Tuesday, December 31, 2013

This is the best thing about the New Year…


You made it! You survived another year! I mean, if you’re reading this that means you are still alive, which is reason to celebrate! So many people didn’t make it and we remember them as we move forward – but we move forward. We are the ones who live in the new world of 2014, providing you don’t die before midnight. (Here’s a tip: Don’t die before midnight.)

But there’s more. There’s so much more. There’s a whole year, laid out in front of us like an endless cake. It’s frosted. It’s decorated. And it’s all for us to enjoy.

Sure, it might suck. It might be the worst cake ever. It might taste quite literally like shit.

But it’s ours. It’s life. You don’t need a resolution. You don’t even need change. All you need to do is recognize this incredible opportunity – this incredible gift – that is another minute, another hour, another day, month, and if you are lucky an entire year. Maybe more!

That’s the best thing about the New Year. You’re still here. Congratulations.

Now, appreciate it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Matching Pair…


Sometimes, I get a reminder of just how well Vicky and I fit together – and sometimes that reminder isn’t necessarily necessary.

Take our Christmas, for instance. (One is tempted to say “Please” at this point, though I wouldn’t trade it for anything.)

Two days before Christmas, Vicky took a tumble in a Starbucks and sprained her ankle pretty badly. We spent pretty much the entire day in an (misnomer alert!) Urgent Care Center, where they determined that she didn’t break any bones. You could have fooled us with all the swelling, but we were glad she was still in one piece.

They gave her some crutches and little else and sent us on our way. And I spent Christmas Eve taking care of Vicky.

… well, I spent most of Christmas Eve taking care of Vicky. I spent the rest of Christmas Eve becoming deathly ill.

The worst part about this is I know it was my fault. I’m a pretty fair cook – have never killed anyone – but I know I got sick from either:

  • My fried egg sandwich
  • My coffee
  • Or the dinner I made…

One way or the other, I was sick on the night before Christmas, choking back rivers of Christmas Spirit in the form of vomit.

The next day, Christmas morning, we had to drive out to see Vicky’s family. It’s about a 90 minute drive and Vicky’s ankle wouldn’t let her drive. More importantly, I wouldn’t let her drive. I was supposed to be taking care of her, don’t forget. So, I offered to drive, not realizing what the constant motion of the car would do to my nausea… it would turn it into HULK NAUSEA! (Don’t make me vomit. You wouldn’t like it when I vomit.)

With Vicky’s family on Christmas morning, my wife limped around and I laid perfectly still.

Oh yes, we were quite the pair. But, you know what they say: “In sickness and in health”…

Monday, December 02, 2013

Why we have a Muslim President…


Got into a conversation with an old lady at the doctor’s office today. Basically, I said “Hello” and then let her talk.

I like doing this because it gives me an insight into what people are thinking out there in the real world.

This woman went from “I was a teacher of painting” to talking about a painting she saw of a girl being stoned in Iran to how the Muslims took over Iran to how they’re taking over Europe and all the way to…

“That’s how we ended up with a Muslim president, you know? Nobody wants to say anything because he’s black. They don’t want to offend anyone. But he’s a Muslim. That’s how they take over, you know? They get elected and you can’t say anything because they’re black.”

Her statement was so filled with racism, hatred, and intolerance, I nearly converted to Islam on the spot. I mean… first of all, it’s not illegal to be Muslim, last I checked. And, on top of that, how many Christian churches does President Obama have to go to before people stop thinking he’s a Muslim?

Mostly, though, I realized how easy it is for otherwise sane people (and I admit that’s an assumption but let’s let her have that) to get so twisted by hate. She probably didn’t start out hating Barack Obama but once some political operative put the label MUSLIM on him – after all, just look at his name! – there was probably no going back.

I felt sorry for the old woman.

I feel sorry for racists and people who live out of fear and hate. It’s not just that they’re fucking idiots. It’s that they’re pathetic. They’re sad.

And they’re fucking idiots.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Day We Said Goodbye is out today, exclusively for the Kindle!...

I'm pleased to announce the release of my third memoir, The Day We Said Goodbye. The initial launch is exclusively for the Kindle - but keep an eye out for other formats and an audiobook, coming soon!






The audiobook version (coming soon!), read by the author, is beautifully scored with the Josh Woodward song, History Repeats. (www.joshwoodward.com)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Now in audio - Daughter of a One-Armed Man...

I'm happy to announce the Daughter of a One-Armed Man audiobook is now available from Audible, iTunes, and wherever fine audiobooks are sold!
 
Jackson is just a Wal-Mart worker from Los Angeles, far too caught up in the apathy of modern life to believe in anything. After spending one night with the daughter of a wood nymph and the man who surrendered his arm for the woman he loved, the lithesome beauty named Mari, Jackson knows he believes. And he knows he'll do anything to find her again.  
He follows her up the coast of California and a polar bear drives the taxi. Into the forest and through frozen mountains, he talks to God and creatures of faerie alike but the final confrontation is with the mother whose people have been wiped out by mankind.
They were wiped out the same way humanity is wiping itself out, with greed and disregard.  
Daughter is more than just a simple love story because it also poses this question to the listener: Is love really possible? Can human beings really love each other? How is it possible for parents who pollute the world they're leaving behind to say they love their children? How can we say we look out for each other, even as we divert our eyes to the homeless we see every day?  
For, if love isn't possible, how can Jackson really say he loves Mari? Faced with proof after proof that it doesn't exist, Jackson's only hope is to somehow prove otherwise. Daughter of a One-Armed Man is lush with impossible discoveries and words of hope for the future, beautifully scored with the Josh Woodward song, Don't Close Your Eyes.




