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Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Novel On Amazon for Kindle, and other Xmas Thoughts

December 24, 2011: It's Xmas Eve, as Johnny Mathis sings, and I needed to file this folly before all my holiday insights became irrelevant.

For starters, let's understand that my novel SPACE CASE is now available as an e-book from Amazon. ( ) If you enjoy this Blah-ugh! even in the least, you'll absolutely love SPACE CASE.

Further, I'm counting on you to not only purchase the thing, but let everyone in your contact list know about it ... I'm counting on you, now ... Don't let me down ... And if for some reason you DON'T have a Kindle, I expect you to work twice as hard networking on my behalf. (Ask yourself, what have you done for me lately?)

Either way, please visit the link immediately and read the first few pages for FREE. FREE! Free, I tell you! FREE!!

Now, I had a few points to make regarding my confusion with certain Christmas song lyrics. Of course, I still have no idea what "wassling" is (per my silly old video -- ) and I suspect I never will. But there are other references and lines which are equally as baffling, and I wanted to make reference.

In particular, what does "in sin and Arab pining" mean in O Holy Night? Is that a reference to 21st century terrorism, and how could the writer have been so prescient? Is it that the Arabs are sad because of Jesus? Why does Jesus make Arabs sad, anyway, and does that have to do with Allah or Abdul or whoever their Jesus is? Is the reference that Arabs are inheritantly sinful because of their un-Jesus sentiments? ... I'm very confused.

Another thing I don't understand is what Theodore is saying in the song "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth." It sounds like "Sittin' to the kitten on a thistle," but what does that mean? Again, are we supposed to read something into this. As a chipmunk, is he wishing bad upon the cat, and if so, what are we cat owners supposed to think -- not only about the Chipmunks, but Theodore in particular.

I wanted to explore this topic further, but I also wanted to make mention of how embarrassed and appalled I was by Robert Deniro getting someone pregnant at age 68. I mean, what the hell is that about?! Is there no limit to the selfishness of man -- especially celebrity man -- who doesn't seem capable of looking ahead 10 years to the poor kid he sired who's going to have a 900 year-old father (if even that, gahd f'bid!) ... Ridiculous. And worse are all the sycophants around people like DeNiro who enable his thoughtless behavior, rather than telling him outright, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, you selfish bastard!" ... Well, believe me, I'll tell him the next time I see him ... and you know I will!

Happy Christmas, and for all you Jews and minorities (myself included), Happy Hanukkah! Let's make it a great one (for me, by plugging my ebook SPACE CASE -- ) ...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Me The Contest Winner

November 2, 2011: I don't know who reads this stupid thing, but the numbers on the clicker keep moving gradually forward, so there must be SOME action. (If not, Winc & Fletch, I appreciate your returning at regular intervals to move my numbers up!)

The point is, those of you who didn't hear, or didn't care enough to hear, or don't care now -- I won a horror writing contest (of all things), and if you haven't, please visit and enjoy my short demented little story, and my even shorter demented little biography. (I'm their lead story, in fact, and while there's no picture of me, just imagine me lolling naked on a lounge chair and you'll get the full effect of real horror!)

Over the years, my fill of official praise has been severely limited to a few editors congratulating me on my spelling, and one former supervisor admiring my shoes. So to be recognized not only in a public forum, but for something that's so important to me -- namely writing -- makes this a new season of the dead in which it feels good to rejoice (or rejoinder -- I'm still not sure which).

The story itself is very short (which some of you may find is part of its strength), but I'm told it's concentratedly disturbing. And while I don't consider myself a horror writer officially, I'm capable of some very horrible writing and so it kind of makes sense that this would be my first area of success. Either way, if you know any horror people who you feel might be able to find me more work -- or if you know Stephen King and he owes you a favor -- please mention my name.

I'm tired now, as I've spent the past hour photographing our jack o'lanterns in the dark. I've done some very wonderful shots, which I'm sure my wife will delete from the memory card come morning. But as my old art teacher Jim Wheeler used to emphasize, it's about the process, not the product. This is good to remember, as it frees me up to continue doing most of my writing in my head ...

Again, Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Again With Halloween ... III

October 31, 2011: Ah, so the dark season is once again upon us ... and as I sit here in my devil's costume, enjoying the remnants of snow and sunning weather, I can't help but think of all the strange and superficial things that Halloween (and peripheral autumn) means to me ...

Of course, it's mostly about pumpkins, and the color orange in general. I like orange, even though I was kicked out of Princeton (or at least asked to leave after I visited my friend there and took my shoes off in his eating club). Contrary to popular belief, orange is NOT a combination of red and yellow, but a blend of yellow and blue. (Some people think this is green, but I know better.)

Which brings me to my very favorite seasonal movie of all time -- Halloween III: Season of the Witch. I watched this classic once again last week, and I'm never disappointed. Tom Atkins, who plays the rugged, oft-drinking hero Dr. Dan Chalice, remains my perfect ideal of a film hero, despite how ugly he looks with his shirt off. The story itself is a minor gem, and had it been written by Poe or some Poe derivative, it would continue to be hailed as a classic, and not relegated to the dusty shelves of B-movie accidents. I consider Tommy Lee Wallace, who wrote and directed the film, an unknown gem of a man (See "It" and "Fright Night 2" if you don't believe me!), and while he never responded to my letter back when I was living in L.A., I'll never hold a grudge because for me, he created the quintessential Halloween experience with his delightful story of a mad male Celtic warlock, his demented Halloween mask factory in northern California, and all the shenanigans that ensue.

There's a lot more I have to say, but I'm suddenly realizing I probably said it LAST YEAR, so I urge you to begin rereading my old Blah-ugh! posts ... Tell your friends about them ... Tell ME about them, and maybe I'll stop writing them!

Anyway, the evil Connell Cochran tells Dr. Chalice before he leaves him to suffer the awful pains of wearing that scary skull mask before the twisted television transmission, " ... and Happy Halloween!"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Scents of Smells

October 13, 2011: I was just thinking about what an acute sense of smell I have, and how it's both a blessing and a curse. I was also thinking about Angelina Jolie and how she grosses me out, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Specifically, I was thinking about this woman I know who has the most tragically horrendous breath you could ever imagine. It smells like a decaying mouse that was left in the filthy boot of an old Irishman for seven long weeks. I've been in a room with this woman and could smell her breath from 20 feet away, that's how rippingly offensive it is, and perhaps how acute my smell is. (You see, I had to leave the room, while others stayed. Did they not smell this vile stink? Were they immune to the aromatic assault of this unfortunate woman's decaying gob?)

Cigarette stinks, bilious foods, bad breath, and the acrid, sour pew of all the awful aromas plaguing mankind are always quick to find their way up my virulent (and obviously eager) nostrils (despite the ever-increasing forest of thick black hairs that keep growing there). At the same time, however, I'm also blessed with a great ability to pick up on the subtlest scents earmarking sweet beauty -- like spring lilacs from a great distance away, or the grand, pungent smell of my wonderful decaying autumn as it sends it lithe, ancient reek out across October (and November too). You see, it's a blessing and curse and, I guess (like so many things) ... It just is ...

Which brings me to this somewhat weak Angelina Jolie movie I'm in the middle of watching called "The Tourist," featuring the perpetually hard-trying Johnny Depp, whom I like very much, despite his sometimes questionable facial hair.

In all fairness, Jolie is probably a fair actor, but she's apparently been marketed to such an absurd point now that filmmakers (probably because of the marketing departments' insistence) must completely prohibit her performances by encasing her in a series of supposedly stylish (albeit sadly sophomoric) specially staged shots aimed at making her appear alluring and charmingly sexy in some poorly contrived version of Hollywood sexiness.

Now, for starters, she is actually rather bizarre looking, and seems to appear more and more so as time passes -- a kind of botox Barbie, with a vaguely misshapen head, eyes much too big for her ample forehead, and lips that become less and less alluring, and look more synthetic, with each passing frame and hour. It's also become her trademark requirement -- and who knows, this all may be HER doing -- to shine this same supposedly sexy expression in almost every scene, as if it's all a commercial for her magnificent face, or her brand, and it's making the entire film feel like an inadequate apportionment of softcore masturbation fodder for Angelina Jolie fans (who must be a sorry lot, if the truth is to get out).

On top of everything else, I really find her name annoying ...

Meanwhile, Depp, who I've lauded here before, is making a fair effort of a rather weak story (although he's starting to fall back on some of his Jack Sparrow schtick, and probably isn't too proud of it). I wonder how an artist such as he sits through production of such a minor debacle, and whether he finds Jolie's big, bulbous lips somewhat disconcerting after having to look at them close up all those weeks.

To tie this whole Blah-ugh! piece together, we can only imagine what Jolie's breath must smell like, let alone some of her other parts. I'm sure there are fans who will enjoy speculating, but I'm somewhat proud to say that not one of them ...

NEXT TIME in THE BLAH-UGH!: "What wonderful, subtle scents might linger about Kiera Knightley at any given moment?"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sometimes ...

September 23, 2011: Sometimes I turn on the computer and just start writing a Blah-ugh! entry ... and sometimes I spend days, or even weeks, contemplating a particular complaint, controversy, consideration or critique ...

Sometimes I wipe with natural dye-free toilet paper that I pay a little bit extra for ... and sometimes I just use whatever's lying around at that time ...

Sometimes I remember myself in present-time awareness, connecting with my breath and the universal omnipresence as I understand and interpret it ... and sometimes I'm thinking about something stupid I said to someone eight or nine years ago, or how I'm going to handle some situation that I fear may come up eight or nine years in the future ...

Sometimes I watch old horror movies late at night, such as John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness," or the original "Fright Night" with the great Roddy McDowall ... and sometimes I read a fine book at night, like "The Journey to the East," "The Sun Also Rises," or "Dracula" ...

Sometimes I say what's on my mind because I don't give a shit what people think if they might happen to foolishly disagree with me ... and sometimes I just keep my mouth shut because I remember that nothing's really that important after all, plus no one really cares what anyone else has to say anyway ...

Sometimes I think about how conscious changes in our society could result in tremendous postive whole-scale advancements for humanity ... and sometimes I think about how great certain women look naked ...

