Friday, April 30, 2004

US... We're the good guys... Remember???... NO???...


(Thanks again to This Modern World)

Graphic photographs showing the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners in a US-run prison outside Baghdad emerged yesterday from a military inquiry which has left six soldiers facing a possible court martial and a general under investigation.
The scandal has also brought to light the growing and largely unregulated role of private contractors in the interrogation of detainees.

According to lawyers for some of the soldiers, they claimed to be acting in part under the instruction of mercenary interrogators hired by the Pentagon.


Lawyers for the soldiers argue they are being made scapegoats for a rogue military prison system in which mercenaries give orders without legal accountability.

A military report into the Abu Ghraib case - parts of which were made available to the Guardian - makes it clear that private contractors were supervising interrogations in the prison, which was notorious for torture and executions under Saddam Hussein.

One civilian contractor was accused of raping a young male prisoner but has not been charged because military law has no jurisdiction over him.
Remind me again. We're the good guys???...

You really need to read this:

(Courtesy of NY Times and This Modern World)

American soldiers at a prison outside Baghdad have been accused of forcing Iraqi prisoners into acts of sexual humiliation and other abuses in order to make them talk, according to officials and others familiar with the charges.
The charges, first announced by the military in March, were documented by photographs taken by guards inside the prison, but were not described in detail until some of the pictures were made public.


The CBS News program reported that poorly trained American reservists were forcing Iraqis to conduct simulated sexual acts, among other things, in order to break down their will before they were turned over to others for interrogation.


In one photograph obtained by the program, naked Iraq prisoners are stacked in a human pyramid, one with a slur written on his skin in English. In another, a prisoner stands on a box, his head covered, wires attached to his body. The program said that according to the United States Army, he had been told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted. Other photographs show male prisoners positioned to simulate sex with each other.

"The pictures show Americans, men and women, in military uniforms, posing with naked Iraqi prisoners," states a transcript of the program's script, made available Wednesday night. "And in most of the pictures, the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing or giving the camera a thumbs-up."
Mutha's Day fo' all da bitches an' ho's!...

I'm in a bad mood. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Mother's Day is coming up. It's the day we celebrate the cervix, er, Mothers of the world... well, not the Mother's of the world - that would include Iraq and the mothers of "terrorists" (Republicans). It's the day we celebrate the Mother's we know... and like...

I'm probably taking my mom to lunch. It's a tradition we started three years ago, when I took her to Walt's Wharf in Seal Beach. But then, she asked to switched to Ruby's, a burger joint, because she didn't like me spending "all that money".

I'll probably be sending flowers out to Blanche. I'd take her too lunch, too... you know, if it wasn't for the whole "she lives in another state" thing.

This is also Rosa's first Mother's Day.

Okay! Okay! Quit yer bitchin! You knew I was going to mention Rosa! So, shut yer yaps!

Yes, I've been thinking about Rosa a lot lately. I can't help it! People admonish me as if I'd lost my favorite toothbrush. Folks, she was the love of my life, okay? Can you deal with that?! I have a right to mourn my loss.

Oh, sure. Four years is a bit extreme and even I get pissed off about it but there you are. I can't change how I feel, however much I'd like to!

This morning, I caught myself thinking about little things. The texture of her skin. The feeling of my hand on hers. The timbre of her voice. These are things I cannot really put into words.

With the passing of time, you'd think I'd feel less strongly about her but just the opposite is proving true. I find I love her and hate her both - and both for the same reason. I love her the way you might love a sunset or a fortunate piece of art; there's no longer a human quality there. She's stopped being a person to me - and can that be any surprise? And I hate her for so many reasons, one of them being that I love her.

Mind you, she doesn't know this. It's a kind of emotional pillaging that I'm doing to myself - and maybe it'll take another four years before it's through.

And when I walked into the building this morning to find out Mom's Day was approaching, I really needed it, you know?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Migraine... (Miwheat, myrye, mybarley)...

You're going to have to let me slide today. I have a migraine. I'm sitting at my desk with sunglasses on.

So this entry won't be nearly as funny or insightful or well put as... actually, it'll be about normal...

Well, I got my modem in only to learn I have to trojan viruses... what a pisser. More PC work a comin' up! (I can't wait for the money to get a new box!!!)

Here's a special note to Tim. (You see, I can't send him an email thanks to my virus and his puppy chewed his phone charger. This is the only way to get a message to him!) I'll be heading down to San Diego this weekend. I don't know if Keith's coming along but I know I'll be there.

Annie has asked me to be her spotter this Sunday. The situation reminds me very much of when I was dating Rosa. You see, she has tickets to Urinetown (Yes, that's the name of a play: LOOK!) on Sunday and if her date backs off, she doesn't want to eat the tickets. So, I'm her back-up, her spotter, which I'm happy to do. After all, any play with pee in it...

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Modem, Larrydom, and Curlydom...

As some of you may know, my DSL modem went down last week. Down for the count! It went down and stayed down!

I was supposed to receive a new one from Earthlink (boooo!) yesterday but it never appeared. I'm hoping for today.

So, what do you do when you don't have TV or cable OR DSL??? Here's my advice for the day:

1) Go grocery shopping. (For extra entertainment, bring a shopping bag!) There's bound to be a couple of things you need and, anyway, you might have a free ice cream coupon from your Working Assets phone bill that desperately needs cashing in. (Hey, I hadn't bought ice cream in two months!)

2) Stop by Taco Bell. Those 7-Layer burritos sure are tasty and chalk-full of veggie goodness so you don't have to feel bad or worry about MAD COW! Eat them with LOTS and LOTS of hot sauce and you'll have a surprise on your next visit to the bathroom!

3) Eat that Ben & Jerry's you got for free for using Working Assets as your long distance carrier! (No, this isn't a subliminal ad...) You know you love their ice cream. Chunky Monkey! Cherry Garcia! Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough! (droool....)

4) Watch Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom! Then again, don't. It sucks! It's worse than the last two Matrix films! Watch something really good, like Grand Hotel. Now there's a movie!

5) Play Civilization III. It's the best turn-based strategy game ever to hit a PC. You cannot resist!

6) Go outside and smoke a Camel cigarette. You only have so much time on this earth, why not spend it dying of cancer? Anyway, you deserve it for losing Rosa...

Give me a sign, God! Pick up a check!...

Okay, so I kind of stole that line from Woody Allen but that's okay. We're all friends here... right, Haywood?

Today, I thought I'd get you thinking about God. Though it's generally recognized that He* has a great sense of humor, not too many people are too sure about him*... and yet, we all have a clear sense of who we think he* is.

So, check this out and see what kind of God you believe in!

*And, yes, I refer to God as a man because only a man could have fucked things up this badly...
Stupid people at Vons...

So, I went to pick up a few groceries last night. During the strike, I started going to Stater Bros (who took care of their employees) and have gone there since but, for some reason, last night I hit Vons.

Big mistake.

I pick up a few things - cans of soup, apples, juice - and bring them to the register. I give the checker my groceries and my grocery bag. Yes. Grocery bag. You know, the kind you reuse. The kind that prevents a little waste. It's a bag you put groceries in.

I say this repeatedly because the guy at Vons didn't seem to get it.

"Paper or plastic," he asked.

"No, thanks," I replied. "I've got my bag." So, as the checker performed his complex calculations - passing food over a window - the bagger bagged.

I payed for my food when the checker was done and turned to the bagger - who had put all my groceries in a plastic bag. I couldn't comment; the bagger was walking away.

But where was my bag - my reusable bag - my enviornmentally friendly waste-preventing bag????

It sat next to my groceries, inside a plastic bag - all by itself.

I passed him as I exited, shaking my head at the hopelessness of humanity. His badge read, "Manager".

Of course.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Keith meets Karrie...

Women problems are the worst kind to have... especially when it's a problem of too few women!

Why do I always fall for the wrong kind of woman? The kind that doesn't want me!

