Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Good Ones

Another rather unusual incident occurred when my friends and I were on the subway the other night for that drive-in movie excursion. I attribute both to the fact that each of us were vouched for as safe to talk to by the presence of the rest of us. Being in a group, none of us could be a threat to others if we weren't a threat to each other. This at least is a rudimentary theory I concocted in the moment, so we'll see how it holds up.

Anyway, let me get to that incident. There was this couple on what I believe was the return train. They had gone all out with some manner of gothic, emo-type ensemble. Clothes, hair and makeup, they had it all. We might well have felt threatened by them. I was just sitting down when I heard myself getting harangued for having a mirror and not owning up to it. It's true that I carry a small mirror in my wallet for purposes of trying to improve myself as a performer as well as of sheer narcissism.

In any case, I came to realize that the gothic couple had inquired of us whether anyone had a mirror. I can only guess that they expected one to come from one of the girls. Women are probably more likely to keep mirrors in purses than men in wallets. It was me who had one, however, and I was glad to loan it to them. My initial thought was that they were checking their hair and makeup, and this was borne out. For a moment though, I feared that they wanted the mirror so that they might do some lines of cocaine.

Happily, that wasn't the case. It was a rather neat experience, and I'm glad that it came to pass that I had  couple of pleasant experiences on the train. I was feeling rather down about the whole thing, owing to some criminal acts that had transpired in recent days. If you bear with life though, you will find that if the good doesn't outweigh the bad, it at least amounts to enough that it's worth going on with something. Here finally was the good.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Regret

It was one of those rare occasions when I was on the subway and not alone (Rarer still are the times when I'm among friends on a bus, but that's of no consequence in this story). There was me and then there were four others who composed two couples. We got on and found ourselves a cluster of contiguous seats, which is no sure achievement in the evening hours on a weekend night (Los Angeles is known for its car culture,  but that is less and less deserved every year).

We were on our way to see a drive-in movie on the rooftop of a downtown parking garage. The concept reminded me of parking garage-hosted golf courses of which I've heard existing in space-deprived Japan. LA doesn't lack the space, but there are no proper drive-ins to speak of anyway. The idea of this place we were headed for was novel enough that I couldn't pass it up, and I've been to a movie in a cemetery out here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dog Gets The Heat

There was this moment out on Hollywood Boulevard that was just about lost in the shuffle, except that I was there. It sure would have been a shame, because it was a tremendous drama for all of its realness. We devalue true greatness in drama for all that we elevate trivial, mediocre drama in our impatience. This was the real deal. A somewhat heavyset (as I hesitate to call her, having heard the term characterized as derogatory) woman was standing amid the hustle and bustle, upbraiding a man holding a leashed dog for ruining their trip.

That's all I saw, but my mind starting working like a perpetual motion machine. May I assume that the object of the trip was tourism, given their location? What reason might there be for the trip being unsatisfactory in her eyes, and how was it that she came to pin it on the man? There are just a lot more questions here than answers. I can suppose and conjecture all day, but I never will come to a truly satisfactory answer unless the principals in the drama read this and fill me in. If so I will pass it on to you.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I have lately gotten into the habit of reading newspapers and periodicals at the library when I go to checkout and return DVDs. This being the case, I often spend as much time there in a day as I did in my early days here. At that time, I had no computer at home, let alone internet access, and so had no choice but to use the library's computers. The maximum time one had was two hours a day, and in that time I got to know the characters at the library near my home.

There were vagrants and near-vagrants, kids and adults, and food vendors trying to make a buck before being ejected. None of them could I really relate to. Now I am getting to know the characters at this branch. As yet there are only one or two I know by sight, word or deed. There was the other day a rather interesting women who was rather effective in thwarting my efforts to read the latest issue of the New Yorker. Of all the intolerable nuisances that lurk there, she may be the hardest to dislike.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Get The Message

When I was younger we still had the answering machine with a cassette tape to record messages. I did not find it difficult to use, and I suppose no one else did either. At least, I should say, they managed to use it. What alternative was there? If you didn't leave a message, how was anyone to know that you had called? Later caller ID made a record of who called regardless of whether they had left a message, but you were depending on them to have a listed number. If they didn't, they made sure to leave a message.

