Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Word On The Street

I think I have written about the way man lags behind his own technology, creating it and using it ineptly for years. Many years after they should have known better, armies were marching right into machine gun fire. It's a slow process to catch up. Awareness is like that as well, it seems to me. When something happens in your life, it takes forever for the word to get around. While evidence of this has been piling up for some time, I only started to really thing about it the other day.

At the end of last year, I was under consideration for a promotion to a higher level in my improv program. I had been telling people with the caveat that it was not certain to happen. Sure enough, while everyone found out that it might happen, it got muddled along the way and many people never found out that it didn't happen. Even now, with the thing getting revived for a second chance, I still occasionally hear from people who think that it happened the first time.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The No Name Defense

Something you may notice from my writing in this blog is my reticence towards the use of names. It may be so that it is more difficult to read that way, for I know that it is harder to write. I have my reasons, you may rest assured of that. Where people I know are concerned, I do take care to 'protect the innocent' by leaving out their names and trusting that the people who ought to know will and that those who ought not to suffer none from it.

More important are the proper names which belong to various concerns in the private sector. I feel very strongly about not naming businesses if I can help it. I get nothing from promoting their brands, and let it be  known throughout the land that I do not help those who don't need it for nothing. Anyone who is doing better than I am can certainly afford to compensate me properly for prostrating myself. Anyone who is not doing as well as I am- well, God help them.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shirts & Skinned

The subject of youthful attempts at participation in organized sports came up recently. I recounted my exploits in soccer as well as tee ball and 'coach pitch' baseball. My general recollection was of an uneven distribution of enthusiasm for athletics among the boys. I more or less enjoyed it, although I was neither terribly skilled nor very well informed about how either game was played. My ignorance was far less an issue with soccer, it seems to me- how could one fail to grasp the big picture of kicking the ball into the net?

At any rate, when I think of the highlights and low lights of either sport, two stand out in my experience. Coming second was the awards banquet, invariably held at some kids-themed pizza place. We ate pizza, drank soda and sat back to receive various awards. I was virtually guaranteed 'Most Improved Player' year in and year out. For some time I took a measure of pride in this, although I recognized even then the ignominy implicit in it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Drop It And Run

I'm a man of habits. Some things become habitual as a means of ensuring that they get done, and other things have a reasoning behind them that is far more nebulous. I just slip into autopilot, and I'm in the middle of something before I realize that it's started. On the whole, it's a positive thing, and nowhere is this more so than during my morning routine. A small part of it is the making of my coffee. I clean the carafe, fill it up to four cups, empty that into the machine, then scoop in a corresponding amount of the grinds. A few minutes later, I pour a cup and spoon in the creamer and sugar.

That last part is deceptively involved. I have a way of doing things that may not have any logical basis. I use three spoons for the cream and sugar. I use two plastic spoons to deposit the cream and sugar in. I fear stirring the hot coffee with plastic, lest chemicals leach into the beverage and make it more lethal than it already is according to my formulation. That being the case, I employ a third spoon of metal merely for the stirring.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friend Finder

I recall some time ago ruminating on the matter of spotting a city bus coming down the street as I stand there wringing my hands in fear of being late for some engagement. It's not easy, for the reasons that I then outlined. A similarly difficult search came to my attention in the very bar I spoke of yesterday. It was exceptionally crowded, but I trust that the occupancy of the place fell within legal limits because I prefer to believe the best in people.

I was at this bar with several friends, and as much fun as I have there, I would never go there or be there alone. It was for that reason that I considered it to be of paramount importance that I keep those friends within sight. I would say that I managed to do it mostly. It was impossible to keep an eye on all of them, particularly as I was engaged in similar activities to those which repeatedly took them out of my sight. I did my best.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In View Of The Coolness

I've lived in the modern surroundings of first-world cities all my life, but I take nothing for granted and let no part of my circumstances go without circumspection. To be indoors is an experience which has consumed probably most of the hours in my life, and yet I found it rather remarkable briefly one night not so long ago. I was in a bar dancing with friends as a DJ played track after track of thumping hip hop beats. Along one wall of the space were several windows, some cracked open.

