Monday, April 30, 2012

Short & Sweet, Reading Is Neat

Story interests me more than about anything in a movie. That's always where it falls short, or where it really grabs me. That's true for everyone, or should be. What's interesting is how you can wind up getting ahead of the plot, and know things before the movie tells you. If things are good at the end of the second act, that may mean a sad ending. Also, as I think Orson Welles may have said, whether it's a happy ending depends on when you end it. If you know how long the movie is, you can start to work that out in your head.

That's true with books as well. If you have the whole book in your hands, you can see by the number of pages on your right whether there's so much time left that things may get bad or good before it's through. When you're thinking like that, it's hard to keep things a surprise until you cross that bridge. That's true for novels, anyway. Something that you don't get in a movie is the equivalent of collected short stories. Those are great fun.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Bad Man Cometh

There was a guy on the subway the other day who warrants some space on this blog. Now, I subscribe to the same policy of recognition that Time Magazine used to. Their Man of the Year (now Person of the Year) seemingly once was truly the most influential individual, for good or ill. These days, it's one positive copout or another. I don't want to be told that some generic person such as "You" is the person of the year.

This guy was no person of the year, but he was the person of our ride, that's for sure. He started off pleasantly enough, and we thought he might be one of the good guys with a cart full of recycling. We got corrected fast enough, though. First he started disparaging the minorities in LA's South Central neighborhoods. In the interest of keeping peace and trying to have as pleasant a ride as possible, the subject was changed.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

An Epic Run Of Fun

When I have the discipline, I try to shy away from listening to my music while I'm out and about. I reason that I didn't leave the house so that I could continue to isolate myself with the basic trappings of my own home. I presumably wanted to experience what the rest of the world has to offer, or I'd be a shut-in. Now, on a longer trip, I'll perhaps be more willing to listen to my music, although there is always a book I'd like to be reading.

The point is, though, that I want people to see that I'm open to interaction with them- that I'm not preemptively rejecting them. Sometimes that's a decision that I regret or at least question after the fact. The other day, I had a string of rather interesting encounters that might never have been if I had show my commitment to my tunes. There was the pretty girl coming into my building as I was leaving and the couple of words we exchanged, but that was nothing.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Food & Fight

From time to time, I participate in a speech-giving contest as a part of my activities in Toastmasters. Of course, the most important thing that I get out of that experience is the food. It is, therefore, bitterly disappointing when there is no food. One might as well be told that a baseball game is not to be part of the day's attractions at Dodger Stadium, or perhaps more accurately that there is to be no food offered during the game.

I have to restrain myself from eating before it is my time to speak. Needless to say, many foods are less than conducive to making yourself understood in a pleasant fashion. I won't go into that any more than I already have. Other foods simply slow you down, deprive you of energy or saddle you with far too much energy. I'm not much for strict observance of a diet, but contest organizers could learn a lot about the foods that set you up for success.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cold To Hold

I have what they call a beer cozy, or what I guess you would have to just call a cozy if beer isn't your thing. It's an insulating sleeve made of foam rubber, and you slide the can into it, thus keeping it cold for longer. It's a handy device, although it makes the beer look ungainly and awkward. It just ruins the can's graceful lines altogether, but you put up with that for what kind of enhancement it provides. It's like a bicycle helmet in that regard.

I'm not entirely sure where I came by this one, although my best guess is that it fell into my possession by the kindness of a former roommate. On it in white lettering are the words "Ken & Fran", and below that is a date. Also depicted are a pair of bells. I think it must have been some kind of wedding favor given out to attendees. I don't mean disrespect to Ken and Fran, but that's kind of a lame thing to hand out, and it strikes the wrong tone as well. I guess that's just disrespectful on its face. I'm sorry.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Sink Is Beginning To Stink, I Think

My bathroom sink is in a fragile state right now. It drains rather slowly, taking a minute to clear all the water when I've had it going for long. This is an inconvenience, but it's one that I find I'm prepared to live with rather than deal with. This would not be so bad, except that mine is the sink near the door in the bathroom that guests are at liberty to use (since the other is in the master bedroom). This makes it something I should deal with.

