Monday, October 31, 2011

The Great Question

Sometimes there are those subjects that are so obvious that I can't believe they remain unaddressed. I search hard, and still doubt myself when I can't turn up any previously written post on the matter. I ultimately have to trust that it's something new and to be grateful. There happens to be a question that had popped up in my mind as a means of separating people into two camps. It was one of those things like dogs and cats or coffee and tea.

The thing that I thought of was whether someone would favor pens or pencils to write with. As a young student, you would have pencils before pens, but perhaps after crayons. Heading into adulthood, some perhaps cast off the pencils to assert themselves, but I still like pencils. I wonder if it might be owing to my father, who is very handy and who I'm sure wouldn't think of using a pen for a carpentry project. I don't do that, but we often do what our parents did out of habit.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"The X Is Closed Down!"

A friend recently observed that I'm often upset by the closure of local restaurants, retail outlets and the like- even ones that I never have been to. It's true. I retorted that I was upset in such cases because I never have been to the place in question and now I never will be. It's a moment of deep regret when I pass a place that I've been meaning to patronize forever and see a lease sign up. I feel the loss to myself and I am keenly aware of the loss to the business on account of everyone like me who failed to keep them afloat for want of motivation.

There are practical reasons to be bothered by a closure. Relatively few places are opening up these days, and plenty are closing. Every store that closes diminishes the local tax base. Their workers are laid off, and they are no longer able to patronize other businesses, whose workers are in turn laid off to save the business, if in fact it can be saved. It's a devastating cycle, and perhaps unreasonably I see a part in it played by me.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sometimes It Comes Back

Often, I write to exorcise something consuming my thoughts. This is commonly what lies behind the more vitriolic rants found here. I find it to be a healthy outlet for great anger. Other people vent it at strangers with inconsequential near-car accidents as a pretext, but I can't do that, so I do it here. I don't know if that makes for my best work, but it makes for my most motivated work. I wish I always had such obvious stuff to write about.

Something unfortunate is that I never have felt at ease writing about the same thing twice. I'll cover something at length if it was only mentioned in brief, or I'll come at something from a fresh angle or with a different perspective. I just won't do the same thing twice. Regrettably, that precludes me from venting my anger about something again, leaving it to fester if it returns. Return it does, and all too often for my liking.

Friday, October 28, 2011

No Sleep For The Cinephile

Sleep has always been at best a minor problem, and at worst a severe one. It comes slowly for me, whether it be because of unfamiliar surroundings or overstimulation at the hands of a soda or the day's events. Mostly I regard it as a very unfortunate thing. There have been restless nights and painful days of keeping myself awake by any means necessary (as an insomnia-stricken Malcolm X might say). Sometimes it's a good thing.

I happen to love watching movies. I watch enough of them and have a busy enough schedule that some of them are squeezed in under less-than-optimal conditions. I'll slip one in just before having to go somewhere, skating by with minutes to spare, and I'll watch one at the tail end of a day with another day in the offing. This is where it pays to have sleep so much a stranger. I can't think of too many instances where I fell asleep during a movie.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I wrote some time ago about beginning to favor the use of glass jars for drinking water. I use them almost exclusively at home, but do use plastic bottles away from home in most cases. There are certain situations in which I take a glass jar away from home, one of them being my improv comedy class. It happens to take place just a few minutes' walk from my home, so it's fairly convenient to do so. I didn't imagine I'd arouse any comment.

In fact, each class seems to bring fresh interest and incredulousness. I in turn am in disbelief. I can scarcely see any real novelty in the situation at this point. I was excited by the idea of doing it, but it really seems like a kind of obvious thing to do. Plenty of people drink from both glass vessels as well as ones with lids to seal them. In this, I only am combining those two things. I suppose it's reasonable to be bemused once, but these are people who have seen it plenty of times.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cheap, In A Good Way

I imagine that the scions of wealthy families have it harder than they are given credit for. They may be born on third base and think they hit a triple, as I have heard to be said, but it strikes me that the pressure is really a tremendous burden. Perhaps they would have wanted to grow up in humbler circumstance along with the lesser expectations of someone in that station. I have to believe that Charles Foster Kane would have.

I think a lot of expensively-made movies are like those rich kids. Having been made for so much money, they have expectations thrust on them that are entirely unreasonable. It was a dreadful bomb as a big budget film, but I figure that 'Waterworld' could have been made for a fraction of the price and enjoyed a reputation as a fine B movie. As it was I liked it fairly well, but I would have liked not being alone in that opinion.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Searchers (Or, The Wake-up Callers)

I live in a somewhat nice and hip neighborhood. It is in that early phase of neighborhood cycles where the poor artists have really put down roots and begun to prosper, setting the stage for the area to be co-opted by the rich. The artists then are priced out forcing subsequent artists to find cheap accommodations elsewhere. For the time being though, they can still afford the rent here, and part of the reason has got to be the question of safety.

