Monday, October 29, 2007


So, nobody seems to have noticed/cared that I didn't blog on Friday? Even though I said I was going to?

Well, we went out of town this weekend, so we were busy shopping (unsuccessfully) for Halloween costumes and then packing/cleaning up a bit, so it slipped my mind. Sorry. Bad blogger.

I'm going to ask you all a question, and I hope I get some responses here. I wrote a short play that is very dark, disturbing, and horrific. I am debating whether or not I should post it as my excerpt tomorrow. I mean, it's Halloween time, it makes sense...but on the other hand, it may shock and disturb some of you. Well...I think I'll do it, unless I get a lot of "Don't post a horror play! No! Ah! I'll hate you forever!" answers. So, if you do or do not want to see it, let me know.

As I was driving home from Chicago Sunday, my passenger side blinker decided to go all crazy. Instead of the steady "click, clack, click, clack..." it's now become a hyperactive five year old "clickclackclickclackclickclack!!!!" Hmm. Any ideas there?

Still waiting for more answers to my question about novels. Go figure. I think I'm going to take the answers I get and if I haven't read them, put them on my "To Read" list (under the pile of plays and books for class).

So, as I mentioned earlier, we went to Chicago this weekend, had a grand time. Played some cards, finally played some Wii (I'm so-so with the bowling and terrible at golf), and sacrificed my health in the hopes of winning the McDonalds Monopoly game. I didn't. All we won is more food, which I don't want to eat any more of. Ever. Period. Again. EVER! Just to drive home the point, since I am feeling so blah about fast food right now, I should read Fast Food Nation again and then swear off fast food for life. Sounds like a good plan.'s Halloween week. What are you going to be dressed up as? I gather lots of people went to parties this past weekend...that's what I was doing in Chicago..but what's the 2007 costume? I went as The Yellow Jersey, complete with leg warmers, cycling socks, helmet, sunglasses, (no spandex shorts, those get way too uncomfortable to wear at a party, trust me), gloves, stuffed Lion (some of you know what I'm talking about there)...and some syringes. Just call me Bjarne Riis (ooh dang!). Kathy went as a 50's housewife, complete with hairnet, apron, and wooden spoon. It was all good.

I'm at work...and the work computer says it's 12:25 when it is clearly not. I hope that whoever gets elected as president in 2008 repeals the stupid Bush Daylight Savings reform. Worthless, really. It should just go away.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


In the hub-bub of posting my excerpt and asking your favorite novels, I forgot to ask for Free Write Friday suggestions! Ah! Quick, get those in! And keep answering my "What's your favorite novel?" question. And I find it hilarious that Molly loved the book Trout Fishing in America when I can guarantee you that of all the people I know, Molly is one of the least likely to actually go trout fishing anywhere.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday Excerpts

...and the verdict? You get something else, and not my play. Because we didn't get around to reading mine today.

Today's excerpt is an entire piece for playwriting this semester. It's just a monologue, so enjoy!


August 2007

Scene is the bench at a softball field. It is Sunday night, and Andy, a tall 34 year old man, is watching his team play while he takes his turn at the bench. He has a Bud Select in hand.
(yelling throughout)
Let’s go, Know Skills, let’s go! One-two-three, come on, just like they got us last inning, we can do it!
Back, Mary, Kathy, Steve, Paul! Back up, this guy’s got power. Steve, watch that line! Watch the line!
Good pitch there, Mark, little higher, little higher, looked good from here.
(pause, the crack of a bat)
Go! Steve, run! STEVE! STEVE!
(pause, his face gets intense)
(under his breath)
(yelling again)
That’s okay, way to hold him at three, way to hold him. Elliot, play’s coming to you. Mark, Joe, Marybeth, check the runner at third, get the girl at first. Outfield! Move in! In! IN, STEVE, IN! PAUL, IN!
(to himself, but with a big smile)
Christ, bunch of five year olds.
(weak crack of the bat, yelling again)
Check him, Mark, check him. GET IT ELLIOT!
Good throw, good throw, good play to first, Mark.
(to his left)
They got one, Mom. Mom, they got one. Mom, are you still keeping score? Okay, Dad, they got one.
(back to the game, top of his lungs)
(crack of bat, under his breath)
Fucking left field!
(pause, to his left)
One more, Dad.
(back to the game)
Alright, Know Skills, one down, come on, easy out easy out! Move in outfield, move in, Elliot, play’s coming to you at first.
(crack of the bat)
Way to hold her, Know Skills, shake it off.
(looks at batter approaching)
Move back, outfield! Way back. Steve, watch that line! Back! Keep going. Let’s go, Mark, make him want it!
(crack of the bat)
Mark! That’s you! Catch it!
(pause, Andy gets wild)
(claps wildly)
Alright team, alright. Mark, you’re up, then Kathy, then Elliot. Let’s go, Know Skills, let’s string some runs together.
(pointing as he says names)
Mark, Colleen, good play out there. Elliot, Steve, Marybeth, Kathy. Lookin’ good. Let’s have some fun.
Well, okay, let’s win and have some fun, guys. Let’s go team! Who wants a beer?


You guessed it...softball! Yay! And now I have a question for all of my readers: What's your favorite novel? I will answer that same question for you all on Friday. Until then!

Pen names are masks that allow us to unmask ourselves. -C. Astrid Weber

Monday, October 22, 2007


Like most people, I am surrounded by media on a daily basis. What do I mean, daily...I should say on a secondly basis. I mean, even my blog is media. I get specific, tailor-made advertisements inserted by Google into every e-mail and search I do. I drive down the highway and get bombarded by billboards. Even Bi-State buses have ads for "Scrubs" on channel 46 (which I don't even get, for some reason, even with our new gigantic television, which is another source of media). A lot of people complain about this, which I think is hilarious.

Look, I know you don't always have a choice, but if you don't want to watch "Desperate Housewives" then don't watch it. Billboards and Bus ads are a little different, I don't want anyone driving with their eyes closed, but the fact remains that as a consumer of media you can choose which television stations and/or programs you watch, you choose what to read and what not to read (although it seems a lot of people choose not to read anything these days...thankfully if you're reading this, you're not in that group...see Annie's blog on Illiteracy andAlliteracy ), you choose which websites to visit, which radio stations to listen to, and so forth. So what is the problem? Why do people get so up in arms about something they find offensive in the media? Granted, I don't think that there should be graphic murders, hardcore sex and f-bombs being dropped on NBC, because let's face it, some things appeal to only so many people (although, it should say something that the annual profits for the pornographic film industry often trump those of the family film industry, yet we all hate it and want it to go away...there's a large swath of hypocrisy to make up for in there, or maybe a "Silent Majority" who love porn?), but if a show like "CSI" is too bloody for you, then don't watch it. If a show like "Desperate Housewives" is too racy for you, then don't watch it. If a show like "Arrested Development" is too smart for should still watch it, so those of us that like it can continue to enjoy it.

But I'm done with Arrested Development lamentations. It is gone. I own it on DVD. I can enjoy it whenever I want (provided my sister returns it). You can see the point I'm getting at. There is such a thing in this country as a Free Press, which is a misnomer now; because when this country was founded nobody could foresee radio, television, or the Internet. Clearly. But that's part of what makes the Constitution so awesome; it's completely open-ended and flexible and living. "Freedom of the Press" refers now to all media in general.

