Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31st, 2010

So, it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m now in Las Vegas. My brother-in-law is in the tremendous line to check into our shared room here at the Sahara, and luckily, we have a bench of couches to hang out on until he gets through the endless line. After that, I’m not sure what we’ll do. Check into our room, then watch my brother and -in-law scope out the Blackjack and Texas Hold’em tables. I don’t have much money to burn on something like that, especially since I’m not a lucky gambler, but it will be fun to see how much they win. Look, if they can enjoy watching me sing karaoke (and it’s possible that they don’t), then I can enjoy watching them win money.

So, who knows how long I have to sit here, entertaining myself? I’m sure I can come up with something to say (maybe even write a story idea), but I don’t know how much I want to. Life is funny. Last week, I had a job, I had (at least the prospect of) some kind of romance, and my car seemed at least capable of getting me where I wanted to go. But I haven’t driven it since Sunday, and it has a little more trouble starting every time I try.

My Uncle John has been trying to help me find a new (used) car, and we did look at one yesterday (I think it was a Nissan Sentra, but I can no longer remember). It seemed nice, and was certainly cheap. The owner had her driver’s license taken away, and couldn’t make the payments on it, so she was trying to unload it for what she still owed. John seemed much more interested in her than in her car last night, but since it was dark and the roads were terrible, so we didn’t see it in favorable circumstances, at least not enough to know if there were problems with it, or if it was the icy, crappy road. We didn't make a decision on whether to buy it or not, and it was so cold that I couldn't think anyway.

I'll talk to him on that when I get back, but my sister had come up with the idea to go to Vegas for New Year's a week or so back, and I told her if I wasn't working, I'd definitely go. Well, even though I was previously scheduled, I'm not working, so I was happy to come along with her and my brother-in-law. She invited my brother, and then we were four. And my other sister was invited but bowed out, only to change her mind at the last minute, and bring along our cousin (who brought along a friend of hers). So, our original group of three is now a group of seven, but somebody somewhere said that was a lucky number, so we'll see.

Because this was such a last-minute thing, we didn't have a lot of choice when it came to hotels, and every place in town skyrockets their rates for a holiday weekend like this. But we decided that we could get a room at the Stratosphere and split it between us, thus being able to afford it. And when my sister was checking on prices, she saw that the Sahara was even cheaper than the Stratosphere (and a block or so apart), so we picked that one instead.

I had been taught that the temperature usually rises when it snows, and have been under that misconception for decades, apparently, because even though it was eighteen degrees out, snow started to fall (at an angle, since there was a chilly wind blowing it into our faces and windshield). The roads were insanely snowy and icy (there was a twenty or thirty mile stretch where the hick county hadn't appeared to plow the roads since the Bronze Age, and I had to creep along with tight fists on the wheel driving in the trail made by the big trucks that had gone before. Once we reached a section where people had actually plowed and salted the road, however, I was able to drive a decent speed again. My sister went to sleep, and I had the first-ever real conversation with my brother-in-law as we talked about movies and which actors were overpaid or underrated. I wouldn't have ever guessed we could talk for hours like that, but it was a nice surprise.

Despite the snow and cold, we somehow survived to arrive in Nevada, where the weather is only marginally better. They're shutting down several of the freeway exits for tonight's festivities, which slowed traffic substantially, but by the time my sister gets here in my cousin's car, it'll probably take forever just to get to the hotel.

So, now we are in our room, a small, Strip-facing room with two double beds and hard, iron-burned carpet floors, and a television the size of a TV dinner. I brought a sleeping back, and we're talking about pushing the two beds together to make one gigantic colossal bed, but my brother and I will probably volunteer to sleep on the floor if there's no room.

The Sahara was built in 1952, and while that makes it historical, it's also a real dump. There's no ice machine on our floor, the elevator in the parking garage doesn't work, the outlets are strange in that if you plug something into one it falls out on its own, and the Pepsi machine just ate my sister's two dollars. Even so, now that there's seven of us, it will be cheap enough I can gamble and eat and let my hair down without worrying that I'm being irresponsible.

Our room overlooks the Strip, though our view is blocked by the buildings next to us, and we found that the windows actually open out (we’re on the fourteenth floor, plenty high to jump from), but don’t entirely close, and the amazing thing is that Vegas is actually really cold right now, around thirty-eight degrees. My cousin told me it's the coldest New Year's Eve on record, in a place I always automatically imagine as swelteringly hot.

We plan on going down now into the casino and seeing what they've got. My brother and -in-law are really itching to do some gambling, so my sister and I will either watch or participate. Around eleven or eleven-fifteen, we plan on walking out on the Strip and watching fireworks and doing the big countdown thing. The cold might make that less pleasant, though, so we can ask if they're counting down inside as well.
I’ve no idea what tonight is going to bring, but it should be interesting, if not a lot of fun, to walk up and down the Strip, watching people drink and dry-hump, smelling people smoke . . . and dry-hump.

I’ll keep you posted. Ish.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Stupid Thing of Christmas Morning

My niece got a bunch of makeup in her stocking this year, and while everyone else went into the kitchen to work on breakfast, she got out what she thought was lipstick and stuck it on her lips.

Turns out it was nail polish.

Kudos on whomever got a nine year old a makeup kit!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas

I am knee-deep in melancholy this lonely Christmas Eve. It's odd that it would befall me so, since I've been in better spirits these last few weeks, working a lot of hours at a job I do not loathe that appears I have not yet been tossed out of,* but darned if I wasn't overcome with a bout of peanut-butter-thick unhappiness this afternoon and evening, weighing me down like an overweight conjoined twin.

I'm not entirely sure what brought it on. Perhaps it was the realization that the holiday has arrived, and my situation has not improved. Perhaps it was the anxiousness in my coworkers as they awaited their time to go home so they could be with their families, lovers, or Christmas parties. Perhaps it was that darn Eagles song that I heard (and sang along to) twice today, or that my car refused to start yesterday and this afternoon, or that the sky was grey and overcast even at two p.m.. Or maybe it's because the lass I fancy at work was there today, chatting it up with others, and giving me a rather significant miss.

I did try to engage her in conversation once (I believe one onlooker was quoted as saying, "Oh, the humanity!"), and asked her what time she was off. When she told me, I suggested she come by my desk before she took off, and I'd either declare my undying love for her or wish her a Happy Christmas. Either/or.

Hey, I thought it was charming. But life has certainly taught me that whatever I think is cute, clever, charming, creative, classy, or cool . . . is probably the opposite. To drive home my point, she did wish people plenty of Joyeux Noel, but walked on by me with nary a wave. Sigh.

Could that be it? Am I really thirteen years old again?

Or twenty-two?

Or Thirty?

"Sigh," if I haven't already said it.

Alrighty then, I've two options:
1. Wallow. Wallow like the swine that I wish I had the chesthair and testosterone to be. Turn on the Jeff Buckley and Aimee Mann, and imagine the sweet embrace of a cold and abandoned grave.
or 2. Do something to improve my mood. Something that'll make me smile. Something that'll engage my mind, entertain my kidneys, warm my cockles.

But what?

How about I write up this happy crappy in my blog, and send a couple emails, and wrap some presents, and see if I can't pull out of this barrel-roll before I pull a Jek Porkins on the surface of the Death Star?

Mmmm, STAR WARS. That makes me happy.

What else?

Oh yeah. This has delighted me for years:


Also, every Christmas Eve, my friend Jeff has a tradition of watching his favorite holiday movie. I believe he makes his wife sit through it too, whether she wants to or not. What a great tradition.

So, in honor of him (and it), I bring you this:


Rish "Zuzu's Petals" Outfield

P.S. "What's Christmas but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer? If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!"

*Little did I know when typing this, but I'd be laid off (over the phone) two days later.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stupid Thing of the Week

So, Big and I got together this week to talk about his trip to Southern California. We started slow, but then really got into the spirit of it, making fun of Californians, his children, our old age, the Disney corporation, Big's girth, his wife's name, mannequins with boob jobs, the ill-conceived update of Disneyland rides, Demi Lovato's recent trip to rehab, my own Disneyland experiences, and joking about the sort of thing you'd never want to hear someone in a Goofy costume say.

It would later prove regrettable that, during the middle of our conversation, I got up to go to the bathroom while Big paused the recording. A moment later, we started back up again, really getting into the swing of things. Man, it was some of our best stuff ever, and Big was actually crying from laughter toward the end (I don't know if that had ever happened before, in all our times doing podcasts). We got to the end of the two hour show, content that we had created something quite magical . . . when Big discovered something truly awful . . .

Unfortunately, the pause button was somehow still on from more than an hour before, when we'd stopped for a break and to look up the name of an obscure Disney character. All of that material was lost.

It was a bummer, and something we've had happen before (though not exactly under those circumstances). Big was really upset about it, and required that we walk three miles in the middle of a chilly December night to cool down. Afterward, we did attempt to recreate that conversation, and recorded another hour or so on the same subject, but it wasn't quite the same, and a lot of the inspiration had faded. Ah well.

Rish "UnPaused" Outfield

Karaoke final

So, you ever see that one "South Park" episode where Stan coaches a pee week hockey team, and in the end, they accidentally get into a match against the Detroit Red Wings and are annihilated? Well, the final night of the karaoke competition was a lot like that.

People really brought their A-games, wearing costumes, bringing props, using entourages, and going above and beyond the call of doodie.* I guess I complained about it last week, but it wasn't just a friendly night out for singing and imbibing to a lot of the folks, but some kind of heated tournament with real stakes.

I did quite badly on my turn, actually. I didn't really know the song, and it fell apart at the end, and that's a bummer because I'd like to have known I did the absolute best I could do (but the DJ said I couldn't do the song I wanted to since I'd used that in one of the qualifying rounds), even though I hadn't a prayer of winning.

I don't know, I'm a bit sworn off of doing these little contests again for the time being, and will probably only go if it's a pressure-free evening of crooning with inebriated buddies. That's what karaoke was meant to be, anyway.

Rish "Sore Loser" Outfield

*One guy even went so far as to dress in a Lady Gaga costume, complete with pasties over his hairy, hairy nipples. Yeah.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

X-mas present

My mom bugged me the other day that she still had nothing to give me for Christmas (what do you get for the guy who has everything but love, confidence and a future?), and it came to me: a microphone that doesn't sound like I'm recording from a caved-in Chilean mine shaft. Hopefully my voice will be annoying you much more clearly in 2011.

Rish "Static Reverb" Outfield

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You Read Any Good Books Lately?

My generous friend Jeff sent me this link, knowing it was just what I've been looking for. Perhaps it can help you too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Karaoke Smackdown

Big and I haven't done much podcasting lately, and the last time we talked, I told him I was bummed out about that, because I've been participating in a multi-tiered karaoke contest the last few weeks, and it would've been fun to give him an update every week on TGMG. Our two listeners could thrill to me describing the events of each night, what I sang, and if I was moving on to the next round.

But ah well, life's the thing that happens to you when you're out of toilet paper. Or something like that.

So, I somehow made it to the final round of this karaoke contest, despite getting sick and losing a lot of my voice last weekend (I figured they took pity on me and gave me points for giving it my all even when raspy. Either that, or I really am that good). The whole shebang was pretty fun, but somewhere in there (probably these last two rounds), it started become less about having a good time and singing a song and more about competition, about defeating the others, about being better-than.

I'm not good with that.

Nerves started to prod at me, I started to feel guilty for not practicing, and even found myself disappointed when it was all over and I wasn't one of the winners.*

It's weird, because I absolutely hate those bleeding hearts that say kids can't play Tag or Kootie or Tic-Tac-Toe because there might be a loser, you shouldn't pick teams 'cause someone might get their feelings hurt, or that it's wrong to keep score during Little League. Those same douchebags probably declare it unconstitutional to block cellphone signals in movie theaters, so the girl sitting next to us during HARRY POTTER wouldn't blind us every minute and a half sending or receiving text messages. Boo hoo.

A contradiction, it would seem, but there was definitely less a spirit of "You go, girl!" going on in the end, and more of a "You stay away from my man, ho."

Maybe that's the way of things, the way of the Force, but I don't know. There were a lot of competitors, and the way the contest was structured, it was difficult to prepare for. For this round, we got to pick our category (Rock, Country, R&B, or Alternative), then we had to draw a number out of a hat on our turn. That number corresponded to a song that we had to then sing, with no practice or preamble. Or do-overs. You know it's rough when you see a fifty-year old dude singing "Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac, or a smalltown librarian singing "Cum On Feel the Noize." People, however (for the most part), were really supportive, and complimentary of my singing, so that's cool.

One of the actual winners of the night is a guy I've always liked, both in song choices and personality. I and my female companion chatted him up for a moment during the show, when he got there a couple hours into the program (turns out he's an actual musician and arrived late because of a gig with his band). He leaned in and told her, "Hey, you're way cute," then leaned back out and said, "Hey, you two aren't married or together or anything, are you?" It struck me as both a Han Solo smooth and Southern California dickish thing to do, and I'll be honest and admit I was relieved when he went home with the woman who won Second Place at the end of the evening.

Now that it's over, I can't help but scrutinize my own performance on Friday night, and that's another aspect of competition that's just no fun. There's one last round of the finals I'm all worried about, but I can't come up with a song that's a) popular enough and b) one within my singing range to guarantee me a place in the winner's circle. I'll keep thinking about it, though. Wish me luck.

Rish "El Perdedor" Outfield

*You'd think I'd be used to that, huh?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Stupid Thing follow-up

So, I mentioned the white woman made up to look like a black woman from yesterday, and it vexed me for a little while. I'll be honest, I've never really understood what was so icky about blackface. You see the Al Jolsen stuff from time to time, or Eddie Cantor or Bugs Bunny in the makeup sometimes (I even recall seeing a movie where Shirley Temple wore blackface for a song, but I could be insane), and I understand that it's offensive to African Americans today, but I don't really know why.

Is it because it's perceived as mocking the black man? Is it because those originally in blackface were perpetuating racial stereotypes that aren't acceptable today? Or is it because in those days, blacks weren't allowed to perform, and the white man dressed up in this costume as a way to keep the black man in his place?

Of course, I'm one of those guys who thinks that somebody's intentions are the most important factor in whether people should be offended or not, but race is such an inflammatory issue that it's difficult to tell. I'm white, so I may not be able to understand by design. And it could be that people are okay with it as long as it's not a pitch-skin, huge wig, big red mouth kind of thing, like in the old minstrel shows.

After all, audiences laughed along when Robert Downey Jr. did his character in TROPIC THUNDER, and when Fred Armissen plays Barack Obama on "Saturday Night Live," nobody cries foul.

And when this performer came out last night and started up her song, I expected to hear howls of outrage, or at least snickers of "That ain't cool, man." But there was nothing. People seemed to be into it.

So maybe the problem is mine. Maybe I got offended on somebody else's behalf, that thing I complain about other people doing all the time, with a clenched jaw and fists of both hands. Say it with me, folks: I've become what I most despise.

Rish "Greenface" Outfield

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Stupid Thing of the Week

I've been participating in a karaoke competition the last couple of weeks, singing my lil heart out and (somehow) moving on to the next round. I haven't really felt the need to talk about it in my blog, since it doesn't seem to be the sort of thing people would find interesting.

But yesterday, somebody thought it would be cool to perform a Whitney Houston song . . . in blackface.

Yeah.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Impressive, Most Impressive

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is the best of the STAR WARS movies. It also made the least amount of money, but that matters not.

The director of EMPIRE, Irvin Kershner, died this week at the age of eighty-seven. He had lung cancer.I went to a convention earlier this year where Kersh was supposed to appear. But he was too ill, and had been hospitalized, in fact, but recorded a greeting for the audience. It seemed pretty apparent he wouldn't be around much longer.

But EMPIRE will be.

You know, George Lucas made it clear, early on in his career, that he neither enjoyed writing nor directing movies, that his joy was in the editing room. So it makes no sense he would've deviated from that for them gorram Prequels. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is the film he had the least amount of influence and impact on (not to say that Lucas shouldn't get credit for the film in the end), and who knows how much of the greatness of that movie should be laid on Kershner's doorstep?

Or Kasdan's? Or Kurtz's?

There's no knowing, but as the man has passed away, let's take this opportunity to thank him for TESB, and how much of an impact it made on our childhoods.

I met Irvin Kershner once, a few years ago, and listened to him speak about the making of the film. There were so many questions and so much he could've talked about that the hour allotted wasn't nearly enough.

After the screening, he had a little autograph session in the lobby. I took this picture when he signed my EMPIRE poster, and was immediately censored by the theater staff. Apparently, it was okay to talk to the man, ask for him to sign something, but not to take his picture. Hmmm.At that convention this year, Kersh expressed his disappointment at not being able to make it out to talk and sign autographs. He offered to sign anything anybody sent him if they didn't mind paying the postage. That struck me as pretty generous, or at least that he was a guy who really appreciated his fans.

You do the same, when you're rich and famous, won't you?

Rish

Sunday, November 28, 2010

...and don't call me Shirley

This afternoon, I started up the next disc in my NetFlix queue, the first episode of the Boris Karloff-hosted "Thriller" TV series. The premiere episode was called "The Twisted Image" and it starred Leslie Nielsen as a businessman who is pursued (hounded, really) by an attractive young girl who may have less than honorable intentions toward him. As I watched it, I thought about Nielsen's career, and how he spent so many years as a serious actor, only to have it all change in 1980's AIRPLANE!, and be considered a comedic actor ever since. I wondered how old a man he must be today, then went on with the programme.Well, it didn't really surprise me tonight when I turned on my news reader and found that Leslie Nielsen died today at the age of eighty-four.

While a couple of his recent movies were less than palatable, his role as Frank Drebin in the "Police Squad!" series and films would be enough to endear him to me forever, not to mention CREEPSHOW, AIRPLANE!, FORBIDDEN PLANET, and SCARY MOVIE 3. Heck, I even liked DRACULA DEAD & LOVING IT.
He brought me a lot of laughs, and I hope you feel the same.

Lt. Rish Drebin, Police Squad

Friday, November 26, 2010

Where You Eat

At work today I met a lovely new employee, cute as the night is long, but with one of those ugly first names that you can't really imagine a pretty girl having (plus, it's the last name of one of my friends, so that's even worse). But I took a shine to her immediately, and even though I know sod-all about women, I interacted with her as much as humanly possible during my endless shift today.

At lunch, we happened to both be in the breakroom at the same time (either by coincidence, or by way of me somehow arranging for my sister to bring me food twenty-five minutes after my scheduled lunch time so that we'd end up in there together), and I chatted her up a bit more, while I could. There were a couple other dudes in there at the same time (including the guy with the atrocious Boston accent, who's she's probably sleeping with as I type this), and I thought all of us were conversing pleasantly and innocuously.

After the new girl got up to go back to work, one of the dudes (not the accented one) put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Don't shit where you eat, man."

I thought that was pretty funny because:
A) I'd never met this guy before this week,
2) The phrase has always been vulgarly hilarious to me,
and C) Because he picked up on my obviously un-subtle interest.

Anyway, just thought I'd mention it.

Stupid Thing of the Week

Friggin' bastards at Fox announced this week they're going to reboot "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Without Joss Whedon.

Never, sirs. Never.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stupid Thing of the Week

So, there's a jagoff at work with the crappiest (and least-convincing) Boston accent, always saying stuff like "Theh ah fahv cahts in the pahking lot" and always having to repeat himself over the walkie-talkie . . . because nobody really speaks like that. Well, we were working the other day and somebody mentioned his name, and I said, "Which one is he? The one with the terrible way of talking?" One of the others said, "No way, his accent is cool!" I said, "That's not an accent, it's an embarrassing speech impediment." And the other two guys said nothing, but were looking past me.

Yep, just like in every single sitcom you've ever seen, he was standing right behind me.

There was an embarrassing moment when I turned and got no clarification of how much he had heard, but I quickly remembered pressing work that needed to be done elsewhere, and slipped away. The rest of the guys probably had a good chuckle about it, though.

But hey, don't feel too bad for Mumbly McRed Sox . . . all the girls at work think the way he speaks is sexy. Ohhhhhh yeah.

Rish "Chandler Bing" Outfield

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Stupid Thing of the Week (sorta)

So, I went out to the local karaoke bar with my sister and brother-in-law last night. I only got to sing two songs, and it was sort of Country night (it seemed), so I chose "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" as my second song, doing both the Toby Keith and Sting parts.

Nobody cared.

My sister seems to absolutely hate beer (a loathing we share), but her husband drank eight bottles and then shared a full pitcher with a Samoan man, which impressed/intimidated me.* My brother-in-law Dave told me he'd never gotten up and sang before, and that he was going to do so then, but he told my sister to pick a song for him. She did, and he told her not to let him know what it was until it started.

That struck me as incredibly brave. I couldn't do that--as much as I enjoy karaoke, I would be terrified it was a song I didn't know or couldn't sing. I quickly scribbled "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison on a scrap of paper and gave it to the DJ in case Dave was stumped. It was the most protective I'd ever felt toward my sister's husband

Well, when his turn came, Dave got up there, and the music began . . . and sure enough, it was a song he didn't know. So my point is made there. Luckily, his Samoan pal jumped on the other microphone and helped him through it (I suppose all Pacific Islanders know Eagles songs).

But the thing I really wanted to mention was this: at one point, an old woman got up and began crooning a Tammy Wynette song.

A middle-aged woman came up to me and said, "That lady singing is my mother. It would mean a lot to her if you'd get up and dance with me during her song." Well, I figured that was fine, the least I could do as a empirically lonely and self-proclaimed nice guy. We danced our dance (which was a little odd, since there was not another soul out there on the dance floor, plus I dance like a pro wrestler does Shakespeare), and when the song ended, I went back to my table.

One of Dave's buddies came up to me and said, "You just got played, dawg. That ain't her mother, that's just a line she feeds guys to get them to dance with her."

Well played, madam. Well played.

Rish "Ron Got Splinched" Outfield

*What's worst is that he passed out on the couch right after we got home, but STILL got up before me the next morning.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don't Talk To Strangers

"How come you never learned the golden rule:
Don't talk to strange men, don't be a fool?"


So, I got off work the other night and got in my car to drive home. I saw a female coworker on her way to her place . . . on foot. It was one of the last non-freezing nights of the year, but even I pulled over and asked if she was walking home. She said she was going to the bus stop.

I offered her a ride home, and she hesitated a moment before saying okay and getting in my car. Of course I murdered her and left her out in the desert. It's just my way.

No, actually, I took her a mile or so to her apartment complex and dropped her off, and that was it. But on the way home, I did think about what kind of a decision the girl had to make. She didn't really know me, but she sort of needed a ride. It wasn't cold out, but it wasn't balmy either. Maybe I have a trustworthy face, but maybe I liked to eat young women and wear their skin like a cape.

I couldn't help but think that the poor girl had to ask herself, in the second before she got in or told me to drive on, "Is this guy going to rape me if I get in his car? Or merely kill me? Do I have my pepper spray? What if this guy isn't a killer or a rapist, but is going to want something in return for giving me a ride? What if he asks me out at the end of our drive? What if he deliberately goes the wrong way; would I be able to get out of the car in time? What if he puts on an Air Supply tape and starts singing 'All Out of Love' as we drive?"

It bums me out that I live in a world where the girl might have thought any one of these things. Seems like it might be rough to be a young female on her own, especially one without a car.

But I still feel sorrier for myself, don't get me wrong.

Rish "I Sense A Topic For 'That Gets My Goat'" Outfield

Friday, November 05, 2010

Dead Fish Aren't Much Fun

I had the two year old overnight one day this week, because his parents were partied out and needed a break. I told him that if he was good, we'd go to the pet store and get fishies.

Well, I don't remember if he was good or not, but I wanted fish, so we went anyway. There are several pet stores in town, for some reason, and we went to the one that has . . . you guessed it, turtles. They had huge ones, fully grown Red Eared Sliders like mine, and the boy kept reaching in and pulling them out. I'd tell him to put them back, go to the fish section, and he'd be back at the turtle tank, risking fingertips to heft them into the open air.

Finally, I had to scoop him up and carry him into the fish display (and this was after four or five times of taking the turtles out). I bought four fish, all cichlids, and I let the child pick them out. I let him carry the bag back to my place, put the bag in the aquarium, and later open the bag to mix in the fish.The problem with my fish is that they can be very aggressive and/or territorial, and I've lost thrice as many fish to attacks and cannibalism than to disease, old age, and escape.

So it didn't surprise me when, a few minutes later, I heard my nephew make a sad sound. I was typing away the computer, but called, "What's wrong?"

"This fish dead," he said, coming into the room.

"Oh crap," I said, "Did one die already?"

"This dead," he said again.

"In the fishtank? Did the other fish kill it?"

"No, this fish," he said, and I looked over. He had it in his hand. His whole shirt was soaked. Apparently, he'd taken it out of the tank himself and held it until it stopped flopping around.

And he was right, it was dead.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Don't Upset the Ghosts

Big and I got together to record stories and podcast episodes this Monday, and long before Religion and Politics reared their ugly, veiny, throbbing heads, we had what should've been a more interesting experience.

Apparently, something we said or one of my jokes upset a spirit, because it threw a potted plant across the kitchen during our recording. My back was to it, and though I didn't know what it was, I remember stiffening, and every hair on my head (and elsewhere) standing straight up.

Big and I were silent for a moment as adrenaline turned us into 'roid rage bodybuilder-types. We then apologized to the ghost/poltergeist (is a poltergeist different than a ghost, or is it just a mischievous spirit?), and continued recording.

Later, we cleaned up the mess, still chuckling about the weird experience. Luckily, Big's wife can sleep through anything (except for my speaking voice), so she didn't stir, but wow, it scared me something fierce.

It's a shame it had to happen at Big's house, though, and not my uncle's House of the Dead. Wasted opportunity, that.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Top Five Pixar Flicks (Redux)

A long time ago, before the podcast took up so much of my time, I used to send out requests for Top Five lists. It's been a while, but with the release of TOY STORY 3 today, I figured I'd bring it back. What are peoples' Top Five Pixar Flicks?

Mine would be:
1. FINDING NEMO
2. WALL-E
3. UP
4. TOY STORY
5. MONSTERS INC.


Bigglesby was the first to respond (which is only fitting, since he loves Pixar even more than that Lasseter guy does), so he gave the following complete list:
1. NEMO
2. WALL-E
3. TOY STORY
4. MONSTERS INC.
5. THE INCREDIBLES
6. UP
7. TOY STORY 3
8. CARS
9. A BUG'S LIFE
10. TOY STORY 2
11. RATATOUILLE


Jeff sent this list in mere seconds after Big did:
1. The Incredibles
2. Up
3. Finding Nemo
4. Cars
5. Monsters Inc.

My Evil Cousin Ryan wrote:
The Incredibles
Toy Story 2
Wall-E
Finding Nemo
Monsters Inc


Lizanne Herd chimed in:
1. UP
2. Toy Story
3. Monsters, Inc.
4. A Bug's Life
5. Ratatouille


My Cousin-In-Law Marissa voted for:
1- The Incredibles
2- Toy Story
3- Cars
4- Finding Nemo
5- Toy Story 3


Sudden Death Nicole said, wondering why I would bother her with this:
1. finding nemo
2. ratatouille
3. the incredibles
4. wall-e
5. up


Abbie Hilton voted in:
WALL-E
UP
Finding Nemo
Ratatouille
Monsters Inc.


Renee Chambliss provided:
1. Ratatouille
2. Toy Story 2
3. Finding Nemo
4. Monsters Inc.
5. Up and Wall-E (tie)


Not-yet-corrupt lawyer Ian sent me:
1. Incredibles
2. Up
3. Finding Nemo
4. Toy Story 2
5. Wall-E


And last, my old buddy Rhett wrote:
1. CARS
2. FINDING NEMO
3. TOY STORY 2
4. TOY STORY 3
5. TOY STORY


The winners were

1. FINDING NEMO
2. THE INCREDIBLES
3. UP
4. WALL-E
5. TOY STORY
I guess it's telling that every single Pixar flick got a mention on somebody's list. Cool. But I find it strange that TOY STORY 3 came in dead last, and it was the best movie I saw this year.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

...And, on cold, lonely nights like this one, if you listen carefully . . . you can still hear my uncle's wife complaining.

My uncle absolutely could not stay at home for Halloween, giving out treats to the scores of children that don't even live in the neighborhood, but had been brought to his block by sus padres to partake of free candy. No, to Uncle John, Halloween is a special day. Knowing that I feel the same, he came over and forced me to go out with him, trying to find some activity for the Greatest Night of the Year.

I was a bit melancholy, and was fine to spend the evening in front of the computer, listening to Echo & The Bunnymen until the cyanide took its toll, but he said we were going out--him, his child bride, and me--to find something fun, whether it was the "haunted" trainride, or a "haunted" house, or a "haunted" corn maze, or just driving around listening to Katy Perry and Ke$ha on the world's worst radio station.

So, we loaded into his car and began the latter activity, trying to decide what to do. Child Bride complained that it was getting late, and that everything we'd suggested sounded lame, especially the trainride, which is what John and I were leaning toward. John is too big (and apt to punch someone) for us to go on one of those haunted mazes or spook houses, and I don't want to ever go in one again unless a skittish female is by my side. We drove out of town toward the train station, but Child Bride complained that they didn't have the money for that sort of thing. That's probably true, since John is really hurting for money, to the point where he borrowed Halloween decorations from me to put in front of his house, and instead of giving children candy, he'd let each of them look in his young wife's underwear drawer.But I remembered that a local theatre troupe was performing an adaptation of "Dracula" up at the old mental hospital, and when I mentioned it to John, he proclaimed it the greatest suggestion of all time. He practically wrenched the wheel, speeding through town toward it.

We parked and went all the way up a hill on foot, which Child Bride complained was difficult to do in her Batgirl costume, more than an hour before the show was scheduled to start. Trouble is, it was sold out. Child Bride complained, not wanting to see a dumb old play. But John really wanted to, so we got on the Stand-By list. Child Bride needed to be explained what Stand-By means, and complained that it was like gambling.

Then we sat down and waited. There were a few names ahead of us on the Stand-By list, but if people didn't show up, we'd probably get in. We were outdoors, and it had been raining that day, and Child Bride complained that it was cold. And you know, she totally had a point on that one, but I thought that because it was bad weather, that might mean people wouldn't show up to see the play and we'd get in. Child Bride complained that we had to wait nearly an hour to get in (if we got in). That too is a valid complaint, I suppose, but John put his arm around her and tried to keep her warm, and got out his i-phone and brought up a video game that he put on there for his daughter, to keep Child Bride occupied.

Which reminds me, to provide mood and atmosphere while people waited to get into the play, there was a violinist dressed as a European peasant who played Romanian/Russian/Transylvanian/Elfman-type music on the instrument. It might have been a fiddle, I don't know, but Child Bride complained that he wasn't very good. John and I felt the opposite, though, and thought that it provided creepy entertainment while we waited. I still think it was a brilliant thing for the troupe to do.

The doors opened for seating to begin. All of us stood up. Child Bride complained that we weren't going to get in, and her words were prophetic, as the crowd there was immense. All these young people wanted to see the performance, and only about two-thirds of them had tickets. Soon, the only people left outside of the building were the Stand-Byers. A couple of them (whose names were lower on the list than us) were from New Jersey (this is something they boasted, not me inferring they were because they were loud and unpleasant) and demanded to be put higher on the list. They offered to bribe the floor manager, and he declined. She took out her cellphone to show him that it was past time for the show to start, and he shouldn't wait for any more people to come with tickets, but should start letting us in. He said he was going to give people five more minutes (which makes sense, since they already paid for seats, and the show wouldn't start until he closed the doors), and then he'd go down the list. Finally, the woman said, "We'd bettah get in, 'cause I'm gonna go all kinds of crazy if we don't get in."

Child Bride complained that we weren't going to get in again, when it was the perfect opportunity to complain about people from New Jersey, or how loud that woman was talking. Missed opportunities, I guess.

And speaking of which, when he started to finally allow Stand-Bys to get in, there were only five seats left. Uncle John asked if there was standing room, or if we could sit on laps (seriously, he suggested this), and the manager said the fire marshal wouldn't allow standing room, and that it was packed in there as it was. He told us that the show was only an hour long (which really seemed to offend Child Bride), and if we wanted to wait another hour, he'd put us at the top of the list for the midnight show. Child Bride complained that that was too late, and they had to be up early for church the next day. I offered to stay there while John took Child Bride home, and the two of us could go, since she didn't really want to go anyway.

Child Bride complained, and John declined. So we walked all the way back down the hill and to John's car. Child Bride complained about the wasted evening, and again, she probably had a point. In all honesty, had I thought about getting tickets to "Dracula" earlier, I could've gotten them in advance, or driven up right after work to see if they were sold out or not, or gotten us to the top of the Stand-By list by suggesting we go over two hours early, but I didn't think about it, since my sister was supposed to come over, and I was bummed not to be able to take my nephew trick or treating.

I honestly couldn't have predicted that John would want to go see "Dracula," or that he wouldn't already have a planned activity he was going to force the rest of us to go on.* But I also couldn't have predicted that Child Bride would be so determined to make us miserable by pointing out how unhappy she was with the whole night. John had explained that Halloween had never been important in her family (heck, maybe it had been seen as an evil thing, like my cousin Ryan's parents had decreed, and felt guilty about all the celebrating going on), and that he had done all he could to get her excited about it, but that she didn't understand. Which does not surprise me.

John was hungry, so we went to Denny's to eat dinner. It was packed with mostly-costumed denizens, and the service took fully forever. Immortal beings would've complained how long it took for us to get our food. But . . . and this is no joke, Child Bride did not.

Rish Samhain Outfield

*When John first married Child Bride, he planned a Halloween night activity involving me and my sister and her new husband, wherein we went on a "spooky" boat ride. It was a really low-tech trip down about fifty yards of water, and we both complained that it could have been so much better (basically, it was intended for kids, when it might have been more successful had it been targeted at the horny teenager and hand-on-breast college student crowd, who would've enjoyed a good grope under the guise of being scared by noises and lights and music and atmosphere). With almost no more money, but just a bit more thought, the ferryman could've told creepy stories or pretended we were in danger, or just played theramin music and let our imaginations help get us in the mood. Maybe, if I'm around in twenty years, I'll do something like that. Maybe.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Abbie's Folly

So, Abbie Hilton over at her Cowry Catchers website had such a positive reaction to her podcast novel (which I've played a couple minor roles in), that she decided to add some premium content. She wrote a story set in that universe (that I also did a voice on), and made people pay to read it, or listen to her reading of it, or listen to a full-cast version of it. And people apparently were more than willing to do so.

What's crazy, though, is that she decided to do some kind of profit-sharing deal with it, so that the people who contributed voicework would "earn" money with each purchase of the story.

To my horror, Abbie sent me the first payment today. I figured she'd send me a check for nine cents, that I would treasure always, but holy cow, it was more than I got paid for my last two stories combined. Why she didn't just keep the money and claim there weren't any profits, like New Line Cinema did, I'll never know.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FixFlix 28


You know, since I started these, I actually encountered one of those CleanFlix players, and it horrified me. It actually cut a scene out of THE INCREDIBLES, I kid you not. It made me truly despair, nearly every pitiful, quarter-assed attempt at bowdlerizing (look, I'm totally against censorship, but if you're going to do it, at least do it right).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

...but still better than REVENGE OF THE SITH

This is not a perfect commercial. See subject line.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Slumber Party Hearty

For old times' sake, Jeff and I watched the three SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE flicks this week, discussing what worked and didn't work in each one. If you recall--and there's absolutely no shame in proclaiming that you don't--these are Roger Corman-produced Slasher flicks (all directed by women) where the killer uses an electric drill to dispatch his victims.

The second film is far and away the worst (that's the one where the killer has the drill attached to a guitar and dances and sings), forcing Jeff to turn it off three or four times (and finally starting on another movie to cleanse the palate), but none are classics, and really only have the nostalgia factor of "those at those clothes" and "I remember when I first saw this movie . . ." They're really not remarkable movies, even placed against other Slasher flicks from the Eighties.But what was genuinely remarkable--and the only reason I'm blogging about it--was the forty minute documentary on the trilogy's new DVD. They get the directors and assistant cameraman and a couple of the actors and the grip trainee into the interview chair and they talk about their accomplishments in their respective film . . . as though they were accomplishments.*

The greatest/most surreal moment came when one of the actors wistfully said, "They sure don't make movies like SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE III anymore." And there was no irony anywhere in the room.

Rish "Jazzercise Party Massacre" Outfield

*To be fair, I'm sure the movies all made loads of money, so that is an accomplishment.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tom Bosley

So, "Happy Days" and "Father Dowling Mysteries" star Tom Bosley died this week. He was 83 years old. I wasn't going to say anything to mark the occasion, but I ultimately reconsidered.
In 1998, my favorite teacher took me and a couple other students to tour the new Sony Pictures Studio lot (formerly MGM). I saw two celebrities during the tour, and one of them was Tom Bosley. There was some kind of luncheon going on, just beyond where he was sitting, and he was mingling with other guests. "Wow, I thought, he's old. I'll never get old. Never." My teacher suggested I go over and say hello to him, and I did.

I told him I'd been a fan of his since I was a little boy, and he thanked me, and went about his day.

It didn't make that big an impression on me one way or the other, but when I told my roommate Chris about it, he said, "Wow, I'd be blown away if somebody told me that. But he must hear that every day." What would it be like to have someone tell you you were great, or funny, or beloved every single day? To have strangers do it? I thought about the girls I knew who were beautiful and knew it, and the ones that seemed surprised when somebody told them that. I wondered what that would be like.

Still do.

Rish "I told you it wasn't much" Outfield

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stupid Thing o' the Week

So, I sent an email to one of the guys who submitted a story to us many months ago, to tell him we wouldn’t be able to get his story on the air this month (on my podcast, obviously), explaining the situation and the embarrassment I felt about it, but also stating that it was my call, so I’m the one to blame. I then explained when I thought the show would go up and what progress had been made on it thus far.

Sometimes, for reasons out of our control, we accept stories, and don’t air them for many months. I think there was one that we held for a holiday, that we didn’t air for more than a year. I always feel bad about that. But life is an uninvited intruder in your house just when you’ve put on Barry White’s "Can't Get Enough" LP, and you've got your cousin nice and buzzed.

Well, I got a very terse, but not at all impolite email from the guy immediately after, and I didn't give it a second thought.

However, when I got home from what passes for work in my life, there was a second email from him, a much longer one. Apparently, he read my message at work on his phone or some similar device that only showed him the first paragraph of my email, the one where we weren't going to get to his episode and it was my fault. With no further information from me, he got the impression that even though we said we'd accept his story, we were now rejecting it (and him), and hoping he would have sex with himself.

According to my new ex-friend, a voice inside him said, "Use your aggressive feelings, boy, let the hate flow through you!" Even though he had been polite in his email back to me, he kept thinking about it during the day ("I can feel your anger!"), unable to put it behind him ("Your hate has made you powerful!"), until it filled him with such righteous indignation that he had to talk to his wife about it ("Now, strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the Dark Side will be complete!").She read the email and was puzzled. "Which part are you angry about?" she wondered. He was upset that she wasn't helping him set swarms of lice or fiery hailstones down upon me.* She told him my email had been quite apologetic and quoted it to him, but he had no memory of that part. Only then did he realize that there was more to it than the first couple of sentences.

In context of the rest of my message, I guess he had less reason to be angry, and was grateful his religious upbringing had prevented him from sending me a venomous, violently vitriolic invective like he wanted to. He canceled the whole prayer for vengeance thing and typed up a lengthy email explaining what had happened.

Unfortunately, it was already too late, as every hole of my body is now swarming with red-hot earwigs. Especially THAT hole.

I called Big Anklevich to tell him about it, and he said, "That serves you right for apologizing. I wish he had told you off."

Well, I guess we all learned a lesson here.

Rish Zacharias Outfield

*Isn't there a Bible verse where God tells Malachi or Jeremiah or Ezekiel or Obama, "Whoever you curse I will curse?" Maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but I figure a devout churchgoer has more power at his disposal than a card-carrying member of the Gilligan's Island Fanclub like me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Subtext" on Way of the Buffalo

Someone podcast one of my stories this week, and for once, it wasn't me. This was over at The Way of the Buffalo, hosted by Hugh O'Donnell. It was a very short story I wrote last year, entitled "Subtext," about a dead girl and her cellphone.

"Subtext" is a horror story that ends in a silly, almost insulting way. It's light, but a good example of my work. I wrote it as a sort of nostalgic throwback to the kind of scary/funny short stories I used to love in elementary school, collected by Daniel Cohen in his books, like the one where the woman says, "Do you know what I can do with my long, long nails and my red, red lips?"

I sent the story to Big for some reason, and he really liked it (for some reason). He seemed to think I could expand it to make an actual story out of it, instead of just a mean joke. But I couldn't really think of what to do with it, and honestly, some of the ideas I have work better as jokes.

I got a thrill hearing the reading of my story, though, even if no one else does. And I probably ought to write something tonight, instead of just surfing the internet for a fourth hour.

Rish

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gleeky Horror

I just heard "Glee" is doing an all ROCKY HORROR episode next week.

I saw the promo, then I quickly listened to the soundtrack that somehow already exists, and I was filled with an amazing sensation of jealousy.* I don't really even get it, since I don't work on the show, never have, and couldn't participate if I wanted to (not to mention that I haven't been in high school for, what, nine years now. And that was merely playing a high school student).

What's more, I fully recognize that the show isn't a documentary, that none of these people exist, and that the show's not remotely like a real glee club would be (which I was too chicken to audition for in my own high school anyway) and it's not even a show I love (in fact, I don't know if there has been a single episode I didn't complain to Jeff during).

But I do love the ROCKY HORROR songs, and maybe it's just the knowledge that someone out there is getting paid to sing "Dammit Janet" and I got nobody.

Great, now I'm depressed again.

Rish Outfield From Transexual Transylvania

*Amazing because of the subject matter, not the emotion. I'm usually pretty jealous to begin with. Even of you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October Scary Story progress...

