It’s getting to be that time of the year in Phoenix when one’s ass is in almost a perpetual state of sweatiness. There’s really not much you can do about it either. Here I am in my underwear typing this in the comfort of my climate controlled habitat of a room…and still sweating my tail off with nothing to do but wait it out, which reminds me….
For some reason in the spring of 2002 I became obsessed with the Vietnam War, reading all sorts of dusty, out of print memoirs and accounts of mostly forgotten figures from that era. The best of these was probably Louis Fanning’s “Betrayal in Vietnam” which hardcover copies are still out there and available on Amazon starting at just 36 cents. One of my favorite documentaries on the Vietnam War was “The Ten Thousand Day War,” which came out in 1980 and incidentally was made by Peter Arnett, who later became a famous and controversial correspondent in both gulf wars. The bias in “The 10,000 Day War” is somewhat negated by the fact that the film features many interviews with former leaders, officials, and soldiers who are given ample time to state their take on events that transpired. The finest of these are the ones with former South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu and former Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky. Though I haven’t seen this in like 8 years, I recall one of our ally, Nguyen Cao Ky’s statements as being significant:
“Americans are a very impatient people. For Vietnamese people, time means nothing to them. They’ll just outwait you. I told President Johnson that the Americans should just go and win the war quickly.”
Fast forward to the present, and what in the world does the Vietnam War have to do with wishy-washy girls? Well, a lot actually if you think about it, but laying out those abstract connections in detail is not the purpose of this entry so just use your imagination for now.
I recently had a discussion with some girls who boasted about knowing exactly what they wanted in a guy, and they could know flat out whether they were interested or not. They made a point to distinguish themselves from those wishy-washy girls that can never make up their mind about a guy, and are forever going back and forth on what they want.
You can imagine their reaction when I told them that I actually preferred such eternally indecisive girls. The reason being is that if a girl knows exactly what she wants, and it’s not you…well then if you like her you’re simply out of luck. Her mind is already made up before giving you a chance to win her over and convince her that in fact she does want you, she just didn’t know it yet. I don’t want someone whose mind is already made up about what they want in someone before they even meet me. I know that i’m probably too idiosyncratic to fit into whatever carefully crafted image of the perfect guy they’ve concocted. At least with a wishy-washy girl I can make use of my skills in advertising and marketing to sell her a useless product she doesn’t need(…me!) And yes, I realize there’s a major downside:
“Cecelia, you’re breaking my heart. You’re shaking my confidence daily.”
Of course it can be exhausting to have a girl adore you one day while knowing she may not be interested in you the next.
“I got up to wash my face, when I come back to bed someone’s taken my place”
But so what? If you’re cleverly persuasive, she may like you even more the day after that.
“Jubilation, she loves me again! I fall on the floor and I’m laughing.”
At least if she craps out on you it will always be possible to win her back in the future. As a bonus this can also help quell one’s narcissistic fear of engulfment, since you know this isn’t an all or nothing deal and you will have plenty of opportunities for a way out, in order to maintain your sense of self. It’s also a whole-lotta fun thinking of ways to try to win someone back, especially if you know you’re not just going up against a brick wall, but rather a Belgian waffle.
You can buy them shoes, necklaces, write them elaborate text message love letters that borderline on creepy, send them flowers, set jealousy traps(sucks when they do that back to you though,) buy yourself a new wardrobe so they can see how attractive you can make yourself for brief periods of time, etc.
We’ve all done it, like in that episode of The Wonder Years where Kevin Arnold goes to that party where Winnie Cooper is there with her new boyfriend, and Kevin tries to make her jealous by hanging out with Madeline(who incidentally was not wishy washy in the least but still hotter than Winnie anyway) and being the life of the party, strutting his stuff on the wall to wall carpet dance floor and waving his jacket in the air(it ends up not working and he comes off like even more of a jerk.)
It’s never enough to just win a girl over anyway…or “get the girl.” As F Scott Fitzgerald somberly observed in “This Side of Paradise,” beautiful debutantes need to be won over again every time you see them. It would be a pity if simply failing to win them over just one of the times, would trigger a swift decisive judgment that would disqualify you for all time. Rather I’d prefer a stalemate see-saw battle,a war of attrition, where patience and persistence could eventually carry the day, even if just for that day.
