Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Night At The Theatre

I saw a production of Shakespeare in the park yesterday evening. Specifically, it was at Griffith Park here in Los Angeles. A good friend tipped me off to it, and I was not about to pass up some culture outdoors for free. I tore myself away from some terribly compelling stuff going on around my computer and got on the train to my friend's place, from which we would head off to the park after fortifying ourselves with snacks.

The play was well attended, and the whole affair was run in a smooth, professional fashion. I feared that people might not be especially well behaved, particularly if they had been as successful in transgressing the policy against liquor as we had, but I found that everyone was about as eager to see the play without interruption as we were. The night went unmarred, and we were able to have ourselves a fine time.

Friday, August 30, 2013

First Strike

Contest season has come around again in the world of Toastmasters. In the last cycle, I did not do overly well with my International speech (which is a standard speech that commonly is inspirational or otherwise dramatic), which is not surprising. Not being especially at ease with such emotions in life, how could I be expected to marshal them to my benefit in a speech? More surprising was that I did poorly in the Table Topics contest. That's just improv, which should be my area.

In the cycle before that, it was evaluations again (I think) which I did not go far in, and humorous speech, in which I was lucky enough to win it all. I hope to duplicate that success this time with a speech that is rather promising in a contest that matches my strengths tolerably well. Without going into too much detail, I spun a yarn of the Marx Brothers inventing laughter to combat ghosts in depression-era New York.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Night Capped

The last couple days I have been recounting aspects of my Sunday. Monday it was my fantasy draft and yesterday it was my jokes that got into a local sketch show. Of course, I was not done yet after that finished. I was feeling pretty good, having had myself a little triumph there. If they'd cut my stuff entirely or heavily manipulated it, I'd have just wanted to go home. As it was, I wanted to keep the good times going.

Some other friends of mine (with whom I'd been on an improv team until recently) were there to host a two person improv show of their own, and I was very happy to talk with them a while in the bar after I'd spoken at length with other people involved in my thing. They asked if I would be going to their show, and I couldn't see why not. Of course, having a ticket to that other show, I could have seen all the shows on the main stage that night, but my friends were off doing their thing on another stage, and I wanted only to be there with them.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Double Satisfied

Yesterday I mentioned picking up some new VHS tapes at Amoeba records. When that was done, I headed off to the iO West theater on Hollywood, where I expected to see they'd used one more more jokes I'd written about news stories (as that is the stock in trade of the show).  It was a short walk from Sunset, and a tolerably pleasant one as well. On arrival, I saw to it that my comp ticket was there for me. Once I'd done that,  I found myself engaged in conversation with a guy I'd competed against in a Toastmasters contest. It was nice to catch up a little with him. He was there to perform standup in the show I was there to see.

Before I'd even finished talking to him, another friend came along. Being at that place, I find I can't be there for more than a few minutes without seeing several friends. It's heartening and nerve-wracking at once. When I'd parted with them both, I got myself a drink at the bar. They had a decent special on brown ale, which I ordinarily don't go for so much. It was pretty good, though. I took my drink into the theater and sat down to watch the show play out.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tapes Aplenty

I described already how on Sunday I had my fantasy football draft. Well, there was plenty more facing me that day. The next significant thing which came my way was a trip to Amoeba Records, which is a mecca for lovers of music (especially vinyl records) and of film, including VHS tapes. I happen to be really into those, and have amassed a collection of 124 tapes that mostly occupy an obscure area of the broader range of film, as I believe I've made plain.

A friend advised me that he'd spotted a copy of "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins" (which is notable for a number of reasons, among them being the fact that the adventure began but never continued). Of course I had to go and acquire it, because that was one delightful film. I'm sure I don't have to say more than that attack dogs climb a ladder. It came dearer than I would have liked, but five dollars is not so bad really.

Monday, August 26, 2013


Yesterday was the big draft for my fantasy football league. I have been in it a few years now, and I am only beginning to get the hang of the auction-based draft the league employs. It's a little more complicated than a standard draft where you can have the best available player at any moment. Instead, you have a budget of so much money and must compete for every player you want with a series of bids. The top bid wins each player.

