Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sound Check

A couple of days ago, I was advised of a remarkable concert to transpire here in my neighborhood. This concert was to feature a singular newly-formed group made of musicians who each were part of several highly regarded bands. Among the connections were The Clash, Eurythmics, The Sex Pistols and Blondie. Given that the show was more or less free and that this was a one-of-a-kind opportunity, I felt I had to go.

There was some fear that the show would be too crowded for me to get in, though a friend was taking pictures for the event. As it happened, I need not have worried (as is most often the case), for I was able to get in easily. I was able to take in the last act before the aforementioned supergroup, and it was not too bad. Notably, it was not uncommonly loud. I don't happen to be crazy about exceptionally loud music, though my roommates and neighbors might disagree. I know my limits.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Can By Chance

As I write this, I am refreshing myself with a cold beverage from the vending machine in my apartment lobby, of which I've written before. It's not the one that I had intended to get. That one is sitting in the refrigerator, awaiting its fate. No, the one I'm imbibing now is a canned lemonade, which I am not in the habit of selecting for myself. I guess that if I'm going to seek out any lemonade, it's going to have to be homemade. I wouldn't get a homemade soda. That sounds gross.

Undoubtedly you are wondering why I have the lemonade. That was my intention, so I hope you are. Perhaps you think that my first choice was unavailable, and so I fell back on another offering from the machine. In truth, the lemonade would not have been my second choice, or maybe even my third. I forget how many the machine has, but the lemonade is low on the list for me. No, I would have taken nothing if this was what I had to take.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Caught Not Caught Up

There is some great television on these days. Mindless trash may be more numerous and more popular, but for the more discriminating viewer, there is more than enough programming of a very high quality. In fact, there really is too much. Only someone who can dedicate hours a day can watch it all. A lot of people do watch tv for hours a day, but they watch the trash. I watch the good stuff, and while I ordinarily have plenty of time for it, I recently was uncharacteristically busy.

As a consequence, I have fallen woefully behind. The recent holiday weekend gave me time to catch up on just one show. I might have watched a little of everything, but I felt there would be a great psychological boost from knocking one show off the agenda. That show, of course, has now aired a new episode, again putting me a bit behind on it. At least I'm not four episodes back on it anymore. That was embarrassing.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Frequent Flyer

There I was, sitting in my seat on the plane back home for Thanksgiving. I had no hope of having the row to myself, but I always am optimistic that the middle seat might remain empty. This is lessened somewhat during the holidays, but it's still there. I never do have much hope that the person I'll be sitting by will be somebody I really want to know. It might be, but I never imagine it to be possible that it might be a girl I'd like to be with.

On this occasion, it was not to be an attractive girl, but it was a passably interesting man of advanced years. I didn't talk to him until the brief flight was nearly over. I had observed a peculiar magazine he was reading. At first, I thought it could be Soldier Of Fortune or some military magazine. It seemed to pertain to the Air Force or maybe Navy flying. My curiosity built, though I had a fine book to read myself. At long last, I had to inquire.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ready And Waiting

I don't buy a lot of alcohol these days. I buy some, generally as needed for larger gatherings. I don't keep any around as a rule anymore, though I used to. When I was newly old enough to drink, I habitually bought beer and hard alcohol, never drinking to excess but drinking a little most days. My intention was to develop a working knowledge of the various types and brands, so I tried never to buy the same thing twice.

A remaining trace of my old buying habits is at my parents' house. There are still a number of bottles that I bought when I still lived there. This is some four or five years ago at least. They don't touch it, and I'm there so seldom that I have no more than a few drinks there in a year. I'd say that it's all getting better with age, but the sorts of liquor that we're talking about are already as good as they can get right on the store's shelf.

Friday, November 25, 2011

They're Out There

When I am back home with my parents for some occasion or another, there are some things that are not generally part of my day-to-day life anymore with which I am momentarily reacquainted. There is the house (or what there is left of it that has not been changed), there is the ebb and flow of household life, and there is the incredible amount of food on hand at any given time. I'm never home long enough to fully return to the old routine, but some things come back.

Something that I think of little is the coyotes. There are hordes of them even in suburban Phoenix, to say nothing of the mountain preserves and further-out areas. They are hardly the only predator out there, and my mind turns to hawks, snakes and spiders immediately. It is the coyotes, though, that are the most outspoken foe. They can be heard to howl sometimes at night, and one guesses that they are in the process of creating some real heartache for some pet owner out there.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Spare The Bird, Spoil The Holiday

Today being Thanksgiving, I thought I might actually address the occasion for once. Usually it seems that notable dates pass by without comment from me. I'll think of something some months in advance and resolve to write it when the time comes. Of course I forget, but not this time. The centerpiece of Thanksgiving, of course, is the turkey. Boy, I love turkey. You know, I have read that the tryptophan in it is no more conducive to drowsiness than that in any large quantity of food.

