Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Season

Needless to say, I grew up on Texas football. By that I mean the state and all its football traditions and, of course, The University. I gave The University pretty much every Saturday of my life and in exchange they gave me my degree. And a national championship on my birthday a couple of years ago. A pretty good deal.

We like to think in Texas we invented football and if we do say so ourselves, we're pretty darn handy at it.

But then I spent three years living in the South. And watched SEC games every weekend. And I gotta say, in terms of sheer pomp and circumstance, they might just have us beat. At least in all the stuff that goes with football.

Except Arkansas. They still suck. They'll always be our foe going back to the old Southwest Conference. Frikkin' hillbillies and all the "sooo-ey" nonsense. But I digress.

I once went to an Ole Miss game with my old college girlfriend who went to school there and that morning standing in the middle of the Grove I was kinda shocked at all the white table cloths and servants serving fancy-ass foods and drinks. It was a far cry from our tail gates, barbecue and Shiners. Thankfully, the bourbon was the same. And I think I wore a tie. That's what they do. When in Oxford, as they say.

So today while I was sitting here watching the clock tick down to 5:00 when LSU kicks off, I checked and ran across this little gem of an article. As they say, you can smell it.


Southern Football

It doesn't look much like it here in southern California but this is the beginning of fall.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A wash of a night

I remember when I was house hunting here that finding a place with a washer and dryer was not that important to me. I don't know, somehow I thought it might be somehow romantic to have to go wash them at a laundry mat or take them somewhere to be washed. Even though never in my history of living at the four corners of the country have I ever had to do that. So why I'd think that would be fun, I don't know.

Fortunately, in the end I was able to see the err of my thinking before it became the err of my ways. And I found a house with a washer and dryer. Free laundry. No Colonial Homes, but good nonetheless.

However, due to some remodeling of the ol' lundry room and the fact the washer and dryer are currently in the yard I'm at the washeteria tonight and have been forced to wash it out old school with a fistful of quarters.

It would royally suck if I had to do this every week. Thankfully, this is the same place where I had to do my wash my first week I got here so we're old friends when you think about it.

Thank god they've got free wireless and good coffee.

(photo taken with PhotoBooth which for some reason shoots flopped images—the kind of thing you don't notice when it's pictures of your face)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Life is the beach bike path

Having spent a summer riding up and down the Venice-Santa Monica bike path, I've come to a conclusion that it is a microcosm of life. It goes a little something like this.

Your life is your bike ride which you are riding at your pace. If you're materialistic, you care about the bike you're riding and what it says about you.

Inevitably, some people are going faster and passing you. You wonder "what's their hurry?" Other times you just think "well pardon me, pal."

Others are just piddling along aimlessly and getting in your way. Suddenly you are the passer and thinking "get right, people!"

Some ride in a tight line, others swerve all over the place, others vary their speed constantly.

Some of us ride alone. Some ride in pairs. Some ride in massive snaking packs or as families. Some clearly can't bear to ride alone and so ride tandem. And still others ride those ridiculous recumbent bikes that just scream "I'm not from here!"

Some people are on their way somewhere, with a goal in mind. Others are merely along for the ride and enjoying it for what it is. Some days you're one, some days you're the other.

And, just like in life, there are people who are completely and utterly clueless and despite all the signs saying "bikes only" and showing a little picture of a bike, are walking on the path completely oblivious to the fact they're getting ready to get leveled. In some cases they are walking right next to the pedestrian sidewalk.

If there's one thing I've learned in my life that's only been reinforced by the path, it's this: ride your ride. Don't worry about everyone ele.

Just wear sunscreen. And enjoy the view.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I can’t handle the tooth

You would think that after roughly 33 years of chewing meals—and I think it’s safe to say every single one of those meals has taken place with my tongue sitting right alongside my teeth— that I’d be aware that my tongue is there. And that I would avoid biting it.

And you would be wrong.

Because last night I bit my tongue with what criminologists call brute force. So I’m like a few bites into some delicious pizza when WHAMMO! I bite down on my tongue like a raccoon on something shiny. Like a gator into a zebra at the watering hole. Like a snake on a mouse’s head. Which is to say quite hard. I know immediately it’s bad. Maybe the worst bite of an entire lifetime.

