Monday, April 28, 2008

Gary Busey is a whack job

I think I am stating the obvious about Gary Busey along with the disclaimer that I have never met Gary Busey. And it is probably not fair to judge someone based on lots of video clips of them babbling incoherently on television while hopping around in a straightjacket, but I think it is a pretty good sign that all of that good ol' boys dogs ain't barking.

I have never really paid much attention to Gary Busey. I am sure he would say the same thing about me. I was just watching some stupid gossip television program like Inside Edition while I was picking up Enya-Maria's toys. They were showing the usual stupid teaser clips about hairless cats and chimps who won the lotto. And then they flash to a clip of Gary Busey in a straightjacket screaming, "Let me out of this thing."

Okay, I have seen Busey guest starring on episodes of Entourage acting freaky and I'd briefly paid attention to the bizarre shots of him at the Oscars bursting into a Jennifer Garner interview and kissing her on the neck. But I assumed the straightjacket was just a publicity stunt for something. And it sort of was. He was doing a photoshoot for a book called the Dirty Side of Glamour. The proceeds are supposed to benefit Katrina victims. Something tells me that Busey wasn't really acting though.

Okay, the dude was in a motorcycle accident in 1998 where he wasn't wearing a helmet. So I suppose we can forgive him being a whack job and believing he channels Buddy Holly. But I don't think he deserves to be a celebrity. I get enough of this kind of bizarre shit on the streets of Seattle. I don't need to see this squirrel bait threatening to rip out someone’s endocrine system if they make him wear a straightjacket (which he puts on five minutes later).

I imagine this could all be an act like big time wrestling, but if it is then Gary Busey is a pretty pitiful whack job. And it is a pretty sad statement about our society that watching a raving looney in a straightjacket has become primetime entertainment.

But watching a Star Wars themed Deal or No Deal...well, that's entertainment.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Edgy, or groovin' in the grass is a gas baby can you dig it?

I mowed the lawn today. Then I began the tedious task of edging the front lawn. This is not a normal task for me. I bought Tess a manual edger for Christmas (she said she wanted an edger...how was I supposed to know she wanted an electric one...I didn't even know they made electric edgers...but I digress). I am not an edger kind of person. Edgy, maybe, but I have never to the best of my knowledge edged a lawn before.

So suffice it to say it was out of character for me to finish mowing the lawn and then decide to edge the puppy. It didn't take me long to realize why I had never edged a lawn before and it didn't take me much longer to understand why Tess had wanted an electric lawn edger. Edging a lawn is not easy. But it looks pretty cool once you have done it...well in an OCD kind of way.

I edged both sides of the driveway and the front area where my lawn meets the sidewalk. I had to quit when the rain began. The tricky part will be edging the parts near the flower beds. I mean, the sidewalk and driveway give you a line to follow. The flower beds are more freeform and there is nothing to guide the edger. I mean, how can you edge without an edge?

Note to self: Potential title of book, "Zen and the art of edging or how can you edge without an edge."

Maybe not.

Anyway, I kept looking out the window all day looking at my newly edged lawn. It looks so finished. But then it occurred to me that it won't last long. Just as the friggin' grass grows out in a week or so, the edge is going to creep back over the line and I'll have to redo it, over and over and over.

This has me on edge. What if it snows next week like it snowed last week? I won't be able to mow and manage the edge. Even now, I can hear the grass growing and the edge creeping.

I think I'm going over the edge here. Just don't get me started on beauty bark.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Do you smell that?


I was watching an episode of Weird Travels on the Travel Channel while I was working out on an elliptical machine at the gym yesterday. This episode was about Bigfoot. I was only catching maybe the last 15 minutes of the show but it was your usual guys trudging around in the woods setting up infrared cameras and to take pictures of Bigfoot and usually just snapping shots of squirrels and deer. But then they cut to a segment of these guys in Oklahoma tracking Bigfoot with the aid of a rather large Seminole Indian guide. The camera guy is filming the back of the guide and all of a sudden he stops and turns to camera, smiles and asks, "Do you smell that...do you smell that? The stink? That really bad stink?"

Okay, all I could think was the big guy farted and was enjoying gassing out the stupid white guys who probably paid him a bundle to shuffle around in the woods and pretend he was tracking a giant apelike creature. I don't know who was stupider, the guys filming the crap or me for watching it. Because all of these shows are the same. They build up a lot of drama about nothing, show you some grainy photos of what could be anything and waste an hour of your time without producing a single shred of evidence of anything. And adding insult to injury they film a fat guy farting and try to make you think they were showing you video footage of someone smelling Bigfoot.

