Thursday, December 29, 2005
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
For about four years, I lived in an apartment in Santa Ana. Some of you saw it. Some of you survived it. One thing about it (pertinent to this blog entry), I never painted the walls. Nope. Not once.
I’m not big on painting. Never have been. In fact, when I owned my home with Rosa, I only painted one room and that was the kitchen and that was because it was yellow from years of chain smokers who lived there before us. Notice I don’t say I painted the room with Rosa. Actually, I painted it with Sean Roberson. If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have painted the ceiling! (He was tall, you see.) Sean was a huge help. He’d take me outside to have a cigarette every time I started ranting about how Rosa wouldn’t help.
Before that, all of my painting experience dwelled within my mom’s house. We used to paint very often when I was a child… and always white. My mom had an affinity for white; I don’t know why. We’d paint about once a year, it seems, and we’d always paint white.
How did we paint? With brushes and rollers, putting up a couple of layers and moving on along.
… which brings us to this week.
Vicky has a week off work and has decided to paint the guest bedroom/future-baby’s room. Words cannot express the attention she’s giving this room. She’s amazing. She has this single-minded energy… makes me wish I was a wall! She patches! She sands! She primers! She textures! She paints! On and On!
Me? I stand back and watch. I’m not getting in the middle of that!
When I started the book, I wasn't sure how this would all fit in. I figured the Hotel Oatman would be somewhere the characters would stay. I figured they'd go up the road that cut through town, that road being Route 66.
What I didn't know was that the main character's older brother would be, um... how do I say this?... confused about his sexual identity. I didn't realize that Matt, the character's name, would be giving blowjobs to anonymous dicks through holes cut in the stall of public restroom. I didn't realize that this would dovetail so well with a sister who used sex as a weapon and a brother so wrapped in guilt about a relationship. I knew these characters would all have problems, stemming from their very dysfunctional family, but I didn't know the specifics when I took the pictures.
So, it was that I wrote a scene today that took place in Oatman. Two of the the characters are looking for each other and find each other in front of the general store. I had taken a picture of the general store.
And when I looked at it, I saw the sign that bore the store's name.
The store's name?
The Glory Hole.
... so be careful what you name things.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
BANANA BREAD EGG NOG SOUP!
Vicky and I just got in from an afternoon with family to find that we'd left a piece of banana bread on the counter. It was pretty stale. It was really stale. The only thing that made it better was a swig of egg nog. Vicky said, "Why don't you just put it all in a bowl?"
OF COURSE! Why hadn't I thought of that???
So, here's how to make BANANA BREAD EGG NOG SOUP!
Take one piece of banana bread and break it up into a bowl. Pour in enough egg nog to cover. Then, let it sit and soak for a minute.
What you have then is, well, dare I say it? It's an orgasm on your tongue - that's what it is!!!
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Yep, I started the new job yesterday.... oy. That's all I can say. Oy.
You know the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for?"
The grass is always greener?
I'm sure I won't hear the end of this?
Well... it turns out that the new place has been dying for a "top-notch writer" since their last one left some months ago. Their last "top-notch writer"? NO! Their last "didn't-know-what-the-fuck-she-was-doing writer"!
Now, I find myself not only cleaning up her enormous messes and a backlog that makes Katrina look a bit humid - but my new boss expects all kinds of shit from me and... well...
I may actually have to ... gasp ... work!
... son of a bitch...
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
... but thinks the war was the right thing to do!
No punchline here. It's revolting.
There's been a lot of hubbub lately about the "dangers" of violent video games. ("Hello, Senator Leiberman!") Well, this MIT professor has a thing or two to say...
Here's his take on violence (but the whole thing's a great read):
According to federal crime statistics, the rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30-year low. Researchers find that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population. It's true that young offenders who have committed school shootings in America have also been game players. But young people in general are more likely to be gamers — 90 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls play. The overwhelming majority of kids who play do NOT commit antisocial acts. According to a 2001 U.S. Surgeon General's report, the strongest risk factors for school shootings centered on mental stability and the quality of home life, not media exposure. The moral panic over violent video games is doubly harmful. It has led adult authorities to be more suspicious and hostile to many kids who already feel cut off from the system. It also misdirects energy away from eliminating the actual causes of youth violence and allows problems to continue to fester.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
So, I was driving into work today on the 55 freeway. Right around 4th Street, a car two lanes over gets a flat. His left-rear tire practically explodes! You can hear it thumpity-thump on the road - because he keeps going. Oh, there was a moment of swerving there but he stayed in his lane. He kept going.
We pass 1st Street. We pass the 5 freeway. Then, his tire just shreds off the wheel - it leaps right off - jumps into the lane beside me!
But, he keeps going. You can hear the metal screeching on the pavement. But he keeps going.
We pass McFadden.
Suddenly, he veers to the right and exits on Edinger.
And this is exactly how my life has been. About five years ago, I got a flat of monumental proportions... but I kept going.
And it's about damned time I got off the road.
What the hell am I talking about?
I went into my boss' office yesterday. I was hired over five years ago as a marketing writer and was asked to help with technical manuals. When this guy started three years ago, he decided that I would do NOTHING but write technical manuals. Oh, he didn't decide right away. I wrote some ads for him and he loved them. If he didn't, he shouldn't have had me do them over and over. But after about a year, a couple years ago, he told me, "We don't hire marketing writers. You're a technical writer. Your job is to make widgets. And you're going to keep making widgets as long as I'm in charge."
A few month later, he brought some friends on board... as marketing writers. The both sucked horribly. One of them even quit.
I went in, acknowledged the new opening, and asked him if, since I was hired to do that job, he would consider me for it. He said, "No."
But not right away.
First, he told me that the job was being "retooled". Its duties would now include managing the writing staff in addition to marketing writing. So, I wasn't qualified.
Did I mention I was also the manager of the writing department before he started? That I was removed because he didn't like my crazy ideas, such as "proofreading", because they were a waste of time? So, there are two jobs I've done at this company and have done well... for which I am not qualified.
Normally, this would devastate me. You see, the big secret is, I like my company. I think it's capable of being a first-class company with first-class products. They are the number one networking company, by virtue of the amount of cash they spend on PR, but they still put out a crappy product with crappy documentation (no thanks to my attempts to improve it - see "Proofreading") and crappy customer service. I want to help make it a good company. I'm just not allowed to help. I'm shut out of the process, which is a horrible feeling.
I say "normally" because, yesterday, things changed.
I decided to leave my horrible, nightmare job.
I decided just a few minutes after getting myself another job.
I decided after getting a job that pays a lot more with people who seem (on the outset) to respect me and my abilities.
So, I looked at Mike, thanked him for his "honesty", and handed him my letter of resignation.
First, I'm rid of Rosa. Now, I'm rid of my nightmare job. What's next? A published novel?
... let's just be happy I found a new job for now.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Instead, let's talk about music.
I was driving in to work today and, as I'm listening to Stephanie Miller, my internal radio decides it wants to listen to something else. (Nothing against Steph - LOVE her!) What does it put on? Darryl Hall and John Fucking Oates! Swear to Gawd! I suddenly have "Say It Isn't So" going through my head!
And that's not the worst part.
Oh no, dear friends. I gets worse!
The worst part is... I'm liking it!
It's a kind of upbeat, peppy song. Sure. I can remember "back in the day", before it became fashionable to mock the Hall and the Oates, they had a certain cubic measurement of coolness. I even remember being in my first band and discussing the possibilities of adding a H&O cover. In fact, there was once a time when I very nearly got laid after singing "Sara Smile" at a karaoke bar. (I say "very nearly" because it was a very close thing... but I was married... so...)
Maybe, I thought as I drove, they weren't so bad. Maybe it's time to pull out the old "Hall & Oates Greatest Hit" CD that's hiding amongst the "H"s in the CD cabinet. Maybe...
Then, I got to work and, being the dolt that I am (don't laugh - I'm sure you're all adolts!), I decided to look up some lyrics online.
Say it isn’t so painful to tell me that you’re dissatisfied.
Last time I asked you I really got a lame excuse.
I know that you lied.
Now wicked things can happen...
you see ’em goin’ down in war.
But when you play in a quiet way that bites it even more.
Tell me what you want yeah
I’ll do it baby I promise right now.
