Thursday, July 28, 2005

Are you like me? You can't sit through a lecture, not even as an adult, without doodling crap all over your notebook?

The discussion could be the most interesting thing you've ever heard and still you gotta scribble a portrait of the lady sitting in front of you... or random cartoon characters?

Or weird things come to mind, which you sketch completely out of proportion, like what if your old dog met Inanna's cat?

It reminded me of graduate film school. I enjoyed it, learned a lot... and filled notebooks with drawings -- sometimes about the classes themselves.

One was a script analysis class. We'd watch a classic film for 2 hours and discuss it for another 2. Our instructor was a smart, likable old screenwriter from Czechoslovakia. He'd break down the movie plots with terms like "point of attack" all in his thick accent. Though very educational, 240 minutes was hard to sit through, especially when some pretentious film students would over-analyze every detail. Sometimes it's just a movie, ya poseurs.

So I'd tune out and doodle as my mind wandered. Like what would happen if our instructor went up against another old guy -- like Ronald Reagan -- in a game of hoops? The Czech Maestro vs. the Great Communicator, one-on-one? My money was on our teech. Ronnie's full-court-press would be as effective as his Strategic Defense Initiative.

There were some other drawings, many of which made even less sense... maybe I'll post 'em another time. My friend seated next to me was a cartoonist, too. So we'd pass the time, giving each other random artwork assignments.

He once asked me to depict this loudmouth from our class -- a pseudo-intellectual who made the four hours even longer with his over-scrutinization and auteur-name-dropping pomposity -- getting run over by a steamroller.

No problem, I said. Like that was gonna stop that schmuck?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Got the gig.

About a month ago, I was applying and submitting samples to write for a TV show...remember that? Probably not, 'cause I included the story in the midst of a bunch of other convoluted stuff... but that's how it's done among us television writers.

Yeah, last week, I followed up with a producer who's been very helpful all summer toward getting me in there. I asked about the status of writing voice-over lines part-time via e-mail, as we had discussed. She said she thinks they hired a post-production crew for that. Although, she said, "You are very talented and the perfect person for this, if it becomes available." Okay, but if it doesn't, that compliment and a buck-fifty buys me a cuppa coffee or a thimbleful of gas.

But the next day she said they did wanna hire me for this. Crazy biz, man.

It's not a lotta $, but it's part time, I can still keep my day job (and look for yet another TV gig). I can do this writing at night (though I actually did a lot of it at the day job -- ssh!).

I'm hoping it'll get my foot in the door at the network. All the people I've met have been totally cool, especially the post production crew with whom I'll be working closely. I went down yesterday evening to view the footage as they edited it together.

And this morning, I sent in my VO lines for the first set of episodes. I'm a little nervous -- what if I missed the mark? Got the whole thing wrong and their voice-over to me will be, "sorry, this just isn't working out"?

On the other hand... I had gone to the offices last week to fill out the paperwork and ran into my friend who works there, on a different show. He introduced me to yet another producer, told her about my new position.

"Oh," she said, "last season's VOs were pretty... punny."

My friend looked at me and smiled, saying, "Well..."

I finished the sentence for him. "That's what I do."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

That's my cousin on the left with the other beautiful bride, from the...

San Francisco 4th of July Weekend
Part 3: Guzzlin’ Cousin

This summer’s been a blast from the past for me. Having attended one wedding and a funeral, I’ve reconnected with a lot of relatives from back east. With some of ‘em, I can see why my parents intentionally lost touch. On Long Island I encountered some bizarre individuals. We grew up in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, though you’d swear these characters were straight outta Hazzard County. But no one looks like Jessica Simpson, and yet that wouldn’t stop ‘em from wearing Daisy Dukes. And I’m talking about the guys.

To elaborate on the crazier cousins of mine -- my dad’s siblings’ kids and their brood -- would require another whole blog entry. And I haven’t even gotten to the San Francisco trip yet.

Well, I will run off on a few introductory tangents, and say that my father’s sister was notoriously a beeotch. My aunt would call my sweet little old grandmother -- the one who just died -- an “old fart”, right to her face. Or she’d come up to my mom’s friends and tell the heavyset one not to stand next to the skinny one, ‘cause it made her look even fatter. Niiiice.