The cassette machines were supplanted by ones with digital recording, and those were in turn replaced by voicemail. With each innovation, people have gotten less likely to leave an actual message. The result is that it works the way beepers used to. Somebody calls, you see that they called and you call them back, utterly ignorant of what they want. I'll tell you, I really don't care for that. I make a point of leaving a message.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I was on the bus the other day, when a scenario which calls to mind yesterday's post transpired. Now, while riding the bus one is not typically drawn into conversation either by fellow riders or drivers, and one is even more seldom imposed upon by the requests of either. Every now and then it will happen, and so it did on this occasion. I am in the habit of occupying myself with music, and so I often feel I am not quite equal to any demands made on me.

There really only are three things that you may be asked to do. There are a couple of benches in the front that fold up to accommodate wheelchair-bound riders, and you may have to do that, as the driver is loath to. You may also have to shut the rear door is it is being balky. I thought there were only those two, but it turns out there is one more. I thought that keeping the windows open or shut was up to the discretion of the rider nearest them, but this turns out to not be the case.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Not My Father

I love my father. I admire him and respect him. I believe strongly in the art of fatherhood and the impact that fathers have on their children and family units as a whole. Even so, there are things that fathers do that rankle. With some of them, the necessity and value eventually become apparent. With other things, they never do. Regardless, they are things I will only put up with when they come from my own father, and from no one else.

It is unfortunate then that anyone else would try to impose such things on me, and yet they do. It comes from surprising sources sometimes. There is a restaurant near my apartment that looks to have some tasty food. I believe they specialize in Philly cheesesteaks. I would think more highly of them if not for a sign posted in the window. The sign pleads with patrons to keep the door shut on account of the air conditioning being on.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Selling Out

As I've said, one of my most fertile sources of material is anger. While nothing gets me writing quicker, it also kills many possible posts because I am unable to render vitriol of a certain severity palatable. I'm hoping that this won't be one of those. The thing is that I read about a particular lawsuit which would have been unremarkable except for those who were filing it. It was none other than the Hell's Angels, and I just got awfully upset.

I have only read one of Hunter S. Thompson's books, and of course it was the one which chronicles the Hell's Angels. It may not have been entirely factual, but I enjoyed it a great deal, and to me it relates the proper nature of a motorcycle gang. The Hell's Angels in that book initiated new members by dowsing them in urine and were constantly a hairsbreadth away from inflicting fatalities in wild, reckless brawls. In short, they were rough around the edges.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I am in the habit of weighing myself. I can't say that I have much reason for doing so. I make no deliberate effort to work out (although physical exertion of a practical nature means that just by going about my business some exercise happens). Thus is removed from any possibility of affecting my weight one of what I figure to be three possible factors. Still, the other two mean that my weight does fluctuate somewhat.

One of the two remaining things is water weight, which is a surprisingly substantial proportion of the whole. I'm told that it does wax and wane quite a a bit, noticeably shifting one's weight up or down in just hours. This has led to some rather surprised outbursts from me, albeit ones that have gone unremarked upon by friends who are perhaps increasingly aware of my idiosyncrasies in this area.I just chalk up any unexplained loss or gain to this water thing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Wash

I generally make a good attempt at hygiene. I always make sure to wash my hands when necessary. As is so often the case, I became very diligent on this point not for myself but for my possessions. Now that phones and other electronic devices are blessed (or burdened) with touchscreens, those of us that have them must have clean, dry hands in order to use them. Doing so will give my phone a lot more life and me at least a little.

At home I sometimes wash with bar soap in the bathroom and sometimes with dish soap in the kitchen. In either case, I don't have any proper paper towels on hand, and so I use a variety of improvised techniques. Sometimes it's cloth towels, sometimes the pants I'm wearing, and sometimes it's just time. I appreciate that these aren't ideal methods, but at least I'm trying. You must admit that puts me ahead of many if not most.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

That's Fair

There is a fair going on in my neighborhood's park as I write this. I had in my mind the notion that I would like to visit it, but without outside intervention of the kind that I have previously described, I probably would have let the fair come and go without experiencing it. Luckily, friends had in mind a plan to check it out and were good enough to enlist me in the scheme. I can contentedly say now that I went and saw what it had to offer.

