Thursday, June 30, 2005


I just figured something out. It's so obvious. Now. But maybe I am cynical. Those who know me can stop laughing now. Darn it, I am serious.

Here it is: somewhere in the bowels of a car company, sits a guy (usually) who knows TO THE PENNY the warranty costs of the cars this auto maker produces.

Blinding flash: All IMPROVEMENTS the car builder makes are to lower that number. Not to better serve the public.

Now over here is the marketing team... the ones who tell you the wonders of the amazing improvements they've made so you can drive around town in the latest model humpmobile. But you never ever see the dark secret of the speed of greed... aka FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY.
More crap happens excused by those two words. They're like a laxative to a CEO conscience.

Want more? Cynic?

Okay. I'm generous.

The GIFT CARD you buy someone - you know, the credit limit is $10, whatever... somewhere deep in the bowels of the coffee company or bookstore chain sits a guy who knows TO THE PENNY the amount of money FOUND when those cards are never fully cashed in, or lost. It's a PROFIT CENTER!

The HOLE IN ONE tournament promises a million dollars. The sponsors took an insurance policy against paying you. They do want you to win, but on the insurance company's bad luck. And you'll probably be paid in an annuity because you can buy one that pays over 20 years for a fraction of the face value.

REBATE COUPONS. Somewhere in the large intestines of the issuing company sits a guy who knows TO THE PENNY how many people lose their receipt, forget to fill out the paperwork, or send it in too late.

My digital camera just broke. A week out of warranty. But wait, a silver lining. Turns out my credit card company adds a year's coverage. Sure, you have to hoop jump, but hey, might be worth it.

Somewhere in the credit card company company gut sits a guy who invents hoops and knows TO THE PENNY...

Dancing With The Tar Mop

A friend recently lost his job. He actually 'left the company' after the person who hired him, who we will call Boss1, was replaced by Boss2, who wanted 'his own man.' In my last radio programming position, after years of devoted service and even some praise, my jobs (yes, more 'n' one) were 'absorbed.' No hard feelings. I found out something was up, in a peculiar twist of awareness, at an awards ceremony - we were nominees! I think that's ironic-funny.

But speaking to my now unemployed friend, we lamented that in trying - honestly - to do our very best, to add value, to 'do the right thing,' it clearly didn't matter. Or didn't matter enough in today's corporate world. Or the reality we find ourselves in. You name it.

My friend said he might find himself in a new occupation, on the roof of a building, Dancing With The Tar Mop. Well, I sure know a great phrase when I hear one. No longer will someone be...

"on the street"
"at liberty"
"blown out"
"let go"
"squashed like a bug"
"got quit"

No, from now on, like Fred Astaire, we'll be Dancing With The Tar Mop.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Why we will hate Tom Cruise.

I believe Tom Cruise is a good guy, highly talented, etc.

But I think soon we will all hate him.

Because we need someone to hate. You can't hate the President - that's not a safe hate. You can be frustrated with his policy, but, you know, it's just unpatriotic somehow. And yet, the world is so full of troubles and woe and fear, that we need a good old scapegoat. Michael Jackson is just too weird to hate - hating him makes us think about him and that's queasy-time. And a good hate is highly visible. Tom, god bless him, is a safe goat.

Now that Tom has switched PR people, he's speaking out about Scientology, and has engaged Katie Holmes and is now 2/3 of the beautiful couple with lots of PDA.

Here's why we will all eventually hate Tom Cruise.

The name: it's cool. Anybody uncool will hate that.

The face: he's handsome. Anybody unhandsome will hate that.

The romance: he's engaged to Katie Holmes: all older women will hate that, all women NOT cute, perky and young will begrudge her and hate him for not picking one of their own.

The PDAs: we all want some. Out of resentment, we'll hate him (or her) for that. Mostly him.

The money: Tom's rich. The poorer can envy and hate him.

The Scientology: created by a science fiction writer - appears to defy religion. Unenlightened Churchgoers will hate that, and hate him.

The Know It All Putdown: Tom's attack on Psychiatry as "pseudo science." All 'needful' people will hate him for that. And Psychiatrists will hate him.

The Overexposure: Build someone up, then tear him down: Hate him.

I say it again, I think Tom is a true talent and probably a good guy. I'd like to be Tom Cruise. That way, when I hate myself, it won't be wasted the way it is now!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Dr. Phil Announces Cow Anger Management Video

Dr. Phil announces new ANGER MANAGEMENT video to embrace bovine issues.

In a related story, Blackie, a young Fredericksburg, Texas, steer, said, "I think there's a misunderstanding. I wasn't really MAD, just upset. These city folk come driving through our range and they hang out of their cars, beepin' and mooin' when we're just tryin' to get a little good cud chew. That'd be upsetting for you, wouldn't it? I mean, c'mon. I am NOT MAD."

Monday, June 27, 2005

It just ain't RIGHT!!!

I see the price of oil is up again.

