Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Let them eat quiche…

Several years ago, I was given a quiche pan. (You can read all about that over on My Side.) Though I held onto the thing, I never made a quiche. It wasn’t that I didn’t like quiche – which surely makes me something less than a “real man” – but while I could eat it, making it was a different matter.

After a while, Vicky told me I either needed to use it or get rid of it. (And, honestly, the thought of “regifting” it was a tempting one.) Well, recently I broke down and did it. I made a quiche.

And holy crap! It was really good! And relatively easy! And… good!

So, here you go. A little quiche recipe from me to you. A quiche is basically a baked omelet so I’ll divide the recipe into egg parts (or base) and everything else.

In a blender or food processor (or a big bowl if you don’t mind a lot of stirring) combine and mix thoroughly:

• 6 large eggs, beaten
• 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
• Salt and pepper

That's your Base. Seriously, that’s it. Mix them well. I haven’t tried substituting half-and-half for cream because it tastes so damn good with cream. (And, in case you’re wondering, I bastardized this from a Paula Deen recipe.) Salt and pepper amounts are up to what you like. I like to throw in a heavy pinch of essence as well. Later, I plan to experiment with other herbs but I think you’ll want to go light no matter what you use.

Now, at the bottom of your quiche pan or pie crust, you’ll want to layer your additions. These can be anything you like in eggs. For my first quiche, I used:

• 1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach, packed
• 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
• 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

Since then, I’ve also used tomatoes and cheddar. (The swiss adds more of a tang.) I’m planning on using mushrooms, broccoli, and green peppers – though not all at once. Vicky really wants me to try goat cheese.

You put this into an oven preheated at 375 degrees (F) and bake for about 45 minutes or until your knife comes out clean. Then, take it out and let it set for about 5 minutes. You’ll notice it puff up a great deal in cooking and “deflate” at it sets.

Now just sit back and enjoy the goodness.

Honestly, the eggs and cream are all you really need. The rest can be done with leftovers much of the time. I have the feeling I’ll be making a lot more of these in the future.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

… and the day we all dropped dead…

Life is circuitous.

I say this not just because it happens to be true but also because I like the sound of the word circuitous.

Here’s an example…

A few months ago, I decided to start doing research on a new philosophy book. It was going to be a book about ethics, contributing to ethical theory. It was going to be called Dynamic Pluralism: Ethics for a 21st Century World. I completed quite a bit of research, enough to know that I had something substantive to add. And then, I stopped.

I wrote another play.

Then, I got this staged reading I’m working on.

But I’ve been dying to write and, all along, I’ve been telling myself, “You really should start writing that books on ethics, you know?”

I knew. But something was stopping me. When I realized what it was it made a sad, regretful kind of sense. Plainly, I knew that it didn’t matter what I had to add. Any book I wrote on ethics would be just as ignored as if a 12 year old wrote it. Those who publish books on philosophy – those very few left in the world – are only looking for writers who are already famous for writing books on philosophy. I learned that all too well with Climbing Maya. It was a two-edged slit to the throat: nobody wants to publish philosophy unless you’re famous for writing philosophy. How many famous living philosophers can you name?

I carried this knowledge around with me for a few weeks, with no idea what to do. Then, a few days ago, an alternative began pushing its way through my thick skull. It began with a phrase: The Death of Ethics. That phrase came to me and I thought, “Indeed. Philosophy itself is dead so long as people think it doesn’t relate to them.” And, of course, they don’t. They don’t see the world around them being in a philosophical quandary; nobody looks that far.

Then, it occurred to me that any death of ethics would equally spell demise for morality, as they are roommates on the same coin. But I thought it was something rueful coming out, something morose… far from it.

After about a day of these things spinning through my head, I wrote: The Death of Ethics, The Demise of Morality, and the day we all dropped dead… And when I smiled at the thought, I realized what was happening. Just because I couldn’t write a book on ethics didn’t mean I couldn’t use all these ideas I have. I just had to put them into something I can do.

