Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's A Kind Of Magic

Truman Capote died in the early '80s, yet tonight this man told me a story. A strange way to look at books, I know...but think about it. Writing is the ultimate time machine! In 1944 Capote wrote a short story, today I read it. In a way, by putting his thought to paper, he was able to communicate with me in 2006. This is another (albeit fantastical) reason I love writing. It makes a piece of you imortal. Imagine if Capote was my grandparent, or great grandparent. Imagine how cool it would be to have a novel, poem, or short story written by someone like that. My kids and their kids will have that. While I'm not a published author, my papers could be passed down and read by future generations. I think thats both amazing and very neat. I hope that happens. I think this link to the past and this powerful link to other human beings conciousness is wonderful, amazing stuff. I guess I'm weird like that...

I did my homework early so I could come home and write. My goal of one short story a week may not pan out, though. Currently I'm bogged down in a Vietnam of a story (not about 'Nam by the way) called "The Strange Tale of Rosa Glynn." So far it's alright, nothing special. Today in British Literature I wrote up a one page outline of my next story "The Gossamer Trunk" which should be fantastic. I'm very excited about it, but first, I have to get "Rosa Glynn" finished. Ugh, I hate that. I hate it when I start something mediocre only to get halfway through it and come up with something that interests me more. I've already spent like 4 nights working on it, so I may as well spend another 4 finishing it, right? Until then, my new story idea will only be an annoying itch on my brain.

I almost died today when a girl nearly ran me over with her damn bicycle. People need to be more careful. I need to be more careful too, I nearly died again later when I slipped at the top of the stairs here in my dorm. There's some sort of water leak and it made the steps all slippery. Ugh, I feel like I live in a leaky submarine sometimes. All we need is a red light bulb and few less windows.

It's late, so I'm going to bed. I probably won't get to write much this weekend because I have a test early next week and my folks are coming into town. Such is life!And tomorrow night I'm having some friends over...yay!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Harlem Shuffle

Do it! Mick Jagger says so!!

"This is only a problem..."

So I'm still in academic free fall. I can never seem to have it all...something has to be totally fucked up for me. My personal life is finally on track (I got engaged this week to my soulmate Leah), I have friends, I'm okay on the money situation, I'm writing again...but I'm not doing very well in school. Grrr...

I guess that's how life goes. There's always something with me and I'm sad because I'm begining to get used to it. In fact, if everything was going 100% the way it should I'd probably freak out.

I'm worried about my friend Mike. He wasn't in class on Thursday and I can't get a hold of him. He left me a voicemail message asking for a favor...hope he's doing alright. Probably just working his @$$ off. I'd really like to talk to him because I have him to thank for getting me writing again. I'm not totally happy with the result (ah...I see a theme) but I AM HAPPY to have produced something.

I wrote one of my old High School teachers last night. Basically she was really an inspiration and I never told her. I've been thinking about her off and on for the past few years, and I decided to finally let her know how important she was in my development as a human being. People need to hear that stuff, every now and then. In general things could be better, but things could be worse. I guess it's getting better, getting better all the time...

Also, I tried soy milk this week and I like it better than real milk. So put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Feelin' Good

Well, despite the rather rough week I've had (don't ask)...I must say that I'm feeling good. Yesterday I proposed to my girlfriend and she accepted. So now, I am engaged! I never thought I'd see the day. I love her and I really think that it's going to work out. This news shocked a few people (actually just one of my cousins). He actually emailed me "I never thought I'd see the day!" Well, that makes two of us. I must say that I'm very happy to have solved that great equation (love).

In other news, I just finished a short story (really short, only 6 pages) called "The Dodo Egg." This story is what I refrenced earlier in my rambling posts about having an idea for a new novel. I called it...not going to be a novel, but at least I was able to make something out of it. This story (though small) is important because it's the first piece of writing I've completed in over a year! Hooray! Thanks Mike and Leah for making me shut up and write!

Now I'm going to bed!


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What scares you?

"Wanna see something scary?"