And it is bleeding. A lot. And let me tell you, there ain’t no Band-Aid for the tongue. There’s only getting a paper towel and trying to dab at it. And marvel at how much it’s bleeding.

Being only like a few bites in, I immediately began thinking about what I would do if I couldn’t eat solid food. Would I get like a shake or something? Tough it out? And when might it be well enough to eat again? Can you get an IV without some sort of doctor? How has Sunday night all of a sudden gone so horribly wrong? What about coffee in the morning—will that be too hot?

Once I finally stopped the bleeding, I took a picture of it. I later had to go in and add an arrow since without the spewing blood it’s harder to spot.

In fact, now it looks like nothing. But trust me, it was something. Something I don’t recommend.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen this yet, you should.

Clearly, the children aren’t gonna end up being our future after all. That’s what we get for listening to that crackhead Whitney Houston. Such as.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Apple 4, PC 0

First off, my man Justin is rolling down here this week from San Francisco where he's been boondoggling, errr, shooting so that should be fun and/or detrimental to my health.

So I used his imminent arrival as motivation to go ahead and paint a wall of my house that I've been talking about doing since I moved in. I already feel it makes a world of difference. Not to mention the pride that comes with knowing you can roll pant onto a wall. That's pretty gratifying. I also painted all the door frames.

And then, high on either paint fumes or acomplishment, I rolled down to the Promenade in Santa Monica and plunked down my cash for a new latop to replace my jacked iMac. So folks, I'm coming to you from my new Powerbook. Another in a lifetime of Apples going back to hanging out at Thomas Gunter's house across the street and playing with their Lisa and later something called the Macintosh (their dad was on the chip-design team at Motorola in Austin so they had what no one had).

I guess it was '83 or '84 and their little self-contained Mac made those green and black-screened, mouseless, a-hundred-lines-of-code-to-make-a-frikkin'-shape-dance-across-the-screen-for-all-of-three-seconds monsters they made us use at school look ridicuous. They sucked. So I never bought into the whole PC thing, ever. They were never designed to be what they called themselves, "personal computers." It's ironic because there was nothing personal about them—they should have been called "institutional computers" or something.

Besides, the Mac had a program called MacPaint which let you create stuff and that game where you try to save cities from being blown up from missiles (how 80's, right?) That was it for me.

I never looked back.

This new one is pretty sweet and I gotta say no matter how many times you buy an Apple computer it never gets old coming home and seeing how simple it is. The box literally contains the computer, a power cord, a remote control and a little booklet written in plain English. Of course, you don't have to read it because the thing's ready to go. And since I don't have a digital camera yet, the above photo was taken with Photobooth.

Sorry I didn't put any whacky effects on it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I feel so excited and delighted today

I should have posted this a couple of months ago but I heard this song again today and figured it deserved a quick and lazy Saturday post. It's the Polyphonic Spree's "Running Away" and I think there's no argument as to whether it is the best song they've ever recorded. And any band that literally plays under the banner of hope is cool by me.

I love myself some Spree. You can't have a bad day so long as the Spree is running through your head.

And I heard this song on the "Passport Approved" program here this morning while I was painting a wall in my house and thought it was good enough to share. It's called "Elvis Ain't Dead" from an exuberant bunch of kids out of the UK called Scouting for Girls.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tonight I have to leave it

A couple of songs for a Friday.

First is everyone’s second favorite Swedes, The Shout Out Louds, doing a spot-on Cure impersonation with “Tonight I have to leave it.” And they get marvelous results in the upbeat vein of “Friday I’m in Love” or “Just Like Heaven” or their very own stellar “Very loud.” It’ll stick with you. Dig the song, if not the Usual Suspects-style video.

"Rumours say that you're very sorry.
Oh no you're not sorry, no you're not."


Next is my pick for rave-up, rock-down jam of the summer. It’s called “Over and Over” by the London group Hot Chip. I’ve been listening to it a lot this summer but it’s goddamn infectious so I figured I had to share it. It’s especially catchy if like, say you’re stuck in traffic on the 405 on your way down to see Chivas take on Beckham and the Galaxy yesterday and all of a sudden you get past the jammed up part and this song just happens to come on as you get back up to speed. Again, dig the song if not “fun-with-green-screen” video.

