Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Wife Fights the Hillbillies

Here was the scene: we put out our trash and recycling last night. Less than a minute after we went back inside, we came back out to fetch the cat. Our hillbilly neighbors were taking all the bottles from our recycling. That's when the fun began.

Wife: Can I help you?
Female Hillbilly: We're just grabbing the recyclables.
Wife: I can see that. I don't want you digging through our stuff.
Female Hillbilly: I don't do that, he does (pointing at Male Hillbilly).
Male Hillbilly: I only take the bottles and cans. I make money off those.
Wife: Yeah, but I don't want you digging through our stuff.
Male Hillbilly: I don't dig through your stuff, I just get the bottles and cans.
Wife: Yeah, why don't you stop digging through our stuff?

Hillbillies walk away...

Male Hillbilly: Well that was bitchy!

Later, the wife went back out and was nicer, saying that she was just surprised to see our neighbors going through our recyclables, and that we'd leave any bottles and cans out for them next time. And to clarify why we're concerned... we have big recycing bins that hold paper, plastic and cans, all mixed together. Someone fishing for cans could find personal information, although we try to shred anything questionable. The wife went over there mostly out of the fear that they'd retaliate in some way, like by breaking in or slashing our tires. While over there, Female Hillbilly said "We don't dig through your recycling," later adding, "Well, we haven't dug through your recycling in 3 weeks."

We had to call the police on these same hillbillies last week, when the younger guy who lives there got in a loud, drunken, and profane argument with the older guy who lives there. They were this close to physically fighting. Officers put at least one of them in the squad car, although I don't know how it all ended. I don't get these people at all. It's like their house is just a backdrop to their lives; everything they do is outside. The older hillbilly man has a ponytail and wears a lot of turquoise, and always is drunk. On a nearly daily basis he is outside the home, swearing loudly at the woman who is inside the home. And no matter the weather, they seem to spend most of their time in or around the front yard. I don't understand.

The house next to them went up for sale, after being a rental. It didn't sell, but that likely has more to do with the economy and the house being over-priced. However, we did notice that the hillbillies cleaned up their front yard, got rid of some of the trash on the front of their property, and actually planted a little garden. We wondered if they were changing... perhaps kicking drugs or booze or something. What we later learned from another neighbor, is that the realtor trying to sell the house complained loudly and long enough to the city about their squalid home, that somebody came out and threatened to fine them if they didn't clean up.

In some ways, they're reasonably resourceful people. We saw them brewing their own wine in a carbuoy in the driveway recently (mind you, it was sitting on top of the broken down washing machine). They scavenge for bottles and cans, and appear to get by. But without jobs, I wonder how they afford to live. Our neighborhood is reasonably nice. It's sort of on the edge of where the trendy neighborhood ends and the trashy one begins, so there's definitely some spill-over. My guess is that they inherited a home from a more successful and ambitious ancestor. We're just crossing our fingers that enough of them will get arrested, or they won't be able to make whatever payments they have to make to stay in the house, and they'll be forced to move out.

I give the hillbillies about $4 worth of empty beer bottles.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Should Grow a Pair

One of the occasional perks of working in local TV news is that we sometimes have celebrities in our building. Not the anchors or reporters, whose status as "celebrities" I find somewhat dubious, but actual honest-to-god celebrities.
For example:

I once saw Bill O'Reilly poke his head into the newsroom. He used to work at my station back when he was an honest newsman (or as close as he ever came), and was back to do a taping for his god-awful show. It was kind of odd. He walked in, half inspecting the newsroom, half waiting for us to shower him with attention. I don't think he anticipated that no one would react in any way to him. It was kind of awesome that nobody acted like he is a big deal.

Also, Rob Neyer of ESPN fame occasionally tapes satellite feeds from our building for ESPN and other sports shows. I've walked right by him, knowing who he is, but saying nothing. He actually lives in Portland, so that's why he's at our building. I was just reading his book, which gave me a perfect opportunity to say hello, and yet, I didn't.

We had Harry Shearer of Spinal Tap and Simpsons fame on our entertainment show, AM Northwest once, doing an appearance with his musician wife. One of my coworkers ran over to the cd shop a couple blocks away and got some Spinal Tap CDs for him to autograph. I was too sheepish to follow suit.

And that brings me to today's lesson in futility. Author, radio essayist and kick-ass human being Sarah Vowell was in our studios today for AM NW, and I watched her on television at my desk. I could have just walked down there and said "Hi, you're great. Let me shake your hand." But instead, I just went "Oh my god, look! It's Sarah Vowell" to no one in particular.

Sarah Vowell's Appearance on AM Northwest

I guess the main reason I don't go up is that I don't want to bother the person. I figure most of these people are like the rest of us (O'Reilly excluded). If I were a celebrity, I don't think I'd want people falling all over themselves to meet me all the time. I spotted Will Forte of Saturday Night Live at the Seattle Airport this summer, but he was wearing a baseball cap pulled down, and I figured he just wanted to fly wherever he was going anonymously. I really like his comic sensibility. He brings an element of absurdity on SNL, and I would love to ask him about his writing for the show "Action" on Fox. But I left him alone.

I give my cowardice one empty scrotum. I should grow a pair.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Back to School

Some of you know this, others don't, but I'm taking a class at the local community college on website design. The certificate program takes one year to complete, if you're going full-time. I am obviously not. However, I think I'll take more than one class next term, and will be able to get through it in a year anyway, if you count the summer.

It's not that I want to design websites for a living, although there are worse jobs in the world. I really want to make myself more versatile, and more attractive to employers. I already know how to write, and how the media works. I want to be able to produce in multiple media, and get hired for P.R. or something similar. I've had trouble finding a different job, even though I've applied for numerous things. With our awful economy and my relative inexperience in the field, I realize that in order to get a good job, I need someone to take a chance on me. That doesn't seem to be happening, so I'm trying to take steps to make myself a better risk for an employer. A coworker and friend of mine is getting out of our current work, and I have to say that I'm jealous. She's not getting into a field I'm interested in, but it does provide some hope to me that there's something else out there for me. Wish me luck.

I give learning new skills and expanding myself... oh... about $500 in tuition and software.