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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back on the Prompt Wagon

I have gone back to my beloved "Promptly." Today's prompt and advice about writing towards Young Adults did not disappoint. I got some feedback from the short story, but could use more before I start making changes. Food for thought.

In your new home, you discover an infestation of something you didn't even think, well, infested places.

“SHARON!!!!” I shouted. She rushed in, fresh paint splattered all over her.

“What is it?”

“Sharon, did the realtor mention who used to live here?”

“Uh, I think he said an elderly lady. Why?”

My back was to her. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the ridiculous infestation that lay before me. I didn’t even know these kinds of infestations existed. She stepped towards me. I didn’t know how to say it so I just let her see for herself.

“Oh my God!”

I nodded.


I shrugged.

“We have a…”

“Yup. We have a cat infestation.” The words were so awkward. I felt as though I were on a TV show and the crew would pop out and yell that I was “punk’d”. But that didn’t happen. I had opened a hidden door that was flush with the stairwell and had no handle. How did nobody know about this? The purrs and meows that came from the tiny room sounded like a demented orchestra on a Monty Python sketch: The Vienna Cat Choir.

At least forty cats stared up at me. I hate the shit out of cats. One hissed at my brother once when we were kids. Luckily a dog was also present and barked at the cat. From that day on, I was a dog guy. They have such piercing eyes of questionable color and intentions. Clearly, the old lady who previously resided here was a “Cat Lady.”

“What do we do?” Sharon asked after our stunned silence.

“I have no clue. Call the realtor?”

“What can he do? Everything is finalized and the lady is dead.”

“That is pretty final, “ I said.

Sharon turned to me. She put her hands on her hips in the usual way, telling me to take care of it, without words. Then she left the room and resumed painting. That was her last word on the matter apparently.

I devised a number of plans, most of which ended in the deaths of at least half of the felines. But I knew Sharon wouldn’t go for them.

Then it hit me. I took a bunch of empty moving boxes and created a box tunnel out of the secret door and to the front door. Having my tunnel of cat freedom constructed, I started shouting and making maniacal gestures at the cats. I believe I may have barked a little too. It worked! The cats darted out, not looking the least bit graceful. Unfortunately I did not tape the tunnel together and the cats exploded out the sides of it, scattering throughout the freshly painted living room. They fell against the wet walls and ran towards the door. Sharon screamed as they stepped in her paint tray, making painted paw prints on our new wooden floors.

Eventually they all left. I stood with my hands on my hips, like Superman. I was triumphant, and no cats were destroyed. Sharon did not share my moment.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A first draft

After a lot of reworking and editing, here is the first draft of my longest short story thus far. I plan on rewriting the entire thing, but this is what I have so far. I hope you enjoy, it's kind of weird.

The Eye of Bowie, an Ocular Obsession

By Nathan Honoré

-Part 1-

My ex-girlfriend’s eyes did not belong on her head. They were small, yet devastatingly huge. So I killed her.

Two months ago I sat in my candy apple red car on the slanted 57th street and waited. I felt the frightful weight of the tiny gun in my palm. Like a good Catholic, I held out my hands, one on top of the other. The gun rested there. I loaded it easily and with care. A sacred vessel. Then she emerged on the porch we used to make out on. The closed eyes of our kisses were a welcome reprieve. I got out of my car with a lazy smile on my face and moseyed towards her, gun fully exposed. She must have thought it was her brother’s air-soft gun, which look surprisingly realistic. She walked towards me. The cold air made her cross her arms, hands under the armpits. It was kind of cute. Too bad her eyes enraged me. I raised the gun and shot her between those monstrosities. She was dead. Her eyes rolled back, never to be seen again.

At least that’s what would have happened if me and my parked car hadn't been creamed by a dairy truck. Irony.

I survived the collision with nothing but a collapsed lung, a fractured wrist, and a missed opportunity. The police found the loaded gun. When I had recovered enough from my injuries they questioned me rigorously. Luckily, I once saw a special on how to beat a lie detector and told them I couldn’t remember. They bought it, but suspected suicide. Thus, I was put into a mental ward for observation. It wasn’t bad, but a new obsession emerged. The David Bowie classic Labyrinth was played in the main area twenty-four hours a day. I had been aware of Bowie’s work when I entered the ward, but had never seen or heard him speak. His eyes. A fellow patient told me that one of his eyes was permanently dilated because a friend of his punched Bowie when he was fourteen for sleeping with the friend’s girlfriend. The pupil never returned to normal size, giving the illusion that his eyes are different colors. I said to myself, "Joe, you need that."

My ex-roommate, Joe, was a freak. We lived together for over a year, but never really got along. Joe always accused me of being a drug dealer for some reason. He would go through really odd phases. One day he’d sit and play the Super Mario Brothers 3 on NES for hours. The next, Joe would barricade himself in his room, coming out only to relieve himself (I hope.) Joe could be fun, but when he drank, he drank. My friends and I would be partying and he would come late. His night class almost always ran late and he would then have an hour-long fight on the phone with his girlfriend. The rest of us would have a pretty good buzz on by the time he got there, full of Southern Comfort and Diet Coke. Joe would walk straight to the fridge, chug a beer, grab another, and then plop himself in whatever chair was available. Nobody bugged him until he had his third drink. Joe caught up quick. After those first ten minutes, he was the life of the party, pouring shots, buying pizza for everyone, and getting ridiculously drunk. When he felt he had enough Joe would walk down the hallway to our apartment and pass out in his bed.

I followed him once.

Joe walked flawlessly down the narrow hallway. He fiddled with his keys along the way, humming some metal tune’s main guitar riff. I snuck in after he went into his room, kittie-corner to the bathroom. The only light on was the huge candle he lit every night in his room, so it was easy to hide behind our La-Z-Boy. I could hear him typing as though he was hammering the keys with a sledge. Then some very loud metal music came on. I think it was Rammstein. Psssssssch. He apparently had another beer in his room. The crumpling of the can signaled its defeat. Joe emerged from his creepily lit room. The lights still off, he stood in front of the mirror, shirtless. He took a hold of the porcelain with a menacing grip and leaned close to the mirror. Joe always took pride in his triceps. It felt like forever. He must have been staring at himself for ten or fifteen minutes, not moving an inch. I thought he was just admiring his body.

After we graduated, Joe and I went our separate ways. He never even bothered with his half of the security deposit.

I was working as an accountant when I suddenly received a call from an unknown number. It looked familiar, so I answered.

“Hey Craig, what’s going on,” Joe said. His creepiness had lost none of its potency. The image of Joe staring at himself came into my mind. What the hell did he want?

My first day out of the ward I called my old college roommate. We hadn’t spoken for years but I needed his help.

“Hey Craig, what’s going on,” I began.

“Oh… hey Joe.”

“Craig, I’m going straight to it.”


“I’m going to pay you one hundred fifty dollars to punch me in my left eye. When are you available?”

More silence.

“Listen Craig. I’m not going to press charges or anything, I just need to have this done. Do me this one favor, please.” I hadn’t said please for seven months.

“Uh…can I ask why Joe?”

“Sure you can, but I won’t tell you. And I’m raising the price to two hundred.”

“Man…are you sure? I don’t want to get in trouble or anything. What if I hurt my hand? What if you-“

“Don’t worry about any of that,” I interjected. “I’ve done some research and you’ll be fine. I just need you to hit me in the eye. Simple enough, right?”

“Alright. You’re the boss. And can you write the check to cash?”

