Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Try as I may to complete this new script, I have been lacking in motivation to get it done. I'm close, but there is this invisible barrier that stops keeps me away. I even tried growing the writing beard. It went on for over two weeks. Thing is, I was actually starting to like having the beard, so using the hair on my face as a motivational tool didn't work this time. Thing is, I keep thinking about January and starting my new project. For the first time in a while, I am excited to really write and see where it leads me. I know I have to complete the script, if only out of obligation to the characters I've created. They deserve to have he ending I have in store for them. Still, if I'm not done by January, that script may get placed on the backburner.
I can't let that happen. I'm so close.
I have spent the past month enjoying writing reviews of DVD's for Popdose. And I've begun reading the essays of David Foster Wallace and David Samuels. So far, I am having an easier time with Samuels. Although I really like the late Foster Wallace's writing, it takes quite an effort to get through just two or three pages. The guy loved footnotes.
We saw "Wicked" last night and it was, for lack of a better word, wonderful. I have known the music for over a year, but now I know the context of the songs and can picture the play in my head. Even if it did not have the spectacular effects, the story of friendship, acceptance and empowerment is so good, the play would succeed anyway. For the first act, I sat next to Jacob. He was wide eyed and enthralled for the duration. It really was special to be experiencing the play with him for the first time. It's hard to describe how thrilling it is when two singers sing harmony perfectly and every musical is in sync. At those moments I get chills and tears. That is what music does to me. "West Side Story," "Sweeney Todd," "Les Miz," and now "Wicked" have all had the profound effect on me. And I swear I saw Jacob overcome with the same feelings during the show. For the second act, I switched seats and sat next to Sophie. This experience for her was like a Springsteen concert for me, and that made the evening all that more meaningful. I am so glad the kids are loving music. It's in their blood, yes, but I can see the way music swells in their souls, too, and I get choked up thinking about it.
We leave on Wednesday and I'm looking to the time away from California. We may freeze our asses off, but at least we'll have a brief respite from the stresses of our daily lives.
Monday, December 08, 2008
The beard is growing back as I make a concerted effort to finish this script I've been working on for several months. I though that with the completion of the marathon I would be able to dive right back into this dark script with no trouble. The decompression from not feeling pressure to run every day has taken a little longer to get over than I anticipated. I forget that the constant running and fund raising gave me a purpose.
Steve begs me not to continue running, something about not being able to walk when I'm in my 60's. Still, I'm already thinking about the possibility of doing another half marathon next year. He's going to kill me, God bless him.
The other reason it's been so difficult getting back into this new script is that my heart isn't always in it. I've given myself a deadline of the end of the year to complete it, which really means before the 24th (because we'll be travelling back east for the holidays). I am dedicated to starting my book in the new year. I even started a short story just to see if I could complete some kind of prose that didn't involve basements or movie reviews. Not only did I complete a first draft, but I've kind of become obsessed with the rewrite. This is a first for me. Any story I've ever written was always a first draft and left in a folder or a drawer somewhere. That I'm actually excited to revise the first draft (and willing to change the context of the story) is a good sign. The year of writing Basement Song entries has paid off.
If I had just been writing the Basement Songs for thunderbolt, I never would have gone back and edited them. Instead they would have been the kind of stream of consciousness ramblings my daily entries (daily, ha!) have become famous for (famous, ha!). Looks like the fear of being labeled a hack by thousands of Popdose readers has brought me full circle to the lessons I was taught by Denman and some of my other English teachers. The trick now is to bring the voice I've developed in the basement and apply it to whatever I write. It may take some rejections, but I'm willing to give it a go.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up
And go racin' in the street"
I've always interpreted that lyric as a tribute to those men and women who follow their dreams. They have to maintain a day job to pay the bills and provide for their families, but at night they go home and work on their dreams, whether it's building cars and racing them or writing that novel or screenplay they've had stored up inside them for years. The guys that are dyin' are the ones who give up on their dreams, letting life beat them down until all they do is work and come home.
As far as my dream goes, I feel like I've been dyin' a little lately. Life is just so damn complicated sometimes. I have to remind myself that even thought I haven't finished a script this year, I've actually written forty something essays about my life and put them out there for people to pick apart. On top of that, I've attempted being a critic for the first time in my life.
Still, I can feel time sliding through my grasp like that slime you buy your kids for birthday parties.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Man, it was HOT. I drank through my first bottle of water before I hit 6 miles. Luckily, Julie and the kids met me at 6 miles, and later at 10 miles to refill my water bottle and bring me much needed lip balm. The Santa Ana winds were blowing up dust and beating the crap out of my face. This turned out to be one tough run. However, it was worth it. Julie, the kids, and our neighbors, the Wills, all greeted me with a streamer tape to cross at the end of my 13.1 miles.
Now, I am sore, and I am suffering a bit of a letdown. You spend all of this time preparing and raising money (well, we never stop raising money) and suddenly, you feel like it's just OVER. Although I feel a huge weight off of my chest (for the first time since March, I can sleep in during the week and not feel a little guilty about missing a run), there is a touch of sadness, too.
I will have picture tomorrow.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I have mapped out a route in Santa Clarita that will give me 13.1 miles.
The first ever Malchus Cystic Fibrosis Half Marathon is on. The time now is 8:32 AM. The race begins in 30 minutes.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Should we not be able to run n Pasadena tomorrow, I've mapped out 13.1 miles up here and I will run it instead. I have trained and tomorrow I am running for CF.
I am running for my family.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I feel your pain. The "negotiations" between management and Manny Ramierez's agent have come to an impasse. The Dodgers offered too little and Manny is about to walk. I feel you pain because I have been there. I have seen Manny talk kindly to the fans and assure them that he wants to be in Cleveland, only to bolt the minute someone offers him more money. I don't entirely blame him, the guy is a Hall of Fame slugger who has hitting instinct that we have not seen in generations. Despite what the Dodgers and other teams feel, I assure you that Manny will be playing ball for more than the 5 years he is asking for.
