Friday, August 26, 2005

They Poisoned Me

I’m not a medical expert. Sure, I have one of those Ph.D.s and you can call me Doctor. But I wouldn't know a renal gland from a Caeserean section. Still, I know how to navigate WebMD. And I’m pretty sure the bastards food-poisoned me.

Who are these bastards? Well, to avoid legal ramifications, I’ll just say that I will never again eat at a certain fast food chain that shares its name with an underground urban transportation system. I shouldn’t have eaten there anyway but it was just too hot to walk anywhere else during yesterday’s lunch hour. It's my deepest regret.

Thus, the hours between 8:00 and 11:00 last night were the most physically painful hours I’ve ever spent, at least since the Chicago hotel incident of ’95. What did they put in that tuna, I ask?
Okay, okay, I don’t want to make you queasy. I feel so much better now. I didn’t even call in sick. No, I braved the drive back to the city that poisoned me. I’m saving my sick days for the revolution. Or maybe the apocalypse. Or perhaps just a cool gray day in October.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Mango, Not Mango

Just to clear things up - the title of this blog is not in any way a reference to the Mango character played on Saturday Night Live by funnyman Chris Kattan. I just saw the word "incarnation" and I felt the word "mango." It's the best fruit. Not that there's anything wrong with Mango or Chris, who can often be found at Whole Foods Market, as can the fruit.

Just to clear some more things up - yes, the Timberwolves signed Damien Wilkins. But, because he's a restricted free agent, the (Super) Sonics were able to (and indeed) match the Wolves' offer. To make a long story short, Trenton Hassell is still a starter. And to correct my other mistake, Damien is Dominque's nephew, not his son.

Yesterday, NPR aired a fine piece about my current favorite band The Hold Steady. You can listen to it here. The annotated lyrics are especially fun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Applehead Man (a short story)

(Not just a short story but my most rejected (by far) short story. I believe I'm 0-for-11. I hope you like it)

Cousin, I have much to teach you. If you find yourself shrouded in uncertainty, the way to confront it is to spill yourself to the world, scream the insides of your coiled heart and hope its arteries flow and when they don’t that it’s temporary.

The applesauce is for the children. Don’t touch it. It looks like it’s good for you but it couldn’t be. It’s processed and processing kills the goodness in everything.

Yes, you’re no longer a child.

The girl at the ice cream shop likes you. She gave you a free extra scoop. I saw it. Her eyes are blue like jeans. She’ll be your best friend if you let her.

I’ve often felt the uncertainty myself. I ask a question and I’m not sure of the answer. That’s when I get eaten up by the brain people – the little men with knives and women with blankets and children with horns – and then I’m older than I was a minute ago.

I can teach you only what you desire to learn. And only what I know, though I’m not beyond lying for effect. The girl at the ice cream shop is named Janis, like from the seventies. No one young has that name.

Well yes, except for her, with her little stumpy sample spoons and plum-colored bobbed hair with the bounce of a pole-vaulter. I collect the spoons she gives me. I’ve thought about asking you for the spoons she gives you but who am I to think you’d be inappropriate along with me?

There is truly no comparison between a farm-fresh apple and applesauce. You’re young. You’ve been hospitalized for a long time but you should know that better than you let on.

After the apples fall from the tree I like to eat the good ones and make people dolls with the bad ones. The underdeveloped red ones make great heads. I use Popsicle sticks for legs and sample spoons for arms and a day at the orchard flies by like a round of mini-golf. I could take you to pick apples there tomorrow but I was planning to show you the corn maze. It’s shaped like America this year.

I think I know why you like the applesauce. They fed it to you at the hospital, didn’t they? Every day. That’s why you crave it so. And you don’t seem moved by ice cream or Janis. Even though she likes you and not me because you’re her age and she sees the blisters in my brain when I ask for a second sample. And a third. Sometimes her hair is so shiny I could swear I see my reflection in the top of her head as I tower over her because I’m a giant.

Giants are scary. You’re scared of me, aren’t you? Because I won’t buy you applesauce and I make people dolls out of fruit and garbage. And I attach my keys to a chain on my belt and you’ve never seen that before, having lived in a hospital or a foreign country all your life. But you’re family. We’ll always have that.

