November 23, 2011

Little Sophie

So sometime in the next seven days I'm going to be a grandpa again.

There are small signs that little Sophie is thinking about it, but if she doesn't make up her mind by about this time next Tuesday they are going to induce labor for our daughter Kate.

The reason they will be inducing labor next Tuesday if it doesn't happen by then is that Kate developed a case of pregnancy-specific diabetes that has required her to go on insulin.

And when a pregnant mother takes insulin in this case the longer the pregnancy goes the more of a chance there is that the baby will be stillborn.

Which means they are targeting Tuesday the 29th of November as little Sophie's debut.

Because of all the incidentals and potentials, as you may well imagine, there is always the chance that we're not going to be thinking about too much else around here for a little while.

So I am accepting all prayers from prayers and, if you don't go that way I am also accepting positive thoughts, energy flows, or whatever it is you use when this kind of thing comes up. It is also a good time to speak up, if you've just been a reader and never posted or don't post much, and toss a penny in the well. Kate and Sophie will thank you and I will love you forever. Imagine that!

November 21, 2011

Many-worlds implies that all possible alternative histories and futures are real, each representing an actual "world" (or "universe").

I'm not always upbeat and engaged. Sometimes I get downright depressed. Usually it takes the form of some kind of existential thing, and I don't interiorize it; so it's not like a dangerous place for me to be. That doesn't make it any less of a downer.

But there's always your personal list of all possible alternatives wonking around. Just sometimes you'd like the luxury of a look-in from time to time, y'know?

November 18, 2011

A Strange Relationship With Conversation

When you are talking and people look away in mid-sentence and start talking to somebody else, this is a bad sign. That happened for weeks in meetings I used to have at one job a while back, and I eventually got fired from that place too. Same thing is true for letters and emails. You'll be going along back and forth with someone and then - slam - they just stop answering, and there were still plenty of things to give and take on.

It takes me so long to warm up to a conversation, whether in person or privately, that when it just stops or gets clamped down or whatever - and it isn't over yet - I have a tendency to say "ok, I won't bother you any more." Because, if you really knew me you'd recognize that I'd rather not have engaged with you in the first place. I'm the kind of person who wants to go home, be home, and stay home. To go out and mingle is something I have to kind of prepare for. In many social settings I usually start out being the guy who waits and watches before jumping in.* So to finally get in on things only to watch the process of communication fumbled, just sort of reinforces my initial desire to have stayed in the background observing in the first place.

I find it's like that with people you talk to where you say "we should get together some time, go out to dinner or whatnot," and it ends there. I guess I'm the type of person who, when I hear that, thinks "ok, we're going to get together soon. Cool." Either getting back to one's life means everything caves back in on you so that you don't follow up with stuff you said you were going to do or you sit there and go "well, they're probably busy so I won't bother them." And all that positive feeling you had when you were actually with the person gets kind of trashed. Either that or the comment wasn't actually sincere in the first place - which is a hundred times worse.

These are exactly the kind of machinations that make me want to be a recluse. I think people should say what they say and mean what they mean. This includes me, because I can well imagine I've done the same things to other people and should just get a mirror before I start whacking at folks. But the fact remains; the stumbling way we communicate with each other - insincerity, insecurity, people who talk and never listen, or folks who are all "oh we just like everything you do," or "I'm looking at you but I don't know what the hell you're talking about and don't care enough to delve into your brain to find out" - is the biggest reason I have a tendency to walk away, go inside, shutter up, and let you have at yourself.

So it takes a while to get me in, and then alienates me when - once I'm in - we're going to stop altogether.

Makes me want to shut the door and turn on an old movie and to hell with you. Sucker me in and then disappear like that. Hmph. How dare you.

Humans bug the snot out of me. Makes me glad I'm glad I'm inhuman...

EDIT TO ADD; And on the subject of hosting and being in my home and whatnot... people need to realize that if I don't care, then you don't get an invite or you don't have the nod that there's an open door, come anytime. If you're here, you're in. And if you're in that means you are welcome and welcomed here. So don't get all stifled. You don't come into my house unless I want you here. So if you're here... you're in. Did that make any sense?


* - Unless you are in my home, at which point I transform into the perfect host, making sure everyone feels welcome - another skill that has been lost in the 21st century; being a good host to ALL your guests.

November 14, 2011

Plus, 10 Things I'm Not Apologizing For

1. Being against the death penalty. I don't believe a state ought to have the right to do it. I know there's lots of folks who want to see justice done, especially to child abusers and people who kidnap and torture little children and all that. And I certainly get it. But I don't think, in the long run, the people ought to ever give the power of execution to the state. It just shouldn't be done.

