Sunday, December 23, 2007

Seasons Greetings

--Man, it has been a while. It feels like this is the first time in weeks I've had time to breathe.

Does it ever seem like you have so much on your mind, so many things knocking around your head, that you can't focus on the physical reality around you? It's an interesting sensation to experience while flying down the 405 at 75 mph, let me tell you. It's a weird reversal when your thoughts seem real and the physical world seems like a dream. And this is all without the use of halucinogens.

--I was talking to a friend the other day about the difficulty of doing something that you know is right but feels absolutely wrong. The classic head-vs-heart conflict. It got me thinking...I think the heart knows only what it wants and has no concept of self-preservation or im/possibility. I think that's what keeps us young. Of course, what is adulthood if not the responsibility of doing what's best rather than what's fun? Anyway, I know these are hardly groundbreaking thoughts, but what else is new (see blog title)?

--You know what word I really struggle with? "Inquiry." I can't pronounce it correctly in a casual flow. Unless I want to give up and start saying (ink-wary), I have to stop, stretch out the mouth muscles a little and really focus to say (in-kwer-E). Try it, maybe it's just me.

--Here we are on Christmas Eve Eve and I just barely finished my shopping this afternoon. This was a very rough year for gift-giving and shopping. If it's the thought that counts, I should be allowed to submit a 500-page neurotic manifesto documenting all the mental and emotional strife I put myself through to find the right gifts. And I'm not even sure I did all that well. Better than most years at least, so it's not all for not.

--Got the Annual Freeze-Your-Ass-Off-One-Night-Post-Christmas-Pre-New Years Camping Trip coming up in a few days. Got some new members in the club this year. I am predicting one of the all-time great trips. That's assuming no one gets accidentally shot at the firing range prior to reaching the camp site.

--After that, going up to a cabin in Arrowhead for a couple days and, man oh man, I cannot wait for that. I am going to pour myself a tall drink, sit down in a big armchair with about 3 books and 7 magazines and I am going to read for a solid three to four hours.

(2.5 hours later)

--Just got home from seeing "Juno." Really enjoyed it. Funny, smart, heartwarming flick. It's one of those movies that makes me feel good about life in general, even in the presence of the inevitable shitstorms. If I were an ultra-conservative nutjob, I might worry that it romanticizes teen pregnancy, but, thankfully, I'm not. It's one of those movies that makes me want to come home, put on a classic album really loud, and just lay there and listen to it. Unfortunately, it's too late to do the loud part but I am making do. It's not the quality of the music in the movie that does it, but the volume of it, and the scenes where they talk passionately about music don't hurt much either in that respect. Anyway, it's a great movie.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Decking the Halls, Sweet Baby James, and The Biggest Loser

I'm not sure it's realistically possible to have a greater night, friends.

I got home, cracked open a seasonal Sam Adams and got to work on supper. While it cooked, Nicole arrived and we trimmed what could very well be the finest Christmas tree I have ever had. Upon finishing, we dined on roasted pork tenderloin and sweet potatoes a la John/King. When she left, I popped in the James Taylor "One Man Band" dvd and wrote out some Thank You cards. To me, that's just a damn fine evening.

Speaking of the JT dvd...This was the first time I have watched it and, man, it really captures the magic of the "One Man Band" show I saw and described here almost a year ago. The theatre where they shot it was probably a quarter the size of where I saw the show so the intimacy of it was almost greater than the live show for me. I think the music that touches us most is the music that makes us feel most like ourselves. For me, nobody does that like James Taylor. Listening to his music makes me feel like coming home after being gone for years, maybe not even realizing that I had been away. I'm not kidding when I say it fills me with a love of life, a sentimental spirit, and a sense of being whole. What's more, it occurred to me as I watched the show that there are people in this life that I have never met and are not likely to ever meet, yet with whom I feel a sort of kindred kinship with. Remember in the movie "Collateral" when the coyote crosses in front of Tom Cruise's cab and he and the coyote share that look where you see they have something in common on a very fundamental level? It's like that. Does this make me a stalker? I don't think so, but it might be close, I guess. Could be the wine talking too. Probably a combination of the two.

I forgot to mention my rant on "The Biggest Loser." Ya know, you don't have to be an artsy-fartsy, holier-than-thou TV critic to scoff at reality television. A lot of people do it. I was thinking tonight though that there is a sincerity and a poignancy some of these shows that is very real and very honest in a way that fictional programming never could be because it's, well, fictional. Are the tender moments I speak of exploited by producers, manipulated by editors, and sensationalized by composers? Absofrigginlutely. But you can't deny the earnest sincerity in the actual moment, aside from the score, the camera angle or any of that shit. It can be quite touching, I tell ya. I will concede that these people crying on camera in these very tender moments are possibly, okay likely, crying because they know they're on camera--much like my inability to make any sort of public address without a flood of tears. But I'm just saying...

That being said, even in the most seemingly benevolent of shows, there is often that seedy, scuzzy underbelly that makes people turn up their noses at reality television, often rightly so. For instance, tonight I saw "The Biggest Loser" for the first time. Now here is a show that does something really great for Americans, if not humanity as a whole, helping people to take control of their lives and seek out a healthier existence. What's not to like, right? Well, I was with them until the final segment where the weight losses among the contestants have all been tallied up and two people find themselves "below the yellow line" on the brink of elimination. The contestants that have already clinched their advance then vote on which of the two below-the-line people will be eliminated. And this is where they lost me. The guy that got the ax tonight had lost 10 pounds in one week, more than any other contestant (they rank based on percentage of weight lost--a crock in itself). When push came to shove, the other contestants voted to eliminate him because a) he stood the biggest threat to them winning the game and the 250K and b) there was some sort of grudge against him being carried from the past. What a bassackwards, warped crock of shit. In a show like this that seems like it should be about the greater good of all involved, both in the show and watching it at home, the producers instead choose to formulate this "game" like "Survivor" where the most important thing at the end of the day is winning the big bowl of cash, celebrating whatever cutthroat soul-less tactics it takes to accomplish that goal. Why are these people competing for cash in the first place? Doesn't that seem a little weird to have these people losing an incredible amount of weight and, thus, making drastic wholesale improvements to their lives and then celebrating their hard earned victory by receiving a fat check? Seriously.....Huh? What does money have to do with weight loss and deciding to take control of one's life in a positive way? Which is supposed to be the greater prize, the cold hard cash or the happiness that comes with self-confidence? The fact that there is a cash prize in a game such as this is a sick, sad reflection of the times we are living in, in my opinion. Shouldn't some things be about more than money if for no better reason than to prove that there are things more important than money?

Backtracking a bit, it offends me that the contestants vote someone off at all. I understand the need for the yellow line; it's what makes this a game and I'm fine with that, but, given what's at stake--and I don't mean the fucking cash, shouldn't all the contestants be rooting FOR each other to succeed rather than calculating some chickenshit, cunning strategy to "win" the game? The first guy to reveal his vote for who was to be eliminated tonight actually said he was voting for Neil to cut because he thought Neil was the most likely to come back and win it all. Yeah, we sure don't want that happening! We don't want anyone else to lose more weight than we do and win the game because winning is more important than anything and, Lord knows, we don't have enough confidence in ourselves to win fair and square! Jesus Christ, people! GREED IS NOT GOOD (no offense, Mr. Stone)!!! Why are they even voting to eliminate someone anyway? Shouldn't they be voting on who most deserves to stay? Neil lost more fucking weight than any of you and you send him home! NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!

That's it, I'm taking this to the streets. Who's with me?! Meet me at the corner of Ventura and Coldwater, weapons in hand!

So yeah, all in all, a great night.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Baby's First Turkey (In Pictures)

Apparently, there is a difference. I was quite pleased to learn that all of the vital organs and neck would be conveniently bagged for my easy removal. I was not looking forward to feeling around in there, just hoping I got everything.

And into the anal(?) cavity we plunge!

Look Mom, gizzards! Save the neck for me, Clark.

It's its poor little heart. Truly, if I had not mentally prepared myself for this process, I might have been mildly traumatized.

Once it's all cleaned, ya gotta brine the son of a bitch! I had never heard of this, but apparently by submerging the bird in a marinade of sorts, ya lock in the flavor and, most importantly, the moisture. No one likes a dry turkey.

