Thursday, September 30, 2004

The House does something right???...

According to this article from the Associated Press, the gay marriage ban has been defeated.

Sure. But, hey... geniuses... how about making it legal to begin with? Wanna work on that?

Anyway, here's a clip from the article: The Republican-controlled House emphatically defeated a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage Thursday, the latest in a string of conservative pet causes pushed to a vote by GOP leaders in the run-up to Election Day. The vote was 227-186, far short of the two-thirds needed for approval on a measure that President Bush backed but the Senate had previously rejected. "God created Adam and Eve, He didn't create Adam and Steve," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md...

I just love that the moron spouting the cliche is named Roscoe... oh yeah...

Another piece of the new play...

So, I wrote this at lunch today. Something about not pronouncing the j's and the n's gets me giggling...

Dan. ... for him to say, "Yo, Dan Blimapivich, come on up!"

John. I'm sorry. What did you say your last name was?

Dan. Blimapivich, but you don't pronounce the j's or n's.

John. I didn't hear any j's or n's.

Dan. That's cause you don't pronounce them.

John. What would it be if you pronounced them?

Dan. Blijmanpnivjinch.

John. That's not a name. That's an epileptic seizure!

Dan. I know. That's why my family changed it when they came to America.

John. They changed it to Blimapivich?

Dan. Yeah, to make it easier.

John. They couldn't have chosen Smith?

Radio Mystery Theater...

This is probably going to be my most self-serving entry ever...

(I said "self serve", not "soft serve"!)

When I was a kid, I used to always listen to the Radio Mystery Theater on the radio. Every weeknight at 9pm, my brother and I would tune in our little, portable radio into the static-y station and remain still and silent so as not to miss a word.

Once a teenager, and old enough to want to write something other than my normal (and often stupid) jokes, I recorded an episode and (no, I don't tell you this proudly) transcribed it to claim it as my own. Would have worked, too, if all that transcribing wasn't so hard! I never finished it. Halfway through, I decided that my own story would probably not feel so hollow. To this day, though, I remember that episode and I remember the Radio Mystery Theater.

Just thought I'd share it with you. Anyone else ever listen to this or any other radio shows they still remember? (Who'll be the first to bring up Dr. D???)

Everybody Jumps…

We have a name!

Yes, the new play is called "Everybody Jumps". Can anyone tell me what movie the name is taken from? (It's a line in a movie.)

I've written nearly three pages - yes, I am burning white-hot baby! - and I'm beginning to get a clearer idea of what I'm doing.


So, two guys are on this bridge to commit suicide. They're at the top of the George Washington Bridge. One of the guys is named John. He's a Jewish Accountant, typical neurotic, neat-freak, kind of guy. Dan is the other guy, your basic grown-up kid who thought he'd be a musician but life kind of got away from him.

I've already written this whole part about masturbating off the side of the bridge… yes, it's that kind of play. Figure the depth of Atheists with the irreverence of Everything Changes.

And awayyyyy we go!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Bush/Kerry Timelines...

So, what made them the men they are today?

This should tell you.

Here comes the… dope with the gift…

I like to think that some of these My Sides shine a light on things you haven't thought about in a while. I like to think that some of these My Sides are even funny. I like to think that some of these My Sides inform.

… I like to think so.

This time, though, I'm just bullshitten'.

I realized today that I hate being an actor. Yes, I just realized it. No, I haven't realized it about a thousand times already!

… let me start again.

I realized today another reason why I hate being an actor. I hate it because I realize I've become another phoney.

Here's the thing. I'm going to a wedding soon for a person who, I just realized, I don't really like an awful lot, who isn't a really good friend, and who probably only invited me for the gift. And I realized all this while I was out buying the gift!!

Used to be, when I was just a writer, that I could just blow someone off whenever I didn't want to do something (have I mentioned I'm divorced?) but now, now that I'm an actor, I can't. Acting is such a social activity, I have to worry about what people are going to say, how it will affect future opportunities, and other shit like that.

Okay, so, fine. I go. It'll be short - relatively painless - and I probably won't run into my "friend" too much anyway. I'll run into friends of my "friend", all of whom are also actors, which basically means they think they're incredibly entertaining but are actually dull as hell and full of shit.

Now, when Vicky reads this, she's going to send me an email or call me right away and say, "Are you stupid?! What if someone reads this?!" Ha. So what. There's only one person who will probably read this and that person is Stephanie, who should be there with her husband, Tony. I mention them because they don't fall into that "actor" crowd. They're actually nice folk and part of the reason I'm writing this is because, should she read it, I'll know she will commiserate. It'll be an evening of people telling you about their shows, trying to get you to see their shows, or asking (or worse, not asking) you to be in their shows. She knows it. I know it.

See, actors don't impress me much. Their job is to be empty-headed. Short of entertaining, they don't do much of importance. Now, get me a room full of writers and I'm there. Writers are thinkers. They don't just entertain - they perform virgin birth!

… Sadly, I don't know a room full of writers.

… Oh, wait. I do. It's called OCPA.

… Forget what I just wrote.

Anyway, there's another reason for writing this.

So, I'm at Target, looking at a gift registry, and can't help but notice that gift registries suck. They are all based on the idea, "Hell, someone might buy it - Put It On The List!!!" So, you see the dumbest shit ever on these things, shit people would never use. Oh, sure, if they were stranded on a desert island - MAYBE they might find some use for these things but COME ON! Who the hell NEEDS a miniature deep fryer?!?!

… but enough of that.

So, I get the stuff - and, yes, I'm intentionally leaving out the ordinary horrors of Target OF WHICH THERE ARE MANY! - and I go up to the line.

The checker, an elderly man of recent import, says, "Velcome to Tahget. Would you like to apply for a Tahget Visa ant git a fwee gift vit parchase?"

I'm looking down at my check, writing it. "No."

"The application is bery shawt."

"No. What's today's date."

"Da Visa cart is bery confeenent."

Obviously, someone decided they should push the Visa cards… and I can't help but ask. "What's the free gift?"

"A sickteen ounz bottle of ice code Coke."

… I actually had to breath for a minute. "You've got to be kidding."

"You dun want it?"

"You free gift is a Coke? That's supposed to make me want to apply for your Visa card?"

"Yes, sah. It is."

I replied and, it must have been the look in my eyes, he dropped it. "No. What's today's date."


I wrote my check, remembering the days when they gave stereos with Visa cards… but then, this was Target.

I hate weddings (he wrote, giving his audience whiplash). They are the most incredibly dull events next to children's birthday parties ever invented by mankind. When mine comes around, I promise you not to register for stupid shit (can't speak for Vicky) and to keep it short - so we can get to the important part… the drinking.

Shrub's hometown newspaper... Endorses Kerry...

These things should come as no surprise by now:

• Shrub has emptied the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slashed Social Security benefits.

• Shrub has cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduced veterans’ benefits and military pay.

• Shrub has eliminated overtime pay for millions of Americans and raised oil prices by 50 percent.

• Shrub has given tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encouraged their departure.

• Shrub has given away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.

• Shrub has involved this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and

• Shrub has taken a budget surplus and turned it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.

However, it should come as a surprise that the Lone Star Iconoclast, Shrub's hometown paper, reports all this by way of endorsing Shrub's opponent!

Check 21

Does my heart proud to see Vicky get a little politically aware... on the side of the angels. All the stuff in this entry comes from her.

I hadn't heard about Check 21 until I got an email from her today, explaining it.

According to Consumers Union: Check 21 is sweeping new federal law that takes away your ability to get back your original paper checks. Under this law, consumers will be more likely to bounce checks and may find themselves paying higher bank fees. The complicated new law gives you some rights, but those rights depend on a variety of factors, including how the merchant and the bank decide to process your check.

But I think Snopes explains it a little better: You've probably bought something in a store with a check even though you don't have the money in your account at the time. You figure you have a few days for the check to clear, and by then the money will be there. It's called the "float." Well, the float is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Because of a new law going into effect in October, money will be drafted from your account immediately when you write a check. It's called "Check 21," and it allows retailers to scan your check through a machine that deducts the cash within minutes. It's essentially the end of the paper check system, as well, because the check will eventually be destroyed. There will be an image of the check online and that will serve as proof if you need it. But everything is becoming electronic, and a bank will know if a check is good right away. So, be prepared to move to an electronic bill pay system. It's the smart way to go. What about checks that you deposit? Well, the float is no longer available to you, the customer. But the bank still will hold a deposit for a few days to make sure it clears. It's not fair, but it's the way it's happening.