The term "press" obviously comes from the printing press, which was used to (just as the name suggests) print things. Newspapers, leaflets,flyers , books, magazines, whatever. Even copies of The Constitution. The word "Press" became synonymous with those who work for news organizations and other print media, so, when a person gave a news conference, it was called a "Press Conference." We still call it that sometimes, because the word "Press" means Journalists in general, be they print, web or broadcast. And “journalist” is a term that has broadened through the ages. Somebody writing a monthly "Do-It-Yourself" garden feature in Martha Stewart's magazine is a journalist now. But it's all freedom of the press.

There isn't anything that sparked this post, just a feeling I've been having lately. And having surrounded myself with media I am comfortable with, I feel enlightened.

For the record, I get my news through several sources. NPR, which I think is the best source for news. NBC Television, which has a liberal slant that I will admit to enjoying, but which I feel emphasizes a lot of bad news, with a token "Feel Good" story to sign off with. Google News, because it actually culls many sources so I can get Fox's conservative slant that I also enjoy just for the sheer hilarity of it sometimes, for all the sports news I could ever find useful, and Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonists index. I know, I know...that is not news. But it's a take on the news, and the cartoonists Cagle has on his website cover the spectrum from left to right, so I can see what kind of opinions are being read in different publications. This has actually been a daily addiction now, and I am going to go ahead and link it up on my Clicks menu. You should check it out. If you have the time, the "Year in Review" section is worth a look, it goes back to 2002, and it's funny to look back on the events and think about them in terms of what's happening today. For example, I found one in 2005 that was a drawing of a building with a bomb falling on it. The building was labeled "Hilary Clinton For President 2008," with a text bubble coming from it that said, "What could possibly stop us?" The bomb was labeled "Barrack O-BOMB-A 2008!" And recently, there was a drawing ofObama standing in the middle of a circus ring with his head inside the mouth of a vicious lion that was, by any measure of lion behavior, about to bite down with undeniable pleasure.Obama was saying, "Nothing's going to stop me!" The lion was, of course, labeled "Hilary '08." Interesting how the times change, huh? There's a lot in the 2006 Year in Review about the Iraq Study Group's report, some portraying it as advocating a policy of cowardly retreat and surrender, and others depicting it as going in one of Bush's big ears and out the other.

But my favorite one that I've found so far was a drawing of Bush sitting in the oval office, reading a newspaper with a headline "False Intelligence Led to Iraq Quagmire" or something like that, and Bush (who is always drawn by his detractors with these humongous ears) is leaning back, his Pinocchio nose having pushed through the newspaper and towards the edge of the frame, and he says, "I hate the way cartoonists keep drawing my ears."

Anyway, that's my rant for the day. Don't like it, don't watch it. I am all for the regulation of certain content, and I believe the rating systems for television and film are adequate responses from the industries to public concerns, but "The Sopranos" being on HBO is not going to make your six year old want to go whack one of his classmates, and "Desperate Housewives" is not going to make your fourteen year old daughter obtain a false sense of morality; not if the parents govern what their children watch.

This almost got me going on the topic of parent/child relationships. That should be saved for another day, I suppose. Sufficed to say, if you have a child and you don't want them to be raised purely by their educators and the media, then take an interest yourself. Because the best educators a child has are his or her parents. If you neglect them, they will neglect whatever you have to say. I see the way my sister and her husband pay attention to their daughter, and I hope they never stop paying that much attention to her. They're beyond decent people, and I'm not just saying that because I'm related to them. If they care for their daughter the next seventeen and a half years with the same amount of devotion and love and caution they've given her the last (almost) six months, they'll have a wonderful daughter who will only be slightly corrupted into liking Star Trek, NPR and bicycling by her slightly off-the-wall uncle Elliot.

Okay...really...I am done. Except to say that today on NPR, on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, she spoke with David Grohl, former Nirvana drummer and current front man and founder of The Foo Fighters. I grew up listening to Nirvana, and when Dave Grohl emerged from Kurt Cobain's suicide with The Foo Fighters, it opened up a whole new world of music for me. I learned how to play guitar by reading the tab from The Foo Fighters' first album. I researched the lives of Foo Fighter band members William Goldsmith and Nate Mendel and through them found their old band Sunny Day Real Estate. I'd say musically, in my life, the most important album I ever bought was probably "The Colour and the Shape" by The Foo Fighters, which (to my shock and surprise) was just reissued for its Tenth (!!) anniversary over the summer.Grohl himself is actually very articulate, intelligent, and speaks of his time with Nirvana in a wistful yet somber tone. It's clear from listening to him that he owes a great deal of The Foo Fighters' initial success to his celebrity as Nirvana's drummer (and also to former Foo Fighters guitarist PatSmear's short tenure as Nirvana's rhythm guitarist on their final tour), but when you listen to their albums (with the possible exception of "There Is Nothing Left To Lose" which is quite possibly the worst Third Album ever made, yielding three good songs, all of which saturated airwaves and infected television shows for years), there is no denying that this quartet has earned their fame. Don't believe me? Listen to "Times Like These" on their fourth album "One By One" and tell me it's not an amazing song. I dare you. And neglect the fact that 'Dubya used it at his 2004 campaign rallies...Grohl was so furious, he began actively campaigning for Kerry.

Anyway, this is why I listen to NPR, because you get the news, and you get interviews with artists, musicians, writers, and pretty much a broad spectrum from all walks of life. Have you heard of "This I Believe?" You should check it out. Normal people like you and I have a chance to let our voices be heard. I have been working on an essay for "This I Believe" for a couple of years...I just want it to be perfect, you know? Actually, I haven't started writing it...just thinking about it. I think that's a good writing project for winter break.

One last thing before I sign off for the day; I have been asked by the Three Day Novel board (via mass e-mail, not anything special) if I will be participating inNaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is a month-long version of the Three Day Novel contest. I will respectfully decline this year, especially due to the fact that November is pretty much the meatiest part of the semester for me, and already jam packed full of birthdays and Thanksgiving, I just can't devote an entire month to writing a novel this year. And next year is my senior year...but 2009, I think I'll give it a try. I mean, if I can do it in three days, I can probably do it in a month, right? Yeah, just so long as I can make that my focus...

Alright, I've gone on long enough. Hope you all had a good Monday, have a great week, and check back tomorrow for a Tuesday Excerpt. I'll give you a little teaser, okay?

The last playwriting class assignment (due tomorrow) was to write a short play titled "The Confessions of _________." I am supposed to fill in the blank, obviously. It's supposed to have a horror theme, and include the line "I am not an animal! I am a human being!" And I am not supposed to write my name on it. We are supposed to guess. If somebody in my class does guess correctly, tomorrow evening you will see the entire play up here. If'll get something else entirely.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Difference

Well, another Fall Break has come and gone, and for those unfortunate enough to have never had a Fall Break, let me tell you that it is not anything like Spring Break. You see, while Spring Break was out getting tattooed, drunk, and losing its virginity to some blond football player named Todd from Alabama in a hotel room in Cancun, Fall Break was at home in it's bedroom reading a book, drinking tea and going out at night with a couple of close friends to a coffee shop for some intensive discussion on world hunger, politics, and global warming. So really, if you're into the traditional Spring Break scene and want a fall counterpart, you're not missing much. Here's a list of the normal things associated with Spring Break, and the closest correlating Fall Break activity:

Spring Break: Picking out a hot new swimsuit for the beach.
Fall Break: Folding up your summer T-shirts and getting out those bulky sweaters your acquaintances all say look "frumpy."

Spring Break: Buying cheap plane tickets to some MTV-infested tropical getaway.
Fall Break: Buying an extra tank of gas while you head north for a day trip to check out the foliage.