I feel just as cheated by programs about UFOs, JFK conspiracy theories and the plethora of reality programs about haunted houses. You never see anything but bad video that looks like an outtake from the Blair Witch Project. I'm beginning to believe Bigfoot doesn't exist, there are no UFOs, Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and ghosts are nothing more that dust on your camera lens.

Well pull my finger. That just stinks.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Global warming?

It snowed here in Edmonds, Washington on April 18. This is wrong in so many ways. A week ago I was mowing the lawn in 78 degree weather without a cloud in the sky. I'd say our weather is officially screwy.

I know that the theory of global warming doesn't mean we'll all get tropical temperatures and a tan. I understand at some level that melting ice caps dump freezing waters into warmer waters which in turn cool the air and create colder temperatures in some areas that weren't used to it.

It just all seems so topsy turvy. I mean April showers are supposed to bring May flowers and Mayflowers are supposed to bring Pilgrims. What are we supposed to say now? April snow flurries bring May worries?

I suppose the good thing is that when it snows here, people drive less which reduces the emissions that create the greenhouse effect and cause global warming.

Ironic isn't it?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Achealy's Heel


I had another ephiphany today. One of my downfalls as a writer...and as a person in general...is my adversion to criticism. I don't take it well. I absorb it and dwell on it obsessively. And too often my reaction to it is to projectile vomit right back at whoever is providing me with the criticism.

So I go out of my way to try and do everything right so I can avoid criticism and the emotional anquish it causes me. And since no one can do everything right (except in their own head) I still get criticized. And I take it even harder since I go out of my way try and avoid it by doing the right thing.
This makes my life quite challenging at times.

This ephiphany came after readying Kat's blog post about writer's groups and what other people's experience has been with them. It became crystal clear to me when I tried to formulate a response to that question, that I avoid writer's groups and creative writing classes like the plague because I can't stand criticism. My response when someone tells me how they would have written some passage I've written is generally visceral: "Well good thing I'm not you, then, isn't it?"

When I was younger, I used to think I didn't like criticism because it was always unfounded. I would do extremely complicated mental gymnastics to justify my rightness even in the face of evidence to the contrary. If someone couldn't see the genius in what I was doing or saying, then they were an idiot. As I've aged, I realize that isn't a position that endears you to people. But it is a hard habit to break. It is so much easier to always be right and know everyone else isn't.

Though now that I know that I'm not always right, I am facing this crisis of confidence wondering if I ever was right and ever will be. I realize rationally this isn't any more realistic than thinking I'm always right. I imagine, though, that it is an offshoot of my theory that the older I get, the less I know.

So where does this all leave me? I'd like to be able to accept constructive criticism (an oxymoron in my book) without wanting to shove it back down the critic's pie hole. I want to be able to put it in perspective. I also want to be able be realistic about myself. I can't always be right and I can't always be wrong.

BTW, I'd tread lightly if you have the urge to question something I just wrote here, asshole.

Whoops.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Middle aged cool


One of many things I notice about being 50 is that it isn't easy being cool. It is easy to look stupid (especially if you are trying to look cool at 50). People just don't think of you as cool once you've been invited to join the AARP.
Actually I think it is impossible to try and look cool at any age. To look cool, you have to be cool first.

I think there are some cool looking old guys. I've always thought Sean Connery was cool (except when he had a ponytail in a couple of movies). Pierce Brosnan is cool. Most of the James Bond dudes stayed cool except for Roger Moore. Maybe it's the tuxedo's they wear. It's hard not to look cool in a nice tuxedo (note I said nice).
Paul Newman used to be cool before he started playing geriatric roles. Robert Redford is kind of cool, though he spent way too much time in the sun (I suppose that is why they had him play the Sundance Kid...ha, ha, ha). Harrison Ford is kind of cool as Indiana Jones, but he needs to lose the stud earring. I have pierced ears, too, but I realize that I would look stupid if I wore an earring at this point in my life. Because I would be trying to look cool.

None of the Rolling Stones are cool, especially Keith Richards. If they weren't famous, they'd be sitting at a bus stop muttering to themselves with urine running down their pantlegs. Nor are any of the other former heavy metal band rockers cool. No one over the age of 28 can pull off being called Slash, Boss or Boner. No one with a ponytail and Birkenstocks is cool. No one wearing a Speedo is cool. No one driving a Porsche, Corvette or Trans Am is cool.

