rep who was out to take some of my clients for a joyride. She asked one time if I would come along with her to a meeting so that I could present some new products we were peddling. I agreed.

My presentation kicked major butt, and since it was the first time she'd seen me present, this particular sales rep, let's call her Jane, started kissing my ass and begging me to come along on more calls with her. She also wrote a beautifully worded email and sent it to about ten thousand people in my company, extolling my virtues and saying how valuable I am to the company. I like that sort of thing - I'm a sucker for hollow compliments and even more so for cheap sentiment.

So it should have been no surprise, then, that when the company created this new position of "Strategic Sales Executive" the managers should have come knocking on my door. I was heavily recruited for this position, and was told that I would easily double my income. Double!

But it's pure sales. I've never really liked sales all that much. I would have turned them down immediately, except for those two words: easily and double.

I figured I could take the job for one year just to stash away some extra cash. And then return to what I was doing before.

Gentle Readers, when I am going to get cockamamie ideas like that out of my head once and for all? When am I going to start listening to my gut and do what I KNOW is right for me at the time, instead of pretending that I won't fucking hate what I do for a living?

When am I going to grow a pair and stop listening to every boozy dame who comes along telling me how wonderful I am just so that she can get me to do her bidding?

Working with these sales reps is like walking barefoot through a dried up lake of broken glass. It's like being tied up, dipped in honey and thrown into a nest of red ants. It's like being forced to listen to Kenny G for all eternity.

I fucking hate these sales reps. They're a bunch of God damned ravenous bottom-dwellers who would sell their own grandmothers up the river to make themselves an extra thousand dollars. I fucking hate them. Liars and cheats. Every last one of them. I feel dirty just being in the same room with them.

Remind me never EVER to be required to sell anything for the rest of my natural life.

For the record, the woman who sent the email that started this whole disaster has a shit-eating grin like the Cheshire fucking cat. It's this black-rooted toothy grin that just screams "I am going to take you for every fucking penny you're worth, you lame piece of shit, and then convince you that you enjoyed yourself!" Even if she was nice to me at the outset, why on EARTH would I ever think I would want to work with a woman who looks like that? Call me shallow, but I know the glare of an empty soul when it shines through an ugly face. I just know it.

I am such a fucking idiot. And now I have to put up with this for 8 1/2 more months. My sincere hope is that I don't end up ruining a ten-plus year career with this company by virtue of having been coaxed into this stupid fucking job.

Thank you, Gentle Readers, for indulging in my rant.


CP's top 38 - part 2

Welcome back, Gentle Readers, to the continuation of CP's Tribute to his Top 38 Stalkees. Our last installment featured the brilliant commentary of American Idolatry, the beautiful Bella Rossa, Chicagoland greats The Bubses, Megan from By & By, Pink Fluffy Slippers' wondrous world of Cello Et Cetera, the lovable Creepy from the Church of Lost Souls, the musically inclined Beth from A Cup of Coffey, CPW newcomer Dead Spot on the Web, Old Lady's excellent and Eclectic Tales, and the UK's favorite blog-traffic whore, the Freelance Cynic.

Today we continue down CP's alphabetical list. Remember to check back regularly, as your turn will soon be here.


Grant Miller Media
: The latest true competition to the API, Grant Miller Media features all the latest - and compelling - news about the world, at least the parts of it that relate directly to Grant Miller. Currently on a successful series run focusing on those who have lied to him in the past. Beware: rumor has it that Grant Miller knows how to hold a grudge if crossed.

GrizzBabe's Den: Grizzbabe focuses primarily on the politics in her small office, where a sense of pending doom generally prevails. She occasionally veers off to other topics, leaving me hungry to find out what is currently going on in the office. I'm still waiting to see what that brown stuff was that the New Girl left on the toilet.

Here Comes Johnny Yen Again: An apt title for his blog, at least in the sense that Lulu knows him, since he was someone she knew in a former life who reappeared by chance in our blog circle. A good writer, always providing an interesting story or point of view. I'm still reeling from the one about the guy who lost his eye in a bar fight.

In Her Shell (The Wonderturtle): One of these days I'm going to have to publish an anthology of my top 100 list of favorite blog posts, and when I do, Wonderturtle's writing will be featured more than once. She came as a real-life recommendation from Lulu. When I clicked over from Land-o-Lulu and read her open letter announcing her official retirement as a bridesmaid, I knew I was destined to be hers forever.

It's a Pug's Life: Marni, author of this blog, is a cousin of Beth over at A Cup of Coffey. She blogs about the everyday and not-so-everyday things that she finds interesting or pertinent, such as her kids, her pug dogs, and of course, American Idol. (Marni is also one of our esteemed panelists over at American Idolatry.) Another good ole' 40-something American gal, just like we like 'em.

Jacob's Mom: My sister Marg, mother of our dearly deceased (murdered) Jacob, writes about various topics ranging from outrage at the war in Iraq that killed her son to the latest Maxine cartoons. Also a regular panelist on American Idolatry. She also shares plenty of stories about our rather interesting family. Not always for the feint of heart.

