Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Apply Directly To The TV

Obnoxious spokesnarrator: Head on, apply directly to the forehead! Head on, apply directly to the forehead! Head...on...apply directly to the forehead!

Me: Mute button, apply directly to the TV.

I don't remember why Elvis shot his TV, but I think that we should make whoever invented the mute button, an instant saint. This person, did the greatest service, ever, to humankind.

There Can Be Only One!

Sacrilege! Foul varlots! Don't maketh me quoth Christopher Lambert on thee (replete with slight garbled French accent)! There...can be only one!


Serenity Now, Serenity Now...

"Serenity now." Really, where does that mantra come from? I'm a little wound up on the job here, from being someone's verbal punching bag. Rather than sink to this person's level or go on a rant about rash people, let's watch this instead. A clip of one of the greatest man to ever pick up the sticks, sent to me by Nicole. The best friend of my best online friend.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Nominate To Replace Pluto As The Ninth Planet...

First, some fine artwork, courtesy of Planet Pooks.

Second, I nominate Pooks, to replace Pluto as the ninth planet. All you Texans, vote for Kinky, he couldn't do any worse than your last two governors. Mazel Tov!

Travelogue, Epilogue

I never knew what the word "epilogue," meant as a child, other than it seemed to be the fifth act in all Quinn Martin Productions shows. Most of you kiddies are too young to remember Quinn Martin shows in their first run or in repeats. Hell, most of you are too young to remember Quinn's offspring, Martha. She was on this channel called "MTV."

They showed music videos once. No, seriously. They showed music videos. What? You don't believe me?

Well, let's leave "Digression Town" and get back to the trip. The safe in our hotel room was too small and I wasn't sure that the thing wasn't layered with magnets. So I wound up schlepping the laptop everywhere we went. Usually when I carry it for more than ten minutes on the way to work, at work, and on the way home, I wind up with a pinched nerve in my neck.

This didn't happen during the entire trip. I believe it was because I use an entirely different set of muscles at work, as opposed those that I used on vacation. When I'm on vacation, my skin always clears up, too. Part of that is because my Mother-in-law makes sure that there is plenty of fruits and vegetables in the house. The rest of that is because there I'm not around the machinery and pollution that is present on the job, as well as the absence of stress.

I have found that I could live in Manhattan for the summer, seriously. The heat doesn't bother me...too much. I know my way around enough to get to the good restaurants in the Village, or around Broadway. Hell yeah, it's expensive, but San Francisco is not that far behind.

Procrastinator Jr. thinks it's just one big playground and he hasn't seen a lot to dissuade him from that opinion. He sees fifty times more homeless and crimes in the City than in the NY City, and that's no exaggeration. A lot of that is predicated on the fact that we will travel almost anywhere in San Francisco, but I don't know my way around the more marginal areas of Manhattan.

As of late, people in Manhattan tend to be friendlier than San Franciscans, when the fuck did that happen and why??? Is it because they have a higher native population than we do? And by "native," I mean people over thirty years of age that were born and raised in that city.

And for the first time in my life, I actually miss Manhattan. I wish I could describe in detail as to why, but it remains as intangible as the outer reaches of space.

On another note, to Angela, and all other fans of dragons and magical creatures:

The American Museum of Natural History will have an exhibition next year on mythical creatures.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

A Name Is A Name

I understand that this is an actual surname, I just don't understand why they didn't bother to change the name of this beverage, this side of 1950.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Travelogue V

So Thursday was back on the L.I.R.R. or (“Long Island Railroad” to da resta ya) to Planhassettdomashington. Way back in the day, they even had drinking cars, or so I saw in this really bad Paul Newman movie that had him carrying on with Joan Collins. There is a distinct lack of trash and the occasional upchuck or urine, unlike the train we have here that goes to the East Bay. Yet, Long Island doesn’t have a Borders or a Barnes and Noble in every town, like we do out here. Is there a correlation?

Draw your own conclusions. Actually, that‘s not representative of anything, so, merely draw exploding stick figures in meetings like Dubya does. That night we did the bucolic-thing which you have to wonder why that bothers me to be a homebody in the suburbs or in the country, as opposed to one in the city. Still, I cannot equate myself living a “bucolic life” without the “c-o-l-i-c.” I can’t handle the suburbs.

Let me jump off this rant before I send myself around the moon. We went to the second youngest sister’s house for a big party that Friday and all the sibs were there. The In-laws have eleven grandkids altogether, six girls and five boys. Ages thirteen to five, and my Father-in-law has a small rolodex to keep the birthdays straight.

Now, with the this many grandkids and the fact that we venture out there only once a year, means lots of pictures. So many pictures, in fact, that you see leopards, “not dead people,“ Haley Joe Osment. Flash, after flash, after flash. The neighbors ask, "was that lightning?" And someone says, "no, that was Write Procrastinator's Sister-in-law."

“Oh, come on, just one more picture!” You hear that about sixty times a party. One of my nephews birthdays falls right around our visit time, along with the patriarch of the family, who hit the eight decade mark like he does mayors. So everyone in the family got to experience just what it was like to be stalked by the paparazzi, only the stalkerazzi will not serve you two kinds of birthday cake.

My oldest niece and oldest nephew are taller than one of my sisters-in-law, as well as the Mother-in-law. I dare say they will pass me up in the next two or three visits.

Saturday was a day of mixed feelings, we didn’t want to leave, but we also had exceeded the three days like that quote about houseguests and fish. The flight was nicer on the way back because a man was nice enough to give up his seat so that we could all sit next together. I typed my Friday flash fiction on the plane instead of this last installment, so a few things have been lost forever to jetlag and the joys of unpacking.

See? Now I just recalled a big event just before I put this post up. As I’m walking through first class, I see none other than
Frank DeFord. You might have seen Mr. DeFord on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters” or about a billion other sports or news talk shows. He tried to get a daily sports newspaper going, called “The National” up around 1991 and it was a damn good paper. He got the best writings I’ve ever read out of this one reporter (who now works for a San Francisco paper), so I considered Mr. DeFord to be both a good editor and motivator. I told him as much as he gave me his autograph.

Think about the best sports reporters that you have in your town, then forget about him or her because they aren’t qualified to be Frank DeFord’s pencil caddies.

The flight back home was uneventful, save for the landing. I can say that I’m disappointed that no one applauded our landing which was outstanding under the circumstances. There was a fierce wind whipping up and that was reflected by the churning waters on San Francisco Bay, so I thought that the pilots didn’t do to bad a job. I’m not afraid to laugh by myself or make an ass out of myself, but I won’t applaud by myself. Go figure.

We took Super Shuttle back home and unfortunately, the people that got out of the van just before us, accidentally took one of our bags. Fortunately, they called and I remembered where they lived, so we exchanged bags. Not only that, I got to eat at the restaurant that I wanted to because it was the closest. Literally, a block away.

The Missus and Procrastinator Jr. went to the school picnic today, I slept through and I’m trying to adjust my clock back to graveyard, Pacific Standard Time. The bums, the drunk UCSF students and people speeding through my neighborhood have been kind enough to make all kinds of noise, at all hours of the day. “Be it ever so humble,” right?

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

They Call Her The Breeze, or F.F.F. #50

Statistically, for every three people murdered in the United States, two of the victims will personally know or be acquainted with their murderer. If you’re in a musical trio, or in a car pool, don’t look at one of your fellow musicians or commuters funny, or say the wrong thing. You don’t want to become another statistic.

Worse yet, more often than not, the system is set up so either the evidence must be more overwhelming than merely solid, to get a conviction. Or if there is a conviction, the punishment often, doesn’t fit the crime. So justice sometimes fails as a deterrent to both crime and murder.