That motherfucker was always more concerned with money than anything else, always making checks out to cash. I had my suspicions that he was drug dealer. Regardless, Craig came through and slugged me good. He must have had some pent up aggression, which was fine. I waited for the bruise to settle a bit before inspection. This was a science project, replicating history to create the same result as Bowie. I had to have his eyes, and since stealing his eyes was out of the question, a little science was required. After three days, I caved. I turned the bathroom light on, stared at myself while the lights flickered and leaned over the counter. Opening my eyelid, I checked out my eye. Nothing changed. There was just a little swelling around the hole in my skull where the eye sits. It was Craig’s fault. I formulated another plan. Those eyes must be mine.

Amazon is an amazing thing. I entered “Bowie contacts” and sifted through all the knife crap until I finally saw them. Only six hundred bucks too. The set had one really good Bowie eye and the other was just for show. All in all, a small price to pay for ocular perfection.

I went for a walk on the day of their arrival. I wanted to show off my new eyes to the world. Unfortunately I have a terrible habit of keeping my head to the ground when I walk. Only the cracks that break mothers’ backs saw me.

-Part 2-

“Hey Tracy.”

“Joe? What are you doing?”

“I want to take you out tonight. I have something awesome to show you.” I tried to hide my giddiness.

“Ugh, Joe. We’ve been through this. Why do I even answer your calls anymore?” she asked.

“Ok Trace, how bout some coffee? An innocent rendezvous. I won’t try to touch or kiss you. Scout’s honor.” I was never a scout.

“Fine. I’ll meet you at the Cocoa Nut.”


The Cocoa Nut was a nice enough establishment. Tracy and I used to frequent it when we dated that one week. She thought I was interesting because I was odd and figured it was just an act to get her attention. It’s amazing how much of the truth you push out because you don’t want to see it. We would sit at the semi-comfortable La-Z-Boys with a clear coffee table between us. I would stare at her emerald eyes, not speaking, not smiling. She would blush, thinking I was just being flirtatious. Until the first twenty minutes passed without me changing my expression. We eventually made awkward conversation. It’s impossible to find an attractive girl who likes metal, and that’s all I talk about, so our discussions were not the greatest. We never kissed, but one night we got wasted and she gave me a blowjob while I fondled her boobs. I made sure she stared up at me the whole time. The felatio was nice enough, but I wanted to see her eyes. I got upset when she would take her eyes away from mine, but let her finish. The next day she dumped me.

The loose tile floors of the Nut were all too familiar, not that I missed them. As usual, the lights were dim, coffee house style. Faint enough to not be seen by those across the room, but not light enough to read. The teenaged baristas looked at me together, feigning the usual welcoming attitude fueled by hours of caffeine. I grabbed a black coffee and a stirrer. It gave me something to do besides look down at the liquid that was too hot to drink. Tracy had not arrived yet. I went to the bathroom to admire my Bowie eye. She would love it. How could she not?

Joe was a mistake. I see that now. We only dated for a week, but a week in hell is an eternity. I was lonely. He was whatever he was. We spent most of our time in the Cocoa Nut. He just seemed so interesting. It was clear that there was some darkness about him, kind of like Donnie Darko. Maybe that was the attraction. I dressed kind of Goth back then. My black eyeliner was always with me. I wore black pants that were a little too big so the back of my panties could be seen by those curious enough to look. On top I would wear a tight black or white t-shirt with one of those fishnet type things that clung to my body like a parasite. Joe was really into metal. It seemed to be the only thing that he would get excited about. He assumed I liked metal too, but I was a Goth chick who liked Jewel. It happens.

I don’t think Joe was intentionally abusive. Nothing physical, but more of the constant distance he put between us. The neglect. I tried to cover it up by drinking. The vodka made me like him again. Instead of dark and weird, he became mysterious and rugged. I tried to love him. I really tried. I had to prove to myself I could love someone again. My last boyfriend cheated on me with a girl who would apparently do the things I wouldn’t in bed.

People say that when something bad is about to happen you can feel it, some sort of animal instinct. As I walked up the stairs, I prepared myself to see something unbearable. Tears started pouring down my face before I saw it. The door creaked, but that wasn’t enough for them to stop. I took out my key, turned and was greeted by the wonderful sight of my boyfriend fucking this blonde in the ass. The blonde was on all fours. They were facing the door, like they were waiting for me. She looked up first, in painful pleasure. Her mouth was already open, but now for a different reason. The blonde was still moaning. My boyfriend was gripping her hips, thrusting with eyes closed. His neck was tense, veins protruding. I watched in a frozen silence. The blonde put her head down with a little smirk and let him continue to fuck her. He finally opened his eyes, but didn’t stop. Instead, he stared at me with his bright blue eyes, thrusting harder than before. The image of him looking at me while fucking another woman is burned into my brain.

I guess that’s why I wanted to love Joe. Maybe my boyfriend would be jealous or catch me fucking Joe. Rebounds are there for a reason. Joe and I never had sex though. I got too drunk and gave him a blowjob on the night before I broke up with him, but that was as far as we got. He made me stare up at him the entire time. Whenever I would close my eyes, his brow would furrow and he would whisper in a harsh tone, “Look at me.” He stared into my eyes, rarely blinking. I’m not sure if Joe enjoyed getting off as much as he did looking into my eyes. It was too intense. Why the hell did I agree to meet him? What could he possible have to show me?

-Part 3-

When I emerged Tracy was sitting across from my empty seat. She looked as good as ever. Her long black hair complimented her green eyes perfectly. Red would have been ideal, but those are reserved for albinos. Though her skin was as pale as paper, her lips were thick and sumptuous. The last time I had seen her, my cock was in her mouth. Her teeth were far from perfect, but still quite white. She used to be Goth. That’s what made me think she might be into metal. Turns out she’s more hippie than gothic, just like I’m more drunk than sober.

I walked towards her with a fire-like passion in my eyes. She stood up as if to shake my hand. Instead of taking her hand, I took her body and held it to me. She resisted at first, but only at first. Saying nothing, I let her stare at my fantastically alluring Bowie eyes. Her coldness towards me melted, her bedroom eyes emerged.

“Let’s get out of here. I want you right now.”

“Ok,” I replied.

Of course that’s what would’ve happened if I had watched where I was going. I tripped on a displaced ottoman, sitting right in the aisle. Who the shit put it there? My hands were slow on their response to brace my body as I fell so my chest took the brunt of the fall, knocking the wind out of me. Tracy ran to my side with a hint of a smile on her lips, concern in her eyes.

“You klutz! What were you in such a hurry for?”

I lost my balls with the fall.

“Oh nothing. Just zoned out I guess.”

Seeing that I was ok, Tracy helped me up and took her seat across from my still too hot coffee. It took me a few seconds, but I finally got situated in the chair and started an old habit. I met her eyes and stared. This would be the best way for her to see my new eyes. Conversation is so meaningless sometimes.

She did a slight double take upon realizing what was different. Her usual empathetic eyes changed to disgust. Tracy’s face elongated with her mouth agape, her head shaking in disbelief. My gaze remained stoic.

“What the fuck have you done Joseph?!” She was the only one who could get away with calling me that.

“Looks pretty awesome, huh?”

“No, Joseph. No. You look like a fucked up David Bowie. And not in a good way. Is that a contact?”

I finally broke my stare and looked down to my coffee instead. Shame started filling my blood.


“Jesus, Joe. I can’t look at your eyes when they’re like that. Let’s just pretend like they’re not there. But I’m leaving in fifteen minutes.”

“I thought you’d like it, Trace.”

“Let’s drop it.”


Silence filled our section of the Cocoa Nut for a minute or two. Each slowly taking sips of the searing beverages we held. Neither of us wanted to speak. This is not how things were supposed to go. We needed to talk about something. I could only come up with my accident.

