Touched? No, just moved.


That’s my version of an exclamation point, by the way.

Okay, not entirely finished.  I still need to finish changing my address in all the appropriate places (again), and there’s some piles of junk that I have to weed through, and two biggish boxes of garbage that need to go out.  Outside of that, though…

And so the vacation begins.  Hoo fucking rah. Or whatever.  I’m really too wiped out to be excited like I should be, and digesting a monstrously huge stuffed potato to boot. Tomorrow, more significant pontificating about remembering the future and other lightheaded ideas. Today, catching up on Netflix.

Dressed to the Seven of Nines

Wade sent me an article from (Condemning Comic-Con Costumes) this morning with the subject “for a blog post.”

This, kids, is how we writers come up with our inspiration. Fuck a bunch of muses, or drug-induced bursts of spirituality, or even imagination. It’s pretty much friends mailing friends, saying, “Hey. Fucker. Write about this, or I’ll poke you in the eye with a really big sharp pencil.”

I stopped going to conventions a while back, around the same time that I got out of comics. Unfortunately, I started reading comics again (heroin, you ain’t shit next to four-color collectibles). Also, CL is a comic- and various-other-forms-of-geekery nerd; while this is endearing, and one of the biggest reasons that we got together in the first place (thanks, Warren and Joss), it also means that I might be going to Dragon*Con this year, to do a little reporting for my old friends at and to see the sights. And said sights tend to include people in costumes.

I’ve got nothing against people in costumes, for the most part. These cons are one of the rare havens for people like me* to really relax and be comfortable in their utter and sort of sad detachment from reality. If they want to dress up like Darth Maul or a hobbit or Harry Potter, more power to them. Even more power to the girls who emulate Dark Phoenix or Witchblade or Leia’s bikini moment.

If your costume is a little shoddy, a little on the cheap side — who cares? Not everyone has money to spend on a weekend’s outfit, or access to special effects wizards or makeup artists. All that matters, really, is that they’re having fun. God knows the cons are so overpriced and often underwhelming that whatever you want to do to have fun should slide. Especially if you’re a hot girl who wants to dress like an anime schoolgirl.

Sjöberg makes some salient points — the lightsaber comment, for instance.  And the mask guys — why bother?  The only thing that I can think of here is that you’re stalking someone, and that’s not fun.  That’s barely funny, for that matter.

Oh, and — well, there’s really no nice way of saying that fat people and spandex just don’t mix.  Seriously.  There’s no humor here.  Just — look, there are plenty of characters that wear loose clothing.  Hagrid. Jabba the Hut.  Hell, show up as the Kingpin.  Or… just don’t wear spandex, okay?  It’s just wrong.  And maybe I’m wrong for being so blunt about it, but if my girlfriend can look like she does at 36, then you can break away from your eight hundredth rereading of Lord of the Rings or your Klingon lessons and get outside for a little exercise, yeah?

Sorry.  Rant off.

One last thing, though — this Sjöberg, as noted in his byline, is a Foley artist.  Cool.  He’s also a performance artist, which is another way of saying, “I have no room to talk about people that wear shoddy costumes to conventions, because performance art is synonymous with pretentious time wasting.” So all you kids with tin foil Wolverine claws — keep on raiding mom’s kitchen for those supplies.  You’re no worse off than a performance artist in the long run.

* Oh, who am I kidding?  I’m a nerd, sure, but I look like James Dean and Elvis and Frank Sinatra in his heyday, all rolled together and then multiplied by ten, in a roomful of comic conventioneers.  My week at San Diego was one of the most hellish times of my life, when I learned the importance of daily showers and appreciation for every woman in my life, past and future.  

Sixteen Candles, plus or minus a few…

I’m not a morning person, as two ex-wives, Kevin, my family and now CL will readily attest.  In fact, I hate mornings, being forced out of slumber and a warm bed, with an unbridled fury that I normally reserve for Ann Coulter and Mariah Carey albums. I don’t wake easily, nor happily.