Spring Break: Unbelievable parties that last until four in the morning.
Fall Break: A Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or Indiana Jones marathon that lasts until four in the morning.

Spring Break: Hooking up for wild sex with a stranger you just met at the club/beach/pool/party/standing outside your hotel room.
Fall Break: Hooking up your old Nintendo to see if you can break your old time record for Super Mario Brothers

Spring Break: Blink 182 concert (or other such band, whoever you want, it doesn't have to be Blink 182, but I need the name for the set up of the joke).
Fall Break: Blink 182 times because while you were getting the paper, the neighbor's leaf blower blew some dust in your eye.

Spring Break: Two words: Body Shots.
Fall Break: ...Body Shots. You have to have some fun on Fall Break.

Spring Break: Teachers say, "Enjoy your break, I'll see you in a week."
Fall Break: Teachers say, "Read these three chapters, write a rough draft of your next paper, and there might be a quiz on that novel you also need to finish before class on Monday."

Spring Break: Beer Showers and Vodka Baths.
Fall Break: Hot showers and chamomile baths.

Spring Break: Hot babes in swimsuits, hunky guys with their shirts off.
Fall Break: That fat guy who works at the bakery at the grocery store hits on you at the bank...whether you're a guy or a girl.

Spring Break: Number One Summer Jams make their debut.
Fall Break: Number One Summer Jams finally get replaced on the radio by...Christmas shopping ads...

Spring Break: Late night beach bonfires.
Fall Break: After collecting all the fallen branches from the backyard, you pile them into the fire pit on the patio in preparation for a bonfire, only for it to rain all day and soak the sticks through.

Spring Break: Drunk dialing all of your friends who couldn't make it to the wild trip and bragging about how great a time you're having.
Fall Break: Blogging about how Fall Break is exceedingly dull when compared to Spring Break, at least by some standards.

Spring Break: Coming home hungover, jet lagged, and not ready to face the last eight weeks of the semester.
Fall Break: No hangover, no jet lag, but still not ready to face the last eight weeks of the semester. And your homework didn't get done.

And there you have it, folks.

I hope you enjoyed this week's Blogapalooza. From the thousands of comments I Ones? Severals? From the comments I got, I seem to have caught people off guard with my sudden emergence from my blog cave. Well, that should just go to show that you should check my blog more often, so that you can actually see when I update. And as promised, starting tomorrow, there will be every week a Monday, Tuesday and Friday blog (I have class Wednesday and Thursday evenings) plus a monthly "Your Questions..." blog the first Saturday of every month. So keep thinking about Free Write Friday suggestions, I will call for them on Tuesdays from now on, and look for my Tuesday Excerpts, and as clean socks?

Until tomorrow, fair reader(s), and in the immortal words of Edward R. Murrow, Good Night and Good Luck.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Your Questions Answered Volume 4: Blogapalooza Edition

Let it be known that I have broken three drill bits today.

Did I tell everybody that we bought a 50 inch widescreen plasma HDTV?

Who wants to come over tomorrow and watch The Money Pit.

Not the movie.

From the post "YesNoYesNoYes" on Tuesday, September 4th, 2007:

Molly asked:

When do I get to see it?

When it gets published, Mom. Or, I mean, if you want to donate your printer paper and ink to the cause...I really don't want to print out another 101 pages if it can be avoided.

From the post "Wow, Really When It Rains..." on Tuesday, September 12th, 2007:

Molly asked:

Who knew we had those in St. Louis?

Well, considering how many times I have been pulled over for having a headlight out, it seems we have them ALL THE FREAKING TIME!

Becca asked:

Wow, I feel safer now that St. Louis police officers are so concerned with burnt out headlights instead of capturing, oh, i don't know - say, real criminals?

Now how is that a question, Becca? Plus, how does that make you feel safer? You're in New Zealand, it's day there when it's night here.

mGk asked:

Fall off the face of the earth much?

You're one to talk. Yes, I said it.

From "Work work work, work work work work, work work work work work. Oh, and school." on Friday, September 21st, 2007:

mGk asked:

What did You Tube ever do to you?

...I'm not even sure what this question was in reference to. When did I knock You Tube? I mean, it's ridiculous how many people are getting famous from acting stupid in You Tube videos, and it's even more ridiculous that I am not getting famous for this mediocre blog, but no, I have nothing against You Tube. I think you got your comments lines crossed.

Becca asked:

Shouldn't I have a blog too?

Yes. The other nice thing is that every time you send out photo albums, I can't remember my password for whatever site it is you use, so on a blog, you could just post pictures right there. I know that I don't, but what do you want? Pictures of my writing? That would be silly and a waste of time for all of us. But you should have a blog. It would be easier to keep tabs on you.

From "Photographie" on Thursday, October 4th, 2007:

Annie asked:


Ah, yes, this was in relation to me wanting to find somebody that could do a back flip. I subsequently answered this in the comments section, not because I thought I would never do another one of these Q & A sessions, but because it was very important at the time. But what I eventually did was took a couple pictures of Kathy jumping off of a swing instead. Not quite the same, but neat results nonetheless.

mGk asked:

What about someone jumping on a bed...

That would have been cool, except in our bedroom because our ceilings are so low and there's a fan right there, it sounded like a bad idea, and I wouldn't have gone to your house to photograph you doing that, Mo (or Kev as the case may be) because that's a bad influence on my niece...and being a bad influence on my niece is not your job, it's mine, so in order to perseve the natural order of things, I would have to be the one jumping on the bed, and it would have been hard to take the picture then, unless I used the timer, but then it would still need to be fairly I decided against it. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

From "Fall Break = Blogapalooza!" on Monday, October 15th, 2007:

TECHNICALITY NOTE; Becca asked a plethora of questions, but they were all intended to spark a Free Write Friday, so I am leaving them out. Becca, if you really want me to answer those questions, say so, I'll do it for real. But, in addition...

Becca asked:

What is your stance on global warming? What are you personally willing to do to reduce your carbon footprint?

Did you finish the magic 8 ball story?

Do you think money is the root of all evil, and capitalism is the devil?

Global Warming is a major problem, and something I don't know that any country as a whole is doing enough to combat but clearly we need to do something. Personally, I would love to ride my bike everywhere that I can, unfortunately it's just not feasible with my current job. I would also love to switch to solar energy for the house and get a hybrid. No, I never did finish the Magic 8 Ball Story, but I've filed it in my "To Do" folder. No, money is not the root of all evil and capitalism is not the devil. I just think a lot of evil people have a lot of the money, and capitalism has no business in the business of healthcare and education. There, I said it.

Annie asked:

How are people so self-obsessed and distracted that they miss a gaggle of pedestrians?

He was driving a Hummer in downtown Clayton. Enough said.

Molly asked:

Is Waylon gay?

Are you kidding? Waylon Jennings? Definitely not.

From "Tuesday Excerpt; Blogapalooza Edition!" Tuesday, October 16th, 2007:

Becca asked:

Why must you dis the mojito?

Because it's the drink of the moment. That's why. If it were vodka tonics, then the vodka tonic would be shown no mercy.

From "Thursday Thursday Thursday" Thursday, October 18th, 2007:

Gerald asked:

When did you start carrying a purse?

Since when did you start, um...YOUR MOM! Haha...that one's goin' in the catalogue.

Anonymous asked:

Little late this evening, huh?

Eat it, Anony.

Free Write Friday...half an hour late...

Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry.

Long work week + Home improvement project = I forgot.

This week's suggestion comes from an Anonymous Contributor, who just recently left their comment.