All of the blame can't be placed on Manny or his agent, Scott Boras. The Dodgers have done their part in this charade. They offered Manny a contract they knew he would turn down. Sound familiar Clevelanders? It still amazes me that a team of the staure of the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the largest markets in the country, could not find a way to make this work.
Fear not, Angelenos, we hear rumblings that Arte Moreno, an owner who puts his pocketbook where his mouth is, may place an offer on the table for Manny. With Garrett Anderson gone, there's an opening for a big bat in the Angels' outfield. Can you imagine Manny and Vlade in the same lineup? It'll be Boston all over again.
Dodger fan, I just wanted you to know that you're not alone. We of the Clubs Who Feed Us a Crock of Shit Just to Try and Save Face Support Group are there for you.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Today was much better.
Truth is, with Jake's birthday rapidly approaching and the race two days later, I been having some pretty heavy thoughts lately. Dark, terrible thoughts that crush my heart like and empty water bottle being compressed by a fist. On Monday, as we laid in bed trying to get to sleep, Jake was in the middle of our bed. He had this deep, horrendous cough that toook his breath away ad rattled his bones. Somehow he was able to get to sleep. I prayed hard that night. I clenched my hands together and pleased with GOd to watch over this little boy.
Damn it, it's not fair.
I should be in a joyous mood, ready to celebrate the life of my baby, and I can't escape the darkness perched just out of sight, in the back of my mind. Fuck you, asshole. That's what I want to say top the thoughts and and the anger.
Blessed. I'm blessed to have the arms of my kids to squeeze out the shit and make me feel better. I'm blessed to have people like Steve and Sara and Karyn and, thank God, Julie, my wonderful Julie, to keep my head above water. I felt like I was slipping a couple of times last week, but things are feeling better.
No, they are. I just needed to get that off of my chest.
You know when you have a deep cut and it's begun to heal? You know, it doesn't sting so much, just sort of itches, tugs at the skin? You know it's going to be better someday, but it still needs time.
Welcome to the new world, America!
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
I am in somewhat disbelief that election day is tomorrow. Julie just marveled at the fact that the Kerry/Edwards fiasco was four years ago. Where did those years go?
I've been pretty good about not following any of the polls and getting to caught up in the last minute happenings of this campaign race. Race. That's a funny word for the democratic process. Democracy isn't a competition. Democracy is not a game. This is serious business and the fact that so many get caught up in who is winning as opposed to who will lead our country with vision and confidence is worrisome.
I spoke with Steve yesterday afternoon and he's spent. He and his wife have been working for the Obama campaign in NC. His wife even shook Obama's hand (twice) at a ralley last Wednesday. Steve has expressed some concern that the polls are deceiving. I just don't believe it. If for some reason McCain ins this election, I fear that it will be a more polarizing administration than the one leaving office. Not just the fact that he has pissed off every single reporter in the land, but the fact that he has lost the respect of most of the nation both by the manner in which he chose to run his campaign, and the choice he made for running mate.
Some of you who read this blog may dis agree with me. Some of you may be thinking, why is Scott suddenly political. But if you've read thunderboplt long enough, you know how I think. One can't listen to the message in Springsteen's music and not feel a certain way about this country.
This leads to my final point tonight. Proposition 8 in California. Who's damn busniess is it whether a man and a man or two women want to get married? How does it harm you or me? It doesn't. Of churches don't want to marry gays and lesbians, that's their perogative. But to prevent them from going to the courthouse, from standing up in front of their family and friends and declaring their love, from preventing them from taking part in a community ritual, that is wrong. Plain and simple. It has nothing to do with schools. It has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to to with love and tolerance.
And if all of these people are so concerned about the "sanctity" of mariage, m,aybe thy should try to prevent to number of divorces that occur every year.
That's all for tonight.
Vote. Vote. I implore you to vote.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
And now I must stop.
No more Huffington Post, no more Andrew Sullivan, no more Slate Magazine until after Tuesday. The tension is too much for me. I know who I am voting for and I know who I think you should be voting for. The next four and a half days will be a barrage of ads and "gotchas" from both sides and frankly, I'm done.
I wish I could vote tomorrow.
Mind you, I would have gone to see the Thompson Twins/Corey Hart concert, but I didn't have the permission of the parental units. Perhaps she thought that because I couldn't stand up to my parents and demand that I be allowed to see the authors of pop classics like "Hold Me Now" and "Doctor! Doctor!" (not to mention that "Never Surrender" dude) I wasn't rebellious enough to be a Thompson Twins fan and therefore not good enough to be her boyfriend.
Ah, the foibles of youth.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Now, we go into the off season. The wait for baseball won't be as long, though. Major League Baseball will launch their new cable channel in January. THAT will be cool.
My whole life I’ve felt pretty blessed. I was raised by two strong, independently thinking, sometimes stubborn parents who protected me from the harms of the world they could control. A roof over my head, food in my belly, good schools and support in what I wanted to do with my life, they were there for me. They were not perfect, but I believe they did their best. Whatever grudges I held as a young adult have faded now; what’s the point in being bitter. From childhood to the day Julie and I loaded the U-Haul and drove to Los Angeles, they were my shelter, that’s for sure. To be blunt, I wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t decided to have a child number three 39 years ago.
While my mom and dad gave me my start, I wouldn’t be who I am now if it weren’t for one person: Julie. From the moment I first kissed her to this point in time, as we’re raising two children and facing many of the same struggles so many other people do, we continue to grow together, loving, laughing, sometimes fighting, sometimes hurting each other, but always standing side by side through the good and bad. She is my foundation; she is my shelter.
To read the rest of this post, go here.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
That said, I'd like to share song with y'all. Maybe you've heard it before. It's Frankie Goes to Hollywood covering Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run."