I seldom feel unsafe here, but somewhat more often feel uneasy about one thing or another. Suffice it to say that while this is no Ciudad Juarez. crime is not unknown here. I have known friends to be robbed, and further north in worse districts, there have been worse crimes. I have, therefore, mixed feelings about the tactics employed by law enforcement. They may well help matters, but I tend to be selfish about how much they put me out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hot Or Just Me Clothes?

I'm a rather unassuming, humble guy. I might be the most so. I harbor no pretensions in fashion, it's fair to say. Just yesterday I wrote of ascertaining whether stains on one's clothes are the good kind, so I think you'll believe me when I say that. In short, when I wear nice stuff, I'm really out of my element. I think that it may even be the case that I react adversely in a biological sense. Maybe I'm crazy, but I might not be built for more than jeans and t-shirts.

The thing is that I'll get the word that there's some event I'm invited to and that I should dress up some. It's not some definite suit and tie thing, which makes things even harder. I'll start trying to assemble something that includes jeans, nice collared shirts, jackets and loafers. Maybe it's just the anxiety of feeling pressure to look presentable, but I just start sweating up a storm. Maybe saying so doesn't help me any socially, but I see no profit in lying.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ruined Right

I've written about how I have a few scars. I feel fortunate that they are either unnoticeable or decent-looking. Were it otherwise I would someday look into having them removed upon finding that I had the money. It's also the case that a lot of my clothes are pretty worn out. The pants are especially in bad shape, and the jeans the worst of these. Most are ripped and a few are stained. I feel lucky too that these pants are degraded in the right way.

Just what is it that makes a severe bit of damage to some jeans good and not bad? It seems to me that you want your rips to be straight lines, or at least not too jagged. You certainly don't want something like an L-shape that opens up a flap. It's fine for the knees to tear, but you've got to be careful when inserting your legs that you don't open up the knees too badly. When you inevitably do, that's when you think about making yourself a pair of cut-offs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Really Want To Go

I've said what a hard time I have saying goodbye at the end of the evening. This is when everyone's planning on going home, and people are one by one peeling away after saying their goodbyes to friends who are gracious and understanding. These are not people putting up any kind of resistance, and yet separating from them remains a tall order for me. It's just a matter of cutting off a line of conversation before it reaches maturation.

Imagine when the people I'm trying to say goodbye to really don't want me to go and try to stop me. If I were drunk and they were trying to keep me from getting in my car and driving away, they would employ physical force. I would then be grateful, not just for having my life saved, but for not having to suffer the far worse force of ridicule and sarcasm which one must face in order to part ways with friends insistent on continuing the good times.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Art Of Which I'm Not Part

I have been going to some art galleries lately. This is not entirely a new experience, as I have been a few times in the past, but it is presently fresh in my mind. For that I must credit certain friends who tend somewhat more towards the legitimate visual arts than I would myself. I can't say what the experience is like in other cities or in other levels of the art world, so I won't contrast but I will say what my experience has been.

For some reason, artists that I have seen are greatly enamored with the work of others, and so much of what I see is a tribute in some fashion to a movie or a tv show. This is not invalid I suppose, but neither would I regard it as entirely productive. What I create I hope serves me (and of course humanity). I wouldn't think to serve someone else whose work is already well-loved and lucrative. They can handle things. I still have yet to make it, so my labors continue to be self-serving.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


When I think about it, I do an awful lot of things based on a whim. Women find such spontaneity appealing, right? It must be a good thing. Something I often decide to do on a moment's notice for little reason is to walk someplace. It's free, and when I have the time and energy it sometimes seems like the most logical expenditure of both I can imagine. If I'm going to be alone in either case, the more social thing would seem to be a walk.

I'll do it anytime. Sometimes I'll feel the urge to go down to the lobby. I'll look out the front door and want to walk out to the street. I'll look up and down the street and walk out to the main road. I'll repeat that and start walking down the main road. I'll then develop a plan to walk some circuit which may take a few minutes or a lot longer. There's really no objective except that I feel compelled to walk around and look around.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Hard Way

As I write this, I am occasionally glancing down at the area in front of my computer screen where I have a disorderly little arrangement of some quarters. Two are badly mangled, perhaps having been run over by cars where I picked them up. It's distinctly possible that those ones are effectively unspendable, raising the very good question of why I took them. Perhaps the answer lies in the slowness with which I naturally acquire quarters.

