Sunday, March 17, 2013

The eagle has landed!

And by "eagle" I mean my first novel, Angel Falls. And by "landed", I mean... taken off. Launched. Begun its ascent to the heavens, powered only by your love and good word-of-mouth. Anyway. I've been meaning to blog more leading up to the novel, but things have been crazy busy here, in good and bad ways. There's a LOT that's about to happen. Interviews, contests, giveaways, and hopefully a new blog platform that integrates better with Joomla. This is a placeholder of sorts. A start line. A note to the world that says, hey, I just checked my blog pageviews for the first time in a long time, and I see some new hits coming, so it's time to get busy reconnecting. Next week,, I'm going to tell you the story of the cover for Angel Falls and how it came to be, and announce another few things. I get bored by self-promotion, though,so expect rambling and comedy and funny pictures, like this one:

Are you done laughing yet? See you soon!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

It was a Pleasure...

One of my fondest memories of LA is walking down Larchmont Street with my wife after lunch, just killing time on a nice weekend. There is a bookstore at the end of the block (Chevalier's Books), all glass windows and nice displays. We'd never been in before, but we wandered by and saw a table set up by the window where an older man sat, alone, reading at a table. There was someone standing near him and talking to him, but otherwise the store was mostly empty. We walked a few more feet and saw a sign on the window: Ray Bradbury signing books today.

Then it was time for a series of comical doubletakes. Me to my wife. Us to the sign. Us back to the man at the table. We scurried in, amazed that the store was so empty when a literary legend was inside. I scooped up Fahrenheit 451 and Stories and got them signed. We didn't say much to him, as he seemed a bit tired, but he was very friendly. We expressed our amazement to the cashier at his presence, and she said, "Oh, he just comes over to sign books sometimes." Unannounced, no fanfare, just... hey, I'll sign some books if you have them.

Words, worlds, wonder. Ray Bradbury had much to give, much to teach, much to say, and thank god we've got his thoughts captured on paper for the generations to come.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Morning After (13.1 Miles)

I'm jotting this down blearily as I spend Sunday night recovering from running in the San Diego Rock n' Roll Half-Marathon. This is the third half-marathon I've run, the second in 2012, with 2 more to go (PLUS a Zombie escape fun run 5K thing later).

What have I discovered?

The San Diego event was huge. Not Big, HUGE! I think there were in excess of 25,000 people running here (it also had a full marathon component). So, I feel bad griping about some of the volunteer/layout issues, because this one was bigger than the others I've run in. Still, it's hard not to complain when you approach a table for water and they kind of make eye contact with you, then turn away/don't extend the cup. It's hard enough to get my considerable frame up to speed (and I use the term "speed" here very generously), so having to slow down more than I already did to grab water, and sometimes having to stop altogether when someone decided to walk across the path, well, that puts a damper on seeing a time of 2:11.

But I had fun on the road, really I did! I turned in my fastest half-marathon yet! My goal is to get under two hours by the end of the year. I'm going to lay out my playlist highlights from this run, along with some thoughts about it.

The day before, the best of all possible omens. I met David Bowie's Doggelganger on my way to pick up my stuff.

The Beginning:
Gear. This time, I wanted to look sexy and have less ache in my calves at the end and zero chafed/bleeding nipples (TMI, I know, but you should have seen me after the Pasadena run. I used a ton of BodyGlide before that event, and STILL know what, scratch that, nobody should ever have to see something like that, let alone hear about it). So.
Compression gear! I had compression sleeves for my calves, a compression shirt to avoid chafing, and I've gotta say, that's the way to do these long runs. No issues whatsoever.

We were led into battle by the Marine Corps Marching Band.

Everyone had the chance to put a custom name on their bib. Mine said Monkeywright, but some of the other runners were self-deprecating and fun:

Pre-race also looked like a triage unit, everyone getting last minute musclework done...

I rolled out to some fairly calm music...

