Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Making Water...

When I was a child, my mom had a variety of euphemisms for various different functions, bodily and otherwise. One that popped into my head today - please don't ask me why - was the popular "Making Water".

"The kitty's in there making water," she'd say, pointing at the cat box. "You sit here. I have to go make water."

Make water? How does one make water, I'd think. And what was I missing?

When I went into the bathroom, it was to pee, piddle, urinate. (For many years during my childhood, I took a great deal of pleasure referring to "Your innate ability to...", just because it sounded like urinate. I don't think anyone ever caught on.) Sometimes, I'd poop or go doo doo. (Here's another one. I never once said "Doo doo" as I was going doo doo, so...?) But make water?

I imagined little machines people had that would take the ice out of the urinals and convert it to ice. I certainly had no conception of the molecular structure of water, though that might have helped.

And why make water, anyway? The bathroom's full of water! It's in the sink. It's in the urinal. There are bowls full of it, for crying out loud!

I swear, people, do you realize how much faster humanity would be curing cancer, healing the planet, overcoming Republicanism if we didn't have to spend years of our childhood trying to figure this shit out?!


... by the way, it's taking a leak.
When your subconscious talks to you... and you can't understand a word it says...

This occurred this morning, while I was asleep (which is not an enormous window of time, considering as how I only slept between 2 and 4:30am).

I'm standing in a college lecture hall and someone is talking at length about dreams. I don't know who he was but he was very familiar. The last thing he says is directed right at me and I realize that we are alone. "When people in your dreams start talking nonsense, that is your conscious and subconscious minds fighting. You are conscious of the dream state but your subconscious won't allow it the satisfaction."

Of course, I thought. That makes sense.

And right around that time it began to dawn on me...

"Now," he said, starting again, "there are sharks in the back seat."

Huh?, I thought.

And then I woke up.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


I just had one of the worst panic attacks... well, since the last one.

I was sitting here at my desk (here at Linkrosoft!), looking up discount prices for travel through our company discount page. Turns out I can get a room in Vegas for $59/night. See, Keith wants to go to Vegas at the beginning of May and, being the only one with a credit card, I'm making room arrangements by default. (Any readers out there in a position to give me a discount in Vegas????)

Then, I started looking at the other discounts. Cruises. New York. Paris. London. I thought, when am I ever going to go some place like that.

My next thought was why would I go there alone?

That's why I don't travel, because I end up going everywhere alone. And I don't like being alone.

And I'll always be alone.

I'll die alone. Sad and alone.

There's absolutely no hope.

Suddenly, I couldn't catch my breath. I started hyperventilating and wanted to run away.

I wanted to scream.

I went to Andreas, a guy I know here, and bummed a cigarette. I went outside in the warmth of the day, smoked, and calmed down.

I am so very sad.
Fewer Jobs, More Employment!...

Just saw this story about Treasury Secretary John Snow who seems to think that our economy would be better if there weren't so many god-damned jobs! Pesky jobs! Shoo, jobs! Shooo!

Talk about a Snow job!
Richard Lind...

Got an email from Rich this morning and, after the entry about Tim last week, I thought I'd jot down a quick note about everyone's favorite psychopath.

That's what I thought about him when we first met. Now "first met" is a highly subjective term. What it really means is "when I first noticed he was there".

When I first noticed Richard was there, I was at a party in Costa Mesa. The point of the party and why it was given has long escaped me but I remember it drew in my small circle of friends way back in late 1984/early 1985. We were all on the staff of the el Don, the newspaper back in college. Here's a quick rundown:

Kelly Ward: Editor-in-Chief, Pain-in-the-Ass, Fat-Ass. Okay, she was nice enough but she was one of those people who spoke down a steep hill.
Mohammed Reswan: Kelly's boyfriend. Not on the newspaper staff. What was this nice looking, middle-eastern guy (who, for all I know, ended up at Guantanamo) doing dating this bitch? What I didn't realize back at the time was that some guys go for ugly girls. This guy smoked so much, he made me look like a non-smoker!
Cynthia Fitzpatrick: Kelly's friend and the only person, next to Rich, who I would know after college was done. (Graduated? No. Finished? Yes.) She was on the newspaper staff but, for the life of me, I cannot remember what the hell she did. Richard and I used to say she was too cute to... um, have sex with.
Barney Thompson: I have a feeling I'm getting the name completely wrong here. This guy considered himself a muckraker, a real old-fashioned reporter... he also took himself far too seriously and did a lot of macho bullshit to prove himself to himself. I'd never met anyone so Republican, either. He wouldn't be the last. Oddly enough, nice guy.
Richard Lind: Sports page editor. I had no idea who he was. I never read the sports page - it could have knitting patterns for all I cared.
Ken La Salle: Here's this guy who left high school the hero. Everyone thought he'd be winning an Oscar and a Pulitzer just a few months after graduation. Then, he hit the real world.... and began to experience that tangy taste of shit. He couldn't afford college and ended up going to Santa Ana College (community college - how sad!) because, at least, he could write for the paper.

It was a Friday night and the party was at Reswan's apartment at the Aspen Apartments - at the time, a swanky complex near South Coast Plaza. I went alone. Odds are, with the apartment complex only a few miles from my mom's house (where I lived at the time), I walked there.

I wasn't there long. I couldn't stay. Though Reswan was the perfect host, it was hard to sit near Kelly without wanting to strangle her. And Barney was talking up the movie "Red Dawn" as if it were portending some absolute threat that must be met, in lieu of a time machine, immediately. I had made the mistake of meeting this argument with reason... and if I didn't leave the party soon, Barney would see me dead.

"I'm going to get some smokes," I probably said, or something like it.

Rich, who had come in with beer - nineteen years old and he comes in with beer! - said he'd go with me. Now, I knew how this played out. I'd been here before. When this person found out I didn't have a car, I'd be in for humiliation. So, I headed him off. "I'm not driving. I was just going to walk over to the gas station."

"That's cool. I'll go with you."

So, we walked. Nothing was said at first. I don't know his reason but mine was because my mind was reeling. After high school, I'd grown used to being alone... this guy was intruding!

But we did start talking eventually and, if I remember correctly, it started with very common things. Girls. Writing. Star Wars. Stuff like that.

Half way to the gas station, the topic jumped into uncomfortable territory: sports. Richard said something like, "Yeah, I've got a softball game this weekend. I don't know if I'm going because I dislocated my shoulder and tore five tendons - but that just goes with the territory." My worst injury to date: writer's cramp.

And, so, Richard Lind became, in my mind, everyone's favorite psychopath.

(I'm one to talk. Only a few years before, I'd jumped off a three-story parking structure just to see what it was like!)

At the gas-station now and I get my cigarettes. Actually, mine and Reswan's. One pack for me and two for him. I light one up and Richard asks for one. I give him one and he lights it, holding it gingerly to his lips - and COUGHS.

And I thought, "Ah, you're not so tough."

And so, we became friends. Richard could tear tendons and walk away from it but he couldn't smoke worth a damn. I could hardly hold a baseball bat (as he would later learn when we started going to batting cages) but I could smoke. Actually, I think the real attraction back then was that Rich lived like a writer should live and acted like a writer should act.

Back then, writing was THE THING to us. We were determined to become writers. Whatever Richard had to prove - and being an artist, unlike being an accountant, is all about proving something to someone - I knew I had to be a writer because I'd been such a failure as an actor. We would talk writing, argue writing... we never really seemed to write that much...

Well, Richard and I last track (as I previously mentioned) and have since reconnected. Richard sold me on the idea of writing a book about our lives from then to now (or a pre-determined now-like period). The idea of it, writing a book about my life from just before Rosa to just after, appealed to me greatly and I've been itching to start since. But, as I mentioned, I got an email from Rich this morning. In it, he expressed the difficulty he's been having in starting this project.

I can just imagine how difficult it would be. Memory fades, events blur, whole months vanish. And if you don't write facts, you write feelings. This is even more absurd. I'm not sure of my feelings today - how am I supposed to assume what they were yesterday? Where's the history book that tells me what happened?! Oh, it's in there, in our heads and in our hearts. It takes finding but it's there to be found.

Mind you, Richard's always been more of a perfectionist than I - and, for those of you who've worked with or for me, that's saying something. He would never show me his work, for fear of a misplaced apostrophe or misspelled article. Me? I'd make gold out of road apples. I didn't care how much any of it stank; I'd say, "Look at this!"