The title of this entry was a variant of the book title “In Praise of the Stepmother” which I have to say deals with entirely different subject matter…
So I tried to go to the show at The Clubhouse where The Middle East was playing, but it was sold out. You’d think someone who’s been around as long as I have would have no trouble getting into one of these shindigs via guest lists, fair weather friends and whatever. One of the drawbacks of being a reclusive artist though is that you never make the connections with the sleazy promoter people to finagle your way onto the guest lists of these jams. For someone who goes out nearly every single night, I have very little interest in that sort of thing. It’s been ages since I went to see a live band play locally with any sincere intent other than shameless self-promotion and meeting attractive girls. Anyhow, I can confess to never having heard any of “The Middle East’s” songs or “Frightened Rabbit” for that matter(who canceled due to the volcano eruption, grounded European flights debacle.) Now that I no longer have a hip young stylist as a girlfriend, I am exposed to even less new music as I listen to what I want to listen to like 100% of the time now as opposed to being coerced into broadening with the threat of imminent bitchiness if I don’t stop being so selfish.
And with that you’re probably wondering “Where the fuck is he going with this entry?” Well, nowhere important really… other than last week as I was eating some chicken from El Pollo Supremo, I picked up a copy of The New Times(which is almost never a good idea for anyone with a conservative bone in their body)and opened to a random page where there was an interview with director Kevin Smith. Now I never liked any of Kevin Smith’s movies except sort of Mallrats…but even that’s not because I think it’s great, I just love going to the mall. I am a mallrat. Also any kid who was a skateboarder in the 90′s wanted to see one of our own, Jason Lee(my first proper skateboard was the Blind Jason Lee model with The Grinch on it.) I think Kevin Smith just tries too hard to be witty, and the dialogue always comes off as so phony. The scripts never dig down deep to uncover any genuine sincerity. Not to mention I think that “Jay and Silent Bob” are the two most unfunny, annoying character creations on the planet. Also, he’s from New Jersey or something, and like Billy Zoom, I almost universally hate east coast accents. There’s a certain inherent belligerence to them. However, I was shocked to see him say that he “can’t stand going to live shows, because you can never hear the lyrics” which I can definitely relate to. It all just depends what you enjoy about music and what you look to get out of it. Some people like to rock and run around bumping into each other. Others get off on the loudness and energy of the band. For me though, I’m almost always looking for something in the lyrics to validate and vindicate whatever I’m currently feeling, and I picture some other person out there hearing the song and understanding how I feel. If it sounds good and is in tune well that’s just a bonus. Like I have fantasies of walking into a club where there’s a jukebox. There’s hardly anyone there except some girl that I used to like, have a crush on, banged etc… and so I put in a few bucks and play a song on the jukebox(think “Alone Again Or” by the band “Love” or the Rolling Stones’ “She’s a Rainbow”) that somehow if she would just stop talking to the ugly trashy dude she’s with and pay attention to it she would know exactly where I’m coming from and some sort of satisfactory closure or grand re-opening would be realized. Of course the stars would never align that way. The point is that people are not all looking to get the same things out of art. And understanding what someone else is looking for is the first step to appreciating why they may not have the same perception and appreciation of things that you enjoy.
Anyhow, my connection with Kevin Smith was short lived as a few lines down in the interview he makes the following ignorant statement:
“I thought, ‘Phoenix is hot, people wear less clothing, so they’d be less inhibited and less conservative,’” he says. “Or maybe it’s the opposite — since people are wearing less clothing, they feel the need to be the morality police.”