So, we've been warned, I guess. Mind you, we've been warned by Vicky. It's nice to see the government and the media are doing such a good job protecting us that we wouldn't have known without her!

One foot in the grave and one on roller skates…

Before I get to last night's nightmare, this word from the fine people at Crest…

This nightmare brought to you by Crest. Have you tried Crest Whitening Gel? How about new Crest Widening Gel, brush your teeth daily for a rounder, fuller figure - and now, Ken's nightmare!

So, Vicky and I are out visiting some couple and I overhear "women's talk". "Did you hear? Oh, he almost died. Sure. Well, he was too old to have kids to begin with."

I interrupt. "Too old? Excuse me? What do you mean, too old?"

Vicky's friend says, "Well, you can't just have kids willy-nilly, you know. You have a lot to take into consideration. Now, he had angina and high blood pressure and cholesterol and arthritis and a touch of the gout and his ulcers and he needed a root canal…" She kept going and going, on and on with this list…

Until I stopped her. "So, what happened?"

Vicky said, "Oh, he died just as soon as the baby was born."

Her friend chimed in, "Yeah, dissolved on the spot. Nothing left but his wallet and two eyes."

"Well, wait," I said. "I'm getting up there in age myself. I mean, I don't want anything bad to happen to me."

Her friend asked, "Well, how old are you dear? Cause he was 35."


My eyes opened but I didn't move. I'm sure I had that same expression Lou Costello had when the wolfman was standing next to him.

In less than a month, I'm going to be 39.

It took me a while to calm down - after all, I didn't have any children, yet - and then, I thought about it a bit.

Why would I have a nightmare about having kids?

Is it because the last time I got a woman pregnant it led to the end of my marriage? (Yes, I'm talking about Rosa here.) I don't think that's it. Vicky's a lunatic but she ain't Rosa… thank god...

Could it be because so many people have told me you should even consider having kids after a certain age? That could have something to do with it. I don't relish in the thought of seeing my child graduate from the vantage point of my walker.

No, there was something more.

I look around me (mentally - I was in bed, after all) and I realize that only one of my contemporaries had the classic, "Father Knows Best" kind of marriage, with lots of kids and shit… that was Rob. He was pretty much the only one in my group to grow up. Then, there's Rich. He had a wonderful daughter whose name I will never learn to spell but he soon got a divorce… he was like the "Eddie's Father" of my crowd. After that, we have the Tim's (both Clostio and Murphy), and Sean, and all the rest (Professor, MaryAnne, etc.) who never even had kids.

I look around me and can't help but think that I come from the first generation who never really learned to grow up. You look at the Boomers and they had kids and kids and kids. You look at the X'ers… the slacker generation… and realize that, if things keep up like this, we do not need to worry about overpopulation…

My reverie was broken, though, as Vicky started to snore. Ah hell, I thought, if she can handle it, so can I. So, I put my head back down and went to sleep.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

It's the Great "My Side" Poll... Charlie Brown?...

Well, we've got the comments working and it's time we tested them out - and see how many of the readers really have guts.

Everybody! Take out your guts!

... no... wait...

Okay, how about this:

The Great "My Side" Poll... Charlie Brown... (part one)

Just answer the following questions as best you can in the comments section for all to see... or fondle, if they have that kind of relationship with their monitor...

1) Your age.
2) Your hair color.
3) Your REAL hair color.
4) No, bitch. Stop lyin'!
5) When was the last time you horked a wornkle?
6) Do you have all your original parts?
7) What parts are missing?
8) What parts are new?
9) What parts are kept in a jar under your bed for you to sniff every now and then when the urge overtakes you?
10) Answer the question of your choice. I'm not gonna be picky on this one.

There you go! It's this kind of cutting-edge, er, babbling that makes you want to check My Side every day - EVERY DAY - EVERY DAY - YOU ARE GETTING SLEEPY.....

Monday, September 27, 2004


Comments are a GO!

I repeat: We have Comments!

Go ahead, bitch. Talk some smack!

(... maybe I shouldn't have said that...)

And what did you do during the war, Daddy?...

This isn't one of those "I got so drunk" stories… though I did get so drunk…

Something's changing in me. Something's different. People give me strange looks when I say that. I guess that's because most people aren't as in tune with their "selves" as much as I - and those who are would probably rather not think about how those "selves" don't even exist.
Then, let me put it this way. You know how you can feel when you're going to have diarrhea from that churning in your gut or you know when you've pulled your back out from that stabbing in your back? Well, that's what I feel in my psyche.

It's been a long road for me, this road of self awareness. It started in high school, with my first nervous breakdown, and never ended. It's a road constructed of experience, study, meditation, and just plain being.

But for all the benefits and perks of self-awareness, it's also been a real bitch.

Friday night, I heard the voice again. I was lying in bed, nearly ready to sleep, and they came, booming like a low-flying, supersonic jet. I closed my eyes, hoping it was a fluke or that I'd imagined it… and then they came again. And I have no idea what they said. They don't talk to communicate. They speak to provoke.

And I didn't go to sleep until 5am. I sat outside and smoked.

You're falling apart.

But why? Why now? Everything's fine!

Everything is not fine. You're falling apart.

It was scary because it was true.

But I tried to ignore it the next day, going about my business, and picked Tim up Saturday evening from the train station. He'd come in from San Diego to see the new place and, yes, to drink. Very important, that drinking part. But, for my money, I'd rather it had been chocolate shakes.

We make the obligatory (some might say superfluous) stop by DVD Planet and I spent about $130 on DVDs. Won't someone outlaw this horrible addiction? They outlawed crack, didn't they???

And when I got home, Vicky was there, looking beautiful. The apartment looked pretty nice, too. She'd really worked her buns off and I don't think I thanked her enough. Of course, my mind was on other things. I wanted to drink.

I mean, I really wanted to drink. And I don't often really want to drink. Oh, I'm always up for a drink. I could always use a drink. But there was something different going on here. We sat out on the porch, on the wood bench Vicky and I had assembled that day without fighting once (thank God!), and I had drink after drink after drink after drink after drink. As soon as one was empty, I was calling for another. I must have had Tim running laps! Need more! Need more! Need more, I kept thinking, until, after Tim and Vicky and Vicky's friend, Jeff, had gone in, I sat out there with my last drink. It was my last because, quite honestly, they weren't going to make me any more.

I sat out there like a boxer who'd stepped into the ring one too many times. My head was bowed. My eyes were half-shut. I could barely talk. I could barely move. But I'd be damned if I wasn't going to finish this drink. I took a swallow and my stomach nearly heaved. No, I thought, I'm going to drink this.

And then, from some sober recess of my mind came the question: Why? Why drink this? You're only going to be sick.

So what. I deserve to be sick. I deserve to be miserable. I'm gonna drink this and then, after, I'm gonna drink some more.

And hearing this, I kind of drew back from myself.

I also drank the rest of my martini. Actually, I kind of choked it down.

To Vicky, it must have looked like I was trying to kill myself, drown myself actually.

The only way I can possibly explain what was happening, without thinking of causes or motivations, is to say that it felt like my mind was curled up in a corner and my body had taken control. I was all Id, with nothing more to guide me than my self-destruction.

I entered the apartment, danced around like a marionette with its strings cut and fell down on the sofa. Vicky wasn't there. Tim wasn't there. Jeff must have gone home long ago.

There, on the sofa, I lay with my eyes wide open, thinking. What reason do I have to kill myself. What reason do I have to fall apart? I didn't know. Fine. Then, what reason do I have to be miserable…. No, not be miserable but deserve to be miserable. And then, it came to me, like a personal demon, shouting, You know what you did! You know how you broke Rosa's heart. And you're just going to do it again! How dare you behave like to deserve happiness after what you've done! How dare you behave as though everything's going to be all right! You're going to betray Vicky! You're going to hurt Vicky! And you don't have the guts to either leave or kill yourself before it happens!

The thoughts shook me off the sofa. I staggered into the bathroom, thinking I was going to throw up but I didn't, and I laid down on the tile floor. I love Vicky, I thought. I care very deeply about her happiness and her well being. I'm not going to betray her. I didn't betray Rosa; she betrayed me!

I got up from the floor and went into the bedroom… laid on the bed.