One must remain calm and dispassionate, saving enough money to build a deep team, but not so much money that any is left over. I usually have a little money left on account of being overly caution with my money in between an early splurge and the point at which few good players are left. Like I said though, I have gotten a bit better, appreciating that one wants to have a little money left when others are broke and bargain players are out there to be had.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Debt In Deep

A few weeks ago, I was an extra in a film being done by a friend. The idea was that I was one of several students in a college class, and so I gathered a few items to put in my backpack that would suggest that. I had pens, paper, books and such. One of the books was Wuthering Heights, which I was reading at the time. I loaned it to one of the other extras, who needed some kind of prop herself. I neglected to get it back from here, and since I couldn't bear to miss any reading time, I got another copy of the book from the library to replace the copy I'd owned.

The original copy was returned to me, and I resolved to return the library book at the earliest opportunity. As it wasn't necessary for a couple weeks more, there was no urgency. By the time two weeks had come around, I somehow forgot in spite of receiving a reminder that it was due. It would have been so easy to at least renew it on the computer, and yet I didn't. I hung on to the book and it incurred a late fee.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Keeping Time

My mind often turns toward the very mundane. It's frustrating that there are so many things that a person must keep to themselves not because it's obscene or necessarily secret, but because no one is interested in hearing about it. These things are just too small to be shared. You could say them to the people closest to you in the most idle of moments, I guess. There are a lot of things like this for me, and they are chronicled here.

Something I do sometimes is snap my fingers. I snap along with music, or without. If it's with music, there's a beat to snap with. I come and go on that. Sometimes I'm at least thinking of a song, and I can keep to the beat on that. Sometimes I'm snapping to nothing at all, in which case I wind up snapping to the pace of my footsteps. Other stuff can throw me off and I wind up going to something else for a while.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hollered At

I'm reluctant to brag, always fearing that others will perceive it from me in the same way that I perceive it when it comes from others, which is to say not kindly. On the other hand, I really do like attention, and I do telling people about the good things that happen to me. I just try to keep it to the things that most warrant it. I like to think that people will hear me out on such things if I have a good track record on all that.

Yesterday something happened that in my eyes was rather remarkable. Other people might disagree, and maybe this kind of thing happens a lot to some of them, but for me it remains a novelty. I was walking down the street in Hollywood, already feeling proud of having resolved something at the DMV. Minutes after that, I hear raised voices coming from the road. I've gotten used to friends spotting me while driving around, so I thought it was that.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nothing Serious

I'm rather upset with myself as I write this. There are things you ought to know about yourself by the time you get to a certain age, and I don't know about of those things. One of those is what size clothes I need. When I was younger, I was under the impression I was a size large for t-shirts. A few years ago, it became evident to me that I was more of a medium, and I congratulated myself for ascending to that level of maturity.

After a while, I started to think that the medium shirts were rather baggy on me, and that I was really more of a size small. I started seeking those out, and I had one that I liked a lot. It seemed to fit well. It was a black shirt with a white illustration of a cow looking at a duck and thinking about a duck. I liked that shirt, and even relished the inevitability of people seeing that illustration and not getting it. It was a good shirt.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Miss Elmore Leonard Already And Forever

Yesterday Elmore Leonard died. It's bad in a eulogy when you say "I" a lot, because it's about them and not you, so if that happens here I don't mean to twist this around to be about me. I'm trying to pay tribute to an author very dear to me. I used to go to a used bookstore near where I lived in the Phoenix area. I think at the time I was in trouble with the libraries, and anyway I had to buy books when I went away to work at summer camp.

One book I came up with was "Unknown Man #89". It is maybe a less-heralded entry in Leonard's long career, but it was the first of his that I read and it remains a favorite. His efficient writing style and way of emulating real-world dialogue as opposed to the flowery stuff that you can write but not say with a straight face were very appealing. He wrote compelling male and female characters and entangled them in phenomenally gripping stories.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reading Nook

I had one of those public transit experiences that I don't love the other night. It wasn't that it didn't go as smoothly as it could, because it more or less did. It's just too bad that it couldn't go any better than it did. To begin with, I was going just a few miles away, but it happened to be in a bad spot. Had it been a few miles in one direction, that would have been easy, but it had to be a little bit north and then a little bit west. That effectively doubles the elapsed time of the trip.

The way home was somewhat trickier. I had to walk from my friend's house north, only I couldn't go straight north as the house lies by a dead end. I had to work my way around via a circuitous route which concluded at an intersection which was blessedly quiet. It happens to be someplace not unfamiliar with crime, and this was late at night. It was pretty dead, and I wasn't entirely sorry. The bus came quickly enough.

