Tuesday, December 31, 2013


As it's New Year's Eve tonight, I thought a more in depth discussion of the club in "Tango & Cash" where Kiki dances would be warranted. I touched on it earlier, but it really is crying out for more thorough coverage. Ray Tango tells Gabe Cash to reach him through Kiki by going to the club, and what Cash finds upon arrival is remarkable. First of all, it's an enormous club. I'm not a dedicated clubber, but from my limited experience, I never have seen the like.

The place is really hopping, which I have see. Cash manages to wade through the crowd rapidly, failing to find anyone who knows Kiki. She enters the main room on her motorcycle, riding it up a ramp that leads past the main stage to the dressing rooms (!). Cash only finds out it's her afterwards, when he easily makes his way into said dressing room filled with topless women. They eye him, seemingly eager to jump his bones rather than to report him to the many police who are evidently aware that the sister of a wanted fugitive is at the club and might be contacted.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Hey, Mate!

In "Tango & Cash", the titular characters are sent to prison on a frame job, but in no time at all they are out again. While in the prison though, they manage to do a lot. They shower, they are nearly killed, they lob a lot of one liners at each other, and they receive cellmates. These cellmates fall on opposite ends of the spectrum, but each in his own way is meant to be very intimidating. I guess they're effective enough.

Kurt Russell's Gabe Cash finds himself sharing a cell with a mountain of a man who denies him access to the toilet. It's lucky that he is not in prison long enough to experience a bowel movement. I don't think they receive even one meal there. I'm not sure either that they are even there overnight. Time passes in a nebulous fashion there, but perhaps it does not pass fast enough for Cash, who we are made to understand is very afraid of his cellmate.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fair Is Fair

If there's going to be any nudity in a movie, it's far more likely to be women than men. I think the statistics will bear me out on that as much as the perception. I mostly don't complain like maybe I should, being as eager for full equality as the next person, but I like to think I have some appreciation for the rare movie that makes any attempt to balance the scales. One of those is "Tango & Cash", at least a little bit. Fair is fair, you know?

The titular cops are framed for a murder and thrown into a brutal prison. One of the first things they do once there (and one of the only things they are in prison long enough to do) is take a shower. The pair of them walk into the shower room entirely naked, never stopping the barrage of wisecracks that constitute the vast majority of dialogue in the film. It was an eye-opening moment in the film, expecting as I did the first time an action movie that would only have female nudity.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Low Flunky

One of the slightly more obscure characters in "Tango & Cash" is Face, which is the only name given to (and the only name necessary for) the character played by Robert Z'Dar. Z'Dar's entire career has been based on his rather incredible visage. At the risk of sounding unkind, he is the only performer I can think of who would stand a fair chance of credibly portraying Rocky Dennis without makeup or other effects. You surely have seen him in something.

He doesn't have a ton of scenes. In the film's opening scene, which sets up Stallone's Ray Tango, he drives a gas tanker which turns out to be concealing loose cocaine where the gas should be. Tango captures him after foiling the plot. Even if that was where it ends for him, he would be very memorable. He just drives the truck and reacts to the actions of supercop Ray Tango, but he does it while having the aforementioned incredible lantern-shaped face.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Slop Cop

I like Gabe Cash, the messy slob to Ray Tango's fastidious money guy. An interesting point is that while Cash is a slob, he drives a sweet convertible. He also has the newspaper delivered, which I grant may be because he likes reading about himself. He likes to glance over his newspaper while taking bites of a messy burrito that he is holding with one hand. He's brash and quick with a one liner. Tango is too, but opposites can have some similarities.

It really seems like Kurt Russel should be Tango and Sylvester Stallone should be Cash. Maybe they thought that was too on the nose. It's true enough that Stallone is more obviously of Italian extraction, but then you don't need either of them to be Tango. If you don't want a too obvious name for Stallone, neither of them has to be Cash either, but then the movie works well with the names are they are, so why meddle with them? I can deal.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Investor Cop

Something interesting about Sylvester Stallone's character Ray Tango in "Tango & Cash" is the strait-laced personality he has. It seems that they were aiming for E.G. Marshall's character in "12 Angry Men": the rich, fastidious one. I guess Stallone was trying to play against type, to expand his range beyond the quiet tough guy roles he had played to that point. He doesn't look too bad in a nicely tailored suit and a pair of glasses, I'll grant him that.

He doesn't exactly pull off the role, though. I suppose he's not the absolute worst at it, but he's laboring against an awful lot in the process. In a lot of the movie, it seems as if they'd given up on the idea, and it's hard for him and Kurt Russell to gain any separation in personality from each other. It's just as well. They didn't need to play such opposites in order for there to be some nice tension between them, and there really is.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sibling Riflery

It's Christmas today, of course, and a critical component is family togetherness. I'm always very fortunate to be with my family at this time of year, and so today is a happy day. I suspect Christmas is also a good time for Ray and Kiki Tango, two of the prominent characters in "Tango & Cash". Yes, I am continuing on with my series of posts on that film, and I'll take the faintest of excuses to do it. The tenuous connection that family offers is enough.

It's a curious relationship that Ray Tango has with Kiki. In their first scene together, she is itching to get away from LA. Ray, in a paternal way, is striving to keep her close. We know she's a dancer, I believe, but are meant to assume they are romantically involved or something. In retrospect, her playful returns of Ray's straight lines suggest a sibling dynamic. Save for the overbearing quality, it's banter that many siblings might like to have with each other.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Giver

It's the day before Christmas, so it would be logical to write about that, but you know very well that I'm in the middle of my series of indeterminate length on the subject of "Tango & Cash". If this helps tie it in, let me assure you that the film in question makes an excellent Christmas gift for anyone in your family (and don't kid yourself: kids have to learn about complicated narcotrafficker revenge schemes sometime). The point is, I'm talking about Tango & Cash.

Let's get to the character who most closely resembles Santa Claus, Owen. This requires that we jump ahead to after Tango and Cash escape the prison where they are sent to be killed by Perret's thugs. Owen is some kind of tech genius who works for the LAPD. He is something like Q from the James Bond film, except there's no logical reason to think either that he could be so well funded or that he could come up with the stuff he has all on his own.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Good Sidekick

Like I said, the improbably-named main villain of "Tango & Cash" is Yves Perret, who is portrayed by Jack Palance. He has the two lieutenants I've described, and even though one of them is played by James Hong, they are not too interesting. Perret's other prominent underling however, is way better. He's the chief muscle, and is played by Brion James. You've probably seen him in movies like "Blade Runner" and "The Fifth Element", and he's great.

In Tango & Cash, he wasn't meant to have a big part, but it was further developed when Sylvester Stallone liked the Cockney accent he decided to use. In a gang that includes Asians, Latinos and white guys, why not throw in an inexplicable Brit? He's a British thug in a multiracial LA gang, and his name is Requin. In truth, it is not a very good accent, but the character is still a fun one, and like everyone in the movie, he gets some awfully fun lines. It just wouldn't be the same without him.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Female Lead

In "Tango & Cash", Gabe Cash is seemingly a loner. He alludes to divorces in his past, but is tied to no one at the movie's beginning. Ray Tango, while also apparently single, is not entirely alone in life. The movie sets up a surprise for later on by introducing Teri Hatcher as Katherine, but not saying who she is to Ray Tango. We find out down the line, and this is meant to be a big surprise when it comes. It is, I guess, but I don't know why it should be.

Teri Hatcher is best known, I suppose for being in "Desperate Housewives", and before that "Lois & Clark". She was good in "Tomorrow Never Dies", in my recollection, and she had one of the more memorable female guest appearances in the entire run of Seinfeld. Being the female lead in Tango & Cash is not something that comes up much, but after having become a fan of the film, it's about the first thing I think of for her.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bad Presentation

Yesterday I wrote of Yves Perret, the improbably-named villain of "Tango & Cash". There's a lot to him beyond his fatal flaw of micro-managing. He seems rather eccentric. At one point, he is explaining his plan to his two lieutenants. The plan is to get the two supercops into prison and then kill them once there is no risk of them dying as martyrs and bringing more heat down on the criminal enterprise. Whatever the plan's faults are, incredible complexity isn't really one of them.

Sure, maybe it's a little more complicated than it needs to be, but you understood when I described it above, right? You don't need some kind of visual aid. Perret thinks maybe you would, or rather that his lieutenants will. Instead of just laying it out for them, he goes to the trouble of setting up a maze with mice in it to illustrate that Tango and Cash will be like rats in a cage. It's an amazingly sophisticated one, seemingly meant for high level academic studies.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Prime Villain

In "Tango & Cash", the villain is Yves Perret, as portrayed by Jack Palance. He is a very successful drug dealer, overseeing two lieutenants. He seems to control the whole city underworld, but the two titular cops remain thorns in his side. The film's plot revolves around Perret's plan to deal with them. While one could certainly second-guess his strategy, tactics and execution, Perret is a very satisfying villain thanks to Palance's disregard for subtlety as an actor.

In the opening scene, we see Stallone's Ray Tango successfully intercept a tanker truck full of cocaine. It's full of loose cocaine. At the conclusion of the scene, the driver and his counterpart are arrested and the cocaine is seized by police. Driving by in a limo to survey the scene are Perret and his lieutenants. They discuss their quandary, taking care to reference the yet-to-appear Gabe Cash. It's a curious scene, I think.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

On "Tango & Cash"

A few days ago, I had a string of posts about "Friday The 13th Part 5". There were not as many of them as there were for "Friday The 13th Part 4", but then I guess I didn't have as much to say about the former. I don't know if it wasn't bad enough to arouse my ire or what. Maybe it wasn't promising enough to be worth it. In any case, there's another movie that I know fairly well and which has lots in it that I could write about.