It is hard for a man over 50 to be fashionable and cool because fashion is for the young. If I try to dress GQ or Details, I would look pitiful. Plus they don't make those clothes in middle aged men sizes. And clingy polyester is just wrong for most body types except Rob Thomas. Most of us older guys opt for Aloha shirts because we think they hide our bellies. Deep down I know that Aloha shirts are just maternity wear for middle aged men and they hide nothing. It's more like putting a shower curtain over an elephant.

Each older generation also thinks the younger generation dresses like crap. When we were on our cruise, there were some young 20-somethings walking about with what I thought were 80s throwback looks. One sported a mohawk and the rest had various stages of long stringy hair. One idiot wore a Yoda backpack thing on his back. I essentially wanted to do a General Patton on the kid and dope slap him across the Promenade Deck. But then I saw the older guys in their Speedos, black socks and ponytails walzing around with buckets of beers and I had to stand down.

I guess bad taste is just bad taste.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Survivor

I surpassed the 700 mark in blog posts a few posts ago. There was no fanfare or confetti. That is the way with blogs. Sometimes they are loud and boisterous. Sometimes they are quiet as a tomb. To survive in them you must be that bug on the windshield that hangs on despite the wipers and the wind.

Blogs are like life. Sometimes you just have to hang on.

I have never really been one of those overly social bloggers. It mirrors my life in that I have never been one of those overly social people. So I have a hard time engaging in the game that requires that you constantly read and comment on other people's blogs in order for them to read and comment on yours. I despise memes, avoid weekly rituals of nearly naked Thursdays and I don't post cartoons or jokes. I don't like lists and I refuse to ever again take part in any experimental blog communities that use the word freedom in vain.

The cheese stands alone. So does the vanilla ice cream cone it seems (inside joke).

But I digress.

I really am shooting for that 1000 post mark in my blog world. I realize there won't be any fireworks or parades for it either. But I do believe there will a little happy dance of my own to celebrate the milestone.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Beacon

Isn't this photo inspirational? Doesn't it just scream at you at you some cliche like, "See the light...see the light...see the light?" Well, I took it! And I enhanced it a bit with yes, you guessed it, Photoshop. Because it was taken in bright afternoon sunlight when we were sailing away from the L.A. World Cruise Center and the beacon wasn't on.

Isn't technology amazing? I've created a kind of digital black velvet painting. That's what I call art. And a pity that it is only digital. Because damned if I wouldn't hang this puppy on my wall.

Of course that is kind of what I've done. I've hung it on the virtual wall of Dizgraceland where I can enjoy it anytime I want. And the beauty of digital art is that even if someone steals it, it is still there.
Now that is inspiring.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tequila

What the cluck?

I have always been fond of random things. Mexico is a good place for random things. I have learned not to question what most Gringos might label as illogical when visiting Mexico. After all, we are the ones paying thousands of dollars to invade their coastal towns to fry our skin while we snap picture after picture of anything that moves or doesn't move.


There isn't much to be proud of when you are an American tourist in Mexico. They are loud, obnoxious and definitely ugly. They haggle over everything and even try to talk the poor little girls selling Chicklets down on their price. I think the t-shirt vendors have the right idea when dealing with American tourists. They let themselves be talked down to three shirts for $10 smug in the fact that they are still making a $9 dollar profit and the shirts will shrink so much after the first washing that only the family miniature poodle will be able to squeeze into it (if the poodle will be caught dead in a "One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor" t-shirt).

But I digress. I snapped the photo above while frying my skin in the town square of Cabo San Lucas. We'd paid a kid to cart us into town with his bicycle. It is the Mexican version of a rick shaw. He charged us $10. A cab would have only cost of $6. I am a shrewd man with money while on vacation.

Anyway, the town square contains a gazebo, the carcass of a dead whale and this bush trimmed to look like a chicken or dove or some kind of bird. I think it was quite clever actually. So I did what all Americans do. I took a picture of it. Tess refused to pose by it. Enya-Maria ignored it completely. She is not old enough to appreciate art.

The real highlight of Cabo is a visit at 10 a.m. (on a Sunday no less) to Cabo Wabo for my traditional shot of Cabo Wabo tequila. I'll download the video later. This was our third visit to Cabo Wabo. It is a night club owned by aged rocker Sammy Hagar famous for his hit song, "I can't drive 55." He should put out a new song called, "I can't afford to drive 55." Anyway, the place is famous for some reason for Cabo Wabo tequila and t-shirts.

Oh, we also stopped at Hard Rock for a traditional Mexican lunch before catching a cab back to the dock and our tender for the cruise ship. I never knew hamburgers and potato skins were a Mexican dish. But now I have a Hard Rock shot glass from Cabo to prove I've been there.

