Friday, August 29, 2008

Guess What? (KC)

Right now, at this very moment...I'm driving home to Kansas City. Through the magic of "timed blog posting" (thank you Terri) I am actually on the road.

I'm going home for two reasons. The first is, it's my mother's birthday (actually it's not until next week, but we're going to celebrate it this weekend). I'm also heading into town to pick up "the ring."

That's right. THE ring. The wedding ring.


I have less than a month of bachelor-hood left. I used to think that this was no big-deal...but as the day draws closer--I am freaking out. Leah signed my mom's birthday card "Leah Wendleton." Can you imagine such a thing?

On other, related wedding news: Leah wants me to pick a song for the "Mother/Son dance" at the wedding. The fact that such a thing exists is blowing my mind. I was really hoping I would only have to dance once (with Leah), but apparently everyone down the line gets a dance with me. This is troubling news friends. I have two left-feet. Actually, it's worse than that. I wish I had two left feet.


So that's what's up with me. These are the things occupying my time and mind. I am freaking out about the stupidest things (catering, dances, etc.). I hope when my nervous-breakdown occurs, all of this stuff is over.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Gear Grinding...NUTS!!!

Time for some more "Gear Grinding."

I asked Leah to pick me up a snack at the store yesterday, and she bought us some mixed nuts. Actually, she bought us a giant tub of "mixed nuts," from Wal-Mart. Now, I know she was trying to do me a favor, but I would have never bought this stuff.

Why? I hear you asking. Do I have something against mixed nuts? No. I love cashews, pecans, almonds, etc. I even don't mind peanuts. But I do hate being swindled.

Thus begins the grinding of my gears.

Okay, so she bought this stuff yesterday, and we've consumed about 1/3 of the can. I know, we're pigs. We should slow down, because our bodies really don't need all that sodium. Whatever. Anyway, 1/3 of this can is gone. And yet despite assurances from the label ("Less than 50% Peanuts" my ass) all we have left is peanuts.

Oh sure, if you dig deep enough you'll find a stray cashew-half. And of course, there are a dozen or so giant Brazilian nuts. Who wakes up wanting to eat Brazil nuts? These things are like overweight peanuts. They're a bit crunchier, I guess...but for the most part it's just a swollen peanut--so they really don't count.

The bottom line is: I bought "mixed nuts" not "Some other, better nuts plus a shit-load of peanuts." And yet, no matter what the label says, that's always what I get. The mixed-nut industry is a sham. There is no such thing. It's just some a-hole unloading all his nasty peanuts.

Things that piss me off (in order):

1. Poverty
2. The KKK
3. Mixed nuts
4. Flat tires
5. Emo Rock
6. Kidney stones

Good God, I hate mixed nuts more than kidney stones! I've had a kidney sucked. I peed blood. I'd rather pee blood than be ripped off by mixed nuts! It's a scam, don't fall for "mixed nuts." Don't you see!!!??? They're just selling you peanuts!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy-Issues"

I'm trying not to make a big deal about this, but I'm writing again. This is both good and bad. The good is: I'm writing again. The bad is: I'm not walking anymore. I tried to do both, but I can't. So this week I've been staying home and writing.

When I started talking about doing my super-walk along the Katy Trail one of my friends mentioned the "adventure" aspect of it. A lot of people (me included) wish they had more excitement, more adventure in their lives. I thought about that before I started writing, which has led to work on a more adventure-oriented story.

I wanted light-hearted, Saturday-afternoon-at-the-movies kind of adventure. I came up with an interesting plot device and a group of strange characters (my rule on this project is "if it's not weird, why are you writing it?"). In Chicago I saw my very first episode of DR. WHO (a British Sci-Fi show). It blew my f-ing mind and inspired me to do something different.

