Monday, December 31, 2007

Psyck!

As I draw closer to the end of the year 2007, I have no choice but to reflect... after all, I am sick in bed with what may be pneumonia, maybe not (what I know is I've had this since December 19, which is obviously too long)...

I am alone in my apartment until New Year's Day. My roommate is with her boyfriend until then, then threatens to come back and spend some quality time with me. Sigh... I have to explain this, as I may have referred to her intimately in the past. She is my ex-girlfriend of four years, the longest relationship I've had among the few that I've actually had. That's not to say I feel sorry for myself, because I have no reason to be ashamed, especially considering whom I've been with; all beautiful and desirable, but ultimately none could I offer all of what they needed. That's not hard to admit at all, actually. I am what I am, and I mean it.

That's not to say I don't get bored, or lonely. I do love someone, but she's neither here, nor am I there. I was in love with someone else for quite a while, or so I thought I was. I once gave her a knife for her birthday, with a note:
I give you this knife as I give you my life, do as you will, to protect or to kill. I am at your mercy. Melodramatic, yes. And for naught, or maybe for better. As it is, I am far better off now than I was then. Except for being sick, of course...

You see, I gave my life away to others who did not know what to do with it. It was not their responsibility, nor do I think they really wanted it. I took it back and things changed. I embarked on a fast track with my stalled film career (with a failed pit-stop at the end of summer), finding and continuing to find work as a production assistant. I also began saving money at a decent clip. And though my dreams of attaining a grad degree crashed and burned earlier this year because of denied financial aid, I have carried on my dream of one day owning my own business, and carrying my childhood endeavors further towards reality with this,
Serious Consideration!

I do owe some of this rejuvenation to my friends, including the ones we read here; especially
Macedonia for naming the blog (there's a story behind the name, of course), Call Me Ishmael for being an outstanding trouper and contributor, and Aqua Boogie for the love and support she's given me spiritually (including sending me a copy of The Secret on DVD!) And as usual, my family has been my rock, no matter how spread out we are.

Speaking of family, my sister and I spoke recently and I asked her some questions about acquiring a passport. I had a concern; my birth certificate has a different name than my Social Security Card. Not only that, but my father's name on my birth certificate is not real. It's actually a combination of my father and stepfather's names, with my stepfather being the prominent one! I had always been confused about that, but decided not to ask questions. Knowing my parents' history together, I'm certain Mom had her reasons. "Mom was kinda ticked off at him," my sister said, "in fact, she was always kinda ticked off at him. Even when you were born." I wouldn't have been born if he didn't try to change himself, in fact. Nevertheless, he and I have different names because he didn't change. Still, that could easily be explained to the passport people; I simply changed my name when I was a child and it says so on my Social Security card. Life can change that way, too, if you grab the pen and start writing your own story.

So here I am, doing what? Writing my story. Oh, there will be time for songs, sad songs about love and life, sad movies and such. I'm a sucker for both. I have no issue with crying my eyes out because of some tune or a scene in a movie. Because when I see stuff in real life, I don't cry.

Not anymore.

Real life has taken something important away from me, I guess, and I'm a lot tougher than I want to be. So I watch movies, read books, listen to music to touch base with that room where my emotions have been locked away, the key lost somewhere in the recesses of my psyche.

Am I crazy?

Would I really be crazy if I knew I was?

All I know is that it's the last day of the year, a year spinning with changes in my life, and I am alone and sick in bed. Trying, trying very hard to tell myself that I'm tough, and I'm loved. Trying hard not to think about how easily it could all end so quickly and arbitrarily. Like my friend Jim Dean. Like Mom and Terry. Like my father. Like getting shot at for "no reason". Like watching someone play the piano with grace, knowing you can only play that well in your dreams. Like talking to someone miles away, too far to touch, but somehow she touches you. Like a song that reaches your heart and twists it around like a tomato on a stalk, about to be broken off.

Do you really want to know what a broken heart feels like? I have one. Though, it's not really broken, it's kind-of deformed. I have an extra bundle of nerves in my heart, which cause sort of a short-cut for the electrical impulses. WPW Syndrome they call it, and a catheterization nearly rendered it and my life moot. Between the two, I'd rather have the first, honestly. I feel fine.

I feel something. especially when I listen. And watch. I watched my friends win a competition I helped them prepare for in high school. It was during that preparation that I had one of a series of grand mal seizures; this one knocking me cold and leaving great scars on my face. I bandaged myself up and went back to school the next day, but apparently I frightened everyone by coming back so soon and, of course, with big bandages on my face. I didn't come in the next day. But I came back to help my friends, to keep them together and keep their spirits up. And when the day came, they tore the house down.

