Sunday, December 17, 2006

And...We're Back.

Sorry all, my computer went into the shop and when I got it back, it had been so long since I had logged in that my blogger password needed to be re-entered, and I couldn't remember it, and I was too busy with school to care enough to set it back up. So...I just got to it. Just now. Right now.

Let's see...I finished the semester, I have no idea what kind of grades I got except that I'm sure they're okay, although I'm afraid my group project might not have turned out well...I'm not sure that anybody turned in our analysis paper for A Streetcar Named Desire, but I did turn in the biography for Tennessee Williams. Hmm. But I know I got a good grade in my Human Rights class, and I already know I got an A in my Film Noir class and a B+ in math. Possibly a B of some kind in Modern Drama (thank my group project to counter-balance my final paper), but again, the group project grade for US Writers might bring me down a bit. Hopefully not, though.

Spent a weekend in Vegas. Did the usual Vegas things, you know, all-you-can-eat buffets, all-you-can-drink bars, fountain at the Bellagio, puked on Wayne Newton, won a fortune at the tables, got chased by gangsters, lost a fortune at the slots, married a floosie, and danced with the Chippendales on the Hoover Dam. Although, now that I come to think of it, that may have been a vodka-tonic induced dream.

I wrote a new play! It's short, needs a bit of work, but with the Surfacing deadline coming up, I should totally get on that and finish it. Plus, the Green Fuse deadline is coming up, so I need to either polish off an old story from Meramec or write something new...I guess, though, that I can either edit a play and a story or write a new story, and since I want to submit to both, I should focus on revisions.

For those of you unaware, Surfacing is the student written-directed-acted-in festival at Webster, and the Green Fuse is the student literary magazine. Oh, I forgot...I've also got a submission into Currents from last spring. Currents is the Meramec student literary magazine. I could be published twice and produced once in the same calender year! That would be awesome! Let's aim for that...although, all I can really do is submit, after that it's out of my hands.

Oh, speaking of things being out of my hands, I stepped down from my specialist position at Target. Most of this has to do with school scheduling, classes and workstudy you know, but part of it has to do with (to use Will Wilcox's famous New Year's 1997 quote) "large amounts of bullshit" that I have put up with recently, the most recent being the reaction of my executive team leader when I told her the news. She lacks tact. She lacks compassion. She lacks the capacity to be a decent person. Just for the record, it has nothing to do with me "bailing out" on my department or the store. Jerry will be leaving, and they need somebody to take over ad prep, and preferrably somebody who knows how to do it, so no, I am not bailing out on the store. I have offered my services to do the early morning return scans for the Entertainment department and help out with street date when it is needed, so I am not bailing out on my department. I feel awful that I am stepping down because Melissa will have trouble without me. It will be hard to train a new specialist, even if it is who we think it's going to be. I even offered to train my replacement. I feel a little bit like I am letting down Melissa, Cleo, my old ETL Katie who battled so hard for me, and Jackie and Shelly who always listened, and Jeff who I'm pretty sure wouldn't have let me step down a year ago when I was first thinking about it. But I think the only way to let my current ETL down would be to continue in my position. This way, it's like I'm playing into her hands.

Except that I'm not playing into her hands, I'm stepping down because my academic career depends on it. But try telling her that. She won't hear it because she doesn't listen to me, and never has. And that is one of the reasons I am stepping down. Not the main reason, but it certainly played a role.

So there we go.

Music to Blog By:
Christmas Music because it is December 17th after all.

Discussed in this post:

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


So I think I may need a new job. Anybody have any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why Math has Ruined My Life

Because Math loves adding.

Because Math loves adding activities and obligations to my days.

Because Math loves adding everything to my days.


Math has never added a single extra second to my days.

When Math has subtracted something from my day, Math has then added something twice as time consuming, so it feels like all that has actually been subtracted is seconds, minutes, or hours.

This is why Math has ruined my life.

That, and I have to spend my Tuesday nights getting accosted by horny fourteen year old Webster Groves High School freshmen girls. Which, of course, I may have liked back in 1997 when I was a fourteen year old Webster Groves High School freshman boy, but now that I'm married and quite a bit older and rather cognizant of statutory rape laws, I am less inclined to be amused by or interested in the attentions of said females.

Which brings me to another reason I hate Math.

Because doing Math homework takes time away from Writing, or riding, or doing other homeworks.

Stupid Math.

Music to Blog By: Blind Melon - Three is the Magic Number
(you've got to be kidding me...that's really what's playing...)

Discussed in this post:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Urban Exploration

Check out the last link over on my links section. I just found this site about Urban Exploration of abandoned buildings, while I was looking for information about the River Roads Mall in Jennings, MO. Also, check out the host site, because it's got more blogs about urban exploration.

I think this is something I would like to know more about. I'm not sure I'm cut out for actually being an explorer myself, not just because I'm a weenie little lanky girly man, but also because I don't really have time. However, it's an interesting idea, and something that I find fascinating. I can remember my uncle Dennis telling me of his college-days Urban Exploration, not only in Lawrence, KS where he went to school, but also in Kansas City and here in St. Louis; particularly the Continental Life Insurance Building in Grand Center. This building is, of course, now a set of very upscale condos, so any exploration I wanted to do there would hinge on me knowing somebody that lives there. Oh well. Perhaps we'll see a story involving this sort of thing...perhaps not, I'm going to do more research on it.

So, no blogitty for weeks and weeks and all of a sudden, THREE blogs in two days.

I guess there's got to be a break in the monotony, but Jesus when it rains how it pours.

Music to Blog By: OK Go - Here It Goes Again

Discussed in this post:

Are We Dogs, or Are We Men?

Just saw an ad for Quaker Weight Control Oatmeal. Aside from the overall affront to my hope for Americans that we can beat obesity without resulting to gimmicks (I mean, come on, people, it's not that hard to take a ten minute walk once a week and hold off on seconds at dinner time every so often), I noticed something oddly familiar about the font used for the words Weight Control on the boxes. This nagged at me for several minutes.

It wasn't until later, when I went back to the Pet Care department at work, that I noticed that the font and color for the text was the exact same for the same words on the Purina Farms Weight Control Dog Chow. Coincidence?

My friends out there in the Blogniverse (it's a new word, don't try and look it up, but give Webster's a few years and then, when they find out I'm the first one that used it, my repuation as a writer will be etched in stone for all eternity), let us not bow to the condescension enforced upon us by the joint evil that is the Quaker/Purina alliance (Quakers/Purina...Quakers and Puritans?). Let us rise above, excercise, eat right, and above all, don't let Corporate America turn you into a dog.
If you stand with me, and fight, a mighty blow will be struck in the name of Freedom and Liberty (Liberty = Liberal = Not a Bad Word, You Bastard Conservatives, plus with all your spending on cutting down trees, digging up oil and destroying other countries, just what is it you're Conserving?). If you choose to ignore this, and let The Quakers and The Puritans take you down a whole peg, well...then, the Terrorists win.

This Blog has been brought to you by the joint venture Iams Science Diet/Nabisco Corporations.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Oops, I Pulled a Jerry...

Had to be done.

