Sunday, May 31, 2009

On "Speed Racer"

I did a few things today. First was church, which was good. Then came some sporting events. I watched some of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and then switched to the dodgers-cubs game. After that finished, I put on the second of my netflix discs: "Speed Racer". I have fewer things to say about this film than I thought I would. I wasn't crazy about it. There were lots of exciting things to look at, but there wasn't really anything in the story that grabbed me. It was the sort of plot that was apt to show up in the original series, but that doesn't make it appropriate for an expensive film version.

Perhaps what the situation called for was the sort of re-imagining that Battlestar Galactica got. I'd say that such an effort on the part of the Wachowski brothers was surprising, but after all these years, the only good thing they've had was the first Matrix movie.

I still have the second disc of "The Tudors" season 1 to watch, and I may offer impressions of that when I get to it.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On "Scanners"

I watched the first of the three discs I had received from netflix- David Cronenberg's 1980 film Scanners. Every time I watch one of his movies or one of Larry Cohen's for the first time, it feels like this low-rent nugget of gold that only I know about. It's like it's this personal thing that belongs to me, that I can share with who I like. It takes me back to roaming the aisles of the video store and spotting something with awesome cover art, bringing home, and realizing I've stumbled across something amazing and practically life-changing.

Cronenberg's work, at least until his last couple, is also intensely weird and twisted. It's a little less so when compared to the work of Guy Maddin, but still pretty twisted. In this one, certain people on Earth have telepathic powers, and Cronenberg exploits that premise well in his story of good telepaths against evil ones. I don't give things away, but suffice it to say that Scanners possesses qualities of dread and eeriness that don't exist in today's works of science fiction and horror. Some of the entries in that genre made today are good, but none are like Scanners. Check it out.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Latest From Netflix

Recently, Scanners, Speed Racer and the second disc from The Tudors season 1. I'm looking forward to watching these, though the second of those was evidently poorly regarded. Reviews to come.

Two Buck Butler

A little while ago, I got back from an improv comedy showcase event after which this post is named. I thought I would write some about it, as I generally seem compelled to do these days. My roommate (who also performed) and I left North Hollywood around 6 o'clock. Originally, I was going to go with a friend from Toastmasters, but it worked out better the other way. I met her there, and she seemed to have a very good time at the show.My roommate and I stopped at 7-11, where I got a hot dog, chips and soda. Little did I know what would transpire later. We then got to the location in Culver City right on time at 7. The show would not start for another hour, so we had time to get ready. At first, it was relaxed, and we chatted with people a bit. We then separated into our individual groups to go over our events and warm up. It's good that we did so, because many of the games were new to me.

The show then started, and it was a good crowd. The room, which was of good size, was pretty full. First up was a standup comedian, who wasn't bad. Then came two or three improv groups, and we followed after that.We started with Go, which is a fairly vanilla game wherein two people just go out and start something, ending only when the leader says Go! again, which calls for two new people. I believe I had a good one. After that, I believe it was myself and another guy who played Mannequin. This one has been seen on Whose Line Is It Anyway? Two people go up, but cannot move. Two other people do that for them, and the first two must make something up based on the movements made for them. We started with the suggestion of Subway, so he was an employee and I was a customer. I pulled a gun on him when he didn't make my sandwich fast enough. It worked fairly well.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fourth Speech

I just got out of my Toastmasters meeting, where I gave the fourth of my speeches. This one's objective was "How to say it". I gave a speech about my many trips to Dodger Stadium, and it seemed to go fairly well. I still have improvements to make physically. My evaluator said that I did well when I was away from my lectern, so I need to focus on that more. Also, I need to improve on eye contact. Those things aside, it was a good rebound from my troubled speech of three weeks ago.

Tonight, I perform improv before a paying audience in culver city, so I'll let you know how that goes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Where is that SOB?

Nothing worse than waiting for some jerk to show up at your home during the generous 12 hour window he's given himself that you have to be available for. Cable , internet, a package you have to sign for, doesn't matter what it is. It's the worst. It's especially bad for me here, as difficult as it seems to be to hear when there's someone at the door. I keep things quite for the whole of that time to make sure I hear the light knock at the door by some pillow-handed repairman.