Sunday, November 10, 2013

ASMR not... ASMR too...

Here, then, is Radio de'Olde, Episode -4(3): "ASMR not. ASMR too."

This, of course, is my way of taking the recent artform of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)... and adding absolutely nothing to it.


Saturday, November 09, 2013

Preparation is 2/3 hair...

Vicky: You've got a tuft of hair growing on the back of your neck.
Ken: I know. That's for cold weather, in case I get trapped in a snow bank.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

It's mostly in the eyes...

So, after injuring my foot about a month ago, I've taken what you might call a breather from any running or jogging... or walking... until I'm just about climbing the walls. And I'm flat out tired of "resting my foot" and waiting for the dang appendage to heal.

And then, this morning, I got the idea in my head that I could take just a short walk, just a little one.

"Has your foot hurt in the last week?" Vicky asked me.

"Yes," I replied.

"In the last five days?"

"Yes."

I should have seen where Vicky's line of questioning was going. She's sneaky like this. "In the last two days," asked little miss know it all...

"Yes," I said. "But only yesterday morning."

I tell you all this because, while I do not believe in psychics, I have somehow gained the knack of being able to tell my wife is thinking I'm an idiot without her needing to say a word...

Friday, October 25, 2013

A 5 Brief Minutes preview...

This weekend will see the start of my new YouTube series, 5 Brief Minutes. And I've decided to share the image below as just a brief preview...

Monday, October 14, 2013

In Our Selves... the Trailer...


Dreams make us better, happier, healthier people. They help us achieve our greatest potential. They help us become the person we want to be.

With In Our Selves, Ken La Salle brings another collection of essays from the pages of Recovering the Self. Not only does he share his journey but he also provides the reader with tips and clues and signposts to help them along the way.

Dreams are the best parts of all of us. We should never forget they lie not in the stars but In Our Selves…



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Zombie guts…


So, Vicky and I were out walking the dogs the other day when the topic of zombies came up… again. (What can I say? We like to keep our conversations lively.)

Not only did we talk about zombies. We also talked about zombie… guts.

Here’s the thing: Imagine you’re a zombie (Republicans, this shouldn’t be too hard). You’ve eaten a side of person but you’re still a bit peckish, so you opt for some brain salad with a side of liver, spleen, and intestine.

Now that you’ve eaten all of that… where does it go?

Seriously, where does it all go?

Do zombies poop?

None of the standard zombie cannon shows any sign of zombie bathroom habits.

If zombies don’t poop, what happens to all that yummy people? Do they digest it? They can’t, obviously, because they are dead.

Take that to its logical conclusion and you find that zombies are bound to be… well, bound. I mean, zombies would keep a gastroenterologist pretty busy. Eventually, they’d just be these stick-thin walking corpses with huge, distended stomachs.

… and who the hell wants to talk about that?

Monday, October 07, 2013

Jogging by any other name…


The other day, I shared with Vicky the fact that I had jogged 10 miles that morning. Actually, I refer to it as “slogged”, not “jogged”. “Slogged” means “slow jogged”. And, believe me, I’m slow.

Vicky suggested that I was getting close to half a marathon and maybe I could think about getting into something like that.

… I thought she was kidding…

I told her, “I don’t think you understand just how slowly I jog. I jog really slow.”

“I’m sure plenty of people do marathons slowly,” she countered.

I just couldn’t get her to understand the depths to which my slowness plumbs.

And so, I have decided that I will share with you, my reading public – both of you – just how slowly I jog 10 miles…

 

Mile 1

I sit at the bus stop for 34 minutes. When the bus comes, I take it for .896 miles… and then I walk the rest.

 

Mile 2

I sit with my phone and watch a “Murder, She Wrote” marathon. After the 17th episode, I realize I’m thirsty and walk to the nearest 7-11 for a Big Gulp Slurpee.

 

Mile 3

Bathroom break. I hurry to the nearest bathroom, stopping only briefly to eat a gallon of ice cream, take a nap, and get a manicure.

 

Mile 4

Stop by to get a massage.

 

Mile 5

Stop to get another massage because I just learned about “Happy Endings”. Sadly, the masseuse has me thrown into jail for soliciting.

 

Mile 6

Several days later, I am released. Famished, I stop by Subway for a footlong tuna sandwich, a “Big & Beefy” sandwich, a “Chicken O’lay” sandwich, three meatball subs, four packs of chips, and a Diet Coke. I never eat more than seven sandwiches as I am watching my weight.

 

Mile 7-9

Hitchhike.

 

Mile 10

After a slow meander, I “binge watch” the last season of Newsroom. Then, I stop for some Never Ending Pasta at Olive Garden, get checked into the hospital to have my stomach pumped, and catch a ride home.

 

I guess what I’m saying is I’m slow.

Friday, October 04, 2013

On a road in Eastern Washington…


One way I consider myself lucky is that, oftentimes, I have a very vivid memory. This doesn’t apply to everything and it sometimes pops up on its own but, when it does, it’s like a movie playing in my head. Scenes unroll and I almost feel like I was there (which, of course, I was).

That’s what happened this morning. I was sitting at my desk, editing a new audiobook, when I began to see a memory from just a few months ago.

Vicky and I were in a car, on a road in eastern Washington State. I was driving and we were navigating our way up and down along these green and winding hillsides. Traffic wasn’t too bad; the only cars we saw were some classics on their way to a car show somewhere.

We drove along – I think Cher was playing on Vicky’s iPod – and talked a little, here and there. When you’re on the road with someone for more than a week or so, you’d think you would run out of things to say but that’s not how it was with Vicky and me. We just talked and talked; I think it was because we knew that, all too soon, we’d be back home and knee deep in the minutiae of our lives once again.