So, last night, I went to the Laundromat to wash my bathroom throw-rug (also known as the "bathroom pee-rug" thanks to my damned cats). I had invited Keith along - it's a strange tradition we have of hanging out while the other does his laundry and gabbing - and went down to meet him.

As I pulled up in the lot, I saw a girl who looked exactly like Karrie... in fact, it was Karrie!

My reaction to her was immediately disappointing. Karrie and I always greet each other like old friends, there's never any longing or sense of romance... and after having Claire get under my skin, after feeling the electric thrill, as impossible as I knew that was... well, I knew that's what I wanted.

I had originally thought to give this thing with Karrie some time and hope things changed but it's been months now and nothing has changed... and I feel I'm being unfair to her.

So, we talked for a bit and Keith came over and we all had a nice time just sitting around outside, talking.

I always fall for the wrong kind of woman.
Another night of mares...

Wait... no, that's not right. It was another night of nightmares. (This guy who rights the titles ain't too good but he works cheap, so...)

I went to bed last night around 1am but was up at two in a panic. I don't remember the nightmare but it was a doozy; I shook as I walked from my bedroom to my front door and went outside for a cigarette. I didn't sleep for a couple hours after but, as 4am passed, I went back to bed.

The next thing I knew, I was walking up to my condo. It was in a nice complex; I was doing well for myself. Bandoo was sitting in the midst of a huge flowerpot I'd put outside the front door. I spoke to him for a second and turned to look at the balcony/walkway across from my own. Over there was Rosa.

Yes, another Rosa nightmare. These usually come in one of several different forms.
a) Rosa needs me
b) Rosa tortures me

This time, it was c) Rosa rejects me. As I'm sure you can understand, I've seen it before.

I called out to her. She was doing yoga stretches out there and looked up.

I was invited over and several friends came along. (Actually, they didn't seem like anyone I know but I did get the idea they were friends.) She had several people there, too, and I got the idea they were Michael's family.

We sat in her kitchen for a while, talking. I don't remember what led to it but at some point I asked if she would like to go out sometime.

She told me that was out of the question.

I looked on the wall and there was a painting of Rosa. And I realized for the first time that she looked just like Selma Hayak (or however you spell her name). I told her the painting was very good and Michael told me it had been done by some eminent artist.

"Why won't you have anything to do with me?" I asked.

"You still have a lot of issues," she replied.

Issues? I didn't seem like I had any. I wasn't poor if the condo was any indication. "What issues?"

"Relationship," she answered.

"Relationship? What type?" She hesitated. "What type? Personal? Business? Family?"

"Family," she answered.

"Well, then, let me tell you a little story about my mom and Keith and my dad and my brothers. Let me tell you about family."

She was obviously upset. "That's not all there is and you know it."

Michael stepped in. "Maybe you should let it go."

"No. Wait. You must see that there's nothing wrong with me. I can make you happy. Just give me a chance. What are the other issues. What?"

She protested, something about my not being satisfied no matter what she said.

"Why not take a chance? Tell you what: I guaranty that if my answers don't convince you I've changed, I won't press. Okay?"

But Rosa was gone.

"You'll have to go," Michael said to me as he, too, disappeared.

Michael's family came in and insisted that me and my friends leave. My friends were telling me I should go.

"But there's nothing wrong with me," I screamed.

It was that scream that woke me up, terrified, gasping for breath.

It was 5:21.

I thought I was through with this. What am I in for? Another round of nightmares? Has this been brought on by the play's ending? The return to my own Rosa-less existence?

I don't know... but I'm rather pissed off about it.

Monday, April 26, 2004

So, then, why didn't I go to the cast party?...

Stephanie was cleaning out her car, parked on the street in front of mine. She was making room to take people to the cast party.

I had told everyone that I couldn't go because I had to pick up my brother from the airport.

With the sun shining down on us and the beautiful Newport shore to my right, she leaned towards me and asked, conspiratorially, "Are you really heading to the airport or did you just say that to get out of going?"

I just smiled and said, "Weeelllll...."

"You should go," she said.

She was right, of course. The despair of isolation is a snake lunching on its own tail. I should have gone.

But I couldn't.

I didn't notice Claire at the first rehearsal, when we read the script and I began to catch a glimpse of what I was in for. I didn't notice her until over a week later. She came into rehearsal early. I was always there early because I work just up the street (so to speak). So, we sat there and talked.

You see, before that, I just thought she was another attractive girl. My prodigious years have taught me to discount looks for the most part. I've known too many beautiful idiots in my day.

But, as we spoke, well... I learned she wasn't an idiot... and I became interested.

So, weeks of rehearsal passed and I got to know her a bit better.

Then, a few days before we opened, I read the show's programs that had just come in from the printers. I read that Clair was 18 years old.

Okay! Okay! Yes, I felt like an old perv - an old idiot! Moreover, I was pretty damned mad. I haven't met someone who so got under my skin since DeAnna! (Though I dated Rosa just a year ago, I count her before DeAnna since, you know, we were married and all...) Now, this 18 year old was getting under my skin! It pissed me off! I was mad at the universe!

I reacted as best I could. I stayed away from her.

Then, she came to me and asked me to read something she'd written. It was the old, "I heard you're a writer. Could you read this for me and tell me what you think?" Sure. Twist my arm.

I was hoping it would suck. It would have helped to see something negative about her - even if it was as small and silly as poor grammar - so that, maybe, I would stop sighing so damned much! Much to my sadness and delight, though, it was written superbly, with mature, witty observations and concise points.

Just great.

She had told me she was training to be a classical singer and when I finally heard her sing, she sang like an angel. A fucking angel!!

Things were just getting worse and worse.

Thankfully, though, the show was coming to an end. I started counting down. Between dealing with the Inspector's assholiness and Christi's unpredictability and Purcell's constant inquiries about the kissing scene and Howard Holt's vice-grip on my identity, I needed to be rid of this siren! This 18 year old siren!!!

And so it was that Saturday night, the cast went to a party at the Inspector's house. (Actually, it was at the home of the actor who played the Inspector, but you know that.) For a while, we sat outside, around a fire pit. I tried to stay away from there because the firelight only made her seem more beautiful. I tried looking up but only marveled at how the stars had put themselves back up in the sky after falling to the ground after losing Rosa. I went inside. Soon, Claire came in and, as Purcell had set up a karaoke machine (someone kill the inventor!), she began to sing from "Phantom of the Opera". The voice of an angel. Then, as other people sang, she sat across from me and I swear we began exchanging glances across the room... across a crowded room...

Okay. Look. I know my contact with reality is hardly on a first-name basis. Not only did losing Rosa drive me down a road called "Insanity" from which I've only begun the return trip but acting plays trick with my identity, rationality, and even my shoe size! But I swear she kept looking at me and smiling.

I backed up so far, I was halfway up the wall.

Then, Teri, our director, asked me to sing. Quickly, I had to choose a song. It couldn't be a love song - I'd sing it to her. And it couldn't be a loud song - I'd shatter their windows. I picked "Doctor, My Eyes". Eyes? Eyes? I could feel her eyes even as I knew there was no way she could be interested in me. (Stop it, Ken. Reality's going to stop returning phone calls!) I finished the song and it didn't take long for me to realize I should go. Actually, it took the next song, which was "Sweet Caroline". I put my hand up and said, "I'm leaving!" Claire said, "I should go, too."

You know how, sometimes, you scream out loud in your head? No? Well, I do. This was one of those times! Imagine, if you will, Ken walking Clair out to her car on a romantic evening. Now, imagine Ken making a complete and utter fool of himself. NO! DON'T WANT THAT! NOT AGAIN!

I'm not saying I ran out. I'm not saying that.

I was exhausted when I got home but I couldn't sleep. For the first time in years, an image of a woman flashed before my eyes and her name pounded in my ears to the beat of tribal drums and it wasn't ROSA.

