Thursday, June 30, 2011


There I stood on the balcony, enjoying the night air after a long day out and about. I had awoken at six in the morning, rushing to get ready and gather the things I would need for two more performances of a sketch comedy. Off we had gone to distant Pomona, breaking at midday upon the first performance's conclusion. I should have napped, but watched a movie with my roommate instead before heading downtown for the second successful performance. Returning home after, I was riding high... until it happened.

I was leaning over the edge of the balcony, resting my forearm on the wall. Suddenly, there was a pinch and a sharp pain! "Aaah!" I exclaimed, and in my pain I pressed against whatever had caused it. In a traumatized state, I fled the balcony, carefully closing the door behind me and rushing to wash the affected area. Immediately I decided that I must have been bitten by a spider. Naturally I began to wonder whether I might have been the victim of a rather venomous one such as a brown recluse or black widow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Got Me

I always have been a proud detractor of sushi. I have had it in the past, and just did not go for it (with eel being the lone positive experience). In my recollection, that was once a more commonly held attitude, with derision heaped on the raw fish in favor of the only nearly-raw hamburger or similarly conventional American fare. These days that seems to be less the case, and especially so in such a progressive cuisine city as LA (its singular hot dogs and donuts aside). For some time I've been feeling the pressure to get into sushi, and I have to admit that I have caved.

The thing that has done it is a now-traditional visit to a sushi restaurant for their 'happy hour' prior to improv class. Some good friends were doing this, and I was for some time begrudgingly ordering edamame and an iced tea so that I could justify being there and spending time with them. One day, I was in some rare kind of a mood and decided to try a couple things for the first time in a long time. They were pretty good, as have been most of the things I have tried after.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Pants

I know that I have commented on my antipathy towards clothes shopping, but I must go to the well once more. The story begins some months ago when I accidentally left behind my black slacks on a trip to visit my family. I struggled on for sometime in the absence of that very practical garment, but ultimately hit upon a situation in which I could not do without them. I was asked to play a stagehand in a comedy sketch, and was game to do so. I borrowed a pair of pants to do it, but decided I should just buy some when they asked us to perform the sketch a couple of more times two weeks later.

The thing to do was to patronize a thrift store, I imagined. I had no luck at the two nearest my home. An employee at one was apologetic that they had little in the way of such subtle and understated clothes, specializing as they do in more garish articles. The other just didn't have much of anything. Off I went to the next nearest, at which I would surely find something. It's times like this when I know Einstein's theory must be correct, for what could have been no more than an hour felt like ten.

Monday, June 27, 2011

In The Big Time

I have had more and more opportunities for performance in recent times. Naturally, these performances have been of a humble nature, and so the venues and accommodations have likewise been rather modest. One becomes accustomed to relatively little in the way of stages, crowds and other things, so it's really something when it's anything more than the auditorium of a church. Just such an occurrence transpired lately, and I felt compelled to share it.

We had already performed a comedic sketch two times a couple of weeks before, both at conventional church locations. One was superior where such things as the backstage are concerned, but neither could hold a candle to one of the places we performed in the other day. This was a legitimate theater rented out for services, and it looked every inch the grand older theater. It was lavishly decorated and boasted an impressive balcony. I could have imagined the Muppet Show taking place there.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Something that I believe I have addressed in some fashion is the habit I have of patronizing the local lending library's selection of DVDs. It reminds me of an incident from some years ago in Florida. I had never before visiting the library in Gainesville seen a place with such a robust selection of VHS tapes. I remember a man chiding a woman for selecting several just because they were free. That happens with me as well.

I'm in a routine now of having out three at any given time, and while I do a pretty good job of watching as many as I can, many of them go wanting since I check them out with no regard for what time I will actually have to watch them. It's sort of like I'm maintaining a rolling library of three discs just in case the opportunity will arise to watch them on a free night or even during the day. As I said, I do manage to watch a good number of them, but not all.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Allowed To Crowd?

There is something unpleasant that, as a result of my move in November, I have not had to do in some time. I had about forgotten about it. You see, I no longer have cause very often to travel north of the subway station here in the neighborhood. I used to have to everyday, as I lived up there. The unpleasantness comes when one has to get on the bus by that station. Many people transfer from the subway to the northbound bus- far more than the present frequency can comfortably accommodate. The result is buses packed more densely than a moving van.

