October 29, 2010


TV used to be cool. Cigarettes and all.

This is what you could find on the tube late sometimes. 1964. No more, I'm afraid.

October 28, 2010

Holding Head

Think of this as a sticky note and put it on the fridge for yourself.

If at any time you are ever published and they come at you for a head shot always remember; unless you are Victor Stinkin' Hugo do not under any circumstances get caught holding head.

Even if you are a cool, edgy writer with tattoos who lives in Havana, don't do it. It's an old trick and, really, doesn't have a point any more.

I suppose the significance behind the pose is to show that the Great Writer has so much shit going on in that head of his that he needs a hand and attached arm to prop it up during the normal course of the day. And if you are especially poignant and significant, or just think you are, you may even need two hands. God knoweth how a person is supposed to type in that case, but maybe there's a tripod specially built for writer head. Who knows?

This is a public service message from old Uncle RW. You may send dollars.

From time to time in my blog travels I do see folks who lament (because just about every blogwriter has the same mantra) that "one day I'll sit down and write that book." And there's plenty who can certainly do it and that really ought to get off the wish list and just get going already, yeah?

But seriously? You have to get to the point where you can't imagine a week spent where you aren't working on it, and can't remember what it was like not to be working it.

Or else you just aren't. And then I suppose you can sit there holding head as long as you'd like.

October 26, 2010

I'm Actually At Work Killing Time

  • Since transferring my stuff to the unpublished, "edit post" section of Blogger I've been able to use every spare minute I have to work on the project. Which means it's in yet another incarnation. Oh well. The main thing now is the ORDER in which things happen to the protagonist. Plus the ending has changed seven times and is currently up in the air. Like I said, that's just how I roll. My wife says I love the process more than the product. And she's absolutely right. If I never published another word, nothing would change. At all.
    EDIT I just have to be careful never to hit "publish" on those windows or else everybody would be scratching their heads going, "why is RW walking around late at night? He met what where??"

  • When I lived in D.C. I knew a guy who was completely convinced that he was Edgar Allen Poe in a past life. Nothing, but nothing, could dissuade him from this belief. And he was a dour, depressed, sad, barely communicative little fellow who had the same kind of 1840-ish haircut his other self is photographed with. Kind of like 19th century wing or whatever it's called. The lasting image I have of the guy is his sitting on a staircase with his head in his hands for hours. I asked his girlfriend what's the matter with him, and she shrugged and said "He was Edgar Allen Poe in a past life." Like, "Oh it's Tuesday." That was in the 70s. You wonder what he's doing now. If he didn't blow his brains out by now.

  • I just did finish reading the biography of Edgar Poe and what a whining, manipulative hypochondriac he was. Always begging to borrow money, trying to set up the next wife while the other one is dying. Manic depressive to be sure. There really wasn't anything dark or mysterious about him except for when he binged-drank he disappeared. Big whoop. I love some of his stuff. Some. But there's no deep mystery going on with the guy. He was just an untreated nutjob.

  • On a somewhat related side note (speaking of nutjob). People's upsetness would probably be more effective if they let other people know what the hell they were upset about. The chances are pretty good that if someone doesn't know what they did to piss off somebody else it wasn't intentional. Folks that just walk away and I never know why and can't remember what I may have done were probably looking for an excuse to get whanked, did something they are embarrassed about, and can basically kiss my ass.

  • Back to past lives. I know there's plenty of folks who believe in them. I don't, but who is to say? So I don't ever argue against it even though my instinct tells me... "meh." Who knows, though, really? I just hitch a little when it's always somebody famous. Why are there no drunken shit-heads and if you're a spirit and not a body how come the past life is always the same sex you are now? I mean, not everybody thinks this way and I'm not ripping it at all. I mean the way the universe works I could easily see people who are white bigots now having been black slaves a couple of lifetimes ago, and guys in the Nation of Islam being their owners. That would be pretty funny.

  • What's funny? When I do posts with multiple topics it's always interesting to see which of the folks making comments pick up on which of the topics. Sometimes the thing I think is the main push behind the varied subjects is not what others think it is. But as I'm writing for faithfuls Sybil and Earl pretty much anymore, you could expect that kind of thing, I'd say. (insert smiley)

  • Gotten some communication that it's sometimes hard to comment here. I don't know why. You can't block specific people and I have it set to "anybody", so it ain't me. I have no idea what the Farco Barnes is up with that.
  • October 25, 2010

    The Girl and the Pookie

    I wanted to publish some pictures of our visit to the Girl and the Goat but for one thing I kept eating all the stuff they brought out before I remembered to take the pictures and in the second thing my camera was a bit under-charged and most of everything was blurry. Plus all the pictures of me sadly displayed my pronounced gut. Of which I think we'll have to go back to addressing pretty soon around here.

    Let me say that I enjoyed myself immensely. Every last thing that came out was great, except maybe the liver spread for the fat bread. But if you're a liver-lover you'd like it. But that's it. The chickpea fritters, the baked cauliflower and the steak strips with house pickles and beets were out of this world. We also enjoyed the cocoa nib donuts with pomegranate seeds we had for dessert - and they even brought that out with a candle for me. Thankfully though, no hand clapping Happy Birthday chain restaurant bullcrap.

    I did see Stephanie Izard there but, you know what, I didn't try to grab a picture of her or try to snake into a picture with her either - though people were doing that.