That’s when I realized my next play would be set in the near future, just as mankind has used up everything on earth. No oil, no animals, no fish, no clean water, no clean air, no plants – the earth is all used up. Typically, people are ignoring that. They’re throwing a wedding. And someone asks, “How the hell did we get here? Who is to blame?” Of course, it all goes back to ethics. So, the play will be called The Death of Ethics, The Demise of Morality, and the day we all dropped dead…

The whole thing seems so funny to me – darkly, sickly funny – that I’ve even written a song. Based on the diseased consumerism we’ve all been addicted to for the past 50 years or so, the song is called “We ate them all!” and it’s a list of all the things that are long, long gone because we ate it all up.

Of course, the play ends with everyone dead, poisoned from feasting on shit. A fitting end if ever there was one.

I don’t know if I’ll really be able to write this but if I do it’ll be far and away a new level for me, beyond the rom-coms I’ve been writing. It’ll be almost as worthwhile as a book on ethics…

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The play’s the thing… that is driving me crazy…

I always go into these things thinking they’ll be easy. They’re easy to write, after all. How difficult could it be to get some friends together and put on a show?

Answer: it is murder.

With my staged reading approaching, I decided that since I don’t know any directors, don’t have access to any directors, and don’t have any Instant Director (just add water), that I’d direct. After all, I directed the last staged reading and that was… well, not a complete disaster… With that decided, I knew who my dream cast would be. I asked and they agreed.

And there we were. I wrote it. I was going to direct it. And I had my dream cast together who…

And then, one of them dropped out. The male lead. Great. But that was okay. It was a fun part that I would love to play so I decided I’d act also. Vicky had to remind me that my roundness wasn’t exactly actor-caliber… so it was crash (and burn) diet time. Time to get out there and jog jog jog (stupid blister)! But then, one of my actresses (to be totally non-PC) recommended someone who could do the role and, after seeing a video, I agree. It was torture, complete hell, but we got him on-board to play the role. Yea!

I went out for ice cream to celebrate.

Then, the guy didn’t call… or return my calls… in fact, he still hasn’t!! And my other actress is worried about the long commute – she’s down in San Diego and out of work and can afford the gas and… With only four parts, somehow I find myself losing 50% of my actors!!!

I mention all of that to tell you this: As I went to bed last night, Vicky asked, “Were you this bad in your other shows?”

“This bad?” I asked.

“You know, this crazy, this stressed, this neurotic.”

And I thought I was handling it all rather well!

So, I told her about my first play, Everything Changes. As we got that one ready, I was going through a nervous breakdown, one that would last the better part of half a year. Was I this bad? Oh, I was far, far worse! But, of course, Vicky came along far too late for that fun. Any stress I’m going through this time doesn’t need to come from my own insecurities or neurosis. I have others helping me along.

And we haven’t had our first rehearsal yet… not even our first!

This should be fun.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Adventures of Blisterboy…

I’m not normally one to get blisters. I suppose this explains how when I got one I ignored it until it was far too late.

Last Wednesday, I was out jogging and felt a terrible pain in my left foot. Must be a rock in my shoe, I thought. I figured it would go away…

Last Thursday, I jogged six miles. Heading back after three, I realized there was a rock in my shoe, which was moving around on the left side of my left foot. On the right side of my left foot, there was that terrible pain again… and I still had a couple of miles to go…

By this time, I figured it had to be a blister. When I took off my socks and shoes, I looked at my foot. I couldn’t find the blister and realized, after a bit, that was because the blister took up much of one side of my foot! I stayed off my foot for the rest of the day and Vicky was kind enough to buy some blister bandages, with medicine that’s supposed to help them go away.

