Friday, January 30, 2004

Money Money Money

Doing the Friday Five thing again:
You have just won one million dollars:

1. Who do you call first?
The first impulse is to call my parents. Yeah, that's who I'd call.

2. What is the first thing you buy for yourself?
There are so many things. The world is suddenly a candy store and everything I want is within my price range. But I don't want to fall prey to impulse buys. I'd buy a vintage Gibson Les Paul and a Marshall Amp and be done with it.

3. What is the first thing you buy for someone else?
I'd pay off and fix up the house. I know it sounds like that's for me, too, but that's something my wife wants more than just about anything. So it would be for her.

4. Do you give any away? If yes, to whom?
Yes, but where do I begin? There are so many people who need it, and a million dollars really doesn't go that far today. I would probably start by looking at the needs of my neighborhood, which is not very well-to-do. I'd see if I could help any of the kids here with getting an education.

5. Do you invest any? If so, how?
I would take a chunk, maybe 25 grand or so and put it into growth funds and see what happens from there.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Love and Insects

The other day at the doctor's office, while he was looking through my file, he said, "You've been married almost ten years? What's your secret?" All I could think of to say was that it must be her immense patience with me. Ten years. It's got me to thinking. We've spent a lot of time building something really great, Mrs. Chickenshorts and I. We share so many bonds that could only have been created through this effort. I love her very much. What we have is much more than a silly little crush or infatuation and it's taken a lot of energy and time and slogging through the muck of misunderstanding and selfishness to get it. Which is why I don't understand people who throw away a hard-won relationship for some little infatuation. It's going to take a lot of work to make that into something near what you already have. I love my wife very much. I can't imagine having what I have now with anyone else. It just isn't possible.

I'm working on a project for the local planetarium. As a result, we got to go on a tour of the facility the other day (I sure have a brutal job) and watch two 3D IMAX films: "Bugs" and "Space Station." It was astounding. I've never been to a 3D film before and those insects were creepy! The detail and proximity were really something to behold. At one point a spider drops down on a web inches from your nose. I'm going to take the kids on Saturday and I know they're going to scream. It's going to be so fun watching them get the crap scared out of them--unless I have to clean it up, that is. They're all so interesed in learning about things like that that it's going to be quite an adventure. I'm more excited than they are.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Perfectly Normal

I went to the doctor yesterday afternoon and nothing is wrong with me. My heart was jumping out of my chest (it's doing it as I type this) when they did the EKG, but it must be all in my head because it read normal. I'm going to wear a heart monitor next Monday, but right now, according to the machines (which are always right, right?), nothing's going on in there. I'm supposed to get more sleep and more exercise. Whatever.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Dancing Boys

I'm playing around with animated gifs and this is what I came up with. I think I made it too big but I'm just learning.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Friday Five

First of all, thanks to all of you who are kicking my butt to get me to go to the doctor. It's nice to be thought of. I have an appointment set for Monday. My heart's boogying down really got to me today. It had a hard time concentrating on anything at work and I think it's beginning to affect my respiration a little, though that could be my imagination.

Ok. On to this Friday Five thing. I've never done it before but I thought it would be a good way to give me something to write about. So here goes.

Friday Five Button
At this moment, what is your favorite...

1. ...song? Can anyone pin down a favorite? And why isn't favorite movie an option here. Well, if I have to pick one favorite song right this second it would be CNSY's "Southern Cross." It's such a beautiful song and their musicianship is nigh unapproachable.

2. ...food? Right now it's anything with a lot of carbs--bread, pasta, fruit--because I'm trying to cut down, which means it's only natural that it's more appealing. I've always been a huge Italian food guy, though.

3. ...tv show?A couple of months ago I would have said "Law and Order: Criminal Intent." Vincent D'Onofrio is fun to watch, a great actor, but lately they've been wrapping the shows up with "Scooby Doo Endings." You know: "Yeah, I did it. And I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids!" So I'd have to go with ER. I know, I know. How long can they keep that thing going. But it's grabbed me. I like it.