Not that they're really that bad as people, and they generally know their job. I feel bad about hating them sight unseen all day when they show up. In a way, it would feel better if I still didn't like them once I saw them. That's often how it is when you get someone on the phone after calling support. In that case, though, you don't have to wait as long to get someone. It could feel like a while, and might be half an hour or an hour or something like that, but you don't have to clear your day for it. God, I hate waiting for people to come around here.

Adaptations & Sequels

All of us who consume pop culture and media content are faced with the quandary of how to handle the consumption of materials based on or derived from other previously exiting material. That is to say, movies based on books, graphic novels, tv shows, other movies, action figures, and so on. Also, of course, any others of that ilk based another of it.

The most common issue is that books and comic books are adapted into movies, and that movies are remade and made sequels of. Where it's a matter of book being made into movie, some people feel good about having read the book or comic book first. The problem there is that this invariably makes the viewing of the resulting movie less pleasurable, as one is burdened with the expectations rising from knowledge of the source material. I find it difficult to say which way might be better. When a movie is remade or a sequel is made of it, it's more straight forward. You see the original movie first, and then the sequel or remake.

Then, of course there are all the other forms of adaptation. It becomes too much of a mess for my ability to articulate opinions on it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Orson Welles & Don Quixote

Yesterday, in addition to the films I wrote about then, I also watched Orson Welles' Don Quixote. I think that I needed some time for my thoughts to percolate.

I never had read the book or seen any other adaptation prior to this, and while I feel I now have some idea of what it's about, I don't think that Welles gives a really pure and complete realization of the source material. This seems to have been one of the numerous films he made overseas under reduced circumstances. Early in his film career, Welles shined very brightly and burned bridges. Thusly, after Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Third Man, and Touch Of Evil, Welles found himself making The Trial in eastern Europe, and this film in Spain, along with others, never with the backing he once enjoyed.

This film was kind of interesting. Ultimately I had to come out against it, but appreciated the sensibility with which it operated. Though their dialogue was dubbed by other actors, the ones appearing on screen were enjoyable to watch. The interplay between Don Quixote and Sancho Panza was fairly good. It was peculiar that the modern world should intrude on the period in which the story is set. I wonder whether that was a deliberate choice, or whether limited means necessitated that.

As I said, I didn't really care for it, but will always watch the output of someone like Welles. As they say, even his failures are worth watching.

Monday, May 25, 2009

On "Redbelt"

"Redbelt" was of interest to me mainly because of the involvement of David Mamet. I can't recall whether it was "Glengarry Glenross" or "The Spanish Prisoner" which I saw first, but I found them both to be fabulous, and have been a fan of David Mamet since. He has a particular quality to his work which agrees with me. His films are populated with hard, driven people (mainly men). They're aggressive and cool, and their dialogue sounds like no real person I've ever heard. Often the plots become quite complicated and labyrinthine. Even so, I think that he often captures truth.

With this film, he does not really rise to the level of previous works. At least, that's the case in my estimation. I like it alright, if only to see the very skilled character actors who frequently appear in Mamet's projects. Actors like Ricky Jay, David Paymer, Joe Mantegna and others may not be able to carry films on their own, but add a certain immeasurable depth and richness that I personally highly prize.

Not a bad idea, but not executed as well as it might have been. I did find the lead actor to be ok. Perhaps he might achieve acclaim in another film. He'll probably warrant that.

On "Freedom's Fury"

Some time ago the famous "Blood In The Water" match of the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics came to my attention. I'm as interested as anyone when politics intersect with athletics, since those two subjects are two of my favorite. Either one is capable of inflaming my passions sufficiently to make me lose my composure.

Now, about that match: In the weeks leading up to those Games, a popular uprising came about in Hungary against the occupying Soviet Union. The freedom fighters succeeded in driving out the Soviets, but it further transpired that the latter party was able to re-invade and brutally put down the revolution after some thirteen days.