Who propped you up when you were stopped low motivation had you on the ground.
I know your first reaction you slide away hide away goodbye.
But if there’s a doubt maybe I can give out a thousand reasons why.
You have to say it isn’t so...
[it isn’t so].
... oh ... my ... god...
Insipid doesn't quite cover it.
Lame? ... Close.
What was I thinking?! Hall & Oates did suck! And I was giving them air time in my mental radio?! (Ah, make that "neuron time") I felt so disappointed. What's next? "Man-eater"? "Adult Education"???
But then, I thought I'd try to redeem them...
Baby hair with a woman’s eyes
I can feel you watching in the night
All alone with me and we’re waiting for the sunlight
When I feel cold you warm me
When I feel I can’t go on you come and hold me
It’s you... and me forever
... not so bad ... almost good...
But you gotta be careful what you play, in your noggin or elsewhere, my friends. (And, seriously, BEWARE anything from Big Bam Boom...)
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I'll give you an example.
And I won't have to go to extremes like the Holocaust or the Titanic (both the boat and the movie) to prove my point. I don't have to go any farther back than Saturday... at Knotts.
Because I just remembered the most horrible of all atrocities: Snoopy on Ice!
As previously noted, Billie and Dan went with a multitude of nieces and I went with Vicky. And they asked me, "Do you want to go on Snoopy on Ice?" and the preferable form, "Would you like to SEE Snoopy on Ice?"
They asked me over and over and over.
Believing that options suggest choice, I chose. I answered, "No." Why? I think it's obvious. Shows like Snoopy on Ice or Mickey on Steam are, by their very nature, children's shows. Can we agree on that? Okay. Well, I'm neither a child nor do I have a child. Vicky was free to see it but I just didn't want to. Not my cup of tea. Thank you. No.
And this brought the immediate response, "You know you're going to have to see this when you have kids."
I hate answers like this. I mean, what are they trying to suggest? That I should surrender my last few months of freedom just because I won't be free later? Hell, I might as well get a pacemaker now! Where's my walker?! Look, we're not even sure any child of mine would LIKE that kind of stuff. Try to imagine a little Ken running around - do you see him wanting to see Goofy on Mist? There's a chance he won't. Are we to force him, too???
Thankfully, Vicky's not the kind of person to guilt me into seeing stuff like that. (Not that she doesn't guilt me into other things - she IS a woman, after all.) She was happy with the Mystery Lodge... actually, that may be exaggerating...
Meanwhile, I'll bide my time in the hopes that by the time my child is old enough to go to things like Snoopy on Ice, the take out the ice skates and replace them with skis... at high speed... through a mine field! Now, that's family fun!
Monday, December 05, 2005
But I can't help it. It's who I am!
So, we went to Knotts Berry Farm this weekend and I was, let's say, less than enthusiastic. I know I should have been. After all, we were getting in for $10 each, thanks to being a friend of a cop and a fireman. (That's Billie and Dan, in case you didn't know.) (Cop & Fireman... you know... public servants... people the Revolticons hate.) Billie was there with my book, With Eyes to See, telling me how much she LOVED it. What's not to like.
By the way, they were there with some nieces and... well, other nieces. When they asked what the book was about, Dan said, "It's about people who gouge their own eyes out." And these kids are TINY!... Granted, the book is about people who gouge their own eyes out...
So, we got inside and we're going from ride to ride and I am, let's say, underwhelmed. I'm grumbling in all the lines for the rides - though, I will say, there are hardly any! But, really, Knotts is the smallest amusement park in the world! If Disneyland was so small, they'd call it Disneyroom! If Magic Mountain was that size, it would be Magic Mound!
But I got better as the day went on and I even shopped with Vicky at all the little shops. Actually, it was mostly little shops. What the hell is with all the little shops?! We went from shop to shop to shop to... and my feet started to get tired.
All day long, I was trying to convince Vicky to go on Bigfoot Rapids, one of those white water because they put soap in the water kind of rides. One of those rides where they say "You will get wet!" and then turn a hose on you as you step off just to make sure.
Vicky was having no part of it.
Somewhere along the way, there formed an unspoken agreement that she would go on Bigfoot Rapids with me if I went into the Mystery Lodge with her.
We had an agreement.
So, Billie and some of her nieces went with us on Bigfoot Rapids. Vicky was grumbling through the whole line - a lot like I was earlier in the day. We get on and Vicky and I, both of us sadly the heaviest people on our innertube-like raft, are positioned right next to each other. Simply, grade-school science (remember? science?) tells us that we're gonna get very wet. We're hosed... or soon will be. Sure enough, Vicky gets hit by a big wave. This makes me laugh - but not for long. Because I get hit by a huge wave! Everyone else on the raft laughs, even me... but not Vicky. She's wetter than anyone else. She's wetter than the ride! She's wanting them to turn the hose on her just to dry off!
I felt pretty bad about that as we walked around the park. Sadly, that wasn't the worst thing to happen. Vicky got a call on her cell. Her grandmother was in the hospital, doing very poorly. She could die. The decision before us was if we should go and drive up to Lancaster to see her before she died or if we should stay and remember Audrey (her grandmother) as we knew her. Audrey was too far gone to recognize us if we did go and going there would just make that our last memory. And we didn't want that.
Give me just a minute here. The only grandmother I ever knew wasn't exactly what you'd call a nice person. On top of that, she liked Rosa... so meeting Audrey was a wonderful gift. I met her in a hospital. She's never been very well. She's old and frail. And I'm so grateful for meeting her. From only the few moments we've had together, I think she's an angel. And this is coming from someone who hates old people! (We'll get into that another time but let's just say I can't stand the coming attractions.) The thought of her dying just tore at my heart and there, amidst the crowded paths, Vicky and I held each other.
(Audrey is still in the hospital. She's doing very poorly but she's got a will like titanium.)
Since we were staying, it was time for the Mystery Lodge. I thought I'd gone on this years ago and I might have... but they must have changed it. Now, when you walk in, there's a large hall in which you're asked to wait. And so, we wait. As we're waiting, this announcer walks out and tries to warm up the crowd - the mystery here being who would ever think he's funny. The other mystery is when the show would start. Because we kept waiting. Another mystery: why weren't there any chairs? We had to stand... and wait... and listen to this chump's bad jokes.
And then, lightening flashed! And the lights changed!
And then the chump made some more bad jokes.
Finally, some doors opened and we walked into a theater where we sat on benches. The chump said a few things, which nobody listened to, and the show began. It was a special effects show, in a way, with an old Indian (an actor) telling a story. Now, to be honest, the show was pretty good. Cheesy but good. It would have been a thousand times better without the chump and his stupid comments.
After that, we went home. Wet and a little sad.
But we had a pretty good time...
Friday, December 02, 2005
First, I gotta tell you that as I was searching the web this morning I found something that got me laughing. Not a joke in the traditional sense, it's actually one of those things we used to joke about. Turns out there really is such a thing as Adult ADD! Honestly! Hey, the legal drug pushers wouldn't lie to you... would they? Take this pill - you'll understand.
Vicky and I are meeting Billie and Dan at Knott's Crappy Farm this weekend. I call it Knott's Crappy Farm because, well, it's pretty crappy. If you've never been there, you can cover the entire part, with all the rides and attractions in the time it takes middle-aged men to go to the bathroom. (Unless they've been eating a lot of cheese...) It's the single most boring "amusement" park... but Vicky wants to go see all the Christmas shops. So, that clinches it! NOTHING is as boring!
But I have to go. You see, Billie just finished reading my latest book, With Eyes to See. Since it's a horror novel with lots of, what I call, "cop stuff" (that being business in the book dealing with cops), I wanted to get her opinion on how very far off I was. Billie's a cop, you see. A Lieutenant. The big cheese! Well, I spoke with her last night and not only did she LOVE the book but she thinks I got the cop stuff pretty right. So, next it goes to Vicky for proofreading. Then, it's out to agents for rejection letters. Ah, how I adore rejection letters. That or sex - I don't know which is better!
So our Saturday will be spent at Knott's. Joy.