You fucking hypocrite!

I didn't stagger. I RAN into the bathroom. I thought I vomited four or five times but Vicky later told me that was multiplied by eight!

After I'd washed my face and brushed my teeth and returned to bed, I thought, Is it possible I have a drinking problem? No, that didn't ring true. I only drank about once a week (sometimes less) and hadn't drank that much in a year and a half. Drinking is not the problem. Ken is the problem. I hate Ken and feel I haven't been punished nearly enough. I keep knocking him to the floor but I keep getting back up again… eventually, I've got to get together with myself and have tea and talk.

I was sitting in bed with Vicky last night and mentioned this dual nature. As you can probably guess, she thought I was nuts.

But I think we're all like that. I think we all have different identities that fill different roles and the person everyone on the outside sees is the coach who keeps them all in check. This first occurred to me many years ago, when I suffered amnesia and, trying to figure out who I was, couldn't seem to make the pieces fit back together again.

Humpty-Dumpty Syndrome…

Maybe it was a result of amnesia that I see these pieces as more pronounced. But I told Vicky last night who they were. I tried to list them

* There's the Ken everybody knows and sees.
* There's the Ken who hates himself and wants to see himself suffer.
* There's the Ken who writes.
* There's the Ken who acts.
* There's philosopher Ken.
* The Super-Battle Ken with Action Grip…

None of these Kens could function without the other… and there may be more. But right now they're so split, so fragmented… it's no wonder they feel like they're shifting into a new pattern. And probably no wonder there's this internal conflict.

But that's me. To know me is to know the paradox of self-awareness and self-surprise, the struggle between serenity and chaos…

Oh, I'm a lot of fun!

Friday, September 24, 2004

It's the "VICKY'S SWEATY HAT" Blog-a-thon!!!...

So, I've got this roll of paper towels... and Vicky's baseball cap...

And I found it amazing that Vicky's hat fit over the roll of paper towels.

"Take that off of there!" Vicky shouted, grabbing her hat. "Nobody wants my sweaty hat on the paper towels!"

"Sure they do." I replied. "Everyone wants your sweaty hat on their paper towels."

Alas, she assured me they did not.

Well, now's your chance to prove her wrong! Write to me (at that link that says to write to me) and share the love! Tell me (and yes, Vicky, too) about how much you love her sweaty hat. She has the more adorable sweat in the known universe and it smells good, too. Share your Vicky's Sweaty Hat stories. Write a poem about Vicky's Sweaty Hat. Yes, you can even stalk her sweaty hat.

Come on.



(The "Vicky's Sweaty Hat" Blog-a-thon is a division of Ken-co, a solely-owned subsidiary of The My Side Foundation. My Side, providing strange shit since 1983...)

Buy you a beer, soldier?...

Hey, you can "support our troops" or you can really SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!

I figure the choice is pretty clear... or light... or blonde...

First line for the new play...

Where this will go, I don't know, but it seems to fit...

Think of it this way. Look up above at all the stars. More stars than you could ever count. And around those stars, even more planets. Odds are there's more life out in the universe than we could ever imagine. Life that has evolved beyond pettiness and despair and sorrow and pain. And yet, they are far beyond our reach. All we have is each other. And we suck.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Could this be the end of Twinkie the Kid?...

Interstate Bakeries, makers of such - cough - fine food products as - cough - Twinkies has filed Chapter 11!

Could this mean the end of Twinkies? No more Twinkies? No more heart-attack-inducing, dry-mouth-giving, gut-fattening... CRAP?!

... let's hope so...

(Don't worry kids. There's still Zingers...)

Here I sit, broken hearted...

(Sometimes I can't help it. Inside, I'm an eight year-old!)

Vicky has informed me to wait until "faux" diamonds are the highest of high fashion... and then she still wouldn't go for it. And considering that at that point supply & demand might end up making the real thing cheaper, it just goes to show how much she cares!

... or something...

No movement on the play. I have decided to stop fighting it. I will write it. I'll probably start on Monday. For now, at least, I still can't break into it - there seems to be a two-inch thick layer of mental jell-o dividing me from it. It's just... over... there. I can't get to it just yet. Not to fear, though. I've been here before and I know it's simply chronological.

You see, over here, I see the play in pieces of time - snips of dialogue. Over there, it hasn't started... yet. It just needs to catch up with me.

It's going to be different from my previous work. Aren't they all? In this case, it won't be a romantic comedy - yet it will still deal with relationships. No one will discuss things like their jobs or their homes - when you're committing suicide those things are too far removed and basic feelings become more immediate. This play will be more dynamic than my past work - almost like a musical in that it will be broken into "songs" of a type. But most importantly, this will probably be the most... what? From the guts - "fuck you" - take no prisoners - - - angry, yes, that's it. It will probably be the most angry of all my work.

Which immediately makes me wonder, "What do I have to be so angry about?"

I don't know... but it's nice to see a familiar face.

I hadn't realized - until this moment - how much I've needed to reconnect to that side of myself. Maybe that's why I've been feeling so dead lately... I don't know.

But I think I'll bum a cigarette and think about it.

Faux-get me not...

I've been noticing lately how popular "faux" things have become. "Faux" fur. "Faux" fabric. I even saw an ad for a "faux" jacket. (Imagine that, a fake jacket! Ponder that one for a while! What do you say if someone says, "Nice jacket." How do you reply? "It's not really a jacket.")

"Faux" has become so popular, I'm wondering where it will stop!

Will women start having "faux" orgasms?

Will people in Hollywood have "faux" personalities?

I wonder, if I'd only waited a while, if I could have gotten away with buying Vicky a "faux" diamond...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

In case there was any doubt in your mind...

So, I spoke to Vicky a while ago...

Ken: So, what do you think about me writing a comedy about suicide?

Vicky: (after a pause) It's a comedy?

Ken: (needing no pause) Yep.

Vicky: (and you can tell from her voice that she thinks I'm absolutely batshit loco) Well, it does leave a bad taste in one's mouth...

Yes, folks. You heard right. It's a comedy!

My art. My life…

Last night, Vicky was in a foul temper. At least, it seemed that she was from my perspective. To her, she was simply focused. She was trying to get through more boxes.

We're nearly done.

She told me, "That's just how I get when I have something I need to get done. I'm focused in on it. I'm sure you'll be the same way once you start writing."

"No, I won't," I replied.

"Yes. You will."

I said, though I don't think she heard me, "I've already started."

Either she didn't hear me or she chose not to reply. I mean, what a bizarre response! I found it bizarre even as I said it! I've already started? When? Started what? I spent most of the night thinking about this and wondering at how sometimes you speak the truth without knowing you're doing it. Then, last night I got up at 2am for a couple of hours and thought about it, thought about suicide, thought about the changes going on within me… and then I thought about all of that on the way into work, thinking I'd write it all down once I got in, which is what I'm doing.

Thinking, "Vicky will read all about it later", got a laugh out of me. Only a few months into the relationship, I'm already getting that vibe off of Vicky that says, "Oh my god, you wrote again! Don't you ever shut up?!" Name your art - painting, writing, stand-up comedy - and it's a form of self-expression. The fun of being in that relationship is that you're always expressed to! A couple years from now, I'm going to find Vicky at a bar with Rosa, trying to make an exchange!

How does one start to write before one writes? And how can I be writing something I don't know how to write before I even start thinking about, outlining, or joke-writing for the thing I guess I'm going to write?! And "thing" it is. It has no form, no substance, not even in my head! So, how can I be writing it?

In Buddhist philosophy, there's a concept which I vaguely recall named the "Aggregates of Self". The idea is that if you remove these aggregates, which are not your "self", you find that there is no "self". The first is matter or body. Are you your body or is there more there? Second is Sensation. You are more than you feel. Third is Perception. You certainly are more than just what you perceive. Fourth, mental formations or thoughts. If you quiet your mind, you're still there - so that's not the self. The fifth aggregate is Consciousness, which goes away when you sleep, so…

Some say the body is the fuel of life and it gets used up by the time you die… which explains why it looks so bad at the end… So, are you the fuel? Or are you the fire that consumes the fuel?

This morning, sitting there in the dark, I thought of my writing (which is the verb, not the noun) in a similar way. How do I write? With my hands? No, most of it is in my head. With my brain, then? I used to think so but so much tends to open up for me, be revealed to me, these days, I don't need to think about it. And on and on I go, eliminating sources and considerations until I'm left with the thought that I write with my entirety. Every part of me contributes to what I write. My writing isn't a thing but, rather, a fire that burns… and sometimes it burns brightly, such as right now.