It’s hard to feel safe as a woman in America, and I feel even less than safe because with my job, I have to move frequently. I did extensive research on this neighborhood before I even moved to this town, then I narrowed down the blocks that I found to be ideal. One house met my criteria and even looked picture perfect in the daytime.

At night? That was something entirely different. I found that there certain shadows that wouldn’t be cast out, no matter where I put my halogen lamps. When the sun went down and all the heat escaped to the attic, the house would moan and creak with the contractions of the wooden walls. The floors often sounded like someone was trying to sneak up on me, where there was no one to be found.

Amazingly, I was used to all this. This was my fifth move in as many years. It took me a few days to unpack and get situated, then two more to find the perfect jogging path. My chin-up bar, I kept in my bedroom closet, along with my free weights. After a week, I had to find a steady job to pay my bills. The job that should’ve been started, was at a standstill. It looked like it was going to take longer than I had anticipated.

I was always careful to jog in the same place, at the same time and stroll the same area at night. I decided to keep to myself and not socialize too much with the locals, because in the last town, that complicated my job. I practiced the few self-defense moves that I knew, who knows when they’ll come in handy?

It was an unseasonably hot evening that October, I had to open a few windows because the air was stagnating. I came out of the shower, all nice and relaxed. I slipped into a tee and some shorts, then I decided to sit in front of the living room window as a nice breeze was blowing against that side of the house.

As I flopped onto the couch, I realized that the center window was up higher than I had left it. I tensed, but before I could get up, I felt a sharp blade prick the left-side of my neck.

“Don’t scream…don’t move. Keep quiet and I won’t have to hurt you. If you understand me, say so, quietly.”

“Yes,” I whispered with a voice that sounded far more scared than I felt. I was actually quite calm.

“We’re going to go into the bedroom and you’re going to keep quiet. This will be over sooner than you think, if you don’t scream and you do exactly what I say.”

I took a deep breath, then I slowly got up. He had to shift the knife to keep it on me and I knew he would be leaning forward. I spun just as the knife went back a couple of inches and he stepped over the back of the couch with his right foot. He hesitated, they always do. His eyes went wide under his ski mask and he lunged forward with the knife.

I began with a simple aikido move using his own momentum and I turned his own knife back into him. His eyes went even wider as the blade sunk into his chest. I used another aikido maneuver to grab him by his shirt and he fell on his own blade with a loud gasp. I smiled at the ease of this night.

I went over to the alcove to pick up my phone and call 911, when he grabbed me by my ankle. He was begging me to call him an ambulance, while he tried to find the handle of the knife. I kept an eye on him as I took the phone as I walked into the kitchen, where I grabbed a dish towel.

I looked as concerned as possible when I stood over him and said, “try to hang on, the ambulance is on its way.”

He said, “thanks,“ just as he had successfully found the hilt of the knife.

The concern on my face melted into another smile, and then, by God, I killed the son of a bitch. With the dish towel, I pushed down on the pommel of the knife and drove it in as far as it would go. I cursed myself for getting sloppy, mentally. If you saw as many horror movies as I had seen in my lifetime, you would know that the very first thing you do when the villain is down, is finish him.

I left the towel on top of him and went into the kitchen. I opened a drawer with my right foot, then grabbed one baggie, then another with my toes. One baggie was for the dish towel and the other was to open the back door, where I had a stash spot for any unplanned evidence in the yard. Then I worked myself up into hysterical fit and called the police.

With these small towns, it’s always open and shut with them, but I always like to make sure by leaving as little evidence as possible. The police interviewed me, taped off my house as a crime scene, while they put me up in a local motel. It never takes more than two days and at the end of the two days, I tell them that I simply have to move as soon as possible because I don’t feel safe in their town.

The easiest part is finding the paroled rapist and getting him to rise to the bait (though this one took longer than most). The hardest parts are the identity thefts that I have to perpetrate to protect my own identity. As well as wiping away all fingerprints and traces of me in the home before I move on.

No Honey Bunny here, Quentin. JJ rocks the Flash Fiction. He asked for a story containing the sentence, “and then, by God, I killed the son of a bitch.”

Friday, August 25, 2006

Travelogue IV

Before I get into the bounty that is Carmine's, let me tells youse about da best non-rollercoaster ride dis side of da countree. That's right, a good old New York taxicab. Buy some rubber shorts or live your fear behind, it's all out of your hands anyway.

The first time I rode in a NYC taxi, I couldn't believe that the taxi we rode in, along with two others, all simultaneously made a left-hand turn into the same narrow one way street. As of our last trip, I've learned to just go with the flow and to leave my eyes open. You see, in Italy, they know what they're doing with their near misses and until last year, I realized that the NYC cabbies know what they're doing too.

If I could liken it to anything, I would liken it to "near-miss bumpercars" or "Super Chicken (not the cartoon)," because somebody always backs down at the very last second before they trade paint. And if you disagree with my rollercoaster analogy, all you need is a street that goes slightly up or down. Because the cabbie's gonna hit sixty in the middle of the night and you will either go airborne, or you will bottom out.

Just a block from the Museum of Natural History, an NYC bus pulled into the bus stop sideways, with its rump blocking the lane. That's illegal, of course, but buses lose time when they have to pull back out into traffic and no one will let them. Not to mention that there's isn't a cop or parking control officer in the world that will cite the buses for it.

So there we were, stuck in the intersection and the bus was blocking both lanes of our side of the two-way, four lane street. Waiting to make a left turn into the intersection we were currently stuck in, was a cab and he occupied the left hand lane of his direction. Behind that cab were some more taxis that were rapidly approaching.

Without a second thought, our driver backed up a few inches and he drove around the cab that was waiting to make a left hand turn. Of course we were going the wrong way in the right hand lane of traffic traveling in the opposite direction and the approaching cabs speed up as if to finish us off, once and for all. It was something out of the car chase scene of
To Live and Die In L.A. Only, it was in Manhattan and none of us were moaned like a wussy, ala John Pankow. Hell, Procrastinator Jr. and I cheered the driver on.

Good stuff and cheaper than any Six Flags or Paramount attraction.

So after we hit Starbuck's, it was off on the subway to
Carmine's, where the food is good and plentiful. It's right off Times Square and there's always a long line, for good reason. Not only is the food excellent, they let you stay and enjoy it, unlike other restaurants. You see, when you serve such monster portions, you can't actually roll everybody out of there. So, they actually let you digest your food.

We had garlic bread, baked clams and calamari fritti to start with. Let me tell you how good the calamari was, my nieces and nephews ate it too...of course we didn't tell them that it was squid or we'd have problems. Then, penne ala ragu and it was real ragu. Veal, pork and beef cooked for at least three hours.

Penne ala vodka with vodka and cream. So perfect and succulent that you didn't need to add parmasean cheese. Spaghetti and meatballs for the kids, with a porterhouse for Procrasinator Jr. because he didn't like the other dishes. Now, let me mention that this is "family style" dining, which means huge portions on a platter which everyone shares. In Italy, this would be "home style," as opposed to trattoria style, where the portions are not three times the size of American portions, as the former is.

A great meal and my brother-in-law, Frank, used his athletic prowess to wrestle the check away from us before we had the chance. Not to mention that he instructed the waiter beforehand not to give it anybody but him.

Everybody went home to the Island or Jersey, leaving the Missus, Procrastinator Jr. and me to take in Times Square. We hit Sbarro's because Jr. didn't like the blackened part of the steak, then to Jamba Juice as we always do, because Jr. doesn't like his veggies.

When we checked out the next day, the same non-hustling, hustler bell boy was still there (how's that lint filling your pocket, son?), but we got a new indifferent desk person. She didn't say "hi" or "bye," or even "thank you." What, is there someone with a gun pointed at them, ready to plug them in the gut if they're nice? Or will they be beaten to a pulp after their shift is over?

