Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Maybe I should be a Mariachi musician?
Bear with me here; maybe this idea ain't as nuts as it sounds...

Normally my eyes glaze over when I see a big expose-type news article, but sometimes serendipity strikes and I find my mood to be quite receptive to long explanatory things, 'specially if it's stuff that people have been talking about for ages, and I find myself thinking, "okay, time to get some perspective on all this". It was a story in the regional newspaper about the financial mess Washington Mutual (Wa-Mu) has found itself in. It seems that those who worked in the higher echelons of the company were laboring in a veritable sweatshop environment, being forced by their superiors to make massive amounts of loans to all kinds of people, never mind that the loans might not get paid back, 'cos after all, Wa-Mu was growing faster than a metastastic cancer, becoming the biggest company in the business, which in turn, would mean more and more loans were made, 'cos after all, Wa-Mu was so big and so easy to get a loan from...
So what's all this got to do with being a Mariachi musician? One example in the big Wa-Mu news article was about a guy who came into the company's loan offices to take out a Big Loan. A Rilly Big Loan. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, Mr. Loan Officer, under severe pressure to Make As Many Loans To Everyone And Their Dog As Possible, thusly interviewed the prospective Loanee: "What do you do, sir?" "Ay, Carramba, Senor, I'm a Mariachi Musician". "Well, do you have any proof of big income in the past, so that we don't assume a lot of risk in granting you the loan?" "Well, no, senor, but I do have a guitar and a sombrero at home if you'd like to take a picture." "Aha", the loan officer thot to himself, "well, he's got to be a seriously dedicated Mariachi Musician if he's willing to dress up like the Frito Bandido to play music; who else would go out in public looking like that?" With that, Mr. Loan Officer reached across the table to shake Mr. Mariachi's hand, saying, "heck, if you're a Mariachi Musician like you say you are, well, of course we'll grant you a huge loan". Mr. Mariachi then profusely thanked Mr. Loan Officer, knowing all the while that in order to pay back said loan, it would take 20 to 25 years' worth of Mariachi Gigs in order to pay for just the First Installment of The Loan. Wheeeeee!!!
I'm ready to put on my Mariachi Boots and find one of those weird guitars and stamp my feet on the cold shiny tiles of the Nearest Bank-Related Loan Office; let's go! And I'll be in the money for sure. No more playing Beatles songs for me, not when I can make serious money playing Mariachi Music, for which I'd risk heading South of the Border if someone from the bank ever elected to check into my credentials. Heck, money goes further in Mejico anyway. Wheee! Baja, here I come! Another related article said that the Banks aren't saying Where the Federal Bailout Money went; let's just assume that a bunch of it's been stuffed into selected big hollow Mariachi guitars around the globe. Actually, this Mariachi thing reminds me of the old Bic Pen commercial, the one where some kind of gaucho-guy was stomping his heels, only he had a Bic Pen strapped to the heel of one of his boots, and every time he stamped his foot, the tip of the pen would strike the floor. The point of the commercial was that you could stomp and stomp and stomp and not wreck a Bic Pen. It should be noted that was waaay back when the entire tip of the pen was made out of some kind of impervious metal. Not anymore; look at the tip of a Bic Pen...the only part that's metal is the very end, where the little ball-point-thingy is...the rest of it? Genuine American Plastic, imported from somewhere else.

Everyone knows poor folks are having a rough time in today's economy, that we're all tapped out, that we're buying less and less the poorer and poorer we get. But, this isn't a problem which is affecting only the poor; it seems that folks who are more well-off are also having to make some painful financial decisions. I read this in the newspaper, so it must be true...a clerk at Saks 5th-Avenue ritzy-glitzy store in New York City recently said something along the lines of, "some customers used to come in and by a dozen pairs of $700-dollar-a-pair shoes, but now we find they're only buying a couple of pair, so this recession is really hitting us hard"...I suppose now America will have to make further class distinctions in the more affluent categories...there are the Rich, then there's the Not-Quite-So-Rich, and at the bottom of the scrap-heap, the Just Barely Rich, and it's probably those folks who can afford to spend only $1400 on Saks' shoes at any one time. I'm 54 years old, and I don't think all the shoes I've ever worn in My Lifetime would even come close to HALF of $1400. I can just see it now: Cheap Rich People going to Payless Shoe Source, buying several hundred pair, and sewing onto them the trademarks of their old worn-out Saks' Fifth Avenue Shoes which they used to be able to afford.

Finally, I just spent a complete day in Computer Purgatory. That's the place that claims all of us sooner or later when our computers Start Acting Weird. I made three Tech-Support calls; two of them were handled by tekkies in India, while the other call was handled by someone in the Phillippines. I don't know why, but it seems that those to whom English is a second language, feel compelled to speak English three or four times faster than I can listen, so that the average tech support call sounds something like this: "Okay, Sir, my hard-drive is acting weird; what do I do? To which the foreign tech support tekkie says something that sounds like, "Tskkf, uosovweb jkud sopre iwmbv kdsjd wysadolfv sld sdif ewpotrhyi ewsihedff." "Sir, What did you say? I can't understand; please slow down your speech a bit." To which the tech support person takes a deeeep breath, then says slowly and carefully, "Dkjdsyrfp swkgfh suy idke ichonotflotti." Hoo-boy. It was one of those days. FINALLY, the last tech support person, who I also had difficulty understanding, asked me if I just wanted him to Take Over My Computer. "YES!!! DO ANYTHING!!! THIS IS HELL!!!", I thot (I may have actually said it; who knows?) So then he activated a program which enabled him to actually crawl thru the phone lines, into my computer, and I watched as he moved the mouse and clicked, then clicked again, then clicked some more, and WHAM, the problem was fixed. Just like that. For a brief moment, someone else had control of my computer, which is only fitting, since most of the time, This Computer Controls Me. It calls to me when I enter the room..."come here and activate my keyboard, big boy...you know you can't stay awaay from me...come on over and play computer games with me, you brute, you..." And on that, I'll end this post now before it gets any weirder than it already is.

But before I go...(see? I couldn't stay away)...Another article I took notice of in the paper was, that President-Elect Obama still hasn't totally quit SMOKING yet. With every cigarette he inhales clear down to the filter, he is bit-by-bit assassinating HIMSELF. Quit, Mr. President-elect; set a good example, please?


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