It reminds me of some story wherein a man forced to spend the night out in the cold takes solace from being able to see a fire off in the distance. I think of it from time to time in connection with different contexts. In this case I describe it was quite the opposite, for inside it was far too warm, physical exertion and alcohol doing what they will. Being able to see outside where the air was so brisk and only occasionally feeling it directly was nothing short of tortuous.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Slaking Point

They say that if you put a lobster in a cold pot of water and gradually turn up the heat to boiling, he will never notice and consequently never make a fuss, whereas if you plop him into boiling water to begin with, he would scramble madly in a desperate bid to save his life. The point is that things that happen so gradually are hard to track by feel, and so are quite dangerous. Getting drunk is like that, and so I find the practice worth contemplation.

It's interesting when, during a night of drinking, you realize that a friend has gotten to the point of real intoxication.  The process for them is gradual, happening drink by drink. For me the realization is quite sudden. For a long time, they just seem happy and exuberant. Suddenly it is apparent that it's not just that. It may be so that I would be able to follow the progress of alcohol's effects if I kept my eye on a particular person without wavering, but it's a party and my focus is flighty at best...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Perplexed And Nigh On Vexed

It doesn't take much to get me thinking a lot about something at length. I can get fixated at the drop of a hat. Still there are those triggering events which would have anyone thinking about what they had seen. Then also there are those things that I think anyone would be fascinated by but in fact only I would be, and I think they are of universal interest because I am that deeply out of touch. Some months ago I saw something that probably falls into that last category.

There I was on the subway in my favorite seat: the one which faces inward rather than towards the front or rear of the train. This has the effect of ensuring that I don't face backwards and get nauseous (as has happened), but there is the byproduct of compelling me to face another human being and somehow manage to not stare at them. It's a tough feat and I seldom manage it. On this particular occasion of such failure, there was this girl across from me.I still can't figure her out.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sidle Unto The Breach

Conversation can be difficult for me. Most people who know me will be surprised to hear that, probably because most of the people I know I have met in the last three or so years as I have opened up socially. Prior to that time I was more subject to the symptoms which got me diagnosed with Asberger's Syndrome, which is commonly described as a mild form of autism. I guess that I must have beaten it, but that is not to say that it does not sometimes affect me.

It's sort of like how things go for a young novice cyclist. Starting and stopping are both very difficult and fraught with peril, but in between, the act can be carried out with little trouble if any. Oh, the mighty struggles I've endured trying to get into a conversation! Smart phones have been a real blessing, because I can whip out my phone and pretend that I'm engaged in some kind of important business when in truth I am once again the wallflower that I used to be all the time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hear Tell Of Cigarettes

You see some pretty vile practices in evidence out in public. People spit on the sidewalk, go through the garbage and just plain smell awful. I recall walking to a party in a neighborhood of poor reputation and being asked for a cigarette by a man in the act of urinating in public. That was what you call a two-fer of unpleasant behavior. None of those are very subtle offenses to the sensibility, I think that we all can agree.

I thought to write on this subject after consideration of a significantly more subdued crime. I guess it is more a case of being insensible than insensitive. Undoubtedly you have seen the same thing, maybe without noticing it or finding it remarkable in the least. What I refer to is the act of placing a new, unlit cigarette behind the ear with the intent to smoke it imminently. I see this quite a bit on the subway and in other places where smoking is forbidden.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Curse Of Cussing

While I do my best when it comes to speaking the English language in a grammatically correct fashion, I'm no saint when it comes to the implementation of those infamous Anglo-Saxon words of such objection. I hasten to note that I don't swear as much as some. Nonetheless, I find that those words are an inextricable part of my vocabulary and speech. That being the case, I have a powerful curiosity about their use.