4. ...scent?I'm not into cologne or perfume.

5. ...quote? A wise man washes his hands after he pees. A wiser man doesn't pee on his hands. ~Unknown.


Thursday, January 22, 2004

Answers to Blog Day Interview Questions

Well, I plunged right in and told Charlie he could ask me some questions. I told him I might leave one-word answers as opposed to his answers which would fill a library. Prolific doesn't begin to describe that boy! But I'll be a good sport and answer with at least two words. But first . . .

THE RULES!
1 - Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2 - I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3 - You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 - You'll include this explanation.
5 - You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

And now Charlie's questions:
1) Pick one number that's been associated with you at some point -- grade, height, age, weight, IQ, street address, whatever. Now, let's say you could change that number. What's the number, what does it mean, what do you change it to, and why?

Four. Four is the number of times I've had the crap beaten out of me. The first was in Junior High. When I was a freshman, I tripped a 7th Grader in the hall between classes. I don't know why I did it, but there it was, and he was calling me out. I stood up and put my fists in front of me. Now, you must understand, I was a very small freshman. In fact, when I graduated high school in 1985, I was around 5'6" and 95 lbs. In the two years following graduation, I grew to 5'11", but back then, in 9th grade, I was smaller than this 7th grader. Anyway, there I was, preparing to fight, trying to get my nerve up to do something when WHAM! I was on the floor, the inside of my cheek split open. I figured I'd had enough and sat back down on the bench next to my friends. The kid tried unsuccessfully to goad me back into fighting. Finally he left. But my friends took over where he left off. They couldn't stand it. They were embarassed to be seen with me. So when the kid came back, evil sneer plastered on his face, I stood up and said, "Let's fight again." After an initial look of shock and wonderment, he resumed without missing a beat, like he'd bookmarked the incident. All I remember was the room spinning around, lockers in my face, and girls laughing at me.

The second time was by a former friend of mine. One summer he suddenly decided he didn't like me. I still don't know why. For about three months he tried to get me to fight him, but with my fighting record, I didn't feel like it. Then one day, at church, I determined that I had taken his crap for the last time. I told him to meet me behind the chapel after class. He didn't say another word to me until we were outside, our fists up. Then he started in as always: "Go ahead, hit me." So I hit him in the eye. I'd never done that to him before so he was quite surprised. For that, I hit him again, same eye. He started crying! He actually started crying. He said, "Stop it! I have to see the bishop in a few minutes and I can't see him with a black eye!" So I hit him in the lip. It was just the two of us. No one else around, and I was loving it. He finally started to attack me but it wasn't much, just a little wrestling, then a woman saw us and broke it up. That afternoon, he sent his brother to call me out. He said he was waiting over by the Clark's house. I knew what this meant. The whole neighborhood was there waiting to see a fight. I don't know why, but I went over there, and sure enough, about thirty kids were crowded around him on the lawn. He didn't talk this time, he just jumped on me. With all those people there I got performance anxiety and froze. He had told his big brother that I had ambushed him for no reason, so his brother coached him. He pummeled me.

Wow, this is a lot more than two words, eh? The third time was in the Valley in L.A. I was friends with the Mods. You know, they rode scooters and listened to The Who and watched "Quadrofinia. The way we dressed was very distinctive. One day, my friend and I were walking down Sepulveda Blvd. when we heard a bunch of guys singing "F*** the Mods" to the tune of "Jingle Bells." I glared at them but my friend pushed me on, and we began to cross the street. When we got to the middle of the road, a chicken bone flew past my ear. I turned around and saw a skinhead who was at least eight feet tall and 600 lbs glaring at me. "What the &*@! were you staring at," he yelled. I said, "I wasn't looking at anything," and he punched me, splitting my lower lip. I fell to the road and the light changed. I looked around for help but the traffic just drove around us, the drivers laughing at me. My friend, bless him, pulled me to my feet and we ran to the other side of the street. When we got there, four of the guy's friends had joined him and they jumped on me, pounding and kicking me on the ground. My friend, bless him again, yelled at them to stop and they turned on him. Finally we got into a drug store. They didn't follow us in but stayed outside, singing the song at the top of their lungs.

