Saturday, May 28, 2005

A...fuck, I don't know.

Writers block is highly unpleasant. And shit.

Yea, that's all I got.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A word on the day of birth.

So today was my birthday.

In fact, it still is. Which means that I’m sitting here, listening to a song named “Smile,” wondering about things. What does that mean? That’s what I’d like to know. As with most birthdays, for most people, it has been going by without any true meaning to its presence. I’m older, yes.

But I was older yesterday as well. Such is the nature of time, right? Isn’t that how it works? If that’s the case, what does this mean? I don’t know, and it troubles me. I know that I want it to mean something. I know that I want to feel like I’ve accomplished something, gotten through to someone, remembered something. Changed something.

Have I?


Ah well, twas a good day anyhow.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A borrower and lender be.

Warning: Long and Rambling, and possibly crazy-stupid. With a, uh...large picture of Popeye.

I like to lend people things.

No big deal, not really. I simply enjoy exposing people to things that are within my realm of taste, and within my ability to give. No big deal. My copy of “Stray Dog” is lent to someone. My copy of “The Salton Sea” and the Sin City book “Family values” to another. Someone has their hands on my precious dvd of “Oldboy” and yet another might be watching the first copy of “The Killer” that I ever owned. Still another person is in possession of an original hardcover autographed copy of “Snail” a book that’s out of print. One lady has yet to watch the copy of “Audition” that I lent her more than a month ago.

My copy of “Fight Club” (the book) will never be coming back. About a year and a half ago, I had a tremendous fight with the person I had lent it to, and never spoke to them again. They also had my copy of “Survivor”. I bought a new one.

I like to lend people things. But not quite for that simple reason.

The aforementioned reason is certainly there, and I have no qualms about wishing to expose people to the works of people who I think of as masters. But the only reason? Hardly. The true reason that I lend people the preciously stupid things which I spend my time and money procuring? To talk.

To give people something to talk about. With me. Sometimes all one wants, all one needs, is to speak to someone else. Honestly. About anything. I want to open the floodgates. I wish to listen and laugh and dance and smell and cry. I want to talk to people. I want to have them talk to me.

Are pure words such a hard thing to find? You might be surprised. You might not be. I don’t know, I haven’t the sight for that. But I have the longing, oh yes, yes I do. I have the wanting. And I don’t really know what that means.

When I was a kid, the adults around me constantly seemed to pile praise atop my head into a stupid little crown. I didn’t get the best grades, didn’t win the class contests, didn’t go to all the other kids birthday parties. But everyone kept telling me how smart I was. The teachers told me that I wasn’t living up to my potential, and they always told me how smart I was, even as they secretly worried that I might be fucking insane. The other kids were no different.

They spoke to me in shouts, told me to do stupid things, asked me to speak in riddles and dance my nights away. They wrote in my yearbook “Phil, you’re weird, but it’s cool.” Many writings. All the same. All the time. That’s what I got, that’s what I get. I don’t think I’m that smart, but other people seem to. This afternoon a professor told me that she thinks that I believe that I’m too smart to rewrite and take criticism. I told her that wasn’t the case, and I meant it. But I failed to mention that I think she’s as dumb as a post, just like me.
That’s what I had, that’s what I have. I miss my couch. But I don’t miss the world around the couch. Does that make sense? Don’t answer that.

I cannot handle crowds. I lend people things so I can borrow their time. So I can get a minute off to the side, off in the corner, to talk about anything. I can speak in crowds, I can make them giggle and squirm and maybe even think. But I can’t make them see me. All I can show is my old habits. They do die hard. Same old, same old.

It’s my fault, I know it is. I freak out, I do that ol’ thing, and they react in turn. “Phil, you’re weird, but it’s cool.” Insane in the goddamn membrane. Every time. Except for once. I remember a day when people were saying the same old things, calling me a fool, a nut, calling me insane. And someone spoke up with a guffaw, telling everyone present that I was the sanest person there. I. Me. The writer of these words. He said that about me as if it were the most obvious thing in the land. I’ll be damned if he aint my best fucking friend.

I still have that friend, and we still laugh about it all, sitting up till three in the AM doing nothing in particular. We watch television shows that are bad enough to be hilarious, and help each other write what it is we want to write. We know what we know, we are what we are, and that’s what we are. Popeye, you sick son of a bitch. You always knew, and you told us right then. We sat there as children, looking up at your misshapen arms, and you taught us something about truth in the midst of all your lies. I only wish you could have made it easier.

If Popeye hadn’t hid his messages in the midst of gags about spinach, it might have all been so easy. If he had been brave enough to speak it loud, instead of hiding it amongst all the other lies that young’uns have always had to put up with. We might be easy with our truth, we might have had the ability to sling it around, instead of borrowing our time, instead of lending our lies, we could have been living our lives.

