Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End Of A Year, Uh...

I seldom address holidays and special dates as they come. I'm more likely to ruminate on Christmas in May than December. Still, I couldn't help but notice as I sat down to write that this would be going out on the final day of the year. It's only natural at that time to take stock of what's passed and look ahead to the future (and, we hope, to better days). This is true even for those of us not given to half-hearted, last-minute crusades of self-improvement.

Strictly within the confines of this blog, I can say that I am at least partly content. I managed to write 365 posts, which constitutes a new personal best (up from last year's 322). I got something out every single day, rain or shine (and there was some rain). I can't say that I loved everything I wrote, too often turning out something half-baked or unoriginal for lack of time or energy. Still, I fulfilled my goal of disciplining myself into writing regularly, which I believe has paid off in other writing endeavors.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Manos Rojas

Years ago, I'm sure I never had any personal interest in being too clean. I was a boy after all, and children tend to not see any strong personal incentive in being clean, or at least it does't seem to me that they did then. They rough-house and they cannot appreciate the delayed gratification that lies in eating a few minutes later in order to do so under sanitary conditions, for example. They would prefer to eat immediately and take their chances.

Being a grown man now, I have any number of reasons to be clean. It's expected of me, whereas latitude was granted to a boy of little maturity. I had better have clean hands in order to thrive personally and professionally. Even if it weren't for that, I very much prefer to be clean, being somewhat fastidious in very specific, narrow respects. An important consideration is that I now am the one who cleans up after myself.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Drink Up

Of the many things I don't get, one of the more troublesome lies in the galley of a commercial jet (if in fact the kitchen area of a plane is called that). On every flight, you get a drink. You can order an alcoholic drink, as I seldom do, or you can get something else. I usually go with something else, being cheap and also concerned about what I might do with my inhibitions loosened in midair. Probably nothing more severe than being too loud, but that could be bad.

When you buy an alcoholic drink, they give you the whole can of beer. When you get something else, chances are excellent that they'll pass off less on you. I really don't get that. I assume there must be a reason to give me a small cup of soda that is in fact mostly ice, but I can't imagine what it is. Surely even a  jet of the size they use on short flights can contain enough twelve ounce soft drinks to allot each passenger one.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Lately I've been home visiting my family, and I noticed something that I found very interesting (although not so interesting that it couldn't wait until I was really hard up for an idea). It's a salt shaker. Obviously it goes beyond that, or I wouldn't find it so interesting. For starters, the salt is pink. I guess that makes it stylish or something. The grinder's label claims that it is naturally pink, and I can't really argue that, as much as I'd like to.

Its place of origin is what really interests me. Its label claims that it's both a product  from the Himalayas. Considering that I couldn't immediately recall the location of those mountains, I hardly could question whether salt is drawn from them in any significant quantities. I did enough research to assure myself that the mountain range does pass within Pakistan's borders, but not enough to establish the nation's salt industry.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Commercial Television

I like watching television. I don't seem to watch as much as I maybe once did, but then I think I watch a generally higher caliber of shows these days. Even given the fewer hours spent watching shows, I think it's interesting what you can learn. I don't mean the shows themselves so much, although there is a lot in that also. Sometimes we see our perception of the world we live in, and sometimes it's the world we wish for. Sometimes it's what we fear will come.

As I said though, that's not what interests me so much. It's really the commercials. When you pay attention, you realize how much they reveal about you. They don't necessarily sell products for you personally, but they do always sell products for the better part of the audience of the show in question. It adds up when you think about it, but you don't really think about it a lot, I think. That's probably for the best.

Monday, December 26, 2011

You First

When I used to live with my parents, my father would go hiking on nearby mountain trails often, and I would go with him. When I come home and we are all together, then he and I go hiking sometimes as we used to. The mountain preserve is in the middle of the metro area, and it is heavily trafficked by people on bicycles, horses and foot. Only rigorous adherence to protocol and very conscientious behavior could keep those groups from quarreling.

It doesn't go so well, really. One thing that would seem to help is a general air of politeness. When two hikers cross paths, it's common for a hearty 'hello' to be exchanged. It's nice to be nice, but it doesn't go so well, as I said. My natural inclination is to say hello and then receive their hello. Unfortunately, the reply often isn't forthcoming. I don't know what it costs some people to say hello (because it must cost them dearly), but for me it's free.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Time Travelers All

I find it somewhat difficult to manage the time. It's not being places on time that's generally the issue, although I invariably find that I must rush out of the house at the last minute to do so. Really what it is that provides some difficulty is knowing just what time it is. Maybe that sounds like a rather anachronistic problem, given that most clocks now are part of a global system. What is left behind except for your older microwaves and toasters?