My aunt wasn’t at the funeral, but I mention her because she obviously had a strong influence on one of her sons, who did attend. Simon is a few years older than me, and when we were kids, I thought he might show me the ropes. Instead, he was just as obnoxious as his old lady. There was the fun way some older relatives would bust my chops, and then there was Simon’s mean-spiritedness. I always wanted a big brother, not a big motherfucker. By the time I was 11 and he was 15, I knew better and avoided the schmuck.

So when I saw him at the funeral, I had my guard up, but he turned out to be a real mensch. Maybe moving away from Mama Malice taught Simon some manners or something... He works in web design, and I mentioned my blog (didn’t give him the URL) and he gave me some tips on HTML to spruce up the site… which, obviously I haven’t put into practice yet. Mostly ‘cause I can’t recall any of the details of our geeked-out conversation, but it was still memorable to me because it was astonishingly civil. Even enjoyable.

A similar pleasant surprise occurred in San Francisco.

The wedding was in many ways the opposite of the funeral, and not just for the joyousness of the occasion. This was a gathering of my mother’s side of the family. Her brother’s daughter was getting married, and though I don’t have as many relatives on that side of the family, my aunt and uncle have an extended network of friends. Both worked in education, and so they had a slew of longtime pals from school -- fellow faculty members. When 120 people fly cross-country for a gay wedding, it’s no big shock that most of ‘em are east-coast aging hippies working in the liberal arts.

And their kids. While I got along great with everybody back in the day, there was my cousin’s cousin -- my second cousin -- Tyler. The last time I had seen him, Tyler was a little boy, no more than 10. He was a cute kid -- no, “cute” isn’t the right word. Cute kids are endearing in the things they say and do. Tyler was good-looking, but didn’t say or do shit.

He wasn’t developmentally challenged, and I don’t even think you could chalk it up to shyness. Tyler would hang around the other runts and otherwise would cling to his mom… but there was a downright rudeness toward everyone else. His parents didn’t teach him to even try to be cordial and acknowledge anyone… and his attitude came off as… haughty, perhaps. I didn’t give it a lot of thought, but I never particularly liked the little punk.

But that kid, now 23, turned out all right. My aunt said, “Doesn’t he look like Brad Pitt?” Aside from a similar hair color… no. Still good-looking, sure, but not Angelina Jolie worthy. Well, she married Billy Bob… so scratch that. But my aunt compares everyone way too generously to matinee idols. When I was younger and had spiky thick brown hair, she’d say I looked just like Tom Cruise. And if you stood 100 yards away, put gauze over your eyes and squinted, yeah, me and Scientology Boy were dead-ringers.

Tyler, as an adult, was outgoing and funny and always had a huge smile on his face. Even when he brought up more serious topics. His father died of a heart attack recently, leaving him to deal with a sometimes-overly emotional mother and sister. Sounded strangely familiar. I think I could relate.

At the wedding, Tyler seemed to be touched at the camaraderie between all the cousins and grown-up childhood friends. Kept saying how great it was for the old gang to be hanging out, we should keep in touch, maybe all meet up again in NY. I was wondering if his aloofness as a kid was really the sentimentality I was seeing today. Someone said, “Yeah, Tyler’s a real mush.”

And he wasn’t even that drunk. Not at the wedding. But the next night...

While most of us sat around a restaurant table eating sourdough and soup, Tyler and others planted themselves at the bar, getting soused early. His fellow boozers went to call it a night, but Tyler was just getting warmed up.

It wasn’t apparent at first, how tanked he was. He still had that big smile and engaging disposition. Lucidly, he recalled how we all gathered at my uncle’s cabin upstate one summer, and the kids put on a talent show.

He mentioned how I had done a stand-up routine. Everyone still laughed about it, but I could hardly take any credit. I had basically imitated comedian Bob Nelson: “Foo’ball i’ my life. If it had not been for foo’ball, I would not be playin’ foo’ball today.”