    I've seen some "celebrities" in person in public and one, Carlton Fisk, was basically him and me in an airport and he would have had no problem with it. But I just didn't. I didn't take any pictures with Bill Veeck - who I easily could have because we were sitting at Murphy's having a couple of beers at a booth. That was different anyway; we started a conversation in the bleachers and just moved it on, by his invite, to Murphy's. So that didn't count for "bugging a celeb."

    I never grabbed a picture with any "celeb" I saw in person. Ever. I don't know. It feels too intrusive. I think a lot of times they're, you know, just people and they can't always be "on." I give them their space. In Stephanie's case, she was working up and down the kitchen. OK, standing outside the kitchen but moving up and down the open window to all the stations.

    And people came up and they were all "oh hai we love you amen" and she smiled nicely and accepted people putting arms around her and all but I just said - you know what, she's busy and that just looks incredibly uncool. And I would rather die than appear to be uncool. But, more to the point, I just think it's kind of rude in a way. So anyway I don't do it.

    Oh. That's a picture of Soupy Sales and Pookie up there. I don't know why I put it there. I never met Soupy Sales or Pookie. I just thought about that early 60's kid show this morning. No idea why. When the weather starts to turn my mind just gets all nostalgic or something. I don't know. And then things I hadn't thought of in 15 years just pops up. Weird.

    I did put some pictures of the restaurant up on Facebook, but they're blurry, and none are of me and my gut. But I am going back as soon as I can. MrsRW is not a big fan of gastro-pubs and did the best she could to look like she was having fun. So I'm taking my two daughters next, who will explode over it I'm sure.

    You just wish you were one of my daughters, that's all I'm saying. Well... no you probably don't. Because they couldn't get away with anything when they lived here because whatever they did I probably did worse at some point and you couldn't fool me. I was good at checking eyeballs without looking like I was.

    Okay that's enough for now. If you are a vegetarian the Girl and the Goat has Top Chef-style dishes just especially for you. Plus fish of all kinds for that kind of taste. If ever in Chicago - you simply have to. That is all.

    EDIT TO ADD I meant to say, with wine and I think we ordered six plates plus dessert we got out of there for much less than we've spent at other "high profile" places. It's not inexpensive, but when you compare it to the older, established places in this town - which is decidedly a restaurant town to be sure - it's more than reasonable. OH... and the coffee, per my coffee-drinking expert wife, was the one thing that was totally out of this world.

    October 23, 2010

    The Hot Air In Those Tea Cups

    The proposed discretionary spending part of the national budget (over 1 trillion dollars agreed upon by the President and the Congress together) for 2011 can be broken down this way (data)

    NASA, Energy, Labor, Treasury, Interior, EPA, Commerce - 1% Each

    Justice, Agriculture - 2% Each

    Homeland Security, Housing & Urban Development - 3% Each

    State, Education, "Other" (mostly pork) - 4% Each

    Health and Human Services, Transportation - 6% Each

    Defense - 59%

    1. Deficit spending has been occurring every year since 2002 after some years of surplus,
    2. According to OMB this 2011 discretionary budget reduces NON-MILITARY spending by $520 billions (a billion is like a real lot).
    3. The Economic Stimulus Package is now moved to mandatory spending, but is still slightly lower than the total spent on the discretionary dollars for the Department of Transportation.
    4. Note that Defense spending is SEPARATE from Homeland Security, which in itself is three times larger than NASA.

    A. The "Bank Bailout" was proposed under the Bush administration and worked very well to put the stops on a full bore depression, but the Tea Party uses this program as proof that "President Obama is a socialist."

    B. The Tea Party continually points to welfare and social programs as the reason the budget is overblown, but never takes into account the $1.98 million spent EVERY MINUTE by our military and attendant programs (includes veterans and nuclear weapons maintenance).

    Notwithstanding the "mandatory" spending approved by both parties, or that few specific cuts are actually being proposed by the GOP concretely in any published program or campaign literature; why not cut all discretionary spending for four years, keep the tax structure exactly as it is, frozen, for the same time period, and see where we are on the $13 TRILLION deficit both parties have contributed to since 2002 and act accordingly?

    Of course that is impossible and will never happen. But what remains interesting is the size of the nose ring in the faces of the lawn chair and snake flag set.

    Damn lies and statistics. Have a nice election.

    October 22, 2010

    More From That Odd Little Collection

    Well let's see. I've turned you on to Henry Darger, the janitor from Chicago. And there's always been the ghost of B. Traven in just about every blog I've done.

    I'll let you find out about Chicago's own Wesley Willis (known as part of the savant-garde) on your own, if you've never heard of him. A lot of his lyrics are pretty NSFW and his post-punk punk rave schizophrenic music and art / cityscapes lifestyle rant madness is really something you should experience probably at night. Later.

    Since we're coming up to the Halloween season - which means I will be inserting Nosferatu in the machine for when the kiddies stop by - I thought about Max Schreck, the guy who played Count Orlok in that movie.

    What's strange about this guy is that so very little is actually known. Outside of his small body of work and his marriage to Fannie (another silent film "star") there is a huge blank space where a biography should be.

    There aren't any written because nobody knows enough about him to put in a book. And that gets my bells and whistles... er... belling and whistling... the minute I see it.

    (Enlarge the picture. Go ahead.)