The middle:
Things start to pick up after mile 4, time to focus on pace. I need music to keep my feet kicking, and I'm usually not a huge fan of mashups, but this did the trick:

Mile eight and my foot starts to get a weird twinge in it. The options are to pull over and stretch, or power through. It wasn't too bad, but it was nagging, so I gave my foot a pep talk. It went something like this, where my brain was Mike "The Hulk" Easton, and my foot was scared straight:

Others on the highway weren't so lucky. It turned into a rainbow shower of gatorade-colored vomit and people cramping up. I didn't think the climb was that bad, but there were a lot of people falling out here.

The end:
The RnR marathon series is notable for having a local rock band/music group every mile or so on the course, and the selections here were great. Nothing was as awesome as the drum group coming off the freeway:

I never really get to hear the bands because I have my iPod going full blast. I felt them though, very cool. As for my playlist, I built it incredibly well. My power song to kick off the last three miles happened pretty much exactly when I needed it. If you're not getting into Swedish  rap power trio HereComeHeroes, dammit you should:
This rolled into a string of victorious songs, notably YATTA, where I couldn't stop myself from doign the little arm wavey dance during the chorus. Nobody cares about anything after mile 10, so you can feel free to act like a lunatic.
My iphone locator went dead, so my wife couldn't see my approach (and later, it became a horrible mess of garbled texts and dropped calls trying to find each other). She didn't see me coming because she was trying to simultaneously set up video, so I slowed down a bit and made a horrible face. The important thing is, she was there near the end, and it's really the best thing in the world seeing her cheering me on, even if she didn't quite get the picture she wanted.

The finish line was great, if a bit too crowded. People milling around, groaning, celebrating, seeking ice and medical attention. They feed you well and make sure you get water, gatorade and anything else you might need.

Off to medal engraving! I thought I'd call my wife so she'd kno where to meet me, but no dice. Text? No. Apparently Sea World exists in a black hole where no signal can escape.

The After Party:

We went for breakfast in Encinitas, but the highlight of going back to the hotel and cleaning up was meeting royalty. That's right. THE Waffle King. I have been knighted in the carb kingdom.

Sir Waffle-ot am I.

No, YOU'RE a bad breakfast-themed royalty pun! I'm tired!

The collection grows...

Monday, May 28, 2012

So many things.

This is just a brief "What's Happening" post to let you know some cool things:

1. I am running my third half-marathon next Sunday in San Diego
2. I am starting a 15-day (hopefully) juice fast the next day.
4. Holy crap!
5. Yeaaaaah!
6. So anyway, now there's lots to do. I'm strategizing readings, interviews, Twitter things, a new, separate website for the book, all kinds of things. Writing a book is hard, selling a book is harder, marketing the book is harderer. Still, you will ALL very soon have a copy of my book in your hands. By year's end if I can make it happen. I'm narrowing down cover artists (which will be a very exciting prospect if all goes well) and readying the word cannons (which is what I call my hands). You've been warned!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Music Mondays - Top 5 TV Theme Songs ( Cable TV Edition)

These top five lists are pretty fun. I found myself wasting part of a morning playing this amazing game:

Which reminded me that kids nowadays don't even know what a theme song is. They'll never know the joy that comes, ten, fifteen years after a show is off the air, when you can bond with a person just by humming the first few notes of a song, having them join in, a wordless mutual understanding of days gone by...

Where was I?

Theme songs! This week, the Cable sitcom edition. For a show to qualify, it had to be on a station other than the "Big 3". See... hold on, let me explain to the young'uns. When I was little, if you paid for TV

5. It's Garry Shandling's Show
First of all, it's frightening to see how young Shandling looks in this clip, because I always used to think he looked really old when I would watch the show. So many of his jokes went over my head as a young kid, I mostly remember odd comments about lips and hair. I need to find some episodes to watch. This one is notable mostly because of how ridiculously meta the whole thing is, much like the sitcom itself.

4. Brothers
First, this show was pretty groundbreaking in its time. Three brothers run a bar, one of them has only recently come out, and it dealt honestly with the reactions of his somewhat sensible middle brother and rough-around-the-edges older brother. And it was pretty damn funny. Mostly though, I remember it because it was really fun to sing with my Dad. (and since it's the 80s, something needed to feature saxophone...)

