Friday, January 20

Lost Friday - "The Hunting Party."

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Season 2 - Episode 11 - "The Hunting Party."

Another Lost Friday is upon us. We have much to discuss.

Where do I start? I had been looking forward to this episode for weeks, knowing that it would finally set off the plotline that would lead us to the story behind the Others. Well, the fuse has been lit, the barrier has been broken and all bets are off. The stage has been set for an all-out battle between the castaways and Others.

Normally, this is where I'd paste Wikipedia's viewer-submitted synopsis of the episode. Not today. Not only do I think I can do a better job, but I'm doing this on a Wednesday night and there's nothing up on Wikipedia yet. Besides, I'm going to be busy for the next few days, so it's now or never.

And away we go:

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("I'm going to blow you apart like a gallon of ranch dressing.")

Michael goes completely off of his nut and knocks out Locke, taking a gun and heading off in search of Walt alone. Beforehand, he makes sure to lock up Jack and Locke in the chamber that's holding the weapons. Eventually, Kate and Sawyer come into the hatch and save the day. Sawyer, Locke and Jack get strapped and head out to bring him back, telling Kate to stay behind and man the computer. She obviously doesn't listen and heads out without them knowing.

Personally, I don't think that Michael is conversing with anyone on that computer. If he is, I don't think he's talking to Walt. If the Others wanted Michael, they would have taken him when he was on the boat, or again when he was with the tailies. He's not being led into any Other-induced danger; he's just wandering around because he's losing his mind.

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("Hey, have you seen my big-ass Dharma medallion anywhere?")

Anyways, before Michael takes off, he mentions to Locke that he knows things about the computer that he does not, and actually threatens to shoot it. When Locke starts to track Michael in the jungle, he realizes that he's headed in a different direction; obviously being directed by whoever the person on the other end of the hatch computer is (if anyone). After hearing some shots, they lay low and keep their eyes peeled. We still don't know who fired the shots and for what reason; Michael has yet to be found.

Meanwhile, back at the hatch, Charlie and Hurley listen to some obsolete albums and talk about random things. Hurley mentions that he might have a shot with Libby; with which Charlie encourages him to make his move. Why Charlie doesn't bring up the Smoke Monster incident is beyond me, but he gets an episode next week, so we shouldn't have to wait long. I also wonder why they didn't bring Sayid and Eko along for the hunt. Who better to bring on an Other-killing spree than the guy who obliterated two of them with a big rock?

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(Looks like a band of Others, if you axe me. I think the DeGroots are on the cover.)

In flashbacks, we see the demise of Jack and Sarah's relationship. Due to long hours at the office and their lack of contact and affection (not to mention failed attempts at having a child), Sarah informs Jack that she was leaving him for the man that she had been seeing for some time. This man isn't shown yet, but there is still plenty more to the Jack and Sarah story. Jack is clearly heartbroken, and we're left with him watching his wife walk out the door.

Personally, if my mate made six figures a year, I'd be a little more compassionate when they worked late and didn't have much time to talk. In the poker game that is a relationship, talking about feelings is three of a kind, making a ton of money is a straight flush, and making a paralyzed woman walk again is like, 6 aces. She sounds ungrateful if you ask me, and you most certainly did.

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("I can't believe I was on 'Party of Five' for 7 years.")

It should also be noted that in the flashbacks, people start to look to Jack as some sort of miracle worker. As news of his work with Sarah spread, people began seeking him out to operate on the inoperable. This aspect of living up to expectations is great insight into the 'Man of Science' Jack has become.

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(John Madden was found on a deserted island last week...)

Back in the jungle, the hunting party gets surrounded by Others, as we hear the unmistakable voice of the man on the boat who stole Walt (Mr. Degroot, perhaps?). Sawyer, who's now been shot more times than 50 Cent, fires a round at the man and has it ricochet back into his damn ear. A forcefield-affect seemed to be the culprit, which is just freaky enough to not be considered silly. The man informs the hunting party that 'this is our island,' and 'you live because we let you live.' He then orders them to leave their weapons and go back to the beach, clutching a freshly-captured Kate as collateral. They reluctantly oblige, and Jack is clearly furious with Kate the entire hike back.