To make a long story short, a couple hours of roasting later and BING! you have a turkey! I didn't know about the whole upside down thing until the last minute, but I think it was a great save. All in all, my first Thanksgiving turkey was a rousing success, a succulent, delicious foundation upon which my roasting prowess can only build upwards from here. To infinity and beyond! Culinarily speaking, of course.

Who knew?

I love Christmas shopping...if I know what I want to get people and feel confident about it. To aimlessly wander the mall weekend after weekend mumbling "would they like a sweater? Who wouldn't like a sweater? Have I ever seen them wear a sweater? Maybe they would wear one if they had one like this! Fuck it, I can't decide."--it's maddening.

Take my dad for instance. I know he wants "The Bourne Ultimatum" on DVD because he's been saying so every time I talk to him for the last two months. But in terms of a complimentary gift, I am completely lost. I was until last night anyway. We went out for Taco Wednesday and it became glaringly obvious that he needs a case for his iphone (he's not a blog reader so I can say this). Boom. Done and done. All I had to do was spend a little time with the person and the gift options flowed like wine, my friends.

If only I could do this for everyone, my anxiety would be solved.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Can't Nobody Break My Stride, Can't Nobody Hold Me Down


Ya know, I'm starting to get the feeling that my boss loathes me and, specifically, my Christmas spirit. But ya know what? Christmas Spirit is all I got right now! I'm running on the pine-scented fumes of good tidings for you and your motherfuckin' kin! I am undeterred, steadfast in my holiday resolve.

Monday, November 19, 2007

TURKEY WATCH 2007

There she is, folks. Twelve-point-nine pounds of Butterball beauty, baby! This photo represents Step One: Defrost the Son of a Bitch. I will now give this bird three full days to defrost in the jovial company of these fine American craft brews. Then, I aim to roast it.

Thanksgiving is imminent, my friends!

I realize I am a little late to the party on this but still....

--How good is "30 Rock?" It's just a very smart, very funny show and Tina Fey is one of the sexier women on television. Yeah, I said it! What?

--Sweatpants, not fleece, not some hi-tech microfiber, not pajama pants, but just good old-fashioned honest-to-goodness sweatpants, are the most comfortable thing in the universe. I recently got a pair at Target for, I think, six dollars and, friends, let me tell you, I'm gonna need a really compelling reason to ever take them off again. (wow, count the commas!)

--Fog. The obvious appeal is the romantic mystery of it all and why not? Does it ruin a windshield and make for very dangerous driving conditions? Okay, but you know what else fog has brought us? Lighthouses, folks. Who's gonna argue with lighthouses? I am thoroughly enjoying this sort of tidal pattern of fog we've been having the past few days and I can only hope it continues through Turkey Day.

--Mulled wine, man. As if wine weren't good enough on its own. Now you go and spice it up and give it the appeal of a holiday seasonal delight? Well, you sold me, pal.

--Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Now this one is not really my fault seeing as how Dunkin' Donuts does not exist in the greater Los Angeles area. Even in my New York years though, I did not catch on to this wonderful joe. They now sell it at my local Ralph's and, sweet Lord, it is some delectable coffee. It was worth the wait. Despite my following the brewing instructions explicitly, I am sure it still tastes better at a Dunkin' Donuts. However, I am also quite certain that the combo of home-brewed D.D. coffee and a true California mom-and-pop donut would far outweigh D.D.-brewed coffee and those pathetic things they refer to as "donuts." So I win!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Maybe it's just me

Can someone please explain The Trans-Siberian Orchestra to me please? I just don't get it.

The Tools


We're counting down to Turkey Time, folks. In a segment called "Baby's First Turkey," I intend to provide comprehensive coverage of my quest to complete one of the American man's most essential functions, the rite of passage known as Thanksgiving turkey roasting. Our coverage begins eight days from today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's gone too far...

I realize that the tedium of complaining about media and society's ridiculous obsession with celebrities is almost as agonizing as the obsession itself...BUT(!) I saw a "headline" on the front page of CNN.com just now that is so laughable, I would have thought it came from The Onion.

"Did Britney run a red light?"

I shit you not. This is our news.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Christmas Lite

Dear Friends,

I regret to inform you that the very tenuous, uncertain nature of my employment this holiday season will not allow me to shower you with the lavish gifts I would like to. Please, read nothing into it. I still love you and will do my best to give you whatever I can, but with unemployment looming, I'm afraid it's going to be a very lean Christmas.

Sincerely,

Me

Friday, November 09, 2007

(YAAAAAWN)

I couldn't get to sleep last night. And I was really tired. I laid there for two hours unable to shut down my brain. What's more, I had just watched an episode of "The Office" before turning in so every single thought I had would be inescapably followed by my own personal episode in my head starring me in the Steve Carrell role. For example...

Thought: I can't sleep, damnit.

Immediately followed by...

INTERVIEW - PAM: You can always tell when John didn't sleep the night before. You don't see or hear from him very much on those days. He gets very very quiet and sort of stays in his office all day...I really like it when John hasn't slept.

INTERVIEW - JOHN: Yes, I did have a little trouble getting to sleep last night. I was up really late working on some things...

CUT TO (FLASHBACK): John, at home, standing outside a closed bathroom door.

JOHN: Jan. Honey. Open the door please....I don't love you for your giants boobs. I mean, of course I do, but I love you for all your parts, the giants ones and the less...massive ones. Come on Jan, you've been in there for five hours, don't you think it might be time to come out?....I'll give you a foot massage if you just open the door...

The door opens slightly and Jan's foot creeps out into the hall. Just her foot. Up to the calf.

INTERVIEW - JOHN: But one of the responsibilities that come with being a good manager is never letting your employees see you sweat. Or sleep. Be...cause if you do then you're opening a whole can of worms...and the next thing you know, those same monkeys are running the insane asylum.

CUT TO: John enters the office for the day and appears to be sleepwalking. His eyes are practically closed, he slowly glides to his office, head down, saying nothing to anyone as he passes by. The room goes silent as everyone stops working, observes this Zombie John. His office door slams behind him and through his glass wall, we can all see him fall flat and hard onto the couch. Inside John's office, Dwight Shrute appears from behind a large plant. He takes off his suit jacket, lays it across John like a blanket. In perfect synch, the rest of the office goes back to work.

CUE MAIN TITLE MUSIC.

Something like that...after every single thought. Maddening.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Viva Segregation!

So you know how much I cherish Target. It's not just a shopping trip; it's an event to put on the calendar and look forward to. It's the place where you find literally everything you need and most of what you didn't know you needed but absolutely must have.

While it is not as widely known, I also care for Starbucks a great deal. Sure, some whackos might bemoan the bastardization of the local coffeehouse and bla bla bla, but I say they've popularized the coffeehouse, bringing good coffee and, yeah I said it, arts to places where it wouldn't otherwise be. But I digress...my point was supposed to be that I love Starbucks.

However, just because two things might be wonderful independently, that is NOT license to start combining them. That's right, last night at the Culver City Target I was witness to an abomination, Starbucks inside of Target. You had your sumptuous smell of fresh Target popcorn and juicy hot dogs sweatin' on the roller smashed right up against your triple grande non-fat sugar-free hazelnut latte and pan au chocolat! Inappropriate! It's an outrage I tell you! What's next, Lawry's Prime Rib with a White Castle annex next to the coat room?!

It's just wrong.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

This casino brought to you by Requip

So I'm watching a couple minutes of TV this morning...You know, to find out whether my morning commute will be just average shitty or make-you-want-to-move-to-Montana shitty...Anyway, this ad comes on, one of these commercials for a new prescription medication. "Ask your doctor about," etc. This one in particular was for a new RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) drug called Requip. Of course, with any of these ads, you expect to hear about some horrific side effects that usually sound worse than the affliction the drug is intended to cure, but in the case of Requip one stood out to me as particularly unusual. See if you pick up on it too.