What does this have to do with "daddy issues"? Well, it seems that no matter what I personal crap always rears it's ugly head. I don't really have a "genre" that I write in (which pisses some people off, or at least makes them think less of me) but I do have some common themes that always seem to work their way into my writing. One of them is my relationship with me father. So even though I'm supposed to be writing this slightly-cheesy, adventure story I look back and see I've written passages like:

“I can see you’re going to be nothing but impossible about this,” Geoffrey said. “Which only tells me how right I am—you, young man, are in need of a little growing up.”
Though he wouldn’t have admitted it, this stung Bryce deeply. But such a comment from father to son could only sting. Because no matter what a boy might tell the world (or himself), the opinion of his father means an awful lot—the whole world in most cases. Bryce didn’t like the way his father spoke to him sometimes. He didn’t like the way Geoffrey Rogers buried himself in his work and in his factory—but he still loved and respected him. The last thing, the very last thing that Bryce wanted, was his father to think of him as an immature child.

Or something like this:

The entry foyer was dead silent in the morning, as it had been for countless years since the death of his mother, Shelby Rogers.
They rarely spoke of her—Bryce or Geoffrey. Each one carried her memory as his own private burden. If only they’d been able to speak about her, they’d realize they shared much more than a common last name and address. Bryce missed her like only a son can miss his mother. He was only six years old when she died of pneumonia. Geoffrey Rogers’s stern, clockwork-like heart ached each year as the leaves began to change color, signifying the return of autumn (the season of her untimely passing).

I don't do this on purpose, it just sort of comes out. I wouldn't say I have a bad relationship with my dad, though it has been strained in the past. Part of the problem I think has to do with how eager I am to please him. I think I set myself up for failure by trying to hard (and being to hard on myself). I also look at my father and see a lot of myself (which seems to piss both of us off). I guess it's just one of those things...

One (Wo)Man Band

So there's this game called ROCK BAND 2 that's about to come out (next month). To gear up, my and Leah have been playing more ROCK BAND. We've both been working on our drumming, because it's not our primary instrument (I do guitar, she sings) and it's hard because it involves your hands/arms AND the use of your foot (for the bass drum pedal). Right now I'm getting about 99%-98% 5-stars every time I play on Medium (which is a lame/easy setting I know). HOWEVER, when I up it to Hard I get my ass-kicked (sometimes I even fail).

So more practice is needed.

Anyway, we were messing around last weekend and Leah took over the drums. I picked up the mike and sang (really badly) for a few songs. Somehow Leah got it in her head to play and sing. The drums are still a bit too hard for her, so she switched over to guitar. See, even though she doesn't play it anymore...she used to play GUITAR HERO 2 way back in the wonderful-magical "dorm days."

Don't believe me? Check out this Limemonkey file photo:

Leah strapped on the guitar and I held the mike. Her favorite song is "Maps" by the Yeah, Yeah, that's what she tried. Even though she frequently has trouble multi-tasking in real life, Leah is a champ when it comes to video game multi-tasking. Not only did she do it, but she did pretty well at both. Here's her score (she was so giddy she made me take a snapshot of it):

I can't wait to see her play and sing Dylan's song in RB2. Truly that will be some awesome one-man-bandsmanship.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Moment of Silence for my iPOD

Leah just called me, she said that she just accidentally washed (and most likely killed) my iPOD. This is my third one.


All I have now are the memories.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Turtle Park

Saturday I took a really long walk, once again to Forest Park. Walking along the outer edge, I happened upon Turtle Park. I'd been there before, but this was the first time I'd ever been strictly on foot. The place was crawling with kids, parents, and giant turtles. If you've never climbed inside the mouth of a giant concrete turtle, well my've never lived.

Take a look:

Turle Park3

Turle Park2

Turle Park4

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This Just In: My Head is About to Explode


September 14, 2008.


