Sunday, November 30, 2008

Man Love

What a strange cultural phenomenon “Man Love” is. Generally, it denotes a heterosexual male having a close bond or exaggerated appreciation for another heterosexual male. But I like to apply it in the sports world, because it’s funniest when applied there.

We’ve all met sports fans with huge cases of “Man Love” (And by no means am I trying to be gender specific here; this is just a typically male sentiment.). No matter what their player does or doesn’t do, it’s not their fault. That player is perfect.

They’re the fans who wear Trent Dilfer jerseys without the slightest hint of irony. There’s nothing wrong with Trent Dilfer. I mean, the guy won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. But obsessing over a guy who was a “serviceable” player and ignoring that very fact is a symptom of “Man Love.”

My father has a case of “Man Love” for Brian Boyle of the Los Angeles Kings and I’ve been trying to figure out a way of breaking him out of it. Not that there’s anything massively wrong with Brian Boyle, but, well, let me explain…

Brian Boyle is a 6’7”, 250 lb center who’s played in a few dozen games for the Kings in the last two seasons. Usually, what happens is that he plays a few games, gets benched, and eventually gets sent back down to the minors.

Why? For a guy as large as Brian Boyle, he sure gets knocked around a lot. He’s slow. He’s inept in the defensive zone. He’s surprisingly weak. So, what does the guy have going for him that’s even allowed him to get this far? He’s got a pretty good shot and, well, he is huge.

But those two attributes are completely useless in the NHL without a good foundation to stand on. And my father seems blind to this. He thinks that if Brian Boyle played on the top line and skated a good 20 minutes a game, he’d be the best player out there. This is not the case yet. Brian Boyle needs to learn down in the minors and actually develop his skills. I think the guy will be a great player someday. Just not right this minute.

But that is just too much information to break through the shield of “Man Love.” My father just loves Brian Boyle and I just have to accept that when he tells me the Kings are idiots for playing him on the fourth line or teaming him with x player or y player. And at least he’s not a Trent Dilfer fan.

Plush With Anticipation

We’re packed like sardines in a tin can at Rabobank Arena, so I’m holding Jennifer and Denise’s stuffed animals to make room for them to sit comfortably. Although, it’s more like I’m cuddling their animals. The new friends I met tonight are having a little laugh at my expense, but that’s okay. It’s all for a good cause, and I don’t mind being laughed at when I’m squeezing a polar bear, a moose, and a panda.

We’re anxiously awaiting the first Condors goal. When that happens, not only is our local ECHL team on its way to another victory (Actually, they‘re not), but our stuffed animals are on their way to center ice. Close to 9,000 fans are in attendance for Teddy Bear Toss night, which means there are a lot of people getting excited at the prospect of chucking stuffed animals into the air.

Then, at 14:28 of the first period, forward Dale Reinhardt buries a shorthanded breakaway goal and the stuffed animals begin to fly. We’re in the upper section, so we have a fantastic view of the carnage. There are cats flying into the Idaho Steelheads’ bench. There are dogs catching themselves on the netting behind the goals. And there are some teddy bears so large the kids trying to carry them off the ice are falling over under their weight.

All told, it’s a complete mess. A glorious mess. There are thousands and thousands of stuffed animals on the ice now, ready to go to underprivileged kids in the area for the holidays. Everyone in the stands is happy; giddy almost. The ice is colorful cacophony of plushies. And I feel oddly satisfied about the whole thing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

This one doesn't want to sleep...

...judging by his giant eyes.

A Week Of Moments

Life is complicated, right? The last seven days have been a symphony of impediment. That which stands in the way of my happiness is an amalgam of sources, from the fear and paranoia of others to my own sense of self-worth (Non-existent, for those of you curious). I’ve watched friends crumble, family bicker, and relationships rise and fall and rise so fast that I can barely keep track of where I stand at any given minute.