I used to attribute this to my lifestyle-induced lack of sleep; for years now, I’ve subsisted on two to four hours of sleep a night, catching up on Sundays as best as I could.  Turns out that’s not true, though; ever since CL and I started dating, I’ve entered the world of Adult Human, and I get about eight hours or so a night.  As I always predicted though, the deleterious side effect of adjusting to a healthy amount of sleep is that on those mornings following nights that I have to stay awake late (to work at the bar or play with the Exhibit(s)), I’m absolutely miserably exhausted.

We played an extra night this week, helping Carlos fill his slot on the calendar last night, and so for two nights in a row I’ve not gotten to bed until three AM-ish, which meant that this morning I might as well have been dead.  If it weren’t for CL, I probably would have slept until noon or beyond; I didn’t hear either of my alarms at all.  Fortunately, today is her birthday, which (counter to the schedule and stress of the past week) made this morning a really good waking.

Not having kids, and not planning to, I never would have imagined that I would feel like my parents in certain ways.  Mostly, I think of things like the eye-rolling dread that comes with a 2 AM phone call from the local precinct asking for bail money, or the anger at yet another window or screen broken with a soccer ball.  But as I lay there this morning, smoking a cigarette and trying desparately to keep my eyes open, watching Cynthia open her presents, I had that weird feeling of looking at the world through someone else’s eyes, and it hit me that I was living my parents’ lives on every Christmas when I was a kid.

It’s impossible to wake up with anything other than a warm heart and a glowing outlook on life when a beautiful woman is sitting next to you with the eyes and smile of a child.  I understand now how my parents were able to get so little sleep and still not kill us with our own gifts every year.

Happy birthday, CL.  And thanks for letting me celebrate it with you.

Eruption, indeed.

In a major crossover move, rock superstar Eddie Van Halen has joined forces with adult director Michael Ninn to write and perform two songs for the upcoming Ninn Worx feature, Sacred Sin. Although several big-name rappers have contributed material to XXX movies, Van Halen is probably the first major rock star to lend his name to an adult project.

Van Halen told he’s not bothered by possible criticism. “I’m working with a friend — very simple. I like his work,” he said. “Michael Ninn is like a Spielberg to me: the imagery, the way he makes things look, just… sensual.”

AVN :: Articles – Rocker Eddie Van Halen Collaborates with Michael Ninn in Sacred Sin

[Even more disturbing is the teaser trailer for the movie.]

Truly, moving

Finally, I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel in this move.  Or maybe I should say that I’m finally starting to see bare walls and bits of what may or may not be the floor in my soon-to-be old apartment…

Moving like I do has its ups and downs.  I like to take a week or so to move, making a trip or two a day to get things from one place to the next. It’s much less tiring, and I can recycle boxes, as I go.  This keeps me unpacked as I go, and doesn’t give me the chance to let things pile up in towering stacks of boxes in the new place.  On the flip side, it means that my stuff is in two different places for up to a week.

It’s a balancing game, really.

Moving the cats is always fun, too.  I forget how much they hate getting in a moving car, how much more rapidly they tend to shed as I go down the road, and how godawfully annoying that scared and confused sound that comes out of their throats is.

It’s a good time to weed things out that you’ve let collect over the months or years.  It’s also a really good time to clean things that don’t always get hit on the weekends — the backs of bookshelves, for instance, or the powerstrip that has collected cat hair behind the widescreen TV.

All this said, I’m ready to be done.  I’ll finish up next Monday, the first day of my first vacation in quite some time.  Cleaning the carpets, making sure all my stuff is out, returning the keys and making sure the utilities are off or out of my name.  After that, it’s a week of catching up on DVDs and books, playing some XBox, writing a few short scripts — nothing out of the ordinary, except that, for the first time in two years, I’ll be doing all that in the comfort of an air-conditioned apartment.

Skin Me

I’m not the best friend in the world. I know this straight up, and I’m not too proud to pretend otherwise. I rarely answer phone calls. I’m terrible at making time for others, far too often. I’m absolutely awful at keeping up.

