though I’ve been avoiding it, and the longer I was away, the harder it was to get back, I DID go back this morning. To the gym. Excuses: I was sick, I was tired, I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I had an infection, I was at my girlfriend’s house, I had too much work to do. Blah, blah, blah.
the power went out. I had to reset my clocks, and when I woke up this morning, I found myself with an extra half hour. So, I put on those shorts, those sneakers, stuffed the work clothes in a bag, and WENT.
I was slow, I’d lost some of the cardio health I’d built up, and I was sweating inside 5 minutes. Yes, walking. Fat men sweat easily. Watching the monitors of the several different TV stations, though, I tuned more into my music, even with the missing cover for the earbud that somehow affected the dB levels going into my left ear.
Somewhere, I started gathering power from doing the damn thing, and though I was sweaty, though I’m out of shape, I grew proud that I was here, doing the necessary thing to go from amorphous mass to being chiseled from… modeling clay? Dough? Certainly not stone. Not yet.
Then a song came on the tune player, saying exactly what I was thinking, feeling. His voice was yell-singing through a megaphone, saying “I wanna get better,” and as he did, I looked up. Between the yellow and purple machines, and the diamond plate walls was a single word:
Years of reading history came back to me, just as years of bad eating and laziness had, and it all became so clear. There is no lightness in being, there is no unrestricted movement and growth, there is no success, no matter how small without work. My long-ago memory of studying a Teutonic tongue came back, and turned a genocidal slogan on its head without changing the wording at all: Arbeit macht frei.
But in this, there is no death. In these words, there is no genocide. There is no wall between me now and me later. No jelly donut talking head, Only the work to be done to free my body from the pain of weight, carried around far too long. Smiling, loving, “screaming at myself / HEY / I wanna get better!”
It’s true. Liz and I went to a musical, of my OWN volition. You might think it was only because the tickets were 5 bucks, or because the theater was only several blocks from my house, but no… I ACTUALLY wanted to see this production. Those other things just helped a lot.
So, Little Shop of Horrors at Bristol Riverside Theater was really good. I usually think musicals are corny and my eye-rolling muscles usually get a good workout, but the music was great. Mostly early rock and roll/girl group harmony-laden stuff, and the singer-actors were strong, likeable and mostly hit all their notes and marks. This was a final preview night with a talkback at the end, so they were still making final tune-ups, so last minute gaffes were to be expected. Even with that, I’m glad I saw this.
For those that don’t know, Little Shop follows nerdy man-child Seymour as he lives and works for his ostensible adopted father Mr. Mushnik in a run-down flower shop on Skid Row. He’s in love with the shop girl, Audrey, but can’t get it together to woo her, as she’s in love with an abusive dental professional. Seymour finds his solace in working with plants, until he finds a curious plant that he nurtures that seems to have a thing for blood. Remember, this is musical, and if you took the music out of it, this would be a very dark tale, which is just my sort of thing.
But hey, add that rock-n-roll soundtrack, and a torch/come-to-Jesus song like Suddenly Seymour, and it’s a cute, dark comedy that even a gruff curmudgeon will sit through. Don’t worry about Rick Moranis and Steve Martin. Go to Bristol Riverside and check out THEIR production.
A thing that presents itself every year that I never want to open
Every year, I hope it gets easier and easier, and each year, I’m more and more incorrect. The Christmas season gets harder and harder for me to deal with every year. The last two have been especially hard, because I’ve either been underemployed or…
Years ago, when I was still learning how to do comedy, there were times when my big closing bit would not quite get the response that I’d hoped it would. That is to say, I would conclude my set with (what I considered to be) my best, most hilarious piece of material, and, more often than I…
Because I loved this story, and I appreciated Peter O’Toole, for certain.
Gene took his niece and nephew to the movies, just like every Thanksgiving. Made stuffing, and took ambrosia to a homely altar of family togetherness. The meal was tasteful, subdued, and lubricated by some spiritous liquors. Still, dysfunction…
… and I noticed, even though it’s buried in the back. Scrape my memory off your little electronic memory book, huh? Ok. Like I was some sort of bad apple, when all I ever did was make people laugh.
it’s ok. Nobody stuck up for me in my absence. I see what kind of people you all are now. Not all, some. The rest are too busy with their own lives, doing more important things, like I should be. Still, this nags like a broken tooth, or a scab that never quite heals. I keep pickin’, though it’s only me that hurts.
Someday, I’ll have a last laugh about this. It won’t be soon, if ever, but even if it’s one short chortle, the day I choke out that last breath? I’ll be square.
whiledaringgreatly asks: I know this is a very basic question, but I’ve been working to adopt your process of focusing on one scene at a time as a way to get myself through a particularly long and daunting project. What makes, to your mind, a great scene?
In general terms, if your character…
Joe Hill is awesome, and I think I like his output even better than I liked his dad’s.
Also, I just bought a copy of 20th Century Ghosts yesterday that I’m diving into today!
How I Reacted Internally When She Replied on LibroFace.