So, sorry to all, here's an update:

I started school at the end of August, new school, Webster University. The classes are fantastic but the business office can lick my nutpick (also been listening to the Weekly Puzzle on NPR's Weekend Edition). Things I have learned so far in my classes are; Christopher Columbus receives the distinction of being the first emo-kid in the New World (just read his letters to Isabelle and Ferdinand in 1502); Henrik Ibsen is not too cool for school, in fact he is not cool enough for school; WGHS Room 251 harbors bad karma for me, even now, five years after I graduated and seven years after I had a class in that room; Fred McMurray is creepy when he tries to be smooth with the ladies.

Things I have learned outside of class; Parking is a bitch, no matter how many new parking lots they open; workstudy is a lot more study than work it seems; going to school full time and working full time and having workstudy and trying to take care of a house is not as easy as it sounds; Kathleen Weber is not to be trusted with your film noir book; I'm still at least as good at Improv as I was in high school; as much as I miss the dorm experience, I wouldn't want to live with the freshmen; Allegra Grazanti (who went to my high school no less) severely underestimates the appeal the words "Free Pizza" have on a flyer, even if the flyer is advertising something as mundane as Literature Club; Chris Richards must not go to school there, because I find it hard to believe that we are in the same year, same major, and the same emphasis even, and yet have never seen each other on campus; reading Freud or Emerson at work makes you look like the biggest geek ever.

Also, I did not partake in the three day novel contest. Nor did I participate in the Gateway Cup. I did homework, Tour de Judy, went to a bar with some friends, and hung out with my family.

And today, I overslept due to the inordinate amount of homework I have (which I am neglecting to do right now, actually), had a slow-onset panic attack that reached full blown proportions around 10:45 this morning, and so I had to go home. Boo.

I really want to step down. Maybe even find a new job closer to campus. Hmm.

Anybody have any ideas?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Cry Sadness Right Now

Haha, that's the first line of a Haiku I wrote Monday, titled "Haiku, Emo Style." Ask Rich about it. But really, the reason I am crying sadness (though not really, 'tis just a saying) is that I don't think enough people read my cycling blog, which is sad because it's exceedingly clever and insightful. Well, no, but it's a nice bit of writing that's not written about writing, but rather about riding, and so it's much less cumbersome to read (at least for me) than this blog is. That having been said, I think I should be writing more than just in blog form, but I am glad I started my cycling blog as it gives me a reason to sit down several times a week and flex my creative muscle. So, if for nothing else, go read it because you're my friend and don't want to piss me off.

And so, for bringing me here, Bill Gates Must Die!

Music to Blog By: John Vanderslice - Bill Gates Must Die!

Discussed in this post:

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Writer

How clever am I?

Unfortunately, being that it's July, and I already have a limited amount of free time, that free time has not been spent writing since July First, but rather catching up on le Tour de France, or ranting about it on my cycling blog, or watching it, or playing with my bike. Add to that the fact my cat is kinda sick (kinda = lots), that means I haven't been writing.

Now, I have the germ of an idea in my head. It involves (of course) cycling. But instead of being about Banning Jacobs (my resident semi-pro cyclist) it's probably going to be about James, Will and Colin's friend from Karlston, MO who went to college with them. He's one of my rarely used characters, the only major problem he's ever encountered was that his high school girlfriend broke up with him for some troglodyte-19-year-old-sophomore-type, and that problem was gracefully overshadowed by William's college application essay dilemma. So, I think it's time to add depth to him, instead of just have him being this comic foil, someone to further the plot without disrupting it. You may recall, he played a key role in setting up Michael Rose with Brooke Fairman, and then promptly vanished from the story line.

So, what's going on with James? Well, after college, he met Brooke's friend Cynthia, and finally attempting to get his feet wet after a particularly tragic break-up, he acquiesced to Colin and Brooke's urging and took Cynthia out on a date. Four months later, they were married. And this is where we jump into the new story, after the marriage, after Brooke leaves Minnesota for Honolulu, after Colin, Tom and Michael get bested by her as she's leaving, and just as James rides his bike through Minnehaha park.

Music to Blog By: Brewer - One Toke Over the Line

Discussed in this post:

Monday, June 26, 2006


Alright, folks, well, I went through some careful planning, e-mailed a bunch of people, got a handful of responses, set the first meeting for June 25th, and one person showed up. Well, no, okay, two people, Angelic and her other half, Joe, but for the love of all things good and decent, why didn't anybody else come? You see, it would have been nice to have at least one other person there, so we could maybe discuss some things. Oh well...ridiculous. I know that a few people who had wanted to come couldn't make it, and they had told me they couldn't make it, but there were several who just didn't show. Okay. Maybe we should try this again. Two weeks from yesterday, I say we have another go. Anybody want to host it?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

To Those Interested In A Writing Group...

Hello everybody. I really meant to post this right away, after the semester ended, but my father-in-law had a heart attack the day we got our portfolios back, so, that sort of drove everything from my mind. Anyway, this is about the writing group I mentioned before. Is everybody still game? Here's my idea: we get a bunch of people together (all of us writers, so feel free to invite others if you think they'll enjoy it) maybe once a month, not always at the same place (take turns hosting or something, I don't know), and do a workshop sort of thing. I discussed this (briefly) with Chris, because she had asked if it was going to be strictly fiction or if other styles would be okay (poetry, non-fiction, et al). I don't want this to be too specific, as far as saying it has to be short stories or it has to be this or that or whatever, but instead leave it up to the writer to decide what to write, and the only thing the rest of us need to worry about is the workshop aspect of it.

The reasoning behind this is, to me anyway, that the workshop helps me understand my own writing better, and I guess it does the same for the rest of you. As writers, we're always striving for something, wether it be the perfect story or the perfect moment in the story, or the perfect line of poetry, or capturing the way you felt when your uncle tossed you into the pool though you couldn't swim and you were wearing cuordoroy pants and spiderman boots (not that that ever happened to me...), or whatever. I ramble, sorry. See, I think our first workshop could be done solely on this e-mail alone. Anyway, if people are still interested, e-mail me back, and we'll try to work out some details somehow. I would love to maybe get some better way of getting in touch with people, something more instantaneous and interactive (oh god, I sound like a technofile all of a sudden...I'm talking about a group message board, ack!). We'll think of something. Right now, I am thinking maybe one Sunday a month, get together, have some food, some drinks, some readings and lively discussions, and of course only the occasional throwing of something breakable to the ground accompanied by screams of "You just don't get my writing, nobody does! I'm the next f*cking Faulkner and you're all just too blind to see!"

Also, as I said, if you have any friends you think may be interested not from class, feel free to invite them along. And, in addition, um, Mark and Angelic...I seem to have misplaced everybody's e-mail from fall semester. Well, except for you two. Bad e-managment on my part. Anyway, yes. So, an almost carbon-copy of this e-mail is going into my blog and on my myspace profile (there's that technofile thing again) and hopefully that gets the word out a bit more.

Hope to hear from you all soon!

Music to Blog By: The Stranglers - Golden Brown

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Amen, Gerald

I totally agree.

Just thought I'd share that with everybody.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Norfolk, NE

This seems to be a recurring theme, huh? I write a post and the title is, enigmatically at first, just the name of a city and a state. And so, the pondering begins. Is Elliot visiting relatives? Is he imagining another town for his fiction?

My father-in-law went in for surgery on Tuesday. This was planned, because he had bone spurs on his spine that had to be removed, because they were causing him a lot of pain. He was unable to walk or lie flat. So, on Tuesday evening, just as they were finishing the surgery (which went well except for the fact that his bones were tougher than expected), he had a heart attack. Terrifying, yes, but right place and right time. They were able to respond instantaneously. My mother-in-law began the calls around 7:30, going down the list of her ten children, so Kathy was number 7 (but got told 8th because Dan lives in Norfolk) and we were called close to 8. We made plans to leave immediately.