It's "Tango & Cash", which I've mentioned in passing a few times, but which I don't know if I've explored in depth. It warrants it. To give a brief synopsis, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell are two celebrated LA cops who clash with Jack Palance's evil drug lord. Stallone is a clean-cut, fastidious stock-trading, suit-wearing cop. Russell is a crude, blue collar, free-wheeling type. Somehow Stallone is Tango and Russell is Cash.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Two Incidents

You see some odd things riding public transportation. The more of them you see, the less remarkable they seem, but some things still move the needle. Those are some really unfortunate things, and I try to be careful who I bring them up to, because they're generally rare and hearing of them could turn people off taking public transportation. I don't mind mentioning them here, since I figure there's minimal risk of my moribund readership taking public transportation in the first place.

A couple of interesting things have happened in the last couple of days. On Sunday, I was coming home from a comedy theater. I'd gotten to hear a joke of mine in a show, and I'd attended a Christmas party. The night was capped off by a crazy guy sprawl out next to me on the floor of the subway station platform, incessantly flailing around and screaming until the next train finally came. I was glad he and I were not going the same way.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Ties That Bind A Movie

In "Friday The 13th Part Five", there are a lot of superfluous characters, as I said before. That figures. If you want fifteen murders in a movie, you have to have fifteen murderable characters. Most of them won't have a good reason for being in the story. A good example of that in my mind is the pair of hillbillies who live next door to the halfway house. There is also the handyman who shows up, and since he's filthy and earthy, we can lump him in.

They're a puzzling group. I suppose they- the mother and son- are a source of some levity. I don't think there's a time where they're not silly, and I think that's mainly deliberate. I think. I'm really not entirely sure on that. The handyman is not funny. He starts out straight and finishes just creepy. The mother and son have a disturbingly familiar and insular relationship, but they do have a lighter side in a way. I don't think they help the movie any.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Too Many Victims

For the past couple of days, I've been writing about "Friday The 13th Part 5". They had got to the point where each sequel had to be peppered with more and more murders of a more inventive nature. I'm not especially against violence in movies. I'm more against its use as a substitute for a real story. The best slasher movies are the ones that bothered to make any death mean something, and the only way to do that is good, old-fashioned character development.

Part 5 does that a little bit. Tommy Jarvis is a badly damaged young man as a resulted of his previous clash with Jason. He retains only vestiges of his former self, such as his enduring interest in scary masks. Reggie, the grandson of the cook at the halfway facility (or whatever it is you call the place) is not so bad. He gets a few scenes with his grandfather and his brother. Neither Tommy nor Reggie is really that interesting to me in spite of those character details. After that you mainly have broad types who are just grist for the mill.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

More On "Friday The 13th Part 5"

As I said yesterday, I watched "Friday The 13th Part 5" recently (among other entries in the series). Although I am fond of them all, very few of them (if any) are incredibly strong. They all have egregious flaws, but I love them anyway. I can see both sides of them. It depends on my mood. There are horror films where it doesn't matter what mood I'm in. Those are just good movies. With this one, I have to be in the right mood to love it.

One of the things that's sort of funny about it is the movie that some of the halfway house residents (if that's what they are) are watching nearer the end of the movie. I'm not sure of what movie it was, but it was a very old movie. This is now the mid 80s, and yet they are watching this old black and white movie. That in itself is not so crazy. I watch movies like that all the time. I pretty much always have. I'm just not like these kids in the movie.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

On "Friday The 13th Part Five"

One of the digital sub-channels was showing Friday The 13th movies to mark the date yesterday. You may remember my string of posts about Part Four. I don't how whether I'm liable to duplicate that here, but I will say that most of the movies in the series are ripe for it. One of the ones they showed yesterday was Part Five, which is about as bad as any in the bunch. Somehow, it was always on television in my adolescence.

It ought to be no spoiler when I say that it's reviled partly for the decision to have the villain be some guy we've never seen before pose as Jason. The movie plays out as a half-assed mystery, with the killer concealed from sight more than any film since the original, when it was Jason's mother and there was no expectation that it wouldn't be. In a way, it's not a terrible thing that they went that way. It might as well have been a bad movie because they tried something different.

Friday, December 13, 2013

An Arrogant Idea

I was thinking yesterday about what levels of intelligence I like and dislike. I really like people who are as smart as I am. They are good people to know. They make good contributions, and they appreciate my good contributions. I am wary of people who are smarter than I am. They will call me on my bad contributions, and make enough good ones that there will be no opportunity for me to do so. That's as far as I go with that end of the spectrum.

As for people who fall below me in intelligence, I don't like any of them too much, but it takes some thought to decide which I like the least. It doesn't take very much, but it does take some. I think I like the stupidest people better. It strikes me that they are the least likely to be in any position to do a lot of harm. They are like swimmers too weak to get out where they might drown. I guess that's maybe not an apt comparison, but I'll never claim to be the absolute smartest.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On "Prancer"

There are just a few movies that I remember very well from childhood, or at least that stick out. At the time, they invariably seemed like good movies. There was the scifi saga "Time Trackers", which in retrospect I find it hard to believe was actually in theaters. There was "Joe Vs The Volcano, there was "The Secret Garden", and there was "Prancer". There were more, but my mind is presently on that last one.

I should describe the plot a bit. There is a little girl whose mother has recently died. Her father, a poor apple farmer, is a hard, distant man. He fears failing to provide for the family, and entertains the idea of sending his daughter to live with another relative. At this time, an injured reindeer appears and the girl presumes it to be Prancer, one of Santa's reindeer. The film revolves around her efforts to restore Prancer to health while also restoring the Christmas spirit in those around her.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Inane Weather Chatter

It has recently been a bit cold in Los Angeles, and so other cities more accustomed to consistently cold weather are vigorously ridiculing Angelenos for overreacting. It's a curious thing to do. Would a penguin be within his rights to ridicule a camel for feeling cold just because the penguin's threshold is so different? It's no concern of mine how people handle the weather where they are. In any event, it is a bit cold (getting down into the 30s overnight), and I don't mind owning up to being cold enough to need a heavy jacket.

I do enjoy the cold weather, affording me as it does the chance to wear some of those jackets and coats. I'm of the opinion that I look pretty good in them, which I hope can't be taken to mean that I have such a hideous form that it is best hidden under a pile of clothing. from my light jacket to my heavy peacoat, I just happen to fill out an outer garment fairly well. If there's an exception, it might be sweatshirts and the like. They are a bit baggy for my taste.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Yesterday there were one or two incidents of a sort that are not so common for me, and with which I do find myself at a loss. Both concerned travel, in a way. The main one, given that it directly involved me (rather than me being an observer), occurred as I rode a bus on the way to an audition. I was fearful of low energy (and the somewhat tight pants I'd chosen to wear), so I resolved to stand rather than sit no matter what seating was available.

There's no really convenient place to stand on a bus, but there is a tiny bit of space near the rear door of your typical bus. The key thing is that you get yourself out of the way when people need to exit the bus. I like to think I do a fair job of that. One man did not. He shouted out something like "Hey, Mr. Headphones- come on!" I was Mr Headphones, I guess, and I wonder if he thought I couldn't hear or see him. Indeed I could do both.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Yet To Learn

There are constant reminders that I am not as bullet-proof at the age of thirty as I was at the age of twenty. Rest assured, I'm still perfectly young and make not claims to the contrary, but I nonetheless am not as impervious to harm or as quick to recover from it as I maybe once was. A good example of that is when I'm drinking. I don't think I'm any more or less quickly affected by it- which is to say that I reach a point of intoxication just when I ever did- but the hangover is something else.

It seems as if it was not so long ago that I could drink heavily in the evening and be fully recovered the next day. That is not so anymore, and if I've addressed this before, then that can surely be chalked up to the effects of the same thing. These days, I am plagued with queasiness and headaches for the whole next day, and sometimes it seems to take more time than that. It's a really terrible feeling, and I could do without it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Yesterday I alluded to a Yule log video. I'll address that today. In the days after Thanksgiving, I started getting into the Christmas spirit. You may well wonder why I wasn't there in early November. I guess I'm not one of those types. I'm there now, anyway. I listen to Christmas music whenever it is reasonable, and I also do enjoy a good Yule log fire. I can't have a fire here at my place, regrettably, but there is Youtube.

The other day I decided I wanted to watch a Yule log video for the first time this Christmas season. I looked around a bit online, and went with the first one that looked very good from the thumbnail. It was a little under an hour long, which I figured was plenty long enough. I set up some seasonal tunes to go with it, and we were off to the races. It was a fairly standard fire in a plain-looking fireplace. I don't know if they get flashier than that, but I wouldn't want that anyway.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

It's A Date

I was going to write something about watching a yule log video, but it occurred to me that today is Pearl Harbor Day. Coming on the heels of Nelson Mandela's death, I wonder if it will be much remembered, except by the likes of me. I find it easy enough to remember. FDR's speech after the tragedy is very memorable in itself, and as it starts with the date of the event, seeing that it is December 7th never fails to remind me.

I can hardly imagine what it was like to be there, or merely to be alive and bear any kind of witness to the event and its aftermath. America, I guess, had little interest in getting involved before it happened. Afterwards, what choice did we have? Some say that our political leadership let it happen, wanting as they did to get us into the fight that had already been raging overseas. It does seem curious that our most valuable ships should have been out of the harbor, but then what point there is in dredging up that debate, I don't know.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Unwanted Ride

Something that will undoubtedly cast me in a negative light is my belief that I am sometimes, in accepting a ride home from a friend, doing them a favor rather than receiving one from them. Of course, I always appreciate the kindness and generosity shown to me by others, although I am all too often remiss in my responsibility of showing them how I appreciate it. I like to think that I turn out a thank you here and there.