It started with a scare. My son being rushed to the hospital over a terrible fever that wasn’t going away. Eventually, it went away, with the help of a few doctor visits and some care. But that experience truly changed how I look at a few things. I can’t take certain things for granted and I can’t rely on myself as a proper judge of character. I’ve made terrible decisions throughout my life because I believed people.

It continued with a series of adventures with a new friend. What does that mean? Where is it going? Am I being crazy? Am I moving too fast? I mean, it’s a well-known fact that I’m borderline stupid when it comes to matters of the heart.

There was a Kings game with my best friend. My son was there, too, but with his mother. We went to the same game independently of each other. After the game, my son thought he saw me leaving the building and freaked out. It wasn’t me. I felt so terrible. He just wanted to see his father again before the night was through.

Night after night, there was carousing with friends new and old. Was I avoiding my real life? What exactly is my real life? I drink constantly, so what’s so different about doing it at someone else’s house, or at the bar? I really don’t know. I’m a trainwreck, but that’s just me, isn’t it? I guess I have to want to change in order to change. But do I really need to change?

Thanksgiving was a nightmare. My family was being… my family. My sister’s friend was being… my sister’s friend. I guess I don’t like being insulted on holidays. I don’t appreciate family members being rude to me for no reason other than to satisfy whatever high horse they’re on.

Early this morning? Watching my best friend tear herself apart over something I can’t really help with. I don’t have the correct answer. I wish I had the answer sheet, but I don’t. I guess that’s why no one can really help me either. It’s easier in theory than it is in practice…

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hobo Island 2?

The housing crash really hit my neighborhood hard this summer. Just about every fourth house in Tyner Ranch (Ha!) is either abandoned, for sale, or for rent. The rather angry folks who lived behind my house moved out a few months back, taking their 80 angry chihuahuas with them.

I haven’t seen a realtor or any prospective tenants visit the house the entire time it’s been on the market. But a few weeks ago, I noticed that one of the windows in the back of the house was wide open with the screen taken off. I figured it was an accident by a cleaning crew and didn’t think much of it.

And then it rained. Torrential, hand-of-God, wipe Bakersfield off the map kind of raining. It was the same rain that flooded the trunk of my car. And, yes, that window was still open. I called the Homeowner’s Association of Tyner Ranch (Ha!) and told them the window was open, but no one ever came to close it.

Ever since, I’ve been hearing funny noises coming from the house. Uh-oh! We have hobos! Yep, I’m pretty sure we’ve got a group of squatters living in that house and they’re leaving that window open to get in and out. In this economy, it’s not surprising at all.

This morning, I was in the backyard, as usual, smoking my first cigarette of the day and freezing my arse off. I heard quiet voices coming from the house. Shortly thereafter, I heard the pipes running, and echoed singing. Someone was taking a shower in the house, and a cold one, I’d imagine!

At this point, I have no real plan to do anything about it. I just find it fascinating to be living in an adjunct of hobo island suddenly.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I want to be alternative, too!

My beloved Los Angeles Kings unveiled their new alternate jersey last night and I was lucky enough to be in attendance with Discotrash. Can I just say? These new jerseys are sex on a stick. I would give both kidneys for one.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Last night...

If I told you how wonderful last night was, you probably wouldn’t believe me. If I told you about this loony lady and our night on the town, you’d think I was exaggerating. If I told you just how much we drank, you’d assume we had alcohol poisoning.

But it’s all true. The Ex was, in fact, offered salvation by a “bar ministry group” at Sandrini’s. We did, in fact, find an astonishing number of suits in Guthrie’s Alley Cat. We did, in fact, hear a conspiracy theory at the VIP Lounge about Mormons from a man threatening to sue the LDS.

We did, in fact, have a lot of fun together. And I think we’ll continue to…

Friday, November 21, 2008

Excerpt 3

There are some things you should know about Bakersfield, California. I mean, yeah, there are the usual bits of information like population and stuff like that. Something like 350,000 people live in Bakersfield, which is tiny by California standards.