Jintrinsique: Jin stumbled across CPW over a year ago, and when I clicked over to see who she was, her gratuitous pastry shots had me hooked within seconds. Jin is a pastry chef who lives in rural Wisconsin with her Brit ex-pat husband, her dog Brioche and her parents. She's a real hoot to read, especially when she gets to ripping on some of her more obnoxious customers. I've sampled her pastries in person twice, and I highly recommend ordering a sweet box of your own - there is a link to her shoppe's site on her blog.

Jintrinsique Unplugged: Jin's second site with less pastry and more swearing. A lot more.

Katie Schwartz: I found Katie through Dale - I first clicked on her because she has the same name of this nice Catholic girl who used to live down the street from me. But within one paragraph, I was pretty sure she was not the same Katie I knew from childhood; while this Katie may be nice, she is far from Catholic. I stopped by Katie periodically until one day I stumbled upon her series of open letters to Lisa Whelchel from The Facts of Life. Katie became mine forever that day, and now I cannot look away.

Lame Stuff: Bluez, author of this blog, is plenty snarky - which is just how we like our bloggers. She has become a pal of my sister, and also participates in our Idolatry ranting. Although she refers to her blog as Lame, we at CPW find it to be anything but.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Parent from hell: My Mom!

One time Lulu, who is a high school teacher, shared a horrific story about a parent-from-hell. It's stories like this that kept me from being a teacher; I figured I would just storm off the job one day and that would be the end of my career- so why decide to start?

The parent-stories that both Lulu and Megan tell have prompted me to think about my own parents' interactions with my teachers. To be perfectly frank, I feel my teachers got the short end of the stick on occasion.

For example, one time in seventh grade I procrastinated writing a report until it became an emergency to get it done late Sunday night- and I needed my dad's help because I didn't understand some of the material I was reading. He was quite annoyed that I had waited so long to get started, so to save face I lied and said the teacher had just assigned it on Friday and it wasn't fair, blah blah blah. (We had actually beein given over three weeks to work on it.)

At the end of the quarter when my dad had to sign my report card, he wrote a terse note to the teacher to the effect of "it is unfair not to give your students adequate time to do their assignments" - and specifically referenced the report I had almost tanked on. I cringed when I handed back the report card, hoping my teacher would not read it. He never mentioned it to me, so I hope that is the case.

Then in eighth grade I had this perfectly lovely English/History/Social Studies teacher, Mrs. S. She was just about the sweetest woman ever. Anyway, my problem with procrastination was not new at that point, and I would regularly put off working on major assignments until I was down to the wire - a system that has served me well my entire life. (Some of us need a fire under our asses to perform.)

We had been "working" all semester on a research paper, and were required to hand in various interim assignments to chart our progress (e.g. have 100 note cards filled out by one date, have an outline by another date, etc.) I regularly failed to hand in the preliminary assignments because they weren't graded separately from the paper, and therefore I didn't care. I knew I would get the paper done somehow.

About four weeks into the paper schedule, Mrs. S. started freaking out because I wasn't doing the work. She reprimanded me several times a week, and I kept promising to get more done.

Then one day Mrs. S. came up to me in the classroom, looking very upset.

"Tom, I need to talk to you. It's very important."

Oh my god, I must be in big trouble this time, I thought.

"I called your mother yesterday to let her know how concerned I am about your lack of progress on this research paper. And you know what she said? She said that you think I hate you. How could you possibly think that about me? You know that's not true!" I think she even had tears in her eyes.

So I'm thinking "what on earth did my mom say to her, and why?" I didn't remember ever saying anything negative to my parents about Mrs. S. She was one of my favorite teachers ever. So I outright denied it to Mrs. S. and told her I had absolutely no idea why she would think that, except that maybe I had grumbled at the dinner table about having to do the research paper or something. I felt really bad that Mrs. S. was so upset, so I tried to convince her not to worry. I'm not sure it worked.

That evening I confronted my mother and asked her what she had said to Mrs. S. She said "well from what you say about her, it sounds like you think she doesn't like you."


27 years later, I still feel bad about how sad my mom made Mrs. S. feel.

All this talk from Lulu and Megan about parents from hell got me thinking about this. My parents had both been teachers, and both knew how it felt to have parents side with their children against them. Yet my parents were both completely willing to do the same, even when their son (me) was nothing but a lying complainer without a shred of evidence to support his accusations against his teachers. And especially in the case of Mrs. S. where I hadn't even provided them any information as to why they should attack her.

I'm telling you, you could not pay me enough to be a teacher. Ok, well maybe you could pay me enough, but I don't think any school would pay me would it take to put up with that shit.

And besides, being a Stragetic Sales Executive is heaven!*

*At CPW, heaven and hell are the same.