    And, of course, since there is all this blank space, what it gets filled with is dubious. People say that during any filming no one would ever see him unless he was in full make-up. He had a "strange and obscure" sense of humor. He even "took long walks in dark forests for recreation." And so forth. Who knows?

    It has been remarked by contemporaries that he had a special talent for getting across the plight and condition of people who were "different." You could expect perhaps someone like that having had bad experiences growing up and then transferring that understanding to his acting. But nobody knows because nothing is known of his childhood or his young home life. At all. There is still a theory that there was no such person as Max Schreck (the name means "fright" in German). That it was the concoction of one or more people who perpetrated a hoax on the movie going public of the era. That's been shown to be a stretch, but you know how things sort of linger.

    What Schreck does in Nosferatu is command attention. I love the movie - and I consider myself a minor silent film buff - but it is typical silent-movie turgid and absolutely bland EXCEPT when Schrek is on screen. It's like two different movies.

    To say he "inhabits" the role of the vampire doesn't even come close to being "it". The plain fact is that, when he's on screen, there is no disbelief to suspend. It's just real. That's all I can say. And that scene where Harker accidentally cuts his finger with a knife at dinner while sitting next to the Count and starts to bleed a little....... yeeeeech is that ever creepy. And I'm a cynical 50ish old crud.

    There's a marked difference between eras in horror films. Pretty much because we can, there's always got to be the ugly, brutal, blood-curdling reveal somewhere along the way. And that's the genre. But we should also pay homage to the suggested presence of horror as having a special power all it's own. Though that suggestion always happens in the horror genre, I'm talking about where the awesome "reveal" doesn't happen. Where the continued suggestion of dread is the horror. And then it lingers. I think those kind of atmospheric yarns are more in my league. And Schreck was perfect for it. Whoever he really was.

    Mwa ha ha...

    October 21, 2010

    Enlargement Pills

    Yeah okay cheap way to get attention. Sorry. But I mean, honestly, if millions of guys think a pill is going to make their "main weapon" larger, is it any wonder we have the kind of politics we have? People believe ANYthing if you say it enough times. And I mean ANYbody. And what would be the "minor weapon" anyway, btw???

    OK this is my zen moment...

    I have to stop singing at the top of my voice when I have my iPod going and I'm making myself dinner with the windows open. I also have to stop yelling angrily at people who aren't there. Breathe.


    I'll eventually get paid. I'll eventually get paid. I'll eventually get paid.


    Yesterday because I'm a little ticked off at my boss I called him on his cell phone at 5 in the morning and woke him up to tell him I won't be in. It's not as drastic as it sounds because he has to know if I won't be there to open up the shop. But I did enjoy waking him up. And I will eventually get a paycheck this month. I keep saying.

    (I just wrote down and deleted exactly what is going on. Zen. Zen. Zen.)

    I spent the morning yesterday burning toaster waffles, snoozing off and on in front of the Science Channel, and rewriting the first 4000 words of the book with no name (even though it has one). Probably the concluding 30,000 words get changed too now. Then it was lunch time. So I had a sandwich and dozed off for another siesta. Then I got up and did another 1000 words. Now I'm all, yeah, the concluding 29,000 need to be fixed and realigned. So we're doing another rewrite. Nothing major, just changing the whole direction of the entire story.


    Don't worry. This is how I roll.


    I spent the major part of the late afternoon sending out my resumé to a handful of places who won't call me back. I've seen this act before. By the way, if you're looking, Homeland Security is always hiring. You see me as a border guard type?

    "Yeah come on in, somebody around here needs to be willing to work for a living..."

    Probably not huh?


    MrsRW comes back tomorrow after being gone for two weeks. Okay I can stop talking out loud to myself now (scrawls mental note).


    Saturday we're going to Top Chef season 4 winner Stephanie Izard's new restaurant in the city. We had to make reservations a month and a half ago. MrsRW probably won't like it because it looks a bit nontraditional, but they encourage picture taking and food porn and on a good day Stephanie will visit for a picture. It's upscale but is very informal.

    You can see for yourself.

    I won't be a good judge because I'm totally smitten, but you can expect a report back next week.


    Enlargement pills. Give me a break.

    October 19, 2010


    I need to take better care of my relationships. Not meaning my wife or daughters because I'm solid there I think - but everybody else from the family starting out from that and also friends.

    I have a lot of revolving door phenomenon in my life with people and I do know why it is. I mean it isn't a mystery. A small percentage is just sometimes I can't see that somebody is a sociopath. Everybody has that to a degree. But I'm talking about the larger percentage of walk-aways being folks who willfully walk away and truly don't give a shit any more.

    And the reason for that is that I'm not really what you'd call an overly friendly guy. I mean I'll give money for somebody's operation or funeral or shit like that, and I can sit around talking about old times and all that. I'll go to your birthday and your wedding and your anniversary. I'll show up for game night if you're having a thing and I'll even organize these things myself sometimes.

    But if your marriage is falling apart or you're having a mental breakdown or you really need somebody to talk to about your problems I'm probably not your contact. Just so you know.

    It isn't that I'm a meanie or I can't help you and console you and maybe even take a walk with you so you can blab... I mean vent... it out of your system. I can do that, and have. I can be that guy. It's just there's a limit to how much of your angst I can deal with. I have like this tube that can only accept so much blue stuff and then the system shuts down and I revert to the Cher - In - That - Movie - Approach - To - Mental - Health. A good slap across the face while shouting "snap out of it" into your eyes.

