Saturday, April 28, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
The thing is, my dad’s in the hospital right now. And things aren’t good. The words being tossed around – backflow, heart failure, aneurysm – are all guesses referring to what may or may not be wrong with him. But the way I’m guessing, when your guesses go from the realm of “stubbed toe” and end up in the neighborhood of “heart failure”, it’s not a good thing. Then again, it could be nothing - see how this just fucks with your head?
I’m supposed to know something this afternoon so I could put this off and write it later. But I decided not to because I’ve been spending that past couple of days driving myself absolutely crazy, eulogizing a man who is still alive. Odds are, I’ll probably drive out to Arizona this weekend to see him. It may be to grieve him. I don’t know – and it’s the “not knowing” that’s the worst part.
So, my thoughts today are with my father. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you about my father so I thought I’d do that now. There are some stories you may have heard before but, honestly, when has that ever stopped me?
My father was born just before the outbreak of World War II, on June 8th… or 18th… um… 20th? Okay, so I have his birthday at home; I just can’t remember off the top of my head! That’s what happens when you live apart from your dad for most of your life… but I’m getting ahead of myself. He grew up in the forties but I think his formative time – the time to which he really belonged – was the fifties. Sure, in the forties, he listened to those old, radio shows he loved so much. But it was in the fifties that he got that slicked-back, Elvis Presley hair style he had for so many years, the way I remember him from my childhood. It was the fifties that helped turn him into a right-wing nutjob, that made him think right and wrong meant conformity over individuality, “Better Red Than Dead”, ideas that became so out of place and out of time that he became an anachronism to me more than just an absent parent. These things made him more of a mystery than a father.
He was bold, too. He wanted to be a musician. He wanted to be an actor. He joined the air force and went AWOL. He told me it wasn’t because he was rebellious but because of a girl, which was even better as far as I was concerned. He met my mom in the 50’s and took her to California. They started a new life with no friends or relatives, all on their own, and they had three kids. Eventually, he had to leave. I won’t assign blame but I will observe that my father suffered from the same, chronic dissatisfaction that I, too, have experienced and, on the other side, my mom could drive any man crazy.
I still remember the day he left. It is seared into my mind. I was five years old, not a bad kid but I blamed myself for that day just like we all do. That, and the years after, killed a part of me but they also gave birth to the actor and the writer and, even, the man who I am. So, as hard as it may sound, I can't fault him for leaving. I turned out fine. (Notice how I am not soliticing opinions?)
He left behind a couple of comedy records, one by the Smothers Brothers and another by Don Adams (pre-Get Smart). These were the basis for my sense of humor. I listened to them so much that I can still quote them from memory.
He tried to come back several times, as a father but not as a husband. My mom didn’t really want that and that’s understandable; she wanted back the man she loved. I am left with only a few memories of my dad after he left. I remember him bringing me a race-car set as a child and helping me put it together. I recall the many movies he took us (my brother, sister, and me) to see. Get this, they were always Disney movies and he hated Disney movies. He must have thought that these were the kinds of films you took kids to see, so he did. This is why I had to suffer through Bedknobs & Broomsticks, Herbie goes to Monte Carlo, and That Darned Cat, which is nearly unforgivable all by itself… but I’ll try.
My mom couldn’t have her husband back because the man who was her husband was in love with someone else. Her name was Blanche. The first memory I have of Blanche was at Disneyland. (Not a bad memory.) She amazed me. Here was a woman who laughed and smiled – You gotta understand, my mom wasn’t the same because she was on the other end of it. She was raising three kids on her own after having the man she loved leave her. Dad rarely paid child support – he was no saint, don’t get me wrong. Meanwhile, Blanche received his love and, yes, his money, so… I guess I’m guilty of putting Blanche over my mom. That was wrong. But, you know, the parent who is gone is always the cooler one. He never punishes you or gets angry with you or doesn’t understand you – there’s a certain benefit to not being there.
When he had an aneurysm, I was too young to go inside of his hospital room to visit. My brother and sister could go in, so I was often left outside and only heard about how my dad nearly died that time.
Then, came the time when I saw something I’d never seen before. I was 14. Dad and Blanche brought the three of us (my brother, sister, and me) to spend the weekend at their home. Here, I saw new furniture, a fridge filled with food, and “luxuries” like a TV and a VCR. For those of you who don’t know, I grew up poor. I have no problem with that; it’s the truth. Dad and Blanche’s home looked like heaven. So, being a teenager, I tried to ostracize my mom and live with my dad and Blanche.
But enough about what an ass I was.
Dad and Blanche had two children, one in the late 1970’s and one in the early 1980’s. Two boys. I used to call them my “half-brothers” but, in the end, they became full brothers to me. What I learned was remarkable. Dad was just as much of an enigma to them as he was to me. Nobody understood him. So, in 1988, when Rosa and I got married and Dad invited us up to Washington to get married there – and he arranged and paid for everything – we agreed (why not? We were going to elope!) and I used the opportunity to ask him questions, to try and get to know him better.
Rosa and I disembarked from our train in Seattle around May 19th, 1988, and found Dad and Blanche, Dwight and Richard, waiting. I hadn’t seen my dad in nearly a decade. My first words to this man with white hair was, “Dad! You look so old!” Did I mention that my middle name is “Tact”? He didn’t leave me at the station, thankfully. They took us back to their home in Redmond and I sequestered myself with my dad and started asking questions.
… he answered every one.
… and I still didn’t know him. I didn’t realize at the time that’s not how it works.
My dad loved being a part of my first wedding. He even walked Rosa down the aisle – as strange as that might sound. We were married in front of just over half a dozen people and the one crying, the one you could still hear on the video tape (if I still had the video tape), was my dad. Go figure.
But that got us talking again and building a shaky relationship. Not a house of cards. More like a Jenga.
