Thursday, May 31, 2012

Health? Nuts!

There's nothing original in observing that it's unpleasant to be sick. I shy away from writing tired stuff if I can help it, but that may be to my detriment considering how well formulaic, done-to-death material tends to do. In any case, I'm under the weather (meaning sick and not hung over this time), and I can't think about anything else. One may as well write about being sick if the alternative is to write nothing, and that's where I stand.

I was recently in close proximity to forty thousand people from out of town, and I suspect that one of them may have been sick, passing it on to me. I don't bear that person any ill will (unless they knew very well they were sick), but I would appreciate it if they could reach out to me and let me know what's happening with them so that I can plan day by day. If they get worse, I'd like some notice so that I can rearrange my engagements.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride"

I don't easily abide by fast rides at amusement parks. I can do them and even enjoy them, but it's tough. It's easy enough to play it cool in advance of the ride. You wait in line long enough that you can about forget what you're even in line for. I was at a theme park recently, and there were indeed a couple attractions where I got in line not knowing what it was or forgot while in line. Ignorance is, as they say, bliss.

I become quietly uneasy as the ride grows closer, but ultimately resignation sets in. Once the ride starts doing what's scary, it's not so bad a lot of the time. The somewhat milder of the scary rides are not so bad, anyway. The more severe of them bring me about as close as I get to really fervent, sincere prayer. I put a death grip on the bar they have there, and I frantically beg God to protect me. So far he has done so, or the rides are perfectly safe. I prefer to hedge my beds, personally.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Not The "Ladiest" Lady

When I have positively no ideas, I can always rely on one stalwart source to provide for me, and perhaps you can guess that I am referring to public transportation. It gives when nothing else does. There is always an incident or a person who moves me to write. On this occasion, there is a woman who I saw on the subway. I can't really quite capture what her deal is, but I'll tell you what I know and perhaps the key to the person will emerge.

She was awfully tall, and built to match her height tolerably well. She had blonde hair and was wearing these white fishnet stockings. I don't want to draw any libelelous conclusions, so I'll confine myself to what I know. She sounded as if she could benefit from the attentions of Henry Higgins, by which I mean that she did not sound terribly refined. She cursed with ease, and didn't sound over-burdened by formal schooling.

Monday, May 28, 2012


It was rather late at night and I had just finished watching "Rain Man" (which I'd found to be a disappointment). I was hungry, and I knew I had nothing of consequence to eat. There was rice, cheese, oatmeal and my hash browns. I could have eaten the hash browns, as I've done in the past, but eating those late at night robs me of the urge to do so the following morning, and I prefer to maintain the integrity of my breakfasts. I resolved to go out to the grocery store.

Once there, I saw that they had a container of assorted fried foods and sundries available, as they sometimes do. I could not resist it. After getting my contact lens fluid, I took the two items to the self checkout and intended to be on my way. Of course, it could not be so simple, and the complication was to be found at the bottom of the food container. It's important to note that you aren't always going to be able to tell what you've got until you start eating it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hunger Renewed

It's a tough thing when you get down to having almost no food. This is certainly worse than having absolutely no food, because in that situation your decision is dictated solely by whether or not you have money. If you have money, you buy a bunch of food. If you don't, you suffer. If you have just a little bit of food but not really what you'd like, you face somewhat of a more severe challenge with more factors in play.

If I've written about this thing before it's because this happens to me more than I'd like. It tends to be a product of not being eager to visit the store more than of not having the means to rectify the situation. It begins when I find myself entertaining the idea of eating ketchup, or oatmeal. The oatmeal, I believe I've said, has been around for an awfully long time, so I clearly don't like it. I will eat it if I'm desperately hungry.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Shop Around The Corner

You'll recall from previous posts my interest in the development of local commercial properties and residential lots. Specifically, where there is an empty storefront I am watching and waiting for what will fill it. It has been slow in many cases, but sooner or later something will come in and occupy something that has been vacant for sometime. It is, I hope, a reflection of an improving economy. Of course, not every new business that so fills a void is terribly welcome.

Some are real disappointments. I recall an empty space back in Highland Park that eventually was taken by some purveyor of cheap toys. That was a real letdown. Likewise there is this new places that is poised to open up in a place out on the corner of my very own street. For some time I tried to figure out what it must be destined for, that place. There were no real clues except that there was a lot of activity in the back. What was happening in the front was obscured.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Two Ships

You meet some odd types on public transportation. That's the only way I know I'm normal, if I've met people who I think are strange. Now, I ordinarily minimize my contact, keeping it to staring from a distance if I can help it. If I'm engaged in some kind of conversation, I discourage it with short, closed-ended answers. It's rare that I find myself in any kind of prolonged exchange, but in truth those few times are rather stimulating.