Does it seem to you - as it does to me - that there's NO rational explanation for this IN THE FACE OF HUGE OIL COMPANY PROFITS?

And what once - maybe - were our watchdogs - the media - seem to just suck in all the excuses UNQUESTIONED , "...well, there's a this (refinery down) or a that (less oil reserves)." THEY MISS THE POINT that the oil companies are having record profits. If they took in less profit, the price would drop, wouldn't it?

I know the government sucks tax money out of each gallon like dry-as-a-bone Vampires suck blood out of fat juicy victims. I know that.

I also know that Congress in its partisanship can't seem to get together on much anything except to blame or smear the opposition. HEY! THAT'S NOT WHY YOU WERE ELECTED. You mean EVERY darn Republican or EVERY darn Democrat is incapable of having an honest non-partisan thought? THOMAS JEFFERSON would be SICK. Elected Leaders: Don't you dare reference the founders of our great country unless you are WORTHY of their values!

As I grew up, you had - or I had, at least - the feeling that if something tricky was going on, good ol' Uncle Walter Cronkite would TELL US. He'd find out and tell us. Naive me.

As I grew up, my father, a former Army Colonel, a student of history, and pretty darn bright thinker, was churning out letters to the White House, specifically about the War in Vietnam, I think, but then, we didn't communicate very well at home. Maybe Walter didn't tell us everything.

I swear to you watching television reports on the price of gas is like watching the Stepford Wives... and it scares me. Who's in charge? We are getting McJournalism and it's making us tranquil and lazy.

Want to talk about Mad Cow disease? Oh, there's another one down. Don't worry. ...Burger? Fries with that?

Whistle blowers - even when SURROUNDED BY FACTS - don't have the weight to fight the damn inertia of public and press apathy. Not to mention 'special interests.'

My father would have worried himself to death if the Viceroys he smoked didn't get him first.

Want to talk about Tobacco Subsidies? 35 years LATER??? Hel-LO!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Catching up.

Odds and Ends:

TiVo box #6 works. Just not perfectly. The audio doesn't quite sync to the video, like it has been dubbed into another language. Audio and Video arrive at different speeds, just a fraction of second apart. TiVo forums basically confirm that some have this problem. I think I'll just live with it. First they addict you, then they abuse the relationship.

The Farmers Market stall we visited this morning was out of peaches, but you could buy Fresh Gulf Shrimp, just across the street. After 231 miles, how could they be fresh? Color me suspicious. Hey, wasn't that the mortician?

Our hydroseed MIGHT be coming up. Or we have a fresh crop of weeds coming in.

Had some neighbors over for dinner last night - they are new, about a month in. We were #12 - they are #20 in this community. It's a boom I tell you.

The local activists have a thing about some endangered salamander. But our garage sticky traps (flat panels of sticky catch anything) seem to be catching salamander type things along with spiders and car insurance company logo reptiles.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Key seized. Sleep well, America.

I'm 1 1/2 miles ESE of Amazed and 2 mi NW of Astounded:

Let me start by saying "reportedly" - this WAS reported in the local paper and attributed to a traveler who had his problem at DFW, also known as Dallas Fort Worth airport.

A security guard encountered the traveler's AUDI key. It's retractable. The TSA hotshot disallowed it in the name of SWITCHBLADE. Seized the key ($300 to replace as it's a high tech thing that retracts into its shell/transmitter). Let the traveler's other keys go (you know, the SAWs.)

The guys at the security gates have guidelines, but can deny passage to whatever, if they don't like the looks of it.

Maybe the traveler had a 'tude going. There was a dispute about some 'intellectual property right' material he was carrying - when they wanted to get into his bag, he simply asked for a private room saying he could be held liable by his client, who had him sign non-disclosure agreements.

Whatever happened to the good ol' days of People Express (airline) when darn scary people sat right beside you on the red eye from LA and rubbed their pasty twitchy sweaty hamhock flesh-sagging arms on your shared arm rest, snorting noisily while sucking their Big Gulp like a pig who was up for four days on speed already!?

I guess it's progress, and I know we need to be safe, yes indeedy. Better safe than sorry. But a KEY?

Spinning the WEB

The Top Ten Ugly Home Theater Secrets revealed! That darn loud screaming headline kept me awake last night.

I am building a website to help those who are about to drop a couple large on the new High Definition electronics.

Website design has become greatly simplified. Content, well, that's another thing. Soon I will be lurking in the big box retailers and taking in all the blurry pictures so you don't have to. I've been studying the subject for over a year and feel ready to roll. I have a LOT to write.

My domain is registered and a first page - just to be sure it works - is up. I have a program that shows the rank of where you stand on the internet ladder. I am on the 4,005, 531 th rung. Yousah! Nowhere to go but UP!

My good friend says - and he's right - it's just like programming a radio station - you build an audience. (We are both programmers, or have been, for years.) He's right.

I believe I can provide a public service to those who seek information and even maybe just possibly perhaps gee I hope MAKE SOME MONEY.