Quarters are of course very necessary. I may not need them for parking a car, but I do need them for laundry, and the reality is that I use them at a rate which far exceeds that at which I come by them incidentally. When someone conducts a lot of cash transactions, a lot of change comes their way. Who does that these days? I myself deal in cash relatively little. That is the nature of finance these days- the money is mostly just numbers on a screen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"I Just Saw Him".

I don't understand people most times. Maybe I'd get them better if I tried less. People tend to know more the less they try to find out, it seems to me. I was a lot smarter before I learned anything myself. In any case, human behavior and thinking eludes me. I suppose there's no sense in trying to understand any word or deed that comes from emotion rather than rational thinking, and more and more there is none of the latter in people.

So much of life is in figuring out death. Something I don't get is a very common reaction to news of someone's death. Someone will get the word, and their first reaction will be disbelief. It won't be because they don't expect that someone might die or that they think the person was in too good of health or too careful or too anything. No, they'll be surprised the person died because they just saw them. "I just ate lunch with her a couple days ago", someone will cry out. What bearing has that on things?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hoping To Cut It

There are truly some wonders at the grocery store. It's easy to forget how special it is by the standards of the world even now, but that place is really something. I can go there any time day or night, and that's not to be sneezed at. Whereas many are content if they can find the thing they need at their local place at all, we are blessed with countless options for most things. There are those at the low end, the midrange and the high end of the economic scale. It's really something.

I was looking at the mustards. These days, ketchups can be gourmet and upscale, but it used to be there was just one type, so mustards used to really amaze me. There are the regular yellow mustards, the spicy ones, the sweet ones and more. Some are in plastic squeeze bottles, and some come in glass. Some are American, some French and some British. There must be dozens, and I wouldn't know how to explain that to some of the world's poor.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

You Don't Scare Me

Fear is a powerful thing. It will motivate you to do a lot of things- to part with a lot of things. When everything's good, it's not too hard to be rational and think critically. When someone threatens you with the loss of something, it's hard to not be irrational and act emotionally. This happens everywhere from sports to entertainment to politics. You hear how something might be lost unless certain conditions are met, then everybody panics and meets those conditions.

There are too many examples. Lately there has been a lot of labor strife in sports, with one league after another venturing to the brink. There was that grocery store scare as well, and a number of television shows are said to be at risk of going off the air for lack of efficiencies in budgeting. In every case we get scared and start wringing our hands, praying that somehow we could do something to avert calamity. If only we could sit at the negotiating table or just produce the needed money!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'll Talk!

There I was, sitting in front of my computer and thinking about what I might write. You hear talk about what agony it is to stare at a blank page and not be able to come up with anything. In my experience, pressing like that is no way to come up with an idea. You've got to relax and wait for it to come to you. On this occasion, fortune smiled on me indeed, although it came in a form that I perhaps might have done without.

I was deep in thought, but a sharp sensation wrenched me out of it. It was pain, and I quickly traced it to my toe. Had I stubbed it? It seemed the most likely thing, but the pain was not of that nature. Wisely, I lifted my foot up to make a diagnosis. It was a quick one. There jutting out from underneath the toenail was a rather large splinter. I do apologize for the graphic nature of this, but I'm sure you appreciate that glossing over it would help nothing.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Full Leather Jacket

The days grow colder here in southern California, and from my perspective it's basically all good. During the summer, we expend more money to cool the apartment, and we look forward to the day when we can flip the switch on that thermostat, sometimes using the heat but mostly just going natural. That's not the only plus by a long shot. The falling leaves are pretty, my hair looks cool blowing in autumnal breezes, and then there's clothes.

I happen to think that I look all right in a jacket. Like the sunglasses which I have grown fond of however, they can only be justified in certain situations. I can force the sunglasses a little, but not jackets. I cannot abide being unpleasantly warm. I have a hell of a time figuring the right garb for the weather, but once each day calls for the same thing, I get it right and stick with what I should. Thus it is that the jacket only comes out when the weather is cool enough.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


It's funny how society is now. We're very polarized, by which I mean that we are bi-polar. We're of two minds at once in that we are both utterly insensitive of how other feel as well as wildly hyper-sensitive. We trample over some with impunity, and kowtow to others who seem not at all distinct from the others or remotely special in their own right. It frustrates me to see how there is no one to stand up to that latter group.