Dan Akroyd says this as he pops in an old cassette tape into the dashboard tape player...then the camera pans away. Off screen his character turns into a monster and (we presume) he kills the man riding beside him. The question isn't just asked of Akroyd's co-star at the begining of THE TWILIGHT ZONE's asked of the audience as well. Want to see something scary? Well, do ya?

I'm not a timid person, at least, I don't think so. I try to avoid a lot of horror movies not because I get scared, but because I don't really like gore. Blood and guts are just not my thing. My girlfriend is the exact opposite: she's afraid of even the most tame "scary" movies. There is, however, a difference between what you see on a screen (big or small) and real life.

Right now, I'm really freaked out...

It was one of those deals where I was just surfing the web. Somehow (I don't know how) I ended up looking at John Landis (American director). I spent about 20-30 minutes reading about his career and the court case surrounding the wrongful death lawsuit surrounding his segment of THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE. I was reading the IMDB movie message boards about the film, and of course, everyone was talking about the film's loss of life. Eventually I find out that you can see the rough footage of actor Vic Marrow dying (along with two child actors) on

Hesitantly, I decided to check it out. I am really scared right now. Something about the reality of what I saw has freaked me out. Why has someone posted such a thing? Well...why did someone (like me) want to watch it? Why are we so attracted to dark, scary, terrible things? I don't know. I do know that if I was realated to the late Croc Hunter (Steve Erwin) I would make sure that all of the footage of him dying WAS PERMENANTLY DESTROYED or it will end up on the internet. And people, like me, will be up late at night...haunted by the images of extreme horror. Something really scary--reality.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

364 (The Science of Sleep)

Tonight was a very good night. Me and Leah ran down to the loop and had a quick dinner at Jimmy John's...then we went and saw a free movie! THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP was very good/weird/funny/strange/exotic movie. Truly it was a cartoon-romance come to life.

Tomorrow is me and Leah's one year anniversary! One year ago tomorrow, I woke up to a power outage. I decided to call this funny girl I had just started hanging out with...and we spent the whole day together. We had breakfast, went to the Science Center, we went to Forest Park (I was scared of the butterflys), we watched part of TEAM AMERICA and all of THE INCREDIBLES at her house, she made me pizza that was way too hot (I burned my lips), we rode the Metrolink to the Savis Center where we were going to get jobs...but I used psychology to trick Leah into wanting to leave and so we went back to my place and made out.

It was a good day. Tomorrow should be another power outage. Except I don't think we'd spend it the same way. Sadly, I think sometimes that I've let things get boring. I feel bad that we tend to do a lot of the same stuff. I can't help it. Me and my dad were talking about this the other day. I am SUCH a creature of habit! And I think I'm bringing the whole damn world down with me! Isn't that sad?! Well I vow to take this matter up as my personal mission in life! I shan't be boring anymore!

Seriously though, THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP is really good...if you get a chance (and don't mind subtitles) go and see it! Funny, funny stuff.

Monday, September 18, 2006

More Cool stuff from (someone's) childhood

I have two major exams tomorrow (yikes!) but I had to take an hour and clean up my dorm, because I can not study in filth. Anyway, while I was washing my dishes and putting my trash in the can and clothes in the hamper,I listened to Little Steven's Underground Garage . This week's show is all about Rocky and Bullwinkle. I forgot all about R&B (as we say in the cartoon industry) until I heard this show. Funny, funny, stuff. I really liked the total and complete obsurdity of a moose and flying squirrel (not just a regular one...a flying squirrel) being pals. The humor was really sharp, and as Little Steven suggested in the show, it was the God-Father of modern animated shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy.

So here's to you Rocky! And Bullwinkle!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Find your rainbow

Tonight me and Leah went to the Tivoli and saw a midnight showing of 1979's THE MUPPET MOVIE. According to Jim Henson, the Muppet's first movie is (loosley) based on his own rise to fame. Kermit has a dream to entertain people and goes on a typical quest to make this dream come true. In the end, he and his Muppet friends walk into a movie execs office (Orson Welles...a PERFECT role for him, he after all battling Execs all his professional life), anyway they waltz in and he just looks at them. Then he gets on his intercom and tells his secretary to "draw up the usual fame and fortune contracts." Poof. Just like that, all of Kermits dreams are realized.