So, I was sitting here, letting that scene unroll in my mind, and I just felt so lucky.

I know it’s not much – trapped in a car for more than two weeks, driving every day – but sharing that with Vicky, even that, just made it so much better. It made it the kind of memory I can reflect on, months later, and just feel good about, knowing my love was next to me, knowing that she’s mine. It’s powerful stuff.

Sure, we fought quite a few times on the road. That’s what happens. That’s so common, it’s not really worth remembering. Because the rest of the time was so good and so right that even the memory of the two of us on a road in eastern Washington can still appear in my mind and just… make me happy.

Friday, September 27, 2013

To the 9s…


I’m not going to write about dressing “to the 9s” today… mostly because nobody would know what the hell I was saying.

Actually, I’m going to talk about jogging nine miles. (Sorry, all you fashion nuts!)

Since the beginning of the year, my plan has been to go for longer jogs – 9, 10, 11, 12 miles – to help get me ready for longer hikes – once I have the time and money to go on longer hikes.

Once I start really hiking, distances will get crazy. Twenty miles won’t be unheard of. But I can’t just start off at twenty; I have to condition my feet to get used to that kind of distance.

… and it hurts!

I’m used to feeling pain after a jog, in my joints or muscles or massive protrusions of fat. (I have a self-image problem.) But I’m not used to my feet protesting so much. After going on three 9-mile jogs this week, the bottom of my right foot feels like it’s been through a meat grinder. That meat grinder is the rest of me, chewing up my foot for just a few more miles.

Fortunately, I can rest and get over it. But, once I jog again, I know the pain will return. It has become a part of my routine: sit-ups, push-ups, jog, and suffer.

Being nearly 48 surely isn’t helping. Being as fat as a small town – a small, INCORPORATED town – probably isn’t helping, either. But it has to be done.

I have to get used to this.

Because I want to do more. Much more.

And I’m running out of years in which this type of abuse is possible… without a great deal of frowning on behalf of my wife and my GP.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Flat feet…


I slogged nine miles yesterday.

… some explanation appears to be in order…

You see, I don’t jog… exactly. I “slog”, which is to say I “slow jog”. I have my music on my iPod and jog with the music. So, when a song is up-tempo, I jog faster. When a slower song comes on, I slow down. And so on.

This works for me because it gives me a chance to breathe now and then.

This is not to say I never push myself and yesterday I slogged nine miles.

But my feet insisted on having a say. By the time I got home, my dogs were – well, not exactly barking – they were crying out like they were being put to sleep! And, today, my feet are still hurting.

Vicky asked if, perhaps, my shoes were getting old and worn out.

This, right here, explains why I love Vicky so much. Once in a while… okay, once in a great while, she’ll give me the benefit of the doubt and, instead of saying “Your feet can’t carry your fat, obese, rotund, chunky monkey body,” she asks me if my shoes are getting old and worn out.

Sadly, my shoes are practically new. It’s my fat, obese, rotund, chunky monkey body that is the problem, flattening my feet like some kind of pancake press. (Those exist, right?)

But I have a “never say die” attitude. I’ll keep at it and never say die.

I think my feet have a “I’ll happily say die whenever you like” attitude, but we’re working on that.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

John Ary from Ain't It Cool News is my guest on So Dream Something...

I sat down with John Ary from Ain't It Cool News recently and got to spend an hour talking about movies and following your dreams. Check it out in this month's episode of So Dream Something...


Friday, August 30, 2013

Yikes! Yelp…


I don’t know if you’re familiar with Yelp. I don’t even know if you use Yelp. For that matter, I don’t know who you are. Who are you people???

(start again)

Vicky and I have used Yelp on a number of occasions. On our recent trip around the west, we used it quite a bit. My personal impression used to be that it’s a fairly reliable source of opinion on many stores and services I haven’t tried, yet.

… I say “used to be” because I also use Craigslist. My books haven’t been selling very well and, so, I am looking for a part-time job to help generate some income. As I’ve searched on Craigslist, I have found not just one or two but hundreds – thousands! – of ads looking for writers to write Yelp ads.

These folk will pay a writer as much as $20 to write positive ads for whatever service they are told to write about. It doesn’t matter if the writer has the appropriate experience or even if the words are true; they are paying the writer to lie.

And, on top of that, it turns out most if not all don’t even pay the writer! Most are scams!

If you’re anything like me, your opinion of Yelp just fell through the floor. But I like to believe there are still honest people out there… You know, five or six. And I hope there are enough smart writers out there, like me, who don’t want to lie only to be robbed, in turn.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sometimes, it goes beyond humoring me…



“Can we drive out to Warner Springs this weekend? Some of the new book is taking place there and I want to get some pictures.”

If you heard someone say this to you, chances are you’d give them an odd look, reach for a phone, and begin calling men in white coats. I mean, I said those words and even I can’t help but fear that the speaker was off his meds.

Vicky? She just said, “Okay. Let’s go in the morning before it gets too hot.”

Vicky has reached a point, I believe, where being married to a writer almost feels normal. I mean, let’s say she remarried. And this person was a lawyer or a mailman or a mechanic – something NORMAL! I don’t know if she could handle it. There wouldn’t be nearly enough randomness for her system!

I’m reminded of a trip she and I took many years ago, possibly 2006, to Arizona. We drove along Route 66 to Kingman, Oatman, and so on, taking pictures as we went, because I was writing a book that took place along that stretch of road. Vicky humored me but, clearly, this was outside of her spectrum of normality. She didn’t quite get it and didn’t really want to get it. But, we did it. I wrote the book. There you go.

This time? She didn’t bat an eyelash.

One day, she’ll mention it to someone – or some other excursion – and they’ll give her the same looks that she once gave me.