Important Safety Information: Prescription Requip is not for everyone. Requip Tablets may cause you to fall asleep or feel very sleepy during normal activities such as driving; or to faint or feel dizzy, nauseated, or sweaty when you stand up. Tell your doctor if you experience these problems or if you drink alcohol or are taking other medicines that make you drowsy. Also tell your doctor if you experience new or increased gambling, sexual, or other intense urges while taking Requip. Side effects include nausea, drowsiness, vomiting, and dizziness.

"New or increased gambling...urges?" What the fuck? Has anyone ever heard of this "symptom" before? How does any substance inspire a person to gamble? Is there any specifics to his chemically induced urge? Does it compel you to just sit down at the first blackjack table you come across or perhaps play the ponies? I'd bet dollars to donuts that casino owners are racing to find a way to produce this Requip in an aerosole form. Once that breakthrough occurs and they start pumping Requip-ed oxygen into their casinos, forget about it. The House wins again.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do



I really never thought it would come to this. It seems surreal. Despite all the writing on the wall, I still held an innate hope, I guess. My head could see it coming, but my heart would never believe it. Now it appears almost imminent and there is a sadness hanging just off in the horizon like an ominous, mysterious fog threatening to envelope the town.

Kobe is going to be traded.

I've been through a couple of difficult breakups in my time and while I won't be so melodramatic as to directly compare the weight of those situations to what ultimately amounts to a cheap soap opera with insanely rich players, I do feel like there are similar types of emotions at stake here. Reflecting back to the days when Lakers' championship parades through Los Angeles seemed as regular as traffic jams and wildfires, when the preeminent images of Lakerdom were Shaq whooping up the court after alley-ooping the Trailblazers or Kobe leaping into The Diesel's arms as confetti rained down around them, it's difficult to comprehend that we've come this far. Today we somehow find ourselves a franchise and a fandom exhausted after our first game of the season. We're dazed and unsure of who we are anymore or where we're going. We look for something to lean on, but find ourselves standing in a house built of ashes where the slightest touch to a single wall could bring the entire structure collapsing on top of us. This course we're on, to trade the legend of Kobe Bryant for a new collection of neophytes, seems now to be inevitable. Inescapable, yet still senseless and disorienting. Like a breakup, blame can be easily thrown about at the moment of separation with much of it being valid, but the true, meaningful understanding of just what exactly went wrong and how each person involved is responsible will only come with the crawl of time and the settlement of maturation.

In this early stage, emotions are powerful, raw, and vague. Tonight I feel angry. Is it because I as a fan have vigorously defended Kobe all these years only to be selfishly abandoned? Is it because the Laker organization stood loyally next to Kobe through criminal charges of rape only to be labeled liars and incompetents? Or is it that in Kobe's threats to veto any trade including Luol Deng for sake of leaving Chicago with an opportune wingman, he is subsequently ensuring that our Lakers will be left in as bad of shape on the court as we are now off it. Perhaps it's all or none of the above. As of now, the only thing we can count on is uncertainty and inconsistency. Tonight's bitterness may preclude tomorrow's peace of mind. Tomorrow's excitement for a new and better life may only give way to a crippling obsession with our past and a fossilized sense of identity.

As long as our hearts' fate is held in the balance by this volatile mix of pride, pain, and this facade of "business," we just can't know.

Reason Number 5,987 to Hate Jonathan Papelbon

That's right folks, that's the poster boy for Red Sox Nation, a cocky-as-shit 20-something punk pouring beer all over the American League Championship Trophy. Classy, no? What an utter disgrace to the game and to the league. Where were you on this one, Peter Gammons?

I swear, this fuckin' kid is due for a beating like no one I have ever seen.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Calling all first year psych students....

My dream last night:

I went to my ten-year high school reunion. It was held in a high school gym and it was mostly empty. We started playing softball right there in the gym. For some reason, I chose to play with my shirt off. I guess that shouldn't come as a surprise as it is widely known that I play better half-naked. Still, it wasn't like a Top-Gun-Kenny-Loggins-Playing-With-The-Boys type of a thing, I was just shirtless. Then I realized that I was overdue for a back waxing. I went back to my bag (By the way, I had a gym bag with me at the reunion for some reason) to get a shirt. Some unidentified person was there helping me pick out a t-shirt. I put one on and the fit was just not right. It wasn't too big or too small, it was just an awkward fit that didn't look or feel right. I went back to the bag and discovered the bag I was rooting through was not mine. I was wearing someone else's shirt. I went to my bag and found that, while it contained other clothes, there were no shirts to be found in it. And then the whole event was pretty much over. Most of the few people that were there had gone. As I walked out, there was a twenty-year reunion going on in an adhacent gym and that thing was packed with dancing revelers. Go figure.

Let the psychoanalysis begin!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have decided I am going to cook my own turkey this year. I will still attend the family Thanksgiving dinner, of course, but prior to that I am going to cook my own bird at home. It's good practice, I think. Plus, as the fam has grown steadily over the years, I never end up with enough leftover turkey. Also, I would like to fill my own home with the smell of roasting fowl!

My recent struggles to get to the gym on time have been the result of not being able to get out of bed which was caused by exhaustion. This week, I have woken up ready to rock, but laid in bed anyway and still gotten in late despite not being the least bit tired. At this point, I blame the commute and the lack of a gym partner. Big ups to Conrad.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

House Arrest

I rarely get to bed before midnight during the week. For me, it's not about being a night owl, it's about enjoying my time at home so much that I just can't bring myself to willingly close the book on it for the day. There's so much to do. Cooking, wine of course, a little laundry, some music, TV, books, maybe a good movie...if all else fails, writing asinine thoughts on a blog.

I could never handle life in The Big House. Andy Dufresne, I am not. But if I was ever convicted of a crime and was sentenced to house arrest? I'd be lovin' life, baby! Woooooo!

If anyone has any experience in criminal justice and can recommend a specific crime I could commit to where the most likely repercussion would be house arrest, I won't not listen, friend.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Random Thoughts (As Opposed To Deep Ones)

--Decided to make a dent in the many movies in current release I want to see...Of all the interesting options, managed to select two duds, "Michael Clayton" and "The Darjeeling Limited." Not to mention "Lantana" via Netflix Friday night. Why do I always happen upon good or bad movies in streaks?

--Bill "The Rock" Stoneman is stepping aside as Angels GM. Very interesting. We'll see if this new fella can do what Bill never could (fairly or unfairly), get us a power bat to protect Vlad.

--Don't ya just hate it when your DVR gets its programming mixed up? I have "Mad About You" (Lifetime reruns) set as a series recording but the last 5 episodes have actually turned out to be "The Andy Griffith Show" which is not the same.

--Speaking of DVR/TV, is anyone else watching "Damages?" It's fuckin' awesome!

I, Coward

So here's how big of a wuss I am...

I'm at the movies Saturday night. I walk in and the only people in the theatre (I like the Brits' spelling better, okay?) are these two women. I take my seat. A few moments later, the two women ask me if I wouldn't mind saving their seats for them for a few minutes. Because I am an inherently courteous person, I instinctively reply "Sure." As soon as they left, I knew I had made a mistake. The tension in the air was as dense as coastal fog. I was almost praying that they would hurry up and come back before anyone else entered the theatre, much less went for their seats. Once again, the universe made me the butt of one of its many jokes and compelled a young couple to stroll in and take the exact two seats the women had entrusted me with protecting.

So what did I do you ask?

I didn't say a word. I couldn't. What was I supposed to say? "Excuse me, two women asked me to save these seats for them?" Not a chance! It's awkward if not unbelievable. I'm not one for self-description, but, come on, I am nothing if not acutely attuned to awkwardness. Am I wrong? Anyway, so here these people are sitting in the seats I am sworn to guard. I can't say something to them, but I also can't just sit there and do nothing and bear their disappointment when they return to find their seats snatched away from them.

So what DID I do?

I went to the bathroom even though I didn't need to, hoping that they would come back whilst I was away, conclude that I had needs of my own and that they took too long doing whatever they were doing and that my own bladder control may have been stretched to the limits by their insistence on doing everything together. Pretty chickenshit on my part, isn't it?

Well, it worked and it didn't. I came back from carefully washing my hands and found the two girls had indeed reentered and been forced to find new seats. However, I would not escape so easily from their jeering and scorn. They jokingly prodded me with comments along the lines of "Thanks a lot" and "Your're fired." I feigned innocent surprise and went back to my seat, which was being guarded by a braver soul than I.