My wristwatch does need to be kept up, any every time it falls behind I must re-teach myself its operation without a manual. Presently it's three minutes behind, and if I can remember that then it hardly needs fixing. It does take a moment to bring it to mind, however. The case is the same with my standard alarm clock, except that it's considerably more reliable in keeping the time. Still, there is one thing that it needs.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Uptight Crew

I know very well that being a flight attendant is not what it once was, if it ever was what it once was. The conditions are worse and the benefits are less. It must be an especially trying job when it comes to the holidays, with frantic schedules, bad weather and passengers behaving about as badly as they ever do. I say all this to confirm that I am sympathetic to their plight, and that is a prerequisite to declaring that I'm not happy with them.

I flew home for the holidays this year, and I never do enjoy flying. This most recent flight was in fact not that bad. The Burbank airport makes things a lot easier, and my usual airline is mostly tolerable. I can't complain too much, except that on this occasion I must say that I'm not entirely pleased with the conduct of the aforementioned flight attendants on this flight. Now, I know they were tired and burned out, because they said so several times during an hour-long flight, but nonetheless...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Not Smart

I read what I guess was an unfortunate article yesterday evening. It concerned a restaurant near me which may soon receive a historic designation from the city, or whichever government entity is concerned with such things. This restaurant may also lose its lease with the building owner soon. Now, the basis of the historic designation would mainly be the building's design, which I understand is of the 'Googie' movement.

The owner is said to be livid over the possibility of the designation. I guess I can kind of see his point of view. He may see the possibility of renovations and re-development being impaired in future. This certainly could impact his bottom line if he hopes to yield more money from the present tenant or from another after making some form of improvements, and as I said I can appreciate that concern, although I don't exactly share it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Food I Want

Yesterday I managed to do something that I hadn't done in far too long. In spite of my best intentions I hadn't managed to do it. I felt like I would have sooner if I had felt any support from those around me, if they had shown any interested in doing it alongside me, but that's not much of an excuse. What I want to do, I should be able to do readily even if I stand alone. Still, I hadn't done it, and that is entirely on me. I accept it.

There's no need for recrimination any longer, for I have done it: I have eaten Chinese food. I don't know what it is, but the people I know here in Los Angeles have little appetite for the cuisine of China. They like Japanese food, they like Thai food and they like Korean food (sometimes fused with always-popular Mexican food), but they just do not have any enthusiasm for Chinese food, which I have always myself loved.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What A Day

This past Sunday was quite a day for me, by which I mean it was just jam-packed with activities. It began very early. I needed to get up at six o'clock, and so I of course woke up well before my alarm clock: four o'clock. I would like to have gone back to sleep, but my day had started. My first order of business upon leaving the house was reporting to my church for participation in a production of 'A Christmas Carol'. I was to be there at 7:45 in the morning, and was.

The whole time I was there discharging my responsibilities, I had several concerns on my mind. One was my fantasy football league, which was that day in the midst of its championship week. Would I win my third place game and finish in the money, or lose and finish an ignominious fourth? My mind was criminally drawn towards this matter in spite of my total inability to affect the matter, though I feel I managed it all right. I would later win third place.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Curious Sight

I felt like a local here in Los Angeles the first time I passed by the Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame while on my way to someplace pressing. It was a job interview, in fact. The tourists clogging the sidewalks earned my ire in spades, and I felt like a local for the first time in that way. At such times, I am short-tempered and impatient, but I have had subsequent experiences along that stretch that are somewhat more pleasant.

The other day there was such a time. During the summer, or around mid-day most of the year, that area of Hollywood Boulevard is heavily congested with foot traffic. When you are there at another time, it's something of a different story. On this particular day, I was passing by there before eight o'clock in the morning, and in less than optimal weather. It was largely clear of people, and I imagine that the bulk of them were at that time taking advantage of their hotel's continental breakfast.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Moment Of Truth

When you do improv comedy, it seems to me that it's tough to get too emotionally invested in what you come up with. You come up with it on the spot, so why should you get attached? I know that I don't, and it seems reasonable to suppose that others have the same experience with it. You say to yourself, "I would have done this and this and this better had I time to prepare, had I opportunity to write the thing in advance. I didn't, and mistakes are part of the charm."

