Thursday, October 29, 2009

Project Valor IT

So what's the new widget in the upper right of the page? For the last few years, the military services have competed in a fundraiser called Project Valor IT. The money raised buys voice-activated laptops for wounded veterans. Not surprisingly, I'm on the Marine Team. Donate if you can and help out the vets. It's a way to say 'thanks' for their sacrifice - the highest form of patriotism.

Running, Walking and the Astounding Bob Petrella

Friend Emil continues to run like a man afire, having completed more marathons in four months than I did in four years. This Sunday he'll be dashing off from Staten Island with 40K other runners in the New York City Marathon. I'm sure he'll overcome sundry running dings to finish strong.

I now walk a mile 3x a week, on an all-weather track or grass. So far no pain. I do more warming up and stretching out than actually movement. It's like a barbecue where you have a plate with Cold Slaw, chips, and a hamburger bun covered in ketsup, but no meat. Not for awhile.

From Nightline to a soon-to-be-filmed 60 Minutes, Bob Petrella's amazing memory continues to attract media interest. I'm off to see Bob for lunch today to learn more about my past.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Here's how they went:

I'm in an apartment, holding a high-tech nuclear bomb the size of a coffee thermos. I activate the bomb, set a timer, but then forget about it. Later, I pick up the bomb and wonder whether it even turned on. Then I hear a low-pitched hum. The bomb is indeed armed and an LED suddenly flashes to let me know I have a little over a minute until detonation. In a mad scramble, I look around for the directions that came with the bomb, hoping to stop the countdown. But I've thrown them out. In a panic, I consider running, but know I can't outrace the fireball. Then I feel ashamed, because my negligence has cost my neighbors, and most of Los Angeles, their lives. Leaving the bomb on a sofa, I walk into another room and wonder about the afterlife. I never hear the explosion, but there is a brilliant flash and what-seems-like filmy strips of brown material tearing and peeling away on either side of my eyes, revealing darkness surrounded by a corona of white light. I sense movement forward, toward judgement and rapidly consider my life, feeling inadequate as if I hadn't done enough good things and had wasted a great deal of time.

Suddenly, I'm inside a large mansion or office in England. I work here. I don't really fit in. Even though everyone speaks English, there are vague cultural differences that separate us. The place is bustling, people moving quickly here and there. I'm not really sure what my job is supposed to be, so I compensate by moving rapidly through hallways and open spaces converted into work spaces, nodding to those I pass, lost but striding confidently as if sure of my destination - a trick I picked up working for the government over the years.

Then I awoke. My wife stuck her head in the bedroom and said she was leaving for work and could I pick up the dry cleaning?

I think the message is clear: Don't blow up a major city or you'll die and go to work in England and be snubbed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sights and Sounds of Hollywood

With an armful of old eyeglasses, I visited my optometrist. He straightened out nose pads and arms before we settled on a new pair for close-up reading. Technically, this doctor is not my old optometrist, but a mentee who took over when my old guy retired - now filling his days with tennis and working in stained glass. However the office remains on Sunset in Hollywood, close to where I lived for many years. Hollywood was a dangerous dump when I moved there in 1979. I don't care how many multiplexes, Olympic clean-ups, hot night clubs, or tourist shops the place gets - it's still seedy. It seems metal fences and razor wire have multiplied over the years. There are streets so dystopian, they look like images from a first-person shooter video game. And it continues to attract the different.

As I was driving north toward Franklin, I stopped at a light. A young girl, early twenties, headed toward the crosswalk, all unisexed up in a man's dress shirt and tie, ball cap on sideways, tight jeans. Stepping off the curb, she passed a middle-aged Mexican guy with a shaved head, digging through a garbage bin and plucking out aluminum cans.

"You're recycling, recycling, recycling, that's so cool," she called. "I love you."

The Mexican guy lifted his head out of the garbage and called, "Yeah? Then kiss me."

But Unisex flounced across the street, head full of love, environmental purity, and cluelessness.

Ah, Hollywood: where the show never ends. Almost enough to make me nostalgic. Almost.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bone's Back

A few years ago, Larry Blamire and friends decided to actually make a bad '50s sci-fi film from scratch - kinda like a tribute movie. The result was The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera.

h/t: vasova

And now, at long last:

h/t: loladog11

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cancer Claims Dale Woodson

Dale passed away two days ago. For almost three years I've chronicled his fight with cancer: here, here, here, and here. Seeing him every week, I watched the light in his eyes gradually diminish until finally, last Sunday, he was alive but no longer fully present. His struggle ended, but his family's burden remains as they wrestle with grief and the mundane tasks of dismantling a life's residue. Keep them in your prayers.

These last two weeks have been pretty sad.

But not as sad as the fear of Chuck Woolery.

Or the fate of a hapless burglar:

Little Boy Heroically Shoots, Mutilates Burglar

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just Like Family

Attended the service for Ashley's brother, Jamen. Sat near TNTers Van, Virginia and Kiley. TNT truly is like family: I only see them at weddings and funerals.

Walked one mile this morning around an all-weather track at a local high school. My friend Bernardette lives nearby and runs her morning workout there. So she joined me as we side-stepped the marching band, rehearsing under the directorship of a peevish man with a bullhorn. From what I could understand, they were given blue dots to mark their places. ("Everyone get on their dots. Aaron, I said get on your dot. Now. Run. Okay. I can be a lot harder, if that's what you want.")

