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Monday, September 24, 2012

Train Keeps A-Rollin'

I was never much into trains. Not as a kid. But my older brother had a nice set of Lionel HO scale trains when I was in elementary school.

I do fondly recall enjoying the smell of electricity.

It was a seasonal thing. He'd erect his set in the basement sometime after Thanksgiving and it would stay up through the New Year. Over time it became quite elaborate - tracks were permanently adhere to sheets of plywood - and then the wood track was then placed on saw horses.

As the youngest, it usually was my job to crawl under the set-up and plug the necessary cords into the wall.

I'm not really sure what ever happened to them. My guess is that my mom unloaded them onto him in one of her classic purge-shit-from-the-basement moments.

We my boys came along, there was a brief flirtation with He Who Cannot Be Named, but thankfully that was short lived.

I do, on the other hand, find trains to be incredibly photogenic...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different

As is with all bad jokes, it is best just to beat them into the ground.

Persistence is key.

Funny is subjective after all.

Prepare yourself for the future kids!

And yes, the title is a Monty Python reference.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

A Delicate Balance

I titled my manuscript A Delicate Balance.

In was in reference to that one moment in life where everything comes together at once. Inspired by the urban legend of being able to stand an egg on its end during the equinox, I looked at that as a metaphor for whatever it was someone sought out to do.

Some want to ride a monster wave, some want to jump offstage into a crowd like Eddie Vedder as thousands of people sing-along to your song, some want to wear the maillot jaune in the Tour De France, and some just want to get married and have kids.

If the stars are aligned, if the universe wills it, then it will happen. You just need to be able to place yourself there - that is the story of A Delicate Balance. A story of the journey to find yourself in that place, in the moment, when everything is happening as it should; as you have always dreamed it.

Saturday, September 08, 2012


I'm not going to lie.

I lost the will to write some time ago. Because what inspires me most to write is what I see around me. And for a few years I didn't like what I saw.

And then it happened: I got robbed. My computer was stolen, and with it just about every word I ever penned, whether it be a poem, short story, memoir, crime novel, screen play or lyrical essay was gone.

Everything was gone.


I've sat in this dead calm of my own literary absence for almost a year now.

Enough is enough.

Slowly, I've forced myself to write again. Mostly blog posts about parenting, but I've also begun to contribute more to my day job with liberal doses of my own beer journalism (instead of merely editing everybody else's musings on craft beer).

Two important things recently happened that have helped dig me out of my self-imposed sabbatical on writing. First, was that I read a book called The Cut by one of my favorite authors George Pelecanos. His writing is good; he crafts a nice crime novel. But what draws me in most to his writing is the locale. All of Pelecanos' books are set in the metro DC area - the area of my youth. Secondly, I read an essay in the Oxford American called "Diary of a Fact Checker."

I should probably toss a third in there, a recent dad blog about people who blog not for money or fame but simply just to blog.

I am one of those. Suffice it to say, I have been blogging since before the dawn of blogs. Back then it was called a journal, of which I kept fairly religiously during the four years I spent in Los Angeles in the early '90s.

And it occurred to me that I had a copy of that journal somewhere. Because there were no "clouds" to back stuff up on back then, just cheesy discs that nobody trusted anyway. So the best way to save your work was to print it out.

I found it tucked under my bed in a dusty box. At one point, I had tried to turn my journal into a manuscript. I described it in the opening pages as "fictimentary": I was ensconced in watching documentary films at the time. I saw a "behinds the scenes" type program on the classic Nanook of the North. It explained how the director - Robert J. Flaherty - had taken creative liberties to make the movie. In other words, he had staged some scenes.

I decided I would do the same with my journal. To use the story of my life as a rough
backdrop for a larger fictionalized story. This would be ten years before James Frey would deliver an almost-unfactchecked "fictionalized" autobiography.

Look for some excerpts in the near future...

Monday, September 03, 2012

I Survived The Spicy Sandwich... Well Sort Of

It's been a coming-of-age rite of passage since dawn of time: The take whatever from the fridge and make something truly heinous no one will eat.

Well Mikey will. Because Mikey likes everything.

Living in the age of YouTube, you can now bear witness to the glory that is this peculiar childhood phenomenon. And because my kids film just about everything, you can see it here in their clip above.

This weekend I got to try the spicy sandwich.

And I have to say it wasn't bad. As a matter of fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it tasted. I'd even go as far as saying it was good.

"You survived the spicy sandwich!" said my son.

"I did," I said.

"But the true test of survival will come tomorrow."

"What do you mean?" he asked, his friends looking on in baited breath.

"The D-word," I said.

"You mean diarrhea?" he said.

"Yep," I said.

Let's just say I failed miserably on that one...

Saturday, September 01, 2012

It Ain't Easy Being Green

Being green, or environmentally friendly, is a choice.

In recent years, sometimes this choice has been made for you. As in the case of recycling; we all are required to put our cans & bottles or paper & cardboard in that bin. It is second nature for most by now. And for some, like my children, they don't know any different.

Back when I first moved to Los Angeles in the early '90s, recycling was new to me. And it took some time to adjust to it. It took some time to change my habits and stop from tossing a can or bottle into the kitchen trash.

And that's really what it all boils down to: changing your habits.

Soulshine Products (disclosure: my girlfriend's independently-owned, single-mom operated, small business) seeks to do just that - to change the way we habitually think about what we use and how we use it.

From upcycled, hand-pour soy candles to natural cleaning products, her mission is to educate people that simply by using different products, you can help contribute to keeping the world a safer, cleaner place void of disposable consumer goods.

Her soy candles are made with glasses procured from local thrift stores and flea markets. Some of them are of vintage quality; some of them, once the candle is done, can be disherwasher'ed and turned into an everyday drinking vessel. Or returned and refilled for a discount on your next soy candle (which come in a variety of scents by the way. One scent reminds me of benediction at church. Lol!)

And when it comes to cleaning, not all your products have to be as toxic as bleach to get the job done. You can use her cleaners without having to worry about having any reactions to your exposed skin or the onset of burning eyes.

Anyway, it's all about changing your mindset and changing your habits.

Pretty simple things to do that will help change the world we live in, don'tcha think?

Maybe it ain't so hard being green?