Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Primae Noctem

I wrote at length recently about the grim, waning days in a soon-to-be-departed domicile. The corresponding experience to that, of course, is the brand new day that dawns as one comes out the other side into a new home. I'll always remember the first night my family spent in our new house back when I was around ten years old, as well as the closing days in the rented house where we had lived prior. That old house will always be known to me by the name of the woman who then owned it. I can't bear learning of any changes to the place, and haven't been by it since we moved out. That final day, I remember how we casually sat in a bedroom and watched a game show- it may have been Joker's Wild. After the arduous period of moving out of there and into the new house (in which I played little part), it was a very happy occasion. The living room was filled with boxes and indiscriminately placed furniture. The rest of the house was largely likewise, the worst of all being the garage.

What I really remember is that living room, though. We had the tv functioning, and were watching some movie I can't remember. I don't think any of us was all that interested in watching that particular thing so much as we were in watching something. It's really one of my earlier memories of the whole family watching something. We were supping on that traditional moving day dinner, delivered pizza. This was when they were quite serious about getting it to you in 30 minutes or less, and before there were any gimmicks in the pizza business. It was a good night. I don't really remember beyond that- in my mind time basically skips from there to the 92-93 NBA playoffs, when my beloved Suns were finally defeated for the championship in six games by the hated and treacherous Bulls.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fantastic Football

I remember visits to the library which took place years before we had access to the modern internet in our home. There were these rather odd books about football and baseball on the shelf. At the time, I had eyes only for basketball, but I had a working knowledge of those other two sports. What I didn't understand were these books which appeared to be manuals for very strange versions of them. It was called fantasy sports, and I just couldn't grasp it at all. It appeared that you played the sport on paper, and it was somehow associated with the exploits of real athletes. What I knew at the time was video games which simulated those sports. How this worked I really couldn't imagine. Probably most people were the same, although the concept of fantasy sports had existed well before I came upon it.

By the time I had reached high school, I came across fantasy sports again. I now had internet access at home and at school, and fantasy sports had made the jump online that would bring them to the masses. Jumping into it on a whim, I began to enjoy it immensely. It heightened great NFL games and added spice to the otherwise forgettable ones. What was and is very amusing is the strange nature of rooting when one is a fantasy sports devotee. It's like being a gambler. There are no straight-forward, simple motivations like wanting one team to win. You have some of the players in a game, and your rivals have the rest. Thus you root for complicated scenarios in which your players rack up the most points possible and those of your competitors get the least- very difficult when you have the quarterback and a fellow team has his leading receiver.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Day Of The Day

I've been in Toastmasters for a while now. I used to write about it more, but haven't in a while, so let me sum it up: one gives both prepared speeches and impromptu ones, receiving feedback on them in the form of evaluation speeches as well as voting. I have now given something like 25 speeches. That's a rough guess, but can't be too far off the mark. For the most part, I've given a speech once a month since I joined perhaps a bit less than two years ago. Having given so many speeches, I've had plenty of opportunities to consider the process of and leading up to 'Speech Day'. There have been changes over time as I've accrued more and more experience at it, so it's not quite as it was even the last time I wrote about any part of my methods in depth.

I often begin the process of preparing a speech at about the last minute. That's a bad habit, as it leaves me rather nervous on the day of the speech. When I don't have a speech on meeting day, I tend to get up at 9. When I do, I get up at 7 to work on it, because I have either not done a thing or have at best drafted a rough version. When I don't have a speech, I read and do other things on the bus over. When I do have a speech, I'm practicing in my mind, over and over again. I used to write out the speech completely and then work at memorizing it, practicing in my home over and over again with the chief emphasis being remembering the words. I stopped doing that after the first time I totally blanked in the middle of a speech. Now what I do is to jot down the key points, relying on my ability to fill in the gaps while in the moment.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Step Forward From Way Back

I guess I think about the past more than some people. When I took a test meant to gauge one's strengths, that was confirmed. I do believe there's considerable insight to be gleaned from the travails of the past as well as the happier times. It's all happened before in the thousands of years man has been a concern, hasn't it? Sometimes I imagine that I can see things from the eyes of people who were there when it happened. Maybe I'm mistaken about that, but I get the feeling nonetheless. I think of an obsolete piece of technology and imagine when it wasn't just relevant but a revelation. Today we have instantaneous communication by means of the Internet, but it was of course not always so. It wasn't always so that you could purchase goods that way. Once you couldn't buy something unless you were physically there to buy it. Then came the mail order catalog.