Vicky, you’re welcome.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Meet the new tooth…


A couple of weeks ago, I broke a tooth.

Actually, it probably happened long before that. But I noticed it on one Sunday morning, when Vicky and I were eating breakfast. I bit into some eggs… and I heard a crunch.

I thought it was an egg shell.

I swear, the eggs were not hard or anything. They were actually quite good, nice and fluffy.

Said crunch was not from an eggshell. When I pulled out the offending bit, I realized it must have been a tooth. And when I felt about in my mouth with my tongue, I found one of my bottom molars split like, well, anything in a Roland Emmerich film.

Vicky was certain that I’d cracked the tooth all the way down to the nub. “You’re going to need a crown. Probably a root canal. You’re going to need a root canal and a crown. It’ll probably be pretty severe. You may lose a tooth.”

I was almost expecting to hear her tell me that my jaw would have to go.

When I finally made it to the dentist a few days later, however… after days of paranoid worrying, my dentist said I’d be fine. She said she could fill it and repair it.

And sure enough, she did!

I mean, the procedure took several hours and it was all quite painful. (I’m still not sure how the hot poker on my feet helped.) In the end, my tooth was fine, perfectly repaired.

The Novocain wore off in time and I was back to chewing – if with a molar that felt much larger than before. I tried to ignore it.

… that is, I tried to ignore it until said tooth took a bite out of my cheek!

I heard a loud crunch, and screamed in agony as my mouth filled with blood. Soon, though, the bleeding stopped and the pain subsided.

A flap of skin hung loose in my mouth.

“You’ll have to bite it off,” Vicky said. “Just chew off the rest. Don’t be a wimp.”

… this is my life, folks. Kafka by way of "Now spit"...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Quotationals come to So Dream Something...

If you're a parent or interested in the state of education, you should take a listen to this month's So Dream Something. My guest, William Beshears, discusses Quotational Bees and the state of education.

Hope you enjoy it!


Friday, August 09, 2013

With just a pinch of perflusion...

It's Radio de'Olde!


Where’s Vicky?...


As some of you may know, I share my life with a particularly work-addicted woman. The only reason I don’t have a problem with this, I think, is because I am as addicted to my work as Vicky is to hers.

All the same, it does put some obvious stresses on our marriage. And when we do find time together, oftentimes it is spent running errands just to keep our lives moving forward.

I wish I could say I am mindful of this, but all too often I squander the little time we have. Listen, Vicky and I recently went on a nine-state tour around the western United States by car. We drove nearly every single day of the more than two week trip and I realize I should have had the foresight to avoid that. After all that driving – some days we drove 10-12 hours! – we found ourselves more anxious and exhausted than if we had been working that whole time. I realize now that we wasted a perfectly good vacation driving here, there, and everywhere.

And, of course, all that stress led to quite a bit of fighting.

It was a mess.

We got back and returned to our schedules, Vicky going off to her career and me staying here to pursue mine.

… and I miss her.

But I realize that’s just how our lives work right now. Maybe, one day, things will work more in our favors and I’ll remember to plan a bit more appropriately.

Until then, however, I am making do.

I’ve taken all of the photographs I used to put on my desk at work – one that Vicky gave to me shortly after the first time she told me that she loved me, another of our first trip to the Grand Canyon, one of us at our wedding, and another at Sand Rock Farm in Capitola – and I have set their frames where I can see them whenever I work. In addition, I’ve propped up a couple loose photographs Vicky gave me of when she was younger.

Photos are just the start. One of the best things about working here at home is that I feel constantly surrounded by Vicky, by the life that Vicky and I have built. I am held safely within US and there is something very soothing about that.

Mind you, if Vicky ever reads this she is bound to tell me that I don’t make any sense or call me a dork or something. She’s not too fond of sentimentality on the part of others, but I like to think she will understand.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Highlights from a Mad Dash: California...




When I saw the Welcome to California sign, I actually cheered. Why? Because of good phone reception and a time zone I could get behind (seriously, what’s with the sun in the north – is it afraid of the horizon?) and, well… work.

Yes, you read that right. I wanted to get back to work.

So, sue me.

But I should have realized something was wrong when we stepped into our room in the Crescent City Quality Inn and found that the light switch by the door turned on the bathroom light – on the OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM! (Their electrician must have been high…)

Then, of course, we hit crazy traffic in Frisco, trying to get to that magical garlic of Gilroy before the shops closed.

And then, there was…


The desk clerk at the Adelaide Inn in Paso Robles recommended Cool Hand Luke’s to us. I know it wasn’t meant as a great, bit middle finger to our last night on the road but it might as well have been. (Which is to say nothing against the Adelaide Inn; that was very nice.)

Cool Hand Luke’s is where dining goes to die. It is the kind of restaurant that makes you long for McDonald’s. To say it’s shitty is to bring insult to the largest swamp of pig shit with a mountain of human excrement possible.

It’s bad.

The servers, who we saw so little of I wondered if it was my breath, had very few other tables to tend to but when they did I overheard them complain about being so busy. Before we could order drinks, about fifteen minutes after we got there, we were brought a basket of rolls and… a pot of beans?

Yes, a pot of beans – with a single spoon. What’s the point of that? I mean, I was there with Vicky. We could share but… really? Did they expect this from a family of four? Or two guys who weren’t really looking to swap spit?

So, we order our food and a half hour later are presented with something mildly resembling playdough. I had the Bacon Macaroni and Cheese, which was overcooked noodles in a bland cheese sauce. A few pieces of shredded cheddar were laid on top to make it look real and then the whole mess was sprinkles with bacon bits. Classy!

