Tuesday, December 07, 2010
"I think they are just a little too small."
"But every pair of shoes in your closet that shows a size, shows this size."
"The shoes in my closet?"
"Every shoe in your closet."
"Oh, those are too small."
"Of course they are."
Monday, November 29, 2010
Do NOT watch "Toy Story 3" prior to decorating your Christmas tree. You are setting yourself up for a festival of guilt. As we began drawing ornaments from the huge spread on our dining room table and placing them on the tree, we couldn't help but feel bad for all the little ornaments that were not going to make it onto the tree this year. They only get unwrapped for a couple hours and are then stored away again for another year. We could hear their little voices in our heads, commiserating about how they weren't going to make the cut because we didn't love them anymore.
Thanks a lot, Toy Story.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
All I wanted to do was just post a couple of videos and leave it at that, but they apparently do not exist anywhere in cyberspace. Don't you hate it when that happens? I did however find the audio so allow me to briefly set up the clips.
These were SNL commercial/campaign ad parodies starring Will Ferrell as candidate Mack North. These are post-election campaign ads and I think the only other thing you might need to know is that at one point Mack North tracks down his defeated opponent in a grocery store parking lot. Enjoy.
And just in case you missed it amid all the hot air and posturing of the election madness, there was one measure that passed that I think we can all be excited about and proud of.
YES WE DID!
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
I am not passionate about any of the candidates in today's California state election nor any of its ballot measures. Yet I am almost as excited for today's election as I was in 2008 for no better reason than its symbolic end to all of the campaign ads popping up anywhere I cast a glance for the last 10 months or so. No more insultingly manipulative, childish, he-said-she-said commercials. For the non-residents, one ad actually pinned a Pinocchio nose on its subject. It was that bad. And that's just the TV ads! I get about 20 e-mails, texts, and phone calls a day. Last night I had just crawled into bed around 11:30 when I heard my text chime go off. I got up to check it, thinking any text coming in at 11:30 on a Monday is probably something I need to read right away. Nope, yet another text reminding me to vote. Thank God it's over.
A coworker said she saw Cheech Marin at her polling place. I think his silent presence alone qualifies as electioneering for Prop 19, doesn't it?
I do love the "I Voted" sticker. I wear it with a great deal of pride. Another coworker of mine said this morning that she "never votes." I was tempted to press for further explanation but who needs the aggravation?
Is it just me or is it mostly women that enjoy Thai food? I can't recall ever hearing a man suggest "Let's go for Thai food" yet I hear women do it all the time. Maybe it's code.
Monday, October 25, 2010
I went to BB&B to replenish my Yankee Candle supply today and I made a switch from my usual favorite, "Autumn Leaves." Well, I made a change with my little work candle anyway. I ventured out to "Pumpkin Pie" and wow am I ever glad I did. It is a revelation! Unfortunately, I have to keep reminding myself that I can't eat the candle.
My buddy Zach comes into town this weekend. This means I will be rocking the karaoke for the first time in I don't know how long. A year at least. I have to admit, I'm nervous. It's been a while, ya know? I'm sure I'll be fine once I get that first song under my belt, but which song do I choose? I guess I'll have to read the room, get a feel for what they want to hear. It would be a lot easier if Bill Brasky hadn't eaten my song list.
I feel I need to do some baking these next few nights. Gotta have something to bring in to work on Friday, something for the tailgate Saturday, and something to indulge in Sunday night. I wish I were a better baker. With cooking, I feel like I manage just fine. I can look at what we have and whip something up. I still have much to learn, but certain basic instincts have been developed. I can improvise. With baking, I am a slave to mixes and rigid instructions. Perhaps if I actually sought out recipes more often instead of being lured by mixes on the spot.
Things were a bit slow under the ol' fluorescents last week, so much so that we found ourselves coloring Halloween decorations for our department. One of the last ones I posted up was a picture of Charlie Brown in his mangled ghost costume pulling a rock out of his trick-or-treat bag. Since then, I have been shocked and disheartened at the widespread depravity that apparently surrounds me on a daily basis. Nobody friggin' gets it.
"Why does that ghost have so many holes in its sheet?"
"Is that ghost holding a rock? Why?"
BECAUSE IT'S CHARLIE FRICKIN' BROWN! AS IN, "IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN"!!! ARE YOU FROM RUSSIA? HAVE YOU NO CHILDHOOD TO SPEAK OF!?!?
Forgive me, I don't really want to be one of those "you haven't seen (blank)?!?!" a-holes, but I guess I kind of am in this case.
I am really loving football this year. I love it every year, but usually my initial testosterone-laced enthusiasm wanes by about Week 4. Usually by then I don't want to sit inside all day unless it's a particularly good matchup. There is something in the air for me this year though I guess because I can't get enough. I actually feel a little post-football hangover on Tuesday mornings when I realize I have to wait a few days before it comes on again. I can think of no reasonable explanation for it, but I am not fighting it. Are you ready for some football? Yes I am, Hank. Yes, I am. If only my fantasy team shared my zest for the game.
I went to the movies by myself Saturday night and that is always an interesting experience to fly solo among the clouds of couples on a prime date night. It's sort of like being invisible. Or like being an ax-murderer, as it turns out. The movie let out around midnight and I had to go down to the bowels of the parking structure to get back to my car. As I got down to Level Three, it was just me and the couple a few steps ahead of me on the escalator. We all got off at Four and it did have that sort of slasher-flick vibe. The girl looked behind her nervously a few times, clearly wondering what someone would be doing at a movie theater alone on a Saturday night. I pressed my keyless entry as soon as I got in range so she would see the lights blink on my Prius and know I was completely harmless.
I just got a hankering for one of those candy cane martinis I was mixing last Christmas. Back into the closet, Christmas! The world is not yet ready for all the joyous splendor that is you! It's not your fault! Your time will come! Somebody hand me something pumpkin, STAT!
Due to contractual obligations with the National Football League, we will now be leaving this blog and moving to Monday Night Football....TOUCHDOWN ROMOCOP!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Yeah, that feeling. It sucks, right?
