Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dynamite Sandwich

I have really come up with something, and as is so often the case, it happen without trying. I have been eating sandwiches again for lunch, as I had finally gotten tired of potatoes spoiling before I could eat them all. You'll recall that dramatic crisis, I'm sure. In any case, I had bought bread, some sliced turkey and chicken, lettuce and peppers. I was liking those sandwiches pretty well, and finally using the nice mustard I'd had sitting around.

I went and ran out of the bread, and I haven't managed to get to the store lately. I've been busy much of the time, and I've been lazy when I haven't been busy. Having run out of bread, I would ordinarily start eating the components for my sandwiches piecemeal, which is a terrible thing to do. My father would be critical of me for failing to add value to the various foods by combining them, and I have taken that to heart.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Breaking Off

I'm a fairly intelligent guy. I'm smart enough anyway to know that I don't know it all. I'm also smart enough to know that whether I'm sure I'm right about something or I only think I'm right, it's senseless to pursue the point. This comes up all too often online. I'll read something that a friend has written, and I'll see in it something that seems factually incorrect, or their conclusions seem incorrect. My natural impulse is to set them straight.

I do examine my motives. Is it my desire that someone simply knows and operates based on the correct facts, or am I somewhat less altruistic than that? Knowing how deeply imperfect I am, it is all too likely to be a very selfish motive, but that's not the point really. The point is that whatever drives me to engage in a line of conversation over what the truth of something is, I know if and when to end it. I'm thankful for that much.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Charity Case

It's no secret that I don't drive. I take public transportation and I ride my bicycle. I get rides from friends when it is convenient to them and necessary to me, but I do try to avoid leaning on them too much. I fear terribly the prospect of being seen as the moocher of rides, the indigent malcontent (if that's quite the word I'm looking for). Sometimes I find that very easy, as many people take no notice of someone who's not getting into their own car to leave a place.

Sometimes people notice too well. This is, I guess, a good problem. Some friends of mine are well aware of how I get around, and it seems to worry them terribly. They look on my mode of transportation as I would look on someone who travels exclusively by hitchhiking. That would horrify me, and I would start busting my ass trying find that person any other way to get where they're going. Some people act that way with me.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Struggle To Like

I can be a rather unpleasant person, I'm sure. I have good moments and bad moments, like anyone. Sometimes I wonder which outnumber which. I often am clearheaded enough to see what a foul mood I'm in. I get very irritable, short-tempered and judgmental. At such times, I find it very difficult to write anything funny. It all comes out angry, and I have to keep trying until I can come up with something that reads like a joke.

During these times, I find that I don't like anything, or anyone. Somehow, every tweet that I read is unfunny or obtuse. Every news article is frivolous or poorly reported. I find myself saying, again and again, "What are you talking about" in a very exasperated tone. Even in more pleasant moods, I find it a difficult task to like anything. I know I can't be so superior that nothing meets my exacting standards, although something less than that could be true.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Man Left Behind

I had a terribly unhappy experience the other day. It may have been a week or more ago at this point. I was on my way to someplace I can't recall now. It may have been improv class. In any case, I know I was at the subway station at Hollywood and Western in Hollywood, and i was heading east on a connecting bus. I was mentally preoccupied, or I assume I was. I ordinarily don't make such mistakes as I did on this occasion.

I habitually bring a book when I expect to have time for reading, and a bottle of water to places where I suspect I need it. Keeping possession of them is not typically a problem. This time, it was. I came up out of the subway station, perused the farmer's market there, and set my bottle down on a newspaper vendor rather harshly. I thought at the time that someone could have noticed that, especially as things worked out.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bike Ride Day

Like I said yesterday, there was a big bike ride recently. It was Sunday, actually. Somehow I have managed to miss the big rides where they close down the streets and hordes of riders take over. I have been busy, not had a bike or felt too beat-up to handle the miles. Maybe it's not a string of coincidences. Maybe I have never really wanted to do it. I have a way of avoiding things when they are too popular for my liking.