Does anyone order from a printed catalog that arrived in the mail anymore? I suppose they don't, but perhaps people do still make use of the one that comes with an airline ticket. It always seemed silly to order something during the three hours one spends in the air on a transcontinental flight, but I guess you can take the thing with you and order from home. I understand people do. There's no wonder in it, though. I imagine a time 150 years ago, when many people lived on what was still the frontier. There wasn't much to be had in the way of retail shopping out past St. Louis, I gather. If one had a catalog from Sears and Roebuck, however, the goods of the world were at one's disposal. If a dress or a desk was wanted, it was necessary only to page through the publication. There weren't even photographs in it- you perused the illustrations in it until the desired product appeared.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Accounting For Taste

Each person is basically an incomprehensible, impenetrable being where most things are concerned. I know I am. To think that anyone could be understood to any useful degree seems like folly to me. I'll admit that I have my impressions of people that lead me to think sometimes that I know them well enough to predict thoughts, inclinations and future behaviour, or to determine their reasons for doing or saying things after the fact. I'm sensible enough to know that most of that is incorrect, though. I don't place any particular weight on most of that stuff, and don't act on its basis. If more people held that attitude, we just might be a little better off collectively. The primary thing that got me on this track is taste in restaurants.

I've written about the yogurt place my improv class goes to. Now, I'm in no position to chastise others for sticking to one thing exclusively, so I won't be critical of those who steer us to that place over and over again. I do feel I have room to say something about the undue passion and enthusiasm for the place. It's good yogurt, sure. It's affordable by comparison with competing places, but the staff is somewhat insensitive- why grant fealty to a place that opens up all the doors late at night in the winter? I guess not everyone asks that question. Is the place worthy of reverence and blind loyalty? I don't know. It may be so. It isn't from my perspective, but that's just why I say that people are far too complicated and unresponsive to any system of rules to be understood. Restaurants may just be the perfectly emblematic illustration of that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Order Of Procession

It's another day and another opportunity for musing on the act of moving from a fresh angle. As the day for actually beginning to move draws closer, I have been giving thought to the practical consideration of what should go first. Of course, should everything go in one day, then it makes little difference except what the vehicles to be used can accommodate. Unfortunately, it seems most likely that the moving process will stretch out across multiple days. That being the case, it will in fact be necessary to identify the possessions that will need to stay in the old place as long as it is where I'll be sleeping. I can't say that I've fully been able to think it all out, but the consequences of not getting it exactly right are probably bearable.

The first things I thought of that I can do without are my books and dvds. As much as I value them, the importance of being able to access any of them at a moment's notice during a given seven day period is such that I should be able to cope. One or two books will stay, and that ought to be adequate. After that there are few easy choices. One would probably be much of my clothes and kitchen implements. There will be a need only for a small amount of each during the transitory period. Unclean clothes can go, and then be washed on the other end as needed. Dishes and so forth can all go with the exception of the bare minimum to eat meals and then be washed again for the next meal. That mostly takes care of the small items, but this is not to say that large items will not be interspersed as space allows.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Switching It Up

There's nothing more putrid than stagnant waters. This sentiment is more commonly expressed in other terms, such as to say that a rolling stone gathers no moss. A related saying suggests that variety is the spice of life. I've noted how easily comfort can have me paralyzed. The waning time of summer has me making some changes, large and small. I've said plenty with regard to moving. Even my internet habits may need to change depending on how things play out, but probably the biggest change to have happened already has to do with my eating habits. I tend to fall into grooves that last months if not longer where the meals I eat at home are concerned. When I hit on something that works, I stick with it as long as it does work. Eventually, I get just too sick of the thing to stomach it anymore. When I can't make myself eat it any longer, I switch it up. That doesn't happen frequently, but it just has.

Changes have come about which affect two meals. For some time, I was eating breakfast bars with my coffee every day. I bought a big, big box of them, and went through the individual boxes inside, flavor by flavor. That satisfied me, especially since I have the hardest time finding breakfast foods that I'll eat. I probably would have gone on with the cereal bars indefinitely, were it not for mysterious free market forces which brought up the cost of the cereal bars beyond what I was prepared to pay. I am not sentimental enough about such things to absorb unreasonable costs. So it was that I searched for something else. I considered the vast quantities of oatmeal I had bought and abandoned when I couldn't get myself to prepare and eat them on a consistent basis. That didn't suit me. What I did instead was buy Pop Tarts at a cost lower than I had been paying. I ought to note that I don't have a toaster to cook them in. I eat them cold, with the alternatives being to cook them improperly in the microwave or the oven.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Penultimate Move

I've written some about my impending move to new quarters here in Los Angeles, and the the day is just about upon us. In all the times that I moved, which is admittedly not many, there has been an interestingly grim kind of feeling as the bitter end draws near. One by one, your possessions become inaccessible as they go into a box and get sealed up, or are sold and given away. Various utilities and services begin to go offline, and you start to fear touching anything or using anything in the place, lest it require any kind of cleaning or repair that would jeopardize that great brass ring, the deposit. Of course, this particular move is different from most, given that it will itself be a temporary situation. In that, it's most like the summers I've spent working at Boy Scout camp. There's also a similarity specifically to the dorms I lived in during college, especially the one I was in for a summer semester.