Monday, August 19, 2013


I've written a number of times in the last few weeks about writing jokes for that news sketch show. I've been enjoying it a lot, although it's been an up and down experience. I'd been rejected in submitting to be a member of the writing staff, which I can appreciate. My sketches were maybe not the best. I was then advised I could write this two line jokes for the show and send them in, good ones being accepted. I did that, finding on my first try that they used one. On attending the show, I found they only used half.

The following week the used a whole one, and I was feeling pretty good about that. I had the idea that I could reel off a streak of weeks with an accepted joke. In my mind, I could parlay that unparalleled success into a position on their writing staff, but I've hit a regrettable snag. Indeed it makes me question the feasibility of my plan. This week they did not take a joke of mine at all, and I submitted a lot. I wrote 87 separate jokes throughout the week, which I will venture to guess is more than most if not all of the people.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Him Again

Yesterday I had a busy day. It started with improv practice, continued with a screening of "The Ice Pirates" on VHS in the company of a friend, and concluded with an improv show feature the team of a a friend as well as two other great teams. When I parted ways with the last of my friend, I went to the grocery store to find something to eat. As there was nothing there I wanted, I went to the Subway and saw someone I didn't expect.

I had written the other day about that drunk I talked with on the way home from another improv show. Even though I knew he lived in the neighborhood, I figured I'd seen the last of him. There he was though, seemingly engaged in some kind of mildly hostile exchange with an employee. You'll remember that I found myself enjoying the aforementioned conversation in spite of myself. Ours was not a contentious talk.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Life & Death Of The Joke

A few days ago, I wrote about a drunk I talked to on the way home from a comedy show for which I'd written a joke. I gave the wrong day, saying it was Monday when it was Sunday. Anyway, I meant to talk about the joke. I submitted sixty or more jokes the week leading up to the show, and I grew frantic when I feared that I might not have gotten even one into the show. Finally the email came informing me that I did in fact have one, but I was not quite mollified.

The week before, as you may recall, I had gotten the same email, but no joke of mine quite got in there. They took what I'd call half of one, and I knew they easily might have cut it entirely, so this time I was ready for a disappointment. I didn't even try to invite someone, so ready was I. As it worked out, they did use one, though it came nearly at the end of the show. I was of course about ready to go out on the ledge.

Friday, August 16, 2013


I am presently about half-way through "Wuthering Heights." I believe I said a while back that I was reading it. Well, I have been at it for a while. There was the interruption to read that book about ballet, and the rest of the time it has been slow going. Bronte wrote in rather flowery, now-antiquated language, and it takes me a while to wade through it. Moreover, the story has failed to keep me coming back consistently.

I have managed to read it at least once a week, when I head to my improv class on the train and connecting bus. I have been even more motivated to read with my headphones beginning to falter so badly that I don't have the patience to use them. That being the case, I don't have my music and podcasts when I leave home, so it's the book more often than usual. I have, then, been making fair progress.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

High School Memories

I was thinking today about the Russian submarine they called the Kursk. When I was a high school senior, it sank. One of its torpedoes, which did not have warheads and were not tested according to very exacting standards, failed and exploded. All the sailors aboard, numbering over a hundred, perished inside the sub, which had come to rest in something less than four hundred feet of water. It was quite a tragedy.

I was upset at the time that the Russians declined offers of help from other governments to attempt rescue of the men aboard. It seemed to be some matter of pride, or perhaps of a desire to protect information concerning Russia's submarines. I recall writing some report in my English class on the subject, and being a senior I'm sure I thought I knew it all. I still knew it all through college, and only starting to get dumb thereafter.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Smallest Of Problems.

Last night, a bit before I set myself to the task of writing this, I had an incident with the internet here at my place. It is ordinarily pretty reliable, which is a pleasant surprise given the nature of service when there are few if any options open to the consumer. There is little we could do but stick with what we have, and so we are fortunate enough that this sort of thing doesn't happen any more than it does. It's unpleasant.

Really what happened is an exceptionally small matter. The internet went down for a little while. It felt larger while it was happening, but the moment it was done with I could appreciate how minor the inconvenience was and how little sympathy would be extended to me even by those who know me and care for me the most. Certainly I would thinking nothing of it if it was described to me by someone else. I would unquestionably make light of it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Surprise Talk

Yesterday I had a good night. I wrote a joke that appeared in a comedy show I really like, I saw lots of great sketch and improv comedy, I had some gratifying conversations that entailed compliments about my hair, and I got to hang out with a number of my friends. I could and should address those things, and maybe I'll get to it tomorrow. The thing that just has to get out is the drunk I met on the trip home from the comedy theater.