I remember watching the screaming crowds and my friends being crowned the champions. My work was done. I wandered outside in front of the school. It was snowing hard, but I found a bench in a greenspace of the parking lot and sat.

What's next?

What is there for me to do?

And will I live to be able to do it?

The last person I would expect to come out after me came out the front door. She saw me slouched on the bench collecting snow. She was my first high school crush, a cousin of one of my friends who had just won in glorious fashion. She was the first girl to break my heart. She asked me why I was out here when everyone was inside celebrating. What could I possibly say that made sense? That I'm out here, feeling sorry for myself because I had given my all, even to the extent that I would given my life, to someone else and felt nothing was left? That I felt empty even as I helped facilitate one of the biggest successes in the school to date? I felt used up, and worse than that, I felt useless.

I don't remember exactly what she said. I do remember that she began to rage at me, but instead the rage became pleading. I saw tears streaming down her face as she spoke. She was saying something to me, but all I really know was that tears were flowing when I didn't have any reason to think they should. No one cries for me, I thought. And so none shall...

I returned to the auditorium, but there was literally no room. Suddenly I was pulled into the boy's bathroom. My friends stood before me with a pile of cash they had just won. "We want you to have your share," one of them said. "You are not gonna argue with us, and that's that," said the other, and they split up the money, giving me an equal share of the winnings.

That was the last competition of that type the school ever had, and nearly twenty years later, they are still the last champions. And I still remember. Many broken hearts later, I still remember.

And as I lay here sick, I remember way too many things. Except going to sleep. Time to look for brotha Ice-T and wish him a good morning as I try to lay me down to sleep. Time indeed goes by, and tomorrow's another year.


Friday, December 21, 2007

when narcissism becomes the new god...

this is actually a brand new episode of my "sideshow," as i like to call it. the podcast is entitled endless shouting matches with yourself. this is episode no. 14, which deals with living in an increasingly narcissistic society. the inspiration for this show comes from one of Will's earlier blog entries.

nothing too deep...just a theory that's been swimming around in my head. this show also features music from the band Bloc Party. plus there's an opening rant from a cd compilation i got while i was back in college. it's an untitled track and i always thought it was one of the weirdest things i had heard at the time. there's one line that always sticks with me: "if everybody could get what they wanted and wanted what they needed, there wouldn't be any point to anything anymore." that's pretty much says it all right there, doesn't it?

again, nothing too deep...just thinking out loud and having the nerve to share it with the rest of cyberspace. happy holidays, folks...

click here to download the mp3 file.
click here to preview the show notes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Anyone Finish Reading The Report Yet?

(To read those tiny captions, click on the pics!)
Yes, that report, the highly-anticipated, never-to-be-duplicated, for some, ill-fated report on the rampant use of steroids, human growth hormones and other performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). for some 20 months, Sen. George Mitchell has been conducting an investigation on the sale and use of PEDs throughout Major League Baseball, culminating in an extensive, intensive report released to us little folk last Friday. The response has been quite interesting, as you knew it would, from players like F.P. Santangelo and Fernando ViƱa (yep, I did it, you got me) to Brian Roberts and Andy Pettitte (well, I did it once or twice, but I'm really sorry!) to Roger Clemens (I didn't do it!!), not to mention Barry Bonds (you doubt me? Right... SO TRY ME!!!)

Personally, I like Miguel Tejada and Rafael Palmeiro
(it wuzzn't me!), though at the time they weren't responding to the report...

