Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
3

Understanding the Difference Between Being Unemployed and Being Unemployable

The worst kind of job interview is over the phone. Who calls whom? Is my phone working? What if a creditor calls at the same moment the interviewer tries? Will the call be bounced? Will the recruiter leave a message? If they don’t call right away, how long should I wait until I call them? Do I even understand how my phone works? Do I even understand how interviews work? Should I shave?

In-person interviews, at least, have rules. Brush your teeth. Don't swear. But phone interviews? Once, a recruiter called me five minutes before the time we had set the interview. This really rattled me: I hadn’t [...]

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3

The People

These days we the people are emoting. And it’s not just Sarah Palin trumpeting around, and Carl Paladino mad as hell. Even people to the left of Attila the Hun are pissed. Jon Stewart’s rallying and calling the President timid. Tom Friedman is sad we’re not number one anymore. Mike Bloomberg is so fired up that he’s endorsed Meg Whitman to become governor of California.

What’s with all these people telling us what, and how, they feel? It very well could be the economy, but I think that the answer maybe has something to do with the word itself: people.

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10

Pop Quiz: Did Carl Paladino Say This?

Buffalo is buzzing over native son Carl Paladino, Republican candidate for governor of the State of New York. Given Buffalo's losing streak generally, Carl probably does not have a great shot at the statehouse come November. But recent polls do indicate that in today's Republican primary, Carl is virtually tied with Rick Lazio. You may remember Rick as the guy who wagged his finger at First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton on her march to the Foggy Bottom.

One gesture also epitomizes Carl and his supporters. Because if one political sign dominates front lawn acreage here in Buffalo, it is Paladino's middle finger of a sign.

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7

Elements of Stale: How I Have Missed George W. Bush

I had some questions for George W. Bush, but the ex-president is more elusive than Kanye West. I just couldn't figure out how to get a hold of him. What follows is my fake conversation with the son of the forty-first President of the United States of America. Which is to say, he actually said these things once. Just not to me.

LM: Mr. President! Just the person I've been looking for. I've been meaning to talk to you about this number kicking around mainstream media lately. I mean, I guess it's more of a proportion. A percentage, really. But a percentage just shows how two numbers [...]

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14

Six Area Codes In Which At Least One Collection Agency Is Located

6. 847 (Illinois, including Cook County)

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5

The Brian Hansen Poolhouse

Summer is creeping ever closer. In fact, here it comes! But first, a look back.

Back when crispy M&Ms were still in stores I used to lifeguard at the pool down the block from us. Most summer days the pool would get packed, and the only catch to swimming in it was that beforehand you'd have to flash your Town of Cheektowaga resident ID card to the attendants working at the front entrance. Cheektowaga is a blue-collar town just to Buffalo's east, comprised of people whose families lived on Buffalo's Eastside before black people moved there.

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29

Elements of Stale: Having Had Been Buffaloed

A friend emailed me last week. The subject line read: "Have you seen this?" The body of the email was without text-just a pasted in Wikipedia entry for "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo."

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8

Elements of Stale, with Luke Mazur: Leaving the Green Lane Country Club

Maybe some of that $15 million Columbia University just received for a center devoted to digital journalism can be used to figure out why there are, as of now, two Jersey Shore posts here on this website, over the course of just two days. The same grant can pay someone to parse how Avatar, Katie Roiphe's favorite authors and pop sociology intersect with any of this. Until then, let me do my part.

We know, from reading Newsweek, and from looking around, that our institutions and communities are eroding.

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9

Elements of Stale, with Luke Mazur: Sister, You're A Poet

So last Sunday I read an op-ed in the Times, where some dude argues in favor of Catholic priests saying Mass, while facing the direction opposite of the congregation. Now, this op-ed was most wacky to me not because of anything inherently awkward about facing away from the people you're talking to. (But, yes.) Or because Kenneth J. Wolfe assumes that there is very much of a congregation these days not to face. (Ha, I think.) But because I remember learning back in high school that the Catholic Church had already reversed this practice once before.

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17

Elements of Stale, with Luke Mazur: The Text

So in high school we were forced to buy this English language handbook called Warriner's. The book was bright red like an biohazard needle drop box, but that has nothing to do with the fact that the faculty revered it. Some teachers, particularly the much older ones, referenced it regularly. The Jesuits, who could be iffy on the existence of God and other metaphysical questions, were dogmatic about whatever the hell Warriner's decreed. Its rules of grammar and composition were gospel.