I do get a bit embarrassed about being done favors by others. I really would just as soon manage things by myself whenever it is practical. I make a point of not asking for a ride unless it is extremely necessary or so easy for the person to give that it is as if they are not doing anything out of the ordinary at all. It is otherwise not at all worth the impact on my relationship with that person, or the entry in my mental ledger of "favors owed". There are many such entries.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Music

It's the Christmas season, we must at last admit to ourselves. One of the critical aspects of Christmas is, of course, the music. We now have a lot of options for how we consume it (or, indeed, if we do). Friends of mine are breaking out their vinyl records of Christmas music. Others of us are streaming music online. There may even be those who are buying CD's, since I think they are still making those. Maybe those people are buying mp3s.

My favorite way to hear Christmas music is the traditional way, or at least what is the traditional way to me. I listen on the radio. Each year at this time, a town's soft rock radio stations switch formats to non-stop Christmas music. In this way I get all the conventional songs, sometimes sung by the likes of Bing Crosby and so forth, other times being sung by more recent artists like Mariah Carey or Michael Buble. It suits me well enough.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


My best days are probably the ones where I never end up getting on the social networking websites. Focusing on my own affairs has the effect of leading to real productivity and also that of filtering out all the awful stuff that is on those websites. Sadly, such days are all too few and far between, as my level of discipline is lackluster at best. Most days I have those sites open on my computer all day, and I reach an apoplectic state numerous times.

There are countless ways in which I am angered. The most incident is a common thing with me. Someone who I like in general was wringing his hands over the list of the most popular articles at the New York Daily News. Most of them concerned the death of actor Paul Walker, and all of them were very yellow journalism. Given that the newspaper in question is a tabloid, I was unsurprised and unbothered. He was very bothered, as were others.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Many Ways

It is interesting what motivates me to get out of bed to begin my day. Sometimes it is just that I cannot sleep anymore. That would be a natural waking that signifies that I have actually gotten a proper night's rest. I guess it doesn't happen that much, but it has. It's not very exciting. It's about as exciting as filling up at the gas station, which is interesting only in that it presents an opportunity to look cool and nonchalant for a few minutes.

It is exciting and powerfully motivating to wake up because you really have to. This obviously happens often enough, and is the only reason I ever get up early. The fact that I am easily able to get up out of necessity suggests that I could get up early as a rule (except that it would then conflict with my desire to stay up very late). The very most exciting incidences of getting up out of necessity are when I wake up a bit late and must immediately dress and leave the house. That is stimulating.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Shane In The Membrane

The internet, I will not send you into conniptions by saying, is a curious thing. What's very interesting to me, among other things, is what happens to those who are granted prominence online by the collective attention of the internet's users. There are a lot of different things that can happen to you. Take the case of Noah, a little boy who feared ridicule for having to wear glasses. He must be living at least a few years before I was born, because glasses are now so prevalent that it's hard to imagine someone thinking that.

In any case, Noah's mother turned to the internet to console him (which is not good parenting if you ask me). She formed a group seeking to have people assure the boy that it would be all right for him to wear glasses. They evidently did so, and she needed to do no more than a little quick e-marketing. Noah was lucky. It seems to me that the internet could just as easily have cruelly cyber-bullied him into an even worse state.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

This Close

A few days ago I was all stimulated by my first Greyhound bus ride in a little while, and jotted down a number of incidents from it that seemed worth writing about. I think I got to one of them before others ideas took precedence, but the ride back to LA from Phoenix gave me at least one idea (and there are no ideas crowding it out right now). It connects to something unfortunate that had happened on the preceding trip.

When the "meal stop" had come in the town of Blythe, California, I assumed we'd be stopping where the buses always had, where there were several options to eat. It doesn't stop there anymore, but rather someone a bit distant from many decent eating options. There's the gas station where they stop, and then there's a Burger King across the street and down a block or so. It's always crowded, and the stop is only for 25 minutes, so I passed.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Return?

I was thinking the other day of my high school. This was even before I saw that they were set to compete in the state football championship, but that did intensify my thought. I was thinking about how I spent my time there and what my lingering feelings about the place are. It has been some twelve years since my terrified graduating night (when I sat in my cap and gown all evening full of fear that I lacked the credits to walk).

High school was a difficult time obviously, as it is for most people. I suspect it is not as happy a time as it seems even for those seemingly blessed people who later might regard the time as the best in their lives, but I was not one of those people. I knew and was close to few people then. It is for that reason that I doubt I would have much interest in attending a reunion. I have never received notice of one, but as we still receive mail at the address where I then lived, I'm sure I will when the time comes. Is it ten years, or fifteen?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Blood For Blood

I found myself doing something a couple days ago that I didn't expect I would be. I don't mean firing a handgun, which I did do a couple days ago. I guess I did two things that day that were unanticipated. The second came late in the day, and I at first swore I wouldn't do it. I didn't say so, but I wasn't sure I felt at all well. I was awfully tired, which may be attributable to the little sleep I've had among other things.

What I'm talking about is having my blood drawn. My sister is studying in school, and she's learning to draw blood. She has to do it so many times, and my mother, my father and I went to help with her numbers (although I think only my father and I submitted). Being rundown, I feared that I might have a poor reaction. Who wants to be the guy who collapses and has to be helped into a bed, especially when numerous older people are doing fine?

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Today is Thanksgiving. Now that I've proven I know it, I'll move on to something else. Yesterday, I did something I've never done before. When I was a boy, I shot rifles at summer camp and at some Boy Scout activities. They were bolt action 22 caliber rifles, and I think we always shot in the prone position or in a sitting position. We never shot from a standing position that I can think of, and we never shot handguns.

Yesterday, I shot a handgun. It wasn't something I was planning on doing, and it probably wasn't something I ever would have gone to any trouble to do, but it was nothing that I was against doing. In any case, I found myself at a gun store and shooting range that has previously made headlines for its Yuletide tradition of giving its clientele the chance to pose with their guns and Santa Clause. I did not get the chance to do that this time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Yesterday, as I said I would, I took a Greyhound bus from LA to see my family back home in Phoenix. Plenty happened over the course of the day, and I may or may not cover more of it than this. To begin with, I got going a little before six in the morning. I actually had been up for nearly four hours, having been unable to go back to sleep after waking up. I had maybe two or three hours sleep. It was an inauspicious beginning.

Still, I was doing well. I showered, finished getting my things together and ate some breakfast. Unfortunately, things did not stay entirely good. Shortly after getting on the subway, I hit a snag. Once we got to the second stop, they advised us that police activity on the track ahead was going to hold us in position for ten minutes. This might not sound like much, but it had the effect of keeping me from making the connecting bus.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Return To The Bus

As I write this, I am around fourteen hours from getting on a Greyhound bus to visit my family. By the time you read this, I will be better than halfway there. This is something I have done before, and enough times that I know fairly well what I am in for. There are apt to be surprises, since it's been a couple years, but I doubt things have changed so much that what I write here becomes entirely invalid. If so, I'll say.

By the time I'm on the bus itself, there's a fair chance that the trouble will be over. One thing Greyhound is not overburdened by is customer service. If things are going fine for you, you probably won't notice, but if you run into trouble, you may rest assured that you are on your own. If a ticket machine is broken (which assumes that there is one there), it's doubtful that you'll be warned or helped. If your reservation is missing or they overbook a bus (which happens), you are probably not going to get relief.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Traveling Man

I love "Columbo". On a whim, I checked the discs containing the first "season" out of the library, and I watched them and the rest with my roommate. We noticed a lot of peculiarities in the show, one of which concerns the titular detective's relaxed attitude about jurisdiction. He was always getting into cases that took him well outside of Los Angeles, which is where he lived and worked. It was amusing, but infuriating. It was never even brought up as a problem. He just went places.

If I got into every time he went elsewhere in California, this would go on for some time. If I confine myself only to the most egregious cases, it's long enough. I started thinking about the whole thing when an episode in which Colombo visits England. It seems to me he may have done that a couple times. He's purportedly a guest of Scotland Yard, getting to see how they handle the crime-fighting business, which is conceivable, but unlikely just the same to me.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Something That Happened

There I was, celebrating the birthday of a friend at a country western bar in Chatsworth. The bunch of us drank (with a couple of exceptions that included me), danced (with a number of exceptions, including me), and soaked in the atmosphere of the venue (including me). The place started out packed will old people who danced in a courtly fashion to the live band's music. The makeup of the bar's patrons changed as the evening wore on.

There started to be more and more young people of an apparently low character. This is too bad, because the old people seemed nice enough and their enthusiasm for dancing was infectious. This was not true of the new arrivals. They were mainly well behaved enough in spite of that, except for something odd that happened. It was not unpleasant so much as puzzling, but I do wish that it hadn't happened.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Movie Surprise

Some people will surprise you. You look at everyone, and have a judgement in seconds. In trying to figure out someone as a person in just a few moments, you're probably not going to do too well. Just looking at them and what they're doing in a moment, you can't project too far into the future what their behavior will be and how to handle it. I do think, though, that you can make a snap judgment that handles a short time period.