I believe the measure of a great/classic song is whether you can hand it over to the most unlikeliest of artists to cover it and see whether the song holds up. Such is the case with Frankie's cover of possible the one song Springsteen is most associated with. What impresses me so much about this version is that producer, Trevor Horn, chose to just let the band play and didn't add too much frill to the production. Indeed, the only time the song feels "produced" is during the bridge when some keyboards and electronic bongos were added to create the sort of Jersey shore atmosphere Springsteen originally wrote about. Otherwise, it's just guitar, bass and drums, along with Holly Johnson singing his guts out. Of course, one can't sing "Born to Run" without pouring everything into it. I recall one night of karaoke with my brother-in-laws when I chose to attempt "Born to Run." Mind you, a couple of drinks were involved, but still, I thought I could handle it. The minute that snare drum came in, I was so jacked up to sing the lyrics that I shredded my vocal chords. It was on that night that I realized how punk the music of Springsteen can be. Remove the saxophone, organ and piano. and Bruce is back to his garage band roots. That's what Frankie's version feels like to me, a punk interpretation of "Bron to Run."
Riding in on the train this morning, I was practically bawling my eyes out. That last verse still gets me, and Johnson sings it with real conviction. He believes every word he's singing, and therefore, you believe every word he's singing. Like I said, you can't sing "Born to Run" without pouring everything into it.
Together Wendy we'll live with the sadness
I'll love you with all the madness in my soul
Someday girl I don't know when
we're gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go
and we'll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
baby we were born to run
Man, how many of us are lucky enough to have a man or woman in our lives that we feel that way about. I am blessed that I have a woman named Julie who keeps me propped up when I teeter and rooted to the ground when I think I'm going to float away. But, we do that for each other.
Enjoy the song.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
God I love those kids and my wife.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Listening to that version and the couple other Springsteen acoustic songs I chose to open my run this morning put me in touch with why I'm out there in the first place. My legs don't hurt that bad and the shoes will last another month. So it's not about me, it's about Jake. The reason I'm pounding the asphalt twice a week and once on the weekend is to find a cure for my boy. Plain and simple.
Less than a month until the race.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Something happened between the last entry an this one. Someone told me that she thought that some of my entries were just me feeling sorry for myself. That kind of hit me hard and I took a lot of time to think about this statement.
To those of you who keep up with thinderbolt, I want you to know that I'm not seeking your pity when I write entries. My sole objective has always been to be honest about what's going on in our lives and the trials that my family and I go through. Good times or bad, I'm not looking for sympathy. I hope that you all know this. If not, I apologize for giving you the wrong impression.
Like I sad, it tok some time to sort through my feelings on that statement and I came to the conclusion that this person was wrong.
I like keeping this blig if for the sole reason to keep old friends and family in the loop.
That's all for now. More to come. I have a half marathon to run in a month and everyone wants to hear about that, right?
Friday, September 19, 2008
Yesterday I seemed to get some nice responses to the basement song entry on Popdose. I'm always concerned that whatever song I write about isn't going to appeal to the readers and that they're going to gleam over it. But when I simply put myself out there and just write about the songs that are important to me, something nice happens and the entries seem to be more effective.
The thought still flits around in my head to collect all of the entries and try to get them published. After all of these years I am still toying with the idea of having my own book. I guess since the movie writing thing is slow as molasses, I should look at other avenues to get people reading my stuff. Obviously, thunderbolt and Popdose are two avenues.
I am looking forward to the weekend, though I doubt I'll get to sleep in. That GDC drives me nuts every morning. "Meow, meow." Last night Julie commented that the cat was looking very skinny. I agree, most likely because she doesn't eat any of the food we put out for her. I would hate to think that she's sick and somehow suffereing, I don't despise the cat that much.
Actually, I don't despise it at all, except when she wakes me up every morning at 5:30 and when she leaves chocolate surprises in the middle of the kitche... and the living room... and the hallway... and the toyroom... and three freakin' feet from her litter box. Ah, good times.
Still no Obama pin.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Did I tell you that Sophie is on the student council? I am so proud of her. I know she's only in 4th grade and there may not be much for her to do, but I think this will be great for her. She already wants to help others all of the time. What a perfect place for a little girl who wants to do good.
Jake is sick tonight. He's going to miss school tomorrow. He probably has another sinus infection.
The Obama pin still hasn't shown up. Damn.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The sound of the snare as "The Sounds of Silence" goes electric is one of the most powerful moments in music. It rivals Dylan's announcement at the top of "Like a Rolling Stone."
The need for new shoes lead to the worry about money and I think you can pretty much see how everything spiraled downward from there until I had no motivation and I was practically in tears feeling like a failure.
That said, I woke up this morning with a positive attitude. Like I said, there are some projects I am working on right now that have me very excited. One of them is a comic book I am co-writing with a high school buddy, Jeff. Another is an original script that I have been pouring most of my free time into. There are a couple of other things, including a short film, that I may discuss down the line. I don't want to jinx anything.
I'm still waiting for my Obama pin from Move On. They must have a huge demand for them.
I'll tell you, it's hard getting up each morning and reading about market crashes and train crashes and not consider myself pretty damn lucky that I have a killer wife (who's hot, too) and two of the best damn kids you'll ever meet. I am sure that my dark cloud days are rooted in my fear that I letting them down. I sometimes wonder if my parents struggled like this. I wonder if they had doubts and fears that gripped them so fiercely that you chest tightened and it was difficult to breathe. I wonder that, but if they did they hid it well.
Then again, maybe all of the yelling from my childhood was a result of whatever stress they were living with. I often wonder how either of them could live with each other after so much tension in that house. Perhaps they understood each other better than we (my siblings and I) thought.
Need to call Mom and Dad tonight.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Life isn't like the movies. Even in those films or television series about folks down on their luck, something good happens and everything changes for the better. I don't want to be negative, but I'm really hoping something great is around the corner. Praying, is more like it, though, I don't know if I've been spiritual enough lately that my prayers would be answered.
Funny thing is, I feel really excited about some projects that I'm working on and I'm feeling energized for the half marathon. Still, when I think about Halloween coming up, or Jacob's birthday coming up, or Christmas right around the corner... the elephant that was standing on my chest all last year decides to make another visit.
Something's going to happen, I know it. I have to keep reminding myself that something positive is going to come soon. Otherwise, I won't be able to get up in the morning.
Thus concludes today's little depressing entry. Aren't you glad I'm back writing?
Maybe my Obama pin will be in the mail today.
