Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chatter In Passing

When I'm out and about, my eyes and ears are always open, except when I'm listening to music, in which case only my eyes are. In any case, I see things and I hear things that maybe some other people miss, and that is their loss. It probably wouldn't matter if they did perceive these things, as they would miss the interest of them. I don't miss it. I relish these things, and sometimes I even manage to find a way in which they may also seem interesting to others.

I don't know if this is one of those times, but what let that stop me? I was crossing the street on the way to the bus when I notices a group of people who were perhaps a family. I considered that they might be tourists given their clothes, but decided that no tourists would be anywhere near the municipal buildings of Burbank, California. I guess they were locals, maybe walking from a nearby residential block to the not terribly distant entertainment district of said city.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bad As They Want To Be

I like sports. There's a lot to learn about life from watching it. You can figure out why some people fail as consistently as they do from observing a team like the Cincinnati Bengals or the Detroit Lions, both of the NFL. The thing is that every team is bad at one time or another. The well-run ones go through a rebuilding process, and emerge as contenders again. The poorly-run teams are always rebuilding, and a closer examination shows why.

There's a saying that applies here: "Even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut". That's true of a team like the Bengals. Even they, inept as they are, sometimes wind up with a very talented player who fleetingly elevates their level of play. I say fleetingly because such players never linger. Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer is retiring rather than continue risking his neck on a terrible Bengals team for paychecks he no longer needs.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Penny Wise

When I was a boy, somehow I wound up with an interest in collecting coins. I pursued this somewhat, and today still have the pair of books meant to contain the many types of pennies manufactured since 1909. I believe there is at least one volume which I do not possess, as those that I have carry me only to 1974. As with many childhood interests, this one dropped off for me after some time, although it remained in a latent form all these years. After all, I still have those books.

I have now recovered them from their remote prison in the closet with the intention of renewing the hobby, if only to the extent of filling out the books I have now. There are in them many empty places for coins, but today I can say there are fewer than there were, as I went through my change jar (a repurposed, now very heavy former pasta sauce jar) in search of any pennies on the list. Happily, I found that there were a number of them, including a number from the fifties, sixties and seventies.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

State Of The Art With A Beating Heart

I think that we too often gloss over the mundane and banal, no matter how amazing it is. Every day, a thousand very impressive technological things quietly operate in the background and periphery without a moment's attention from us. If they should ever fail, our sole reaction is of outrage. I try to be more appreciative on a daily basis for such things as the disposal unit in the sink, among other products on which my happiness and productivity depend.

I got to thinking about this when, once again, I was awed by my little iPod shuffle. It holds hours upon hours of music, yet occupies a fraction of the space that a cassette tape holding maybe one hour ever did, and this does not even take into account the player needed by the tape. Can I really be the only one who holds it in his palm and shakes his head in incredulity, almost angry at this wonderful feat of engineering?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Record?

I have said plenty of times that I walk a lot and that many friends live in my neighborhood. I believe I have already connected the two points to observe that I often encounter those friends by coincidence while engaged in my own business. It is always delightful and sometimes an inconvenient annoyance. As often as these encounters happen, they seldom crop up much in a narrow window of time. Sometimes they do, though.

I recently had one of those times. This will be one of those things that is of interest to no one but me, but I imagine there is little risk for this blog in pandering to that very specific demographic. What happened is that when I left the apartment to visit the library (an excursion you will recall from yesterday), I bumped into a neighbor with whom I'm acquainted. There is naturally no surprise in a surprise meeting with a neighbor, so I saw nothing in that. On I went with my day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Moving On

Wherever you live, there are reasons why you may not be able to go to a particular place where you mean to run an errand. There might be traffic, or you may find they don't have what you need. The place may even be moved away or closed, and this may come as a surprise to you if you don't have reason to go there often. In LA there is an additional reason for being unable to patronize a place, and it does not surprise anyone here. I mean of course the sudden specter of filming underway.

