Monday, October 25, 2004


Well, we're finally done cleaning out the house-to-be and it's ready for the contractor, who will be starting interior demolition tomorrow. Yay! But we only thought this was the hard the real hard part starts. Thinking and re-thinking our choices for tile, vanities, medicine cabinets...I've changed my mind several times already. Thank heaven I haven't really changed my mind on anything related to the kitchen. I'd be going nuts right now...more than I already am. It's pretty much a done deal. I keep wondering if I should change the vanity or shower doors; should I pick the prettier wall sconces or the ones that only cost one-third as much? Should I do narrow sconces in the bathroom or an overhead lighting fixture? Way too much to think about. But it's exciting anyway. The contractor says he'll try to finish in sixty days. I'm thinking more like one hundred twenty. Regardless, a new house in less than six months is an exciting prospect!

Friday, October 22, 2004


The worst excuse for a show to come along ever is Bravo's Manhunt. Not only is it one of the dumbest premises ever concocted, but if this is the most gorgeous group of men they could come up with in all of America, we are in serious trouble. A good body does not equal gorgeous, people. These idiots are all about as shallow as a dinner plate, with personalities to match.

The first show had so much whining that it was very easy to swear off future episodes. And if you couldn't figure out which of them was the "plant" in that first show, you didn't need to watch anyway. The real model was definitely the only pretty one of the whole bunch, but living proof that beauty is only skin deep. And even though there was only one boy on the show claiming to be gay, he certainly wasn't alone. Hunter, who blurted out "from the day I set foot on this earth, I knew I wanted to be a male model," was about as butch as Liberace. So I wasn't surprised as I was reading this guy's blog that Hunter has been spotted stripping in a gay bar in Little Rock. Well surprise, surprise, surprise! One would have never guessed.

It's pretty transparent that Bravo is going after the gay market with this show, but Bravo, listen up: most gay men have more discriminating taste than your show gives us credit for, and I for one won't be watching another episode.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Why do I do it?

I don't know why I garden. I must get some perverse pleasure out of making myself miserable: working like a dog, sweating like a pig, and breaking my back, all to grow a few fresh fruits and vegetables.

Now you ask me, "are those things really that much better than what you buy in the supermarket that it's worth all that?" I'll answer, but first, a story about some advice that I perhaps should have followed:

Back when we first moved into our current house, I had big plans and I discussed them with Jess. One of those plans was to plant a garden. In the Midwest, my parents had always gardened; their gardens were always large and filled with every kind of vegetable. Jess' dad used to garden when Jess was younger, so he had fond memories of it, too. I convinced him that we needed to plant a garden when we moved in. In any event, we had moved into the house and I had chosen the spot for the garden. Now we needed a tiller to turn over the ground and break it up finely. We went out and bought one, a nice Troy-Bilt. We were ready to go.

We paid a visit to Jess' mom's house after leaving the equipment shop.

Jess: "Guess what we bought today?!"
Mom: "What?"
Jess: "A tiller! We're going to have a garden, and so we needed a tiller."
Mom (looking both surprised and confused): "A tiller?"
Jess: "A tiller. Marc knew what kind to get, and we got one."
Mom (looking over her glasses, to me): "You know, there are people who can do that for you. You pay them, they do it for you."
Me: "Yes, but I like doing it myself, and this way I can grow tomatoes, beans, and peas that taste a lot better than what can be bought at the store."
Mom (again, to me): You know, there are people who will do that for you, too. It's called a farmstand. There's one right down the street."

Over the years, I spent a lot of time in that garden. The first year was the best, but then it got tougher and tougher. Much time was spent slaving away to get a small harvest of whatever I happened to be growing. One year too wet, the next too dry. But I continued. Mom didn't know how devoted I was to gardening. I don't think Jess did either.

Last year, I decided to scale back and do one thing: strawberries. I planted twenty plants, ten plants in two rows, set atop two "hills." Of course, the first year, there's no harvest. You pull off the flowers and let the plants send off runners so that they multiply. And multiply they did. I had ninety healthy little strawberry plants this year. Ninety plants that wound up producing more than a quart of berries a day at the height of the season. I made strawberry ice cream. I made jam - 48 jars of it. I froze berries. I was so sick of strawberries at the end of the season that I decided that was it - no more strawberries. But at the end of the season, we were so busy with other things that I left the berry patch to go wild, thinking that some weekend soon I would dig it up. But it didn't happen. Until this week, when I decided I must dig it up so that it would be ready to take grass in the spring, or wherever I get to it. But over the summer, those plants had multiplied again...and tonight I had to dig up more than 400 plants. It was hell. And the whole time I was cutting plants out with the hoe, I kept thinking about the day we told Mom we bought the tiller and what she had said to me.

Mom was so smart. She's left us now, but I'll be taking her very sage advice next year when we move into her house. The farmstand will do just fine. It's certainly better than the supermarket, and cheaper and easier than gardening. I know Jess will like that I'm spending less time outside and more with him. And I think Mom would like it that I'm taking it a little easier at her house.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

I am not impressed

Over the years I have heard and read much about Madame Tussaud's, the famous wax museum depicting "lifelike" incarnations of famous people in wax. When I was eight or nine, my parents bought me a set of World Book Encyclopediae and an accompanying "Childcraft" set. In the Childcraft set was a story on Madame Tussaud. I was fascinated by the story and the picture of the wax self-portrait of Ms. Tussaud in her black bonnet and narrow oval spectacles that rode down her nose far enough that she looked over them at you. She was a somewhat strange-looking little woman, almost bird-like, but her mastery of wax was so amazing that people actually fainted when her work was first exhibited. (Of course, it was the mid-1800s, but still...)