Friday, September 12, 2008
The past couple of weeks have had some exciting things happen for me, but nothing that's going to put food on the table. That's the rub, see, I'm trying to do this art thing and we're struggling. Hopefully that'll change soon. Julie is about to begin interviewing for jobs and she'll also be on the sub list come October. I can't complain, though, there are people out there worse off than we are. I know that is true.
I'm sitting here listening to Dylan's "Hard Rain" and I can't believe that he wrote this song when he was in his 20's. Sadly, I can't name one young artist who is writing important songs like this one; I can't think of one artist in his 20's taking on the government and calling them on their lies and distortions. It seems that job has fallen on the shoulders of the elders like Springsteen, Neil Young, U2 and Dylan (still).
This election. This election has got me worried. For the first time the entire campaign, I'm a little worried. The ads that are being shown are dispicable and I fear that Joe Average who only watches the TVF won't read up on the bullshit McCain and his camp are putting out there. The McCain camp has completely adopted the mentality of the Bush administration: Say it over and over again, don't deny anything, and eventually people will believe you are right. And if they don't believe you are a right, fuck them. That's the Bush mentality.
A couple of weeks ago I met up with an old friend, Brett. He deserves so much more attention that just these couple sentances. So, I will write more about him come this weekend.
And then there is the fundraiser. I haven't raised as much as I'd hoped. Perhaps those first two fundraisers were anamolies. Or maybe people just don't have the money. That's the scary thing. If people don't have any money, how will we find a cure for CF.
Cystic fibrosis. Wish I'd never heard of the god damn disease.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Still, I managed to finish okay, even though I forgot my water bottle. The weather in the morning is starting to become a little cooler, though the days are still unbearable.
I look forward to getting back with the team next Saturday.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
When I was in the Boy Scouts, what I took away from the organization wasn't how to tie knots or how to shoot a bow an arrow. What I took from my years in Troop 664 was a pride in my nation, a sense that you can do anything if you put your mind to it (something I proved by earning my Eagle Scout award). I gathered a sense of loyalty in the Boy Scouts and a feeling that it is our responsibility to look out for our fellow man. Although I have had a personal falling out with the Scouts due to their noninclusive, prejudicial policies, I still hold the things I took from those years close to my heart.
It was these themes that I heard over and over again in one of t most brilliant speeches I have heard in my lifetime tonight. Never have I sat captivated before the television to hear a politician speak like I did tonight when Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for the Presidency. Everything he said echoed my true feelings about America and what makes this country great.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Matt swears he was caught off guard when the photographer took this. He's no longer with us to defend or refute the statement, so I will continue to believe this was unintentional. For one reason, he really loved the girl he's pictured with. It may have been high school love, but those feelings are real. It's been 20 years since this was taken. After Matt died I carried it around in my wallet for awhile, that's why it appears so beat up.
Miss you, brother.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Across the aisle was a man in his 40's with his long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. There were three or four rubberbands holding the locks in place. He had a goatee and a face weathered by years of experience. The tattoos on his neck and all over his arms gave the impression that this was a hard man and that you wouldn't want to cross him for fear that his tan leather work boots might plant themselves in your face. Then, as I was getting my shit together to get off the train, his phone rang.
He spoke on the phone to someone in a tender voice. I got the impression that it was a child and he was calmly explaining that he was on his way to work and that he was on the train. I smiled and stepped down the steps to head to work.
Anyway, if you see a bunch or typos, that's the reason. It's definitely not because I can't spell or that I'm lazy and haven't gone back to correct by errors.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
So, by now, if you're still reading, you can tell that I've made a few changes to the old thunderbolt. Besides the new template, I've added a slew of links and a list of blogs I like to frequent.
You'll also notice that I've added links to every Basement Song entry and some of the other things I've written, either at Popdose or on this blog or the old Marathon training blog. I figured, since some of you may not be reading Popdose, here's a chance to catch up on all of the songs I've written about. I've also included the entire breakdown of my last marathon, the OC Marathon. It may look daunting, 13 or so entries, but it reads fast. No, really, it does.
Anyway, I've decided to take a little pride in what I'm doing here. If I like something in particular, or if there is an old entry I come across that I would love to share to new readers (like, say, that time during my first marathon when my bowels nearly exploded), then I'm going to create a link. Why not. At least it gives frequent visitors something to read when I'm not writing.
That's another thing. I'm really going to try and keep up with this journal. Looking back at the original blog I created, I wrote a lot! I need to get back in that habit.
(I know, I know, I say that all the time)
I am running for my son.
That is the mantra I repeated to myself in times of exhaustion when I was training for my first two marathons back in 2003 and 2004. The early morning runs, the aching joints, the self doubt, all of these things played a factor in wearing me down and making me want to quit. But then I would repeat those six words to myself and I would find some buried reservoir of energy and continue moving forward.
I am running for my son.
The reason behind my sudden urge to run a marathon was raising money to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, the deadly disease that Jacob was diagnosed with when he was barely a month old. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food. To combat the disease, Jacob must do daily breathing treatment with a nebulizer and a machine called “The Vest,” which vibrates his chest to break up any mucus build up in his lungs. Additionally, he must take enzyme supplements to help him digest food. Jacob takes a total of 13 different medications daily to keep him a healthy little boy who loves to play with his older sister, Sophie.
After a two year hiatus, a simple jog through a rain soaked parking lot last Thanksgiving lit a spark in me to begin running again. Between 2003 and 2006, over $20,000 was raised for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation through the marathon fundraisers I ran. The time felt right to make another go at it. New shoes were bought, a slow steady regime was adopted, and on November 16, I will participate in the Pasadena half marathon, just two days after Jacob’s 7th birthday.
This past summer, we visited family in Ohio and I stuck with my training as best as possible. The very first morning, as I cut a path through the memories of my childhood jogging through the neighborhoods where I grew up, an epiphany hit me. I vividly recall a Coldplay song chiming through my headphones and I had a clear vision of the future. Jacob and his loving sister, Sophie, were sitting together on a swing, reading, he with his head on her shoulder. They were older, in their teens, and the sun was setting behind them. In this vision, I stood, observing, feeling blessed for the wonderful life I have and the beautiful family I love. And it occurred to me, suddenly, that I am not just running for my son.