3. Fraggle Rock
Hell yes. This song was a god damn party in a box. Listen to that guitar! It's Muppets, it's Henson, there's no resisting.

2. Any theme from the WWF
If you were a fan of horrible production values, large sweaty men, campy drama, or any combination of prayer-saying, vegetable eating, and vitamin taking, then you know what I'm talking about. I could (and have) spent hours on YouTube reliving the glory of Ricky Steamboat's recovery from the savage attack of the Macho Man, Koko B Ware's singing career, Hillbilly Jim leaping from the audience to save Hulk Hogan,  George "the Animal" Steele learning how to talk, Cap'n Lou Albano... man, it doesn't get much better.

1. Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea / Mysterious Cities of Gold
Nickelodeon used to mine a bunch of foreign shows to round out their programming schedule. These two hold a special place in my heart, because they provided the spark that grew into a love of long-form writing. Pretty much every other show on TV for kids was episodic, a thirty minute story with no ramifications carrying over from week to week. These two shows were all about the quest. There was the promise of a goal, an endpoint (and in the case of Spartakus, some pretty kickass Bic and Bac musical breakdowns).
I know the original (non-US) versions of Voltron and Robotech also followed some pretty epic arcs, but I grew up in Wyoming, and our cable stations were pretty limited...
Anyway, the Spartakus theme is sung by Menudo if I remember correctly, and my friend Chris would always judiciously work fart noises into the Cities of Gold theme (right before the aahhhhh-aahhhAHHahhhAhhhh part) which was always good for a laugh.

I think I'll hit up some obscure cartoon music for next Monday's Music selections.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Top Five Odes to Big Booties

I need to get into a regularly scheduled groove for posting blogs. I figure this will be just like when I got into jogging., The only way to do it is to do it. To tie it in with jogging, last week my iPod shuffled in three songs in a 30-minute run that all focused on the glory of the gluteus. Seems like a great place to bring back Music Mondays! Some weeks I might give you a top five list, other weeks might focus on a particular artist or song style, but this week, what's shakin' is what's shakin'. Yeeeeah.

This subject could be further refined, as there are many songs celebrating different types of butts and the athletic feats they're capable of, but this list is about praising booties of all shapes and colors, as long as they're big. Ain't nothin' wrong with that. Without further ado:

5. Buddy Bolden's Blues - Jelly Roll Morton
It's considered one of the first known jazz tunes, and it's not exactly praising the virtues of the butt, but we have to take the bad with the good. And hey, this rendition comes from Dr House himself, with some cool ragtime pimp talk at the end:

4. Big Bottom - Spinal Tap
Comical, sure, but it has its heart in the right place. I don't know if this was the origin of phrases like "The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin'..." and "wear me like a flesh tuxedo", but it deserves its place in history.  This particular performance features every bass player in the known universe:

3. Big Ole Butt -LL Cool J
It was this or Mix-a-Lot, and LL wins by being first. This video contains everything that made the late 80s/early 90s the greatest time in music and fashion history. Seriously ladies, bring back dayglow green mini-dresses with three gigantic buttons on the ass, that's a great look. Now that I'm an adult and can afford Kangol hats and track suits, nobody's wearing them anymore. Cruel fate!

Anyway, enjoy this. There's acting in it. If you weren't around when music was on MTV you're in for a treat - thought bubbles, cameramen with ADHD, needlessly pacing in front of a white background, a panther running around everywhere, come on son....  indulge yourself in this madness. Also, some of those butts ain't that big.

My top two songs get it right for a very special reason - they treat the big booty like Holy Communion. Seriously, both of these songs are like going to church. I don't think there's been a song written about a narrow ass, and god willing, there won't be. Huge choruses, thundering guitars, giving all glory and honor to the booty, forever and ever, amen.

2. I Like it - Foxy Shazam

1. Fat Bottomed Girls - Queen

And that's the list. No ifs or ands, and way too much butt.