    I can only take so much of your problem before I lose interest and want to be somewhere else. And it's really hard for me to hide my squirming. That isn't good. I know it. It's rude and maybe it is a little cruel. I know.

    This stems, I just know it, from my own inability to confide in someone else about things that have been, were, or are on top of me at any given moment. I mean this is even a thing my wife has told me about - everything is in my head and it never comes out. I just try to work it out and even if I make a stupid resolution to it I don't bounce it off anybody. I just do it. Not healthy.

    In the past, even surrounded by peers and people who meant well, I always kept my story to a minimum. I always felt that, when I did confide or vent or worry out loud to someone, that there was a point at which I was really boring the shit out of them and I felt I was unfairly wasting their time. So I'd just shut up and deal with it. Until, by now, shutting up and dealing with it is S.O.P. in these parts.

    The other thing is when people do or say or believe or act out something really stupid, there's a real good chance I'm going to just wave you on and that'll be it. I have a quick trigger on that. Like we'll be going along and then you tell a joke about black people that we all heard thirty years ago and think that's just the funniest thing you ever heard... you're gone. If you want to talk you can contact me but I'm not going out of my way to see how you're doing. I want to say I do recognize that this is a character flaw of mine and not yours, but I'm pretty good at forgetting people forever once they fall off the table. And that's not altogether very cool. In fact that's probably an aspect people leave my company over. My ability to throw you off the bus and not look back. Ever. Yeah in fact I know it is.

    So the point of all this is to say to any observer that this is the reason the cast of characters in my life may have a tendency to change more than most (if you're observing that), and why - as the last week and a half with my wife in NY have proven once again - I don't seem to put too high a value on human contact. And I'm going to try and work on that.


    October 18, 2010

    Time Out Of Mind

    Okay so here is that familiar place. I've been here before. I've finished the project and am ready to present it. I've gone through the lists of people I've made who handle this kind of material and am ready to address them. There's not many more touches I can think of right now, though I know I will think of some later. I actually have a title. I am actually finished.

    And I don't like it.

    I woke up this morning convinced that somewhere in the middle it took a wrong turn. That I should have gone another way with it. Then as I got ready to go off to work I thought, "No, going the other way would be a cliche." I kept telling myself - and always tell myself - let it take you where it wants to go. Don't force it. Let the story dictate what happens. Roll with it. And I did. And I'm sitting here thinking "nothing actually happens in this story."

    Of course, I mean, yes obviously something happens. But is it interesting enough? Is it actually what I wanted to write? Is this what I write?

    I remember all the influences this time. Hone it down. Get rid of the fluff. Keep it basic. "If it looks like writing, change it." Let the characters talk like actual people talk. It's written in first person; will the people looking at it *get* the language or are they going to mistakenly say "this guy's grammar SUCKS!"

    Did I put too much of myself in here? Or not enough? I can't wait to stop thinking about it. I don't want to think about it any more. I want to start the next thing. I already have the opening (that will be changed seventeen times before I'm satisfied, just like THIS one).

    I look at the manuscript and all I see are the warts. But I could fix the warts from now until I'm dead.

    Forget it. Just send it. And move on to the next project.

    October 15, 2010


    Referencing the first story in the post immediately under, allow me to say that as of late this week 4chan has hereby delivered the requisite number of pizzas to the Petkov's humble cottage.

    Rock on...
    <---- CLICK IT!

    God Bless America

    Gah, my retinas!

    A small sampling of stories that caught my eye this week.

  • In the battle to show the world just how little class the US has left, a couple in - looks like Michigan - decided to target a little girl who is dying with a taunting parody. I especially like the ugly young blonde bitch on her porch front standing next to her fatass forklift drivin' man giving her articulate spin on the issue. Luckily for the sake of what the hell we must look like to other people in the world (which IS important whether you think so or not), the reaction against the taunts has been nothing short of fantastic, proving that there's still people with class around. So though this is unbelievable to start with, the good guys prevail. But, how does anybody figure they can do that? I don't understand. That's the real question.

  • And giving further proof that we've completely lost all sense of perspective and rational thought, a Republican candidate for something or other somewhere or other is being criticized for wearing a Nazi uniform. Problem is he wore it as part of a re-enactment scheme similar to hundreds and hundreds of historical displays run all over this country covering just about everything. But you can be sure that the appropriate outcry has been attempted to cast him as a "closet Nazi" and blah blah blah. Folks who have never been to or never done a re-enactment need to realize how it works. The re-enactor dresses up in the uniform of what he is re-enacting. They stand behind a "timeline" and are instructed to prepare an alter-ego, complete with name, birth date, and personal story. So that any time a visitor to the re-enactment comes up to the timeline rope and says to the person on the other side "who are you and what's your story?" - The re-enactor gives that information. It's called RE-ENFREAKIN'ACTMENT, numbnuts. If you ever go to one, walk up to one of the players beyond the "timeline" and ask them exactly that. To anyone there. You'll be pleasantly surprised. I suppose the guys who dress up as Confederate soldiers for their encampments and reenactments and fly the Confederate flag are next. Then we'll also have a problem with the guys who dress up as the British for the Revolutionary War reenactments, or the Spanish in the Spanish-American War ones. Honestly... have we completely lost what little sense we were born with? There was a problem with one of the British princes wearing a Nazi outfit for a Halloween party a few years back. People didn't like the swastika. But Jesus, it seemed to fit in with the monsters, ghouls and images of evil that usually go on in parties like that to me. But he was forced to apologize. What the bloody hell?