* Abnormality - "Visions"
* AC/DC - "Let There Be Rock"
* AFI - "Girl's Gone Grey"
* Alanis Morissette - "You Oughta Know"
* Alice in Chains - "Man in the Box"
* Allman Brothers - "Ramblin' Man"
* Anarchy Club - "Get Clean"
* Avenged Sevenfold - "Almost Easy"
* Bad Company - "Shooting Star"
* Bang Camaro - "Night Lies"
* Beastie Boys - "So Watcha Want"
* Beck - "E-pro"
* Bikini Kill - "Rebel Girl"
* Billy Idol - "White Wedding Pt. I "
* Blondie - "One Way or Another"
* Bob Dylan - "Tangled Up in Blue"
* Bon Jovi - "Livin' on a Prayer"
* Breaking Wheel - "Shoulder to the Plow"
* Cheap Trick - "Hello There"
* Devo - "Uncontrollable Urge"
* Dinosaur Jr. - "Feel the Pain"
* Disturbed - "Down with the Sickness"
* Dream Theater - "Panic Attack "
* Duran Duran - "Hungry Like the Wolf"
* Elvis Costello - "Pump it Up"
* Fleetwood Mac - "Go Your Own Way"
* Foo Fighters - "Everlong "
* Guns N' Roses - "Shackler's Revenge"
* Interpol - "PDA"
* Jane's Addiction - "Mountain Song"
* Jethro Tull - "Aqualung"
* Jimmy Eat World - "The Middle"
* Joan Jett - "Bad Reputation"
* Journey - "Anyway You Want It"
* Judas Priest - "Painkiller"
* Kansas - "Carry On Wayward Son"
* L7 - "Pretend We're Dead"
* Lacuna Coil - "Our Truth"
* Libyans - "Neighborhood"
* Linkin Park - "One Step Closer"
* Lit - "My Own Worst Enemy"
* Lush - "De-Luxe"
* Mastodon - "Colony of Birchmen"
* Megadeth - "Peace Sells"
* Metallica - "Battery"
* Mighty Mighty Bosstones - "Where'd You Go"
* Modest Mouse - "Float On"
* Motorhead - "Ace of Spades "
* Nirvana - "Drain You"
* Norman Greenbaum - "Spirit in the Sky "
* Panic at the Disco - "Nine in the Afternoon"
* Paramore - "That's What You Get"
* Pearl Jam - "Alive"
* Presidents of the United States of America - "Lump"
* Rage Against the Machine - "Testify"
* Ratt - "Round & Round"
* Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Give it Away "
* Rise Against - "Give it All"
* Rush - "The Trees"
* Silversun Pickups - "Lazy Eye"
* Smashing Pumpkins - "Today"
* Social Distortion - "I Was Wrong"
* Sonic Youth - "Teenage Riot"
* Soundgarden - "Spoonman"
* Speck - "Conventional Lover"
* Squeeze - "Cool for Cats"
* Steely Dan - "Bodhitsattva"
* Steve Miller Band - "Rock'n Me"
* Survivor - "Eye of the Tiger"
* System of a Down - "Chop Suey "
* Talking Heads - "Psycho Killer"
* Tenacious D - "Master Exploder"
* Testament - "Souls of Black"
* That Handsome Devil - "Rob the Prez-o-Dent"
* The Donnas - "New Kid in School"
* The Go-Go's - "We Got the Beat"
* The Grateful Dead - "Alabama Getaway"
* The Guess Who - "American Woman"
* The Main Drag - "A Jagged Gorgeous Winter"
* The Muffs - "Kids in America "
* The Offspring - "Come Out & Play"
* The Replacements - "Alex Chilton"
* The Sterns - "Supreme Girl"
* The Who - "Pinball Wizard "

All I can is: Thank GOD I am no longer in college, because this game would fuck up my grades.

BREAKFAST Tonight...

One of my favorite things in the Loop is the Tivoli theater. It's an "art house" that occasionally plays some really good flicks mainstream movies. Leah and I saw THE DEPARTED there, for example.

The best part of the summer is "Midnight Movies" at the Tivoli. At the end of July they start having late-night revivals of cult films (both new and old). A few years back I saw DR. STRANGELOVE and THE MUPPET MOVIE. Great, great stuff.

The Tivoli

Anyway, tonight me and Leah are going to see that great ode to 80's teen-angst THE BREAKFAST CLUB. At midnight. Tonight. Now, I own this movie on DVD (because it's awesome), but as someone born in 1983...I didn't get to see it on the I'm excited. There's a big trend against the movies today. People my age and younger are opting to skip going out (instead choosing to illegally download it or wait 3 months for films to appear on DVD). For some reason, I'm different. I really enjoy going to the movies (even though as I've gotten older the manners of theater patrons has deteriorated). For me there's just something magical about seeing a movie in a big dark room, with total strangers.

*Don't you forget about me*

Friday, August 22, 2008

I Need Some Good News...

Anyone got any?

Did I mention I love Dinosaurs???