That's really not what interests me. At this time, we always hear of the president pardoning a turkey. No one has done otherwise since Reagan, I believe. In that, Reagan might be our last honest president. He openly declared his intentions to eat a turkey. Since then, they pardon one turkey, and presumably eat others. That is not much of a merciful gesture to me. What is that, to spare one and consume the rest? That's meaningless to me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Talking About Talking On Bicycles

When walking down the street with someone, I often struggle to remain at the same pace. Frequently I will find myself well in front, and it is agonizing to slow down for them to catch up. This isn't because I'm so much more eager to get where I'm going, or even because I just move faster. I don't happen to be fast or have long legs. I just happen to be operating at a higher gear in such cases. It's sort of like something that happens to me on occasion, and I'm the slow one.

Plenty of my friends are avid bike riders, but there is one in particular. He lives in my building, and we go to a lot of the same places. When it's close enough, he rides his bicycle. I walk. If each of us independently arrives at the decision to go to the same place, an awkward thing happens. I can't go as fast as his bike the whole way. Even if I could, the conversation wouldn't be too terribly interesting for either of us.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Undignified Ride

I was walking to the grocery store, and had nearly gotten there. As has become my habit, I had eschewed my mp3 player in favor of allowing myself a few quiet minutes to take in all the sounds of the neighborhood. I do this for fun, because the noises out there cannot be had in my home, and my music can be had in either place. Also though, I  go without music on short walking trips for safety. One never knows what hazard may approach stealthily when music is blaring in the ear.

That very thing happened the other day. Had I not been free to hear it, I would have been caught entirely by surprise. As it was, there was little warning when a man on a bicycle suddenly sped past me on a relatively narrow sidewalk. He must have been awfully confident of slipping by me without incident, or else he didn't care if he did. I've seen this happen to other people, and was heartily sympathetic towards the people who were then in the place I was now. Now being in their shoes, I was most sincerely annoyed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Out There A Storm, In Here I'm Warm

It rained yesterday here in Los Angeles. I've written about it in the past, but it must have been a while, right? Perhaps we will find that something new emerges from an old subject through the passage of time. A person can't help but change at least a little. Now, I am of two minds about rain. I grew up in a desert community where the necessity for some rain soon was one of those safe topics everyone could readily agree on.

It was just the kind of rain that I like. It was hard, cold and had the decency to select a day on which I could remain indoors. I like rain fine when I am indoors, which I suppose is common to all reasonable people. Being caught out in it is awful, although it's really just the getting wet that's bad. It's a funny thing, actually. They say that illness is prevalent during rainstorms not because people are stuck out in it, but because the weather compels them to stay indoors for so long. That's where the disease runs rampant.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


As I write this, the single most notable home-cooked meal is coming up within a few days. I mean by that, of course, Thanksgiving. It comes at a very good time for me, as I have been in downtown LA on jury duty for most of two weeks. I typically eat as many meals at home as I can, eating out only when out with my friends on an infrequent basis. This seemed to be an unworkable system when in a courtroom most of the time.

I really probably could have brought my lunch with me, but then that would have required thinking about my lunch plans prior to the minute before I had to leave the building or be late. You don't want to be late for something at the courthouse. So it was that I found myself eating lunch either in the courthouse cafeteria or at a downtown eatery ten times in two weeks. First and foremost, that obviously led my food budget to greatly exceed its usual parameters.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Bold Life

As I write this, I am taking a chance. I was given by a friend some leftover lime-ade (or limeade as it appears to be spelled) after some gathering that now escapes me. As I often do upon receiving such gifts, I put it away and thought no more about it. Plenty of times when I was thirsty, I chose something else, on occasion going to great lengths to get something rather than just drinking the limeade that I had. I can't explain that.

Every day made me more reticent about drinking it, but finally I took the carton out and examined it. I found that the expiration (or 'best by') date had passed, but decide that I would be the judge of whether it was truly done for. After all, the company must be overly cautious for fear of lawsuits from the stupid and ignorant. I could decide with a high probability whether it was safe. I got out a glass and poured it full of the limeade.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Day

Lately I have had reason to spend a lot of time in downtown LA. That neighborhood, like most in the metro area, is a mixed bag. As it happens, I have found myself in one of the nicer sections of it, and I have relished the opportunity to avail myself of its eateries and cultural highlights (although I have missed more than I have managed to get to). On the whole I have become more acquainted with the erstwhile city center in a positive way.