Friday. Dizzyland. I had the bandage and comfy shoes but I was still limping quite a bit. But that was okay. Then, we went on Splash Mountain. In the first two seats, we wanted to get wet because it was so hot out. We got drenched. Saturated. We were so wet no amount of standing out in the sun was going to help. So, we hit the Haunted Mansion and took off for home and a change of clothes. That’s when I saw my blister bandage torn off… along with part of the blister… ouch…

Another bandage later – make that two – and we were off again. Saturday. Vicky had bought us tickets to see The Firesign Theatre up in Hollywood. (I can just hear “Jane” getting worked into a lather. Well, for you Jane-itics out there, Dizzy was free and Firesign was half off and her idea!) (Twits.) We parked at the bottom of a large hill, which is where the only parking in Hollywood seems to be, and commenced hiking. The Firesign Theatre wasn’t just funnier than I’d ever heard them being, this being my first time seeing them live; they were funny than I had imagined they could be. Even Vicky, she of the Vow of Never Laughing, was busting a gut next to me. We returned home to find the bandages pulled from my foot and I gave up…

So, no jogging for me for a while. I rested Sunday and cycled yesterday. Today, it’s back out on the trail for me and my tootsies. Wish me luck. I think, this time, I’ll pay more attention… maybe…

Friday, October 16, 2009

Eleven years at a time…

Wow. Forty-four. Really?

Even as I write this, forty-four years ago I was coming out “the shute”… As I look back, the one thing that strikes me is how unlikely it all is and how I should never presume to know how it’ll turn out.

When I was just a quarter as old as I am now, I had no inkling I’d live this long. When I was eleven, I didn’t know I’d end up a writer or an actor. I had dreams. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” but I had no idea what it meant to write or act… just as I had no idea what it meant to grieve or to love…

At half my age, I had very clear ideas. At 22, I knew what I’d be, how I’d do it, where I’d end up… the lot. And I was wrong about nearly all of it. I was sure I’d never act again, that my first novel would sell, that my first wife and I would be together forever, and so on. If you counted up the misconceptions of my life, I’m sure they’d add up to at least 22 but the biggest one would be that I knew anything about my life.

Just one quarter of a lifetime ago, at 33, things were quite the opposite. Nothing was sure. Things were falling apart in my marriage, I’d become so discouraged in my writing that I was hardly moving forward, and though I had a house and a new car I never really felt sure.

At 44, so much is the same even as so much is different. I can sympathize with my 33 year old self because things still don’t feel very sure, an unfortunate side-effect of my divorce. It’s taken half my life to learn that when you think you know everything, that’s when you don’t. I’ll make no wagers as to where my life will be at 88, should I live that long, because I know things could change as much between then and now as they have in the first half (or more) of my life. Fortunately, I’m blessed with still retaining that eleven year old’s dreams of “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”

There are some real surprises for me this morning. At 44, I’m in better shape than I’ve been in years. I am more the person I had hoped to be at eleven than the person I was sure I’d end up as at 33. Somewhere, hope returned. And the comedy in my saying that may not be obvious to you, the reader. What you don’t know if that I had an absolutely awful interview yesterday. One of the highlights of the meeting with four execs, interviewing for a job planning strategies for e-commerce, was the one guy who saw on my resume that I’d done some technical writing and decided not to read any further than that one line. “You’re just a technical writer. You don’t know anything about any of this,” he told me, repeatedly, refusing to listen when I explained the rest of my resume to him. Things look pretty grim right now but that’s just right now. They’ve been better and they’ll be better still… at least, I hope so.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Too busy to do nothing…

As usual, or at least as recently, the title is a dig against myself. I have a lot I want to do but I also have a lot I have to do while simultaneously having nothing to do.

Wait. Let me try that again.

I’ve got a big interview tomorrow for an e-commerce job, developing strategies for e-commerce sales, etc. etc. I felt pretty prepared. I had a great Powerpoint presentation ready to go that showed how the company could effectively innovate their e-marketing with little outlay… and then I received an email, which said in effect, “We want you to change everything but please don’t change anything. We like things just as they are.” So, I’m supposed to impress them by being unimpressive. No matter, it just means I’ll have to tap dance better than I thought.