I saw him walking along the subway train platform, and I hoped to avoid him. He was lugging an open case of beer which I later saw seemed to contain a liquor bottle and a soda bottle (which was possibly all or mostly liquor). There was no question of him merely transporting anything, as I could smell it on his breath. I was afraid to shake his hand, but I have a bad way of not saying no when I really want to, and off we went.

Monday, August 12, 2013

On "Friday The 13th"

A while back, a friend of mine and I talked about the "Friday The 13th" films while driving across town to a video store. Those are two things that most people never do, and we were doing them at the same time, which should tell you plenty about us both. In any case, we talked about a number of points regarding the aforementioned franchise (which was one when franchises still happened organically) at length.

More recently, I have been re-watching a lot of the films in rapid-fire fashion. Doing so has been thought-provoking. As a boy, I watched most of those films on the USA Network whenever the calendar actually hit Friday the 13th. The films were heavily censored, but it was enough for me. Another consequence of seeing the films that way was that Gilbert Gottfried and Rhonda Shear (who hosted those nights, because that was something TV still did back then) were as much a part of the films as the stars.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Too Much Birthday

I was at a wedding the other day, and while there is plenty that I might write about, the first thing that occurs to me is something rather incidental that happened during the proceedings. At the hotel my parents opted for, there was a rather expansive lobby. It had a bar and a lot of space riddled with furniture. It was really a fairly nice place, although I can't imagine seeking to linger in any hotel lobby personally.

The first time I went in there, there was a party going on. In fact, signage informed us that it was some girl's seventeenth birthday, and it strikes me that it was a rather extravagant set-up for such a party. I know of course that many affluent families are prone to spending heavily to make their progeny happy (or is it to make their own young selves happier after the fact?) I just never really saw too much of that stuff myself.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Kind Journalism

I have for some time been very fond of pole dancing. I've even done a little bit myself, although in that regard I remain entirely a novice. As a fan, I've gotten somewhat familiar with the art and the sport of it. It's such an impressive feat of athletics and artistic expression that I'm badly frustrated by those who mistake it for stripping or anything of the kind. It's an amazing thing to see, and those who do it are incredible human beings.

Still, it is poorly understood by most and commonly derided in mainstream media. I figured this would hold true when I laid eyes on a pole dancing profile on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The stipple portrait showed a dancer stretching. The continuation of the article showed the same dancer performing in a color photograph (thus proving how times have changed at the staid journal of record for matters financial).

Friday, August 9, 2013

Something Lousy

I feel bad about something from a few days ago. I had a morning audition, and after I woke up it occurred to me that I should print the script for the commercial in question. I never manage to replace the spent ink cartridges in my printer, so that means going elsewhere to print something. I would have gone down to use my friend's printer, as they're usually amenable, but they don't live in my building anymore. That leaves the print shop down the street.

They're nice guys, and I walk past a nearer print shop to reach it because I know the drill at this other one. I put the file to be printed on a flash drive, then I go in and plug it into one of their computers to print it. It's awfully cheap, and it's a system that has worked for me in spite of them almost never being on the way. This time they were, more or less, so I thought things would be fine even though I had only a few minutes.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

On "Stalag 17"

One of the local digital sub-channels (and I have explained those, I hope) was running "Stalag 17" the other day. In fact, they spent the whole day alternating that and Hitchcock's "Lifeboat". Both are amazing films, and so I don't mind so much that they offered so little diversity. Anyway, I found myself wanting more of the former, and so I've been watching it a lot in the days since. It has been thought-provoking.

"Stalag 17" has a fairly good balance of comedy and drama. It was described to me by my father as a serious version of "Hogan's Heroes", although it's fair to note that it came first. To quickly describe the plot, you have a group of enlisted men held as POWs in a German camp. Two are killed attempting to escape, and the remainder of the film is concerned with identifying the traitor who is responsible. The men at first blame a smooth operator named Sefton (played by William Holden).

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Too Good

As I write this, I am admiring my hair. It looks really good today, which makes me glad. It also frustrates me tremendously, for multiple reasons. I try every day to shower and get dressed as though something will happen. The idea is that things are more likely to happen when you're ready for them, but nothing necessarily will happen. When my hair is just perfect, I suddenly really want things to happen, but if they don't I feel like this great hair day is wasted.

