Wednesday, October 31, 2007

People I can't stand... no, it's not a list...

“It’s what you surround yourself with,” Vicky told me. “You surround yourself with people you can’t stand. Actors, philosophers, writers – you always do that.”

I should probably explain something. She was talking about types of people, not specific individuals.

Oh, and she was right.

Here’s the thing. I returned to my philosophy course last night and was more disgusted by it than ever. Let me tell you three stories.

First, there were the two kids arguing about if a chair really existed. There you go, the stereotypical philosophy student. I just want to smack them! We are waging an illegal war and they are wasting their time talking about if chairs exist?! I want to tell them that there are far more important things going on – so cut it the fuck out!

Then, of course, there was my instructor, an unwashed, halitosis monster of mediocrity who is so filled with his own importance… well, again, the stereotype. This was the kind of instructor who initially turned me off to philosophy. As a matter of fact, I took Introductory Philosophy twice with this type of teacher because I kept failing due to sleeping in class! (I was partying more back then…)

Lastly, there was the writer and, again, what a stereotype. “Just wait five years. I’ll write my book and you’ll see it in Barnes & Noble.” I’m not kidding. He said this. Now, listen, I’ve been a writer for many years and I have not once made such a claim. I consider it not just egotistical bragging but nonsensical – to brag about something you haven’t even done, yet! What kind of person does that? I have always played things closer to the vest, so I don’t understand. I will talk about my writing but I’ve always understood the capricious nature of art. Art is casting yourself upon the universe and hoping you’ll stick. Most of us are too oily.

You can imagine how irate I was when Vicky and I were having dinner. I grumbled about the writer, the teacher, the students.

And that’s when she said it.

Now, listen. I love actors. Their ability to open themselves up to a new reality (the good ones, at least) is amazing. Sadly, though, there are so few good ones and even fewer great ones and even those are usually so full of themselves that they can be hard to take. Maybe that’s why those actors I do love, I love so much. Actors I have worked with, such as Stephanie and David Graham and Chris Anzalone (and, for that matter, nearly the entire cast of 40 Carats, Everything Changes, Athiests, and Whatever Happened to Me) (not that I see any of these people any more... which, in itself, may be telling...) transcend their own experience and can connect as completely different people. It’s really a kind of magic. Too bad so many of them are full of shit.

Writers are whiny bitches. Yes, writing is hard work and the payoff is… what’s the word?... oh, nonexistent. But the act itself is as fulfilling as any. Those writers I have known who can create their own realities, just as actors create completely new people, such as Rob Sassone, Tim Clostio, and Richard Lind, amaze me exactly because it is so unlikely that anyone could do such a thing and do it well. (And, yet, most writing is crap, which makes the fortunately constructed tale or book or whatever so amazing.) I just wish they didn’t whine so much. Bunch of pussies.

As for philosophers… listen, if you want to ask me a question, ask it. But ask it honestly and be sure there’s a reason. We’ll never truly know the nature of reality. So, until there’s nothing else on our plate, let’s deal with the important things that are going on. We have an illegal war, a planet going quickly into Fucksylvania, and a human race with no sense of right and wrong. Let’s start with that. And don’t be cute. Don’t take opposing sides just so you stand out and can act smart. If it’s a good idea to help one another, leave your Libertarian bullshit at the door. Assholes. I’ve never met a philosopher I liked. There. I said it. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Robert Pirsig is a philosopher who I consider to be extremely important… I’ve just never met him. I have known philosophy professors who I liked a great deal, however, so maybe you can count that. The rest of you, straighten the fuck up.

So, then, what does that mean, that I consistently surround myself with the types of people I hate? Does it mean I hate myself? After all, I’m an actor, a writer, and a philosopher – and there’s no guaranty that I’m at all good at any of those things.

I spent most of the evening and this morning thinking about this.

Here’s what I think.

Each of these, actor, writer, philosopher, is something that takes a great deal of very hard work to even approach a minimal level of competency. So, I guess the pitfalls along the way will include self-indulgence, some bitching, and a bit of lost focus. In other words, you’re going to end up with a whole lot of people who simply can’t do it. And posers? Oh my god! Tons of them! I can’t tell you how many wannabes I’ve met!

The thing is you never hear someone say, “Those janitors! They’re so fucking full of themselves!”

Wherever we strive for greatness, you’re going to run into some problems along the way.

I’ve been fortunate to know people who strive for greatness.

I guess I shouldn’t complain so much about the problem children.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bad stuff…

So, Consumers International released its list of bad products for 2007 and, I gotta ask, at what point was this not obvious?

Topping the list at #1 was Coca-Cola for Dasani Water, tap water in a bottle. In truth, all bottled water should be on the list. They don’t use environmentally friendly packaging (yes, there’s such a thing) and all that plastic ends up creating a health hazard – otherwise known as a world that’s polluted to fuck all.

Coming in at #2 was Kelloggs, for the great job they’ve done advertising sugar and fat to kids. Okay, seriously, it’s not that hard and everybody does it – McDonald’s, Hershey, you name it. So, why don’t we put a universal ban on this practice for everyone? Or do we like diabetic kids? (The idea, I mean.)

The bronze goes to Mattel, for selling lead to kids in the form of toys. We all know lead is a poison. How about making it illegal, then? Or, at least, pass a law requiring one lead pill a day to the family of every politician who doesn’t vote for such a bill?

But, overall, the winner (which I guess is the Missed Congeniality Award) was Takeda Pharmaceuticals, for advertising sleeping pills for kids. Good! Put them on uppers and then get them on downers – for the perfect child! Ever since the Pharms got permission to advertise on TV, back in the 90’s, it’s been a race to the shame. We haven’t seen the worst, yet, believe me. Why don’t we stop this practice.