We reminded Tyler of his act, which began with him standing on a picnic table. Everyone shouted at the little dude: go Tyler! What was he gonna do? Sing a song? Breakdance? Stand on his head and spit nickels? No, he just leapt off the table and landed on his feet. That was it? After a long pause, we applauded, perfunctorily, just to hearten the taciturn tyke.

Someone jokingly pointed out that restaurant tables had seating that looked like picnic benches. Next thing we knew, Tyler stood atop the table and gave out an ear-shattering rebel yell: “Yeeee-haaaaaaa!” Then he jumped off and stomped onto the floor. For a second I thought he might fall and break a leg or something. But once we saw he was okay, and realized he was lampooning his childhood schtick, we looked around, embarrassed for the other diners interrupted by the spectacle, and again, gave an awkward applause.

But he didn’t act up the rest of the night. In fact, he was pretty mellow as a small group of us went out to local bars, doing shots and shootin’ the shit.

The next morning, I dragged myself to brunch, thinking: Drinking like a fish two days in a row… I’m gettin’ too old for this… But maybe it has nothing to do with age, after hearing what happened to that whippersnapper Tyler.

His mom said he didn’t get back ‘til a few hours ago. He had called at 7 in the morning, not sure where he was... somewhere in San Francisco...? His mom told him to get a cab; she’d pay for it when he got to the hotel. “Uh...” he asked, “where’s the hotel?” That was the problem in the first place. He explained that he got lost, then all he remembered was getting a ride with some Chinese guy, driving around the city, stopping in at after-hours bars… a strip club… and… uh, passing out in the bushes.

Which perhaps explains why, when he finally arrived, he was bleeding all over one side of his head. He had a small scrape on his ear, probably from falling down in the shrubbery. It bled a lot, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked. His mom had calmed down by now, saying things could’ve been worse.

But I was in shock. Last night, after closing the bar, we had all gone to Denny’s. Scarfing our Moon over My Hammies, we sat around and played “Who’s Got the Most Fucked-up Family?” I left out that detail to his mom, especially ‘cause Tyler coulda been a contender at it. But he was loitering outside. We checked on him a few times, but he smiled and said he was fine, just enjoying the cool air and having a smoke.

“He was smoking? Tyler smokes?” his mom asked.

“Oh. You didn’t know that?” Great, I omit the fucked-up family game, but still narc him out to his mother. First I abandon the kid, now this.

We said that when we left, we couldn’t find Tyler. But we didn’t worry; he seemed okay, and we figured he just went back to the hotel. Never thought he couldn’t find it, because…

I pointed: There’s Denny’s… and across the street… there’s the Holiday Inn.

She assured us it wasn’t our fault. He’s old enough now to know his drinking his limitations; he doesn’t need a babysitter. Still, I felt bad: You was his cousin, Mikey. You shoulda looked out for him a little bit.

I left for LA later that day, so I didn’t get to see Tyler again. I’d like to take him up on his offer, get the gang together for some good times back in New York. I hope we don’t all lose touch again for another decade.

I gotta remind myself there are some good people in my family. And remind myself: You never leave a good man behind.

Friday, July 22, 2005

I’ll write the last installment of my SF trip later… for now here’s something called...

Cole Porter I ain’t.

Sometimes I find myself making up songs. And they seem kinda clever at first. Like I’m both Gershwin Bruthas from anotha mutha. ‘Til I wake up and smell the ripoff.

Years ago I was working at Sony Studios, and for no reason whatsoever, I began composing a ballad dedicated to the neighborhood. Don’t remember the lyrics now, but I thought my “Culver City” diddy had a beautiful tune… maybe I should go to the city council and make it the official song? Then I realized: I used same melody as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” It was summertime, don’t know why I had that on the brain… Perhaps the alliteration of Culver City and Christmas Carols?

Yesterday I was crooning my work spiritual, “Shuffling papers, shuffling papers, shuffling papers, all day long!” It was kind of atonal, but original, no? Nah, the music came from a Simpsons episode, when Bart went to a Chuck-E-Cheese type place, and the mechanical animals sang, “You’re the birthday, you’re the birthday, you’re the birthday, boy or girl!”

