Sunday, June 30, 2013

Something New

I'm terribly excited about a new purchase I've made. It was one of those things that fell into my lap. A friend let me know that he was looking to sell his television, which was lovely, since I was in the market for one. This would be a flatscreen high-definition set. It's 46 inches, and awfully nice. My friend gave me a good deal, so I'm not out very much money at all. Naturally I felt compelled to share the good news with you, and in a very lengthy fashion.

This opens up a lot of possibilities. I had previously been denied the wonders of high definition viewing, and now I have it. I can watch Blu-Ray discs, which is awfully nice. I can also enjoy the high definition channels that come through on free television, which is good too. I should say also that I would be playing those Blu-Rays off my laptop, which I can connect to the TV via an HDMI cable. That means I can stream anything else I like from that computer as well.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A New Take

Something that I think about a fair amount is comedy. Given that I see myself as a creator of it as well as a consumer, I feel I have an interest in the subject. I think often enough about how to do it. I have read other people calling this "best practices". I run at top speed from any phrase that sounds as much like empty business buzzwords as those do, but I do still think about things like how to construct a joke and what to write them about.

One of the big divides to me is that which lies between the timeless joke and the topical one. When I am writing jokes for Twitter, I think nothing of writing a joke whose lifespan is limited to the same enjoyed by some current event. After all, even a timeless joke committed to Twitter is ephemeral anyway, and it doesn't take a lot of time or effort to come up with any one in particular unless I have to bust my ass getting under 140 characters with a complicated joke.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Some New Guys

Hope springs eternal, as they say. I am thinking today of the Phoenix Suns, who I so loved in childhood. These days, basketball is further from my heart, but the Suns remain my favorite team. I have been swayed by the Dodgers, but I could never favor the Lakers or the Clippers over the Suns, despite the fact that the latter team has had hard times for the last few years. Their current owner Robert Sarver seems to be ill-suited to the task.

In any case, many of the people who have done a poor job for the team recently are gone, and change is always reason to hope, even if the new people are chosen by the same people who picked the old ones. There is a new general manager, who has gotten off to a reasonable start by hiring popular former Sun Jeff Hornacek as coach. I can't say whether his virtues on the court will translate well to his present duties, but one can hope.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


The other day, I had cause to seek out my Social Security card. I thought I did, anyway, though it turned out that it was not needed. That's irrelevant. It proved elusive, and once it was apparent that it was missing, the thing I wanted it for was entirely beside the point. My Social Security card- which is a critical document establishing my identity and which can only be replaced so many times in one's lifetime- was missing.

I pitched headlong into a terrible state of panic. I should say that this was at maybe 7 o'clock in the morning after I'd slept for no more than two or three hours, and I was coming off a period of some ill health. For those reasons and others, I was in a diminished state, and quite prone to just such a fit of hysteria. It seized me hard, and nothing mattered other than locating the card and restoring a personal state of calm.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Best Entertainment

The DMV (or, as they call it back home, the MVD) is an interesting place. Most people have to go there at some point, so you get an interesting cross-section of humanity on display there. It isn't at any given time necessarily representative, but you could see anybody, those who are so fringy as to be off the grid entirely excepted. I hadn't been there myself in about five years, and had hoped to make it ten by renewing my license online, but it wasn't to be.

As I had no appointment, I was in for a long way. It ultimately amounted to some two and a half or three hours that I spent there, all told. Most of that time passed with me sitting next to this fairly young woman on her phone. When you hear a person talk on the phone for two hours, you begin to piece together an awful lot about their life. Trust me when I say that I learned plenty about this woman, and it was all terribly interesting.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Separate By A Letter

I was thinking the other day about the various films of the "Fast and the Furious" film series. I even hesitated just now in writing that out, because I wasn't sure which entry's title to go by in assigning the entire series a single name. Most of them have had rather different titles, which wouldn't be that bad, except that each title is made up of more or less the same words in different constructions. It's rather confusing.

It reminds me of the old days at the video store. There was then no easy way of researching movies. One could seek out a book which catalogued movies, but none of those was comprehensive, and it wasn't something you were going to have on you at the store. What you saw at the store was all that existed, unless you know for a fact from personal experience that something not there did exist. It was easier if you didn't know about something you didn't have.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Almost, But Not Quite

In recent years, my home state of Arizona has suffered a loss of reputation, and relatively few things seem to have survived that to remain points of pride. One of the things that has is the Grant Canyon. Of course, that's not something that Arizona's residents can really claim responsibility for, but it's there where Arizonans are and not where those of any other state are. Naturally, we will claim credit for the canyon anyway.