Mind you, they left out the biggest seller from our Prez’s administration: Fear and Hate. Oh wait. That’s two. Forget it.

The Games and Music Edition…

It’s been a while since I commented on the worlds of games and music – and that’s probably because nobody listens to me anyway – but I thought I would again.

Let’s start with games!

The Pirates of the Caribbean MMO will be going gold soon. I am bound by my agreement from playing the Beta not to comment on the quality of the Beta. This I will not do. As for the game itself, stay far, far away. Kids will love this game… five year old kids… those who don’t play MMOs…

As for WoW, well…after patch 2.2.0 (the one adding in-game verbal chat), my whole game went in the shitter. It just wouldn’t work. The people at Bliz were kind enough to freeze my account until a fix was found. However, after several fixes haven’t worked, a real fix looks a long way off. I’ve even uninstalled and reinstalled the whole thing – a Herculean effort as any WoW player will know. Now, they’re saying that I need to switch back to a Wireless-G network and not use USB, to which I replied “It worked before the patch just fine so it’s not the network that’s the problem.” They just need to fix their game. Until then, I guess I’m not playing.

The irony here is that Keith just bought me 60 days on the game for my birthday. Whoops! I need to call him and thank him… and let him in on the joke… but I figured I’d write it here, in case he’s reading.

So, what does a guy do when WoW is down? Get a life? Hell, no! I’m married! (hee hee) Anyway, I’m a junkie. I need a fix. After playing Oblivion for a while, I decided to take a break from that. Great game, mind you… but… So, I bought Galactic Civilizations. Great game, in the spirit of Master of Orion, but it’s a snack with no story. That’s when I found Two Worlds. Let me start by saying that, if you play games and if you liked Oblivion, there’s a good chance you’ll love this on the PC. The graphics are beautiful and the gameplay is fun. The story is standard and the acting is subpar, sure, but it’s fun. And a lot of little innovations make it a pleasure to play.

I’ll keep busy until they get WoW working again.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll be able to catch up on my music, too. I’ve been horrible about keeping up on my bands. You see, once I really fall for a band or a musician, I become a total fan. I have to get everything they release. I listen over and over – I did, at least, until recently. I’ve just been too busy… um, playing WoW, mostly.

The last music I bought was Amber Rubarth’s. I like her a lot. The best thing about her album, Unfinished Art, is that, while it was released as an EP, she has provided bonus tracks to her fans for download. Her next album is finished and I will do the iTunes on that one, no doubt! But, in the meantime, everything else has fallen behind! I still haven’t purchased the new cd by The Thrills. I don’t have KT Tunstall’s new album. For crying out loud, even the amazing Steve Forbert has a new album that I’ve yet to purchase. Seriously, something is wrong.

I need to rectify that.

Thankfully, Vicky bought me the new one from The Boss (MAGIC) for my birthday. It slams into high gear from the first track, Radio Nowhere. (I previously posted it here.) I was surprised to hear him channeling Billy Joel in Your Own Worst Enemy, but have you seen Grampa Bill lately? Shit, someone has to!

Granted, I’d be completely happy, content, and overjoyed, if all I bought was a new Al Stewart album every two weeks – but this is the real world, right? People are out there pouring their hearts into instruments and microphones, into digital inputs, and I love music. I need to get to that.

Make some time.

Stop playing Two Worlds. (Who said that?)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fire and Water…

Bottled water. Bottles and bottles of bottled water.

See, Vicky and I have recently started weaning ourselves off of plastic bottles, which means bottled water, juice, soda, etc. Yes, it sucks but it will help make the planet a better place for our Green Baby because we’re producing a lot less waste.

… except for when we were in Cabo.

In Cabo George Lucas, you have to drink bottled water because the regular water is so… vile. And so, I watched us empty one bottle after another. Bottle after bottle. And it was really difficult not to see it as pound after pound after pound of pollution. (Yes, even recycling creates pollution. The only way away from it is to stop using it.)

But we had to drink it. We had no choice.

I had to drink it more than Vicky.

I was sick. I contracted Montezuma’s Revenge while we were down there, a fairly nasty case that made Vicky insist I see a doctor. The doctor pushed the fluids, which meant plenty of bottled water and Pedialyte, for electrolytes… and that also comes in a plastic bottle. After days of fever, neausea, cramps, weakness, and diarrhea that had me wondering if I was morphing into some strangely scatological mutant, I’d burned through so many bottles, I’m ashamed to say. I just pictured the mountains of plastic waste I was creating. (Granted, in Cabo, that ain’t saying much.)

By Wednesday, I was happy to be flying back to the last of water that, while not so clean that people did not still drink bottled water even if the bottled water was usually dirtier than that stuff from the tap, was clean enough to drink without worrying about getting some horrible, new disease… normally.

Then, as we flew over San Diego at 34,000 feet, we saw it. Huge, red smears marred the landscape, our introduction to the Southern California fires. They were huge. Including those we didn’t see, they created enough smoke to blot out the sun all around LAX, where we landed. Shorter winters make for longer, more intense fire seasons, all thanks to global warming.

It’s funny how obvious our species’ effect on the planet is, once you become aware of your effect as an individual.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Things we shouldn't have to say...

"The Senate is considering a bill that would grant immunity to any telecom company that assisted in the administration's illegal wiretapping. Chris Dodd promised to put a hold on any such bill, and Joe Biden and Barack Obama pledged to uphold it. We believe that any bill coming before the Senate that includes provisions for so-called 'amnesty' for large companies involved in illegally spying on Americans should be opposed, and have authored a letter to this effect addressed to Majority Leader Reid."