Memorial Day Thoughts

I neglected to post yesterday, transgressing my established policy of posting every day. I'll try to not let it happen again.

Among the assortment of officially recognized holidays, I can think of few that we continue to observe as originally intended. They mostly seem to fall victim to commercialism or having a good time. I could talk about the origins of those holidays, but that's really another matter.

Today is Memorial Day. We are meant to honor our military men and women who died in service of the nation. Many may be ignorant of that, or regard the day as the first chance to get in the swimming pool and fire up the grill. There are official functions to mark the day, I'm sure, but I just humbly keep the dead in my thoughts and hope that my life is a validation of their sacrifice.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Valiant Women Of The Diamond

Upon request, here are a few words regarding the ongoing NCAA women's softball tournament. I'm unable to speak knowledgeably about the big picture, but do have this to say:

My sympathies lie with the Lady Gators of Florida, due to my family's long history with that school (Briefly, numerous blood relatives have either earned degrees there or made their careers there as tenured faculty). Since the Gators are a number one seed, I expect their run may well continue through the end of the tourney.

I have some other thoughts about women's softball and of the college game for both men and women.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Getting back into LA routines proves to be not too hard after the frenetic activity of the past week with the family. Toastmasters on Thursday, church on Sunday, improv on Monday, work, work-related activities and social activities the rest of the week. Funny how much can happen and change when one is gone just a short time. At this point, I would say that I'm fairly well caught up, and hoping to write some great stuff here soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Ride Home

The bus ride back to LA from Phoenix was probably one of the best I've ever had. First off, there was no line at the ticket counter, and there's always a long, long line. Second, I had expected to get on the last bus of the night, but wound up on the one before that, which hadn't left yet. Actually, it wound up leaving 45 minutes late, but I left earlier than I had anticipated.

Before the bus left, a security guard came on and announced that he was looking for pot that was on the bus. He started feeling luggage in the overhead bins. I don't think that's an effective method of finding it. There was also a discrepancy. I thought he said two pounds of pot, but other people heard 10 pounds- a more difficult amount to hide easily.

Also of note- a stand-up comedian was in a seat behind me. I would have ascribed more importance to that if I thought he was any good, but how good could he be if he likes Ralphie May so much?

After that, I actually managed to sleep quite a bit, and it was a fast trip with just one intermediate stop. Once in LA, it was an hour long trip back to my place by two buses and the subway. I got back to my place around 7, and relaxed until it was time for Toastmasters.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Most Painful Game

I depend on clothes as much as anyone, both to protect myself from the elements and to cover myself. I'm not entirely unparticular about what I wear. I like some things more than others, and have some interest in being fashionable. One of the hardest things for me to do, though, is to shop for clothes. First I have to decide on what I want in general, from which the selection of store follows. Then, I must decide on what I want exactly. A lot of decisions are involved. And then the time comes to find what fits. This last thing is easy for most articles of clothing, but is tough for pants and about impossible for shoes. I hate clothes shopping.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shipping Out

Tomorrow, I'll be finally heading back to LA. I don't say finally because I've been desperate to get out of here, although I do tend to get restless after staying for too long. It's just that since Sunday I kept thinking I was leaving that night, and then ended up not doing that. It's been a good trip though, and I've achieved mainly what I intended to.

When I do get back, I expect some very good things to happen for me, so we'll just have to see how things transpire from that point.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Drivin' Around

Today, I helped out a family friend by driving her to some appointments and errands. Ultimately it's tiring, but I was glad to help someone who's been very kind and generous to me. First, it was a doctor's appointment. Then, a package needed to be mailed. Lastly, a trip into central Phoenix for one last task.

At that point, a breather was needed, so we headed back to base and relaxed for a bit before heading to this blogger's childhood home and getting some tasty NYPD pizza. Then, I dropped of our family friend and went back to the family house to spend some time with Dad. Tomorrow, it's Mom time, and in the evening, I head back to our nation's second most populous city.