Last weekend I saw some Dinosaurs...big ones. I sometimes wish I'd followed through with my childhood dream and studied paleontology. There's not real money in that, but then again...there isn't much money in English either. Anyway, dinosaurs have always stoked the fires of my imagination (like they have for countless millions of people).

Why do we love them? Is it because they're "real" monsters? Is it because they come from a fantastic, primordial world (a world very alien to our own)?


I don't know. I only know that I love them and I always will.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Stop the World...I Want Off"

Stop the World...I Want Off

The Caesars "Boo Boo Goo Goo"

Strawberry Weed

Propelled to fame by, of all things, an iPod commercial--Sweden's The Caesars have finally given up on cracking American radio. How do I know this? Well they finally put a record out that DIDN'T have "Jerk it Out" on it.

I can understand the compulsion to stick that song on every record (money, anyone?). But I'm glad they've finally moved on. It's a shame the band never grew beyond the warm glow of Apple's advertising department...because the band is consistently cool.

A throwback to great British rock bands of the past (The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, etc.), The Caesars take classic rock and add a dash of modern (think: retro meets-techno). Every since the band's first record, 30 SECONDS OF BLISS (IN AN OTHERWISE MEANINGLESS WORLD), the band has impressed me with both thoughtful lyrics and catchy hooks (two thing I absolutely must have in my pop music). The latest record, STRAWBERRY WEED made me a bit hesitant however. Why? Because it's a dreaded "double-LP."

Some might argue that the double record can be successfully pulled off...but I'm always skeptical. The only exception to the "all non-live, double-LP's are bad" rule is perhaps THE BEATLES (also known as THE WHITE ALBUM). But let's face it, that record has a few odd moments that should have been cut ("Revolution 9")--and let's also face it, that record was 4-solo albums packaged together as a Beatles record.

But I digress, I'm off topic.

STRAWBERRY WEED is a moody, catchy bit of popular music that's good for cold autumnal evenings and/or warm summer nights driving around (with the top down). The first twelve songs (i.e. disc #1) is brilliant. The first single, "Boo Boo Goo Goo" is classic Caesars. Jangly guitars a-plenty. The shimmering tambourines and Beach Boy--like vocals on "She's Getting High" will put a smile on your face. The album's title track, "Strawberry Weed" is also really good (such nice images those boys paint).

Disc two is where somethings could go. Like all double records, there are some "filler-tracks." Most are strange, under-produced (very Lo-Fi/early Guided By Voices-sounding) tracks that sound like they were recorded in someones basement with an old tape deck. Some of these little ditties work, but most could go (in my humble opinion). Some of the tracks on the second disc are really good though, like the psychedelic "New Years Day." Meaning you can't just skip the second disc...they kinda made little "filler sandwiches" all over both discs.

What does this mean? It means in the end, you get a fantastic one-and-a-half Caesars record...with a handful of "blah" tracks. They're not very long, or really THAT terrible...but they do stick out. Especially when compared to the rest of the records highly-polished studio recording.

Maybe that's the point...maybe the band was trying to branch out or make a statement and I just don't get. But overall this is a good record. If you like bright, sunny sounding songs (with a slightly darker bent) you'll dig this record. If you like jangly British rock of yesterday and/or songs with the occasional handclap...then this is a record for you.

Jason gives STRAWBERRY WEED a "B-"

Where I work

My boss had me bring my camera to work (he has some machinery/equipment he wants to sell online). Anyway, I know there is some (moderate) curiosity among my family about where I work and what it's like. SO, I took a few extra pictures.

Our main drive:

Our fabulous back-dock area:

"My" office and "my" desk (I don't consider it my desk, and for the record that's not my mess on it):

Our "break-area":

Here's a picture of the inside of the warehouse, at first I didn't understand why it looked so "snowy." Then I realized my flash was catching tiny bits of dust/dirt/wood debris floating in the air. I'm pretty sure I should wear a mask when I go in there (this stuff is not visible to the eye, by the way):

I found this truck cabin, just sitting there by our dock. No one I talked to had any idea about it's history (or how the fuck it got like it is):

This is a door to a building that no longer exists (it's just a pile of glass and boards):

A view of our "office" from the back dock-area:

Click any of the above pictures and explore my world!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Planning and Scheming Adventure #1

