Monday, March 31, 2014

Hang Or Drang

It's an interesting test of my state of mind that happens many Sunday nights. It's Sundays that they have "Top Story Weekly" at iO West, and as I've said before, it's been my pleasure to write jokes and sometimes sketches for them. Most weeks I get something in, and most of those weeks I attend. It's not an easy thing for me to do, as antisocial as I remain. I commonly head out wishing for nothing more than to stay in the comfort and safety of my home.

I can override that. Mostly I get to the theater about half an hour before the show. Sometimes I get a drink, sometimes I don't. Either way I hope to locate someone I know and to chat with them before the show. It's very important that it be before the show. The bar area leading to the theater space is relatively empty half an hour in advance. It's not dangerously crowded as the show begins. As the show ends, it's packed to the damn rafters.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

In Vino A Better Writer

I don't drink all that much. I drink a fair amount on occasion, but in daily life, it's one drink here and one drink there. Certainly I make sure to curtail it when I need to be sharp, although needing to create and needing to be sharp do not necessarily coincide. Performing is a time when I can't drink. I know many who can, but I find that any gains that I make in loosened inhibitions are outweighed by simple biological problems like a dry mouth or a need for the restroom.

Writing is another story, and if I've said anything about this in the past, let's hope that something has changed or that I have some kind of fresh perspective. Interesting things happen when I drink and write. It's actually easier to focus. The alcohol slows me down, but I think it may be something like putting a wild horse in a harness. It maybe can't go as fast as it would otherwise, but its speed now can be directed to a purpose. Putting one hundred percent of reduced thinking power towards a goal is a net gain.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Remake OK? The Hell You Say!

In general, I'm not in favor of remakes and sequels. There's some place for them. Some films leave more story to be told, and a sequel is called for. That's not too often. Some movies take one angle on a story, passing up an equally valid angle. That happens sometimes, or it sometimes happens that a movie fails in some respect, and another movie has a reasonable chance of improving on the original. Regrettably, the main reason any remake or sequel happens is to take advantage of a perceived preexisting audience.

Yesterday evening, I saw the Robocop remake at a nearby cheap theater. I paid three dollars for my ticket, so the bar was relatively low for me. That's where I like it going into a movie. I was maybe a little biased against it on account of what I've said above, but I was basically ready to enjoy it. That's the only reasonable attitude to have. Who wants to have a bad time? Still, the movie had a little work to do to get me, not that I'm some special prize.

Friday, March 28, 2014

More Werewolves, And Yet Fewer

My friends and I watched "The Howling: New Moon Rising" as I said we would a few days ago. I knew it would likely not be good, but I was game to brave it anyway, even though I was growing less sanguine about the prospects of it even being watchable. I had been advised by someone whose opinions I respect that it was very bad, but that didn't change anything. We were going to watch it, because we said we were going to watch it.

It turned out to be by turns better and worse than I imagined. There's no question that it was a very bad movie. The actors didn't even qualify as actors. Indeed, the majority of the cast bore character names identical to their own. The film, set at some kind of country western biker bar, was weighed down by numerous songs by the band and contained virtually no werewolf action (which continued a trend from the previous few films). It was not good.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just Got It

This will not make me sound great. It won't make me sound bad, but it won't cast me in the light I'd like either. Still, I'm no longer very interested in disguising my character the way I used to be. Now, you'll recall maybe that I was very excited over the new "Pretty Reckless" album, and the song "Heaven Knows" in particular. I was listening to that song like crazy, but it was like so many of my infatuations with songs: intense and short-lived.

That's not to say that I don't still love the song, because I do. It just happened to have the bad luck of coming just before another song that seized me with equal vigor, pushing it to the back burner. That other song is likely to be a surprise, and maybe for multiple reasons. It's "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas. This is not a new song. It came out something like nine years ago, and while I had heard plenty about it in all that time, I never listened to it. I don't know how that happened.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

More Werewolves!