On a more pleasant note, I am very pleased to announce that I have adopted an open door policy on Christmas music. This is not to be confused with Open Season, which means deliberately playing all xmas tunes all the time. No, this open door policy merely stipulates that should a Christmas song occur randomly within an all-song shuffle, it will be allowed to run its course at normal volume. Call it Phase One of the transition to Christmas.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
--Is it okay to be angry with coworkers that come to work sick and refuse to go home? I hope so, because I am peeved. My boss was out yesterday with a violent stomach flu. He had gotten it from his daughter who had gotten it from his wife so this thing was no flimsy thread. This baby had legs. And yet here he was the very next day. I took one look at him and put my shirt over my mouth. He still looked peeked, sickly, pale. He even confessed to not being "totally fine." SO THEN WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?! Who brings an infectious agent like the flu into a limited air circulation and then hands papers back and forth all day? I have been sterilizing like mad, but wouldn't you know it, my stomach doesn't feel quite right. Grrrrrrrr...
--I'd like to announce my latest great crush...singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile. I've listened to her music for years and thought she was a good-looking woman, but she didn't seem like my type. She was never smiling in any of the pictures I saw so I got the impression she may be a serious, depressive type. Then there was the concert. She was quite personable, funny and, I dare say, endearing. Did I mention that she closed her set with a heart-shattering cover of Alphaville's 80s classic "Forever Young?" There was a link to the show I went to but the recording quality is better on this one. I'm smitten.
--I've noticed a couple guys in the office sporting plaids or flannels without undershirts this week. It's a bold move, but as long as the button situation doesn't work out to be too low, I think it might work. What the hell, I'll try it.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Realistically speaking though, you can't beat a good double feature. I remember doing the ultimate yin/yang double feature as a kid, seeing "Three Men and a Little Lady" and "Predator 2" back to back. I tried to match that contrast recently with "The Expendables" and "The Other Guys." In college, of course, it was a matter of necessity. We couldn't afford to pay 13 bucks and only get one movie out of it. I recall employing elaborate plans of dressing in layers of different styled clothing. We'd hit the bathroom after one show, shed one clothing identity for another, before heading out for the second show, undetected. You'd be surprised how much a hat can do for you in that situation.
Today, I'm happy to pay, of course. I'd be so delighted to find the time to knock out two movies in succession, why risk getting the boot at the halfway point?
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
--The slanted shoe rack? Why would you give it a slant? It makes no damn sense at all. You've created a valuable tool, a way to more effectively store a bulky odd-shaped item like shoes and yet you've given the shoes an advantage, encouraging them to slide right back onto the floor. Make it flat and everybody stays put. It drives me batty.
--The one horizontal button hole at the bottom of a man's shirt? Why is it different than its vertical brothers above it? How long has this been going on? Who started it? My only guess is that it has something to do with tucking the shirt in, but that makes so sense either. A horizontal button is theoretically easier to come undone with the side-to-side shifting created by pants. Besides that, what sort of body type calls for a shirt to be tucked in only as far as the bottom button? Is this the Beer Belly Fit?
--Bacon-wrapped hot dogs? They smell fantastic but taste average at best. It's a sensory sham, I tell you!
Sorry, I know that is a pretty weak entry, but let's move on.
**I know some of you are guilty of this, but please take no offense. I'm just really bored and being a smartass. Pay me no mind.
I am just not good at interviews. I get nervous, my mouth goes dry as cotton, and words just fumble out of my head randomly like a bucket of Legos being dumped on the floor. I lose all ability to think on my feet, recognize opportunities to convey a positive impression of myself, or say anything with any conviction or confidence.
How bad could it really have been, you ask? Let's just say that at one point I referenced fantasy football. I wish I were kidding.
The good news is I don't have to be nervous about whether I'll get the job or not. The rest of the week, I can relax, have a good hearty laugh at myself, and figure out how I am going to improve for next time.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This is what occurred to me as I escaped to the Williams-Sonoma at lunch today. They had a french onion soup starter, pumpkin spice quick bread, and a harvest blend stuffing kit from La Brea Bakery! As usual, the place smelled like sweet bread in the oven, and the faces around the counter were friendly and personable. I wanted it all. I wanted to go all "Julie & Julia" and cook my way through the whole damn store. Today's was only a browsing mission, however, a scout if you will. I will be back. Oh yes, I will be back.
Back to my point though...As I was leaving and relishing the joy that is Williams-Sonoma, I had an impractical fantasy. What if I just worked a string of retail jobs at my favorite stores? One day at each store, maybe two-a-day a few times a week. Could I live? Maybe not, but it would be fun, wouldn't it? Besides, think of the discounts.
I give you my list of stores I would work at if I were actually to lose my mind and implement such a plan:
(In no particular order)
Portrait of a Bookstore
Ballard Designs (I know it's a catalog, not a store but this is a stupid fantasy anyway)
LL Bean (see above)
Cost Plus World Market
Friday, September 24, 2010
Well, I am bored as hell (shocker!) and I thought I should throw something up here so in the absence of anything worthwhile, I shall regale you with a tale of last night's encounter with a surly barman. Let's call it "(Petty)Showdown at the Formosa Cafe."