Rock on.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ways I could burn $200 other than joining a fantasy football league

Recently I somehow got caught up in all the hub-bub of a fantasy football league at work. I never asked to be in it but I guess it was nice of them to ask me. I love myself some football but could really care less about pro ball. I’m a college guy. And Texas is ranked #4 this year.

The trouble was, there were going to be like 12 guys in the league and the buy-in was $200. Two hunsky. Two big ones. Two hundred bills going right out the window in my case. I don’t know crap about who’s good in the pros other than like LT and a handful of others.

So, between not being too jazzed about the whole bidness and planning side of sports and not really liking my chances against a bunch of fantasy football vets (at best, my chances would be like 1 in 12—on a good day, with a head start and a tail wind a stadium full of hotties rooting me on with calls of “go Howard, go!”), I politely declined. And started thinking of more creative ways I could blow $200.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

• Literally burn it a dollar at a time and post it on YouTube
• Build a papier mache Lombardi trophy out of singles, parade it around the office all season long
• Buy $200 worth of pudding. Ahh, yeah!
• Build 200 miniature paper airplanes, throw them down into a sea of humanity somewhere, watch them go “hey, money planes.”
• Drop it on the floor near cute girl who will then go “hey, you just dropped $200” to which I’ll nonchalantly reply “huh, would you look at that.”
• Miniature ticker-tape parade for handicapped GI Joe soldiers coming home from unnecessary, unilaterally-waged war. With real money!
• Hand it out at Christmas like a low-rent version of that dude in New York
• Buy half a share of Google stock
• Light 200 cigars while wearing a monacle and top hat, laugh demonically with each one
• Support a Sally Struthers kid. Forever
• Buy an electronic paper weight from the Sharper Image, have dollar left over since the price of pretty much everything there is “something-99.” Is that place still around anyway? If so, who goes there?
• Make a swear jar, spout obscenities until I’ve filled it
• Make a money hat
• Make a money broche
• Make a money Terradacticle! (no idea if that’s how it’s spelled)
• Roll around on it on my bed, realize I’m not Demi Moore circa 1993
• Break it into quarters, say “hello high score in Donkey Kong!”
• Break it into pennies, hand out 20,000 free wishes at a local fountain
• Break it into 200 Sacajaweas, complain about “what am I gonna do with all these Sacajaweas?”
• Spend it on my new sunglasses or some skis or 20 new albums
• Be responsible and apply it toward my $500 deductible and re-buying all my shi-at from recent burglary

More to come, stay tuned....

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Let's be friends!

From what I can tell, MySpace is obviously dead. It’s been giving me the above “server errors” for like a couple of days now. Good riddance, I say. It always was a piece of crap.

So I’m fully prepared to put the whole MySpace thing to bed. But now this Facebook thing appears to be all the rage.

Ashlea and Dave and Zach and some of the San Francisco crew got me started on it and now I’m getting little “friend requests” like every day. It’s cool and all but all this social networking gets kinda silly. I mean, I like it and it’s nice to reconnect with old friends and all that but for me these things always kind of become glorified address books. What do I do after I get all these friends? I don’t know.

And at 33 I’m kind of at that age where most of my friends are married, most of them with children, and sadly most of them afflicted with the cyber-retardation that seems to come with it. I mean, I’ll say things to them like “MySpace” or “Facebook” or “internet” or whatever only to get prolonged silence followed by “I don’t really know anything about that kind of stuff.”

Then again, I guess I am 33 and I was never really the type of person who spends all day online IM’ing and posting little comments about my friends and tricking out my page like a Mexican low-rider with custom graphics and slideshows and surveys and stuff.

On the plus side, I will say whoever designed the Facebook site used something more advanced than the ’88 Compaq that was I’m pretty used to design the horrendous…..server error…..server error……MySpace.

Hell, MySpace always worked about as well as a unilateral invasion of Iraq.

Whatever, Tom. You suck. And your picture makes you look stupid.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Who plays 18, anyway?

So yesterday, after another nice day at the beach and swimming my ass off, Scott, Grant and I decided to play a little golf at our local municipal course, Penmar. Coveniently, it’s like a few blocks from my casa. And despite the fact Scott and I didn’t have clubs we were assured we could rent them. So we showed up and ponied up our cash and then went to rent our clubs. The dudes in the shack who rented the clubs seemed to have quite a laugh at the fact they had rented them all out and so there would be none for us. Real funny, pal. All the while I’m thinking “who besides the two of us doesn’t have their own clubs?” (Apparently, I need to get mine sent out west—and soon.)

