Thursday, May 28, 2009


Surprising as it may be, there are aspects of my life that I don't feel like discussing in a public place such as this. The dominating aspect lately, unfortunately, has been an overpowering sense of despair. Since this is not something I feel like inflicting on others, I've decided to take an extended break from this site. Not permanent, at least, I don't think so, but for at least a month, maybe longer. I can't say I won't be back on occasion, but I can't say I will, either.

For now, let me express my gratitude to all my regular readers (both of you!) and leave you with the words of one of my personal heroes, the late Phil Ochs:

Hello? Hello? Hello?
Is there anybody home?
I've only called to say
I'm sorry.
The drums are in the dawn
And all the voices gone
And it seems that there are no more songs...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009



I said, what's the matter?

"Nothing. Why?"

You're distracted. You're barely here.

"No, it's nothing, I was just..."


"Maybe I've been hurt too many times, or maybe it's too hard to commit to anything, or believe in anything, but...I'm not sure I'm ready for this."


"A relationship."

Is that what we have?

"No. Not yet. But it's what you want. Isn't it?

I don't...It would be nice if one developed, but we can't force anything to happen if it's not going to happen. For now, we're just dating.

"Yeah, but why date if you don't want it to lead anywhere?"

So what you're saying is, you don't see this leading anywhere.

"Into anything serious? No."

Did you ever? I mean, we've been seeing each other for over a month. Did it ever have potential, or was it just...whatever it is now?

"Yeah, I thought...I don't know."

Is it the age thing?

"Maybe a little. But not really...I just see you more as a friend."


"What's that supposed to mean?"

Let's just say I've heard the old "let's just be friends" routine before.

"But what's wrong with being friends?"

Because you don't really mean it. And even if--

"I do! I do mean it. I think we'd be really great friends."

And even if you do, it doesn't matter, because it won't work out. I've seen the pattern, I know how this works. Look, we both know I'm not Mister Excitement. There's no thrill to me, no hint of danger, nothing reckless or crazy. I'm a Nice Guy. It's my curse.'s funny. Do you remember what I said when we first met?

"No. You said a lot of things."

You told me your horror stories, of all the guys who had fucked you over, and I said I'd never do that, I'm a Nice Guy. But I also said girls never fall for the Nice Guys--

"--And I said sometimes they do."

But I knew you wouldn't.

"So how come you didn't run away then?"

Because I hoped I was wrong.

"I really do like you. You know that, right?"

Yeah. Maybe. I don't know.

"We really could be friends."

We'll see. I doubt it. I mean, I'm always gonna have a soft spot for you, I'll always think of you fondly. But...We both know it was just a passing thing. No point in trying to turn it into something else. Best to just say goodbye. But a friendly goodbye, at least. We're not angry, we're not throwing things.

"That's a first for me."

Well, at least I've done something for you.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Today is Memorial Day, but it's not like I need a federally-mandated holiday to remind me of lost loved ones. Sometimes, I feel as though I dwell too much among the dead, remembering the past with a fondness I can't seem to bring to the present. Childhood memories of being schlepped from one cemetery to another, laying flowers for relatives I never knew have been replaced by paying tribute to those I knew so well, and will never see again.

In 1975, my brother Keith helped me over come the sadness of the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year by taking me to a movie he'd already seen and loved, The Return Of The Pink Panther. It was the first Peter Sellers movie I'd ever seen, and as I've said here so many times, Sellers remains my all-time favorite actor. This clip is in memory of Keith, who understood my tastes better than I did.

It was simple: Dad liked country music. I hated it with a passion. He'd listen to it on the radio, he'd watch Hee-Haw every Friday night, it was the only type of music he seemed to understand. It took me way to long to realize dad was right all along, as Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash will prove.

I've posted this clip before, but really, it represents everything you need to know about Mom. She loved A.A. Milne and Jim Henson, because she found them to be silly and gentle and infinitely wise, but always with just a hint of melancholy. Much like her.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Crippling depression has come to visit recently, and I haven't felt like writing, or doing much of anything. I thought of staying away from this site for a spell, or even shutting it down, since no one wants to read the ramblings of a guy in a downward spiral. (Unless there's some kind of inspiring triumph-over-adversity ending, which seems unlikely in the present case.)