For whatever it's worth, I suppose that’s my forte: taking existing songs and coming up with new lyrics. Like in college, my former roommate used to call and make fun of me, while accompanying himself on the guitar, which was always awful. So I made my own recording (which I couldn’t find, but I did locate the page with the lyrics), focusing on that urban legend that if your roommate commits suicide, they give you a perfect GPA for the semester. This was to the tune of “Sweet Child of Mine” (before I was convinced Axl was a total fuckhead).

I dunno if anyone would appreciate this but me... the non-Cole Porter, but perhaps a Weird Mike Yankovic?

Of all of the dweebs he is the most
I wish he were dead or at least comatose
So if I lived with him, I could get a four-oh
Now and then he’d call from afar
Play the same three chords on his old guitar
And he wondered why I’d then call him a schmo

That roommate of mine
Please drink turpentine

He’s full of nothing but apathy
Except when he tried to butt-fuck me
As if I had bent over for the soap
That was back in my sophomore year
And I told him to die when he was near
And then he’d say I was a misanthrope

That roommate of mine
Or try strychnine

What a big schmo now
What a big schmo

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

San Francisco 4th of July Weekend
Part 2: A Traditional Lesbian Wedding

I’m not sure why my uncle arranged for a group rate at the Holiday Inn in Fisherman’s Wharf. Maybe all the out-of-towners would enjoy this touristy, expensive section of the city (parking was about $40/day -- probably cheaper to leave it on the street and get a ticket). Perhaps it was the hotel’s proximity to where la familia had a huge dinner the night before and the night after the wedding. But it certainly wasn’t close to the wedding itself.

They arranged for a bus, made to look like an old cable car, to take all the wedding guests from the hotel to the ceremony. Not a quick hop, skip and jump; we seemed to go all the way across San Francisco. I suppose it provided everyone a quick tour of the town, but I was too grouchy to appreciate it -- tugging at my collar in that damn suit, getting thrown around by that herky-jerky trolleybus which was not enclosed, so riding al fresco allowed us to feel the Bay winds dropping the air temperature 10 degrees every 10 blocks.

By the time we arrived at the place, I was fuh-ree-zing. Yeah, I know, Southern California life has made me a weather wimp. But I wasn’t the only one shivering outside, waiting for things to get started. And most of the guests were New Yorkers… so you can’t blame this on my thin blood. Blame it on the fact that a summer ceremony in San Francisco is gonna be colder than a winter wedding in Walla Walla.

Thank goodness for the booze. They had wine and champagne beforehand and an open bar after. I spent the evening trying to warm myself up from the inside, and needless to say, I got pretty smashed. So hopefully, I can still remember the rest of the details.

My cousin and her girlfriend looked fantastic. They’re both very pretty girls -- a real loss for the straight guys of the world -- and they make a great couple. Despite their own self-effacing jokes about the unconventional proceedings (“Black tie optional, Birkenstocks mandatory”), each wore a white wedding gown, no veil, their fathers giving them away, all that jazz. Fairly normal. Okay, another gay cousin acted as “Best Man”, though he preferred to call himself the “Maid of Honor”. And their dog Cody was the Ringbearer… a pitbull mix appearing in a custom-made tuxedo.

Aside from that, as my aunt said during the speeches, it was a “traditional lesbian wedding.” No, it wasn’t official or “legal”, and it was non-denominational -- their longtime friend conducted the proceedings. But she stated that no government, no religion, no one, can deny the love and bond between these two people… and then she went on to pronounce them, uh, wife and wife.

And I agree. The question about same-sex marriage… it’s moot. It’s a non-issue, largely argued by hypocrites who are quick to proclaim that they don’t want the government interfering with their lives, but try to dictate what kind of personal affairs are acceptable for others. Or maybe they think it goes against the meaning of marriage. By whose authority? Their religion? An ultra-conservative friend of mine said it has nothing to do with that; marriage is between a man and woman, as defined by the dictionary. Well, pal, American language changes. We’ve gone from dropping that stupid ‘u’ in ‘neighbor’ and ‘color’ (as in “love thy neighbor… even if he’s got a rainbow flag with lotsa colors”) to accepting “ginormous” as a new entry (as in “This moralistic debate is a ginormous waste of time and energy.”).