Usually you do get notice. Sometimes the front of my own apartment building bears notices for filming some brief time in the future. Sometimes you don't get notice, as I did not when I went to the library the other day. It is a picturesque one, and probably quite appealing to the filmmaker. In this case, the library served as a location in what I gather to be a spec commercial. This is when someone makes a commercial out of their own pocket for a company that may certainly reject it and leave them holding the bag. I don't much see the sense in it, but if people are doing it then it must work.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I'm Hurt. My Shirt?

I put some thought into what I wear every day. I consider what is most sensible given the weather and my anticipated engagements. I pick something and go on with my day. With most of the garments, it goes no further than that, but sometimes there is more with the shirt I pick. I'll be out doing something and thinking least of all about what my shirt says, and then it'll be the first thing someone notices. They'll say something about it, and I have to think for a bit before I even know what they mean. Even then I don't know really why that's what they want to talk about.

So it was the other day. I had picked out a shirt which advocates drinking vodka until one blacks out. I don't personally do that, but it amuses me enough to wear the shirt. I didn't buy it and likely never would have, but after receiving it as a gift, I liked it enough to put it into rotation. I still don't really related to anyone who earnestly supports its message. I hate to sound like some hipster, but my wearing of it is more ironic than not (and I can't be a hipster if I don't want to be, can I?).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Conquer

I had read something a number of days ago about how the ability to search out information online is now impairing our ability to remember it when it is already stored in our memory. That is to say that you are less able to recall the name of a film's star because you so readily look it up on the internet without spending even a few moments trying to remember. Well, that spurred me into action, as an article about the paucity of US passport holders did when I was in college.

I resolved that I would no longer seek out information on the computer without giving my brain as long as I could spare it to remember the information if I was sure I had known it in the past. Well, it didn't take very long before a piece of information I knew that I had known eluded me at a time when I wanted to know it. You will recall that just a couple of days ago I alluded to this incident. I was coming back from the library with a book on the Spanish Civil War. I had decided on reading it after already reading Elmore Leonard's 'Cuba Libre' and one other book.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Chasedown

I have to beg your pardon, for I have been sitting on an interesting (to me alone, I'm sure) story for a couple of weeks now, and only the constant desperation of having to write something has now brought it to the forefront. I was down in the southern reaches of Hollywood, which is always likely to provoke writing material. I happened to pass what looked like a new restaurant, though I am by no means certain about its newness.

I would have just passed it by, as it was a 'Pescaterian' establishment, and I have always been rubbed the wrong way by such diets. Those who adopt them annoy me, and I shun them myself for fear of mercury poisoning. In any case, knowing pescaterians to be those who only eat the flesh of fish, I was surprised to see a special promoting chicken. As I stood there gaping at the sign and wondering whether this really was any different than a burger place selling tacos, the wheels began to turn within the edifice.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Every day, I publish another post and exhaust another subject. Every day there are more posts. Every day it grows harder to be certain I have not covered a subject in the past, and making matters worse is my poor ability to organize those posts in such a way that I can find the original post if I suspect one exists. There is nothing to depend on but my shoddy memory. I think that I have so far managed to not duplicate in its entirety anything so far. I have sometimes expanded on things previously written of only in passing, but how long can I keep that up?

This is not the only thing to make me fret about that. I have read this thing which states that our capacity for remembering is deteriorating as we punt that responsibility to the comprehensive knowledge of the internet. I have resolved to do my utmost to remember things all by myself whenever it is of little enough urgency that the time can be spared in the recalling. As I write this, I am desperately racking my brain to conjure up the title of a book I recently read. I know the author, the plot, the characters and other works by that author, but the name escapes me. I am refusing any and all aid.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whither Heart

I see strange things when I'm out and about. This is different from the strange things I see when confined to the home for a long stretch, as those are the product of isolation-prompted hysteria, but let me remain on the first kind. My own neighborhood is rich with odd occurrences, and while their high volume renders them largely unremarkable by definition, a few rise up to surpass the bar. In such cases, it would be criminal to keep them to myself and allow them to fade from the annals of history along with my memory.