Well who would have thunk it? Turns out there are quite a few people willing to take the "challenge" and walk their asses off. I'm not sure how many of them are very serious (or actually able to do this) but here's a list of the people who claim they're willing:

1. My sister Amber
2. Leah
3. Katie
4. Murph
5. Rusty

I have a feeling I'll probably be doing this thing alone...but we'll see. Maybe I'll be surprised. Anyway, I've readjusted what I'm doing. Instead of being TOTALLY insane and walking from Kansas City to St. Louis I'm going to start out by JUST doing the Katy Trail. There are a few hiccups concerning the Katy Trail (apparently their is a bridge that was removed near Booneville?), but I think it's still do-able. Go check out the Wiki page (main hazards: severe weather (not afraid), poison ivy (sorta afraid), and snakes (mildly afraid)). Here's the map showing the 225.1 mile trek:

I think the best way to do this is for me to take a train to KC then catch a ride to Clinton (the end point of the trail) and going BACK to STL-Land (the trail ends at St. Charles). There's still a lot of work ahead of me before I can attempt this--I'll need supplies (BOOTS) and I'll have to figure how how much food/water I'll need (and how to carry it). I'm shooting for a Spring 2009 date. I'll probably do a one-day trial run to test everything out...and what-not. Anyway, I'm going to do some more research on this. Anyone with thoughts on this let me know.

Damn you Diet, damn you...

There's a scene in PULP FICTION where Samuel L. Jackson's character grabs a dude's hamburger and takes a big bite. He smiles and says something to the effect of "That's a damn good girlfriend's a vegetarian, which basically makes me a I don't get to eat very much red-meat..."

Something like that.

Anyway, that's me right now. No, Leah isn't a vegetarian--but she is on this stupid @$$ "Carb" diet. All she eats is cheese cubes and meat. It's actually pretty gross (my girl smells like sausage). She's losing weight...blah, blah, blah...

Why am I on a rant about this?

BEHOLD! My fridge is frickin' empty:

Now I know what you're thinking, and the answer is "Yes we have plenty of money for food." The reason we don't have any food is because every time I buy food it goes bad. I buy bread or milk and I have to throw it away (because Leah isn't eating any of it). Anyway, if you look real'll see that really, all we have is Velveeta and eggs. Weird huh?

We went to the store tonight and picked up a few things, but our fridge is still painfully empty. I can't wait until after the wedding (when this diet is finally over).

I mean come on, Velveeta and eggs!!! Velveeta and eggs!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008


This weekend I was in Chicago (the windy city). I did some walking, not enough to counteract all the food and merrymaking that went down (I was there because my father-in-law's sister was celebrating her 60th birthday).

Anyway, on Saturday we walked to Lake Michigan...where they just happened to be having an awesome air show (saw the Blue Angels AND the Stealth!). Here are some highlights from the weekend. Enjoy:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Insane? Well that's why I want to do it...

So I'm at work (bored as usual). I've been pretty busy today, but the other office help, the 69 year-old secretary from hell, is absent (playing with grandkids in the park). So I've been having a quiet, stress-free day.

Anyway, I'm putting together a folder for our truck drivers of maps to our most frequent deliveries. We have some new guys and it was a pain to have to keep fetching directions for people. I figure if I cover the basics NOW, when I have time, I won't be bothered to do it when I have 1,000 things going on.

But that's not what this post is about. See, I'm using GOOGLE Maps and they've got a new beta-feature where you can either get directions by car or by walking. For shits-and-giggles I've been seeing how far away some of our deliveries are by foot (probably because I've been doing a LOT of walking lately--by the way, I lost 10 pounds last week doing so). That was fun, for a while, then I had a brilliant idea:

I looked up how far/long a walk from MY house in St. Louis to my PARENTS house in Lee's Summit would be. This is where it gets crazy--268 miles. Which GOOGLE Maps thinks should take about 3 days and 16 hours.

I want to do this. This is my new goal. I realize that this is dangerous, and stupid (hell, GOOGLE even told me so). But I've always wanted to "Walk Across America." This is not that, not by a long shot...but it's a start. However, it is a dangerous endeavor. I will need supplies. There is the problem of sleeping (where will I do that?). But those things can be worked out. My biggest problem is companionship--who will go with me? Because for safety reasons I'll need a second person. I could go alone, believe me...but my parents and Leah wouldn't like that.