I met such a character the other day. I was coming back from Hollywood, and tried to hurry and catch the train rather than wait for the next one. Regrettably, I missed the train and resigned myself to waiting along with the sorts of people that are in a Hollywood train station at one in the morning. They are not your garden variety humanity, by and large. This one particular kid, though, may be all too common of a personality.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What Do You Know?

I've been getting annoyed lately by talk of the old streetcar system that there used to be here in Los Angeles (and by extension those that used to exist in other American cities). I'll be online and see somebody I know has posted a map showing where the streetcars used to run. They'll be saying how we had this paradise of wonderful, extensive public transit, and then the villainous car companies ripped it all out and doomed us to gridlock.

I don't know how true that all is. I know a little about the streetcars and the stories about why they're gone, but not a lot. At least I admit my relative ignorance. You won't hear that from the romantics bemoaning the loss of something they never experienced personally. I wonder if it is as simple as the innocent public being robbed of something they wanted by evil General Motors. I'm inclined to doubt, so much do we hear about America's love affair with the car.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wrapped Around My Little Finger

After I graduated high school, it seemed like the thing to do was to get a class ring. I had the idea somehow that you get issued one, and everyone gets an identical item. It turns out that it's not so much like the Super Bowl in that respect as I though. You have to buy the ring, and you have to make a lot of choices which affect the price of the ring and which distinguish yours from everyone else's. I'm not sure of where that ring is now.

For some time I wore it, but soon enough I couldn't stand to anymore. I suppose you get to a point of maturity which no longer permits you to wear a high school class ring, but I don't think I got as far as that. It start to really unnerve me, having that thing on there. I would sometimes feel a desperate need to get it off, and even when the process was eased by soap and water, it could be a real task getting it off of there. When at long lost I was almost unable to remove it, I would not put it back on.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On The Range

It's pretty incredible what a difference in quality there is between products that are separated by relatively little in terms of cost. I've been thinking of the various canned chilis available at the grocery store. To me, the gold standard is and has always been Stagg. Fittingly, it's the most expensive, and presently is to be had for something like 2.50. From there, the drop in quality runs down along with the drop in price all the way.

After Stagg, I would say that the next best possibility is probably Hormel. That is something like seventy cents less, and you notice the difference. It's not bad, but it couldn't be mistaken for chili from a restaurant by any stretch of the imagination, and I think you just might get convinced that Stagg is that. The savings might make up for the difference in quality, so I can't fault anyone for making that choice. I do it myself, and rarely buy Stagg.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tree Lounge

I mentioned yesterday that I had participated in a charity walk/run event. Because it so closely followed the Toastmasters event that day and because it went all night long, I tried to work on possible ideas for this blog as I walked. Consequently, ideas tended to spring from things I was looking at. One such idea was neatly summed up in a single word: trees. As it worked out, I wrote about the only thing that I could think of as I was in fatigue-driven mental free-fall. That one thing was of course the fundraiser itself.

 Hours later, I was recovered enough to both remember and intelligently develop some of those other ideas. I'll say a few words now about trees. My personal favorite is the Ponderosa Pine, owing to my experiences in the cool upper altitudes of northern Arizona. The aforementioned tree has the lovely scent of vanilla, if not its flavor upon consumption. That smell, incidentally, is potent enough to cover up the putrid odor of an outhouse, which we all appreciated at summer camp there. Yes, I definitely favor pines.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Giving Weekend

On Friday, I was shooting a short film (or a video sketch, depending things that I couldn't explain. Even more inexplicable is the premise and my role in it. Without spoiling the plot, I play a man in a chicken suit who is a wine aficionado and a smoker, to say nothing of his romantic proclivities. It took a few hours of my afternoon, and for a while I thought I'd have to go into the evening with it as well. I didn't but I thought I did long enough to make the next morning difficult.

This was when I had to be at a Toastmasters contest which was being held kind of far away and definitely very early. I didn't have to do that much, but I had to do it for ten hours. There was a meal accompanied by snacks and some beverages, along with entertaining speeches. The thing was more the logistical burden on me, but I dealt with it and then moved on to my next event. It proved to be much more arduous than what preceded it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sunrise En Route

I am always eager to improve myself, although that does not always manifest itself as genuine effort. It's often mere aspiration more than anything, and one way in which that is true is how I deal with mornings. I admire those who are up bright and early. I can manage it from time to time, but not with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. I suspect that I may find it easier to do mornings when late night opportunities begin to dry up.