Anyway, so as I was saying: Untold misery, dark thoughts, scary corners of the mind. Then I watched some Mystery Science Theater 3000, and...well, I can't say the clouds magically parted and sunshine kisses my every move, but at least I laughed. Although, really, is laughter really the appropriate response to Tom Servo's plight? The poor little fella just wants to be kissed!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


The words "unspeakably awful" get tossed around quite a bit here (okay, not that often, but I'm trying to make a point), but perhaps they should be reserved for things that truly deserve the description, like a Dick Cheney TV interview or--shudder--this:

I'm not going to the obvious and suggest this is a thorough and despicable violation of Conan Doyle's great creation. It is, of course, but the man's work has been adapted badly so many times, we should be used to it by now. (If the author's reputation could survive Irwin Allen's 1960 version of The Lost World, which featured the overpowering combined charisma of David Hedison and Jill St. John, it can even survive Robert Downey, Jr.'s shaky accent.)

The real question here is, Why? Why call it Sherlock Holmes if it has nothing to do with the character? Why does Jude Law still get high-profile gigs even though none of his movies have been hits? And why did some studio functionairy somewhere decide that what America was really in the mood for was two-fisted Victorian action?

In a way, this trailer reminds me of one from a decade or so ago. An American star barely managing an English accent, a desperate attempt to start a franchise nobody needs, a storyline wildly at odds with the nature of its characters--all here, just like in Sherlock Holmes.

Still, one advantage Sherlock Holmes already has over The Avengers--no tag at the end promoting a soundtrack album. Sugar Ray? Man, I don't miss the nineties at all...

Monday, May 18, 2009


Two days into being another year older, at an age when one becomes inclined to take stock of one's place in life, I still feel less than contemplative. Yet I had a bit of, well, an epiphany as I drove down a lonely country road yesterday, listening to the NPR program Speaking Of Faith.

Not a show I listen to regularly, or at all, partly because of my cynical aversion to all things faith-based, but mostly because the program tends to have a typical public radio touchy-feeliness, a vaguely New Age approach to all the world's religions, suggesting they're all basically the same, ignoring the more unpleasant aspects of all of them while proffering them as a feel-good panacea for life's problems.

Which is basically what this particular installment did, but in a somewhat more arresting way than usual. This hour was devoted to essays from listeners explaining how their faith has allowed them to weather the current financial crisis, and even larger personal issues. People spoke of their ability to sustain themselves emotionally and mentally despite job loss, homelessness, even catastrophic illness.

Their voices sounded so serene, so...calm. Me, I'm a bundle of anxieties. I couldn't possibly sound calm, because I never am. And I wondered, as I observed the dark gray clouds rolling in from the west, why it's so hard for me to relax. And I had the standard knee-jerk response: Could it be a lack of spirituality?

But that depends on definitions. If spirituality is something we come to strictly through affiliation with one of the world's accepted faiths--Judeo-Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, what have you--then true, I'm sadly lacking. Maybe I'm just too hard-headed, or too much the rationalist, but I can't make the leap of faith necessary to believe in God as centuries of cultural tradition depict Him. Everything I've ever believed in has either been revealed as a lie or otherwise become upended; why should I believe in something that can't even be proven true?

I'm an agnostic, though, not an atheist. I don't believe, but I don't disbelieve. Which is missing the point, I suppose, but surely it is better to question than to merely accept. And sometimes the questions almost seem to provide their own answers: The changing of seasons, night's transformation into day, the moon's pull on the tide, the ability to grow life-sustaining foods from mere dirt, the ability of life forms to adapt to their environment. The very existence of these things seems...miraculous.

There is, however, a capricious side to this natural order, and to it we sometimes ascribe motivations where none exist. Tsunamis can end hundreds of thousands of lives all at once, tornadoes destroy homes and livelihoods, diseases kill without mercy. We wonder why these things happen, but there is no Old Testament-style justice being meted out, or any larger meaning at all. It is simply the way things are, earth and nature moving to their own rhythms, which are beyond our understanding.

We're mortal, then. Our time here is finite, both are individual lives and the life of our species. And that's fine. I acknowledge that, accept it, even, in my own way, celebrate it. This, perhaps, is a reflection of my spiritual side. To so many of faith, our life here is merely the portal to the next world, but what if this is it? Whatever else I do, however uneventful my existence, I never take a single day for granted. And if I spend too much time worrying, if I rage repeatedly against the machine instead of taking time to relax, maybe that's just my attempt to make my mark in my limited time, to leave a trace of my existence, to say, by God, I lived.