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("Hand over your weapons, or I'll waste this completely disposable and unlikable character.")

When I heard the man's voice, along with him knowing the castaways by name, my jaw dropped open. I knew this episode would go good, I didn't think that we'd come face to face with the boat guy again. This is a huge moment in the course of Lost, as we now have established battle lines, and a confirmation that the Others are real people with a real goal.

During this conversation with the man from the boat, he informs us that Walt is fine, and is a 'very special boy.' That's pretty much all the information we get from him, before he disappears again into the shadows. He clearly wasn't afraid of the gunfire, as he knew he was being protected by whatever was surrounding him (Electromagnetics saves the day again!).

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("Mention 'Party of Five' one more time. I dare you!")

Back on the beach, Sawyer and Locke try to shake off what happened to them, now knowing that they might actually be outnumbered and outskilled by the Others. Meanwhile, Jack talks to Ana Lucia on the beach, and remarks to her that he wants to turn the castaways into an army, presumably in the hopes of claiming the island for their own. Things are about to get wild.

Fade to black; make with the numbers!

4. Who was Jack's wife seeing? Internet rumors are saying that it could be anyone, from Jack's Dad to Desmond. It would seem like the viewing audience would already know this mystery guy, but we'll have to wait for the next Jack-centric episode to confirm or deny.

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(The Others' torch technology is light-years ahead of our own.)

8. Also, a lot of people online were wondering who shot Sawyer. Almost nobody brought up what I saw from the start; he shot himself. 'Zeke' wasn't afraid of the castaways and their guns one bit; he even remarked a few times that the guns weren't going to do anything. When Sawyer took his shot (and who wouldn't?), it bounced off of some shield that 'Zeke' had up, and got sent straight back to Mr. Ford.

15. I don't know if you caught this or not, but when 'Zeke' orders a fellow Other to haul out Kate, he says, 'Bring 'er out, Alex!' If you remember, Alex was Rousseau's baby that was kidnapped by the others about 16 years ago. Is it the same person? Wouldn't make much sense to put that name in the script unless it meant something, so there's a good chance this is the Alex we had been hearing about.

16. 'Zeke' also says, 'From the dawn of our species, Man has been blessed with curiosity.' This is a quote from Alvar Hanso, who provided the DeGroot's with the funding necessary to start the Dharma Initiative. This proves that 'Zeke' knows Alvar, and could very possibly be Mr. DeGroot in the flesh.

23. Who in the hell is Geronimo Jackson? Sounds like a clue to me. The only real group close to that name was Geronimo Black, which was founded by one of the members of the Mothers Of Invention. One of their songs was called "Other Man," so take from that what you will (Ethan Rom).

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(Charlie finds a piano made completely of heroin on the shoreline.)

42. Charlie seemed mad jealous wen he saw Locke snuggling up to Claire and Aaron at the end of the show. This is a perfect lead-in to the next episode, 'Fire & Water.' Here's the press release straight from ABC:

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(Eko teaches Claire the art of the super-fly baby cornrows.)

"When Charlie's vividly surreal dreams lead him to believe Claire's baby, Aaron, is in danger, Locke suspects Charlie may be using again. Meanwhile, Sawyer encourages Hurley to act on his attractions to Libby."

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("So, you ever been with a huge guy before?")

There you have it. Another Lost Friday in the books. Start the discussion in the comments section and feel free to e-mail the CDP at CommunistDance@yahoo.com.

As always, here are links to all of the CDP's Lost Friday posts. They'll put hair on your chest. Unless you're a girl, in which case they will gently wax your upper lip and bikini line:

SEASON TWO - EPISODE 10 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 5
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 4
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 3
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 9 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 8 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 7 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 6 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 2
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 5 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 4 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 3 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 1 REVIEW
SEASON TWO PREVIEW

Thursday, January 19

Jeep Pizza. (FOX Sucks.)

