Friday, June 29, 2007

Sicko…

No, this isn’t going to be about my eating habits.

Michael Moore’s new movie, Sicko, comes out this weekend. I know I’m the resident pinko but, sadly, I have no plans to see it. This is not to say I don’t want to see it. I just don’t have plans.

… MAYBE I SHOULD SUBTLY SUGGEST TO VICKY THAT WE GO ON SUNDAY…

Sunday’s our only free day and even that’s not free. We just seem to go from busy to busy and end up at busy these days. It sucks.

Tonight, I’m going to be meeting my brother at Garf’s in Costa Mesa. In case you’ve never been to Garf’s, let me congratulate you. It’s decorated in early-disaster but it has a smoking patio. Actually, I’m the kind of person who can be sitting in a toxic waste dump, if it has a smoking patio I’ll be there! This place was introduced to me by Chris Anzalone back when we were acting together and it was sort of a hang-out where my actor-friends (not unlike my super-friends… after we got kicked out of the Hall of Justice… for smoking… damn you, Wonder Twins….) and I would hang out. Now, it’s the spot where Keith and I meet when he comes into town. It ain’t bad… for crap.

He’s sure to tell me all about his new projects and I’m sure to not get a word in edgewise. (For those wondering, that’s why I “blog”, so I can get a chance to speak!)

On Saturday, I’ll be Vicky’s arm decoration for her 20-year high school reunion. So, I’ll need to look nice. (Don’t you feel sorry for Vicky?)

I still haven’t attended any of my own high school reunions for reasons already amply stated. But I have no problem going to this one because, basically, nobody will know me. Oh wait. Scratch that. A couple of Vicky’s “born again” friends will know me… and I will be forced to play nice. Let’s see how many drinks it takes to get to the bitter, bastard center of Ken.

But I’m hoping we have a little free time to see Sicko this weekend.

If you look at Moore’s films, he’s been pretty spot on. His first was about outsourcing and anemic corporate citizenship – check! His second was about the problem we American’s have with violence, and it’s still amusing to see right-wing nutbars deny that one. Finally, there’s Fahrenheit 9/11, where he predicts most of the things we later found out were true about 9/11 and Iraq and that criminal in the White House.

… No, that one.

… No, THAT one.

… fine! THOSE criminals in the White House.

(Remember the “good old days”, when a blowjob was a travesty?)

Anyway, we haven’t seen a single film in a theater since… well, it’s just embarrassing. Hopefully, we’ll catch this one.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Which might explain why Vicky doesn’t like taking long drives with me…

I just saw a website called “Wine Across America”.

Before you say it, I can see it coming: Sounds like a trip with Ken.

(Do I know my demo or what?)

Fair and balanced…

Probably not what you’re thinking – though there is a bit about Faux Noose.

It seems strange to me that the politically right-leaning (wackos) are so afraid of the fairness doctrine. After all, aren’t they supposed to be… fair…?

Mind you, the fairness doctrine no longer exists… in case you couldn’t tell… If you couldn’t, you really worry me.

As for balanced, well that goes back to the bedroom and a little more information about Vicky and me than you probably want to know.

(Cue the “Bow Chika Bow Bow” music…)

I tend to be the first one to rise in the morning…. No, wait. Actually, I tend to have the alarm that goes off first – my awakening has little to do with that. Some mornings, I catch the alarm shortly after it starts. Other mornings… say today… the alarm was going off for several minutes before Vicky (who functions as my secondary alarm) blew up, screaming, “WILL YOU TURN OFF YOUR GOD-DAMNED ALARM OR DO I HAVE TO KILL YOU?!?!”

I, judiciously, turned off the alarm.

See, Vicky is just the opposite. She smacks her alarm so fast I wonder if she actually lies awake, waiting for the – first – hint - - of - - - BAMMMM! She really a great hunter when she sleeps; it’s no wonder our cat, Harley, likes to stay close. She’s learning from a master!

Meanwhile, my alarm can go off for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour – until Vicky finally beats me senseless to wake me up.

The way I figure, it all balances out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Decades…

So, I went into the clinic today to get my blood work done… bear with me…

The place opened at 8am and, though I arrived at 8:10, I was fifth in line. I was just behind this woman (who I saw from her sign-in info was born in 1920!) with a walker who wobbled like a Scalia being questioned on ethics. She obviously needed to sit down but she waited patiently for her turn. Then, this bitch at the counter kept making her wait. It looked like this was going to be her last day. She even asked, “Can I sit down while I wait?” And the bitch said, “It’s only going to be a few more minutes!” So, I pretty much hated her.

I was called into a room, a while later, with three dental chairs and one phlebotomist. He circled us one by one, swabbing, prodding, and poking. After he swabbed my arm, I thought that this was the point where the usually tell you, “Now, this is going to pinch a bit.” I knew that once he said, “Now, this is going to pinch a bit,” I would get the needle. He came back to me – I waited for him to speak – and he jammed a needle deep into my arm! With no warning, I flinched – and he slammed my elbow down with his other hand… let’s just say, he wasn’t gentle. When he was done, he put a cotton ball on my arm and said, “Now hold this down or it’s really gonna bleed.” Oh, thanks.

Then, they gave me a large cup and said, “There’s a bathroom at the end of the hall.” I supposed they wanted a urine sample.

… But I didn’t need to go!

The worst thing, though, was the size of the cup. You could fit a Slurpee in the damned thing! Surely, they didn’t expect… Oh, what the hell. I walked back and asked, “You don’t seriously want all this, right?”

He didn’t even look at me. “No, just to the first line.” The first line was about a quarter of an inch (less than a centimeter) probably, up the side. So, what the fuck?

So, I left the lab and headed down the hall… and headed… and headed… and headed… and then, the hallway came to an end. The bathroom was occupied… and there was a line.

Oh well. We must all know why we’re here…

You’d think a lab that KNOWS it’s going to be taking pee samples will, at least, be close to a bathroom!

