Friday, finally

Cartoon by Khaya Dlanga

It’s been a rough week. For the first time in my life, I had to fire someone. It wasn’t even my decision, although I couldn’t really dispute it. But as their manager, I was the one tasked with doing the dirty deeds: telling the employee, watching as they cleaned out their desk, and escorting them off the property. Couldn’t help feeling a bit like a Nazi guard. It didn’t help that it was a woman… in her 6os… with 20+ years at the company. I’m pretty sure that no one from work reads my blog. Nobody’s ever said anything. But that little bit of public knowledge is all I’ll say about it, other than… ick! So, that was my Happy Monday. It left me with a knot in my stomach the rest of the week. And I still have a job. Imagine how she feels about Mondays now?

Recently, a Post-Gazette Website poll asked readers about their favorite day of the week. Unlike some online polls, their results don’t say how many people have voted but it does have the current standings:

  • Sunday — 23%
  • Monday — 4%
  • Tuesday — 2%
  • Wednesday — 4%
  • Thursday — 3%
  • Friday — 21%
  • Saturday — 43%

Hmm. Me, I’m a Friday guy. I don’t care if I have to work; there is no better moment in the week than driving home at 6:00 p.m. on Friday. The whole weekend lies in front of you with a world of possibilities. I can understand the Saturday folks, and even the fans of Sunday (which probably would have polled higher in the fall). I was a bit surprised that Tuesday is so dissed. But then I figured the hospitality industry is throwing some votes at Monday, their traditional day off. And I remembered that about every job I’ve ever had has featured staff meetings on Tuesday mornings. Unless you work at Google, staff meetings are probably not a “feel good” moment in your week. How unfortunate is that?

Hey, I’ve got a poll button on this here blog. Let’s take it for a spin. I’m getting somewhere between 175 and 200 visits here a day. And while I know that 98% of you like to watch and not comment, I’m pretty sure that you can click a button on a poll anonymously. So, have an opinion. What’s your favorite day?

How cool is that? Come on, no negative campaigning about the other days, either.

Not that you’re gone, we just realized how great you were

The passing of Marvin Hamlisch this week was a great example of how under-appreciated people can be until they kick off. Last week, Hamlisch was the pops conductor (at a number of orchestras, including the Pittsburgh Pops) who wrote a lot of schmaltzy pop songs like “The Way We Were.” After his passing, we remembered that he also composed the great score of The Sting. We remembered that he composed the scores to 46 movies. Let that sink in a moment. 46 movies! He also wrote the music to the Broadway musical A Chorus Line. Say what you will about Phantom and Les Mis, A Chorus Line is the perfect 10 of Broadway musicals. It won a Pulitzer Prize, for Pete’s sake.  It’s the rare show in which every song is a gem that can stand completely on its own. It has a permanent place in the hearts of all present and former actors/dancers/singers. In a previous life, I did a run playing Zach the director (I also played Don in a later production). And, while I’ve been in better and more lavish productions, that was probably my favorite role and show. It’s almost like Hamlisch got it all out in that one score. He wrote some other musicals afterward but was never able to duplicate its success or popularity.

Still, Hamlisch is one of only eleven EGOTs — winners of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards. And he is one of only two EGOTs who also won a Pulitzer. (The other was Richard Rodgers for Oklahoma!)

Sorry we didn’t realize what a genius you were until you passed on. Go commiserate with Emily Dickinson and Vincent Van Gogh about that.

Dark Knighted

Saw The Dark Knight last weekend. I was very pleased that I was completely unaware of any plot twists. It’s one of those movies that won’t make anyone’s list of favorite films but still serves as a needed conclusion to the trilogy. I’m sure the producers would have loved to have reunited Batman and the Joker for this finale. That would have been epic. Bane just didn’t do it as a villain. After Heath Ledger’s tour de force, they went with a Darth Vader vibe. Not being able to see half his face and hearing a voice that was so obviously over-dubbed just didn’t work for me. An actor needs his mouth to act. Imagine the Joker with a bandana tied over half his face. Not nearly as scary or compelling.