“So I got in a car accident a while ago.”

Tracy looked up at my normal eye. A slight feeling had returned to her.

“Yeah, I was just sitting in my car, parked on 57th and Lincoln. This truck just rammed me and I got pretty beat up. I was in the hospital for a while, then a psych ward.” I shouldn’t have said that last part.

“A psych ward? Why?” The empathy was still there, but blended with a suspicious character.


“Joe. What were you doing on 57th? Isn’t that where… Oh Joe…”

Tracy had known my other ex as long as I had. She knew our history. She (apparently) remembered where she lived. Tracy’s lovely sympathetic eyes were gone. Now she was clearly ashamed to be sitting with me. Ashamed to know me. I came clean and told her the entire story. Why I was there, what I was going to do, how I faked out the cops, everything. I kind of hoped that the cop thing would make her like me again. But with each word brought out sides of her I’d never seen; hate, malice, loathing. The skin between her perfectly formed eyebrows creased and became ugly. When I finished, I sat back in my chair, my piercing gaze resumed. This time she stared right back. After a minute of hating each other, she slowly reached for her coffee. Tracy looked down in it as though she was looking for answers. She jerked her head to me and stood up.

“Fuck you, Joe.” A tear leaked out.

Before I could respond, her coffee was airborne, scalding my face and eyes. I screamed like a banshee on steroids as Tracy turned and fled the scene. My hands held to my melted skin, I saw her between my fingers. I tried to stand and run after her, but I tripped on the glass coffee table that lay between us and crashed through it. Glass pierced my hands as I braced myself. I felt dead, but in pain. I was a Frankenstein monster.

I must have passed out from the pain. When I reopened my eyes everything was blurry, but I knew where I was. The color of the hospital walls was unmistakable. There were many blue-ish/black blurs surrounding me. Tracy called the cops. I couldn’t make out their faces, but I’m sure the looks they gave me amounted to absolute detestation. The doctors patched me up pretty good, assuring me that my wounds would heal and my eye sight would return in time, just like Han Solo coming out of carbon freezing. When my recovery was coming to a close, the police read me my rights and explained what was going to happen. First I would be tried, but the District Attorney had been working on my case while I was at the hospital and wanted to get me moved to the psychiatric ward of the prison.

“Sounds like a plan,” I said.

Sure enough, I was found guilty of attempted murder and sent to our city’s version of Arkham Asylum. I’m still there. It’s not bad though. Like the psych ward at the hospital they have a movie playing in each of our rooms, 24/7. There’s no main room here, we stay in our padded cells. The movie in my room is Papillon, the Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman story of two guys trying to escape a prison. There’s more to it than that, obviously, but I didn’t care. All I watched on that tiny screen were McQueen’s eyes. He had fantastic blue eyes, didn’t he? Those eyes could melt the ice caps quicker than Global Warming. They could pierce ten layers of Kevlar. My Bowie eye contacts were destroyed by the coffee incident, but I wonder if I could get some nice McQueen eyes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

After a long couple of weeks

It's been a very busy and stressful couple of weeks. I slapped some bass in a musical and rehearsals and performances took up my 90% of my time. The rest was due to obligations of pure exhaustion. I've been working on a short story in my free time lately, but it isn't ready for the public's eye. Here is a promptly I did this morning, my first day of nothing in a long time.

Write a scene about someone at war—on a battlefield in an actual war, at home, in a boardroom, in a relationship.


I should have died twenty-two times today. Twenty-two of my compatriots have fallen around me. Their blood stains the ground we charged on. We lost the battle, and they lost their lives. I counted each of their bodies collapsing like a puppet whose strings have been cut. One second we’re charging together and the next they’re gone. But the gap closes quickly and a new ally would join me. None of them looked at me until their lifeless eyes stared up from the ground. The chaplain would help them blink once more.

I wasn’t glad when they died. But as they fell I became more thankful that it was them instead of me. It didn’t make any sense. We were all charging blindly, into a cloud of smoke that sat inches above the ground. It was like the lottery, but my number was never called. In this game, it paid to be unlucky.

The trenches felt like mass graves waiting to be filled. We had literally dug our own graves. It was hard not to cry, to scream, to collapse in agony. I wanted to. As each of the twenty-two fell, I wanted to mourn for them. The news of their death would not travel home for months. Their families would receive crisp, formal letters devoid of emotion. Someone should have cried for them while their souls still resided on the battlefield. Some human emotion should have been shown on that primal, animalistic plain. But I couldn’t.

I wonder how many more men will die instead of me tomorrow. The tally increases daily. But I only keep track of the day by day. Surviving today is all that matters. Twenty-two today. Maybe I’ll be part of someone’s twenty-two tomorrow.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Han Solo is in my grasp!

In front of your car, the dump truck stops. Your heart nearly does, too, when you see what's poking out of the back of it.

We are completely stopped. I release my fists and sink into my seat. My heart was racing with the adrenaline of a bloodthirsty Mongol for a minute. Now the body attempts to return to normal. It takes a while. I chalk it up to the family blood pressure problem, which may or may not have something to do with our quick tempers.

The green corn fields around me are at hip height. I try to think about how much they’ve grown since last week, but I really don’t care. My focus returns to the dump truck in front of me. Out of nowhere this jackhole just stopped in front of me. I can’t see a thing beyond this bulky tank of a questionable stench. What the hell is going on? My frustrated fist finds the steering wheel, discharging a small honk.

The garbage is overflowing. Bags upon bags of refuse just wait to be opened, a raccoon’s wet dream. I hope they all stay in the truck and off my car. There is a healthy mix of white and black bags, a couple of vacuum cleaners, random pieces of wood, and a life-size replica of Han Solo encased in carbonite. My eyes widen, my posture becomes upright and attentive, my hands start to sweat, my heart explodes from my chest. Han Solo’s frozen hands are held up to me, his mouth slightly open. The off silver and pewter of the casing looks identical to the one used in Jabba’s palace. Not so much Cloud City, it was much more metallic and fresh there. But oh my sweet baby Jesus! I must have it, no matter how bad it smells or whose cat peed on it.

I unbuckle my seat belt and slowly let it pass through my hand. Traffic doesn’t show any signs of moving. The cars are lined up as far as my mirrors can see. I put the car in park and steadily open the door. I try to stay focused, blocking out the curious faces behind me. Crouching and keeping one hand on my car for balance, I slowly sneak towards the imprisoned Captain Solo. A few horns go off behind me, but they are merely the John Williams orchestration of my own Star Wars adventure. Play on my friends, play on.

It stinks worse than I imagined. I try to breathe through my jacket sleeve, but I need both hands. I grab the rectangle replica on opposite sides and pull. It won’t budge. Wiggling it does nothing, but I keep trying anyways. I am so focused that I don’t even hear the sound of air brakes being released. More sound effects to me. The dump truck backs up suddenly before jerking forward. Those tiny movements send me backwards into my car. My hood makes the horrible sound of caving plastic as I slowly lose consciousness. I’ve let Han Solo down. Looks like it’s up to Lando and Chewie.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Newest Prompt-o-matic

His father said it once when he was a kid, and it had such an impact on him that it became his mantra, his catchphrase, his go-to quote. For better or worse. Write a scene in which he uses it today.

“Come on.”

Disappointed pause.

“Get it right.”

Ethan is well known for saying those lines with the same pause between them. Every time a project is just slightly underdeveloped or a detail missed, his phrase emerges. We have never brought it up to him. We kind of assume he knows.

Ethan Kath is the managing director of Mock Your Sins, the online guide to mockery and hilarity. When the site was in it’s contemplative stages, we discovered that we all wear moccasins, thus the name. His signature line is the only constant in the MYS environment. It hurts a little more each time he says it. I think it’s because we’ve known each other so long and his disappointment has grown proportionally.