Things for the reading are coming together as they fall apart. I lost one actor. His father is sick and, after losing my own dad, I know how much it means to spend what time you can with an ailing parent. Now, the call is out to an LA comedian that might just fit the bill. He’s tied up to two other shows in addition to his own so I’m not entirely sure he’ll be up to it. If he’s not, I figure I’m going to step in and fill the part. I’ve done it before – the writer/director/actor thing – so it wouldn’t be the first time. Meanwhile, it turns out one of my actors just happens to have they keys to a local theater where he’s allowed quite a few liberties – so we may just have an unexpected source of rehearsal space. This is good because as helpful as Sean is being I hate to impose impose impose. (I prefer to keep it to twice.)

So, I’m getting things ready for this interview and assembling blocking notes for the reading… all the while wanting very much to start writing something new. I just finished a long string of comedies: Sometimes We Find Our Way, Murder Zombies The Devil and Stuff, Diamonds To Go… I don’t have a joke left, couldn’t be funny if you paid me. (Okay, maybe if you paid me.) Right now, my thoughts are turned to writing something angry and emotionally messy. Once I get some time, I’m sure I’ll do just that – the dig in the title is a reflection on how much success I’ve met with my plays. But I keep writing them.

And that brings up a point I’ve been considering all day. Anyone out there with artistic inclinations of any kind may relate to this. After all the books I’ve written and plays I’ve written, somehow from somewhere deep inside me they keep coming. I’ve known writers who gave up in their teens. I’ve know other writers who still write but it’s the same story they’ve been writing for twenty years. They never grow. So, I’ve got to wonder when my turn is coming and if it will come before I find any success off the crap. After all, I’m not getting any younger. In fact, I’m pretty damn old. Every new book or play could be the last one I write and I’m very aware of this, so I consciously set out to make sure I’m getting the most bang for my creative buck. They day will come when I won’t be able to produce anymore. I want it to be worth it.

I actually have two readings in November, which caused some confusion with one of my actors. I could think of far worse fates than that, believe me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A fine mess…

Updates. Downdates. Sidedates.

Theatre of the Mind

Vicky gave me a birthday surprise last night, this after I repeatedly told her we were broke and I’d rather just stay home and eat Chinese food. (Granted, for me that’s every day.) In addition to hitting Dizzyland on my birthday, we’ll be going to see The Firesign Theatre live in Hollywood!! Wow!

Talk about “Forward into the Past”!

The idea has struck me as the best way to make me feel old – you know, to go see a group of elderly comics – but what a better way to celebrate the last 44 years? After all, I can think of no single greater influence on my comedy writing because these aren’t guys from another country (like Monty Python) or another time (like the Marx Brothers). These were four or five guys from southern California who got together and recorded absurd sketches and theater of the mind. They didn’t need a film crew; it was something me and my friends could do… if we were funny enough…

Theatre of the Soul

And speaking of funny enough, I’m happy to announce that one of my plays will be having a staged reading in just a few weeks down here in Southern California! I’ve put together my dream cast, some of whom I’ve worked with before and others I haven’t yet worked with, and I’m directing. It’s a very exciting, if stressful, time.

The worst part, though, is that I can’t really tell you when or where or what… I can’t tell you much at all, really.

You see, this blog attracts so much inexplicable hatred from people that I’m afraid of what might happen should one of my least friendly followers decide to go. I’ve had threats on my other blog because I had the audacity to suggest that torture might not be Christian and this has just moved over to this blog as well. Even when I took my more political writing over to the other blog, it seems that people are going to hate me no matter what. Just a couple of weeks ago, when I suggested that my wife and I could not afford a new TV, some anonymous crackpot decided to call me a hypocrite. I couldn’t begin to tell you why.

But those of you who are my friends are more than welcome to come to the show. I extend a laurel and hardy invitation. Just shoot me an email and I’ll give you the details. It is my hope that those who find it so important to spew their hatred at me will eventually grow tired of it and move over to read Glenn Beck’s tirades, where I’m sure they’ll be far more comfortable.

Theatre of the Body

So, I rode my second metric (100 kilometers) of the year this past weekend. I was very pleased because not only was that twice as many metrics as last year but I’m also getting more accustomed to it.

I left here around 8:30am, setting out down the Santa Ana River Trail. I knew it would be cold at the beach but – YIKES – it was freezing! But I kept going up the coast to Long Beach, where I turned around and headed back. It was a beautiful day for all the cold and, though I hurt when I returned, I never once wished I was dead… and that’s new for me!