  • Because, I mean, if you're looking for real incidents of stupidity you don't have to manufacture them out of nothing like the Nazi uniform thing. You don't have to go any farther than South Carolina, where some defenders of justice and liberty just can't get enough of fighting for equality and civil rights. I suppose bacon is covered by the First Amendment. I do know that stupidity is already protected.

  • This one is a little more touchy because the folks with the complaint here are coming from an understandable place. You're talking about their slain mother/relative and that's not something you just walk over callously. However what strikes me as a little stilted is the idea that the film-makers in question here "had an obligation" to interview the survivors, and that the survivors are being "forced" to relive their bad experience. Well, if the story was about their mother/relative it probably would have been a good idea to talk to them. but the story is about a person once removed from the actual murder investigation who was on a different trajectory and actually doing something to overturn a wrongful prosecution. And, secondly, I hate to say it but nobody is forcing anybody to do anything, especially to "relive" the past, since the incident they're concerned with isn't even depicted outside of a mention as part of the set-up. But there's Gloria Allred, so that might be a tip off about what this is really about... a cut of the receipts.

  • Ladies and Gents, Laugh-In looks at the News. Have a nice weekend getting in each other's faces out there, America. God I love this country.

    October 14, 2010

    Statue Of Limitations

    They ought to erect a statue to the statute of limitations. Only not about high crimes and misdemeanors.* It should be about running time out on things that happened in the past. There's a great deal to be said for dropping all your emotional baggage off at the station, especially when bags fly free.**

    I'm specifically talking about how people act when there is a class reunion going on.*** I think it would be fun to categorize the behaviors you get to see when this kind of thing goes on.

    I think you could make a catalog of behavior on this. Okay so there's people who really did have a rough time in high school. Totally unpleasant, embarrassing, difficult, hurtful, yadda yadda. I know. I get it. In fact I had some of that myself - which is exactly why I think it's always good to let that shit go already, yeah?

    Nothing perplexes people who tormented you more effectively than showing up years later with your act together. All their work - dashed on the rocks. See what I mean? I was only tormented for a little while, but my act happens to be very together, thank you. It's so together I can sit and talk to people who - the last time I saw them they were being an asshole to me - like we're grownups and their shit didn't ever happen. THAT scares the snot out of people.

    And if you were the tormentor instead of the tormentee (and don't gimme that "I never did nothin' to nobody" crap) nothing upsets people's angry-residue-hard-on more than being kind and friendly to the ex-target. As in; "well, you know, yeah I was a douchebag, let me try to make that better." Throws their self-righteousness all over the cliff because - you know what? - nobody comes out of life smelling 100% clean.

    But I get a special kick out of the tortured artist types. They show up but they act like this is a chore. They have more important things to do, like that poem they've been meaning to write, and they're 50 years old but are kind of goth-looking and it turns out they sell plastic knobs or something. My problem is those kinds of people always seem to gravitate to ME for some reason. So I have to suspend my irony for a bit.

    There's people who are embarrassed by their job situation and how far they haven't progressed in life, and you'd really like to see then again but they won't show up because of all that. Which is sad. There's the folks who want you to know how well they've done and go out of their way to make that impression. And there's folks who have done really well but are still goofy and friendly and unaffected - except for maybe their wife who doesn't know anybody and is trying to act like a trophy. Then there's everybody else, who are just older versions of the people they were in school without a whole lot of fuss and fudges.****

    It's the mystery people that get to me, though. Nothing terrible ever happened to them but they're all hesitant and careful and sometimes openly non-communicative.***** That's fine for people who are just that way (I actually have no problem with that if that's how they always were anyway), but for the folks who manifested a complete turn-around on something like this - active, involved, you know friendly in school to have become this way; you want to see if anything is wrong or something. But those walls are pretty old and steep by now. It's not a big deal, it's just a mystery.

    I used to hold on to a lot of confusion and hurts and embarrassments I did to myself. I don't suppose I deserve to be forgiven for everything I did. But I think we should try it anyway. It may be all part of the genuine feeling of oblivion I feel about opinions directed this way, but there is freedom in leaving that baggage on the platform, so to speak.

    You'd be surprised how easy that can be, and how healthy.

    *If breaking some laws are a misdemeanor do they have any laws against misemotion? I knew her once.

    **Yes I feel pretty good this morning, what?

    ***Oh did I say I was on this committee... wait, yes I did.

    ****Invented that phrase just now.

    *****Is that actually possible??

    October 12, 2010

    Morning Coffee

    I always wake up a touch grumpy. I don't want to have to go to work, because sometimes work is just plain boring and I have a million other, better, things to do. I suppose I should be career-oriented, but since I've never been, how the heck am I supposed to start NOW?

    And then about five or ten minutes after I'm up, as I start getting ready for the day and doing all those morning things you have to do to make the body presentable and sociable and non-grumpy, I always (always) get this wave of positive energy flowing. Even before the coffee. Usually when I'm shaving or washing my face or putting on a shirt. It's a feeling where - hey, you know, I feel pretty good here. Life could be a whole lot worse, and even the daily stuff that has always made and still makes me cranky is really nothing when you put it all in perspective.