It was CLAIRE!

This is why scotch is my friend. After a few glasses, I passed out on my sofa.

Sunday was closing day... and I got to the theater late... and slightly hung over. Walking in, the first person I saw was Claire.

It would not be a good day. I stayed far away from her, hiding away and telling my brain to shut the hell up. The sight of her set off a million explosions in my head. The sound of her voice made my ears melt. Every second near her made me want to kneel before her.

Get me the hell out of here, I kept thinking. Soon, the show was over and we began to strike the set. Wherever she was, I made sure I wasn't. Whatever she did, I did something else. I even started moving flats (big slaps of set, you might say) to stay away from her. No such luck - because as I held one, she turned a corner and appeared in front of me. She looked in my eyes, though she spoke to someone else. "You should do it," she was saying. "Life's too short. You never know when you'll have another chance."

No letter opener in my chest hurt so much. I needed to get the hell out.

I made ready my departure. One last thing remained, checking in our costumes, and our costumer arrived shortly. She joked about certain costume items she'd make sure no one took home. Like my smoking jacket, I said. "Yeah," Claire teased, "cause that was hot." She smiled at me and her eyes glittered and I could see us tossing witty banter back and forth with the stars above us and the world at our feet.

I had to leave. I made my excuses and bolted.

"Are you really heading to the airport or did you just say that to get out of going?" Stephanie asked me.


"You should go."

"I can't."

"Why -"

"It doesn't have anything to do with you."

"You should tell me."

"I just did," I replied with a smirk.

"Why you can't go, you moron."

"Tell you what," I said. "I'll email you."

So, I'm not sending this to her via email. Now, you all know.

I couldn't go to that party and look at Claire for one more minute without losing my sense of right and wrong and making a terrible mistake. And I don't feel bad about it because I didn't do the right thing. I did do the right thing. Sometimes doing the right thing just ain't much fun, is all.
Nothing left to hide...

"Something to Hide" ended this weekend.

We will now observe a moment of silence.

Wow. Look at that. Pretty cool, huh? Yes, and so quiet.

... um, where was I?

Whenever a play ends, it's my tradition/habit/ritual to look back at some of the low/highlites of the whole experience. So, why should this be any different?

As you may remember, I got into this show at Stephanie's recommendation. Stephanie had previously played my girlfriend/ex-girlfriend in the staged reading of "Atheists" and my ex-wife in "Whatever Happened to Me".

I'd first met Stephanie about a couple of years ago at a BBQ Steve (world renowned director and lame-ass around town) had held. Of course, I went there alone. Steve had introduced me to Stephanie and her husband, Tony, but they were just another couple of people I didn't know amongst quite a few people I didn't know. Some folks think of strangers as friends they haven't met.... I tend to use the dictionary's definition. So, when Steve was getting "Atheists" cast and mentioned Stephanie, I asked, "Who's that?" "Tony's wife," he replied. "Who's that," I asked. "I worked with her at Cypress," he insisted. "Who's that," I asked. "You met her at the barbeque," he continued and I asked, "Who's that?" She came in to the first rehearsal and I thought, "This is Stephanie?! This is the woman who is going to portray Beatrice, the fictionalized version of DeAnna Caudillo, my last, best chance for happiness on this planet after losing Rosa?! This is what I get?!" Actually, she did it very well... total bitch. I mean, she portrayed a total bitch. That was my first impression of Stephanie. Then, when I was directing the staged reading of "Whatever Happened to Me" and needed someone to play Annie, the fictionalized version of Rosa, I didn't have a whole lot of women I could call - which is often my problem but that's a different story - but the character was kind of a bitch (read: strong woman) and I knew Stephanie was, er, could play one so... And so, she got cast. The worst thing about these staged readings is that, when I look back at the tapes, as good as she was in both parts, in a full production she could be heart breaking.

And, so, those were my two experiences with Stephanie. And as sweet as she might be, I had this Beatrice/Annie template pasted over her. (Consider if you wrote two shows inspired by lost loves and you had the same person play both parts. How would you feel about that person? It does tend to change one's view.) Well, every so often I'd get the obligatory, "How ya doin'?" email from her but I didn't think of her as my friend... probably because of the whole Beatrice/Annie thing and, well, because I know actors. When they say, "How ya doin'?" they mean "Come see my show!" (No offense to actor folk... you freaks.)

Then, I get this email from her about this part in "Something to Hide". I get an appointment with the director, Teri. I get cast... and find out Stephanie's playing my mistress. In all honesty, my first thought was, "Isn't she a little cold to play that part?" Remember, my two previous experiences with her had been with her portraying exes, parts that were written kind of cold. (Can you imagine me writing a steamy love scene? Come on!) Well, okay, I'll admit it. She proved me wrong. Stephanie's very versatile.

Stephanie has a rhythm to her acting. It's kind of how I look at my own. Acting is a lot like dancing. There's a rhythm, a flow, and when you do it right, it feels like dancing. So, my scene with Stephanie always felt like a dance, which I liked very much. It was at the beginning of the play and really helped set the tone.

Then, Stephanie took a week off and Michelle stepped in. Michelle doesn't have rhythm; with her, it was herky-jerky. It had me off balance... I was glad when Stephanie came back. And we danced.

Wanna hear about a double-standard? Both Stephanie and Michelle are married. As a result of past issues, I have problems kissing married women. Oh, sure. I'll enjoy it... I'll just feel really neurotic about it. But when Michelle stepped in... well, she really enjoyed it. And here's where the double-standard comes in. I can enjoy it; I'm single. But they're not supposed to! They're married women!!! It's a short stroll from wisdom to idiocy - I constantly prove that.

As much as I might have enjoyed my role, I always tried to be a gentleman, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for my fellow actors. The guy who played the Inspector was just disgusting. That's all I have to say. He was a lech, a perv, a sicko. That's all I have to say. He had zero class. That's all I have to say. Mr. Purcell, who played Will Purdy, was a nice guy, but only appeared to have class next to the other guy. He kept telling me to go after Claire, our 18 year old maid. Then, he'd ask for details on the kissing scene. Now, I try to be a gentleman, okay? So, no. I wasn't going to tell him if or how much I enjoyed the kissing scene or who was the better kisser. (Stephanie.)

Mind you, I also kissed Christi, who played my wife, but that was a very short kiss... thankfully. Why "thankfully"? Because with the amount of lipstick she wore, my face would have been red had it gone on longer... I mean, with lipstick! I always had to wash off after - I'm not kidding! Christi is a very accomplished actress and can really reach down into her gut and pull out a variety of emotions. Sadly, though, she's no more than a puppet pulling her own strings. She never felt real to me on stage, which made her feel less real off stage. Does that mean her performance was lacking or that she's lacking as a person? Oh, hell no. She dazzled the audience and is no less real than anyone. But when you play off a person on stage, there's an intangible something going on - imaginary characters inhabiting imaginary people (we'll call them "actors") - and nothing is real. Maybe this made it easier for me to be a villain towards her.

Okay. A word on that. I was more violent towards her than I'd ever been with a woman in my life. It made me sick. But what made me more sick was how much I liked it. Every day of it built up in me and it's going to take a while to purge that. I'm not a violent man... but I felt a very comfortable rage up there with her. It was like a monster coming out. Mind you, she didn't help. She never stuck with our choreography and I had to improvise quite a bit - when you're fighting, this is NOT a good thing. Often, she would fight me harder, which made me have to fight harder in return... which built and built. But I would always check with her after to make sure I didn't go too far. And she'd tell me I hadn't. Then, a few weeks ago, Teri came to me and had a talk with me about going too far, which Christi had told her I'd been doing. Now, as sorry as I was if I had, Christi could have told me; it put a thorn in our working relationship.

It also put a thorn in my relationship with Teri. As talented a director and nice a person she is, she clearly has her favorites. And I'm not a big fan of playing favorites.