I don't, of course. After weeks of thought, I finally decided on buying one dollar's worth of baking soda. I understood that this makes for a potent drain-clearer when combined with vinegar (which I knew we had some of in under the kitchen sink). I still haven't used it, because I am looking for the right three hours to render the sink unavailable while that cocktail is doing its business. It just seems all too possible at any hour of the day or night that I might need a sink and some privacy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Being Smiley

At church this past Sunday, I was far too occupied with addressing technical matters to get very much from the spiritual message of the day, but one thing did penetrate into my mind and linger. It was something about smiling at people, and thanking them for smiling at you if they do that. I think all this was supposed to be very good, but I'm not entirely sure about all of that. I was rather anxious at the time it was said.

Even so, smiles were on my mind recently. Like anyone (and perhaps even more than most), I find smiles difficult to fake or to create in response to nothing. I've been told lately that my face is not incredibly expressive. Even when I see a moment when I'd like to smile, I find myself struggling to come up with a convincing one. I feel like I contort my face in such a way that you'd think I didn't know what a smile was supposed to look like. At such moments, I feel like Nixon or Mitt Romney. Still, I try to do that, but I think I end up looking creepy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Show And Tell Off

The other day, I was watching "Dog The Bounty Hunter". I found it to be the best out of a handful of poor options. It's a terrible show, but I was receptive out of a desire to have something on while I was eating. The show made me think of something that I have noticed in other shows. You'll have these shows that are supposed to be real, documentary-style programs, and they'll be about something like a pawn show or a mechanic's shop. They're anything but real.

They tend to be predicated on conflict and drama, typically of a familial nature. You find yourself wondering how they could ever make a dollar, squabbling more than they work. "American Chopper" was like this. You only ever saw a lot of sniping and backbiting, from which they would occasionally take breaks to make motorcycles. I would have liked the balance to be tipped in the other direction, but I suspect I was in the minority. All of the contrived drama proves to be rather lucrative.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quiet Time

I'm afraid I had another incident with my voice. These things always happen when I'm with a friend someplace where I'm usually alone. It's happened on a city bus before, but this time it was a return to the library. A friend had been around my neighborhood and wanted to see a movie. I proposed first a possible visit to the cheap movie theater, but there was nothing there that we both wanted to see. I then suggested that we might get something from the library and bring it back to my place. We did that.

It didn't take long before the trouble happened. We went over to the movie section, and got to talking about improv comedy some way or another. As always, I was totally ignorant of what was going on vocally with me. My friend said nothing, thinking perhaps that nothing was wrong, or at least that nothing was wrong enough to warrant comment. He later opined that I had been speaking in a normal tone of voice, albeit perhaps not normal for the library.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Go The Extra Mile & Smile

As much as it might sometimes seem otherwise, I think that people are probably reading more than they ever have. I wonder though whether that's a good thing. More people can read and are inclined to do so than ever, and it's easier to read than ever, but somehow many are still not getting what they ought to out of it. That's an opinion. I may be all wrong about all of this, but at least I'll admit that. You don't get so much out of most people writing today.

When I read things online, I find that I have to work my way to the actual piece people are talking about, layer by layer. The first thing you'll see is some friend's interpretation of the thing, and then you'll see what they're linking to. It's likely enough to be somebody's synthesis of the actual article, or a summary of a synthesis. This will be partly an account of what the article says, but it will be at least as much the opinion of the person doing the synthesizing.

Friday, April 20, 2012


It's a terribly stimulating experience when you have the opportunity to perform. Any of us has the chance to sing karaoke, and that's something I enjoy- if I manage to do it well, that is. I'm not someone who gets much out of anything that he does poorly. People will say that it's just supposed to be about having fun, but as Patton says (in the film of the same name), "I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed!"

I think that's what he says. I'm not about to re-watch a film some three hours in length to verify such a quite, but I'll admit I could be wrong. In any case, my thoughts are about performing and the awful, gut-churning insecurities that plague you when you may not have been absolutely fantastic. The other night, I did some standup comedy, and I think I probably did all right, but it's positively impossible to be entirely objective.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Baggage Of A Kind

You don't think twice about transporting things in a car. The car takes the weight easily, and why should other motorists care what you've got in there? They can't see it, and they'd be too busy to pay much attention anyway if they could see. In that way, life is easier but perhaps not quite as interesting when you have a car. Mainly taking public transportation, I have the benefit of more colorful experiences carrying things.