I don’t think he ever understood why I left Rosa the way I did, which makes two of us. I had Blanche’s blessing but he remained quiet – and I could really respect that. And as the years afterwards passed, hearing him say, “Hi, son,” and ask how I was doing really started to mean something. I don’t know what he felt when he left my mom but, although I know he didn’t understand my divorce, I got the feeling he understood my singleness. He became something of a fan of my acting, but he wouldn’t watch anything with swear words – and that became a juggling act, let me tell you! So, he never saw my plays – the ones I wrote. And he never read my books.
When I was a teenager, after I had decided I wanted to write, I remember telling him, “Dad, I want to be a writer.” My dad’s reply was, “If you want to write, write.” It was a Yoda-like moment, so pithy and wise. What I had blocked from my memory was what a nuisance about it I was being and how he was probably trying to get me to shut up. That’s a good memory, though. I clutch it tight. I think it says a lot about my sense of self, my need for approval, my father’s understanding – both of what I needed to hear and what would shut me the hell up.
Around the same time, he drove down to see a show I was in. It was a show for choir (yes, I was one of those people!) and, as we were getting ready, we found out that Tammy Philbrick couldn’t get a ride to the show. My dad offered to pick her up, so off we went. On the way there, he asked me, “Is this the girl?” The girl? “The one you like?” I told him she was and you could see the smile in his eyes as I introduced them. Maybe he thought we would get married or that we would date or kiss or hold hands, for fuck’s sake! Okay, she wasn’t “the girl”. She was just “a girl”.
“The girl” turned out to be Vicky. After I met her, all my dad and Blanche could tell me was how happy they were that I was happy again. They made me sick. I was fine! Get off my back! I was really afraid for a while, though, that he wouldn’t like Vicky as much as he liked Rosa. I mean, this was my dad, after all. He wasn’t Mr. Sensitive; he was my dad. My dad could be a real jerk sometimes. The first time they met was at our house. Dad and Blanche had come into town and we were all going out to dinner together. And he was so happy to see her! He beamed! And I was glad because that went according to plan: Vicky should never, ever feel like she’s less than Rosa in any way, because she isn’t.
Vicky thought my dad was funny. This just goes to show how FAR OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY my bride is. She doesn’t get my jokes but she thinks my dad’s funny? Wrong! Just plain wrong! Wrong in other flavors, too! Filled with great wrongnessitude!
I’m just saying.
There’s a moment I want to tell you about. It occurred at the ending of the rehearsal dinner for our wedding. Everyone moved out of the room where the dinner was held. (For those who know the Hacienda, it’s the large room adjacent to the smoking section and the bridal suite.) I was picking up the check and my dad came out of nowhere.
“What are you doing, son?”
“I’m just getting this.”
He took the check from me and said, “No. I’ve got this.”
I said, “You don’t have to.”
And he replied, looking straight into my eyes, “I know. I love you.”
Which pretty much broke my heart. How could I hold any of the crap he pulled against him now? Oh well. So, he came to the wedding and he danced with my new bride and that was a year and a half ago.
I still don’t understand him. He’s still a mystery. But, you know, every time I’ve tried to pierce that veil he puts up, it ends in failure. I remember one time he came to visit Rosa and me, I put on “St. Louis Toodle”, which was a jazz piece from the 1940’s. I thought he’d get it. He didn’t. He kinda hated it. Every time I tried to bond with him, it just didn’t work.
Then, about a year ago, I was picking up some audio books. I love audio books. I found some old radio shows, which I just love. I mentioned them to my dad, in passing, and found out that he loved them, too. Recently, visiting their home, I found out he loves silent films; I do, too! He asked me about a month ago if I’ve ever heard of Allan Sherman. What? Are you kidding?
Here I am at
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining
I practically grew up on that song!
So, I’m just beginning to pierce that veil just the tiniest bit... and now, I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s infuriating.
But I do know this – this is what I get. Whatever relationship I can extract from my dad, is all I get. Nobody gets forever, no matter what relationship you are in. You only have so much time. So, you try to work around the crap and see the good. The greatest sin of all is waste and, as time is all you get in any relationship, wasting that time is the worst thing you can do.
I don’t know if my father is going to heaven. I don’t know if my father is going to hell. I don’t know if my father will be reincarnated. An educated guess would be: None of the above. And that makes this time we have all the more precious and worthwhile and important. But, if I had to chose one such fate, I think my father deserves reincarnation. My father’s life was filled with disappointments and missed opportunities and dreams too big to carry. What goodness he found is to be applauded and the sins he committed are to be forgiven.
Normally, I’d look for some catchy way to end this, but I can’t seem to find one. But that’s okay, too. It keeps going
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
And nobody has ever said to me, “Gee, Ken. That’s your fifth liter. Think you should cut down a bit?”
See, as a smoker – on and off, now and then, once in a while, take your pick – I can’t help but notice that cigarettes are pretty much the only time people say that. You never hear someone say, “Gee, Bob. That’s your third mile you’re running. Shouldn’t you cut down?” or “Say Mavis, shouldn’t you watch those olives.” Never. Not once.
And it’s not even a smoking thing. You never hear someone say, “Say Ted, that’s your fifth pipe in a row.” You know why nobody says it? Because nobody ever smokes more than one pipe in a row. There’s no reason to own more than one pipe! A guy could be smoking a pipe for hours but you move on to your second or third cigarette and you hear, “Hey, isn’t that your third cigarette?”
This is why I’m hoping marijuana gets legalized, because you’ll hear people say, “Gee Dude, isn’t that, like, you’re fifth dooooob?”
People who smoke from bongs, however…
Normally, you see, I go into work at 6:30am. I wake up at 4:00am, go to the gym at 4:10am, hurt myself for the better part of an hour, and come back at 5:00am. Then, I shower and dress and pack my lunch and eat breakfast and head out by 6:00am, so I can get to work at 6:30am. This is craziness.
This morning, I thought I’d try going into work at 10:00am. This sounded more reasonable. Anyway, I had a meeting at 7:00pm near my place of employment for the Orange County Writers Who For As Good As We Are Can’t Seem For The Life of Us To Get Published At All In Any Way Period It’s Pathetic Really tonight anyway, so why not just go into work late and stick around for the meeting. You know, and hope I’m not the only one there… again…
There’s something just fantastic about letting your body wake up when it wants. If only my body thought the same thing.
