Archives - September through December 2005
December 22, 2005
Hiatuses and the News
Haven't blogged about the news in awhile. Oh, by the way; here's some news: Sugarmama is back. Sort of. Her new blog is called megabeth and is a treatise on the fine science of running, training and all things triathletic. For most of us couch potatoes out here, such a blog is not much use except for the wit of the writer. But hell; maybe we'll be shamed into getting off our collective arses.
Well, on with the news. For those of you wimmin out there who have always believed that testosterone is the root of all evil, check out this article. Especially item #5 which reads:
Hmmm...so does this mean a guy with hair on his back has better recall than I do? Sure, this is another pointless testosterone study, but the other items in the article are interesting.
Another interesting study I ran across is this one. Seems some British researchers have discovered that young girls often mutilate their Barbie dolls (if you've read L.A. Stalker, this may sound familiar):
The study (I found in another article) goes on to say that the same behavior is not seen in boys with their "dolls," such as G.I. Joes and other action figures. Maybe that's because boys never reject their pasts...proof that boys never grow up?
And last but not least, ran across this article in the local news about about one Kimberly Al Homsi,
who in a fit of apparent road rage, threatened another driver with a hand grenade. She even pulled the pin and threatened to throw it at the offending driver. She was pulled over by police in Dallas who found three grenades and an ammo pouch. It turns out the grenades were inert, but she'll still be charged with a crime. This is the holiday season, after all, and in the spirit of Christmas, it's the thought that counts.
By GAWD, in Texas we do it up right, don't we? Even road rage. Top THAT, you L.A. freeway-shooting WUSSIES.
After writing these bloggets, I realize that they all have a central theme...I certainly didn't intend for them to. If you can guess that theme, I guess you'll discover how my subconcious mind works.
December 15, 2005
(My Underwear Manifesto - continued)
Just thought I'd give everyone a promised update on my holy quest for the perfect pair.
Since I last blogged about my struggle, I have experimented with three new types and brands of undergarment. All of them are the boxer brief type; not an old man boxer and not a tightie whitie. A little of both.
First, I tried what so far has been the best of all these, a Calvin Klein "Trunk." Now, I don't know if the marketing folks at CK meant something Freudian in this or not, but since the term "trunk" is an old term for a swimsuit or undergarment, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, I found this pair by accident at a discount store called Marshall's. If you're familiar with TJMaxx or Ross, it's the same thing. They were near-perfect in every way: supported the boys, little grapefruit effect, 100% cotton, and fit nice and tight all over. And they were only 9 bucks.
So my quest is over, right? Not quite.
You see, the reason they were in Marshall's in the first place is that they were discontinued. They've been replaced by this, which is an entirely different design:
Not even damn close. Grapefruit city. And mine are ribbed cotton; these are plain-ass nothin' cotton.
So my struggle continued. Having cheapness in my head now, I tried a store brand. Target's Merona. Normally, a safe enough bet. The things fit okay, but I had to roll over the waistband to get a really good hug on the boys. Added an inch to my waistline. Not good. Anyway, the elastic wore out on these suckers in no time flat, leaving me with a half-ass boxer with a rolled-over waistband. Into the trash they went.
Yesterday I received my latest attempt; a four-pack of boxer briefs from JC Penney. Now, Penney's makes about the best wrinkle-free dress shirt around, so I trusted them. And they let me down.
I took these things out and washed them last night, and wore a pair today. Fit okay. Not like my CK's, but okay. So I'm fat dumb and happy until I get to the gym. I finish working out and showering, and I'm slipping them on. Then I notice something weird:
I scanned this image of them a minute ago. Yes, those are HOLES in the fabric. They look like MOTH holes, but they could be tears from a machine or something. I'm glad I washed them twice last night; having moth larvae that close to the boys would have been very upsetting.
And no, that isn't my lily-white ass showing through the holes in the picture above; it's a piece of paper I slid behind them for contrast. However, my lily-white ass showing through them at the gym today IS what tipped me off to the moth holes. Or whatever. Tomorrow, the four-pack is going back to the store for a refund.