The final (?) time was in Idaho. I was walking a friend to her apartment which was in the area where all the illegal aliens lived. One of them, a very short hispanic guy, ran over to me and whacked me in the back of the head with something. I was a punker, dressed strangely for that area, so the cowboys and jocks hated me. That's why what happened next surprised me so much. As I was facing off against this guy, a cowboy in a very large pickup stopped and got out. He told me to get out of there and began pounding on the Mexican kid. He must have been more of a bigot than a punk-hater. We left and I thought it was over. It wasn't of course or I wouldn't be telling it now. I took my friend home and hung out with her for a while, nursing the bump on my head. A few minutes later, the door crashed open and four mexicans came in, led by the one who'd hit me. One of them had a chain, one had a belt and one had a stick. They pummeled me.

So that's the number: Four. What would I change it to? Well, I thought I might change it to none. Understandable, right? But then I wouldn't have any of these cool stories to tell (even though they make me sound like a pussy.)

2) You find a shoebox in the back of your closet, and discover that anything you put into it (besides money or jewels) is magically cloned when you close the box. So what do you have in your house right _now_ that fits in half a shoebox, and that you would want more of?

I would have to say my drawing supplies--pencils, erasers, sharpeners, blending stumps, etc. I'm always losing that stuff and it gets expensive.

3) You're given the opportunity to spend a weekend with an unlimited budget, travel options, whatever supplies you need, etc. But you have to spend the weekend alone, and you can only be gone from the hours of five pm on Friday to a minute before midnight on Sunday night. Where do you go, and why?

This is going to be a boring answer. I'd have to say anywhere in Europe, because, while I've traveled all over the U.S., I haven't been outside the states. And if I have to narrow it down, I'd say Germany. I have four years of German under my belt and I've never had a chance to use it.

4) You can have the power to put anyone within the sound of your voice to sleep with a single word. If you accept the gift, you'll never be able to turn it off. Do you want the power, and if so, what will you choose as your 'trigger' word and how will you use it? That's easy. The word would be "booger" because I don't use it in everyday conversation so I don't think I would slip and put my wife to sleep while she's driving, for instance. How would I use it? That's easy too. I'd use it every time my kids get up in the middle of the night.

5) You have the ability to magically bring one person back from the dead and set up a ten-minute meeting with him or her with any living person (excluding yourself). Who do you get together, and why?

A couple of years ago I could get all noble and put Saddam Hussein with Ghandi to see if the latter could teach the former anything about leading a nation, but it's too late for that. Why can't the living person be me? I'd get Stevie Ray Vaughan over here to teach me a few licks. But I can't so who would I put together? Hmmmm. That's a toughie. Every combination I think of is with the idea of an opporunity to be taught by someone from the past. The thing is, we have their lessons already. We just need to read them. So I'm just going to put Louis Armstrong with BB King to see what kind of music they come up with together.

Great questions, Charlie.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

More Widowmaker Pics

Here are some more pics of me and my buddy, Scott, at the Widowmaker Snowmobile hill climb:



