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?