And only the truly initiated are probably able to spot the Pittsburgh scenes. There’s the stadium of course, with our place-kicking mayor. There’s the big fight on the steps of Carnegie Mellon. And there are the downtown chase scenes in the Batwing. Loved the brief scene on 41st St. behind our house. (We live on 42nd.) It was Matthew Modine’s house and he wasn’t a judge. In fact, he seemed like a character whose part may have been left on the cutting room floor. That’s a big actor to hire for such a thankless and insignificant part. I’ll bet there was more to it originally. All in all, I was very satisfied, but I’m not sure it was equal to the level of hype it inspired.

Not bad for government work

Big props to NASA for landing their Google car on Mars. Isn’t it amazing what government can do when you hire the best minds and challenge them to achieve the very best? Look at that picture. One of our spacecrafts is taking a picture of another one of our spacecrafts over Mars. Amazing.

It makes me wish that a political candidate would make the case for better government instead of trashing the concept and making a joke out of it. This isn’t a partisan statement. Both sides are to blame. Republicans, because they want to be in charge of something in order to make it suck as much as humanly possible. Democrats, because they should be issuing JFK-style visions and challenges to make us strive for our best.

Why can’t college grads get money for college in exchange for serving in the government for five years after graduation? Inspire them to serve their county just as those in the military do. Instead of lowering taxes to historic levels and unleashing the private sector to do whatever they want, I think the majority of Americans would be willing to pay a little more in taxes if they knew it would go toward getting better roads, better teachers, better research, better healthcare, and better electrical grids and sewer systems. But who wants to pay taxes just to see more teachers and firemen laid off as their money goes to military contractors and BP subsidies?

Government is meant to do the big things that nobody else can do: build dams, inspect our food supply, provide education for all, keep an eye on big industry and finance, and even put a camera car on Mars. Boom! Done! We need leaders who will inspire us to think bigger, not smaller. We need to be inspired, not pandered to. Sure, we can be great as individuals, but we also can be great collectively. That’s not Socialism; that is something that is distinctively American.

Something to make you smile

To finish up. This is among the most awesome things I saw this week. If you are a Pittsburgh Blogger, you are probably already aware of it, but Burgh Baby has been busy creating a photography blog using sidewalk chalk, her daughter, and other children. It was highlighted on the Huffington Post. The results are amazing. See more of the photos here.

Sorry I was all over the map today. Enjoy your weekend.

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About carpetbagger

Tom and Jean are just a couple of Chicago transplants in Lawrenceville, a neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Posted on August 10, 2012, in Art, Misc, Pittsburgh, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I do love Saturday, but as it’s so often spent running errands (I think I tweeted once that SATurday should be renamed RUNurday), it’s not consistently my favorite. But, yes, that lift walking out of work Friday (at 4 p.m.!) and knowing I don’t have to be back for two whole days, makes it my favorite day. And knowing that I can “sleep in” Saturday, and maybe don’t even have to turn on my alarm!

    Sorry you had to fire someone. That sucks.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. I’m also a Friday Night man. I’ve written before, there’s nothing like that feeling when I’m going down the elevator at 5:00, knowing that there is a whole weekend of possibilities awaiting me. (Which I then ignore to peck on the computer and watch ESPN.)

    I always intertwine Marvin Hamlisch with The Sting. Loved that movie, and my parents had the soundtrack. Didn’t know he was an EGOT. Does the 11 include Tracy Jordan?

    I spend a great deal of time during Batman trying to figure out what Bane’s accent was supposed to be. Sometimes it seemed English, sometimes German, sometimes, who knows? It was like Wilford Brimley doing Darth Vader.

    My grand Democratic proposal is that the Government paint in all the state lines, so that the landscape looks really cool for air travelers. Especially New England.

  3. I voted. Sunday. What? I work 12 hours on Saturday. So Friday is just a prelude to my torture. Sunday is a day of rest.

    I agree with you 100% about the government. Completely.

    Also. I’m sorry you had to fire someone. I remember when Matt had to do it and it still makes him sad. Even though he totally deserved it. Doesn’t make it easier.

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