Initially I thought this was rather cheap. "Henson's Muppets are cheating!" After all, we know making it in life isn't that easy. But that's not the point. The hard part wasn't getting the movie deal, it was getting to Hollywood (thus the adventure of the movie). So I guess, the point of THE MUPPET MOVIE is really very inspirational. Kermit goes through all this shit, nearly gives up...but decides to press on (face his problems) and thus, succeeds. THAT is the true battle of life--not giving up once one finds his/her "rainbow." Find that dream, hold it tight, and maybe Orson Welles will stare at you one day and give you that contract. Probably not, but if Kermit had just given up and gone back to the swamp, it never would have happened. And if the movie hadn't worked out, well look at what he got along the way--freinds! A bear that tells jokes (and drives), a pig that loves him, and a cool band to follow him around, playing songs.

I wonder where people like Henson are today, in my generation. People who have a vision and a message. People don't want to make things for kids (young and old) of quatilty that tackle serious subject matter. Movies like "Shrek" are funny, but in the end sort of hollow compared to Henson's Muppets. We're all so cynical today. If THE MUPPET MOVIE had been made in 2006 everyone would have been winking during all the silly, optimistic songs. We do that nowdays. We say really sincere things, but the whole time we wink and nudge each other. That way when people laugh at us, we can say "oh we were just joking! Ha, ha!" It's not cool to actually say what you mean: to believe in yourself, your friends, and the that the things will be better someday. Everyone is afraid, even embarassed to be genuine. Childhood innocence is out of vogue I suppose. For a culture so obsessed with youth, I find this puzzling. Everyone has become a kid wanting to grow up so fast.

Friday, September 15, 2006

New iTUNES Sucks

Hey, just a fair warning to anyone out there...don't download the new version of iTUNES it really, really, really, really SUCKS! Not sure what the hell they were thinking releasing this thing (I think it's like version 7.0 or 7.1). They changed the look of the browser (again) and I don't really like the it. But worse is the new "features" like the option to GET ALBUM ART. Sounds good, right? You can get album art for files you DIDN'T download from iTUNES.

Except there is a MAJOR problem...some of the artwork is wrong...dead wrong...and it's a bitch to change it back to what it should be. They had some black guy's album (Thomas Long? ever heard of him? me neither) artwork for all of my Queen MP3s. Now does that make ANY sense? Also, for compilations it just goes and finds the first artist listed, rather than go and get the artwork for the acutal compilation. RESULT: every song on my Pulp Fiction soundtrack had the art work for Al Green's Greatest Hits. Riiiiight....maybe what I keep hearing about iTUNES/iPOD going the way of the Dodo bird might be more than speculation...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back on Track?

Had a good talk with Dad today. Talked about Wendy's being closed out here in St. Louis, writing, and how I need to start living. You know, the usual stuff. I got off the phone and promptly went to the library with a pad of paper and two blue ink pens and started writing. 75% of which isn't all that bad! Not that it really matters, though, it's just good to be writing again.

Tomorrow is FRIDAY! TGIF!! Yeah, I know it's really only Thursday, but for a lazy college student like me that's Friday kids. I'm supposed to go and talk to Leah's Dad tomorrow about getting married. I'm "asking for her hand in marriage." Can't wait for that...I'm sure that will be a nice, tense conversation.

I shaved for the occasion, but not that much. I kept the stash and the fuzz on my chin (come on, once I get out of school I'll have to shave full time...and go to bed early and all that stuff that comes with being grown up). Even though I know I should be scared, I'm not, because no matter what happens it'll be great fodder for the 'old memoirs one day!


Well I'm at it again...