It had been two weeks since his last uttering and work was going fine. My stories and essays each passed his desk with nods of approval. Life was good. The site even seemed to be getting more hits than usual.

Then, of course, shit hit the fan. Ethan walked in this morning ten minutes late. It wasn’t necessarily weird, but it sure wasn’t normal. The Beatles on his tie stared at us in their post-1967 way, the same as the day before. His bedhead was definitely not intentional, as opposed to his usual Joaquin Phoenix style. He was usually the epitome of trendy professionalism, aside from the moccasins. We were all taking our first of many coffee breaks, standing around the ole water cooler. Silence took our work-related gossip by the throat.

“What’s up Ethan?” my bravest coworker asked after half a minute of silence.

Ethan dropped his briefcase. His gaze left the floor to scan each of our faces.

“I called all of you last night.”

We dared not check our phones. We knew we ignored his calls. There was no point faking it.

“The biggest story of our generation and you guys can’t answer your damn phones?” He didn’t sound angry, just exhausted.

“I’ve been up all night trying to get a hold of you all. I needed help.”

We all wanted to ask what had happened. Each of us had a work iPhone and were notorious for searching the web at inappropriate times. How did we miss it?

“You have all let me down.”

I knew it was coming and braced myself for the signature Phrase of Ethan.

“Come on.”

Ethan picked up his briefcase. The disappointed pause was longer this time.

But he didn’t finish it. He just turned and left.

I never thought that not hearing that line would be worse than actually hearing it. Guilt ran through me. It hurt. It still hurts.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Friday's Promptly Post

Been having a lot of trouble concentrating. Usually I can think of a story to go with a prompt within 15 minutes. Lately it's been taking days. I think I need to keep the music side and writing side of my brain separate for a while. Here's Friday's prompt, which also happens to be the first line of the piece.

The sign said "No shirt, no shoes, no service"—but that didn't matter. He had to get inside.

The sign said, “No shirt, no shoes, no service”-but that didn’t stop him. He had to get inside. He looked like a rabid wolverine, yet harmless. The bags that were strapped to his feet, once used to house Wonder bread, were now his shoes. His shirt, a paper bag with arm and head holes, like we used to do when we were kids. I envied his beard a little, unkempt and free. The blue in his eyes was as piercing as McQueen’s, maybe more so considering the circumstances. My heart went out to him as he walked into the café.

“Come on Joe. You know you can’t come in here. We’ve been over this,” an agitated barista yelled.

The other patrons turned, glared for a moment, then ignored him. Joe just stood there, his fingers twitching with some sort of anticipation. His eyes were as wide as a meerkat’s.

“Get out of here Joe!” The agitation escalated to anger. But the barista’s words bounced off him. Like a prayer that has been memorized and recited too many times, they meant nothing. I decided this man needed help, and for some reason I was the one to give it to him. The barista was moving around the counter when I grabbed his arm and said, “He’s got shoes, and a shirt.”

His angry eyebrows moved to me.

“I’m a psychiatrist,” I lied. “Let me buy this man a scone and tea. I’m sure he’ll leave you alone.”

My eyes said please, but his didn’t care.

“Ok pal, but if he starts wigging out I’ll make sure the cops get you too.”

“Fair enough.”

The barista went to his register, eyeing my new friend and I. I walked slowly to Joe, looked him in his amazingly blue eyes and said, “Care to join me?” He nodded.

His scone and tea arrived. I figured tea would be better for him than coffee. Joe stood at my table while I sat, eyes darting back and forth.

“Take a seat,” I invited. And he did.

“So your name is Joe?”

He wet his lips and slowly opened his mouth, closed it, then tried again.

“No. That’s just what people call me.”

He took a tiny bite of his scone, wiped his beard of crumbs, and folded the napkin.

“Well, what do you go by?”


“Of Nazareth?” I said half-jokingly.

He smirked slightly. “Not this time.”

Jesus took another tiny bite of his scone. He sniffed the tea and sipped it. I stared, almost inspecting him. He did kind of look like the Aryan portraits of Jesus that hang in white people’s homes across America.

Suddenly he stood up. He took the scone, set it on top of the teacup and reached his hand to me.

“Peace be with you.”

Mouth open, I let him shake mine.

“Where can I find you?”

“Letters work. Just send it to Jesus, in care of the Pentagon.”

Jesus walked out of the café and I sat there, thinking.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Yesterday's Prompt...TODAY

This was my third attempt at this one, still didn't jive as it should have. Just to clarify, these are supposed to be in 500 words or less, so that's why they're so short. Hooray!

You realize the boat is sinking, but that’s not the worst thing that could happen. That happened last night.

Most men fear whiskey dick like it’s the Grim Reaper himself. Death can come and go as it pleases as long as everything works down below. Viagra users are the modern day male lepers. If discovered, they are cast out and dismissed. But I don’t have that problem. That’s a lie. It’s happened a few times, but that’s normal despite what they say. But what happened last night is much worse than the dreaded whiskey dick. To make matters slightly worse, the cruise ship is now sinking.

A cruise is not my idea of a good time. My family decided it would be a great idea for me to take time off and go on a long, relaxing cruise. Too bad I get seasick and can’t even drink my beloved Irish whiskey without passing out. The pills and alcohol make for a wild five to ten minutes before losing consciousness. I had just been laid off and my girlfriend dumped my jobless ass. The cruise was supposed to take my mind off everything and allow me to come back renewed, like a vampire after a good day’s rest.

My friends urged me to get laid, but cruises are unsurprisingly filled with couples. And not just any couples, incredibly attractive couples straight out of Playboy/Playgirl. I could only imagine the amount of sex that was happening without me. What a terribly depressing cruise. No booze and no sex.

After a week I accepted that maybe odious amounts of alcohol would cure my seasickness. It sort of worked. Instead of seasickness, it was just booze-sickness. The cruise bartender and I became quite close, but I can’t recall his name. During my last overnight drunk, I found a beautiful woman who did not appear to have an escort. She stood alone. I put on my charming face, grabbed two mojitos from my nameless friend, and attempted walking towards her. Five whiskeys go a long way.

She had an average build, straight and long brown hair, and dressed like a hippie. Her tank top had a pot leaf on it and her skirt a faded brown. She also sported some rad looking moccasins.

“You know I’m 1/64 Native American?”

She barely looked at me. The booze made me continue.

“Yeah, I’m part Ojibwa. Hunter/gatherers. No big deal.”


“So I have a mojito for you,” I said pronouncing the hard J.

“Listen,” she said, “I’ll give you half an hour. If you impress me, we’ll see.” Her expression was incredibly stoic.

I took a swig of the mojito in my right hand. It tasted delicious. It was so delicious that I threw up all over her pro-pot top.

My bartender carried me to my room, away from my screaming hippie. I puked the down the entire hallway, leaving a trail.

It is now the next day and I have awakened to the sound of an alarm. The ship is f-ing sinking. Why couldn’t I just get whiskey dick. Worst cruise ever.

Last Wednesday's Prompt

You're downtown, and see graffiti in an unlikely place—graffiti like you've never seen before, concerning someone you know.

I decided to walk home, as I usually do on those days that aren’t quite rainy, but are far from sunny. The air felt so fresh on my skin. My car stayed at work. It didn’t seem to mind. The slight breeze made me thankful for my olive corduroy sports jacket. It always protected me from cold and visible pit-stains.

