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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Fall on your knees

I'm not a big fan of the holiday season. After you're too old to enjoy your Mego Marvel Super-Hero Action Figures, the day sort of loses its appeal. I mean, yay baby Jesus. Woo.

Christmas songs leave me cold, pun intended. The only joy I extract from most is hearing them remade in the most wretched way possible. A good example of this is Debbie/Deborah Gibson doing "Sleigh Ride" from one of those "Very Special Christmas" comps. If you haven't heard it, you must. It's hideous, cloying, nasal, everything horrific about Ms, Gibson in one red-and-green giftwrapped package. I get moist just thinking about it.

Having said all this, I have to admit there is one song and one particular version of it that makes me well up against my will. All of my aging hipster doofus indie cred is going to fly out the window with this one, but it weighs heavily upon me and I feel the need to unburden myself, always the first step of recovery:

Celine Dion's version of "O Holy Night".

It is so bombastic, emotionally manipulative and over the top that it makes me stop whatever I'm doing and Just. Listen. I'm not sure what it is that I like so much about it -- maybe the haughty, condescending tone of the lyrics combined with her holier-than-thou delivery ("Fall on your knees"? Smell you, Miss It!), the huge swelling of the orchestra combined with that one soul-shivering note she hits during the final "Noel", or this truly touching sentiment early in the song:

Long lay the world
In sin and error pining
'Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth

I'm not a religious guy, but that's some good writin' there, whether you believe in the Easter Bunny or not.

I'm ashamed to like this song as much as I do, while at the same time, I'm glad I do, because it reminds me there's still some vestige of a soul buried deep down inside. Plus, fag DNA requires some disposition to Dion, whether it's affection or craning the neck to watch the train wreck. She sings this song like she's a British nanny and the tune is a screaming baby that won't stop crying. Shake, shake, shake.

In a last-ditch, desperate attempt to save reputation, I offer my other Christmas favorite, the polar opposite of "O Holy Night", the incredibly cynical, yet still happy ending "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses.

Download the Waitresses, "Christmas Wrapping"

Bah, humbug, but that's okay 'cuz it's still my favorite holiday. Akron, represent.

Speaking of which, I'm off to Cleveland this Monday for TWO. FULL. WEEKS. I should have a shitload of material for 2005.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


The President of the company I work for is mentally ill.

I don’t mean this in a cruel, “holy crap, this guy is crazy with his decisions” kind of way. The man is truly sick. My armchair psychology degree says this comes from his family life, where he has absolutely no control whatsoever. His kids are in their thirties, live at home, work for his company and he still pays their rent. They return this generosity by ditching college to follow a rock group on the road for two years (the daughter), or by getting so blind, stinking drunk on Christmas Eve you find yourself leaping off a fourth-floor balcony, shattering a leg (the son – make that, the 34-year old son).

As a result of this stress, El Presidente takes it out on his employees by becoming an über-control freak at work. Every decision is double and triple-guessed, resulting in nothing truly spectacular or, to be fair, truly wretched happening. We are the mediocre company. We do all right. Our company motto should be “Meh.”

It doesn’t stop there, though. Since he can’t bring himself to yell at his no-good, deadbeat loin-springers, he purges himself on us, his poor workers. I have an .mp3 recording of him, recorded surreptitiously on my G4 laptop, ranting to me about using an ampersand instead of the word “and” in a headline. It’s 14-minutes long, an epic of truly Kruschevian proportions. In fact, if he removed his shoe and started pounding on my desk during it, I wouldn’t have blinked. I’ll post it here the day I finally quit, honest. It’s killer.

His control issue actually has a physical manifestation. He is noticeably obsessive/compulsive. I picked up on this fairly early in our work relationship when I began to notice a repeating pattern every time he left his office, located next to mine. He would lock his office door, test the handle to make sure it was locked, then come to my doorway and chat a bit, saying his goodbyes. He would then return to his door and test the door handle again, come back and talk to me some more, then, one last time, test his door handle. Then, after saying goodnight to me three separate times, he’d finally leave.

This routine has never varied for the two years and four months I’ve worked with him.

Yesterday, we got to see another of his old dirty bastard/obsessive compulsive order tics, or ODB/OCD tics as I call them, in action. El Presidente was unhappy with his current dentist, since he replaced an old filling four days ago and El Presidente was still in pain. This is not how it was supposed to be, El Presidente insisted. He ranted about it to us when he came in at 10 a.m., when he left for lunch at noon and when he returned at 2:30 p.m. This dentist did this on purpose! El Presidente now had something on which to focus – finding a new dentist, ASAP.

Considering my recent experience with dentistry, I should have expected he’d come to me for a dental recommendation. Now, with any other normal human being, I’d have no problem saying, “Oh sure, my dentist is great! You should go see him. Here’s his number.” But El Presidente is a special case. If my dentist (who IS great, by the way) did or said the slightest thing, real or imagined, to offend the overly sensitive Prez, I would suffer the wrath. I’d never hear the fucking end of it, how I dared to refer him to such a quack. But there was no way out, so I told Mr. Prez my dentist was worth seeing.

What follows is the timeline of El Presidente’s dental obsession for the remainder of yesterday:

2:45 p.m. – El Prez asks if my dentist is worth seeing. “Is this guy good? Is he personable? I mean, he’s not too personable, is he? I like a friendly guy, but not a blabbermouth.” I love mythological parameters.

3:15 p.m. – El Prez asks my dentist’s name. “Dr. Cheng.” Prez’s face wrinkles. “He was born in Laguna.” “Oh, okay then,” Prez says, brightly.

4:03 p.m. – “What’s his office like? Does he have nice furniture?” Prez asks.

4:22 p.m. – “How young are his hygienists?”

4:57 p.m. – “How long has this guy been a dentist?” I. DON’T. KNOW. “Do you really think he’s good?”

5:04 p.m. – Checks door handle once. “Boy, I hope this guy is good. I cancelled an appointment with my dentist to see him.” Great, I’m already being held accountable. Checks door handle again. “Are you sure this guy is good?” Final handle check. “Boy, I hope he’s good.” Departs.

8:37 p.m. – My cell phone rings. It’s our Product Manager, the only other person besides myself who has to deal with Prez. “Prez just called me.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope. He wants to know if I think you really think your dentist is good or not.”

Fine Folks

"...and by hubris, I mean overweening pride!" - Johnny's Greatest Hits

25 Year Loop
Fucking Woof
David Live
The Night Before
Jobriath Was First
She's in Parties
She's in Parties Pt. 2
Tales From the Dragon Club
Tales From the Dragon Club Pt. 2
Okay, California...You Win
How to Sell Used CDs

Previously on "Johnny Is a Man"...

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