That's the thing: I can't get myself to curtail the late night when the early morning comes, and so I either burn the candle at both ends or neither. It seems indecent to get to bed before 10pm, and yet that is what I found myself faced with the other day. There's something very wrong about heading out for the day not just before it's light out but before the newspaperman has hit the block (a daily occurrence which used to mean something).

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Mood Swing Thing

When I sat down to write and starting casting about for ideas, I was angry. I was just blindly, unreasonably mad. I could try to explain why, but words couldn't adequately capture how senseless and stupid it was. I was upset with myself for getting mad, and knew well how unpleasant anyone would find me to be if anyone was around. I resolved to try and rid myself of this terrible mood, and the sooner I could manage it the better.

My first thought was to listen to Broadway show tunes. Most of them are fairly upbeat in my experience, and even those few which are dark in tone are still far too catchy to feed a wrathful mood. Well, I thought that the songs were working on me until I went into the kitchen and found myself swearing at the ultimately incorrect assumption that we had no clean plates left. Clearly, if I was going to rid myself of this foul mental state, it was going to take more than anything from "Anything Goes" or "Annie".

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kitchen Clutter

Shortly before sitting down to write, I got rid of something that had been in the refrigerator. It was a plastic bottle of some booze that a visitor had left behind some time ago. In fact, this visit transpired at some indeterminate point last year, and that means that this bottle has sat there for a minimum of five or six months and probably more. Let it not be said that I am at ease with such a state of affairs that permits such lengthy stays in the kitchen for foods that are not ever consumed.

Our refrigerator is rather unruly though, and a number of factors contribute. To some degree or another it may be true that we all here are pack rats, or maybe I'm just trying to provide myself cover by tarring my roommates with the same brush. At the very least, I am that thing and go uncorrected by anyone. The accumulation of too much mostly not a problem, as I rapidly eat whatever I am at liberty to eat before it can spoil, but the odd thing does present a problem.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Doing It Dirty

We have a dishwasher here at the apartment (and, thwarting the old joke, none of us is married). That makes it easy to keep a reliable supply of clean dishes, or rather it should do that. Somehow it happens all too often that the thing that you need is dirty, or there are no more of that thing. Admittedly, I only have one coffee mug that I like, so that's my fault. Why, though, should we ever be out of clean plates when we are never out of detergent? I have no answer.

I do have an answer for how to proceed when you are out of such items. Of course you can get the dishes loaded and the machine going, but that takes a while. Who has such time? You can also hand-wash the one thing that you need, but then it is left wet and you can either wait for it to dry or dry it with something that will leave fibers and shreds of things on it. No, there is in truth just one course of action that will satisfy me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I See An Eatery

There is a construction project near my home that I have been keeping an eye on. It is not, unfortunately, on either of the vacant lots presently marring my own lovely street. In a way it's more exciting than that, because those are both fated to be filled with some shabby apartment building or another. I won't have any use for them myself, and I doubt whether I'll find them very interesting to look at upon completion. No, the new construction I speak of is on that great street running east and west, Magnolia Boulevard.

There had been some speculation in my circles that the president might have been set to travel along that street on his way from the airport to a nearby fundraiser, and why not? With such fine shops and restaurants as it has, he might even have been tempted to make a stop. Probably adding to the embarrassment of riches will be the new restaurant "Bow And Truss"), which may not have either a bow or a truss, but will surely have good food and a nice look.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Don't Be Funny: The Music Is Money

The radio station that I used to listen to when I was younger (back in Phoenix) was an album rock station. They really played good music, but I didn't especially appreciate it then. I tolerated their music mainly because I liked the other things that they did, and chief among them was the comedy stuff they put on. I used to think their morning DJs were really funny, but looking back I can't say that I would think the same thing today.

Some of their best bits were things like a parody of the Lone Ranger wherein the titular character was flamboyantly gay, and they would do clumsy parody songs of local current events. They had a dynamite bit where they would report and comment on some stupid criminal story, and this would be capped off with a censored version of a line from "Blazing Saddles". I really did think all that stuff was awfully funny, and wished I could listen to all the three or four hours of their show every day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fashion Choice

I was at a somewhat upscale restaurant the other day, and you will recall that I am somewhat ill at ease in such surroundings. I don't know sometimes what to make of the people that are to be found there. I get your basic classy dining attire, and can put on a suit as needed, but I don't get some of what people do. There was this man who was doing something that you see from time to time, but which makes no real sense.

