Monday, February 28, 2005

The Central Coast’s got Nothing on Me

Nothing that they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt anyway. I’m back. Tanya and I had a great time up in Cambria, but now the vacation is over and it’s time for me to get back to doing absolutely nothing.

Thus, this post. Vacations always make me lazy, more so than usual. So, of course I have no vacation photos to share with you at this time. Maybe I’ll post some tomorrow. In the mean time, I’ll just share some recollections about the trip. Kind of like a slide show…without slides. All the excitement with none of the interest.

It rained like hell on the way up to Cambria. Luckily, that was the only rain we saw. The rest of the trip was drier than a Noel Coward play. And very sunny. While in Cambria we decided to take a visit to the Hearst Castle. Actually, it’s the other way around, but I don’t want to seem like a Hearst Castle geek. I would much rather like to seem like a small town antiquing geek.

And a Noel Coward geek.

The Hearst Castle was nice as always. It says “hi.” We went on a couple tours. They were nice. They say “hi.” We went to the beach. It was also nice. It says “eat crap and die.”

The beach doesn’t like you very much. Sorry.

After hanging out in a quite nice motel room for a couple days watching cable television, rising from the couch occasionally to tour an old house, walk on the beach or go eat something, we headed back home.

Since it was raining on the way up to Cambria, we had to forgo our side trip to Solvang. It’s a little Dutch-type town in the heart of wine country. We did however get to eat at a McDonalds in Buellton (no we didn’t get the damned split pea soup! Only in nowhere California can split pea soup become a tourist trap.).

Everyone said, “oh, you have to stop in Solvang…it’s charming.” Well, Solvang wasn’t charming. It was crowded. That’s the down-side of nice weather. It brings out everyone under 10 and over 60. But I could see how it might be charming if it weren’t so damned packed with lookie-loos.

But here’s how stupid I am. As if you needed more proof. We’re driving around Buellton and Solvang and I’m thinking “didn’t they shoot Sideways around here somewhere?” Then I saw the Hitching Post II and I thought to myself, “they had a Hitching Post II in Sideways…” Then I saw a Days Inn with a big windmill attached to it and finally put it together, “hey, they might have shot Sideways here!”

Well, they did shoot Sideways there. The Sideways Wine Tours should have given it away. But I’m not very bright. In fact, I only know that they shot the movie there now because they did a little article on it in Westways which I read when we got back.

I really liked Sideways, but evidently, so did the throngs of geriatrics that dampened my visit to a Dutch-themed tourist trap. Movies are ruining the world. But wine-snobbery probably saved me a couple bucks the other day when I refused to get out of my car and set foot into one single Solvang antique shop.

But I’m back here in the reality of Los Angeles. I can finally get a break from all those movie tourists.


Fun Fact: My rub with Oscar greatness isn’t limited to Living in LA or driving through wine country. Last year I was cast in a play. In the play with me was a guy named Matt. His dad had a nice big house, and was out of town, so we held rehearsals at his place. Turns out that Matt’s dad was out of town because he was in Louisiana producing Ray.

So I got to hang out at the house of a man who was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar last night.

And he has no idea.

Matt was also in the movie, but he wasn’t nominated for anything. Too bad they don’t have a “best fake slide guitar playing” category. He would have been a shoe-in.

Monday, February 21, 2005

It’s President’s Day

Yes, it is. It’s also Sam Peckinpah and Kelsey Grammer’s birthday.

There you go. That’s the news of the morning. Well, that and the fact that I’m not going to be updating this blog all week. Tanya and I are heading to California’s central coast for a few days. To see what the rain’s like there.

Sure, it’s not the best time to vacation in California. But I don’t see how the weather in Cambria could possibly any worse than the weather here in L.A. They just issued a tornado warning. Floods, earthquakes, mudslides, sinkholes, tornadoes, Paris Hilton and conspicuous classicism; there’s nothing like southern California.

I’ll see you all in a week or so. I hope you like the cartoon from Friday, ‘cause you’re going to be seeing it for a while. Please feel free to check out the TAM Cartoon archives while I’m out and the blog archives as well (better writing from a more careful time).

See you later. Wish us luck dodging rockslides on the PCH.


Fun Fact: California’s state song is “I Love You, California.”

Friday, February 18, 2005

I’m Not Confounding…I Just Draw That Way

The new TAM Cartoon is up!

I finished inking it when I realized something…it has the great potential to be a little confusing. That’s part of the problem with conceiving a cartoon 15 minutes before you draw and ink it. So, I thought that I would lend a hand to the old cartoon this morning and guide you through it frame by frame.

The first frame. Aptly titled, “TAM 97: The First Frame.”





Here our heroes sit. In TAM 96, they decided to come to couples counseling to help them cope with their jealousy issues. As you know, “the girlfriend” has been spending a lot of time recently with a bottle of bleach (and “the boyfriend’s” best friend) named Mr. Gnomerton. In earlier strips we learn that the Boyfriend (TAM) picked up an obsession with pinewood derby racing and building pinewood derby racers, leaving the Girlfriend all alone and in dire need of friendly companionship since, evidently, neither of them have any “real life” friends besides each other.

However, now, it seems that the Boyfriend’s given up on pinewood derby racing. Why? Because it just wasn’t all that interesting after all.