Don't be afraid of crap, I've always said to other writers. Crap can be fixed - as long as it's not all crap

... okay, one more story just to wash away all that crap imagery...

Richard has a daughter through his first marriage and I was fortunate enough to be named the child's god-father. Mind you, with Rich being is a different state through most of the girl's life, I haven't been able to be the best god-father in the world but there was one time and, having missed out on having children of my own, it a memory I'll always cherish.

I'd come out to Missouri one August for a visit. (Couldn't Rich have warned me about mid-western summers????) One night, Rich and his wife let me put their little girl to bed. Uncomfortable? You bet! I didn't know what to do! I found myself asking her! (The girl could have said, "They always give me a quart of ice cream before I go to bed," and I would've believed her!!)

So, I tucked her in and pulled out "Where the Wild Things Are", her first request of the evening.... and couldn't understand the story for the life of me. And, having no children of my own, I started analyzing the story - as if she was Rich by proxy! Well, she didn't disappoint. She jumped in with a very clear deconstruction of the book, helping me understand it.

Then, it was something more my speed, a Disney book with Mickey, Goofy, and Donald. (I think it was the Jack and the Beanstalk rip-off.) I couldn't do a decent Donald Duck impression but she loved my Mickey and Goofey and gave me big hugs.

I just wanted to go out and make babies. Rosa was back in California, though, and babies were the last thing she wanted, anyway.

Later, Richard and his wife were fighting - divorce-level fighting. I shouldn't have interfered but the last thing I wanted them to do was break up. I'd much rather they move back to California and play board games with Rosa and I. So, Rich and I went for a walk in the middle of an sweltering night and he listed grievance after grievance. And I told him, "It doesn't matter what your problems are. If you love her, you need to do whatever you can to work them out."

Later, I was proven to be full of shit. I lost Rosa.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Opening Weekend...

Well, it's Monday morning again, dear friends... and we need to get together to prevent this terrible tragedy! Stop having Monday mornings. Wouldn't we all be much happier?

Anyway, another weekend is behind us. What a weekend! Opening weekend! Whew!

You know, some shows are a cake walk and I can do them without any real preparation. This show... well, with this show I actually get nervous and afraid I'm going to forget my lines!

We were sold out this entire weekend. It's great to play for full houses - and for those of you still wondering from the last paragraph, no, I didn't screw up.

We had reviewers from the Daily Pilot and the Register there. Hopefully, we'll see good reviews soon.

As for me, I enjoyed the rest of the time: sleeping in on Saturday, cooking myself a real dinner on Sunday - couldn't be beat!

Oh, sure. I had my off moments... such as 2:00 this morning when the voice started screaming at me to go to Rosa's. Oh, I fought it - and, after about an hour, went back to sleep.

So, that was the weekend in a nutshell. I keep them in nutshells because... well, what else you gonna do with nutshells?

Friday, March 26, 2004

Tim Murphy...

Tim's been on my mind a lot lately... probably because I keep running into him.

Mind you, this is Tim in Oregon we're talking about here, and though that makes him hard to run into I still seem to manage it.

Tim and I met back in high school and it didn't take long for me to realize I'd found my brother, if not by birth. I'd never really felt close to my own brother - let's be real, I hated him at the time - but Tim had all the qualities you'd expect from a brother without the burden of being related.

We grew very close.

After high school, well, things kind of fell apart between us - shattered is more like it - but I've been very fortunate to find him again. He lives in Oregon and I'm here in Orange County, California but we try to keep in touch.

And, like I said, though it's hard to run into the guy, he's popping up almost as much as Rosa!

So, I thought I'd write about it.

This probably all has to do with the Newport Theater Arts Center, where we're performing "Something to Hide", in a way. You see, many years ago.... okay, a shitload of years ago - we're talking circa 1983 - Tim and I performed there. Tim was taking some kind of performing class and needed someone to help him with a musical number. Me, being the wunderkind that I was, jumped at the opportunity. We did a song from Sweet Charity - the trapped in the elevator song (which has to be reworked as those of you who know the show will certainly know).

So, every time I go down there, I think of Tim. (Mind you, when I get there I think of Rosa - as mentioned in a previous post.)

Then, last night, I started watching Arthur, the film with Dudley Moore.

It seems like an eternity ago but Tim and I saw that movie in the theater. It was a dollar theater - back when they had those - and I think Tim and I actually snuck into it (theater-hopped). We very quickly picked up on Mr. Moore's laugh/cackle and did it throughout the movie... and after the movie... mostly me.

Now, memory being so fragile, there are so many things that I since escaped me. For instance, how did we get to Newport Beach? How did we get home from the dollar theater in Fountain Valley? (I want to say we walked - we were stupid enough to....)

Tim and I would often walk everywhere - smoking, of course - and talk about everything. I've been very lucky to have friends with ideas who like to talk: both Tims, Rich, Rob, Rosa, Sean, Sean, and Sean...

Tim Murphy looks a whole lot like Kevin Smith, the film-maker, in case you're wondering - and could play a wicked Silent Bob.

And I am very lucky to know him.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Something to Preview...

Last night was the Preview performance of Something to Hide. Preview performances are basically final dress rehearsals where you invite some friends and family to stop by and watch it and tell you how great it was afterwards... even if it stank.

... It was... an interesting show...

First off, let me tell you that our show runs long. How long? Well, usually I only have to shave once a week and, having shaved that morning, I had to shave by intermission! It was long! About 150 minutes long! Sitting in the green room with the other actors during the final scenes, I thought I heard people in the audience snoring.

It was the other actors.

I suppose I should have known it would be an interesting show when I said the line "Disguised handwriting, cheap notepaper" as "Cheap handwriting, disguised notepaper"... it should have warned me.

Then, I had a scene with Miss Cunningham and, towards the end, she lost it. Lost what? Oh, touch with reality, her marbles - take your pick. She just stood there, gaping at me. I tried feeding her lines... no help. Finally, she burst out with, "I suppose I should go!" Yes, I agreed, you should.

Then, in comes the Inspector and, starting the scene, he immediately jumps to the end of the scene - and it's a long scene, folks! Then, he jumps to the beginning. Then, to the middle. Then, to the end. Meanwhile, I'm taking a roller coaster ride!

Later, Julie steps off the stage and says to me, "I don't know what the hell's going on out there!"

Oh, it was fun.

But it wasn't over.

My mom, Keith, and his son (my nephew) Cliff had come and were sitting in the front row. When it came time for my bow, they all stood. Sit down, I thought. Please sit down. No, they kept standing and clapping. I felt like such a dork.

Afterwards, Teri gave me some notes. One of the things she said was, "You know, you're going to have to help the Inspector out there."


"The reality of the situation is here you are at (she wrote down 30) and here he is at (she wrote 73) and he's not as mentally agile as you." Mentally agile? My brain can't walk and chew gum without falling down!

I pointed at her paper. "You know I'm not that young."

"Fine," she said. She scratched out 30 and wrote 35.

Folks, at 38, I don't easily fall for flattery.

"We open tomorrow. You don't have much of a choice," she said.

Okay. That I fall for.

.... It's gonna be fun!

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Big Thing After the First Big Thing (AKA The Season of the Writer)...

As you know "Something to Hide" will be going into production very soon. (We're talking tomorrow night, folks!) That means my schedule will begin to open up and my life will return to normal... if you want to call it living. (If you want to call it normal!)

For months now, I've had this great idea in the back of my head. I think it started around Christmas. It was this - actually, it was just a feeling, not yet a germ, not yet a seed, not yet a seedling to take root to turn into an inkling that would later grow into an idea.

It was a tapping on the back of my cerebellum.

All I knew was that it would be really need to have a guy interviewed on stage. In fact, there'd be no interviewer.

This wouldn't be a monologue.

But what would it be?

Months passed.

"Something to Hide" came along. Then, I was inspired to write "Falling Together", my first screenplay. It looked like my course was set for the next few months.

That was until last night.

The feeling dropped into fertile ground, took seed... and grew.

Now, it wasn't just one guy on stage. He was still there, under a light. Then, there was another light... and many other people. (Yes, I'm intentionally being vague.) I've always been interested in minimalists... mostly because I think it's a stupid way to go. Stupid people must intrigue me.