So while I have no problem whatsoever with same-sex weddings... I’m not a big fan of weddings themselves. Sure, I believe in love, marriage, monogamy, settling down and raising a family -- hope to do it myself one day -- but that whole formal procedure of a wedding, in which the two declare their undying dedication to each other… sappity yappity crappity… as the bride blubbers through her vows (in this case, two of ‘em)… gimme a break. And don’t say I’m not a romantic. When I’m crazy about a woman, she knows exactly how I feel. We tell each other things that would make your pancreas hurt. But it won’t… ‘cause that’s between us. Why is it anyone else’s business? I’m hoping to elope and avoid the schmaltzfest…

Still, the reception is a big party, and can often be a blast. Did you see Wedding Crashers? Hysterical. Whether you're trying to “Lock it up!” or just hang out with cool people, fill up on fine food and free booze, you’re bound to have a great time.

It was at the Chenery House (the picture above is from their website), a big mansion with a great view of the city, several dining areas, a pool room, discotheque, and indoor pool (my other uncle accidentally stepped in it, and the poor dude spent the next two hours drying out his shoe and sock by the fireplace). It was decorated with some interesting artwork -- some beautiful, and some, well…

There were several sections devoted to the owner of the mansion and his accomplishments. If the shrine in the library wasn’t enough, there was also a statue of the man with a button you pressed to hear a recording of his odd poem (full of forced rhymes) sung to you by the guy himself.

If I hadn’t been so tipsy, maybe that self-congratulatory theme wouldn’t have seemed so surreal. Maybe it would’ve anyway. Chenery House owner Robert Pritikin was an advertising mogul who wrote a book called God is an Adman and is also “world-famous” for his skills at playing the musical saw. As in the wood-cutting tool. The old man was there at the wedding, playing with the band, performing such standards as “Dancing Cheek to Cheek”, running a violin bow across the carpentry implement. I thought the ghost of my grandmother was there -- she sang soprano with the Long Island Philharmonic choir -- when I heard this high-pitched warbling: “Woooo-wooooo-woooooooooo!”

Yep, good times.

Next: Part 3: Guzzlin’ Cousin

Sunday, July 17, 2005


I talked about the blogger meeting, but I’m finally getting around to describing (in three installments) the rest of my…

San Francisco 4th of July Weekend
Part 1: 5 Freeway Fun

Recent surprise family functions (or dysfunctions?) kept my sister and me from properly planning for our cousin’s wedding in SF two weeks ago. By the time we were looking at flights, they were getting too pricey to seem worthwhile. Sometimes, with western locales like Vegas or Northern California, you gotta consider: add up how long it takes racing to and from the airport, the security check-in, that whole “get there an hour and half beforehand” crap, and of course time in the air… it’s nearly 4 hours. You can save $ & drive there in less than 6.

Especially when my sister’s behind the wheel. Julie likes to speed up on the car ahead, then hit the brake if an opening doesn’t appear in the next lane. It must be genetic -- our dad used to make me do the same thing: close my eyes, and try not to think about how I’ll need to replace the brake fluid, and pray that the airbags really work.

Actually, it was cool. The San Joaquin Valley farm country can be picturesque. Heading north, I played DJ with my music CDs (from Sublime to “Superbad”, from Blind Lemon Jefferson to Blind Melon…), and on the way back promised Julie a shiny nickel if she got us home in under 5 hours. As soon as my heart was defibrillated from her overly-aggressive lane-swerving, I gave her a quarter. The whole drive southward, we listened to stand-up comedy CDs -- George Carlin, Lewis Black, and the funniest, Mitch Hedberg. “This jacket is dry-clean only. That means it’s dirty!”