Monday, April 02, 2007

CPW has gone alphabetical

Gentle Readers,
I have finally sorted out my link list and added my newest stalkees. I also set aside my previous ordering criteria wherein your place on the list reflected a mixture of the following:

  • whether or not I know you in real life;
  • whether I know you through someone I know in real life;
  • if know you, how long I've know you;
  • if I know you only in blog life, how long I've been stalking you;
  • and how lazy I was on the day I decided to stalk you.

As of today, we'll have no more of this sliding scale business as our linking standard at CPW, Gentle Readers. No no, that is just too much to manage, as big a fan as I am of arbitrary discipline. From now on, CPW will present itself as an egalitarian webspace; today we are going alphabetical in our linking system.

I realize this is a controversial move, especially to those stalkees who previously topped the list by virtue of the important positions they occupy in the joke I refer to as "my life." So I'm throwing y'all a bone. To honor each and every one of you, my beloved stalkees, I am issuing the following salutes to you, ten bloggers at a time.

Today we start with stalkee numbers 1-10. Keep checking back with regularity to read the rest of my future-award-winning tributes.


American Idolatry: Delightfully biting commentary on no one's favorite pastime, American Idol. Founded by the Lovely & Talented Melinda June and Yours Truly, and this season joined by legions of pre-qualified blogger friends. Not for the feint of heart.

Bella Rossa: Days in the life of an inspired Hoosier transplant in Chicago. This gal has more creative side projects going than God himself, and she often reminds me it might be a good idea to get off the couch.

The Bubses: Liberal suburban Chicago cop and his wife, Miz Bubs, originally stumbled upon by Mindy. Their Sprawling Ramshackle Compound provides almost daily tales and tidbits of freaks and other oddities from the news and their own lives. The Bubses have also become real life friends of some of our other Chicagoland blogging friends.

By & By: Megan is a liberal schoolteacher living in Virginia. I first started reading her because I thought she was a real life friend of Lulu, but even after I found out they were strangers to one another, I stuck around because her writing is humorous and compelling. And now she and Lulu are indeed real life friends.

Cello Et Cetera: Although her writing is often serious, Pink Fluffy Slippers has a kind of dry wit that just kills me on a regular basis. I picture her as one of those people who don't even intend to be funny but just are naturally. And the childhood photo she posted as part of our Little Miss Sunshine Online Pageant cracked me up so much that I kept checking back daily for a while just to have another giggle. I was afraid she'd think I was a truly crazy stalker instead of just a cyberstalker, but she kept my link up so it must be OK.

Church of Lost Souls: I first clicked over from Dale because the name inspired me. I stuck around because he is one of the most unusual bloggers I read. His posts amble from topic to topic, from his Jehovah's Witness co-worker to his family to his sex life to his psychotherapy to his straight-guy indignation at the ridiculousness of homophobia. He's worth a read if you haven't been there, and I bet he's not as anti-social as he presents himself to be.

A Cup of Coffey: Beth is a popular blogger with many online friends. The primary focus of her blog tends to be her obsession with REM, although she branches to other bands and many other topics as well. Her perfection with all things grammatical makes me ashamed at my inevitably frequent errors. I like to think I'm generally OK with most of the rules, but whenever I'm in doubt I am just too damn lazy to get up and check a reference book. If I even own one, that is.

Dead Spot on the Web: A relative newcomer to CPW, Dead Spot is a member of the Johnny Yen Mafia. His posts are eclectic, often irreverent and always entertaining. Mindy will be glad to know he enjoys poking fun at the Brits and Republicans.

Eclectic Tales: Old Lady enjoys a loyal following of readers who enjoy her interesting stories from her past. Making her home in Savannah, Georgia, Old Lady possesses a deep repository of true stories about ghosts that she doles out in guarded moderation. Always a good time to be had at Old Lady's place.

Freelance Cynic: Another newcomer to CPW. A Brit we can poke fun of and who, from all appearances, can take it like a man. He's also a self-professed whore for blog traffic, so I'm sure he'll appreciate your visit. Time will tell if he's any other kind of whore as well, but we at CPW have our suspicions.


Remember to check back soon for my next ten!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

CP goes British

Gentle Readers,

I'm on vacation! This post finds me in the United Kingdom with the lovely and talented Melinda June. Check out her blog where I am guest posting on occasion for the next ten days or so.

I have a lot to tell you of my recent life in New York, which I will get to once a) my already low supply of energy has been replenished; and b) I figure out how to use this God-damned Euro keyboard with which Melinda has been cursed. Who taught these damn Limeys to put the @ key next to the semi-colon???? And what the fuck is up with these SHIFT keys that are about half a centimeter long? I'm about to go all ee cummings here because capitalizing is taking most of my spare time. I'm already sick of it.

Tomorrow I'm hitching a ride to the train and going into Central London to buy myself a new wardrobe. I have not yet approved these expenditures, so please mums the word to Poor George until I've had a chance to discuss this with him at length.


PS: my life as a Strategic Sales Executive, which has prevented me from delivering more timely posts to my Gentle Readers, is going to be short-lived. On this matter you may take my word.