Truth. That’s what it’s always been. That’s why I’m writing this right now. Truth, life, love. Right?

Q: What’s the difference between God and a Sock Monkey?
A: There is a Sock Monkey.

If I believed in prayer, I might pray for rain. I want to wish the sun away. I don’t want to sweat with its oldness anymore. I like to sweat, I always have. But sometimes, this time, it doesn’t feel right. I want it to be cool and cold. I want rain. I want the rain, because it’s so bloody beautiful, so bloody right. I want the rain to wash away all my idiocy, so that my cry for words can be heard. I want it to snow, if only because it looks so perfect falling through the vision of light that a streetlight gives. Streetlights, snowflakes, beauty. It all seems so simple then. You stand there in the cold, your mind quiet, your body still. You feel it all, and you watch and learn. That and my couch, I miss you.

I spent some time in Boulder, Colorado. I went because I wanted to escape that goddamn sun, the one that showed all the stains on a dishrag that I held up to the light. It had seemed so clean, before I held it up and let the sun stream through it. Take whatever you want from that, but it scares the hell out of me.


I spent some time in Boulder, Colorado. I already said that. I made a friend there. I hadn’t said that before. He’s someone who no one can speak of but me. The time for that will come. But not quite yet. We still have some words left.

A borrower and a lender be. The old axiom says that one must be neither, something which I choose to scoff at heartily. Madness. There’s nothing wrong with them, not if you live them right. Not if you use them properly. Not a chance.

Sometimes, all I want to do is find someone who will go up into an empty parking garage with me. I want to lay down on the remnants of a grease stain, and stare at the sky. I want to talk about everything, I want to listen to everything, I want the world to be that beautiful moment, while the wind whistles and whips above us, while the sky shines down on our faces. Man or woman, boy or girl, talking dog or precocious cat, I don’t give a shit. As long as they live the beauty with me.

Have I lived life? I don’t know. I’ve done some things, I’ve seen some things. I’ve climbed mountains. I’ve listened to the rain. I’ve been set on fire, and I’ve gotten into a fist fight at driving school. I’ve waxed a man’s back. I’ve watched the Star Wars Trilogy.
I’ve sang. I’ve danced. I’ve licked and I’ve kissed. I’ve been cold and I’ve been hot.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but the number of moments that take your breath away.”

I can see that written on a little card that sits on a table not a foot away. Sitting here beside it, it dawns on me that I might not have paid for it. I might have slipped it into the book I was carrying and forgotten about it, leaving a store in Boulder the slightest bit poorer. I’m sorry for that. If I ever go back, I’ll return it. This I promise.

I had gone to Boulder with hope for something. For intelligence? Probably. For beauty? Certainly. Did I find them? Not usually.

Not usually. But sometimes I did. And sometimes, I found a friend of mine. A friend who trusted me above all others. A friend who stared up at the sky along with me, our backs resting upon the cold asphalt of some forgotten cul-de-sac. He was mad as a hatter sometimes, but when he was a friend, he was a damn fine one.

I had tried to be a friend to him as well. When he called me up late one night to tell me that he was going to kill his uncle, I spent the next three hours talking him out of it. I told him that it simply was not right, even though his uncle had beaten him, even if he was a shit of a heroin addict. It didn’t matter, he wasn’t the point. What the murder would do to my friend was. And he didn’t kill him.

But he did tie him down and torture him with his knife for awhile.

My friend wasn’t the same anymore. I’m not sure if I was either. When we finally did part, he didn’t consider himself my friend anymore. I had sat there and quaked without motion as his stood over me, breath hot and fast, his saliva flying out of his mouth in pools as he shouted at me. As he demanded compensation for the insult of him being talked out of killing a man. He wasn’t my friend anymore. But he had been once. And that is something that will never change.

That didn’t end well. Not everything does, we all know that. But we have to keep trying. We have to borrow and lend our time to get anywhere. And sometimes it fails, oftentimes it fails. But we still try.

I’ve only had three girlfriends in my entire life, and I doubt that two of them would technically consider themselves girlfriends anyway. Even if they don’t, I do. Two of those ended badly. One ended on good terms. But that’s life, right?

Right you are!

I still keep trying. I don’t attempt that much, because when I do, I usually get turned down in the comical “Let’s be friends” manner. It isn’t pretty. The most recent of these occurrences actually was better than others. She didn’t mention friendship, and for the most part, I believe her sentiments. I still think she’s a swell lady, and I would buy her a sad guitar t-shirt, if I was clever enough to figure out her size. So sometimes when we fail, sometimes it works out alright. And for all I know, I'll still have a chance somewhere along the line to meet my very own Sputnik Sweetheart. Such is life.

I’ve written a decent amount, some would say. Some is pointless, some seems meaningful enough. As usual, I doubt most people would read all of it. But sometimes, sometimes, sometimes…

They surprise you. And then maybe I’ll have someone to talk it over with. That’s why I’ve been sitting here, screaming silently out into the ether.


No idea. Which is why I do things the way I do. I do what I do because that’s what I do. That’s why I live my life, why I get older. Why I’ll spend my birthday sitting amongst the other nerds, watching Revenge of the Sith on opening day. I might get a present or two, but that’s not much to scream about.

But maybe I’ll find something else. Maybe someone will watch what I’ve lent them, and we’ll talk. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll talk while I listen. And then I’ll lend them something else.

Popeye, you sick son of a bitch.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

A word on the number 42.

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign of the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.’”

-- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy



Fucking hell, no.

We all see movies. Yes. Yes we do. It’s something of a common occurrence for me, and many others of the same inclination to spend some of our hard-won time being those dear people sitting out there in the dark. It’s something that I spend a great deal of my time doing. Why?

This time, I actually know. At least in some way, I know it, as I click this window closed to see the image of Toshiro Mifune snarling back at me, his teeth locked in an immortal sneer/grin that will outlast us all. It’s an image from the greatest film ever made, and it is most certainly one that fills me with a joy that grabs me by the scrotum and says “How ya doin?” in a shockingly appropriate manner. Yes.

That’s why we do it. That’s why we sit there, in the theater, in our living room, in our favorite chair with a laptop beaming light that will eventually ruin our precious eyes. We do it because it feels good damn it, it feels good for those brilliant works of film to nudge us, to tickle us, to punch us, and to churn us in all the ways that it can.

All the ways that it should.

But sometimes…no. Not yet.

Not yet because film isn’t the only thing. There are so many things, so many bits of light and paper and cardboard and glass and plastic and whatever that invades the spectrum of our feeble craniums to make us move beyond whatever it is that we do, whether we want it to or not. To have or have not? Good movie. What?


We also have books. We have those spinning marvels of words grafted onto wood pulp, the ones that we know shouldn’t be so bloody perfect, so fucking moving, but they manage to be anyway. The words of Haruki Murakami, which manage to make the seemingly mundane aspects of life throb with quiet menace, the unnatural going unnoticed in the background, spinning around our lives. The words of Richard Miller, satirical and weighty, bludgeoning us awake and making us look straight down at our own defecate.

And the words of a certain man. A loved by millions, a man who never wanted anything more than to listen to a group of four boys from Liverpool, a man who could always make us laugh.

Douglas Adams, rest in peace. Dead at 49.

No. Yes.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was certainly the most famous book that Adams ever wrote. His best? No. His favorite? No. My favorite? No.

But it was beloved nonetheless.

Which finally makes it time to discuss the film that has been made from its humble pages. The film that has finally been made after 20 years of slogging through the Hollywood marshes, demanding to be seen in the one form which it had yet to conquer.

A film that has decimated me in a horrible manner that I never would have thought possible for something like it to do. My friends and enemies, this movie is fucking terrible.

The jokes that Douglas Adams had crafted so carefully and lovingly are gone, replaced with a haphazard mash of slapstick and 4th grade puns. The characters which had been known by so many are gone, reduced to Hollywood caricatures of what some moron thinks the people want.

The humor is gone.

And we’re left alone with an empty shell, something which I sit here and mourn while listening to the breathtaking sounds of Joe Kramer’s “Way of the Gun” soundtrack.

In a time where we are given the gift of something like Sin City, such a shell hurts all the more. Sin City, whether you thought it worked or not, whether or not you thought it was too violent, whether or not you preferred the was there. It was Sin City, up on the screen. It was us feeling Sympathy for the ultimate Mr. Vengeance, played to perfection by Mickey Rourke. It was indeed something to see.

I hadn’t been expecting much of this movie, not after what I had heard beforehand. But like the geek that I am, I still held on to a tiny nugget of hope, still wishing for it to shine like I had always wanted it to. I sang my own quiet songs to myself as I went to the theater with my very best friend, the two of us quivering with fear at what we were about to witness. We knew it wouldn’t be good. We mainly went to see the Serenity trailer, like the gorramn nerd browncoats that we are. But by the power of cheese, we had no idea that it could be that bad. That it could hurt so fucking much.

I watched them try to turn Trillian into Fenchurch and bashed my head into my knee. I watched Mos Def exhibit none of Ford Prefect’s exuberance and cringed.

I watched the movie end with a title card stating simply “For Douglas” and practically had a seizure. In other words? If you've read the book, this movie is a travesty that was a waste of 20 years of waiting. If you haven't read the book, it's a movie that's confusing as hell and boring as shit. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a knife in the heart, and a shot of acid in the eye.

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to a cellar.”

-- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (film)

There you have it. A pitiful shell of what it once was.