Friday, January 30, 2009

Bruce: All is forgiven!

Springsteen calls Wal-Mart CD deal a mistake

I love it when my pop heroes agree with me.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Man walks into a doctor’s office…

…says “Warden, my brother thinks he’s a duck but we need the milk…”

So the Bone-Spur Surgery people finally contacted me today about tomorrow’s event. Now I know why they don’t call till the night before – so you only spend one night scared shitless.

What every other link in this month’s-long chain of increasingly pricey specialists has assured me is a no-big-deal deal has suddenly became this Major Deal involving six+ hours in hospital, ice-pack shoulder pads, post-procedure swelling so outrageous they promised to cut off my wedding ring if I didn’t remove it first (“Wouldn’t want you to lose your finger,” the nurse pointed out cheerfully), etc. and so forth.

I’ve been off the super-Advil for a couple of weeks now – so I don’t bleed out on the table, fussy buggers – and my shoulder hurts like the dickens and I’m still having last-minute jitters. Suddenly the method to their madness makes perfect sense.

Looking forward to my week off from work, though. Promised myself not to sweat whether or not the job’ll be there when I come back to claim it. If work hadn’t been such a massive stress-inducer these last couple weeks, the thing I’d be most looking forward to would be the pain meds; as it stands, my new addiction-in-waiting has dropped to a solid number two.

I expect I’ll be back to blog-silence for a while after this. The nice lady on the phone today painted me a lovely picture of not being able to do so much as scratch my own ass for a few days after the surgery, so I’m thinking, probably not so much with the typing or guitar noodling for a while. Thus that lovely week off of work.

I might have made a mistake when I bought “Dark Knight” tickets at the local IMAX for the night of the day after surgery, but I’ll burn that bridge when I cross it. I really wanted The Missus to see it first on the biiiiig screen, and I bought the first tickets for the show we’re going to (meaning optimum seats if you’re hip to the IMAX experience) so like it or not, I’m doing a rare night out the evening after. Fuck it. Fuck that. Fuck me.

(It’s amazing how liberating it is to be able to casually throw the F-bomb around; never knew how integral it was to my lexicon till The Boy started parroting every bad thing I say around the house and I had to put ‘Fuck’ on the shelf when he’s home.)

Anyhow, I’ve been keeping the whole surgery thing relatively low-profile, especially for a drama queen like me, at least partially because my fear expectations had been deliberately low-balled by the members of the medical community I’d been talking to about it. But I did share some of my concerns with my friend Cliz. After saying All The Right Things, she told me about a friend of a friend of hers who had some real medical problems, along with a request that I pray for him.

I’d love to help her in that regard, but scum like me recognize no God outside of our own self-absorption. Her story did touch my heart, though, black and shriveled from lack of use that it is. I hope she doesn’t mind if I share her plea here; if she does, it’ll probably be a few days before I’m physically able to take it down.

Anyone out there inclined to pray or think good atheistic thoughts relating to my recovery, I request you re-direct that positive energy in the direction of the man described below. I’ve only read one paragraph about him and already I like him better, and find him a more deserving recipient of well-wishes than your humble correspondent.

The note and the clip follow. He already sings like an angel, but he’s far too young to be singing with them.
I am writing to request prayer treatment for our friend and neighbor Stephen Bruton. He lives in [redacted for privacy reasons], but has kept an apartment in [redacted] for years and I have gotten to know him over the last few years whenever he was in town. He was diagnosed a while back with throat cancer which metastasized, but he beat it into remission. He was supposed to come back to town this month, but I found out that he went back into the hospital due to liver tumors. If you would say a prayer for him and his well being it would be most appreciated.

Stressed and depressed

I have a strict policy against writing about my job online. Excellent way to get shitcanned from said job, as so many before me can attest to. And my industry, newspapers, is not exactly flourishing. Seriously, if it wasn’t for running foreclosure notices I’d probably be in sackcloth and ashes already.

Instead, I’ve been pursuing other avenues of joining the rising tide of the unemployed.

Which is why I haven’t been writing anything lately. When worry about your job is all you’re thinking about and you have a policy against writing about your job, well, you don’t get a lot of writing done.

It’s been so long, I had to re-log in to Blogger, which I almost never have to do. “Hey stranger, who the fuck do you think you are? Fang Who?”

The shit all began to come down on inauguration day, of all days. To say it was a buzzkill is putting it politely. We even had a party that night, but by that time I was not in a partying frame of mind. I spent the day scrambling to get unfired, then had to slip away repeatedly during the party to get the work done I had put off all day while I was scrambling.

When I heard about that murder/suicide in Wilmington earlier this week, my first thought wasn’t “messy divorce,” it was “I’ll bet he just got fired.” Sure enough.

