Friday, April 30, 2010

Writing Resolution 5


An unbelievably fat woman dressed as Princess Leia gave me a magic ballpoint pen not too long ago.

I was at a writing expo, so I didn't ask her why she was in costume (or why she chose the bikini instead of . . . any other outfit the Princess wore), but I assumed she was promoting something. The pen didn't have any text on it, just looked like your run-of-the-mill Bic-type ballpoint. She told me it was magic when she handed it to me, and I didn't believe her, otherwise I would've started using it sooner.

One afternoon a couple of months later, I grabbed the pen from my backpack, and jotted down some notes for a presentation at work, and they turned out to be truly inspired. I got a promotion out of that. And the next time I used the pen, I wrote--almost without thinking--a wondrous short story for my nephew about a child who sleepwalks and wakes up in a fairy land where everything you ever dreamed you could be came true. I entered it into the Writers of the Future contest and was a finalist, and it was run on the Starship Sofa podcast.

I remembered how I'd gotten the pen, at that boring little writing expo at the airport Hilton, and put two and two together.

From then on, I only used the magic pen to write things that were important. I needed to parcel it out. A second short story (even better than the first) came next, and I started on a novel. It felt like the best thing I'd ever written, and I found myself feeling spent and exhilarated, like I'd just run a marathon or had sex with dark-haired twins.

My sister came over on Sunday, dropping off her four year old while she went to see the CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST remake with her latest boyfriend. I turned on the television for the lad, then went into the bathroom to dump and shave. He must have gone into the study and taken the magic pen while I was in there. I paid him no mind since my nephew likes to draw, and didn't even think about it until he came into the laundry room to tell me his pen didn't work anymore and he needed another one. I bounded up the stairs, two by two, knowing somehow which pen he had been talking about.

All the power had been wasted. I stopped just inside the living room and saw the magic pen abandoned on the floor, all out of ink and depressingly pale, like a dead fish left in the sun.

Rage filled me. I probably would have murdered the child, but I stopped when I saw the boy's artwork. There were seven amazing portraits of members of my family, done in the masterpiece style of a young Rembrandt scattered about the table.

My nephew asked me again if I had another pen for one more drawing. Of the cat.

pardon the interruption

The other day Jeff was telling me that the BBC got flooded with angry calls and emails after having one of those godless annoying pop-ups advertising another show dork onto the screen during a recent episode of "Doctor Who." Many loyal viewers were upset and, since the BBC is technically supposed to be people-owned, the station made a public apology and vowed not to let it happen again.

I usually wish I lived in the UK once or twice a week. Thinking back to times when Jeff and I were engrossed in a programme, only to have Kyra Sedgwick or Holly Hunter's fucking visages rape themselves onto the screen to promote another show, I did so once again.

Now back to more mediocre attempts at writing.

Rish "Which are still better than you'll manage today" Outfield

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Writing Resolution 4

Alright, I forced myself to write a little story, then spent thrice as long making it exactly one hundred words long. Happy now, muse?


Rebecca sat Dani down at the kitchen table. "You can do this, honey," she assured the toddler, and held up the first flashcard. "Tree!" Dani said. "Good. Next?" This card had a sports car on it. "Car!" The next was of an elephant. "Efant!" Rebecca made her daughter pronounce it correctly, then held up the next flashcard. "Fish!" Next: "Sun!" Next: "Candy!" Rebecca held up another one. Dani looked at it for a moment, puzzled. Then tears sprang to her eyes. "Monster!" the child wailed. Rebecca turned the flashcard around. How had a photo of Glenn Beck gotten in there?

Whoops, I forgot to write something today.

Do I have to?

It's not fun anymore.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Writing Resolution 3


Cody looked closer at the little plastic square. "Ageless," it said, "Do not eat." It had come with his beef jerky, and he had nearly thrown it away. But that word, "ageless" captivated him.What would it be like to live forever? To never grow old, never lose his hair like Dad, never strain on the toilet like Grampa? If someone lived long enough, they could rule the world.

Clearly, whoever had made Ageless didn't want others sharing in their immortality, using the warnings to frighten people away. Cody was braver than that. Smarter. He sliced into the packet and consumed the sand-like substance inside. Soon, he'd be ageless too.

Funeral services for
Will be held at Renton Mortuary
April 26th at 3:00pm.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Writing Resolution 2

Dammit, this ended up too long too.