First of all, in typical intellectually incurious, east coast fashion this shows Kevin Smith understands absolutely nothing about conservatism. Conservatives like sexy, feisty, classically beautiful women like Raquel Welch whereas liberal female icons are people like Ellen Degeneres and Kathy Griffin. Furthermore it’s the left wing NAGS and stick-in-the-mud feminazi types like Gloria Steinem who are always whining about the objectification of women, and protesting the attractiveness of magazine models, while lobbying for the right to be fat not have to shave their legs, armpits or wear make up. Conservatives on the other hand see men and women as having definite biological differences and therefore fulfilling natural gender roles… which is why despite all the social conditioning and youth indoctrination people will never completely be a neutered, unisex species because there are certain uncontrollable biological forces at work. They can be bent, but not broken, not until science actually has perfected the capability of physically altering those forces, at which time men will be obsolete. But until then, women will want to wear scantily clad clothing and attract men, and men will want to have sex with as many girls as they can get there grubby little hands on. That’s conservatism, grounded in reality.
As for the religious nuts and the puritans…well they’re hypocrites of course as they turn out to be the biggest pervs of all, but even they recognize the importance of gender roles and can appreciate sexiness, just not when it’s flaunted and paraded about in polite society. Rather they prefer it within the private context of loyal, steadfast relationships and I will resist the urge to say… seminaries and airport bathrooms…but here’s a shocking fact, Catholics and Jews are overwhelmingly democrats. It’s only WASPs who lean republican. That’s the birds and the bees for you.
So I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an advance copy of Jonathan Sakas‘ (pronounced like “say kuss”) debut album, Albatross. He had previously released an EP Death of the Iceman. Jonathan has been around in the Phoenix music scene for years, and I recall seeing one of his bands play at Plaid in late 2006 era. He has only recently began to break out and make a name for himself.
Being somewhat of a minimalist, I knew immediately that I would like Jonathan Sakas’ Albatross when I saw that he used “one word” song titles for each track (Grapes, Oysters, Striker, etc) The songs themselves are not minimalist but rather extremely well polished, proficiently performed, professionally produced quasi-masterpieces.
A variety of synthesizers and other electronic instruments are made use of, with some guitar sounds thrown in here and there. My favorite track on the album is the first song “Striker,” which is peppy and catchy, as in will be sure to catch your attention. The other potential hits are “Porridge,” the third song and also “Marie” which has an excellent keyboard intro that seems to scream “instant pop phenomenon.” Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so, as “Marie” was selected to be on the new Zia Records Compilation CD slated to come out in the near future. That’s quite a testament to the quality of the jam, given that there are a zillion established Phoenix bands and Albatross hasn’t even been released yet.
There tends to be a stigma in Phoenix against acts that appear to take their music seriously. People look at you as if to say “Who does this guy think he is? Why doesn’t he have his shirt off and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon in his hand like the rest of us?” It’s part of the ‘white trash chic’ mentality that plagues much of the Southwest. The reality is that Phoenix as a whole probably doesn’t take itself seriously enough. Jonathan Sakas represents just the kind of 21st century artistry this town desperately needs.
If Jonathan keeps at it and doesn’t get distracted by ordinary life prospects or seduced by constraining relationships, I foresee a future of national tours, sold out amphitheaters, New Times music awards, indie label deals and all around success. When Jonathan Sakas starts to hit the big time, remember you heard it here first.
Flight From The Senses by Brandon Adamson
Putting on the invisible disguise
in an effort to evade untimely demise
it’s off to navigate the maze of the skies
without a wingman, minus a stewardess,
and the crash lessons of the last
as the only guide,
such is the flight experience on the airline of the times.
turbulence from the moment you lift off the ground
from the up up uppity ups to the dipstick dippity downs-
could someone please turn this plane around?
and head back toward those now distant,
but you fear that they no longer exist.
Consulting once again the trusty oracle,
peering into your past, going back even one minute!
always reveals an inexperienced pilot..
talking to yourself on the captain’s radio
from the cockpit of despair “away we go!”
with the empty air of being alone,
the fare you pay to fly on your own.
“That’ll be 8.02″
(I hand the girl at the counter a $10 bill
and she starts to count out 1.98 in change)
“You’re not really going to give me 98 cents change are you?”