What kind of a man am I? On second thought, don't answer that.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

4-0

So that happened. Fuck. Me.

Game 1, 3:30 Pacific


"If you Willits, it is no dream."
-- V.I. Lenin


In Vlad, We Trust.

Playoffs start today, friends. I want to win this series so bad I can feel it pinching in my stomach like bad gas pains. Aside from the obvious benefit of having my boys advance, I would be remiss if I did not admit that part of my craving for victory in the ALDS is a thirst to beat Boston in particular, a reflection on their Masshole fans. By now, everyone's heard my gripes about Boston fans so I won't regergitate it here today. I'll just quote two other sources' hilariously apt descriptions of everything I hate about "Red Sox Nation."

Angels blogger Matt Welch had this to say this morning on Halos Heaven:

"...the most narcissistic fans on Earth. The sociopathic alcoholic white supremacists in the stands will take any Angel scoring personally and pout, thus taking 90 percent of the crowd out of the game."

The sportspickle.com article that says it all.


If you told me I had a choice between A) the Angels winning this series or B) a check being handed to me for X number of dollars, I am not sure how much money would have to be on that check to make it worth an Angels loss. Ten grand wouldn't do it. Twenty grand wouldn't do it. I think at 60K I would have to start really thinking about it, but even then, I am still not sure.

Enough negativity. It's Game Day.

GO HALOS!!!!




Monday, September 24, 2007

Bud Light

The Official Celebratory Beer of the 2007 AL West Champs.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Screw you, "Worldwide Leader"

I know I am stating the obvious here, but ESPN really is ridiculously slanted towards the Yankees and Red Sox, so much so that they might want to think about renaming the network The Yanks-Red Sox Network(YRSN). By now, this is common knowledge, but last night was a shining example of their favoritism. The Angels-Mariners game featured the team with the best record in baseball clinching at least a tie for their division title AND a benches clearing incident when the Mariners threw at All-Star slugger Vladimir Guerrero's head. If this had been Yanks-Sox with ARod, Jeter, or Clemens involved, this would have been the top story of Sportscenter. They would have rewound and replayed the footage more than the Zapruder film. Since it was only the Angels and Mariners, however, it was about the 8th story in and was covered with a distinctly ho-hum ambivalence. At the close of the show, the two anchors actually went so far as to say "It just feels like a different night in sports when the Red Sox and Yankees aren't playing." Gag me....Fuck. You. East Coast bullshit.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Power Of The Pen!

Seven days ago on this very blog I called for some Fall weather since it was, ya know, Fall. What do we have this week? Sub 70-degree temperatures with rain on the way! Hooha! I am cold right now and loving every minute of it! Two sweaters and two jackets this week! Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Thinking Out Loud

People complain about Los Angeles being "fake" and superficial. Surely you've heard this, if not said it yourself. I know I have at some point. But I would argue that LA is also the strongest example of a melting pot, transplant city meaning that a huge percentage of the population has moved here from somewhere else. I have no census data to back that up, but think about how many people you know or meet that are from another city or state versus those you know that are actually from here. So my point is that all these people from out of state bitch about LA being fake, but they're the ones that comprise this city more than the natives. Could it be that they carry in this pre-conceived notion of what it means to be an Angeleno when they move here and subconsciously perpetuate the stereotype themselves in their behavior and lifestyle? Makes sense to me. I think you have all these transplants moving in and in trying to blend in and do as the Romans do, they are the ones creating these characteristics of the city that they so love to criticize it for. Would this fakeness be there anyway, without them furthering it? I'm sure it would to some degree. I don't think it takes a sociologist to figure out that much of this subjective fakeness revolves around the entertainment industry, which is inherently fake in that it's almost by definition fiction. But still, it wouldn't be nearly as bad.

So what am I saying...I guess my ultimate point is, don't get on your soapbox and moan about LA being fake while taking a break from your job in reality television, sitting at The Grove in your designer jeans and sunglasses, sipping a mojito with your cell phone permanently attached to your head. It strikes at your credibility.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rhetorical Question Wednesday

--Has Dave Matthews ever performed a concert he didn't release as a live CD?

--If Britney Spears farts and it's not reported as an international incident, does it still make a sound?

Submit your own!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tuesday Morning Blabber

--Got myself a couple of pumpkin spice candles last night. We're in business, baby!

--Also purchased one helluva great cd. It's called "Emotionalism" by The Avett Brothers. It's a bluegrass/rock/country/punk tour de force, I tell you! One of the best albums I have heard this year. Hmmm.....I think I might get working on a Best of 2007 post for the holidays.

--Raise your hand if you think I should grow my mustache back.

--Have you heard about this AFI 40th Anniversary event at The Arclight? They're screening eleven classic movies, all at the same time (different screens) with each film being introduced by one of the actors/director. "The Shawshank Redemption" introduced by Morgan Freeman! "Star Wars" introduced by George Lucas! "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Jack Friggin' Nicholson! And--wait for it......................Billy Crystal and Rob Reiner introducing "When Harry Met Sally!" SIGN. ME. UP. It's incredible once-in-a-lifetime events like this (and USC football/Angels baseball) that make it tough to imagine actually moving out of Souther California, despite everything else compelling me to go.

Things I am craving:

McDonald's Two Cheeseburger Meal with Hi-C Orange
Rain
Pumpkin Pie
A long drive on an open road, preferably through some autumn foliage
A day to do nothing
Mulled wine
Sweats
Disneyland

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Annual Where-Is-The-Fall-Weather Post!

You know how they say that living in Seattle or London or anyplace where it's cloudy and grey more often than it's sunny supposedly has a depressing effect on the people that live there? I'm not saying it's true, but you've heard people say that before, right? Okay then.

My contention is that living in constant, mercilessly sunny southern California can have the same effect, especially this time of year. It's fucking Fall, folks. Where's the football weather? Where's the wind? How 'bout some rain? Would a cloud be too much to ask for? C'mon, give me three days of sub-80 highs, for the love of Pete. When you're still wearing shorts and a t-shirt on Christmas Day, I'm saying it can be just as disheartening as a dreary day in foggy Londontown.

But I shall not be deterred by this fascist temperate meteorological regime. No sir, it's autumn, dammit and I intend to live as such! Last night, I turned off my A/C, had a delicious meal of butternut squash soup, herb roasted chicken, and spinach. My apartment smelled like Thanksgiving morning and I achieved this without even the aid of a Yankee Candle!! I am closing in on an historic cardigan purchase. Bout to bust out the cords, sucka. Whatchoo know about that, whatchoo know about that? Autumn or bust!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I came home last night to a kitchen overrun by flies. There had to be twenty of them. I had no fly swatter because where do you buy one of those things these days? I went to war armed only with my hunter's spirit and a rolled-up fantasy football guidebook. It was difficult because I could only take my shots when they landed and many of them were too cunning to do so. They swirled around me like a swarm of WWI flying aces. I could hear their little engines whining. I think I saw Snoopy on board one of them. I was outnumbered, but I remained steadfast in my resolve. You know how I beat 'em? One. By. One.

Wooooooooooo!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An Important Day

Aside from the obvious which needn't even be mentioned, today is a day of great opportunity and defining choice. You know what I'm talking about. Kanye vs. 50. The Showdown. Both albums "drop" today, folks. The line has been drawn. On whose side do you stand?

Normally, I wouldn't give a crap. I have the first two Kanye albums but I didn't pay for either of them(Thanks, Conrad). However, given Curtis Jackson's statement that he'll retire if Kanye out-sells him, I might be cashing in my Best Buy gift card to put 'ol 50-Cent out of commission. Kind of a dumb thing to say when you think about it, his proclamation. It's only served to mobilize me against him, hoping to make him stick to his guns...no pun intended.

BUY KANYE! RETIRE FIFTY! (say it with me) BUY KANYE! RETIRE FIFTY!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Case of The Perpetual Mondays




My grandfather was a firefighter in the Long Beach Fire Department for, I'm guessing, at least twenty years. On weekends, he had a side business installing and repairing doors.