Now, I had a format but it certainly wasn't a play. Not by a long shot. There was no story to be told.

That was until this morning.

Of all the things I miss about being with Rosa, one of the things I miss about myself from back then is my books. I wrote seven novels, and though none of them were published I always I thought they were quite good. For all of those novels, there were an innumerable amount started and never finished. One of those was called "Happy Landings". "Happy Landings" was the third in a trilogy of semi-autobiographical novels, two of which were never finished. The first, "My Side" (based on a newspaper column, after which this Blog was so aptly named), told the story of Francis Ell, a person who paralleled my own life up to Kelly Johnson, a girl I was desperately infatuated with in high school; it was my first completed novel. The second, "Havings of a Have Not" dealt with my fears about success and marriage, started shortly after Rosa and I were married - never finished. The third, also never finished, was called "Happy Landings"

"Happy Landings" came to me shortly after I nearly died in a plane crash... that nearly happened. It tells the story of a man who meets the love of his life and dies shortly thereafter in a plane crash. Then, he watches as she slowly puts her life back together. He narrates the story.

I started it a few years into my marriage and it was ironic, considering how things ended up with Rosa and I. (In point of fact, if the main character had broken the woman's heart by cheating on her instead of by dying, it would have predicted the outcome of my marriage very nearly perfectly.)(Which raises the eternal question: Is kissing another woman when you're married the same as having sex with another woman?) Of course, this book could never be turned into a play. It had too many locations, too many characters, too many asides, too many tangents... it was, very much, your typical Ken stream of consciousness.

It could never be turned into a play... until today. For you see, now I have the format and now I have the story.

My first play, "Everything Changes", stole the title from one of my unfinished novels. Now, I'm ready to steal both the name and the story from another.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm still as itching to write "Falling Together" as ever. It just so happens, I'm also itching to write this as well.

I'll let you know how that goes.

When I plan to fit in ever important video game playing time is beyond me.
But at least he was honest...

Yesterday afternoon, I'd had it. I was fed up. I had put up with four years of stupidity, mediocrity, and insensitivity here at NetLink (or whatever networking company this is). I scheduled some time with my boss and, when the time came, strode in.

I told him about the "new" documentation ideas that were going around, ideas I'd been insulted for having for years. I showed him how my ideas were far better, my designs more appealing, my plans more proactive. I displayed for him, over and over, how I'd taken a leadership role in our department. I reminded him how I'd come to his rescue whenever he'd needed copywriting done, or a new idea submitted, or a great tagline developed.

Finally, I made my appeal. I told him that four years with no career path was just too much. I needed to know where I was going with the company and why, time and again, opportunities for advancement were denied me.

And he said, "No, you don't get a career path."

He must have seen my mind reel because he leaned forward and said, "You're going to keep doing what you do and, when it comes time for a raise, you'll make more money."

I was stunned and pulled the only thing I had left out of my hat. "Mike, surely you agree that for anyone to have any motivation they must have a goal to be motivated to. The whole reason I've worked so hard has been in the hope of making some kind of advancement because of the promises that were made -"

"They were made by other people. I can't answer to those."

"I guess what I'm asking is, how can you expect me to give 100% if there's no reward for that."

For some reason, this made him mad - and I guess I should have worded things differently but I didn't really have the time. "You're the only one who comes in here asking for rewards! You do your job right or you're out!"

"I'm not saying I won't -"

"This is a waste of my time. Get out of here."

And that was it. Oh, there was this whole, nonsensical bit he spouted about people who make widgets doing that until they retire but I couldn't follow it because I couldn't see how he could possibly make such a comparison.

So, now I've lost all hope of things working here, too. I've said it before and I'll say it again - this could have all been prevented with a jump over the Grand Canyon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Time for the first of another TRUE STORIES FROM TECH WRITERS...

(It seems like that's what I am these days, so why not call myself that?)

Okay, here's the deal. I started here four years ago and, upon seeing their documentation, almost immediately I said, "You need to make your documentation more graphical."

"We can't." They said. "It's too much work."

When all the other networking companies went with graphical documentation, I said, "You've got to make your documentation more graphical."

"We can't." They said. "It would take too long."

When our products became more and more complicated and hard to explain, I said, "You've got to make your documentation more graphical."

"We can't." They said. "It's a waste of resources."

For four years, I've been saying that and for four years I've been told they can't for various (incredibly lame) reasons.

(Here comes the kicker. You know what it is, don't you?)

Today, one of the executives came by and exclaimed, "I just bought an Epson printer and their documentation was really graphical. Ours should be like that!"

"Great idea," the other executives exclaimed.

I shit you not.

What I find funny about this is I'm sure you can apply it to your job, whatever that job may be.
Who's the Prick now?!...

Last night. Second to our last rehearsal.

It went relatively smoothly. "Relatively smoothly" means we got through it without stopped but skipped about a quarter of the lines.

Karen and I were really throwing each other around. As I've probably mentioned, I don't deal well with physical violence. (Give me sarcasm! I can deal with that!) Every time I threw Karen around, I could feel her reeling in my head. And every time she yelped in pain, it was a punch to my gut.

And, of course, when she punched me in the gut, it was a punch to my gut.

It was also the first time someone from outside the show saw the show.

Afterwards, this person said to me, "God, you're such a prick!" And I almost started crying.

The problem with being alone, with having no one in the world who loves you, is that makes it hard not to agree.
The new definition of stressed...

I was watching X:Men (the movie) this morning, while eating my Raisin Bran. Wolverine and Mystique were fighting.

And I suddenly burst out into tears.

Monday, March 22, 2004

But I did find my belt...

Another Monday. Another weekend past.

... Stupid Monday!

I'm afraid to say I don't have a peck of great news to report. This weekend was spent about as depressed as I get. I had... and continue to have... lost all interest in everything, all motivation. I pretty much had (have) the feeling of, "What's the use?"

So, rather than do house work or even leave my apartment. I spent most of the weekend smoking and crying and not moving.

Oh, it was a barrel of laughs.

In the midst of that, I did something that most people (smarter than I) would suggest was, well, pretty stupid. I wrote Rosa a letter.

And I mailed it to her.

Okay. Okay. Before you start flaming me, let me get my story finished. I'd just watched a great romantic comedy called "Jet Lag", which I knew Rosa would love, and wanted to recommend it to her. On top of that, I'd also found out that Al Stewart is supposed to have a new album out towards the end of the year. Rosa being an Al Stewart nut like me... maybe not as much... I also wanted to tell her that. Not being about to email her and pretty sure she wouldn't appreciate a call, I wrote her a three-paged letter. I only spent half a page telling her how much I missed her. Happy?

Friday night, I spent quite a bit of time drinking, numbing myself, while I downloaded the World of Warcraft beta test. Hey, I might not have time for video games in the midst of this show - but I do have time for World of Warcraft. It's a great game... wish I could play it once they start charging! (Wish I could pay it, is more like it.)

Saturday, playing World of Warcraft, I didn't get out of my apartment until after 5pm!! (It's a bit addicting... and I was depressed... Give me a break!) I had to go out and buy some makeup... for the play... honest. So, off to Sav-On I went, picking up some Neutrogena base, some Pomade, and a bag of Fritos. The cashier looked like she'd just gotten out of high school. She rang up the Fritos, give the Pomade and half-interested look, and paused at the base makeup. She looked sheepishly from behind her counter, "Um... is this yours?"

"Yep," I answered. Welcome to the real world, kid. You're in for more surprises than this!

I got the makeup because Sunday was the show's first dress rehearsal. The Pomade slicked back my hair and the makeup, well... you know.

I hadn't run my lines all weekend.

I should have.

I hadn't drawn a blank on stage in a while and had even forgot how it felt. Last night, I remembered. As Karen tried over and over to get a line out of me - like drilling for water in a cat box - I froze, my mouth half opened, eyes like a deer in headlights.

No fun.

Afterwards, the wardrobe lady, Suji - who looks amazingly like Julie Starr's mother but I don't dare ask out of embarrassment - said, "You're wearing a brown belt with those grey pants."

Since the last time Teri came down on me, I've been afraid to answer criticisms. "I know... that's what you gave me."

"But you should be wearing a black belt."

"I know... but that's what you gave me."

"But it doesn't match."

"I'm sorry?"

"Do you have a black belt you can use?"