Before I segue to my favorite, let me mention another member of our cast, Ms. Cunningham. We had two older people, seniorish-citizens, in the cast and I was worried about both of them remembering their lines. Ms. Cunningham was one but they both got their lines by and by. She was a lot of fun to work with but I'll be damned if she knew anything about comic timing. I know we're not all funny but, damn, it was frustrating. But, then, she always brought chocolate... so I loved her.

Lastly, my favorite, Claire. Yes, our 18 year old maid. Look, before you start judging me, I never made a single overture in her direction and kept my distance. I knew two things: 1) it wouldn't have worked and 2) I didn't need the trauma of being rejected by an 18 year old. That said, she was more entrancing than any woman I'd know since DeAnna, beautiful, poised, graceful, funny, smart... yep, pretty close to the neighborhood of perfect.

Damn chronology!

And I didn't need more things to drive me crazy. You want a list?!
1) I wasn't just playing a villain. I was playing an adulterer (sound close to home, folks?) and a batterer.
2) I had to deal with the Inspector's constant insults and digs.
3) And I was drawn to someone who hadn't been born when I met Rosa!

Okay, there's bound to be more and I might tell you some day. Until then, I'm done. Now, I've got to shed Howard Holt and find where I left Ken... probably behind the refrigerator. It's always the last place you look.
Welcome Stephanie!...

I'm inviting a new reader to My Side. Welcome to my ex-girlfriend, ex-wife, ex-mistress, but present friend: Stephanie.

Now, let's dive into a little neurosis, shall we...

Friday, April 23, 2004

The Top 10 Worst Album Covers...

Ever wonder who had the 10 worst album covers of all time?

Al Stewart for Year of the Cat?

Alan Parsons for Eye in the Sky?

John Hunter for Tragedy?


... actually, you've got to read this list of the 10 Worst Album covers of all time. But I warn you - finish anything you're drinking first to save injury to your sinuses and damage to your keyboard.
Here's a sentiment...

"There are no choices.
Nothing but a straight line.
The illusion comes afterwards, when you ask
'why me?' and 'what if?' when you look back,
see the branches, like a pruned bonsai tree, or a forked lightning.
If you had done something differently, it wouldn't
be you, it would be someone else looking back,
asking a different set of questions."

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Favorite new site, etc...

I have a confession to make. I've been reading Craigslist! Yes, Craigslist, esp. the Rant & Rave section. Basically, it's a place for people with lives far worse than my own to kvetch much as I do... it's a place for me to feel not so bad off... (NOTE: This ain't for the faint o' heart, folks.)

Oh, and one more thing... I'm thinking of moving My Side over to LiveJournal. Any thoughts?
What about my bod???...

You Are Ichabod Crane From "Sleepy Hollow."

You're a deep thinker - most times logically. You're a bit of a neat freak and a wuss (hey, you do faint a lot!) but you do have the ability to overcome your fears and come out stronger in the end. And you never lose your head over things. (Gufaw gufaw!)

Take The Johnny Depp Quiz!
I've been here - where you been?...

create your own personalized map of the USA
or write about it on the open travel guide
Follow the Bouncing Logic...

So... Kerry's wife inherits a fortune from the Heinz familiy... the company that makes Heinz ketchup moves overseas like so many others... THEREFORE KERRY'S THE ANTICHRIST!!!

Let's forget who's responsible for jobs moving overseas...

Let's forget that Kerry doesn't run the company that makes Heinz ketchup...

Let's forget that this is more obfuscation by Shrub's folk - just like requesting Kerry's war record because all those wounds he got must have meant he never fought in Vietnam - to keep attention off the fact that Shrub has fucked the country as foreplay for the world!!!!!!


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Presidency... Priceless?

Not so much as you might think.

The FEC (Federal Election Committee) has found Bush-Cheney 2000 guilty of election tampering in the 2000 election and it's about damned time.

Make no mistake. This means that the federal government has determined that BUSH STOLE THE ELECTION. HIS PRESIDENCY IS A FRAUD. HE HAS NO RIGHT TO THE TITLE.

So, they're fining him $90,000.

Degrees of Functionality...

I knew I was going to write this yesterday. The only problem was I couldn't write it, even if I'd wanted to.

Terms have become really important in the past few years. Terms like love, loneliness, sorrow...

I've discovered that, whereas most people say they look for closure, I'm not seeking closure. The only real closure comes with death, a path I turned from a couple of years ago. No. What I want is resolution. I want my problems, my heartache, my love, to become resolved. For me, only resolution allows progress.

Another term that's become important is normality; it changes daily. I don't deal with my life like a normal person and I figure I stopped that years ago. On the periphery of my memory, I seem to recall normality, when Rosa and I would fix dinner together and watch it in front of Emeril Live and we'd go to work and plan our weekends... normal. Now, each day is a fight against the voices in my head and the lethargy of depression.

I hear people talk about the degrees in a manic depressive. How bipolar you are... to which side you lean...

Not me. I refer to it as Degrees of Functionality. Some days I'm entirely functional and I can act like any normal person. I can buy my groceries, wash my dishes; I can even go to the mall alone and not have to sit in my car and drive. I'm very proud of myself on those days. But I know there's the other extreme, days like those of late, when I can't move or I'm afraid to move and I have to drink to calm down. Nights when I can't sleep or wake up in terror. Days when I can't think over the din of screaming voices.

Just so you know, the range is -10 to 10, the highest number expressing the most normal I feel.

Today I'm approaching 5, which is good because I still have a lot of housework to do when I get home that I didn't take care of last night because I was twitching on my sofa, smoking.

I hate that my life has been reduced to this. I hate that I cannot control myself, sometimes to perform the simplest task. I hate what depression and despair has done to me.


I just micronapped between sentences, sitting here at work. I stood upon a blue plain and a choir of angels sang to me. They sang the words, "I am the beast."

How appropriate!

Monday, April 19, 2004

Another of Shrub's thorny issues...

Patriot Act! Get your Patriot Act here! Can't be a Patriot without an Act!

I think my favorite quote from Shrub is, "There are people here in this world who still want to hurt us. They can't stand America."... which is ironic because he was talking about himself!
Wondering about your political leanings?...

Here's a little quiz to help you out.

(Just so you know, I was graphed at -6.38 x -6.05: Libertarian Left!)

It started Friday.

Well, maybe it started Thursday night. I'd been told by my director that, in the play's "fight scene", I'd gotten out of hand - too violent - scary. And the actress I was playing against was afraid to tell me.

Now, I'd said from the beginning that I wasn't comfortable doing it, and I made sure to check with the actress after every night, to make sure she was comfortable with it. Sadly, she felt more comfortable going behind my back.

One of the reasons it had become more violent, and it had become more violent, was that she made it necessary - she was/is a whacko! She doesn't stick with the choreography and I'm forced to (live theater here!) keep her in check.

Now, I end up looking like the psychopath.


So, when I woke up Friday morning... I don't know how to explain this and I really don't know if it has to do with Thursday night. I felt hollow, like one strong breeze might blow me apart, unravel me. I felt fragile and alone and I couldn't move.

And slowly slogged my way through Friday.

But I could feel things turning, not like wheels but like old bread.

Saturday was a devil to get through. I got to the theater early and laid down in one of the prop rooms. (They have sofas in there, you see.) I closed my eyes. Then, I heard a car pull up. I knew it was pulling up behind the theater but in my half-asleep state, it was Rosa pulling up to the house. Our house. And I was lying on the sofa in the living room. And it was five years ago. And the sun was shining through the window. And -

I made a quiet scream, wiping my face like it was covered in bugs, trying to wipe the memory from my mind. It didn't work, though. I couldn't shut my eyes without returning to that place.

Somehow, I made it through the performance.

When I returned home, I laid down on my sofa. I was so tired. But I couldn't close my eyes without seeing Rosa, or the house, or some place where we'd been, or any number of a million things tied to her. I tried lying down in bed but the same thing happened, each time met by a shriek and an injection of terror. And so, that night was killed off many hours later with as many glasses of scotch.