Arriving at the historic Formosa Cafe around 8:30 for The Doug and Mara's fundraiser, my lady friend and I made our way to the bar. Whilst imbibing on the first of several free cocktails, we eyed a miniature, A-frame menu advertising appetizers at Happy Hour prices. The veggie spring rolls were too great a sumptuous value to resist. We ordered them. They came, Nicole ate them, all was well...or so it seemed. A short while later, Ellen arrived and had designs on veggie spring rolls of her own. These, however, would have to be of the full price variety as the mini-menu had been replaced by one far more physically and economically imposing. We ordered them anyway. They came, the broads ate them, all was well...or so it seemed. When the check came, I noticed that we'd been charged the full, robust price for both sets of rolls, rather than one-and-one, happy hour-to-regular. I jovially pointed this out to the waitress who immediately agreed as to the error and vowed swift reparations. I thanked her, gave her my credit card and she vanished to the unseen kitchen area. That's where, as we would later find out, someone got to her. She came out moments later to ask me how many veggie spring rolls had come out in the initial serving, because someone in the kitchen (with Dina?) was asserting that we got six, which was apparently more than the Happy Hour portion. I assured her I had no idea since I had not partaken, but that, regardless, we had ordered the first veggie spring rolls under the pretense of the low low price as it was displayed to us and would probably not have so splurged otherwise. After all, I had enjoyed a turkey sandwich on the way over. I did stipulate that I was certain the first spring rolls had arrived on a decidedly smaller plate. Again, she was gone. Moments later, a strange man dressed in black emerged, seemingly from thin air, and inquired if we were "the people with the veggie spring rolls." In my own subtle way, I answered, You got it, Butch. Well well well....This man in black was visibly perturbed. He said that while he was going to adjust our check to reflect a one-and-one price tab, he just wanted me to know that we DID get six(!) veggie spring rolls. He was adamant about the number we had received and consumed and that number was SIX! Not two, not four, but six. The implication, of course, being that we are somehow responsible for knowing how many veggie spring rolls are served in any of their various price tiers and that by eating the allegedly additional spring rolls placed in front of us, we were making a commitment to pay for them. You-eat-it-you-buy-it kind of thing. I acknowledged that we'd been so informed and somehow managed to keep my immeasurable gratitude for his lesson in ethics contained. Then he somewhat brashly asked to confirm my mini-menu story. I stood my ground, the truth standing behind me like a big brother with his arms crossed. The man in black then pointedly checked to make sure that this mini-menu had now been taken away, seemingly so that we could not try any more of these shenanigans. We showed him that it certainly had, most likely sometime around when Happy Hour ended, or ten minutes after we polished off the last of the first veggie spring rolls. With one more fleeting yet still prideful assertion that we had gotten six spring rolls, the man in black was gone. The waitress returned with the new check, still cheerful, still as disinterested and baffled by the scope of this minor battle as I was. Sure enough, there was the receipt with the old total and there was the receipt with the new total. Everything's kosher, right? Wrong. The credit card receipt, the little guy you actually sign, still carried the older, higher total of injustice. What was I to do? Track down the innocent waitress again and drag this trifling tragedy out even further? On another day, after another drink, that just may be exactly what I would have done. Alas, it was not to be, not on this night. On that night, the point was conceded to the man in black. In the end, he just wanted it more. I scoffingly signed my name as if writing a check for a parking ticket, including an impartial tip for the waitress who was unwittingly caught in the crossfire. I downed the last swig of my martini, paid my respects to The Doug, and called it a night, without the slightest flutter of regret or shame. After all, we did get six veggie spring rolls.
And look at that, it's now time to go home!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Not that size matters, but...
We're talkin' 421 songs, 1 Day, 1.80 GB of devastatingly appropriate music for the Fall season, real or mostly imagined. I leave you now to enjoy a celebratory cup of chai tea.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
When I was about ten years old, my fifth grade class spent three days at this sort of outdoor science school up in the mountains, Camp Hi Hill. The curriculum was comprised of hiking to a natural spring, star gazing, and various other scientific stuff that I can barely even vaguely recall. I do have two lasting memories from this little excursion. The first is the "memory stick" each of us brought home with us, my first exposure to the sentimentality that would later blossom into the lost art of yearbook-signing. The second memory was in hindsight the most valuable aspect of the whole trip.
It was just around dusk as our cabin group was being led by our counselor to the top of the mesa from some unknown point to which we had hiked. Our counselor stopped us on the trail unexpectedly. We all sat down and he explained what was about to happen. We were about five minutes' walk from the top of the mesa, he said, where the rest of the campers would be waiting. He told us that each of us, one by one, would be walking the rest of the way up the trail on our own. It was to be our personal, solo walk. For someone who was already towing the line between bravery and fear just by being up there with all these strangers, away from family for the first time, this was no walk in the park. It was a mildly scary proposition. But there I went, out into the trees alone. I can't lie and say I remember it vividly. Honestly, I just remember walking, the myriad whistles, cranks, and hums of the wild forest around me, and the first twinkle of pride when I made it through to the other side unscathed.
Last night though, as I was trying to fall asleep, I was thinking about how nice it is sometimes to go for a walk alone. I hear more, I see more, I experience everything differently. The best part is the opportunity to be truly and completely alone with my own thoughts. Really, how often do we get that in our daily lives? I even recalled specific walks I had taken over the years that had each been very important to me in their own way. A walk by myself is a way to work things out. As I began thinking about this, it occurred to me that it very well may have started that night in the woods. I would think that had been the point, to plant a seed of independence or self-reliance. I don't know that it's as simple as saying "it worked." A big part of it, I'm sure, is simply growing up. But I will say, I really enjoy my alone time when I get it, be it a walk or the occasional Saturday night grill and football game at home.
That's all. Just saying.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Did I mention it's the 2010 home opener?!
What. The. Hell.
It's cool. I can tailgate on my back patio, drinking fall seasonals*, grilling burgers, making macho jokes to Mr. Frodo. At least I save a few bucks, which offsets the cost of my recently acquired lederhosen. So I got that going for me, which is nice.
*I found a Widmer Bros. Oktoberfest brew at Bevmo.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
When I was living in New York, which I cannot believe was a decade ago, the city would get to me. The crowds, lights, subways, and the cramped, vertical, walking-city layout were key factors in what it made it so damn thrilling to live there, but I would also reach a point where if I didn't see a tree and a patch of grass, my head was going to burst. These moments were easily recognizable and always lingering even when the need was not immediate, like feeling the jaws of a vise on your head even before it's tightened. Thank God for Central Park.
Living in Los Angeles, with its vast spread, sea breezes, and mind-numbing traffic, I've never felt the urgent need to break away from the city because it doesn't really feel like a "city." Or so I thought. When I touched down in South Dakota last week, I realized I actually did need to escape from LA and that my head was in fact dangerously close to popping. The difference was that this time, the tension had been building painlessly, gradually like a slowly filling helium balloon. I didn't know how badly I needed to get out of town until I was already gone.