It’s so used to waking up at 4:00am, it woke me up at that time. I looked at the clock. No… it’s only 4:00am. I can get a whole lot more sleep than this.
Then, at 5:00, it woke me again. No kidding – I don’t have to wake up. Go back to sleep.
At 6:00am, I was getting angry. Didn’t my body realize I was trying to let it sleep?
At 7:00am, Vicky woke me up. “You wanted to get up and go to the gym, right?”
Now, I try not to grumble. Mostly because Vicky corners the market on that and, you know, you don’t want to steal someone else’s material. Instead, I said, “Yes, of course,” and went back to sleep.
But, by 7:15am, I was up and out of bed.
I got to the gym by 7:45am. Now, I was already on the clock. I knew that I had to be at work at 10:00am, which meant I had to leave by, say, 9:15am. It takes me a half hour to get dressed, get my lunch packed, and eat something for breakfast. That “something” is very vague because, being out of milk as I am, it’s usually whatever I can pull out of the freezer or the pantry that doesn’t require the accompaniment of milk. I’m not picky. Frozen dinners are fine! Anyway, that puts me back to 8:45am. With about a half hour to shower, brush, etcetera – and etcetera usually includes a ten minute discussion with the dog about how my workout made my shirt stick to me and who wants to pull that over their heads? – I was now at 8:15. But that only gave me a half hour to work out! I get more time when I wake up at the asscrack of dawn!
So, I stretched it out. I worked out on the elliptical, the machine that makes you think you’re running like a superhero, for 40 minutes, and then I was on the bike for 15. Now, I don’t know how I did this but it was only about 8:30am when I was done. All I can figure is I did that thing where you slow down time by running really fast. The Flash did this once, I think – so it must have been the elliptical.
Anyway, when I got home, I skipped my conversation with Suki. She didn’t look too put out, anyway. As I stepped into the shower, I noticed that Vicky had put up fresh towels. Beach towels. I thought, “Beach towels? For the shower?” And they weren’t just beach towels, they were really brightly stripped beach towels. I thought, “Either we really need to do laundry or Vicky is planning on having us join clown school.” One way or the other, I still had to take a shower.
Stepping out afterwards, it was like I’d forgotten all about the beach towels. I saw them and thought, “Oh, right. Beach towels.” It wasn’t until I started drying myself that I realized just what a fantastic idea this was. Beach towels! Suddenly, I felt like I was at the beach. Maybe Vicky was trying to hint that we should move to Jamaica? Either way, I was loving it. I thought, “I’ll just slip down to the water, lay down on a chair, get a little sun, and waste my day on the shore.” Then, I opened the bathroom door and was hit in the face by the fact that, while I was wasting my time planning my day at the beach, I still had to go to work. No Jamaica. No beach. Just a stupid towel. A towel of lies!
Great. Not only am I not going to the beach but I’ll be late for work!
So, I dash through the house, put on my slacks, grab my socks and shoes – so I’m pulling up socks on feet that aren’t entirely dry and the socks are resisting me. They don’t like wetness. They’re holding back. I’m saying, “Come on. You’ll get dry. I promise! Somewhere on the 91, you’ll be dry.” I pulled and pulled until I started thinking, “What would happen if I pulled so hard my foot went right through? Would that be possible?” It wasn’t… not that time, at least – and I race downstairs to heat up a burrito for, of course, breakfast. A burrito for breakfast, a yogurt and a fruit cup for lunch, and a chicken soft taco for dinner – and people say I don’t eat healthy.
Only then do I realize that the dog, my adorable Suki, is waiting at the door. I’ve got half a burrito in my mouth and my dog wants to go for a stroll. I can’t stroll; can’t she see that? I’ve got to RUN!
So, I take the dog out for a stroll. It’s now past 9:00am and I’m waiting while the dog sniffs where another dog peed. Great. We get back and I’m wolfing down my food when I notice Suki at her dish. She’s hungry. Of course. I say, “I’ll feed you as soon as I force down these last few bites.” When you’re in a rush, you don’t chew – you just push really hard. Then, I grabbed my lunchbox and my coat, ran out the door, got in my car, and drove off.
By the 91 freeway, my socks were dry – as promised.
But, of course, I forgot to feed Suki.
… um…. Vicky?
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
See? I told you.
You might hear people say, “You wanna watch a horror or a comedy,” I mean, sure, you know, that happens. And when you watch something together, you never have to worry about yawning. If Vicky yawned while we were watching a horror move or didn’t laugh at a comedy, I wouldn’t worry. In fact, I might yawn along with her. But, with a book, such would not be the case. “Was that a yawn? Are you yawning? Is it boring you? Maybe I should just throw the whole thing away.”
“Honey,” she’d say, “it’s two a.m. I’m just tired. That’s all.”
“If the book doesn’t keep you up, what good is it?!”
Vicky did not know what she was getting into when she married a writer.
And hey, I’d be happy to act. Don’t get me wrong. The thing is – and there’s always a thing. You could be in a sensory deprivation tank and there’d be a thing. Nowhere do you find something that’s featured as “THINGLESS” – I get to do a lot of writing in my off moments at work. No additional equipment is needed; I just think and type. To act, I’d need to set up a small stage in my office, find the appropriate play and seating would be a bitch. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done but I think there’s a chance someone might catch on.
See, here’s the thing – it’s a different thing, it’s raspberry flavored – I just got done telling Vicky how I think I’ve matured as a writer. I actually said to her that I’ve gotten good at picking my next project to work on and following it through to the end. Where I got that idea, I can’t tell you, but I’m sure it was on late-night TV because, let’s face it, it’s got everything.
I do have this horror novel idea. In fact, I wrote out a detailed outline over a year ago. And it’s good. I mean, we’re talking blockbuster. The problem, though, is that I already know how it ends. See, one of the key things about writing a book is that it helps if you, the writer, are interested. Me? I’ve seen this picture. I know the plot twists. Next film, please!