Normally I pay for everything with my debit card, but at certain places I only pay cash because I don’t necessarily want them to know who I am. I’ve had people look for me online before after seeing me somewhere…and that’s cool I do that sort of thing too, but I also write about all sorts of nutty exchanges I have with people so you just really never know who reads this stuff and how they’d react. Maintaining anonymity in certain circles(like where I eat) is important to me.
Back in the days when I was a “broke ass ” coins were a hot commodity (even mangled pennies that had been run over to the point of near-unrecognizability were highly sought after.) Anything to get me closer to the short term goal of either a single bag of microwave popcorn or a stick of processed string cheese from 7-eleven.
The only time in recent memory that I made any serious effort to scrounge around for change buried within the meager crevasses of my room was about a month ago, and I was able to muster about $35 worth… which I brought to the Coinstar machine and converted it into cash that I then took to Vegas where it swiftly evaporated into a “Money Mad Martians” slot machine and was completely vaporized within about 20 minutes.
I hate coins. They should just get rid of them altogether. When your skinny jean pockets get too filled with change, it just makes it look like you have a displaced scrotum. Not to mention it sags your pants and causes you to make constant belt notching adjustments to account for the periodic increases and decreases in coin levels throughout the day.
Years ago people saved every penny. Nowadays you find a quarter in your pocket(not a roll of quarters mind you) and it’s “how the the heck did that get in there?” just before you toss it somewhere harmlessly without even bothering to make a wish.
Why did they have to remake “V”? Is nothing sacred? I hate remakes…. Can’t they come up with any new ideas? Apparently, exploitation is the new imagination.
I can remember vividly being in the living room at 1320 s. elm grove rd when “V” the original miniseries premiered in 1983. In those days, unless you happened to videotape something on beta, you would never be able to see it again. For much of my childhood I would think about “V” nostalgically and it was only in my memories that I could watch re-runs of tiny memorable highlights of it. You can imagine then how ecstatic I was when out of nowhere in the Summer of 1991, the cable channel WGN decided to re-run “V The Original Miniseries” as well as “V The Final Battle”. My 1991 self was sporting the Edward Furlong “Terminator 2″ sidepart haircut that was popular at the time, and I watched every episode with euphoric amazement. Of course, watching old stuff makes you sad too because it makes you think of things from that time period that are gone, and can only be gotten back artificially. So it’s like you can only bring 75% of the magical feeling back, which is good, but comes with a “glass 25% empty” sensation.
In a side note, The alien lady “Diana” from the original 80s version was one of my first childhood sexual fantasies:
p.s. During my Summer of 1991 viewing, I developed a crush on Faye Grant, who became an early adolescent sexual fantasy.
I need not say anymore than that.
So I went to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and let me just say that I want to move to Las Vegas. I love it so much, it has surpassed Los Angeles as my all time favorite city. Don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s a crummy place. The truth is that it’s magical and dreamlike.
Once my business was done at the show, I walked up and down the Las Vegas strip over and over and over. I went in every single casino, not to gamble but just to gaze around and explore. The first chance I got I walked really far to get to Circus Circus(a circus themed casino). I had always wanted to see it since it was in “Diamonds Are Forever,” one of my all time favorite movies. People had warned me that it’s part of the old strip, and sort of a seedy area now, but I didn’t care. I stubbornly walked really far to get to it, and I was not disappointed one bit. Circus Circus is an awesome place. People have to learn to love the idea of something, the feeling of it.
Circus Circus is like a gigantic 60′s carnival with slot machines. I would say that it’s like Chuck E Cheese with slot machines, but that would not be doing the place justice. And their slot machines are good too. I played for a really loooong time with only 5 bucks, and I left with 10. Oh and the game that the kid plays in “Diamonds Are Forever”(1971) where they shoot water and it blows up the balloons…it’s still there! I’ve also started getting into the habit of writing the year of the movie next to the title, as there are so many crappy remakes of my favorite movies, I can’t even keep track anymore and I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea and start thinking I’m talking about some modern film godforbid. seriously..barf
Getting back to why Las Vegas is wonderful, it is a sort of fantasy land. Like you can live in alternate realities there and dream worlds. Say you’re in the mood to be in a pirate atmosphere, you just head on over to Treasure Island. Say you feel like going to the Circus, you tumble on down to Circus Circus. What’s that? In the mood for some Springtime in Paris? Just travel a few blocks to Paris casino! Oh, you’d rather visit the old west? Well no need to bust out a delorean time machine ala “Back to the Future 3″(1990), just come on down to Bills Gamblin Saloon! You get the idea. Las Vegas is the escapist’s paradise. Get it? It’s really, really neat.