Amnesty for criminals? Is that what these "law and order" Repugs are all about?

Sign the letter.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Strong turtles…

Anyway, as I said, we’re back. We’ve returned from a week in Cabo San Lucas.

… not much to say, really…

Once upon a time, I’d write the entire trip up into one, long narrative. But now I’ve become old and lazy and fat and boring and slow and … you can stop me at any time!

So, I figured I’d give you the trip a little at a time – or until I get tired to telling you – which could be tomorrow…

Saturday morning.

Vicky and I were walking the beach, watching the beach come to life. People were waking up, some were walking on the shore with us. I’d already been up for a while. I’d tried jogging on the beach – very unsuccessfully, however! The sand in Cabo is thick and you sink into it pretty far, a big change from the shore in Orange County. So, I only ran about half a mile before I was through. Then, Vicky wanted to walk it so… back I went.

Here and there, we’d pass tracks in the sand that looked like little Tonka trucks. I explained to Vicky and I’d seen one of these tracks being made. Turtles, I told her. Little, baby turtles.

Sure enough, we found one of these little guys (the girl turtles had pink bows on their shells) propelling himself fiercely down to the water. Like I had when I’d seen one before, Vicky struggled with the idea of picking him up and putting him in the water. But sometimes you have to allow things the struggle their lives bring them and, while this is in no way meant as a political statement, we decided to let the turtle get down to the shore itself. (Now, if your mind just went to the allegorical idea about helping those less fortunate than ourselves, that would indicate a couple of things. First, seek help because your mind is as political as mine. Second, this is not to say we should let those less fortunate struggle on their own without helping them. The turtle’s struggle is instinctive and a natural part of his life. We can make the act of giving natural to ourselves or we can make our greed and selfishness more natural, but I’m willing to bet one of those is a better, more caring nature, one that just about every religion in the world espouses – and no, Mr. Republican and Miss Libertarian, I’m not talking about greed and selfishness.)

Vicky and I stood there, cheering it on, until another couple came up… and thought we were nuts. Okay, so we had to explain ourselves. Then, they joined in.

When the turtle got down to the water, it looked like he’d made it, Then, a big wave picked him up and dropped him several feet back up the shore, in the wrong direction. But he seemed to have got a taste for the water because, as worn out as he was before, now he charged back down!

… and was picked up and dropped several feet in the wrong direction again.

We really began to worry. How does a little thing like that fight the powerful tide of Cabo??

Then, it hit another big wave. Only, this time, it didn’t get washed up! It was in the water!

It was my favorite moment with Vicky, believe it or not, my favorite of the trip. The two of us, rooting for a baby turtle. I don’t know what that says but I think there’s something there that sums us up.

… oh wait. That’s it! I want a baby! OH, VICKY!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Just so you know… we’re back…

Good Evening. And Welcome to another Episode of Café Tourettes.

Waiter: Thank you for dining at Café Tourettes. Can I take your – FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! – can I take your order?

Customer: Yes, my wife will have the salmon and baby potatoes – SUCK MY BALLS! MY BALLS! SUCK THEM! – and I think I’ll try the leek soup and a small, green salad – I SNORT THE IMMORTAL ASSHOLE OF THE WICKED! SHIT! SHIT! – does that come with capers?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And as for the aggressive part…

In class last night, a girl – her name is Shawn and she reminds me very much of a girl I knew in the 4th grade named Shawn… except she’d have to be 20 years older – looked over at my notes and said, “You’re a very aggressive individual.”

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Your handwriting,” she explained. “You have very decisive lines. Very aggressive and decisive.”

“Oh,” I replied. “I don’t know. I guess.”

Well, so much for decisive

The good and bad of international travel…

Yes, okay… fine. This is going to about a trip to Mexico. Hey, that’s as “international” as Vicky and I can afford right now, okay?

So, our big trip to Cabo is approaching and I cannot wait. I’ve had it with working and schooling and waking and standing and locomoting and moving and respirating. (I’ll be staying in the Intensive Care wing of the resort.) It’s been over a year and a half since our last trip and I am DUE!

Vicky and I will be going to the RIU Palace in Cabo. This is a place recommended to us by people we know – well, Vic knows them – and we hear it’s wonderful. Now, I’ll tell you all about the amenities after we get back (so I can tell you what’s really there rather than what I hear is there); today, I just want to tell you about the reviews.

Of course, I’m starting to settle into “vacation mode”, that peculiar condition where you might as well already be on vacation for all the good you are to anyone. So, my mind has been set on 24-hour RIU. One thing I’ve started doing has been to read all the reviews.

Okay, that was a mistake! The reviews make me wish I was going somewhere else… like HOME!

Let’s start with the good reviews. The good reviews usually start with “It’s not that bad”… way to sell! They talk about how they were never robbed or mugged or beaten by police once… which, in my book, is always reason to celebrate. They mention how the food isn’t the best – and this is a good review? – but they didn’t once vomit.

In a way, the good reviews worry me more than the bad ones.

The bad reviews are oftentimes just funny.

One reviewer said her husband fell down a flight of stairs – but he wasn’t drinking! No drinking! He really wasn’t drinking!... I wonder if it’s at all possible he might have been drinking – and how it took the resort staff a long time to get him help. Several thousand other guests might do that… maybe…

Another reviewer mentioned that she had $400 stolen from her. Why the hell did you bring $400 – cash – to Mexico???

It’s not just that the reviewers are stupid. They just seem consistently suspicious.

My favorite one, though, the one that has put all suspicion out of my mind and readied me to just sit back and enjoy the mayhem, was posted today. I’m going to quote directly for you. This one was from another woman… and why do they all seem to be from women?... who starts by saying that the resort was “nothing short of being a complete and udder waste of my time and money.” You can’t make that stuff up.