I guess I was a little irritable. Driving down to the lab, I felt a strong stabbing in the center of my chest and my breath was stopped. On my CD, Joe Walsh sang:

Minutes turn to hours, counting seconds tick away.
Another day tomorrow, tomorrow's just another day.
Days turn into years, and time goes by, over and over,
Again and again, and then, years turn into decades.
Decades.
Start another decade...

And, as much as I tried to fight it, I burst into tears. Whatever internal filter I might have hasn’t been working too well of late. Last night, as my sleep was punctuated by the strangest dreams, I felt compelled to tell Vicky about every one of them. Some of them featured Rosa and the guy she’s with… and Rosa… And, sitting in my car, with a shiv in my gut that seemed to have her name on it, tears streamed down my face.

None of it made sense but I guess that’s par for the course this week.

I’m not having the best week ever.

After the lab, I headed into work. At a light, I noticed a red stain on my sleeve. Dammit, the vampire was right! It’s bleeding! Then, I noticed the underside of my sleeve. Like the juice from a juicy sandwich, blood had run all the way down my arm. My shirt was drenched and cold from the air conditioning. For a second, I thought of going to the emergency room.

… then I realized that I wasn’t bleeding. There was no blood at all.

Dammit.

So, I did what I always do. I did what you’re taught to do as a child when you screw up or what you’re taught to do on stage when you flub a line. I shut that away in my mind and I continued going about my business.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I’m going to regret I ever said this…

What is it about Paris Hilton without makeup? She looks almost… normal… in a way…

almost...


... attractive???

File this under sketch comedy that nearly was…

The Apostles got a bum deal…

You’ve all heard of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John: the Apostles. They had some big hits in their days but, like all bands, they had their problems. Sure, Matthew had everything in balance like all good drummers. But John was too cosmic, penning the ballad, “Something in the way HE heals the lepers”. But the band held together until the big fallout before Mark and Luke. Luke called Mark obtuse and Mark accused Luke of just wanting to write hits. Indeed, Luke went solo on Acts, which still gets spun to this day.


… in the middle of this parallel between the Beatles and the Gospels (who I named The Apostles because, well, not only does is sound better but there was actually a punk group by that name), everything kind of fell apart.

I mean, look who’s calling who obtuse!

Anyway, I’m a little stretched today. Yesterday really drew me in all sorts of directions and I’m just trying to yank myself together.

I told you all about my hallucinatory funk but I thought I’d fill you in on how you get back from that spot, as well. What’s going on could be stress related but I doubt it’s emotion; it’s probably chemical. Basically, when it was over, which wasn’t until nearly 6pm, I was just very, very tired. I had gone to the gym after work and found, to my immense relief, that having headphones blaring in your ears shuts out the voices. That’s nice! I’d bring my iPod to work if I didn’t have to… you know, work. But it didn’t shut down the light show. I try not to avoid hallucinations when I have them; I think it’s important to look them dead on. So, I can report that by this late in the day it was kind of like a thin film over my eyes (like when you wake up) with localized “distortions”, which is the only way I can think of phrasing “weak hallucinations”. What is that? Cheap special effects. It’s like your brain says, “We can’t afford a full-on visitation from the undead so let’s just give him something in the corner of his eye – really fast.” The trick there is not allowing your natural instinct to compel you to look, just knowing that your brain has its own agenda and going with the flow.

Actually, as I write that I can’t help but realize how very different it must sound to someone who doesn’t hallucinate. So, let’s liken it to someone who gets a lot of backaches… my wife, say. She lives with it; it’s that simple. So, do I.

Today, whatever chemicals were causing my brain to go nuts (so to speak) are not as strong. So, I have a strong sense of someone hovering just out of my vision but I know that nobody’s there. So, I’m trying to ignore it. It is irritating. I want to look over my shoulder and ask, “Don’t you have something better to do?” But, I know that nobody is there. So…

One interesting note is that I’m going in for lab tests tomorrow, requested by my doc for my physical exam. I can’t help think that my mental state is going to affect my physical in some way. She might say, “Your blood pressure is very high.”

But here’s the thing. I went in for a physical for two reasons. 1) To have a mole removed, which should happen when I go for my follow-up visit. 2) To get a referral to a shrink. I figure that, in order to get a good referral, I’ll need to give her some information. So, when she asks about my blood pressure, I’ll probably respond with, “Here’s the thing, doc. I was hallucinating more or less non-stop that week. You know of any shrinks who might be able to help me?”

Getting help is important because, for as wonderfully understanding as Vicky has been, it’s not fair to her to go without help. And I can just imagine what she’s thinking about the child we plan to have together…

Is it any wonder I’m having a problem writing something funny?

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Nation of Six Year Olds...

Have a cookie...

Seriously, though. When does this shit stop?...

The problem with thinking up snappy witticisms every time you sleepwalk is that, if you sleepwalk as often as I do, eventually you run out.

As of this morning, I’ve run out.

At just about one o’clock this morning, I found myself standing beside my bed. My hands were filled with paper and I knew there was more. The rest of my research lay elsewhere. I didn’t know how it had become so scattered. There was some behind the dresser. My hands empty, I knelt down beside the dresser to reach back there and…

I realized something was wrong. Wasn’t it too late to be doing research? Shouldn’t I be in bed?

But my research…

Wasn’t I supposed to be sleeping?

The research…

As my bicameral mind slugged it out, I thought I’d do something else. It looked like I was awake, anyway. Earlier, I’d flossed rather viciously as one of my back teeth and it was bugging me so I rinsed with a little Listerine and…

The research…

I couldn’t shake it. Something was wrong.

Maybe it’s downstairs.