Suppose that you're faced with sitting next to a stranger at the movies. I think it's not that far-fetched to think you can guess whether someone is going to be a bother over the course of the next two hours, but then it's also very possible for someone to surprise you. The more information you have, the less probable that is, but someone can always surprise you. If a friend can do it, a stranger surely can every time.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Self Abuse

I have recently read that the people behind the Oxford Dictionary (or possibly those who make the online edition) have named "Selfie" the word of the year. It seems rather early to do so, not even being December yet, but I suppose they must get their name out there now if there is to be any hope of making a splash in the Christmas shopping season. I don't know who buys dictionaries, but the publishers of them seem content to degrade themselves plenty in hopes of reaching that market.

In any case, I have found time and time again that I am either not good at taking selfies or my likeness cannot be accurately captured by selfies. There is something magical that happens when the picture is taken just a few feet further away and features both of my arms in frame. I don't always look good that way, but there's at least a chance of it. There's also a greater chance of my eyes being red, but it's a risk worth taking.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Change From Within

As time passes, I get more and more tired of holding things back. We all learn to keep much of what we think to ourselves for various reasons. Not every thought merits being shared, for one thing. For another, many thoughts we have would be hurtful to people, and so we spare their feelings by maintaining our silence. More so than many, I decline to say what's on my mind, or at least to say it to the person I want. I'll find someone else to say it to.

More and more, though, I find myself becoming more candid. I now say things in this blog that I probably would not have, both because fewer than ever are reading it and because I have less and less time and energy to get very clever with my posts. About all I can do now is say things plainly and hope there is no trouble from it. To date there has been no trouble, probably because no one particularly is reading.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Give Way Never

I saw something interesting on the way home from the grocery store a couple days ago. I had already seen something funny inside the grocery store, you see: There was a grown man- one who I assume was a father, for he was pushing a shopping cart with a kid in it- trying to make the same kid behave. That in itself is not at all out of the ordinary or interesting, but it got more so when I heard him say "Are you kidding me, bro?"

It was while I frantically typed that into my phone before I forgot it that I saw something more. I was walking along Magnolia Boulevard in North Hollywood, which is a difficult one to cross in spite of being of rather modest size. There was an old man on a bicycle who was either trying to cross Magnolia  or was trying merely to enter traffic and travel along it. Either way, he got into a rather interesting scrape.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On The Count Of Three

I think I may not be that bad of a drawer. I'll be realistic in saying that I'm not a great one, or probably even a very good one. I have terrible spatial reasoning. If you asked me to write a line of text across the middle of a page so that it occupied the exact center, I would struggle at that and I would probably fail. There are also probably not very many real world objects and shapes that I am adept at capturing with accuracy.

Still, I think that I surprise myself. When I aim for a very modest drawing goal, I come very close to hitting the mark. When drawing a face, I am really not so terrible. There is a great chance that, if I draw someone who you should know, you will figure out who it is without any help. I have managed to do this at least a couple of times, and given a lot of practice, I could do it at least a couple more times.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Starting From The Hip

I described a dark thought to a friend recently. It seemed to me that when one is in dire shape emotionally, there are nightmares at night and the tribulations of the waking world during the day. The only moment of peace for someone like that is the few seconds of transition from sleep to wakefulness and vice-versa. That has only been the case for me very rarely, and not too recently either. For others it's likely more severe.

There are the times when I cannot afford a leisurely and slow waking. I wake up to something that must be done instantly, and my mind is stuck in mud. I only wind up awake while en route to somewhere, or while in the middle of doing something. It's a strange way to get going, but it seems to have little effect on me in the long term. I'm not sorry that it happens as seldom as it does, but it seems to have little effect.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Spy The Sky

As I write this, it's a bit overcast outside. The blue sky is sneaking through in a few spots in the hour or so before the sun sets, but it's more or less a gloomy day, or what passes for one in Los Angeles. It seems like it's been forever since it rained. It very seldom does here, of course, not that you'd guess it from the way people choose to use their water around here. It's like back home in Arizona, but worse. You get a lot of people from the midwest and back east who think a green lawn is their birthright.

I'm often reminded of back home when I pass by someplace where somebody's laid down a lot of manure to fertilize the grass. They say that smells are the most powerful trigger of memories, which may be true. I instantly am reminded our our manure laden, irrigated lawn. It was fun to play in- the foot or two of water irrigating the yard, not the manure. You had to stay away from that of course, which was easy.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Let Me Do The Talking

It is a funny thing to be interviewed for some reason other than employment. In a variety of speech contests I have been briefly interviewed, and even that is weird. For a few moments, it's all about you. That's something that I must confess I want most of the time, , and most of the time I don't get it. For that reason, I don't have to face up to the fact that I don't know what to do with it most of the time. Then it happens.

For the few moments that I'm being interviewed, I realize that what I'm asking for I actually shrink away from. I think I handle myself well enough in those situations. They ask a few questions and I garner decent reactions with my responses, most of which are designed to fend off the question without answering it. That's my way, I suppose- to dance around the issue without hitting it head-on. I'm working on that in improv.

Friday, November 15, 2013

High Roller

Yesterday, I got to do something pretty neat. I've been going to a bunch of roller derby games after getting invited by a friend who plays in them. She had suggested on occasion that I might like getting involved as a referee, and I expressed interest but also fear that I would have too hard a time with it. After some encouragement, though, I finally felt up to the task. The trouble became scheduling, as practice happens while I'm doing improv stuff.

An opening in my improv schedule came along, and I went along to a roller derby practice. I thought maybe I would just be watching and learning, but I found myself pressed into duty. I was given the choice of either timing the game (which is not so very simple) or of timing the penalties in the penalty box. Guessing that the latter would be easier, I took that. I think that this ultimately proved to be a wise decision.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

On The Go

Something that I sometimes do is to grab something something to eat while I am on my way someplace. I guess most people do, this being a society that has consistently trimmed time away from conventional meals eaten in the home. Anyway, I'll stop off at a fast food place and pick up a few items from the "value menu" and eat them as I walk the rest of the way to my destination. This sometimes works out nicely and sometimes does not.

I like what they have at Jack In The Box all right. There I'll go for a chicken sandwich, a burger and a couple of tacos. They're lethal, of course, but hot and filling. The sandwiches are the easiest thing to eat while moving. The tacos are tougher, I think because you have to tilt your head to bite them. You can bite the sandwiches while facing forward and watching where you are going. Also, the sandwiches hold together better.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New Experience

Children are a necessity in TV, film, commercials and such. I had thought that you have to use twins or triplets, but maybe that's not true. My only firsthand knowledge is in auditions. I have been in a few where there were a lot of kids hanging around, and you have to be wary. You never know when one is going to bump into you or overhear you cursing. The presence of kids also means that the waiting area is clogged with at least one parent per kid. It's a nuisance.

I never had to deal personally with kids. It was always the case that the minors auditioned separately from the adults, or that the kids were auditioning for a different commercial entirely. That was fine by me, although I don't have a problem with kids. I like them fine, but I don't really know how to deal with them. I can't think of how to interact with them except to do what I would do with someone grown-up. I have put my hand out to shake with multiple babies. They all left me hanging.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Shifting Sands

My VHS collection continues to grow. Over the past eight days, I acquired perhaps fourteen tapes, and these came just as I was beginning to again gain some ground on the intractable backlog. Every passel of tapes necessitates an adjustment of the ones I already have so that they may all be stored in something like an efficient and graceful fashion. It gets harder all the time, and it may soon become impossible.

I had recently had my tapes arranged in a pleasing fashion visually, but it was inefficient. Many tapes (and most of my DVDs) were inaccessible without moving several other tapes, and still all the tapes couldn't fit in that space. Worse, they weren't and couldn't be alphabetized, so even the tapes on top couldn't be had immediately, since I had to scan most of them before spotting the desired one. It was an imperfect system.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Temporary Switch

I have lately been drinking coffee again after having nothing but tea for a while. The thing was that I had a big canister of coffee in the freezer, and I was getting tired of that. I thought that I should just drink it finally instead of buying box after box of tea and skipping something that was already at home. Making space in the freezer is also obviously a draw. I am now nearly done with the coffee,  for which I am glad.

My tastes have changed some. I either don't like the taste of coffee any more, or I can't stand the taste of the cheapest coffee on the market anymore. Buying a slightly better than the worst brand could be a way of finding out for sure, but I'm not really into committing myself even to a single coffee at a shop somewhere to get answers like that. It may happen sooner or later, but I'm not going to rush it. These things must happen organically, and I don't mean they must involve organic coffee.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Peach! Peach! Peach!

A couple nights ago, I gave a keynote speech at a Toastmasters conference. I referenced this yesterday, when I wrote about frantically traveling across town in a cab to get there. The two events are tightly linked. The moment I leapt out of the cab, I ran over to the front desk of the venue, which directed me to the right room. I then spent a minute pointlessly talking to the person manning the registration table. It really didn't matter whether I was comped or not, since I was too late for dinner (or at least I was told that).

I then located the person I really needed to talk to, and was sent over to my table where I put on my necktie and received a wireless mike. This terrified me. I have always feared technology in speaking and in other performances, since they have such an alarming propensity for failing at critical moments. In any case, with microphone and tie on my person, I sat and waited for the time to give my speech. It's good that I had some time, since I had to shake off the panic that had me in its grips for the three hours preceding.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Across Town, Up & Down

I recently found myself in a dire moment. I was on one end of the LA metro area- the west side, to be specific- and I needed to get rather far in the other direction- to Burbank, in fact. I did not on this occasion have the benefit of a car. I hoped that I could manage on public transportation, but the three plus hours it would have required was simply not feasible. I would have to find a more creative means of getting to my destination.