I did do some of the driving… at the scariest part. Julie’s lived up north, so I thought she knew where she was going, but it turned out, we arrived into Oakland… which meant we had to cross the Bay Bridge. I mentioned in the past -- my sister has a phobia about driving over bridges. As we crept up to the tollbooths, she started to panic, saying how she can handle the Golden Gate, it’s straight and wide, and this one isn’t as bad as the serpentine Richmond/San Rafael, which she will not cross, but still, the Bay Bridge turns and goes up then down, and it’s really far, going across Treasure Island in the middle and…

I told her to stop the damn car and switch places with me. She said, “I don’t know that you driving will make me feel any better.” But I insisted.

And she backseat drove the whole way. Considering my sister averaged about 100mph the entire trip, it seemed ironic to hear her say, “Slow down! Stay in the center lane!” I probably didn’t help things by pointing out the sights and acting so flippant. “Michael, stop! I don’t care if you see the Transamerica Building! Keep your eyes on the road! Shut up! We could not survive a fall from here!”


But once in the city, she got her revenge. Julie knew my driving foible: I hate being stopped on a steep incline. (I think the fear originates from a previous car of mine that had little power and no emergency brake. I never knew if I was gonna roll backwards while waiting for the red light to change.) And now I was in the hilliest town in the country. Julie was navigating us to the hotel, and directed me to go up one of those fuckin’ Frisco vertical climbs. No way. I felt the nervous adrenaline rise inside me, cold sweat on my forehead... “Just kidding,” she said, pointing down a flat street. “The hotel’s right there.”

Pretty sneaky, Sis.

Next: Part 2: A Traditional Lesbian Wedding

Friday, July 15, 2005

Even a couple of lousy teams, battling for third place, make for good baseball. I always enjoy going to a Dodgers game, though last night my friends & I agreed: L.A.'s line-up looked anemic. It was like watching Triple-A ball. And their opponents -- the Giants -- were hardly impressive either. When both squads are a buncha fumbling fools, the California contention doesn’t particularly mean much.

I wished I was back east, seeing the Yanks-Red Sox rivalry. Especially when Boston brought in Curt Schilling for a relief performance and A-Rod clobbered out the game-winning homer. Bombers are only a game and half behind the Sox, and when they take the lead... there won’t be any wild-card berth for Boston. See ya in another 86 years.

But back west, I was still having a great time. Weather was perfect over Elysian Fields. It was a close game; San Francisco won 4-3. Our seats were down the first base-line, toward right field, but I could still see the action at the plate... whoever the hell these guys are. Jeff Kent's their best hitter, and he ain't all that. Can't field for shit. For me, I enjoy their Asian acquisitions, 'cause their names are fun to say: Hee-Seop Choi. Chin-Feng Chen.

Here's a few more observations:

Dodger Dogs! Ingredients: Ground-up catcher's mask, Astroturf, Gloveoleum and pine tar. Everything a growing boy needs.

It's kinda sad that the beach-ball bobble sometimes gets more attention than the game itself. When the entire loge section gave out a collective "awwww!", I looked out at the field thinking Jeff Kent made his third error for the night, but it turned out that inflated plastic thing bounced out of our section, down to the ground level seats.

Similarly, a fight broke out in the bleachers, and it caught the crowd's attention. Even the outfielders turned around to watch. Maybe baseball needs to be more of a contact sport. When a hitter rounds the bases he oughta have to duke it out with everyone in the infield. Would bring new meaning to "chin music". Or "Chin-Feng-Chen music"?

Another stadium staple: The Wave. Yeah, it still looks kinda neat... but this trend’s over 20 years old, folks. And if I have to stand up, it means I might drop my delicious Dodger Dog.

On the other hand, I love the 7th Inning Stretch. 50,000 people simultaneously singing "Take me out the ball game" with one wise-ass saying "root root root against the home team..." Yeah, I gotta be that way.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Five ways I've heard "Motherfucker" overdubbed for television:
1. Mother-grabber
2. Mickey-fickie
3. Monkey-flyer
4. Money-frogger
5. Molly-folly

Five wonderful quotes from wonderful ex-girlfriends:
1. "Oh... you misunderstood. When I said 'I love you'... I was talking to my dog."
2. "What are you thinking? And what are you thinking now? Aw, c'mon don't just say you were thinking about me. Really, what are you thinking?!"
3. "Wait, who are these people you're talking about? 'Condeleeza Rice'? 'Karl Rove'? Did we go to the movies with them last week? What?! Sorry, I forgot your friends' names!"
4. "My last boyfriend complained that I wasn't very good at giving head. And maybe I wasn't. I mean, but he was no one to talk, he wouldn't even go down on me. And I went on the pill for him, but it made me really fat, and then he didn't want to sleep with me, which made me wonder why I went on the pill in the first place so I gave him a blowjob and he complained but when it was my turn he said my down there it was like..."
5. "My dad works in waste management."