I would like to, at this point, thank Target. I called to let them know I had to go out of town for a few days, and that I would miss my Thursday and Friday shifts. I was told that family is important and that it would be no problem.

We left first thing Wednesday morning, arrived just as they were removing his breathing tube, so he could talk. All ten kids are here now (well, the two youngest are back home, because they have school in the morning but they were here) and everything is looking up, but still. What a harrowing experience for everybody. It's nice to see how much this family cares and it's great that we can smile and laugh and act so normal in the face of things. It's great, it's fantastic, and I think, down the road, I may have a story to write about it.

Greetings from Nebraska.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


So, I turned in my Fiction Writing portfolio today. Of course, having turned it in, I wish I had it back so I could do a little bit more work, but Angela (that's my teacher, Angela Hamilton. That is her name and she is my teacher) will just have to deal with it as is. Or rather, I will have to deal with it as is.

I apologize, Mark (that's my friend, Mark Baier. That is his name and he is my friend) for volunteering you to read today when you didn't have the right glasses. You did a great job of 700 Club Bashing. That aside, I look forward to reading the rest of your stories, all that you have to write from now on.

And now, an ode to those others who read today (should they ever find my blog):

Ryan, your writing is vivid and visual, and I'm glad I sat next to you, because your doodling kept me usefully entertained.

Monique, of course now I want to read the whole thing. I know you weren't thrilled with story two, but I sure did like it, and story three was no different.

Caroline, even moreso with the revisions, your writing (of that particular story) holds a wonderful tone of a child's innocence, which I am sure I could probably not pull off in my writing anymore. I applaud and admire you for that.

Matt S., your writing jumps off the page. I wish I had gotten the opportunity to read more of your work. Thanks for pouring my soda, too. Nice form.

Jeff, keep working, you will continue to improve. I was impressed with the progress on story one from our first workshop.

Chris, as always your writing invites me to close my eyes and watch. You make it play across the mind's eye, and it's because you are such a strong poet that makes you such a strong fiction writer.

Music to Blog by: Paul Simon - 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Arctic Monkeys - When The Sun Goes Down
Planet Smashers - Life of the Party

Discussed in this post:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

An out-of-topic Rant...

...then I promise, right back to writing.

Obligations are obligations, let's be clear on that. Yes, it is nice to have the exact same schedule every week, because it's predictable, and even those of us who adore a last-minute change of plans--say, taking off to the Bahamas instead of spending the weekend doing yardwork--like our lives to be, for the most part, ordered and predictable. But, obligations are obligations, and you are obliged, as a human being who works to earn money to survive, to check and make sure that the status quo for this week has not experienced any changes. What am I driving at here? I'll tell you.

Check your work schedule, Robb.

I haven't slept in a day and a half. With my fiction portfolio due on Tuesday (with complete revisions on "How to Write a Three Day Novel," "Look At How Ugly the Stars Are," "Kissing Girls, Here and There," and a completely new, never-before-seen story (which I haven't started, really, because every time I start I get stuck and revise "Kissing" some more, a long process I won't bore you with details of at the moment), the refinance on the house, the ever-worsening bath tub caulk fiasco, and (of course) the 4 am to 12:30 pm entertainment scan shift at work this morning, (oh, and also the all-day preparation of dinner yesterday, which, in reality, I won't complain about because I love grilling, even if it is at 11:45 in the morning, and I can still smell the porksteak and the bbq marinade it cooked in for five hours), I just sort of depended on the schedule, hoping that I had built in enough time to do work, homework, sleep, house duties. I also depended on other people's scheduling abilities, which time has tried to teach me again and again is useless, but this time I think I really got it. So, five employees scheduled 4-12:30. Let's call the four that were not me Rich, Cleo, David and Robb. That is, actually, their names, so that will make it easier. Rich and Cleo were no problem at all. Fantastic as always. David called at 4:30 to ask if he was still needed. Problem? Yes. Still needed. Mostly, still needed because Robb hadn't shown up. At least David had the decency to call. Whatever, though. This just means that I was right in February when I said to myself, "Robb isn't really, uh, he's not so good." Now, on top of being two hours late on Tuesday, he should get into some real trouble maybe. This will get the ball sssssssssllllllllllllllllooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwlllllllllllllllllyyyyyyy rolling (that's meant to mean it will roll very slowly as it always does at the big red bullseye) on his going bye-bye.

Okay, that's enough, no more work-related rants, I intend for this blog to be a haven from such drivel, but really, I just had to vent a little bit.

Music to Blog By:
Come Find Yourself by The Fun Lovin' Criminals
(It's on my Essentials playlist. Do you have an Essentials playlist? You should.)

Discussed in this post:

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Writing Exercise, and Advice *UPDATED*

*In the grand tradition of giving credit where credit is due, I have this disclaimer to add:
The following writing exercise was suggested to me by Pam Garvey, a Creative Writing instructor at St. Louis Community College at Meramec.*

Sometimes, as a writer, I get bogged down in a certain narrative style, point of view, tone, or language (use of language, not, you know, stuck using Czechoslovakian). Here is a handy exercise that really has helped me figure out how I am going to go about fixing my latest short story (the twenty-one page epic "Kissing Girls, Here and There"). I had gotten only as far as this exercise gets, and I wasn't sure where else to take it, so I rewrote the beginning a different way. I ultimately stuck with the original way, but the second way helped so much in that it let me see my main character through eyes that were not his. I even thought about going back and rewriting it from yet another perspective, and in fact I am considering taking the whole story and writing it in four different ways (having already written the "other side of the story" with "Look At How God Damn Ugly the Stars Are") just to see how else my characters can surprise me.

Without further ado, the exercise:

Take a passage from a longer short story you have written or are in the process of writing, or take an entire piece of shorter, flash-style fiction (say, 500 words or less) and rewrite it either from another narrative perspective (i.e. third person instead of first person, second person instead of third, or go more subtle and write it in third person limited perspective if it's written third person omniscient) or rewrite it using another character as the conduit through which we see the world you have created. If you are feeling ambitious (like I was), try doing both; if you've originally written it in third person omniscient with Character A as the main conduit through which we see the world, maybe try writing it in first person with Character B or even Character C as the narrator.