In a small pond like Rhode Island, we’d probably be a big fish. In California, however, we’re a guppy. Ask a person in Los Angeles about Bakersfield and they’ll laugh at you. Ask someone in the bay area about Bakersfield and they’ll look at you like a dog looks when someone’s moved his water dish.

And Bakersfield is hot. It’s not that humid hot the east coast gets and it’s not the dry heat the desert gets. It’s more of an oppressively bland heat. The kind of heat that beats people down and makes them stay in their homes their entire lives. If anyone tries to leave, they’ll melt in the sun.

But Bakersfield is good for some things. It’s as close to the beach as it’s close to the desert. It’s a few hours from NoCal and a few less hours from SoCal. In other words, you can get anywhere you really need to get in California without ever having to pick a side and stay there. I think that’s what keeps the monsters here. That and the fucking heat.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Paging Dr. ANYONE

And now, for your reading pleasure, a list of things about Kern Medical Center’s emergency waiting room that bothered me last night:

* The elderly bum who sat across from me who was mumbling and laughing to himself in the most disturbing way imaginable.

* The not-as-elderly bum who sat in a giant puddle of coffee next to me, apologized, left, came back and sat in the same puddle, and apologized again as if the puddle of coffee belonged to me.

* The fact that I’m not being facetious by calling the last two people bums. They were, in fact, homeless people hanging out in the emergency waiting room.

* That the internal temperature of the waiting room felt like 106 degrees with 92% humidity.

* The sheer number of screaming children who appeared to belong to no one.

* The sheer number of said screaming children crawling around on the very, very, very off-white floor and subsequently sticking their fingers in their mouths.

* The fact that not one single person was called into the emergency room during the hour and a half I was there.

* The combined smell of cheese and mildew that permeated the room.

* The guy singing country lyrics to his girlfriend without the slightest hint of irony.

* That I can't help but refer to the hospital as "KFC."

* That my son could have been dying and the inattentive nursing staff wouldn’t have given a crap.

* The mere fact that I was stuck there and not at some other, much nicer and more helpful, hospital.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hours Afterthoughts

So, just how did I listen to Hours for all those years? By abusing it, of course! This is the version of Hours I used to listen to all the time. If you've got all of the singles or the deluxe edition of the album, it's a snap to make. Try it out sometime!

1. Thursday's Child (Rock Mix)
2. Something In The Air (American Psycho Remix)
3. We All Go Through
4. Survive (Marius De Vries Mix)
5. If I'm Dreaming My Life
6. We Shall Go To Town
7. What's Really Happening?
8. The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell
9. No-One Calls
10. New Angels Of Promise
11. 1917
12. Brilliant Adventure
13. The Dreamers
14. Seven (Beck Mix #1)

Hour By Hour

I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of David Bowie’s Hours in 1999, which just about made my year. I was utterly thrilled to get my hands on a new Bowie record early, and coming off of two utterly thrilling releases, 1995’s Outside and 1997’s Earthling, I had high expectations.

Those expectations were dashed. Hours was slow, plodding, and (*gasp*) kind of boring. The first half of the record was filled with strained ballads and the second half was taken up by songs written for the game Omikron: The Nomad Soul (Which I played through on the Dreamcast, just because I’m a Bowie fan).

I was almost horrified by the record. The Bowie that had re-emerged in the mid-90’s as a creative force again had made a record for the middle-aged. I just didn’t get it (Completely ignoring the fact that Bowie was, in fact, middle-aged). I can’t say that I hated Hours. I mean, I still listened to thing constantly. But I couldn’t help but feel that it was a letdown.

Fast forward to 2008. I’m 9 years older and (hopefully) wiser. Admittedly, my life has gone in the crapper this year. And wouldn’t you know it? Suddenly the record makes sense to me. I gave Hours a spin in June and cried the entire way through.

“Thursday’s Child” used to drive me nuts, especially considering that it was the first single. How could Bowie choose such a meandering and downbeat song as the first single from the album? Why not “The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell?“ Why not “What’s Really Happening?“ But now? I finally understand “Thursday’s Child.” It connects with my heart in a way I’d never thought possible. I remember my childhood. I remember the good days. And I remember how it all ended.