I've never actually asked him, but I would be willing to bet his motivation for working these jobs was not his love of fire and risking his life for strangers nor was it a fascination with hinges and functional rectangles made of wood. I'm pretty sure it was because he had a wife and five kids to take care of and he needed the money. And you know, that was just fine.

How did our generation ever get so hypnotized by the romantic fantasy of "loving your job?" The phenomenon is not a myth, of course. There will always be a charmed minority who whistle while they work and can't truly ever understand what it's like for the rest of us. But when did that experience become the idealized standard for the American working man? Did we all just watch too many movies growing up? Is that what ingrained this notion that our jobs not just could be, but should be about anything more than bringing home the bacon? It is a debilitating, heartbreaking, enslaving concept.

Sorry, I shouldn't act like I speak for anyone but myself. I'm thinking I might be on the verge of a pre-midlife crisis. I feel like if I don't make a change in the very near future, I might literally go crazy.

Does anybody remember the movie, "Joe Versus The Volcano?" It was not a great movie, but the opening sequence portraying the title character (Joe, not The Volcano) entering his job like a mindless cog in a human assembly line. It reminds me of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," which is odd since I barely remember seeing that movie. Anyway, that opening scene in "Joe" really represents the sinking, doomed, damned feeling I get every night before I have to go to work and every morning that I have to walk in there. And you think I am being overly dramatic.

Every night is like the last night of summer, knowing that tomorrow another dreaded school year begins. I'm talking about elementary school when there wasn't socializing to look forward to, only teasing and lunch in the cafeteria. Anyway, it's like that only I don't have the comfort of a fixed and definite term that I know I just have to get through. Like Melvin Udall says, "What if this is as good as it gets?"

The scariest part of the whole thing, to me, is that I know I have felt this exact way before. It seems like the tension is building to some sort of climax now, but I am fairly certain I could comb the archives of this very blog and find an entry quite similar to this one where I whine about the same thing, probably even using the same references. So while a friend would say, "Hang in there, it's only temporary," I would have to reply, Okay, but that doesn't mean I'll ever get past it, just that I might forget about it for a little while before coming right back to where I started.

I was talking with my boss recently about how she always thought she would be doing something more creative, how she's not really interested in accounting, how she used to be a writer. I, of course, thought it sounded strangely familiar. I asked her "How do you do it then? Why do you go through it all if you're not interested?" She said, "Well, I have a house and I have a car that I paid for in cash..."

Maybe she's right. I just wish I could feel that way too. No, I don't. Fuck.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

So where was I?

Congratulations, Mr. Frodo!! Your leg is finally your own!! That's right folks, over the course of the last two checks, I have finally paid off my friggin' credit card! Sweet relief!

So I have not "blogged" in quite some time...To my knowledge, only one person had noticed, but still, it's like visiting with a friend I haven't seen in a long time. Feels like there is much to catch up on...which is kind of a sick thing when you think about it....having to catch up with a keyboard and an infinite space (the internet) that doesn't talk back. And yet.

There are two reasons for my lapse in regular blogging (why do all new words seem to be the product of pop culture and/or technology?): 1) the new job has really picked up in the busyness department and I have truly not had the spare time at work to get anything in and 2) I have been working feverishly on my screenplay.

I am proud to announce that as of Monday evenin' I am officially.......DONE!! DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE!!! COMPLETE!! As pretentious film students usually say, FIN!!!! Obviously, I realize that finishing a rough first draft is far from actually being done per se and that I have a long stretch of revising ahead of me, but still, at this particular moment in time and probably for the rest of the week, I am really just happy and proud to have accomplished something. I'll worry about whether it's worth a shit later.

To those of my friends whom I have sent copies for review, please, do not hesitate to burst my bubble of satisfaction. A couple of days is all I need before I am ready to face facts. For someone so sensitive about most everything else, I feel like I can honestly say that I welcome your criticism, even if it is so harsh as to say "Dude, you really spent the last six months of your life on this? Really?" I take no shame in sucking so long as I understand why I suck.

While we're on the subject of movies....I think I have said it to literally every person I have talked to in the past two months, but I will say it once (more) and for all...."Live Free Or Die Hard" is the best movie of the summer. Fuck "Transformers," screw "Bourne Ultimatum," and I am a huge fan of that franchise, "Die Hard 4" was the most satisfying movie I have seen this blockbuster season.

Does anyone listen to hip hop/rap anymore? By "anyone," I mean people I know. I know Joe does, but he actually likes that horseshit they peddle out and try to pass off as rap music nowadays. Anywho, if anyone does still have any inkling for rap/hip-hop, "Atlantis Hymns For Disco" by K-OS (Chaos) is one of the best albums I have heard in a while. Meaningful lyrics AND catchy beats?! Who knew you could do that without referencing bitches, fucking, fucking bitches, bling, bitches and bling, or just straight up murder?!

I can't stop listening to Wilco's latest, "Sky Blue Sky." Just smashing, I tell ya.

Lima beans are really an underrated and under-used vegetable. Seriously, what did they ever do to get blacklisted from the American consciousness? All they've ever done is be delicious and good for us! I blame Punky Brewster for creating this propaganda machine, this Cold War against lima beans. Clearly, the most powerful woman to ever wear mismatched socks and get a breast reduction.

This week marks the start of not one, but two new softball seasons for me. I got a Thursday night Burbank Mens' league and the Saturday Primetime League. I'm like Conrad, minus the skills and the national championship on my resume. Heyohhhhhh!

So you know Seth from karaoke, the guy that sings very well, but is waaaaay too full of himself and has been singing the same song for as long as I've been going.....So he usually does this song with the legendary karaoke DJ, Frankie Dee. Well last time we went, Frankie was under the weather and unable to sing. So what did Seth say to this when Frankie broke the bad news to him? "Ah screw it, I'll do it anyway." Gotta give the people what they want, right Rock Star? Know what he said when he got up there? "This song's only going to be half as good tonight because we can't have Frankie Dee on those sweet harmonies." And the motherfucker was serious. Of course, it goes without saying that he tossed out his signature line that will be the crux of my insanity defense when I impale him with a microphone someday....Oh yeah, "Sing along if you know it." Ya know, I would hate Seth a lot more if I didn't feel so sorry for the guy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Whatever gets you through the day

I have decided that for the rest of the day this Arnold Schwarzenegger soundboard will be my only mode of communication. Call me if you don't believe me.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Seven Fifty Whatever

So Bonds finally did it. Whoopadeedoo! The legitimacy of his record in regards to his suspected steroid use is debateable. I just think he's a fuckin' asshole. I dislike him because of his reputation as a bad teammate and his lack of sportsmanship on the field. Let's compare Bonds reaction to hitting HRs 755 and 756 to Hank Aaron's behavior after his record HR.

Aaron (runs out of the box)

Bonds 755 (stands there in awe of himself)

Bonds 756 (stands in awe, raises arms to the sky--it was a go-ahead HR by the way, not that he cared)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Latest Thing To Bug The Shit Out Of Me

When people overly and inappropriately use the word "actually." Listen for it. People do it all the time.

Example:

"Howard, where do you live?"

"Me? I actually live in Los Angeles."

Why "actually?" Did I imply that you lived elsewhere? It's a verbal crutch right up there with "uh" and "um!"

Monday, July 30, 2007

Back

It's been so long, I feel my blogging will be rather rusty, as if there is some sort of skill involved in essentially thinking out loud.

--Is there a greater crime in this life than failing to secure the lid on a bin of Red Vines? I think not.

--Remember the movie "Encino Man?" I haven't seen it in years but does anybody else feel like the Encino depicted in that movie was totally unrealistic? Didn't they make it look a lot more similar to someplace like Agoura Hills or Mission Viejo rather than the happenin' city on Ventura Blvd. that I now know Encino to be? I might have to revisit this movie to see what's going on here.

--If there is one benefit of going from having my own office to sharing one with two other people, it's that this new environment makes it very difficult for me to pick my nose during the day, which, admittedly, had become a chronic problem.

--I barely left the house this weekend. It was great. Ahh, the pleasures of hermitage.