But on the flip side, I do think I’m a pretty good friend, overall. I never break dates, unless there are issues with emergencies or what not. I’m honest (sometimes to a fault). I try to give thoughtful gifts, at the appropriate times. I mostly stay out of business that isn’t mine, except when asked.

But even moreso, I try very hard to be a decent person, especially to my friends. I am considerate of their space and property. I make no assumptions about things that I am welcome to do or use. I try to leave things the way I found them.

I don’t think any of these are exceptional behaviors. In fact, this is the least I think that people should expect from me, or anyone else.

Like anyone else, I get angry, even at my friends. They’re not perfect, and neither am I. But I tell my friends when they’re doing something that bothers me; I expect the same of them. Open communication and honesty are the cornerstones of any relationship in my world, much less a friendship.

And it saddens me to see any of my friends getting taken advantage of, or mistreated, or being on the receiving end of inconsiderate, self-centered behavior. There is very little that angers me in the world; you can, for the most part, do or say anything to or about me, and it’s water off this duck’s back. But don’t fuck with my friends; while I’m perfectly aware that any and all of them are well-capable of taking care of themselves, I still get a little protective. It’s the curse of being the oldest of four kids, I guess.

And I won’t do anything directly, because most of the time, I’m peripherally involved in or aware of the situations going on around me. For the most part, my life is soap opera-free; I cut ties with ninety percent of the dramatic people in my life years ago, and made a promise to myself that I would avoid such people as much as possible in the future. But my friends are grown-ups, and if they choose to befriend those types that I feel are best off left alone — well, it’s not place to tell them otherwise, and so I don’t. But when pressed hard enough, I will step in and provide a defense, even sometimes at cost to myself.

I’ve watched my brother James get badly mistreated by an ex, and it infuriated me repeatedly. I let it go, as it wasn’t my place to do anything about it (particularly if he wasn’t doing anything about it), but it still would creep into my field of vision every so often. It’s happened to many of my friends, in fact, and I have to keep reminding myself that the only person that can change things is them.

But it still makes my skin crawl: to think that there are people walking this earth, breathing the same air as me, who would call themselves your friend and then treat you as nothing more than a tool for their convenience. I know we’ve all had rough lives. Some of us weren’t raised very well or taught how to be decent people outside of our own gains, but I’ll bet we all know the Golden Rule, yeah?

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It’s really about that simple. To pretend otherwise is just selfish and ungrateful, and eventually, that sort of behavior will come back to haunt you — whether you accept accountability or not. And who will you turn to then, when you’ve pushed everyone who cares about you away?

But on the flip side, those people do serve a really good purpose: they make me look like the greatest of friend, even in spite of all my faults.

See? It’s all about perspective.

Things not to say to the doorman on your way in to the bar, no matter how happy he looks

“But I turn 21 next week!”
Well, darlin, as of next week, you’ll be able to enjoy all the alcohol you want at any of the fine drinking establishments in town, and the number of guys you can add to your bedpost notches will grow dramatically. Until then, sounds like you’ll enjoy drinking at home.

“I just got out of jail for beating up a door guy.”
If this is a challenge, it’s not a very smart one, since when you fuck with one member of a bar staff, you tend to fuck with them all. If it’s meant to impress upon me that you’re just here to have a good time and won’t be disruptive, you may want to spend a few hours working on that approach.

“This is no way to treat a regular.”
Wow, really? I don’t recognize you, you don’t recognize me — you must not be very regular.

“I don’t have an ID, but they let me in here last week.”
First, thanks for jeopardizing our bar license twice in a week. It doesn’t matter if you’re 21 or 81, if the ABC board decides to have one of it’s random raids on a night when you’re in, we’re screwed — including large fines for every person on staff that night, and for the bar as an entity. And I don’t want to get my ass kicked by the bartenders, the barback, the owner… It’s not just that you have to be 21 or older to drink in a bar; you must have PROOF that you are 21 or older. That’s the law. Don’t take it up with me. Talk to your congressman.