Sunday, I was back at the theater again. We started the performance. About halfway through, in the middle of a line, I suddenly flashed back on the day I moved out of "Ken and Rosa's Place", our house. I was carrying boxes of comic books to my car. Rosa was trying to stop me in her own "here are some doubts you should have rather than me telling you I need you" kind of way. And I was telling her, "This doesn't mean I'm never coming back. But this marriage is over. After some time, maybe we can start again."

But I was also on stage! The whole thing made me shake! It was like whiplash, or the feeling of someone or something pulling you from your body - only to be snapped back.

I don't know how I made it through the performance. That's never happened before, never while on stage.

Last night, I returned home, shaking. And I drank.

This morning is nothing but sorrow - and the familiar wondering when it will end.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

These dreams of Rosa...

Ain't this just the way? Just as I think I get things figured out with Rosa, the nightmares start again!

Last night, it was one with Rosa and Michael... except Michael was this biker dude and he had a gang. (Calling Dr. Freud!)

Today, I took a nap and was lying down on the sofa in our house (back when...) and I heard Rosa's car pull up. It was so vivid!

Now, I can't sleep because every time I close my eyes, another vivid image of Rosa - or something Rosa-related - flashes before my eyes.

What the hell, folks?

(I need a drink!)

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Annie Mezzacappa...

This is the third in a series about people I know. Annie's the first woman I've written about - before Rosa, even! Why? Well, she's helping me with this personal injury claim. You see, last year I got whiplash and she's helping me get it sorted out before it's too late.

You see, she's an attorney.

Briefly, Annie is one of the most talented, flighty, scatter-brained, smart, savvy, real, feeling people I know. She's not a half-way person. She doesn't jump into something - she dives!

I first met Annie back when I did "40 Carats" at the Cabrillo Theater down in San Clemente. It's still my favorite show. Out of the show, I gained so many friends: Chris, Sheryl, Lori, Steve, and, of course, Annie.

I didn't know Annie right away. She had to go into the hospital. So, when she did join the show, I was far less comfortable with her than with everyone else. Then, she started bringing these gourmet pretzels into rehearsal... and I fell madly in love... with the pretzels...

After that show, Sherryl and I became romantic... actually, it wasn't romance really... it was really just hormones... well, Sherryl and I became attracted and entangled. This ended poorly and thank my lucky stars I learned my lesson and Lori and Annie and I are still friends, at least!

After the show one night, a lot of the cast went to a local bar, where they had karaoke. Amidst a host of barfly-ettes screaming for me to take them home, I sang "A Wink and A Smile"... which scored me major points with Sherryl but that's a different story. Annie remembered me singing that, though, as you'll see.

I remember the cast party for "40 Carats", when Sheryl and I took off to a place where we thought we could be alone. Entangled, though still on our feet, Annie walked in to ask where the bathroom was... it was, um, awkward.

Later, at the same party, it was Lori and Annie (my dual muses) who goaded me into writing my first play.

Do you want an example of how Annie is? Last year, Steve threw a party at his old apartment. I went, Rosa-less though we were dating at the time, and Annie was pretty much the only person I knew. She told me how she'd just had her chakras realigned. Having studied kundalini, I knew about chakras... but I didn't quite believe like she did. I'm not big on belief. I'm big on proof, evidence, facts. Belief I can take or leave. Annie has belief to spare. Deities, people, ideals - she believes in them enough for both of us. And so she talked about her chakras as if they were real... and I listened as though they were theory.

I also talked about Rosa. Heck, when don't I? Annie asked, "What happened to your wink and smile?" I hadn't a clue what she was talking about until she told me about that night at karaoke. While I'd just been trying to make time with Sherryl, Annie had taken this moment and made it relevant to the present. I never cease to be amazed how such random moments of your life intersect, fuse, and create meaning. Annie would probably contend it's not so random, but again, that's where we differ.

And, so, whenever I would get discouraged and think I might lose Rosa, she'd remind me to "wink and smile".

Then, one night, we went to see "About Schmidt" together. Fabulous film. I made a crack during the many pre-film commercials. We laughed at the trailers. And when we got into this movie, this film about a man who finds himself all alone in life, my heart began to break because it seemed so terribly similar. Without Rosa, I too felt all alone.

She put her hand on my arm and I knew I wasn't. "I'm fine," I said, and I was.

My friends are so very good to me and it's nice to include Annie among them.
Anatomy of a Kiss...

This is week four of "Something to Hide" and this week the understudy, Michelle, takes over the role of my mistress from Stephanie. The role is a thankless one, which involves kissing me and then kissing me again. As you can probably understand, it involves a lot of very skilled acting.

Now, my kissing muscles hadn't been getting the best workouts before this show. I think Karrie and I had had one kiss and before that.... it had been a while. As the best kissers know, a good kiss isn't just lip. It involves much more. I'd say a really excellent kiss can even involve the toes at times. (Which might be why I'm having problems with Karrie.)

I'd say my top five kisses ever would be as follows:

5. Julie Starr. Great lips before the days of collagen injections.

4. Cindy Wilcox. Terrific form. She was athletic.

3. Teresa Alaniz. The classic kiss. Never disappointed.

2. Deanna Caudillo. A kiss that could send a man to his death smiling.

1. Rosa. From first kiss to last, absolute perfection. I'm not saying she's the best kisser in the world but our lips were Astaire and Rogers: made for each other!

As for stage kisses, I'd have to say that the best would be, without a doubt, the girl who played Lina in "Three Days of Rain". Sexy as hell, okay? And it didn't help that she kept saying, "If only I wasn't married." Look, folks, that's how you get into trouble.

Now, Stephanie and I have kissed in shows before. When we did Atheists, there was a kiss. It was a lot quicker and colder but, let's face it, her character was colder, too. When we started this show, it was pretty much what I was expecting. Of course, in this show, she's playing my mistress, so...

Let's just say that Stephanie's lips and mine have developed a certain rapport.

When you're out there on a dark stage kissing, there's a moment of surrendering to it. After a couple shows, there's no hesitation. We get out there and kiss! And it's not difficult. After all, Stephanie's a very attractive woman. I mean, she's number two when it comes to stage kisses but with a definite bullet!

So, now I move on to the understudy, Michelle. She's........ aggressive.

That might sound like a good thing but it gets more complicated than that.

I remember one night, Stephanie forgot her lines and just kept kissing me, which made me nearly forget mine.

When someone's in full lip mode on stage, it's hard to keep track of what you're doing. Stephanie's kisses say, "Hi. How're you doing? Nice to meet you. You come here often? Don't forget you've got a line coming up." Michelle's say, "How's it going, big boy? Forget the lines! Let's get naked!"

Meanwhile, my lips are saying, "Excuse me? Excuse me? Excuse me?"

I'm in for an interesting weekend.

Hope to see some of you there.
The My Side Infomercial...

Looking for that bit of depressing tedium that can make your life look that much better? Looking for awful jokes that make you seem like the funniest person in comparison? Looking for overwritten personal drama that makes you realize you're nearly as neurotic as you could be?

Then try My Side!

My Side! The Blog written by the middle-aged man who lost the love of his life and can't seem to go on without constant yammering about that and where'd his youth go!? It may not be entertaining, but it's just what you need to bolster your own pathetic sense of worth. Don't believe me? Let's listen to these satisfied readers:

I lost my girlfriend and thought I had it bad, but then I read My Side. The way he whines on and on about Rosa! - Man, I'd never be that much of a simp!

I was thinking about becoming an actor but My Side set me straight. Now, I'm headed into a career in accounting. If I want to kiss strange women, I can buy a hooker!

I work a dead end job sucking exhaust lines in a toxic waste dump. I had thought about quitting but then I read My Side and heard about Ken's job. Now, I'm sucking toxic waste and loving it!