I started writing this suicide idea the minute it crossed my mind and was caught. Though it bothers me, there it is. And it bothers me for reasons both internal and external. Let's hit the external one first. Basically, I don't want to go to a place where, if I write about suicide, people are going to think I want to commit suicide. Do people who write about WWII, want to go to WWII? Do people who write about vulcanology want to be inside an volcano??? See, it's a very irritating thought!

As for what's going on inside… I can't even begin to explain. Some of it's going on too far within. I can't get down that far.

First thing is, let's be real, I've got this beautiful woman with whom I've very much in love (we're talking about Vicky here) and I really don't want to be in a mental place that doesn't help that. I don't want to be writing depressing stuff; I want to think happy! … But even as I write that, kicking and screaming like a child, I realize that it's too late. Welcome to "Now"!

The second reason it bothers me is because we're walking through really boggy ground, here. Let's ignore what could possibly happen after it is finished - if that ever happens at all! Considering only the next few months, my head's going to be flooded with the undead (more on that in a minute) and I won't be particularly impressive to any of Vicky's friends. "Hi. This is my fiancĂ©e, Ken. He's a writer." "Really? Wow. What do you write about?" "SUICIDE…" That's bound to break up any party. … Again, I want to write nice things. Happy things.

I want to write a freaking episode of "The Smurfs", okay?!

But I know that's not possible. If this thing wants out, it's coming out. (Assuming for a minute, this isn't just some mental construct to get me thinking on these issues. It's entirely possible another idea could come through later today. Flakey? Sure. But that's my head.)
So, let's dip a little into this brew, shall we?

Two guys on a bridge… ready to jump. Here's a little insight for you. At that minute, you've already been dead a long time. It's this feeling of being the walking dead, the undead (though without the regular thirst for human brains), that makes you want to do it to begin with. I know, when I went, it was to end all the pain, but whose to say some people don't do it for just the opposite reason: absence of feeling…

So, two guys on a bridge… ready to jump. One guy is filled with grief. The other feels nothing. One thing about feeling nothing, you get a lot of perspective… and that perspective could bring jokes.

Two guys on a bridge… ready to jump. One guy feels nothing - and comments on it. The other guy is filled with grief, so his jokes arise from frustration, sarcasm. They are both at different points in their life. At one time, the non-feeling guy felt things. In fact, you usually become unfeeling because you burn out, you withdraw from the fire of your life into a cold corner. So, let's say they're two years apart in emotional development. Mr. Grief-stricken will probably become Mr. Unfeeling, if he makes it that far.

Two guys on a bridge… ready to jump. One guy feels nothing - and comments on it. The other guy is filled with grief, so his jokes arise from frustration, sarcasm. They are both at different points in their life. … And what if they got there the same way??? Through - keeping in mind that this is a Ken La Salle play - the same woman??? And what if she came out to stop Mr. Grief-stricken… and finds Mr. Unfeeling there as well… And learning how she's hurt these guys, left a string of suicidal guys around the city, she decides to kill herself???

And that's called a play.

Incidentals such as what kinds of people these are, where they came from, where they're going, how they deal and respond… well, that I make up as I go. (Shhhh! Ancient Chinese Secret!!!!)
This all comes back to me and I see myself in relief. I see Ken Grief-stricken heading to the Grand Canyon. I'd given everything I had to Rosa and had been destroyed. I just wanted to end the pain. And now, here I am… two years later… and I can certainly feel Ken Unfeeling in there, a guy who has been hurt so bad it is a struggle to give to a relationship without holding something back for security, without flinching. Once bitten, twice paranoid. I'm even inside the woman, whatever her name will be, because I'm the force for change within me, even without willing it.

Mostly, I'm just tired.

And I haven't even started putting words on paper… or magnetic storage…

When will that begin? There's no way to say.

It would help if I had a cigarette...

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Fantasizing about women, so you don't have to...

So, I'm at lunch and it suddenly occurs to me that I wrote in the last My Side that this play idea "involves a woman". Well, no shit. Doesn't everything I write? Does this come as any surprise?!

Hell, I'll admit it. I love women. I've been a fan for years. Once I was bored - and then I realized that all my free time could be spent thinking about women! If fantasizing about women was a job, I'd be a fucking millionaire. If fantasizing about women made you smarter, I'd be fucking Einstein!

So, there you go.

In other news, grass is green...

Next person who chants "Support Our Troops" gets it...

Boy, our nation's armed forces sure have gotten a royal screwing during Shrub's administration. Deployed to war. Benefits cut. It seems the only rational thing left to do is leave... right?


The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that some soldiers are being given the unenviable choice of reinlistment or immediate deployment. Nice. I remember reading about two other armies doing that... during WWII... the Nazi's and the Soviet's!!

Still think we should support our troops over there? How about voting Shrub out of office for a start?

Let me tell you a secret. They all jump…

It was last night. We were sitting on our patio in the slightly chilly, autumn (no, not you Autumn!) evening, sharing a quiet moment to celebrate our three-month anniversary. We both held bottles of cider. After a moment, I said, "Um, well, cheers." and we clinked the bottles together.

My mind wasn't entirely there. My mind was where it had been all day. It was on a very high bridge… and I was getting ready to jump.

I'd been bothered for days by this frozen moment that had popped into my head and, quite frankly, I just wanted it to go away. I knew what it was. It was a play.

Yes, it was a new play.

But I didn't want to talk to a new play and I especially didn't want to talk to this new play.
I must have been some company. "Well," I said, obviously distracted, "a lot has happened in three months." For a moment, I was silent and then said, as if she didn't know, "I met you three months ago."

Then, I was back up on that bridge.

You see, the problem is that you can never do enough. You can never give enough. There are some things that consume you, whether you want them to or not. With me, that equates a bunch of manuscripts carelessly left behind. Before Rosa and I split up, I'd started on my best novel to date, Vampire Society. I could never finish it now, though, thanks to how much I've changed since then and the fact that it condemns SUV owners… (Love ya, Vic!) Last year, I was writing, This They Call Freedom, a play that I'll probably not finish, thanks to how much I've changed since then.

That's another thing. Change. Nobody ever warned me how devastating that can be on a life. And it seems to come faster with every year! And it's not just me! Tim Clostio used to be a writer - now he can't even contemplate that! Tim Murphy has totally changed since he got married a few years back. Three years ago, Sean and I could barely stand to be in the same room - now we're buds. Vicky didn't intend to get engaged when she went to shoot pool the evening of June 20.

It's an old saying but the old constant is change. The primary reason that All Life is Suffering (Buddhism 101) is change! I can deal with change as an idea but when it stops me from finishing things, which then stops me from starting things out of the guilt of not finishing thing (and let's not talk about not starting things: Hello! The screenplay!), I get irate!

Vicky wanted to go inside. She was a bit cold.

I said little as I got up. I was back on that bridge.

I've been there for days, watching this frozen moment. Two guys, both ready to jump, hanging onto the cables.

… there's my play.

There's my play? The first time the thought occurred to me, I was incredulous. You've got to be kidding! I left the edge of the Grand Canyon two years ago, I thought. There's no need for me to write about suicide!

But like tumblers in a very complicated lock, things are falling into place. Things that tell me this may actually be the best time for me to write this play. That's why the idea has come now.

First reason: economy. I started a piece a few years ago about suicide but stopped after about six pages. So, I have material.

Second reason: jokes. I have them. Most of the jokes I've been writing lately have been rather morbid… which would seem apropos.

Third reason: I never did fully explore suicide in any of my writings and, as close as I came, I may have some insight. You don't just step on that ledge once or slit your wrists one time. Like a kid jumping from a swing or a runner getting in the right state of mind for a race, you do it over and over and over again. Even after I didn't jump, the inclination to jump was so strong that I still felt it even after I was sure I'd never do it. It was habitual. It was instinctive.

Earlier, Vicky and I started to watch Doc Hollywood (with Michael J. Fox). I really love that movie because it doesn't provide a scapegoat to blame everything on. People try to be nice to each other… they just make mistakes. They're human. I said to Vicky, "I wish I could write stories like that."