I have taken an excerpt from my WiP (work in progress, from now on I won't remind you of that) titled "Kissing Girls, Here and There" and rewritten it. The original text (in third person limited) is first, then following is the exercise, written in first person through a different character:

Cameron decided to become a math tutor, because he didn’t have a job, didn’t need one anyway, but was bored and wanted something to do. So, he talked to his first semester math teacher and that’s how he met Amanda; the week before Valentine’s Day she knocked on his door and Banning opened it.
“Hello, what can I do for you?” he asked, barely looking at her as he kicked a foot-shaped doorstop into place and wandered back to the middle of the room where his bicycle sat, dismantled.
“Bike trouble?” she asked, picking her way to a chair, stepping daintily around sprockets and other unidentifiable bits of bicycle. Cameron was lying on the bottom bunk of the beds, reading an electronics magazine. Peering from behind the pages, he watched her walk with grace, a dangerous span of four feet, the floor littered with his roommate’s perpetual junk, but she didn’t seem to be looking down; her large, soft blue eyes never wavered from their mark; the plush easy chair near the head of the bed. Cameron sat up, folded the magazine over his right leg, and immediately wished he had showered after his run. She sat in the chair and, for the first time, made eye contact with him. “Which one of you is Cameron?” she asked.
“That’s him,” Banning said, pointing at Cameron, who smiled at her. She smiled back, her lips easily moving into place, her eyes growing and, he thought, glowing.
“I’m your math student,” she said. “Amanda Abrahms. Doctor Macke said you could help anybody get an ‘A’ in his class. I’ll take a ‘B’ so you won’t have to work as hard, though.” He smiled at this, let out a little bit of a laugh. She laughed out loud, so loud it shook Cameron’s chest. “We’re going to have a problem if you don’t start talking.” She gave him a coy look.
“Fantastic shirt,” he finally said, though there was nothing spectacular about the shirt. She was wearing a UC Boulder t-shirt over a pink long sleeve tee. He swung his legs to the ground and the magazine fell to the floor. He bent over to pick it up, but it had slid close to her foot and she was reaching down to get it, too. They bumped heads, and both came up after exchanging “ohs” and a “sorry” or two.

New Text:

My roommate Cameron never did anything but go to class and take these long walks with his camera. He came to a bike race I did the third week of first semester and took some pictures, but that was the extent of our sharing anything more than living space. It must be nice, I thought, to have enough money coming from home that you don’t need to have a job, but he seemed bored and restless anyway so I was glad when he announced he was going to be tutoring second semester.
It took until the first week of February to find somebody to tutor. Racing season was getting ready to start, so I had my racing bike disassembled in our dorm room on Wednesday that week when somebody knocked on our door. “That’s probably my student,” he said from behind his magazine, or catalogue, whatever it was. He was laying on his bed, and despite the fact that I had grease all over my hands, he didn’t show even the slightest movement towards answering the door.
“I’ll get it,” I said after a minute. I opened the door and noticed a girl, briefly, before I pushed our doorstop into place to keep the door opened. “Hello, what can I do for you?” I asked. I walked back to my spot to continue cleaning my bike.
She started walking to this chair in our room that Cameron brought back with him from winter break and said, “Bike trouble?” I didn’t answer, just kept cleaning. I heard her sit down and sigh. “Which one of you is Cameron?” she asked.
When Cameron didn’t respond, I pointed and said, “That’s him.”
“I’m your math student,” she said. “Amanda Abrahms. Doctor Macke said you could help anybody get an ‘A’ in his class. I’ll take a ‘B’ so you won’t have to work as hard, though.” I continued cleaning, wiping away dirt from the crankcase, and I heard her laugh out loud. “We’re going to have a problem if you don’t start talking.”
Cameron’s response was, “Fantastic shirt.” I looked over at him as he dropped his magazine. The two of them bent down to pick it up and bumped heads, giggling like children. I glanced over at Cameron’s desk where, out of view from either of them, a picture of his girlfriend smiled at me.

As you can see, the story comes out much differently through Banning's eyes, and we have some immediate sources of conflict not prevelant in the first excerpt, though these later come out in the continuation of Cameron's story.

Hopefully, somebody out there stumbled upon this who was stuck with writer's block and this helped. Most likely, though, Jerry, Colleen, Kathy, Mo, Kevin, Alan, Mom, Bridget, Mark, and various other hangers-on (fellow Targeteers, any of you in my creative writing class who know how to find the blog, anyone from Art Conspiracy who may have somehow managed to find my ancient profile and gallery in the sea of new postings there, old friends clicking on AIM profile links, and anybody else that stumbled blindly here--welcome, by the way--plus anyone I forgot about) will read it and say, "Good Lord, the boy does ramble. Let's see what our dumb president is up to."

Use this advice and this exercise wisely. In the wrong hands, it could wreak a havoc so dangerous, so destructive, so powerfully dangerous, that children everywhere will, um, eventually peter out and mumble incoherently when they can't think of a good way to finish what they started to say...

Music to Blog By: Blood, Sweat and Tears - Forty Thousand Head Men
(I like me some B,S,&T, so S,B,&L*)

*Shut it, Bite it, and Leave

Discussed in this post:

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Back Again, Back Again, Jiggety Jig

I got my computer back, and I could not get it online. For some reason, it would connect to the wireless network, but I couldn't go anywhere. Aha! When Best Buy had my computer, they manually configured my IP address to connect it to their wireless network, no doubt to download copious amounts of porn. Anyway, they did not reset it, and that was the problem. Well, problem solved.

My last "short" story for class ended up being 21 pages long.


Saturday, April 01, 2006


As if leaching off the parents (and random neighbors who leave their wireless networks un-secured and on all night) wasn't already an impediment to my internet usage, now I have the extra roadblock of no longer having my laptop. My left speaker has been out for a few months and on Tuesday, the right speaker went kaputski as well. So, as it is still under its three year service plan, I took it up to Best Buy, to the Geek Squad, and they took it from me for at the very least three weeks. That's three weeks no wireless theft, three weeks without some of my most recent mp3 acquisitions, and, most importantly, three weeks of writing using Kathy's desktop computer. Do you know how long it's been since I wrote using a desktop? I mean, really actually wrote? The last piece of any relevance that I wrote using a desktop computer was my three day novel, and if you haven't read that consider yourself lucky because it's crap, and I think that's got something to do with the computer being a desktop.

Boo hiss.

New story first draft due on Tuesday, possibly an excerpt up here for discussion.

Music to Blog By: Pink Floyd - Hey You
(I watched The Squid and the Whale last night. Not sure about it yet, give me a couple days to let it sink in.)

Discussed in this post:

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I'm supposed to want to eat lunch with my characters, which is fine, because for most of them this is true. But...
I wouldn't want to live with Banning. He's worse than my best friend Zach when it comes to anti-social bicycle maintenance.
I wouldn't want to date Brooke. She steals t-shirts.
I wouldn't trust Cameron with my sister or a close female friend, because he's so into cheating, he cheats on girls he's cheating on other girls with. If that makes sense.
Hanging out with William would ultimately depress me.
I wouldn't want to go anywhere with Amanda driving, because she seems like the type to apply make-up while on the interstate.
I would hope Stefanie would never have a crush on me; she has horrible timing when it comes to letting her true feelings out.
Les DePaul deserved to get fired, no matter how cool his name is.
James is underdeveloped, so I think even lunch with him would be boring for the time being.

Okay, so, I've figured out what I'm doing with this blog (for those of you who haven't figured it out yourselves). This is more than just a place to rant and rave for me; it's about working through writer's block, talking about stuff nobody else really cares about so that I can put it down and get some use out of my thoughts. It's about Karlston, MO, the inhabitants, that lovable bunch of high school students I created in 1999, and the lives they are touching now that they're away, at school, elsewhere, wherever, it doesn't matter. Okay, so they've lived some soap opera moments, and suffered a bit of soap opera time frame (they were all my age in 1999, but they're a good deal younger now, say, only nineteen or twenty in 2005), but I'm used to most of them and the new ones (Banning, Stefanie, Grogan, Amanda, Cameron) are fitting in nicely. I also like the expanded roles of James and Brooke I've inserted, including a history of Brooke (she just showed up one day in Minnesota without a history and now she dated Cameron in high school), and I feel like it's really coming together now. Plus, the blog is being helpful. In my newest story (tentatively titled Interim), Cameron's blog shows up, as does IM conversations and some of Brooke's blog, too, because they can't see each other. It happens after Look at how Goddamn Ugly the Stars Are, but actually starts the week before that story ends. It's told from Cameron's side, living with a roommate he can't stand, tutoring a very intriguing girl, and falling apart at the seams over his devotion to Brooke and her insistence on placing a wedge in their relationship, which will ultimately lead to...well, you'll just have to read the story and stop reading my blog.