(For the record, I am contemplating neither murder nor suicide, but life without HBO and retail therapy trips to Costco is looking more and more likely. But not before this season of “Big Love” is through.)

So at the moment, I’m hanging onto my job by a thread and just about to take a week off to recover from shoulder surgery (which is scheduled to occur sometime tomorrow) to illustrate exactly how expendable I am at a time when that issue is already under active consideration.

Did I mention I was stressed and depressed?

On the plus side, the rest of the family is flourishing. The Missus’ career seems to be firing on all cylinders. Lots of road-trip conferences coming up which will give me plenty of extra time to spend with The Boy, who is 3+ now and more fun to hang out with every day. Seriously. And the potty training is going great at home, but he completely refuses to pursue it at daycare.

So hey, if I do find myself walking the breadline, we can save oodles of cash by taking The Boy out of daycare and I can get this potty-training ordeal wrapped up that much quicker.

My glass is always half-full, but that’s just me. (Note: just make sure you don’t drink whatever my glass is half full of.)

I wouldn’t have bothered posting at all, but I know if some of my friends go too long between posting I tend to start forgetting to check, so I figured I oughtta put something up here.

To sum up then: I’m here, I’m scared, get used to it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mission Accomplished.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thank you, Pete Seeger

For steadfastly doing your part to ensure that this land has remained our land through the decades, encompassing McCarthyism, Viet Nam, Watergate, all eight hellish years of the Bush Administration and every other threat to freedom and civil rights that came between.

Some bright day, may hundreds of thousands of people of all races, religions and creeds come together to celebrate America and everything that’s good and decent about her in the shadow of a monument to you.

Let freedom ring!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fashions Crimes and Misdemeanors

When mommy dresses me:

When Daddy dresses me:

You make the call...!

“Democracy” poised for a comeback?

Man, there’s something building, something in the air, even all the way out here on Christmas Island. A jumbo jet crashes – into the water – on take-off from New York and everybody walks away in one piece? That just doesn’t happen, does it? The pictures of all those people standing in a row on the barely-submerged plane wing, there was something absolutely New Testament about it:

I told The Missus today, “It’s the first Obama Miracle!”
• • •
I’ve been waiting to do something with the following clip for sixteen long years. Don Henley performed this Leonard Cohen composition at one of the galas accompanying Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993 and I haven’t felt as good about democracy since.

Thanks for the song, Mr. Cohen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I am a military family now

My nephew Andy just graduated Marine boot camp yesterday. I didn’t make it to the ceremony because I am a douschebag, but both my sisters did and one was kind enough to send me the photo above.

I found the photo both creepy and sad. With 3/4 of his face in shadows like that, and only his grim, pursed lips visible, it’s like the Andy I loved as a kid is finally, totally gone and all that’s left is this meat machine owned and operated by the government.

Andy grew up in the fetid latrine-ditch that is Tucson, Arizona. His mom started out poor and has stayed that way, running through almost as many aborted careers and get-rich-quick schemes as I have excuses for still smoking weed at 46. His biological father split at or before the time he was born and every subsequent male role model in his life has been a step-down from the previous one. How bad? Dad #2 was an alcoholic Mormon who rolled his pickup while drunk driving one Christmas morning and died on the scene.

Of Andy, his mom and his sister, Andy was the only one shed tears at his passing. A couple years later, his ex-stepdad’s crazy mother would helpfully show him and his sister the accident-scene photos taken by the police.

Time went by and one dead-end job led to another.

A couple years ago Andy began floating the idea of the military as a last-ditch opportunity to get the hell out of Tucson. At the time, the war in Iraq was raging and The Missus and I helped talk him into delaying signing up. He tried a couple of other things, including going to live in the deep south with his biological father and bio-dad’s new wife who didn’t want anything to do with him.

He ended up back in Tucson. And this time, we didn’t have an argument strong enough to keep him out of the military-industrial complex’s slavering maw.

So now Andy’s a Marine. My dad would have been awfully proud of his grandson today, as am I, in spite of my terribly mixed feelings about the whole thing.

The way I see it, the Marines will either make a proper man out of him; good, decent and honorable – or push him over the edge into the abyss. A lot of guys come back from overseas tours of duty considerably more at loose ends than when they left.

And I feel like a failure. When I was Andy’s age, I had an older sib who reached out and rescued me from fast-food Purgatory in Tucson and set me on the path to my current stress-packed but ultimately indolent lifestyle, and the fact that I was never able to do the same for Andy will haunt me as long as I live, no matter the outcome of his military adventure. He used to come out for unchaperoned visits in the summers when he was growing up and I really fell in love with that kid.

Now all I can do is watch him slip away to another dysfunctional family – the armed services – and pray to the god I don’t believe in that he comes back in one piece and in a better place to start his life over than when he left.

