DAMN YOU PANDORA!!! *shakes fist at sky*

Many years ago, I started using Pandora, the internet radio station.  It was cool and introduced me to lots of new music while gradually getting a better handle on my musical taste for future recommendations.  Then it started sucking more... introducing ads, then instituting a monthly limit to the hours you could use it.  I continued using it reluctantly... I could give in and buy a subscription to make the annoying stuff go away, but that seemed like caving to terrorist tactics.  Today, though, after exhausting my monthly limit, I gave in and bought the subscription.  They do provide me with a valuable service that I would be happy to pay for... but god damn do I hate feeling like I was coerced by their successful attempts to irritate me :-(.
  • Current Music
    Rock Music - 2 Faced

the office effect

So why is The Office such an effective comedy?  For the first several seasons, they were constantly struggling with the threat of cancellation, but now the pseudo-documentary style has proven popular enough to not only make that show thrive, but spawn numerous imitation shows like Parks & Recreation, Modern Family, Community, etc.  Has drama somehow evolved (or perhaps reverted) in some fundamental way that leaves actors free to acknowledge the camera, offer soliloquies, and otherwise mess with the fourth wall indiscriminately?  I don't have any good insights, but this seems like an important shift in modern entertainment, and I harbor the drunken hope that this attempt at Socratic inquiry would spark discussion amongst my smarter friends.
  • Current Music
    Wax Tailor - Say Yes

ice cream trucks

I took a walk to the library today, and noticed an ice cream truck ambling through the neighborhood blaring its jingle.  I've never really thought before about how nefarious a business model they represent:  creeping past your home broadcasting an inducement to panicked demand for the ice cream RIGHT NOW MOMMY HURRY!!  I imagine a roomful of fat, cigar smoking men trying to determine the exact volume level and truck speed that would allow for practical purchasing but optimize the instilled sense of urgency.  Ok, that might be a paranoid fantasy, but I like the image.

At the library I got a collection of John Irving short stories.  Supposedly these are all the short stories he's ever considered "finished," and given his reputation as a methodical stickler for story structure I'm eagerly anticipating some highly polished nuggets of literary bliss.

wage slave again

I milked unemployment for 6 weeks, but ultimately a nagging voice in the back of my head convinced me I should try to find sustainable and gainful existence again. So I went back to Trader Joe's. Hey, it's no dream job, but it's easy and no one else has ever offered me better compensation. The store I was at wouldn't rehire me (some noise about a new store opening just north of them and cutting into their traffic), so I started working at the La Jolla store. A new group of co-workers to meet and befriend, and a new bevy of beautiful women to lust after (and ultimately fail to woo, given my MO). Amongst the staff, there are already two girls I would happily marry--Mackenzie, who is a boisterous professional beach volleyball player and a perfect 10 (with maybe some fractional point subtracted for sun-damaged skin), and Lauren, who is a cutie and classic Pollyanna type with a perpetually friendly and cheerful smile for everyone. Amongst the clientele, OMG there are so many beautiful asian girls. I feel like I'm working in some imperial Chinese harem. Many of them come in with their white frat-guy boyfriends, too, so I know it's possible. God knows how the motherfuckers pull it off, though. Probably voodoo.

Looking back over the last paragraph I wrote, I realize I'm still barely drunk enough to think it's more funny than offensive. Must be time to post!
  • Current Music
    Air - La Femme D'argent

some random tidbits

I went back to Trader Joe's yesterday to ask for my job back. They said it doesn't exist anymore, and it's too slow for them to consider hiring anyone. I might try some other stores in the region.

Today was the one year anniversary of the local surfing legend and ex-coworker Colin W's untimely death. I went to a memorial service on the beach for him today. While I was there, I saw Bree, the cute girl I used to work with... I've had a big crush on her for about a year. I cornered her on the beach and asked her out. She said she was flattered, but she was waiting for a dude that shared her faith (Jehovah's witness). We talked religion a bit, but predictably neither of us was able to convince the other of anything. Oh well, I'm glad I at least finally asked her.

So no idea what I'm gonna do for money yet, and I can't find a compatible girl to save my freaking life. Oh, also the new computer I bought a month ago stopped working last night. Better finally apply for unemployment tomorrow, I can't seem to take care of myself...
  • Current Music
    Hybrid - Higher than a Skyscraper

putting the "bum" in beach bum

The economy finally caught up to me on Friday and I got laid off from the best job I've ever had. They were relatively nice about it, at least, saying that it had nothing to do with my performance, they had directives from up on high to cut X people, I was the most junior person in my department, their hands were tied, blah blah blah.

So now I have to figure out what comes next. When I left Trader Joe's they said they were putting a note in my file that strongly recommended me for re-hire, so I probably still have that option to fall back on. What I've been thinking more about is teaching English abroad. I know a couple people who have done that, and it seems like a cool adventure to do someday. If not now, when? Anyone reading this have some advice about those programs? I've started browsing some websites and FAQs, but it's safe to say I know very little about it.

In the meantime, I'm going to take a couple weeks off and just think about what I want my life to be about next. It's never really fun to lose a job, but the self-reflection and reassessment it forces on you is probably not without value.
  • Current Music
    Blank & Jones - A Forest

upper

I feel like too often livejournal is used as a way to vent and complain. Especially by me.

Today I'd like to do something a bit different.

I'm overwhelmed by how well my life is going. I'm living in paradise at the most exciting time in history. I have my dream job. I almost never experience pain or suffering; on most days my hardest choice is what awesomely fun activity to participate in. If I ever become slightly bored, a million incredibly fun options are at my fingertips.