If the thought of someone sleepwalking down a flight of stairs strikes you as scary – well, it does me, too, because last night was the first time I remembered what it was like. Vic, can we pad the stairs? You see, I realize now just how much sleepwalking is like getting two signals on a TV. Eventually, as I wake up, they blend together but it’s really hard to make that happen. And I think this might come close to explaining my hallucinations, too. (What else is sleepwalking if not hallucinating in your sleep?) Going down stairs is like having two, transparent images of stairs, dancing about in front of each other. So, I stepped onto the first step and – thankfully, just about then, I remembered something Vicky had said about a stair railing and grabbed onto ours – there were two sets of stairs, one wavering before another. It was a slow descent.

After a while, I made my way down to the livingroom… then, I realized that I’d been sleepwalking. No research. No papers. Just me in my pajama bottoms.

After an hour or so, a strange realization occurred to me. Whether it be about codes or plans or research, most of my sleepwalking while I’ve been with Vicky has been about searching for knowledge. Obviously, I’m looking for some kind of answer. (Climbing Maya asked “What is success?” Daughter of a One-Armed Man asks “What is love?”) But I don’t know how I’m going to find it in my sleep.

Vicky and I have been talking about getting me help – mental help. The plan is to get a referral from my family doctor, which sucks because I have to go in and say, “Hi. I’m a loony. Can you tell me where to get some help?” Maybe that’s what’s causing the delay? That and I remember my sessions with “Dr. Doom” and how fruitful they were.

But I gotta do something. One reality is hard enough.

Sometimes I feel like the human equivalent of Jenga.

And it doesn’t end there, either. I figure I should write these things down for a time when I do get treatment. Today, as I write this, I’m having my worst day in some time. I’ve already had three people talking to me who weren’t here. (I can’t remember what they said or who they were.) I’m running into a lot of problems with what can only be described as interference. It’s like I’m receiving another signal. Sometimes, it’s verbal and my words are all flummoxed. Other times, it’s worse than that and I can’t even understand words. This changes minute by minute. It’s kind of like a storm, too, in the sense that I’m waiting for it to blow over.

An important distinction to make at this point is that, for the most part, I can tell what is real and what is just in my head. Some small things are slightly confusing but I’m handling it. My point is that I can still function; it’s just difficult.

Anyway, yeah, I need help.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting at work and doing as little as possible… just in case.

Humanism

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Day at Indian Beach, Oregon

My brother, the videographer, is making relaxation videos. See if you can watch this one without falling asleep!

... yes, it IS intentional!

Friday, June 22, 2007

And now, a word about fatness…

I know I regularly give myself 31 flavors of shit over how fat I am. This entry is not about that.

Look, I know I’m overweight. That can’t be denied. I am twenty or so pounds over my “acting weight”. Yes, I need to be more active. I admit that.

But, come on, people! What the fuck is the deal with all you fat motherfuckers out there? Holy shit! I read an article today on teenagers getting gastric bypass surgery. Teenagers! What the fuck ever happened to taking a walk, for fuck’s sake? Haven’t you people ever heard of the starving people in the third world? Ever think of leaving them a cookie?

No shit, man. We are a bunch of fat, lazy fucks who don’t deserve the Twinkie we gorge on if our kids are turning to gastric bypass surgery! Whatever happened to that being a last resort? Now, it’s a fucking fad! The scar is a fucking fashion statement!

Listen to me: “I ate 46 cows” is not a bragging right! Okay? Put down that Moon Pie and cut it the fuck out!

….

(Odds are I’ll be ending up at Tommy’s sometime soon… maybe not tomorrow but soon… so I’ll call “hypocrite” before anyone else can.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I once wrote a book that insisted God is love…

Last night, Vicky and I were sitting out on our patio, talking. (Something we seem to be doing less and less of as we get busier and busier.) We were talking about the new book I’m working on, where I mention the religion is a dangerous distraction, up there with materialism, social order, and pop culture. Now, Vicky was raised in a nice, Lutheran church filled with nice, Lutheran people. She has some difficulty as seeing religion as being anything but a power for good.

But she’s not so na├»ve that she can’t. “I guess I’d be okay with a religion that didn’t teach hatred.”

“Which one’s that?” I asked.

“You know. One that taught love.”

“Which one’s that?” I honestly wanted to know.

(I wouldn’t include Buddhism, because Buddhism isn’t even a religion in the Western sense, with a personal deity to worship.)

Sadly, even her nice Lutheran church filled with nice Lutheran people taught hate. Just look at the Bible. It’s filled with hate. And, as much as you might want to claim that the God of the New Testament is a God of Love (see the Sermon on the Mount for some really good sentiments), you honestly have to admit – at the very least – that the hate taught in the Bible dulls the shine just a bit. As for myself, I wouldn’t want any child of mine being taught that a book of hate should instruct them on how to live.

You can toss out the Old Testament right away. That book is filled with hatred towards non-Jews, women, and nearly everyone else. And believers in an Old Testament god are still out there, which is scary enough. But then, you get to the New Testament – the “feel good” Bible. Almost immediately, however, you have to throw out Revelation, a book based on the Return of the Old Testament God. Revelation, which was never written to be about the end of the world as we know it, says that if you don’t love a loving god, he will FUCK YOU UP! Okay, so that’s gone, then.

Surely, the remaining bits of the Bible must be filled with love?

Matthew has Jesus saying he’ll destroy families (10:34-37), condemns those who don’t care for his preaching (11:20-24), talks in “Bush Speak” (12:30), condemns questioners (12:31-32), and justifies anti-Semitism (27:25). John has Jesus giving some of that old-time religious hatred: if you’re “unclean” you go to hell (3:29), if you don’t kowtow to Christians you get fucked (6:11), and non-believers go straight to hell (16:16). Luke casts God himself as a violent slave-owner (12:46-47), says that only a few people actually get saved (13:23-30), and other viciousness (19:22-27). Finally, John casts people into hell for thought crime (3:18, 36), is anti-Semitic (5:16, 18) (7:1) (7:13) (8:44) (11:8) (19:7, 12, 14-15) (20:19), says that non-believers will go to hell (8:24) (12:48) (14:6) (15:6).