Food is a good example. Suppose that there's leftover pizza at a party. You can easily take it home in a car, and get it back while it's still hot. Keeping it warm is the least of my worries if I'm taking the pie back on the train. The smell fills the whole car, and those who aren't envious of the thing are annoyed by it. I would be on edge the whole way back, and worried besides about my hands getting greasy carrying it all the way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bad Meals, Fast On The Heels

I've been eating terribly lately. Though I try somewhat harder these days, my regular diet is bad enough as it is. I eat hash browns and coffee for breakfast, cold cut sandwiches for lunch, and until lately have been eating rice in tomato sauce and hot sauce for dinner. Recently I have been eating various canned foods for dinner, ravioli and chili being among them. I know those aren't good things, and what I've been supplementing them with over the last few days hasn't helped.

It's all dependent on circumstances. Friday, there was an improv show. After the show, a number of us went out for hamburgers. I indulged myself. It's all right to do that now and again. You just can't go crazy, as more and more Americans do. One burger, fries and soda such as I had that night ought to hold you for weeks, and maybe months. Each one brings you a little bit closer to death, and they do nothing good for you except for the taste.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Done With Flicks As The Clock Fast Ticks

I guess that the movie hot streak of which I have spoken in the past is through. I had been on a really monumental kick, and half though I was going crazy, watching at least one movie a day and sometimes two or even three. Something was bound to give, and it was a combination of things, as it turned out. Thank goodness that it did come to pass, because I don't know that I could have gone on much longer without severely adverse effects.

In a way it may have been an unconscious attempt to prepare for something, as a caterpillar would eat incessantly in unwitting anticipation of becoming a butterfly. I don't know that the comparison is entirely apt, but I do know that I have let up partly to give myself time to prepare for an upcoming standup comedy performance. I very well come make hay from some of the more spectacularly odd films I've watched. Then again, I may not, and I only watched all those movies for the fun of it.

Monday, April 16, 2012


I volunteer at church, which is undoubtedly a surprise to many who know me, and on one of two different fronts. I don't know how charitable I am reputed to be, but I would not be surprised if it was not very. I also don't suppose that I'm seen to be an especially faithful soul, although I hope that some see me striving towards that. In any case, you ought to know for the purposes of this item that I sometimes run the computer which directs various media to the big screen seen by the congregation during services.

As long as I have done it, my station was among the bulk of the crew directly at the back of the auditorium, and there I had an excellent view of the stage, the screen and the congregation. I enjoyed all of that, and found much of it practical in doing my duty. It was not all good, of course. There were there distractions in the form of well-meaning friends as well as obstacles in the form of exceptionally tall worshipers who insisted on sitting right in front of my station.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Clean Getaway

A rare thing happened yesterday. It wasn't that I spent the whole day among friends, although that's not incredibly common. It wasn't even that I was at a baby shower (for the menfolk), although it was a first for me. No, the specific rare thing that I had happen was that I went about a whole day out of the house without showering. I know that's slovenly and unappealing to me, but rest assured that it was not by design.

The thing is that I had meant to get up a good couple hours before I needed to be out of the house. That is typical for me. I have the chance to shower and get ready at a relaxed pace, eating breakfast and getting my hair entirely dry before I even think about heading out. Well, for the second time in recent memory, I somehow slept through my alarm. I don't know how it happened. I had to have turned it off, and this after waking up a couple hours early and using the restroom.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Drop It

I had a real scare yesterday. There I was, hurrying out of the house like usual. I was, for once, late to an improv show. Usually I'm painfully punctual. This time I had the idea that I would be riding with a friend, but that didn't work out as I'd thought. I had therefore to take the subway, and this wouldn't matter if I had left a bit earlier. I was by this point bound to be at least ten minutes late. I wound up later than that, but the real lede of the story is when I dropped my phone.

I'm usually pretty sure-handed where that's concerned, and can think of only a couple of times when I dropped this iPhone. I don't think I'd ever let it go over anything but a soft surface, such as carpeting. I had of course bought a nice case to protect it, but I compromised on durability to ensure that the phone wouldn't be a clunky ruiner of my lines. It has thus far been a good steward of the phone. Was it enough on this occasion?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Let's Talk Again

It's a low down, loathsome and despicable act to engage in small talk. I'm not saying this because I've never done, never would and don't see why people do it. I do it plenty, and see exactly what there is in it that would appeal to people. I'm sure I must have written about it before, but if I must recap my thoughts on it, I will. It's safe. It saves you from having to take a chance with anyone, those with whom you suspect you have nothing in common especially.