Sometimes I listen to beautiful songs over and over again while driving in the car, and sometimes I just shut the radio and listen to the jabbering voices in my head ...

Sometimes I like some people and sometimes I don't ...

Sometimes I love humanity and sometimes I think they're just a bunch of idiots ...

Sometimes I write for myself and sometimes I try to write for you ...

But I always, always, always feel a compulsion to use a napkin whenever I eat, thanks to the neurotic conditioning of my once-demented mother ...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Paving of the Park

September 13, 2011: Well, I promised I'd post soon, but then I didn't get around to it ... But this evening I was so irritated by seeing this "thing" (as you'll see below), I motivated myself to write an op/ed piece on it, and so I end the evening with both self-worth and copy ... I'm forwarding it on to the papers, etc., but I never have faith that any of them print anything, and if they do there's a good chance they'll omit my commas ... For those of you with Westport, CT, connections, I hope you'll find it interesting and worthwhile, and for the rest, I hope you'll simply enjoy the opportunity to bask in my lovingly crafted work ...

The Paving of the Park


Doesn’t it strike anyone else as odd—-or disturbing—-how the park at the corner of Main Street and the Post Road has been quietly usurped by the businesses that lease the adjacent building?

For the past several months the latest land grabbers have loudly toiled on what was once a pleasant downtown park, with plants and shrubs and wooden benches that had back support. Now, the designers have basically clear-cut the place and left a spread of cement that looks more like a parking lot than anything resembling the open space its supposed to be.

Once upon a time, this was the library park, for the Westport Library occupied the adjacent brick building all the way back to the river. The park was tiny, if not elaborate. It felt set back from the busy road by some pleasantly untended plantings, and was slightly elevated behind a small rustic brick wall in the same style as that running along the library building. The back of the park was a bit of a mishmash of ivy and shrubs, but really it was kind of nice to see a small, uncontrolled speckle of wild open space left in the center of the commercial district—a romantic remnant of a time when we weren’t as afraid of dirt and chemical-free lawns as we seem to be now.

When the library moved in the mid-1980s, a restaurant—it was called Café Christina, if memory serves—took over the better part of the building. Through what was (in my opinion) an entirely despicable zoning variance, they were allowed to construct an enormous cement patio over half that park. Worse, Café Christina—and the clods in Westport’s government who okayed the work—sidestepped reasonable practice by putting up a small, rarely noticed plaque on the right side of the building, which gave notice that this patio was “dedicated open space” and that the public was (still) allowed its use. (I believe the plaque is still there, though it feels like you’d need a microscope to see it.)

Years later, a retail store followed, and the patio became an enormous ramp and staircase. By then they’d also taken away the comfortable wooden-backed benches, like the ones we luckily still have on the river, replacing them with those awful cold stone pews that discourage sitting.

Now, in its most recent and grossest incarnation, this poor “park” has literally become a cement-covered monstrosity, embarrassed by enough concrete to facilitate six new parking spaces. In fact, I’m absolutely surprised these greed-head builders left that magnificent sycamore tree still standing in the middle, for it can’t possibly be profitable to them to have it there. (Fortunately, it’s been rigidly confined within a very small square of dirt, so it doesn’t get any funny ideas!)

Part of being a Westport native involves the recurring digestion of head-slapping zoning decisions, the acceptance of grotesque, mammoth (and tacky) new constructions, and the sad, sometimes senseless destruction of places and properties that offer the most subtle of additions to our town—aesthetics, untended greenery, history, etc. It’s such a constant disappointment to see the pattern unfold again and again, and the sensible citizen merely goes numb and tries to keep their attention centered on the positives, like the Westport Pizzeria, the wooden-backed benches by the river, and the outstanding beauty of the old Y building.

But what a shame it is—-at least for me—-to see this lovely little spot, so centrally located, get stomped out of existence, or at best crushed into an awkward submission to bad taste, overkill, and zoning chicanery. I really, really wish Westport would think these things through.

— 30 —

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Promises, and More Promises

September 7, 2011: This is just a short note to let you know ... (No, not you. You!) ... that I do intend to get back to writing this awful thing at some point soon. I know many of you have been severely hurt by this lengthy hiatus, and many of you have come up to me on the street and in the alleys to express your sadness, contempt and impatience. (There was even one woman who chased me with bottle, but that may have something to do with my singing.)

The point is -- and isn't there ALWAYS a point, after all -- that I don't want you to think I've been shirking my duties, or ignoring them. At the same time, I don't want to imply I've even been THINKING about them, because I haven't. There are few tasks I despise as much as this eternal commitment (and see, I'm not even sure how to spell the word!) to comic stream-of-consciousness. For one thing I'm not conscious enough (as I'm sure my wife would attest), and also I've been very consumed with work, pornography, and Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing movies ...

But seriously folks, consider this my pledge to get back to the Blah-ugh! tasks at some point soon. There are certainly many of you -- are four "many"? I like to think so! -- who get something out of reading my vitriolic vitriol, and for you (or them, depending on which direction I'm facing ... and it actually happens to be northeast this moment) I will try to start churning these psychic updates out more frequently ...

Alright, I have to go now. There's a Ron Jeremy movie starting ...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Who's Running The Store?!

July 18, 2011: I should be working, but I'm thinking of you instead ... Well, some of you. The rest of you I'm trying to block out, like the heat, which is turning my little attic roost into a steambath. And if that's not enough, there's a whopping thunderstorm sounding down upon my roof like god playing really loud records, and it's making me sure that the next lightning bolt could permanently fuse my fragile fingers to this god-awful keyboard for good ...

Something I've been meaning to mention for a long time -- and I don't think I've mentioned it, but who knows, because I don't have the stomach to go back and read these ridiculous entries -- involves organic food. It just occurred to me, (that is, about 10 months ago), that I have no way of knowing whether or not food is organic. Has that ever occurred to you, you who perhaps even care? And if so, why didn't YOU write about it instead of making ME do it?! (I'm talking to you, Liz!)

(For you regular Blah-ugh! readers -- meaning the five of you -- does this sound familiar? I hope I'm not regurgitating a past entry, because we both know I'm better than that. At the same time, don't all artists basically remake the same story or song or painting over and over again? You see my point, right? And if you don't, don't worry, because I'll just be regurgitating it soon enough anyway ...)

But my point (meaning my OTHER point) is that I (meaning ME) don't know what the hell is going on on any organic farm in Tallahassee or noble Northwest corridor (or anywhere, for that matter). Just because Stop & Shop or Trader Joe's puts some stupid label on it that says it's organic (or anything else -- not made on peanut-fueled equipment, or whatever), how the hell do I ever really know it's true?!

Of course, we all like to think that there are government agencies overseeing this sort of thing, and consumer-advocate groups, etc. Unfortunately, I've reached that cold age where I have absolutely no faith in any of this, and so I've started wondering just what we're faced with here (and not just in our apples -- I'm talking about broccoli, pears -- everything). I mean, let's be honest, do any of us really have the time to do anything but watch television in our spare hours, let alone monitor the organic standards of apple companies in Mexico, or the graft passing between wheat executives in Kearney, Nebraska, or whether or not some corn picker in Duluth is rubbing each ear on his private parts before shipping it south?

And why should I trust Trader Joe's, of all things? They just discontinued my precious rice noodles without giving me any notice, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't be able to find my microwavable mashed potatoes in the freezer section anymore, following my securing of the last bag this evening. (O, what a morbid post-apocalyptic short story that could make -- "The Last Mashed Potato Bag" ...)

And Stop & Shop I certainly don't trust, nor any of their "Nature's Promise" labels. And I don't trust our government, even starting locally. And I'm pretty disappointed in my police department as well these days, not to mention some of the weirdos at the dump. Hell, I'm not even sure which neighbors I can count on not to leave their dog excrement in my yard. My god, is there no going back to safer, more trustworthy times?!

Well, in the end we're so breathtakingly powerless that all we can do is eat the f***ing apples and hope we don't come down with anything that can't be cured without good insurance. I'm sure you all agree that this is a wonderful time we live in, with all its communication advances and flavors of herbal tea and different kinds of White-Out.

I'm just not sure, then, why everyone's so depressed and allergic and autistic and cancer-prone and ADHD and taking so many supplements but still on the verge of gluten death ...

Someone should write about this stuff and tell the people. Me, I'm getting back to my last-night John Carpenter DVD fest ...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Name Game

July 12, 2011: I see now that my heartfelt Blah-ugh! entries don't generate half the interest that my scathing rants do, so I'll revert (or evolve, depending on your point of view) back to addressing only those issues and topics that I feel can generate the most angst and venom, or humor -- whichever comes first ...

That said, I've pretty thoroughly criticized everyone based on looks, their ethnicity, their stupid religions, and even the way they walk (I'm talking to you, you duck walkers!), but I don't think I've ever taken the time to really gnaw on the silliness of people's names.

Names are interesting and intriguing, and can even tell a lot about an individual based on their epistomology (I think that's the word, or it might be "wordography," but I think you get my meaning.) Everyone knows MY name translates to "one with mighty spear," which of course says all that needs to be said about me. But what about the rest of you?

I turned to my daughter's name book to explore a few definitions, consider a few inconsistencies, and generally squeeze for material with which to make fun of others, which is, after all, at the heart of what I do.

Before I go any farther, can you believe that this version (called "100,000+ Baby Names") actually condones the name "Anfernee," calling it a version of Anthony. I've long known this was a name only an illiterate could generate, and despite the popularity of its' sole recipient (of basketball fame, of course), it's always been a weird reminder to me of how an eternally guilt-festered society will let some people get away with anything. That said, WHY NOT Anfernee, for where do new names come from anyway, if not illiterates? (Who the hell thought to turn "Ann" into "Anne" after all?) Why not Infernee? or Assfurry? It's a debate I want no part of, but I just want you to consider all the facts before you jump to conclusions ... E.J.!

Thumbing through this thorough volume, I'm delighted and repelled by the quaint variety and dashingly stupid selection. "Curipan" is a Mapuche name for a boy, meaning "stinging nettle." Now who the hell would name their child Curipan, or even Pan for that matter. (Ironically, Pan doesn't even show up in this book -- probably the only name in the known universe that doesn't, because they have "Panini," believe it or not, which doesn't actually mean "sandwich"!) Further, what or where is Mapuche, and should we recognize anything that comes out of what must certainly be a devilishly weird region, and probably a dangerous one!? ...