And those are just the Apostles… makes Jesus sound like a hell of a guy, doesn’t it?

Then, we get into the rest… I won't bore you with the details suffice it to say there are more than 80 more bits of anti-Semitic, anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-unbeliever crap.

I, too, would probably have less of a problem with a religion that didn’t teach hate.

But what of those nice Lutherans? What of nice people of faith who are good despite their religion? Well, that’s the answer, isn’t it? They aren’t good because of their religion but, rather, in spite of it. I’m not saying there are no good people out there. I’m saying that good, religious people are overcoming a handicap. For that, I am grateful.

But think how much better we’d all be without our handicaps and without anyone teaching us to hate…

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Three small words…

(I thought I’d grab the lyrics to an old, old song called “Three small words” for this blog… and came up with a bajillion hits for Josie & The Pussycats! NO!)

Every morning, before I leave from work, Vicky and I have our ritual. It may sound familiar to some of you married folk out there.

I leave first so, before I do, I creep up to Vicky’s bedside. I lean over her. I kiss her on the cheek. “I love you, darling,” I tell her. “Have a good day.”

Vicky, her eyes squinched tightly, gives me a kind of grumble and says, “Mmmme Mmmmmu Mmmmmem.”

This means "I Love You, too"... I think...

Rules to live by…

Calling them Commandments just sounds so didactic, so immutable. This is probably why so many Christian fundamentalists want the big 10 posted, well, everywhere. But didn’t Jesus himself say (or get quoted as saying) that his word wiped out everything that came before it? Wouldn’t even a good Christian need to throw away the big 10 in favor of HIS word?

I’ve been reading a lot on alternate commandments recently. (This thanks to Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion, which is recommendably excellent.) Even the Jews have moved past Moses’ tired, old rules, in favor of a more humane way of living. So, here are some alternatives snatched off the web. Not bad ways to live, really. I wouldn’t mind seeing more people living along these lines.


(1) Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.

(2) In all things, strive to cause no harm.

(3) Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.

(4) Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.

(5) Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.

(6) Always seek to be learning something new.

(7) Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.

(8) Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.

(9) Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.

(10) Question everything.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Lift the ban...

Personally, I don't want to see anyone in the armed forces - call me a commie. But when faced with such discrimination, I have to admit I am torn.

Is there a way we can ban both straights and gays?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

You are judged by the company you keep…

What can we say about “Scooter” Libby, we who were not privy to the inner workings of his trial?

Well, we can say – as Vicky often says – that any grown man who calls himself “Scooter” is definitely suspect, if only of severely arrested development.

We can also say, after this past week, that if we are to judge people by the company they keep this man is horribly guilty.

Look at his prime defenders, those who are pushing hardest for a Presidential Pardon: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Delay, Wolfowitz. All known liars. All responsible for leading our nation into bloody and illegal war. All power brokers for the rich and defilers of the rights of the meek.

With a sentence of 30 months of easy time, you’d think this man was going to Guantanamo, or worse. But having constructed a life of lies with friends who are equally and infamously known for lies, it’s important to keep in mind that the company he keeps shows us that worse is exactly what he should have received.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Key-riste!...

So, I've been wondering why Christians get so offended when you insult their religion.

... It's cause he's hanging on a cross, isn't it? Picking on a God that gets himself nailed up onto a cross is kind of like teasing the slow kid.

This probably also explains why Christians are so warlike...

Compensate much?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hate the war, love the warrior…

As part of my job, I’ve been doing some research on Military Spouses… and I’ve been making myself sick.

I just don’t get it. Reading page after page written by military spouses, I get the distinct feeling like they really get absorbed in the drama of having their spouse at risk. It’s like, “Oh, poor me! My husband/wife is risking his/her life and I’ll be all alone!” It’s truly pathetic.

How can I say this? Well, consider the fact that we have an all-volunteer army/navy/marine/etc. These people wanted to be in the service; no one forced them. (You could say that economic conditions forced them, which is entirely true in some cases but a conversation for another time. Right now, let’s assume they could have made the same amount working at Wal-Mart… which, in some cases, they could.) So, their spouses could have told them not to. I mean, seriously, if they loved their spouse, they could have said, “I don’t want you joining up and risking your life.” (Before you say that maybe they didn’t know, I’d add that ignorance is no excuse. What the hell did they expect joining the army to mean, anyway?) They could have also refrained from marrying someone in the service or with the inclination to join the service. There’s also divorce.

So, there are a lot of ways NOT to be a military spouse.

But what offends me most, what really sickens me, isn’t the amount of drama these people bring on themselves. No. What really sickens me is how these people can claim to support their spouse – love their spouse – but have no qualms with the war itself. If anyone should be protesting the war, it should be the friends and families of everyone who is over there! Are they really so blind that they still think we’re clearing out those WMDs (there were none, folks!) or bringing the benefits of Democracy to those people (hello, Vietnam!)?

Imagine how quickly this war would be over if everyone with a loved on in Iraq took to the streets? Hundreds of thousands of people marching would quickly get every person they claim to love out of harm’s way. But they can’t be bothered with that, for the most part. (I applaud anyone who speaks out in protest.)

And don't tell me they are "providing support" because the argument that allowing your loved one to engage in life-threatening and downright stupid behavior is "supportive" just doesn't hold up.

The same goes for any parent who isn’t outraged about global warming. How can you claim to love your children while giving them the gift of a ruined world?

It makes me sick.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

1/10th of 15…

You heard me right… those of you who know what the hell I’m talking about… I’ve reached the 10,000 word mark in my new novel, Daughter of a One-Armed Man. (It’s a working title – what can I say?) You may know that I use 100,000 words as the benchmark for novel length and this puts me 1/10th of the way through.

This is also the time when I usually tell you what the hell this is all about and when I look for readers to see what kind of response the book elicits. My stock of readers is running very weak right about now. I have Jenn proofreading Climbing Maya for me – and, at the rate she keeps conveniently losing her copy, I’m not feeling particularly good about that one. Vicky’s proofreading A Grand Canyon – Part Two. (It’s like an industry, I tell you!) What I need to do is kidnap some literary critic and chain him up in my basement.