I knew I would probably have to resort to a hired car. Although I've had positive results a few times with cabs, they are rather expensive, as you doubtless already know. It was my hope to mitigate the cost. I'd heard a lot about this Lyft thing. Basically regular people offer up their cars to those who need them, and all that is asked is a donation. Generally the expense amounts to two thirds of what a cab would cost. The cabs are naturally fighting this, and I can see their side.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Posing Robots

I have watched a few episodes of "Dragnet", and written about it here at least once. It's a peculiar show. It's probably fair to say that it's a pretty pure expression of Jack Webb's vision. It's a very establishment-minded show. The characters are all super-square cops, criminals who are almost as square, or cartoonish hippies. There's little action to the show, and the so-called crackling dialogue is just people talking fast.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the show is the time allotted to showing the human side of the officers. That's because they don't really have a human side. Imagine if someone tried to prove they were human by cutting open their arm, only to reveal motor oil and whirring gears. It's funny that they would be so confident that you'd be impressed by the depth of their humanity considering what they knew would be revealed. Then again, maybe that person wouldn't have known.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Final Dream?

For several days I have analyzed my dreams in plain view of the few people on this Earth who take an interest in my thoughts. I may or may not have learned something from the exercise. If I have not, at least I made the effort, and as I was apt to get embarrassed and waste a lot of time in life no matter what, there was no harm in it happening this way. At any rate, let us get straight to the matter at hand for today.

The dream goes like this: "dream about Linda. something about plans later, but she was trying to connect with some guy who was showering." That's all there is. Linda is an actress I know through church activities. She's kind, effervescent and awfully attractive. This dream is, in a perhaps less explicit fashion, much like the one which concerned Lucinda. I did not give them rhyming fake names on purpose, but there are parallels.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Penultimate Dream

Today's dream is an interesting one. I'll just get right into it: "dreamed I lived with Robert Landon two shirts were on fridge as lost and found including tank top. I claimed them. There was also a big Hooch-like dog." The dream ends there. "Robert Landon", I can say, is a notable performer at a local comedy theater. I don't really know him, but we have exchanged words. He at least knows me by sight and recalls me.

Maybe I would like to know him better. It could be as simple as that this time. In the dream, he and I are roommates. If I am correctly remembering things I did not write down, we are friends in the dream. One of us has a dog, or we share the dog. Now, in real life I feel a bit intimidated by him, probably for no good reason. I find him difficult to talk to in a practical sense, as he is commonly either in a hurry or surround by throngs of friends.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Grappling With The Sandman

Yesterday's dream was a rather puzzling one, and I drew few conclusions outside of the one that I suffer from a lack of directness. Today's dream came on the same night as yesterday's, both of which followed an improv show I hosted. It may or may not have any connection to yesterday's, as both were swirling around in my head at about the same time. Then again, maybe there's no connection whatsoever.

The record reads like this: "A subsequent dream involved me interacting with wrestlers, at ne point ambushing some by a pool with a long rod or pole, possible meant for pool cleaning." That is all there is to it, and yet there may be something to unearth in it. This is the second night of two dreams, and in each case the second dream was of a violent nature. This time I am evidently the aggressor instead of the victim.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Third Dream

It is another day, and it is time for another dream of mine along with my amateurish efforts to understand it. The last couple of days have seen me fumbling my way through a sex dream and a dream about violence- one in which I may or may not have survived a serial killer's spree. The sex dream too ended ambiguously. In that there may be a comment about my perpetual uncertainty and insecurity, or there may not be.

Today's dream, as I said yesterday, is the top half of a doubleheader. It goes as follows: "dream with Toni Rosewood (another risible fake name) in some kind of play. I wind up sitting with Rod Price (very fake-sounding) and others in a kind of outdoor venue with the play merely happening on television. I wind up seeing a car/plane from a bond movie and trying to figure out how much to pay." So ends the report.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Violent Dream

Yesterday's post, recounting and analyzing the first of at least six dreams, was a touch more candid that I usually write. Today's is not less candid, but like many Americans (if I can claim to understand us), I'm more at ease with violence than sex. In any case, we will see if I have any luck working out the meaning of this one after the fact with only the evidence of what I remembered upon waking up after it was over.

Here is precisely what I wrote: "Second dream involved myself and a house of people being stalked by a killer (one who talked). I remember little except that when there were 3 of us left, he demanded a representative for some unknown purpose. The dream ends there." There you have it. There is considerably less to go on here than there was from the first dream, and yet taken together, the two dreams may give up some meaning.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Salacious Dream

Yesterday I wrote of my plans to relate and analyze some dreams I have had lately. Here is the first of them. It comes from a night in which I managed to record two separate ones, but one may guess that there is a connection between them, I suppose. It may be a tenuous one, and maybe I don't see what it is, but it's hard to imagine how my unconscious mind would have been wrestling with both independently by coincidence.

Here is the record verbatim exactly as I wrote it, with names changed to spare real people involved but with no other words altered to spare myself: "Had a dream about Lucinda. I think it was at a home I lived in. There seemed to be a lot of dancing, and it was evidently leading to sex, as I checked with nervousness to be sure that I had a condom (the very condom and wallet I have in real life). I think it went well in the end, but I'm not sure." There ends my drowsy recollection of the dream.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Golden Age Of Dreams

I have, as I think I may have said, been tired all of the time lately. It's difficult to account for, and I hope it will pass, but one interesting positive has been an increased propensity for remembering my dreams. A friend says that this is common when one is very tired. All I am certain of is that I never manage to remember my dreams, except that sometimes I wake with just a hint of a wisp of one. There is not even even to begin articulating it.

That has not been true lately. I have recorded at least the bare bones of six dreams that I have had in the past week or less. I would have killed for this back in college when I was supposed to keep a dream journal. I believe I got through that assignment with theft of dreams from my roommate and outright lies. It seemed fair when the alternative was failing through no fault of my own. Ought I have been punished for then being well-rested?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hypocritical Position

In the ever-swelling file of "Things I Disagree With Everyone About", there is a curious alleged news story out of North Dakota. Evidently, a woman called into a radio station to announce her plan to give children letters instead of candy on Halloween. The letters were meant for the children's parents, and convey the message that the children in question are overweight and that the parents should be looking after their children's health better. The letter has circulated online after she provided a copy to the aforementioned station.

This is, of course, a lousy thing to do. I don't dispute the prevailing opinion that the woman is in the wrong for this, even if all she did was say this on the radio. As Halloween has only just come today, I don't imagine we can say whether she actually followed through on it. I don't think it matters if she did or she didn't, because her greatest aspiration- that of spreading her message of what people now call "fat shaming" - was carried out for her by the very people who hate her and her message.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sandwich Entre

A couple of days ago I had an improv performance. My team, composed of students from a level four (out of 5) workshop, was to cap off a show of performances from level 1 and 2 workshops, so there was a rare feeling of being the big guys. Usually moving from a smaller pond to a larger one only serves to grant you a view of one that is larger still, but for this night we were able only to look back to the ones behind us.

In any event, it's not the show that concerns me at the moment. I had eaten very little on the day of the show. I think I had a cup of tea and english muffins. I reasoned that I should eat something before performing, and so I picked something up on the way. I had decided to walk to the show, which was maybe a mile and a half away. Taking the bus would have saved me perhaps five minutes, and it would not be unheard of for a bus to be over five minutes late.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Mooch With Scrambled Brains

I am ordinarily fairly clear-headed, although it doesn't always come across that way. Whatever disorder appears on the surface, it is usually well-ordered inside. There's just some kind of problem transmitting that. Lately though, it's been messy on the inside. I am inclined to blame a breakdown in my routines leaving me tired and unfed at times. This is, I think, why I accidentally ate someone else's food at a restaurant the other day.

I was very hungry and, as this was the day following a big Halloween party, I was somewhat hungover. We were at a sushi restaurant for someone's birthday, and as you often order in a rather piecemeal fashion, it's hard sometimes to keep track of what is yours and what is someone else's. I ordered four cut rolls, and I knew for sure when things started showing up (which was a long time later considering nothing gets cooked) what three of them were.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Maze Pays

The weekend just past was full of activities. I hardly seemed to have a single moment of peace or rest. I'm glad to have social activity to my name, and yet I sort of wish I didn't have to be there for it. In any event, one of the events I was party to was a visit to a pumpkin patch, petting zoo and haunted maze. If I had to say which one of those things was the most worth the money, I would be stumped. It was not a great place.

We actually didn't patronize the petting zoo, as it was enough to see the handful of animals languishing behind the fence without getting in there too. We also didn't buy pumpkins, but we could see them and their prices, and they did not match up. They were rather overpriced in my opinion, although maybe I'm supposed to value them higher on account of their coming from some small-time farming operation. I guess that's worth something.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

This Year's Clothes

In past years, Halloween has consisted for me of numerous costume parties, each of which represented a chance to strike gold with a costume haphazardly assembled at the last minute. Sometimes I have just thrown things together and played my intentions close to the vest until a consensus emerged as to what people thought I was. The last couple of years, the costume that proved to be the most memorable was an inexplicably fat version of someone (last year David Lee Roth and the year before, Doc Brown).

It has helped to be the steward of a prop and costume box whose primary function is supplying the production of comedy sketches. It has sometimes supplemented a costume, but is not in itself enough to furnish any complete costume. This year it did contribute one or two things for me and for my roommate. I do wish it could have done more, because I didn't this year come up with anything better than my very mediocre average.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Classic Episode

While trying to write yesterday, I turned on the TV and watched most of an episode of "Dragnet". It's a terrible show (although I find enough enjoyment in watching that I can't claim it's all bad) and I have a hard time believing it held up in the short term any better than it does in the long term. You have a couple of stone-faced detectives slinging emotionless dialogue at rapid fire pace, and invariably over some crime so minor as to scarcely bear a mention in passing.