So, once again, I'm back to square one.
Will my struggle never end?
November 29, 2005
Spreading a little holiday cheer.
First, the good news: The greatest brownie of all time has been discovered. By me. Luscious and rich. And with a name like Bad, Bad Leroy Brownies (us 40-somethings will know what this is) baked by a bakery called Joe Mama's Bakery, they gotta be good. Email Nancy at:
(remove the *'s) joemamas*baking*@*yahoo.com for prices and ordering and such.
Next, the bad news: Ten of the greatest scientific minds in the world were polled recently and asked how they thought the world would end. Here is what they said, for what it's worth. My comments follow, containing the names of the movies these guys stole their theories from:
British astronomer royal Martin Rees, human beings have only have a 50-50 chance of making it through the 21st century. He thinks our biggest threat is global warming. (The Day After Tomorrow)
U.K. researcher Nick Brooks also thinks that climate change is our greatest danger. (Ditto)
Viennese researcher Reinhard Stindl says our species has a pre-destined extinction date, just like the cells in our bodies. (can't think of one. This may be the only unique voice in the whole bunch.)
Health researcher Maria Zambon predicts that a viral pandemic, like bird flu, will be the end of us. (Omega Man, Resident Evil)
Defense expert Air Marshal Lord Garden thinks nuclear war will do us in. (War Games, Colossus: The Forbin Project, The Day After)
Terrorism expert Paul Wilkinson thinks a terrorist attack will end the human race, from a nuclear bomb or biological weapon. (combine the names of the previous two entries)
NASA's Donald Yeomans thinks we'll go the way of the dinosaurs—that our world will end with a meteorite strike.(Armageddon, Meteor)
Bill McGuire thinks a super volcano will explode and cause nuclear winter, which will block the sun and end our growing season. (Volcano!, Dante's Peak)
Physicist Nir Shaviv thinks it will be cosmic rays. (Day of the Triffids; Dawn of the Dead)
Robotics expert Hans Moravec thinks we'll build robots so efficient that they'll take over. (this is my personal favorite; sounds like this guy has seen The Animatrix and I, Robot too many times)
Last but not least, physicist Richard Wilson thinks the Earth will be swallowed up by a black hole.(The Black Hole)
So have a holly jolly Christmas...da do da da da da daaaaah.
Oh, and then there's the story of the people taken hostage in Iraq. They belong to a group calling itself "Christian Protection Teams." I went to their web site. These people have foisted themselves into conflicts around the world to allegedly help civilians. They're the ones who laid in front of the Israeli bulldozers in Gaza, preventing them from demolishing suicide bombers' homes. In Iraq, they have a program called "Adopt a Detainee" and are very worried about our treatment of radicals we have in custody there. Hell, they probably are spies as Al Queda claims. Only they're spies for the other side, not us.
So to reward them, the militants will now cut off their heads. Sounds like a fitting end for these mother f***ers, and yet another example of people with no sense banding together and causing problems.
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the waaaaay...
Oh, and last but not least, they didn't like my screenplay rewrite. Well, they liked it, but they want apples and I wrote oranges.
Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, doo doo doo whacka doo...
Okay, so there's my holiday cheer for ya. Hope you liked it.
November 27, 2005
It's done. The L. A. Stalker screenplay rewrite. Now, writing a screenplay is - I hate to say it - not a really difficult thing. Compared to a novel, it is actually quite easy. However, writing a screenplay based on a novel is damn hard. Imagine looking at a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle and deciding which 100 pieces you could remove that would still convey the essence of the puzzle's image. Imagine extracting those and putting them into some kind of order, an order that fit an arbitrary set of rules laid out by the puzzle masters.
Imagine having to decide which 900 would stay behind.
An even more difficult task is rewriting the screenplay based on suggestions or wants from a third party. Sure, going in and making those changes is no problem. But you soon find out that the area you've changed or added affects another area of the screenplay, or several areas, that need to be changed to have them fit with the new changes. Then you discover that when you change those other areas, yet more areas are affected and have to be changed. It's a process that seems endless. It's a process that leaves you mentally drained.
