Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Rear Window Scenario

During part of the time I was in college, I lived at the ballyhooed University Center diagonally across from the main branch of the Chicago Public Library. That was very, very nice in itself, apart from the amenities of the building itself, which were fairly good.

The shape of the building was something like a capital E. This meant that if you were somewhere in the concave folds of the open side, you could easily see other units in the same building just a short distance across the way. One tries to be conscientious when living so close to so many people, as the chances for violating another's privacy are so many. We are only human though, and I am no exception in that regard. I would sometimes look to see what I could see, which was never anything more interesting that what I was doing. People would put up signs meant to be seen by us opposite them. I often wondered what signs might be visible on our side from their perspective.

Here where I am in LA, my building is smaller and comprised of many fewer units. It's a regular rectangular building with an inner courtyard, and does not afford views of other units in the building from bedroom windows. You can see from the living room and kitchen areas, but there's really nothing to see but doors. From the bedroom windows though, you can see the next building over, whose eastern wall constrains our parking lot. Most of what can be seen these days is construction. I'm not entirely clear on what they're doing, but it's some kind of work on the outside of that wall. Nothing compelling. The noise is unpleasant at times. Other than that, you just see a TV on, things like that. This whole post came about because I saw a hand poking through the plastic sheeting covering the construction work.

So, that's all for now.

The Radio

I like listening to the radio. Most people listen in the car, which I have done, but I often keep it quiet in the car to focus on the road. Thusly, much of my radio listening happens at home and in other places. I don't listen to too much music on the radio. I did kind of like indie 103.1 here in LA, but they're just online now. I like very particular music. It tends to be older stuff, so most of the stations wouldn't think of playing it. The oldies stations could play it, but seem to prefer playing Roy Orbison and such too much to consider a broader range of classics.

Therefore, I generally listen to talk and news radio, putting me at odds with my father. I enjoy NPR, whether it's the weekday soft-spoken news and analysis, or the more entertainment-centric weekend fare such as Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, Prairie Home Companion, and This American Life. I don't just listen to NPR, though (indeed, I can't bear to listen to them during pledge drives). If I'm inclined, I'll listen to Coast to Coast with George Noory. It would be quick to call it a UFOs and conspiracy theory program, but they have a pretty good variety of subjects. It's often not credible, but I try to be open, and it's always entertaining.

Changing of the seasons

It's at this time of the year that I start wishing that I had central air conditioning like I'm used to. It gets rather warm in this apartment, particularly during the day. It cools down after nightfall, after a fashion. I have a little system. In the morning, I close my window and draw closed the blinds. Then I turn on my tall fan. I keep things like that most of the day. When it starts to get darker in the evening, I open the blinds and the window, turning off the fan. In this way, I survive.

I look forward to a nicer place in the future.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Package In The Mail

I don't deal especially well with delayed gratification. I think I do better now than I used to, but waiting for something I want is hard. The prime example of this is waiting for something to come in the mail. You might think that Netflix is not for me, but I cope.

Suppose that something is coming in four to six weeks. The first four weeks are ok, because on any particular day, I know it's not coming that day, so I mainly can put it out of my mind. As soon as it can come any day, though, every spare moment I have is apt to be consumed with anticipation of the package coming.

There was some release today, then, when a package containing a University of Florida football championship shirt and some Arizona Cardinals cups. Now, I guess, it helps to have online tracking. There used to not be that.

McLaughlin Group

I've referenced the McLaughlin Group, but never have addressed it specifically. It's another of the things I picked up from my father. It's just a group of intelligent, well-credentialled people trying talk out the issues of the day. It's got a couple things over the other shows that have come during the cable news boom.

First, it's worth something to me that these people are physically in the same room as each other rather than in separate studios talking via split-screen. It definitely changes the dynamics when people are face to face, and I think it's for the better.

Second, I like the group of people they've got. There are the regulars such as John McLaughlin (of course), Eleanor Clift, Pat Buchanan, and Monica Crowley as well as a rotating cast of guests from week to week. The regulars are like friends, the guests are solid, and there's always a good mix.

With every new subject, it starts out civil, and eventually builds up to a level of high emotional tension. It's not manufactured or about something frivolous. It's just the pinnacle of televised discourse, in my opinion.