Yet Another Day

I'll be staying another day here, perhaps leaving tonight or in the morning. If anything notable happens, I'll offer comment, but don't expect anything big. If I'm moved to write something of a creative nature, I'll do so. We'll just see about that. It's a possibility.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Last Hurrah

Today, the main event was an excursion with my good friend and comics entrepeneur. We had talked about seeing a movie, and made good on our talk. I had thought of seeing the first showing of Star Trek, which was 10:45. That was not to be. Possible was 1:30 or 1:45. That came and went as we waited for more friends to join in the fun. As various setbacks mounted, we found ourselves seeing the 4:45 showing at Shea 14.

This was when things starting working out. It was a fine movie, and I enjoyed the company of my friend as well as his friends, who seem to like me. I find that an attractive quality in others. The group proposed to keep things rolling, but I opted out due to prior commitments for the remainder of the evening. My plan had been to leave tonight, but I now expect to stay at least through tomorrow evening.

The Party

Yesterday morning, I woke up at the reasonable hour of 8. It was a nice, leisurely start to the day with coffee and all that. I was really by myself until something like 1. Ultimately, my sister and her boyfriend came over, and preparations for the party began. I got a haircut, and came back to find the food was there. Soon, people started coming over.

Like most parties I seem to be at, this one was mainly made up of people I never met before. I did fairly well finding people to talk to- people I did know, and some I didn't. I didn't drink too heavily- a lot more than I would on an ordinary day, but less than the larger part of the guests. I wound up getting roped into a few shots, but had just three or so beers prior to that late point in the party.

The party was fairly nice. There were older adults, kids, and college-age students, and people mixed fairly well. Towards 10 or 10:30, the older crowd drifted out and things got a slight bit wilder. By midnight, I'd had my fill, but when you're sleeping at the location of the party, you have little choice but to wait the party out. I helped clean, but opted out of the inevitable process of working out who was leaving or staying the night and all of that. Finally, it got to the point where everyone was gone or bedded down for the night. Tragically, I lost my private room, and slept for the night on an admittedly huge and comfortable couch. I would have but four hours of sleep, but knowing my sleeping habits, I consider the four hours a blessing from God. Many times in the same situation, I've gotten nothing and crashed during mid-morning of the following day.

I could have slept more, but dad wanted to go hiking, and here in the Valley of the Sun, you go hiking early or brave triple digit temperatures and crowds as well. That brings us into today, which is another story.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Preakness: The Outcome

I accept your congratulations on picking the winner. It finishes with Rachel Alexandra winning, Mine That Bird second, and Musket Man third. Belmont stakes in three weeks. No chance of a Triple Crown winner, but should still be fun.

The Preakness

Like many, I develop a spontaneous interest in horse racing during the running of the Triple Crown races. It began with the Kentucky Derby a couple weeks back. Today, the Preakness in Baltimore, which has been fighting to hold on to the historic race. Not helping, The Wire... Rounding it out in a while, the Belmont Stakes in New York.

For the Preakness, I thought I'd record a pick. Here's the line on the field:

Rachel Alexandra: 8-5
Pioneer of the Nile: 5-1
Flying Private: 5-1
Mine That Bird: 6-1
Friesan Fire: 6-1
Musket Man: 8-1
Big Drama: 10-1
Papa Clem: 12-1
General Quarters: 20-1
Take The Points: 30-1
Terrain: 30-1
Lov Guv: 50-1
Tone It Down: 50-1

Of course, Mine That Bird was the second biggest upset victory in Kentucky Derby history. I'm leaning away from that one. My pick is Rachel Alexandra.

Of course, my favorite horse all time, edging out Smarty Jones, is Zippy Chippy. Hard not to like that one.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pop Culture Questions

I thought that I would take some famous questions out of pop culture, and answer them as best I can. To begin:

Jimi Hendrix: "Are You Experienced?"

My reply: To a moderate degree, I am. As compared to other my age, probably I'm less experienced than the average. Compared to my elders, certainly I barely have any. I'm coming along though, and being in LA separate from friends and family has lent itself to the breaking of new ground on my part. Now, if it's a yes or no to whether I'm experienced in the sense that Jimi probably meant, I would have to say, "No".

Doctor Pepper/7-Up Company asks: "Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too?"