“Survive” was another single I couldn’t really wrap my head around. It’s not that I didn’t understand it, it’s just that I didn’t feel it. I wasn’t living that life at the time, and the emotions certainly didn’t feel authentic to me. I was wrong.

So, I guess I owe Mr. David Bowie another debt of gratitude. He always shows me the way. And I like to think that he wrote Hours for me, just a decade early. He saw this coming, right?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Interview With The Pakistani Spectator

The fine folks over at The Pakistani Spectator have interviewed yours truly about The Loss Adjuster lost his mind… You can check out the interview here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Excerpt 2 (Dedicated To Rusty Hatfield)

So, I learned a few things about David Davies after a few stiff margaritas at the Mexican restaurant in the Marketplace shopping center. First off, I learned that getting Dave drunk is a good thing. The second thing I learned is that he doesn’t like being called Dave.

“Do I look like that stupid astronaut from 2001? It’s bad enough that I have the same name twice! Don’t burden me with another variation on the same pointless theme!”

Imagine this with a slur and the occasional odd pause between words and you’ve basically got our conversation.

David puts off this aura of being an ordinary unemployed computer tech. You know, the kind you’ll find playing World Of Warcraft 20 hours a day. The kind who’s never had a girlfriend. The kind who pisses off people like me because he actually knows and cares about the difference between RAM and ROM.

But David’s different. He’s got this backstory that’s a doozy. See, he used to work for some tech company up in silicon valley. A big place. One of those Fortune 500 outfits that don’t really come from Bakersfield. Apparently, they became a multi-billion dollar firm because they invented wireless networking or something like that. I don’t know, I was getting a little fucked up myself by this point.

Anyway, David’s job consisted of going to the offices of these executive guys and fixing their computers when they don’t work. I.e., he plugged the damned things in for those bozos. And that’s how things went for eight years. David plugged in computers all day and got home in time to watch Babylon 5, masturbate, and fall asleep.

But these kinds of good times don’t last forever, right? David had ambitions. A few days after the firing of David’s boss for some sort of S&M accident (he didn’t have details, and for that I was sad), he asks for his boss’ job. Having worked there a long time, he figures he’s more than qualified to tell someone else to go turn on computers all day.

Unfortunately for David, the position had already been filled. And it had been filled by an ex-girlfriend who also worked for the firm. And she was an ex-girlfriend who despises David. David was at the end of his rope. And you know what happens to a man when you give him enough rope…

He tried to hang himself, but he even failed at that. He was at his lowest point. And you know what happens to a man when they can’t go any lower… Okay, well I don’t really know what happens then, I’m not up on that kind of stuff.

Anyway, he told me that he borrowed an idea from the movie Office Space. Except, he didn’t take money in small quantities. He took metric shitload of money and ran like mad. He just didn’t get very far. David’s not really a criminal. He didn’t have a clue what to do with that much money and he had even less of a clue where to go. Word got around pretty quickly that the owner of the company, one Bill “Billy-Bob” Williams, knew that David took the money and was going to have him strung up by his cajones.

The reason word got around about this was that Billy-Bob declared this live on the local news. I guess word gets around fast when you threaten someone live on the air.

So David took off, hoping to get over the Mexican border with his cajones intact. And it was somewhere around Oildale that entropy set in. First his car ran out of gas, then his car just stopped running. The guys at the repair shop in Oildale told him to take a bus into town and stay for the night. He took the bus to the Valley Plaza mall in the heart of nearby Bakersfield and got a hotel room and the Garden Suites Inn. When he went back to the repair shop the next day, they pretended that they didn’t know him.

And so, the flypaper that is Bakersfield caught another fly.

From The Wayback Machine...

From the wayback machine, a review of The Cure’s “Bloodflowers” album written 8 years-ago for The Bakersfield Californian when I feeling a bit bitchy. Yes, I got a lot of hate mail for this.