The usual graffiti was on display: a lot of bubble letters that were impossible to decipher, but lovely to look at. I walked at a leisurely pace, smiling whilst looking them over. I thought to myself,” Thank God for graffiti. This warehouse would be so ugly without it.” I ventured on. As I passed the police station, I saw it. My smile erased from my face like an etch-a-sketch.

“When the hell did this get here?” I thought. “I walk this path almost every week, yet this mural looks so old and aged.”

It was my girlfriend’s face with the words “Mi Amor,” etched in beautiful blue and white letters. The graffiti had her eyebrows, nose, smile, even her eyes. It had to be her. Was she cheating on me with some talented Hispanic dude? My hand turned inwards as all my digits got well acquainted. I prepared to punch the wall but thought better of it. Looking into the wall version of her eyes I said, “How do you accuse someone of cheating based on graffiti?” It seemed so nonsensical, but I sure as hell didn’t paint that.

Finally, I went inside the police station to report the graffiti. It was pretty dead, only one frumpy looking officer on dispatch. I wondered if he had misbehaved, but my mind quickly jumped back to the task at hand.

“There’s graffiti on the police station wall,” I said.

“Oh yeah. It’s been up there a few days now. Pretty nice, huh?”

“But it’s illegal…isn’t it?”

“Well, yes and no,” he breathed at me. His eyes told me that I was bothering him during his solitaire time. I turned from Officer McFrumpy and had a sudden burst of artistic inspiration. I would cover it up! The police clearly didn’t care if there was paint on their building. The hardware store had what I needed. I briefly considered getting primer, but an employee talked me out of it. I returned and peeled the lid off the can. It nearly flew out of my hands as I hurled the paint at the wall. Success! The only visible letters were “i or.” I felt good with myself as I started to walk home. I was tapped on the shoulder two steps later.

“That’s defacement of public property son,” McFrumpy said rather frumpily.

“But there was already paint there, I merely added to it.”

“Nice try pal, I’m taking you in.”

Five hundred bucks and a night in jail later and I still don’t know if she’s cheating on me. She dumped me when she heard what I did. What a waste of a phone call…and a gallon of paint.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Post-Apocalyptic Promptness

Turned out rather Vonnegut-ish, but here's the prompt:

Take two of your favorite songs, and match up a line from the chorus of one with a line from the chorus of the other. Then, write a scene that starts with the first lyric, and ends with the second.

They say, “Jump!” So I jump. I try not to be a follower, but demands usually get the best of me. I would have been a terrible terrorist negotiator. We stand in line, waiting patiently for our turn. It has been three days since the distribution of our rations. Even that fattest of us have turned to skeletons. So it goes.

They treat us like circus animals. We could care less. They control our sustenance, our means of survival. When they tell us to jump we were originally supposed to yell back “How high?” Then they realized that shouting would require giving us more water to restore our throats. They needed to keep us alive, and we wanted to live, for whatever reason.

They say, “Jump!” So we jump. The food could be worse. The water couldn’t. We are all very thankful that Soylent Green is not distributed and that Soylent Green is not people. Our caretakers are not apes either. Heston was way off. My commune and I live in a small village that contains the means to work and sleep, but not to eat. That’s how they engineered it. We wander back to the towering metropolis whenever they tell us to, which is really when too many of us start dying of hunger and exhaustion. So it goes.

Humans enslaving humans. That is the way of life, always has been. Contrary to popular belief the Jews and Blacks have not been the only victims of slavery. It’s been happening to everyone for as long as one guy has had bigger biceps then his neighbor. It happens. It just so happens that my fellow humans and I are weaker than our caretakers. For some reason, being enslaved makes me think of that old Seinfeld joke about how aliens see us picking up our dog’s poop and think that the dogs are in control. I wonder if we look like we’re in control.

I finally get my bowl of mush. Today’s flavor is despair. Just kidding, it has no flavor, just nutrients. Jokes keep me alive, even though I only joke in my head. Words have no use for us anymore. We understand them, but no longer speak them. It’s not allowed. Doesn’t bother me much, but I could use an audience.

The mush is demolished quickly and remnants stay in my beard for days. I think they might be good for facial hair too, keeping it nice and moist instead of dry and coarse. Overall, my life is not too different than when I wasn’t a slave. It’s all the same in the end. We live, we die. End of story. So we take our food and then we head back to our village. We wander for a while, without a purpose, out of nowhere.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Promptly Prompt

Prompt:Write a story about a couple on their first date—on the last day of something. (The last day of the year? The last day of a marriage? The last day of the world?)

“Beautiful night,” I said.

She gazed past me to the street lamps that illuminated the park. Parks at night have always enticed me, so I took Melinda to Lincoln Park for our first date. Melinda looked happy enough, not distraught by any means, but content. Her ear length black hair had those weird little spikes and swoops that are usually reserved for women over forty. She made it look good. The moon reflected off her glasses as I stared into her eyes, despite her not looking into mine.

Melinda finally turned to me, clearly searching for the right words. Her thumb came to her mouth. She had a terrible habit of chewing her stumpy digit when something wasn’t right. I braced myself.

“Why did you wait till the day before I go home to ask me out?”

Her tone wasn’t angry, but felt exhausted. I could tell she was annoyed, but still glad to be with me. I didn’t have an answer for her. Melinda was British and had apparently worn out her welcome in the good ‘ole U.S. of A. We had been friends for months while I built up the courage to ask her out, beautifully seductive accent and all. It was probably one of those things where you sabotage your own happiness.

“I’m sorry. My timing is terrible. But I’m happy you’re here.”

“I am too, but why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Her accent was so charming.

“Fear, I suppose. Fear of rejection from a gorgeous woman.”

That made her pale cheeks blush a bright red, like a mime. Melinda took my hand gently. She held it close to her heart. I briefly thought about the proximity to her boob, but then felt her heart beat.

“Jonathan,” she started, “You’ve always been wonderfully kind to me. And you’re far better looking than you think. We could have been great together.”

The words “could have” told me what she really meant. I was too late and this would be as close as we would ever be. My chance was blown. The water in my eyes begged for release, but I said no. I wanted to get down on my knees and beg her to stay, but that would be useless. The only way was for her to be married to a citizen and I was too much of a coward for that kind of gesture.

“Let’s just finish this evening. No more talk of what tomorrow brings. We’ll pretend we’re a perfect couple, finishing a perfect date,” Melinda said with a tearful smile. I loved her smile. I loved her.

From there we walked hand in hand to my apartment. She undressed and put my boxers and a dress shirt on. I told myself to kiss her, but for some reason I just watched. We pretended we were a real couple. We were beyond sex. So we cuddled close to each other till the morning. Melinda went home and I let her go. I was a coward.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Football Inspired Nonsense

Football Career Extraordinaire (Or Not)

Final seconds of the fourth quarter of the biggest game of my life and I feel fantastic. Nothing can get by me for I am a rock, not an island. I feel no pain, only the thrill of evading and inflicting it on others. I am the best linebacker that this college has ever seen. I may only stand six feet one and a half inches tall, but the killer instinct that lay dormant within me for the first fourteen years of my life has made me a beast. 240 pounds of powerful biceps, shoulders, forearms, calves, hamstrings, and pectorals, sculpted by my unscrupulous dedication to the game. I put Brian Urlacher to shame. The field is my cathedral, my mosque, my temple. All we have to do is stop the offense of our rivals. They have been using the wildcat offense constantly, throwing my teammates off. But not me. I’m having the game of my life because I see the play happen before it starts. Those desperate fools are going for it on fourth down on their thirty-five yard line. I smell a wildcat and indicate such to my guys. The quarter back has taken a thrashing from me today, but he is still in, taking the snap. What? Not what I expected. Did he just grin a little bit? I head towards the cocky bastard with a burst of speed and power. The quarterback sees me coming and launches the ball towards the end zone. The whistle is blown before I reach him. That damn cornerback! Cover your man! Touchdown, game over. I look down at the grass, fists clenched, heavy and angry breathing heaving from my mouth. They run to the end zone to lift up the receiver who made the winning grab, the quarterback following with one finger pointed to his God. Something snaps within me. My caveman instincts are taking over. I’m Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk. I sprint at the QB, my teammates getting out of my way. His back to me, I sack him with every ounce of strength in me. It feels fantastic. Needless to say, I am ejected, fined, and am banned from collegiate football.