But back to the panel. They’re sitting in the “Dr’s” office awaiting their first counseling session. Another couple emerges from the office, and since it’s implied that our heroes are the next in line for head shrinking, they prepare to meet “Dr.” Freis, Jr. and get down to some serious healing.

They’re understandably nervous. Seeing a counselor can be a little intimidating after all. Besides, the couple who had the session before them doesn’t look too happy to be there.

The other couple’s names are Jake and Carlotta. Jake bounces around from job to job which makes Carlotta accuse him of being shiftless and lazy. But in reality, Jake’s childhood dream is to write pulp detective novels. Tragically, he can’t disclose this to Carlotta because of a promise he made to Carlotta’s father on his deathbed. “No daughter of mine will ever marry a lazy writer” her father said. So Jake just leaps from used car lot to used car lot, constantly being laid off because of his inability to meet sales quotas. But he knows deep in his heart that he’s no salesman. He’s a writer!

Carlotta has worked at the law firm of Case and Brown for the last 10 years. She got the job right out of high school, which, incidentally, is when she met Jake. The two fell in love quickly. But Jakes seeming ineptness for work has caused Carlotta to have to turn the summer job she got at 18 into a career. Giving up on her lifelong dream of becoming a reoccurring character in a pulp detective novel. A dream that tragically she can’t relate to Jake because of a promise she made to his mother on her deathbed. “No daughter-in-law of mine will ever be the basis for the character of a noirish vamp” his mother said. She’ll just have to file and file for the rest of eternity she figures. Longing for the day when she gets to figuratively strut through a door with a swagger that would make a monk blush and legs that go all the way to the floor.

So, now Jake and Carlotta are here in “Dr.” Freis’s office. And it’s not looking good for them. Maybe they can someday find the happiness and symbiosis that eludes them. But for now, they’ll slowly erode each other’s joy with quite loathing.

That brings us to panel 2. Titled “TAM 97: The Second Frame.”





Here’s where it gets confusing. I should really have turned this into a 4 panel cartoon. See, since frame 1, Carlotta has cleared the frame, stage left leaving behind a skulking Jake. The Girlfriend has entered “Dr.” Freis’s office and awaits the Boyfriend’s entrance so they can get to the session. The session about which the Boyfriend voiced his concern of the monetary cost in the previous strip.

The Boyfriend is also visibly nervous about the whole ordeal. He secretly feels that counseling is a “chick thing.” But, deep down, he also knows better.

Before he can enter the office, he has a brief, silent moment with Jake who is reluctant to join his wife. The Boyfriend can see that Jake is damaged, and consequently, is quietly questioning the benefits of this counseling session. Nonetheless, he’s made a commitment to his Girlfriend and he’ll see it through…for her.

Now we come to the next frame. Titled “Still Life with Shame and Vase.”





Again, the cartoon takes a confusing turn. Maybe I should have made it a 5 panel strip? I couldn’t do that. It requires a lot of small drawing and I have enough trouble drawing big.

What has happened between the 2nd and 3rd panels is that the Boyfriend and Girlfriend have started their counseling session with Jr. But about 2 minutes into the session, after the explanation about the jealousy and who the heck Mr. Gnomerton is, “Dr.” Freis began to laugh hysterically at them. Hurting their feelings and making them feel small.

To be fair here, “Dr.” Freis is a solemn man and always highly professional, but it just so happens that today is his 60th birthday. Every year on his birthday, Freis’s colleagues zing him with a practical joke. And this being his 60th, he was preparing himself for one doozy of a goof.

Unfortunately, that was the day that this hapless couple decided to receive professional help. Their mildly insane problem, coupled with “Dr.” Freis’s heightened level of mirth paranoia, left both parties a bit befuddled on this day.

The Girlfriend is left with in confused wonderment as she tries to regroup and not feel like a psychological leper. But the Boyfriend sees an opportunity to recoup his much-needed cash. He knew it was a waste of time. And since he’s got no real sense on equilibrium, as long as he gets his money back, this whole ordeal will be like it never happened.

That’s where the third panel takes up. The couple has been in the office only 5 minutes before they come back out.

I realized that this was confusing, like I said, after I inked the thing. I didn’t want to add a “five minutes later” tag. I haven’t tagged anything so far in the history of the strip. Not really. Besides, I was already taking a gamble by drawing TAM in profile at the end. One more misstep could have been fatal.

I hope that clears things up for you. I hope that I’ve helped to make sense out of a poorly conceived cartoon.

Thanks for your time,

TAM


Fun Fact: Carlotta is pregnant. But she hasn’t told Jake yet. She’s trying to decide whether or not she wants to start a family with lazy Jake or run away to Europe and never let Jake know of his child.

Her suitcase has been secretly packed and stashed under the bed for the last three weeks.


This won’t make any sense if you don’t read the post. Read the post, lazy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I Do…For Realsies This Time ~OR~ I ♥ Huckabee

Not even death will us do part, you sniping nag! Thank god for covenant marriages, huh?

The good people of Arkansas have made getting divorced even more of a living hell. Now, Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee is pushing a new type of marriage vow. One with less romance and more Johnny Cochran. Arizona and Louisiana are also into turning traditional wedding banns into red tape.

See, it seems that Arkansas has one heck of a high divorce rate. The solution? Make it damned near impossible to get a speedy and painless divorce. A covenant marriage.