To provide a contrast, even at Burger King on Eight St. they said thank you. If the so-called "lowliest" fast food worker who are famous for indifference elsewhere, can say "thank you," why can't some in the so-called hospitality industry do the same?

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Number One, Again

First things first, Job was a wussy, compared to Tribe. He has more patience than any biblical figure, that's for damn sure. He has his own writing to get done, a blog and he provides both the professional and the neophyte a venue for their works. So when a goofball like me gums up his day, he soldiers on, straightens me out, works around my idiocy, and posts it. If the roles were reversed, I would've put the offender's work in the circular file.

Yet, here it is. A little ditty I call "Number One, Again." Thanks again, Tribe. The world's most patient editor and publisher.

Second, thanks to the Missus; by keeping me awake, I had no choice but to write.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Travelogue III

So here we are in the city that never sleeps. The city that’s so nice, they named it twice. Have you met anyone that calls it the “Big Apple” with a straight face? C’mon, be honest. There is no adult this side of 1990 who would in all seriousness, call it the “Big Apple.” I’ve heard “Big” along with all other kinds adjectives and expletives, but never with “apple” following the word “big.”

We hit Penn Station running…well, more like crawling because three hours of sleep can take this Procrastinator so far. We usually stay the at the Sheraton Manhattan, but they jacked up the rates through the roof, so we had to find another hotel in the NYC with a swimming pool. I’m taking the coward’s way out and not mentioning this hotel by name, but it rhymes with “byline” and it's on the edge of the neighborhood formerly known as “Hell’s Kitchen.”

They’ll figure out, but let’s hope they don’t figure out that “Write Procrastinator” and I are the same person, we’ll (family three, not royal "we") probably wind staying here next year. The hotel’s exterior is okay, but the lobby looks like the contestants of pizza eating contest threw up all over the lobby of a Best Western.

The desk people don’t say “hi.” Not to me, not to anyone. I took it as a “slight” slight, when they said, “which one of you has the reservations?” without so much as “hi” or anything resembling a greeting. No big deal, I figured, New York hospitality. But sure as we went on to our room, the people behind us were greeted in the same manner, or lack of manners.

The bellboy was equally as friendly. He saw that we had only two bags and he wouldn’t even show us to the back elevators, much less to our rooms. He said “go right, and then go left.” We weren’t sure what he meant since the elevators weren’t exactly in plain sight the first time you pass by them. You could easily walk past them and on to the next alcove, which we did.

So we went back and he said, “I told you. To the left and to the right.” He was much more interested in some Germans that had eight bags between two people. If the saying in Italy holds true, he got squat from the Germans, because they are allegedly very frugal when they go abroad. On the other hand, I would’ve given him a minimum of five dollars and a maximum of eight, depending on the attitude and whether he gave us relevant information. Oh well, more money for the family and pocket of lint for him.

The room itself was very nice and the bathrooms were better than the Sheraton. The view was pretty bad, a decrepit, gray monstrosity of an apartment high rise that looks like the horrid East German architecture that I’ve always read about. Still, you can’t beat the price or the location because right across the street, is “Desi Deli.” Samosas and chicken curry to die for, man! It’s all good because the Indians and Pakistanis eat there, and like I always say, “eat where the natives to that particular cuisine eat.”

Good stuff, cheap for the NYC and unfortunately, in walking distance. I got a bad case of the “hungries” (herb-free munchies) and I hit the place up. Unfortunately, when I thought I was getting “samosas,” it wasn’t just “samosas” that I got, but chana masala as well. That’s two meals in one, or a full-on dinner instead of a light snack. I cannot live within five blocks of this restaurant or I would weigh three-hundred, easy.

So Tuesday afternoon we were on our way to the Nintendo Center because it’s always on Procrastinator Jr.’s itinerary and on the way over, I was teasing the Missus with Papi Chulo talk in Spanglish. So she ignores that and while we get smoothies for the three of us at the Seattle Café, right by Worldwide Plaza, she nuzzles me. I say to her, “mira, now you wanna talk to me? Why didn’t you want to talk to me before?”

She said, “because I’m not a holler-back girl.” Heh-heh-heh.

So Wednesday early morning, three hours into sleep and she wakes me up again! Three nights in a row, I didn’t mind so much because at least this time, we had air-conditioning that we can run all night. She was basically sleepwalking and we talked it out. I hope it all works out tonight.

Wednesday afternoon, the Museum of Natural was the fun site and we met the Missus’ youngest Sister and our Sister-in-law, who is the wife of the Missus’ only brother. That’s five kids in all. In tow, ages ten to five and all with better behavior than any adult we crossed paths with. Even though I slept until 11:30am which added up to more than any time in the previous two weeks, I was in a zombie-like daze. We shuffled around the museum, then caught the 4:30 show of “Cosmic Collision,” a film narrated by Robert Redford.

This was a 3-D planetarium film, good stuff or what little I saw of it was good. I was out like a light after the first five minutes and the only time I woke up, was when there was a eight-five decibel collision celestial bodies. I loaded up twice on caffeine on our way to dinner, a bottle of Frappucino at a corner store, then at the Starbuck’s on 81st and Broadway.

Let me just say that all of your that frequent that establishment, either you were misrepresented yesterday, or you are the cheapest bunch of tightwads on the planet. The staff? Fast, friendly, efficient, and they get no tips! They went through the five people ahead of me with ease, took my order patiently (with me hesitating throughout because I was sure I had the order of one Sis-in-law wrong), and I looked down to the tip box. What did I see? One dollar and odd change.

Now, let me play Devil’s advocate and say that:
A) Maybe the staff was using the tip box as change.
B) Maybe the staff had just cleaned out the tip jar.
C) Maybe the customers of the Starbuck’s on 81st and Broadway are a bunch of cheap, unappreciative idiots.

I tipped large, because I’m representing the Yay Area and I called out everyone in that establishment, ‘cause they're fuckin’ cheap and they don’t realize how good they got it. I've waited so long at some coffee establishments, that I had to shave again when the order was ready.

Then, when my youngest Sister-in-law explained to me that I goofed up her order, I went back in and they exchanged my order with no problem nor did they add anything that wasn’t supposed to be in the cup. Then I called out all of the customers of the Starbuck’s on 81st and Broadway, AGAIN! I even told the cat that was standing right by the tip box that it was "empty, what are you doing? C’mon man, they work hard for you! Fill it up, man!”

Customers of the Starbuck’s on 81st and Broadway, whatcha’ gonna do? Show me that Californians are wrong? That New Yorkers understand that hard work could at least be rewarded a quarter or two? Prove me wrong? Not likely, because y’all too CHEAP!


On the next travel posting, the culinary uniqueness and bounty that is Carmine’s.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Travelogue II

There's not a lot to say, other than that I've been missing out on all the fun because I can't sleep for shit. The Missus keeps waking me up in the middle of the night (no, not for that, we're staying at the In-laws, remember?) and then the heat keeps me awake. Not to mention I don't have the sounds of traffic, sirens, bums pushing shopping carts full of bottles and cans (and just clap your hands, Beck), drunken UCSF students, and the occasional Harley to lull me to sleep.

It's all crickets in this one horse town. Actually to borrow from one of my screenplays, it's not even a one horse town. They have to go to the next town over to borrow a donkey, just to call it a one horse town. They jacked the property taxes up all the way around, then the township permits only one cell phone tower for the entire area.

This means no wireless Internet for my computer unless I go up to the Starbucks at the train station. Mind you, this Starbucks is so small that it would give an ant, claustrophobia and carrying the laptop up there would give my neck a righteous ache.

Yesterday I found out the hard way that I didn't pack enough underwear. Okay, adapt to your surroundings, Procrastinator. The Mother-in-law took Procrastinator Jr. to the pool over in the next township, so I had no ride. I tried to find a men's clothing store, but they don't have any within walking distance on the North Shore.