Of course, this never happened. I’ve never played a real game of football in my life. But I do find it interesting that in my wildest fantasy I still never make it to the NFL. I would have been amazing though. Even my cynical older brother agrees with me. However, I was not allowed to play football by my parents. It was my desire to lose weight and get big and strong when I was in 8th grade. High school football would be my ticket to fitness and subsequent popularity. When I was fourteen, I weighed over 200 pounds and was less than six foot. A rolly polly kid. My parents deny that I ever asked to play, but this is just a clever cover-up of their memory trying to protect themselves. Regardless, I did get fit on my own accord. I worked out with the football team in the off-season of my sophomore year and became quite the athlete…in gym class anyways. My class was filled with all the real jocks though, and I help my own in everything from running the mile to badminton. Nearly ten years later and I am close to the dimensions I described my linebacker self to be. Just add a lot more fat and a little less muscle and pounds. I still have the urge to join some sort of amateur football league, but I know those places are full of guys who weren’t good enough for college, but were still stars in their own right. It’s not for guys who have only played pick-up games and have never run an actual play. My understanding and love of football is above average, but I have zero confidence that I would be able to make it.

I think I will always hold a grudge against my parents for not letting me play football. My life could be profoundly different, or could not. But not knowing is a little painful in and of itself. When I have children I will encourage, but not force them to play. I need to give them the opportunity I never had. I would have been amazing though. But whether it would have been from injury, lack of talent, or from gross misconduct (such as sacking a QB when the play is long over,) I wouldn’t have made it to the NFL. So it goes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Taco Contest Pt 2 (read 1 first please)

The evening has come and gone, along with the subsequent indigestion. Here is the play-by-play description of my attempt at greatness.


The day of the taco and already I am starting to have my doubts. Last night’s delicious meal has not agreed with my system. Some gut wrenching pain and unmentionable bathroom experiences have caused me to put my faith in a fantastic little pink bottle. I got through the workday unscathed, but my stomach doesn’t feel as good as it should. At least not if I’m to stow away an unhealthy amount of tacos. For this kind of endeavor, I should be one hundred percent, not seventy-two. However, I press on, not wanting to deprive myself of the opportunity to fail.

My girlfriend and I are on the 10-15 minute drive it takes to reach ground zero. I have decided that I need some music to pump me up. If we were in my car, it undoubtedly would have been “The Final Countdown” by Europe. My ’97 Ford Taurus only plays cassettes, thus I am a huge 80s hair metal fan. But as fate would have it, we take the CD capable auto. Eminem will accompany me on my journey with his newest album, Recovery. It kind of works.

Round One-

The bar is nearly vacant and none of our favorite barkeeps are present. I tell the bald, mustachioed bartender “I’m here to eat more tacos than that guy.” I point emphatically to the picture of the current champion behind me for a semi-dramatic effect. He looks less than enthused, says he’ll give us a few minutes to think about our orders. Did he not hear what I just said? So far this is so anti-climactic that I again start to reconsider, but I press on. After I inquire if I get the tacos free if I win, Baldy looks down at his apron and begrudgingly says, “If you can eat more than 12 tacos, it’ll be on me.” This guy is not happy about this and extremely doubtful. I push this thought from my head as I start off with a bang, four soft-shelled beef tacos. Minutes pass by and my tacos arrive, or should I say, MEGA Tacos! These tortillas are barely holding. Like a German U-Boat going way past its appropriate depth, the tacos are ready to burst. With a mischievous smile, Baldy states that the only rule is that I have to eat everything. I look over at my girlfriend’s tacos, hard-shelled fish. There is hardly any garnishing on hers. Something is fishy here, and it isn’t her fish tacos. Being the potential champion that I am, I dig in. It takes three to four bites to expose any beef, resulting in mouthfuls of lettuce, tomato, chopped onions, and a ton of tiny jalapeno peppers. My stomach is strong, but not when it comes to spices, especially jalapenos. This is sabotage. I’ve never had a taco with this much crap on it. There are already rumblings in my tumbly. I inspect the fish tacos again and notice that there are no such evil extras. I have a plan for round two. Fish tacos in a hard shell, as it is much harder to stuff something that is liable to break. I finish the first four and order three hard-shelled fish tacos.

Round Two-

There is definitely sabotage in the first degree going on. It has been nearly fifteen minutes since my order of round two and they have yet to arrive. The food is settling, not a good thing. Attempting to catch Baldy in the act of rigging my tacos to blow, I lean over the table to look in the kitchen. No foul deeds to be seen, but I’m still rather wary.

Finally the tacos arrive and there seems to be even more lettuce and tomato. The jalapenos and onions have made a welcome exit, but the remaining L and T are spread over and in all three tacos, creating a salad-like look. Luckily everything is fresh and goes down relatively easy. However, my stomach is starting to get rather full and also still aches from those jalapenos. Seven tacos down and I must press on.

Round Three-

Again, I have a plan to power through. I will now order two tacos at a time to reduce the amount of vegetation that gets between the real taco and me. The intake of water is also helping at this point. These tacos arrive in a timely manner and I ravage the eighth taco with minimal resistance. The garden growing on my salad is starting to activate my gag reflex. I slowly eat the ninth taco and decide that I need a break. The very thought of more lettuce is starting make me cringe. I am really regretting that first, unrequested break between rounds one and two.


Through some fairly simple calculations, I have discovered that I am actually tied with the current champion. According to a very reliable source, the tacos used in the champs winning bout were only 6-inches, as opposed to my eight. In order to simply tie his record, I would have to eat twenty-four more inches of taco than he. I think of more lettuce and tomato and nearly lose it. I am kind of pissed off.

Failure/Tie Game/Epilogue

After some careful deliberation and conferring with my supportive girlfriend, I have decided that I would not like to die tonight. I feel terrible. My stomach refuses to settle and make room. Even thinking of ordering another taco makes me want to vomit all over Baldy’s baldhead and/or apron. Am I a little defeated? Yes, but this inch factor is too much let go. There is no fairness or regulation is this quest. So, I start off this year by losing, but I still kind of win. To me, I created the new record for 8-inch tacos. And I fought valiantly. Time to go home, lie in bed and fall into a food coma.


So maybe my year of 23 will not be a year for raging success, but it will be one of actually trying to do things. No more standing off the sides and watching others try to be great. I will try to be great even it does end in the occasional failure. It was an interesting experience that I will definitely partake in again soon. (It should be noted that two days after the evening of too many tacos, I had the urge to demolish four or five Taco Bell tacos. Nothing keeps me down.)

Taco Contest Pt 1

-Golden Birthday Taco Contest-

(This year is going to be different.)

Here we are on the eve of my golden birthday and I’m making that age-old promise that this year will be different. But this time I mean it. After the disparaging nature of last year, I need some change. My previous birthday had been one of hope and anticipation of greatness. 365 days have smashed that young man and spawned the humble, unpublished writer before you.