In the early 1980's, The Cure made mopey music fun, Albert Camus cool and post-punk a viable commodity. Oh, and along the way they wrote tons of hit singles. Writing hit singles is what The Cure does best.  From the modern rock staple "Just Like Heaven" to cult favorites like "Fascination Street" and "Hot Hot Hot!!!", The Cure carved out a niche in the rock landscape.

So, what should one do when The Cure releases a new album like "Bloodflowers" (Fiction/Elektra)?  If you're a diehard fan, buy it immediately.  If your Cure collection consists of  the singles collections "Staring at the Sea" and "Galore", buy the singles.

Much like the rest of the band's output during the 1990s, "Bloodflowers" is basically a singles collection with filler. The filler here is interesting at least.  The 11-minute-plus opus "Watching Me Fall" sounds like a U2 experiment gone horribly awry. Vocalist Robert Smith sounds like he's listened to "Rattle and Hum" far too many times, hitting Bono-esque notes like they're going out of style.

"There is No If" works well as a Cure ballad, I guess, but is otherwise melodramatic and laughable.  here Smith works on his self-loathing: "If you die, you said/So do I, you said/And it starts the day you make the sign." It'll likely be released as a single, much to the enjoyment of masochists around the world, I assume.

 "39" gets my vote as the best song on the album.  Smith and company bring back a little of that old Disintegration"-era magic.  The lyrics find Smith at his most ironic: "So the fire is almost out/And there's nothing left to burn/I've run right out of thoughts? And I've run right out of words."

With rampant speculation that "Bloodflowers" is The Cure's final album (haven't their last five albums been greeted with this speculation?), "39" takes in a particularly poignant scope. “Bloodflowers" is a surprising follow-up to the relatively happy "Wild Mood Swings."  Smith seems to have fallen back into his pit of depression, much to the joy of longtime fans.  Unfortunately, the experimental spirit of "Wild Mood Swings" is gone, ultimately leaving "Bloodflowers" a mediocre effort.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Vultures Circle...

When I was younger, I used to wonder why there were always vultures circling every Costco location I’d ever been to. It wasn’t under I was older that I realized the vultures were merely acting in imitation of the humans who frequent the store. Either that, or they’re waiting for someone to actually finish off one of those 50 gallon drums of mayonnaise and keel over.

I mean, I do understand the allure of a place like Costco. As an American, capitalism isn’t completely unknown to me. “Oooh, I can save an average of 3 cents an ounce if I buy the 48 pack of Chef Boyardee Super-Cheesy Beefaroni Explosion!” It hits all of us at some point. Hell, even I once purchased a giant tub of animal crackers that I never finished.

What I don’t get is the way people act once they’re inside the front doors. It’s like walking into a room of 900 people holding hot dogs and there’s only one bottle of ketchup. Give those 900 people shopping carts big enough to make Hummer drivers blush and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what shopping at Costco is like.

Every aisle is filled with ladies in white coats handing out free samples. “Sir, this ravioli is made from the finest spinach and mozzerella. You get 6,000 raviolis per bag for $17.99 and they’re located in the aisle behind me between the jumbo boxes of chocolate chip waffles and the 128-gallon bottles of orange juice.” Only, I don’t usually hear any of this description over the sound of the stamping hooves of customers falling over each other to snatch up every last sample ravioli.

I always return home filled with exhaustion and guilt. My ankles hurt from shopping cart injuries. I’m sweaty. My stomach hurts. I smell a bit like an old refrigerator. I feel undignified. It feels a bit like really, really bad sex actually. And the regret feels about the same.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Burning the Midnight Oil

I’ve got a stack of books in my room that weighs more than my car, just waiting to be read. Yet I keep going back to the same books, over and over again. They comfort me, for no apparent reason. And it‘s strange, as these aren’t the sort of books that make many people feel good about themselves. Albert Camus’ The Stranger... George Orwell’s 1984... Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome

This week’s offender? Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. And it got me thinking… Not that I should burn the pile of crappy books I’ve read recently. It got me thinking about the burning of media in general. Like, if I could just burn all copies of certain records, maybe I could make the world a better place.