I did. A couple months ago, however, in a fit of sleepwalking, I'd lost my black belt - hid it from myself - and hadn't found it since.

"I could try to find it," I offered. And there I was. But when I got home last night, something occurred to me. I had my gym bag in the back, full of gym clothes (horribly underused these days). I reached in - sweat shirts, shorts, socks, towel.... But then, I reached into a smaller compartment, the size of which is barely big enough for keys, and found... the belt.

Score another for Awake Ken. Too bad Sleepwalking Ken is so far ahead.

So, there you go. Rotten weekend. Miserable life. Miss Rosa so much I can't stand it.

But I found my belt.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Sick in de head...

Okay, it's been a couple days since you last heard from me. Sorry.

I got this migraine headache Tuesday night and, after having half my brain drool out my left ear, had to put myself back together again. It took a while.

A couple of notes:

1) All directors are pricks. You heard it here first. I'm so fucking sick of acting, you have no idea. I want to get back to my writing - NOW! Why are they like is? What turned my present director, Teri, into one? Well, we're nearing "Hell Week" and she's getting tense... and her real self is coming out. We'll leave it at that, for now.

2) I hate playing Howard Holt. It takes hours afterwards before I stop feeling like I'm covered in oily shit.

3) And another thing - this play needs to end right away. Clair has been absolutely bedazzled... and she's young enough to be my daughter. Beam me up, Scotty!!!

4) Is it any wonder, in the midst of this, that I feel reality breaking apart once again? Last night, I stepped back into high school for a few seconds. I was walking down the hall at the theater and, next thing I knew, I was outside of Valley High School's cafeteria. I could see it, hear the sounds, smell the air. Thankfully, I'd grabbed onto the stair rail because, when I came back, I nearly collapsed.

5) I finally saw the trailer for Adaptation. It opens with Under Pressure by Queen (aka "Ice Ice Baby" folks) - sounds like Falling Together to me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Drinking, smoking, and falling down...

Anyone who knows me, knows I like to drink. I like to drink to excess. I like to drink until the world is at a tilt and my words are on wheels running down a steep slope and I can't feel my fingertips.

I like to drink.

I'm thinking that's going to happen this Friday. If you get a chance, you should join me. Otherwise, I'll drink alone. (Yeeeaaaa, with nobody else!)

My career in drinking started many years ago. I think I can pinpoint it around my 17th year, back when I had amnesia and my life was falling apart. Yes, during my first nervous breakdown. Back then, or so Tim (up in Oregon) told me, I'd drink from a mini-bottle of Tanquaray (could've been Gilbey's - it's been a while - but I know it was gin, shockingly) and smoke Jitanay's (which is how the brand sounds but not how it's spelled - they're French). Later, by a year or so, I'd switched to scotch, a switch that was to last for over a decade.

I was never really a beer person. I've always been more of a wine person. Cabernet Sauvignon - can't beat a good one. Right now, I have about half a dozen bottles of wine at home.... waiting.... I may decorkify one of those bad boys Friday night.

A couple of years ago, I learned the joys of martinis... and there's been no looking back. Martinis are now my drink of choice: vodka and very dry. When Tim comes up from San Diego, he makes apple martinis or watermelon martinis. There's no way to get them dry but we drink them just the same. And we don't drink one or two of them. We drink pitchers of them, four of five of them!

And we smoke. And we smoke. And we smoke. Mostly, we smoke cigarettes (Camels, mostly). Sometimes, I'll enjoy a cigar. (Not being an aficionado, I can't begin to tell you what kind. It varies.) I've grown bored of pot so that's out... for now. (Let's not get hasty.)

I smoke because it goes with alcohol like ice and cream, like peanut and butter, like boring blog and My Side... I smoke because it helps the booze find that part of my brain that allows everything to shut down and allows me to pass out and allows me to stop hurting for just a little while.

I smoke because I lost Rosa.

I smoke because I don't have any reason not to.

And, hey, why not have a drink with that?

If I don't open a bottle of wine, all I've got is scotch. Not a bad alternative. Scotch hits you in the chest like a big, bearded, Scottish friend you haven't seen in a while. You know, after a while, you get used to it.

So, that's it. Tuesday afternoon and I have the plan for Friday night. Now, you're probably asking yourself why a good-looking, talented, intelligent, all-around nice guy can't go out and get himself a date for Friday night - why he ends up alone. Well, that's another reason why I smoke.

Now, where's my drink?
How old am I?...

After days of rottenness (it's a word, right?), I finally have some positive news to report about yesterday.

First, and to some best, I'm happy to report that SCTV will finally be coming to dvd! This is like manna from geek heaven! SCTV was one of the first shows to announce loud and proud that geeks (and even dorks) can be funny - not just funny looking! It gave me the guts to first think I could be funny... which was both a blessing and a curse, but we'll not go there.

You can bet I'll go into debt picking these bad boys up.

Last night was the first in a long, grueling, two week long hell-week. I'm sure the My Sides in a couple weeks will be entertainingly... confusing.

(So, no change.)

When I went into rehearsal last night, Teri was sitting with Ray, one of the theater's board members, and told me that a reporter was coming in to take some pre-production shots. "We've got all the information for him but - how old are you?"

Oy, that question. How I hate that question. I always think that when I tell people they think, "You're 38 and you have no kids? You live alone with cats? You have a dead-end job? Oh, I hate to think what your life will be like in twenty years!" I mean, that's what I think!

So, as usual, I asked, "Oh, how old do you think I am?"

Teri said, "You're 30, right?"

I looked at Ray. "What do you think?"

"Oh, well, I'd say... yeah, 30 sounds right."

"Thirty-eight," I told them. "Thank you, ladies."

Oh, to be 30 again! When I was thirty, I was buying my first house with Rosa. We would sit in our car across the street (where I sit not when I go in the middle of the night, crying and smoking) and dream out loud about the things we'd do and how happy we'd be. It was around my thirtieth birthday when we moved in. We had a huge housewarming party. The first night we were there, we slept upstairs on some old sofas we'd been given. We were happy.

Eight years ago.

And if I was 30 now? Well, I wouldn't be twice Clair's age. (Clair is the girl who plays Stella... the girl who is so amazingly beautiful, she attracts sunlight.) But would I date her? I don't know. Maybe I would still be young enough to think that a little more effort might win Rosa back.

Oh, to dream.

Still, it's nice to be thirty to someone... even if I'm not.

Monday, March 15, 2004

They talk, I listen...

Things have been pretty normal for a while... do I need to tell you that stopped this weekend?

Friday night, when I got home, the voices started again. After my nervous breakdown, a couple years ago, I started hearing them and only recently (within the last six months) have I been able to start making out what they're saying. I hadn't heard them in about a month.

Friday, they were louder than ever. And they wanted me to go to Rosa's.

Trust me, you don't argue.

I got in my car and left. I stopped off for a pack of smokes and found myself at Rosa's. (Honestly, sometimes it's like there's a whole other Ken running the show.)

I parked across the street from her house, sat on the curb, looked over at her windows, and wondered what the hell I was doing. Still, after about an hour, the voices started fading away. Seeing Rosa's house had a certain calming affect. I suppose it may be because that was the last place where I was happy, all those years ago. I've forgotten, over the years, what happiness is like but I remember I had it once back when Rosa loved me.

Eventually, it became too cold out there and I left.

I ended up sleeping my Saturday away. After a long rehearsal week (going from 8am - 11pm each day) and looking down the barrel of two weeks straight of the same, I needed my rest. Of course, this meant I didn't sleep so well Saturday night. In fact, Saturday, I ended up sleep walking... again! But my mind never runs out of new spins it can put on my paranoia and here was the new one: While I was sleepwalking, I remember saying, "It's gone! I must have hid it while I was sleepwalking!" Now, I woke up from that and realized that I was sleepwalking while I was talking about sleepwalking and I had no idea what the "it" is. After looking around, I decided to let it go. I'll find out sooner or later.

Sunday morning, Sean and I went for breakfast. I think it's funny how he and I have turned into brothers of sorts. He and his wife, Megan, are getting ready for their trip to New Orleans. Rosa and I always wanted to go to New Orleans so seeing them do this does drive shards of regret into my chest. But I try and act supportive and happy for them while a little voice in my head says, "This is your life from now on, watching other people's happiness while you have none of your own."

Basically, the weekend sucked.