I did have to ride that bus the other day, and the experience was the same as ever. It is idle outside the subway station for what feels like ten minutes as rider after rider jams themselves in. A palpable feeling of anxiety builds as the fear quickly develops that I may not be able to elbow my way to the exit in time to get out at my stop. I curse myself for not parking myself fright by the exit to begin with. It's deeply unpleasant, that ride.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Disposable Friend

When I get a ride to someplace, I'm with a friend and invariably have a delightful conversation. Want to or not, it seems only fair in the absence of a request for gas money. Usually I want to talk anyway. When I go someplace on public transportation, I am usually alone and expect to do nothing but read, listen to music or gawk at people. It really wrecks my plans if I end up talking to someone, but sometimes that is how it works out.

It's a fact that the people by whom you wind up ensnared in a conversation are not those from whom you would seek one. Sometimes it's a very unfortunate fact indeed. I can think of any number of people languishing on the margins of existence who have imposed a chat on me for want of anyone who knows them and would welcome one. What is there to do but listen to their vitriol or woe and pray for their stop to come soon?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

AC Savior

The weather in Southern California is generally far more pleasant than that which I had lived with anywhere previously. It doesn't get cold like Chicago, humid like Florida or blisteringly hot like Arizona, except when it does. It's all the worse here. Here you probably get a wall-mounted unit that cools the immediate area around it. During the two or so years I lived with that, we just didn't bother. I had my own little sweat lodge in my bedroom.

Here in the new place, we have that miracle wrought by God, central air conditioning. We try to use it sparingly, but when it's needed, it's worth it. Over the past few days, the temperature has grown rather more robust, signaling that a real summer is in the offing. I guess when the solstice hit, that was all she wrote. In any case, I finally had enough, and stalked over to the thermostat in a huff (heightened emotions seem to be the norm around that device). I activated it, and we quickly sealed the previously-opened windows.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Snack Bad

There are a number of informal or semiformal, quasi-social gatherings that I am party to these days, and such things depend on refreshments to grease the wheels.They say that an army marches on its stomach, and it's no less true for these other things. They boost morale and grant people the license, at least in their own mind, to interact with others. Well, someone has to pick them out, pay for them and bring them. It is a more thankless task than it might seem, and success is hardly assured.

When it falls upon me, the people are perhaps more likely than usual to be disappointed. This is for two reasons, the first of which is that I am exceedingly cheap when it comes to such things. I am loathe to spend any more more than I have to to produce an acceptable grade and amount of snack material. For this reason, people refreshing themselves on my dime must be content with store brand snacks, and second-rate stores at best.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Jungle Tamed

I believe I may have made reference in the past to the sidewalk which runs in front of my apartment building and on down the side street on which I live. Dependable sidewalks are not to be taken for granted here. Many streets in this city do not have any sidewalk to speak of, and on those that do, there are many points at which they are nearly impassable for one reason or another. The block on which my building lies has a good sidewalk on both sides, but one side on one end is rather treacherous at times.

It will not take any great stretch of your imagination to accept that the city is slow to carry out maintenance on things which would seem to be within its purview, sidewalks being among the most neglected. Forget about keeping the concrete of which they are made intact- it's more than they can manage to trim back the overgrowth on anything like a consistent basis. That's what makes this little area so interesting.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What Means This Dream?

I gather that we still don't really understand dreams. We don't know why we have them, or what they mean. I have been perceived by some as unique or twisted, but my dreams are not in the least unusual so far as I can figure. I've had some of those very common ones, such as showing up unprepared for a test at the end of the semester, or losing teeth. They are supposed to have some meaning, but I don't know whether that's true.

I've had unpleasant dreams, but not nightmares. I wake up with a start to realize that the horrible thing didn't really happen, but that goes both ways. I recently had a dream that was both terribly mundane and somewhat nice, with some strangeness thrown into the bargain. In my dream, I finally got some business cards. Every time I meet someone and desire to exchange information, they give me a card and they have to awkwardly get out their phone and take down my information. I was quite glad within the confines of this dream to get some cards.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I have long been loathe to throw anything away. Just as far back as I can remember, I have kept just about everything, regardless of how likely it is that there will be either immediate or eventual need of the thing. I'm just terribly afraid that some distant day will call for the thing, and it will be gone, never to be found again. I will be then be as lost as the thing I fruitlessly wish to have back. Of course, it seldom happens that this imagined scenario comes to pass, but when it does...

Just recently, I have experienced certain victories in this area that encourage me to go on in enduring the inconveniences of near-fatal clutter at every turn. No, these victories do not pertain to the filing of taxes or anything quite so practical, but they certainly are important in their own way. Surely when I tell you, you will agree that I am right to throw away nothing and shred nothing. It will either be that or you will sigh, slump your shoulders and hope that I will change my ways down the line anyway. Don't count on it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Next On The Hit List

It's always tough waiting for the other shoe to drop. As in most things, what is the most affecting is not the act or the aftermath. The former is a relief and the latter is seldom as bad as one may expect. No matter how sure you are that something will happen, some well-intentioned part of you insists that it may not, and so you wonder. The anticipation and the wondering are what ages a person. Better to have a horrible thing spring at you from nowhere than to be forewarned by any amount of time. Better to resign oneself to the worst.