I finished my October Scary Story today. It was quite an accomplishment, believe you me, and I had a sense of closure and pride and finality when I scrawled those beautiful words "The End" at the bottom of the page.

Oh, perhaps I should clarify. What I finished today was my October Scary Story Event entry . . . for 2006. Yep, this is the OSSE I started four years ago, back when I used to do it with my buddy Jeff, and never finished it. Sadly, because of that and other factors, we never did a OSSE again (neither of us fulfilling our goal sort of broke our hearts a little). I started a completely different story early on in the month, I recall, one that took place in something like 1951. And in doing research about the music and movies that were popular in that year, I realized that that particular story was going to end up being pretty long, and a lot more work than I expected I could do in a couple of weeks (since I also had a one hour forty minute commute and a full-time job).

So I struggled to come up with another idea, something shorter, easier, more manageable. What I decided upon was a sort of mad scientist idea, about a chemist who reopens a small town movie theater, and puts something in the popcorn that manipulates the filmgoers. I called it "Popcorn Movie," and was very excited about it. I invented a nephew to the mad scientist, a loser who had moved out to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams of playing in a Rock band, only to have to come slinking back with his pockets empty and his tail between his legs.

Yes, hard to imagine a character like that, isn't it?

But as I developed the story, I started to really enjoy Don, the nephew character, and I felt for him. He'd gotten mixed up in drugs and had really ruined his life, but his uncle gives him a second chance, a chance to be a part of something that seems quite magical (at least in the beginning). I decided to give him a love interest, and almost immediately, he became the main character of the story, at first amused and then suspicious about the behavior of the "regulars" who keep attending the theatre.

But then it happened, what always seems to happen with the stories I get excited about: it started to grow. I decided that what I REALLY wanted to write about was not about a amoral chemist messing with peoples' minds, but about a loser who, in his darkest moment, joins a winning team, and sees his life turn around. I loved the idea of this kid finding his dreams coming true in some po-dunk hillbilly burg, only to realize that there's a sinister reason behind it all. Does he choose to do the right thing, even if it means giving up the first success he's been a part of in years?

Well, if you know me at all, you know that faced with such a daunting task, I just threw my arms up and ran in the other direction. Fetal position is just so warm and comfortable, kids.

The story was spiraling out of control, and though I abandoned it, I never really forgot it. Earlier this year, I printed out some of my works-in-progress and carried them around with me, managing to finish two or three of them before getting to this one. "Popcorn Movies" was harder, because I didn't know what it wanted to be, except that it was no longer a scary story. But I read through what I'd written, really liked it, and continued on from there, hoping that the new two-thirds would match up with the old third.

I finished it up, happy I'd written down so many of my ideas back in '06, and thought it turned out pretty well, even if I'll never give it to Jeff or show it to anyone else. Still sitting there, I had about ten minutes of free time left after writing "The End," and to my surprise, I just started another story right up, practically free-writing with no real clue where I was going. It was my OSSE 2010 coming to a sort of pathetic life in front of my eyes. And you know, I'll actually agree with that bastard Dean Wesley Smith for once: it totally wasn't work.

Rish "Master Scribe" Outfield

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stupid Thing of the Week

A friend of ours with a podcast of his own asked me to read/perform a horror story for his show this week, so Big and I got together on Monday and recorded it. Basically, the story is about a guy in a snowstorm being stalked by unseen creatures (which is really the story of my life), and was pretty fun to read. There was much tomfoolery and about a hundred errors during the reading, so I took the recording home to edit some of those out, in order to (futilely) seem more professional.

I went through, taking out some of the more offensive chatter, and removing the mistakes I thought were unfunny), and I thought it would embellish to the story to add a constant, whistling wind to the tale. Then, I thought it would be really cool if I put some kind of intermittent monster call underneath it, a spooky sound to add to the ambiance. But what would I use?

Thinking, I remembered I had a recording I made of my niece when she was five years old, babbling contentedly into the microphone and talking about her trip to Disneyland. I took that audio and slowed it waaaaaaaaaaaay down, so the sounds were no longer recognizable as words, but now something strange and rumbling, like the growls of a great, hungry beast.

It only took me a couple of hours, and I was very proud of my accomplishment, so I sent it off and went about the next (overdue) project on my list.

Well, today I got an email from the podcaster. He thanked me for the prompt delivery of the reading, but lamented that there was some kind of annoying background noise through most of the recording. He told me not to worry, though, he thought he could use music to drown all of that out.

Sigh.

Rish "Say A Prayer For The Pretender" Outfield

P.S. His exact words were "There was some crazy ambient noise -- sounded like a elephant trying to play a cello in the road outside." Feel free to laugh, someday I probably will.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fix Flix 27

Twould be nice.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Where Walks The Taco Man

So, I had my nephew three more days this week. Basically, my sister had problems with the new baby and had to take him to the hospital, so I volunteered to take the two-year-old again. And today, the lad wanted to eat at Taco Bell. For you Spanish readers, I took him to El Restaurante Mejicano De Los Pinches Gringos.

Well, we were surprised and entertained to see a guy in a giant taco costume hanging out in front of the store, waving at passing drivers and feeling high school girls' jumblies. "Look!" I said, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, "It's Taco Man!"
My nephew was, for some reason, terrified of him. I took/dragged him over there, trying to get him to see that Taco Man was friendly and fun, but he was busy raping a crippled third-grade boy, so it didn't help much.*

Taco Man tried to give my nephew five, but the boy cried and hid behind my leg, so I gave up. We went inside to eat and sat by the window. The whole time, my nephew would peer out, keeping track of Taco Man's whereabouts, as if at any moment, he would be gone. Then where would he pop up?

His fear of this silly mascot amused me, so as he ate, I said, "You know, Taco Man's not gonna be happy you're eating a taco. That's one of his children."

The boy stopped eating.

"No, no, it's too late. He's marked you for revenge now."

And then I realized what I was doing. In our most recent episode of The Dunesteef, a well-meaning father makes up a terrible story to stop his son from misbehaving, and it has horrific consequences.

Holy chalupa, I was doing exactly what the dad on "Tattletale" had done. Only with no constructive purpose.

I stopped and tried to make up for it. But that time had passed. To the two year old, Taco Man now looked like this:

Rish "Worst Babysitter Ever" Outfield

*Hey, I'm sorry about that last part. I asked Big if he thought I should cut it out, and he never answer me. So blame him, would ya?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Unstupid Thing of the Week

Jeff bought the Blu-Ray of FIGHT CLUB, and neither of us had watched the film in far too long. So, he put it in the player and we chatted while the damn machine spends its five minutes loading the disc, and another two as the disclaimers and warnings cycled through. Finally, it was time for the menu proper.

But to our surprise, it was the menu for NEVER BEEN KISSED. Drew Barrymore blushed at us, along with options to watch the movie, scene select, or check out special features. "What the hell?" Jeff said, and I told him, "You must've put in the wrong disc." Before he could explain that he didn't own NEVER BEEN KISSED, and it must've been some kind of manufacturing error, the screen pixelated and became the actual menu for FIGHT CLUB.

It was all just a cruel bit of Tyler Durdenesque subversiveness on the DVD producers' part, and I have to applaud them for it.

Rish

P.S. There was a lovely little feature where David Fincher, Edward Norton, and Brad Pitt are on a Spike TV awards show, being given a statuette for their work in that film. Upon hearing that Mel Gibson is the one presenting them with the award, Norton tells Fincher he'll give him five thousand dollars if he'll say, "Thanks, sugartits," to Gibson onstage. Fincher refuses, and Pitt says, "I'll do it." Then they show the actual presentation, and Brad Pitt actually does it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stupid Thing of the Week (sorta)

My Uncle Jim died in 1990, and he left me two things, a little bit of college money (enough to pay for two years) and his record collection. Since he was dead, I never got to thank him for introducing me to the ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW soundtrack.

He left a lot of other things to his little brother, my Uncle John, and a few months ago, John was throwing out some old boxes of Jim's stuff (mostly VHS tapes and books and outdated electronics). He came upon an old button-up shirt that screams the Nineteen Eighties more than New Coke or a Human League song.

"Ohhh, can I have that?" I asked him.

"Of course. I was gonna trash it anyway."

So, I got a third thing from Uncle Jim, this retro, loud, tacky neon shirt. I frogging love it.

So, I was wearing it today, and a dude I'd just met mocked it, saying that he looked at me and wanted to sing the theme to "Saved By The Bell." I murdered him and made it look like a botched mugging, then forgot about it.