I'll tell you who I'm thinking of. It's Philadelphians. With them it's always about their precious cheese steak sandwiches. They're pretty good. Philadelphians elevate them into some heavenly manna. It's not all they eat, is it? It can't be, as unhealthy as they are for you. I do like them, but one has to have some variety. There are other good foods from other places, but to them nothing could be better than their provincial sandwich.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I'm fortunate enough to have a lot of very good friends. They are kind, generous, smart and fun. By association with them I have been exposed to wonderful things, and connected with fantastic opportunities. For someone who grew up having at no time more than two or three friends (who were great), it's really something. They're all just wonderful for me, and I want badly to reciprocate whenever I can.

Sometimes they can be a malevolent force, though. Maybe it's tough love or something, but tough love hurts. The thing is that I have to be able to keep up with my friends. In eating, drinking and the few other matters that are very serious, I can't get far behind, or I'll be left behind. It moves me to do more and to do better, which is good. Sometimes I question the nature of the ties that bind, and what happens if I don't keep up.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just Listen

I'm getting a little bit down on some technology. I think I maybe have complained about how some of what is supposed to elevate us actually keeps us down and separated from each other. I don't know always whether the internet really is more good than it is bad. I'm trying now to be smart about what technologies I use and when. It all has some value if you are very moderate with it and make sure to put people first.

I do love my mp3 player, for example. It's a fun, convenient little thing. I slip it in my pocket and can use it any time without being weighed down. The trouble is that it keeps out the world from my ears. I love music dearly, but I had the idea that in listening to it out of the house, I'm maybe in a sense trying to stay at home even when I leave. Why would I step out among the cars and people if I don't want to hear everything and see everyone?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Water Got Her

One acclimates to consistent phenomena. After a good while, I've gotten used to the hot water in my apartment and how it works. It takes a good, long time to come. You start it up when you get to thinking you might want some hot water. Several minutes later, there it is. Make no mistake, it gets good and hot. You'll burn yourself for sure, but it doesn't sneak up on you. The shower's better, maybe because it's a greater volume of water spurring on the heater.

There's this restaurant in Hollywood that I am in the habit of frequenting sometimes. Stars go there, but that's not a leading motivator. The food is solid, the service is competent and the prices are fair. I've written about the place in good times and bad. After a long absence, I was back the other night, and maybe I've forgotten some of its ways. It can be like that with some things, whereas others don't ever let you forget.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hark! It's A Farmer's Market!

Farming is in my heritage, I guess it's fair to say. I should take more care to support the small farming concerns of this country than I do. For such selfish reasons as personal budget and expedience, I don't do that. It takes effort to do things right with food, and it takes more money. I may be lacking in the latter, but I ought to be able to expend the effort and the time. Making things tough has been the absence of a nearby farmers' market- or is it farmer's, as I tried in the title? You see my ignorance.

A couple of years ago or more, when I lived elsewhere in town, there was a farmer's market very near to my home. I about had to walk through it to get home, so I would peruse it and sometimes buy things. I found the sweet corn to be cheap and tasty. I think I may have bought some other items as well, but fewer than I might have. I didn't take full advantage of it, and then it was lost to me when I moved. That's often the way for me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I like seeing things through to the finish. That's natural, to be sure. It is sure, isn't it? My intentions are always to go until the end, and it does hurt when I can't manage it. The other day, I had to leave one engagement early so that I could make another. I worried about the first for some time, fearing that it would suffer for my absence. I also hate it when I must give up on a food item which I've decided is foul, and it's most unpleasant when circumstances conspire to prevent me from finishing a movie, though that happens.

What doesn't happen, or at least what happens so seldom as to be statistically non-existent is my failing to finish reading a book. The second to last one was some two or three years ago. It was a science fiction novel which had been highly recommended by the newspaper or some such thing. I was brash and arrogant enough to be sure I would finish it in spite of its great length and my unfamiliarity with the author. Tragically, I returned it unfinished.

Friday, October 7, 2011

To Think Of Youth? Uncouth.

Some movie stars seem like they were always old. Some of them were just that. When was Clint Eastwood ever young? Charles Bronson strikes me the same way. Even in their older movies they seem none too youthful. Others did not become known until they were older, so there's no way of knowing. It's enough to make you very curious about what they did look like in days of yore. There is nothing to help it except the imagination.