On Valentine’s Day, the governor, his wife and about 1,000 other couples, with the gleam of love in their eyes, converted their ordinary, mortal marriages into super-marriages with a ceremony that contractually obligated them to seek counseling and wait for a two year cooling-off period before they could untie the knot.

How romantic!

I just made Tanya a valentine out of cut-out, colored paper. I should have given her power of attorney. That would have been really special. Chicks swoon for power of attorney.

Governor Huckabee is disgruntled with the ease at which people can obtain divorces in this country. He said, “It is easier to get out of a marriage than a contract to buy a used car.”

I would hate to be Mr. Huckabee’s used car dealer.

According to the good Gov, divorce is the main problem in American marriages. A little like saying that death causes cancer. Divorce is the result of a failed marriage, not the cause.

I understand what he’s saying. I do think that people jump into marriage too easily. To say that I’m…cautious…about getting married would be a gross understatement. But I know what getting married means. It means something to me. It’s not some kind of ideal. It’s not an idea. It’s not a gift to an unplanned baby. It’s not a device to be used to gain respect or status or legitimacy. It’s not a contract with god. God isn’t invited to sleep in my bed at night. And I haven’t seen respect and legitimacy in years.

When I get married, it’ll be on my terms. It’ll be a contract between me and my wife. And if something goes wrong with the plan…who knows. That’s my decision too.

Look, I know that no one’s forcing the Arkansas idiots to get covenant marriages. No one directly. And I do think that a good marriage takes a lot of hard work at times.

But a contract? Come on. I need to sign a legally binding piece of paper to say that I’m going to try and keep together a relationship with the woman that I married presumably because I loved her more than anyone on the face of the earth? Hopefully, I would have enough respect for my wife that if the time came that our relationship was on the rocks, I would wouldn’t need the county clerks office to remind me of my wedding vows. I would want to do something to save the marriage.

And if I didn’t want to, then why should my wife have to suffer through two more years of living with a selfish, self-centered asshole? She’s probably already suffered enough.

Yes, but no one’s forcing them to do this!

Sorry, I’m just arguing with myself a little bit.

The thing that really galls me is that this whole covenant marriage business is a response to, not only the divorce rate, but also gay marriages. Seems strange, don’t it? I don’t really know what gay marriages have to do with any of it, but I think that the anti-gay-marriage people are trying to build their defenses a little. If you’re going to preach about the sanctity of marriage you better make sure that yours is a good one. Otherwise, what the hell are you preaching about?! The idea of the sanctity of marriage?

Most of the time, unfortunately, yes.

But couples in Arkansas are trying to remedy that with the help of the government. “Keep your filthy government mitts off my rifle collection…but could you give me a hand with my bitch of a wife?”

Let’s go all the way with this. Two years nothing. We could be more like India and just make it next to impossible to get a divorce.

Setting your spouse on fire is far more spectacular than some stuffy old court proceeding.

Okay, but no one’s forcing them to do this!!!!

It’s still stupid.


Fun Fact: No one forced these people to get covenant marriages!

And I’m feeling a bit schizophrenic today.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Happy Birthday Mom!

Pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? It’s my mother’s birthday today. The greatest mother I’ve ever had. Also, the first mother I ever had. More than just a coincidence.

She was my art teacher at one point during my grade school years. And the only teacher I’ve ever had who sent me to the principal’s office. I don’t really remember a lot about that episode, though. I’m sure I mouthed off. I loved to mouth off. All I remember is copious amounts of yelling, staring and a garbage can being kicked across the classroom.

And I wasn’t the one who kicked it.

But mom’s left her garbage can kicking days behind her. She’s a mellower chick now. Although I’m sure she wouldn’t mind kicking a few garbage cans at her current students. And I’m sure she wouldn’t mind kicking a few more at me from time to time. I know she wouldn’t do that now.

I would have her thrown in jail.

No, I wouldn’t do that. She’s my mom. And it’s her birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mom!


Fun Fact: Feliz aniversario, Vince! That’s Portuguese for Happy Birthday, Vincesco. Yes, it’s also Vince’s birthday today. He’s never kicked a garbage can at me or sent me to the principal’s office, but I haven’t given him a good reason to either. Not yet. There’s still time. He’s a jerk.

Happy Birthday, Vince.


Oh, yeah, the latest TAM Cartoon is up too! Fant├ístico! (That’s also Portuguese, but I can’t figure out what it means. Something about gravy, I’m sure. I like gravy.)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Juno What I’m Talking About

Happy Valentine’s Day! Aren’t you so very happy that it’s Valentine’s Day?

There were a lot of surprise engagements on the news this morning. You know, in honor of Valentine’s Day. All of the women said yes. But how do you say “no” on national television?

How do you say “no” when you’re not on national television? That would be a hard one. Even if you were only casually dating the person who proposed. It’s pretty much the deal breaker there.

We always get a little sad when a marriage proposal is turned down. It’s none of our business, but it’s embarrassing. I always feel bad for the guy (or girl) proposing. Because when they’re rejected, it as if the other person is actually saying, “oh, baby, you’re sweet and all, but you really have no concept of the reality of our relationship, do you? You poor charming, deluded idiot.”

Nobody wants to be a poor, charming deluded idiot. But sometimes, it’s unavoidable. So do what I do…nothing.

But there are a lot of guys out there who won’t take my advice. They’re gluttons for punishment, I guess. They call themselves “hopeless romantics.” I call them “look at me, see how sensitive and delightful I can appear to be-s.”

