31 August 2007

Heart-stopping KABOOM!

The plunk, plunk, plunking on my window a/c woke me up at 4:30 this morning. It has to rain pretty hard for it to make that sound since my side of the house is fairly shielded.

Then there was the heart-stopping kaboom. The walls shook a little for emphasis. After my heart stopped, it resumed beating a bit more vigorously. I was really awake then.

Another flash lit up my room and then another. I counted: one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, four one-thousand, five one-thousand, six one-thousand. The rumbling swelled in volume and then dissipated.

With another bright flash, kaboom, I got out of bed to make sure the power strip to my computer was unplugged.

The lightning was so frequent and close, I mused that it was perfect for trying to take a lightning photograph. If only this house had a decent view of sky from its windows. I thought about what settings I might use and what kind of digital camera might be up to the challenge since sleep just wasn't possible.

The thunderstorm lasted for an hour, nearly all of it within a mile. Kept my blood pumping pretty good.

One year ago at TTaT: How am I not myself?
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30 August 2007

Falling behind

Geez, I leave my computer off for a whole day and well, everyone else keeps writing. My feed reader is getting a little overwhelming. I'm certain this is why my book reading has slowed so much this year- so many blogs instead!

Ah well. Explored some ruins yesterday- the outing was pitched to me as a garden hike so the ruins were a great boon. My tootsies are still beat today and my calves, they burn...in a mostly good way. Pictures to come.

In seeing what else I'd written on this day in the past, I came across a post I rather like. Restraint makes me think of something Ms. Sizzle might write.

Now to try and catch up with y'all.

Two years ago at TTaT: The top off, restraint, Late night treat

28 August 2007

One true fan

Years before TTaT when I was paranoid about copyrights and word theft*, I'd email the occasional tale to friends and family as a sort of tremendously sporadic newsletter. In six years, there were 102 issues (though for some reason in my numbering system, they are listed as "episodes").

My mailing list evolved over the years, favoring those who would reply at least to say hello if not to comment on my latest adventure/mishap/goofy outlook. I remember one latecomer suggesting I start a blog instead, which in his case, I correctly surmised as meaning he was irritated by my story emails. (He got cut from the list soon after.)

When I did finally start TTaT a couple of years later, there was initially some overlap with my newsletter, but soon I focused solely on the blog. I told my friends about TTaT, but most of them aren't into blogging. My family I left out of the loop, so that I would feel free to write whatever I wanted. The tone of my newsletter had been exclusively light and humorous.

Though I received some nice praise on numerous tales I'd emailed, my newsletter's absence inspired only indifference. Except for one person.

I've known her since I was in the 3rd grade. She is my mother's best friend as well as a friend to me: a family friend, I suppose. In my newsletter's 2.5 year absence, she has told me numerous times that she misses my stories.

I haven't told her about TTaT. Though I mostly trust that she would not mention it if I asked her not to, I don't want to make her feel awkward about it with my parents. Also, I believe I'd feel compelled to constrain my writing which I don't want to do.

Still, just today Mom relayed that her best friend told her, "I really miss Claire's tales." Who am I to deny an actual fan?

The newsletter is off hiatus. I sent her the tale about picnics and peeing uphill. I hope she finds it worth the wait.

*Not so paranoid now, but please don't copy my words without attribution. A link back would be nice.

I was clear

"Before you actually go and make reservations this time, I want to be consulted."

"I didn't even know you wanted to go. I'm getting your opinion now."

From his response, I could tell he had completely missed my reference to the upcoming family vacation. I let it go.

We successfully agreed on the date for a museum stop en route to that vacation. The exhibit I want to see is the one thing I'm looking forward to on a trip I'd just as soon skip for a cascade of reasons.

There was still the matter of picking a time slot for the exhibition tickets. Dad and I discussed it loosely in conjunction with where we might be staying, and I concluded, "I need more information. If it's going to take an hour to drive there from the hotel, then I need to know that so I can factor it in."