You might think that I would start delving into the history of foul language, given my great interest in history. Interestingly enough, I find that I have no real interest in the origins of four letter words or the evolution in their use. Their utility is something I think about considerably more. People just cannot seem to do without them, and that's actually a shame when you think about how much more fun common substitutes can be. To say "Shut the front door" or "Doggone it" shows as much creativity as it does sensitivity.

Friday, May 20, 2011

O Awesome!

Being in the middle of the nation's second most populous city, the opportunities to observe the natural world that were so plentiful once upon a time back home are minimal. Human nature here is wild and wooly enough to make up for the lack of actual wild animals mostly, but there still is an unfilled void. Happily it is filled by the grace of God. It's something like how a flower or a clump of grass can grow through the crack in a paved road. Life has boundless determination, and will find a way.

A particular life form showed to a friend and I its zeal to exist as I walked with her to her car parked out on the street near my apartment building. It so happened that we found ourselves walking through the parking garage rather than the lobby. It was this providence that put us in a position to witness the seldom seen opossum that dwells in our parking garage. Having seen it before, I was not entirely shocked by its appearance as was my companion, but it was a kind of a surprise.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gimme Soda

When I was young enough that I didn't habitually carry anything in my pockets and a quarter seemed nearly as large as my entire palm, I patronized vending machines quite a bit. An inextricable part of my memories from searing Arizona summers is that trip to the machine, wherever it was found, to put in fifty cents and get a cold can of soda in return. I don't imagine that surviving the very climate in which I was forged would have been possible otherwise.

It's just fascinating to contemplate the outsized value I then put on a can of soda. When you think about it, the profit margin on cans of soda at the price for which they're sold in a vending machine is obscenely high. They're not worth remotely near that much, and yet those sodas were like gold to me. It was an awfully good day when I had cause to want a soda and both the money and opportunity necessary to buy one.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I was recently witness to as serious and hard-fought a negotiation as I can remember. There I was in the video section of the local library, trying to pick out a few. It being a few minutes before closing, a number of people were trying to pore over the same shelves as I, and I could not help but overhear a conversation which intrigued me to no end. It was between a little boy of perhaps seven or eight and his mother, and the two of them were the immovable object and unstoppable force of legend.

The first thing I heard was a trial balloon floated by the boy: could he have this movie? I regret that I cannot name the film he wanted, as it would have been unseemly to display open interest. I can say that the maternal reply was in the negative. Shrewdly hoping to head off further inquiry, she offered the rationale that the film was too violent and generally too adult for the boy. One might think that this would be the end of it, but that would be to underestimate the fortitude of this child.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Eyes Upon Me

A thing happened the other day when I was leaving the library as it closed. I paused just outside in the shade to untangle the earbuds of my shuffle. I did so and began to leave. As I went to press play, a voice called out to me. I turned, and saw a presumably high school-aged girl addressing me. She had said, "I like your moustache!" I don't hear that very often from anyone, and it is especially rare to hear it from anyone of the female gender. She went on to compliment my blue eyes with equal enthusiasm. I thanked her, reluctantly put my sunglasses on and left.

Given the girl's age the compliments felt like a bag full of money covered in security ink, but I was flattered nonetheless. Of greater interest was that she or anyone had noticed me at all. It might seem surprising for an admittedly distinctive-looking man who sometimes performs in front of modestly-sized crowds to say so, but I don't often think about the fact that people would notice me. I'm well enough accustomed to friends spotting me on the street. A lot of my friends live around me, I'm out there walking around quite a bit, and as I said, I am easy enough to pick out of a group.

Monday, May 16, 2011

No Comment

I try to be a hopeful person and believe the best in people. It's not easy, but it helps to know so many wonderful people here who are smart, funny, kind and generous. They are enough to give you great hope in the future of humanity, and that would develop into a downright optimistic and exuberant attitude if I never left the presence of those people for the others who make up the bulk of humankind. This is where I begin to sink into despair.