Music To Blog By: Mest - Kiss Me, Kill Me
(I know I know, it was on Channel Red, but only for a month and I liked the video)

Discussed in this post:

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Karlston, MO

I created a fictional town. I had to draw a map for class, and give the town a name, a history, and indicate landmarks as they pertain to fictional stories I may or may not write (or have written). I'm not going to show you the map, partly because it's embarassing that I can't even draw a two-dimensional map without it looking like my 3 year old neice drew it, but mostly because I don't have a scanner. For those of you who have read my fiction, screenplay, one-act (or if you saw my one-act/acted in it my senior year of high school), you probably know a lot about my John Hughes-esque (I like to think of it as Faulkner-esque but perhaps I should wait to get published before I start inflating my ego beyond its natural bounds) style. You've got Colin and William and James, Zach, Zack, Xavier, Tom (there are two of them, one from fictional St. Louis suburb and another from Minnesota), Kristen, Peter, Kelly, et al, plus Brooke, Amy, Mike Rose, Banning, Cameron, Matt Grogan, Stefanie, Les DePaul, anyway, you get the picture...I like my people. Anyway, I finally gave those from the fictional St. Louis suburb (sort of a hybrid Webster Groves, Kirkwood/Glendale and Shrewsbury) a home. And since nothing is given away in the description (and yes, you do need the map to get the real good visual, but too bad), here is the description I handed in with my map.

Karlston, MO is your standard suburb of St. Louis. It’s named after one of the former mayors, Karl Odell, who was mayor for eleven years, elected in 1958 and planning his 1970 run when he died of a heart attack. The high school, built in 1965 (built using tax money he campaigned against initiating) is seemingly named after JFK, which is what the stonework over the front door proclaims, but around the area it’s known as Karlson High. Across Vernon Street from the high school is a large park named after Karl Odell’s father, Vernon Odell. Karl’s son’s namesake belongs to the middle school on Elm.
Long before the town was renamed, it was known as Evans, MO, named for the pioneer who first planted the magnolias that grow in Vernon Park, lining the creek and turning the ground pink, yellow and white in late spring. The Evans family still lives in Karlston, but has long been politically dormant. The only remaining trace of the lineage comes in the small elementary school on Greenwood Avenue and the restaurant next to Fairmount Books.
Appropriately enough, at the intersection of Greenwood and Church Road, there is one church on each corner. There is a Baptist church on the northeast corner, a Unitarian chapel on the northwest, a Lutheran church on the southeast corner and a Catholic church, elementary school and junior high on the southwest corner. On Greenwood, there’s a Straubs Marker, an Ace Hardware and an empty storefront that used to be a Starbucks, but couldn’t compete with Segue Coffee, which is on the next block across Elm. Segue Coffee is owned by the Evans family, who are close friends of the Fairmount family. The Fairmount family has lived in Karlston longer than the Odells, but have assigned themselves as the booksellers of town since the late 1970’s. Their bookstore, known simply as Fairmount Books, is adjoined to Segue Coffee. The Evans Steakhouse is on the other side of Fairmount Books, but is not connected in the same way Segue and Fairmount are. Evans Steakhouse is actually owned by the Applebees Corporation, which has decided to keep the name and menu but the restaurant now benefits from the buying power of the larger corporation.
Across the street from Segue, Fairmount and Evans Steakhouse is the Karlston Library and City Hall.
Consult the map for further references:
1. William Loudermilk lived here, before moving to California for school. He and his friends James Evans, Colin Fairmount, Tom Eagleston and Xavier Houston once had a band that practiced here. William attempted to write his college application essays here but James brought his girlfriend troubles over, which erupted in a fist-fight between James and his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, Peter Lawrence, great-grandson of Karl Odell.
2. The Evans family lives here. Segue Coffee has been open since the early 1980’s, and though Starbucks moved into the new shopping center across the street in 1998. The Starbucks only remained for three years before admitting defeat. The people of Karlston, and especially the high school students, appreciated Segue for the atmosphere, the familiarity of the photos and decorations, and the fact that it was connected via a set of glass doors to a bookstore. James worked at the coffee shop starting at age twelve. At the age of 18, James became a very enthusiastic bicycle racer, and it’s here at the house that he started a bicycle team run out of a shed in his backyard that he and his father converted into a clubhouse, complete with air-conditioning, heating, a couple of beds, refrigerator, computer, and enough bike tools for everybody on the team. The team included James, William, Colin, Xavier, Zachary Houston (Xavier’s twin brother) and Zack Cohen. Together, James and Colin found jobs at Big Shark Bicycles in University City, Missouri after starting the team, and they continued to work there summers in between school years. James went to college at the University of Minnesota (along with Colin and, for one year, William) and, after managing a bike shop in St. Paul for three years, moved back to Karlston and leased the former Starbucks, where he opened his own bike shop, Blue Peach Cyclery.
3. The Fairmount family lives here, and owns a good six acres of land to the north and east of their house. They’ve got the land registered with the Missouri Conservation Department as a wildlife preserve. The Fairmount family fronted most of the money for James’ bike team, including sponsoring a race in town, which started at their bookstore, going west, turning north on Elm, running through the parking lot of Vernon Park, east on Varsity Road past the high school, south on Avery Boulevard and back to Greenwood, heading west. The Odell family, led by the current mayor Kurt Odell, opposed the race and nearly succeeded in getting it cancelled before the Fairmount family stepped in to pay for the race. Colin became the second-best rider on the team, only behind James.
4. Xavier and Zach live here with their grandmother. Their mother died shortly after they were born, and their father quickly remarried and left them in the care of their maternal grandmother. Xavier, in an attempt to confuse his friends, opted to go by the name Xak (pronounced Zach). Their grandmother was often away, and Zach and Xak became the party organizers for their friends. They would call their older brother Matt, who lived in the city, and he would bring them alcohol and marijuana and keep them supplied, until Xak woke one morning on the trampoline with a girl he didn’t know, pictures of him on his digital camera, drinking bong water, and put a stop to the parties.
5. The Odell Mansion, though not it’s official title. It is the Mayor’s home, but as the entire Odell family has lived there since it was built in 1967, everybody knows it by this misnomer. The Lawrence family, though technically part of the Odell family, does not live here.
6. Kristen Avery lives here. She is James’ ex-girlfriend, a year younger than James and not overly ambitious. Her goal is to go to business school and become an executive at Target in Kirkwood, MO, where she’s worked as a cashier since she was sixteen.
7. The Lawrence family lives here. Two years older than Kristen, during his second senior year at Karlston High, Peter Lawrence asked her to go swimming at the Odell mansion with him. She was dating James at the time, but Peter mixed her a drink which caused her to lose her balance and inhibitions, and so too her virginity. Shortly after Peter’s fist-fight with James, he broke up with her and set his sights on a freshman named Kelly. A long string of girls can tell the same kind of story about Peter Lawrence, but because he’s an Odell, hardly anybody believes them.
8. It was here, in the middle of the night in August under the Magnolias one summer, William began his habit of drinking alone.
9. Peter was tackled here his freshman year, playing football, and received a concussion which nearly killed him.
10. Kristen crashed her car here on a rainy night. She crashed into a retaining wall going forty miles an hour after Peter fucked her on St. Therese’s playground and broke up with her as she got into her car. She drove off without him and was on her way to James’ house to apologize. James passed by on his way home from the coffee shop, and waited with her for the ambulance. Aside from an airbag bruise and a sprained right ankle, she was okay.
11. As young kids, James and Colin threw rocks through the windows of this house, causing the owner, an elderly widower, to have a heart-attack. It was days before anybody discovered his body.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Like all kids, I grew up wanting to be a fireman or doctor or veterinarian (specializing in cats). Okay, so maybe not all kids wanted all of that. Anyway, that's not the point. In fourth grade, I decided I would become a writer and so, I started writing a book about a group of kids who get kidnapped by aliens because the aliens lived on a planet torn in two over the idea that there may be other life in the universe, and these particular aliens wanted to avoid civil war over the issue. It was some sort of theological thing, and anyway, I never finished it because that ancient DOS computer crashed and we could never recover anything from it.