"You shouldn't worry about that," Dad said.

Obviously, he didn't because he went ahead, picked a time, and bought tickets without checking with me.

I am fucking pissed. Few things infuriate me as much as not being listened to, particularly when I was fucking clear. It's doubtful any greater possible clarity would've made any difference though; his listening skills are often egregious.

Upon seeing my visage transform into stone fury, Mom said of Dad, "That's typical, if you were wondering."

I hadn't been and it didn't make me feel any better.

In the grand scheme, he only picked an hour later than I would have, but the not-being-listened-to still has me livid. I want to hurl glasses into tree trunks, hear the tinkling smashes, and watch the shards radiate out in all directions until I am spent.

But the trees and the glasses aren't mine, so instead I write, silent, furious, finding a bit of calm grasping for the precise words to describe my mood.

Two years ago at TTaT: Moody, Politeness anyone? No?

26 August 2007

Dream soundtrack

Dream setting: The opening of a new library for an under-privileged elementary school.

Soundtrack: "Oh Yeah" by The Cliks

My immediate family was involved in the final efforts to get the library open. Corporate sponsorship or something. The fifth graders were all excited to be there because they had projects due and needed the resources.

One kid was asking if my father would be back on Monday to help him learn the computers, but I thought we'd be gone by then. Drive-by philanthropy, as it were. But then my Dad said that he would be there.

Some old male principal/school board type was talking to another student when a female cop approached the boy with news about his mother. The old bureaucrat kept on talking, but the two ignored him.

The cop had an x-ray of the boy's mother's skull and was explaining the marks to him. The mother had been attacked, but was going to be all right. I could see the fracture across her cheek and how the break shifted where she had tried to block the blow.

Then the soundtrack swelled into prominence with the boy even singing, "Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah," and "He's not listening, he's not listening..."

Do your dreams have soundtracks? And if so, what do they play?

One year ago at TTaT: Latest guilty pleasure; Saturday, meme? Sure.
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24 August 2007

Roofers, you better be completely done!

After a week long of roofers hammering next door, I am so frakking tired. I looked out the window this morning when they'd been working for maybe an hour and a half and saw that they were finishing up. They totally could've been done yesterday if they'd just worked a half hour longer each day before. Sooner even if they didn't quit after 7 hours. Or they could've just started later...that would've been ok with me.

When I mentioned my irritation to Mom, she kept defending them by saying it was a long day. Um, no. Starting at 6 AM give or take does not make a work day long, it makes it early. Working a lot of hours makes a work day long.

Physically taxing- sure, more than most people's certainly. Just enough with the "long."

Anyway, I've been so grogged today, I keep bashing into things. My shoulder into the pantry door, my arm into a railing, and my forearm into a low bookshelf so hard it left a welt and knicked the skin. Feels weird that my sense of where my body is is off-kilter. I keep not expecting to smash into things, but then I do.

Bed time soon. More ice now.

One year ago at TTaT: When acronyms go B.A.D.
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23 August 2007

Speaking of lawnmowers

A couple weeks ago, I saw the most beautiful, glossy black lawnmower with blue flames running along either side of the chassis casing: a regular hot rod. If I ever end up needing my own riding mower, I want one like that.

One year ago at TTaT: With Pride
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20 August 2007

Knowing better doesn't always prompt appropriate action

I was tired, I knew I was tired, but I was also determined. Sucked into the writers/director commentary for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, I didn't think I had that much longer to go, but I was wrong. The commentary even extended through nearly all the credits. It was almost three when I crawled into bed. I feel wrecked today.

I could finish watching it tomorrow, I'd thought to myself. All I have to do is pick somewhere to stop. Yup, just hit stop. Any time now.

But I didn't, so here we are. For whatever reason, when it comes to sleep, I eschew routine.