Cycling season is pretty much wrapped up for me. The weather had taken on an autumnal feel and mornings are just too cold. (I’m a wuss, of course.) So, I’m packing up the bike and putting it in the garage for a few months. The upside to this is that now that I’m jogging, I’ll remain active anyway. I went out for a five mile jog today, bundled up in sweats, and it felt good to be out running again. My body still hates me occasionally but it’s getting better.

I surely prefer this to smoking!

Theatre of the Paycheck

I didn’t know how else to put this but it applies… I guess…

I had a pretty good interview a couple of weeks back and this week will be round two. Round two consists of… well.. how to put this? You see, I went in for a Marketing Communications Writer position – you know, typical Ken-job kinda stuff. Then, they saw my managerial experience and the position changed to Marketing Communications Manager. Then, they saw my experience as a marketing manager and the position changed again. Now, I’m interviewing for an E-Commerce Specialist role, setting goals and creating strategies for online sales.

I’m going in this week with a ten minute presentation on how I believe the company can do just that.

The thing is, of course, that I feel like a fraud because this position is now one I’m normally considered for. You know, there’s a part of me that believes – hey – I’m just a writer. But then, this isn’t that much of a stretch. After all, I did this back at Allied. Somewhere between the two, stress is created… and I’ll just be glad to get this over with. And I hope they like it. Because it would be nice to see a regular paycheck again… it’s been a while…

You know, when I get all that down on paper things look pretty busy around here. They are. And I forgot to mention how great Vicky has been through it all. She has. I can’t wait until she sees my show. Of course, I’ll need to get her to listen to a little Firesign Theatre so she knows what she’s in for up in Hollywood. My guess is she wonders what’s so funny – but that’s just me.

Anyway… lots to look forward to…

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Ode to a jalapeno plant…

WARNING: Cats like the taste of jalapeno pepper plants!

… well, mine do…

… well, at least one of mine does…

Yes, I transplanted the jalapeno pepper plant that was growing so well. I got it into the ground and it began to flourish.

Then, my cats ate it… or cat… anyway, it’s dead now... chewed to bits... Sob.

There you go. Lesson learned. I guess I’ll wait a bit before I plant another…

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

My life in five minutes…

I thought I’d give you a brief update – because as good as Facebook is it certainly does eschew details. That said…


I’ve been waiting for the right weather to ramp up and get ready to cycle my second metric of the year. (A metric is 100 kilometers.) Every time I think I’m ready we get crazy heat or stupid winds or something like that. This week, it’s cool and while it is breezy it is rather nice. So, I’m getting ready.

The thing about riding a metric, for me, is that it’s basically sado-masochism on wheels. Yesterday, I rode 25 miles (about 40k). I thought, “That hurt,” and went to a 36 mile ride (about 58k) today. That hurt more, so I’ll ride further tomorrow – until I get to 100k this weekend. This I call fun…


I had a rather interesting job interview recently where the employer changed her mind and decided that rather than consider me for a writing position she would consider me for an E-commerce Specialist position. Now, let’s ignore how very under qualified I am… ignoring that, yet? Next week, I’m supposed to give a volley of managers a PowerPoint presentation showing how I change their online strategy and improve their online presence… sure… no problem.

So, I’ve begun working on a strategy I think will work. This job would be mostly strategizing with management possibilities (or so I’m told), so I guess I’ll be ready for a career of improvising should I get the job…


Can you believe I’ve written six plays in the last eight months? Neither can I! Of course, it would be nice to find a theater that would buy one of them… which, of course, if why nobody should ever be encouraged to pursue writing. Seriously.

And lastly…

Yes, I’ve been negligent in keeping this site up. But when you’re unemployed there’s just not much to talk about. You want to hear about how Vicky and I talked about how we couldn’t afford a new TV? I didn’t think so. Just bear with me. Okay?

In the meantime, I’ve got a birthday coming up. So you’re bound to hear all about a trip to Dizzyland really soon!