--If you've been following the Michael Vick story, you've probably scene the periferal story about the throngs that have been gathering outside the courthouse. This morning I was watching the news and they showed hords of people wearing Vick jerseys, holding up signs that say "We love Michael Vick" and things to that effect. I understand standing up for due process, but I really don't get blind support for a man accused of something so heinous. If you're preaching "innocent until proven guilty," hey, I'm right there with you, but if you're supporting the actual defendant himself, I just don't get it. How stupid are you going to feel if he's found guilty? What compels you to spend your time blindly supporting someone you don't know and have no reason to believe is innocent?

Well that's all I've got for now. I've gotta ease back into this. Please, be patient with me.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Quote of the Day

"I think you underestimate your upper register."

--Zach L.

Friday, July 13, 2007

WELCOME HOME, D-FISH!

Nice to have my favorite player back on my favorite team.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Seperated at Birth? MLB All-Star Edition!

San Diego Padres pitcher Chris R. Young and.....


James Taylor

Padres pitcher Jake Peavy and....

Actor Ricky Schroeder

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets

Aaaaaand.....

Living Legend, Will Ferrell.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Dear Seth and Laura From Karaoke Night,

It's time to pick a new fucking song. Really really really time. Laura, you own "Black Velvet." Alannah Myles, eat your heart out because the song is now Laura's. You're a goddess of song when you rock this thing! Seth, Bon Jovi wishes he could sing "I'll Be There For You" half as well as you do, all five minutes and forty-six seconds of it. Man, you truly dominate it. Seth and Laura, I don't know what your day jobs are, but you're both professional songbirds in my mind.

There, have I stroked your egos enough? Are you now satisfied that you've proven to everyone in the bar that you can sing? Can we all finally move on now? I mean, let me drop the sarcasm for a second--you guys really are good singers....BUT SING SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!! It's been over a year!

I think I speak sincerely for everyone,

John

Friends, please don't think I'm being rash. As a karaoke connoisseur, I think there is something to be said for someone who sings the same song every week. It's someone making a statement about who they are, what they stand for (I am Neil Diamond's "Love on the Rocks," Karaoke DJ Frankie Dee IS "Don't Stop Believin"). It can become a fun staple of the show. That only works though if the singer isn't completely full of themself. It's a fine, but very boldly defined line. Seth and Laura are standing nowhere near it. They are tipping the scales on the side of obnoxious to be frank. It's easy to see this is not lighthearted sing-song fun to them. It drips in vibrant color like fresh graffitti--they think of themselves as stars giving their adoring fans what they want to hear. There is a line from a John Mayer song that sums it up nicely: "She thinks I can't see the smile that she's fakin' and poses for pictures that aren't being taken." Seth goes so far as to say before his song starts, "Sing along if you know it." "If I know it," Seth?! You've been singing it every g_damn week for 75 weeks! How could I possibly NOT know it?

The good news is that whenever they show up, it makes for a great time to go to the bathroom or to the bar for a refill. I hope they recognize my absence as a symbol of silent protest. Then again if they had the consideration to notice that, we'd never have ended up in this predicament in the first place.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE CRAZY?!

I was going to do the obligatory "It Really Sucks To Have To Work Today" post, but then I read this story.

It's just baffling to me. I mean, I'm hip to cultural differences and all, but not ones that make no sense on a basic humanity level. I realize that the U.S. is far from perfect and that the rest of the civilized world may look at certain aspects of our American culture and shake their collective heads in disbelief...but I'm going to file this story under "rebuttal: at least we're not fucked up enough to do this."

P.S. It really really sucks to have to work today. But our latest Office Max order came in which is legitimately exciting to me.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Wow, it's only 11:21 a.m.? Shit.

--One trip to Trader Joe's and I am ready to move out of this city. In the produce section, I got stuck with a woman (on her bluetooth headset, of course) who could stop saying "you know?" at the end of every sentence and who spoke of incompatible "energies." Then at the checkout, I got stuck in front of a girl (shockingly also on her phone) who used the word "like" like at least twice per sentence. Then after I escaped, I came out to find that the guy next to me had parked his car literally straddling the line. Split his car straight down the middle. He was intentionally taking up two spots in a crowded TJ's parking lot on a Sunday. I have had it, I tell you!

--Now that I think about it, how many of our annoyances with other people have something to do with cell phones? I'm going to venture 87-92%. Cell phones--asset to humanity or public nuisance?

--Why are photography books always sealed in plastic wrapping at the bookstore. Of all the books that require flipping through prior to purchasing, these merit it most. And yet...

--The good news is Nicole and I are going up to Napa at the end of the month and Bill Gates is picking up our hotel bill (his company actually, but it's more fun to personalize it)! The bad news is that any time you've got a trip (or anything) to look forward to, it can make the days leading up to it more difficult than usual. A small price to pay, I suppose.

--Why does the color black attract lint and hair so much more than any other color? No, you're wrong, it is NOT just that I notice it more on black. There is unquestionably more lint!

--I'd like to give a shout out to Joe. He just got a great new job that's gonna take him down to San Diego. Congratulations, Joey! So I got a guy in San Diego now. Which is nice. While I'm giving shout outs, I'd like to send one to my homeboy Nacho in Lynwood and Little Ray Ray in Covena.

--Will someone--anyone--see Die Hard 4 with me? Please?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Still Crazy After All These Years



Do you ever have those times when something you've loved for years suddenly seems new to you again? I had such an experience last night with the music of Paul Simon.

I stumbled across a program on PBS that was a live tribute to Paul Simon because he had been named the first ever recipient of The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. I only had time to watch about 45 minutes of it (I will finish it this weekend), but all of a sudden, the songs I have tapped my foot and sung along to for years were rediscovered. Not only that, but it got me thinking, I've loved his music for a long time now, but there is still so much of it I have never heard. They showed video of his 1976 SNL performance of "Homeward Bound" with George Harrison. Awesome. Just spot on perfect. A song and a performance that suck you in and don't let go 'til they're good and done. A pitbull of a song!

The show opened with Paul singing "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard," one of my favorites, with Stevie Wonder playing harmonica. After that, the performances, as they are for most of these tribute shows, were other great artists singing/playing Simon's songs. Man, let me tell you, Shawn Colvin, Alison Krauss, and Jerry Douglass did a rendition of "The Boxer" that I swear would give the original a run for its money. The voices of Colvin and Krauss fit like a mother and daughter's and the arrangement featuring Jerry Douglass on the (I'm gonna call it) slide guitar(?) was intimate and soulful.

I gotta break out the Paul Simon this weekend. He's a living legend!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In other news, I am listening to the Angel game online...We're not even through the second inning and the Angels have already had two runners caught in a rundown. WTF? This happens all the time. With the Angels being as aggressive on the basepaths as they've been all year (and in yrs past), you'd think they'd be a little better at it by now. You know how when you're playing a baseball video game your baserunners often seem to go when you've told them to stop and turn a solid single or double into an easy out? It's just like that.

But wait! There's more!

Not sure how I neglected to mention this before, but the dividers the showers do have are hardly dividers at all. They are made out of that hazy-but-still-pretty-much-see-through translucent shower door glass. So I am basically showering next to strange men in an "individual" stall that covers less than a hospital gown.

What kind of a world are we living in where the shower dividers in our gyms are more translucent than our coffee? I thought this was America.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Other notes about my new working environment

--I won't go into the details, but there is no way to know if the coffee was made this morning or yesterday morning. And on top of that, it's just disgusting. That's actually no different than WB. Why does no one know how to make coffee? You're not supposed to fill the filter all the way to the brim with coffee!! The coffee is supposed to be translucent! Even motor oil is translucent! This shit is thick. Note to self: bring in coffee machine from old office a.s.a.p.

--I have two windows that I can actually open! This might make everything else worth it. This might seem like no big deal, but, trust me, it's huge. Yuge. Fresh air, my friends! FRESH AIR! Not only that, but let's say the A/C is cranked up to Ice Age levels to make the cavemen feel more at home as it has been this week...just open the windows and let the warm summer air heat this mother back up! Woooo! And I can barely contain my anticipation of the first rainy day.