I shouldn’t be so cynical. I can’t help it. I’m a cynic. That’s what we do.

Call me crazy, but I find something a little…pathologically obsessive…about going to a corn field or something and spelling out “will you marry me” in letters big enough to be seen from space. Is that romantic? Do you find that romantic? If you do, why? Is it every woman’s childhood dream to have a corn crop decimated for some kind of egotistical thrill?

“A man (or woman, let’s not be sexist, guys are weirdoes too) who is willing to destroy 100,000 bushels of government subsidized crops for me must really want to be with me! Why else would he (she) go through all that work just to tell me how much he (she) loves me?!”

I’m a little more subtle than that, I guess. I don’t need the Great Wall of China. I figure that a woman really wants to be with me if they can somehow withstand all the annoying crap I do on a daily basis.

So far, Tanya’s been holding up very well. Kudos to her. You should go and congratulate her on her remarkable constitution. I know that I appreciate it every day. She’s my Valentine, even if I’m too practical and lazy to travel to Iowa to get my point across.

Killing corn is a day of hard work, but annoying crap is forever.


Fun Fact: “Saint Valentine’s Day” was started as the Roman celebration to honor Juno, queen of Mount Olympus, wife of Jupiter and the goddess of marriage. The Romans used to have a sort of “love-raffle” to commemorate every Feb. 14th. Like an ancient key party for the youngsters in town.

Then Emperor Claudius II came along and stopped marriage and fraternizing in order to make sure that potential soldiers would rather go to war than stay home and canoodle.

Lucky for the institution of marriage, good old Valentine kept the love alive by marrying young couples anyway, in spite of Claudius’s decree. For his trouble, and for a little poetic justice on Claudius’s part, on February 14th, Valentine was clubbed to death and beheaded. You would have thought he was marrying gays with than kind of treatment.

But now we have Valentines’ day. Romantic!

I would like to know two things though, if Juno was the goddess of marriage how come she couldn’t stop her husband from humping everything that moved? And whatever happened to the Valentine’s Day key parties?

Friday, February 11, 2005

Death of a Legend

Wow what an original title! See, ‘cause Arthur Miller died today and he wrote Death of a Salesman. It’s a “play” on words.

Art was 89. He lived a good long life. He wrote a few brilliant plays and was at one time married to Marilyn Monroe. On the news, that was his big claim to fame. “Married to Marilyn Monroe.” His plays actually are pretty damned good, you should check them out.

I was fortunate enough to have been in two of his plays, “The Crucible” and “All My Sons.” Both are really upbeat plays, I tell you. In both of them, because of the parts I played (Rev. Hale in Crucible and Chris Keller in …Sons), I had to have a complete breakdown at the end. I was left crying onstage as the lights went out in each of them.

That’s a hard thing to do when you’re not a very focused actor.

The nice thing about being left onstage as the theatre goes dark after an intense play is that you get to her the audience’s reaction. Especially when you’re in an intimate space. The Crucible was in the round and Sons was a severe thrust. Those are stupid theatre terms. Only horny theatre people could do a play on an “intimate thrust” stage.

Anyway, as I was saying, I got to hear the audience response after each of those plays. My sobbing was entirely fake so it was easily silenced at the blackout. Now I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone…wait, I’m talking about theatre here. Chances are that you’re not going to go to the theatre. Nobody goes to the theatre…not even me. I’ve been in more plays than I’ve seen.

But I’m not here to bag on the craptastic theatre they have here in LA. Theatre that’s so abysmal that you can’t even get your friends to come to your shows. And who could blame them? If most actors didn’t treat every stage opportunity as an audition to hock Snickers bars for $20,000, theatre might be able to bring in over 50 people a week…

I’m not here for that.

Arthur Miller spoiler alert! This next paragraph contains spoilers for a play. An old play. A play that they’re probably never going to make in a major motion picture which makes this spoiler merely obligatory and not practical in any sense.

So, at the end of All My Sons, Chris’s (the part I played) father Joe becomes so wracked with guilt over selling defective plane parts to the war effort that resulted in the death of a bunch of young WWII fighter pilots (including his older son) that he struts offstage and shoots himself.

That’s my cue to cry like the dickens until the lights go out. Very happy. A real feel good play.

So I’m sitting there in the dark preparing my “Jesus H. was that hard and mentally exhausting but I’ll do anything for my adoring public” face for the curtain call when I hear these two older ladies in the second row. One of the women turns to the other and says “that was pretty depressing for a Neil Simon play.”

It sure was. Which is probably why good ol’ Neil didn’t write it. But I felt a little sad for those nice old ladies. They came to the theatre expecting “Barefoot in the Park” (which I was also in) and instead got an old Soap Opera actor-turned-sweetest person in the world/director/lead actor blowing his brains out.

While Barefoot in the Park might be more fun, there’s just no substitute for the provocative power of a finely crafted Arthur Miller play. He was truly one of the best American playwrights to ever live. I want to be Arthur Miller when I grow up.

Unfortunately, Marilyn’s not looking so hot these days.


Fun Fact: The asswad neighbors have taken to having rock and roll band practice at 10:00 at night. They recently moved into the house next door. They’re loud and obnoxious.

And worst of all, they suck.