Now, there's this acrobat called Nik Wallenda. He's part of an esteemed acrobat family and has pulled off some impressive high wire stunts, accruing seven Guinness world records along the way. I faintly knew of him, but took no interest until I read of his latest planned feat. It's said that he plans on doing a high-wire walk across the Grand Canyon. His own website says this, as do many media accounts of the event.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

That's Not A Bus

I had an interesting thought while I was lying and trying to sleep, so it's good that I have been keeping a legal pad and pencil there by the bed. I'd had a dream where some people drove to me house to pick me up. I wasn't expecting them, and they may have been celebrities or something, because I don't think I really felt that I knew them. It was this weird carpool sort of thing, and I naturally wondered what had made me dream it.

It occurred to me soon enough that it could have been connected to a pair of incidents that occurred before Toastmasters meetings on consecutive weeks. I take the bus to reach those meetings, and it could be a more convenient route that I take. I have to catch a connecting bus, and the stop for that bus lies where a freeway offramp is. It's really the worst intersection at this spot, or at least it would be the worst if bad intersections weren't a local specialty.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Seen In Cinema

It happens often enough once you move to Los Angeles that you recognize places in films and television. There are the places you go to that you realize were in some favorite or famous thing, and then there are the places that are just part of your neighborhood or town that show up in something. It's a little point of pride that make up just a little bit for the many inconveniences of living here. I love the city, but it's got problems, the less positive aspects of filming and tourists being among them.

A recent thing was in this movie trailer I watched. A friend had sent it to me, pointing out that something notable occurred at a certain time in it. I watched the trailer, at first just enjoying it and thinking I'd like the movie. Then the main characters go to a movie theater, and I realized immediately that it was our very own local cheap theater in North Hollywood. It appeared rather prominently in the trailer, which perhaps could be seen by more than the movie itself.

Friday, June 21, 2013

New Tack City

A while back, I came by a jigsaw puzzle of "Forbidden Planet" (which is a great old scifi classic, and an artifact from the long era in which Leslie Nielsen played serious roles). The way I got the puzzle is to be found in some old post here, and I believe that a subsequent post outlines difficulties I'd had in getting going on assembling it. I was at the time eager to find someone with whom to assemble the thing.

I'm beginning to wonder if the puzzle will ever be assembled if I insist on having someone to do it with. There was a woman who expressed interest, but somehow those plans did not come to fruition, and this was a long time ago, to say nothing of how long ago the original acquisition of the puzzle was. We're talking several years here, I think. All that time the puzzle box has just been sitting around decorating my place.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I Went And Saw It

Something I did not really intend to do was see the new Superman film "Man Of Steel". I was frankly put off by its very existence. It bugs me that the previous film "Superman Returns" did so well at the box office and with critics, only to be condemned as some kind of disappointment. Even if all that weren't the case, I have decided I don't much like the director Zack Snyder. I had liked "300" and "Watchmen", but the rest are no good to me.

I had read the reviews for "Man Of Steel" (which are generally negative) and heard from those who've seen it (who mostly agree with the critics unless they are the most pronounced sort of fanboys) and felt no real compulsion to see the film. Really I felt vindicated. Somehow or another though, I was drawn into seeing the film. You can chalk it up to my inability to see a movie alone and therefore my suddenly increased willingness to see any movie people are going to see.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

At My Level

For years, I have had an exceptionally casual level of interest in basketball. That this should be the case is remarkable, because I was a rabidly devoted fan of the Phoenix Suns growing up, and watched about every game possible. My enthusiasm tapered off, and it is now rare that I watch even a few minutes of a game or highlights. It's hard to say why that is. I guess that people grow and change, and I certainly have.