One thing about this whole Blog business is I have no idea how many readers I have. In the event that either one of you have a new reader checking this site out, I figured it's been a long time since I've given you an overview of who I am and what I'm about so I thought I'd take this morning and do just that.

(WARNING: Contents are acidic. Be sure to wear your sense of humor.)

My name's Ken La Salle. I'm an actor and writer in Orange County, California. I'm an actor in the "doesn't do it for a living and doesn't do it particularly well" sense. I'm a writer in the "why can't I catch a fucking break so I can stop working in this shithole writing manuals" sense. As much as I hate to admit it, I am in Orange County. Yes, it is as bad as they say.

As 38 years of age, I'm just now beginning to feel mortality creeping in. With decrepitude, there goes my dream of being handsome one day. I've never had kids and, at this age, I'm too old to have kids. Mind you, you need a woman to have kids (this is all explained in the My Side "How to Have Kids ColorForm Fun Book") and no woman wants me.

One woman did once. Rosa. But she lost - a) interest, b) patience, c) love, d) her Prozac - and I lost her. And I can't seem to move on. I can't get over her. She was/is/could be (who knows) the love of my life and I'm terrified that I'll be alone for the rest of my life and die without ever having been loved again.

Losing Rosa pretty much destroyed my life. Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, Ben & Jerry's - that wasn't the worst of it. The worst of it came with a trip to the Grand Canyon with the idea of jumping off the side. I didn't do that (in case you can't tell) but I wonder every day why not.

After Rosa, I worked very hard at finding someone to take her place but no one could. For the past couple of years, I haven't dated. At first, I thought that was my choice.... now, I'm realizing that women are not attracted to me. So, I have to get used to being alone, which is the price I pay for not killing myself.

Presently, I'm acting in a show called "Something to Hide" at the Newport Theater Arts Center. I play a very bad man, which is really hard for me because I don't like to be seen as a bad person. I always try to do the right thing - and when I fail, I apologize.

I've learned something in 38 years, though.

There's no reward for doing the right thing. Most of the time, people don't even notice.

Being a good person is its only reward. People still hate you. Sometimes, you go unloved. You can be lonely.

I hate to be seen as bad because, inside, I think that I probably did something to deserve all this loneliness. That thing I did was in leaving Rosa. Now, people will see me as a bad man and, inside?, I am a bad man. And there's no hiding from it.

Mind you, it's not all gloomy. After losing Rosa four years ago, I became utterly despondent and suicidal. Now, I'm simply miserable. In my position, you take whatever gains you can get. Misery is slightly better than despondency and you don't have the energy to kill yourself.
Homicide Relief...

As we all know, every day of our lives is filled with its miseries. For some of us, they are little. For others, they are big. And sometimes they vary.

When you have one of those days when the world conspires against you, wouldn't it be better if someone would just kill you? You'd have a lot less to worry about, fewer things to remember, and you wouldn't have to watch that look of glee people get just before forcibly inserting a plunger handle into a hard to reach area.

But I've notice something and that is that people just aren't willing to kill you. No matter how much you might want them to, they'd much rather avoid that.

"Ken, you're going to be stuck at this dead-end job for the rest of your life."

"Can't you just kill me, instead?"

No, they don't kill you. They'd rather see you suffer. And so you continue through this maze of misery that is life, never seeing around the next bend where dangers that maim but never, ever kill await you.

How can we end this vicious cycle? It's really quite simple. If each of us would kill one person each day, there'd be a lot less suffering, a lot less misery. (Heck, you could spend a week on just one family and not have to look for anyone else!) Eventually, this homicide relief would catch on and groups all over the country - and around the world - would be helping those in misery without even having to be asked.

Contribute today to Homicide Relief. Your contribution of a severed head or disemboweled, um, bowel could help end the cycle of misery that life brings so many of us. Do it today.



(Homicide Relief and the Homicide Relief Fund are divisions of KillCo and are not endorsed by the My Side Foundation. The My Side Foundation promotes the regular donation of your entire income to Ken La Salle and not random killing sprees.... not random ones, at least...)

Friday, March 12, 2004

Getting beat up like the good old days...

When I was a kid, I got beat up a lot.

Imagine if you will, Ken as a nine year-old. At about five feet tall, I weighed all of 90 pounds... if that. I wore thick glasses, my clothes came from goodwill, and my hair (cut by a woman who had no idea how to cut hair - my mom) was never in place.

There was a big kid who lived down the street, just between my house and John Adams Elementary, where I went to school. He was easily a foot taller than I but probably was not yet in high school. He was fat, but I never thought of him as fat. I always thought of him as dangerous. Several times, he got me. He'd drag me behind a bush where no one could see and he'd beat on me as I cried. I think he liked the crying.

Later, I learned to be tough.

But even at 38 years old, you still get beat up.

Last night at rehearsal, I took a bit of damage. Unfortunately, when you're staging fights things can happen. When you're staging fights with female actors who get so far into their roles that they go a bit psycho... well...

At one point, she was supposed to come at me with a knife. I was supposed to grab the knife. She stabbed my hand.

At another point, we were supposed to fight for the knife and she stepped on my foot with high heels.

She was supposed to throw a big magazine at my back. She hit the side of my head.

She punched me in the stomach.

... can't wait for the next rehearsal...

Mind you, I'd arrived in a bad mood. I'd already taken a beating that was far worse.

As you may know, I work for a computer networking firm... let's call them... D-Linksis... not to be confused with Dukakis... (The name has only been changed to protect me, not those pricks.)

I was hired here four years ago. I took the job because 1) I needed a job to move out of the house with Rosa (boy, that turned out to be quite the decision) and 2) it was a job writing marketing material, something I'd been trying to get into. So, I took the job and Victor, the evil overlord, said that I would be the person writing the marketing material... but right now things are slow on that side. Can you do tech writing?

Sure, I said. I can try it. Little did I realize what I was in for.

So, I ended up writing mostly technical documentation and less and less marketing material. Then, I was put in charge of the tech team. Then, I was fired for that job for trying to do my job (and because someone accused me of sexual harassment - something which anyone who knows me KNOWS I wouldn't do)...

A couple of years ago, Mike came in as Director of Marketing. He moved me further into tech writing.

Then, all of a sudden, we had a contract for a radio commercial. No one here could write radio commercials... except ME! So, I wrote it. And they loved it.

I wrote nine more in the past two years, still strapped to my tech writing desk.

Yesterday, I had my yearly review for my 5% annual raise (if I'm really, really, really lucky). Mike said I was the best writer there and that my marketing writing (which only counted as 3% of my job) was the best.

I returned to my desk.

"Look at this," my neighbor said to me.

Posted on our job site is a Marketing Communications Specialist position. His job? Write marketing material - commercials and shit!

I went back in to Mike's office and said, in effect, "Mike, this is what I was hired to do. You said yourself that my marketing writing is good. Can I apply for this position?"

He didn't have to speak. Sometimes, you can tell from a person's posture what they're going to say. "Well, um, huh, um, er," honestly - he said this, "I, um, you see, er, huh, uh, um - NO." The NO was just like that, loud and certain. "Or, you can but I'd throw it away."

"Okay," I said slowly, reeling. "Why?"

"I want someone from an ad agency."

My gut was tight. I got up. It just didn't seem real. I turned back to him. "Is that it?"

"Yes. I'm sorry but you don't have enough experience to do this. I want someone who does this for a living."

My "pissed off" meter was bursting. "And to think, you don't even having your dancing shoes on," I said.

So, I can't do the job I've been doing because I don't have experience in doing what I've been doing.

I learned a long time ago not to cry when someone is hurting you.

Still, I wonder what I'm going to do. This has become the definition of the dead-end job. They have me where they want me. They're not going to let me out. I'll never move beyond tech writer here. After four years, it's pretty clear.

Yes, this is scary.

And, yes, I want to cry.

Where the hell's Rosa?

Thursday, March 11, 2004

It's nice to see the media being honest...

For longest time, the media has been so far inside Shrub's pocket, they could detect a bulge. Now, they're actually telling us when he lies... and lies... and lies...

Now, I'm no great supporter of Kerry. I think he's only just left of Shrub - but at least it's left. In the last election, the media went so far as to report the right's lies as truth (Remember Gore "invented" the Internet?), now they seem to be shifting to the other side. This might bode well for Kerry.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Understudy...