As I said, I'm boxing things up. I wanted to watch a dvd the other day, and decided against it because it had already gone into a box and I preferred not to disrupt things. I'm sure you would have guessed that there's no rhyme or reason to what goes into what boxes, and they certainly won't be labeled or destined for a particular room in the new place. They'll all just go into the biggest room, I'm sure, and I may just get it all sorted out by the time I must move out. The furniture and big items will be easier, most likely. It was my hope to reduce the quantity of perishable possessions by move day- namely, food- but I've met with limited success on that front. There will probably be a box of food that shall go directly into the kitchen, but I must be careful to be neat about it, and not create a mess from day one in a home which I don't really see as mine, so little time will I spend there.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Friends Visiting

In my mind, there are few things of greater pleasure than to have friends visiting from out of town. As wonderful as that is, there's a certain kind of stress associated with it, having nothing to do with the friends in question. It's a stress, I hasten to note, that one is glad to take on, wanting to ensure a smooth, enjoyable experience. The effect all that has is to create a very singular experience for visitor and host alike. I happen to have recently entertained just such a guest from out of town, and it was taxing, but as I alluded, in a very good way. As is so often the case, I decided to make use of the subject here.

The first thing that occurs to me, as it probably will to many readers, is that one really only experiences certain things as a consequence of entertaining guest from out of town. I found myself more than once observing that I had never been to a place I took my friend, or hadn't been in quite some time. Do LA locals do things like the Zoo, or anything in the area of Hollywood and Highland? I know that I tend not to. Even apart from things catering more towards tourists, I found that my natural inclination was to steer my friend towards things new to me as well, just because they're good for anyone and I hadn't done them. It also happened by chance that new things were embarked on. There was a little of doing things that I had done, but not much.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I have long wondered at the inclination of many restaurant patrons to fight for the opportunity to pay the bill, and not to shirk it. I believe I may have mentioned it. Maybe I don't really understand human nature very well. I guess I'm atypical, because I have never exactly been spoiling for a fight to shoulder more than my share of any burden. I'll do it, but I won't argue over it. A similar scenario plays out over and over again when there's a party of some kind. If it's a good one, anyway, there's a great deal of food left over. The host of the party pleads lack of space, and sometimes insists they won't eat it all anyway. They beg for the few guests remaining to take food home. Now, I would think that it would happen very quickly that guests would seize upon this opportunity for free food to take with them. I know I always do, but as I noted, I am perhaps rather abnormal.

Now, I have my own limitations. As I often leave parties on public transportation, some foodstuffs can be a problem to transport. Should they be heavy or cumbersome, that's an obvious stumbling block, but not an impossible one. After one of my early gigs in LA, there was a huge quantity of craft services to be disposed of. I took about all of it, and stuffed it in a garbage bag which I took all the way home on trains and buses. It was worth it. Other times, there are just plain messy foods or ones inclined to spoil in some fashion. I declined some ice cream following a recent pool party, but wasn't happy about it. I did take some beer. The general rule for me is that if it's at all possible, I'll take free food with me- it doesn't matter how inconvenient it is.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

If You Want It, You Don't Got It

I've mentioned that I'm moving shortly. Among the many interesting angles to this is is the practical consideration of the means by which one's possessions are safely consolidated and secured for the trip to their new home, however near or far it may be. Once in college, I moved from one dorm to another a couple blocks down the street. I did it all myself in a couple of trips with the aid of a jury-rigged rolling cart-box furnished by the dorm I was leaving. I left nothing behind, taking even the least remnants of food from the refrigerator. It was quick, easy and cheap. I didn't even have to spring for pizza to offer as thanks, which is good, because I don't know that I could have very easily. Of course, that's the lowest order of difficulty that moving comes in, strictly in terms of moving the stuff. The hardest would be something like when my family moved to the house that my parents still live in now, as there was so much stuff destined for all manner of different places in the new home.

What I'm dealing with now is somewhere in the middle, closer to the easy end. What's on my mind now is a very specific element of the process: boxes. The importance of and demand for boxes fluctuates wildly depending on the circumstances. Ordinarily, as boxes accumulate one disposes of them with the zeal of characters in a war movie who must lighten their chopper in order to escape at the end of some desperate mission. Consequently, when the day comes that one knows they are moving and badly, direly needs boxes, none are around. The change in attitude is as severe and sudden as a light switch. Even should it not be so for some, the effect is often the same when one is accustomed to small living quarters which don't tolerated the presence of seldom-needed, space-occupying possessions. Thus, the box hunt is on! A box hunt is joined with far greater urgency than a fox hunt. The latter is mere sport- a diversion. The former is undertaken for nothing less than survival.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vamanos Almuerzo!