I won't give out the address yet, not that anybody reads this! You know you are alone on an empty blog when you get an echo off the keyboard.

No matter: writing, I find, is addictive. It's a chance to act out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

All FedExed up.

Have you called FedEx? You get an automation system. It's frustrating. The secret is to say "representative" when the computer pauses for machine breath. Oh, it's a nice simulation, all right, with little human touches, like, "I didn't quite catch what you said, tell me again." "I SAID REP-RE- SENT- TA - TIVE!!!!" "I'm sorry, did you say "rates?" "NOOOO! REPRESENTATIVE." "I'm sorry, I didn't understand. Let's try again." But okay, I am used to that. It's okay to exercise your neck vein-buldge muscle. Really.

I sent a box to California.

Checked on it's progress with my tracking number. FedEx is scan happy. I like that.

Somehow - and this might be a HUGE breakthrough for the World As We Know It (and I have it in writing so it must be true) - the package arrived in Oakland, California, 4 and 1/2 hours BEFORE it left San Antonio, Texas.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The haunting.

I confess.

I have a guilty pleasure.

It's faking sincerity.

Well, faking is too strong a word. Acting - that's the word I am looking for. For I am... an ac-tor. A specialized VOICE ac-tor. Over the years I have been the friendly guy who told you why the big bank on the corner should be TRUSTED with all your money.

I hawked ice cream. You can't hate me for THAT! Can you? It was good.

You name it - I've probably sold it. (What? You forgot the ExtraCorporeal Lithotripter? That was ME!) I've also put countless people to sleep as they napped on benefit package videos. I did narrations for a ski resort in Utah and an airport in south Africa. Did work for Lexus and Kodak and Kraft and The Playboy Channel. Attorneys. Hospitals. TV shows. Car dealers (okay, no sincerity there... that's more like YELLING.) Uninterruptable Power Supplies (actually 15 minute vignettes for those - among the most creative scripts I have ever seen) in which I portrayed a living, breathing, talking hunk of metal. (That's called RANGE!) Anybody can be a hunk of burning LOVE.

I love it all. It's a burst of adrenaline, a chance to shine, to surprise yourself with a new dimension. The best copy reads like a song. It has air, rhythm, a cadence. You get to find nuance in expression and make it sing.

In the best sessions, you are so much 'in the moment' that you lose your self. That's the peak experience. At that moment, you become alive in another reality. I completely understand what acting on screen must be like. You have to put it out there, be totally uninhibited. Surrender your fear, your insecurity. I suppose it's a form of possession. And the spirit that haunts you is on the page.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Zombies with popcorn!

Zombies behind the counter shuffled in slow-mo. Where did this theater chain find so many slackers?

We went to see Mr and Mrs Smith. Loved it. Don't know who commands the screen better - and there were a TON of closeups - Jolie or Pitt. Not sure who's prettier, either.

But gee, going to the movie is becoming/has become an ordeal.

We saw big signs that said "you don't have to wait in line - use the Kiosk to buy tickets inside." Since there was a line (of non believer/non reader/people with bad credit/ or folks who think Kiosk makes film in yellow boxes) we went inside to escape the 98 degree heat, and the ticket zombie.

The machine spit out two child tickets. I probably screwed up. Terri gave me 'the look' so I have to assume I'm truly helpless. We had to then go back outside to wait in line to try to fix things. Zombie didn't know how, said it wouldn't matter. I pointed out we aren't kids. Well, my wife is, but I'm not. She said it wouldn't matter.

It didn't. Ticket taker Zombie was locked into a chant of "first theater on your right" "third of your left."

Meanwhile Popcorn Zombies were challenged. That's the only way to say it. This place had no teen spirit. Good thing the computer calculates change. Goober with the popcorn funnel was having a hard time filling those bags.

The theater was clean and filled quickly while we all ignored the New Music Network or whatever it's called. We watched trivia slides... talk about low tech. One said - "Right after the show, stop by for great rates on car insurance!" I'll bet it's NEVER happened.

Then the countdown to the show - ADVERTISEMENTS - at full volume. Up all the way. BAD BAD commercials. I'd love to see the pitch meeting - I imagine hip young dudes wowing the hopelessly out of touch bald 50 year olders with their creative. "They're in touch!" says the CEO to his director of marketing.

They suck, say I.

If they even relate to the product - and that's a stretch - they don't make you want it.

They now run TV show ads. The little screen looks bad on the big screen. Desperate medium meets captive audience with native indifference.

Then another 10 minutes of previews. Lord God make it stop. So many crashes, so little time.

Why does everyting have to have so much bass? Is it because the youth - big movie target audience - are all deaf now? Maybe it's supposed to be the experience you can't get at home.

Well, at home I can get all the bass I don't want, thanks. I can skip commercials (though they ARE starting to lock them into DVD intros now.) I can go to the bathroom without getting lost. Without that smell. And I'm not afraid to touch the door handle.