To quote a song: Oh, what a night!

Last night was "costume fitting night". At the theater we were each called, one by one, to try on various costumes to see which one(s) worked best. My luck: I wasn't called until after 10pm!

This was only supposed to take an hour, from 7-8pm. It took much longer. Mind you, we still had plenty to do.

I ran my scene with Clair, the girl who plays Stella. Have I mentioned that she's proof of the divine? I could stare at that girl for hours without moving... okay, that's an understatement. I'd jump on her. Sadly, we only have one short scene alone together and no kissing. Dammit!

Robert, the Inspector, and I ran our scene. He was rather displeased that I was off book but, as I told him, he has most of the lines in the scene. Of course, he'd need, want, and deserve more time to memorize his lines!

This was the night I was also going to give smoking lessons. Yes, smoking lessons. The Julies (Stephanie and Michelle) have to smoke and didn't know what to do, how to hold it, etc. Enter your friendly, neighborhood cancer-man.

Then, Teri (our director) asked me to run my scene with Stephanie's understudy, Michelle. Stephanie, you'll recall, plays my mistress. I have no problem kissing her. She's cute.

Okay, this is where I'm gonna sound like a pig. You're going to hate me. Thankfully, only two people read this and when I read it later, I'm sure I won't be too offended. Here's the deal: the understudy, Michelle, isn't cute. Okay? In fact, I don't find her at all attractive. This is my prerogative. We all judge what is attractive and what isn't - and it's easier to play kissy-face with someone you think is attractive! Pretend this woman is my mistress? I wouldn't want to pretend she was my plumber... however much more she'd fit that part.

"Are we going to be kissing?" she asked.

I tried not to cringe... on the outside.

"I guess that's up to you." No, never, I thought.

"Okay," she said. "Let's kiss."

Oh, great. Please. Let's.

We have two kisses. One tentative. One (as the script puts it) "proper".

I moved in for the tentative kiss...

... and moved back right away, beginning my line.

Then, the proper kiss came. I'm leaning against a desk and she's supposed to move in. She plants her feet on either side of the leg with which I'm bracing myself. "Do you want me to straddle you?" she asked.

I didn't take the bait. You'd be amazed at how self-controlled I am when I have to be.

During this kiss, she's supposed to sit back on the arm of a sofa... but I couldn't get her to move back. I was literally pushing her! She broke from the kiss. "What?" she asked. "You need to end up back there," I told her. "Oh. Let's try it again.

Take two.

This time, she moved in, put on hand behind my head... and proceeded to attempt a tonsillectomy!

It was an aborted attempt!

"I've got an idea," I said, getting around her in a move that made me think I really should have played football. "The sofa's too far away. Why don't we start moving before the kiss?" "How?" she asked. Thank god I can think on my feet. Quickly, I choreographed it.

Take three.

"Are you ready?" she asked.

"Whenever you are."

"Wait," she said, taking off her sweater. "You make me so hot."

Grand Canyon, where are you when I need you?

If only Rosa could see me now, I thought, she'd laugh!

As she pushed her mouth on mine, I pushed her backwards. Got to get to the sofa, I thought. Her mouth began to open. Sofa! Sofa! Just as I felt something wet on my lips - BUMP! I planted her ass on the sofa like a 757 without engines.

"Wanna do that again?" she asked in a way that made me understand what it's like when you're about to be raped.

"Smoking lessons," I cried out. "Let's go do the smoking lessons!"

I grabbed a cigarette from the stage, one of Christie's (Karen's) Virginia Slims, along with the box of matches and ran.

And you bet I smoked!

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

A year ago...

I've been clearing out my emails... I have this weird habit where I keep my emails for one year and then clear them out, archiving the extra-special and deleting the tedious. Anyway, so I've been clearing out emails from last year.

A year ago, it looked like Rosa and I would be back together again.

Today, she won't even talk to me.

A year ago, I'd started making plans, seeing a brighter future.

Today, I'm alone.

A year ago, I was beginning to see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I was beginning to see happiness again.

Today? Misery.

It's winter in Southern California...

Hello to all you folks in more desolate regions... and all the ships at sea...

Just wanted to let you know that we here in Southern California are in the middle of... summer! Yes, it's in the high-70's today and will be in the high-70's to low-80's for the next week or so.

If you're experiencing snow or hail or ice or just crappy conditions, consider beautiful Orange County, California... also consider that wherever you are, people probably have far more character.
It's too late to change anything and there's no going back...

God, I'm tired this morning. Went to sleep after 1am... woke up at 7am... okay, I know that's, technically, about six hours of sleep but let's not forget it was after a very full day. Rehearsals are getting more intense as we get closer to opening - only about two weeks to go.

I worry about Teri (the director's) scheduling. She wants us off book (lines memorized) for the whole play by next week. With only one week off book before we open, well, I worry that the lines won't be solid in people's minds. That often results in mishaps of the most embarrassing kind.

I say she wants us off book for the whole play by next week because the schedule is staggered. We need to be off book for Act Two next week. Last night, we needed to be off book for Act One. (I don't get the logic. It would seem to me that Act One would be better memorized as a result.)

So, we were running Act One quite a bit last night.

In the midst of it, I have one line that goes, "I want you to forget tonight. Forget it now, while you can. It's too late to change anything and there's no going back."

First time we ran it, I said, "I want you to forget tonight. Forget it now, while you can. There's... It's... something about... LINE!"

Second run: "I want you to forget tonight now. Forget it... while you can?"

Third run: "I want you to forget tonight..." My leading lady, Christie, smiled and said in that desperate, British voice of hers, "But darling!" "Forget it now... while you still can!" I was getting pretty damned frustrated by this time and she looked like she was about to break into tears of laughter. I locked eyes with her. "There's nothing... it's too late... There's no - FUCK! LINE!" And that was it. We both collapsed into each other's arms, laughing our heads off.

Only about two weeks to go... hopefully I'll remember that line by then.

Monday, March 08, 2004

"MOTHER F*$CK SON OF A B!TCH!" Otherwise known as "I chipped my tooth"...

Last night, I had my first steak since November... actually, my first beef since November.

So, there I was - chomp chomp chomp. I'd sautéed onions and peppers and mushrooms and zucchini. The steak was from Whole Foods so it wouldn't have MAD COW(!) and all the other icky stuff beef has. I'd even cooked the steak in bites so they'd be like the steak bites in Portland.

It was, as they say, all good.

Halfway through, I bit into the steak. It was on the fork. My teeth touched the fork - they just touched it! - and suddenly the loudest crack I'd ever heard was echoing inside my head and reverberating through my skull!!


I'm talking PAIN here!!

My mouth was stunned and my hands were holding my face. I felt like I broke my jaw! I ran into the bathroom and began to pull things out of my mouth: steak, pepper, a piece of tooth!

In the mirror, I could see one of my front teeth looking all snaggly and warped - splintered up one side.

Okay, I'm better now but it's still there.

So, my question today is, what do I do? I think I should go to the dentist. Am I right on this? I've never chipped a tooth before and I really hope it never happens again!
The Next BIG thing...

To some of you this might be old news.

I know what I'll be doing after "Something to Hide". I dreamed it.

It started with the opening beats of "Ice Ice Baby" ("Under Pressure") - it was a movie trailer. Kate Hudson played the girlfriend. The boyfriend was either Ben Aflack (or however you spell it) or Jack Black - I know they're very different! It was a dream, all right??? His sister was played with Joan Cusack.

I decided I need to write this. It's called "Falling Together" (a title I love because of all the connotations) and it's a romantic comedy about two people who can't stand each other as much as they can't stand being apart from each other.

It'll be my first screenplay. What business do I have writing a screenplay? I don't know anyone in "the biz"! Am I nuts.

I think we established that long ago.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted.
The weekend edition of My Side...

A (Alan) hale and (Oliver) hardy good morning to you...

It was... a weekend.

Actually, I have quite a bit to report but I won't mention the two biggest things in this entry. They rate entries of their own.

Let's start with this morning.

Chris, the handsome guy at work who (fortunately for him) has a personality, asked me to get coffee with him this morning. It's just a walk to the breakroom, not that far. "What's up with the Angela's Ashes haircut, dude?" he asked in that "I'm full of shit and you like me" way he has. Okay, so I hadn't styled my hair this morning.