… What I need to do is build a basement…

Oh well. I’ve just gotta find someone.

Meanwhile, what the hell is this book all about, anyway?

As with all of my books, I’m trying to do something just a little different. First of all, this is definitely a “Big Message” book. So, to keep people focused, I’ve decided to write without any of the seven or so words people sometimes find offensive. (Though I’m still allowing myself to use words such as “war” and “peace” and “science” and “global warming”.) I don’t want to hear people telling me that the book is no good because the word “shit” appears in it, which is what those who wish to avoid the argument so often tend to do.

So, what’s the argument about?

This book, in its own round-about way, is a book with a question at its core. At the core of Climbing Maya was the question, “What is success?” At the core of Daughter of a One-Armed Man lies the question, “What is love?” (What can I say? I decided to give myself a little break after Climbing Maya.)

What is love? How can anyone who claims to love their child allow them to fight in a war? How can anyone who claims to love someone allow them to be bamboozled by religions that promote intolerance and war? Could I really say I loved Vicky if I was ambivalent to global warming, something that’s going to make her life quite difficult in coming years? How can anyone tolerate capitalist greed and claim to love their children?

Do people believe that oil spills don’t affect the quality of the world in which they live, the quality of the world in which their loved ones live? Wouldn’t the eradication of the bees and the frogs and the polar bears have some affect on the life of your loved one?

How can we be willing to say, “I love you but could care less about the crappy world in which you live?”

It seems to me that our fundamental understanding of the concept of love is faulty, just as our understanding of the concept of success is – as mine was before I wrote Climbing Maya. It needs to be corrected… and I have nothing better to do.

Is this a serious, philosophical novel? Yes… it also includes a cab-driving polar bear in Bermuda shorts named Peanut Butter… and a godlike fisherman who refuses to admit to being god… the daughter of a wood nymph who travels to Los Angeles to find her true love… and the ultimate answer that is bound to have a lot of readers disagreeing. What? Where’s the philosophy, you ask? Well, there are also arguments about overpopulation, plants the bring power and power plants, saying goodbye to the birds and bees and frogs and so much else, the usefulness of hemp, the death of coral reefs, Wal-Mart guilt, cell phone waste, whatever happened to brotherly love, Las Vegas logic, what could be gained by simply not being so goddamed greedy, and so much more…



This book also holds a special place in my heart. In the 15 years I was with Rosa, I wrote seven novels. By writing this book, I’ll have completed eight in the three years I’ve been with Vicky. (Which is to say that maybe, then, I’ll take a little break…)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And what of the fine people on Coffee Cake Island?...

So, if you’re Danish you come from Denmark.

But what if you’re blueberry muffin?

Planned obsolescence… or something…

I got an email today, asking me if that’s the entire A Grand Canyon (the book, not the canyon) posted on The Digital Word or just part one. It’s just part one… so far. They’ve just forgotten (so far) to mention that.

That should be resolved soon, though… making this entry pathetically short and quickly irrelevant.

Or so you’d think!

This also gives me an opportunity to talk about this whole “multi-part” thing. Why did I do it? How did it happen? Where are my keys?

As some of you may know, I began writing A Grand Canyon a few years ago, shortly before Vicky and I were married. The whole idea was to get all those old feelings out of my system and delete the backlog of emails I’d saved over the span of five or so years. Did it work? Of course, not! (I still need to delete those pesky emails!) But it showed me, and I think the book displays this, just how hard it is for anyone to get through a severe case of depression. It helped open me up to other people’s feelings and needs, knowing how my own were so miscommunicated and how terrified I was of them.

When I completed the book, I put it away. I thought I’d never look at it again.

Dig – this book was not written for publication because I assumed no publisher would touch it. After all, I’m nobody important. I’m just a guy.

And then, Blanche read it. And I was amazed at what she saw. Without realizing it, I’d written some kind of testament for the severely depressed, some kind of (dare I say) self-help book! Only, it didn’t give advice; it gave examples. I could easily have called it “Don’t Do This”.

Which is why I dedicated it to the other broken people out there. I’m one of you, putting myself back together a day at a time.

And then, The Digital Word came along. Listen, I have plenty of novels I’m still trying to get published – plenty I’m not as well, thanks to hundreds of rejection letters. I still think these novels are good; I just get tired of beating my head against a wall. So, although I didn’t anticipate publication, I felt A Grand Canyon made a perfect fit – a good book that traditional publishers would probably not get rich off of.

Most of the ebooks on TDW (pardon my abbreviation) are shorter by comparison, so I decided to create something different. I serialized A Grand Canyon into two parts, each of them costing less than a regular book (the combined price being comparable). Not only are you getting more but you’re getting a chance to try it out before you pay for it all.

So, there you go.

Now, buy it! (maybe?)

I don't give a fuck about Shrub's watch!...

Hello! People! I know you're easily distracted but come the fuck on! Global warming? Remember that? The illegal war? Ring a bell?

Yeah, I've had a team working on this over the past few weeks, and what we've come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts. One: People aren't wearing enough hats. Two: Matter is energy. In the universe there are many energy fields which we cannot normally perceive. Some energies have a spiritual source which act upon a person's soul. However, this "soul" does not exist ab initio as orthodox Christianity teaches; it has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved owing to man's unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

That link to the right means there’s books a’sellin…


Can I admit something to you?

I’m getting tired of saying this.

This is just the third time I’m mentioning it and I’m getting pretty damned tired of it. (I just sent out two mass emails.)

So, let’s get through this as quickly as we can, yes?

My 9th book, A Grand Canyon, is now on sale at The Digital Word. You can follow the link to the right – or this motherfucking one – and snap that puppy up for some cheap change!

Part One is now on sale, with Part Two sure to follow.