They are always working out of a different department, making one wonder if that is how little valued they are. You would think that if they were very good they'd be in homicide, but there they are investigating people posing as officers, or busting puppy-snatching rings. Typically the despicable culprit looks every bit as square and establishment-minded as the cops themselves, except when the show is making a point about how wrongheaded hippies are. That's when you see some real cartoon characters.

Friday, October 25, 2013


A little while ago, I carved a jack-o-lantern, along with some friends who each carved their own. It's a hell of a feeling to cut a whole in the top of one and rip out the guts. That's a neat tactile experience, and one which it's difficult to mess up. You pull out the easy stuff, then scrape until it's clean in there. That's the part leading up to the hard decisions, but so long as you're just engaged in this clean-up, it's easy fun.

My original plan was to make a jack-o-lantern whose sole decoration was an obscene written message. I went so far as to figure how easy it would be to render , and I determined that the lone difficult character would be an "O". I discarded the plan anyway, not because it would be difficult, but because I decided to be nice and to live up to the traditional values of the occasion. A consequence of this was a more difficult design, however.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Man, A Dog & A Post

I saw something peculiar on my way out of the grocery store the other day. I had a few bags in my hand and I stopped just outside the door to check something on my phone. Suddenly there was a flurry of activity. A terrible noise pierced the relative silence (which is to say, as silent as it ever gets in a Los Angeles neighborhood). I looked up. A big dog, tied to this big post seemingly meant to dispense circulars for the store, was dragging it behind him as he bolted into the parking lot.

It was a hell of a thing. Moments later, a man came tearing out of the grocery store after the dog. He labored greatly to calm the dog and detach it from the post (which, obviously, was not mounted in any permanent fashion). I wondered at the man's failure to properly look after his dog. It seems like something he ought to have anticipated. This burst of energetic rebellion can hardly be out of the dog's character.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gross & Overly Personal

Not to venture any unprecedented opinions, but it's very unpleasant to throw up. I did so two nights ago after a night of drinking. It caught me a bit by surprise, as I had ceased drinking perhaps a couple hours before I was seized by a fit of terrible nausea as I lay in bed trying to sleep. I first did not want to go to the trouble of trying to ease the feeling, hoping that the feelings would pass. The feelings of nausea did not pass.

My first concession was the readying of a receptacle to throw up in right by the bed in case it became necessary. Admittedly, it was not a very good receptacle. My waste basket was full, and I could not be bothered to empty it. Instead I located a small plastic shopping back which it's highly probable would have failed if put to the test. I probably would have evacuated my stomach onto the carpet, and I would have been ill-equipped (so to speak) to cope with that.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Lament In Place Of A Review

Last night I finally saw the big current film that just must be seen: "Escape Plan". It stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger as two very old men who must escape from a brutal prison. It's a tremendously fun movie in spite of the two coming together with the same timing as two great heavyweights, which is to say years and years after people would really have wanted to see it happen. That's no bother to me.

They're really the only two guys who could possibly carry the movie in the way that it needed. That's the sad reality. Since the 80s, few if any top-of-the-line action hero actors have risen. There are men who would have been like that if they'd only come during the genre's fertile years, but at this point there are only last gasps with men grandfathered in. It's like what they say in the Air Force. The last fighter pilot has already been born.

Monday, October 21, 2013


I lost my Toastmasters speech contest yesterday, and that was unpleasant. I had won the first two rounds of a four round contest in which competitors give "Tall Tale"-style speeches. It felt as if I had something akin to the winning speech from last year's humorous speech contest, and while I won't say I was complacent, I did feel as if I might be fated to have it happen for me again. I did nothing different on that basis, but perhaps expectations were a factor nonetheless.

There is really nothing to do in such a contest but the same thing over and over again. The competition has no ability to impair you, nor you them. It was therefore of no consequence to me who I would be facing before I saw them at the contest yesterday. Once I did, I felt little concern over the threat they posed, not (like I said) that I changed anything consciously. I wouldn't know how to ease up at that point.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

On "Halloween 3"

Here comes another of my dubiously constructed movie reviews. The other night, there was some notion of going to a local place where they occasionally screen movies on sixteen millimeter film. Having been a few times, I can say it's a lot of fun (the one time my ear drums were about destroyed from overly loud sound notwithstanding). This time, there was a lot of hype about it being a special evening on account of a partnership with Fangoria, so my friend and I opted to watch something at my place.

He volunteered the film "Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch". It was the one film in the Halloween series I had not seen that I wanted to (though I have now developed an interest in the other I haven't seen, Halloween: Resurrection). Of course I was delighted by the prospect, and so he and his wife came over that evening. It proved to be an enjoyable evening, if a longer one than I guessed it would be.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Flash From The '80s

Over the last couple days I have been watching some of David Letterman's iteration of "Late Night". Naturally it is not available in its entirety, there being far too many episodes, but there are some bits and pieces that can be found on one video website or another. Individual interviews are there, such as ones with Harvey Pekar and Sandra Bernhardt, and there are some whole episodes out there as well, such as the two I watched yesterday whose guests included Dr. Ruth and Ron Silver.

It's a hell of a thing to think of what Letterman was doing at the time. It's true enough, I suppose, that he was building on what Steve Allen had done before him, but Letterman's brand of talk show (as it was then) feels revolutionary and subversive even today, and perhaps especially today. He was doing things that felt daring not because (or not solely because) they ran the risk of crossing a line, but because it felt crazy to devote real money, time and energy on things so silly or, at times, insubstantial.

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Mistake

I learned something yesterday. I had assumed, not unreasonably I think, that Southern Comfort was a bourbon. It seemed to obviously be a whiskey of some persuasion, since that is where they stock it in the grocery store. Assumptions are not wise though, and I shouldn't have made this one. I bought a bottle of the stuff thinking it was bourbon. By the time I got home, I was starting to wonder why that word didn't appear on the bottle. I would just check online to be sure, I thought. Sure enough, it's just a liqueur made of "neutral spirits".

Of course I resolved to return the misleading bottle of booze, and I did so perhaps a couple hours later. On my way, a man remarked on my "So Co". I surmised after a moment of thought that he must mean the Southern Comfort, of whose nicknames I am as ignorant as I am of its actual composition. He seemed to be pleased that I had it, and I informed him that I was returning it. Given that cover, he admitted he thought very little of it as well.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

On "Messenger Of Death"

I returned to the VHS format after a brief foray into online streaming, and the film that took me back was "Messenger Of Death", one of about forty different movies on the theme of vigilante violence which pair Charles Bronson and director J. Lee Thompson in a Cannon production. In this one, Bronson plays a Denver newspaper reporter who investigates an apparent blood feud between two Mormon families.

Bronson ordinarily plays the regular guy (or the cop) who must take matters into his own hands when the system fails to adequately punish those who have wronged him and his family. Little of that is true here. The film opens with a grisly crime and then settles into a low-octane investigation of the parties involved in the aforementioned feud. Bronson only took a firearm into his hands once by my account, and not to menace a person.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On "Deathstalker"

Last night I watched a movie on a format other than VHS for the first time in a while. I'm not sure why I did that when I have a Blu-Ray lying around from Netflix and a whole lot of tapes likewise languishing, but somehow it felt right a couple nights ago when I couldn't sleep to watch "Deathstalker", which was streaming on Netflix. It's a sword and sorcery film of the time that proliferated in the early to mid 80s in the wake of "Conan The Barbarian".

I had seen one of the later films in the Deathstalker series on the show "Mystery Science Theater 3000". "Deathstalker And The Warriors From Hell" is a predictably terrible, silly movie that richly deserves the ribbing it gets from Mike and the bots. Its predecessor turns out to be far less predictably terrible, although it is blessedly every bit as short as the films which followed it. It is, in short, not a well-made movie, but one which I enjoyed anyway.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Just For Me

Sunday night's Top Story! Weekly (the news-based sketch show hosted by iO West in Hollywood) was a bit of an odd one for me. It was something like the tenth show out of 11 which featured one or more of my submitted jokes, but for a time I thought they had not taken any of mine. By the time I had come to terms with that, I found I was wrong. That was a pleasant enough way to wake up on Sunday morning.

The show was also novel for being only the second time I had a friend along expressly at my invitation. I think I will try to avoid that, because I feel added stress over the idea that my jokes and the show must live up not only to my hopes, but to the expectations of someone else. That's just too much for me to take. My part of the show is maybe thirty seconds long, which isn't much for someone who's there to see your thing.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Expiration Date

I'm just not ever going to be like other people, and they're not ever going to be like me. They and I are just going to live out our respective lives annoyed by each other. A fair example of why came today while I was trying to write a joke. When I'm in a foul mood, I keep writing jokes that are just angry or sad expressions of opinion. I'll read what I wrote and realize that it's just me being pissed off, but it's written in a joke format. I have to throw out a lot of those.

I was trying to write a joke about people who still make jokes about the missing kids on milk cartons. It's an interesting story. Before the '80s, there were no real coordinated programs to find missing kids. A couple of really notable cases galvanized the movement to change that, and the National Child Safety Council was behind the effort to publicize individual cases of missing children and the general issue of them by putting their pictures on milk cartons.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shows Of Youth

When I was young, one of the things that was very popular was ABC's Friday night "TGIF" lineup. These days, I don't think any network bothers to program Friday night with anything original. Even then I imagine that Friday night was for kids specifically for the reason that it was fertile ground for anything more. Anyway, I occasionally watched those shows, but I was not disciplined enough to watch anything regularly.