Tuesday, January 20, 2004

All a Flutter

My heart's been going crazy. I might have written about this before...if so forgive me but it's on my mind and my intended post--more pictures of the snowmobile climb--has to be delayed since I forgot to email them to myself. Anyway, a couple of years ago my heart started acting up. Maybe it hadn't been getting enough attention, I don't know, but every few minutes it would do some sort of wild breakdance move inside my chest. Kind of like a muscle spasm, except with a muscle spasm your nervous system doesn't send frantic messages all through your body, down your arms and legs, into your toes and fingertips. But when my heart, the most important muscle in my body, wants to make itself known, it screams at you in no uncertain terms. So I did the thing I dislike most--next to cramming salt and vinegar potato chips under my eyelids--I went to the doctor. He sent me to another doctor, so I got to do the thing I hate most twice in one day. This doctor hooked me up to a heart monitor and left me alone for awhile. As if it were auditioning for some sort of reality show, my heart danced all over the place. When the doctor came back, he looked at the read out and his eyes widened. He was actually surprised. I don't think a doctor has ever looked at me like that before. I guess he thought I was full of crap until he saw the proof on the little piece of paper. He told me I have some sort of arrhythmia. Not just any arrhythmia either. He told me the scientific name for it, but since it's in latin or martian or whatever, I can't remember it. What I do remember is that it only happens to old people. In fact, it was happening to Senator McCain at the time. So I can be a politition. Well, I guess the doctor didn't trust the machinery completely so he sent me to a hospital where I was to pick up a heart monitor and wear it for the next couple of days. I guess my heart got a little stage fright because it didn't do it again. Not once. They wanted to do some more tests but I didn't see anything wrong anymore. There was no longer any need to worry. My heart was fine. For two years. I did worry a little, though, when I got a message from the county saying that even though there was a shortage of flu vaccine that year, that I was on the high-risk list and could come and get my shot. But I didn't, of course.

About three months ago it started again. All the time now. About every thirty seconds it flippity-flops around my chest cavity sending those awful adrenaline signals throughout my body. Surges of electricity making my triceps ache. The thing is, I don't think there's anything to be done about it. I can go and wear the heart monitor again, but then what? Some horse pill with side effects? But then again, the thing is driving me nuts.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Oh Muse? Muse? Where are you?

I go through this all the time. For years, usually. I just don't want to draw. At all. It's not fun. It's not therapeutic. It's work. And I don't want to do it so I'm not going to. Except I have to. You see, over a year ago the company had an auction for charity. They do this every year, auctioning off items like tickets to a ball game, or a clock radio, or a weekend stay at some bed and breakfast. Then the proceeds go to an employee of the company who really needs it. It's a good idea. Anyway, last year I was asked to donate a portrait of up to 2 people and I, being the kind of person who can't say no, said, "sure." We put a minimum bid of $75 on it. I was quite flattered when the bids started going up and up and, well, up. There's a sign-up sheet for each item that's posted for about a week and almost everytime I checked in on it there was a new bid. I think it went for $250. Great. Wonderful. The thing is, it's been almost a year and a half and I haven't started on it. The person who won the portrait gave me several pictures and has since retired. She hasn't said a word to me about it. But the photos are saying plenty: "When are you going to start? What are you doing, you lousy bum? Get going!" If she had only got me during the times of plenty, when my muses were dancing around my head constantly, sprinkling me with water from the wellspring of desire to create. Right now I'm in a desert. I just don't want to do it. Or maybe I just like things like this hanging over my head. Who knows.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

1000 Feet of Ice Cold Hell

This guy had a lot of problems. Not the least of which was being squashed by his ride. That's me in the snow, waiting for the next racer. I shot the 1st Annual Widowmaker Snowmobile Hill Climb yesterday. There were three of us with cameras from the station. While the sun was out, it was a balmy 32 degrees farenheit (0 celcius), but as the day wore on and the sun went behind the mountain, it dropped to 15 degrees. Still, it was great fun even though I left my gloves at the station. I was so pissed off when I realized that. And I thought I was so prepared. There were a lot of wrecks. A lot of poor guys who had to watch their expensive sleds roll end over end to the bottom of the hill shedding miscellanious equipment like skis, windshields, and engine parts along the way. If I ever get around to it, I'll post some video of the more spectacular wrecks. I had my own little mishap: During a lull in the action, I was trying to cross over the track to the other side when I lost my footing and started to slide down the hill. I put my bare hand down to steady myself and friction-burned it pretty bad. My only other thought was to save the camera. I don't have the $60 grand to replace it, so I sacrificed my body as I slid the 45 feet to the bottom. Speaking of bottoms, mine has some nice little bruises on it. Souvenirs, I guess.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Not Road Rage, Stupid Rage