I’m doing my best Jonathan Ames, drinking white wine in a David Bowie glass that I coincidentally received as a gift last birthing day. I ventured out this evening in a light gray/tan sports jacket recently purchased from St. Vinnie’s, khakis, my olive green Rock and Roll Hall of Fame t-shirt, a tan cabbie/newsie hat, and my mandals. As per usual, I sport a slightly unkempt beard and moustache of a different color. Not unlike a horse of a different color from Wizard of Oz, my moustache is almost red, a strong contrast to my very brown hair. My glasses are black and distinguished. They aren’t as thick as Buddy Holly’s, but not as thin as John Lennon’s, two of my spectacled heroes. I had intended on sitting in my favorite bar and writing a similar piece, but there were too many cars and I don’t care for busy bars. Thus, I ventured to the local supermarket and bought some infinitely cheaper wine.

Last year I promised myself that I would be published by my next birthday. I did not achieve that goal. Although I did write two “Letters to the Editor” to the local paper that were promptly printed. I should have sent them in as articles, but lacked balls. It seemed that submitting them as Letters was a sure fire way of getting at least printed. I did waste quite a bit of time early on in my quest for publication, though. Since the realization of my writing dream I had submitted piece after piece for contests. I fooled myself into thinking that I would win and everything would be right from then on. There was one particular contest I was especially confident in: a fiction contest for Esquire. One of my favorite authors was an Esquire writer at one point, and I fancied myself the same way. When I reread my submission, it is quite weak and self-indulgent. I didn’t win. It was impractical to think that after one creative writing course that I would immediately work my way into the public eye, but I was a little too confident and love drunk with my own writing. So it goes.

Now, I’m doing to the work. Putting in the time. It took me many months to realize my mistakes, but I had to be in that place to get to this one. I take my criticism well and don’t waste time with pointless escapades that will only bring me further down. I feel like my moment is coming. I’ve read more books in the last three months that the last three years. These primarily Jewish writers are indirectly helping me find my voice. Now that I think of it, 75% of my favorite writers are Jewish and repeatedly mention it in their work. There is one who had a semi-similar upbringing as me, Catholic. But our tale is not uncommon: raised Catholic, rejects church, becomes agnostic. I wonder if I am secretly Jewish. This is also somewhat ironic, as their favorite authors were, for the most part, anti-Semitic in nature. Now, I was not aware of any of these writers faith when I first embarked into their respective catalogs, it is merely a coincidence. What would my strict Catholic parents think about this? Only Jehovah knows.

Anyway, my original thought was to sit in the once church, now bar and become intimately familiar with my surroundings. As my first act of change in my golden year, I have decided to, as I drunkenly put it last night, “Do things.” The first of which will be a taco eating contest at said bar. Apparently a contestant merely has to finish as many 8-inch tacos as he can in an evening, attempting to break the record. I have long been a fan of eating quickly and abundantly, but have been far too sheepish to enter any challenge. Not this year though. I’m going to live things and have either success or regret. It should be pretty easy for me as I can demolish three Taco Bell tacos in less than two minutes, still craving more. I am extremely excited for my attempt at greatness. However, even in failure this may have its journalistic benefits, as I will document all goings-on and hopefully market this piece into some sort of published work. This contest will set the tone for my year. It is Sunday night. My shot at the title comes Tuesday evening. More then.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I'm going to start by echoing's review by saying believe the hype. Inception was an extremely intense theatrical experience. This is by far Christopher Nolan's best work thus far. This movie is going to attract the non-Twilight crowd, the thinking movie goer. My mind had to be actively engaged the entire time. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll try and stay away from the actual story. As most people know, this story is about guys who go into dreams, but they are also go into dreams into dreams, making different levels. Essentially, there are four "stories" going on at any given moment for most the movie, and six characters to follow that are often seperated. It may not sound like a lot, but in the reality of the movie, that's a whole lot everything to follow. The editor of this movie deserves some massive awardage, especially to keep the level of intensity so high throughout. So much credit deserves to go the strong writing and direction of Nolan.

The fight scenes were amazing. At one point the gravity in one of the dreams shifts, causing the fight in the hallway to go Fred Astaire. The people are falling from wall to wall, floor to ceiling while continuing to kick the shit out of each other. Needless to say it is quite epic. Even the simplest car chase scene is awesome.

DiCaprio was quite good, as usual. I was very much surprised at the acting ability of former 3rd Rock child star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The last I saw of him he was attempting to be funny while hosting SNL a couple of months ago, he definitely was not. However, in this role, he did not need to be funny, he was simply a phenomenal fighter and co-star. Ken Watanabe is such a good egg as well. I also really enjoyed Cillian Murphy, performing beyond his Scarecrow and 21 Days Later characters. Nolan clearly has found some core actors to surround himself with and it is clearly working.

Go see this movie.

Contempt for UPS

I know I haven't blogged about UPS for a while, but this really grinds my gears:

For the last week or so our packages at the Wilderness have been delivered all over the place by UPS, surfacing days later in some obscure part of the resort. Our usual driver, Mark Honer, has been nowhere to be found. Now, the last time I saw Mark was going on vacation with his family about a month ago. Friday I finally asked the current driver where Mark was.

He slowly turned to me and stoically answered, " Mark was fired." This was the last thing I expected to hear. He continued on, telling me how a cyclist ran into the side of his truck the Friday he returned from vacation, the day before 4th of July weekend. No one was hurt and no damage was done to UPS property, yet when he got back that day the powers at be told him to clean out his locker. As I was, Mark is a card-toting teamster, so the union is trying to get his job back. The driver proceeded to tell me that UPS wanted to make an example of him, that if any UPS driver gets in accident with a cyclist/pedestrian it is automatically their fault and they will be terminated. So they have to go before a state panel to get his job back. Mark has been working for UPS for 22 years.

I've known Mark for the past 9 months or so. I first met him when I was still a preloader. I loaded his truck for almost a full month before I got moved again. During that time I also started at the Wilderness, so I would see those same packages and Mark later in the day as well. We got to know each other in this time and he had always treated me with respect and had a kind and open ear, even when I was a lowly preloader. When I heard this news I was thrown for your proverbial loop. It felt as though he had died, it was just that shocking. How does UPS decided to fire the one of the nicest drivers in the company when there are so many jackholes? To make an example of this man seems completely uncalled for. One accident, which I'm sure wasn't his fault, means a termination of a lifelong career.

I sincerely hope Mark gets his job back or goes to work at FedEx or something for an equal wage. I do think that if he keeps going through the right hoops that UPS has laid before him, the union will be able to get him his job. Thus, my contempt for UPS grows a little bit more.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Emotions of Futbol

In the close-minded world of United States sports, we seldom see any real emotions. Our culture is dead set on fighting unfair calls and overturning what has already happened. Even in the World Series or the Super Bowl, the victors are never really that insanely happy or saddened. Sure there are a few teary-eyed grown men, but I strongly suspect most of those tears are steroid related. Thus is the state of things.

Normally, I don’t care what emotions my athletic betters portray, but on the world’s stage, the FIFA World Cup, Americans are put to shame. Not because of our inability to play the game, but our lack of emotional response and national pride. After watching a nail-biter of a match betwixt Uruguay and South Korea, I see the errors of our ways. Korea tied the game late at 1-1, but Uruguay came in and scored another amazing goal. The desperate attempts of the Koreans to score in the last minute were valiant, to no avail. The game ended after three minutes of bonus time and nearly half of the Korean team collapsed to the ground. Not only from exhaustion, but more so embarrassment and failure. While Uruguay’s players were kissing the flags on their uniforms, the Koreans put their heads to the ground, clinging the blades of grass in their hands. It was truly sad.