As I set myself to the task of writing this, it is by any sensible measure time to eat lunch. I would like to have it now, but am missing a crucial ingredient to my traditional midday repast of hot dogs: the buns. It's impossible to overstate the value added simply by combining the frankfurter and ketchup with the buns. It takes a meager, unsatisfying thing and makes a filling meal of it. Perhaps when I'm through writing this I'll embark on a mission to reconnoiter the grocery store and return with buns in tow. Until then, only the promise of hot dogs to come keeps me going enough to write. It's a unique opportunity for you, the reader, to see real-world conditions influencing my work. My God, I'm hungry.

Of the three traditionally recognized meals (which definitely exclude the ones ginned up by fast food restaurants to maximize overhead), lunch is the one most inextricably intertwined with a day at school. It was really only grade school when a lunch at school was a "school lunch". They began to trust us with greater discretion over our own nutritional intake, and that was surely a mistake. Until then, though, there was the centrally-planned lunch. I remember certain ones fairly well. Naturally there were burgers. Some days it was a plain burger, and other days it was a cheese burger. At the time, I wasn't aware that the latter wasn't Kosher. I don't know that they took that kind of thing into account. Probably a lot of kids languished for lack of the school district giving their dietary needs consideration. I guess that changed over time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Conversation Trajectory

I'm rather interested in conversations. We all have them, but most give them little thought. I suppose this is because they are so effortless for such people. One considers breathing only when it becomes labored, since it only then requires any exertion or imposes any discomfort. For me, conversation takes considerable effort, and I do think about it in an ongoing effort to improve. I was talking to someone the other night, and keenly felt my myself working at it since this was the first conversation of any length I'd had with this person. It was no chore to talk with this person. I was enjoying it, but sought to ensure there were no mistakes on my end which might curtail the undertaking. It was something like riding a bar's mechanical bull, except that there were no drunks exhorting me.

There was a certain path the conversation took which would be rather informative if it could be expressed as a chart of some kind. I refer not to the series of tangential digressions which are only natural, but to the ebb and flow of enthusiasm and interest we both felt for our mutual endeavor. It began haltingly, as we had met a few days ago and had little memory of one another. Perhaps the sheepishness of forgetting each other's names was a perfect opening, for we were quickly conversing in earnest. It was an ascendant phase which I didn't in that moment envision ending any time that night. Somehow I was saying the right things and reacting in the right ways, and there was a certain exhilaration akin to being nearly across a minefield- only this was a pleasurable one.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ambassador... Something

I have written not so long ago about answering for my home state- being an ambassador of sorts. Something not entirely unlike that has begun to happen in connection with other affiliations of mine. Like anyone, as I have lived I have accrued experience with certain things over time, and they have come to partly define me. For a long time, the nature of social networks of which I was a part meant that nothing really became of any mastery or authoritative knowledge I may have possessed of things like Boy Scouts or other things I was up to in those days. I never really had multiple networks of contacts exactly, so there was no other group of people in my life entirely unrelated to the thing that was predominant for me at any given time.

That's changed now, and the diverse makeup of my friends, acquaintances and well-wishers is such that any one thing I'm heavily into may indeed be unknown to a substantial portion of people in my life. I, without any motives or agenda other than sharing my enthusiasm, have organically discussed those things. This has been just because I have enjoyed them. Evidently my joy and overall apparent prosperity in life have done a sales job that I never thought I would be capable of with a conscious effort.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

To The Movies

I don't seem to go to the movie theater terribly often- certainly not as often as I would like to. That I recently did so seems like reason enough to contemplate the process. It used to begin by consulting the morning's newspaper. Each theater in town had its listings together on the same couple of pages in the entertainment section, and it was kind of like some big commando operation in a war movie, all the concerned parties leaned over the table it was spread out on and pointing at things while making their respective cases for what to do. The fact that we might even being going was exciting in itself, and the feeling reminds me of that particular scene in 'Annie'. Of course, it's not quite like that now. I could make a tired point about prices at this point, but feel like there's no need. We now go to a website to check the listings, sometimes buying tickets then and there. I tend not to do that.