I didn't do a whole lot there. I went and looked at the rides, but did not ride them. I suppose that I did participate in one game, even if it was one meant more to promote an insurance company than to entertain the multitudes. Given seven tries to sink a ping pong ball into any of several cups, I finally won a small flashlight keychain. I would not exactly call that the highlight of the evening though, as I had to tolerate an insurance agent attempting to offer me a quote on insurance for a car that I do not have.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bag 'Em And Rag 'Em

Yesterday I wrote of grocery stores, and doing so reminded me of something else which raises my ire. It's those grocery bags. Somehow I don't get the option of paper bags, but I honestly don't know if I could use them anyway, as I walk to and from the grocery store and would have difficulty with multiple paper bags. It's all the more unfortunate considering that I strongly dislike plastic grocery bags. They clutter my home terribly, and I bring home more with every shopping trip.

Of course I know many people employ reusable cloth bags for the practical reason of avoiding the clutter as well as the noble, high-minded reason of 'going green'. I have a couple of cloth bags myself, but I never do remember to use them. I think I have once or twice, now that I think about it. Even when I know I'm going shopping before I leave home, I think least of all about grabbing those bags. If there were no bags at the store to use, maybe I'd have better luck remembering mine, but that just isn't the case.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Strike One

My aspirations of an NFL season marred (or by my estimation enlivened) by scab players have been dashed, as you are aware if you have been following the news. I think it would have made for a fun, unique season, but it was not to be. Considerably more likely now is something which I had no interest in seeing happen, but isn't that always the way? This will not be fun or unique. It will just make life harder, and it will reveal again where the real power lies in our society. What I'm referring to is a likely work stoppage among the unionized grocery stores of California.

It has been quietly building for some time. Don't ask me who's starting it or what anybody wants out of it, but what I know is that we are likely to be dealing with scab cashiers, stockers and the like. We may also have to cross picket lines to shop at those chains if the unions aren't too lazy, but we do retain the option of shopping at non-union shops, some of which are more fashionable these days anyway. It's also worth noting that the stores do a poor job of shooing away solicitors from their property, so picket lines will not be a new annoyance.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Best Of Three

Using the subway a lot, I've given plenty of consideration to the best means of getting down to the platform and up again. They provide three possibilities, although not all three are always in good working order. The are, of course, the elevator, the escalator and the stairs. Each has its better qualities and its worse ones, and while my perspective on things is unlikely to inform you in any way, perhaps it will sway you nonetheless with its passion and logic.

I generally favor the escalator when available. When tired, I can move up or down without expending energy. When not tired, I can go all the faster by walking up or down it. Mostly I'm not too tired to do that. The trouble comes when it is either congested or anyone ahead of me is ignorant of the proper protocol. One side is for movers and the other side is for standers. When that gets muddied, I get angry and often late as well. When the escalator is crowded, there's just no helping it. I call it the cattle conveyor and take the stairs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Up Front

I did something on the subway that I couldn't believe I'd never done in as long as I have used it. First I was indifferent to what car I got on. With some experience, I determined that the one at the far end towards which one must backtrack from the stairs or escalator is preferable, as few people get on there in ordinary circumstances. Well, I think I may have a new favorite. Crowded or not, no car is more fun than the lead one.

Sitting anywhere else, you are basically blind in a sealed capsule. There are windows, but nothing to see through then except when at a platform. Otherwise, you see nothing but the people and things within the car, funny ads and maps included. That being the case, I read, listen to music or watch the people around me. To that I add a new possibility when in the lead car, because you can actually see where you're going. It's really something.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Drink Up

I recently drank what I, perhaps naively, perceived to be a rather singular beverage. You will perhaps recall that I wrote of the pleasant but maddening smell of pizza coming from an establishment out at the nearest major intersection to my home. I never had been there, but passed by it many times on my way to other places. I was always struck by the strangely upscale nature of its clientele, and always enjoyed glancing at them as I passed. I didn't envision eating their myself of my own volition.