Godspeed, Andy. Semper fi!

And don’t do anything your Grandfather wouldn’t be proud of.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

President Bush’s Farewell Address:

GO!! Go. Go!!!

I can’t even stand to see your face one second longer.

Just fucking go away now, please.


Potty-training update: The Poppie Also Rises

Sorry, it’s all that’s been going on around here lately. At least until the big inauguration bash here next Tuesday.

Anyhow, I think The Boy has been playing us.

Not too long after his first successful pee-in-the-potty of the day this morning, he comes in and announces he wants a poppie (a Dum-Dum mini lollipop we use as part of the potty-training reward system). I say, “Well, you can’t have one of those till you go pee in the potty again.”

He says, “Okay. I gotta go pee.”

I’m skeptical to say the least, but always ready to rise to the challenge.

So we march out to his potty, drop his drawers and quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson” he is aflow. He looks up at me smiling in mid-stream and says, “Poppie?”

Seems like all we have to do is solve the day-care element of the potty training equation. And of course the poo part, too, but Rome’s sewage canals weren’t built in a day.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Negotiator

Potty Training Boot Camp Status Report: We have met the enemy and we are his.

Subject is intractable and indefatigable and slowly wearing down our resolve.

The “Number One” part of the reindoctrination process is going swimmingly, but only at home. He’s happy to come running up to report to either of us that he has to pee, and endure the mild indignities that follow as he is highly-praised and amply rewarded for such efforts afterwards.

At daycare, however, he either holds it all in till naptime (when he is changed into a diaper) or has a series of “accidents” till the staff puts him back in his diaper and he can pee as god intended, wherever and whenever he damn well pleases.

The “Number Two” part is not proceeding even that guardedly encouragingly. There’s still only two places he sees fit to drop a deuce, and neither one of them is in his training potty. From his howls of protest, you’d think he was undergoing an interrogation in a black-ops CIA dungeon in Yemen, or at least a good old-fashioned Yale hazing prank gone horribly wrong.

One example: Today, after his nap, he was still in his diaper and stinking up my office something fierce while we watched “Superman” per his request. He was skulking around in slow motion circles, keeping an eye on me, wary that I might be considering whisking him off to the training potty, when all I wanted to do was open the office door he had just closed – gag!

I go, “Are you farting or making poo?”

“I’m just farting,” he lies to me.

“Okay, well then open the door. Your farts smell awful!”

“No, I’m just farting,” he repeated, emphasizing the untrue part for my dull-witted benefit.

I got up to go open the door. “Look, we gotta get some air in here…”

“Nooo!” he cried. As a parent, I ignored his plea and flung the door wide.

“Look,” I said, “I need some fresh air…”

“Nooo!” He ran out of the office and pulled the door shut behind him. When it was almost all the way shut, he pushed it back open a crack and looked up at me, dead serious. He furrowed his little brow and said, “You stay here and watch “Superman” and I’m going to go make poo in the front room, okay?”

His articulation of this New Plan was positively military in its brevity and efficiency of language. And as long as it meant he was taking his accompanying stench to another part of the house, he’d get no argument from me. Not that it would have mattered anyhow.

Three-year-olds are born negotiators.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Looking back: My first-ever YouTube upload

Zach Malner: Bordeaux
Recorded September, 2001

This powerful performance clip deserves more hits, damn it. Shot in my empty apartment the day before I left Southern California for Christmas Island, it features some pretty stunning camerawork on my part, and a terrific, intimate performance of an original composition by one of Southern California’s most eclectic singer-songwriters, Zach Malner.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Blog entry: rambling omnibus edition

I’ll admit to experiencing an ongoing editorial imperative to fill this space from time to time…, but as often as not I find myself having to live my life as opposed to chronicling same. Then when my life has been lived, I look back on it for noteworthy events and often find nothing important enough to sit down and write a full report on.

This is one of those times. But the editorial urge drives me…

ITEM! Friend of this blog John In Boston is bound to be hurting today. The guitarist from one of his favorite bands, The Stooges, was “found dead” today. Sounds like a Monty Python skit, doesn’t it? “Found Dead?”
Graham Chapman in drag: ’ave you see Mr. Ashton today?
Eric Idle in drag: Yesss…
Graham Chapman: ’ow’d you find ’im?
Eric Idle: Ooh, a bit dead, ’e was…
[gales of canned laughter]

Sorry John. It’s a bitch when our heroes die. I’ll give those Stooges discs another spin in the morning.

ITEM! I’ve been depressed over the death of John Travolta’s teenage son. As a dad, I just can’t wrap my head around that kind of loss. My heart goes out to the kid’s parents. And it keeps being in the headlines so I can’t turn the fucking page on it. Let it go, MSM. Let these pretty, famous people suffer their inconsolable loss in what peace tragedy affords.