Mostly, I can hear the drummer. I went over there last night for some recon before we called the cops on them at 11:30. I didn’t know whether to yell at the drummer guy or offer him some rhythm lessons.

Hasn’t anyone ever heard of a metronome?! Work on the fills people! They’re only impressive if you’re still playing the same song when you’re done with one.

So, Tanya called the cops. She told them about the neighbors and how they were driving us (and the people across the way) nuts. She neglected to tell them that she was getting so frustrated with them that she was beginning to blame me for their behavior…

…Chicks.

But they sent someone to drive by at around midnight. By then, the “band” had stopped. We had fallen asleep. In fact, I had just fallen asleep when the cops called to check on us at around 12:30.

“Hi, this is the cops, we just wanted to wake you up and find out if you’ve fallen asleep yet…”


Oh, and the latest TAM Cartoon is up! Neighbors suck!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Where does the time go?!

Happy New Year….again! Yes, it’s another New Year today. I’ve counted three in the last two months! Now it’s the Islamic New Year. 1426 H.

1426? That’s right, we’re traveling back in time today. Get ready everyone because on March 6th John, Duke of Bedford and the entire British army are going to kick the crap out of the French at the Battle of St. James.

Not to be confused with the battle of St. James Place. Which is a Monopoly thing. And one battle that’s really not worth winning.

So have a good New Year and a reflective Muharram.


Fun Fact: Lon Chaney, Jr. was born today in 1905. He wasn’t “the man of a thousand faces,” that was his father. But Jr. did get to develop an unhealthy obsession with rabbits in 1939.

Oh, and happy birthday to Eric! It was yesterday, but I didn't find out until today. Does that make you Chinese, Eric?


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Cock-A-Doodle-Do!

Happy 4642.

Yes, it’s the Chinese New Year today. The year of the Rooster. Already?! It seems like just yesterday that I was celebrating the last Chinese New Year. My huge ass dragon costume is still sitting in the middle of the living room floor. And the candied melons in my Tray of Togetherness have long since gone off.

Yeah, the Chinese New Year sort of snuck up in me this year. It’s a good thing that I vacuumed yesterday. According to superstition I’m not allowed to do any sweeping or dusting today. There may be luck mixed in with the human dander and raspberry crostata crumbs. Sorry Tanya, them’s the rules.

Also, you’re not supposed to wash your hair today because, although it’s not 100%, there’s a good chance that you’ll wash away some of your new year’s luck there as well. You know, the luck that you keep in your hair?

I usually just keep ball point pens and parasites in mine.

According to ancient tradition, you’re also not supposed to cry today or use scissors or knives. I’m screwed. I haven’t cried yet, but it’s still early. I have, however, used both a knife and a pair of scissors!

They should really post these rules as a public service before the New Year. And there are a lot more superstitions too. They’re here, if you want to check them out.

Almost all of the superstitions have to do with luck. The Chinese are big on luck. But what I don’t understand is why luck likes to hang out with dirt and dust so much? Maybe there’s some kind of molecular bond? Do they share an electron? Maybe well never know. But I had a feeling that it was the case. That’s why I don’t change my clothes very often.

But then again, I don’t have a job…

Lucky? Unlucky? You be the judge. I don’t want to be that guy who tells you to skip showers. There are too many of those guys in the world already.

But the Chinese New Year makes our celebration of the devil western capitalist New Year look like a frat party. Which it is, I suppose. The Chinese eat a lot of glutinous rice and chickens with the head and feet still attached (to symbolize completeness).

What do we do? Drink and stay up late. To symbolize our willingness to drink and stay up late? Okay, sure, the Chinese do that too, but at least there’s some pretense to the celebration. We need to find something significant to do on New Years around this place.

Maybe something that has some obsessive connection to luck? That would be awesome.

But we can’t be completely blamed for our lack of cool crap to do on the New Year. After all, according to the Chinese calendar, we’re 2,637 years behind.

Happy Year of the Rooster! And don’t forget to make your Chinese New Year’s resolutions!

Here are some of mine:

I will try to order more steamed rice and less fried rice.

I will tip the delivery guy from Natalee Thai even though it’s not technically a Chinese restaurant and even though he only has to drive three blocks to get here.

I will embrace and protect despotic Korean governments while they race to develop nuclear weapons that threaten their neighbors.

I will bury myself with a huge army of terra cotta soldiers. Why should Qin Shihuangdi have all the fun?!

I will not make stereotypical generalizations about any ethnic group of which I have very little actual knowledge about.

I will finally throw out those rotten candied melons and try not to giggle every time someone tells me that it’s the year of the cock.



Fun Fact: There seems to be some disparity about which actual year it is right now. I’ve told you that it’s 4642, but some others think it’s 4702.

If they can’t even figure out what the hell year it is, why should I pretend to celebrate it?!

The Chinese New Year is confused. That’s a fact.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Keep Surfin’

There’s nothing to see here today. Move along.


Have you moved along yet? No? Good, because I forgot to mention that the new TAM Cartoon is up! Holla!


Fun Fact: People like stuff.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Making Friends and Influencing Small, Stuffed Green Superheroes trapped in the Death Grip of a Fun Crane Being Operated by a Strange, Friendly Person

The title says it all, really.

This weekend was the big yard sale. My tattered crap sold remarkably well. So did everyone else’s. As usual, I came home with a couple things. A CD and some books. But not the killer PC game, “The Simpsons, Hit and Run.” No, I didn’t come home with that. Tanya wouldn’t give me $5. Besides, someone else bought it for $6.