But we'll be back home Saturday night, which is good, because if we miss it tonight we'll have a second chance to catch HOMECOMING. What is HOMECOMING? HOMECOMING is a new movie by Joe Dante (of Gremlin's fame) for Showtime that you just have to see. The premise? In an election year, all the dead from the Iraqi Abomination rise from their graves to vote out the Republicans. Surely this can't be the only way we'll get rid of those fucking thugs! I figure that if Mr. Dante is sending zombies after Republicans - I gotta watch! And the great thing is that this weekend is one of those free preview weekends for Showitme so, if you don't have it, you get it this weekend. If you have cable (or, like us, satellite) you have no excuse!
Speaking of good uses for meat, we'll also be hitting Henry's or Whole Foods this weekend to pick up some steaks. Vicky got an early Christmas gift this year: a very nice barbeque. This weekend, we're breaking that bad boy in! Vicky is quite the barbequesse and I'm quite the fat pig... so things work out well.
We also might get a game of Scrabble going. Weekends seem to be the time for that. We play our Scrabble by slightly different rules - we allow the dictionary. Yes. That's right. I said it. We allow it. In fact, we encourage here. Want to know why? When you play without the dictionary (only using it to prove someone else is wrong, losing your turn if they're not) you discourage the learning of new words. By introducing the dictionary into our game, we have a more supportive environment. Not only that but when we have kids we'll get them involved with the dictionary, too, taking the taboo away. (You know, if they play with us.) Okay, so we're wimps! That's the bottom line! But we use more of our tiles, damn you!
We also need to start looking into this whole Christmas thing - buying gifts and cards and blah blah blah... Wasn't it just September?
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
This will be very quick. I have finally finished our photo album website. For those of you that would like to see our wedding photos please visit One Path - The Photo Album.
Hope you enjoy them.
There was a guy at school, named Roy Johnson, who could write far better than me and, big-mouth that I am, I said, "Ah, that's nothing. I can do that." Before too long, someone called my bluff. (I can't remember who... the jerk...)
This was long before My Side (the original one... the book... any of it!). I wrote several short stories that were dark and angry... the kind of stuff that gets kids put into counseling these days. Fortunately, I wasn't. I was encouraged. (Then, again, look where encouragement got me!)
I was branded (by those few who read my stuff back then) something of an angry, young man.
... which was kind of cool.
But, you know, you get older and try to get wiser and that whole AYM bullshit fades after a while.
... which leads me to this morning.
I hit the 35,000 mark on the new book today. I was writing a portion about a suicidal man who can't communicate with anyone and his dysfunctional father who's trying very hard to communicate with equal results. And it was dark shit. Bitter shit. (Which is dark chocolate shit, for those who are wondering.)
"Shade up ahead," John called to him, still ahead but wearing quickly. "Come on."
Victor cursed him, this dishonest, delusional, suicidal punk... his son.
But there was shade, just up ahead, from some railroad tracks the road went under. Rather than dead end, the road was taking them north-eastwards.
It wouldn't take them anywhere, however, until they had a little rest under the shade. It was still miserably hot down there, but bearable.
Why did I do this again? Victor wondered. What was my logic?
It had been to show John how wrong suicide was by presenting him with someone who was going to do it. But that didn't work; John was more interested in reaching the canyon than Victor. If anything, it had spurred John along! It had been a horrible plan with horrible results.
And Victor's feet were killing him.
And it occurred to me that this, too, was pretty dark in its own way. Pretty angry. (If you don't believe the "angry" shit, just read about the shit his sister does to children!) And that got me thinking.
I've been writing angry characters for years.
Tsurtor, the bad guy from my fantasy trilogy, was pretty twisted.
Abby, the protagonist in Vampire Society, was pretty torn up.
With Eyes to See had a serial rapist whose prime motivation was loneliness.
And No More Blue Roses is an existential comedy about a family on the brink of suicide.
Somewhere, way deep inside, I'm a pretty angry guy. I've got demons. I've got issues.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Thursday, November 24, 2005
... Well, I'm not.
It's almost like trusting your children with a Republican*, isn't it?
* Republican/Catholic Priest, same thing in the end.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
1) Vicky and I will go to her brother's house for Thanksgiving. The food will be good and all but we'll be out in the middle of the desert... which is where we were last year, in Lancaster... and I'll begin to wonder if there's some grand conspiracy... and if we'll spend next Thanksgiving in Arizona...
2) The day after Thanksgiving, we'll start working on moving all of the furniture out of the guest room so Vicky can scrape the cottage cheese off the ceiling. (It's not really cottage cheese.) Moving all the furniture will be a bitch. (It's Ricotta.) We'll get into a fight over where the furniture should be moved. (Seriously. I use it in lasagna.) Our bedroom will fill with furniture. (What do you mean, that's why people hate my lasagna?!) Our bathroom will fill with furniture. (I bet you can't do any better, bitch!) Our landing will fill with furniture. (I WANT LASAGNA! SEND ME LASAGNA!) We'll learn, to our amazement and befuddlement, that we own the Guest Room of Endless Furniture (+3 for luck, roll 2d20 for ottomans under D&D rules version 3.5)...
3) Tim Clostio is coming by on Friday. I'm hoping everything goes okay but I worry about his drinking problem. (Which he has no matter how much he denies it... after all, that's what "DENIAL" means, right?)
4) Tim, Vicky and I will have to move all that furniture back into the Guest Room... (roll percentile for amount of furniture stuffed back in under D&D rules version 3.5)...
5) Vicky will learn that she unknowingly exists in a D&D v. 3.5 universe and will find a Beyonder in our bathtub.
6) I will protest because, well, I prefer classic D&D, so...
7) Vicky will write a hit song, "There's A Beyonder in My Bathtub"...
8) She'll also write something on this Blog...
9) Dick Cheney's face will come off on national television and look just like Yul Brenner in "WestWorld".
See you on Monday...
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
So, the X-Box 360 came out today and it's all over the news... and that kind of amazes me.
This is the first generation of video game systems to launch where there really wasn't any need for it. I mean, if you look at the Atari 2600, well, that was the Granddaddy, right? (Speaking of Granddaddy - LOVE IT!) Intellivision, Colecovision, and the others from the early 80's fall into that generation. Ground breaking? Sure... but sucky. Then, you get the NES and Sega Master System, which could actually look like an arcade game... if a really old arcade game. Then, you get the next generation, with the Super Nintendo and the Genesis, which could challenge arcades as equals. So, each progression had a reason. Then, you had the PlayStation... which could provide 3D graphics. After that, came the Dreamcast/PS2/X-box generation, which could give us 3D at a reasonable frame rate.
Okay, so each one was a reasonable, if maybe not logical, progression.
What's this new generation do that the previous couldn't? ... Well, nothing really. Sure, it looks pretty and it's flashy - and the PS3 will be the same - but it's basically more of the same. (I'm leaving the Nintendo "Revolution" out of this because I'm hopeful that their new controller will provide something truly different.)
Consider this the 1/2 generation. It's Video Games 5.5. It's not the next generation but somewhere in between. What's the next generation? Well, all this time the big wigs at Microsoft and Sony have said it would happen when we achieved photo-realism. I don't see that coming for another 5-7 years at least. Considering that most generations (for video games, at least) last about five years, we have to wait for another generation.
Mind you, I'm not diss'ing the 360 or the PS3. As I said, they're pretty. I may even get one eventually - but I'm certainly not racing out there to get one.
I have my X-Box.
I have World of Warcraft.
I also have Civilization 4, which I still can't get to work on my PC as I wait and wait and wait for a patch... but that's a different story...
(Scary Note: When I ran spellcheck, "Nintendo" came up as a real word! Scaaaaarrry!)
Monday, November 21, 2005
And keep in mind that it only take a change of a couple degrees to throw everything down the shitter...
Keith popped into town this weekend and we went out and had a couple of beers. Keith seems to be doing well but I gotta wonder who the hell this Mr. Sensitivity is with all his talk about planning a family dinner and stuff. Who is that guy?! Oh well, I'm glad he's in a more secure place where he can talk like that. I am worried, though, about his money-management... I'm hoping he does manage it. I'm pulling for him to succeed... but I worry.
So, anyway, we're sitting out on the patio, drinking our beers - and I suppose I should admit to having 1.5 smokes - and I finally get to mention my books. (People in my family can talk and Keith's no exception.) I'm going over this one and that one and that one... and Keith gets this glazed look on his face. Deer in headlights time! I guess that's when I began to realize... along with having the same glance come back at me from Billie and Trish's husband, Clay, this weekend... that this whole writing thing, for most people, doesn't have the same immediacy as it does to me. I mean, being 1/4 through this book I guess can blend right into the other three books from this year. They might tend to run together.