So Scott and I sit down and realize we’ve got like ten minutes before tour tee time and we don’t have clubs. Crappin’ A! The thought of all three of us playing out of Grant’s bag seemed not so good. What to do? Well, there was nothing more we could do. We’d have to will ourselves into some clubs. And pronto. Come on, baby!

This is where it gets good.

So we start talking to the starter dude who then proceeds to go fish around in a back room and miraculously throws together two full bags of clubs! A couple of mixed bags to be sure, but two whole bags of clubs nonetheless. Impressive.

Oh right, we’re also gonna need balls. “Not a problem,” he said as he pulled out a big ol’ bag of random balls. One of mine was even a steal-your-face emblazoned Grateful Dead Titleist ball so I knew that had to be good. After we scrounged for broken tees at the first tee, we were off. Oh, and in case you’re wondering I played my normal game: moments of brilliance interrupted by horrendous wild shots that endanger the lives of pretty much anyone who’s on the course. I’m a long hitter, what can I say? And then it was over.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

We got cut off at the 8th of nine holes because the sun was going down. Not dark, just going down. But they were insistent. So we packed it in. It was then that it hit me: I don’t know that I’ve ever played a whole round of golf in my life.

Seriously. Something always happens.

Playing with Bruce, Brett and Slade in Bastrop we stopped after like 15 because Bruce wasn’t playing up to his level and we were malnourished from having not planned the previous night’s camping trip very well (Bruce is now a pro in Jacksonville, to give you an idea of how good he was.)

My brother Martin and I packed it in after 14 when Martin broke an iron while playing in Austin one time.
At my cousin’s wedding a couple summer’s ago we were run from the course at like 15 or 16 when a violent Austin thunderstorm rolled in and the thought of walking around with a bag of metal sticks seemed not so good.

And then there was yesterday when we couldn’t even finish nine. This, friends, is probably why golf and I have never really taken to one another.

FYI, Sunset doesn’t cross the 101

As you may remember, the last time I made it over to the Silver Lake area was courtesy of the bus. That's the good and bad thing about the bus: you don’t have to drive yet you don’t pay so much attention so you don't know where you're going.

So I was kinda jazzed when Scott, Craig and I decided to head over there for the Sunset Junction festival yesterday. As I was the only one with even a working knowledge of the area I volunteered to drive us. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Craig’s iPhone even guided us right where we needed to go via backroads to avoid the traffic headaches of Sunset. So we went to the festival and then later a party at a friend’s house up in he hills overlooking the city. It was great. Right up until we left. And got lost as hell.

Having made the trip there and back on the bus by going up Sunset Blvd. from downtown I was like “let’s just take Sunset down to the 101 and then down to the 110 and onto the 10 and on out to home.” Seemed easy enough. Only I forgot that Sunset doesn’t in fact cross the 101. My previous knowledge was really worth nothing. The drunk dude with the Hawiian Punch who claimed he got robbed on the bus that night had thrown me off and caused me to not remember that the bus turned somewhere or something even though I thought we crossed over the 101 at some point. We didn't.

So we get in the car last night and take Sunset Blvd. heading south. For longer than we should I think. Two New Yorker transplants riding with the guy who’s been here like 4 months. We kept going until we’re somehow lost in downtown. We’re heading down Broadway and the street numbers are going up. I don’t even know what that means. I can’t see the hi-rises. We u-turn it. Craig’s giving me shit from the backseat. I ask him where’s his iPhone now, huh? He replies “just tell me where we are and I’ll look it up.” Touche, iPhone. Touche.

Truth is, I have no idea where we are. I know it. They both know it. Yet they have no idea where we are either. We double back and discover the 101 and take it heading south figuring we would cross I-10 if nothing else. I mean, it only runs across the entire goddamn country, right? Well next thing I know I’m on the I-5 heading towards Anaheim or somewhere. No I-10 in sight. We get off on some sketch-ass exit. Not good. At this point I’m laughing my ass off at how lost we are. Oh yeah, that’s the other thing: I normally don’t get lost. But somehow I did. Fortunately, we were all laughing and debating a stop to get something to eat and clear our heads.

But we forge on.