Since I've started writing on this blog, I've started several attempts at writing a novel. Each attempt has failed for one reason or another, lets examine each:

Attempt #1: Rewriting 1984

My first idea was basically my own spin on 1984. Gee I can't imagine why that failed, maybe because Orwell's book is so dark and scary (and sadly coming to fruition in our reality of today) that any attempt to do one better will fail (see "V For Vendetta" the film and comic book). Beyond that, my heart just wasn't in it. Part of what doomed me was that the fact that I decided to write the whole thing out by hand. This meant that all the revisions had to be done by hand...ugh...too much work

Attempt #2: My take on Spirituality

My second idea was much more interesting, basically I wrote a revenge/death fantasy story about a guy who dies and travels around an alternate plane looking for his shoes. "The Wizard of Oz" meets Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series. Exactly...the idea might have worked, except that my own spiritual beliefs (which would have been the heart of the story) are wishy-washy at best. I got 10,000 words out of this, making it my second longest novel attempt yet. Sad, huh?

Why have these, and all my other attempts really failed though? I think it's because I keep writing about things that are too far outside my sphere of experiance. They always say things like "write what you know." So, in that vein, I've decided that my first novel...will be about a disillusioned college student who goes home and hangs out with his friends from High School. They talk about how much it sucks to be young and totally clueless about the future. Sex. Drugs. Rock and Roll.

I'm not even going to lie and say something to jink the whole thing (like I've done in the past) like "I'm really going to write this one, I'm going to see it all the way through to the end..."

On the plus side, however, I have the first chapter written in my head and it's:

1. Really fucking funny
2. Good enough to stand on it's own as a short story (so if the novel doesn't materialize...I'll at least have a new short story...which at this point will be better than nothing).

Anyone who reads this, please get behind this thing...force me to actually write this...writing seriously the only thing I'm even remotely good at.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

September Calling…

The eleventh day of September, 2001 began just like the day before. I woke up in the late morning; the sun was streaming through the blinds onto the gray carpet. I remember the zebra stripped pattern it made as I slowly returned to the conscious world. My alarm clock radio was going off. I had it set to a religious AM station (in order to pull me that much faster out of bed to shut it off). Unlike the usual fiery sermons and sobbing testimonials, however, today’s program was much more subdued. Apparently, there had been an “accident” in New York. A plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers.

I rushed upstairs and yelled at my mother to turn on CNN. As the television winked to life we put it on channel 44. There were two nearly identical pillars of steel and glass. One was fine, and one was spewing fire and plumes of smoke. Before we could comprehend what we were seeing, a second aircraft suddenly materialized as if by magic. I remember the amazingly slow crash. It was horrific. It was like a bad disaster flick. It was unreal. It was happening, live from New York…

I remember my mother shaking her head, her eyes watering, “This isn’t an accident…somebody is doing this on purpose…” She yelled up to my baby sister, telling her to stay upstairs where she couldn’t see the TV. If that was all that happened, if two planes hitting a New York landmark was all there was…maybe 9/11 wouldn’t be so traumatic. After all, planes crash every now and then. But there was more, much more. As my mother and I sat hypnotized, CNN reported that a rescue effort was underway. NYPD and NYFD were going in; the buildings were going to be evacuated. Order creeping back amidst chaos.

Then the first tower collapsed into a billowing cloud of smoke and death. I’ve never seen a more terrible thing in my life. To know that there were people dying live on TV was bad, but watching their would-be rescuers die too was too much. How many heroic people died that day? How many acts of heroism occurred on September 11, 2001? Maybe as many as there are stars in the night sky. Maybe more. Public servants and first responders always say things like “I’m just doing my job” or something similar. The brave heroes of New York had a job to do.

As corny as it sounds, my mother and I had jobs to do too. Had the terrorist attacks occurred on September 12, 2001 the eleventh would still have been a historic moment (at least for me personally). You see, I was a freshman in college and 9/11 was the day of my first college exam. I went to my American History class, where Dr. Moore looked at us and told us, “I understand if some of you don’t want to take the test today, light of today’s events…however I think it would be best if you all took the test now while the material is still fresh in your minds…”

Dr. Moore passed out the tests after most of us agreed to stay and take the exam. The catastrophe was still on-going at this point, and information was still sketchy at best on a lot of what was actually happening. To alleviate our curiosity (and his) Dr. Moore told us he’d monitor the news and keep us up to date on any breaking reports. This meant that our teacher was out of the room for most of the test as he shuffled back and forth between our classroom and the teachers lounge.

