Warning: Work and Fiction on Frankly Curious

Tower of Giraffes Hard at WorkDo you have any idea what I’m going through? Work is killing me. Yes, by Frank standards, I am rich! It seems like Scrooge McDuck rich. I mean, if I am running errands, I can just stop at a deli and buy a sandwich. I don’t even think about it. When I buy rice, I choose Basmati over Jasmine, because it is somewhat better, even though it is a lot more expensive. I’m rich! Rich I tell you! But I’m also totally stressed out.

I manage a gaggle of writers. (Look it up: it’s a tower of giraffes and a gaggle of writers — really!) And they have me in a state of anxiety. It isn’t because they are bad. It’s because they are great! Really: I’ve known a lot of “professional” writers in my day and most of them didn’t deserve the status of “writer” much less “professional.” But this group is really good. Some of them are — and I know this will shock you — as good as I am. But this sucks! Because it’s made me very paternal toward them. I worry that they get enough work and that they realize just how wonderful I think they are.

But it isn’t just that. There’s a whole technical side of things. And everything is different. The company I work for is typical of something that started small and grew from emergency to emergency. These are, of course, the best kinds of companies to work for. It means that they are run by creative people who don’t feel the need to plan everything out in advance. But it does leave me with having to remember a whole lot of weird things. And that would be fine if I were still 26 years old with a mind so sharp it could cut peas. But now I have a mind that is more likely to create a squished spot of green.

I think I’m going to post some of my fiction. It’s old stuff, but still work that I think is pretty good… I might even post the first episode of “The Post Postmodern Comedy Hour.”

When I started working seriously for this company, I tried to work four hours per day. Now, I get four hours in before I finish my tea. I could easily work 12 hours per day. But instead, but I love all you so much (and because this blog gives my life some sense of meaning), I work for about four hours, then I write the daily feature here (Like this exciting one!) and then I work a couple of more hours and then I write the morning posts and then I make dinner and then… Well then I spend the rest of the night trying to not end my day just further behind than I started!

And I can’t even take time off. I try! I keep very careful records of the work I do. So I will “sign off” — make a note in my spreadsheet. And then I will notice an email that has to be dealt with and this or that little thing, and before I know it, I’ve worked for a half hour and I figure: screw it, I’m back on the clock. Don’t get me wrong: I’m well paid and I have a great luxury in American life: I can work as much as I want at a job that I actually rather like with really fantastic people. (Really! You wouldn’t believe it! For the last eight years, the internet has been very low energy. We’re going to make the internet great again!)

So next week, I’m planning to get out of town for two days. I’ll still work, of course. I’m afraid if I stop working, the sun may not rise in the morning. I’m not certain, but do any of you really want to take the risk? As a result, I think I’m going to post some of my fiction. It’s old stuff, but still work that I think is pretty good. And if I’m feeling very adventurous, I might even post the first episode of “The Post Postmodern Comedy Hour,” which is probably the most perfect piece of self-expression I’ve ever written. But if you could put up with me whining about my life all these years, you can certainly put up with that!

Afterword

This is also meant to inspire me to work on “Donna Q,” which I’ve been playing with for months. You can probably guess what it is about. But would you imagine in all takes place in a Starbucks? No, I suspect not.

Anniversary Post: Fascism Begins

[This is a reprint of last year’s Anniversary Post, Fascism. It’s interesting that a year later, we are looking at Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination for president. A lot of people don’t like it when Trump is called a fascist. They claim that he’s more along the lines of a right-wing populist as we see in Europe. But I think these people are being pedantic. They want to confine the word to a very narrow definition. I think it is that after the Nazis, no one wants to use the word fascist to describe anything that is popular in the United States. But what are you going to do? Donald Trump is a fascist. Maybe he’s not exactly Mussolini, but then Hitler wasn’t either. -FM]

Benito MussoliniOn this day in 1919, fascism was born. It seems like only yesterday! Maybe that is because the United States has so many fascist elements to it — and I’m not just talking about the Republican Party. When the head of Whole Foods said that Obamacare was basically a fascist law, he wasn’t wrong. Neoconservatism is entirely in keeping with fascism in terms of nationalism and foreign policy. But neoliberalism has many similarities to fascist economic policies. I don’t know where we ever got the idea that the best way to improve the lives of Americans was for the government to “partner” with the private sector. I think neoliberalism has had a much greater negative impact on Americans than neoconservatism. Of course, the fact that most neoconservatives are also neoliberals (or worse) when it comes to the economy does tilt the argument quite distinctly away from them.

The reason that today is the birthday of fascism is because today is the day that Benito Mussolini started his political movement. Of course, fascism dates back much further than that. In fact, it is hard not to see fascism as fundamentally a movement trying to bring back the Roman Empire. I don’t think we should hold it against the Romans, given that they ruled roughly 2,000 years ago, but they had many of the same kinds of beliefs and policies that we know and despise in modern fascism. I think there will always be fascists, the only question is how much power we will allow them to get.

The American right wing has a lot of fascist elements. The biggest way is in their nationalism. That is probably the single most important aspect of fascism. But there are other aspects: authoritarianism, imperialism, traditionalism, racism, and anti-intellectualism — all of which are alive and well in American conservatism. There is one way that the American right is not like fascism. In its early days, fascism believed in workers being combined as an important part of the power structure of the nation. So basically, you had labor, business, and government all working together. American conservatives are not on board with that kind of thing. In that regard, they are more believers in feudalism. So you can say that American conservatism is very much like fascism, but worse.

Liberals, of course, are not like that. But the New Democrats (who continue to control the Democratic Party) have a number of similarities. But it’s like everything about the politics of America: the New Democrats generally suck, but they are so much better than the Republicans (who have been completely taken over by the conservative movement). A better argument could be made that Democrats are communists, but that doesn’t make much sense either. I think that most people on the American left wing see themselves ultimately as being in favor of a kind of Swedish socialism. And the worst you can say about them is that their markets are not as efficient as they ought to be. I don’t agree with that criticism, but I’ll take it if the conservatives will accept that there really isn’t much they have to disagree with Mussolini.

Happy birthday fascism!

[And welcome to America! -FM]

Morning Music: One More Minute

Dare to Be Stupid - One More MinuteWhen I was looking for an image to start this Weird Al Yankovic week, I was struck by something: Yankovic is a fairly attractive guy. Yet he goes out of his way to look like a goon. If early on he had gotten a proper haircut and never, ever grew a mustache, he would have been a mainstay on the cover of Tiger Beat. But I think he likes looking like a goon. And it works perfectly on today’s song, “One More Minute.”

I normally find Weird Al’s work clever. I don’t normally find it outright funny. But “One More Minute” had me laughing throughout. It is a doo-wop song with Jankovic doing his best Elvis in the low register parts of the melody. But rather than being an “I’m in love!” song or “I’m so sad you left me!” song, it is a bitter “Good riddance!” song. Basically, it is a long list of terrible things he would rather do than spend one more minute with her.

The best line in it is probably, “Honey, let me help you with that suitcase.” It kind of reminds me of Jerry Chesnut’s song Good Year for the Roses. In it, the singer is watching his wife pack, and he wants to say something, but all that comes is small talk. But not for our hero in this song. Check it out: