Sunday, November 29, 2009

I was forwarded a link to some CF blogs by Julie and was blown away by the grace and strength these people, CF patients, write about their lives and what they have gone through. When I read something like that I wonder what, if any, purpose my little blog has in this world. For a time I felt like I was expressing the experiences of a CF parent, but for nearly a year now I have been reluctant to keep regular posts. Part of the reason is fear of sounding whiny. I want to sound strong for my son, yet most of the time I end up speaking about the sadness I deal with and the elephant whenever it rears its head.

The elephant tried to show up on Thanksgiving Day, but I drove it away, mostly through conversation and Jameson's and the company of family. Jameson's is dangerous, I tell you. It's smooth going down and before you now it, you're smashed. Anyway, the elephant loomed all weekend, waiting to pounce, but I managed to keep it together.

See, that's what I mean by sounding whiny. Am I expressing anything new here? Am I helping people understand? I don't know.

Another thing I worry about is telling too much information. As the kids get older, their lives should remain personal, don't you think?

What I should do is take the time to talk about the book and that whole process. At least it would be documented somewhere so my kids could look it up after I kicked te bucket.

"Hey Jake, here's the story of how dad wrote his first book."
"Dad wrote a book?"
"Yeah, it's that think you use to keep the bookshelf balanced."
"Dad wrote that?"

Just kidding. Sophie's been so supportive, believe it or not, she even came up with a cover idea that is actually pretty cool. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jacob's birthday was last weekend and it was a wonderful time. Stressful in parts, but when isn't it stressful when you have a house full of people and a tortoise that doesn't act like you were hoping it would?

That's right, Jake received a tortoise for his birthday. He was shocked and amazed. Immediately he named it "Cap'n K'nuckles" after the character in the cartoon The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. I didn't realize that he liked the character so much on the TV show, but he was insistent that this would be his pet's name.

The Cap'n (one of his nicknames) seems to have a cold and is not eating. I took him to the vet on Sunday and we are now giving him drops in his nostril once a day. Otherwise he doesn't do much right now. Personally, I think he might be trying to hibernate. Then again, whenever we bring him out of his glass case he's very active. I don't know anything about tortoises so so this is a learning experience for all of us.

It was nice having Mom and Dad in town for the weekend. We haven't seen them in months. As we just bought out tickets for the Christmas holidays, I expect that we'll see them at my cousin's wedding on New Year's Eve.

Work has been insanely busy. My determination to complete the revision of my book has prevented me from making entries on this blog. But it is very freeing to be writing on it, as if I can take a deep breath again.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Friday Night Lights is back on television with new episodes airing on Direct TV. Man, I don't think there is a finer drama airing right now. Sure, there are some exciting mystery/thrillers, but FNL is the type of show that is so rare anymore. It is a family drama that follows characters both in their teens, their early 20's, and then middle aged. Each character is richly drawn and every performance is genuine and heartfelt. Even the assholes show their human sides. I am so glad I took the risk in watching FNL when it began airing 4 years ago. I love this show.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Not completely satisfied with my basement song post this week. I was going in a certain direction and then Julie told me some sad news. She frequented a blog written by a 29 year old woman with cf and that woman died today. Whatever mood I had going into finishing the post was no longer there. I can't even think about it without getting the piercing nose pain that eventually leads to tears.

We have to find a cure. We have to find a cure.

Jake is doing much better and is going to school tomorrow.

Someday, perhaps, I'll return to expressing myself better on this blog. Perhaps after I finish the book.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Watched the end of the 1939 Of Mice and Men starring Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr. tonight. The staging was a little stiff and some of the acting was a little too theatrical, but the end... oh my, that ending, when Meredith's George finds Chaney's Lenny is still as powerful as it was when I watched it as a teenager. The Aaron Copland score swells and just rips your heart out as the gun goes off and George kills Lenny.

Jake seems to be feeling better, which we're happy about. Still, he's going to stay home tomorrow, too.

I'm trying to refocus on the book and get it done by the end of next week. Too many reviews to write and too many other writing possibilities are distracting me. I have to get it together.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Right now I'm listening to freakin' Whitesnake on my iPod. I know how they got there (I uploaded portions of Rhino's killer collection, The Heavy Metal Box) but I feel like an idiot nodding my head to David Coverdale.

Jacob is sick with the flu. We're not sure if he has the H1N1, but it's been going around his school, so we're being cautious. It freaks me out a little because his pediatrician heard a "rattle" in one of his lungs.

Hold up, have to pause and drive back my fear.

Okay, I'm good. His lungs are healthy. Who knows what "rattle" means? After Jules told me that piece of news I was distracted the rest of the day. Nothing has kept me focused, not even Whitesnake.

Anyway, another mundane Monday comes to a close.


Sunday, November 01, 2009


And so begins the next decade.

I spent the majority of the day acting like a 20 year old screwing around with my new iPod. Julie and the kids got me a 160 gig monster that will hold all of my music and then some. It's going to take some getting used to but I love it.

Jake is sick, he had a fever all day long. His illness negated our plan to drive up to Santa Babara today. So we all just hung out, watched movies, and Soph and I went out to dinner. I can't recall the last time just the to of us went out to eat by ourselves. Have we ever? It was nice.

The past couple of weeks have been strange and surreal. I've heard from people I have not spoken to in twenty years! As a writer I am fascinated about hearing their life stories and the journeys they have been on. At the same time I have to stay focused. I have a job to do and that job is to finish my book. Prioroity number one in the next couple weeks is to have the first revision done and out to people to have it read.

It's easy to look back on the past decade and think about all of the things I wish I could have done different. But the past is the past and I can't change it. I can only learn from what I have done and not done and forge ahead.

What does the next decade hold for me? If I learned anything from turning 30, it's top not predict where I'll be in ten years. Life is too unpredictable. As long as I'm with Julie and the kids I'll be in the right place when I turn 50.

But that's a long way off.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Welcome back m friends to the show that never ends... I used to love that song by Emerson Lake & Palmer and now I just think of it as a joke. I'm in a funk. The elephant is back and he's brought along the snake who clogs up my stomach. Their old friend sloth is here, too. I told Julie that I either want to get drunk or cry. I can't seem to get any good tears so I've turned to what's left of the scotch I have in my trusty Flapjack flask.

Jacob is culturing pseudomonas and he will be starting another round of TOBI, which is a powerful inhaled medicine he'll have to do twice a day with his other breathing treatments. Jake was on TOBI some time ago when he cultured for preudomonas and we were able to knock it out. I pray we can do the same thing this time. His doctor wants to be very aggressive and put him on a treatment plan, I guess that's what you call it, for six months. It's all very nerve rattling. Coupled with the horrendous time we had at his check up last week and you may understand why I am finding little joy in the creative things I used to love.

I have reviews to write, a novel to type up and a screenplay I was so looking forward to begin. The new TV season is on the horizon and there are new movies that look quite interesting and none of them... none of them can lift me up. All I want to do is hug my children and play Rock Band.

And I can't cry. I can't fucking cry. I know that if I could just let out some of this fear with a good old knock me off my feet sob session I could get up the next day will some of the elephant's pressure off of my chest and the snake out of my gut. And maybe, just maybe, I could conquer the sloth and get back to doing the things I need to do to get that movie sold or that book published so I could then write something that helps people understand this mother fucking disease and what it does to people.

I know that Jacob is a healthy kid and I know that he and we are very blessed. It's the fear, though, the fear that all of this could change in an instant. The fear is what feed the elephant and the snake and the sloth, and the fear is the hardest thing to overcome.

I don't want pity because damn it I shouldn't be pitied. I should be scolded for not being stronger. I'm not the one who is sick.

My children are my heroes.

Monday, August 03, 2009


On the train ride to work this morning I completed the rough draft of my book. It didn't seem real until I called Julie from Burbank and told her the news. Hearing her excitement gave me a feeling of relief and pride.

Now begins the real work.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Man, a month flies by fast. I dedicated the past 30 days working on my book and I am happy to say that I am one chapter from completion. It all likeliness, I will be done this week! Then I begin the arduous task of typing everything (that' right, I hand wrote it) and then... the rewrites!

Today is my dad's birthday! Happy birthday, Dad, I wouldn't be where I am today without your support and love.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

July 1st. 4 months until 40. Should I be worried? The other day I was thinking about the novel and I realized, "Holy crap, I'll have written a novel by the time I'm 40!" I was partially impressed with my self for a couple of minutes.

I am really pleased that I've come up with the first screenplay idea I really want to pursue, no matter what anyone says, for the first time in about 2 years. I think it's a pretty good one and so do many of the folks I've pitched it to. I'm going to take some time developing; I'm going to finish the novel first ad let this movie idea gestate for a couple months.

I've been jogging regularly and my body has begun to adapt. I'm not so tired anymore. I've even begun riding my bike to the train station and I still don't feel completely spent. I'm pretty excited about that as well.

Not sure what I'm writing tonight. Nothing introspective, that's for sure. Lately I just want to write. Last week's Basement Song entry about my summer in Hollywood as an intern with Tony's company has me thinking about a sort of memoir, or maybe a novel based on that summer. There could be something there. And then there is that journal I kept during the summer of 1992, right after I graduated. I've kept that for so long there must be a reason I keep stumbling upon it in my file cabinet.

Just reconnected with a guy I knew from working on Invader back in 1995. He's an executive producer on Top Model. Impressive.


Monday, June 15, 2009

The weather took a turn for the better yesterday and for the past couple of days it has been wonderful. We took in an independent league baseball game last night in Avon Lake where the Lake Erie Crushers play. The team is made up of single A quality players who weren't drafted or were cut from major league affiliated teams. All of these guys are looking for their break in the minors and are essentially trying to keep in form in case a call comes. Anyway, it was great fun, the team won with a walk off home run and we got to run the bases after the game. How cool is that? My only complaint is that the seats are too close together. In an otherwise beautiful stadium, there just wasn't enough legroom.

Today was relaxed. We hung out at Julie's sister's house playing on the Slip and Slide. Well, I didn't go near that frigid water, but the kids seemed to have fun. Later on we ate homemade meatballs and spaghetti. Man, I am gaining weight by the minute out here. It invariably happens whenever we go on vacation. Tomorrow we're having breakfast with my aunt and uncle and I'm supposed to go to the Indians game. So much for that 12 lbs. I lost.

St. Elsewhere
is on in the background. Man, what a wonderful series that was. I am amazed at how much of the show I still recall when the last time I watched a full episode was back when the show was in syndication on the late 80's. It still ranks as one of my favorite shows of all time.

I look back at my career choices and I wonder if I shouldn't have been focusing on television all along. That's where I have been gravitating to for years. I don't know.

Vacations. Man, they give you too much time to think.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

My first day in Ohio and it was relatively uneventful, which is a good thing. Getting assimilated to a new time zone and a vacation mentality is always what happens on my first day away from home. The flight out here was quiet. The plane was half empty and I sat next to a 60 year old man from Strongsville who owns his own recording studio. With gray hair, a diamond earring and a gold chain, he was much more youthful in appearance than most other 60 year olds I've ever met. He was a nice guy and listening to him gave me an idea for a screenplay or new story. I haven't been inspired like that in a while. I have felt so burned out on movies lately that it was almost a foreign feeling to be formulating a visual story instead of something interior like I've been working on for the past four months. We'll see if I ever get around to writing it. I've come across so many good ideas that I filed away never to see the light of day again. Man, what I wouldn't give to be able to write full time.

Today we went down to the Nature Center in thew Metroparks. Talk about finding inspiration in weird places. I found out the name of the memorial down in the Metroparks that is in one of the chapters of my book. By finding out the name and a little of the history to the Metroparks, I also thought about which character would discuss this information. Thinking of that lead me into a whole new idea about the characters personalities and which ones would describe different things that help propel the story. One character may be more drawn to historical facts, another to how people look, another to music. You see where I'm going with this. These are ideas that I'll likely address in a second draft after I've finished the rough handwritten manuscript. I thought writing this book would be a quick endeavor. Boy, was I wrong.

Tonight I took the kids to see Night at The Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian. The kids really loved it. I thought it was a little uneven and not quite as charming as the first. Amy Adams was quite wonderful, though. She's so fantastic I would watch her in anything. Why hasn't anyone given her a great romantic comedy yet?

Well, that was today. It's cold outside and smells like a campfire. Supposedly it's June.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Went to the circus tonight, man was that a strange experience. I can't say the I was totally enthused or even entertained, but I came away with an appreciation of what circuses are and the hard work that goes into putting on the show. This particular circus, Circus Vargas, has been around for 40 years. As I watched the show I thought to myself how strange that no one has made a contemporary film about circus life. I had a couple ideas for kids films and maybe a farce, but I also kept coming back to a star studded Altman-esque idea, something I will never write.

It seemed that everyone had a couple of jobs at the circus. The death defying motorcycle rider whose display of skill closed the show was also the guy taking photos of audience members and trying to get them to buy the picture before the end of the show. Seems that everyone who performed also worked on the crew in some capacity. Trapeze artists also rolled out the carpet, the women who performed magic also sold concessions before the show. In a way, Circus Vargas was like the Boy Scouts.

I may not have been entertained (although there were some unintentionally funny moments) I am glad we went. Julie and the kids leave town in a week and even thinking about it now is getting me misty eyed. At least I'll have the cat... and the mouse that has taken up residency somewhere in our house. I hope it's mouse. I saw it last night scurry behind the dishwasher, then I heard its claws skitter across the kitchen floor while I watched Saint Ralph, one of my favorite movies. If you have not seen Saint Ralph you must rent it the next time you are choosing a movie (unless you're thinking about renting King's Highway, in which case Saint Ralph should be the second film you rent).

This week has been hectic as far as writing goes. I am close to completing some of the reviews I need to do for Popdose. Unfortunately I have not been able to work on the book as much. Yet, I do not feel anxious like I do when I'm not working on a screenplay. Perhaps because the words just seem to flow better when I'm writing the book and I'm not analyzing every single word I write for fear it will be misinterpreted by some future director. I don't know. I believe I am half way through my handwritten rough draft. I dread typing it.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

I don't want to be negative, but I'm afraid that the Indians season is slipping away. There would be nothing I'd like more than to be proven wrong on this one. But with one of their starters, albeit an ineffective one, and one of their best relievers (who was one of their best starters before he got switched to the bullpen) both getting injured last night, I'm getting that sinking feeling in my stomach.

There is so much talent on this team, yet they don't seem to have any fire under them. While I'm sure that Eric Wedge is a good manager and I've supported him in the past, I wonder if there needs to be a shakeup and if the blame shouldn't fall on his shoulders. It's not just about inspiring, it's about managing. The great manager, when his guys are slumping, he yanks 'em to place a more effective hitter in the lineup. Torre does it. LaRussa does it. And to use an excuse like, "we're a young team" is crap. Martinez, Sizemore and Peralta are seasoned vets.

Instead of any sort of consistency, every night is a different lineup and no one is able to get into a rhythm. That's the way I see it from my end out here in California. I listen to just about every game and follow the gamecast on the Indians web site. Even the radio announcers sound defeated when they call the play by play.

Who is leading this clubhouse? That's what I really wonder. Who is the player in the trenches that acts as the captain? Who do thy draw inspiration from?

Last year I went on a similar rant and the Indians suddenly turned it around. I hope that happens this year. Alas, I just don't see the same spark and at 9 1/2 games back time may be running out.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I was so disheartened that I had left the room. But something told me to go back and watch the last second of this game. Something inside me said that I wouldn't want to miss a miracle if it actually happened. So back to the bedroom I went, where Sophie and Julie were laying in the bed and the TV was on. The Cavs had 1 second. ONE SECOND! They would have one chance to throw the ball in bounds and take a shot and there was only one person who should be handling the ball.

I'm still smiling. It was the most amazing feat I've seen in a very long time and the fact that it was happening for a Cleveland team and not against it was the kicker. Yeah, they blew another huge lead, but this kind of win can create momentum. Let's hope.

Gotta love Marv Albert's call at the buzzer.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I am nearly out from under the pile of DVD reviews I committed to reviewing for Popdose. One of them came out in April... zoinks. Basically I should be cranking these things out but I always want to go back and proof the reviews and revise what I've written. It's not like I'm writing some dumb blog or anything.

The thing is, we're trying to make Popdose something unique, which means doing my best as a writer. I know PR firms have to tell their clients how many reviews they've received, but since I'm not getting paid, I feel like they can cut me some slack. The worst thing that could happen is I don't get nay more DVD's to review and I have to spend all of my time working on the book. Actually, that would be a great thing.

I just want to get done with these reviews so I can focus on the book. I feel like I've hit a wall and I really need a kick in the ass to get back writing. I'm pretty frustrated with myself for slacking off after having such a good long run of consistent writing. It's my mindset that needs to be tweaked.

Anyway, it's late, our cat won't come in for the night so she gets to sleep outside again. I'm off to bed.


PS- I can't get the Keith Urban/Kris Allen version of Urban's "Kiss a Girl" from American Idol out of my head. Good song.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Julie has returned and we now go back to routine of normalcy until school lets out. Then , I don't know. I'm not going to lie and say that this summer is going to be easy. Without Julie working get regularly things are going to be T-I-G-H-T, tight. Man it would really help if something could get sold, but even if someone bought one of my scripts, the reality is that the money wouldn't be in the bank for months. So, we bite the bullet. We shall make ends meet as best as possible and hope that the fall brings better fortunes.

But hey, let's not all get down about this. We're not the only ones going through this, so I take some limited comfort in that. For some insane reason I am not gnawing off my fingernails over this. What is this feeling? Hope? Blind faith? Or perhaps I have just lost it.

Oh, and let me as this: I downloaded UB40's version of "Red Red Wine" from their greatest hits album ad it's the single version, sans the ska rap at the end. Who does that? Who puts out a greatest hits album and only included a truncated version of their most popular song? Frustrating. Almost makes me want to listen to Foreigner.


Altogether now...

"Red red wine!"


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Our neighbors, Dee and Larry, recently sold their house and will be moving a 1 1/2 acre home by the end of the summer. The reality of them leaving didn't begin to sink in until today when their daughter moved out of the house. Seeing the U Haul and boxes stacked up on the driveway made me a little sad. Dee and Larry have been in their house since we moved into our house. I'm not sure how close they are to any of the other neighbors, but I've always felt like our two families bonded nicely. I used to watch their dogs when they went on long vacations and one of their other daughters used to watch our cats.

You know the old cliche of the one neighbor always borrowing the guy across the street's tools? That was me always hitting up Larry for a weed whacker or some obscure tool. And Larry was always eager to give me what I needed and to lend a hand when I asked.

They're not gone yet, but it will be sad when they finally do pull away in their moving van.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Julie is now in Atlanta having left yesterday afternoon. It was quite a traumatic day for both of the kids. When you consider that Sophie has never been away from her mom for 10 years and Jacob for 7 years, there is bound to be some separation anxiety. However, they have been doing great today. I'm very proud of them. Today was also a minimum day at school, so I stayed home, too. The family picnic at the school took place at 11:45, so I had a couple of hours alone in the morning to do some writing, which I didn't do because I'm obsessed with my iPod.

My poor little iPod hates me. At least once a day I have the small device hooked up, trying to manipulate as much as I can out of the 8 gig drive. Just yesterday I realized that the jpegs I atach to each song actually suck up memory space. The iPod has been angry and shutting down. I must be nice to the iPod. I can not let the iPod crash on me.

Soon I will explain my obssesive compulive set list that I compiled to write the book. 500 songs, people. 500 songs! Who needs that much music? And why must each individual song contain the correct album artwork... from the original albums. Oh no, no "Greatest Hits" or "Best of" album coners for my iPod, I have to track down the original artwork.

I have finally put the thing to rest. I need to move on or I will go deeper into the wormhole.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, the kids are doing great. Everyone is doing great.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A sudden cold knocked me on my ass last week. All day Friday I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone and then I was slapped in the head with one "bad mother fu--m 'Shut your mouth!' Just talking 'bout" cold all day Saturday. At one point Saturday night, while trying to get to sleep, I coughed so hard it felt like someone took a knife, magnetized it, then picked up a hundred pins and shoved the deadly pin knife into my throat. Needless to say Mothers Day was a little disappointing. Oh, it wasn't disappointing for Jules; I believe she had a very nice day. It was disappointing because I was low on energy and couldn't do as much for as I had hoped.

Nevertheless, we did have some fun this weekend, taking in a Lancaster Jethawks minor league baseball game Saturday night and spending the afternoon Sunday with Budd and Karyn's family.

I haven't run since last Thursday and I'm not sure if I'll be up and jogging until after this weekend. Julie is leaving town to visit with her sisters in Atlanta for a long weekend (it's sister Michelle's birthday) and the last thing I want to do is be sick again while I'm being Mr. Mom. This trip of Julie's is a little nerve wracking. She has never been away from the kids... ever. While I have always left them to return home during vacations of fly back east for weddings or funerals, Julie has always been with Sophie and Jacob. I believe that the kids and Julie will do fines, but there will be a little adjusting that needs to happen. As for me, I'm kind of excited.

Work has been very busy as of late and I've fallen behind on my reviews for Popdose. I have a stack of DVD's to my right that are staring at me, demanding they get watched. Slowly I will get to them.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Man, the Indians are just KILLING me. 9 and 16? Their horrid defense and inability to hit with men in scoring position is crushing my heart.

I know, I know, it's early.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Last week I attended a couple panels at the LA Times Book Festival. The Festival itself was nice, but I'm not into the whole "walking from booth to booth and getting free stuff" thing. I've decided that I'm going to try and write a book and I wanted to hear from some authors writing in the same genre I'm trying.

The two panels were interesting, although I enjoyed the 1st panel much more. The authors on that panel were Robin Benway, Deb Caletti, Lauren Myracle and Lisa Yee. This particular panel was moderated by Cecil Castelluci, an author herself. The five women were quite animated and it was very interesting seeing their different personalities on stage. I came away from the panel with a couple nuggets of motivation that have kept me moving forward with my writing.

The second panel was fine, though a little stuffy. The moderator for that panel ran it much more traditionally by asking questions on down the row of authors. I liked the free form conversational style of the first. Much more relaxed.

As for my own book, I won't divulge the plot. If you dig around on the Internet, you know what genre I'm shooting for. I read once that when you are writing a book you shouldn't announce it to anyone until it's completed. I can understand this thinking but I tend to disagree. I'd rather make a proclamation that I'm doing this thing and have my friends and family hold me accountable. There's nothing more motivating than having someone ask "how's the book coming along?" I hate bullshitting people and to lie would make me feel like a loser. The only thing worse would be to say I haven't been working on it and offer some lame excuse like I've been too busy with Popdose.

Speaking of the Dose, one of the reasons I drew back from writing my weekly television column was because I wanted to focus on writing this book. I feel it was a good decision because I don't feel the pressure to come up with something every week (nor do I feel guilty when I miss a week). I realize I'm not getting paid, but I take the Popdose stuff pretty serious. In addition, it is still my goal to writ a new basement song for every week of the year this year. I still think I can do it.

It's funny, since I went to the festival, I've been motivated to keep my thoughts on Thunderbolt again. I hope that I've finally found the balance between what I'm writing at Popdose and what I want to share here.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm slowly coming back. You'll notice that I've finally update the Basement Songs links and added some new links to the section "Other Decent Writings" section. Somehow I've found the motivation to dive back into Thunderbolt and keep it running. Perhaps I won't create the same long winded entries like I did in the past, but I'm okay with that if you are. Right now, my focuses on writing will be aimed at Basement Songs and the book.

Yes, I am writing a book. It's a bit of an experiment that I'm trying and I will go into detail about sometime in the future. All I can say is that up until a few weeks ago, the book was actually "that thing I'm working on." Then I began to review the number of pages I had and suddenly realized, "Holy crap, this actually is turning into a book." This realization actually made me feel good and gave me some confidence that I didn't expect.

Still, it's an experiment and I'm not sure how it will turn out. But I'm excited about writing, which is a feeling I haven't had in a while (which may account for Thunderbolt being MIA).


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I ran again this morning and it was a decent 20 minute jog, non stop. After completing the run I decided I will try to work in three weekdays and a weekend morning. It feels good to be back out on the pavement and have an opportunity to listen to music and get lost in the thoughts of my book or what basement song I should write about.

Now if I could only get used to waking up at 5:30 AM.


Monday, March 09, 2009

This whole Twitter thing has got me all jittery, as if I'm supposed to be blabbering my thoughts on the Internet every 10 minutes or so. Do people really want to know when I'm sitting in the can taking a dump and what I'm reading there (usually Entertainment Weekly or Rolling Stone)? Sometimes I wonder if the whole Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Blogger thing has given the world TOO much information. Perhaps that's why it's been so hard to come up with something to say lately. I pour my heart into the Basement Songs and after that, I wonder, who gives a shit, Malchus?

I don't know. I do know that things have been hard with Jake these days. He's healthy, but there are some emotional things going on that bear down on us. I'm not going into the intimate details because Jake is 7 and that's not fair to air out what he's going through. But for me, it's just been like I walking that fine edge again, where I teeter between sanity and wanting to curl into a ball under my work desk and cry for a good ten or fifteen minutes. Unlike two years ago, I seem to have a handle on it. Plus, I've been writing, so that is giving me an avenue to express my emotions.

What have I been writing, you ask? Well, I finished the GD script I was working on for a good seven months. Man, did that one drain me. It's a dark story and I just started feeling like I didn't want to work in that corner of my mind right now. I committed myself to finishing it and that's what I did, albeit, two months later than I wanted.

So it's on to something I've been excited about doing for about five months and I'm feeling inspired. I'm not going to talk about what I'm doing because I don't want to ruin my mojo.

It’s strange to be trying to keep the blog regular again. I’m feeling out of practice, if that makes sense.


PS- Daylight Savings time? Can't we get rid of that already? It's killing me.

Friday, March 06, 2009

I need this pulpit to express my fears and anger. I need this pulpit to get out the feelings that are dragging me back to that dark place I was in a couple of years ago. I need this pulpit to work out the idea I have for a book or two. And I need this pulpit to stay sane.

Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael.


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Goodbye Ella, our cat, 1993-2009

Yesterday we decided to put down one of our cats, Ella. We had her for 15 years, ever since we moved into our first apartment in North Hollywood. Ella was adopted with her brother, Otis, and the cats traveled with us through three apartments and up to our house when we moved to Santa Clarita in 2001. Ella was never a friendly cat. She never let us pet her until about 3 years ago, and even then it was on her terms, usually when she was rubbing against your leg. Her brother was the affectionate cat. Otis used to jump on the couch and sit on your lap. Ella, well, she didn't like people. I used to call her skittish, but I really think she just didn't like human beings.

Ella and I had a strange relationship. She would meow whenever I came home, usually asking for food. Even though Julie would feed her, the cat still seemed to look to me for her meals. This drove me crazy. In fact, most of the things that Ella did drove me crazy and made me want to string the cat up. She destroyed an entire section of carpet at the doorway of Jacob's room by scratching it with her claws, like a scratching post. This despite the fact that she had a massive scratching post in the toy room all to herself. Actually, Ella had the whole house to herself. Doodle (our 3rd cat) was relegated to living outdoors after she urinated throughout the house causing us to have to buy all new carpeting. And Otis ran away about four years ago, never to be seen again.

About two years ago Ella developed intestinal problems that led to her defecating all over the house. On the carpet, on Sophie's bed, on the furniture, you name it, Ella probably left a surprise there. We bought her special food and this seemed to work for a while, but lately she had been getting much worse. It was for this reason that I took her to the vet yesterday. We wanted him to check to see if she had an apparent signs of disease. He proposed many tests to find out and he must have seen from the reaction on my face that the costs of those tests was just not something we could afford. Then he suggested saying "bye" to her.

Julie and I had spoken a couple of times about when it would be time to say goodbye to Ella and possibly put her down. Hearing the vet suggest this coarse of action was so... surreal. I called Julie and we grappled with the decision, however we ultimately decided that it was the best thing to do. The vet was very understanding and comforting. I was getting choked up while talking to Julie; I have never had to make a decision like this. After they took Ella into a back room, an assistant said he would get our cat carrier for me. As he opened the door to bring it back to me, I could see a couple of people holding Ella down on a table (otherwise she ould have bolted and scratched all of them) preparing to end her life. I went numb, I still kind of am. Driving home felt like a dream.

Later in the day, as I was cleaning her bowl and her litter box or the last time, I though, "Ella woke up today and just wanted some food. Then she wound up in the cat carrier and was taken to the vet. Then she was on a metal table. Then everything went black. She didn't expect this today." I never thought I would be sad about Ella leaving us, but the house does feel different without her. I feel a little different without that cat. Her presence is missing. I may not have loved her like I loved the other two cats, but she was still a part of our family.

The kids handled it pretty well. This was the second pet death in the past year. Budd and Karyn's dog, Sadie, passed away last year and Jake and Sophie were pretty sad. We used to watch Sadie when Budd and Karyn would leav town. During those weekends, I would always get frustrated because Sadie would eat Ella's special "don't shit on the carpet" food and Ella would eat Sadie's food that was filled with her numerous medications. Sadie had been a loving, friendly canine. Ella, on the other hand, had rarely paid any attention to the kids. So I was surpsised at how upset Jacob was. He cried for a bit. Sophie showed some tears, too, but she was philosophical about it.

"Dad, now Sadie can go back to eating Ella's food and Ella can eat Sadie's."

I hope that Ella, Otis and Sadie are all chasing each other. But knowing Ella, she's hiding under God's bed until the coast is clear to go scratch the carpet.

Rest in peace, Ella.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Eagle Boosters Trip of 1915 Pt. 2

The trip continues...

When my grandfather passed away in 1992, we brought many of his possessions back from Sarasota, Florida to our house in North Olmsted. At some point during the summer of '92, my siblings and I went through many of these things and were allowed to take some for ourselves. I can't recall exactly what I claimed, save for two items. The first was a yellow ceramic mug with peace symbols painted in rows that went all the way around the mug. I still use that mug and keep it on my work desk for coffee in the morning. The other item was a black photo album.

The pictures contained within that album document a cross country trip taken in 1915 by the Eagle Boosters Club, an organization from Cleveland, OH that my great grandfather, Frank Malchus, was a member of. The pictures, 226 in all, are a fading, fascinating document of a time long ago. Here are those pictures, in order from the book, with the original captions written below. I hope you enjoy them.

6. Calvary practice at the U.S. Reserve, Chattanooga.
(you have to look real close to see the horses in silhouette and the dust clouds-SM)

7. General Mike McGinty.

8. General Mike McGinty and his staff.

9. General head-quarters and command of the army of the Cumberland.

10. View of East Lake from Missionary Ridge, Look-Out Mountain in the distance.

Super Bowl

This year I have no real interest in the Super Bowl except for Springsteen and the Band. I hope that they do play one of the new songs, if only to prove the naysayers wrong and to show how well those songs will hold up in the set lists. It's been a rough week and I hope that the Boss is able to inspire us and the nation. At a time when everyone I know seems to be struggling, it will be nice to hear the words that have kept me going for so many years.

I cleaned the office today and that is always a depressing chore. It's not the cleaning but having to sift through the pages and pages of unrealized story ideas. It's tough piling up 20 years worth of material and saying to yourself, "I may never write that one." That said, I have three or four projects that I really must write, in some form, within the next two years. One is a romantic comedy for Julie based on an idea that she gave me. The second is something I want to call "Cuyahoga" which draws on many of the events in my life during the summers working for the North Olmsted Maintenance crew (fictionalized). Finally, I would like to write a pseudo memoir from the summer of '92. I have a journal from that summer that goes up until I started dating Julie.

Everything else is just filler.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Eagle Boosters Trip of 1915 pt. 1

When my grandfather passed away in 1992, we brought many of his possessions back from Sarasota, Florida to our house in North Olmsted. At some point during the summer of '92, my siblings and I went through many of these things and were allowed to take some for ourselves. I can't recall exactly what I claimed, save for two items. The first was a yellow ceramic mug with peace symbols painted in rows that went all the way around the mug. I still use that mug and keep it on my work desk for coffee in the morning. The other item was a black photo album.

The pictures contained within that album document a cross country trip taken in 1915 by the Eagle Boosters Club, an organization from Cleveland, OH that my great grandfather, Frank Malchus, was a member of. The pictures, 226 in all, are a fading, fascinating document of a time long ago. Here are those pictures, in order from the book, with the original captions written below. I hope you enjoy them.

1. The Eagle Boosters' arrival at Columbus, O., Aug. 3rd, 1915.

2. Same as number one.

3. The Boosters' arrival at Chattanooga, Tenn.

4. Leaving on a sight seeing tour of Chattanooga.

5. Brother McGinty buying peaches for the party on the road to
Missionary Ridge.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I miss our newspaper. Just before the holidays I cancelled our subscription to the LA Times for budgetary reasons. I know we can get all of the news that's fit to read over the Internet, but I miss having the morning paper waiting for me and having something to read while I slurp down bowls of cereal before my morning shower. What I miss most is watching Sophie looking up the weather and baseball scores. Our mornings feel a little empty without this ritual. Baseball season is several months away. Hopefully I can sell a script or something before April and we can start up our newspaper deliveries again.
Watched "The Wrestler" tonight, starring Mickey Rourke in a tender performance as a man who knows only one thing and he lets that thing, wrestling, control his life. Even after he is told to give up the sport (because of a heart attack) he dreams of the ring and the life he had. Rourke is heartbreaking and funny and reminds us what a great actor he can be. As much as I loved his performance, I was just as impressed with Marisa Tomei as the love interest. This was the first role I've seen her in in a long time that felt real; natural. The script had all the hallmarks of a cliched "Rocky" type movie (stripper with a heart of gold, abandoned daughter who hates her long lost dad), but the writer and director Darren Aronofsky used those cliches as starting points and tried to take the story in a different direction than what you'd expect.

This is a great movie. And it had Springsteen's sensational title song that plays over the end credits.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bring back Mario Cipollina!

Watching Taylor Swift tonight on Saturday Night Live, I was distracted by the bass player gyrating behind her. I'm sorry, I know you're into the music, but it's not your job to take the focus of the musical number away from the cute teenager singing her heartbreak song on television. Ever since Flea became a household name, bass players in bands have decided that they, too, must act like lead bass player in their bands. Sorry, but there's only one Flea. Give it up wannabe's.

Tony Kanal, sure, he's an integral part his band, but some session dude hired to backup Taylor Swift, give me a break. Bring back the days of Mario Cipollina and Danny Klein when the bass players stood in the back, looked cool, usually with a cigarette dangling from the mouth (or in the case of Duck Dunn, a pipe).

You don't see drummers going all wild behind their kits, do ya?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sophie

The day is done and I'm about to head to bed. It's been an emotional 12 hours as we've been packing and saying goodbye to relatives.

However, despite how busy I've been, I need to take a moment to say Happy Birthday to my baby girl who turns 10 today.

Anyone who tells you that time flies by when you have kids isn't lying. I look at our daughter and I see an incredible human being who is maturing and becoming brighter everyday. I look forward to what the next ten years brings and what she accomplishes in that time.

Happy Birthday, Sophie.