But you look at Everything Changes. And you look at Atheists. At Whatever Happened to Me. At Revelations….. I don't write stories like that. And it occurred to me that, sometimes, the stories one loves to read one doesn't always write or perform or create. There are probably Expressionists who admired Naturalists. There may be Existentialists who long to be Behavioralists. Robert Englund would probably love to do a musical!

Fourth reason to write this: Because I can. I write twisted stories of frustrated people who have a lot to vent. Hello! There's someone at the door! His name is Opportunity!



Even as I typed the last paragraph, I realized, though, that I'm still too twisted up about the idea. I'm just not sure.

Let's face it. It's well-explored territory. Find yourself a sitcom that never dealt with it and you'll have one that didn't last a season! Beyond that, I can see the path this thing would take - the same way you can see a street when you look at a map but it doesn't look like the real street… it just shows you which way it goes. It would be convoluted… and there would be a woman involved (a third character). Lastly, how do you resolve something like that satisfactorily? Kill them both? A little dark. Let them live? Calling Mr. Disney! It's treacherous territory.

Any thoughts?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Ode to a Perublican...

(Snatched from Moby's site)

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with communist China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all humankind without regulation.

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's cocaine conviction is none of our business. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers for your recovery.

You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have the right to adopt.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '70s & '80s is irrelevant.

Try to figure out why stem cell research is taboo, but creationism makes a lot of sense.

The three-month curse...

It seems I tend to be with people for 3 months or a really, really long time.

I was with Teresa Alaniz for 3 month and we broke up because I kissed a girl named Cindy. (Yes, I know it sounds familiar. Why don't you just shut the hell up?!)

I was with Julie Starr for 3 months. Just for the record, I finally ended things with that first Cindy so I could date Julie... without having to worry about kissing any Cindies...

I was with DeAnna Caudillo for 3 months - not because I kissed anyone but because she was a lunatic.

... anyway, 3 months.

(And, yes, I know that the Elements of Style dictates that you spell out 3 but I'm taking artistic license.)

(Yes, I can, too!)

Anyway, today Vicky and I celebrate our 3-month anniversary. We've passed that 3-month threshold, which is good because I really love Vicky and I've passed up on several Cindies who wanted to kiss...

Thanks for sticking it out with me, Vic, and I hope you continue to do so for a really, really long time - if for no other reason than it's almost certain I'll write a book or a play about you...

For those who think things are getting a bit too heavy...

Had this great dream last night.

Vicky and I were watching a parade and the announcer announced (after all, what else was he going to do?), "the all white, marching blues band"...

... you had to be there.

Early Morning - and Everything Changes...

I got into work early today, starting on a new schedule. Actually, I got into work WAY too early this morning: 7:00am. (Yes. This means those of you who go into work earlier are just plain crazy.) I'm starting this new schedule with the idea that I'll hit the gym after work at 4:00pm, also with the hope that it'll ease my morning commute. Waking up was certainly no problem, though Vicky did not chose the nicest way I could think of to wake me.

I used to think the worst way I was ever awoken was back in 1984, in Las Vegas. I'd gone there with a girl named Deanna and her family. One morning, Deanna came over to the sofa I was sleeping on - traveling on the cheap - and started poking my forehead with her finger... over and over again. Like a woodpecker! Eventually - god knows how long this took - I got up with a scream.

Not pleasant.

This morning, Vicky shoved her finger into my ankle and dug around. It was crude but effective. Whatever happened to a kiss on the cheek?

Vicky and I haven't really been getting along. The strain of the move and the stress of the wedding planning, I think, are fraying us both at the ends. So, we've been bickering and fighting just about every day. There may be more to it, of course. I know there is with me.

Wednesday and Thursday nights, I only slept a couple of hours. Friday night, we were both sitting outside, having a clove (and enjoyment I'm going to have to ease up on again now that I'll be hitting the gym). We weren't really talking. We were kind of past talking.

Oddly enough, and I only found this out later - Sunday, I think - both of us felt we were walking on egg shells. Vicky was afraid to talk because she didn't want to make me mad at her yet again and I was afraid to talk because I didn't want to make her mad at me... yet again...

But something was on my mind that night that has been there for the past few weeks. Every day that passes, though, it seems to be more prevalent, more solidly defined... like a relief coming into focus. Now that it's coming into focus, I can talk about it. And I wanted to talk about it - but I was with Vicky and I didn't want to talk to her because I didn't want to make her angry at me... yet again.

And as you probably know, once started, it wouldn't be a short talk. Mostly people talk in sentences. I talk in chapters.

Still, I had to keep it short.

I decided to make a blanket statement and wait for her to inquire further... springing the trap, as it were.

"Something's going on," I said. "I can feel myself changing."

There it was. The bait. Now to wait for her to take it.

"I had 97 emails waiting for me today."

And there it was. I had something I wanted to talk about and so did she... and neither of us would without invitation. That's all either of us were doing: asking for an invitation. She didn't ask me, "What's wrong, honey? What do you mean?" and I didn't ask her whatever it was that she wanted me to ask. And we sat there... kind of like idiots.

So, Vic, I'm asking.

And I'm also telling.

The upshot of this Blog is I don't need to ask. I just tell.

Things have been different lately. If 1998-Ken were to look at 2004-Ken, he'd be offended, at least. I'm riding in SUVs. (Driving SUVs!!!) I'm not recycling. I'm buying and using things I wouldn't have considered only a few years ago. On top of that, I see myself listening to music I don't really care for and watching far too much television.

The root of all of this - the root I can see thus far, at least - is very strange. Simply put, I just don't feel like I care any more. This strange sense of apathy seems to have swept over me and I just don't care. I've reached this point where peace is more important than what is right and my opinions just want a rest.

And this is just the start of it - just what I can see right now. I get this feeling of the tide of all my energies drawing out, signaling some kind of existential tsunami!

This is what I want to deal with. This is what I want to figure out. I want to see the tsunami coming before it hits. After all, if these things I've described were normal and benign, why do I feel this looming sense of dread?

One hopes I'll find some answers as I explore this unease.

... one more thing.

I can feel I'm going to be writing soon. It's that long drive, got to go to the bathroom feeling. You know it's coming before it really hits (but, sadly, not until you're well on your way).

I told Vicky the other night, "There's something inside that needs to come out." The tricky part is, I don't know what it is.

But I wrote something down last night... and it startled me. I wrote Life is the ultimate trap.

I'll need to think about this for a while.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

First entry from the new place...

Well, here I am. New address. New email.

I handed in my keys to my old apartment.

There's no going back.

I am, in a word, stuck.

I know the phrase is "for better or worse" but I'd prefer better... I guess we'll see...

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

What'choo talking 'bout, Me Hardies???...

Torture those you love, people on the street, even your family, too. Yes, National "Talk Like a Pirate" Day approaches.

September 19th....


The point of the pointless story... or "Let Go, Let Me"...

Let me preface this little slice of my head.... While I'm not a practicing member of any one religion, those who've known me longest know that I've found the balance beam of Buddhism to my liking for some time. I call it a balance beam because it is actual work. You don't just say "Okay" to Buddhism as you may with Christianity. In a very existential sense, you don't so much practice Buddhism as you do work on it. It's work. And I am only on the fundamentals. Believe me on this, for me, just getting started is nearly Sisyphusian - to stretch an analogy. But I find it worthwhile... which is why things like this happen...

I've been working a whole lot on detachment. I tend to hang on to things too long - everyone say "No Duh!" - and that's a lot of energy wasted, like sand running through your fist. Detachment is hard for me with the easiest of things - I still have a box of MAD magazines from the 1980's in my old apartment that I know I can't move to the new apartment but I hate the thought of throwing away - and when it comes to hard stuff, well, who are we kidding?

So, as you know, I moved this past weekend. We got Vicky's refrigerator set up - oh, and by the way, according to her, we have an ice-making fridge because I am all about the crushed ice. It's all me, baby. So, this means we don't need mine. I don't need mine. But I bought it new just a few years ago. I hated the thought of just giving it to Goodwill. I wanted this one to go to someone I knew, help someone out I could put a face on. Vicky found someone. His name's Gary and he has a large family and he could use another fridge. Okay, then, it would go to Gary.

But Gary couldn't find the time to pick it up. We finally got him pinned down to last night. He'd show up at 6pm and pick it up.

I went to the apartment after work to pack up a few things. The things I'm now packing are getting smaller and smaller. Not less significant, though, so I pack them. When Vicky showed, I went out to her car... and we waited.