I didn't do anything really different today, which is where the frustration really originates. If I knew how to duplicated it, that would be different. I showered, I conditioned without using shampoo, I put my contacts in and then I applied some deep shine oil before picking the hair out. After waiting a while, I further fluffed the hair with my fingers. That's when I noticed how good it looked. I entertained the idea of taking a picture, but it seems that only professionals can capture it adequately.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Carpet Again

It is awfully nice to have a nice, clean carpet. Carpets do feel good on the bare feet, but not if it starts to get dirty. I have some bad habits, and the carpet in my bedroom gets dirty due to my way of eating in there a lot. I've never spilled something catastrophic, but crumbs are always coming down on the carpet no matter what you do. I really should make an effort to eat in the living room (which is the best option in the absence of a functioning dining room), but that is a work in progress.

Compounding the problem of crumbs on the carpet, (in addition to feathers from my terrible pillow and other things) I am always very slow to vacuum. In fact, for a long time we in my apartment lacked one entirely, but even having one I have been bad about using it.There it will be by the common closet, and there will be bits of cheese crackers on my floor drawing the insects that presumably draw the spiders, and I often do nothing about it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Let Down

The last couple days I have written about my new enterprise, submitting two line jokes based on news articles to a local sketch comedy show. Saturday I wrote of getting into it and yesterday of having a joke accepted. That second post was titled "Few Will Win", and little did I know how appropriate that would be for today's post. Of course I knew it was possible that my joke or jokes would be cut or manhandled, but I don't know that I really expected it. I just thought my jokes were too good.

As it happened, no joke of mine was delivered as I wrote it. If I am being generous to myself, I will say that they used half of a joke of mine. They took the kernel inside and wrote a new shell to house it in. I can still see myself as having had a real achievement, but it's not so easy to feel the laughter in response to a joke that is only partly mine, and whose other part happened in my absence. I don't begrudge them doing what they must do to make the best show possible, of course.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Few Will Win

Yesterday I wrote of submitting jokes to a local news-based comedy show. They do sketches and a Weekend Update-like segment, and I contributed around 35 or so jokes based on news articles that emerged over the last week. With such a high volume of candidates, I had high hopes that at least one of them would be elected, and so I was happy but not entirely surprised that one of those jokes (a high proportion of which I thought were very strong) made it in.

Indeed, I could conceivably have gotten more than one in, as I figured there to be room in the show for something close to twenty such jokes, and it appeared that no more than half a dozen people had jokes accepted. With those numbers, I could hope for two or more, which would be very cool. If I don't get more in than others, I could conceivably scale back the number of jokes I send in, considering that people who submitted fewer than five also got in.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mr. Submitter

This week I have been doing something a little new in my writing. I have for maybe three and a half years been writing this blog. I've been aggressively writing on Twitter for less time than that. Maybe it's been a year. Somewhere in between those two is when I started writing comedy sketches, although I am at a low point on that. Maybe something has to fall out for all that has been added, which I'm sorry for.

I have started to do something new. I had submitted some samples of topical sketches to a local sketch show that specializes in that area. Of course, I really don't do that so much. I've always been reluctant to expend effort writing something that has to go out right away during a brief window of opportunity, after which the thing is entirely useless. I have favored things that last forever, which hasn't been entirely good. Knowing that something can wait, I always will make it do so.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Putting Myself Out There Again

I was reading something a bit ago about the recent film release "Pacific Rim". I haven't seen it (though I have seen the rip-off "Atlantic Rim"), so maybe I'm not as qualified to write about it as some, but something did occur to me. The article was about how the early box office seemed likely to discourage the prospects of a sequel. I guess the returns weren't enormous enough, which is a risk when you bet so big on films.

A subsequent development was that the film did especially well in China (whose status as a burgeoning film market has previously led filmmakers to eagerly tailor their works to that nation in what are to me regrettable ways). That being the case, they are now apparently more interested in a sequel, which is natural. I hardly fault film studios for acting in their nature. Raccoons bust into trash cans and film studios chase dollars.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Wave Of Possessions

Some friends of mine have moved out of my apartment building. This has made me very sad, as we were able to spend so much time together in the last couple years. They've become very close to me, and while none moved out of time, some are further than others and I will surely see them less. Still, I will see them all, and anyway I must try to look on the whole thing in some kind of positive light. Maybe I'll make other friends in the building.

Also I will note that I have acquired a number of the possessions that my friends cut loose as they sought to become lean, mean moving machines, not the least of which is a Blu Ray player that will go very nicely with the HD television I got recently. This was a necessity, because any video format less than that looks just awful on a nice flatscreen television. I will have to guard against spending too much time with it.