This calls into question my identity, suggesting that I am what I drink, not just in the sense that I am its contents, but that I am its brand. The question pre-supposes that I'm not a Pepper already, and I'd say that's probably true. But could I be a Pepper in any case? I don't feel I could be strictly loyal to that drink and that brand. Even if I could, would that shape and form my identity so fully? I can't agree that it would. Would I like to be a Pepper (were it possible) in addition to presumed others who are such now? I feel that my current identity, formed by the contributions from my parents in addition to somewhat accurate observations about my various traits made by those who know me, is sufficient, and would not be improved by such a switch as the people behind Dr. Pepper suggest. The answer, then? A clear and firm "No".

There you have it: negative answers on both questions looming large in my mind. Now, that's enough for now. Perhaps I'll revisit this notion in the future.


Today's event, the actual graduation of my sister and the rest of the liberal arts undergrads and masters students, happened at the ASU basketball arena. To comment:

We did not need to use the light rail. It worked out well to just park near the arena and walk in. Security was easy, and lines nonexistent, really. The event went on longer than expect, and was only less than engaging during the recitation of the many names which were not my sister's. All speakers were interesting and eloquent.

My need of the bathroom following the ceremony separated my father and I from the rest of our party, but we found them after a short time. I and two others had lunch in one place, while the rest ate at another. This was not by design, but due to circumstances which made it impossible for us all to eat together.

As I think I may have indicated, the next and last event will be a party here where I'm staying tomorrow night. Tonight, I hope to relax. Maybe I can get a haircut, and perhaps other things apart from the party. Let it be know that I will make an effort to dance if dancing occurs. If not, I will stage a photo of me dancing. That way, I look like a good dancer and fun at a party. If I have to dance for real, I will probably look like little more than a good sport, but perhaps still fun at a party because of it. We'll just see how events transpire and the pictures come out.

Visiting a friend

Yesterday, I made the necessary pilgrimage to visit my friend who lives in town. He owns a comic book store with his family, which is an awesome place to hang out, and to buy the finest in comics. I spent some eight or nine hours there, and it was like nothing. We caught up in conversation, talked about the store and comics, and dealt with customers. At one point, we went out for mongolian barbecue, returning for movie night with his friends.

The film chosen was Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai. I had seen it before a number of times, but enjoyed it again. I then went home after a little more conversation. I was up a little longer after heading home, reading some of my comics, but was asleep before too long.

Comments functioning

If you previously attempted to leave a comment on a post and found that you couldn't, you should now be able to do so, as I have made a change in the settings that seems to have corrected the problem.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Checking in

I don't know if I'll get the chance to write today about my sister's college commencement. I still hope to do that, as well to describe my exploits at the finest comic book store in creation. If not today, look for that tomorrow.

ASU Commencement 2009

After an interval of uninteresting events following my arrival in Phoenix, it was time for the first event marking my sister's graduation. This would be the commencement, at which all the graduates, administrators and faculty gather. The graduation itself is divided into smaller groups, so that all the graduates can be recognized.

So I drove over to my sister's boyfriend's place, and met them there. I was easily able to penetrate the apartment complex's layers of security without help from the boyfriend. We talked casually while waiting for the rest of our party. Dad came, but Mom was late, and he stayed to wait for her while the rest of us went ahead.

The plan was to take the light rail to the stadium, as there is a station by the apartment complex. There was a little uncertainty about the best station to get off at, but we seemed to work it out.

We were under the impression that we would have to wait in line outside the stadium for an hour and a half and go through strenuous security, but those concerns were not entirely founded. The lines moved fairly briskly, and the security was certainly less severe than at an airport.

Inside, it was hot, but otherwise good. Soon enough, my parents arrived, and we enjoyed the preliminary parts of the event, which were largely school musical acts. Eventually, Dash Cooper and his band played Magic Carpet Ride and Eighteen. He was followed by his father Alice Cooper, who played the obligatory School's Out For Summer.