So, I have to try not to take that personally.
Vicky and I got a juicer and started playing with it this weekend. We went to Costco and picked up grapefruits, pears, apples, cranberries, oranges, carrots - and on and on. Saturday night, we made a huge pitcher of juice and sat out on the patio drinking it.
... now, it might not have been good... but it was okay. And it was good for us. Right?
Then, on Sunday, we had Trish and Clay and their kids, Jake and the Human Whirlwind known as Cole, over for dinner. I spent the day making home-made bolognese sauce and we all got together. It's always nice having people over - I for one love it. And having kids in the house was... different... Not bad, not good... different. Like the first time you see an Italian film... but with more noise.
Trish and I went to the same high school and one thing we're learning about each other is how many times we crossed each other's paths. I'll give you an example. One of my best friends in high school was Sean Mullin. He wasn't my best friend, that was Tim Murphy - even though Sean introduced us. Now, I've been extremely fortunate, having been surrounded by some of the funniest people: Tim Murphy, Tim Clostio, Rob Sassone, Sean Deyo, etc. etc. But I don't know if I would ever have added Sean Mullin to that list. He worked well as a second banana but I wouldn't have thought of him as funny on his own.
That is, until I spoke with Trish last night. She asked, "Did you ever know a guy named Sean McMullin or Sean Mullin?"
"Sure," I said. "He and I were best friends."
"Wasn't he funny? He used to always crack us up."
Now, after high school, Sean had joined the Navy and moved to the east coast. Shortly after that, he pretty much told the lot of us - all of his friends in OC - to piss off. So, I hadn't been left with the best memories of Sean. But it was nice of Trish - though unknowingly - to remind me of someone to whom I'd once been very close.
Sometimes I wonder if we ever truly leave anyone behind.
Sometimes I'm glad we don't.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Last night, Vicky won a seat on the Board of our Home Owner's Association.
I am extremely proud of her. We went to the Board meeting last night and, when she was asked to give a speech, she stood up and spoke very simply but eloquently about her goals on the Board: preserving the beauty, safety, and tranquility of our neighborhood. The next guy to speak said, "Yeah, I agree with her."
Out of a possible 10,000 votes, Vicky pulled half, leaving the other two candidates to split the difference. She was clearly the community favorite.
I sat in the audience as she spoke and I thought about how proud I was, and am.
The next stop could very well be our local PTA, school board, or city council. Watch out. Vicky is on the move!
Thursday, November 17, 2005
And just so you know, my car would be considered "Efficient". (Actually, I call FOUL because my car can get 44 MPG even though it isn't hybrid.)
Vicky's would, sadly, be considered a "Utility" car, making the same gift for her FAR more expensive!
I've got TWO questions for you this week: one for me and one for Vicky.
QUESTION ONE. I've been talking a lot about art recently, acting and writing, and I haven't asked you. What would you prefer I do? Act? Write? Or continue my colorful career as a male gigilo?
QUESTION TWO. Vicky hasn't written on One Path very much... nope, not very much at all. So, here's my question. What will be Vicky's next blog entry?
Hope to hear some interesting responses...
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Vicky and I were at Target last night and I got to play with one of their display models... and then I moved to the XBOX. (Ba-BAM!)
Here's the thing. If you're looking for earth-shattering greatness, well, I don't think you're going to find it, not on this or any of the next-generation consoles. (The new Nintendo console is doing very different things, though, and I can't wait to see that.) The game play was... an XBOX. The controls were... an XBOX. The graphics were simply what you'd expect from a high-end PC. It's not that PCs can't do the stuff you see on the XBOX 360, it's that few companies code that well.
Now, I'm not saying I don't want one. Hell, if someone bought me one, I'd be giggly like a school girl with pom-poms and a Wonderbra... wait... mental image... But I'm not going to rush out and buy one, either.
I'll stick with my World of Warcraft for now...
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I had a lot of decisions to make. No matter what I did, there would be people who wouldn't like the decisions, which is the nature of such decisions.
Well, I made them.
Here they are.
First, I've decided not to audition tonight. Not only am I not that excited by the play but I'm also working on a book right now. It's going very well. I am 1/4 of the way through, which is 25,000 words! I'm going to keep writing. If a play comes up and I want to do it, I'll audition but I won't audition just for the sake of something to do - I HAVE something to do.
Second... well, the second one is the toughest one.
Last year, I thought I would put together the last monologue CD. It was called "Ken 3.8". But Vicky asked me to create one for this year, about the wedding.
So, I spent about a month writing and rewriting a monologue about the wedding. It was a Ken monologue. It was dark. It was funny.
It was completely unnecessary.
It talked about personal problems and triumphs and was kind of cool... or would have been... had I been single.
Look, here's the thing. I'm married now. Vicky's my family. I have no problem eviscerating myself for an audience but when it comes to dragging Vicky out on stage... well...
So, I've decided that I won't be creating a "Ken 3.9". There will be no wedding monologue. Vicky doesn't know about this. She's finding out like you are - and I don't expect her to be too pleased about it. But there are some things that are kept within the family: the tragic, the ecstatic, the mundane. I don't need to tell you about the wedding. Friends can watch the DVD. Readers know I love Vicky.
And Vicky does, too.
There. Decision made. I feel much better now.
Have I mentioned it's been nearly a month since my last cigarette?
Monday, November 14, 2005
I fought with Vicky.
I really hated myself.
I ended up exhausted.
As for the details… Vicky and I went out to Arizona this weekend to hang out with her friends, Billie and Dan. On the way, we turned onto Route 66 at Topock, Arizona. Quite a bit of the new book takes place along that road and I thought I’d be good to see some of that, get a feel for it. We went though Topock, stopped in Golden Shores for a couple reference shots, and drive all the way up to Oatman, which is really the stinky armpit of America. Yep, I’m a southern California dude.
Driving along Route 66 gives you a great idea why the interstate highway system was built. My god, it takes forever! We got down to Billie and Dan’s place early in the evening – everything should have been fine.
But we did that thing that couples do, where we fought the whole weekend without letting on to anybody else what was happening. Now, I gotta speak for myself here but I felt really shitty about it. Ever have one of those arguments where you just keep saying the wrong thing – and if you were right to begin with you just end up feeling like an ass? Well, that was me. And I didn’t even apologize.
Vicky, I’m sorry.
I carry a lot of baggage around with me and, sometimes, I’m just not the nice guy most people think of me as.
And I don’t even know how much of it had to do with Vicky.
I’ll give you a little insight. In the next two days, I’m supposed to go audition for a show in Long Beach. I’m supposed to audition because I told Vicky I would. I also told some actor friends of mine I would. But I’m not supposed to go because I love acting. It’s like writing these books or the plays before them. They have nothing to do with my happiness, when all is said and done. It’s just more product. Me pumping out more product. And there are times when I just want to be that guy who sits down with a beer and watches some TV, you know?
Sometimes, I get so sick of “actor Ken” and “writer Ken” that I could puke. Trying to be a success in life is sometimes more demanding than the expectations other people put on me to be a success. Does anybody else feel like this or is it just me? I just get so fucking tired of this endless self-promotion – writing my books, pitching my books, auditioning, rehearsing, coming up with new shit…
So, it was an exhausting weekend.
Then, I went to bed last night and woke up a couple of hours later… diffusing a bomb.
It wasn’t a bomb, per se… I was sleepwalking. The parts of the bomb were my alarm clock, a pen, a couple of Vicky’s ear rings… I tried going to sleep again but found myself at the bottom of the stairs… so I was awake.
And I took today off work.
Now, I’ll go to the audition, of course. I’ll continue writing this book. I’ll be “actor Ken” and “writer Ken”, the trained seal life has turned me into – I might even like it from time to time – but I just want you to know that there are times when I’d rather be anyone than that person life’s circumstances has turned me into… And I tell you this because I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels that way. I’m just the only one diffusing bombs in my sleep with hoop ear rings.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
"Ken, you're not fat. You're WIDE."