But tonight, I was in line at Walmart, when a woman behind me said, "Wow, nice shirt." I couldn't tell if she was being serious or not, so I said, "Really?" She said, "Totally." I said, "Thanks, a guy earlier made fun of it." She said, "Oh no. It takes a real man to wear a shirt like that."On Fred Savage's soul I swear that's what she said. I thanked her again and left, but spent most of my ride home trying to figure out how to take that last statement.

Rish "Keep Feeling Fascination" Outfield

Monday, September 27, 2010

mini writing update

Would it be bragging if I mentioned that, yes, I've gotten some rejections in from the last two batches of story submissions . . . but that Drabblecast took a drabble off my hands, and I actually sold two of the others?

Well, if it is (bragging), then I won't say it. You know how much I hate people like that.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

FixFlix 26

If only it were so.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Uncle Rish Once Again

So, my sister had another kid this week. It seems like just yesterday she had her first one (and just a week before that, she was twelve).

For the longest time she thought it would be a girl, and was told she'd be able to have it, er, traditionally. But it turned out to be a boy, and she ended up getting a c-section. Fun.

It's hard to decide what to say about my new nephew. I don't like babies, under pretty much any circumstances (god, those awful day trading commercials with the semi-CGI babies . . . shudder). This one was particularly crimson and odd-looking, and the first thing that jumped in my head when I looked at him was "Why does it cry, Smeagol?"

My sister accused me of being afraid of the baby, since I was the only one who didn't want to hold it, and maybe that's true, but it was just so darn grotesque, and so darn fragile, and so alien (as if I could know what it wants or be able to appease its inhuman appetites). I'd rather wait until it mutates into human form.

But I was able to help, in a way. For three days this week, while my sister was in the hospital, I took care of my nephew. My older nephew, I guess, now that I have two. I had him at my place, and took him along with me wherever I went (preventing Big and me from recording on Monday, but ah well).

The two year old and I get along pretty darn well. To say that babysitting him--while a bit inconvenient and tiring--has been a pleasure is an understatement. The adoration I feel for this child is nearly overwhelming, and some kind of odd pride, as though he were my own, instead of belonging to my sister. It doesn't hurt that he's a hundred times better than your child.
We went out to eat together--the boy adores ketchup--got ice cream, played with those big blocks that are like Legos, went for drives, caught fish, shopped, went to the pet store, took him to and from the hospital a couple of times, sang karaoke* together, watched one and a half horror movies, and of course, tended to the turtles.

One of the highpoints of the week was when I put the boy on the toilet to "go potty," but I didn't pull his pants down far enough, and he ended up peeing into his pants instead of the toilet. Then, instead of setting those pants afire, I put them in the bathtub, promptly forgetting about them until the next day when the bathroom smelled like a men's room floor at a bloody truck stop. Whoops.

On Wednesdays I go to Jeff's for dinner and abuse, and I selfishly brought the child along. He fell asleep during the interminable drive to his house in the Middle of Nowhere, U.S.A., and I just laid him on their couch while we ate, and then chatted, and then watched a couple of shameful hours of "Glee." The boy woke up after almost three hours and came upstairs and ate chips and watched "Chuck" with us until after midnight. Then, instead of falling asleep on the drive home, he was alert and happy and looking at the lights and the full moon (there were even some deer on the side of the road and we stopped and looked at them until they tried to kill us for watching THE RING in 2002).

When we got to my place, he simply wouldn't go to sleep, which didn't bother me much, as I figured the later he stayed up, the longer he'd sleep in. He wanted me to make him bread with butter on it, so I made him toast, and he threw it away, so I guess he doesn't like it toasted. He then wanted pancakes, even though it was one in the morning. I had some Eggo waffles, so that was acceptable.

After that, he wanted to sit on my lap while we watched TV (JAWS 2 was on, but it was horribly Pan & Scanned, almost unwatchably so), and soon fell asleep there with me holding him. As I got up and took him to the little bed I'd made for him on the floor (basically an extra pillow, blankets, and kitten bones). As I sat him down, I had this strange sensation of accomplishment and pride that I felt truly alive in a way I don't often feel.My nephew is my favorite person in the world (even edging out early Eighties Phoebe Cates). And if I end up digging the new baby even half as much as I did the old one, well, I guess I'll love it quite a bit. Stranger things have happened.

Uncle Rish Outfield (he's your uncle too)

*On one of our days together, the child kept singing, "She wears t-shirts, I wear t-shirts," which I just plain didn't get, until I realized there's a Taylor Swift song that sort of goes that way. I found it on the Karaoke Channel, and tried to sing it with the boy, but he still only knows the t-shirts line. And before you accuse me of lying about not knowing a Taylor Swift song, I honestly didn't have "You Belong With Me" for some reason. Still don't.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Karaoke Hero

So, I wasn't going to say anything about this, but I just get so thoughtful sitting there by myself and think the strangest thing you've ever heard, and I figured I'd say just a few words about the little karaoke contest I entered this week. My Evil Cousin Ryan and I got together and went to the karaoke bar up the road, where my family had gone for my birthday in July, and I hadn't been since (though I had tried a couple of times). We had some food and sang a couple of songs, and had a good time. I pretty much always do at karaoke bars.

And I guess I understand how other people don't enjoy them, since the concentration seems to be on the singing rather than the drinking, but I'm not much a boozer myself, so I've often found it hard to understand people who go to dance clubs or regular bars, alone or in groups. Regardless, I really enjoy the whole singing thing, and I think my cousin does too, so there's that.

Anyhoo, we sang a couple of songs, and saw that there was a contest on Saturday night, and even though I knew my cousin would catch Sweet Home Alabama Hell for it, I tried to convince him to sign up for it. And he did.

More impressive, though, was his wife's positive reaction when he told her he'd entered the contest. And that was cool.

So, I didn't much feel like I needed to practice or anything (apparently, I never studied any of the Greek myths about hubris), but sang a couple songs to warm myself up during a lengthy drive I had from a barbecue at a friend's house. I got to the bar, and found a large crowd gathered, ostensibly* there to cheer on the contestants. My cousin and his wife were there, and my sister, niece, and mother all showed up to support me. We drew numbers, and our of thirty participants, my cousin was twelfth and I was twenty-sixth in line.

My cousin said he was a bit nervous, but as the people sang their numbers, mostly Ballads and Country songs, he started getting antsy, and even took off to the bathroom for a minute. I asked him if he was puking, but he claimed he wasn't. Ryan sang She Blinded Me With Science by Thomas Dolby, and he did a fine job. But there were a couple of really, really good singers in the line-up, and I started to get into the competitive spirit, judging each performance against my own still-to-come, and hoping most of them were found lacking.

The night wore on, and finally, it was closing in on my turn. And you know, I started getting that awful, Dan-Underwood-says-he's-going-to-beat-me-up-after-class/trying-to-work-up-the-guts-to-ask-Christianne-Morris-on-a-date feeling of nerves and nausea. Weird. But I've been getting up and performing in front of people since 1984, so I got up when it was my turn, and sang.

And, well, it wasn't so great. The version I know and love was not the version they played, and even though I had a bridge and two refrains to go, the song ended with me looking (and probably sounding) confused.

This is totally how I looked and sounded.
I didn't win the contest, or even place. And while I wasn't bummed out about it, necessarily, I did feel like a dork for not doing my best, and was absolutely broken of the desire to go karaokeing again for the foreseeable future.

But then, a couple days passed, and I sang along to a couple of songs on the radio (and of course everybody sounds good to their own ears, but I thought I did real well), and I started to get a feeling--not dissimilar to the one I had when I got my little story rejected--that I ought to practice harder, choose another song, and see if I couldn't come out triumphant the next karaoke contest some poor DJ declares.

I wish this newfound sense of determined positivity would last me the rest of my life, but I'm pretty pleased to have felt it at all.

Rish "Sy Snootles" Outfield

*I use that word, "ostensibly," even though I had a conversation with Jeff about it last week. Ostensibly, I know what it means, but just between you and me, I'm not sure.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stupid Thing of the Week

In my fruitless attempts to decrease brain entropy and expand my horizons, I'm trying to read books. You know, like people did in the olden days. To facilitate this, I picked up several paperbacks at the used bookshop last week (knowing I would probably never end up reading them all).

Well, I started the book yesterday, and I was horrified to discover that someone--a previous owner--had gone through and bowdlerized it with a pen, scribbling out words and entire passages (sometimes doing so so zealously that the ink spilled through to the opposite page.
Sigh.
I just don't get this editor's mindset, either. For example, on page 62 and 63, we find such potentially-offensive words as "Fat prick," "My God," "Little faggot," and "Die, bitch," but what has been crossed out are the words "shitty" and a sequence where a character urinates in the bushes. Most puzzling, the word "pee" was crossed out and, I kid you not, the word "sneeze" written in its place, so the sentence becomes, "Alert and excited, and needing to sneeze, Doring held the weighty Mauser, so many years carried and now to be used." It would be amusing if it weren't so sad.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Long Live Kevin McCarthy

Actor Kevin McCarthy passed away this weekend. He wasn't a young guy, and it was natural causes, so that's better than some.