I found a J.C. Penny's five townships over in the Yellow Pages and then I tried to call for a cab...

"We don't have any cabs in town, at the moment," claimed the only cab company listed in this town...twice. When the Mother-in-law got back, she said my best bet was the Stop And Shop some four blocks away. I get there and all they have is "tighty whities."

Tighty whities...ladies and gentlemen, contrary to what you learned in the history books, the Communists have won. When you don't have a choice in underwear and democracy is supposed to be all about choices...instead of tighty whities sticking to your backside in the NY heat. The Commies got the last laugh.

Then when I check out, it's a self-checkout. This goes against my roots as a checker and my union roots. I wanted to sabotage this abomination to man, but I didn't want to hold up the next person who didn't ask for that. Then, because it's an automated machine, I got carded because I was buying a hard ice tea that was mixed with hard lemonade.

The one person they have running the front, looks at my California driver's license. Then she flips it over. Then she flips it over again. She looks at it from just about every angle while flipping it. Now, I'm over forty and I look about thirty-two on a good day, but mind you, I haven't had any sleep. So I am looking my age, and then some.

Her flipping my license wasn't going to change the state of the license itself, geographically or metaphysically. That's right, one more half-turn and it will turn into a New York driver's license. But be careful because if you do a full turn, it will turn into a rabid, morbidly obese goat.

She gave it back after six revolutions, but the picture of me on the license was undoubtedly sea-sick by then...I was merely annoyed. The hard ice tea was just bad and it took three bottles to get the buzz of one Smirnoff Ice...once again, the Commies have won if you need three malt beverages to get the effect of one.

Now it's off to the NYC with three hours of sleep, but I should fit because everybody there is crabby like they've had three hours and five minutes of sleep.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Traveloogie, Er, Travelogue

By the time I edit this first chapter, I will do so from “the land of leaf blowers and bake ziti.” That’s known to you as “Long Island,” known to rappers as “Strong Island” (Chuck D. comes from Roosevelt Field, yo) known to my in-laws as “Lon-guh I-lan-duh.” I call it “the land of leaf blowers” because regardless of the season, someone, somewhere in every township, has a leaf blower going. Never mind the fact that it isn’t fall or there isn’t enough clipped grass to justify the two gallons of diesel or the cumulative loss of hearing that these contraptions cause, run it for half an hour more.

Oops, I missed a flower petal, looks like I’ll have to make another trip down to the gas station.

Maybe there’s a state-wide ordinance banning rakes, what do I know? Then, if it’s snowing? It becomes a “snow-blower.”

No it won’t take the place of a real snow blower and it won’t be effective, but it makes this really cool sound.

I don’t think it’s a question of trying to compensate for shortcomings like buying a Corvette, they just like the terrific racket that the things put up and (cue Robert Duvall) “the smell of diesel in the morning.” Don’t mind me, I’m just jet-lagged. No worries, go ahead and run it for another four consecutive hours, I’ll just sleep when I die.

It is also “the land of baked ziti” because that is what everybody feeds me, regardless of their ethnicity. With Italians, I can understand this. The Irish and Polish in-laws? They go to a particular place, because they don’t want to cook for the score of people that come to pay their respects to the Missus and Procrastinator Jr. where ever we go on the Island.

But my Korean sister in-law? I guess she got that from the family. I imagine if I were to visit some Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Chinese, or Kenyans, they would give me baked ziti, too. My fear is that this will spread westward to the five boroughs of New York City. If I venture to the Village for Jamaican food…

Waiter: What will you be ‘avin’ dis time, Mistah Procrassteenator?
Me: Um, jerk chicken, please?
Waiter: No, mon.
Me: Escoviche and bammy?
Waiter: Not ay chance, mon.
Me: Peas and rice?
Waiter: Not ‘appenin’.
Me: Meat pies?
Waiter: No, mon.
Me: Jeez, well, give me whatever today’s special is, then.
Waiter: All right mon, baked ziti it is.
Me: You’re kidding, right?
Waiter: No mon, ‘tis da latest t’ing.
Me: What’s so Jamaican about baked ziti?
Waiter: Instead ‘a oregano, we put soma-da ganja, mon.

Is there a farm somewhere just west of the Hamptons that has baked ziti trees? Is there some secret tax break for restaurants that serve the stuff? Why is that from Queens, to all the way out to Shoreham, that there is this abundance of ziti?

When it’s not fresh made, pasta, more or less is pasta. Only with the cooking times and dishes require certain ingredients will pastas really vary, but what the hell is wrong with lasagna? Or baked spaghetti? Why not baked penne or macaroni?

The plane take-off from SFO was okay, Bob and Doug McKenzie. And by the time we were over the Fed Ex hanger, the fog had thickened. By the time we were over Brisbane, all we could see was the 101. There was just a trace of street lights poking through the fog when we flew over Procrastinator Jr.’s best friends house just north of Candlestick Park and by the time we got over San Francisco, it was just one big, illuminated blanket of cotton. Only the lights of the television tower on Mt. Sutro were visible.

The fog was gone just as we banked right, a few thousand feet past the Bay Bridge. I had my bearings pretty well until we got over the Central Valley. Procrastinator Jr. mentioned that lights below looked “just like a computer chip or something.” The Fresno and Stockton areas are like irregularly spaced lighted grids at night, or perhaps excess special effects footage from “Tron” or “Hackers.”

Nary a cloud was to be found once we got past the Bay Area and when we got past the Central Valley, there were hardly any lights at all. A light here and there from the house or farm out in the middle of nowhere. I could liken it to a fringe constellation in a pool of infinite darkness. Once you finally see a town or city after you’ve been in the black, Neil Young, you see that city planners have an odd sense of humor.

There, the central streets laid out in a grid pattern and the grid is occasionally broken up by the topography and/or rivers. Once you get out of the middle part of the town or city, you have streets that look like glowing intestines and lighted fish droppings that descend from one of those florescent fish from the deep. Then, both in the middle and outskirts of town, you have these streets that cut at such sharp angles that they both defy logic and hurt the eyes.

The city planners of America have also made sure that each town has at least one airport with landing lights that have to run on different patterns and sequences than the last town, as well as a baseball park that can be seen from 18,000 feet up.

My size forty-eight shoulders in the seats of the 757, gave Houdini and all contortionists a run for their money. At some point soon, I want to make enough money that I can fly the family first class for all the trips of two or more hours. Yet the one consolation that I could take was that on this crate of an airplane, the first class has one only restroom and that there had to be that one person that fouls up the toilet (so badly that even flies have to flip a coin as to whether they want to land on it or not) had polluted the single toilet beyond recognition.

This four-cell battery for this laptop ain’t cutting it. I wanted to spontaneously buy a twelve-cell at the same chain that the Missus bought my laptop at, but they don’t stock it in any of their stores, except online. So all the writing and movie watching that I wanted to do for this flight got sidetracked. Here’s a toast of Amaretto and orange juice to hindsight, salute!

The clouds were with us with a vengeance over Ohio and Pennsylvania, dark gray uncombed cotton blankets. Some of the formations looked like gigantic versions of the world’s hardest golf courses. All rough and no green, with a par three-hundred hole way down on the other end. The landing into JFK was a little stressful with the left and right wheel rear wheels alternately bouncing, like some drunk trying to find his footing when getting up from a bus bench.

The Parent In-laws live in Plan-hassett-dome-ashington. You’ve all seen it (them) in most of the exterior and car shots in “Meet The Parents,” which I did in real life way back in 1991, sans lie-detector tests. We even had our East Coast reception at the same restaurant that was in an establishing shot in the film, “Louie’s.”