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When FOX decided to cancel King Of The Hill after 10 great seasons, I was upset, yet I understood the business behind it. When they decided to pull the plug on That 70's Show after 4 great seasons and 3 terrible ones, I again understood completely. Even now that Arrested Development is biting the dust after 3 of the greatest seasons in TV comedy history, we only have ourselves to blame.

But now I see that Malcolm In The Middle will air its final episode this season, and I'm left to wonder if FOX is purposely trying to become the worst network on television.

Malcolm, like King and Futurama, became the latest casualty of the "Football Death Slot," essentially pre-empting and cutting their new episodes in favor of bonus football programming and postgame analysis. This happens to a new show each year; causing viewership and ratings to taper off into oblivion. Instead of doing something about it, the network merely casts these shows aside, as football draws better ratings than sitcoms.

American Idol can't run forever. Prison Break, 24 and House are doing great, but three dramas does not a good network make. Even the rumor that Futurama will return can't save FOX now; they have axed their varsity squad. What they're left with are third-rate comedies, horrid reality programming, Cops and the 17-year-old Simpsons. Good jorb, Rupert.

I give FOX credit for taking chances with groundbreaking shows. However, other networks are catching on, and FOX is starting to look washed up amongst the heavier hitters. What was once an edgy and hip network is looking long in the tooth and cranky, throwing cats at you from their front porch.

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Malcolm In The Middle was once the highest rated comedy on FOX. It raked in 15 million viewers a week, which is huge for FOX comedy standards (AD rakes in about 2 mil. at the most). For 7 seasons, Malcolm never waivered, giving fans a brilliant episode every single week. It surpassed the Simpsons in wackiness and writing, yet remained completely believable and charming. Instead of praising the countless Emmy wins and incredible strength of show, FOX took them for granted and tossed them around the lineup like a Jeep Pizza (reliable, yet tossable and tasty). Malcolm is essentially one of the most underrated comedies of all time.

The FOX Sunday night lineup ruled a few years ago. Futurama, King, Simpsons, Malcolm, Family Guy and Arrested were all shuffled around for 2 good years. Since then, every show but one has been cancelled, with Family Guy coming back for no reason other than money.

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This Malcolm news angers me more than the February 10th Series Finale of Arrested Development. Shows like that are doomed from the start, as they will never attract a big enough following on national TV. Malcolm would fit right in on any network, and has one of the best casts on the small screen.

So, here's my proposal to NBC: Turn your 'Must-See Thursday' night lineup into what FOX used to have; good, funny shows. Call it, 'Must-See, No Laugh Track Thursday Night, Sponsored By Ford:'

7:00-7:30 - Scrubs
7:30-8:00 - Malcolm In The Middle (Sign them to a 1-year deal. The kids are getting too old, but at least give them a chance to go out in style.)
8:00-8:30 - My Name Is Earl
8:30-9:00 - The Office
9:00-9:30 - Arrested Development
9:30-10:00 - New Episodes of Seinfeld (Force the cast to perform at gunpoint; no laugh track.)

I'm only half-kidding about this. Enough ranting, here's the FOX story, straight from Yahoo:

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Fox brings back "Idol" as curtain falls on sitcoms

Fox television, roaring back to prime time with mega-hit "American Idol" on Tuesday, said it was likely to scrap Emmy-winning ratings dud "Arrested Development" even as other networks made bids to pick up the comedy.

The News Corp.-owned network also said it was formally bringing down the curtain on two veteran comedies, "That '70s Show" and "Malcolm in the Middle," both of which will get their series finales in May.

Speaking hours before the premiere of a fifth edition of "American Idol," the No. 1 U.S. TV show last season, Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori voiced disappointment that "Arrested Development" was headed for the chopping block.

"It's highly unlikely the show is coming back, but no definitive final answer has been made on that," Liguori told a gathering of TV critics in Pasadena. "It's regrettable we couldn't find an audience that the show deserves."