That's right. Readers of My Side are 12-15% more likely to experience that fine and calming sense of gratitude that you're not Ken!

But isn't the whole point of My Side to share Ken's views, knowing that we all share a human story that includes loss as well as joy?

No! My Side may be a way for Ken to constantly bitch but that doesn't mean you have to feel empathy. Sit back and laugh at the dope!

I thought My Side was a continuing story. Doesn't he ever stop bitching about Rosa?

No! Ken devoted his life to Rosa and that hasn't ended just because of a little divorce! He'll keep bitching and contemplating creative forms of suicide for future generations to enjoy!

Does Ken really think he's funny?

Sadly, yes. Ken has had a very small amount of success as a writer and, unfortunately, thinks that means he's funny. So, he keeps writing shit like this.

But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. Use it as an object lesson (would anyone want to be like Ken), and spirit booster (it could be worse - you could be Ken), or a belief affirmer (yes, this is what happens to atheists)!

Don't believe me? How about these testimonials:

I used to think I was funny but then I found out what people in my family sound like when they make jokes. - Dwight La.

I used to buy books but this is free and he never shuts the hell up. - Lori W.

Where can I get some coffee? - Tim Clo.

Yes, My Side. Pathetic. Sappy. Not very funny even.

But free... and what more would we listen to you ask for is you did ask for more?

(This has been a partially paid advertisement from the people at the My Side Foundation. The My Side Foundation is a firmly affixed subsidiary of KenCo, talentless hacks for over 37 years.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Meeebilie Deeebilie Dee...

Here's something you haven't heard in a while.... random babbling...

... at least, not since yesterday.

I stopped by a tobacconist last night and picked up a pack of Nat Sherman Phantoms. Those of you who can't appreciate all things tobacco-ny can skip to the next paragraph. (I'm not saying I won't mention smokes; I'm just saying.) For those of you who can appreciate the tobacconistic lifestyle, let me warn you: these things were made in HELL! I swear! I don't think I've ever had a more antagonistic cigarette. You light it up and a voice says (I think they design the layout of the cig so airflow produces the sound), "And now your soul is mine! My minions will feast upon it... with pudding!" (Which affirms my belief that, if there is a devil, he'd eat pudding.)

(If there was a god? Duh! Angel food cake!)

Anyway, I'm just saying these smokes are strong. The upside to this is I'll smoke less... you know, until I buy something else.

So, I stepped outside to have one last night at around 11:30pm because I had been sitting at my desk when I suddenly got the gut feeling that everything was wrong. Wrong. Wrong! Wrong!!

Hey, I don't need a candy-gram to know when a panic-attack is coming on.

But I got to sleep about an hour later and slept pretty well. So, it's not all that bad.

Oh, and I haven't heard anything about that other play. So, it looks like I'm in the clear! Good thing, too. Interest rates have started to climb again and I need to catch them while they're low enough if I want to buy a house. Houses in the LA area (which I'm taking to include Orange County) rose 29% in March alone! Waiting doesn't sound like a great idea. And when I'm talking about houses, I'm not talking about those buildings families live in - like the kind I had with Rosa. No, I couldn't dream of affording that. I'm talking about condos... little ones. One bedroom condos in Orange County go for $225,000-$400,000! This is completely insane, lending credence to the opinion held by the rest of the world that we who live here must be. I'm not arguing!

Just as I was waking up this morning, my nose had a talk with me. It said, "Look, pal. I know we've been getting along lately and all, but I've decided to hate you. Prepare yourself!" And then it launched into this evil Orson-Wellesian kind of laugh. My nose is such a dick.

Today, I'll be meeting with Annie. She's drafted a letter to help me close out my personal injury claim, which came about after last year's whiplash. It's good to know a lawyer, I'll tell you that. Mind you, she can only get me a couple grand but I've learned from this whole experience. When I got whiplash, I only got as much medical care as I needed. Next time, I abuse the system! Take 'em for all I can!!!! Otherwise, can I honestly call myself an American?

We'll be going to Panera Bread in Irvine. With all the talk of love lately (in My Side), I guess I should confess that I totally in love with this place. The bread is TO DIE FOR - apologies to those of you on Atkins (crazy people) - and they have the BEST tomato bisque..... yummmmmm.... Is it lunch time, yet?

So, I guess it's time to wrap up so I can get a napkin and clean off this drool....

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Dating - Schmating! I want to fall in love!...

Last night, Karrie and I met for dinner. We met at a restaurant in Tustin called Rutabagorz (er, Rutabagoraz? Hell, something like that!), which if you haven't been to you should go already! It's healthy food that's good for you, you little bastard!


Hold on.


I started typing Jewish. Another few words and it would have been in Yiddish, you should be so lucky. Oy gevalt!




Okay, the problem should be fixed now.

Where was I?

Right. Dinner.

I hadn't seen her in a week and a half so had asked her if she was free for dinner. She was.

And, so we met.

At 6pm, I parked across the street and saw Karrie sitting outside, waiting for me. I met her at the table and gave her a quick kiss.

And she gave me a box of Sees candies. Candy? "Well, it was Easter," she said. And I brought her nothing. Good thing I was paying for dinner!

The waiter came out about four times before we started looking at the menus. We were just so busy talking to easy other! Eventually, we ordered (salads for both). I ordered coffee, which was a terrible idea as the three cups kept me up all night long!

The idea was that it would be an early dinner and we'd be done relatively quickly so we could get to the things we had to do.

At 9pm, we left!

I walked her to her car. We kissed twice and she was gone. And I was left thinking how those kisses were ... I don't know. Hollow? Empty? They held no promise, no thrill.

I want someone whose kisses ignite me. Passion people! I want passion!

Meanwhile, Karrie and I may be seeing each other again this week.

What the hell am I doing???

Monday, April 12, 2004

The Bad News - I'm Psychotic...

I've been worried since the beginning. Now, I know why.

Or, at least, another reason why.

The day: Saturday, April 10, 2004
The time: Approximately 9:30pm
The place: The stage of the Newport Theater Arts Center

(CAUTION: The following bit contains spoilers to "Something to Hide"! So, if you haven't seen the show yet, you might want to pass this by until later!)

Karen (the actress Christi Sweeney) is threatening to tell all to the police and I (Howard) have to stop her. I grab her hand as she holds the phone in it and pull it away. She pulls back.

Now, there's a kind of schizophrenia that happens when you're performing. There's your performing self, the character, which is about 80% of your (my) thoughts. This is the part that remembers the lines without you thinking of them. This is the part that you've developed and, for all intents and purposes, you are that person. Then, there's another 20% way back in the back of your head: yourself. And you watch everything that's going on, almost like an observer, like an air-traffic controller, a witness.

She pulled back and I slammed her hand, with the phone still in it, onto the desk. The observer thought, "Wow. She must have done that, because there certainly wasn't any resistance.

Then, a few minutes later, I grab her by the wrists and push her into a chair. She's fighting back but I'm holding on. She's fighting back much harder than I've ever felt and, as the scene comes to its climax, I realize that I've completely lost my tempter. I'm totally out of control. It's only when the mere 20% realizes this that I'm able to collect myself for my next line. Any longer, I think, and god knows what I would have done to her.

She'd been saying for the past week that, during that scene, I really look like I'm enjoying being evil.

Howard is, but I'm not. I am so not enjoying it.

Off stage, we're at intermission, I ask Karen, "Was I a little rough out there."

"A little rough." she replies.

"But that was really cool what you did with your hand."

"What do you mean?"

"When you slammed it down. It made it look like I did that."

She looked at me and I could see she wasn't hurt but she was confused. "You did do that."

"You're kidding."


"Oh my god. I'm so sorry."

"It's okay. The bleeding has mostly stopped." And she raised her hand to me to show me. I'd slammed her hand down so hard, I busted the skin.