With an luck, an audiobook (for people just dying to hear my voice) (anyone? anyone?) will follow.


Shalome!

Vicky boozes up the Wii…

We’ve owned it… what? Two days now?

Oh sure. It was bound to happen. Vicky and I make a family of klutzes. We’re going to have to pad the walls when we have a child because, odds are, she will be colliding with everything.

Don’t believe me?

Whenever you load a game in the Wii, it displays a screen cautioning you to basically CLEAR THE AREA. There’s a whole lot of swinging and flailing going on; you have to be careful.

And we were… for the first day.

Last night, Vicky had made herself a Bahama Mama (of sorts). She was introduced to Bahama Mamas while we were in the Bahamas and now makes Bahama Mamas (of sorts) at home whenever she… is home…Well, she likes them when it’s hot and it’s summer and – oh fuck it.

Anyway, she made herself a Bahama Mama (of sorts) last night and put it on the table just as she took the Wii controller.

Yes, I should have warned her – but this is Vicky we’re talking about here. VICKY!

She was playing tennis… and she swung. And swung.

And swung.

And swung.

And swung.

And swung her hand right into the glass, spilling Bahama Mama (of sorts) and ice all over the damned place!

For just a split second, I could see that look on her face: My drink! My beautiful drink!

Yes, her Bahama Mama (of sorts) was history and I was running for the paper towels. But I couldn’t stop laughing because, torn between her booze and her tennis game, she failed utterly at both.

But she held back her tears.

Held them back.

Held them – for just a minute… and made herself another Bahama Mama (of sorts).

(Then, she kicked my ass at golf.)

The hook that sinks into you…

If there’s one “normal” thing about my mind, it’s that I cannot predict what it’s going to do next – and that unpredictability is constant… so I know to expect it…

Case in point: hallucinations. I have two kinds, generally. Type A are those full-blown, never existed, never will, aren’t real, and you’re fucking imagining it kinds. Thankfully, I’m not writing about one of those today. Type 2 are the kinds that did exist, did happen, were real… and you’re also imagining them. They are moments when my brain skips and lands in sometime other than the present, so I’m not experiencing the sensory input of today, but rather of another time.

This happens especially when I’m in some place with lots of memories. Going to my mom’s house is like a trip and fall and broken hip down memory lane for me and I have to shut out the things I think I see that aren’t really there. Oh, there are worse too… but I won’t get into those.

Today’s happened as I stood outside of work. I don’t have a key to the building so, when I show up too early, there’s some waiting involved.

You see, many years ago, when I worked for Best Life in Irvine, I would often stay late while Rosa was in school and, with us only owning one car, I would wait for her to come and pick me up once she got out. Sometimes, it got rather late. Occasionally, when it grew especially late, I would sit out in the front lobby and read, because I could see the headlights pull up from there. So, there I’d be, sitting in the lobby… and when it grew dark, sometimes I’d just sit in the dark.

And I’d see the headlights pull up. And I’d leave the building and see Rosa smiling at me from inside the car.

I don’t talk about this much. It’s kind of the daily workings of any relationship. (Ok, any relationship with one car.)

But then, this morning, my brain skipped – and I was standing outside of Best Life on a winter’s evening with Rosa waving and smiling at me from inside a Nissan Sentra. And I had to close my eyes and quietly tell myself (it takes practice) that what I was experiencing was not real. Your heart tends to race at a time like that and you just have to breathe deeply and tell yourself that it’s okay – just accept it.

I didn’t open my eyes for a while. I’m never sure what I’ll see. Times like that remind me that I need to seek treatment of some kind because I’m not as well as I claim to be.

I opened my eyes. Once again, I stood outside of my building – real time.

I’ve said it before. Why can’t I hallucinate winning lotto numbers?

(I later had a dream involving a topless Vicky so, you know, it goes where it will.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

I can’t wash dishes to save my life…

This is the world as Vicky sees it…

One-eyed, violent, middle-eastern terrorist: Ju call that dished washed gringo? (Turns out he speaks Spanish or something. Who knew?) I will put a bullet through your head if you don’t wash it right.

Me: (Setting the dish down and putting my head up against the barrel of the gun.) Go ahead.

Vicky hates the way I do dishes.

To be honest… in competition, I probably wouldn’t place.

My Vicky…

Sometimes, I get the feeling that there are two Vickys in there. There’s the one she wants everyone to see, and that’s the controlling, controlled, practical, and practiced Vicky. This Vicky serves her well and has helped her through the years. Then, there’s the other Vicky. I don’t get to see it very often because, I think, she probably feels it best to keep it hidden away for protection.

But I think that Vicky will come out a lot more once we have a baby. This is a gut feeling but I believe she won’t need to protect that second Vicky from a baby and will show it more. Who is this second Vicky? I got to see it for a few moments this weekend.

Saturday morning, Vicky and I went down to Seal Beach for a bit of breakfast. Okay, honestly, we probably could have picked a better place to eat. The spot we chose wasn’t the worst in the world but it wasn’t the best, either. Anyway, we had made our choice and we stuck to it – all in all, it was a 6. But that’s okay, because it was what we had planned for after that I was looking forward to. Together, we walked down to the beach, crossed the sand, and walked on the solid part of the shore where the tide leaves the ground firm and wet.

We were on the beach at low tide, and it was pretty low. I got to see Vicky’s eyes light up at the wonder of something we didn’t often experience, and at the children playing, and at all the birds. We held hands as we walked and talked about a lot of nothing. (The “nothing” for this weekend was getting A Grand Canyon ready for purchase.)

Suddenly, Vicky saw a starfish wash ashore. She picked it up and looked at it and, discerning that it was still alive, flung it back into the water. You gotta love someone who cares about starfish.

Then, we started watching the fish out in the water. This was a first for my adult life. We actually saw fish jumping up out of the water – at Seal Beach! It was amazing! (Who would have thought anything could live in that water?) We watched as dozens of fish leapt and cavorted… and then we watched the pelicans making dives at them. So, a little nature still exists out there… surprisingly!