The only Zombie is me after that Merlot.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

What honks and squeaks?

As we cruised the Austin Farmer’s market in Republic square, a voice stood up and out, a twang lifted above the drum and hum by the fever of hucksterism.

“The social whirl will not spin properly if certain important things in life are not carefully attended to. Disgrace can follow disinterest all too quickly. Embarrassment can taint a whole family, betraying friendship and turning neighbors to stone.”

That caught my attention. I turned away from the pursuit of peaches, which were sold out anyway. We don’t have neighbors yet, but we certainly don’t want stone ones. Or stoned ones, either, unless the vibe is just right.

A small crowd had gathered.

“Today, science can sure so many social ills that we assume – wrongly- that a quick trip to the store will fix whatever ‘it’ is that has you down. Not so. Homeopathic remedies span the AGES and date back far beyond modern man.”

I remember snorting zinc gel every hour to fight a cold. It didn’t work, and now I am afraid of chain link fence posts. Homeopathic to me means drinking ‘tea’ that tastes like socks. But I digress.

The man was selling EMU oil. Apparently, a squeaky Emu can spell ostracism, or ostrichcism. We bought some granola and drove home.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A Wart to the Thighs!

Nether cake inyting rat phace valu. Or be amerced!

The best advice I ever had.

Warning - this one is serious.

And to tell the truth, I'm writing this as much for myself as any reader.

In the past year, an associate - I was his manager - lost his wife in a tragic car wreck. She was his 'keeper' - he a boy-man in some ways. She was also his soul mate, best friend, etc. Not to diminish the relationship by writing 'etc.' - just to indicate that she was so much more to him than most can imagine or I even know. Although he worked for me, we didn't become truly close till after the tragedy. His incredible pain was overwhelming. I still feel it.

I asked my manager what I could do, and he very wisely said, just go be with him. 'You don't have to find the right words, just be there.' I did, and it was perhaps the best advice I've ever received, because I know it meant a lot, and I wanted it to do so.

I am emotional, for better or worse, and am tearing up just writing this.

That was last year.

We have since moved to Austin.

We saw the work of an artisan a few months back, and subsequently hired him to build two tables for our new house. He seems like a nice man, and his skill is amazing. Over time, though, we wondered where our tables were or when we could expect them and left messages repeatedly on his answering machine, then e mail once someone gave us that address. No response.

Yesterday he came to our door, unexpectedly. This is what I would call a manly man - not John Wayne, not a character, but I sense a true solid standup guy - good stock - strong handshake. He appeared upset. He was starting to tear up, his lip quivering. I asked if he had just had a car accident. He said no, and started crying. He said his wife was killed in a car wreck about 5 weeks ago and his life had fallen apart.

I flashed back to last year.

I heard the same - EXACT same words from him that I heard last year from my friend... '... people say they know how you must feel, but they can't. The emptiness is beyond description...'

What's the point of this?

Just to say that the best advice I've had was to go BE with my friend back then. I don't even know where the table maker lives, can't say I'm a friend, yet.

But maybe if I pass along the best advice I ever had, someone will see and take it if - and I sure hope it doesn't - the opportunity comes into your life.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Rodental work

Richard, sworn enemy to pests!

This morning the evidence is unmistakable. There will be no trial. No pajama-wearing defendant dashing to the courthouse. No jury. No testimony. No Jesse Jackson wringing his concerned hands for the media frenzy outside the courtroom. Overnight, two of my $5.37 peaches (see entry below) were GNAWED. We live among rodents.

I will play the M card.

Previously limited to traps in the garage, the little monsters have moved inside. Only yesterday I showed Terri what I thought were mouse turds in the upstairs bathroom, by the baseboard. She said, "no, it couldn't be." She then looked at me accusingly. But the toilet was right there all the time el mouse-o was dumping beside it. Worse than mice, we have UNCIVILIZED mice.

As luck would have it, The mighty RICHARD, GOD of ABC pest control, is scheduled for his quarterly visit today. He'll undoubtedly sign us up for rodent control, and maybe take a nice bonus home. Richard lives for this job. He is a skilled craftsman who seriously puts his poison into every nook and cranny, and takes it personally when a bug breaks through the front lines on six or more legs.

I worry, though. That's ABC pest control. Bugs are Bs. We now have Ms. And Gs, and God forbid, Ss. We are quickly becoming the Hooked On Phonics of pest problems.


I note that there are now tours of… ready… you are not ready: Chernobyl. You know, that thousand year radiation capital of Deadly and Empty. I wonder how many dental X-rays THAT trip equals? Instructions include “stay off dirt” and “don’t touch anything.” (And forget having children or a long life. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 9,000. Wrap yourself in lead. Hold your breath. Leave film at home.) Last year they had hundreds of visitors. This year they expect same. Reports say some of what was left has been looted. Watch on e-bay ! "Toasterski that doesn’t need electricitiski."