2. Being against the Viet Nam War. I'll admit the impetus of my being against it was pure cowardice. Since I faced the possibility of going I actively worked against it, knowing full well that if I was drafted I didn't have any deferments and, in my family, you just go in and that's that. But the more I looked into it the more I saw real reasons to be against it. From the Gulf of Tonkin "incident," which wasn't; to the worry that SouthEast Asia was going to fall to communism, which it didn't. In fact the first thing that happened when the war was over was that Viet Nam and China had a short war of their own. Duh. Where I started to stray from my fellow hippieradicals was when they began blaming the guys that were drafted and went because of it. That crossed the line with me.

3. Having taken just about any drug you can name at one time or another. I didn't say it wasn't stupid, I'm just saying I'm not guilty about it.

4. Liking Motown. It saved my life in high school when I was pretty much a loner, before I found my group. It doesn't matter to me if you don't like it, it has a different meaning for me, so bite me.

5. Being in tacit approval of Occupy Wall Street. Not saying I'm sure they're doin' it right, and I'm certain there are crazies hanging around it just like there are crazies hanging around the Tea Party. But I'd rather identify with these kids than the pole-up-the-ass lawn chair snake flag wavers my own age. A lot of the over-vocal "conservatives" my age are really people who missed out on the 60's and felt very uncool during all that. Truth is they were uncool. In fact they were dull, pointless, boring, and not very bright back then, and they still are all that today. Just the kind of people the GOP likes these days. Just sayin'.

6. Voting for Barack Obama. And I'm doing it again just to spite you. He may be in the lower 33% of Presidents that ever did anything for the country. Not very good at all. But him being reelected will get so many people apoplectic they may croak. Which would be funny, and a positive for the gene pool for all we know.

7. Not believing the Bible should be taken literally. It doesn't even matter to me which version of the Bible you're talking about. Pick one. But really, maybe, it's not so much people who think it should be taken literally as much as it is people who think it should be taken literally and then pick and choose which parts they want to do and not do. Stoning people for working on Sunday... not a good idea. But literal nonetheless. Point is not in the details of what it says - it can't help it, it's the people reading it who are screwed up - but in the things it's used for. One way or the other. The Bible is like a person - torture it enough and you can get it to say anything.

8. Voting Libertarian, and helping the LP, all those years. I'm not apologizing for it. I'm also not saying it wasn't asinine. See #3 above.

9. For being a Scientologist for a year and a half. But I am doing everything I can to see that other people don't make the same mistake.

10. Deleting 0ver 20 names from my Facebook "Friends" list. Though most came on from games and that shit and don't really care, a good number were not from that category. And they can go piss up a rope. So there.

What are you not apologizing for?

November 12, 2011

My Last Word On Politics

The Republican state party leaders, upset with the Tea Party for the influence they've taken away from them, are going to make sure Herman Cain gets the nomination for President. The idea is that he will absolutely crash and burn, and the Tea Party's influence will be stunted. Then, in 2016, we will see a serious candidate for the office - picked by the old guard party leaders minus the defunct Tea Party.

The game is this; The oligarchs of the GOP want their power back. So long as the Tea Party is active and organized they have to listen to them and even share their clout. The best way to destroy the influence of the Tea Party is to have Herman Cain run for President. During the campaign he will prove to be an embarrassment one way or another (and there will be more revelations as to his proclivities coming, put out - not by Democrats and the Evil Media, but by the old guard GOP - just like these recent ones were), and there will be a great big "I told you so" - not by the Democrats, but by the old guard GOP state chairmen who have been threatened by said Tea Party.

In the meantime the old line Republicans like the Speaker and other prominent GOP Senators and Congressmen who are not beholden to the Tea Party will continue to court the populist glow generated by this "grass roots movement" while enacting none of their programs under the guise of not having enough votes somewhere, as if the Tea Party didn't really exist, because the Speaker and the rest happen to BE the oligarchs of the GOP who have never wanted to have the Tea Party watching their every move in the first place.

Any threat to the clout, largess, and patronage held by the GOP oligarchs is viewed by them as something to be stunted; but they have to go about it very carefully. The mission is to appear to be doing the will of the Tea Party, but actively ruining their hold and influence in the long run.

