The title is more or less what inspires my blogging these days: underemployment. Specifically, when my side gig (which typically sends me work via e-mail on a daily basis) does NOT send me work for a given day, I end up with time on my hands and I have to spend some of that time writing. If not, I'll melt into a noxious stew consisting of self-loathing broth mixed with assorted chunks of neuroses. When you're self-employed, this is called "motivation." Two last points before we get our hands dirty: I really wanted there to be some neat stevedore lingo for ships, but it turns out "ship" and "boat" are pretty short words. Also, "stevedore" is a really great word and your friends will be impressed if you ever figure out a way to use it at a bar.
On the ephemeral nature of shit
Shit is fascinating in its duality; it's waste, but it's necessary. It will exist as long as life does, and a universe without shit would be a dead one. Delicious food eventually becomes shit. Good TV shows couldn't exist without shit TV shows anchoring the line-up. "Community" couldn't exist if NBC weren't also checking their demos with shows like "Access Hollywood." I'm just kidding--NBC's prime time lineup makes no sense, and their dismal ratings demonstrate it better than I ever could. Anyway, you take my point about how shit is inevitable. I go "Ugh" in my head every time my puppy adopts her poop-squat, but my feelings don't change what's going to come out of there.
Lately I've had the feeling that the world is a little overwhelmed with shit. Like somehow the great cosmic balance between value and shit had shifted. As though I'd spent 20 minutes on the toilet after eating a sushi roll. You know what it is, honestly? Justin Bieber. And not him specifically--it's not as though there's anything unique about this particular child pop star. It's the idea that entire sectors of our culture are dominated by the most vacant silliness imaginable. We live in a time where talented people labor in obscurity and the children of celebrities get paid mouthpieces. I didn't mind when Will Smith's son starred in the Karate Kid remake, because children in movies have to played by children. I minded when Will Smith's daughter released a pop single about her bizarre haircut (pictured above--she looks like the Gestapo agent from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" just after his conversion to Scientology). I minded when Bristol Palin started getting paid $15,000 per appearance for talking about safe sex. Has she even had safe sex? Ever? Under the official line, didn't she move directly from unprotected baby-making sex to abstinence once she got pregnant and realized her mistake? Could she put a condom on a banana? Has anyone ever asked her? Meanwhile, want to guess the complete renumeration I will receive for the year-long process of researching and writing a marine biology book? $15,000. One moment:
Attention, teen pregnancy organizations. My name is Tony Palumbi. I have, in my life, never had sex without contraception. I have also, pursuant to your interests, maintained a perfect lifetime record of NOT knocking girls up. I do not believe these things are coincidental. I would be happy to speak at any of your events for less money than Bristol Palin, that talentless slutwagon. By the way, Bristol, you're not a "single mom." "Single" is your dating status on Facebook. You're a mom whose family has millions of dollars to care for your infant. Single moms have real problems. You don't.
And we're back! I had an epiphany; an insight to the universe's inner workings. While walking Bella (my puppy), I stopped to let her poop in her customary kudzu patch. She has pooped in this location an average of 1.2 times per day for the last three months. It's not that big. Honestly, the entire area should be carpeted with "processed" dog food. She should be stepping in it every time, but it never happens and she never takes any care to keep it from happening. Why is this? It's because shit, among its many traits, just doesn't last. It's the lowest, most broken-down form of its component substances--the last phase before they're absorbed back into the environment. Bella isn't constantly stepping in poop because shit, unlike value, is ephemeral. It dissolves and is re-absorbed into the system. So the volume of shit waxes and wanes, but it decomposes at a rate proportional to its creation.
This made sense. After all, while American culture has been turning out some real tripe, we've also managed to shorten our attention spans to the point where we honestly believe Lady Gaga's music is not identical to Ace of Base. Where we re-make movies that came out only 20 years ago! And while the New York Times columnists of the world tut-tut about these distractions, they're actually a defense mechanism saving Western civilization! The Internet and its eyeblink fads are the second prong of Al Gore's plan to save the world. He'll save the planet with his climate change initiatives and save humanity with the Internet. That man is amazing. And that's probably enough about Al Gore's prongs.
And while we're on the topic of shit...
I'd like to take a moment and talk about a particular flavor of shit: the San Francisco 49ers and their blighted season. For all their miserable failures, the Niners have actually met one of the goals for their 2010 season: figuring out Alex Smith. We now know for certain that Alex Smith will never be a good NFL QB. The world's been waiting on this verdict for years and finally we've got it! Why isn't anyone excited? I am, and I'm equally excited to see a 7-9 team win the NFC West while Frank Gore sobs into his "hope your hip feels better" ice cream. Poor Frank Gore. And poor Tony's Fantasy Team (title: JA-MAR-CUS), which was 8-0 before injuries exploded the roster.
My Patriots are having a surprisingly good season, but for the Niners fans there really is no hope. Even once this year is mercifully over...what's next? You have a question mark at coach (what's Mike Singletary's function aside from giving speeches?), a shoddy and disturbingly old secondary, and absolutely NOBODY at QB. And looming over it all is Jed York, the 30-year-old doofus who was born in a silver-spoon factory and was given full control of the team after his parents bought out Corrupt Uncle Eddie. Typically, when your team has identifiable holes, you rely on the GM to fix it. But Jed York is the GM, and he lacks two important traits: a) the ability to identify problems; b) the ability to fix problems (if he even knew they existed). So, in the words of the punk band Therefore I Am, "still there is no hope in moving on." The owner's not going to fire himself. Which leaves Niners fans...uhh...getting into baseball? I cannot wait for the offseason, when Jed York cites "the emergence of Troy Smith" as the reason why he didn't draft a quarterback.
Bella got her tail clipped over Thanksgiving. I didn't get it clipped; my parents' dog Carly did the honors by chomping the end of it. In Carly's defense, Bella was hitting her in the face over and over with that tail. She wags it so hard that her entire back half swings with it; this means that she can't walk straight if she's excited about something. But what it really means is this: she's missing a little chunk of flesh at the very tip of her tail, and if it bleeds...hooooly shit.
See, the tip of Bella's tail is all scabbed over. But she wags it SO HARD (if you've met Bella, you have known the stinging lash of her tail) that she inevitably smashes it into walls, corners, door frames, stair railings...basically any hard surface you can imagine. And when that happens, the scab gets broken open and Bella's wound starts bleeding. If it were anywhere else on her body, that would be fine. But it's on the hardest-wagging tail in the Western Hemisphere--when she really gets going, the tip is moving so fast that it's covered by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. You can't say where the tail is located at any given moment in time--you just have to predict based on statistical probability.
So what happens when an oozing, bleeding wound is placed at the end of a puppy's tail and accelerated to relativistic speeds? Decoration happens--all over the furniture, all over the walls, all over EVERYTHING. If Bella is not restrained and put in her crate within seconds after re-opening her wound, she will Jackson Pollack the pristine white walls of The Humboldt with dog blood. It's a nightmare. And it's not like she's really gushing blood; like any broken scab, it just oozes slowly. But even the tiniest 0.05 nanoliter droplet of dog blood, when accelerated to 30% of light speed, leaves a hell of a mark. And because it's getting re-opened twice a day, the wound heals very slowly. Because it's at the end of a long, furry tail, I can't even affix a bandage to it. Any tail-wagging just sends the tube of gauze and medical tape flying. This is a bizarre injury that was put together by God himself to test me. Like Job, only without real problems.
I'll leave you with this Youtube video of Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek." It's not a new song, and it's been sampled in some tragically bad hip-hop, but it demonstrates the proper use of Autotune. Turns out the trick is to be a genuinely creative person. Thanks always for reading.