... I was going to write that she said I was "just wide" but she corrected me. Apparently, there was nothing "just" about it!
(Note: When Vicky said this, she was trying to be nice. It just came out really wrong, that's all.)
Friday, November 11, 2005
"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges," the president said in his combative Veterans Day speech.
Oh, you mean like the false charges you made about Iraq being behind the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001? Or like the false charges you made about Saddam Hussein having (scary) weapons of mass destruction?
"More than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate who had access to the same intelligence voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power," Bush said.
That's right. They were all given the same cooked intelligence and voted to remove Saddam from power as a last resort after you promised to allow the weapons inspectors to do their jobs - yes, THAT intelligence?
"We will never back down. We will never give in. We will never accept anything less than complete victory," he said Friday.
Oh, you mean the complete victory you announced over a year ago?!
Someone find out what planet this guy is on and make him president there!
Let's just start this with the obvious. It's nearly 8am, I've been up since 4am, and I'm really tired. But I worked out this morning... which means I'm completely deranged, so...
As of this Monday, I'll have gone four weeks without a smoke and we're closing in on a month. People said it gets easier... when is that, exactly? When does it get easier? Cause I would smoke the business end of a pencil if I had a lighter... I'll tell you this, though. Quitting smoking leads to infidelity, loose morals, and prostitution. Cause I'm finding just about anything with a cigarette attractive and if I had to ... you know, to score a Camel, well...
In the meantime, I'm losing my mind.
I'm working a lot, though.
Today, I should have the first rewrites on With Eyes To See completed. After that, Billie's going to have changes for me - for where I got the "cop stuff" wrong. (It's a horror novel; it has "cop stuff".) Then, Vicky's going to have her proofing changes. Ugh! It never ends!
This weekend, we're heading out to Arizona to hang out with Billie and her husband, Dan. On the way, we'll be hitting Route 66 to take some pictures. This will help me with the book I'm presently writing, No More Blue Roses. (What's with these four-word names, anyway?) It's kind of an indie road-movie and I want to get a feel for where they're going. I've hit the 20,000 word mark and the timing of our trip couldn't be better.
People have asked what I do when I'm not writing or acting. Well, that's when my brain is following its own tangents and coming up with, what I can, Pieces. Pieces are just jokes, observations, short bits that can be thrown into some future project. They'd handy. So, I grabbed a bunch of them this morning for this book, including the immortal (as of last Tuesday):
Think of it this way. Look up above at all the stars. More stars than you could ever count. And around those stars, even more planets. Odds are there's more life out in the universe than we could ever imagine. Life that has evolved beyond pettiness and despair and sorrow and pain. And yet, they are far beyond our reach. All we have is each other. And we suck.
So, I take those pieces and, when the mood strikes me, I stick them in.
It's a lot like sex, in a way.
But without another person.
ANYWAY, I'm also making progress on Ken 3.9. This year, I'm working very methodically, which is good, and slowly, which isn't. Here's how that gets done:
1) I spend a long time writing it and it still turns out painfully unfunny.
2) I rehearse it and rehearse it and, finally, record it... but it comes out painfully unfunny.
3) I go through the recording, editing out my coughs, burps, stutters, stammers... and still it's unfunny.
4) I change the vocal effects and add cues and bumpers.
5) Then, I send it out, hoping it's not painfully unfunny...
Now, on top of all those projects, Vicky and I are still sending Vampire Society out into the world. Vicky really believes in this book. Sadly, literary agents lack belief.
You can be a good writer without being a lucky writer. Personally, I'd like to be a lucky writer... but that's just me.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting "intelligent design" and warned them on Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.
"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."
"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.
So, I was working on the new book this morning, writing about Victor Gabriel Marquez, right-wing philosopher has-been, as he meets Francis Ell. This new book is written by me, me being a character in the book - the "writer as character". I'm a character in the book because I knew Carl Olek in Elementary School. Carl Olek now owns a bar in Arizona and meets John Gabriel at the bar. John Gabriel is Victor Gabriel Marquez's son.
Now, here's the part that gives some people a headache. This is a book of fiction. Victor Gabriel Marquez, Francis Ell, John Gabriel, Carl Olek, and I don't really exist.
But, then, we do. I mean, here I am, right? I'm writing this, aren't I? And I actually did know Carl Olek in Elementary School.
My imagination is a place I like to play.
Now, some people say that, when you dream, each person in your dream is a reflection of yourself. Some people also say that about writing. They also say it about acting. The trick about acting is not in becoming someone else. It is in becoming yourself - only more so. You can imagine how such an outlook made it difficult for me to play Howard Holt - and, yet, some said I did rather well, so...
When I write, all the characters are me. They are me as I would be - which is, in fact, the only way anyone can write. No kidding.
Francis Ell is a character from my first book, My Side. (Yes, it was a book... a really bad one, too.) He was created as an extension of myself. In a lot of ways, Francis Ell was me. And I put the words into the books by Victor Gabriel Marquez... so Victor is me as well.
So, when I write about Victor meeting Francis, I (as the writer) as writing about me writing about me meeting me...
At which point, I decided to write this...
(And does this mean I'm Carl Olek? Of course, not - silly! Carl Olek is a real person - PAY ATTENTION!)
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
I was listening to the radio yesterday and a Methodist minister was stating that she talked about politics in church. Some people see that as sacriligious (if not irreligious) but if you consider who Jesus was, how could you NOT talk about politics? Jesus was a political revolutionary who preached tolerance, humility, and - horror of horrors - equitable distrubution of wealth. Jesus spoke at length about the poor, so how could you not talk politics at a time when the Republican party is cramming all the wealth into the top 1% that they can? So, I can understand what the preacher was talking about. Granted, if you're lying, you're lying. There may be people out there who believe Jesus was pro-war, pro-tyranny... but that doesn't make it right.
Shrub made an announcement the other day, stating "We don't torture." Really, Mr. Prez? What about the secret CIA camps? What about Guantanamo? What about Abu Ghraib? What about Cheney pushing his pro-torture agenda in the Senate? When Shrub says "We don't torture" what he means is "We don't give a shit about the truth". Keep that in mind this election day when you are faced with a Republican or their agenda.
Speaking of agendas, we've got a few propositions being pushed in California. As I've said before, watch out - they're trying to sucker you in. Keep your best interests in mind. I feel safe writing that because I don't think I have any mega-wealthy white men reading this blog. So, it would be safe to recommend a NO vote on 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, and 78, with a YES vote to 79 and 80. I should note that, while that is my suggestion, I'm not necessarily speaking for Vicky.
There's one last bit I need to add that is of political interest. Vicky, while too modest (or lazy) to write about this herself, is running for a position on our condominium board. I know she has my vote! Now, sure, board membership isn't exactly a Cabinet post but it does tend to lead to bigger and better things. I'm very proud of her for doing her part to contribute to our little neighborhood and thought I'd close this by telling her so. Honey, I'm proud of you.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Anyway, now the Vatican comes out and calls the christian fundamentalists a bunch of dummies:
Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin's theory of evolution were "perfectly compatible" if the Bible were read correctly.
"The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim," he said at a Vatican press conference.
Yes, they also believe that "the meek shall inherit MY ASS"... are you saying they're wrong?
Let's start with the new book and work our way back. As you faithful readers probably know (both of you), I hit the 10,000 word mark last week. This new book is really a return to roots for me; I'm casting off all pretension in my style, bringing everything down to a basic, simple style, while amping my sarcasm up to 11. It's a lot like my writing used to be back in the days of the first My Side (which was a newspaper column)... but with more cussing. The thing is, it's such a risk for me, I'm not really sure if it's any good. In fact, as I hit 10k, I was pretty sure it probably sucked.
I asked a few people if they'd be interested in reading it for me, screening it, if you will. Enter Trish, Vicky's Matron-of-Honor, good friend, and her one link to the guy who used to write My Side. She said she'd love to read the 10k and so, in one fell swoop, she was reading something a lot like the My Sides I wrote in high school, which she might have read... now and then became one a little bit.
Then, it got worse.
See, back when I wrote My Side, back in high school, I was the guy to beat. I was voted most talented in the year book. I had teachers expect me to be on Broadway, some of them said they expected me to win a Pulitzer. There was a lot of pressure to achieve great things.
Which I did not do.