And then we found out that Gary would be late. He wouldn't be there until 7:30pm.

"Let's just go home and come back later," Vicky suggested.

"No! I don't wanna!" I said like a baby. "I don't wanna drive on the freeway! I don't wanna!"

So, there I was. Mr. Enlightened. Holding on tight to the plans that were made. I even thought "I'm giving it away for a little good Karma! I shouldn't have to wait!" Folks, you don't get Karma. You don't earn Karma. It doesn't work like that. What is simply is. You do good out of goodness. There is no reward.

Oh, I wanted good Karma and I do believe in good Karma but it's not a reward. The good that you put in the world increases the goodness in the world - not in your bank account!

Mr. Enlightened - I use that phrase sarcastically - slowly got it, though, and slowly acquiesced. Driving home - and it's so strange, calling that "home"... I'll get used to it. Driving home was actually far less painful that I thought. Once I let go of my demands and fears, I found I could enjoy it.

So, we returned at 7:30... and we waited... and waited... and waited.

Shortly before 8:30, I had a choice to make. At what point do you say "enough"? I thought about this... and paced. I knew I was angry. I was pissed! I hadn't had dinner yet. I had things to do at home.

So, for just a moment, I observed that part that was angry and accepted what I was feeling. But would I stop waiting because I was angry? I realized that wasn't all of it.

Simply put, some things are not meant to be. So, we're going to try to set up another time for Gary to pick it up and, if he can't: Goodwill. A donation is a donation is a donation, after all.
We picked up some dinner on the way home... I fell asleep on the way home. I fell asleep because my anger was tied in with my exhaustion and both of them were starting to snap at Vicky. It was easy to let go of the directionless anger once I let go of some of the exhaustion. Hey, sometimes it is as easy as that.

But then we got home and Vicky was a beehive of activity while I, having hurt my back the day before, couldn't do too much. I felt useless. I felt miserable. Again, it took me several minutes (not just once, but a few times during the evening) to realize that I wasn't useless. I'd done a lot of work and would do more. I only felt that way because I wasn't doing anything and I thought that I needed to constantly prove my worth to her. I didn't need to, though - and I needed to accept that. And I didn't need to be miserable. I could let that go.

Vicky got her stereo set up and we listened to a little of "Love Out of Time". Listening to it, I was taken back to when I made it, when I was working so hard at leaving Rosa behind. It took me four years to do that - and it wasn't, by any means, a straight road. Roads rarely are. I laughed a little and thought, again, about how I have a problem with detachment.

The only epilogue I can put on this story is that I woke up this morning, still exhausted and sore from the move. In fact, I just couldn't get out of bed. So, I took a minute and thought about all I'd done and how hard I worked. I had every reason to feel what I felt. It was okay to feel what I felt. I let myself feel it for a minute... then I got up.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Don't read if you want to keep thinking we're the good guys...

US helicopters firing indescrimately into crowds... sorry, folks. That's how we do business in Iraq.

Presidential Prayer Team!... no, I'm not kidding...

Who needs separation of church and state when you have the Presidential Prayer Team!?

Really! The Presidential Prayer Team!

... remember back when politicians had brains?

... neither do I...

Here's one you should read...

As you probably know, Garrison Keillor is one of my favorite writers. In the following column, I feel he's summed up our present political situation succinctly and urgently. This is required reading...

"We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore"

By Garrison Keillor

Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships.

They were good hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element.

The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican.

He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned and there was a degree of plain decency in the country.

Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today's.

Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor. In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass and made training films in Long Beach.

The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. "Bipartisanship is another term of date rape," says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering! Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee rooms and write legislation to alleviate the suffering of billionaires!

Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight! O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the sure sign of Divine Grace.

Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy - the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president's personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good.

Our beloved land has been fogged with fear - fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn't the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it's 9/11 that we keep coming back to. It wasn't the "end of innocence," or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn't prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.

Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second term.

This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're not getting any younger.

Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you, dear reader. It's a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning.

Where Shrub was... and wasn't...

Ever wonder what it looks like when your President - the person who holds the highest office in the land - the one person in whom you place your highest ideals - is a slacker, coward low-life?

Well, then look here! Yep, someone put together a timeline of just what Shrub was doing when Kerry was risking his life for his country.

And, as Bob Harris points out at This Modern World:

Incidentally, as Salon long ago pointed out, the start of Bush's Lost Months -- April 1972 -- coincided with the beginning of random drug testing.

Could just be a coincidence, of course.

Same way that the birth of Dick Cheney's first-born child came exactly nine months and two days after Selective Service decided to draft childless husbands.

Gee, these guys do have remarkable coincidences with remarkable frequency, don't they?

It's all about the pain...

Two days after the move, I'm still in pain.

Last night, while carrying a stack of boxes, my foot caught on the raised lip of some concrete and I tripped. The boxes sailed forward and I had to lunge to catch them. (One was filled with glasses.) Well, I caught them and my back was wrenched to holy hell.

So, my back is spasming.

At some point between lifting 100 pound safes, refrigerators, TVs, and other assorted weight-abundant-objects, I pulled the bicep in my left arm.

My right arm... well, you've seen it, right? It's Humpty Dumpty and it hurts so not to be left out.

At one point Sunday, while moving bookcases, I said, "Why's my leg sting?" I looked down and noticed blood running down my leg from just below the knee. Like an idiot, I said, "Hey, I got cut." Duh.

Basically, I'm in a lot of pain... and hurt too much to write about it...

Monday, September 13, 2004

Mess sweet Mess...

The cats were hiding and wouldn't come out. The living room was full of furniture stacked akimbo. There was nowhere to sit but for the two lawn chairs I'd put outside. We were bloodied and bruised and filthy and exhausted.

But we were home.

This had all started weeks ago when somebody, let's say it was Vicky, got it into their head that we should move in together. And so, we'd begun packing and packing, donating to Goodwill, and just plain throwing shit out. We picked the worst possible weekend to move. I mean, no hurricanes were zeroing in on us but the air was so thick there might as well have been one. God, it was humid! It was already pretty ugly at 9am Saturday when I went to Vicky's apartment to help her move her stuff. The weather caused us to take frequent breaks... which, I suppose, was not a bad thing. Around noon or so, Paula and Don showed up to help, so Don and I got to move the heavy stuff.... joy. Vicky's desk, having been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, had to be taken apart... several times... and, so, we had to wait. But, by 5pm, bruised and achy, we were (more or less) finished. And I went home.

Mind you, none of this would have been accomplished without Sean. Sean Deyo never reads My Side but, nonetheless, deserves to be mentioned because I am so thankful for him. He got me a dolly from his work. (I must be tired. I'm using phrases as grammatically tenuous as "his work".) It could be extended/opened/changed into many different positions and orientations. It was a Transformer; that's what it was!

Sean showed up Sunday morning, too, to help me move my stuff. Yes, Saturday was Vicky's day - Sunday was mine... or so I thought.

When Sean came to my door at 8am Sunday morning, I had been up for an hour already. I hadn't gone to bed until 3:30am, either - I just couldn't sleep. I was like a kid at Christmas and had spent half the night packing more boxes. What else was I going to do? My TV was disconnected as well as my PC! I asked Sean if we could stop off and get some food - my apartment has had food in days - but, he said, he'd just come from eating. "And you didn't take me?!"

"I didn't know you'd be up," he replied, rather defensively.

So, we got in his car and headed to the U-Haul place to get the truck. "Let's see," he said, "you've got to move the wall unit, the bed, boxes." A look of shock came over his face, the look of someone who'd forgotten their colostomy bag.... or something equally as necessary. "I forgot the cat carriers!!" Cat carriers... for carrying cats... do their doom if you asked them. Well, Sean dropped me off at the U-haul place and drove to his house to get the cat carriers. We met back at my apartment. Shortly, Vicky and Jeff showed up. Jeff is an old friend of Vicky's... he's very tall, green, and says "Ho! Ho! Ho!" all the time when his friend, Sprout, talks to him. Okay, maybe he's not that tall but he's got to be half a foot taller than me, easily. Vicky was there to get the refrigerator dolly that I'd picked up, so she was gone soon. Then, it was moving time, with the mechanical precision that comes with three guys moving. Basically, we took a lot of smoke breaks.