Finally a destination for the goth. Desolation for the disconsolate. Psst: “Hey buddy, Want to buy a postcard of dead bird flock?”

In the words of a Was Not Was song: “World Gone Cra-zy, ooooooo.”

Monday, June 13, 2005

Overlooked ways for Airlines to save money

Recently there was a survey of which service and amenities various airlines have decided to cut back as they try to stay afloat. You want an airline to stay afloat in case of a water landing, so it's important.

But ANY CEO can slash the pillow 'n' blanket budget. The pretzel killer at Northwest Airlines, my wife read to me over Sunday breakfast, will save $2,000,000 a year. That's real out-of-the- box forward thinking!

But these guys can't see the forest for the clouds.

You go to an airport - ANY airport, and you see the elderly and infirmed being golf carted from here to there. Hey - hello - TAXI? Charge it!

Sell advertising on the sign boards: Flt 1142 - BUFFALO - Home of The GATEWAY TO CANADA, for example. Let Canada help subsidize. They can do more than pump bubbles into Canada Dry.

Want to sit and wait for that plane that was delayed leaving Covington? Seats: $2.50.

Sell logo space on the uniforms. If NASCAR, the most popular spectator sport, can do it, airlines can. Think Febreeze would like to sell FRESH AIR in the air? Think FTD would like to get on a pilot uniform? Or UPS? Or Maytag repair?

Why not advertising on the overhead bins like a bus? "XM - we're up here so you can listen down there!" "Dial Soap - because you fly, and the seats are small." "Chiropractic USA - now in all major airports - to help you walk erect again after your flight."

Why not sell logo space on the airplane itself? A silver wing is a wasted opportunity.

Why not pay toilets? Why NOT?

Stop washing the planes for god's sake. FLY THROUGH RAIN.

Monetize the oxygen masks.

Get rid of flight attendants. Make the seating like on roller coasters. It won't go if you aren't strapped in.

Sell :15 second announcements before and after the pilot speaks to tell you the gate isn't ready. People pay attention. Sell that attention.

"This important pilot announcement is brought to you by..."

Gee, this isn't hard.

Showbiz - once it gets in your blood...

I have solved the picture block.

Now splashy color and more detail will thrill you.

Note: this isn't me in the picture. But it COULD be, with some help from the pharmacy of the stars.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Show me your peaches, girl, let me shake your tree!

When I lived in Ontario, I was close to the Fruit Belt. There I would buy whole PECKS of peaches - giant, softball sized, juicy, sweet, drool inspiring, never-seen-before-or-after miracles of farming. In Canada! Amazing! A peck is a basket. A generous basket. 4 Pecks equal one BUSHEL!

I would go canoeing with a cooler loaded with them. I'd spot another canoe and offer him/her/them cool peaches. What a treat! Back home - I'd eat them till I was - how to say this delicately? - 'bathroom challenged.' Never made that mistake IN A CANOE.

When we moved to Texas, we took a day trip to a town about 70 miles away where there were PEACHES signs everywhere. Some vineyards too. And wildflowers. It was January. Cut to today - it's PEACH SEASON and Terri and I figured we drive TOWARD Fredericksburg and there'd be plenty of roadside peach selling stands along the way.

But no.

Not until you GET to Fredericksburg, or darn close.

And the peaches are, well, some were golf ball sized. Some a C- medium size. I bought 10 dollars worth - about a dozen.

So, gas at 20 mpg, 150 Mi, 7.5 gal at 2.20 = 16.50
Lunch at Der Lindenbaum = $38.00
Peaches = $10.00

Total: 64.50
$5.37 cents a peach.

Oh well, some guys have huge boats just to fish for fish that cost THOUSANDS in expenses when caught. The ride was nice and Terri and I had lots of laughs.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Snakes and ladders?

I swear this is true. Every word.

Yesterday I was in the Self-Chem store, a pool-chemical franchise. Imagine the hippies lining up at the door in the early '70s. But I digress.

As I browsed, seeking the diatomacious earth (filter powder), and the colostomy bag for Freddie, our pool cleaner on wheels, I overheard a story. The guy was looking for snake killer. While the clerk was looking in the back for Instant Snake Death and Lawyer Hurt, I said to the guy - a cowboy type - "snake trouble?" --- I am NOT making this up --- And he said, "yeah, last night I was falling asleep and my wife was watching TV in bed and she says, "I see a snake." Then she says "I SEE A SNAKE!" The she says "I SEE A SNAKE CLIMBING THE WALL" and then she's hitting me and screaming." I say, "Climbing the wall??? How do they do that? He says, "Well, it's a chicken snake, looks like a rattler but they climb trees too..."

I ran shrieking like a school girl at recess.

Okay, I made that part up about shrieking.

I was so ASTOUNDED I didn't even ask what he did. I told him I hate snakes and he said he didn't take to 'em much, either.