In fact, I have changed to the extent that I am not aware of an NBA Finals game taking place unless I see people discussing it on social media, and in that case, I get a bit annoyed. I don't complain, because I recognize that I can either forsake all friends who like basketball as much as I used to, or I can tolerate their chattering. I choose to tolerated it, and sometimes I'm even glad for it, because my appreciation of the game isn't entirely gone.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Interrim

I was very pleased with myself the other night, because I finished Graham Greene's "The Quiet American". It had been one of those books I'd wanted to read for a long time, because it seems to come up from time to time (perhaps not among my friends exactly, but certainly in other sources of media), and I always hate feeling ignorant because I haven't read something or seen something like that. Finally I got to "The Quiet American", and I read it in reasonable time.

Often when I am reading, I have great enthusiasm at first that wanes through the midsection of the book and ultimately picks up again near the end. With this one, I remained engaged all the way through, and read from it most days until I was done. Routine is the key, I find. I was surprised at how quickly I got through it, although I ought to have guessed considering how relatively brief it is. Maybe I expected re-reading more in order to comprehend it.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another Season Of The Same

In the course of making a joke (whose thrust was that I was encouraging a friend to rashly bet a substantial sum on the New York Jets winning the next Super Bowl), I found that an even more unlikely event than the Jets winning the Super Bowl would be my hometown Arizona Cardinals winning the same game. They are presently not an incredibly strong team, although I would argue that they possess one thing lacking in many of the years during which they have played characteristically poorly: hope.

Hope of better days may not be realized for the Cardinals this season, and so a middling or even bad season seems likely or at least possible enough that I ought to be prepared, and I am. I thought they would enjoy better odds of winning the Super Bowl than three hundred to one, which must be as long of odds as they have ever faced, but I did not entertain hopes that they would do even as much as contend for their division.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A First In Slaking Thirst

I was at a birthday party the other night. This one was distinguished from the rest by a number of things, among them being its extreme distance from home and the fact that I was attending it after having come more or less directly from an improv performance. It took place at a bar, which is all too common, but I was not entirely sorry for that on this occasion. The birthday girl sang with her band, there was pole dancing, and much gaiety.

I bought myself a drink on arriving, and took my time in drinking it. Soon enough though, I found I had  exhausted it. I was resigned to buying myself another drink, when something rather incredible happened. A couple of guys came over, complimenting my mustache. That happens sometimes, and it is regrettably seldom that the compliment comes from an appealing source. It never comes from a woman.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Weather

The other day, I had one of my improv classes, as I do every week. I had a particular scene that developed in a rather interesting way. Without getting bogged down in the details of how this sort of improv works, I'll just say that I was playing a villain set against a populist hero in a manner designed to ape the "Braveheart" type of story. There I was, peering out at the peons from the window of my castle, when it happened.

I reasoned that a suitable demonstration of my derision for the pathetic class of poor villagers in this story would be to spit upon them from up high. I made that I was opening the window, and I puckered up as though I was spitting. In improv, you pretend to do things like disrobe or spit. Actually doing something is commonly impracticable and when you do one thing for real, it starts to look weird that you don't do the other things for real.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Not A Super Fan Of Superman

The new Superman movie, "Man Of Steel, is coming out this weekend, or I think it is. I admit I haven't been paying a tremendous amount of attention to it. I don't know quite why that is. New movies haven't been an attraction to me lately, although I have gotten to see one or two. I'd say I'm not responding to the endless sequels and remakes (sometimes dressed up as "reboots"), but the original films haven't done much for me either.

I have had an inconsistent appreciation for the Superman films to date. I think that I only recently saw the first one. I've seen maybe parts of the second one. I don't think I've seen any of the third one except that it was on TV once years ago and I saw that Richard Pryor was in it. I've seen the fourth one - regarded by most as the worst- numerous times, and personally consider it my favorite of the bunch. I love Nuclear Man.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What Stories We Wrought

A rather interesting movie is out. Entitled "This Is This End", it is a film in the apocalypse vein that has the novel distinction of having its actors play themselves. One of the directors is Seth Rogen, who acts in the film with a variety of fellow actors who have collaborated many times, but always in character. The conceit of the film is what intrigues, although perhaps it would be interesting anyway. It would be a simpler decision to see it then. I'm conflicted, but it has more potential as is, I think.