But it gets better. “The whole resort is a joke, 24-hour food service? They don’t serve past 10:30 pm, and they don’t start serving until next day at 7 am. The food was comparable to cheap frozen dinners, (tasteless and awful) all 6 adult people and 3 kids in my party suffered from food poisoning.” The food was horrible and we hardly got any!!!

Even away from the resort, this woman wasn’t happy. “I scheduled a excursion of parasailing at the hotel lobby, when we went to the site on the beach they told me that they must take me by jet ski to the main boat so I could parasail, I asked for a life jacket vest since I don’t know how to swim plus Cabo San Lucas is also very well known for their high tide and big waves, they would Not supplied me with one! They told me that they are professional and I don’t need one!!… They assured me of my safety and pleasant experience!!, sure enough, shortly after that statement they the jet ski flipped over on my leg which I got injured from and they dropped me in the ocean which resulted of ruined my $700 digital SLR camera.” If I may, I’ll translate this into English for you. She wanted to engage in a dangerous sport. She arranged to engage in a dangerous sport. But she felt that going to engage in the dangerous sport was… well, too dangerous. She wanted to go out and sail over the water but didn’t want to be near the water. She couldn’t swim but agreed to get on a jetski without a life “jacket vest”. Then – and, really, isn’t this the best part? – when she falls in the water, she doesn’t blame her own stupidity for being talked into getting on the jetski, she blames someone else (big surprise!). AND, apparently, she was dumb enough to bring her (apparently not waterproof) digital camera with her!

Then, she closes by saying “There was no where to run to or escape.” Lady! You’re surrounded by resorts! You’re not on Riker’s Island! Not even Wesley Crusher’s Isthmus! Get a fucking clue!

Is it possible this woman’s correct? That the food is horrible and in such small portions? That they waste udders? That they force you onto jetskis and break your cameras? That there is NO ESCAPE?

Yeah. Sure. Maybe.

But I live for danger.

… oh, and we got the name of another resort just in case… did I mention I want to parasail?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My name is…

Today’s my birthday. Now, after you’ve taken the empathetic heavy sigh, I thought I’d provide you something a little different with regards to the daily bloggeration… my name.

I was named after my uncle Kenneth, I was told when I was a child. Why? What did he do, I’d ask. I assumed you had to do something special to have something named after you, the way my elementary school was named after John Adams or my high school was named after… well, an elongated depression between uplands, hills, or mountains. Okay, so my high school doesn’t count but I figured my uncle must have done something… really… What? Nothing? Nothing at all? You just liked the name?

Well, then, it can’t really be considered “being named after him”, now can it? And then, it turned out my uncle Kenneth wasn’t really my uncle at all. My mom was adopted. He was kind of my pretend uncle.

This just gets shakier and shakier.

It gets worse when you get to my middle name, Russell. “Why was I named Russell?” I’d ask as a child, usually trying to find something – oh for the love of god, anything! – interesting about my name. My mother would answer, “You were named after your dad’s, um, some guy, um, I think they were friends or something, um, oh – look! – a butterfly!”

Nobody’s entirely sure why I was named Russell. I’m guessing that, once again, they just liked the name. That’s not a bad thing, mind you. If Vicky and I ever have children, the names we have in mind are ones that we like. If my mother had just said that, things would have been on much more solid ground.

As a boy, I had choices, some known. I was totally in the dark about others. I had no idea I could be called Rusty. The thought never even occurred to me, which is probably a very good thing. I mean, can you imagine me with the name “Rusty”. Yeah, that’s scary. No, I eschewed the middle name and played around only with the first.


Ken. Kenny. Kenneth. Those were my options.

As a child, people called my Kenny. Friends found it friendly. Enemies found it easy to remember when beating me up. (I was a puny kid with glasses, what do you expect?) But, by the time I got to high school, I was tired of it. And, after all, who wouldn’t be? People would say, “Kenny?” and I would reply, “What-ey?” I was sick of the childish-sounding name! So, one day I dropped the “ny” and became “Ken”. Just like that, people started calling me “Ken”. I don’t know how it worked; this was, after all, pre-Internet.

By the time I hit my 30’s, I was tired of Ken, too. It’s just so guttural. “Ken. Ugh. Food.” It’s hardly an adequate representation of me. So, I decided to screw all derivatives. I was going with Kenneth!

… unfortunately, the rest of the world stuck with Ken. Kenneth was a better sounding name. It had substance and heft. It sounded cerebral, as if it was “neth” better than “ken”.

But nobody was buying it. And this was post-Internet.

So, I just learned to live with it.

Occasionally, people will still call me Kenny and, I have to say, I find it rather nice at times. As I get older, Kenny has a refreshing ring to it. I wouldn’t want to be called it all the time, mind you, but it’s a friendly change of pace.

There was a woman I worked with at Linksys who always called me Kenny. She was the only one there to do it, so I let her. Her name was Karen and she’d always say it was “Karen with a K”. (To which I would reply, “Thanks for clearing that up.” She never got it.) So, I guess mine is “Ken with a K” for the easily confused.

Meanwhile, yes, Russell has been completely ignored. Like the extraneous male nipples, I don’t really do anything with Russell… and here I will end with a quandary.

I know Ken La Salle rather well. This Russell La Salle guy, though, is a stranger to me.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Twice legal…

Back then, the Warehouse Restaurant in Newport Beach had a dark, almost seedy décor. October 16, 1986 fell on a Thursday, so I’m not entirely sure my 21st birthday didn’t start getting celebrated a day late. Then again, I was 21 at the time so who can tell? All I know is that I spent the weekend in an inebriate state. Richard Lind and I drank. Sean Roberson and I drank.