That would be my recommendation to the two stores left in a strip mall near my home which is slowly but surely being renovated. Not so long ago, the four stores there were all in shabby condition. None could be faulted for this so long as all were in the same shape. Unfortunate it is then that a burger place and a drugstore have chosen to come in and tune up their digs in advance of opening. The dry cleaner and laundromat were never going to do anything about their deteriorating edifice otherwise.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Belt Story

I am a rather slender man. I'm also someone who is rather inept at determining my dimensions and selecting properly-sized clothes. So it is then that one of the most important elements of my wardrobe is my belt. I tend to be rather hard on belts, which is a thing you might expect of someone with greater girth, but there it is. Belts often have just a few holes in them, and a person is expected to fall within that narrow range of waist circumference. I often don't.

What's nice are those woven belts, the ones that are made from several threads of leather. They're good because you have a basically limitless number of ready-made places to cinch the belt to. Regrettably, they are not the be-all and end-all of fashion, and it is to my never-ending chagrin that this is so. All other types of belts are more difficult to use, and I am not the type to wear suspenders, although I did do so in my younger days.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bad Sign A Good Sign

I live in North Hollywood, which is something more than an 'up and coming' neighborhood, but not quite a firmly established one. We have a core to build on in the Arts District, and welcoming all motorists and pedestrians traveling into that area from the south is a grand sign spanning Lankershim Boulevard up high. It is a rather polarizing sign. I will say that a consensus could be build around a description of it as very boldly designed.

There's always going to be criticism from some quarter or another when art is presented. No piece can please everyone, and so there is nothing worse than art conceived, created and approved by committee. There has to be one hand on the tiller in order for any hope of success, and with this sign there clearly had to have been a singular vision. No effort seems to have been expended towards the end of making everyone happy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pooling Our Resources

I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. When I was a boy, we lived in a rented house in a lovely neighborhood of families directly southeast of the elementary school, right behind the playing fields. Our neighbors had a pool with a slide, but I can recall using it just once. Mostly we did without any kind of private pool, and it will not surprise you that it grows rather hot during the summers of that city, and honestly remains warm most of the year. The dead of winter is a bit brisk, but lacking a pool of our own, we depended rather heavily on the public pool.

I can't think of any better way to know the people than to swim in the public pool. It was quite an experience. You first of all had to enter and pay. As a child, I was not party to that exchange. We then went through the locker rooms, changing and emerging into the sun-drenched pool area. There was the main pool, which was complete with a low dive and the vaunted high dive, and an adjacent kiddie pool, which lay by the concessions stand. I recall being fond of the candy, but seldom was granted funds to buy any. Having food also meant having to stay away from the pools.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Condition Of Fear

Where is one most vulnerable if not the bathroom? We are stripped down in every sense of the word, bereft of clothes and defenses. We step behind the door and lock it, trusting that the world now cannot trespass on us as we lay bare all that which billions of dollars and millions of man-hours are dedicated to concealing and making look better. Frankly, I for one find the mirror to be a little too judgmental. So it was in this bastion that fear was struck into my heart, shattering the illusion.

It was late afternoon, and time at long last for the shower that signals to the day that I am ready for whatever it is to throw at me in the waning hours of daylight. I tend to be on autopilot, getting the water going, undressing, stepping into the shower and only then discovering whether I have what I need in order to conduct a successful shower. Usually it's all there, and I guess I got complacent. On this day, it was not all there.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hazards Of The Dance Floor

My first recollection of a dance would be the one which we had way back in grade school. The sixth graders had one, and someone got the idea that we in lower grades would feel left out if we didn't have one as well. I don't know who among us younger students was itching for a dance, but I don't recall wanting anything but soda and chips. I would classify the dance as a failure, with the boys and girls staying on their respective sides of the dance floor for the duration of the event.

Such tentativeness is no longer a problem for me, but I remain cognizant of the dangers that lurk when I am rousted out of my torpor and compelled to dance. Rather than being dangerously free of dancers, the floors I see now are probably all too full of revelers. One must concoct a dance that requires little movement of the elbows and less of the feet. It is a great challenge to be seductive under such restraints, but such is how creativity is best fostered.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dewey Decibel

Upon consulting the archives, I find that I have written posts which are predominantly concerned with the public library on six occasions, some of those occurring during the early days of this blog when I was somewhat less serious and refined in my method (but no more or less successful in drawing readers). It surprised me that I had not commented on the silence (or lack thereof) that may be found within the walls of that institution.