Comic Strips

I'm a fan of newspaper comic strips. I have been for a long time, going back to childhood when my favorites were Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side. I still think the former is the best I've ever seen. Most strips about a kid make him or her far too mature, basically a tiny adult. Others go too far in the other direction. Calvin and Hobbes struck it just about right. It's still a pleasure to go back and read.

The comedic strips are the ones with the broadest appeal, but I like the serious ones too. Dick Tracy is kind of stupid, but I like reading ones like Mary Worth, Judge Parker and Rex Morgan. They don't deliver the kind of dramatic content you get from a book, movie or tv series, and are often rather cheesy, but are still fun.

Maybe the most admirable ones are the editorial cartoons. One of the greatest pioneers in print journalism was Thomast Nast. At the time, wide swathes of Americans were illiterate, and unable to read the paper. Although they weren't objective, and Nast had his faults (among them anti-Irish sentiment), his drawings conveyed the information of the story without using words.

Today there are many good strips, and great cartoonists drawing editorial work. The fall of the American newspaper is dragging the cartoonist down, but I believe that good ones will continue to do well online. Indeed, I feel that in that environment we will see the evolution of the comic strip into a whole new form free of the limits on space that formerly constrained the artist into a few short short panels every day. I look forward to seeing what develops.

Life on Mars

I've been glued to the show Life on Mars all season. I also have been watching the sequel to the British original, "Ashes to Ashes". I intend to watch the British version itself soon. But back to the American version:

It's a good cast. You have the lead, Jason O'Mara. Although I disaprove of the use of foreign actors to play American, this Irishman does the job. Along with him you have Gretchen Mol, Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli and others, all play wonderful 70s cop types. I'll be sorry to see the show end, but look forward to catching up on its BBC forebears.

A modern New York police detective is involved in a car accident, and is thrown back in time to the year 1973. At various times all season, there have been clues, and we have come close to learning the truth a few times. It will finally come this week, as the series finale(!) will air. I guess it just hasn't done well enough. Too bad. I was hoping it would run a good, long time.

Most Attractive Women List Update

Over time, I have made incremental progress on my Most Attractive Women List, drawing mainly from the worlds of entertainment and politics. Here's where we are currently:

  • Cameron Diaz- Had a strong showing on Jimmy Fallon
  • Mary-Louise Parker- Hottest dealer around
  • Jennifer Granholm- America's most attractive governor
  • Jodie Foster- Attractive superficially, but the substance of her is even more so
  • Angelina Jolie- similar to Jodie, but somewhat more emphasis of surface beauty
  • Michelle Obama- Smoking hot and whip-smart. Oh, those arms!
  • Jennifer Connelly- One of my oldest crushes, this one goes back to Labyrinth. Has the planet's best eyebrows.
  • Salma Hayek- Beautiful, exotic, funny

Today, I begin my Historic Most Attractive Women List with one name: Anais Nin. You're just going to have to read her work to get why.

My friend Andy's website

I've found myself spending a lot of time at my friend Andy's website, PsychoAndy.com, and it's accompanying forums. This lets me write things that don't seem called for here, perhaps because there is no one else here to work with and off of. It's a good outlet, and leads me to write what I consider some funny stuff. I could start a forum of my own, but clearly that's not called for as yet. I have a long way to go before I achieve the popularity of Andy's stuff. Of course, he's been at it for several years, so it's understandable.


I don't know why, exactly, but I love Sharpie markers. They're good markers, and are made in America, which is a plus. They're handy to have on a film set, not to mention many other places. I sense, though, that my affection for them goes beyond their utility. I don't know why that is. I finger the marker, and look around the room to things to use it on. It was like this when I had a Zippo lighter. I don't know what happened to that, but I don't smoke, so I seldom had a practical use for it and it would just go dry in idleness. It's an odd thing

The music video

A week ago, I was production coordinator for a music video shot by a neighbor of mine. I was involved in the project for a relatively short period of time, coming in just a few days before the shooting days.

