Thursday, November 29, 2007

Radiant News

On Monday, after 8-1/2 weeks of drinking glass after glass of water and forcibly holding it while lying flat on a table, my Dad completed his final radiation treatment for the prostate cancer. Every time we talked on the phone, he started with a countdown of how many days left, growing more and more excited as the number dwindled. Even at Thanksgiving, he greeted me with a hug and "Two more treatments!" before letting me inside the house.

The prognosis looks good, but he returns to the doctor for checkups every three months to make sure the cancer's been eradicated.

For more information about prostate cancer, visit The Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bookwhore Chronicles: Allah Is Not Obliged
10-year-old Birahima is a 10-year-old bilakoro, or uncircumsized child, living on the streets of Togobala in the Ivory Coast because he's afraid to tell his mother that he dropped out of school. But when she dies, no one else in the family can take care of him so he sets out with his step-father Yacouba, a Muslim grigriman, to find his aunt in the forests near Niangbo, Liberia.

They join a caravan crossing the dreary countryside but soon find themselves in the middle of a tribal war. To stay alive, Birahima joins the child-soldiers, is handed an AK-47, too-large clothing and a small stash of hashish with little food, while Yacouba lends his services as a grigriman. In the weeks that follow, Yacouba and Birahima cross the Ivory Coast into Liberia and eventually Sierra Leone in a constantly repeating cycle of switching sides from dictator to dictator, Islam and Christianity working alongside traditional beliefs, surviving while other child-soldiers die adult deaths, the ineffectiveness of government agencies to stem the violence.

Allah Is Not Obliged provides a grim, stark, realistic portrait of survival. Ahmadou Kourouma's choice of a 10-year-old as the narrator allows the reader to see war and its effects from a child's perspective, one of innocence harshly transformed by the violence and the politics. Birahima's brashness and crude language reflect all that he has seen and done -- the political turmoil, the squalid living conditions, the violence; how can someone not be changed by all that needless death and destruction?

Definitely not an easy read, as far as the subject matter is concerned, but a novel worth reading

Sunday, November 25, 2007

An Enchanted Thanksgiving

I enjoyed Thanksgiving this year. A quiet peaceful time spent with the family at my folks' in Laguna. Much to our surprise, even my Brother and his Wife managed to share dinner with us. (His wife's father is in the hospital battling cancer that has spread to his liver, and the two of them spend as much time with him as they can.) And my Mother tried something different this year, ordering a complete meal from Albertson's rather than creating everything herself: turkey, stuffing, mashed red potatoes, green beans, gravy. The only items she made were the deviled eggs and the candied sweet potatoes. We all overstuffed ourselves, talked about my Brother's first marathon on Catalina, showed Grandma my Brother's wedding album -- though afterward, she looked at his wife and asked when she was going to marry -- and laughed until my Grandma yawned saying how tired she was.

The next day, CM and I slept in until 10am -- or, rather, he slept in until 10am. I woke at 8am like I always do on my days off. Instead of lingering in bed, trying in vain to fall back asleep, I slipped away to the living room and finished a book while the Macy's Parade quietly marched across the TV screen. Eventually, CM roused himself from sleep so we could head to M&L's house to clear as many of the guavas from their front lawn as possible. And to check their cats while they spent some quality family time in New York.

With that out of the way, we showered away the pungent guava smell and rested a bit before venturing to Hollywood to see Enchanted at the El Capitan. As far as Disney fairytale movies go, this seems like their standard fair: a beautiful maiden living alone in a forest, meets handsome prince, falls immediately in love but has to battle against a wicked witch/queen in order to win her hand, and blah blah blah happily ever after. The twist in Enchanted is that the wicked queen/witch pushes the beatufiul maiden Giselle into a well, sending her from the animated fantasy world of Andalasia to the real world of New York. A good story from Bill Kelly with great animation and special effects, and solid performances from Susan Sarandon as the Wicked Queen Narissa, James Marsden as the overly romantic Prince Edward, Patrick Dempsey as Robert Phillip who befriends Giselle in New York, Idina Menzel as Robert's fiancé Nancy Tremaine, and Timothy Spall as the Queen's henchman Nathaniel. But this movie definitley belongs to Amy Adams, whose turn as the naïve Giselle thrust into a world she doesn't understand, is one of the best performances of the year. Funny, charismatic, she sings, fights dragons and makes you cry and cheer, I doubt this movie would be as charming as it is without her.

But we didn't learn the most interesting facts about the film until we visited the Enchanted Experience afterwards. Disney set up a gigantic tent behind the El Capitan, filled with costumes from the film, games and activities for the kids, and photo opportunities with all the Disney princesses from Ariel to Giselle to Snow White. They also mixed in fun facts about the film, including all the references to other Disney films, the fact that some of the dancers in one of the musical numbers were the original chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins, that Jodi Benson (Ariel), Paige O'Hara (Belle) and Judy Kuhn (Pocahontas) all had cameo roles in the film, and much more. But all the screaming over-excited children running amok with their parents running after them finally caught up to us, and we made a quick escape, heading to West Hollywood for a late dinner.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Random Long Beach Moments

Monday night, CM and I walked to Mi Lupita for some good Mexican food. The route to the restaurant took us by our local Fire Station, and as we passed, I noticed something odd on their lawn.

In a far corner of the station's front lawn, their mascot -- a life-sized, white plaster sheep -- was painted brown with a fan of feathers stuck to its rump like an oversized, overstuffed turkey. It hung sideways in the air, tied to a metal rod anchored by two long poles on either end. Beneath the sheep "blazed" a makshift plastic fire with red and orange flames "roasting" the poor creature.

I pointed it out to CM who laughed it off.

Cm & I wish everyone a Happy Safe Wonderful Joyous Food-Laden Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Party Over Here...Party Over There, pt. II

At 6am on Sunday morning, the phone rang. CM stumbled quickly to answer it while I rolled back, fell asleep, only to awaken minutes or hours (too early in the moring to know for certain) later when the phone rang a second time. CM rushed to it, and I heard him ask for directions, "Uh huh. Where? Okay." He hurried back to the room, quickly dressed saying that M&L couldn't find the medicine for the twins. "They're getting on the plane at LAX now. I'm heading to their house to look for it." I heard the door click, keys in the lock, but had already thrown the covers over my head and continued snoring.

I woke around 8am to find CM munching a breakfast burrito. I poured myself a bowl of cereal with soy milk. When did you get back? "About 20 minutes ago. You were knocked out." I carefully sat down, balancing the bowl which suddenly piqued Diesel's interest, as I cleared the newspaper from the couch. CM was skimming though the phone book hoping to find something open on a Sunday to ship the medicines out. He dialed number after number while I gulped the cereal then helped the search via the internet. The Post Office wouldn't ship out on a Sunday, and their hub near LAX wouldn't guarantee delivery until Wednesday when the package eventually did ship. All FedEx locations were closed, but we did locate a UPS Store that was open on a Sunday. We opted to try that so we cleaned up, packed a few birthday gifts in the trunk of his car and set out for the store.

The young kid at the store accepted the package of medicines but warned us that they wouldn't ship until Monday. We realized nothing would leave today so grudgingly slipped the medicines into a Next Day Air pouch and sent them on their way -- with a guarantee that they would arrive by 10:30am on Tuesday.

From there, we drove to the car wash which had a long line of cars waiting so we joined the line and relaxed for about 20-30 minutes, being forced to watch that Casper movie with Christina Ricci on an outdoor TV until the man waved his rags in the air and we could escape. And off to Pomona we headed.

We stopped along the way at a Barnes & Noble, not wanting to be the first ones to arrive at the dual party for CM's mother and for one of his great-nieces. He received two texts from his niece, double checking to make sure that we would both be at the party, while I browsed and bought yet another book to add to my pile. However, as we got into his car, his cell rang with M apologizing for making us send something to them in NY on a Sunday of all days. He listened talked laughed as I sat with my latest purchase open in my lap until we finally returned to the freeway.

But wouldn't you know it? The party was to start at 1pm, we arrived at 2pm, and most of his family -- including his Mother -- had not yet arrived. So we displayed the pictures of the twins like proud guncles, munched potato chips with onion dip, and enjoyed a brief rest. Eventually, the rest of the family showed, laden with more gifts and take out from the Olive Garden and a Disney Princess Piñata. The young kids all ran for the bounce house while the adults chatted and hugged. We spent the next three hours devouring the lasagna and spaghetti and breadsticks, laughing as each child took a few swings at the piñata, laughing even more as they surried after the falling candies, singing happy birthday twice, eating too much cake, cracking jokes as presents were opened.

I dozed on the drive back, thoroughly exhausted and happy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Party Over Here...Party Over There, pt. I

After our Saturday morning workout at the gym, after a few hours of shopping for birthday gifts and a housewarming present, after a large load of laundry, we finally headed out for a housewarming party in Culver City. The drive over wasn't all that bad; we didn't hit any traffic and made it to her new apartment by 8:15PM. The only difficulty we encountered was in trying to find someplace to park. Long Beach's parking problems are nothing compared to where her apartment is located. We circled for 30 minutes, getting to know the neighborhood quite well. Poorly lit streets. Too many cars. The curbsides separated by too many unbelievably wide driveways. We finally parked along Venice Blvd. in front of a building smelling faintly of stale urine and alcohol.

We located her building without any problems, but finding her aparment within the building took some time. After walking halfway up two flights of stairs to check door numbers, we found the correct one. She ushered us inside, accepting our plant (her request) with what seemed like a sigh of disappointment -- perhaps succulents weren't the way to go, after all. Only a few others had arrived so we stood chatting in the kitchen while the host finished making spring rolls, filling plates with fresh vegetables, and discussing the organic foods she's bought. She told us to check out new place while she finished in the kithcen, so we hung up our jackets and within a few steps had visited the bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen and the living room, and glanced at the tiny deck. Not a bad place for a single person, very comfy-cozy. But as the party wore on and more people showed, we wondered if she would be able to fit that many more inside. Not to mention the growing pile of shoes by the door which prevented it from opening a few times. But we needn't have worried; most of her co-workers, which included CM, congregated in the living room, while a separate group of her friends selected the bedroom for socializing. The groups didn't co-mingle too much throughout the night.

When the clock struck 11:15pm, we decided to call it a night and head back to Long Beach for some sleep before the next day's parties in Pomona, and around 12:00am, we finally crawled into bed only to be awoken by the phone a few hours later....

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Bump in the Road

Jason inched his car forward along the curb, making sure not to bump the BMW in front of him. As he did a few weeks ago when parallel parking which led to a lengthy humiliating diatribe from a house-slippered woman about his being blind and a menace to parked cars everywhere. His face warmed and flushed every time he parked.

He stopped with what he hoped was enough room, cut the engine and the headlights, grabbed his bag from the floor of the passenger’s side. As he always did now before setting the alarm, Jason walked around the back of the car, checking the tires to make sure they were within the legal limit from the curb, checking the front to make sure his license plate and bumper were nowhere within reach of the other car. Satisfied, he pointed and pressed the key fob, flashing the headlights once, twice before the tiny red light blinked every few seconds from the dashboard.

He started walking toward home, reaching into a front jeans pocket for his cell. Not finding it, he tried the other pocket, then the zippered pouches of his bag. “Now, where....” He slowly turned back toward the car, fumbling again through the bag. Frustrated, he pointed the fob at the car to shut off the alarm, prepping for the loud horn blast that set his teeth on edge (and probably those of everyone in the neighborhood), and opened the driver’s side. Kneeling on the seat, he searched the glove compartment, each cubby in the dashboard, underneath the driver’s seat, and crawling farther into the car, felt beneath the passenger’s seat. Between what felt like an almost-empty roll of paper towels and bits of paper, he grasped the cell. He rubbed it against his shirt to remove any dirt, backed slowly out the door, and noticed a man lying in a heap in the street.

Oh, my god. Someone hit this man! Jason flipped open the phone, his thumb already punching 9-1-1. “Are you alright?” The man groaned, started to sit up. Wondering who in their right mind would hit someone with a car and leave the scene, Jason darted around the car door, tripping over a bicycle.