I am running for my family.
As this thought came over me, I had to stop running, gasping for air and trying to hold back tears. Any passerby would have thought I’d injured myself. CF affects everyone in the family. As parents, that daily routine of 13 different medications can get overwhelming. But we do it because we love our child and would go to the lengths of the earth to ensure his good health. And then there is Sophie, our precious daughter, who sometimes seems to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. She loves her brother so much is brings tears to your eyes when you observe the way they interact. I dread the day the two of them begin asking questions about the statistics like median life expectancy and the fact that only half the people with cystic fibrosis live to be in their mid-30’s.
I am running for my family.
This new mantra has given me renewed strength on my weekly runs and when I am in need of an extra push, the lyrics from that Coldplay song echo in my head.
“The sky could be blue, I don’t mind / Without you it’s a waste of time.”
Without my family I’m a waste of time. That’s why I asking for your help.
That’s why I’m running for my family.
We need your support. Please consider making a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by clicking on this link and scrolling to the bottom of the page. We are not asking for much, 10, 20, maybe 50 dollars, whatever you can afford. Every little bit helps; every little bit goes a long way in finding a cure for this dreaded disease. It truly is a matter of life and death for people with CF.
Monday, August 11, 2008
This training for the half marathon has been some of the most spiritual and refreshing running since before the first marathon back in '03.
Today I began, in earnest, to write my fundraising letter. I feel like it's not very good. I hate writing these letters. Boo frickin' hoo, right? Write the damn letter, crybaby, and raise some money to wipe out this damn disease.
Man, I'm fired up.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Man, I don't realize how much I miss these guys until we see each other.
Monday, August 04, 2008
My first thought was of Obama.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
The beer tasting festival was great fun. I discovered a great tasting beer out of Paso Robles, CA, Firestone Walker. Smooth beer, my friends. Very smooth. Of course, BJ's provided some excellent food, as did several other fine restaurants, including Stone Fire, which has a place up by us.
Dinner just arrived. Gotta run.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
First the Dodgers. The Indians traded blue collar workhorse Casey Blake to the Dodgers on Saturday. As luck would have it, Sophie and I were going to the Dodgers game that night. Sophie is a HUGE Casey Blake fan, having rooted for him during the Indians playoff run last fall. She was bummed that he wasn't going to be on the Indians anymore, but excited that we'd get to see him play that night. Mr. Blake was 2-3 with a double and a run scored. Not bad for a guy who walked off an airplane, got fitted for a uniform and played his first game on his new team all within a three hour span. Casey should also be happy to learn that he has a fan club up in Saugus. The next morning, when his picture appeared in the Times, Jake saw it and exclaimed, "Hey, it's Casey Blake!" Saturday night, I bought my first official Dodgers cap, not some knockoff you get in the parking lot, but the real deal. For those of you who know me, it's taken me 14 years to be able to make this purchase. 14 years to feel like I'm not being disloyal to the Tribe. But the Indians are done for the season (Sophie still holds out hope, God bless her), so why not root for our other team, the Dodgers. Besides, I needed a new lid.
Yesterday I saw The Dark Knight and I have to say that it was an exceptional film. Not just for entertainment purpose, but on a deeper level. Christopher Nolan has crafted one of th most exciting, heartbreaking and thought provoking films in popular entertainment since the Lord of the Rings movies. Heath Ledger lives up to the hype. Christian Bale continues to display why he's one of the most talented actors of this generation. Aaron Eckhart gave a very solid performance (and that Two-Face makeup was horrifying). Finally, Gary Oldman delivered one of th most emotional and understated performances in the film. If you only associate Oldman with psychos and weirdos, you will be surprised by what he does in The Dark Knight. I've already heard the backlash begin: It's too long; he plot is too complicated; it's just a super hero movie. I'm telling you, there is something going on in this film that gets inside you. It is a study in what makes us evil and how we handle tragedy. Oh, and th music is so haunting, I can't get it out of my head.
Had a decent run Saturday morning with the Pasadena training group. I had forgotten how rough the terrain down there by the Rose Bowl can be. My 5 mile run took 10 minutes longer than I have don near home. Still, I'm glad I went and plan to attend as many group long ruins as possible. Tonight I had a great night time run. I am in love with my iPod Nano and what it is capable of giving me... music wise. Come one people, get your heads out of the gutter (oh wait, that was me). That new Coldplay album is at the top of my listening list. Good stuff.
That's all for tonight.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
That's not too funny, though. I vividly recall a night when I was up with Jake, it was around 2 in the morning, and I was feeling pretty low about myself. Next thing you know I was ordering a series of Yoga VHS tapes. I'll give you three guesses how often I used those tapes. Actually, there is one tape that I pull out on occasion. I've used that one tape some ten times in five years. The other four sit in a box collecting dust.
We were supposed to go to the beach today but Jake woke up with a 102 degree fever. He fought it all day and now, at about 11:30, it appears to have broken. We spent the day indoors, venturing out to The Candy Factory for some sweets and another time for some Tylenol that Jake refused to take. Sophie and I played some handball.
I spoke with Dana, my manager, this morning and she had some notes for my teen script that has a character with CF. She pretty much told me that the script was ordinary and that the focus should be the family with CF. Now, normally, having your script being called ordinary could hurt a writer's ego, but I've never... never received any notes about this script. The only comments I've ever gotten were "nice" and "well written." Yada yada yada bullshit. It's nice, no, refreshing to get honesty like that. That's why I signed with her. So, I have a lot to think about. As soon as we hung up I started visualizing how the script could be changed to alter the main storyline and make it work the way Dana proposed. This is the part of writing that I love, the editing and revising process. When everything is clicking, and so many ideas are flying around like little gnats and you have to swat them away, I get a great buzz. I'm on cloud nine, folks.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Maybe I'm blinded because I've lived with it so long. Still, I've had people I REALLY respect commend me on the movie, people who would not hesitate to tell me if the movie really was crap. People are entitled to their opinion. At least they watched the movie, right (except the one reviewer who was afraid they wouldn't get to minute 13).