The timing of my gravitation towards the area coincides with that phenomenon common to a number of the nation's most prominent cities, 'Occupy Wall Street'. I think they must tailor the name to the actual place of the protests in question, or else the title is a misnomer in more cases than it is an apt name. In any case, I have had occasion to see things that I would otherwise not have made the trip downtown to see. It's been quite an experience.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Creep

There's nothing new about the Christmas season creeping up on us earlier and earlier every year, although it had seemed that nothing would push it back past Thanksgiving. That, I know I thought, was a popular enough holiday that it would stand its ground as a firebreak against further Yuletide creep. There's the big meal, the iconography, the associated football games and all the traditions, few of which honestly require any unpleasant activities such as giving. Still, it ultimately was no match for the juggernaut.

I say that Thanksgiving has given way because of something I have been made aware of recently. Each radio market has at least one station which gives way to Christmas music every year as the holiday grows near. Typically it seems that it is a soft rock station, which says much about the nature of that genre's appeal. In LA, the station best known for its Christmas music is KOST. They have not yet begun their Christmas music programming.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Train Fever: Catch It!

Relying on public transportation as I do, I have had some opportunity to consider the experience of hustling to catch a train. Where I live, the subway station is some ten minutes' walk, although I would call walk a trifle leisurely of a term for what you must do to get there in that time. At the very least, it's a very determined walk. No stopping or loafing is permissible if one is to catch the train, even (as I perpetually fear) if you encounter a friend along the way.

Most unfortunate are unanticipated detours of the kind forced by the construction of that movie theater I was ooh-ing and ah-ing about. I must either cross the street there or walk in towards the offices on the same side of the street. I fear that either one could cost me precious time as I rush to reach the station in the morning. Of course you may say that I could remove any risk of missing the train by leaving five minutes early, but then you must know what little sense there is in counseling me that way. Would you really waste time assuring a raving madman on the street that the world won't end?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'll Dress, I Guess

I remain a novice in dressing up nicely. I am improving and now can pull it off a little bit, appearing fashionable for perhaps a day every few weeks and maintaining a look of torn-up jeans and shabby shirts the rest of the time. The nice clothes just don't hold out for very long. They will overtake my wardrobe piece by piece over time, but for now I must pick my spots. I think I manage that all right, with some exceptions.

I resort to trickery when I must dress decently for more than a couple days in a row or, as is most often the case, when I am unprepared and having nothing decent properly laundered. At such times, I look for my nice collared shirts and find them all crumpled into balls in a pile. They are invariably badly wrinkled. If I think of it, I stash one in the bathroom when I shower. The resulting steam makes it possible to make them look passable under minimal scrutiny.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Yesterday I finally got to a long-awaited acting gig. It was a modest endeavor, and rather because of the financial footing of the thing than because of the talent level concerned. I felt fortunate to be involved with as many fine performers and other creative types as I was on the occasion, for it is not always the case. I'm not yet some kind of accomplished professional whose keen eye for such projects is rightly admired, but I can say that I was more interested than average in this one.

The script, vigorously protected as it was, was a good one. I certainly do not deny my selfish streak, and the character assigned to me looked to be a fun one. I got the idea that, although I was called on to wear a suit, I was not selected merely because I was known to own one. It was perhaps presumed that I did as it was that the others did, but I trust that I made the cut against other suit-owning actors because of other merits.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I have complained in the past about construction seeming to take forever on various projects and non-projects around my own neighborhood and others that I frequent. There is, for example, the pile of rubble remaining from a demolished residential structure a few doors down from my own (if one counts as doors disasters areas that have no door). It seemed that one was on the fast track, but a pile of destroyed foundation it remains. Might it ever become something?

There is something out there which needs no such wondering, for it is so obviously becoming something. Indeed, it is being completely with such lightning-quick efficiency that it is hard to recall what it was when it was nothing. As it happens to be on the way to the subway station, I pass by it most days. I have watched as it rose up from a pit in the ground, and if I were diligent enough to take photographs on a consistent basis, I would have the makings of quite a viral video. Alas, I have no such diligence.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A-Tisket, A-Tasket

More than once I have addressed specific pre-made dishes available at the grocery store, hot and ready to go or at the very least in need only of heating up. Past loved items have included the deli sandwich (recently turned to again in a moment of weakness), the burrito (which I may in fact have yet to write about) and the ever-reliable can of generic ravioli. None of them, as ephemeral as some can be, quite generate the excitement that I feel for another item.