In any event, it was this ride where everyone was going from downtown all the way out to the beach. That amounts to twenty miles. I think I have this right. Some friends did it, and I got their pictures. I heard their stories too. I do feel a bit sorry that I didn't get to participate, but I did get to indirectly experience the thing. You don't just ride your bike. You transport it across some distance via the trains, and I have done that.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Coming Of Summer

It is late April, which is a time of year that I grew up associating with spring. The seasons were then of largely academic concern, growing up as I did in Phoenix. March, April and May were all spring months, with the subsequent three falling in summer, the three after that autumn and the three after that winter. Spending time in Chicago taught me that spring could take longer to come, and being in California taught me that it could come and go faster.

I feel now that summer is fast approaching. It was a while ago already that I smelled a barbecue cooking for the first time in a while. Plenty of cooking happens outdoors around here, but there is a special quality to the smell of true summer barbecuing, or maybe there is something extra-sensory to it. Anyway, that smell was the first sign to me of summer coming, and it was welcome enough, although there is always a bittersweet feeling at best to passing time now.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Steaks

A little while back, I received a gift from my dear mother in the form of some steaks. They were a mixed assortment, some being beef, some pork and some chicken. I was delighted to get them, of course. They came in two parcels, the first arriving in my absence. I was somewhat startled to see the large styrofoam cooler in the refrigerator, and extracted the steaks in order to move them to the freezer. The second box came later, and while I haven't eaten the steaks, I have made use of the boxes.

I have had, you'll recall, some difficulty with any food that entails a lot of preparation. Currently the most sophisticated thing I'm eating is sandwiches, followed by spaghetti. Those are not complicated. To me, a steak is a rather involved process. To make it delicious and safe, you have to cook it for so long, and neither longer nor shorter. Figuring that is just a little more brain power than I would like to use, honestly.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Call Me Isaac

It's sort of funny what you find yourself doing in the interest of helping friends. A good friend is soon to leave the country for a while, and so there was a farewell party in her honor recently. I was drafted to play bartender for the evening. I expressed some concern that I didn't know how to make many (or any) drinks, but was told that it would only be asked of me to pour wine and soft drinks. I was somewhat mollified, although even opening wine bottles is a little outside my range.

I began the evening a little shaky. The weekend to that point had worn me down, and I confess to having been rather tired and frazzled. I would just as soon have been a mere guest of no responsibility, free to eat, drink and chatter or not. It was not in the cards, and I think I must blame my way of saying yes to such requests. It has become known that I will do so, although whether I have developed a reputation of doing things well is less certain.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Yesterday (Why I'm Slow Today)

As social as I've gotten, which is to say that I've gotten to where I can be fairly social for good stretches, I remain an introspective, socially awkward person who needs a lot of time alone. I remain a homebody, albeit one who can override his natural tendencies sometimes out of an appreciation that normal people leave home and do things. I am more glad than other people when even pleasurable events are over and I can return to the controllable quiet of my home.

Yesterday I found that I was out of the house and occupied all day. I did return home twice for around twenty minutes altogether, but was otherwise out doing things. For me that is somewhat unusual. To briefly recap, I began my day at 7am, and attended most of a Toastmasters contest involving some friends. I had to leave with probably an hour plus remaining in order to make my improv practice. That was just the beginning.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Blight On My House

I have been struggling with a food issue lately. I have been eating a fair amount of baked potatoes lately. I think it makes a nice lunch, and so I buy ten pound sacks of potatoes, eating one or two a day. One might debate the nutritional impact of that, but I like them and they are better than some things I've eaten. The problem I have is not with them, but with making sure they keep until I eat them all. It's not like I take breaks from them, but they spoil faster than I can eat them.

You might suggest that I buy a smaller quantity of potatoes, but one saves only a dollar by buying a sack of potatoes half as big. I find that unfair, and I won't be victimized by it. I insist on the larger, more cost-effective amount. Unfortunately, as I get into the second half of it, they start to sprout the roots. It's a relatively novel experience. I have spent time in Florida and seen potatoes do that, but most of my life has been spent in Arizona, where the dry climate generally precludes that activity.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Host For A Day

I've been doing improv for a while, and I've had a tolerable range of experiences within that. I've done a lot of formats and performed with a good number of people. Something I hadn't done was host a show. It was something I wanted to do, having done hosting-type stuff like that in Toastmasters for some time. I always thought it would be fun to host an improv show and that I could do some neat things, or at least do the same things in my own way.