Tomorrow I can also take you to mini-golf for real and I won’t just reference it as an analogue. We’ll pay extra for a second game and we’ll tip the clubhouse kids so we get the best clubs, the recent arrivals but not the brand new ones because you have to break them in and might as well let someone else do it. They do what I say, the clubhouse kids, just like Janis. Because I’m a giant. I’m a visible threat. My purple eyes are creepy because the whites are too white and they blink one at a time. But what can I do? These are the eyes I’ve been given. This is the body I’ve been granted.

The apple dolls last longer than you’d expect, though after a while the head falls off. I think it’s because the apples get bigger. It’s obvious the Popsicle sticks and sample spoons didn’t change stature.

Here’s a gift. This doll is you. Ask Janis to autograph it. I wonder what her last name is. Why don’t they make apple ice cream? Ask Janis that too. We’re going back for ice cream tomorrow, after the corn maze or mini-golf or both. Fall’s almost over. The sun comes down earlier every day and next week is Halloween and after that just getting up in the morning is a crapshoot.

Standards, Pumpkins, and Cabins

I thought about deleting yesterday’s post. It’s clearly not up to my “standards” of timely, witty, biting, and relevant-to-everyone writing. I just rambled on in sentence fragments about my uninteresting day. Who’d want to read that?

But I don’t want to censor myself. So, I’ll leave it all out there. If I don’t censor other people’s comments in which anonymous people in my posts are outed, why would I censor myself when I write of men with Cheeto fingers touching my workspace?

It’s interesting. There are people out there who would recommend changing the “So” that began the preceding paragraph’s second sentence with a “Thus.” I’m not one of these people. “So” works just fine. But then again, I don’t have orange fingers.

Yesterday, I went to the soon-to-be-imploded main Santa Monica Public Library. They’re moving to a new location down the street and around the corner. Until then, it’s cramped and musty and messy. But I’m not complaining. In the New Books section, I discovered that William T. Vollmann (one of my 3 or 4 favorite authors) has a new novel out – Europe Central. In all my wayward distracted reading of literary/book websites/blogs, I had heard nothing about this book. Considering that it’s 800+ pages and weighs more than a fair pumpkin, I imagine he’s been working on it for some time. Either the smallish press publicity machine has completely missed me or William likes to keep secrets. Anyway, it was with great excitement that I grabbed and later checked out the behemoth of a book about the wartime governments of early 20th century Soviet Union and Germany. It’s like a surprise Christmas present on December 27th. Or a “lost” Seinfeld episode finding the light of day. Because it’s a new release, I have to give it back after two weeks if someone else requests it, which, I’ve discovered with this crazy town of Santa Monica, is not an unlikely event. I hope I can finish it in two weeks. Considering that it took me three years to get through Vollmann’s last novel about the Queen of the Whores, The Royal Family, this is unlikely. Also, I’ve read about six pages and I have to ask - William, what the hell are you talking about?

And to address the one recent event that all of you want my opinion of... I'm glad that the Timberwolves signed Damien Wilkins. He's Dominique's son, so he's got to know something about the game. And the team needs to get younger. Plus, Fred Hoiberg isn't about to walk through that door any time soon. He's up at his northern Minnesota lake cabin healing his heart, so some big guard/small forward depth is warranted. Does it scare you that I actually located and linked to a story of an obscure NBA player's presence at his lake cabin?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Colonel

Not much time today. Must be brief. No time for complete sentences. Greetings everyone. Busy day. Will get busier. Weather hot. Office claustrophobic. Hey you, don't touch my keyboard with orange Cheeto fingers.

My friend Mike's space zombie script is really good. Named a character after me. Colonel F.

Quick reviews: Virgin movie flawless. Andrew Bird CD moving. Six Feet Under finale bleak, wondrous, fitting. Toblerone in 2nd floor convenience store too melty. Tofu burrito on the other side of downtown really good today.

Not much time today. Must stop now.

Friday, August 19, 2005

20 Minutes

I’ve updated my links. Adjust your gaze slightly to the right (my left). There they are. Feel free to link to these sites directly from mine so that my url shows up in their “linked from” statistics, creating a chain of events and reciprocal links that leads to my blog being viewed by more than 5 to 11 people per day. You may notice that I’ve increased the proportion of snooty literary blog links. What can I say? I like long involved snooty blog entries that occupy my time and make me consider the history and current state of literature. I hope you like them too.