The film reminded me of something from grade school. There was a peculiarly dark genre of creative writing that thrived in perhaps third grade. The plot, such as it was, went as follows: it was established that the writer and all of the classmates they were friends with were in some scenario, and then they would all die in some fashion or another. It was just "Here we all are, and here we all are dying." It was a dark genre, as I said.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Big D (Not Dallas)

I made another of those big moves in my diet recently. English Muffins had lost their appeal as a breakfast item. I got the idea that I was taking in too much starch and not enough Vitamin D, so I did something that is radical only for me. I bought a jug of milk. I had previously regarded it as a risky investment, as I can recall few times that I managed to consume an entire jug of milk before its expiration.

The desire to maintain good health makes you do crazy things though, and so it was that I bought milk to have cereal for breakfast as I did most days in childhood. It has an interesting impact on the morning schedule, or at least it's mildly interesting to me. Instead of taking several minutes and dictating when I have my first cup of coffee, it is instead the readiness of the coffee that dictates when I pour the first cup of coffee. Also I find that the coffee sits a bit before I have any, because the hot coffee and the cold milk do not mingle well.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Story Of Three

I had an audition yesterday, and on the bus I saw something interesting (as I always seem to). It was all ordinary and fine until this little girl and what I presumed to be her older sister boarded. Even then it was unremarkable until the third member of their contingent- the one I took to be the mother- arrived. That's when things got good, although I could have stood for them to not be good considering what I had on my mind.

The mother was, I perceived, not a good mother. I admittedly came to that conclusion quickly, but that's a determination I'm always going to make quickly when a parent seems to do battle with their four year old offspring on equal terms. The little girl was rather precocious, and not entirely in the wrong. She declared early on that she'd lost her bag, and it developed that it had perhaps been lost in the area of a fruit vendor's stand.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Big Announcement

Although I am a big fan of the entertainment that is there to be seen all around us all day long in the form of our fellow humans, there are times even for me that do not seem promising in that regard. I'm always ready to be surprised, though. Take the grocery store. There are aspects of it that are more fun than others. There can be attractive female customers to catch my eye, and there can be little moments of drama in the checkout lane, and there's always the parking lot.

Something that's not ordinarily fun is the public address system. What few announcements there are to be heard are not very interesting, mainly consisting as they do of non-descript directions from one employee to another. Even that can be fun though, like if someone keeps calling for more cashiers but none come, or if the PA says something that you never thought you'd hear and which really stirs the imagination.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Star Was Met

As I write this, the final evening of the LA Improv Festival looms. There has been plenty of notable activity during the week, even on days when I wound up writing here about something else. Above all, it can be said that I did not fail to take advantage of the privileges extended to me as a performer. One was granted access to the green room (and its libations) on the night of the show, and I went in there and drank (within moderation).

One was also granted a 50% discount on tickets when purchased the day of the show, and I have done that. One was also allowed free admission to any show which failed to sell out, and it has been this that brought me back to the theater hosting the festival every single night. I've seen some great stuff, and have not failed even once to come across a friend who happened to be there. I'm glad for that, because I don't much like going out alone and few without the pass I have would see so many shows in a week.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Negative Thoughts

I generally have faith in the ultimate resolution of mysteries. What we don't know we someday will, I always feel. It may take so much time that we ourselves will never know, but surely those who succeed us will know, or those who succeed them will. That's not entirely satisfying I admit, but I take some comfort in knowing that eventually answers come and, in the event of injustice, justice comes in some form or another.

There are many famous mysteries that endure presently, some of them being injustices at the same time. They never found DB Cooper, the famed airline hijacker. They never ever figured out who poisoned the Tylenols- an evil act responsible for today's tamper-proof containers. That's a frightening thing when you figure that the responsible party could easily still be out there and probably is no better balanced mentally today than they were then.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Finished Off

Sleep has been rough lately. I have admittedly not been doing as well as I'd like at getting to bed at a decent hour or, consequently, get up at a decent hour (barring circumstances where I'm expected to be somewhere by others, which has not been a problem). Also problematic has been the time in between. I have been more restless than usual in sleep, struggling to stay asleep as long as I believe I need to be asleep.

I have as a result embarked upon numerous days lately with less than a full head of steam. I have also had episodes such as I did yesterday morning. I found myself vigorously tossing and turning at around four in the morning when I had hardly gotten to sleep by two and had intended to grant myself sleep until noon. It was evident that what I was doing was not restful, and so I might as well do something until I was again fit to rest.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Jerks

A friend of mine and I were heading home on the subway from Hollywood. We had failed to gain admission to a sold-out improv show. It was relatively late by this point, and the trains running at that hour are invariably packed with interesting characters. This is not something I'm especially glad for. Interesting people tend to encroach on one's privacy in such close quarters. I would just as soon have a boring ride home myself.