I also usually shy away from snacks, excepting for where it's possible to engage in subterfuge and enjoy something from home. I remember one day going to see either 'Episode One' or 'The Matrix' and attempting to brazenly bring in hot, buttered toast. The theater staff was not accommodating, failing to relent even when I made the point that they did not sell toast. Another day, a theater-bought ice cream treat impaired my ability to watch 'The Empire Strikes Back' during its re-release. Plenty of other times, my focus was disrupted by a need to visit the bathroom. I don't do that, as I can't bear to miss any part of the movie. It seems like all I can think about are distractions like those, many of which are unrelated to food. During Peter Jackson's 'King Kong' my contacts were bothering me. During a forgettable DeNiro thriller, I experienced discomfort having my arm around my date's shoulder.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fidelity, I Guarantee

I have written in the past about wrestling with the difficulties that lie in the reconciliation of conflicting events scheduled in my agenda. As I then noted, it's difficult in such cases to made the hard decision to back out of one thing or another, as committed as I am to the impossible goal of pleasing all. In a sense, though, it's an easy thing to do in that it's physically impossible to do both things. A decision must be made, and in the end it's not possible to weaken and attempt both short of 80s-style sitcom antics. Not having any friends who would be game for posing as either me or my wife, I don't do that. As I said, in the end, a choice is made for better or worse because I can't delude myself into thinking it not necessary. There are other situations, however, where I very much can delude myself into believing I can do it all.

The thing is that just because two events take place at different times, it doesn't make it any more possible for me to do both. Take a recent sequence of two things I made myself believe I could do. A frenzied afternoon and evening culminated in an improv show. I wounded up pressed into duty as a performer, but that has nothing to do with having drawn the night out any longer or making it any more arduous. I knew very well that I would be out late carousing (to the extent that such can be done at a fast food restaurant), just as I knew that I was committed to attending my Friday morning Toastmasters meeting and giving a speech there. I persuaded myself that I could do both. Reality struck around midnight that I would not be able to turn around and do justice to my morning plans. I resigned myself to opting out of the thing which was unlucky enough to happen second, hoping that I had not yet exhausted the well of goodwill I had built up among my fellow members in that club.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"They're Sensitive To Questions".

I have previously written about sustaining a superficial wound from a pair of sunglasses. This led me to shy away from wearing them for a while, but I have gotten back into the habit of doing so now that my fear has faded and I have grown more appreciative of the value there is in wearing them. Of course, the very best reason for wearing sunglasses is that they protect the eyes from deadly, insidious UVB rays. The pair I wear may not serve this purpose as well as some, for they are a very cheap pair. I have to imagine that they are some help, but if I were really serious about that I would probably spend more money to get a pair dedicated to screening out the unseen enemy light.

Luckily, even my pair does a fine job of protecting my eyes from the visible light spectrum. As I walk around on the street during the day somewhat often, I would find myself squinting and suffering intense adverse effects from the sun's distant bombardment. Sunglasses are indispensable when walking into the sun. I was commenting the other day about how there seems to be no government concern at all about people driving into the sun as it rises and sets. I think that it's far too dangerous to permit any driving towards the sun at those times. Better that travel be slowed than for lives to be sacrificed in the interest of "convenience". In any event, the sunglasses do help with regard to the sun.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Unchained Exhaustion

I've written about sleep in the past, and come at the matter from different angles. Much of it has been the difficulty of making it happen. Dreams have been the next biggest focus. All that presumes that an attempt at sleep is even possible. Whether it is or isn't, there are those times when I at least don't make that attempt, and one runs through the stages of bodily breakdown and failure. A recent all-nighter (mercifully rare these days) got me thinking about all this. I have read some about what happens in extreme cases. One can hold out for less time without sleep than either food or water, or so I understand. As a boy I recall musing on my father's warning about what would become of me should I fail to sleep. He unwisely chose the risk of frightening hallucinations as an attempt to set me straight. I wondered about what they might look like. Given that I was and remain rather captive to my imagination, the prospect seemed rather appealing, though I never experienced such things.

Sleep deprivation and perhaps the hallucinations that can come from it inspired 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'. There was this man sometime in the late 70s or early 80s who suddenly became terrified to sleep. He spoke of nightmares, and consumed prodigious amounts of stimulants to forestall sleep. One day, he finally crashed, and his relieved family put him to bed, where he died. It seems only natural that filmmakers would have been so interested as to develop a film from that, as I have myself seen some less dramatic but nonetheless interesting things, facilitated by my work in films. It may be that the persistent use of legal stimulants renders my observations invalid as science, but you ought to enjoy them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Fate Of Narcissus

I enjoy looking at my reflection in mirrors. Rather, I should say that I enjoy looking at it in reflective surfaces. Naturally, that thought leads me to the negative perception of such a habit, hence the title I adopted for this post. It's not exactly that I'm so enamored with my looks, however. Certainly not to the degree that I have any expectation of suffering what befell Narcissus himself. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised by the generally positive look I manage to haphazardly pull together. I think that my reaction is something like getting a solid meal from room service at a so-so motel. As I said, though, that's not the general motivation. There are a few reasons.