That was followed by the graduation itself. There were introductions of the faculty from different schools of the university, as well as a group of graduates from 1959. There were also some introductions of particularly notable students who graduated this year with great distinction or who overcame adversity to graduate as such from high school with plans to attend ASU in the fall.

Eventually, the big man had his turn to speak. He was introduced by the university president, who took half as much time to introduce Obama as the president himself took to speak. The introduction was a ringing endorsement of the president- somewhat surprising, considering the school deemed him unworthy of an honorary degree, which is generally considered obligatory for such speakers.

The president's speech was a good one. It was noted that he did not seem to be using a teleprompter, though one was there for him. The content was good- inspiring at times, humorous at others. It felt pretty great to be there in the stadium with him.

After the speech by Obama, we headed out, finding the crowds leaving much larger than those on the way in. I reasoned that while the school staggered arrival times on the tickets, they could hardly do so for departures. We found it necessary to board a bus bridging the gap caused by a closed light rail station. We then board an actual train, and walk from there to the apartment complex to get to our cars. I had left a jacket upstairs, which I retrieved before leaving.

Now, my phone had been acting up. I think that the battery gauge was mis-calibrated somehow, so I thought I had fully charged it, but it wore down as if it were charged more like a quarter or a half of the way. It was done by the time I was ready to go home, so I couldn't use my gps. I just went to washington, took that to 44th st, and then followed that north to Shea, which I took over to Scottsdale Rd. From there, I went a bit south until I came to the right neighborhood road to get to the house where I'm staying. A circuitous rout, perhaps, but a functional one for someone sometimes rather poor at navigation.

I then went to bed, having slept just an hour in the preceding night.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

From LA to Phoenix: Greyhound-style

I've become accustomed to taking Greyhound rather than a plane, as long as the bus ride is shorter than a day. It's not without unpleasantness, but it's been a while since I heard an airline travel story entirely comprised of happiness.To recount this most recent trip: My plan yesterday was to take public transportation to the bus station. My roommate offered to take me as far as the subway station, from which I would need to catch a connecting bus. First, my roommate, a guest and I went for pizza. By the time the pizza arrived, I really needed to get going, so they took me to the subway and I got on it with my pizza. Having food on trains and buses has yet to be a problem for me.

The subway was fine; it was uneventful, really. I had neglected to properly thank my roommate, so I wrote a text that I sent after I got out of the subway. Now, I had to get off at the MacArthur park station, which is something of a rough area. It has more than its share of police squad cars patrolling it. I figure, though, that it can't be too bad as long as Langer's Deli is still there. I caught the connecting bus, but hit a snag after that. The metro website claimed that I should get off at 6th street and Kohler. I never saw such a street as the latter, and the driver didn't know of it. I ended up going some eight minutes past sixth and central, where I really should have gotten off. I got off, crossed the street, and waited for the next bus going back the other way. It turned out to be the same bus and driver making the return trip. He was awfully kind, and I expressed my appreciation. I think I may have gotten to the station some 30 minutes after I intended to.

They tell you to be there an hour early, but I was there just half an hour early- 20 minutes by the time I got to the front of the line in. I was annoyed, because some old Latino man in a cowboy hat was monopolizing the will-call window, where I was supposed to get my ticket after paying online. I ended up getting taken in a different line. Anything can aggravate you if you're behind schedule. I went through security, which did exactly nothing but stand around as I went by. I went over to the line formed behind door 14. This was the line for my bus, and it was as long as it seemed it could possibly be. I really wasn't sure I would get on the bus. I did, but it totally filled up, and as I speak, one person is sitting in the aisle for lack of an actual seat. I'm surprised they even allowed that, but I'd rather be in that position than wait in LA for a bus with a vacant seat.
From there, I had seven hours or so on the bus and at stopping points in between LA and Phoenix ahead of me. I had meant to read, so I pressed the button for my overhead light. It didn't respond, so I held up my lit cell phone to discover that there were no bulbs in the light sockets. Nice.