What a break it was. It was more than a break, it was a recalibration. It was a deep breath and a slow, careful exhale. I'd been to South Dakota and Denver many times before, of course, but this was the first time I can say I truly felt like I was going to a second home (Just ask brother Wayne and he'll vouch for me helping myself to his pantry). Maybe the best way I can organize my thoughts on this is to break it down by day.
First stop, directly from the airport should always be Armadillo's ice cream shop (seasonal). I had a steamburger, of course, and then satisfied a month-long craving for a milkshake with one of their signature concoctions edible only with a spoon. The Snickers Delite, folks. I friggin' love Snickers.
The nap. Is there anything better? I cannot tell you the last time I had a legitimate nap prior to that afternoon. And I went deep. I was dreaming.
Return to the scene of the crime, the winery of our wedding. Now that was weird. It felt like it had been a lot longer than a year. It felt kind of like going back into last year's classroom, assuming that conjures good memories for you. It certainly did for me. I caught myself telling every employee I came in contact with, like showing the new kids where the graph paper is stored. "Let me help you pick out a few tastings, youngster. I got married here last year."
And they had even managed to get all the candle wax off the hearth.
Uncle Jim took me fishing, my first time. The power and peace of the utter quiet. The sky. Holy shit, the sky. The purest, brightest blue, an ocean touching this lake. The term "big sky" hit home. The endearing, dry banter of Uncle Jim and his son Rick, playfully picking on each other all day long. My first and only fish! He was too small to keep, but, he fought like a marlin. The honor in keeping the tiniest fish that died as we removed the hook, scooping him back out of the water even though he had less than an ounce of meat on him. Rick was not going to let him lay to waste. A ham sandwich and a PBR never tasted so good as they did out on that boat, with a line in the water.
Deadwood, always Deadwood. The big, fancy suite you'd never expect to see in this Old West gambling town with its giant tub, fireplace, and complimentary slippers. Sharing a bottle of wine with the winemaker and his family (i.e., me). Hitting the tables and losing my shirt. The graciousness and sincerity of the dealer we had all to ourselves who implored me to never give up on my artistic dreams. Sometimes it's just so much easier to be open with a stranger.
Like Willie Nelson said, "a bloody mary morning." After years of trying to like them, I am finally(!) on board. It's a good thing because I needed a little hair of the horse that bucked me and then kicked me as I tried to stand up. The luck that began with finding the only place serving a breakfast sandwich at noon. The luck that continued as I hit my straight flush, taking all my money back and some of theirs, all with one foot out the door. The convertible. A '91 LeBaron, but a convertible nonetheless. Driving (see, rocking) through Custer State Park, top down, "American Woman" blasting. The striking scale of the Cathedral Spires. Driving through "The Eye of the Needle," aptly named for the size of this rock tunnel. Wondering what the first car to drive through it might have looked like. The kindness of strangers when the convertible wouldn't start again (it is a '91 LeBaron).
Sitting on the back patio that night, sharing several bottles of wine with the winemaker and his family. The crackle of the fire in the chiminea. The often underrated magic of seeing stars, their power to remind you how small you are...in a healthy way. The way the flicker of firelight seems to filter out everything but honesty on the faces it touches.
The road trip. Denver, by way of Wyoming. Desolation, isolation, service station. The crap we buy there. Snow fences, open spaces, a metal cowboy planted on the hilltop for no apparent reason. The budding anticipation for the Little America Resort in Cheyenne, building from mild amusement to ecstatic glee after hundreds of miles of roadside billboards.
The reward of reaching family at the finish line.
Playing in the sandbox, building cities, farms, construction sites at once. The jolt to the imagination that is trying to keep up with the kids. Wiping the sand from Claire's eyes, trying not laugh too hard that she has dumped the entire cup of sand right on her head. The unspoken fun of taking little Caeden to kindergarten. Promising to take care of his monster truck until he gets home (I think I left it in the car. Oops.). A new outdoor mall for the Gap/Banana Give-and-Get 3-Day sale. Hey, I have come to love that sale. Plus the sales tax is lower in Colorado. The surprise and joy of my first Papa Murphy's pizza. Sitting out back, watching the sun set over the Rockies.
The Wedding. I love everything about weddings and this one was a knockout. The beaming pride of families coming together. The naked humility on the faces of the bride and groom as their big moment finally arrives. The indomitable tears everyone knew were coming yet are still utterly sincere. Then, the party. The brotherhood that builds around the bar. Dancing with any man, woman, or child in my vicinity. Dancing with parents. For a music fascist like me, realizing sometimes (though rarely) the song doesn't matter in the least. The 10 year-old who could give me lessons on being a ladies man. Letting go, looking around to find everybody falling with you. Everybody pretty much cutting footloose. The summer camp camaraderie of everyone staying in the same hotel.
The Day After breakfast, trying to remember everything you still desperately need to recover from. Noticing the same confusion on faces around the room. Asking "Hey, wasn't that you doing the Thriller dance?" while waiting on the wafflemaker. Saying goodbye, wondering when you might see them all again. Hoping it won't be long.
Finally, coming home. Dropping your bags, picking up the cats, and getting ready to start over.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I would exercise without time constraints, I would read the paper over breakfast, I would read all the books I want to read, see all the movies I want to see, travel the world, see all the family and friends I never get to see, learn my guitar, take various types of classes, write actual letters to people....I really could go on all day.
I realize I am kind of going back to my post not too long ago so I will keep it brief.
The thing is, his perspective is radically than mine, assuming he was agreeing with the "Who, me? Retire?" crowd. His job is meaningful. As I am finally reading Outliers, as I pledged, the author defines a meaningful job as having three criteria: "complexity, autonomy, and a relationship between effort and reward in doing creative work." His job meets all three and God bless him for that. My perspective, however, is quite different. You could argue there's complexity, but really, I am so used to it, I could do it in my sleep by now. As for the latter two, not by any stretch of the imagination.
The author goes on to say something that might be completely obvious even out of context, but it struck a chord with me.
"Hard* work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig."