Turning to the girls, there are a wide variety of "Sha" names, which are all American in origin, if you can believe such a thing. "Shalisa" is (and I quote) "a combination of the prefix Sha + Lisa," while "Shalita" is "a combination of the prefix Sha + Lita. If we're going to use prefixes, perhaps we can get more creative -- or more traditional. Why not use "Pre" as a prefix, for, say, "Prelisa" ... or "Prementrual." Could we not call a girl "Antibellum" or Antilita," meaning someone who is against being Lita ... or Lacklita ... or Lackluster ... (Did I mention MY name means "one with an enormous and dangerously sharp spear"?)

Other names bring strange meanings directly to life, like "Brieanne" (sorry Brianne & Brianna!) which literally combines "a type of cheese" with "gracious," or to simplify it -- "gracious cheese!" "Ottah" means "thin baby," while "Oya" means "speaking of the jacksnipe," (and we all know how often we speak of jacksnipes, especially in the privacy of our homes).

Some names make perfect sense. For instance "Akbar" means "great," and we all know what a great comic Akbar & Jeff is. "Alacrino" means "alive & outgoing," and who's ever been to a party where the center of life didn't flow from all the Alacrinos there ...

And did I mention MY name, which means "ye with enormous and crafty spear"? ...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Real Boys of Summer

July 2, 2011: I've got some pretty good Blah-ugh! ideas bouncing around my brain right now, but they've all been summarily trumped by my Beach Boys. I'm sitting here listening to their quintessential "Best of" LP -- "Endless Summer" -- and I'm more flabbergasted than ever by their genius ... Brian Wilson's genius ... (and the others, who lent their parts, as well) ... Wow!

I pity the fool who off-handedly dismisses them as churlish "surf" music. (Jimi Hendrix embarrassed himself on several occasions by doing so, including his sophomoric statement on stage at Monterey Pop.) The quality of so many of their songs, even the early ones, is really kind of startling. And if you understand anything about music, about arrangements, harmonies and such, you really come away slightly agog at what young Wilson -- deaf in one ear and self-taught on piano with no musical training -- accomplished in only the first few years of his twenties. (He not only arranged all the music and produced the albums, but he wrote almost everything and would, literally, sing or play each other Beach Boy their vocal part.)

But what makes music good? (Well, MY opinion, for one thing!) But it's also about the spirit that inhabits -- literally -- the creation, like with any piece of artwork. When the spirit is there -- when it's authentically embedded during the process of creation, and especially when it's done with a pure heart and soul -- it permeates that work and gives it (sometimes, in the best cases) immeasurable depth. And as our consciousness shifts, the work reveals hidden depths and layers. As we grow, so too will brilliant artwork taking on new meaning and magic.

How often have I outgrown one work of creation or another? (I mean, I like M.C. Hammer's "Can't Touch This," but is it art?!) But you don't outgrow the Beatles, or a brilliant movie like "It's a Wonderful Life," or an outstanding novel like "The Great Gatsby." The Beach Boys' music -- certainly a great deal of it -- is like that.

Where do I begin? You can hardly put the magic of music into words. For me the magic goes deep. In fact, from around age nine, I wanted few things as badly as to move to California and become a surfer. One of my great regrets was that I wasn't named Carl, or Troy, and that I couldn't live the life created for me in all those magical songs of summer. (For instance, why couldn't I have a school to be true to, instead of one I merely tolerated? When would I be able to shut someone down in a drag race, or have fun, fun, fun with the girl of my choice?)

Through some of those songs I formed my ideals of love, friendship, passion and more. Some of those ballads are forever twisted ivy around my heart's growing pains, accentuated by Brian's other-worldly soprano, and those mesmerizing harmonies ... and such thoughts shared -- "In My Room" ... "Don't Worry Baby" ... "The Warmth of the Sun" ... "Girl Don't Tell Me" ... "Let Him Run Wild" ...

Then one day, years later, after I'd outgrown them, I somehow stumbled on the song "Heroes & Villains," and was completely blown away -- for the first conscious time -- by what these people had accomplished musically. A close look at "Pet Sounds" eventually followed -- the historic LP on which the Beatles modeled so many ideas for "Sgt. Pepper." Hell, on the strength of "God Only Knows" alone, we could devote an entire series of Blah-ugh! episodes. Carl Wilson's lead vocal (as in "Good Vibrations") is just stupendous. And how do we ever survive the grinding, tweaking, lovely gut-wrenching pain of the round at the end, featuring the french horn ...

By the way, a reminder to anyone who might be there, I want "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" played at my funeral, (which I hope is particularly elaborate, well-attended and gets some significant press, after all my trouble).

So, if you haven't taken the time, I insist that you get yourself a Beach Boys album or two (although the catalogue starts to thin out after the Smile era, and is sketchy for the first couple of albums) and open yourself up to a whole world of brilliant art. (I'm talking to you, E.J.! Put down that avocado and get cracking! And the rest of you, whose lovely FB comments I'm always too lazy to respond to!)

You shan't regret it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Visions of Desi

June 15, 2011: I've often tried to gauge how successful a recording artist Desi Arnaz (a.k.a. Ricky Ricardo) was in his heyday. Given the wealth of material he presented on "I Love Lucy" alone, I have to guess and hope he was a tremendous musical force throughout the first half of the 1950s.

To begin with, no one could question the magic of "Babaloo," which was presented in several versions and, of course, recurred as Ricky's theme song. (In the last season, the Tropicana even became "Club Babaloo" after all.) But what are some of the other, lesser-known-but-no-less-magical songs Arnaz brought to life, as least in the guise of Ricardo?

My first favorite would have to be "The Lady in Red," which actually appeared in three separate episodes, including the famous second season show in which Lucy finally gives birth. (I think it's that one ... It may be the one where she tells Ricky she's "enciente," (whatever that means) but now I'm getting confused ... I should check, but we both know I won't!) My favorite version ends with Ricky's playful, "You'd better write her number down, you fool," but each version has its unique offerings (including the one with that sexy dancer). (Also note, the "We're Having a Baby" number is splendid, made all the more joyous by Lucille Ball's authentic hormonal tears throughout the scene.)

Another favorite of mine -- what Ricky himself calls "De mos' beautiful In'ian number ever wri'en," is "The Waters of the Minnetonga," (or something close to that). It's the one where the beautiful Indian girl -- (she may be a Native American girl, but I can't be sure one way or another, although I actually think she's just non-ethnic altogether) -- stands in front of the moon, and it's got that great flute line -- the song I mean, not the moon. That one's pretty hard to beat. Interestingly, it's got a similar timbre and flow to Ricky famous "Sie Mi Low," which we all love, but with much more heart, more emotion.

Others worth noting include "Acapulco," which offers that jaunty tropical happiness you might find with the Andrew Sisters singing tropical songs in a 1940's Abbott & Costello movie -- unforgettably awesome, comfortingly kitsch and innocent ... And of course I have to mention the saucy "Breakin' My Back Putting Up a Front for You," which is a delight ... And how could I ever leave out "Cuban Pete," which may be the consummate Lucy/Desi number, and served as the test balloon for the whole show.

I could expound for many sentences about the band as well (or "orchestra," as they liked to be known, led by the invisible Wilbur Hatch when Desi was out in the spotlight). Two great instrumentals we're treated to on the show are the fabulous "Stompin' at the Savoy" and, of course, "Twelfth Street Rag." Doubling as extras, the members were also always fine in their performances, excepting of course Marco, the piano player, who never stopped grinning and blew the one line he had in the entire run of the show, delivering to Ricky like a fool as they part ways, "Okay Dez." But how can you hold it against that grinning monkey?! He was, after all, "Marco."

Of course, there are some weak numbers in Ricky's repertoire, including a muddled version of "Guadelahara," and an annoying "Big Straw Hat," which is mostly annoying because of that old cleaning woman who does the dancing with him. But you forgive a bountiful songmaker such things, the way we forgive Ringo for "Octopus's Garden."

As is my curse, I'm sure I'm omitting much worth mentioning, but my back is killing me and I can only type lying on the floor for so long, as I do. At the end of the day, it's all perhaps best summarized in the lyrics to the theme itself -- "I love Lucy and she loves me ..." And we, of course, love Desi, despite his philandering and sometimes domineering means as an executive. And long will we love the lovable music of Ricky Ricardo.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On Avocados

June 9, 2011: I really like avocados. It's not something I talk a lot about, but it's true. I mean, I really love them, actually.

To begin, you may or may not know that my favorite color is green. (You may or may not care, but it's important I establish that, given how green avocados really are.) Avocados offer a range of greens to them also, not just one, like some produce -- (oranges, for instance, in my estimation, don't try hard enough; it's like they just live on their reputation, while avocados are always giving it their all). That's one of the things I love about avocados -- their greenness. There's the initial skin, which is often brown actually, and I have nothing against brown, per se, but it doesn't satisfy me at the level that green does. Anyway, they're also green inside, and it's such a lovely green (and I know greens, believe me!).

More interesting, they also kind of roll in color inside from that deep, gritty green into soft yellow, and I just love that. It reminds me of a pistachio nut, which I really love for their color range, which will have that green to yellow transition (and a nice red shell in many cases), and pistachio nuts remind me of autumn leaves in the earlier part of the season, in particular the maples. Or perhaps more accurately the maples, especially the sugar maples, remind me of pistachio nuts, which in turn remind me of avocados, but not quite as much, but you see how it all comes full circle, and I haven't even gotten to the fourth paragraph yet.

I also really love the consistency of avocados -- that firm yet mushy quality that holds its form so well, and yet can be mashed at those times when a mashing is in order. It might be worth noting here (and why not here, for who knows for how long I can keep going on about a vegetable, after all) that I have a very great way of peeling avocados simply and quickly and cleanly ... but I won't tell it to you here and you'll have to write me directly if you want to know it.