First half of trip marked by a few things. A guy and three girls, none of whom knew each other, clustered up and talked loud and long enough to draw two loud complaints from a woman a couple rows up. I was concerned that there might be reprisals of some kind. One of the group got off at the halfway point, I turned off a light that had been on for a while, and the remainders of the group were sufficiently quiet not to provoke anything further. I read some, and tried to sleep, but had little success either early or later. I bought a jug of water at one stopping point. It was a combination of two fast food places plus a gas station and convenience store. Had a lot of camping stuff- was just missing a little post office and selection of video rentals. The rest of the trip was uneventful. I've made the bus ride from LA to phoenix and back along I-10 enough times that I know it pretty well. As I write this I'm out in front of the station waiting for my ride. At this point I'm in pretty good shape.

That's all for now. I'll have more to say after the commencement and President Obama's speech tonight.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Getting on a night bus to Phoenix close to midnight, will write about the trip and post something by morning. First, though, pizza and soft drinks with guests!

Business Meals

I met someone for lunch last week to discuss business, and had a late breakfast today with someone for the same purpose. You have to be careful. It's a little like an interview, but with certain distinctions and complications. You have to show good manners and all. There's the matter of choosing where and when to eat. You do have to sell yourself and your ideas, but it's not quite as unfamiliar as an interview with someone you've never met, so your first impression may have already been made. These two business meals have been fairly productive. Hopefully they'll yield fruit soon. I'll be able to give more info and a better indication of a positive or negative outcome later.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quick Shoot

I was called on to be an extra in one of my friends' films. It was pretty cool. I wasn't there for long, and didn't have to work hard, but was able to take full advantage of craft services, which was pretty good. Still not really clear on what the plot was. I just saw a few shots from a three day shoot. We shot in one of the theaters in the North Hollywood arts district, which is just down the street from me and is a nice area. Tiny, tiny theater. I'd like to shoot in one of the big ones, like El Portal. Jimmy Kimmel did his show there once, I think.

Bad Food Product Ideas

I've seen a few terrible, terrible ideas for food products. By that I mean they were actual things that were made and which I saw in stores. One was individual "slices" of peanut butter. Another was Goobers, a jar of blended peanut butter and jelly. Tonight I saw another product that is dreadful both in conception and in execution, and I weep for the person who came up with it.

It claims to be a bagel, and is made of bagel material, but is more like a bagel pouch kind of thing. The condiment spread becomes a filling. It's not a disgusting product- it's more of a bastardization. It's a corruption of all that I have ever understood bagels to be. I don't know that it's necessary, but I call on anyone who is inclined to be influenced by my words: shun this product. Spurn it, or we may be subjected to further criminal acts of devised food.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A New Promise

Previously I have promised myself that I would write one post for each day of the month, with no commitment to post every day. So long as I got through 30 posts in a month with that many days, that was sufficient. However, in a new measure of commitment to the growth of the blog, I will now promise a new post every day. I don't believe this will affect the amount or quality of content, but it will hopefully ensure a consistency and reliability that will aid the progress of the blog.

The Trip

Coming up in a few days, I'll be making a pilgrimage back to the old home town. My sister will be graduating from college, and since she made the trip to Chicago for me, I can do no less than head out to Tempe. It should be a good time. There's the commencement, when the president will be speaking. That's the president of the United States, of course. He's good enough to speak, but I guess they're waiting to see how he does before they go out on a limb and grant the president an honorary degree.

After the commencement will be the actually graduation. I believe the former takes place at Sun Devil Stadium, while the latter will occur at the basketball arena, which bears a corporate name I don't care to repeat. Lastly, there will be a party on Saturday. I imagine I'll stay at least through Sunday.

I'll have to try to see what friends are still there. I'll be appearing at the Comic Zone in Scottsdale for sure, and after that I don't know what I'll have time for. There will be no impairment of my ability to continue posting, and I will comment fully on all aspects of the trip that catch my fancy.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Library.

Previously I mentioned going to the library. The public library is, in my opinion, possibly the best thing that public dollars are spent on. It occurred to me after not really writing anything for several days that I had a bit more to say about the matter. I've been in library branches belonging to a few different systems. I have also been a consistent user of the libraries in schools I attended. I'll start with the school libraries. Here's a review of libraries I've used.