She left and I went outside (to a private corner we have). I kneeled down. I thought I was going to throw up but I didn't.

She didn't mention it again but I apologized many times.

I can't wait for this show to be over.
A completely wretched woman who I've loved with all my heart...

Welcome to the new week, one that brings with it two entries from me rather than the typical Monday entry that is so long you have to take a break before you can finish reading it... if you actually do.

Today, you get two of those. (I'm a giver.)

As with most things, there's the good and the bad. I'll start with the good.

I got paid on Friday. (Good enough for you? Well, just wait.) It had been a while since I'd spent any money on myself, so I decided to take myself out Saturday and do some shopping. (It's either that or save my money and... come on... I'm an American!)

So, Saturday morning I awoke early for my haircut. I was going to Juana's place. Juana, as you may know, is Rosa's sister. She's cut my hair, on and off, for over a decade. Since I was getting the cut for the show, I felt like she was the only one with whom I could trust my hair. Rosa and I used to always go early in the morning, before she had any clients, and so I went early. I got there just before 9am and, though I thought that was early - it was early TO ME! - it wasn't early enough.

"Can you come back at noon?" she asked.

Three hours later? (What, Ken? Do you have a life?) Okay, I told her and went out. I drove to Woody's in Huntington Beach. Rosa and I used to go there, occasionally, for breakfast. Now, as much as I hate going places that practically drip with memories of her, I somehow got it into my head that it might be a good thing for me. So, I had a light breakfast (veggie omelet w/rye toast) and drank several cups of coffee while reading Katherine Hepburn's biography. I don't think the waitress cared... actually, I think the waitress liked me but that's a whole other story.

I finished breakfast but it was only a bit past 10am. My next stop: DVD Planet. Okay, it's my favorite DVD Superstore in the whole world but, like my neighborhood crack dealer and pimp, I hate them because they suck up all my money. I spent nearly $200 before I got out. (Hey, the Chaplin Collection alone was $75!) Now, I know what you're saying. "Why are you buying DVDs when your DVD player is broke?!" (If you didn't know, read back a few days.) Well, that was taken care of later when I returned the old one to Costco.

By the time I escaped from there, it was after 11:30am and I headed down to Juana's place.

As usual, she started by washing my hair and then brought me over to her station (she has this place with several other girls). We made a bit of small talk, the "how are your kids/family/cats/kidneys, etc." variety. She asked me about my show. I told her.

The 300 pound gorilla, though, hadn't been mentioned.

"So, how is Rosa?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said, which meant that she did know but I wasn't going to like it. Then, she started to recount item after terrible item. It started with the sad news about Rosa's baby, who will be having surgery in a couple of months. Then, it went to news of Rosa trying to refinance her home. (You know, the one that used to be ours... but I'm not sensitive about it.) Word has got out that she owes someone $10,000 (three guesses) and part of the refi is to pay them back. The thing is, she'll never get the home refi'd, I found out, because of all the collection agencies that are after her.

This is nearly unforgivable. The Rosa I knew was a prideful person who would never borrow or be beholden to another - and would certainly never have her bills go to collections. Oh, sure, she's spend every cent she had as fast as she made it BUT she'd never allow herself to look like white trash. (While there was nothing she wanted more than to be white, she didn't want it that badly.)

I didn't ask Juana the obvious question, which was, "Isn't Mike helping her at all???" I didn't need to. Juana launched into this angry commentary on Michael before I could even mention him. The hatred was so obvious, I wanted to suggest she put down the scissors until the next topic.

Actually, I was pretty shocked. I mean, when I met Michael, I thought he was someone I could be friends with; I thought he was okay.

When Tim (San Diego) had met him, he'd told me, "He's even more manipulative than you."

Now, I don't see myself as manipulative so I thought Tim was, well, off the bend on that one.

And I still don't see myself as manipulative.

Michael, however...

Juana went on and on about how he doesn't help her and, worse, how he keeps her in check, not allowing her to live her life, forcing her to live for him and the baby.

And that, dear friends, is unforgivable.

The Rosa Piedra that I knew would never have stood for that. The Rosa Piedra that I knew had no problem telling me, "No way, Ken. I'm doing what I want." And I respected her for that.

I told Juana this.

And it was before the words came out that I realized something. And I very nearly gasped.

That Rosa Piedra is gone.

She's gone.

She's utterly gone.

And I will truly never have her back.

But was she ever there? Was Rosa Piedra strong when I was with her because I was with her? Did I give her the strength to be a better version or Rosa just like she gave me the strength to be a better version of Ken?

Yes. The conclusion seemed inescapable.

She'd chosen someone who made her weak and encouraged that. And she'd thrown me away, someone who encouraged her to be strong.

And as funny as it might sound, this is all good news. Oh, it's not good news for Rosa. Rosa's living through her own little hell just like I lived (and continue to live) through mine. Maybe, someday, she'll realize what she's done and do what she needs to fix it. I hope she does. She deserves far better. But it's good news for me. It made me realize that, even if I convinced her to take me back, I might not want her back. Folks, I don't want to go back just to rescue her. I need rescuing, too. It needs to go both ways and I would have been happy to accept her frailties, her quirks, her decision to have a baby with Michael and the baby as well. But to think that Rosa threw me away for that? She threw away love and encouragement for sorrow and subjugation? Fine - take it and off with ya!

(In case you're thinking I'm exaggerating, Juana told me one story about a time when Rosa came to get her hair cut and her cell phone rang. It was Michael. Juana heard Rosa pleading on the phone and, when she got off, she said, "I have to go." Juana said, "Tell him you're going to stay and have your hair done." "No," Rosa said, "I have to go home."

"What's she afraid of?" I asked. "He's gay! What's he going to do to her?!"

Juana didn't know but she said he had some power over her. To the Rosa Piedra I had known, this would never have happened.)

Even as I walked out after, I began to think about all the lessons in humility I've had over the past few years. Maybe this is a lesson for Rosa. And, of course, we never learn from them until it's too late.

Then, I thought back. I thought back to when I'd left her and said, "I hope you find someone who is rotten to you so you can realize just what you're throwing away." Now, she has... but has she realized? Juana said Rosa might have shut me out because of pride. "Maybe she couldn't face you," she said. "After all the mistakes I made?" I asked.

I thought back, then, to all the hurt Rosa had caused. The years that had led up to the divorce. The abortion.

Yes, I thought, Rosa was a completely wretched woman and I loved her with all might heart. This might sound strange but think about it for a minute. Now, I wonder, would I take her back?

Sure, things are going to continue to be tough now and then but I drove home Saturday and did not think for a minute of sitting on the curb across from her house and thinking about how wonderful things used to be.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into...

When I was 17 years old, all I wanted to do was act. I wanted to act. I wanted to act. I wanted to act. I got into show after show after show. My favorite director back then was Richard Habib, an incredibly nice guy who coined the phrase, "I'm an actor and I'm in a rush." (You've all heard that one.) As far as I can remember, he only directed me a couple times but I think I learned more from him than any director I've known before or since. During my seventeenth year, I did several shows and thought that this was what my life was going to be like, an in-demand actor working his way on up.

Then, adulthood set in. The combination of having a director publicly belittle my acting ability, the discovery of my talent for writing, and a shift of focus to Rosa (you want reasons? here's one: sex!) changed everything. Once into my twenties, I foresaw a bright future in writing as I pumped out one novel after another.

Things changed. I lost Rosa and could no longer work on my novels. In fact, I could no longer work at all. All I could put together were autobiographical monologues. Performing these dropped me back into acting and, before I knew it, I was back on stage again.

But my life has never followed a straight line. Within a couple of years, I was back at my keyboard, this time writing plays. And, so, the last couple of years have been split between writing and acting.

Now, one thing I've said since this play started was that, once it was done, I'd be writing again. Names like "This They Call Freedom", "Falling Together", and "Happy Landings" littered my plans for the next few months. In fact, I insisted to everyone that I'd be writing again once this show was over. I was unyielding to any offers that came along. The Improv group wanted me. No, I'm going to be writing. Teri wanted me to play the lead in Blythe Spirit. No, I'm going to be writing.