I like how avocados taste, too. It's a nutty taste, though not quite pistachio-ian in nature. I love guacamole too, but an avocado alone still lights up my train whistle. I hate it when they start turning, however, and some crappy restaurants will try and serve you avocado with those awful grey-black patches of disgust. Shame on them, the dirty, mealy bastards! Avocados are often put on hamburgers in California, which was one of the things that really attracted me to the idea of moving there years ago. (Now you can get avocado on burgers in Connecticut, so why leave the state?!)

Another great thing about the avocado is that enormous seed. I mean, how can you not love that seed. It's not even a seed, or at least to call it a seed seems insubstantial. It should be called a pod, or a goiter or something. And I have an especial fondness for those seeds because, for some strange reason, my mother used to always try growing them when I was a kid. Yes, she had some weird book -- I remember it was green -- not avocado green, but more of a lime green -- and just such a 1969 artifact (back when they made books of irregular size and length, and on unique topics like growing avocados). And so my mom would stick toothpicks in these seeds and put them in a glass of water and hide them in a dark cabinet ... and there they'd start growing roots, like those pods in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and the water would turn brown and when they got big enough, I guess, she'd plant them and they never grew. But it was always a nice kind of thing, really, these nice avocado goiters sprouting in our dark cabinets, like alien symbiotes.

I haven't touched on many other aspects of the avocado, but perhaps I can revisit the topic later in the summer. I'm remembering fondly the one and only time I ever actually saw an avocado tree, which was a few years ago when I was living in Santa Monica, and I just randomly happened to walk by one in front of someone's lawn -- this little leafy plant with a whole mess of these things hanging off of it. It was awesome. "Hey!" I said outloud, even though I was alone (and you see, it was okay, because this was California), and I said, "That's an avocado tree!"

And it was!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More on Hitler, Roosevelt, Pearl Harbor, the Big Lies & Such

June 5, 2011: Having enjoyed my own insights on Hitler so much in my last entry -- my god, someone has to pour praise on me if you won't -- I'm excited to be following up with more Nazi-related ramblings. Actually, I don't know if I have anything to say about Nazis right now, but it was by absolute chance that I found myself reading a book on World War II this week, and there were a few things I found interesting enough to include here in this Blah-ugh! (where things are generally never that interesting after all).

To begin, I hadn't known that only one member of Congress voted against going to war with Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. According to this book, which may or may not have any idea what it's talking about -- (I'm old and wise enough now that I don't defend anyone or anything with any vehemence) -- she was not only a "pacifist," but she didn't believe that the harbor had actually even been bombed. (Women! Sheesh!)

But this opens a fascinating can of worms, because now that I think of it, how do we know what happens and what doesn't, or more exactingly, how something might be happening, or under whose authority. It's pretty clear to many people at this point that 9/11 did not unfold the way the government claims it did (and we've seen the same thing with other events, like the Kennedy assasination, which we're simply prone to take on face value). I've long heard that Roosevelt knew in advance that Japan was going to bomb Pearl Harbor, so think about it -- it could have been anything that let him succomb to it, or perhaps even motivate it!

Why do we assume Roosevelt was so sound? Just because he smiled a lot, and used a cigarette holder? He might have owed money to some Hawaiian he wanted out of the way, or maybe he had a bet with one of those Japanese diplomats he was spending so much time at the end of November, 1941. (What does a human life mean to these power brokers anway, so removed from the pulse and the dirt and filth that makes up us little people ... especially the filth!) Or, as is a more likely Japan-related scenario, Roosevelt had an "ohn" on him, or under him, or above him -- somewhere -- probably relating to some affair he'd had, because we all know that Mrs. Roosevelt looked like a poached tree frog.)

This doesn't mean I'm claiming that it didn't happen, or that the Japanese -- a crafty bunch, as I'm sure anyone who's tried to make sushi at home will tell you -- weren't somehow involved. (Apparently they were doing something to the Chinese beforehand, but I'm not sure what it was, because I've been reading the book (which has a lot of pictures) backwards for some reason.)

My point is really, Who the hell knows what happened (or happens) or what goes on -- certainly not Fox News!

This brings me to the story of Lieutenant Audie Murphy, a tiny Texan who looked like the love child of Michael J. Fox & Conan O'Brien. He got more medals than God for his dramatic antics on the battlefield, and it's odd, but even reading his story last night, I was disappointed, for I'd assumed he'd done something a little better than he did to earn all that decoration, and frankly I almost found it hard to believe it really happened anyway. This, of course, led me to think that it might not have happened, and probably didn't. He ended up giving up all his medals to children of relatives in later years (which pissed people off), and led a subsequently dissatisfying life carrying the yoke of fame (or so I garnered from the paragraph about him). Wouldn't it be logical to surmise that he was guilt-ridden, like the astronauts who never really did anything and yet still get goaded to appear at comicbook conventions? ... Yes. (I'm glad you agree.)

This has me thinking about the close connection between Hollywood and Washington, and not just because of Reagan and Schwarzneggar and Oprah, but because of the magical smoke screen involved with each pursuit, and how similar they are in what they offer (or try to offer) the public -- comforting fantasy in one form or another.

And while I'm thinking about it, it all comes full-circle, and I realize I'm thinking way too much for a Sunday afternoon. Whether it happened or not, there isn't a damn thing I can do about it after all. The reality is that I'm merely trying to get through my ever-precarious days with a vague sinus headache and cramps from the Indian food I ate last night at one in the morning.

That's my reality, and there's little I could ever do to convince you how terrifying and confusing it really is ...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dreams of Hitler

May 23, 2011: I had a long, detailed dream about Hitler last night. It was quite vivid, and just a bit odd, because I've never dreamed about Hitler before.

Like with most dreams, now that I'm trying to recount it, the sequence and many of the details are sketchy. I can tell you that Hitler was riding on a bus, seated at the back. It was modern times -- at least modern dream times, because Hitler was an old man, though I guess reasonably not so old as he would be were he still alive now, so perhaps it was circa 1975 (which kind of makes sense, because as many of you regular Blah-ugh! readers know, I've been watching a lot of "All In The Family" episodes lately, and I think the better part of my mind is staying rooted in that period.)

(NOTE: 1975 is, in fact, a very interesting year, and I believe may well date the demise of modern civilization, but I don't have time to talk about that right now, so you'll just have to take my word for it.)

Anyway, back to Hitler. So it came to light, somehow, that I knew he would be riding on this bus -- it was some sort of tour or something, and while he had a kind of celebrity status in the dream, I think his being there was more recreational. I think it was taking place in Germany, or certainly Europe, and his presence was known, but overall I don't think anyone was making a big deal of it. But I decided that a good friend of mine, who's a big World War II buff (and a bit of a minor anti-Semite, actually) would really love to have his autograph (Hitler being an important figure in that war, as some of you know), so I thought I'd try to get him one. (What's interesting, I realize as I'm writing this, is that I actually got this same friend an autograph from Mina Souvari (sp?) when I lived out in L.A. -- having run into her at Whole Foods in Santa Monica -- so it's kind of a natural dream extension, if you think about it, though I don't mean to equate Souvari to Hitler, for in fact she was very nice, and obviously Hitler wasn't.)

In the dream I struggled to decide what it might be best to have Hitler sign, for I had paper, but I also thought a book might make the autograph more valuable, and as it was a dream, I suddenly had limitless volumes at my disposal. (Again, as I'm writing this, I realize my son and I were over at a memorabelia shop this week, and spent some time looking at how much certain celebrity signatures sold for.) Anyway, I considered asking him to sign a favorite Hermann Hesse volume -- two, in fact, because I was considering that his signature might be worth something one day -- but then I realized that, even though Hesse was German, he was something of a liberal thinker, and I didn't want to offend Hitler. (How's that for some weird, radical story title: "Offending Hitler"; I could see a film starring Michael Caine and Courtney Love.) And isn't it just hysterical how I'm concerned with offending Hitler in my dream. I mean, am I the pathetic product of a celebrity-awed nation or what?!!

Anyway, anyway, the dream gets sketchy after that -- as it it weren't sketchy enough already -- and I don't think I actually got the autograph (although I feel like we spent a few moments on the bus together). But what's interesting to me was the realization in the dream -- a quite vivid realization -- that I saw that Hitler would be forgiven everything if he had a chance to publish his memoirs and, perhaps, go on television, and in the dream I started hoping he would die before he got a chance to have his book published.

And it's true, isn't it! It's G. Gordon Liddy revisited, and Nixon, who we put on a stamp after all the embarrassing atrocities of his presidency, because he got older and we're a stupid culture with the damaged attention span of acidheads.

But this is HITLER, I hear you saying, and I can't/shouldn't be making such comparisons. (Hey! Don't tell me what I should or shouldn't do ... Matt!)

No! In fact, the comparisons are completely justified, and despite the breathtaking extremity of such a prediction, I think it's absolutely true. Were Hitler still alive today, he'd write an apologetic autobiography, make appearances on the Fox TV talk circuit, become a born-again Christian while serving his three years in prison, and then very well could end up running for governor in some midwest state. Therein lies the weird, profoundly prophetic, perhaps twisted but, owing to the madness of post-1975 modern times, completely believable fact of our reality -- Hitler -- despite being the pinnacle of the evil man, could find that skin-deep redemption in our backward times.

Quentin Crisp called it so eloquently (as a gay man will) in his second book, "How To Become A Virgin." "Just go on television," he said, and all will be forgiven!

I saw it in my dream so clearly -- the sour, silly-mustached fanatic no longer as threatening as he was in the WWII newsreels, demurely replaced by an aging, timid vision of contrition, just riding a bus, trying to get along, aware of his shortcomings, like a Watergate burglar, or an arms-dealing Reaganite, or a philandering U.S. senator, or a girl-drowning Kennedy, and on and on ...

And what would the name of his book be? Perhaps, "After The Furnace Fires," or maybe, "I'll Forgive Jew, If Jew'll Forgive Me." Who knows?!

Oy!! As Margaret Hamilton said in her most famous role, "What a world, what a world!" I just hope I sleep better tonight!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Playing Catch Up ...

May 18, 2011: Oh, ho-oh! ... Where does the time go?

What I want to know is why I still only have 20 Followers when I know there are at least 23 of you out there reading this thing. Are you uncomfortable being labeled a "Follower?" Would you feel better if it said "Supplicant?"