Would anyone really mind if I gathered up every Midnight Oil record, dumped them somewhere in Montana, and set them on fire?

Would it be a great travesty if no one had to read another Dean Koontz novel after I jettison the lot into space?

Would there be an outpouring of grief if every existing copy of Magnolia “magically” fell from the sky and broke upon impact with the ground?

Okay, maybe you’re a huge Midnight Oil fan who reads Dean Koontz and considers Magnolia to be their favorite film. I understand fully. I have the Labyrinth soundtrack on vinyl. Sue me. What media would you like to see just disappear tomorrow morning, and how would you like said media to be dispatched?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Baal Games...

I must drive my neighbors absolutely batty. During the daytime when I’m home alone, I play a lot of music. And I don‘t just play music; I play it loud with the windows open wide. Regardless of what I play, it’s generally music that most of my neighbors probably don’t want to hear.

Case in point: Today, I whipped out some of the old vinyl and had my own little personal David Bowie festival. There’s nothing quite like singing along with the lyrics of “Baal’s Hymn” to chase away the blues. There’s nothing the neighbors like better than “Hallo Spaceboy” played at maximum volume. There’s nothing that says “asshole neighbor” like listening to Never Let Me Down without the slightest hint of irony present.

I know I should feel bad for it, but I really don’t. If anything, I’m contributing to the cultural fiber of Tyner Ranch (Ha!). I like to imagine that some 15 years from now, there are going to be random children running around East Bakersfield with Art Brut or Jarvis Cocker t-shirts on.

And their parents will wonder, “Just where the hell did my kids hear all of this crap?”

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fighting H8

The battle against H8 didn’t end on election day. And it certainly doesn’t end in California. Next year, even more states will be voting on gay marriage and we have to do what we can to help. I’ve written a piece for a group in Portland, Maine fighting against H8 laws. Please visit their new blog and think about what you can do, not just locally, but nationally.

Some Words From California

(This piece was originally written for the blog Protest H8 Portland, ME on November 12th, 2008)

I was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, a city of 350,000 located about a 100 miles north of Los Angeles. But it's the sort of city that feels about a 1,000 miles away from anywhere progressive. Bakersfield is a bastion of conservatism. It always has been. It always will be. This colored my view of the world growing up. I was deeply confused by what I'd see on TV, or read in books. I'd read "Maurice" and have this understanding that out there in the world, there was a place where it was okay for boys to like boys and girls to like girls, even if it wasn't here. I'd watch "Starsky & Hutch" and just sort of assume that it was a tale of two cops in love. I'd listen to Morrissey records and not care if he liked boys or girls.

And living in Bakersfield, I just assumed there was something wrong with me. I was living in an environment of hate. In school, the worst thing anyone could be called was "faggot." I didn't realize that there were pockets of tolerance all around me. I was completely blind to it because I was a scared little child. Not a child frightened of being taught that homosexuality is okay. I was frightened that I really was alone in believing in equal rights for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.

In high school, one of my closest friends came out of the closet to me. And he was terrified of telling me, because he was afraid I would abandon him and shun him. In a lot of ways, he was just like me. He was scared, and he felt alone. Over the years, I met a lot of people like that. People who didn't think it was okay to speak out because they just didn't know that other people felt the same way they did. Some of them were gay, some of them were straight. But it didn't matter. The same theme applied to all of them. They were fantastic people with huge hearts who simply didn't think anyone cared.

Years passed and tolerance grew in California. It eventually got to the point where being out about your sexuality wasn't that big of a deal. And then a funny thing happened. The Supreme Court took a good, hard look at the constitution and couldn't find anything that said it was okay to discriminate against anyone who wanted to get married based on their sexual orientation. Suddenly, equal rights had arrived. And some of us began to really stick our necks out and cheer. But the state politicians were frightened, too. They didn't want it to look like they'd somehow aligned themselves with "homosexuals," so rather than send anything to a vote, they put together a proposition.