My first involvement was last Saturday. I made a late run to In-n-out, getting a double double and fries (both animal style) with a Dr. Pepper. I came back and did some work with the director readying for Monday. Same thing Sunday, except I was starting to prepare Monday's call sheet. After that, I went down to the location to move some gear around. That included a fake piano which we borrowed from a bar/performance space. The guy on stage that night was drunk and not too good.

Bad Directions

When people ask for directions, I feel like I need to give them something. I may not know where they're trying to go or how to get there, but I don't want to just say "I don't know", even when that's the prudent thing to say. After I've been living in this apartment building this long, you'd think I'd know where the different numbers were, but I pointed some guy in entirely the wrong direction, and can't shake an unhappy feeling in spite of how little impact my bad directions had. Maybe it makes me think that bad directions I've given in the past had more severe consequences.

Some time ago, I was working an American Idol audition at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. I'd never set foot in the stadium or looked at a seating chart, but there I was telling people where their assigned seating was to await their auditions. I might have steered every single person wrong that day, and it was a long day. I guess it worked out all right. I'm still pretty lousy at giving directions.

Beisbol, el juego bonita verdad

Baseball season is about upon us, and with my beloved Suns doing so little to distract me from it, you may well hear my thoughts on the Pastime from time to time between now and the fall, especially on the occasions when I should wander into Dodger Stadium for a game. This isn't a sports blog, so as always, this subject will fit within the context of my day to day life.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just this

I'm not a fan of this thing the Jonas Brothers do. It feels very inauthentic, like when the Osmonds sang "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock N' Roll". I don't like my musical acts to be flagrantly clean-cut. If they are, fine, but none of this flaunting it. I'm ready for these guys to end.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Weekend

The next few days are jammed with activities, by my standards. Tomorrow and Sunday the Wold Baseball Classic semi-finals are being held. The final is Monday. Saturday night, just after that day's semi-final, I'm supposed to go to a screening of a past film I worked on. I want to very much, assuming I can manage it. Monday and Tuesday, I'm working on a shoot for a friend and neighbor here in my building. I hope that I can make it to the Final that evening, but have to prioritize my career even over a game that only happens one every few years and is being held in one's town.

Now that I look at what I've typed, it seems like a neater, less busy period of time than I'd imagined. I guess that's the result of converting thoughts into writing.


Another entry in the entropy ledger.. I was trying to get some powdered creamer for my coffee when my travel mug( a Dodgers giveaway) came tumbling down onto the floor of the kitchen. The damage to the mug was fairly superficial, but it is now forever imperfect to me, in spite of its continued capability to contain hot beverages. I guess I'll have to get another.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Irish

St. Patrick's Day has just come and gone, leaving me wondering what I know about the Irish. I know I'm not one of them. I suppose that I'm against them in a sense, in that my father's side is English. That's something I know, that there's historical enmity between the Irish and the English. These days, I guess the Catholic Irish are against the English and the Protestant Irish are for. Then again, The Troubles mainly seem to be past with some exceptions.

Ireland seems to be rather beautiful, but has doled out a considerable amount of hardship to its native sons and daughters. Boy, I love potatoes, but what that blight did to the Irish... In recent years a leaner and meaner Ireland was cleaning up on the world economy, but currently, they're hurting as badly as any first-world nation.

The Irish have a certain reputation for drinking and fighting, but I've never seen evidence to suggest that they're any more disposed to those activities than anyone else. I do enjoy their spirits, though. On the positive side, I do know they've made considerable contributions to the arts, though I'd be hard pressed to say what most of them are.

I guess that's most of what I know.

A Tasty Treat

Something that I happen to enjoy eating is that particular British dish: fish and chips. Even though we call the Belgian invention fries rather than chips, we still call the British meal fish and chips. For the uninformed, the chips are made and served in the conventional fashion, and the fish is served battered and breaded. Purists will have their fish and chips served on newspaper.