I now have patronized the place, though still not because it was my idea. In truth, I did not order or pay for any food myself, though I did finish off that of a friend. Still I would have to report favorably on the place. As is my wont, I will not name it for lack of any monetary incentive to do so. I will however describe it. They are one of those places that have small, inordinately expensive gourmet pizzas, but I was baffled by the availability of a forty ounce beer bottle more commonly associated with downscale liquor stores.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sea Rating

At the risk of reaching too far back into the past for a subject of interest, I want to tell you about a notable seafood restaurant I came across a number of months back while in Sarasota, Florida for a wedding. The beaches there are nice, and there are some absolutely lovely areas chock-full of charming shops and restaurants. Regrettably, I was unable to visit them all, though God knows we made the effort. Truly the place is worth a second visit, if only to get to one more restaurant I saw while we were driving around near the hotel.

It was called "Barnacle Bill's". That was enough for me right there, as that is the partial name of a rather crude and salty song of which I am fond (although there are tamer and more sophisticated versions). It's a fine song, and I was pleased to entertain the idea that its titular character had retired from his seafaring and romancing to the town of Sarasota to run a seafood restaurant. Unfortunately, the illusion is ruined somewhat by what I've heard about the bizarre disinclination of sailors to eat seafood. Why make life at sea any harder than it already is, fellas?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Come Clean

As I write this, the United States is in economic turmoil of great severity (though God willing it's pulled out of it in the few days it took for this to be published). A deal was made a few days ago to lower the budget deficit and raise the debt ceiling. Much of the deal revolved around cuts to the budget, though consideration was given to the other possibility. Now, I know what I call that other possibility, but I wondered if I were just plain crazy, because throughout the debate no one uttered the word taxes.

Instead what was said over and over by everyone as the counterbalance to budget cuts was increasing revenue, or just 'revenue'. I know what that means to me. It's a general term for all means of income to the nation. Were these people suggesting that we close the budget gap with ATF auctions or a renewed campaign to sell stamps? That would fall under the category of 'revenue', as would selling lemonade and holding bikini carwashes. Alas, I gather they meant no such thing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Not Interested, Jet-Setter

I haven't traveled much. I've been to a few places around the United States, but not terribly many. I've been to one place outside the United States, and it was near enough to my hometown that it had our newspaper the same time we did. It's fair to say then that I am envious of those who have traveled more, homebody though I am. As traumatic as it is to pack up and go anywhere even for a short trip, I'd love to see more of the world.

I hope though that if I manage to do that I will behave better about it than some. I can appreciate why someone would run their mouth about traveling a lot. It can be a lot of fun, and even when it's not it can be quite an accomplishment. I probably would be eager to talk about my travels if I were some kind of globe-trotting adventurer. I would be eager to do so because of how much the travel would mean to me. It would be a big deal. This should be the case for those who bring up their many trips.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chekhov's Poseur

As I think I must have said before, irrepressible anger is by far my most reliable motivator in my writing endeavors. Things that make me laugh often fail in making me work, but fury always gets it done. Well, I am just livid at the moment about the way people will pretend to know things. Are you familiar with the concept of Chekhov's Gun? I've heard of it, and I can explain it. I will readily admit that I haven't read or seen performed a single one of Anton Chekhov's plays. I don't think I could even name one.

Do others admit the same? They do not. They don't claim to be authorities on Chekhov, the theatre or drama, but neither do they dispel the illusion that they are by just chancing the bring up some specific thing like that. I find that very distasteful. These people are the same that suddenly started peppering their conversations with the word 'Schadenfreude' as if they were students of the German language and not people who heard it on talk radio or one of the news networks.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pal's Revered Midnight Ride

Some time ago, I wrote about how long it had been since I had really gone swimming (this being on the occasion of finally taking advantage of the pool in the apartment complex I then called home. I would move out shortly thereafter, ultimately to a building which has no pool). It was quite an experience, but at least I had gone into the water on occasion during this break from real swimming. The other day, I did something which I had not even come close to in years and years. I still can't recall when would have been the last time.

