It’s that time of year again. I’m proud to say that I’ll be voting this afternoon, not necessarily for a governor of Massachusetts – I though Duval Patrick did a pretty good job and Martha Coakley is a no-brainer – but for the questions. Here’s a rundown:
1. Gas tax
NO. No means “tie the gas tax to inflation” here. Seriously, do we want our potholes filled or not? Those pothole-filling machines run on gas too, y’know.
2. Bottle Bill
YES makes nonalcoholic, noncarbonated beverages subject to deposits and returns. There’s a little noise about this, though it’s being mostly outshined by Question 3, but the thing I have heard nobody mention is that bottles are the main source of income for a large percentage of the homeless population. The environment’s an extremely worthy cause, but has anyone thought about diverting that extra money to fund shelters?
Yet certain busybodies continue to believe that because they have a firmly held personal belief against casinos, nobody should get casinos. There are all kinds of dumb pseudo-economic excuses for this attitude, but it sounds like it comes down to the all-American desire to sermonize people who are trying to have fun.
A NO vote means let them have the fucking casinos. Also, stop trying to undermine the democratic process with loopholes and backhanded legalistic trickery. Are you not adults?
4. Employee sick time
So due to circumstances I have no interest in sharing with you nosy fucking bastards, I am losing my job at the end of December. Not that it’s much of a secret anymore – they posted the ad yesterday. I’m OK with it, I just wish they’d mentioned it was going up, you know? Anyway, the thing that has typified my short time at this job has been the total lack of sick time. I had about one day of personal time that I used on a family get-together – the only time I’d get to see my dad and sisters this year, as well as the last time my now-fiancee, then-girlfriend would have a chance to assess firsthand the family she was marrying into. It had been in the works for eight fucking months, so no way was I backing out. Then, obviously, a month later, I got sick and had to take a day unpaid. Then, because I couldn’t afford not to work, I went to work sick and spent the next month and a half trying to recover on my feet. It. Sucked.
The worst thing is that I may run into exactly the same situation if I get another library job: sic months of probationary, wherein I had damn well better not get sick.
Keep in mind that I’m in a position where I can even take an unpaid day. If you’re living on tips, or if your employer is an asshole who will fire you if you “don’t show up” after trying to call in sick (for sick time you don’t have,) then you know how much less wiggle room you have.
YES means every employer in Massachusetts will have to give people sick time. How is this even a question? If you vote NO, you have no soul.
1. Lost Daughter by the Dry Spells
2. Another Day on the Train by M Shanghai String Band
3. The World feat. Jack White, by Danger Mouse and Danielle Luppi
4. From the Colonies by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra
5. Bahamut by Hazmat Modine
6. Hail Bop by Django Django
7. Knights of Cydonia by Muse
8. Making Enemies by Snow Patrol
9. You Are the Blood by the Castanets
(Except for #2, which you’ll need to find on YouTube.)
Of all the cultural events collegiate America might ever have appropriated, Cinco de Mayo is probably the one that gets under my skin the fastest. Originally a remembrance of the Battle of Puebla and a celebration of Mexican pride, it has recently, on college campuses and in college-y areas like the one where I live, degenerated into an excuse to wear politically incorrect headgear and not give a damn about how the hispanic Americans around you might feel about things.
If that made you go “holy shit,” then we had the same reaction! We’re reaction buddies! Hi, friend!
I also had a reaction this weekend while watching college kids in Somerville getting blasted while wearing enormously stupid sequined sombreros and screaming “DRINKO DE MAAAAYOOOOOO!”
Clearly, this whole culturally insensitive mess is just an excuse to drink on a weekday, but does that make it strictly right? Allow me, if you please, to do a quick, public thought experiment. (It is, after all, a blog.) How would a red-blooded American hick like me, originating in a military family and only now gaining control of my tear ducts as I think of our rousing national anthem, feel if space aliens from Alpha Centuri were to randomly decide that the Fourth of July was a great excuse to barcrawl in sequined pink tricorn hats and togas made from the American Flag, all the while calling it “Fourth of Whiskey?”
My writer’s imagination fails me. Luckily, there’s Google. Look, a space alien!
Experiment results: I’m offended! Hooray!