A gust of wind yanked the kite from Alexi's grasp and carried it two blocks before releasing it. He watched as it flitted above the sidewalk for a moment before it dropped into the Swirskys' backyard, disappearing from view behind their ten foot fence. Alexi despaired. The Swirskys were an odd bunch of religious nuts who moved in at the end of the summer, paid some workers to put up the huge fence, and lived in isolation behind it. But Alexi had mowed lawns for three weeks to buy that kite, and he wasn't about to let it go. He grunted, strained, and reached, but couldn't reach the top of the fence. They really didn't want him coming in there, did they?

Finally, he took several steps back then ran at the fence, jumping as high as he could, catching the top of the fence and holding on for dear life. He pulled, using his feet to help him, and managed to hoist himself up to the top of it. The kite's string was right there before him, and he hopped down into the Swirskys' backyard to go after it.

One of the Swirsky children was holding the kite, glancing at it in puzzlement. He was filthy, his hair long and matted, wearing brown-stained clothing covered with mud (or worse). As Alexi approached him, he saw two more Swirsky children, young girls of six or so, gathering up the string. They were just as filthy, their eyes big and dark. "That's my kite," Alexi said, but froze when the children smiled at him. Their teeth were also brown, and very sharp. The fence hadn't been built to keep him out, but to keep them in.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Writing Resolution 1

Unfortunately, my first attempt at writing a drabble ended up being two hundred and forty words long. Damnation.

And no, I'm not going to hack and slash it just to fit into a silly arbitrary goalpost. It's hard enough for me to actually do this every day. So, here's "drabble" number one:


Carlitos had been much calmer since we'd gotten the birdfeeder. Usually so hyperactive and demanding, my son now sat in his little Mighty Thor throne and stared out the window while I got my work done. Every once in a while, the boy would laugh and say, "A red one!" or "Ohh, that one's big!" And when I sent off my first assessment, I came into the living room and joined him. Sparrows, robins, starlings, and finches all lit on the feeder at one point or another, enjoying the nuts and seeds we had loaded in there the day before. I tired of it quickly, but Carlitos stayed in his observation seat rather than watching the TV or wanting to play video games. The feeder had been a wise investment, and I mentally thanked my Aunt Gretchin for suggesting it.I was washing the pizza tray at the sink that evening when I heard a strange noise at the window. I was surprised to see several squat, lumpy creatures with luminous eyes climbing down the chain and gathering on the birdfeeder to examine it. One of them tasted a sunflower seed, spat it out, and chittered to the others. I suppose they were goblins, I don't know what else to call them. One of them noticed me watching them and the whole group turned and fixed me with such baleful, sad expressions that I found a lump growing in my throat. I stepped away from the window.

Carlitos woke me early the next morning, standing beside my bed. "Daddy, why is there raw meat tied to the birdfeeder?" he asked.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Writing Resolution Announcement

For twenty years now, I have wanted to be a writer and have been keeping track of the fiction I write. It's been a while since I looked over the numbers, but I don't have to have a database in front of me to know that I don't write nearly enough and hardly ever finish my stories. And when I do write and do finish, nobody ever reads it.

There's this dude the Drabblecast just mentioned who vowed to post a hundred word story on his website (or blog) every day for a year. I guess that was a while back, and he actually accomplished his goal and is able to hold his head up high when people recognize him in bookstores or at urinals.

Well, I figure I've got to be at least be one fifty-second as good a writer as he is, so I thought I'd try to do it for a week. You know, for the kids?

Let's see if I can actually accomplish a goal for once. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

FixFlix 23

You thought you'd be free of these? Never. Not while I live.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Sore By Any Other Name

I just read that fans of the "Twilight" series are calling themselves Twi-hards. It strikes me as funny that their nickname is more clever than the source material itself.

Strange, when I was growing up as a "Star Wars" and comic book fan, I can't remember there being a cute little moniker for those two groups. I guess it's up to me to retroactively create one.

From this point on, what I was will be known as Catnip For Bullies.

Not sure if that has enough of a ring to it to catch on.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I wonder if I used too many quotation marks on that last post.

Is it just me

Or does the fact that this singing hearthrob Justin Bieber kid is an underage boy make it "okay" for adults to desire him, but if he were an underage girl it would be "wrong?"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Music Muse followup

In Jeff's defense, he did introduce me to The Gaslight Anthem.

That even balances out his love for Ke$ha.