One thing I always remember about Los Angeles was that it’s often difficult to get into places. The vibe is one where everybody always says “no”. Whether you’re at the bank trying to cash a check, looking to go into a bar, or just asking a friend for a ride…the word “no” is something you get used to hearing. In fact, part of coming of age in Los Angeles is learning the wisdom to not ask for anything, as the moment you stop asking is when you finally start getting somewhere. While wandering though Las Vegas, I didn’t experience any of the cold shoulder you typically get in LA. I had no problem getting in anywhere. No one ever treated me as if I wasn’t supposed to be there.
There were no annoyingly pompous doormen, guest lists, etc. I could walk into the biggest hotels and restaurants, without any hassle. It was a completely friendly and totally welcoming atmosphere. Everyone is in a good mood and eager to help.
I had an amazing burger at this place called the Stripburger(strip as in Las Vegas Strip, not strip clothes) It was really juicy, even better than Johnny Rockets or the ostritch burger from Astro Burger. Also, while at the airport waiting for my plane back I won $250 in an Airport slot machine called “White Ice.” I had only put a buck in.
Remakes for the most part are a disappointing phenomenon. Why do
people feel the need to remake classics, and redo masterpieces, thus
leaving our culture’s sacred artistic ruins in ruin. Some are simply eager
to cash in on regurgitating old ideas, as the tried and true is a proven
moneymaker, and as the antithesis of artistic integrity and fond
memories, the market hates uncertainty. Others favor remakes as an
homage to the original work, but this is merely empty and ironically,
usually the end result tends instead to be rather insulting, missing
everything, including the meaning that may have made the original
groundbreaking, or interesting, something instrumental if not
monumental in leading to its succeeding. Support for remakes also
derives from people who claim that something, whether it be a video
game, a movie, a song, needs “updating” for the new generation, so that
they may appreciate it, believing the current crop of flat screen tweens
would not have the attention span, the patience or the capacity to accept
it in it’s current antiquated state. In other words, it should be remade in
their image; fast pace, action packed, with concepts easily “graspable”,
more controversial, superficial, and basically something that’s able to
hold the attention of your average undereducated, uninterested text
Under the guise of remaking, people are in effect rewriting, even
obscuring history, as the new “appreciators” most often are not even
made aware, and may in fact never discover that a prior(superior)
version exists. Many of the things that are being remade for today’s
society are in fact things which some of us nostalgically hold near and
dear as an illustration of everything that’s wrong with (and as a form of
escapism from) today’s society. Instead of teaching people how to
appreciate old things, how to increase their attention span, and how to
grasp the concept an original masterpiece was trying to convey, they
would rather make it more “accessible” to accommodate those who
could not appreciate it, would be unable to grasp it etc, thus discarding
much of the underlying theme which they thought made it such a great
idea to remake in the first place! It’s like if someone said the Mona Lisa
should be redone, because it is too plain and young people would find it
boring or unattractive to look at. But would this be anything other than a
sad irony, a missing of the boat? Should something simply be remade
to accommodate the ignorant masses, or should people be forced to
learn to appreciate it if they are to deserve to?
Tomorrow, will people remake the remade films of today, in their own
image? so that they will be interesting to themselves?
Or wouldn’t we prefer for them to understand us, the lessons we learned,
who we really were, what we believed, what we said, what we really
meant, in our own carefully chosen words?
It’s always a struggle to get to the core
of what’s eating at the heart of the manticore
Who are we?
Why are we here and what does it mean?
another day, another dream.
That’s merely the difference
between the mice and the manticores
those who are, or
at least from afar appear as worker bees,
who don’t think to know,
don’t look and just don’t care to see.