There's so much to speak of, and yet it's so hard for me to move beyond talking about television. And I'm not even talking about new television, which I guess is what most people want to talk about -- reality shows and the like. I'm talking about "All In The Family," and the first 3 seasons I just got on DVD. My god, but that show is brilliant. And it's been exciting having the chance to introduce it to my children, except I have to explain a lot of the racist jokes. ("Why's that so funny?" my son will ask. "Well," I explain, "the Polish people have traditionally blah-blah-blah ...") I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in a time when we were taught that all these stereotypes are wrong, and yet we were still exposed to them in great excess. Pity my poor children -- and yours -- who are growing up without a solid foundation in these precarious treasures troves of comedy, like bigotry, racism, homophobia, and mysogyny (which I can NEVER spell).

Speaking of comedy, I heard something at work today -- Thanks Gwen! -- about this Arnold Schwarznegger situation (and I guess I'm spelling that as well as it needs to be spelled for our purposes). I recall meeting him briefly in L.A. a few years back, and I was struck both by how short he was (certainly compared to the goliath heights he'd achieved in my imagination) and by how old he looked -- his hair looking so poorly dyed up-close, his rock-quarry features caving in on themselves amidst raucous wrinkles and -- I know now -- the derailing stress of dual fatherhood (or is it duel fatherhood). Anyway, he was at least polite, and now looking back I have to wonder if he didn't simply want to get me in bed too. Well, say what you might about his philandering shenanigans, I still think he made many great movies, starting with Last Action Hero, Sixth Day, Total Recall, and perhaps culminating with Predator, although they weren't even made in that order. As an actor he consistently showed a level of versatility that you wouldn't ordinarily find in an Austrian, certainly not since the Great War.

It's been raining a lot this week, and that's another topic worth exploring. I have a theory that certain factions of our totalitarian world government are hard at work trying to control the weather. Obviously they're not having any success, but I'm glad, because I love the rain, and if it were up to those people it would only rain at night, and we don't even need it then. I think you see my point. But if you don't, I don't care, unless you're one of my Supplicants ... I mean Followers.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monster Model Memories & My Love of Horror Films

May 9, 2011: I've been thinking a lot about my old Aurora models lately, in particular the monster collection. These were a brilliant catalogue I used to get at a long-time local store called Klein's on Westport, CT's Main Street, which had everything -- an extensive record department, cameras and film development, books galore, jigsaw puzzles, and, of course, models. (Ironically, years later, I even got my wife there!)

Some of my best memories -- damn, perhaps my very best -- are of sitting in our little kitchen on Saturday nights watching Creature Features on channel 5 (which ran some of the best horror movies ever) on our little black-and-white portable Sony TV. I remember the Wolfman was my first model, and when it was finally together, I broke out that glorious set of Testor paints we had, in those little tiny glass bottles, and perfected my very favorite movie monster with a most carefully complimented melange of colors.

I think I got Frankenstein next, then the Mummy. There were 12 in all, including Dracula, Dr. Jekyll, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback, Godzilla, King Kong, a Witch, and the Forgotten Prisoner (which featured a very unhappy skeleton chained up in a dungeon). There may have been an Invisible Man set, but that might have been made later. Anyway, I didn't know about it at that time, and would certainly have bought it if I did!

There are few times in my life I can recall with such vivid awareness as when I used to construct those models, always using the silver and green tube of Duco Cement. The newspapers would be spread over my demented mother's precious tan and white formica counter. (Fortunately by then she'd have retired to an early intoxicated slumber.) The smell of the sticky cement mixed with the fresh cardboard scent of the opened boxes, which were like priceless treasures. Each model also came with glow-in-the-dark pieces, which I never used, but still saved for some poor reason.

It's hard now for people to understand (beginning with my own children) why I've such a monumental affinity for horror movies, why I draw such luscious comfort from that vast collection of camp and classic flicks, such as the Universal pics of pre-World War II, and the Hammer Films, and 1950s Sci-Fi ... Among the titles that take me to that glorious place of peace and serenity -- "The Blob," "Killer Shrews," "Horror Express," "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman," "Halloween III," "The Invisible Man," "Salem's Lot," "Invaders From Mars" ... and on and on ... And each year the list expands by a few select titles -- tasteful fantasy films that offer the right combination of subtle camp and unrealism.

One must draw comfort from whence one can, my dears. It's a diabolically cold and confusing world out there ... sometimes, so take it where you can get it!

Just thought I'd expound on one of my favorite topics ... Sorry for such a boring Blah-ugh! ... But, oh, those wonderful, wonderful monster models ...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Amos, Blane and I (a.k.a. Osama Bin Laden)

May 4, 2011: If you rearrange the letters in Osama Bin Laden, it spells out "Amos, Blane and I." I'm not yet completely sure what this means, but I feel it might be important, and I'm slowly developing some very viable theories ...

I was surprised to learn last night that Osama Bin Laden was dead. Perhaps you've already heard about it, but my source just phoned me to share some startling details.

For starters, apparently it was some of our own (meaning the U.S.; my apologies to our international readers) armed forces who discovered him lurking in some Asian country. (It may have been either Pakistan or Afghanistan, but I'm definitely sure it ended with a "stan.") He was apparently living there out in the open, or dressing up like a woman -- my friend wasn't sure which -- and he was going to get a falafel sandwich (although it may have been chicken schwarma) when he was gunned down (or it may have been shot).

Apparently they took him out to sea and wrapped him in a white cloth for some reason, and I'm still somewhat confused why they wrapped him up so carefully if they'd already shot him. (Normally, you don't invest a lot of time primping the people you've shot, unless you're a lunatic, like in "Silence of the Lambs" and you're planning on dancing around in their skin or something.) Also, there was some confusion about whether the body was his, or whether they could prove the body was his, or something, so they took either some DNA (whatever that is; I mean, do any of us really know?), or they might have actually taken a whole hand, or a foot.

Now I don't want to start any controversy -- that's not my style -- but I'm confused why, if 9/11 was a covert NSC/CIA operation to begin with, we were still so focused on this character. He was obviously something of a creep, but was he that much creepier than a lot of people? (There's this guy who lives down the block from me who lets his dog crap everywhere. I mean, would you vouch for him!?) There are also a wealth of well-known ties between the Bush family and the Osama family (or is it the Laden family? I get summarily confused with Asian names, because they reverse everything, like the Jews. In fact, I'm not entirely sure you don't pronounce his name Nedal Nib Amaso, which actually sounds a lot less threatening.) But if he's friends with the Bushes, or the Bushes are friends with him, or do business dealings with him, or something, aren't one of them not quite so bad or something ... or am I confused here ...

Anyway, the point is he's dead, and I'm not, so my day's going that much better. And what I really started out to speak to in this Blah-ugh! entry was the fact that his being dead shouldn't be publicized as much as it's being. Aren't we just begging his family to write a tell-all book and make a fortune for his estate? Is that what we want? Wouldn't it have been better to shoot him quietly, or perhaps simply smother him with a white cloth, thereby more logically explaining the reason behind the cloth in the first place?

And what about that guy who lives down the block? When are some troops gonna land here and make him clean up that feces?!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

You Won't Have Jarret To Kick Around, Etc.

May 1, 2011: So this is what I get for trying to help -- some weird anonymous ninny whom I've never heard of backhandedly criticizing my Blah-ugh! (and me!), and none of my so-called loyal followers -- friends ... Ha! -- even raising one typing finger to come to my pitiful defense ...

So there you go! All I wanted to do was make you laugh, and perhaps more importantly express the inexpressible by raising my voice so you wouldn't have to ... Say the things you wanted to say, but may have been too scared or too uncomfortable to. This Blah-ugh! exists merely to spare you the embarrassment of having to make fun of the Prince, or racial stereotype, or say nasty things about your mother. I'm willing to put myself on the line and call your mother's bluff, so you won't have to.

And have I done it within the cowardice of anonymity (although that might have been smarter in the long run), like the oblique "Follower" who festers within my archives? No, I stand behind my words with that fetching picture, meaning what I say and saying what I mean, like the phone company, who said they'd shut off our service and did ... And sometimes I'm even said it mean, when I felt it was worth the balance of wit and wisdom and the potential hurt feelings of the filthy rich, famous and ultimately uninterested ... See, such risks I take, and not for me ... For you!

But where are you, dear reader, through all of this?! Have you taken the time to phone around for an agent for me? Have you contacted magazine editors you know, or book publishers, urging them to bring attention to my woebegone talents and tenacity? Have you spread the word about this Blah-ugh! or worked to drum up publicity for the publication of my first novel, which currently sits sadly on the shelf waiting for you to do something about it?!

Nein. Instead you've sat idly by and let such weird philosophers as you'll see somewhere below write long (and rather dull) answers to my probing questions and commentary. You've let them humiliate me, you see, and right here on my own Blah-ugh! Shame, shame, I say, for you may have not thought about it recently, but I don't get paid to grind out this crap. I do it to make you happy. Yes, you!

I can only hope that the next time you see your favorite writer (and I mean me, and you know I mean me, and you know it's true, so don't pretend!) being belittled (directly and indirectly) by anonymous scoundrels like this perpetrator, I hope you'll come to his defense and not make him devote an entire (rather flat) entry to figuratively spanking you!

As for that dodo who wrote that needling fatuous fluff in response to my sharp-witted bile -- I suggest you stop reading this Blah-ugh! altogether and spend your time watching Fox News, for which your cold, clouded sense of humor is far better suited. I mean it. This Blah-ugh! is not for the feint of heart, and if you can't stand the heat, I don't want you in my kitchen!

As for the rest you, you'd better pick up your support, and fast. Otherwise you won't have Jarret L. to kick around anymore!

Friday, April 29, 2011

April Means Never Having To Make A Cogent Point

April 29, 2011: I thought it would be chipper of me to wrap up April with one last Blah-ugh! entry. And while I could wait until tomorrow, I know many of you are chomping at the bit to learn the latest intellectual developments in the mind of the man New Yorker magazine once called "that guy who sends those trite queries."