Music Muse

I've been having difficulty finding a good radio station lately. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was appalled to find the bottom-of-the-barrel level of music on the FM dial there. If you didn't love Hip-Hop and/or speak Spanish, you were fooked. I guess I was spoiled, having several competing popular music stations, Country, Oldies, Soft Rock, Metal, college stations, even a high school station (where the students were absolutely forbidden to speak--how cool is that?), but the only thing that was worth listening to in L.A. was their Country station. Sad, but true.*

So, I've been trying to find a station that works for me. The "Rock Alternative" station I listened to growing up has become a sort of Alternative Top 40 channel, playing the same Jack Johnson and Owl City track over and over. Jeff told me just to abandon radio and listen to mp3s, like he does, but I've got this pathetic need to discover new songs, new artists, and find out what everyone else likes, just so I can pretend to be their equals.

I don't listen to much radio really, just for an hour from when my alarm goes off in the morning (or "morning" for people like Abbie and Jeff) until it automatically shuts off. I decided to check out the local vanilla pop station ("We play the best of the Eighties, Nineties, Unnamed Decade, and today!"), figuring that would give me a variety of new hits and popular older songs. But I found that was not the case.

On Monday, I was dismayed to hear a certain song--

If you know me socially (and that rules out all but, what, three people?) you know I absolutely loathe the "If you like it then you should've put a ring on it" song that is inexplicably popular this and last year.**

--by Beyonce and I shuddered and spasmed until it was over, then tried to go on with my morning. But I eventually recovered.

The next day, however, I was awakened to the radio, and to my horror, the friggin Beyonce song ("All the single ladies, all the single ladies") started up again. I was so upset, I actually got up instead of hitting Snooze. How, on a station with, let's say three hundred songs in its rotation (maybe more), could I hear the same song in the same hour in two consecutive days? Heck, even if they only had fifty songs in their rotation, I shouldn't hear the same one in two hours.

Jeff and I got together to eat (we still enjoy these things call the Big Carl sandwich at Carl's Junior, even though my doctor now says I have to shave a full year off my projected lifespan for each one I eat) and I complained to him about it. He told me I shouldn't be listening to the radio at all, and should get one of those nifty cochlear downloaders to store and hear music like he does. I told him I would give the radio station the benefit of the doubt, but if I heard that song once more in my one hour window that week, they were gone.

He also told me he kind of likes that "shoulda put a ring on it" song, but I won't betray his confidence like that.

Well, Thursday was good, meaning we had a two day period where the song didn't play in the tenleven o'clock hour, but Friday, wouldn't you know . . .

"*All you single ladies, allyousingleladies*"

I said a word so vile it made tears come to Hit-Girl's eyes, and slammed my hand down on the radio, as I am wont to do.

My hunt for a decent radio station continues.

Rish "Casey Kasem" Outfield

*Eventually, I tired of Country, or outgrew it, or realized its limitations (a long story), and discovered talk radio, but that's neither there nor here.

**But hey, I never got how Mariah Carey could have more number ones than the Beatles, Elvis, Madonna, and Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy combined, so I must not be in the target demo.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Stupid Thing of the Week

I took my beat-up little last-leg used car up Pingo Canyon the other day and either hit a bump or took a turn too hard, 'cause one of my hubcaps came off.

My uncle said they are easy to replace. I said, "Well, it's not a very new car. Are you sure?" He said, "Sure. Just look for a car like yours in a parking lot, at a Walmart or a movie theater, and part next to it. Then . . . do you have a screwdriver?"

Monday, April 05, 2010

Headin' for a (Dart)break

So, I was at Jeff's house and he has apparently lost his mind and bought each of his three children one of those Nerf dart guns. Then, his wife also lost her mind and bought one of those jumbo bags of darts so they'd never, ever run out.
Jeff even bought himself a gun so that, presumably, I could come over one afternoon and do battle with his children. I noticed these guns, his daughter challenged me, and his two sons came up from their Wii-Boxstation playing, passing guns and darts to each and all.

Well, we had a battle royale to rival that of Japanese schoolchildren, shooting and dodging and running through the living room, stairs, kitchen, dining room, abattoir, family room, foyer, doorway, hall, and lounge, firing darts at each other, sometimes hitting, sometimes missing, declaring alliances, betraying those alliances, laughing, shouting, falling down, aiming for crotches, stealing each others' darts, gathering fallen one, teaming up against the weaker gazelle, hiding, and ambushing.

But then I shot Jeff's daughter in the face.