I thought I saw whip marks on my steak from where the rider rode it to death but then I realized they were marks from when the veterinarian patched it up. I’m not saying it was dog… it was probably cat.

When we finally reached Los Angeles, I gave a big, deep breath, happy to be back home.

I think I’ve outgrown the road trip. As much as I love spending time with Vicky, two people like us just should not be cooped up in a car for two weeks. Our next vacation should be somewhere we can relax, be served drinks, and possibly have more drinks.

For now, I’m just happy to be back home.

Highlights from a Mad Dash: Oregon...




This entire trip began as a business excursion for Vicky. I just tagged along for the ride… for the very, very long ride.

So, we ended up in Portland, in a lovely room at the Hilton Downtown. I didn’t really care for downtown because it was mostly businesses and homeless – no bueno.

But I got out for a jog on my first morning there and had a nice enough time. When I came back, Vicky was busy – she’d be working while we were there – so I went off to find what was – nay, is – perhaps the finest speedy sandwich establishment ever created…


Holy shit, folks. Have you been here? Go! If there’s one nearby, go! And then, order me something. Like their Italian sandwich. Then, mail it to me. I don’t care if it doesn’t make it! I’ll lick the envelope! My god, I have wet dreams about their sandwiches!

… and that was pretty much Oregon.

Oh, wait. Um… I walked up to Northwest Portland to see a publisher and just fell in love with the Northwest district. It had what I missed about Downtown - that hominess, niceness, pleasantness that made me want to just move there. I mean, it’s awesome.

But after Portland, for all of its pleasures – did I mention we were at the Hilton? It’s pretty nice – I just wanted to go home. I missed my puppies, my computer, my TV – everything!

Vicky and I took a long – perhaps too long – drive down the Oregon coast on the 101. Hey, Oregon folks, can you put some speed limit signs up for crying out loud? When we saw that Welcome to California sign, I practically cheered!

More on that next…

Highlights from a Mad Dash: Washington...




Vicky and I took the long way into Washington… which, granted, was a terrible mistake and the less said about that the better.

We stayed with Vic’s friend, Jenn, in Redmond and, after all that driving, pretty much just stayed put.

Mind you, I got a little jogging in. Jenn lives enviously close to the Sammamish River and someone put a lovely, little trail alongsideof it for jogging (and a million other things, apparently). It’s like the Santa Ana River Trail but… greener… nicer… better… the bastards…

Fortunately, we were able to fit in a little family time, too. My brother, Richard, and his wife, Teri, welcomed us in their home and their cute, little tornado, Hayden, burned enough energy to light a small town… for a decade. That was fun.

Then, of course, we had a day to ourselves and I made the terrible mistake of suggesting the Snoqualmie Falls. Mind you, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Snoqualmie Falls (except the fact that they had closed down the trail to the bottom – way to go, guys!) but to get there we had to drive through Fall City.

… where I was once married…

I don’t know if Vicky was being kind or evil when she suggested we have breakfast there. I mean, I was doing everything I could to ignore the significance of the place and Vicky was like, “Hey, this is nice! Let’s have breakfast!”

… ugh.

Fortunately, we went to…


Best breakfast of the entire trip. No kidding. Vicky’s crab benedict was amazing and I had a Strawberry Stuffed French Toast that, well, it’s all I can remember. I’m still stupefied by how good it was.

Washington was pretty nice. Last time I was there, all I could see was my ex. This time, it just had to be my dad. He was everywhere and I missed him terribly.

And that’s it.

Of course, before we left Vicky and I had to get into a fight that… let’s just say I should be out of the hospital soon.

And then, we went to Oregon.

Highlights from a Mad Dash: Idaho...



Idaho.

For the state with the lowest self-esteem, it ain’t that bad.

I hadn’t been back to Idaho in a few years and as we drove through eastern Idaho to our destination, I couldn’t help but think, “Wow. This is utter shit.”

I mean, there I was surrounded by right-wing, anti-wind-energy signs (seriously, kids?) and fireworks warehouses opened all year long. I felt like I was driving into a Republican’s wet dream!

But then, we reached Cascade, Idaho, which was rivers and mountains and deer and fresh air and blue skies and open meadows. Turns out, that’s also a Republican’s wet dream; they can’t wait to tear it down.

The irony here is that right about that time, I was JONESING for some pavement. Seriously, I was getting really home sick. I wanted a Starbucks and a freeway… sigh…

Cascade was our first prolonged stop. We spent a couple of days with Vicky’s family inside their lovely, little home. It was quite nice.

Our first morning there, I hit the road for an eight-mile jog. Little did I realize that at about 5,000 feet up and eight-mile jog is just about the worst thing you could do. And it was probably the cause of my migraine the next day that kept me in bed and in the dark. Fortunately, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the rest of that day.

We lunched in a little place called…


Gramma’s. Great name, huh? And that’s just what it’s like. It’s a little family place that serves a pretty good burger. What more can you ask for?

We trotted around town a bit until the 1950s-ness of it all wore thin. I mean, really, kids selling lemonade from roadside stands and teens hanging out at the soda shop. I felt like giving them heroin; it was just TOO CLEAN!

Then, someone got the idea we should go see The Lone Ranger, which was about the worst decision imaginable. The Lone Ranger is a movie with so much wrong with it, the crappy acting ain’t that bad. It shits on the source material, on logic, on taste, and on its viewers. It’s not a movie. It’s a sentence. It’s punishment. It was to movies what Cool Hand Luke’s was to food… I’ll get to that later.

The Lone Ranger may also have caused my migraine… odds are, it did.

We soon left Idaho, on our way to Washington…

Highlights from a Mad Dash: Wyoming...





Wyoming came at the end of a very long drive through four states.