I have hosted a burlesque show, but that calls for slightly different stuff from the host. I don't know that it went especially well. Certainly I wasn't asked to do it a second time. Anyway, I thought I could do an improv show well, and it finally came up recently. I jumped at the opportunity, although I already felt my hands were full with the musical improv performance I was to participate in during the same show. I just figured I'd deal with it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

High Expectations

It is interesting and infuriating to watch every tempest in a teapot come and go. For many people, there must be a lot of of minor controversies to mark the time in between the major ones. I would just as soon forget about the interstitial ones, but it just doesn't seem to be in the cards. Since everyone else must have them, I'm not able to escape them myself, so I'm always trying to find something in them to be stimulated by.

At the heart of the current scandal is Justin Bieber. I don't think I've heard any of his songs all the way through myself, but I'm sure I don't have to explain him. If you are unfamiliar, suffice it to say that he's a young pop singer of considerable popularity. Here is what happened. Bieber visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, professing to be very moved by it. He also speculated that Frank herself would have been one of his fans. To my knowledge that's the extent of it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Being rejected is unpleasant, whatever form it takes. The anticipation of it is sometimes worse than it is itself, but often the reality is as bad as feared. I find that can be the case in an arena where thinking about things in these terms is perhaps rare: Twitter. I accumulate Twitter followers at a modest rate, and have not terribly many for someone as active as I am. For that reason maybe, the loss of followers can be affecting.

It's not bad if I am unfollowed by someone who was only following me in the hopes that I would follow them. If I didn't like their stuff enough to follow them, it is fine when they get the message and stop following me. If I felt that way about them and they unfollowed me because I tweeted too much or wrote something objectionable, that's fine too. The sheer number of followers doesn't matter as much to me as whether they signify anything meaningful.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Burlesque Night In America

I have mentioned the new improv team that I have joined, and I think I might have said something about some of the aspects of being on this team that are new to me, one of which is the regular scheduling of outings meant to foster esprit-de-corps. The first outing was salsa dancing, and I was content to participate only to fulfill my obligation to the team. I would not have gone otherwise, I assure you.

Happily, the next month's outing was to be planned by me. I gave it some thought and reasoned that I would bring something to the table that no one else would have. After all, that's why I'm on the team. I do things in shows that only I would do. What I settled on was a burlesque show. I've been to a few, enjoying them all tremendously. There is the obvious sex appeal in them, but there is music, dance, costume, character and story in them. I felt the team would enjoy it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Still Kicking

They were heady days when Google was preparing to launch their answer to Facebook, which had done much to create discontent but which had faced little real competition. It seemed that Google Plus must be a success, or at least a vigorous challenger capable of making Facebook grow to remain dominant. Of course, while Google Plus is still there, it seems to have already passed the point of real viability.

When they were making people sign up for a waiting list or else get an invitation from someone who had already gotten a Google Plus account, it was about the hottest ticket in town. Everyone seemed desperate to get on board, and then came the time when it was opened up to all, and many people did sign up for accounts. Somehow it developed that people came but didn't stay to do anything. This is how it looked to me.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"One, Two, Freddie's Coming For You..."

I have at least one more thing to say about that pole competition, or at least about something tangentially related. I want to stress that I appreciate how some people - most people - have real jobs that start in the morning and chew up their energy at a rapid rate so that evenings out are a dicey proposition five nights a week if not more. I respect their way of life and don't want to ridicule them for something they probably don't like and can't change.

Still, it can be funny. A friend who attended the show was, I gather, in the grips of a similar situation. Really, she was a trooper. Though terribly tired, she was good enough to come out for a good time. That was a sacrifice, entertaining as the evening was. She got through it, this hard-working friend, but not without her fatigue constantly being betrayed by yawns. It got to be rather comical, and I'm sorry to say that I could not help myself from making fun.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cold In Cold

Yesterday I mentioned a pole competition that I attended recently. Thought it was, as I said, in a bad neighborhood, the area was not without options for food. There was one anyway, if temporarily. One of LA's ubiquitous food tracks was on hand outside, selling ice cream. One might question the choice of ice cream on what was a brisk night, but it was by then too late, and it is certainly too late to quibble now.