Screw FEAR FACTOR, this is real life over here!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Trying to be a bookie

It's like me'n' term papers in college, in a way. Doing them was this big hurdle I eventually had to jump, but, I'd delay. Delay. And delay.

Concurrently with writing this blog, I am writing my first book. Or I should add "attempted book." I find, to my dismay, that I would rather write ABOUT writing the book than writing it. Or trying to write it. I've usually been praised for my writing over the years but this is the marathon run of writing. And I still have no real plot, 35 pages deep. I've also placed my story on a sailboat, so there's not a lot to turn to for distraction.

But hopefully, if I ever finish and sell the thing, I can write off a vacation as research.

What's interesting is, when I can focus, the characters pretty much do their own thing and I report on it. This may be with a shout out to the lead based paint where I grew up, working on my synapses years later. If you are old enough, you've seen the cartoon where the pen draws the character which then animates itself to 'life' and off it goes - it's like that.

I sometimes try to picture these people as actors I've seen (and who wouldn't love to sell a book to both bookers and filmers?) and then their behavior is easier to follow. It'd be incredible to see a movie based on your book that actually had some of the ways you imagined it'd BE onscreen!

Years ago, I had the mighty strange experience of seeing a movie which fictionalized a real person while SITTING NEXT TO THE REAL PERSON (my close friend) who hadn't seen the movie yet. His movie self was on screen for what I'd estimate to be an hour, and he was just savaged by the writer and star of the movie, Howard Stern.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Nutso stuff

Below, in another posting, Confessions of a Junkie, I describe my 5 TiVo box adventures.

Well, guess what? Number 5 is defective. So, tonight it goes back to Circuit City. I will exchange them forever till I get one that works properly. THIS one has audio that sounds like bad old tape - it warbles. If a bird, it'd be protected by the endangered species act.

So, let's see:

Box 1 and 2, in Minnesota, were sold as new, but weren't - bad retailer with a B in the name.

Box 3 worked for maybe two years till the modem died.

Box 4 worked about a year plus, and then the hard drive died.

Box 5 has bad audio out of the box.

And we're STILL addicted to TiVo? Yes indeed. It's that powerful.

You can buy "Lifetime" service for several hundred dollars; i.e. : program downloads. But they are for the lifetime of the BOX, not you. I don't do that.

Anybody want to start a pool? Which one will be the one that works?

You could say the world has pretty much gone that way.

Here's one - I send a Fedex box (ground) COLLECT/CERTIFIED FUNDS ONLY MADE OUT TO ME. It is picked up, a check is exchanged. Does Fedex Fedex it to me? Noooooooo. They use the mail. You know, the mail - with no tracking number. Do I have the check 6 days later? Noooooooo. Will I ever see it? Start the pool!

Products to make the world a Better Place

We all use spell checker, don't we? It doesn't work in this blog, but it's an imperfect world. That's what I want to suggest - another way to make the world more perfect.

What we need is Speak Checker. Something that stops the wrong words from coming out of our mouths at exactly the wrong time. The wife says, "does this dress make me look fat?" And you say "yes." Instead, that moment would never have happened if Speak Checker has stopped the husband and suggested an alternative.

With bluetooth and wireless phones, it'd just be a little behind the ear thing, pick up your word forming pre-speaking lobe and then whisper the corrected version. The pause would make us appear more thoughtful, adding value to the correct wording.

Coming soon: The Guilt Amplifier.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The unexpected

When something unexpected happens, it's usually good or bad.

And consequences can ripple through the reality we call now into the one we will call now later.

I just took my wife's car in for an oil change and wiper blades: $109. It's a luxury car - a Jaguar, and we are used to having the car cleaned when reparied or serviced. The better car dealers do this. Well, up rolls the service guy with the job overpriced and done - but the car is dirty. Unexpected. Bad. At that moment, I wished there was another dealer here, but there isn't. I asked him why they didn't clean it, and he said, "oh, we can wash it." Strange, I thought. Why didn't you? So he took off and had it done. It was a great wash - tire dressing, vacuuming, the whole deal. Unexpected. Good. He said they had performed warranty work too (yet the car is OUT of warranty.) Unexpected. Good. We'll be back.

Some years ago I bought some very expensive audio cables. If I wrote what I'd paid I'd be shut down and sent to an institution for people like me and I don't like myself that much anyway, so why would I confess to end up with more of me? Well, anyway, I e mailed the manufacturer a nice question about where that cable now fits in their lineup. NO ANSWER. Unexpected. Bad. I imagine them laughing their collective ass off every time they make a sale. I will never do business with that company again.

We have friends in Singapore who have just adopted their third little girl. The new mom's story is so compelling I shared it with some friends who also have adopted. One wrote back that her story had changed his bad day into a good one and lent some needed perspective. Unexpected. Good.


Maybe that's the meaning of life.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Sith in DLP

Yetherday we drove to thee the Revenge of the Sith in digital projection.

Theats were few by the time got got there, so we that clother to the thcreen than I would have liked.