Starting in sixth grade, I changed gears and wanted to be a music teacher, like my dad. I think the reasoning behind this was that for most of my life, my dad had not been a music teacher but had been a blue-collar grunt who installed fire systems in restaurants and recharged fire extinguishers at churches and schools. When he re-entered the world of music education, he became a different person. He was around more, he smiled more, he laughed more, we took vacations and as a family, we became closer than ever. So, music education seemed like a good gig to me.

In eighth grade, I switched gears yet again, and this time I wanted to be a rock star, with everything that came with it; not just the rock n' roll, but also the sex and the drugs. The drugs were easier to come by than the sex, let me tell you. This phase lasted until my sophomore year of high school, when I opted for rock stardom without the sex or drugs, though if either were available I decided I wouldn't turn up my nose. Still again, the drugs were plentiful, the sex was non-existent. Until my junior year, when my band broke up and I went back to wanting to be a music teacher. This time, it was because my new band director was a great mentor.

Now, junior year, though I had given up on rock n' roll, the drugs still flowed and the sex finally made a debut. Yeah, it was okay, I guess. Anyway, after the sex was no longer happening, I changed my mind again and wanted to be a jazz musician.

This lasted until about halfway through my senior year, when I didn't pass an audition at a school. And so, I turned back to fourth grade, and started writing (not that I had ever stopped, I just focused more on it this time). I decided journalism was nice and practical.

Journalism is not nice and practical. Well, it might be for those who have the patience and stomach for it, which, it turns out, I don't, because whatever I wrote got handed back with too much red on it, with comments like "This wouldn't read well in a newspaper" and "That's just your opinion; you're not telling the news." I guess all of that was true, but that's just not how I write, so I gave up on that.

But I didn't give up on writing. Having left drugs far behind me, pushing rock n' roll a little to the left (but still very much in reach, and I put my arm out and embrace it all of the time), and as far as the sex goes, well, I'm married now so that's none of your business, I am now focusing on writing pretty much exclusively, and with that being said, I am here to swear it to all who read this blog (both of you) that I will be published within a year. So there we go...with that, I will have realized only one of my goals, but goals are great no matter long as you can keep attaining them, you can keep setting more and more and things just get better.

And now, a new feature to my blog, inspired by Turbonium...

Music to Blog By - Bloc Party, Helicopters
and - The Pixies, Where Is My Mind?
and - Sufjan Stevens - Vitto's Ordination Song

Discussed in this post:

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Spring Break

Remember when Spring Break meant something? I can remember when it meant an entire week with no obligations, responsibilities, or normal sleeping hours. I can remember spring breaks spent riding my bike, hanging out with friends, staying up late watching movies...

I can remember spring breaks where I spent days without coming home, over at various peoples' houses, playing music, video games, whatever we wanted.

Then, I remember working through spring break. Now, it's a relief because it's a week without one set of obligations or responsibilities. Still, normal sleeping hours (which I never keep anyway) and plenty of obligations and responsibilities.

Basically, I remember when Spring Break was a week off and not a week with fewer things to do but still about fifty million.

Growing up sure has it's price.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Screw You, Jerks! We won the gawdang POWERBALL!

That's right, not once but twice! We used the funds from our Wednesday win to buy one for the Saturday drawing and won again!

Oh, wait...we only won three dollars on Wednesday...and seven on Saturday...looks like I should go to work tomorrow, after all...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

That's right, Billy...

I made an instructional video on how to write flash fiction. It's supertastic!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

As A Writer...

One of the problems I've encountered as a writer is people.

People whom I have relationships with, or have had relationships with, and I'm not just talking the touchy-feely-kissy-nudge-nudge-wink-wink relationships, I am talking the awkward-making-out-at-a-party relationships, the I'm-on-the-rebound relationships, and the friendships, the working partnerships, the professional detachments between myself and other writers I may have come to dislike for whatever reason or who have certain let's call them foibles that bug me...anyway, you get the picture. People I know or used to know are a problem because aspects of them keep cropping up in my writing and sometimes, they then crop up in my life. Where this really falls down is when aspects of them crop up in my writing and they notice it and are angry, furious, or otherwise unflattered about the whole situation.

Well, look, you write what you know, and you write what you experience and observe and imagine, and so what you do is you take what you've experienced from observations of people and imagine how they'd react in situations you've observed or experienced and...yeah. Every character I create is just as much me as it is somebody else. Anyway, the problem is that sometimes, I can't detach myself enough and so, for years, for example, every story I wrote about a girl who broke up with a guy was strictly about a girl I dated in 1999. Now, when I write stories about guys and girls dating, or breaking up, or whatever, it is not about her at all. She's dead. Well, no, but there's no character left to get out of her because I wrote her to death.

No, where it all comes from now is those that I have dated since her. So, that means aspects of girls I psuedo-dated, and other girls I just had crushes on but never really got together with and, of course, the last two I dated before meeting Kathy...but mostly the one right before Kathy because when a story is written, a source of conflict is needed and it's very easy to think of conflict when thinking about her. So, in my most recent story, titled "Look At How Damn Ugly The Stars Are" (which is a reference to an Alkaline Trio song, which is an aspect of the other of these two girls, so, you see, it's not all the one girl...), it is very easy to see that Brooke (who I used in a screenplay) is based heavily on this particular ex, moreso than Brooke in the screenplay because I needed certain aspects of her life, and our relationship, and, well, anyway, the parts that are true and those that aren't will not be clear to everybody. I know. If she crops up and reads it, she will know what is truth and what is fiction.

The point I am trying to make is, as a writer, or as any artist, the subject is so delicate if you're worried about hurting peoples' feelings, so I am no longer going to worry about it anymore.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Lincoln, NE

So, how is this for bizzarre: I am staying in Lincoln, NE tonight (with Steve and Carissa, otherwise known as one pair of the plethora of in-laws I married into) but tomorrow night my cousin Ryan is going to be in Lincoln, NE with his band The Vultures, on a tour of the midwest. How random is that?

So, the new car did well, and so far no mishaps on this road trip. We'll see how long that lasts. Let's see...what has happened on road trips thus far...

On the way to Dave and Jessica's wedding in Davenport, my car died at a gas station in Iowa. I got it started forty-five minutes later, then ended up at the Holiday Inn in Davenport when I was supposed to be at the one in Bettendorf. On the way back down to St. Louis my car died at a rest stop in another part of Iowa and couldn't get it restarted until an hour later.