Yes, in fact, many things are on my mind today, starting with the pork loin I'm burning atop my stove as we speak ... So hold on a minute ... (FYI, it's progressing nicely, thanks largely to the thick slabs of butter I have augmenting the process. For a time I always simmered my pork loins in chicken broth until they became pullable, {if you'll excuse the grotesque imagery}, but today I wanted something different, despite the fact that it's just going to end up shredded over nachos for the next four or five nights.)

I'd be remiss in my reportage if I failed to make fun of the new Prince, or King, or whatever he is. To be perfectly honest, I'm so regularly out of touch with the "news" -- and smarter because of it, mind you -- this whole royal wedding came upon me quite unexpectedly. I did, however, take the trouble to watch the key three minutes of video on the Internet (owing to my being cabley impotent, as you know), and while I couldn't understand the bride -- I'm not sure what her name is -- because she spoke so softly, I did get the chance to observe how unattractive the groom is. Let's be honest, were William -- and I'm pretty sure his name is William, or it might be Edward, but I think it's William -- were he just an ordinary mortal, he'd never have a chance with a woman of her pretty stature. (Although who knows what she looks like out of her clothes; there could be all sorts of nasty surprises going on.) I only hope -- again, as I don't follow the media, I don't know what's been reported -- that people have been sure to point out the imbalance in the union, owing to their respective looks. He actually looks like a young John Elway, and that's not a compliment. It's funny how unattractive pure WASP features become -- little circular mouths that never seem to close all the way, overweight faces and over-dimpled chins. Thank god he has that great British accent, otherwise all he'd have going for him is his money, fame and unlimited power.

Speaking of royal, I'm rereading "Casino Royale" for the sixth or seventh time. There's nothing like a Bond book for a welcome breath of mysogenistic (sp?) anti-Soviet spellbinding. This was the first book, as you know, I think 1951, and Ian Fleming is in top form, despite monotonously excessive over-description of Vesper's evening wear.

And speaking of evening wear, I'm distraught to find myself lying here in shorts at 6:30, because this means the hot weather has arrived. I hate hot weather, except sometimes, and even then I pretend I don't like it so people feel sorry for me.

One final thought: why do the pork loins always smell so awful after they're cooked (and before, too, but that's a question I can answer)?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Music & Me

April 18, 2011: Well, another week has gone by and I'm still not famous. Part of me wants to publicly blame you for this, and yet what good would that do, (so I'll just keep blaming you privately). I had to eat another agent rejection this morning -- a dirty little cad whose name I'll spare you, even though it's a silly name -- and now I'm bitter ... more bitter than usual, if you can imagine such a thing ...

But that's not why I logged you in today, or on. In fact, I had more blissful topics to explore, beginning with music. This weekend I was pleasantly reintroduced to an old personal "best of" CD compilation I'd made back yonder. I hadn't heard a lot of these exquisite songs in quite sometime, and I was wholly drawn in to each as they spun (with only a modicum of skipping) so blithely upon (or within) my auto's CD spinning machine. And as each song played, I decided it was absolutely the best song ever recorded, bar none, if I had to name one, and for those three minutes I probably would have bet my life (or certainly your life) on the possibility that said song was a bona fide miracle of creation (or evolution, depending on which side you're on).

For starters, if you don't know the Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Lodi," I feel sorry for you, because it's got to be the most heart-wrenching, pathos-drawing, and yet rhythmically intoxicating tune ever created. I remember my friend Kristine Newman once commenting, "It just says it all," and it does! Great kudos to my friend John Fogerty, who set a standard for music and plaid shirts.

But then came the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider," which is beyond words. When the bridge (and bass) fall into that simple, almost two-note guitar solo, it's a heart-stopping moment for me -- rainy windshield on a Georgia highway, sucked along by that lordly voice of Gregg (or as his friends call him, Greg). And those harmonies ... Egad! as Matt would say (and he's from Georgia!).

And also from Georgia comes R.E.M., and while they have so many good songs (at least up until their drummer Bill Berry, with his enormous single eyebrow, left the band), "Sitting Still" just has to be (at least for me) the quintessential early '80s melancholy underground dance hall jangling Rickenbacker tune of it all. (On a personal note, I don't think Matt can understand this one, as he tried to run Bill Berry over with his car ... or maybe Berry tried to run him over; I always get confused about the story.)

You've heard me speak of Lulu's "Dreary Days & Nights," of course -- just breathtaking -- but a similar period piece (which I know Matt loves) is Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play." What an amazing arrangement, and scintillating use of effects ... It's really a song that takes creation to the next level. I love later Pink Floyd, of course, but this early piece has to be about their best to me.

And in that vain (or vein -- I'm not sure which), The Doors did something similar with several pieces, and one great (and lesser known) example is "Unhappy Girl" -- great lyrics (and I've never been an over-the-top Jim Morrisson fan, in part because I think most poetry is just silly), a fetching liquid tune, and again, special effects that just work brilliantly. Of course, there aren't many bad Doors songs.

Finally -- and believe me, I could go on and on ... I haven't even touched on the Beatles or Beach Boys, but each deserve their own entry at least -- but finally, what has to be (for me ... yes, remember this is all about ME!) the quintessential song of the 60s -- Jefferson Airplane's "D.C.B.A. - 25," which appears almost invisibily on the second side of the classic "Surrealistic Pillow" album. That song just sounds like Golden Gate Park on a late afternoon in summer -- a subtle echo, and heavy hit of sparkling noise. The Airplane was never a tight band, not a slick band, like the Beatles or Byrds, but a kind of sloppy dissonant chord. Yet Paul Kantner and company work wonders on this song, the throwaway title of which is merely the four chords they use, with the LSD joke tagged on. (God, listen to me making liner notes!) It also includes two of my favorite lines of any song -- "Too many days I've left unstoned" ... and perhaps my favorite, "I can but dance behind your smile." Wow! Now that's poetry!

Well, many more songs could I praise, but time is short and I have to get my pants on. Most importantly, it made me forget ... y'know ... and while I'll have to go back and reread this for typos, I'll look forward to getting out to my car again and escaping into auditory oblivion ...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Once Upon a Walk

April 11, 2011: Greetings! I'm glad you could join me again. I have so many things planned to share with you ... and yet I'll probably fail to get to most of them, so adjust your expectations accordingly.

To begin, I enjoyed a marvelous walk last afternoon -- and in fact covered 6.75 miles, which I hope impresses those of you who see me only as a brilliant intellect, and not the strapping physical specimen others of you know me to be. (You know who you are! Don't pretend!) The details I'll spare you, as they mostly involve trees and no one wants to hear about them unless they fall over. However, early on, I had an interesting (well, not really) experience at the bank machine that got me to thinking, as bank machine experiences are wont to do.

You see, as I set out from town, I needed to make a stop to deposit a check I was carrying for $4.96. (I get a lot of these little checks, actually, though most of them aren't for amounts even that large -- usually under a dollar. If you want to know the details, please write me and I'll tell you more, but I'd rather not have to right now, as I'm very busy.)

Anyway, as I walked up to the door, a guy came out and declared, "If you're gonna make a deposit, don't, 'cause it just ate my money." He was distraught, and briefly detailed that he'd just called his wife (although I'm still not clear why), and they were leaving on vacation to Florida in the morning and he'd needed to put the $600 in the account, but the machine (as machines will do, left to their own devices) had simply eaten the money and then denied any involvement, and he was bumming.

I offered my sympathies and suggested it would all work out, as they'd have to see there was an unaccounted $600 in the coiffers the next morning (hopefully, unless the machine had somehow funneled it to the Contras or the Tea Party representatives or something). He was amenable to the thought, and almost good-humoredly declared it a mere annoyance after all. He somehow alluded to his wife again, which was starting to get on my nerves. Then, at the same time, interestingly, we both said that he should best simply "breathe" and it would all work out swimmingly.

The point of this whole story, which really unfolded after I walked away (certainly not willing to chance losing my $4.96 check) is one of Racial Awareness (or R.A., as I've coined it merely for the purposes of this entry, and will subsequently forget coining by the time I get to the next paragraph). Regular Blah-ugh! readers will recall several insightful essays I've shared involving how, despite my far-liberal social leanings, I sometimes can't help being the product of a race-conscious upbringing (or a race-conscious something. Maybe it wasn't my upbringing. Perhaps it was my downfalling. Who really knows?)

The point is, I began to speculate on whether his being black was going to impact his chances at getting his money back. (See, I hadn't mentioned that he was black. And how many of you Whiteys out there thoughtlessly drew a picture of a white man at the ATM, and were -- even for an instant -- surprised by this disappointed customer's blackness? ... Come now. Be honest. (You racist scum! You're even worse than I am!))

Yes, I was thinking his credibility could be called into serious jeopardy by the sight of his skintone at the ATM camera. ("Hmmm," I could hear the corporation heads concurring. "He could be a liar. He is, after all, pretty black.")

This, in turn, got me to wonder whether a white man was necessarily a better risk where such an event was concerned. Certainly not an Italian (like myself, and I'm not even one of your swarthier ones!), although the Irish may not fair any better, especially the ones with red hair ... It seems an Asian might be a good bet, as they're a notoriously hard-working and honest people (although they can be very loud when you're riding on the subway) ... Better still to be Jewish (also like myself), for they're just fat with money (although I'm one of the rare exceptions) and they're reputedly honest (although very loud, in many cases).

This led me to decide that it might be a good idea to start wearing a yarmulke every time I use the ATM, just in case the machine backfires. I can keep one in my car, and while they never seem to fit me right, I don't think the quality of those cameras is that fine.

It's wonderful the range of fulfillment one discovers on a typical late-afternoon walk!

NEXT WEEK: More sophistry and perhaps less punctuation.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More About Eyebrows -- MY Eyebrows

April 6, 2011: If you're like me -- and let's hope, in the name of God, that you're not -- you're ridiculously consumed with your appearance. That's not to say you (or I) necessarily have a good appearance, but just that you're consumed with it.

I'm not sure from where it stems -- my mother, perhaps (whom I hold responsible for everything from my undying love of Glen Campbell, to my unnatural aversion toward women who knit) ... or maybe my father, (whose parental love often expresses itself through pedantic assessments of my hair, weight, and skin quality) ... or maybe it's just growing up in affluent Westport, Connecticut, with the beautiful people (or at least some of the beautiful people, because a lot of the residents here look like Lord of the Rings characters) ...