Just one just incident transpired the other day, and while it may seem mundane enough, I find it peculiar indeed. I had just left an improv class and was standing outside with three fellow participants trying to tell a story about the Arizona state fair with little success. Not helping matters was the jeep which pulled up. Its occupants, which seemed to be a pair of young women, initially questioned us on whether we had been at the Starbuck's.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Weigh-In

As I have recently been praising the hard-boiled egg, it seems worth comparing it with a food which I previously regarded as basically perfect. I speak of the banana. Now, there's no need to determine one better than the other, as it's not a zero sum competition. We are all winners for the constant availability of both. Even so, it's worth figuring when one is the better option if both can be had. I here humbly offer my analysis.

Both are viable for all three meals of the day, but only at breakfast would I call the egg a valid meal-in-one. For lunch and dinner, it really has to be part of something larger. It could be in a salad, for example, and that's really it. It's limited in that sense, and here one might argue that the banana has the edge. The banana works for breakfast (or as a larger part of a more complex one), and also is suitable as a dessert to both lunch and dinner. I'd call this category a wash.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Poboy Is Me

It is not news to anyone that the economy remains in poor shape. Something everyone will have observed is the general rise in the price of commodities. To speak of gas prices does not arouse my interest to any great degree, and not merely because I seldom buy gas. Everybody is talking about gas prices, and I don't make a point of doing what everyone has doing, as I have noted recently. What really makes the problem hit home is a much more insidious case of price inflation.

I have spoken of the pre-made cold cut sandwiches at my local grocery store and how much I love them. They are tasty, ready to go and ample. Rather, I might say, they used to be ample. It did not escape my notice that the stated volume of the sandwiches was seventeen ounces. Now, that's a big sandwich. They are often remarked upon by those who are not privy to them. They frequently made for two very filling meals, and I bought a lot of them.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I've always been different, and in adult life have been glad for it. I do my utmost to be distinct and unique, because I believe that in this lies some of my greatest value. I often go my own way even when the commonly done thing is the more sensible. In short, that I should ever adopt the practice of a friend in any matter is pretty remarkable, and yet that is just what I have done. I appreciate that it lessens the rarity of personality that I cherish, but it was worth it.

For some time I have had one mug which I always used for coffee, and an irregular set of cups for other beverages. The assorted cups I liked because they were mainly gifts, some of which trumpet my fondness of the Arizona Cardinals. I stick with them because they were gifts, and I just love that mug, so it says something that I now have switched to something which is not my own idea, or for that matter that I have violated my disinclination to switch anything ever.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tough As Nails (My Talent Pales)

There is something which has been on my mind for some time, and isn't it fortunate that the idea matured just when I was desperate for something to write about? Now, I had been part of a comedy sketch for church, and it so happened that we were preceded in the program by a dance number. We had little to do with them, but were around them quite a bit as each of our contingents did their own thing. Happily, circumstances permitted us some downtime, but the same cannot be said for the dancers. So it was that I was at liberty to admire the incredible form and work ethic they displayed.

I have my fine qualities, I am prepared to admit. I am fairly knowledgeable, think quickly and have come to decide that I have tolerable looks. I am at peace with the near certainty that I will never make a living on the strength of my body, and am in awe of such persons as these dancers. Watching them prepare in advance of the show, I was as impressed as can be merely by their preliminary stretching and limbering up. I couldn't help but notice the dramatic toll that dancing takes on the body, as they had bandages and wear in such abundance as one would expect of premier athletes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Beach, Beach, Beach

It's hard to knock a day at the beach. Most people don't have the opportunity to go when they like, I think it's fair to say. A big vacation has to be mounted, or the weather is too poor much of the time. Perhaps the time can't be spared from what must be done to keep the lights on and the wolves at bay. The fact that I managed to go at all is a pretty lovely thing, so I appreciate that little sympathy is apt to be forthcoming if I level even modest criticisms for a recent outing.