My friend is like many people in that he is more social than I am. I'm capable of it to a point, but initiating conversation with strangers is outside my area of expertise. He thrives on things like that, it seems. As we waited for a train peculiarly slow in arriving, he struck up a conversation with a pair of women who turned out to have come from a Tom Petty concert. I guessed that one might be the other's daughter, but I don't know that, and how do you ask such a thing?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


It was, last night, another night at the LA Improv Fest for me. It seems only sensible to spend as much time there as possible when there are so many special things going on and I retain a panoply of discounts and privileges. Of course, I would have been there last night anyway on account of certain good friends who were set to perform. There was a team featuring a couple of friends, one of whom has been an instructor of mine, but it didn't end there.

In addition to that first show I took in, there was a cage match competed in by a team featuring a number of friends and current or former instructors, all of whom are affiliated with the Monkey Butler program that got me into improv in the first place. A cage match is simple enough: two teams each perform the same form of improv, and a vote is held to ascertain which was the best. It naturally breaks down to which team has the most friends there most of the time.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Raison D'etre

Yesterday I wrote of the LA Improv Fest, whose first event I attended Saturday. Hours after my missive appeared online, my team had its performance. It proved to be an eventful one, and an eventful day. I had little to do during the day except write and find someone who could use my comp. A "comp", in case it's not as commonly understood as I think, is a free ticket extended to someone of a performer's choosing. I ought to have gotten to work on doling mine out sooner. At the last minute, it took some effort to deal with, but I did.

At long last, I showered and headed out to the venue, where I quickly came across one of my teammates. He and I waited a couple of minutes before a third person showed up. We piled into her car as she sought parking, which she found by a Jack In The Box. Having eaten nothing that day except an English muffin and coffee, I reasoned that I needed to put something in my stomach before performing, or else I would be in trouble. That I bought two chicken sandwiches was apparently odd and amusing to others. I worried that I had eaten too much, but it proved to not be a concern.

Monday, June 3, 2013


This week, I will be rather occupied with the LA Improv Festival, which is a big annual event packed with special performances and workshops related to improv comedy and adjacent forms of entertainment. I would not be so enthused or committed to spending time with the thing, but as an improv team I am a member of was accepted to perform, a variety of privileges have been extended to me, and I mean to take advantage of them.

I have a variety of discounts and freebies coming, but the first thing I got to do was a brunch which took place the day before the festival properly started. Whether or not it could be called a real brunch I don't know. There was a token amount of food in the form of a free "scrambled eggs on hamburger bun" sandwich, with enticements to spend money making it into something more substantial. There were also specials on Bloody Marys and mimosas, so maybe it was a brunch.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Some Kids

I saw something kind of interesting on the subway the other day. I was sitting near the end of the car meant for bicycles, but I don't believe there were any there. I was minding my own business, which is always when things happen to you. When you're getting in other people's business, nobody is and nobody can be getting into yours, but that's immaterial for the moment. Something happened, I saw it and I'll say what it was.

I was reading or some such thing, and I looked up for a moment, as I often to in order to maintain an awareness of my surroundings. That's very important on the subway, because you don't want to be taken advantage of. So I looked up and I saw a couple of kids roughhousing. I guessed that they might be brother and sister, and there they were aggressively grappling in the free space of the bicycle area. It was one of those eyes-widening moments.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Lousy Place

I was at a restaurant last night. I had just done an improv show, and a teammate afterwards was endeavoring to get everyone to go out to this place. I agreed, and a handful of other did too. I was under the impression that this was a burger chain, another location of which I had been too a few years ago. I found on arriving that it was no such thing. Rather, it was a diner. I think I would not have gone if I'd known.

I resolved that with a place whose quality was in question, it was not smart to get anything that a place could mess up. I picked a turkey burger, because I thought that was a foolproof option in addition to being healthier than a regular burger. It was certainly not the best burger I've ever had. In fact, it was lousy, and at twice the cost of many of the ones I prefer. I was terribly remorseful about my choice very quickly.