Damnit.

After the yard sale, as usual, all of us yard-salers went to Norm’s. For you who don’t know and couldn’t guess, Norm’s is a diner. A good diner.

There were seven of us, so we had to wait for a little while for a table. I think that there’s a zoning code here in Los Angeles that states if you’re going to operate a diner of any kind, you must have a crane game in the waiting area. Norm’s, not being one to buck a trend, had one right on the inside of the door. And as usual, there was someone playing it.

I used to play these things when I was a kid, but the stuffed animals and junk inside of those ones were much smaller. It was easier for the claw to get a hold of something. Since the claw is weaker than a Britney Spears live concert performance, the smaller the useless garbage in the crane game, the better.

This crane seemed to be the exception to the “Britney Spears = Weak Ass Crane” rule because no sooner had I walked into Norm’s, the guy playing the game turned to me with a problem. It seems that he had won a medium-sized stuffed Hulk doll, but the crane wouldn’t release it into the tray-thingie. He didn’t know what to do. So I went over and utilizing my own Hulk-like strength, shook the machine with a silent vigor that would release the entrapped plushie and not draw any unwanted attention from the wait staff.

My plan worked! I had saved the day. I felt pretty good about myself.

But here’s the thing. This guy’s one of those overly-friendly types. And we had bonded over sub-standard Marvel Comics merchandise. That’s when we all got to hear all about his wife in the hospital and her new titanium knee. We even got to see a blurry picture of her on his cell phone. And he was also the type of guy who would talk to you, then say goodbye, walk away – and then come back three seconds later and do it all over again.

Now, I liked this guy. I really did. He was a sweet guy. He seemed to love his wife. But he was a bit needy. And, by his own admission, he had an unhealthy obsession with the crane game. He said that he’s won hundreds of toys for his bed-ridden wife. What a lucky girl. I hope she likes Sponge Bob. I’m sure the staff at Cedars Sinai never get tired of his winnings. Her hospital room is probably crammed with stuffed ice cream cones and tiny batting helmets.

The only thing that would distract the guy long enough for me to have any conversation with my chosen friends was the claw game. He had to have pumped about $7 into it while we were sitting there.

But then after a couple minutes, he came back with a big, creepy Sponge-Bobbish looking heart thing with big feet. He wasn’t exaggerating his crane game prowess. He had won again. It was actually kind of impressive. He asked me if I had a sweetheart, I pointed to Tanya – and he gave me his hard-won prize to give to her. Because I helped him get his Hulk.

He was quite a guy. Incapable of being anything but kind. And talkative.

Then he took a picture of Tanya and me with his cell phone to show to his wife who is evidently doing very well with her new titanium knee.

And who, we were promised, is soon to be the proud owned of a stuffed Hulk.

And if anyone is looking for a weird heart shaped thing with crossed eyes and big feet, we’ll probably be having another garage sale in a couple of months. I hate to sell it, because that guy was so nice, but it doesn’t go with my already too huge collection of fuzzy footballs.


Fun Fact: The Superbowl half-time show was a welcomed relief this year for me. Paul McCartney did a fine job. I was getting sick of the halftime “extravaganzas” that were becoming the status quo. You know, an eclectic crew of musicians crammed together on one stage. This time, they only did that at the beginning. But hey, finally The Black Eyed Peas and Charlie Daniels…on the same stage!

Apparently, there has been some grumbling by the younger audience about the half time show though. It wasn’t exciting enough or something. How sad. Kids can’t handle 4 songs in a row by the same guy? That’s the internet for you, downloadable tunes mean that we don’t have to listen to anything but the one song on any given album that Clear Channel Communications has deemed “cool.”

But I have to say that I’m just a little irked that Paul didn’t sing “Band on the Run.” That’s just a kick ass tune there.

Oh, and Tanya and I made boneless Buffalo wings yesterday. They were mighty fine. But I suggest that if you make them for yourself, don’t make them the entire meal. They taste great at the time. They don’t need no celery at the time. Everything’s moving fine – at the time. But you’ll pay for it later.

Trust me.

15 Buffalo wings alone can’t be your dinner, kids.

Friday, February 04, 2005

It’s Hard Work to be This Lame

I have nothing to say today. Too much nothing going on. Even on the news this morning, the place where I usually hijack an idea seconds before I sit down to post. Nothing but Desperate Housewives tie-ins. Retarded.

Hey, I was once in a play called Angry Housewives. I played Larry, the asshole. I got to sing and junk. It was a musical. There were eight people in it. One of my theatre instructors was in the original cast in Seattle. I had fun. It was really fantastic. You know what’s also fantastic and has housewives in the title? Naked Housewives. Although I’m just going to have to guess about that because I’ve never actually seen anything titled Naked Housewives. Nothing that I’m going to admit to anyway.

Hey, you know what else is fun? Writing like a grade-schooler. It’s neat. I like small sentences. They’re really fun. I said fun already. It’s redundant. I could have found another word to use just then. A word like “enjoyable.” That would have been fun, too.

Damnit. I said fun again.