But when I went to the Warehouse, I went with Rosa. I remember clearly how much I was surprised. As usual, I put on a suit – I used to like dressing up back then… back when I would fit in a suit – and Rosa drove us to and parked in a seemingly random parking structure. But when we walked into the Warehouse, well, I was kind of blown away. It was my kind of place. It looked like the kind of place the Rat Pack would eat at and, though I wasn’t too aware of exactly who the Rat Pack were at the time, that was the kind of place I wanted to be. Rosa told me she had looked for a place where I could eat a good steak and drink… my fill…

I don’t remember what I was drinking back then. The other day, I seemed to remember Tequila Sunsets. This morning, I recalled that the first legal drink I ordered was a scotch on the rocks. Odds are, I kept trying different drinks. After dinner, we went down to the bar, which was also equally seedy and dark, and we listened to a band and I drank. I drank so much, I started using furniture and the wall to guide me when I went to the bathroom.

I remember this because, as it turns out, I’ve got a hangover this morning. There’s a shock. Vicky, Jeff, and I had a little dinner on our patio last night and my bride and I polished off two bottles of good, red wine. Okay, she helped. I did most of the polishing.

This year’s birthday, my 42nd, hasn’t been my favorite – but, then, what birthday is? I’ve always hated my birthday – but Vicky’s done what she can with a depressed Ken. And I'm glad to have her around. I’ve lost a lot of friends in the last few years, some intentionally, some just because. And that’s probably what has made me so nostalgic of late, thinking of the old times and people I miss, some things that were just unavoidable.

And then, I look forward and I realize how anything is possible.

Do this experiment. Cut your age in half – that’s simple math, people – and try to recall what your life was like back then. At 21, I was a man becoming. I didn’t know what direction my life was taking me in or even how I could lead it. I knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to act. I knew I wanted Rosa around and it would help to move out of my mom’s house. But I hadn’t finished my first book and I hadn’t done a show in four years. Rosa and I would soon move in together – and marry shortly after that – but I had no idea what being a good partner or even a good friend meant.

Now, with 42 just a day away, I think about everything that’s happened between now and then and how you live through extraordinary changes you can never see coming. Now, I am a writer. I’ve finished a number of books. I’m in college. I have a career. Though things with Rosa ended tragically, I am blessed with Vicky and I have a clearer idea of just how much that means and what I can do to help things work. True, I’ve lost a lot of friends but I can make more… somehow, I’m sure.

Life is good.

Let’s see what 63 holds…

Friday, October 12, 2007

We have wasps! Lots of wasps!...

Lots of crispy, crunchy dead wasps!

That’s right, bitch! I smoked ‘em!

(Which is in no way saying that I rolled them in paper and, lit them on fire, and inhaled them… though it has been a while since my last real good evening of smoking. I mean, I had two last week but that was nothing compared a whole night of scotch and smokes… um… but I digress…)

You see, Vicky and I had these nice decorations on our patio. We hung these pretty, paper lights (each one a colored globe of paper with a light in the middle) from our patio umbrella and also put up a nice, wooden, wind chime that bro-in-law Mike had given us from Hawaii. (Which is not to say we were too lazy to pick up our own when we were in Hawaii. Not at all. We were too cheap.)

We first noticed the wasps sometime in August. I know because I think that’s the last time we sat out on the patio for dinner. Occasionally, I’d muse about how wasps love wood (the tree kind, you pervert) and how they’re probably setting up a nest inside the wooden wind chimes and, a bit more occasionally, Vicky would muse about how I oughta get off my fat, lazy ass and do something about them. Ah, wives.

Then, as I was sitting on the patio one day, I noticed a wasp actually go into the wind chime. Could I be right, I wondered? So, I walked underneath the chime and put my face beneath it.

Here’s a tip. If you think a wind chime is filled with wasps, DO NOT put your face beneath it!

Turned out it was filled with wasps and I ran like hell, leaving a brown, runny trail. Thankfully, they were domestic wasps and were too busy complaining about the price of bee honey, really good bee honey, not the shit that gets you killed.

Don’t worry, I told Vicky. Being an old pro at wasp eradication… what? What do you mean, you don’t believe me? Listen, when I was a kid, growing up in Santa Ana, I was a wasp hunter, baby. (That and my mom and older brother wouldn’t do it… dammit…) It’s simply a matter of taking a stick and knocking down the nest late at night when they’re less likely to attack… oh, and running the fuck away.

Of course, when the nest is inside a wind chime…

So, I waited a few days – or weeks if you hear Vicky tell it but what does she know – until I could stall no further and Vicky was making me sleep on the patio. I took a scissor and cut down the wind chime… and ran the fuck away. Then, it took me several more weeks to toss out the wind chimes… wait… have I thrown that away, yet?

So, all was good and happy again at Casa La Salle.

More or less.


See, the thing is, Vicky was out on the patio one day and saw more wasps hanging out on her paper lights… and ran the fuck into our screen door… and through it! Grace under fire, that’s my Vicky. But, as I’ve said, I’d have no purpose in that home if it wasn’t for pest eradication. It was time to take out the lights.

“Don’t worry,” I told my spazzing spouse. “I’ll just clip them down at night when the wasps are gone. It’ll be a breeze.” So, that night – or the next – hey, better late than never! – I went out with scissors in hand and clipped the ties that hung them up. I clipped one. I clipped the next. I clipped another. And then, Vicky pointed out the mass of wasps hanging out on the next light and we both ran.

The next day, Vicky bought some of that wasp spray you’ve heard so much about. It must be new… or my mom was fucking with me every time she handed me the stick and told me to go a’hunting.

“You might want to read the can,” Vicky told me.