So we hop back on the I-5 and head back north and somehow manage to get it right. I demand all eyes on deck as we look for the 110 which is also known as the 110/Long Beach/San Pedro/Pasadena freeway and probably a half-dozen other names. The thing's got more names than Diddy. And then somehow God took the wheel and we mange to navigate the labyrinth that is the 101 to the 110 to I-10 interchange until finally—like 20 minutes later—we’re westbound on the 10 toward Santa Monica. I think there were tears. It was like a Clark Griswold “I can’t get left” moment.

Here, just click on this map and see how screwed up our route was. Seriosuly. The green arrow is where we started.

In hindsight, we were right on top of the way out the whole time but at night it all just looks like one big mess of highways and signs calling out a bunch of places you’ve only heard of but have no idea if they are north or south or east or west or even real.

It reminded me of a time not long after I moved to NYC when I tried to take the subway to meet some friends on the Upper West Side and made the rookie mistake of taking the express A train which shoots you straight up to Harlem without passing “Go.” The doors close at Columbus Circle and they don’t open again until you’re in die-whitey-die-ville somewhere near like 457th street. Or 125th but you get the idea.

On the plus side, I got that Silver Lake/Echo Park area nailed down now. I know it like the back of my hands. The back of my hands as they deftly maneuver the steering wheel through the streets and highways of LA.

Who’s loves ya, LA?

Friday, August 17, 2007

As an added security, it’s also un-openable!

So last night I went out for dinner and drinks with a few of my homies and decided since we’d be kicking it here in the Venice hood, I’d take my bike. Dinner was delicious, the drinks were delightful, but my bike lock? Not so much.

Apparently a summer’s worth of riding around in my backpack to the beach and other sandy locales has filled the keyhole with a good deal of sand. Making the key damn near impossible to turn.

So, after a fun night of bar hopping along Abbot Kinney I go to unlock my ride that’s still locked somewhere outside The Brig. It’s late. Like 2:30 late. Only this time the key, while always a little sticky, frikkin’ wouldn’t turn. At all. Wouldn’t budge. And trying to turn it was tearing up my fingers. And it was taking a while.

So long I started to think to myself “it totally looks like I’m stealing it.” At this point a “dude” comes wandering over to help me out. I was a little freaked out that he might be like “dude, is that you’re bike or are you jackin’ it?” Fortunately, he didn’t.

God bless him for trying to help but when he decided to help by removing the key and trying it again he erased the almost half a turn I’d managed over the last like 10 minutes of cranking on it. Not his fault, of course, but a setback nonetheless.

He and I eventually worked out an approach that allowed him to hold the lock still and me to crank on it with both hands until we finally, eventually, mercifully popped her open.

And so I was able to begin the ride home. Thanks, stranger.

Oh yeah, and tomorrow I'm going lock shopping. Fo sho.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The King

In honor of the King’s passing 30 years ago today, I wanted to give my take on him. This is it: I honestly believe that everything that’s happened after him happened because of him.


The world we live in, good and bad, is all thanks to Elvis. Perhaps what I mean to say is the culture we live in is the result of him. But still. Musically, artistically, socially, culturally, and perhaps morally—it’s all down to him. Here’s a guy who came up in post-war America and was the representation of our brave new world during that lovely period between the war’s end and the Vietnam era and the Cold War and all that. Kind of that era’s Clinton years, if you will.

He really bridged the gap between the era of guys like Pat Boone and Perry Como to the age of Beatles and Stones and Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant’s pants. God bless Buddy Holly but good as his music was and ahead of his time as he was, it didn’t make anyone want to shake it. And I mean shake it.

Shake it one time for Elvis.

I know that Elvis owed so much to the blues and gospel and the black musicians of the era who never got the credit they deserved and blah, blah, blah. But that was the world then. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, etc. They were great. Devastatingly great. I ain’t sayin’ it’s right. I’m just sayin’ Elvis managed to make it on TV before they did, that’s all.

And TV was king. Still is. And so without Elvis the Beatles would have never told a nation of screaming girls they wanted to hold their hand. The Stones would have never told the same nation of screaming girls they wanted to spend some “time” together. And Michael Jackson would have never moonwalked across a Motown stage and led a bunch of kids in Austin to start wearing red leather jackets and sequin gloves and “popping” and “breaking” on the playground in 1984. And so on and on and on. Man, we were so cool.