"So, you know how I told you things had been barren as far as women go?" His tone was conspiratorial, as if I was on the inside and I was privy to things others weren't. "Barren? It's a fucking desert. It's the Sarengeti of Procreation. And that's a knock against the Sarengeti - things live there." I wanted to tell him you're more likely to witness sea mammals playing basketball on the moon than to find a woman interested in me - then, he launched into this story about a girl he met at a bar and how he didn't come on to her, she came on to him, and how they ended up at the beach, tearing off each other's clothes and -

His telling was a lot more detailed but I'd long stopped listening. I thought, "What would have happened if that was me? Would I have wanted to talk - get to know her? Ruin the passion with intellect? Is this why women keep me at arms distance, because they...."

And then, he said, "Don't tell this to anyone, okay? I'm trying to get in good with Gaelle's friend." Who is Gaelle's friend, I wondered. I couldn't get past Gaelle, the lovely french girl at work who is tragically devoted to her boyfriend.

I'd come into work this morning wearing jeans. Our dress code had changed and all mention of "Wearing Jeans ist Verbotten!" and "Jean Wearers Must Die!" had been removed. I wasn't intentionally testing the waters, mind you. The thing is, I was supposed to iron last night and I hadn't. Actually, I was supposed to do a lot yesterday I didn't do. After a pretty darned good first half of the weekend, yesterday, I sat in my apartment like someone hit by a bus. I couldn't really move. I just lit cig after cig, hoping the time would pass. Oh, it did and I got very little done. I just felt so alone - so isolated.

So, hearing Chris's story really helped, you know?

I was still stuck in the whirl I'd been put in after watching "Sabrina" last night. It's one of my favorite movies - either version. I'd watched the Sydney Pollack version, which I think is much more lyrical than the original. It's also terribly sad. So, of course, I'd bawled my eyes out last night, thinking about (You now have ten seconds to think of who this mystery person might be...... time's up) Rosa. And a thought occurred to me which repeated even at Chris impressed me with his effortless charm.

Who am I? I'm just a guy who lost his wife.

That's all I am. It defines me today just as much as my marriage did so many years ago.

This depression really sucked, especially after spending Friday night to Saturday night down in San Diego and telling Tim how much better I'd been doing. Tim and I were supposed to run lines - you know, for the play... so I could do it... so I wouldn't fuck up... We ended up sitting around bullshiting mostly, only running lines once.

Okay, so I'm a flake.

I'd left for San Diego, where Tim lives, right after work on Friday. As I'd been getting ready to go, I had asked Annie, one of our graphic artists, what she had planned for her weekend. "More stress," she said, referring to her ongoing househunt. She sees it as stress, which is too bad because it could be so enjoyable. She's a slight woman with this smile that shines like the sun coming out from behind the moon. I remembered looking for a house with Rosa and how much I loved being there with her.

I just saw Annie a few minutes ago and we spoke briefly. All conversations with me are brief because I, well, I don't have Chris's easy charm.

I'm just a guy who lost his wife.

I'm surrounded by ghosts - the ghosts of Rosa. And I can't see past them and see the real people they hide. I'm seeing the world through Rosa filters and I wear it like a shroud.

Is it any wonder I'm not charming like Chris?

Friday, March 05, 2004

I'll say it again. "I ain't no stand-up comic!" ... waka waka...

Okay, so I didn't get saved from this audition, after all! Kevin, of Ask Kevin Productions, called again last night and said that I shouldn't worry about being in a show. He'd work around my schedule, blah blah blah - he just really wanted to get me in there for auditions.

Now, I don't know what the hell this guy has ever seen me in. I don't know where he got the idea for me to be in an improv group.

And I'm flattered. Can I just say that? I'm flattered.

Stupefied, actually.

So, I get this message last night after rehearsal and I just don't know what to think. (See previous paragraph.) So, I called Tim and talked to him about it. Then, I fell asleep on my sofa. (I've been working toooooo hard lately!)

Back when I was with Rosa, I'd look at her and say, "What should I do?" And she'd tell me. She was so good at that and I was so grateful. I really miss having a partner, someone to lean on when I wasn't sure.

Nowadays, I'm never sure.

Later, however, after one in the morning when I woke up, I got to thinking about it. Aside from the obvious issues of "Am I funny enough?" there's something else going on here.

I've been told I'm very talented by a great many people. I honestly believe that word is thrown around far too injudiciously; people should just shut the hell up. Assuming for a moment, however, that they're not full of shit (they are), one thing I've always lacked is FOCUS.

Years ago, it was "I wanna be an actor". This was followed with "I wanna be a writer". Then, it was "I wanna be a rock and roll star". This turned into "I wanna be a director". The next thing up was "I wanna be a painter". This went on for years and years. Towards the end of the last century, and God that makes me feel old, I axed a lot of these to give me time to do, at least, one of them. I'd spread myself too thin and couldn't do anything because I was too busy pursuing all things. I focused on my writing.

I wrote many books and, after Rosa, I couldn't even look at them. They were tied to Rosa just as much as I was.

So, I started writing and performing monologues. Then, I went into acting. This brought me into writing plays. This brought me into directing. Now, here comes improv.


Let's face it, I can't keep spreading myself so thin! I've got to finish this show. I want to write another play. I've got this book with Rich... which I have yet to see but that's beside the point...

I just don't have time for anything else. Not now.

I'm not saying "Never". I'm saying "Not now".

We'll see.



... until then... this horse walks into a bar and the bartender asks him, "Why the long face?"
And if you needed another opinion...

Hans Blix, former chief weapons inspector over in Iraq, has declared the Shrub's war in Iraq illegal.

So, if you're thinking of re-election Shrub into office for his "take-charge attitude" and "high morals", go kill yourself.




(Note: My Side does not endorse suicide for political ends, only for entertainment. When we say "go kill yourself", we mean "go hit your head with a hammer until you can't lift your arm cause, hey, your underdeveloped grey matter is only extra baggage, isn't it?")
Sometimes, I don't even need to make a sarcastic remark...

You know how they use to say "Act your age"? Well...

March 5, 2004 | WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) -- A dispute at the salad bar turned into a food fracas at an upscale retirement home, with a man taking a bite out of another's arm and other residents suffering minor injuries.

Police said resident Lee Thoss, 62, of the Spring Haven Retirement Community was picking through the lettuce, which disgusted 86-year-old William Hocker, who was standing in line behind him.

Hocker told Thoss no one wanted to eat food he had been playing with. Thoss yelled and cursed at him, Hocker told police, and Hocker called him a nasty name. Then, witnesses said, Thoss then began punching Hocker in the face.

In the buffet melee that followed, Allen Croft, 79, tried to grab Thoss, who bit him on the arm, reports said.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

How being a bastard saved me from being a moron... (on stage, at least)...

Yesterday, I got a call from Kevin of Ask Kevin Products. Thankfully, I was out because he was calling to invite me to audition for The Cherry Spitz Fanclub, an improv group here in Orange County. If I'd been there, I probably wouldn't have had the guts to say no. He left me a voicemail... and I called him back.

I'm not particularly good at improvisation. Actually, and sadly, when forced to improvise, I often fall back on my family sense of humor, which is non-existent and, well, fucking stupid. Nobody in my family is funny; I'm just lucky enough to realize it.

(Note to any family members: Fine. Okay. You're a freaking clown show! But you're not funny enough to actually be entertaining, okay? And this is the point - neither am I!)

Thankfully, I'll be working on this show for the next two months. Busy. Very busy! Ah.... darn.... (he says, wiping sweat from his brow)
It's starting...

Last night, I got a taste of Howard - the character I'm playing in Something to Hide - and I didn't like it one bit.

Karen charged at me. I grabbed her wrist. I shouted, "Let Go!" and threw her to the ground. My hand had a grip like iron around hers as I forced it to the ground.

Immediately, I broke character - broke free of character is more like it - backed up, and said, "Oh, god. I'm sorry."

Christi, the actress playing Karen, said, "No. That was good."

Actors are the strangest breed of people.

I hate violence and hate that it could come so easily. When Rosa and I were together, she was more likely to be violent. I was more likely to lose my temper, but I'd hit a wall or something long before I'd hit a person. More likely that not, I'd take a walk or just yell. I was never a fighter, never mean.

Now this.