I call it “Plan-hassett-dome-ashington” because even though I’ve been here over ten times, I still can’t tell where one town begins and the other ends when I go through the main thoroughfares. What doesn’t help is that I haven’t driven since September of 1991, as well as the fact that no one ever takes the same route going anywhere. Whether it’s the Mother-in-law, the Sibs-in-laws, the livery driver, or the taxis. Then compound that with the sameness of the North Shore Long Island and the fact that unlike California, there isn’t one mountain or a decent sized hill where you can get your bearings.

I do know that none of my in-laws will fulfill one of my main ambitions of the past ten years, which is to be driven to Hicksville where I will serenade the denizens of the unfortunately named town with a bullhorn amplified rendition of “Turkey In The Straw,” ala Mel Blanc imitating a buck-toothed derf.

Residents of Hicksville, you’ve had fair warning! En garde!

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Hair Of The Pill or F.F.F. #49

I was late for an appointment in the City. I should've already been there an hour ago and the train had just pulled into Berkeley. I just dry-swallowed the pill that I take to keep my disease in check, but it's efficacy was in question. It could be likened to allergy pills in that eventually you build a tolerance to the stuff and then the sneezes will come at the most inconvenient times. The doors opened and I was blindsided by a Yuppie jerk, wham, in the chest. I almost spat the pill back up, just catching it with the skin of my teeth like this idiot that I saw on TV as a kid who used to catch bullets, only in reverse.

I winced and made for the door when the Yuppie grabbed me.

"There! Don't go on there! Vampires on a train! There are!"

Now that I had a second chance to study him, the guy was as off as his sentences were. His clothes were about twelve years out of style, his shirt was misbuttoned, his face had smudges of God knows what on it and then, his smell hit me in the worst way. This guy was a "5150," which is the designation under the California Penal Code for someone who is criminal insane and the label that those in the law enforcement profession, use for nut jobs.

I've seen his type before. They lose their jobs or their minds, in either order. Then they still "go to work" with their briefcases filled with old newspapers or drawings and scribblings that reflect how far off the deep end they've gone.

I ignored him and stepped on to the car, he grabbed me and pleaded, "no! There are vampires on there!"

I rubbed my five o'clock shadow and told him calmly, "my father is Italian and my mother is Korean. With the dishes that they taught me how to cook, I eat at least a bulb of garlic a day. If anything, the vampires should be afraid of me."

The doors closed and he tried to pry them open as they train pulled away. I was going to laugh at him or flip him off, but I figured the guy is in enough torment from his own mind, and it would do no good to compound that. It was just before lunch so there wasn't a lot of people on the train, though some of the passengers wouldn't have to work that hard to pass for monsters on Halloween.

There was a man in a suit that was tuxedo-like and his hair was all too slicked back. He had so much stuff in his hair, I could've turned him upside down at the next stop and he would've slid out of the train, despite the carpet. He definitely would've been a "Dapper Dan Man" if such a product actually existed, but I imagined that he had used a whole jar of gel to get that effect. I saw him eyeing a bike messenger in such a way that he definitely wasn't looking at the bicyclist's neck nor was it his blood that he was after.

Then there was a Goth chick. So pale that she was almost translucent and her hair was dyed-pitch black to match her makeup and clothes. The empty look behind her eyes and the snarl on her lips made her seem more zombie than vampire. Then there was a tall cat sitting right behind with scars all over his face. I imagined that he was in an accident and that he probably went through a window. If you painted him green and pulled the discs that he had through his earlobes down and fashioned them into bolts, you would have Frankenstein.

Then there were the real life, aspiring monsters and you could see it their eyes. Cats on their way to job interviews and their only ambition in life is to be like Ken Lay, only, they want to get away with it. I sat as far away from them as possible, the stench of their twisted souls smelled worse to me than that crazy man.

I got off at Glen Park Station and caught a bus to my appointment, a decrepit house on other side of University Mound, a small neighborhood where most of the streets were named after universities. The gate was wide open to the house with the tunnel entrance and the tunnel was dark, though I had no problem seeing with such little light. I guess the locals had figured out a long time ago not to come in there for in that darkness, two Afghan Wolfhounds stood guard.

They had decided that I wasn't a threat before I even passed the threshold of the gate, though they were clearly annoyed at me by the fangs that they bared. I climbed to the top of the stairs and stopped. There was no doorbell, no door handle, no knocker or door, for that matter. I knocked on three walls that faced me, then the wall in front of me, lit up.

There on the wall were lights showing all phases of the moon and the wall slid open. A small Australian Aborigine stood before me, flossing his teeth.

"Hi, sorry that I'm late. I-"

He held a finger to his lips to shush me, then he flossed some more. He took a piece of food from the floss and flicked it at me.

"You're not sorry, mate, you're fucked."

"I had a relapse last night and it got involved. I couldn't get here any sooner than-"

"You know who I am, you know what I can do. You piss-fart around with my time and you wind up buggered. Plain and simple enough, bye."

The wall slid closed and the dogs growled. I turned around slowly and sidled past them.

I don't know how long I wandered around the City in despair, but it was dark by the time I got back to Berkeley. I had a feeling that all the pills in the world wouldn't prevent a relapse and that my last hope slid closed with that wall. As I cut through a dark wooded area on the fringe of the campus, I heard a twig snap, then footsteps.

"The train, you got. The vampires, they didn't get you."

It was that Yuppie Bum and he had a box cutter in each hand.

I started shaking and my forehead broke out into a cold sweat. "Yeah, I got away from them," I said, my voice fluctuating like a guitarist was using it as a tremolo bar.

"Then, must really be good, you. There's no way anyone is that good."

He took a step closer to me and I visibly shook.

"What are you doing with those in your hand?"

"These? What, these? Oh, no. I'm houses. I'm cutting houses for my friends."

He motioned downward with one of the box cutters toward some refrigerator boxes that he was making into cardboard cabins with. My shaking, amongst other things, was past the point of no return. He looked at me with shock and pity, then he quickly put the box cutters away and out his hands as if to assure he me that he didn't mean any threat.

"I thank you for the warning, but there was nothing to really be scared about on that train."

He put a hand on my shoulder to console me, my eyes bulged.

"No, your warning wasn't necessary, because vampires don't exist."

A growl crept up from my belly and as I saw the fear in his eyes, I knew that he had an inkling that my disease had a little more to it than the common cold.

The timbre in my voice deepened as I muttered, "now, werewolves? That's something else altogether..."

He won't rest until the entire flash fiction genre is treated with the same respect as all other genres. He wanted a story with the phrase "vampires on a train" in it. If you've got this far, you can bet that it will get even better over at

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

New York Women Are Like That, And I've Been Tagged

She didn't send flowers or a card. She didn't take me out to dinner or even kiss me...sigh. New York women are like that. I swear, just like the Missus.

Katie took my meme virginity, so...

"10 years ago..."

Procrastinator Jr. was the most fun baby in the world and proof that babies are the best therapy ever, for parents. He'd be up at seven in the morn', the Missus would sleep in while I changed his diapers. I'd wash up, give him a bottle of formula and just melt with the bliss of parenthood. That was pretty much one of the only things that went right back then.

"5 years ago..."

I had one screenplay that was about to be used to line bird cages at this
place, but the opus was almost done and it was a time of optimism. The three of us also missed being on the airplane side of 9/11 by days, only in mathematical theory.

"one year ago..."

No life changing or family events that I can remember.

"5 songs I know all the words to..."

Nothing. I remember about 95% of "Kashmir," "Fashion," "When The Levee Breaks," "Brass In The Pocket," and, oh, I know! "Rockafeller Skank," that's easy enough!

"5 snacks I love and wish I could eat"

Lobster Roll
Wing Sing's chicken curry over chow mein
Irving Street Cafe's California Burger
Irving Cafe's (different restaurant) Meatball Bhan Mi
Samosas or sambusas

"5 places I'd run away to..."

La Spezia
Anywhere in the Emilia Romagna countryside

"5 things I'd never wear..."