But it is still fun. Remember that when writing ceases to be fun, it's time to take up the violin.
Something that helped me in my rewrite were heavy doses of caffeine and sugar. Much of these wonderful chemicals were graciously provided to me by a baker in New York in the form of the most mind-blowing brownies I have ever eaten. They're called Bad Bad Leroy Brownies and they're made by Joe Mama's Bakery. I'll blog more about these robust and unique confections when I get permission and info from the baker. Hopefully I'll get it in time for you to order some for friends and family for Christmas. And yourself; I promise that if you get these and plan to give them as presents, you'll taste them and will not part with them under any circumstances. They're that damn good.
November 18, 2005
Out of the blue.
Got a call on Monday from a director in Los Angeles. Seems he read my screenplay for L.A. Stalker, which was circulated around town earlier this year. He's had it since then, but just now decided to read it. He's looking for a particular thing, and my story fit was he was looking for. I've never talked to this guy before. I put my cell phone number on the cover page, so that's how he knew how to contact me.
It's funny how things like this work out. I had given up hope on the screenplay, thinking it had fallen into the trash bins of a dozen Hollywood power people like the rest of the thousands they received. But somehow, this one screenplay not only survived, it wound up actually being read - and liked - by someone almost a year later.
Shows you how Hollywood works.
Also shows how tenacity and persistence can pay off in the writing business. One more anecdotal story for all you other writers out there that should encourage you that it is never too late.
So now I'm in the middle of a massive rewrite of the screenplay. Oh, yeah; maybe I forgot to mention that the director wants a few changes before he begins shopping it around for investors. So send some positive vibes my way as I brush the cobwebs off my brain and get into character for this rewrite. I'll keep you posted on how this thing progresses.
November 10, 2005
Yes I'm still alive.
Haven't blogged in awhile. My new job is pretty hectic and overwhelming at times. Too tired when I get home - late usually - to get much done. But things will settle down soon.
Don't forget to order some books for Christmas gifts this year!
October 24, 2005
On being a writer... (part 2)
As promised, I bring to you the second part of my blog on the isolation of being a writer. My friend H.R. McGonigal found this gem and sent it my way. Mr. Hemingway's words rang so true...I think all of my fellow writers can feel his loneliness come through as he spoke to the audience. I guess I take some comfort in knowing that such a great man, such a great writer, held the same low feelings we all have at times. So here it is in its entirety, including Hallie's lead-in:
Last night I heard an excerpt from Ernest Hemingway's acceptance speech of the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature. It moved me. I found a copy on www.nobelprize.org Hemingway was ill and could not attend the speech reading. He had an American ambassador read it for him. The words are still Hemingway's:
"Having no facility for speech-making and no command of oratory nor any domination of rhetoric, I wish to thank the administrators of the generosity of Alfred Nobel for this Prize. No writer who knows the great writers who did not receive the Prize can accept it other than with humility. There is no need to list these writers. Everyone here may make his own list according to his knowledge and his conscience. It would be impossible for me to ask the Ambassador of my country to read a speech in which a writer said all of the things which are in his heart.
Things may not be immediately discernible in what a man writes, and in this sometimes he is fortunate; but eventually they are quite clear and by these and the degree of alchemy that he possesses he will endure or be forgotten. Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day. For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed. How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him."
October 19, 2005
On being a writer... (part 1)
Posted a new guest writer to this site. Please welcome Megan Ireland to my repoitoire of guest indies who deserve a little exposure. It's a long, hard road for a writer, a plight I've often written about on this blog and elsewhere. Anything I can do to help fellow travelers on this dusty, lonely road, I'll do. Thus, the Guest Writers page.
I've run across a couple of things lately that I think I'll post here. These things help bring into focus the loneliness and isolation a writer must face. It's something that Megan, H.R., Jeffery, A.P., and Joan have experienced, and maybe you've experienced it, too.
