Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Power for passion's sake.

I sold a car yesterday, at long last. It was a car I had acquired late last year, and over the course of my ownership it had caused me nothing but grief. It didn't run at all, because there was some sort of electrical leak issue that had clearly drained the battery permanently. When it did run, the engine was strong, but it had the sort of inescapable uneasiness that seems to radiate from a car that's about to fall apart at sixty miles per hour. So, I managed to sell it yesterday. My price? $150. Sadly, my mother was the registered owner, and upon learning that it wasn't running, she went to the DMV to register it non-operational (which makes the sale more attractive because it negates registration and insurance necessities). 

Unfortunately, be it through her own mistake or (more likely) a miscommunication by the DMV worker, she registered it as "junked" instead, which is a completely different set of rules that make it very unattractive to a buyer. Hence, the car that cost $1300 which I thought I could get $500 for a week ago sold for $150 early yesterday morning. As I watched the new owner tow it away, I felt my heart swell. One more thing that was in my way, outta my way.

I have an assortment of casual plans for the day ahead. I'm going to be getting together for lunch with a friend from high school in Berkeley (a lunch possibly of our own creation), followed by hopefully some hardcore writing time. I'm becoming increasingly stagnant in my efforts to write, simply because I invariably end up loathing whatever I write before I can get even a third of the way into it, and unless you're at least that far into an idea, it becomes too easy to say "fuck it" and kick your start into the trash.

I'm curious as to how I might go about increasing my web presence. Maybe I should get involved in some of this viral marketing. I'd set up a bunch of satellite pages that vaguely allude to something big, paranormal, or conspiratorial happening around the world, and I'll get people to devote a bunch of time to cracking my code to understand my message, but then my message would just be, "gotcha!"

I'm downloading a torrent full of music by Beirut. It's been downloading for days. One of those slow ones.

I've recently adopted a vegan lifestyle (although I guess really just a vegan diet, I don't know if there's a distinction... my wallet is made of leather, so there you go), and thus far it hasn't been all that difficult. I've leaned heavily on the few things I know how to cook, but by and large, the transition has been more seamless than I had anticipated. I find that I have more physical stamina when I work out, as well, although that could also be because I've been spending all my time hanging out near radioactivity hazards to try and superhero myself.

I think I have to lay off the politics for a little bit. My verve for political news comes and goes with dramatic flash every few years, and this election obviously feels like the one where if it isn't interesting or pertinent enough to grab you, you probably aren't going to feel that draw for any election (until, of course, I become mayor of Corte Madera in 2042). In any event, the massive amount of articles and information I've consumed regarding Obama and McCain has begun to temper and diminish my goodwill towards the world at large. All due respect to any of my Republican readers, but the world in which somebody enthusiastically votes for John McCain is a world that will probably always leave a trace of sorrow or disdain in me. I'm not as fanatical in my admiration for the Obama machine as perhaps some might be, but I come away with nothing but interest, respect, and clarity when I hear the man speak, in stark contrast to the Big Mac Attack.

My problems with McCain are frankly too numerous and at points too nuanced to disclose in full, but I suppose on a basic level I would feel abysmally unsafe in McCain's America. I have no faith in his abilities as an orator or a communicator, and thus by extension his abilities as a diplomat, a trait that is sorely needed in the post-Bush world. It seems to be that there are a group of media personalities (most of which are on channel 59 where I live) who seem downright annoyed at the idea of foreign countries warming to an Obama presidency. Obama is cheered in Berlin? Fuck that! We're Americans- they're just germans- they don't live in the "greatest best country that god ever gave man on the face of the earth," we do. Our country is so great that we can eat bratwurst without having to leave, a fact McCain is clearly desperate to illustrate firsthand.

On the topic of temper... let it be known that I don't think being an edgy guy means you'll necessarily be a bad president. If John McCain calls his wife a cunt and that's fine by her, well, I guess it's fine by me then. But the problem is that when McCain has let flash any anger, irritation or bite during his campaign, it seems to be when he's at his most shaky with facts. My friend Seth Millstein's blog (McCain Screws The Pooch, check the links section) documents an impressive selection of the man's missteps, but the alarming thing is the confidence with which he seems to spit fire at people who raise very pertinent policy questions to him. His recent appearance on ABC's This Week, while notable for his blatant unwillingness to state his views on gay adoption, is in my view most damning in what McCain says when the question is first posed to him: "That's not why I'm running for president."