ITEM! Our “allies” in Israel are now targeting schools, killing scores of little kids.

And still not a peep of dissent from Team Bush. Would the Israelies have to light up a Texas Longhorns home game to draw these assholes’ ire?! I’m not even taking sides because I’ve come to the conclusion that living in that kind of heat so much of every year for so many years just bakes peoples’ brains and makes them fucking crazy. I say a pox upon all their houses! But our government can’t even get up the balls to say that.

You know what I do recall Bush saying, repeatedly, while selling the Iraq War? “Democracies,” he would explain slowly, as if speaking to a roomful of congenital morons, “Don’t make war on one another.” Then he’d tilt his empty head and smile that familiar, uniquely condescending smile that said What the fuck is wrong with you idiots?

Well that’s another pronouncement to file under “Whoops, got that one wrong too,” isn’t it? Another beaut for the Legacy Box.

ITEM! We’re belatedly doing Potty Training Boot Camp. Even after Christmas Vacation (not as bad as I had worked myself up to expect, thank you), The Missus and The Boy both had a week left off from school and we decided to use that time to its full advantage.

Without having anything to compare it to, I guess it seems to be going pretty well. The day will come that he may read this and not appreciate me revealing too many details here, but suffice it to say, I am reasonably pleased. Although he still has to be coaxed frequently; doesn’t yet understand that poo, also, is supposed to go in the potty, not his underpants; and at day care just holds it in all day till they diaper him for his nap, then lets it all go so they’re left with a sopping smelly mess when it’s time for him to wake up and get back into his big-boy underpants.

Anyhow, it’s kept us hopping. Another reason for my recent bloggeral inactivity.

ITEM! If you haven’t seen “The Room,” you must (you really must). Read the Entertainment Weekly story this item links to and see if you don’t succumb to its siren call… we did, and haven’t stopped giggling since. It’s $10 on amazon for crying out loud

ITEM! The following has really been sticking in my craw, especially with all the attention Mickey Rourke has brought himself lately with his celebrated turn in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler.”

We need “Barfly” available on DVD! Rourke’s performance as a street bum with aspirations of aristocracy is one I’ve not seen the like of before or since. “Barfly” is one of the few laser discs I still own because it’s yet to be released on DVD. Come on, Hollywood!

And “China Beach,” too. What’s up with that? The feminist in me is angry and wants a cigarette.

And “Batman” with Adam West? Where the fuck is the Caped Crusader from my childhood??

And the season of NYPD Blue where Jimmy Smits’ character dies. Season 6 I think? They stopped producing season sets after season 4 and that show peaked with season 6 and Det. Siffuentes’ going home to glory. The first couple of seasons were given the deluxe big-box packaging that spelled “prestige” in the early days of the format; by season four it’s out only in the frills-free “slim set” package that, truth be told, is smarter packaging than the sets that run three times thicker.

How about “Longstreet,” the blind P.I. played by James Franciscus that ran about the same period as “Mannix” and “Ironside,” both out on DVD?

And the “Green Hornet?” Bruce fucking Lee as Kato? That shit would fly off the shelves!

And speaking of which, what’s with bilking consumers by splitting season sets in two – volume 1 and volume 2? It’s pure rip-off, as the compact, concise season one set of “Mannix” proves. Six discs, compact packaging... it’s not rocket science.

“Streets of San Francisco” and “Time Tunnel,” I’ve avoided buying both of you precisely for your participation in this crass marketing scheme.

The only one I understand still being MIA is “China Beach.” Its soundtrack was rich with the music of the period and sorting out music rights is infamous for its capacity to keep quality entertainment out of the hands of the home video market. It’s why there’s only one measly season of “WKRP” available, and why “Larry Sanders” had to cherry-pick episodes for a “best-of” set instead of releasing the seasons in their entirety. (They did release season one, however. It’s out of print, but not before I got my copy!)

You know what movie I’d love to see feted with a major anniversary release? “Ishtar!” Long regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, by people who’ve never seen it, it’s always been a personal favorite of mine. Let’s do it now while Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman and Elaine May are still around to do commentary tracks. This DVD would be worth its weight in gold! And I for one would snap up the soundtrack CD in a hot minute.

Come on, Hollywood. The DVD format is on its last legs. Now is the time to clear out your vaults, at fire sale prices if necessary, so everybody’s bought everything at least once before they feel compelled to re-purchase them again in the next new higher-resolution format.

ITEM! We’re having a little get-together here on Christmas Island to celebrate the inauguration on the 20th. If you’re in the neighborhood, we hope you’ll paddle on over. God almighty, still 20 days to go...

Here’s hoping for happier things to report this year than last.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

From Obi to any malcontent out there who has their eye on any of our cool new Christmas toys.