To answer a question that no one asks (Why do I list my home as “Los Angeles” when I live in a city that abuts Los Angeles but is clearly not Los Angeles?), I’ll note that I’m usually (83% of the time) in Los Angeles when posting. Does this mean I post from work, rather than do my job? Well, I’ll remind everyone of my two union-negotiated 20-minute breaks per day. Others use this loophole to leave 40 minutes early. I use it for my mango thing.

I had a brief breakdown yesterday when I posted a comment to a comment to a comment to Wednesday’s post. Apparently, I actually seriously considered seeing a film noir double feature films tonight. And you know how I feel about noir films: There's only been one good one ever - The Last Seduction. No, make that two good ones - The Last Seduction and The Long Goodbye. Instead, I urge everyone to rush to their local theater to see The 40 Year-Old Virgin, so the Apatow/Carell/Ferrell/Rudd mafia can continue to hone their craft. I’ve watched my Tivoed Anchorman about 6 times in the past week and I can’t believe I only slightly liked it when it came out. It’s a masterpiece.

They’re playing Nina Simone on that one radio station I link to. Nina Simone is crazy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Svenska Pride

I often allude to the Egyptian half of my heritage. Today, I wanted to acknowledge the “other half” – my Swedish side. I was born in Sweden. I spent a good deal of the first month of my life there. Apparently, Swedish was my first language. Later, after my second language – English – erased my first, my parents communicated in Swedish when they wanted to hide things from me. I visited Sweden the summer before I turned 9. I remember the town square of my birth city Eskilstuna like it was yesterday – the claustrophobic kiosk where I bought packs of soccer cards (it was a World Cup summer), the green grass, the…. well, that’s about all I remember.

In honor of the Minnesota Wild (a hockey team) signing free agent Daniel Tjarnqvist (I don't know him either), I think it’s finally time for my Top 5 Things About Sweden (in no order):

1. Bjorn Borg. Along with Dr. J, this lanky long-locked Swede was the epitome of 1979-1981-era athletic cool.

2. IKEA. I’ve written about them before. Check the March archives. Hey Blogger people, why can’t I easily link to my own entries in Blogger? I know it’s free. I appreciate the simplicity. But still…

I realize now I don’t have enough material for a Top 5 list. I’ll stop here. I’ll mine the inner depths of my soulful mind for more good things about Sweden. Feel free to sent suggestions in the comments section. And don’t give me ABBA or the Cardigans. They don’t do it for me.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Absolute Ultimate

A review of the Tofu Festival: We didn’t go. We were looking for parking spaces downtown and then we decided we’d have more fun at Allegria. We were on the East Side anyway. It was the right decision, the only way. I had the fish tacos and the slushy papaya juice.

(the next paragraph may not appeal to anyone outside of the greater Los Angeles area)

Speaking of the East Side/West Side divide … it appears that the superiority chip has completed its transplant from west side shoulder to east side shoulder. The process, which began in the spring of 1995, stalled somewhat in 1999, and started to appear inevitable in late 2003, is now complete. You Eastsiders won. You’re finally the default. You and San Francisco can now share a glass of under-reviewed red wine. Just remember the responsibility that comes with your victory. You actually have to start frequenting the deep East Side. Echo Park doesn’t count. Neither does Alhambra. Me? I’ll be on the Third Street Promenade breathing the fresh air. Or maybe in Westwood, waiting for the light to change so I can cross safely. Or in Culver City, for no reason at all. I’ll be slipping in and out of the secret places, smiling.

(the next paragraph may not appeal to anyone but me)

Once, in 1997, during a summer thunderstorm in Minneapolis, the power in my apartment building went out. Not wanting to stay home in the stifling bricked humidity, I found myself later that evening at the Mall of America watching the Jodie Foster vehicle Contact, accompanied by a squeaky-voiced businesswoman and her wily oily leprechaun friend. I find it interesting that today, roughly eight years later, I’m finally able to accept that it may all have been a dream.

Top 5 songs of the moment (in alphabetical order, without ignoring "The"):

Sovay – Andrew Bird
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman (essay forthcoming)
Unsingable Name - Doughty
Breakfast Is Hard – Moby
Certain Songs – The Hold Steady (series of essays forthcoming)

Saturday, August 13, 2005


The rare Saturday post. Second time ever, I believe.