Vicky and I pulled up to the La Quinta Inn with nothing but contempt for a world that would make us drive all that way – and whose idea was that, anyway? (I’m taking the fifth!)

I saw some “bikers” trucking in their motorcycles, probably to Sturgis – the bastards. Listen, I drove a bike for seven years and did not once truck it anywhere. Motorcycles are for riding and if you’re too old and your back won’t take it, fucking retire and get a golf cart!

… I’m sorry. Where was I?

Oh, right. Wyoming.

Vicky and I were exhausted by hungry and decided to eat and the nearest place… oh crap. It was an Applebee’s. But, heck, it was all we had. We sat down at our table and found out our waitress was about as tired as we were. We ordered sliders and a couple of salads, and barely ate that.

We barely had enough energy to get back to our hotel room and ignore the horrible bed. (Seriously. What circus left the trampoline behind?)

Highlights from a Mad Dash: Utah...





Utah.

Utah.

Right.

Something nice to say about Utah…

Hmmmmmmmmmm….

Dirt.

Brown.

Oh! We saw some prairie dogs – I may have this way out of order but I had to think of something – who were quite adorable but terribly stupid. Of the handful of sweet and cuddly live ones we saw, I also witnessed dozens more of them squished in the road.

Not nice.

Certainly not worth a picture.

We got out of there as quickly as possible.

Highlights from a Mad Dash: Colorado...





Would I say that Colorado was my favorite state of the trip?

Yes. Yes, I would say that Colorado was my favorite state of the trip.

I mean, damn, it was beautiful! The gorges! The peaks! (The stores! The chores!) The sky was a kind of blue you never see in the real world!

And then, we entered Silverton, Colorado, a little strip of heaven just pretty as a picture, so pretty it should wear a bow. Vicky was a bit peckish and Silverton sprang up in the middle of some tedious mountain driving – so we stopped.

Ate at a joint called…


Two words: Pork Sundae. No shit. Pork Sundae. It’s like BBQ heaven – which is not where pigs go when we eat them, sadly enough.

I didn’t want to leave Silverton. I wanted to move there. It’s just so beautiful.

But we couldn’t wait. Utah was calling… on an old phone… collect… because it hated us.

Highlights from a Mad Dash: New Mexico...



There wasn’t too much to like about New Mexico.

This isn’t to say that there’s nothing there to like. I’m sure there are plenty of… I’m mean, something… you know… decent. Maybe.

The El Malpais National Monument is a thing of beauty. It’s really out of this world wonderful. Vicky and I stopped there for some shots and I knew it was the kind of place I’d like to return to and hike. Sadly, however, the road called.

We were welcomed into Albuquerque with a sand storm, but unlike the one in Arizona this included rain as well. It was kinda fucked up, to tell you the truth.

I just wanted to get out of there.

So, we hit the road the next day and drove northwest to Colorado…

Highlights from a Mad Dash: Arizona...




Arizona greeted us with sandstorms, 120 degree temperatures, and some of its lovely scenery, which is to say it made us want to leave.

But we had just arrived. So, we kept driving to our first stop, the home of my step-mother Blanche. Though we had the air conditioner cranked to 11, heat bled in through the metal skin of the car until there was just a small pocket of breathable air towards the center – what we called “comfort”.

When we saw Blanche, she said she could feel heat coming off our bodies – so much for the air conditioning – and we ended up just spending time in her living room, under the cool vents of her air conditioning.

But then, dinner came and we drove to a place called…


The great thing about Joe’s is that even though they were busy – and they were busy – they were still helpful and the food was good and the service was great. What’s not to like? On top of that, the portions were so amazing we had to leave food at the table.

Hold on.

Look at me.

This is not a boy who leaves food lightly. Okay?

We had a great visit with Blanche. It was just so lovely to see her after so many years apart.

Sadly, though, we were back on the road the next day, continuing east along the 60 to Show Low and then along the 36 to El Malpais National Monument… Fun!

Highlights from a Mad Dash: California...


So, Vicky and I decided to go on a road trip recently because we forgot what two weeks in a car with another person will do to you (hint: it rhymes with bomocide) and we thought driving for two weeks would be fun.

We were wrong.

But there were some good times, some fun times, some beautiful sights, some great food… and some horrible food. (Skip to the final entry and Cool Hand Luke’s for further details on that.)

So, now that I’m back home and can say with some certainty that I survived, I thought it might be fun to take the trip apart, state by state, and give you the hightlights!

Before we began our mad dash around nine states (I’ll be hitting California twice but counting it once), we decided to stop by a little Mexican place in San Diego called…


We first heard of El Indio some thousand years ago or so on Food Network and have wanted to go ever since. I’m happy to say we were not disappointed. The food was fresh and flavorful. I especially liked the Horchata, which is one of those things that when it’s bad it’s awful. Theirs wasn’t. Vicky and I shared a dish and that satisfied us quite nicely. We agreed to do more of that kind of sharing on the trip – this was the only time it happened…

After El Indio, we hit Highway 8 and took it east into Arizona…

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

So Dream Something takes the Pacific Crest Trail...

Mindy Dunham hiked the Pacific Crest Trail at 58! Listen to her fascinating story in this month's So Dream Something...


Friday, June 28, 2013

Taglines that never quite took off...


Taglines that never quite took off...

#25: Pork. The other white steroid-laden, hormone soaked obscenity that shouldn't get near your mouth.

#24: Beef. It's what's for dinner... until we run out and start on the cats.

#23: Michelob Ultra. Still tastes just as shitty as our regular beer - in fact, even moreso!

#22: Las Vegas. What happens in Vegas, looks much better in a movie. Otherwise, it's shit.

#21: Finger-lickin' barf!