A spokesman for the network's sister studio, 20th Century Fox Television, which produces the show, said two other networks -- ABC and Showtime -- had approached producers with bids to carry the series next year.

"We are currently considering the offers on the table," the spokesman, Chris Alexander, told Reuters.
Added Liguori: "It ('Arrested Development') is a studio property, and there is interest at other networks. It's the studio's right and (the executive producer's) right to put that up to bid."

He suggested that "Arrested Development" might be an especially good fit for premium cable channel Showtime, where the comedy's current average audience of just over 4 million viewers would rank it as a major hit.

"From a numbers standpoint, if Showtime were able to migrate the numbers 'Arrested' gets on Fox to Showtime, that would be by far its No. 1 show," he said.

The quirky comedy about a dysfunctional family has been a critical favorite since its launch in 2003, but has continued to flounder in ratings. A two-hour season finale, which is expected to be the show's swan song, is slated to air February 10.

As for "That '70s Show," Liguori said Fox is in talks with original stars Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace to bring them back to the May 18 series finale. "Malcolm in the Middle" will air its final episode on May 14 after seven seasons on Fox.

Fox, which has been lagging in the prime-time ratings so far this season behind its three larger network rivals -- CBS, ABC and NBC -- is expected to enjoy a big boost with Tuesday's return of "American Idol."

The program was the most-watched show on U.S. television last season, averaging more than 27 million viewers for its Tuesday night broadcasts and leading ratings among viewers aged 18 to 49, the group most prized by advertisers.

Done and done. Talk TV in the comments section. LOST FRIDAY blows your mind tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17

10 Stupid Jobs.

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Unless you're handicapped or some kinda jerkass, you have to work for a living. You have to do it; I have to do it; the American People have to do it. It's nothing I'm too happy about, but I take pride in knowing that about 85% of the population probably hates their job more than I do. That alone is refreshing enough to get me through the day.

I've got a pretty decent handle on my job. I make important decisions and change peoples' futures by the mood I'm in. I get to write expensive checks and charge them to Wisconsin taxpayers like myself. Sometimes I have to wear a tie. On Friday of last week, I used a Magic 8-Ball I keep in my cubicle to solve a problem I was having ('outlook not so good').

Even though things are going fine enough, I had much bigger plans for myself than to become an Exam Administrator. I feel bad that somewhere out in the workforce, there sits a guy who's only goal in life was to work with state codes and statutes pertaining to professional regulation, and I'm not appreciating it nearly as much as he would. It's not fair to either of us.

Even if I could get paid boatloads of cash to write full-time, I'd probably still find a way to be miserable. It's just the way I operate. Even the freelance stuff I do chaps my hide, mostly because it turns my hobby into a profession; which instantly sucks the life out of anything you enjoy. I don't care what you do for a living; chances are you'll get sick of it after a while.

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Do you honestly think that Babe Winkleman likes Bass fishing every day of his life? Not even millions of dollars, Blu-Blocker sunglasses and that sweet beard can keep a guy happy day-in and day-out, especially when he's coming home to his family reeking of dead fish and about 10 bottles of Blatz. It's just not logical, folks.

In my life thus far, I've had 10 jobs. Some of them didn't earn me a penny. Most of them didn't earn me a penny. I've quit 90% of them, and I've never been fired. I may have liked two of them, tops. I've had to do things I don't wish on anyone. I've also met some of the biggest weens alive.

Allow me to share my sordid employment past with you.

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Job #1 - Helping Out On The Olson Farm.
Length Of Service - 1989/1994
Salary - $0.00/hr.

I grew up on a farm; so when I didn't do a good enough job of busying myself away from prying eyes, I had to put my ratty clothes on and do chores. I fed calves, shoveled various feeds and animal excretions, herded cows and drove tractors. Seriously. Most of the time, I found various ways to almost turn myself into a double-amputee, but those are different stories for a different time.

For all the hard work, I learned a lot about a very difficult and thankless profession. I also got to hang out with hundreds of cats and bottle-feed baby calves, so it wasn't all bad. But for every baby puppy I got to hold, there was a cow that was all set to kick the taste out of my mouth, so it was a life and death trade off for most of the duration.