While I was visiting Kathy in the Twin Cities, I got a parking ticket on the U of M Campus because of the stupid plow schedule.

When Kathy was coming to visit for spring break, she went to the left off the road and into the ditch, putting a large hole in her gas tank. This happened about eight miles north of Bowling Green, Missouri. It took about four days to fix it, then we had to drive up Bowling Green to get it back.

I got another parking ticket when I drove up to Minnesota to move Kathy down to St. Louis. This time, it was the street-cleaning schedule.

Kathy and I drove up to Minneapolis for her job interview with IBS and, on the way, we spilled a soda on the floormat of her car. Then, stopping on the East Bank of the UM campus for dinner, our parking meter expired and we got a parking ticket. When we woke up the next morning, we found somebody had shot out four of our car windows with a beebee gun. So, while we waited for the insurance company to figure out how they were going to screw us (only, they didn't because we're too smart for them), we got word that a snowstorm was brewing. The next day, there was about six inches on the ground and the snow was still falling. On the way back down to St. Louis, I got a speeding ticket in Moscow Mills, MO, about 45 miles from home.

On our last road trip, my car overheated in Ainsworth, Iowa. It turns out, the water pump failed and the timing belt melted.

So far, so good on this road trip.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Why Can't I Be Myself?


Jerry thinks I look like Jonathan Togo who plays Ryan Wolfe on CSI:Miami. But, according to Jerry I used to look like Eddie Cahill who played Jimmy Craig in Miracle. Strangely enough, Eddie Cahill played Det. Don Flack on CSI:NY. But, before I looked like Eddie Cahill, I used to look like Colin from Mustard Plug.

Why, Jerry, why can't I just be me?

Also, my sister Maureen and her husband Kevin have a blog, as does my one year old cousin Mia, though her parents really are the ones running that site.

My wife's entire family has a website that we use to keep in touch with each other, which is kind of nice. And there you have it, a useless post that I did just to show you how I can make links easy and fun.

Discussed in this post:

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Flash Fiction

Flash fiction is not fiction in which all of the characters take off their tops, unfortunately. According to the assignment guidelines, it's under 500 words. Conflict, crisis, resolution, 500 words or less. I'm scared.

This looks like fun. Bet you didn't know I knew basic html, did you?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Edmonton Just Scored...

...and I'm sitting in my parents' living room. This is where I am right now, looking to see where I can submit some of my writing. Oh, wait, I am not a writer.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Poetry Award II

Originally posted Superbowl Sunday, but something happened to my blog...

So, Poetry Award girl dropped out of my Fiction class. That's too bad, but I guess winning a poetry award at age eleven doesn't prepare you for the rigors of a community college fiction writing class...ridiculousness.

Also, I have a gripe about one person who visits my blog occasionally. Hey, Turbochubs, why don't you ever update your blog? Jerk.

So, I've been watching the superbowl since it started at 4:30. I think I've actually seen about five or six minutes of actual football. More ridiculousness.

I am not going to Disney World.


Boy, what happened to my blog? It went all cock-eyed coo-coo crazy. Not cool.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Drunk Drunk Drunk Drunk Drunk

Thanks a lot, President Bush. Now I'm smashed, and so is my mother.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Spiderman, Spiderman

Last night, my wife and I watched Spiderman, which is strange when you consider that Kathy is terrified of spiders in general. If you were to ask Kathy what her biggest fear is, she would probably say that it's walking through a cave full of spider webs and having somebody behind her push her through the webs, and her getting all bitten and not being able to scream for fear of swallowing spiders. Yet, she's the one who suggested we buy the movie. Now, the reasoning for this was because, it is a good movie. And, she wanted to see Spiderman 2 when it came out. And, it just so happened, that before Spiderman 2 came out, a special deluxe edition was released that came with one free ticket to see the new movie. So, we bought it. Widescreen, of course, which is what I wanted to talk about, but Spiderman was a nice segue.

So, widescreen is the better format. People who routinely buy the full screen edition of movies are really missing out on (depending on the aspect ratio) fifty percent of the film. This means nothing more than to point out that people are idiots. Where this all falls down, though, is that most people hate the black bars at the top and bottom of their screens, because they think it means they're missing out on part of the movie.

I tell people at work (I make my living peddling movies and other entertaining media) who are unsure about what to buy to look at the screen next time they go to the movies, keeping in mind how wide it is compared to how tall it is, and then to compare that to their televisions when they get home. Some can actually picture it. Others just scoff at me and buy the full screen editions. The problem about this is that after a movie has been a new release for a while, the store I work for (Target, Target, the store is Target and I hope that's the last time I mention it in my blog but probably won't be) will often discontinue carrying one version, and due to sales of full screen often outperforming the widescreen, it's the widescreen we discontinue.

It's nice when the studio puts both versions in the same packaging, such as Finding Nemo, where when you buy it you get the widescreen movie and some special features on disc one, and the full screen movie and the rest of the special features on disc two. What's better, though, is more like March of the Penguins, where all they released was the Widescreen version. Movies that are released in both theatrical and unrated directors cuts are nice, because they know the unrated will sell better. The directors get ahold of that information and, more recently, only release the unrated edition in widescreen. Directors prefer whatever it was shot in, which is, most often, widescreen, and so the director's cut makes more sense in Widescreen.

Watch in widescreen. In a few years, when you have to buy an HDTV, buy one in widescreen, then the black bars will at least get smaller on some movies (ones with wider aspect ratios like Lord of the Rings) and completely disappear on others (more traditional aspect ratios of 16X9, like most TV shows broadcast in widescreen such as Arrested Development, which is by the way the best show on television but I think it got cancelled for real this time...but that's the subject of another blog...). Anyway, so, yes.

Buy your DVDs in Widescreen.

Oh, older movies, like those made prior to the proliferation of television in the 1950's and some of those made shortly thereafter, and also some arthouse pictures, were shot in a standard television-proportioned aspect ratio, so don't cry if you can't find The Maltese Falcon in widescreen because it doesn't exist.

Discussed in this post:
March of the Penguins (Widescreen Edition)

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Yesterday, I went to the DMV to update my license. When we moved into the house, I never went and got my address changed so that my license still says I live in the apartment. Or, rather, it did say that, though I haven't gotten that far in the story yet. I am just arriving at the DMV yesterday.

Yesterday, I went to the DMV to update my license, because it still said I lived in my apartment. So, I went, and was delighted to read that the buzz had been correct; they now accept Debit cards there. Oh, and credit cards, too, but only Discover cards, which is useless because who in their right mind uses Discover. I'm sorry if I offended any hard-core Discover card users, They're useless cards. Visa and Mastercard are much more useful.

Anyway, so I went to the...wait. Okay, I said that, twice now. I waited for forty-five minutes, watching the clock because I had to run back home before going to work because, silly me, I had forgotten my dinner. I got up to the counter, gave the lady my new address, everything else, answered her questions, so on and so forth, and she tells me it's going to be twelve fifty, so I hand her my debit card.

"Oh, we don't accept those," she told me. I pointed to signs that proclaimed the contrary. "Oh. Yes, that's right, we do, but our system is down and we can't accept them today." No ATM. Nothing nearby, either. They put this thing in an abandoned shopping center. "We have a guy who should be here between now and 4:30 this afternoon if you'd like to wait." I had to get to work, didn't she understand? I guess I hadn't told her. I left, and resolved to come back today.