When you do someone else's prepared material, it's easy to detach yourself from it. Whatever the outcome, you can hang your hat on the assumption that any failure in it lies in the camp of the writer, not the performer. You say to yourself, "Had I written it, I would have been able to do it better in such and such a way, and the writer really screwed me up. I did my best, but the audience disliked it because the words were no good."

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I was thinking idly yesterday that I would like to get a little Christmas tree. With a previous roommate, I had acquired and decorated a very small tree of perhaps a couple feet. When we went our separate ways, we had split up the stuff. I suppose that I had come out on the short end of it, because all I seem to have is the single string of lights we bought. I think he must have both the tree and the garland, although I can't say I miss the messy garland, which shed tinsel readily.

I wonder if the time is now to buy a tree and all. It seems likely enough to me that there will be severe discounts on things following this Christmas season, as stores never do seem to accurately assess their needs where such things are concerned. That would mean not having what I want in time this year, but being ready next year. I did razz a roommate for operating alone those lines in another matter, so perhaps I ought not do the same if I am to be consistent.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Easy Ride

As I write this, I struggle with the fear that I have covered this ground before, but one cannot by fear be kept from action. The thing is that a neighbor of mine- a good friend- has this lovable dog. It's a pit bull, but it is one that does not deserve the bad name that the breed has in many quarters. Some would have us all believe that the breed as a whole should not be regarded as mean or violent. I don't know much about that, but this dog is a danger only through its boundless enthusiasm for making friends.

The dog doesn't cope well with being cooped up, and its owners would not have it confined all day. It (she) is given plenty of opportunities to stretch its legs and void herself. Not always are the owners themselves at liberty to take her out, and so she is entrusted to a select circle of outsiders. I am one of these, and I take seriously the responsibility. For anything to happen to her on my watch is just unthinkable.

Friday, December 16, 2011

After Casting, The Urge To Be Plastered

In life, things can turn around on you in dramatic fashion. We hear of the hunter becoming the hunted, and of the child's first educator requiring education from their very own progeny. For me the more recent change in positions seems amusing to me, though it may not to anyone else really. As you'll recall I wrote yesterday of trooping off nearly two hours to be interviewed by (and to myself interview) an agent- a person who would attempt to drum up opportunities to be cast in things.

The person who was yesterday to be cast today does the casting. In a switch that sounds like it might come from a Bob Dylan song, I find myself in the position of casting acting friends in a modest comedy sketch (although it perhaps does us all a disservice to underrate it so). I think I may not be suited for this end of things to the exclusion of all others. There is much about it that I would just as soon leave to another.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Long Way To Go

The other day, I had some business out a long way from home. It was, as a matter of fact, an interview with a potential agent (or rather a definite agent who could potentially have represented me). For reasons probably not worth speculation, the agency was deep into the San Fernando Valley. Most people probably would have been dissuaded by the great distance entailed by the prospect of the interview, the great potential reward notwithstanding, but not I.

First I had to walk over to what they call a busway, which is a bus that functions as a light rail train does. I took this busway all the way to the end of the line, which is a ride that approaches an hour in length, give or take a few minutes. From there I had to connect with another bus of the conventional sort that would carry me another half an hour or so in that same direction. Altogether the trip took nearly two hours, accounting for the walking and the waiting.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Television Free Los Angeles

I recently acquired a second television at a modest cost, seeing it as being a worthwhile investment in good relations among my roommates and I. There is that one who is good enough to go to bed at a reasonable hour, unlike us other two, who can now watch movies in my bedroom rather than in the living room at a reduced volume. So far it has been very effective in achieving the goal of keeping the peace, though it has not been long.

An interesting side benefit has been what TV shows I have watched on it. As I may have said in the past, I have a converter box that lets me watch the free channels, and I have installed it on this second TV. I grumble and swear trying to adjust the antenna to bring in the signal, but when I do there are some remarkable shows on. I find myself getting hooked sufficiently that I am falling behind on contemporary shows.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Great Food Raid

Something that is more important about film and stage productions in which I have participated than about anything else is the food. People fulfill their responsibility out of responsibility, pride or fear of the whip from the director or assistant director, but they do it more gladly when the food is good and plentiful. While the quality varies, what seldom does is the amount of it. People never seem to want to take any home, though I do.