I propose an alternate holiday for collegiate celebratory purposes. Academic administrators, back me up! We’ll need all your support to turn students away from racist Cinco de Mayo celebrations and toward less offensive behavior. After all, if college students will use any excuse to drink and dress funny at odd times, then we may be able to feed them some festive options that don’t offend anyone’s cultural sensibilities. See if any of these ring your bell:
1. FIVE. This holiday celebrates the number five (5). Isn’t five (5) great? All of its multiples end in either 0 or 5. It’s a useful number for hands. To celebrate, people wear finger puppets, walk arm in arm five abreast on sidewalks, drink in multiples of five, and up-top total strangers for the entire obnoxious day. Five. (5)
2. Say “Motherfuckers” on YouTube Day. Participants get extremely drunk and break the great social taboo they have had to observe all throughout their lives: they get to scream the word “MOTHERFUCKERS” at the world through the medium of YouTube. Not only will this relieve stress, but participants will learn real-world lessons about social media and alcoholic spirits.
3. Artisinal Soda Day. This takes place on a random weekend in May, and it’s strictly for bartenders who have a problem with kids using fake IDs and acting like assholes in front of their establishments. In summary, all of the beer in the joint is secretly replaced with either high-end soda pop, (stuff like Reed’s Butterscotch Beer,) or non-alcoholic beverages. Then everyone gets to watch as the inexperienced young customers behave as if they’re drunk despite having had no booze whatsoever that night.
4. May Day. Anyone who mixes up the terms “can I” and “may I” has to do ten push-ups while wearing a party hat. I don’t actually think this one will fly, I just think it would be cool.
5. We Admit There’s Something Wrong With Undergraduate College When Students Will Take Pretty Much Any Excuse to Throw A Public Party Regardless Of How Well They’ve Thought Things Through Day. Also known as “We Might Have Lost The Point Of Investment In Education Somewhere In This Bar Day,” this day is typified by serious discussions about whether or not undergraduate education is more useful to students than, say, a year to blow off all the steam they built up during high school.
On thith fine thpring day, let’th all remember Thtar Warth and itth profound effect upon our culture. May the Fourth be with you!
Also, I didn’t get to a comic shop in time to snag any of the books I wanted yesterday. Let these two noble and beauteous lynx vocalize exactly how I feel about that.
When I wrote this, it was late, late at night. Unbeknownst to me, I crossed the dateline into Official Free Comic Book Day territory as the post was published! So for goodness sake, go get some free comic books. IT’S TODAY.)
THAT’S RIGHT, STAN LEE!
I, however, shall be working. This, of course, SUCKS, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have fun. Go ahead! Don’t think of me, suffering in the shackles of capitalism for the sake of your information literacy. Go on!
Plus, I already have opinions about the freebies that I want.
Ohmanohmanohmanohman I LOVE Atomic Robo! Well, I love Doctor Dinosaur. And where Atomic Robo goes, Doctor Dinosaur is sure to show up eventually! Sure, Atomic Robo is basically Hellboy in chrome, but did I mention Doctor Dinosaur? Doctor Dinosaur makes everything awesome.
That’s from a comic that wasn’t free. Sadly, all Atomic Robo does in this FCBD issue, apparently, is check out Centralia. Doesn’t sound like Doctor Dinosaur will be there. I’ll have to get my fan fix on Twitter.
I just want his nemesis to be Mr. Lyme or something. Anyway, their city gets shrunk by the Hoarder. WHAT WILL THEY DO? SPOOOOOOOON!
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hoogasaka! Featuring Crow T. Robot as Groot! This is a Bendis bit and likely to have all the trappings in prep for the movie. Honestly, expect it to go first. It makes me kind of glad that I already have no hope of getting these, as I will be at work. If I didn’t get a copy of this after going to all the trouble of deciding that I actually wanted it, I think I’d cry. There’s also a Spidey-Verse teaser in there, but Spidey and I aren’t talking right now because all my friends hated his movie and it’s awkward.
It’s like STAR Wars, but instead of flying through the stars, they’ll fly through STEAM! How dramatic! I must have it. Except…I hate the art. Don’t call me anti-anime! I am not. Don’t call me a cretin! No! I just can’t get over seeing their faces all different again! There have been too many Star Wars cartoons, video games, and Legos! MAKE IT STOP!