He walked in to join some people already seated, and I noticed that he had a sweater draped over his shoulders so that his back was warmed and the weight of the sleeves held it fast to his body. I have never understood this practice. Is he really cold in such localized areas on his body? Such a specific pattern of coldness would signify to me that he must be ill somehow, because usually your whole body gets cold.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dangers On The Train

For a lot of those who write, writing in public is apparently the thing to do. I'm not going to be cynical and say that anyone who does that is just doing it to be seen doing it, but some people who write in public are doing it precisely for that reason. I can't say I blame them entirely. We're fed a lot of romantic stories about writing in Parisian cafes and Irish pubs, and it rubs off on me as much as anyone. It's not really for me, though.

I'd love to have a story about jotting down my first novel on napkins at a coffee shop like JK Rowling apparently did, but the only thing I'd be putting down on those napkins would be coffee stains. There are a number of problems for me. First of all, I get antsy in a hurry when I'm in a place of business where my sole ostensible reason for being there is drinking coffee. I'd drink one, doing more of that than writing, and after that was exhausted I'm sure I'd feel like I should leave instead of loitering.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Writing In The Mind

Writing is hard. It's easier than it used to be in some practical respects. Typing on a computer is easier than a typewriter, and the typewriter represented a marked improvement over writing by hand (although I find that sometimes writing by hand is the only way). Of course, the mechanical process of writing down words is nothing compared to coming up with the words. The hardest part of writing, it's no shocker to say, happens in the brain.

I don't suppose that the process of writing is very interesting to watch happen. No really notable examples from film or television suggest themselves particularly, and perhaps for good reason. When I sit down to write, it's grim stuff. I get the computer going, open up the proper program, and then it gets tough. I lower my head and close my eyes. I rub my temples and do a lot breathing. It sort of sounds like yoga or that pregnancy preparation stuff, come to think of it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Here's a kind of a puzzle. Logic and puzzles aren't really my thing, because I'm not naturally good at them. What I'm not naturally good at, I have to work at. What I have to work at had better pay me, or else it's not apt to happen. In any event, here's one puzzle which I cannot get away from, and it has to do with my daily routine to get ready for facing the day. I haven't been able to crack it yet, but you may find you can.

It's all about the order in which I do things. It's like the near-disaster of the Apollo 13 mission. At one point, it was necessary to figure out exactly what order in which the men in the capsule had to turn things back on to prevent calamity after they had powered down. That at least is my recollection, and I really have not watched the film since not too longer after it had come out. I at least think that it is pertinent to this problem.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Song Bird, Wrong Bird

I like singing. I may not be much good at it (or at least no one could deny that I lack polish), but that doesn't temper my enthusiasm. I have found, though, that enthusiasm tends to get me in trouble. I realize often only after the fact that I can't manage songs such as those by Hall & Oates (and recently, Cher). That's all right, though. The key is that you have fun. I have the most fun when I do well, or when there's no one around to judge.

I try to pick things I'll do well at karaoke, but when I'm around the house anything goes. I was just thinking about the little things I'll sing when I'm washing dishes or getting reading in the morning. It'll be one of those soft, breathy numbers in the style of Diana Krall or some such singer. When I hit upon one like that, it'll enter my repertoire of songs meant for no one but myself (and a lady, perhaps). A good example is "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" by the Shirelles.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Throwing The Book At 'Em

I was walking up to the library to return a couple of movies and pick out a couple more. What did I see except several police officers advancing on the building? I looked at my watch and swore. There were perhaps fifteen minutes left before the place was due to close, and all I could think of was that if the police were necessary, then something must be going on inside that was going to eat up a lot of that time and impede my efforts to transact my business.

As it turned out, the two patrol cars and four officers had little impact on things. I gather that whatever it was that brought them there, the person responsible was no longer present. I assumed that the staff would be rather agitated, as I have found to be the case in the past, but this time it was not so. It was just another day, all appearances to the contrary. There was a woman and what I will assume was her daughter ahead of me, and I don't know that they were convinced of that.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Good Old Old Man

There's this old guy that I see in my neighborhood. I have to describe the layout of my street. One side is all apartment buildings, and the other side is some houses and some smaller apartment buildings. The street at one end leads to a small street which is adjacent to a major road, and the other end leads directly to the next major road. As I walk out to that second major road, there is on the near right corner a vacant storefront which is oddly busy in the back. That's where the man is.

I wonder plenty what all the work in the back is about if there's nothing going on out front. It's enough to be suspicious, and the old man does nothing to allay that. It's bad enough that he's there without that, though. I feel dread about passing him, and it's not that he's remotely unpleasant (because he's not) or that he will just be sitting there asleep in his chair or otherwise minimally aware of his surroundings (although that is true).