Then, there’s the comedy novel idea, which seems like a no-brainer to me – not that I’ve ever been fond of that saying. I mean, how can a phrase mean “that’s a smart idea” when you’re talking about people with no brains? Maybe because “giant-colossal-brainer” sounded lame? But all three of my plays were comedies and they did pretty well. I’ve been saving every punchline I’ve though of since Whatever Happened to Me – and I wrote that a year before I met Vicky! – so why wouldn’t I want to use them? Maybe it was Vicky’s response to the idea. Vicky, who has never laughed at one of my jokes, responded to the idea of me writing a comedy with, “Don’t ask me to read it.” And there’s the big fear. I mean, as a comedy writer, when nobody laughs you pretty much have to give up the title. Writers of love stories don’t have to worry so much. They can say, “Of course, you didn’t find it touching. You’re a slob.”
If I needed an example of just how fickle I can be – by which I mean pretty much the opposite of mature – last night, Vicky handed me a stack of papers. “Do you still want me to keep this?” she asked. The stack was the first chapter to a novel I had started about… well, to be honest, I haven’t a clue. But it was well written. I seemed to have some idea back then… “Hey,” I grunted from bed, “Why did I ever stop writing this?”
Vicky remembered it as, “Nobody said they absolutely loved it, which to you means they hated it.”
Touché. Two touchés.
And now, of course, I’m stuck.
But I realized this morning at the gym – at 4:00am how could you NOT realize something – that I so enjoyed writing Climbing Maya that I don’t really want to write another book. I want to keep writing that book. It’s like the first girl you try dating after breaking up. You’d like to enjoy her company but you know the only way that’s going to work is to pull out your wallet and say, “Listen, here’s a picture of my ex. Can you go in the washroom and try to look more like this, please. I’m sure you’re a fine human being but I’m kind of used to this.”
But just so you know, in the end, I stuck with the horror novel. It took a lot of deliberating but, in the end, it came down to the fact that I've been waiting over a year to write this book. It was in line first. That was the whole reason. If that's not like saying, "I'll marry the first biped who walks in this room," I don't know but, hopefully, the outcome will be slightly better...
Monday, April 23, 2007
I wrote the final chapter today. It takes place in the middle of the night in our bedroom. Vicky is dead asleep and I’m talking to her about the meaning of life. Vicky grumbles and tells me to shut up.
Who said this wasn't autobiographical?
So, I’ve finished the first draft of my thirteenth novel. Clocking in at 89,000 words, it’s a little shorter than I’d like but I’ll be adding and amending things during rewrites so anything could happen.
This book turned out to be far more ambitious than I ever thought it would be when I started. Back then, I thought I had an interesting book about people struggling with success. Now, I see that, all along, I had been aiming for the brass ring. You might call it the Philosophy of Empathy or Success Theory but it’s simple and profound and it works.
I’m very pleased.
Every book you write changes you a little bit, by which I mean every book I write changes me a little bit. When Cheryl read one of my earlier books, she said that she didn’t buy the story of hope because the writer was too damned cynical. You might say that, with Climbing Maya, I’ve grown out of my cynicism. Once you read this, any claim I might make to being a cynic just won’t hold water.
Looks like I might have to start acting like an adult.
But not right away.
Vicky and I are still sending With Eyes to See and No More Blue Roses to publishers and agents. After we’re done with those, we’ll need to start sending out Love of Your Life. However, once that one’s done, we can start sending out Climbing Maya. This is not a mass-market kind of book but I think those who do read it will agree it’s worth reading.
Well, we also bought some microwavable steel-cut oats… and it’s about these that I’d like to write today.
That’s what they are. Concrete slabs. I nuked one this morning and I could lift it from its plastic bowl like a brick. Hmmmmm… oatmeal bricks! Then, I poured a little milk on it, added a bit of sugar, stirred it up, and had a cold, broken concrete slab.
I think I need Vicky to make some of her home-made oatmeal to get past this trauma…
Saturday, April 21, 2007
… you believe that, right?
See, back on April 3rd I wrote about an audition I’d be going to today… yeah, but times change, don’t they?
In the intervening few weeks, a few things have happened, though…
First of all, I received the “side” for the audition. (A “side” is the scene you’ll be acting in for the audition.) I’d say it stank but that would be an awful insult to stinky, well, anything. I mean, this script was so bad, even Vicky was telling me how awful it was – so I knew it wasn’t just me. It was all just so phoney and sappy and melodramatic – did I mention it’s a comedy? It just wasn’t funny, basically.
So, why would I audition?
Secondly, I’ve been working my ass off lately, finishing Climbing Maya. And, as soon as I’m done with that, I’m going to start my next book, a zombie horror story. And I had to ask myself, “Why do I feel the need to work myself to death: have a full-time job, write books, and do this audition?” Why couldn’t I cut myself some slack?
So, why would I audition?
Also, even if I was cast – and the odds of that between my age, my weight, and my day job that would have created a scheduling conflict – I wouldn’t actually be able to do it without losing my day job. The job I sought for so long. A job I actually like!
So, why would I audition?
So, this morning, I asked Vicky, “Would you drive all the way to Bakersfield to put your money in a bank where you weren’t sure if you’d get any interest?”
Of course, she answered, “No.”
But I keep thinking I need to do that! The only reason I can think of audition is because there’s the off chance of something else coming of it, some better (paying) opportunity, something that didn’t conflict so dramatically with the life I’m trying to have with Vicky. And that’s kind of stupid. I mean, I submit my books to agents and publishers in a very methodical way. I don’t just put my books places in the hopes of someone seeing them! (Considering the results thus far, don’t think it’s not tempting!)
Going to this audition in the hopes that I don’t get cast in it but that someone, working on something else that might work better in my schedule, decided to cast me in other project… it didn’t make sense.
So, I’m staying home today and I’m going to forget that awful script. I’m going to spend the day with my wife and enjoy myself.