In truth, I grew up somewhere where I don't think that kind of small talk works very well. In the Phoenix area, there is seldom much new that one could say about the weather. After one observes that it's another hot one out there and that we could use some rain, there is little more to be said about the matter by anyone, professionals on the evening news included. In short, the weather is not terribly helpful for small talk there.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Fight Below

I had no business being out of my bed at such a late hour, let alone out of my apartment, but in the early hours of the morning I was lugging my clean, dry laundry back upstairs. I'd finally had enough, and decided that even though it was around midnight, I finally had to have clean clothes. Somewhere around two hours later, this decision paid off with a rather remarkable sight seen by yours truly. I trust you'll be engaged.

I would have just hustled on by the barbeque area that looks out onto the street three stories below, but I heard voices. Sounds carry in that still night air, but this was not just casual conversation that would just have made it to my ears. I think I would have heard these agitated words had their been a storm blowing like crazy. I decided that I had to stop for a moment and take myself a gander. Im always in the market for a spectacle.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Radio Baseball

Baseball season has come around again, and while your lofty-minded pop philosopher will talk of renewal and fresh starts in life, for me it stays a thing of baseball. I do mean to start afresh, but strictly within that realm. I used to watch a lot of games, but then that was largely because I was going to most of the home games. I would miss a lot of the road games on television, but you can only take so much. I took more than most.

These days I catch almost no games. I was at one last year, which is quite a drop from seventy or eighty in a season. This year will probably be like last year. I don't catch many more games at home, either. I don't get the channel that most of the games are on, so I can only see the ones on free television. That leaves the radio broadcasts, which mostly are heard by those who are driving while the games are on, or by the truly irredeemable, inveterate fans who tote radios at the games.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In Good Standing

Some time ago I believe I outlined my assessments of the librarians at my local branch. To summarize briefly, there's one very friendly one, one basically friendly one, cordial but incommunicative on, one  rather knowledgeable one who is not such a people person and one surly one. Those are the ones of whom I can speak with confidence. It's that last one that moves me to write today, and I do wish there were no cause to do so.

I don't think she likes me too much, or at least the possibility of that is there. I have always seen her to be civil at best. There's invariably a quality of curtness to her which has made me see her as someone who is there because it's a job and not a calling. I can guess why she'd be sour, considering what someone in her position must make. You have to get some of your compensation in the fulfillment of your life's mission, because cash probably doesn't quite cover it alone.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Name Your Pleasure

It can be a scary thing when you go to some event where you know few people. The other day that happened. I had the vague idea that this picnic I went to in the park might involve just four or five people, all of whom I had met or knew relatively well. It turned out to be much bigger than that, eventually encompassing several times more than the number I anticipated. I know only those who I had been expecting, and the rest were new to me. It was a little intimidating, as such things are.

I managed to muddle along all right, I think. There were those moments where you pretend that you are busy with your phone, and there were times when I engrossed myself in the food, which is easily taken and eaten, as opposed to the frequently elusive conversation. Mostly though, I found myself talking, and a healthy amount of it was with new people. I don't know that any life achievements happen at a picnic, but I at least showed my social side better than usual.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Meanderer

It's really something, the way the time gets away from you. Many is the night that I have realized at some point that I said farewell to my friends (after the end of the night's fun) some three hours ago. They say that time flies when you're having fun, but they neglected to mention how it does likewise when you're engaged in a lot of rather frivolous activity. As a matter of fact, I am writing this amidst a lot of that very thing.

I go about every day with the best of intentions, and sometimes in totally good faith. I badly would like to be someone who habitually gets up early and goes to bed likewise, but I have always been someone who hold on with a death grip to whatever state of consciousness that he has at the moment. When I sleep, I want to sleep forever, and I am equally committed to remaining awake at the other end of things. It's a bad habit.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dolled Up, Fouled Up

I used to go to a lot of Dodgers games. My best estimate is that in the first three years I lived in LA, I went to something like 200 home games in person. That's a lot even for someone with season tickets such as the ones I had the use of. Consequently, I wound up with a lot of give-away items. I may have made mention of the many blankets, posters and little radios built only to bring in the station which then broadcasted games.