Friday, May 15, 2009


A bad week so far, starting with sharp, inexplicable back pain, continuing with painful side effects from the very meds intended to combat the pain, and topped off with vomiting and diarrhea.

Oh, plus I turn forty-four today.

Which means...nothing, probably. After all, I've spent the last few weeks romping with a woman young enough to be my daughter. Is that a desperate attempt to hang on to my youth, or some sort of proof that age doesn't matter? And whatever the ultimate resolution of this little episode, it seems likely to play out as all others in my life have, with a definite sell-by date. Not that I have particular reason to think this is so, it's just how things seem to go for me romantically.

But then, at this age, there's a certain awareness of endings. Not to sound morbid, but how much time is left? Realistically, a few decades maybe? My folks both died in their seventies, and why should I believe myself likely to break that curse? I don't take particularly good care of myself, and while I laugh often, I'm also plagued by inexplicable (and occasionally, all-too-explicable) anxieties, which I feel pecking away at my cardiovascular system, waiting for the perfect time to lead me into a full-blown stroke. The only strange thing is, it hasn't happened yet.

Eh. This all sounds rather morbid, or perhaps simply maudlin. And not remotely celebratory. Then again, I confess I'm not in a celebratory mood. But I'm not in a bad mood, really, or a particularly dark one. I'm trying my best not to look backward or forward, to live in the moment, whatever it may bring. This particular moment finds me rather pensive, but that's not to say this moment will linger. I have so many more, today, tomorrow, the rest of my life. Some will be unbearably sad, some will be overflowing with joy.

And others will be like this, moments spent killing time, wondering when the rest of my life begins.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Stumbled to the bathroom at 3 AM on Monday morning, when I was all of a sudden overcome by a crippling pain just below my right shoulder. It was the most intense pain I've ever felt in my entire life, and I've broken both feet.

My sister had to take me to the ER, since I couldn't drive myself. (I could barely walk, actually.) After x-rays, an EKG, a CT scan and several different attempts at giving me pain meds, they decided it wasn't anything life-threatening--no blood clotting, nothing to do with my lungs--and was most likely a displaced rib. So what would I do about it? Nothing, acording to the attending doctor. I'd just have to ride it out, but the pain should only last a day or two.

To ease the pain, they gave me Hydrocodone, which explains my absence from this space yesterday, since I was tripping big time, and not in a remotely pleasant way. I still feel like crap this morning, top tell you the truth, but hey, at least my back isn't hurting.

Usually, I'd try to make this description of things more entertaining, but hey, I'm incredibly tired and cranky. So for entertainment purposes, here's that international smash hit The Words Get Stuck In My Throat from the romantic classic War Of The Gargantuas. Weird, huh?

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Tradition dictates that I fall back on a clip job for the weekend, and I was thinking I wanted some kind of campy musical clip, which automatically made me think of Shatner, but I refuse to do anything which could be construed as promoting that stupid new Star Trek movie. (Actually, I would have no idea whether it's stupid or not, since I haven't seen the damned thing, but it's a well-known fact that Star Trek is crap, and adored only by helpless nerds. Star Wars fans, on the other hand, are totally cool. Heh.)

So thinking of possible bad music naturally made me think of inexplicable 60s screeching sensation Mrs. Miller, but the only actual clip (as opposed to a music-and-photo montage) I could find was this, and it's just...weird. Also, painful. Very, very painful.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Spent the night with Jessica, which was great and...yet I haven't written much about her.

Which is odd, if you're a long-time reader around here. Many times, this site has been devoted to nothing but rapturous praises or bitter denunciations of whoever the inamorata of the moment might be, and even posts having nothing whatsoever to do with my love life would be marked by references to whatever was going on in my heart and head.

(And most likely other body parts as well, but such filthy, filthy business doesn't get mentioned much. Maybe it should? Maybe if this site turned into a full time delivery system for true tales of ribaldry and debauchery, I'd actually generate some comments. Not that this ever-lengthening parenthetical aside is a blatant appeal for comments or anything, but seriously, I have no idea if anyone is even reading this thing anymore. StatCounter tells me my "project" is "full"--the potential double entendre here is so obvious, even I can't bring myself to utter it--and attempts to increase the size of the project--snicker--have been unsuccessful. Most likely, I'm just computer illiterate, but the point is, I currently have no way of tracking my stats. I could be getting mad hits like I was Rod Carew--How out of date are my pop culture references? Track back the number of years since the release of Ill Communication to find out for yourself. It's fun and educational!--and I'd never know. So if you're a long-time or short-term visitor to this site, feel free to comment. Or don't, fine, I don't care. It's not like my feelings will be hurt or anything. Sob, sob.)