Five cities I'd like to visit, simply 'cause I like their names:
1. Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
2. Blue Earth, Minnesota
3. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine
4. Elephant Butte, New Mexico
5. Hicksville, New York
Actually, I lived near the last one. Shoot, weren't no thang.

Five music videos that are great...*:
1. Jessica Simpson "These Boots Are Made for Walking"
2. Shakira "La Tortura"
3. Gwen Stefani "Hollaback Girl"
4. The Black Eyed Peas "Don't Phunk with my Heart"
5. Eminem "Ass Like That"
*...with the sound off.

Five ways I waste $:
1. Dry-cleaning. I send out my regular cotton button-down shirts for laundering too. 'Cause I hate ironing. And I never do a good job. I figure the cash I spend at Mr. Martinizer is equal to the hour I'd spend trying to de-wrinkle 'em myself, and I still end up looking like Rumplestilskin.
2. Coffee. Believe it or not, I'm trying to quit. Haven't been to Starbucks or anywhere in nearly 2 weeks, and I've weaned myself down to just a half a cup in the morning. But, out of habit, I still buy at least 3 cans of espresso every time I go food shopping. In case my decaffeination plan doesn't last, I got plenty of java for the relapse.
3. Strolling down to Book Soup at least once a week and tempting myself with more fiction, coffee table books and reference guides that I really don't need. I bought some crime novels, The Synonym Finder and All-American Ads from the '70s. Hysterical. Side-splitting. Hilarious. Uproarious. Mirthful.
4. Too many margaritas at the Mexican joint. But hey, it's fajita night, and besides, I think we save money buying 'em by the pitcher.
5. Postage stamps. Which I use only to pay my bills. I just don't feel safe doing automatic payments via the internet. Next thing you know they're screwing up the amount, or worse, stealing my identity. This blog could wind up being written by some mickie-fickie hacker from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I’m finally getting around to writing about meeting up with Aimee, Leese, Stanks and Varla in San Francisco Fourth of July weekend, but by now, they’ve all written full accounts of the Bay-area blogger convention. So here’s just a few more pictures and scattered details:

I woke up that morning, terribly hungover from the wedding the night before. Didn’t wanna make a bad first impression, but I was so tired. I looked at my face -- ashen, dry and droopy, and thought, "fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke."

The person I was most anxious to meet was Aimee, simply because I had already met the others before. And I had to witness that infamous cute snort! she makes when she laughs. Actually, people from Sausalito down to Monterrey could hear it.


Aimee is lively and friendly and has a great smile. The first moment we met, she started chatting away. I discovered later from her blog that she was nervous, but it seemed so natural. Not frantic or babbly, just mellow and straight-forward. I found Aimee much more laid-back than she comes across in Blogland. Maybe that’s what happens when you don’t have emoticons. Though I’ve decided to start using them in verbal conversations, too. Winky face.


Her daughter Emily is adorable. I always wondered if I had a kid, would I post about the li'l punk a lot? Now, that I’ve met her, I don’t know how Aimee doesn’t write about Em everyday.


Leese and Stanks were cool as ever. All their moving and big changes with the home, family, work... had ‘em fairly crazed -- but maybe it did help Leese look like she’d lost weight since last Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to talk to them that much. Nor their little tough guys, Jake and David. But one of ‘em was an excellent high-fiver and the other did a a kick-ass dolphin impression: "ih-ih-ih-ih-ih!" If it didn’t get the attention of any marine mammals, it sure woke up the ones at the family restaurant. (We glared back at ‘em: Too bad, you want quiet, go dine at Nob Hill or something.)