One summer, my Dad caught me and my cousin using my new golf clubs to hit rocks on the road, so we were subject to a week of 'hard labor,' baling hay in the 90-degree heat. It was the worst week of my entire childhood. Sunburns, every muscle aching and varying rashes on my body made it clear to me early that I wasn't going to be carrying on the family business anytime soon. I'm clearly not built to be a farmer; even hauling a gallon of milk to my car is a massive chore for me. Eventually we moved away from the farm, and I was allowed to throw away my filthy 'barn clothes'...

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Job #2 - Handing Out Flyers For Aluminum Siding Company.
Length Of Service - 1995
Salary - 10% Commission On Sales ($0.00/hr.)

Over summer vacation in the 7th grade, I went door to door, bothering people and sticking flyers everywhere for a home improvement business in Appleton, Wisconsin. I did most of my work in Winneconne, where I went to school. For those three months, I dragged around my then-girlfriend in the blistering heat, ringing doorbells and having shotguns pulled on me. I was shocked beyond words when she dumped me mere weeks later.

Every day, I would walk down every street, steaming with heat lines, as she trailed behind me with an ice-cream cone. I kept telling her how much money I was about to be making, and she did her best not to smash the cone in my face and walk home by herself. I can't remember what I was wearing at the time, but I can figure it was unappealing and sad. I wish she would have told me then that I was getting screwed over by this businessman. She obviously knew, but didn't feel like sharing.

The guy in charge of the business assured me that I would see hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars in commission should anyone bite on the flyers. I know now that he was staggeringly full of crap and a total fraudulent businessman. I had no choice in the matter then, however, because my Mom was living with this guy at the time. See, this is why I don't like to talk about the past a whole lot. I tried to quit once the summer was over, but Mr. Fraudulent Businessman had a bigger and better job waiting for me...

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Job #3 - Odd Jobs, Lawnmowing In Neighborhood.
Length Of Service - 1996
Salary - $10/lawn.

Freshly dumped and living with an aforementioned fraudulent businessman, I did what any teenager with dignity would do. I took my shirt off, put on some cut-off shorts, cried and mowed lawns all day. I mowed my Grandparent's lawn, the lawn at the Post Office where my Mother worked at the time, along with the lawns up and down my street in Appleton, Wisconsin.

We lived on a street full of duplexes in Appleton, next to a Hmong family of about 29, and a sad, single woman who used to watch me when I went rollerblading. Once, one of the Hmong girls broke her arm in front of my place. Before the ambulance got there, I took a good look at it and it was shaped like the letter 'S'. I almost threw up. Another time, I was selling pizzas for school, and I knocked on the sad single woman's door. She answered wearing a towel, and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen up to that point. Way better than the broken arm. Let's get back to the story.

The first two lawns in question used a push-mower, but the neighborhood job allowed me to use a monolithic Golf Course-sized mower (see photo). I was given approximately 10 seconds of instruction on how to use the thing, then I was left on my own to handle about 60 acres of grass. Within 5 minutes, I had gone right over the top of someone's brand-new baby tree (with them watching me, I might add), and within 10 minutes, I took a hard turn and crashed right through the fence separating the backyards from the busy highway. All true. I again got to quit once my Mother wised up and we moved out of the city...

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Job #4 - Cleaning The Steerhead Saloon.
Length Of Service - 1997
Salary - $20/day.

Back in my hometown, I started working for my Dad at the bar he owned. (Doesn't this all just SCREAM 'Wisconsin!' to you? I can't wait for Sufjan Stevens' take on the dairy state.) As it was, he also set aside the family farming business for a life of booze peddling. He needed someone besides himself to make sure the bar was in pristine condition before 8am, so it could turn into a vomit-soaked nightmare by 2am. Every early morning during the summer, I would bike a mile to the bar and get a move on.