“Read the - ? What the hell, woman? I’m a man. I don’t read no directions!” I gave the can a shake, held it up to the wasps…

“Overkill” is probably too tame a word for what happened. A thick, foamy stream covered the wasps and the lights and the umbrella and that patio table and the patio and the street and the next house over… but you can be goddamned sure there weren’t any fucking wasps!!!!

The next day, crunchy, dead wasps littered the patio table’s surface.

My work was done.

Now, who’s gonna fix this screen?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Whatever happened to police brutality?...

Now, before I start ranting, let me say that I know police officers. I have one in my family.

That said… what the fuck? I was at the gym this morning, treading along the treadclimber, watching an episode of COPS. (What do you expect is going to be on Fox at 4:20 am?) The episode is filmed in Las Vegas, apparently, and – one after another – people are being brutalized for… standing… catching things… having their hands in their pockets…

Seriously. One guy caught someone’s bike as it was falling down some stairs. The owner chased it and I thought everything would be fine – then a COP knocked down the guy who caught the bike. “Were you trying to steal it?” he shouted. The victim insisted, “I wasn’t trying to steal anything.” “Not once you saw me,” the COP smirked.

Another COP was told to look for a white guy with red hair. He pulled up to a guy standing next to a store with his hands in his pocket. “What are you doing?” the COP yelled. “I’m sorry? Am I doing something wrong?” the man asked. Then, the COP throttled him, punched him, knocked him to the ground, and put his knee on his neck. The victim kept asking, “What did I do?”

Now, back in my day (granted, this was the 1970’s and 1980’s), footage like that was usually shown in court, not on TV. How did police brutality become entertainment? Are we so afraid of the boogeyman that we’re okay with allowing the police to brutally beat innocent people or have we forgotten that we are innocent until PROVEN guilty?

And normally, I would dismiss this as TV CRAP.


But on the next TV over, on a local news channel, the scene of a black guy standing in a parking lot, looking confused, getting jumped on and beaten by a bunch of cops was shown and the “reporter” was stating that he had “resisted arrest”.

I can’t wait for the day when we all really start to resist.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

These are the people insisting that they are protecting our children…

So, let me see if I have this straight.

SCHIP is a program that helps provide healthcare for poor, sick children. An expansion of SCHIP, to heal more poor, sick children was passed by Congress, funding it, partially, with a tax on cigarettes. The idea there is that it would discourage smoking. Fewer smokers. Fewer poor sick children.

A win-win.

But, as we know, Shrub would have no part of that. His veto made his brown and dusty heart just wheeze with glee.

When a 12-year old child spoke up against that – or, I should say, when the Dems allowed a child to speak… what did the Repugs do?

The smeared him. The smeared the child and the Democrats who allowed him to speak.

Because that’s what has become of the Repugs. They’re the party that attacks children and refuses them health care.

Mother fuckers.

Friday, October 05, 2007

I’m weak…

“I knew I should have bet you big bucks you couldn’t go a whole year without writing a book!”

Wise words. Wise words, indeed. The woman who wrote these words is about to realize just how much she should have bet me.

I’m weak. I’m very, very weak.

Cut off from my many, wonderful nights of binging on booze and smokes, cast into a world of exercise and health, I need something to hold on to. Some vice. Some compulsion.

Okay! So I’ve started another book! I can’t help it! I’m an addict! Yes, I’m going to keep researching the book on food but… I need more!

You see, the class I’m taking just doesn’t require a whole lot from me. I’m doing it in my spare time, hardly attending class, and getting an A, for crying out loud! I need to fill my time.

More importantly, I need something to sink my teeth into… uh oh… words like that usually mean another horror novel. What’s the deal with me? I used to be a comedy writer, folks!

But there’s no fighting it. I’ve got this character trapped in my noggin, this likable, kindly serial killer. And right about now, Jenn is laughing her ass off and kicking herself at the same time.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Gay – Straight – Iraq – Iran…

Senator Craig, the most popular man in a men’s toilet since the guy who invented hockey pucks, is undoubtedly our topic today. But, in fairness and exhaustion, I’ll try to keep this short.

First, he was innocent, not gay, and resigning from the Senate. Then, he was guilty, still not gay, and staying in the Senate. You’d think he’d either make up his mind at some point or realize that guilt is why you resign. Then, he contested the guilty plea… which he gave, was still definitely not gay, and said he’d resign if he judge didn’t overturn the ruling. Today, the judge said the ruling should stand… and, though he is emphatically not gay in any way – doesn’t even like Doris Day movies – he’s still saying he’s not leaving the Senate.

Yeah, we’ll see what your Repugnican cronies and the (non)Religious Right say to that.

But this all sounds very familiar to me and I think it shows the new paradigm for political expediency. Try to follow along:

We went into Iraq because of WMDs that we definitely there. When they weren’t, we stayed because of Sadam, who was definitely the root of all evil. When Sadam died and evil remained (Shrub and Cheney were still in office) we stayed because of the chaos that was there… ignoring the fact that we were causing it… and because of Al-Queda… which was there because of us.

And now, there’s Iran. We’ve been threatening them because of their nuclear program. When that turned out not to exist, the Republicans in the Senate (Uncle Joe Leiberman) introduced legislation to call the Iranian Republican Guard a terrorist organization – despite the fact that, by definition, that’s impossible (they are an army of the state – terrorist organizations are not defined as such, which I guess could be considered a blessing in some circles except…) and the Democrats in the Senate joined in the vote to approve it and hand Shrub the other war he wants.

The idea, I guess, is to have absolutely no dignity, to lie, lie, lie, and keep on lying even after you’ve been proven a liar, with absolutely no regard for the greater good… oh… right… These are REPUBLICANS!!!