Our final stop was the market at the cruise terminal where I'm sure you can really get the best prices. I bought a larger silver chain and a hat that says Cabo San Lucas (and Pacifico Beer). The chain really looks cool when I'm doing my Al Pacino impression from the movie Scarface.

That about sums up our trip to Cabo. I love cultural experiences.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fru Fru Drinks

After an eight-day cruise with a toddler and my pregnant wife, you'd think I'd have lots to write about. But for the life of me, I just haven't felt like writing. I even checked out this book from the cruise ship library called Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul. It was chock full of inspirational crap by writers that was supposed to inspire all of us failed writers to keep writing. All I could think reading it was that it is always easy to be inspirational when you are successful. Plus I kept getting distracted by Jerry Seinfeld's Bee Movie that was playing on the postage stamp sized television in our postage stamp "mini suite."

I even had my laptop with me on the cruise. But it cost 45 cents a minute to use the Internet, so I used that as a justification not to blog.

I find lots of excuses these days not to write...turning 50, becoming a father (twice in less than a year), the writer's strike (solidarity my brothers), clipping my fingernails, clipping my toenails, staring off into space...the usual things. Again, it isn't that I haven't got things to write about. After all, they teach you in those creative writing classes that you need to have experience to write about before you can write. And I have 50 years of experience now. Trouble is, I feel as though it has all been written about.

I also feel like complaining a lot. For example, I ordered a new camera online to take on the cruise. It was a Canon Rebel XT digital SLR. I was sick of my current digital camera's delay of about a second from between the time you pushed the shutter and the photo was captured. The Rebel is supposed to take four frames per second. This is especially crucial when you have small children you are trying to photograph.

Anyway, I ordered this camera from a place called Broadway Photo in New York. They had the cheapest price anywhere on the Web and I felt pretty smug that I was getting a bargain and not having to pay sales tax. I placed the order and then got this e-mail from them that I needed to contact their customer service department to confirm the order. I thought this was odd. I called and the "customer service" rep proceeded to confirm my order and hard sell me on a bunch of accessories that jacked the price up to almost double before I could get off the phone. I am the sucker PT Barnum was always talking about.

The camera arrived three days before the cruise along with all the crap I didn't really need to go with it. I charged the battery and popped it into the slick looking new camera. I popped off three shots and it stopped working. Broadway Photo doesn't deal with defective merchandise despite their "Complete Satisfaction Guarantee." They only take things back if you haven't opened or used them. Any problems with the actual product has to be dealt with by the manufacturer. I had to pay $17.70 to ship the stupid camera to Canon for a warranty repair the day after I got it. Needless to say I didn't have it for the cruise. And Broadway Photo (may they experience jock itch for eternity) never even responded to any of my complaints.

But I digress. The cruise itself was my 16th cruise. It was my third on Norweigan Cruise Lines. And I have to say it was one of the worst cruises I've ever been on (the second worst cruise I had ever been on was my second cruise on Norweigan). Oh, the ports were fine and the weather was great. But it was the worst food I've ever had on a cruise ship. I had better food when I was in college living in a dorm.

As I mentioned, the cabin was miniscule even though it was billed as a suite. The bed was like sleeping on the floor. And Norweigan Cruise Lines wins the prize for the most expensive drinks and figuring out every way possible to get as much money out of you as possible once you are on board. I am suprised they didn't charge for toilet paper. They do provide complimentary hand sanitizer throughout the ship (including the elevators). Even my daughter began holding out her hands everytime we passed one of the dispensers. She still got sick (which led to a $142 charge to visit the ship's doctor).

Norweigan is extremely proud of their "Freestyle Cruising." Their marketing hype says this means you can do anything you want when you want. In actuality it means you spend a lot of time in line waiting to eat, get off the ship and do just about anything because nothing is organized. It should be called "Chaotic Cruising Without Any Semblance of Class." Even the formal night is optional. I was one of about three guys (not counting the waiters in the main dining room) wearing a tux.

Freestyle Cruising attracts freestyle cruisers. I've never seen so many guys in shorts wearing black socks with sandals in my life. And these same guys are also carrying around buckets of beer shaped like football helmets so they can get six beers for the price of five (and a free baseball hat or Red Stripe t-shirt). It was about 50 degrees out the last day of the cruise when we were sailing back to Los Angeles and these guys were walking around with their buckets of beer at 10 a.m. waiting for the grill to open up on deck so they could chuck down some dogs and burgers.

But I digress. I really don't feel like writing.