--There is a bathroom in my office. IN my office. I always wanted one of those, but this is not what I envisioned. Once they are hired, I will be sharing this office with two other people. So whenever one of us goes in to take care of business, the other two are going to have intimate knowledge of it. I gotta find a good dumping spot soon because I sure as shit will not be doing anything in there but the occasional quick urination.

--There is no common area in this building. It is just a long hallway with offices off it. It's weird. I am reminded of the living quarters of the ol' frat house, sans the stale stench of beer and balls.

--The Sony lot is nice. Quaint, if you will. Quiet. On my way from the parking structure to my building, I pass by the "Wheel of Fortune" stage. WHEEL OF FUCKING FORTUNE! If this were "White Men Can't Jump" and not real life, my ability to get on the lot where they shoot it would instantly get me on the show as a contestant (Rosie Perez character on "Jeopardy"). Too bad this isn't "White Men Can't Jump."

Yeeeeeeah...

This morning marked my first day at my new gym. Cashed in my free personal trainer workout which was coo. This broad definitely kicked my ass. So all was well...until I hit the showers. I had feared community showers which would be out of the question. Luckily, there were individual shower stalls.....but with no curtains on them!!!! Did you catch that? I said..

THE SHOWERS HAVE NO CURTAINS!!

Why would there be no curtains?! They installed the individual stalls so they obviously recognize the need for discreet nudity so why do they stop there? A stall with no curtain is not much better than no stall at all! This is an assault on my privacy! An attack on my manhood! My boys are anti-social, damnit!
I stood there just looking at it for a solid ten count. Finally, after considering the alternative of stinking at work all day, I just had to go for it. My nakedness was exposed. It was the fastest, most uncomfortable shower of my life. And this is what I have to look forward to five days a week. Thanks, Bally's.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Street Fight," y'all! "Street Fight!"

I watched an incredible documentary last night called "Street Fight."

STREET FIGHT chronicles the bare-knuckles race for Mayor of Newark, NJ between Cory Booker, a 32-year old Rhodes Scholar/Yale Law School grad, and Sharpe James, the four-term incumbent and undisputed champion of New Jersey politics.

Fought in Newark's neighborhoods and housing projects, the battle pits Booker against an old-style political machine that uses any means necessary to crush its opponents: city workers who do not support the mayor are demoted; "disloyal" businesses are targeted by code enforcement; a campaigner is detained and accused of terrorism; and disks of voter data are burglarized in the night.

Even the filmmaker is dragged into the slugfest, and by election day, the climate becomes so heated that the Federal government is forced to send in observers to watch for cheating and violence.

The battle sheds light on important American questions about democracy, power and -- in a surprising twist -- race. Both Booker and James are African-American Democrats, but when the mayor accuses the Ivy League educated Booker of not being "really black" it forces voters to examine how we define race in this country. "We tell our children to get educated," one Newarker says, "and when they do, we call them white. What kind of a message does that send?"

STREET FIGHT tells a gripping story of the underbelly of democracy where elections are not about spin-doctors, media consultants, or photo ops. In Newark, we discover, elections are won and lost in the streets.

For me, this movie was yet another wake up call (as if there weren't enough) to the sad state of American politics where substance is mostly irrelevant in the face of style and volume, where truth is expendable, and where respect between candidates is quickly abandoned in the interest of "winning." Not only that but the issues of race brought up by the campaign are equally, if not even more, disturbing than the political elements. A Black man in the office of Mayor telling another successful Black man that he is not Black at all, that "You have to learn to be an African-American and we don't have time to train you"? That was one of the more mild indictments made, on the record, by Mayor Sharpe James.
Really bodes well, doesn't it? "Idiocracy" was another movie I saw recently and while it was not very good, after watching "Street Fight," it's central theme has never felt more true, that America is getting dumber and dumberer by the day. If you're looking for another reason to give up all hope for American politics and America's intellectual future as a whole, then "Street Fight" is the movie for you!

P.S. In the fridge here at work, they have fat-free half and half. How the hell do you make cream fat-free?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Greetings From Culver City!

Aaaaaaaand we're back!

Had my first day at the new job yesterday. I will say this: Thank God for free internet radio. If not for Yahoo Music's Coffeehouse and Jazz Classics stations, I might have committed Harry Caray. All in all though, it was a decent day. The beauty of the situation is that my lover also works here in delightfully quaint Culver City so we enjoyed a rare Monday lunch visit.

And now today. I went to start my trusty online radio and was greeted with the following message:

LAUNCHcast Is Off the Air - It's a Day of Silence
LAUNCHcast Radio and other webcasters are silent today, from
12 midnight EST to 11:59 pm EST. A recent COPYRIGHT ROYALTY decision will impose punishing fees that could shut down most online radio.
You can do something about it. Go to www.savenetradio.org to find out more, and call your congressional representative before JULY 15th.

Today is only one day of silence -- but if you don't speak up, this could be the only sound we'll hear from online radio.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. We could be looking at a long day ahead. The bitch of it is, I was JUST considering a couple of CDs at Starbucks but opted to wait until I could sample them, especially since I had Yahoo to get me through the day. Little did I know I was about to get screwed.

The jury is still out on the new jobby job. It's tough to make a reasonable judgement based on the first day alone, of course. I will say that in one day I have already appreciated the difference between working out of the actual production office versus a seperate accounting building like at the old place. I walked in today and met our main makeup guy and some actors that were getting ready to audition. This was very exciting to me, to feel more exposed to the various aspects of the show rather than tucked away in a remote location where the only people I interact with are other accountants. So at least there's that.

Hahahahaha.....no sooner had I finished typing that than one of the actors in full Geico Caveman makeup walked by my door. I hope I don't get used to that. It reminds me of the ESPN commercials where Big Papi or LeBron are casually walking around in their office environment...except it's cavemen.

Well alright, that'll do for now.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

And I'm Sorry, Mr. Jones, it's time.

Well, my work is done. Signed off on my last round of reports last night around nine. It was a furious race to the finish and now I sit with nothing to do but pack up my shit. A couple of colleagues took me to Morton's for lunch which was delicious. Played my last game of wiffleball this afternoon. My last hangover Friday will be tomorrow morning. Then the "exit interview" at high noon. I have always wondered what goes on in an exit interview. What are you interviewing for? Unemployment? "Well, Mr. Kumpart, thank you for coming in today. We still have a few candidates to meet, but I think this looks like a good fit. I think you are the perfect man to not have this job. Congratulations." Well, I guess I will find out tomorrow. I just noticed I say "well" a lot to begin thoughts. Right now I am experiencing a brief moment of reflective sadness over the end of this era so I will paste in the lyrics to a slightly applicable song, "Fred Jones, Pt. 2" by Ben Folds, a personal favorite.

Fred Jones Pt 2

Fred sits alone
at his desk in the dark
there's an awkward
young shadow that waits in the hall

he has cleared all his things
and he's put them in boxes
things that remind him
that life has been good

twenty-five years
he's worked at the paper
a man's here
to take him downstairs
and "I'm sorry,
Mr. Jones, it's time"

there was no party
and there were no songs
'cause today's just a day
like the day that he started

and no one is left here
that knows his first name
yeah, and life barrels on
like a runaway train

where the passengers change
they don't change anything
you get off
someone else can get on
and "I'm sorry,
Mr. Jones, it's time"

the streetlight
it shines through the shades
casting lines on the floor
and lines on his face
he reflects on the day

Fred gets his paints out
and goes to the basement
projecting some slides
onto a plain white canvas

and traces it,
fills in the spaces
he turns off the slides
and it doesn't look right

yeah, and all of these bastards
have taken his place
he's forgotten, but not yet gone
and "I'm sorry, Mr. Jones"
and "I'm sorry, Mr. Jones"
and "I'm sorry, Mr. Jones, it's time"

Now I realize that it's a bit melodramatic to relate Mr. Jones to me, but what the hey. Fuck it....back to our regularly scheduled programming: CANNONBAAAAAAALL!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

CANNONBAAAAAAALL!

I am working like a dog this week. A dog with one "g," not two. In these final few days at Warner Bros., let this picture be the desktop wallpaper on the computer monitor of my career here. My friends, let my final word be........CANNONBAAAAAAAALL!!!!!!!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

It's back, damn it!