I don't have many attacks of road rage, but there are times when rage just doesn't describe what I want to get out of the car and do to someone. That's why I don't carry a gun. My brother has a concealed weapons permit and he carries a 9mm semi-automatic in a fanny pack. I don't know what he thinks he's going to do with it but I know that if I carried one around in the car, there would be a lot of driverless vehicles on I-15 and I would be languishing in prison. That said, let me repeat that I'm usually pretty patient on the road. It's just that self-defense/self-preservation mechanism that kicks in when someone does something so absolutely stupid and threatens my life. There I was, minding my own business, listening to Frank Herbert's Dune from the CD player, when this idiotic woman in her early twenties, I'm guessing by the looks of her, decides she's waited long enough and that maybe now is the time for a little Russian Roulette. She turns right from the cross street onto the street I'm on. There's just one problem...I'm there right now. There's no room for two of us even if I do like to cuddle. The only thing I could do was drive into the other lane and into oncoming traffic. I stomped on the brakes, too, but that didn't do much more than make my tires screech in pain. She couldn't have been counting on the fact that I would slow down and let her in (even though she had no right of way) because she waited until I was directly in front of her. I never honk the horn so I couldn't find the little buttons on the steering wheel, or I would have laid on my horn until I was deaf, or she was. What's with those little buttons, anyway? When I want to sound the horn, I want to pound on it till it screams, not daintily press a little button: "Excuse me, but toot toot." As it was, my tires spoke for me. I need to check for bald spots. She didn't act startled. She just pulled over to the side doing her best not to look at me. I didn't stop. If you need a reason for this, I refer you to the beginning of this post where I was talking about guns. It wouldn't have been pretty.
Look lady, I already have arrhythmia. I don't need anyone giving my heart a reason to dance around any more than it already is.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Dave Barry's Christmas Poem

This is pretty dang funny.

A Slow, Wrinkled Day.

After being booked for days with various clients, editing their commercials, trying to make conversation with them for hours, or trying to endure the heavy silence that would ensue when I became intent on making their visions materialize, I finally had a more relaxing day. All my appointments were for inside clients--the promotions department, etc. I'm usually left to work on my own, something I very much prefer. There's much less pressure that way, and my natural creativity comes out. If I make mistakes, I can easily repair them if no one's looking over my shoulder. I also feel that I make better creative decisions than the average client who is usually a store owner who's never been in an edit bay before. I've been doing this since 1987 and I've learned a little about advertising in that time.

I even got away from the cave for awhile. The edit bay is a small, dimly-lit hibernation chamber (see pictures). I've actually had a client fall asleep for over an hour while I was editing. So it's nice to get out every so often. Today we pulled one unlucky soul from what she was doing to be a subject of cover video for the big project I'm writing and producing for. We disrupted most of the sales department (a beautiful thought!) as we took over their area and shot video of one of the assistants. I'm sure they never suspected their job descriptions would include "actor" when they signed on for sales. I directed a lot of it. There's a great feeling of power that comes from telling a sales employee what to do. I love it.

After I got home and we had dinner, my five-year-old and I went to the library. We were listening to the local Jazz station on the way home, a beautiful and sophisticated piano number. I said, "I had an uncle who could play piano just like that. He's actually my mother's uncle. He was in a jazz band in California most of his life," to which my boy replied, "Was his skin all wrinkly?" Yeah, he was old, I told him. Then he said, "My Uncles are old, too. They aren't wrinkly though." All of his uncles are much younger than me. I better start examining my skin.

P.S. What's the strangest, funniest, stupidest search phrase someone used to get to your site? I just had one that said, "superstitions bird pooping on a person." Just goes to show, you'll find all kinds of useful information here!

Monday, January 12, 2004

I understand it's that time again. I want to thank the JavaDiva for her glowing praise of my site. If you haven't enjoyed her funny musings--almost always dealing in some way with coffee--you should start. But I must warn you that it's addictive.