#20: Snap. Crackle. And, yes, we know they taste like cardboard. What do you want from us?

#19: Every kiss begins with a K... and ends with the terrible suspicion that the other person has herpes.

#18: Ivory Soap. 99.44% pure... the rest is rat feces.

#17: When you care enough to send a shitty card.

#16: Never let them see you sweat... or crap your pants.

#15: Dunkin. Time to make the donuts, just as soon as I spit in the batter.

#14: Disneyland. The happiest place on earth as long as you're not a Jew.

#13: Have a coke and these dead polar bears we found floating around.

#12: Have a coke and diabetes.

#11: Have a coke and rotten teeth.

#10: Please don't squeeze the Charmin... perv.

#9: What's in your wallet? Really? How much? Holy shit. Seriously? Well, hand it over.

#8: Nothing comes between me and my Calvins... except for my crabs.

#7: Calgon, kill my husband and make it look like an accident. Oh, and I could use some cocaine.

#6: Got bovine lactation fluid?

#5: Budweiser. The King of Uriney-looking beverages.

#4: Bounty. The quicker - oh, ick. I don't want to touch that!

#3: You're in good colon with Allstate.

#2: I can't believe I ate the whole cat.

#1: Morbid Obesity. It isn't just for breakfast anymore.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New series are coming to my YouTube channel...


Launching on my YouTube channel on September 1st will be GETTING OUT MORE OFTEN with Sean & Ken. I’m really excited about this. I am working with my friend, Sean, to create a monthly series in which we get out and around southern California to restaurants, shops, you name it. I’ll talk a bit about the place, interview people, and we’ll have a great time. Our first episode will take us to our local breakfast joint: Keno’s… but will we survive?

 

Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for this and other exclusive web series coming this year!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Taking a peak at Bedford…


Went on a pretty strenuous hike yesterday up into Silverado Canyon in the Cleveland National Forest to Bedford Peak.

… it didn’t exactly go as planned.

Fortunately, it wasn’t my first time out there. On my first hike, I’d only taken about a liter of water and a snack. I had hiked at 10am with no clear goal or idea where I was going. This time, things would be different.

I brought two liters of water and several snacks. I left at 7:15am!

That’s right.

I was ready.

Mind you, the first couple of miles is just about straight uphill – and that sucks. But there was some shade, which helped. I made it to the peak and was just about ready to turn around when…

… hold on…

… it wasn’t the peak.

It was A peak.

But I couldn’t find the USGS marker showing that it was THE peak, Bedford Peak.

Fine, I thought. At that point, I could see I was hiking on a ridge of peaks. One of them should be Bedford.

I proceeded to the next peak… no marker.

Damn!

From the peak, the trail descended to a metal gate and I took it. When I reached the gate, I said, “It’s time to have something to eat.” I ate a banana, which survived surprisingly well, and an apple. Damn, apples are good on a hike!

As I was eating my apple, I saw the biggest coyote I’d ever seen cross the trail about 20 yards or so, back the way I’d come. It was beautiful. Most coyotes I’ve seen are mangy things that slope down into the city in search of food. This beast strode tall and proudly, a king amongst coyotes. It was mostly tail, sporting the biggest, bushiest tail I’d ever seen.

I said, “WOW!” like a schoolboy.

And, of course, the coyote saw me. He turned and looked at me like I wasn’t worth the trouble.

I said, “Hello, Mister Coyote.”

He walked away, uninterested in conversation.

From the gate I leaned against, I could see a small trail shoot off to another peak not far away. I took that… no dice.

I had one option remaining. I was now on the Main Divide Road, which sloped up to another series of peaks. I decided to take the “road” to the next peak – just one more and then I’d be done.

Well, it didn’t exactly go straight up. Like the other trail, it meandered its way around. When I finally reached the peak, which by this time was a climb of about 3,800 feet or so, I looked around… but couldn’t find a USGS marker. (It was only when I reached home that I discovered that had been Bedford Peak. Next time, I’ll have to look more carefully for the marker.)

By this time, the sun hovered high above me. The time was after 11am and the day was getting hotter. It was time to turn back. My legs were growing weary and the hike down off the peak just made them worse.

But I got back to my car and I got back home and I armed myself with lots of Advil. That was quite a hike!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Married to a Chef on So Dream Something...

Kerilyn Russo, founder of Married to a Chef (at www.marriedtoachef.com), is my guest this month on So Dream Something.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

You don’t have to be paranoid…


Now that we know the federal government is doing everything it can to impinge upon our liberties – tracking phone calls, online interactions, credit card numbers, how many erections we have each day, etc. – it almost doesn’t pay to be paranoid.

I mean, it’s right there in your face!

So, I was wondering what all of this new “freedom” (he said, Orwellian-ly) will do for us. Keep in mind that no matter how many federal employees all this data goes to… it’s still going to people who work for the government, just about the laziest, dumbest, shiftiest people around. You know: ‘Marukins!

I have this sinking suspicion that it won’t make much of a difference at all. If the government decides you’re an enemy, they’ll now have plenty of resources to “prove it”. If, on the other hand, you have enough money and bribe enough politicians… you’ll be just fine, Mister Romney!

I mean, look at how the background on Edward Snowden (the hero who told us all what our government is doing to us) is already being leaked to paint the picture the government wants painted. From geek to lay-about, it’s not about the story or the truth, it’s about being in the 4th grade – and who wants to be seen with the nerd?

It’ll get worse, of course. Just as we’ve seen the US government slowly crucify Bradley Manning, Snowden will also find himself under the government’s thumb.

And this all happens because of choices we make: people we vote for, organizations we fund. If we would stop being such sheep and remember who has been wronging us – and, yes, I include President Obama in this list – we can change things.