She asked me why I hadn’t written, and I told her I felt no pull in that direction anymore. She thought I’d be “as prolific as ever”, and I wondered what that meant. As prolific as I was… back when we dated 15 years ago? As prolific as I was angry at life in my early 20s? Or as prolific as all the weight I gained, diving headlong into binge eating, stress eating, and secret cigar smoking and occasional drug use? As prolific as all the late night trips to Wawa, accumulating the stained, mouldering wrappers of sandwiches and soft pretzel salt chunks on the floor of my car?
She has a much better vision of me as a writer, preferring to remember me in a good way. Like Elvis in his gold lame suit, rather than the victim of a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich atop everyman’s throne. Denis Leary might send me a cease and desist order for stealing that joke, but he’ll probably just tweet about it, compile it and write another book for people to buy.
The only winner here is Denis Leary, or maybe the ex-girlfriend, who wins by having the good thoughts about me. Me? I always lose, but my consistency makes me smile.
Pass the snacks, I have an emotional hole to fill.
The postal clerk tagged and stickered all the separate boxes, bound for different places, then rang up her total, asking “anything we should worry about, like drugs, weapons, or body parts?” Her face never changed as she handed over her credit card, paid and walked out; it was only later he saw the red liquid leaking from the big square box.
Walk around with an undefined hatred too long, it eats at everything you are. Same with an unrequited lust. The best thing you can do is define the elements, the people, the objects of hatred, forgive them and move ahead. I still haven’t shaken a few things, and maybe i need to hate more to finally forgive.
I am not divine, and i will continue to hate, to question, and maybe, one day, to finally get beyond. In the meantime, I am what most are…. Unresolved.
I could say I’ve had a rough year, but that wouldn’t really be true. More like an unstable year, but it’s helped clarify a few things. But as I close in on my 35th birthday, I get a head cold. In the heat of July.
Sympathy cards can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I loved that Schleprock song when I first heard it years ago. It was poking tongue in cheek fun (or maybe it wasn’t so much fun?) at the need for people who can’t do their own thinking to be corralled, led, and inspired by something like a 3 minute song, a groovy commercial or continuously recycled messages promising Bigger Better Faster More. That song did exactly what anthems are supposed to do: it made me pump my fist in the air, sing along, and even dance, being led by a melody and crunchy, repeating chords and grooves, even as I knew I was being manipulated.
Years ago, I’d heard about Ayn Rand, and her The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged being landmark novels that outline something called the objectivist philosophy. I’m not going to outline that here, but after years of circling around her work, I finally read one of her shorter works today, the book known as Anthem.
I’ve read post-apocalyptic works before, and I’ve read works where a person breaks from the crowd and goes against the collective, only to succeed in carving out a life for himself or herself. In a way, Rand is far more succinct and plain about things like George Orwell wrote about in 1984, namely the idea of “thoughtcrime”. The narrator lets us know that to have thoughts of singularity is criminal, and that there is a word that, learned and uttered, leads to a death sentence. And yes… that word is the singular pronoun, “I”.
Now, being a person leaning liberal for most things, I had to avoid seething at what I perceived to be this reductio ad absurdum of a conservative notion that passing laws to help govern and regulate society would create a world where independent thought was criminal. Of course, even the idea that, all around the world at the same time, there were simultaneous civil wars in which massive dumb majorities fought against smaller, superior intelligences, wiping them out, and then deciding a way forward that rejected technological advances and the sum of human knowledge to that point… well that’s just stupid. But then, maybe Rand was only operating within constraints when she wrote ANTHEM.
I will say this, though, that the idea that independent thought being ground out entirely is horrifying. Even in places ruled by the “evils” of “socialism”, which seems to be the thing that most vocal conservatives fear the most, independent thought continues. Trying to quash it, corral it, and drown it out can only last so long; even that massive beast of Marxist Leninist Socialism, the USSR, only lasted about 70 years. And really, that’s the message Rand sends through ANTHEM.
The individual can’t be buried forever. Amen… and for now, the late Ayn Rand, I can say that I’m (at least partially) agreeing with you.
Weird dream department, Chicago by way of Bristol version.
Found myself on a run-down and abandoned amusement pier with a girl named Michelle from the education masters program I abandoned. I asked her why we were there, and she said she had to show me something, and that it was really good to see me, after so much time. I agreed, and then, as we walked among the rubble, I wondered aloud why everything was backlit and I couldn’t make out much. To tell the truth, I wasn’t even sure it was Michelle, but then, nobody looks the same, backlit with orange arc-sodium lights.
In the shadow of a derelict ferris wheel (was this a post-explosion Navy Pier we were on?), Michelle called to me to come over to where she was standing, but to watch out. I put my foot on a pile of broken concrete and twisted rebar, and up flew a camp of bats. Most of them flew over to harrass Michelle, but one seemed particularly enamored of me, and flew up under my shirt. I freaked out so hard that—-
—-I woke myself up, still fumbling with the shirt I was wearing, and had to rip the shirt off my head, just to make sure there was no small brown bat invading my personal, undershirt space. There wasn’t, and though I thought it would be a good time to go back to bed, I stayed awake and stared at the ceiling.
Was this because Michelle and all my other Chicago Dawgs just ended their year of servitude to the program we were all in together? Was the disappearing bat the program, or the fear I had in going into/leaving the program? Why was it Michelle and not one of the people I was closer with?
All I got are questions, and a residual fear of bats. Mr Lydon may ride again, just the same.