At one point, Jeff and I were loading things onto the truck - Sean was in the apartment - and Jennifer came out. Ah, Jennifer... my lesbian neighbor... When I first moved in, I'd figured I would date her eventually... but that whole "lesbian" thing kind of got in the way. Still, there's always been a little sexual tension between us. (Just let me have that.) She approached me with a slightly sad, slightly inquisitive look on her face. I smiled a little. "I haven't seen you in a while. I'm moving."

"Oh," she said. "Where to?"

"Garden Grove."

"Oh. Will you still be at Linksys?"

"Oh, sure. Turns out we're right next door to you." Jennifer works at Blizzard Entertainment and got me in the World of Warcraft alpha and beta tests.

"Oh, then maybe I'll still see you around."

"Maybe," I said.

Suddenly, she threw herself at me. "No! I can't let you go! Don't you see? All that we've gone through can't be without meaning! What about Paris? What about the twins? What about all the promises you made?"

"Get your filthy paws off'a ma man, be-otch!" Vicky shouted, jumping on the roof of a nearby car... it was a small car. "We is gettin' hitched and no oversexed lesbian is gonna stop that!"

"He's mine," Jennifer shouted, approaching Vicky. "You can't take him away from me!"

"There's only one way we're gonna settle this," Vicky said. "That is to fight it out - NINJA STYLE!"

And so, there was this cat fight between Jennifer and Vicky as Jeff and I sat on the truck's bumper, eating popcorn.

... Okay. After I said, "Maybe," she walked to her car and left... it would have been better the other way.

By noon, we had the truck loaded and, heading out on to the freeway, I wondered how fast you could take a turn in a fully-loaded U-haul.

Pretty fast, as it turns out.

Sean had to be at work at 1:30pm, so once we pulled up at the apartment, we started unloading the truck.

Now, Vicky would probably rather I didn't tell you about this. Vicky would probably rather I shut the hell up. But Vicky has this quirk - she won't allow anything to come into the apartment until she's dusted it first. This made it very slow going. What made it worse was that her dad was working on running a water line to her fridge (which we hadn't moved yet)... and, so, we had to wait (You notice that we didn't have wait on my stuff!) Sean and I unloaded the truck onto the sidewalk and he took off. Jeff and I moved as much of that close to the apartment as possible but couldn't move too much - we needed room for the fridge.

And then, we waited some more.

Jeff and I sat and smoked.

And then, we waited.

Finally, the fridge could be moved. Imagine three fully grown (and, in some cases, more so) men struggling to move a fridge across a complex (remember, it was the same complex she lived in), and you begin to see why Professional Movers exist.

We got the fridge into the apartment... and then we waited.

Jeff and I sat and smoked.

And then, we waited some more.

Vicky got some beer from a neighbor. Jeff and I sat and smoked.

And then, we waited longer

Finally, the fridge was done. (In all honesty, her dad was great to do this. He's a terrific guy and I really like. It was all Vicky's fault for needing a fridge that dispenses ice. In our next home, I'm getting her a mildly cool rag to put her food on AND THAT'S IT!) Jeff and I moved the remainder of my belonging inside in less than a half hour - dusted or not!

That was around 3pm and I had to return the truck. Jeff followed me so he could take me home for my car... and more boxes. (I HATE boxes!) Maybe he could tell I was tired. Maybe watching me break several traffic laws on the way back gave him some idea. I don't know. All I know is that, when I saw down in his car, having returned the truck, he had the AC on, he handed me a cig, and gave me the lighter. Basically, I love Jeff.

Back to my apartment I went, a shell of it's former glory. Let's review here. This was where I had my nervous breakdown, where I sleepwalked, nightmared, plotted suicide, tried to get back together with Rosa, dated DeAnna, wrote Everything Changes, Atheists, Whatever Happened to Me, and so much else! This was where I hit bottom and where I lifted myself back up again. My home for more than four years... and boy did it look like crap. I stuffed two boxes full of stuff and was on my way.

Now, I hadn't eaten yet... all day. In fact, it had been nearly 24 hours since my last meal. I wouldn't say I was running on fumes - the fumes were gone long ago! So, I drove to Carl's Jr and I ordered - yes, I know, just understand I was really tired and really hungry - burgers for Vicky and I.

We ate them on lawn chairs I brought, out on our porch. It would have been impossible to eat inside. It was a big, fat, ugly mess but it was ours. We were home.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Words haunt us...

I'm a big fan of Harry Knowle's site Ain't It Cool and read it often. Today, amidst our war and our deceptive, hate-filled president, he posted this quote from Stanley Kramer's masterpiece, Judgement at Nuremburg.

I found it rather appropos...

“There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. There was, above all, fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us: 'Lift up your heads! Be proud to be German! There are devils among us. Communists, Liberals, Jews, Gypsies! Once the devils will be destroyed, your miseries will be destroyed.' It was the old, old story of the sacrifical lamb. What about us, who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we participate? Because we loved our country! What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. 'The country is in danger.' We will 'march out of the shadows.' 'We will go forward.' And history tells you how well we succeeded! We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. The very elements of hate and power about Hitler that mesmerized Germany, mesmerized the world! We found ourselves with sudden powerful allies. Things that had been denied us as a democracy were open to us now. The world said go ahead, take it! Take Sudetenland, take the Rhineland - remilitarize it - take all of Austria, take it! We marched forward, the danger passed. And then one day, we looked around and found we were in even more terrible danger. The rites began in this courtroom, swept over our land like a raging, roaring disease! What was going to be a passing phase became a way of life.”

Just incredibly good eats...

Those of you who know me (and, why don't you? You're reading this!) know that I have this relationship with food. Basically, I love food the way Republicans love seeing brown people killed.

Way back in a different life, I started watching a little show called "Good Eats", hosted by a rather unique guy named Alton Brown. Alton Brown is funny, pithy... weird... I like him.

And then, today, I found his website, which I think you really need to check out.

He has this "rants & raves" section... kind of like any given My Side. Today, he wrote:

I have decided to move from the planet. I’m sorry but I simply cannot remain on a world where Paris Hilton is allowed to publish “memoirs”. The real clincher is that people will buy it, and read it…and think it wonderful and insightful and that “That poor girl just can’t find…whatever.”

I can only hope that the beams will cross and she’ll end up on Dr. Phil so that my vision of hell can become complete. Actually, for that to happen John Tesh would have to be the musical guest.

Yep. I'm a fan.

T minus one... singular sensation...

Well, the day is nearly here. Tonight, I'll call Tim down in San Diego and see if he can help. (That was pending.) Sean has said he'll help. (But he's rather puny, so...)

But actually, the main difficulty lies not with the manual labor; the main difficulty lies where it always lies... up here... in my head. As the day has approached, I've found myself growing increasingly nervous... not just nervous but rather anxious about the whole thing. I've become so disturbed, I've broken out in pimples - not good.

So, what is it?

It took me until last night to figure it out. I'd known all along that it has to do with Rosa - most problems do - but I'm happy to say that the big "ROSA" stamp does hold up any more. I get that big "ROSA" stamp and immediately shrug that off these days. For this to stick as it has, it had to be something more.

And so, there I was, sitting outside with Vicky last night. Both of us were having a clove. In the midst of telling Vicky my latest laments about my job and about my dad, the thing that had been pounding me rather indelicately in the pores - damn these pimples! - came in a flash.

It was nothing surprising, nothing new, but it was there.

It was April of 1986 and Rosa and I were moving into our first apartment. It didn't take too long; we didn't have much and I had Rob to help. (Rob will have to be a bystander like the rest of you this time.) We finished before too late and went groceries. Then, as Rob and I set things up (and set ourselves down), Rosa made Hamburger Helper.

This all came to me in a flash and, aside from how terribly young I looked - dammit, the point of it all was clear. Rosa and I didn't start off hating each other, betraying each other, hurting each other. We started off happy. We started off with an incredible future ahead of us.
We started off ignorant of what life does to you.

That life is a bitch is universally known - it's the core of Buddhist philosophy - but we all, each of us, do an incredible job at ignoring that fact. One other thing: Looking for happiness is asking for trouble. Life's a bitch and happiness is fleeting. That's why we not only have to enjoy every minute of it but why we're fools to think we'll get more.

Vicky and I might not end up like Rosa and I - and I think you know I hope we don't - but we are in for our measure of pain. There will be bad times. There will be anguish.

And I think it was around last night that, having realized that this is what was bothering me, I surrendered to it. I surrender to the pain and anguish and suffering I'll endure and she'll endure and any child we bring into this world will endure. Life is suffering but it is life, after all.