Seeing Andy on the list was disappointing, but not surprising. There were rumors that he and Clemens had been doing PEDs quite some time before the report came out, and Andy's silence right afterwards indicated something was up. That he came forward and admitted to using them for two days in 2002 while rehabbing is quite a stand-up thing to do under the circumstances, but I have to wonder if he's being disingenuous by saying that it was only a couple of days and reminding people of how fundamentally Christian he is. In my view, that has nothing to do with it except that you knew better than to do it in the first place. Christians are like everyone else (human), just as prone to mistakes, errors of judgment and downright evil at times under circumstances... that's neither to condone or attack being Christian or human, but to make a point about the expectations we place on others and our willingness to forgive or condemn people based on those expectations. It's interesting to say the least that because Andy's such a nice guy and has always espoused positive values and faith, not to mention his contributions and value as a player, he will likely get a pass from the fans; we're willing to believe that he's telling nothing but the truth. However, Roger Clemens is burning in effigy, and there are already
yeah-right's about Brian Roberts who says he only did it once. Why is that?
Also among my initial reactions was the fleeting idea that because of the higher percentage of former and current Yankee players on the list, this could be another I Hate NY production. That was a fleeting thought, honestly. For one thing, Mitchell has constantly complained about the lack of cooperation he got from MLB, the teams and the Players Association. For another, the people that did cooperate were mostly New York-centric. Brian McNamee is a former assistant strength coach for the Yankees, and Kirk Radomski was a clubhouse attendant for the NY Mets for 11 years (seriously, are these the only pictures anyone has of them? Geez...) They were primarily oriented locally and did business with New Yorkers (so-to-speak). The same can be said about Victor Conte (BALCO, Bay Area blahblahblah), mentioned prominently in the report. Most dealers or traffickers do their business in one spot, and the preponderance of evidence coming from these two geographic locations has more to do with who's being caught than who's looking for what in a particular area. Signature Pharmacy, indicated in a wide PEDs distribution scandal, has evidence of purchases and shipments to players on several different teams around the country, but the dominant view is of the Bay Area and of New York, because that's where the most evidence has come from so far. And that's only because they caught a few guys and forced them to tell. If Radomski were working for a team in Chicago, Kansas City, or say, Boston and got caught, do you actually believe that it would be any different?

That also goes hand-in-hand with another point I discovered while reading about the fallout from the report. Scouting reports and internal memos made public indicated that certain players were known to have taken, or were under strong suspicion of taking PEDs.
Paul Lo Duca was apparently known to have taken PEDs while with the Dodgers, indicated by a scouting report on him while they were considering trading him to Florida. Same with Eric Gagne, Boston knew what they were getting.
Houston had to at least been suspicious about Miguel Tejada, but apparently Astros owner Drayton McLane was living under a rock at the time. What does this mean? The poor, poor baseball owners and their front office folk not only had no clue that Player X doing or rumored to be doing some form of PEDs, but also felt that the info they did have was trifling at best? Give me a freakin' break...What it comes down to is collusion at it's most profitable. Collusion between MLB executives, team owners and their front offices, and players with their union, to maximize profits all around. Chicks dig the long ball... and so do teams willing to shell out millions for a player who can suddenly hit homers like they were Tiger Woods with a golf club. (I will say if Barry Bonds did
that with his bat and a ball, he'd be a lot more popular... maybe A-Rod can learn). The point is, people are willing to pay out the nose to witness public displays of power and offense (thus the popularity of football, boxing and WWE, even if much of that is staged) and all of those involved were willing to look the other way when it came to potential "cheaters". The hypocrisy of the reaction to this report, eloquently expressed by Drayton "Huh?" McLane, is that now that it's out there for everyone to see, it's got to be talked about, examined and acted upon to eliminate such activity from occurring again. Understand this: it's only a scandal when you get caught. Otherwise, it's business as usual. And business, like players' bodies, is booming.

An unfortunate result in this is that Jose Canseco has been given even more credibility, which he uses to bash A-Rod as a potential user among other things he coyly alludes to. Being the body of disingenuousness and all, what does Canseco really get from yelling and screaming about all these other players doing PEds while his own aftercareer is in limbo at best? Is someone picking up the tab for him? That would be quite an investment given what we know from the report, but what really does he stand to gain? His books or appearances are not likely going to change the public's perception of him (whatever, just go away) and if he's angling for a job somewhere, he'd be better off auditioning for Dancing With The Stars or better yet, The Celebrity Apprentice (knowing what I know, he'd fit right in without a problem, and who wouldn't want to see The Donald and Canseco go at it in the Boardroom?)

Okay, I'm running out of steam. I will be reading the report over the next two or three yearsum
weeks! and then I will be convening a panel of like sports fans to discuss the report and it's effect on baseball and the upcoming season. It's not a panel of experts, but of fans who like their respective teams and can sustain a lively, interesting discussion. I will either be able to have audio or post a transcript for your amusement in the coming weeks. Speaking of amusements, I found before/after pics of some of our favorite suspects and convicts on a site called Wise Camel. Take a look for yourselves. Meanwhile, feel free to add your two cents, and remember to respect each other in the process. See ya! >;)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If You Think Your Lonely Now...