I may pick up a few bucks writing for a website under a nom de plume - French for phony name. I'll know more today. I seem to be repeating my past: before animation, I was associate editor on a magazine and wrote many little articles. Maybe next month, I'll be a freshman in college.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vid Shows Man vs Wild Fake

A sham survival show!


Glad to be around, glad to be here, glad all over, glad trash bags with drawstring tops, glad.

Free form good feelings for no particular reason.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fallen Eagle

I didn't know Jamen. He was a young guy, former soccer player at Boston College and the brother of Team in Training teammate Ashley. Jamen died from lymphoma this Wednesday after a two-year battle. If it was possible for a sister to save a brother through sheer energy and devotion, than Jamen would still be around. After Ashley learned Jamen had lymphoma, she signed up to run the San Diego Marathon. Ashley raised enough money to finish third nationally, topping thousands of other fundraisers. (And ran a pretty good first marathon.) She returned for a second TNT season as a mentor. Jamen's initial treatment was successful and the disease went into remission, but it doubled back and finally got him. A great loss for the family. If nothing else, send along your best wishes and prayers.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to cancer research.

Big Old Finish

Finished the first draft of my no-longer-short story - it is now almost 60 pages of horror-suspense novella, over 12k words. (Pay by the word, do they?)

Had lunch with Dutch yesterday. His TV camera work has been slowing down to nothing, similar to my animation writing. (Which I now consider a hobby.) We're like leaves drifting to the bottom of the forest, en route to becoming mulch.

But we're both writing along with no one telling us what to put down or how. If not financially satisfying, it's liberating.

Beautiful fall day today. Blue skies, bit of haze, great diffused lighting. "Eatable light," I say. It's that good.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Soul Long

My good friend Eileen passed away on Monday. I visited last week, but she was fast asleep, body winding down. I believe this was a blessing.

Tiny Men Arise!

One has come from Nepal to claim the title of World's Smallest Man. Who will stand up to him?

h/t: Daley Gator

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oscar the Likable Ogre

Good friend Dutch has a story up at Ex Cathedra: The Second Doctrine about a small town's acceptance of an ogre who only eats unlikeable children. (Starts on p.61.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

So Long, Physical Therapy

This was my last day at therapy. Since July, I'd gotten to know the assistants: two of the girls enjoyed Vegas, the office gal was a former dancer, while the main therapist was a triathlete who competed regularly. He said my future lies in weight loss and reverse lunges. (Building up quads and glutes for future running.) Starting next week, I'll walk a mile 3x a week, going by feel. Perhaps in January, I'll venture running a mile or so.

Meanwhile, one of my short stories passed the first hurdle for a humor magazine. They're debating whether to include it in their upcoming December issue. That would be one down and nine to go on my sell-10-short stories-in-six-months plan. More info t/k when they say 'yes.'

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fast Mad Men

Here's a popular cable series for those short on time.

h/t: Landline TV

Chicago Marathon 2009

In 2007, the temperature was sultry. This year's Chicago Marathon saw the thermometer dip below 36 degrees with a stiff wind. Nevertheless, Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru set the course record at 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 41 seconds. Nothing slows these guys down. A fast Russian chick won the women's marathon, with American Deena Kastor, back from a broken foot, finishing sixth.

I hope they all had fine Italian beef sandwiches and deep dish pizza.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Go Rogers Park

My Rogers Park chums of forty-plus years are having a reunion today, celebrating everyone who is still around. Life no longer seems like a sure thing and I wish them the best.

Meanwhile, today at breakfast the waiter offered me a meal reserved only for seniors. I accepted, even though I'm a few years shy of the cut-off. As a teenager, I lied about my age to buy beer. Now I'm tacitly lying to get a cheaper breakfast. Maybe I should stop lying about my age? Alas, these cunning restaurants lay out senior menus that are nothing less than moral hazards. Born to be wild!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Double Down

Rewrite has expanded the story size. Once it was 25 pages, now it's 50, a shade over 10K words. But all is well as I try to finish by Sunday.

I'm getting carried away by this "pay-by-the-word" thing. Maybe it should be by the pound.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What I Learned at the Dentist Office

1. My dentist knows all the songs on his office muzak and hums along.
2. His assistant just moved and doesn't have enough space to give the two boys their own rooms.
3. Female office staff refer to the building's basement as the "dungeon."
4. There is a leaking water pipe in the dungeon that is effecting phone service. Only a single line is operative.
5. The woman who handles billing loves animals and recently went to Las Vegas in order to see white tigers, lions, and a bird sanctuary that features rare species and video poker. (Just kidding about the rare species.)
6. The son of my dental hygienist has been offered a management position at Dreamworks Animation. (I asked her to guilt trip him into giving me work. Mom's are good at stuff like that.)
7. I'm really glad the government isn't in charge of my dental work.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Big Darn Rewrite

A new market opened, looking for material. I had a short-story that would be great, but it needed rewriting. Actually, not so much rewriting as additional stuff. So far, I've added 2,000 words of additional stuff turning a short story into a novelette. (Since this market pays by the word, that can't be all bad.) I'll probably spend next week polishing, then out it goes. Then another, then another. Writing, incidentally, is a great way to gain weight, giving new meaning to the phrase "pounding the keys."