Okay, sorry gang, but I just wasn't feeling the suggestions this week. So I anonymously suggested my own. I know that sounds like it breaks the spontaneous spirit of Free Write Friday, but in all honesty (and we're talking 100% honesty here), I came up with it on the spur of the moment.

Becca, if I didn't alienate my readers before, I certainly have now...

But I make this promise to you all; a blog every Monday and a return of the two weekly features at the very least. I no longer have a Monday night class, and Tuesday excerpts don't really require much work on my part (well, beyond the writing of the piece from which I am excerpting, but that's most likely already been done prior to the posting, otherwise, wouldn't it just be Free Write Tuesday?), and Free Write Fridays because I know you all enjoy them so much (right? RIGHT?) So, yeah. Here goes.

This week's winning suggestion comes from Anonymous, who wins nothing for his or her shameful and cowardly anonymity:

How about a short short story about a cat that can't figure out where his owners went for the evening.



Friday, October 19th, 2007

They leave. They leave and it's lonely and I get scared. And right now, they've left yet again.

What's worse, though, is that sometimes they leave without checking to make sure that there's food for me to eat, like this time, they forgot to check, and there isn't any. Maybe they went to get me some. But they don't ever say anything to me, I mean...ever. They make noise and all, and I can tell they're trying to communicate...and I can understand them sometimes, like I'm pretty sure they mean me when they say, "Harris," and sometimes the male one who smells like a thousand different places tries to talk in my language, but all he ends up saying are things like, "The door," and "Ever persistent odor of centipede" and my favorite "I marked that spot already." I don't think he knows what he's saying.

But I know they didn't leave to get some, because last night the female one who smells like The Outside brought home an entire bag of the stuff they feed me. I don't know, though. Maybe they forgot about me.

I hate it when they go to The Outside, because they always come back smelling just a little bit different, like they go to some other place. They come home smelling like other cats, too, which doesn't make me jealous, except that they smell like The Little Female of Five Fingers whom I've met and don't like, or they smell like The Spotted One Who Protects Her Water, who wouldn't let me have a drink when we met. And there's another cat I can't place, whom I've never met. And dogs, sometimes. Smelly, rotten, stinky, scary big dogs.

They didn't even leave any water for me in the Little Room of Water. Sometimes, I lay down in the Upper Water Holder, because I fit in there so well. I never go into the Middle Water Holder, because that one has a lid, but there is always water in there. I also never go in the Lower Water Holder, because it holds too much water. I can drink water just fine out of the Upper Holder, but the Lower Holder is only for immersion in water. I've never been a fan of that, let me tell you.

I've been pacing The Rooms for a long time now. Through the First Room of Food, with no food or water for me, into the Second Room of Food with it's table on which they put their food, but there's none there. I've slept on my chair, his chair, her large and long chair, gone to Their Room of Sleep, gone to the Secondary Room of Sleep, and still they haven't returned. Maybe this time, they have left me for good.

Sometimes, they take me to The Outside. That scares me. It's big, there are so many smells. There are two Outsides, though. There is The Big Outside, which is through the door they always go through, and then there's The Little Outside, which is through the Almost Perpetual Barrier Door which only they can open, but I can always see through. I like going to The Little Outside, because there is less noise. But there are lots of other animals, and sometimes, through the Almost Perpetual Barrier, I see other cats. But they are never there when I get out there.

Sometimes, they take me to their Transportation Boxes, and I really get scared. They always take me to The Building of Interminable Misery, which smells like a thousand animals, and there is always another person who jabs me with strange, very long claws, and a lot of times afterwards, The Male and The Female try to give me extra drinks and foods that do not taste good, yet they insist I take, even going so far as to holding me down until I swallow.

But it has been a while since any of that has happened. And now, they're gone. I don't know if they're ever coming back, and the only things to eat are kept where only they can get to. Perhaps I'll starve. Or perhaps that Transportation Box I hear somewhere on The Outside contains them. I should run to the Always Perpetual Barrier overlooking the flowers, and see if I can see them.



Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Thursday Thursday

I have a feature where I answer questions, but I do not meet certain comments head on. But this week, I think I will. I'll be answering some comments people left for me in the past.

A messenger bag is not a man purse. It is a messenger bag. If I were to coordinate it with my outfits, it would become a man purse. But I do not coordinate. Yet.

If there is a string of Mojito Related deaths in New Zealand, I know nothing about it.

Brevity is not for me. I have already discussed this.

Cats doing back flips would be hilarious. And is if you search it on youtube.

I spend a lot of time in the city, but it's all during the day, so no cops would pull me over even in Webster.

Okay, this is no fun. Really, my point here was that my messenger bag is not a man purse. It's more of a soft briefcase with a strap.

Okay. So we're clear:

purse (n) a woman's handbag or pocketbook.

I don't care how selective with my definitions you think I'm being, but that is the standard definition of purse.

From Wikipedia:

"A messenger bag (also called a courier bag) is a type of sack, usually made out of some kind of cloth (natural or synthetic), that is worn over one shoulder with a strap that winds around the chest resting the bag on the lower back. Messenger bags are often used by bicycle messengers, though they are increasingly becoming an urban fashion icon."

And there you go. It does not say anywhere that it is a purse.

Okay. That's out of the way.

I played on a softball team this fall with Kathy and a large group of my boss' family and friends. And we were absolutely terrible. Well, no to be fair, not terrible. We onl got shut out the one time. Nineteen to nothing. Yikes.

But we all know what adult coed recreational softball leagues are not about winning, they are about having fun, drinking beer, and pretending like you're a good athlete. But we're not really good athletes. Well, except for that one team...the girls were better hitters than anybody on our team. Better hitters than the guys on their team. In fact, they were the best hitters we faced in the league.

How is that even fun for that team, though? There's no challenge to every week crushing your opponent in a rec league. I mean FO REAL!!

Sorry this is so disjointed. I promise tomorrow's Free Write Friday will be better. Just a reminder om that:

Give me a character, a situation, and a format (short story/play) and I will run with it. And keep asking questions! It'll be a good time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Being the Writer I Want to Be...

So I know on Monday's preview I promised politics but I changed my mind.

So, previously promised politics pardoned (that is called an alliteration), I will instead embark upon some musings about being a writer, and what it means to me when I tell people that I am a writer.

What happens in life a lot is that you meet somebody and they ask, "What do you do?" It's a kind of test to see if you have anything instantly interesting about you to spark further conversation. Such as:

Bob: What do you do?

Carlos: I'm an actor.

You see, this sparks a lot of conversation, because Bob wants to know a little more.

Bob: Oh? What have you been in? Anything I've seen?

Carlos: Do you watch Internet porn?

Bob: I thought you looked familiar.

Which, of course, brings up all sorts of further questions about Carlos and any number of questions about Bob.

When I used to get asked this question, it would often go like this:

New Person: What do you do, Elliot?

Me: I work at Target.

New Person: Oh. Sounds interesting.

And they would wander off in search of somebody else. Then, it became a minor detail in my life when I decided to relabel myself.

New Person: What do you do?

Me: I'm a writer.

New Person: Really? What have you written? Anything I would have read lately?

Me: Do you read Internet porn?

New Person: I thought your language patterns sounded familiar!

Me: I also work at Target, but that's not really how I define myself.

New Person: Oh, well, you have to pay the bills somehow.

Me: Yeah, true that. So what do you do?

New Person: I'm an actor...

See? See how much more conversation we got out of that? I would also mention that I am in school, which would further it even more from my end. It's not that I actually had any more to offer, I just pushed what's important in front of what's most stressful, which was, at the time, working at Target.