Not only did I not achieve great things, I barely pulled out good things.
It still happens today. I have actor friends who expect me to ace auditions, which I never do. People think that just because I've written 10 books, one should get published. They don't. People have this limitless capacity for hope, which doesn't help me any because I can't help but let them down.
And defeat isn't something that helps you sleep at night.
A few months ago, a guy named Eugene David, a guy I was good friends with in elementary school, wrote to me through Classmates and asked me what I'd been up to. Hmmm... failed married, dead-end job, living in an apartment, never been published, not a working actor - I didn't have much to tell him. Now, of course, I'm married to a wonderful woman with a nice home but the expectations that were placed upon me back then were never met. In short, I failed. I'm a failure.
Put that on my tombstone.
Along with pepperoni. I love pepperoni.
So, Trish is reading the book - you remember how we got there, right? - and she reads the following:
Carl Olek was a man quickly approaching middle-age who had moved to Arizona for the dry weather. He needed it because his joints would swell and ache anywhere else he lived, a conclusion drawn after living in only two other places. Carl didn’t have arthritis. He’s busted his knuckles time and again as a child, beating the crap out of people. As a child, Carl had been a bully and he’d liked beating the crap out of people a whole lot; he just hadn’t realized that it would put him in a shithole like Seligman, Arizona or that he’d end up tending bar in a place like the Log Cavern Tavern and at no point did he ever think he’d ever run into John Gabriel in such a place. Or that John Gabriel would be telling him his fucking life’s story.
Carl Olek, you see, was a real person - he may still be a real person. I was friends with him in elementary school. He was kind of a bully - I got to know him through Jeff Hollenbeck, who I was friends with for quite some time. We only stopped being friends in Junior High school, when he got more into drugs than with hanging around dorks. I was the dork. I was more drawn to reading and making up stories than to sports or drugs. I didn't choose well.
Vicky and I were in Lancaster Saturday night, having dinner at her mom's restaurant, when the topic of these 10,000 words came up. Vicky, so tired of hearing me wonder if Trish had read it yet that she wished she could have put me inside a vacuum tube that would have sucked me over to Trish & Clay's house (no, Tim. Not that way!), she pulled out her phone and immediately called Trish.
And Trish had read it.
And she wanted to talk to me.
"Is Carl Olek based on a real person?" she asked.
He was, I told her.
This came as a surprise to her and not for the reasons you might think. You see, she knew Carl Olek.
She knew Jeff Hollenbeck.
She knew these people who expected me to succeed. And, yet, she knows I'm a failure.
And, so, it all comes full circle - or, at least, it did this weekend - Trish, Jeff, all those expectations, all of my failures - there's no escaping it. There's also no way that I can hide from Vicky how shortchanged she got by saying "I do".
... pretty crappy way to start the week.
Friday, November 04, 2005
It's the name of my new book. Had you asked me why only a week ago, when the phrase kept banging into my psyche like the endless lies of the (burning) Bush administration (you saw that coming, didn't you?), I would have told you that I didn't know why.
... But now, I know.
And I'm rather stunned.
After all, I don't know what a blue rose is - I don't particularly care. Horticulture is the last thing I was thinking about; this book is about families, people, and how self-interest is ultimately self-defeating. It's dark drama about broken people and high comedy about suicide. Honestly, it has nothing to do with roses of any color.
Or so I thought.
This morning, as I was about to start on the third chapter - I past the 10,000 word mark, BABAY! - I thought it might be interesting to find out just what a blue rose might be.
And I found this.
Turns out a blue rose is an elusive goal, a holy grail, a rare find. Something special and beautiful, fragile and exceptional.
And in the course of this novel (should I have the fortune to finish it), the characters learn that they aren't so exceptional and rare, to be catered to and and cared for. They are, in fact, very common and their commonplace lot puts them back on earth with everyone else. They learn that self-interest and self-absorption is poison. We focus on ourselves to our own detriment; only by helping others are we, too, helped.
By the book's end, there are no more blue roses.
I swear... Remember when I used to write plays with lots of dick and fart jokes???
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Two weeks without a cigarette.
Can someone please take off this straightjacket? It's beginning to chafe.
I will admit this has been pretty tough, mostly because I think my brain thinks "once in a while" won't kill me. It may be right... but why quibble?
Here's what I do know. I can take a deep breath again. Seriously. You non-smokers don't know what this is about but I couldn't do it too well before. My singing voice is back, fit and fettle as ever... well, maybe not "as ever" but it's close and getting better every day. I ran 3.5 miles last night at the gym. I won't tell you how long it took me to run 3.5 miles but I did it and that's a good thing. I love running. I love singing. I love breathing.
I'd say it's going fine so far.
Yep, the secret's out. (As if it ever was a secret!) And I found this great article on MSN I thought I'd share. (Think of it as "Gay Ken" time.) Because, not only do I love food but I love healthy food! How about these excerpts:
Cherries have a natural pain reliever and are great for gout and arthritis. They're also low in calories and low on the glycemic index. Kale is the superhero of vegetables, and if you can get organic, grass-fed beef, you're getting a super source of protein with a wonderful fat profile and none of the junk that's given meat such a bad rap, such as antibiotics, steroids and hormones.
Water: I know you don't really "eat" water, but I felt it was important enough to include because I think most people don't get enough of it. There's definitely conflicting info from experts about how much of it you need to drink, but I think drinking lots of water is key. It'll give you energy, make your skin look and feel better and fill you up.
Blueberries: Besides being the best tasting berry on the planet, blueberries are a superfood of sorts. They're a good source of A, C, iron, trace minerals and fiber. Their antioxidant properties mean they fend off cell damage and reduce the risk of cancer. Plus, they've recently been shown to help lower cholesterol. Some scientists think they also have the power to improve eyesight and memory, as well as age-proof skin.
Hot chili peppers: Just a sprinkle of chili pepper gives ordinary food a kick. Recent studies show the equivalent of one pepper a day can substantially cut your risk of some cancers. They give you a good shot of vitamin C as well.
So, tell me. What is your favorite HEALTHY food? (No. Twinkies don't count.)
Think it's safe to be a writer?
Think again... and try to convince yourself that you hold no responsibility.
It seems like profession sports associations are jumping as fast as they can to nail dress codes on their players, dictating how they can dress off the court or field. How this started, I'm not privy to but I'm guessing it is the result of yet another player misbehaving and those who make the real money hoping to redirect attention. But are we really that stupid? Do we really think that a man in a suit is above blame? The problem of anyone's failure to behave stems not from what they wear but what they do and why they do it. Why don't we consider why someone does something? Maybe then we'll begin to see that boys with pituitary conditions and anger issues paid so much that they're out of touch with reality may not be the way to go... and maybe we'll see a return to sanity in, perhaps, this one area.
I'm not a big fan of dress codes of any kind, especially when it comes to school uniforms. The idea that uniform clothes with create uniform behavior is not just delusional; it's dangerous. That kind of thinking is a white flag - it says you don't know how to get kids to behave so you just hope that the herd mentality will keep them in check. In some cases, this might be right. I'm not going to say that school with a dress code don't keep their kids in check. What I will say is that should not be the priority.
We don't send kids to school to keep them in line. The goal of education is to learn to think, to empower the mind. You don't get kids to think by making them into automatons. You only get them to behave, and for all the wrong reasons.
When behavior is just about behavior, you see a disconnect between action and consequence. The reasons why are lost. So, kids play the game and behave at school or on the field but don't know what they means in their personal life. Why it is wrong to hit someone is not because you were told not to but because of many other reasons. Why it is wrong to lie is not because you were told not to but because of other reasons. (I won't give you those reasons. Try to think of some.)
When our schools are so under funded, however, that they don't have the time or the staff or the facilities to teach children, but only hope to get them to behave, we end up with the dress code mentality. And it's just plain wrong. Of course, you'll hear politicians talk about tax cuts and get you in line for the new tax cut, feeding your sense of greed and self-interest, and you'll forget that your self-interest is best served when everyone pays their share of the taxes.
And yes, that means a progressive tax, because the rich can afford to pay more. Robbing from the rich to help the poor was once a virtue because it does make sense. With the vast majority of this nation's wealth held by the mega-rich, the super millionaires, the top 1%, they can afford to do their share.