I wrote on Sunday about watching four "Howling" movies in a row. They started out strong, as I believe I said, but ended on a very weak note with the fourth film. I expressed resolve to finish the series, and I still have that resolve, but after watching the next two in the series last night, I have little hope that they will improve much. Maybe it's an insane endeavor, but I guess that's just who my friends and I are.

The fourth film had been something of a new start, as it returned to the plot of the first novel and the first film in the series. It allegedly was a more faithful take. The fifth film did not follow up on that. Instead, a mysterious count has invited a group of strangers to visit his castle, which had been shuttered for centuries. It develops that they are all descendants of a werewolf baby, and he means to kill the one of them who carries the trait. I think I have that right. What's important is that there's almost no werewolf action and even less lighting.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Full Release

A few years ago (it has to be, although it seems as it could hardly have been as much as one), I became aware of a band called The Pretty Reckless. I can't recall how I found out about them, but it may be that I was reading about their lead singer, Taylor Momsen. She had been on a show called "Gossip Girl" that I never saw, and in a movie or movies that I also never saw. In any case, she was going through the inevitable process of rebelling against a forced clean image that always seems to shock people, and this band was the manifestation of that.

At the time, they'd put out one EP and one album. From that output, there were a number of songs that I really loved. I was listening to them constantly, and I was very fond of the band. I easily could have dismissed them on account of Momsen's background, since there's not too much value in music designed to be shocking in order to establish that someone is not a child anymore. There isn't for me, anyway, and I shouldn't speak for others.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Trip That Might Be

China, I gather, is an interesting place. I've known people who visited, and at least one who lives there presently. That much I would not do, but a visit would be very stimulating, I'm sure. The sooner I could manage it, the better, partly because I suspect I will get something different out of it while I remain young and vigorous, but also partly because China is a place which curiously seems to value the past and also readily obliterate it in the name of some kind of progress.

The big cities (of which there are many) would be interesting to see. It would even be interesting to be there on a bad pollution day. They say it is sometimes so bad that you can't see the buildings across the street. That would be a hell of a thing to witness. There are also undoubtedly good aspects of the cities, and I'd be open to those. I can't say what those would be just now, but if I ever go I'll be sure to issue a full report.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Howling Rundown

One of the better known series of films (since I have grown very disdainful of the term "franchise") in the werewolf genre is the Howling movies. I had seen at least one of them when I was a kid, then rewatched it maybe a couple years ago. I recently re-rewatched it, and for good measure watched some of its sequels. The original is a decent movie with some fine special effects and tolerable performances. The story is also reasonable. I would say the film is at its best in the opening and at the movie's conclusion.

From there the drop-off is... severe. "Howling 2: Your Sister Is A Werewolf" has a clunky title and nothing better behind it. It stars Christopher Lee, Reb Brown and Sybill Danning. Reb is the brother of a journalist who became a werewolf and died in the previous film, so naturally he has to go to Transylvania (!) and seek vengeance against Danning with the help of Lee. None of them exactly puts their best foot forward, although Danning puts something else forward pretty much all the time. It's hard to say whether there's more gratuitous nudity or bad acting. I guess there wouldn't be the need for one without the other. Let's just say that if you need a movie with a werewolf menage a trois, you know where to look.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Disappointment

One of the movies I have recently watched in a bid to winnow down my backlog of unwatched tapes was what appeared to be a quintessential 80s sex comedy, "The Allnighter". It stars Susannah Hoffs, who is rightfully best known for being one of the Bangles. Joan Cusack is in there too, as is Michelle Pfeiffer's sister and Pam Grier. The premise is a standard one. Some college girls and their male counterparts are facing the final days of their college experience, and are eager to make the most of it.

Three coeds live in an improbably nice beach house. Susannah is unlucky in love, and wants at least a fling. Michelle Pfeiffer's sister is engaged to a terrible guy- a middle-aged businessman- and Joan Cusack seems wholly devoted to recording everything on her camera. Now, obviously there we have the makings of a perfectly good movie. Regrettably, nothing plays out the way one might hope. If I only could have known, I would have passed.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mergers & Acquisitions

On the same day that I caved and bought some more VHS tapes for the first time in a while, I also bought a couple of records. I went through a similar progression in my record buying to that which I went through with my tape buying, but it was faster. I first bought a number of them rather indiscriminately. I had to have something to play on my new player, and having records was a novelty to me much greater than having VHS tapes for the first time in years, but in a matter of weeks, I declined to buy any record I didn't really want.