Like the martians chronicled,
their secret of life is just to be.
Then there are,
the ones who differ
meaning those who prefer
to defer to dreams,
the manticores who would be queen
part men, part lions,
alert and aware
they must beware of the three blind mice
looking for the cat.
they are increasing everywhere.
In the future, as in the past,
like the spirit of the pioneers,
have such creatures all but disappeared?
This poem originally was written in 2005
and appeared in my 2008 Book, SideQuests
Starring: Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal, Ben Piazza, Vic Morrow, Chris Barnes, Erin Blunt, Jackie Earle Haley, Joyce Van Patten, Brandon Cruz, Howard Culver
The success of this underdog comedy from director Michael Ritchie almost single-handedly spawned the kids’ sports film boom of the 1980s and 90′s. When beer-breathed ex-minor-league ball player and professional pool cleaner Walter Matthau agrees to coach a Los Angeles little league team, he soon finds he’s in over his head, having inherited an assortment of pint-sized peons and talentless losers. They play well-organized teams and lose by tremendous margins, and the parents threaten to disband the Bears to save the kids (and themselves) any further embarrassment. Matthau refuses, though, and brings in a pair of ringers: Amanda (Tatum O’Neal), his ex-girlfriend’s tomboy daughter, and Kelly (Jackie Earle Haley), a cigarette-smoking delinquent who happens to be a gifted athlete. With their help, the Bears manage to change their losing ways and qualify for the championship, where they face their arch-rivals.
I played a lot of youth sports as a kid: basketball, little league, tennis, softball, etc. From 1985-1992 i played in thousands of games, tournaments, matches, scrimmages, practices etc. I was never the star player on the team, but never the worst either. Always, i was the mediocre athlete, fiercely competitive and who played his heart out. I remember in 4th grade i was in the unique position of attending a school where there were no 5th grade boys. In order for the school to field a 5th grade basketball team they had to use us, the 4th graders. So basically we were 4th graders playing in the 5th grade basketball league. Well we were all excited when we finally got to play our first game, and i’ll never forget what happened when we showed up. The other team was older and twice our size and once they saw us outside the locker room, they started celebrating, screaming and high fiving each other, taunting us, as they knew we would obviously be no match for them. It was depressing and humiliating, but it was infuriating as well. We wanted badly to win and we played with everything we had and we beat them 18-16. The looks on the other teams’ faces after the game was a mix of shame and utter disbelief. As 4th grade kids in a 5th grade league, we went on that year to take 2nd place in the division(the team that took first really did deserve it as they were the best team and simply unbeatable).
All of my experiences in youth sports over the years led me to appreciate what an amazing film “The Bad News Bears” is. It captures so perfectly the essence of the politics, competition and emotions that go along with childhood athletics. A movie like “The Bad News Bears” could never be made in today’s politically correct society. Unlike the watered down, “Zoog Disney” kids culture of today, “Bad News Bears” shows kids as they really are. Awkward, self conscious, cruel and nasty. Do you think quotes like the following would have made the cut in modern kids films?
“What do you expect? All we got on this team are a bunch of j**s, sp**ks, n***ers, pansies, and a booger eating moron.”
In fact, the honesty of this film and the lessons it teaches is what appeals to me so deeply. If trying your best, playing fair, and just having fun is more important than winning at any cost, then you may in fact have to accept defeat. And perhaps life’s most important lesson, one I wish that I had learned long ago:
that by doing everything right, by putting your heart and soul into something that means so much to you and giving it your all, you still may not get the girl, you still are not guaranteed victory just by virtue of hopeful romanticism and having a heart of gold. So many modern films sellout on this point in order to score a cheap fairy tale ending. That’s precisely what makes “Bad News Bears” such a moving story of redemption, because it brings out the feeling of success against overwhelming odds, but also captures the heartbreak of working so hard and coming so close only to come up short with a lousy second place trophy in the end. Yet we remain hopeful romantics in spite of knowing the eventual outcome of all our efforts will probably just be a huge disappointment. “Just wait ’til next year”.