My car made some weird sounds the other day, so I'm dropping it off tonight so it can get looked at tomorrow. On the one hand, I don't want to be crazy hearing sounds that will choose not to recur for the mechanics, but on the other, I don't want something serious to be wrong with it.

What I really wanted to do was go up to Best Buy and complete my DVD set of Buffy. Only two seasons to go, and they've got them all on sale for $15.99 this week. With my birthday in almost exactly a month, it's bad form to be buying stuff that'd be on my list, but I have a feeling Buffy would get skipped over anyway. Part of me even wonders how much I want them, if it's just some compulsion in action. In the end, I'd say having them this week is not important to me, but I'd like them sometime and I've never seen a better price for them new.

All right, I should go clear my driver and some other stuff out of my car before I have to drop it off. Here's hoping getting my car fixed doesn't top my birthday wish list.

Two years ago at TTaT: Hamlet was my undoing: Part III
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19 August 2007

Never thought I'd say it...

...but I'm sorry the summer tv season is winding down. I haven't missed any shows from the regular season, cared about their cliffhangers, or found them worth watching in reruns except for a couple of stray episodes.

The Closer, Rescue Me, and Saving Grace have kept me excellently entertained. Doctor Who, Eureka, Psych, and State of Mind have well satisfied my cravings for scifi, silly, and Lili.

I think shorter seasons lend themselves to more dramatic seasonal arcs (of character or story) since they don't have to space it out over ten additional episodes. Leaves me wanting more which I reckon is the idea.

One year ago at TTaT: The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 2
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17 August 2007

So now I should write something

I had some more t-shirt, private vs. public thoughts in mind, but I feel like I covered it succinctly in the comments already.

So how's trix, kids?

Ok, I'll share this. I've been kind of a jerk lately regarding an upcoming family vacation with my parents and my brother's family. My reasons for my lack of enthusiasm are understandable, but I haven't shared them, hence, jerk.

Mostly nothing can/would be done about my reasons, so I'd rather keep them to myself. Passive-aggressive much? Little bit. Some points I'd made in the planning stages were ignored, and they didn't ask for my ok before making reservations. Grr.

One year ago at TTaT: Plans, National Geographic at the iTMS

15 August 2007

Either you get it, or you don't

I like t-shirts with cool, unusual, or varyingly obscure text or imagery on them. Unfortunately, this often prompts strangers to stare at them quizzically and ask me to explain. For years, I have sportingly revealed what the acronym WYSIWYG stands for. However, sometimes that wasn't enough.

Back on a summer Saturday in 1998, I ended up going to Lilith Fair alone, because O got a job on the same day that he needed to take. All our other friends were working that day too; such is a life in film.

O managed to sell his ticket to some random guy over the phone, and rather miraculously, I found him outside of The Rose Bowl on the day of the concert.

Between sets on the main stage, I wandered the outer perimeter looking at booths with info and merch. About ten feet away, I noticed three women staring at me. One approached and asked, "What does that mean?" while pointing at my WYSIWYG shirt.

"Oh." I pointed to the box of small words printed on the bottom right corner of my shirt and read aloud, "What you see is what you get."

"Is that a proposition?"

"Um... no." If I wasn't turning red, it sure felt like I was. "What do you mean?"

She and her friends laughed, and then she said, "Where did it come from?"

"It was a gift."

"No, not the shirt, the acronym."

"Oh. It's a computer term. Like if you're designing a web page, a WYSIWYG editor would let you see what the page would actually look like instead of showing a bunch of code."

"So, you're a web designer?"


"Then why are you wearing that shirt?"

I liked the honest sentiment of What You See Is What You Get, but all in all, it was just a fucking t-shirt, not a big personal statement. At the time, I didn't have the presence of mind to say that however, so I stammered through a convoluted explanation of cameras, lenses, viewfinders, and subjects.

"Are you a photographer then?"

I didn't want to go through another round, so I lied and said, "Yes." For those purposes, it was close enough to the job I was aspiring to at the time: cinematographer.