A tie. Try to put one on me and you'll get a fistfull.
Bell Bottoms.
A shirt with a butterfly collar.
Women's clothes. If that's what you're into, I don't begrudge that. But it's not my thing.
A wife beater. I don't have the physique for it at the moment.

"5 favorite tv shows... I have so many, vintage and new."

"High Incident." A "Hill Street Blues" for my generation, that was set in the San Fernando Valley.
"Andy Richter Controls The Universe."
"The Tick," either version.
"The Sopranos."
Any anime that isn't girly like "Sailor Moon."

"5 greatest joys..."

A kiss from the Missus.
My son when he's happy.
The Missus when she's happy.
Late night speeding.
A three picture deal.

"5 favorite toys...."

My laptop.
The XBox 360.
Our car.
I plead the fifth on the last two.

I hate to tag someone else, mostly because I don't want to exclude someone like I've been excluded, but...

The Missus

Y'all are tagged, especially the Missus because now she will actually have to update her blog (heh-heh-heh).

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Monday, August 14, 2006

I Want To Flip Out Like A Ninja

Your cat might be able to rock, but can he rank and skank? This morning, someone had a link to this, but I can't remember who because I hit about forty sites a day. Thanks to them, whoever they are.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

That Akward Stage In Life

Procrastinator Jr. is at that akward stage in life...too big and too tall to go on the smaller rollercoasters, and unwilling to go upside down. We went to Six Flags Marine World today, the one place on Earth where robbery is legal. Fifteen dollars for parking, $3.50 for bottled water, seven for two go kart tickets, etc... I could go on, but I can barely type over the sound of my wallet screaming in terror.

Speaking of akward, remember how someone you knew back in the day had a dog that when it got excited or happy, it would, aroused? Well, we've known the Marine World walrus since Procrastinator Jr. was three and he always comes up to the glass to say "hi" to the kids. Today, he turned upside down and clapped his flippers against the plexiglass. He was real excited. Then, he got a little excited south of the waistline.

I got Procrastinator Jr. out of there. Though I didn't think the plexiglass would break, I didn't want to explain the situation to him at the time because I was laughing (with a hint of embarassment). And it's a good thing that plexiglass is strong, this wasn't your aunt's Chihuahua or Pomeranian wanting to hump your leg, but a creature that will reach almost two tons and fourteen feet in length.

My day was also filled with left lane bandits. Those on the way to and from Vallejo that believed that they were trapped in the movie "Speed," only in reverse. They couldn't go over 50 MPH or their car would blow up. Atn the bumper cars, though I managed to avoid them for the most part. Procrastinator Jr. did get caught in a couple of pile-ups where GROWN ADULTS got their bumper cars sideways all by themselves, then the adults spent the better part of the ride trying extracate themselves, to no avail.

And finally, those who spun their go karts out and they qualified for the worst drivers ever. These are de-tuned go karts, folks. The most neutral-handling of all rear-engine vehicles with the most accurate non-power steering you will find. For Chrissakes, the putt-putt engines make them go slower than a snail in a glue trap.

If you spin one of these go karts out and you weren't hit by some kid doing his junior version of NASCAR bump-drafting, then you should turn your license in to the DMV, period. You don't deserve to be on any road, much less a go kart track.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

This Post Is Exclusively For The Press

I'm tired of the reporters calling me at all hours of the day. I'm sick of the stalkerazzi staking out my apartment from every side and every angle. This will be the only time that I will ever comment on this incident, so here we go:

First, outside of being in transit through LAX, I haven't been to Los Angeles since 1996.

Second, I am not a "biter."

Third, I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party.

Fourth, I am not, nor have I ever been, a kinkajou.

Fifth, my doctor insists that I maintain a skank-free diet, so you know it wasn't me.

Stop calling me, stop emailing me. Don't throw pebbles or kittens at my window. And, don't take my picture or I will go off on you like some Frankenstein-like genetic combination of Sean Penn and Alec Baldwin.

You up in the tree with the Nikon and the lense the size of a midget, I've got your "Baby Luv" right here, pal!

Go bother Marv Albert or something.

Snow And Sacrifice F.F.F. #48

This is why I cleaned floors for forty-six years?”

Even though he was passed out, Jason heard the cold, metallic voice all too clearly. His right eye fluttered open and his lips trembled. His head that was hanging off the edge of the abandoned couch, flew into the upright position like someone had attached cables to his ears and gave him a jump start from beyond.

He looked up and down the dark alley that looked like it was covered in dusty, ashen cotton. The darkness, the garbage and soot of the city, gave the snow that complexion. Jason couldn’t find the owner of the voice, nor did he want to. It made him feel even colder than a swirling February wind coming the wrong way off of Lake St. Clair, and it ruined the good high that he had going. The good high that kept his mind off of the fact that he stole a twelve-year old girl’s cell phone to get this fix in the first place.

“Whoever said that, must have been using a speaker,” Jason giggled and mumbled. “No one in their right mind would be out here right now. They would have to be an Eskimo or twice as high as me.”

He sniffed, not from the cold, but from the prospect of facing another Detroit winter as a worthless junkie. His grandmother and mother wanted so much more for him. He did too, until he fell in with the wrong crowd and after that, he would fall down all day in trying to get his next fix. Jason had run out of veins to tap and his mother ran out of patience. She threw him out a year ago and his grandmother died the year before that, on her way to the pharmacy to pick up her heart medicine.

Jason couldn’t get comfortable on the couch and his mood changed from sad to livid. He was supposed to be the first person to graduate college in his family and he didn’t even have enough money to buy a loaf of day old bread from the bakery. He really got angry when he mulled it over and figured out that the cell phone he had traded for a bad batch of skag, had both a camera and blue tooth.

“Trey ripped me off. I could’ve got a cheap hotel room off of that” he groaned. Jason shifted, tossed and turned until he got as comfortable on that couch as he could get. A light snow commenced and the flakes melted on his face. He imagined the snow was his grandmother caressing his hair like she did when the world was simple and right, then something tangled in his short curls.

Jason tried to get up, but the unknown pulled his hair and his head back down on the couch. He looked up wide-eyed at the withered and taut skeletal face hovering above him. The corpse pointed a gray brown finger at him, then slapped him across the head. Jason tried to run again, but was yanked by the hair even harder and slapped twice this time.

Jason tried to scream, but his vocal cords were as frozen as the rime forming on the dirty snow. He tried to pull the hand off of his hair, but hands flinched with revulsion when he touched it.

“Don‘t pretend that you didn‘t hear me boy! Is this is why I cleaned floors for forty-six years?”


“Is this why I left Arkansas? Is this why I changed bedpans? Why I change urine soaked sheets? Why I wiped the stinkiest-”

“Stinkiest is not a word, grandma-”

“Shut up!”

“I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s a wor-”


“Don’t you interrupt! Why I wiped the stinkiest, foulest, more putrid than a pot of chitins left out all summer long, crustiest, butts at the old folk‘s home, just so you could waste your life?”

Jason couldn’t believe it. Here was his grandmother, feeding worms for two years and four miles away from her coffin, yelling at him. She was so desiccated that she had no eyes, how did she find her way here? She was so rotted, that there was no way that she could have any vocal chords, yet he could hear her all too clearly.

“How many jobs did I work every week, to put food in your belly and clothes on your back?”

“Three grandma.”


“I didn’t hear, didn’t I teach you not to mumble?!”

“Yes, grandma! Three.”

“How many vacations did I take?”

“None, grandma.”

“How many dates did I pass up on, so that someone would always be at home to watch over you at night?

“But grandma, you were working all the ti-”


“You went on no dates, grandma!”

“So, I worked hard all my life and given my life up so that you could be the first of us to go to college, right? This is how you pay me back? This is how you honor my memory? This is how you treat your mother?”