Today, I went to the DMV. Now, they finally have a sign up that says "CREDIT/DEBIT SYSTEM DOWN CASH OR CHECK ONLY" but, in the corner, they have installed a brand new ATM. This was a moot point, really, because I figured something like that might happen, minus the ATM, so I brought cash with me.

Sorry, that story kind of ends on a weak note.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hey, is that guy blindfolded?

My head hurts, and my stomach aches, and I feel awful. I'm back in St. Louis, but my car is in Davenport. This is nasty bad. I'm thinking of not going to work tomorrow just so that I can have a day to recoup. I might have gotten sick from food, or from Cakelyn, or I don't know what. But I feel like crap.

So, because my head hurt, on the way back down (in my dad's car, he came and met us in Mount Pleasant) I wrapped my scarf around my eyes. My wife told me that I looked like I was kidnapped, and said that the people in another car were staring. That's about the time I fell asleep.

I am sitting in front of the fire at my parents' house and waiting for life to improve.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Stranded In Davenport

The following is taken directly from a notebook I wrote in last night:

So this is hilarius, in one of those "please-somebody-hit-me-over-the-head-with-a-blunt-object" sort of way. I'm writing this longhand to conserve battery power in case I need my computer. Now, why dire need would arise escapes me, not to mention the almost certain lack of technology out here, barring me from connecting to civilization. Although, as I haven't checked, I could be missing out on the fastest wireless internet connection southeastern Iowa has to offer.

It stopped snowing, at least.

My car. My poor car. Ever notice how the day you decide not to sell your car, that it is after all very reliable and after all, what is a car if not transportation, and also you plan to drive it till it decides to quit.

In a snowstorm.

In Iowa.

And you live in Missouri.

It could be "In a hurricane. In Florida. And you live in Georgia." Anyway, you get the formula.

In a [Bad type of weather]

In [State/Region where aforementioned weather is likely]

And you live in [State/Region that is not too far from aforementioned state/region but, in the aforementioned weather, might as well be on Jupiter]

At least, here on Jupiter (or, Iowa) there's a clean, big truckstop at the Ainsworth Four Corners Amoco/BP.

That is the moment our food arrived and all else was driven from our minds. Well, not entirely.

Thankfully, Kathy's brother Dave lives in Davenport, which is about seventy miles from where my car died but still a lot closer than anybody else we knew. And the food was edible at the truckstop. And my car is going to cost four hundred freaking dollars to repair. I think that's all my car is worth at this point.

Needless to say, we did not make it to Nebraska, which is where we were heading. We are in Davenport, staying with my brother-in-law and his family. There is such a long list of people to thank for making this as painless as possible.

Thank you Officer [Can't-Remember-Your-Name]. Thank you Dennis from the tow-truck place. Thank you Emily at the truck stop restaurant. Thank you Dave for coming to get us. Thank you Dave, Jessica, Katelyn (or Cakelyn as I like to call her) for letting us stay here. Sorry, Bella, I don't like you, you slobber too much.

Bella is a dog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Poetry Award

There is a girl in my fiction writing class. She won her first poetry award at the age of eleven. She's published two books of poetry and is working on a third. She is also writing three collections of prose; loosely connected short stories that, when combined into their three volumes and sold in a box set constitute some pretentious "trilogy" (I say pretentious because she used words like "epic" and "grandeur") but, though she is done with the first one and almost done with the second, she is "going to wait until their all done and publish them all at the same time" in her own words. She is rude, obnoxious, pretentious (did I already say that? maybe I should underline it) and above all, if she is so prolific and talented, then--and this is the big question I have--why in the hemorrhaging f*ck is she going to a freaking community college?

If there's only one person I outshine in this semester's class, I hope it's her.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


My grandmother is lamenting her generation. In the last four months, she has lost two of her best friends. She seems to be preoccupied with death at the moment, but it's more of a casual preoccupation than a morbid one. She's at that age when death is just a part of life, I suppose. Her husband has been deceased for twenty-six years (I never met him but supposedly I look just like him) and she's had six or seven hundred knee replacement surgeries (I am of course exaggerating). Anyway, it's somewhat of a bummer for my wife, who's father is going in for surgery this week to correct two pinched nerves, one at the base of his spine and the other near the top.

For the past several years, my father-in-law has been battling Parkinsons-like symptoms. These symptoms have worsened in the past two years, to the point where standing has become a pain and walking has become an ordeal. He's in his early sixties, and a school teacher for the past forty years. He teaches on the third floor of an old building, no elevators and the trudge up the stairs has been taking a toll. To top it off, the entire family is chemically sensitive. The pesticides used in the school do a number on the girls in my wife's family, and it's been proven that pesticides can irritate and sometimes bring on Parkinsons. The medication, exercise programs and other such things have not been working to correct his symptoms, so this fall he went to a neurologist for a sleep apnea test because things were getting so bad.

"It could be a pinched nerve, but there's no evidence of Parkinsons," this person said. Two and a half years of crying, praying, and dilly-dallying with the idea of legal action against the school for using harmful pesticides, and in one night, it is given to my wife's family that they may regain their father. And so, it has been concluded, he does have two pinched nerves. But he is far from out of the woods now. The particular nerves that are pinched are dangerous; if he takes a tumble, he could do irreparable damage to himself. It could be fatal. So eggshells have been walked upon these last few weeks, and this week he goes in for surgery. Then, two weeks of recovery. We're all hoping. For once, I am actually praying for somebody. This is somebody I didn't even know three and a half years ago, had no idea he even existed. Now, because I love his daughter and love his family, and because I love him, I am praying.

Anyway, my wife is reading Tuesdays With Morrie on the couch, because she doesn't want to listen to my grandma talk about death. I wish I could whisk her to Nebraska to say "I Love You" to her father's face.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006


That's right, I am watching one of the greatest sports movies of all time. Now, I'm not the biggest hockey fan (in fact, not a hockey fan at all) but being a big movie fan, I absolutely love this movie.

I have to work overnight tonight. I can't wait until I am done with school and out of my retail job. Some of you may know what I'm talking about. Of course, that's assuming that there are some of you out there. Anyway, the point is...I forgot. I'm only taking one class this semester. That's the last time I'll do that. From now on, I will be in school. IN SCHOOL. Well, okay, not from now on. From next fall until I'm done with my undergrad. That means not working full time anymore. That means taking a pay cut, I guess, but hopefully, with scholarships and grants, I won't have school to pay for and I might get a little extra bonus money. Hang on, face off.

Shot saved by Jimmy Craig. That's me, by the way, I am Jimmy Craig. Or, at least, my friend Jerry thinks I look like him with my long hair. I think my dad just came home.

I'm over at my parents' house using their wireless internet because I still don't have internet at my house. Oh well.

So, yeah, random thoughts, so sorry. I will go now.

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Friday, January 06, 2006


I am currently enduring day six of a twenty day beard-off with my brother-in-law, Paul. Now, Paul started his beard-off earlier, and actually ended his on day three of mine. But, you know, pictures at five day intervals track the progress and thus far, I think I'll win. I'm watching When Harry Met Sally... with my parents and my wife. Good lord I miss the internet...why can't I get DSL at home? I don't know, ask SBC. Bastards.

So, here I am with a blog finally. I feel don't know. Whatever.

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