Next time, I’ll wait until after I audition to even mention it!
Friday, April 20, 2007
One of the most power men in the world spent his day commenting on the imaginary state of an imaginary afterlife of people no longer living...
Let's see... there's the worsening environment, attrocities being committed by the US in Iraq, horrifying policies against birth control by the Catholic church that stop people from even having a chance at preventing the spread of AIDS...
I guess he just had nothing better to do with his time...
Thursday, April 19, 2007
No, Maya is not a reference to a girl. Actually, it’s a reference to the Hindu concept that refers to illusion, specifically the illusion of this world.
So, how do you climb it?
And what does that have to do with success?
Ah, but that would be telling!
By the way, I’ve reached the 80,000 word mark so I’m closing in on an ending. Any day now. I might have told you that this book is autobiographical but even I didn’t realize how much so when I started. This could easily be a sequel to A Grand Canyon, the book about how I lost Rosa and gained Vicky, though that book has yet to be published.
I’m really looking forward to getting this wrapped up, completing the rewrites (you know, after I start them), and getting this book out. If I had to make an early estimate, and I will, I’d say this is easily my best work since Vampire Society… five books ago!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
You tune in by the millions to men who are specifically there to shock you – in fact, they are called “shock jocks”, and then behave shocked when one calls some ladies “nappie-headed ho’s” and shocks you…
You create a market in which machines of death are mass produced and sold at LOW, LOW PRICES, and then behave shocked when someone uses them in the manner for which they are intended…
You didn’t just get dropped onto this planet, you know. It’s your responsibility to see that things aren’t totally fucked up. Stop acting like you didn’t know about all this.
Next person who acts shocked – I’m slapping them.
Monday, April 16, 2007
… but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
This all started three weeks ago.
Actually, it started earlier.
As soon as I got hired, I knew I wanted to get Vicky something great for her birthday. But I had no idea what to get. She wanted a purse but… come on. In fact, the response (when I polled her friends) was a nearly unanimous “… come on!” That wasn’t going to happen. Vicky has more purses than she knows what to do with! And I’m tired of buying my wife stuff.
Let me rephrase. I’m tired of helping her acquire a bunch of useless shit that she doesn’t need. In fact, once I realized that it became much easier to shop for her birthday. Last year, I got her into a racing car (with Trish and Billie’s help). This year, I decided I’d get her a nice massage and a day at a spa.
… but… um… where?
The only spa I knew of was Burke Williams at The Block in Orange. So… I found the place!
Then, while driving home one day, we passed by La Vie En Rose, and Vicky said, “I’ve never been there. I’ve always wanted to go.” She didn’t realize I was still looking for a place to take her for dinner. So… I found the place!
The week that followed was a nightmare. I was on the phone non-stop with Burke Williams, as they changed the plans for Vicky’s day daily, making me have to change reservations with La Vie En Rose – daily! Finally, after more than a week passed, I’d had it! They had screwed up the schedule. They had screwed with my patience. They had even screwed up my credit card, causing my bank to think someone had stolen it – yep, another nightmare! I was done!
… and I rescheduled my reservations at La Vie En Rose… again. The woman on the phone knew I was trying to arrange a day for my wife though and, anyway, she said, “My boyfriend’s name is Ken. I like Kens.”
So, I told Vicky that we’d only be doing dinner – though I didn’t say where.
Which still left me without a gift.
I even tried putting a day together for her at Burke Williams online – no luck there, either!
But we live in southern California, a hedonist’s paradise! I could just make reservations at another spa… right….?
Ugh! More headaches!
Finally, I thought, “I should just pick Vicky’s favorite place!” So, I called Trish and asked her, “What’s Vicky’s favorite spa?”
And Trish said, “Burke Williams.”
But one problem I’d been having with putting together a whole day for Vicky was that she would be spending the whole day by herself, and she’d have nobody to share it with. Then, Trish mentioned that she’d been given a gift certificate. DING! IDEA!
So, I drove to the Burke Williams location and went inside.
Now, just to paint you the picture, there are three registers as you enter. On both sides, the walls are lined with “product”. On either side of the double-doors leading in, there’s a chair.
The woman at the far left register said to me, “Oh, just take a seat, sir. I’ll be with you in a minute.”
Okay, no problem. I sat down.
I saw her finish helping the people she was with… and start helping someone else.
That was it! I had had it! I got up, fuming, turned to leave, and heard, “Sir? I can help you?”
It was the woman to the far right…. If she hadn’t been so cute… anyway, I still had to get Vicky a present. So, I told her everything I’d been through and she apologized. Then, she looked up my name in her computer… and saw page after page of notes and how many times things had been screwed up. And then, she really apologized.
And she gave me a freebee to give to Vicky, in addition to the gift certificate I bought her.
I told Vicky that I’m done with surprises for a while. Next time, I’ll talk to Vicky and see what she wants. (NO PURSES!)
Thankfully, her surprise dinner went off without a hitch.
I asked Vicky to be ready at 6:15, although our reservations weren’t until 7:00, because that usually meant she’d be ready by 6:40… but she was ready at 6:15! Miracle of miracles!!!
I was a little worried about arriving at the restaurant early, but I figured we could drink until the table was ready.
It was ready when we arrived at 6:30, a lovely table in an alcove. Now, I knew the place would cost a small fortune but I wanted to give Vicky a lovely dinner. We had steamed mussels, and soup (lobster bisque for her, French onion for me), and beef tenderloin in black truffle sauce (me) and roasted lamb (Vicky). We drank champagne and an absolutely wonderful French pinot noir. For dessert, Vicky was given a lovely, little birthday pastry and we shared a Grand Marnier soufflé, and we ended the night with cappuccinos.
I only wished we could have gone dancing or something. Instead, we went home and shared a little bottle of Muscat. (That turned out to taste like ass… you can’t win ‘em all…)
So, Friday night Ken and I went out with Jeff and Gail. Jeff took us all out to Claim Jumper for dinner. Jeff and I have a tradition of going to Claim Jumper nearly every year for the past 7 years for our birthdays. Jeff gave me a beautiful orchid plant and Gail gave me some cute little trinkets. Oh and a pink princess crown to wear for the evening. You know I wore it with pride.