I was raised to be as quiet as a dormouse (whatever that may be) while in the library. Librarians were always very imposing and intimidating figures, and they always wanted you to be quiet and still. They got their way when I was a boy, and I must concede as a grown man that they had the right idea. I then would have wanted some leeway where both were concerned, but I am all turned around on the subject now. A graveyard would be too noisy for me if I were reading, studying or selecting materials.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shirts: A Responsibility Shirked

Truth is beautiful and an ideal towards which we should aspire, but there can undoubtedly be too much of it at the same time. I never have been eager for my illusions about the contents of a hot dog to be dispelled, and I feel much the worse for having learned here in California about all the places I go to which expose me to carcinogens. Knowing the truth or not knowing, I do the same things, so the truth really ruins a a good thing.

This is so also with the messages communicated to us via the medium of t-shirts (which are these days of paramount importance as newspapers wane). They often convey to us hilarious jokes, but the shirt and its joke do not and cannot exist in a vacuum. They both can only exist in relation to their wearer, who can easily ruin the joke by their appearance or behavior. I have seen this happen all too many times, and it really gives me pause when I consider wearing such a shirt.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Copping To A Good Time

When I was somewhat younger, I was not accustomed to being included in very many parties of any kind. Those at which I was welcome would at the very most have available as a refreshment Jolt Cola or perhaps mere Mountain Dew or Coca Cola. This being the case, we did not get unduly rowdy, or do anything more severe than watching horror movies all night long. At the most reckless and uncontrolled Bacchanalia, I believe the host disassembled a replica of Bat Masterson's revolver. I expect that it must have been a tough task, but reassembling it was probably not beyond the talents of humans.

The point is that parties then never got so that it seemed necessary from anyone's perspective to call in the legal authorities. Perhaps I missed out on account of that. These days, a party could hardly be worth remarking on if the police do not turn out to curtail our fun. At the very least, I expect the landlord to stop by in a surly mood if I am even going to make the effort to appear at a party. That is to say that I feel that way if the police or landlord come out only when we have really earned it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Freak Out

I always counsel people to remain quiet about what they believe they have done wrong, and usually this falls within the context of artistic performances of one kind or another. Of course, I don't mean if you know something is wrong to keep it to yourself instead of bringing it up to those who can help. I just mean that when you've done your best and it's all over, let them figure out you were lousy- don't tell them. It's not easy to stick to that.

What's weird is when that actually works. You believe that what just transpired was an utter calamity, and you want to shout out to the world, "I was lousy, I let everyone down and I'm sorry!" You don't though- you wait for your lump to come to you as they inevitably must. They don't ever come, though. You think that you just wrecked everything forever, but people are thanking you or praising you. You start to feel crazy, and you now want to ask, "Did you not just see what happened?" You wonder if what you think happened actually didn't, because if it did critics would be swarming all over and out for blood.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Close, Personal Friend

Some people that I consider friends I tend to see on television as much as I see them in person. It remains a strange feeling, but it's a fact that some people I know are at the very least moderately known by the public. Don't misunderstand me: I'm not rubbing shoulders around the clock with the very rich and famous, and the people I describe aren't generally my most intimate friends. They're people I know and who do greet me by name rather than looking at me blankly when I greet them.

This is one of those things where you fantasize about something happening, what it will be like and what you'll do with it. Then it happens, and you realize that it's not really like you thought. Someone who is to most people some character in a show or commercial is to me just some guy, and so it's more strange than amazing and cool. You have to get over this condition they have, not enjoy it. For my part I try to avoid making something of it unless it's very germane to what I'm saying.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


It's another day and another marginally-welcome rumination on some element of my love for music. I love many different types, and few if any enjoy any kind of widespread contemporary popularity. A lot of them are rather extreme in one way or another, with some being loaded with rather explicit lyrics and adult concepts and others having been meant for teeny boppers of the early 1960s. That gives rise to this interesting thing where I find myself relishing the great disparity between the music I'm listening to and the context in which I'm enjoying it.

I'm a fairly regular churchgoer, and while the place where I go is more liberal in its conception of of acceptable social practices, it is not and will never be the Viper Room. For me there's something delightfully transgressive in listening to one of the harder-edged hits of the grunge period as I approach the building. An example that did not escape my notice when it happened was when 'Bankrobber' by the Clash came on my shuffle as I passed my bank. Naturally I seized the opportunity to sing along with it aloud, but where I live such a thing is not of note.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Smoked Out

As many hours as I have spent in libraries, I have been witness to some remarkable things. You see the long term patterns that are hidden to he who flies in and out to pick something up quickly, but you also are by the law of averages present to see a lot of things that are as unusual there as anywhere, but eventually are going to happen given enough time. That's what it was for me this time around- if you go to the library enough, you'll inevitably be shooed outside when the fire alarm goes off.