Now, if my own little slice of 9/11 was a Hollywood movie, this would be the scene where everyone bravely takes their tests. Tears streaking down our cheeks, maybe even a few tears dripping down onto our test books. Cue the inspirational music. The truth, the actual history of my first college exam is about as ugly as everything else that happened that brutal day. As soon our professor was out of the room, so too went many of my peer’s ethics. Cheating erupted like wildfire. Approximately 75% of the class was engaged in academic dishonesty. People too lazy to study and read were suddenly benefiting from the New York tragedy. I was horrified for the second time that day. People were laughing and joking. I couldn’t believe people were actually taking advantage of the most horrific thing I’d ever seen. I was in for a rude awakening, because the day wasn’t even half over yet.

I finished up my test and went to my car and listened to the radio. All of the stations were playing essentially the same thing: 9/11 the radio show. Disembodied voices talking endlessly about the need for order and calm. Flights grounded, Presidents safe and secure, bunkers, war, F-18’s over Washington, the Pentagon in flames. Terrorism. I tried munching on a green apple, but the fruit was too sour for me to choke down. I went and bought a cheap, fast food hamburger. I went home briefly and called my then-girlfriend who was at another school, in another part of the state. Her voice was cold and distant. No, she hadn’t seen the second plane, the towers fall, the ash, the fire. Her roommate had told her. Not Ted Koppel or the people at the Today Show…just some random co-ed. I ended the call as quickly as I’d instigated it. There was a disconnection between our thoughts and perceptions. To her it was a bit of news, for me it seemed as if the sky was falling.

I went back to school and finished up my day in classes that I don’t remember attending. Things had calmed back down in my world, at least that’s what I thought. Everyone seemed to be looking over there shoulders, holding there breath, and faking a smile all at the same time. If civilization had collapsed before dinnertime I wouldn’t have been surprised, in fact I was sort of expecting it. We all were. I got in my red Chevy and started to head home for the second time that day. Something was wrong. The intersection less than five minutes from my house was in gridlock. Lines and lines of cars, thirty? Fifty? A hundred? They were all waiting in an endless sea of cars, choking up the roadways, creating chaos thousands of miles from ground zero and Bin Laden (whom I still didn’t know about), because of price gouging. I went home and all was revealed to me by my father.
“I heard on the radio that gas is already ________ dollars a gallon in Kansas.” We had to hurry, before the prices crossed state lines and made there way into Missouri. At least, that’s what my father said. He told me to go back to that parking lot I’d barely managed to crawl through and wait in line for gas…before it was $16 a gallon. Children cheat on tests; adults cheat each other out of money. Ah, capitalism. Once again I was appalled at how people were acting. I refused to go. I refused to take part. My father angrily took my car keys and went himself to buy gas for my car. He returned quicker than I thought him capable of…like everyone that day, he wasn’t sure if gas was going to be $16 a gallon or not…but he’d soon too much earlier in the day to take any chances. He’d seen too much to rule anything out of the realm of the possible.

Before I went to work I went and got the mail, in the stack of envelopes and junk mail was a simple white postcard from the government—it was my draft card. Not a good sign. It seemed as though the country, perhaps the world, was about to erupt in massive conflict. I went to work that night at the drugstore I worked at. There was a cheap little black and white TV perched next to my register. For five hours I got to watch the planes hit the buildings over and over. The towers rose and fell, rose and fell…like a diabolic sea lapping away at the beach of my soul. By the end of the night I was ready to revolt, ready to grab a pitch fork and join an angry mob. This is how human beings are like dominos. Knock one of us over and watch us all scramble to knock each other over.

I don’t recall going to bed that night, but I know I did. Eventually, everything went back to normal. They cleared the debris out from where the Twin Towers stood…and moved it to Afghanistan. Someone squealed to Dr. Moore about the rampant cheating. He came to the next class enraged and nearly in tears. How dare we take advantage of a tragic day and his good nature! I wish I’d been the one to tattle, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t as brave then as I am now. All the gas stations that overcharged and committed the sometimes-sin of price gouging (which is different from supply and demand…how?) were fined heavily and forced to give full refunds back to the masses. The hysteria was far from over, but the “healing” (or “forgetting”) process was underway.