Saturday, Ken took me out for an amazing dinner at La Vie En Rose. The food and atmosphere were spectacular. Then he told me his story of trying to get me a gift. He wanted to give me a day at Burke Williams, but things just weren't working right. So, he got me a gift certificate for Burke Williams and I will get to enjoy a day at the spa.
I am so lucky to have a husband that is so incredibly wonderful to me (and yes I know that I'm spoiled).
So, here I am a year older, a year wiser and a lifetime happier. I love you very much honey pie.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Today is the day we celebrate the birth of Vicky.
It’s the Vicky’s birthday season. You might say that Vicky is the reason for the season.
… sorry. I’ve been writing so much lately my brain is mush. I just finished writing a lot about Christianity and now I’m writing about Vicky’s birthday… somehow, I combined Vicky’s birthday with Jesus’ birthday.
Vicky was born on this day in 1969, missing Woodstock by so much she doesn’t even know what it is. She graduated from high school at 18 years of age in 1988. In 1998, she turned 20, which somehow makes her 29 today… I don’t know how.
Her parents are Steve and Noriko, two people who, in 1968 at least, were fucking like bunnies. Vicky was born in 1969… and they didn’t have sex again for nearly a decade.
Vicky’s brother, Mike, is a Highway Patrol officer. He’s the only one in California who actually beats up cars.
Vicky’s dog, Suki, actually pre-dates me, when she dates me at all. (I’m sure you’ve been out with your share of dogs!) Vicky’s her favorite, though… although “why” is increasingly unfathomable. Vicky refuses to just give Suki a treat. Suki must sit, speak, beg, shake, make margaritas, clean the porch, and quote Proust before she gets her treat. And that’s not the weird part. Vicky insists on sniffing Suki’s toes and Suki sniffs and LICKS Vicky’s. They’re a strange duo.
And then, there’s the cats. Harley tries to french kiss Vicky. Othello screams at any opportunity, which Vicky contends is his way of saying “Hi.” If he were bleeding from both eyes, like red fountains, I’m sure she’d say, “He likes you.” Alacrity is learning. He stays far, far away from Vicky. He knows she’s crazy and he’s not afraid to, well, act afraid of her.
Finally, there’s me. The husband. I knew before I married her that she considered herself a “princess”… but I thought she was kidding. No. So, in addition to her regular manicure appointments, there’s the hired help: the pillow-fluffer, the tiara-polisher, and the keeper of the royal robe. Oh wait. No, that’s my robe. Vicky insists that I keep it inside of a closet and never bring it out because it might get cat hair on it… it was nice having a bathrobe, once.
But I was going to mention me. The husband. Only recently did I realize that I married a redneck. She watches NASCAR, eats pork rinds, and possesses not the least of desires to watch Ingmar Bergman. But I understand that. It’s my lot. She prefers the Rolling Stones and I prefer the Beatles. Granted, she doesn’t even know who the Beatles were… and I only base the supposition that she would prefer the Rolling Stones on two things: a) she prefers hard rock and b) she can’t wait to see the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
But I was going to mention me. The husband. Wasn’t I?
… I guess there’s no hiding it. I’m crazy about this redneck princess, something I never thought would happen in my life. I hope to grow very, very old with her so she can annoy me until I’m in my 90’s and she’s 40… or 50!
Happy Birthday, sweetheart.
And, no. You don’t get your present until tomorrow.
(Doesn’t make it more of a “future” than a “present”?)
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I reached the halfway mark in the novel about success this week. During my stretch of unemployment, I was writing less and less, being stressed about finding a job, and I honest didn’t think I’d get here. But, here I am, and it looks like getting to the finish is inevitable.
You’ll pardon me if I tell you it’s a daunting task. People have only been trying to figure out things like success for a couple thousand years! Now, here I come along, a writer with an Associates degree and very little success of his own, to tell you just what it is.
Keep in mind that the novel answers what success is, not how to find it. As I told Vicky, it answers what and why (as in, Why is this important?), not how. But I’m hoping it will be my own how (as in, How long until I get published?).
In the process of writing this book, I’ve made a lot of amazing discoveries. They were for me, at least, and I’m hoping they will be slightly as amazing for the reader. For instance, my definition of success has changed twice more since I last posted it here. (What? Tell you what it is? No, no! I’m hoping you’ll want to know so much you’ll buy the book!)
The only real disappointment has been my own timidity in the book towards discussing philosophy. I’m tending to whip by those sections pretty quickly! But then, maybe the reader will appreciate that.
So, now I enter the home stretch and it’s a bit depressing to have to go there. And I’m not referring to the book being behind me at that point, though that too will be somewhat sad. No, I refer to the content of the last pages. (Which is 45,000 words worth, if you’re wondering.) The second half of the book covers the last time I saw Tim, and the last time I saw Megan, and it’s hard to me to talk about losing them. It seems to cement things. But it’s important to move on, and so I do.
Anyway, I told Vicky that my next book will be filled with sex and violence!
Monday, April 09, 2007
(It's actually on Friday the 13th... but let's forget about that collision... perhaps I shouldn't say "collision"...)
I have the perfect gift ready and waiting on Saturday... but she'll just have to wait!
(You will, too. But, don't worry. I'll let you know on Sunday.)
Why don't they have chewable vitamins for adults?
... in gummy bear flavors?
Sunday, April 08, 2007
JOHN McCAIN’S April Fools’ Day stroll through Baghdad’s Shorja market last weekend was instantly acclaimed as a classic political pratfall. Protected by more than a hundred American soldiers, three Black Hawk helicopters, two Apache gunships and a bulletproof vest, the senator extolled the “progress” and “good news” in Iraq. Befitting this loopy brand of comedy — reminiscent of “Wedding Crashers,” in which Mr. McCain gamely made a cameo appearance — the star had a crackerjack cast of supporting buffoons: Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who told reporters “I bought five rugs for five bucks!,” and Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, who likened the scene to “a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.”