I went riding a bicycle. Now I want to stress one point above all else. You know what they say about riding a bike? I will not say it, and I implore anyone reading this to not say it either. It would just enrage me to hear that cliche. In any case, it's true enough. I was somewhat apprehensive about getting into it at the drop of a hat. A friend invited me out with the proviso that he would be riding his bike and that I would have to ride his other bike in the absence of other reasonable transportation of my own.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Will I Do?

As I write this, my mind is still on a visit to a sushi restaurant the day before. It had gotten be a habit to go there before my improv class on Monday nights, as they have a 'happy hour' then. I had started going because I needed a ride to class. I didn't want to be a jerk of course, and so I would begrudgingly order iced tea and perhaps edamame. Generally we would get some complimentary salad and miso soup. These I liked ok as well. It was a tolerable situation.

I was not a sushi fan. As I said, I just wanted to get to class and to spend time with my friends. Over time, they applied gentle pressure on me to try the sushi again after unfavorable experiences years ago. I finally relented, and owned up to finding what I ate not bad. I would not go so far as to say I loved it, but merely that I could now count on something tolerable when friends insisted on getting sushi. I was glad for this, as I consider it unwise to get something a restaurant is not known for.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Right Kinds

Yesterday I wrote about a bother at the library. Well, I'm not done with that. When you go someplace at least once for an hour or two every three days, you have more to say about it than can be conveyed in a mere four paragraphs, or indeed in a small multiple of four. I have yet to fully plumb the depths for all that I have written about the library, but let us see if today's rumination finally taps that very deep well once and for all.

In my memories, the librarian is a very particular type of woman. It is a she, and she is of perhaps three types. There is the kindly librarian who nurtures your love of reading. I fondly remember the one we had in the grade school library. I spent as much time in there as I believe I could have been permitted, and her storytime performances were really something. When she was on some kind of sabbatical, it was a pinprick of sorrow every time I saw that the lady there was someone else.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Where I Stand

As I have made more clear than anyone, myself included, could have have wanted, I go to the library a good bit. That being the case, I think it's fair to say that I have a pretty good handle on proper etiquette. Most people there don't, regardless of how much time they spend there. Maybe I'm different because I have been going to the library since they were more strict, or maybe not. What's clear is that I manage to be quiet there, when most people aren't and when I am as loud as a peacock everywhere else. That's not the only thing that people could stand to learn from me though.

You see, I know how to stand in front of a shelf so that I'm not in the way. Most people can't do that or don't. With the books it's not an issue. It's not that fewer people read these days (because probably more do), but they have been outpaced by those who do other things. The point is that it's rare for multiple people to home in on a single section of books, but they will always do that with the DVDs, and some courtesy would help a lot if anyone learned it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Radio

You will recall that I enjoy listening to the radio. I had been using a radio purchased while I was a student in Chicago. It had AM, FM, weather and television bands. I liked it a lot, although it had an analog tuner. With you wind up with a lot of guesswork and experimentation when trying to find a particular station. I can't stand that, but it was the best radio I was able to get at the time, and I'm not in the habit of replacing such a thing if I can possibly help it.

Unfortunately, the time came when I no longer could help it. The antenna went and broke. I held off as long as I could on the vague hope that I could replace the antenna alone, perhaps from the supplies on hand at Radio Shack or another place like that. That never came to pass, and in the meantime I missed a lot of radio. I had formed some habits of listening, but they were hopelessly broken. When I wanted to listen to a ballgame that I couldn't get on television, I was out of luck. It was not pleasant.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Song In My Heart, Written For Hers

Everything I am moved to write I am moved to write as a certain kind of piece or another. Common items are just regular prose. Funny stuff can be, or it can be a sketch. Things about which I am rather emotional probably will be poetry. Then there are the things I am moved to write for a woman. This will in all likelihood be a song. I'll stress that while I credit myself with a reasonable gift for writing the lyrics, I in fact can play no instrument and can neither read nor write music.