I employ my imagination also to picture some of the people I know personally as they must have looked long ago. Some I believe must have been strikingly good looking. For others, their aged condition is a convenient cover for being unsightly, for unsightly they had to have been even in their salad days. Even with them, I strive to imagine just what they must have looked like. Concrete evidence would be ideal, for my imagination does run away on me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Soda Coda

I wrote some time ago about soda and the means by which I have acquired it. I mentioned a soda machine in the laundry room of my apartment building and how I might start using it. I have done so. As I said then, the key is convenience, and it is terribly convenient to get that soda. I can get them at a better price in bulk from the grocery store, but paying six dollars for a dozen represents an investment and requires planning. I don't like either of those things.

What I've done several times is to dig into my change jar. It's filled with a bunch of pennies, nickels and dimes, and is very heavy. It has no quarters, as those go into another receptacle and are destined for the laundry machines. No quarters means that I have had to use a bunch of coins for every soda. Eight dimes will do it, or seven and one nickel. I don't like digging around for the fewest number of coins that will do it, so I keep picking out dimes and nickels until I reach seventy-five cents. I don't use pennies yet.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

No Coinky-Dink, I Think

Many of my friends live in my neighborhood or spend a good amount of time there for one reason or another. I believe that I've said this in the past, or I think I might have. I have been thinking about how it still was a coincidence that I would bump into them, or that I would ever in the past have seen people I wasn't expecting to anywhere. Without having communicated my plans to them, how could an encounter be by anything but chance?

That makes it seem special when that's the case, but I don't know if that can truly be the case, or rather I should say that I could never know for sure that it is the case. The culprit is of course technology, or is it me? Technology is really only the tool. It's these social networking websites that are all now imploring us to tell the world where we are. For a number of reasons, we probably shouldn't. Thieves will know we're out, and advertisers get more help in targeting us, just to name a couple reasons.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


It's difficult to deny myself what I want and possess the power to grant myself. That's natural, I think. Self-discipline is as hard to achieve as it is hard to find in anyone. We get that impulse, and it's easier than it ever has been to fulfill it, no matter what it is. You can buy almost anything at any hour with a couple of buttons pressed. Seldom do we manage to talk ourselves down from the precipice of an impulse decision in time. It's hard to overstate this point.

I sometimes am able to stop myself from allowing myself an indulgence that I know I shouldn't. The key is in the realization, but that's not always enough. Maybe I want to buy a pair of sunglasses. Every now and then I get the idea that I want a really nice pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses, or a set of proper drinking glasses for bourbon. I can't really justify such expenses, but I get awfully close sometimes before I pull away.

Monday, October 3, 2011

No Disrespect

Always of considerable interest to me is how others see me. I value most the opinions of those who know me best and who I naturally trust, but I'm also curious to know how strangers see me. In a sense, their perspective is every bit as informative as those who are actually qualified to say what is actually true about me. These strangers are not encumbered by what lies beneath the surface, so only they can really say what the surface entails.

The other day, I was coming home from a Toastmasters meeting. I happened to be going from a bus to a subway train, and at that particular station there is a hot dog cart which offers its wares at the exceptionally reasonable price of a dollar apiece. I often partake. I get the hot dog, load it up with ketchup and onions and do my best to find a shady spot to eat it. Usually I'm going from one bus to another, and I eat the hot dog near the pickup point.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I'm not one to waste food if it can be helped. This is due in part to how I was raised, but there is also the practical consideration that there is little room in the food budget for redundant extra food. In any event, there must be a terribly good reason before I don't eat something. It being gross is a pretty good reason. That is to say that if the food is something I can't get myself to choke down even with fervent pleas to God, I do just get rid of it. I may not substitute anything, but at least I won't make myself eat it.

It doesn't take much before I reach that point of grossness. All it takes is that I get to a point where I no longer trust the dish before me. Perhaps I find something rather bad nestled in it, like a hair. Maybe it's not something that obvious. I was eating my trademark (but not actually trademarked) dish of rice with tomato sauce when something rather odd popped up. I can't say what it was, but I know I wouldn't have found it in my usual sauce.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

So Hot Right Now

As September gives way to October and the officially declared autumn wears on, there continue to be rather warm days in Los Angeles. I know they must not compare to things back home in Arizona, but as I'm acclimated now, they're rather warm. I'm grateful that it cools off at night here, but that is all too little comfort at times. Mostly things are fine, but there are those occasions where I just can't hack it very well, pedigree aside.

An example is there in some of the places where I practice the performing arts. I suspect that they may not be erring on the side of too much air conditioning, and I don't mind that. I try to spare it as much as I can myself, but when the air goes off at home, the windows open. Where I have improv classes, there seem to be no windows that can be opened, and opening the doors seems downright unsafe. I mean that some unsavory characters walk by there. As a consequence it gets rather warm during class sometimes.