Not knowing I was going to write this, Vicky told me, on the phone this morning, "Say something nice about me when you write today's My Side."

"Something nice," I asked.

"You know," she replied, "not the truth."

Vicky, you see, has been less that amiable of late. In fact, she's been contrary, argumentative, testy... a right bitch at times. She doesn't want me to tell you this... but I just did, didn't I?

Meanwhile, I've been a bit sullen, pensive, touchy, and frustrated.

In short, we've been human. Which isn't the "something nice" Vicky wanted me to say but it needs to be said to lead in to the "something nice".

I know that we'll both be far worse in our time together and, hopefully, far better. I know that as moody as we've both been, we still love each other and don't want to hurt one another. I know this is all part of the price you pay to be on this ride. I know this and I consider myself very lucky to be on the ride with Vicky. She's a good person, a decent person, someone you want on your side. The thing about Vicky is that she has just as many demons on her shoulder as anyone else but, every day I'm with her, I can see her leaning towards the angels. This makes her pretty cool in my eyes and I consider myself very fortunate.

So, that's the "something nice" for Vicky. I love you, Vicky, very much and look forward to our life in our first home.

Coalition of the increasingly less than willing...

Looks like Shrub's "Coalition of the Willing" is falling apart a little more at a rather uncomfortable time. Just as we head into the last two months before the election, another country is trying to extricate itself from Shrub's little shit managerie.

Costa Rica has announced it wants to leave the coalition. Costa Rica, who were humorously enough added unwillingly to the coalition - Costa Rica, with its fine human rights record, is finding what we're doing over there in Iraq rather distasteful. Costa Rica.

I'll be over here hanging my head in shame.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

T minus 2...

Okay... moving day is coming and it's coming fast.

Vicky and I started moving my comic books last night. I hate whoever got me into those blasted things! But we both agree we can use them as tax write-offs (claiming the full value rather than the 1/10% value most stores give) so we'll hold on to them.

We're both so stressed out. I've been breaking out in pimples. Vicky's been smoking. (Okay, my fault. I let her have a vanilla clove...) I'll just be glad when this is DONE!

Yes, and it's also affected My Side. But we'll get to some really good ones after the move. Just think of it! Entries about Vicky and I getting on each other's nerves! Entries about fights over the remote! Entries about how cute she is in the morning! (If I were you, I'd seriously look into finding another Blog to read...)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

If I have to hear it, so do you!...

Pink Floyd. One of those bands whose music, when it starts running through your head of its own accord, you want to share.

And so...

(If you don't know the song, go buy Animals!)

Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are.
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha charade you are.
And when your hand is on your heart,
You're nearly a good laugh,
Almost a joker,
With your head down in the pig bin,
Saying "Keep on digging."
Pig stain on your fat chin.
What do you hope to find.
Down in the pig mine.
You're nearly a laugh,
You're nearly a laugh
But you're really a cry.

Bus stop rat bag, ha ha charade you are.
You fucked up old hag, ha ha charade you are.
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass.
You're nearly a good laugh,
Almost worth a quick grin.
You like the feel of steel,
You're hot stuff with a hatpin,
And good fun with a hand gun.
You're nearly a laugh,
You're nearly a laugh
But you're really a cry.

Hey you, Whitehouse,
Ha ha charade you are.
You house proud town mouse,
Ha ha charade you are
You're trying to keep our feelings off the street.
You're nearly a real treat,
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?.....! .....! .....! .....!
You gotta stem the evil tide,
And keep it all on the inside.
Mary you're nearly a treat,
Mary you're nearly a treat
But you're really a cry.

Burning Rosa...

San Diego. I'd driven there Saturday night to beat the heat and avoid the traffic... and it had worked. I sat back with a drink at Tim's. It wasn't my first but I was drinking light... I had things to do.

"You about ready," Tim asked.

"Yep," I said. "Let's go."

I put the shirt on and picked up the board. We grabbed smokes and we were out of there. The skies were clear that night and, though it was a bit humid, conditions were perfect for what we had in mind.

When we reached the beach, Tim suggested we mill around from fire to fire until we found the right one.

I went straight to the closest. "Hi," I called out to the people who were just starting the fire. "How're you guys doing?" They responded with the typical Gen-X babble. "Would you mind if I threw something on your fire?"

"What is that?" one of the people asked. There were about ten of them, an equal number of guys and girls in their early-mid twenties.

I held up the board. "Oh, it's just a board," I said.

One of them looked closely and read, "Ken a-and Ro-sa's...?" I quickly turned the sign around. I hadn't realized that I'd been holding it upright, making it easy to read.

It read Ken & Rosa's Place. It was an oak board measuring about three feet long and six inches tall. In 1995, around Christmas, only two months after Rosa and I had moved in to our house, Sean and I had gone to the swap meet to buy it. Actually, I had gone to the swap meet to buy it - to buy something special to give to Rosa for our new home - Sean had come along because I had money... and I think I was bringing him to Tommy's. I ended up buying him a machete that day... wonder if he still has it.... We were walking around, waiting for this board to be completed. The words, and a little leaf design, were carved and burned in.

"Ken & Rosa's Place." I used to say that a lot. On our answering machine, I'd say, "Hi. You've reached Ken and Rosa's Place." On our mail, I'd sometimes write "Ken & Rosa's Place". It wasn't "The La Celle Residence" - in my head, it was much less formal and more fun. It was a place and it was our place. It was "Ken & Rosa's Place".

Rosa hated the board, which was intended to go in front of the house, and refused to allow me to put it up. You might say I should have known then how things would end up turning out but when you're in love you ignore those things. You have to ignore those things.

"What is it?" I was asked again.

"It's a story," Tim replied across the fire, his flair for the dramatic working well.

"What's the story?" a couple of them asked.

"It's rather complicated," I said.

The story was about how I tried every day to show her I loved her in everything I did. I never wanted there to be a day in her life where she didn't feel loved and adored...

And then she told me to go find someone else.

She didn't break my heart. She destroyed my life. No one has ever hurt me like that and I'll never allow myself to be hurt like that again.... because she killed the part of me that allowed myself to be open enough to be hurt like that. She poisoned my innocence and left me a little more dead inside.

"I guess the short version is that this is one of the last pieces I have of a failed marriage - and now I'm engaged to be married again - and I really want to watch this go up in smoke."

"BURN IT!" they yelled out, seemingly in unison.

And, so, I threw it into the fire.

Tim later observed, "Did you notice that the fire didn't really catch until you threw the board in?" I hadn't... but it makes sense. Nothing burns quite as well as a dead thing.

Tim had expected me to take a while before I could throw it in.

What he didn't know is that I wanted to throw it in. I needed to throw it in.

Death can be very cathartic.

"You want to have a beer?" Tim asked.

"Sure," I said, the blazing fire now licking at my face. "The problem with that, though, is that we don't have any beer."

"They do!" Tim exclaimed.

One of the guys brought us a couple of beers and we drank them and smoked as we watched the board go up.

Board burns, I thought, makes ash. Ash goes into the ground, feeds life. And around it goes. I'd been burning for years, burning through layers upon layers of sorrow and regret and fear and hate and loss, and the ash has fed my will to go on. I had to allow the pain of that burning - it sustained me. Now, I'm done. And I can let go.

"I'm throwing the shirt in," I said.

"Wait until we're at another fire," Tim suggested.

"No," I said, removing the shirt. "It's going in."

I wadded it up and tossed it.

... I never saw it go up... it burned so fast.

It was the Rosa shirt. It was the shirt we had bought in Medford, Oregon when we'd stopped in there for a couple of days after driving through a forest fire. It was the shirt I'd sung to her in on our 8th anniversary. It was her favorite.

Good riddance, I thought with a smile. It felt good. I wasn't burning those things to make a statement. I didn't care who saw. I didn't care who knew. I didn't want to send a picture to Rosa with "Fuck You!" scrawled on the back. It was simply disposal. It was meaningless.

And that's why I had to burn it. I had to know it was meaningless. My future with Vicky - my life with Vicky - it too important to let Rosa still have her hooks in me.

Vicky has said she's afraid I might want to get back together with Rosa. I was more afraid that I hadn't really left.

"Thanks, guys," I called over the fire to the others.

Tim and I walked back to his place and had a few drinks.

It was a good night.