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33

Elements of Stale, with Luke Mazur: Extreme Bar Exam Makeover

So late last week, I learned that I failed the bar exam. I don't remember a ton from those two days in July. Which isn't too surprising, because apparently (we now know) I wasn't remembering much during those days either. I do remember, however, that at lunchtime thousands of future lawyers poured out of the Buffalo Convention Center and onto Niagara Square. There were more people outside in downtown Buffalo those two days than I could ever before remember. And they were from downstate too, and they were eating outside in the summertime just like they do in New York City. Even though I was failing a bar exam at [...]

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16

Elements of Stale, with Luke Mazur: The Mayor of Lovejoy

So last week I was wondering to what extent, geographically speaking, Beggars' Night was celebrated. Growing up in Buffalo, we always went trick-or-treating the night before Halloween, October 30th-Beggars' Night. And on Halloween…well I don't really remember what we did on Halloween. Watch Home Alone? Maybe we went trick-or-treating again? As a kid, I pretty much thought that the way we lived was the way everyone did. Our nasal, elongated vowels. Ordering chicken wings together with pizza. Living in the same place as basically all of your relatives. Six-years-old-me believed Beggar's Night was everywhere.

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44

Elements of Stale, with Luke Mazur: The Big Book of Friends

So remember how someone clever-ish wrote that with respect to social networking, Facebook is like your home and Twitter is a bar? That is, Facebook is for friends, family, Farmville and Mafia Wars. Twitter is for David Carr and Rainn Wilson tweeting movie titles, but with one letter off. You know: "Annie Hell" instead of Annie Hall, or "Chafing Amy" instead of Chasing Amy. Or "The Frying Game." (Spoiler alert: the egg has two yolks.) The possibilities are, like with any good bar game, endless. And also like This or That, Will It Float?, and Categories, the possibilities are also only funny or fun if you're hammered, or if you're [...]

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7

Elements of Stale, with Luke Mazur: Rush Rules/Obama Challenge

So I stayed in to watch Saturday Night Live last Saturday. I know you believe me, because, like my bio says, now I live at home with my parents. But that notwithstanding, I like to watch SNL, well, live. I'm sort of a news junkie and the 90 minutes of sketch comedy/whatever really tees up the Sunday morning talk shows for me. Remember that one Road Rules/Real World Challenge when Ayanna freaks out about sleeping in her game day clothes? Where she's so ready to compete that she sleeps in her uniform? Well, that's me every Saturday to Sunday. Except my uniform is sweatpants. And my competition is Jake Tapper [...]

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12

Elements of Stale, with Luke Mazur: The More Famous Flu

So I have swine flu. I mean, probably not, but I did get horribly sick last Tuesday. It's more logical that I just have the regular flu: more people get that one, and the symptoms as far as I can tell are pretty much the same. But because I've always been a sucker for common experiences-American Idol, paying attention to Major League Baseball playoffs, totally missing The Wire the first time around-I'm declaring this bout swine flu. Swine flu-not regular flu-has captured our imagination this year. Swine flu-not regular flu-is what gets Matt and Meredith talking on the Today show. And I want to be part of the conversation.

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11

Elements of Stale, with Luke Mazur: "Sorry"

I always considered David Letterman a sort of father figure. With two baby boomer parents, I basically have two moms: first, my dad who blogs and reads Sufi poetry and cooks with ghee and wears bright colors, and second, my mom, who is saint for signing up for this. And so, growing up I depended on late night talk shows for the little genderizing that actually happened to me. Letterman, his shoulder as cold as the notoriously freezing Ed Sullivan Theater, represented for me a sort of fucked-up machismo. Where you come to work hammered and laugh at your own jokes and swallow your ailments and anxieties and hurt so [...]

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7

Elements of Stale, with Luke Mazur: "How You Doin'?"

I guess I knew about Wendy Williams in the same way that our culture makes little girls know they should wear princess dresses or little boys know they should play with trucks. The kind of knowing that results from those culturally hegemonic signals that fall somewhere between English teacher favorites "nature" and "nurture." You know: how orphan Pip, bouncing from here to there all those years, was ever socialized. For example, I had heard Will Smith or Jay-Z or Lil' Wayne rap about a Wendy. And I remember how an old colleague of mine tuned into some Wendy for "you know, the gossip."

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