So you see where I’m coming from when I say everything that happened after Elvis happened because of Elvis.

And everyone seems to have their favorite Elvis. Thin 50’s Elvis, black leather-clad 60’s Elvis, bloated 70’s Elvis. Personally, my favorite has always been Tiny Elvis.

Long live The King.

The Tiny King.

Back to school armor/Reason #1,274,285 why I'm never having kids

So I was out buying my fictional kids some back-to-school clothes today (you know, it's mid August and all) and little Billy was torn between getting the stab-proof Kevlar hoodie or the bulletproof backpack. We must have stood there for hours before I finally said “look man, I’m not made of money and you’re not made of steel and we can’t afford to protect you against both gunfire and knife attacks so what are we gonna do?"

Billy said, "Let’s flip a coin.”

I said, "Aw-ight."

And with that, the coin went and up and…

...wait for it....

…we're both praying that no one's packin’ a knife this year!

Sweet back-to-school in 2007. What's happened to us? I remember I just hoped that Case or Greg or that really cool guy, Adrian, in fourth grade didn't give me a hard time or embarass me in front of the girls. I suppose protecting myself against getting killed never crossed my mind. Or anyone's for that matter.

Then again, we played games like Pong, Pitfall and Donkey Kong not SoCom or Halo so I suppose if anything I was on the lookout for pixelated balls, pixelated alligators or pixelated gorillas throwing barrels. And not to toot my own horn, but I never even came up against any of them.

Great success!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang

Finally saw the movie "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang" last night. It was one of those movies I totally wanted to see a couple years ago but never did. It found its way to the top of the queue recently and I think it waited to get there for a reason. It wouldn't have been the same if I'd not been here in LA to see it. Perhaps I wouldn't have found this line so funny.

“What’s with all the girls out here? I mean, it's literally like someone took America by the east coast and shook it, and all the normal girls managed to hang on.”

Not that anyone's looking for "normal", of course.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Good news, bad news

First off, good riddance to Karl Rove. What a dick.

Speaking of Dick, prepare to have your mind blown wide open by this little gem from back in 1994.

Gee Dick, did that slip your mind in ’03? Think the whole region magically reinvented itself in only 9 short years? What an idiot.

Oh, and I don’t even remember what we were looking for but this came up in a Google image search. Good for a laugh.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Losing sight

Yesterday we had the good fortune of touring the Broad Foundation in Santa Monica. It’s essentially a lending library of works of art housed in a non-descript five story building right off Main street. It’s also not open to the public so it was cool to be able to see it at all. There were a lot of Ed Ruscha’s paintings and the rest was kind of a mixed bag of photography, sculpture and installations—some of them straight up weird for what appeared to be weird’s sake. And the view from the rooftop sculpture “garden” was swank.

But there was one piece that, even though executionally it fell kinda short for me, was pretty thought provoking. In short, it was a 12 minute film about a woman who is going blind and so is filling her mind with all the images she can before it goes. And as she does, older images are being pushed out. I thought it was a fascinating thought. I’ve always been fascinated by sensory deprivation mainly because I think each of our senses is so, so valuable. So, naturally, it got me thinking.

Isn’t that what we’re all doing? Trying to fill our minds with stuff?

I mean, granted we’re not doing it in a frenzied way under a tight deadline but we’re all trying to see and hear as much as we possibly can, while we still can. We all have lists of places and things we want to see and do. We all have people we need to spend more time with. We all have books and music and paintings and designs and restaurants we want to read and listen to and see and experience and enjoy. Who knows how long we got, ya know?

People are always throwin’ out the hypotheticals about “what if you only had a month to live, what would you do?” or whatever and while I’m much more of a “top five” or a “top ten list” kind of guy, I always come out of those hypoteticals feeling like “hell, I don’t know.” Then again, I’d probably just do something close to what I am doing with a few changes.

I’d probably not work, I’d travel like the bejesus, I’d sleep less, I’d try to see everyone I could, and aside from that I’d probably listen to loads of music, read tons of books and try to see everything I could. And I’d eat my ass off ‘cause hey, one month to live!

But the thought of knowing only one of your senses is ticking away is a whole other question. You’ve got to really think. What if you knew you were going to lose your sense of smell? Or hearing? Or touch? Good lord, can you imagine?