It sort of came together at the last minute, and I was of two minds about going. I was tired and am more naturally a homebody than an adventurer. That always has to be overcome before I go out. Well, I overcame it, and off to the beach we went, throwing caution to the wind with a major freeway closure threatening to confine us to that end of town should we fail to head home in time later that evening. It was worth it in the main.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sick Of The Bus

I was riding on the bus as I so often do, listening to my music. I get pretty into it, so it's easy for anything around me to escape my notice. I've gotten closer to being harmed through carelessness than I care to admit for that reason. It must have been a pretty awesome song for me to have not noticed what was going on somewhere behind me, though. That I should have missed hearing, seeing or smelling something is the source of significant alarm for me.

I was tipped off by a woman exiting the bus before me. She gestured at the floor, where I noticed a fluid rolling towards the front of the bus under my feet. I took this to be water from the bottle I was carrying. I thanked her for bringing the leak it must have sprung to my attention. Oh, but that's not what it was. I owe her a debt for her persistence in explaining the thing to me, for I would have taken no action except for tightening the lid on the bottle. As it was, I was quick to do something once I knew what it was.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Don't Stop

I understand that a lot of professional comedians favor New York over Los Angeles because it is more conducive to coming up with jokes. It's not that funnier stuff happens there, but when you take trains and walk to get places, you see more of it. You're there on the ground, not zipping through too fast to observe anything except your steering wheel. Well, I may live in Los Angeles, but it seems to me that I have the best of both worlds due to my reliance on public transportation. I've made this clear enough in the past.

Something else happened just before my account of the old man and the scofflaws took place. I was a bit scatterbrained, having had a minor accident while hurrying to leave the house that morning. With me there is a cascading effect, with each misstep setting the stage for another until I calm down. So it was on this day, because had I been in a good state of mind, I would not have let the following transpire. Really, it's a kind of non-event, but interesting anyway.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Cranky Stroke Of Justice

My library seems to be an eventful one. I write of it often, but then I am there often. I spend a half hour there at least every three days, and this is a marked drop-off from my early days in LA when I had no computer and no internet. I spent two hours there every day, and when that's the case you see some things. You also become intimately familiar with the characters, the relationships and the common conflicts.

Another rather interesting (to me) drama played out within earshot at my current local branch the other day, but not under my direct gaze, because watching would have meant being involved. Two young men entered and came to the dvd section where I was. I did not notice them at first, really. To me they were just more bodies clogging the small area around the shelves, blocking me from quickly perusing them and locating movies I wanted.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Wrong Tree

There I was, sitting on a bench with my music going and a good book out. I was minding my own business and contemplating moving since the sun was shifting and it was getting rather warm. Then what happens all too often happened to me once again. A man who probably had very good intentions came over and interrupted me to save my soul with a tract and some invasive questions. Little did he know that I was sitting there killing time before going to church.

I certainly could have told him so, though it wouldn't have gotten him to make himself scarce any sooner than I was able to without bringing that up. In fact, I'm fearful that revealing myself to be remotely receptive to his message would have bought me his unwanted presence for all the longer. Guys like that tend to rapidly turn new acquaintances against them, I would have to imagine (I might have said 'guys in that line of work', but I wonder whether that is a line of work in any sense that I understand).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sealed With A 'Kiss Off'

Nothing motivates me to write quite like being angry, and I am very much so after a piece of mail that came the other day. I've been quite anguished over the fate of the Post Office in recent months, but if this is what I can expect at their hands, then perhaps my sympathies are misplaced. This piece of mail really got my dander up, and I trust that once I've described it you will be moved to remonstrate me for being too understanding.