The first item is an interesting article I found on The Smoking Gun web site. This site digs up all kinds of records on all kinds of people. This particular article is about a series of psychiatric reports done on one Jack Kerouac when he was in the navy in 1943. The overall theme of the doctors who examined him was, in a nutshell, that he was crazy. In just ten days, they came to this conclusion and kicked him out. To get kicked out of the military at the height of WW II, when 10 million or more men and women were serving, was unusual. You had to be damn crazy. I'll excerpt a few choice words they wrote about the man who has become a cultural icon for an entire generation, and generations after.
The tone of these comments suggests that the desire to be a writer was worse than aspiring to be a piano player in a whorehouse. The traits of a writer such as an active imagination and a drive to get ideas onto paper, well...they just weren't normal:
"Without an prior training or background, this patient, just prior to his enlistment, enthusiastically embarked on the writing of novels. He sees nothing unusual in this activity..."
"...had been writing a novel, in the style of James Joyce, about his home town, and averaging approximately 16 hours daily in an effort to get it down. This was an experiment and he doesn't intend to publish."
"...inclined to exaggerate...He imagines in his mind whole symphonies; he can hear every note...He sees printed pages of words."
"...gregarious...broods when unhappy or lonely...displays vague, disconnected thoughts..."
"...enjoyed the company of others but also had periods when he wanted to be by himself..."
"He has written several novels, one when he was quite young, another just prior to joining the service, and one he is writing now...there seems to be an artistic factor in his thinking when discussing his theories of writing and philosophy..."
A couple of side notes about Jack: he apparently suffered from migraine headaches, a trait I've found in many writers I know. He was first diagnosed with "dementia praecox" which was the term then for what we now call Schizophrenia. I know schizophrenics, and I can tell you that Kerouac didn't display enough symptoms of this disease to get this diagnosis. His discharge diagnosis was "constitutional psychopathic state" which is now known as a psychopathic personality. Maybe he had a little of this. But how much did his "grandiose" desire to be a writer - which he ultimately became - affect the judgement of the navy doctors? I think it was the lynch pin of their case.
Next post: a great quote from Hemingway (courtesy of H.R.), when he won the Nobel Prize for literature, on the loneliness of writing.
October 8, 2005
On being cool.
Had a first this week. Someone said I was cool.
Yeah, that's right. Like, Cool. "Joe Cool" she called me, in fact.
I told her I'd been called a lot of things in my life, but "cool" was never one of them. I asked her if she was goofing on me, and if she was, it wasn't nice. She assured me she was serious. She said my cool hair, my tie, my jacket and general overall demeanor all combined to a level of coolness heretofore unseen in Mr. Boy. Interesting.
I am finally cool. I'll be 44 next week. How many years have I been trying to be cool? Let me think...
Unlike today's children who worry about being cool at age 3 or 4 - you know, the ones who won't wear their coat to preschool because it isn't a Tommy Hilfiger - I didn't worry about it until I was about 11, I guess. If that's the age one enters the sixth grade. But wait a minute...I remember one act of attempted cool when I was in the second grade. Age 7? I got my mom to order me an outfit - yes a complete outfit - from the Speigel mail-order catalog one year. I don't know what possessed me to do this, at least I didn't then like I do now: the pursuit of coolness. Sears jeans and sneaks and banlon shirts were the standard garb of me and my peers; they're weren't such things as designer labels and fashion standards for 7-year-old-boys back then. How I came up with the idea to order a pair of purple bell bottom polyester slacks, a white and purple polyester shirt, a white leather belt and matching monk-strap white patent leather shoes is beyond any level of introspection I possess today. I remember being all excited when the package finally came. I was going to be coolest cat in town; just like the kid model in the Speigel catalog. Now, I wasn't a sissy boy by any means. I was an athlete and all around boy-like boy, and my friends almost fell off the monkey bars when they saw me approaching that morning. My coolness bubble was burst at the sound of the first snicker. I spent recess hiding in the corner. I never wore the outfit again.
So much for being cool. Thinking of cool in that sense, I will make a bold statement:
The pursuit of being cool is the engine that drives pop culture.
Make it two statements:
Pop culture is what drives our society.
Hell, maybe three:
The very essence of our societal fabric is based upon the abstract and relativistic concept of being cool.