It's a basket of random items, really. Many if not most are fried foods, ranging from chicken to onion rings and including all the things in between. There can also be things like green bean casserole and potatoes au gratin. No two are composed of exactly the same items. It's a challenge sometimes to decide between two such baskets, comparing and contrasting the offerings within them. The only thing assured is that they measure at the same volume.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Made Up

People misspeak a lot, and when they manage not to it is often because they are saying the wrong thing deliberately, or because they are simply ignorant of the truth. Regrettably, some of the things people say which fall into one of these categories become accepted as truisms. This must be one of those Goebbels things. In any case, I deplore the fact that people would believe anything that is so patently untrue as something I hear all the time.

You'll hear people say, "You can't make this stuff up". Often you hear this after something like a pair of twin brothers both winding up as quarterbacks of their respective high school football teams, and then facing each other in a title game. I'll allow that it's improbable, as are a whole host of scenarios that play out in real life. Is it impossible to make such things up? It absolutely is not impossible. It's very easy- easier in fact than making up the probable.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


There is a scene in 'Twelve Angry Men' where one juror is questioned by another on his activities of the past several days in order to prove the point that it is often difficult to do so. I have seen the movie plenty of times (and don't imagine I could stand it even one more time) but that point never really hit home, although I basically found it true. Perhaps then my events calendar was too easy to keep track of, and I was then perhaps more possessed of a sound mind in matters of memory.

I recently made the effort to remember what I had done each of the past seven days, the purpose of this being to dredge a few ideas that I might be able to write about for this very blog. I started off well enough, recalling fairly well what I had done that day and the day before. It continued to come in fits and starts, but before I was three-quarters of the way there, I began to blank. I haven't been insanely busy. I've merely had an ordinary (by my standards; by those of others, maybe even sub-ordinary) week.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Give And Take

I have had a difficult time in my life of getting to where I was at ease in conversation. I grew up very socially awkward, and was largely withdrawn and isolated. Over time I improved and now talk eagerly, although it remains difficult in group situations during which I must contend for opportunities to contribute. At such times, I still sometimes find myself sidelined and pretending to be content doing something by myself, but this is now relatively uncommon.

In those one-on-one scenarios though, I now face a far different problem from the one of the past. I struggle now to do what Dale Carnegie counseled, which is to be a well-liked conversationalist mainly by being a good listener. Ever fiber of my being strains against this, revolting against the order from my reasoning mind to contain the wonderful things that the rest of my mind has thought of to say. Regretfully I fail more than I succeed at this.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"...And Keep In Touch."

These days, I am far more social than I used to be. When I get the idea that I have eradicated old tendencies towards isolation though, I tend to be corrected. It's all still there, and maybe all that's changed is that I am now open to being wrenched away from them by external forces. If I were in an unfamiliar town with no one I knew, I probably would just stay in the hotel room. With a friend, I might even take the lead on going out and doing things, but only because they were there.

I've never fooled myself into thinking I have become comfortable talking on the phone. Before everyone else had abandoned phone calls in favor of texting and online things, I was very ill at ease. The pressing of the last digit to someone's number felt like cutting the crucial wire on a bomb, with al the attendant anxiety. Phone conversations are hard, because there is no forgiveness for pauses. In person you're still communicating when you're not talking. On the phone, you might as well not be there if you're not talking.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Keeping Time

As I think was implicit in my recent post on jazz, I love music. I don't know who doesn't like music (excepting the tone deaf), but I really do love it. It took me a while to get into it, but as I went to college I really fell for it. These days I listen to it all the time. Honestly it's not enough to just listen to it. I mostly have to participate in some way. That often means singing along, at least until I get self conscious. Sometimes I sing in the absence of music, as in the shower.

Often it's less the words that get to me and more the beat. I'll snap my fingers to it, sometimes very vigorously. As with singing, it can happen in the absence of actual music. Sometimes I'm playing it in my head, or trying to write my own song. If I'm working on something of my own, it can get bad. Sometimes I've snapped my fingers long and hard enough to develop blisters, or come close to it. I can feel when that's about to happen, and it's still not easy to resist.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


As I write this, I have got a hell of a problem. As you read this, I pray that I have resolved it. I appreciate that I may be worrying you, but you'll see that I'm not exaggerating the severity of the issue. The thing is that I have got too much to read. It is my curse that I am so inquisitive. I can't look in any direction without seeing something I want to read, watch or know more about. My list of materials to take in grows rapidly, and well in excess of my ability to work it down.