Clearly, cleaning up a redneck bar is one of the filthiest jobs you can imagine. Stocking the coolers, wiping things down and scraping ashtrays is one thing. But scrubbing toilets and mopping up is yet another. Any and every bodily fluid was located in the bathrooms. Blood and teeth were mopped up on the dance floor. Ashtrays has spit in them. Everything was sticky. I damn near had a breakdown every morning. I took to making myself drinks and stealing quarters to play pool just to make the job seem worthwhile.

I didn't want to do the job anymore, but it was hard to tell my Dad that I didn't want to work for him anymore. Instead, I just started doing a progressively worse and worse job until he started to get angry. Every morning, I would plead with him to fire me, but he knew that would mean having to clean the bar himself. Eventually, we worked out a compromise...

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Job #5 - Bartending At The Steerhead Saloon.
Length Of Service - 1998
Salary - Maybe $50 a week, tops.

My Dad was known for making borderline illegal business decisions, and hiring his 16 year old son to bartend seemed to be one of those choices. In fact, there's no 'borderline' about it. He needed some additional help during football season, and he didn't want to have to pay anyone anything, so I was on the top of the list, throwing caution and child labor laws to the wind.

When you work in retail, there's a line of people who all need service. You help the people by who's next in line, and that works pretty well. When you bartend, there is no line, just 50 drunks waving empty glasses at you. Learning to make the drinks was hard; learning to assert myself around these people was much harder. Fights would break out. Vomiting was a nightly occurrence. Breasts that were never meant to be seen again were seen by all. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and by age 16, I was freaking Superman.

I took in next to nothing in tips, despite being the youngest bartender in the nation. I had to quit after the stress started messing with me, and the football season was over. I certainly didn't want to end up like the people I saw there every night, so I jumped ship and went looking for work in the city...

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Job #6 - Movie Theater Usher For One Day.
Length Of Service - 1998
Salary - $0.00 & One Free Movie.

I got hooked up to this job by a friend at school who worked there. I didn't really want it, but anything was better than bartending. Besides, if I couldn't find anything different, I would be right back at the Steerhead Saloon. My opinion was that cleaning a filthy theater was still worlds better than cleaning up a backwoods tavern.

The interview/training was unlike anything I've been a part of. It was basically 2 hours of training tapes about how movie theaters make 100% of their revenue through concessions, and that I needed to sell tons of them at all costs. Tickets meant nothing, and nobody cared who snuck in, as long as I moved product. I was offered the job, and accepted. I then spent the rest of the night taking in the luxury of a free movie, which was the Gus Van Sant remake of Psycho, arguably one of the worst movies ever made. I was fitted for a sexy usher's outfit, and was all set to return the next week.

Problem number one came up because I didn't have my own car. Borrowing my Mom's car every day for work just wasn't going to fly, and I didn't have money to buy my own. Of course, nobody around me had any money, either. Problem number two (the closer) came when I found out that I had to work on Christmas day, which is a big day for losers to go to the movies and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with a Jennifer Aniston flick. I quit over the phone, and sent the usher's outfit back with the friend that got me the job in the first place. Dejected, I hung my head low and looked for something closer to home...

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Job #7 - Clerk At A Hardware Store.
Length Of Service - 1999/2002
Salary - $6.25/hr, tops.

The Larsen Co-Op was right across the street from the Steerhead Saloon, so I didn't make it quite as far away as I wanted to. They were opening a new hardware store, and needed a nerd to run computers and make sure nothing blew up. My Mom got me the job, as she worked at the Post Office that was also right across the street from the Steerhead (Yeah, I'm from one of those towns).

For the next four years, through high school graduation and right up until I left for college in Madison, I wasted away there. You've read some of my accounts of the place in the past, and I honestly think I could write an entertaining novel about the stretch of time I was there. Things exploded, people died, sexual harassment was rampant, a 17-year old was having an affair with a married man with a hook for an arm. The rotten underbelly of Anytown, USA was alive and well in Larsen, Wisconsin. I lived on a steady diet of candy bars, Mountain Dew and microwavable hamburgers until I was 20.