The place where it's probably the worst is in comment threads online. I speak of that well-intentioned feature which lets everyone chime in on the merits of some video or have a reasoned, even-tempered debate on the issues raised by some news article. Unfortunately, I can't say that I've even once seen things play out that way. The best you can hope for is a smattering of inane, mindless praise. It really doesn't get any better than "Wooo!"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

This Is Not A Review

I love movies. Considering that I went to film school and moved to Los Angeles to earn a living making them, I'd be in a world of hurt if I wasn't a big fan. Just when it began is difficult to say. I remember a select few films from my early youth. Perhaps it was the summer my cousin came to visit, turning me on to everything from making Warhammer 40,000 figurines to gangster rap. It didn't all stick, but movies did. He got me into spaghetti westerns and Kubrick's 2001, and I went from there.

I have developed a reputation as some kind of encylopedia among the people I know here. I find it not uncommon to hear that within a few hours of meeting someone. That being the case, people are often surprised by the movies I haven't seen. You just can't see them all, and I have an affection for the obscure and little-loved. There's just so much time for watching movies, and acquiring a social life has only exacerbated the problem.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Break It Down

Only by consulting the archives of this blog can I recall that I began it as early as January of 2009. If you yourself go back as far as that, you'll see that it was something rather different then. I was itching to write some kind of blog- any blog, really. I started it before having decided what it would be about, and the decisions I made on what to call it and what it should look like reflect that uncertainty. To date I remain unfocused, and probably it has suffered as a result.

Beginning with February of that year, I had a strong run of five months in terms of frequency. It would probably pain me too much to say what quality of writing I was doing. The latter months of that summer marked the inception of a lull which drew on for some time and was only intermittently interrupted by fleeting bursts of good intentions. The following spring brought an end to that, as I firmly resolved that I would write and publish every single day without fail. There would be no excuses if I got tired or busy or didn't want to.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"I Better Write That Down"

You will have noticed that no new material appeared here on the day of Thursday, May 12th. A persistent technical glitch from this blog's host resulted in no post being published. It seems worth noting that it was the first such day since March 9th of last year. I consider it to have been a remarkable feat that I managed to publish every day for one year, two months and three days (and was thwarted in my intentions to go on in that way indefinitely only by some manner of outside error). I am more proud still of the fact that some of those pieces were good. I shall now embark upon an effort to improve upon that streak.

In addition to today's previously scheduled (and already published) post, please enjoy now yesterday's planned offering as apology and consolation for the void unfilled by my words.


I love self-contained things. I'm something of a completist, but also love nothing more than simplicity, so I will always buy something that has everything I need in it rather than go through the nerve-wracking process of getting it all individually and assembling it myself. That's what I did when I had to buy the airline toiletries. I saw a package of everything, and I grabbed it with relief. That's also what I do most often when shopping.

There's a particular thing I just love getting on half the trips I make to the grocery store. I go right to the deli  area. Now, it's generally closed during the hours that most of my visits occur, but it's not the services of its staff that I'm after. It's those sandwiches. They have a bunch of wrapped-up sandwiches available for purchase at all hours. Just 3.99 plus tax secures me a seventeen ounce sandwich with cheese, lettuce and a choice of turkey, ham or roast beef.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Slump Buster

Something often spoken of with much fear is the dreaded writer's block. It's something that I may or may not have suffered. I have struggled to write on plenty of occasions, but the nature of this blog is that I generally need not force anything particular. I merely need wait until an idea worthy of some four or five hundred words comes to mind. Sometimes it takes a little time, and that's why I'm always endeavoring to have a reserve of posts ready to go so that I don't have to go with something I don't really like just so that I don't break the streak.

Lamentably, I have no such cushion at present. I have taken all the time I can afford to in hopes that something will come to me, and nothing really has. At fault, I believe, is that I have had no time to speak of alone with my thoughts. Idea generation has the two parts: first, I receive some manner of stimulation. It could be a party, a walk or a day's work, but it's something where I'm with people or at least not in my head.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where To?

I'm not the best at giving directions. To begin with, spatial reasoning and all that isn't my forte. I lose my bearings easily. Making matters worse, I have never driven much in this city. I have almost entirely used public transportation. That being the case, I can frequently give great directions on how to get from one place to another using the bus, but couldn't even guess at how you would drive yourself there. That being the case, I usually leave people looking to me for directions disappointed.