I long...I yearn...I ache to dance that jig.
*I would argue that the same could be said for easy work and that easy work considered a prison sentence, in its own way, is as painful as hard work.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Now hold on a second. I understand the value of mixing in a little kitsch. I am not saying I am Mr. All-High-Art-All-The-Time, not even close**. I understand that, even though you know it's bad and bad for you, sometimes you just want Taco Bell. I get that sometimes you'll come across a bad movie on cable, but it's a fun bad movie because maybe you used to watch it growing up or maybe you just feel like not thinking for a while. I get it and I am right there with you.
No, what I am talking about are the folks who watch nothing but the crap. I know a couple very intelligent people who love to laugh at the absurdity of the celebrity gossip that Yahoo "News" gives the weight of global warming. They enjoy watching "Jersey Shore" or the latest Kardashian calamity if only to revel in how tasteless it is. But here's the thing, as far as I can tell, the crap is not offset by more valuable venues visited the majority of the time. They're not reading the New York Times or catching up on "Mad Men" and then clicking over to "TMZ" for a little levity. As far as I can see, and I have been paying attention, it's all-asinine-all-the-time. Don't you see that it's never going to stop if you keep looking at it?!
WHY?!?!?!?! It's maddening, isn't it?
**For evidence that I am not playing the snobby high-brow card, see previous post.
Monday, August 16, 2010
10. Tango & Cash - great chemistry, genuinely funny moments, a kickass 4x4, and Jack Palance as the bad guy
9. Commando - "Remember when I said I'd kill you last?....I lied."
8. Predator - "Come on, I'm here! Kill me! Do it now!"
7. Cobra - The toothpick, the muscle car, the laser-pointer aiming device...plus a truly scary villain.
6. Rambo: First Blood Part II - Probably didn't invent the "gear-up" sequence, but did it as well as anyone. They even carried it over to the cartoon.
5. Die Hard 2: Die Harder
4. The Running Man - Watch this movie and tell me we are not three years away from this actually happening.
3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day - I don't think this one has aged very well, unfortunately. Edward Furlong's whiny brat John Connor is tough to take.
2. True Lies - Three words: Jamie. Lee. Curtis.
1. Die Hard - "Yippe ki-yay, motherfucker."
Friday, August 13, 2010
10:10 a.m. "The Expendables" followed by a 12:30 "The Other Guys" with a beer in between.
Does it get any better than that? I don't think so. Wooooooooooo!
On the flip side, one of my coworkers is doing "Eat, Pray, Love"* and "Charlie St. Cloud," perhaps only to prove there is a yin to my yang.
*Do I want to see "Eat, Pray, Love?" Of course. But come on, "Expendables" first.
On a side note, I recently gave a guy friend my favorite book as a gift. I came this close to giving him "Eat, Pray, Love" as well, not having read it myself but based solely on the subject matter. In the nick of time, I saw that the opening lines of the book are her begging to be kissed by a guy named Antonio. Wow, that was a close call. Can you friggin' imagine?
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I know it is 75 degrees out.
I know there is still a month and a half of baseball to be played.
I know it's still fashionably acceptable to be wearing linen shirts and white pants.
I know all these thing. And I do embrace them.
But I just listened to a Christmas song*, intentionally and in its entirety.
Because I just needed it, that's why. I might listen to three more by days' end. Sorry, coworkers.
*Ironically, my selection was Johnny Mathis' version of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas."
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Ever since we moved in, we've been living with this ceiling fan in the dining room. It's not a bad looking model, but it's still a ceiling fan, which confounds me as to why it was ever installed in a dining room.
"Gee hun, my soup is just too darned hot. Would you mind cranking on the ceiling fan for me?"
"(Groan) Ohhh! Look at this table! It's covered in dust!"
"But we're out of Pledge and paper towels and our guests will be here any minute!"
"Fear not, kitten. I know exactly what to do..."
Suffice to say, we never used the thing. Not even for light as it had some godawful energy-saving, ambiance-sucking fluorescent-looking bulb inside it. Lighting was a real challenge actually. Candles are nice, but sometimes you want a nice, soft glow without the romance, ya know? Sometimes you want a casual warmth as opposed to a seductive warmth and we could never find the right balance using the other lamps around the room.
Last night, it all became moot. Our lighting crisis was zapped to oblivion with the snap of a breaker. Thirty minutes of observed labor and awkward conversation later, and we had a brand new chandelier installed! But wait, that's not all. Are you ready for this? We also had the electrician install.......(drum roll).......a dimmer! A dimmer! My kingdom for a dimmer! Man oh man, I wanna tell you....
That chandelier really ties the room together. I just laid down and stared at it. Casual warmth up the wazoo! And really, slide it down a quarter inch more, light a couple peripheral candles and, boom, seductive warmth. Romanza bonanza.
I just wonder why it took us this long to see that the solution was so simple, as obvious as a riddle that kids get in two seconds when their parents rack their brains for hours. No matter, the new era is here now. The new Era of (Dining Room) Enlightenment.
Then there's the shower caddy. Eureka! What a marvel of efficiency and practical design! I'm not talking about the shower caddy as a concept. That's old news, of course. I'm talking about the new one we just installed after the old one rusted out. I tell ya, nothing pleases me like outstanding organization in the shower and they really made a quantum leap forward with this model. I can see they did their homework. It's like they read my mind or could sense my frustration with the various shower elements hanging out all over the place like a big lady in a small bra. The shampoo is held tight against the wall, no longer free to fall forward, impeding the stream and spraying water everywhere! Never again will the slippery soap slide off its perch into the waters below! There is now a lip corralling it like with the pride of a sheppard.
Everything in its place, my friends. Everything in its place.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
(Fifteen minutes later)
After talking to my friend Christine for a few minutes, I feel a little better. Still, when the door closes behind me today, the radio is going up and my voice is going hoarse.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
--I recently asked my wife if she could pick me up a pore-reducing mask.
--I also recently had an argument with my wife about how many pillows we need on our bed...and I was for adding more.
--I adore, even crave, lavender.