I haven't bought many of those in a while, and not because I was trying to reign in my collecting. I just hadn't seen any really good ones. Recently I finally did. Now, I love Warren Zevon. By a wide margin, he's my favorite musician. I'll buy his records almost any time. I say almost because I have a finite number of dollars to live on, or I'd spend any amount. As it is, I can't spend thirty dollars on a record. That's what Warren's eponymous album costed at Amoeba, so I demurred.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cooling Off Period

Growing up in Phoenix and the surrounding area, I was accustomed to the heat. It was hot or warm most of the year, although it certainly can get cold in winter there. Winter did not last nearly long enough, and so there were a lot of coping mechanisms for people there. For one thing, Phoenix has historically been one of the more enthusiastically movie-going markets in America, partly because of the air-conditioning provided. That's a nice perk.

I never did get out to the movies as much as I would have liked. I saw a fair number, I guess, especially in the days when the movies were one of a much smaller group of options. It used to be a terribly thrilling thing to consult the movie listings in the newspaper and ultimately reach a compromise on one of the movies with several other people. You didn't always get a movie you wanted to see very badly, but you go that precious air.

Something I made a point of doing was to have a glass of ice water by my bed every night. It had to be pretty well filled to the brim with ice and the remainder filled in with water. We had central air in the house, but it was just never efficient and powerful enough to cool the whole house to a comfortable level. My bedroom especially felt like a sweat lodge a lot of the time, and so I had to have the ice water to drink at any time that I might awaken in sweltering conditions.

As Los Angeles is approaching the warmer months presently, I'm making a point of keeping water on hand overnight, but it doesn't need to have ice in it. It cools off rather well here overnight, and the water is necessary mostly in the morning, at which time the ice would have melted and its cooling properties run their course. Regrettably, the water is stale from standing all night long, and chances are excellent that little bits of dust and things have fallen into it, but you just have to have that water first thing. It's very good for you.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Absurdities In Sports

I think we may have been better off before the pervasive, heavily specialized sports coverage that began with the founding of ESPN. As there has become more and more space in which to cover sports, there has not necessarily been anything more to talk about. Instead, desperate people must find more and more things to say about the same stuff that used to be covered adequately in much less time every week. I could certainly do without sports for most of the week. Just give me the pre-game, the game and the post-game. I'm happy to forget the sport entirely in the off-season.

Other people don't feel that way, and they are the ones getting their way. I guess that's mostly fine with me. Other people's passions only affect me as much as I let them. Still, because I have friends who are so passionate that they must partake in all this dubious news around clock, I would have to cut them off to not hear it anymore. I'm not going to do that, obviously, so I'm just going to wind up hearing this stuff and being infuriated by it.

How They Do It

There has been, in recent years, a development in the death penalty debate. In one sense it's as much a moral, ethical, justice-based one as any there have been, but what interests me is the practical component. The thing is that there have been a lot of methods for execution over time. In the US, recent history has seen it mainly confined to lethal injection, although it may be so that the gas chamber and some other methods remain technically legal in places.

Lethal injection is the big one. It used to be that there was a standard multiple drug combination whose purpose was to make death both humane and certain. Obtaining it was no problem, especially in the majority of states where executions are relatively rare. For places like Texas and Florida, they seem a little more commonplace. In any event, even those places got enough to satisfy their needs. For someone to evade or delay execution, it was going to take some kind of legal maneuver.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

High Side, Low Side

Glitter is pretty. It's shiny. It shimmers in light. It's difficult to think of any context in which the bodily form is not improved by the addition of glitter. It catches the eye, and often from a perch which the eyes are already drawn to. Without belaboring the point any further, I enjoy looking at glitter when it is deployed, and I would find it hard to believe if anyone were to claim that they don't feel the same way. If I must suffer for speaking a universally held truth, then so be it.