I met him once, in 2004, at the Twilight Zone convention my buddy Brian and I went to. Basically, it was a get-together of elderly actors and filmmakers who had worked on the "Twilight Zone" forty-something years before. Each had a little space laid out for them at the Beverly Garland Motel and they mostly just waited until someone came up to them to talk or get an autograph. Kevin McCarthy did an episode called "Long Live Walter Jameson" back in 1960.

Well, he was one of my favorite actors, I was very excited to be able to meet him. I had purchased a olde tyme poster for INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, and McCarthy was not in the least bit surprised what I wanted him to write on it.While Brian and I were talking to Mr. McCarthy, asking him about working with Joe Dante and pod people and such, this kid comes up to the booth. He was around twelve years old, a little Jewfro-ed know-it-all, the kind you can tell was an only child and home-schooled to boot after hearing him speak one sentence. He had this amazing sense of entitlement that really blew me away, making me later wonder what impressions I'd have given someone when I was his age (though surely I didn't carry with me a sense of self-importance like this bastard did). He looked at the old actor's name tag and said, "Kevin McCarthy, huh? What have you done that I've seen?"

McCarthy frowned and said, "I did a Twilight Zone once."

The kid shook his head. "No, no, name some of your movies."

So McCarthy dutifully lists off film titles. "The Misfits."

"Never heard of it."

"How about Piranha?"

"Uh uh."

"Innerspace?"

"Nope."

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

"No, sorry."

I think Brian might have chimed in with "He was in the Looney Tunes movie," as if the kid were four instead of pushing teenagehood. The kid didn't think that merited an answer, and started reading--aloud--the filmography McCarthy had listed next to his name tag (all the guests had a card with the episode of TZ they had done, as well as significant projects they might be recognized from).

About ten seconds later, Kevin McCarthy interrupted the boy by saying, "Look, kid, are you going to buy something?" The kid said, "No." And McCarthy shouted, "Then get THE HELL out of here!" People from surrounding booths looked over, I think at least one old lady gasped, and George Takei said, "Oh my." It was absolutely hilarious, and as the boy took off, both Brian and I laughed about it with the actor.

I had brought my IOTBS poster for him to sign, but after that, I bought a 8x10 glossy of him and Dana Wynter for him to autograph, that I kept at my cubical at work until the day they escorted me to my car a year later. I considered asking McCarthy to pose in a picture with me, but he frankly looked so frail and sickly that I didn't ask him about it. I figured he must have been pushing seventy-five, maybe even eighty, but he looked pretty tired.

In fact, I used to check his IMDB page every couple of months just in case. And the first time I did that, I was shocked to see that he was born in 1914, making him NINETY at that particular appearance. That made me regret not getting the picture with him when I had the chance.I probably checked up on him sometime in the summer, around the time I rewatched "Long Live Walter Jameson" and listened to his commentary on the DVD. He'd made it to ninety-six.

Well, this morning, there was a news headline on my computer saying, "Body Snatchers Actor Dies," and I figured the time had come. Usually, when I think back on the good times in L.A., it's not the trip to Disneyland with my friend (hetero) on Gay Day, or getting to third base with a veritable stranger (hetero) at a Halloween party, it's getting to meet all these famous and creative people I've looked up to all my life, or just gotten to appreciate after the fact.

And while I may not have done the "get the hell out of here" story justice, it holds a special place in my heart.

Long live Kevin McCarthy

Rish "You're next!" Outfield

Friday, September 10, 2010

Write-jection 2: Freddy's Revenge

I really hate Twitter.
-----"Going to bank now."
------"Stuck N class."
-------"Late 4 work again."
--------"Jerking off 2 Miley Cyrus."
Facebook is better, but some people use it for the same inane reason.
---"Mason Dixon...hates Tuesdays."
I don't know why, but I always feel my blog posts need to be entertaining. That I need to have something to say other than
"Hello, I know I haven't written in my blog in a while, but I promise to try harder. I'm taking Jenny to soccer practice in five minutes, so I thought I'd get on here and update everyone on the family. Aaron is fine. Jenny is fine. Howard and I are fine. The dog is whiny, but he is fine. It is time to start buying fall clothes. Oh dear. Time to go, Jenny is giving me the finger. Will blog again soon."
I don't get the people who are fine with that. But hey, that's just me.

So, I really only got on here to say two things.

1.

A few months ago, I got a rejection letter for something I had written. I was particularly upset about it because it was sent in to one of those "for the love" publications (ie, a non-paying market) and it was still rejected. I'm not good with rejection, and I blogged about being sad about it.

Well, I got another one today. This one was even sillier, since an acquaintance was starting up a online magazine and he wanted some free stories to start out with (he'd only put up one so far, and it was only two hundred words). I wrote a story a month or two back I thought would work fine, but ending up spending twice as long as I did to write it trying to get it down to the requisite length. The rejection, while friendly and constructive, came almost immediately (within twenty-four hours of submitting it), and the editor felt it needed some work.

Now, this didn't destroy me or ruin my day or anything.* But it did give me pause. While I admit I'm not a great judge of my own work, I felt this was a perfectly cromulent story, and certainly better than some of my writings. What if I've been deluding myself, and I'm just no good, or at least not cut out to be a writer?

I've heard filmmakers say, "If you can do anything else with your life, do not pursue filmmaking as a career." I may have heard writers say that too. And the truth is, I've probably made ten times as much money (and gotten far more accolades) for my acting than my writing. Yet a writer is what I consider myself, first and foremost.

2.

The other thing I wanted to comment on was exercise. As in "my lack of."

For some crazy reason, I got my bike out of storage yesterday and took a ride around the block. It was nice, so I figured I'd ride until my legs started to hurt, then I'd turn back. Of course, that meant that they REALLY hurt by the time I got home. No big deal, I need the pain.

But when I woke up the next morning, my legs were very upset with me. What's more, my arse felt like I was back in summer camp.

Sorry.

I'm just saying that I'm out of shape and my body complained when I did exercise. So tonight, it was after midnight (nearly one) and I was going to lay down and read, when I got the crazy idea, "You know how your legs hurt from yesterday's bike ride? Wouldn't it be great to do that again?" So, I got a flashlight and went out and bike rode again, even though it was much less comfortable than the night before.

This is how real people probably do it, I thought, They exercise all the harder when their bodies don't want them to, and they never, ever, ever think about writing.

Well, even though I suffered for my dedication the day after that, I somehow found renewed determination on the writing front as well. I submitted five stories to various podcasts and webzines, figuring that, even if I am rejected by all of them, I will have some feeling of accomplishment, the way I did when I grunted through those final two blocks on my bike.

I'm trying here, folks. Not a lot, but some.

Rish "Bicycle Writer" Outfield

*The criticism of a recent episode of our show got me way more bummed than this.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

"Just To Be Nominated"

So, the Parsec Awards happened today (an awards show dedicated to Speculative Fiction podcasting, if you're unfamiliar with them). The Dunesteef did get nominated this year, for our production of Mike Resnick's "A Princess of Earth." Our show lost to Scott Sigler's "The Tank."

And you know how an actor will say that it's an honor just to be nominated? How you've heard it so many times, you roll your eyes or making wanking movements with your left hand?

Well, it really was enough just to be nominated. Honest.

I wasn't in Atlanta today anyway. Wouldn't it have been embarrassing to win the award and not be there?

Maybe, maybe not, but it really was cool to get a nomination.

Recently, somebody sent Big a letter (a real paper letter) with a nice donation in it, and telling him what a fan they were of the Dunesteef show, and how it helped keep her entertained during a terrible time in her life. He shared it with me, and dude, THAT was an honor.

I'm definitely a glass is half empty sort of guy (or a "Hey, I ordered a cheeseburger" kind of guy, if you've read this blog for years), so this may all sound a little out of character. But I'll always be the first to say that a single word of encouragement can make the difference between success and failure. It's important for a person to know that what they do out of passion or principal or self-expression (anything without a dollar value attached to it) matters to someone else.

So I'm happy about the nomination, and not in the least bit sad about losing the award. I didn't expect us to be in the running at all, let alone win it. If anything, the nod may help ensure we'll be around to qualify again next year.

Parsec Nominee Rish Outfield