The front tire was slightly bent but still spun slowly as the bicycle lay on its side. The frame didn’t appear to have suffered any damage, as far as he could tell. As he slowly rose to his feet, he noticed a black mark on the inside of his car door. Not a black mark, but a small dent. And on the ground was a short tread mark, as if something slammed on the brakes at the very last moment.

“Oh shit,” he mumbled.

He hurried to the man on the ground, trying to help him to his feet while the man roughly pushed him away, muttering in Spanish.

“I’m so sorry,” Jason said. “Are you hurt? Do you need a doctor?”

The man ignored Jason, hobbled to his bike and set it on its tires. Jason watched red-faced as he hopped on and pedaled quickly away.

a work of fiction, © G.A. Carter 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Incisors, Bicuspids and Molars...Oh My!

I hadn't seen a dentist in almost 6 years. I knew as I stepped into the office yesterday that my mouth would be in for a lot of work, but just how much caught me off-guard. But before getting into that, I think it wise to mention that I suffer from a terrible gag reflex. The thought of dental x-rays always always makes me anxious, sometimes bringing about a throat closure just before settling into the chair. I warned the dentist, and she took the necessary precautions ("Breathe through your nose. Focus on a spot on the wall. Let's try some salt on the tongue; this will work according to Harvard studies."), but still, trying to fit the tiny x-ray slab wrapped in a blue latex cover along with its cable and the clamp to keep it from sliding down my throat was not pretty. 30 minutes and multiple dry heaves later, she triumphantly sighed that she finagled an entire set of pictures.

The damage: all four wisdom teeth needed pulling. The leftmost two showed cavities that were repairable, but with my tiny mouth, extractions would be much simpler. So why not remove the two on the right at the same time? Yea! A few older fillings required replacement, a gap created by the last dentist (thanks to an unnecessary spacer) would benefit from a cap to close it, other than that, my teeth seemed fine. My gums, however, shrieked with pain everytime she poked or prodded them with the pointed probe. (Or was that me that yelled?) So I get to endure enjoy a good old-fashioned scaling. Go me!

The other damage: my wonderful dental insurance will cover up to $1,000 while I get to foot the bill for the rest -- $4,334. Needless to say, I was depressed on the drive home, going over ways to re-work my funds in order to pay for the dental necessities. I spoke with CM about it, whiched helped quite a bit to calm my nerves, but what helped even more was the delivery of a CD that I ordered from CD Baby.

I heard Brian Kent first on a internet radio station, checked out his site, and finally found his first CD Breathe Life. I've been playing it all morning, bobbing my head to the dance songs and singing along quielty under my breath. Good CD! Definitely erases the impending dental work from my mind.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bookwhore Chronicles: Arkansas
A collection of three novellas from David Leavitt, author of Family Dancing and The Lost Language of Cranes. And after reading -- and enjoying -- the novellas, I still have no idea what they have to do with Arkansas.

In The Term-Paper Artist, a writer named David Leavitt is hiding at his father's house, trying to write his third novel while the courts entangle his second one due to possible plagiarism. Deterred by roadblock upon roadblock, he finally finds inspiration to write -- in the form of a term-paper for the college son of a family friend. But the terms decided upon by the student surprise even David, and he finds himself selling his skills as a writer of term-papers for blow jobs.

The Wooden Anniversary follows Lizzie as she finally reconnects after five years with her college friends Celia and Nathan at Celia's home/culinary school in Italy. Strange events start to occur as Nathan flirst with the sexy Mauro, an instructor and Chef at Celia's school -- strange meaning "being raped by a tree" strange -- and when the truth finally comes out about Mauro, the three friends' lives will be irrevocably changed.

The final novella, Saturn Street, tells the tale of Jerry Roth, a young writer living in LA who volunteers for the Angels who deliver meals to homebound AIDS patients. Before one shift, the supervisor changes his shift to Saturn Street, one of the less liked routes of the Angels. At the last stop, Jerry meets Phil and decides to stay for a chat, against Angels policy. he soon finds himself falling for Phil and questioning his own emotions.