Firstly, I remember the library in my first school at Squaw Peak Elementary (I don't know whether they changed the name of the school when they changed the name of the mountain. It would be sad to think they did, all politics aside). It was a simple room with books lining two walls, a corner for public reading, an administrative space, a computer area. I don't think that last area was there when I started kindergarten, just because computers were not so integrated at the time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What lies on the upper lip

Did I look better before I shaved my moustache, or do I look better now without it? You decide.

A View To A Ride

In taking public transportation, you hope that the bus or train comes right away. However, whether you wait a little or a long while, you must wait- and you strain to recognize the signs that your ride is coming. There are the timetables, but who knows how reliable they may be on any given occasion.

On the subway, there's a couple of good indications. You can hear it a little at first, and then it's deafening. At the same time, you can feel a breeze coming through the tunnel from the train barreling in. This can actually precede the noise.


Well the speech was not a success, although I suppose it was not the total failure that the above subject line makes it out to be. As I thought would be the case, execution was where things went awry. I felt I was doing reasonably well until midway through the speech, when I just blanked. Could not remember the next part, or any part after that where I could pick it up again. I did fairly well at not filling the silence with ums and ahs, but indefinite silence was not feasible. I retrieved my notes, which I had put out of reach in the hopes that it would stimulate me into more movement on the stage. I did get away from the podium, but did not move around much.

So I got my notes, and used them to get going again. The rest of my speech was ugly, but at least I brought the train into the station, and even lasted long enough to qualify. Of course I didn't win best speaker, but I had no expectation of doing so.

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Third Speech

I gave my first speech some time ago, and my second fairly recently. Here now is the prepared text for my third speech, in which the speaker considers the goal of the speech. Mine will be partly informational, but mainly persuasive.
People say that I’m funny, and I like to make jokes. Indeed, it’s hard for me to avoid doing so. However, something happened a few short weeks ago that made me feel compelled to be both serious and blunt in composing and delivering this speech. Last month, our attention was briefly fixed on a serious issue that has yet to be fully dealt with. Our attention has moved on to other things, but the problem remains: wide swaths of international waters are rife with piracy of the kind we thought had ended centuries ago. We can’t wait for Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom to save the day. Believe it or not, it’s up to us.

The New Monday

As I think I mentioned, my improv classes are now on Mondays, which makes no real difference other than lessening my activities on Thursday. More significant is the change of instructors. I really liked the previous one, so the new one will take some getting used to, although I imagine he will prove to be as good. Just different. I also mentioned before having coffee with a lady friend from Toastmasters, which was a nice thing to do. She seemed to like my speech, which I will post shortly.

Weekend Activities

From Friday through Sunday, I kept reasonably active. Friday was my friend's Peace Gathering, which was heavy with some very enjoyable music and just a bit of pleasant conversation. As usual, there was some delicious food to nourish the body after doing so for the mind and soul.

On Saturday, I meant to work on my speech, but couldn't refuse the same friend's offer of coming along to a church function, which was fascinating, and was followed by more food. Of course, the line was prodigious, but that's to be expected. It was a gathering of people mainly of Persian descent, which might threaten some, but I always welcome experiences with the new and unfamiliar.

Yesterday, I just went to Mass, which was pretty good. A guest priest from Kansas City advocated for a charity program to aid the poor and elderly in some developing nations. Tonight, it's coffee with a friend and improv on a new night. Tuesday, I give a speech at Toastmasters. Usually that's on Thursday, but this week and I think next also, it's on a different night to accomodate Warner Brothers' need for our usual meeting spaces on Thursdays.


Had a peculiar dream last night, as always. Surprisingly, I still remember a fragment of it. It begins with me in some class, and we're getting graded papers returned (why am I in high school, when during the dream I specifically identify myself as 26?). The teacher makes a point of noting that I received the highest grade in the class, something like 97 percent. Then, somehow I wind up in trouble having used foul language in the paper. Then, my father somehow gets extorted into building an addition onto the house of someone who is a victim of the foul language.

It doesn't really seem like it adds up to anything, does it?