--A fraction of my motivation for working out lately, albeit a small one, has been to better fit a shirt I recently bought.
That's all I got for now, but that's probably a good thing, right? It's kind of like the opposite of the Dos Equis Guy commericals.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
And now the burden of having something to say...Okay, I got one...
I have been working virtually nonstop since I was 15 years old. Even when I was in college taking 18 units a semester, I worked a job at the very least 16 hours a week. You would think that by now I would be at peace with the concept of a job being a job, a necessary sacrifice of time and free will for the sake of stability in one's food, shelter, and wine. Yet lately it has been bothering me more than ever.
I have been having some great weekends. Lots of relaxing, reading, and enjoying outdoor movies with friends. You would think this release would appease me and make the work days in between more tolerable, but in fact it has had the opposite effect. The more I enjoy life on my terms, the less patience I have to waste it away on someone else's.
I don't mean to sound immature or whiny. It's not like I pout about it or throw a tantrum. Really, it just inspires my bi-monthly What-am-doing-with-my-life, Is-this-really-the-best-I-can-do mini-crisis. You know, those periods where you reflect on all your failures and unfulfilled potential and wonder what you could have done differently. Sometimes I think maybe this is why you have children, to give life meaning and to stop the endless cycle of chasing your own elusive happiness. Then I remind myself that one should not decide to have children to solve one's problems, that they are not a prescription. Besides, if the simple pleasure of feeling the sun on my face is making work intolerable, what effect is the heart-leaping joy of fatherhood going to have? The most agonizing aspect of these times is that nothing positive comes from them. All the reflection and internal sulking changes nothing. I stare at the ocean, listen to early Jackson Browne, and pray for guidance. Eventually, my mind just wanders to problems less vexing. Still, short of landing a miracle new job that inspires a sense of pride and purpose, I don't see what there is I can really do about it. Nonetheless, I have to try. Here is what I have come up with, my 6-step plan for contentment:
Step 1: Head for Vegas*. Going on Friday.
Step 2: Start writing again. Something different this time. Something lighter. So what if no one likes it or, God forbid, buys it. That becomes evident later. The value is in the doing.
Step 3: Learn to play the guitar. I know I have claimed this one before, but I went to McCabe's last night and bought a book! I'll see how much I can teach myself and then go for lessons. If you're gonna sing the blues, at least give it some accompaniment, right? (rim shot)
Step 4: Keep exercising. I'm going on three good weeks and it always helps to feel physically good.
Step 5: Go back to the improv classes. Like working out, it was something I always tried to talk myself out of (because it was terrifying and a painful commute away), but was thrilled about after I had done it.
Step 6: As a fail safe, finally pick up Malcom Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success, or as it's less widely known, "You're A Loser, But It's Not Your Fault." On that note...
I stumbled on a program on NPR last weekend where they were debating the existence of free will as we know it. The segment I heard was an interview with a quantum physicist who, of course, was making the point that despite what we would like to believe or what seems to us to be true, that we actually have no conscious control over our actions. He cited this study where they hooked people up to these brain wave machines and told them to press this button at some point in the next three minutes, whenever they chose to do so. Conventional wisdom would have you expect the results to show the brain sending the signal to the fingers to press the button and then for the button to be pressed. However, they found that the brain sent a signal reacting to the action before it ever sent the signal to initiate the action. This study seemed to indicate the subjects' brains knew when the action was coming before the subject made the "choice" to act. Of course, we are talking about minute fractions of a second here and I am sure I am butchering this study in my recounting of it (couldn't find the program in a quick search). I'm not saying I am that easily convinced one way or the other, but I was certainly intrigued by the question.
So here I am, stuck in a rut. Maybe my plans to get out of it will only further entrench me in this wedge, like quick sand or a rip tide. Maybe it's out of my hands (and brain) to change anything anyway. Maybe the metaphor of the rollercoaster of life is true in its implication that the course is already set and we are merely along for the ride. Something tells me those quantum physicists smoke a lot of pot. Regardless, what's the harm in trying?
I was confronted with a license plate frame this morning that I think sums it all up as plainly and succinctly as only a license plate frame can. It said, "So what? Enough already."
And with that, back to work...
*This trip was already planned, but the timing works out well, doesn't it?
Friday, June 25, 2010
A) Good for them. They probably relish the opportunity to speak German and feel a little piece of home for a change.
B) For a minute, it's cool, but beyond that it's just rude. It's the most obvious and blatant means of making people feel totally excluded from a conversation. English is the language the fours of us all speak so how about we go with that, okay?
Green all the way.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Awakened, as usual, by the hungry cries of Mr. Frodo in plenty of time to get up and make coffee before the opening kick.
A bowl of Wheaties. Two cups of coffee. The morning paper chalk full of bitter pills of info on the Laker loss and the NCAA witchhunt.
A full game of World Cup soccer before even thinking about getting dressed for work.
Nice little Friday.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Okay, so that's overstating it a bit, but I will say that I have taken a hiatus from caring about anything political and it may be directly linked to the dearth of thrilling sports stories developing this week. You've got the Lakers and the Celtics in the NBA Finals, of course. That alone is enough to monopolize a fan's attention. Then you put the World Cup into the mix and the hours become nothing but a countdown until the next game. Just for good measure or perhaps to test my excitement threshold, let's toss in the Angels-Dodgers Freeway Series, amplified further still by a bet with Kissen raising the stakes (or steaks, as it were). The icing on the cake, the last touch of foreboding, which makes all this sporting action not just fun but actually important, is the impending NCAA ruling on the USC case.
There is a LOT of potential for celebration in these next couple weeks. We're talking actual jump-for-joy giddiness. On the flip side, of course, there is also potential for great heartbreak and disappointment. At this stage though, as the Lakers are only through Game 3, and the rest of the events have yet to begin, it's all nervous, elated anticipation.
I'm not sure why I started by relating this to politics, but the break has been nice and this sports bonanza has been a more than adequate replacement. Just between you and me, I didn't even vote yesterday. I'm not proud of it. I swear, I forgot. Besides, I had to come into work early so that I could leave early to make it home in time for the Lakers tipoff.