Now, this could have something to do with representing one’s country, like the Olympics, but I believe it also a result of the nature of the sport. As Matt Damon said in Dogma, mass genocide is most exhausting activity one can take part in, next to soccer. There’s a strange truth in that statement. Ninety minutes of running, butting heads, slide tackling, pretending to be hurt, etc. That’s a lot of physical activity. It is only natural for emotions to take hold when you’ve poured so much of yourself into a game.

This leads me to my next point: singing of the national anthem (or lack thereof.) At our regular sporting events, there are very few spectators, let alone athletes who sing the Star Spangled Banner. I would venture that 90% of all World Cup competitors and fans proudly sang their respective anthems. It became more unusual to see someone not singing.

Athletes in America are taught to approach the paparazzi with composure and elegance. I say “shenanigans” to that. After a bone crunching game of American Football, they should be fired up and say things they’ll probably regret. But they probably get paid too much to show emotions like that. There are even bans on emotional responses to good plays and touchdowns. That’s crossing the line. Thank God that baseball managers still get thrown out of games for getting in shouting matching with the umpires defending their players (at least the good ones.) If it weren’t for those moments, I may lose all faith in American sport. Thank you FIFA for showing me how we should act after winning or losing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bromances are hard to come by

In a rather impulsive move, I bought the movie Reign Over Me For $6.99 this past weekend. It stars Adam Sandler and the always underappreciated Don Cheadle. Adam Sandler plays a guy whose family died in the second plane that went into the World Trade Center and Don Cheadle is his old college roommate trying to get him to come back to reality a few years after 9/11. I had no idea about the 9/11 thing when I bought it, but the emotions that Sandler displays literally put tears in my eyes. All in all a very quality flick and completely worth it.

However, one of the semi-minor plot points revolves around Don Cheadle's need for a male friend in his family dominated world. This is very striking to me, as I also love the movie I Love You Man. I literally have a handful of male friends that I consider very close, but are not necessarily close to me geographically. I wish to make it perfectly clear that I am ok with my number of close man-friends, but finding one in a new area is extremely difficult. I thought I had found one for a while, but he turned out to be a piece of shit. My other best male friend in Baraboo is 60. But it is completely true that is very hard for men to become friends outside of high school and/or college. It's just hard to find that "chemistry." This all sounds quite gay, but all men know of what I speak. I'm not sure why this is, but more men have this problem than you know. Now for whatever reason, this plot point makes the movie even more poignant for me.

All in all, good movie, and true emotions and situations. Boo-yah.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Predators and Crows

This has been bugging me for a few weeks now and I need to see if other people feel the same way. Next week Adrien Brody will star in another Predator movie, this time it's Predators. I will be the first to admit that I love the first Predator will AAAAAAHHHHNAALLLD, Carl Weathers, and Jesse The Body Ventura. However, I never watched any sequels and heard terrible things about all of them, especially Alien Vs. Predator. (Small confession: I have never seen all of any Alien movie.) Now, the new movie is coming out with the premise that elite humans/convicts/killers are placed on the Predator's home planet, "a game reserve" as Adrien Brody says in the trailer. Ok, Brody put on about 25 lbs of pure muscle for this role and he is no idiot, but I have issues with the plot we've been fed in trailer form. The main reason the first movie works for me is because it's one Predator vs. a group of commandos. He hunts several highly trained badasses by himself. One taking out many, awesome. Here, it seems as though it's another group of humans, not affiliated with each other in any way, are up against an entire planet of these superhuman dreadlock toting hunters. Not fair at all. If the humans end up winning and blowing up the planet or something, I will be extremely pissed. This movie should last about 2 minutes. I'll probably still see it, but I really have my doubts. There has to be one Predator damn it!

I'll stop with the movies for a second.

It's been hard to get new music with the loss of one of the greatest websites known to man, It's been over a month and I'm really feeling it. Every time I hear one song on the radio of a band I enjoy, or read a review of a new album, I yearn to venture to Lala and check the rest of it out for free. One listen to an entire album, makes iTunes look like a bunch of spoiled children who won't share their precious toys with the underprivileged kid next door. I truly am pissed with Apple for buying out Lala and not incorporating that simple premise to their money grubbing website. However, I did go and buy a Counting Crows album along with the Crazy Heart soundtrack.
The CD August and Everything After is supposedly their best and first successful album. It also contains a track which contains the lyric "between the buried and me," where one of my favorite bands of all time got it's name from. I figured if they were enough of an influence on BTBAM, they'd be worth a shot. Turns out I was right. I would have never dreamed of listening to this music even two years ago, but it has a place in my catalog now. Adam Duritz's vocal stylings occasionally start to all sound the same, but overall this is a good record to own.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Many Things to Report On...and then some

First and most recent in my mind is the viewing of the outstanding Toy Story 3. I believe I laughed harder at some of those bits than either of the previous movies. I could have done without the piercing sound of children's laughter in the theater, but a small price to pay. Some of my favorite moments are comprised of the tiniest details that most people probably don't care about. The first one that made me almost pee myself was the sight of Woody's flailing limbs when he was running in one the first scenes. It's possible that he flailed just as much in previous films, but I was cracking up each time. Similarly, each time Ken walks I can't not laugh. The attention to detail here is what makes it so funny. The stiff arms and legs are just to good. Not to mention, Michael Keaton was the voice of Ken, casting genius. And of course, the first time they show Chuckles' face I nearly died. Long and short of it, Toy Story 3 stays true to everything that came before and surpasses all expectations for a trilogy. Let's just hope they put this one to rest, unlike the Shrek franchise.

Next, A-Team. Another awesome flick. There was a great balance of comedy, action, and drama. The love interest of Jessica Biel is thankfully almost non-existence and unnecessary to the plot of the movie. Murdoc was absolutely hilarious. His dialogue was written very tastefully when it could have been like a bad steak, completely over done and without sauce. I wasn't sure how much I would like Liam Neeson (read: Qui Gon Jin or Rob Roy) as Hannibal, but he also surprised me. Overall the cast is superb, with only a few terrible lines thrown in. So good.

Alright alright, last movie of the week: Grown Ups. Another hit. This one is also made by the cast, of who I'm pretty sure was originally supposed to be Chris Farley instead of Kevin James. I'm not complaining, I love me some KJ, but with nearly 100% of the cast being from SNL, one has to ponder a little. Regardless, Chris Rock is subdued and not his loud, shrill self. Rob Schneider plays his usual weirdo. David Spade was quite good, washing away his Joe Dirtness. Kevin James was very good and had a fantastic beard. Sandler is discovering he doesn't need to be doing Billy Madison/Waterboy/Happy Gilmore voices to be funny and effective as an actor. This is the first film I've watched him in since Funny People and he continues going up in my eyes. The movie largely reacts to the video game/spoiled culture that kids are growing up with these days, and it's about damn time. And for the record, when I was a kid if I saw a rope and a lake, I would have indeed gone nuts.

I bought the Crazy Heart soundtrack a few weeks ago as well. It is pretty cool to hear the actors singing these songs as though they'd be performing them for years. On a larger scale, that movie and the soundtrack are making me realize that country/folk music is the only type of music that you can travel to 90% of the bars around the country and people will love you. Country will never die, and I'm slowly beginning to understand why. This realization first creeped into my mind last summer when I played in a pseudo-successful Irish band. We must have played in about two dozen bars and a few festivals in there (including Summerfest) and people loved us wherever we went, and it wasn't just because we were good, because some of us really weren't. It was because we were playing accessible music that spans over generations. There's a lot to be said for this phenomenon, but I will reflect and write more on this at a later date.

I know I had a lot more to touch on since my last post, but with spotty internet it's been hard to get a good post up. More to come though.