I don’t mean that. Never stop, Star Wars adaptations. Do you. 😉
See that neat-o logo up there? That’s the official sigil of my brand-new professional digs! As of July 1, I’ll be the adult services librarian at Wilmington Memorial Library.
I am so excited for this position that I can’t even.
There’ll be a great deal of programming involved in this position. This is exciting: I have freaking AMAZING programming ideas. Many are set outside of the library, many are set inside of the library, and all have that there logo hanging over them on a big giant banner. It’s going to utterly rock.
In honor of this exciting event, and because I have been having nothing but ideas since I heard the news, here’s a list of library program starters from A to Z. It’s a smallish selection, but I’m still collecting from all my friends and colleagues. If you want to contribute, feel free to add ideas in the comments! In fact, PLEASE add! Invent new letters and add your own, use numbers and symbols, or just tack your own library programming ideas onto the 26 pre-agreed Roman numerals. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
And if you like any of them, remember to steal all of my ideas and never ever worry about attribution! Yeeeaah!
THE GIANT A-Z LIST OF PROGRAMMING IDEAS THUS FAR
A: Astrologer in the library
B: Beer tasting
C: Cat training
D: Defense Against the Dark Arts Harry Potter night
E: Etsy for Businesspeople
F: Fruit smoothies
G: Glass blowing
H: Healthy Paleo dieting
I: Ink art
J: Jail in America: all about the federal and state prison systems
K: Kooks: debunking medical scamsters and frauds
L: Loving someone with depression
M: Meditation night
N: Nature in your Backyard
O: Organized crime: Boston’s sordid history
Q: Quick carpentry
R: Raising exotic spiders
S: Spinning yarn from wool
T: Tax tips and tricks
U: Upping the ante: how to win at poker
V: Veterans’ visit and discussion
W: Wild Wilmington: little-known local history
X: Xylophone concert
Z: Zelda night: adult-only classic video game competition
Image from TheGraphicsFairy.com
Recently, I decided to rid myself of my old 2001 Chevy Prism, a clunker that was rapidly falling apart beneath me as I drove. Actually, the Prism, which was a thirdhand driveway deal back in 2009, was a safety hazard from the get-go: unstable, touchy about my language, and productive of an eerie keen when traveling at speeds exceeding forty miles per hour. When last I saw this noble steed, it had 146,000 miles on its odometer and cost much, much more to fill up than it was worth. To add a final touch to its ineffable charm: several serious dents.
In short, I required a new vehicle, and not just any ancient scrap heap from the side of the road either. Now that I was a Grown Damn Woman, I needed a Grown Damn Woman car, not a Sleazy Kid Car that looks like something owned by a drug runner. (I’m not making that up. The police used to follow me around back home because apparently drug runners in my dear old stompin’ grounds of upstate New York favor the Prism’s trunk space and low profile.)
So I did what a Grown Damn Woman does when she needs a car: I hauled my Grown Damn Self to a dealership.
My lovely girlfriend and I put aside an entire Saturday to shop and deal. We had a strategy that went something like this: I was the Good Cop who just loved shiny, overpriced, blinged-out idiot carriages. She was the Bad Cop who cared about money and safety and fuel economy and all that kind of Bad Cop stuff.
After a few super-lame used car lots had already wasted several hours of our time, we arrived at the fateful doors of a completely innocuous-looking Nissan dealership. Now I’ve driven Nissan cars before. Specifically, I’ve driven Versas. This is because everyone in my family owns a red Nissan Versa hatchback with manual shift, and my Prism was often, as I may have mentioned, in a state being such that I was inspired to borrow cars from family members on short notice. I happen to be a free spirit, however, and I was resolved to not buy a red Versa hatchback. I would blaze a trail and buy a different car than my father and his father before him. After some dithering around the lot, I decided that I had a keen yen for a sunroofed, navigation-ated, Sirius-XM’ed, 2011 model black Versa hatchback.
Boy, I thought, that’ll show ’em!