And that's pretty f***ing scary.
Anyway, 37 years later, I have finally done it, it seems.
How does it feel to be cool, you ask?
Just like it feels to be uncool.
Have to log off now; catching a fast train to Coolsville, Daddio.
September 19, 2005
Every now and then I'll see something that reminds me of something else. Like this commercial on TV, for example. It reminds me of a section of my book In The Way That Elephants Do. Fans of the book will remember Noah's stay in The Forest Between. Click on the link and choose "Singin' In The Rain." It's pretty funny.
September 16, 2005
My Underwear Manifesto
My quest for the perfect undergarment has been a lifelong struggle. I guess it is for many men, even though some have settled for the familiar, sacrificing their comfort, health and dignity in the process. These are the "wear 'em til the elastic is all that's left" crowd that really doesn't understand the concept of underwear at all. But I won't waste time on that.
There are several reasons to wear underwear. These reasons will become apparent as I explain my philosophy of underwear. I won't go into a history of underwear, and I won't go into a personal history of every single style and form of the garment with which I have experimented over the years. I've broken the struggle down into the recent...the past few years of my quest. I won't go into the spandex zebra phase of the early 1980's, for example. Suffice it to say that I have come to recognize my own needs, my own requirements...but like many itches that can't be scratched, I just can't seem to fulfill those needs.
First, let me start off by listing my requirements for undergarments and why they are so:
1) Underwear must be comfortable. They must not bind, pinch, crush, chafe or deposit textile dye on my boys or alabaster white behind. I don't care if they cut off my sperm production, however.
2) Underwear must minimize the package. Sure, lots of guys buy underwear just for this purpose, I know; hence:
I call this The Grapefruit. Personally, I don't want my crotch to enter the room a minute before I do. Call me a prude. I believe in a little decorum, thank you.
3) Underwear must work. Pretty thong briefs may drive women crazy (although I doubt it), but the purposes of an undergarment are to support the boys and keep your johnson from getting caught in your zipper. That's it. If it can't do those two things, it isn't worth having.
So on with my struggle. I've tried a hundred different brands, types, styles, and fabrics over the years, and I still haven't found the perfect pair. Of underwear, that is. Here's a breakdown of the predominant styles of the day (I say predominant because these are the kind of underwear real people wear on a daily basis):
The Classic Boxer.
This is the underwear your dad wore. I tried these. Most women in the world find these the sexiest of all. That's nice, but other than keeping your manhood out of your zipper, they don't do anything. You might as well not wear anything at all. They bunch up under your pants and give you wedgies and just make you look rumpled and unkempt. Not an option. But until the brief was invented, this was all there was. They are popular in nursing homes. Oh, and contrary to the popular myth that the "fly" on the front of many styles of underwear is for providing an opening to poke your willie through to relieve yourself, it is not. The thing is called a "vent" and is there to provide ventilation, not access.
The Tighty Whitey
These are what I wore for most of my life. As a young boy, I'd go through these by the dozen. After adolescence, they tend to wear out, stretch out, and fall to pieces in no time at all. Women find these the most unattractive of all underwear, hands down. That aside, under one's pants they are not too bad as long as they hold up. However,t he big elastic band - usually with stripes like these - tend to ride up to your navel during the day. The elastic around the leg wears out very quickly, leaving you with little more than a short, half-ass boxer with enough space around the legs for your boys to fall out.
This is a modified brief, slung low on top and cut high on the thighs. Many styles of these are around, but they all suffer the same drawbacks. Namely, they crush the boys and push them up and forward, creating The Grapefruit effect to one degree or the other. The back is so narrow that it works its way into your arse and you have to keep pulling the damn thing out.