The blog I frequent the most is Busy Mom. If you're ever feeling down, run to Mom and she'll make you laugh. Also, head on over to Short-t. I've been reading her mind for a while now, and I like it.

Oh, and I got the button from Java Diva who got it from Buzz who got it from Susan.

A Princess Rufflebutt Progress Report

She's at that point when she must be held all the time. If she is not held, she screeches at the top of her lungs, drowning out any chance of conversation. This cacophony almost always starts out as cute random warblings. Then she begins to shout, as if trying out her voice. By this time it's quite loud, but you've heard nothing yet. She then starts a siren wail, like a singer working out with her voice-lesson warm ups. She does this without a trace of sadness or discomfort so it's still cute and funny, even if a little annoying. If she hasn't been picked up by this time, her cries become edged with anger.

How do babies know if they're being held standing up, or sitting down? They don't seem to like the latter, as it gives the person doing the holding a little comfort. Can't have that now.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

A Reminder:

OK, Dinky, now you'll remember: After that thick piece of heavily-iced birthday cake you ate with your hands because you were too lazy to get a fork, wash your hands before you play your guitar.

This week was full of movies. This time of year my friend the movie reviewer lets me watch his Academy Award screeners to see what I think. That's how I was able to view "Big Fish" three weeks before it was out. I was so psyched to see "Lost in Translation" with Bill Murray, but I still haven't finished it. It just doesn't grab me. I like art films, just not the ones that scream, "Look at me, I'm an Art Film." Bill Murray is good, as always, but there's just not enough there for him to be good at. My friend, Scooter, said it best: The filmakers spent so much energy trying to say something that just didn't seem that important.

"21 Grams" was far more interesting but I'm still not sure I like what it had to say. I didn't like the way it was saying it at first, but in retrospect, the arrangement of the scenes was pretty cool. It's kind of like watching "Memento" in which the movie is presented backwards, finish to start. Except that while that movie is still linear, "21 Grams" is all mixed up. You don't know if the scene you're watching takes place after or before the one you just saw. Pretty ingenious, really, considering the characters' lives are in shambles. You have to puzzle the movie back together at the same time the characters are trying to put back the pieces of their existence. I'd say it's nothing more than a downer, but I've seen worse. At least this movie lets you have a glimmer of hope.

I also took the opportunity to watch a couple of old movies that I've missed. One of these is "Fight Club." I loved it. Ok, I didn't love it, but I liked it a lot. It was hard to switch gears in the middle and go from laughing at everything to tripping over the intensity of the "other movie" the third act becomes. But once I had a chance to digest everything. . . well . . . does anybody want to fight? I mean, really, no obligations, no winning or losing. We can even put on gloves and headgear if you want. I just want to fight now.

I didn't have a chance to watch "Cold Mountain." I hope he lets me borrow it for a few more days.

The aforementioned birthday cake was for my boy who turned 8 back in December. We waited to have his party so it could truly be his day rather than just a small part of Christmas. It was the first time the kids have gone bowling. I haven't been in a long time. I couldn't believe how much it cost. But it was fun. I won, of course. My score, you ask? Well, um, it was 87. But, come on! I didn't even have time to warm up. The worst part is, my three-year-old came close to beating me, but then, I only had to trip him once and it threw off the rest of his game.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Movies

If the entries seem a little sparse or too few lately, it's because of the added responsibility at work. I'm writing a lot more for work than usual. So when it get around to writing in the docket, I'm burned out on writing. But I'll keep it going the best I can.

Yesterday my wife and kids watched Castaway for the second time, and, for the second time, my eight-year-old got pretty emotional when Wilson was lost at sea. When he did, my five-year-old said, "It's just a volleyball, he can get another one." So much for sentiment.

I watched Big Fish again. I really recommend it. It opens everywhere on Friday. Go see it and tell me what you think. Tell me if I hyped it too much.