    For one thing I still have a job, and there's a lot of people in a lot more desperate positions than I'm in. That's for sure.

    I follow the same route to work and can probably drive it blindfolded. And three times out of five I stop at the same place for coffee. I don't know how it happens that all these people seem to know each other's names. Nobody knows my name, though I'm here all the time. I'm not exactly sure how that happens. But here's where I listen to the way people talk and how language is used by real people, and I am always subconsciously taking those kind of notes to put into the writing.

    I get back in the car with my coffee and have to hold it in one hand until I get over the bump and drive around the construction barricades, so I'm like a rodeo rider in my MINI - one hand on the wheel, the other holding my cup like my arm is a shock absorber so I don't spill coffee all over the magic carpet. And off I go. Sometimes I have NPR on and sometimes the progressive music station from Northwestern or the jazz station nobody seems to know about but me. Sometimes the oldies. Depends on how I feel.

    There needs to be a Motown station. You have no idea how cool it was to be a freshman and be one of maybe twelve people in an all white high school back in 1968 who was into Motown. You listen to those songs now and they're pretty dated. Still have a move to bust in there, but you know - they ARE more than 40 years old.

    And yet... I think having it in there somewhere is why I feel good every morning five minutes after waking up grumpy. With the reunion coming up for the graduating class, and it being such a time span now, you think about stuff like that.

    Ha. Thinking about the handful of us who weren't into the Monkees or the Archies (oh my ever loving GAWD) like the rest - we were pretty cool. Hard for you to pick up on, maybe. But it's part of the thing...

    Link to it.

    October 11, 2010

    Happy Columbus Day

  • The final draft will be in the area of 34,000 words. Small. Novella sized and therefore probably doomed. But I cut a farkton of fluff, so there I am. Officially described as "absurdist" - since people need to know the "genre" - it's really... I don't know what it is...it's short. Out of all that stuff you may/may not have read in bits and pieces, it ends up being about a guy who gives up everything in life in order to save one hundred thousand dollars in cash. He's just a slug who works in a warehouse and is doing this on a basic paycheck living in a crummy neighborhood. And just when he's about to add the final bit of savings to his stash he realizes he's dying. So he's got to come up with his next move in that context, even though he has nothing, knows no one and just sits around drinking all night long because he's connected to no one and nothing. It's called THINK FAST, and the last (of about 6,000) rewrite should be firmed up this month, with query letters going out this November. So, here we go again.

  • The crazy thing here is that I don't want to work on that anymore because I already have the germ for the next one. This phenomenon, which occurs every time at this stage of the game no matter how much crap I write, always leads me to think that what I'm close to finishing is shit anyway and I should just go on to the next thing because that will be better. I have no idea why it's like that. When I'm working on something it's great and takes on a life of it's own and at moments it even writes itself, but when I'm done I have no interest or affection for it whatsoever. In fact I usually end up thinking it's total garbage. I don't think I've ever ended up liking anything I've ever written. Crazy...

  • MrsRW is off to Utica NY this morning where she will be for the next two weeks. I tried to cheer myself up by telling her it should be pretty there this time of year. Yes I said cheer myself up, what about it? When she does one of these two-week jobs and stays over for the weekend I have to especially guard against my normal process of personal deteriorization that I go through when that happens. Even if we're both busy with our own stuff in different parts of the house for hours it's always better when I know she's here. What can I say?

  • When the wife is out of town being a heavyweight consultant to places like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and whatnot (and whatever this hospital in Utica is) I console myself with cooking experiments. The only thing I'm going to experiment with in the next two weeks is a better "take" on the mango-habanero chicken I made the other week. I didn't like it at all. I made it from fresh mangoes and actual habaneros and it was tasty - sorta - but not what I wanted. Too much like a sauce. So I'm going to start with mango salsa instead and have it be more like a topping than a marinade. If I think of it I'll let ya know how it turns out.

  • But mostly, lately, the experiments have wound down into a list of usual things I make for myself, like a list of dinner staples we all have. So during the next two weeks I'll probably do another chivito and some more cacio e pepe which I can't seem to get enough of and is ruining all I've accomplished, weight-wise, over the last couple of years. I know, it's very exciting around here when the Mrs is gone, ain't it?

  • Luckily I have my youngest daughter, Kelly, who comes over every Thursday to watch her "Project Runway" during which I usually pick the winner and loser fairly regularly. I always try to make something new for dinner when she comes over and she's a skinny little salad eater so this Thursday I'm making a walnut-apple salad. It is an entree-type vegetarian salad, meaning it has potatoes and I think cilantro and with some bread and wine it'll be the whole dinner. So there's that. I enjoy project Runway a lot more than I usually care to admit if only because, despite it's extravagant basis and practically irrelevant nature I do consider fashion design an art form equal to painting and writing and theater and etc. So kill me.

  • And, ya know, we're in the middle or nearing the end of the campaign season for the upcoming election. Oh hello. And I have hit that usual place wherein I can't stand anybody on any side of the issue. What is scaring me a little is that it feels like for the first time in my life I may end up voting completely straight Democrat if only to protest the "lowest common denominator" tactics of the Tea Party and the GOP which it is leading around by the nose. I have never in my entire life voted a straight ticket. So this little bit of anger and huge amount of contempt I am harboring for the mis-information, scare-tactics and general anti-intellectual caveman shit from the Know-Nothing luddites now in control of the GOP heart and mind may lead me to a personal first. I know... to some of my older friends that is probably shocking. But I am just that sick of it too.