You know what? There’s really not all that much hard work involved in being this lame after all. It’s surprisingly simple. Maybe I’m just a natural. A prodigy. A lameness genius. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Maybe I’m not a certified “lameness genius.” But my LQ (Lameness Quotient) is definitely hovering around 140. That’s superlame! High enough to fool your colleagues into thinking that you’re the lamest person around but not high enough to apply for the man-on-the-street reporter job at the local TV news station.

I’m so lame that I chose to watch the “Happy Days” reunion last night on TV. And while it was on commercial break, I flipped back to Will and Grace and the Apprentice. How’s that for lame?

But I enjoyed the Happy Days reunion. I used to watch that show all the time. Sure, they didn’t show me anything that I hadn’t already seen, but I get a warm fuzzy feeling when the entire cast of an old TV show gets together for a reunion. Usually, with these reunions, there’s always one obvious hold-out. It happened to the Brady Bunch. But then they were making stupid Christmas specials. And they had already had that hideous musical review and the stupid cartoon.

Happy Days may not have known when to quit, and they may have had a stupid cartoon as well, but it was still a good show. And I like the fact that none of its stars pulled the old “I enjoyed my time on *insert 70s/80s TV show here* but that chapter of my life is over and I just want to move forward instead of trying to live in the past blah blah blah…”

That’s just about the lamest thing I’ve ever heard. I hate it. I understand that you don’t want to be called Tootie for the rest of your life, but come on, the show made you rich and famous. It’s time to embrace the past instead of allowing yourself to be held hostage by it. Only then will you be truly free.

There. Blanket advice for all victims of child acting. Not necessarily for Tootie because she bucked up and did the 2001 Facts of Life reunion. Good for her. The healing has begun.

But I also liked the fact that they played the “pumps your blood” song on the show last night. The song from the St. Joseph aspirin commercials. I’ve had a lot of blog hits lately because of that song. I hope to get many more. If you came to my blog looking for a download of the song, you won’t find one. You should have watched the Happy Days 30th Anniversary special on ABC last night. Tough.

Well, that’s it for this post. It was as lame as promised. Yeah me. To sum up, I’m lame, Kim Fields has a good head on her shoulders, Happy Days was cool even after they jumped the shark, “pumps you blood” is good blogging business, I was in a musical called Angry Housewives in college and Naked Housewives are better than desperate ones, although I can’t really be sure because I haven’t seen either.


Fun Fact: I’m yard-saling away all my beloved possessions this weekend. I don’t know what I’ll do without my old Vans with the holes in them or my old humongous tee shirts with the holes in them or my old broken video camera…with the holes in it.

But more difficult than figuring out how I’ll live life without these great things is trying to figure out what the loving hell other people are going to do with them.

“How much for that moth eaten pair of acid-washed jeans with the holey crotch that I’ve almost thrown out three times in the last year? Because I like you sir/m’am…it’ll only be three bucks. What a deal!”

Why do I assume that people are so desperate for my tattered crap that I insist on charging them even a quarter for it? Lame.


Oh, and the latest (and moderately creepy) TAM Cartoon is up! Holeycrotchational!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Punxsutawney George

It’s Groundhog Day! You know what that means, right? The president is going to step out in front of a special joint session of congress to deliver his State of the Union Address. If, for any reason, the president opens his mouth to utter even the most unintelligible sound – we’re all in for four more years of depressing crap.

George is supposed to talk about all sorts of interesting things tonight. Social Security reform, the war in Iraq and I’m sure the propagation of freedom throughout the entire world! The entire world! Let’s end tyranny throughout the universe while we’re at it. Put together a special galactic alliance to set out to the furthest reaches of space to restore democratic rule to galaxies tormented by despotic martial law and junk. That would be way cool.

Unfortunately, as far as we know, the universe doesn’t have a readily available cache of crude oil being controlled by a dubiously trained third world military. So my personal dreams of intergalactic conquest will have to wait for a couple years.

Plus, how do we convince already exhausted military reserves into flying into space. Personally, I think that the reserves should shut up already! We paid for your college, jerks, the least you could do would be serve three extra tours of duty on the remote intergalactic outpost of Rylon 7!

But I am interested to see if Bushie will mention Iran in his speech. There’s been fightin’ words being tossed around by the Bush cabinet lately. And they have a dubiously trained third world military too!

But no, Bush is expected to talk about his energy plan to become less reliant on foreign oil. That shouldn’t stop us from kicking ass in Iran though. The trouble there is nuclear power. See, Iran may have nuclear power. They can’t have nuclear power. Who do they think they are, North Korea?!

I can’t help myself when it comes to George-bashing. I just can’t believe that he gets away with the crap he does. Invade Iraq because there are weapons of mass destruction there. Oh, wait, our mistake, no WMDs. But hey, Saddam is gone and that’s good, right? The Iraqis get to vote and that’s also good right?

Well, duh. Of course it’s a good thing. But why should it make us forget about the lies and manipulation? I know people who overeat. I could drug them and duct tape them to a chair for a couple months. It may not be the best way to take care of the situation, but at least I could control their food intake. And they would be a hell of a lot thinner when I got through with them.

But something tells me that they wouldn’t be patting me on the back with their emaciated little skeletal hands any time soon. The ends do not always justify the means.

Now there’s Iran and social security. I figured that the Social Security issue would have gone away by now. There’s no immediate threat to Social Security. Sure, there’s a future threat, but there is plenty of time to come up with a permanent solution. One that has been tested and mulled over to ensure its success. But that’s not what the president is interested in. He’s interested in being the man who fixed Social Security. His race for a quick solution proves to be that he doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about actual solvency. He just wants to look good in the footnotes.