Five rugs for five bucks: boy, we’ve really got that Iraq economy up and running now! No wonder the McCain show was quickly dubbed “McCain’s Mission Accomplished” and “McCain’s Dukakis-in-the-Tank Photo Op.” But at a certain point the laughter curdled. Reporters rudely pointed out there were 60-plus casualties in this market from one February attack alone and that six Americans were killed in the Baghdad environs on the day of his visit. “Your heart goes out to just the typical Iraqi because they can’t have that kind of entourage,” said Kyra Phillips of CNN. The day after Mr. McCain’s stroll, The Times of London reported that 21 of the Shorja market’s merchants and workers were ambushed and murdered.
The political press has stepped up its sotto voce deathwatch on the McCain presidential campaign ever since, a drumbeat enhanced by last week’s announcement of Mr. McCain’s third-place finish in the Republican field’s fund-raising sweepstakes. (He is scheduled to restate his commitment to the race on “60 Minutes” tonight.) But his campaign was sagging well before he went to Baghdad. In retrospect, his disastrous trip may be less significant as yet another downturn in a faltering presidential candidacy than as a turning point in hastening the inevitable American exit from Iraq.
Mr. McCain is no Michael Dukakis. Unlike the 1988 Democratic standard-bearer, who was trying to counter accusations that he was weak on national defense, the Arizona senator has more military cred than any current presidential aspirant, let alone the current president. Every American knows that Mr. McCain is a genuine hero who survived torture during more than five years of captivity at the Hanoi Hilton. That’s why when he squandered that credibility on an embarrassing propaganda stunt, he didn’t hurt only himself but also inflicted collateral damage on lesser Washington mortals who still claim that the “surge” can bring “victory” in Iraq.
It can’t be lost on those dwindling die-hards, particularly those on the 2008 ballot, that if defending the indefensible can reduce even a politician of Mr. McCain’s heroic stature to that of Dukakis-in-the-tank, they have nowhere to go but down. They’ll cut and run soon enough. For starters, just watch as Mr. McCain’s G.O.P. presidential rivals add more caveats to their support for the administration’s Iraq policy. Already, in a Tuesday interview on “Good Morning America,” Mitt Romney inched toward concrete “timetables and milestones” for Iraq, with the nonsensical proviso they shouldn’t be published “for the enemy.”
As if to confirm we’re in the last throes, President Bush threw any remaining caution to the winds during his news conference in the Rose Garden that same morning. Almost everything he said was patently misleading or an outright lie, a sure sign of a leader so entombed in his bunker (he couldn’t even emerge for the Washington Nationals’ ceremonial first pitch last week) that he feels he has nothing left to lose.
Incredibly, he chided his adversaries on the Hill for going on vacation just as he was heading off for his own vacation in Crawford. Then he attacked Congress for taking 57 days to “pass emergency funds for our troops” even though the previous, Republican-led Congress took 119 days on the same bill in 2006. He ridiculed the House bill for “pork and other spending that has nothing to do with the war,” though last year’s war-spending bill was also larded with unrelated pork, from Congressional efforts to add agricultural subsidies to the president’s own request for money for bird-flu preparation.
Mr. Bush’s claim that military equipment would be shortchanged if he couldn’t sign a spending bill by mid-April was contradicted by not one but two government agencies. A Government Accountability Office report faulted poor Pentagon planning for endemic existing equipment shortages in the National Guard. The Congressional Research Service found that the Pentagon could pay for the war until well into July. Since by that point we’ll already be on the threshold of our own commanders’ late-summer deadline for judging the surge, what’s the crisis?
The president then ratcheted up his habitual exploitation of the suffering of the troops and their families — a button he had pushed five days earlier when making his six-weeks-tardy visit to pose for photos at scandal-ridden Walter Reed. “Congress’s failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines,” he said. “And others could see their loved ones headed back to the war sooner than they need to.”
His own failures had already foreordained exactly these grim results. Only the day before this news conference, the Pentagon said that the first unit tossed into the Baghdad surge would stay in Iraq a full year rather than the expected nine months, and that three other units had been ordered back there without the usual yearlong stay at home. By week’s end, we would learn the story of the suspected friendly-fire death of 18-year-old Pvt. Matthew Zeimer, just two hours after assuming his first combat post. He had been among those who had been shipped to war with a vastly stripped-down training regimen, 10 days instead of four weeks, forced by the relentless need for new troops in Iraq.
You can finish the article here.
Okay, that might be an understatement. Not only have I never shopped there but, the entire time we’ve been together, neither of us have shopped there. (I’m not going to try to speak for Vicky but I’m pretty sure she didn’t shop there before we met, either.)
They are horrible global citizens, horrible American citizens, and they are horrible to every city and town they swarm into. Just a single good example is the amount of government subsidies they suck up. And then, there’s the way they push their employees onto welfare rolls, how they deprive governments money for schools and other services, and even their own brands of propaganda. Are their prices low? Not if you consider the incredible strain they put on federal and local governments, employees, small businesses, and manufacturers. Shopping from Wal-Mart is like stealing from others. It’s just not fair.
Of course, I’m not the only one to say so.
And, in fact, there’s a great movie out there, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, that’s been out for a while. Vicky and I are kind of behind the curve on this one because we just saw it today. It does a great job of spelling out the many instances where Wal-Mart does some pretty horrible things.
I think it’s a great movie to see. If you can afford the price of lunch – a cheap lunch – you can get it from DVD Planet. There are also free showings, like this one in my old neighborhood in Orange, Ca.
I think it’s also important to note how much this film wakes you up to the power you can have as a citizen, how you can change things for the better. The company behind the film, Brave New Films, has created other films to help educate you on the truths behind the lies.