But nowadays, I no longer work at Target, and my job actually requires some explanation. And recently I have found myself responding differently to that question yet again.

New Person: So, what do you do, Elliot?

Me: I'm a Title Abstractor.

New Person: A what?

Me: Title Abstractor. I go to county offices around the area and research current and previous property owners for clients who are issuing title on a home or preparing a loan on a piece of property.

New Person: I thought your, um...something...was familiar.

Me: Oh, yeah, and I also write.

AH! It's getting pushed to the back again. And why? Well, I will tell you why.

You see, when I worked at Target, I was ashamed that I was as old as I was and working for (I will admit it) less than double-digits an hour. It was too much stress for too little cash. It was the kind of job that would have continued to suit me just fine until I got out of college and tried to enter the job market. If it had come to it, and I were to graduate and still be working at Target three months later with no job offers, I know I would have become severely mentally unbalanced. So it weighed heavy on my mind. To combat that, I forced myself to admit to the world that I am a writer first and foremost.

Nowadays, however, I like my job. This job is something I can see myself doing quite comfortably for several years. Don't get me wrong, I do want to get a job working for some sort of publication, eventually get my MFA in Creative Writing and become a writing teacher at a community college and finally get a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches. But it is not a job I will be ashamed to have come three months after graduation.

But it suddenly dawned on me that I still need to assert myself as a writer. Because a writer is what I am. I am a writer, despite what my blog's URL may proclaim. So, to be true to myself, let me say this:

From now on, when someone asks me what I do, the conversation will go like this:

New Person: And what do you do?

Me: I'm a writer.

New Person: Oh, cool. How's that working out for you?

Me: Well, it's tough to actually be the kind of writer who can pay the bills, you know, but I enjoy what I do.

New Person: Well, good for you, living the dream. But, uh, how do you pay your bills?

Me: I've got a day job, real estate property record research. It's enough of a challenge I don't get bored and it keeps food on the table and ink and paper in my printer. And what do you do?

New Person: I'm a literary agent. Have you written anything I would've read?

Me: Oh, well, probably not, but I may have some samples of my work...

At which point I will reach into my messenger bag and hand that person several sheaves of paper, a copy of Currents 2007, a beautiful head shot of me dressed as a tennis star, a DVD of "How to Write Flash Fiction" and a business card that says, "This is my card."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday Excerpt; Blogapalooza Edition!

Well, nothing really exciting about this Tuesday Excerpt, other than the fact that it's been a while since one. Okay, here goes!


from The Office Bar and Grill September/October 2007

Lights up on center-right, where a middle-aged couple has just sat down at a table. Thelma, their hostess, is handing them menus.

This place is so clever! Look at it, darling! So clever!

Alright, folks, we’ll get you some water and bread and Matt should be right out to help you!

Thank you!
(Thelma exits)
I’m so glad we came in here! It’s so clever!

Yes, yes it is.
(looks bored)

Oh, and look! The menu says “Memo” on the front! And it’s got a header and everything!
(she opens it)
Look! The dishes all have funny names, too!
(she turns it over)
And look! The drinks and dessert menu on the back say “Overtime Shifts!” So clever!
(enter Matt with two glasses of water, which he sets down on the table)

Welcome to The Office Bar and Grill, my name is Matt, I’ll be your Office Drone for the evening.

Oh, don’t you look so clever in your dress slacks and short sleeve shirt with a tie! Oh, I have a son who looks just like you who works in an office! But, you know, a real one, not a fun one like this!
(to husband)
Isn’t this place clever?

I already said it is.

Could I get you something to drink to start off with?

(she consults her menu)
Tell me, young man, what is it that all of the young folks are drinking these days?

That would be the Mojito.

(bad accent)
Mojito! How exotic sounding. I think I’ll have one of those. You dear?

(considering, bad accent)
Mojito as well, then.

Okay, I’ll give you two a moment to decide what you’d like to order, I’ll get those drinks right to you.

Actually, we’d like to order an appetizer.

Of course! What would you like?

(peruses menu)

(peruses menu)


It all looks so good...

May I suggest the Boss’ Starter?
(the two locate it on their menus)
It comes with Outsourced Taquitos, Tech Support Hummus, our Company Picnic Onion Rings and, um, fried mozzarella sticks.

Oh, that sounds lovely! And clever!


Okay, I’ll put that in, get your drinks, and come back to get your orders.
(walks towards bar)


Lights fade on the couple and come up on the bar, where Briana and The Business man are. The business man has three empty glasses in front of him, Briana is mixing him another drink. Matt approaches.

(bad accent)
Mojito please, Briana! Keep them coming!

I swear to God...Briana, make me two more of those, please.

Okay, Matt.

(to Briana, quieter)
And...what’s the deal with these things? I mean...seriously, at least fifty percent of the drinks people are ordering these days are mojitos! Oh, and they all say it like idiots! Just pronounce it correctly, you don’t need to add that stupid accent!

(bad accent)

(pointing to Business Man)
Yeah, that one.

You get used to these things, Matt. Like back in ninety-eight, everybody was drinking White Russians. It was always, “White Russian!” or “Another Caucasian!” they’d call. Got pretty freaking annoying after a while. But then, the craze died down and people ordered normal drinks, until somebody wrote a piece in all the Village Voice Media papers around the country about how we should all drink Manhattans, and then it was “I would like a Manhattan, if you’d be so kind?” All the time. It comes and goes, Matt.
(she hands the Business Man his drink)

(bad accent)

Yeah, well...I gotta go put this order in, I’ll be right out for those drinks.
(walks past business man)

(bad accent, to Matt)

Right, sir.

Briana...Where’s the restroom? Only I have to use it pretty quick here.

(pointing offstage)
Over there. Should I call you a cab?

No thanks...a taxi should do it.
(runs off)

Briana picks up the emtpy glasses and starts washing them. Enter JEREMY.

Briana, how are we doing tonight?
(enter Matt with a basket of bread)

I’m doing just fine, Boss Man, yourself.
(Matt stands at the bar)
Oh, Matt, the drinks. Sorry.

No, Briana, I mean how are we doing. Not the royal we...the bar.

(mixing the drinks, setting them on the tray with the bread basket)
Eh. Kind of slow, but it’s Tuesday...and it’s early.

Thank you, Briana.
(waits at the counter, hesitating, not looking at Jeremy but obviously listening)

Well, you know...
(rocks his neck back and forth, working out kinks)
...I mean...
(looking at Matt)
I assume that tray you’ve got is supposed to go to some customers?
(lights up on the couple at the table)

(shakes his head)
Yeah, sorry, lost my head for a little bit.
(takes bread and drinks to the couple)

Thank you! Oh! These must be those
(bad accent)
Moritas you suggested?

(bad accent)
(closes his eyes, look of pain and anger across his face)
Your appetizer will be right out.
(walks back to the bar)
Briana, could you get me a coke?

What did you do wrong?

Excuse me?
(Jeremy raises his eyebrows and shrugs)
Well, uh...

(impatiently rushing past Matt to the table where the couple sits)
How is everything this evening?

(mid sip)
Oh! My! That is quite different! Hm.
(wipes her mouth with a napkin)
I’m sorry, young man, did you say something?

He asked how everything was.

Oh! Splendid! This place is so very clever!
(Matt rolls his eyes, looks exasperatedly at Briana, who shrugs and hands him a Coke)

Well thank you! My name is Jeremy, I’m the owner of this place.
(Matt takes a drink and cringes)

Oh! Well, you know, I just can’t get over how clever everything is in here! It’s like eating in a real office!