The first thing I noticed was the addressing on the envelope. There was no return address, and it had what appeared at first glance to be a regular first class stamp but which in fact was a special stamp for pre-sorted mail. Completing the superficial similarity to a letter from a person was the machine-printed false handwriting which directs the mail carrier to deliver the envelope to "Our Neighbor At" my address. Before I even opened it, this envelope had me fuming and swearing.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Passage

I recently went down to visit family for Independence Day, and we had some tasty food to eat on their boat as we watched the fireworks. The nature of a boat, though, is that there is little space to story anything, let alone the invariably copious leftovers that are there after any gathering. The other boaters could be no help, and it would seem a waste (and of questionable legality) to give it to the fish. So it was that I found myself escorting the cold cuts all the way back home.

The food left the fridge around 7 in the morning. From there it was a stopoff at my father's office before heading to the train station to make the next train home. Regrettably, the train was some forty minutes late. Finally it came, and it was around two hours back to downtown LA. I was concerned about getting that food in the refrigerator at my apartment before it spoiled, and circumstances were already conspiring against me.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Fantasy Parsed

I was watching one of those very gadget-oriented films the other night when I was called away to the urgent business of visiting a bar with friends. After closing time, I returned to the movie with a rather altered state of consciousness, and started thinking in practical terms about what I would do with such a gadget. I used to fantasize about having a proton pack, a light saber and all the other things, but somehow the fantasies remained couched in the reality of the film, never becoming integrated into my own reality. It's quite a different thing when you do that.

For the sake of argument, let's say it was a laser gun that I had. The fun fantasy would be brandishing it all over town and firing it willy-nilly at any and all targets of opportunity. I enjoy thinking that it would go that way for a minute or two, then I start getting realistic. Laser gun or not, there are laws. I would probably have to go through a 'cooling off' period before even acquiring one, and then I would probably have to get a concealed carry license, not that this would guarantee my ability to carry the laser into private businesses. Do you see how this is getting less and less fun in practice?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Born On Second

It seems to me that one of the things critical to the success of the American Dream is the inviolable nature of the last will and testament. One works long and hard, and at long last reaps the material reward of all that effort. After passing on, what one can't take with them is passed down to the next generation (or whoever), presumably giving them a leg up as they pursue the course of bettering the family generation by generation. I believe in this and I don't.

Here's how the ambivalence breaks down. When you take what is passed down to start your own thing, I'm for it. When you take that legacy and just ride it, I'm not for that. I don't think that's what it's meant to be. Whether the inheritance is very much or very meager, it's a stepping stool and not an easy chair. I don't know what may be waiting for me (although in the past talk of firearms has been bandied about),  but I sincerely hope that I will invest it in service of something and not merely expend it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Milking It

When I was in high school, I briefly was involved in a film club where we watched the Wong Kar-Wai film 'Chungking Express'. In it, there's a character who repeatedly buys canned produce with a particular expiration date. For him there were sentimental reasons. For me, the existence of an expiration date leaves me hesitant to buy a lot of food products. Somehow such foods and I don't co-exist, and you wouldn't think this would be the case considering how long I stick with the foods I eat.

You'd think that I would easily consume all of these items before they go bad, but somehow it doesn't work that way. I partly blame the way they price things. Take the milk. When I was buying that on a regular basis, they would always have a deal where you would get two gallons for one. I would try desperately to drink or otherwise use it all before it was too late, but try as I might, I couldn't get through it all in what little time there was to do so.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Every now and again these days, I have cause to ride an inter-city train. Rather few people can say that, it seems to me. I certainly did not when I was younger. We never rode the train, and then they discontinued service in Phoenix. Only when I came out here to Los Angeles did that change. I've ridden Amtrak and Metrolink trains a few times. I can say that it's an interesting experience, and one worthy of a few words at least.