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Get It In Writing

You see strange things and encounter strange people if you are anywhere often enough or long enough. It should, therefore, be no shock that I have as odd of experiences as I do at the library. I am only there for some twenty or thirty minutes every three days, but still manage to get the full impression of all the weird goings-on at my local branch. The difference may be that when I was there for a full two hours a day for want of a computer at home, I had to suffer through more than enough exposure.

In any event, there was this recent incident. I was perusing the DVDs, as I am most of the time that I am there. Every few weeks, I am selecting a new book, but not this time. A woman softly asked for my pardon. I assumed that I was in her way, and courteously stepped aside to let her get at what she wanted. This is what I would want others to do for me, though they don't always. She asked for my pardon again, though.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Eat It

For a friend's birthday, we went to an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet. This is very dangerous. Seafood is one of those areas of cuisine for which the margin of error is very thin, and the repercussions for misstep are terribly severe. It was not without reservations that I embarked upon the endeavor, although I was very excited for it as well. As I write this it is impossible to say with authority how things will turn out, but I know how they stand now.

The entire day leading up to the dinner, I opted to eat nothing. I also abstained from drinking anything apart from water. I had the idea that this would create a powerful appetite and really heighten the experience. Too many Thanksgivings have been marred by an appetite undermined by a full day of incessant snacking. I meant to get the most out of this buffet, and was not about to let a breakfast or a lunch interfere.

Friday, May 4, 2012


It's a good thing that I don't do things on a day to day basis with the hope of getting a response out of people. I say this because I don't seem to be able to do it consistently. It's something that happens, but not when or because I want it to happen. In life, you have to be happy with what you get on the inside, because external stuff cannot be counted on. That's why I'm glad I like the shirts I bought the other day. I'm probably going not going to get much of a response.

I don't know why I would expect one, but you get really narcissistic. You think that because you look in the mirror all the time and know all the details of how you look, everyone else knows them too. It hurts to think that people aren't really paying attention. Now, it's true enough that if I got a haircut, it would be commented on for the foreseeable future, but then that would a response bought with now several years of time invested. It hardly seems worth it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Short Some Shirts, But Not Shorts

As you'll recall, I recently lost a number of shirts (some of which may yet be salvaged), with the likely culprit being the deodorant that I was using. As I said initially, one has to see in such things the opportunity that is there. I tried to anticipate the excitement that I would feel about selecting new shirts and then wearing them. The day following the disaster, I did not have to time to act on that, but the day after that I did have some free time.

I decided to seek out one of the neighborhood's thriving thrift stores. There I found some rather promising shirts, selecting six at the rate of two dollars apiece. That is positively a steal for what I got. As I may have noted in the past, there is probably no store where you can find firsthand the things that are available secondhand. I tried to find a balance between decent, understated shirts and ones which made me laugh enough that I wanted them. I think I did that.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hark! A Thing About Viral Marketing

I give no end of thought to marketing myself and my offerings better online. The brass ring that we all chase these days is the prospect of "going viral"- of organically touching a nerve with something, then having the initial wave of people generate a second, and the second a third, and so on. That's the dream, but it's so maddeningly elusive. Worse still, it's utterly capricious. You might hit it with some painfully-wrought labor of love, but you might also hit it with a video of a cat boxing a toddle.

I have not so far put a lot of effort into making that happen for me. I don't know that it's something that you can force, but the thing that you might do is to try and ride trends that are already happening. I don't naturally seek to do the things that everyone is doing, myself. I'll notice that everybody is churning out "first world problems" on Twitter, and contemplate trying to do the same. The idea invariably stirs less than nothing in me emotionally, and so I don't bother.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Hell Of A Massacre Of A Butchering

I had a real tragedy the other day, and I say that with the full knowledge that it is utter hyperbole. Really, it's terribly insensitive to characterize what happened as a tragedy in light of true bad things, but I can't help myself. Anyway, I'll just lay it out there and let you judge for yourself whether it was as bad as it feels to me while writing this. I may not even feel that badly about it when I look back over this after it has been published, but we'll see.

It's known that I struggle with laundering clothes. If there's anything but ordinary wear to wash out of something, then it's really beyond me. A stain, as I've noted, is invariably a death sentence. Now, I had bought some new deodorant that promised to make sweat stains a thing of the past, and I jumped at this. I've always been afraid of such a thing happening, and in fact I think it has once or twice. Sadly, I was misled.