Whatever the reason, the fact is that I am, as a rule, quite concerned with my appearance. (And you well may ask, if I care so much about how I look, then why don't I bathe more often, or wash my socks? Well, that's none of your business, and if my wife put you up to asking that, I'm going to ask you right now to withdraw your membership at this site and go back to studying Internet pornography with your pants down.) And, see, now you made me lose my place ... AGAIN!

But, ah, yes, The Point: Simply, the reason I'm bringing this up is a new, growing concern I have about my eyebrows, which have drastically changed over the last few years. You see, once upon a time I prided these soft -- dare I say caterpillar-like -- eyebrows, solely composed of supple, down-like hairs, all flowing effortlessly across their assigned spots, like the swaying wheat stalks of a Kansas afternoon, set upon by the fragrant prairie winds of Willa Cather summer. (I mean, can you tell how much I liked these eyebrows?!) But over the past several years, much to my shock and dismay, I've watched those innocent childhood hairs shed away like the failing fibers on some hostile vagrant's decaying lapel. And, instead, over the past few months especially, I've seen a sinister new crop of these awful, harsh, thick, ugly, black hairs grow in threatening strides across my very forehead, like ... I don't know what! (And I'm a writer, so imagine how hard it is for me to duck out on a potential metaphor!)

I'm not sure where this will end, but I'm very disturbed to see how these new hairs have started turning up a bit at the end, too, giving me a sort of leprechaun appearance, like Samuel Beckett or that horrendous clown in that old French movie. Needless to say, I've plucked several, despite the excruciating pain (and my philosophical disapproval, as you regular Blah-ugh! readers know, of anyone altering their eyebrows through butchery or chicanery). A few others I've even had to trim, and that was no small task, given I had to use a toenail clipper to do it.

I'm not sure where I was going with this, but I think it's important we all understand that looks are everything (as my mother often emphasized), and if you're like me, and have gotten by -- to this high station in life -- by your remarkable looks alone, it's only imaginable to see what a disillusioning disappointment it can be to suddenly find your fine features, face and finery put into such precarious jeopardy through the insidious vine-like growth of some very unstable eyebrow hairs ...

And I never thought it could happen to me ... And it did! Be warned!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Seasons of Der Alchemist

April 1, 2011: Guten tag! Vie geht es einen? ... No. No, there's nothing wrong with your computer. I'm merely welcoming you to my ephemeral (meaning Cybernetting) Blah-ugh! world in my native German (or Deutsch, as it was once known, until someone finally realized how close that was to the word "douche").

It's been a challenging day for me -- and yet isn't it always, with my myriad responsibilities, the absence of any real respect or authentic admiration, and this terrible itch I have on the bottom of my foot. (I think it means that guests are coming, but I'll still refuse to put my shoes on!)

Inspired by the cool, rainy weather, I've taken the liberty of constructing a fire (and my family was pleased to see that I did it in the fireplace this time). Fire is a fascinating thing -- much more vibrant than water, and not as showy or consumed with itself. (Water just thinks it's such a much!) I like fires in the winter, and even though it's spring, the fireplace doesn't know that, and so continues to burn without argument.

You might be interested to hear about a recent discovery of mine, which I guess is alchemy related (although it might merely be based on foolishness, which is a more modern version of alchemy, if you think about it). As I'm so enamored with fires, I came to the conclusion that they must be serving some kind of psychic purpose for me, and that spending time in front of the fire in winter months soothes my soul and heals my heart, (as well as drying out my skin).

This, in turn, led me to connect the importance of spending time in the water during summer months for quite the same reasons. Nothing centers my twisted soul in late July like a late afternoon dip in greenish-brown Long Island Sound, and while I still find it hard to actually swim more than 20 feet without taking on water, I can manage to at least paddle frantically in place for extended periods, and this basically gets the job done.

In my disturbingly inquisitive way, I then speculated on what alchemistic element the autumn demanded, and of course I now understand it's earth. Fall is the time when all good men (and even the ornery ones) must find a suitable solace in the tree-laden sanctuaries most replete with sour, smelly soil. The autumn is the time of earth, and I'm not just saying that so I can sound like Pocahontas.

And spring, it turns out, is when a young man's fancy must be put on hold in order for that individual to seek open vistas of big sky. Spring is a time of spiritual expansion -- (Oh brother, now I sound like a line from the junk mail catalogue that Whole Foods keeps sending us!) -- a time when we best find the great teachings of the sky, and learn those sky lessons, and all the sky facts, and study the sky syllabus (or the syllabi ... or the skylabi ... Can you tell how tired I am?!)

Anyway, a better understanding of basic seasonal alchemy, I feel, will help even the stupidest man (and sexiest woman) experience the joys and subtle intricacies of life in these gas-bag times in which we live. And if it doesn't do that, one can at least get in some swimming ... or have fire now and again.

That reminds me -- it's time to poke it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Five Things No One Cares About

March 29, 2011: I was toying with the idea of putting this Blah-ugh! on hiatus, given my utter revulsion with having to update it so frequently. But then I thought of all the people I'd be disappointing -- all the working stiffs and sad singles and miserable married and restless young and smelly old ... I just couldn't bring myself to let any of you down. I just hope you're all satisfied now that you've ruined yet another evening I could have better spent eating hazelnut gelato and watching adult films.

And what to talk about? I keep thinking about Mel Brooks for some reason, but that's not a topic. (I had the opportunity to meet him once in L.A. at a Hanukkah celebration, of all things, at a synagogue; I found it a unique thrill to hear him scream out "dreidel" when the rabbi was trying to goad the many kids in the room to answer the question.)

I'm also ruminating rather anxiously on the sad state of technological affairs, wherein people drive down the road typing messages in their phones, leave their lanes and accelerate in irritating fits and starts, and demented parents play DVDs in the backs of their minivans to keep their kids medicated and still, and half the people I know can't be present for a conversation without keeping one eye on their portable email device while they're feigning attention, and on and on ...

But besides myself (and possibly the one known only as Mordant Glee) no one even cares. No one sees how demented it all is, how we're robbing a whole new generation of creative thought and silence, and slowly steaming the brains of this generation, which no longer values silence or solitude, but just constantly craves distraction through a thousand forms of trivia. Like drug addicts, they're scared to sit still and feel a feeling. It's depressing and pathetic, but mostly maddening because nobody seems to see how wrong it is ... And so I won't talk about that.

Instead, I'll mention I finally watched the new Wall Street movie, and it was pretty good, and Michael Douglas didn't look at all as bad as I thought he would (which I feared would be kind of like an Aztec mummy, and instead he just looked like this mummy they had on a Twilight Zone episode, which wasn't quite as shocking). As I said, it was a pretty good movie, though I couldn't understand most of what they were talking about -- all this weird business/money-speak, which is as foreign to me as an automobile engine. But I recognized the romance and excitement, in part because the music cued me to do so.

And speaking of the Twilight Zone, I was ecstatic to find my local library recently purchased the entire catalogue, and with shameless relish, I've begun introducing my children to the most brilliant episodes, starting with "The Masks" and "Five Characters in Search of an Exit." Rod Serling was a rare genius, not unlike Charles Dickens or myself.

Now why is this different, you ask, then the parent who stifles their brats in the backseat with automotive video, my forcing my poor dumb children to ingest great quantities of vintage sci-fi brilliance? Well ... it just is, so leave me alone.

Which reminds me, I hear the kids watching the Brady Bunch downstairs -- the one where Jim Bachus buys the Bradys a pool table -- so I've got to run ...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jarret's Frank Film Forum (FFF) -- A General Review

March 22, 2011: So many movies -- so little time!

If you're like me, you want to do whatever you can to keep at bay the maddening voices that pollute your head, and quell the tumultuous mix of turbulent emotions that constantly bombard your spirit and tea-stained psyche. Toward this end, nothing gets the job done (short of heroin and pornography) like the always-captivating enticement of the big blue screen.

(NOTE: In my case it's a relatively little screen, but it is blue, which is the important thing. It's also mesmerizingly heavy, consisting of ancient tubes and, I suspect, giant hunks of metal that simply weigh it down in the event of great windstorms.)

Anyway, since my youngest days, I've found great solace and security in the hypnotic intoxication of television and all its holy offerings. And while we don't currently even have cable owing to my humiliating inability to earn a decent income, thanks to our expansive DVD collection -- (and our wonderful local library's considerable catalogue) -- I still manage to secure ongoing comfort, constructive therapy and the emotional medication I so sorely need on a daily basis.

That said, I wanted to share some of my more profitable viewing experiences of late, starting with a very satisfying vampire movie called "Blade." Yes, this is the one with the great Wesley Snipes as the Daywalker, abetted by the great Kris Kristofferson as the cigarette-smoking, tattooed stereotype he so aptly embodies. What a marvelous array of effects and action this classic offers, including several scenes where Snipes grins maniacally at the oddest of moments, promising more strange turns and dashing images of vampiric execution. All told, I highly recommend this 1998 classic, which features a standout performance by Stephen Dorff (what an awful name ... almost as bad as co-star "N'Bushe" Wright!) as a very nasty vampire, and a weird performance by Udo Kier, whom I suspect may actually be a real vampire after all.

Another keg of fulfillment has been found in the first two "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, which I'd never seen before now, but have proven to be very joyous romps all told. Johnny Depp, of course, is generally grand, and while his wonderful Captain Jack Sparrow is much more Hunter Thompson than Keith Richards (as he claimed), how can one possibly tire of Depp's Thompson, and so I'm simply looking forward to the next two installments in the series to see more of it. Orlando Bloom is all chin, but that may be why we like Depp all the more and keep rooting for Bloom to be skewered in each sword fighting scene. And Keira Knightley ... is ... soooo .... f***ing ... gorgeous!

Finally, I've just been re-watching a slick David Mamet flick called "Spartan." (The nice thing about having brain damage is you can watch movies once and then forget everything about them a couple of years later.) It's quite a solid suspense/action film, and while I like to think I would have done a better job playing Jim Morrison in "The Doors" movie, Val Kilmer was acceptable there and really does a very fine job with this role. Mamet is a pretty solid film maker and writer -- and I don't praise many, actually -- despite what I hear are some strange personal behaviors. (He actually wrote a solid book on acting, as well, which I found enlightening; yay Mamet, you old legend you!)