If you have a different way to sing the praises of booty, let me know - what are your favorite booty songs?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Listen Up!

Podcasts! Everyone loves podcasts, especially YOU, even if you don't! I'm planning to make this blog a bit more regularly scheduled. Topics. Lists. That kind of thing. I'll probably eventually theme them, you know, Music Mondays, Writing Wednesdays, Sporting...Fridays. Something like that.

In the meantime, let's talk podcasts! I got into podcasts specifically because I hate top 40 pop music, and Los Angeles radio shifted so quickly away from interesting talk/indie music formats to all JackFM style pop that it snapped many a neck. So began my quest to find interesting things to listen to, unfettered by censorship and playing in a wide open field.

Really though, I'm a fan of Adam Carolla's acerbic humor (even when he tells the same story fifty times), and when they blew up LA's last talk station, I followed him to podcasting. Some people do it daily, others weekly, others... whenever, but here are my top five good listens:

1. The Adam Carolla Show - an acquired taste, maybe. Not for everyone, I get it. He has enough of a balance for me between times I think he's spot on and times I couldn't disagree more, but for unscripted free-association banter, he's the king. His Podcasting empire grows quickly (hear also: Penn's Sunday School and Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend - which is my favorite name for a podcast and I'm eternally jealous I didn't think of making that the name of my blog so long ago). Here's a quick hit, technically from when he was still on radio, I think, but still... Adam discussing a swimming pool project with Joel McHale. Right around the 2 minute mark this turns into the greatest anti-LA rage ever...

2. The Film Vault - Anderson and Bald Bryan, two guys who like movies but aren't necessarily in LOVE with movies, talk about...movies. This show somehow broke away from the Carolla network (though Bryan's still there on Ace's show) but they're thriving and doing their own thing. Every show is a creative top five list (Top Five Badass Bitches, Top Five Credit Sequences, or as of this writing - Top Films Films to NOT to Watch While High). If you like hanging out with your friends and casually discussing movies, you'll feel right at home here. If you love film theory and dissecting the finer points of a director's oeuvre (or if you actually know the definition of oeuvre) this probably isn't for you.

3. Booked! - I don't think there's actually an exclamation point in the show's name. There should be. Rob and Livius talk about books. I think one of my running themes in listening is letting people watch and read things so I don't have to. Take that great Film Vault formula and set it in a bookstore. You get the idea. Head to their site now if you want some good suggestions on things to put into your eyeballs.

4. The Dana Gould Hour - Holy crap is this show funny/interesting/amazing. It's a fairly new podcast, and thus far only comes out once a week, but it sits so firmly in my wheelhouse that I don't think I'll be able to live without it. Gould (famous as a stand-up as well as his stint writing for The Simpsons) riffs about a different topic each week (prison, the apocalypse) with his fellow comedians. He peppers in hilarious bits throughout the show (Letters to Penthouse as read by Don Knotts) and also likes to talk about quirky news stories and oddments from the past. Also, everyone should hear Adam West's Batman Has Diarrhea.

5. This American Life - technically this is just the radio show packaged as a podcast, but man do these guys know how to tell stories. I've wasted more time in parked cars and outside of offices simply because I could not move until I heard the resolution of whatever was being discussed. And it's a wide range of things here - prison stories, art stories, news, entertainment... If "real news" is the highway, these guys are the roadside attractions, but beyond being more entertaining than the news, they're often more informative. Here, Shakespeare as performed at a maximum security correctional facility.

Too many to list. The Joe Rogan Experience, Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, Nerdist (which has one of the best theme songs ever), WTF with Marc Maron, The Bill Show, and on and on and on. Stop listening to your radio. There are better things out there than whatever the music industry is trying to force feed you. Get into podcasts now before They do. You know. They. Them.

For the most part, everything you'll find is free, and with fewer (or no) commercials. And best of all, a much higher quality of product, because things aren't being filtered through multiple layers of network censorship, focus groups, and producers and executives who have no idea what they're doing. Get to listening! If you have suggestions, throw them my way. What's on your iPod?