Leah can't do it (she nearly died the Sunday we walked to the Loop). I don't have very many friends, those that I have either aren't interested in this sort of thing OR unable to do it for physical reasons (wimps). So right now this is my hurdle--I have to find someone willing to waste 3 days.

Any takers?

Didn't think so.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Ah, summer where did it go? Many look to the changing of the leaves to signify the end of yet another lazy-hazy summer. But not me, because even though I'm no longer in school I'm still a kid who gauges summer by the movies. Last night me and Leah went to the last midnight screening for a big-deal summer flick. A superhero movie? Believe it or, it was a comedy (apparently Hollywood can still make other kinds of movies after all).

It would be downright criminal of me to spoil TROPIC THUNDER's enormous cameo-list. Suffice to say: the film is packed, wall-to-wall, with the stars. Since it's the films worst-kept secret, I will say that Tom Cruise is hilarious as a bald, fat, maniacal studio executive. The admission price alone is worth it just to see his "victory dance." Other than Cruise, the film is Robert Downey Jr.'s show (what a summer that guy's had). Much has been made of his "blackface"'s a hilarious attack on method acting that is anything but racist. In fact, the entire movie is one big-ass/guns blazing attack on the ludicrous world of La-La-Land itself. Anyone thinking TROPIC THUNDER is a war movie is dead wrong (pun intended). That Ben Stiller (co-star, co-writer, and director of the film) would make such a send-up of his profession AND STILL GET SO MANY A-LIST ACTORS TO CAMEO is a credit to how likable/how many friends Stiller must have in the biz.

While not a complete, wall-to-wall "yuk fest" like many reviewers led me to believe it was, TROPIC THUNDER's humor is consistently funny and highly unpredictable (which is good because the plot is predictable as hell--if you've seen the classic Martin/Short/Chase comedy THREE AMIGO'S, you'll be able to guess what's going to happen next). Unlike many comedies, the fun isn't in the situation but how the characters react to that situation.

The only aspect of this film that disappointed me was Jack Black (who apes both Eddie Murphy and Jim Belushi). With so many quick cameos, and the Stiller/Downey main plot, I felt like Black was reduced to the background one too many times. The guy could have been much funnier than the script allowed. Despite this missed opportunity, TROPIC THUNDER is the year's best comedy (so far). Check it out, and don't forget to enjoy all those 'splosions.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Books you just can't finish

I love reading. I could write a (very long) book about my love of reading...But for now, let's talk about something else. Call it the "darkside of reading." The part that's ugly and shameful (sorta). I'm talking about books we start, but never finish.

I used to obsess about finishing books. I guess it was because I still had the naive school-boy notion that everything in print was worth reading. If I was reading a book, and finding it difficult, the problem was with ME and not said book. Only when I grew up and starting thinking for myself that, like movies and albums, books can be both good and bad. Or rather, some have more merit than others.

I came to the conclusion (which I still hold) that life is too short to waste reading something that's too much of a struggle. Thus, I have a nice little list of books I've started, read (sometimes over half-way) and never finished:

1. MOBY DICK by Herman Melville--I know, as an English major I SHOULD love it...but it's so dense. And it's boring. If you want a good yarn about the sea, read something else. If you want an encyclopedia about late 19th century whaling, read MOBY DICK.

2. BLEAK HOUSE by Charles Dickens--again, I know I should love this but "too many characters + archaic British stuff=I can't make it through this." I love GREAT EXPECTATIONS, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, and OLIVER TWIST...just not BLEAK HOUSE.

3. SHOGUN by James Clavell--great, lengthy historical-epic about Japan. Problem is, it's too damn epic. Weighing over 1152 pages, I just couldn't do this one (let alone the others in the "Asian Saga"). This book was recommended to me by a friend I worked it at B. Dalton, he was a Japanese/History major. If you are too, then be my guest.