Let's look at my reading problem specifically. I've been reading an interesting book of oral history on the Great Depression. It felt a relevant tome to take up. Then while I was still in the early stages of that, I was reading a newspaper article on certain classic old books of self-help getting updated for today's world and whether this was necessary. A particular book was mentioned that I decided I just had to read. I reserved it just as soon as I was able.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Be Square

I've written about my affection for coffee, but I must say that there is no affection unless the coffee is nearly a confection. That is to say that it has got to be fairly sweet. I usually have plenty of cream and plenty of sugar in there. I suppose that the latter is somewhat out of fashion, but unlike some I don't consider denying a truth to change it any. I'll just admit that I put a good amount of sugar into my coffee, all right?

It's surprising the options you have, especially now. I mostly have used good, refined cane sugar from Hawaii. Sometimes I have used artificial stuff, and sometimes that peculiar stuff which I understand is made from sugar cane but is somehow not the same. Brown sugar and powdered sugar do not work especially well. Sweetened, condensed milk is interesting. The thing that I am using presently is sugar cubes.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I Like Jazz

I have what it would be fair to call an eclectic taste in music. Now, don't mistake my meaning when I say that, because I certainly don't mean that amorphous "world music" so prevalent in coffee shops. That's the kind of music it seems people often mean when the word eclectic comes up. No, my musical tastes are somewhat more conventional than that, if not always greatly more commercial. One of the genres I enjoy is jazz, which has not made money in a hell of a long time.

I want to stress that I like the right kind of jazz. Smooth jazz is not any good (except that the voice which announces the station identification for smooth jazz outposts on the radio is rather impressive). Smooth jazz is like white rice to the wild rice that is proper jazz. It's filler. They use it at stores to influence you into passivity. If you're serious about jazz, you know that you only get your necessary allotment of musical vitamins and nutrients from the real deal.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Some Neighbors

I've written about the neighbors in my building who are also my friends, but never to my knowledge have I written of the rest, inside and outside of the building. Inside the building there are some who I've begun to see enough times that I know whether or not to be glad that I've encountered them. There are one or two that I like, one or two that I fear, and a vast middle towards which I am indifferent. I'm open to liking or disliking those, but would just as soon not get into any particulars with any of them at present, although I reserve the right to in future.

I'm less hesitant at the moment to say unkind things about those in neighboring buildings. Directly behind my building is a church. I have nothing against them in principle, but there are a couple of points which I don't care for. They keep their wireless internet secured, which I believe is un-Christian. Very Christian is their laissez-faire attitude about the raccoons living on their grounds, but also it is unsanitary and unsafe. Lastly, I could stand quieter Sunday services. Otherwise they are fine neighbors.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Please Be Good Again

The first books with more words than pictures that I can recall reading as a boy were, of course, those of the Hardy Boys. You may well remember them yourselves, but if you don't, it takes little time to grasp the premise. A pair of boys in their late teens are well on their way to following their famous detective father into the business of solving mysteries. The elder boy Frank was the more thoughtful and levelheaded, while Joe was the impetuous and quick to action younger sibling. They had friends, girlfriends, cars, speedboats and a crime lab- as do most American boys in youth.

My father would read the books to me, stopping periodically to show me the illustrations. While I can't recall the acquisition of the first volumes, I can recall the desperate efforts to find subsequent ones which we had not read, and the attempts to induce my father to read each in turn before bed. It naturally grew more and more difficult a task on both points. I would often see exotic titles from the series for sale at the grocery store, but had little choice but to hope that they would become available at the library. At that time, I knew of no way to obtain books from remote branches in the system. There remain many I have not read.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Play Time

I have a playful quality to me. The grim, stoic visage I display by default does not betray that, but it's there. When among those I trust, I grow very silly and childlike in the little games that I play. Those who indulge me or otherwise grant me license know this all too well. Perhaps some begin to regret it, getting tired as they must of the characters, the voices and the persistent refusal to offer a straight answer to any question.

I do get weary of such things myself, but what can I do? A person can change with great effort if they really want to, but they can do little to alter their own nature. The only way to stop it is to be among those who I don't trust, don't like or don't feel able to be myself with. All too often, the cure is far worse than the disease, as students of oncological science surely know. I'll stick with the obnoxious condition I'm in, thank you.