Our salesman, Bob*, looked about sixteen. He wore a yellow suit that was comically large and shapeless on his spindly frame. He looked for all the world as though his mother had somehow stuffed him into a giant lunch bag instead of dressing him. Soon, we realized why she would have done such a thing: clearly, she was hoping that he would be mistaken as actual lunch by something large enough to carry away the mess. As we discussed the purchase of the black Versa, we learned waaaay too much about Bob’s* financial situation, work history, career ambitions, and personal code of honor, all of which would have been better off not existing. The only thing that stopped us from leaving out of sheer discomfort was that Bob* was also highly gullible. Whenever he showed signs of digging in his heels regarding the ultimate cost of the car, my beloved would sigh audibly and declare, “I just don’t think we need the extravagance of a sunroof.” (This is, by the way, complete bullshit. As far as my girlfriend is concerned, sunroofs are portals to a magical land where joyous people dance with the sky as a magic carpet transports them through the world’s gayest block party.) However, the deception was extremely effective. Soon, whenever he saw my girlfriend draw a deep breath, Bob* would pale, raise his sweaty hands, and lower the price of the car. It was like working with one of Pavlov’s dogs, if Pavlov’s dogs were somehow worse at selling cars than Bob*.
Finally, when he seemed to have hit a price floor and would no longer budge, we departed the building, only to watch him sprint out to the parking lot and throw himself in front of my rattling, wailing Prism, shouting over the din that he had made a mistake about the cost of pre-certification and that the black Versa *actually* cost about a thousand dollars less than he’d told us.
Then, of course, he tried to pin on extra “taxes.” That actually made the deal even sweeter: when I called his boss out on it, the dealership had to buy my junky Prism for the princely sum of about $2,000 just to cover the difference. That’s fully two thirds of what I originally paid for it! Had Bob* been just a little more inept, or his manager just slightly more interested in the process, I would have made money. Alas, that the world remains unfair.
Chuckling smugly, I finalized the sale. My girlfriend and I congratulated each other on our Kickass Teamwork and the Wicked Deal we got through our Exceeding Cleverness. Oh, how I shudder now at our naivete.
Bob* told me that he’d figure out the registration and insurance the next day, considering the lateness of the hour. (By then, the hour was indeed late, so this seemed plausible.) There was nothing to worry about, he claimed, because the insurance on the Prism would cover my new-to-me car for up to one week. All I had to do was bring the black Versa back to the Nissan dealership in a couple days for its inspection sticker, which would be covered in full by Bob*’s boss.
This is the moment when I should have started looking at this whole deal askew. No inspection? Why not? Isn’t that illegal? But instead of asking these important questions, I jumped into the driver’s seat and my girlfriend and I made a victory run to Market Basket, sunroof open and Sirius XM blaring.
Sure enough, about two days later, I received a panicked phone call from Bob*. Something was not right, he babbled, his voice cracking hysterically. I needed to bring the black Versa back post haste. The dealership would put me into a rental for a week – tops! – while they sorted out whatever the issue was. I was in no way clear about the problem, but I did know that 1. it was urgent; 2. it was serious; and 3. it involved the black Versa’s registration. What I didn’t know was that, after dropping the black Versa back at its place or origin, I would never see that car again.
The dealership put me into a brand-new Altima that turned out to be the bane of my existence. I would much rather have had my old clunker back for a year than drive the Altima around the block once. The Altima’s windows fogged from the inside, obscuring my entire view with layers of weird, greasy, smelly condensation that wouldn’t wipe off. The car was also enormously, comically too large for me. Remember how Short Round drove with a brick on his shoe in Temple of Doom? Imagine that I’m him without the benefit of a brick. Bad sitch.
After suffering with the Altima for one utterly miserable week, I got them to give me a different rental car . Why did I wait so long? Well, I figured I’d tough it out. Just a week until I got my *real* car back, right? When they replaced the fucking Altima with a brand-new black Juke, I decided that another week really wouldn’t make much of a difference. The Juke’s nice! I was perfectly OK with hanging out in my free rental sports car for a few days. Plus, at this point, I could do pretty much anything to it because the salesmen were now desperate to please me. Trip to New York and back? Sure! Paint scratches? No problem! They were just thrilled that I was being such an “understanding customer.” After the atrocity of the Altima, I decided to savor it. After all, it won’t be long before they get whatever sorted out with the black Versa. Right?