4. Every-Michael-Crichton-book-post-AIRFRAME--Used to dig Crichton's tech-thrillers, now I have no use for 'em. Much like Tom Clancy and John Grisham, Crichton has gotten stale in his old age/success. I'm pretty sure he just cranks one out anytime he need a new house. Or boat. Or house-boat. *Yawn*

5. THE LORD OF THE RINGS--again, as a geek/English major I should be all over this one...except that I can't seem to get through the last book. Once I almost did, but then I lost it. Only to find it several years later. If I could just line them all up and go for it, maybe I'd make it. But then Peter Jackson went and made a 14 hour movie that's actually better than the books (nice one Pete) so it's pretty much pointless.

6. HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE--I was doing pretty good with the Potter books until I got to book 4 (also known as "the first really long one"). I see a pattern on this list, but I assure you--I can read long novels. Just not many. Guess I have literary ADD.

7. GRAVITY'S RAINBOW/AGAINST THE DAY--I love Pynchon's short stories (and his one short novel THE CRYING OF LOT 49), but I just can't do these books. I have RAINBOW, and have successfully read the first 50 pages four times. After that it gets so hard to follow/understand/comprehend that I just give up. AGAINST THE DAY was cool because I was going to read it with a friend, but he chickened out...then my copy had to go back to the library (I was a poor college student when it came out in hardback and I couldn't afford to spend nearly $60 on Pynchon's MASSIVE novel-to-end-all-novels). I saw it in paperback at Borders and just kept right on walking.

So there ya go. Now, my question is: what books have you been unable to finish? Why?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kill Your Children

One of the hardest parts of writing is editing.

I just spent about an hour working away on an old story, and I must say--it's nearly as exhausting as writing. What's more, now that I'm editing with the intent of sending away for possible publication the process has become more intense. Magazines don't have unlimited space, and most of the places I've found have strict word-limits.

I'm finding that paring down my stories is like killing my children. Sometimes it's easy (I found a large section that with one mighty slash was excised completely with no detriment done to the narrative), most times it's damn hard. My biggest problem is the whole "begin with a bang" theory. Most places seem to want stories that grab the reader by the balls from word one. For some reason, I quit doing this a few years ago--everything I have seems to deliberately start slow. Thus, I am having to re-write my introductory paragraph/page(s). Fee-fi, ho-hum...a writer's job is never done.

Editing is a bitch. Time for bed.

Old and a New


Ghost Buffalo

Saturday, August 09, 2008

"A Story of Detection"

I just finished a very good book (novella, it's a very brisk 131 pages) by Michael Chabon entitled THE FINAL SOLUTION: A STORY OF DETECTION. I was drawn to this book because I've been hearing a lot about Chabon. In 2001 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY (which I want to read). Interestingly though, he also wrote screenplays for X-Men and The Fantastic Four movies...that were both rejected by 20th Century Fox.

Good enough to win the Pulitzer, but not good enough to write about Professor X?

Anyway, I was browsing in Borders when I happened upon THE FINAL SOLUTION. The story takes place in the 1940's in the English countryside. As the second World War rages across Europe, a mystery surrounding a mute Jewish orphan and his pet parrot (who speaks a strange series of German) pulls an 89 year-old detective out of retirement. There is murder and there is intrigue, but Chabon's novella is ultimately about more than mere mystery. It's about what mysteries mean to us. It's about a man compelled to seek information, to seek truth.

Though he's never specifically named, it's obvious that the retired (and very famous) detective is Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (the "Final Solution" being a Holmes story, as well as Hitler's plan to eliminate the Jews). Don't let that possibility make you dismiss this story, it's complex and unlike most detective stories I've ever read. This is a somber human drama wrapped in a murder-mystery.

Chabon has a light, but very literary voice that can be a bit daunting (at least at first). And I must admit, there were a few words I had to go and look up (which is never a bad thing, really). Anyway, if you're looking for something engaging AND a little challenging you should pick this one up.


Went and saw PINEAPPLE EXPRESS on Thursday night. For some reason (probably because Leah has Friday off) we've been going to the late show on Thursday nights. It's fun.

Anyway, it's your typical stoner-comedy with a twist--it's also an homage to those '80's "buddy" action movies. The smoke billows and the bullets blaze. It's the sort of comedy that pimply High Schoolers love (even though they're not always old enough). If I was part of DARE or MADD or whatever, I'd be pretty upset by the film--one (hilarious) scene involves two pot-heads raising some quick cash by selling to 13 year olds.