I don't even want to.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Is it just me….

…or is there a frikkin’ crapload of summer awesomeness on cable right now? I gotta admit, I’ve been doing a lot of work on the couch at night on a little sumthin’ and therefore had time to catch some pretty solid programming. Granted, not all of it’s quality but for sheer “are you kidding me” value, it’s been pretty impressive. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

First, the good:

“Mad Men” on AMC
Obviously it’s an ad show so there’s that but it’s pretty well done even if it is mired a bit in that “gee-whiz” 60’s period. Makes me think of what my old agency was probably like 40 years ago when a bunch of future sexual harassment suits were still walking the halls. Good times.

“Rescue Me” on FX
Still the best show on TV, right next to “Friday Night Lights.” And just watching Dennis Leary’s character repeatedly self-destruct leaves your feeling instantly better about your own life. Hell, this is the guy who may or may not have thrown his baby in the East River last week! Talk about messed up.

And now, the train wrecks:

“The Two Coreys” on A&E
I’m not gonna lie to ya, that Corey Haim ain’t well. I had no idea what a wreck he was. Mood swings, heart problems, a career that’s been dead for over a decade. If that ain’t a recipe for disaster then I’ve got no business in the kitchen.

“Confessions of a Matchmaker” on A&E
A woman helps a crop of lovable losers find love in Buffalo, NY, the self-professed “lonely hearts capital of America.” God bless ‘em for even tryin’ but some of them are hopeless.

That “fat people hoping to have various surgeries” show on TLC
For sheer mouth-agape-for-the-full-half-hour value, it’s a winner. Oh, and of course it’s set in Houston. Where else, right?

That “Mystery” pick-up show on VH1
The famous pick-up artist, Mystery, takes on a group of dorks, dweebs and geeks and tries to turn them into ladies’ men. Just started last night but could have potential.

“Rock Life” on VH1
A crap band of semi-famous people’s kids from LA lives in a house in Malibu and plays pretty subpar rock at places like the Roxy and the Viper Room. Oh yeah, and the band is called Whitestarr. Yeah, with two “r’s.” That’s cheesse with two “s’s.” Just started last night too but if the guitarist named “Rainbow” throws another crap solo like he did last night, I’m out.

I haven’t watched that “Scott Baio is 45 and single” show or the “Man Band” show (where they take several of the b-team members of like NSync and Color Me Badd (that’s with two “d’s”) and see if they can save their careers) but they both look horrible. So I might just have to catch them.

1000 words

While doing a little computer shopping online this morning I ran across this little pic of the new iMac and it just kind of summed it all up for me. (you may wanna click on it to get the full idea)

Simple wins. Every time.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Fantasy Land

I'm sure many of you have heard about this book, "Eat, Pray, Love", by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's a long story about how I came to read it earlier this summer but it's essentially an autobiographical tale of a woman who kind of loses it in her thirties and goes off on a year-long search for the things in the title. She hits Italy to eat, India to pray and Indonesia to love. It's a decent read I guess. But honestly, I only made it through the India portion before I lost interest in it and her constant search for "what is it all about?" Maybe it's not that complicated. Maybe what you really need is all around you, right here. I'm just sayin'.

At any rate, at one point there is a discussion about single words that sum up what cities are all about. New York's word was "achieve." Rome's word was "sex." LA's word was "success."

Success? Hardly.

LA's word should be "fantasy."

Simple as that. Be it the stars in their dream homes in their dream hills, or the deluded masses living in a perpetual state of pseudo-stardom right on the cusp of the role that will break them big or simply those of us who do nothing all day but create stories of fantasy to be played out on televisions and movie screens by people playing characters, that's what it's all about. Fantasy. Living it, creating it or financing it—everyone seems to be in on it.

Not to go all "LA vs. New York" on you but when you think about it, most TV (excluding soaps) and movies shot in New York are shot on the streets and in the buildings—the real things. Here, even most stuff shot on location is made to look like somewhere else. The rest is shot on sound stages and back lots. It's great. This city is all about fantasy. And the lighting is fantastic.

So success?

Out here, success is just perception. You don't have to have it to look like you have it. What's more important is what kind of car do you drive? Where do you live? Where'd you eat last night? Who do you know? What do the people back home think? That you're actually making a movie that will someday play in their town? That you really are a screenwriter? A director? That your project will someday be reality?