I'm sure of that because I have no real interest in gazing at myself in the mirrors where I live. I think that's because I really look at the mirror in search of an objective image of myself. The mirrors at home feel subjective somehow- not quite like funhouse mirrors, but more like introspective mirrors. I guess it's psychological. When I go out on the street, I walk along the sidewalk and examine the world, but as I look at the people, cars, and things, I look over at the reflective surfaces that make up the buildings. Somehow because there are people around who see me, when I look at my reflection in their presence I feel like I'm maybe seeing what they see. I try to elicit from people their perception of me in conversation, but it doesn't seem to work.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oracular Journalism

I didn't study journalism (or as those who did say, go to "j-school"), but I like to think myself qualified of critiquing the efforts of those who did as much as the efforts of those who pursued any degree I didn't. This is because I am fairly well experienced in consuming the end result of journalists. Probably reading a newspaper on even an infrequent basis these days makes me an authority and a connoisseur. The amount of news I read online definitely does. The large amount of television news I watch might be a mark against me, but I think I'm still pretty justified in passing judgement on the efforts of reporters of any medium. What I think is that my mother makes for a better journalist than many of them on the strength of her time as a graphic artist. Illustrations for local business advertisements are honest and noble- qualities not guaranteed to be found around the newsroom.

The  reason which compelled me to write has to do with the sources journalists employ for their work, not just in print but in all media. I have come to believe that many of them are leaning very heavily on the occult in order to learn the most compelling information that graces their work. It's an unfortunate truth that much of what one would most like to know about a person is deep inside their mind, and the layman has no means of unlocking it. The layman, of course, has not attended journalism school, where they have ways of seeing inside minds, hearts and souls all. I wonder indeed at this gift which allows them to casually report the inner workings of a subject's very cerebrum.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bump And Run

When you go out of the house, you go with the expectation of being alone or with people. In my life, it has generally been my experience that when I start out alone, that doesn't change by surprise. I guess that's mainly been due to a dearth of friends on my part. There was not no one to bump into exactly, but so few that it didn't really happen. I have often run into strangers, but there's nothing remarkable about that. It can't really be said that you're "bumping into" someone you don't know. What's happened now, though, is that the numbers of those who I know are making rapid gains against those who I don't know. More interesting still is how highly concentrated many of them are in my own neighborhood. It makes for some rather startling moments.

Few friends live up where I do in North Hollywood. Even so, that seems to be where many unexpected encounters happen. Numerous times I have run across several particular friends while patronizing my local lending library. There is one who for some time I have looked around for every time I go there, so often does she herself visit the library to avail herself of the free wireless internet. Now there are a few others who I may hear calling my name as I walk towards the building or away from it. As I said, it's an incredible shock to my system. I still don't expect it to happen, because I see even my friends existing on another plane given that they drive and I don't. It's like they flit around high in the air above me, often near but still always far. Thus, to see them while out and about is like seeing one's clergyman at a bar or some such thing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Nice To Be Nice

I wonder how readers would describe the tone of my writing. It might be said that couched in the eloquent, formal language that has my work rated at a middle school reading level is an irascible, bad-tempered quality. This general churlishness is at odds with my desires and best intentions. I'd like nothing more than to be entirely sunshine and rainbows. The closest I come to that is when I get very silly, and often my niceness isn't expressed in words because I'm recklessly dancing at the time. Let it never be said, however, that I don't appreciate the value of being nice. It's just that like fixing cars, I don't know very well how.

Smiling a lot helps. Someone who smiles by default is a long way towards being nice. I don't really do that. Smiling comes only if called out by something rather funny. It's something to work on as a performer, I guess. I suppose I look better to others when smiling, but when I smile in a mirror, all I see are the countless lines it makes in my face. Maybe it sounds silly, but I'm as concerned about getting older as anyone, and I don't like seeing those lines. I won't be getting operated on for them, but I don't like them. Not smiling makes the lines stay away. That's not a factor in my not smiling, but it is a plus. I guess I just have to trust in the value of smiling and hope that enough things come around to provoke it in me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Do You Know The Way To Sherman Oaks?

I have reported here previously the news that I shall be moving from my apartment, and have shared my feelings about it and the resulting search for new quarters. That being the case, it's both a coincidence and overkill that my beloved improv class has itself changed to a new practice space. The place we have left deserves description, as do both the new place and the reasons for going from one to the other. The nature of a practice space is such that you are really putting yourself out there as a performer: unlike in an actual performance venue, you're doing things you're not incredibly confident about, and so you absolutely must have a place to do them in which is, as Ashford and Simpson said, solid as a rock. There's more to the list of requirements, but that is paramount.