Tussaud's was the rage in London for 150 years before crossing the pond and landing itself in the center of Times Square on 42nd Street. It's been there about two years, and in that time, we've never been compelled to go in. But tonight, Jess had a meeting at the museum and asked me to go with him. It sounded like fun, and so we hurried home from work and hopped the railroad into the city to go. I love going anywhere with Jess!

I was a little excited: I was finally going to see the historic museum I had read so much about! In the reception room where we were greeted, there were four presidents present. Of the four, only Reagan had a reasonable resemblance to his namesake. The others looked like they could be cousins of their intended subject, but they certainly didn't look enough like them to fool anyone, nor did they look lifelike enough that you would mistake them for real. I had thought I might get a picture of myself appearing to be choking W, but the figure looked so unlike him that such a shot wouldn't have fooled anyone. You know the feeling you get when you think you might have spotted a celebrity but then when they come within better visual range, you realize it's not who you thought? Well, that could sum up the Madame Tussaud experience.

At any rate, we left the reception room to tour of the rest of the museum. There were many, many subjects, but again, most of the renderings were disappointing. Some of them looked so unlike their subjects that it was just laughable. Harrison Ford, Madonna, and Meryl Streep should sue. And if you were to capture the essence of Donald Trump, the one thing you should really have right is his hair...they didn't. On the other hand, Ted Turner, George Steinbrenner, and Morgan Freeman were fairly realistic.

But ironically, the best and most stunning depiction of all was RuPaul; in stilletto heels and a split gown, you could practically hear her drawl, "I have one thing to say...sashay...shante!" And the most priceless of all was her positioning in the room: perched high atop a two-tier clamshell-basin fountain, she was the center of attention in that room, as well she should be. Girl had it goin' on!

But as for the rest...feh. I couldn't be bothered. It's certainly not worth the $30 price of admission. You could see the whole thing in less than 45 minutes, and most of the works are a poor excuse for good sculpture. Save your bucks. New York City has far more interesting things to see than Tussaud's. Better to see the city from the top of the Empire State Building, take a tour of the Met,, enjoy a fabulous slice of New York pizza from Karavas' Place in the Village, and ride the Staten Island Ferry for free. All of this would occupy a lot more than 45 minutes, cost practically the same, and leave you much more satisfied!

Friday, October 15, 2004

The dumbing down of America

Is it just me, or are America's schools turning out fewer and fewer people who have a reasonable grasp of grammar and spelling?

I am really annoyed when people don't know the difference between "your" and "you're." It also seems there are too few people who really understand that "to" and "too" are two different words whose meanings are not interchangeable. And why is it that people don't understand that an apostrophe doesn't belong on the plural form of a word? This one is especially troubling. What's worse is that many of the people who are guilty of this most egregious error don't often apply the error consistently. Case in point: a service station on my way to work has the properly pluralized "TIRES" listed on a sign, but then not three lines later, they list "OIL CHANGE'S." How does that happen?

I think our education system has to carry a lot of the blame. I regularly see teachers who can't even properly construct a sentence. If teachers can't do it, how can we expect students to do it? It infuriates me that students in one of the most progressive school systems in this country have been receiving "social promotion" even though they can't do the work that should be expected of them at this level. Of course, parents who don't get involved in their kids' studies aren't helping the problem either. And I suspect some of them aren't educated well enough to know either.

I say all this because I have a very bright marketing intern who began working for me earlier this summer. Even though she can construct a fairly good pitch, she really doesn't know the basics of English. I must constantly correct her improper plurals and other failures in her writing style. At first, I took the gentle approach and merely marked up her work and returned it to her for correction. But she hasn't learned from experience, so I'm now forced to correct her work and give explanations of why her grammar is wrong, with pointed notes that she has to learn not to repeat these types of mistakes. These mistakes were never tolerated when I was in school, nor when I was in college; however, today's teachers are obviously more permissive or less educated (or both), and it's doing no favors for our college graduates. A senior in college pursuing a career in Marketing should be long past grammar school lessons such as these.

I need a new job.

So my first post is a vent. I need a new job. My current job is sucking harder than a tornado in a trailer park. It's almost comical to watch my boss (the CEO) and the Executive VP talk about TQM (a term that went out of style years ago and one they wouldn't know the first thing about enacting since they themselves don't practice it) and how a recent and long-overdue application of plain old accountability has suddenly "changed the corporate culture," when it has really only increased sales of a few specific items. It's not as if there has been a change in management or the style in which we are (mis)managed. There's been no paradigm shift. Oh, but in the process, we have "cleansed" our ranks of "all the people who didn't buy in to the new culture." Bullshit. We lost many a good worker and manager this year because they correctly recognized that for all the talk, it was just a different cover on the same tired book.

There are still people in key positions at my company who are content to let others do all the work while they do nothing, only to come back at the end and attempt to take credit for the work they didn't do. I have spent more than five years at this place, bringing my career in this industry to twenty years, and in that twenty years my work has never been less respected, nor has my opinion ever counted for less than it has here. It's time to move on.

One aspect of my job that I really enjoy and that I am extremely talented at executing is voice-over work. I would love to be able to go into work and be paid for talking every day. Now granted, my voice isn't as deep and sexy as this guy's, but I'm no slouch. So if you know any organization that needs voice-over talent, let me know! I'd be deeply grateful. Of course, I also write copy, provide art direction, do event planning...but those things I've done forever, so I'd be more interested in the voice-over talent. But anything that gets me out of this position will work!