Well, thank you, it was an idea I had back in college, and I finally made it happen last year.
(Briana is smiling at Matt, and holds up a bottle of cheap whiskey)

You mean you’ve been here for a year?
(to her husband)
You worked across the street until three months ago, you never mentioned this place!
(Matt shakes his head but smiles, chugs the rest)

Seemed kind of silly, going to a bar that was dressed up like an office, when all I wanted at the end of the day was to get out of the office I worked in.
(grabs bread, butters it up)

(face falling, sad grimace on his face) folks need anything, you let me know.
(Briana is silently laughing, takes the glass back from Matt and refills it, this time visibly with more than half whiskey)
My name’s Jeremy.

Thank you very much!
(Jeremy walks back to the bar, lights down on the couple)

(hides bottle, fills the rest of the glass with coke, hands it to Matt)
Here you go Matthew.

Thank you, Briana.
(takes the glass, takes a sip, turns to face Jeremy who has just walked up, disapproving)
Helps me get through the night, boss! The caffeine!

You’re aware of the policies here, correct?

Which ones?

Concerning drinking while on the clock? Bringing the bread basket with the water when you first greet your customers? Always writing down the orders?

(assumes a monotone voice)
One alcoholic beverage per shift, always bring the bread with the water, and ensure accuracy by writing down exactly what they order.

JEREMY where’s your ticket for these folks? Are you still winging it?

(strolling past Jeremy)
Right, sorry...the bread basket wasn’t ready, that’s my fault, and all I ordered was a soda.

And are you going to write the orders down?

I’ve never written the orders down, Jeremy. I just remember everything.

I haven’t seen him mess up an order yet, sir.

That’s not the point, I have rules here for a reason and...
(trails off)

Everything alright?

Briana...please keep this...I...
(sighs, leans his elbows against the bar top, head in his hands)

Not doing so well, huh?
(she leans down next to him)
When you’ve been in the business as long as I have...
(Matt enters, stands just outside the light, listens)
Well...look, things will pick up.

(looks up at her)
No. I mean, unless they pick up in the next two minutes...
(Matt’s eyes widen, he steps closer)
Don’t...Briana, keep this to yourself, but...I have to close. Two weeks.

(nods her head, resigned)
Yeah. Well...I can always go back to Applebee’s I guess.
(The Business Man reenters, pushing past Matt)
Oh, shit, I forgot to call him his cab.

I’ll do it...I’ll get him out front, too.

(stumbling up to Jeremy)
Hey, you work here?

Yes, sir. I’m going to give you a hand.
(starts leading him offstage the opposite direction from the one he entered)

Only I just puked all over the floor in the bathroom.

Themla! Thelma, could you come here a minute?

It was kind of green and...hey...they taste great going down but they sure are nasty coming up, huh?
(enter Thelma)

What’s that sir?

(bad accent)

(rolling his eyes)
Thelma, could you find Matt and tell him to clean the bathroom? And cover his table for him if they need anything?
(Matt takes a step back into darkness)

Sure, Jeremy.
(walks towards kitchen as Jeremy and Business Man continue to exit opposite)

You think I could get one of those
(bad accent)
Mojitos for the road?

I don’t think the’ll let you take it in the cab.

A cab? Call me a taxi.
(they both exit)


Briana clears the last of the glasses left by the inebriated business man, then pours herself a glass of the cheap whiskey over ice. She downs it in two short gulps. Matt emerges from the shadows.

(Briana looks up from pouring herself another drink)
...what’s going on?

Nothing, Matt.
(takes a swig)
Hey, Thelma’s going to ask you to clean the bathroom when she finds you.

Yeah, I know.
(looks over his shoulder)
Look, really, what’s going on? I overheard Jeremy saying...something.

He says a lot of things.

Just tell me if I need to start looking for a new job.

It probably wouldn’t hurt. Oh, and...note this, the managers notice when you show up late. Just, you know, word of caution.

Ah, whatever, Pat’s Bar across the street is hiring servers.
(looks hard at Briana)
Briana, how long have you worked here?

(she shrugs)
A year. Since the place opened, I guess. Jeremy used to own an Applebee’s franchise, and I was the bartender there, so when he opened this place he called to see if I was still there, asked me to come tend bar.

How long have you been a bartender?
(squints at her)

Since I was twenty-two.
(squints at him)
Is this some game we’re playing? Twenty questions?

And how long ago was that?

(stands up straight)
A woman never reveals her age.

It’s just that I...
(shakes his head)
Never mind.
(heavy sigh)
I guess I better put my résumé together.

You didn’t hear anything.
(enter Thelma, carrying a tray with appetizers on it)

I should go run into Thelma.
(turns and nearly runs into Thelma)
Nicely done. Hi.
(Thelma opens her mouth to say something)
I know. Go clean the bathroom. You’ve got my table. Only, really, I’ve got this.
(takes the tray)
And I’ll take their orders, put it in, refresh their drinks, and clean the bathroom.
(turns, lights up on couple at table, her drink empty and his still full, pushed to the side, forgotten, both peruse their menus)
Who knows? If they drink enough, maybe this place can stay afloat.

(turns to Briana)
What’s he mean by that?

Hm? Oh, um...nothing. Nothing. Um...go ahead and, uh, go back up front.
(Thelma nods, walks towards and then past Matt as she exits)
(lights down on bar)


Matt sets down the appetizer plate and two smaller plates on the table.

Alright, have you had a chance to look over the memo?

(folds her menu)
Oh, yes! I would like the, um...
(reopens her menu)
Office Barbecue Burger.
(Matt nods, she folds her menu again)
And could I get that with a side salad instead of the fries?

Absolutely. How would you like your burger cooked?

(opens her menu)
Well done. And could I have the light ranch on the side?

Sure thing.
(she folds her menu again)
And for you sir?
(the man looks over the top of his menu at his wife)

What did you get, dear?

The barbecue burger.

How’s the filet mingon?

(eyes wide in surprise)
Actually, that’s one I haven’t tried yet.

(reopens her menu)
You know, I didn’t even see that!

It’s on the Important Client Menu, last page.

I was on the Casual Friday menu!

I’ll go ahead and get that, with a baked potato and a mixed greens salad.

Alright, how would you like that cooked.

(holds his fingers apart a small amount)
Just a bit of pink in the middle. And do you have an Italian dressing?

Original or creamy?

(folds menu)
No. Creamy.
(hands menu to Matt)

Okay, I’ll have that right up for you.
(takes menu from woman)
Do you need another drink, ma’am?

Oh! Yes! This is very good. What is it called again?


(bad accent)

(rolls his eyes, but they don’t see, grabs her glass)
Okay, and for you sir? Something different?

Yes, please...Miller light, if you’ve got it on tap.

Just in bottles.

Bud Light on tap?

(counting them off on his fingers, looking at the ceiling)
We have Fat Tire, Bud, Bud Select, and Miller on tap. We’ve got Bud, Bud light, Miller, Miller light and Michelob, and...Michelob light, and...I’m forgetting a couple, in bottles.

Give me a Bud Light, I guess.

Okay, be right back with that.
(turns to go, woman grabs the man’s abandoned mojito as lights go down on the couple)


Lights up on the bar. Somebody is making noise behind the bar unseen as Matt approaches.

Another one of these things...
(walks right up to the bar, shakes the empty glass)
...and a Bud Light. And, what the hell, you’re not doing anything, just take it to that table while I clean up that drunk ass’ mojito puke. Or maybe if I don’t do it, Jeremy will actually do some work himself and get it done.