There were also the bobble-heads. There may have been more, but I'm presently looking at five on the table adjacent to my computer. There's Takashi Saito, Rafael Furcal, Tommy Lasorda and Russell Martin. I believe that only Lasorda is presently affiliated with the team. The rest are gone, and so are many pieces from these bobble-head doppelgangers. One is missing arms, another is missing the plaque he originally carried, and all are missing bits of fingers, I think.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Smallest Sphere Of Influence

My room has lately undergone something of a transformation. I'm hesitant to say that it will be anything like permanent, because that is a place that perfectly exemplifies the principle of entropy as I understand it (which is not really well, I'm sure). Let's say that my room starts neat and clean. It'll stay that way for a few days, with the breakdown starting slowly. Inevitably, some kind of freak out will leave boxes and papers everywhere. I'll live with that for a period of time probably in months. The process is completed by a bookending freak out of cleaning.

Well, I had that second conniption the other day, and we'll just see how long I can hold it together. Something that encourages me is another development. I recently have acquired a string of small furniture items. A number of weeks ago I bought a chair from an attractive lady neighbor. It's really icing on the cake that the chair, weird-looking as it is, has been of value. It's rough around the edges, has a slender back and stands on three legs. I like it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Drink

There's something I don't like. It's one of the many things that most people don't think about enough to dislike, but I stand alone there as I do in many areas. I, who can't be bothered to assemble a meal from as many as four ingredients, go the extra mile when it comes to thinking about things that are beneath everyone else's radar, and doing so enough to see something in the to dislike. If I have no other legacy, that may be it.

A good example is that water that will have fruit in it. I don't mean fruit-flavored water of the kind I used to drink a considerable amount of. I mean regular water with whole fruit right in there. Now, I don't even like having a lemon wedge in my water at a restaurant. You can imagine how I would feel at the yogurt place when I see strawberries floating there in the water dispenser. It's not pleasant, and I don't know why someone would do it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hemmed In

I was riding on the bus back to North Hollywood from Burbank the other day, and I was reading my Henry Miller book as I meant to. I also had my earphones in, but I wasn't listening to anything. It would have been too distracting to do so, but I feel that I'm less likely to be bothered if it looks like I'm listening to something in addition to intently reading a book (particularly if the tome is a salacious one such as I had).

At one point, a man came and sat down next to me. He then got off, and I was glad to be alone again. When a young woman got on, I expected her to sit anywhere but next to me, though free seats were not plentiful. She was pretty enough, and occupied fairly well with a phone call that seemed to concern a terribly dramatic conflict at her workplace. It was rather banal, but I couldn't help but hear when she sat next to me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I've been having a little difficulty lately with my reading. Perhaps it can be attributed to the sharply increased rate at which I've been watching movies. After all, I only have twenty-four hours in a day, just like anybody else. I eat, I sleep, I socialize and sometimes I work. The more movies I watch, the less I'm going to read, although public transit time is always going to be open to reading and never to movies.

It's been a while since I finished off a book in short order. Our local library allows you to check out a book for three periods of three weeks each, and I in the past had been able to complete them within the first three weeks fairly regularly. Maybe I was then reading different material. I do zip through easy material pretty well, but I've been on a somewhat planned campaign to eliminate gaps in my reading of the classics.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rich In Something

I bought tickets for the lottery the other day. You hardly need me to tell you about the historically high jackpot which had developed in the multi-state Mega Millions lottery. As of Friday, when three winning tickets finally brought an end to the mounting riches, it was at 640 million dollars. When the potential payoff is so high that even those who look down on lottery players buy tickets just in case, that's when I get involved.

I can convince myself that I have noble intentions. Some amount of the proceeds from lotteries will go to things like education, or to other worthwhile but underfunded areas of local government. The lottery in Arizona puts some towards the Game & Fish department, for which I have a soft spot in my heart. I would also be delighted to think that my purchase of a lottery ticket some kids are still learning the arts in a classroom instead of from the television.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Watch Out!

Today is April Fools' Day, and I'm supposed to craft some barely-plausible lie that will leave you looking and feeling like a fool. I'm not going to do that, not least of all for the reason that I never seem to address special days at the right time even if I'm not writing in advance. I never have much enjoyed the occasion for whatever reason, and I would guess that those who know me fairly well are surprised by that.

Those who know me very well probably find that a little easier to believe, though. The thing is that much of what I dish out I cannot take. Deadpan jokes that I level at others are easily deployed against me with devastating effect. You'd think that I would be somewhat the wiser for my experience in using those jokes, but I'm not. Consequently, April Fools' Day finds me all too credulous sometimes if not always.