Tonight, we'll be going over the big mistress scene. Things will be getting physical in a different way. We're talking about lots of kissing, which we'll probably start doing tonight. The woman cast as my mistress, Stephanie (the actress's name), I don't mind kissing. She's something of a hottie. Then, there's her understudy... who I couldn't be less attracted to if she was covered with ants.

You could say I have mixed emotions.

And I can't help but find it funny that after all these years, I still get really nervous about kissing someone on stage. Why? Hell, I don't know. To put it bluntly, I know I'm a good kisser. I have documented evidence. I've destroyed marriages and shattered nations with my lips... kinda... I really have nothing to worry about on that front.

And it's not because I worry about giving some poor woman only a taste of the greatness that will soon be taken from her that I get nervous. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I guess it's the whole "kissing without emotion" thing. It's probably the reason why I could never sleep around - as much as I might LOVE TO! - unlike most men, I need something there. Otherwise, it's an empty experience. More than empty. Uncomfortable. I feel like I shouldn't be doing that.

Who knows. Maybe once Howard starts to take over, I won't care how empty it is.

It's better than hurting them.
Should I stay or should I go...

More play news in a minute. But first, let's take another peak at Ken's ever-crumbling psyche... it's right there... behind the chips and salsa...

Wait. (crunch!) Mmmmm.... chips and salsa!

Karrie heard from her oncologist. The mass that they removed was found to be benign. No cancer there! Great! Cause for celebration!


So, then, why am I so troubled? Is it because my easy out has been taken from me - defeat snatched by the hands of victory, so to speak?

We've been emailing. Yesterday, she mentioned how she's tired of sitting around the house and wants to go out. (Mind you, she was supposed to be bed-ridden for one month. After three days, she was out of bed.) Before I realized what I was doing, I had sent her an email, asking if she'd like to go out Friday.

Where's the ball-peen hammer hitting you in the head when you need it?

Of course, I'm so busy scrutinizing my motivations that I don't have any chance of knowing what the hell I'm doing. I know I don't feel any real attraction to her... at least, I don't think so... is it because she's not Rosa?... is it because, if anything happens with her, that means nothing's going to happen with Rosa?... nothing will happen with Rosa, you schmuck!... I know I like her... but...

So, there I am, kicking and screaming. I haven't a clue as to what I'm kicking and scream at or why. I kind of wish I did.

It's annoying.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The Girl with the Knife...

Last night... another night of rehearsal... another in the continuing exercise in masochism that is Howard Holt, my character in Something to Hide.

I'm on stage with Karen (actually, it's Christie - the character's name is Karen) and I reveal the BS (er, Big Secret). She picks up a knife and runs at me with it...

See, the blocking had her picking up the knife and taking a few steps my way. I would then take her arm - the arm that held the knife - and say, "Let go."

She picked up the knife and ran at me and I - who surprisingly did not scream and run - grabbed her arm and yelled, "Let go!!" - the knife only inches from my face!

Nothing will get you into character like a knife about to be plunged into you!

I thought I got immersed in a role. This woman meant business!!!

Sure, thankfully, we were using construction scissors instead of a real knife and they were so dull they wouldn't cut paper but she was using them with intent! I'd never been so scared of construction scissors in my life!

... and I dread to think what will happen when that's a real knife!

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Monday, Monday...

Da da, da da da da....

(cough) Excuse me.

I went into my boss's office today and said, "Mike, I've found a way for us to save time and money to such a degree that I think a raise might just be in order." Then, I told him.

And he said - in the most unimpressed voice I've heard since the last time I told anyone I was an actor - "That's right. I've got to do your review before May."

I could barely walk out before my face slid off my skull.

That night, rehearsal. Again! Things have been getting progressively worse as we get further along in the play and my character gets progressively worse. As I've mentioned, this is a bad man. What makes it worse is that Teri does not want me to play him evil. It's easier to play a person as evil than to play rotten and Teri won't let me take the easy way out.

So, last night was spent beating my wife in the play, Karen.

And by the time it was over, I was ready to hurl. My stomach was upset. My head was frazzled.

I took Teri aside after and told her all about my feelings for this character. I said, "I hate this character." And after that, there was no stopping me. Out came this stream of vitriol and fear. Thankfully, Teri understood and she says she'll help me as much as she can.

She said, "I know you like to immerse yourself into a character, and that has to make this rather uncomfortable."

That took me by surprise. "You do? Did I tell you that?"

"No," she replied. "I see you doing it already."

Right then, the floor came up, danced on my shoulders, and shook me by the scruff of the neck.

I'm already doing it? I'm already becoming Howard Holt?


Sometimes I wish I was better at denial because I'd save myself a lot of time going right into stark terror. A voice in the back of my head said, "What happens now, Ken? How paper-thin is your will that a fictional character can take it over? Think he'll have the guts to jump?" Over the canyon.

Then, I told her I'd do my best, went out to my car, and drove home.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Weekends make you vomit...

Yep. It's clear. A battery of scientists spent years studying this very issue and it's true! (Granted that by "scientist" I mean "people who took science classes" and by "studying" I mean "drank a lot".) Weekends make you vomit!

And I didn't, though I should have.

I spend most of Saturday cleaning my apartment after a night where sleep didn't sound like something I needed to do. Hey, I didn't want to sleep and I didn't need to go to work the next day - the two just spell "all-nighter" to me! So, I woke up early and cleaned. I cleaned because I knew Tim was coming up from San Diego... and that the place would be a sty by the time he left!

I picked him up Saturday night, brought him to my place where Keith was already waiting, and we proceeded to drink.

And drink.

And drink.

Aaaaaaand drink.

And drink.

And drink. And drink. And drink. And drink........

Keith and Tim had stopped by the second "And drink" but I'd kept going. I hadn't been really hammered in a while and I owed myself a fantastic hangover.

Well... I got it. I woke up Sunday at 11am - Tim had been up for hours - and I could barely move. A shower helped - but I'm really thinking crack cocaine would've done the trick much faster.

So, when Sunday afternoon came around, I was feeling a bit better. We went to Sean's, whose cats I was taking care of while he and Megan were in Vegas for the weekend, and began running lines.

... and I sucked. Paint and "L" on me - I'm a LOSER! Shit! Three weeks before we open, I've got nothing! I was so mad at myself! Not only that but something else was going on in the back of my mind and I didn't know what.

Thankfully, around the time I was sick of doing an awful job at remembering my lines, the Oscar pre-show began and Tim and I watched it before watching the Oscars. Damn, that show went on! We got back to my place after 10pm and, after that long, post-hangover day, I was bushed.

But it was too early to wrap up the evening! (When will the day come when I realize I'm no longer 20 years old?????)

Anyway, there was something on my mind that I needed to work out. So, we sat and talked and drank a bottle of wine... and more vodka! Maybe it helped - I don't know - because things started to come out I hadn't thought of before.

I hate acting. I'm no fan of my own meager talent and would much rather sit and write. I love writing... um, can you tell? Acting is very difficult for me and takes a great emotional toll. I tend to immerse myself into a role. Often, I immerse myself to such an extent that I lose track of Ken. As a result of this, I ended up dating Julie back in high school, my leading lady in "Skin of Our Teeth". I played her husband and couldn't leave that after the role ended. Sherryl and I ended up having our very strange and emotional relationship after we played ex-spouses (Spices?) in "40 Carats". So, I immerse. And I don't look forward to that. My character, Howard Holt, is a pretty bad man. I do bad things on stage, things, like physically fighting with a woman, that I would never do... this is not someone I wish to become. I'm doing thing to help define the line that divides us. He has a different voice. He's left handed.

As a result, once a show is over, I go through a period of depression because of this tremendous loss I feel. After "40 Carats", I cried for days. After "Three Days of Rain", I had a nervous breakdown. This is my toughest role since "Three Days" and I worry what will happen afterwards.

So, there's this immersion and this loss and I realize that this part frightens me. Then, I tell Tim that I'm not nearly as good as they need. The director's made a mistake casting me. I'll never meet her expectations.

And if I do, there will be this expectation from now on because I've realized that I have an opportunity here for some great work. It's too bad I'm not a good actor. It's too bad I'm going to let everyone down.

And so, the things kept piling up and piling up. Is it any wonder I can't remember my lines? Is it any wonder I'm fighting this?

But I have to do it. I have to do my best because something I fear even more than all of that is making an idiot of myself in front of people. That is something I cannot do!

It all made me want to vomit.