This is what they do.

How silly of me.

… oh, and Craig is definitely gay.

PB & J…

A few nights ago, Vicky was coming home late and I was stuck for something to eat.

Hmmm… what to eat? The problem is there’s never anything to eat in our house. There’s plenty of food, mind you. There’s just nothing to eat.

Food. (noun) Anything that can be put together to make something to eat.

Something to eat. (better noun) Something you don’t have to put together… cause you eat it.

So, I’m looking in our fridge… there’s some peanut butter… some condiments… some bread… some soy milk… some jelly… a couple of beers… Wait a minute, I thought! I can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! The thought didn’t occur to me right away, I think, because I’m long past the age of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Honestly, I haven’t had a PB&J in years!

And there I was, in my kitchen, the bread open like two, ripe thighs… wait… it was whole wheat… um, two melanin-blessed or very well tanned thighs… where was I? I opened the jar of jelly and laid down a decadent slathering of the sweet stuff. I opened the jar of organic peanut butter and…

… crap.

Stir. Stir. (The price I pay for healthier food.) Stir. Stir. (But, then again, my arm is getting a workout.) Stir. Stir. (That’s right. Work those guns!) Stir.

… and then I laid a out generous (if tenuously spread, not wanting to rip the bread) helping of mortar.

And slapped them together.

Okay, I gotta tell you, it’s fucking heaven. How is it we forget about these things we loved so much in our youth? My god! Amazing!

And, you know, even as I write this, I’m thinking of making one for dinner tonight.

Maybe even two!


This morning, I thought I’d bring you a couple stories, stories of how life changes, of the road along the way, stories of where we’ve gone and how we’ve returned, finding our tracks and following them back to where we started.

But then I decided not to and moved on.

Here’s the thing: Web searches will cause you no end of wasted time. That’s where this all comes from: web searches.

For instance, last night someone read this blog from Chicago (home of the vacuum flapper, pig-oil beer, and the Zeppelin Tube). They found it by running a search for George Sushkoff. I mentioned him a while back as my trusty sidekick in elementary school and my first, best friend.

And I thought about how funny it is that someone looking for George would find out, in the most random way, that he was once known as “Fart Boy”.

(Yes, I was “Fart Man”.)

(I can see you’re not surprised.)

So, I followed this person’s search and was, myself, surprised to find much more than just that. You know, useful information.

What I found was how very different George and I ended up in life. I found a picture of him, with his bride, Rosey.

Wait a minute…

Yes, Rosey. Okay, so maybe not so different. I was once married to someone with a very similar name. But George’s Rose is thin – and the differences do not end there. While he’s made his life about athletic competition; mine has been about performance and reflection. And, though the information dried up shortly after that, I’m sure our lives ended up very different in many ways. It’s clear we took different roads. After all, he lives on an entirely different coast! But I remember, even as children, how different we were. He would clip his nails, always brush, floss, and do all of the things a person is supposed to do. Me? Not quite so much. I ended up a smoker and put on a lot of weight. I drank a lot and went from job to job. Now, sure, I’m looking after my health better now than I used to and have even been known to floss on occasion but you can see how someone who makes a habit of doing things the way they are supposed to be done probably ends up with a very different life from someone like… me.

I would like to think George finished college, for instance. I’m sure he did. I’m sure he has a successful career and makes a lot of money. I would like to think that he’s happily married and he accepts things as they are and doesn’t create problems for himself thinking about the way they “should be”.

But that reminds me of something else I knew about George and that is that he could be very harsh and judgmental. One of the things a reflective life has taught me, I like to think, is a little tolerance and understanding. But I’m hoping George has the benefit of that as well.

I wish nothing but good things for George.

… because I still have all of my hair.

Another search I did yesterday, brought me information about David Graham, also known as David Osborne. (We artistic types are pains in the ass.) Turns out he uses either one, or so it seems, with capricious glee.

When David acted in my first play, Everything Changes, he told me how he was envious of me and how he wished he could have the discipline (I prefer to think of it as psychosis) to write a play. Well, it turns out he did and it was well received up in Los Angeles. If David and I were still in touch I would send a cheerful “Bravo”! But… we’re not.

And that’s probably a good thing, too. After all, David was always far more “right wing” than I… hell, Hillary is too! He’s probably far more supportive of the current war than I could ever be, for instance.

Here’s an example of what I mean by how he was more “right wing”. When David and I were once debating worker’s rights, he once asked me, “Don’t employers have the right to hire and fire who they wish and pay what they wish?” I didn’t have the proper response back then. I hadn’t thought about it enough back then. But I had a sense he was wrong. What I should have said was, “Absolutely not! Workers have a right to take part in any endeavor in which they have contributed. By hiring people to help their business, employers make an unspoken agreement to allow their employees to play a part in how the company is run.”

As I say, we are a bit different.

So, this morning, I’m thinking about George and David and how very different my life has turned out from theirs and because of them, and visa versa. But I am not unsatisfied by where I’m at. Finding Success has given me a great deal more perspective that I once had, allowing me to be able to look over there and, like travelers seeing footprints or seeing a distant sail, hope that person once here but long since on a very different road finds beneficial conditions and a safe journey.

But I do wish I could be there when word of “Fart Boy” gets back to George…

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

As Anal As It Gets...

“How can you be so meticulous about that and such a pig in real life?”

Vicky has said that to me more than once.

I have a confession. I eat in order.

Yes. You heard me.

I eat in order.

Salad – Veggie – Main Course – Dessert… unless I’m allowed to start with dessert, then I go backwards… sometimes…

So, I’m eating some trial mix with lunch, some really good, healthy, Bear Naked trail mix.