It has happened more than I would have guessed it would. I'm walking down the street minding my business, or perhaps standing at the corner waiting for the light to change. A stranger pulls up, rolling his window down. He wants to know how to get to someplace that I may or may not have been to myself. I strain to think of what he needs to do, because I want to be of help although I get little out of it. Sometimes I can help, and sometimes I can't. More often I would say that I can't help.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Great Hate

Difficult circumstances are remarkable in that they lay bare otherwise well-hidden aspects of our darker nature. We all certainly must hide things of which we're not proud or which scare us, which makes one wonder of some people what they're hiding if that's what they're showing. In any case, I know that I reveal to myself at least if to no one else a most unreasonable, judgmental and downright hateful side when I am late getting somewhere.

I am thinking of a time some months ago when I was hustling down into the subway station to catch the train. It was leaving imminently, and I found myself on the stairs behind a man not so far from my age who evidently had some manner of physical frailty to contend with. He was doing his best to hobble down before the train pulled away, I'm sure. In my mind I was playing the role of a profane horse trainer, cursing him out and exhorting him to move faster. Because I was at risk of being late meeting a friend, in that moment I hated the poor, innocent man. Of course missing the train had no consequences for me, and I was quite ashamed of my thoughts.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Do Stop Believin'

I often know to write about something because I find myself fixating on some subject, angrily repeating words to myself over and over. I know I have to write about it partly, because it's best to choose subjects about which you care deeply and know well, but also because I have to break the cycle of thought that permits nothing else to happen in my mind except for that thing. This, I gather, is catharsis, and an excellent example of such writing is forthcoming.

If I asked you to characterize the trust level of people today, I would expect you to say that people are not trusting at all. They lock doors, decline hitchhikers and are generally cynical about people's motives for doing good, you will likely enough say. I have a different opinion. People may do those things, but I contend that they are maybe more credulous than ever. Certainly that is true of the press, and particularly so the sports media (if such a thing exists).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hazard Lane

I like my neighborhood. Maybe you thought that I was done musing on what I had found it it, but I never was going to be for long. New things surface over time, which is a nice consequence of having such a poor capacity for focus. Every walk along the same ground turns up fresh material. What I finally started to think about is this jogging/dog walking path that we have. I don't jog or have a dog, but I do use this path. It runs north and south for an indeterminate distance, and is separated from the major road by a hedge and the little adjacent street by a raised curb.

It's meant to be a nice green belt area to jog in and take your dog on for its exercise. It essentially serves that purpose well, given that people are more likely to do any such thing during daylight hours. The thing is that there are no lights worth noting anywhere near this path. No street light mars the perfect darkness of the main road anywhere in between the two nearest traffic light-governed intersections, which have got to be at least half a mile apart if not more. At night, you could not have a more ideal set of conditions for setting upon innocent citizens with ill intent than this path.

Friday, May 6, 2011

So What's It For?

I just don't understand some people. I don't think anyone could understand why they do what they do sometimes. They'll commit crimes by which there is no means to profit, and say things that just don't have any meaning. Again and again I see and hear things and ask myself, "Why?" There is generally no satisfactory answer forthcoming. There is one of those things by the apartment building adjacent to my own, and I hope you'll share my reaction.

It's their lawn. Now, you've got to love a lawn of lush, green grass. Certainly they're expensive to maintain and they require a tremendous amount of water and other scarce resources, but there's a reason people have them. They're beautiful and soft, and useful in a myriad of ways. It's a place to picnic, play sports and let your dog do his business. It's a safe place for the kids to roughhouse. Where there's a lawn, I'll be appreciating it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Stay On The Good Foot

It feels like I get hurt a lot. It also seems that I heal slowly. Maybe that's just my subjective perception, or maybe it's to do with my own behavior. When I hurt my thumb and had to get stitches, I was admonished by the doctor for being an uncooperative patient. I don't deny it. The trouble is that healing tends to really cramp my style. Having a hurt thumb made it harder to do a thousand things, but doing them at all may have slowed the process. It's just that I can't not do things.