Well, time stood still, as it usually does in this situation. The boys were the first to realize that the fun was over, and I, being out of practice (accidents happen, right?), took a little longer to figure out why no one was running and laughing anymore.

The wailing commenced, and I then understood the pallor that had come over the others. Spraying tears comparable to blood on that new "Spartacus" TV show, the child ran immediately to her parents to inform them of my heinous crime.

I got that wonderful feeling in my stomach, you know, the one that you get when you see the police car pull up behind you or the crackhead in your garage or the Jehovah's Witness at your front door, and prepared for what I like to call The Richard Teague Moment.* In other words, the moment when friendship is given the boot over family.

And Jeff calmly told his daughter to stop keening; she knew the dangers of the game when she started playing.

A minute later, the tension in the air lifted, and we went back to playing.
What amazed me is that this is not the first time this has happened with Jeff and his kids. He seems to understand, as no one does, that children fall down and hit things and take part in activities that will inevitably hurt them Every Single Day, and that that being a parent doesn't mean creating a world that will service your children, but to do what you can to help your kids get along in the world as it is.

I have things that I think about blogging about every single week. Some of them, like going to my first rugby game, I was too lazy to share. Some, like when my best childhood friend's wife died, I find too personal to chat about in my usually-trite little blog. Others, like when I _____ ____ ___, I simply forget about. I've no idea why I felt this was worth mentioning.

Maybe that says something about me too.

Rish "Deadeye" Outfield

*This is named after a guy I had a nominal friendship with in college who terminated our relationship a couple of years later when I made a Damien Thorne crack about his Limey newborn son. Despite his histrionics and overreaction, I still think the joke was funny, which I suppose says more about me than I ought to admit.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

FixFlix 22

Apparently, it works on TV series as well.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Blog thoughts

Abbie asked me if I really didn't want people to read my blog, since I don't link to it from our podcast website. It was something to think about.

A website is a public thing, but a journal is a private thing. The way I see it, a blog is a bit of both.

My pal Big Anklevich has a blog he's been writing in a great deal lately, and while he started it with the intent of reviewing Pixar films and audiobooks, recently he's started using it as a journal, talking about his trials in life, his wife's sharp nails during their thrice-yearly lovemaking sessions, and his attempts to send out his fiction for rejection (or possibly for publication, I may have misunderstood). I know he's got a lot of people reading it, since he now Twitters about it and reposts everything on Facebook.

That sort of thing sounds pretty tempting to me, but I have also had my increasingly-flabby arse bitten by way of my blog, and I worry about that sort of thing happening again, since I tend to say things like "Bryan Roman has to shave twice a day because he was born with three nuts" . . . without making sure Bryan isn't going to hear me say it.*

My buddy Matthew used to say (quite often) that while Americans have Free Speech, they are not free of the consequences of what they say. I guess I agree with that credo, but I still want to be free to speak my mind in these pages and not have to censor myself out of embarrassment or fear.

And there's one other thing.

On Friday, my sister and her husband moved out of their little house and into a new place, a second floor condo in the same town as Triple Threat Bryan Roman. She is pregnant and due in September with her second child. On Monday, she was called into a meeting at work and laid off. This sort of whatever-the-opposite-of-serendipity is the sort of thing I probably ought to blog about, since that means a lot more to me than the loss of TV's Robert Culp this week. But I don't blog about things like that very often. They're too real, and maybe too private for just anybody to read, at least how I see it.

And maybe I'm wrong. My buddy Jeff has two blogs, one is public (where he reviews comic books and cyberpunk) and one is private (where he talks about things like personal regret and family outings and scabs on his inner thighs). I think only his wife can read that second blog, but for a while there, I could read it too. And one time, he blogged about something we did together and the shit his wife gave him about it and that we couldn't do stuff like that anymore, and it bummed me out most totally. It made me angry at his wife, angry at Jeff, and also a little angry at myself for reading Jeff's private, personal thoughts. I never went back.

So, what if I blogged something really personal here, like, I had a buddy who was a drug dealer, and one day the drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers came to his apartment while I was there to score, and Pat said . . .

See, I don't know if I could do that. But I'd like to be able to, if the desire to do it hit me. I guess that would be for some reader's benefit too, since I remember the experience without having to mention it to anyone.

It seems to be something of a conundrum, and I'm not nearly smart enough to deal with connundrums. Or spell them.

Rish "Blogmaster" Outfield

*If you're reading this, Roman, you should be proud I revealed your secret, not angry. Three balls just makes you more manly than the rest of us.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

You know how I know you're gay?