(rising up from behind the bar, looking at Matt, takes the empty glass from his hand)
Do what?
(a look of anger crosses his face)

(quick recovery)
Oh, fuck, Jeremy, I knew that was you, I was kidding.
(continues past the bar, his face pale, eyes wide in fear)

Matt! Get over here!
(Matt stops, turns, looks at Jeremy)
(Matt walks back to the bar)
I assume you work here because you need this job, right?

Yes, sir.

I knew it had to be something like that. Thanks for clearing that up.
(pause in which Jeremy begins mixing a mojito, not looking up until)
Well? Carry on, go clean up the mess.
(Matt turns around and nearly knocks over Briana, who has just entered from the kitchen with a case of beer, stopping Matt in his tracks)
Don’t forget to put in the order you didn’t write down, Matt.
(Matt takes a deep breath, standing still as Briana walks past him, keeping her eyes on him, and he exits)
Thanks, Matt.
(to Briana)
Cover his table, will ya?


Drama, instead of telling us the whole of a man's life, must place him in such a situation, tie such a knot, that when it is untied, the whole man is visible. -Leo Tolstoy

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall Break = Blogapalooza!

Alright, my few and faithfuls, I apologize for the long silence interspersed with sporadic bursts of incoherent blogobabble. But no more! Um, at least, not for, uh, this week...

Because, my friends, this is one of those few weeks between August and May when my obligations are fewer, my responsibilities slacken, my free time becomes recognizable as both freedom and timeliness. Yes, my comrades in arms, it's...


What does this mean for you, my reader? Well, to start, it means you get to actually read something fresh for the first time since October 4th. And it also means a week in blogging that will live forever in tales, songs, poetry, and Internet folkdom. I will blog every day starting today, Monday, October 15th, through Sunday, October 21st. That's right! Just like a farmer's market, it's pulled right from the field and delivered ripe for you. Just like a fish market on the wharf in Maine, it's coming fresh off the boat and still wriggling until I chop it's head off and wrap it up for you. Just like Radiohead's approach to each and every album...we're talking fresh!

A preview, you demand? Well, who am I to withhold such a gem. Especially because there are those amongst you (the naysayers, the doomsday prophets, the skeptics, the cynics, the Libertarians perhaps?) who are reading this and laughing under your breath. "Sure, Elliot...right. You'll blog every day for a week. Yup. And you'll also get on your bicycle and ride it more often, too. And your cat will be voted sweetest cat of the year. And the Cardinals will win the world series this year. And pink elephants exist. And pigs fly on Tuesdays and odd dated Thursdays." Well...okay, my track record runs against me, but this is for reals, yo!

To start, there's this blog, today. Tomorrow, get ready for a super de duper Tuesday Excerpt Extravaganza! Wednesday, look for a well thought piece of politics emanating from this writer's fingertips to your browser! Thursday, get ready for an off-the-wall posting you may be talking about until Friday morning! And speaking of Friday, start firing up your creative juices now, because I am reinstating Free Write Fridays for this week only (and possibly again in the future, but for sure it's happening this week)! Will it be a play? Will it be a short story? Will it be about a guy with a thing? Will it be about a thing with a guy? Will it be about a girl with a thing for a guy? Will it be about a guy with a girl for a thing? Or about a thing with an eye for a guy with a thing for a girl with a thing for the thing? Or will it be even more perplexing, exhaustive, time-consuming, and mind bending than all previous Free Write Fridays put together? Tune in Friday! And don't forget to make suggestions! (Go ahead and start now!)

Saturday, I will revisit my "Your Questions, Answered!" feature (a week or two late to be sure) and on Sunday, a quiet reflection on Fall Break and how it compares to it's cooler Varsity-Captain-of-Every-Sport older brother, Spring Break.

Get ready!

Okay, to start the week off, I just have a few things to say.

You need to hobble on over to my links section and read Annie's blog. This fellow WGHS Class of 2001 member and Webster University Alumna is clever, insightful, hilarious, and also both gorgeous and adorable. I have been reading her blog and, to be honest, that is part of the reason I have not blogged myself in a while. You know how sometimes, you want to say something about a topic, and bam! All of a sudden, somebody says it better themselves? Well, that's Annie. And for the record, she and I have been friends for several years, but even if we didn't know each other (and I had found her blog) I would check it all the time. It's just that good.

And speaking of people saying what you wanted to say better than you could have said it, and also speaking of Annie (read her post for 10/15/07 "If You Want to Drive a Hummer, Join the Army), I would just like to talk about downtown Clayton, Missouri for a moment.

Clayton is a place where you are not judged merely by the car you drive, but also by how you drive it, and mainly by how you park it. Me? I drive a 2002 VW Jetta, which is a fairly small car. I yield to pedestrians. Often, if I am parked in the metered lot in front of the County offices where the Recorder of Deeds and Collector of Revenue are located, and somebody is desperately searching for a parking spot, I will wave to that person in their vehicle and point to my car. This has been met with a very gracious attitude for all concerned, at least at first. And most of the time, it continues with that (with maybe a little bit of a hardening when the person who takes my vacated parking spot sees how little time I've left on the meter, but I have become such a good judge of knowing just how much time it will take me to do a specific deed search that I have almost gotten meter-feeding down to a science). However, every once in a while this gracious person will be well placed to take my spot, only to be edged out at the last second because I pointed my car in the perfect direction to cut them off and leave my spot open to a spot-sharker from the other side of me. Now, one or two times I have caught this before it happened, and have either pointed my car in the direction to block the offender and allow my nameless parking-lot friend access to my spot or (as I did once last week) I suddenly "remember" something I forgot and pull back into my spot and get out, ready to feed the meter...the offender will invariably speed off and then I will flag down the original person and quietly reassure them with hand gestures that this is their parking spot and nobody else's. Now, nobody has ever done this for me, but that's okay. Parking in Clayton is, after all, a dog-eat-dog world, as is evidenced by the number of times I have sat with my blinker on, waiting seemingly interminable minutes while somebody who has just gotten into their car starts it, gets settled, changes CDs, makes a phone call, adjusts their mirrors, rolls down their windows and whatever else they may be doing, only to be blocked out by the way they reverse and then to subsequently lose the spot to somebody who just drove up in the last three seconds...and it is invariably a white pick-up truck with a cover over the truck bed. I am not a mean person, but I have been tempted to spit on this truck or park next to it and haphazardly open my door into it. But spitting has only ever backfired on me, and opening my door into somebody else's car damages both of those cars. I once approached him after one of this parking-space usurping moments and he made snide comments, so in retaliation, I left a note like this under his windshield wiper:

"Excuse me - I was waiting for this spot. I clearly had my blinker on. There was a line of cars behind me patiently waiting for me to pull into this spot so they could continue their trek to find a parking spot. When you swooped in, you made me incredibly angry and made it useless for those people behind me to have waited. And then, when I very rightfully approached you about it, because it was clearly a space I had been waiting patiently for-as any of the people behind me or the person who left the spot before you took it could tell you-you decided to act like more of a jerk and tell me it was too bad I didn't get into the spot, because there was an hour and a half on the meter. You're an extremely terrible person, an asshole, and I sincerely hope that one day your bad driving habits land you in a ditch. Signed, The Silver Jetta."

Since there are numerous silver Jettas that park in and around this parking lot on a daily basis, I do not fear retaliation of any kind.