To me there remains some romance in the idea of riding trains. There is no shortage of iconic moments from films and literature that revolve around the train. It's true that some of them involve hideous crimes, and yet those add to the appeal rather than detracting from it. I do like to think of traveling from one place to another in the same manner as Twain or Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. My powerful imagination easily transports me to their world, but it does take a powerful imagination.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No Place For The Weak

Different things motivate me to write. Sometimes it's desperation. Sometimes it's something interesting. Other times it's something that makes me angry. It's perhaps no surprise that I'm partly of French extraction because the more trivial the thing is, the angrier it has the potential to make me. Today is one of those day's where it's something of moderate seriousness at most, and so I'm fairly angry. I read this thing where someone earnestly proclaimed that theirs was a "family blog". Hide the sharp objects from me.

First of all, I think it's worth questioning the assumption that anything designated for the family must be sanitized and made inoffensive. I don't know what families the people who say this stuff come into contact with, but the families that I've been around in life are not thrown by some cursing and references to sex and violence. The flip side of that is that not every single person clamors for the vulgar and explicit. The selection of the family unit as the distinction is, in short, terribly fallible.

Monday, July 4, 2011

V-S Day

I have held off in making any final declaration, but five days after the cowardly and treacherous attack on me by a spider in the privacy of my own home, I feel secure now in declaring victory over it. It bit me, but I feel fairly confident that I killed it that night and now I am certain that I have triumphed over its weak and ineffectual venom. I won't deny that I was concerned about how I would weather the toxin coursing through my veins, but now I know that I am impervious to its effects.

I'm classy enough to now discount the idea of a lawsuit. Having beaten the spider's venom, I have nothing to prove against it, and I think that we all know spiders don't have money in any case. I would like to have a parade or a staged photograph such as the one of the sailor and the nurse on V-J Day, but I gather that parades are expensive and awash in red tape, and I sadly know of no attractive nurse who will submit to a "spontaneous" kiss.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Caveat Et Al

I described yesterday the revelatory experience of hard-boiling a dozen eggs. The tale is of course not done there. I doubt whether it will ever really end. Those eggs have so much to teach that it shall surely take a lifetime and then some to unlock all its mysteries. The first which I stumbled upon is the devastating trauma that can be inflicted on the unwitting digestive system by the unassuming hard-boiled egg. I'm sure that I need not go into further detail.

The more pleasant succeeding mystery lays in the shucking of the egg, or perhaps the peeling is a more accurate way of phrasing it. This in itself is clearly a riddle wrapped in an enigma, but I shall save it for another day for fear of failing to describe the difficulty in most efficiently and quickly extracting the egg from its shell with a minimum of damage. Each time I feel that I improve on my previous attempts, and I'm certain that I will soon enough manage to get it adequately right each time. Even then though, there is always room to improve on a personal best.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I Done It!

I happen to have recently come into something of a windfall recently. A roommate, finding that circumstances would prevent him from consuming a dozen eggs he had just bought, granted them to me. I have not bought eggs from the grocery store in some time, finding as I did that a dozen eggs that I buy with the best of intentions invariably are ignored and spoil. I may be changing my stance on that now as a result of a good experience.

I like hard-boiled eggs quite a bit. Inexplicably, in seeking them out at restaurants I have found that either they can't get them right or they just don't do them. Poached eggs are not the same thing. I've learned my lesson: hard-boiled eggs cannot be had with confidence at a restaurant. Since I could only trust the ones I made myself, I just couldn't have any. That just ended, as I've decided that I can muster the energy to cook them after all.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Spider's Revenge

I think that it is generally agreed that the plotting of 'Jaws: The Revenge' was awfully silly. We are to understand that a shark seeks vengeance on the family of the sheriff who played a key role in killing two different sharks years before. It's a laughable premise on its face, and yet perhaps I won't be laughing any more. You see, I have had an experience myself which makes me believe that it just might be possible for such a thing to happen.

As you will have read yesterday, a spider bit me a number of days ago. I believe I killed it quite inadvertently. It was a reflexive act, though I might well have done it with malice aforethought had circumstances been different. As it was, the probable killing removed any possibility of making a species ID. The opportunity to do so would have eased the anxiety I felt after, so this is no small thing. In any case, the offending spider is in all likelihood dead. That is why the next thing that happened seems remarkable.