...wait until tonight, girl... I can't believe this is not at ITunes Store. And trust me, I know quite a few people who need to here it >;)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Avatar Episodes Online


YEAH! I've found a site that contains all of the episodes of Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender, including the current season and the latest episodes. Okay, some of you obviously don't know what I'm talking about, but this cartoon series is in a hybrid style of anime, and has intelligent story writing and excellent telling. I highly recommend this among others, which I will get around to talking about, but in the meantime let me share some thoughts:

I have a thing for pretty cartoon females. For one thing, they leave a lot to the imagination, but they are as pretty as you want them to be (if you can draw). For another, they being cartoons and you being real, it's pretty hard to make a fool of yourself with them. Of course, the flip side is you can never impress them or have a relationship either, but as long as that's understood, the best you can do is admire or imagine them as real or you as a cartoon, and what could be. It's healthy as long as you keep it in perspective, and I believe I stand a chance in the real world.

That said, Katara is my favorite female character on this show. She's young, so my admiration for her is perhaps a light infatuation, but never fantasizing (for the record, I'm an adult and I'm no longer attracted to pretty teenagers simply because of the prevailing level of maturity and temperament, or lack thereof); in fact it her personality that makes her attractive so-to-speak... well, in the third season she lets her hair down and now she reminds me of Aqua Boogie if she were a cartoon, seriously. But she's still a kid, (so get your minds out the gutter!) Read her profile and I would dare say that most males would find those qualities ideal in a mature life partner. To me, she's a more realistic caricature to be infatuated with, as opposed to Blondie, Miss Buxley or Jessica Rabbit (as well as several other characters on this show).

My favorite male character hands down is Uncle Iroh. He is a former general, hero and the rightful heir to the throne of the Fire Nation (but the mechanizations of his younger brother Ozai forced him to the sidelines). Iroh is easily the most powerful firebender of the Fire Nation, but his strong wisdom and humble outlook make him the most admirable character of the show. His humility also masks a cunning and forceful spirit that will obviously lead the Fire Nation back to respectability and harmony with the world when Aang does save all.


But the three characters I relate the most to are Sokka, Toph and Prince Zuko. Sokka because he is the only one of the four in their group (as well as main character) without bending powers and therefore has to rely on his cleverness and physical strength (I felt so bad watching a recent episode where he stood by and watched the others handle an immediate danger and could not help because of his lack of powers), yet his leadership and personality keep the group not only moving forward on their missions, but sane and uplifted in general. His importance was best displayed in an episode where he apprentices with a sword master, and later plots an assault and rallies the troops during an attack on the Fire Nation during a solar eclipse, when the firebenders' powers are at their weakest.
I relate to Toph because not only is she the youngest of the group (chronologically, Aang is 112 years old; having spent 100 years hibernating in an iceberg, making him technically the oldest), but she's blind. I'm not blind, but her blindness forces her to rely on her other super-heightened senses, resulting in her being arguably the strongest earthbender in existence. Her objection to being coddled, an aspect of her personality that is tough, demanding and highly self-reliant, reminds me of my pending adulthood of yore as I am by far the youngest of all siblings known and unknown in my family. Heck, even my nieces treat me like I'm fragile at times. I feel you, Toph.


Then there's Zuko. You don't know conflicted until you know Prince Zuko, the son of Fire Lord Ozai, but devotee to his Uncle Iroh, who took him under his wing as a surrogate son after his own son died. It is Iroh who shepherds Zuko through his cruel banishment and is his guardian during Zuko' quest for the Aavatar and restoration of his honor. Zuko is angry, but has a conscience that gets the best of him from time to time. easily the most sympathetic of the characters because although he's characterized as a villain, he's neither a villain nor hero; if anything he encapsulates the inner struggle between right and wrong, especially when you consider who he is descended from (and believe me, it's a shock when you find out.)

Enough. I leave you to your own devises. Watch the episodes and make your own judgment.

Update:

I checked the link and it was the wrong one, so I fixed it. Sorry if you went there and got confused! >;)

Linus sings The Police

I was tooling around YouTube, looking at Commercials from the 70's and I got the notion to try to find some classic Peanuts animated segments. I was particularly impressed with what someone did with this. Merry Christmas! (I'm very giving, so there will be more to come...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Boom Truck















(Warning: Stream of Consciousness, Read With Caution)

So my friend Omar was called into the production I'm currently working on (they asked him to do some returns/pick-ups on the regular crew's off-day) with the "slop truck" (a truck used to hold and carry extra equipment from various departments). So he goes to the lot to pick up the truck and immediately gets into an argument with the parking lot attendant, who apparently required his driver's license because he's six-foot-eight and could pick up a drive-thru and eat it (for reference, I only eat express lanes, so I'm not that big)...