That is not an answer. It is, in fact, a travesty. I understand that McCain likely views himself as the last man standing in support of a war he deems important. While I personally think his Iraq policy is wrong-headed, dangerous, deliberately vague, disingenuous, and likely the result of reactionary emotion, I can't in good conscience think that he doesn't believe his plan is the best strategy for the country. But the fact that the war is his first priority as a politician does not absolve him from having a duty to tend to domestic issues as well. The notion that he feels a president can pick and choose what issues he should have to answer on and that a simple "I certainly don't want to talk about that" is satisfactory explanation otherwise is worse than a difference of opinion; it's a fundamental misunderstanding of what a president ought to be.

Anyways, the point I was making before those last few paragraphs was that this political stuff is stressing me out, and I need to think about it less. Good first step, huh?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Live from the crime scene.

I had the good fortune to attend the Lisa Klein wedding earlier today. It was an extremely heartening occasion, especially because it was a genuinely beautiful ceremony. I used to film and edit weddings for the Thomas Hughes Video Productions company, and my experiences at such taught me some small lessons regarding the martial scene. The biggest disappointment was witnessing the glut of hugely grandiose,  masturbatory weddings. Now, some people will argue that there's no such thing as a masturbatory wedding; that the years of anticipation in waiting for one's true love merit whatever pomp and circumstance that the two lovers or their planners can dream up. I respectfully disagree. I believe that there's a line between beauty and tackiness in every situation, even if people are really excited an are dropping 100K to rent out an entire Sheraton.

Thankfully, yesterday's affair was wonderful. The ceremony and vows were laced with poems and songs, and the whole thing was orchestrated in a beautiful backyard grove. I later somehow got roped into hoisting the groom up in the air in a chair, as these Jewish folks are known to do. 

I got a new MacBook yesterday as well, which is pretty slick; I was dying to have a place to keep all my files consolidated, and now I have just that. I can also sart working on ome recording I've been meaning t do.

Also, I'm a vegan now. So I'm gonna whip up a salad and some asian seasoned seitan and rice later. Delicious...? Depends on how I do.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I fell asleep on the couch in my living room last night. I was so tired at the time as to be useless to everyone. I was incoherently, incomprehensibly tired, and yet a mere five hours later I found myself wide awake.

It's partially a sleep scheduling issue. The past two weeks I've basically been up all night and asleep for most of the day. It was sparked in large part by my recent vigor in working on a screenplay, for which I was willing to throw caution to the wind to get a head start on. It would now seem in my botched effort to switch my sleeping back to its proper state, I've managed to get in the habit of waking up at between five and six in the morning. This isn't terribly useful, because as much as I hate to admit it, I always end up wasting the nice mornings. I wish I were the kind of person who woke up early and made the most of being awake on the cusp of the new day.

The new Batman movie came out on Friday, and I saw it on the IMAX screen at the San Francisco Metreon. It struck me as easily the best Batman movie, but at the same time, I think it wasn't as affecting for me as it seems to have been for the public at large. Let the record clearly state: Bat-Sonar is dumb.

I think a big issue I have with the past two Batman films has been that I don't really enjoy Christian Bale's performance. Roger Ebert, when reviewing the movie Jumper, said that Hayden Christensen exuded "a physical and moral weakness." Similarly, I always get a vibe of insincerity off of Christian Bale, which works great for "American Psycho," but not so well for Batman. Consequently, I ended up enjoying everything in the movie less when Batman was around. The scenes of the Joker intimidating the mob bosses were far more enjoyable to me than the scenes of him scuffling with the titular hero. The action sequences revolving around Batman's hand-to-hand combat sort of bored me. All told, it's a very good movie, and maybe the best movie I've seen originated from a comic book, but I can't fully embrace it the way I'd like to.

I'm gonna try to work on this screenplay. Here's a sample of some dialogue:

You should get e new breakfast special down at
Dooney's! They give you two eggs, bacon, sausage,
and a cake waffle for $3.50!

Cake waffle?

Yeah! It's like the Cookie Crisp concept, but with cake,
and in waffle form.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The master of disaster.

I've begun to rekindle my aggressive and definitively unpleasant brand of physical fitness. It's been almost a year and a half since I stopped working at 24 Hour Fitness, at that point being at my most svelte, but since then I was sort of coasting, and it's caught up to me. I've gotten a little soft around the edges, so I'm getting back into that boot camp mentality. Not the mentality of working like I'm in a boot camp (cause I hardly think going to the gym constitutes that), just the mentality of knowing when I wake up that I have to do something that day that will feel unpleasant.