She gave Jason one last hard tug and pulled out three tufts of his hair in the process, then she pushed him off the couch.

“You better get your shit together!”

Jason got up and took off running!

“Or the next time I visit you boy, you’ll wish that-”

He didn’t hear the rest because at that point, he found his voice…literally. Jason screamed while he ran three blocks, which was not an easy thing when his diet for the last six months consisted of heroin, candy and Twinkies. By the time he stopped screaming, he still couldn’t hear a thing because of his racing heart and throbbing head. He didn’t hear or see Trey until he ran into him.

Jason begged Trey to lend him some money, but Trey wouldn’t go for it. Jason explained to Trey that Trey had been getting the better of the dealer-junkie relationship and Trey said that was the cost of doing business. Jason then convinced Trey to front him some drugs because he knew some rich kids from his high school days.

Trey did so reluctantly and Jason did sell the drugs to the rich kids, only Trey never got the money because Jason ran off to the bus depot. He took the first bus out of there and wound up in Taos, where he got a job in a Laundromat. Jason is now enrolled in a local community college and working two part-time jobs.

Jason keeps his head clean, inside and out. He shaves his head and he’s never had the urge to take up the “H,” China white, black tar, skag, or even anything stronger than aspirin…the three patches of skin where his hair never grew back, tell him that grandma will visit him if he is ever tempted by drugs calls again.

This week, JJ asked us to write a short story about “sacrifice,” which he does for the betterment of us all, by taking the time to provide the means and the venue, every week.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Anthony Bourdain On...

I realize that Anthony Bourdain has a book to hype, but with the premiere of Rachael Ray's show just a little over a month away, this interview could only be just a tiny bit more timely.

"The Nasty Bits" is not a variation of a Marty Feldman quote, it's the first three words in Bourdain's new book. It's well worth watching a dozen commercials just to read this. Thanks to Armchair Cook for the orginal posting of the Salon interview.

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We're Being Invaded...

Powell's is making their push, southward. I guess I have to do a little less shopping at Border's and a little more at Green Apple. I know that the Thai noodle houses and dim sum shops on Clement St. will be happy with the increased patronage from my family.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Some New Additions To The Shop

The Missus has been slaving away and she has produced two new additions to the shop. Lucky you, the public. Not so lucky, the Missus, who said that "even Nike lets Vietnamese children sleep on occasion." Ha-ha, she's such a kidder! She'll pay dearly for...dammit, am I typing outloud again?

First, the slogan that ties into the name of this blog in black. For all of you Johnny Cash fans, goths, hipsters, and people that know that black is not only slimming, but it makes you look good, too.

Then the slogan that should be your mantra, on a hat

Just the thing to lord over Tom Wolfe, while you scoff at him at that party in the Hamptons. After that, ask him what's up with those white suits and does he have to go into hiding after Labor Day?

P.S. Sorry about the earlier inconvience, the black t-shirt is fixed and ready.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Not That I Agree With This Sentiment...

Not that I entirely agree with this sentiment, but I'll put it up here, anyway. My blog has been lacking as of late, in writing-related content...

"Anybody who likes writing a book is an idiot. Because it's impossible, it's like having a homework assignment every stinking day until it's done. And by the time you get it in, it's done and you're sitting there reading it, and you realize the 12,000 things you didn't do. I mean, writing isn't fun. It's never been fun. It's momentum, and once you get the momentum going, that's great, but it's a brutal experience in many, many ways. And when you're done, people tell you, 'Well, gee, I'm not interested.' 'Great, I'm glad I sat down and wrote this!'"
Comedian Lewis Black, when The Onion made the mistake of asking if he liked writing

This was taken from the Creative Screenwriting (Magazine's) Weekly Newsletter. For some odd reason, I read "Richard Lewis" instead of "Lewis Black," the first time I saw this. Another sure sign that they're working me too hard at work and seven hours of sleep ain't getting it done.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Guinness Punch, Toad In The Hole, Soup, And God, I Love The Internet

So the Missus and I watched "Chef!" late this morning. The "Rice And Peas" episode in particular, where Gareth had to humble himself and ask Everton to teach him Jamaican cuisine. In that episode, Toad In The Hole and Guinness Punch played a prominent role.

With the Guinness Punch in particular, the actors do a real good job selling it as a Caribbean ambrosia, but an ex-Bay Area-pat named Dexygus says different.

"can something be too sweet and too bitter at the same time? i took just a few sips and tossed it."

If you look at the recipe, that makes sense from a taste standpoint. The beauty of this is that it saves me a world, as well as a week, of suspense. I rarely drink and I don't drink during the work week, because I have to drive Procrastinator Jr. here and there, and after that, I have to work the graveyard shift.

Searching for the recipes as well as background into the aforementioned cusines, was the kind of thing that used to drive me nuts before the Internet. If I had to go to the library for just one trivial fact, it wasn't going to happen. I'd go to a book store and use that as my research resource...if I'd remembered to look it up once I got there.

Yet, there's so much information (and disinformation) right at your fingertips. You don't have to argue with your more obstinate friends over whether someone was in a film, you just hit the IMDB and settle this thing like civilized taunting your friends for half an hour.

Dexygus also had a link to the Soup Peddler down in Austin, Texas. The menu looks real good from an ingredient POV, but there's one huge slip in my eyes. You can't have a "puttanesca" without pancetta.



Saturday, August 05, 2006

Not Exactly A Redhead F.F.F. #47

She was born in 1969 and some could say that she led a sheltered life. Thirty-four years later with everyone in her family past their prime, she was still the same head turner as the day I first saw her. She was a dirty flirt, she was loyal to no one, too damn fast, she was all wrong for me, and that’s why I was in love. As long as I can remember, I would see her hanging out in my neighbor’s garage where he spent all his time, devoted to her. She never reciprocated his fidelity and when you looked like that, why would you?

I’d never get next to anything like that, so I resigned my love to be forever unrequited. Then one day as I trudging home from my barely better than minimum wage job, I noticed that my neighbor’s garage door was closed. The next day, the same. Five days later, I noticed that the garage door was still closed, but there was a wreath with a black band across it. I felt a sadness overwhelming, but I couldn’t figure out just why.

The next day, there was knock on my door. I opened it and grim-faced women stood before me with her arms folded. She wore a black suit that looked about two sizes too small and I wondered if that contributed to the look on her face.

“Yeah, you’re the one.”

“I am? Hi, I’m Tony.

Her face softened, then she smiled…if you could call it a smile. It was more like a sneer mixed with a scowl.

“I’m a Toni, too. With an ‘i.’ I’m your neighbor, I live five doors down.”

“Oh. Oh…someone has passed on at your place, right?”

“My husband, yes. That’s kind of why I’m here. Do you have any money?”

I thought this was kind of odd, going door-to-door for donations, but I checked my wallet and then, showed it to her.

“Just five dollars. I’m sorry, things are kind of tight. I wouldn’t even have a roof over my except my cousin rents this house to me for next nothing.”

“I tell you what kid, give the five to me.”

I was going to say something rude, but held back because she had lost someone who may or may not have been close to her. I shrugged and handed her the money.

“Thank you. Now come with me.”

“...I have something I have to get back to, inside.”

“Trust me, kid.”

I reluctantly followed her, she seemed to be in a hurry…well, not exactly. After a few seconds, I realized that was how she walked and man, could she walk. If I could’ve bottled that walk, I would’ve been a millionaire. She looked back at me and her eyes seemed different. They were beautiful and they had a sparkle in them that wasn’t there, just a few minutes before.

We went to her house and I realized that she lived on the other side of the street with that all too familiar garage. The no longer stern-faced Toni opened the garage door, her sneer was now a fully-realized, bright and intense smile.

She handed a pair of keys to me and a slip of paper.