Now...crossing the street is another matter I wish to address. And most of the drivers in Clayton are very good about letting pedestrians cross, even if it does make them sit for longer than the standard three seconds at the stop sign (of course, it's St. Louis, so the tradition is to actually roll the stop sign, but...). However, last week I encountered somebody so rude, so terribly rude that I actually called them on it. You see, there was a crowd of people waiting at the crosswalk to cross from Memorial Square to the aforementioned parking lot (I was parked on the street and not in the lot, but I still had to cross towards the lot to get to my car. I like to park on the street. Nobody can open their car door into mine on the street), and this jerk in a black H2 came up to the intersection. Feeling assured that this person would stop, the other pedestrians and I began crossing. I was at the front of this intrepid troupe of foot-commuters (I also try to park as far away as I can to get some exercise), when the guy did not stop but rolled right through the stop sign, it was my head that would have been taken off by his enormous rear view mirror if I had not at the last moment realized his intentions. Seriously, my nose was inches from that mirror. So, he blew by and I stormed past the back of his car as he drove on, made myself visible in the driver's side rear view mirror and raised my arms in the classic "Hey, asshole, what the hell are you doing?" pose.

And he stopped. And so did all of the people crossing the street with me, and so did all the people crossing from the opposite side. And then I shouted loud enough for the asshole to hear me through his open window, "What?" I wanted him to get out. I wanted him to come up to me and size me up and realize he could kick the crap out of me. I wanted him to do that. I was ready to sacrifice myself to the beating so that his H2 would idle for five minutes and burn twelve gallons of gas. But that wasn't about to happen. He would have to have gotten out of his H2 and sized up a round two dozen people who were stopped in the crosswalk. So he peeled off without word, without gesture. His only response was the very timid and brief squeal of his tires as he slammed on the gas pedal...and in the process, probably burned those twelve gallons I wanted him to waste. On my way back to the office, I noticed a black H2 at the gas station across Clayton Road from my office. Was it him? Unfortunately, black H2s are a dime a dozen in Clayton, so probably not. But there it was, at a gas station. Pumping an entire Saudi oil field's daily production into its tank. And I felt good about the 34 mpg I was getting driving around the city.

So I took This Quiz a couple weeks ago to help me find out who I should vote for. It's a series of questions about issues such as health care, defense, education, abortion, gay marriage, taxes, etc., and you either agree, disagree, or don't care about the issue. Then you rate it in importance, in five steps I think, from not important to very important. At the end, it tells you who your candidate is. I got Kucinich, agreed with him on everything it seems, followed by Hilary, Edwards, Obama, and then on down the line. This works great, I mean, it's not scientific or anything, but it does match you with the candidate that correlates more or less to your political ideals. However, a lot of Americans seem to vote not on the issues as a whole, but on one or two issues. I also see a lot of political apatheticness in the ranks of people who want Bush out. The attitude, it seems, is "Anybody but Bush." This hardly seems like a good deal. Do we want Cheney? I think he'd make an even worse president. I mean...if everybody took the time to think about the issues and say, "This is what I believe to be important, and this is how I feel this should be approached..." and then sat down and really took a look at the people who are in the running for the job of President of the United States...I mean, that's president of the entire country people...then I don't know that we'd have as much support for Hilary and Obama. Look, it's not like they're not strong candidates. I happen to agree with Hilary's health care stance. I happen to think that Obama is a charismatic individual with great ideas. Politically, they are both very clever. Obama's already aired his dirty laundry, so he is immune to the "Did you inhale?" attacks that plagued Clinton (however briefly). But I think both of these candidates have a lot of appeal to the masses because of attributes not related to how effectively they could do the job. Lots of people are behind these candidates because it would be a first with either one of them; a black president? A female president? Huge strides in America, yes. I want to see both of these things happen. But before I put anyone in office, I am going to look not at their race, or their gender, or their religion, but at their ideas and their ideals. And their game plan. If Kucinich could garner some of that Rock Star persona that Obama has, or some of that instant recognition that Hilary has, that would be great. I would love to have everybody I know casting their vote for Kuninich. But even that's not true, because not everybody I know agrees with his political ideals. What am I trying to say here? Take the quiz. Answer as truthfully as you can. Find out more about whoever comes out on top. Do yourself that favor. I would rather you vote for the candidate who would build the America you want to see than voting for the one who is the most popular, even if that candidate is the one I am voting for.

That having all been Kucinich.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


My Photo I teacher is French. He's kind of funny, too. The first night of class, we talked about cycling during the break. He asked what we thought of a picture, and one girl said it made her think of landscape calenders. So now, anytime he sees an image that he thinks should go in a calender, he looks at Megan for her opinion, calling her the "expert on calenders." He also knew right away which photos were mine, or so he thought...we pinned our photos up on a board and he walked around, and when he got to one group that included a picture of downtown St. Louis with a bike race going on, he looked at me and said, "No need to ask who took these pictures." Okay, so he was right, but still...

I used to take pictures of nothing but cats. I got my first camera when I was probably ten or eleven, and seriously...all cats. I got some great pictures of cats...but really, I took about thirty rolls of film and they were all of cats.

Not that I have gotten much better. I bought a nice $80 point and shoot film camera right at the start of the Digital Camera revolution, ran a roll of film through it to get used to it, and took it with me to college. That first roll? All cats. And did I take a lot of pictures at school? The whole time I was there, maybe three rolls. And no cats.

When I got a digital, guess what? My stupid cat bore the brunt of the flashes.

But now...having become incredibly unsatisfied with the lack of control I have over images I get with a digital camera (the point and shoot kind), I find myself loving SLR film cameras more and more. Okay, I love Kathy's Digital Rebel as well, but that's her camera and not mine. And so I keep taking steps back to a more involved process...which is why I love the darkroom. And so far? No pictures of cats.

My four pictures that I turned in, instructor said they were unconventional. For instance, one has a horizon line running across the middle of the image, rather than set at one third or two thirds, as is the standard practice. My picture of the bike race is loaded with action and focus in the bottom right corner, and devoid of anything in the top left. My picture of downtown Clayton? The foreground is dark, leading the eye to an empty street caught in the sunlight. The only conventional one, he said, is too dark to really be a good print, and there's not enough contrast.

Back to the first one, though, with the weird horizon line. It works, he said. For two reasons; it's not the actual horizon, it's where the trees start after a clearing. And also, while the picture is not divided into thrids horizontally, it is vertically. I think you'll have to see it to see what I mean.

And the shot of downtown Clayton? It works as well, he says, because the street is emtpy. There's all this darkness in the foreground, there's no people (aside from one in black, walking out of the sunlight, his back to the camera), and it's just that...emtpy. Which is what I was going for. I like downtown Clayton but there's a sense of banality about it, this sort of clinical mock-up of an urban scene that is missing something. And at that point, what it was missing was people. In fact, there were lots of people behind me, waiting for me to take the picture. I wouldn't have minded at the time if they had just went ahead and walked through the shot, but now, having seen the print...I like it the way it is.

And the downtown one? I can fix it. I just need to burn in the sky in that empty corner. That will help balance it a little bit. Or, I can just make a 5X7 of the area in which there is something actually happening, but then it's not a city scape like it's supposed to be, but a street scene. And the last one? Well, I just need to increase the contrast and decrease the amount of time I expose the paper, I guess. See if that helps. But the assignment is over, and we're on to motion photography. And my question to you, dear readers (all eight of you now, since Annie's started reading), can any of you do backflips? Anyone? Or know somebody in the St. Louis Metro Area that can, that would be willing to do a backflip or two (or, possibly, four) that I can take a picture of? That would be sweet. Let me know.