When Prop 8 was put on the ballot, a lot of those same frightened people screamed out with shock. Simply put, all Prop 8 was designed to do was add an amendment to the California state constitution declaring that marriage is only recognized between a man and a woman. Essentially, it was a bill designed to take fundamental right to happiness away from a segment of society. It was no different than denying women the right to vote. It was no different than telling blacks to sit at the back of the bus. It essentially said, "You're different, and we're going to treat you different."

But this was California. There was no possible way that a Proposition that takes rights away would pass in a state so progressive, right? Well, a funny thing happened on the way to election day. A lot of money got involved. A whole bunch of extremists gathered a whole bunch of money and fought a campaign full of lies. They blurred the issue. Suddenly, Prop 8 was about "protecting children," or "saving the tax exempt status of churches." These adverts completely ignored the fact that Prop 8 only does one thing: it keeps gays and lesbians from getting married. So, election day came and California had its say.

And that's where my hometown of Bakersfield comes into play. For every Santa Barbara or Santa Cruz, there are a dozen Bakersfields. Prop 8 passed. For all of the people thinking, "There's no way something like this could happen in California," here was proof that it can happen. And it can happen in Maine. Maine is a progressive state full of wonderful people. But there are going to be people like the "Yes On 8" folks who mistake their own personal distaste for a section of society for common law. They're going to tell lies and they're going to get away with it. That is, unless the people of Maine stand up for equal rights. Unless the people of Maine stand up and acknowledge that people are people, regardless of their sexual orientation. Please don't become another California.

Pure Nut Butters

Regular blogging to resume shortly. For now, enjoy my sack of "Pure Nut Butters" from the Farmer's Market at the Grove. And, for kicks, a lovely jar of stewed tomatoes, courtesy of Cinchy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Wanna meet me? Or Cinchy? Or The Slackmistress? Or Discotrash? Or Betheboy? Now you can! And it won't cost you more than your liver!

We're having a good old fashioned Tweetup tomorrow night at the Los Angeles Farmer's Market! Further details can be found here. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Life On The D-List in, disabled list.

In the last 12 months, I have:

-Torn a muscle in my left shoulder.
-Broken my big toe whilst kicking a vacuum cleaner.
-Sliced open my other big toe on a piece of broken glass in my kitchen.

And this morning's addition to the list?

-Stepping on another piece of broken glass in the driveway.

Apparently, I need to coat myself in Nerf.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sad Songs Are Nature’s Onions (Pt. 7)

(This is part of a long series about sad songs and how they are nature’s onions.)

Jarvis Cocker-”Disney Time”

We suffer through childhoods of watching Disney films, seeing atrocities softened with sweet songs and pastel colors. We see Princesses eating poisoned apples; we gasp in horror as Bambi’s mother dies off-screen. And when we’re adults, we might as well be dead, mindlessly watching “adult films” that amount to nothing more than the butchery of love. Jarvis Cocker’s “Disney Time” compares the two in disturbing and depressing ways.

Bonus! “Disney Time” live in Seattle!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I’ve long theorized that I will die in Texas, even though I’ve never been there before in my life. I have no real reason to think this way. It’s just that I’ve always assumed that Texas is where they take people like me to be dispatched. When the powers that be are announcing methods of fatality and get to “brick to the back of the head in Texas,” I stand up and say, “Yep, that’s me!”

But that theory is starting to feel a bit wobbly. Like, maybe that won’t be the way I make my trip to the great litter box in the sky. That’s because I’ve been to Indio, California this year. And because Ceiling Cat hates me, I’m going back next month.

Indio scares me in ways that make Bakersfield seem downright quaint by comparison. Imagine a place where nearly every inhabitant looks and acts like an ex-prisoner, failed beauty queen, or meth addict and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Indio is like. It’s hot, creepy, and full of people ready to shank me around every corner.