There's nothing wrong with taxation, you shouldn't fear taxation, when it is done fairly. Taxes pay for police and firemen, parks, clean street, and schools - and that is fair. That is right. We should pay taxes for these things and we should pay more. We are not overtaxed, as you can see when you look at other countries who are better off with a higher standard of living. When taxes are unfair, they go to pork for big business, welfare for the wealthy, and an illegal war that has already killed thousands.
Yesterday, the Senate was held in a closed session over the lies we were told about the war. The Republicans came out and said it was much ado about nothing. Was it? The proof of their lies is insurmountable, undeniable by anyone with any capacity for good, and yet people continue to die.
The starve our schools to pay for their unjust war and give us the same solution the Nazi's had: dress codes. And, if that wasn't enough, in the coming special election in California, they try to remove the blame from their failed policies of under funding the schools and put it on the teachers. They are now trying to blame the teachers.
Is it any wonder basketball players misbehave in a society that so obviously does not know right from wrong?
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Well, that bastion of LIBERAL news... BusinessWeek has this to say:
In the 800-plus opinions he has penned during his 15 years as a federal judge, Alito consistently has come down on the side of limiting corporate liability, limiting employee rights, and limiting federal regulation.
As if we needed more corporate gluttony, fewer worker's rights, and more pollution...
and I got to wondering...
What's the difference between Snickers and Baby Ruth?
Snickers: Nougat, Caramel, Peanuts, Chocolate
Baby Ruth: Nougat Caramel, Peanuts, Chocolate
And I love them both!
(Insert obligatory knock against Republicans, in such as way that it relates to candy bars, sexual deviancy, orifices, tax-cut for the mega-wealthy, and fucking the poor, here.)
But what's the dif? I mean, honestly!
And can I love them both???
Let's start with Scooter. I've been hearing the pundits carry on about how Libby wasn't indicted for Treason and, therefore, ipso facto, in your face, he must not be guilty of it. Did you read Fitz's statements? He said that the lies in the White House were so thick that he spent two years trying to get through them. Not only do we have an administration based on lies (hello, he stole two elections), we're no better! Our society is knee deep in lies. You want to stop the lying in politics? Then, stop the lies in your life! I honestly believe it's one of those things that grows with time.
Next, Alito. After the neo-cons Borked Bush's attorney, they're happy to see Shrub nominate someone true to the faith. Make no doubt about it, folks. Alito is anti-woman's rights. The guy's crazy on the right-wing's Kool Aide and WILL see to it that Roe v Wade is overturned. Now, listen, if I was a woman, I'd be marching about this. They're stripping away what little rights you have - Woman's Rights is still a myth in this country - and you're sitting at home watching fucking Reality Television! I can only pray Vicky and I have a boy! You never see them try to strip away a man's rights, do you? Do you see a pattern here?
Lastly, one quick note about Iran. Look, I know there's been a lot in the news about Iran's comments about Israel. Let me toss out a little reminder: they are allowed to threaten people. They're a sovereign state. Tell you what. Why don't we stop our illegal war against people who never hurt us before we start complaining about someone else making threats. Can we do that? Or should we just have an election and officially name our government an Hypocrisy?
Friday, October 28, 2005
First, we had a great time with Jennifer & Joe. They are quite the couple and I believe that they will become good friends of ours. Someday, like Ken, I can just picture all of us going together with our kids.
Now, for the Haunted Mansion...my entire reason for wanting to go to Disneyland every year during the holiday season. My friend Jeff and I to Disneyland the first year they changed the Haunted Mansion into The Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion. This year was absolutely amazing and this was my favorite part of the entire night.
My second favorite thing that night...well as you know I won the tickets from a radio station...95.5 KLOS. For those that don't know, KLOS is a rock station and Mark & Brian are the morning DJs. Since Disneyland was closed for this private party there were a couple of different things. Most noticeably, there wasn't a crowd. Very nice. And, back to my second favorite thing, rather than piping Disneyland themed music throughout the park that night, Disneyland "allowed" KLOS to broadcast over the loudspeakers throughout Disneyland. Now, Disney technically owns KLOS, but still...when else will you be able to walk through Disneyland and listen to Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith!
Rock on Disneyland and KLOS!!!
But before I begin, I gotta ask something: When did The Simpsons stop being funny? I watched an episode yesterday night, it was a newer episode I hadn't seen before, and I think I laughed twice. And I'm easily amused!! What happened?
So, the question floating around these parts is "What's next for the La Salle?" (Extra points for those of you who caught the redundancy.)
I've got an audition coming up that Stephanie turned me onto but I can't help but feel rather uncomfortable about the whole thing. I mean, I haven't been in a theater in over a year except to see a show and I've only seen a couple. I'm not really what you'd call a "theater person" anymore - if, indeed, I ever was. As always, I feel more comfortable behind a keyboard (the writing kind)... so...
I've started a new book. It's called "No More Blue Roses", for now. What with my life half-over and all, I've decided to finally write a book about dysfunctional families, suicide, fucked-up parents, really dig inside my well of sorrow and pull a comedy out by the blood vessels... you know? Earlier today, I wrote up a short synopsis for Vicky, after writing the first 4000 words. (This is nothing, folks, when you consider that the goal is 100,000!) Here it is - keep in mind it's only the beginning - let me know what you think:
Victor has always lived a selfish life. When he reads that his son, John, is contemplating suicide, he tries to reach out to him the only way he knows how - by making it about himself. Knowing that his son is planning to go to the Grand Canyon to kill himself, he hitches a ride. Soon, his other two children, Rhonda and Matthew, hear about it. Thinking it means that John will get to bond with the father they never had, they plan to stop it because they weren't invited along.
Vicky won four tickets and it took us a bit to figure out who to invite. Sean & Megan? No, Thursday night is their BINGO night. Trish & Clay? No... babysitter, required. But then, I remembered a couple who we hadn't spend any time with but who, for some reason or another, were totally our buds. Jennifer & Joe! I'll always have the memory imbedded in my mind of the two of them coming up to our table at the wedding and giving us great hugs and smiles (and a kiss from Joe... I can count my kisses with men on one hand!). Why not hang out with them? Sure! So, we invited them along, too.
(It's at this point that I wonder if Vicky has sent them a link to our One Path...)
We'd meet them there but had plenty to do beforehand. At 7pm, we left out house with arms filled with bags of bottles. See, if you brought 25 recyclable bottles, you could enter to win various prizes. (Those who have done any reading on pollution know that recycling bottles is like opening the refrigerator to cool the house on a hot day against the horrors that are industrial pollution. The real target is heavy industry but no one will go after them as long as there is money in politics, which is why campaign reform is so important! You were wondering how I'd throw a rant in, weren't you?)
Disneyland now has this ENORMOUS parking structure - the old parking lot is now known as Disney's California Adventure & Downtown Disney - and, being the first time I'd been there, I was pretty amazed. We parked, eventually, hiked out - that took a while - and went to the Will Call booth, where Vicky retrieved her tickets. Yeah! Then, we went to turn in our bottles. "I don't know why all these people are in line," Vicky said. "I'm going to win."
That's my Vicky, a wet tissue of self-confidence. We must prop her up!
The thing is, they also gave us our "Commemorative Mark & Brian 3D Posters"... which were too big to carry around for the next five hours... and that meant - shit - we had to go back to the car... And, so, we hiked and hiked back to the car, put away the posters, and hiked and hiked out of the parking structure to the tram, which took us to Disneyland, et al. Oy.
The tram stopped at Downtown Disney. How was I supposed to know it was the last stop? We got off (the tram, you pervert) and headed straight into - now, come on, guess... - the Disney Store. Ugh! But Vicky was like someone in a candy store going through her second childhood. How could I deny her? When she found a "Princess" hat that she liked, I made a sour comment about it but, honestly, how could I deny her? See, that's my problem - I can't say "No" to Vicky. But the beauty of Vicky is that she appreciates that without seeing how far she can take it. Rosa took that all the way to the bank, which made so much of our time together totally miserable. But Vicky doesn't take advantage of me... which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you - anyway, she didn't get the hat and we proceeded to Disneyland.