Something that I don't think I will have to go out on a limb over is the other side of glitter. As nice as it is, it comes at a steep cost above and beyond the actual price in dollars one must pay to obtain the glitter (and I'm sure good glitter comes at a premium). Glitter is insidious. It is just impossible to get rid of. It sticks to things and stays around forever. It's hard to say whether it is worse than sand from the beach, but let's leave that for another day.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Yesterday a friend had a birthday party that was unlike most I've been to since I was a kid, and not much like any from when I was a kid. It was a daytime birthday party (mostly) and had as the primary activity a program of field day style games. My team fared poorly, but we had one or two bright spots. One was the trivia race. Each team had to designate a person to run out to a spot before they could answer the question. It was novel.

We also had a tolerable showing at team Jenga, at least in a way. Jenga is a pretty fun game. I hadn't played it in forever, but I don't think I suffered on account of that. Our game drew out a long time. I had two turns come and go without incident. The first was easy. There are lots of great options at that point. For someone thinking at a higher level there may be ones to go for that help you down the line, but as far as I can tell, it's all good at the outset.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I had a lapse. For a good while, I managed to hold off on buying VHS tapes so that I could finally make a dent in the backlog of unwatched tapes that has grown wildly out of control. I even got under 60 the other day. I had every intention of staying away from the places where I buy them, knowing that even walking in the building was likely to be too much for my resolve. Maybe it was just never going to be for me on that stuff.

It's really not so bad. What happened is that I had an audition. A fair amount of them are on the south end of the Hollywood neighborhood. That's where sound stages, casting agencies and the like can actually be found in the area (and all around the rest of the city, of course). When I get out of an audition, I'm a churning pot of powerful emotions. It's an intense experience to put yourself on the line all exposed like that, and whether it goes well or not, you feel like Frankenstein's monster after he got that jolt.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Which Movie To Make

A couple nights ago I watched another of my VHS tapes: the Betsy Russell-starring "Tomboy". I enjoyed it fairly well, but I found myself thinking throughout what I would have done differently, and there would have been lots. The movie is about a young woman who favors a lifestyle of sports and cars over dresses and romance, and so I thought this would be a poignant sort of comedy not unlike a "Pretty In Pink". It was not.

That movie was buried inside the move that I got, to be sure. The titular tomboy faintly eschews traditionally feminine pursuits and pursues her job as a mechanic with gusto. Her hero, a race car driver, just happens to be employed by (and friends with?) the local rich guy whose fancy car she's been working on. This launches her on an on again, off again romance with said driver which culminates in a head to head race with everything on the line.

Friday, March 14, 2014

DB Earhart

I'm beginning to get very drawn into the story of the missing Malaysian jet. This happened a number of days ago when I was in Jamaica. I heard a snippet of some kind of news account, or I heard somebody saying something about disappearing from radar. I didn't think much of it, and certainly while at a resort far a family wedding, I didn't much want to think about it. I got more thorough details when I picked up some Jamaican newspapers at the airport on my way home.

In addition to being a probable tragedy, it's also shaping up into a real mystery. There are some rather interesting details. The plane disappeared from radar with hours of fuel left, and the search originally centered at the spot where it was last seen. That has turned up nothing, and now it's evident that it actually could have (and probably did) flown for hours with its transponder off, so that whatever became of it, it may not be anywhere near the original search zone. For a bit, they thought they were sure of a change of course, but that was taken back.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Falling Short Of Standards

I found something curious about Jamaica on the bus ride to the resort from the airport, and admittedly I may be inferring an awful lot from not much evidence, but there it is. Now, the bus took nearly two hours to get us to our destination, and so there was a lot of time to observe things, but there was one thing that I noticed at a rest stop about halfway there. I had to use the rest room, and so I went ahead in there. What I found was dismaying.

