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small blue square Oh no! Jon Katz is leaving HotWired! No more twice-weekly columns of his there, although he says he'll be appearing elsewhere soon.

small violet square Nausea-inducing view into the head of the pointy-haired boss, from the "Wall Street Journal":

More employers are using fun to boost morale. All 25 partners at Certilman, Balin, Adler & Hyman, a New York law firm, are invited to a free conference-room lunch every day. Managing partner Bernard Hyman says the lunches began as a chance to talk business, but soon became anticipated social gatherings. "We tell stories, talk about the weekend," he says, "talk about the football game, talk about our husbands, talk about our wives, talk about our children." During lunch at JW Genesis Financial Corp. in Florida, Vice Chairman Joel Marks lets workers view his TV tapes, including "Seinfeld", "Mary Tyler Moore" and "Taxi". Terry Deal, business professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, says companies that bring play and celebration into the workplace often have higher profits.
How about that extensive workplace sample? Who considers partners of a law firm relevant to a discussion of employee morale? More tangential reactions to the above: although I enjoy the "Dick Van Dyke Show" <1>, I've never seen more than a few seconds of "Mary Tyler Moore". This makes me pure, at least in one specific, narrow wavelength of the spectrum of TV "culture". Speaking of life on-the-job, Scott of the great on-line journal Words has written up a Canada-centrique and somewhat wordy essay about Work; I especially agree with the points he makes at the end about the exploitive nature of the merging of work and social life. And speaking of journals, I'm reading through a new one G cued me to, with the apparent title of "Self-Realization Through Profanity," by a 20-year-old student in Richmond, Virginia. I find his attitude amusing - almost everything annoys him. Also his journal lets me know what I'm "missing" on TV.

small yellow square This has been bugging me.
I know this pair of old friends in Maryland. One is a struggling comic-book artist whose day job is in a coffee shop - he sends me odd postcards, and is computer-illiterate. The Other works for MCI, and has a wife&kids. They are both mere acquaintances to me. The Other requested my email address and turns out to be one of those spammers who think everyone he knows on-line cares about the web sites and jokes he finds while web-surfing, so he shares them. He's never sent an email specifically to me. After getting bombed (twice!) by his sending enormous multi-Meg executable files, I sent him a polite message (like one sends to a real mailing list) asking to "Unsubscribe" me from his own. (True, I offered no explanation, but I also resisted including any invective.) My email has been mercifully free of his messages since. A couple months afterwards (ie now) I get a postcard from the comic-book artist with this message:

(Other) has been sending things to you via internet. After a couple recent weird-picture sendings Other sez he got a rude, go away message back. You might want to drop him a note...
¿Que? The artist's personality is of the grasping, desperate sort which attempts to purchase friendship, ie he showers one with excessive gifts, and is then hurt when the appreciation isn't lavish enough, and reciprocal giving does not occur. Each year he always sends a card which mentions the date of his recent birthday, and descriptions of the birthday and holiday gifts he receives from the Other are also typical of this mostly one-way correspondence. The Other seems unable to initiate an email dialogue. (They're both comic-shop fan boys of the most indiscriminating type, who also collect action figures but never remove the packaging to preserve their "value".) This story isn't putting me in the best light, but there's more to the story which I feel unable to relate in such a public forum.

small red square 1974: College Days. "Disco" is so new we don't even call it that yet. A black man blows onto campus determined to make a name for himself - he sports the outrageous look now seen only on videotapes of blaxploitation films - for example, a full-length red leather jacket with Santa Clausish pink fake-fur trim. His huge red pimpmobile's vanity plate: "RUGGED". We read about him in the college newspaper - in an interview he claims to be "an athlete and an entertainer," and we learn that he prefers to be addressed as "Rugged Rose". He spins records at the campus happy hour, singing along with an instrumental, his theme song. Mostly the lyrics are repeats of his "name," followed by "solid soul" and a lot of "na-na-na-na-na-na"s. One afternoon he was in the apartment E shared with three other girls - it was never clear who brought him home, but they'd all escaped to their rooms, leaving him alone in the living room when I walked in. We shook hands - he was wearing leather driving gloves. The handshake was the only like it I've ever received, the trick handshake given by the bully - he squeezed my hand, hard, just before it had met his completely. I heard and felt my hand pop, and it hurt for days afterward. (I've learned since that if you're aware that this is coming, the defense is to tuck your thumb into your palm.) He faded away the following semester, as rapidly as he appeared. Sometimes I wonder what became of him - if this campus fame was the most he ever received.

Meg - Megabyte
TV - television
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<1>Trivia - Long before she played one of his co-workers on this program, Rose Marie was "Baby Rose Marie", a child singer who cut a record which is now the rarest, most valuable disk ever made.