For all of our busy, day to day, structure and goal-driven craziness, my favorite times with Vicky are these, when I can hold hands and walk together and I can see that smiling (dare I say “innocent”?) look in her eyes when she knows she is loved and can let down her guard for just a second.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wii… are pooped…

(I honestly didn't mean for this to sound like a Nintendo ad... but I can't help it! It kicks ass!)

Vicky and I just got done bowling a couple games and playing more than ten matches in tennis… and it was all imaginary… Sure. Tell our bodies that!

Yes, we broke down and bought a Wii. Funnest damn thing we’ve seen in a while!

We had been holding back from buying a new console. After all, we really didn’t NEED one. But I wanted it because I heard it got you off your ass and that’s something the two of us sorely need.

Setting it up wasn’t too hard – five or ten minutes later, we were moving.

The free game pack, Wii Sports, will never win awards for graphics. But it’s a TON of fun! We were swinging tennis rackets and bowling and – I kid you not, we are both sweating!

(Of course, it’s also very hot today, so…)

This was mostly Vicky’s idea – though I did quite a bit of prodding – and I’m glad she decided to go for it. It’s a lot of fun. How I’m ever going to fit in WoW time, I’ll never know – it’s just a good thing we don’t watch a lot of TV because we’ll be playing it from now on.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Polls don't mean dick...

I’m getting really tired of listening critics of Shrub gloat over his low approval ratings.

He’s waged illegal war, stripped us of our most inalienable rights, surrendered the surplus to the mega-rich. His cronies have subverted the Justice system, destroyed entire government structures meant to protect us, tapped our phones illegally – and we don’t know what the fuck else because they won’t tell us what they do!

Stop telling me how low his approval ratings are. That doesn’t count for shit! Get the motherfucker out of office!

It’s called impeachment and he’s already broken enough laws to warrant it. So get your warrants into gear!

What’s the word, anyway?…

It’s called The Digital Word.

It’s a website, going live next week, that was created by a few friends of mine. Well, they wanted one of my books. And I gave them one.

How’s that for simple?

… What? You want more?

The first thing I had to decide was which of my 14 books was the hardest to get published that I felt might click in this venue. What’s this venue? Let’s call it guerilla publishing. Ebooks, Audio books – basically chucking it up against a wall and seeing if it sticks.

For those of you unfamiliar with my book, A Grand Canyon, it goes something like this… a one, two, three, four – Several years ago, before Vicky and I got married, I wanted to dump all the old cargo from the previous thirty-something years, all the bitterness and hurt and hate and sadness. I also wanted to answer the question my child might one day ask, “Daddy, how did you and mommy meet?”

So, I went a little overboard!

It’s a book about how I lost my way and lost my wife. It’s a book about my divorce and the results of my divorce. It’s a book about losing myself, finding myself, and finding happiness as well.

Oh, and Vicky’s in it, too.

You might notice a new link to the right. Well, once the site goes live, I’ll be sure to update it for you and keep you posted as to what’s going on there.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing.

SiCKO Trailer...

A little knowledge could make anyone sick.

Restoring Habeas Corpus...

Remember when they took it away?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Middle-Aged lazies…

When people ask me, “So, Ken, how fat are you?”, which they do with startling regularity, I often reply to the stranger at the ice cream section at the grocery store of the employees at Del Taco who are still unknown by name though I see them several times each day, “Shut up or I’ll roll on top of you.”

… Middle age is not being very good to me.

Yesterday, we went to see Stephanie in her latest show at the Long Beach Playhouse. Now, it’s too late for a review but Vic and I both thought it was very good. Steph is a very talented, and funny, actress who is always fun to watch. (You know, until they put up those darker curtains…) The worst part of the whole thing, of course, was just sitting in a theater. Vicky has no problem with it; she enjoys it. I feel like the horse being led off to the mucilage factory, while all my friends are running the Kentucky Derby. I physically itch to get back on stage; it’s awful. Of course, in two months I’ll be back in school, so… oh well.

And then, there’s my supreme fatness… which would make for a good title… “Introducing, His Supreme Fatness!”

… I’m just saying.

I am totally willing to own up to my rotundity. After we left the theater, Vicky and I had to run an errand at the mall. We needed a new filter for our fridge. (One Path – All the excitement of a list of errands…) While we were at the mall, I thought we’d look for some new jeans. My old ones had gotten… well, old. Ratty. Worn and torn. I was in need. The thing is, though, that I’ve gotten so incredibly fat that I only know of one brand of jeans that – what’s that word? – oh yes, FITS MY FAT ASS.

It’s sad.

But you gotta love Vicky for going out of her way to appeal to my vanity. Rather than saying, “Just wear a thirty-eight waist you supremely arrogant, fat, tubby piece of shit,” she took me to a place that sold 36’s that fit.

And I can still cling to my illusion of… well… who am I kidding?

Then, it was home to do chores.

Fun, huh?

I’m sure you want to hear all about it but I’ll spare you… THIS TIME!

When I awoke this morning, I was about to explain why I couldn’t run for office as a Democrat, because I’m no longer a Democrat, when the alarm went off. “Just a moment,” I said, and rolled over to hit the alarm. Then, I realized, I was awake. See, here’s the thing: Vicky had run for Congress. She had joined the race as the only Democrat and, when the Republican nominee had dropped out in disgrace, Vicky was unopposed.

And she won! President Obama was there with his wife… which must mean that Vicky’s “Obama Fever” is catching in my subconscious. I’m not ready to give my support this early but my dreaming mind must have other ideas… anyway, they were at the victory party. Barack and I were talking about the future of the Democratic Party – which, as “awake Ken”, can I just say is not a happy thought – and then Vicky was announced the winner. People flooded around her and I was standing off on the side. The first lady said, “Don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of time to congratulate her later.” But I looked at her and said, “I don’t think I’m going to wait.” And I headed into the crowd.