The specialty of the truck was ice cream sandwiches. It was awfully high quality (and rather exotic) flavors of ice cream in between equally high quality and exotic cookies. As I had decided to wear a suit and tie to the thing, I reasoned that an ice cream sandwich was a real gamble, and somehow it seemed like a bad thing to get a cookie on the side. It meant paying more and seemingly getting just one cookie and not two.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Calculated Risk

It can be hard to know sometimes whether one should take the cheap option or the more expensive one. I found recently that the pasta sauce I liked had become more expensive, and so I went with one a bit cheaper, only to find that I couldn't stomach the drop in quality. I will just have to suck it up and pay on that front, but there are other areas where it works out better to take a chance on cutting corners.

A good example is a pole dancing competition I went to recently. I was eager to go, but not so eager to spend the money on a good seat. The options seemed to be standing room, the seats right in front of that, tables and booths. It developed that my friends had those seats, which were the next step up from standing room. The tables and booths were seemingly the highest in price. I decided to take a chance on standing room.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I have lately been expanding my horizons a bit. For some time, I was just doing improv with my team in Monkey Butler. For that matter, it was the only comedy I was doing at all outside of personal writing endeavors. It could be said that I was getting into a rut and suffering for lack of numerous, varied opportunities to learn and perform. What I was doing wasn't bad, but it also probably wasn't enough. I have lately remedied that.

It began with a class being taught by a friend. I took the class, and found myself challenged by a different way of doing things, as well as by the new people with whom I was doing them. We bonded and grew together over the next weeks and had ourselves a nice graduation show. I thought then that it would end there, although I expected friendships to endure. It was not to be as I expected, I'm happy to say.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Universe Provides A Weirdo

The other day, I found myself hoping to think of one more idea that I could develop into a post for this blog, but rather at a loss. It helps sometimes to remove myself from the work area, thus taking the pressure off. Walking away has the further benefit of potentially putting me in physical contact with some stimuli that does spark an idea. I used to take walks in search of material regularly, but that is infrequent now. Perhaps I should renew the practice.

On this particular occasion it worked, although I'm not certain of how glad I am. I went down the the lobby of my building to check the mail. There was nothing for me, as is typical. I looked outside, and resolved to take advantage of the opportunity to go outside during daylight hours (as I didn't have a good reason to otherwise that day). I stepped outside and basked in the sunlight. I then decided to walk around a bit. Here was my mistake, or maybe not.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Yesterday I spoke of seeing a live comedy show. At the theater where the show was held, one spends a lot of time waiting in line before getting in to whichever show. Much of the enjoyment of going, in fact, is derived from chatting with old friends and making new ones in the interminable period of being in that line. It starts in front of the theater, and snakes down the block. You can figure what your prospects of getting in on a standby ticket are by what business the line stretches to.

Every so often, someone will come around and check names, issue hand stamps, or just tell you to clear the sidewalk. The theater, in the interest of being a good neighbor, tries to ensure that their line does not inconvenience passersby or people seeing to patronize one of the aforementioned businesses. It reminds me of a thing in football. Each football team has a whole array of coaches, most of whom have many duties during the game as well as between games, except for one.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Could It Be So?

You have to go out there into the world, or else you deny yourself so much. It's easy to stay home and do things like read, watch TV or in some other manner live vicariously or theoretically. There's no substitute for living firsthand outside of one's home. I get many ideas that way, and today's is one of them. It's less an idea than something that happened to me, which is what many ideas truly are. It never would have happened if I'd stayed home.

It's not a big thing. I went out with friends to a live sketch comedy show, which was fun. I have more to say on the matter, but let us give each facet of the experience its due. Before the show, we met at a decent bar a few doors down from the theater. It was obscenely crowded, to the extent that one wonders if it was legal. Still, we were able to obtain drinks quickly enough. We were not able to find elbow room at any time.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Something New, Maybe

I have lately got into the latest social networking fad of "Vine". At the speed these things progress, it likely has no more than a few months before growing passe and dying out, but for now it's quite fashionable. It is to videos what Twitter is to the written word. Rather than being confined to 144 characters of text, one is restricted to seven seconds of video which evidently can be shot and edited only in sequence. It's rather elegant in its simplicity.

I hadn't gotten into it, nor had I really intended to, until I met a woman on the train from San Diego who was really into it. A man will do funny things over a woman, but there's no need to get into that truism. The point is that I got into these "Vine" videos. I feel I am well-suited to making the occasional one, although I am a little lazy to put much production value into them. So far I have made a handful, one or two of which proved very good in my eyes.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Reconstruction Now

Recent weeks have seen some bewildering activity in my apartment. One of my roommates has been making a short film, and he used our living room as a shooting location. As the film is a rather fantastical one and he is an exceptionally gifted set designer (among other things), it was not merely a matter of setting up some cameras and lights. Instead, he built the interior of an old German village cabin there.