And I’m the next victim in line. Stephanie and I went there a few months back to visit a mutual friend. We visited her favorite bar, Neil’s. Neil’s is a country dive bar. Like, the kind you see in movies where people shoot each other a lot. You know, the kind that usually exist in the minds of those (Okay, me) afraid of flyover states?

Our friend seemed to know everyone in this bar, and she introduced us to them. And every single one of them knew who we were, either by image or reputation. I got hugged a lot. Disconcerting? Yes. Stephanie and I spent two evenings in Neil’s, miserly clutching at our drinks and making backward glances at the exit.

Somehow, we survived. But it was an execution delayed. Our friend is having a birthday in early December and she wants to spend it at Neil’s. So, I no longer think I’ll die in Texas. Now I think I’m destined to die in Indio, hit in the back of the head with a brick.

(PS. If you live in Indio, take all the above as a joke. I love your fair city. I totally want to move there. I want to stick my wenis in Indio. Seriously.)

Sticky Bun Blast!

I was driving down Rosedale Highway/Route 58 the other day towards a friend’s house, completely oblivious to my surroundings. This is nothing too particularly unusual in Bakersfield; everyone here drives without care or concern for the other people on the road.

I was passing by the Northwest Promenade shopping center when a sign caught my eye. You see, I always make sure I check the sign in front of Sonic Drive-In to see if they’ve made any weird mistakes on any given day. In the past, I lived across the street from a Sonic, and they constantly made weird grammatical errors, or left out key words or phrases from their advertising.

I’ve seen some real doozies in the past. “Try Our New Cheese!” “Want A Doctor?” “1.99 Brown Bag!” “Happy Hour Come!” But this week’s special absolutely blew me away. I nearly swerved into the center divider when I saw it:

“New! Sticky Bun Blast!”

Now maybe it’s just because I’m a boy, but when I see something called a “Sticky Bun Blast,” I immediately think of deviant sexual acts. I start to recall some of the weirder gay porn my old roommate Remington used to put on to embarrass his boyfriend in front of me. I start to think that the best idea in the world would be to pull into the drive-thru and order one, giggling, and then speed away.

I picked up my friend, and we returned the way I’d come to hit up a burger and pie place in downtown Bakersfield. Of course, I showed her the sign. She had pretty much the same reaction I did. She immediately text messaged her boyfriend, “Sticky Bun Blast!” All day, it was our mantra. Our new life philosophy, even! If something was bothering us, it was “Sticky Bun Blast!” If we were amused by something, it was “Sticky Bun Blast!”

So, imagine our disappointment later in the day when we saw an advert on the television from Sonic. “Try our new Sticky Bun Dough Blast!” It turns out that this local Sonic had forgotten the word “Dough” on the sign. And while “Sticky Bun Dough Blast” is still funny, it doesn’t have quite the same cache as “Sticky Bun Blast.”

Saturday, November 1, 2008

“Oh, hello, little Teletubby!”

It’s dark outside, and it smells like rain. It’s humid. It stinks. It’s been an unusually warm October in Bakersfield, and the consequence is a particularly muggy and unpleasant Halloween night.

My son is dressed at Tinky-Winky from the Teletubbies. He seems mildly confused as to what exactly is going on. His Grandparents are giving candy away to kids who keep ringing the doorbell. And now he’s dressed up like a character from his favorite TV show and joining them in the mucky evening air.

I’ve brought a flashlight with us. It’s a Maglite. In a pinch, it could serve as protection. I don’t need it for light. There’s enough moonlight out that the Maglite feels like more of a prop than anything. Maybe it's part of my "Dad" costume. I don’t even especially need it for protection. The streets are quiet enough. The few kids out trick-or-treating are well-protected in large groups of adults.

In fact, if it weren’t for the large numbers of houses without their porch lights on, you’d think it were any night other than Halloween.

What happened? Was Halloween called off and I missed the memo? My son’s still a bit confused. He likes meeting people and getting candy for his efforts, but the whole thing seems a bit rote. Like the few people out are doing so out of some obligation.

It’s missing the magic. Who stole the magic? Who stole Halloween?