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
"Listen to the way he makes his guitar cry. It's the end of the story he's telling with the strings." All of these years I hadn't heard this song in quite the way E. described it to me. It was awesome.
I spoke to him on Friday to tell him how much I enjoyed our visit. I realized that night that The Band will forever remind me of E. I was glad to be able to associate some music, separate from Matt, with Elliott. As "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" played over his iPod, we just bobbed our heads and listened to Levon sing.
"The niiiiiiiiiiight, theydrove old Dixie dawn."
I'm glad that our friendship is moving beyond the two of us commiserating about Matt.
I really do love this Coldplay album, Viva La Vida..., I think the band has achieved an new level of greatness. They set out to make an ALBUM, and not a collection of singles. It works. Sure, you can hear their influences throughout the record, but who cares. There are some wonderful emtions here, real power. One song stands out above them al, "Strawberry Swing." The first time I heard it, I was swept up by the chiming guitars and lyrics of optimism and love. One morning while running in Ohio, I was listening to the song while jogging and I had an epiphany about my marathon fundraising. I'm not just running for my darling boy, I'm running for the whole family. I'm running to keep us as a foursome. We are that close.
I just listened to the song and I had to stop writing to go play an imaginary acoustic guitar and sing and cry and cry. A long time ago (though, maybe not that long ago) I stopped professing to be a praying man, yet each time I hear this song, "Strawberry Swing," I cry out to God and the heavens to keep my boy safe, keep my Jacob healthy, keep our family safe and intact. I'm sure everyone reading this has the same feelings about their own families. I hope you do.
Oh how I wonder what Doodle, our cat, must be thinking as she peers in through the living room window. Pleading for me to open the door and let her in for the night, instead she has to watch a crazy may dance in a circle strumming his imaginary guitar across his belly. And she has to witness him squeeze his eyes closed and cry. And she has to watch him sink to one knee and cry. And she has to watch him struggle to stand, not from the beers but from the anguish and the fear... the god damn fear. My life is full of fear and worry. Will it ever end?
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Having returned late Tuesday night, yesterday was a daze, made more so by the fact that my office is moving. Thus, on top of getting caught up to speed, I had to pack up my crap for the big move that begins this afternoon. Woke up this morning and just couldn't get going. I started to make a list of things that I have to do JUST to get out the frickin door and I had a chilling thought: Is this what I would be like if I was not married with children? Would I be this lethargic every morning? I envisioned a house littered with post-its, telling how my life was supposed to go.
I don't do well when my family is away, especially after vacation. After spending a week and a half bonding with them, getting reacquainted, so to speak, I'm in a foreign world on my own. I need them to survive.
Lately, I have been reflective on that aspect of my life, my need for companionship. There have been very few periods since my adolescence when I wasn't dating someone. I think the universe has a way of guiding us into the path of adulthood we are destined to follow. Does this have something to do with a childhood feeling unloved? Someday I may wish to explore this deeper. For now, I will continue to tap into my own insecurities and "issues" from growing up in order to be a better parent to Sophie and Jacob.
Ohio was nice. It was an excellent trip. Someday, I would really enjoy going on a vacation that didn't take me back to my roots, back to my hometown. The trouble with going home every time you go on vacation is that you always look inward and into the past. There's no getting around it, at least not for me.
Like I said, perspective.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Finally, I am full of dread when it comes to sitting down and writing the next story. I'm sweating now just thinking about it. I have no confidence in myself and I'm trying to push through this wall. Driving into work this morning I had several excellent ideas for the new script. When I sat down at my desk, I could barely pick up the pen.
Perhaps I have been trying to be some kind of writer than I am not. Perhaps I am trying to be Arthur Miller when I should be trying to be Stephen King or Rod Serling. Why must I think that I should be writing heavy drama when I could be writing horror or fantasy, two genres that I clearly enjoy (see "Lost", "Twilight Zone", "Reaper", etc). Somewhere in my life someone planted the idea in my head that these types of fiction are not worthy of respect. It's time I get past that notion.
Friday, June 20, 2008
From getting married with next to nothing, living in the segregated south, to moving back to Ohio and raising four children, I admire my folks, even if I don't agree with everything they've done. But I'm sure they would not agree with all of the choices I've made in my lifetime.
Happy Anniversary Budd and Eleanor.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I sat in my office chair for three hours to watch three consecutive episodes one night and I messed up my back. I am paying the price. I can't run, I walk like an old man (no offense to my older readers.. I meant... oh, you know what I meant!) and I have trouble getting comfortable when it's time to go to sleep.
So THANK YOU Mr. J.J. Abrams and all of your cast, for screwing up my life. And thank you (no, really, thank you) ABC for streaming all four seasons on ABC.com.
Friday, June 13, 2008
After the kids sang, they all sat down for awards to be presented by the two kindergarten teachers. Each student received an award for a particular skill they mastered over the course of the year, like penmanship, citizenship, etc. Jacob was awarded Best All Around Student. It probably doesn't mean much to him other than "hey, I git an ward." But I feel this was the best award to receive. Not only is he a good student, but he is simply a caring, loving little boy. The perfect kind of kid any teacher would want in their class. I am so proud of him.
Damn, he's in first grade now.
Sophie, meanwhile, has moved on to 4th grade with flying colors. Her report card was stellar and she is [poised to be one of the best student in her class. But she is not merely a good academic child. Instead, she has immense talent in writing and art. She had to write one final essay before the end of the year and the voice she uses in that essay is so easy going and at ease, it's like having a conversation with her. If I can convince her to let me post the essay I will because I believe it's one of the most remarkable things I've read this year. Sophie is a blessing. To have such a warm, empathetic little girl as my daughter not only makes me proud, but humbles me.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Up until a couple hours ago, I still felt like crap. But I am ready an excited for tomorrow morning. I am investigated a little bit about what foods I should eat before my run and hope that I don't get depressed while I run. That seems to be my greatest obstacle lately. My head starts to tell me that I shouldn't be running or I begin to question whether I really want to do the marathon. Seeing as for 20 hours, I really want to run this thing, I have to get my head in shape for the morning run. Call it brain training, if you will.