We bought our ticketh online. That was hi-tech.

As much for the movie, I wanted to thee the digital projection.

The acting wath wooden. I admit it. Tho wooden that lumberjackth were theen in the lobby.

Okay, I'll knock it off.

Seriously, the DLP screening was probably a lot better than film, but we sat so close to the screen, it was a little hard to tell. Forest for the trees, speaking of wooden.

Great effects. They can do anything. Believe it - if it's on screen don't believe it.

The episode tied all previous ones together nicely.

The actor who played Luke Skywalker was, IMHO, weak. Sorry, I don't remember the names of many of these people. And neither will you, given another job like this one. 3CpO had more expression. Obe-Wan was good... he can act. Natalie Portman seemed prettier last time, but then her head wasn't 45 feet high. She was birch to Jimmy Smits' hickory. The Emperor was the only guy who really acted. Sam Jackson was oak.

Throw a cape on a tree. Film in High-D: Star Wood.

I guess you'd have to blame the director, and I've defended him before. When you make BILLIONS on mass taste, then, you win. It's pop culture, not art. They don't sell popcorn at art.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Confessions of a junkie

Hello, my name is Bob and I am a junkie.

Hello, Bob.

I live with my junkie wife in a nice house. No one would ever suspect us.

We are addicted to TiVo.

We're now on our 5th box. The first three came from the same big box store. The first two, sold as new, when activated, were discovered to have already been activated by previous owners who returned them to the store, which then resold them as new. Bad store. Its initials have a b in them.

That 3rd box worked, but eventually the modem within died. TiVo calls out to get the program listings so it knows what to record for you.

Box number 4 was difficult to set up when we moved to Austin, as it wouldn't initiatize through a VOIP (internet phone) setup. I had to go bother a neighbor, use his REAL phone and TV.

Box 4 has just become very sick - this time the hard drive is fading. Actually, it has the stoppies (cute name for imminent death, don't you think? Not my name - TiVo did it.) A new hard drive is $169. A new box is $199. Even though we expect to go Hi-Def in the fall, and that will involve some other PVR (hi-def disc drive video recorder), we can't live without our fix of TiVo all summer.

Box 5 has just been purchased. Because we are addicts.

TiVo saves SO much time and transforms the TV experience into something wonderful. NO MORE COMMERCIALS. NO MISSED SHOWS. I could go on and on, but I need to go bother the neighbor and get this box working. I have evangelized TiVo to non-believers/potential addicts and they say they don't want to watch more TV. But TiVo cuts all shows down by the time of promos and commercials! You save - what? 18 to 22 minutes per hour of viewing. That's LESS TV.

I am becoming addicted to SKYPE too... a WAY COOL VOIP free program that allows me to talk to other SKYPERS over a microphone and hear them back on speakers. That reads like "speaker phone" but it's SO much better, so much more intimate. Has to be experienced to be believed. It also has instant chat - last night I was messaging a friend in Singapore. We would have spoken but his kids were stil asleep.

If you want to get Skype, check this out:

Okay, I have admitted my addictions (well, okay, the computer too, and the internet) and I feel better and clean.

Now I need some chocolate.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Conundrums prevent the spread of opinions

What's the deal with contractions? "Isn't" is the same number of characters as "is not". Unless you count the space between "is" and "not." And why would you count space? Space is infinite. It would take infinity to count. And what are you contracting? What are the terms of the contract? The o is replaced by an apostrophe. Then what happens - you never hear about that - does the o go on unemployment? Can the o sue for age discrimination? The o has been around forever. In fact, without an o you don't even HAVE forever.

The driveway is SEALED

I thought something was going all too well... the concrete staining was done with no aicd burn screams and actually the color, although a shade of orange, blends well with the dirt beside and stone on the house.

All we had to do was get it sealed.

Well, today we are awakened by the sound of what sounds like an ice cream truck - you know - "diddle de diddle de dum, diddle dee dee dee DUM." Up rolls this odd looking vehicle and out pops a clown. Yes, a red nose, horn honking, big shoe CLOWN. He goes to the side of the truck, lets down a ramp, and leads a SEAL down the ramp and up the driveway. The seal is barking and the clown is waving a small shiny fish to encourage the seal. The seal is flippering the concrete - there's just no other word for it. The clown is selztering

Never do business with a guy whose boutonniere flower squirts on you, no matter how low his price.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Just more everyday life in Hill Country

The driveway's done. Almost. Now it needs to be sealed. It is sealed with a mystery fluid you can't see when dry. That keeps you from knowing why you paid more.

But the acid stain spraying guy didn't melt into the concrete like I thought he would, and, as a Professional, he did a reasonable job. Our blue white 'crete is now a mottled orange. This is more organic and blends in better. It'll go nicely with my car when I put it up on blocks to rust.