Maybe it will, maybe it won't. It's all a show. And I suppose there's nothing wrong with that. Fake it 'til ya make it, as they say.

Hell, the city itself feels like one big fantasy. There are mountains rising in the east and north of the city, a desert lies just beyond them, there's a beach lining the west side, palm trees line the avenues, and the sun shines impossibly beautifully every day. Yet somehow the tans are fake. Fantasy on top of fantasy.


I've decided that aside from the weather and scenery, my favorite thing about LA has to be the people. There really are characters everywhere, all playing a part they've written for themselves. A role they were born to play on a stage that just doesn't exist in Kalamazoo or Tuscaloosa or Omaha. It's fascinating.

And for that reason, like New York, LA is a writer's dream. And sometimes you're out somewhere and just can't help but wonder "what is that girl's story?" And then you go home and maybe try to write it. Try to sort out what she's up to or where she's been, where she's from. Maybe she just got here, maybe she's leaving. Is she running from something? Toward something? Maybe she's just waiting for someone. Or thinking about something. Or maybe she's just standing there on the sidewalk. But why?

Of course, you could always just go up and ask her.

But then that would spoil the fantasy, wouldn't it?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Song lyrics that have really helped me through this week following all the hub-bub last weekend

"You can't touch this"

- MC Hammer, presumably referring to his badass-ness. Or perhaps his stuff.

"...but they can't take away my dignity"

- Whitney Houston from "The Greatest Love of All" which even though I'm pretty sure it was originally about loving one's self I think we all know now it was probably about her love of crack.

That's all I can come up with.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

One man's theory

Well folks, I'm kinda sorta back. Work set me up with a new computer so I'm now able to tell you fine people what happened during last weekend's big burglary.

Now, I'm no detective but I do have some pretty awesome sleuthin' skills so here is my theory:

For about the last month or so the house next door has been under reconstruction as a result of a fire it suffered before I ever moved in. This past Saturday happened to be roofing day and so there was a collection of prolly something like 20 some-odd dudes all up on the roof of the house all day. Usually the crew is much smaller. But roofing is apparently a job custom made for a bunch of illegal mexicans so they brought as many as they could.

So there you've got 20 dudes perched up on a roof that had a unique vantage point from which to watch my comings and goings all day. And to watch the goings of the woman who lives in the front house as she and her son carried out their bags Saturday morning for a long weekend. So Saturday evening about 6:15 when I left for the night they would have been able to see me walk out and get in my car and drive away knowing that everyone in both the main house and the guest house were no longer home.

So they robbed both of us. I didn't know they had robbed both of us when I went to the coffee shop Sunday morning to post that last post. But it turns out they did. Turns out they stole all the same stuff: laptops and video cameras and jewelry and stuff, just like mine.

Guess you better make their glass of bad karma a double. To go.

In hindsight, I'm pretty sure I showed those mexican dudes how to do it. I had come home from the beach Saturday afternoon on my bike to find scaffolding up and down the side of the house preventing me from getting me and my bike back to my house. So I just told the dudes "don't worry about it, I'll just hop the back fence in the alley." You know, like we were all friendly and stuff.

What I should have said was "hey, watch this. I'm gonna go back in the alley and show y'all an easy way to get out through the gate in the alley after you rob me later today."

I've clearly lost my New York-ness out here. Trusting the mexican roofers next door? I'm off my game.

It probably didn't take more than a minute or two for them to rip through both of our places and grab the most expensive items they could carry and shuttle them out the back gate to the getaway vehicle waiting in the alley.

The LAPD's been pretty honest about how they're prolly not gonna do anything about it because burglaries are pretty common in the Venice area especially during the summer when everyone's windows are open. Whatev, I say.

Thanks to everyone who's expressed their concern but honestly, it's just stuff. And I know who did it. And i know it wasn't personal. And it was all insured. So aside from it being a hassle dealing with paperwork and receipt hunting it's not that big of a big deal. I remember my brother's bike got stolen once when he lived in Hawaii and him saying "they probably needed it more than I did." I don't know that that is necessarily true in this case but I've been trying to take that attitude about the whole thing. I was blessed to have had the stuff in the first place.

Tomorrow I'll get back to more fun stuff, I promise.

Sorry for the downer week.