Three seemingly different tales but with the same central idea, a young gay man trying to find love in a world set against him. I smiled during the first novella when I realized the author used himself as a character -- not in the "I" sense but in name only. It added an interesting side to the character and allowed him to use his knowledge of writing and the gay scene. The third novella read like a simple tale of love lost, very beautifully told and with quite a few references to Circus of Books and its contents.... As for the second, I enjoyed following the story, the bits of mysticism intertwining with the real world -- until the end when, I think, one of the characters transforms into a cow. Odd. I tilted my head like a questioning puppy at the end of that one.

But a good read, even so.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lars and the Pajama Game

Saturday began with a late breakfast at our weekend addiction, Polly's. They added a few new items to the menu -- so new, in fact, that the waitress did a triple take when I ordered a glass of pomegranate lemonade. CM played it safe with a diet coke, but then decided to join in the fun by choosing the newest breakfast item on the menu: the Country Tater Breakfast (crisp hash browns and bacon smothered in country gravy and topped with scrambled eggs). As always, the food was wonderfully sinful and hearty, and how can it not be when we each chose a giant cinnamon roll roughly nine inches across instead of toast?

Back at the apartment, I tried to watch the first episode of Dante's Cove. How to explain it...a cross between one of those cheesy made-for-the-Sci-Fi-Channel movies and a bad porn film without the porn. I quickly pulled it from the player, slid it into the sleeve and dropped it in the mailbox on my walk to the library.
CM returned from his folks' in time to quickly clean up before meeting CS and RG for The Pajama Game at the Carpenter Center. The show tells the tale of an impending strike at the Sleep Tite garment factory, where workers demanded a seven-and-a-half cent raise -- a pretty hefty sum for 1954. Amidst the tumult, the superintendent Sid Sorkin falls for the pro-union head of the factory's grievance committee, Babe Williams. The strike threatens to keep the lovers apart unless some way is found to get the extra pay for the workers. The two leads -- hunky crooner Paul Dean and Broadway veteran Darcie Roberts -- stood out from the entire cast, with amazing voices and great acting. Nick DeGruccio comically played the factory's knife-throwing Time-Study man Vernon Hines. But the music was some of the best and most recognizable from the history of Broadway -- Hey, There, Steam Heat, Hernando's Hideaway and There Once Was a Man, to name but a few from the team of Jerry Ross and Richard Adler. Great acting and singing from the entire cast plus wonderful choreography (with a mini-homage to Bob Fosse during Steam Heat) made for a fun musical experience.
Sunday was a bit more low-key: I cleaned a bit at the apartment while CM checked on M&L and the twins. In the evening, the two of us saw the film Lars and the Real Girl, about a young man named Lars (Ryan Gosling) who has a problem connecting with women since the death of his mother. One night, he surprises his brother Gus and sister-in-law Karen by wanting to introduce them to his new girlfriend Bianca -- a life-sized silicon doll. After their initial shock, they take him to the family doctor, Dagmar, who convinces Gus and Karen that Lars is delusional and to let him work things out by treating Bianca as if she were a real girl and somehow, they talk the entire town into going along with it.

This was definitely one of the funniest, most charming and heart-felt movies this year, with excellent performances from Ryan Gosling, Paul Schneider (as Lars' brother Gus), Emily Mortimer (as his sister-in-law Karen) and Patricia Clarkson (as Bianca's doctor, Dagmar), and the entire cast. Director Craig Gillespie worked magic with Nancy Oliver's quirky and unusual script. This is the kind of film that deserves a much larger release because of the great story and performances so go see it!

We walked to Ruby's afterwards for turkey burgers and a double dark chocolate chip shake to cap the evening.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

That Darn Cat!

Diesel the cat mystifies me.

I grew up with a dog, a black and white Maltese/Shih Tzu mix I affectionately named Domino. He followd me everywhere, slept in my bed, went batshit crazy any time I jumped into the pool and disappeared running and jumping around the coping like a maniac. Full of love and affection for everyone in my family. Very easy to comprehend.

But I just don't understand this cat.

Take this morning for instance. Not sure of the time, but in the wee morning hours, I must have been dreaming of something wonderful, laying on my left side, all bundled beneath the comforter and fleece blanket. An oddly wet and cool senstation on my nose woke me, and the first thing I saw was the top of the cat's head. Because his nose was sniffing inside my mouth. I pulled back gently pushed him from the bed and rolled over. Mintues later, CM picked up the cat just before he sauntered up my pillows to sit on my head. Then, the cat sat on the carpet just beneath my head, meowing and occasionally nibbling my hand that dangled over the edge, finally jumping on top of me to cross over to CM and crawl onto his chest. Whereupon the meowing began anew.