UPDATE (Thursday, 9:15 a.m.): Well that playful peppering of foreboding turned out to be more than I had anticipated. So what did I do last night when I learned of the imminent sanctions against USC? I watched "The Rachel Maddow Show." Not only do I have room for both, but it would seem they are a neccesary yin and yang.
According to my estimates, approximately 67% of my office is wearing sandals today. As recently as two years ago, sandals were something you could technically get away with if you wore them with pants, but you had to be prepared to hear one or two half-joking remarks from the powers that be. Now, apparently, we're Huntington Beach which is just fine by me. It's the summer of love! Woooooo! Let it flow!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I don't remember what the context was but, I had such a crisis about 2 months ago and today the word popped right back in there. The word was:
There, now it is on public record and the next time I forget it, I know just where I can find it. Humor me.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I submit to you that the saying "greatest thing since sliced bread" should forever be changed to "greatest thing since shelled pistachios." Let me tell you why. How hard is it to slice bread really? As long as you have a serrated knife, it takes two seconds. Was sliced bread a wonderful invention and a huge leap forward for mankind (and ducks)? Of course. I'm just saying if we didn't have it, we could still get by just fine. But pistachios...
Pistachios are far and away the best tasting of all nuts. This point is not open for discussion. However, I will often shy away from the deliciousness of the pistachios because they are such a pain in the ass to get out of their shells. It's no coincidence that the best nut is also the highest maintenance nut. It's one of nature's classic jokes. So when they started selling the pre-shelled pistachios, that, to me, was the defining moment of greatness to which all others should be compared against. There was only two periods in time, Before Shelled Pistachios and After Shelled Pistachios, or B.S.P. and A.S.P. 'Twas the vortex, my friends.
The cooler with wheels, that was also a great invention. One might say it was the greatest thing since shelled pistachios.
Friday, May 21, 2010
As in the SNL Weekend Update segment. As in, "Come on. Really? Really, Officer? You're gonna give me a ticket for jaywalking? Really?"
2) "I like where your head's at."
Monday, May 17, 2010
Friday, May 07, 2010
Thursday, May 06, 2010
"Bob is not authentic at all. He's a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I."
LIVE FROM THE MGM GRAND GARDEN ARENA!
JULY 23rd LAS VEGAS, NEVADA!
ACOUSTIC GUITAR LADDER MATCH!
TWO LEGENDARY FOLK SINGERS WILL ENTER THE RING! ONLY ONE WILL LEAVE!
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Last night, we drove down to Long Beach to see David Sedaris. Carpool lane was wiiiiiide open. We were cruising along like we were riding a monorail, eating sandwiches and listening to my new Diana Krall album. I've never really thought about jazz as summer beach music, but this really worked well. I was probably taking a visual from the tranquil shore scenes in the inside cover art, but there was a romantic elegance to the music that had me hearkening back to a peaceful afternoon in the Caribbean, sipping rum punch and watching the sun set. Before you roll your eyes, you should know that I wrote that last sentence in my best Ron Burgundy voice. We got down to LB in time to have a preshow glass of wine out on the terrace. The view was nothing spectacular, but I was reminded how good it feels to be outside on a warm summer night.
Last night was the opening act today's headliner. Sunny and warm, I drove down to the mall at lunch, windows down, blaring the feel-good music of The Samples. They're a 90s band from Colorado that play kind of unpolished, jam band music that reminds me of what Sting might sound like if he had a side project back in the day. Pottery Barn was all shells, nautical decor, and bright patio dining umbrellas. I felt like I was in the Hamptons. And I've never even been to the Hamptons. Walking into Williams-Sonoma was, as usual, like walking into someone's house at dinner time, smelling something incredible, and knowing you can't stay. Today they were roasting pork with some heavenly seasoned Chipotle marinade. Alas, it was not ready yet. Instead I drooled over the pineapple margarita mix and the Ad Hoc Chocolate Frosting (chocolate knows no season in my book).
I'm telling you, it was really really hard to come back to work. To rub margarita salt in my wounds, somebody pulled up to me at the first stoplight riding...a classic green Vespa. So now I am imagining puttering on my scooter through the cobblestone villages of Tuscany or Provence, shopping for local art and fresh bread, cheese, and wine for dinner. However, doing simple, repetitive math in a window-less, climate-controlled office is a close second.
Summer is out there, I tell you. It's waiting for me. I've got my deck shoes on and I am ready to go. And it's only Wednesday. At this rate, I'll be rolling into work on Friday wearing a grass skirt and a sombrero.
"I'm not Mexican."
OOooooohhh so you believe that we should only celebrate the holidays that apply directly to us rather than celebrating the many cultures and people of this world. Hey, if you want to live that way, you go right ahead. Personally, I relish the opportunity to celebrate anything. I'm a celebrator. You don't need to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. You can be a Roman Catholic and still find beauty in Chanukah. You can be Republican and still go green for Arbor Day*. When in Rome, I say!
!FELIZ CINCO DE MAYO, MIS AMIGOS!
*While already celebrated by several states, Republican President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April to be National Arbor Day. We just missed it! Damn it!
Monday, May 03, 2010
I got my first review up on T-Bone's music blog. I spent about two hours last weekend digging for new music and finding some unbelievable stuff, like Joshua James.
Saturday night we went to see Stephen Kellogg (awesome) open for Needtobreathe (very disappointing). As usual, I made an ass of myself gushing over Mr. Kellogg at the merch table. "Your music cuts straight to my heart" was bad. I think I hit rock bottom with "I like to go running. I know a lot of people like to run to hip hop but your music really gets me going." Yes, I really said that. Did I mean everything I said? Yes, I did, so I shouldn't feel THAT bad, but still.....embarassing. This is what I do, which is why, seven times out of ten when presented with the opportunity to say thank you to an artist whose work has touched my life, I will opt not to. Anyway, he signed my poster "Thank you for the kind words," which is great, of course, as it will remind me of those words every time I see it. Sigh.