The Democrats have already done as much. Barack Obama's upstart campaign - never supported by the Democratic oligarchs from the beginning - took them by storm as well. In response they purposely dumped enough congressional elections to not have a Democratic majority in both houses anymore (like what he had when he took office but oddly wasn't able to get through but around 10% of his programs - for some mysterious reason while the whole world said "the Republicans are headless"), by not backing key candidates and convincing other, big name Democrats, to walk away from politics and leave their seats wide open.

With Obama's policies checked, the bottom-up influx of new blood he brought with him will dissipate as time goes on, and the old Democratic oligarchs will be back at the reins of power. They did much the same in 1972, withholding workers, money, and support for the candidate McGovern so that the young Turks fell flat on their faces and the old guard retained control of the party because... hey... "I told you so."

In 2016 the two candidates will be much like Kerry / Bush; both minions of the oligarchs and not much difference between them, hand-picked by the "pros" and run through the obligatory proceedings to keep up the masquerade that the Peepul actually make the call, and the old guards of the two parties will be back at the throttle without these pesky groundswell movements popping up and getting in the way of their power.

In the meantime regular joes on the internet and on TV will continue to spit at one another fueled by code words, logical fallacies, generalizations, personal attacks and obtuse verbosity much like any political discussion board, blog or posting will demonstrate. Because we are the circus.

A bunch of clowns.

November 09, 2011

I Survived

And it also turns out that Rocco is one of the most gracious, thoughtful, and inclusive guys I've seen in some time. Here he is in Donnie Brasco in a scene with Pacino and Depp (click to make larger). It's not that I was expecting him to be some kind of snob or something - I remember him as a pretty quiet guy in school - but I was impressed that he even remembered me and shared some personal asides with me during the proceedings. Now you know I couldn't pass it up, so when they were giving his credits and mentioned that he'd been in "Far and Away" with Tom Cruise I simply had to lean over to him on the stage and whisper "I here Tom Cruise still can't fly," to which - in all honesty - he almost lost it there for a second. So, yeah, a cool dude. When I first walked up to him he seemed pretty glad to see me and shook my hand very warmly. But I did tell him who I was just in case first so he wouldn't be embarrassed.

As for the talk I had to give I had two missions given to me by the organizer, who is a teacher there and also someone who was a fellow alum of ours from that era. If I had an anecdote about Rocco, that would be very much sought after. And if I could say something about the effect teachers have on their students that would also be appropriate. So I parsed it into two parts under the idea that "there are 2 things I share with Rocco Sisto." The first was a thing that happened to us when we were in a play together and the second was our theater director/teacher - which led me into the desired "few positive words" for the faculty.

I decided to go without notes because I knew that if I brought anything up with me to the microphone I'd probably just end up reading it and none of it would have worked. This, of course, made my terrors even more pronounced. I didn't sleep well at all the night before, until I took a little killer and for a while that didn't even seem like it was going to work. Just before we went on stage I completely blanked. I had no recollection of what I planned to say. When it started I wanted the people ahead of me to just keep going. Maybe it would never come my way.

But it was not to be avoided. Sooner or later the ball would be passed to me and I'd have to do something. Somehow.

The way I used to handle it was just to get my feet moving and get up there. No matter how I felt, I just moved. That's how I'd always done it and that's how I did it yesterday. Like somebody who never jumped out of a plane straps a parachute on and just says "oh well what the hell" and jumps, trusting the conclusion to God and the forbearance of reptiles. This is how I always did it. Why not do it now?

Once I got to the microphone I was fine. Because I didn't have notes to check I made eye contact with the audience and engaged them at every moment. They laughed when they should have laughed. I even got (I talked to Sligo after it was over and told him the same, and it's true) one belly laugh. My problem, as it has ever been, is that I can't for the life of me remember what I got the score with. I don't remember what, exactly, it was that I said. But there was supposed to be a laugh there so it worked out. I just didn't gauge how loud it was going to be. But, you know, you get chuckles within the first minute and you know they're with you. They did everything they were supposed to do. So it worked out in the end.

I talked to my wife on the phone and she said I'm just silly. In his email Sligo more or less sounded like he knew nothing bad was going to happen. And a couple people came up to me during the reception afterward and gave me some positive feedback as well. So I guess I did have a support system after all. Well I'll be damned.

I had a picture taken with Rocco on my camera but the person taking it didn't frame the picture well at all and we look like we are standing a hundred miles away. So I'm not putting it on here and of course I have no idea when that chance will ever happen again. Oh well.