Cashews, Walnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, Raisins, Cranberries, and Dark Chocolate Chips.

… what a nightmare.

The reason I can’t eat them all at once is not a Jack Nicholson, As Good As It Gets, moment. I don’t have to wash my hands 14 times after, seven on one side and seven on the other, with a new bar of soap each time, turning the light on and off as I go. I am not OCD.

The thing is, I don’t want to ruin my flavors. I don’t know when this started. Maybe it’s a throwback from childhood when 1) my mom cooked so poorly that it was best to mix everything together in the hopes it balanced out, or 2) you had to eat fast lest my brother take it from you. I don’t know. But there I am with my trail mix.

The trick here is that I want those dark chocolate chips.

But I don’t want to ruin them. I’m not a big fan of Almonds or Cashews (um, raw, by the way and unsalted… I’m trying to be healthy) or Sunflower Seeds; I don’t want to mix my perfectly good dark chocolate with that mess. So, I start by picking out the Cashews and Almonds. Easy enough. I then move on to the seeds group – but the Walnuts are in the way. Now, I love Walnuts so I gobble those down, too. Now, to get the seeds, it helps if they stick to something; they’re so small. Raisins and Cranberries help out with this.

And that leaves me with the dark chocolate. The wonderful dark chocolate.

There’s like four chips in there.

Why did I get trail mix, anyway?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Boss is Back...

There's not too much music Vicky and I both love... then, there's the Boss...

Woke up laughing…

It’s possibly the second best way to wake up. (I don’t know why I’m being so coy as to the best way, considering what a great deal of this email is about.) I woke up laughing so hard this morning, I actually snorted!

I had some strange dreams. I’ll tell you the last one first but the reason I was laughing really had nothing to do with it. The snort came as a result of remembering that the pickle jar was completely empty!

The last dream I had took place in a small town with winding streets. I think it was Whistler, Canada, which is laid out much like the streets of a theme park. I went there many years ago with someone else, which is how I know it. This time, I was alone. I was looking in the shop windows, very depressed. Finally, I walked into an art shop and, amidst all the paintings and brushes, I leaned into one wall with one leg splayed out, both arms pressed against the wall, and my face planted firmly against it, as if I were some kind of modern exhibit.

I stayed like that for several minutes.

Finally, with the eyes of the young shopkeeper on me, I stepped back, looked at her, and said, “Sorry, I was just trying something.”

“Sure,” she replied. Then, she asked, “Life as art?”

I was walking to the exit. “Excuse me?” I asked.

“Life as art. You make yourself the display. I’ve seen it before. In Prague. But they were much better.”

“Okay,” I replied, stepping out.

“Not that you weren’t good,” she called out. “They were just more practiced.”

I turned a corner and saw her through a window.

She yelled, “I’m sure you could be very good as well, in time.”

So, if the whole writing thing doesn’t work out and I decide never to go back to acting… I’m just saying…

But the one before that really had me chuckling. The humor revolved around a certain bodily fluid, so I’ll thank you to stop reading now if you are easily offended by the flagrant waste of reproductive juices. Now, I could just call it sperm or I could try to be cute and use any of the euphemisms that fly about – man milk, baby gravy, what have you – but let’s just keep it simple and call it jizz…

The dream didn’t start here but I can remember it from the point where a gorilla was masturbating furiously with the ashes of the recently dead. I remember thinking, as a voiceover, “Gorillas obvious don’t know what to do with someone’s ashes.”


I just figured you’d know it would be weird.

Next thing I knew, the gorilla – who was now almost human, say… Jim Belushi – was running through the streets of a large city, carrying a pickle jar as if it was holding something very important. He ran right up to a pay phone where TV’s David Cross was talking on the phone.

“Listen,” Jim tells him. “I need a favor.”

“Sure,” David says. “Give me a minute.” He’s trying to finish his phone call.

Jim is holding, nay clutching, the pickle jar. “I need you to take care of this for me. Could you?”

“Sure,” David tells him.

Now, the camera goes back to Jim, and you can’t help noticed gobs of jizz running down the sides of the jar. His hands are coated in the stuff. “Could you put it in the fridge? Somewhere it won’t go bad.”

“Sure,” David says. Then, to the phone, he says, “Yes, Grandma. Yes, I know. I’ll get that. Yes.” He turns back to Jim and says, “Gram Gram wants some icing for her cinnamon rolls. Do you know where I can get some?”

By now, jizz is dripping onto Jim’s shoes. “No. No, I don’t.”

Jim puts down the pickle jar for David and runs away.

Soon, Henrietta Hippo approaches. (That’s right, bitchez. New Zoo Revue!) She is crying.

“What is it, Henrietta?” David asks her.

“It’s my husband,” Henrietta says. “I don’t think he loves me any more.”

“How can you say that?” David asks.

A close up of Henrietta shows jizz running down her face. “I think he just wants me for the sex.”

“That’s crazy,” David assures her.

But her face is smeared with jizz, obscene amounts, her hair is plastered down like some Japanese fetish video. “Are you sure?” she asks.

“Yes, Gram Gram,” David says in the phone. He turns to Henrietta. “Do you have anything to write with?”

“Of course,” she tells him. Checking her pockets, jizz runs out of all of them. She opens her coin purse, which she removes from her jizz-drenched coat, and pours out a quart of the stuff. “I was sure I had something,” she says. Then, she opens her bag, which is filled with papers and magazines… and jizz. The papers are swimming in jizz. They slosh around like noodles in soup. Then, she reaches into a side pocket and pulls out a drenched post-it pad. This is followed by a pen. The ink is white.

I love jokes that don’t know when to stop. Mind you, I will NEVER try to analyze that but, believe me, it had me laughing for most of the morning.