  • But more importantly, what did I do to turn you off? Just asking.
  • October 08, 2010

    Brutal Honesty: The Cliff Notes

    Okay for the last seven or eight readers remaining here's brutal honesty in abbreviated form. A meme going around. I have a lot of respect for folks who can make this into 30 posts but I'm not that person. Too much dwelling isn't good for my health. So I'm going to give it to you straight and hard. So to speak...

    Something you hate about yourself.
    I don't think before I open my mouth. I continually say that one really special thing that's either going to piss someone off or put a damper on everything - not just for the evening - but from here on out forever.

    Something you love about yourself.
    I happen to like the fact that I'm not in love with anything I am, do or think. Strong like is about as far as I'll go. And I like the fact I don't feel any self love about anything.

    Something you have to forgive yourself for.
    The time I put my marriage in jeopardy. What the hell was I thinking... I don't know. I'm an idiot.

    Something you have to forgive someone for.
    The hazing and everything else that happened to me in 8th grade by at least seven different guys. I say I've forgiven them, but I enjoy seeing how miserable the ones I know of are now, their health problems, their financial ruinations, their regrets over what happened back there. So I guess I haven't actually completed the process.

    Something you hope to do in your life.
    Spain. Tapas, beaches, bullfight. Yes he said bullfight. What of it?

    Something you hope you never have to do.
    Survive my wife and/or kids/grandkids and have to bury any of them.

    Someone who has made your life worth living for.
    It's a tiered system. Right now and for the last 7 years I think it's Emma.

    Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
    I've got a big basket of these ranging from family to people I knew. I would seriously not know where to begin. Not so much the "life hell" part because that suggests this is with me all the time. The "like shit" part happens often, but I usually shake it off.

    Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
    This assumes there was one. There isn't.

    Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
    I've worked on this and can't see anybody. Really.

    Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
    No no no. Sorry. Nothing. I'm usually doin it wrong. If people like something they don't say it. But, to be honest, I am exceedingly uncomfortable with compliments and if they are too profuse I may just think you're a sycophant and discount you altogether. I have no idea why that is. That's just me.

    Something you never get compliments on.
    This is the thing that bothers me about these memes, and why I decided not to do this over thirty days. I have absolutely no idea what to say here. That's not bravado or appearances or anything. What do I say here? Something I don't feel appreciated for? I don't know. I really don't know.

    A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
    Dear Bob, Remember when I used to play Blonde On Blonde every year on my birthday? the whole thing from start to finish? I don't do that any more and haven't for years now, but - you know - from high school into several years into my marriage I never missed an opportunity to either do the whole set or at least a handful of things from it. I know exactly why I did that, and you may know approximately why I did that, but it's safe to say nobody else in the entire world knows the significance of it. And that is how it shall remain. But thank you for making that, and thank you for giving me something that is only mine and no one else's anywhere. Ever. Signed, Me.

    A hero that has let you down. (letter)
    I don't idolize anybody. The closest thing I can come to is like, maybe, Spider Man, because he never freakin grows up. Ever. The doofus.

    Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
    Seriously? Beef. Beef and animal meat altogether. I have enormous respect for people who are vegetarians - probably more than they would think - because I understand it from a personal/moral and health position. But after 56, almost 57, years I know I now can't live without it. There are plenty of other things here I couldn't live without, but the question says "you've tried it." So that narrowed it down a lot.

    Someone or something you definitely could live without.
    Glenn Beck.

    A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
    Really? This is going to be a boring answer and probably too personal to be of any interest to anyone at all. But "The Dead Father" by Donald Barthelme completely ripped apart my staid, traditional, formula-oriented, A=A=A way of writing fiction and showed me that it is still a living art form for which the sky itself wasn't even a limit. But, see, no one's going to think anything about that because that's a pretty boring answer. Sorry.

    Your views on gay marriage.
    I hope they have a happy and beautiful life. Whoever they are. What?

    What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
    I think spirituality and a personal code of conduct trumps "religion", but I can't stomach assholes who give you this: "Christianity is the problem, crusades, blah blah, inquisition, blah blah blah, mouthshit, etc. blah" because they are so obtuse they refuse to separate the ism from what acts are done in the ism's name. It's EXACTLY the same as people who blame Islam for their sub-jerks. It's called bigotry. And a lot of atheists don't see that because they're all just so wonderfully intelligent and above it all. Assholes. I see the Bible as a metaphor, not to be taken literally, but I still get academic pedants from time to time who want to lump me in with Torquemada. Whatever. God bless you too, moron. And politics ain't beanbag, so what do you want from me?

    Your views on drugs and alcohol.
    Conflicted about drugs because I can't believe we're still at war with them and yet I've seen enough people destroyed by the neverending loop drugs can create to have legitimate reservations about complete legality. I do understand how much revenue we're missing out on as a nation and I suppose I should be libertarian enough to not give a shit if somebody else can't handle themselves, but I don't know. Depends on what day you talk to me I guess. By the same token I see the damage alcohol has done to some people and I can't "get" why one is okay and the other isn't (I mean beyond the cultural war stuff). The thing that pisses me off are folks who drive their car under the influence of either (even though I've done it... so shoot me); I am more responsible now.