If someone were reading Fahrenheit 451 or something of the like, I imagine the experience was all the more potent for them. As it was, it was sufficiently memorably for me. I detected nothing until the alarm went off, at which time I briefly contemplated trying to check out as I saw someone else do. Though the building seemed not to be in obvious peril of being engulfed by flames, I felt it was more important to ensure that I live to read another day.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Fair Wind From Italy

I've written before about pleasant smells coming from afar, and all the frustration which lies therein. Then it was about presumably homemade food whose odor drifted into the window of my home like the pies cooling on window sills in every Yogi Bear cartoon. This time there's a professional whose work invades my senses. I live a couple of streets down from a rather major intersection, and I spend some time each week either at shops right there or passing through to places that are near. Doing either is tough sometimes, and I have to blame the pit fire pizza place.

It all depends on the wind. When it's blowing north to northwest, there's no problem. I'm content with what I'm eating, and if I'm hungry, there's nothing to remind me of it or what I'd like to be eating. Ignorance is bliss, as they say, and this is good because I'm just not often at liberty to spend what it takes to eat as well as one does at a place such as I'm describing (at least it's not some four star steakhouse, because there might as well be a Bugatti dealership nearby as one of those).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Sing Thing

This will not be the first time that I state loudly and proudly my love of music. It is a love that cannot be contained any more than levees can keep a mighty river from overflowing its banks from time to time. As I leave my home, I put on my sunglasses and insert the earbuds of my shuffle. I press the button and start the music, and off I go with a sawbuck in my pocket and a song in my heart. Neither thing is to stay in its place for terribly long.

I can't help but sing. Maybe it starts when I'm walking in front of my building down my neighborhood street. It is short and relatively lightly trafficked, so I can imagine plenty of people giving voice to the spirit which consumes them when their favorite song comes on. Then I take a turn and find myself on the neighborhood's major artery running north and south, but I don't stop. If I'm in mid-song and have been singing aloud lustily to that point, it just seems wrong to not go on to the end.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Commando Cook

I believe that I have made it clear that my natural inclination where food is concerned is to keep it simple and cheap. I favor meals that are pre-made or consist of at most three ingredients which can be combined with a bare minimum of effort and thought. This is what I do, but I appreciate that it is probably not what is best for me. Indeed, it is not even to a substantial degree what I want. I just do what is easy. Every now and then however, a little miracle happens and I manage by chance to have an excellent home-cooked meal.

What is required is an outside element. Specifically a roommate or other friend must compel me to do more. I am not a slacker who won't do anything himself or a misogynist who expects a woman to do the cooking. I just have to be nudged into it, and suddenly I'm surprising myself with previously unknown abilities in the kitchen. I can't do anything conventionally regarded as difficult, but easy to moderate dishes are within my reach.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

But For The Grace

Of the people I see while out and about, a good number are in some respect odious or objectionable. There are some bad guys and luckless vagrants. I feel some measure of compassion for them, and imagine myself being in precisely their shoes had things gone a different way (and they easily could have, I feel). As affected as I can be by seeing such people, there is a particular kind of man who really leaves me shaken.

This type I speak of suggests himself to me not as what I might have been today but for lucky breaks, but as what I may yet become in the future should I fail to continue receiving such fortune as I have. Certain things mark this person. He is old, alone and pitiable for the fact that he is using public transportation at his age as much as for his shabbiness. Most importantly though, he has the trappings of being as bright and quick-witted as I consider myself to be.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This Movie Stinks

I've watched a whole lot of movies, and I believe I've made that adequately clear. Most of them have been by means of home video of one format or another. Whether money is scarce or not, I most often shrink away from going off to the theater, even when the cost of a ticket is quite nominal. The bottom line that this brings us to is that I have had many VHS tapes and DVDs pass through my hands (but no blu-rays as yet, the sample packages with my laptop aside). Each one had its unique quality, but none ever offended the senses until now.

If that paragraph concluded in a manner which failed to pique your interest, then I lose all faith in my ability to read such things. I'll proceed as if the words had the effect I anticipated and tell you what I meant by that. I purchased a VHS player some months back. My intent was to start watching more obscure movies, particularly those which are out of print and perhaps never actually were released as DVDs. Finally, and on a whim, I checked out a VHS tape from the library.