The old place, which we called "The Barn" for its relative resemblance, had more of the 'more' than it had the security. It was an intimate place of endless character. To be there was to put you in a certain state of mind, wherefrom very potent development of craft came. It was the very antithesis of a sterile, antiseptic place. It was a lived-in one; a used place in the very good sense which applies to a baseball mitt or an Alaskan prospector's sourdough pan. There was a lovely piano, old furniture and shelves of old books. It was kind of like an attic kept up by old people- a simile helped out by the riding mechanism which helped the infirm ascend its staircase. Obviously I'm sentimental about the place. Maybe I'm delusional, but there really was a kind of romantic quality about it, which may have even been because of the discomforts particular to it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I've written about losing things before, but a string of events has transpired that makes it seem worth writing about a somewhat related matter. There's losing things and there's forgetting things. Forgetting your keys is if you leave them in the door of the house and then sheepishly retrieve them. Losing them is if they're in your pocket at the beach and fall out in the water. The thing that separates the two things could be in the state of mind that holds sway over the person in question. In all practicality, though, I guess the only real difference is in the outcome. In the former case, it's a lot easier to laugh about it. As I said, I've forgotten a number of things lately under what might be called singular but mundane circumstances.

Perhaps a month and a week ago, I went grocery shopping. The store is on the main boulevard which marks the western boundary of our block. I'd say that it's about half a mile away, and I walk to and from it when I shop. It's fair to say that I'm hot and tired when I come back, usually with several heavy bags which I'm working hard to keep from breaking and spilling my groceries on the sidewalk. On this particular occasion, I brought them to the door, set them down as I grabbed my keys to unlock the door, and went inside. Hours later, my roommate came home incredulous that I had left my groceries out in front of the door for almost half the day. I could scarcely believe it myself. It was dismaying to say the least.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hair Trigger

Of great interest to me personally is hair. That can hardly set me aside from very many, but it is the case. Maybe I feel that my enthusiasm for the subject is great for my presumed knowledge that I'm destined by breeding to lose my hair someday. Who wouldn't love something harder knowing that it's fleeting? Certainly I love my hair, and perhaps only now for the first time can I really say that. It's gone through different stages of progression, as have all things Calder as I have sought to settle on things that suit me best. I think I may have found the hair style that I prefer to hang on to until the day that I have to find the stylish appeal in partial and ultimately total baldness.

Fancifully based on the work of Rene Magritte though it is, the profile picture of me which graces this blog represents my hairstyle not terribly badly. You have to imagine it as being significantly more curly, for it is naturally so. I am not someone who goes to great lengths in attempting to make things more than they are to begin with. I'd be about as likely to get cosmetic surgery as to get a perm. I like my curls. At its most extreme length, they have a delightful way of tickling my ears, and I feel them move when I walk or engage in feats of athleticism. It's very pleasant.

Friday, August 6, 2010

While The Clock Ticked

I have mentioned that I will soon be moving. Thus has been precipitated the hunt for new digs. There's some amount of interest for me in the search- a small amount which is largely outweighed by the unease of uncertainty and the onerous, energy and time intensive process. I do somewhat like considering the life I may live in each place, based on what it offers and where it is. The last time I moved, I settled on something found on Craigslist at the deadline. It had the virtue of being a place I had been approved for, which could not be said for any other places. I have enjoyed the specific amenities of four walls and a roof, but now hope for something more.

As they say, location is paramount. I hope to find something very central. Important in my case is to find something in an area where there is a great abundance of reliable public transportation options. It will be very much to the credit of any place I consider if it is near a train station as well as a bus which runs 24 hours a day. To have a place like that again, as I once did, would allow me to rely less on kind friends who will surely report their sympathy for me exhausted before too long. Of course, a significant uptick in my fortunes would render this particular consideration somewhat less important, but the general idea of being in the middle of it all would still appeal to me considerably. Downtown and Hollywood are on my list.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Keep Your Stumbles To Yourself

I remember an anecdote about someone who was an extra on a film or television shoot. It was a street scene, and she was carrying groceries through the background. During a take, she tripped and fell. Afraid that she had ruined the shot, she rushed up to the camera, frantically warning the crew that she had tripped and fell. Of course, the director and the rest of the crew were livid. This person had been an out-of-focus blob the size of a thumbnail until she came up into the foreground and interrupted the actors. If she had only kept her mouth shut and done what people naturally do when they trip and spill their groceries, at worst no one would have noticed. At best, people could very well have mistaken this accident for a deliberate choice and rewarded her.