    (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
    Call the family and see if there's anything I can do.

    Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
    Wasted a year and a half of my life on the complete fraud called Scientology, which included uprooting myself at the very moment I should have been establishing my own life, goals, and social network. I really REALLY screwed that up. And when I came back home everybody and everything had gone on without me and I could never catch up again no matter how I tried.

    Something you wish you had done in your life.
    This goes in and out, meaning sometimes i wish I did and other times I'm truly glad I didn't. I had a short acting career, stage, and had jobs available and offered for more work and I walked away. I didn't like the life, and what nobody knew (ever) was the debilitating, wretched, horrific, and mind-boggling bouts of stage fright I experienced ever since I first went on the stage at school. It was awful. I would step out on the stage and everything would be fine all of a sudden; but beforehand I was a raving, insane mess who held it all in and let on to no one. I did not like that feeling and i am satisfied with what I'm doing now. But I wonder sometimes...

    Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
    "Ooh Baby, Baby" Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
    "Special Stream Line" Bukka White
    "Percy's Song" Arlo Guthrie
    "On The Turning Away" Pink Floyd
    "Shayla" Blondie
    "Rock The Casbah" The Clash
    "I Remember" Deadmou5 & Kaskade

    Dear Whoever, now you see the abbreviated progression to my personal musical odyssey. You should see the stuff in between though. Seriously. Some of this really jumps and prances, Carolina. Signed, Me.

    The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
    I didn't get in the car with Mr Stranger Danger?

    Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
    Once briefly, but it was very very fleeting. I have always believed in homicide over suicide.

    What’s the best thing going for you right now?
    The 29,845 finished words of THINK FAST. I've never written better.

    What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
    Be exceptionally surprised...

    Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
    Sit up straight, lose 25 pounds, get my teeth fixed and disappear.

    A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself
    Dear Self, Get over yourself. Signed, Self.
    No really, this is already answered. Now go away.

    October 06, 2010

    RWban Dictionary

    RELIGION: Where you take a good idea about how to get along with people and screw it up with your ego.

    BLOG: Mental masturbation where you hope somebody catches you.

    FACEBOOK: The internet portal you use to get to your games.

    WAR: Where two or more Nations(qv) kill as many of the other guy's folks as possible, mess with each other's heads and bust up each other's shit for a while. Usually over a period of years. Lots of people lose family members, homes, jobs, and money. A portion of the younger generation is killed, brutalized, maimed for life or otherwise dicked, and then the sides finally all sit down and talk about it. Then everybody acts like it either never happened or they wait for a chance to get even and start the same shit all over again.

    LIBERAL: A worldview that demands tolerance and charity from everybody else.

    CONSERVATIVE: A worldview that masks fear, distrust and anger with grand ideals you would make other people die for.

    NATION: It's like a gang. Everybody's got a neighborhood, their own songs, and colors. You don't mess with me, I don't mess with you. But if I see something you got that I want, if I have the muscle I just take it and up yours. There is a definable hierarchy of leadership and every section or clan has its officers and lieutenants. You follow the rules or you're out. Hola, essa.

    LIBERTARIANISM: A studied philosophy with big words that intellectualizes crabby selfishness.

    NAZI: Debate code for "I have no point."

    ELECTION CAMPAIGN: Any gathering of countless thousands of people who take somebody else way too seriously.

    AFGHANISTAN: An incomprehensibly remote, dusty, localized grouping of arid regions which together comprise an area that is the world's greatest exporter of frustration and humility ever since anyone can remember.

    TEA PARTY: What little girls have with their imaginary friends**

    ** okay I stole that one.

    October 04, 2010

    Being The Guy With The Tickets

    It was weird for me to hear that my buddy Dave was not a fan of live theater, but that even being of that opinion he enjoyed The Lion King when he saw it in person. I don't go to the theater enough, to my way of thinking. I prefer it to movies and very much more prefer it to TV. I guess I can understand how a person might be unable to suspend their disbelief long enough to see a live show, but to me live theater is the true and legitimate form for the art. Any way we went to see Lion King this weekend with the granddaughter and that was a big success. Big!

    One of my favorite places here in the Chicago area for theater is a little-known venue called First Folio. I was first introduced to it when my daughter got a job as the stage manager there for a season (or just a show? I have no brain anymore...).

    They are best known for their renditions of Shakespeare, in my mind, and I say they have a list of regular players who are quite good at it. If I have one beef about Shakespeare in America, 21st Century style, it's when people try to change the setting of it to the Wild West or a garage in Peoria or something. First Folio doesn't always do that, but they do it enough to bug me sometimes just a little. When I see my Bard I want my Bard like the Bard. I know, for everything else I like it probably seems strange I am that much of a traditionalist when it comes to Bill. But there it is.

    Outside of the shows the coolest thing about First Folio, though, is that it's done outside. And you can bring your picnic baskets and small folding tables and chairs and just eat cheese and sip... water... while you watch under the summer stars. If that isn't heaven I don't know what else could be.

    So anyway the Lion King was, as I said, a big hit with the granddaughter. Big enough so that I went and got tickets for the Chicago's Goodman Theater production of Christmas Carol so we can take her Christmas week.

    Dude, check it out... second row seats.

    It's good to be the guy with the tickets.