So anyway...what was I saying? Oh, right: Jessica. I'm having a great time hanging out with her, and as far as I know, the feeling is mutual, but the thing is, I don't really feel much like talking about it. Better to experience than describe it, you know? Sure, when and if the whole thing falls apart (the eternal optimist, that's me), there will be many a tearful post-mortem, but until then, I'm electing to do something kinda rare in the blogging world: I intend to keep my private life private.

The point (finally!) is: If days go by without any updates here, just assume I'm out having fun. Or recovering from said fun, whichever.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


The cable network TV Land first went on the air in spring of '96. My cable system initially only aired it in hour blocks once or twice a week, alternating with samples of other start-ups of the time like The Cartoon Network. I watched it for the reruns of Hill Street Blues, which turned out to be far less interesting than it seemed in its initial run, but mostly I watched for the commercials.

In its fledgling period, TV Land went on the air without sponsors. Instead, the commercial breaks during the shows were filled with what they called Retromercials, old advertisements from the sixties and (mostly) seventies. In those pre-YouTube days, these things were not so easily available, and one of the frequently-played ads hit me where I lived.

It's not that I had great memories of Ramblin' Root Beer; I never tried the stuff. In fact, I'm not even sure I remembered this ad specifically. But something about it--the faux-folksy jingle, the seventies signifiers like Annie and roller disco, the non-ironic cheerfulness of the whole thing--conjured a very specific time and place, memories of a time when TV viewing was happily shared by the entire family, cocooned happily in our little place in the world, with me in junior high, convinced somehow that this perfect time would last forever.

I was thirty when TV Land debuted, when I taped an episode of Hill Street Blues specifically to catch the Ramblin' Root Beer ad, to watch it over and over, desperately trying to remember the innocence it seemed to represent. It seemed like a transmission from another, better life.

What did I know? 1996 itself seems like a million years ago. I wasn't married then, much less divorced, and both of my parents were alive. Chronologically, it was only thirteen years ago, but it seems like a whole other life, one I can remember in bits and pieces, but never as a whole.

And I'm not nostalgic for it, not really, or even for those halcyon days of early adolescence, or any other time. Oh, I still look back at those times fondly, but the past no longer has a grip on me, it doesn't--can't--mean what it once did. If I let memories embrace and define me, I could never function in the here and now. It's so much easier now--I watch this commercial and let it go, as I do with so much of my past, a brief reverie, then gone forever, a moment out of time.

Monday, May 04, 2009


Sitting through the trailer for a new Sandra Bullock romantic comedy when halfway through, something odd happens. Her typically cutesy-eccentric character is revealed as a dangerous neurotic, trailed by a literal manifestation of her assorted personal demons. People around her die for reasons she can't quite understand, torn to shreds by this creature whose existence she doesn't, or perhaps can't, acknowledge. But she'd better come to grips soon, for the ultimate target is Bullock herself, targeted for destruction by her own intense self-loathing.

I made all that up, of course. My imaginary movie might have been halfway interesting, and I think it's safe to say Bullock will never appear in a movie of any interest whatsoever. She's the queen of the prefab romcom, making even Kate Hudson's string of notoriously awful starring vehicles look like serious studies of the human heart by comparison.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

I mean, seriously: Could these look any worse? Every plot development, every character arc can be safely predetermined, the movies as stultifyingly predictable as the music deployed in these trailers. (I'm guessing even Randy Bachman himself never wants to hear Takin' Care Of Business again in this lifetime.) Yeah, there's some level of comfort to be found in formula entertainment, but that's only if the formula is executed with a certain flair. But these are clearly cases of hackneyed premises unfolded with grim determination, unbearable agony for all but Bullock's staunchest fans, assuming she still has any.

Unfortunately, I've dated women with copies of both Miss Congeniality and Miss Congeniality 2, so I know all too well that this fan base exists. I just don't know why.