Last night: Junebug. A very good movie. I think it's the best movie I've seen this summer. Despite stealing its title premise (pregnant woman....wants to name the baby Junebug) from a short story I wrote a few years ago, I highly recommend it. Strange, dark, light, sweet, mean, and cool. And dialogue that rivals that which has been written by Paul Thomas Anderson and the guy who wrote Judy Berlin.

Tonight: The Tofu Festival in Little Tokyo. This is my first Tofu Fest, so I don't know what to expect. But I plan on having the grilled Tofurkey Italian Soy-sauge sandwich with peppers and onions. And maybe a tofu taco. And there's apparently a smooth jazz artist playing tonight and you know how much I love the smooth jazz.

Tomorrow: Is Sunday.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Inkwell

I have a concern.

I’ve written a story. Or, maybe you’d call it an essay if you were a stickler for fiction being fictional. But, if you were a stickler for essays being truthful you’d have a problem there too. Whatever your preference, it’s a very fine piece of work. I would like to submit this piece for publication. I think it deserves to be read. And no I don’t want to post it here. I’d like to find a place for it where it will reach a double-digit audience.

This is my concern: The opening sentence of my story/essay may be perceived as offensive. The sentence is so evocative that I don’t want to remove it or reword it. It sets the tone. It ties the piece together.

Now, I’m not one to self-censor (e.g., see my college basketball entries from the March archives). But I don’t want my work to be summarily rejected for its opening sentence. Nor do I want my name put on lists. Now do I want to appear insane.

I’m not so much asking for advice as I’m stating the facts. And those are the facts.

What’s the sentence? No, that’s too easy. I’d rather have this topic up for discussion in an abstract form. That’s how I roll.

I had a nice day at work today. Yes, that’s what I said. I had a meeting on the “Golden Floor.” That’s where the bigwigs with their bloused secretaries and inkwells hang out. They listened to what I had to say and scoffed at what I reported others saying. Where is this leading? Well, you know I like to keep my workplace secret, but those of you with the full local (L.A.) digital cable package may see me working the Power Point on one of the Deep Channels some time before Labor Day.

Yes, he had an inkwell. I saw him dip.

Laurel tells me that the new couch arrived today. I can’t wait to get home, to recline in sage green luxury, to run the cable channels up and down, all the way up to 213, while Laurel studies the Buddha on the East Side. Monday, I ran 2 miles and climbed 66 flights of stairs. Tuesday, I wrote the perfect report for internal dissemination. Today, well you know about today. Tonight, it’s me, Seymour and Lilly (cats), and the sleek soft-yet-unpuffy couch.

His pen ran out of ink and rather than borrow a ballpoint from any one of seven people at the conference table, he went to his desk and pulled out an inkwell!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Next Time I'll Smile

I’ve begun Week Two of my no-elevator lifestyle. I’m doing this for exercise and because of a complete lack of trust in the elevators in my workplace (the stories I’ve heard…). You’d think it would be the walk up to the 22nd floor, not the walk down, that would be the bigger struggle. You’d be right. I’m starting to notice the little things: the piece of discarded gum between 17 and 18 in Stairway 2 (I used to consciously avoid it, so as not to ruin my soles. Now, the gum is so hardened and embedded in the stair that I can laugh it off and step on it confidently); the fact that there are 16 steps per floor on office floors and only 14 on the parking floors; and the comparative loneliness of Stairway 3 compared to #2 (people must be scared by the “Alarm Will Sound” sign; I know better). Careful readers may remember my previous vow to exclusively take the stairs in favor of the elevators. I may really mean it this time.

My promised trip to the ocean this weekend was derailed by the slightly too-cool beach temperatures. Instead, I was as lazy as a lazy man could ever be. Sure, there was the movie and the other movie and the folding of laundry. But other than that, I hardly moved a muscle.

My favorite 5 songs of the moment:

Chicago – Sufjan Stevens
Multitude of Casualties – The Hold Steady (only rock song ever to reference dryer sheets)
Circles – Soul Coughing (my definition of “of the moment” is pliable)
When Smokey Sings – ABC (heard it at Trader Joe’s)
My Doorbell – White Stripes

Two good links: An interview with America’s finest poet. And a touching essay by The Aristocrats' scariest contributor.