Suddenly, Oliver Platt (yes, the actor) takes me to one side and suggests that I should run. I told him that wouldn’t be a good idea, but he insisted – and Oliver Platt’s a big guy, hard to refuse. So, I said, “Let’s go outside,” and we did. And we were outside of a small business park, which was a strange transition but I ignored it. “I can't run for office as a Democrat because I stopped being a Democrat a long time ago, and I’ll tell you why.” Then, the alarm went off. I said to him, “Just a moment,” but never completed that sentence.

And I never congratulated Vicky. So, I rolled over, kissed Vicky’s bare back and said, “Congratulation.”

I guess I woke her because she turned and asked, “What?”

“Congratulations,” I repeated.

She said something like, “What the hell are you talking about?”

So, I put one arm around her and kissed her again and told her about her victory. Then, I told her about the dream before that. Vicky and I had been at home when Tim Clostio called. He said that he had decided that I was incapable of forgiveness and that I was too judgmental and so he would never speak to me again. I don’t know why I didn’t pick up the phone.

Vicky said, “I was dreaming that I was dreaming that we were having sex and then I woke up and we were having sex and then you woke me up.”

“We could have sex,” I suggested.

I thought it was a pretty good idea – so did Vicky – but then, I saw the time and my list of morning chores started ticking off in my head: iron, get ready for work, have breakfast, make lunch… I miss those days when you could just blow things off. When you could call in sick and spend the whole day in bed. Thankfully, I’m still at an age where I don’t need any pills of any kind. But… well, I awoke with a little bit of a head cold and Vicky had a headache and I had to start getting ready or I’d be late. We’re both still too new at our jobs to just call in, willy nilly, for a day of sex.

So, I backpedaled and went into the other room and started to iron a shirt.

Middle age sucks. Spontaneity doesn’t fade because we can’t do it; it fades because we don’t have time to do it. It becomes harder to throw off all of our plans because there are just so damned many of them. I want to act but I have one book I’m beginning to write, another book I’m getting ready for distribution, and school starts soon. I want to stay home and have sex (with Vicky, of course) but I don’t want to screw up this job even if it is for another brand of screwing. I think that Vicky must get awfully bored with that. I hope not. Hopefully, there’s still enough of the impetuous, exciting, young me somewhere amongst my tonnage to offset the tedious, boring, older me.

… I’m just grateful I don’t need any pills…

Curses am us…

I’ve been saying a new curse word lately… actually, it’s more of a phrase than a word.

I said it just today.

“Holy Crap in a Hat!”

I couldn’t help wonder what that might be. It’s a nice phrase, I think, pulls that old swear word “Crap”, which isn’t even thought of as a swear word any more, out of retirement and gives it good company. But what could it mean?

A shit in someone’s fedora that has been sanctioned by God?

… sure. Why not?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Rosa by any other name…

I keep trying to deny it… but I guess it really is happening.

Vicky is proofreading A Grand Canyon for me, a memoir I wrote a couple years ago for the express purpose of just generally getting it out of my head. The book covers the years between 2000 and 2005… and more…

Vicky’s proofing it for me because, as strange as this is going to sound, it’s going to be published.

Now, hold on, buckaroos! It’s just being published as an E-Book. That’s all. It’s no big deal.

The interesting thing is that I have to change all the names to protect the guilty.

So, that’s Tim Clostio.

Tim Murphy.

Sean Deyo.

Chris Anzalone.

Stephen Gomer.

Sherryl.

Deanna.

Teresa.

And, yes, Rosa Piedra. Everybody gets a new name. (It’s kind of like heaven in that way…) I figure I’ll change her last name from Piedra (which means “stone”) to something similar, like Arido (which means “barren”… cause I’m evil that way).

What I don’t have is a good first name for her. So, I figured I’d open that up to you, the readers. Any ideas for a new name for Rosa?… you know, one I can’t get sued with…

(And, in case you’re wondering, Vicky’s name stays the same. She can sue me later.)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Always just one step behind… or two…

Or three… or, in this case, maybe a couple of decades.

Anyway, Vicky and I finally settled down to watch the season finale of Jericho last night. Did I say “season finale”? What the producers didn’t know was that it was the SERIES finale, so they left us with this great cliffhanger, hanging right off the edge of mediocrity! Jericho was a good idea for a show whose writers couldn’t quite get their shit together. It looked like they were about to get a story together, rather than making us wait even longer for one to start, and the truck was pulling up with the script when –

It ended.

One of the funniest cliffhangers I’ve ever seen, because they’ll be left there in perpetuity (unless certain squirrels get their way).

One storyline I wasn’t too fond of had to do with one of the girls from Jericho finding her way into an army camp. “Who do you represent?” she asked.

“The United States,” a colonel tells her.

It isn’t until the closing moments that we see the American flag flying overhead… or is it? It’s a twisted reminder of the flag – something only Hollywood could come up with. Somehow, in the months after the series began, everyone (except the people of good old Jericho, of course) has forgotten exactly what the flag looked like… sure… I believe that…

It reminded me – far too heavy-handedly – of a 1987 miniseries with Kris (Kross) Kristopherson, called Amerika. It was a miniseries about people in the US being stripped of their liberties, forgetting what freedom was, and… wait a minute! They’re the same show! Okay, maybe not. In Amerika, the US was taken over by Soviets. In Jericho, the US is taken over by bad writers. Basically, though, the same thing.

Both of these shows preach the same gospel: Don’t take your liberties for granted. The hilarity of this concept, TV telling us to be mindful, is only eclipsed by the fact that Jericho was cancelled after subterranean ratings. Not only was TV the worst media through which to teach that lesson, no one wanted to hear it.

And so, we bid farewell to Jericho and hope some of the actors, who weren’t that bad, find work somewhere in a better show… just be wary of anything by Sorkin. The man kicks motherfucking writing ASS… but people would rather watch crap.