My first encounter with the dish was at a Phoenix-area chain known as Pete's Fish and Chips. More recently, I've had it here in LA at H. Salt Fish and Chips, as well as Denny's and Jack In The Box(!). Surprisingly, fish and chips cannot be counted on regardless of where it's obtained. It must be well handled to be delicious. Have it, and enjoy it, unless you call yourself a vegetarian. Animal muscle tissue is animal muscle tissue, and I don't cotton to half-hearted vegetarians.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Getting Back On the Horse

Like many, I'm a Netflix subscriber. Most of us find that at one time or another, our discs just sit around for a long time for lack of the will to watch them. Such has been the case for me since perhaps a couple of weeks before the Oscars. At that time, I received "The Duchess" starring Keira Knightley, and just could not get myself to put it on until now. Well, having finally watched it, I enjoyed it sufficiently to give it three stars out of five, and will now offer comment on those films that I watch if I'm moved enough to do so.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Tribute To One Of The Greats

At a relatively early early age, I began taking an interest in certain things that isolated me from many of the other people my age. My interest in movies wasn't particularly unusual, but many of my tastes in film might be considered so. My appreciation of Vincent Price would be an example.
Probably the first time I saw him, though, was in Edward Scissorhands. I can't say that he made a serious impression on me at the time, but he would.

When other young people were watching the things that young people watch, I was watching Price act in Roger Corman's adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe poems and stories. From there it was his later stuff, such as Theater of Blood. And although he's really only known for his work in horror, I've also enjoyed him in other works such as "Laura". So he's definitely one of my favorite actors.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I did end up going to the improv class. It went well. It's not easy for me to get into improv games ahead of other people who also want to be in on them, but once I get into them, I seem to do fairly well. I feel pretty good about prepared material that I come up with, but I could probably improve at thinking on my feet in the way that you need to with this kind of thing. Whether participating or watching, though, the improv class is fun. I intend to continue coming when it doesn't conflict with paying work as it has a number of times recently.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Plumbing, toastmasters and more

Yesterday evening, while the roommate was doing his part to clean up after that party, the sink went bust, causing us inconvenience and our neighbor water damage. That led to the handy man coming over last night to look at it. He couldn't fix it there and then, so he decided what he needed so that he could fix it this morning. I was left with the task of being around at 8 this morning for the guy. U think he didn't come until 9 or something like that. He had it straightened out in time for me to get to my meeting, though that would have been easier If he had finished a few minutes before. As it is, it worked out.

Regular readers (of whom there are now some) may be aware that on Thursday I have my toastmasters meeting. That remained true today, and I filled a new role for me. Whereas in the past I have filled such diverse roles as speaker, grammarian and table topics master, today I was an evaluator. When I'm asked to do something, I'm glad to do it, but on this occasion, I was somewhat apprehensive about evaluated someone else at this relatively early stage of my own development.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How A Small Dinner Becomes A Party

Well, around mid-day yesterday my roommate told me that some people would be coming over the next night. That night, it became that a group of people were coming for dinner. Tonight, perhaps by no one's conscious doing, it went from dinner party to very nearly just a party. Dinner was served, but was not confined to a table. Liquor was served independently of dinner. Anyway, it's fine.

The food was pretty good, although it was not all to my ordinary tastes. There was rice, some kind of bean soup, some kind of vegetarian meat substitute, fried bananas and plantains, a carrot and onion thing, and cake. Alcohol, as I said- beer, white and red wine, vodka, whiskey.
The parties here tend to have a great deal of European expatriates and therefore a certain amount of conversation in foreign languages. Not understanding some of the conversation can be a social hindrance, but I didn't observe a problem tonight.

Anyway, a good time was had by all, unless someone didn't have a good time but kept it to themself.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Greatest Comedy Team Of All Time

Turner Classic Movies is running "A Night at the Opera". This led me to reflect on my lifelong love of the great and legendary Marx Brothers.

One of my father's best gifts to me in my youth was to pass on a deep affection for certain pieces of pop culture. James Bond (in Ian Fleming's novels as well as the Saltzman/Broccoli teams's films) is one. The British comedy series and PBS staple "Are You Being Served" is another. The work of the Marx Brothers might be the best of all that my father imparted to me. Probably my favorites were Duck Soup, Horse Feathers, A Night at the Opera, and A Night in Casablanca.

The Peace Gathering

Last night I participated in an event known as a peace gathering. It's a religious gathering based on the principles of the Bahá'í faith which occurs each month and is put on by a friend. Poetry and excerpts from religious texts are read, music is performed, and people offer insights on life. I myself offered a quotation from Aeschylus' Agamemnon.