Nothing has stopped him from inventing a Social Security crisis. And his obvious partisan agenda on the subject and lack of diligence hasn’t stopped a great deal of Americans from swallowing a bunch of crap with smiles on their faces.

What the hell does George Bush have to do before enough people realize that he’s working with a personal agenda? I suppose it would help to uncover his agenda if anyone could get a clue as to what the hell that agenda is. The guy's so inconsistent. We invade Iraq (let’s not be na├»ve about this, it was mostly because of oil) but now he’s saying that he wants to be less dependant on foreign oil?! We could have done that first. He wants to constitutionally ban gay marriage but banning assault rifles would be a devastating blow to our personal freedoms?! He wants to be a “uniter, not a divider” but anyone who isn’t with him is against him.

I don’t know. It’s not looking good for the next four years. Sorry about the political post. I should stick to subjects like peeing.


Fun Fact: Speaking of pee, last night I decided that no matter how much I like asparagus, nothing’s worth that horrible pee smell.

Honestly.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

It can be a Real Relief to Find Fresh New Artists

Last night I was at the Cock and Bull Pub in Santa Monica having a couple drinks and not thinking much about the graphic design industry.

But it seems that you can never really be anywhere without thinking a little about the graphic design industry. Especially when it’s hitting you in the face.

In this marvelous world of multi-tasking, even using the restroom can be an assault on the senses. Nowadays, a blank wall over a urinal is simply wasted space. Thanks to bar culture, almost every public urinal in the world has something hanging over it. Tanya and I went to Chili’s on Sunday and it was no different there. They had newspapers over the urinal. You can read while you pee.

Most of the time, it’s the sports page. That makes sense, right? After all, anyone born with the “hardware” needed to utilize the urinal must like sports, right? Not me. I mean, I don’t hate sports, but I don’t really need to know who won so badly that I must know before I finish my last shake.

But the urinal that I was at didn’t have the sports page over it. It had a really interesting article about this man, an artist, an elderly man, who gave up everything to move to…somewhere…and paint…something. Something…good?

The picture looked interesting. But that’s the problem with putting real articles over the urinal. Unless you take full advantage of the “bottomless soft-drink” policy, you’ve got no hope to finish them. Besides, newspapers these days cram as many articles as they can onto one page so that you have to crack the page numbering code just to read past the first 15 words. And when the newspaper is encased in a pee-splattered case, there’s just no hope.

This brings me back to the unfortunately named Cock and Bull British Pub. Like most pubs and bars in California (and the world?) they have taken to placing advertisements over the urinals. Much more effective and not a lot of heavy reading. Usually, the advertisements are for cigarettes or snowboarding movies and stuff. But the Cock and Bull has higher standards, I guess. They don’t have bikini-clad snow-bunnies staring at you while you let it all go (they don’t want you in there all night, right?). No the Cock and Bull has actual artwork.

Artwork. Advertisement? I was confused. They’ve had the same picture in the pee-soaked case since I first “went” there. Two actually. And thanks to the bathroom architect’s complete disinterest in privacy, you can easily look at them both.

And they’re really nice actually. I’ve studied them closely. They’re in advertising cases. But I could never find the advertisement. And believe me, I’ve looked. They’re these pseudo-60s type paintings. Retro-deco with a strange anime feel. I hate anime, but I love 60s graphic elements. They’re pleasing, let me just say that.

But as hard as I looked, I couldn’t find a single ad in them. Sometimes companies place subtle ad in paintings to grab your interest and create a legitimizing mystique around their product. There was no Kool cigarette in any of the lady’s mouths. No Budweiser trucks hidden in the background. No slogan.

Nothing but an interesting picture. Two of them. In the bathroom of the Cock and Bull.

And a web address. www.agoodson.com. Very small on the bottom of the painting.

Aha! I’ve cracked the code!

Needless to say after a lot of curiosity (and some prodding by Vince who is also intrigued) I’ve finally visited agoodson.com. I’ve been meaning to go for some time now.

It’s a management company. Anna Goodson Management. They don’t sell weight loss solutions or real-estate pyramid schemes! The poster is actually advertising the artist. How about that? I think it’s an interesting idea. It made me go the web site. Unfortunately, the rest of the clientele are probably less inclined. And even if they did go to the website, what would they do there? Hire a graphic designer? An expensive graphic designer? No they won’t. But maybe someone reading this will.

If you need a good graphic designer, check out the site. But I have to say, tragically, the person whose work is hanging above the place where I pee at the Cock and Bull – probably my favorite of her clients – is no longer represented by Anna Goodson. His name is Chin, that’s all I know. Sad. But there are plenty of other fine artists still in her stables over there.

They’ve made my urinating experience better in Santa Monica. Plus, I want to prove to the person whose idea it was to put fine art in bar bathrooms that their plan wasn’t completely insane.

“I’ll take two overpriced, lubricated, ribbed condoms with spermicidal lubricant for added protection…and a retro-60s graphic designer with Asian sensibilities please!”

Like chocolate and peanut butter.


Fun Fact: Yesterday was Julie’s birthday! Happy late…25th…birthday Julie! I’m working on your song today.

Oh, and the latest TAM Cartoon is up! Peelicious!