The urinal was exceptionally high off the ground. I'm not an incredibly tall man. I fall slightly under the average, I suspect. That is to say that I am slightly short for an American. I have to guess, based on the evidence presented to me throughout my trip to Jamaica, that I am even more short by comparison with Jamaica men. The ones I saw were often tall verging on very tall, although there were those that were not all that tall.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Out Of Country

The night before last, I got back from my trip to Jamaica. I correctly judged that I would not be up to the task of writing anything that same night, so I had something ready to go tomorrow. Today I will at least begin the task of describing how it all went, although whether there's any real appeal in hearing about it is debatable. Who doesn't like talking about their own vacation? Who doesn't hate it when someone else does?

I did little to prepare for the trip until late in the game. On the big day, I still had to buy a lot of things, and found myself frantically traipsing around the neighborhood, inefficiently making multiple trips to the print show, the library and the area where both the drugstore and the grocery store may be found. Between the print shop and the library, there were four separate trips just to print out things, which suggests that I really ought to buy new printer cartridges.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Second Stab

By now I think I should be back in LA, but I am undoubtedly quite tired and in need of lengthy recuperation. In anticipation of that, I wrote one more post to last until I am properly rested. It has nothing really to do with Jamaica. You see, I've been reading "Atlas Shrugged". Years ago I made the attempt to read it, but gave up after a few chapters. It is famously long and is regarded by many as a difficult read. I found it so then.

I always meant to come back to it, though I thought that maybe it was a book I would have to buy instead of checking it out of the library. Recently though, I came across it at the library and took the plunge. I reasoned that if I couldn't get through it in the nine weeks I was allowed to have it out, I would just have to buy it, check it out again, or read it online (where it's available in its entirety). It seemed a reasonable plan.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stay Where I Am

I am still in Jamaica, and I can only assume (writing this in advance) that I am having a great time. Maybe the things I have anticipated have come to pass, maybe they haven't, and maybe there are things I never imagined that happened instead. There's one thing that I'm sure of happening though, and that's that I will surely have had difficulty in leaving behind all of my life in Los Angeles. That's just how I am.

Writing all of these posts before I left made it so I had that much less to take my mind about from where I am on this trip, of course. I regret that I will probably not forget all my cares and worries so easily, though. There have been domestic concerns that I fear will invade my thoughts, although that is a fear which may melt away when I am no longer physically in my realm of domesticity. Really, Jamaica's charms must surely be strong enough to overcome even my worrying.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Side Trip

Yesterday I wrote a little about what I know about Jamaica. It wasn't much. To be honest, much of what I do know is drawn from Ian Fleming's novels about James Bond. At least one of them (The Man With The Golden Gun) is partly set there. As the novels reflect Britain's attitude in the 1950s and 60s, I don't expect I can make much use of that on my trip. That would be a sure way of getting myself into trouble.

Fleming was not especially a politically correct man, whatever his other qualities may have been. Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt and apply that description to Bond instead, but the fact remains that the books contain some troubling stuff about women, and more pertinently, about race. Even as a boy I found myself uneasy whenever Fleming would get to describing people from the exotic places Bond visited. He would have Bond speculating about the person's racial makeup, and it never sounds good.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

On Jamaica

When I was advised of the plan to have my sister's wedding in Jamaica, I thought not just of what fun it would be or of what difficulties it would entail, but of what knowledge I had of Jamaica. I must confess that it was not much, but I will give my report with caveats on what I am unsure of. To begin with, I know that it's an island in the Caribbean. I feel as if already I'm in fairly good shape on my Jamaica knowledge by comparison with some.

I also know that Jamaica was ruled by England for sometime. Further research revealed that it also was ruled by Spain, which I ought to have guessed. All of that being the case, the Jamaican people could understandably bear some ill will against some outsiders. Jamaica also being a hotbed of tourism, it may also be that Jamaicans are not wild about Americans and visitors of any other nationality. I know that I don't much like my brushes with tourists in LA.

Friday, March 7, 2014

First Time Out

This trip to Jamaica revived memories of my trip to Puerto Peñasco some years ago. I was then either nearly done with high school or just beginning junior college. In any case I was 18, which I found was enough for me to be able to drink. I didn't do a tremendous amount of that, since I was with my family. I do think I had a little at some bar, which I seem to recall being owned or managed by an American. There was a lot of that there.