(Anyone who knows me, knows what comes next.)

So, last night, I'm at the theater and ask Teri how her auditions for Blythe Spirit went. Fine with the women, she said, but she couldn't find her lead man. I'm sorry, I said to her and walked away.

But not that far away.

I turned around. "So, what are you going to do?"

"Well, I have a couple men in mind."

"You think they'll work out?"

She paused. "Why? I thought you weren't interested. I thought you were going to be writing."

"Right. I am. I was just curious."

"Well, hopefully they'll work out. If they don't..." She let the unspoken syllables hang in the air.

"You think you might still need me?"

"You want to do this?"

"Well..." I couldn't say any more. I was torn. A voice in my head asked, "Ken, what are you doing?"

Teri smiled. "Tell you what, I've got two people in mind. If they don't work out, you'll be the first person I talk to."


Meanwhile, I caught myself on the drive last night saying to some slow-moving vehicle, "Outta the way! I'm an actor and I'm in a rush!"

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Condi Rice Just Ain't Too Nice...

It's been a fun news day.

What do I have for you now? Well, it seems that someone did a fact check on Condi Rice's opening testimony about Shrub's attack against Americ, er, terrorism... I mean...
For those of you who think poor people don't pay enough taxes...

From 1996 through 2000, more than 60% of American corporations paid NO TAXES!

Say it with me: Rich people have the money. Poor people are POOR!
Words cannot express...




As melodramatic as it might sound, this is the closest I've seen to someone else expressing what my life has been like after Rosa.
This week's episode: Murder in Cheesequake!...

(Disclaimer: This entry has absolutely nothing to do with cheeses or earthquakes. But here's a big shout-out to all you readers in Cheesequake, New Jersey!... or just New Jersey... or just the east coast. Hi, Rich! Um, you're also going to find little reference to murder here.)

(Basically, I'm just running out of subject lines.)

I finally got some sleep last night. Three hours. Not much. In fact, I'm pretty much losing it right now. That said, one of my first thoughts this morning was, "What are you going to do if you stay home? It's not like you're going to sleep! Your DVD player is broke! Just go to work and maybe you'll sleep there!"

And, so, here I am.

I have a show tonight but I'm not worried. Sure, I've slept all of about five hours this week - less than an hour a day! - but I'm pretty sure that, once I'm on stage, the adrenaline will kick in and I'll be fine. Strange thing about theater, it's very hard to be sick on stage. Whatever baggage you had leaves you once you become the character. Howard Holt has no problems sleeping and, so, Howard Holt will be wide awake. It's really strange because you become the other person. (Maybe that's one reason why I act!) I've never known an experience like it.

Now, that doesn't come without its expense. Usually, a couple hours after the show, I crash from exhaustion - especially a show as taxing as this one. I'm hoping this will help reset my body clock and I'll return to a Ken-like version of normality.

And, if not, I can always sleep on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The World Broke My Back...

At least, that's how it feels.

I've been having a really hard time this week, which is probably an understatement.

It started last week, when I started becoming incredibly sensitive to everything: sounds, smells, light, things people said. It should have been a clear sign that my body chemistry was out of whack.

Now, I've got two days without sleep and on full depression. I mean, I haven't been able to think or move and I cry at just about everything. (I cried over my electric bill, if you can believe it.)

I'm feeling very fragile right now and I have a show tomorrow. Perfect fucking timing, huh?

I'm really afraid. Hopefully, this will all change by the next update.

Monday, April 05, 2004

And on top of that, my DVD player broke!... (part 2)

Waking up this morning was a real pain.

Last night's show was very tough. We had a loud audience (old, deaf people in the front row!), it was hot, and my female costar went more berzerk than usual... which is quite a bit. Also, the more I play this character the harder it's getting to get him out of my head. I can't just walk out and leave him behind. It takes a couple hours. That's exhausting.

After, Sean and I hung out and shot pool. We got to talking about how things have been going and I got pretty emotional about how depressed I've been. And, being emotional, I smoked quite a bit... of course.

When I got home at 9pm, I couldn't go right to bed. I had chores first. I didn't do all of them and ended up in bed at 11:30pm.

When I woke up at 7am - thanks for the time change - my body clock still felt like it was 6am... so I went back to sleep and woke up at 7:30am! My throat was a bit sore - but I figured that was from smoking. The sore throat kept up, though, and now (2pm) I generally feel like crap.

This is patently wrong! It should not be happening! I'm taking echinecea! I had some zinc! For Pete's sake!

(Does it matter that I've been exhausting myself, feeling distraught.... and, yes, smoking?)

So, I'm feeling sick but I can't get sick. I have a show in three days!!!
And on top of that, my DVD player broke!...

Somebody has it out for me. I don't know who and I don't know why but just as things start getting bearable somebody has to throw a wrench into things!

Yes, I'm talking about my DVD player. It died during Futurama this weekend. Is this a sign that you should avoid watching Futurama? Maybe! I don't know! What I do know is that the damn thing's shot and I'm bereft of DVD-quality entertainment for a little while.

How can one survive such tragedy? Well, simply put, you have to just keep moving. Look to the future. Follow your dream.

Climb every mountain.

You do that. I'll be in the corner, crying.

Friday, April 02, 2004

More of the same of the same...

Well, another week wraps up here at the My Side Foundation and, sadly, I have very little to report.

I went to lunch with Karrie yesterday. We went to the Cheesecake Factory and had a very nice lunch and there just wasn't anything more. When it comes to a relationship, I've never known less passion. I mean, we make good friends but, sadly, that's about all. And all it does is remind me how much I'm missing without Rosa and how much I had with her.


Because I need more reminders.

"Something to Hide" is nearly sold out. If you haven't got tickets yet, odds are you won't. (I hope you did.)

Stephanie (who plays my mistress) was encouraging me, last night, to get into another play. She said, "Take a weekend and write whatever you want to write and then get back to acting." I had to explain that it's a little more involved than that.

But how cool would it be to write a play in a weekend?

She asked, "Do you want to be one of those writers who write a whole lot of plays or do you want to write one really great one?"

I replied, "I want to write a whole lot of really great ones!"

I've been very depressed lately - though you probably couldn't tell, what with the great review and all - so keep those phone calls and emails coming... actually, start.
Bombs away...

The feds are warning of more bombs this summer. Seriously, this is a big threat.

... They probably mean that "Walking Tall" remake.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

The OC Register compared me to James Bond... the review of Something to Hide...

Well, the waiting is over. Today's OC Register came out and compared me to James Bond...

I mean, the review of Something to Hide was in today's Orange County Register. The review was by Eric Marchese, who doesn't often give gushingly good reviews but I dare say this was one of them. He loved the play - and compared me to James Bond - and gave us one of the best reviews I've read from him.

And he compared me to James Bond.

Tickets are nearly sold out - we didn't need this for ticket sales but, still, it's very gratifying.

And he compared me to James Bond.

This has been a long road and a very difficult part, as you all know, but this review helps make it a little more worthwhile.


What? What's that you say? Oh, the James Bond thing? Don't bring that up. You know I hate to brag.

Well, if you really MUST know, here's what he had to say about my performance:

"Ken La Salle exhibits a calm, cool-headedness, reminiscent of Roger Moore..."

So, all those directors who wouldn't cast me before can EAT THAT!
Just another sign that religious fanaticism is good for a civilized society...

Or even America!


A housewife said the first sign that God wanted her to kill her three boys came Mother's Day weekend when she saw her 14-month-old playing with a toy spear.

A sobbing Laney recounted in a videotape played at her capital murder trial Wednesday how she smashed her sons' skulls with rocks to prove her faith to God.

Isn't it clear by now that the last things we need right now are logic and reason?