For those of you who are familiar with the place, basically, they left the assembly area in front of the park intact but where the parking lot used to start is now California Adventure, with a huge CALIFORNIA standing before the entrance, each letter 10 feet tall. We passed through a rather lax security area - "Hi, my name is Achmed Bin Laden. Would you like to see my Anthrax?" "Keep the line moving, pal." - and proceeded to the "L" in CALIFORNIA, where we would meet Jennifer and Joe.
(By the way, in case your wondering, the couples in our extended group - or, at least, the women in the couples - have all conspired to have the woman's name first when referring to them. "Jennifer & Joe" "Trish & Clay" "Paula & Don" "Billie & Dan" "Vicky and Ken"... draw whatever conclusions you like.)
The line was enormous but we waited. The beauty about this evening was that only a few thousand people were invited - I'm guessing 10-15, based on some of Vicky's estimates - so we knew we'd get in without having to wait too long. When Jennifer and Joe showed, she popped into line and began our slow approach.
How do describe Jennifer & Joe? Well, they're a cute couple, obviously happy. They seem to be decent people. Jennifer is bouncy and vivacious. Joe is sarcastic and not too grown up. I liked them. (Mind you, I was the oldest one there, so...) More on them later.
Once inside, we moved very quickly to Space Mountain, which has just reopened. All the ads say that it's been totally "redone", whatever that means, and everyone, it seems wanted to find out how. Rather than wait in line - this was not a night about lines! - we hit Star Tours. I remember when this opened; I was so excited to go on! Now, well... meh! I was under whelmed. Hey, I'm 40, you know? Jaded by life! But it occurred to me that this would probably be my last time at Disneyland as a child, not a parent. Soon, Vicky and I will have a child, and I will be able to reexperience all of this through his or her eyes. So much for jaded...
Space Mountain was next and, though there was a line, it moved rapidly. We boarded... what looked like the same ride... and started... what looked like the same ride... and rode... the same - Hey! They didn't "redo" anything! It's the same ride!!! Jerks!
But we went from one side of the park to another after that and hit the "Nightmare Before Christmas" Haunted Mansion - the best part of the evening. That may be Vicky's favorite movie - and it doesn't even have Brad Pitt! We walked inside and, once it began in the circular elevator, she was all smiles, turning around and around, clapping her hands. She's so beautiful when she's happy and smiling! I just love seeing her that way! I watched her smile through the whole ride. God, I love her.
Then, to the Shmatterhorn (because Indy Jones broke down while we were in line) and a bite to eat and to the Castle for the kiddie rides: Pinocchio, Mr. Toad, Snow White...
And it was time to go.
Time just flew by.
We had a great time.
And I'd had so much fun with Vicky that I'd learned nothing about Jennifer and Joe, except... they're going to "work on" having a kid next year, just like us, but they already have three from Joe's previous marriage. While we were eating, Joe was telling us about some recent troubles with his son... who is a teenager. As I listened, I thought, "Boy, he's got it a lot more together than I ever will. I could take lessons from this guy." Without going into too many details, I will say that he seemed to both discipline his son and communicate with him. From what I can figure, that's a fine rope to walk. Good job.
So, I like them, which is good because, according to Vicky, they like me too... oh, wait. There is something wrong with them...
We said goodbye to them at the parking structure and began the hiking back to our car. Vicky was smiling from her night at Disneyland and so was I. I remembered the picture taken of us on Space Mountain - we looked like such a cute couple.
And so we were.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
I don't know how much you've been following the news about the "outing" of Valerie Plame and how Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation leads all the way back to the lies we were told about Iraq leading up to the horrible war we now fight. I know I haven't mentioned it nearly enough.
Indictments will be coming down soon on quite a few people in (burning) Bush's staff. These charges will, more likely than not, be for treason and conspiracy. Now, historically, Republican administrations (from Nixon, to Ford, to Reagan, to Bush the first) will try to pardon their cronies who fall on a sword for them. Representative John Conyers has drafted a letter to Shrub asking that he respect the courts and not pardon his cronies.
Here's your opportunity to sign such a letter.
I'm thinking that we should all be able to agree on respecting a court ruling on treason... but that's just me.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
If you haven't heard of Buy Blue, let me introduce you. They also have a great analysis of the coming election (hopefully, not the erection) online for you to read.
Enjoy it here. (The analysis, I mean...)
Now that I'm sick, it's kind of getting in the way of other things, things that you think about when you think of Ken, things other than puking... I hope...
I've completed the first draft of my new monologue, which will be on the CD, "Ken 3.9, The Wedding". Actually, that's all the CD will hold. It's my first new monologue in... um... a long time, so I'm pretty nervous about it... sucking...
I've passed my latest novel, "With Eyes to See", on to my friend (through Vicky) Billie. Billie's a cop and, considering this book covers a lot of cop stuff (being a horror novel and all), I've asked her to pay close attention to the cop stuff and let me know how I can get it closer to the truth, if necessary. With any luck, I can start sending this out to agents by start of 2006.
I'm still waiting on "Vampire Society", which has been with one agent for a couple of months now. The thing is it's a very reputable agency and I want to give them every chance. The agent asked me to call if I don't hear from her in 12 weeks, which is coming up, and you can believe I will because, not only do I think this is an important book, I've learned something recently that makes it more marketable. Turns out that Morgan Spurlock (the guy behind "Supersize Me") is working on a new film about rampant consumerism, which is what "Vampire Society" is about - so I'm not the only one!
"A Grand Canyon" is still simmering on the back-burner. I finished it but I'm waiting on a little feedback. I gave a copy to my step-mom, Blanche, and to Sean, who you may remember from the wedding (those who were there). Blanche was unreserved with her praise - she loved it! She thought it was the best thing she'd ever read (both of mine and at all)! Well, it's one thing for your step-mom to say that... let's wait...
I've had a few ideas since then...
Then, about a week ago, I dreamed a name, "No More Blue Roses". I have no idea what the name means or why it sounds so compelling, but I like it. For some reason, thinking about this name, meditating on it (if you will), I think I'm closing in on my next novel, which is why I started writing this entry...
I know, I took the long way around - nice to meet you...
Turning 40 and entering into this new life with Vicky, I feel like it's time I wrote something different, for me at least. I'd like to write an old story in a new way - again, for me. So, the idea is that you have this completely dysfunctional family, a lot like the one I grew up in. The father, who left many years ago, is getting older and would like to try to connect with his 30 year-old son. The rest of the children go crazy with jealousy. Basically, the father reaches out but only shatters the frail unit he'd left behind.
Why this book? Well, I'm getting to that age, as are most of my contemporaries, where I'm beginning to look backwards as well as forwards. My scope is more peripheral. I can't help but look through the eyes of the child and ask, "Why did you do that?" while also seeing with the eyes of the father and answering, "I honestly don't know." I like to look at what you do when your kids say to you, "You knew about global warming in the 1970's but kept driving big cars??"
What do you say to a kid who honestly observes your mistakes?
Now, I've got the children's issue down pat. I mean, I kind of grew up with it. But I don't think that will be the focus of the book.
Maybe I'm looking back at the first half of my life and asking myself, "How could you have been such an idiot at times?" And maybe I'm looking for answers. Either way, we'll see if I do it...
Sure would be nice to get published, though, I can tell you that. I've written so many novels and plays with so little recognition that every time I hear someone tell me what a terrific writer I am, it makes me want to puke!
Monday, October 24, 2005
But Vicky and I were at Target last night, spending another of those wonderful gift cards many of you were nice enough to give us as a wedding gift, and - well - there it was. Scrabble.
Now, I wanted to get Vicky something she'd enjoy, that we could have fun with... that they sold at Target. I was sick of looking at practical items! When I asked her if she liked Scrabble, she practically jumped up and down like a cheerleader, clapping. Okay, I figured, she might like it.
And we got it. We had to break it in last night so we set it up on our coffee table - and we got the kind where you can swivel the board, of course - and commenced. Vicky was kind enough to let me use the dictionary. Mind you, this only made the game last longer... She played brilliantly. You probably guessed that, huh? Thankfully, for my pride, she let me win in the end. It was a good game. And it turns out she prefers that to watching TV, which is fine by me. (In my mind, TV = Stupid. Sure, there are times when you just want to kick back and turn it on but I like to have something more stimulating as well.)
So, don't be surprised if we try to coax you into a game of Scrabble - for those of you who visit. Vicky may let you use the dictionary and she may let you win.