What can be difficult is getting at the food sometimes when your job takes you away from it. I was doing a thing for a church play and my task was up in the balcony. The food was down in some basement. The house had opened, putting hordes of people in between me and the food I knew was out there. I had to come down the stairs, go through the lobby and through the house to reach the stairs down to that basement. It was quite a journey.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cheap Miracle

There are some amazing things in this world, and many of them people tend to recognize readily. There are the seven wonders of the world, both of the natural persuasion and the ancient one (although given that only one of the latter survives, it is more difficult to be impressed). There are modern, man-made feats like the Hoover Dam that everyone must concede are fairly great achievements. There are also, though, those things for each of us that are personally that impressive, but unlikely to sway others.

I saw such a thing, and why I'm so over the moon for it I cannot really explain. All it was is a spotlight. There I was, standing up in the balcony of a nightclub configured more like a theater. We were using it for a church. In any case, at one point there shone above my head a brilliant light which targeted a figure down on the stage. It mesmerized me, looking like a solid cylinder of light encompassing all these flecks of dust.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Noises Off, For Real

Having had the experience of that very loud punk concert a while back now, it seems worth contemplating a contrasting experience. Living in an apartment building (especially with roommates), one must be courteous of those all around. Noise is a constant problem. Were we to make too much noise at night, we would be apt to hear from the neighbors. That hasn't happened to us, though it has to friends within the building.

It's more important still to be considerate of one's own roommates. One of my roommates and I were cognizant of the third trying to sleep, and so we sort of made a game out of being as quiet as could be. Really, we were being quieter than we needed to be. As I said it was a game, and the silence was broken numerous times from muffled laughing. Still, it was a most edifying experience for me, as I imagine it was for my fellow contestant.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What Lies Encoded

You'll recall I was at a concert recently that really did a number on my hearing for a bit. It was a good time, to be sure. I was there with some friends, one of whom was taking pictures for the venue. Well, a gentleman got the idea that that we were affiliated with some major media outlet. Specifically, he asked if we were with a magazine. Of course, I over-thought the question. I should have flatly said no, but because I equivocated (on account of the answer not seeming so cut and dried), he insisted on giving me a CD with his band's music on it.

I would just as soon he not have. Just how am I to do him and his comrades any good if I like it? You see, I have not yet listened to the thing. I mean to. I meant to that very night. I couldn't, of course. My ears were ringing so badly I could barely tolerate silence. I felt like Roderick Usher or something. That being the case, this guy's CD was going to have to wait. Perhaps in the morning, I thought, I'll be able to give it a fair hearing, for whatever that's worth.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Laker Street Irregulars

Again I write about my own apartment building, whether anyone wants to hear it or not. I continue to find interest in the people I live around. It's funny the kind of partial connection you have to dozens of people in a place like this. You get to know a lot of people in an extremely narrow and superficial sense.You see them as you're both coming or going. You exchange a couple of words in the laundry room, the lobby, or perhaps the grill area.

Then, in the case of the building's few children, you watch them from a distance as you would any other devastating force of nature. Actually, I guess they're mainly not that bad, but I keep a wary distance even so. In my adult life, I've lived apart from kids more than I've lived among them. Our neighborhood when I was a kid had plenty. The one we moved to from there had few if any. The ones out here in LA have had plenty, but I was not in such close proximity.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Late Wake

I seem to do pretty well getting up when I ought to these days. It's seldom that I genuinely sleep in, because I mostly can't even in I want to. I have fallen into a strong enough habit that I wake up when the alarm would have gone off even if I don't set it. I guess that's good. A routine is important to productivity and good health, but I do rankle at my conscious mind being subjugated by internal rhythms or whatever else does it.

Still, I have mixed feelings at best when I am at liberty to sleep in and do it. Even on those days, it feels like I have too much to do. I feel lousy if I've slept in and there were no adverse consequences. "No one at all missed me?", I'll ask myself. On the other hand, it feels none too good to wake up in early afternoon  to some email or text from the morning that needed fast attention. I'm glad in such cases to be wanted, but would love a less harried entrance into the land of wakefulness.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


With all the effort I have made in recent years along the lines of being a performer, to say nothing of my attempts to have at least an average fashion sense, I have gotten rather interested in the colors that work best in me in clothes. Neutral colors are fine for everyone of course, and so for a long time if I ever looked good it was probably with black or something like that. Recently though, I've done more with riskier possibilities.