During his talk he told a very funny and self-deprecating story about the time he was walking his dog in a park (he lives in Manhattan). He's going along and someone comes up and says "excuse me." And, as he told it, he thought - aha, here it is. Someone recognizes me from something and they're going to tell me how much they like me. But then the person said "I'm a casting director," and - as he explained - he immediately thought - aha, here it is, this guy recognized me and is going to give me the role of a lifetime just like they did with Lana Turner. Then he goes "I said to myself, I'm going to be Lana Turner!!" (you see this is my kind of humor already, I know). And then he said "the guy wanted to know if he could take a picture of my dog."

Turns out Rocco's dog has now done several commercials.

That was pretty funny. He was also pretty up front about the realities of the business. He's not a star, he explained, but a working actor for 30 years and pretty proud of that. He explained that at any given moment a large percentage of actors who are members of their union - I think he said something like 90% - have no jobs. No jobs equals no income. So to be in stuff from Matlock and NYPD Blue and Star Trek (I forgot to tell him how much I enjoyed seeing an Italian Vulcan, dammit) was good enough, considering the obstacles.

Turns out he's going to stay in town a few days and actually give a few lab sessions with the high school actors who are putting on a play this very weekend. So, yeah like I said, a cool dude.

Everything worked out A-Ok. Then I went to work and punched in. Then I worked all night and got home an hour ago. Then I wrote you this. Oh and on the subject of working... the shop looked pretty dismal after all that showbiz stuff but I'm still happy to have a regular paycheck, and even Rocco said his advice to people starting out as actors was "don't quit your day job if you don't have to."

So it turns out Rocco is an OK guy who is very realistic about the way things are but also blessed with a lifetime of working at something he loves. And he doesn't need the stardom everyone seeks at the beginning. By the way he has a new movie out called A Bird of the Air, the trailer of which looks kind of interesting (no he's not in the trailer). But it's like an indie flick so you might have to go some to find it. Here's Rocco's blurb from the cast list.

So anyway if you happen to see the guy in a commercial or another supporting role somewhere with some big name over-acting super star, just nudge the person you're with and say "that's Rocco Sisto. And he's a pretty cool guy."

November 06, 2011

Late One Night

Been working long hours. Fifty hours a week. Sometimes more. There's more to come too. From now until the end of the year. I suppose I should be grateful. Time and a half is the workingman's bonus. There won't be any others. Since I work overnight sometimes my mind has a tendency to wander. This is not always a good thing. I hate when I remember things that are embarrassing in some way, out of the blue, and I have to go through feeling stupid all over again, but there I go.

Tuesday is the day I go to my old high school to do seven minutes in front of an assembly being put on to honor Rocco. It would be easier if I didn't have a history of the terrors before I have to go in front of people. But I better get this handled. The only way out is through. I know what I got is humorous enough, but I have to deliver it right. It's the complexity of nailing it that gets me nervous. I know what I wrote, and if it's done well it'll be a great addition to the proceedings. That's the hard part... doing it well.

I used to be pretty good in front of people. I have no confidence now, topped by a poor self-image. It's going to be a struggle, but a major win if I can pull it off. Who knows.

It's the night we push the clocks back an hour and I don't know why we do that. I never knew why we do that. I'm glad to get the extra hour to play with since I'm working Monday and worked this last Friday and am clocking so many damn hours. Tuesday's going to be crazy because I'll be on the clock Monday overnight, then have to show up at the high school Tuesday afternoon, and then go in to work after that - overnight. So I'm either going to be a complete mess or so whacked that everything will go just fine but I won't be able to remember it. I'm getting kind of old here.

To make matters worse my wife will be out of town next week. Not that she can always get available to be a support system for me, but it means I'll be walking into the Tuesday thing alone. Either a Christian before the lions or some other, more positive, metaphor i can't think of right now. But I'm repeating myself.

The whole thing is yet another of my "mystery achievements" - stuff I do that my broader family has no idea is going on. Like stuff I've published, Thrice, this little speech thing. Not that they'd care. I'm just the weird cousin/uncle/brother to those folks. So what the hell. Doesn't matter.

At the same time this week my nephew (more specifically my great-nephew) is being shipped off to Afghanistan and I still don't know what the hell we're bothering for. But he's a Marine, and a Recon Marine to boot (meaning - you know - Marines are assault troops and always the first in... and Recon Marines go in ahead of THEM so... yeah). So in the big picture my little nerve problem is pretty insignificant, by comparison. My wife bought him a St. Michael medal (patron saint of the Marines) and we're not even Catholic. Well he is, so there's that.

I remember when he was a baby. Gad...