Wrong! The weeks scrolled by and winter turned into spring. I called the dealership periodically, now talking to Bob’s* manager instead of Bob*. Was my car ready? No, it was never ready. You are in the automotive Twilight Zone, my friend. There was still some vague “problem” with the registration. Bob* was no longer in the picture. When I went into the dealership, I couldn’t help but notice that his little desk was perfectly clean.
And I soon discovered that the Juke is a temperamental gas guzzler. It’s fast but delicate, and by the time I turned it in, it already needed maintenance. Furthermore, it was on the dealership’s insurance. Initially this sounded like a great idea, but what it *really* meant was that the insurance that I was *still paying* on the black Versa was going into a black hole. This went on for eight weeks.
Just as I was about to march back to the dealership with demands, I got a phone call. This phone call was from the manager’s manager. Let’s call him Mike. Bob’s* manager was there too, but he didn’t say much, except to agree with Mike. As Mike described himself, he was the guy who was going to make everything right. Mike had a really fun story about the black Versa. It was a complex, nuanced tale about Minnesota, Tennessee, and a car that had been registered at the former, surreptitiously transported to the latter, and purchased under unclear circumstances before winding up, title-less, in Massachusetts. Now, for reasons as quasi-criminal as they were idiotic, I was never going to see the black Versa again.
Yup! I had bought a stolen car.
I had just a few seconds to enjoy this turn of events before Mike offered me an “equivalent vehicle.” This new Versa would be a year younger and possessed of every feature I had loved in the first car, from hatchy back to bossy navigation. Could I come into the dealership to try it?
I most certainly could!
Upon meeting the new Versa, a few minor differences were immediately evident. First of all, the vehicle was not a hatchback. It wasn’t even close to being a hatchback. It was, in fact, visibly and obviously a sedan.
Second, where the first car had been black, this one was a bright, happy metallic blue.
There were a few other details, most notably the absence of a sunroof or navigation, that I pointed out to Mike inside of the dealership. He seemed genuinely surprised. I actually remember this conversation because by the end of it I had realized that Mike could not possibly be a car salesman. “But they’re exactly the same car!” he exclaimed, ruffling papers like a frantic gerbil.
“It’s a sedan,” I said, “it’s blue, and it doesn’t have a sunroof.”
He looked at me blankly.
“My car was black,” I prompted. He continued to stare. “It was a hatchback.”
“It also had a sunroof.”
At this point, I became convinced that the dealership with which I had been dealing for two months was, in fact, a mob front staffed by low-level goons.
Yup! I had bought a stolen car from the Mafia!
Whatever was really going on behind the desk, I wanted a damn car. I didn’t care if I bought it from Godzilla as long as I got my money’s worth. I reasoned that I’d already been enough of a bother that if they were going to break my legs, they would have done so by now. I decided to be super, super pushy. After my good buddy Mike agreed to return to me the value of the sunroof, the insurance payment, and the car payment I had already made on the black Versa, I agreed to take the blue Versa instead once everything – and I do mean everything – was sorted out.
Of course, this took another long week.
When my girlfriend and I finally made it back to the dealership, Mike told us right off the bat that we could drive the blue Versa away that evening. Then he mentioned that we’d have to come back on Saturday for registration. And then on Monday for insurance updates. But we could, of course, do it all remotely. A three-way call to the insurance company would clear everything up in one go. Or two calls. Maybe a four-way call. Could we put aside about three hours on Monday and Tuesday?
No, we most certainly could not. However, I could return, at my tremendous inconvenience, on Monday and make one. Last. Attempt. To stop the madness. If the madness did not subsequently cease directly on Monday, I would either depart the dealership with my money or would contact a lawyer even as I stood upon the very dealership’s sales floor.
That brings us, dear reader, to Monday. After a mere hour and a half of insurance wrangling (on my part,) double-checking (on my part,) and inspection (done by them, secretively, at a weird, grungy and nameless off-site “gas station” instead of at their clean and personable service department,) the blue Versa was mine. Also mine was a check for the value I’d lost on the sunroof and payments, a lower interest rate, lower monthly payments, and, apparently, the abject fear of a small bevy of traumatized car salesmen. Or low-level Mafia goons. Whatever.
Maybe someone big and mean will be by to rough me up over this idiotic fiasco (or this snarky blog post,) but honestly, after what they put me through for this car, they really ought to be concerned about what I’ll say about them on Yelp.