It was astonishing to look at once finished, and quite interesting to track its progress leading up to that, but its impact on our daily lives could not help but color our perceptions of it, or mine anyway. Very quickly, that area of the apartment became a defacto no-go zone, unfit for watching television, eating in or sitting. It was necessary to shift those activities elsewhere, and for me that was mainly into my bedroom, wrecking the good habit I'd established of not eating in my bedroom.

Friday, April 5, 2013

An Unsolicited Review

I recently made another trip to one of the local thrift stores, hoping to find a decent VCR (so that I can have one in the living room and my bedroom as well). I left empty-handed in that regard, but scored in the area of good-looking movies on VHS. The store was clearing out a bunch of them, and so I got three good ones for a dollar in addition to a fourth for another dollar. How three of them are remains to be seen, but I have watched one already.

Entitled "Death Before Dishonor", it comes from that period in the mid-80s when America was terribly aggrieved by the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, and had few outlets for anti-Arab feelings except for the Iron Sheik of pro wrestling fame. To give a brief synopsis, a Marine sergeant is transferred to the security detail of an embassy in an Arab nation called Jemal. His commanding officer is kidnapped, the embassy is bombed and he must face off against the villainous "Abu Jihad".

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Winner

On Sunday night, I went over to the home of a friend for a nice Easter dinner. He has a peculiar mix of traditional, well-fashioned food and fraternity-level drinking hi-jinks. It's a good fit for me. I wasn't going to bring anything, which is bad, but learned at the last minute that another friend going to the dinner was making tortellini. Dismayed by that discovery, I resolved to bring something, even if I couldn't match a home-made item in so little time.

I walked over to the grocery store, reasoning that I couldn't look too bad by bringing booze. I decided to find something that fit the theme of a Christian holiday, and first looked in the hard liquors. Finding nothing there, I checked the beers, and finished in the wine section. There I found a red wine called "Cardinal Zin". I thought it was funny, and it fit the bill. It looked to be popular, and indeed I believe it was consumed in its entirety.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Something that seemed incredible happened to me the other day, or maybe it's rather conceited of me to say that it happened to me. It happened to a spider, but it's fair to say that it happened because of me. I was headed out of the house when I noticed the spider right on the outside of my bedroom door. I thought at first that a roommate had placed a plastic spider as a joke of a joke, but the spider moved, and I was alarmed.

Knowing how beneficial spiders are to the environment, I was determined not to kill it (as I regrettably have others in the past, which is shameful for an Eagle Scout). I rushed to the kitchen for a paper towel section, and returned to the spot of the sighting. The spider had moved on, but I soon enough found him inside my room, further compounding his crimes. I apprehended him in the paper towel and hoped I wasn't applying too much pressure or too little.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Engagement Zone

Another baseball season is upon us, and while I am ordinarily loathe to be topical in my writing, here's something on baseball in the general area of the season's first day. In fact, it was a couple days ago, but the point is that I am a fan and I watch baseball games, or listen to them on the radio. Sometimes I even attend, but that's seldom these days. When I went to nearly every Dodgers home game, it was easy to stay engaged, but it's harder now.

I'm too busy to take in many games. I'm out of the house or indisposed many evenings and weekend afternoons, and even when I could be watching a game, there are other things I want to do and am not willing to let drop for the duration of the season. Still, I can catch a game every now and then, whether it is on free TV or the radio. I'll make one game in person if it kills me, but it'll mainly be those two things.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Whose Time Has Come

I had an idea the other night, and thank God I was able to lay my hands on a legal pad and a pencil to get it down, or else it might have been lost forever. I doubt it would have been, because it's a good enough idea that either I would have had it again, or someone else would have. The greatest ideas gestate in the minds of several. This one was recorded in just five words: "Dead man's switch for television".

Now, your first thought may be that this already exists. It's true enough that televisions have been equipped for years with a timer one can set so that the TV will shut off as you sleep instead of running all night long. That's a perfectly good thing that they can do, and I have relied on it many times. It's the best that we have so far along the lines of eliminating waste in one's electronics, but we can most certainly do better.