A lot of mistakes that we make are like that: imperceptible to the observer and dangerous to us only if we say something. In that respect it's kind of like Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart". It was the unrestrained conscience of the murderer which did him in. When it comes to the work of others, and particularly artwork, I always discourage people from saying anything about flaws. The reality is that only the artist will ever know what was meant to be, and which parts of what is are mistakes that mar the piece. Have you ever heard the joke about a painting hanging in a gallery which garners great praise until the artist comes and turns it upside-down as he intended?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Move It On Over

Something rather unexpected happened a few days ago at the homestead. It looks as if I will be moving out of my place and into a new one in about a month, not so long after the time I expect this blog to reach 400 posts. The knowledge that I am not long for the apartment I sit in as I write this of course let me to reflect on the past two years here. I guess that's not very long to live in one place, but I managed to get a lot into that time. Most of what I have accomplished in LA has happened while I have lived here. My early, nascent days happened first at the hostel in Koreatown for a month and then at the split-level duplex in Highland Park for the following year, but North Hollywood is kind of where I've found my way out here.

I wasn't eager to move here. I had left Highland Park, where I was very happy, because of a crisis in whose making I had no part. The owners had been pocketing rent checks and not paying the mortgage without saying anything, so it was very interesting to come home to a foreclosure notice on the door one night. The owners had been paying the utilities, so we came to realize the lights could go off any time, and the bank informed us upon taking possession that they would not be charging rent but might decide to demand all back rent at any time. It seemed right to get out, and I took about the first thing I could off of Craigslist.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Star Is Boring

I recently had a fairly singular experience- one which most people don't have, but which enough people do have and go without tangible reward for that my head has not swelled any. I allude obliquely to, of course, to the screening at a highly-reputable short film festival of a piece I acted in. I've been in a ever-lengthening list of sketch comedy videos aimed at the internet, but this was really the first time my face wound up in something else. It was a most interesting and gratifying experience, and I felt I could not now let it go without comment.

We shot the movie some months ago, so there was considerable emotional distance. In fact, just a few hours before the screening was to commence, I was not planning on attending. The reason for that does not really seem adequate now. It felt as if my contributions to the film were not so great that my presence would seem to people like a foregone conclusion. Getting to West Hollywood, the location of the screening, from North Hollywood is surprisingly difficult. Additionally, the improv class to which I have become so attached was saying goodbye to the beloved building it had been in for what felt like so long. To miss that seemed like not watching Johnny Carson's last night on the Tonight Show.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Balance Of Interest

I think I've spoken of my habit of reading to pass the time while on public transportation. I've also mentioned how I sometimes have trouble focusing on that. I do have other things that I end up doing with that time. The phone now does many things to occupy me, sometimes even when I'm on the subway, where signals cannot penetrate (unless the operating agency springs for infrastructure which allows it to). Sometimes I get too drowsy to do either of those things, or I'm too preoccupied with making sure I don't miss a stop on an unfamiliar trip. I choose one alternative to reading more often than any of those, however: people-watching. It's most often practiced at places like the beach or the mall, but I don't spend a lot of time in those places, and I enjoy indulging in harmless voyeurism as much as the next law-abiding decent person.

I often want to cast people in a film. Sometimes I contemplate casting an entire film with people from a single bus or train car. Sometimes I see the same random assortment of people as something like an unspoken, surrogate family or circle of friends. Let's say I'm on a train. Each stop compels me to say goodbye to some, but hello to others. Naturally, I hope for the exchange to be a favorable one from my point of view. I turn towards the doors, looking to see who among the strangers I have gotten used to seeing I'm losing, and what fresh faces I can count on seeing for at least the next couple of minutes. It's often bittersweet, and sometimes just bitter when the car loses some good ones and gets no one good back.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

When The Wheels Come Off

For me as much as for anyone, there are no shortage of reminders that I am only human. Once I get to be riding very high in any respect, there always comes the humbling moment to bring me back down to terra firma. This is the case where the body is concerned as well as the mind. I never have been the kind of person with an aptitude for athletics. My greatest achievement of that kind was to block two shots in succession during a pick-up basketball game during the sixth grade. After that, it's all downhill. If I were ever to forget that and let myself believe that I were in possession of physical attributes allowing me to go above and beyond the capacity of ordinary men, recent events would surely have set me straight with no possibility of confusion.

It will be no surprise that this humbling came in the context of partying. I have a lot of friends these days, and my friends throw a lot of parties. At these parties there is not always a lot of alcohol and never substance abuse, but two things on which you may rely as a near-certainty are themed costume parties and dancing. Always is there dancing. I will never be described as the finest dancer in the group, but I'm always game. On a recent weekend, a string of parties was planned. It started off with a party of complicated provenance held in the neighborhood of MacArthur Park, right down the street from the Mexican Consulate. It went rather late and was marked by nearly uninterrupted thumping music and dancing to match. I did my best, and then went home.