Next up, next week, the invasion of the Landscapers, part two. The Part One company failed miserably in so many ways. Donald Trump wouldn't have said, "You're fired!" - he would have said, "Come here," then beaten them bloody with a shovel. So our weeds'n'dirt will be hydraseeded with flourescent color to look like Lambeau Field in December. Then, some time later, the flourescence will be replaced by tiny little shoots of growth.

Day before yesterday, a scorpion was lounging by the pool, when a very heavy planter pot just rolled over its back, crushing it. Man. That's bad luck.

Next week we hope to start the 11 step process of Sun-Deck, which coats the concrete poolside with simulated concrete. It's supposed to stop you from frying eggs poolside on the deck. Sun Deck is applied by professionals who are NOT RESPONSIBLE for cleaning up the pool. The brochure is quite specific about this. I hope their tacos don't clog the pool filter till I can vacuum the stuff out.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Muriatic Acid and me

I wish this blog would show pictures, but it won't - at least it won't LATELY. I have hope for a brighter tomorrow. But I try. I fling them out into cyberspace where they will no doubt be discovered by an alien life form at some future junction of dna and binary digits.

We decided not to stain the driveway ourselves (meaning me and/or the builder, who had never done that before, and wanted to be completely absolved to any mistakes or horribles, prior.) Instead, we hired A Professional. He capitalized those letters, not me, as he scolded me for impatience the other day. Scold away, but it didn't rain all day, big guy, and you COULD be done by now.

The funny thing is the builder and I had hazmat suits, breathing apparatii, goggles - no kidding! Leave no skin for the acid stain to etch! Then I chickened out. Too much at stake - a 350 foot turd won't do.

So the Professional guy we hired is here now, alone, with a garden sprayer, in T-shirt, sneakers, and shorts. And he's getting it done.

I wish I could show you the driveway difference - it's like the difference between a Minnesotan winter pale leg, and a Texas summer tan.

By the way, I can decode acid concerete stains for you.

Malay Tan = orange
Golden Wheat = orange
Cola = orange

More to come on this, no doubt, as I'm imagining House Of Wax B movie flesh melting scenes to come.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Tooth, Justice, and the American Way

The adventure continues! A new dentist in a new city. My trust bank account is as empty as my anxiety bank account is full. For three months I have been unable to chew on one side. My cure: wait it out. This usually works, but this was by far the longest run. We also waited for Terri's insurance to kick in, since I am without pedigree just now. I saw the doc a month ago, he took X-rays and said, "you bet, yes indeed, and YOW!" as I bit him, while he probed with the instrument of pain. Then said, "make an appointment this'll take some time good to meet you," and ran off to the next cubicle. A month passes... and so does the pain. FINALLY. But, since X-ray found decay (nice term), I kept the appointment.

Meanwhile, while waiting for that appointment to roll around, one day I found a chunk of what looked like tooth in my pablum. It could have fallen from the pablum factory ceiling into the vat, but gee, sure looked like tooth. Or maybe old piano key. Pablum - piano key - not a likely match. Maybe tooth.

I mentioned this to the doc, and he looked - "Yeah, a big chunk missing." But that'll take another appointment we don't have time today you want the bottom or the top fixed?" He then discovered some extra time on the books and agreed to 'do' both my problems all at once.

My deal: you don't get into my mouth without gas. And you can tell when it's right, because the pointer is pointing at MAX. Okay, then, here's a snoutful.

Nitrous Oxide Thoughts while squirming:

Why am I still in the room? I've had other dentists launch me with gas. I'm still here.

The drill sounds like someone screaming into hell. Make it stop.

I smell burning tooth.

How do you know the dentist is any good...? There's no way to know. Not when he's new to you.

What if this guy finished dead last in class?

Why does he or the assistant keep hitting my front tooth with something metal?

This feels like he's doing Mount Rushmore in there.

That gagging sound must be me.

Heard while squirming:

"I'll have to start working out - This guy's got quite a tongue muscle."

"Open" - you mean two hands IN my mouth ISN'T open?



And the needles. Geez... I felt a squirt in my nose. Then my chin! Meanwhile my feet are trying to walk up air at the bottom of the chair, but there's no traction. What's that taste? Burning tire? No, CLOVE and burning tire.

Well, it's over now. The zombie lip has softened, the tinglies have departed, and my jaw hurts.

Words for sale

I've been doing voicework - voiceacting, and or announcing, for many years - usually as a sideline, but for 5 years, some years back, as my 'real' job. Then radio intervened and now again I am firing up that voicework side of my business. My great former agent based in San Diego and Orange County, CA. has welcomed me back 'home' into her fold, and I sure appreciate her support. In such a subjective business, ANY positive response helps shore the ego for the countless rejections.

The business has changed dramatically. Now I can audition for any job anywhere in the world, from home. I have a pro rack full of equipment and a dedicated sound room. Then I send the work out via internet - MP3 or WAV files.

This will be an interesting twist in the road of my career. In a way, it's like fishing. You drop the line, and wait. There ARE monster sized jobs lurking out there, among the many little ones. You never know what might happen.