Their daughter Nia used to live in Vegas. I used to practically live there myself, so I asked what she thought of Sin City. But being a teenager, she didn’t focus on the casinos or the housing boom or the best buffets. She sweetly told me about the important stuff: "Well, like, the kids out there, like, in high school... they’re, like mean!"

Em car
Is this post over yet? No? Wake me when it is.
Em yoga

The thing about Emily that won everyone over wasn’t just the red hair and cute face. She was engaging with the adults, playful with the other kids, and even seemed to have fun entertaining herself. Remember when simple things like pigeons or piles of sand seemed fascinating?

Em beach

Finally, just like last January, I always feel comfortable with Varla. We talked about her wacky friends Spaz and Culito Bonito, her job, life, everything. I had called her late that night as my friends and I wanted Varla to come out and recommend a cool bar in her ‘hood , the Mission District. I was glad she didn’t get the message, ‘cause it was probably at some ungodly hour and I surely sounded inarticulate. Speaking of drunken fools, that day, while Aimee and Leese were shepherding their kids, Varla was sweetly mothering me, nursing me back from my hangover. "You need more coffee? How about water? Know what might help? Chocolate! Doesn’t anyone want any chocolate? We’re in Ghiradelli Square. What the hell did we meet here for?!"

Friday, July 08, 2005

My License to Ill has been revoked. Just gotta remember: Check Your Head and if necessary, practice Ill Communication or it's gonna be Hello Nasty all over again. Yeahhh!

Anyway, you may have read different accounts about the blogger meeting in San Francisco last weekend, but this b-boy's up and at 'em, ready to lay down the real story:


Well, the day started innocently enough, watching swimmers in wet suits freestyling beneath the Golden Gate... oddly they weren't the craziest people I saw that afternoon.

Leese spent the whole time showing me interior decorating samples for her new house while her kids were stabbing the table with forks. Neil was on the same page -- he asked me my opinion of fertilizer compounds and their effects on lawn weeds while his daughter used her fork to stab me in the eye.

All this talk about crabgrass got Varla going on her love of snails, and before I fell asleep with bubbly drool coming out of my mouth, I tried to be polite but honest. And that's when Aimee chimed in:

"Michael, you said, 'Sorry guys, but none of these things interest me.' But what you meant to say was, '...none of these things interests me.' See the difference?"

Confused, I turned to Varla, but she was guzzling her beer and staring at a woman in white pants.

Aimee said, "'None' is your subject noun, not 'things'. 'None' is singular, so therefore the corresponding verb..."

My attention was diverted to little red-headed Emily who had climbed up into my lap. "Mommy said you had pink eye. Can I see?" And she preceded to try to gouge out my remaining good orb, the one without a food utensil embedded in it.

Finally, I leaped up, ran out and jumped in the water with the other crazy swimmers. But I went in the opposite direction -- past the Fisherman Wharf boats toward Alcatraz Island. Seemed safer out there.


Okay, okay, I'll have the real real story up later...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hi kids. How you doin’?

Hopefully better than me. I’m friggin’ sick. Ever hear of pharyngitis? It’s an inflammation of the pharynx, probably a viral infection. Kinda like strep... makes your throat so swollen, it hurts to swallow, which makes it hard to eat or drink fluids to fight off the fever associated with it.

Ever since I got back from San Francisco, I’ve been an achy miserable mess. I don’t know what it is in ’05 -- I’ve gotten ill so many times. Maybe I’m not eating right, or maybe it’s from hanging around so many different people, or maybe I’m making up for not catching anything for over 3 years.

The doctor gave me a cortisone shot for the swelling and antibiotics pills but so far they haven’t done anything. They offered me Vicodin, but I turned it down -- addictive pain-relievers are for wussy movie stars. Plus I don’t need to feel any more disoriented than I already do.

I want to write about my roadtrip to the Bay, the lesbian wedding I attended, all the heavy drinking parties (nah, that had nothing to do with me getting sick), and of course, meeting the fellow bloggers in Ghiradelli Square. But it might be a while. I’m gonna go lay down again.

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