I worked 13 days on, 1 day off, full-time after graduation, year-round. Seriously, I put a lot into that job. I was able to buy my first two cars because of the job, and have a steady, bill-free income to spend on the future Missus. In terms of expendable income, I'll never have another job that comes close to what I had there. I left there in the summer of 2002, and I haven't set foot inside since...

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Job #8 - College Student.
Length Of Service - 2002/2004
Salary - $22,000 debt; out of pocket.

I consider being a college student a job. Who wouldn't? Following a long line of doing things for myself because I had to, I bought myself another reliable automobile, got a tiny apartment with the Missus, and wrote a hefty check for a two-year music, sound and business program in Madison. Sometimes I went to classes. Sometimes, I slept until noon and never wore pants. Sometimes I went to classes without pants.

I did well. Very well, in fact. I got to learn a ton about music and music business, produced a few albums on the amazing equipment the school had to offer, and eventually got some writing work based on my degree. Sure, I'll be paying off the loans for the rest of my life (6 figures after interest), but what else could I do? The big city was calling, and I'm not down with suckling on the Government's (or anyone's) withered teat. I was getting sick of people thinking I was spoiled or lazy (based on what you know about me now, does that honestly sound anything like me?), and I had been taking care of myself for this long, so I have no regrets in the matter. The best way to handle things is to do them yourself, and there was no way in hell I was going to stay at the hardware store for another year.

I don't really talk about the college thing much, mainly because it was kind of a blur and it's not incredibly exciting to anyone but tech nerds like myself. The most important part of those two years were me and the Missus adjusting to roommate and independent life. We pulled it off without a hitch, and that's so much more important than my silly degree. Eventually, the loans started to take their toll and the Missus wasn't bringing in enough cash for our lavish lifestyle, so I used my charm and zero office experience to land a position at the State level...

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Job #9 - Receptionist/Mailroom At State DRL.
Length Of Service - 2004/2005
Salary - Dude, I worked in a mailroom. You figure it out.

In trying to get into state service, I blew a ton of interviews before getting the formula down right. One particular interview had me sitting bleary-eyed and delirious in front of a room full of suits. They asked me what my biggest flaw was, and I scoffed and murmured, "Modesty." They got my ass outta there pretty quick. Eventually, my current office hired me and I started on the ground floor, answering phones and opening mail all day.

Don't get me wrong, it was a nice enough job. It's just that I'm not built to answer 300 phone calls per 8-hour day. I don't like talking on the phone, although I was decent enough at it. Usually I did mailroom stuff, which allowed me to meet a lot of the higher-ups and establish contacts. People started to notice how efficiently and super-awesomely I got work done, and supervisors started fighting over me. Everyone, including myself, wanted me doing a job where I could use my brain and make decisions.

After a year of this, I interviewed for, and was offered a few higher-paying jobs downtown. I was loyal to my office, however, and played hardball for a job that I wanted in-house. Eventually, the bargaining paid off, and I took the position in the Examination Office that I hold to this day...

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Job #10 - Exam Administrator At State DRL.
Length Of Service - 2005/?
Salary - Just enough to not have to burn my cats for warmth.

Well, here we are. This was the State job that I fought for, and I'm settling in quite nicely. For the time being, it will pay the bills and keep the household happy. I've talked about this before, but basically I work with state testing for professional licensing. Doctors, Chiropractors, Real Estate Agents, Engineers, Nurses, Accountants, almost anything that you pay someone else to do for you, they go through me.

I keep quiet in my corner cubicle, bringing in another toy from the rumpus room every day for flair. The crew here is good, and my Exam Office only has 4 other employees, so that rules. I work under an 'Examination Specialist' that's on the verge of retirement, so if they decide I'm game to take his place, I can look forward to a salary of about $50,000 a year. Truth be told, I probably wouldn't take it even if they asked me. My job is stressful enough as is; I don't need the damn Governor and about 10 TV stations yelling at me because a serial killer got issued a Medical license.