Friday, August 05, 2005


I'm so tired today. It's a good tired though.

My feet hurt. My eyes are weary. My brain is slow. Everything is taking twice as long. The Friday NY Times crossword took me 30 minutes instead of 15. The post-lunch walk up 21 flights of stairs required a break on the 14th floor, where I caught my breath before gliding up the rest of the way.

I can't produce anything all that readable today. Instead, I direct you to Bill Simmons. Today, he cross-pollinates Anchorman and the NBA off-season. Be sure to read both parts 1 and 2. Brilliant.

Tomorrow, the ocean will cure me and rouse me from my slumber.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Pre-dawn. An unseemly time of day. I should have been sleeping. But there I was, showering, dressing, driving – all before the sun fully rose. Too early. But, to be fair, Long Beach at 6:30 in the morning looks almost romantic. I’d never been in Long Beach that early in the morning.

Wait. Yes, I have. The summer of 1995. Let me purge it from my memory. Let me forget the yellow street lamps, the surprisingly easy drive to the freeway from the part of town where the crafty lesbians run their cafes with such managerial skill. Let me forget the way the drive north always got sluggish at the airport, or at some invisible horizontal line extending east from the airport. Let me forget her not because I’m married now (and happily so) but because I was wayward then. Ten years is a long time. It’s like a decade. Let me forget.

Okay, I’ve forgotten.

What was I doing in Long Beach at 6:30 this morning? A better question would be: What was I doing in Seal Beach at 6:45? And so on.

Changing the subject. It’s okay that the Timberwolves have done nothing this off-season other than hire a new coach, lose Latrell, draft another 6’5” guy, and resign their 10th man, the oft-mentioned Mad Dog. They have the foundation. Last year was an anomaly. The coming season will culminate with a long playoff run. KG is at his career peak. Wally has stopped caring if anyone likes him. Sam may actually be healthy. And sure assuming that all of you know whom/what I’m talking about is a pretty big assumption but it’s an improvement over the first four paragraphs today, isn’t it?

I’m in Los Angeles now. Downtown. Where the streets have names. It’s almost a nice day, if only the temperature would dip a few degrees. I finally got that second draft of that almost-interesting report completed. I’m reading six books. I’m blogging three times a week, on average. What more could I need?

Ten years. I look better now. The hair is still strong. I drive almost the same car. I eat better. My shoes are still good. I walk with more purpose. Then, I wrote poems called “Marbles” and “Riverside” and “Breakfast Is A Woman.” Today, I write The Mango. And other things (the script, the new short story about the picture frame-obsessed Rastafarian, and the policy paper). Today is better.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Seymour Is Mentioned

Who is this unusual person, with her own unique way with the language, who keeps posting feline-centric comments about the blog? Is she a spy, sent by the power elite? A lonely teenager pining for a purpose? Who is she, I ask?

But, to make her happy, I'll relate this: The way Seymour jumps into his blanketed basket is like that of a ballet star - lithe and sleek, despite his bulbous form.

I can't write much. I have to go attend a meeting, one which is so marked by a lack of necessity that I find it crucial to attend for anthropological purposes, even if my attendance is completely voluntary. During this meeting, I will hear speakers express alarm about loosely organized systems that are working perfectly well. Wheels will be reinvented. Eyes will roll. And, at about 4:30, the meeting room doors will open and 200 pairs of shoulders will collectively shrug as we all try to beat the traffic to the West Side. Or Pasadena. Or Long Beach. Or, especially, Baldwin Park.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Mango Mush

It seems late in the day to be posting, doesn't it?

It seems late in the work week to be posting for the first time, doesn't it?

What is there to say? Hmm.

Today, bored from waiting for the elevator, climbed 21 flights of stairs. Twice. It's invigorating and sweat-making.

I am taller than most of my co-workers. And more dapper. But am I a better person? That's a question for others to ponder. Though I know what my answer would be.

I've heard whispers from my marriage mate that "The Mango" is an inappropriate and kinda lame name. Feel free to offer your secret comments on the matter. I may do something rash like call the blog "Interlopers and Acerbs." Or I may quote a random Reagan-era British pop lyric. Or I may simply go title-less, tossing a John Cage basketball off the existensial backboard of modern communication. The Mango.