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Uncle John, and a few months ago, John was throwing out some old boxes of Jim's stuff (mostly VHS tapes and books and outdated electronics).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

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A bit of culture

In other news, I wanted to see PIRANHA 3-D when it came out, but no one would go with me. Finally, on Monday I decided I would go see it by myself, crying in my popcorn, and comment to the invisible ghost of Traysi the Plasma Girl if anything amused me. I told Jeff about my plans, and he made me an offer.

You see, he had been dying to see THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE in the theatre, but after he dragged his wife, kicking and shrieking, to THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, she took the children away and got a restraining order on her (now former) husband. Jeff asked me maybe seven or eight times if I would go with him, but I always had plans with Traysi's invisible ghost.

So, Jeff's proposal was that, if he went to see PIRANHA 3-D with me on Tuesday, would I go see FLICKAN SOM LEKTE MED ELDEN with him on Wednesday?

I had to think about it. There's something about being dragged (kicking and shrieking) to see a movie in Swedish that truly frightens and intimidates me. Plus, I hadn't seen the original. Plus, I didn't want to.

But he really hates 3-D, as much as I hate that Progressive Insurance woman. And sure enough, he was there with bells on to see the CG fish eating boobies movie with me. I was worried, on the drive over, that PIRANHA wouldn't be very good, and then I'd be stuck seeing Jeff's movie with him, and started plotting a way to avoid seeing Jeff's movie altogether.

I didn't succeed.

I don't like feeling left out, so I tried to get ambitious and watch GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO before we left, not realizing I could just stream it from NetFlix, so I ended up seeing about 89% of it before Jeff arrived to cart me off. He an hour away from his house to see this movie, so I should've known there was no dissuading him (he had also read all the books in preparation for this auspicious day).

We drove up there, and he told me a bit about the books, and went to the arthouse theater I've always found to be a bit skeevy for some reason. We were the only ones in the room, but right before it started, I think two or four others joined us.

I've always had a problem with subtitles and foreign names (and cultures). Their names (and sometimes their faces, sorry) all seem the same to me. But to be honest, these two movies were pretty straightforward and understandable, and the culture was Western enough that I never had to ask, "If she's a widow, then why can't she be seen shaking hands with that unmarried man on a Qwynsday afternoon again?"

If you're like me, then you probably know what I'm talking about. And if you're not like me, then feel free to mock me, but I often find it hard to relate to the characters and situations in foreign films, since their language and mannerisms and entire frame of reference strikes me as so alien. Plus, I'm a dialogue guy, and if I can't pronounce it or remember it, I can't quote it back later.

Plus, I'm the devil.

The movie was well-made, and as the second part of a Trilogy, ended with some plotlines still to be resolved, but also tried to satisfy on its own, which I find to be quite a difficult accomplishment.

Jeff liked it a great deal, and seemed almost desperate that I vow to come see THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST when it comes out in a few . . . minutes. We got dinner and talked about the movie, then drove the loooooooooong way home, just, I suspect, so Jeff could have a bit more of a night out.

He's a good guy, even if he is more machine now than man, twisted and evil.

I need to get more culture. I used to want to go places and speak many languages, and lately I've just been stagnating, allowing my ambitions to scatter like cockroaches when the light's switched on. So, it was good for me to see these films, and justifiable for Jeff to force me like he did.

And despite myself, I think I ended up enjoying the two Swedish flicks more than I did PIRANHA. I'm not sure how that could have happened.

Just don't let Jeff know.

Rish Teleborian Outfield