Then on Sunday was that Amoeba Garage Sale. It was intense. I met Bernie and T-Bone there and when we finally walked out, we realized we had been down there for two solid hours. I think I blacked out at one point. Still, it was worth it. CDs and vinyl for a buck each. And we're not talking Color Me Badd here. There was some great stuff in there. I don't even recall everything I brought home but here is a small sample:
Oscar Peterson Trio
Top Gun soundtrack (yeah, I said it)
Miles Davis & Gil Evans
Did I mention I found the Willie Nelson, Don Williams, and Ron Sexsmith I needed at Fingerprints last weekend? I haven't even looked at the flash drive filled with tunes that Bernie gave me. I'm neck deep, I tell ya, neck deep! Put your dancin' shoes on 'cause we're pushing straight on through 'til morning!
As if this were not enough, the James Taylor/Carole King album comes out tomorrow. Does this entry age the shit out of me even beyond the years I've actually lived? Probably. But hey, good music is good music. I'll come back with some indie emo-rock tomorrow.
Friday, April 30, 2010
There's really not any need for commentary on this. If you're with me, it speaks for itself. If there's anything I can say, let it just be that I wish there was a way to wrap up everything about this concept, this video, and all its participants....to wrap them up inside a tortilla of TMZ and Perez Hilton and set the whole fucking thing on fire.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
--Speaking of music, my buddy T-Bone has started a music blog and invited me to participate. Here's the link. It's basically new album and conert reviews. My first review should be up there shortly. As you can see, T-Bone is fairly prolific so I would imagine he'll be writing the bulk of the stuff. He did a great report on this year's Coachella Festival.
--Speaking of music and record stores, I was down in Long Beach Sunday and, of course, I stopped in Fingerprints. Who should I happen to run into there, but my cousin Ryan. It was really weird because as I was parking, I remembered that he lived down there now and I had a feeling I was going to see him. I went over and hung out with he and his girlfriend at their place and then we all met Cruiser and Jen at Joe Jost's for schooners, specials, billiards, and such jukebox classics as "Night Moves" and "Winds of Change." We had a grand ol' time. It was really cool because Ryan and I had been practically inseperable as kids, but only seen each other every other Christmas or so in our adult years. After Sunday, I have a good feeling that that is going to change. Family becoming friends to boot! Who knew?
--Does anyone else watch "Damages?" Man, what a friggin' great show. This season really blew me away, especially that season finale.
--Still playing tennis, though not as regularly as I'd like. I felt like I was making real progress and then came an unexpected two-week hiatus. Last night I was a mess. Very frustrating. From now on, if Juan can't play, I'm going to the court to hit against the wall by myself.
Well, that's all I got at the moment. Ya gotta ease back into these things.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Since The Masters started on Tuesday, I was really surprised and dismayed by the reception Tiger Woods seemed to be getting from the local fans as well as the media. He was quoted as saying how moved he was by the support he got from the fans out on the course, how great everybody was, etc. etc. Apparently the "get in the hole!" sheep were all too willing to start baa-ing for their favorite shepherd once again. And the media coverage seemed to slant the story as a comeback tale, neglecting to rehash any of the most unsavory details of his scandal. It's not that I think they should. We all know by now what the story is and we don't necessarily need to hear it reiterated for what factually amounts to a sports report. It's just that I am entertained by their choice not to do it since it has really become S.O.P. for most celebrity scandals. For example, if South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford were to donate $1 million to a local food bank, the coverage would still go something like:
"South Carolina Mark Sanford was in Columbia this morning to present a local food bank with a personal donation in the amount of one million dollars. Officials say the donation is the largest single donation they've ever received and will feed thousands of otherwise hungry and malnourished South Carolinans for as long as one year. Sanford has come under fire recently for committing adultery, disappearing to South America without notice to meet his mistress, and for using state funds to aid him in his affair."
So to see reporters, FEMALE reporters mind you, simply say how Tiger Woods was back on the golf course looking to repair his image and, hey, he shot a 4-under to boot and leave it at that was a little disheartening.
Now don't misunderstand me yet, because I sense you are about to. I am not getting on a high-horse and saying that Tiger Woods' personal life is any of my business or that he should not be allowed to go back to work because he committed adultery. I don't care what celebrities do in their personal lives. I truly don't. Obviously, cheating on your wife is a horrible thing and I don't want to make light of it, but Tiger's marriage is simply none of my damn business. So this is not about me judging him for the cheating. Who cares.
I will, however, be happy to pass a little bit of judgment based on the nature of his affairs, specifically the shit he allegedly said in his many text conversations with these mistresses. Have you read this stuff? Here is a link. Warning: it's extremely graphic. After reading this, I don't feel guilty for saying that it's a fucked up person that says these things to a woman, even one he's having a torrid affair with. This is not just dirty talk that pushes the envelope in the name of sexual excitement. This is sick, sick shit. This is someone who has some issues. I was wondering to myself, how could a person read these texts (which to my knowledge have not been disputed as false) and still head out to the course and say "Go Tiger! Go get 'em buddy!" I'm not saying they should go out there and heckle him or ridicule him. Personally, I wouldn't say anything at all. But, really, "Go Tiger"?
And then the Nike commercial came out. And then the Nike commercial parodies starting popping up. The humor and wit of these parodies and the enjoyment people seem to be getting out of them make me think the "Go Tiger" sheep are a minority and that there are still plenty of people out there that aren't sweeping his transgressions under their mental carpet.
P.S. As I type this, I forsee a huge hypocrisy flag being waved in my face. It's purple and gold in color and bears the name "Bryant" in white letters. To that I say, you definitely have a point. Kobe has never been my favorite Laker, but since the Colorado affair, I have rooted for him on the basketball court. I'd like to think that if these same texts had come from Kobe's phone, that I would not be able to root for him either. After all, like I said, it's not Tiger's cheating that turns me off to the point of not being able to seperate sports from personal life, it's the content of the texts, plain and simple. I believe if Kobe had said such things (to our public knowledge), that I would not be able to root for him. But you what, it's still fair to call me a hypocrite here. I can't say for sure that there is no trace of that in what I am saying.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Probability of actually visiting: 83.4%