The eye twitch has been back for a few weeks and is still going strong. I feel like it's the type of seemingly harmless symptom that House would observe and off-handedly use to explain how I had two days live.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

(whistling)

--So I was tent shopping the other day for the big camping trip this weekend. Ya know what I love? I love the little tiny miniature tents they have up to serve as the floor model. Same goes for the little mini-sleeping bags.

--I finally got a job. Apparently, my date with destitution has been postponed for a couple months at least. The children will be happy to learn that I'll still be able to put food in their bowl.

--I don't feel like working today. I feel like shopping. Luckily, I have no money to throw around or I might be wandering the mall with a large pretzel in hand.

--I can confirm that the absence of urinal dividers at Angel Stadium is not a class issue. I was sitting on the carrot cake level recently and was shocked to find that their restrooms also were without dividers. Now I really just don't get it. By the way, the Angels have lost a mere 7 games at home this season (I think) and I have been present for 4 of them. I have not witnessed a win since Opening Day. What the fuck.

Monday, June 04, 2007

These Days



I am one lucky man.

After a week of increasing pressure and fear with my job/jobless situation, Nicole took me to Largo on Friday night for some much needed mental and emotional therapy. As if that weren't enough, I found myself sitting literally four feet from one of my favorite musicians and general creative heros, Jackson Browne. Just to give some point of reference to convey my love for Jackson Browne, I would put him just barely below James Taylor. And my love for JT is well known. Anyway, I knew that Jackson had played there before with Sara and Sean Watkins, the duo I was there to see on Friday. I saw him at their Christmas show, but he was just there to watch that night. So it wasn't a total shock, but it was an incredible surprise. We were lucky enough to get our old table right in front (feet next to monitors, microphone stands within arms reach). Prior to the start of the show we were casually watching some guy set up the various tuners and other misc. equipment when he put a little box thingy down that had a piece of masking tape on it with "Jackson" written on it. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but before I could even fully form a doubtful thought, there he was. Jackson Frickin' Browne was standing right in front of me! He was just doing a little soundcheck then but later in the evening he, of course, got up and played with the group. Wow. I can't think of words to aptly describe the feeling of being that close to someone whose work has meant so much to me, making direct eye contact with him as he's performing in what may as well have been my living room. I know I am being pretty mushy as it is so I will go for a practical application...If my heart and soul were a couch cushion, deflated and pressed flat by life, this moment and this night picked it up and fluffed the hell out of it. After the show, I had an opportunity to go up and meet him, but I chose not to. I couldn't think of what to say without saying too much. I couldn't just say "Hey, I'm a big fan," but I sure as shit wasn't going to be a psycho and relay my couch cushion metaphor. And so, I decided to walk away with the show itself and my experience being so close as my lasting impression. I am good with that. But if I see him there again, I might have to say something.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Went to the beach on Saturday afternoon which was really nice. I love the beach yet I've probably been two or three times in the last five years. I don't get it either.

And on Sunday, I got my back waxed. Yeah, I said it. Wooooooooo! I really should have done before and after pictures but it was too late by the time it occurred to me. Rest assured though, my friends, I am as smooth as silk! It hurt a little, but I just did my best Jack Bauer. I turned off the pain, just flipped the switch. If he can endure the Chinese, I can take a waxing. I see myself going with a wife-beater or nothing at all a lot more often this summer...just because I can. Look out, world! Heh heh heh...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I HAVE BEEN TO THE PROMISED LAND!

Cruiser and I accidentally walked into the womens' bathroom at Angel Stadium.

I could have sworn the sign said "Men" when I glanced up to check. Now that I think about it, the entrance was around a slight curve so what I saw probably did say "Men," with the "W" and "O" most likely obstructed from view by the wall. So it was an innocent mistake.

We strolled right in. The first thing I noticed was that this bathroom had no urinals. I saw this as a positive since the urinals on the View level have no dividers between them anyway. Poor people are not thought to care about the lack of decorum in watching each other pee, I guess. Then I looked to the sink and saw women, no fewer than four. There was a solid split second where no one said a thing. Then I thought aloud, "Are we in the womens' room?"

"Yes, we are," confirmed The Cruiser.

We quickly turned and took a hastened few steps back the way we had come. As daylight pulled us back into the normal world, it registered that one of them answered, "Yeah. Nice job."

We couldn't help but laugh at ourselves, giddy from embarrassment, as we navigated ourselves twelve feet further to the bathroom where we belonged. It looked virtually the same as the womens' but in our minds it was quite different.

I used a stall to pee.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

One year ago today...


...I was on en route to The City of Light as part of a two-week, four-city, European tour. Today, I am in Burbank. (Sigh) I shall pay tribute to the trip today with a pic from each city and this weekend I shall commemorate it with a Czech beer that's been in my fridge for a year and a Cuban cigar (just kidding, ATF)!



Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Spitting in the Face of a Stereotype

So I am at the post office purchasing the requisite 2-cent stamps to bring my 39-centers up to snuff. On my way out, I spy a massive SUV cruising down the street with (I'm guessing) 20" fancy rims, a stereo system bumpin' at full blast and its African-American driver rockin' out with great energy to the song. Normally, based on experience, you would expect the song to be something from the realm of hip-hop or rap, right? Something like your Chingys, your Young Jeezys, maybe a 50-Cent, but in this case you would be dead wrong (sucka!).

This guy was bumpin' John Mellencamp's "Jack & Diane" and he was loving every second of it.

How 'bout that?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Bob Sugars of the World


Sometimes you find something or someplace that is really fun and/or special but has been able to fly under the radar of popularity. Maybe it's not totally off the grid, but it's still small enough to still be manageable. And then it blows up. Some celebrity is "seen" there or they set a popular movie there or the damn LA Times devotes 4 pages and the cover of the fuckin' Weekend section to it and the next thing you know it's overrun with crowds and is virtually ruined for those who had been quietly enjoying it for years. I fear this is about to happen to me and I am not happy about it. The good news is that it's always temporary. The novelty wears off and things eventually go back to normal. Is this only a problem in big cities, I wonder?

On that same note, does it bother anyone else when celebrities start showing up at certain sports teams' games just because they're the hot topic of the moment and going to their games is suddenly "cool?" I remember back in '02 I had never seen a single celebrity at an Angels game. Ever. Oh but suddenly they're in the World Series and Pierce Brosnan and John Travolta show up and are suddenly Angels fans. It was ridiculous. A more recent example is Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, Snoop Dogg, and others showing up out of the blue at Golden State Warriors' games. I shouldn't say out of the blue because anybody could have seen it coming. As soon as the Warriors started going on a run of success and people started talking about them, the spotlight-chasing celebs were bound to show up, no doubt smiling wide under their crisp new Warriors hats. And not only did they show up, but thousands of other bandwagon fans jumped on board too and killed the energy the arena was thumping with before the rest of the country thought the Warriors had a chance. Simmons explained this too (I can't find it or I would link). Snoop Dogg might be the worst of the lot because while Wilson and Hudson have surely been spotted at Lakers and Knicks games, they are not known as legitimate fans like Snoop Dogg who loves to be proud of "his" Lakers when they are on top and any other team when they are flying high, even a team from the Lakers' division apparently. If we looked in his closet right now, how many different teams' jerseys do you think we'd find? 15? 20? I guess all we would need to do is look at which teams have won anything the past 10 years. Pretty sure he was wearing a Cardinals jersey in October last year. I wonder where that is today. And I am not forgetting that he is supposedly a big SC fan either. He's not off the hook. In fact, I am hereby banning him from all contact with the team. Take a walk, Dogg.

The whole thing to me is really a lot like the movie "Jerry Maguire," as are most things in life. Two scenes: 1) when Bob Sugar tries to talk to Rod Tidwell before his big Monday Night Football watershed game and 2) when Sugar is standing with a client and the client sees Jerry and Rod and asks "why don't we have that kind of relationship?" Of course, Sugar tries to hug his client. The reaction being It's too late, Bob! Jerry laid this all out on paper and you fired him, ya prick! Don't try to jump on the Maguire bandwagon now!

Pathetic, heartless, soul-less. Up yours, celebs! Sports teams mean something to people! They are not to be made trendy!