A friend had a party whose central purpose was to watch a the TGIF shows from a particular week October, 1993. I would have been ten years old, and the odds are sharply against my having been watching then. If I was, I don't remember seeing these shows. I frankly did not find that they held up, but then I don't know that I really enjoyed them in the first place. I guess I liked them better then, if only because I couldn't see how dumb they were.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Movie & Music

I recently bought "Highlander" on VHS. This gives me each of the first three films in the series on that format. I bought them in spite of feeling rather let down by the first film (which is still the only one of them that I have watched) when I first watched it years ago. I think that the film's reputation led me to enter with high expectations, and it was unable to live up to them. I watched the tape recently, and I decided that I really liked it. Each viewing (and there have been several) has led me to raise my opinion of it.

The film, of course, tells the story of immortals enduring through history as they battle each other to live out some foretold chain of events and win some new level of enlightenment. It's cheap and cheesy with some oddball decisions and weak acting. It's also got great music from Queen, some really fun stuff and a certain charm. In the end I love it, as much for its weaknesses as its strengths. I wouldn't have found that out if I hadn't liked it enough for repeated viewings.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Film Attitude

If you've read the brief reviews of movies that I've sometimes posted here, then you've noticed that many of the movies I go for are rather off the beaten track. Many people- maybe most people- would call them terrible. Seeing many of the movies I have on VHS, one friend inquired when there would be a "shitty movie night". I advised him that there would be no such night, since all of my movies rule. That's my attitude.

It's a weird thing to me when someone says they're into watching terrible movies, or that they watch any sort of movies ironically. It sounds like a real waste of time, watching movies that you think are bad. Every movie I watch is chosen because I expect to like it. At the very least, I make a good faith effort to like them all, and that's often enough how it comes out. I can see a movie's shortcomings as well as anyone, but I don't have a hostile attitude.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

On "DC Cab"

Yesterday I watched "DC Cab". It was one of the VHS tapes I have lying around. One reason I watched it was that I really wanted to finally see the movie that has been the subject of so many bad movie jokes, a second reason was simply to keep working down that backlog, and a third reason was that I have promised myself anew not to eat the popcorn I buy unless it is while watching a movie. I'm trying to make both the movie-watching experience and the popcorn-eating experience special, but my resolve keeps wavering.

So it was that, being very hungry and having little in the house but popcorn, I popped the movie in. I didn't know much except that it was a movie about cab drivers and that Mr. T was in it. Watching it did not offer much illumination as to what it was about. Given that it was directed and co-written by Joel Schumacher, I figured that it would at least be coherent if not definitely a solid film. I was quite surprised.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

See Your Heroes

There are only so many things I see or hear about where I just have to make sure I do them. When I was a boy, there was a backpack designed to emulate a school locker, and upon a single viewing of the commercial, I went and found my mother, asking her for the backpack. I got the backpack all right. Things like that only come along so often, and a good example is an improv show that I attended last night.

I think it was Saturday night that, after a long, full day which left me exhausted, I read a tweet promoting a show at iO West called "Horribly Funny". The tweet advised the presence of special Heather Langenkamp, and that sure got my attention. You see, I'm a fan of horror movies. I have found that in Los Angeles there are many people more knowledgeable and more single-minded in their enthusiasm for the genre, but I really like horror movies too, and so I'm a big fan of Heather Langenkamp, who starred in several of the "Nightmare On Elm Street" films.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


It has become a Sunday evening ritual to troop off to the iO West theater in Hollywood to see what joke of mine has made it into the show (and, indeed, the joke made it in and stayed in). It's a time of nearly as much anxiety as the preceding day when I await word that I have gotten a joke into the show in the first place. I have gotten more relaxed all around about these things, but there's still some tension there.

Yesterday's showtime found me in something of a funk. I regained good humor for at least the duration of the show, seeing a few friends and meeting one of my fellow contributors of these two line jokes that I have been doing. The drink I had may also have been a contributing factor to my fleeting good feelings. Before I'd gotten very awkward in my social interaction (on account of my introverted nature, not the drinking), the show began.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dictated But Not Read

There is a tray in the lobby of my apartment building that is sporadically stocked with complimentary fruit. It's usually something like oranges, or, more likely, apples. Upon noticing as I was heading out the other night that there were some apples on the tray, I paused. I wasn't exactly hungry, and to the extent that I was, apples were not what would sate me. I grabbed one apple and then considered that I was about to be with some four or some people, each of whom could theoretically want an apple.

I started to grab four apples, but stopped myself out of concern that I was abusing the privilege so kindly (if inconsistently) extended to us by the building management (who, incidentally, can well manage to absorb the loss on account of their ever increasing rent). I put back all of the apples but one, which I offered to the friend who was waiting outside to pick me up. She declined the offer, leaving me rather at a loss.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Win

As I think I must have said before, it's contest season for Toastmasters, my public speaking organization. For me that means two things. There is the inevitable string of requests that I run the raffle for various contest, and I've done that a time or two so far. I also, of course, enter the contests myself, sometimes going far and sometimes not. Yesterday was the second round for me as a contestant, following the opening club round.

It was weeks ago that I won the first round. The time in between was even longer because the second round was delayed, and so I was concerned that I would struggle to recall my speech at all. This speech is in the "Tall Tales" contest, so it's akin to a Paul Bunyan or John Henry-type story of fanciful exaggerations. Mine concerns the origin of laughter, incorporating both ghosts and the Marx Brothers. I do not find that distinguishing myself from others is my problem.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Facing Up To It

I was thinking about the manner in which I have grieved in my life. Specifically, I was thinking about my reaction to deceased pets. A friend had her dog die on her, and I must confess that I was somewhat put off by her reaction. I admit that's really not right, and that it makes me look pretty callous. A person has a right to get upset however they want when they experience a loss, even if it isn't the loss of a person. Maybe she would say the dog is a person. I don't think like that.

I always remember how George Carlin said once that a person buying a dog is buying a tragedy. It makes sense when you think about it. You could buy a puppy that lives fifteen years or you could see it run down in the road the next day, but the outcome is the same. The dog dies and you get your heart broken. I don't mean to counsel that people shouldn't invest themselves emotionally in anything, but they ought to be aware from the start of what's coming. To paraphrase Kris Kristofferson, "The going up is worth coming down."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Passing Through, But Of Course You Knew

Something I've mused about in the past is what it feels like under different sets of circumstances to travel by foot. I've written about walking through well-to-do neighborhoods where I feel as if I might be picked up by police on the grounds that my presence is suspicious. Yesterday I found myself in that scenario again. In fact, I walked through an awfully nice neighborhood twice, to and from my Toastmasters meeting.

It's a novel thing to travel slowly along a nice residential street. It's very quiet and inactive, and yet being there for a while gives you the opportunity to see what actually is happening. You see the one or two residents walking dogs or jogging, and you see the armies of service workers who make the neighborhood go. You see some of the nice cars that people who live there drive, but mostly you see pickup trucks and delivery vans.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bad Times

As I write this, the shutdown of the US government has entered its second day. By the time you read this, it will probably be in its third day, but I sincerely hope it is somehow over by then. It's obviously a very bad thing, but it is not at all a simple thing (evidenced by the fact that this "shutdown" leaves many of the tangible signs that we have a federal government intact. We are still getting mail and being protected by a standing army, but we do not get to see the pandas at the national zoo, for example).

It seems that the shutdown itself, while not great, is also not itself the absolutely worst thing. We've gotten through shutdowns before. Who on Earth remembers the hardships of the last one, waged between Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich? I remember it happening, but I would be hard-pressed to name one thing about it that that made life worse during that time. So far little of what I've read about sounds bad unless you happen to work for the federal government.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Back On Top

Something I've always enjoyed is reading comic strips. I think I've mentioned that. It used to be that I could only see what was in the Arizona Republic, which wasn't that many. We had most of the typical funny strips, and maybe four of the serious ones (which were at the bottom of the two adjacent pages and which I then skipped). Today I can more or less read whichever I like. I don't read them all, but I read a fair number.

It gets to be that I cannot handle the burden of reading them. Sometimes it's for a day or two, and sometimes it's for longer. Recently, which things like the big sketch-writing month, auditions and illness occupied a good amount of my time, I was kept from reading my comic strips for much of the last two months. One or twice I made small efforts to get caught up again, but I found that the backlog was most persistent.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Minor Achievement

I was very pleased with myself on Saturday for succeeding in my effort to write thirty comedy sketches in thirty days. You see, there's this thing called "National Sketch Writing Month", and while I despise fake holidays and the like, I try very hard not to see this as one one those solely because of the appellation. It's just an exercise wherein you try to do what I said: write thirty sketches in the month of September.

It's challenging for a few reasons. It's not easy, of course, to think up thirty ideas that you will be able to bring to fruition. In truth, I was forced more than once to proceed with an idea I didn't entirely love due to the pressure I felt from where I stood in relation to the quota. This is actually a good thing, because you get to see what happens when you override your instincts. Sometimes you're very pleasantly surprised, and it's a way to grow as a writer.

Monday, September 30, 2013

For The Children

In my ongoing effort to watch the VHS tapes I've bought over the last year or so, I watched the childrens' film "Dragonworld". It is from the same people who made "Prehysteria", a film which I managed to watch without writing a little review. In any event, Dragonworld held my interest tolerably well, although I found enough fault in in by the end. I will try very hard to be fair in my assessment of it.