We had a big Medical Board hearing here several months ago in the matter of a Doctor who sexually abused patients and colleagues. He was also an honest-to-God midget. When I got to work, there were protesters and news crews everywhere, waving signs and blocking the doorway. After the hearing was over, the midget in question was drowning in microphones and lawyers, and he started freaking the hell out. He was pushing people around and shouting obscenities. Some days here are better than others.

So, what have we learned about me? Well, I'm not all that lazy. In fact, I'm very goal-driven and task-oriented. I've had a lot of crappy jobs, most of which foreshadow equally crappy life experiences. My autobiography is a best-seller that doesn't exist yet, and I can't trust anyone else to take care of me but myself. I'm not a professional writer yet, but maybe it's better that way.

What have I learned about life? Well, I learned that Golf Course mowers need experienced drivers behind the wheel. Babe Winkleman is a fraud. A good way to die is to work on a farm. A good way to die inside is to work at a bar. All siding salesmen are terrible people. You can sneak into movies without getting into trouble, provided you buy some popcorn. Small towns are just as seedy as huge ones, if not seedier. College isn't so bad, and Hmongs have brittle bones. Those are rules to live by, people.

So, what will be Job #11 on the list?

Bikini Inspector, God willing.

Monday, January 16

I'm Having A Dream.

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Another week, another Commie Award. This week wasn't as cut and dry as the first, so I had to rattle off a few nominees who also deserved recognition.

And away we go.

Honorable Mention - Dwight Schrute.

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Dwight's overcoming of a nasty concussion on Thursday's episode of The Office was an inspiration to the entire Dunder-Mifflin organization. That was an unnecessarily long sentence, but he deserves it. His unblinking loyalty to Michael was the cause and solution to his problems.

Thursday's episode of The Office was one of the funniest things I've seen on TV in a while. The writing and acting were crisp as lettuce for 23 straight minutes, and I missed several jokes because I was recovering from the previous ones. I'm glad that The Office and Earl have become hits on NBC; here's hoping this will cause other networks to take a good, hard look at Arrested Development. Also, perhaps this will finally usher in the death of the standard sitcom; laugh track, live studio audience, etc.

Runner-Up - (TIE) - Mr. Eko & The Smoke Monster.

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On Wednesday's episode of Lost, fans were looking forward to finally getting a good look at the 'security system' that was terrorizing most of the castaways. Well, we got what we wanted, but nothing but more questions have been raised because of it. Mr. Eko's confrontation with the smoke showed us what was inside the monster; basically the thoughts and fears of whatever it happens to be staring down at the time.

Eko backs down to nobody, and eventually caused the smoke to drift off into the jungle. Because this ended in a stalemate, I was unable to award one over the other. When an immovable force meets an unstoppable object, well...you know. Now that the smoke monster has become a part of the regular cast, perhaps we can look forward to a flashback episode during sweeps.

WINNER - JAKE PLUMMER.

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Where Mr. Eko was having trouble taking down the smoke monster, Jake Plummer did something much more difficult, by taking down one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history. The New England Patriots have won 3 of the last 4 Super Bowls, and quarterback Tom Brady was an unprecedented 10-0 in playoff competition. All of the critics (including myself) thought the Patriots would march right through Denver and walk away with a bid to the AFC Championships. Sorry, dude.

Why does Jake Plummer rock so hard? Well, just look at the guy!

He doesn't look like a football player, he looks like a football fan. In a league full of pretty boys and precision passers, it's good to know that someone who looks like an alcoholic friend of my Dad can get a job as starting quarterback. His hair hangs scraggly out of his helmet, his 'stache rivals even Earl Hickey's, and he proudly sports an American flag-styled do-rag during games. Hilarious and awesome, Jake Plummer is my new favorite underdog.

That being said, I think I still want the Steelers to win the AFC Championship. More to come.

There you have it. I'll be enjoying Martin Luther King Jr. day by liberating my alarm clock from the oppression of waking me at 6am, and not leaving the house. Oh, I might get some cleaning done, too.

NEXT: 10 STUPID JOBS.