“What’s this?” I asked, but I already knew.

“She’s all yours.”

She wasn’t quite the redhead that Enzo envisioned…more like orange. Four-hundred and twenty-seven cubic inches of erotic bliss. “Monaco Orange” to be exact. A 1969 Corvette with 427 V-8 engine…pristine, not prissy. As raw as a modern Porsche or Ferrari is sophisticated. Pure muscle, no refinement.

“She belonged to my husband Curt, as you know. I saw you walking by everyday, admiring her. What a marriage, Curt was more in love with her than me. I know that you too, seemed quite smitten with her, so...”

All I could do was mumble “thanks.”

“She's yours. All I ask is just don’t drive her in front of my house. It’s like having to look at the other woman for the rest of your life.”

So I did as Toni asked and I never drove the ‘vette in front of her house, or out around town if I could help it. The next week, Toni needed help taking Curt’s things to Goodwill, so I pitched in. We went out to lunch afterward and from that gleam in her eye, a spark ignited something between us.

I’d drop by her house and she’d drop by mine, but we never moved into together…the car, you know. It was quite a fling, until I got a real job and had to move away. I learned a lot from Toni, mostly that Curt was an idiot. Because a good car is only worth half of a better woman, and you can always get another car.

This is why JJ pushes the limits of Flash Fiction. Every Friday, he changes up the requirements. This week we had to incorporate the words: Dirt. Hurt. Curt. Flirt. And an orange.

If You Can

If you can, send well wishes and prayers to Princess Ladybug
Gian Don and Becka

Thank you.

The Quick Fox Had Wite Out, But Not The Lazy Dog

I learned to type some twenty-six years ago in high school. It started out when I put in for a transfer to a school that was better academically and that all of my friends were going to attend, right before I graduated junior high. It took the San Francisco School District over six months to grant that request and right after the Christmas of 1979, I was off to something slightly better.

So as a late transfer, I had little choice over what classes I could in enroll in, since the classes were already full. To give you an example of what it was like, there were forty-two students enrolled in my Freshman Geography class that January. Thirty-seven showed up the first day, twenty-nine the next, and the class stabilized at twenty people attending every day.

Remember, this high school was a step up, so it doesn't take too much imagination to picture what the previous "school" was like. This was also back in the day when school funding wasn't related to attendance. Later on, there would be a state-wide crack down on attendance, with school funding tied to attendance, but not during the short time I was there.

So, the school couldn't fit me into two periods. One class was solved by making me an office assistant and the other, came down to the choice of typing and home economics. Mind you, I wound up in home economics in my junior year, but that's a nightmare for another posting. I selected typing because it seemed like a skill that would come in handy one day.

I was the only male in the class except for the teacher and he wasn't sympathetic. He wasn't a jerk either, but he didn't really bother to help me or help me adjust.

All the gals were already in their circles, literally. I was a male meteor drifting in the solar system of typing gals. Each had the most popular gal or leader in the center like a planet, then the others were seated around that leader like satellites. I was not allowed in anyone's orbit.

They weren't exactly mean to me with the one exception that I will get to, but nobody talked to me inside of that class or said "hi." This didn't bother me so much as I had a more pressing issue with that damn quick fox and just why was he jumping over the lazy dog? If he was a fox, he would simply go around him, right? Hell, if he were a cartoon fox, he'd set a firecracker under the dog or bite him in the...nevermind.

Here's where the problem of being an outsider came into play and what brought me to reminisce: when I typed back then and I had to capitalize, I would type "TUesday." You see that? I had a tendency to ride the "shift" key. You know, like "TAke ME TO THe RIver."

Now, this isn't a problem with computers, you can backspace all day long before you "print," "send" or "publish post," but not in the age of typing. Why? Because, those of you who are too young to remember and those who don't want to remember, you needed
Wite Out during that era.

That's right, we didn't have correctional ribbons (at least in high school) back then where you could hit a button and it would strike your mistake from the paper. We had to pull the paper up out of the typewriter, and then brush correctional fluid all over the mistake. I wonder how Freud would've tackled that.

Now, everyone in the class was up to at least fifty words-per-minute, while I was yanking my hair out trying to find the damn "comma" key and trying to stop the mixing up of the "b" and "v" keys. I became an annoyance, reaallll fast. I had a father that wouldn't buy my Wite Out, I didn't know where to buy the stuff (but you can best believe that I knew where to get the cheapest batteries for my boombox) and I didn't have a backpack to carry it in. Or like the gals who had a monopoly on the stuff, a purse.

My parents had just gone through a messy divorce and I was pariah with my mother's side of the family...the side of the family who knew how to procure all these things. My father and I had no clue of anything that wasn't blue collar-related, and that is as much detail as I'll get into right now.

So here I am making mistakes on every line and then, braving social planetary systems to borrow Wite Out. If looks could kill, I died ten thousand deaths in that class.

Fellas, you ever had a girlfriend that wanted you to do her nails? Well, I had went out with one girl by then and the only thing she taught me the two times we went out, was how to kiss. Quite useful for adulthood and life (ask the Missus), but of no use for typing class. I had no idea how to apply nail polish or Wite Out.

I put the stuff on too thick. Hell, I would've been better off putting nail polish or paint on the paper, with the mess I started. Ah, fun times. Well, now I'm up to at least seventy-five words-per-minute and I could probably do more, except for the mistakes I make every nine words or so.

Yet, since June, I've been riding the "shift" key again like it's 1980 all over again. I don't know the reason behind it and this post is as much of an investigation as I will go into. Every day, I teach Procrastinator Jr. how to ask for help when we're in stores and I show him just what stores to go to, so that he doesn't have to rely on me. More importantly, he'll be able to navigate snark planetary and solar systems all by himself.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Treat For Screenwriters In Terms Of Surprises

I'm a Jean Reno fan. He's the kind of movie star that even when the pictures he appears in are uneven efforts, it's still a treat to see him rise above the material. So I rented Empire Of The Wolves the other day, simply because he was in it.

"Empire" starts out as good cop/bad cop chasing serial killers flick and turns into something far more interesting. I don't want to give it away, but it's something Ludlum could've written. The movie itself is good in my opinion, I liked it a whole lot more before my enthusiasm wore off and I had time to chew the plot over. Still, what I still love about it as a screenwriter, is that other than the framework that was necessary for a spy thriller (such as a certain person has to kick a certain amount of ass, a villain has to get away to further the plot, etc...) it wasn't as predictable as most films in this genre.

It certainly had enough surprises to match half a season of "The X-Files" or the original "Mission Impossible." And when it had to resort to the tried and true, it kept you off balance enough that you might not see it coming until it was there.

P.S. The more I mull it over, the more I realize that the script was somewhat predictable, but the director did a good job of keeping me off-balanced.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I've Never Been To Texas

I've never been to Texas, in transit or otherwise. Salt Lake City and the Grand Canyon is as close I've been to that neck of the woods on the ground. I've heard that they have this dish called "Frito pie" and I finally saw the thing on the Food Network's "Unwrapped" tonight.

We (the household, not the royal "we") don't watch "Unwrapped" a lot, the Missus and I don't want to know how sausage is made, so to speak. Not to mention that half of the factories and restaurants that the show goes to, the workers look so damn depressed and empty.

There was a restaurant on this episode called "Cowgirl NYC" and they serve the aforementioned dish. It's basically a bag of Fritos split open, then they put chili on top of it and lots of cheese, topped off with a dollop of sour cream and onions. Not that I eat Fritos (I'm a Doritos man), but why not just serve the chili and have the Fritos on the side?

Then they have dessert called "Cowgirl’s Original Ice Cream Baked Potato" where they form vanilla ice cream into a potato shape, dip it in chocolate and cinnamon, use whipped cream as the sour cream, and top it off with green pecans as the "chives." Um, uh, yum?

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