I'm a little bummed that "King's Highway" did not hit shelves today like it was supposed to. A fuck up at the manufacturer has delayed its release until July 1. However, I am assured that the DVD"s are shipping from the factory on Friday and will be in the hands of sellers in time for the new release date. I have been working on the King's Highway website every other day. Not sure what else I am going to put on it. I will have to check other film websites to see what they include. Last week was so surreal, seeing the movie listed for sale on Amazon and for rent on Netflix. That the movie's release coincides with me finally getting representation is like some kind of harmonic convergence.
What? I didn't tell you about that? Sorry. I signed paperwork yesterday that makes me a client of a management company in Beverly Hills. The two women running it fell in love with one of my old scripts, "Ritual" (aka "The Hunted") and also have taken a liking to "Blood Brothers." I am really beyond words at how great they have been and at how enthusiastic they are about my story ideas. For the first time since "Deceit" was completed, I feel a little validation as a writer. And for the first time, I feel legitimate. I have a good feeling bout the management team.
This week is the last week of school. Where the hell did the year go. Jake is going o be in 1st grade! And Sophie will be in 4th. My 4th grade teacher was one of the best I had in my childhood. His name was Mr. Householder. He really encouraged me to write, even if they were gory murder mysteries involving all of my classmates. After 4th grade, I moved into the ASP program. It wasn't necessarily better, just separate. Thank God Matt and Steve were my classmates.
I'm going to wrap things up for the night. I need to get sleep. That's one of my keys to staying healthy and mentally fit. Plenty of sleep.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Let's see, where to start. Okay, first of all, our Internet was kaput for several days, so even if I wanted to write, it would have been difficult. Sorry.
On Tuesday we learned that "King's Highway" is being released next Tuesday, 6/10. I little research led to the discovery that the film is available for presale at Amazon and available to rent through Netflix. Obviously, if you're reading this, I hope you'll check out our little film. It's taken a LONG time to get this baby released. I can't tell you the thrill it is seeing your work out there for the general public to see. Now I'll just have to weather the bad reviews.
So, to reiterate... "King's Highway", starring Geoff Stults and written and directed by yours truly, is available to buy from Amazon next Tuesday and available to rent, now.
To prepare for the release, I have constructed a very simple website for the movie: http://kingshighwaymovie.blogspot.com. Please be sure to check it out to see what the movie is about and to watch the trailer.
I have some really great news on the career front that I'll be sharing in a couple of days.
Finally, a new basement song write up will appear on Popdose tomorrow morning. Check it out, too.
I haven't used the blog for pimping in some time. I hope to get into my training in the days to come. I have been running, trying to get back to the good place I was a couple of weeks ago (before I got sick). That I haven't been able to feel as great as I did at that time is a little discouraging. I have to get over this hump.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I was sick, then I was doing a rewrite, then it was a holiday and now....
The excuses have run out. For those of you reading, I've got a decent Basement Song entry coming up tomorrow over at Popdose. Please check it out.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about the way I edit myself on thunderbolt and how it may inhibit me in being creative. I think I'm going to try and be a little more loose with my constraints and see where that leads us. Would you like to come along for the ride?
I can't make any promises at how often I will be making entries over the next couple of weeks. I'm trying to work out a schedule. However, the marathon training will official begin in a couple of weeks. I assure you, my faithful readers (there may be 30, now) that I will continue to make regular updates once the running gets longer and harder.
Let me finish by telling you what a hero Jacob was yesterday. he had a doctors appointment down at Childrens Hospital. For the first time, he was doing a pulmonary function test (from now on known as PFT) to evaluate his lung strength. For the test, his nose is plugged and he blows into a plastic tube that does the measuring. Now Jake isn't one to take to new things. A couple of weeks ago, he was excited about getting his haircut with me at Sports Clips until the moment we walked in the door. Then he couldn't do it and was in tears. So we were very nervous about how he would do. Moreover, that he's doing a PFT is another reminder of the disease. All morning I was on edge, thinking about the test and what the results might be. Just thinking about it at this moment is making me sweat.
Well, Jake did awesome and his test results were great. I am so proud of him. And thank god he had Julie with him. I probably would have been a nervous wreck with a forced smile.
That's all for now.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Before I reached 1 mile, I saw a young coyote, lost in civilization, wandering out of an apartment complex and crossing Newhall Ranch Road, one of the busiest roads in the city. But at the crack of dawn here was no traffic. It was only me and the coyote, two creatures roaming the streets in search of something. Perhaps the coyote was looking for food or trying to find its way back to the mountains. I know that I was looking for some healing and a good run. It crossed the intersection unscathed and virtually unnoticed, save for my two eyes. Moments later, two rabbits scampered across a small yard, free to run about in the quiet of the morn.
Yes, I was searching. Searching and hoping. My hope was that I would last for a good five miles and not suffer any leg pain or grow tired too quickly. As soon as I began running, I felt lighting in my steps. Two days earlier, as I completed my morning run, I was disgusted at how tired I felt. Not yesterday. I felt alive. Free. A sense of purpose pumped through my veins like it hadn't in weeks. I felt as if I was about to cross a threshold in my training.
Through my headphone, inspirational music carried me along. One song after another, my MP3 player magically channeled my needs and kept me motivated. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss sang their lovely duet, "Stick With Me Baby" and I couldn't help think of Julie ad all that we've been through and all that is in store for us. Then, Springsteen's acoustic rendition of "The Rising" recorded in Cleveland back in 2005. Tears wanted to come out as I cried out, "I'm running for my boy.... I'm running for my boy." I didn't cry, but instead let out a soft moan, pained. I'm running for my boy. I wish I was running for other reasons. Then, not to forget my beautiful girl, Marshall Crenshaw's "Someday Someway," the first contemporary rock song she used to sing as a 2 year old, brought a smile and lifted me back up. It was that kind of a morning. Before I knew it, I had run 4.3 miles and I only had .7 to go. At the turnaround of my 5 miles where I knew to head back home, the final song was "Lonesome Day."