I think that perhaps that conveys the depth of devotion that I must have for a woman before I will embark on such a gesture. Imagine if instead of writing a song it were skydiving, and I was equally ignorant about how it's done? Truly that would tell her that I would do anything for her, and she could hardly help but fall head over heels for me- if I survived falling head over heels all the way to the ground, that is. In all likelihood I would not, so it's good that I settled on songwriting.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Truly Local News

Walking and taking public transportation as I often do, I am privy to some things that the car-bound commuter is probably not. Many of the other people with whom I rub shoulders also see and hear things, and when they speak of them I hear that. In this way, I have a sort of intelligence network which very occasionally delivers a scoop. It's frustrating as much as it is anything, as I must wait for the professional media to catch up and deliver more details.

The latest dirt from an overheard informant pertained to a riot or near-riot, depending on who you choose to believe. You may have heard of it. The premiere of a documentary about an ill-fated rave festival was to take place in Hollywood, and an apparently famous DJ unwittingly drew thousands by tweeting of his plans to perform some music out in front of the theater beforehand. Somehow things went awry, and the multitudes took it poorly.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Instant Conflict- Just Add People

There seemed to be an inordinate number of people on the trains and in the streets the whole way home from a recent nighttime excursion. I found that there were a number of reasons behind it, large concerts and civil disturbances being among them. It being the case that a lot of people were on the subway, it's perhaps no surprise that there would be some amount of trouble. I would have found it to be a very pleasant surprise if there hadn't been.

It happens so fast. This man entered the doorway of my subway car, and solicited from everyone near advise on whether the train would bring him to a transfer with a different subway line with which this one shared some stations. Now, the very station he was at just then is served by the other subway line, so I saw no sense in him getting on, but I considered there to be no profit in getting involved. This proved to be wise on my part.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sharing Is Caring

It's easy to get disheartened after being witness too many times to the worst nature of humanity. Much of what I see around me out there is impoliteness, ignorance and violence, and without anything to balance that out, life would be harder to live. Happily, I am often enough reminded that there are good people out there displaying positive attributes, and I can go on much more easily with the knowledge that I am not alone in trying to be good most of the time.

A pair of gentlemen who I regard as kindred spirits were there at the library likewise doing their best. Few people at that great institution give much thought to preserving the tranquility for which it was once known, but they were making sure to employ earbuds to keep the noise of their laptop from encroaching on others. Regrettably, they appeared to possess only one pair, but were gladly sharing it, with each receiving the sound from one.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


When I get bored or antsy, I have to address it somehow. If bored, I must find something to do. If antsy, the energy must be channeled. There are some awfully self-destructive ways of handling that. Sometimes I think I may be eating only because I'm bored. If antsy, I have been known to shake my legs among other things. I decided to find a better way of doing things, and I believe I found a good one. Now when one of those issues crops up, I am more apt to play with my hair.

Maybe that sounds no better than anything else, but from my perspective it's a lot better. The hair recovers from mistreatment, so there's that. That anyone should react differently is actually somewhat amusing. I can see the humor in it myself. My hair has considerable volume to begin with, so running my fingers through it unconsciously for a few minutes has an incredible effect. It's a comical sight, and I'll admit that it may not be my best look, so I try to restrain myself if I feel I need to look presentable later. It's an end of the night kind of thing.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Come On, It's Fun!

Several days ago, the NFL and the NFLPA concluded a collective bargaining agreement to ensure that the football season will go on unimpeded this year, and I may be the only person (one friend excluded) who is not happy about it. My reasons make sense to me, but I concede that they will probably convince few people if any. Those that it does persuade I consider to be of the very highest caliber, and would be glad to know.

I was really excited about the possibility of a work stoppage, and I'll tell you why. It's not because I dislike the game. I like football. It's a fun game to play and watch, but sometimes you get bored with a good thing and you want to shake things up by wrecking it. That's how it was with Lincoln Logs, Legos and Sim City and that's how I feel for the moment about pro football. I wouldn't want it to go away- I just wanted to see it different for a while. Now, my thinking is that the owners eventually would become desperate enough to turn to scab players as they did in the last work stoppage of 1987.