So that's all I've got tonight, except now I can't stop thinking about Keira and her chin. I'm going to finish this "Spartan" movie and hope it carries me comfortably toward my bedtime with a minimal of distractions -- thoughts, feelings, ideas, imposing images of the future, the past, the present ... Y'know!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How Green Is My Toilet

March 17, 2011: Aloha and begorah to all you Irish folk; may all your vomit be green vomit.

Remembering that I've adequately bashed this and other revered iconic March moments in past Blah-ugh! entries, I thought tonight I'd (once again) focus on something much nearer and dearer to my heart -- the sanctity of toilets. Toward that end -- (and I must have used that silly double-entendre before!) -- I thought I'd present you with a most poetic moment that I experienced just tonight.

You see, I was feeling somewhat despondent earlier owing to several factors -- among them, humanity's failure to recognize my greatness, my Blah-ugh! readers' failure to recognize my greatness, my failure (thus far) to find a literary agent, my Blah-ugh! readers' failure to help me find a literary agent ... All in all it was a frustrating night, in which I was focused on humanity's numerous shortcomings, as well as the one or two that I can claim. Most of all, I couldn't shake that too-often recurring sense of my not being understood, of my not being accepted as I am, and not being loved simply because I'm (after all) so infectiously lovable.

So it was that I found myself in the downstairs toilet of my local library; not for any particular reason, except I had to urinate, and what better place for a literary man like myself to do so. And as I approached the urinal, I was overcome with that singular inspiration one only finds in Muse-addled moments of bathroom clarity, and the first lines of an inspired poem formed effortlessly in my pee-focused mind ... I took out my pen and wrote:

"Hello Toilet.
You still accept me, despite my shortcomings.
I can always come to you
Open and honest
And share
My innermost secrets"

Yes, once again, the answers were presenting themselves in porcelain, and all I had to do was show up. All at once my angst and frustration were softened by the satisfaction of being understood, as well as the elation of creative birthing. (I knew I was on to something big, and envisioned the veritable epic I would write as both tribute and analysis of the role the toilet has played in my life.)

Then suddenly this guy came in and hurried into the adjacent stall. This, in itself, wouldn't have bothered me, but he began talking over the wall. "Do you use the toilet on the second floor that often?" he said. And believe me, I froze, because I'm not one to talk to strangers in a toilet, let alone close friends. For a minute, I thought I must have imagined it, or perhaps he'd brought a phone with him or ... something. Let me tell you, it was very disconcerting.

"Somebody tore the toilet paper dispenser right off the wall," he said, louder now. "Brand new it was!" Again, I didn't respond, but raced to wash my hands and flee before he came out and identified me. (I was probably in my car before he even had a chance to flush.)

Looking back, after I jotted down his dialogue to get it verbatim, it seemed a kind of interesting coincidence that this weirdo would intrude on my toilet solace to express his own (dare I say) loving insights and experiences relating to the sacrosanct library toilets. And who was I, but a self-centered urinator bent on using the toilet to meet my own needs and not open to sharing the communal nature of this particular pee parlor.

Anyway, it gave me pause, if not humility. Tonight I was able to recognize our shared humanity, replete with the fallibility, need to be accepted, and -- when all is said and done -- deep, deep affection for, and gratitude toward, the many toilets in our lives.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Being Hip To Time

March 14, 2011: I'm a bit confused why no one told me they were spinning the clocks forward today -- not angry, just confused. Had I been in possession of that information, I like to think I would have warned the people around me -- close friends and family at least -- that life as we know it was about to change, and they had damn well better get prepared.

Of course, none of this helps me now. It's 1:15 in the morning and I'm wide awake. I've got no one to thank but myself for taking that two-hour nap this afternoon, but had I known I'd slept in to 10:30 and not 9:30, as my clock had claimed, I might not have devoted additional hours to finding my bliss (or at least more of my bliss) in dreamland.

Still, if anyone's equipped to handle the precarious, hallucinogen-like experience of a lonely sleepless night, it's me. I have a long history with late nights, and not because I've led some sort of romantic life of early-hour parties and spell-binding sunrises. Ever since an early age I was drawn to staying up late. I remember always wondering what it was like later and later into the night -- what it felt like and what went on in those mysterious small hours that one was strictly forbidden to visit. I think I was seven when I somehow ended up awake until 3:15 on a weird night of television and childish antics. By junior high I'd done my first all-nighter, and had found it uniquely invigorating for some stupid reason I still can't explain. In high school, I developed this strange compulsion of staying up all night on a regular basis and cleaning my room. I led such a disorganized life, it seemed that every couple of months I needed to stay up all night and reassemble everything (as if it really ever helped!). This, in turn, led to some confusing beliefs that I may have been meant to live by the moon cycle, which still kind of makes sense to me because the moon rises about 50 minutes later each night, and so one logically sleeps in another 50 minutes each morning until they work their way around the clock in 29 days ...

Which leads me to comment on the churlish construct of our whole narrow-minded conformist world, which requires (or seems to require) that we keep our timetable in strict alignment with Washington and the World Bank and all the other Right Wing institutions. (That's why they even have Daylight Savings Time; it's merely a method of testing our obedience to the arbitrary whims of the Power Elite (or P.E., as they're known).

It's unnatural is what it is, and when I finally realize some significant income from my book, cartoons and clown paintings, I'll start living right, smash my alarm clock (or my wife's alarm clock, since mine isn't even plugged in) and get back to the natural cycles as the Universe (or at least the moon) intended them.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to have killed a good 25 minutes on this entry -- now being that much closer to sleep, as well as my death. Ironically, the experience vividly reminds me of that great Peter Fonda line, as heard in that sketchily constructed classic movie "Easy Rider" -- "I'm hip to time."

Remember, all you readeres who thought you could escape that gruesome image and idea -- Naked Peter Fondas! We're all just Naked Peter Fondas trying to stay on schedule ...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

27 (Or So) Things About Me That May Surprise You

March 10, 2011: I recently came across what I assume was a stupid regular column in some magazine. (The column was, in fact, stupid, but it's only my assumption that it was a regular column.) The title was something like "27 Things About Me That May Surprise You," and it was written by Martha Stewart, about whom I knew next to nothing, despite having cut her lawn one summer. I can say I still don't know much about her, and even that's enough (although I found it somewhat interesting that she likes to bring her own lemons on planes).

Anyway, I thought it might of some value -- to me, of course, and not you -- to share some of the lesser known facts about myself -- so I present: "27 (if I can think of that many) Things About Me That May Surprise (or even Shock!) You" (although in actuality there's a good chance they may not even interest you).

--For starters, did you have any ideas how much I hate when men wear loafers without socks. I think I reference it in both of my novels. I really just find it incredibly irritating and I'm convinced that we, as a society, will never really start unraveling all the problems that face mankind until people stop doing that.

--I can't ever remember how to count in Spanish. Not that I ever took Spanish, but you'd think after all this time living in America -- and being able to count in Russian, German and French -- I'd have it down. Yet whenever I'm faced with the challenge, it always baffles me.

--As well as being convinced that both the two Kennedy assasinations and 9/11 were government conspiracies, I don't believe the moon landing ever took place. Saying that outright sounds somewhat funny in itself, but the evidence is ridiculously clear and I'm baffled that more people don't see it. (Our government is also responsible for both Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus, by the way, but that's a whole other story.)

--At age three I fell in Paul Newman's pool. (That's another whole other story.)

--While I originally wanted to be a professional baseball player, by fourth grade I wanted to be an actor, and then by junior high I thought seriously of being a writer ... Interestingly, at age 21 I gave some serious thought to trying to play minor league ball. Also interestingly, I'm still thinking seriously about being a writer ...

--My official favorite food is eggplant parmegian (but I can never spell it), and my favorite dessert is cold pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

--I don't drink, although I still have a fondness for sex and gambling.

--I don't technically have a middle name, although I have two first names, the second of which I almost never share with anyone. (My wife thinks it's Bernard, but it's not!)

--I had my first grey hair in sixth grade. (I remember Andy Cameron lovingly plucking it out at recess; he recently died and now I'm feeling guilty.)

--I literally enjoy the company of my two children more than anyone else in the world. They accept me just as I am, (not like you people).

--I've spent time in every continental U.S. state except North Dakota. Despite the urging of one friend, I'm not dying to go ...

--Though I've never received a journalism award, both Walter Cronkite and Nat Hentoff have shared with me their individual admiration for something I'd written.

--I struggle with tea constantly staining my teeth. I've never worn braces, but pride very straight choppers, which have literally been admired by strange orthodontists who've crossed my path.

--I once found a dead body.

--I can play banjo, along with guitar, piano, drums and xylophone. (I bought my banjo in a pawn shop in Spokane, Washington, which is actually known as the Lilac City (as least out there).)

--One of my great regrets in life is that I wasn't born in England. I love the weather there, as well as the accents and fish. I'm hoping someday someone will invite me to come and live in London ... or Manchester (ahem!)

--I hate computers, and find the Internet a colossal time-waster. Despite the handiness of having an online Blah-ugh! I'd much prefer a newspaper column, or a hard-copy newsletter ... or perhaps a TV show!

--I still like to collect comicbooks, and while I stupidly sold my once-vast collection years ago, I continue to pick them up here and there. (I've always loved collecting things and have, at one time or another, collected coins, stamps, beer cans, bottle tops, baseball cards, books and rocks.)

--I'm long-winded. Despite my considerable skills as an attentive listener, I love nothing better than to talk. (My wife, who used to listen to me, will concur.) A large part of why I write is because I just can't shut up.

--I greatly prefer rainy days, and will often go for long walks. I find my meditative bliss on walks, but prefer quiet suburban streets to isolated wilderness.

--I used to love dogs, but now they mostly annoy me. Our cat annoys me too, especially at night, but I don't drown her in the bathtub because it would hurt the kids. (Perhaps when they're older and would understand.)

--I like to stay up late and sleep late into the day. I often do my best writing late at night, and sometimes I just write crappy Blah-ugh! posts about eggplant, England and strangling cats.

Next time I'll tell you more about Martha Stewart and her lawn!