A little boy from America is forced to live at his grandfather's castle in Scotland after the accidental death of his parents. The grandfather faces a steep tax bill which he is unable to pay.  A sleazy TV show guy stumbles upon the castle and the dragon, connecting the boy with an evil businessman. The boy, the TV show guy, the TV show guy's daughter and their chopper pilot realize the error of their ways and strive to defeat the evil businessman.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Near Unwatchable

The other night, I finally got to watching one of the more intimidating VHS tapes I've bought so far. It's called "Black Force" (and also is known as "Force Four"). Writing this just moments after the conclusion of the film, I'm sure of few things outside of the fact that the man and woman brandishing guns on the box are not in the film and in fact must have posed for the pictures on it years later. That's not the film's biggest problem.

The film's plot is not incredibly difficult to unravel. It begins with a man being attacked and robbed of a little African fetish doll. It's hideous-looking, but everyone wants it. A team of four investigative martial artists are hired to locate it and subsequently recover it from a gangster called "Z". They do some quick detective work on the streets (which is to say that we hear them asking questions while watching b-roll footage of the streets), and then recover the fetish, the money that was meant to be traded for the fetish, and some heroin no one mentions until the end.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


As I write this, I am a bit ill. I doubt whether it's anything serious, but it's been enough to slow me down over the last couple of days. A person could reasonably argue that my personality would benefit from the sort of ailment that would have me talking a good bit less, and such has been the case. Sickness is unquestionably one method of curing the more serious problem of over-exposure, which is one I'm sometimes prone to.

My means of treating a mild illness are crude and perhaps not overly effective. It does occur to me to obtain some kind of cold medicine, although I don't always follow through on that. I do usually go as far as buying and consuming chicken noodle soup, even buying the top-shelf brands if I suspect that what ails me is as serious as that. After all, there's nothing more important than your health, and if it's really at risk, three dollars is a fair price to spend, even if slightly more is not.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Another Unsolicited Review

I've been back on track watching my backlogged VHS tapes lately, and I can't help my share my opinions of each one as they come. I think that's not entirely unreasonable considering that the majority of them are obscure enough to not have been granted critical consideration even on the inclusive internet. I try to alternate the ones I'm really excited about with the ones I rather regret buying, not that either of those has a consistently better track record.

"PK And The Kid" is one of the ones I was not looking forward to. I bought it maybe because I was eager to buy something and there was nothing better. It had an interesting title and a peculiar case. Months later, I finally got to it, and I'll say at least that it held my attention. PK is a runaway teen portrayed by Molly Ringwald, who really had something there in the 80s. "The Kid" is Kid Kane, who I think is a trucker turned arm-wrestler. He is at his best when he is quiet, which I don't mean as a knock on his acting. Ringwald does a fair job herself, and could have used more dialogue.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy Surprise

A couple nights ago, when the time had come to sleep, I petulantly declined to do so. Instead, I carried on with the course of action I had planned in the event that I finished my writing goals at an early enough hour. That is to say that if I had finished writing by 11pm, I was going to watch one of my VHS tapes. I had a hell of a time finishing the comedy sketch I needed to write in order to keep pace for thirty sketches in September, and only ended up getting it done by 1am.

I decided to throw caution to the wind and watch a movie anyway. With a glass of bourbon and ice, I set to the task of watching the 1990 scifi film "Abraxas". Former pro wrestling star, Minnesota governor and actor Jesse "The Body" Ventura can claim few starring roles in his film career, but Abraxas is one of them. It follows a somewhat similar plot to films like "The Terminator", "Blade Runner" and "Trancers".

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The New Batch

My latest haul of VHS tapes has some promise. I am beginning to spend a bit more on them than I used to, as I've gotten more interested in acquiring more interesting titles as opposed to readily available ones (which are cheap and unremarkable, by and large). This set of tapes amounts to five at the cost of nearly eleven dollars. In the past eleven dollars might have yielded me eleven tapes, but it's still a fair price for movies that are mostly unproven entities.

One of the tapes, "Death Wish 4: The Crackdown", I have seen. It's one of the lesser entries in the series, but it basically delivers. Another Charles Bronson film, "Messenger Of Death", I hope lives up to that minimal standard. I'm fairly confident. Those Cannon films were all about the same, and I have a few of their Bronson films already. "Kinjite" was not so bad, and "Assassination was not great, but I gave it a pass anyway.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

No, Thanks

On Sunday the Emmys were held, and if I know anything about it I have my aggressively live-tweeting friends to be thankful for. If they were content to live in the moment, I'm sure I'd be ignorant of the whole thing now. Certainly I was content to be ignorant of it. There aren't very many shows that I have made any effort to watch with regularity. This has really always been the case, with the exception of the stretch of time during which I had cable and a DVR.

Not only did people issue a real-time comment on every single thing that drew their attention (instead of, I assume, speaking to the friends at least some of them must have been watching the broadcast with), they did so almost invariably with a negative slant. I find it rather puzzling that someone would dislike a show so much and, instead of turning it off, just growing angrier and angrier. I guess I don't get people.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Couple Reviews

I hadn't watched any of my VHS tapes in a little while (and truth be told, I have neglected movies entirely outside of criticizing horror movies), so I resolved to watch a couple recently with the intention of getting caught up on my backlog of tapes. There are some twenty or thirty of them waiting on me, and of course during the same time I was watching the two I'm about to describe, I also bought five more.

The first was "Speed Zone". Made in the late 80's it was meant originally to be a third Cannon Ball Run film, and indeed the race in the film retains that name, but only Jamie Farr's very sensitive Arab character returns (and briefly at that). Really I have no complaints on this one. It was lots of fun to watch, and they even did a passable job of granting enough oxygen for every character's game to breath. It's a bit dated in some respects, but it was a blast to watch some of the best comic actors do their thing.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Half-Baked Hand-Wringing

I find myself once again brooding over the nature of the jokes people make online. They say in comedy that you should always punch up, which is another way of saying that you should only make jokes at the expense of people who can take it because they're bigger than you. You're not supposed to make jokes at people who are smaller than you. That's mean, and I hate mean jokes. I've made more than I'm proud of, but I know they're wrong.

I guess people can disagree about what makes someone adequately bigger than you. It's mainly all right to make fun of the president, because the buck stops there, as Truman said. It's not all right to make fun of poor little orphans forced out of their home by a fire. Is there an unclear middle ground? I suppose there is, and if those are judgement calls, then it makes me question the judgment of most people who write jokes online, professionally or otherwise.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

And Now The Rest

I realized yesterday that I have written four separate posts about "Friday the 13th Part Four" in the last week, all of them sharply critical of one point or another. I confess that's both more thought than most people would put into the film and more negative than most people who are not "Moral Majority" types would ever give. Believe it or not, I'm a big fan of the Friday the 13th films, even including part four, which is superior to some subsequent entries.

What do I like about the film? It's got some passable performances. I like the elder sister. The male hitch hiker is able enough. I even like both Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman, who are both bad for the film but only because of their characters and not their performances. Given a different story, I might have lauded the presence of both. One or two other characters were pretty memorable as well, and it's too bad there wasn't more room in the film for them.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Quick Break

Yesterday was an interesting day for me. I seem to have hardly anything else anymore. On this day, it was a bit up and down. I started off with a typically enjoyable Toastmasters meeting. It dipped a bit after that, as I was caught up in the frustration of struggling to get my writing done. I was in a genuinely foul and frazzled mood by the early evening, at which time I was planning to attend a variety show at a local nightclub. I reasoned that afterward I'd be tired, but perhaps in a better mood for writing anyway.

A friend and I headed over there, meeting up with a third friend before settling in for the show. They have live music, pole dancing, burlesque, and comedy, all of which I enjoy a great deal. The show was great, but it turned out to have more in store for me than I guessed. I did know that if I dressed well, there was a chance of getting extra attention. As it turned out, I was drafted into the best-dressed contest, ultimately triumphing in a dance-off. That got me a $50 dollar gift certificate to someplace that sounds subversive.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Little Engine That Probably Couldn't Have In Real Life

I'm still dealing with "Friday the 13th Part Four". I mentioned how the character of Tommy Jarvis is a problem. Today I'll try to explain why. Tommy Jarvis is actually a major running character in the franchise, first appearing in Part Four and then returning in Part Five and Part Six (each time to be played by a new actor). In this first film, he's played by the precocious Corey Feldman, whose acting ability and personal life I have no reason to fault here.

Little Tommy Jarvis is the youngest child of a single mother, He has an older sister, and they all live in an extremely remote lakeside cabin. Tommy is innately talented and knowledgeable about virtually everything that comes up during the film. He is evidently as good as Hollywood specialists at rendering things like photo-realistic masks and puppets (this of course comes up at a critical time), and he is also seemingly an extremely competent auto mechanic.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

More Friday

I guess I can't stop with Friday the 13th Part Four. I issued a massive critique of the script's curiously expansive cast of characters, and a smaller one on the way in which they half-ass the perverted coroner who is about the first to die. There are a lot of things wrong with the film of course, and there's another little thing that doesn't make much sense at all. It's not the absurdly gifted at everything character of Tommy Jarvis, though I could (and maybe will) write half a dozen posts complaining about that.

Another early moment in the film sees the party contingent heading to the lake for skinny-dipping. They are walking down the road on foot, probably because if they had driven their car over it would have prevented the encounter they have with two beautiful twin women on bicycles (and doesn't a thing like that happen all the time? One can't help but wonder if they managed to squeeze a Doublemint Gum commercial shoot in in addition to their minor responsibilities to the film).