"That's cool," she said.

"Yeah." I felt drained, anxious and tense; I couldn't take anymore. "Well, see ya," I said and walked away. I made a mental note to kill O for abandoning me to work when I got home.

Last weekend, I was making my way through a massive show of gems, minerals, and fossils when I noticed an older male proprietor reading my KBHR shirt. It says:
57 AM
The Voice Of The Last Frontier


I'd been walking through the show for a couple of hours without a break, and I was beat, so I walked around him to ward off the imminent question. However, my move prompted him to say, "I was just reading your shirt," because he assumed that I thought he was staring at my breasts.

"Ok," I said, walking to the next table. In my peripheral vision, I saw Mom drift over and start explaining my shirt to him, but I just kept moving.

I'm tired of explaining. At some point, either you get it, or you don't. For me, that point is now. So how can I blow off people's t-shirt inquiries without being rude?

A lot of my t-shirts are looking pretty beat these days: faded, frayed collars, small holes forming; I could use some new ones. What to buy though? More question-inducing threads or unapproachable solids?

I never did much care for solids...but I really am tired of explaining.

Two years ago at TTaT: tip of the week- Adult Swim fans
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14 August 2007

Clear sky at last

I had just changed into my pajamas, a t-shirt and boxers, when I remembered the Perseids. The night before, I'd gone out to look twice, but both times clouds covered essentially all of the visible sky from my back porch.

It was just after 2 AM, but I really wasn't tired, so I put on a heavy work shirt and some scuffs and went out on the deck. The sky was clear and full of stars. The air was cool, but I didn't feel cold; it was refreshing.

I sat on an uncomfortable bench, resolving to set up a lounge chair next time, and stared upwards, waiting patiently. After about five minutes, a meteor burned brightly across the sky. That's what I'm looking for, I thought to myself. It had been a really long time since I'd seen a meteor shower. Bad weather, city lights, off time zones, obscured views, and sometimes forgetting to look had all contributed to the hiatus.

A small short streak following a different trajectory appeared and vanished. And then another. When I'd seen five, I thought, I'll go in after seven. Then there were two quick small streaks at the same time. Nine. I'll just wait until I've seen nine. Or maybe ten. But I wanted to end on an odd number.

Between 2:05 and 2:40, I saw eleven; the first was the brightest and longest, enough to reawaken awe in the universe.

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Inadvisable, certainly

Picnics have changed since I was a kid. Once elaborate day-long spreads with lots of people, games, sometimes concerts and fireworks have been reduced to fast food dinners in the car with my folks in a parking lot with a view. I don't actually mind this development. Without the fuss of hauling coolers and baskets, trying to eat while seated on the ground and fending off mosquitoes, I think we're all quite a bit more comfortable, and we enjoy the views often.

The other day we grabbed a bag of chips and some napkins from home, picked up some grinders and drinks along the way, and drove to the lake. The parking lot where we ate was high above the water line. Through the scattered trees, we could see the lake with its far off swimmers, kayaks, jet skis, sail and motor boats, as well as the mountain range beyond.

There are several picnic tables along the hill, and there were a couple of large family gatherings on either side of the stairs down to the waterfront. A boy and his grandfather played frisbee by one group.

When I was done eating, I said, "Let's walk down the stairs and back up again."

Mom said, "Sure." She had already gotten out to throw away her trash. Dad opted to wait in the car to "keep an eye on [Mom's] purse" which I believe was code for wanting a few more chips instead of some exercise.

The concrete steps were steep, so Mom held onto the rail. Instead of a beach, a grassy strip abutted the water. Two girls were swimming, talking, and laughing. An older boy talked to them from the edge, then peeled down to what I supposed was his underwear- a pair of long jersey shorts, and waded in. An old man sat on a folding stool he'd brought with him. Further down the shore, a small group was fishing.

Mom told me about old times when she and a friend used to bring me and their other kids here to swim. There used to be a beach.

On the way back up, I took the stairs two at a time as part of my ongoing effort to strengthen my knees and legs. Mom made steady progress next to the rail, pausing on a couple of landings. I stopped with her each time to take in the view.

When we were near the top, we heard a woman say, "Jimmy, you can't pee uphill. Turn around."

I immediately started scanning our vicinity to make sure we were out of range. "Well, of course you can," Mom said without missing a beat. "You're just going to get your feet wet."

13 August 2007


They say bad news comes in threes. Or is it just deaths? In any case, that's one superstition I've never given much weight until a couple days ago.

In the past 1.5 to 2 weeks, a neighbor and two distant relatives have died. One was so distant I didn't recall ever having heard his name even though I actually met his illegitimate half-sister. The other was a parent's cousin, making him a 2nd or once-removed or something to me, whose name I've always heard said with his wife's: Novel and Newell, Newell and Novel.

Mom asked me, "How do you think you spell Novel?" a few days ago.

I said, "N-O-V-E-L," and then after a pause, added, "L?"

Turns out Novel's name is actually Norvelle even though I've never heard anyone pronounce the R. Apparently neither had my parents since they hadn't known it had an R in it either.

And then, there's next-door Larry. He's turned up in a few stray posts on the blog. I didn't know him well at all. Apparently he served in both WWII and the Korean War, but when I consider his passing, mostly I think there's one less person in the world who can get away with calling me Dear.

Damn, Mom just told me Larry died of esophageal cancer that he didn't know he had. Had he known, there's stuff like selling their house and moving somewhere smaller that he really would've liked to take care of for his wife since she's still alive.

And then, there's my aunt who had a stroke about two weeks ago. She's still in the hospital, I think, but doing ok all things considered. That makes four things though, so maybe there's nothing to bad news occurring in threes after all.

8, huit, ocho, viii, eight, otto

Thanks to Cheryl who tagged me with this 8 Random Facts about Me meme.

1) Post these rules before you give your facts.
2) List eight random facts about yourself.
3) At the end of your post, choose (tag) eight people and list their names, linking to them.
4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they've been tagged.

1. When tied in knots, my hair unravels of its own accord.

2. I once played Horatio.

3. “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.” --Robert Louis Stevenson. Wish I'd said it.

4. I've only ever had one bedroom painted a color of my choosing; I was four and it was red. I'm sure it was painted over long ago, but I miss that room and that house.

5. I pretty much hate buying clothes. It's not that I hate clothes- I just rarely see anything I like, and if I do, it's generally either too expensive or doesn't fit well. So little patience when it comes to clothes shopping.

6. I like disco. You heard me.

7. My screensaver is currently a slideshow of my shots from the beach at Los Osos.

8. I would rather watch Bleach at its regularly scheduled time than an ATHF marathon tonight. Hell, give me a Bleach marathon starting from the beginning, so I can see the episodes I missed.

I'm opting to skip rules 3 & 4, so if you feel like sharing, consider yourself tagged.

Two years ago at TTaT: Absolutely mine, Audioblogging in public (#11)

09 August 2007

A family that oil paints together...

...moves on to acrylics after a slew of brushes get ruined.

What did you expect? I was only five.

I still have my first (and by my recollection, only) oil painting. My brother's is still around somewhere too. I remember that day as being the four of us around the kitchen table painting, but either mom and dad didn't save theirs or I'm remembering it wrong. If the latter, I'm not overly concerned with the truth, because it's a nice memory.

oil painting
What I like so much about this effort is that I still recall what I was trying to accomplish. Rather than attempting to recreate an image from my mind like in later years, I set out to paint a concept. The painting is a fragment of a story, a piece of the beginning which seemed to me essential to portraying the ultimate idea.

At the time, I wasn't satisfied with the outcome, but mom made me feel better by giving my painting a name. Now I like its abstraction because I know what it represents.