'Cause you watch "Glee."

Like Jeff and I did today.

I guess I should elaborate. Jeff and I frowned on the idea of a show like "Glee" when it premiered, but since I don't watch television, it didn't affect me much. However, as the show (Jennifer) garnered more and more acclaim, culminating with the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy, I thought, "Hmmm, maybe this show is worth a look." Plus, they used Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" in the clip they showed (which is a song I'd like played at either my wedding or execution, whichever comes first), and the fact that Joss Whedon goes on and on about the show, and that made me think I might like it.

I mentioned this to Jeff and he said, amazingly, that he felt exactly the same thing. We hugged.

So, I then forgot about it. But recently, it came out on DVD, and according to Jeff, it's one of those First Half Season Boxed Set things, which shouldn't irritate me, but still sort of do. Jeff put it atop his Netflix queue, and mentioned it to me when we went to a rugby game last week. Darn, I meant to blog about that too.

But when Jeff mentioned it, I suddenly got all skittish about "Glee." The whole reason I would never want to watch the 21st century version of FAME, or The HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL Saga, or Jeff's kid doing Riverdance, seemed to apply in droves to this show. And you know what, there may even have been a little homophobia in there as well. The actual literal definition of that term.

But Jeff said he had rented it and I was at least going to watch the first episode with him. If I didn't like it, fine, he'd let me go, and he'd watch the rest of the show by himself. Sans pants.

Well, naturally, I refused. A third thing I vow to blog about is a little HBO pseudodocumentary entitled "What If I'm Gay," and I told Jeff I just couldn't view it with him. So he had his kids shoot me in the face with darts until I relented (damn, I wanted to blog about that too), so I sat down, and we watched "Glee" together. And you know what? The pilot episode just wasn't for me.

I don't even have the words for it, to explain what was wrong. I call myself a writer--a Professional Writer even--and I can't explain, beyond just the overproduced-ness of the musical numbers, the choreography, and the irritating interstitial music, which may have been more than interstitial. Sorry. They should've sent a poet instead of an athiest science gal.

Jeff agreed completely. At least he said he did. But before he took out the DVD (or whatever you call those in the blue cases) to put in that Jamie Foxx movie, he said, "Maybe they fix that. Maybe they heard people complain and they made changes when it went to series." Before his eight year old could grab the dart gun, I shrugged and allowed him to put on another episode.

And you know what? It was a lot better. The second episode was singy and dancy, sure, but it was also very, very funny. And struck me as a little more BREAKFAST CLUB than STEP UP TO THE STREETS. So we continued. We watched four episodes in a row, and both of us laughed, sang along, and at least one of us bawled by the time it was done. Okay, I still wish the damn musical numbers sounded and looked like real people were actually singing, instead of soulless machines being sweetened by even bigger machines. Perfection should be a goal in entertainment, but it shouldn't be the starting point.

But ah well. I doubt I'm even in the secondary target demographic for a show like this, and the creators sure as hell don't care that I think the dancing looks too staged or the singing too professionally produced. The important thing is that I ended up enjoying the show (Jeff too), and will watch it again.

Oh, and the other thing: the gay kid? Best character on the show. Awesome stuff.

Rish "The Fan That Dares Not Speak Its Name" Outfield

P.S. And I also meant to blog about the misfit nature of the characters, and how I used to get dumped in trash cans when I was in high school too. While Big was busy having sex, I was on the outside looking in (though my junior high experience was much worse than my high school one). But one thing I was thinking about the next day after watching "Glee" was that, a couple of years after my Sophomore year of high school, one of the guys who used to torment me came up to me and said, "Hey, I don't know if you remember me, but I used to, uh, sort of pick on you back in high school." "Really?" I said, not really recognizing his face. "Yeah, I sort of dumped you in the trash can in the hall by the auditorium." That brought it back to me. "Oh yeah. Good times." He said, "Well, I just wanted to say I'm sorry for that. I don't know why I did that." And I tried to explain that I actually looked back on those days somewhat fondly (and the guys who would do that) because I liked being center of attention, and it was better than my cousin who would throw me onto the concrete, or the bully who would steal my backpack and stomp on the contents, or Dan Underwood who choked me until I lost consciousness. You know, the horror in this guy's eyes when I said that was probably worse than anything he and his buddies ever did to me in tenth grade. I sort of feel sorry for him, oddly enough.