Some time ago I rolled one of my ankles walking down some stairs. The smart thing would have been to stay off it until I was better, but I am hardly at liberty to stay on the shelf for as long as that takes, and I certainly don't have the inclination to walk on crutches or any such thing. I certainly try to go easy on it, and mainly manage it. I have been declining invitations to play basketball and do other non-essential things that I fear will be a problem, but I have to walk and do other things.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Shall I Wear Thee Nevermore?

Yesterday I wrote of walking through vegetation while misguidedly trying to follow the route laid out for me by an ignorant navigational program. That naturally made me think of an all too common tragedy. As slowly and difficultly as I accrue clothes, each item, particularly pants and items of a more dressy nature are precious. When one is fatally damaged, it's cause for significant anguish. Now, the commonality of this is only exacerbated by my ineptitude in doing laundry.

Take the pair of pants I was wearing the day I went to that concert. They were then my nicest pair of pants outside of those that are part of a suit. I wore them because I wanted to look very nice for the occasion, and didn't imagine I would be doing more with them than maybe sitting on a picnic blanket before the concert. I was certainly not prepared for the thistles and brambles and whatever else lined that road. They did a real number on my beloved pants. It's my hope that I can get the stains from those plants out, but knowing me the chances are less than average.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Machine Shall Lead Them

As incredible as the things that technology can do for us are, I don't think that it can do anything more impressive than consistently convince us that it can do more than it can. I understand that in the judicial system they now have trouble with juries weaned on years of criminal forensics shows which show lab technicians regularly performing miracles in garnering clues from the scene. Evidently it's a real problem, and that's not the only one.

People rely heavily on GPS-powered navigational programs. I do so as much as anyone, as it is a great help even on public transportation and sometimes on foot. Now, you can generally trust the directions given for driving or for public transit, but beware of what it tells you to do when walking. There's a very good reason why Google Maps maintains that its walking directions are in 'Beta Mode'. They just can't say very easily what route to take that way. It's partly that determining the quickest route is so tricky, and partly that plotting a course which it's safe to walk is so hard.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bureau Of Tourism

It's been quite some time since I posted any poetry. I suppose that my enthusiasm has waned somewhat, but I suspect that it will wax again at some time. After all, the prospect of being paid for writing remains a powerful motivator, and I am all the more confident of my ability to achieve it with poetry after having read what passes muster at the poetry periodical to which I have submitted work in the past. Perhaps I'm biased, but I happen to think my stuff is better.

This poem is meant to be longer, but I must confess that I grew impatient, and rashly stripped away the letter which I had in place to remind me of the rhyme scheme. I really don't even recall what form of poem it's supposed to be, but I do know it customarily has two more stanzas at least. Well, for once I will bend to the prevailing reading habits of the world and make something shorter and not longer. I do hope you'll enjoy it in spite of the fact that I have gone against my usual inclinations by speaking ill of my own work and not letting people work out whether it's good or not on their own. Maybe if it proves to be a good start I'll finish it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Two For Fun

There are the things I struggle with that everyone does, and these things make me relatable. I can make some remark about traffic or bargain shopping, and in this way people can identify with me. Not so with the many other things I must deal with but that no one else has a problem with. One is a particular kind of promotion for live comedy shows I go to. With a coupon, one can get two tickets for the price of one. This really is a good deal, but it has the downside of requiring two people.

As I said, almost no one would have a real issue with this. Maybe it's not any easier for them to round up a second, but I doubt they worry. I worry. I don't just feel the responsibility of coming up with someone for myself, but for everyone I know is going. It just snowballs. First I'm looking for someone to go with me. All I need is one person to fill out my two for one. Do I learn of just one person? No, I find out about two people who each need a second person as I do. One pairs up with me, but now I feel compelled to locate someone for this second person.