Iraq, Gonzalez-gate (if you will), and a federal deficit created to aid the mega-rich are just the start of all the atrocities being carried out in the name of greed. It’s time we wake up.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Not to piss on your parade or anything, you believers in any kind of afterlife, but honestly isn't life short enough without wasting your time even thinking about something that's impossible to know about until your dead, anyway? Gather ye rosebuds and enjoy the party, folks.
It's a brief candle but at least it's lit.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
(Um… where was I?...)
One of the things I read about today had a great deal to do with neurosis. Now, listen, I know neurosis. Neu and I go back a long, long, fucking long ways. I got the mother-fucker laid is what I’m saying. So, it was with some surprise that I found myself reading about how fearful neurotic people are. They’re very fearful, as it turns out. Fearful over what? Nothing! And everything! They’re most fearful about the unknown.
You should probably know by now that I’ve spent much of this century being called neurotic. My plays were called neurotic. Actors I worked with called me neurotic. Girls who have dated me have called me neurotic. (But you can’t trust them. They’re crazy. Just look at Vicky. She’s the worst – she actually married me!) So, it’s pretty established.
But, would I consider myself fearful?
… not so much, anymore.
And I spent the better part of today thinking about this. You could say I was fearful about not finding a job but that’s a known element, not what Maslow was talking about. No, overall, I’m not nearly as neurotic as I used to be. And that comes as something of a shock, really, because it’s how most people know me. But Vicky’s had a good influence on me, a calming effect. I can handle things a little better knowing she’s got my back.
… guess people will just have to find another adjective.
“Neurotic” just doesn’t seem to apply any more.
(Vicky: Okay. How about “bat-shit crazy”?)
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
I’ve been writing at an incredible pace lately. The book on success, the one I put aside for about six months, is nearly halfway completed! I’m amazed at how well – and how fast – things are rolling along. But progress comes with a price and here it is – for the first time in my life: I’m writing too fast!
No kidding. I hadn’t completed my research into Aristotle’s Ethics when I found myself already writing the section on it! I had to scramble to get all my notes together! I had no idea how they’d be integrated into the story and, in fact, it didn’t matter. All my notes are getting gobbled up by this writing machine I’ve become.
I’m only 50 pages into Maslow’s book and I’m nearing the section on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
… so, why’s this a problem, anyway?
Well, let me begin by stating that I’m sure this book won’t sell. If you had to get less marketable, I don’t know how it’s done. So, writing this book, of all books, quickly is unnecessary. Unnecessary? Did I also mention that we still have two books to promote – try to sell? This thing won’t see the light of day until 2008, even if I finish it this week. (Which, of course, I won’t. I’m just saying.)
The other side to this is that writing takes something out of you. It’s exhausting even when, and perhaps especially when, it’s done on such a subconscious level. Sit down and write 3000 words and tell me how lively you feel after. Now, try making it the middle 3000 words of a book on success… you see? I’m turning into a zombie and I can see the question writ large on Vicky’s face: “You just got a job. Why can’t you take it easy?” (The answer of which is actually in this book!)
So, the halfway mark is approaching. One of the big events in this book - and I think a sign of how action-packed it is – is Megan’s death and the aftermath, ending the book at her memorial service. Those few days are probably going to take up the last 20-25% of the book, with the preceding three weeks before it, which is my way of saying the book is going to be horribly lopsided. But I can think of nothing more meaningful in the search for success than a meaningless (which is to say “unnecessary”) death. In a way, I’ll be happy to race to the finish, just to be done with her death and move on.
But before I do that, I need to finish this book by Maslow…. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Sometimes things don’t happen they way they’re supposed to happen and then sometimes things do happen that were supposed to happen but didn’t happen and they throw a wrench into the things that did happen that weren’t supposed to happen and happen to happen when you never thought they’d happen because they happen to happen when you were certain there was no longer a chance of them happening…
I’ve been invited to audition for a feature film.
…. I’ll wait.
Are you standing again?
See, the thing is Vicky married a lunatic. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Am I a writer? An actor? Can I hold down a fucking job? Am I worth a god damned?
The audition is in Bakersfield on the 21st and… I have to go. There’s no way I can miss it. It’s the brass ring. It’s a big part in a comedy. I can’t say no.
So, I’ll audition.
The odds of me getting the part are stacked incredibly in the AGAINST column. I mean, well, let’s look at this:
1) I’m overweight
2) I haven’t acted in years
3) I have very little experience in front of the camera
4) On my best days, I don’t really have the look for film
5) I’m 41 – the part is for a 34 year old
And that’s not even getting into the whole “I’m not that good an actor” category.
I’ll audition and, when I don’t get the part, at least I’ll have the experience of auditioning.
If I do get the part… well, then I’m kinda screwed. It’s an independent film and it offers no pay. (Thought it does offer credit, copy, lodging, and food – which is far more than I saw on my last film… in which I had three lines…) It’s a ten-day shoot in Bakersfield. I’ll have to take time off of work… and, since I haven’t even worked for three months, might get fired.
Let’s try to forget what getting the part could bring. My SAG card? More roles? A real acting career? Those are ALL pie in the sky dreams.
… not to say they aren’t possible. They’re very possible… but that's only if I get the part...
Can you see now why try to I stick with writing?
Monday, April 02, 2007
In his search for success, he lost his job. He lost his best friend to alcoholism. Another friend died.
What the hell is success???
(This could change without notice...)
I couldn't hear the television - there's no volume at the gym - but I couldn't help imagining what they were saying, "Turns out the baguettes are stale and the wine is weak. Is it any wonder they had to resort to cannibalism?"
They just don't get it. It's not important to find historical accuracies in the Bible because the Bible is not a history book.
It's like looking for Noah's Ark, or trying to recreate the conditions that allowed Jonah to live inside a whale. I can only imagine people trying to find Sodom. "Well, it's very simple. You just look for the largest deposit of salt..."
"That's stupid. Everybody knows God used a nuke to take out Sodom. You look for the most radiation."
"Fools! He took them down with circus peanuts!"
And on an on.
The meaning of the Bible is not diminished by taking it out of an historical context. In fact, it's enhanced.
But, in the meantime, steer clear of the bagels...