Not to get sidetracked, but I have misgivings about quoting and reading the work of others. I feel it's my privilege to enjoy it, but I also feel that it's my responsibilty to offer something of my own. That being said, I did quote Aeschylus last night and regularly quote favorite song lyrics and other works regularly on this very blog, so I guess I have to come down on the side of it being all right in moderation.

The World Baseball Classic Comes Around Again

Currently, the opening round of that event is being played in several cities around the world. I have a number of thoughts about it.

I still don't care for the name "World Baseball Classic". It sounds like some kind of charity exhibition, and not a serious international competition. It ought to be called the Baseball World Cup, putting it in line with other events of its kind.

I'm also personally critical of some of the tournament rules. There's a rule for pitch count, and a mercy rule, and others, I gather. I guess I wish they could play by MLB rules, but I'm cognizant of the need for an international standard of play.

All that aside, I'm very interested in the tournament. I'm hopeful that someday the event could have the same stature as the soccer or cricket World Cups.

Jimmy Fallon: The First Week

As alluded to in the above title, the first week of broadcasts from "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" has come and gone. After the first episode, there was some notion that he was starting off poorly. People who thought so suggested that such segments as "Lick It For Ten" did not rise to a high level of quality. They also observed that Fallon was visibly nervous and the overall quality of the show was lesser as a result.

The response to this line of thought was quick in coming, and was maybe most prominently expressed by Pat O'Brian, formerly of Access Hollywood and The Insider. Such people are advocating patience and reminding viewers of the long and slow march towards competence and popularity that marked the early years of Conan O'Brien's tenure on the show.

I have some criticisms of my own. Although an intimate connection between the tv broadcasts and the show's website presents intriguing possibilities for the future, I think Fallon has plugged the website too frequently. He might look to Stephen Colbert's show for how to integrate online presence gracefully.

I enjoy the show overall, however, and look forward to watching Fallon grow into the position.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Most Attractive Women List Update

Just a quick note- Her appearance on last night's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" has catapulted Cameron Diaz somewhere into the current top 10 on my Most Attractive Women list. More on that in future as I continue to cogitate.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Story of Contrasts on Your Radio Dial

I don't know whether it would be apparent, but I was a fan of Paul Harvey. I guess his politics were perhaps different from mine, but I didn't feel it was a hindrance to enjoying his broadcasts. The stories were addictive, and his voice was a smooth delivery for the day's news.

A very different person is Rush Limbaugh, who seems to be abnormally prominent in the news even for him. I'm not going to rehash his past controversies, but suffice it to say that I'm not a fan. I disagree with his opinions, I don't care for his means of voicing them, and I resent him personally. He and I even part ways on what the facts are.

I don't mean to get carried away with my animus for Limbaugh. I was just struck by the power he seems to exert over elected conservatives. Those who wrong him make certain to make restitution, and they do so fast. Why? What is Limbaugh's good will worth? I'd rather get washed out of politics than kowtow to him, and I'd say the same thing about a liberal counterpart.

He's taken falls before, but I hope he goes down for good someday, and I hope I'm there to see it.


I believe I may have previously written about dreams. A few nights go, I had the most peculiar dream about my father owning some kind of storage building. In it was a collection of my books. Last night, I dreamed that a certain generous soul bought me a car. It seemed to be some kind of dark-toned sedan.

Analyze away, Freud.

Working hard

Some people will try to tell you that jobs don't get harder than the back-breaking labor of ditch-digging or the selfless sacrifice of the armed forces. Surely they don't know of video editing. I find that it leaves me with precious little time and energy for such worthy pursuits as blogging. Still, I soldier on.

Although I imagine not so many people know it, today is an election day here in Los Angeles. I get an automatic mail ballot, but with the aforementioned work on my mind, I neglected to send it off in time. I was therefore compelled to deliver it to my polling place in person.

There's something special about the polling place. What we do there, the people and the things we see when we go. That's separate from the sacred task of self-determination. Anyway, if you see me, be sure to comment on my "I voted" sticker.