I've never understood, you see, the people who insist that they love the feeling of working out. I cannot conceive it. While I have begun taking regular yoga classes in recent weeks, and have absolutely fallen for it, I find the sensation and relationship between the psychological and physical realms of myself the most alluring thing about it, not the fact that I'm sweating in a dim room with a bunch of menopausal women (at least two of whom have been very nice to me and chatted with me about how they wish more men like me would take up yoga - thanks!).

The down and dirty exercise, though, which for me consists of lifting, pulling, or pushing weight, followed by no less than a half hour of cardiovascular frolicking, is maybe the worst thing on earth. I have trouble precisely remembering how I managed to do it six days a week those couple of years ago. I think I was less confident then, and wanted to have an easier time charming women, so the desire to shed the seventy or so extra pounds was a little more primal. I'm going back to it now for health, which is important, as well as because I want to be looking lean when I head to LA for acting next year, but in all honesty, there are times when life and career don't seem quite as motivating as sexual desire does.

I think my weight loss and subsequent increase in confidence put me in an odd place, though, because my newfound confidence that I could entice a woman by appearance hadn't synced up with my intellectual side. I used to lean very heavily on the brain in such matters in lieu of the body, and not unlike a muscle, the mental impulses weren't really ready to let go. Consequently, I found myself very relaxed and able to charm women I would meet in that sort of casual, flighty way, but they'd seem to invariably retreat when exposed to the truer parts of my personality. I think the contrast between my laid-back approach and the passion of my personality was too great.

That idea was actually sugested to me, albeit phrased slightly differently, by my friend/at that time director Carla in the midst of our first check-in before rehearsals started. She speculated that I was likely the kind of person who would think my way out of kissing a woman regardless of how well the moment suited it, and she told me that my homework for the show was to go for it the next time I was in a romantic spot. There was also a basketball analogy in there about me being too much like Jason Kapono and not enough like Baron Davis, although I'd probably rather be a Canadian than a Clipper.

Unfortunately, that homework assignment never got finished. Despite the fact that between that suggestion and now I've seemed to have had good things going on with three- count 'em, three!- lovely ladies, one died the death of non-communication, one never got off the ground, and one jumped the shark when my lady friend expertly dodged my kiss attempt and turned it into a goodbye hug.

Following that last one, I was concerned to find that I wasn't that upset. I had devoted a couple months at that point to this particular girl, and while I don't really have that head-over-heels for almost anybody, I thought I'd at least be upset by loss of time. It was at that point that I realized that I think I've been undergoing a shift in my personality recently. My general goodnaturedness has turned to general disinterest. The people I know who I love I still love, but the people who I'm ambivalent towards I've found myself becoming shorter with, and the people I used to secretly disdain I now openly do. I've begun to have trouble sleeping, and some nights I wake up with the sort of upright jolt that you'd see in a cliche 80s horror flick, only having a foggy image of the last instant of my dream that caused me to shoot up in my bed. I feel absurdly aged, sometimes prone to muscular weakness and physical exhaustion when I've done nothing exaustive. My attitudes towards women have become increasingly and flatly sexual, and in particular when I'm wearing my reflective sunglasses that render my eyes invisible, I catch myself staring at women's breasts and hips with a frequency and carelessness that I would've been preturbed to observe in somebody else this time last year.

I had a self-reflective revelation a couple days ago, while I was waiting with friends at the Sol Food restaurant on 4th Street. I was wearing the aforementioned sunglasses, as well as faded green cargo pants and a heavy, black leather motorcycle jacket. I had a toothpick hanging from my lips, and I was spending my time watching an unfathomably sexy waitress saunter from inside to outside, bussing people's plates. The last time she passed by me, it struck me; I was sitting there dressed like an extra from Rebel Without A Cause on a Sunday afternoon, spending my time drooling over some woman I'd never met, and my fingernails were dirty. I decide to spend a few minutes staring at a woman's ass, and I didn't even have the decency to wash my hands first.

I'm curious about all this sort of stuff (the joking nature of that last paragraph aside) because I'm worried I'm becoming the kind of person I'll wake up one day and be unable to respect. When I was a kid I wondered if there was something that happened when you became an adult that allowed you to be capable of greater greed, deception and sleaze than you could when young. I hope this isn't it.

Maybe I should just go to the gym.