“Yeah, I was banned, but Bartender X isn’t here tonight.”
Well, shitmonkey, the rest of us are.

“I’ve got three grams of coke I’m looking to unload.”
Not in this bar, champ. Even if I’m sympathetic to your cause, as it were, I enjoy having a bar to come to work at, one that hasn’t gotten shut down in a raid. Take it elsewhere.

“I love to get fucked up and FIGHT!”
I love telling you at the door that you’ll be getting fucked up elsewhere, because the least favorite part of my job is breaking up fights.

“I’ll blow you if you’ll let my underage friend in.”
This used to seem like a worthwhile trade, until you consider that these girls have probably been to a few bars already, and I’m not a big fan of contributing to the town square fountain.

Ah, weekends at the bar… What fun you can have. Or so I hear.

These Memories Can’t Wait

Yesterday is a cancelled check;
Tomorrow is a promissory note;
Today is the only cash you have,
so spend it wisely.
Ancient Chinese Secret

I don’t remember my grandfather very well (speaking maternally, as it were; my father’s father died before he and my mother ever met, and so I know him only through the stories my father and his brothers and mother have told over the years). He was, if memory serves (and as I’ve noted many times before, if it’s prior to the age of 12 or so, memory serves about as well as most of the people I worked with at Ruby Tuesdays), a mean, grouchy old man who really had little use for children.

Keep in mind that I don’t say this with any bitterness. I don’t remember him ever being really spiteful toward me or Mandy, nor did he ever (that I recall) lay a hand on either of us. He just was sort of there in my peripheral vision when we would go visit my grandmother, Merv. I do recall Saturdays watching wrestling with him, six-year-old me sitting on their blue leather recliner while he sat in his customary position at the far end of the sofa, smoking his cigarettes.

The clearest memory that I have of him is him towering above me on the stairs in their house as he showed me old coins that he had, explaing what they were and where they came from. The specifics have gone the way of Theater Appreciation 102 in my head, but what I remember the most vividly was that he was talking to me, and even smiling every now and then. I think I was about seven or eight at the time, and it confused me; grumpy old Da was being nice to me, and even at that age I knew something was amiss.

It was shortly after that that my mother sat me and Mandy down and explained Alzheimer’s to the both of us, and our adventures in the world of the mnemonically challenged began.

I always thought it was funny, at that age — the idea of a grown man wandering out of the house in his underwear, getting lost in his own neighborhood, forgetting the names of grandkids, his only child, his wife and sisters. But I started seeing more and more what it was doing to my mom, and to my grandmother, and the seriousness set in.

He eventually died from some abdominal something or another; I was thirteen, and have little to no memory of him after the stairway conversation. It seemed, strangely, like a relief for my mom and grandmother, something I wouldn’t understand for another fifteen years.

Shortly thereafter, my grandmother moved down to Birmingham from Nashville, to be closer to my mom and us (my mother is an only child). That would have been around ’87 or so; by 1990, my parents had finished building their new house with a connected apartment for her to live in. I had moved out in the summer of ’89, after high school, and again, my memory gets fuzzy regarding family stuff, but I know that it was before my divorce in ’94 that Murv, too, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Whether from youth or emotional distance from my grandfather, the only effect the disease had on me in round one was watching the effect it had on others. This time around, it was much different. Murv was the one person outside of my immediate family that I had ever (or would ever, to this day) feel any sort of connection with. It was painful to watch the slow decay of her memory — even more so, I think, because I wasn’t living with her and seeing it every day. Instead, I visited weekly, and thus the progression was more noticeable.

She would ask over and over, ten or twenty times in the course of a visit, if I had talked to Jen, if I had found someone new yet, how my classes were going (I hadn’t taken classes since ’92). I never minded answering repeatedly, though, because there was still that grandmotherly concern there. It wasn’t long — maybe I mean to say that it wasn’t long enough — before she started misrecognizing me, first as my father (which was tough to spot, since we have the same name), then as my grandfather, then as one of her brothers who had passed away many years earlier (my mom had to tell me whose name she was calling me).