Now if only I could find a cool girl to share this with... crap, that almost turned into bitching after all. Life is great!
  • Current Music
    Night Works - Sleepy Language

monthly status update

I played in a magic tournament last week for the first time in a while. It was up in LA, and the prize was a free trip to Japan to play at the pro tour there. After six rounds I was 5-1, needing one win to make the top 8 and play the elimination rounds. My opponent and I split the first two games, and in game 3 my opponent has to spend a lot of resources to deal with one threat, while I had a card in my hand that would win the game on my next turn. I show him the card and say, "Sorry, man, you played well and you have a good deck, but I got the cards this time." He grunts and slumps in his chair as I fill out the result slip (indicating myself as the winner), sign it, and push it toward him for him to sign. At this point I start picking up some of my cards, and he calls the judge over. "He didn't actually make any play, he just flashed a card in his hand and started picking up his cards." The judge rules that I have shuffled away a couple cards, so he can't verify the game state and he has to assume I conceded. So that was a pretty frustrating way to lose the tournament, and I'm still pretty shocked by the sleaziness of my opponent.

For New Year's I was in LA again, this time to go to a rave called Together As One. I had VIP tix to the party (I find the whole concept of vip tix at a rave with that theme pretty hilarious), but it's not clear to me that it was worth it. For $90 more you get a shorter (but still substantial) line to get inside and free drinks all night in the vip area. If you're planning to drink a lot anyway, it makes sense to avoid the concession prices, but I had to avoid getting hammered since I was planning to drive home. The rave overall was good but not great. Armin van Buuren is a fine DJ but most of the stuff he played didn't exactly blow me away. I also didn't go up with anyone this time, and I failed to meet up with any of the friends that were supposedly there. The outfit I wore was a purple robe with a leopard-print fur collar and matching fuzzy leopard-print hat (purchased at a vintage clothing store a couple days earlier). Unfortunately I no longer have the hat. A hot chick asked me for it and I handed it over, thinking she'd just asked to touch it. In fact she wanted to keep it, and I let it go rather than demanding it back. Freakin' hot chicks think they can just demand people's clothes *mutter*.

I have a date on Sunday! I met her online and have traded some e-mails, but this will be our first time meeting in person. I'm taking her to a swanky Italian joint; here's hoping it goes well.

assorted news of me

Whew, I haven't written anything here in six weeks, and I've been going through some eventful times. I've started working in game design, and it's as cool as I hoped it would be. My boss and co-workers have been very encouraging about my work so far, but the company is currently in a hiring freeze. What will happen in mid-January when my contract runs out is anybody's guess. In the meantime I still work some hours at Trader Joe's to keep up my benefits and hopefully have some kind of fall-back plan if the new gig doesn't work out. I think that's a smart decision, but it is definitely rough going from a ~35 hour work week to a 50+ one.

I got a new roommate who is something of a disaster. He's a fun guy, but he's a compulsive gambler and an alcoholic. I know he has a coke habit also, but he's usually too broke to indulge in that particular vice. He apparently has worked as a telemarketer for like seven years, but just recently got laid off. He has an air of impending, inevitable tragedy that makes me both nervous and shamefully fascinated to watch the train wreck. I've seen him make outrageous drunken bets that he later tried to renege on or steal back. I've seen him drunkenly drop his friend's infant child. He begged me once for a loan of $100. He initially pitched an offer to repay me $150 in a week, then offered $200 when I seemed reluctant. I refused a couple times, but after he dejectedly gave up I felt bad. I mean, it's probably a con, but what if it's not and he really needs help? I'm fortunate enough to have enough financial independence that $100 is not a huge deal to me. So I gave him the cash and told him not to worry about the interest. "Just get me back the principal. I'm trying to do the right thing here; please don't fuck me." To his credit he payed me back + $10 of interest that I tried to refuse. People who have known him longer cynically advise me that he's just suckering me in for a bigger con later on. Sigh... trying to do right is hard.

I finally caved in and set up a facebook page. It's been surprisingly addictive looking up high school friends I haven't seen in years. I was especially amused to discover that one of my more memorable high school crushes is now married to another woman, and they just had their first child together.

Today I had my first turducken encounter. It was good, but I'm not convinced that any of the birds cooked similarly well wouldn't have been just as delicious presented individually. Afterwards went back to JG + CG's pad to get intoxicated and play rock band, which was predictably awesome.
  • Current Music
    Tool - Sober

housing and occupation upheaval

I've moved into my new house, and so far I'm loving the modern amenities and the close proximity to work (I've walked to work most days this week). There was some friction with the roommates when I invited people over for a housewarming party last weekend without asking permission (they were all out of town). One of their friends was staying here though (presumably at their request to keep an eye on me), and alerted them to the party. BO, the girl who basically runs the house, called and demanded we leave... so everyone left and JG salvaged the party by moving it to his house (thanks man!). I can sort of see how they'd be nervous about me throwing a party here with people they don't know, but their reaction still miffed me. It's not like they're doing me a solid letting me crash here; I've given them ~$1600 in rent and deposits already. I feel like I've purchased some right to use the house, especially when they're not here to be bothered by the noise.

Anyway, in employment news, it looks like I will finally be leaving the grocery store business after 6(!) years. At JG's birthday party 5 months ago, his friend DB got talking to me about game development and told me I should ship him my resume. I didn't hear anything else about it until a couple weeks ago when he e-mailed me and told me there was a position opening up in his R&D department and I should come in and interview if I was still interested. I went to the interview and apparently it went well enough... I got a job offer! Working on games for a living has been a long-time dream of mine, so I'm jumping at the opportunity (even though I'll be taking a small hit in pay, at least initially).
  • Current Music
    Crystal Method - Vapor Trail