How? How did this machine channel what I needed to survive this morning? It's just a machine, no?
By th time I got home, I was high. This was my best run, so far. No pain. Just gain.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
A new pledge to be positive for a month. A new pledge not to get caught up in any of the negative bullshit at work. A new pledge to not speak negatively of anyone for one month. A pledge to ride my bike to work whenever possible.
This may get tough.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Yesterday we hung out at Budd and Karyn's pool. I am impressed with Budd. He was laid off from a shitty job that he despised and is hitting the ground running with his next plan. I don't know what we'd do if something lik that happened to me. I pray we never have to find out.
That's a hint, by the way, to watch "Flapjack" over an over again when it premieres and to rush out and purchase your very own copy of "King's Highway" this June!
Friday, April 25, 2008
I'm walking for my son.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Blood Brothers has fallen apart. I'm a bit disappointed, but not surprised after what I was going through with the option agreement. Tony and I still plan to try and make it ourselves. We'll see how that goes. Still, this is one that I just won't let go. There's too much of Brookshire in it to let someone else go in and fuck around with the story.
Great Strides is this week and I don't know if I'm distracted or not. I'm feeling anxious, as if I should be writing, but I can't get motivated. I'm starting to get pissed off at myself (as you can tell by the number of expletives tht are flying out of my mouth... er keyboard). Where is that drive I had years ago. The desire? Truth is, I was really inspired months ago when I came across the radio book. I should have just jumped on that train and ridden the momentum through a first draft. What the hell was I thinking?
Oh yes, I remember. I needed to write a script that would sell. So I went off and wrote a script I thought would sell and there it sits ion the fucking trash can along with one thousand other ideas I always wanted tow rite but never had the time to get to. I know that this anger and bitterness and downright disgust in myself stems, in part, from the fact that I'll have been graduated from high school 20 years this June.
Twenty years? What do I have to show for it. And don't you throw a "feature film" or a "Lifetime movie" back in my face. My goal is to write full time. Yet, I know... I KNOW. Good Christ, how I know that writing full time isn't in the cards right now.
Tears of anger are hovering around the edges of my eyes. Am I crying for my son or myself? If I say myself, I'm a selfish prick. If I say my son, then there shouldn't be any tears because the sacrifices I make for him outweigh any professional dreams or goals I may have at this point in time. It should be enough that people are reading my writing at Popdose and here at thunderbolt. It should be enough that I have some people expressing interest in working with me as a screenwriter. It should be. But I have a gaping hole in my stomach... is that my ego? Does my damn ego have a hole in it?
I am a selfish prick. I need to work on that.
Monday, April 14, 2008
The running is going great. My legs have new life. Seriously, no pain yet. I'm stoked about that and even imagine myself with a flat stomach someday. I know, a bit of a fantasy, but a guy can dream, can't he?
On Saturday we visited the Saugus Trail Station, which isn't a train station anymore, but a museum, and isn't even in Saugus anymore (it was moved to Newhall back in 1980). Sophie has a class assignment to learn more about Santa Clarita history. I'm pretty excited about all that she's learning, too. I think I was as thrilled as she was getting the scoop about the train station and some Santa Clarita history. Makes me want to haul out this old photo album I inherited from my grandfather after he died. The book chronicles a cross country trip taken by my great grandfather (I think) back in the early 20th century. The pictures are starting to fade, so now is the time to preserve them, I suppose. Time. Just. need. more. time.
Maybe I'll post a couple pictures every Sunday with whatever captions are attached to them.
I am still trying to get Geoff Stults for an interview. I suddenly have some hungry "October Road" fans eager for news on their favorite television show. Maybe that hunger will excite them to see a little something called "King's Highway."
Okay, I have to do some work on another thriller I'm trying o write for the manager guy.
I believe I will write a list of the stories I hope to accomplish this year. They are (in no particular order):
1. Rock band story with Joe
2. Thriller for manager guy
3. Romantic comedy
4. Horror noir comic book with my buddy Marsick
5. Kids adventure comic with Nate and Vill
6. Something....anything for the radio project!
That's it. I have to sty focused on these so that I can also keep up the Popdose writing and occasional emails and yes, entries to thunderbolt.
That's all for now.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
Sunday, April 06, 2008
That said, I have received an insane amount of response to an article I wrote about "October Road", ABC's series that co-starred Geoff Stults, the actor who carried King's Highway on his shoulders. That's kind of cool huh?
I am hoping that once I get into my real training for the marathon in the fall that I will have some profound, life affirming anecdotes to write about, sort of like Zen and the Art of Marathon Training Fundraising (maybe I can call a book that someday).
I'm frustrated with myself on a regular basis. I feel like a failure ninety percent of the time and I feel such a lack of inspiration that there have been times these past six months when I wonder "what was it like to feel inspired?" Has the film industry finally worn me down to the point that I just don't give a shit any more? There is a small part of me that says yes. I hate acknowledging that voice. I hate that voice, like it's the devil in my ear.
Yesterday I had an excellent end to my long run. I say "end" because my mind was not into the start of it. I slept in longer than I'm used to (I didn't run until 7:00) and my legs were tired. Luckily I had some new songs on the MP3 player (let's call it "gray matter" from now on). I downloaded the new R.E.M. single (legally... don't get your panties in a bunch) and it got me through a couple of stops. I also added the most beautiful song by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, "Stick with me Baby". The melody is treated hauntingly and the two of them sing with such tenderness. The lyrics remind me of Julie every time. However, when I heard the song yesterday, the gravity of why I'm running this new marathon really slammed me.
I'm running for my boy.
You know, just writing that phrase makes me tear up. I'm running for my boy. That's enough to give me an extra push when I'm feeling low. And when I attack those hills, the phrase that keeps coming out of my mouth in a guttural growl is "fuck you, cystic fibrosis."
Springsteen is tomorrow night. I'm pretty damn stoked, let me tell you. I hope to sneak our camera in and take a few snapshots. I know you're all waiting with baited breath.