At 6:10am, the alarm finally sounded, and I stumbled zombie-like to the bathroom, showered, partially dressed, walked back into the bedroom to find Diesel stretched out on my side of the bed, fast asleep.

I wonder if a cat can be jealous?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Unexpected

I'd written off any chance of obtaining my deductible and the rental car expenses after my accident a few months ago. Especially when my claim adjuster told me that the other guy's insurance info was incorrect on the police report. So I figured almost $1000 that I would never see again and planned my finances accordingly. Near the end of September, the adjuster called with good news: the other guy's new insurance accepted the claim and within a week, I held the reimbursement check for my deductible in my hands. Nothing like the feeling of extra cash going into the bank.

A few weeks later, I received a notice from his insurance that more time was required to determine if my rental car charges were acceptable. I filed the letter with the rest of the paperwork, not holding my breath that I would ever see any money. So imagine my surprise while bringing in the mail last night to find a check -- a final check in settlement of the claim. And in the full amount of the rental car charges!! Almost four months later, the file can officially be closed.

I deposited the check this afternoon and celebrated with a turkey and cranberry sandwich on honey wheat bread from Togo's. Ah, the sweet life....

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bookwhore Chronicles: Rhadopis of Nubia
After the Festival of the Nile in Ancient Egypt, the beautiful courtesan Rhadopis bathes in her palace pool on the island of Biga. Her servants shriek as a falcon swoops down, grasping one of her golden slippers in its talons and takes flight.

In the royal palace, Pharaoh Merenra II talks with his two trusted advisors regarding the recent unrest with his Prime Minister Khnumotep and the priests, angered that the King wishes to take back property and riches gifted to them by his royal ancestors. As they talk, a falcon flies by, dropping the precious slipper into the lap of the king. Awed by such a sign from the Gods, the King learns of the slipper's owner and her beauty and sets out to return the article to her.

Love strikes the hearts of both Rhadopis and the king when they first see each other. The King pledges to make her life a paradise, gilding her palace in gold and other treasures to match her beauty; Rhadopis finds herself experiencing love for the very first time and gives herself unhesitatingly to the King. But all of this does not come without a price. As the king spends wealth and gold upon the palace in Biga, Khnumotep and the priests rally their countrymen, spreading rumors of his squandering the wealth gifted to the priests on the whims of a dancer. The civil unrest wends its way to the streets of the capital, resulting in tragedy.

I'm of two minds regarding this novel. While I enjoyed the glimpse into life in Ancient Egypt, the architecture, the politics, the almost salon atmosphere of Rhadopis' palace with her discussions of art politics architecture and other heady topics, the characters seemed almost too much like the cast from a soap opera. The King dismisses or ignores any signs of unrest inside his kingdom because he is blinded by his love of Rhadopis. Rhadopis goes from flirtatious to reverential within a single meeting with the King, only briefly touching on the subject of love which she's never truly experienced. The Queen Nitocris, even after she learns of her King's rendez-vous with the courtesan, remains adamant about staying by his side through thick and thin. Somewhat hard to believe but, in the context of this novel, they still made it an enjoyable read. In fact, the author -- Naguib Mahfouz -- drew me in and kept me enrapt with all the polticial deceptions intrigue and love triangles. Who doesn't like a good soap opera now and then?

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Weekend Wrapped Up

I headed to my folks after work on Friday for a quick bite of dinner and to catch up with my Dad regarding his treatments. Over my Mom's homemade tacos, I learned all about my Dad's having to drink almost 1 pint of water an hour before arriving at the doctors then hold it until the radiation's done. Normally, this takes 10 - 15 minutes, but with the machine breaking down on occasion, the fires forcing some of the nurses to arrive later or not at all, and the one instance during which my Dad "accidentally" hit the stop button on the side of the treatment table causing the machine to slowly grind to a halt, that 10-15 minutes hadn't been easy to follow. His continued upbeat attitude still surprised me as he happily said, "Only 15 treatments left!"