I have hope such a thing is possible.

My name is Fielding Mellish.

It must be bad if it’s illegal, right?...


Another state made something about pot legal today. I don’t know which state. In fact, I can’t even source my claim – but it does seem as though something is made legal each day. Either pot is legalized for medicinal purposes or it’s legalized outright. The fact is, states are changing their mind about this whole marijuana thing.

And the federal government continues to insist that it MUST be illegal. Hell, it’s bad for you, isn’t it? Isn’t it a gateway drug, the end of civilization, the cock of Satan, as we’ve always been told? They certainly can’t make it legal if it’s bad for you, can they?

… well, I was thinking about this today as I was out jogging and it made me think.

Consider tobacco. It’s perfectly legal for adults, isn’t it? And what is its one redeeming value?

It’ll kill you.

That’s it. The best thing you can say about tobacco is it will kill you.

Meanwhile, what can you say about pot? Well, it’s beneficial medicinally. When raw, its benefits to your health are incredible. Growing it helps the soil. It can be made into a textile, an oil, paper, concrete… the list goes on and on.

Oh, and odds are pretty good it won’t kill you.

The only reason tobacco is legal is because the tobacco lobby bribes our politicians so well. Marijuana does not have as powerful a lobby. Not to mention, other industries such as oil, lumber, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and so on would be ruined if hemp or pot were ever legalized.

And there you have it. That’s called politics. It doesn’t need to make sense. It just needs to make the rich richer.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

A hike that had my GPS flummoxed…


By the time I completed my hike this morning, my GPS was telling me I had covered 30.85 miles.

My guess is that it was wrong.

This all started at about 7:30 this morning. I piled into my little Honda with a new set of hiking sticks, a new backpack, and even a new hat! I was ready for an adventure!

I wasn’t exactly sure where that adventure would happen but I knew it would start at the Maple Springs trailhead out in Silverado Canyon. Maple Springs starts a long service trail that winds in a seemingly endless journey through the Santa Ana Mountains. Plan A was to just hike that service trail for five or six miles before turning around, thus ensuring plenty of exercise, fresh air, and sore muscles.

But I didn’t go with Plan A.

Plan B presented itself almost immediately, in the form of an unmarked trail about a quarter of a mile up the road. I didn’t know where it went or where it went to – just the kind of adventure I was looking for!

I turned my body in the direction of the trail, fixed my new hiking sticks firmly in hand, and set off…

The trail was your typical, two-foot wide affair, winding around the hillsides, gaining elevation in a slow and steady manner. Fortunately, the morning was still young and the air still cool. The hiking was easy. Of course, after a while, the morning wasn’t so young and I had to remove my hoodie lest I sweat like a hog… which is what I ended up doing anyway.

Soon, I ran into an older gent coming down the hillside. He walked without sticks or packs or even a hat, completely at ease on the hill. He was surrounded by four large dogs, all affably just trotting along. When they saw me kneeling with my hands out and palm up, which is my way of greeting dogs these days, they came up and shared a friendly greeting. Then, the gent and I exchanged greetings and I asked him about the trail.

“Oh, it’s just about three miles to the top,” he said.

So, I kept going. Around and around the hillsides, I hiked, wondering how accurate the old gent’s estimate was. After a while, I knew I’d probably gone a couple of miles and I started looking for the top.

Instead, I saw another old guy heading down my way. This guy was wrapped head to toe in sweats and jeans and a hoodie – this guy was not going to get sunburned! He had the hiking sticks, pack, and hat; I didn’t feel quite so much like a novice.

When I asked him about the top, he said, “That’s about three and a half miles to go. You can’t miss it. There’s a bench there and everything.”

Okay, I thought. Just gotta keep going.

But the hours kept passing and, soon, it was approaching 11am. I’d been hiking for nearly three hours. I knew going down would be much fast than going up. Still, I figured that would be a good time to turn around. I’d hit the peak next time.

Then, I heard my GPS. The GPS app I use, Map My Hike, gives me audible updates on my progress and I heard it tell me how long I’d been hiking, more than two hours, and how far I’d gone. And that’s what threw me. Because it said, “9.5 miles.”

“What?” I muttered. That couldn’t be right. Could it?

Mind you, I’d never taken this trail before… but still…

If anything this just reinforced my decision to turn around, which I did. I ate a snack – a bag of graham crackers, half of which I put in my pocket – and set off.

Down the hill, I went.

Parts of the hillside were pretty steep and I paid attention to the trail as I went. On one straightaway, I noticed a tree branch laying across the trail. When I looked back, I noticed the branch had gotten smaller.

Hold on… I thought.

That’s no tree branch.

As I focused on the “branch”, I realized it was moving. At over two feet long, that “branch” was actually the end of a large snake, slithering across the trail. It wasn’t a rattler and I had no problems with it… but I wish I’d seen it sooner. It looked really cool!

Returning to the bottom of the hill, I came upon a nice, shady area by a dried-up creek bed. I’d seen this on the way up, of course, and had told myself that I could eat the rest of my graham crackers there, in the shade. So, once I got there, I pulled out my crackers, and tried to ignore the flies buzzing around.

Then, the buzzing grew much louder. These were some very loud flies.

But watching them fly around in front of me as their numbers grew, I realized that these were not flies.

I looked down at my arm and saw three fat bees walking on my arm… which was exactly the moment was panic set in. I yelped and shouted. I grabbed my hat off my head and swatted furiously at all the flies that had landed on me and I hauled ass down the trail.

After a bit, they were all gone. But I walked with purpose back to my car.

And my GPS said, “You have gone 30.85 miles.”

No. Not really… it just felt like it.