I dunno, why do some people feel like they have to prove something when they're unintentionally intimidated? Anyway, after eatingImean, picking up the truck, he followed his itinerary, which had him darting up and down Manhattan in a truck filled with what was that clunking sound? Omar floors it, thinking that the sudden momentum would catch any intruder hiding in the back off-guard and the inertia would hold them captive to the back of the inside of the truck. But there's slop inside, so why not teach them a real lesson? Suddenly, he slams on the brakes...

(see figure above)

I don't remember if he pulled over or if he went to his first stop and opened the door to find a large helium tank rolling around the cargo floor. Was this not tied down properly? (Apparently) Omar carried the tank into the cab of his truck and drove around on his errands, wondering no doubt, "Is helium really non-flammable?"

He later told me how he fought with the parking attendant once again because the parking attendant continued to be a jerk, and he was asked to do more errands, after which he decided that he was hungry and went downtown to nosh. Along the way, our line producer calls him, so Omar tells him about the helium tank. "I put it in the back, under the shelves so it wouldn't roll around," says Omar. "Did you secure it?" asks line producer. "No, but whoever comes in to drive it in the morning, tell them where it is and they can tie it down." Fine. So Omar continues on his quest when his phone rings again. "Yeah, could you just go back and secure that tank?"

For those who've been following the last few posts, I'm working on another indie film, and I have to say this has been a rather unpleasant experience. I dunno if the people producing this film are incompetent or crooks (or both), but I have only had one experience worse than this, on the set of Order of Redemption. But, as Aqua Boogie said when I told her about it, "focus on your dream house, you're dream car, etc.; remember, this too shall pass."

Meanwhile, Omar and I continue to discuss the prevailing information concerning pressurized helium (see figure above)...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Usual Drive-By Shooting

That's the thought that went through my head as I walked onto my block and was suddenly sprayed with pellets from a group of jerks driving around in a silver sedan with a pellet gun. I had just finished work (I'm currently PAing on an indie film) late as usual, and had taken the subway home as usual, and had walked down the empty streets as usual, turning onto my block as usual when I felt something stinging me on my bicep and bouncing off my back, along with the muffled "pffft" of a pellet gun repeatedly shooting at me. I decided to duck after it occurred to me that they might shoot at my head if I didn't. They drove down the block slowly as I tried and failed to read the license plate (it was nearly midnight, after all).

I was rather annoyed to say the least, and would have just ignored the whole incident as kids being jerks and no real harm done, except that in the Bronx even seemingly random attacks can add up to something deeper, such as practice for something perhaps unusual. I'm not scared of getting shot, as I've had guns pointed at me on several occasions and if it happens, it happens. I would probably react to getting shot in the arm or leg the same way as I did here; what the fuck? Oh, shit... oww, that was really-really annoying...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ikiru


"Life is brief, fall in love, maidens...Before the crimson bloom fades from your lips...Before the tides of passion cools within you...For those of you who know no tomorrow...Life is brief, fall in love, maidens...Before our raven tresses begin to fade...Before the flames in your hearts flicker and die...For those to whom today will never return..."

Wow. I just watched a relatively little-known film by master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa called Ikiru (To Live); bleak, quiet and absolutely beautiful. The DVD which I rented from Netflix has the sound of a beating heart looping on the menu page, which in retrospect says everything. I don't know about you, but I am all into movies that break your heart without trying to. This is definitely one of them; starring Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura, best known as the leader of the Seven Samurai (I knew I recognized him from the start...) Here he plays Kanji Watanabe, a veteran bureaucrat of city hall in a nameless city of post-war Japan who discovers he has less than a year to live. He then embarks on a journey to make sense of his life, ultimately deciding to make up for lost time by dedicating himself to what would otherwise be a lost cause.

Kurosawa does not overdo any moment; focusing on the stark emotions of Watanabe as he wanders aimlessly through the city, dealing with his family at home or coming to grips with his legacy at work. I won't tell you too much because obviously I want you to watch it, but I will say that while the first half of the film follows our hero through his grieving process, the second half is a devastating retrospect that had me in tears. What he does with his time is not only a study in the vanity of men and determination in those who want to make a difference, but a lesson in what it truly is to be a hero... and though mankind has a long way to go to redefine itself, that it is never too late to make a difference. Let me know what you think.