In mentioning that trip as my only one out of the country, I'm always quick to make mention of the fact that they had my hometown newspaper available for sail just as early in the morning as it seemed to be available back home. I gave that as evidence that it wasn't truly a trip out of the country in any meaningful sense. I didn't actually buy a copy, but in retrospect a Mexican Arizona Republic would be a novel keepsake.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Second Triumph

I am by now in Jamaica, and probably very tired from the traveling to this point. Here is something I had on my mind before the trip. On Sunday, I had my second sketch in iO West's Top Story Weekly. I have written of it a few time in the past to report my progress in writing and submitting two line jokes based on the news. I have gotten fairly good at it, and most weeks get at least one into the show. That soon was not enough.

When the show announced an open submission week (in which someone like me not on the writing staff could submit sketches), I jumped at the chance and succeeded at getting a sketch about the State of the Union in. That was a success, and I was eager for another chance. That came last week with another open submission week. The last time had been due to the Super Bowl, and this time was on account of the Oscars.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Trip And A First

As I write this, I am also frantically getting ready for my trip to Jamaica. My dear sister is getting married, and has selected a very ambitious location for the ceremony. That being the case, there is somewhat more to deal with than there has been for any previous trip I have been on in my lifetime. I have been out of the country, but only barely. I never have felt as if Puerto Peñasco in Mexico counted really.

It was, of course, necessary to dig out my passport. I had gotten it years ago when I read an article about how few Americans possessed one. I was determined to be in the elite category of the haves instead of the have nots, and though I had no plans for travel that required it, I set myself to the task of obtaining it with great urgency. I was so delighted on receiving it that I took it everywhere just to have it to look at. Since then, its only use has been to serve as an ID for more mundane purposes.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Worst Joke

There was a joke on the last episode of "Saturday Night Live" that I didn't care for. It was during the Weekend Update segment. The premise was about how the band Kiss wouldn't be performing at their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because there was disagreement about what lineup to use. In my opinion, that's a little complex of a premise, having two parts, but it's useable. The joke was how they also wouldn't do the performance because of the additional reason that they couldn't get off work at Radio Shack.

The joke's presentation included an amusing picture of the band in their makeup and Radio Shack uniforms. I don't deny it was amusing-looking. The trouble of the joke isn't where it got to, but where it began. We're asked to accept the logic of the band becoming so destitute that they are reduced to retail jobs. I just can't do it. The joke completely falls apart in that crucial element of logic. I expect a joke to make sense.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

On "The Mummy"

I sometimes give the impression, I'm afraid, that I don't think very much of any movie, or at least of any mainstream, remotely contemporary film. I do often prefer old and obscure movies. I think that's because it gives me a buffer zone from people. I would like popular movies if it wasn't for all the people watching them. Some of them are very good, and deserve their popularity. Others of them are popular only because it's desired for them to be.

One major blockbuster movie that, in my opinion, was very strong and which holds up well is "The Mummy". It being an adventure movie about treasure-seekers, it naturally draws comparisons with the Indiana Jones films, which almost no film could favorably match up to. If one gives it a fair chance, The Mummy offers ample reward. There are only so many movies that I could imagine watching again, and it is one of them.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


One of the prizes I won the other night at a trivia night was a little Lego set. I hadn't touched Legos in years and years, so it seemed neat to get to play with them again for, as they say, old time's sake. I couldn't help myself, and opened up the package. It was a Star Trek-themed set, and I reflected on the sort of stuff I'd had when I was a kid. I don't remember having too many custom sets. I seemed to have very general legos with which I made things using my imagination. I even made Star Trek ships, but I had to improvise.

There was no improvising necessary with this kit, nor did improvising seem all that possible. In following the instructions pictorial, I watched myself assemble the thing from outside myself. I looked more like an aggrieved father making it for his child than the child I was when I last played with Legos. Let me stress that my father never got involved with those, though he did have a substantial role in making my model car and other projects.