War followed. Then another war followed. Gas didn’t shoot up overnight, instead it’s been steadily rising every since (because that’s legal…doing it overnight isn’t after all). Bruce Springsteen has released two albums (only one about 9/11). Movies are being made/have been made about what happened. Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum now have a new blanket to wrap up there lies in: 9/11. Oh, I almost forgot about the flags! Everyone bought flags. American flags made in China. That’ll keep the terrorists from winning.

I wish I could say we as a people all changed. The government got more powers (The Patriot Act). Iraq got rid of Saddam. But Americans are still diluted. I still don’t know why 9/11 happened. You don’t either. No one does, because if someone did know they’d be trying to fix the situation. Not with bullets but with brains. All we have is gangsters, high stakes gang bangers…one gang does a drive-by….so to retaliate the other does a drive-by….it’s an endless cycle of violence. The thugs in Afghanistan and Iraq are no longer in power—the thugs in America still are. Prior to 9/11 I considered myself a Democrat. Post-9/11 I dabbled in Conservatism. Now, today I’m twice as jaded as I used to be. I don’t even want to be associated with either party. I say I’m independent. On surveys I write “other” for political views. Like the Kennedy assassinations, 9/11 has eroded whatever trust and good will most of mainstream America had for its government.

I went to a Blockbuster a few months back, and I heard the strangest conversation. Two of the employees were talking about flight 93. One of the kids was talking about how the plane didn’t really crash in Pennsylvania. The passengers were really being used in an elaborate propaganda campaign—they were really tucked away somewhere at some secret army base. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This is what passes for intellectual conversation about 9/11 in America today. Already 9/11 is a trivia question, a faded bumper sticker, a movie of the week. Did it even really happen? Maybe it’s like the Holocaust, slavery, and the slaughter of the Indians…maybe 9/11 has been blown out of proportion. Maybe there is a secret base where all those fire fighters, police, and innocent people are just…just…tucked away.

The reality is, tomorrow September 11, 2006 is really just another day. In all probability, I will get up, go to school, come home and go to bed without anything too bad happening. My outlook on life will remain frivolous and unchanged. September 11, 2006 will be a non-event with no cultural significance whatsoever. September 11, 2001 however, is a different, more complicated matter. On that terrible day of confusion—chaos, fear, and greed ruled the day. Five years removed from that fateful day, I wonder what this day really means. Should 9/11 be a holiday? (It is) or should 9/11 be a day of stoic celebration (a kind of 4th of July part two?). I think that 9/11 should be a day of reflection—one for us as citizens of a country and citizens of a planet.

There is more.

I have come to the realization that there is more to life than what I am currently achieving. Human beings very rarely live up to their full potential. In fact, I believe that it is utterly impossible for people to ever achieve 100%. Man has gone to the moon. Think about that for a moment. People, flesh and blood human people have put footprints on the surface of that big shiny globe you see floating high overhead at night.

If a group (a small group if you think about it) can put men on the moon...what can we as individuals do? To say that "the sky is the limit" is rather ridiculous...because it's not. There is no limit, beyond the sky...beyond the moon, beyond the stars. How far can we reach? How far can you personally go? You tell me.

I'm a lazy motherfucker. And so are you. Don't care who you are, or what you're doing--you could do more. Right now I am at the peak of my abilities as a person. I'm young, fairly strong of will...the problem for me (and I think many in my generation) is that I have no direction. A ship with full sails, good winds, but no harbor to point towards. I don't know how to get this direction, but the more young people I meet...the more I talk to people in my age bracket, I see that there is a very large, very serious problem. Our priorities are all wrong, and we have no idea who we are or what it is we should be doing.

I have seen the problem, now I need to find the solution. The answer exists somewhere, do I (do you?) have the courage to seek it? There is more to life than what we are doing with it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006