Her physical health got worse and worse; she was having small strokes, which were causing jumps of progression in the Alzheimers, and she developed some sort of cancer in her shoulder. Mom and Dad moved her into a nursing home, so that she could get the constant attention that she needed. I didn’t visit much; it was too hard for me, and frankly, she wasn’t my grandmother any more, not even in mild flashes of recognition.

In April of 1999, we went to Nashville for her funeral, and I finally understoof the relief that I had seen in my mom’s eyes all those years earlier. My grandmother had disappeared somewhere along the way back, becoming little more than a barely functional shell of meat along the way; she was in a better place, no matter what I believe or don’t about an afterlife. My mom had taken on the maternal apron for the her own mother, and now that extraordinary burden was off her shoulders.

I think there’s some sort of irony to be found in my memories of both of them being almost dominantly pre-Alzheimers. And that’s exactly the way I’d prefer it, honestly; maybe it’s delusional, or pathetically nostalgic, but I don’t really care. They’re my memories, and I’ll do with them as I please, knowing full well that genetics or an act of God may take them from me on a whim.

Once, long ago, I saw the sun inside the fire
But now my eyes are burned and blind
The time has come to walk the road into tomorrow
And put the memories behind
-Frames Per Second, Awakening

Did an emo kid crawl up your ass and cry itself to death?*

And to continue borrowing from the same source, I finally figured out why I have such a big problem with passive-aggressive behavior. “You know better. There’s nothing passive about my aggression.”

I have a great respect for those who speak their minds without playing mindgames. It’s direct and open, and refreshing due to its rarity.

There is such a thing as too much, obviously. Some truths don’t need to be spoken, for there is nothing gained, at least in any discernible positive sense. Not that I think that lies should be told; I’m just advocating a don’t tell if not asked policy in such situations. If you confront me, I’ll give you honest answers to any questions you might have; just don’t expect me to volunteer said answers if there’s no point behind it.

But this isn’t so much about honesty as it is directness. It’s about telling friends or family or lovers or coworkers that you have problems with them or their behaviors, instead of telling everyone else and potentially doing unnecessary damage to their reputations. It’s about knowing that most of the people around you aren’t mind readers, and aren’t going to magically figure out what’s pissing you off. It’s about treating your fellow person with respect.

Confrontation is not fun. Passing bad news to someone is not something that most of us would ever choose to do; firing someone from a job, breaking up with your significant other, evicting someone, sentencing someone — very few of these things are matters that any of us look forward to doing. It automatically puts you, at least in the eyes of the recipient, in the role of the bad guy, and very few of us dream of the day we get to finally put on our black hat and march out to the scorn of the world.

But a passive-aggressive approach to such situations doesn’t help anyone. In fact, it only prolongs the pain, for both parties, in the meanwhile doing nothing to advance toward a solution.

You can pull the glass out of the wound quickly, suffer through the pain, and let the healing begin. You can avoid it altogether and hope for a bit of luck, some natural healing and no infection (on balance, though, you risk more pain and worse damage in the long run). And then, alternately but seemingly the most popular option all too often, you can go at the glass in your foot by reaching through the chest and trying to sneak up on it, or by picking at your toes with a knife until your foot decides to get angry enough to get the glass out itself.

Okay, fine. So the analogy falls completely fucking apart. Which, I think, just goes a step or two toward proving my point for me, that being direct is the best policy. As such:

Stop being passive-aggressive. It’s a really ugly look, and serves to accomplish little more than pissing a lot of people around you off. You don’t want to be the bad guy? That sort of behavior makes you worse: the snivelling underling of the villain, too cowardly to ever be of any real consequence.

That, and you start sounding like an emo kid crawled up your ass and cried itself to death.

* Blantantly stolen from R.K. Milholland’s Something Positive. If you’re not reading this every day, you’re missing out on what is, hands down, the best ever webcomic for snarky, so-unhip-you’re-hip-again nerd types ever. Ever. Seriously. Stop doubting me, or I’ll shove a Dungeon Master’s Guide in your eye socket.