We enjoyed some lemon pound cake for dessert and half an hour's worth of Jeopardy, each of us shouting the answers as if Alex Trebek could really hear us. At least my Mom and I answered the Final Jeopardy question correctly, but my Dad somehow knew the answers to some of the more obscure questions. And even he had no idea where or why he came up with the answers!

For some reason, Saturday flew by for CM and me. First stop, was the laundromat to wash all our darks. We dropped the folded clothes back at the apartment then ate a quick lunch at Polly's followed by a stop at Target for sneakers ($14.99!!) and laundry detergent and a brief search for a comic store we'd seen on TV. We exited the freeway and turned left looking for a particular street which, after 15 minutes, we realized was more than likely in the opposite direction. We backtracked and sure enough found the correct street and the store tucked away beside a pizza shop. Inside, comic books, manga, figurines, how-to-draw books, posters, videos -- like walking into a mini-ComiCon only without the peope in costume. I think we spent almost an hour in there, CM ogling the Buffy figures, and I left with yet another book to add to my ever-growing pile. We returned home around 5:30 for a brief rest before finishing the day with grocery shopping.

Sunday....ah, Sunday. RG and SK joined us for breakfast at the Park Pantry before a short walk to the Gay and Lesbian Center for some hot bingo action. With SK and RG around, the jokes and innuendos kept flying (O69 -- hehehehe), brinigng a bit of fun to the event. I won two games to CM's one -- just enough to buy drinks at the Silver Fox later. Though CM's victory did have a bit of controversy. The last number he needed was called so he shouted bingo. He grabbed his card, headed for the caller's table when, for some reason, the caller said another number, and a red-velour-track-suit-and-slippers wearing lady yelled bingo. Much to her chagrin, CM's card was being checked for a bingo and, of course, he had one. But slipper lady insisted that he didn't have a winning bingo because he didn't have the last number called which was her number. Everyone overruled her, but she kept harping on it afterwards, following us from the building and telling everyone she could how at a real bingo match, CM wouldn't have been given the money. We ignored her and walked back to our apartment before hopping the car for a few drinks at the Silver Fox and a large dinner (and chocolate cake) at the Claim Jumper.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Random Long Beach Moments

The hostess at Claim Jumper walked SK, RG, CM and me to our table. As we began sliding into the booth, a gang of watiers, waitresses and busboys noisily mobbed on of the back doors, carrying another waiter through the door. We ran to the windows, watching with surprise and glee as the gang tossed the poor waiter into a pond. The hostess told us that they had thrown him in earlier today as well because it was his last day.

The waiter produly re-entered the restaurant to the cheers and applause of not only the entire waitstaff but the diners as well.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Bookwhore Chronicles: Haunted
One thing I told Jef about my writing is that I don't feel as though I have a novel in me. "I tend to view things in terms of a short story. And I've got plenty of those floating around my head." He reminded me that even short stories could be strung together to create a novel. Look at some of Ray Bradbury's work. Or even Chuck Palahniuk.

I recently finished his novel Haunted, concerning a group of would-be writers who decided to leave their everyday lives behind in order to join a writer's retreat. For three months, these people would hide from the outside world, allowing them the freedom to create their ultimate piece of work. Little do they realize, however, that the retreat is not as it seems, instead evolving into a life-or-death experiment perpetrated by the retreat's organizer. Each character has a story to tell, a reason why he or she decided to give up their lives for three months. As the novel progresses, the retreat turns into a confessional, with each writer -- from St. Guts-Free to the Lady Baglady to the Reverend Godless -- setting his or her tale down in paper and prose. The longer they stay "trapped", the more gruesome and biting their stories become.

Each story could work apart from the novel, and that's one important thing I took away from this. (Other than never ever wanting to sit on the filter at the bottom of a pool. Saint Guts-Free's story -- very....ew.) Perhaps I do have a novel in me but set myself on the wrong path, trying to create one long, continuous, 300-page piece of writing. Maybe the best thing for me is to write a series of tales with a similar theme, combine organize them into a larger opus.

Just as long as it has a glow-in-the-dark cover, too.