Essentially the film is a "on the run" action/comedy. A strange sort of Odd-Coupling between a slacker Process Server and his laid-back dealer. The film works, until the end when there is a tacked on/forced "being stoned all the time is bad" message. I guess I felt like it was forced because it comes out of left field AND is quickly abandoned by the end of the film. It might have been a joke (or the filmmakers trying to be ironic) but in a moronic film (it's lovably moronic), irony needs to be anything but subtle.

Much like the late Heath Ledgers turn as The Joker in the new Batman flick, I was surprised by the odd casting of pretty-boy actor/director James Franco. Franco plays a goofy drug dealer that, while unrealistic, is nonetheless convincing. I applaud Franco's comedic talents, and hope he doesn't go back to playing "sweetheart" roles. Worth checking out if you enjoyed the other recent Judd Apatow productions (SUPEBAD, 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, KNOCKED UP, etc.) Everyone else either stay away or rent.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What Really Grinds My Gears

Anyone remember that episode of FAMILY GUY? No???

Alright, skip it. What really grinds my gears is when people tell ME to wish THEM "good luck." I have a friend on FACEBOOK (which is lame, I know...but I'm too invested to give it up now) who recently posted on my wall about some life change. She also said:

"wish me luck."

Wow. For some reason this grinds my gears. First off, I'm perfectly capable of wishing people luck. I've done it before. Secondly, I don't like being essentially blackmailed into wishing someone luck. I mean think about it, if someone tells you "wish me luck" then you don't--aren't you pretty much an asshole?

While I'm on this strange rant, let me give you another thing that "grinds my gears." When I go to the movies, sometimes I visit the concession stand. When I finish my business with the cashier they always say, "enjoy your movie." Now, being a semi-intelligent person I always reply "thank you." HOWEVER, what grinds my gears is--the whole time I'm standing in line I have to listen to moron after moron respond with "You too."

The cashier isn't about to watch a movie!!! This grinds my gears because it only goes to show how automatic/genuine people really are when it comes to politeness. "Thank you" only means something when you mean it.

This has been "What Grinds My Gears With Peter...I Mean Jason."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"The Green Lion That Will Save My Ass"

Come, walk with me...

Today was the fifth day in a row that I've taken one of my "long walks." Leah's not too crazy about me doing it, and I can understand. On Sunday I took her with me and even with a lengthy break at Cicero's she nearly died. Me, I'm built like my old man (who is built like a pack mule)--in short, I was built for long distance treks.

One of my long time dreams has always been to pull a Forrest Gump and walk across America. Every time I read/hear about some brave soul that's done it I always listen carefully (and take careful mental notes).

I bet you think I take my iPOD. Well you're wrong. I thought about it, but frankly--you need to be paying FULL attention when you're out walking around this world. People in this country do not know what a fucking cross walk is. Seriously. So far my feet have held up, unlike last summer when I walked my ass-off doing the security thing in KC. I know (and love) someone who for some reason thinks being a security guard means you do nothing...I know. The first time she said it, I shrugged it off. The second time I nearly slapped the shit out of her (luckily, I adhere to a strict "no hitting" policy when it comes to girls). That said, do THESE LOOK LIKE THE FEET OF SOMEONE "DOING NOTHING"???? that off my chest...

Anyway, today it wasn't raining (like yesterday) so I was able to take my camera along with me. Despite living in and around this area for three years (give or take), I was shocked at how little of it I'd actually "seen." Things look different when you're whizzing by at 35MPH. Get out of your car sometime and look around, things are different--you'll notice all sorts of little details.

My biggest "find" has been Lewis Park. I had no idea this park even existed, despite the fact that it's near my home! The reason for this is because Delmar (the road) sits pretty high up.

It's a pretty nice park, they have a little pond with fountains...and a fish on a bicycle???

Though some might think the green water is gross, I always find algae beautiful.

Another thing that I've discovered on my walks, is that the entire University City area is protected by a legion of stone lions:

I'm never worried when I'm out walking around, I know those fellows got my back.

Lastly, for a certain member of Leah's family (who thinks I DON'T make enough weird faces):