The Synthetic Hybrid
Now, this style is not bad. It minimizes and controls and feels great. The problem with this particular pair and similiar garments is the fabric. Its the latest thing in men's undergarments: synthetic fabric. One brand is called Aerocool, another Next-to-Nothing. It is basically Spandex and polyester. They feel great when you put them on. Perfect, in fact. I have some T-shirts made from the same material. They cling like a lovesick schoolgirl. You feel like you're getting a hug from your mamma all day. The problem is that contrary to the claims, the fabric does NOT breathe. When I first tried these, I thought I had found the Holy Grail of undewear and bought a half-dozen pair at nearly $20 each. Then I noticed that I had been afflicted with what I can only describe as diaper rash. Moisture held inside them just sat there. A 44-year-old man with diaper rash is not a pretty sight. The T-shirts weren't any better. By the end of the day, you smell like a moose. I use my $120 worth of these to dust my furniture.
The Natural Hybrid
This is my latest experiment. Cotton. The only fabric an undergarment should be made of. Breathable, with just the right support and comfort. Minimization is good. They are a little longer, but not too long like the full hybrids that hang damn near down to the knees. The jury is still out on these, however. Some of the drawbacks of the boxer are in these, too, namely bunching up under your pants. I'll try these out for awhile before I give them a thumbs-up or down.
So there you have it. More about underwear than you ever wanted to know, I'm sure. I'll keep the world posted on my latest experiment. If you have any ideas, send them my way.
September 13, 2005
Yes I'm still alive
Been non-blogging for awhile. New job has me pretty tired when I get home, unable to concentrate much. But the place should calm down in awhile after I get a replacement for my old position; then I won't be doing two jobs.
Got a really nasty head cold that is kicking my butt. Everyone around seems to be coming down with it. Nasal problems which travel down into the throat and chest. Low grade fever. It's sweeping the area. Even my Allegra - D isn't working to ease the blockage. I've resorted to the atom bomb of nasal blockage remedies: Afrin. This stuff should be banned, it is so addictive. But it sure comes in handy in times like these.
In other news, one-half of my stereo went out on my 1988 Al Queda-funding 4x4 Suburban. The old analog-dial, cassette-player-doesn't-work-stereo. I lost the left channel entirely. A few swift punches to the face of the thing used to do the trick, but it ain't working any more. Sometimes if I hit a pothole just right, it will come back on. So, I find myself aiming at potholes sometimes instead of avoiding them. But galdarn it, in a truck that big and burly and manly, potholes don't mean a thing.
I was asked point-blank yesterday, "Just what are YOU working on these days?" The "what" being writing projects of course.
My reply was simple: "Not a damn thing."
And it's true. I haven't put any decent ink on paper in a long time. Still stuck halfway on the screenplay, and about 1/3 of a novel is done. I feel like writing, but I just don't have the energy or compunction lately. It isn't writer's block; I KNOW what I want to write. It's more like a lack of will. The will to overcome the obstacles that life places in front of my. One's only choices are to move the obstacles out of the way, eliminate them completely, or let them block you.
It's clear what I need to do.
September 3, 2005
This is giving me a headache...
I've noticed, and I think I've blogged about this before, that many bloggers - especially women bloggers - suffer from migraine headaches. I've often wondered if this was merely a coincidence, a statistical certainty, or a creative phenomenon. What I mean is I wonder if I just happen to read blogs written by women who have migraines, or if a certain percentage of the female population suffers from these awful things, and since I read mostly blogs by women I'm naturally going to run across a percentage of them who have them, or the most perplexing possibility of them all: do migraines and creativity, especially in the writing art, sometimes occur together? Perhaps migraines are a side effect of particular brainwave activity coming from the parts of the brain that rule our creative side? Or maybe it is the converse; maybe migraines cause brain activity that in turn causes creativity? Or am I just using my own brainwaves too damn much thinking about all this and trying to draw correlations when there are none?
Anyway, I have a blogger/writer friend who is interested in communicating with other people cursed with these headaches. She has done extensive research on the topic, including both traditional and alternative medicine, and has managed to obtain a bit of relief here and there. If you're interested in talking with her, please email me and I'll hook y'all up. I think all of you getting together and talking about how you live with the malady could do everyone a lot of good. Perhaps the best thing about it would be to realize that you're not alone out there in the blogosphere; what you are living with is something shared by many others. So like I said, message me and I'll make sure to link you up with the others.
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