Any guesses? Scholiast, surely you've had lots of practice identifying youthful creations.

One year ago at TTaT: The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 1
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07 August 2007


Before I found out that I didn't need to buy a kid's meal from Burger King to get a Simpsons figure, I randomly got Apu whose saying made me laugh. When I discovered the Mr. Burns toy says, "Excellent," I couldn't resist making a special purchase.

Monty's sitting next to the other figures in front of my monitor now. He looms a bit since he's a slightly larger scale and because Chewie and Obi-Wan are seated, but he thinks that's excellent.

Treasure trove

One year ago at TTaT: Purge, The Last Day is just the Beginning (part 1)
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06 August 2007

Defining References

"Do you have a copy of The Bible with you?"

"But, of course," I replied with a grin. "Hang on a sec." I walked over to my toolbox, unfastened the second latch (the first being already open), and lifted the lid. The small dense volume with the green fabric-textured binding was where I always kept it: on the left side of the top tray. The side spill from a 2K blonde glinted off the book's gold title as I handed it to him.

He riffled through the glossy pages until he found the table he needed: Shutter Angle/f.p.s./T-stop change (for 24 or 30 f.p.s. projection).

I remember when I bought the American Cinematographer Manual at Panavision Orlando eleven years ago: they only accepted cash. It was a significant investment for me at eighty dollars, an investment in my future I felt almost sure about. After all, there's really no need to own that bible unless you're a director of photography, or maybe an assistant cameraperson.

I haven't looked at mine in a long time; there's been no need for it, but it still rests in the same place.

On Photography feels like it could be a new bible for me. Something to give me insight into myself, the whys of photographs I take and those I don't. Analytic essays aren't my thing, but I really enjoyed her dissections of various aspects of photography as well as the anthology of quotations at the end of the book.

Familiarity with the works of photographers Sontag mentions is helpful as the book contains no photographs other than those on the cover. These are some of the photographers referred to most often: Diane Arbus, Eugene Atget, Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Stieglitz, and Edward Weston.

10. On Photography by Susan Sontag (4/5)

One year ago at TTaT: The Screws of The Man (part 3)
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04 August 2007

It doesn't seem right, but it's true

When I got up this morning, my hair looked rather good. Upon brushing it, all that was good about it was lost.

One year ago at TTaT: The Screws of the Man (part 2)

02 August 2007


Tracking down songs from tv shows is so much easier now than it used to be. Chances are fair there will even be an ad for the artist's CD at the end of the show. Failing that, there's the show's website, and if the info isn't there, there are probably fans taking up the slack a short google search away.

When I first heard "Skylark," these resources weren't available to me. I cursed episodic tv credits for not including songs used. Sure, it was easy enough to guess the song's title, but it's a jazz standard so there are myriad recordings of it by myriad performers.

My library only had a card catalog in those days, making the search for a particular song difficult. There was no way to easily preview different versions of the song.

I bought Sweet Bitter Love, an album by Aretha Franklin, but the CD didn't have the version of Skylark I was hunting for. I knew her voice well enough that I should've realized that beforehand, nevertheless, Aretha's rendition grew on me over the years.

It came up on shuffle yesterday and re-sparked my old quest. China Beach* is among my all-time favorite tv shows. I thought surely by now, there'd be an episodic guide including Skylark's performer. No luck though.

iTunes didn't help much either with its 150 different Skylark tracks. A couple performers seemed likely, but being over a decade since I last saw that episode, it was hard to be sure. Salvation came from a miraculously available archived review from The New York Times which confirmed for me that Ella Fitzgerald was the performer.

Now I just have to track down that version of Someone to Watch Over Me I like so well. And Baby, It's Cold Outside. And...

*My VHS copies from tv sitting in storage aren't going to hold up forever. Release China Beach on DVD (and don't forget to include some sweet extras and commentaries)!

One year ago at TTaT: The Screws of the Man (part 1)
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