With my eyes, blue seems to do well. I realized that I accidentally developed a wardrobe that was heavier in blues than about anything else. Perhaps I was subconsciously making one or two good decisions. Of course everyone has lots of blue jeans, but apart from that I have a bunch of blue shirts, as well as a very nice blue jacket and pair of shoes. One can go overboard, but with a little newfound restraint, blue might be where I'm at my best.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shoot Me, And Don't Miss

I have had the experience now a few times of being photographed by people I would call professionals. I'm not talking about the guy at Sears who takes the family photos, nor do I mean the embattled school photographer (who in my memory re-defined the struggles of Job). No, I mean professionals of somewhat higher caliber than that. It's an interesting thing to contrast their results with those of the average shutterbug friend of mine.

The thing is that there used to be some people with cameras taking pictures, and now everyone's got a camera phone to take shots with. As a result, there are more pictures of me than there used to be, and it's probably so that in some respects the quality is worse. This is in spite of the incredibly more prevalent ability to modify a picture after the fact. It used to be that what came from the photomat was what you were stuck with, and yet I think we were doing better then.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Homework? Drone Work

I don't miss school too much (the firewall from the real world aside). To be honest, a substantial amount of the best learning I did came well outside any formal bounds. All of the very picayune stuff that had little future application came in schools. You tell me when you do sentence diagrams these days. I know I don't, but I like to think I can put together a sentence without one. In any case, I don't love doing anything that makes me feel like I'm back in school.

Sometimes I find myself doing something that feels like homework. I'll get some kind of request to submit one thing or another in writing, and I don't jump for joy, although I love writing. I don't care much for technical writing or reports. I dislike anything that smacks of clerical work. I'm bad with details, and that's all that it is. When one of these things comes up, I do my best, but I'm not smiling. There's just relief to be done with it, and further relief that it passed muster.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Mark Of A Writer

I regard myself as a writer, if only in the sense that one is a baker after making a cake at home. I think I'm a writer because of more than that, though. I think I may be a true writer by calling, although that is not all that I devote myself to in my professional endeavors. When doing those other things, I find myself wondering if I'm not more writer than performer, though there is great reward in performing what I've written.

How is one to know? I think there must be signs. They must have been easier to detect once upon a time. These days, one is more a typist than a writer. I write seriously only on my computer, although I do take notes by hand. That's when I see something that must have been on writers all the time once. They used to write everything by hand. The first to use a typewriter is said to have been Mark Twain, who turned to it relatively late in his career (although early in the period during which he was known).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wait, Wait, Wait, Now!

I never have had a great deal of success with patience, although as I have chronicled here, there have been occasional improvements in that. It is often just too much for me to manage, I'm afraid. One of the areas in which I have suffered the most for my inability to wait is in cooking. In front of me as I write this is something rather hot that I am eager to eat. I keep trying to start on it, only to find out afresh that it is too hot to eat safely.

I hate to wait and wait only to find that it has been sitting there too long. It is a delicate balance. If I get it right, then I of course benefit from a tasty meal consumed in its prime. You cannot make too much of the massive improvement in the eating experience that comes from getting some food when it's neither too hot nor too cold or spoiled. It is, quite simply, the dream to which we all aspire in our daily eating lives. I know that it is for me, anyway.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Worst To Least Worst

As I write this, I have a burner lit on the stovetop, and there are two cups of water heating up in a pot on that burner. It's my intention to put some ramen noodles in there, wait three minutes and then eat the results. I do not do this with relish. I would very much like to eat something else, but at the moment nothing superior suggests itself. I, therefore, must suck it up and make the best of what I have got on hand.

The thing is that, apart from being terribly insubstantial and utterly unhealthful, ramen noodles are not really tasty. That is to say that this is mostly the case. There are a number of flavors, but they are more or less all the same. Chicken is the worst. I don't think that they know what chicken is. It reminds me more of some vegetarian rice dish. I say 'reminds' because it doesn't taste like that- it would have to taste good to taste like that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hobo's Delight

Sometimes I am hungry and lazy at the same time. Actually, I should say most times. I start off doing something like eating slices of bread. I know I shouldn't. There is in my mind that lesson from my father about adding value to individual food items by combining them into something that is more than the some of his parts, although he never exactly put it into those words. I believe it was as simple as "Don't just eat bread; make a sandwich!"

I do make the effort to concoct something a little more involved, although sometimes it doesn't start out that way. The other day, I was going to just eat bread. It occurred to me that it would be a bit more flavorful if I spread some hot sauce on it, and I did so. It further seemed that it might be even better to lay some tomato sauce over that. I then remembered that I had a pack of revolting cut-rate individually-wrapped cheese slices, and figured that I might lay some of that on what I already had.